Archive for September, 2010

The Mac|Life Show – Live: Episode .75


Welcome to The Mac|Life Show–LIVE AND IN PERSON!!!

Instead of creating a show based on what we think you want, we’ve decided to create a show with you. Your input is important for the show and we’ll be adjusting the format of it based on what we learn from these first episodes and your feedback. If you can’t watch the live stream, don’t worry, we’ll post the video in this article when we’re done.

To share your ideas with us before, during, and after the live show, you can contact us via Twitter, Facebook or email us.

The live stream is also available on Ustream.



Mac Museum Of New Jersey Up For Sale

Sooner or later, everything ends up on eBay.  A human kidney? Check. A walk-on part in an Ally McBeal episode? Check. A grilled cheese sandwich with the face of the Virgin Mary scorched onto the bread? Check. The Mac Museum of Franklin Park, New Jersey? You’d better believe it. That’s right: The private museum’s collection of insanely awesome Apple memorabilia is up for grabs on the venerable auction site. What could be better?

The seller–ralph122162–is choosing to pass along his collection of over 20 vintage Macintosh computers, some awesome old school peripherals and great collection of Apple memorabilia due to a desire to move into new digs that simply won’t accommodate the museum’s sizable collection. Some of the cooler items up on the auction block include a 20th Anniversary Macintosh, a stealthy Macintosh IIci with TEMPEST, a Macintosh 128k, and even a Macintosh TV!

There’s just one catch: If you want to get your Apple-coveting meat hooks on one of the museum’s relics, you’ve got to put your hands on all of the relics as ralph122162 isn’t keen on the notion of splitting the collection up. However, if you can get past that minor detail, an impressive collection of Apple computing history could be yours in the very near future. 


Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.



Tango Dances Its Way Into App Store with Mobile Video Calling

Tango website

If you don’t have any friends with a FaceTime-equipped device but still want to enjoy mobile video calling, there’s a new option that’s just hit the App Store in the form of Tango, available for both iOS as well as Android.

All Things Digital’s Walt Mossberg devoted this week’s Personal Technology column to the just-released Tango app, which provides free video calling between iOS and Android devices in the same style as Apple’s own FaceTime.

After installing the Tango app, a simple registration is required (involving only your cell phone number, name and e-mail address) and once you allow the app to search your address book, it will find any friends who are already registered for the service and add them to your Tango Contacts. Given that the service is so new, you’ll likely come up with a blank Contacts list to start, but once you tap on the Invite tab, you can quickly invite others to join the party via e-mail or SMS.

So how does it work? “In my tests, Tango worked as promised, and was simple to use,” Mossberg reveals. “But the quality of its video calls was uneven, and only a few of my calls matched my best experiences with FaceTime, which, while hardly perfect, was better. Video froze or stuttered too often for my taste, and will have to become more reliable for me to recommend the service for important or frequent use.”

Mossberg is quick to note that despite its quirks, Tango is worth giving a try, since unlike FaceTime, the service is cross-platform (iOS and Android), works over both Wi-Fi and 3G and even runs on the older iPhone 3GS, which Apple’s own solution certainly does not. The tech guru also found the service easier to use than competitors like fring or Qik, particularly since Tango uses your mobile number to connect with other users rather than some arcane login name that you friends and family may not know.

While Mossberg previewed the Tango app on Wednesday, it became available to the public on Thursday and the free 5.4MB download is now live on the App Store. Tango requires iOS 4.0 or later and is compatible only with the iPhone at this time.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Steve Jobs to Build Himself a Spankin' New iHouse

Click image to embiggen.

Steve Jobs now has the approval needed to tear down his 17,000 square-foot historic mansion, which once belonged to copper baron Daniel Jackling. In its place, he will build a new house–dare we call it, iHouse–that is somewhat modest for a billionaire technology CEO. Costing .45 million dollars, the 4,910 square-foot house will feature five bedrooms and plenty of windows and decks.

Gizmodo was able to retrieve the drawings for the house, which shows the overall design and location of each room, deck and garage space. The house will be built on the same six acre area as the soon-to-be demolished Jackling estate, and will feature lighted stone walkways, a private vegetable garden, and a three car garage.

The drawings show that Apple’s CEO has clearly thought through exactly what he wanted in a house, and has designed it accordingly.

Gizmodo consulted an environmental psychologist to find out what she thought about the design choices of Steve Jobs. “Based on these [drawings]… I would say Steve Jobs and his family are quite comfortable in their own skins and not out to prove anything to anyone,” said Sally Augustin. “They have assessed what they need in a home, and will have it built.”

You can read the full details about Steve’s new home as well as see more drawings on Gizmodo.


Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter.




Do Away With Web Ads–Arcade Style!

The internet can be a frustrating place for the consuming public: it’s so full of web ads, popups, poor site design and tasteless humor, that sometimes it’s tempting to just turn the computer off in favor of going outside to experience real life. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of Github user Erik Rothoff,  the world needn’t resort to such draconian tactics such as exposing oneself to sunlight or reading a book. Thanks to his genius-level coding performance, that which vexes you during your forays into the digital world can be shot at, fragged and done away with.

Rothoff’s contribution to the world’s stockpile of awesome is a JavaScript applet that unleashes an angry flying wedge spaceship, à la Asteroids, on offensive web content.

What’s offensive?

Anything–everything! Just aim your weaponized triangle at what ever you want fragged, tap your spacebar (shouting pew-pew-pew in time with your keystrokes, of course) and watch as that which rubbed you the wrong way is in turn rubbed out in a shower of vector graphic sparks and debris.

What could be better? We’ll tell you what: Nothing.

Rothoff’s special brand of web-content carnage is compatible with every site we tried it on and demands to be used by everyone in the universe with computer access. So, what are you waiting for? Run on over to Github and get some!

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.



iFixit Cracks Open the New Apple TV, Photos Galore

Apple TV 2nd generation teardown
(Images courtesy of iFixit)

While some of us are still waiting for the FedEx truck to arrive with our new toy (er… Apple TV), others have been lucky enough to score theirs already, including the cats over at iFixit, who have taken their precision scalpels to the little black box and have the photos to prove it.

iFixit has completed a teardown of the new second-generation Apple TV
, barely on store shelves yet and with many preorders still jetting around the country en route from China. So what did they find?

In addition to that which is already known — namely that the little box contains HDMI, optical digital audio, Ethernet and Micro USB ports in addition to an internal power supply (yay!) — the new Apple TV draws only 20 percent of the power used by a Mac mini. That should provide some joy to your electric bill, and maybe even the tree-hugging environmentalists as well.

Like the previous Apple TV, there are no outside visible screws to be had — the iFixit team had to make a go of it with metal spudgers to pry the case apart, which wasn’t a heart-pounding nightmare after all. After removing a thermal pad and a few #1 Phillips screws, it appears there may actually be a standard dock connector inside as pictured here — though what, if any, use it may have remains unknown.

Apple TV 2nd generation dock connector?

The most exciting find with the new Apple TV is a Samsung K9LCG08U1M NAND Flash chip, which means the ATV box is equipped with 8GB of RAM. That should come as good news to those already planning to jailbreak the box and possibly add custom apps to it, since 8GB of storage should be more than sufficient for the iOS 4.1 running the box, a buffer to stream HD video and plenty of extra space to spare — particularly when the competing Roku streamer box gets the job done with a paltry 64MB.

Apple TV 2nd generation 8GB RAM

The real question is, can the average user service the new ATV by themselves? “We awarded the 2nd generation Apple TV a coveted Repairability Score of 8 / 10 due to its ease of disassembly, minuscule power consumption, and highly recyclable construction,” iFixit notes, with a 10 being the easiest to repair.

Apple TV 2nd generation open

Now where’s that doggone FedEx driver? Our spudgers are getting twitchy! In the meantime, check out all of the photos at iFixit’s website

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Game Center Badges Coming to iOS 4.2

Figuring out which games are available for Game Center can be tough. Fortunately, Game Center compatbility-badges are coming to the App Store in iOS 4.2, so you’ll know exactly which games offer Game Center achievements while you’re shopping around.

Well, this will certainly make things a bit easier.

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.


Chinese iPhone 4 Comes with Crippled Maps App

Chinese Google Maps altered
(Images courtesy of Ogle Earth)

By all accounts, the iPhone 4 launch in China last weekend was an unqualified success — but there appears to be at least one element of the new device that is disturbingly crippled.

Ogle Earth is reporting that a new iPhone 4 officially purchased in China comes with “an aggravating quirk” in the Maps app: It appears to be hard-wired to Google Maps’ censored data for the Chinese government, with an altered version of the country’s borders.

As you can see in the screen capture above, the “quirk” means that the Chinese government can essentially claim disputed territory as their own — in this case the Arunachal Pradesh region which is currently under dispute by China and neighboring India (as seen in the second image below). Despite the fact that the region is presently administered by India, on the Chinese version of Google Maps, it’s clearly part of China.

Chinese Google Maps unalteredIt turns out that the same quirk existed with the previous iPhone 3GS, where Google Maps has a censored dataset for the Chinese government. However, one could get around that problem by going online with a VPN, which then show the correct map and properly displayed Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed region.

So how is the new Chinese iPhone 4 different? Apparently Google Maps is now hardwired to the device somehow, meaning the censored map data appears whether you’re using a VPN or not.

The real question now is, did Apple voluntarily allow the Chinese government to cripple its Maps app in order to appease the powers that be? It wouldn’t be the first time Cupertino has had to do so — as Ogle Earth notes, the original iPhone in Egypt had the GPS receiver removed entirely to comply with a local ban, and most everyone knows that the first Chinese iPhone 3GS was released without Wi-Fi to get around restrictions there.

Turns out that there is a way around the crippled Maps issue: “I’ve now buried the Maps app in an obscure folder, and instead replaced the icon with a direct link to, whose mobile-enabled mapping template is just great,” Ogle Earth writes. “Compared with Apple’s app, it serves up a reality-based map in China even without VPN, has much better search (with suggestions) and content such as Wikipedia and Panoramio photos. (Directions are lacking the mobile version, though.)”

Ogle Earth also suggests using Google Earth, “which looks simply awesome on the iPhone 4’s screen.”

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Amazon Kindle Invasion Continues Onto the Web

Kindle for the Web

You’ve probably already got Amazon’s Kindle app on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, or maybe your Android or Blackberry device or even your Mac or Windows computer. Heck, maybe you even have a real, live hardware Kindle! But Amazon isn’t content with stopping there, and now they’ve introduced (drum roll, please) Kindle for the Web — well, sort of.

TechCrunch is reporting that Amazon has debuted Kindle for the Web on Tuesday, which makes the leap from a dedicated hardware device or software app and attempts to push Kindle e-book purchases to your web browser as well, by way of “the first one’s free” e-book samples.

The idea behind Kindle for the Web is a pretty smart one: Website publishers and bloggers who utilize the Amazon Associates Program can use Kindle for the Web to embed e-book samples on their websites and earn referral fees from Amazon when customers actually purchase the e-book using their links.

Amazon has long offered the ability to read the first chapter of most any book for free, but that required pushing the sample to your Kindle or software app — now you have the option to read the sample right inside your web browser, complete with the ability to change the font size, line spacing or background color, and of course, to click that “Buy Now” button to seal the deal. If you think your friends or family might be interested as well, you can click a button to share the sample with them or easily embed it right into your own website.

Like most anything that sounds too good to be true, there’s a catch: Kindle for the Web currently only works with book samples and not full e-books, meaning you won’t want to delete that Kindle software from your Mac or iOS device just yet. However, this should go a long way toward helping folks quickly find the book they want and snare a new purchase.

Below is a sample of how a Kindle for the Web sample looks.

Kindle for the Web sample page

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Podcast #160: Apple TV Shipping and Smartphone Display Science

Apple released the Apple TV IPSW yesterday and the hackers have already jailbroken it. Robbie wonders if Apple might be watching the jailbreaking community to see what features its regular users might like.

Eric Schmidt scares us with his vision of cars. The Retina Display is pitted against other smartphone displays and the Remote app gets updated just in time for the Apple TV.

Plus, we answer your hard-hitting Facebook and Twitter questions.

This week’s Battlestar Applactica picks:

Birdbrain – .99


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