Microsoft finally patching up Skype message sync problems

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 14th, 2014, 09:14
Category: Announcement, Microsoft, Software

skypeiconFor some time since Microsoft acquired Skype, the conferencing and messaging software, users have been plagued by messages that won’t sync from one device to another. Additional problems included delayed notifications of new messages or notification of messages that have already been read. Anyone who used iMessages in its early days will recall similar, frustrating issues with Apple’s internet chat service.

(more…)

Follow up on the Pebble appstore

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 11th, 2014, 21:24
Category: Accessory, App Store, Apple, Apps, Consumer Electronics, iOS, iPhone, Review, Software, Software, The Apple Core, Wearables

Pebble_new_appiconEarlier, I reported on my first impressions of the Pebble appstore and the new app for iOS. There have been a few changes that I wanted to post about. As it happens, Pebble posted an update to the iOS app yesterday, version 2.0.1, which lists the changes as; “More Javascript apps included!” and “Fixed a number of crashes”. Before that was released, however, I noticed something that addressed one of my previous concerns. Now, among the links at the bottom of each app description, you can now ‘Email Developer For Support’ which opens a new message in the Mail app. This was something apparently added to the server side of things after my original review since I noticed the option before the update.

 

Pebble_dev_contact

(more…)

Amazon has a plan to get into the mobile payments game

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 7th, 2014, 09:32
Category: Amazon, Finance, Mobile, retail, Services

amazon-logo-150x150It looks like Amazon is determined to expand out of the “virtual” retail space to get its foot in the door of brick-and-mortar stores. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has plans to0 equip retailers with Kindle tablets with credit card readers for accepting payments, possibly in exchange for web site development and data analysis. Trying to push its way into traditional retail spaces means Amazon will be pitting itself against much larger companies that provide checkout and POS (Point Of Sale) systems to large retailers, which may require Amazon to turn to smaller businesses. Even there, they are competing with companies like Square Inc., who have a big head start in that space. Amazon does have the benefit of allowing retailers that partner with them to offer promotions or discounts through Amazon.com or its Amazon Local daily deals offers. Amazon has a steep hill to climb, but Richard Crone who is chief executive of Crone Consulting, a payments advisory firm, makes a good point;

“At the end of the day, a merchant wants to make a sale, to drive up business. And if Amazon or anyone else can help them do that, that’s tough to turn away,”

Amazon will also be in a race with Apple, who is reportedly preparing its own blitz into the mobile payments game, offering the convenience of millions of customers with iPhones with the advantages of the iBeacon system. Even Amazon knows it’s not a sure thing. The WSJ mentions that, “Amazon’s plans remain fluid and the project might be delayed, altered or canceled, they said.”.

Review: First impressions of Pebble 2.0 and the appstore

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 7th, 2014, 08:40
Category: Accessory, Apps, Consumer Electronics, Gadget, iOS, iPhone, Review, Software, Software, The Apple Core, Wearables

pebble-ios-7I’ve had a few days to work with the updated 2.0 firmware on the Pebble smartwatch and the updated iOS app which now features the new appstore. As far as app and watch face management go, the new iOS app is a huge improvement, but the appstore component still needs a bit of work. If you want to see a video about setting up a Pebble with the new iOS app plus a look at the new Pebble Steel (still saving up for mine), head over to the Apple Core where Jason O’Grady does an unboxing walk-through with Pebble’s latest product.

Hit the break for the rest of my look at the software side of the Pebble.

(more…)

Tired of using English on your Mac? Try Klingon!

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 6th, 2014, 09:44
Category: Desktop Mac, Fun, How-To, User Interface

Klingon_EmpireI ran across this tidbit on FairerPlatform, but I really should have already known this already (shame on me). Among the many languages your Mac can support and display, such as Latvian, Russian, and Swahili; believe it or not, it can also do Klingon, the well known warrior race from Star Trek. To use the Klingon language on your Mac, go to System Preferences > Language & Region and, under the “Preferred Languages” box, click the “+” (plus) button. Then scroll down, until you find “tlhlngan Hol” (Klingon). Then select it and click add. The Mac will ask if you want to use Klingon or English as the primary language. Before that, however, you’ll need to download the appropriate fonts to install on your computer. Just make sure you know how to actually read Klingon or know your way back to the language preferences first. If you want to learn Klingon, you can find a number of books on the subject on Amazon, and there are even Klingon dictionary apps for your iPhone on the App Store. FairerPlatform also found a link to a review for a Klingon keyboard, but apparently they were all recalled to the home planet of Qo’noS, because they can no longer be found anywhere (probably in part because it could only use a PS2 port). Don’t expect the PowerPage to go Klingon, at least not for another 250 years or so.

Qapla’!

Pebble debuts its new appstore later today

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 3rd, 2014, 09:38
Category: Accessory, Announcement, App Store, Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone, Software, Wearables

Pebble_notificationsLast Friday, via its Twitter account, Pebble announced that the release date for the new Pebble appstore would be today, Feb 3rd, at 10 AM PST. So, only a few hours to go until Pebble owners can start playing with the new goodies. The announcement indicates that only the iOS update to the Pebble companion app would be released today, with an Android update arriving soon. For those already using a Pebble smartwatch with their iPhone, you should see the update appearing in the iOS App Store app, ready for download, or automatically installed if you have background updating enabled.

(more…)

Acquisitions and the annoyance of abandoned apps

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 31st, 2014, 13:00
Category: App Store, Apple, Apps, Business, Developer, Google, iPhone, Opinion, Services, Software

pirate_skull_crossbones_square_sticker-r77418cb09c3345e7b8854da982e2526a_v9wf3_8byvr_512Yahoo! has just acquired Incredible Labs, which developed the Donna personal assistant app for iPhone. The latest update on the Donna blog makes it clear what the fate of the app and service will be;

“The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close shortly. Following closing, Donna will be removed from the app store and discontinued as a service.”

No date has been given, but they are likely to follow the model where users will be given a window of a few months in order migrate their data and find a new solution. I’m not personally a user of Donna, however if I was I’d be pretty upset.

(more…)

Facebook launches Paper app on Feb 3rd

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 30th, 2014, 09:50
Category: App Store, Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone, Social, Software, User Interface

facebook-appFacebook announced that come February 3rd, its new iOS app called Paper should be hitting the US AppStore for iPhone only. So what is Paper? It seems that it is intended to be a number of things, although Facebook seems to be emphasizing the angle that is for news reading, not just from your friends, but from a variety of feeds that Facebook makes available within the app. Whether Paper is intended to eventually replace its current app hasn’t been mentioned, but from the looks of the demo video it comes close.

(more…)

Tim Cook hints at possible mobile payment feature

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 28th, 2014, 13:40
Category: App Store, Apple, Business, iOS, iPhone, iTunes, Retail Store, security

touch-id-iconApple’s earnings numbers weren’t the only thing that came out of Monday’s call. As is typical, analysts were given the chance to put some questions to CEO Tim Cook. Also typical, Apple’s answers were fairly vague. When asked about Apple’s plans for entering the mobile payment space and how Touch ID technology might be applied, Cook responded;

“[...] we’re seeing that people love being able to buy content—whether it’s music or movies or books, from their iPhone using Touch ID. It’s incredibly simple and easy, and elegant, and it’s clear that there’s a lot of opportunity there.

The mobile payments area in general is one that we’ve been intrigued with. That was one of the thoughts behind Touch ID, but we’re not limiting ourselves just to that. So I don’t have anything specific to announce today. But you can tell by looking at the demographics of our customers, and the amount of commerce that goes through iOS devices versus the competition that it’s a big opportunity on the platform.”

A number of reports have speculated that Apple plans to offer the ability to purchase online and physical items through a user’s iTunes account, which for most iPhone users already has their credit card information. Touch ID would be used as an added layer of security by not exposing the credit card info itself, simply passing off the transaction to iTunes. In the light of the recent hacking of Target’s customer credit card info, along with other similar incidents in the recent past, iPhone users may find mobile payments more appealing. Authorizing transactions with Touch ID then steps in to make payments quick with additional protection of a customer’s information. This could give Apple some leverage to increase the adoption of their iBeacon technology. If you’ve ever used the Apple Store app on your iPhone to buy something at their retail stores, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how it would all work together. Now the only thing you need to do is not feel oddly guilty when you grab a product, scan it with your iPhone, and walk out the door without talking to anyone.

Happy 30th Birthday Mac! My history with the game changing computer

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 27th, 2014, 09:04
Category: Apple, Article, Consumer Electronics, Desktop Mac, Mac, Software

retouchphoto_apple_macintosh_1984_high_res_clean1-580x386So, Friday was the 30th anniversary of the day Steve Jobs unveiled the Macintosh. That iconic “hello” ushered in the era of the personal computer. I knew I’d have to do the ubiquitous anniversary article, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be, and how many hours I’d loose strolling down memory lane on Google. Where to even begin?! When the Macintosh was introduced on January 24th, 1984, I was in the second half of my junior year at high school (well great, now I’ve dated myself). I had experience with only two computers in my life at that time, the Apple IIe at school, and my own Commodore 64. At the time, I didn’t know anything about Apple or the fact that there was an event occurring that would end up determining much of the course of my life. The first time I was able to get my hands on a Mac was during my second year of college. Ironically, the lab there had a number of NeXT computers and one lonely Mac (SE I think) in the corner. I remember sitting down at it to see what it was all about and leaving shortly thereafter unimpressed. I still lived in the text-based computing world where the majority of college workstations were running UNIX. At that time, all I knew about was Elm (email), piping, directories, FTP, bulletin boards, 300 baud modems, and word processing (and using language similar to HTML within my text documents to tell the dot-matrix printer to print the word in bold). The Mac didn’t appear to offer me anything I needed. It seemed like a toy, a very expensive $2,495 toy at that.

Then it happened. In 1992, my sixth year in college (don’t judge, I had trouble picking a major), I participated in a one year study abroad program in England, and THAT is when I really “met” the Macintosh. This was the first time I had seen a lab devoted entirely to Macs, and among them was a Macintosh IIfx, which was the 2013 Mac Pro of its day. This Mac was a graphics workhorse running at 40 MHz (that was freaking fast in 1992), with internal codenames like Stealth, Blackbird, and F-16; and had a starting price of $9,900. I’ll let that sink in…ok. Calculating inflation, that works out to be around $16,000 today. Ok, I’ll let that sink in too……..alright. It was also running the brand new System 7 operating system!

By the way, as a side note, a Mac IIfx was used by Industrial Light + Magic’s “Rebel Mac” team (put together by John Knoll, who with his brother Thomas created Photoshop) to computer render the feather that falls and then later blows away in the movie Forrest Gump. Yep, that feather is completely CGI. The chocolate was real.

Adobe-Photoshop-2

Let’s speed this up…so everyone in the design school was using the Macs for every aspect of their projects. Engineering drawings were done in ClarisCAD, project briefs were done in Word (before it was all bloaty), concept photos were done with Photoshop 1.0, and 3D modeling and animating was done with StrataVision 3D (if I remember correctly). Suffice to say, I was blown away. I didn’t know computers could do all that! Once I got back home and started my last year, first thing I did was save up to buy a Mac IIci, which was the predecessor of the IIfx (so I got it cheaper -wink-) but still pretty powerful. Thus began my personal love affair with the Mac. As it happens, the IIci is almost the only one of my former computers that I’ve, regrettably, sold off. However I did so to buy my first laptop (used of course), the Macintosh Powerbook 180c, the first Mac laptop to have a color screen…a whopping 256 colors! I had that as my sole machine, hooked up to an external monitor, for a couple of years (wish I’d known the Duo was coming) until I bought my Macintosh 7500. This was during Apple’s “beige” period and also when their stock plummeted to around $15 a share (god oh god why didn’t I buy 100 shares >.<) and they were going through CEOs like used socks. That was another model that because of its expandability, lasted me a few years, even acting as my only television by using an A/V tuner card.

It was now 1993 and I had just graduated college, and began looking for a job in my field of industrial design. While looking, I took on some part-time jobs to pay the bills, one of which was for a small art studio. This was probably the turning point in what would become my career for the next 15+ years. The art studio sold made-to-order vinyl signs. The machine that cut out all the letters for the sign was controlled by a Mac. As it happened, they began having problems and asked if anyone knew anything about computers. Naturally I volunteered to have a look at it, which was essentially my first technical support job. As the world was pretty much computer illiterate at this time, knowing how a computer worked was a hot commodity I discovered, so I began selling my support services and have been doing so ever since. There was no getting away from the Mac now.

So, by this point, it’s somewhere around 1995 for me, and the Macintosh is on its 11th year in the computer world. The World Wide Web, as it was being called, was still mostly text based and not terribly interesting, possibly because nobody was sure what to do with it. Apple innovates again by creating eWorld, a graphical interface for accessing online services. The service was launched in June of 1994 and the WWW was about to get interesting. While eWorld, as short lived as it was, would make a lasting impact, a game changer was being introduced at the same time that would transform the online world forever, NCSA Mosaic, the first web browser. Mosaic was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which as it happens is my alma mater. Development of Mosaic began the year I was in England and was discovering the Mac. Spooky eh? More trivia…the computer HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey “became operational” in Urbana, IL in 1992, the same year development on Mosaic began. While not stated, it is assumed HALs systems were created at the NCSA.

eWorld_Apple

Unfortunately eWorld was shut down in 1996 after only 2 years of operation, but it helped move the Web away from a text-based interface to a graphical one, along with America Online. It also may have been the first instance in the computer world of the now common practice of capitalizing the second letter in a name rather than the first. If I recall correctly, I had tried eWorld (I still have the disks), but could not afford the relatively high monthly cost, so instead I used a dial-in connection provided by the University of Illinois which “technically” I was not supposed to be able to use. Because of that, however, I had full access to the web using Mosaic and began getting curious about how web pages were built, thus I began learning HTML and constructing web pages.

After moving to San Francisco, my next Mac would be a used Mac Cube and 17″ Studio Display. Say what you will about the Cube, but it looked awesome! There were actually some unauthorized upgrades you could do, so I eeked out as much life as I could out of it. More trivia…if you’re a Star Trek fan, you may be interested to know that for the series Star Trek: Enterprise, most of the display screens you saw on set were run by 16 Mac Cubes. And let’s not forget when Scotty used an early Macintosh Plus to sort out the formula for Transparent Aluminum.

 Enterprise_G4_Cubes copy

ScottyTalksToMac copy

MacintoshPlus copy

Ok, so we need to pick up the pace, we’re only up to 2001! I’ll tell you what, why don’t I just list out the rest of the products I’ve used or collected from Apple;

  • Mac TV – the only black Macintosh ever made and sold in the US, and you could hook up your VCR to it. I just HAD to have a black Mac.
  • 20th Anniversary Mac, or TAM for short – believe it or not Jony Ive designed this little work of art way before the iMac. Mine sits out kind of like a sculpture. I bought it cheap from a coworker that didn’t have room for it anymore. Lucky me!
  • Powerbook Duo and dock station – super versatile, all the benefits of a laptop and a desktop. Not sure why it didn’t do that well. I believe one model of the Duo was the first Powerbook to sport a trackpad instead of a trackball. Personally, I still prefer the trackball, but hard to get one of those in a Macbook Air.
  • Several other Powerbooks, MacBooks (the toilet seat), titanium, aluminum, you name it. Currently I’m sporting an 11″ MacBook Air.
  • A G5 tower, the “cheese grater” – worst computer in the world if you were in IT. REALLY heavy and the handles cut into your hands. Frankly, I’m glad the behemoth is retired.
  • Newton 130 – I never really got to use the Newton. Apple was phasing it out and there was this hot new thing called a Palm Pilot, and that became my first serious PDA. My first smartphone would be a Palm Treo.
  • Newton 2000 – I still love the Newton. Sorry Steve.
  • QuickTake 200 digital camera – took really low resolution photos, but it was my first digital camera.
  • Mac mini – used it to learn how to run OS X Server
  • Apple TV, both the original and the current “hockey puck”. Hobby? Give us a break Apple.
  • Personal laser printer – YES, Apple used to make printers! Go figure.
  • Studio Display, Cinema Display
  • …aaaaaaand a few iMacs
  • iPhone – I’ve owned every model of iPhone except the iPhone 3G. Two of them were stolen prompting premature upgrades. I originally didn’t think I would go the iPhone route, but eventually the Apple fanboy in me and the coolness factor won me over.
  • iPad 2
  • Retina iPad mini

I’m sure I missed something, but here is a couple of pictures of part of my motley crew.

Newtons copy

Maccollection1 copy

 

So there you have it, my life as seen through my relationship with my Apple products from the last 30 years…well, a big chunk of it anyway. In your many, or few, years using Apple products, which was your favorite or most unique? I’m not sure I can pick, but I might lean towards the G4 Cube. Relate a story of you and your Mac history in the comments.