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Monthly Archives: July 2008

Costco turkey roll, the next victim of grocery shrink ray

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I remembered that they used to be much bigger, close to filling up the tray. Well, it’s still the same tray, but the rolls obviously got smaller. Sign of a recession?

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2008 in costco, grocery, recession, shrink ray

 

Cute Mouse

Got a new mouse that was on sale recently, Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000. It’s so cute and tiny!
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It’s a wireless bluetooth mouse. Unlike most BT mouse, this one doesn’t come with the annoying BT dongle, thus it only works with computers that already have BT built-in, like most Macs. 🙂 Connecting it to my iMac is pretty straight forward, although I had to use a wired mouse first to setup the bluetooth configuration. It uses 2 AAA batteries.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a way to configure the buttons on my Mac. So the back button doesn’t work, despite being advertised as such. For some reason, it activated the Dashboard. Oh well, so much for that. The back button is 1 big thing I missed on the Mac. Wheel is rough, and only does vertical scrolling. I prefer the 4-way ball on Apple’s mighty mouse. Still, the size of this MS mouse is very compact, good for travel. It even comes with a bag!

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2008 in 5000, bluetooth, Microsoft, mouse

 

Unlocked iPhone 3G

According to Apple, there are 2 countries that officially sell the iPhone 3G unlocked. Italy and Hong Kong. The question is of course, how to obtain them. Some online cellphone import resellers are selling the iPhone 3G for $1500. Yup, $1500 for the 8GB version. Isn’t that insane? Apple really have to think about this. Does Apple really want some independent reseller profiting thousands of dollars selling the iPhone 3G? Apple was not happy with the unlocking of the first iPhone, yet still sell the iPhone 3G locked in most countries. At least if you have a friend in Hong Kong, you can be rich.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2008 in 3g, hong kong, iPhone, italy, unlocked

 

MobileMe push with iPod Touch

The idea of push technology is to have almost instant sync. For example, if you add a contact in your address book on a portable device, with push technology, the information is automatically pushed so the address book in your computer is automatically updated. This idea makes sense on the iPhone, where there is a constant data access via the cellular wireless. However, how about the iPod Touch? The iPod Touch only have wifi for internet connection. Well, MobileMe push works, with caveats. Basically if you do any changes on the calendar/address book on the Touch WHILE it’s connected to the internet, push works. I tried it, and it worked just fine with my iMac. However, stuff that you do when the Touch is NOT connected to the internet will NOT be pushed until the next successful push (when you do something WHILE connected to the internet). The contents that you changed while the Touch is offline don’t seem to be pushed EVEN when you’re connected to the internet later on, IF you don’t change anything else. So, you can change a lot of things on the Touch offline, and not having the contents being pushed at all. Bummer!

 
 

iMovie08 youtube uploading issue (workaround)

For the past couple days, I’ve been baffled with iMovie08. Every time I wanted to upload my video to youtube, it spit out an error message “YouTube reported an unknown error.” Yeah, not really helpful there. After combing Apple’s discussion forum, apparently iMove08 choked on non-standard character passwords. I remembered that I just changed my Google password into some random gibberish for security reason. I changed my Google password to contain only letters and numbers, and voila, iMovie08 youtube uploading works again. That’s just lame. I mean what is the problem of submitting a bunch of standard keyboard characters? So much for trying to be more secure. Apple, fix this!

 
 

Sony NWZ-S616F pink

Guess what I bought.
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My sister wants larger capacity DAP than the 2GB nano I gave her, and something with FM radio. The Sony player is perfect, especially with its super easy drag-n-drop file transfer. I guess transferring music to the nano is not “easy” enough for her. :p Plus she doesn’t need gapless playback.

The NWZ-S616F comes with minimal accessories. A stock bud (looks like the crappy E808), USB to WM-port cable, and a dock adapter. The body is plastic, but build quality seems okay. The buttons (especially the volume and hold switch) feel really cheap though. The FCC label looks like a cheapo sticker. Unit is Made in Malaysia. Obviously thicker vs the 2G nano (pictured above).

Drag-n-drop from my iMac is straight forward. The Sony is recognized as a UMS device. Drag-n-drop files using Finder is super easy. The only weird issue is that I cannot seem to eject the device. Every time I eject it, it will reconnect almost right away. Unplugging the USB cable when it’s not writing doesn’t hurt the content, but Finder yelled at me. I connected it to my WinXP machine, and it’s recognized as UMS device just fine. The fact that a Sony audio device can be as easy as this is mind boggling. 😀

Oh, gapless? Since I don’t see anybody doing it, I conducted a test myself. Here’s the video:

In short, gapless only on WAV files. Even at 4GB, using WAV files is not practical, unless you only listen to very few albums.

 

iPod Touch 2.0 firmware

As most people know, iPhone 3G goes on sale today. At the same time, 2.0 firmware is released for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I’ve been refreshing my iTunes in the morning, but it’s not until about 9-10pm at night that the firmware is finally available for purchase. Yup, it’s another $10 for yet another firmware update. But the ability to install the apps makes the $10 worth it IMO, although free would’ve been preferable.

Updating my Touch took quite sometime, mainly because iTunes had to wipe my Touch clean, and reload the content after updating the firmware. The flash memory on the Touch has pretty slow write speed. After updating, preferences, all icons arrangement and screens are put back to default.

Most noticeable addition is the App store icon. This will allow you to download/apps directly form the Touch. In iTunes, there is an option to setup mobileMe, although it only directs you the Apple’s website, showing you simply to sync mobileMe/.Mac in system preferences. There are some minor cosmetic updates on the maps app. In preferences, there’s an option to schedule the email push/fetch.

First app I downloaded is epocrates. Finally! As I mentioned in the past, I’ve been using my beat up Palm Tungsten E for epocrates. The app seems to download pretty quick in iTunes. After transferring it to my Touch, I put in my log-in, and the app continues the installation by downloading (presumably) all the updated database over-the-air. My Palm Tungsten E doesn’t have bluetooth nor wifi, so updating epocrates requires me to sync it with my desktop. It’s a nice upgrade that now I can just update my epocrates directly from my Touch without having to sync back to my desktop all the time. The UI is just like any other app. I just have to get used to the touch keyboard, having used to my Palm’s stylus. Another great feature is pill ID, with pictures. This is not available on my Palm before.

Next app is iTunes remote. This allow your iPhone/iPod Touch to control your iTunes via wifi. Obviously you have to have a wifi access point, since that is the only way the Touch can be connected to the network. The computer itself doesn’t have to be connected to wifi. My iMac is connected to the network via ethernet. In iTunes 7.7, there is a new option for iTunes to find iPhone/Touch remotes. When I tap on Add library on the remote app, iTunes shows my Touch on the sidebar. On the Touch, it shows a 4 digit code that I have to enter into iTunes, just like bluetooth pairing. After that, I can control most aspect of iTunes from my Touch. Even better, I can control my Airtunes output from my Touch! Control response is surprisingly responsive! UI is pretty much like the Music app. There are a couple of gotchas though.
1. You don’t get the output on the Touch, meaning audio and video are not streamed to the Touch. The Touch will simply act as a remote control only.
2. Cover flow doesn’t work. Although the album list of your library will look very similar as the music on the Touch, tilting the screen won’t give you cover flow.
3. All playlist are listed, except Party Shuffle. Don’t know why. 😦
4. The remote is only for iTunes, not Frontrow. It would’ve been much more awesome if Apple made this into a more capable Frontrow remote, vs the basic Apple remote.
5. The starting volume control on the remote app is set to max. This volume is independent from the actual volume control in iTunes/MacOS. So make sure you set the max volume you desired in iTunes/MacOS.

Despite all of the advance things the Touch can do now, still no shuffle by album feature, something that the traditional iPods can do. Booo!

This is definitely an exciting platform for developers and Apple. I can see Apple phasing out the traditional iPods for this platform. Of course, the idea of having to pay Apple for every firmware update is highly annoying.

Addendum: epocrates’ pill pictures are only loaded when my Touch is online (via wifi). If not, it only shows a question mark, although the pill ID still identify the pill correctly, albeit without pictures. Grrr! I assume it would require quite a lot of storage space to store the variety of pill pictures locally. Still, the app doesn’t even cache the pics I already viewed. I’m kinda disappointed, especially that I don’t have wifi access at my work place. 😦

2nd addendum: Screen capture capability! On any screen, press & hold the home button, then press the on/off button. A white flash will pop up, and there will be a new folder in the photos app called Saved Photos holding the captured picture. You can also save pictures from Safari by pressing on the picture for a couple seconds, then an option will pop up to save/email the picture. Saving the picture will put it into the Saved Photos folder.