Friday, July 30, 2010

Flipboard: the same stuff, but more interesting looking

Flipboard is an app with an interesting premise: display your choice of news and social chatter in a "digital magazine" format, complete with cover and magazine-style layouts.

While the project seems to still be in a sort of beta mode (I had to wait a week or so to be able to hook into my Facebook and Twitter accounts), the content is displayed in a visually enticing way, leading to me actually reading more content than I would if I had to click through a long scrolling page. The act of flipping pages tends to break up that monotony.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Who needs MORE magic?

This week, Apple released its Magic Trackpad accessory for desktop computers (and I suppose notebooks too if one is so inclined). While I can appreciate its appeal to heavy notebook users, I still think it's a rather odd device. However, one of my favorite apps for my iPad already provides the exact same functionality (minus a few of the gestures) as the Magic Trackpad.

My iPad has an app called iTeleport installed on it through which I am able to fully control my Mac Mini desktop via any internet connection anywhere. The image above shows what happens when I put it into "trackpad" mode, and the entire iPad's screen literally becomes a Magic Trackpad. I use this on occasion and have to admit that the result is great. Moving my finger around and scrolling by dragging two fingers around works flawlessly. The app has come in handy on numerous occasions, such as when I was on vacation recently and accessed photos from my computer not stored on my iPad remotely. I'll remind you that I was 3,000 miles away when I did this (my Mac Mini doesn't get turned off anymore because of this app).

What makes my iPad so much greater is that it doesn't have to be a trackpad 24/7, I can use it for so many different things. The iTeleport app is actually far more advanced than these two uses. At its fullest capacity, it can be keyboard, mouse, and display for my computer all at once.

So while I think the Magic Trackpad is pretty cool, I have a MORE magical Apple's own admission (Apple referred to the iPad as a new "magical" device when it was announced earlier this year; the tech press had a lot of fun making fun of that statement).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dog on a bench

Just playing with my new camera app on my iPhone. Twinkie makes a good test subject when trying stuff out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My non-review iPhone 4 review

As anyone who has ever met me knows, I am an absolute technophile. I am happy to keep myself current on new technologies in all forms, be it personal computing, automotive, aeronautical, home appliances, mobile phones, cameras, speakers; really, I love gadgets.

For as long as I've wanted a computer to call my own, I've held a fascination with Apple computers. I remember asking my parents many years ago for an iMac (the kind with the swivel LCD screen on the circular hub) when they told me I could get a PC (this was in 2001). I never got the iMac; I ended up with a Compaq that I customized heavily, and subsequently built my computers until I graduated college. Building computers was an absolute dream for me. I got to tinker around with all sorts of parts and knew what every component running in my systems were. Alas, with building a system of your own comes the headaches when things don't work properly, and I know those well.

Last July I had the fortune (and savings) to purchase my very first Apple computer - my Mac Mini. After using it for the last year I can barely imagine a time when I didn't own a Mac, my expectations have been grossly surpassed.

Also in 2001 (or 2002, it was high school and I don't remember it well) I got my first cell phone, a Sony Ericsson T61z. It was very special to me; it had a joystick and could play a game that was sort of like Snake on the Nokia phones, but instead of eating dots you had to fill in spaces and avoid bouncing dots (hard to describe, excessively addictive). My friends fondly called the phone "the fish" because it had a bulging top and skinny bottom (and looked sort of like a fish if held sideways).

Now, more than any other type of gadget, I've owned more cell phones than anyone I've ever known. I believe the iPhone 4 is my 16th cell phone, and even then it's my 6th smartphone.

The distinction between a smartphone and a regular cell phone is important: smartphones are far more like miniature computers than cell phones, you can install programs on them to do other functions than make calls and send text messages. They are also far more useful when used with a mobile internet data plan than just cell phone minutes.

All this being said, I'm writing to explain why I don't feel the need to review my iPhone 4. Yes, I was excited to get one; yes, I waited in line for 5+ hours on release day to obtain it. And yes, I would say it's the best phone I've ever used. So why am I not going to break down every feature of it?

Because I already had an iPhone before this one. Specifically the iPhone 4 is nothing more than the latest and greatest in the iPhone line; but any review of the older iPhones will give the same sentiment of the new one that I feel. It revolutionizes the way that people think of mobile computing like no device I've ever owned can. What Apple understands (and has come to understand very quickly, the original iPhone was released in 2007) is that user experience is the single most important aspect of a mobile device. They also make gorgeous hardware, but at the end of the day, Jonathan Ives said it best "when you use it, the device gets out of the way". Just like my iPad, using an iPhone is to forget you're using a cell phone or any sort of mobile device. The gadget is exactly what you are using it for at that instant.

How do I use my iPhone? First and foremost this iPhone is my pocket camera. I downgraded from the K850i I started this blog with to use my iPhone 3G because of the many many different functions the iPhone could perform, but I always missed the great camera. This iPhone has a similarly powered camera and takes gorgeous photos, with the only exception being that it lacks a real flash. Nonetheless, when I have a picture to take, I'm happy to have this camera in my pocket 24/7 if my Panasonic isn't around.

And what about apps? Keeping touch via text messaging, email, or Twitter is very much part of my everyday life, and the iPhone does this so well. The conjunction of being able to take a great photo and instantly post it to, my Twitter feed, send it to friends, etc is a great opportunity for spontaneous creativity, similar to how my iPad allows me to finger sketch whenever I feel like it without needing to find paper or pencil.

My iPhone is my alarm clock, day planner, radio (Pandora and Slacker offer an infinite library of music on top of my own collections), I use it to find restaurants, read current news, explore my surroundings, listen to books, take quick notes that are instantly synced to my Mac Mini (and vice versa), and play games during 5 minute breaks.

The ability to perform just a handful of these tasks would be enough to make me want one, and yet this does everything so well it's quite unbelievable. When I think about all of the different devices that have been replaced by a single cell phone (mp3 player, point and shoot camera, GPS device, email device, gameboy, a book, and in some cases a laptop computer), I am extremely pleased with the world I live in.

So yes, I love my iPhone, but anyone who knows me already knew that I would.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Over the last couple of months, Emmanuel and I have been making a lot of modifications to the interior and exterior of my xA. Today I finished one of the final mods, removing my rear windshield wiper and filling in the front door keyholes, and felt like posting some photos of the near-final product. I know the carbon fiber vinyl is a little hard to see, but the overall effect in person is great.