Windows 7, Palm Pre, Apple iPhone, and the Nokia E71

3 02 2009

Just some commentary on these 4 tech hot topics.

Windows 7: It’s alright and if you had problems getting your video cards recognized with Microsoft Windows Vista, you’re back on square one with the number. Now if you got an older monitor, it is most likely a 4:3 screen (resolutions – 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768), you’re not going to see stretching or black vertical borders on the sides. However, since your graphics card can’t really be used, you’ll see slower performance compared to XP. You might run into compatibility issues with antivirus software. Another downer.. the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) you downloaded expires in August 2009.

My recommendation is as many have said – use it only for testing. Actually if you have a newer system, create a partition on your drive or get a 2nd HDD and install W7. The Aero visuals are stunning and runs smooth compared to the much despised Vista but for older machines, you should either go with Ubuntu or Windows XP.

Palm Pre: Put in the limelight at the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last month, this is Palm’s last ditched attempt to save itself from oblivion. The UI (user interface) is pretty and appears to have been influenced by Apple’s iPhone OS which would make this an obvious hit other than the ugly keyboard slide-out. The old Garnet 5.4 OS has been kicked to the curb in favor of a new inhouse developed linux-based flashy webOS. Palm’s promising GPS, a 320×480 pixel screen, 3MP camera, 600MHz processor, 8GB internal memory, and a host of other standard features. An innovative feature of using cloud computing technology lets you sync your stuff with an online server instead of your computer. Well, you don’t really have a choice in this case.

What really kills this for me are … the ugly keyboard, the battery life for a cellular device at that size and that powerful of a processor with the features given is going to suck, no expandable memory which means no microSD card slots, doubts about security, and the tanking economy (duh!) I do understand that the Palm Pre isn’t out for sale yet but if they don’t produce a GSM version (AT&T and T-Mobile), regardless of their partnership with Sprint (CDMA), it’s a definite no go for me.

I guess we’ll have to sit back and see what’s remaining after Apple strips Palm out of a lot of their UI features on the Palm Pre.

Apple iPhone: What else to say other than this is the industry gold standard that every UI designer is aiming to emulate. Other than it being cool and possessing easy to use menus, there are a lot of limitations. Some being the lack of multi-tasking capabilities, “real” internet on the webkit-based Safari browser (YES, they lied in those ads), replaceable battery, external storage, and other smaller concerns. But the whole package despite those shortcomings is tightly integrated and holds mass appeal.

My take on this is, … pretty … cool … not the phone for me. Oh and the battery life sucks on this thing. I have the new 2nd Generation 16GB iPod Touch which sports a faster processor than the iPhone 3G but has better battery life. Unfortunately for the iPhone, it’s battery life is significantly worse than the Touch.

*drum roll*

Nokia E71: Just got this last week and boy is it a beauty. The design is compact yet has a bright generous screen. The audio is loud and crisp. GPS. Multitasking. Stainless-steel back. Giant 1500mA battery. This is a significant improvement from the older Nokia E61, which more than held it’s own back when it originally debuted in 2006. I’ll be posting more about this next week. 😉

(L to R above) Apple iPod Touch 2nd Gen . Nokia E71 . Nokia E61

Also, NewEgg‘s having a super sale for the E71 at a super low price of $299 with a free Motorola Bluetooth headset and topped with FREE SHIPPING!
Here’s the coupon: EMCABCHBJ





Free Music from Cloud Cult

12 01 2009

Well whadya know. If you haven’t already heard, the folksy/blue-grass/Irish song playing in the latest Esurance animated ads is actually by a band named Sugar Cloud Cult, based right here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their Wiki entry shows them as an “experimental indie rock band” but sounds more folk to me. If you’re into that stuff, feel free to go to Esurance’s music download page. This page appears to be seasonal so don’t expect the tunes to hang around forever.

Tracks available for FREE download from the above listed page:

  1. Lucky Today
  2. Journey of the Featherless
  3. Everybody Here is a Cloud

The animation is pretty whacky and weird but here you go:





Clueless Microsoft and Windows 7

9 01 2009

Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 … everybody’s been talking about Windows 7 ever since Vista was unveiled and now that we have a pure unadulterated fully functioning officially stamped version out, it’s NOT even available.

They say “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings!” and sing she did. Well this would be in reference to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer making a big ballyhoo about the official beta release of Microsoft over at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Vegas.

Most of the reviews on MSW7 are indeed positive but how can the masses get a taste of it if the frigging server‘s down?

“Thanks for your interest in the Windows 7 Beta. The volume has been phenomenal — we’re in the process of adding more servers to handle the demand. We’re sorry for the delay and we’ll re-post the Beta as soon as we can ensure a quality download experience.”

The sensible thing for them to do is to host Windows 7 Beta (Build 7000) as a torrent lessening the impact on their servers. Eventually, Microsoft could just limit the bandwidth on their servers making the other users handle the majority of the load. Now we’re stuck guessing which one of the available torrents are the official build and not one of those malware infested ISO files. Maybe I should stop complaining because this was made free to the public but what’s a free product if the execution isn’t done right.

EDIT 2009-01-12: The servers aren’t shut down anymore and Win7 looks meh. Better than Vista … for now.





LCD Monitors? NewEgg > BestBuy

28 11 2008

Went to the local BestBuy store by Rosedale Mall to grab a few items including an Acer 19″ LCD – X191 but by the time we got there at 6am, it was long gone. It was long gone after the 5th nerd joined the line at 6pm the previous day. But as luck would have it, there was an Acer 19″ LCD for $169 and one next to it for $179. The only problem was, the monitor-in-box was located between the two price tags.

Took the monitor to a BBuy clerk to run a price check and after he matched the model and SKU #, he advised that we were looking at the more expensive $179 model (Acer X193Wb) which retailed at $239. Fair enough. Along the way to the cashier, I picked up the latest Guns N’ Roses album – Chinese Democracy – on sale a few bucks less ($11.99), only found at BestBuys nationwide, and after 15 years of waiting. All was fine until the cashier lady punched in the items.

I immediately noticed the amount on the POS (Point of Sale) machine screen for the X193Wb was displaying $239. TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY BUCKS??? I had the cashier run a price check through an extremely rude sales associate. It seemed like she took forever to return and when she did, she was virtually yelling at me saying that I had the wrong LCD model and the one going for $179 was out of stock.

How could this be? I remember matching the SKU and model # with the BBuy clerk previously on the computer screen personally at the store location to make sure we had the right model and now I was being rudely told to dole out the full retail value for a product on sale? I had had it with that retarded sales associate. Told her I wasn’t going to get ripped off by BestBuy and promptly purchased my CD and left. Point to note is that the cashier lady was very kind and caring in stark contrast.

Went for a coffee break at a Brueggers and checked the prices on my phone. The X193Wb was shown at $179 on numerous Black Friday websites for Best Buy. Then saw that NewEgg had the same monitor for … $99 with the deal expiring on Sunday the 30th. I’ve bought a lot of stuff from them in the past and they’re quick to ship.

We all know what happens next. So if you’re in for a decent LCD monitor for your computer, grab one at NewEgg soon. They’re ending on November 30 but on limited stock.





Free iPod through your bank

15 11 2008

Free iPod deal. Sometime last week, I received a letter from my bank Wells Fargo in the mail. Seemed like the regular “SIGN UP FOR A FREE CAMERA” thing they sometimes send out. Only this time, it said a free Apple iPod Shuffle. Nothing extraordinary but could be worth picking up since it’s FREE. Didn’t think much about it until a buddy at work had one just like that, only his was through Bank of America. He found the iPod in the middle row on the scratch card.

Found the iPod in the middle row on my scratch-off card also. You get 30 days to use the service (AutoVantage – similar to AAA Roadside Service) for free and you want to cancel before then, unless you’re up for shelling out $16/mo thereafter. The Shuffle will be mailed out 3-5 weeks after processing the application. Oh and remember to include the scratch-off card and the sheet holding your signature in the prepaid envelope before mailing em out. Keeping my fingers crossed.

EDIT (12/26/2008): This is so not worth the hassle. You send in a request to sign-up along with a free iPod card. Then you wait for 2 weeks and they mail you a membership confirmation packet complete with your ID card and some coupons and booklets. Then you have to mail out another free iPod card to confirm included in the packet you received from them. This is estimated to take 6-8 weeks to process and the whole time, you are expected to be a member of AutoVantage. Also be advised that the iPods are subject to availability. To top it off, it’s just a cheapo iPod Shuffle 1GB.





Macbook + Free iPod Touch v New Macbook (the real deal)

28 08 2008

Alright. This is the actual post about the Macbook. So Apple is having their annual “Back to School” special which ties anyone with a school email address to purchase Macbooks at a discount and receive a free iPod. The free iPod deal also encompasses the flashy iPod Touch (only the $299 8GB version) and is done through a worry free efficient rebate system from Apple.

This is also about the time for me to upgrade my laptop from an ungainly old P4 2.7GHz Windows system to a Core 2 Duo MacBook running the latest Mac OS X Leopard which would make sense because I need a new MP3 player, namely the fancy iPod Touch. After going to the Mac store with my old college email address (which still works 🙂 ) and configuring a nice setup for $1700, I realized something.

TO MAC OR NOT TO MAC!

The deal has it’s cons. It’s only valid till September 15th and there’s rumors that there’s going to be a completely redesigned MacBook this time around. There are other stories circulating the interwebs about an all-aluminum metal enclosure instead of the cheap white plastic (or black) highly popular MacBook. It’s also going to feature a multi-touch touchpad similar to the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. That and the iPod Touch will be redesigned and that all these changes are to be set in SEPTEMBER. It’s the 28th today and in a month, my new MacBook and iTouch will look outdated.

The downside to waiting for a new MacBook (if it comes true) is that I’m going to miss out on a free iPod deal and what if Apple jacks up the price? That and the wireless components on a metal encasing will suffer in terms of performance just like the MacBook Pro. After consulting with some Mac-philes today, I’ve decided to embrace the old saying “patience is virtue” and keeping my fingers crossed.

PS: The weirdest thing is the day I started looking for a MacBook and noticed the free iPod deal, it was posted on the popular consumer-advocacy website Consumerist.com.





Downloading MP3s for FREE the legal way or so it seems to appear!

23 05 2008

With the crackdown of the RIAA on music lovers all over, I have come to grow distant from music in recent years. Not even the discovery of the magical Guitar Hero on video game consoles or more recently, David Cook winning American Idol can change me. It’s hard to imagine that at one point in my life, I was a huge music fan plunking hundreds every year for CDs and fattening the wallets of the big people in the recording industry. No more. The RIAA’s actions on their customers or future-customers has resulted in a backlash and now more than ever, fans are resorting to obtaining copies of their favorite songs by any means.

Here’s one way… the online way. You’re not going to have to use P2P sharing software like Kazaa or Limewire. Just the plain old way – websites and in this case, the MySpace pages of your favorite bands. When you right-click on the name of your band in the black box section, you will get the option shown below.

Now if you don’t get that option, you might want to follow my guide in this previous post and then come back here. So anyways, your file is downloading and when it’s completed, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Oh and make sure you only download songs you legally own. For example, I already own several Iron Maiden CD albums which have “Two Minutes To Midnight” so this should be legal for me.

The “video” you downloaded actually ends up getting stored as a MP3 file. Yes, MP3. On Windows XP machines, the file should typically be stored in C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents\My Videos\RealPlayer Downloads

or My Documents > My Videos > RealPlayer Downloads if that’s easier to read.

The quality will depend on the uploaded file to the MySpace account by the person who set it up but they should all be at a rather low bitrate of 96kbps @ 22kHz. It’s definitely not CD quality but it should sound decent for the unsophisticated listener and it’s FREE. Let me know your thoughts.

EDIT: Doesn’t work all the time. 😦