January 6, 2017
The Apple Store on 5th Ave and 59th Street is moving to the former FAO Schwartz site (which is on the same block) while the underground store gets renovated. First day in the new temporary location is January 20th. No word on how long the renovations will take — or on what is being changed!
(Photo from Apple’s website.)
September 14, 2016
The new iPhone 7 announced by Apple doesn’t have a headphone port, as we all know. You’re supposed to plug your headphones into the Lightning port. (Unless you want to pay an exorbitant amount for the wireless headphones…)
So what happens if you want to charge your phone AND listen to music at the same time?
Luckily Belkin has come up with an adapter that has 2 Lightning ports. So you can do both. It’s called the Rockstar and will cost $40 when it’s available, which they say is “soon.”
September 9, 2016
Apple’s new AirPods are a wireless version of their Earpods, meaning they’re two independent little things that hang in your ears with no cord. It would be easier than easy to lose one or both of them.
One of their features is that they are self-configuring, via iCloud, rather than having to much around with Bluetooth pairing. And they’re always communicating with your phone. So you know what they should have? Find My AirPods, just like Find My iPhone. 99% of the time you’re going to lose them in the bottom of a bag or somewhere in your home. Even if they’re out of juice, if it could show you where they were known to be last.
For all I know, Apple thought of this and we’ll find out that feature exists when the AirPods ship. We can hope, because they’re tiny, and $159.
July 21, 2016
An Apple store is set to open in Williamsburg — the first one in Brooklyn. It opens at 10 am on July 30th.
The location is 247 Bedford Avenue, at the corner of North 3rd Street, just 4 blocks from the Bedford Avenue L train stop. It’s across the street from the new Whole Foods. So Williamsburg is getting all the chain stores like everywhere else…
June 15, 2016
If you read the business or tech pages, you know that Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26 billion this week. Here are some highlights from around the web on why this was a good or bad idea.
Now I don’t know a lot about high finance and running mega-corporations but I can’t think of anything that could possibly be worth $27 billion, other than ending world hunger, curing life-threatening disease, or bringing about world peace….All it can do is raise the price of other tech companies, thus expanding the tech bubble we are likely already in.
Wall Street Journal: Why Microsoft Bought LinkedIn
Author Christopher Mims thinks this purchase was a positive move for Microsoft, because Microsoft is all about online use of work productivity apps (PowerPoint, Word, Excel), so combining data from LinkedIn with data from use of those online apps can provide some powerful numbers to help them grow their business. It may also help them do better with CRM (customer relationship management) offerings, as right now they have l0w market share in that area.
Engadget: Why Microsoft Is the Best Home for LinkedIn
Devindra Hardawar agrees that Microsoft can take full advantage of all the data owned by LinkedIn to make its CRM offering more appealing. Also, Satya Nadella may be smarter than his predecessors and thus able to take better advantage of acquisitions than previous Microsoft CEOs have done.
Forbes: This Is the Real Reason Microsoft Bought LinkedIn
Grant Feller sees the acquisition as a positive move, saying, “Microsoft has just bought one of the world’s most influential, specialised, highly read, constantly-updated (and, it must be said, occasionally annoying) digital media companies around.”
Fast Company: Why Microsoft Buying LinkedIn for $26B Is a Smart Move
Ruth Reader says, “Software as a service is traditionally Microsoft’s strong suit. The LinkedIn acquisition is just the latest tool in a robust palette of office software, including Office 365, Yammer, Skype, and the calendar app Sunrise.”
Ars Technica: I’ve slept on it—and I’m still baffled at Microsoft buying LinkedIn for $26.2B
Peter Bright mentions that recent purchases by Microsoft (notably Nokia in 2014 for $6 billion) have been disasters, so why will this one be any different? And why will connecting LinkedIn to, say, Outlook really be of use to most people?
The New Yorker: Why Microsoft Wanted LinkedIn
Vauhini Vara says that Microsoft wanted LinkedIn to improve its cloud services — for example, users of Outlook or Skype could collect data about their contacts right in the same window — but is skeptical that Microsoft will be able to carry it out.
The Economist: Making Sense of Microsoft’s Acquisition of LinkedIn
“The deal’s rationale looks questionable.” It sees 3 main drawbacks: 1) It overpaid ($250 per monthly user, supposedly); 2) Microsoft’s bad track record buying big companies; and 3) “companies are unlikely to want to give their employees more of an excuse to spend time on social media.”
December 11, 2015
If you want to buy a tech or geek present for the kid in your life, here are our top 5 websites specializing in tech gifts.
These kits of “electronic building blocks” let kids create their own robots, musical instruments, and remote controllers.
Toys with sophisticated tech inside. Artificial intelligence cars, a Miposaur dinosaur that responds to hand signals, or a Karma Kitty that’s the modern version of a Magic 8 Ball.
Lots of weird toys, many of which are promo tie-ins to big franchises (Star Wars, Dr Who, Minions, and so on). Like this Darth Vader Lightsaber…
More educational, lots of kits (robot kits, soldering kits, build your own Tesla coil…). From the folks who do Make magazine, which would also be an excellent present.
It’s a subscription, so your child will receive a different package each month, each one providing a learning experience.
November 13, 2015
There’s a lot of hype about the new generation Apple TV, and I’ll be taking a closer look at that soon.
However, while I was sitting around waiting for Apple to up their game — the previous Apple TV was certainly long in the tooth — I tried out a Roku, and I love it.
Roku was an early pioneer in providing internet video on TV — they’ve been around a while. A Roku is, in fact, a lot like an Apple TV. It’s a small puck, or stick, that connects to an open HDMI port on your TV, and provides you with content that streams over the internet.
Since Roku doesn’t actually provide their own content, unlike their competitors Apple, Amazon, and Google who all make similar devices, it’s fairly agnostic as to what you watch and how. Its whole reason for being is to provide access to as many internet video sources as possible, which they call “channels.” For many people, that may not really amount to much more than the big players: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO Go, etc.
However, because Roku has long followed the “app” model that the new Apple TV is introducing only now, their box is open for anyone who wants to make a channel for it, from large companies to a single person. This means that all kinds of specialty niches are available, such as Cafe Noir (for fans of intriguing old movies). Some channels are actually “live” rather than “on demand” like traditional TV channels, such as Bizarre TV, for those of us with a taste for trashy horror movies from our childhood.
Some Roku channels are subscription, some are a la carte, some are ad-supported, some are just free (or included with cable service, if you haven’t cut the cord). There are also private channels, which you can find out about from sources such as RokuGuide.
One notable channel for New Yorkers, and which I use a lot, is Time Warner Cable. Their Roku channel allows you to watch many live cable channels, just as your cable box does, as well as a ton of on-demand content (which is great for those of us with TiVo’s, which don’t support TWC On-Demand). And, in a brand-new pilot program in NYC, Time Warner is offering their Roku channel as an outright replacement for needing a cable box at all. (The future moves quickly.)
Setting up the Roku is easy, once you choose a model. There’s the Roku 1, 2, 3, and 4, plus the Streaming Stick. The Stick ($49) looks like a large flash drive which sticks out of your TV’s HDMI port. The big downside is that you still need to provide it with power, meaning an additional cable, but some TV’s have USB ports, and you can use those rather than plugging a cord into the wall. (The Stick a handy thing for hotels, but don’t forget the remote and power cord, and to take everything when you leave.) As for the other models, even the Roku 1 ($49) is totally adequate, and also supports old TV’s that don’t have HDMI ports. The Roku 2 ($69) is a faster performer, the Roku 3 ($99) offers a remote with a headphone jack and voice search a la Siri, and the Roku 4 ($129) is something most people won’t need today, but may in few years when Ultra High Definition TV’s become commonplace.
If all you want is cheap access to the popular content providers, you might also consider the Amazon Fire Stick, which is only $39. It doesn’t have all the same content Roku does, but you may not care. I haven’t actually tried it out, but my brother loves his. (However, I don’t recommend the Google Chromecast for Apple-centric people.)
One thing the Roku does not have compared with the Apple TV is AirPlay and iTunes Store content. I haven’t missed those, really, since most of what I used AirPlay for was Amazon Instant Video, which is available as a Roku channel; and I don’t buy much from the iTunes Store, as I prefer subscription services to a la carte video. With the new Apple TV’s new app capabilities, Amazon and Google could provide their content if they want to, but until they do, the Roku will still have a place on my TV cabinet.
November 11, 2015
One of Apple’s more unwelcome trends over the last few years is making Macs that are not upgradeable — they are as you buy them, and if you underestimated your storage needs — or a store employee did so while advising you — you often have no choice but to to sell what you’ve got and purchase a new machine with greater capacity, and go through the headache of migrating everything over (a service Apple charges $99 for if you don’t want to DIY).
Or, it may be that their highest-capacity option is still not enough for you, as is the case with me and my MacBook Air 11″, which tops out at 512 GB.
Fortunately, there are a couple of recent products that offer some alternatives to replacing the machine. I just purchased a SanDisk Ultra Fit 128 GB USB 3.0 flash drive. Its so small that it’s intended to be “plug-and-stay,” where it’s not a thumb drive to keep track of, it’s something that just becomes part of your computer, poking out of one of its USB ports. (See the photo above.) For $38 at Amazon, it’s a ridiculous bargain. I moved my virtual machines and some other large, seldom-used files to the drive — it’s quite fast. If I need that USB port, I can always remove it temporarily.
Now I have 100 GB free on my internal drive, and if I need more than that, I can always buy another one of these puppies for the other USB port. I can’t wait until they have a 256 GB model.
An interesting competing product — much more expensive, at $149 for 128 GB, and $399 for 256 GB — is the TarDisk, which fills the SD card slot of your Mac and creates a flush edge, nothing poking out. The intent is that you never remove it, and if you do, you may even have problems — it utilizes the Fusion Drive capability of OS X, normally reserved for desktop models, to make both your internal drive and the TarDisk appear to you as simply one large disk, so both need to always be present for your computer to operate properly. If I had a non-upgradeable Mac with an SD card slot, and I was out of space, I’d be all over this.
October 12, 2015
Check out all these pieces of software that make your Apple Mail more useful — on sale now through October 18th. And they all work under El Capitan!
Go to MailCapitan.com and use discount code MAILCAPITAN.
Here are the 10 sale items for Apple Mail we think are the most useful:
1. Take Control of Apple Mail: Created by our friends at Take Control Books, this ebook gives you the basics as well as the tips and tricks of Apple Mail.
2. Mail Act-On: Create rules for processing incoming and sent mail
3. MailTags: Organize messages with keywords and notes
4. SignatureProfiler: Create more customized email signatures
5. EverMail: Convert email into Evernote notes
6. CargoLifter: Allows you to send email attachments of any size
7. Graffiti: Design better-looking email signatures
8. SendLater: Allows you to schedule an email to be sent at a specific date and time
9. Mail Plugin Manager: Make it easy to enable and disable mail plugins
10. EagleFiler: Archives old emails
October 9, 2015
At the Maker Faire in Queens a few weekends ago, we learned about a company called Wire Care, which has hundreds of products for keeping your tech cables organized. They’re located in Lafayette, NJ, and everything can be mail ordered through their website.
A few of the items they have on offer:
- cable ties in lots of colors and materials
- magnetic fasteners, to guide a cable around any metal surface
- heat shrink tubing, to connect all your cables together into one attractive bundle
- cable clamps, in case you want to bunch cables together and then separate them later
- electrical outlets that rotate, so you can plug lots of bulky bricks into one outlet
Check them out if you’re looking for a way to hide, route, or bundle your computer cables!