Monday, May 29, 2006

Will Apple release a phone?

One of the early posts on this blog had to do with speculation last year that Apple would release a mobile phone in the near future (check out that older post here). Today, an article in Wired talked about the supposedly necessary convergence of the mobile phone and the mp3 player. One of the points the author made (one that I agreed with, though I don't own a mobile phone) was that if such a marriage is to be successful, it would have to be as easy to use as the iPod is.

Though I don't own a mobile phone, my impression is that most of them have a lot of bells and whistles that most people don't use because they are too complicated. Which is where Apple comes in. But I don't think Steve Jobs and Company will, or should, come out with a simple "iPhone," mostly because the competition has too much of a head start in the field.

But while Apple would normally have trouble getting a toe-hold in the mobile phone business, they have a huge lead in the mp3 player side of things, and I think they could become a major player if the next iPod they release has some sort of mobile functionality too. In other words, this wouldn't be a phone that plays music, it would be an iPod that does mobile. With flash memory getting cheaper and cheaper, I think a 4- or 8-Gb flash-based iPod with telephone (and Bluetooth) functionality would be a big hit. And one of the main draws would be simplicity of design. Much of the work is already done, with contact and calendar info already integrated into the iPod OS. Just add a slip-out numeric keypad, or evolve the click wheel along these lines and you're off to the races. Heck, I would even consider getting one.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Hello Firefox!

This afternoon, I made a seemingly small decision that had far-reaching repercussions in my computer use.

It all started with an innocuous Quicksilver notification for a new gCal plug-in. I promptly installed it and tested it out. It worked like a charm. Adding an event to gCal via Quicksilver is, like most QS actions, now a matter of a few keystrokes. Great. One problem. I don't really use gCal, mostly because it doesn't play nice with Safari.

So I fired up FireFox and played around a little with gCal (I am of course referring to Google Calendar) and found I quite like it. It's not everything I want in a Calendar, but it's at least as good as iCal.

So I made a decision then and there to try using FireFox as my default browser for a while. There are pros and cons here: I won't need to have two browsers open (previously I had been using FF for a couple of specific sites that don't work well in Safari). On the other hand, I'll need to have a separate RSS feeder open alongside FF, so any CPU usage I'm saving by shutting down Safari I lose by having to run NetNewsWire.

Now all I need is some party invitations that I can add to gCal so I can justify such a grand dérangement.


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Thursday, May 04, 2006

CBC's expanded podcast lineup

As I have mentioned before the CBC's podcast lineup has been woefully inadequate for some time. I say this only slightly tongue-in-cheek, given that podcasting has only really been around for, a couple of years. Given the CBC's chronic underfunding and the fact that most of their resources are going into producing the Stanley Cup Playoff broadcasts these days, I suppose they can be forgiven for not setting the trend. But compared to other public broadcasters, they are definitely dragging their heels.

Well, that has now changed, at least somewhat, with the announcement yesterday that Canada's public broadcaster has expanded its offering to 22 podcasts. They have a series of seven daily podcasts, with a different one updated every day of the week; these include the excellent program Ideas, as well as other more newsy programs such as Dispaches, The Current and As It Happens.

A second series, called "Features" has five podcasts, most of which compile segments of CBC programs around a common theme. For example, the Words at Large podcast features snippets of literary interviews culled from a variety of programs. (Incidentally, I was not that impressed with this particular podcast. The host talked too much, and the interviews were truncated to the extreme. It was more frustrating than anything else. I'll be dropping the producer an e-mail for sure).

A third series has roundups of local news and stories from various regions of Canada.

Overall, I'd say it's a promising start. I'm particularly thrilled that I can now listen to Ideas at my leisure; this podcast will surely be on my weekly must-listen list. Now, if they would only get Writers & Co. for download, I'd be completely satisfied.

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