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Monthly Archives: July 2006

Okay, I will admit first hand that I do, in fact, have a myspace account. I use it as a tool to keep in touch with friends, which obviously is what it is built to do. However, I still find myself unhappy with much of its third-rate quality and frequent ‘maintenence’ and down time. Just last week, Myspace was down for several hours due to heat and power outages. Since then, I have seen more and more instability with Myspace. Before MySpace went down last week, I still had my own views on the service and if it wasn’t for my many friends on there – I would not have an account.

Now, don’t get me wrong, in theory this service is great. It is free, fun for people for all ages, and it makes keeping in touch with friends to a basic level. However, Myspace seems to have more intrusive adds, be less intuitive and user friendly, and lately has been non-functional. It would be nice to see Myspace move to less intrusive advertisements. I am not saying to get rid of ads, because then Myspace would never be free again. But, at least look at more text based ads, similar to that of Google’s AdSense.

Myspace is not so user friendly for the typical user. Many have found ways to customize their Myspace, but not without having to go to another site which is twice as ad-infested. As Myspace continues to add features, I really hope they look to improve their stability, text-based ads, and more in-house designs that people can point, click, and choose – rather than having to hunt down code that appeares foriegn to most users. Myspace needs to look at bringing in designers, have a wide variety of themes, and making it very simple for the users to change the way their Myspace looks – without even looking at code.

I will end by saying that maybe Myspace will look at least some of these problems and make their improvements. Myspace is wildly popular, and have earned their success. But, if they are not careful, someone else will come along with easier and more stable functionality, and less flashy advertisements. No one is likely to overthrow Myspace any time soon, but as a company like SixApart prepares a Myspace rival to release this Fall, it should make for some competition – which will be good for Myspace users everywhere.

Several months ago, I saved up enough money and along with a nice student discount, was able to purchase a new Fith Generation iPod with video. I went with black because I am one of those who loves to be a bit different than the rest of the crowd. I like the idea of that choice and I really hope Apple keeps that trend going in all of their products.

For those who have never seen or handled one of these new iPods in person, one of the first things you will notice is that the moment you take it out of its packaging and you touch it – your iPod will forever be smudged from that day on. This is something that really plagues the iPod Nano. My suggestion would be to buy a case that you like for the model that you have and as soon as you can, place the iPod in it so that minimal smudging occurs. Widespread rumors have been reported that Apple may soon change the material used to enclose their wildly famous music player.

For me, the iPod proved to be all that it is cracked up to be, and more. Going with the 30GB was more than enough for me, although Apple does offer a model that is 60GB – about the size of most laptop hard drives these days. The weight is just right, and the thin nature of the device is mindblowing when you think of just what it is made to do – and that is even doubles as an external hard drive. This makes it perfect to use the iPod to back up your documents, however, it shouldn’t be purchased to fulfill that exclusive role as a hard drive. It is designed to be a music player first, video player second and hard drive third. Because the iPod with Video contains an actual hard drive, this isn’t a music player for athletes or people constently on the go. The constant motion will take its toll on the device, like any laptop hard drive.

The video quality is quite impressive over all. The screen is pretty small at 2.5” inches; so, having to hold it up to watch video in your room seems kind of odd. Watching your favorite TV shows on your iPod is definately not going to be like watching it on your living room TV, but it is perfect for traveling. The battery life is a bit sub-par for watching movies at around 2 hours of video playback. However, if you are just wanting to watch occasional news clips and sitcoms from the iTunes music store, it will suit you just fine. For music, the iPod will give you about 14 hours of playback time. Apple claims that the 60GB model will give you around 20 hours of music playback.

However, with the idea of Apple soon to release a new video capable iPod, you should really keep in mind what you want the iPod for. If you are primarily wanting a music player and like the idea of watching a show occasionally, it would be what you want. But, if you are wanting a pure hybrid between a iPod music player and an iPod video player, I would hold onto my money and wait and see what Apple reveals this fall. It is rumored that the new iPod will sport a larger screen along with some other great features.

Speaking of the future for the iPod, it appears that Microsoft will be soon entering the ‘iPod Chase’ with its music device to be called ‘Zune.’ Will this be better than the iPod? Technically it could be, however iPod sports such a ‘hip’ factor and has become so popular, and it takes more than pure technology to overcome a ‘coolness’ factor that the iPod holds. One thing is for sure – Microsoft is going to attempt to become a real player in the mobile music market. That will lead to even more and better innovation from Apple.

I am not fortunate enough to land one of these nifty gadgets yet. However, I did find a very positive article written by USA Today’s Edward Baig. Check it out – but be careful, it might make you want one of these kits even more.

Today, I read a very interesting post on MacUser about an up and coming Shype wireless phone to be made by Belkin. For those who aren’t familiar, Skype is a free and popular program made for the PC or Mac. Skype is similar to AIM or Yahoo Messenger in that it allows you to add friends (who also have Skype) to a ‘buddy list’, however this service is made to talk to people – not type. What makes skype even more appealing is that it even allows you to make phone calls from your PC or Mac to any landline or cellular phone in the world (after, of course, you pay ahead for SkypeOut minutes.) If you have seen the commercials for Vonage, it is a similar service, known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocal.) Manufactorers have begun to market and sell phones that appear like any household wireless phone, but instead of connecting to a phone line, it is made to connect to your computer via one of your USB ports. What is even nicer is that Skype is running a deal from now until the end of the year that will allow its users to call any phone within the U.S. or Canada for FREE. How cool is that? Very.

This week Skype announced a new up and coming ‘Wi-Fi phone.’ This cell-phone looking phone will not need a USB to hook up to your computer, in fact, it wont even need a computer. Anywhere you are within free wireless internet access – your home, the cafe’, airport, hotel – you can use the phone and call via your skype account. Since some hotels and coffee houses require you to enter in a code and/or pay to recieve their wireless connection, I am not sure how the phone will respond. Belkin, a manufactorer of many iPod accessories, speakers, and USB phones, is producing this phone that is slated for an August debut.

Recently, thanks to my school, Berea College, I was handed a new Dell Lattitude D820 laptop. My first impression was – well – impressive. Dell stepped things up a notch in the design department. The laptop showcases a silver matted top cover, similar to the laptop it replaces, but you will quickly notice a nice black trim and a pretty silver latch. Open the lid and you will be amazed to find a silver-trimmed black keyboard all outlined nicely in silver. A very nice two-toned approach that worked well for Dell in this case. The laptop sports a vibrant 15’4” screen fully equipped with ambient lighting technology. Abient technology allows a senor to detect the light in your surroundings and automatically adjust the screen’s brightness. A slick feature, but it can be turned off if you prefer. One should mention that this laptop is no feather by any means; at a whopping 6.5 lbs, it can be a hefty load to carry around campus. Then again, i am a dwarf, so that has it’s effects.

Under the hood, my configuration included one of Intel’s latest Core Duo Processor at 2.0 Ghz. This new core duo technology definately knows how and when to flex its muscle. Despite many reports of other laptops with this chip getting overbearingly hot, this laptop does not seem to do too bad. It is still key to what you can to keep it cool, such as elevate the rear corners of the laptop so that you create airflow below the laptop. My configuration also included 1 GB of RAM; this memory that the computer can quickly access while you are using your computer and is essential for overall speed. Most computers – especially laptops – are still shipping with 512 MB of RAM. If you are just doing the basic emailing, and web surfing, 512 MB would suit you pretty well. The laptop sports a really nice 60 GB hard drive. Now, 60 GB isn’t the most space you can get in a hard drive; however, it is the fastest (at 7,200 RPM) laptop hard drive on the market.

Other key features include both an on-board wireless internet capability and bluetooth – another wireless technology that allows you to use specific bluetooth headsets and mouse to communicate with the computer wirelessly within a short range. Also included is wireless technologies that allow you to connect to Cingular data networks (given that you have a data access plan, of course.) This laptop comes with 4 USB ports for mice and digital cameras as well as Firewire 800 which is great for video importing from that digital camcorder.

All in all, this system is pretty much packed. While the pricetag is not cheap ($1099 base price, my configuration was over $2100) it proves to be a very well suited laptop for students and businesses alike. The weight can be a drag (literally, haha) for those traveling a lot, but if you are a business person willing to sacrifice a pound or two for a powerhouse machine and a 15” screen, it is well worth it. If my school wasn’t so generous in handing these out to all sophmores this year – and if I wasn’t such the Apple freak craving their new MacBook – I would definately consider the Dell Lattitude D820.

I just want to tell of a neat story. A good friend of mine called me last night to ask for some help with her brand new iPod Nano that she received for her birthday. I stepped her through the basics of getting it set up with iTunes and the music store. Although she ran into a few glitches with her computer along the way, I was able to help her get it going. I stepped her through adding music to the iPod and she was amazed of how easy it is to work with the iPod. She later became excited when she discovered solitare and the few other games that come included with the iPod.

By the end of the night (or shall I say morning, haha), she was able to import music from CD’s, buy music from the music store and add music to the iPod. it was great to see her so happy with it. As long as the iPod keeps this level of simplicity and ease of use, I will recommend one for just about anyone. It certainly makes for a great birthday gift. This was so awesome for me to be able to help her out with this – especially during those moments where she became really excited when she learned something new and cool about her new iPod. I love technology and being able to help people with it. She’s a wonderful and sweet gal, and she definitely deserves it. Now, if I can just talk my parents into a sleek gadget like that for my next birthday.

I dropped a quick to one of my all time favorite technology journalist/personalities, Leo Laporte today to get his ‘blessing’ on pursuing the purchase and running of a website entitled littletechguy.com. However, shortly after he responded with his best wishes in my venture, I went to purchase it only to realize it is already taken! So, maybe the guy who owns it will not want to fool with it and let it expire. In the mean time, maybe I can get better names. Something a little more creative maybe? I am also pondering the move to typepad so that I can have a bit more control over the look and feel of this site.

In the past few weeks I have have downloaded and have been tinkering with Windows Vista Beta 2 – which was released at the end of May for public download. Like many would agree, it isn’t accurate or fair to a company to review a product still in beta, simply because the work isn’t finished yet – so, what I have been using in the Beta now may or may not be included when Vista is expected to make its prime-time arrival in January of 2007. So, I am not posting to review it, nor will a post come any time soon. However, I will say that to me Vista looks to be no more than a glorified repainting of Windows XP. Yes, it does sport some nice small features, and seems to run rather snappy compared to XP. However, I am not sure if the small visual updates, with the question of security lingering over Microsoft, is worth the money that it will cost to upgrade.

The thing to keep in mind is that this release will be one of epic proportions, and Microsoft knows it. Therefore, I would not be surprised to see another delay or two in the release. Although, a delay or two might cause more Windows users waiting to upgrade their computers to suddenly look at Apple and their more secure, and simple OS X Tiger (soon to be Leopard.) Today, Microsoft’s Bill Gates said at this years Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference “If the feedback from the beta tests shows it is not ready for prime time, I’d be glad to delay it.” With that said, Microsoft is posting no garuntee at all that we will see Vista in early 2007. Microsoft’s also knows the seriousness of Vista and the black mark of approval that Microsoft has received from consumers, developers, and PC manufacturers alike about Vista’s ongoing delays since 2003. “I think it’s probably important for me to tell our partners that, rest assured, we will never have a gap between Windows releases as long as the one between XP and Windows Vista,” Microsoft’s chairman and CEO said at the conference.

Microsoft knows that Vista will be among the most important release they have ever faced. So, as Vista approaches time will only tell if Vista’s stability and security lives up to its new visual and organizational hype.

promonikeipod20060523.gifIn a team effort by giants of the sportswear and personal computer industries, Nike and Apple debuted their Nike+iPod sports kit. Nike released a press releasing stating that NIKETOWN stores in New York, Chicago, and Los Angels would host launch events for the new product. The Nike+iPod will be for use with iPod Nanos and Nike+iPod compatible shoes also being released today by Nike. This Kit, on sale in NIKETOWN and Apple Stores beginning today for $30, will include just the shoe sensor and the iPod wireless receiver.

The kit is a two-peice wireless collaboration gadget that allows the sensor, located discretely in the sole of the shoe, to communicate wirelessly with the iPod Nano via the wireless receptor. When connected, the iPod will display distance ran, and calories burned, while still playing your favorite tunes. One of the most impressive features include a voice readout of your current running stats at the touch of a button. Furthermore, if you are beginning to get tired and want a confidence booster, press a button and the iPod will begin playing an upbeat motivation song to help keep you going. After your run, you can log onto the Nike+iPod website where you can create a free account, upload your day’s running stats, as well as setting goals for yourself.

While it may not replace the treadmill any time soon. It is expected to be a hit with everyday runners who are fans of Nike shoes. However, the slight downside is that consumers are required to have both an iPod Nano and Nike+ compatible shoes.

I think this product will be a big seller since many everyday runners will like the idea of not having to be tied to a treadmill. I do some exercise in walking/jogging, so it is something I would definitely consider – if only I had an iPod Nano.

This blog will be used to share news and opinions of things going on in the world of Tech. This will be mainly a news and reviews oriented page. However, I will also make postings as I make ‘the switch’ from a Windows-based PC to a new Apple MacBook. This is something I am very excited about and I hope to have an acompanying podcast. Please keep coming back, add me to your RSS feed and keep up on the latest. You will also notice that my columns will be posted on Newsvine as well.