iPhone: High Priced Tech Toy?

January 12, 2007

There was a collective buzz of excitement following the latest Apple news delivered by CEO Steve Jobs this past week. Apple has now released the latest iPod, which is actually a phone with ipod capability, the “iPhone”. This gadget incorporates many daily essentials into just 1 handheld device. It has the capability to store mp3/digital music, play videos, connect to email and the internet, capture photos, and yes, even make phone calls.

Apple enters into smart new territory, the cell phone arena. A news report the other night noted how many million people have ipods, but many many more people own cell phones. So the move is brilliant, although it will make for a costly purchase for consumers which may cause many to hold off on this item, self included. The price range for the phone will be set at $500 to $600. There will be 2 versions, a 2 gigabyte version or a 4 gigabyte version. 4 gigabytes isn’t much in terms of music storage at this point. They make iPods right now which store 80 gigs of songs/videos/photos. To put it in perspective, 80 gigabytes gives storage fir roughly 25,000 mp3 songs on one hand-held music player. 2 gigs or 4 gigs gives you 500-2000 songs, but you have to keep in mind if you plan to store more data than that (such as movies, photos, etc), you need storage gigabytes. Overall the concept and design of the iPhone definitely gives it a cool futuristic look that will make it an addition to many people’s daily routines. Many tech geeks and savvy business consumers will have to be the first to have it.

It may be smart to wait on this new tech toy; Several reasons here; first the price should become more competitive. $500 to $600 is what kids are paying for Xbox 360’s and PS3’s. Obviously if you can afford and have to have the item, do so, but I’d always recommend buying a $600 Mac Mini computer over a cell phone. It’s just a smarter buy for all that you get out of it. More importantly, this will be the first version of the iphone released. Nobody’s really tested one yet or had a chance to complain about its shortcomings. Rushing out to buy the newest toy can often spell disaster, because it is unchartered territory. The iPhone may function great as a music player and internet communicator but fail miserably as a phone, which is what it’s billed as. It’s also so futuristic that it doesn’t have standard cell phone buttons, it’s fully touch screen. This is worrisome in terms of how quickly the item may break or the screen wears down from finger tapping and pressing. Another consideration is that Apple may be moving to make this compatible with its line of computers. Apple made the iPod compatible with both PCs and MACs, but if the iPhone starts incorporating software, why would Apple want Microsoft compatible with it? If the iPhone does move into “PDA territory”, MAC could gain many users but the iPhone would limit those who are strictly PC users. Finally, right now you are restricted to only using Cingular cell phone service with this item. Until there are more providers available it limits people who are under contract with other companies, which love when people quit, because it means a nice fat fee for leaving early.

All the pros & cons aside, the device looks exciting and slick, almost as if straight off the set of a new Star Trek movie. It allows for sending photos you take or store on the iPhone to your friends by email. It also has a smart keyboard built in so when you type messages/emails etc, it will spell-check or correct common errors. Just wait until they make it control your home TV, set the room temperature and automatically order take out food. It appears the true future of communication and technology is definitely upon us. View Apple’s iphone here


Getting Free Digital Music/MP3s

December 15, 2006

Unfortunately these days many online users feel the best way to obtain free music is through peer-to-peer programs like Limewire or eDonkey. The unfortunate part of this is the RIAA has cracked down on illegal or pirated music downloads to the point these services are illegal and can bring trouble to the downloader.

However, there are still some ways to get free tunes, keep in mind the selections may not be everything you want. Check these out:

1 – emusic.com Promo. I recently received an email from Urbanoutfitters.com which had a Promo ad for “50 free mp3s”. I figured this would be some big catch involved, but after investigating further, I determined all you had to do was sign up for a free account for 2 weeks and then begin finding music you wanted. Sure enough my account read “50 songs remaining”. Since then I have downloaded 2 full albums that I had wanted from itunes, and many other great songs. The selection is not as vast as itunes, but 50 free mp3s that work on my IPOD? I wont complain..The other thing I noticed is if you get friends to join you get 25-50 free songs as well for each referral.

2 – Song Giveaways – Itunes & Urge (MTV) iTunes tends to be rather stingy on its giveaways, and its better to be an ipod owner. They will give away a free song each week, of their choice, to promote a new artist. In the past they have had a few which I enjoyed but usually it is obscure groups that may turn out to be 1 or no hit wonders. Urge.com is MTV’s latest music service. They tend to give away newer songs to promote artists, and they are top notch. Be forewarned that these songs are in wma format, which wont move onto an IPOD. The trick is to get a cd’s worth of free songs from Urge, burn the CD and rip the tracks to your ipod.

3. Check out Rhapsody – Rhapsody is part of the RealMusic Network, but they provide a free 14 day trial membership. From this membership you can download 5 favorite songs free off the bat, yours to keep. Give it a spin, Get your 14 day free trial – Rhapsody

So if you’re looking for free digital music, try out the above methods. They are safe and seem to work fine so far.

Why I Love the PSP

December 11, 2006

I can’t recommend the Sony PSP to people enough. In my opinion the coolest gadget I own, in that it’s not just a portable video game system, but it can store photos and music, play movies, and allow for browsing the internet.

The Sony PSP was released many years ago in attempts to take over the handheld gaming industry that Nintendo seemed to own. PSP’s games had a visual look that Nintendo Gameboy just couldn’t match. I first purchased the PSP as an item to take on plane flights, because it plays dvd type movies in addition to video games. Mainly it can play either the UMD card movies that Sony sold, or movies I moved from DVD’s onto the PSP’s memory card. You can buy special memory chips for the PSP which allow it to hold up to 6 or more hours of movies. Even though the battery drains in 2 hours from watching a movie, it’s still impressive.

But wait there’s more..the PSP plays mp3 music and holds photos, plus allows for browsing the internet. I took the item on a trip to Rome, and was able to use the wi-fi signal in the hotel to check my emails and CNN.com for news from the US. The cool factor of being able to do that with something built for video games, is pretty impressive. Even better, Sony keeps adding features and new program/firmware updates.

Another device which Sony has made the PSP compatible with is the Slingbox. Slingbox is a box you hook to your cable TV. You leave your cable TV on when you leave home with your PSP and theoretically you will be able to watch all of the cable channels you have at home, on the road, on your handheld PSP. Now people will never miss local news or sports teams because of that. Slingbox goes for about $199 or less, but is impressive nonetheless. Accessories for the PSP will cost you of course, the memory chips get pricier the more storage you go for, some cost up to $150-200, deals can be found all over Ebay. Games run as much as $50, which is why I again recommend Ebay. Its smarter to buy used titles that were popular but not as new..you save money and still get a great game. GTA and Wipeout are great examples.

So since Sony continues to build upon the item and upgrade its features, it’s highly recommended. I would like to see them build in something that incorporates AOL instant message type technology, and also put out an accessory keyboard for use on the PSP. Typing is one of the tougher tasks, even though it wasn’t primarily designed for that.

And by the way, the video games aren’t too bad on this thing either..

Getting Your Website Noticed

November 21, 2006
So you’ve created your first website for personal or business use and you now face a challenge; how do you get your site noticed and increase the traffic to it? While there are no easy ways and it takes some time, but here’s a few interesting (generally free) steps you can take to do so.

1-Search Engine Optimization
In order to get noticed by Search engines, make sure you have the important “META Tags” in your site’s HTML code. A meta tag simply tells a search engine important keywords your site includes. It also tells the search engine what your site is about. A Google search on META tags can introduce you to the whole world of this, but they generally look like this:

The 3 main meta tags to use for your site are shown above, “Title”, “Description” and “Keywords”. Generally you want to include as many relevant keywords as possible. These are the words that when users search for info on Google etc that will bring your site up somewhere in the listings.

2-Submit to Search Engines.
There are ALOT of these things, in fact more than most people realize. Google, Yahoo, MSN are the popular ones, but then there are alot more on the small scale (upstarts, search engines in the UK, France, etc). Start with the big 3, they are free to submit to, but probably will have the least chance of making it on their top listings. There is also a very interesting program, “Web CEO” which you can download and use on a free or payed basis. This site will allow you to enter info pertaining to your site and then choose as many search engines as you want to submit to. The program will log on and manually submit your site to all of the selected sites. Warning: many of these sites will require you to take additional action such as signing up for a newsletter, or receiving an email and clicking a link to complete the process. Make sure not to submit to too many countries which may not have use for your site’s info, especially if it is only in English.

3-Join related forums
Another free way to promote your site and get traffic, this one takes some work. You’ll need to research/find related topic sites with forums, where you can post comments (not spam!). Make sure to include a link to your site in the “signature” portion where you post. This is usually something you set up when you register, on your profile for that site.

4-Promote, Promote, Promote
Of course if your site is for a small business and you want to spread the word, promotion is essential. Include the site address on business cards, company emails, letterheads and other items. There is no shortage of “non-internet” places to promote. Be careful not to overdo it or spam.