Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

Using iOS Devices with Wired-Only Hotel Internet

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
I got a call from my brother saying he had searched everywhere and was unable to find instructions on how to use his iPad in his Hotel room when he goes overseas. The WiFi was too expensive, but there is a wired connection in the room that is free. It caught me off guard since all the tech people I hang out with would have know the answer instantly. For those that don’t…Take a small wireless router with you. The Apple Airport Express is small, but you can also get standard consumer brands cheaper. Simply treat the hotel Ethernet jack as the internet and plug it into the WAN/Internet port of the router. Now you have your own private wireless.

Skype for iPhone Enables 3G Calls (& a fee)

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

The free Skype for iPhone (app store) was updated this week to version 2.0.0. Listed as new features are improved start-up time, faster access to the dial pad, enhanced call quality indicator and near CD quality for Skype-to-Skype calls. Oh yeah, and Skype over 3G. This feature has been on everyone’s wish-list since AT&T announced last October that it had “taken the steps necessary so that Apple can enable VoIP applications on iPhone to run on AT&T’s wireless network”. I thought it would be great, but it seems there is a new catch…. starting later this year, it will cost you a “small monthly fee”.

Skype is the popular VoIP software that has always allowed free video, IM, and Skype-to-Skype calls. Calling a standard landline, or mobile numbers, required you to purchase Skype Credits. It appears that is changing. Posts at 9to5 MacMacRumors and Mashable related to this update state that Skype-to-Skype calls over 3G are free through August 2010, but the Skype page in iTunes says “Skype-to-Skype calls on 3G are free until the end of 2010, after which there will be a small monthly fee (operator charges for data will still apply)”. I am not sure which is accurate, but a fee is coming.

I am not going to try and suggest that they can’t, or shouldn’t, charge for using their service, since of course they can. In fact, it would be easy to justify charging for Skype. It is very popular in the tech industry, and podcast world, and it is a great product. My question is, why only for 3G calls?. Is it simply a business decision on their end, or are the wireless providers involved?

Why should it matter to Skype where my bandwidth is coming from? It should not. If I am on DSL or Cable I can make Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls for free, but on the unlimited 3G data plan – I am forced into buying – I have to pay more? If Skype charged a monthly fee for their service, regardless of the connection method, that would actually make more sense. Charging only for 3G access seems like an AT&T charge. I might as well just use my cell minutes. OK, long distance may still come out cheaper on Skype, but the bigger issue is that this will change the image of Skype. Gone is the simple statement “Skype-to-Skype calls are free”. Adding the small italic text “*except over 3G where a small monthly fee is required” kind of kills the flow.

Before someone mentions that Skype is a business, and is free to charge for new features, I know that. Businesses are supposed to try and make profit, and I don’t mean to suggest otherwise. I don’t see opening a bandwidth option as a new feature. I see it as lifting a carrier mandated restriction, or removing a crippling feature. The other argument I have seen in various forums is that Skype needs to charge to finance their app development. A monthly charge was simply a bad business decision. There were options available to Skype to monetize app development that are more customer friendly than a recurring charge. What they have really done is create incentive to wait and use Skype on a different connection. That is not smart.

How could Skype better monetize the iPhone market? Simple. They could have implemented in-app purchases of Skype Credit. They could have even charged a small fee for the app itself. For me, I will simply wait until I am in front of my computer before I use Skype. The app is off my iPhone.

Fastmac’s U-Socket: USB & AC All In One Wall Plate

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

There have been more than a few times when I tried to find a USB power adaptor. I always have a cable for the iPhone, but often don’y have the power adaptor with me. Now we have the U-Socket from Fastmac. It’s a standard dual socket wall outlet, with 2 integrated USB ports! I could see adding these to any office, bedroom, or kitchen. The manufacturer’s site states:

This item is currently waiting on final UL Approval. It is scheduled to begin shipping in the first quarter of 2010.

The normal price shows as $29.95, with a pre-order price of $19.95. I am not sure it’s worth it, but the convenience would be great.

Did The McGraw-Hill CEO Steal The Apple Tablet Thunder? – Updated

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Listen to this CNBC interview with the McGraw-Hill CEO. At around 2:50 in he confirms the Apple Table, along with the fact that it will be based on the iPhone OS. My guess? He might be on Steve Job’s Sh-t list. (Via MacRumors and CNBC)

Update

It get so fun to watch this stuff unfold. Could McGraw-Hill have been pulled from the Apple iPad event because of his comments on CNBC? While I think Apple is more than willing, as it seems they have done in the past to punish someone, McGraw-Hill claims they were not tossed.

Apps Make Your Phone Special

Friday, November 20th, 2009

VentureBeat has a post titled Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie: Apps don’t make your phone special, where they mention Mr. Ozzie’s comments at the Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference. Mr. Ozzie is said to suggest that apps are not what will differentiate mobile platforms. His apparent take is that all apps will, at some point, be ported to all mobile systems. This would switch the driving force to something more than what apps exist. That is Windows Mobile marketing crap.

Google’s Vic Gundotra is quoted in the post too, and he seems to indicate even Google won’t develop for all mobile platforms due to cost. Many developers will develop for the Android and iPhone platforms, and maybe even the dreaded Windows Mobile. I think most won’t. Some long time Mac developers have already pulled out of iPhone development.

I can’t get an official Google Voice App on the iPhone. That app alone would make my phone special, to me. If that app was important enough, I might go with an Android handset. Are there other considerations in picking a mobile smartphone? I hope so. Network, OS, multi-tasking, feel, build quality, manufacturer, and more. I think Ozzie has a got ‘a’ point. The mistake is, he seems to indicate it is ‘the’ point. Ask any iphone user if they like their phone and they will generally respond yes, often following with a mention of Shazam.

Lets look at the history of the desktop platforms. If I want to use Aperture to manage my photo library: Mac only. If I want to use Microsoft Visio or Access: Windows only. Apps matter Ray, and sorry about the Windows Mobile insult.

Based on info from MacRumors, MacBytes & VentureBeat