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Showing posts from January, 2013

High Five - The 5 Worst Apple Products of All Time

There are quite a few lists of "Apple's Greatest Flops" floating around the web. This isn't EXACTLY one of those lists. Some of these products sold pretty well. One was everywhere. Instead, this list focuses on products that didn't have a purpose, that had a tragic flaw or were tragically underpowered - products for which Apple probably wishes they could have a "do-over". We aren't going to talk about the Apple Newton MessagePad on this list, because at least there was vision  involved. That product's failure was in that it arrived too soon (1993) and tried to do too much, and with too little connectivity. It was essentially a PalmPilot, with attempted handwriting recognition, 5 years too early. If you take a Newton, add a cellular radio, and allow it to exist in a world with cellular networks (like, say, 1998), or home wifi (like, say, 2002) it's a phenomenally powerful device for the nineties, right? Basically, a proto-iPhone. Let&

Siri Eyes Free will be in the 2013 Acura RDX

Great news ! Honda (and presumably Apple)  just announced a number of car models that will feature Siri Eyes Free , and the Acura RDX is among them . (And the Accord, but whatever.) I drive a 2008 Acura RDX, and while we still have a handful of years left before we think of trading it in, it's good to know that our next car will have Siri Eyes Free. (Because the RDX is awesome, it got even better with the 2012 revamp, and we're sticking with it indefinitely.)

A 128 GB iPad! (Is Apple Reacting, Instead of Innovating?)

The big news from Apple this week wasn't all that much news at all. As rumored, they announced a 128 GB iPad 4. Which I'm sure is awesome. But is it really necessary? Or interesting? It certainly has no power to stir the hearts of men. It's just a spec bump. It's barely worth writing about - I can't imagine that Apple is going to move a ton of these at $799. But it feels strange that Apple even thought this was necessary. I agree with Citibank analyst Glen Yeung, who feels that this was a "defensive" move , perhaps made in reaction to Microsoft's upcoming Surface Pro. Apple? Doing things in reaction to Microsoft releasing some product? In 2013? Has the world gone upside down?! Dogs and cats, living together... mass hysteria! And yet.... Mr. Yeung may be right.  It's hard to argue that the iPad mini was a defensive move, intended to compete with the Kindle Fires and assorted Android tablets in the low end of the tablet market. And now, 128G

High Five - 5 Apple Products I Never Owned (But Wish I Had)

This is the first in a new AAAD feature - the High Five. A list of 5 items that fit into a common theme. Today, the top five Apple products I never owned, but that I'd really wanted. (And in many cases, still want, and plan to incorporate into our new house.) Some of them were flops that washed out of stores before I'd had a chance to get one - others were major sellers that came out when my only disposable income was a weekly allowance. One is a best-seller that's still part of the product line.  This isn't a list of "quirky Apple products no one remembers", like the QuickTake camera or the 20th Anniversary Macintosh, or the Mac TV. Today's list consists of 5 Apple things that were well-known enough for me to Apple-geek-out over, but that for one reason or another, I never acquired. Let's get started after the jump with the computer pictured right here.....

Apple should buy Logitech's Harmony Remote Control Division

Logitech recently announced that they're selling several lines of business, including their Harmony remote control division , and while there hasn't even been a whispered rumor about Apple among the suitors, Apple should be considering the purchase. Apple doesn't necessarily need to purchase Logitech's Harmony division... but they should seriously consider co-opting what Harmony used to do well in the remote-control market. Apple's expertise in user-interfaces could deliver a remote control device that would act as a central hub for home entertainment and automation.  And the best way to do that may be by purchasing Harmony - if only for the IP and the optics.  To the extent that Logitech is selling patented tech with the Harmony division, that tech could help Apple in developing the iRemote. And even if no helpful patent or tech is included in the sale, the acquisition of a major remote-control maker like Harmony would demonstrate - conclusively - th

Oh, Comcast. This is getting awkward.

Our previously-documented issues with Comcast just got stranger today. This is just getting pathetic.  If you hadn't read my previous posts, we were going to switch our internet provider from WOW to Comcast - primarily b/c WOW charges $50/month, and Comcast had an introductory offer at about $35/month for the first 6 months.  So we called a Comcast tech, who told us that he couldn't install internet service without laying new cable and digging a trench in our yard, and that he couldn't dig a new trench until spring... would we mind if he just dragged a few hundred feet of coax across our yard, to be buried at some indiscriminate point in the spring when they might be able to schedule it?  Well, yes. Yes we would mind. Because that is stupid. 

Back on the family plan - and using Verizon's iPhone 5 Personal Hotspot

You know what's expensive? Pretty much any iPhone plan. But you know what's really expensive? Two iPhone plans - one with AT&T and the other with Verizon. A family divided (on cellphone providers) is an inefficient family.  So, yesterday we bit the bullet and got Mrs. AAAD a white iPhone 5. The old white iPhone 4 is headed to eBay. We'll pay AT&T $135 in early termination fees, and we'll pay Verizon a $35 activation fee.  Totally worth it. 

Eight Miles High - Review of American Airlines new app

This review comes to you courtesy of GoGo inflight Internet - making air travel substantially more tolerable since 2010 (or so.) I'm currently en route to LaGuardia for a few days of business meetings. 6:00 am flight = 3:45 AM alarm, 4:30 AM taxi... But at least there's GoGo.   It's easy to take in-flight wireless for granted, and I'm more guilty of that than most. If I'm on a flight with no wifi, I'm legitimately disappointed/annoyed. Bad character trait, I suppose. And it's not a desire to get work done - I primarily goof around on iOS devices, and pay for the privilege.

Forget the Newsstand - Apple needs a centralized Remote Control App Platform

If you're like me, your iPhone Newsstand folder is completely empty. Maybe you have a New York Times app - maybe not. On the iPad, the Newsstand is useful - there are magazines that use the platform. On the iPhone, less so. I wish that Apple would make Newsstand an iPad-only app aggregator. And while we're at it, how about a single platform for Remote Control apps - with the ability to add third party app "modules" as needed? 

Using a Tivoli Model One as an AirPlay speaker

There's no question that Tivoli Audio makes fantastic-looking electronic equipment. It's also well-built and sounds great as an AM/FM radio.  What it doesn't do is AirPlay. Tivoli sells some Bluetooth-capable Model One radios (for $259.99), and seems to have a new Bluetooth device that can be used in conjunction with a standard radio ($149.99) to stream music.   But that's a lot of money, and it's not iOS or AirPlay. I want this to be simple . And cheap. 

Cutting Cable Clutter - A New Inventory

We have a cable problem. I'm not talking about our TV service, which is awesome (thanks DirecTV!) or the actual HDMI cables connecting our components (which are a giant mess, but whatever, they're all getting buried in the walls soon.  I'm talking about piles and piles of loose, often obsolete, connector cables that pile up in my (and, probably your) life over the years.  At first, I was able to put them all in a freezer bag. Then, I needed a shoebox. Finally, a 2x1x1 box from Amazon. And cables are popping out of it in every direction.  And yet, when I really, really needed an S-Video cable last year for capturing some video from an S-VHS player, I didn't have one. It's a mess that's getting on my wife's nerves - and it's a useless mess, seeing as I'm still buying cables for specific tasks! Clearly, I need to come up with a solution. 

Going Underground #1 - the Foosball Table Restoration

I know I've done a lot of posts lately about Apple in general. But this blog is actually only PARTLY about Apple - it's primarily about our iOS-centered home remodel/update. And while technology is a big part of the remodel, there are other parts, too. 2x4s. Drywall. Furniture. Cabinets. And a game room. The first item arrived a couple of months ago - our Deustcher Meister 1970's era foosball table. My family picked this up in the early 1990s, I played it rather religiously through highschool with my friends, and I remember it looking pretty old back then. It looked substantially older when I picked it up from my parents new house last fall. The players were filthy. The rods were rusted. The ramps (in each corner, to the side of the goal) were chipped and pulling away from the playing surface. One of the players was facing backwards. Obviously, that won't do.

Review: A Year with SiriusXM for iPad

Okay, I'll grant that it probably hasn't been a full year. We're reviewing the latest version of the SiriusXM app for iPad, which is excellent, and should be a mandatory purchase for all SiriusXM subscribers.  For most of us, satellite radio is strictly for the car. Getting their signal in your house was a ridiculously difficult process - you needed to purchase equipment, and use an antenna near a window. I wasn't interested.  I also wasn't particularly interested in their browser-based internet radio (even though I had it on a free trial.) It was more or less tied to the computer, and my speakers weren't great.  Then, SiriusXM released a mobile app, (and worked out their contract issues with Howard Stern, making his broadcasts available on the app), and Apple introduced AirPlay, making every bit of iPad audio stream-able to any AirPlay device. Suddenly, this was a seriously compelling product. I could listen to any SiriusXM content, over my home

Can the iPad Mini be a great Remote Control?

The size is almost perfect. The small bezel on the sides, the shape - the iPad mini is almost exactly what I've been looking for. But I don't have one, and I probably won't get one this year. The reason is - it just doesn't provide any functionality I'm not already getting from my iPad and iPhone. It doesn't quite think different enough for me.   Next year, I want the Mini to be higher-tech, with a Retina screen - and to incorporate some old-timey tech, too. More after the jump. 

A cheaper iPhone! You really think so?

The Wall Street Journal and a number of other outlets reported last week that Apple was going to begin producing a cheaper iPhone, presumably going after the "economy phone" market. It would cost users nothing with a 2-year contract, and it would only cost Apple all of the ideals they hold most dear, and much of their current business model.   I suppose that's a bit of an exaggeration. But not entirely.  Story time! 15 years ago, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy. Their stock price was in the single digits, and had been for essentially the entire nineties. They were lost. I was still an Apple fanboy, and purchased a Mac LC 3 to take with me to college.  The Mac LC (which stands for "low-cost color") is precisely the kind of misguided product that the  low-cost iPhone - let's call it the "iPhone LC" would be. The computer was so underpowered that  a warning bubble popped up telling me that it literally could not run the MacPaint so

Has anyone tried the Ronin Case by Element?

I've read a few reviews of the Ronin case by Element, and, true, it's not the most practical purchase at $199. It's a phone case. But just look at it . The wooden sides, curved ever so slightly. The milled aluminum. The leather back . The last time I felt this way toward a gadget was when I saw the first iPhone. It's just so perfect looking. I guess I'm a sucker for wood trim on my electronics... And since when does practicality enter into the equation? I'm buying a $250 thermostat , for crying out loud, and I definitely spend a lot more time with my phone in my hand than I do my thermostat. Okay, I've convinced myself. I'm buying this thing. And I'll take pictures and review it here.

Leaving AT&T Wireless for a Verizon iPhone 5

I imagine that headline sums up a pretty common course of action these days. I just dropped AT&T wireless, after 6 years of iPhone fun. Things had gotten a bit better following our move to the suburbs. Back in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, it was common to have no service whatsoever. AT&T explained that a cell tower had completely failed in our neighborhood, creating a "dead zone", and that there were no current concrete plans to repair it. And still, they offered no solutions whatsoever. No microcell, no equipment swap, no SIM replacement, nothing. Basically, a "deal with it" stance. Which is their prerogative.

"Comcast Follies", or "I Guess We're Keeping WOW! Internet"

It's been slow going at the AAAD residence, as we've tried out a half-dozen TV/internet/phone providers over the first seven months we've been in the new house. We finally seem to have hit on the right "unbundled" combination: DirecTV's HR34 "genius" box for TV/DVR AT&T standard, basic phone service (VOIP was unable to play nicely with our security system) ...and Comcast cable internet, at least during its six-month introductory rate.   or, at least I THOUGHT that's how it would work. I wasn't really expecting Comcast to utterly fail to install internet service to a single-family home in a Chicago suburb. And yet, that's precisely what happened.