Archive for September, 2007

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Media storage solution deployment day

Sunday, September 30th, 2007


Yesterday was media storage solution deployment day. As noted in the new media page on Futurist Now my DVD collection is starting to get out of hand. I went to Ikea with Brien and picked up a few black and white patterned Bennos to augment my DVD storage capabilities. I used to use this Billy bookshelf (also from Ikea – go figure), and as you can see from how many DVD’s got moved to the Bennos in the reorganization shuffle it was previously stuffed to the gills.

I really like the Benno because it’s smaller – it holds only 80 DVD’s. This small size allows me to slowly buy more of them as my collection expands and always have ‘just enough’ storage. They are brain dead simple to assemble to boot. The Bennos only need a screwdriver to assemble, and each one only take about 10 minutes to put together into a surprisingly solid construction with easy to adjust shelf height.

benno” by sparktography

iTunes Smart Playlists

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

iTunes Smart Playlist

I’ve allowed my obsession with Smart Playlists in iTunes to get a little out of hand. After spending the last month combing through my media collection, tweaking ID3 tags, and rating as I go I’m learning how to create personalized radio experiences from my library that are easy to manage and sync/update automatically with my iPhone. By making a series of smart playlists with size limits limited by least recently played I can keep both my iPhone and my Apple TV stocked to the brim with a great music selection that gradually changes as I listen to it.

While the Smart Playlists feature is amazingly powerful I have unfortunately discovered a few pieces of highly useful metadata that are not exposed as options for the creation of iTunes Smart Playlists. These all seem like simple things to add, and would enable some really cool Smart Playlist scenarios. Here are the things I think iTunes is missing on this one:

If anyone at Apple is listening please, PLEASE get these added to the next version of iTunes! They all look reasonably simple to implement and would make me one happy iTunes geek!

Halo 3 gamer fuel: the definitive review

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Gamer Fuel

In the interest of expanding my life experiences and getting “my game on” I decided to try the much hyped Gamer fuel, Mountain Dew’s new Halo 3 themed “Dew with an invigorating blast of citrus cherry flavor” featuring 170 calories of sugar and 73mg of caffeine.

Initial impressions:
Upon opening the can I was struck by a fizzing fruity bouquet, with hints of pine. The smell reminds me of a mix between kool-aid and pine-sol. I poured a slight bit into a glass to inspect the rich red-orange colors. While in the white cup it looks suspiciously like very thin orange-ish fake blood from a great number of movies I watched as a child.

The first sip:
Pine-sol and kool-aid suspicions confirmed. The flavor is very artificial and tastes just like it smelled: lime and cherry kool-aid packets mixed with a pine-needle whisk. My mouth instantly got dry and gummy – the sheer amount of sugar in a sip is likely more than I usually consume in a day. Never being one to shy away from the challenge I take a big gulp.

The big sip was a mistake – my teeth started hurting, and shortly after swallowing my stomach followed suit. Now 10 minutes and 1/4th of a can later I feel like laying down and taking a nap. My mouth feels and tastes like a gummy bear crawled in, died, and is now decomposing slowly in the back of my throat. What have you done to me Gamer Fuel?

The verdict:
What freakish executive at Pepsi approved this hyper-sweet monstrosity? Why is it selling? Should I buy stock in companies producing medical equipment for diabetics?

iPhone 1.1.1 is out – my frustrations with the WiFi Music store

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

This morning Apple released updates for the iPhone bringing forth a bevy of new features including the slick new WiFi music store, better iPod controls, your choice of incoming SMS alerts, and other minor tweaks and refinements throughout the iPhone. The iPhone gained a few features already introduced in the iPod Touch like bringing up media controls when the home button is double tapped and a cool trick where double tapping the space bar inserts a period and a space to help cut down on finger taps.

The WiFi music store lets users purchase songs on-the-go using any WiFi hotspot which essentially puts the entire multi-million track library of iTunes in your pocket – perfect for a quick impulse buy from time to time. It would be perfect for the impulse-heavy consumer like me – if it worked on my iPhone!

I’m having store authorization problems so I can’t actually buy anything right now. It’s rejecting my credentials to the point of locking my account, when I know I’m entering them correctly. I even verified my credentials on a desktop just to make sure I wasn’t having a senior moment.

Password attempts

I wrote up up a more detailed report of my WiFi Music Store experience for Gear Live if you want to know more. For now I’ll have to sulk about with my existing library while on-the-go and be content with the other features released today.

iPhone reviews, studies, and commentary of the day

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Vaja iVolution Top SP Holster for the iPhone

I just posted a couple of great articles to Gear Live on the Apple iPhone. First up is a bit of commentary and a link to the usability study performed by Computerworld which pits Apple’s iPhone, the HTC Touch, and the Nokia N95 against each other in a usability battle royale. Obviously the iPhone scores high marks, but there are some other interesting insights to be garnered from the review relating to how it differs from it’s main competitors in the touch-based phone world.

Next up I posted my in-depth review of the Vaja iVolution Top SP Holster case (featured in the image above) which is my current favorite iPhone accessory. It’s both stylish and protective – a great combination for a sexy device like the iPhone. You can check out the full review here.

Vaja iVolution Top SP Holster for the iPhone” by sparktography

Happy with EDGE?

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

iPod Observer just posted about an Information Week article about AT&T’s upcoming HSUPA upgrades for their network which will increase 3G speeds up to sixfold in some cases. AT&T’s president Richard Burns commented that iPhone customers are happy with the EDGE (2.5G) network.

We’re surveying them in large numbers week in and week out. They’re telling us their EDGE experience is great.

I’m sorry, but I have to call plain and simple bullshit. The newly improved EDGE network is faster than the old one, and makes browsing the web possible on an iPhone, but certainly not “great”. The fantastic iPhone WiFi experience makes up for it, but whenever a hotspot is not handy life on the EDGE network is barely faster than dial-up internet access in a day when modern web content is designed with broadband network connections in mind.

Apple needs to hurry up and drop with the 3G iPhone – the modern capabilities of the device paired with a more modern network connection would make for the true killer phone.

Skitch: 5 minutes in

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Skitch rocks!

The geniuses over at Plasq have created another application, and while it hasn’t won any awards yet (it’s still in beta) but it’s certain to do so shortly. Skitch allows you to show the world something on your Mac effortlessly rather than try tell them about it in writing or sending massive and unmanageable screenshots. I’m 5 minutes into my experimentation with it and I already can tell this is one of the coolest applications I’ve played with in a while. It makes image capture and annotation a breeze, and does it all with a highly polished elegance.

Skitch allows you to capture screenshots, windows, webcam images, and all sorts of other media into its editing window. Once you have a base image it’s easy to annotate and edit the image with text, handwriting, or other shapes then one click saves it up to the Skitch site on the web for easy sharing. If you don’t want to go the upload route it’s easy to drag your creation into any other application on your mac, or just save the finished file to disk.

I’ll be writing a much more in-depth review on Gear Live over the next couple of days so stay tuned and check my Gear Live posts for more info on this delicious little software treat.

UPDATE:As amazing as the Skitch application is that’s not everything Plasq is throwing on the table with Skitch. Now that I’ve spent a few more minutes with it the service side of Skitch is starting to shine. The ability to save and upload one of your creations (skitches?) to the Skitch service with a single click is wonderfully simple and well implemented. Once the upload is complete you are taken to a webpage for that creation where you can share it with friends as simply as pasting a link into an IM, e-mail, or forum and you can instantly share what you just created. Check out the Skitch page for the photo above.

Akiva and Shae get hitched!

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Newlywed glow

Yesterday brought the marriage of Akiva and Shae in a beautiful ceremony. Attending was an interesting experience for me as this is the first Jewish wedding I’ve ever attended. While I didn’t directly understand any of the Hebrew prayers or blessings it was still fun to observe. I was very touched by how emotional Akiva got – he was shaking during the ceremony, and you could tell it really was a bit overwhelming for him.

The photo above is my favorite couples shot. I also really liked this shot of Eric, my capture of Shawna’s back, and this trippy twin-like shot of Troy. For all photos from the wedding check out my Flickr set of their wedding, or check out their Flickr wedding pool where hopefully other guests will also post some of their photos.

Congrats guys – myself and all your friends are wishing you the brightest of futures and the best of lives together!

It happens to the best of us

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

People get older and fatter – I now realize just how much it’s happening to me. My friends Akiva and Shae are getting married today and while getting I discovered that none of my slacks fit any more. It’s been years since I’ve worn them so I’m not entirely surprised that they were no longer tailor fit, however I was a little surprised (offended, repulsed, aghast) to discover by what margin they no longer fit. It’s not even a matter of being slightly too small – the clasps are now inches away from each other, straining in vain to connect. Oh well – it happens to the best of us.

Oh yeah: have a fun life and a great marriage Akiva and Shae – Congratulations!

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