Podcast #197

iPhone Apps for Thailand (1): A Mixed Bag; plus local and international news.

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passive bull When you hear this, I should be in the UK, so am recording some of this in Bangkok and some north of London. This week my first look at some apps for local use. Early days, I suppose.

iPhone Apps for Thailand (1): A Mixed Bag

Although I concentrate on apps with a Thai flavour today, I am getting a lot of use out of all manner of apps. Two of my current favourites are WiFiFoFum which I mentioned last week and is producing a lot of excellent data; and a simple one called White Noise, for inducing sleep. It is a bit of a misnomer as the sounds it produces, as well as White Noise, are waves on a beach, crickets chirping, fan noise, airplane, train, wind chimes, grandfather clock, rain and thunderstorm. Not all are going to make me sleep but the waves had me off in about 5 minutes.

alien I live in Bangkok which is approximately, 100 deg 32 E and 13 deg 45 N. I took some photos this week with my SLR and a placer shot with the iPhone. When I checked later, one showed the location as Sofia, Bulgaria.

Clearly I was not in Europe and wondered what would affect the signal to this great effect. I later found that this may well be a problem of the 3G network which is also used to locate devices and of course, Siam and Patumwan are areas where 3G works. Out here, I fall back on GPS which works perfectly.

I am still in two minds about Twitter and am having a sort of on/off relationship with it. I dumped it then went back for another look when AT&T used it in an emergency situation to good use; but then almost dumped it again when Oprah Winfrey joined in, bringing with her thousands of hangers-on. I was about to dump again this week when I read that Sarah Pailin was Twittering (and the CNET article gives information about who else is using the service), but then Apple put out an unusually strong article obviously in favour of Twittering and with a lot of useful ideas on its Business pages.

Apple is also making a lot of it as many of the computers used to run Twitter in its San Francisco base are Macs, and Nielsen -- the ratings company -- has a long look at the phenomenon, suggesting that the numbers quitting are a problem for long term growth.

I have to thank Dr. Smoke for that link.

Mashable, a social media site reported, via Twitter that the Nine Inch Nails app I dsiscussed a couple of weeks back had been withdrawn by Apple as a couple of naughty words could be heard on a song. I had a look and it is still on the App store, so I don't know what the outcome of this is: rumour or reality.

A less happy user of a MacBook Air was so fed up with issues he has had that he stabbed it to death with a kitchen knife, which I am pretty sure is not covered under the warranty.

What a prat.

On the other hand, guy in Yukon -- the frozen north -- found a frozen iPod classic in the snow and took it home. When he defrosted it -- very slowly I should imagine -- it started again and even displayed the correct date.

rhododendron There were lots of rumours this week about Mac price cuts. It sort of started out as a "what if" and, like the rumours surrounding the so-called pig flu, built and accelerated into something approaching a concrete idea: if that is not contradcitory. AppleInsider has the story and some of the ideas behind it.

AppleInsider also lets us have a bit of news about the 10.5.7 update which so many (including me) thought was about ready and has now disappeared, but is coming soon. Slash Lane discusses this delay in an article that starts with the news that Microsoft's Xbox strategy boss Richard Teversham is on his way to Apple. So does that mean Macs will crash with a red ring instead of that multi-language restart panel?

There was more discussion of Teversham's departure from MS in an article by Tim Ingham on MCV. He mentions that this may be something to do with education.

canal Also connected to education is a note from MacWorld's Nick Spence who reports on a company called Northgate who have signed a contract to supply Macs to the education market in the UK.

Last week we reported on the rumours that surrounded Verizon and a possible iPhone lite. Lots of debunking this week. John Gruber at Daring Fireball does a far deeper analysis than I could do and looks at the several sides of the question, including input from a number of press sources.

There are also those Netbook tales that keep appearing, but Forbes thinks it is something else. inspired by the explosion of apps on the iPhone, Apple may have been stimulated into creating a gaming machine and Forbes runs with this idea, but instead of education they think this is why Teversham has come aboard and they also cite others whom Apple has recruited. Brian Caulfield has given us an interesting read here.

Concerning the next update to the iPhone there have been a number of suggestions that Apple may bring in movie making to the device. A flash facility would also be useful. Peter Burrows in Business Week has an enthusiastic look at this.

passive guitar I love the touch and the iPhone not just for what Apple has done with it, but what others are doing, particularly with the apps. A lot are waste of time -- one download, have a look, delete -- and some are overpriced, while a lot are free, some of those that we pay for should also be at zero. I saw recently some footage of a development on a mobile phone for controlling a model car that McLaren looked at, developed and had the World Champion controlling a F1 racer round a track. Now comes information in TUAW about someone who has developed a way to control model aircraft using the iPhone. There is also footage from YouTube on the page.

I have found once or twice that in my enthusiasm for the apps I have as well as music and videos, the battery tends to sag a bit. After a few hours playing around, I might be in town and get a warning that 20% power remains. That is about enough for the trip home. Apple does have some hints on how users might get the best out of batteries on the iPhone and there are a number of pointers to economy on the page I link to.

Right now I -- I mean now, as I speak -- am in the UK and this room sounds nice for recording. There is less wifi access in this part of the UK than in Bangkok. I think I tracked down once place at the local library that will let users connect, and I am going to try that this afternoon. They close at 6pm.

old building I really do not have much luck with Cathay Pacific. A couple of years ago, coming back from San Francisco, I was allr eady tp write up ideas fresh form Macworld, but that flight had no power to the outlets in the seats I was in. This week, flying from Hong Kong to London, I was thinking of producing some of the podcast text while on the plane and, once again, the whole section was minus power. The flight attendants were full of apologies, but there was nothing they could do, so I got back to the movies.

Unlike a few years ago when we all had to watch the same screen, each seat in economy had its own mini screen with the same system as upstairs in Business Class. I started off with Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino and then went to the Cohn Brothers, No Country for Old Men. The Eastwood movie was really interesting for the way in which Clint's character empathises with the Asian families rather than his own.

I saw an article this week about a detective agency in Atlanta, GA, that uses 24 Intel iMacs, and iPhones, to market their business. Dave Merten on Macsimum News has a lengthy article explaining the development of the Agency and how the evolution to technology worked for them.

alley Things are a little disjointed this time (and maybe next too) as I put the podcast together bit by bit so that I could take my flight on Tuesday morning and then finish things in England and I have a bit more on that Nine Inch Nails story. Apparently it is the update to the app, version 1.0.3 that has some questionable content and that is the hold up.

Something in the album, The Downward Spiral, that Apple paradoxically sells through iTunes has upset someone in Cupertino, and that is why the app is delayed and also why Trent Reznor is an unhappy musician right now. The article I link to on iPodNN has a video link with Trent discussing the app. This group have done well with their use of technology and I hope this is resolved soon. The Unoffical Apple Weblog also had some comments on this and was somewhat critical of this apparent arbitrary nature when it comes to authorising apps. I also found fairly late on, a useful comment or two by James Turner at the O'Reilly website on Apple's rejection of that NIN app udate.

Another app just released this week is Cyan World's MYST for the iPhone at $5.99.

Still on iPhones, sort of, Electronista report that the largest sales in the Smartphone market at the beginning of the year were recorded by . . . Blackberry. The Curve 8300 just beat the Phone and of the top 5, 3 were from the Canadian RIM.

canal There was an update to firmware for certain iMacs this week. I saw it on Versiontracker but it is also on the Apple pages. I checked and my iMac was not one of those that needed it. It fixes intermittent system freezes for iMacs with ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics and also wake-from-sleep issues in Boot Camp.

I tried to join Twitter as a Sarah Pailin's Twitter follower, as it would be nice to get some information from the horse's mouth, but there is no one of that name known, the search engine tells me.

Now some snippets. I had done some checking of the Internet before taking my flight and looked at several possible stories. All I have in some cases are the initial ideas, but let's run with that to finish things off.

The iPhone has found that there are a lot of wifi antennas here, although most are locked, so I am using it a fair bit. I see on MacDaily News that other users of the device have some apps that are helping researchers find out about climate change. There is an app (and this is all the informatio I have for now) designed to take images and send them to academic resources at some N. Aerican universities, so the data can be studied. More on that via the link at MacDaily News.

One last point. I have several plugs and connectors brought in Asia, but all the plugs in the UK are massive three-pin plugs of a particular design, and each plug also has its own fuse. I have been to a couple of places in this small town and nowhere can I find an adapter, so some of the devices are going to be unusable. 11 days to go.



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