Microvision SHOWWX Laser Pico Projector from microvision.com. Michelle from theportablegamer.com brings a review of Park Rush HD from taptomic.com for the iPad. Bruce Baker from becomingmature.org tells us how to travel (effectively) with only an iPhone using: Simplenote: simplenoteapp.com/ Notational Velocity: notational.net Birdhouse: birdhouseapp.com iBlogger from illuminex.com/iBlogger Meebo from meebo.com. In Chit Chat Across the Pond we talk about the critical Flash vulnerability (surprise, surprise) and five ways you can block Flash from playing: Click to Flash for Safari from clicktoflash.com, Flashblock for Firefox: addons.mozilla.org, Flashblock for Chrome: chromeextensions.org, Adblock for Firefox: addons.mozilla.org, and NoScript for Firefox: noscript.net. Then we discuss the pros and cons of the Apple and Android app stores and how the Samsung Galaxy Tablet is doomed.
Listen to the Podcast Once (1 hour 17 minutes)
Today is Sunday September 19th, 2010 and this is show number 278. It’s a bittersweet time of year – sending Kyle back to University yesterday was a little bit hard for me. We’ve had what I’ll always remember as “The Summer of Ping Pong”. We played ping pong pretty much every night when I got home, a couple of times every weekend day, and had such a great time. I played a lot of ping pong with my dad when I was his age, and it was fun to pass that along to him. He’s left handed, and quite good, and the master of spin. Some shots it’s like playing in a fun house mirror the ball moves so oddly. I think I also enjoyed the fact that while at the beginning of the summer he would beat me maybe 20 games to 1, and skunks were not out of the realm of possibility, by the end of the summer I was winning maybe 1 out of 5 games, and a LOT of games went to deuce. I was very proud of my little self. Oh well, the Summer of Ping Pong is over and he’s off to adventures he’ll never be able to tell me about, and learning great things, and I’m very happy for him. Sux for me tho. Only way to shake it off is to jump into the show, so let’s get started.
Imagine a projector that can fit in the palm of your hand and only costs $500. Imagine being able to connect it with a small cable to your iPhone, iPad or iPad and play movies and presentations on a wall or a screen or even the ceiling. Imagine a picture that’s in focus from any distance. Open your eyes, there is such a device. It’s called the Microvision SHOWWX Laser Pico Projector, from microvision.com. It was the darling of Macworld Expo this year when they demoed it and I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it ever since.
The Pico Projector is about the size of an iPhone and weighs around 4 ounces. It comes with a handy little carrying bag and a nice little wrist strap. And that’s a real nice feature. Three cables come with the Pico – a micro-USB cable for charging the rechargeable battery, a micro-USB to iPod Dock Connector, and a video out cable. My first reaction was “where’s the VGA cable?” Unfortunately if you want to use the Pico Projector with a laptop, you’ll have to shell out an extra $50 for the VGA dock. The dock has a VGA cable hanging off of it and the Pico Projector goes into the dock. Let’s set that aside for now and see if it’s worth the money.
My idea was to use this for work, and to use with the dreaded Powerpoint, so without the $50 dock I had to find another plan. I emailed a Powerpoint file to myself and opened it on my iPad in Keynote. The translation isn’t perfect, but what’s good about Powerpoint anyway?
First you turn on the Pico Projector and wait about 15 seconds for it to come on. This isn’t a big deal to wait this long, but there’s one problem with it. Remember I said to imagine a projector that was in focus at any distance? The Pico Projector does this by using lasers for the light source, not traditional lamps. Think about it – you’ve turned the device on, it’s in your hand weighing practically nothing, how do you tell if it’s on? Your instinct is to turn it right at your eyes to see if it’s on. And it’s a laser. The instruction book has some pretty big warnings about that, but even after I’d read them I was still tempted to do it. I’m not sure how dangerous it is, but that temptation frightens me.
When the Pico Projector comes on it projects a flashy color image that really shows off the color brightness of the projector. Next you turn on your iPhone or iPad, and start up the application you want to display. Let’s say for example we’re going to play the movie Up out of the iPod application. Hook the iPod connector cable to the iDevice and then to the projector. With any luck it will say “ready”. Hit play on the iDevice and you’ll be rewarded. Unfortunately not very well rewarded. It will be very dark. If you hold the projector very close to a surface it might be almost bright enough, but you’ll realize that the image that close up is just about the same as the one on your iDevice and you could have just held THAT up.
At first the person you’re trying to impress will try to help you and say, “oh, this room is just too bright”. You’ll run around closing curtains, closing doors, turning lights off…and it will still be too dark. Next you’ll decide that your surface just isn’t white enough, so you’ll be turning lights off and closing curtains in other people’s offices in search of the perfect surface. You won’t find it though. One guy tried to convince me that shining the Pico Projector at ceiling tiles was actually pretty good.
I had hoped that the Pico Projector would make a good device for presentations at work, so maybe we should try a boring old Powerpoint document. Of course I can’t connect my PC to it because I didn’t pay the $50 for the VGA dock yet, so I emailed a Powerpoint document to my iPad and opened it in Keynote. As I explained in my review for Keynote on the iPad ages ago, things don’t translate perfectly but it’s good enough for a proof of concept. I figured I was in like Flint now, because a pure white background on the slides with boring black text would surely stand out well on a projection screen, whiteboard or white wall, right? Wrong. It’s dull and dark. Where the image should be white you can actually see the separation of the red/blue/green light so it’s not as bright as it should be.
I had quite a few problems with the Pico Projector and my iDevices too. I’d be playing a slide show in Keynote and the projector would get stuck on a particular slide – it especially didn’t like going backwards. I even had a time where I was playing a video on my iDevice but the projector was insisting that I was still playing the Keynote presentation. I tried to be consistent in the order in which I turned things on as they describe in the manual (YES, I read the manual) but the behavior I got was not as consistent as I would have hoped. One oddity – the manual said the projector battery would last 90-120 minutes – what the heck does that mean? Is it 90 or is it 120? Does it vary by 30%? So you might not make it through a movie, but you just might? Not terribly helpful.
Bottom line I can’t really recommend the Pico Projector even though it did wow people around the office with its size, weight, and price. In fact some people said it shouldn’t cost $500 because it was TOO light (neglecting the fact that traditional projectors are thousands of dollars). I think this is a good indicator of where we will be in the not too distant future, but I don’t think you should shell out your hard-earned dollars for this one.
This week my friend Lora wrote to me asking questions about how much it might cost to use her iPad while in Paris. You might remember when helped Lora set up her iPad and how she went from a reasonably non-techie person who primarily a netbook to a fanatic who can’t let her iPad out of her sight. She wanted to know if there was a way to figure out how much data she was using on the iPad right now in order to gauge how much data she should buy from AT&T. Can you guess how I walked her through the instructions? Using ScreenSteps of course! now this was a bit tricky since there’s no ScreenSteps on the iPad, but since ScreenSteps accepts screenshots from any source, all I had to do was hold down the top and front button to take a screenshot, mail it to myself, and then paste it into ScreenSteps. More screenshots from the AT&T site, annotations using arrows and boxes on the images, and then text to explain why she was doing each step. Export to pdf and badabing, badaboom, a professional looking tutorial all thanks to ScreenSteps. I remain her hero of course, and you can be a hero to your friends too. $40 for the standard version less 25% if you use my coupon code NOSILLA and you’re out the door for only $30. If you want the pro version, it’s $80 less 25%, or wait until you realize you need the pro version and there’s a no penalty upgrade path. All that heroness for such a little fee.
iCasual Game Report
=========insert Michelle on ParkRushHD===========
Hello everyone this is Michelle from The Portable Gamer with your iCasual report for Park Rush HD from TapTomic for the iPad. In Park Rush you play a grunt trying to make some extra cash by parking cars. How hard can that be you figure. Well, you have a lot of impatient customers coming and going and you’ll need to use all of your organizational skill and memory to move fast and get the best tips. Each level has a goal to be reached and as you become a better parker new opportunities pop up to gain extra cash.
When you start, you get to pick your character and you can watch the tutorial, then you’re set to go. You tap on a customer and his car pops up, you then tap the car and tap a parking space. Next you can either tap a new person in line or give a car back to someone if they are on the exit line. If you choose to help the returning customer, here is where your memory comes into play. If you know which car is theres you only have to tap on the car and then the exit spot to give it to them, but if you don’t remember, you need to tap the customer first so they can show you the right car. This could slow you down a lot which loses tips. You also need to organize the parked cars well and quickly so you can give them back with out having to move other cars out of the way. The game does not give you much leeway to make mistakes, which could frustrate impatient players.
This $2.99 iPad only game has a lot of potential. The developers are open to new ideas for levels and have done free updates already, but the game still needs a few tweaks. The controls are best described as clunky. They don’t always respond as smoothly as other time management games do. Plus, you can’t tap ahead to plan out future moves to get bonuses. I also haven’t seen any way to use the money you’ve earned to upgrade your character, but that just might be in the higher levels I haven’t gotten to yet. The graphics are high quality and the idea of the game itself is promising. I’m gonna keep a close eye on this one, and in the mean time, give the lite version a try and see it for yourself.
Visit theportablegamer.com to download this app and read reviews from other great games. is there a game you want us to look at, send an email to tpg@theportablegamer .com and we’ll get someone right on it.
Follow iCasual on Twitter and fan us on facebook. We inject tidbits of game news and even a contest or 2 all day that you won’t wont to miss out on. And lastly We need you – do you love play new games first, or maybe you just like to learn all the new juicy gossip and share it out to friends? Well we have openings for reviewers and news hounds, so come join the club. Until next time, Enjoy!
Developers Website: taptomic.com
iTunes Link: hitunes.apple.com/us/app/park-rush-hd/id376304046?mt=8
Portable Link: theportablegamer.com/app/376304046
Lite Version: Yes
age appropriateness: all ages
Promo Code supplied by developer
Bruce Baker on Traveling Only with an iPhone
Notational Velocity: http://notational.net/
iBlogger link: http://illuminex.com/iBlogger/index.html
Meebo link: http://www.meebo.com/products/
Hi Allison, This is Bruce Baker from BecomingMature.org with a tip on how to lose 15lbs of ugly fat in two days the Oprah way. OK, maybe that was a bit over the top. But you can *carry* less weight on your next business trip if you’d like. Ever diligent to follow the rules, I begin with some problems to be solved.
Problem #1 Taking a laptop with you on an airplane is just impractical. Because unless you’re flying first class, your an avid runner or possibly an elf, there just isn’t enough room to open your 15″ Macbook Pro on the little tray table. This is true even if the person in front of you don’t lean the seat back.
Problem #2 If your flying internationally, new weight restrictions for carry-ons (yes carry-ons) makes taking your laptop on the plane even more difficult. Because you can’t just take your laptop, you have to take the power adapter, extra hard drive, and assorted cables just to be safe.
Problem #3 Some places you just don’t want to take your laptop. If your in a remote area or a third-world nation, the odds of your laptop being a) stolen, b) broken or c) getting so clogged with dirt that it begins acting like a composter go up considerably.
Problem #4 You can’t afford an iPad.
So what to do. Well, you could just listen to podcasts on the plane and resign yourself to no meaningful work. You could game the system and make sure your carry-on is under 15 lbs (yes they did weigh it on Ethiopian airlines, thank you very much) while jamming as much stuff as possible in your “personal” bag (in my case my backpack and Scottevest—my solution of choice on my last trip). You could get a Kensington security cable and never take your laptop out of your hotel room (a strategy also used on my last trip). But none of these solutions is what you’d call ideal. So here is another.
Take just your iPhone and a bluetooth Keyboard, like the Apple Aluminum keyboard (or Aluminium Keyboard as Don McAlister would say). With the right strategies and software, this is a surprisingly good idea. And you don’t need an new iPhone 4 for this to work either. My real-world test platform is a 3GS with an external battery case and the Aluminum keyboard. Everything I suggest here has been tested in the wild.
So let’s get started. When you travel via plane, you are required to turn off the phone feature of the iPhone. This involves going into settings and turning on “Airplane Mode.” Airplane Mode turns off not only the radio, but also the wi-fi and the bluetooth functions. So in order to use your keyboard, after you put your phone into airplane mode, you need to stay in settings, select “general” then “bluetooth” and switch it back on. I don’t know if this is technically within the rules or not, but I’ve never done this and had the plane suddenly lurch to the left and begin careening toward the plant……that I recall. At any rate, I’ve never been called on using my phone in this way so I guess it’s ok.
Ideally you will have paired your keyboard with your phone prior to getting on the plane, but if not it’s relatively easy to do. Press and hold the “on” switch on the keyboard and simply walk through the pairing process. It’s really self explanatory.
Now suppose the flight attendant takes this moment to bring you the sumptuous meal provided by the airline. So you decide to put the iPhone back in your pocket and the keyboard away. This next step is vital so listen closely: Turn off the bluetooth keyboard!! If you don’t the buttons will continually be pushed as it’s jostled around keeping your iPhone one, screen lit, and it will drain your battery quicker than a bugati veryon. Not only do you have to turn off the keyboard, you must must must turn off the bluetooth on your phone. Not only will this extend your battery life but it will stop another battery drainer. I like the stuff Jonny Ives makes. They’re elegant, smooth, pleasing to the eye. But just once I wish I could grab him by the collar and shout “What don’t you put a switch on the keyboard that will stay off? Ok, cleansing breath, in through the nose, out through the mouth. I’m better now. But the fact is, the button on the keyboard is easily turned on when it is crammed into a backpack or bag. And when it turns on, it wakes your phone and drains your battery. This had to happen several times to me before I learned my lesson. Turn off the bluetooth on the phone and you’ve nothing to worry about.
Ok, so you’ve consumed the edible parts of the meal and your ready to go to work. You break out the iphone and keyboard, ensure that the bluetooth on the phone is enabled and the keyboard is on. What can you do?
Well, if you want to write something, anything, a shopping list, the next pulitzer prize winning novel, the technical specifications of a proposed 30,000 seat croquet stadium, anything really, you want to use Simplenote. Simplenote is a free (yes free) app that allows you to take notes and sync them to your desktop, browser, or phone. You simply create an account and simplenote does the rest. Simplenote backs your notes to the cloud automatically and securely. When internet access isn’t available, it simply waits till it is for the backup. You keep working. After the sync, which is super quick since it’s just text, you can edit the note on your iMac, Macbook Pro, iPhone, or handy but inferior Windows box through the browser. It’s really that simple. That’s why it’s called Simplenote.
When you combine Simplenote with the open source application Notational Velocity on your computer, you have a great combination. For Notational Velocity (also free) syncs with Simplenote. So I use Notational Velocity (available at notational.net) on my laptop and simplenote on my iPhone, and they act seamlessly together.
You’ve completed your plans for the croquet stadium and now you want to brag about it. You can, of course, use your Twitter client and Facebook app without the keyboard, but why would you want to. I’ve yet to find a place where text can be entered on an iPhone where the keyboard doesn’t work. And once you’ve used the keyboard, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. But wait, we’re still on the plane. How do you Twitter on the plane without internet connection? Try Birdhouse. It’s $1.99 from the app store and it allows you to save tweets as drafts and publish them later. So you don’t have to rely on your memory to express your thoughts about the airline sweet and sour roast beef to the world.
But tweeting just isn’t enough, is it. You really want to vent about this meal on your blog. Can you do that from your iPhone? Absolutely. I use Squarespace for my web hosting needs, and while they are a great company with a fine app for statistics and comment management, it’s weak on the blog posting side. After trying a number of apps, I settled on iBlogger. iBlogger is a little more expensive at $9.99, but if you want to blog from your iPhone, it’s worth every penny. With iBlogger you can compose entries offline for later posting. You can post to multiple blogs with different accounts if you like. It works with nearly any blogging platform you can think up. And, here was the clincher for me, it’s not buggy. Some of the clients I tried cramped up with I tried to post a picture. Others didn’t have a way to make text links, which is vital in my humble yet correct opinion, to any blog. I’ll admit making a text link with IBlogger is a bit clunky. You have to leave the editing window and got to the main window to make the link. Then back to the editing window where the new link is automatically at the bottom of the page. Still, it’s possible, and after a couple of times, it doesn’t seem that bad.
So now the plane’s landed. You turn on wi-fi (but remain in airplane mode if your overseas) and post your blog, tweets, and facebook status. But look, your connecting flight has been delayed. With the time difference, you won’t have time to chat with your wife later. No problem. You download the free app Meebo, enter your chat settings and start typing. Meebo gives you a full chat history, it syncs with your desktop, and has push notifications. I like to use it in landscape mode when I’m typing. You can have as many chats going at the same time as you like.
so to recap, we’ve been able to write plain text which syncs to your desktop, tweet, update status on facebook, blog and chat all on the iphone for a measly $11.98 in software. Not bad.
There is another intangible that should be mentions before I go. If you thought people were interested in your iPad, wait till you do this. My battery case hides the form factor of the iPhone a great deal. As a result, I’ve never seen so many people approach my table wide-eyed asking, “Is that your computer?” It was great fun.
In fairness there are a couple of downsides to taking just your iPhone. If you want to take pictures and post them now with a regular camera, you’re out of luck. Same with video from a separate camera. And there is no way of which I’m aware to hook the iPhone to an ethernet cable. So if you find yourself in the Addis Ababa International Airport (where there is no wi-fi anywhere–trust me I know this), then you’re out of luck. sorta. You can always pay 5 American dollars for an hour on a slow windows box with reasonable internet speeds and do what you need through a browser. So even in this situation, your not completely hosed. Although it may feel like it when you sit down at the grimy box and navigate through the soviet era windows software. (OK, XP isn’t technically soviet era, but it feels like it.)
So depending on your needs, the iPhone can act like an iPad mini. You can turn heads while you write, blog, tweet, chat, and facebook easily. give it a try. I think you’ll be surprised how well this works. Oh, and Allison. I *stlll* think your awesome, just awesome. REally you’re just AWESOME
Bruce – this was a long review but so darn entertaining I had to play the whole thing! I am fascinated that you were able to put all this together just using an iPhone! I was listening to The Tech Doctor podcast this week (http://www.dr-carter.com/ this week and he and Anna Dresner were talking about an advantage they have being blind. Since they use Voiceover all the time on their iDevices, they can use a keyboard with the iPhone (or iPad) and actually navigate the screens quickly without having to take their hands off the keyboard to poke at the screen with their finger! They throw in a bluetooth headphone and they can do what you do but even faster. Might be worth learning Voiceover to try it out. Thanks again for sending, fantastic job on the review, love your style, and I PROMISE not to call you a spammer ever again in Twitter.
Lindsay came up this weekend to have her Honda given the once over by Honda Bob. She needed her brake pads replaced, and while just about anyone could do an adequate job of that, she knew that with Honda Bob he’d make sure the right work was done, genuine Honda parts were used, and he would be truthful with her on why her air conditioning smelled funny. (He replaced the filters and it’s sweet smelling once again). If you live in the LA or Orange County areas, and you drive a Honda or an Acura, give Honda Bob a call at (562)531-2321 or send him an email at email@example.com. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
- Reminder – last Tuesday was patch Tuesday – http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms10-sep.mspx
- Apple releases QuickTime 7.6.8 to address a vulnerability we discussed a few weeks ago –http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4339
- Adobe release details of a major 0-day exploit against Flash, Acrobat & Reader. Adobe are reporting active exploits against Flash in the wild, but not yet against Reader or Acrobat. http://www.adobe.com/support/security/advisories/apsa10-03.html (somehow Chrome have managed to patch this issue so you can protect yourself by using Chrome 6.0.472.62 or later). Only fix for Flash right now is to block it with one of the following tools (which alloy you to play Flash at YOUR option, no auto play)
- Click to Flash for Safari:clicktoflash.com/
- Flashblock for Firefox: addons.mozilla.org
- Flashblock for Chrome: chromeextensions.org
- Adblock for Firefox: addons.mozilla.org
- NoScript for Firefox: noscript.net
Main Topic – The Apple App Store Update – and Beyond
- We talked before about the serious problems with the app store, and particularly the review process which was capricious and opaque. Bart wanted to see two things 1) the guideline Apple used internally made public, and 2) a pre-approval process
- We also talked about Apple changing the rules for iOS4 and not letting apps not compiled through XCode into the store – Bart postulated possible technical reasons for this, as well as the obvious “skrew-you Adobe” reasons in the press
- The week before last there were big changes from Apple – four key points: 1) the guidelines were published, 2) the ban on non-XCode-code was lifted 3) the ban on ad tracking from Apple competitors is gone, and 4) there is now an appeals board to appeal app rejections to
- This has made a lot of people very happy 1) Adobe are reviving the Flash to iPhone compiler 2) Google are delighted that they can use AdMob on iOS again, and 3) developers are delighted to finally see how Apple judge apps
- It’s not all good news though – for a start, still no pre-approval process, so no way to find out of you’re on to a loser without committing massive resources first, at least if you are pushing the envelope.
- Finally – is it good for users that we can get crap flash apps pushed at us?
The Android World:
- Google’s Android Market Place is a long long way behind Apple’s App Store, especially outside the US. Very few countries where you can buy apps. All Irish people get on the Android store is the free stuff. Maybe this is what Google want? They are an ad company after all, maybe the idea is to get apps to be free, and paid for with Google ads. Bart sure as hell hopes not – that would be one sure way to ensure he never ever gets an Android – we are bombarded with quite enough ads as it is!
- The iTunes store seems to deal very well with phones and tablets – letting you search for apps for one or the other easily, and clearly marking apps that work on both with a ‘+’ – the Android store doesn’t seem to be ready for that yet.
- Verizon are setting up a new curated app store for Android – more questions than answers though – will their phones only support that store, or will they also allow the regular store? Will apps be allowed to be in both stores, or will Verizon insist on exclusivity? Depending on their answers this could be a great thing or a terrible thing.
- Android tabs are coming – but Android doesn’t seem ready for them, and an internal google report even comes to that same conclusion. The ‘third tier’ Android tabs which are here already don’t support a store, but the Galaxy is set to. Will the Android store be able to cope?
- Samsung Galaxy Tablet expected to be more than $1000 for 16GB and 7 inch screen:http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/09/samsung-galaxy-tab-will-cost-over-1000/
I was reading an article in Wired Magazine about the woman who created Flickr, Caterina Fake. She was talking about her love of games, and game night in particular. She explained that our parents (or grandparents in some cases) played bridge on Friday nights not because they were so enamored with the game necessarily, but because it was an excuse to gather and hang out with friends. I started comparing that to the live audience for this show, aka the Nosillacastaways, and I realized that’s exactly what it’s about. It’s not about listening to me or seeing my shining voice, or even watching me bork up my lines and have to recover, or finding out what beer I’ve chosen this week, it’s about hanging out together. it’s the community of friends with common interests and who enjoy each other’s company. If that sounds fun to you, come join us on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific Time, at podfeet.com/live. I promise everyone is very friendly, no one bites, no infighting, no flame wars, just good clean fun. That is until Kevin does a belly flop in the pool. Until then, send your Dumb Questions, and any other comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/podfeet. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.