April 2010 - Posts

LALA Music Streaming Service Shutting Down! My Predictions Concerning Cloud Bases iTunes!
Friday, April 30, 2010 2:06 PM


So I went to LaLa.com this morning to listen to a band I had never heard of and they had this message up that LaLa is going to be shutting down. They are no longer going to be accepting any more users and people who already have a LaLa account can use the service until the end of the month.

Apple bought LALA last year and everyone is assuming they are going to turn iTunes into a cloud based music service. I assume the new iTunes will be a cross between what iTunes is now and what LaLa was. The main differences between LaLa and iTunes music store is the ability to listen to any song all the way though once, and the ability to purchase songs for online playing only. Instead of paying $.99 for a song you could pay $.10 - $.15 for a song and play it as many times as you want but only online. I would love to see Apple allow you load the music onto your iPhone,iPad, and iPod Touch, much like the music service Rapsody does for other devices.

This could be really cool to say the least! If they allow you to purchase songs for less and still give you the ability to store or oven stream them from your idevices that would be really cool. I am sort of against the whole purchase without owning idea, but for some types of music I wouldn't mind it. Perhaps current pop songs that you listen to for a couple of weeks and then forget about.

All of that is just speculation on my part, Apple has not announced anything to reflect this at all. This is simply what I think Apple should do and perhaps might do. The end of LaLa comes at an interesting time as WWDC is on June 7 just a week after LaLa goes offline. So people are starting to say that cloud based iTunes might be announced then. We will have to wait and see!

by willburns1 | with no comments
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Flash 10.1 “Gala” brings Hardware Acceleration to Mac
Friday, April 30, 2010 12:43 PM


Flash 10.1 “Gala” prerelease brings hardware Acceleration to Macs for the first time. Hardware acceleration is a feature that allows the graphics card to help process streaming online videos, making the video play faster and smoother. It was previously a windows only feature giving Windows machines a better online video viewing experience.

When you have hardware acceleration turned on you should notice that video sites like Youtube and Hulu, using the standard H.264 video encryption, have fewer start and stops and have less of a strain on your CPU. It's about time hardware acceleration comes to Mac, so Mac users and finally use their video cards for watching video.

The preview release of Flash 10.1 Gala officially supports NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M, and the GeForce GT 330M. If you don't have one of those graphics cards then the hardware acceleration will probably not help you. I installed it anyway and did see improvement in the speed and playback of videos so I would give it a try anyways.

Something I noticed right way was that when I click the full screen button on youtube the video went right to full screen and didn't skip a beat. Before I installed “Gala” I noticed a second or two delay between hitting the button and the video continuing to play. I also was able to load several windows in the background while playing a video and the video didn't pause or skip. So I would give it a try and let me know in the comments if you see any improvements.  

Flash 10.1 “Gala” Preview Release



by willburns1 | with no comments
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Style Your Garage - Photo Realistic Murals for Your Garage Door
Thursday, April 29, 2010 11:06 AM

Why have a boring garage door, why not spice it up with a photo realistic looking banner that allows your garage to look like you have always wanted. I have always wanted an old classic car sitting in my garage and now I can have that, lol well not really but at least from a distance it will look like it. These clever and realistic murals are really banners that you Velcro to your garage door. Many of 250 different murals have a cool 3D effect making it look like the door is open and home to some awesome looking vehicle, like a race car or airplane.

The banners are available for from $229 on up depending on the size of your garage, with larger murals costing about $389. The banners fit almost any garage door, and can easily be modified to fit just about any door. It's an interesting idea for sure. I don't think my wife would approve, but I think if I were a bachelor I would be all about it. The other thought I had is how would a homeowner's association feel about a big mural on your garage door? Other than those two concerns it's a pretty cool product and for what you get it's pretty affordable.

If you aren't into decorating your garage door you can also get murals for bedroom doors, which is great for kids of all ages. It's pretty much the same deal as the garage door murals but just smaller.

Style Your Garage
VIA Geekosystem 
by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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Super Mario Bros. Crossover – Play as Link, Samus, Mega Man and Others
Thursday, April 29, 2010 10:36 AM

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play the original Super Mario as some of your favorite NES characters? Well here is your chance, Super Mario Bros. Crossover lets you play the original Super Mario Bros. game as either Mario, Link, Simon, Mega Man, Bill R., or Samus. Each character has abilities similar to the ones in their game. For example Bill R. shoots his gun and when you get fire power Bill R. turns red and shoots a cluster shot. After each level you are given the chance to change characters so you don't have to play every level as the same character. It's a pretty interesting little flash game and fun to run through the levels trying to defeat enemies with your different powers.

You can play the game over at New Grounds and you should also checkout the developers site at Exploding Rabbit.
by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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Apple Buys Siri - Virtual Personal Assistant
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 1:37 PM


So it seems that Apple has made yet another purchase this week, after purchasing Austin, Texas-based chip company Intrinsity, Apple has also acquired Siri a small startup that built a virtual digital assistant app for the iPhone.

Siri personal assistant app for the iPhone allows you to get information on several subjects just by asking about it. You can say things like “find a cheap italian restaurant near me”, and using one of it's 30 APIs will find you a restaurant and let you reserve a table. I wrote about the app a while ago so for more info on Siri personal assistant see that post.

The questions is why is Apple interested in Siri. I think it's a great application and has some great functions, but what are they planning on doing with it. TechCrunch thinks there are two possibilities

“Apple will add Siri as a standard app on future iPhones and iPads or it is interested in the underlying natural language processing and semantic search technology to incorporate into its apps more broadly. It second option seems more likely.”

I happen to agree with them, but I have my own prediction. I think they will take the technology and features of Siri and add them to the search and the voice control function on the phone. As it is now the voice control function can call people and play music but how cool would it be if it could find restaurants, call cabs, get you movie tickets, and more with the voice control function. Very cool thought I hope they do that rather than just make it another app, I want it built in. 
by willburns1 | with no comments
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Volumizer – Puts Mounted Drives on your Menu Bar or Dock
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 1:23 PM



Volumizer is a little application that does one very simple thing, it puts all your mounted volumes where where you can find them easily. You can choose to put your mounted volumes either on the menu bar or in the Dock.

This seems simple, but solves a little annoying problem of windows getting in the way of you accessing mounted drives. If you want to access a CD or mounted image you have to move your windows around  so you can see the little icon to click on it.

It's not a huge problem and there are other ways of accessing mounted volumes without this little tool,  but it does make it a little more convenient. You can always use expose or double click the finder icon to access mounted volumes, but to each their own I guess. Volumizer is a free application so go and give it a try it you like.  

Volumizer Website

by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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iPad USB Adapter does more than Advertised
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 1:03 PM
 

So the iPad doesn't come with any USB ports or SD slots but you can get the Connection Kit that allows you both those connections. The USB connector is supposed to be for connecting a camera to your iPad to download photos, but unadvertised and unsupported can do other things as well.

If you have a USB headphones or headset you can plug it into the iPad and it will automatically route the audio through your headphones or headset. Also the mic on headsets will work as well with applications like Skype, so you can place Skype calls. This comes as a surprise to some because Apple didn't mention this functionality.

If you have a low powered USB keyboard you can also use that with the USB connector. Not all USB keyboards work probably because of the power needed to power them, but if you have a low powered keyboard it will work with your iPad as expected. When you plug it on it might give you an error message but the keyboard should still work just fine. All the buttons work and the eject button makes the onscreen keyboard popup.

Makes me wonder what other gadgets work with the iPad unofficially. What about card readers? It would be interesting to see if card readers of various types could upload their images to the iPad. I also wonder if the iPhone or iPod Touch could use the connection kit as well?
by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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Splinter Cell Conviction Review – Splinter Cell Without Limits
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 12:26 PM


I love the new Splinter Cell Conviction game. Everything in the other games in the series that was annoying or bothersome are gone and what you are left with is awesome game play that has great replay value. Here are some of the changes from the other games in the Splinter Cell series: no more alarms, you don't have to move bodies around, you don't have night vision goggles, you don't have to manual save and load checkpoints, and no more attaching gadgets to your gun before deploying them.

What New
There is a lot that is new about the new Splinter Cell game. For starters there is a new skill called “Execute”. When you perform a hand to hand combat move, be it pulling someone out of a window or sneaking up on them, you gain the ability to Execute. You can mark targets using RB and when you get a clear line of site and are in range you can hit Y which makes your character execute the marked enemies with one shot. It allows you to plan a method of attack that eliminates several enemies at once.

Another big feature of Splinter Cell Conviction is Last known Position. When you get seen in this game, a ghost of your “last known position” appears. The enemies think this is where you are and gives you time to flee the scene or flank them and take them out. It's brings a lot of strategy to the game and  allows you time to rethink your next move.

There are a lot of guns in this version of Splinter Cell. If I remember correctly in the first couple games you didn't have a choice what weapon you used, and you couldn't take guns off enemies that you had killed. Splinter Cell Conviction gives you weapon stashes where can change your weapon, upgrade weapons, and reload. If you run out of bullets or just feel like changing weapons in the middle of the game you can always take a gun off a downed enemy.

Spinter Cell Conviction also introduced “Persistant Elite Creation” aka P.E.C. Challenges. P.E.C Challenges are kind of like achievements that give you points to upgrade weapons, gadgets and your armor. The challenges include but are no limited to things like pulling people out of windows and taking out enemies investigating your last known position.

Other Game Modes

Other than the single player story mode you can play several multiplayer modes as well. Splinter Cell Conviction has a Co-Op Story mode, Hunter, Last Stand, Face-Off, and Infiltration modes. Except for Face-off and Co-Op story modes all the others can be played in single player, which is nice if you don't have friends to play with or don't have Xbox live. All of those game types can be played online via Xbox Live.

I won't explain all the game types but the Hunter game type happens to be my favorite. In the hunter game type you have to navigate a level and kill all the enemies in it. The level is divided into several sections with weapon stashes in-between. You have to kill 10 enemies in each section but if you are seen or make too make noise like using explosives or unsuppressed weapons 8 more enemies are added to your total. It's a lot harder than it seems because you get seen a lot easier than in the story mode, and you really have to watch who you take out and when.

Conclusion
I love this game! You complete the Story Mode which was great, but you haven't even scratched the surface of the game after completing it. There is so much to do and upgrade and unlock that it will have  you playing for weeks on end.      

by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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Payvment – Could Facebook be the New Web Market Place
Monday, April 26, 2010 1:19 PM


It's interesting to see web commerce sites start to include social networking elements and other social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook, to their web stores. Their hope is that the connection will engage their customers and bring in new customers as well. Well what about bringing web commerce to social networking sites. It's an interesting concept and Payvment is at the forefront as far as Facebook is concerned.

Payvment allows you add a storefront to your Facebook page. You can add unlimited store items that can be added to a cart and purchased via Paypal. The setup couldn't be simpler and Payvment shopping cart web service allows customers items to float between shopping carts in the same network. So if someone leaves items in their cart on Facebook they will also be in their cart on your website if you use their system there. Payvment also just added a feature that allows you to give discounts to your Facebook page fans. So people can become a fan of your page and get discounts on your products. It's like a member only discount card but for your Facebook Pages.

It's an interesting concept to say the least. The idea that you can market to almost 400 Million people is a very good one. There are some hurdles in the way of the idea taking off. For starters finding products on Facebook isn't easy. You can search through products on the storefront as well as the Payvment page but it's not very effective. The other major hurdle is that people don't look for products and don't purchase products on Facebook. It's going to take some time to get people use to looking for and purchasing items on Facebook.

by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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Wi-Fi Sync App that you will probably never see on your idevice
Monday, April 26, 2010 10:58 AM


There an app for the iPhone, iPod, iPad that allows you to sync your device via Wi-Fi. The applications Wi-Fi Sync has assumably been submitted to the Apple App Store and awaiting approval, but I doubt it will see the light of day.

Wi-Fi Sync does exactly what you think it does. When you launch the app it connects to your Wi-Fi network and asks your computer to connect to it. When you accept it shows up in iTunes and you can sync your device without using the sync cable.

The down side to an application like this the first of all speed. Even a wireless N router only transfers data at about 100Mbps, which is much slower than the USB 2.0 cord that transfers at 500Mbps. There is also a security concerns is using Wi-Fi that should be addressed.

I think if Apple wanted the iPhone, iPad, iPod to sync wirelessly they would have implemented something. I don't think they are going to allow this app through, but if they did it might be worth a try. I think the fact you have to open the app and connect it to the computer and then sync it in itunes is kind of annoying. I might as well us the cord. I can't wait until all the idevices within the reach of your Wi-fi network could be synced without you having to do anything on the device. That means the iPod in my car could be synced while sitting in the parking lot and that would be super cool. I think perhaps I'll just wait till that happens.

 
by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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Viral iPad Video Roundup
Friday, April 23, 2010 10:57 AM
Ever since the iPad came out there have been these videos on YouTube that have been getting a lot of attention. They have all received a ton of hits in a short amount of time, which in my mind gives them viral status. So I thought I would post them all together as an iPad viral video roundup. I'm not posting videos from news sources and the like, just the ones that went viral on YouTube.


iggy investigates an ipad


A 2.5 Year-Old Has A First Encounter with An iPad


A Dog Tests the iPad - Tested.com

Virginia's new iPad

Personally I think that the "iggy investigates an ipad" video is probably the funniest, and most amusing. I am impressed that the 100-year-old grandma was able to use the iPad that's pretty impressive. If you know of any other one's let me know leave a comment or tweet me on twitter @ilovemymacs

by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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Hulu to Offer a $10 a Month Subscription for back Episodes
Thursday, April 22, 2010 1:43 PM


So we have been hearing about the possibility that Hulu was going toward a paid subscription route for a while now. It seems they have pulled the curtain on their plans, as they announced that they are going to offer a $10 a month subscription, called Hulu Plus, for access to back episodes of shows.

As it is now you can only watch the last 5 episodes of certain shows on Hulu. If you pay the $10 a month you will get access to more than just the last 5 shows. Nothing will change for non-paying visitors to the site you will still be able to watch the last 5 episodes for free.

There are several unknowns about the new Hulu Plus. One is how many episode will you get and will you get access to all the seasons? Will there be a limit to how many shows you can watch or is it unlimited? Will there be ads in the back issues for the paying members?

The $10 seems pretty reasonable however, I feel like Hulu will need the support of TV interfaces to make their product more like Netflix Instant Watch. Interfaces like Boxee, Xbox, PS3, Wii, DVD players, Apple TV and others. They need that support because I might pay $10 a month to watch shows in HD on my TV, but on my computer not so much. Maybe Hulu can can make a deal with Boxee to  finally to get that working consistently instead of fighting them every step of the way.  
by willburns1 | with no comments
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Disc Cover 2 – Mac CD and DVD Label Maker
Wednesday, April 21, 2010 6:06 PM

Something that makes any CD or DVD look more professional or fun is a custom label that you can put right on the disk. You can go to the stores and by label kits and software, but all your really need are the inexpensive refill label packs and the Disc Cover software. I guarantee you that the Disc Cover for mac is going to be better then whatever software they give you in the kit. Disc Cover can print on your labels with hundreds of brands and layouts to choose from.

Disc Cover comes with over 24,000 different high quality images that you can use on your labels. There are also 120 backgrounds to choose from and 130 ready made templates to get you started quickly. The image gallery is very impressive and has photos and clipart that would go great on just about any cover.  

Probably the best feature of Disc Cover is the iLife integration. You can import track titles from playlists or albums to add to your CD. Placing and positioning them on the disc is as simple as drag and drop. You can position them anywhere on the CD and the text will automatically wrap around the edges. You can also import images from iPhoto and text from your iDVD library. It is truly the best way to get CD information onto your label.

The image editor is great for modifying images to look great on your label. Disc Cover has filters just like photoshop, everything from cropping to image color adjustments to distortion filters. You no longer have to edit a photo before putting it into your disc making software. You can also place image masks on your photos for cool effects around the edges of you image.  If you don't want to import images Disc Cover also allows you to just drag and drop images from your desktop right into your project.  

Printing couldn't be simpler with Disc Cover. You can choose the label paper type and print right on the labels you already have. Like a said at the beginning you can buy the inexpensive label refill packs and just use Disc Cover to print on them. Disk Cover also has LightScribe and Labelflash support so if you have a printer that can print right on disk you can still use Disc Cover.

Disc Cover is $35 for the full version but you can download the application and try it free. You will not have access to all the images and they place a watermark on your discs if you try and print them, but other than that the program is fully unlocked. You can get a good idea if you like the program before you buy.

Disc Cover Website
by willburns1 | with no comments
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Tinypay.me – It's like a Social Ebay with a Twitter Type Look and Feel.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010 1:05 PM


Tinypay.me is a web 2.0 website that allows you to easily sell items online. There are no accounts and listing an item take about 60 seconds. When you list an item Tinypay.me makes a costume page that can be shared over your social networks like Facebook and Twitter with an already shortened URL. You can also embed the listing on your website.

I think this is a great idea, it's like the Twitter of selling items online. It can be shared pretty much anywhere and embedded onto your site. Because you can embedding your items you gain the ability to make a website that has an online store with no understanding of how a shopping cart system works. Just by using Tinypay.me you could construct a internet storefront that is social but also stationary on your own site that you can promote.

I think this website is a really good idea and should have some great applications in the internet community. They take 5% of the sale price, which is less than Ebay, and they even off the ability to donate a percentage of sale to 6 different charities.

Pros:
The pros of tinypay.me is its social networking side. The ability to share over social networks, with each product page being it's own shortened URL, is a very nice feature. They are cheaper than Ebay, which is good, and there are no enlistment fees or hidden fees, just the 5% cut from the sale price. You can embed your listed products on your website essentially making your own online store.

Cons:
When you list something on Ebay you get all the traffic that comes with it. You will probably see more traffic for your item on Ebay than with tinypay.me with you don't promote it yourself. You see Ebay in a lot of search results and Tinypay.me doesn't and probably will not make a huge splash on Google. People know Ebay and have learned to trust it which might be a factor for tinypay.me.

Conclusion
If you can provide the traffic and support for your products with Social media and website promotion than I think Tinypay.me is a great place for you. If you want the website to sell your product for you because it's popular and has good traffic than perhaps you should stick with Ebay and websites like Etsy.

Tinypay.me
VIA Download Squad
by willburns1 | with no comments
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Boxoh – Tracks your Packages on a Map
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 4:13 PM


I am a very impatient person and when I order something online I must check the tracking information at least a dozen times. Boxoh let's you track your UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL, and other regional carriers packages. Instead of just a list of places it's been it shows you all that information on a map, so you can see the route your package is taking.

I am not really sure that it's necessary to see a map with the tracking information on it but it's cool for sure. As you can see in the image above seeing the route doesn't inform you of how quickly it's going to arrive because packages don't always take the shortest route to it's destination. That was something I ordered off Ebay and as you can see it took a lot of detours.

Boxoh's interface couldn't be simpler, all you have to do is paste in your tracking information into the box on the main page and it takes to the map route of your package. There is no accounts or sign-ins which is nice. The route map includes all the stops and times converted to your local timezone. You can also see the delivery estimate, miles traveled, and an option to track your package via RSS feed, which is nice for your RSS feed junkies. 

Boxoh Package Tracker VIA LifeHacker
by willburns1 | 1 comment(s)
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