Posted: 09/06/10 06:00 AM
Today is Labor Day, our country’s only official celebration of the labor movement and the good people who brought us the 40 hour work week.
But these days, with so many technologies that connect us to our colleagues 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it’s common to receive and reply to e-mails from your boss or a client while you are sitting naked in bed.
by Remy Sharp
Author and journalist Maggie Jackson has been writing about the effect of technology on families, relationships and human mind for more than a decade. She tells us how the greatest gift we can give each other today is simply our undivided attention.
Posted: 09/01/10 06:00 AM
iPhone’s all over hearts these days. First, we had the iPhone Heart Monitor app for exercise buffs (sweating optional). Then the news that Apple applied for a patent on technology that could, someday, biometrically link phones to individual heartbeats. And last week, British researcher Peter J. Bentley unveiled a free version of iStethoscope, an app that threatens to turn us all into amateur cardiologists with its fascinating array of robot-like blips and swooshes being emanated by our own tickers.
Or as the London Times put it, “A wonderful instrument called the stethoscope … is now in complete vogue…” In 1824.
by John Moe // Posted: 08/09/10 11:30 AM
Verizon – iPhone rumors are heating up as they seem to do on every day ending with a y. Tech Crunch is reporting that Apple has ordered a huge number of CDMA chip sets from Qualcomm. Qualcomm is the leading supplier of CDMA and Apple has never ordered from them before. CDMA is at the heart of Verizon phones but NOT AT&T phones. Because there is some scarcity of materials for CDMA, the sets would have to be ordered pretty far in advance of when they would be needed. Tech Crunch extrapolates that this points to a January Verizon launch. Meanwhile, AT&T is talking in an SEC filing about what happens when exclusivity deals end.
by John Moe // Posted: 08/09/10 11:13 AM
You knew it was coming, right? The decision by the Library of Congress to allow jailbreaking of iPhones continues to have ramifications. Relatively easy jailbreaking software has been made available and now a program called Frash, that will let you run Flash on the iPhone. It’s apparently still kind of hinky, doesn’t run all Flash, and was kind of shoved out the door before being completely developed but will likely get better with updates. So now we have a situation where instead of being bound to an AT&T iPhone that doesn’t run Flash, you can have a jailbroken phone that does.
by John Moe // Posted: 08/03/10 11:35 AM
In a smart phone world where iPhone and Android are Lennon and McCartney, Blackberry is George Harrison, hanging in the background, the quiet one. (Obviously Palm is Ringo). But it’s been a big week for Blackberry and parent company RIM. First was the impending ban in the UAE, discussed yesterday.
Today, they unveiled the new touch screen Blackberry Torch that they hope will compete with John and Paul. They hope it’s the Blackberry Here Comes The Sun.
Blackberry is also in a curious position given new data released yesterday by Nielsen. Turns out more people are still carrying around Blackberries than either iPhones or Androids but about half of those customers want to move to John or Paul and leave George behind next chance they get.
The same report indicates that more new customers are getting Androids than iPhones.
Kin is Stuart Sutcliffe.
Posted: 07/28/10 06:00 AM
If you bought a hammer, you could go home and pound any nail you want with it. But what if the company that made the hammer said you could only pound nails they approve and that they sold you? What kind of weird hammer is that?
Substitute hammer and nails with iPhone and software. Apple has always had control over what you could do on the iPhone it sold you.
But this week, the Library of Congress ruled that if you own an iPhone, you should be able to run any kind of software that works, not just what Apple says is okay. It’s called jailbreaking your phone. The decision has implications for any smart phone manufacturer but Apple is the most restrictive of what you can and can’t do on the phone they make.
It got us wondering about the whole idea of owning something digital. You could go to a (used) record store and buy Frampton Comes Alive on vinyl. And you would OWN that record, lend it out, use it as a frisbee if you wanted. But if you go to the iTunes store and download that same album, there are a host of restrictions. That’s because you’re not really buying it, you’re just licensing it, agreeing to a set of conditions under which you’re allowed to encounter it.
On today’s show, we explore the Library of Congress decision with veteran librarian and digital library consultant Karen Coyle. We also talk with Anthony Falzone, Executive Director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society.
by John Moe // Posted: 07/23/10 11:23 AM
First it was supposed to be ready for the June launch. Launch comes, no white iPhone. Then it was going to ship in July. Well, July’s here. No white iPhone. Now Apple is saying the white iPhone is delayed until late this year, no specific date given. They say manufacturing it has been “more challenging” than expected.
So let’s recap: Apple can make a revolutionary product that redefines personal technology and contains more computing power IN YOUR HAND than NASA had for the Apollo mission to the moon but they can’t handle the color white. Got it.
Posted: 07/23/10 09:35 AM
If you don’t own a smart phone now, you probably will soon.
Here’s the picture from Wall Street: Nokia, which pretty much makes regular old cell phones, announced a 40 percent drop in revenues Thursday. On the same day, AT&T said they had a huge quarter with lots of new customers for the iPhone activated 3.2 million new iPhones last quarter. Meanwhile, research firm Strategy Analytics says smart phone shipments are up 43 percent worldwide.
Americans are ditching cell phones in favor of devices that can make calls AND check email AND update Facebook AND stream video AND you get the idea. In the process, we’re flooding the data networks these smart phones rely on. It’s lots of fun now, but is it sustainable? Can the networks do what we’re asking of them?
Also in this program, Foxconn says it will raise prices for the technology companies it works with. Foxconn builds popular products for Apple, HP, Dell, and others. We’ve been watching the situation with Foxconn for a while. Here are some links to past coverage:
Suicides in China (May 21)
More suicides at Foxconn (May 28)
Posted: 07/19/10 06:00 AM
If you own an iPhone 4, Apple has a present for you. Starting later this week, you can get a free case for your phone. It’s an offer that Apple hope puts an end to a series of complaints about calls dropping if you touch the antenna. According to Consumer Reports, if you have a case or even just some tape covering the antenna, problem solved. On Friday, Apple head honcho Steve Jobs took to the stage at company headquarters to address this issue. It was an odd announcement. He said that all smart phones with antennae lose signal when touched like this and Apple is not alone. He also claimed that fewer people have used cases for the 4 so it’s a more noticeable problem. But in the end he said the company would provide free cases for everyone who has bought an iPhone 4 and anyone who will buy one between now and September 30.
We talk to Steve Henn from Marketplace about what happened at the event. We also check in with Steven Levy, a veteran technology journalist and senior writer for Wired, about what this means to the future of Apple.
by John Moe // Posted: 07/16/10 01:44 PM
There has been no video of the big Apple announcement today but here’s what it comes down to. Jobs said the issue with the antenna is one that affects all smart phones with antennae. He showed video of similar loss of signal problems affecting Blackberries and Android phones and made a point of emphasizing that no phone is perfect. He then moved on to stats about how few returns and complaints they’ve had about the iPhone 4 and it’s issues.
And then he got into the bumpers. Something like 80% of iPhone 3GS customers had cases on their phones, in part because the case for the 3G will also fit the 3GS. But only 20% of iPhone 4 customers left the store with a case because it had to be a different case for the different shape of the phone. And as we know, the case prevents this problem of dropped calls.
So Jobs said that starting late next week, anyone who has bought an iPhone 4 will be able to get a free case. If you’ve already bought a case, you’ll get a refund on the case you’ve bought. This offer will be available until September 30. I’m still not clear if phones sold after that date will have a hardware correction or what. So that’s the news. We’re talking about it on Monday’s show.
by John Moe // Posted: 07/15/10 11:55 PM
there are reports that Steve Jobs was warned about the iPhone 4’s antenna issues before the phone was released. Meanwhile, Senator Charles Schumer calls on Apple to fix the problem for free (which isn’t a politically opportunist thing to say, like, AT ALL).
by John Moe // Posted: 07/12/10 02:24 PM
Consumer Reports has reviewed the iPhone 4 and the news isn’t good for Apple:
It’s official. Consumer Reports’ engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4, and have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception. When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side—an easy thing, especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.
Posted: 07/07/10 06:00 AM
When you think about it, 4th of July weekend was a great time to pull a heist online. People aren’t on the computer. They’re too busy barbecuing and watching fireworks to notice that someone’s stealing their money. But that’s exactly what happened over the past weekend and even as early as last week. Some customers of Apple’s iPhone app store noticed some odd charges to their accounts recently for apps they never intended to download, some of them were a couple dollars but sometimes up to $100 or more. Meanwhile, in the app store “books” category, some titles you’ve never heard of - all from the same publisher- were suddenly showing up as best sellers. Apple now says it’s identified who was responsible and has kicked them out of the app store. They also advise you check your purchases and change your password.
Joshua Topolsky, editor in chief of the tech site Engadget, brings us up to speed on the story. And John Hering, founder and CEO of the online security company Lookout offers tips on keeping safe online.
by John Moe // Posted: 06/29/10 04:47 PM
Pardon me if I look at this story askance. Ajar. Askew. It has a lot of people buzzing today that AT&T and their, uh, inconsistent coverage areas may not be the only option for iPhone customers in the near future. But the sources are anonymous and, nothing against Bloomberg, it’s kind of hard to see it as anything but a rumor.
That being said, AT&T has had problems, Verizon and Apple could do a lot more business if this comes to pass, and it really does make sense for everyone except AT&T (who maybe wouldn’t mind carrying less weight on their networks).
So I can’t get excited about the story as absolute fact (just as with many similar stories I’ve seen) but that doesn’t mean I doubt it.
by John Moe // Posted: 06/29/10 11:23 AM
by John Moe // Posted: 06/28/10 05:14 PM
And you know what? You’ll do it too. You do whatever we ask. Buy an iPad? Buy a phone that drops your calls? You’ll do it. We own you. Now cry. CRY. Fine fine, here’s a video to help you along.
(Seriously, Apple. Nice commercial. Especially great to show off the ASL capabilities.)
by John Moe // Posted: 06/28/10 11:13 AM
Amazon is introducing a new version of the Kindle app for iPhone and iPad that allows for video or audio to embedded in a book. This functionality is not available on the Kindle because it’s just not built to do that (or display color, for that matter). There aren’t many titles available yet that have these embeds – in Rick Steves’ London, the author gives a walking tour of London – but if this is going to be a popular component of the ebook of the future, Amazon will have to either reengineer the Kindle or become an app maker for Apple devices.
by John Moe // Posted: 06/28/10 11:11 AM
That’s a lot of iPhones. Preorders made for about 600,000 of those so 1.1 million were new sales over the weekend, so people either buying online or going in to the store to get one. A year ago, Apple sold 1 million of the iPhone 3GS in the first weekend, a year before that it was 1 million of the 3G. This sales figure is obviously a big one but it’s especially interesting in light of all the trouble with crashing web sites, unexpectedly canceled orders, inventory problems, and numerous accounts of phone calls dropping when you touch the antenna.
CNET reports that the problem with the dropped calls may not actually be with the hardware of the antennae but software related. They say Apple may issue a patch very soon.
Also, Steve Jobs says there is no reception issue. He added that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.
by John Moe // Posted: 06/25/10 10:59 AM
So the new iPhone shows up in stores, people buy it by the zillions, we know this. But as we reported yesterday, there’s a bit of a problem when you touch the new 3-way antenna. Calls get dropped. It’s a kind of huge design flaw, seeing as how if a right handed person holds the phone, that’s where there hand naturally goes. Steve Jobs’ email address is pretty well known and sometimes he personally responds to customer emails. One person wrote in to point out this antenna problem and Jobs responded “Just avoid holding it that way.”
That’s what he said.
This is a real thing that happened.
The problem can be mitigated by using a case on the phone but still. Wow.
Oh, also the back is made of glass and it turns out glass breaks. Once had a phone and it was a gas, soon turned out had a back of glass.
by John Moe // Posted: 06/15/10 11:06 AM
This according to China Daily. Those that stay behind to work on iPhones (presumably the iPhone 4 for the most part although 3GS production will continue) will be paid higher wages. Other products will be made at other Foxconn facilities in outlying areas of China where the workers will be paid unspecified, presumably lower, wages. Foxconn has been announcing higher wages for a while, making one wonder how they would pay for hikes of 20, 30, sometimes 60 percent and still stay in business while keeping costs low enough to keep their contracts with American manufacturers. It makes you wonder about what kind of volume they’re expecting from iPhone sales and how central that one device is to their operation and, by extension, the future of consumer electronics. The Shenzhen plant is, of course, where a rash of suicides hit in recent months although you don’t tend to hear about as many there anymore.
by John Moe // Posted: 06/14/10 11:13 AM
The vuvuzela, the horrible noise emitting device that ruins the World Cup and pushes regular humans to the brink of insanity, is now available in convenient app form so you can ruin the lives of everyone around you without having to fly to South Africa. YAY TECHNOLOGY. Unlike the years of counseling you’ll require from spending time around one, it’s free.
Posted: 06/08/10 03:23 PM
Glenn Fleishman, author of this post, joined us on today’s show to talk about Apple’s new iPhone. Glenn’s a freelance journalist who specializes in Apple coverage and coverage of Wi-Fi issues.
Steve Jobs is known for being cool but not necessary keeping his cool. At the company’s announcement of the iPhone 4 at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), he looked a little steamed when demonstrations of the new phone’s higher-density, more realistic display failed when he was unable to load Web pages over Wi-Fi. He asked reporters and conference attendees to turn off their gear to clear the radio frequency (RF) environment enough to make Wi-Fi work.
Was that a failure of the iPhone 4 to work over Wi-Fi, or a failure of Wi-Fi to be robust enough to handle a room of thousands of people? It might be what you think if you read much of the reporting about this network failure.
But that’s not quite what happened. There wasn’t one or two Wi-Fi networks running at the Moscone conference center, but several hundred, all beating each other up. According to InfoWorld’s consultation with an Apple engineer at the event, over 500 networks were in operation at the same time.
How was this possible? Because so many people—likely a huge percentage of press attendees—were carrying cellular routers, like the MiFi. The MiFi picks up a 3G data signal and relies it over Wi-Fi, acting just like a Wi-Fi router. Some people were instead using a 3G modem plugging into a laptop, and using an easily accessible Mac OS X (or, gasp, Windows) feature to share the 3G connection via the laptop’s Wi-Fi card.
There are Wi-Fi networks that have tens of thousands of simultaneous users spread over thousands of routers over a corporate or academic campus. Wi-Fi can handle that. And there are plenty of events at which the host creates a temporary Wi-Fi network with many interconnected routers that can handle hundreds to thousands of devices at once. The Macworld Expo is a notable case: the last time I attended, thousands of iPhones and laptops worked just fine over a unified, well-managed Wi-Fi network that spanned the conference area.
Apple apparently did offer a public Wi-Fi network at the WWDC launch, according to media and attendees I’ve polled. And those who tried it said that network did work initially. But with so much media in the audience, and the history of conference/event Wi-Fi networks having glitches at peak times—with many people liveblogging and uploading photos from the event—those who had MiFis chose to use those instead.
Wi-Fi can cope with a lot of so-called interference, but the protocol wasn’t designed to handle hundreds of overlapping networks in a small space. (Interference is really the limits of a radio to distinguish signals out of noise, not a physical property of radio waves.)
With so many networks in operation, every Wi-Fi device (notably Steve’s demo iPhone 4) try to be polite. If you’re in a crowded room, and hundreds of people are talking at once, no one can be understood. People stop talking and try to listen, but with so many people, it’s unlikely you could actually get enough quiet to make a clear statement. That’s precisely what happens with Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi relies on the commons: a pool of unlicensed spectrum anyone can use. And individual device must respect the commons, producing no unnecessary interference and accepting as much interference as is generated by other devices.
The metaphor of the commons breaks down in wireless, because one person’s use of it can be invisible, except for interference from other people’s use. That is, imagine a commons of grass for feeding your cows in which you always appear to be alone on the commons with your animals—but as you stand there, the grass disappears, replaced with mud and ordure.
It’s not Novatel Wireless’s fault; they make the MiFi, and it’s a perfectly appropriate device to offer. The problem of this invisible, overlapping commons being fouled is an emergent property. The less people can trust a common shared network, the more they turn to their own, which then, in a vicious cycle, destroys their own network, too.
by John Moe // Posted: 06/08/10 11:44 AM
That’s what I tweeted yesterday on news that the TurboMegaGigantopopular game Farmville is coming to the iPhone. “We want to destroy the last shred of productivity Americans can manage and rip families apart,” the president of Farmville said but not really. Today, Larissa pointed out this article where Dr Dominic Micklewright, from the University of Essex compared the health of gamers to athletes. The gamers have the reaction time of a fighter jet pilot, but the lung function of a 60-year old smoker.
by John Moe // Posted: 06/08/10 11:27 AM
I’ve been interested in the idea of video phones for a long time. It’s thought of as this thing that only exists on The Jetsons and in the distant future. Jobs even mentioned The Jetsons in the speech yesterday. Jobs also talked about how this feature will change the world as we know it or some such hyperbole. But video phones have been around for DECADES.
The Wikipedia page on them lists the first practical working one being built in 1936 (there are imaginings of them dating back to the 1880s). And various iterations have been built over the decades since and they pretty much all bomb.
Is it because the product is lousy/clunky/expensive? Or do people simply not want to make phone calls while they look at other people? If they did, why doesn’t anyone use the iChat feature on their Macs? For that matter, why didn’t Apple call this iChat for iPhone? It’s not like they’re afraid to use that lower case i. Anyway, here’s Business Insider explaining why Jobs is right and this will revolutionize everything. I’m dubious.
by John Moe // Posted: 06/08/10 11:20 AM
You may have heard a bit about the new iPhone yesterday, considering the news replaced oxygen as the most common thing in the air. Ars Technica has a good run down.
A few surprises I had yesterday:
Where were the computers? - As near as I can figure, Apple still does make home computers. I bought one recently myself. But they weren’t mentioned at all yesterday. No new laptops, no updates to MacBook Air as rumored. Even the iPod got a mention in passing.
Google remains the default browser, Bing also brought on – Apple is going to play this as giving the user the most options, and that’s a fair point. But Apple is very much at war with Google and its increasingly popular Android mobile device platform right now. Jobs praised Bing and Microsoft but did not kick Google off the iPhone or even move it out of number one position. As a result, a handful of MSFT loyalists may switch settings but it’s mostly a Google experience.
Nothing on home entertainment – I get that it was iPhone’s day but I was wondering if we’d hear about a cloud-based iTunes option or a rebrand/relaunch of Apple TV. Nope.
Netflix and the data plans – Jobs announced a free Netflix app (Android’s getting one soon too) which means tons of streaming movies and TV on your iPhone. This is interesting in light of AT&T’s new restricted data plans. You do a lot of Netflixing, that low use plan doesn’t seem to cover you quite as well. Follow the money, my friends. Follow the money.
Posted: 05/26/10 06:00 AM
Walmart’s slogan is “Low prices are just the beginning”. That phrase can be applied to the process of figuring out if their offer of an iPhone 3GS for $97 is a bargain or not. Sure, it’s a low price, over a hundred dollars less than what Apple charges for the phone, but that’s just the beginning. You’re also entering into a two-year contract with AT&T because that is the only carrier that supports the iPhone. Essentially, you’re placing a bet that this phone and this carrier will be the right choice for the next two years of your life.
Thing is, Apple is just about to announce a new iPhone with a forward facing camera for video conferencing, a better screen, and some other improvements we don’t even know about yet. And AT&T might not be the exclusive carrier forever as rumors persist about Verizon and other companies maybe getting into the mix.
Also, we hear about a simple add-on to your Firefox browser that will remove teen heartthrob Justin Bieber from your online experience.