Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

The belated, and very very short, Cybook Opus review…

I’ve been busy lately. Reason? I got a job at Riidoo, the company that lent me the Cybook Opus. This puts me in an awkward position for reviewing it. But I can make a genral review, I think.

The Opus proved to me that the eReader is a very valid product. But it needs to be accepted as a single purpous device. It can’t, nor should it, compete with the likes of the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The E-ink screen is surprisingly good to read and I spent several weeks in bright sunlight this summer reading. It should be noted that I rarely read books in sunshine, since it gets to bright for me. E-ink is a little dimmer than paper, not much, but enough to make it more readable in bright light for me.

The Opus in it self is a very nice little reader. At 150 grams it is still the lightest reader on the market. Sure, it’s only a 5″ screen, which is enough for reading, but if you want to read comics a 6″ will be a much better choice.

If there is a negative with the Opus it is that you have to connected to a computer to transfer books to it. There is no wireless connection. Also, I feel the unit, wile cute, is rather plasticy. I wish it had a more rigid feel to it.

Over all though, I like this device. I love ereaders as such, and this is definatley one of the better readers to get.

 

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Tech-predictions and wishes for 2010

I thought that we at the TwilightShadows might as well do one of these too… And since I’m a MacHead, let’s start with some Apple related predicitons and wishes.

  1. Just as everyone else I’m hoping for the Apple Tablet. This is a device that by now has to come out weather Apple want’s to build it or not. Come on Steve, give us a Tablet! The eReader category is slowly taking off, but I seriously think it need someone like Apple to work out how that space needs to look, work and think. The reason is, Apple is pretty much content agnostic in many ways. Google wants to sell ads, Amazon wants to sell books, Apple is a hardware company, they want to sell the Apple hardware-software experience. Sure, content might be tied to the iTunes Store, but anyone can sell stuff through that. Wether you like it or not, Apple did whip the music/MP3 business as well as the smartphone industry into shape. It doesn’t really matter if you like iTunes/iPod/iPhone. Without them there would be no Microsoft Zune, no Palm Pre and probably no Android, at least not as we know it.
  2. The second thing I hope for from Apple is iPhone OS 4.0. I think this is a pretty fair bet for this summer. In it I would like to see some app multi-tasking allowed. Especially concerning music-playing apps like CBS Radio, Y! Music, SHOUTCast and Spotify. For these it makes sense to be able to run as back-ground processes, and they are not helped by push-notifications. I also wouldn’t mind a more flexible lock-screen of the types found on some Android phones, with some Web 2.0 widgets etc. running. When it comes to the iPhone hardware I think they might actually baffle us. We’ve been given better and better versions of essentially the same hardware now since the original iPhone, it’s time to revise the design a bit. Though arguably, it is just a touch-up needed, the real improvements could just be in software. For all the talk of Apple as a hardware-company, they’ve always seem to have viewed the iPhone as a software driven platform.
  3. iTunes Store music subscriptions, and e-books. And why not, audiobook subscriptions? At any rate, I think 2010 will be a big year for the iTunes Store, that will change the game in the eCommerce industry once again.

When it comes to other predictions they are more sporadic. I think we might see the next gen gaming consoles demoed, though not released. I think Google will continue to dominate the world, and if they as promised start to implement some of the new technologies such as GPS-based search, Google Goggles (please Google, make a version for the iPhone! Please!) and Voice search, things will become really interesting! (I know they already use this to some extent, but a wider use and more mashing of various Google services.)

The irony with the search thing is that it may bring Microsoft and Apple closer together! The Bing app (it’s been removed from the Swedish store. Does anyone know why?) for the iPhone is actually a very good looking app, and it seems to work pretty well, though for me it has been much more crashy than the Google app. I think that Microsoft in their heart of hearts realize that Windows Mobile is dead. They still keep at it because no one wants to be the one to tell Ballmer it’s over. And a quick look around will inform anyone that right now the platforms to be on are Android and iPhone. Sure Nokia might make a comeback, Palm could find traction and if hell freezes over Windows Mobile 7 could revolutionize things (ok, unlikely, but I wanted to throw it out there…), but all that remains to be seen. For now, it’s Google and Apple. Now, in the choice between developing for Apple or Google, I think there is much less shame from Microsofts POV to go with Apple. After all, they’ve made Macintosh software for years, since 1983-1984 actually, and for the Apple II before that. Granted, the quality has varied quite considerably, but when they actually try to do it well, it tends to be pretty solid. If I were MS, I’d drop the Win Mobile platform and go 100% iPhone with Live, X-box integration and Office 2010. They could own the mobile office space if they team up with Apple and do it right.

Other than that 2010 will be the year of two things. The first is eReaders. We will see plenty of new eReaders, and it will be the Wild West for a while, ’til standards start forming. It will be a very intresting development to follow, and I think the Kindle has shown the correct model, ie. built-in internet and a store, but I also think the Amazon DRM and proprietary format shows what we do not want. We tried that with the iPod and music, and it sucked! This will be where someone is still to find the right balance between protecting authors (or should that be publishers…?) and usability (what if I want a new eReader, do I need to buy all my books again?). This is where Apple could be instrumental, should they choose to put their thinking-cap on once again!

The second main thing is GPS. Now I know GPS has been around, and been touted. But I think it will go even further. Things like Gowalla and Foursquare are just the tip of the ice berg. We will see more social integration with the internet in your pocket through devices that know where it is, what you do, and where your friends are. This has risks of course, but also benefits, and I think that given time, we will work out a nice balance between privacy and public life. (Just don’t let Facebook do it…)

Those are some of my main wishes/thoughts/ideas for tech in 2010. What are your thoughts?

Tobias

Yupp, it’s an iPhone!

I’m sitting here in my room relaxing to some Internet radio. Is it playing via my MacBook? No, it’s coming via my iPhone!

There you have it, I went for the iPhone. I check-out some of the Android phones, mainly HTC, and also had a quick look at Blackberry, Nokia N9x and some Windows Mobile phones. The iPhone is, at this moment in time, the best you can get in Scandinavia. I leave room for the Pre possibly being more to my taste, since judging by the videos I’ve seen it might. However, it is not yet available up here.

So what did win me over to the iPhone in the end? It was a combo of many things, and it has to be said for full disclosure, price did play a part since I got the 3G rather than the 3GS. But after doing my research I can say this to for the iPhone. It has, by far, the most vibrant developer community today. Both in the form of web apps and actual downloadable apps. The geekerati may think Apples practices concerning approval of apps is idiotic, and mostly I agree with them, but that does not detract from the fact that they have more, often better, and cheeper apps than all the other platforms. (An app for S60 can easily be something like €5 …) In short, the iPhone is much more mature than any other platform. Which ironically includes platforms much older than iPhone OS, such as Windows Mobile and S60.

That the iPhone is a better looking device than most of the others help a lot too…

Another area where Apple is way ahead, and I don’t see anyone else, again with the possible exception of Palm, catching up, is hardware add-ons. These are expensive to make and therefor works best in a highly standardized environment. The iPhone has a standard UI, a standard iPod connecter and Apple certifies the stuff! Android is touted as the main threat to the iPhone, BUT all Android phones have variations when it comes to UI. All Android phones have different hardware with different connectors and so on. It’s a mess, and I don’t think Google will even think to standardize this.

So, as a brief summary: right now, there is little doubt that the best smartphone on the market from a usability POV is the iPhone. Yes other phones have better cameras, better screens, better what ever. But the iPhone is one of very few phones, possibly the only phone, that is more than the sum of it’s parts. For me, it’s well worth 299 SEK a month for two years. After that? Who knows.

Tobias

Smarter phones and the need for convergence

So, once again I’m coming up on buying a new gadget and I turn to you, the fantastic blogosphere. My thinking is getting a new phone, a smartphone.

Newton and Pilot

Now, let me first give you some background. I am an old Newton fan, Palm user and I’ve been sporting mobile phones since somewhere around 1997. I’ve tested several systems over the years, and currently use an iPod touch as my game device and PDA.

So, let’s first take a quick look at what I will not get: An S60 phone, or (gods forbid), a Windows Mobile phone. Sorry Nokia, I’ve used S60 and quite frankly I feel it would have been fantastic five years ago… I have a friend who just got a Nokia 5800, an I was not as impressed as I had hoped I would be. Windows Mobile? I just can’t stand it.

Blackberry was a contender ’til I had the displeasure to try one. I just can’t get my head around it, and the apps seems wicked expensive. So no, thank you.

What does that leave? Well, iPhone, Android and webOS. And here the questions starts to pop-up.

I have a relatively good grip on the iPhone, being a heavy iPod touch user. I like the OS, I like the apps, I’m drinking the Apple kool-aid and like it. But, I still want some apps to multi-task. Like web-radio, chat etc. I want to consolidate my messaging, mail, sms etc. I want it to integrate better with Facebook, Twitter etc. Though the Facebook app for iPhone is very nice. This leads me to consider other alternatives.

Android

Let’s start with Google Android. I am drinking tons of Google juice already. I love Gmail, Google Calendar, GTalk, Google Reader, Google Notes etc. I love Google and the kind of University type fun the often prove to have in droves.

The downside is Google is a very engineer-driven company. That makes it very cutting edge, but design is lagging in many ways. I mean, come on, very few Google services would win any beauty contest. Clean and simple, yes. Beautiful? Not really…

Android has suffered a little from this too. Enter HTC Sense. HTC seems to have made a great job with beautifying Android. However, this probably means you get a less consistent OS? It is, according to test on Engadget and Gizmodo also slowing things down. BUT, it is open, always connected and looks more fun. It is also much more customizable and I don’t care what Steve says (I know, the gods might smite me…) but some things on a phone SHOULD multi-task!

webOS

Palm is an old love affair with me. I’ve always loved their stuff, bar their Windows Mobile phones. webOS seems to be an awesome platform. Sort of mating Android with the iPhone and getting only the good genes! However, I’m still to test this in reality. They are not sold in Sweden yet, and it seems the Swedish operators have a very stand-offish position to Palm. It seems I could probably buy one from the UK, but still. It kind’a sucks.

Another thing with the Palm, is that both the Pre and the Pixi are using hardware keyboards. As a resident of a country with umlaut characters in the local alphabet, I’ve hated hardware keyboards for a long time. Software keyboards are a little tricky sometime, but at least I don’t need to press anything extra to get åäö!

Downsides?

The downside to both these platforms is I like using iTunes and only the iPhone syncs. Does this matter? Well, no. It seems Songbird has actually reached a level of maturity where I could live with it as my main jukebox. Calendar? Syncing via CalDAV and Google Calendar would solve that. Thank’s to open source and the cloud it would seem I could live with either.

But there is still the undeniable fact that the iPhone is very much more mature than the other two.

What is it I do not like about the iPhone. People go on and on about it not being open, in my opinion that is a non-issue in the long run. Phones and Apple have mostly been rather closed, and both are doing well. No, my gripes are of a different flavor. I am a self-confessed web 2.0 aficionado, and as such I am naturally a joiner…  This is where the iPhone lucks-out big time. It does not support convergence in any way. Ah, but it does, you might say. It supports MobileMe Sync and Microsoft Exchange. Ehh, yeah. One is something like $100 per annum and the other is distinctly corporate news. No, I mean I want on place to handle chat, sms, mms, email. Where I can see all my contacts no matter if they are on Facebook, Gmail, AIM etc., in one place. Palm understands this, and HTC seems to also be aware of this. Apple? As much as it saddens me, no. They don’t even include a flippin’ chat client! Also, more and more I am dependent on Google Calendar, and have to sync that with iCal for it to get on my iPod touch. Not convenient.

What to do?

The iPhone is a fantastic product, don’t misunderstand me. But I feel Apple is a little bit in their own world, and unlike when it concerns computers, their vision is not quite the same as mine. I guess I may be a fringe case, and I am painfully aware of the greatness of the iTunes App Store. But I do still have a very nice iPod touch. Arguably I could go with an HTC or Palm device and still have the best of both worlds?

What do you think? Where would you go, especially with these factors in mind:

  • The Android phones available in Sweden are priced the same as an iPhone 3G, and frankly I want the 3GS.
  • I have a very nice 8GB iPod touch.
  • Increasingly, I live in the cloud, not on my laptop.

Thobias Vemmenby

A museum should be fun!

A museum should be fun. A place you want to go. A place where you learne about history, human thought and nature in a creative environment. Very few museums seems to realise this. However, all is not lost. Randers Kulturhistoriske Museum have put up a new rune display that seems to be fantastic. In a sparkling combo of modern technology and history, they’ve created an interactive experience around the Mejlby rune stone.

 

 

This is a perfect example of why, and how, the humanities should embrace tech and geekery. To make the experience enjoyable for “the straights”, ie. the public. They are used to HDTV, Wii games and the relative interactivity of the Internet. Why should they think you as a museum employee should get paid to do some dusting of old and to them boring artifacts? Please don’t get me wrong, I do think all these things have a tremendous worth in and of themselves, but we who are working within the humanities, whatever that may entail, must take as our responsibility to help people want to learn, and want to see, and even though few of us want to think about money, pay to have the privilege. I am not advocating that ie. all  museums should have an entrance fee, but rather that we in the business also remember that tax money is paid by someone…

 

Most convicted felons are just people who were not taken to museums or Broadway musicals as children.
Libby Gelman-Waxner quotes ~

 

Thobias

Knowledge Navigator

Once upon a time Apple was ruled by a man called John Sculley. This was a man of vision. His main vision was the ‘Knowledge Navigator‘, which in many ways was sort of a merge of Macintosh, HyperCard, the coming Newton and some magic… However, to this day we have not seen a product of this kind.

But, think about it. The combo of an iPhone and a Macintosh equipped with MacSpeech Dictate, Spark, Automater and a few other bit and bobs such as Skype, Go to meeting etc., and in a roundabout way you are nearly there. Think about it for a while. The ultimate sci-fi fantasy (reality based at least) is sort of a reality today. Now imagin what we fantasise about in this manner today, and look twenty years ahead. Who knows what will come, but I think it will be pretty cool!

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

~ Arthur C. Clarke ~

Thobias

Mapple & Steve Mobs…

Brilliant!Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Mapple & Steve Mobs…“, posted with vodpod

Thobias

via Macenstein