New Thing #349: olloclip

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One of my co-workers brought in an olloclp iPhone lens to work today and let me play around with it.

I’d hear of the clip before but was skeptical of the need for extra lenses when the iPhone 4S’s camera is already so good. Well, I’m happy to say that I was wrong about that. Very wrong.

This thing is amazing. The design is top notch. It’s not too big nor small and clips effortlessly into place over the phone. It has three different lenses: fish-eye, wide angle and my favourite, macro.

The level of detail that the macro lens gets you is amazing. It’s even more amazing when you realize that it came out of your phone. If there’s one downside, it’s that it doesn’t clip over an iPhone case. Luckily I don’t keep mine in one, so that isn’t an issue.

If anyone’s looking for a birthday gift for me I think you’ve found it.

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New Thing #293: iTunes Match

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Ok, I really wanted to have a great new experience using iTunes match tonight, but it would seem my actual new experience would be complete frustration with iTunes match tonight.

Actually, that’s not completely fair, I’m just bummed that it’s been roughly five and a half hours and I’m only about 3/4 of the way through the process of logging all my songs. Granted, there’s nearly 8000 of them, but still, I was hoping this would be a quick and painless process.

Then again, having access to those songs at any time on the go on my phone is pretty damned cool. And it seems to work pretty well, even over 3G; better even than rdio does. I can’t be sure how successful the whole thing is until the entire process is finished and I can see what gaps there are in my library, but for now it seems more than adequate.

Plus I can download all of my lower bitrate “imported” music at 256kb so that’s a pretty damned good bonus for $30.  

New Thing #272: Install Windows on my Mac

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Techincally this post should be entitled “Attempt to Install Windows on my Mac”.

All I wanted to do was play a few little indie games that never came out for the Mac on my computer. Is that so wrong? Apparently someone doesn’t want me to go down rabbit hole because, despite my best efforts, I still haven’t managed to get Windows running correctly on this machine.

I have a feeling I know why, but usually I can bend a few things here and there and find a work around with fairly little pain and suffering. 

Six hours later, I’m still where I started: nowhere.

My last hope is installing this thing off of a USB key, but my grand search has unearthered four 1GB or less models which are worthless for this endeavour.

My kingdom for a 4GB USB key!

New Thing #262: Pay for Starbucks with a Phone

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I haven’t frequented a Starbucks in a very, very long time. Thankfully I have Crema, the wonderful independant coffee shop mere steps away from my office. So when I need my coffee fix, I’ve got it covered for most of the week.

But Starbucks introduced new functionality to their iPhone app. And I just couldn’t resist the allure of using my iPhone to pay for my drink. And as far as apps go, this one is top notch; packing in a ton of functionality into a minimalist design.

I have spent my entire adult life loathing my wallet, and since I want to be prepared for everything it’s always woefully fatter than it should be. This is the first step towards losing the plastic that bulks up my back pocket. 

I just wish I could use it anywhere but Starbucks. Ick.

New Thing #259: XBox Dashboard Preview

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I was lucky enough to get into the XBox Dashboard preview program again this year and found the update sitting there waiting for me this afternoon. After a few minutes of installing, it was like I a brand new XBox sitting in in my living room.

It surpasses the last UI redesign in leaps and bounds, taking the Windows Metro interface and morphing it with the XBox’s. It’s much simpler to find content now and Kinect voice commands are even more prevalent across the system. And unlike the last dashboard, this one feels snappier than ever, maybe even more so than the original blade design.

I didn’t get a chance to delve as deeply into it as I’d like, but everything I saw impressed the heck out of me. It sure has been a great week of tech-geek treasures for me.

New Thing #257: iPhone 4S

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[Photo taken with old, stupid, outdated iPhone 4 that was awesome up until the moment I got this one.]

I’m being facetious. I love my iPhone 4, but now I love my iPhone 4S more. And for one reason: Siri.

I am continually amazed at how much Star Trek technology has actually infiltrated my life.

First the iPhone gave me a Star Trek communicator in my pocket. Then the iPad became every touch screen interface I’d watch people interact with across the Enterprise. Now Siri is my very own “Computer” that I get to ask anything of.

I just wish they’d managed to emulate Majel Barrett-Roddenberry’s voice. And figured out a way for it to make me tea. That’s probably why the iPhone 5 is taking so long.

New Thing #188: Kinect Video Chat

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Every week I try to call my folks on Skype so Audrey can see them in between her running around like a crazy person for an hour. Sounds great, in theory. In practice though, Skype is a turd.

So, when I finally picked up a Kinect unit for my Xbox today the first thing we did was video chat.

For the most part it works pretty darned well. And laying on the couch, talking at a normal volume is way better than screaming into my laptop while Audrey spins my computer chair.

The quality seems better than Skype, the sound is definitely an improvement and I love how the camera follows you around the room.

The future is now people! Please show me to my flying car next.

New Thing #155: Magic Trackpad

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I’ve been using Mac OS X Lion for over a week now and I’m still getting used to it. And I’ll admit that it’s been growing on me. But one thing that’s become clear to me, this OS really wants to integrate touch input into the experience something fierce.

Luckily I got a taste of it wiht my Magic Mouse. Unfortunately, gestures on such a small and rounded surface just feel awkward and clunky. So I broke down and bought myself a Magic Trackpad today.

I’m happy to say that fullscreen apps, Launchpad and Mission Control make so much more sense now. I love swiping between full screen apps at a breakneck pace. I love pulling up Mission Control seamlessless. I love being able pinch outwards (if there is such a thing) to scatter all my windows off my desktop at once. Because when these gestures in Lion work, they work very well.

There’s only one problem, selecting text is a colosal pain in the ass. Sure, double tapping selects a word and triple tapping selects a paragraph, but what about when I just want to select a sentence in the middle? I have to awkwardly press the Magic Trackpad with one finger and then drag with another. 

So it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The trackpad makes interfacing with the OS simpler, smoother and genuinely makes you feel more connected to the hardware. But editing type with it is for shit.

PS. I don’t think there’s anyway I could use this for design work, so I won’t be throwing my mouse out the window just yet. 

PPS. I just accidentally found out that all you have to do is slide three fingers across the trackpad to select text. I take it all back. Steve Jobs can keep my money…again.

New Thing #103: Samsung Galaxy Tab

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Two things have become abundantly clear to me after using the Samsung Galaxy Tab today. 

1. I love my iPad and it’s spoiled me on how a tablet is supposed to feel and react to my gestures
2. I hate Android as a platform

Every time I pick up an Android device it looks just fine. Not great, but good enough. And then I start noodling with it.

Invariably the buttons on the face don’t do what I expect them to. The OS doesn’t react smoothly enough to just disappear into the background. And the apps just never make sense when I get into them. I got stuck in every app I tried, either hitting a dead end without any apparent way to back up or, in one case gave up after being faced with a screen full of legal and ten steps to make the app even run.

The actual  device felt just fine although I’m really not sold on the smaller form factor. Other than reading books, I prefer the bigger area that the iPad offers. And if I wanted something small to read on I’d borrow my wife’s Kindle.

There might be a tablet out there that will make my change my song about the iPad, but this certainly isn’t it.

New Thing #49: Nintendo 3DS

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For the life of me, I just don’t get this whole 3D thing. 

For the few seconds that I played the Nintendo 3DS it was neat. It really felt like I was looking “into” the screen. Very TARDIS-like that way. Then I moved it a millimetre to the left and my entire brain just about broke in two. 

I loved my DS back before I had an iPhone. It did what it needed to do: got out of the way and let me play some games on the go. But when I was playing Pilotwings Resort on the 3DS, it was more fun when I turned the 3D off than it was with it on. The only real 3D fun I had with the thing was playing Face Raiders, a weird augmented reality mashup where you shoot spheres of your face.

This is one gaming platform thatI’m definitely skipping.

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