Canola Update Alert! Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

Remember the iNdT team’s sketches and mock-ups of the next version of Canola? iNdT’s Marcelo Oliveira (aka handful) has just posted an update (video) on the progress of Canola.

Marcelo shows Canola’s new gorgeous Picture Viewer and Music Player interface with kinetic scrolling all around, and their version of cover flow. They intend to benefit from the Internet Tablet’s version of EFL (enlightenment foundation libraries) 16 bit version to provide fluid transitions.

Marcelo also mentioned that YouTube and plug-ins will be included by default but they plan to have other developers extend Canola by creating plug-ins to stream other types of content and connect to other web services. The new version of Canola will have all the settings integrated in the app.

Expect to see the first public beta to be released sometime the first week of December. Marcelo also hinted to watch out for another release in 2008 as they add new features to Canola, having something to do with the Webkit.


Google Pre-Launches New iPhone Interface Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

We heard a rumor that Google was going to launch a new interface for users accessing the site via an iPhone in the next few days. But an anonymous tip let us know it actually launched without any warning or announcement this evening.

If you visit from an iPhone, you now get a menu of services to choose from – home (search box), Gmail, Calendar, Reader and More (docs, sms, goog-411, news, photos, blogger and notebook). It’s basically all of the core Google services, accessible from a single easy to use menu.

The new application has what is now considered a signature look for the iPhone. The look and feel of many of the interface elements are similar to those created by Joe Hewitt, whose sample framework and code have been used in dozens of iPhone applications (see his Facebook product here). I don’t know if Google used any of his freely offered code, but it certainly has the look of one of his applications.

Accessing the site through other mobile devices continues to deliver the old Google Mobile interface.

More pictures of the interface are below, created with a simulator. Real but poor quality images are here.

Nokia Music Phone Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

Nokia/Universal announce “The single biggest issue that’s facing the music industry is there are huge waves of devices being sold and shipped to consumers on a daily basis. Very few of these devices are then subsequently used to subscribe [to] legitimate downloads,” says Universal Music executive Rob Wells.

Enter Nokia’s new “Comes With Music” devices.

Announced at the annual Nokia World conference today, “Comes With Music” will enable customers to buy a Nokia device with a year of unlimited access to “millions of tracks”, and, rather surprisingly, get to keep those tracks once the twelve month period ends. Of the four major labels, however, Universal Music is the only one to have signed on. Nokia gave no further details, such as the type of DRM employed (if any?), and the likely cost of “Comes With Music”-ready handsets. Nor in which regions the service will eventually be made available.

“We set out to create the music experience that people are telling us they are looking for – all the music they want in the form of unlimited downloads to their mobile device and PC,” said Nokia’s Anssi Vanjoki in a prepared statement.

Universal Music TotalMusicOn the future of digital music, Universal’s Wells told Reuters that “we are moving into an access world” where consumers will be given access to a vast library of music “through the price of the device, or the price of service, or the price of broadband.”

The “access world” that Wells describes, and Nokia/Universal’s response, sounds a lot like the TotalMusic plan that Universal has been reportedly trying to sell to its music industry and technology partners. We first wrote about TotalMusic in September, describing it as a “music tax” on a user’s broadband connection or music device purchase. In a follow-up post in October, we clarified how TotalMusic might work with regard to cell phones or other devices:

For cell phones, the hardware manufacturers or cell carriers will absorb the cost of a roughly $5-per-month subscription fee so consumers get a device with all-they-can-listen-to music already enabled. It is not clear whether the devices will cost more to the consumer to cover Total Music fees or if they will be charged for the service through their phone bills.

However, where TotalMusic and the Universal/Nokia model appears to differ, is that, as already mentioned, users get to keep the music they’ve downloaded even after their “subscription” period ends. On that point, Wells says that he doesn’t expect customers to try to download all of the music that Nokia makes available.

“I don’t believe that every consumer who buys these devices will clot themselves on everything they can. I believe there will be large proportion of consumers that won’t use this device for any music,” Wells said.

Update: “Comes With Music” will employ Windows DRM. See our follow-up post ‘More details on Nokia, Universal’s “Comes With Music” offering, and why TotalMusic is doomed from the start‘.

iPhone iSync: the beginnings of WiFi syncing Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

iPhone iSync is potentially a very interesting application with great promise. It’s a GUI implementation of an rsync-based folder synchronization tool that works with WiFi. This means it will sync a folder on your Mac to your iPhone/iPod touch over the wireless network. In the future, this suggests the possibility of iTunes syncing over WiFi… unfortunately, it’s not quite there yet.

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The author, francisois, says that he has “reached a breakthrough that has allowed me to synchronize my own iPod Touch over wi-fi with an older version of iTunes,” and he is working on getting iTunes 7.5 support but a few obstacles remain. Nonetheless, he eventually plans for syncing music, photos, contacts, and bookmarks over WiFi.

Obviously you’ll need a jailbroken iPhone to use this. If you have any experience with “shell scripts and ssh and especially iTunes library access,” francisois is looking for help. iPhone iSync is a free download from its Google Code page.

8 Predictions for Macworld 2008 Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

Predictions are fun. I like predictions. I’m not always that great at them, but I like them. In my defense, though, last year everyone thought we were going to be seeing more at Macworld than just two products…and I did get the “one more thing” right…even though it was the main event.

Anyway, in the interest of good fun, I’ve hunkered down, thought about it, and come up with my 8 predictions for Macworld 2008.

1. iTunes Update

Jobs will spin the recent announcement of higher priced titles in a positive way, almost convincing all of us that it’s the greatest addition to iTunes ever. The video quality will be improved to justify the price increase, and several major studios will finally be on board.

In addition to purchasing movies movie rentals will also be added to the iTunes store – with some serious DRM restrictions.

2. AppleTV Update

Higher capacity AppleTVs will be available, with a software update including access to the iTunes store directly on the device.

3. The Strongest Holiday Season Ever

When Jobs gets into the numbers we’ll see that Apple has had their best selling holiday shopping season in their history. iPhone sales will in no way be affected by the fact that we all know a 3G iPhone is coming in 2008, the entire iPod line will have sold more than ever before, and the Mac line will also be at its best holiday sales number ever.

Fanboy dreaming? Doubtful. That’s a continuing trend over 2007 that I expect to fly right on through to 2008.

4. Updated Macbooks

We’re already getting reports that Apple is purchasing 13.3 inch BLUs. Some have speculated that they will be used for a new, long rumored, Apple sub-notebook. Of course, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, because the Macbook is already a 13.3 inch screen device – so how could the same size screen be for a sub-notebook?

Instead we’ll get a full aluminum Macbook with a BLU LED screen and updated specs.

5. No iTablet

The rumored iTablet device will NOT be at Macworld. I am still a firm believer that a device that is the size of a paper back book running Leopard with a mini-DVD drive makes no sense, and I don’t expect to see it at Macworld – or anywhere – ever.

6. iPhone and iPod Touch Software Updates

Jobs will remind us that they are constantly trying to add value to the iPhone and iPod Touch by making great software for it. The update will include several bug fixes, and small new features (like sending SMS messages to more than one person at a time), and a native iChat application.

I know, I know, “Apple won’t make iChat for the iPhone because they want you to send SMS messages”. If that’s true, then why do they show you how to send FREE SMS message on their site. You can click here or here to find direct links to free SMS apps for your iPhone. The only Apps you can’t seem to find on Apple site, are the IM applications. My guess, is because they’d rather you use theirs when it comes out.

7. iPhone SDK

The iPhone SDK will be announced as available to developers at the end of January, and they will demo applications that are already being developed by those who received the kits early.

One More thing…Mac Nano

While the “One More Thing…” hasn’t made an appearance at every Keynote in the last year or so, I think we’ll see it this time, with an all new, completely redesigned, and insanely small, Mac Mini replacement.

So there they are. I’m sure you’ll agree with almost none of them…as always, feel free to write your own predictions in the comments below the article.

VM + Apple = I Car (IBUG) Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

Verry cool concept —- talks are on hold for now.

Five Things We Don’t Miss About Old-School Computing Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

Last week, we were waxing nostalgic, thinking about all the things we miss about the early days of computing. This week, we’ve woken up. Let’s face it: Lots of things back then sucked.

At the risk of sounding like crotchety grandfathers, we’ll say it: “These kids today have it soft, dag nab it.” If you were born after the first Star Wars movie, you might not be aware of just how cushy your computing life is. For proof, we offer five examples.

1. The Tower of Babel

Say what you want to about the impressive rise of Linux and the Macintosh, but Microsoft Windows and the PC architecture remain the dominant standards in today’s computing world. Both alternative operating systems read FAT32 disks to maintain some sort of Windows compatibility, and the Mac’s innards resemble those of a PC more and more every year.

Back when Bill Gates was still working on his first billion, though, it was like the Wild West out there: Any given household might have a computer from Commodore, Apple, Texas Instruments or Radio Shack–to name a few–that could share hardware with or read floppy disks from other makes only with the intercession of some kind of kludge or adapter (if you were lucky). Even if you were dealing with two computers from the same company, there was no guarantee that they’d be compatible.

2. Unitasking

It’s 1982. You’ve finally finished your term paper and you’re printing it out, along with the accompanying charts. Good for you. You might as well take a break–not because you’ve earned it, but because you have no choice. As far as the computer’s concerned, any task is all-consuming: While it’s busy churning out the pages, it can’t do anything else. And getting output from a dot-matrix printer takes a while, with printing speeds rated in characters per second. (Pages per minute? That’s crazy talk!) Also, the racket the printer makes is great if you need to drill through a brick wall into the bank vault next door, but otherwise — not so great. The only drawback of the multitasking operating systems that came along later is that they eliminated a great excuse for goofing off.

3. Download Dilemma

Downloading in the Web era is pretty easy: You click a link, and…actually, that’s pretty much it. But in the days before Mosaic hit the scene, you had your choice of download protocols, sporting names like Kermit, Sealink, Punter, XMODEM, YMODEM, and (wait for it) ZMODEM. (Some also included variants, like XMODEM-1k and ZMODEM-90.) Consequently you had to find out which protocol the system you were connected to used, and make sure that your software used the same one. In many cases, you’d have to activate the downloading process manually once the sending computer initiated the transfer. No wonder people didn’t get around to trading music until much later.

4. Weightlifting

True story: Twenty years ago, when I was working at a computer store, it took three people to get an incredibly hefty NEC laser printer up the narrow stairs to the second floor. Not only is the laser printer that now sits on my desk more powerful than that old NEC, but I can carry it under my arm. Electronics in general have gotten smaller and lighter in the interim, but arguably computers and their accessories have been sticking more strictly to the Slim-Fast diet. There are exceptions, of course–the original Macintosh had a built-in handle for easy toting, and the Sinclair ZX80 weighed less than a pound–but overall, you had to eat your Wheaties if you made a regular habit of rearranging your office. Still not convinced? Consider that the “luggable” Osborne-1, the first portable, self-contained computer, weighed nearly 24 pounds…and people considered it a mobile breakthrough.

5. Bickering

Which system had better games, the Apple II or the Commodore 64? Which was better for low-cost desktop publishing, the Amiga or the Atari ST? From half-joking jibes to all-out flame wars, debates over people’s computer preferences sometimes seemed inescapable. RAM, storage, graphics capabilities, expansion options–all were used as ammunition in a seemingly endless and pointless series of battles between computer users seeking to justify the money they’d spent for their particular choice. Fortunately, the sophisticated computer users of today would never waste their time and effort on this type of childish and futile argu– Oh, wait, never mind.

Firefox 3 beta goes portable Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

Want to test out Firefox 3 beta without messing up all of your precious Firefox 2 settings? Easy, just install the portable version. The Portable Apps developers have been doing a great job of pushing out versions of Firefox that can be run from a flash drive within a few days of every major Firefox release lately. And now that Firefox 3 has hit the beta stage, they’ve started portablizing (is that a word?) it as well.

Because Firefox Portable is self-contained, it will not write any data to your hard drive or registry. That means you can test out Firefox 3’s new features like Places, and improved location bar without messing up your current settings. You don’t have to install Firefox 3 Portable to a flash drive, you can just as easily install it to a folder on your hard drive.

If you want to run Firefox 3 beta while you have a Firefox 2 window open, you’ll need to make one small tweak. Find the FirefoxPortable.ini file in \Other\Sources\ and copy it to the directory that has FirefoxPortable.exe. Edit FirefoxPortable.ini with Notepad, Wordpad, or whatever text editor you prefer, and change AllowMultipleInstances=false so that it says true. Save the file and you can now run Firefox 2 and 3 at the same time.

Apple Ultra-Portable MacBook Rumor Roundup Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

As rumors start to build for Macworld San Francisco 2008, the most consistent rumor appears to be one of an ultra-portable Apple notebook computer.

These rumors started back in March 2006 by MacScoop who indicated that “very reliable” sources had indicated that Apple was planning on releasing an “ultra-thin 12 inch Mac Book Pro”. More confirmation came from an analyst, Benjamin Reitzes in June, 2006 with expectations that an “ultra-portable” Mac could be delivered as early as Macworld San Francisco 2007. Reitzes also suggested that these new ultra-portables would use NAND flash memory, either in combination with a traditional hard drive or using NAND flash alone.

Indeed, earlier in 2006, Digitimes had first reported that Apple and Intel were researching the use of NAND flash in portables to improve boot time and battery life. MacScoop later detailed the thin-laptop to be a $1700-$1800 12″ MacBook Pro with dual core processor and still retain an optical drive.

Macworld San Francisco 2007, of course, came and went with no new ultra-portable, but in February, more claims emerged from Appleinsider confirming that Apple was working on a mini-MacBook “lighter and more compact than any other Mac portable Apple has put forth in recent years”. These specs claimed that the new laptop would exclude a built-in optical drive and would indeed use NAND flash memory.

9to5mac added a report in September that an aluminum MacBook prototype had been spotted that was “considerably slimmer” than the current MacBook Pros, with a thinner bezel around the screen and “something strange about the touchpad”.

Finally, as we approach 2008’s Macworld, some more confident reports have emerged with Appleinsider now believing that the new ultra-portable laptop will be released at Macworld as a 13″ aluminum notebook with NAND flash, no optical drive, and LED backlit screens. Even CNBC now has their own sources claiming that a 12″ sub-portable MacBook Pro with Flash memory only (no hard drive) would be introduced and retail for around $1500 at Macworld.

Based on the confidence and number of reports, it seem very likely that some sort of ultra-portable laptop will be arriving from Apple in January. To sum up claims:

MacScoop: 12″, Ultra-Thin, Optical Drive, Dual Core, $1700-$1800
Appleinsider: 13″, aluminum, 50% lighter, Slim, NAND Flash, LED backlit, No Optical Drive
CNBC: 12″, 50% Thinner, NAND Flash only (no HDD). $1500
9to5mac: “something strange about the touchpad”

To be fair, MacScoop’s reports were from a year ago, so details may have changed in the interim. It’s also conceivable that Apple may have more than one product in the works that could explain some of the discrepancies.

To give some perspective on what might be possible, readers are reminded of a prototype Intel laptop (Metro) that was revealed in May of this year. The concept design was said to go into production near the end of 2007 and offered the following specs:

– 2.25 lbs
– 0.7 inches thick
– 14 hours battery life
– NAND Flash
– WiMax, Cellular, WiFi support

As a concept design with no regard to cost, all of these features may not be included in a theoretical Mac laptop, but it does provide an idea of what might be possible with current technology.

Breaking: VOIP on iPod touch Tuesday, Dec 11 2007 

Remember Marian, the guy who’s building a preamped mic mike for the iPod touch? Today he writes that touch hacker eok has ported Samuel’s SvSIP to the iPod. SvSIP uses the SIP protocol to connect to other participants and to allow you to talk over WiFi. I tried porting SIP myself and didn’t get very far.

Marian writes that eok has been able to both send and receive calls and promises screen shots as soon as possible.

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