Otterbox Defender Case for iPhone

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Otterbox is known for their high quality cases. They have many series of cases, each with their own level of protection, and here I have the series that boasts highest level of ruggedness, the Defender Series (for iPhone).

This case takes heavy duty to a new level. It features multiple layers of protection, starting with a silicone layer the outside, a hard shell inside, then in that soft felt against the phone itself.

In addition to the shock protection, it has rubber plugs to keep dust out of the ports, and has plastic protection over the screen, camera(s), and apple logo in the back (a stylish touch I guess).

Unlike other cases, the plastic protection over the screen isn’t adhesive. The screen protector is actually part of the case. This is definitely very cool (so if you don’t want the case on it then the screen protector comes off too), but there is a downside. If you have scratched up the screen cover and want a new one, then you have to get a new/different case.

Also, if you get dirt on any of the camera protectors, then you can see a bit of a haze over the camera. Yes, this can be solved by simply wiping off the cover, but this is bittersweet. The camera itself ends up being more protected against dirt and scratches, but when you get the cover dirty/scratched you can see the results in your pictures/video.

So who is this case for? I’d think that this case would be for the people who really handle their device harshly. If you’re a construction worker and drop this off a roof, then whoops! The phone should be fine. This is great if construction workers want to have a fancy expensive smartphone but don’t want to replace it all the time because it’s broken.

This is also good for those clutzes who tend to drop their phone all the time. If you don’t drop your phone that much at all, then you might want to go with the commuter series, which still offers good protection but has a little bit more style. But this case seems to be up for some of the worst conditions someone could throw at it.

But I have a droid! Or a Nokia! and I don’t like black! I want pink! No I want blue! No red!

Calm down internetgoer, there’s hope. Otterbox sells this case for a large range of models in many different colors.

The case sells online for $50, which seems a bit excessive but you’re getting protection that’s worth the price.

Otterbox Defender Homepage

Defender for iPhone

Speck SeeThru Case

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We have cases for our phones, iPods, and tablets. But your laptop shouldn’t go unprotected either!

The Speck SeeThru Case is one of the only hard cases for macs that doesn’t limit the range of motion of your lid. Many other different cases will limit the range and not allow you to open the lid of your computer fully, but not this one.

The Speck SeeThru Case is a hard plastic that is totally see thru. This is really cool because you can hardly tell that the case is on the computer, but you still have your computer totally protected.

The case secures to the MacBook by a few small clips that clip over the side. Removing it is a little bit of a pain but lets hope that you don’t have to do that very often. The packaging recommends that you remove it fairly often and clean off the case and the laptop but I think it’s only necessary when you can visibly see debris build up.

But what does the case protect from? Unfortunately, a case that protects a six pound computer from a drop from four feet would be quite bulky. However this case does a great job of protecting the computer from scuffs and scratches, which is a nice assurance.

I have also noticed a problem when it comes to heating. Having a big piece of plastic across the bottom of the computer tends to interrupt the cooling flow, even if it doesn’t get in the way of the vents. On the bottom piece of the case there is a space where it has many holes in it (I’d think it would be over the processor) but that doesn’t provide too much space for the air to flow.

The SeeThru Case is a great protective case that can cover a lot of your computer and still allow easy access to all of the features. And although it has a little bit of a heating problem, the amount of protection that it provides is well worth it (especially if you are on a flat surface).

The case sells for about $49.95 and you can find it here.

Macworld 2011: That’s it?

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Don’t criticize me, I know MacWorld isn’t over. But it is for me.

It took me about two hours to browse the whole showroom floor and check out about a quarter of the booths. I got a bag full of stuff and a nice new keyboard cover.
But it was a shock when we were done in that hall and we walked out to figure out that we had just seen all of MacWorld. That was it! One hall with less than 240 booths in total. That’s all of MacWorld 2011!
CES was a little bit bigger. First of all, each hall was twice the size. Second of all, there were three halls, two of which had second stories. I didn’t even cover the whole thing in three days!
As unfortunate as it is, I fear that MacWorld is slowly dying. With the lack of Apple’s presence the expo is less appealing, and slowly but surely it is getting smaller and smaller. I predict that in four years macworld will be not much more than a street corner.

But we did see some fairly cool stuff. I got to play around with the smart boards (they had a show special for $6500, ya right), and I bought a keyboard skin that has the shortcuts for photoshop. I saw some cool customizable hard cases (one of which I might get online that would have the GMG logo) and I also got to see some of propellerhead’s cool software.

So while some of the things at MacWorld were cool, it is getting smaller and smaller by the year. Last year was a bit of a disappointment, so I wasn’t too excited this year. Just as I predicted, this wasn’t that amazing of a show.

Android vs. iPhone

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Android and iPhone have always been one of the biggest disputes in the technology world ever since Mac vs. PC (which still isn’t decided). There are many factors to which makes one better, and with the iPhone soon on verizon, network coverage and carrier subscriptions are no longer some of them.

Why iPhone is better than Android

Lets start out with the iPhone.

The iPhone is made by one vendor, Apple. Apple does everything that has to do with the device: sells it, supports it, updates it, designs it, authorizes apps, etc.

And this allows for a kind of unity that is not found on android devices.

On iPhones, almost 80% of the users are updated to the latest version. Which means that if you develop and app that requires the latest verson of iOS, then 80% of all iPhone users can download it. Also, the updating system is flawless. All of your media, apps, mail, etc. can be synced over a single app on your Mac or PC that you can download for free. In addition to all that, you can also install software updates with the click of a button when prompted. And because apple all works as one system, when the update is available to one iPhone, it’s available to the rest.

With android, things are different. Very very VERY few are updated to the latest version, mostly because there are so many different android phones on so many different vendors that only some of the vendors update some of the phones some of the time. So if you develop an app for only one of the versions of android, few people are going to be able to use it. Some people are still on android 1.5! And if you develop an app for the newest version, same thing. There’s always going to be many users that aren’t able to use your freshly developed application.

In addition, androids have a much  bigger learning curve. To do advanced things like install new unofficial OSes, you have to root your phone and know how to install roms and things along those lines.

Another thing would be apps. The applications for iPhone are coded in objective C, which has a lot more possibility then Java. Many people say that when coding for android, they feel very confined in what they can allow their applications to do. Also, apple has to approve all apps submitted. These combined result in very high quality apps, which are easy to use and have a lot of functionality.

Why Android is better than iPhone

Android also has some nice benefits. First of all, it’s open source. This means that any developer can legally take the software and customize it and install drivers for different devices and do whatever they want with it, all legally.

This also means that if you do the right things to your android, you can install different versions of the operating system that have been modified by people ranging from people in office buildings to hobos living on the streets that happen to have coding skills and an internet connection. Having the ability to customize even the core operating system on the device is a big benefit with androids. And even though the manufacturers may take a year to come out with the new version of the OS officially for your phone, there is almost always someone porting the OS to the device early so you can get it before any of your friends.

Android is also not restricted to the Android Market. On iPhones, to install apps that aren’t in the app store you have to jailbreak. But with android, it’s as easy as checking a box in your application settings. Once that box is checked, you can download APK files from anywhere online and install them without a problem. This is good if an app maker doesn’t feel like putting their app in the market or just wants to keep a closed beta of it. Either way, having this feature is definitely a big plus for android.

And yet another benfit would be the huge variety. There are hundreds of android phones (all of which you can find on android.com) and as many vendors as you can imagine. This gives you a wide variety of different software, skins, hardware, power, price, coverage, and many different plans with different prices and different speeds and different features. Because of the wide variety of phones available, Android is now taking up a bigger market share than iPhone.

Conclusion

Androids and iPhones both have their ups and downs. But I think that I might admit to getting an iPhone when my upgrade is available. Even though I like the availability of open source on androids, I still feel like there is a wider variety of higher quality apps on the App Store that I could use.

The best of GMG!

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I’ve been blogging over here for a couple years now, and I have 40% more daily visitors nowadays then I did about 4 months ago. So for you new readers, I’ve decided to bring back some of the old posts.

Mindnode
Mindnode is a great free app for mindmaps. It is now available on the Mac App Store.

Wireless tether with Droid Incredible
Tethering wirelessly is extremely convenient and here’s how to do it.

Omniweb
Omniweb is a fast and simple web browser that has a really interesting tabbing interface.

Create a WiFi network with your Mac
Sometimes you are at a hotel and only have one ethernet cable. Here’s how you can use your mac to create a WiFi network so your other devices can also share the love.

Top 5 favorite things about Mac
I personally prefer Macs over PCs. Here’s a few reasons why.

CloudApp
Cloudapp is a great and easy way to share screenshots and other images with your friends.

Bluetooth not available? Here’s a ten step fix!
It has happened to me a few times that when I startup my computer I get the wonderful bluetooth not available symbol in my menubar. In that case, I just come back to this post. It has never failed me!

Air Display
The iPad has a beautiful display. Here’s how you can use it as an extended monitor for your Mac!

Get Facebook chat in iChat
Facebook chat is great because it’s likely that you have a LOT of facebook friends that you can chat with. Here’s how to integrate Facebook chat into iChat using Jabber.

Chat with Phil McKinney
I had an interesting chat with Phil McKinney, the CTO of HP, and his words still stick with me.

swackett

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Sometimes weather is just too damn complicated.

There’s the temperature, clouds, chance of precipitation, humidity, pressure, dew point, wind chill, and feels like.

But what’s the main reason you look at the weather? Usually it’s because you’re going somewhere. And why do you need to care about the weather at that somewhere? Because you need to know how to dress to suit the weather conditions.

Swackett is an app that gives weather to you straight. It tells you exactly what you need to wear, and even labels it for your convenience.

As you can tell, it does give you some of the weather information so you know what to expect, but the main feature of it all is how it tells you what to wear and labels it all for you.

In addition to todays forecast, you can also see that it has the current conditions, tonight’s forecast, and tomorrow’s forecast, all of which tell you what you should wear.

Long are the days of trying to relate temperature, humidity, and chance of precipitation to what you should wear.

This app is available for FREEE on the Mac App Store. You can also purchase different styles of clothing that the weather models wear, but I don’t find that very necessary if all you need is to know what you should wear that day.

App Store direct link

Twitter for Mac

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Tweetie for Mac has always been the preferred twitter client on Macs. However, when the makers of tweetie, atebits, were bought by twitter, we didn’t know what would happen. The tweetie for iPhone was updated and called Twitter for iPhone. We were waiting for Tweetie version 3, but that came to us as an app in the Mac App store called Twitter for Mac.

If you use Tweetie you’ll immediately recognize the interface. The interface of this app is extremely simple and effective. You have a small bar on the left with your timeline, mentions, direct messages, and searches. However with this update we also have lists, which allows you to view your lists that you’ve made, and profile which allows you to view information about your profile.

A couple of small tweaks have also been made, as the window is round and the bar is a bit darker and the dock icon has been modified to have the official twitter bird in it.

But one of the biggest upgrades in this would be speed.

It’s just so fast! You click something and it goes and it loads. Bam.

Also, with DMs, messages come in with a matter of seconds. That makes it extremely useful to use similar to IM, which can be handy (although I don’t use that too often).

You can get Twitter in the Mac App Store for free, and for your convenience here’s a direct link. ;)

Cinch for Mac

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People who use Windows 7 have become very fond of the “snap” feature. What it allows you to do is drag a window to the right edge of the screen and when you let go, it will fill exactly the right half. Drag it to the left side and it will fill the left half. Drag it to the top and if will take up the whole screen.

This is an extremely useful tool, that has finally bridged to Mac.

The app that does this is called Cinch. Now everything I described up there, it does.

Simple, right? All you have to do is drag and let go.

What would you use this for? Here are a couple of ideas.

When doing research, you could have a web browser on the left side and an open document editor on the right. that way you can se the research information and type it up in your document all at the same time.

Another use is moving files. Drag one browser to one side and one browser to the other, and move your files inbetween.

Move one terminal window to one side, one terminal to the other.

Now this doesn’t work for windows that aren’t resizable, but it does work for pretty much every other app.

You can get a demo of this for free here (which will show a pop-up every once in a while) or you can buy the full version for a mere $7. Enjoy!

Mac App Store

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The iOS App Store is the main dealio when it comes to iOS. Everyone goes there for known good, easy to get, (sometimes) effective apps.

At Apple’s Back to the Mac Event, they were trying to bring aspects from iOS over to the Mac. They brought multitouch features, a centralized place for all your apps, but even better, they brought the App Store.

So with Mac OS X 10.6.6, you will find the application App Store in your applications folder.

Upon opening the app, you will find yourself having a flashback to your iPad.

You have Featured, Top Charts, Categories, Purchases, and Updates at the top. Seems pretty similar to iOS, right?

On the featured page you have New and Noteworthy, What’s Hot, and a scrolling feature of featured apps.

But it gets even more iOS like.

Tap er…. CLICK on an app and you will be brought to a page that looks pretty similar to the app page in iOS.

A description, a link that says the price on it, reviews and ratings, requirements, screenshots, iOS FLASHBACK!

And it only gets worse. CLICK the button with the price on it and you are asked to put in your Apple ID information (iTunes account information).

Once you sign in you will be greeted with a quite familiar process.

The app icon will literally fly from in the app to your dock with a loading bar across it (same one as in iOS, big coincidence). Once that is done, your app is installed and ready to use!

Having an App Store for Mac was probably a great idea. It’s an easy and already established way to get apps for your computer.

Another good thing about it is that you can now buy Apple’s bundled apps separately (like the iLife and iWork suite apps) instead of buying the whole bundle.

But my only worry would be if Apple decides to screw over all of the third party apps. Mac jailbreaking would be hell. if all of the sudden people had to start getting their apps approved by apple for them to go to the computers, I would definitely switch to PC. They’ve already done that with the iOS (which I am a rebel against to a degree) so the last source of freedom.

As the mac is right now, with both the Mac App Store AND the availability of third party apps is PERFECT. I think that a unified app store is a good idea but people still want their apps that aren’t in the app store.

Sphero by Orbotix

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While at CES I paid a visit to Sphero.

Sphero, in a nutshell, is a small robotic ball controlled by your smartphone.

The ball itself measures a few inches across and can glow any color across the RGB spectrum.

This thing is pretty cool.
There is a simple (but not too intuitive) driving app on your phone (Android or iPhone) that can control the Sphero as it just rolls around. However because sphero has an open API, the hope is that developers can use the sphero and integrate it into their apps. This means that game developers could create some really cool augmented reality (AR) games. And because it’s open, anybody can integrate the code into their apps.

Because of this I got to be an exhibitor for them. No, not an official exhibitor, but since I was such a good driver I got a t-shirt, and next thing you know all of the people at the booth are asking me questions (which of course I could answer). That was a really cool experience because I got to see both sides of CES.

One of the most popular questions was: Where can I get this thing?

Answer: We’ll see.

These little robots are still in prototype form, and there are less than 17 (maybe more by now) in existence, and the shells are pretty fragile at the moment.

The release of these guys is going to be in late 2011, where they will be available for less than $100. Yes, less than $100.

HOWEVER, you can pre-order one for yourself at http://gosphero.com.

These little things seem to have a lot of potential with one of my favorite associations: OPEN SOURCE!

Top 3 Trends at CES 2011

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CES 2011 was awesome. It was my first CES and I had a blast (but my feet didn’t). I befriended everyone at Eye-fi, met Altec Angel, got a free headset, took 1000 pictures, played a 3D racing game, and became an exhibitor for a booth for a few hours (more on that in the next post). Here are the things I saw that were extremely trending.

Number 3: Mobile
Mobile was as expected,a huge trend at CES. There were new phones announced by different makers, 4G technology, high res displays, and more.

A subtrend of this area would be accessories. There were headphones, mobile speakers, docking stations, backup batteries, a LOT of stands, and a lot of cases.

Number 2: Tablets
Tablets tablets and more tablets!

I got a chance to play with the Galaxy Tab (which I personally didn’t like) the BlackBerry PlayBook (which I loved, more on that later), and I played around with a lot of crappy android tablets.

Many companies all around the world are trying and failing to enter the tablet market. They all use android which is good for apps, but the devices themselves are TERRIBLE! The biggest mistake I saw was the use of resistive touch screens. Basically, instead of electrical content triggering a touch point (which takes the lightest touch) you have to “touch” hard enough to press two plastic sheets together that are over the screen. When I picked one up that had been made in china and tried to use it like I could my phone, iPad, iPod touch, or any other touch device I had, I thought it was broken. After PRESSING on the screen I could get a result.

Another problem is that the creators of these things were making them powerless. They had android 1.6, a 400 mhz processor, a terrible touch screen, poor design, bad graphics, terrible cameras, it was all just terrible.

I think that the tablet situation will be similar to the one with the iPod, where one vendor will rule over all others (in this case Apple).

AND NOW… FOR THE NUMBER ONE TREND AT CES….

NUMBER ONE:

There was so much 3d it was crazy.

Optoma had their whole booth all about 3d. All about 3d projectors and technologies.
Intel’s whole booth (which is quite large let me have you know) was all about their 3d processors which could drive 3d graphics to a 3d tv.

There were 3d cameras, 3d tvs, 3d camcorders, 3d monitors, 3d phones, 3d that you didn’t need glasses for, 3d that made you confused, and 3d that didn’t work. There was a LOT of 3d!

CES was an extremely cool event, but there wasn’t much eye-popping stuff. Everything was mostly just improvement on other things. 3D was big last year too, but here it’s being moved to more devices and more applications.

Creative at CES 2011

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Creative is known for it’s video cameras, software, etc. At CES they released a competitor to Cisco’s UMI called InPerson HD. It allows you to have up to a four way HD video conversation right from your TV.

InPerson HD works with a seperate box from your telivision and requires a subscription to use the service. The subscription price ranges from $10 to $40 depending on the flavour you select from single point to point to 4 person multipoint.

Here’s a picture of what it would look like if you were using it:
This service runs on a box that is powered by android which looks something like this:

This whole setup is scheduled to be released to the public in the second quarter of 2011. The box will cost about $500 (same price as the currently available InPerson which is mostly a video chat only laptop) plus the subscription.