Archive for the ‘ gadgets ’ Category

First apps purchased

Twitter, Frame Calculator, Courier, Sound Cloud

Thanks to the heads up by the people behind Mac Heist, there’s a Super Secret preferences pane just for those who purchased Tweetie that came with the Mac Heist bundle released a year ago. This is to be my first app download from the store.

Tweetie, which was purchased by Twitter is known just as the Twitter app and feels like “a Snow Leopardy” version of Twitter. Great feature is the ability to just start typing to be able to tweet and Growl notifications for the tweets that mention you or direct messages. Much better than sending you every single tweet. Though I wished it had Twitterific’s ability to see public tweets. But I can see on how that can be a problem by the sheer volume of tweets that will be loaded. Available for free on the app store.

Frame Calculator is a great app for those who work with video a lot (attn: film students). It’s a never ending problem on determining how much space your project is going to need. Free on the app store.

Courier is the first app I purchased from the store. I took advantage of the $4.99 (originally $24.99) price tag from Realmac Software to be able to upload media to a variety of sites I choose. There are preconfigured settings for mobileme, facebook, youtube, vimeo, flickr as well as the ability upload to an FTP site or an AmazonS3 account. Just enter your login settings for the desired service, drop the file and send it.

Sound Cloud

Sound Cloud is an app with the main purpose to share sound. Registration and the mac app is free. It gives you the opportunity to discover music or sounds from other people and share it with your friends. It works best via the iPhone app ($1.99) which uses your iPhone as a recorder and send it straight away to the service. The app requires registration via the web prior to use. But with any social service, it’s only good as long as your friends are with you for the ride.

There you have it! The first few apps I’ve tried and so far I’m pleased with what I’ve downloaded. I’m sure there’s more out there. I can’t wait until WWDC 2011 in June.

The only app store you’ll need for your mac

Fire up that software update button and go up to 10.6.6 to be able to access the Mac App store from Apple.

In true Apple fashion it is easy to navigate through the menu. Much like the iTunes store but for apps. All of the iWork, iLife and Aperture apps are available for purchase to download including Remote Desktop. The app is intelligent enough to scan you application folder for the apps but it only works for Apple applications (for now?)

The store is very Apple like. If you know how to buy songs and apps off the iTunes Store, the Mac App store shouldn’t be a problem. Though it seems like the interface is still missing something like a side window for it to really look like the iTunes store.

Could that be in the future? Both the iTunes store and the App store will eventually merge and then iTunes will finally just be about managing your digital assets in your computer? Maybe? I’m just guessing here.

I can see the market that this fills. For those who just bought a mac and are lost with the tens and thousands of applications available including which one is real and which isn’t, this is a great starting point. The Garmin Base Camp app for the mac is a good example of this. I remember eternally searching back and fourth through the Garmin website looking for the app compatible with my mac. I eventually found it but the App store would have saved me hours searching.

Great apps that are already here are the OMNI series (Graffle, Foucs, Plan, Outliner and so on). Most if not all of the apps on the MacHeist bundles of past are also here.

Popular games such as Bejeweled, Angry Brids, and Enigmo are now just a click away. Sorry PvZ (Plants vs Zombies) fans it’s not here (yet).

Paying for these great apps are linked to your Apple store account which is much easier than entering your credit card information every single time or trying to remember your Paypal account. Piracy of apps is also rampant. Developers would be happy about the DRM but according to macnn the DRM has already been cracked. Expect an update to be released very soon.

Will this be the future of buying apps? Yes. It makes it faster and easier for applications to find their customers and vice versa. Physical discs will still be around a little longer. But when this becomes successful, expect all the apps to be delivered this way. But what about applications such as Logic Pro (installation is roughly 90GB) In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time.

My precioussssss!

I finally got my hands on my iPad. I only had to wait 6 days from the time I made the reservation at the store. The odd thing about the iPad is that you can’t pay cash with it. Up until recently.

Anyhow I’ve had the iPad for almost two months now and I must say I don’t know how I was doing without it. I’ve used it in class to hold my presentations and videos as well as the books that I’m currently reading. I go everywhere with it.

When I used to go on trips anywhere I would always lug my 15″ Mac Book Pro which makes traveling a pain sometimes especially when you’re traveling in coach. The carry-on luggage restrictions as well as the weight limit is just not suited for the average business traveller. Not to mention I would also carry my DSLR with me and it would just be a game of chance with the flight attendant.

But now on a recent trip to Singapore, I just carried my carry-on luggage (with all my clothes and personal effects) and a small handbag with my iPod and iPad. It was great! I was zipping through the airport and security with ease. No worry of my clothes being transported off to who knows where and going around the city was a breeze. I could walk the streets without being burdened by 7 pounds of aluminum supercomputer. But instead I carried with me less than 1 pound of connectivity needed for a short trip. I still had room for some food stuffs I always buy in Singapore and was home in no time.

But for longer trips I’m afraid that this will not do. I cannot print my documents directly from it. I cannot import files from external devices directly to it. But I’m sure or at least that is coming in the future. I can however import photos to it but I have yet to acquire the photo connectivity kit.

In the end will it replace my Mac Book Pro? No. But it will make journeys much much lighter and just for that I am glad.

Japanese washing machine and bidet

I’ve been able to do my share of laundry and seen all sorts of laundromats during my time but this takes the cake. I can assume that this is a large heavy duty washing machine where you can select the load on the left side and adjust for time and temperature of the water and start it off on the right. Is that correct?

The toilet is fairly straight forward. I’ve never had much problems with Japanese toilets. But what is the LCD screen for?

Freeware PS3 Media Server

ps3mediaserver – Project Hosting on Google Code

If you’re like me who doesn’t own a PC to stream media to the PS3 then this free alternative is a good idea. It runs on macs, PCs and Linux and developed on the Java platform.

It’s fairly simple to use if you know your way around media servers but to put it simply, it gets the job done. I’m using my mac mini  ( not the latest but the first generation intel Mac mini with 2 GB of RAM to do this. It automatically sets up the DNLA protocols necessary to communicate with the PS3 and automatically sets the movie folder in your home folder as the default source for the media. You can add additional folders as well.

But what makes this piece of software great is the transcoding. Up until now, we’ve always been dependent on the formats that the consoles supported and it hasn’t been easy. Not all avi files would play, incompatible condec and so on that it’s been quite a challenge to play anything off a home media server to the PS3 but it all changes with this software and it’s built in transcoder.

Yes folks it has a built in transcoder which will allow you to transcode in almost faster than real time any format to make it PS3 friendly.  That means all your mkv, avi, ogg, and so on will be transcoded in almost real time. Note that I stress almost real time. This is because results may vary on the processor, RAM and so on of your computer and may either be faster or slower.

Sound transmitted supports dolby digital or whatever audio encoding is in your files. Scrubbing through the movie may prove to be difficult for some formats since I’ve stated above that it may or may not be transcoding. This means that if the file is being transcoded, chances are you can’t skip any further than what has already been transcoded. So be warned. A mild inconvenience but nothing that should seriously affect the overall experience.

The PS3 automatically detects the presence of the media server and everything can be accessed from there. The one amazing thing I’m very very much impressed here is tha ability to select language. Yes I do mean the audio language of the file. The file format mkv is used mostly if there are multiple languages in the file. It’s like the DVD language menu option but can usually only be controlled or watched on a PC. PS3 Media Server ia able to dissect through the language options and send that information to the PS3 which will allow you to select your desired language.

The best part of this, it’s free. Yes, click on the link above to bring you to the developer’s page and download away. I do hope that they continue to develop and support this important piece of software and keep it free.

Kindle comes to the PC

As more and more ebook services and devices are coming out. Amazon has
released the PC version of their famous Kindle. This now allows users
to read their ebooks on their desktop of laptop computer. It makes sens
doesn’t it? There the device and the iPhone version and now you can
read books on your computer.

Mac users are out of luck at the moment but the FAQs give mac users hope.

The desktop software also allows you to manage your books and download them accordingly.

Much similar to the iPod setup, you can have 6 devices registered with Amazon.

And the great thing is, the service is available where they ship the Kindle. But we still have to see if the $2 levy will be subtracted for users outside the US. The $2 is the charge for the delivery of the book via AT&T’s 3G network. Understandably that the user carries the cost of transmission outside the US. But I don’t think that this should be added to purchases or deliveries made to the PC.

Could Amazon be banking on the millions of netbooks out there to be transformed by their software into ebook readers? Maybe. But this really provides them an opportunity to gain a very strong foothold as Barnes and Noble’s “nook” reader is a much better reader than the Kindle technically. Since Amazon cannot change their device overnight, this PC application might be a way to get users into their gates before B&N does.

But I still stand on opinion that all ebooks should be playable on any device regardless on where you bought it. Much like a real book. I don’t need some special tree or binding or glasses to read books that I bought from Amazon, Borders or even B&H. I can just open it and read it. I think that is the reason why many people aren’t entirely sold on the book thing since the only advantage is that you get the book instantly and you don’t have to bring a lot when traveling.

I see this application caters more on those who want to try out the Kindle service without having to shell out for the hardware but just want the buying and using experience and I don’t have an iPhone or and iPod Touch to be able to do it. Yes the screen would be bigger but all but the usual strain on the eyes due to prolonged reading on a monitor still remains. My best bet would be to install this on a netbook and then you’ll almost have the Kindle experience.

If you don’t have an iPod or iPhone but would want to try the ebooks from Amazon, then this is the software for you. It’s free and just create an account to get started. I do hope that they release a mac version soon.

Japanese water heater and rice cooker

How hard can it be to heat water in Japan? Which button would you press? ;P

Or cook rice?…Sooo which is the rice cooker and which is the water heater? I’m so confused. ><

Seen in Macau: LED Billboards

Seen in Macau: LED Billboards, originally uploaded by mdelamerced.

Not too far from the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral is this LED

Super sized Nintendo DSi

Nintendo announced a few days ago a new extra large DSi. It will be first released in Japan with other regions to follow in 2010. It is originally meant for “older” gamers who want a bigger screen to read and more space to use the stylus.

The DSi LL is about and inch larger than the current DSi. I guess the bigger screen also does not help with the battery life either as the the DS Lite still has the longest playtime for the handheld. Notice the bigger stylus. Now it really looks like a pen.

Judging from the screenshots, the bigger screen seem to have better graphics than it’s predecessor.

But I also know that the graphics are originally made for a specific resolution. Thus any graphical improvement if any is limited to the size of the displayed image and not from the image itself. In short, the bigger screen will not improve the quality of the graphics. Think of it like you just zoomed in an image and you’re seeing the bigger pixels.

Will I get one? I think not. If you already own the previous incarnations of the DS then there is no need to pick this one up. Unless you want to get your parents or grandparents a DS then this should be the right thing. But then there’s the issue of the cost. In Japan, the DSi LL will set you back ¥ 20,000 ($220 USD, or Php 10,000++). This practically puts it in the same price range as the PSP Go which retails at ¥ 26,800. Unless Nintendo phases out and drops the price on this thing I may even consider a purchase. But still, I’m still very happy with my battered DS Lite which I got a while back and the DSi doesn’t have anything that interests me right now.

I’ll wait until my current DS (knocks on wood) to die before I even think about picking this one up or if they release something so earthshaking on the DSi platform that I really must have. I think this is a safe step up for Nintendo by giving more of the same features as the original DS but incrementally adding features to keep a new crowd interested. Much like what Apple does with the iPod.

The Nintendo DS LL will be released on November 21 in Japan and early 2010 in North America and other territories.

The “Nook” is impressive

Barnes and Noble today launched their ebook competitor to Sony and Amazon called the “Nook”. And I’m impressed. The photo from Gizmodo in my rumor blog about it last week was the real thing.

Priced at $259, the same as the international edition of the Kindle 2 and the big things about it is the WiFi, color touchscreen and mini SD card support is great. They even provided a good comparison chart on how it stands against the Kindle.

It’s important to note that the Nook first creates an environment to enhance the book buying, bookstore and reading experience rather than trying to replace the dead tree books that we usually buy. You read through entire books while inside the actual Barnes and Noble bookstore which is something that you might do in real life. You can share your books with friends digitally which is something that you would do in real life.

The touch screen is a good addition but colored? I know we like to look at our book covers in color but is it really necessary? I would have preferred that the screen is colored. Particularly with books that have colored pictures to be digitally viewable in colored as well in the Nook.

For overseas users who want an ebook reader when we travel or when we live in other places outside the United States are out of luck. The Nook is just for the U.S. (for now I hope). You cannot purchase books via WiFi outside the US. The Nook uses AT&T’s 3G network so there may be hope for the rest of us living outside the US much like the Kindle.

The Nook only has 10 days of battery life compared to the Kindle’s 14. If Apple is indeed at work on a similar device it should either provide a strong argument why the battery doesn’t last for days or the technology behind it allows it to last for days.

The Nook supports various formats that you can put in a 16GB mini SD card including mp3s. It does not support text to audio like the Kindle which got Amazon into some trouble when it was released.

The Nook supports pdf, jpg, gif, png bmp, mpdf, ePub and PDB file formats. You do not have to email these documents for the provider to send it back to you for a nominal fee to be able to read it on the Nook. These can all be done by the user. Yay!

This might not be the perfect eReader out there. But it is a good first step in the right direction. Now I wish all the ebooks are published in a common format that will allow me to buy books from any digital storefront and get the book I want at the lowest price available. That would be something. Especially when we are given the opportunity to write our own books and publish it ourselves. Now that would be totally amazing.

The logo just looks a bit off for me. It looks more like a horseshoe at first glance. Very tempting to buy, but I’ll hold off until I see that device from Cupertino.