iOS 4.3 HomeShare over VPN?

March 12, 2011 3 comments

So I’ve been exploring some of the new features of iOS 4.3 and found the iTunes Home Sharing feature to be somewhat useful, however am interested in getting more out of it if possible.  For those unfamiliar with the new feature, when connected to your home network, you’ll see a “Shared” option under iPod -> More from your iPhone.  From there you can stream content from your iTunes library on your computer to your iPhone.

I appreciate the fact that I can share my iTunes library on 5 different machines at home and can access them from my iPhone while I’m at home, but that doesn’t seem all that innovative, does it?

What I really want is to be able to access my library no matter where I am, without having to sync it to my iPhone every time I get something new.  It sounds picky/lazy/greedy, but it really isn’t an unrealistic expectation given the price we pay for all this content and subscription based services.  Frankly, I’m sick of managing my different iTunes libraries and figuring out how to sync them all to my phone without too much struggle.  Why am I limited by the amount of local storage on my iPhone?  Can’t we just get past this dated architecture yet? I’d also like to add, I don’t even use the iPod features of my iPhone much at all.  Those of you that do must be bleeding for something like this.

Kind of brings me back to my post a few weeks ago on Chrome OS…

So, assuming this kind of “cloud based” content streaming is coming soon (cheesy subscription based one-offs aside)…what I want to know is whether anyone has tried using iTunes Home Sharing over a VPN with their iPhone?  I’m really asking….has anyone done it?  Does it work?  If it does…does the VPN cut out after the phone goes to sleep like normally, or does it recognize that there is data streaming and stay on?  How is the audio streaming from Wi-FI, from 3G??  Is there some other method available that I’m overlooking?

I set up a VPN on my Windows 7 machine, however while looking for the PPTP setting on my Belkin Wireless N router, I quickly found out that it does not support VPN.  I could replace it, but am wondering what the experience was like for anyone that has been successful so far. So with that said…. I look forward to hearing your experience!!!

Are you ready for Chromium OS?

January 21, 2011 2 comments

There is a lot of hype about Google’s new open source project, Chromium OS. The new OS will run on portable devices that run strictly web based applications. An introductory model dubbed the Cr-48 is being offered by Google through a very exclusive pilot program.

The Cr-48 seems to have adopted a design similar to that of an Apple MacBook, but that’s not the reason Google thinks the new OS will become popular. Rather than placing strong focus on hardware, the new offering places emphasis on what Google does best – innovation. If you are among the lucky chosen to participate in the Cr-48 pilot, I suggest that you not focus on the hardware, but consider how the OS changes the way you interface with the web both for the better and for the worse.

Click here for a demo of the Cr-48 running ChromeOS.

The concept is cloud based, similar to services already offered by IT service providers like IBM or Amazon. Current cloud models require the user to access the cloud based system through their primary device (ie – a Windows machine). With Chromium OS, you’re sitting on the cloud 10 seconds after powering up your machine. Click here to see how the boot process has been improved compared to a traditional device.

There is no more concept of what Google refers to as “legacy” applications. This means that your brand new copy of Microsoft Office 2010 would be considered obsolete since it is not one of the cloud based applications available on Chromium OS (nor could it be installed on your machine running the OS). Rather than local storage hosting your content, you rely solely on the cloud for all your computing needs.

The Cr-48 (and I suspect all Chromium OS models) has built in Wi-Fi, and also a 3G card capable of picking up a signal if you do not have an internet connection available (same connection your modern hand held device uses).

So now that you know the basics (if you didn’t already)…do you think we ready for a device that relies solely on an infrastructure that still lacks the speed to keep up with features of lesser powerful modern devices? Take the iPhone for example. The iPhone relies pretty heavily on an internet connection of some type, and many of the features of the iPhone are restricted by our internet capabilities (ie – Tethering, FaceTime, ). Take away the iPhones internet connection however, and you still have the ability to use the apps loaded on to the device that do not require a signal to function (ie – you can still play Angry Birds if you’re lost in the woods). Take away the signal from a device running Chromium OS, and you have a nice paper weight with a built in flashlight.

The good news? Your devices become simply an interface to the same portal hosting the same content you have personalized over a period of time. For example, I have a Windows desktop, a laptop running Windows, a netbook running Windows, a MacBook Air, and a few Windows desktops I use at work. Sure, all my own machines are running on a home LAN and I can access files from any machine assuming they’re all turned on and have acquired an IP from my wireless router, and I can also access my work files by turning on my VPN….but I have a hard time remembering which applications and files are on which machine. Even if I had the best memory in the world, is that something I want to waste my brain power on?

What if you could access your personalized content (ie – desktop, personal settings, etc) not just through your device, but through any device? Yeah…you can do it now with one of those subscription based apps running on your PC that is always connected to the internet whenever you need it, right? Actually, my trusty $220/mo internet connection is down as we speak and I can’t even submit this post when I’m finished until it comes back up. What if you didn’t have your device with you and needed to access some content, or even just wanted to check your email on a friends device without hunting around on his device only to find he only invokes his browser through command line because he deleted his shortcut by accident and never figured out how to get it back? Just log off of his account, log in with your credentials, and it’s as if you had your device all along.

What about the concept of having all your content hosted on a “cloud” that you can’t touch or feel? What happens when that cloud is down, and all you wanted to do was look up the address for that interview you’re running late for (because you know that’s the only time it would ever actually go down, right?)?

For me, there are some things I prefer to be hosted elsewhere, but other things that I prefer to store locally. For example, I am comfortable with the fact that my email is hosted by Google and not taking up precious space on my own devices. Initially, I was outraged by the fact that Google thought they could store my precious emails whether they were doing me a favor by hosting it or not. When I delete an email, is it actually deleted from all their servers? Probably not…

Have you or anyone you know been locked out of GMail for one reason or another (ie – forgot password, hacked, stolen, sold on a Chinese auction site, etc…) and tried to recover within a reasonable amount of time? I’m pretty sure that most of the time, you can just kiss that account goodbye. Let’s face it…Google does not offer the kind of support most folks expect from their (albeit free) services. Can you afford to lose all your personalized content and applications because of an account issue that Google could not reach out to you within some kind of reasonable SLA to address quickly?

So let’s just look at the features highlighted by Chrome OS. I want to comment on each separately since there are only 6:

Instant web: Boot time in 10 seconds, and instantly wakes up from sleep. Sounds like my MacBook Air (only it might boot faster than 10s). Websites load quickly and smoothly…nothing new there. And let’s be honest…support for Flash wasn’t considered a feature until the iPhone lacked it.

Same experience everywhere: This is the bread and butter, I’ve already commented about the benefits of this above.

Always connected: 100MB of free 3G isn’t all that much, especially if this is a primary device being used for multimedia. It seems we should be past the point where we’re paying for “Always connected” these days anyway. In my opinion, if anyone is going to lead the way into free mobile internet access, it should be Google.

Security built in: While this doesn’t really sound like a “feature”, Google has done lots to ensure the protection of your data on the cloud. There is an interesting video here on the details. It is still not known how secure the data actually will be once your friendly neighborhood hacker becomes more familiar with the architecture of the OS, but sounds like a good implementation to me.

Forever fresh: Simple enough. I’m not sure how much easier updates could get than what most modern OS’s already have today.

Amazing web apps: From what I’ve seen in the demo video, this looks pretty exciting. I’m not sure anyone really uses CD’s to install software anymore, but nice to highlight anyway.

I don’t doubt that the way we access our personalized content will significantly change over the course of time, but are we ready for something like this just yet? Consider the advantages/disadvantages I’ve touched on, and let me know your thoughts on this technology.

Google Latitude

December 14, 2010 3 comments

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I got an email notification on an old forum thread that was resurrected today regarding the mildly anticipated iPhone app release of Google Latitude. Well…it’s here.

Back in February ’09, Google launched a free service called “Latitude” (anyone heard of/remember it?). The service allows you and your friends to see where each other are located. Not exactly where, but roughly which town that person is in. And….that’s it. The two friends that I actually do have on Google Latitude (and possibly in life…) have not updated their location in 603 days, and 254 days which, I suspect, is the same day they registered for Google Latitude.

It’s an interesting idea, but has not been adopted very quickly, if at all. Maybe it’s a novelty/proof of concept, maybe it’s not good as a standalone app, or maybe I just don’t have all that many friends. My guess is that as a standalone app, no one is all that interested in findout out roughly where I am unless they can add a comment, see pictures, come find me, etc…. Sound familiar?

I’m interested in hearing from you on why you’re not interested in Google Latitude. Is it because it’s just too personal to share, even with friends? Couldn’t make that birthday party? Yeah you could…because I just saw on Google Latitude that you were right down the street at the bar…by yourself!! Or is it because no one else followed suit when you registered the first day it was launched, or maybe you just weren’t all that impressed with it.

Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts on this technology!!!

iPhone 4 – Free Case Program App: Now available!

July 25, 2010 3 comments

This will probably be my last iPhone 4 post for a while. Time to move on to something new now that the free cases are available from Interesting enough, it looks like even though I was already issued a refund from the Apple Store, I was able to also order a free case. There are seven 3rd party cases available, as well as Apple’s Bumper. Rather than making you fill out an application with all your information, all you have to do is download the “iPhone 4 Case Program” app, pick your case, and log in to confirm shipping. I am expecting some kind of email soon saying that I am not eligible, but we’ll see. Estimated shipping time states 3 – 5 weeks.

Get an iPhone 4 Bumper or case at no charge.

Follow these steps to apply for a Bumper or case.

1. Download the iPhone 4 Case Program app from the App Store.
2. Launch the app on your iPhone 4 and sign in using your iTunes Store account or Apple ID.
3. Select your Bumper or case.

For iPhone 4 purchases made before July 23, 2010, you must apply no later than August 22, 2010; otherwise, you must apply within 30 days of your iPhone 4 purchase. To qualify for this program, you must purchase your iPhone 4 by September 30, 2010.

iPhone 4 Bumper (Refunds/orders)

July 23, 2010 3 comments

Just a quick update for some of the people emailing me about iPhone 4 Bumpers and cases. No update from Apple yet on how to get the free bumper, but looks like Apple is processing refunds for those of you who purchased one already from the Apple Store (mine was just processed). No word on how to apply for the refund, or how to get another case yet. Looks like no option for a free Bumper/3rd party case for those who already purchased a Bumper from the Apple Store.

Here is the email from Apple:

Your iPhone Bumper Order
July 22, 11:41PM

Dear Apple Customer,

Apple recently announced that iPhone 4 customers who purchased an iPhone 4 Bumper are eligible for a full refund.

As of today, we have automatically processed your refund.

Thank you for choosing Apple.

Apple Online Store Support

Apple Press Conference (7/16/2010) – The Aftermath (Antennagate)

July 17, 2010 8 comments

Ok, now that I’ve thoroughly tracked the press conference in my last post, it seems the hype is just starting. There are lots of questions, and lots of opinions about the way Apple handled the situation. I think that Apple did a tremendous job getting all their facts together so quickly, and for delivering this press conference with such class and sincerity. No one accused anyone of making up stories, no one was blamed, it was put very simply and delivered with such a calm demeanor.

I was worried that Apple’s response was going to taint my perception of the company forever, and am happy to report that I was blown away by their response (in a good way!). It’s just a shame that Apple had to go to these lengths to defend the most popular Smartphone on the market. Now anyone that sells a different Smartphone without giving out a free case will just be yet another step behind Apple.

In no particular order, here are some of the things I’ve observed while participating in various forums (ie – the FoxNews chat during the live press conference, or reading various other articles on the subject).

1) Question: How do I get my case/refund from Apple?
Answer: The details are still being ironed out, but Apple has updated the description of the Bumper in the Apple Store, indicating that they are currently not for sale, but will soon contain information on how to get your free bumper/refund. Keep checking back with the Apple Store for updates.

2) Question: Does the bumper actually fix the issue?
Answer: Yes it does. Paired with the 4.0.1 software update, the phone functions exactly how it should. The software update is clearly working as it should. I get terrible service in my home, but the iPhone always reported 4/5 bars before the update (iPhone 3G and 4). Now with the update, it correctly reports poor signal strength (1 or 2 bars).

iPhone 4 Bumper (black)

3) Question: What is contained in the iOS 4.0.1 software update?
Answer: The most important fix in this update is the new algorithm that calculates signal strength. There is a secondary update that fixes a pretty serious bug for Exchange Server users. This only affects corporate users who were unable to retrieve email from their Exchange servers due to a timeout issue. Apple had previously release a hotfix that came in the form of a simple profile install.

4) Statement: The iPhone cannot be charged while the bumper is in place.
Response: Yes, I’ve noticed the same thing, although some users have indicated that the charger that comes with the iPhone 4 works fine with their bumper. I have the OEM bumper and charger, and I have to take the bumper off to charge/dock the device. I asked an Apple employee at my local Apple store, and was told that there are no chargers or docks that are compatible with the bumper.

5) Question: Why do people care so much about this iPhone issue? Get a life…
Answer: Stop reading. Compared to most breaking news stories (ie – BP oil spill), the outcome of this one doesn’t really matter. It is fun to track, and fun to analyze without the need to take any religious/political/economical stand. Anyone from technology experts, to a person who just bought their first SmartPhone can follow this story just the same. That is what I love about technology news.

And in case you missed the press conference, it is posted here on Apple’s website. Note, for some reason the link goes to a different video, but if you copy the URL you’ll get there.

Apple Press Conference (7/16/2010)

July 15, 2010 5 comments

A very strategic press conference from Apple today.  The updates below sum it up, but basically they put superman Steve Jobs in front of the audience to state how much Apple cares about their customers.  It was sincere and heart felt.  They then demonstrated the antenna issue with other phones, and gave some impressive stats about iPhone sales/performance/return rates.  Then they announced that there will be a free bumper/case for anyone who wants one, or a refund for anyone who has purchased a bumper from Apple.

Here is the video of the press conference from

** FINAL UPDATE ** ~10:36 AM

“We love our users”.

** UPDATE ** ~10:29 AM

Software update is available

Free bumper for every iPhone 4 buyer.  If you already have one, they will refund the purchase in full.

** UPDATE ** ~10:27 AM

iPhone 4 drops more calls than the iPhone 3GS, but only < 1% per hundred.

** UPDATE ** ~ 10:25 AM

Sales over 3M units over the past 3 weeks.

** UPDATE ** ~10:23 AM

1.7% iPhone 4 users have actually returned the phone, versus 6% that returned 3GS.  No apology so far…

** UPDATE ** ~ 10:21 AM

Apple states that .055% of iPhone owners have actually called Apple to report this reception issue.

** UPDATE ** ~ 10:20 AM

Apple currently giving a demonstration on how the test phones in silicon chambers.  The purpose of this demo is to prove that Apple tests in a more technical fashion than Consumer Reports had tested.

** UPDATE ** ~ 10:10AM

Live from the press conference, Apple is currently demonstrating the antenna issue with a blackberry.  Not off to a good start…

** UPDATE **

Lots of stir lately about Apple's press conference tomorrow (7/16/2010).  What are they going to talk about?  Anything but the "death grip" would cause outrage/riot, so let's just assume that to be the case.

Personally, I've found that touching the iPhone 4 in any way shape or form cripples the connection.  I've added a "bumper" (which by the way cannot be charged/docked without taking the bumper off first), and it seems to have corrected the problem.  In my opinion, any OEM case should be able to be docked or at least charged via USB, however seems no one at Apple has thought of that yet.  Aren't there any nerds at Apple as fed up as I am with all this?

What is Apple going to do about the antenna issue?  Are they really going to re-engineer the phone and recall millions of iPhones….will they hand out free bumpers, and then have to address the charging issue next week when people are complaining about that?  Will they push users towards an "iPhone 4S" which contains some hardware refresh with a better antenna placement?  Any other likely scenarios?  Maybe they will surprise us all and "officially" tell us that we are STILL holding the phone incorrectly.

If you read Apple's last press release on the issue, you'll see them blaming the algorithm used to determine signal strength.  They claim it has always been faulty, and actually reports better service than it should.  It is believable if you are not a tech enthusiast (or just a long time iPhone user), but to me this makes no sense.  Bottom line is, the bumper fixes the problem entirely.  Are they trying to tell me that putting a bumper on the phone fixes a broken piece of code?  It seems Apple was chasing any kind of minor glitch they could find that was not too severe to release, and use that as the culprit while they figure out what they are really going to do.

I love the iPhone, and have always defended them against the naysayers regarding minor/natural tech issues.  I just think they could have handled this much better than the timeline illustrated below, but I do commend them for owning the issue (assuming that they are going to actually address this for real tomorrow).

The people complain about antenna issues —> Steve Jobs comments that we are ALL holding it wrong —> Apple press release states faulty code in signal strength logic is to blame —> Press Conference on 7/16/10 —> (I'll update this later with the result).


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