July 11th is the day for the iPhone 3G in Canada

The day has finally been set, so we can finally stop all the complaining about how the neighbors closest to the country who originated the iPhone can finally get the same ability to use and abuse Apple’s latest got-to-have-it. We can also stop our whining and pining for an Apple Store of our own in Vancouver so we can be sure that we don’t have to go all the way to Toronto to buy it from one of the three locations there.

Alright, so I’m still complaining, but at least I can say that it’s about time.

For those not in the know, the 2008 Apple World Wide Developers Conference kicked off today with the traditional keynote address. In all actuality, this is more like a sold out rock show that all the cool kids wanna be at. Difference is that all these “cool kids” are major tech heads that get some major kicks out of seeing what Apple has hiding up their sleeve, and you know that I’m a sucker just like the rest of them.

Before any talk of the new iPhone, I thought it was interesting that the next version of the Mac OS, 10.6, is being previewed at this conference. That’s basically all we really know, other than the rumors that the next release will be less cosmetic and more of a back end strengthening of the OS. More details in time, I’m sure.

So the iPhone 3G, on the other hand, is the huge news. So what makes it better than the original iPhone? Lots, and John Biehler has a lot more details on today’s events, even taking in the coverage as it happened at the Vancouver Apple Store.

This new iPhone is wicked, but why does the “3G” tag on the end mean anything? No, it’s not a throw back to the G3, G4, or G5 processor mumbo-jumbo of Mac days past[wiki]. This is 3G in terms of mobile phone standards[wiki]. It just means faster methods of data transfer beyond simple voice send and receive of a normal phone call.

But that’s not all. At my day job, I get a Blackberry. It’s… ok, but there are so many things about it that frustrate me. However, it’s tied to an Exchange Server, so I get all company email to it as well as contacts, appointments, tasks, etc. The new version of the iPhone operating system, “2.0”, promises to work with Exchange Servers. Combine that with a 3G network in terms of speed and the ease of use of the iPhone interface, because the limited experience I have with Rebecca’s, would make me happy not only as a consumer, but as a network administrator as well.

Of course, out of the gate, there are going to be serious elements to look at before any enterprise use is widespread, but that’s the nature of the beast. Even if Apple hits it on the head, you still have to convince the skeptics at the top of the I.T. food chain. That can be challenging, to say the least.

But there’s still more. The iPhone App Store is going to open up a whole new world in terms of what you can actually do with your iPhone 3G. Applications that you can buy to monitor network traffic, get baseball updates, or the Plum Record app that caught my eye, which is software to record audio on your iPhone. Who needs adapters when the hardware is there to record the audio and someone just needs to write the app for it to work? Potentially very cool for the podcast recording needs.

There is going to be more over the coming month to see how this all pans out. First thing to figure out is how Rogers and Fido will price the data plans for these suckers in Canada. After that, it’s just a matter of how you want to position yourself in line. Elbows out on July 11th or wait till Christmas?

Apple WWDC keynote was kind of… meh

I’m often a fan of the keynotes that Steve Jobs gives at either MacWorld Expo or the WWDC, and the one today has left me with a lot of mixed feelings. Either way, no matter what happens at these events, you expect something to wow you. Big or little, I usually feel like something cool just happened.

Today, I just didn’t get that feeling.

Ok, I am not forgetting that this is the “World Wide Developers Conference”, so these guys are concerned about hardware as much as they are the lines of code that they can manipulate and build cool software with, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of product updates and launches.

Jobs, instead, gives us a demo of the really cool features that Apple is excited about and think will be uber sweet for us, the consumers, to get our hands on… again. I mean, there were a few, new neat things announced, but we saw this same keynote in January. Left me feeling a little let down, but there were some interesting things announced today that made me chime into the “cool” vibe that Steve was touting.

The next version of Mac OS X is $129 across the board, for all flavors. Boot Camp will be built-in, so you’ll be able to run XP and Vista out of the box. A new Finder, but that gives me reason to pause in that I’ll have to relearn a few things, no biggie. Anything that helps file management and work flow is a great concept to me.

They also announced a Windows version of Safari, and I am debating with myself as to how I feel about it. As cool as Safari looks, there are elements about it that I can’t handle when it comes to making it my default browser. Maybe version 3 will change my mind, but I’m still resisting the urge to download the beta for now. Bottom line, Safari beach-balls on me too often for me to go back to it, but my mind remains constantly open.

On top of that, Apple launched a redesign to their website. It has a heavy Web 2.0 look and feel to it now, complete with fun AJAX things here and there. Looks nice.

Other than that, not too much else sticks out to me. iPhone still sounds cool, I hope it works well when it’s released, and making software for it sounds pretty easy if you are skilled at making web applications in general. I think I’d be more excited about the outcome if this new OS was coming out next month and not October, but the waiting is half the fun. Kinda.

It’s a Matt Mullenweg world

I caught this video interview that Matt Mullenweg[wiki], Mr. WordPress founder himself, did with CNet yesterday. It’s really worth watching because you get his insights as to this whole Web 2.0 revolution, of which some say is dead, and other interesting things that he’s been more or less involved with.

I especially like the part about how he developed spam filtering for WordPress because he didn’t want his mom, who suddenly decided that she wanted to start blogging one day, to get bombarded by spam. More so to the fact, Mullenweg didn’t want her getting blasted by the naughty and not so friendly stuff. Akisment was basically born out of that.

One thing that he mentioned was a tool that I was instantly interested in. Google Browser Sync for Firefox is an extension that you can install to have your browser data mirrored between every computer that you need to have synced together. Being that an iMac has been a new addition to our home collection, I have to say that I see why he endorses it. I love being able to switch from my laptop without the headache of not having all the same bookmarks on both machines, and this is far less complicated than importing them between the two. It also works for cookies and all the rest of the data you need and want.

To round out the day, WordPress 2.2 was released last night, up from the most recent version of 2.1.3. There are some decent additions to this edition that makes me pretty interested to really try it out.

  • Atom feeds updated to Atom 1.0
  • Preliminary support for Atom Publishing Protocol
  • Widgets are now supported in core
  • Protection against activating broken plugins
  • “Deactivate All Plugins” button. Sadly, my “Reactivate All Plugins” patch didn’t make it into this release. Hopefully you’ll see it in WP 2.3.
  • Improvements to comment management
  • Code optimizations and speedups
  • Future WYSIWYG support for the Safari browser
  • Post Preview moved into a popup window, rather than an iframe on the Write page
  • WordPress-specific XML-RPC API
  • JQuery support


Dang that Mullenweg. The guy has been busy.

Yahoo Mail is going googolplex

Quite often when someone asks me about getting a free email account, my response is always GMail. I don’t use its web interface very often, but watching Rebecca fly through it tells me that it’s powerful. However, it’s the storage that always made it a no brainer to me.

Well, that’s not so easy anymore. Yahoo is saying, “Limits? We don’t need no stinking limits!”

And today? Yahoo has announced that Yahoo Mail’s new limit is…well, it has no limit. You get infinite space for your e-mail. Let me repeat: infinite space. As in you can store all your e-mail. Even if you have an unlimited amount of it

The company says not all users will get limitless storage immediately–it needs time to roll this new feature out. One can only imagine: It must take awhile to buy and install an infinite number of hard disks. [pcworld]

I haven’t ventured into the Yahoo Mail realm for a long time, and when I did, it wasn’t that much time spent. For the simplicity of things, it’s worth noting for those users who are not so tech minded. If storage like this will become the norm, it’ll be more of a battle of user interface than how much junk mail you can get crammed into your email account.

And what, Hotmail is still around 100Mb for a free account? The UI there is such an eyesore, but at the Massive Technology Show yesterday, I heard people giving out their email addresses a lot. What were they? Hotmail. Yuck.

iPhone is coming to Canada, possibly sooner than later

Rogers customers rejoice. The iPhone is coming to your provider, and this might happen before Europe gets to play with them.

Rogers Wireless today announced that it will serve as the sole provider for Apple’s iPhone in Canada, according to an e-mail message sent by the company to some of its customers. Confirming early investigations, Rogers said that it alone will offer the iPhone in the country and that it was actively working with Apple to speed the launch. Wording in the e-mail may also point to a sooner than expected release, according to Electronista. Canada traditionally trails behind the U.S. by several months for high-profile phone releases, but Rogers’ email said that the iPhone will first be introduced in North America, raising the possibility that the handset may ship to Canada in advance of an expected October European launch. Rogers is closely associated with AT&T, which will be the sole provider to offer the iPhone in the U.S. [macnn]

I had a sneaking suspicion that it wouldn’t be too long after the U.S. introduction that Canada would get a shot at the iPhone. Most buzz north of the border were complaints that it would take forever for it to get here, so I hope Apple pulls through. Still not crazy to get my hands on one, but good news nonetheless. I’d much rather see an Apple Store in Vancouver first.

I’m a sucker for the Apple hoopla

For years now, I’ve been a slave to the keynotes that Steve Jobs[wiki] has been putting on nearly every six months. I think it’s safe to say that Rebecca will soon become a switcher, but that will have to wait until this freaking country says I can have a job. Let’s also hope that I won’t be making a double dip for her next birthday of multiple Apple products, but she got a good account of what it’s like on keynote day with me.

Because I know that there are other Apple heads out there who don’t follow the bleeding edge like I do, here’s the major bullet points of what was unleashed today.

  • The iPhone was officially announced; shipping in June (freaking sweet)
  • Apple Computer, Inc. will drop their middle name, now known as Apple, Inc. [macrumors]
  • iTV is to be officially known as Apple TV; shipping in Febuary
  • Paramount Pictures is now offering their catalog of movies on iTunes [macrumors]
  • Not in the keynote, but Airport Extreme with 802.11n compatibility released today

The keynote will be available for viewing on Apple’s website later today[apple]. And for the most part, this I can handle. Not pressing hard for a new cellphone right now as much as I’d like to upgrade my laptop into the Intel world. I think Rebecca will be the first one in our home to get one though. Aside from me saying that just because it’s her birthday, but she’s put up with me for this long? Yeah, I’d say that she’s deserving of some new toys.

RFID in U.S. passports are here

I guess it is not too surprising, but one would think that the era of bar codes coming into the background technology of passports would make life easier for travel. It’s a lot like shopping. Walk up to the counter, swipe it through, and you’re in. It wasn’t until a snippet on BoingBoing linked to the following article that I learned about the changes of international travel as a U.S. citizen.

How To: Disable Your Passport’s RFID Chip

All passports issued by the US State Department after January 1 will have always-on radio frequency identification chips, making it easy for officials – and hackers – to grab your personal stats. Getting paranoid about strangers slurping up your identity? Here’s what you can do about it. But be careful – tampering with a passport is punishable by 25 years in prison. Not to mention the “special” customs search, with rubber gloves. Bon voyage! [wired]

It’s not a constant tracking of your movements, but this is getting somewhat close. RFID[wiki] is how large companies, like Wal-Mart or FedEx, track shipments of materials across the expanse of their operations. Like the article says, this technology is pretty much always on. Just like GPS, you just have to have the right tools to tune in and find our where you are. Except in this case, someone can find your general location. Or at least, they can find where you lost your favorite pair of pants that you left your passport in.

I have till the end of this decade until I have to renew mine, and this really creeps me out. I wonder when someone will start selling lead-lined wallets for your passport. After 2010, I’ll become a dot on someone’s grid.

Pluggd is fixing the meta issue with podcasting

Wired published an article about Pluggd, a company that is developing new technology to search the internet, and we’re not just talking about text anymore.

Pluggd has found a way to index podcasts, talk shows and other spoken-word content. The company’s service then allows users to search the audio files for specific words.

You can try Pluggd’s word-searching demo yourself right now. Enter your search term and you’ll see mentions of your word highlighted in various colors — heatmap-style — on a timeline of the show. The redder “hot spot” areas represent denser clusters of your search term, and clicking on one will cause the player to jump straight to the discussion about your desired topic.

Rather than just reading a transcript of a conversation, you can search for a term and hear it spoken in context by the original speaker in seconds. The ramifications for podcasting and more traditional spoken-audio formats are significant, and that’s just for starters. [wired]

If they get this right, the podcasting medium stands to take a huge boost. Take a look at the demo. It gives a nice preview of the service that they are working on. I’m still picking my jaw up off the floor a little bit.

Additionally, Digg did a design overhaul to their site plus some other goodies. They’ve added support for podcasting. That basically means that the same way that you can Digg a news story or blog post, you can Digg a single episode to share with others. I’m not too sure how it works from the podcasters end, but please feel free to Digg any of the RadioZoom or The Crazy Canucks episodes. 🙂

The Skype free ride is about to end

SkypeI have been greatly enjoying the free, unlimited calls to regular phones on Skype for nearly the past year. It’s been a wonderful way to call up friends and family back in the states. The quality is pretty good, but on heavy traffic days on the internet, not so much. How are you to argue with it being free?

Enjoy it while it lasts. The free, trial period is coming to a close at the end of this month. I had hoped that Skype would just eat the bandwidth and keep it free, but that stands to not be the case.

Internet phone service provider Skype plans to start charging U.S. and Canadian users US$29.95 per year for unlimited calls to regular phones in both countries, as the end of a free trial offer looms.

Users who sign up before Jan. 31, 2007, will receive a special rate of $14.95 a year and 100 free minutes of international calling, Skype said on Wednesday. Any user wishing to continue using Skype to make calls to regular phones or mobile handsets after the free trial expires Dec. 31, but does not want a yearly plan, can pay for SkypeOut at a rate of 2.1 cents per minute for calls within the U.S. and Canada.

Computer-to-computer calls using Skype software will remain free. [macworld]

Still, that’s not a bad deal to pay that much per year for free calls between the U.S. and Canada. Naturally, there will be some people who will think that this is a load of crap. In my hometown, we used to run a free, local BBS[wiki] (yeah, remember those things from 1995?) and users flipped when they had to pay $25 a year to dial in over their modems. Sometimes you just need a little help with bills, and I could really see paying to use Skype’s service. However, I am a total sucker for free stuff.

No one and everyone is listening to podcasts

For me, podcasting is a lot like arguing over who is and isn’t listening to radio. For or against. It’s stupid, or it’s worthwhile. I get so tired of it. It’s like we’re back in 1995 and arguing over Mac vs. Windows. I learned a long time ago that it’s all a matter of preference. Whatever works for you, and you like it, then great. Go have fun. I’ll do my own thing in the meantime.

Last week, PC World wrote about how very few people in the world are listening to podcasts. Citing an article from the BCC, the numbers would tell you that this is true. And okay, I’ll buy what they are saying. The sad thing is that there will be media organizations who will look as this research and make a decision for not podcasting content. The study is there, and over paid consultants live and die by these things. In fact, PC World ended their article by asking readers if, based on this BBC article, they should do their own podcast.

Then you have an article from MacNewsWorld today. They report that the medium is doing great, but they base this off of the amount of content that is being created everyday. It’s on the rise, from amateurs to professionals alike. I also think that part of the article is just a way to advertise products for prospective podcasters, but the first portion of the post is what I’m mainly focusing on.

I lend more credit to this frame of thought. I don’t care about who is already out there that I can reach. Providing content and bringing in those who want to consume it, iPod owners or not, should be more important. If podcasting is dragged down by the name implying that you need an iPod to be apart of the fun, then use that as a marketing strategy.

Step out there and put out your content. If you can, then do it. You won’t know until you try, and you stand to bring in even more people who will check out podcasting in general.