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Archive for August, 2008

The HTC “Dream” is one butt-ugly device

August 31, 2008 5 comments

I mean, come on. What a great way to dig yourself into a hole by nicknaming your device “DREAM”. I’ve been following along on all the details as best as possible and am excited to see that Android will have a home in a few weeks.

But if there is ONE thing that HTC knows how to do (HTC, btw, stands for the cartoonish name High Tech Corporation), it is building devices that look and act like they were designed and manufactured by chumps. I owned an HTC device that ran Windows Mobile a few months ago. It was AWFUl. The slider is hard to operate. The keys are a bitch to operate. When you try to type with the slider out, you’re always afraid that the device is going to fall out of your hands. The fat slider, the four stupid buttons at the bottom, the standard T-Mobile co-branding at the top.

Sounds awful lot like business as usual, no? Where is the iPhone-like hardware disruption? Check out these stealth photos for yourself: http://www.engadget.com/photos/htcs-android-driven-dream-revealed-in-glorious-spy-photos/1008301/

Categories: reviews, tech Tags: , ,

Great literature on iPhone? You bet!

August 25, 2008 Leave a comment

All iPhone fan boys love trolling for new and interesting apps. So do I – and I am now reading “Great Expectations” on my phone. Dickens may have just rolled over in his grave – please accept my compliments on the tome, Chuckie D. Solid, solid work.

Over the last few months, iPhone has really trained me to read on a small screen. As long as I can zoom in and really bury my face in the device, no problem. I mean, I’d be crashing into street lights and mailboxes while walking around *anyways* – I may as well read and learn something interesting while risking personal injry and looking like a jackass.

This is why I was so excited when I came across the “Books” category in App Store. While its selection is NOWHERE near what you’d find if you purchased a Kindle, it contains a small but powerful set of books that are generally accepted to be great literature. My guess is, the copyright on those titles has run out so you don’t have to deal with pesky-ass publishers if you are the guy developing the app.

Reading Great Expectations has been a lot of fun so far. And I always have it with me, in my pocket. Yay! The part that sucks is that the developer should have made it easy to look up terms in a dictionary. It is just too damn painful to find an obscure word, kill the app, go to browser and look up dictionary.com. Boo!!

But overall, well worth the 2 duckets.

Categories: apple, life, tech Tags: , ,

On iPhone 2.0, Shazam and the future of music

August 8, 2008 2 comments
Shazam!

Shazam!

Like every other Valley Apple fan boy, I’ve been spending lots of time downloading, discussing and evangelizing iPhone apps.

My favorite app right now, bar none, is Shazam. I cannot believe that the list of fawning servile fans of this app is so small, but let me be the first in line. Not only is the app usable and ridiculously useful, IMHO it points to something the music industry should have been working on for a long time.

What is Shazam? its an app that you install on your cellphone and run whenever you come across a track that you can’t recognize (which happens ALL the time to most of us at the gym, the car radio, and if you are a major Kenny G fan, in elevators). Once the app “listens” to a few seconds of the song, it sends the audio fingerprint up to the server and figures out the actual song and sends it down to the device. You can then proceed to purchase the track (at least on the iPhone you can) or watch a YouTube video.

This is great, but it is rendered more powerful by the iTunes model of music. Several commentators smarter than me have commented on how the album – a collection of songs sold as a whole – is still a valid form of music retail.

Based upon my personal behavior over the last 2 years, I call bullshit.

Purchasing music now is like purchasing a stick of gum while standing in line at Safeway. Or the National Enquirer if you want to be trashy about it. In other words, music purchases are starting to be impulse buys. You hear a great track, you WANT TO BUY IT RIGHT THERE. Given the low price point of 99 cents, you don’t think twice about making a purchase RIGHT NOW.

This impulse has been around since iTunes started to take off but its been dormant. I hear a great track on Entourage, I have to do the heavy lifting of remembering the stupid lyric, Googling the lyric (game over right there), finding the track on iTunes and then paying 99 cents for the privilege. Uhh, no thanks.

On the other hand, Shazam greases that impulse better than anything out there on the market right now. Plus, it retails for FREE via the appStore.

What’s not to love??

Categories: apple, life, reviews, tech Tags: , , ,

More things that piss me off about Google Knol

August 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Okay, I’m pissed because I care. Or something like that.

You see, as a purveyor of fine health information, it is my job, nay, my calling, to wade through the trenches of health websites. There’s good ones (WebMD, Mayo, NIH sites, etc.) and then there’s the really bad content (don’t even get me started).

That’s why I was giddy like a 13 year old going to see Hannah Montana when I first previewed Google Knol. Seeded with a few hundred health topics written by physicians, the content quality and depth is unbelievable. It puts Wikipedia to shame. It puts everything else out there to shame.

Only problem? Doctors write when actively courted by Google (who doesn’t love a little love from our overlords?); they probably stop writing when they find that the AdSense ads surrounding their content monetize at 10 dollars a year.

Yeah. Doctors are people too, and sometimes wretchedly money-grubbing people. Fair enough.

So to really measure Google Knol’s quality since takeoff last week, we need a better way to navigate and access the site.

  • What were the last five (or five hundred) Knols created? If they were about how to sell snake oil as opposed to medical topics, uh, I’d kinda like to know so I don’t syndicate that.
  • How many Knols exist overall? Note that Wikipedia provides a pretty easy way to get to that number. Its called a full database dump and my company Kosmix uses it. Knol? Umm no. Evil much??
  • Nav for the site is pretty retarded. I mean, look at this: http://knol.google.com/k/knol/directory-000#. Where is the categorization?
  • Good Lord, there isn’t even a way to SORT the goddamn link above!!!
  • Final offense: the title says “Collection of Featured Knols”. That means that the tip of the iceberg could be shiny and pretty while the rest of the iceberg is trying to sell me Viagra on the cheap. Come on, Knol, stand behind your product!
Categories: silicon valley, snarky, tech Tags: , ,