I will never understand the utter retardation that Region Codes on DVD’s present. People move, people travel and people who visit from other countries bring DVD’s as presents. Everybody knows that today almost any DVD player is region free anyways, but when I popped in a DVD for the first time into my late 2008 MacBook Pro, I was astonished by this:
3times
This is a laptop! Something to travel with! Something to carry around with! What the hell is the point of binding it to a country? My 20 dollar DVD player can do better than this.

Oh and it’s not just the fact that the device basically now has crippled functionality, it’s just simply the fact that by giving you the choice of which DVD’s to play, the device actually shows that it has the capability to do so, just that it doesn’t want you to use it. What is the point in this? Oh the humanity of it all.

Also, as a nice additional kick in the arse, I quite fondly remember that my old white MacBook let me change the code a total of FIVE times, but even though this machine is newer and more expensive, I only get three times.

And that’s not even the full spectrum. You as a paying customer of the DVD are basically being told “Hey, you bought this, but you may eventually not be able to watch it”, while if you would’ve just downloaded the movie, you could have watched it on anything that you’d like. Why is it that people who are ready to pay for a movie get restricted in their legitimate use? Why?

EDIT: Also, what the hell? Why is my MacBook Pro bought in America set to Region 6 automatically? WTF?


As you may have heard on several tech blogs recently, YouTube decided to use a new technology to basically mute videos that contain copyrighted music. YouTube explains their reasoning behind the decision with:

Now we’ve added an additional choice. Instead of automatically removing the video from YouTube, users can choose to leave the video muted and live on the site, and many of them are taking that option.

(on their official blog.)

Now wait a minute… this is supposed to be good for uploaders? Well, what about the people who solely watch videos on YouTube, of whom there is exponentially more than people who upload videos? I bet it’s going to be pure joy for them to search through 15 muted videos to maybe find one working one. Fact is that YouTube gained its popularity, because it offered everything in one place and was easy to use. I’ve met people who use it basically to stream music while working. When videos started getting flagged many users got upset already, but I think this will be the final straw for many people who will now choose to upload their content else where (which will then again create wonderful [sarc.] diversity between streaming sites).


It may sound harsh, but it’s sadly true. The iTunes store changed its conditions today. I didn’t catch the new License Agreement completely, but it said something along the lines of:

“The US iTunes store can only be used on US Territory. By agreeing to these conditions, you agree to not attempt to or use the US iTunes store in any other country than the US”. [sic]

This throws the concept of the iTunes store miles away. Meaning that even American citizens can’t use the iTunes store when they are traveling or when they are on vacations. I know teachers, volunteers and doctors without borders who work in other countries than the US but have used the iTunes store to keep up with music and especially American TV Series. By eliminating the possibility to do this, Apple (who is the largest and possibly only distributor of online TV series) is basically telling you “Don’t watch it or get it somewhere else”, the only “else” basically being illegal manners.

I find this decision completely illogical. I mean, this is not people streaming the content from network sites, but this is people who are actually PAYING for these episodes, with real cash (be it from a credit card or a gift certificate). These people I’m talking about go to third world countries where piracy laws are not enforced, but even so WANT to pay money for the content they want to watch.

This also completely destroys the concept of the Mobile iTunes store! People who now travel with their iPhone or iPod Touch, and want to purchase something on the go, can’t.

And I’m pretty sure, Apple is serious about this. In the new License Agreement it was stated that they “will use technologies to enforce this” [sic]

This is the age of the internet! Virtual country borders are redundant! I find this a horrible decision by Apple. What a shame.


Today, I wanted to install the 2.2 Update on my iPod Touch, so I would be able to play my freshly bought I Love Katamari. But when I finally clicked the Update Button and agreeing to some License Agreement, I got this beautiful error:ituneserror1

“There was a problem downloading the iPod software for the iPod “my iPod”. You do not have permission to access the requested resource. Make sure your network settings are correct and your network connection is active, or try again later”

After googleing for only a few seconds, I found many others with the exact same problem, of whom most had posted their problem just a few hours prior. The only logical explanation I can think of, is that Apple’s servers are completely  overloaded by the vast amount of new iPod users after Christmas/Hanukah/Other Holidays. The only solution to this problem seems to be sitting it out throughout the next few days.

The question however arises, as to why Apple isn’t prepared for such an event? Increasing server capabilities  over the holidays seems reasonable to me, especially because this is not the first time something like this has happened. I think not being prepared for something like this is not very honoring towards Apple’s “It just works” philosophy.

Nevertheless, I will be waiting for my Update. Clicking the update button again, and again and again.


This year was when Apple introduced the App Store for the iPod Touch and the iPhone. Not being able to sum up all the money for an iPhone plan, I decided to go the iPod Touch way, and have been (until now) a happy camper with it. The App Store has a wide variety of applications raging from very serious business type ones, to gaming ones, to … “pull my finger” ones.

Nevertheless, here is a list of the applications that I have downloaded and enjoyed the most throughout this year.

Ambiance

For only 99 cents, Ambiance does something that I had been waiting for, for a long time. Basically it gives you a list of sounds that you can play. This might sound simple, but works perfectly for people like me who need to block out outside noise, but can’t rely on music, because it will distract them. This way, for example, you can just listen to thunder, the rattling  of a train, or my favorite: pink noise (which basically sounds like high pitched TV static). itunes-store1The price for this application is very reasonable, and it brings a vast number of sounds, including natural ones (such as rain, streams, creeks etc.), artificial ones (machines, trains, fans etc) or noise one (pink noise, blue noise, violet noise, etc.)

In total, I had only very few problems with the app, all related to updating it, but otherwise it has helped me immensely  when trying to focus on work in rooms where everybody is talking. Ambiance also doesn’t look too shabby. It features a nice clean interface that only focuses  on what you want to do: Play and switch between sounds.

Fring

Fring brings several things to the iPod Touch or iPhone that have been missing: Chat and Skype. Although Chat clients like AIM already existed on the devices, Fring lets you log in with almost every chat client there is, including: AIM, MSN, Y!Messenger, GTalk, ICQ and more. Additionally, it finally brings VoIP to the iPhone. Sadly, the abillity to Skype is limited to the iPhone because of the iPod Touch’ missing speaker. Nevertheless you can hear the person speak if you call someone fringfrom the iPod Touch… you just can’t respond.

Fring does have quite a few bugs and crashes at times, but it has been a real life saver when recently my MacBook broke and I had to contact a few friends over IM. Oh and, to top it all off, Fring also serves as a handy Twitter client (although there is better ones available for the iPhone/iPod Touch)
So… how much would something like this cost? This is the surprising thing, fring is absolutely  free!

Guitar Rock Tour

Ok. Let me be honest. I downloaded this application in a rush, and misread the title as part of the “Guitar Hero” series. But when I found out it wasn’t I was actually surprised. The game is quite good and works like every “Guitar XYZ” guitargame out there. Notes appear in rhythm  of the song, and you have to tap them, very similar to the Tap Tap Revenge games. The difference to TTR, is that in this game you can choose between Guitar and Drumset, giving you four strings in guitar mode, and two drums and one cymbal in drum mode.

The game is extremely stable and provides solid fun. It has somewhat of a story of a band getting famous and has pretty ok music available. There is, however, two downsides to the game: First off, the price. in the US store, the App costs 5.99 dollars. This is somewhat still reasonable for a mobile app, but still a pretty chunk of money if we compare it to other games. The biggest turn off for the game is however the loading times. It takes me about six minutes just to start playing a song in career mode. Boring!

But the game in itself is fun, runs stable and is something good to play on a long flight (which is where I’ve mainly tested it out).

Moto Chasemotor

This game is simply awesome. Beautiful 3D graphics for a mobile device, it gives a real feeling of speed, well implemented use of the motion sensor and an ok soundtrack. Also, this game was developed by one of my favorite semi-indie companies: Freeverse. The game is even playable for nongamers because of its user friendly controls. Also, the game shines with a price of only 99 cents! A must have app for the iPod Touch or the iPhone!

Todo

Todo is basically what the app is called: a to do list. It is very easy to set up and has replaced my calendar  in general, since it is also able to sync with Remember the Milk. Adding new tasks is very easy and quick, and even lets you add attendees ortodo locations to the task. Another interesting feature is “special task” in which you can set the task to either “call, go to website or email” followed by a contact, a website or an email address. If the task is then later tapped, the device will automatically go into call mode, web browser, or email mode. The app also lets you customize on how you want to strike out completed tasks (my favorite being with a big red “DONE” stamp), including many styles raging from formal to childish.

The app is also very stable, and has never crashed on me once. The only thing I’d like to see added to it, would be syncing with the 10.5 iCal to do list. The only downside to the app is its price of 9.99 dollars, making it the most expensive one on this list. But I will gladly pay this price for an application that has redefined the way in which I get things done.

Out of the 47 apps I have downloaded this year, these five we’re definitely  my favorites and most used ones. Runner ups include: Twitterrific, Wordbook: A dictionary and Thesaurus of the English language, Tris, last.fm, Tap Tap Revenge: NIN Edition.

Now happy holidays everyone.


fresh.li Review

23Dec08

A long time ago, I started taking note of a website called fresh.li. Being a student who is soon going into a graphically challenging college, I need some typefreshli of online portfolio, to display my photography and film work. Creating your own portfolio with your own web domain always best. But given, not many people are able to do so, or have the money to host such a site. The most profesional looking option until recently was uber.com, which was able to give advertising free and fully customizable WYSIWYG portfolios. Sadly, because of the economic recession, uber.com had to close.

On the other hand there is deviantART.com. I can say that dA has a very nice community some very great artists (but also some very crappy ones) and is great for getting critiques and help for your art. But ultimately, it does not look very professional. It is not convincing and advertisement ridden. The site recently incorporated more professional looking portfolios into their site, but they were never fully developed and are still in beta.

Then fresh.li came along, and for the sake of this post and for my own portfolio search, I shall create an account.

First off, there is three plans available. A student plan, which is free, a basic plan for 8 Euros a month, and a Pro plan for 16 dollars a month.

fresh1

I like free stuff, so I think I should start off with a free plan. But directly I was disappointed. The initial “Student Plan” said I could store “more than 100 images”, but then I went on to see that there is only 15 mB available? Sooo… that means they want 15 kB images?

Signing up was relatively  easy. All they need was a name, an email address, a password and some captcha action. This was nice.

I was now ready to go. The structure of fresh.li seems to be similar to wordpress. Under your username, you can create different portfolios (although just one with a student account), instead of directly “uploading to the username”.  I could now pick a subdomain, colors of the portfolio, and a custom logo. The uploading is then divided into sections and pages. Sections are where you add images, pages are where you add text. You then go naming the section>then naming the work. The weird thing is that the page confirms that the work has been added before any file is uploaded. You then have to go to your gallery, find the named but empty space and upload the file to it. This is kind of hasselling, and a big work around. Now that you’ve uploaded it, you can add tags and set an optional price for how much people could buy your artwork.

I now took a look at my portfolio with one piece in it. It did not look very convincing. Even though the layout was left on default, all I got was an empty page with a pink link to my photography gallery. In there was a thumbnail that expanded when clicked. This might be great for bare bones enthusiasts, but I needed a little more.  After playing a little with the options the page started to look better, but still very empty. This is good to an extent, because it looks clear and without any advertisements, but on the other hand it still looks pretty lonely.

In conclusion, fresh.li seems to be a nice alternative, but a 15 mB upload limit for a free account is simply not manageable  in any way. The website could go long ways with a little more user friendliness, and a lot more upload space. If you’re willing to spend the 8 Euros a month, fresh.li will present it slef as a nice alternative to other paid services.


Drop Box Review

29Jul08

I got an email a few days ago, for a beta that I had signed up for a few months ago. I was first kind of confused, seeing as I hadn’t heard from the folks who make Drop Box after such a long time. After installing and registering for an account, I got really excited about it.

What is Drop Box?

Drop Box is a web service comparable to the iDisk of the obsolete .mac. It basically gives you 2 GB of storage for private or public files, a desktop plug in where files can be dropped, and universal access from any computer. Additionally, Drop Box also allows you to upload files and share them with friends and coworkers so you can work together (on e.g. a Word File) without having annoying email exchanges.

So, first thing I’m asked to do is download the program. After installing it, a little blue box appears on the top bar of my Mac, right next to the WiFi icon. I think the blue is kind of annoying, seeing as the rest of the icons up there are simply black.

The second step was to sign up for an account. No major hassles here.

Now, my account will be linked to the computer. This step also worked seamlessly.

I am now presented with this folder in my Finder:

The green checkmark over the files indicates that the file has been successfully uploaded  to Drop Box’s servers. I proceed to go into the “Photos” folder only to find three default images, which proceed to delete. After this I check the Drop Box Website, where I am presented with my own profile. To my amazement, the website showed me that I had deleted the three images, even though I had just done this a few seconds ago .

That was a good start, but now I was off to more. I had recently composed an essay about Ireland, this and other files needed an online back up urgently, so I could access them form other computers. I preceeded to put the files into my drop box via drag and drop.

Now, the file was uploading. Considering it was a very small file (~1.6 mb), it uploaded in a matter of seconds. Now I started uploading some more documents, and some high quiality scans of a document a friend had sent me. The documents were uploading nicely, while the scans took some more time. Strangely, the pciture previews did not ger the green check mark, nor the blue “uploading” icon on top of it, while the icon in their extended information did, as you can see here:

This I found a little annoying, as now I didn’t know when the upload for the pictures was going to be done.

All in all, I have to say that for now drop box is a really nice service. If it can keep up this way, and doesn’t experience too much down-time, it might well be my permanent future online storage. It’s simplicity is astonishing, and 2 GB might be enough (for now).

If you want to check it out, and sing up for the beta, go here http://www.getdropbox.com/




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.