The Chinese and The iPhone

During my five months teaching English in China this past year, I remember the first day I walked into class and was talking with my college students that I was to teach conversational English to. They were ALL on their phones and it looked like they were texting friends and being extremely unattentive. So, wanting to be a teacher that demanded authority and respect, I told them all to put their cell phones away. They looked at me with disappointment that I had ruined their fun, but I felt glad to have their undivided attention. A few weeks went by and, as I was sitting, talking to a student during a lunch break, they pulled out their phone and began pushing in letters on their cell phone pad. I explained to them that it was somewhat rude to be talking to someone and texting someone else at the same time. They looked at me and said, “Oh no, teacher, I am typing in the words that you say so that I can understand your accent.” Embarrassed, I realized that the students had translators on their phones and were trying to interpret the words I was saying and using in class so that they could better understand my crazy English.

Needless to say, they were still a little shy to use cell phones in class from then on, but it revealed to me just how technology hungry the Chinese people and new generation are. They have the same desire to be connected to the world and to their friends much like our American culture does. They may have further opportunities now with the possible launch of the iPhone in China. According to Electronista, Steve Jobs “has previously said he hoped a deal could be reached for the iPhone in China by the end of the year.”

The iPhone in China would be another revolutionary and technological advance for the Chinsese people. They are becoming more and more savy in the technology world and are understanding the importance of connection and integration in our global economy. While the version of the iPhone sold in China may be a signficantly stripped down version of the one sold everywhere else (so that Chinamobile and other cellphone companies can control and regulate purchase and activity) it would be wise of Apple to strive to reach a deal with a country that is hungry to get connected and to have the same type of technology that its American counterparts does.

If Steve Jobs and Apple can create an iPhone that doesn’t require a full-out launch of Apple stores and Apple products in China, the new Chinese generation would buy iPhones left and right, not so much worried about the cost as the status they would have if they were carrying around an American product like the iPhone.

It will be interesting to see in months to come how and if Apple will strike a deal with one of the fastest growing countries in our ever-shrinking world.


Seeing The Stars With Stellarium 0.10

A great new update from Apple, Stellarium 0.10 is a software that allows you to view the stars and sky and learn about different constellations and formations in the never ending void we ponderingly peer into every  night. Stellarium “is an open source desktop planetarium. It renders the skies in realtime using OpenGL, which means the skies will look exactly like what you see with your eyes, binoculars, or a small telescope. Stellarium is very simple to use, which is one of its biggest advantages: it can easily be used by beginners.”

I especially liked the features that allow you to view the stars and constellations from other out-of-this-world places like the moon and the planet Mars. Also, click on the major stars or constellations showing up on your view and you can get real-time information on that particular star or stars.

You can add equatorial and constellation lines that can help you better visualize and understand the constellations and there connections and the tool bar on the side of the screen lets you search and configure your window, as well as set daytime viewing options.

Also, for increased educational opporunities, go to the ‘sky and viewing options’ on the sidebar and click on ‘starlore’ giving you detailed information and stories from different time periods and cultures as to the naming of and history of particular stars and constellations.

The program takes a little while to get used to, and there is a lot of terminology that I am not familiar with like magnitude vs. absolute magnitude, or hour angle or a spectral type, but the definitons are out there and it only whets my appetitie in further exploring and understanding the vast and mysterious sky that looks constantly down upon us.


The New Face of Facebook: Why I like the change

One of the most revolutionary networking inventions of our decade, Facebook has given people around the world a chance to reconnect with old friends and stay in contact with new ones. It is an online tool that can be used to share life with each other and build relationships, even over long distances or generation gaps.

As a previous opponent of Facebook, I felt like it was just another myspace-like way for students and teens to inappropriately express themselves without restraint or monitoring. But after my 65 year old grandmother created her own profile page and encouraged us to give it a try, I knew it was something different.

A member of Facebook for about six months, I have experienced the switch over in the new ‘Facebook Page’. The redesign has improved many facets of Facebook that needed tweaking in the initial design.

The most important update is the ability to categorize different updates on your main home page. News Feed, Status Update, Photos, Posted Items and Live Feed are now all accessed by clicking different tabs, allowing you to see more updates and changes and in an organized format. For my type A personality, this works well with my sometimes obsessive need to categorize and organize EVERYTHING.

Not only can you now see more updates and feeds from your friends, but on the right of every update is an opportunity to comment on a status update or photo. This makes it easier to interface with friends without having to navigate away from your home page. You can also update YOUR status easier with the status update directly below your current status. This makes it easier for you to let people know what you’re up to, rather than waiting a week before your status changes.

The different friend requests and various other application requests that show up on your facebook now show up right on your home page as well. Again, you can click on these requests without having to navigate to another page just to get to them.

While I feel like the new facebook has consolidated the numerous applications and network feeds that exist in Facebook, others are having difficulty with the change. Some feel like the new page is too hard to navigate or they miss the old one and want it back. If you do want the old facebook page back, check out Tech Crunch for a short-term solution.

While the new facebook page does allow Facebook to market and advertise better within their mini-feeds and on the home page, the redesign promotes a more accessible page to new users, better app control and privacy settings, ensuring that this networking interface can be one that is used in the workplace, by older adults and one that parents can trust for their kids to use.


iPhone Golfing Through The Fall

Today was one of the first days in my neck of the woods where it really started to feel like Fall. Clouds, possible rain and wind make it difficult to get out on the golf course, not to mention going back to school and staying busy with work.

But with the new, free application: “iGolf” from SNG, you can keep your swing going during the fall and enjoy the driving range. This brand new app from SNG lets you choose from three clubs, then sets you into a driving range mode and prompts you to pull back and let it rip. You physically swing the iPhone and the ball flies through the air. The application will keep record of your score and cheer for great shots.

Apple Insider has some great insight into the new game, as well as a link to download the application. It does mention sensitivity in the swinging process, so a steady hand is key. Tech Crunch also has a demo on playing iGolf.

So for those times this Fall when you’re stuck in your office with the rain pouring down outside, you have your friend, the iGolf on your iPhone, to keep your stroke sharp for the coming spring. Just make sure you hold onto your phone when you swing.


Skype-Connect with the world

Our world is ever-increasingly becoming connected and, as we travel and develop relationships with family and friends around the globe, our generation and culture wants to stay in touch not only through email or letters, but through chats and webcams. Skype offers a chance for people around the world to connect to one another for little or no fee.

Dowloading Skype is completely free and you can chat through instant messaging, webcams like the built in iSight on the Mac or just call and talk like a normal cell phone or land line. If you’re friend or relative has downloaded Skype as well, there is no cost to either one of you. It is completely free to communicate anywhere in the world you can get an internet connection.

Furthermore, if you want to coomunicate with family members who don’t have Skype or a computer to download it on to, you can set up a phone line from the area code they are in or any other area code you want, and they can call you for free, as if they were calling a land line in that area. The online number only costs $60 for the year ($5 a month) and gives anyone a chance to call you for free. You can also call them or anyone else in the world for $.06 a minute.

My wife and I set-up Skype before going to Southern China to teach English for five months and we bought the online number. We were able to easily and frequently communicate with family and friends back home, see their faces and hear their voices. The picture and sound were clear and the calls were very rarely dropped. My brother-in-law is now teaching in the Dominican Republic and has Skype and communicates with family and friends every week.

Skype gives you the ability and technology to communicate with anyone around the world through many different interfaces for free! They also have microphones, headsets and webcams available for purchase in their online store.


iPhone Sync SOOOO Much Faster with 2.1 Update

Dang. 2 minutes compared to 2 hours. Really, that’s all I got to say. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Love comin’ back for the iPhone.


iCalendar Event Movement

My colleagues and I are long-term planning out events that we are going to be having during this upcoming school year and we are using Apple’s iCalendar to plan and organize those events into different individual calendars. My colleague planned out four months of events and, after plugging in the event for each day of the week, realized that he needed to move back each of those events by one week. So we embarked on a search to determine if he could move all of those events back one week in bulk, as opposed to going through and moving each event individually, obviously saving him a substantial amount time.

We did some research and tinkering and found that, as long as you are operating within the same calendar, you can highlight events and move them by holding down the shift key, then clicking on each related event you want to move. Then hit Copy and the Paste it to the appropriate dates. This will move all of the events down a week, to a different day, month, etc. whatever and wherever you need to move them.

Exception: This can only be done within the same calendar and, if you have two events that are in different calendars (different color-coded events) you must move them separately or it will color-code it to the calendar that you initially highlighted.

You can individually move events just by clicking and dragging them to the desired date, but in order to move them in bulk, this method should work. The copy and paste method does not change the information about the individual event so that is something that would have to be done individually.

Any other ideas or ways that iCalendar problems can be solved? Leave comments and ideas below.


iPod Nano Takes A Step Up

The new iPod Nano hit stores last week and the apple lover community has been abuzz about its new features. The new iPod Nano offers a sleek new curved body with nine different colors to choose from.

My favorite feature, however, is the new Genius feature, which organizes my songs based on categories and songs I like listening to the most so when I shake the iPod Nano, it will randomly shuffle the music, but pick songs it knows that I like. “The Genius feature finds the songs in your music library that go great together and makes a Genius Playlist for you. It’s like having your own highly intelligent, personal DJ.”

I’m not really sure the point of the accelerometer, which changes the screen based on the position that you hold it. Pictures or song information will turn with you so that its readable, whether you’re hold the iPod vertical or horizontal, and, Apple advertises, “watching movies, TV shows, and videos is big fun on iPod nano. And the high-resolution picture looks crisp and vivid on the 2-inch widescreen display. So you can always have a little video with you.”

I’m pretty sure that I would quickly go blind and cross-eyed looking at a 2-inch widescreen display of any movie or picture, so it seems to be more like a marketable technology gadget rather than having functional use.

But the sleek new body design and Genius technology still make it a great buy and a further step in iPod Nano technology.


MacBook Air: The Green Choice

Steve Jobs and Apple have made good on their promise to create products that are more environmentally friendly. And what could be earth-minded more than a computer that you can barely see when you look at it from the side. The MacBook Air is not only a revolutionary concept in laptops but is green enough to blend in with your front lawn. Its environment friendly components include an easily recyclable aluminum case, a Mercury and Arsenic free display, circuit boards that are PVC and BFR free and less packaging, reducing its waste by 56%.

According to Apple, the MacBook air only weighs 3 pounds, has an energy efficient battery that will last for 5 hours and meets ENERGY STAR requirements. Apple has shown its intuitive innovation once again with a product that is growing increasingly more practical, reliable and environmentally friendly. So if you’re looking for a Mac that is going to treat the environment just as good as it (the Mac) treats you, go with the MacBook air and enjoy all of the power and ability of the Mac in 3 pounds of environment loving, low environment impact, creativity.


iPhone 3G at Best Buy…you, happier?

September 7th marked an eventful day at Best Buy stores across the nation as they became the first company outside of AT&T and Apple to carry the coveted iPhone 3G. Best Buy has promoted and prepared for the event, anticipating record lines in front of the store before opening and bringing in large staffs to handle the various purchasing and set-up options they are offering. Best Buy highlights the iPhone 3G’s release both in store, through their ads and online. They offer in-store set up and ‘out the door working’ capabilities with the new purchase.

Yet at a Best Buy store in the Pacific NW, as the opening day came and went, the record lines before opening were missing and the first day sales of the iPhone seemed to be a disappointment. The brand new Best Buy mobile wasn’t nearly as busy as they hoped and the hyped and highly advertised iPhone 3G seemed to be an afterthought to customers entering the store. While the upgrades of Best Buy mobile in stores is most likely the reason Apple was willing to allow the electronics store to sell the iPhone, it is apparent they did not experience the large revenue push they were expecting. Best Buy already offers iPod digital music players at all its stores and is now even selling Mac computer lines at its more than 600 locations.

While the initial day surge may not be what’s expected, Best Buy still stands to gain considerable revenue from the iPhone in their store, as they continue to expand their relationship with Apple and search to meet the consumers needs as a one-stop shop electronics store.  Yet they may be a little to late on the iPhone 3G rush. Their listed price is online at 199.99 with 8GB memory and 299.99 with 16GB memory. The 199.99 price is available to new AT&T customers and customers ‘qualified’ for an upgrade. If you do not qualify for an upgrade, the price rockets up to 399.99. Apple Stores are also increasing their shipment supplies of iPhones and are becoming more readily available. All three stores in my local area had the iPhone 3G in stock as of today.

Time will tell whether the iPhone 3G acquisition for Best Buy will be another great move by the world’s leading electronic store or if their relationship with Apple could cloud their marketing foresight and ability.