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New iTunes Phone! SLVR L7

The rumors of Apple and Motorola parting ways on the iTunes phone concept were premature. Despite Motorola's own over-the-air music service being announced, today a new iTunes Phone was released.  Cingular Wireless, the carrier that supports the phone, has its page here.

The SLVR L7 still has the 100-song limit and VGA resolution camera, but it's quite different from the ROKR E1 in many respects.  First, the aesthetics. While it retains the brick form factor rather than switching to a clamshell design, the look is much, much sleeker. A nice TFT display with 262k colors and a very thin phone make for an attractive handset.

Quad band GSM allows for international roaming with the SLVR L7, and the Bluetooth capability presumably gives the ability to use stereo bluetooth headsets.

Cingular is currently offering the SLVR L7 phone for $200 with a 2-year agreement.

Posted on January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chinese Library Implements RFID

InformationWeek reports on a Chinese library implementing RFID
technology to reduce theft and speed up the shelving proces, concepts
which I mused on in the past. They don't appear to be going the extra
step and implementing warehouse management-style optimizations to the
layout of the library as I advocated in my previous article.

Check out the full article about Jimei University Library's project with
Shanghai RFID System Technology Co. Ltd. and UPM Raflatac here:

Posted on January 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Features for Ning

Ning.com is apparently now out of beta. Intended as a kind of incubator
for new social apps with minimal coding required, Ning is unique in that
it has a suite of template apps from which your app can inherit
characteristics and improve upon.

According to the Ning blog (blog.ning.com) they are expecting support
for multiple languages soon, including Ruby.

Ning's latest features, which I believe are critical for the success of
the platform, include backup/restore with 30-minute autosave, Google
Adsense and YPM support, and domain mapping. When Ning was initially
launched, I took notice of the lack of domain mapping and ad support in
particular, wondering about how the effort would fare without these

Now I see that Ning is really driven by the playground concept- the ease
of creating, modifying, even combining ideas. The users are likely
motivated out of curiosity, playfulness, and creativity, providing a
fertile ground for innovating social apps.

Ning is even working on developing a way to develop new apps from
scratch "without any coding" which they admit sounds impossible but is
one of their "primary misions this year." I look forward to seeing that
feature in action.

Posted on January 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

iWeb Reviewer Uses iWeb to Publish Lackluster Review

By way of MacSlash, I found this review of iWeb 1.0.  It looks like my enthusiasm was premature to say the least, although I stand by my statements regarding the web integration of all of the other iLife 2006 tools - they are exciting to put it mildly.

On the other hand, I have not yet tried it myself to it's equally premature for me to say anything in the negative. My local CompUSA does not have the new software on the shelves yet so it may be some time before I get a chance to try it out and give it a thorough test drive. The SteveNote made it look pretty good - centered around the concept explained in his easy/hard/ugly/beautiful matrix.

The cool factor here, despite the insanely huge URLs this thing generates, it visible without a personal test drive: iWeb is almost like the iSync of all your iLife content, publishing your photos, movies, and GarageBand recordings to the world.

The review page has a large amount of traffic according to its site counter. Maybe the author should think about monetizing :-)

But for now, I think I'll stick with Typepad, Wordpress, and my own custom coded solutions.

Posted on January 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Elgato Releases EyeTV 2.0

Elgato has released version 2.0 of its EyeTV software, which provides PVR functionality to Macintosh computers using compatible USB or Firewire peripheral video tuner devices.

New Features
For a complete feature list, visit their web page. Most compelling among these features are:

  • Integrated backup using Toast 7
  • One-click iPod video export
  • Integrated electronic program guide (no more need to open a web browser... and a worthy replacement for the discontinued Watson sofware which allowd EyeTV scheduling)
  • The EPG stores a week of listings offline for whenever you lose network connectivity
  • Batch export
  • Scheduled iPod sync (extremely cool - launches iTunes and allows iPod sync without user intervention!)
  • New interface using playlists matches iPhoto and iTunes

*Speculation* The tight match between the new EyeTV interface and iLife apps almost makes it seem like the fabled Apple Mac Mini PVR could one day come about by Apple purchasing EyeTV from Elgato, much like they did with iTunes. However, Apple is probably busy negotiating content partnerships for the iTunes video store, which gets them more downloads and more iPod sales. Elgato will no doubt remain independent for a long time if not forever... and with their products leading the pack in the Mac PVR world they are probably quite comfortable doing so.

Besides, the Mac Mini is pretty tightly packed into that case. Having an integrated DVR would necessitate changing the form factor. The iMac, now resembling a TV in its form factor, would be a good candidate for built-in DVR even though its also tight inside. Even so, the EyeTV boxes are attractively designed and are powered from the Firewire or USB cable, keeping clutter down and saving space on your power strip (the third party devices mostly seem to use AC adaptors).

Posted on January 12, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MacWorld Keynote: iPod Radio, MacBook Pro, iLife 2006, Intel Core Duo chips

This year's MacWorld was the subject of intense speculation and rumor mongering, including the rumor of a large plasma display running OSX, a Mac Mini PVR (which would have been nice), even the perennial favorite, iPhone. What actually happened this year?

Intel Macs Released Ahead-of-Schedule
Making its debut at MacWorld 2006 was the MacBook Pro. This new laptop sports an Intel Core Duo processor, quadrupling the speed of the 15-inch PowerBook G4. An Updated graphics chipset, integrated iSight camera (like the iMac G5) and FrontRow software are all included.

The MacBook Pro also debuts a new power cord connector. This connector is held in place magnetically, not by friction, meaning that when your pets, children, or coworkers trip on the cord, the cord will simply disconnect without causing your laptop to fall or damaging the connector itself. This point of vulnerability has been one of the most annoying things about laptops, especially since WiFi came along with its promise of wireless computing.

The iMac G5 design has been updated with Intel Core Duo processors as well, doubling the performance. Along with the MacBook Pro, the iMac ships with fully native for Intel iLife 2006, Pages 2, and Keynote 3.

iLife 2006
The entire suite has been updated to run as a Universal Binary, allowing it to run natively on the Intel Core Duo platform that Apple is rolling out. Each application has performance enhancements and new features are threaded throughout the suite, with most of the new functionality centering around iWeb, their new integration with .Mac services.

GarageBand now has features designed to make Podcasting - quality podcasting - extremely easy. Recording and even post production are accounted for, including noise reduction and easy uploading to .Mac.

iPhoto gets full screen editing, a very cool Calendar feature, and Photocasting - Podcasting for Photos - automatically synced through .Mac and polled by your subscribers' own iPhoto clients or any RSS reader.

iWeb makes it all happen- blogging is supported, of course, as well as any other kind of web layout. Apple supplies some nice templates, and adding content is all drag-and-drop.

iMovie HD is upgraded with templating features and  Video Podcast support through iWeb.

The Vision
I have to try this out before I can comment on it, but the demo of iWeb and the other new  features threaded throughout iLife 2006 have me excited. The iLife suite has thus far been a set of useful, simple yet powerful tools for me, but these new integrated features reflect the kind of vision that I alwyas talk about. Apple seems to get the idea that web services are so much more than mashup site enablers. Really, web services and RSS can be applied behind the scenes to make slick consumer apps talk to each other in startling ways. Like Jobs says, ignore the machinery and it's like magic. I wonder if FrontRow can automagically display photo albums you've subscribed to. I also imagine that it's technically possible to publish iWeb content to other WebDav servers.... something surely worth taking a crack at for those who run their own servers rather than .Mac.

Last quarter, Apple sold 14 Million iPods, with a total of 32 million in 2005. With the iTunes store selling 3 million songs a day, they are on target to reach 1 billion songs sold over the iTunes music store so far. New this MacWorld to the iPod is the FM remote, which brings FM radio capability to the iPod, a feature that has been in demand for some time. Jobs also announced Chrysler's offering of iPod integration in their automotive lines.

For details and demos, watch the SteveNote here:

Posted on January 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Developments from Motorola

Motorola's announcement of the ROKR E2, which will apparently not include Apple's iTunes Mobile version, has been bounces around the blogosphere as an unfortunate, but inevitable outcome of the poor design limitations of the ROKR E1. The 100 song limit and brick form factor put many off the ROKR E1, even though the iTunes mobile app was expected to be killer.

The ROKR E2 is to include Motorola's own iRadio functionality. iRadio looks promising as a competitor to XM and Sirius satellite radio services- digital radio programming on the go. But what does Motorola have to contribute to the mix, and why might they be a force to be reckoned with?

iRadio Features

iRadio will have a similar programming format to Sirius and XM- digital audio channels carrying diverse content to a portable player. But a key difference is the player itself. iRadio will be carried on mobile phones.  This gives a device which many people already carry on their person with a receiver for terrestrial digital radio wherever their carrier's network allows. A bookmarking feature allows the user to hit a button on their phone to mark a song they hear and like, which they will be able to download through the carrier's music service of choice either over the air or on their PC when they get home.  The audio quality is said to be higher than satellite radio, and plays over Bluetooth stereo headsets.

iPod Still in the Picture

Something else Motorola announced that everyone seems to have ignored is the Media Duo. This is a bundled Bluetooth adaptor for current-gen iPods with a Motorola stereo headset. The bundle allows wireless iPodding, and when the user's Bluetooth-compatible phone gets a call, they can easily pause the music and answer the call.  A nice feature of the ROKR E1, the pause capability will be a welcome addition to regular iPod use.

Motorola in the Home

Mototola has also announced a push in the direction of home media networking. They plan to release set-top boxes that are capable of using the internal coaxial wiring of many homes (wired for cable TV) as a network for shuttling content between different devices in different rooms. The overall theme of CES this year appears to be online video, with many vendors announcing Media Center PC ventures, especially those embracing Intel's new Viiv marketing initiative. Many other announcements involved HD-DVD, and even holographic storage. Motorola is certainly not behind the trends in this case, having a set of strong offerings that should compete well in the marketplace if positioned correctly.

Below is an extended quote from the Motorola press release for more detail:

...the Motorola ROKR E2 delivers an optimized multimedia experience. With up to 2GB of removable SD™ mass memory*, ROKR E2 lets you store as many as 500 of your favorite tunes, and wirelessly stream music from your handset to compatible Bluetooth®-stereo-enabled devices. And, oh yes, you also can make and receive phone calls, take pictures, send text messages and much more. All with one Motorola mobile handset – “the device formerly known as the cell phone.”

iRadio™ Digital Music Service. The award-winning Motorola iRadio debuts its subscription service with 435 commercial-free channels and a listening experience that seamlessly follows you from home to car to headphones. It’s a complete audio experience enabled by the one device you’re never without – your mobile handset.

O ROKR Sunglasses. Building on the excitement around the innovative RAZRWIRE™ Bluetooth enabled eyewear, Motorola and Oakley do it again with O ROKR™, the world’s first sunglasses featuring integrated, Bluetooth stereo technology for wireless communications and wire-free music enjoyment. Go wirelessly incognito as you stream music from your compatible mobile handset or portable music player equipped with a separately available add-on Bluetooth adapter.

Audex™ Burton Jacket Series. Audex Burton jackets deliver a new high for mountain- and mogul-loving audiophiles! Combining Burton’s active sportswear for snowboarding, Motorola mobile communications and Bluetooth wireless technology, Audex Burton jackets enable hands-free fun and mobility – again, taking wearable communication to new heights of fun and functionality.

Motorola Music Duo. At last, iPod™ can deliver the music without the wires! Music Duo – a combination of the TEN Technology naviPlay™ Bluetooth® Adapter for iPod™ and the Motorola HT820 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones – lets you stream music from your iPod** to your Motorola Bluetooth Stereo headphones. Now you don’t have to miss a beat – or a call! With the Music Duo, you’re in control – and in charge. Listen to your music, pause to take your calls, and resume playing music when you’re done.

JBL On Tour™ Mobile. Optimized to work with your favorite Motorola music-enabled phones, JBL on Tour Mobile portable music box and speakerphone connects with your mobile phone and fills your room with music while you stay connected to your calls.


Mobile TV Solutions. On-demand entertainment meets your wireless lifestyle! See how Motorola is combining leadership in mobile devices, wireless and broadband networks and digital video encoding to drive broadcast-mobile convergence. This must-see experience will demonstrate live television streaming to an automobile headrest and to your mobile device.

Whole-Home Media Software. Seamlessly access stored digital entertainment – whether high-definition video on a DVR, music on a laptop or pictures on a digital camera – from any connected device in your home. Or, if you’re out and about, view recordings synched from your Motorola DVR to a mobile device.

Digital Set-Tops with Integrated Home Media Networking. Create a connected home network to access and share high-definition content through the existing coaxial cable in the walls of your home. These new set-tops also support high-definition digital video recording, video-on-demand, an interactive program guide and other technologies. Verizon Communications is deploying this product as part of the Verizon FiOS™ TV service now available in parts of Texas, Virginia and Florida.

Posted on January 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack