On March 21 Apple sent email to podcasters publishing through iTunes telling them that they need to provide new cover art that conforms to the new 1400×1400 pixel format (JPEG or PNG). So, my old ugly MobileViews cover art has been replaced by this new ugly cover art. The new cover art reflects that this one podcast stream hosts both the MobileViews and ComicsViews podcasts.
The 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.
The Verge reported that the wireless inductive charger accessory for the Nexus 4 (which became widely available just recently itself) is now available for $59.99. I was giving it some thought as a possible purchase when I remembered that I had an Energizer Qi-Enabled 3 Position Inductive Charger (Amazon link) that I used tested with an iPhone 3G a couple of years ago. The Nexus 4 also uses the Qi wireless charging technology. So, it seemed like it should charge using the Energizer product.
Initial testing indicates that it does. Placing the Nexus 4 (in a case) on top of one of the two Energizer Qi pad’s charging areas started charging the phone after waiting a few seconds. You can see in the photo above that the Nexus 4 indicates it is, in fact, being charged while sitting on the Energizer Qi pad. The current Amazon price of the Energizer Qi pad is $68.24. So, it is $8.25 more than the custom dock for the Nexus 4. However, it can charge two Qi devices at the same time. And, it is not limited to the Nexus 4 form factor.
Disclosure: Energizer provided the charger, a charger case for a BlackBerry, and a charger case for an iPhone 3G for evaluation.
In MobileViews Podcast 61, Todd Ogasawara, Jay Stone, and Emil Reyes (none of who claim any expertise in investment) wonder aloud and speculate about the steep multi-month decline in Apple’s stock price. It closed at $702/share on September 19, 2012. And, its share price on January 25, 2013 was $439.88. That is a $262 price drop in four months for a 37% loss of value.
FYI: Emil runs a 3D printing design business. You can find some of his recent work here:
Microsoft released free apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone to request help or offer help (in a variety of ways).
The HelpBridge mobile application simplifies the process of notifying loved ones by simultaneously sending an e-mail and SMS to the communities you select & posting a message to your Facebook wall. You can even include your GPS coordinates so that message recipients will know where you are and the circumstances surrounding you.
The apps are named HelpBridge.
It took over
a year 7 months but Android Jelly Bean (the 4.1.1 version, not the 4.2 new flavor) finally appeared for my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet.
4.1 includes Google Now but does not include 4.2′s Multi-user, Daydream, or Photo Sphere. And, while the 4.1 update does not include 4.2′s Gesture Typing, Samsung added a gesture typing feature to its proprietary Samsung keyboard. This feature is turned off by default.
Samsung retired its handy screenshot applet in favor of the less handy but standard screenshot (press Power + Reduce Volume buttons simultaneously) function introduced in Jelly Bean.
Jelly Bean (4.1) feels fast and smooth on the Tab 2 7.0 so far. And, it is good to finally have a stable Google Play apps update function. Google play frequently stalled and froze in Ice Cream Sandwich and required forced Android restarts to get a series of apps updates completed.
Earlier today Amazon announced their free CD AutoRip service that places some of the CDs you’ve bought over the years automatically in the Amazon Cloud for streaming to your desktop or mobile device. If you have an Android or iOS device, you can download a free player to play these automatically ripped songs. But, what if you have a Windows RT tablet like the Surface?
In that case, just open up the IE10 browser and point it to the Amazon Cloud Player just as you would on a desktop or notebook computer. The IE10 browser will play it just fine on the Microsoft Surface tablet running Windows RT.
News Bento for Windows 8/RT is a simple news aggregation app that is easy to navigate and presents news items from a variety of sources in a clean view. And, yes, it is free.
Bento lets you select news feeds from a variety of well-known news sources and blogs. The app can also draw any or all the RSS feeds you might collect in Google Reader to let you personalize the news collection even more. While it does not have a way to deal with your Facebook, Google+, or Twitter sources, it is as close you can get to a Flipboard experience on a Windows 8 or RT device. I don’t think it is a stretch to say it may be one of the most useful third party apps available for the Metro UI on Windows 8 or RT.
Microsoft launched a version of its MSN website optimized for IE10 on Windows 8/RT today (Jan. 8, 2013). Most site redesigns are ho-hum at best. But, this version specifically for Windows 8 is a marked improvement over what we see in other versions of Windows and IE.
The most notable aspect of this redesigned site, however, is that it does NOT use the awful horizontal scrolling used by almost every other site and app for Windows 8. This Metro design affectation works fine for Windows Phone where the horizontal scrolling permits a sliding view into a larger window. But, this is completely unnecessary on a device like a tablet or notebook PC that actually has a relatively large display. Fortunately, MSN.com scrolls vertically Windows 8/RT. This makes for a pleasant navigation experience on a nice clean site design.
I’ve been using my Microsoft Surface with Windows RT daily since getting it in October. So, I’m no Windows RT hater. But, I will readily admit that the Windows RT app story is terrible. There aren’t very many apps for the platform. And, many of the ones that are available are terrible. This is even the case for some major developers who have produced very good apps for other mobile platforms like iOS and Android. However, I’ll return to these offenders (*cough* Evernote *cough* comiXology *cough*) in a future post.
This first featured Windows RT app, however, is a pretty good one. It is the free Netflix app. The user interface (UI) for the Windows RT version is usable and nearly as good as the apps for iOS and Android. It does, however, have two relatively minor issues:
1. It sometimes stutters during playback where the iOS and Android versions do not (same network)
2. Starting or resuming a video consistently results in the audio starting before video is visible
These issues aside, the app deserves the 4-star user rating (out of possible 5) given it by 48061 users (as of Jan. 7, 2013).
I’ve spent a full two months using the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT (check out my review of it on BYTE linked below). The tablet is still something I carry and use daily. However, while the Touch Cover I bought with it is “usable,” it is not optimal. After two months I still make a lot of typos that don’t occur when using a “real” keyboard. So, I bit the bullet and spent another $130 to buy the Type Cover for the Surface. It arrived this afternoon (Christmas Eve 2012). It is far too early to pass a judgement. However, I can say it feels better than the Touch Cover and the number of typos is much less using the Type Cover.