Updates Rumored for Pro Apps and MacBooks at WWDC

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 21st, 2009, 23:05
Category: Rumor

According to 9to5 Mac, Apple plans to introduce minor updates to the MacBook line as well as some significant updates to Final Cut Pro, Aperture, Logic, and Shake.

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There has been some speculation in the last few months, fueled by rumors, that AT&T may be subsidizing MacBooks in much the same way as the iPhone due to built-in 3G connectivity. I am putting this rumor into the “unlikely” column, but 9to5 Mac’s sources suggest the laptop updates may be more than just speed-bumps. This could include changes to the battery, such as making it non-removable. I will want to be out of town if that announcement hits the floor to avoid the rioting.

I for one don’t see Apple handing over any control of the sale of their computers, but stranger things have happened. There are almost 2 more months before WWDC kicks off, so plenty of time for more rumors to bounce around the internet. I think we all agree that a new iPhone (or 3) will be announced, but how about a netbook? Send us your thoughts in the forums!

Adium beta Includes Twitter Connectivity

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 21st, 2009, 22:06
Category: Mac, Software
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The Adium folks have been hard at work and one of the new features slated for version 1.4 is accessing Twitter accounts. That should come as no surprise considering the explosion of Twitter popularity and the development of software to access the service. As Zack West of the Adium blog put it:

“For well over a year now, Twitter has been an often-requested addition to our repertoire of services. As a user of the service I absolutely understand. The current base of Twitter clients often leave something to be desired, behave in a weird way, or just add an additional application you need to keep open.”

You will be able to open your Twitter timeline in a separate “group chat” window and people you are following will be displayed in a contact list. According to the blog, nearly all the usual features will also be there, such as looking up someone’s info, following and unfollowing, and adding images to Twitpic.

For more information, follow the blog, or download the nightly beta and try it out for yourself. I’m sure they’d love some feedback.

Now if they could just get video working, I could dump iChat!

Tweetie for Mac Coming Soon!

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 17th, 2009, 18:15
Category: Software

Who would have thought such a simple thing would become such a huge phenomenon? In a matter of months, it seems like Twitter has become a household name and “the next big thing”? You know it must be big, even Oprah is on Twitter now. News even broke that Ashton Kutcher beat out CNN to be the first to reach 1 million followers, as reported by PCWorld. Twitter is even being used to report the news, gaining popular exposure earlier this year for being used to document a Denver plane crash.
As an avid Twitter user myself (I have four accounts), it took me a while to find the perfect Twitter client on the iPhone for my needs. After trying out several, the winner, hands-down, turned out to be Tweetie.
Lately, I have been faced with the same dilemma for managing Twitter on the Desktop. There are variations for every workflow, from the simplicity of Twangle and Twitterific, to more full-featured clients that manage several different types of social networks such as Seesmic Desktop and TweetDeck. I’ve been trying them all. A recent favorite is Nambu.
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About a week ago from behind a curtain came the announcement from Loren Brichter, developer of Tweetie for the iPhone, that a Desktop client for the Mac was in development. Yesterday, a preview of the new software was showcased in a screencast.
WOW! I expected something good since I am a cheerleader for the iPhone version, but Tweetie for Mac pulls out all the stops. From the features, to the cool, GUI animations, this looks like a real Mac application that is as much fun to watch as to use. I really hope it has multiple account support and hooks into some other social networks, but I already can’t wait for it’s release on Monday to try it out. I may have found my default desktop Twitter app.

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Apple Stores May Switch To iPhone Software for In-store Purchases

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Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 13:16
Category: Apple, Retail Store

With the release of iPhone 3.0 enabled hardware and software, Apple may be planning a switch from its EasyPay handheld devices to iPhones for checking out customers at their retail stores.

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An AppleInsider report speculates that Apple may be planning to move away from the current Windows Mobile-based PDAs in favor of iPhones or iPod Touches using credit card scanners enabled by the new 3.0 software which allows devices connected to the 30-pin dock connector to finally talk to applications.

Apple has reportedly had issues with the EasyPay system in the past, resulting in checkout delays and frustrated customers. Overall, however, the mobile checkout system has worked out well for the retail stores which were reported to average 3.6 million visits per week during Apple’s December financial conference call. Developing its own point of sale system around the iPhone could be costly, but would allow Apple Stores to show off the versatility of their mobile hardware.

It is interesting to note that in the current batch of Apple’s iPhone commercials, one of the highlighted apps is CCTerminal which allows you to process credit card transactions online using an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Thanks to Chuck Freedman for bringing this to my attention, although I’ve actually been musing about this possibility since the 3.0 sneak peek. Yes, I do spend too much time at the Apple Store.

This Is Only A Test

Posted by:
Date: Saturday, April 11th, 2009, 17:08
Category: Uncategorized

I’m using strongMarsEdit/strong to help troubleshoot some editor issues I have been seeing with the new strongPowerPage/strong web site. I have noticed that there are occasionally some link issues, at least with MarsEdit, which I may have to bring up with the developer.

img src=”http://www2.powerpage.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/resizedimage368447-journalism.jpg” alt=”ResizedImage368447-Journalism.jpg” border=”0″ width=”100″ height=”121″ align=”right” /

The trick now is to see if the tags and image links work correctly with alignment, etc. One of the advantages of a href=”http://www.wordpress.org”WordPress/a is the ability to use offline editors like MarsEdit.

There have been a couple of updates to MarsEdit recently which might have improved compatibility with WordPress 2.7, so maybe emthat/em will solve all the issues.

Review: USB Squid at ThinkGeek

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 18:26
Category: Hardware, Review

If you are like me and own a MacBook Air, you find out pretty quickly that one USB port is often not enough. Almost everything requires a USB port, Ethernet, CDs and DVDs, thumb-drives, and external hard drives. Since I often prefer a wired connection when I can, for the extra speed (yes, still faster than wireless), I have to use Apple’s USB Ethernet adapter. If I need to plug in anything else, I loose my network connection. I soon grew tired of this and went looking for a solution.
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And I found it at ThinkGeek! They sell a device called the USB Squid which was the perfect solution and works great! Basically its a USB 2.0 compatible splitter. You plug one end into your computer of choice, and it offers four USB jacks on the other end. As ThinkGeek points out, “The USB Squid is not a real squid, as squids have 8 legs and 2 tentacles. Heck, it’s not even an octopus – they have 8 arms. The USB Squid has four arms, so it’s sort of more a quadropus.”
Unlike other tiny USB hubs I looked at, the USB Squid doesn’t require an external power supply. Obviously it won’t work if you device needs something other than bus power, but all of my everyday devices worked fine with the Squid. The four jacks also have interlocking ridges on the outside in case you want to “hook” the plugs together into a vertical or horizontal block, but I found that the moulding was a little inconsistent and sometime the plugs didn’t remain attached to one another. A minor quibble in my opinion.
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The USB Squid is manufactured by a company called Buffalo in China, but there is no way to tell what they call the device since the package is covered only in Chinese characters and no English (except for a reference to “Windows Vista”), as it is something ThinkGeek imports for sale in the US. The USB Squid is 11″ long (from plug to hub) and is currently in stock and $19.99 at ThinkGeek. If you occasionally need an extra USB port and have a little space in your kit bag, I highly recommend grabbing one of these.

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Apple Discontinues .Mac Groups and Homepage…Again?

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Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 01:25
Category: MobileMe

Apple today sent MobileMe subscribers notices informing them that their .Mac Groups and the HomePage web application would be discontinued as of July 7th, 2009. According to the email notices, “As of this date, all Groups features – including your group email address, group HomePage, message board, and iDisk “Groups” folder – will no longer be available.”
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The email also links to this FAQ regarding the discontinuation of services, which is the original FAQ created the first time the services were slated to close down except for the addition of the July 9th date. The original shutdown date was October 10, 2008. While the Groups and HomePage application were thought to have been shut down since last October, files were still accessible by members. There is no indication in the notices regarding the reason it is being sent out again, or why services may not have been completely shut down after the October date.
The messages do state that current web sites published with HomePage will still be available via the web indefinitely, but that changes will not be possible after July 7th. If you would like to speculate what is going on, discuss it in the forums.

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Seesmic Releases Preview of Seesmic Desktop

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Date: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009, 17:22
Category: Software

Yesterday during a live presentation event, mirrored on Ustream, Seesmic demonstrated and released a preview version of their new social network gateway application, Seesmic Desktop.
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Seesmic is best known for their video, social networking service where users can exchange or broadcast video messages from their computer. Seesmic is also responsible for developing Twhirl, running on the Adobe Air platform, which allows management of their Seesmic videos as well as other social networks such as Twitter, FriendFeed, and Identi.ca in a single desktop application. Using Adobe Air allows Seesmic Desktop (and Twhirl) to run on any system capable of running the Air platform and provides feature parity, a definite plus for a small software company. The software should run on OS X, Windows 98, and Windows Vista. Support for Ubuntu is hopefully coming soon.
Tuesday night from their San Francisco location, Loic Le Meur, founder of Seesmic, demonstrated the new application that the company has been working on and describing the plans for the software. Seesmic Desktop will be eventually replacing Twhirl, but all of the features from the latter will be migrated to Seesmic Desktop. Le Meur stated that due to the small size of the company, it did not make sense to split their resources to maintain both applications. The preview version, released to members of Team Seesmic right after the demo, currently only manages multiple Twitter accounts, but other services will be added soon.
Thomas Knoll, Seesmic’s Community Advocate, explained that there is much to do, but that they had decided that they wanted to get the software into people’s hands to “kick the tires” and get suggestions for which features to prioritize. Thomas says that the objective of Seesmic Desktop is not just to act as a social service aggregator, but to eventually leverage features that will allow users to manage “communities” within all of their networks.
If you want to get your hands on the preview, go to the Seesmic web site and sign up for Team Seesmic. You will also need to install Adobe Air for your system.

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App Store Number Finally Reaches 77

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 6th, 2009, 13:37
Category: App Store, Apple

On March 17, Apple announced that the App Store would be available for iPhone/iPod Touch customers in 77 countries. Through the end of March, the count stayed at 62, but finally over the April 4th weekend the additional 15 countries appeared on iTunes.

The 15 additional countries are as follows:

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  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Kazakstan
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Macau
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Nicaragua
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay

The Italian site setteB.IT reports that this works out to potentially 161.8 million new customers for Apple, the App Store, and software developers. Of the 15 countries, Kazakstan is the only one where the iPhone 3G is not available yet. The countries where the iPhone 3G is available but without an App Store are: Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Montenegro, Niger, Reunion (France) and Senegal.

The original article can be read (translated from Italian) here.

AT&T planning changes to forbid video streaming, filesharing, and data tethering

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 3rd, 2009, 15:04
Category: Mobile, News, Services

AT&T appears to be changing its Terms of Service to limit data usage on its network. The new restrictions seems specifically aimed at several services that have already been available to current AT&T customers, especially iPhone users (but not stated as such).

The terms describe that accessing email and the internet is permissible, but prohibits:

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[...] downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, customer initiated redirection of television or other video or audio signals via any technology from a fixed location to a mobile device, web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices is prohibited. Furthermore, plans(unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to computer accessories, Bluetooth® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose.

The change has seemingly been put in place on the heels of the recent release of the Skype iPhone app. While Apple itself stated it would not block VOIP applications on the iPhone, it has long been speculated what AT&T would do once those apps made it to the iPhone. Several apps like Fring and TruPhone already had hooks into Skype, but didn’t appear to attract any response from AT&T.

The current description of the restrictions is pretty wide, touching on several iPhone applications that facilitate filesharing and video streaming, which would cover software like SlingMedia’s upcoming SlingPlayer iPhone app. Where is all this headed? As devices become more internet enabled, phone companies seem determined to strangle their functionality rather than improve their level of services so that people will want to buy them.

Is AT&T being greedy, trying to slow people down until they can develop their own service plans, or are they like the record companies who just can’t see the writing on the wall? Discuss in the forums!