Juice for Belvedere

Last October, I posted about combining a desktop valet and a charger. Apparently others had the same idea. A few months ago I saw a charging valet in the SkyMall catalog. Brookstone was the vendor.

You can see some more charging valets at Wedding Bee. They suggest using them as groomsman gifts. Seems like a pretty good idea to me. My best men got stormproof lighters :)

KangaRooM has a very reasonably priced charging valet as well.

I still think it would be fun to build your own. A drill and a power bar is about all you need.

Symbols for the Colorblind

It's been a year since my last colorblind post, so I thought I'd bring up the topic again. This one is even iPhone related, because I know you can't possibly be sick of hearing about the iPhone. Definitely not.

If you are making web pages, please don't use tiny blips of color to convey meaning. Here is the example of what not to do.

It doesn't take much to fix this problem. Simply add some subtle symbols to the icons to allow those with poor color vision to discern the difference.


iPhone - Successful Before Shipping

Apple's iPhone ships this week. It may make Apple a lot of money, it may not, that's not the topic here. The great thing about the iPhone is that it has been successful in pushing the tech industry without ever selling a single one.

Is everything new on the iPhone? Of course not. Only the uninformed and blinded fans don't realize that the iPhone contains a lot of technology already in use in many other phones. However, the iPhone is doing some things different, and here are a few of the items that I think will benefit the industry.

  • No scrollbars - Real estate on mobile devices is very limited. Apple is bolding ditching the desktop and mouse UI and relying on finger flicks for scrolling. I don't know about you, but hitting arrows the size of the text on a keyboard key, next to a screen bezel is not an easy task. Both Windows Mobile and Palm OS use scrollbars. It will be interesting to see how OS X without scrollbars works.

  • Alphabet scrollers - This is new to me at least. The alphabet down the side of the screen allows more precise scrolling while still saving scroll bar space.

  • Contact based dialing - The iPhone brings focus to calling people based on their contact info primarily and their phone number as a last resort. Yes, please.

  • Simple call management - Putting people on hold, swapping calls, merging for a conference call. These are all a button push away. My home phone and desk phone are all capable of these, but I never use them because I can't remember the steps. Something about pressing flash for 1 second, then hanging up, and something. Who's on the other line? I have no idea, I don't have that information available to me. The iPhone looks amazing in this regard.

  • Google maps - Soon all phones will have mapping. Again, this isn't new. Garmin used to make handhelds that included turn by turn directions. Plentry of other phones do as well, but the tight integration is where Apple is pushing the industry. Auto-dialing from map searches. Contact management of businesses. These are the next steps and Apple has them today.

  • .com button. This is a first to me. The keyboard on the Safari browser has a .com button. That's brilliant. It would be even better if it used some Google smarts to figure out when the .com needs to be .org or .edu. Tapping in .com is a pain. This makes it less painful. Have you ever seen a .com button on a keyboard before?

  • Visual voicemail - I want this at work. I want this at home. This has been needed for years. This will be on all phones within a couple of years if Apple hasn't patented it tight.

  • Smarter button locks - * clear to unlock? No thanks. A simple slide of the finger makes sense. I hate the Sony Ericsson phone at work that lectures me everytime I take too many key presses to unlock it. "Next time hit * 1 to unlock". How about next time, you engineer a solution that doesn't require that you remind me how to use it everytime I do.

  • Full web browser, multi-touch to the masses, continued music/phone integration based on lessons learned with the ROKR.

  • Finally, the price point. We still don't have all of the pricing details, but the iPhone will recalibrate phone pricing. Apple is very successful with setting price points and holding them pretty well. The iPhone's price point clears alot of room for other phone manufacturers to begin making money on phones again. I know many people want free phones, but you get what you pay for. Personally, I'll pay for quality, ease of use, tight integration, and good design. It would be great if the iPhone would slow the yearly churn on cell phones. We have enough old electronics in our landfills.


iTunes Exclusive (except for Best Buy)

While checking the Best Buy ad today, I came across an interesting development. Drive, a previously iTunes exclusive mix by the Crystal Method will now be available on CD, selling exclusively at Best Buy.

From what I've seen, this is the first iTunes exclusive that is no longer exclusive. If you know of others, please drop a note in the comments.

This is further solidifying iTunes as a music store and even content producer. You really don't need further proof than the fact that iTunes is now the #3 music retailer in the US. It seemed only yesterday that people were still saying no one wants to buy music online. I can't say I buy more music from iTunes than elsewhere, but I know that I don't buy from Wal-Mart or Target. The long tail is selling and the brick and mortars are missing out.

As an aside, exclusive is losing meaning. Is it still exclusive if iTunes is the only one selling the digital version and Best Buy is the one selling the CD version? Is it right to call something exclusive if you know it won't be in a short time? Expect this topic to come up alot with the iPhone which is exclusive to AT&T for 2 months to 5 years depending on who you believe.


Save a pixel, plant a Safari

Safari for Windows is out. Overall, I like it. I don't know if it will overthrow Firefox as my default browser, but I'm giving it some time.

One of the first things I noticed was how tight the top of the browser is. Even with the menu bar that is normally on the top of the screen in OS X, Safari still takes up less space than Firefox and IE. The best part is that it does this without losing much usability. Between Safari and Firefox, menus are 1 pixel shorter. Buttons are 11 pixels shorter, so that's where the savings come from. Will I have more misses when I reach for the button bar? We'll see.


WWDC Predictions

Monday's the day. Here's my predictions.

* It's a developer conference. You need to feed the developers. Widget support for Apple TV will be announced.
* 3rd party development for the iPhone will be announced. This will include widget support and a qualification program to get your app Made for iPhone.
* The widgets for the Apple TV and iPhone will be made with Dashcode. You'll be able to deploy your widget across most of the Apple product line. iPods will be excluded, at least until they release the iPhoneish iPod.
* .Mac will get an overhaul. Disk space will be greatly increased. I'd like to believe the Google apps tie-ins, but we'll have to see.
* There will NOT be a tablet Mac. The world still isn't ready for a tablet, no mater how hard Microsoft is trying to build that market. The recent flood of multi-touch gadgets will make the tablet computer far more palatable.
* There won't be much iPhone talk. It will get its own event.
* There will be backlash on Leopard features. It won't have everything everyone is expecting and they'll wonder why they are waiting until October to get it.

Overall, I'm not expecting any major wows. However, the iPhone has been a fantastic smoke screen (people won't stop talking about it) and Apple could be holding some surprises, but I really think the iPhone was an all hands on deck kind of product.


Waaaa, I wanna infringe, waaaaaa

So I bought a new couch. The guy in the factory wrote my name on the cross support underneath the seat. I found this out when I turned it over, cut it open, and started poking around with a flashlight. How dare they put my name in this couch. What if I want to throw this couch through someone's window? It will have my identifying information all over it.

In other news, iTunes Plus songs, that are DRM free, have your account name and email embedded in them. You can't resell them, so you can't claim you care for that reason. You have to digitally dig to find your name, so it isn't like it is popping up all over iTunes. Can anyone come up with a decent reason why this is bad? Are people ever satisfied? I guess we'll have to see what other demons are hiding in there.

Teramac Dreams

WWDC is fast approaching, and now that the new MacBook Pros have been released, I fully expect new iMac hardware to be shown next week. This makes me happy because I've been wanting an iMac for a long time now. I was hoping for a release in January, but that didn't happen. Now, with the delay of Leopard, I still might not buy new hardware until it is released, but still, let's see the new iMac!

So what do I want to see? Honestly, not much. My biggest wish is hard drive capacity. Perhaps I'm an odd dude, but I want prosumer like specs, but I don't want a low end Mac Pro. I want an iMac with a TB of disk space. They are real close now. You can get 750GB as a BTO. The biggest restriction is the iMac's single hard drive.

To get past that single hard drive limitation, let's go big. Let's go 30" big. The iMac currently tops out at 24" and that's the one I've had my eye on. However, if they made a 30" version and filled it will giant hard drives, I might be tempted. I don't want external drives. They are ugly. They take up space. They require more wires and more power supplies. No thanks. I don't want a server in my closet. They're usually loud (even in a closet), burn electricity, and I don't have any outlets in my closets so you have the ugly wires again.

Since we're dreaming, I'll get real crazy and ask for 3 hard drives in my iMac. 2 of them will be high performance drives in a RAID 1 configuration for performance and data reliability. This will hold the OS, applications, and documents. The 3rd will just be that big lump that stores all of my media (music, movies, pictures). If we're shooting for that TB, we can do dual 250 gigers teamed with the single 750 drive. As long as you have room to cram those drives in, this is all quite doable.

So what else do I want? LED backlighting seems to be all the rage. I'm not real picky on video cards. Case redesign? Maybe a tweak or two. I really think the iMac is close to perfection in the case design. Multi-touch display. No thanks. I don't think the world is ready for that on a screen just yet. As a standalone pad, yes, I want one, but think of how people sit in front of the computer screens. The screens aren't usually within comfortable reach. You'd have to design new office chairs and desks to easily do multi-touch on your display. Either that or mount it high on a wall and stand-up.

The countdown continues.