Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Apple’s “Mapplegate” Debacle


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In what the media has dubbed “Mapplegate,” the much anticipated introduction of Apple’s iOS 6 and iPhone 5 has met with a little — shall we say — snag.

Last summer, Apple made a big thing about the fact that they were dumping Google Maps in their iOS devices in favor of their own map app. The reported reason… the Google Maps app in iOS devices was of inferior quality. Well, Apples own map app is out, and … TALK ABOUT INFERIOR QUALITY. OH MY GOSH! One has to wonder if anybody in Apple ever tested this.

Has the Eiffel Tower really fallen over?

Aside from the fact that:

  • Some of the directions it provides are inaccurate
  • Well-known landmarks are in the wrong place
  • it’s images of certain places are totally whacked…

Yes, aside form that, it’s not bad.

The iPhone 5 was Apple’s first big product introduction since the Steve Jobs era. Oh, my! I can only imagine what he would be saying now.

Yesterday, Apple’s current CEO Tim Cook issued an apology for the disaster. He recommended that in the interim  while Apple works on a fix, customers should use one of their competitor’s apps, like Google Maps. The competition is fierce between Apple and Google, so this has to irk Apple to the core (no pun intended), and you can be sure Google is Giggling (pun intended) around the water cooler and in the board rooms.

One of the things that makes this news is the fact that Apple traditionally seems so perfect. So when something this visible goes so terribly wrong, it’s like a realization that, yes, Apple is actually made up of fallible human beings.

But this really isn’t the first time. Remember the iPhone 4S antenna problem? And there have been other similar things. But Apple always seems to rebound high, and its loyal customers forget quickly. So this won’t be doing any permanent damage to the company. But it does make for an interesting anecdote.

Windows 7 Tips: Make It Easier to Read the Screen

Have you ever had to squint or put your nose up to the screen to read text? Of course, you can reduce the screen resolution to enlarge everything on the screen. But it’s a shame to have to sacrifice resolution to be able to read the screen.

I just ran across a couple of Control Panel configurations that can make it easier to read text while keeping the high resolution capabilities of your screen. Continue reading

Microsoft Surface Price Range Indicated

When I first reported the announcement of the ground-breaking Microsoft Surface tablets (Live From Hollywood – It’s Microsofts New Surface Tablet), there was no indication of price. I’ve heard low-ball prices for the RT version that would make it competitive with the Kindle Fire. I’ve heard scary high prices well above $1,000 for the Pro version. It looks like neither one of those extremes are correct.

Last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated a range from $300 to $800. The $300 price point would be for the RT version that is targeted to compete in the Android and Apple iPad market, while the higher priced $800 product would presumably be the price point for the fully Windows 8 capable Pro version that is essentially equivalent to Ultrabook laptops.

There’s the rumor, straight from the top of Microsoft. Now we wait for October 26 when Windows 8 and the Surface RT are to be officially introduced. We probably won’t see the Surface Pro till sometime in January.

Amazon Releases New Kindles

As expected, Amazon released a new Kindle e-reader and a couple of new Kindle Fire color tablets early this month.

The new e-reader, Kindle Paperwhite, comes in two configurations. One is WiFi only at $119 and one is 3G enabled at $179. The most significant new feature is the high contrast screen, with a built-in light feature so you can read in low light. The device claims an 8-week battery life, even with the light on.

The new Kindle Fire HD tablet comes in two sizes, 8.9 inch that targets Apple’s iPad and a compact 7 inch, the same size as the previous Fire. The 8.9-inch product comes configured for 4G LTE at $499 or WiFi at $299. The 7-inch WiFi is $199.

The 8.9-inch Fire HD has an impressive 1920×1200 screen display, with an anti-glare feature that makes it easier to read from an angle and in bright light. It also has Dolby audio and dual speakers that give it a sound richness that belies the fact that it is coming from a tablet. The 7-inch model has a 1200×800 HD display with the same anti-glare technology and rich Dolby sound.

These tablets are still clearly aimed at content consumption from Amazon’s e-book, movie and music libraries. But the impressive screen and audio features make for a first class experience.

Cloud Application #1: Online Backups

Copyright © 2012 Richard Beaty

The Internet has brought us many things: ways to communicate, new forms of entertainment, new ways to waste time. Today I’m going to start a new series on something that can be both a tool and a toy … the “cloud.” In this series, I’ll limit the discussion to consumer oriented things, from backing up your computer, to online photo albums, to just plain old “hard drives in the sky.”

The Cloud

I like the term, “the cloud,” as it refers to something that is just “out there” somewhere, kind of amorphous and undefined. In fact, it is just another word for the Internet, in particular as it applies to certain forms of computing and data storage.

Cloud Application #1: Online Backup

In this article, I’ll cover a very handy (and important) cloud service: online backups. Other applications will follow in later articles.

Continue reading