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Death Of The iPhone?

March 5th, 2010 by Steve

My name is Steve and I have an iPhone.

And now I have a Motorola Droid too.

And if Apple & AT&T don’t get their collective crap together, I think the Driod will almost certainly kill the iPhone. In fact, I thought I saw it toting around a muddy shovel a few minutes ago. Where did my iPhone go anyway?

See, here’s the thing that makes you want to pound dents into the wall with your head. Between the two, the iPhone wins in my book. Better, more intuitive interface, easier to figure out, better touch screen, heck, better screen all around, it takes better photos, apps are better (for now), and it’s just more “natural” to use (you know, if a phone was a naturally occurring phenomenon). It only has one Achilles heel – and it’s a big one – consisting of three little letters:

AT&T

Yup, the iPhone is the best ever, as long as you don’t actually want to use it to call someone. Maybe they should have just named it the iPhoneIfYou’reLucky. Sure, if you’re in a major city then, well, no, strike that. Nope, spotty all over. Since getting mine, I’ve traveled from Ohio to as far south as Florida, as far northwest as Seattle, and as far southwest as Lone Pine, CA. Most of these miles by car (25K on that baby since May 09!)

And AT&T lets me down more consistently than a weatherman at a nuthouse. Even if I have a corner chock full of little bars, it still seems like I have the same chances as a coin toss when I try to make a call or check my e-mail.

True story:

My daughter and I (both iPhone users at the time – yes, she’s as spoiled as last year’s milk) were literally standing side by side in the mall over Christmas a few months ago. Despite the fact that we both held a fistful of bars in our cellular hands, the iPhones couldn’t call each other.

Her friend, however, had no problems with Verizon.

Sure, I could dismiss it as a fluke the first couple dozen times it happened, but even the stupidest of dogs will run away if they get kicked in the head often enough. Heck, I was out at CES this year and AT&T was a joke – check this out.

Enter the Droid.

See, after using the iPhone for a year, it just wasn’t possible to go back to a “normal” phone. I have come to enjoy NOT having to yank out my laptop every time I need to check e-mail, look up a potential product for WorldStart, check sales, find a deal on flip flops, etc. In fact, when I’m out on the road, I can pretty much run WorldStart with just my phone (and a good staff doesn’t hurt either :) )

Ah…But not without a signal.

See why the Droid is so appealing?

So, I had a Verizon phone at the end of its contract, and instead of just closing the account as planned and becoming a full-time iPhone user, I upgraded to a Droid.

I get signals where once there were none back in the iPhone days. In fact, I like using the Droid in front of iPhone users. While they’re getting the “Cannot Activate Cellular Data Network” error for the sixth time, I get to surf and check e-mail with a bliss that was formally reserved for significant life events like marriage or childbirth.

Alas, it’s not as good as the iPhone though. It’s really not. It’s not quite as easy to use, the MP3 player blows compared to an iPhone, it’s all but impossible to watch a movie on it (unless it was an illegal copy), and the Apps just aren’t out there like they are for the iPhone.

It’s frustrating, but I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

See, I think one of two things are going to happen.

Scenario 1 – Apple tells AT&T to get their network up to standards that are actually useable or they’re going to open their iPhone up to all the other carriers (like they have in other countries). Or maybe Apple doesn’t do this and AT&T continues to spend money on stupid commercials trying to convince everyone they have a good network, and we get…

Scenario 2 – The Driod replaces the iPhone as the premier smart phone. Sure, it’s not quite there as of this generation, but phones get changed and updated more often than a sit-coms toss out sexual innuendos. Also, as time goes on, the apps for the Driod type phones are going to catch up to the iPhone and possibly surpass it.

So, if I were Apple, I think maybe I’d have that worried little trickle of sweat running down the side of my forehead right about now. AT&T is killing your phone guys. Sure, it’s the best now, but when I talked to the Verizon guy as I was picking up my shiny new Droid a couple months ago, he said iPhone users are flocking over in droves. After all, an iPhone you can’t use half the time is simply an expensive iPod.

Yeah, I’m sure plenty of people are going to think I’m crazy. To them I ask, hey, how’s your collection of 8 track tapes, betamax videos and HD DVD players? Great ideas can and do crash and burn.

I think I understand why the whole audience groaned during the Apple iPad announcement when Steve Jobs mentioned AT&T was going to be handing the wireless access for the, umm, “magical” (his words, not mine) new iPad.

So, what’s the point of this excessively long rant? I just hate to see something really good fail. It’s frustrating to me. It’ll be ashame to see the iPhone resigned as nothing more than a footnote in the mobile phone history books. I know mine will revert back to an iPod just as soon as my contract runs out.

~Steve

PS – Check back here in 3 years or so and we’ll see if I was right :) Or hey, comment below and let me know what you think.

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New Blog Feature!

March 4th, 2010 by Steve

Hey, this is really exciting! It’s just like the time my dog chased the groundhog through my backyard with me chasing after him (the dog, not the groundhog) like an idiot. Well, except there won’t be any growling, blood, or me slipping in mud and landing squarely on my rump (OK, I guess I can’t make any promises about that last part).

Where was I?

Oh yeah!

Do you have a smartphone? You know, like a soon-to-be-killed-by-AT&T iPhone (more on that tomorrow) or a Droid or something? Well, if you do, then you can experience the magic and wonder of this blog right on your smartphone.

How?

Just head to blog.worldstart.com using the web browser in your smartphone. If you do it with your computer-based web browser, it’s gonna just look like, well, like this. You need to use your smartphone. Instead of the webpage you normally see here, you’ll get a customized blog experience delivered right to your tiny little screen. How cool is that?

So, yeah, that’s pretty much all I had for you today. I know, it’s kind of a lame post, but hey, we wanted you to know. Besides, this gives you something to do next time you’re waiting at the dentist office, doctor’s office, DMV, etc.

Oh, that reminds me of a joke!

Did you know they finally figured out how to slow down the speed of light?

They shine it though the line at the post office!

OK, maybe it wasn’t that funny. Still reading this? I can’t believe you’re still hanging on there sport. I gotta hand it to you, I’d have left by now, but you are a stick-to-it kind of individual. Way to go!

Hmm. OK, guess I’m done. So, give our blog a try on your smartphone – it’s really cool looking. Oh, and hey, speaking of smartphones, I’m planning a pretty good rant for tomorrow, so make sure you stop by :)

~Steve

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Don’t Press F1 !!!

March 3rd, 2010 by Gary

LOL! I just saw this article about how Microsoft is advising customers using Windows XP to not press the F1 key. I can’t help but make a comment on this one.

Talk about the perfect way to spread a virus! You get some poor person to a website that doesn’t make any sense and then tell them to press F1 for help. When they do… BAM! Virus. The good news is that this only works on XP computers that are running internet explorer.

Hmm… Yet another reason to use Firefox. How many reasons is that? Like 5 million?

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History Repeats Itself

February 28th, 2010 by Steve

And now for something totally different…

As the current health care debate rages on, it’s easy to think this is brand new territory with new arguments, new problems and new agendas. Ahh, but it’s all happened before. Just check out what former president (then just citizen), Ronald Reagan had to say about it nearly 50 years ago in a 1961 broadcast:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRdLpem-AAs

I don’t know where you fall on the debate, I personally think something needs to be done so those without health insurance can get and afford it. I honestly don’t think the plan the Democrats are proposing right now is the answer, and I’m not sure the Republican’s plan is 100% right either.

Wait, I know!!! I have a great idea!

Perhaps we need a summit where both sides can get together and come to some sort of consensus that the American people can actually get on board with. Oh, wait, that’s right, they tried that the other day. Instead of results, we got a load of posturing from both sides.

And they wonder why congressional approval ratings are in the political toilet…

~ Steve

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Windows 7 – Tail-Waggin’ Fun

February 25th, 2010 by Steve

So, I’ve been using Windows 7 for a few months now and I’ve had lots of people asking me what I think of it. Well, you know how some days you’re the dog, and some days you’re the hydrant? I have to say, I’ve been spending a lot more time wagging my tail than putting out fires since the switch.

And I think I’m starting to see a pattern too. Taking a cue from the above analogy we might even call it the “Dog & Hydrant” paradigm.

See, with Windows 95, ME, and Vista you were pretty much the hydrant – and you lived right next to a dog park. With Windows 98, XP, and 7, you get to be the dog. I mean, sure, there are days when things seem a little damp and you could swear the guy that parked next to you just got a ticket, but for the most part every other operating system MS tosses our way is good.

Dog, hydrant, dog, hydrant, etc…

So, while this pattern is probably fairly depressing for those on the Windows 8 development team, at least we have a sold OS with Windows 7. (Take THAT Snow Kitty or whatever feline OS name Apple is up to now – just kidding, I want to like Macs, just haven’t gotten there yet).

So far, Windows 7 has been solid. It doesn’t crash, seems to run smooth, is fairly secure by Windows standards, and bad lock ups are as common as 3-eyed unicorns. We’re running it on all the office computers too, and like the readers of this blog, it’s a winner (never hurts to suck up, right?).

It’s always nice when M$ gets it right. Sure, Windows Vista SHOULD have been what Win 7 is (and ME should have been XP, etc), but hey  – don’t think of it as getting ripped off every other OS, just think of it as paying twice as much to be frustrated half the time.

OK, I suppose I should start digging up a point here sometime soon, so here it is. If you are thinking about going from Vista to 7, yeah, do it. Total no-brainer. Vista sucks like a supercharged Hoover. If you’re running XP, then yeah, you should see if your computer supports Win 7 and give it a go. I can tell you that if you try an XP computer after a few weeks with Win 7 you’ll think you slipped back into the digital dark ages of dial-up connections and CD ROMs.

Oh, and if you want to check and see if your PC is good to go for the upgrade, MS has a program you can infect, err, install on your machine located here.

There, now everyone knows what I think of Windows 7. Advice worth every penny you paid for it :)

~Steve

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You Can Thank AOL

February 23rd, 2010 by Andy

Now I’ve been snuggling up with computers since I was about 10 years old, I figure, but it wasn’t until my first time logging onto a BBS (Bulletin Board System) that I truly considered what I was getting myself into. Seeing that “Username/Password” screen spring up in ASCII text felt like somebody saying to me, “Here’s the world; will that be paper or plastic?” Through my BBS experiences I chatted with folks from Australia via Telnet and played the first massively multiplayer role-playing games, called “MUDs” with friends I would eventually have the pleasure of meeting in person. Heck, my best friend was one of the first people I met off there.

At the time of my bulletin board prominence the consumer Internet as we know it was still in its infancy, relatively speaking. Prodigy was the first “official” service I remember toying with, but it really wasn’t until America Online started their software saturation campaign that things really began to heat up. When I think back, they must have delivered at least 30 of those stupid floppy discs a week to my folk’s house.  Eventually, there were so many you couldn’t give ‘em away! Our local Salvation Army Store even had a separate section for unused AOL floppy discs. Only 10¢ each! At least when they switched to sending  AOL on compact disc you could put them in the microwave for a quick fireworks show. I don’t recommend doing this unless you’re a stupid 15 year old boy, however.

But think about it for a second. How many of those discs actually did get installed? How many people “logged on” for the first time and saw the potential wealth of knowledge and slacking that stood before them? Now think about how many people those people told, and how many people bought a computer because they wanted to get in on the fun. This was magical, akin to the invention of  TV and the Radio; and where computers were just glorified calculators and word-processors before; the Internet made them a staple of life. And what made this possible? Yep, you guessed it; America Online and their shotgun advertising blitz.

I talk all kinds of smack about AOL, mainly because I think there are simply better ways to access the Internet, yet I have to give them credit, because without them where would we be?

There’s a bad side to this, and it’s a personal one for me, but I’ll save it for another entry. In the meantime, have a good argue with someone about it and get back to me.

~Andy

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I’d Like My Curling Live, Thank You

February 23rd, 2010 by Mike

For those of us who may not know, the 2010 Winter Olympics are in their final week up in Vancouver. Have you been watching most of it live?  If you’re watching NBC the answer is most likely a resounding “no”.  This year NBC has implemented a strategy that not only withholds live coverage, but runs many top events on tape delay during prime time for the sole purpose of boosting ratings and increasing ad revenue.  Is it working?  You bet it is.

Last Wednesday (February 17) was a huge day for the Americans, winning a total of six medals in that day’s competitions.  Medalists Shani Davis and Shaun White’s competitions of speed skating and half-pipe snowboarding, respectively, were shown live during prime time, however the night’s biggest story ended up being shown on tape delay.  Earlier that day was the women’s downhill skiing, featuring American Lindsey Vonn.  With a busted shin, her ability to even compete was thrown into question.  Luckily she was able to and landed an impressive gold medal victory in the downhill practically skiing on one leg.  It was arguably the most dramatic competition in this year’s Olympics and, unless you were in Vancouver, no one saw it live.

NBC’s strategy of withholding coverage of Vonn’s victory paid off very well for the network.  It smashed American Idol in that evening’s Nielson TV ratings, the first time that’s been accomplished since 2004, by hauling in 29.4 million total viewers.  News of the downhills results spread quickly before anyone had a chance to see it thanks to today’s technology.  Posted online results, mixed with social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, helped to spread the news quickly.  Because NBC refused to post live coverage of the event on TV or online, those wanting to watch the dramatic event had to do so in prime time.

The big question now is if NBC’s tape delay strategy is ruining the Olympics for many fans.  Many viewers are already objecting due to the fact they cannot see many events live.  For me, watching the Olympics live are what makes them exciting.  It’s the holding your breath, can’t wait wait to see what happens, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” feeling.  I remember watching Michael Phelps win his seventh gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Beijing two years ago.  His 0.01 second victory over Serbia’s Milorad Cavic in the 100m butterfly swim had everyone in a fit of hysteria.  That is live competition- everyone stops to watch, some holding their breath and others screaming at the television.  I was the latter.  Unfortunately the incredible victory by Lindsey Vonn wasn’t the same.  We all knew she would win.

Is the combination of today’s quick communication technology and NBC’s tape delay strategy about to ruin the thrill of the Olympics?  I understand NBC needs to bring in ad revenue to help pay for Olympic coverage but come on, is it really worth it to anger an entire nation of fans just to boost ratings?  I want to see my curling live just like everyone else wants to.

-Mike

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That’s WAY Out Of Line

February 22nd, 2010 by Steve

You know, I was kind of hoping my first “regular” blog post would be about something funny. It’s not.

Take a gander at the article below, it describes how the Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pa. generously  issued 1800 laptop computers to students, then used the built in web cams to spy on them. Take a look, I’ll wait here.

Read this (opens in a new window – google the name of the school + laptop if you want even more info)

Ticked off? I am. I’m hoping that something will bubble up over the next few days and we’ll discover that the allegations are false. Although I’ve read several articles on this, and I think we need to expect the worst.

See, for me this hits close to home. My daughter is starting high school next year, and while they aren’t issuing laptops (at least not yet), I now shudder to think what could happen if they did.

Frankly, I’m not sure what I’m more irritated about – the fact that they used the webcams to spy, or the fact that they were actually arrogant enough to contact parents / students about apparent “inappropriate behavior”. You’d think SOMEONE at that school would have thought, “Gee this just doesn’t seem right, I wonder if we’re crossing a line”.

Instead, the “We know what’s best for you” side took over. And hey, if we happen to catch that cute 16 year old or her hot mom getting dressed, well, oops. You gotta wonder (and be sickened) by what must have been going on in the backroom of the IT department under the guise of either “monitoring our equipment” or perhaps “what best for our students”.

Just think, give the kids laptops and you can take a snapshot of the room where the laptop is turned on at any time. The fact that it was probably a minor’s bedroom (and a felony) didn’t seem to matter much to them.

In addition, what if it was left in another room, say of a non student? If I were a parent, I’d be seriously worried about the laptop that was sitting on the dresser when I got out of the shower. Hmm… Was that turned on? Can’t recall…

Frankly, the whole thing is criminal and those that perpetrated it should prosecuted. Period. I guess there was some wavier they signed that indicated that the school could remotely monitor the computer in the event of theft, but it was not disclosed that they would use the webcam for this purpose. (Which is kind of stupid anyway – how does taking a snapshot of a strange room in a strange house help you locate the computer? Were they hoping to get a picture of some mail sitting near the computer and get the address of that? These are educators?)

Besides, it’s all BS anyway when you consider the laptop of the  student confronted for his “inappropriate behavior” wasn’t stolen or reported as such, so why was the school “monitoring” it in the first place? Some form of misguided, voyeuristic self-righteousness?

In my opinion, (and that of anyone with an ounce of common sense) activating a webcam remotely goes WAY over the line.  I’m sure if the school would have said they could use the webcam to spy on anyone in front of the computer, there would have been around 1800 laptops sitting in the school warehouse.

In the end, I guess if you accept a laptop from a school you should read the fine print (that in this case wouldn’t have helped anyway) and then come straight up and ask them if they are going to spy on you with it.

And seriously think about investing in a roll of black tape for the webcam before firing it up.

EDIT: Turns out they thought he was selling drugs – Mike And Ike Candy looks like pills apparently…

Also, I think I have the time fixed, sorry about that

~Steve

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Google, Leave Social Alone. Please.

February 20th, 2010 by Gary

Hey everyone.

Since this is my first post, I’m gonna start out by sharing a little about myself then I’ll start my rant.

As Steve mentioned in his previous post, I “wear a lot of hats” here at Worldstart. As a matter of fact, most people that work here have lots of hats. I think that’s what makes WS an interesting place.

Some of you may know me as “tech support”, “security article guy” or “free download article guy”. When I started here, that is what I was hired for. But… that quickly changed and now I do a few more things that many of you may not know about. For one, I do a lot of the web page development here. That means that I make the web pages work (please don’t confuse that with making the web pages look cool, that’s Mike’s job). I also help out with the products we sell and I look over the newsletters before anyone else sees them (are you jealous?).

Well, that’s enough of that. Let me get back on track here.

Another thing that I am pretty well known for around the office is my love of Google. I use Google for nearly everything. Email, chatting, documents, spreadsheets, maps, dictionary look-ups, advertising, pictures, videos and of course searching are just a handful of things that I use Google for every day. Heck, I even have everyone at WS using Google for work too!

So, being this big of a fan means that I get super excited whenever Google launches a new product. That’s why when I saw the new Google Buzz, I immediately dropped everything and tried it out. It seemed like a great idea. If I already have everything on Google, why not use a social network made by them for sharing my stuff?

I dove right in and clicked the buzz icon in my email. It immediately took me to a page and asked me to add my friends. I thought “awsome, this is so easy!” and that’s when it hit me. Just because I’m a huge fan of Google doesn’t mean that my friends are.

I started looking at the options to add my friends. My only choices were to add people that already had Google mail or invite my friends. If I invited them, they would need to make a Google profile and join Buzz so I could see what they were doing. This just made me feel like Google Buzz was a hassle.

That’s when I reached my verdict. Social networking has already been done by Myspace and Facebook. We don’t need Google getting involved. I already waste enough time on Facebook looking at my friends’ status messages, why would I want another place where they could tell me (again) what they were doing that day?

I think that Google does great with the features they offer currently and I’m sure they will come out with many more that I will love. I just think that the most important part is that I love them. I don’t want to be responsible for making sure other people use them.

Sure, if i tell a friend about an awesome product and they use it, that’s great. Just don’t require me to tell someone about it so I will like it more. Now, I’m sure that others will disagree with what I’m saying here, but I just can’t justify endorsing Google Buzz.

~Gary.

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Hello There – It’s Our New Blog!

February 15th, 2010 by Steve

Well, here it is. Our shiny new blog!

I know, you’re probably wondering what the heck this is all about and what we’re going to write about here.

Me too, sorta. Right now, we have a direction we’re thinking of taking, but that’s about all. We’re counting on you and your comments to help us decide.

First off, I can tell you this isn’t going to be about computer tips per se. Hey, we’ve got a newsletter for that stuff. No, we want to do something new and different here.

See, one thing that we currently don’t do much of in the newsletter is opinion pieces. Sure we talk amongst ourselves here at the office about all the new technology and stuff. And we all have opinions about it (Apple computers suck). Sometimes strong opinions (no they don’t – PCs suck).

See?

So, we thought, hey, why not start a blog and tell the world what we think about everything? Maybe you care, maybe you don’t, maybe this little cartoon describes the situation best:

Either way, that’s one thing you’re likely to stumble upon here as you browse though our banter.

The other use we thought might be fun is to share a few experiences with you that don’t necessarily have anything to do with computers or technology (I know, gasp!). Maybe I’ll give you the lowdown on a cool place I’m visiting. Maybe a quick post about something funny my dog just did (or ate). Heck, maybe we just find a cool article we want to share. Maybe we stumble upon a really funny joke .

Point is, ya just never know :)

Also, I can’t promise grammatically correct posts, proper spellling, or even that every post will be comprehensible by most people. I can promise we’ll do our best to make it fun, entertaining, a little informative, or at least mildly interesting each time you stop by :)

The blog will be written by myself (Steve), as well as our office manager / tech / programmer Gary, our newsletter editor Andy (those should be interesting), and our graphics / web / get-stuck-with-all-the-gruntwork guy Mike.

So, there you have it. I strongly recommend you join our little “blog alert” e-mail list over there on the side. You’ll get a quick little notification anytime something new is posted here, so you’ll never miss a minute of whatever online babble we come up with.

Enjoy!

~ Steve

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