Let the HTML5 Party Begin

HTML5 fist, after A List ApartI have a feeling that I am going to be writing a few articles/posts about HTML5 in the next few weeks and months. Mostly because we’re starting to see some real cool stuff being built with it. I, of course, will concentrate on the new video capabilities, but if you want to Dive Into HTML5, you certainly can. I talked at the Summer NMC Conference this year about HTML5 video. The video and resources are posted on the Digital Media Cookbook site. Apple has made this a battle against Flash, which they claim (and there is evidence for) is quite processor intensive. Hence, there is no Flash on iPhones and iPads. When and if Adobe can create an optimized version for the mobile processors, you may see enough pressure to allow Flash on these devices. Don’t hold your breath. If there’s one thing Apple likes, it’s controlling as much of the technology as possible. If HTML5 can do as much as Flash, they will give it all of their resources to make it come out on top.

Today Apple has an event introducing their new iPod lineup. Included in the iPod lineup is the Apple TV device which as many people are reporting is due for an update today. While this will be a media based device, it could also function as an iPad for your TV. Especially if the rumors are correct that it will run the iOS that the iPhone and iPad share. So it might be possible that the Apple TV could be an HTML5 delivery device. The iLife software is due for an update, so instead of iDVD being updated, there could be an HTML5 creation app. It’s less than 2 hours from now, so we’ll see soon enough. I would like Apple to support this open standard, and make it easy for the average person to create content for these devices. I’d love to see a mix of Netflix, network television, and user-generated content playable on these devices. A guy can dream right?

Flickr photo by justinsomnia

Flex Your Plex

2010-08-30_2234There is a big event coming soon that has to do with Apple and TV’s, and the unveiling is just hours away now. No, it’s not Apple’s music/media event with an anticipated new iTV device, it is the release at midnight August 31 of the new Plex Media Center. I’m a long way from Media Center 1.0, and have long since given up on Windows based home theater PC’s. I have been using a Mac Mini for over a year now and have used different media center software like Front Row (which comes with Macs, but is limited), and for a while, Boxee. But, I found that Boxee was just too clunky. I discovered Plex and liked it. It was updated a couple times and I liked it even more. It was missing a good media manager feature (which most media center software is missing). Back in May there was a sneak peak at code name Alexandria with…media management. Three and a half months later, it’s ready to go.

Now, they call it Plex/Nine, but it is actually version 0.9, so it’s still beta software. I do use it often and it’s the least frustrating media center software I’ve used. So besides media management, what do you get? First, it will read all of your movie files. That includes all my Handbrake ripped movies as well as the “raw” DVD rips of my video library. It seamlessly merges both types of files from a single directory and gives you a clean, attractive interface to view your collection. You also get the ability to watch your Netflix Instant Watch queue, view your Flickr photos, view YouTube videos, play your iTunes music, videos, and podcasts, along with many more services. It even plays my old catalog of DivX videos.

So the anticipation is killing me. I do have some anticipation for the Apple TV device and will be curious if they deliver a $99 device that has similar capabilities to Plex. I find it interesting where we are in computer history. We still have the HTPC/Media Center PC and then several set-top box media devices such as the Apple TV, Roku, Popbox, the Western Digital TV Media Players, and many more. It is similar to the market for traditional desktop/laptops and tablet(iPad)/netbooks. What’s going to be the best combination of features? The appified box (will Apple TV be iOS 4? Seems almost certain) vs. the full on OS box. To me the iPad et. al., and the iTV et. al. are just new markets in the computer world. How it all shakes out will be interesting. It definitely needs a good shake.

Why the iPhone antenna issue is somewhat important

“Oh no, not another iPhone post, please.” OK, but hear me out just one last time.

Apple is holding a press conference today. No one knows exactly what they are going to say, who is going to say it, or whether people will be satisfied with what they say, but it’s a big deal in the technology world. The iPhone 4’s antenna issues have been documented. Experts are saying there will be a recall. I personally don’t think the issue warrants it. But why is this a big story?

I believe it is because of what this device is. It’s a computer. It’s not a phone, or just a phone. As I and others have said, sometimes a dropped call is a good thing. I use my iPhone for so much more than calling people, which at this time in history is becoming quaint. The iPhone 4 compares to a Mac from 2000 – AND it fits in your pocket! The power of these devices is only accelerating. I’ve long said that these devices will be our main computers. We’ll carry them to do certain tasks, and then dock them to do tasks that require more monitor space.

Look at where we are. It’s a device that fits in your pocket. It turns on instantly. It connects wirelessly to the Internet (in two ways). I has a built in still and video camera. It can triangulate where you are in the world. It has a 32GB hard drive with no moving parts. An on and on. I think sometimes we miss the revolution that it is. Still, it is a device, made by a company. There are other companies that make similar devices. It’s the computer wars of the early 90’s all over again, with some different players. It is still a big deal, in terms of technology and in terms of communication.

Yes, Apple thinks different. They don’t always think right. While most other companies have evolved their online presence to include things like Twitter and/or Facebook and have openly shared any issues and bugs with an online community, Apple has not. That’s what I want to see change today, or at least start to change. They may think they don’t need to. They may think they are successful because they don’t have that open presence. I believe that if they continue to be closed, it will be self-destructive. There are many who enable this closed attitude – its fans, journalists, and customers themselves. However, Apple is getting more popular and with that will come increasing demands that they be more open, or at least more honest.

Apple’s latest issue with the antenna is not a big deal. It is an issue on a lot of cell phones including previous iPhones (like the 3G in my video above). They can do minimal things to make it right, like give people a free bumper and improve the software that displays signal strength. The reason that they need to change their software at all is because they made it so that the signal would look better than it really was. It was all about the bars (thanks AT&T you have some culpability in this too). Now it’s time to be honest. Stop with the lofty talk. It’s one thing to try to make superior products. It’s another to act superior. Please, no more Jony Ive videos. He’s a great designer, but those videos now couldn’t look any more phony (no pun intended). Let’s have just a wee bit more REAL.

Apple’s iPhone 4 Timeline

Steve Jobs blames audience at Keynote for too many wireless hotspots after demo of web access craps out.

Steve Jobs blames user error for initial reports of iPhone 4 reception problems.

Apple blames formula for iPhone reception problems (they’re “stunned”).

No response to Consumer Reports testing of signal degradation.

Apple deletes, then keeps, support forum threads regarding CR article.

Apple fanboys blame Consumer Reports for flawed tests that show signal loss in iPhone 4. (so MacLife, how did Apple test for the problem when they informed us about the signal strength bar issue? Was it more rigorous than the Consumer reports tests?)

Apple has a reception problem.

Apple should listen to its customers and stop pretending there aren’t problems. Those problems might not be a big deal, but stop with the blaming of others.

Flickr photo by Stone Mirror

The iPhone 4 Defect

I feel lately like Apple is the genius younger brother in the computer world. You know, the one who doesn’t get blamed for bad things that happen, because he is so smart, even brilliant, and innocent. He’s always got a plausible excuse for why something bad happened. Then people pat him on the head and say, well, it’s OK young man, just don’t let it happen again.

With Apple’s iPhone 4, the cute answers have been “don’t hold it that way“, and “we’re stunned that blah blah blah” when it comes to a reception issue that many people have reported. I’ve been saying for several months now that Apple is at a crossroad. These kinds of answers won’t cut it because they’re an adult company now. What they’re telling their customers is bullshit. There is no other word for it (well there is, but this one has the best bang for the buck).

Steve jobs reportedly told people not to hold the iPhone 4 a certain way, you know, the same way that virtually all of their advertising demonstrates to hold the phone, and the way Jobs himself held it at its introductory keynote. Then there was the letter that admitted that they we’re “stunned” to find the way they measured signal strength be wrong. In other words, they were lying all along about those signal strength bars. They were making it look like they had more signal than they actually did. They just said they didn’t know, or think it was possible, that they were lying.

Well, today, none other than Consumer Reports called bullshit. They said the phone, by bridging the gap in its new antenna design, could lose -20Db in signal, and that could lead to dropping a call. Unlike what Apple has said in their letter, the other iPhones did not lose the signal like the iPhone 4. Antenna experts reached slightly different conclusions. Then they acknowledged a problem.

OK Apple Genius, your move.

Why I’m excited about Snow Leopard

I’m developing some pretty thick skin after returning to the Apple platform. My DTLT colleagues who had been using Macs, continue to chide me for not using them sooner. Believe me, I will always keep my guard up when it comes to Apple. However, as many have said about democracy, it isn’t perfect, but it’s better than everything else. The same applies to Mac OS X.

I do get excited about new gadgets, gizmos, and software, so I am very excited about the new Snow Leopard (Mac OS version 10.6) operating system. Two very specific reasons come to mind. The first reason makes the upgrade a “when can I give my credit card number to someone” type of decision. QuickTime X. It is essentially QuickTime Pro, which let’s you edit and export video to all kinds of formats, but especially to h.264. QuickTime Pro has also always been a $29 upgrade, so now that the upgrade to Snow Leopard is $29, it’s like you’re upgrading to QuickTime Pro and getting a free operating system update.

The other reason to upgrade is one that is specific to UMW and that is our recent upgrade to a Microsoft Exchange Server. The new Mail client that will ship with Snow Leopard will directly support Exchange. In addition, the iCal and Address Book apps will sync as well.

Now let the snide comments from my colleagues begin ūüėČ