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Mai Foam Fore

Posted 2010.08.21 9.38 in Computers/Internet/Technology, iPhone by Stephanie

Yay! It finally arrived!

The Fedex man came to the office yesterday with my shiney new iPhone 4, direct from the Apple factory in China.

Believe it or not, I’ve never even seen one before in person – I’d ordered it completely sight-unseen and in the 3 weeks since then, I haven’t seen anyone else with one yet.

Immediate first impressions – it feels solid. The iPhone 3 and 3Gs both feel ok, but the curvy sides and plastic back does make it feel… well curvy and plastic. The iPhone 4 however, feels positively solid. Steel alloy all around, and some kind of magic glass on the front and back, make it feel heavy without feeling, well, heavy.

Like in a pinch you could slip it into a sock and make it into a weapon… though I wouldn’t really recommend that.

Some people have said they don’t like the squarish sides, prefering the form factor of the previous models. I’m in the opposite camp – having held this in my hand, I find it much more aesthetically pleasing than the earlier iPhones.

The screen is pretty, the ‘Retina display’ that they were hyping… It is bright and sharp and vibrant.

And of course, the blinky light! The blinky light is impressively bright. I tried using it as a flashlight last night and I was like woah, is there a way to dim it a bit? It’d probably ruin the whole function as a camera flash, but I’d like to slip a wee bit of blue gel in there so it was a blue blinky light. I’ll resist, for now.

Anyhow, to summarize: It’s cool, I like the form factor better than the earlier models, it feels solid and well-built, but pictures cannot do it justice – you really have to see and feel it in person.

What I think of the iPad

Posted 2010.01.29 10.08 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

First impressions, based on the Gallery and Tech Specs pages at Apple.com: Meh.

Here’s a list of things they should have incorporated from the get-go:

  • Fold-out Handle. It’s all curvy and smooth and sleek, but unlike the iPod or iPhone it’s too big to wrap your hand around. I predict lots of dropped iPads. Added bonus – a fold out handle with the right articulation could give the iPad a nice tilt if you happen to be using it on a desk with the onscreen keyboard.
  • Built-in SD card reader. They’ve put them on iMacs. The iPad should have had one too. Making it an add-on for the dock connector is stupid, it’s something extra you have to buy and remember.
  • Camera. It wouldn’t have killed them to stick a tiny camera (or two!) in the iPad. I don’t know if anyone uses them that much, but better to have than not have. They could have had one on the back like the iPhone, then stuck one on the front for video conferencing.
  • USB port. It obviously has one in the dock, but you shouldn’t need an extra dock adaptor just to plug in a USB peripheral. It should have a simple ordinary plain boring old USB port or two.

I don’t know if the iPad will be a fail or not, but I’m not itching to run out and buy one. The only thing I saw that did interest me was the keyboard with the built-in dock connector. I wonder if that would work with an iPhone – I hate the onscreen keyboard on the iPhone. Well to be specific I hate the inaccuracy of it. Without getting all into the technicalities, the way the touchscreen works makes it difficult to be really precise. Anyways, the keyboard accessory looked good.

One other thing intrigued me a little – they mentioned the processor was a custom-designed Apple A4 system on a chip. I wonder what the specs are, who made it, if the architecture is similar to or based on anything we’re familiar with, etc. etc.

Merry X-Meh.

Posted 2009.12.25 9.32 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

So it’s the morning of Dec. 25th. I got my big gift – a new iMac! (It was a present from myself. Thanks me!) and things are looking pretty good so far. Nice bright screen, wide format, very sharp resolution, everything very fast and snappy.

The Magic Mouse is actually pretty darn neat, if only they’d come out with a Magic Trackball then I’d be happy. Anyhow, it’s very cool and I’m going to keep it, even if I don’t use it. It’ll be the first Apple mouse I haven’t thrown out or given away.

Transfering my data and settings over from my previous iMac was as effortless and flawless as usual, albeit a bit time-consuming. Well I guess you can’t transfer 75GB in an instant.

The new iMac’s hardware is so far pretty good. 4GB RAM is the standard, and I got the one with a 1TB hard drive. While I had upgraded my previous iMac to these specs, the new one still seems faster – perhaps because of the faster processors, faster bus, and/or faster graphics processor.

The new iMac also has a built-in SD card slot, which is a great idea. I haven’t tried it yet, but with most digital cameras nowadays using SD it’s a perfect choice to facilitate the transfer of photos to iPhoto, Aperature, or whatever you use.  I’d love to see a Micro-SD slot on the next version of the iPhone, in fact – it would be a great way to boost the capacity of the iPhone, at least in terms of storage space for music, videos, and a good place to store photos taken with the built-in camera.

I haven’t had time to play around much with the new OS (Snow Leopard, OS X 10.6) but compared to 10.5 it seems so far pretty similar.

Outside of the good and the ambivilent, there has been one huge disappointment. For reasons known only to Jobs, Apple has decided to change the external display adaptor yet again. I didn’t realize that they had changed this, so my “Mini DVI” cable that worked with my previous iMac is not compatible with the “Mini Displayport” on the new iMac. Had I known of this, I’d have ordered the adaptor when I ordered the computer. Now I’m stuck until I can get to an Apple Store, during the busiest shopping week of the year. Thanks Apple.

See, I run my computer with ‘dual heads’. That is, you have the built-in screen on the iMac itself, then I have a second screen next to it. This lets me use the smaller (21.5″) iMac but end up with more space than the 27″. My secondary display is a 19″ all-digital monitor. It was a great monitor in its time, but nowadays it serves admirably as a secondary display. Running dual-heads means I can edit / view things in full size on one screen, while having my tools, palettes, etc. all open on the other. So I can edit, tweak, change, etc. without having to page back and forth between windows or panes. It is glorious – once you’ve gone dual-head you can’t go back.

However, for the next day or two or three, I’m stuck with the single display.  Grrrr.

Surrendering to Apple

Posted 2009.08.21 5.57 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Music/Movies/TV by Stephanie

I’ve conceeded defeat. Apple beat me. I knuckled under and ordered an Apple TV. In spite of my best efforts, Apple is becoming the digital hub of my digital life. Music, photos, movies, tv… all that’s left really is an Apple-branded coffee maker withwifi and bluetooth, so I can summon up a coffee from my iPhone before I get out of bed.

Anyhow, this all goes back to a rant last week about not being able to watch a downloaded movie on my television. The cheapest solution would have been to simply go out and buy the damn movie on DVD, but I resented that since I’d already bought it on iTunes. Mind you, I also resented that my iPhone wasn’t compatible with my Apple dock + Apple AV cable combination. And I resented that getting new compatible cables would cost a wad more money. Then I resented that the cables were so expensive that it almost made more sense just to get an Apple TV.

Apple TV

Naturally, of all those resentments, buying the DVD was the one that burned me most. I mean, DVDs are so 1999. That’s 10-year old technology. Why invest in that? (Yes I’m being facetious.)

Actually what’s happened is the whole Apple TV thing has been rolling around the back of my mind, till suddenly I realized what else could be done with it, other ways to use it. They all sounded awesome in my mind yesterday when I ordered it, but now that I’m writing about it, I realize that maybe nobody else will see the importance like I do…

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Another Technology Rant

Posted 2009.08.15 7.25 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Time for another rant about what ticks me off with technology.

They keep changing the accessories.

On what seems like a regular basis, suddenly all your accessories aren’t compatible with the newest gizmo. I’ve been through this with the cellphone companies, both Nokia and Sony/Ericsson have rendered all their A/C adaptors and car adaptors obsolete by changing the specs. There’s no reason for this. Other than, they’ve decided it’s time to sell more adaptors. Seriously – the sub-mini phono jack is a fine standard for headsets and the coaxial DC jack is fine for power. All your stupid annoying proprietary molded plastic plugs just earn you more hate – and a deeper level in hell every time you change them on us!

However, my specific ire today is not for cellphone companies – although they, and virtually every other tech company is guilty of this at one time or another. No, today I am ranting again about Apple.

So last night I decided I wanted to watch a certain movie on my tv in my bedroom. I bought & downloaded the movie a month or two ago from the iTunes store, and have watched it on my computer once or twice, but now I want to see it on an actual TV. So I poked around and checked and found that indeed, you cannot burn purchased movies to a DVD. (You can burn purchased music to CDs, so I had hoped maybe movies would work the same.)

Oh well – there’s always another way. I have an “Apple universal dock” on which I spend about $50 and it has an AV port on it. So I unplugged that from my computer and dug up an AV cable and hooked it all up to my TV, after first transfering the movie to my iPhone. Figuring I’ll just run the movie on the iPhone and play it to the TV. The iPhone has TV-out and it was all set up right.

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WTF is up with Apple lately?

Posted 2009.07.31 15.57 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

I’m a Mac user. I have an iPhone. I (heart) the Mac OS X. But I’m no Apple fangrrrl, I don’t drink their kool-aid. I like their products but I’ll call them on their BS when I see it. I don’t expect them to be all warm and fuzzy, I understand that they are a big business and all that jazz. But lately it’s starting to feel like they’re going out of their way to remind us that all we are to them is dollar signs.

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Say Cheese!

Posted 2009.06.13 16.00 in Aquaria, Photography by Stephanie

Getting a snail to sit still for the camera: Easy.

Speed Racer, the snail

Speed Racer, the snail

Getting a snail to wave and give you a big toothy grin: Priceless!

Big Toothy Grin!

Speed Racer, mugging it up for the camera

Speed Racer is an Apple Snail, Pomacea bridgesii Pomacea diffusa, with colour type Dark Striped Olive. Commonly sold as a ‘black mystery snail’.

(Also visible in the background is Shifty, a Zebra Danio fish.)