Tag Archive for iPhone

What is Twitter all about?


A few weeks ago, someone asked, “Twitter. I don’t get it. How does it work? And what’s the point?”

I’m not going to pretend to be any sort of expert here but here’s what I had to tell them at the time. Perhaps I’ll elaborate more later, but I’d be happy if those of you who use Twitter would post your thoughts and answers to this question in the comments area below.

Anyhow, on to my answer.



There are many ways to use Twitter. One great thing is it is free to use. You can use it to keep in touch with friends or you can use it as a simple business communication tool. You can SEND and RECEIVE short messages either with your cell phone (SMS Text), from the Twitter web site, or from stand alone tools such as TweetDeck.



The mobile phone option is great if you’re on the go and can’t get to a computer. Some people worry that they’ll get too many text messages, but Twitter allows you to control who can contact you, what sort of messages get through, what time of day they are sent, and what’s the most messages you want in a day. Personally, I find SMS aspect to be too slow, so I use the Twidroid app for Android on my T-Mobile G1 smartphone. On the iPhone, Twitterific is a popular choice.



Plus Twitter allows you to receive messages through an email account in addition to or as an alternative to your cell phone.

Another advantage is there’s no address book to manage with Twitter and no need to update addresses. Twitter coordinates the connections between you and your followers for you. And people can opt in or out whenever they like. And your contact info is private.

Services like TweetLater.com allow you to have a summary of your daily messages and replies emailed to you.

Using the friends and cell phone option, let’s imagines you’ve registered your cell phone with your Twitter account. Then your friends could choose to “follow” your Twitter account. So let’s say you’re meeting a group of friends one day, and you have a change of plans, you could send one text message to your Twitter account, and then Twitter would forward a copy of that message to all your friends.

Or let’s say you’re producing a play, and you want to create some “buzz” about your latest production. You could tell people to “follow” your Twitter account to receive updates about the show on their cell phone or by email. So let’s say 300 people are following your Twitter account, you send out one message to Twitter and it forwards it to all 300 people. And if all goes well some of them will forward or “Retweet” to their friends and followers.

There’s more to it. You can send messages to everyone or to specific people.

But you can only communicate with people who chose to follow you, and whom you permit to follow you.

So if you want to talk to strangers, you can, but all they know about you is your user name and what you say in your messages. Even if you are sending messages from your phone, no one sees your phone number.

Some celebrities use Twitter to let their fans hear what they are up to. Many of them setup their accounts so their fans can receive messages from them, but can’t send messages to them.

So readers and Tweeters, what have you to say on the subject?  Please comment below or send me Tweet. List your Twitter address, if you like.

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Save up to $72 on iPod and iPhone Speaker Systems

MacMall - Your #1 Apple Superstore!

Here are a few standout offers I found at the Mac Mall.

alteclansingt612Save $72 on the Altec Lansing T612 Digital Speaker System for iPod and iPhone only $127.99 (was $199.99): The T612 digital speaker system is a also acts a speakerphone for calls on your iPhone. Similar devices required iPhone users to use flight mode which meant you wouldn’t be able to receive calls while docked. The T612 doesn’t require you to use flight mode, so you won’t miss any phone calls. When a call comes in, the music stops so you can hear your call. The T612 was rated the “Best of 2008” by iProng magazine, and received similar high marks from PC Magazine.

The T612 features four specially engineered speakers to smoothly reproduce music across the full audio spectrum with powerful, deep bass with it XdB bass-enhancement technology that creates deep rich bass without a subwoofer. It’s docking station will recharge your iPhone or dockable iPod.

It includes a wireless remote that keeps track forward and back, volume, and bass & treble controls at your fingertips. Plus it’s elegant, wall-mountable design will looks great in your living room or office with a wall-mounting kit that is sold separately.

Alternately, the T612 has an MP3 player jack that allows you to connect your MP3 player or CD player at the same time as your iPhone.

clockradioAlso at the MacMall you can save $55 on the iHome Bluetooth Clock Radio & Speakerphone for iPhone & iPod NOW only $124.99 (was $179.99). Like the T612, the iP47’s dock will play and charge your iPhone or iPod, or you can wirelessly stream music from your Bluetooth-enabled phone, PDA or computer. The Bluetooth technology also allows you to control other Bluetooth enabled devices such as handsfree units and headsets using AVRCP and A2DP profiles.

ihome-clock-radioThe speakerphone feature, with its built-in mic allows you to answer and place calls using your iPhone or other Bluetooth-enabled cell phone.

The clock radio portion has a 4 speaker stereo  sound, a dual alarm allows separate wake times, and a clock that automatically sets itself. You can choose to wake to to your iPhone, iPod, Bluetooth enabled device, or its  AM/FM radio with 12 station presets. It also includes a full-function remote control with snooze.

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Video: To Stream or Not To Stream

That is today’s question.

Apple iTunes

I’m referring to the video streaming services that are available for the home consumer market today: Netflix, CinemaNow, Amazon’s Video on Demand, and Blockbuster. Streaming video, for those unfamiliar, allows you to watch a video while it downloads. This was available to computers originally, and has since moved on to include televisions via game consoles and set-top boxes, and mobile phones most recently through YouTube and MySpace among others.

Netflix, Inc.

I’ve read a lot of articles with a lot of opinions on which is better or best, but it seems clear to me there is no one service that works best for everyone and every viewing platform:

  • Not everyone wants to watch video or TV on their computer or mobile phone
  • Not everyone wants to pay $300 for a phone or a box
  • Not everyone watches videos on a regular monthly basis

As Tim Berry at business planning site Bplans.com says, “Not everyone is your customer.”

What Services are there?

Computer Services

For streaming video to your computer you have many choices: Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon’s Video on Demand, iTunes, and CinemaNow among others. Some of these, such as iTunes, aren’t true streaming services since the video must be partially or completely downloaded first in order to be watched, but broadband Internet access is sharply reducing the amount of time one must wait for the video to download.

All you need is some video playing software on your computer in order to watch the videos. Some services use popular pre-existing programs such as Apple’s Quicktime (which is included with iTunes) and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player. Some services, such as Amazon’s Video on Demand use their own software. (Amazon has their Unbox Video player software.) Others, such as Google’s YouTube and Hulu from NBC Universal and News Corp. can be watched in your browser.

Some of these services charges have a monthly subscription fee you can use, or you can pay on demand. If you watch videos frequently, they are bound to have a monthly subscription plan that you will find suitable. Otherwise you can expect to pay at least $1.99 or $3.99 per video for on demand service. New releases tend to be harding to get as not all film distributors are willing to make their videos available in this fashion.


Netflix Devices

Netflix Devices

The number of television services are increasing rapidly, but, in my opinion, still has a way to go. Quality is still not dependable from the true streaming services.

For example, Netflix, a perennial favorite, allows you to stream to your computer, and a variety of network media boxes are available which allow you to connect your computer to your television though your home computer network. You also have the option of streaming to a TiVo digital video recorder, a Xbox 360 game console, or a LG BD300 or Samsung’s BD-P2500 or BD-P2550 Blu-ray disc players. The video will download at the highest possible speed with the highest possible picture quality, but if there is a increase in demand the picture quality reduces to maintain the download speed necessary to keep the picture moving. A recent increase in usage by Xbox 360 owners caused such an increase in demand that some experienced picture qualities they considered “unwatchable”.

Take control! Get movies on-demand. Watch instantly on your TV at anytime. Learn more.

As with the computer services mentioned earlier, there is either an on-demand fee or a monthly subscription plus the boxes themselves cost upwards of $150 and $250. TIVO has a monthly subscription of about $8 to $12, and Xbox 360 requires a $8 monthly subscription to their Xbox Live Gold service, or a $49 annual fee.

There are other set-top boxes to look at, too, such as Vudu and Roku.

Special Recommendation

Take a look at the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc Player for accessing Netflix video on demand service. This player sells at Best Buy for $349, but you can get it at Amazon for $290 now.

Mobile Phones



Principal among the mobile phones are the Blackberry and iPhone. These new phones, along with Google G1 phone from T-Mobile, allow you to watch videos from any of the web based services. You laso have the option of storing video files on some of the phones with large storage capability. For example, the iPhone allows you to download videos from the iTunes service. Verizon offers it VCast television service which allows you to watch television programs on your cellphone.

Google G1

Google G1

The phones cost over $179, and then your phone service is about $39 a month (but you already knew that) plus there is a data service fee of $30 per month as well. The data service is needed for either Vcast or Internet access on your Blackberry, G1, or iPhone.

My Issues, Maybe Yours

Many of us watch too much TV, and in many cases too much video. Which is worse?  That all depends on what you watch and who you talk to.  Monthly subscriptions make me feel forced to watch video or feel as though I’m throwing my money away. I was an early adopter of Netflix, among other things, and paid the monthly subscription for a whole year and only watched one video, so that was a $96 rental. Big waste. I’m more of an on-demand video watcher, not an on schedule video watcher. I prefer to be informed over entertained, and when I’m informed I like to be informed honestly and objectively whenever possible.

I also like to have maximum picture quality. I had a laserdisc player, still do, and I have several DVD players. I think some of my laserdiscs look better than some of my DVDs. The engineering quality isn’t always equal. Some manufacturers put a little extra care into the transfer, but streaming video currently has a variable picture quality to account for levels of demand. Some days are better than others. I’m just thinking about digital TV right now. The occasional picture scrambling drives me nuts. We get to look forward to that 24 hours a day when analog TV broadcasts go offline in February 2009.

I hope you’ve found this post informative today. Let me know what you think of streaming video, the different services, and anything related. Or send me a question for a future post.

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Another iPhone Upgrade. Privacy at Risk

Courtesy of Apple

Courtesy of Apple

Gizmodo released a video today illustrating a security flaw in the iPhone 2.0.2 upgrade which was released on August 15. The video demonstrates how to bypass the passcode needed to unlock a locked iPhone.

To bypass the code anyone can move the locking slider, and when asked for the passcode they need only tap the “Emergency Call” button once, and then double tap “Home”. The video below demonstrates the technique.

Once unlocked they have full access to the phone and can make calls, send and read emails, make online purchases and more.

Apple had addressed the issue in an email released today, but no date for a patch to this security risk has been mentioned. Instead Apple suggests users modify their settings so that the Home button goes to their music collection instead of their Favorites.

Back on August 5, I reported on Apple’s release of a firmware upgrade (v2.0.1) which was designed to remedy widespread problems experienced by iPhone users who upgraded to the iPhone 2.0 operating system after July 11. Problems addressed were instability issues, application crashes, responsiveness, and speed.

13 days later, August 15, v2.0.2 was released to address connectivity issues with the faster 3G wireless networks and a few other minor problems with the App Store and the Safari Internet browser.

It’s been yet another 13 days and now Apple has yet another hole to fill in their popular devices operating system. A date for release is pending.

Apple projects sales of the iPhone are to reach 10 million by year’s end.

Update Aug. 29: Still no exact date for the update, but word from Apple has it that it will be some time in September.  My guess is they’re all off for Labor Day weekend, so they’ll tackle late next week.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Second Generation iPhone to be Released Friday

News has it that people started lining up out side the flagship Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan around June 27 to be among the first to buy the new second generation iPhone from Apple on July 11.  The line has grown slightly in the days since then.  Meanwhile, no one is lining up outside the AT&T store in Times Square.  AT&T being the sole carrier for the iPhone in the US.

Apple iPhone 3G (pair). Courtesy of AppleWhat’s All The Hubbub?
Of course, the first generation iPhone was wildly popular with its touchscreen interface, digital camera, iPod functionality with audio and video files, PDA (personal data assistant) features, fantastic web browsing features, and Apple style cachet.

Not so popular was the $400+ price tag, limited battery life, no voice dial feature, sluggish Internet access, headphone accessibility, lacking business email and calendar functionality, and the touchy touch screen. You may remember Steve Jobs quickly resolved the first problem with a steep price drop, much to the chagrin of the early adopters, but he later appeased them, too.  Some of the remaining problems will be addressed with the new second gen iPhone coming out this week.

Also unpopular was the fact that the phone was only available for the AT&T network.  That remains the same.  Stories abounded about iPhones being hacked to work elsewhere, and subsequent software upgrades from Apple that deactivated the hackphones. What’s New? The new iPhone has a few new features not available on its predecessors.  Some of enhancements are just improvements on the original:

  1. 3G: The new phone has improved Internet access now because its can now access the faster 3G (or third generation) wide area cellular telephone networks with high speed Internet access.
  2. GPS: The global positioning system is a new feature which allows you to see where you are and where you’re going, though it s not as fast as the units available for cars, so don’t toss out your Garmin or TomTom just yet.
  3. Improved Operating System (v 2.0): Most reviewers state this is the biggest improvement with synchronization features for corporate and calendars through secure Microsoft Exchange servers. The absence of this feature kept many businesses from adopting the first generation iPhone. The new system also allows the integration of third party (non-Apple) applications available for download through an App Store. First gen phone owners will be able to upgrade to 2.0 when it’s released on Friday.

The Downside Early reports have it that the battery life is shorter on the new phone, and since the battery is internal and can’t be swapped for a fully charged battery, you need to keep a close eye on the battery life, particularly if you are a heavy email, text messaging, and Internet user. Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal reports he experienced about 4 hours and 30 minutes of talk time; almost three hours less than the first generation phone. Also, 3G access is only available in 280 US cities. Those locations without 3G access can just switch off the 3G system and double the life of the battery while using the slower data network of the original phone. The Cost The new phone costs either $199 or $299, versus the original’s $399 or $499.  The price depends upon the amount of internal memory (storage) you choose: 8 GB (gigbaytes) or 16 GB. So you can can save as much as $200 over the original. SPrint and Samsung\'s Instinct phoneThe catch is, AT&T has raised its unlimited data access rate by $10 a month to $70 a month before taxes and fees. Additionally, there is no text messaging plan included either; that’ll be an additional $5 a month (It was free on the original phone). So you’ll pay $240 more on the two year contract than you did on the old phone, or a total of $360 more over two years if you get the text messaging plan. The Competition Hot competition is coming from Sprint and Samsung with their Instinct phone. It has many of the same features as the iPhone (looks, 3G, Internet and email, camera, video recording, touch screen) and at $129, it costs about $70 less, though it’s not likely to steal away the Apple faithful. Additional Reading:

To buy, or not to buy?  That is the question.

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