Archive for Technology

Post PC Thoughts

Don’t get me wrong, I love having the power of a computer in my pocket, but the idea of these devices replacing computers leave me a bit uneasy still. I can get a lot done just on my iPod touch (I am in fact writing this article in Notes on my iPod Touch), but I still want to be able to go home and use my computer that has the full power I need for tasks like video editing. Although you can do most of the things average computer users need to do on mobile devices, the devices are just not powerful enough to provide the speed that a personal computer does. I think that mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone might be able to replace less powerful, portable devices like netbooks but,  I still think people will need a desktop or laptop computer as well for more power-intensive tasks plus as of right now, you still need to have a computer to sync your iPhone or iPad.

Many people think that the Post PC era will behind within the next 5-10 years but, I think that we still want and need personal computers and I think it will stay that way for some time and think that is good. Although I love my iPod Touch I still need my computer for certain things and to get things done faster.

iPhone 4.0 Software Review

One Thursday, Apple gave a media preview of the next generation of the iPhone operating system. Many of the requested features that people have wanted are finally added and i think it is definitely worth the upgrade. They featured 7 major features which were the focus of the event, but there were over 100 additions to this version.

Multitasking- is the one feature that a lot of people have been demanding since the release of the first iPhone. It is very well executed on the iPhone and it isn’t supposed to be as resource-intensive as other mobile multi-tasking. This will make the iPhone platform much easier to get things done on. However, this will only work on iPhone 3Gs and 3rd generation iPod touches. This means that i’m out of luck but, for those with new hardware, this will make getting things done where every your go much easier.

Another great getting things done feature is Folders which allows you to group application into folders and have easy access to all your apps. It also will allow users to have over 2,000 apps and it will make organizing apps much easier.

You are now also able to customize the wallpaper of your device which is nice although I don’t know why it took them so long to add this feature.

The default Mail app got a few upgrades as well. Unified inbox lets you put multiple mail accounts into one mailbox so you can check all your mail in one spot. This makes it much easier for people who have multiple email accounts, as I do, you don’t need to check account individually although, you can if you still want to. Mail also has threaded conversations, like Gmail grouping together email conversations. The final addition to Mail is the ability to open attachments with other applications, which is very important if you want to edit attached files wherever you are.

As, I expected, Apple has made a version of iBooks, their ebook reader for the iPad, available for the iPhone.  It would have been foolish if Apple didn’t include this. You can sync your bookmarks and books with your iPad as well and make it easy to pick up on one device where you left off on the previous one.

Several Enterprise features have been added as well, you can now encrypt your email more thoroughly, use VPNs, and developers can even encrypt application data.

iAds is an interactive Ad system that can be enbedded in apps and have unique ads that are more than a standard banner ad and are even interactive.

Apple’s new Social gaming network will let gamers play against their friends over the internet and develop a mobile equivalent to the Playstation Network or XBox live. This will even further the iPhone as a portable gaming device.

Over-all this new version will greatly enhance the iPhone and has set a high standard for other mobile phone platforms to compete with. iPhone 4.0 will be out this Summer, and will be out in the Fall for the iPad. Pricing has not been announced but, even if it is $10 it is still worth it for the extra features you will gain.

The Growing Use of Computers in Video Production

In the early days of video production, studios and control rooms were filled with single use pieces of equipment that were extremly expensive and were only used for one particular task. However, now in the past few years, those old single-use pieces of equipment are being replaced with computers that can do a particular job but can also do other things as well. This is mainly because computers have become much more powerful and can handle full HD video without any trouble. Now instead of having a special piece of equipment for the character generator, you can, as my college does use a standard off the shelf computer with a special card and some special software for a lot less money. We use the chiron system which is used in about 80% of control rooms in the industry. The other, and probably most important computerized piece of equipment is the swtchee which controls what is either recorded or broadcasted. Hardware switchers, which are still the norm in the industry, cost tens of thousands of dollars. However if you have a powerful enough computer, and the right inputs for your computer, then it can replace the hardware switcher for a fraction of the cost. There are a few software solutions for this, the most common is the Tricaster which Leo Laporte uses for his TWIT Live stream. The other common piece of software that can serve this is Boinx TV which I reviewed in an earlier article. Although this sound appealing, it is still new technology and requires a very powerful computer. However, if you have a powerful laptop it alllows you to have a switcher that you can take with you anywhere and do multi-camera shoots anywhere.

I think as time goes on more and more equipment will go computerized and will further decrease the cost of building studios which will allow more people to afford building a studio. Computers also allow flexibility and allows you to easily change the arrangement of the studio based on the program and th director’s preferences. I was able to see thus first hand when I toured Dallas Cowboys Stadium and saw their control room. The control room screens are all connected to KVM (Keyboard, video and monitor) switches so that the director can decide how they want people arranged in the control room and rearrange the control room just by pressing a few buttons.

How Apple Can Save the Apple TV

When Apple debuted the Apple TV in 2007, it was meant to allow the user to access their iTunes content in their home media center to get the best possible experience. Later, users were able to directly download content on their Apple TV but, it never was that popular of a product. If Apple wants to make the Apple TV a successful product, then they need to make major changes to the Apple TV and take some ideas from the other set top boxes like Roku and Boxee.

1. Applications
The app store on the iPhone, iPod touch and now the iPad allows users to browse and download applications they want to expand the feature set of the device. On the Apple TV there doesn’t have to be the over 50,000 apps there are available in the iPhone app store but, apps for extra media and accessing social networks like Facebook and Twitter would be great to have on the big screen TVS.

2. Games
Going with the applications the app store could also open up the Apple TV as a gaming console and would be able to get more great entertainment on their Apple TV. They could target both the casual games that make the iPhone a great gaming platform as well as more serious games appealing to all gamers. The one advantage Apple has in this market is that they have mastered digital downloads through the app store and could use downloads as a cheaper alternative to optical disks.

3. Streaming Web Content
Both the Roku and Boxee box have the ability to stream content from the Internet both live and prerecorded. On Roku you can watch shows from Revision3, TWIT and other content providers. You can also watch the TWIT Live Stream as Leo broadcasts live everyday. This would add another dimension to the Apple TV and make it have the capabilities to replace your cable or satellite subscription.

Apple has done a great job designing the Apple TV’s user interface by making it slick and easy to use. However, they now need to step it up another notch and make it a full entertainment device.

HTML 5, The Future of Internet Video

Youtube, the largest social video network on the Internet as well as Vimeo have both recently  launched HTML 5 video players which is the newest version of the web development language that is used to write all websites! It now has added support for embeded video! I think this is a major game changer because, it undermines the current Flash video standard which has given Adobe a lot of power with their Flash Player being installed on millions of computers. However, if more video site switch to HTML 5 then, less people would both using Flash to watch video if they could just as easily watch the video in H.264 format and not need to install any other software. However, the current version of Firefox, which is my favorite browser, does not yet support HTML 5 but, it will be coming soon I’m sure!  Right now HTML 5 video is a beta feature of these sites, mainly because all browsers don’t support it. But, this can easily become a standard and make watching internet videos much easier! Browsers need to add the support for HTML 5 and once it becomes a standard, Flash usage will greatly decrease. Flash will still be used for internet games but, for video HTML 5 will take over! Another advantage is that HTML 5 that it streams higher-quality video than Flash and gives the viewer a better experience.

Audiobooks, Another Great Way to Enjoy Books

I have heard about Audiobooks, from Leo Laporte and services like Audible but, never put any thought into listening to audiobooks but, I recently tried a free trial of Audible and have enjoyed every minute of listening to my audio book. When I got my book I started to read it while I walked to classes and it is just great. I actually tried to spend more time walking so I can hear more of my audio book. When I listened I felt like  I got all the information out of it because I could hear it. Now, that I listened to my first audio book, I plan to go back and listen to more books because I get the information more easily and really enjoy the experience. I also can carry several books on my iPod and carry them wherever I go. The only downside is that every book is not able to heard as an audio book somewhat restricting your choices but there are still thousands of books in a variety of genres to listen to and enjoy!

Uses for the iPad

The iPad which is the long awaited tablet from Apple, has be called by some, “Just an iPod Touch with a bigger screen”, although I think it is some-what accurate, I think there are certain jobs that the iPad is much better at than the iPhone. I do think it still needs further development to make it a more viable device, but, there are some uses that I think the iPad can do very well already.

1. Netbook

Although Apple has mocked Netbooks in the past, this device would work very well as a netbook because you really don’t need a full operating system on a netbook which is used primarily for surfing the internet, checking email, and word processing all things that the iPad is great at. For those who don’t want to use the touch screen keyboard, you can either use a Bluetooth keyboard or the keyboard dock to have the ability of using a hardware keyboard. This is also great for traveling because it won’t take up too much space.

2. Ebook Reader

One of the newest applications introduced on the iPad is the iBooks app and the iBook store which allows you to browse, buy and read books on the iPad. Although other, Ebook readers are less expensive, the iPad also allows you all the functionality of an iPod Touch as well as an ebook reader. It also has a full color display!

3. Video Player

Although you can watch videos on an iPod Touch, the screen is only 3.5 inches and makes it a little difficult to see all the details. With a full 10 inch screen, the iPad is perfect for watching videos and enjoying content on the go.

January 27th Apple Event Predictions

Wednesday is the big day! Apple is having their big press event at 10 AM Pacific time, 1 Pm Eastern and the rumors of the fabled tablet have been circulating for well over a year now! The event invitation said “See Our Latest Creation” and had paint splatters which, would indicate it to be a creative product announcement, but I think it will be more than a tablet release. I think they will be announcing several new products and save the tablet as the “One More thing”.  These are a list of what I think Apple will be announcing at their event on Wednesday.

1. iLife 2010

This is logical, since they are making this seem like a creative event, they should update their iLife Suite and hopefully add some more significant features, since the last version iLife ’09 added very few new features, it’s time for an real upgrade!

2. Macbooks/ Macbook Pros

I’m not expecting a major change, but just a bump in specs and maybe, the rumored Core i5 and Core i7 Macbook Pros, will hit the market!

3. iPhone Software update

Rumor has it, that Apple will unveil their new operating system for the iPhone and iPod touch, i’m not 100% sure that they will becasue they traditionally announce the new OS in March and launch new hardware either in June or July.

4. Tablet

I’m not going to say much about the tablet, because I have covered it with my two articles [article 1] [article 2]. The one thing I will say is that I don’t expect it to come out this week, I would expect it in a month or two, but definitely not right away

As I usually do with Apple events, I will write a wrap-up/ reaction article after the event which I will release either on Wednesday or Thursday to summarize what happened at this event. I think that this event will be a major, revolutionary event and Steve Jobs will compare it to other revolutionary products Apple has released in the past: Macintosh (1984), iMac (1998), iPod (2001), and iPhone (2007). I think this event will be one of the great ones!

Apple Tablet Thoughts: Part 2

I know I already wrote an article about what I think the Apple tablet will be, but after I wrote it more news came out and I thought of more things that I didn’t include in the first article and wanted to add them on now before it is too late.

First, I think it will look like the top/lid part of a Macbook Air or Macbook Pro meaning a metal enclosure and glass screen. I think it will run a modified version of Mac OSX for tablets but will work more like a regular Macbook. I think the name will be Macbook Tablet or something with Macbook in it because it will be more a notebook than a iPod Touch.  The only other thought I have about the tablet is that it will be a major announcement and will probably be the “One More Thing” of the keynote and will be accompanied by other new products as well, I will predict the other new products in a later blog post closer to the event.

Problems with Wireless Accessories

I know having cables all over your work area is a pain at times, but wireless is no  better. I had a Wireless keyboard and mouse for less than a month and then decided to return it because it was not reliable. First, if you don’t want to spend more that $50 on a wireless device, you will have to plug in a dongle so that you can use it, if you spend more than $50 you will be able to find a Bluetooth device so that you can use the Bluetooth that is built-in to most new computers. Plus, you need to make sure you computer and the device are in sync so that they can be used, and connections can be broken at random time making it a major nuisance. Another issue is that because there is no cable connecting it to a USB port, the device requires batteries to power it which is another annoying thing you need to worry about,  making sure your accessory’s batteries are fully charged and that is also not good for the environment.  The final major problem is that there seem to be more random problems than it’s wired counterpart and makes the cable clutter more worthwhile.

I especially don’t recommend using wireless for anything that need to be high quality like audio recording or any audio for that matter because wireless just has too many variables. I think that wireless technology needs to be better developed before it is ready to be used in daily life. I still prefer Bluetooth because it is more standard and because you don’t need any extra devices to be plugged into the computer. But, for now I am going to stay wired because it is still much more reliable and hassle-free.

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