Mobile Lifestyle


MobileViews 5-cent review #2: NBCNews.com site redesigned by Pinterest?

nbcnews_pinterestdesign_20140205

Site: NBCNews.com website
Price: Free
What I say:
- NBC decided to launch its redesigned NBC News site a day before the first 2014 Winter Olympics competition starts
- It was, apparently, redesigned by Pinterest
- It now takes much longer to scroll through just a few news articles
- Unless you have a large display (large > 21″), you will probably have to expand your web browser to fill the screen to read this redesigned website
- Rating? 1 cent on a 5 cent scale

Mobile Lifestyle

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MobileViews Podcast 71: Net neutrality, online college courses, Windows XP on 95% of ATMs

In MobileViews Podcast 71 Todd Ogasawara and Jon Westfall discuss (and debate):
- Net Neutrality
- Online college courses
- Note the finding that Windows XP is on 95% of ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines).

Microsoft
Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle
podcast

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Under review: ibattz portable USB charger pack

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I brought in a portable USB battery charger into the office today. It can charge larger devices like tablets and has two USB charging ports.

More later…

Gadgets
Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle

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How to protect yourself from rogue USB ports


Mobile Lifestyle

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Google Play All Access – No access if you have an iOS device

gmusic_allaccess_20130515Google added subscription streaming to its cloud music player. Everyone compares it to mindshare leader Spotify. But, it is much closer to Microsoft’s Zune Market (now named Xbox Music). Like Microsoft’s offering you can buy music and, optionally, pay for the ability to stream from a large music collection. There is no free ad-supported option like Spotify.

Just as Microsoft focuses its music service to its own platforms, Google Play All Access only supports Android in the mobile world. Its web-based interface works across desktop platforms as well as Windows RT, however. The lack of an iOS app is a big limitation for me. It would be nice to be able to stream music to an iPhone or iPad. And, the web interface for the desktop needs a bit of work in its navigation interface.

If, however, you have an Android device, update the Play Music app to be able to stream from the All Access service. Google provides a free 30-day trial. And, if you start the trial and opt to pay for the service before June 30, 2013, the monthly recurring fee will be $7.99 instead of the regular $9.99. There is no indication how long this reduced price will be in effect.

The Android Play Music app provides a sparse but usable interface. Its Explore option will show you recommended, featured, and new music lists. You can also explore by music genres. I didn’t find this feature particularly useful. And, it seemed especially weak in the world music category. But, it might just be a learning curve issue. One thing to pay attention to is the apps settings. I recommend limiting it to WiFi-only (see screenshot) until you learn more about how the app operates. I found, for example, that it downloaded over 250MB of data while testing it. One factor is the “Add to Library” downloads, for example, an entire album. Just remember that a “library” is different from a “playlist.”

My initial opinion is that Spotify’s Windows software (I haven’t tried the Mac OS X version) is easier to than Google Music’s web interface. Spotify’s UI makes it easier to search for music, discover related music, create playlists, and, in general, simply play music.

In a post-June 30 world where both Spotify and Google Play All Access will cost $9.99 per month, I think Spotify’s support for iOS devices and better desktop interface wins. Oh, and one more thing… Google Play All Access only lets you share music on Google+. If your friends are on Facebook (along with hundreds of millions of other people), that is just too bad. Google’s current social strategy feels very 1990s AOL walled garden-like to me.

Android
Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle

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Fitbit milestones: 5000+ miles & 11+ million steps

fitbit_5kmiles_badge

Happy to say I passed two Fitbit milestones in the past couple of days.

1. 5000 miles
2. 11,000,000 steps

fitbit_11m_steps

Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle

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I miss the Fail Whale. Don’t like the new Twitter mutant

twitter_nowhale_20130413

Saw this for the first time this morning. What the heck is this Twitter mutant thing? I miss the old Fail Whale.

Mobile Lifestyle

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Fender USB Stratocaster Guitar: Broken oddball cable connector

fender_usbstat_HA153The Squier by Fender USB Stratocaster Guitar is unique among Fender’s legendary guitar series for a couple of reasons:

1. It has a USB interface that lets it work with the iPad and iPhone.
2. It is only available through the Apple Store.
3. It has an oddball Apple 30-pin connector to mini-USB connector cable.

This last item has caused a bit of grief for a good friend of mine who is notorious for taking meticulous good care of his gear. This is the only 30-pin to mini-USB cable I’ve ever seen. So, if it breaks, it is difficult to replace (aside from using a Rube Goldberg collection of adapter cables). And, break is exactly what it did for my friend. You can see his photo below. The mini-USB connector completely disengaged from the cable.

Fender no longer even features a product page for the guitar. So, one has to wonder what is going on there. However, it is still listed as available through the Apple Store. So, my friend’s next step is to contact Apple and Fender to see if:

(a) This cable breakage is covered by some kind of warranty since the guitar was only introduced in November 2012 and my friend bought his a few months after that.
(b) If a replacement cable can be found anywhere.

fenderusb_sy_2

Apple
iPad
iPhone
Mobile Lifestyle

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Fitbit: 10 million steps, 9000 floors climbed (so far)

fitbit_steps_130130_10m

I passed 10 million steps on my Fitbit today. And, it looks like I passed 9000 floors climbed about two days ago.

fitbit_stairs_130130

Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle

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Woo! Passed 4000 miles on my fitbit

Noticed I passed the 4000 mile mark on my fitbit today. And, I’m closing in on 9 million steps and 7000 floors (stair flights).

I’ve logged these numbers using the original fitbit and the fitbit ultra. I’m giving a lot of thought to buying a fitbit One which has the ability to sync with iOS devices.

Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle

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New T-Mobile unlimited data plan does not include tethering

The new T-Mobile unlimited 4G data plan that starts on September 5 appears like a great deal for $20 or $30 a month when paired with a matching voice plan.

However, if you want to tether a WiFi device to your T-Mobile 4G phone, you should be aware that the new unlimited plan does not include tethering. In fact, you need to fall back to one of the existing 3G/4G plans if you plan to tether. The good news is that tethering is available at no extra cost with the current limited 3G/4G plans. Here’s what T-Mobile USA’s public relations firm told me when I asked about tethering and the new unlimited plan.

No, the Unlimited Nationwide 4G plans don’t allow tethering. Customers who want to connect multiple devices to one data plan can opt for one of T-Mobile’s existing 5GB or 10GB Classic or Value plans, which include the Smartphone Mobile HotSpot (tethering) feature at no additional charge.

Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle

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8,000,000+ steps on my Fitbit

I just passed the 8 million step mark on my Fitbit activity monitor (3622 miles). I also just passed the 5500 floor mark (5510 and, uh, climbing). The total step mark is based on using both the original Fitbit and, later, the second generation Fitbit Ultra. Only the Ultra model measures floor counts.

Mobile Devices
Mobile Lifestyle

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