Lifedrivedoc.com began as a place to talk about the Lifedrive. It soon became apparent that it was much more than that. Since moving on from my Lifedrive, I am engaged in more avenues of technology. That technology has intersected with my professional life - Medicine as well as my social life.

As noted above, the blog is about a lot of things in relation to technology. If you are looking for Lifedrive related material, I am currently dividing the blog so that those searches will be easy for you to find. Most of them will be pre 2007, that should help. Additionally, if you are looking for the links that used to be on the left border. They will be back up in a different format soon. I do enjoy reading about new things to do with the Lifedrive, so you can feel free to let me know about those. I will also post those on the site.

If you are having trouble getting an RSS Feed, click on the feed link below or type this into your reader: http://feeds.feedburner.com/lifedrivedoccom


Monday, July 09, 2012

AssistiveWare Uses The Ipad, iPhone and iTouch to Slash prices on Medical Assistive Devices

This is one from the archives, written a few months after the iPad was released.  I needed some permissions before posting, but after getting them, forgot to hit PUBLISH.  So here is an old story that I hope will encourage many to see iOS devices in a different light. 

AssistiveWare has created a series of software platforms for use on all iOS devices called Proloquo2go.  If you are not versed in what this company does, then let me explain the advantages that this company has just produced for a vast majority of people.

Previous example of an early stand alone assistive device.

Stroke victims, patients who have communicative disorders, spinal cord injuries, congenital disorders etc.,many of whom are wheelchair bound have difficulty in communicating with the public.  Basic needs that we the ambulatory and vocal  take for granted are difficult for these patients - especially children with developmental and physical disorders.  Take the concept of saying "Yes" for example.  For us, it is easy to open our mouths, nod our heads, raise a hand with a thumb gesture etc.  But for the paralyzed and those who cannot speak or comprehend fully this is not possible.  This is especially true in children with developmental disorders.  This is where assistive devices come into play.  The main drawback to many of these devices is the cost, which can be quite prohibitive.  (The cost link will take you to the planning stages, while the Prohibitive link will take you to an actual cost center chart for such devices in a nursing home environment).

Enter Assistiveware.  This company uses iOs devices to produce software that is intuitive to people in need.  As the pictures from their website show, the software is quite similar to other stand-alone devices costing thousands of dollars. 

For patients with disabilities, the device + software has been reduced by as much as 1/3rd. For example if we look at the Software (which is not cheap, but available on iTunes for $189.99 and the iPad hardware at $499.99) for just under $700 one can get an Assistive Device that has other features built in.  Not to mention that in a family setting, the device can double as an entertainment device as well.  In addition to this, let us not forget that if you own a copy on your iPad, you also own a copy on your iPhone/iTouch.  Thus the software can be taken everywhere and transported to other handheld devices.

This would also be a great tool in a Doctor's office for patients who cannot communicate well.  It could serve as an entry point, even for patients who speak a different language. But more importantly, it serves a wonderful conduit for people with disabilities, particularly children who are struggling to communicate.  Another fantastic deployment of the iPad, whose mere existence was questioned back in february.

*Some images used are taken from Assistiveware.com with permision.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The best video player for the iPhone is Olimsoft's OVideo

(This article is taken from my archives.  I originally wrote it in January and in March, I haven't changed my tune, and yes, this is another one of my rants on codecs and iTunes)...

I waited for a long time to see VLC show up on the iPhone - 2 years to be precise.  But having downloaded it on its first day of release, I have yet to use it.  Why?  Well, upon reviewing the early users of the program, although the reviews were good, one reviewer placed a very interesting comment, something to the effect of, "not as good as Oplayer..."  One didn't have to say this twice.  Immediately I took the opportunity to download the Oplayer program followning the VLC download.

The reason for a third party app, which believe me, we have all been waiting for, is due to the fact that Apple's Quicktime refuses to play anything other than .MV4, .MP4 files or other simple file types.  It will not play .DIVX or .MKV files.  I do not know if licensing is an issue or something else, but it has been a frustrating endeavour listening to the Jailbreakers and Android owners boast about being able to play different codecs.  So it was a hearty surprise when an app called CineXplayer was accepted into the iPad app store.  It allowed the above mentioned codecs to be played by going around Apple's codec limitation and allowing the .AVI files to be uploaded via iTunes.  I fully expected this to last for only a few days and be removed from the App store, but it wasn't.  The only problem was that I do not own an iPad.  So it was watchful waiting until the CineXplayer developers released a version for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  The rumor mills were filled with VLC entering the fray and I was thrilled to find out that VLC would be released soon.  I downloaded it the first day.  But it was Oplayer, an App that, until noted in the review, made absolutely no noise in the video environs, that eventually won me over.

I was able to immediately use the Oplayer App but not the VLC application due to the fact that the OPlayer application allowed for OTA (Over the air) downloads immediately.  The VLC application, similar to the CineXplayer on the iPad, requires iTunes to transfer its .AVI files to the device.  Ovideo does not. 

Ovideo may not be perfect, but I have not found any significant faults thus far.  It plays Xvid files and other .AVI files wonderfully, while distributing its .MP4 files to the Quicktime player, the native player of the iPhone, thus not duplicating services. 

One very interesting thing that Oplayer does is to change the port for each download.  It's a wonderful security measure, and obviously something that the creators of this software program thought about for a long time.  You may start on port 2456, and not the usual 8080, but after owning the software for a few weeks, you will soon see 5255, but never the same port on the same day.  Again, brilliant security feature.

Standard video plays better than HD video due to the iPhone using Hardware acceleration for its native Quicktime videos but not for standards that it does not natively support. But Oplayer even has a solution for that.  Just like in the Palm days, there is a Skip Frame feature whch may improve performance on HD.

Of note, you can also play .mkv, .3gp, .mov and .rmvb files, not to mention Microsoft's .wmv files.

Some things that I would like to see in the future are batch downloads, support for the Mac Centric AFP network for Airport and a working meter to tell how much longer the download will take. Other than that I really have no issues with the software.  It does its job very well.

So, if you are looking for an alternative to QuickTime, I think Oplayer is worth a look.  In fact out of all the video players that I own on my iPhone, I would rate this as the best.  The cost is $2.99 as of this writing and it is found in the App Store on iTunes.  The maker of the software is Olimsoft.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Getting Lifedrive Parts.....

I was tinkering the other day with an old Lifedrive and wondered where I could buy a new battery.  I stumbled upon a wonderful site that has used parts, but that are still functional.   So for those of you who are hungry for a bit of nostalgia and if you think that you are relatively risk averse, you should pay a visit to Used Pda Parts:



Credits:  Picture of Lifedrive Motherboard. 

Friday, January 07, 2011

Update on $80 Aperture from Apple Store Rep. Licensing issues.

So, during my investigation into this software I had two questions that I felt compelled to ask about.  The first, whether the $80 version of this professional grade application was the exact same as the $200+ version available from Apple in disc form?  And what kind of licensing did the downloaded version entail?

The Mac Genius looked up the information and informed me that this was indeed the actual version of the $200 software and not an Academic version either.  So it will be upgradeable in the future. 

In regards to the licensing agreements, he stated that according to Apple, if you - the license owner -  own more than one Apple machine ie. Mac Desktop and Mac laptop, you have the ability to use the program that you have downloaded on both machines without having to pay for the program again.   I asked if that meant that the Mac App store, in similar fashion to the iTunes store, would recognize that I downloaded this once before and not charge me another $80 for the software?  He stated that he was not certain about this, but stated that it should recognize it by the Apple ID.  He recommended downloading the software and networking it or placing it on a disc and installing it on the other machine.

You know, I may start liking this Mac App store after all.   I am not happy about giving up my freedom but there is a certain amount of clarity in this way of doing business.  For one thing, if this is as minimally restrictive as it sounds, I think that the App store will be another major hit for Apple.

I won't do Mac App store! Oh wait did you say Aperture is $80?

Okay, so I was not going to download the Mac app.  Why? Well let's just say that I still like the old fashioned way of finding software, but this App store thing seems to be a compelling way to do business and to find software as long as it does not interfere with my ability to go outside of the box to find the same, say for a lower price point.   I am a really big fan of the Bundles - ie. MacUpdate, MacHeist etc.  For $50 you get about 12 programs (Apps to be politically correct :)).   What will become of these bundles remains to be seen now that the App store has arrived.  When I first bought my Mac in 2007, the Mac Bundles were an excellent introduction to software for my new OS. 

I have always waited for the V1 or first version of anything, ie. iPad, iPhone to pass before jumping in head first.  Not wanting to be on the bleeding edge (ie. iPhone 1 owners), but trying to remain on the cutting edge.  But APPLE knows how to nail you!  And what I thought was a misprint by Apple on the Mac App store has just NAILED ME!

I have been looking for Photo cataloging and editing software to advance from iPhoto.  I wanted to get something a little better than iPhoto which has become extremely bloated with our over 12,000 photographs.  I began this quest in 2009, but halted it after seeing the pricing for the two leading contenders.  Aperture, Apple's own version was over $200.  That was not chump change.  Lightroom by Adobe was about the same $245.  I listened to a number of photography podcasts and friends who were always in two camps - The Aperture lovers and the Lightroom lovers.  The Lightroom fans claimed that theirs was the only true non destructive editing platform with a plethora of third party plug-ins, with cataloging as a secondary feature.  The Aperture lovers would say that the cataloging features were superior and that the plug-ins were catching up to Aperture and that non destructive editing was on par, but Aperture's tight integration with all things Apple made it the superior choice.

Admittedly, I began leaning towards Lightroom due to the fact that many Windows users and a few of my trusted photography friends exclaimed that this was the de facto program for serious photographers.  I was planning on buying it this September, but never got around to it as other things kept on getting in the way.  In the end, I was still on the fence.

But yesterday something peculiar happened.  While scanning the "papers" for news on the new App store, I ran into the top 10 grossing apps on Fortune Magazine.  And there it was.  Aperture 3.0 selling for $80.  Not $200.  I checked the Apple website to ensure that this was not a typo that would soon be retracted.  It was not.  Aperture was $80.  Now, that is a game changer.  One of the things that my friends told me is that once you go to either Aperture or Lightroom there is no turning back.  At $80, did Apple want to make sure that all of its Mac Heads remained in the fold?  Was this another 1-2 sucker punch to Adobe?  If I went to Lightroom would it be possible that Adobe might stop supporting Lightroom on the Mac (ie. Microsoft not creating another Excel version until last year, leaving Mac owners to use a 2004 outdated version of the App for years or Adobe's Flash or Creative Suite issues with updating?).  Support has been my main concern.

So now I have to weigh the pros and cons of the situation.  Should I go to the App store and download Version 3.0* of Aperture?  My mind is telling me yes, but I now have to do more research to see if plugins will be supported and if there are as many worthwhile plugins as found in Lightroom.   Also what kind of licensing would this entail?  Can I install the App on more than one machine (Does the Mac App store make it impossible to "share" a disc on multiple machines in the same location for one fee)?  

Apple has created a compelling reason to stay the course.  A professional photography suite for $80 - that my friends was the introductory price of Adobe's Photoshop Elements on Disc, a rudimentary program that is not in the same league as Aperture.  Apple, you have made my decision making a living hell !  Thanks :).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Best Device for 2010.....

Folks, I know the iPad has had the reputation of being the best device for 2010.  It's on the wish list of many, but here's a story that may make you go Mmmgh?

I had the opportunity to purchase an iPad earlier this year.  It was a gift actually that was to be given to me some time in August.  I passed on the gift immediately.  I was told about how many wonderful apps that were available for it and how the simple act of buying an app once meant that it could be utilized on an iPhone and an iPad.  I was shown the simplicity of reading books and the running of gadgets from remote controlled apps.   I thought that this was wonderful.

However, I declined the iPad!   Yes, folks, I declined the hottest gadget of the year.  The gadget that is simply the best in its class - that of Tablet Computing.  So I know that you are asking the very question that many of my other friends have asked:  WHY?  And more importantly, what is the best gadget, in your opinion, for 2010?

For me, the gadget of the year is quite simply Amazon's KINDLE.

What I did not tell you in the first paragraph above was that I have a very large library of books.  Books that I never get to carry around with me.  They range from novels to sonnets to medical literature.  I have well over 1,000 journals, which I rarely get the chance to read and therefore am subjected to buying a subscription to a Journal Reviewer, reading in depth the articles that are germaine to me.  I rarely get the opportunity to read novels and when I do, I usually don't have the book with me.   What I needed was an electronic book device.  Something that just did electronic books.  I did not want something with email, twitter, You Tube or any such distractions.  I wanted a serious e-book reader.  No tweeting, beeping, ringing interruptions.  Just words on a page.  I wasn't interested in color or pictures.  Just WORDS.

The Kindle or more importantly, The Kindle 3 is perhaps the best e-book reader ever invented.  As of 2010 of course.  The iPad simply does not compare when it comes to reading a novel on the device for over an hour.  I tried to read on an iPad that was loaned to me and I immediately became fatigued trying to read at night.   Additionally, the iPad, excellent as it may be as a mobile utility device, is much too heavy to be considered a dedicated e-book reader or book replacement. It is too distracting, with its apps, alerts etc., to be considered a serious e-book reader.  Now, I am not putting the iPad down, but simply stating that if you are looking to read books and only books, then the Kindle is the better choice.

So, are there weaknesses to the Kindle?  You bet.  First, you really do need to have the same brightness that you would have to read a regular book available to you.  Otherwise, you will need to buy a cover which has a built in light source or buy another light source.  There is no back light, as seen with the iPad. 
Second, if you are into color pictures, the iPad is for you.  The Kindle shows only gray scale images.  Again, it is for reading.  Thus I would not recommend it for Magazine reading.  Nor would I recommend it for PDF books.  The manipulation that needs to go on with trying to read a PDF is just not feasible for long articles.
Third, after playing with the iPhone, any Smart phone or an iPad or iPod Touch, you have this feeling that everything that has a small screen needs to be touched to make the words and images move.  Thus page turns, character enlargement etc., are intuitively managed by Touch Screen -- On An iPad.  But not on a Kindle.  There are still ancient Touch buttons on the side and a relatively antiquated hard key keyboard.

But what beauty there is lies in the Software that Amazon has chosen to use.  Let me first say that Linux is always loved and the OS appears to be a version of this.   You can add books to the Kindle in many different ways.  You can use Amazon's WhisperSync which does over-the-air downloads via 3G or Wifi.  And did I mention that the 3G is free, without registering?   Yes, it's relatively slow if you want to surf the web, but for obtaining books, it's wonderful.  You can also Archive by just erasing a book off your KINDLE.  You can save an entire folder, which contains all of your books from the KINDLE to your PC.  This is great if you want to upgrade a Kindle.  You just download the folder and store it on your hard drive.  This also allows you to save files on the Kindle and use its 4 gig memory as a hard drive.  You can upload Audiobooks via this route also or MP3 files.

One amazing feature that I loved was during an hour of reading a classic.  I couldn't move, but I had to go to the bathroom.  Well, you can let the Kindle read to you.  It will ( in its really nice phonetic voice, which I might add is quite human-like) continue reading where ever you have left off.  Really great for bathroom breaks :).

The Kindle is small enough to keep in your bag or jacket.  It can download updates if you like, in the background.  Additionally, you can turn off the Wifi and save the battery.  I have used it for 22 days straight on a single charge once.  Normally, I will charge it on weekends though.  What is good however is the ability to read anywhere, anytime.  And if I forget the device, well, I can continue the reading on my phone if I wish.

One important feature about the Kindle is the lack of a back light.  I point this out because it is very important.  I can read a Kindle for at least an hour straight, without stopping because I do not have a large back light shining into my eyes.  That back light is okay if you are reading at 7pm.  But at 10pm, this is a strain.  I have tried reading my iPhone at night and I hate it.  It's too bright.

Of note, the 1000 journals will not be archived.  For that I am actually going to use an iPad.  The PDF restriction is an issue there.  Also, for technical reading, I really would not recommend the Kindle, at least for medical technical reading.  If you have to jump back and forth, several times, then an iPad is better.  But luckily, I have found a wonderful niche for my Kindle.  It is now the proud provider of all of my classic novels and since they are free, the list is now well over 100 in size.  I look forward to reading Moby Dick and Brave New World many years later and from a different perspective than I had before.  The non reflective nature of the Kindle makes it a winner anywhere.  And the fact that I will not be distracted by the web when I am reading is just icing on the cake.

This is why I am calling the KINDLE 3 with WIFI & 3G the best Device for 2010.

Friday, November 05, 2010

One night with Kinect...wow!

So I had the opportunity to use Microsoft's new Kinect yesterday. Having a Wii, I had the opportunity to directly equate the two experiences. With the Wii, you have a unique controller waving in front of a bluetooth band sitting below or atop your television. With Kinect, you bring only your body to the game.

The Kinect device is eery! It is very accurate once it has locked onto who you are. It recognizes the shapes and sizes of individuals with very little effort. I was very impressed. More impressive is the responsiveness of the device. The obvious Wii imitator standard software that comes with the device is actually well worth owning. The games are pragmatic and really do well to simulate the actual body movements of the players. In addition, the ending photo snapshots and video snips can be sent to your facebook page or emailed to individuals. I was particularly impressed with the Volleyball game, which allowed you to Set, Pass and Spike the ball over the net as you would do in a real game of volleyball. With a two player game you can actually feel as though you are in the game itself. I think I may have lost 200 calories during one set!

The video response to movement is almost 1:1. Although I did not get the opportunity to try out the video conferencing feature, I can only imagine that this is also just as good.

What does Kinect feel like if you own a Wii? Well, it feels as though it is a Second Generation Wii, the device that Nintendo would have made next. It is really that good. My wife and kids enjoyed this device as well. We really see that the device has the potential to lead to other things, such as Yoga, video conferencing, real time tutorials with feedback. Throw in Netflix on the XBox and you soon get the idea that Microsoft is trying to lead the Living Room war.

Are there negatives? Well not really. Medically, there is always the question of not having tactile feedback to guide your extensions, but unlike the Wii, I actually feel immersed in the game itself on the Kinect, hence the visual aspects of the game tend to keep me from over extending on a spike and trying small, but varied tactile moves. Nevertheless, the entire family was extremely sore after playing.

As a disclaimer, the actual Kinect device used was from a friend at his house yesterday on the first day of its release. There is no question that I will be getting one as well. I really think that this is a great device. I do understand that Microsoft will be linking this with the new Windows Phone. Nice, but I'm attached to my iPhone. It may bode well for Windows Mobile. Like Microsoft or hate them, I really believe that this product will be a winner for Microsoft. Well done!


Sunday, October 24, 2010



So you have a camera that you bought a few years ago and you run into the biggest problem plaguing everyone who owns a digital camera.  And if you think that you don't have this problem, well let's just say that it is something that you are going to find out about very soon.

You see there is a little problem that just about every camera manufacturer forgets to tell you about.  And it is a problem located on ALL digital cameras.  It is similar to the 1999  Y2K problem.  Without backing up your photo collection this problem will wipe out a lot of fond memories. 

Sony F717 
The problem is this.  When you take a photo, your camera starts a counter.  The first picture is labelled 0001.  If you have a Sony camera it is proceeded by the letters DSC ie. DSC0001.JPG, with the suffix .jpg added to let the computer know that it is a jpeg file.  Other cameras will do the same, ie. MSC0001.JPG, Cannon uses IMG, ie IMG0001.JPG. The first thing that  you will notice is that there are only 4 digits.  That is where the problem arises!

When you get to picture #10,000 the camera rolls back to 0001.  If you are using iPhoto and you do not relabel your photos this is akin to wiping out the original 0001.jpg photo that you have in your catalog.  In my case, those were the pictures of the birth of my son.  I was saved only in knowing that I had a back up of those precious early photos.  Additionally, I did not realize the problem until I took picture # 10,110 !  That's right 110 of my original photos taken 8 years ago with my Sony DSC-F717 were completely gone from my iPhoto catalog.   Again, I was saved only by the knowledge that a backup existed for these.

The next problem that has arisen is what happens when your spouse or child decides to get a camera?  In the old days you would buy a simple point-and-shoot and take it to the store to be developed.  You would then scan the photo into iPhoto.  But today, just about everything is digital.  And if you buy a camera that is made by the same company as your original camera then you are in trouble!  Major trouble if you are using iPhoto.  In this case, I had the opportunity to pick up a used Cannon SLR, which is now 8 years old, but takes the most wonderful pictures.  It is digital.  And it cost me pennies to purchase because it was used and the owner just wanted to get rid of it.  It was also an inevitable purchase after my Sony F717 broke down.  This was a God send because I was able to integrate it painlessly with iPhoto because it had a different prefix - IMG.  So my first pictures were IMG0475.JPG and this did not interfere with the original Sony DSC0475.JPG.  Dandy, until I get to 9999 in which the original problem that I discussed will inevitably arise.  But then my wife's birthday came up and you guessed it, she wanted a simple point and shoot camera for her big day.  Nothing expensive, but something that was not as clunky as my Canon ( a huge beast by today's standards) - just a simple point and shoot.  I had a 100% chance of running into a problem.  If I chose a Sony or Canon camera then the number problem would again be an issue.  I found out also that Nikon uses the DSC prefix as well.  She chose the Canon camera and this is where things got interesting. 

iPhoto has become very long in the tooth and although there are dramatic changes being made to the program, including face recognition, mapping etc., the basics are being left behind.  This numbering system for instance should be a thing of the past.  Almost everything is digital.  Just about every photo is digital, so why not keep up with the times on this one? 

Simple Batch Processing
For now, I can no longer just plug in the camera and hope that everything will fall into iPhoto and be arranged.  We are well over the 10k range and due to the fact that we have more cameras on tap, the overriding of DSC and IMG numbers is something that will always happen.  In speaking to a few friends of mine, they have told me that Lightroom and Aperture are better at handling this sort of thing.  But they cost a lot of money.  And from what I understand, once you go Lightroom, you're there forever; same holds true for Aperture.  I have also been told that Aperture is better at cataloging, while Lightroom is better at editing.  I cannot vouch for either, having not used either one of them.

So what do I do?  Well, if you own a Mac there is always someone out there with a solution that has been peer reviewed and investigated.  The program that I found and which is literally saving my bacon these days is called simply NAMECHANGER.  It is a public domain FREE program written by Mickey Roberson at http://www.mrrsoftware.com/ Mickey has done a great job with this and makes several different versions depending upon which flavor of OSX you have.  Donating a dollar or two for his efforts would be a good thing to spur him along to continue doing what he is doing. 

More Complex Batch Processing
With NameChanger, you get a simple no frills interface and you can drag and drop your files  and preface them in any way that you desire.  So, if you put in a batch of files with the numbers IMG0050.JPG THRU IMG0100.JPG and you took them at the same venue or during the same shoot, then you can do the following:  Change sequence starting from IMG0050.JPG TO IMG0100.JPG and batch change (that is change all of the files so that they begin with whatever it is you want, instead of IMG) to BirthdayParty001.jpg to BirthdayParty050.jpg and you will have a listing that is not readily duplicated.  You can get more specific and do something akin to Nigels5thBirthday001.jpg. 

That is pretty difficult to duplicate by accident.  Once the batch change is done, then you can dump it into iPhoto.

What Apple needs to do is this.  Since it has the ability to separate the photos into EVENTS, it should automatically change the FILE to represent this change if that is what the user wants.  Just having it notice events is not good enough now that everyone and their uncle has a camera.  By the way, did I forget to mention the iPhone and the iPod Touch photos as well?  Yes I did didn't I.  Well you get the point by now.  The overlapping of photos is something that will happen to just about everyone at some point.  For now, NameChanger may be the best solution for those of us not willing to part with $300 to buy either Lightroom or Aperture just for this feature. 

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Google TV? Nice But there's an ace in the Apple TV.

I just finished seeing a few iterations of the new Google TV.  One word:  NICE!  I think that a lot of people wondered about the keyboard, but this was revealed to be a small Thumb board that looks relatively comfortable to type on.

Through the literature I have been reading that Google TV may make Apple TV completely irrelevant.  Mmgh?  Well that would be news to a few thousand people who, in the first 24 hours, made the tiny black box a rarity.  And to the many who have ordered the same online only to find a 2 week waiting list with free shipping.

A few people in the know, other than those looking for a Non-Roku way of getting to Netflix due to the fact that they can also get to iTunes, have snapped up the device and made it a rarity in the Apple Store.
Here's Why?  And here's why I think any talk about obsolescence, despite the AppleTV 2's flaws are way overblown:

1.  THE APP STORE!  The Secret weapon that Apple has in its armamentarium is the App store.  With the App store Apple can introduce anything that it wants.  TV mainstream channels that are resisting Apple now can put their own apps in the device.  Can you imagine Comcast putting an app in the store, making available all 800 channels just by segmenting it into an app?  Or Enhanced TV?  The App store can make the Apple TV anything that Apple wants it to be.

Want more proof?  Let's talk about my favorite pet peeve of the mobile Apple devices:  The inability to play more codecs.  I have clamored to have Divx, AVI, MKV a part of the Apple line up.  They have refused.  But there is an App called CineXplayer which will use iTunes to port .AVI files from iTunes into the iPad and play it flawlessly.  There is now also the VLC app which does the same thing.  The official Apple restriction is gone with the entrance of an App.

2.  Airplay !  There is talk that Google already has this, but I could only find it in DLNA.  This is not really the same thing and as I have found with a few friends, DLNA is really buggy and really picky.  It's not as simple as plugging in your computer or device and turning on your Samsung TV and hoping that the TV picks up the signal.  If Apple's Airplay is done correctly, you will be able to stream content from any iOS device, to the AppleTV and automatically have it show up on your TV.   This leaves room for a good hack that will stream an iOS compatible NAS drive to the Apple TV.

3.  Simplicity!  Hard to gauge, but Apple is notorious for making things simple.  It's in their DNA.  It is also that which may separate Google TV from the masses, not to mention the price difference.

I believe that the Google TV will be a hit, but pricing and bundling concerns may make it not so pleasant as it will be branded according to the distributor.  This makes for a less than linear or smooth experience.  But from what I have seen Google TV is a unique take on television and programming.   But as Google shows its hands in this arena, the App store remains Apple's playground to experiment and surprise.  Remember all Apple TV's -be they version 1 or version 2 - have a non consumer useable USB slot.  It's not there for nothing.  The gloves may be coming off for these two tech titans, but I think Apple may have the upper hand.  They have been doing media for a long time and the App store is their Trojan Horse to change.


Monday, October 04, 2010

iPhone4 - First Thoughts.

The iPhone 4 First Impressions

Whether it is the opening of the box or the first time that you turn it on you are caught by the design of the iPhone 4.  First, it is not rounded so it does not fit into your hands as comfortably as its predecessor - which seemed to be molded.  But that is not to say that it is uncomfortable.  Second it seems as if it was made to have either a bumper or a cover, but by doing so you miss the overall aesthetics of the phone.  It is a thing of beauty.

But all assumptions end when you turn it on.  The rain drops making the backdrop of the home page are a thing of beauty - so real, so touchable.  You can almost feel the dew drops emanating from the screen.  It is then that you realize that you are holding something remarkable.   Perhaps it is not as astounding if this is your second, third or fourth iPhone.  It is my second and I still find it to be a remarkable machine.  I stared at the image of the icons for about two minutes before touching anything.  Were there more icons per page or not?  What is it that makes this thing look so incredible.  Why is my home page looking so clear?  Not that it was murky on my iPhone 3G.  Yes, it is that Retinal Display that Steve Jobs et al kept talking about.  I was begining to think it was a marketing ploy.  I saw a lot of apps putting out updates, not just for iOS 4.0, but for the Retinal Display.  I wondered what it was until this weekend.  And that is not to say that I have not played with the machine before in the store on its first day of release, I did.  But I did not notice the display.  Believe me, it is no gimmick.  This thing is for real.  I could go on and on about it - about how it makes my 3G pictures look incredible.  These became available after the first restore, which went flawlessly.  Suddenly even my worst pix, some of which were blurry, especially the close-ups looked a lot better.

Today, I tried the camera out and I have just one word to describe the Retinal Display -- WOW!  The differences are striking.  My close up shots are incredible.  I can actually read every line and every word of a document.  I can take a picture of a lesion and see it in close-up without difficulty.  5 megapixels makes a big difference (It's funny, but I have a 5 megapixel SLR and it's taken only 7 years to get it in a phone). 

To anyone who thinks that going from a 3G to an iPhone 4 is just a small step, I am here to tell you to think again.  Here are my favorite things about the phone thus far, after owning it for 2 days:

1.  The most important one of all:  MULTIPLE EXCHANGE CALENDARS.
2.  Folders.  About time!
3.  Outlook Invites.
4.  Retinal Display.
5.  Face Time.  When it actually works.  I can't get it to work from behind my work firewall.
6.  Speed.  This thing is...... dare I use the cliche:  SNAPPY!
7.  "Multitasking."  Short of being similar to Dashboard on OS X, this is a wonderful feature for doing things such as using the Calculator while using another App.

There are many more things that I will detail later, but for now, I'm busy looking for a snazzy Sena Case for this thing of beauty.   It is a wonderful machine.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Google OCR. One word: WOW!

Either I have been hiding under a rock for the past few months or Google just placed a gem into the documents market.  Placed above the menu of Documents was hidden a highlighted "New Features" section.  The section was laden with new additions to Google Documents, including a curved line feature.  But nothing stood out as much as the OCR feature.  According to Google, one can upload a PDF file to the Google Documents section and have it converted into a Google Document that is ready for editing.

I tried this today and noticed a near flawless result, with preservation of layouts etc., from a relatively complicated PDF document.  It was a poster on Psychiatry and it was reproduced flawlessly.  To prove that it was a google document and not a picture, I was able to edit the document.  I tried again, this time uploading a picture of a billboard with words on it.   The picture was of a billboard and Google Docs translated the words (sans the picture of course) flawlessly. 

Color me IMPRESSED !  Unfortunately I cannot upload the examples because the two documents have copyrights.  But again, that may be an issue that Google may have to deal with some time in the future.  I wonder if this was the same software that Google used in its book conversions? 

You owe it to yourself to try this one out.  It is truly brilliant.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Nalder's Lifedrive mLearning video...Neat.

Jonathan Nalder has made an interesting podcast entitled "Lifedrive mLearning."  It is an overview of the Lifedrive and I think it looks very interesting.  As explained on the website http://voicerecorderz.com/   "An www.mLearnxyz.net video overview of the Palm Lifedrive from an educational perspective."

Very nicely done.

(Click on title to take you there).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Amazon Kindle $189. Now we're talking...

I was asked the other day whether I would buy a Kindle. My answer is the same now as it was before: "Yes, if the price was right." Ladies and Gentlemen, the price has been made right.

Why, you may ask, would I subject myself to a machine that only shows books? Produces a monochrome image? Doesn't surf the web? Is awful with PDF's and places a number of restrictions on downloads. Not to mention fails in comparison to the iPad.  Why oh why?

Well, here's the answer. At $199, I think that this product is appropriately priced for what it does -- deliver books. At $199, this device can hook onto a local phone carrier and deliver a book in under a minute at no additional cost. This device will tie into my Amazon account, where I have most of my books anyway and bounce back and forth between my iPhone and the Kindle.

But more importantly, at $199, this device, with it's non reflective lighting, meaning that I will need a light source to read a book, it's solo attention to delivering books and its inability to download or use Apps or surf the web is a God Send! Why? Because the last thing that I need is a major distraction when trying to read a good book. If I have Apps and a glaring screen, I am inclined not to read a book at all.

The kicker is this: Not only does this device -whose only negative in my eyes is that it is not completely touch screen - deliver an ADHD-free reading environment, but it actually beats my fair price of $199, by selling as of June 21st, 2010 for $189.  This is the tipping point for me. What a wonderful start to the summer.


The Lifedrive Revisited: Lifedrive News 2010

Palm LifeDrive Mobile ManagerPalmOne 3218WW Aluminum Hard Case for LifeDrive Mobile Manager 
A non-nostalgic look at the Lifedrive news for today.  All information is current as of June 21st, 2010.

I will try to do a few updates to keep many of you abreast of information in the Lifedrive Universe.  It still exists, can you believe that?   Right now, I am still wondering if anyone is running Linux on the Lifedrive or if that effort has been abandoned?  I hope you find some of the information below helpful.  I will try to make a repository for Lifedrive news as time permits.  It's still an interesting device.

A quick roundup of Lifedrive news:

Noted a few 4gb Compact Flash Sites.  Appears that adding a Compact Flash card is big business in some parts of the country.  Still a little pricey, but at least people seem to care:

Unity Electronics is offering the card with installation for $79.

Site (http://www.unityelectronics.com/products/5196/Palm_LifeDrive_4GB_CompactFlash_Drive_Upgrade_Plug_and_Play_SanDisk_Ultra_II_CF_Memory_Card_New)

o  A blast from the past,  Sammy's PalmAddicts 2006 article that started the craze, written and performed by Vincent Torralba, Jr.  A How-To guide on replacing the hard drive in the Lifedrive with a CF card.

Site (http://palmaddict.typepad.com/palmaddicts/2006/09/my_lifeflash_fo.html).

o  How-to-Wikia has a very good article on doing the same.  It's pretty much the same information as Vincent's but included here for your perusal.

Site: ( http://how-to.wikia.com/wiki/How_to_replace_microdrive_with_compactflash_in_Palm_LifeDrive)

o  Palm, the company, is having a firesale on Lifedrive and other Palm accessories.  Now through June 30th, you can pick up a Lifedrive leather case (I used to have one of these), previously $30, now for $7.

Site:  (The Palm Store (until June 30th, 2010))

o  There is now a Wikipedia site devoted to the Lifedrive.

(Site:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LifeDrive)

o  The Kingston Cards are now selling at Firesale prices again,  although I wonder about this ad?  States that it is an 8GB Kingston CF card, but as far as I know, the Lifedrive can only handle 4GB memory.  I could be wrong, but for $20 it looks like a steal.  But some photographers are having some issues with it.  Read the reviews before buying.

Site:  Amazon Kingston 8 gig CF

o  The Lifedrive is still chugging along, as witnessed by a few Forum posts.  Note the date June 10, 2010:

Site:  http://forums.palm.com/t5/Support-Downloads/LifeDrive-Manager-HardDrive-Crashed/m-p/304252

o  Lifedrive Used Parts:

Site:  http://usedpdaparts.com/Lifedrive.html

o  OKAY, so I saved the best for last.  I ran into this ad a few days ago while surfing the web.  It's a pity that I cannot put it on my site selectively as an ad.  I really want to.   There is a company out in Mankato, Minnesota that will sell you a used Lifedrive with a 4gb CF card installed for about $160.  They can also replace the glass on your lifedrive with what they call a glass digitizer, which is an additional $25 if you want it installed on your CF unit.

Site:  http://www.palmdr.com/cart/palm-lifedrive-mobile-manager-palm-os-garnet-54-416-mhz-p-3.html

The company also repairs Lifedrives, which may come in handy for some of the defunct Lifedrives being toted around on Ebay.


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

On AT&T and the new pricing plan....

Today, AT&T announced new pricing plans for Smartphones.  Gone is the Unlimited plan for new subscribers, but old subscribers will be able to keep their existing unlimited plans for the new phone.

This is huge!  I ran to my usage log a few minutes ago to see how much data I have actually used since I got the phone.  I am certain that it is a lot more than shown, since I mainly use it on a WIFI network, so the limits appeared to be okay for me.  But what about for others?  I can visibly see this new pricing structure putting a serious dent in 3G music listening, not to mention video streaming.   Perhaps that was the intent.

In reviewing my own data usage, since I have never reset it, it shows that I have downloaded 2 gigabytes of data over 19 months of usage, while sending a total of 300 mb.  I also checked my usage for the previous month and noted that it was in the megabytes and not gigabytes, something that I found very interesting.  Perhaps my usage was not as intense as I had first imagined.  Or perhaps I am lucky to have WIFI wherever I go and just use 3G when that is not possible.  Remember, AT&T counts email as data and I have a lot of that coming in on a constant basis.  They also count all of those "pings" for badges that show that you have a text message or a message in an app.  Streaming data is also included.

The New AT&T Data Plan:

Data Plus  :  200 mb of Data for $15 per month. If you go over, you get another 200mb for $15.

Data Pro   :  2 GB data for $25 per month.  If you go over, you get an additional 1GB for $10.

According to AT&T, 65% of their smartphone users use less than 200mb per month.
While 98% use less than 2GB per month on average. 

AT&T provided a Data Calculator so that you can calculate your need at this time.  -> Data Calculator

Information provided from the AT&T website (AT&T) to go into effect on June 7, 2010.

There is an uproar across the internet right now, with blogs requesting that a letter be written to the CEO of AT&T.   However such a letter, as discovered by Giorgio Galante, may lead to a cease and desist letter from AT&T.  Such customer service!  No wonder why we are seeing some major rumblings about leaving AT&T.  This may also be the reason AT&T is preparing for what may indeed be inevitable:  The iPhone opening up to other companies in the US.   At the rate that things are going, with data fee changes and a contentious public relations policy, AT&T may be unlucky if a large majority of iPhone owners decide to take up residence with another provider.

However, there may be more to the changes in rates.  One option could be that AT&T knows what's coming down the pike.  Certainly a new iPhone. One that will compete with Google's Android on many levels.  But one that will usurp more bandwidth than AT&T can provide, particularly in the hardest hit metropolitan areas of New York and San Francisco.  What is crazy now, could be madness in two weeks as the new phones come into play.  It could also mean that AT&T knows about the iPad and its 3G demands.  The fact that NYC ran out of 3G iPads is testament to what will happen once Apple brings supply up to satiate the demand.   All of this 3G activity from two Apple devices, which may include Video Conferencing, is bound to obstipate the bandwidth.  Especially in the first two weeks of the release.  Let's see some of the rumors from various web sites for next week, which could account for AT&T putting a sweeper in the defensive line:

Rumor 1:  A video camera on the iphone.  Talk about bandwidth hogging.  Who wouldn't stay on line forever over 3G (if it worked), sucking up bandwidth forever.

Rumor 2:  (Confirmed Fact):  Pandora and other music entities will be allowed to run in the background.  More bandwidth hogging, this time 8 hours per day from work, subway, bus and anywhere that allows a cell phone.

Rumor 3:  Tethering.  I used to tether my Palm Vx to my cell phone and then my Lifedrive to the same via Bluetooth.  It was slow, but it worked.  Picture doing the same with a full fledged computer over 3G.  Picture doing this with FLASH running in the background (alone 1mb down), spreadsheets (1mb), attachments etc.  So before even starting, you're 2-3 mb in the hole.  (So much for the potential $15 (200mb) plan).   You can see how this could become very cumbersome, usurping at least 200 mb per session.

Rumor 4:  Android devices will need the internet for just about everything.  It stands to reason that when Google comes out with Froyo, everything will be linked to the internet and that will cause more bandwidth to be used.  Consider Google's Documents app.  You will be looking at multiple megabytes of data being downloaded.  My thoughts:  AT&T is shivering thinking about this potential.

Rumor 5:  Tied into Rumor 4, Apple may make MobileMe free!  Now picture Rumor 4 running on Google devices and now multiply that by about 10 for AT&T to include current owners of MobileMe and new owners of MobileMe all vying for bandwidth at the same time - uploading/downloading movies, pictures, music, sound files, applications all over 3G!  If AT&T shivered thinking about Google, there is now panic in the streets at the AT&T headquarters.

So what to do?  Well, if capacity cannot equal demand and you have the ability to lock in the already existing customers, you start to make some big decisions.  Some that could ruin you as a company or save the company going into the future:

  • You become proactive and ask customers to report low signal areas.  You then try to fix the problem (this seems to be working in some parts of the country).
  • You increase the price to get out of the AT&T contract from $175 to $325.  You claim that the new devices have nothing to do with this change.  Thus you prevent the cavalier purchases and the possibility of never recuperating the money spent to subsidize the phone.
  • Although this draws ire from the blogosphere, you know that people will still buy the new iPhone because you are the only one selling it.  And should the sky fall next year as the iPhone migrates to other carriers, you will still collect revenue from the current AT&T subscribers for they will think twice before leaving.
  • You support your claim that it is the Power Users who are hogging up the bandwidth.  You get rid of the unlimited plans and kick these vagabonds off the network, hoping that these power users will leave and go to Verizon where you only too happy to see them "clog their pipes."

All of this because AT&T knows that there is a lot more coming down the pike than they are letting on about.  Just the above mentioned possibilities and rumors are enough to require change on their side of the wall.

What is left to ponder is what about the consumer?  Is 2 gigabytes enough to satiate the average iPhone user?  Or more importantly, will 2 gigabytes be enough to satiate the NEW IPHONE USER?  Or will AT&T, and let's be fair, other companies including Verizon, do just enough tweaking of the bandwidth that they stifle innovation and cost developers a lot of money.  If nobody downloads a Pandora, Etrade streaming, Facebook, Twitter or similar apps for fear that it will eat up their bandwidth, the growth of the App store could come to an end.  Let's hope not.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HP buys Palm!

Well this one caught me by surprise!  All of this talk about Lenovo and HTC and speculative buyout quotes of $1.3b.  In the end, it was $1.2b and Old Tech buying ...well, Old Tech.  HP makes some innovative products, but no slam dunks.  Their software has left a lot to be desired - albeit coming secondarily from another company, but admittedly one must admit that the company has style.  They also have deep pockets and a sense of deep commitment to completing things once they get started, something that has been lost in the Palm world for a long time.  I actually admire the determination and drive that this company has.  It all stems from their early days in that garage.

Is it a good fit?  Only time will tell.  HP has been innovating as of late.  I was impressed at first by the Slate, although less so now than before, again due to software issues.  But the hardware looked solid.   I think that Palm brings an incredibly agile software solution to the table for HP that will mount a serious challenge to Apple and could supersede Microsoft Windows Mobile.  However this is where things get a little interesting.  Is HP a Microsoft company or a WebOS company?  What happens to the Slate?  Is WebOS going to be ported like Android?  And will we finally see another company get product integration right?  Only Apple appears to make hardware integration (ie. My Macs talk to each other; to the iPhone etc) simple and seamless. 

I think a Slate with WebOS would be fantastic.  Multitasking right out of the box.  With Palm being so meek at the moment it may be easy for HP to impose its will to make WebOS work in the right way, stopping the silly limitations that Palm has always put on their products which has hindered the company from going forward.  Also with HP we may begin to see more Palm innovation and decent mainstream commercials that will help the company instead of the crazy pandering to certain demographics. 

I think that the WebOS is a competitive platform.  It's not really for me due to its limitations, but I am very happy to see that someone found the value in Palm.  Although I can only hope that HP does something good with Palm, in the back of my mind I am hoping that they are not just buying them to get rid of them.  If they do amalgamate into one company to do good, we could see some very innovative products emanating from this merger.


Apple sets date for WWDC. It all comes together now....

In one of my posts I wondered about the reason for hosting the WWDC in late june, postulating that Apple was ready to disappoint in the quarter ending in June, due to relying solely on the iPad and Mac sales to drive the quarter.  Seems as though everyone got this one wrong.  If my estimates are correct, with WWDC being held on June 7th, this sets the quarter up nicely for a new release of the iPhone.

One wonders whether the events that took place at Gourmet Haus Staudt (where the prototype was lost) had anything to do with this.  One also wonders what will be offered up in late June since there is an opening there for an Apple meeting also.

With the Palm purchase by HP and Apple appearing to be pulling out all of the stops on the iPhone - with videoconferencing - this summer could end up being one of the best for innovation ever.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Update on Apple Engineer. Maybe no conspiracy after all....

Reports are now coming in that the Apple engineer did indeed frantically call the bar on several occasions asking if the phone had been brought back. 

This makes a lot more sense and now I have to take everything back.  Maybe this is a real prototype and maybe this is the phone.  Maybe there is no conspiracy. Click the title for details.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Conspiracy Theorists, how about this one?

Bloomberg today published an article, speculative as it may be, that Apple may tighten its noose around people attempting to "test" the iphone, limiting it to executives and a very close inner circle.  Granted!  But the final paragraph made me start to wonder about something:

Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs personally monitors the so-called carry list of staff members allowed to take pre-release devices off the company’s campus, according to the former employee. Approved staff members must sign an additional confidentiality agreement, the person said. 
 Citation:  Bloomberg (Link)

So, reading between the lines, if Steve Jobs personally monitors a carry list, wouldn't Apple have known about the missing device in March?  Wouldn't the most logical thing to do, if you were an employee, be to trace where you went before you lost the phone?  Apple knew the phone was lost because it shut down the phone remotely.  Or at the very least, the engineer shut down the phone immediately.  If you're able to do that, using the mobile software, why couldn't you use the tracking device to at least give an idea of where the phone is located?  Gizmodo and a few other blogs are saying that the tracking software does not presently work on iPhone OS 4.0.  So how does the wipe out work?  Or did the man at the bar, the one who found the phone, attempt to get into the phone more than 10 times producing an instant wipe out?

My point here is this.  Steve Jobs must have known about the lost iPhone and the most logical thing to have done would be to contact the bar where the phone was lost.  This was not done.  WHY?  I think you can see where I am going here. 

Here's my Conspiracy Theory.  Take it for what it's worth:  The end of the quarter is in June.  However, for reasons known only to the Apple Corp, the WWDC will not start until June 28th. A strange date if you want to see revenue, earnings from the iphone in that quarter.  There is a strong possibility that the iPhone being touted on Gizmodo is NOT the iPhone that will be released.  There is an even stronger possibility that the iPhone that we think is going to be released was deliberately left in the bar.  Crazy?  Well, not if you want to get all of the publicity out there before June.  Whip up the frenzy and then over deliver with a product that no one can refuse.  I believe that the final phone will look nothing like the one on Gizmodo and that this was in fact a deliberate play by Apple.  The responses given by the Apple engineer make me suspicious.  Gizmodo posted this and it didn't sound as if he was remorseful, scared or even livid.  Add to that Apple's unusual sublime letter to Gizmodo to send back its device as opposed to a Cease And Desist order that usually comes down like a mighty hammer and I think that you can see that this may have been a ploy by Apple to control the press or even gauge the thought processes of consumers:  Were they angry?  Overjoyed? Excited?  Yawning?  Salivating?  Additionally, what better way to get publicity and gauge the FanBoys and Techies than seeing if Gizmodo or Engadget will bite. 

Okay, so it's just a theory, but here's where it really gets interesting.  This quarter may be a wash!  Why would anyone buy an iPhone before July if you knew a new one was coming out?  A possible reliance on Mac sales and 3G iPads could ensue for this coming quarter, but the latter is a low margin affair.  This will not affect earnings well, possibly leading to a downturn in the stock on the day of the earnings release, but recovering once consideration is given to what is coming next.  No, it is possible that the September and the obvious December Quarter (New iTouches) are where Apple is hoping to shine.  This product "leak" may have been a test to see just how much it will be accepted before the final product is made.   And what, if anything, the tabloid geeks really want.

Yeah, call me a conspiracy theorist, but let's face it, you are thinking about it right?


Amazon Kindle to Target....

I have to say that the Kindle is looking like a very attractive device right now.  If it was priced correctly, I would have purchased one a long time ago.  You say "What, are you kidding?"  I say "No."

The fact that the Kindle does only one thing - Read Books, is a plus to me right now.  A few days ago I wanted to read a book by Sun Tsu.  This was on a friends iPad, however, I ended up surfing the web and playing with virtual controls and apps.  I found it difficult to concentrate on reading with all of the apps available.  I have not tried the Amazon Kindle, except with a few patients, who absolutely love the device.  

One reason I am interested is that the Kindle does only one thing - books. With the Kindle coming to Target, I will be able to see if the Kindle is worth having.   Or if I will have to wait for a touchscreen version.  I simply hate buttons.  Target on sunday eh?  I'll be there.


Monday, April 19, 2010

I didn't really want to learn about the new iPhone like this...

Gizmodo today posted a sensational story of a fellow, who works as an Engineer at Apple and who one night got drunk and left the prototype iPhone 4.0 on a bar stool.  The story is amazing and I wonder if it is all true or if it is a plant ordered by Steve Jobs to get the crazy masses riled up for the next generation iPhone?  Or even free advertising?

I really hope that "the fix" is on because for many reasons, I have a problem with the news story published by Gizmodo if they actually have the real gadget:

1.  First, they paid $5,000 for the device.  When does journalism become a cross between getting the story out versus overtly paying for stolen property?

2.  Why did Gizmodo publish the name of the Engineer?  Was it necessary?

3.  Although I am riled up for the next iPhone, I really don't mind waiting for Steve Jobs getting on stage and presenting it when all of the kinks are ironed out, so that we are seeing what will run seemlessly as opposed to all of the speculation.

4.  I really wanted to be surprised by the hardware.  There is a wow factor when Steve Jobs presents a device.  Now, we will be deprived of that.

5.  If you are a stock owner, you could get HOSED?  Why?  Well here is my prediction if this is the new iPhone (Note, this is fictitious):

Picture Steve Jobs onstage looking over the audience and introducing the new iPhone at the WWDC.

SJ:  We've sold over ........ and we are still amazed at the sale of the iPad...
Blogger (Translating immediately):  Chatting about past sales. Yawn. 
SJ:  Now I would like to show you what we've been working on.
Blogger:  Steve still looks thin, but he's getting ready to show it. 
(Stock vacillates +0.25 to -0.25 as the speech goes on). 
SJ:  We call this the iPhone 4.0 or the iPhone HD.
Blogger:  Nailed it.  Yup, it's the same one that we showed you 8 weeks ago.  Yup we nailed it.
(Stock trades down 0.25). 
Jim Goldman:  And Apple shows a device that was seen 8 weeks ago.
SJ:  It has a front facing camera and a back facing camera with a flash.
Blogger:  Yup, we told you that too!  Boy we are good.  We nailed it!
SJ:  There is interaction with Facebook on this revolutionary device ... and now for something never before seen on a phone - videoconferencing.
Blogger:  Yup, he's showing Videoconferencing.  ... So 8 weeks ago.  Yawn.
Jim Goldman:  And Apple's stock beginning to experience a little sell on the news as Steve Jobs continues to show the latest iPhone. In addition, we are seeing few surprises today following that Gizmodo article.
(Stock trades down $3.00). 
Blogger:  Yup, we've seen this already.  C'mon!
SJ:  This revolutionary device......


This is the blogosphere where everything has to be new, new, new.  No wonder Palm cannot compete in this environment.  There is no thought given to  the ingenuity or the time taken to come up with a device such as this.  That 1 hour presentation is vital to letting me know what this device can do.  If this bar-device is the real thing, I will be disappointed, but I am still excited about the future that this phone will bring.  (One interesting thought though.  I thought memory classifications were at the power of 2? ie. 2,4,8, 16, 32, 64, 128?  Where does 80gb come from?).  Is it 128 with a 48 gig OS or Protected memory?  Or worse - complete nonsense?

It is exciting though isn't it?  I'm just not sure that I feel better knowing about it now though.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

iPhones and ipads galore

I am at a medical conference and cannot believe the number of iPhones
in the conference room. Seen 4 ipads and counted over 40 iPhones in
the room. 200 participants over 2 days. Second counted were Palm
treos all running Palm OS and not Windows. However I only saw 4 of
those. Rough epidemiology count shows no age differentials.

Rather amazing finding. Developers, I think you should know your new


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Palm Firesale? Am I missing something here?

Okay, so we know that Palm is up for sale.  This information is now over 48 hours old.  However Shaw Wu from Kaufman Brothers reckons that Palm will be sold in a fire sale for prices that are either similar to the $5 that we are seeing today or lower.  In a note to investors he wrote:

""We remain concerned that it may be a 'take-under,' meaning a price that is below its current share price," Kaufman Bros. (Citation:  Kaufman Brothers Note). "

Now, I am not an analyst nor do I make any bones to be a stock market guru, but a little bit of research brought this little gem forward about a company named Huawei, thought to be an early suitor for Palm.  Apparently Palm began talking to this company in "mid february" about a possible takeover, according to Thestreet.com and Reuters:

"Huawei was approached through its investment bank sometime in mid-February for "preliminary discussions,"a source told Reuters. The source said discussions hadn't since moved forward.  "

(Citation:  TheStreet.com Link ).

A quick review of Palm's stock price from February to March shows the following (Prices are at the weekly close):

Week of      Weekly close

2/1              10.38
2/8                9.99
2/16              9.25
2/22              6.09

3/1                5.7
3/8                5.46
3/15              3.96
3/22              3.65
3/29              3.71

The question that arises if you are a shareholder in Palm and not on the board or on the inside is when exactly did that meeting take place?  What caused the stock to drop so precipitously, going down 33% in one week?  If the companies met somewhere before 2/16 (literal translation of mid february would mean around 2/14), then one could hope for a buyout at 8 or 10.  If not, then the market drop today is predicting that it was during the week of 2/22 with the weekly close at 6, hence the price drop today to $5.16.  Or could another company pay a premium for the company which floated above the $10 mark for a while?

Sad days, but if you are a shareholder, perhaps high risk and possibly high return days if Shaw Wu is wrong, especially if that meeting took place before 2/16.  


Sunday, April 11, 2010


Bloomberg is reporting that PALM has put itself up for sale. What a sad day this is if the rumors are true. I remember the early days of Palm and can reflect back on a time when this company really ruled the handheld market. What a difference a few years make. A misstep here, a faulty product launch there and a lagging Operating system brought this company down. Even with a sensational product like the PRE, the company did it all too late.

I shed a tear for this company. I personally tried, by starting this blog, to contribute to the Palm blogosphere and my requests for updates and additions were more out of love for the company that was and the company that I wanted it to be. Who can forget the day that they set their eyes on the Palm III ? It was a thing of beauty. Or the slider on the Palm V? I actually had two of them. That was innovation ! Palm really showed how to build a platform that was sustainable and profitable. Almost every physician that I knew had a Palm Pilot. It would go off in meetings. We would beam our cards, notes, addresses and files to each other. We would scribble our thoughts with various types of styli.

One day when I started a new job many years ago, I remember my partner suggesting that some salacious activity was going on between myself and an attractive looking drug rep. She had a Handspring (keep the puns to yourself, this is G-Rated :)), and she had all of the latest games and new software available. Not worrying about viruses at the time, I would always welcome the additions. She would beam these to me on her monthly visits. It turned out that her fiance was a developer, so I would get a lot of "free" programs and test them. My partner only heard "beaming" and other terms during the lunch breaks and always made sly comments. Well it wasn't too long before he joined the party. Not only that, but he became an advisor to Epocrates within two years. So much for salacious activity :).

Those were the early days. Along the way I met some wonderful people in the Palm hemisphere. A few developers and of course Sammy McLoughlin from PalmAddicts who remains steadfastly one of the staunchest supporters of Palm. He is also a very good guy. He was single handedly responsible for putting this blog on the charts. Again, it stemmed from my love affair with Palm. Apparently just about everyone on the Palmaddicts blog had the same love affair. This same affliction led to a meeting with Ryan Block and Peter Rojas during one of their whirlwind Engadget meetups. They offered great advice. All of this, because of PALM.

Of course my departure from Palm land happened in spirit in late 2006. I was becoming very much removed from the over promising and under delivering, not to mention the poor hardware that lacked innovation and kept on crashing - THE LIFEDRIVE. But on a day that I worked, but kept hitting F5 while surfing Engadget, I could not believe what happened next! If I was spirtitualy removed from Palm in late 2006, I was mentally divorced on that morning in January. Steve Jobs presented the iPhone and it appeared that this was the answer - a solid state device that was a PIM, small computer and a phone WITHOUT A STYLUS. I welcomed it, not only because it was brilliant, but because I thought it would put some fire into Palm. What happened next made the spiritual and mental break a complete physical one. It appeared that Palm was in panic mode! The rest of course is history.

But I prefer to remember the good times. The CASL Basic days, the NSBasic days along with programs like Smartlistogo and Handbase. Literally these small apps changed the way in which I lived. They served as organizing points and the Palm devices really stressed the things found in "The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People" by Steven Covey. Prioritization and historically recording facts; dumping the Franklin Covey address books and the never ending desk, wall and hand held calendars. Palm was it! I remember being in a small town and people crowding around me to look at my Palm V. I fondly remember in 1998 seeing the first Palm device at a dinner meeting when someone asked for my address. Yes, I needed that. It wasn't a want.

Now they will be no more! I am really going to miss this company. I will miss their once superior innovation skills. But really, despite the misses, I want to go on record to say THANK YOU PALM for all that you have given us. You changed the world. You were one of the true innovators, where many emulated/copied/plagiarized/
stole from you in the name of competition, you remained true to your calling - Innovation and simplicity.

T H A N K Y O U S O M U C H !!!!!


Friday, April 09, 2010

iPhone 4.0 My thoughts....

I have a few thoughts about the upgrade. First of all, I do want to upgrade my phone due to the low ram and the ridiculous quantity of apps that I have collected over the past year. Many of them free, but with some apps priced at 0.99 and 1.99, the ecosystem is a "suckers paradise." I figure that Apple is making millions of dollars from this "Crack Garden." And when the software is done right, you cannot complain. You come running back for more. Believe me, no one is exempt from this.

I had planned on handing over my current 3G phone to my wife, but I think that she would want multitasking and video recording and, well, you get the point. She thought about giving it to the kids, but I think that's a big mistake, until she added "to use as an emergency phone. It's only $6.99 per month to add a line." Gosh, even AT&T is in on this "suckers paradise." So it is that if the pricing is favorable (and I mean really favorable, because I am a miser when it comes to these things), we will have two new iPhones (? iPhone HD, iPhone 4.0? iPhone 4G?), whatever they decide to call it.

For me, the high points of this new update are many, but none more so than # 1 and # 2. I have been waiting for #1 forever. So, without further ado, here's my opinion on yesterday's preview:

1. Multiple Exchange Accounts.

You know, I think Steve actually reads his emails, the blogs and reviews. I actually sent him two personal emails on this subject. Not expecting to receive an answer, I saw this voiced on many other boards. The iPhone has replaced all of my email reading tasks. I am no longer tied to a desk to read my messages. When I had a Palm, the actual idea of writing a response back with a stylus nauseated me. Now, I can even dictate the response back without problems.
But really, what was important to me was this. I never ever wanted to share my private family life with the company that I work for. Don't get me wrong. I love the company that I work for. They treat me well, but sharing the fact that I have to go to my kids' basketball game or show up at the PTA or go to my Mother's house for dinner just didn't feel right. Worse! Keeping two separate calendars was a real pain. Although I have not seen the implementation as of yet, I am hoping that we will be able to show both calendars superimposed. Bravo on this one.

2. Local Alerts.

Read my take on this in the previous post. But this should have been available in 2007. I mean calling this a new feature is a bit embarrassing.

3. Multitasking.

A lot has been written about this, but I think that the furor has been overblown a little. I really think that multitasking comes in a few flavors, but most are battery draining and performance lugs as noted on both the new Android devices and ALL Windows Mobile devices. For me, I have rarely ever wanted to use two apps at once. But there has always been the one exception: The Calculator. Although I am happy with Multitasking, so that we can use the calculator, I would have much rather have the OS-X approach to this which was to use DASHBOARD. For those of you who don't use a Mac, Dashboard in my opinion was the single most advanced feature that turned many people - myself and my family included- into Mac lovers. It utilized widgets that were installed into the Dashboard system and upon pressing the middle button on the mouse, overlayed a series of widgets - ie. Weather, calculator, sometimes games, time, and a host of downloadable widgets - which did not interfere with whatever it was that you had on the screen. With another click or hitting escape, the overlay disappeared and you had your original display. It was almost as if you were running two separate entities in one. I always thought that this would be transferred to the iPhone, but it has not been. Personally, I would prefer the widget approach, particularly for the Calculator and the Calendar. Nevertheless, I can't argue with the Multitasking approach detailed yesterday.

I guess the one question that keeps popping up is are we really seeing multitasking? It would appear that whatever is running in the background, actually isn't running, but suspended. I have always thought about the Unix approach, which is a program doing a calculation, say 1+1=2,+1=3,+1..... while in another window you're doing something else, but upon return, you see something like 4096+1=4097,+1...., instead it looks like you'll see: 3+1=4,+1=5...., Pause, return 5+1=6,+1=7,+1. But they did show Skype working in the background. So I am not sure how this works. Is it suspended or is it active in the background? I really didn't understand Scott Forstall's explanation of this. I'm sure that developers will bring this up later.

4. CalDAv invitations.

Another Duh moment! This is another one of those things that, if it is what I think it is, should have been in the OS a long time ago. How many times have you gotten an invitation or an appointment in an email? In windows, you can click on the appointment and it sends it to Outlook and puts it in the calendar. This is one of those things that should have been available from at least the second iteration of the phone. But kudos to Apple for listening again. I really think that they listen attentively.

Can you believe it? These are the top 4 things that I am excited about with the iPhone. Yes, I like the bookstore, but I've got Amazon's Kindle on my iPhone already and it's doing a fine job, not to mention Stanza, which does a great job for books I've had from my Palm days. There is a lot to like about this update and luckily my contract is up in a few months so upgrading - if the price is right - will be a good thing.



Did anyone see the SDK4 picture below? It was presented during the presentation. It was really glossed over, but I found a few interesting things in the diagram, mainly in the almost blurred tiny settings. See what you think about these:

1. iPod remote control accessories.

A-hem? What in the world? Are we talking about IR remotes, WiFi remotes? It's just a blurb, but it looks really interesting. Could it compete with Logitech's Harmony or is Logitech a part of this?

2. Embed PDF metadata.

I have no idea what this would be used for. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is it possible to label all of my journals with metadata for specific storage? Is it a DRM feature (not so nice if it is)?

3. In-App SMS.

Sounds delightful.

4. ?Dock based orientation.

I think that is already in place, but I could be wrong.

5. Date Data Detectors.

Absolutely wonderful and I would presume goes in place with the CalDAV explained above.

6. Address Data Detectors.

What a welcome addition. Less typing. No copy and pasting. Wonderful addition.

7. Tuesday 17.

Okay, this one is a bit of a stretch. But in the box of goodies, there's a date that shows Tuesday 17th. Tuesday is a popular day for Apple. A lot of newly released products come out on that day, but granted I am falling into the Distortion Field again - didn't I tell you, no one is immune? - so, I got to thinking, if it was good enough for the Beatles to play these sorts of games, why not Apple? Tuesday 17th, falls in August. Could we see the new iPhone or iPod Touch or iMac or whatever, on Tuesday, August 17th? I don't really think that this was a random picture. But maybe it is. In medicine we call these zebras, when you hear the clickety clack of a 4 - legged creature wearing horse shoes walking outside your window. Most of the times it's obvious, it's just a horse, but there's always someone who thinks it might be a Zebra. And today that's me :):).