Archive for Computer Makers

Fun with Augmented Reality

Following up to yesterday’s post on Augmented Reality Apps for Android and iPhone users:
Moosejaw 2012 X-Ray Catalog

Moosejaw’s AR Campaign

The Moosejaw clothing company has created a “Moosejaw X-Ray” app to go with their latest catalog. Download the app to your Android or iOS device, and scan the models in the catalog. On certain pages the clothed models will have their underwear exposed by the app. I tried it out (how could I resist) and found the x-ray images went from serious to funny. The male models in particular were ridiculous. One was revealed to have squid or octopus taped to their side, while another had bullet holes in his undershirt. You can install the app and then scan the image at left. Or you can try it on Moosejaw’s online catalog. The model images are 2D so there will be no peering around the back or the edges for the inquisitive or the infatuated. The next augmented reality app is fully 3D. For better or worse it kept me far too entertained.
Chestburster

Chestburster

This app from Fingerfunk kept me busy. There is an image you have to download and print (shown left or download hi-res image). Print the picture and attached it to a t-shirt, then view it using the Chestburster app for Android or iOS (iPhone or iPad). You’ll hear some alarm bells, and then the famous baby alien chestburster appears to burst through the image with the appropriate R rated gore. The image is fully three dimensional, so depending on the angle of view you can view the top, bottom, or sides of the alien’s head. You can even see into the open cavity behind it. I’d print on a white t-shirt for the best effect. I had fun taking shots of the baby alien bursting out of my refrigerator. Oh, yes, there is a screenshot feature so you can save the image seen on your screen. Some samples to follow shortly.

Burster Samples

 

Augmented Reality (AR) Apps

QR Code
QR Code

This is one of those one-thing-leads-to-another stories.

Yesterday, I received an email newsletter with a headline “Are QR Codes an Outdated Technology?” Since I create and track QR (quick response) codes as one of my business services, I was interested and took a look. The story linked a YouTube video titled “Image recognition that triggers augmented reality” from the TEDTalks series. The video was demonstrating an app called “Aurasma” which can be installed on Android and iPhone smartphones.

Robert Burns

Scan me with Aurasma on your smartphone

In my opinion, the video and lecture boiled down to “Why use QR codes as tags when the object can be a tag?” That is: If the image or object has a unique appearance, then it could be used a link to more information when scanned or photographed with a smartphone. So if you’re an artist, you don’t need a QR (quick response)  code on your publicity materials; just use your photo or one of your works, and when people scan it, they will be given more information via the Internet or other medium. In the demo, they used a painting of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, which when viewed with the Aurasma app, a video would take its place with an actor reciting one of Burns’ poems.

I tried out Aurasma on my Samsung Galaxy S III Android phone, and — while it worked — I found that there was a very very small number of companies making use of it. Furthermore, the company behind Aurasma was really providing customized apps for the companies that wanted it so they could create their own social media campaigns and games. These companies included Marvel and DC Comics, Document magazine, and a clothing company called Moosejaw.

Marvel ARMarvel and DC Comics are using augmented reality apps in major cities around the world. Instead of scanning a QR Code with your phone, you could scan architectural landmarks and posters, and then be presented with a video of a superhero or villain in action superimposed over the landmark standing before you. In the example at right, an Avengers X-Men poster is scanned with an app that superimposes a 3D image of Iron Man when viewed through the phone.

This is a good time to answer the question: What is augmented reality? According to Wikipedia:

With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

Think of it as similar to a HUD (heads up display) on a fighter jet or high-end automobile. You see the world in front of your, but computers project additional relevant information into your field of vision.

You can get the Marvel AR app for Android or iPhone from Marvel’s Mobile App page. Come back tomorrow when I show you what Moosejaw did with AR. I’ll also talk about a app that I got a lot of mileage out of yesterday. I’ll give you a clue, its called “Chestburster”. Think sci-fi.

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SONY VAIO Dual Core Notebook! Save $100!

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC

The Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC is available for $499! That’s a $100 off its regular price at $600. Use coupon code QBM17377 at checkout to get this offer. Offer ends midnight Jan. 17, 2011.

This Sony VAIO Notebook is a fantastic package! I’m not usually that excited about Sony notebooks, but this is a great price for these features. First, it has a sizeable 15.5” widescreen, PLUS an integrated “full” numeric keypad — which is a rarity on laptops and notebooks, but common to a desktop keyboard. Add to that it’s fast AMD® Athlon™II Dual Core P340 processor (CPU), 3GB (gigabytes) of DDR3 RAM (memory) — more than some desktop computers — and amazing picture quality with ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4250 Graphics — suitable for many high-end games.

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PCThe Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC comes pre-installed with:

  • Genuine Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • AMD® Athlon™ II Dual Core P340 processor (2.20GHz)
  • 3GB of pre-installed DDR3 system RAM (memory)
  • A large 320 GB hard drive (storage) for your documents, movies, photos, and music files
  • AMD® Vision ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD4250 graphics card
  • 15.5″ (1366×768) widescreen LED backlit display uses power-efficient LCD technology and delivers dazzling colors and picture clarity
  • Wired and the fastest Wireless-N Internet
  • Dual Layer DVD Burner (DVD RW)
  • Media card reader for your digital cameras and smartphones
  • Built in Sony Motion Eye webcam
  • A trial version of Microsoft Office 2010 is included
  • HDMI connector for attaching to a HD TV

Updated Posts: AntiVirus for Mac; Sneak Peek Sale

Back in Dec. 2008 I wrote a post titled Apple Encourages AntiVirus Use for Macs?! I updated the article today to include links to the latest AntiVirus and AntiSpyware applications for the Mac. If you still believe that Macs are invulnerable to viruses and spyware, then you may be interested in knowing that Apple has added anti-malware features to their latest Mac Snow Leopard operating system. See Dan Moren’s report at PCWorld on the Hidden Malware Features of Snow Leopard. I mentioned some risks to Mac users in recent weeks.

I also updated the links in my Jan. 2009 post about sale items on Buy.com. I’ve crossed out the items that are not available. I’ve updated the links and proces on the items that are available. It’s a useful link because many of the items have become very affordable.

Apple Working to Eliminate Dirty Glass Backs on iPhones

No one really enjoys cleaning windows. Glass windows that is. And for iPhone users, the fact that the front and back of their phone is just glass has become a problem for many.
Most people are used to buffing the front screen for a quick clean, but they look at the back of the phone so infrequently that by the time they do they find a lot of filth, dirt, and often pocket lint wedged in around the edges or even under the glass back. Particularly annoying to users with white phones as the dirt stands out so much to those around them who only get to see the back of the phone.
In the worst cases large pieces of debris or large accumulations have resulted in unsightly cracks that only get worse over time when the cracks allow in even more debris.
I read today on Gdgt that Apple is coming to the rescue, but their research and development will likely only aid future iPhones, not current ones.
This problem is apparent with other apple products, past and present, such as the Mac G4 Cube in 2000, the iPhone 3G and the MacBook laptop. All of these products were plagued by consumer complaints of hairline cracks.
(I wonder if the high cost of Apple products can be attributed to the costs incurred by Apple in fixing problems discovered after product launch? Your phone may not have cracked but you pay extra so that Apple can afford to repair OPP or “other peoples phones. After all, such costs would constitute overhead from one or more viewpoints.)
As I was saying, Gdgt says word has it that Apple engineers are looking into this problem by experimenting with various third party cases for iPhones to see what can be done about the invading debris and cracking glass issues on future iPhones.
(Posted from my 3G Slide Droid phone.)

Any $1,200 Computer Is A Good Computer

New Mac Prices
New Mac Prices

New Mac Prices (click to enlarge)

Often people say to me, “I think I’m going to get a Mac” because they’ve “had enough of Windows”.

Then I ask them, “How much did you pay for the computer you have?”

90% of the time they say about $600 to 800.

Then I let them know that they’re not likely to find a Mac at that price because the cheapest Mac, apart from the Mini which no Mac owner I know has ever considered, costs at least $1,000. Most Mac owners start with the MacBook Pro which costs anywhere from $1,200 to $2,300 depending upon the features you get.

That’s usually when I say, “Any $1,200 computer is a good computer.”

For more information $1,200 computers, check out this article from PC World: “The Perfect PC: Don’t Buy It, Build It”. They discuss $500 machines briefly, then they elaborate on more expensive machines, even though they are talking about building your own computer.

FYI, I have an iMac and two PCs.

Get a Kickstand for your iPad

Incipio Kickstand Nylon Case for iPad

I don’t have an iPad, but I do have an old e-book reader, the eBookwise 1150 — which I’d like to replace sometime soon — which I use quite a bit when I’m eating alone or snacking. I like to do a little reading while I eat, and I’m often trying to find some combination of items I can use to prop it up at an angle so I can read comfortable. Oftentimes this results in me leaning it up against the napkin holder, while placing a small book or something else at the base to prevent it from sliding.

Maybe you’ve found yourself doing the same thing with your iPad?

Incipio Kickstand Nylon Case for iPadWell, I was looking at the iPads and the iPad accessories over at MacMall.com, and I saw a couple of products that would work nicely for iPad owners.

One such product is the Kickstand Nylon Case by Incipio. It comes in three different colors: Light Gray (shown),  Black, and Khaki/Tan. It’s constructed from rip-stop nylon with a microsuede lining on the inside to protect your investme—, er, iPad from scuffs and scratches. It acts as a book cover, as you can see, but it also has a kickstand design that allows you to prop it up for reading or video watching. (You forgot you can watch videos on it, didn’t you?)

Incipio Kickstand Nylon Case for iPad Incipio Kickstand Nylon Case for iPad

As it is a book cover, it also comes with a magnetic latch to keep it closed when not in use. And, lest I forget, they cost only $22.99 each. Get one now and protect that iPad.

New iPad Accessories Arrivals

When is an iPhone 4 not a phone?

A: When you’re left handed.

Surprisingly there is one big complaint about the new iPhone 4. If you make a call with the phone in your left hand you might not receive a cellular signal.

The redesign of the iPhone 4 moved the antenna to an external stainless steel band that wraps around the phone. A significant portion of this antenna band is on the left hand side of the phone. So when you hold the phone in your left hand, the flashy part of your palm below the thumb can significantly reduce or block the cellular signal needed to make a call.

How not to hold an iPhone 4

How not to hold an iPhone 4 (Credit: Apple / Screenshot by Scott Ard/CNET)

Interestingly, at June’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs praised this antenna redesign as “brilliant engineering” and commented that it has never been done before. In a report on iPhone 4 signal issuesby cnet news’s Scott Ard mentions “some other companies may have considered a similar solution but backed off due to the attenuation caused when a person’s hand ‘covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band,’ as Apple put it”

He also points out that during Jobs’s demonstration he used WiFi instead of the AT&T cellular network. The Wifi signal portion of the antenna is higher up on the band, and less likely to be covered by your hand or fingers. Steve Jobs, himself, has a tendency to hold the iPhone in his left hand, so he may very well have been aware of the reception issue that would cause.

Now that word of the reception problem is spreading, word has it Apple suggests “not holding the phone in your left hand to make a call”. Or to use a case or bumpers that lift your hand off the edge of the phone. The bumpers from Apple cost $29. maybe Apple should send them out for free to iPhone 4 owners.

For more information on the signal reception problem with the iPhone 4see this report at AppleInsider.com.

Transferring iTunes videos to another computer

At least once a week I get asked about transferring iTunes music from one computer to another, but recently someone said to me:

“My sister bought a bunch of episodes of Gossip Girl and some other shows on iTunes. I’d like to watch them on my computer, too, but I don’t want to buy them again. How can I get them onto my computer and iPod?”

I told them they’ll be able to watch them on a computer, but they won’t be able to watch them on an iPod.

“Why not?”

“Because the iPod is linked to a specific user or account. And the music and video files are linked to a specific user or account. So once iTunes sees the account attached to the video file doesn’t match the account attached for the iPod, it will refuse to transfer the file.”

“How does it know?”

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl

“There’s no easy way to explain that, but, trust me, it won’t work.”

“Well, how do I copy them to my computer?”

Find the files on your sister’s computer. Typically the videos will be in the “My Music” folder on the hard drive. In that folder there is an “iTunes” folder, then a “iTunes Media” folder, and lastly a “TV Shows” folder. Inside that folder you’ll find folders for all the shows your sister bought. You can just copy these folder onto a CD, DVD, or external drive, and then copy them onto another computer. You can copy them to the same location on your own computer. Or you can have iTunes import them.

When you try to play them, iTunes will tell you that you’re not authorized to play them on your computer. At which point you will need to enter your sister’s iTunes account information.

“And, no, you still won’t be able to play them on your iPod.”

HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One C309 conflicts with iPod

Hello, folks! Hope you had a great weekend. I’m getting better, too.

So last week I mentioned I had been helping a client with a HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One C309 printericon that was causing trouble with his iPods. The client had just replaced a printer in their home office, but now when they attached their iPods to synchronize their music they were alerted that the device was not recognized. They suspected they had done something wrong when installing the printer, so they reinstalled it, updated their iTunes software, but still no luck with their iPods.

After a little research and double-checking I had learned that there were other reported cases of an iPod not being recognized after a HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One C309 printericon had been added to the computer system. So I unplugged the printer, connected the iPod, and lo and behold the iPod was recognized once more.

No one wants to have to remember to unplug their printer to access their iPods. And no one wants to have to rememeber they disconnected their printer before they go to print something.

What to do?

Fortunately, the HP Photosmart C309 printericon comes equipped with WIFI (wireless capability). Furthermore, the client had a wireless router in their office as well. The HP C309 also works with a wired network connection, which I would preferred to use, but they didn’t have a spare network cable.

So I configured the HP C309 to access the wireless network using the instruction provided in the owners manual for the printer. The C309 supports WEP and encryption tools for a secure wireless link. Furthermore their router accepts MAC filtering (the unique identifier tag associated with any wireless capable device) to restrict which devices are allowed to access the network. Their PC is wired to the router, otherwise I could have set the PC to connect wirelessly to the printer without goin g through the router.

A few minutes later the printer was wirelessly online with the network, and the iPods could be relied upon to be recognized once more when attached via USB.

I know there are more people out there experiencing this problem. I hope this article helps you out. If anyone has discovered other solutions to this problem, let me know.

If you’re interested in learning more about the products in this article, click the images and text links for more information.