Friday, 20 August 2010

Restored: No Longer an iPad and iPod Touch Owner

Somewhere around 2004, I remember writing a post [1] about how I saw the need for more ‘internet-enabled’ applications. Essentially – software applications native to a desktop or laptop computer that sends and receives internet-based data. A simple example of this in the Mac world is, or Adium, or Tweetie.

At the time I wrote the post, the wins seemed obvious to me;

  • local storage keeps information available even without an internet connection
  • local computing performance is always faster than server-based computing + network latency
  • a local application conserves bandwidth by transferring fewer and smaller assets, rather than entire web pages.

Still today, my workflow primarily consists of interactions with applications that live natively on my MacBook Pro and interact with assets on some server;, Adium, TextMate, Sequel Pro, Quicksilver, Calibre, Skype. Web browsers are where I check things, confirm things, identify things. It’s not where I live and work.

So, I was a little surprised when I realized I rarely use any of the more than 2 dozen applications I’ve downloaded for the iPod Touch and iPad. And given a few quiet, idle moments the ones I had any interest in re-opening had some issue – Netflix asked for a password I didn’t have, iBooks nor Kindle had the book I wanted to read, and Music didn’t sync the songs I wanted, and Movies/Video didn’t sync over any video I was in the mood for. In the end I opened up the web browser.

This realization reinforced a sense of stuck and suck I’ve increasingly had with the iPod Touch, iPad, and Apple’s management of their iOS platform.

In that moment, I aborted my ongoing experiments with the iPad and decided to sell it. A sale I completed today.

As I was restoring the iPad to sell, I did the same review of the iPod Touch – noticing the bulk of my satisfying interactions were via its browser – I clicked ‘Restore’ [2].

Yes, this means I am currently sans portable digital media player, address book, calendar, etc [3].

I’ve taken a cursory look around for a new mp3 player – and the Sony Walkmans sound quite promising. Also, the more I investigate, the more the Nokia N900 seems like a really solid all-around device – even comes with Skype pre-installed. Though Nokia’s Ovi app market isn’t as mature as Apple’s App Store or the Android Market – I think I’ll be OK – the default browser is Firefox Mobile.

Add in something like a PogoPlug or TonidoPlug at the home base and the VirginMobile MiFi in my pocket and I’ll have browser-based access to my files and media.

No syncing. No apps. No missing something.

And no longer feeling restricted to Apple’s iOS universe – I feel restored.

Update 21 August 2010.
The most likely iTunes-replacement: Instinctiv. Super minimalist. Reads the pre-existing iTunes library. I love it. And that was before I noticed it’s in the Nokia Ovi store.


“My app library–littered with exactly 87 apps I used once and never touched again–now reminds me of a graveyard of defunct company logos from the dot com boom.” – Aaron Shapiro

1. I haven’t been able to find it in any of my archives or in Google – it may be lost to history.
2. It’s now syncing against Jen’s iTunes.
3. It also means I’m reviewing both Songbird and DoubleTwist as a replacement for iTunes.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

For the Future of Radio – Tune to 802.11

Yesterday, at the Village gym, tired of my normal workout playlist, I brought up JungleTrain on the iPod Touch.

My favorite, niche internet radio station, streaming from somewhere in Europe, picked up by a device in my pocket, on a random treadmill in Minnesota.

Exactly the audio I was looking for. No ads, no data charge. Just the price of the gym membership.

This is another reason1 why the iPod Touch is more of a game changer to me than the iPhone.

Strangely, the latest iPod Nano and Zune ship with broadcast radio receivers (FM and HD respectively).

Elsewhere in radio land, SiriusXM is trading at $0.55/share and has until March 2010 to trade above $1 or be delisted off the NASDAQ

1. Earlier this year I mentioned how the iPod Touch made re-think my mobile phone service. Both of these experiences are rolled into the larger idea that:

“if I’m not within a wifi network, I’m probably driving or otherwise not able to talk.”


Thursday, 26 February 2009

iPod Touch 2nd Generation 16GB: First Impressions

A couple weeks back, I picked up a 2nd Generation Apple iPod Touch – partially so I could start playing with web apps for it and partially cause my much beloved 3rd Gen 40gig iPod is starting to flake out.

I’ve been primarily for programming-related movies (PeepCode, SDRuby, and Pragmatic Programers), a calendar & address book, and some ongoing mobile experiments.

Compared to a Palm device, the iPod Touch is a far better experience. No question. As a music player compared against my iPod Nano or 40gig – it’s a miserable failure – especially in the car. Even as a video player it’s awkward if only because video and audio are treated differently in terms of navigation and rating.

The ‘slide to unlock’ gesture is the most elegant, convenient way to wake a device up – far better than the 2 key combo sequence phones require.

I was surprised to see the iPod Touch doesn’t have a camera. I fully expected it to. The omission makes me think the iPhone is far more heavily subsidized by AT&T than I originally calculated.

I’ve added a only a small handful of free apps from the App Store, and deleted all but 3 of them; Alocola, Fring, and WordPress (which may be deleted shortly.)

The apps the iPod ships with fared about as well, but I can’t delete them easily, which makes me grumbly.

Mail is nearly worthless for anything more than 1 (, non-Google) account, because there’s no rolled-up aggregate view of mail and it relies on server-side spam filtering.

Calendar is such a nice app. Good monthly and list views, easy to move events around and update their information. This is best calendar I’ve worked with.

Maps – Google Maps itself is an amazing piece of technology, then wrapped into tiny, tiny, highly-mobile Apple computer – astounding. There are a couple oddities I’ve found though; when I ‘drop pin’, ‘edit bookmark’ is the action for changing the name of the pin’s location (shouldn’t it be ‘edit pin’ or ‘edit location’) also, I haven’t figured out how to access my list of pins/bookmarks. Any idea?

Stocks, YouTube, Music, Clock, iTunes Music Store, Mail, and Settings have all been relegated to a secondary app screen, cause that’s most effective way to hide them.

Overall, I’m ‘eh’ on the device. It still has what I consider the iPod’s fatal flaw – required tethering to iTunes (my phone can update wirelessly from across the room, why do the iPod need to be plugged in?) and I’m not sure what – aside from basic PDA and media playback – I’d want applications on the device to do.

So, the numbers in the AppStore Secrets report from PinchMedia don’t surprise me (punch line: apps have ~30 day lifespan).

Monday, 29 December 2008

The New Apple Product Dilemma

Apple’s been great about keeping their product offerings simple and straight forward. Historically, the biggest question when deciding on which Apple computer to purchase was:

Do I want the power & storage of a desktop or the portability of a laptop?

Even today, the prices between a 2.4GHz iMac and a similarly spec’d 2.0GHz Mac Book differ by only $125 ($1274 vs $1399 respectively).

At that price difference portability easily wins over processor speed.

Today, the same dilemma exists between the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

Do I want the power & storage of the iPod Touch or the persistent connection of the iPhone?

16GB iPhone: $1979.751
16GB iPod Touch: $299

Wow. I didn’t expect that.

Since I’m not excited about being an AT&T customer again and am good with WiFi as my network – I guess it’s not really a dilemma. Huh.


1. $299 + (($30 AT&T iPhone data plan + $39.99 AT&T 450 min/mn voice plan) * 24 month contract).

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Save for Later Because

I think albums of music and podcasts are very similar and I see both them very different from radio. Unlike Dave, I don’t want my podcasts automatically deleted, I would like the ‘Save’ or ‘Delete’ option just as I do on Tivo.

The iPod/iTunes assumes everything is precious (it’s not), automatically deleting assumes nothing is valuable (it is). Both assume a scarcity. Either a scarcity of storage space or a scarcity of access. 10 minutes from now, we’ll have neither. Any podcast I’ve downloaded over the past 3 year is more than likely in 1 of 2 places: my iTunes library or the Internet. Somewhere.

The scarcity we need to solve is context – a way to gesture why I saved something and kept it close.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Which Car Should I Buy?

Repairs on the ’98 Neon are approaching it’s value and I can’t rely on it the way I was once able to. It’s been a great car, but I can see the day when it won’t serve us anymore. With that in mind, I’m starting the search for a new vehicle to replace it.

From exploring the car sites, their aren’t many cars that seem like a worthwhile replacement. So, I’m in no hurry and happy to wait until the right car comes along – even if that means another 75k on the Neon.

Things I Care About – in Order

  1. Distinctive exterior.
    Something that demands a love it or hate it reaction. A beige Toyota Camry – um no. I think you need to go to extreme sizes for this – super big or super small. I’m going super small.
  2. Gas mileage greater than 30mpg city.
  3. I can fit comfortably and can see out the windshield.
    In many cars – convertibles, those with sunroofs, anything from Jeep –
  4. Easy to get a car seat in and out of backseat.
    Yes, as of next year, we’ll be back to the bucket car seat.
  5. Reliability
    It’s not uncommon for my car to sit un-driven outside for a week or two in the depth of winter or height of summer. I don’t care. I expect it to start when I turn the key.
  6. Minijack & iPod connectivity
    I actually prefer to not having AM/FM/CD/Satellite capabilities.
  7. Bluetooth phone connectivity.
    Having the phone integrated into the car’s audio system sounds very convenient.
  8. Carbon neutrality.
    Not just the usage, but I’d like the carbon imprint of manufacturing and delivery offset as well.
  9. I could fit a bicycle inside.
    Outside of my laptop gear, and a car seat, a bike is the most likely other thing I’ll be hauling.
  10. In 15 years a new driver might want to drive it.
    Barring a dramatic change fuel infrastructure, the idea of keeping a car that long for the kid to practice driving with is pretty attractive to me.
  11. Built-in garage door opener
    Again, a nice convenience. Makes it far more likely I’ll put the car in the garage.
  12. The fuel it runs on.
    Today, alternative fuels are at the point where using less regular unleaded gas is still more effective.

Things I Don’t Care About – in Order

  1. Color
  2. Engine size
  3. Upholstry and floor mats
  4. Chrome and trim
  5. Wheel sizes and locks
  6. Transmission type

All the ‘build your car’ sites care more about the second list than the first.

Cars I’ve been looking at thus far – Ordered by interest

  1. Scion xD
    Looks like a direct response to the Fit, but with better AV options.
  2. VW Rabbit TDI
    In the comments, Nathan suggested I look into it, so far, I like what I see.
  3. Honda Fit
    I sat in a Fit earlier this week, it feels pretty comfortable. I can see out the windows and the put the seat almost exactly where I want it.
  4. Toyota Yaris Sedan
  5. Nissan Versa
  6. Honda Civic
    It’s a good reliable, reputable car. That doesn’t feel as comfortable as the Fit.
  7. Honda Civic Hybrid
    Trading mileage for trunk space.
  8. Mazda 3 5-Door
    It’s been a very long time since I’ve looked at Ford. Kinda surprised this one is here.
  9. Toyota Prius
    It’s got the distinctive look and the tech gear, but seems kinda boring otherwise.
  10. Cooper Mini
    Trading the inconvenience of a 2-door for still being really cool in 15 years.

Am I missing something from this list?

Note to Chrysler: Despite my long history of Chrysler vehicles and that I feel more comfortable buying a Chrysler than a Ford or GM, you don’t have anything interesting that I haven’t already purchased.

Andy Atkinson is also in the market for a new ride, and ran the insurance and mileage numbers for his candidates.

Update 1 Sept 2010
So, I bought a Dodge Grand Caravan

Wednesday, 5 October 2005