Archive for the ‘iTunes’ category

REVIEW: My First 5 Minutes with OS X Yosemite

October 18, 2014

Holy Caw! This beast is… SLEEK.

I didn’t think I would like the non-skeumorphic icons. I’m not crazy about them on iOS. Yosemite will probably carry me over that hump.

Right off the bat I was concerned about app compatibility. We’ve all been stung by that with these updates. Yet, here it is 30 minutes in. I’ve launched all my go-to apps and I only have 8 requiring update via Software Update. Yet, they launch fine, docs open, save, reopen. Try THAT Windows!

I’ll run Yosemite for a while on this production machine before I take anything else past Maverick. But, there’s plenty of reason to appreciate the polish Apple has applied to this latest version of OS X.

First impression of the UI is the login screen after installation. That’s a really nice “Hello”. Very subtle. Very beautiful. Very elegant. Very… Jonny Ive (honestly).

Next, and particularly impressive, is Safari. I’ve nearly exclusively moved over to Chrome (and Firefox for one very specific site cpanel). Safari hasn’t factored for a long time in my daily use except on iOS. Th new OS X Safari *may* lure me back across the aisle. Realistically, I doubt that… I have too much configuration invested in Chrome at this point to really seriously a permanent move. Kudos to Apple for getting their browser tight and right though. (fwiw, I still miss RSS)

There are so many fresh new nooks and crannies to explore. I’m genuinely looking forward to this one. Those who know me well, know I just plunge into these updates with a reckless pursuit to see what’s waiting on the other side and know the price for that will (usually) be picking up the broken pieces of busted apps and such. And, usually, that’s apparent within the first thirty minutes. Judging by the stability, ease of migration and lack of core apps misbehaving I have to say right now, barely 10 minutes in this is going to be one of the easiest updates I’ve been through of all the OS X releases. It does make me wonder what Yosemite Server must be like. That hasn’t happened in a long time. Which also makes me wonder about ZFS implementation (or lack of) in Yosemite. More on that later if there’s anything to pass along. A boy can hope 🙂

Kick (bleep) AppleTV Feature Suggestion

April 4, 2014

My four kids are still young. They will be for a while longer. Their little ears don’t need to hear all the <bleeping> words some of these otherwise acceptable programs have.

AppleTV has replaced Cox Cable programming in our household. If it’s not on the AppleTV we don’t see it or even know it exists. I want the ability to CENSOR (gasp! I know) the audio content that comes through.

My iTunes Radio channels are censored at my request. But, what I’d really prefer is a simple audio cut-out at the moment so and so fires off a GD or an somesuch. Surely there’s a crowdsourced database out there that pegs the bad word at 1:10:05 and can be scrubbed out.

Streaming Christmas Music (iTunes)

December 22, 2012

Apple could stand a better search interface for searching their “radio” streams in both iTunes and especially in AppleTV.

So, Merry Christmas from me to you… I’ve found a good number of the streams from within the various iTunes radio categories just for you conveniently linked below:

Snow FM Ireland (classic Christmas oldies, 128 kbps)
Classical 24/7 (classical instrumental Christmas muzak)
Big R Radio Christmas Classics (eclectic Christmas mix, 128 kbps)
Fresh Christmas (hodge podge of Christmas “hits”, 64 kbps)
Got Radio – Christmas Celebration (all-over-the-place XMas music, 64 kbps)
1.FM TM – Always Christmas (From around the world, 64 kbps)
Christmas – – (roll of the dice, ?? kbps)

These might work fine on iPhone and iPad (or not). I haven’t checked them yet. I have no clue how to get these “bookmarked” on AppleTV (don’t get me started on that line of griping). And, if I manage to get back to this post I may be able to add a few more before Santa’s big globe trotting spree.


iOS 7 Better Have…

December 13, 2012

There are some things iOS7 had better have before I consider shelling out the bucks for the next new iPhone. Here’s my iOS bucket list:

  • I need a way to import a high quality greeting to my voicemail. Hardline dialing and recording a new greeting is NOT Apple-worthy. I don’t mind recoding to the Voice Memo app or on my Mac. I just ought to be able to import a sound file as my greeting dangit!
  • I expect a way to SEND my voicemails to my iCloud account as email attachments. Or create a rule that does it automatically.
  • I expect a way to FORWARD voicemails to other iOS devices as messages. I can send a picture/video via MMS… Why not a voicemail attachment?
  • I expect a heckuva LOT more out of Siri. It’s more useless than the Maps app right now.
  • Maps is borked. Now that Google Maps app is on the App Store… I’m going back to what works. Still love you Apple. Just need excellent Maps when I need a map.
  • Something’s still not quite right about Contact sync between iPhone, Mac laptop and iCloud. I have duplicates of many contacts in the order of 19 to upwards of 30 of the same person. There needs to be a super easy way to purge duplicates. Contact management shouldn’t be this nasty a chore.
  • Speaking of chores… Apple got the Notes app sync PERFECTLY across devices. It’s not broke. Don’t fix it. 😉 Replicate it’s success for the other devices.
  • Facetime is such a great idea. I’ve tried and tried and tried to Facetime on our local wireless LAN. Each time it rings once (so I know the call is coming through) and then indicates I’m busy to the other devices. Needs to be easier.
  • The new messaging works pretty swank too. Not sure how they’d improve it just now.
  • Can we PLEASE just sync up our phones to Time Machine? Pretty please?
  • Passbook is freakin awesome! A killer, kick ass kind of awesome. The world is ready (it just doesn’t know it yet).
  • Airplay = way awesome.
  • Safari “Reader Mode” is slick. Wish there was a way to make Siri read the content while I’m driving or otherwise occupied. That’s one thing I love about Alex on my Mac.
  • Photo streams to my AppleTV is not quite as straight forward an intuitive as I would expect from Apple. Needs Improvement.
  • Newsstand is a useless icon on my phone deck. Please, let me delete it or file it in another folder.
  • Faxing from my phone should be a no brainer easier than anything to do.
  • Finally, PRINTING. Guys. C’mon. Really? Printing is right up there with copy and paste. We’ve been doing this a long time. Why can’t we seem to get this right?

iOS is a super platform. So good in fact that in our household we’re getting device confused. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve swiped our fingers across the screen of the laptop or the iMac. It’s silly really that we’ve become so accustomed to iOS that is’s bleeding over into how we interact with the other computers around us.



INTERVIEW: iPhone App: PhotoShare

July 23, 2008

Another installment of our iPhone developer interview series has us talking with Satoshi Nakajima, founder of Big Canvas.

First, congrats to the team at Big Canvas on your new iPhone app. Is everyone as excited on the creation side as we are on the consumption side?
It’s been an unbelievable experience. It’s a super exciting time in the industry. It IS game changing. It’s an iPhone only app. Our application is called PhotoShare and maximizes the iPhone’s camera as a “friends & family” experience… a sharing device for casual communication. Twitter for pictures. We’re focused on the user experience and host the photos and conversation on our servers. It’s Secure. Private. Registration isn’t required – we eliminate the pain of passwords altogether.

In talking with other iPhone developers it’s become clear… this platform is surprisingly easy to develop for. What kinds of good surprises did your team encounter?
Emotionally it’s very gratifying. It’s a great device. A year later, the “love” is still there for iPhone. Apple pays a LOT of attn to power consumption and memory allocation. CPU management was clearly on their mind and is evident in what’s possible. Controlling and optimizing the power consumption was easy. The choice to avoid true multitasking was also the right call. Apple’s attention to these kinds of critical details was a nice surprise.

How helpful was Apple in the grand scheme of things during development? Resources beyond the usual ADC and WWDC venues?
Mostly we developed with the SDK. We drew on some Apple help at a few critical points. Despite being really busy they got back with us quickly to help us debut with the App Store on opening day.

How did you arrive at pricing for PhotoShare? Curious minds would like to know…
It will be free as a social networking application. We’ll offer it for free, learn some lessons and develop a business model as we go.

Finally, beta testing apps under development seems to have taken a step backward due to iTunes being the distribution point. Has that crimped the development and testing cycles at all? How did Big Canvas adapt and overcome?
There are complexities. Observing the nuances of the detailed documentation and preparing the application for iTunes is slightly tricky. Apple made it easy in one sense but rigid and strict in another. The most difficult part was not being able to test widely. Refinements for our apps will come quickly after the App Store launches.

Any parting advice to iPhone users? Apple?
Try a LOT of applications. The Long Tail dictates many will be garbage. There will be some really good apps rise and emerge as major apps.

PhotoShare can be downloaded from the App Store now. (Link will launch iTunes. v7.7+ required)

Sundance Film Festival Movies on iTunes

February 2, 2008

OK, now how cool is this!? I love, love, love short films. Everything about the format. Everything about the creative. Everything about the story telling. It’s always appealed to me. Sitting in a theater for 108 minutes waiting for a (usually predictable) plot to unfold is boring. “Helvetica” being the sole, recent exception.

The Sundance Film Festival is something I look forward to every year. Why? I just really like the quantity of creativity. For instance:

Madam Tutli-Putli is a story of a lady who hopped the night train and found herself stuck between real and imagined worlds.

The Apology Line was the most talked about documentary at Sundance. You know the one, where folks can call up and confess any old thing. Yeah, a must see.

Wind, Ten Years Old is the story of a 10-year old Iranian student and the propaganda machine that is her school system.

Please Stand Back is a film about soundscapes – architecture’s effect on the sound shapes in urban spaces. Having seen Fountainhead for the first time this past year I’m drawn to movies on architecture and structures as art.

So, if you have any interest in Sundance 2007 or Sundance 2008… here you go. (All links open to iTunes)

Qtrax FREE Music Site Launches. Again.

January 27, 2008

Browsing the AP headlines this morning I see Qtrax is coming out of cold storage with a fresh angle: 25 million free songs with a FairPlay work around. Sounds like they’ll be protecting the files while retaining the playability on iPod devices. Lest we forget the Achilles heel here… What Apple giveth, Apple can taketh away. Just look at all the jailbreaked iPhones out there. Qtrax may have their headlines for a couple of days – Good for a bump in curiosity traffic. But, the first update Apple issues to the iPods will most certainly be busting the playability of those trax… Qtrax had better have a compelling and strong value proposition to retain customers. The Mac beta of Qtrax will be available March 18 according to their site (which is slow as can be). [EDIT: It may not matter anyway… looks like someone at Qtrax was over-zealous and made some misleading claims about “who” and “how much”.]

If you’ll recall, Qtrax was/is a P2P approach much like Napster was in its day. In a move to stay alive, avoid legal entanglements, etc they shuttered the doors and hunkered down to buy time. All the while they’ve been cutting deals with the labels with an interesting model (similar to SpiralFrog‘s): namely ad sponsored distribution of music files which are somehow playable on the iPod as something other than your house variety mp3.

I’m certain this isn’t what they want to hear… I love music and I’m positive somehwere in that 25 million large pile of digitized music I’ll find some new stuff I don’t already own… I can ignore ads with the best of them. They’ve gotta know this about us. Seems to me they’ll have to be very intrusive with their ad plays in order to pay the license fees their labels are going to demand. Doing the rough math… if they’ll owe .50 on each distributed track I will have to have earned Qtrax enough during my site visit to offset what they’re going to owe (not to mention enough for infrastructure, salaries and operating costs). That’s one helluva lot of ad sponsored clickstream.

I don’t see them living to see 2009 with this model.

Odometer hits 400,000

January 26, 2008

Last November I blogged about reaching 300,000 visitors here at the gWHIZ blog. While I was taking a hiatus from blogging/tweeting it hit 400,000. That took less than three months. For some, that’s a couple hours or a long day

Here sometime soon I’ll pass the 925 posts mark on posts too. That’s roughly one entry per day since I started blogging. I can feel good about all that.

A couple of interesting bits of tid:

  • There are 825 comments on the gWHIZ blog (a ratio I’d like to improve). But, it means we do have discussions sometimes (gasp!);
  • The gWHIZ Technorati rank is at 110,648. I’d love to break into the top 75,000… Favorite us and help that along please? (shameless, I know);
  • According to Google there are only 31 links into the gWHIZ bl0g (could use more…doh! shameless again);
  • The single biggest day on the gWHIZ blog was  17,479 visits on October 30, 2007;
  • I’ve used 635 tags (half of which are misspellings I can’t seem to delete);
  • And the gWHIZ tag cloud says I’m HEAVY on Apple, Leopard, iPhone, iTunes, MacOSX and WWDC;
  • Surprisingly there have only been 7,572 spam comments (all caught and killed by Akismet);
  • And the all time post “views” leader is sitting at 124,346 views. (over 1/4 of the total traffic) and it’s not that good a post…

Now, I’ve been totally winging this and posting on an “as I can” basis. I’m not a professional journo and 110% sure I don’t want to be. The beautiful thing is… most of the people I enjoy reading aren’t either. They’re either subject matter experts in interesting fields, highly opinionated and interesting on that alone, or they have something unique to offer.

A couple of things learned in the last several months: Pick a handful of topics and work them like mad; Digg and StumbledUpon are super helpful; Tagging is super helpful; Writing often is super helpful; Insightful commenting on other peoples blogs super duper helpful; Trackbacks to other blog entries indispensable; Most of all LINK OUT liberally but with good reason and pure intention; Establishing an alternate FeedBurner feed is super helpful.

To follow up that last point… RSS Feeds… I happen to be of the mind to ALMOST always offer a full rss feed. There have been two exceptions I can think of recently. I highly recommend full-feeds. Once I did that… traffic went ballistic (by my standards).

I also highly recommend as the engine behind your blog. Free with some primo options you can pay for… Very nice. The number of times people have said, “Wow, you stayed up through the big Digg.” Yeah, because I have great infrastructure (for free).

Why this post? Why now? Blogging is gaining in speed, popularity and acceptance. My post earlier this week on helping a local family with some serious needs wasn’t a massive success in traffic count, but it was a help in getting the family some relief and additional attention from people who were in a position to be able to help in big ways. Blogging did that. Sure, the emails I sent out helped. But, they simply linked back to the blog.

This post is for people who don’t yet blog who wonder what they can expect in the way of traffic, participation and how long it will take to build a following. The real answer to all the above is, “It depends.” of course. Look at Fake Steve Jobs blog. That went nutso crazy. It’s unique and super hard to duplicate. There are precious few blogs out there focused on the Apple platforms right? 🙂 So, I’ve found my place by focusing on things others don’t, but things I like. Reviewing high-end software (Daylite, DivX), writing detailed How-To’s, all things Apple Developer Connection (ADC) and live blogging the big events. Podcasting and XServes are really my passion in the middle of all of this and I’ll focus more on that in the coming year.

Godin, “It’s Important To Charge SOMETHING”

January 21, 2008

Apple’s move into online movie rentals is setting right another misconception (this time, one of THEIR own): Online movie rentals are the way to go and pricing models matter. As Seth Godin points out… Free ain’t going to cut it. He posits 99 cents. I dunno about that. Apple’s probably taking it in the shorts badly at that pricepoint. ‘Course having a premium tiering for HD is absolutely right. The model of rent v. buy is going to have a halo effect on BUYING too.

No one’s really glommed onto this little tidbit yet (‘cept maybe those wiley folks at Apple). Imagine all the content we’re going to have less expensive access to in the form of rentals. If Apple will create just one more tier like “Rent now and apply $2 to purchase price of the movie within 60 days”… I bet they’d get a big boost in their movie sales. Frankly, if I rent something from Blockbuster now and like it… I typically buy it. I may be odd guy out on that one. Still, it’s a bit of programming on their part and they’re still net ahead of the game. As it is, when a rental expires… all the cookie crumbs of that transaction evaporate. Seems like wasted energy to me. They could covert a fraction of us to upgraded owners with just a little more effort.

Apple sure doesn’t need our help Monday morning quarterbacking their business models. They’re doing okie dokie without us meddling kids running around. 🙂

The Magnificent Seven: iTunes Rental Experience

January 16, 2008

iTunes Rental

Just rented “The Magnificent Seven” via iTunes. Saw it a LONG time ago. Hmm, description reminds me of Bug’s Life.

Anyway, well within my first 24 hours of the rental and have started watching it as it’s downloading. So far, so good. Will be interested to see if there are any practical limitations. Such as – multiple viewings within the first 24 hours. What happens if I’m not connected to the net once the download is complete? Will it expire as expected? What if I change my laptop’s clock so that it never truly shows 24 hours have elapsed? What if it expires and I set my clock back to the a time the movie was valid?

I’m full of questions and it’s too early for me to answer much of anything. Yet. So, come back in 25 hours and I should have some more details.

Couple things I’ve learned since initial rental:

  • Yul Brynner made for one crappy cowboy. Cool look. Still… definitely a “dude”;
  • There seems to be no practical limit to how many times you can watch the rented video in the allotted time (once the meter begins running);
  • Loading onto the iPhone was as easy as any other movie;
  • The iPhone reminds you how much time remains on the rental;
  • Closed Captioning isn’t “in there” yet but chapters are;
  • I put my iPhone in Airplane mode and set the date ahead one full day. My rental disappeared from list of available. I set the date back and the rented movie didn’t come back. The space it occupied is now freed up.
  • So, if we go by the clock of the device… what happens to the road warriors whose computers get their time from NNTP servers and gets screwed on the rental? Admittedly rare… still, makes me wonder about these things.

More tomorrow.

Well, it’s like the rental never happened. I watched it yesterday. Plopped it on the iPhone (nice and intuitive). And, today, 25 hours later there is no residual image of the rental at all. Nothing that tells me I ever rented it. Seems un-Apple-like.