#155 CradlePoint, Apple Social network?

Twitter is the new party line, more on Dean Kamen and his robotic arms, Asa Mathat at asamathat.com is a fun photographer at D6. Cradlepoint PHS300 for sharing wifi from cell phone card. Used random.org to pick Connor and Chris as winners of the Today giveaway. Scott goes to South American, Dumb Question Corner covers how 3G iPhones are coming without a second generation iPhone. Dr. Joe tells us about a good way to protect an iPhone with a go Phone, never buy from FirstStreet Online, and George from Tulsa tells us of how DiskWarrior saves his disk. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart and I are joined by crazy listener James as they discuss whether Apple should create a social network around MobileMe.

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Listen to the Podcast Once (52 min 13)
[tags]D6, All Things Digital, 3G, MobileMe, .mac, disk[/tags]
I know I told you LAST week it was a long show, but I think this one will be even longer! We also have a big treat in Chit Chat Across the Pond in store for you so sit back & relax.

Twitter revelation
It’s the party line from the early days of the telephone! Prior to WWII a party line where groups of people shared a phone line so if one person picked up the phone when another was on the line, they’d hear the conversation. From Wikipedia: “The completely non-private party lines were a cultural fixture of rural areas for many decades, and were frequently used as a source of entertainment and gossip, as well as a means of quickly alerting entire neighbourhoods in case of emergencies such as fires.” Tell me that isn’t exactly what Twitter is???

More from D6
I know you got your fill of me yapping on and on about D6, but I told my mom the whole story of how moving Dean Kamen’s speech was and she encouraged me to go ahead and tell it to you here, even though you may have gone to the web and watched it. anyway, I’m a good girl and I do as my mother tells me.

To recap, Dean Kamen is the CEO of DEKA and is best known for inventing the Segway. My buddy Benji worked for him for years, but that has nothing to do with the story, just felt like telling you that. He’s a phenomenal robotics guy, and has recently designed these cool little robots that whiz around a factory floor bringing parts to the workers. it’s really amazing to see as they rush around and go on other machines to climb up a wall to get to the parts they need – and they never hit each other, or the live humans. Phenomenal. anyway, Dean Kamen came out on stage and started his story. He said he got a visit from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is an agency of the US Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. They develop this cool stuff, and eventually we get some of it in the commercial market. These are the people who invented the Internet. no, not Al Gore, DARPA.

so he says that DARPA came to see him, which gave him the willies at first, but they told him there’s good news. They said that our medical skills in war are now so good that you have a really good chance of living if you’re injured – in fact your survival chances are significantly better in war than if you were injured in a major US city. the bad news is that our soldiers, or “kids” as he called them, come back frequently without arms. 1600 kids have come back without arms, and two dozen have lost both arms. He explained that in comparison, losing one arm is an inconvenience, losing both arms is a catastrophe.

DARPA told Kamen that they wanted him to design a robotic arm. He was expecting some huge government specification, but they made it really simple. they said, “give us something that will let them pick up a grape or a raisin off a table, won’t drop it and won’t squish it, and they’ll be able to eat it.” The arm should be the 50th percentile female arm: weighing no more than the original equip (32”, 8.9 pounds). He told them they were nuts and went home, but he couldn’t sleep that night thinking about it. then he visited some of the kids without arms and he went back to DARPA and told them they still were nuts, but that he’d try. He told them it would take 8 years, and they said 2. Nuts again! So he said 2 years, but no one would ever be able to learn how to use it in less than 9 years.

Luke wearing his arm from DEKA drinking by himelfAnd instead, he and his company actually built an arm that these kids could learn to use in less than TWO days. He showed a video of a man named Luke who had lost both of his arms 13 years ago, and fitted with one of the new arms, he was feeding himself a bowl of ice cream. Dean got choked up several times as he told these stories, and on this one he said that we didn’t see or hear what happened right after that video was filmed. Luke’s wife was in the room, and when Luke took the bite of ice cream, she said, “my husband hasn’t fed himself in 13 years. You’re either going to let Luke keep that arm, or you’re going to keep Luke.”

He went on to a VA hospital in Los Angeles where he met with a bunch of these kids. They were sitting around the table, and one guy had lost his left arm, but Dean had only brought right arms. the guy missing the left arm said, “I’m one of the lucky ones, I didn’t lose the arm i needed most.” they sat around the table for a couple of hours, and then when they pushed back from the table, Dean noticed that the lucky one had no legs. he left these guys very depressed because they told him that they don’t wear their plastic tube arms because when they’re not using them they’re simply dead weight. He was so bummed to think of these wonderful arms he was going to make never being used.

So they went back to the drawing board and designed a structural vest sort of thing that included bladders that would shift and adjust the weight depending on what you were trying to do. this would tighten up if you were trying to lift something but fill up and sort of let the weight of the arm float around when it wasn’t being used.

The whole speech was something I’ll never forget, his delivery was so heartwarming and genuine, I was really rooting for their success.

Asa’s pics from D6
One of the fun parts of D for me and life in general is messing with people who don’t expect you to notice them. I really enjoy playing around with the photographer at D. His name is Asa Mathat and his photos are AMAZING. He gets to clamber all around the stage and has these CRAZY big lenses that he whips off and rolls across the floor and crams in a different one – it’s really fun to watch him. I take such care of my cheezy little lenses and he just hurls these lenses around like they’re toys! anyway, 4 years ago my friend Stewart and I were engrossed in our Blackberry’s at the show, and BB’s were very new at the time, so Asa came over and took a picture of us proudly showing them off. he did it again the next year, only that time he made us pose like super heroes. last year he made us hold them in our teeth. Oddly, these pictures all made the beautiful bound book we each receive in the mail a month or so after the event. Sadly yes, the picture i’m in is holding my BB in my teeth.

So this year we go up to Asa and ask him what we’re going to do, and he said, “they told me the BB thing is kinda played out.” Of course I said, what about iPhones? TOTALLY different! Asa gets this glimmer in his eyes and says, “I’ve got an idea” sort of like the Grinch when he has his awful, grinchy idea. He tells us to each take a picture of ourselves on the iPhones, and then he’ll have us hold them up in front of our faces to represent our faces. He tells us where to go, where to stand and how to take the picture – “run along now, find me when you’re done.” it’s only after we leave that Stewart points out that he doesn’t have an iPhone, it’s an iPod touch. Now of course I could take the pic with my iPhone, but how to get it to Stewart’s iPhone so he can hold it in front of his face?

Well, I have to imbed a gadget review in the middle of this story that was SUPPOSED to be about Asa the photographer, but that’s just the way these things roll sometimes.

Cradlepoint PHS300
For mother’s day, steve got me the CradlePoint PHS-300 Portable Personal WiFi Hotspot. This is the coolest gadget ever, that will probably never succeed, and I’ll tell you why later. This little gadget allows you to plug in a wireless cell card and turns it into a wifi hotspot! So you can take a USB EVDO card from Verizon for example, shove it into the Cradlepoint, flick a little switch, and badabing badaboom, you’ve got wifi! The reason this is so TOTALLY awesome is that it’s got a lithium ion battery (or you can plug it into the wall) and that means you could supply wifi to, say, a car full of crazy nerdballs like my family! I know, with a Mac it’s really easy to just shove in the card, pull the signal, and create an adhoc wireless network, but if you have a PC or an iPhone, or what about an iPod Touch, you’d have to crank up the Mac to share that internet access.

cradlepoint showing usb, power and switchI have been dragging this all over the place demonstrating it and everyone gets very excited when they realize the possibilities. I showed it to my boss, and said, let’s say you’re traveling with Bob. You’re hanging out in the airport, and you’re happily working away on your laptop with your cell phone card, but he’s bored to tears and being unproductive. If you carried the Cradelpoint with you, you’d be able to share your internet access with him! To which she said, “Screw Bob, I don’t care about him!” i love my boss, she cracks me up. It was a snotty thing to say, and while I respect her for that, it really pointed out to me while this may not succeed as a product. The ONLY reason you would carry this would be to help someone else. you already HAVE the cell card, so you could do whatever you want – all of the inconvenience is on you and none of the joy.

I actually LOVE helping other people – being the person who helps other people solve a problem (perhaps you’ve picked up on that?) so this device is perfect for me. I should mention that the Cradlepoint PHS300 runs around $150 – I put a link in the shownotes to Amazon where you can buy it if you’re sold.

Stewart & Al with their iPhone picturesSo here’s Stewart and I trying to figure out how to get a photo of him on his iPod Touch. Well Allison whips out her Cradlepoint, plugs in her EVDO card…oh wait, if you’ve been playing along with our home game, you’ll remember I have an ExpressCard 34 – which goes into that little slot that’s only on the MacBook Pro, so what’s with this USB talk? Well a while back I bought a little ExpressCard 34 to USB adapter for my EVDO card so that we could use it on the MacBook Pro but also on Steve and my Windows laptops from work. So you’re starting to get the idea that I’ve got a fair amount of crapola I’m dragging around to be so generous – the ExpressCard itself, the adapter (which is actually very small), the Cradlepoint (which is REALLY light) and the charger if I’ll be away from home for a while. Yes, this is ALL in my purse! I’ve been trying to figure out why my left shoulder hurts so much…

Ok, so back to our story, which was SUPPOSED to be about pestering the photographer Asa. So I took a picture of Stewart with my iPhone, emailed it to him, turned on the Cradlepoint and stuck in the EVDO card, and by the time that fired up, he was able to receive email on his iPod Touch and get the photo up on screen! Yes! only 14 different devices necessary to take a comedy picture of ourselves. So we ran back to Asa and he took a great picture of us with our devices in front of our faces…showing our faces. you must go to the shownotes and see how it came out!

Back to Asa
So now back to Asa. here’s this guy scrambling around, hardest working person around, and towards the end of the show I grabbed my camera and called to him, and he whipped around and made the scariest face ever! he did this weird thing with his mouth, and then the red eye was extreme, and something about the way his hair went over his ears they look pointy – it’s the devil himself! I showed Asa the photo and he LOVED it, so he took a picture of me holding up my MacBook Pro with the image of him as the devil full screen and I have this look of complete horror and fright on my face – it came out GREAT! I sent him the photo of himself, and he sent me the one of me being scared, so i’ve included them both in the shownotes for your entertainment. I also sent them both to Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher (the hosts of D6) and they both wrote back with amusement at the photos. And that’s my story about why you should pay attention to the people behind the scenes – they’re frequently the most interesting! I put a link to Asa’s website at asamathat.com so you can contact him if you’re interested in his fantastic photography services.

Asa looking like the devil himselfAsa on screen frightening Allison

Winners of Today Contest
Two weeks ago I reviewed a lovely little piece of shareware called Today which gives you access to your iCal events in a simple menu bar app or as a standalone app. I can tell it’s good stuff because I just keep using it! hopefully I’ll get the developer Jason on the show soon to get a bit of a peak behind the curtain on where the app came from and what he’s working on for future revisions. I think it will be fun to see into the mind of a developer of a nice Mac app. Well all this was a tease, because you’ve all been waiting patiently to find out who won the Today giveaway. Jason generously donated 2 copies to be given away, and i took all the names that were emailed to me, put them in Excel in the order in which I received them, then numbered them. The I went over to random.org and asked the site to give me 2 numbers within the range of entries I had. The lucky winners are Connor Jackson (who is traveling in Europe right now and may not hear this right away) and Chris Wagner. congratulations guys, you should get an email from Justin soon with your license codes.

Scott goes to South America
You’ve probably figured out by now how much I enjoy the internationalnesss of Podcasting. Being able to get to know people from across the world is so exciting to me – heck I’ve even learned about countries I never heard of before because of the Podcast. We’ve had the homework assignment of having every continent checking in for a while, and Antarctica is STILL at large! Listener Michael (who’s email name is Lord Siegfried for some reason) is planning a trip there in July for his 50th birthday this very month, so I’m hopeful we’ll get some photos back from his trip showing the NosillaCast on an iPod or his MacBook Pro with some snow in the background!

Paul from Peru laid claim to South America early on – in fact I forgot to mention that his birthday is actually the same as the anniversary of the NosillaCast so it’s kismet that we were to virtually meet! Listener Scott Patz lives in Minnesota but he’s come through VERY strong in our geography assignments. Back in january I wanted someone to check in from Alaska, and he actually DROVE to Alaska from Minnesota just to complete the assignment. Ok, I made a lot of that up, he inadvertently completed the assignment the day before I assigned it. He’s a real trooper. A few weeks ago he traveled to South American and while in Quito, Ecuador he took pictures of the area with his iPod Nano clearly showing the NosillaCast on screen! I put the pics in the shownotes – well done Scott! I envy you your traveling spirit, and I think everyone listening should try to live up to his standard of photos of the show when traveling interesting places!
first pic from scott in ecuador2nd pic from scott

Dumb Question Corner
Speaking of Paul from Peru – he sent in a GREAT dumb question! first he made some lovely comments about the Podcasting on Podcasting show, which is a guaranteed way to make it to the top of my mention list, and then he said, “How is that people are taking about the 3G iPhone? Has the second gen come out with me noticing it? Oh, well I thought it was funny, since we have always talked about 1g, 2g, etc ipods and now the iphone wants to skip a step.”

This is a great question I bet a lot of people have been thinking about. here’s the deal. the 3G doesn’t refer to the third generation of the iPhone itself, it’s the third generation of a chip. the iPhone doesn’t currently have a 1G, 2G or 3G chip in it. when the iPhone goes to 3G it will be totally different chip hardware, spectrum, and network. now your question still got me going because I’d never heard of 1G or 2G networks either. I looked up 3G on wikipedia and learned that 3G is definitely the followon to 2G. 3G enables a wider range of more advanced services than 2G along with greater network capacity through improved spectral efficiency. That sounds good. I had to follow the trail in wikipedia to find out that 1G was analog, and 2G was fully digital. 2G was origially launched in Finland in 1991. Another big difference between 2G and 1G was that 2G was that phone conversations were digitally encrypted while with 1G eavesdropping was possible.

One of the great things about this Dumb Question Corner is how much I’m learning! thanks for the great question Paul and your support throughout the years.

Dr. Joe SIM card tips
Dr. Joe calls in with a tip about his iPhone purchase and a bad sim card, and a hot tip about how to use your sim card to avoid taking your iPhone places where you’re worried about losing/hurting it.

INSERT DR. JOE AUDIO==============
4 minutes
Now Dr. Joe says that was his very first audio recording using GarageBand – i think he did a fantastic job! He asked me to mention that the Go-phones are only around $20 – I saw some refurbed ones for even less than that. Sounds like a great idea Joe!

Never buy from FirstStreet Online
You know that I like to say nice things in general about developers and companies I work with, right? But I’ve alway believed that while you should be nice in general, no one will believe you if you don’t remember to also tell the bad stories too. Years ago i got an electric letter opener, a little black box that you slide an envelope through and it neatly cuts off the end or the side. no more scratchy craggy tearing or using a knife to cut open envelopes. i happened to use it in front of my friend René, and she admired it of course. I thought it would make a nice little birthday present for her. I went on a hunt for it online and I came across FirstStreet Online at firststreetonline.com.

box crushed by Think Free Onlinehere’s the story – I ordered this $20 letter opener on May 12th, and they charged me just under TEN DOLLARS to ship it. Sheesh, that’s highway robbery, but I hadn’t been able to find it anywhere else, so i went for it. On May 21st, 9 days later i wrote to them because it hadn’t arrived, and they said that I should expect 12-14 days! can you believe that??? A package that size sent through the plain old post office for about $6 would get there in 2-3 days. cripes. I wait and I wait and I wait, and it finally arrives on May 27th – yes, FIFTEEN days for $10 shipping. that would leave me annoyed enough, but when I got it, it was in a soft envelope that looked like it had been run over by a car, which meant that of course the box inside was crushed! In case you think I’m exaggerating, I put a photo in the shownotes to prove it to you! The letter opener itself wasn’t broken but the box was so destroyed I didn’t see how I could possibly wrap it as a gift.

I wrote immediately to them, sending them the photo, and they wrote back offering me a $20 coupon off my next order! I told them I thought that at the VERY least they should refund my shipping charges before I would ever considering doing business with them again, to which Karen Harper replied, “I do apologize you feel that is not enough. The picture that was sent to us showed a slight indentation on the box. The item itself was not damage at all.” SLIGHT INDENTATION???? The lid of the box was just about completely torn off! This was a GIFT! Good grief.

I told them that I was going to tell my podcast listeners about their fabulous “customer service”, and that i would never do business with them again. I urge you to avoid this company. There. I feel better now.

Disk Warrior Visits Tulsa
George from Tulsa sent in another audio clip:

disk utility screen showing the disk is badHi, Allison, George in Tulsa sending you a short story with a happy ending. CJ’s a wizard with graphics but when she has a system problem, the intercom buzzes. Last week her iMac stopped working right. Sometimes it sorta’ worked, others it didn’t even boot.

Had it been a Windoze machine, I would have suspected a virus. Since it was a Mac, I first thought permissions or preference files. We’ve recently had some severe lightning raising the possibility of hardware problems, in spite of surge protection and battery backup. I ran Disk Utility. It ran and ran, finally reporting back the drive needed to be repaired. I tried everything I knew.


Nothing worked. So, I was down to two choices. was to reformat the Hard Drive and try to restore the iMac from Time Machine. But what if the Time Machine backup was itself corrupted by whatever problem ate the internal drive?

Option two was to drive to the Apple Store in the giant mall I call the 7th Circle of Hell and hope DiskWarrior was in stock. There’s a lot in DiskWarrior, but I was hoping not to need all its features.

Several miles and $108.46 later, I slid DiskWarrior into the DVD slot and followed the instructions printed right on the Disk. The DVD drive made a lot of noise for longer than seemed reasonable, but, finally, DiskWarrior started up and offered the option to repair the drive. That’s it, one option. I chose yes.

disk utility reporting that the disk is a-ok!Not long after, Disk Warrior reported the drive was repaired. It booted. I ran Disk Utility which reported the drive to be OK. Real Geeks might be able to write this story without buying Disk Warrior. To me, the money was well spent. I could spend days trying to figure this out, and not get it right. Time is money, at least this time.

My next step is to reformat CJ’s Time Machine drive and start a new clean Time Machine Back Up. Having to go out and spend more than $100 on a Utility Program isn’t the “Happy Computing” Bart so nicely closes with, but in this case, thanks to DiskWarrior, I can close with “Happier Computing.”

Well George, I’m sure glad you got through this, and I know people swear by Disk Warrior. I’m glad you’re diligent with your backups, because this could be the sign of a failing disk, so keep them up to date like you are! I’m not sure you need to erase the Time Machine backup – I’d feel better if you made a separate backup of the drive before erasing that Time Machine one, what if the disk fails while you’re erasing the backup? keep us posted, I know you will.

Chit Chat Across the Pond
In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart and I are joined by crazy listener James as they discuss whether Apple should create a social network around MobileMe.

James pointless points:
James Blog Post on Apple Social Networking
* This idea first came to me when I was on my Apple TV, wishing I had a way to send podcasts to my friends without having to get off my lazy ass, go to my computer in the other room, search for the show on iTunes, fill out the “Send to a friend” form and send it. If I had a list of friends stored online, I could have done it with a few clicks of the remote… if Apple had some kind of social networking feature built into the device.
* me.com. I think that says it all. Assuming that the name change is imminent.
* Why make such a drastic change and continue to offer the same lame service?
* Why take “mac” out of the name of the service unless that means the intergration of other devices and platforms such as OS X iPhone or even Windoze?
* New iPhone patent reveals proof of blogging, and video camera software. This would get content to your me.com page instantly, instead of having to wait to get to a computer or wi-fi hot spot.
* I don’t see Apple doing social networking in the same manner that MySpace or Facebook have. Those sites try to do too much and fail in so many ways. I see Apple’s network being much more simple and, well… more Apple-like! In other words, done the right way.
* I have multiple contacts at Apple via my day job and I know things that I can’t talk about.
* That last one was a lie. Well, the second half at least.
* Throughout my blog post, I admit it’s insane to think these things. It’s more of a “wouldn’t it be cool” kind of idea than something that I REALLY REALLY REALLY think Apple will do. I’d love to see where .mac goes, wouldn’t you?
* I’m sure I’ll agree with most, if not all of Bart’s counterpoints. Prepare for an easy victory my Irish Mac brethren.

Bart’s brilliant counterpoints:
Bart’s Blog
* The rumour I heard is Mobile Me as the new .Mac name. That seems to imply it’s about getting at your own stuff on the go.
* I’m expecting this to be about easier and better syncing that actually works and it will work with the iPhone. Whether we like it or not, WWDC is going to be all about the iPhone. Since so many iPhone users are windows users it will have to work on windows and it certianly needs to loose the Mac in it’s name.
* Apple tend to have a grand master plan.Right now I think their master plan is to be in every mm of your digital life and to have the whole experience be totally seemless. I don’t see them taking their eye off that goal to do social networking.
* Social networking is a mine field. When you see FaceBook on ‘news’ chanels (I use the term exceptionally loosely for American news stations which are really editoral stations) what kind of storys are they? In variably it’s about how evil pedophiles are being helped perv over your kids by the social networking site du-jour. Or about how FaceBook are responsible for bullying or even suicides. Basically, bad bad press which gets law makers into a flurry. You end up with Atorneys General on your tail!
* People are so fickle. Right now we seem to be in the Face Book age. Not long ago it was MySpace. In Ireland it’s now BeBo. Social networking only works if you have lots of members and they don’t stay with you for long. It’s just not a good business for Apple to get messed up in. It will distract them from what they do well. The amount of bugs in Leopard show they can do without distractions!

Well I hope that was enough show for you guys – it sure was long enough for me! I have to apologize AGAIN to Donald for not airing his review yet – I PROMISE it will air next week, first thing – even before I give my opinions on whatever comes out of WWDC. I forgot to tell you guys – you have to feel sorry for me because I’m going to be on a plane during the Stevenote so I’m going to miss EVERYTHING and have to read it in the cab when i get to Boston. Well anyway, keep up all the great feedback on both the regular show and Podcasting on Podcasting, by sending it to [email protected] or if you have an audio recording you want to send in, send it to [email protected]. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

4 thoughts on “#155 CradlePoint, Apple Social network?

  1. Drew - June 9, 2008

    Hi Allison,

    Another good show! And I have another dumb question for you. In Firefox 2.x, I used to sync bookmarks between my Macs by copying the bookmarks.html file from my main machine to my secondary systems. Now that I’m using Firefox 3.0rc2, copying the bookmarks.html file has no effect. How can I sync my machines? I’d like to avoid 3rd party add-on software if possible!



  2. George - June 9, 2008

    Crazy James/Bart repartee on social networking –

    I think James has a great idea – if the Apple TV had a way to send, it could access the Me.Com email and you could recommend a movie/song/trailer/podcast to your friends.

  3. jeremy - June 10, 2008

    the D6 stuff bored me last week already. Instead of going on about name dropping,(you should have talked about Dean Kaman’s work then rather than your mum having to tell you to do it this week). I heard you saying the same stuff on the Mac Roundtable too which pushed me over the edge. I’ve unsubscribed the mac roundtable. Podcasters can become too ubiquitous and that show is full of them now

  4. Allison - June 10, 2008

    Jeremy – thanks for the honest feedback. I hope you find a podcast you enjoy more than mine. I really enjoy CNET’s Buzz out Loud, anything Leo does (especially MacBreak Weekly) and MacOSKen. good luck in finding what you like – remember podcasting is all about you – what you want, when you want it, how you want it and where you want it!

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