Mr Apple and the iPad

Mr Cat noticed this morning that Mr Apple was showing off their brand new iPad – which looks like it is really just an iPhone with a bigger screen – although you sure as hell will look ridiculous with that thing stuck to your ear making a call.

There were millions of opinions out there today, however I stumbled on this hilarious little video on YouTube today on the new device:

Unfortunately Mad-TV has disabled embedding on this clip, so you have no choice by to watch it on YouTube. It is still worth while.

More than 512kbps Upload from Shaw would be nice…

I have been uploading a lot of video to our non-profit YouTube channel at work, and it has been excruciatingly slow going, primarily because my Shaw cable, high-speed Internet service (which gives me 12Mbps down according to most speed tests), only yields around 512kbps upload…

Why does Shaw restrict the upload channel to such a paltry size, with such relatively large download speed?

Recently I had a new Comcast service installed in Bellingham WA, also for my employer, and what a pleasure to discover on the same speed-test that it’s upload was restricted to 5Mbps. With the prevalence of services such as YouTube (who have just increased their file-size limit to 2GB, surely many Shaw customers are demanding a larger upload limit? Now doubt Shaw will offer some variation of the old story that some folks will abuse the greater upload limit. This is nonsense, as they have equipment to identify abusers and can just shut them down, as presumably to be labelled an abuser, you would be considered in violated of their acceptable terms of use (this is after all what the word means).

Having said all this, I have no idea what Telus and the like limit their upload channels to, so 512kbps may be common.

iPhone 3G and 3GS comes to Telus (and BCE).

Good news in my inbox this morning from one of my friends: iPhone 3G/S will be launched on Telus in November! Seems these rumours have been flying around for a while, but I found a press-release confirming that Telus had indeed signed an agreement with Apple to supply the iPhone. This is pretty significant news, as the iPhone is only available in a GSM/HSPA version and not a CDMA version, thus Telus are using it as a launch device on their brand new HSPA network, and therefore not only will this be a competitive source for the iPhone in Canada, but it will also mark the beginning of an alternate choice as for a GSM/UMTS network in Canada.

The iPhone 3GS:  Available on Telus in November!

The iPhone 3GS: Available on Telus in November!

Seems that Telus (and BCE) have indeed silently been deploying an HSPA network, and the launch device will be the new iPhone 3GS! Finally, competition to Rogers in the market, some choice will be great for the Canadian mobile consumer (and I am sure Telus will find their bottom line boosted through a slice of those roaming charges that Rogers have been getting from European operators – in fact, I would not be surprised if the slice is big enough to pay for their investment in the HSPA/LTE network).

Now is an ideal time to be rolling out access to this network, as having it available in time for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 when thousands of international travellers will decend on Canada and Vancouver, will prove highly lucrative to Telus in terms of roaming fees that they will be getting.

Ultimately, this is really good news for us Canadians, as finally we will have real competition in the market, and at the same time we will start to get access to decent devices (this iPhone is just the first).

You can register your interest in the iPhone with Telus at http://telusmobility.com/iphone (just pick your province and you will be taken to a registration form).

I am pretty sure that this is the face of things to come, and that soon we will be getting more and more HSPA devices on the Telus network. I would love to know what Telus’ plans are with their Qualcom CDMA network?

At last, BlackBerry Desktop for OSX is around the corner

Today, on the BlackBerry blog, I noticed that V1.0 of the BlackBerry Desktop for OSX is now just around the corner. Since I am both a Mac enthusiast, and someone who thinks that BlackBerry is something without which human life will cease (thus solving global warming instantly), I have been eagerly keeping watch for news on this piece of software since I first read about it on RIM’s blog back in July, with it’s enviable list of features, including the ability to Sync your iTunes® playlists, calendars, contacts, notes and tasks — features that had ’till now only been available in the Windows version of Desktop Manager.

Today (September 23rd), I noticed that RIM have written another update about their new OSX version of BlackBerry Desktop, this time using the phrase “around the corner”, which I take to mean imminent as the expected release date, however this new post gives a glimpse to this version of the software, and it looks awesome.

A feature that I will find useful, is the ability to sync with multiple computers, which although slower is something I would use all the time, given that I have computers both at home and work. I am also pleased by the way it will allow me to select to sync with either my Bold’s internal storage or with the flash-card that I have in the device. Then, something RIM have included that struck me as such an obvious feature, yet not even Itunes® has it, is the ability to delete all music that you have synchronized with BlackBerry Desktop Manager to the device. For a flash-based device, this allows you to quickly cycle through parts of your music collection. A feature that would be very useful in Itunes to those who own iPod Nanos.

Let’s hope that we will soon be able to get this great application and make our favourite handheld work with our favourite operating system.

Rogers HSPA+ @ 21Mbps available today…

This morning I stumbled upon this press release that Rogers put out, announcing that they have launched their 21Mbps HSPA+ network. This is would be a first in North America, and I cannot find any handsets that will currently support this sort of speed, so really your only option to take advantage of this, would be to buy their new Rocket Mobile Internet Stick, which retails for around $74.99 on a contract according to the release.

Understandably, the service is initially only available in the major centers of Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal according to the release. I am pretty sure that Rogers will roll this out to other areas based on demand.

To me this is a clear sign that Rogers are definitly wanting to compete in the broadband Internet Service provider market, and I imagine that they are thinking that they have a cachet with their service being based on a cellular network, and therefore has the attraction of being available anywhere one may travel. Interestingly, Rogers also has a broadband Internet service based on WiMax (802.16) in the 2.5GHz spectrum profile. I wonder if this will scavenge some customers from their WiMax service, or if they will end up with a bundle that includes WiMax as well as HSPA+ for those times when you are away from home? The latter may make them more attractive than other ISPs, particularly if they keep the pricing competive and refrain from their usual 3-year contract approach to the hardware.

If you want to find out more head on over to http://www.rogers.com/fastest and check it out…

Snow Leopard – First Glimpses

OS X Snow Leopard

OS X Snow Leopard

My pre-order copy of Snow Leopard showed up at the local Apple Distributer here in BC just after 5pm on Friday. This morning, with some idle time, I slipped the disk into my iMac and, now, just over an hour later, I am writing this post on OS X 10.6.

As other reviewers have written, it is hard to tell that you have performed an operating system upgrade after the first boot. Even the introduction video is identical to 10.5. What was immediately apparent to me, and this is purely subjective, was that the operating system felt a tad more snappy than the older one on my 2.4GHz iMac that I use as my desktop machine. Windows seems to snap open and closed more eagerly. Wait times for applications opening seem to be a tad shorter.

Next, I opened Photoshop, Illustrator and In Design CS4 in turn, just to make sure that nothing was broken with them. Yep, all good here after a cursory inspection, so now with my major concerns out the way, it was time to try out what I really was after when I purchased Snow Leopard:

The new integration of Mail with Microsoft Exchange 2007! I am a huge Exchange fan, I love the service, however I have longed for that seamless Outlook like interface to Exchange from the Mac. Entourage, to me, has always been clunky – and then it sets you back a ton of money too, so after putting my Exchange credentials into Mail, I felt content as I watched Mail sucking in my e-mail, iCal came alive with my calendar and task items, and address book listed all my Exchange contacts and I was able to search the GAL from Address Book.

I sat back with a muffled sense of excitement, took a long slurp on my now slightly cool Tim Horton’s double double coffee and was well pleased.

For the $35 CAD ($28 US) this upgrade had set me back, just this single feature made it all worth while!

Barracuda/EmailReg.org pure opportunism?

Ok, I am little irritated as I write this. Over the last two days I have received the following rejection message from email that was sent out by one of my colleages, and delivered through one of my two Exim MTAs:

xxxxx@xxxx.xx.xx
SMTP error from remote mail server after RCPT TO:<xxxxx@xxxx.xx.xx>:
host xxxx.xxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx [xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx]: 554 Service unavailable; Client host [xxx.xxx.xxxxxxx.xxx] blocked using Barracuda Reputation; http://bbl.barracudacentral.com/q.cgi?ip=207.XXX.XXX.XXX

This surprised me, as the server in question is not an open relay, and we do all the obvious stuff, we publish SPF, SENDERID and we sign all our outbound messages with domain keys.

More ever, we do have a mailing list (with which we go to considerable lenths to ensure that is complies with the CAN-SPAM act), but that list we send to using Campaign Monitor (who by the way have an awesome product), so these MTAs are used purely to send mail that may be generated by our Exchange server and acknowledgments from our website when folks buy something from our shopping cart or make an online donation to support one of our programs.

Anyway, following the link to barracudacentral.com, and clearing their captcha protected lookup page — to ensure that I am indeed a human — I am presented with the information that this IP has a reputation of “poor” on the Barracuda Reputation System, and that I can request removal. It also goes on to say that Barracuda personally verifies all IP addresses that are marked as “poor” in the Barracuda Reputation System.

Sounds good so far right? I mean having to manually verify that you are indeed not a spammer, whilst not something I personally think is a really smart idea, is certainly not a new idea, and I guess it does work?

Just below that they however have this little brilliant little capitalistic masterpiece:

Many Barracuda Spam & Virus Firewalls are configured, as a policy, to automatically deliver email that comes from sources that are properly registered at EmailReg.org.

Sounds good, however EmailReg.ORG wants an “administration fee” for you to register your IPs with them. Now I am smelling a rat. So, who owns EmailReg.ORG.

[clementsm@ux1 ~]$ whois emailreg.org

Registrant ID:77b4c5687ae40560
Registrant Name:Whois Agent
Registrant Organization:Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc.
Registrant Street1:PMB 368, 14150 NE 20th St - F1
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Bellevue
Registrant State/Province:WA
Registrant Postal Code:98007
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.4252740657
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:tsbnwxhk@whoisprivacyprotect.com

Somebody has gone to considerable lenths to protect their identity, particularly when you are claiming to be a Good Guy, maintaining this universal list of Bad Guys, yet you yourself are hiding behind a veil of anonymity?

Lets turn to Google. Well, low and behold, seems from a multitude of reports that Barracuda are actually the guys behind EmailReg.ORG, so now I must ask “why do they try to hide their ownership of EmailReg.ORG”. Could it be the same reason why we humans usually try to hide or mislead others — because we know it is not above board?

What a brilliant way of drumming up some extra cash for your security organizaton. Have people register themselves on your service, and a couple of hours later, every one of your firewall devices magically starts to allow those IPs through…

Enhanced Gmail Plugin for BlackBerry’s

Of all the BlackBerry applications that RIM have been slowly creating there have been only two that I have waiting for with baited breath, the first was the Microsoft Live Messenger application (which was initially only available on T-Mobile, and actually had me considering getting a T-Mobile device), and now their Enhanced GMail Plugin for BlackBerry Devices, as the current native GMail integration through BIS left a lot to be desired.

(These screen-shots are from my BlackBerry bold and the new plugin)

New Menu showing starred items, labels and more...

New Menu showing starred items, labels and more...

Finally, on Sunday, RIM released this plugin. Installing the plugin is simple, and you can add it to your device by going to http://www.blackberry.com/gmail with your handheld browser, from where you can install it OTA. Once you have it installed, you need to add your GMail account to your device in BIS for the plugin to work properly, also your GMail integration must use IMAP rather than POP. If you have configured your GMail integration after March 2009 on BIS, it will use IMAP by default, if not, you would need to delete your GMail integration in BIS and re-add it — I had to do this, as I have been using the same GMail integration in my BIS for a number of years now (and, in fact, directly after adding my GMail account again, I received a PIN message telling me where I can download the plugin, so those of you who have never integrated your GMail account with your handheld will find this process particularly simple). Also, this plugin will only work with OS 4.5 and newer devices, so early Curve/Pearl users – update your firmware.

Additional Settings in the e-Mail Options Menu

Additional Settings in the e-Mail Options Menu

So far, I have discovered the following features in this plugin:

  • It groups conversations in a similar fashion to GMail on the web
  • You can report SPAM
  • You can archive messages
  • You can perform local and remote searches (I love this feature)
  • You can star or label messages on your BlackBerry device. According to RIM this is based on a one-way sync from the BlackBerry device to the GMail, thusly if you unstar something on the GMail web-interface that you starred on your BlackBerry that change will not be reflected on the device. I can live with that.
Message Screen showing a grouped conversation

Message Screen showing a grouped conversation

RIM have definitely produced a piece of software here that makes GMail on the native BlackBerry interface much more of a pleasure to use. The only changes that I would like to see, and I am sure they are already in the works, would be bi-directional sync of labels, stars and so on, otherwise superb.

OS-X Snow Leopard available on August 28!

OS X Snow Leopard

OS X Snow Leopard

Yesterday Apple announced on their website that Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6), the new version of OS-X will be available for pre-order today and for purchase on August 28th (earlier than initially announced), and that the upgrade will be priced at only $29 in the USA.

I am excited by this version, as it now runs all the large applications in 64 bit, and has improved multi-tasking support on multi-core processors. I am hoping that Apple may have been waiting for this version of the operating system prior to releasing a quad-core version of the iMac.

Furthermore, Apple mention that the new version, at around half the size of the current version, will free up to 7GB of disk space on an average system over previous versions. This would be a great thing for those with older MacBooks that have smaller hard-drives, such as my little over 2 year old MacBook Pro that only has a 100GB drive.

The Complete Apple Press Release is below for those who are interested in the details:

Apple to Ship Mac OS X Snow Leopard on August 28

CUPERTINO, California—August 24, 2009—Apple® today announced that Mac OS® X v10.6 Snow Leopard™ will go on sale Friday, August 28 at Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers, and that Apple’s online store is now accepting pre-orders. Snow Leopard builds on a decade of OS X innovation and success with hundreds of refinements, new core technologies and out of the box support for Microsoft Exchange. Snow Leopard will be available as an upgrade for Mac OS X Leopard® users for $29.

“Snow Leopard builds on our most successful operating system ever and we’re happy to get it to users earlier than expected,” said Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “For just $29, Leopard users get a smooth upgrade to the world’s most advanced operating system and the only system with built in Exchange support.”

To create Snow Leopard, Apple engineers refined 90 percent of the more than 1,000 projects that make up Mac OS X. Users will notice refinements including a more responsive Finder™; Mail that loads messages up to twice as fast;* Time Machine® with an up to 80 percent faster initial backup;* a Dock with Exposé® integration; QuickTime® X with a redesigned player that allows users to easily view, record, trim and share video; and a 64-bit version of Safari® 4 that is up to 50 percent** faster and resistant to crashes caused by plug-ins. Snow Leopard is half the size of the previous version and frees up to 7GB of drive space once installed.

For the first time, system applications including Finder, Mail, iCal®, iChat® and Safari are 64-bit and Snow Leopard’s support for 64-bit processors makes use of large amounts of RAM, increases performance and improves security while remaining compatible with 32-bit applications. Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) provides a revolutionary new way for software developers to write applications that take advantage of multicore processors. OpenCL, a C-based open standard, allows developers to tap the incredible power of the graphics processing unit for tasks that go beyond graphics.

Snow Leopard is the only desktop operating system with built in support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, and it allows you to use Mac OS X Mail, Address Book and iCal to send and receive email, create and respond to meeting invitations, and search and manage contacts with global address lists. Exchange information works seamlessly within Snow Leopard so users can also take advantage of OS X only features such as fast Spotlight® searches and Quick Look previews.

Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard, the next major release of the world’s easiest to use server operating system, will also go on sale Friday, August 28. Snow Leopard Server includes innovative new features such as Podcast Producer 2 and Mobile Access Server and is priced more affordably than ever at $499 with unlimited client licenses. More information and full system requirements for Snow Leopard Server can be found at www.apple.com/server/macosx/.

Pricing & Availability
Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard will be available as an upgrade to Mac OS X version 10.5 Leopard on August 28 at Apple’s retail stores and through Apple Authorized Resellers, and online pre-orders can be made through Apple’s online store (www.apple.com) starting today. The Snow Leopard single user license will be available for a suggested retail price of $29 (US) and the Snow Leopard Family Pack, a single household, five-user license, will be available for a suggested price of $49 (US). For Tiger® users with an Intel-based Mac®, the Mac Box Set includes Mac OS X Snow Leopard, iLife® ’09 and iWork® ’09 and will be available for a suggested price of $169 (US) and a Family Pack is available for a suggested price of $229 (US).

The Mac OS X Snow Leopard Up-to-Date upgrade package is available to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller between June 8, 2009 and the end of the program on December 26, 2009, for a product plus shipping and handling fee of $9.95 (US). Users must request their Up-to-Date upgrade within 90 days of purchase or by December 26, 2009, whichever comes first. For more information please visit www.apple.com/macosx/uptodate. Snow Leopard requires a minimum of 1GB of RAM and is designed to run on any Mac computer with an Intel processor. Full system requirements can be found at www.apple.com/macosx/specs.html.

*Testing conducted by Apple in August 2009 comparing prerelease Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard with shipping Mac OS X v10.5.8 Leopard on a shipping 2.0 GHz MacBook® system and a shipping 2.66 GHz iMac® system, both configured with 2GB of RAM. Performance will vary based on system configuration, network, file sizes, data sets and other factors.

**Testing conducted by Apple in August 2009 comparing 64-bit Safari 4 to 32-bit Safari 4 on prerelease Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard on a shipping 2.0 GHz MacBook system and a shipping 2.66 GHz iMac system, both configured with 2GB of RAM. JavaScript benchmarks based on the SunSpider Performance test. Performance will vary based on system configuration, network connection, and other factors.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.

You can find this press release in the press-release section on Apple’s website

More on Rogers’ US Roaming Add-On Plans

A few days back, I wrote a post lamenting the demise of the Fido 35¢ US roaming plan that one had with City Fido on Microcell, before they were acquired by Rogers after receiving a text from Rogers informing me that US roaming would now cost me $1.45 a minute, but that there were discount packages available to me that I could add onto my current plan for US Roaming. [Read more...]