David Ancell's Virtual Home

NY Times to Start Charging for Online Access

  /   Saturday, March 19, 2011   /   Comments(0)

It has long seemed to me that the days of print newspapers are numbered. Besides, many newspapers are putting out at least part of their content online for free. I’ve wondered how long that can last as the people who spend their time writing news stories have to make a living somehow. Last week, I got an e-mail that the New York Times is now going to be offering paid digital subscriptions.

There are some newspapers that I’d be willing to pay money to access. The New York Times is not one of them. Really, though, I think their main problem is with the way they are offering subscriptions. You get the web site access no matter what you buy, but if you want to use the iPad app, you have to pay an extra $5/month. At that price, you can’t use it on a smartphone unless you pay another $15/month on top of that. What were they smoking when they came up with this business model? Then again, I wonder if the problem is really caused by Apple’s in-app purchase rules.

On the iPad, one can easily just use the browser and pay $15/month for web and smartphone. Hey, NY Times, if you want to offer digital subscriptions, then just charge one price for access to the same content. Oh well, I think I’ll save my money for a subscription to a good Catholic publication.

Category: Technology

iOS4 So Far

  /   Thursday, March 10, 2011   /   Comments(0)

Although I mentioned giving up the iPad 2 for Lent, I didn’t give up iOS4.  In fact, I installed it on Ash Wednesday.  So far, it is working great.  Safari really is a lot faster.  The home sharing feature also appears to work well.  At first, I couldn’t find it, and here is a Macworld article on how to set it up.  One thing that the article mentions but may be missed is that you’l need to go into the settings of iPad, go to iPod, and enter your Apple ID and password.  Once you do that, you’ll see the option to use a library from a computer on your network in the upper left-hand corner of the program.


Category: Technology

To the Apple Store

  /   Wednesday, February 23, 2011   /   Comments(0)

Last weekend, Yana and I took a trip to Lexington, Kentucky to be at a party for a friend.  It’s kind of ironic that I’d go there just after taking the test to become licensed there (which I passed, by the way), but I digress.  After the party, we went to the mall.  There I found what has to be the best Apple store that I’ve ever seen.  I got to play with quite a lot of stuff there.

Since I’ve been on Verizon, I hadn’t really been interested in the iPhone 4.  Now, with its availability, it may be an option some time in the future.  The retina display really is a sight to see.  The ones in the store have service on them, so I got to send my wife an e-mail from one of them just for fun.  After that, I played with a MacBook Air.  It is a lightning fast device since it has a solid-state drive.  It will be a while before I’m in the market for a laptop, so we’ll see how it evolves.

The best thing, of course, is the 27-inch iMac.  I will be getting one of those before too long (after Lion is released).  The display is beautiful, and it’s lightning fast.  I’ve been doing some high-definition video since getting married, and I want something that will allow me to preserve it in high-definition.

I was not impressed with the Magic Trackpad.  Maybe it is because I’m just not a big fan of trackpads.  It is too hard for me to have precise control. I tried it with Indesign on the demo unit, and it was a little difficult to place an object just where I wanted it.

The new Magic Mouse is something that I have played with off and on, and I have mixed feelings about it.  I currently have the old version of the Magic Mouse.  The new one does not have a scroll wheel that can get clogged up and quit working, but it also lacks the squeeze buttons that I use to call up Expose.  The gesture concept isn’t the best for me because I tend not to memorize stuff, and I hope that Apple won’t get to a point that learning the gestures is necessary to use Mac OS.

It’s hard to believe that, just ten years ago, I would have called the Mac a “Macintrash” computer.  Now, I find that it is faster, handles multitasking better, and is so much less of a headache to maintain.  Let’s just hope that the absence of Steve Jobs doesn’t hurt their creativity.  They need to keep it up.

Category: News on My Life, Technology

Really, Why Do They Bother

  /   Sunday, July 04, 2010   /   Comments(0)

I just have to post because I’m finding some humor in the fact that my post that says I will delete any spam comments is getting spam comments.  Of course, they are being thrown in the spam bucket and later deleted.

Category: Technology

Testing Twitter

  /   Tuesday, June 22, 2010   /   Comments(0)

For some reason, I’ve been wanting to try Twitter for some time.  I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do with it, but I seem to have long been known to try something first and then find a use for it later.  I am finding that this might be an easy way to send out my blog posts as well as other article I like.  I haven’t yet decided if I want to let it update my Facebook status as there are some things that I may tweet that I don’t really want as a status.  I’ll probably mix in a few things about what I’m doing in between.  I’ll post more about how I like it once I have played with it more.  One thing I notice is that it seems to be down a lot.  Hopefully, that’s  just a temporary issue.

Category: Technology

Pocket Quicken Discontinued

  /   Friday, May 07, 2010   /   Comment(1)

When I bought my first Palm, the Tungsten T, in 2003, probably my favorite app for the thing was Pocket Quicken.  I could buy something with a debit card, record the transaction, and have it go into Quicken as soon as I did a HotSync.  As I’ve said before, it’s the one thing that I really, really miss on my Droid.

Well, now I know one reason why it isn’t available for the Droid.  In what has to be one of the most disappointing moves I’ve ever seen, Intuit terminated its license to Landware to make and sell the product.  For a long time, Quicken was the software that worked better than anything else, especially on Windows.  The Mac version works, but it’s really clunky.  I’ve heard many, many complaints about Quicken Essentials for Mac, and I have to wonder why Intuit thought they’d get away with releasing that in the state that it is in at its price.

I am now looking to replace Quicken.  I will most likely replace it with the first good Mac product to provide an Android mobile version, especially if it syncs over the air.  If anyone knows of such a product, please do let me know.

Category: Technology

Why Do Spammers Bother?

  /   Monday, April 26, 2010   /   Comments(0)

E-mail and comment spam is something that I’ve never really understood.  How do people really earn money from posting and e-mailing offers to people who usually don’t want them?  Ok, I guess someone is doing business with them, or it would be a waste of effort.

Apparently, some companies are paying people to go through and enter CAPTCHA codes.  I just don’t get how this is worth someone’s time and resources.  A CAPTCHA code is something to keep automated processes from entering spam messages and comments.  The very presence of the code should tell people that these unsolicited offers are not wanted there.  Who makes money by targeting offers to people who do not want them?  Companies like Facebook and Google make at least part of their money by trying to produce targeted ads.  In other words, they use information to find out what people might be interested in.

My site uses CAPTCHA on my e-mail link, and all comments on my blog have to be approved before they will appear.  I also utilize spam filters in both my e-mail and the blog.  If you are a spammer, don’t even bother to post here.  Even if you get past my filters, I will delete your e-mail and never post your comment.  Even if I wanted your product, I would never buy from someone who uses these tactics.  I wish I could just allow comments to instantly post.  However, even if I let the spam post and deleted it later, there’s a possibility that it will get to a search engine and help their ranking.  I want to take no chance of letting a spammer do that.

Category: Technology


  /   Tuesday, April 13, 2010   /   Comments(2)

Most people who know me are aware that I am a big computer and gadget geek.  A priest friend of mine once remarked that I use technology to simplify my life.  It’s true, for example, that I like having my iPod so that I don’t have to carry around, sort through, and change CDs in the player.  It’s all on one device that I can carry around.

Being as I am, I’m not content to carry around a phone that only makes calls. I like to have a device that will allow me to keep in touch with e-mails and sites like Facebook.  However, I don’t want something that will annoy me with pop-ups or pause to check e-mail when I’m actively trying to use it.  I don’t want something beeping all night while I’m at work.  Just a few weeks ago, I found something that is easily the best phone I’ve had – the Motorola Droid.  It’s a perfect replacement for my Palm Treos that I’ve used since 2005.

I am a big Apple fan, but I’ve never really wanted an iPhone.  It didn’t have enough disk space to serve as my media player, and I was concerned that using a phone as my media player would run the battery down too quickly.  I wasn’t attracted to the touch-screen only interface because I have fat fingers.  The first generation didn’t have 3G support, and I wasn’t about to spend the money that it would cost without it.  The non-removable battery is a deal killer in a cell phone.  Besides all this, I switched to Verizon early in my courtship with the woman who is now my wife, and the iPhone is only available for AT&T.

The Droid does so many things that it is a huge step up for me from my old Treo.  The multitasking works well, and I am able to continue to work in another application while it checks my e-mail.  Because of this, I can now have it check my e-mail more often.  The e-mails now look much more like what they would look like if I were using my desktop or laptop.  Web browsing on this thing is very nice.  Verizon’s 3G is plenty fast.  The pages look similar to what they do on a full-size computer.  I can double-tap when a web page comes up and zoom it so that the article just fits across the screen.  I get a lot of reading done on the phone now and don’t have to wait until I get to a computer.  The only problem is that, when you are in a spot where 3G isn’t available, any web function is very slow.

I’d probably still like my Droid if this were all it did.  However, there is so much more.  My calendar and contacts sync with my Google account which can then sync with iCal and Address Book.  The Treo would sync these also, but there’s a major difference.  I don’t have to plug the Droid in to do this.  It does it over the air.  I add someone’s info while I’m out at the mall or a restaurant, and it’s on my computer when I get home.  I only wish that there were an app like Pocket Quicken that could do this with financial data.  Pocket Quicken is the one thing I really, really miss on the Droid.

The GPS is amazing.  Since it’s powered by Google Maps, you don’t have to buy those ridiculously expensive updates to the maps.  You can even use voice search to find an address.  The directions are more clear than they are on my Garmin.  However, it’s not perfect.  The smaller size and glossy screen (which is normally beautiful) can be kind of hard to see, especially if I’m wearing sunglasses.  My wife doesn’t like the voice of the navigation.  The biggest downside of it, though, is when you get a call.  The call screen gets in the way of the GPS, and you can’t use the navigation while you are on a call.  Maybe this is a safety feature, but a call when I’m trying to go through a multi-directional exit would not be good.

On a less-important but still useful note, it’s great for checking the weather.  The new Android 2.1 download that I got comes with a news and weather program.  It shows the current temperature, weather forecast for my location (which it detects), and important news headlines.   It has a good photo application that I can use to show off pictures of me with my beautiful wife and even some video.  Having a 5 megapixel camera with flash isn’t too bad, either.  The included video camera worked well in my test, but I have yet to use it for real.  Yes, you can use the device as your MP3 player, and it comes with a 16 GB memory card.  I have MP3s on the device, but I don’t play them that much.

I have heard that there aren’t as many apps available for Android as for the iPhone, but that hasn’t seemed to matter to me.  I haven’t spent a cent, and I’ve been able to find a number of useful apps and some games:  Solitaire, Euchre, Connect Four, Tic Tac Toe, and Othello.  There are apps for using Wikipedia, Skype, WordPress, and Facebook.  I even have an app that tells me what movies are playing near my current location (which it detects automatically) and the times and lets me view the trailer.  I also have my pharmacist databases installed on the device – Lexi Drugs and ePocrates.  Installing the software from the app store is very, very easy.  The phone, unlike the iPhone, isn’t restricted to software from the store, but there’s a setting you have to change to get it to install other software.

As for the call quality, it’s the best I’ve heard in a long time.  The speakerphone is loud and very clear.  My parents could notice a difference immediately when I called them on the phone.  I could also tell a difference when talking to my wife.  Everyone was much easier to hear than they were on my Treo.

All is not perfect, though.  My biggest gripe about it is the way to answer the phone.  I have to slide a slider across the screen to answer or ignore a call.  This is a great for preventing myself from accidentally answering the phone, but the sliders are so hard to slide across that I normally have to try several times and then almost miss the call.  I also have to use a slider to unlock the phone almost every time the screen goes off.  These sliders are fairly easy to use but annoying.  Can’t there be a certain amount of time that must pass before the phone locks?  I looked for settings but could find none.

There are a few other things that’s I’d like to see improved.  When using Gmail, you can’t change the Send From account like you can in the full web version of Gmail.  It can check mail pretty often, but I’m pretty jealous of the speed of the push mail that my wife has in her BlackBerry.  With multitasking ability, I have to worry about something in the background sucking the life out of the battery.  Applications don’t have their own “exit” function, so the Task Killer is a must.  The battery life is good enough for me, but I’ve found that I do need to watch it.  Many people have complained about the slide-out keyboard, and I will add that it does take getting used to.  The device will change from portrait to landscape when you rotate it, but it isn’t as smooth as I’d like.

Overall, this is the best gadget I’ve ever owned.  I am sure that Google will continue to update Android, and it will get even better with time.  It’s a great phone, and it does a lot of stuff.  I am having a lot of fun with it.

Category: Technology

Apple, Please Listen to Cnet

  /   Monday, January 25, 2010   /   Comments(0)

I have, in the last three and a half years, become a big fan of my Macintosh computer.  I have both an iMac and a MacBook Pro, and I have found them much better than my old Windows machines because I’ve spent less time having to fix them.  Multitasking works so much better as well.

However, that’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement.  I’m a long way away from a new MacBook and quite a while away from a new iMac, but I really hope that future Mac updates incorporate Cnet’s requested changes.  The iMac already has the more powerful processors, but the card reader, Blu Ray drive, and especially the HDMI output would be very welcome.  This is especially true since Macs are significantly more expensive than Windows PCs.  My sister got a 64-bit laptop with Blu-ray and HDMI output for less than the price of the least expensive MacBook.

Category: Posts imported from Danger! Falling Brainwaves, Technology

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