In case you were living under a rock today, Apple announced the third generation iPad today, featuring HD video playback, better this and all of that. So, for you early adopters who are dying to upgrade from what you’re currently using, eBay is offering really amazing prices via their Instant Sale option where they will buy your product outright from you. eBay buys a plethora of products but have setup this nice landing page showing prices for the most common tablets and similar tech products like phones and e-readers. Continue reading »
I’ve been a happy iPhone user since picking mine up on launch day last summer for the iPhone4.Â With the announcement of the much anticipated and then slightly disappointing 4s I’ve chosen to not upgrade, there’s not enough bang for the buck and I’m still tied to my current contract for another 8ish months.Â What I did do was upgrade to iOS5 though, curious to get some of the new features and functions; one of which is iMessage.
When it comes to iPhone 3G Apps, you can never quite have enough, right? Although I beg to differ, as I decided to join the masses, one thing I told myself after I purchased my iPhone was that I certainly would not download useless Apps that contained no apparent reason or use for it.
Well, I openly admit I havenâ€™t quite adhered to Rule No. 1 of Janaâ€™s iPhone Donâ€™tsâ€“Iâ€™d say Fluid and Heat Pad are rather unnecessary. However, out of the thousands of pointless Apps that only have some form of reasonable functionality or entertainment like while riding a bus or flying, youâ€™ll clearly come across many that are actually useful, helpful and handy when you need something in a pinch.
Out of the 20 Apps (yes, I counted) that Iâ€™ve downloadedâ€“mostly for freeâ€“can I just say that Remote ranks up at the top as one of my most favorites? Closely behind, The Weather Channel sits right up there beside it since the default Weather App just wasnâ€™t meeting my forecasting expectations.
Why, out of every App that I could possibly ever imagine having, is Remote my favorite? Normally I set my iTunes to shuffle just about any time Iâ€™m listening to music. Perhaps this is the laziness in me, but if someone else is using my MacBook while Iâ€™m in the same room (and this happens more often than Iâ€™d like it), I can instantly change songs without having to reach over or walk to my computer.
This works in between rooms, too. One morning as I was getting ready for work, my Mac was sitting on the dining room table as I stood in the bathroom. I didnâ€™t like the song, and with the light tap of a finger I chose a more preferable tune. So easy!
Iâ€™m not the gaming-kind-of-gal so, honestly, those Apps just arenâ€™t the slightest bit appealing. I did, however, purchaseâ€“at the sale price of $1.99â€“Wolfenstein Classic 3D because growing up I would watch my dad play it on our MS-DOS system. I took a liking to it then tried my luck and beat the game. I havenâ€™t yet mastered the iPhone version. In fact, Iâ€™ve only played it once and that lasted a mere 10 minutes before I became frustrated. I just donâ€™t have the time and patience to learn!
While I know preferences and tastes differ, I would recommend Remote to any iPhone and iTunes user. The convenience factor alone makes it pretty awesome. I should mention, though, that Remote connects to your iTunes through a wireless signal, so this minor (and I use that term lightly) detail is pretty pertinent to its functioning.
There’s thousands of applications for iPhones that for the most part I think are useless and a waste of time. With the exception of me checking my Facebook and Myspace, of course.
However, I did discover a great puzzle game, hExistentalism, for the price of $2.99. It’s certainly more complex than Bejeweled orÂ Mahjong. In fact, it’s quite addicting. I’m a huge fan of logic and this is perfect. Although the graphic may not be up to Halo 3 standards it doesn’t take away from the game itself.
It’s been a long time since we’ve run a contest here at Randomn3ss, this one not only has a unique prize for all you iPhone owners out there, the cause and benefit is far greater.Â This contest will also be run in a slightly different fashion, hopefully easier to enter for everyone.
Not only is the Elan Form one of the most attractive cases, it’s one of the most functional.Â Griffin, a company that constantly puts out products that impress, included the EasyDock function into the case.Â The lower 1/3rd of the case slides off allowing you to properly dock your 3G iPhone into nearly any device without an adapter.Â Â A shatter-proof polycarbonate inner shell protects your beloved iPhone while a static peel screen guards the touch-screen.Â They even include a cleaning cloth!Â At $35 retail, this is worth every cent to protect the spendy investment of an iPhone.
Starting right now, the contest is open to anyone in the USA (sorry everyone else, shipping / customs becomes a pain) and will run through midnight EST on May 31st, 2009.Â To enter the contest, make a donation on my behalf to the Livestrong Challenge I’m riding my bike in this August, read why I’m doing it and click the link to donate here.Â You will receive one entry into the contest for every $5 you donate, no limit.Â For example, if you donate $25 you will receive five entries.Â On June 1st I will tally up all the entries and draw one at random, please make sure you use a valid email when you donate, as that is how I will contact you.Â All donations go directly to the Livestrong Foundation, no money will go to me and all donations are tax deductible.
The Griffin PowerDock is for charging nearly every version iPod and iPhone and claims to eliminate family wars over power cables;Â and it does just that. The PowerDock is available with two or four Apple Universal power docks; I opted for the quad model since my husband and I both have multiple i-Products and am quite pleased. Included with the base are 12 dock adapters to properly hold and support the various versions of iPods and both generations of iPhones for charging.
The option to plug in four i-Products at once has simplified and organized my life. I like clean lines in my home and try to eliminate clutter as much as possible. Being of the opinion that less is more, I am not always quick to purchase new â€˜gadgetsâ€™ but the PowerDock fits into my minimalist mentality. It eliminates the untidiness of multiple cords, plugs, and power blocks coming out of every outlet. Until now, those cords were necessary to ensure that my iPhone and iPod would be ready to go at a momentâ€™s notice.
Since the base accommodates four products at once, I am able to plug in my iPhone, my husbandâ€™s iPhone, and both of our iPods at the same time. There are no more spousal arguments over whose phone deserves to be charged more than the other. It also eliminates the internal battle of deciding which is more important to charge first, my phone (so I can receive business calls) or my iPod (so I can watch the latest episode of Dexter while I run on the treadmill). With the PowerDock those marital arguments and existential struggles are all abolished.
From an aesthetic perspective, not only does the PowerDock eliminate clutter, the brushed aluminum exterior will fit into any modern living space. The dock itself is very sturdy, with a non-slip bottom that will keep it securely on your countertop or desk. The cord is long enough to reach a hidden outlet and since there is a power block built into the base, there is no need to plug it into a surge protector which further reduces the need for extraneous wires and cords.
Another feature that struck me was the environmentally friendly packaging. The base came in a small reinforced cardboard box with the instruction manual printed on the inner lid, thus eliminating the unnecessary extra packaging and papers that normally accompany the purchase of a new electronic item. Since the packing materials consisted of just the box, it was completely recyclable.
I have only one caveat, in my older (late 1800s) home, the power drawn from four i-Products charging at once draws a lot of current from a single outlet making it difficult to run anything else from that outlet while the iPhones and iPods are charging.
I strongly recommend this product to anyone with more than one iPhone or iPod in their home.Â It reduces clutter, is visually applealing, and extremely convenient for charging multiple iPhones and iPods at the same time.
Just over a week ago I published the complete list of websites to stream full TV shows and movies from, the legal way to stream content to your computer.Â Â The problem is, I donâ€™t want to watch videos on my computer, I have a 42â€ plasma that Iâ€™d much prefer to watch TV and movies on from the comfort of my couch.Â Yesterday Twitter user @scpi shared a link to an obscure piece of software featured here on Macworld called Understudy.Â The article on Macworld is well written but simply doesnâ€™t convey how awesome Understudy really is.
In a nutshell, Understudy is a small plugin that works in conjunction with the Front Row application on Macs (must run Leopard) to gain access to both your existing Netflix account and Hulu by default, other streams can be added in by the end user.Â So why on earth am I so stoked for this?Â Simple, I can now use the Apple Remote Control to navigate Front Row after connecting my Macbook to my plasma from my couch!Â Itâ€™s easier than it sounds.
Hereâ€™s what I used to make this work:
- Macbook (or any Mac that can be placed within a few feet of your TV and a power plug, Mac Miniâ€™s work awesome for this) running Leopard.
- The Understudy plugin
- Apple Remote Control
- Internet connection
- TV that takes HDMI input
- Mini DV to HDMI adapter (if you use a Mac Mini you will need a DVI to HDMI cable and can skip the HDMI cable listed below)
- 6â€™ HDMI cable (longer if you need, not needed if you use a Mini)
- Mini audio to RCA cabl
My Macbook came with the remote, so my total investment was less than $25, depending on the total length of cables you need your out of pocket expenses could vary.Â My plasma has HDMI inputs; make sure yours does before starting.
Install Understudy by downloading the package file and double clicking it.Â Since the manual for their software is pretty much just the source code for other coders to look at, you should know thatâ€™s all you need to do, it doesn’t say that anywhere on their site though.Â Understudy is not a stand alone application, so you won’t need to launch it by itself.Â Â Launch your web browser and make sure you are logged into Hulu (free to create an account) and if you use it, Netflix.Â In Netflix, add some movies or TV shows to your Watch Instantly queue.Â Start up Front Row either from the Applications folder or by pressing the Menu button on the Apple Remote.Â Youâ€™ll now see the Understudy icon show up in the list of options.Â Navigate through the menu to add Netflix movies and Hulu streams, this can all be done by the remote control.Â The only thing that still isnâ€™t perfect is finding shows on Hulu from Front Row, as you have to add streams such as Popular Today or Newly Added Movies, so it might take a few minutes to find the exact show you are looking for.Â Understanding that Understudy was meant to work with the Apple remote, I can only imagine that no search box will be added, but perhaps as the plugin becomes more developed they ability to add streams by network can added.
To connect my Macbook to my TV was pretty straightforward.Â I used the Mini DV to HDMI adapter on the side of the Macbook, then connected the HDMI cable to it and the other end to the TV, this transfers the video content.Â Connect the Mini audio cable to the headphone jack of the Macbook and, in my case, I plugged the white and red RCA jacks into the back of my stereo receiver, but could have easily plugged them right into my TVâ€™s audio inputs as well.Â That takes care of sound.Â Lastly, make sure to have power to your laptop, donâ€™t want the battery to die in the middle of a movie; again if you are using a Mini, you need power to work.
Getting the video to display on the plasma is takne care of, doing it so the laptop screen goes to sleep took a bit of experimenting to get working properly on my Macbook (not Pro, not applicable to a Mini).Â In the preferences pane, set the display to Mirror with a second monitor attached, not Span.Â On the TV, change the input to the HDMI (this is usually done with your TV remote control and choosing the source option, much in the same way you’d select a DVD player) and you should see the same on the laptop screen as the TV.Â It was annoying to watch a movie with my Macbook on the stand below my plasma showing the same thing, but there is no easy way to sleep the Macbookâ€™s display and keep the stream on the TV, but there is a trick!
Close the lid to the Macbook, wait for it to go to sleep, the hard drive will stop spinning and the light on the front will start to pulse slowly.Â Plug a USB drive into the Macbook, this will wake the computer up and start the hard drive to spin, wait about 15-20 seconds and open the lid to the Macbook.Â The display on the Macbook is now in sleep mode and enables the video to continue to work on the Plasma.
Edit: Randomn3ss commenter joelco pointed out that simply lowering the LCD brightness on my Macbook would turn it totally black, skip everything in the top 2 paragraphs, that’s much wasier!
Get comfortable on your couch, use the Apple remote to start Front Room and enjoy watching Hulu and Netflix on your television.Â I will be experimenting with adding other feeds into Understudy from the laundry list I now have and will be looking at purchasing a Mac Mini sometime in the soon future to use full time as a media center so my Macbook can remain my working computer.
For the better part of this year I’ve been subscribing to and generally enjoying Netflix, but one feature I could never take full advantage of was the streaming on demand content.Â That all changed today when I finally got the email from Netflix letting me know that I could now enjoy streaming on-demand video content from them using either Safari, or my preferred browser, Firefox.
For clarification purposes, I have successfully streamed video on my Macbook while running a copy of Windows XP installed via VMware Fusion, awesome software by the way.Â While it does work, it requires Internet Explorer 7 along with just about every security install for it right form the Micro$oft website and is a bit of a hassle to do.Â XP does run fast my my Macbook (Core2 Duo 2.16 with 2GB Ram), but it also caused the not-so-quiet fans to kick on, the ones that blow air up through the keyboard.Â Because of this I never really went out of my way to watch any streaming content.Â I also sold my Windows desktop computer this summer, leaving me only with a gutted Ubuntu box and my Macbook, which is fine by me.
Tonight I logged into my Netflix account in Firefox 2 (still haven’t upgraded to 3 yet) and went to the Watch Instantly tab where I was prompted to install Microsoft’s Silverlight technology.Â The download and install was painless and quick, after that, movies automatically started to work.Â I recall a very long delay between the time I would hit Play in Netflix and the time it would start in XP, so I did a little screen capture video.Â This was taken on my Macbook, on the Wi-Fi network in my house connected to my Verizon FiOS internet connection which has been giving me a steady 10Mbps downstream since I had it installed.Â I didn’t do a full screen grab or include sound because I wanted the video to load as fast as possible, plus in my opinion it wasn’t needed.
No editing was done to this, so you can see truly how fast the Netflix Watch Instantly movies load, play, skip to scenes and then go back to browsing.
I’m very impressed.Â After the holiday’s I plan on looking around for a used Mac Mini to hook up to my Plasma and stream Netflix, Hulu and run bittorrent off of, as a PVR in a sense.Â Hopefully the price on the second hand market for the Core solo models drops a bit more as I’ll also need to buy a 500 or 750GB hard drive to install, but that’s another article next year sometime.
Any suggestions for movies or TV series I should add to my Instant queue?
Do yourself a favor… delve into those couch cushions (I know we’re in a recession), go through your pockets, somehow dig up $9.99 and open iTunes and download Johnny Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around (or buy from Amazon).
Or you can be a communist and steal it, but we all know that God hates communists.Â You don’t want to be on God’s bad side, now do you?Â *removes tongue from cheek, continues post*
I was over on Mix Tape Therapy (with Ms. Mix and Bitch) reading her list of the Top 20 Covers and came upon JC’s cover of “Hurt” by NIN.Â I forgot how much I loved Cash’s version of the song and scoured my computer for it.Â I lost the MP3 when I switched to my Mac and referred to iTunes (where I, luckily, had a credit – thanks mom!).Â Cash also cover’s Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” on the same album, another cover about which I forgot, and rekindled my love for.Â Another bonus is the Sting cover, “I Hung My Head,” off Mercury Falling, one of (in my opinion) Sting’s most underrated solo albums.
Cash’s version of “Hurt” opens up a flood of memories.Â The pain in his voice resonates more viscerally than Trent Reznor’s, as though we’re hearing the deathbed confession of an old man, weary of the world and the pain in it.Â Prepare yourself for some catharsis; the song just breaks my heart.Â Doesn’t help that a very significant ex introduced me to it (and, huh, funny that he lived up to the song’s lyrics), and he just emailed me for the first time in a year, so it’s fitting that this song comes back into my life.
Start with track 1, “The Man Comes Around,” and listen through to the end.Â Cash emotes raw feeling that most modern recording lacks.Â He didn’t record this for lack of money, fame, or prestige.Â He made it toward the end of his life and gave us lucky listeners one more solid recording in a legacy of legendary music.
Last year I bought my way into the cool club with a Macbook and havenâ€™t looked back.Â At the time of purchase there was a pretty hefty difference between the 120gb hard drive I got and the 160gb drive on the upgraded models, nothing else was readily available for the Macbooks and I figured the 120gb would suit me just fine.Â It more or less has, but I did gut the 250gb hard drive from Ubuntu box I built more than a year and a half ago because it was getting dusty and backed up my entire 60gb iPod and started to archive photo shoots from 2007 and the first half of 2008 to clear space on the Macbook.
For a working computer, 120gb suits me fine; I donâ€™t need 500gb or more of photo archives or movies stored locally.Â What I could use is an extra few gigs deleted out of the Mac OSX install that I never use, but how do I do this and what could be deleted?Â A few weeks ago I got my answer from an RSS feed in my reader (sadly I donâ€™t recall which blog) that would grant me my wishes of reclaiming disk space.
A very small application called Monolingual installs simply and quickly and lets you delete unused languages from your OSX install.Â Donâ€™t know about you, but I only use English, I will never have a need for Cantonese language set.Â Running the application is simply, most languages are already ticked but I went through and ticked everything except for English and Spanish (who knows, maybe I will learn Spanish one day).Â Click Remove and sit back and wait.Â In less than 5 minutes I freed up 2.4gb of space!
Officially, the software,
Additionally, should you delete the English resources your install will be FUBARâ€™d and you will start to cry.Â This should be added to one of those few things that just about everyone does when they first get a Mac or reinstall the operating system.Â Does anyone know of a similar program that will remove all the printer drivers and devices that Iâ€™ll never use?