Archive for February, 2010

The tech community has been able to jailbreak just about any device, from the Xbox 360 and the PS3, to smartphones like the iPhone or Blackberry. This is normally done to get around restrictions that are put on the device. Tethering your laptop to your smartphone (this is done so that your laptop can connect through your phone to the Internet) is something that AT&T has not wanted, so they had Apple put restrictions in the iPhone OS to disable this feature. It’s the operating system that is keeping you from tethering your laptop to your iPhone, not the hardware that Apple built. jailbreak your iPhone and you can enable this feature for tethering through the iPhone’s wi-fi, bluetooth, or USB connection.

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“Throw Away” Apps on the iPhone

Apple announced that over 3 billion applications have been downloaded from its App Store. There are over 140,000 apps available to download. That is a lot of apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. There are applications available in just about any category you can think of from education, to business, to news, and even games. There are applications from the low, low price of FREE up to $100 and possibly higher. You will find your average apps linger around $5 to $10, but most are priced from $.99 and $1.99. This is the sweet spot for applications. It is what I consider to be the “Throw Away” app price range.

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Make any picture funny with the Face Melter application.

Have you ever seen those cards with the morphed dogs or cats on the front… the ones with the big eyes and wide mouth? I thought about these cards the first time I used Face Melter ($1.99) on the iPhone. It is a simple program that allows you to take a photo with the built-in camera, or an existing photo, and twist it, squish it, stretch it, and magnify it. Deform photos in just about any way you can imagine. When done, you can save it to your photo library for use as a funny MMS message, a post on Facebook, or just print it out and make a funny card.

When out at get together with friends, I’ll take pictures of different people and then morph them to look like wild characters. Using the iPhone’s two finger gestures, you can widen their eyes, pinch their nose, and stretch their mouth. Using the one finger swipe, you can move parts of the photo around… sort of like putty.  With three fingers, you can swirl parts of the photo. When you are done, tap on the save button and you have a new funny photo in your collection. There is an undo feature if you make a mistake… or just shake the iPhone to reset the picture back to normal.

This is great application to use at parties. It gets everyone laughing and you can even send them a copy of the photo with the iPhone’s email application. Check out a YouTube video of Face Melter below.

If you haven’t played a tower defense game before, now is your time to start. I just bought Plants vs. Zombies for the iPhone and thought it would be good to write something about this genre of games. If you like to play strategy type games, then tower defense (TD) games may be for you. What may look like a simple arcade game becomes more of a thinker man’s (or woman’s) type of game. You need to plan your moves, place your towers, and anticipate the next enemy who will try to break through your defenses.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself here. I need to explain tower defense games to you. The basic premise has you placing weapons, called towers, on a playing field. As the enemy tramps across the field, you want your towers to destroy them before they get to the goal. The goal may be a base on a planet they are trying to destroy, a fortress in a fantasy kingdom they want to take over, or just an exit that the enemy is trying to get through. Your towers perform different types of attacks which can be direct or area based. Some towers may affect the enemy in certain ways by slowing them down or freezing them. The enemies may be invulnerable to certain attacks, so you need to make sure you place a variety of towers on the playing field to take out what ever type of enemy may attack.

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Twitter’s Best Kept Secret

I’ve used Twitter for quite some time now and find it to be very useful. That wasn’t always the case though. The first time I went to, I was prompted with “What are you doing now?” and was asked to enter it using 140 characters or less. It didn’t really make sense. Why would I want to type in what I was doing, at that time, for thousands of people on Twitter to see in the main timeline? I’ve seen people post things about going to the movies, getting ready for work, drinking their morning coffee, and other tasks that we complete on a daily basis. Why was I going to join Twitter?

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The Apple WiiPad

The thin, light, and easy to hold iPad.

People were hyped up for the longest time before the release of the Apple iPad. Now it has officially been announced, but not released yet, and many of the same people are now complaining about it. “Why would I want an iPad when I’ve got a laptop?”; “The iPad is just a bigger iPod Touch.”; “The iPad doesn’t do enough to make it worth $500.”

Now I’ve got to remind you that the iPad is not out yet. Why does this matter? Because until it was announced it wasn’t available to application developers either. With Apple not releasing the iPad for 60 days, developers have some time to update their applications or create new applications to take advantage of the iPad’s new features.

New features? Yes, Apple just scratched the surface of what the iPad can do by showing us drop down menus, pop-up selections, and multiple panes in applications. iWorks was shown with new features not available on the iPhone or iPod Touch. Even the iPhone standard applications worked and looked better on the iPad with just an updated iPhone OS.

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The first Atari 800 hooked to a 13" color television.

I love computers. I grew up with computers. I feel I was around during the start of the home computers. I’m a big Mac fan at home but have always used PCs at work. There are just some days where we get those water cooler conversations about how much computers have advanced, how they have changed from the old days, or how we can’t even imagine living without them. I may get into some geek techno babble here (you may need a babel fish! ;-p ), but those of you who understand will enjoy it.

The first computer I ever used was an Apple II+. I was in 10th grade at the time and instantly fell in love. It may have only had a black and white display, using characters like $ and @ in place of graphics, but I knew that I wanted to make a living with computers. I thought then that computers were the way of the way of the future. For this article I want to refer to my favorite computer, the Atari 800. You can probably stick your first computer in here too.

I got my Atari 800 back in the days when it first came out. It was a powerhouse at the time with 48K of memory (upgraded from 16K), an 88K disk drive for storage (much-needed after using the cassette tape storage), and it displayed 16 colors at 320×192 pixels on my 13″ TV. I dabbled in some programming on the Atari and also enjoyed some early computer games. Hey, that was about all there was to do on a computer.

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MS Office on the Apple iPad

I saw an article today on Engadget about the possibility of Microsoft creating Office for the Apple iPad. We are talking about Microsoft Office here. Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Probably the biggest selling software suite ever on Windows and Mac OS X. What would this mean for prospective iPad users? How would this affect sales of the iPad?

Most people don’t know this, but Microsoft Word and Excel were released on the Apple Macintosh before MS Windows. Microsoft has been supporting the Mac for years and continues this support it with an end of year release of Office 2011 for the Mac. If Microsoft carries over this Office support to the iPad, this could mean even greater sales for Microsoft and a possible push of the iPad into the business and educational market.

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iPhone Rumors Galore

I’m an iPhone lover.  I’ve got to admit that right now… actually a Mac fan too. I’m always keeping up on the latest rumors about Apple products I’m interested in. Currently I’m interested in the new iPhone that we should be hearing about in the next couple of months.

I’ve checked out the Motorola Droid and the Google Nexus One. I see features in these devices that I would like to see in the next iPhone. Knowing that Steve Jobs is also keeping track of his competition, I figure he is going to have many features, of these new smart phones, in the next iPhone. You can even look at jail-broken iPhones and see features that should be in the iPhone 4G. Let’s run down some of the things that should be in the next iPhone.

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What is with some gamers online? I just finished a game of MAG (you could insert your own online game here) on the PS3. If you haven’t heard of MAG, it is basically a Call of Duty type game with up to 256 players in a match. Anyway, some of the players were really getting upset because of noobs (new players) in the game or others not following the objectives.

What really gets me is that this is just a game. It’s a video game! Some players really get too involved with the game. They get really upset when they are losing or when others aren’t playing up to their standards. They let foul words fly, they team kill others, or they just leave in the middle of the game.

What has this world come to when you can’t get online to play a “friendly” game with others who you may not know? Where is the courtesy that you see on the streets when you hear a friendly “hello” from a passerby? How do these people really act when they are in the everyday world?

I’ve put many players in their place. I put up with it for a little bit and then I turn on my mic and start giving it back to them… in an overly kind way. “You do know this is a video game, right?”; “Wow, you sure our letting this get to you.”; “Is your world going to end if you lose this game?”; “It’s just a game… It’s just a GAME… IT’S JUST A GAME!”

I’ve had a few actually calm down and apologize. Others shoot my character in the back and just keep on doing what they are doing. Some, like tonight, just leave the game in disgust.

Maybe we should all go back to playing more civil games like Uno, Scrabble, or Yahtzee! Nah, they would probably just toss the board on the floor after losing.