Archive for the 'Internet' Category

Apple announces the iPhone

apple iphone

I think perhaps for most of us this was the most expected announcement made by Apple at MacWorld. With all the buzz flying around, and no solid facts. Though Kevin Rose apparently spilled the details a lot of people were holding his story credible, but it isn’t all true. In fact, most of it is wrong. At the MacWorld keynote, Steve Jobs, explained how they had to keep this a secret for over 2 and a half years. However they managed that, I am truly amazed. The full specs and details are listed below.

  • Single front button
  • 3.5 inch widescreen display, 320 x 480 at 160dpi
  • 2 megapixel camera
  • iPod dock connector
  • Accelerometer to detect the changed between landscape and portrait mode and adjusts the screen accordingly
  • Proximity sensor to turn off the display backlight when you are holding the phone to your head, which saves battery life.
  • 11.6 mm thick
  • Syncs with iTunes
  • GSM/EDGE
  • 802.11b/g WiFi – Switches seamlessly between WiFi and EDGE whenever you are in/out of coverage
  • Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR and A2DP
  • Cinglar only (US)
  • Visual voicemail – shows a list of your voicemails like you see a list of emails
  • Error correcting with the on-screen keyboard
  • Gestural interface
  • Apple Mail
  • Safari
  • iTunes with intergrated CoverFlow
  • Google Maps
  • Widgets
  • Free Yahoo! IMAP email service to all iPhone purchasers
  • 5 hour video battery life
  • 16 hour audio battery life
  • Runs on Mac OS X*

The 4GB costs $499 and the 8GB $599, which includes a two year contract. It starts to ship in June for the US, 4Q 2007 for Europe and for Australia they see it in 2008 (ouch).

*Though Apple lists the iPhone to run OS X, and what Steve Jobs said, it has been confirmed by an Apple Rep that it will not allow you to install OS X applications. This is a big blow to the device, at least in my opinion. Why would Apple, and Steve Jobs, specifically highlight the fact that it runs OS X when in actual fact, it is a truncated version of OS X, probably incapable of running fully featured applications. This has irritated many people, including myself. Will you not be able to run any applications at all from it, or will Apple release some sort of optimiser to iPhone-ise exisiting applications? From what I know, you will be able to add your own Widgets, or exisiting ones that you can download for the Dashboard.

What are my thoughts on the iPhone? Well I like it. I thing the design is amazing, not just the user interface, but of the phone as well. The ideas that have been incorporated are truly unique and visionary. Apple really has set the bar high this time. What I am annoyed about is not only the lack of 3G, instead uses EDGE (2.5G, Enhanced GPRS), but the fact that it is only coming out in the 4Q of 2007 here. Though I already have my K800i, which is one amazing phone, I don’t know if I could give it up for the iPhone. Though it’s PDA-esque features are nice, what would I do about applications like GPS software (I use TomTom on my PDA) and other 3rd party software I have come to love and enjoy, especially with the news that you can’t install your own applications. The price as well is intimidating. I currently don’t use my phone enough to warrant a Pay Monthly service (I use Pay as you go), but with the 2-year contract, the base price, as well as a monthlu plan that will have to have an unlimited service (how could I not use Safari while on the go?) Not only that, but what service provider will we get out here in the UK. I don’t want some crappy provider like Vodafone or O2. I hate them, I do, more so than Orange, which have the world’s worst customer support.

Scratches? Don’t even get me started, with a massive 3.5 inch screen, this is destined for scratches. You would have to buy a protector/shield for it as well, which is not free, and there is none out there on the market yet for the iPhone. The proximity sensor is truly inspirational, and who else but Apple would come up with something like that. It is nice for Apple to incorporate an accelerometer to switch between the landscape mode and portrait mode in the OS, as well as other functions. I have something similar in my Canon PowerShot A540, which automatically changes the orientation based on how you are holding it. Well done Apple, you have once again succeeded at making me want I product I cannot afford, nor cannot get my hands on until 3/4 of a year later.

Engadget has a lot of photos taken during the keynote, of the iPhone and its interface, as well as fully explaining the demo Steve Jobs gave. You can check that out here.

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Month of Apple Bugs: So VLC is Apple software?

moab

I have been reading up on this ubiqutous ‘Month of Apple Bugs’, and in light of this article, I have become increasingly angered with the website. The article on AppleGazette makes very valid points, as to why effectively the MOAB project has lost all of its credibility. I want to state upfront that I’m not writing this as an Apple Fanboy (though I am), I am writing this as a user of OS X and Windows, and various Apple products.

The MOAB project aims to show off a vunerability in Apple products over the 31 days of January. The first bug was understandable, a Quicktime based Buffer Overflow that has a “vulnerability in the handling of the rtsp:// URL handler allows remote arbitrary code execution.” This affects Windows an Mac OS X. This is a real flaw in Apple software, and can allow the execution of malcious code, via this buffer overrun, so it is critical.

The second vuneralibility however is debatable. In my eyes, this flaw is neither OS X, nor Apple. This flaw is based within the popular VLC Media Player. Now lets stop here for a second. VLC? Yes, the cross platform and open-source media player available on Windows, Linux, *nix and other platforms. However you look at it, I have no idea how this is an Apple Bug. Yes remember the title of the project. Other than running on OS X, and the actual vunerability allowing execution of arbitrary code (as with the Quicktime flaw above) which as you can see it would allow execution of code on OS X. But does this mean the problem is anything to do with Apple themselves? NO. Do we blame Microsoft for 3rd party software that has holes in it which can cause Windows to get a buffer overrun? Abosultely not. We blame the software developers. Why should Microsoft (or in this case Apple) deal with an application that they do not develop? It makes no sense. If you call your project ‘Month of Apple Bugs’ then please use Apple bugs, and not an open source software that has the same vunerability in every other distribution!
As AppleGazette pointed out, they do state on their website:

Are Apple products the only one target of this initiative?
Not at all, but they are the main focus. We’ll be looking over popular OS X applications as well.

Yeah they do defend themselves, but for goodness sake, if you create a title, which is then missleading what do you expect people to do? How is an OS X application an Apple Bug. It is only on the same OS. I’ll re-iterate myself: Do we blame Microsoft for flaws in developer ‘x’ software? Hell no. The developer is blamed. It seems that they are only seeking attention by putting Apple and Bugs in the same title. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this. After all publicising vunerabilities helps to get them fixed faster, and thus leading to a more secure application. However I don’t like the other statement on their website:

John Doe has written a ‘post’ in his blog, saying he debunks the XXX bug, what’s that?
No worries. It’s probably someone begging for attention or PR-brainwashed.

Maybe they should have a look at their answer, because when you post titles of the project on social websites like Digg, del.icio.us, forums, etc, people will be miss-lead on what the actual flaws are on. Posting an open-source software bug on the second day is no good way to get started, and with their title it seems like they are the ones begging for attention.

The third vunerability is similar to the first one in that it is a vunerability which allows the execution of arbitrary code through Quicktime, but in Windows. Specifically it is “A vulnerability in the handling of the HREFTrack field allows to perform cross-zone scripting, leading to potential remote arbitrary code execution.” I understand that this is Apple bugs, and again this makes sense, even though the proof of concept “uses Microsoft Text Driver ADODB connection which requires an anonymous FTP login to the exploit location, for an unknown reason“. After all, Quicktime is Apple software. It’s like Microsoft patching flaws in Microsoft Office for Mac.

How many actual flaws do they have that are Apple software / OS X bugs? I would like to know, as it seems to me they have little. Displaying a flaw in an a open-source and cross-platform (Windows & Linux included) which is not even developed by Apple on the second day is really shoddy. I for one am quite annoyed, not for the fact that they are displaying Apple bugs, but because they don’t! Granted we have only seen three, and 2 out of these 3 were Apple software (Quicktime) related. I am saying this for all the Diggers and those alike who like to skim read articles and are a lot of time miss-informed by such things.

Get your act together MOAB, this is not a good start (a pretty bad one at that).

MacExpo: Google

Google had a booth at MacExpo, not really announcing anything new, just showcasing their software for the Mac. Google’s booth was very well designed, not the best though (I would have to say Quark’s was the best), and around he front there were 6 Intel iMac’s which you could use to try out Google Maps, Google Sketchup, Google Earth and Google Video. Around the reverse of the booth there was a presentation area where Google reps were delivering various seminars on Google software and how to get the most use from it. Google’s stand was packed most of the time, so I only had a few minutes to have a look around, but it really is nothing new. They were also giving out a portfolio PR pack containing sheets about their software and a CD with the Google software on it.
A lot of companies were giving away marketing, and Google was not an exception. They had transparent packs of Google branded gummy bear and sour sweets, which were probably nothing more than Haribo with Google’s sticker slapped on them.

Firefox 2.0 is Out!

firefox logo

The much awaited revision of Firefox, 2.0, has officially been released. After a number of blunders yesterday it has finally been pushed out the door.  A lot has been added to Firefox, in the background as visually. The UI has been improved and re-done, and gives it a much more elegant feeling. Firefox 2 now has built-in phishing protection for sites that pose themselves as paypal and sites alike. This is another step making Firefox a very secure browser. There is also a built-in session saver, so you don’t need to hunt for pesky extensions. The session saver will automatically restore the windows and tabs that you closed down last when exiting Firefox. This can also be done if Firefox crashes. Many more features such as inline spell checking, enhanced searching, advanced handling of RSS feeds and live titles. For a full list click here, or you can use the link below to be taken to the firefox download page.

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Gaming News in Review

lik-sang logo

A lot of gaming news has happened while I was away, so I thought I’d summerise it all.

  • Sony sues games importer Lik-Sang out of existence. Sony originally filed a motion against Lik-Sang in August of 2005 for exporting PSP’s to the UK before the release of the console there. Just last week a high court judge in London ruled that the sales were illegal in Europe and blocked them, even though Lik-Sang argued they broke no Hong Kong laws.
    Last week, Pascal Clarysse, Marketing Manager of Lik-Sang.com argued; “Fighting multiple lawsuits in different countries at the same time and paying high premiums to expensive lawyers is an overwhelming situation for a small company like Lik Sang. Launching separate court actions with separate claims and different judges is completely unnecessary, except for the fact that it helps reaching one single target: outspend Lik-Sang to death. Pay beyond.” [link]
  • Could there be a Xbox 360 Dashboard update waiting for us in a weeks time. Xbox Live’s Major Nelson mentioned on his podcast that he has been testing out the Xbox 360 Wireless Communicator on his development kit, which has “excellent” sound quality. Major Nelson goes on to say that “even if you went to the store today and bought it, you couldn’t use it until you have the fall upgrade to the dashboard.” With the Wireless communicator being released on 31st October, it makes us wonder whether the dashboard update would be released on or before the 31st; and that day is just looming. [link] Major Nelson’s Podcast, mentioned at around 1:16:30.
  • Sony has cleared up good and bad things about the PS3. Some of the postive notes are: HD Movies can be stored on and played directly from the hard drive, although codec support is yet unknown; Reports are that within 10 seconds of selecting the movie from the menu, its playing. The bad sides include: no HD cables in the box for definite; PS3 does not upconvert DVD’s, and will not enhance PS1/PS2 game’s graphics; no included remote, one can be bought separately for $24.99, and uses bluetooth not IR, so say goodbye to your universal remote. [link]

Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion!

google youtube logo

Yesterday Google announced what I think is the biggest news of the month, they bought YouTube. Yep, Google acquired another Web 2.0 company (remember Writely), this time for a massive $1.65 billion USD. And to think that some companies laughed at the thought that YouTube could ever be worth so much. I think most of us anticipated this move, as there had been a lot of buzz about this over the last week.
Google organised a short press conference call after the press release, which can be heard here. Read on for the full Google press release, and see TechCrunch’s post for the main notes of the call.

YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen, have posted a video onto YouTube just to give a shout out to everyone on their thoughts, and what they hold for the future.

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Links for 24/09/2006

amazon zune apple

Shorts for 24 September 2006.

  • Amazon UK attribute the Zune to “Apple Computer”, recently fixed it (above) [link]
  • Xbox 360 add-on HD-DVD drive adds 1080p, for $170, to be released on November 22nd in Japan [link]
  • Digital fingerprint lock broken by MythBusters’ photocopied fingerprint! (video) [link]

The iTV – Apple’s Media Center

apple itv

This is the one product which hasn’t been released, as in it is not on Apple’s website. The name iTV is not official yet, so it is subject to change. I think that is good because iTV sounds a bit plain, and similiar to Elgato’s EyeTV line of products. So people could get confused. Down to the details:

  • It looks like a flatter Mac mini.
  • No power brick, but there is USB 2, Ethernet, 802.11 Wireless, HDMI, Component and RCA jacks as well as optical audio.
  • Controlled via the Apple remote.
  • Hooks up directly to your TV, set-top box or other input device.
  • An enhanced version of Front Row, with windows media centre style browsing. The right hand side has menu and the left has images.
  • “You can do movie trailers form Apple.com right from your couch. This is big screen over the internet, live as we watch. [demo]“
  • Movies, TV Shows, Music, Podcasts, and Photos
  • Coming Q1 of 2007
  • Works with Macs and PCs
  • $299

As Apple doesn’t have an official page, I’ll link you to Engadget’s live coverage of the “It’s Showtime!” event.
This certainly seems like a very interesting idea and because of the price point even more so. Now we just have to wait for it to come out, doh!
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iTunes 7 – With Movie Store!

itunes version 7

The new version of iTunes has a lot of new features, you can find a good walkthrough of the main features at TUAW. These are the main enhancements:

  • TV Shows are available in h.264, in 640 x 480 which is up from 320 x 240.
  • You can update your iPod from right inside iTunes now, you don’t need to go to Preferences. You can say, “I want to sync the 10 most recent unwatched episides of all my TV shows.”
  • You can sync content between multiple computers as long as you have the same iTMS account and both the computers are authorised.
  • Coverflow mode allows you to scroll through the artwork of your music as if it was on a shelf.
  • Music Artwork can be downloaded free from Apple, and it will fill up all the missing artwork in your library!
  • Today we’re starting out with films from Disney, Pixar, Touchstone, and Miramax – four studios owned by Disney. Today we’re making over 70 films agvailable online today including Pirates of the Caribbean. They’ll be available the same day they’re out on DVD.
  • New movies will be $12.99 if you pre-order them or buy them during the first week. Other movies are $9.99. The movie store is integrated into iTunes and you can preview new releases in album cover flow mode. They will also be at 640 x 480 with Dolby Surround Sound. Initially it will be for the US only, but it will go international in 2007.
  • Games for iPod are $4.99 and only work with the 5G iPod (old and updated).
  • A refined look with sections for music, other content, playlists etc. It is not really too big, but it allows iTunes to flow more seamlessley. You have to see for yourself, it is hard to describe.

It is available for download now. I think that’s virtually it, I’ll update it if I find anything else.

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DS Opera browser lacks flash, video, sound and PDF support!

ds opera browser

A FAQ section on Nintendo’s Japanese website, states that the new Opera browser for the DS will not have support for flash, video, sound and PDF content. Users will be able to bookmark pages, but not save them (eg. for offline use). This may not compare to the PSP which does support flash – though I don’t think that supports PDF video or sound either – but users will be able to pan through the pages using the stylus, and easily enter website addresses using handwriting recognition. DS Lite owners will be happy to hear that Nintendo will release a browser cartridge that fits nicely into the DS Lite’s GBA slot so that you don’t need to worry about anything protruding out. Opera will also be able to store data entered into forms, such as login information and what not.
I think this will make the browsing on the DS quite nice, but I still don’t know whether it may be a pain to read stuff and do actualy browsing on it. On my PSP I still find it annoying to scroll across pages when reading articles. But I like the way you enter the address on the DS, as it is very tedious with the PSP, using a phone like keypad way of entering (takes too long — very annoying).

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