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Showing posts from June, 2007

iPhone: first impressions

In case you had not heard, the folks who camped out for days to get their hands on the new iPhone sort of wasted their time: unlike the Nintendo Wii, Apple was prepared for the demand. So much so, that today, I wandered over to the Apple store, where I was easily able to get my hands on an actual iPhone to play with (along with dozens of other people). The good: This thing is the ultimate of small and large. The body is incredibly slim and the size is extremely small, smaller than my Treo, or even my old Palm TX. The screen is startlingly large, especially for movies. There is no obvious bezel, so this baby is all screen. The UI is amazing. The perfect Apple UI, it's sexy, responsive, and unbelievably cool. Transitions, scrolling, fonts: this device just screams craftsmanship. The phone is extremely great. Call quality is excellent, UI is superb, and address book integration is stunning. And that's not even mentioning the elegant touch of blanking the screen when you hold it

We now live in an iPhone world

Yep, it's official: Mr. Jobs owns our souls. After yesterday's frenzied national campout, the iPhone is no longer a fantasy. Rather than regale you with a recap of the festivities, check out Google News' coverage. And no, I did not wait in line for one. I might peep one today, but we'll see.

Farewell to NFL Europe

After a decade and a half, the NFL has finally given up on its minor league, NFL Europe, and pulled the plug. What started out as a spring league for those die hard football fans who wanted to see genuine professional football had morphed into a late night, low quality product that even the NFL was ashamed to show on its own network. Thus, we bid a fond farewell to NFL Europe. It started as the WLAF: World League of American Football. A strange combination of teams: half in North America in non-NFL cities like San Antonio (Go Riders!) and Montreal (Mean Machine!), with stalwarts of spring leagues (Birmingham, Orlando). The other half were in Europe: the London Monarchs, Frankfurt Galaxy, and Barcelona Dragons, for instance. Quality was good: supplemental NFL players, all trying to make teams, with quality coaches (Jack Bicknell, former Boston College head coach, and Doug Flutie's mentor, coached the Dragons), but it was so odd to have this spread out league, it never quite caught o

Lock your Windows computer with a click

Pretty slick and simple walkthrough on creating a desktop shortcut to lock your Windows computer with a simple double click. Easy. Should be built in.

Chumby: Almost Here

A year ago, Widgets and the Real World were announced to finally be married: Chumby was coming to the market. A perfect device, Chumby was billed as the ultimate bedside companion/office clock, with built in WiFi, "squeeze sensors," and, most importantly, complete support for almost all the widgets you could imagine. Picture a device that sits by your bed, and downloads your favorite RSS feeds, wakes you up with any song form your music library, shows you the weather, and more. The Web was abuzz with excitement. A year later, and we are still Chumbyless. But help is on the way! TechCrunch reports that Chumby is due out in just a couple of months , and will sell for $180. While I'm thrilled to see Chumby coming to market (probably about the time the next round of iPhone shipments will finally arrive, that $180 price point is pretty hard to take for what is essentially an uberclock. I was hoping for the magical $99 price point, but alas, I am out of luck. If you're stil

The iPhone Campout Begins

You know it's going to be a zoo when AT&T stores send out memos telling their staff how to deal with the landlords and the expected crowds of people camping out for their iPhones. Side note: Port-A-Potty companies expect their stock to skyrocket. ;-)

Candy Heaven

Powell's Sweet Shoppe in Novato is a temple in homage to Candy. Complete with a Willy Wonka mini theater and candy you can't believe is still made, its worth the trip.

A Bizarre Challenger to the Madden Throne

Why do hot dogs come in packages of 10, but buns in packages of 8? Why do gas stations display their prices in 9/10 of a cent? Why do major airlines insist on charging more money for a one-way ticket than a round trip? These are some of the major annoyances in life, but none tops one of my personal pet peeves: Why do the makers of football games for consoles (PS, XBox, etc.) not make the rosters able to be updated over the Internet? The answers to all of the above, of course, is to make more money . In the case of the last example, it's particularly galling. Electronic Arts, makers of the venerable Madden franchise of football video games, has been doing this since 1988. See, Madden costs about $60. Every August, video gamers who are football fans (like myself) pony up the bucks. What do we get in return? Gee-whiz new features, like NFL Network play by play, or a new and improved "build your own superstar" subplot. But what we all really are paying for is the updated rost

Studio 60: RIP

Alas, the rumors are true. While Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip was a welcome addition to my DVR, NBC clearly felt there were not enough like me. As a result, while spared the ignominious end of outright cancellation, the show has not been renewed by NBC. Sure, it gives the outside chance that another network could pick it up (CBS? Hell, how about the UPN/WB merged channel?), but it's not likely. The good news is that, as it is not officially cancelled, the rest of this season's episodes continue to air. And it's interesting: as with all Aaron Sorkin shows, it takes a little while for the cast to gel. They are just starting to, and the results are the trademark banter and repartee that don't seem forced anymore, or just a rehash of West Wing. Nonetheless, I will savor the great chemistry of the key players (whoever thought I would actually like Amanda Peet?), and see the show off into the Sunset Strip, with the hopes of seeing it, a la Deadwood , sometime in the futur

A bike, coffee...and a cupholder?

Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard enough time pedaling. Yes, I miss my morning coffee, but this seems like an accident waiting to happen.

Richard is BACK!

The man who invented the gadget craze of the 80's and 90's is back. After being ousted at The Sharper Image, get ready for , a bare-bones gadget e-commerce site that looks like TSI-lite for product and 1996 for design. The Marin IJ has some even handed coverage of it, but this little snippet from the web said it best: "Sometimes successful company founders should know when to fold them. Case in point is Richard Thalheimer who founded Sharper Image and has now founded an eCommerce site called Richard Solo that painfully displays that Thalheimer doesn't understand modern eCommerce....Richard Solo is an ugly site that has now competitive advantages. You can find better prices on Amazon, eBay or Froogle and you can discover cooler gadgets via Gizmodo or Engadget. We almost feel sorry for the guy, trying to stick it to his old company but making an inept attempt at it." Ouch. Well, don't count him out, yet. This is a man who's business was supp

JetBlue: keeping you informed

Nice touch at JetBlue's JFK: a live map, showing the positions of inbound flights and weather conditions. Keeps travelers knowing what's going on.

Use your Treo as a Modem for your Laptop

While I'm on the road, I use my laptop vigorously. I choose hotels based on their WiFi coverage and inclusiveness. This trip, I noticed my email from my corporate server can be downloaded, but not sent. Why? My IT guy reports that many WiFi ISP's block port 25, to prevent spammers from " wardriving ," finding a free hotspot, and blasting away. So, thanks to Palm, Bluetooth, and my Treo, I wired up to my Treo 680 as it's own Bluetooth hotspot. Sure, it's no WiFi, but my mail gets out. Damn, that was easy.

Google: Evil is in the Eye of the Publisher

A rather amusing tale of someone who finds Google's "Do no Evil" mantra a bit disingenuous. For some time, Google has been introducing Book Search, digitizing libraries to try to create a digital books market. Sounds fine, but when your entire book can be slurped up by Google and read by anyone, for free, copyright owners get a bit piqued. Google responds that won't refrain from stealing the content unless they get a specific notice from the copyright owner: in essence, putting the onus on the "victim." Well, Richard Charkin decided to let Google see what it was like for them to experience the same. At the recent BookExpo, he calmly walked up to Google's booth, and helped himself to two laptops, something Google employees working the booth did not notice for more than an hour. As he put it: "Our justification for this appalling piece of criminal behaviour? The owner of the computer had not specifically told us not to steal it. If s/he had, we would

The Cult of Dunkin' Donuts

I'm sitting in a crappy Long Island hotel, nearly 2am, with the dual effects of steamy summer fog clinging to me as only the East Coast has to offer, trying to catch up on work. Yes, this is the joy of business travel. But, although nearly every factor should leave me aggravated, tired, and cranky, I'm suspiciously happy. Why? Two words: Dunkin' Donuts. Yep, I'm back among the land of the worst coffee and exceptional pastries. The world where a lahge regulah means something, and a chocolate donut is not a dry cakey pastry, but a wonder to be slowly, orgasmically consumed. I'm not alone; seems there is an entire sub-culture of DD fans out there, and most, like me, were raised in Boston. Having been a San Francisco resident for over a decade, I do not miss much about the other Bay State, but Dunkin' Donuts is still a major loss (there's not a single one in Northern CA). By the way, two Boston area icons helped me realize this tonight. First, the link above co

Frak Me: The Cylons Finally Won

Battlestar Galactica (the current, SciFi Channel version, not the original ABC series) is jumping off into the end of its flight. Next season will be the last of the successful remade series, according to its producers, as they feel "This show was always meant to have a beginning, a middle and finally, an end." As an incredible fan of the original series (I own the boxed DVD set: the Cylon holographic eye box is the best - thanks Lani & Pete!), I greeted the remake with a large degree of disgust and trepidation (Starbuck is a woman? Cylons look human?). I was amazed to find that it was incredible, with breathtaking effects, great storyline, and a gritty realism that few science fiction series have ever pulled off. I was hooked. Over the last seasons, however, I have been more and more turned off by the storylines: clearly, Ronald Moore (formerly of Star Trek TNG , etc.) was trying to make the series parallel current events. Occupations and their resistance, how to deal

Make your Smartphone Smarter

This week, Palm attempted to prove they are still relevant in the mobile computing space with a newly announced device. Foleo is, in essence, a halfway device: it's not a laptop, nor is it a smartphone. Instead, its a slim, sleek instant-on device that is designed to pair seamlessly with your smartphone to provide laptop-like functionality. The idea is that there are times you need a full keyboard and a larger screen to use, but rather than invest in a separate laptop (with Windows bloatware and laptop weight), this device relies on your nearby smartphone to provide it with connectivity. Positives: The "instant on" is immediately appealing. Hell, most of the time, my laptop at work stays on the desk, as waiting for it to come out of sleep mode in a meeting seems to make Windows behave like a bear roused early from hibernation. It is definitely a minimalist device: good for travelers, for instance, who just want to watch a movie, catch up on email, or take notes in meeting