Sales of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus are Illegal.

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Seriously people, I’m not kidding.

The phone that I just recently purchased (and love) is now illegal to be sold in the United States.

The culprit? Apple, as expected.

Apple filed a boatload of patent infringement lawsuits against samsung, and where there’s money there’s power. Apple won the lawsuit against Samsung with flying colors, and now the sales of the flagship android device are banned in the United States.

I’m one of those people who thinks that Apple is using its patents too harshly against the competition. It’s like a towel company saying to another towel company “HEY! We have white towels! You’re not allowed to! We’re the only ones who can sell white towels!!”

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Apple has fought (and mostly won) many different lawsuits with Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and every other company who dares set food in the world of creating a smartphone that could possibly compete with the iPhone. Apple went against HTC for the user interface. Motorola initiated the lawsuits against Apple saying that they infringed some their, then Apple said that Motorola infringed THEIR patents, then Motorola said that Apple infringed MORE patents, and the story goes on. In fact, nobody really knows what the patents were about in te first place.

The list goes on. In fact, there’s an entire wikipedia article full of them!

I don’t like the way Apple does things. That’s for sure. Profitable or not, it’s just not fair.

Iranian? Good Luck Getting your Apple Product

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Well, isn’t this surprising.

An 19 year-old student and her uncle were at an Apple Store shopping for an iPad and iPhone at a mall in Georgia. They were talking in Farsi, and when an Apple employee overheard she said “I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations.”

Leave it to Apple to discriminate not only against other platforms, companies with similar home screens, or any other firm that dares to threaten their authority, but also against people from different parts of the world.

Apparently, this isn’t the first time that this has happened at an Apple store. Another customer, Zack Jafarzadeh, went with his friend to a different Apple Store and received similar treatment. “We never talked about him going back to Iran or anything like that. He was just speaking full-fledged Farsi and the representative came back and denied our sale,” said Jafarzadeh to WSBTV. “I would say if you’re trying to buy an iPhone, don’t tell them anything about Iran. That would be your best bet.”

It gets better. An Apple Store manager told a news team from WBSTV about their policy, which said the exportation, sale, or supply of Apple products from U.S. to Iran is not allowed without prior authorization by the federal government. The manager explained Apple Stores have to “rely on customers to be honest.”

And here’s the best part. An Apple Store employee apologized and recommended that they buy their products online. Hah!

So when a US citizen and her uncle come into an Apple store speaking Farsi, they aren’t allowed to buy anything and are basically instructed to purchase the products as long as no Apple employees need to look at them.

This is how Apple rolls, everybody. I could be annoyed at the employees, or the manager, or the Store, but really, Apple is to blame. The same thing can happen anywhere in the US, as long as Apple decides that selling an iPad to a US citizen that speaks Farsi is breaching a US law stating that it is illegal to enter Iran with “laptops or satellite cellphones” without U.S. consent.

Android, anyone?

Apple Says Things at WWDC

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So Apple had some fun at the WWDC Keynote this year.

Siri did stand-up comedy to open.

No really, I’m excited about the new Samsung. Not the phone, the refrigerator.

I must admit, that was pretty funny.

First of all, Apple updated its notebooks. The MacBook Air finally got a speed boost, the MacBook Pro got a speed boost, and the 17″ MacBook Pro bid farewell.

Apple also announced their next generation MagBook Pro, which is almost as thin as an Air, has a retina display, and a new Magsafe Port. Great.

All of these computers have gotten upgrades to USB 3, which is nice for those people who actually have devices that can take advantage of that.

Then, our friend iOS got an update.

Finally, iOS has turn by turn navigation. Siri is available on the new iPad, and has supposedly gotten a bit better. Facebook is now integrated as much as twitter. FaceTime is available on cellular networks. Photo streams can be shared. A new app called Passbook allows you to store tickets for planes, movies, and stores. There’s also a few other things that aren’t worth mentioning.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion didn’t get anything new from what we knew already, except thatdictation will be available in any text field. For many people, this will definitely come in handy.

Some people were unhappy with the absence of an iPhone 5. But I think we should be content with iOS 6, and expect the new iPhone this fall – along with the public release of iOS 6.

I’ve been playing around with iOS 6, and so far it works well. Siri works just as expected, and the Facebook and twitter integration is also very handy.

The MacBooks that were updated are available now, but iOS will be available in fall. Mountain Lion will be available this July.

MacBook Pro

Macbook Air

iOS 6

Mountain Lion

Spotify for Android gets Overhauled

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Pretty new artist page

Spotify is by far the best music service I have ever come across. For $10 a month, I get all of the new songs streamed to my computer and phone. For the price of one album a month, I can have as many songs and listen to all of them as many times as I want without any ads or issues. It’s magical!

The only problem is the the android app. It really lacks – the interface is a little bit hard to use, it doesn’t offer as much functionality as the desktop app, and the graphics are quite low resolution.

Well, not anymore. Spotify has released a preview of their new app, which features facebook- and twitter-like slide-out menus, cleaner, easier graphics, and a nicer, more refined playing menu. The interface is also a lot faster in general.

A nice new player interface

The application isn’t available on Google Play quite yet, as they’re working on adding a few more features like Last.fm scrobbling, folders, and more. However, if you’d like to update now, you can still download the preview of the new app.

First, you’ll need to open Settings > Applications and check the box that allows you to install applications from unknown sources. Next, open this post on your phone and tap here. The apk file should download. Next, pull down the notifications and tap the downloaded file. Follow the steps and in a few taps you’ll be enjoying the new spotify interface!

I’m excited that spotify is finally cleaning up their Android app – it was getting a bit, well, old.

Typecast

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I was recently interviewed by a reporter about my love of typewriters.

Yes, I have a bit of a thing for typewriters, film cameras, and flower print. I currently own two lovely typewriters: an IBM Selectric II, and a Brother Charger 11.

The reporter told me about typecasting, and I was immediately hooked.

Typecasting is similar to a blog, except instead of text, it’s scans of something typed on a typewriter. Not image-to-text conversion; just the images of what you typed.

It’s nice for three reasons: Firstly, you get the joy of typing on a typewriter. After all, computer keyboards are overrated for typing – the tactile feedback and instant gratification of a typewriter keyboard will never be matched. Secondly, it’s more personal. The little bleed or empty spots of the letters from the typewriter show up, and it’s much less perfect refined. Thirdly, you are actually typing on a typewriter, not just in a typewriter font. Typewriter fonts try to replicate the little errors and blank spaces in the letters of typewriters, but they’re just never right; with a typewriter, the letters follow the curves and crevices in the grain of the paper, and it’s all just so beautiful.

The day before, I decided that I should make a personal blog: One about me, not the stuff I like. I installed wordpress and added a post, but it was all just so…. normal. Another blog. zzzzzz…..

The night after the reporter came and interviewed me, I knew that I should convert my personal blog to a typecast. However, nobody had created a platform for it yet.

So being my ingenuitive self, I decided to create the platform myself. With the help of my glorious friend Amit Eyal, we toiled through the night. (Correction: because he lives a 10 hour time difference from where I do, I went to sleep right when he left for school, then woke up when he came back.) What we had was beautiful: A simple, usable CMS for nothing but uploading images.

Here’s the section on how it works – computer-illiterate, you may want to skip to the next paragraph. It has a hash database with one auto-increment column called ID, and another called file. There is a password-protected admin page with a file upload link. When you upload the image file, it will move the image to the img folder and add the filename to the database; at this point, it will also add the auto-increment the id to the next number. Now, on the homepage, it will call all of the database values with the id descending (this orders it reverse-chronologically). Then it echoes the img and a tags with the correct image file (which it got from the database) and Voila, you have yourself a typecast.

I would ultimately like to make it free and open source for anyone to start his own typecast. Also, it isn’t necessary to have a typewriter – you can just handwrite a note, scan it, and post that instead.

Click here to check out my new personal blog, which is our original typecast.

 

 

The New iPad

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My last post was about the new iPad announcement. I was able to get my hands on one, and here’s what I think.

What’s new:

  • Retina Display
  • Upgraded A5X Chip
  • 5MP iSight Camera
  • 4G LTE support

Retina Display

The biggest deal about the entire new iPad is the retina display. When it was shown on the iPhone, it was kinda crazy. Whow, I actually *can’t* see the pixels! Seriously!

For those who don’t know, here’s a description of the retina display:

Displays work with pixels, each one having RGB units (sometimes called “sub-pixels”). A combination of the colors red, green, and blue can make up any visible color.

All of these pixels are squished next to each other and light up at different times to make different colors. This gives us our shapes, colors, and pictures.

Each display has a rating of the density of the pixels, which is how many pixels are crammed in each inch. Many displays are 72, some 100, and a variety in between.

The whole deal about the “retina” display is that the DPI is so high, and the pixels are so small, that you can’t pick out any of the pixels. That way everything is sharper and less distorted.

The DPI of the new iPad’s retina display is 264 DPI. Compare that to a printer at 300, and you’re damn close.

Now, the total resolution of the iPad is about 3 million pixels. Hint: that’s a lot. As you may have seen in one of their promotional videos, Apple had to separate the pixels from the layer of signals that tells each sub-pixel when to light up. That way, signals don’t get crossed and what not.

Simplified: the retina display is very sharp and very pretty.

Upgraded A5X Chip

As you (hopefully) read in the last paragraph, there are 3 million pixels that need to be lit up and controlled by the graphics card. That means that the card needs to be nimble and powerful. So, there’s the A5X chip. Honestly it’s hard to notice a difference unless you’re playing games with a lot of 3D rendering and action (A.K.A. Infinity Blade).

5MP iSight Camera

The one thing that really just sucked about the iPad 2 is the back camera. Its megapixels were at near-flip-phone levels (critical). Thankfully, Apple stuck in the 5MP chip from the iPhone 4 and the optics from the iPhone 4S, and voila, we have a less awful camera.

The front camera is still the same (not great), but hey, it’s okay for impromptu self-portraits, video chat, and using as a mirror.

4G LTE Support

At long last, we have a 4G Apple device! Fanboys unite!

Yeah, the title basically says it. The new iPad has an antenna that supports both AT&T and Verizon’s 4G LTE networks.

I had to set up a Verizon 4G iPad and it was NOT easy. Verizon insists that you create a new account, and they have no option to login and add the iPad to your existing account. Instead, I called Verizon customer service, was redirected to a different customer service line, and after giving the guy a ton of numbers and passwords and who knows what, I was finally able to get 3G on the thing.

AT&T was different; They had an “Already have an account? Tap here to login” link.

Conclusion

Overall, the new iPad brings about some changes that are simple, yet long awaited. The physical profile is still the exact same, and the only complaint that I (and many others) have had is the temperature. The iPad seems to run at hand warming temperatures, which is great when you’re in an isolated log cabin in canada, but not so great when you’re in a standard thermally regulated room and start worrying if your precious device is going to melt. At the moment, that’s the only major complaint, to which Apple has responded that the iPad “runs well within it’s operating temperatues.” Well, if you say so.

Another small thing that we got with the iPad is Dictation. Hit the microphone button and talk, and you can input text anywhere using only your voice. This is a sad excuse for not adding in Siri, considering that Apple could have easily done it had they wanted to. Siri or no Siri, the new iPad is definitely a step up from the last, but we’re still waiting for the giant evolution (3Gs to 4 evolution).

 

Apple Releases New iPad

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Apple has (finally) released the newest iPad. Unlike speculations, the iPad has dropped it’s following number and is simply being referred to as the new iPad.

The new iPad features almost exactly what was speculated: a new, high resolution retina display, and a 5.0 megapixel camera. In addition, the new iPad features 4G LTE, allowing its users to browse at increased speeds.

iLife has also been added to the iPad – GarageBand and iMovie have already been released, and joining them is the iPadular version of iPhoto.

The new iPad also features a new A5X graphics card, which is necessary to power the 3.1 million pixels in its high resolution display.

Other than a few new other software features, the iPad remains the same. It has the same outer shell as the iPad two, and has the same pricing regimen as well.

The new iPad will be available on March 16th, which is a short 9 days from its launch date.

I will get my hands on one then, although I doubt that I will end up owning one – my MacBook air completely gets rid of the need/use of the iPad, as it has an identical form factor with a much larger array of features.

iPad homepage

Google Ditches Android Market for Google Play

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Play logo

Android Market, the typical android counterpart to iOS. Widely used, known, and enjoyed.

Recently, Google added Movies, Music, and Books to the Market. Thanks to the general nature of the word Market, no name change was necessary.

All of your music showed up in the separate Google Music app. Your movies in the Google Movies app. Simple enough, right?

Google disagrees.

Google has completely ditched that entire scheme around a new name: “Google Play”. Google Play is the new name for the Android Market, while the Google Music app has changed to “Google Play Music” and movies changed accordingly to “Google Play Movies.”

Honestly, it’s nice that they’re congregating all of their purchases under one name, however “Google Play Movies” sounds like someone with awful grammar trying to say Google Plays Movies. I think they just need a semicolon – Google Play: Movies… actually, no. They just should have gone with something other than Play.

The new logo and name are all that has changed – the general interfaces are still identical, so nobody needs to freak over yet another interface change. However, it’s still a bit annoying that Google decided to mix everything up – all at once – and will probably manage to confuse a lot of people in the process.

Apple Announces Mountain Lion

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Less than a year ago, apple released OS X Lion. It added a ton of very very very handy features.

Now, Apple has just announced Mac OS X Mountain Lion. It features iPad-like features such as iMessages, Reminders, Notes a Notification Center, Twitter integration, Game Center, and even AirPlay mirroring.

These are some shiny new features that are similar to the Leopard to Snow Leopard upgrade – not that big, but may still come in handy.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion is going to be released to the public this summer. In the meantime, you can download the Messages beta app and start iMessaging your friends from your mac.

Click here to see more of the sneak peek at Mountain Lion. 

Click here to download the Messages beta application. 

CES: The Progress of 3D

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One of the biggest things at CES last year was definitely 3D. 3D TVs, 3D tablets, 3D Projectors. But there were a few reasons that I hated them.

PIA0001002058

First of all, you had to wear Active 3D glasses. These basically flicker each lens so fast that you can’t see, and it does it in rhythm with the TV. That’s how you could see two different images in each eye, giving you that 3D effect. As you can see, they tended to be a bit ridiculous. They were bulky and giant, needed to be charged, and were extremely expensive to replace. They also darkened the screen you were looking at quite a bit.

The other issue with 3D was that the colors were degraded. The saturation and contrast was reduced, and you give up everything in picture quality just to get that 3D effect. Basically, you were trading the convenience of TV just so you could get two pictures simultaneously.

This year, things have changed.

Exhibit A would be LG. They have created an amazing 3D smart TV that uses passive 3D glasses. These are the same glasses that you wear in a movie theatre, and are just plastic lenses that aren’t electronic at all. In fact, LG had a giant wall of these 3D TVs playing an awesome sequence of 3D footage. They were handing out tons of 3D glasses, because each one costs less than $0.05 to manufacture in China. You can keep it, break it, or lose it, and it won’t be a disaster.

DSC00521

Another benefit of passive 3D glasses is that you lose the bulk.

19d6bb35 reald glasses

These are very light and thin glasses. In fact, some people even call them stylish – you may see people walking around in these glasses with the 3D plastic lenses popped out.

The nice thing about these new TVs is that you still have that beautiful color contrast and saturation that high-end TVs are known for. The brightness is still a bit reduced, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was last year.

3D still has a ways to go – the need to wear glasses in general is a bit annoying, and the screens that don’t require 3D glasses (called autostereoscopy) are absolutely awful and disgusting. But the progress is obvious, and it seems like 3D is going from a stupid gimmick that was awfully executed to something that you might actually be able to enjoy in your living room.

The Galaxy Nexus Problem: Battery Life

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I’ve always been wondering what the big problem with the Galaxy nexus is. It has an amazing dual core processor, a glorious screen, flawless software, and LTE speeds. The camera is less than impressive, but it’s really not that bad.

But now, I’ve found the issue. Battery Life.

The Galaxy Nexus lasts for about 3 hours and 40 minutes. That’s a new record for the shortest battery life of a smartphone. Ouch.

Apparently the issue is actually related to software, where android 4.0 is keeping the CPU from sleeping. While verizon is busy trying to work out those kinks, they’re selling an extended battery for 50% off (not $25 from $50). I’ve ordered one and am awaiting it in the mail.

The only fear of mine is that Verizon releases an OTA (over the air) update for the phone that fixes the issue, then I’m not able to download the update because I’m rooted. This was the case on my Droid Incredible, but from what I’ve read it shouldn’t happen with the Nexus. I’ve also read that I’ll need to re-root, which shouldn’t be a problem.

Of course I’ll keep everybody in the loop about rooting and OTA updates, but until then be careful when buying a Nexus – you should probably get an extended battery as well.

Galaxy Nexus? Lolwut?

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You may know about the long lasting line of Google’s special Google Phone called the Nexus. There was originally the Nexus One, then the Nexus S recently. Both of these were manufactured by Samsung, but Samsung’s name wasn’t really placed on it – just on the very bottom of the product pages.

But Samsung has taken a different approach this time – They’ve released a new Nexus phone that they are calling the Galaxy Nexus, following their popular like of Galaxy S phones.

Other than the new name, the Galaxy Nexus follows Google’s standard path of some great upgrades.

As far as hardware goes, it’s just like the Nexus S – but better. The Galaxy Nexus features a slimmer body, more vibrant screen, and a very nice camera – although specific megapixels are not supplied.

But the real upgrades are in the software. The Galaxy Nexus features the purest of pure Android 4.0 – which is a nice relief considering all other phones in the Galaxy S line are skinned by Samsung, causing them to be painfully slow and unresponsive.

Among Android 4.0′s new features (other than the painfully idiotic name of “Ice Cream Sandwich”) are Face Unlock, which allows you to unlock your phone with face recognition; Android Beam, which uses NFC to send websites, photos, contacts, and more to other phones; and your usual fixing of extra eye candy.

The Galaxy Nexus doesn’t have any pricing or supported networks, however a bit is given away with the following line:

Galaxy Nexus runs at 4G (LTE or HSPA+) speeds

Verizon is the only provider that currently has an LTE network, which means that the Galaxy Nexus will be on Verizon for the first time.

I’m definitely excited for this phone, and anyone in the Android market should definitely look at this phone.