Tag Archives: Mac

Nasty Competition: iPhone vs. Android

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

imageiPhone versus Android. The choice between the two smartphone platforms is as contentious as the battle between being a Mac or PC person. However, thanks to the war emerging between Apple and Google, the battle is not just heated — it’s just plain nasty.

It’s no secret Apple was displeased when Google entered the smartphone arena with army of Android phones and an app market, recently rebranded as Google Play. However, it shouldn’t have been a shock either.

Those who have a disdain for Apple products — and there are a lot of people on the planet who fit that description, despite the seeming ubiquity of iPhones — had as much right to inundate their smartphones with apps as iPhone users.

Although the Android app market is still small in comparison to Apple — 70,000 to 230,000 apps, respectively — the Android market is quickly gaining ground in the world of mobile application development. Incensing Apple even further, many Android apps are free. Why pay $.99 for an app on an iPhone when you can get it for nothing on a Galaxy III?

As tech goliaths, Apple and Google have run into more than a few disputes. Remember when Instagram moved from iOS-only to Android? Apple recently unveiled its new proprietary Maps application, designed to supplant Google’s ultra-popular-to-the-point-of-being-de-facto offering.

In a similar move, Apple is removing the YouTube app from its phones, effective with iOS6. This probably won’t be enough to make people chuck their iPhones, especially since the app hasn’t been recently updated, but it might make consumers on the fence choose an Android the next time their contract expires.

It’s hard to say if these differences will affect the populace in any more than a divisive capacity. Even when it comes to price, there isn’t much difference between the iPhone and Android phones. The iPhone 5 is priced at $199 with a contract, which is in the ballpark of the Galaxy and other mid- to upper-range smartphones. The decision may become clearer as the dust kicked up by the iPhone 5’s release begins to settle, even though it will be stirred up again with the next major smartphone release.

So, who’s going to emerge as the winner? As much as Apple and Google want to think they have the power to destroy each other through the end user, the bottom line is Apple people are Apple people and Android people are Android people. It’s really not much different than the Mac versus PC debate.

Sure, you do have people who cross over — some Mac people have Android phones and some PC users have iPhones — but for the most part, people are loyal to their brands. If Apple or Google want to crush each other, they’ll really have to do it without the help of the consumer. However, if they both continue to play nasty games, they make themselves ripe for a third player to emerge on the scene and take a share of both their markets away. I wonder if Linux plans to enter the cell phone market…

26 Comments

Filed under Android, Apple, Connected Devices, Google, Guest Writers, iPhone

Download Miro – An HD Open Source Internet TV Platform And So Much More

imageThere continues to be much discussion in Tech media circles, on the benefits of  getting rid of expensive Cable TV where prices seem to be skyrocketing (I just got another $2 a month bump this week), and focusing instead on the multiple alternatives which the Internet now supports.

Given that your computer screen is, in reality, a high-definition display, you can easily enjoy Internet sourced videos in HD full screen. Pretty neat – especially if you have a wide screen LCD display.

Miro (last updated August 16, 2011), is a free (open source), Internet TV platform and Video Player (and so much more), that can certainly even out your path in breaking your reliance on Cable TV – and, the costs that go with it. Miro, in fact, might well be the perfect tool to help with your transition.

In my view, Miro is one of the most underappreciated open source applications available on the Internet. It never fails to amaze me how less deserving “media players”, which are often hyped to the max, can generate more downloads than this superb application.

Not only can Miro play virtually any video in HD, including, QuickTime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, and XVID, but on top of that this application, which sports major changes from previous editions, is effectively a media management center.  I must admit, I was more than a little surprised at how effective Miro is in this role.

For example, the application quickly, smoothly, and effectively, located my music files after prompting me to select a search path. Playback controls are typical and playlists are easily created.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

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The core of the program however, is the well designed video features including built-in Torrent download capabilities.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

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In the following example I downloaded a 1.4 GB movie using the Torrent client. The test torrent download  took full advantage of my Internet settings – 1.7 MB per second.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

Playback of the downloaded file was a bit of a treat really. Definitely HD; smooth; quality sound.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

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Additional features include the ability to sync media to multiple devices –  including Android phones and tablets. Better yet, Miro will even convert video files to the right format to play on your phone.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

Getting the application just right to meet your specific needs, using the Settings menu is straightforward and uncomplicated.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

Fast facts:

Works with your current music library – It’s very easy to switch from iTunes to Miro– without any copying. Just point Miro to your music and video folders and those files will appear. If you don’t like Miro (impossible!), nothing’s changed.

Converts and syncs to Android – You’d have to be crazy to use a music player that doesn’t sync to your phone. Miro is simply the best music and video player for Android phones and tablets.

Download and play almost any video – Do you still use separate programs to download, play music, play videos, and sync to your phone? Miro plays almost any video or music format and downloads from YouTube, podcasts, Amazon, and bittorrent.

Convert any video – You can convert almost any video with Miro into mp4/h264, with presets for almost any device you can think of (including iPhones, iPods, iPads, Android phones, and more).

Share Your Media on your Network – When two Miro’s are on the same Wi-Fi network, they can stream and transfer music and videos to each other. It’s the easiest way to watch a video or play music upstairs if the file is downstairs.

Ultra-fast torrent downloading – Miro has some of the fastest bittorrent downloading in the world, built in. Try us head-to-head with any bittorrent application!

Open-source – don’t lock yourself in – Unlike some other media players, Miro is not trying to run your life. Not only is Miro 100% free and open-source, it’s made by a non-profit organization. You don’t need to be locked down by one corporation to have a great media experience.

Buy Music and Apps inside Miro – The Amazon MP3 store is built-in to Miro. Buy, download, and listen, seamlessly. Buy Android apps from the Amazon or Google app stores and they will sync to your device.

There are many more features in Miro that can be quickly covered in a short review. I haven’t, for example, covered the easy way to stream and share music and video on your local/home network, using Miro. Checkout the publisher’s features page.

This program continues to receive high praise from video geeks, and it’s worth considering as an addition to your entertainment applications.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP, Mac, Linux. (I have not tested this application in 64 bit – but, I understand 64 bit support is available).

Download at: Miro

User Manual for Miro 4.0 (last updated June 30, 2011), available here.

A caveat: During the install process, pay particular attention so that you don’t install items you may not want (Yahoo Toolbar/homepage) .

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4 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Internet TV, Linux, Mac OS X, Media Players, Multimedia Tools, Open Source, Software, Video Apps, Windows Tips and Tools

Boxee – The Open Source Software, Not The Box

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I don’t watch much TV. No, that’s not some kind of elitist remark – you know, the type of comment thrown about by some who consider themselves a step above the rest. From my perspective, television actually sucks.

I’m tired of the fact that the History Channel rarely runs anything that’s remotely concerned with history. I’m tired of the fact that the Learning Channel long ago stopped pretending “learning” had anything to do with its mandate. And, that’s the short list.

Not only is television a vast wasteland, it’s become a toxic dump where morons like Charlie Sheen, and other emotionally unwell idiot actors (I’m trying to be kind here), set the standards for what supposedly passes for real life. It’s definitely not where my head is at.

Thankfully, the Internet with it’s virtually unlimited selection of educational, informational, and entertainment packages to choose from, helps to fill the “wasteland” gap admirably.

Generally, I find myself watching Internet entertainment on my wide screen LCD display, which is in reality, a high-definition display. Sitting at my desk however, is not quite as comfortable as I’d like – so for months, I’ve been on the hunt for a free application which will seamlessly connect Internet output to my television. Gotta sit in that easy chair – don’t ya know.

I think I’ve finally found it in Boxee. Boxee is an open source social-media application (Windows, Linux and Mac compatible), which allows users to stream content from both the Internet, and their personal home media, to a TV – from a simple package.

Step One:

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Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Step Two:

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Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Step Three:

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Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Firing up the application:

On first launch, you will have to set up an account and sign in. Here’s why, according to the developer –

Boxee is meant to be social – not just with friends online, but also with people in your house. With this in mind we designed Boxee with multiple user accounts so that your social network, favorite TV shows and apps remain personalized and accessible only to you.

OK, that sounds sensible.

All of the following screen captures can be expanded to their original size by clicking.

The interface could do with a “facelift” – if you’ll pardon the expression. Nevertheless, it’s relatively functional, straight forward, and simple to use.

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Changing the settings is fairly simple, and the user can easily customize the application to meet specific needs.

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Adding apps to the application couldn’t be easier, and it expands the range of possibilities dramatically. The apps (for my purposes), are a lifesaver.

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In the following illustration, I’ve clicked on the installed CNET app.

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The video output from CNET (screen shot from my Monitor), really is 1080 HD. Crystal clear.

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The CineTrailer app (installed for this test), is illustrated below.

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Screen capture (in 1080 HD), from the Green Lantern trailer. Impressive.

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Shakira video running through the YouTube app. Love Shakira!

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Since I missed the national news last night, I added the CBC News app in order to catch up.

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Screen shot from the news showing the turmoil of the Vancouver riot.

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A very handy File Browser is part of the package.

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System requirements: Windows, Mac, Linux

Download at: Boxee

So that you can get the best out of this free software, I recommend that you checkout the Boxee Software User Guide.

Perhaps the most important Boxee software question – are there monthly fees to use Boxee?

Boxee does not charge you any monthly fees, but some premium applications accessible through Boxee require a fee.

I’ve been using Boxee for only a few days (I haven’t run an HDMI cable yet – maybe this weekend), and I’m sure I have much more to discover – but, to this point I’m liking what I’m seeing.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

7 Comments

Filed under Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Interconnectivity, Internet Radio, Internet TV, Linux, Mac, Multimedia Tools, Software, Streaming Media Applications, Video Apps, Windows Tips and Tools

Download Miro HD Video Player – Sync Your Media To Multiple Devices And A Whole Lot More!

imageThere’s been much discussion lately, in Tech media circles, on the benefits of  getting rid of expensive Cable TV, where prices seem to be skyrocketing, and focusing instead on the multiple alternatives which the Internet now provides.

Given that your computer screen is, in reality, a high-definition display, you can easily enjoy Internet sourced videos in HD full screen. Pretty neat – especially if you have a wide screen LCD display.

Miro (last updated May 20th, 2011), is a free (open source), Internet TV platform and Video Player (and so much more), that can certainly even out your path in breaking your reliance on Cable TV – and, the costs that go with it. Miro, in fact, might well be the perfect tool to help with your transition.

Not only can Miro play virtually any video in HD, including, QuickTime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, and XVID, but on top of that this application, which sports major changes from previous editions, is effectively a media management center.  I must admit, I was more than a little surprised at how effective Miro is in this role.

For example, the application quickly, smoothly, and effectively, located my music files after prompting me to select a search path. Playback controls are typical and playlists are easily created.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

The core of the program however, is the well designed video features including built-in Torrent download capabilities.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

In the following example I downloaded a 1.4 GB movie using the Torrent client. The test torrent download  took full advantage of my Internet settings – 1.7 MB per second.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

Playback of the downloaded file was a bit of a treat really. Definitely HD; smooth; quality sound.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

Additional features include the ability to sync media to multiple devices –  including Android phones and tablets. Better yet, Miro will even convert video files to the right format to play on your phone.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

Getting the application just right to meet your specific needs, using the Settings menu is straightforward and uncomplicated.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

image

Fast facts:

Works with your current music library – It’s very easy to switch from iTunes to Miro– without any copying. Just point Miro to your music and video folders and those files will appear. If you don’t like Miro (impossible!), nothing’s changed.

Converts and syncs to Android – You’d have to be crazy to use a music player that doesn’t sync to your phone. Miro is simply the best music and video player for Android phones and tablets.

Download and play almost any video – Do you still use separate programs to download, play music, play videos, and sync to your phone? Miro plays almost any video or music format and downloads from YouTube, podcasts, Amazon, and bittorrent.

Convert any video – You can convert almost any video with Miro into mp4/h264, with presets for almost any device you can think of (including iPhones, iPods, iPads, Android phones, and more).

Share Your Media on your Network – When two Miro’s are on the same Wi-Fi network, they can stream and transfer music and videos to each other. It’s the easiest way to watch a video or play music upstairs if the file is downstairs.

Ultra-fast torrent downloading – Miro has some of the fastest bittorrent downloading in the world, built in. Try us head-to-head with any bittorrent application!

Open-source – don’t lock yourself in – Unlike some other media players, Miro is not trying to run your life. Not only is Miro 100% free and open-source, it’s made by a non-profit organization. You don’t need to be locked down by one corporation to have a great media experience.

Buy Music and Apps inside Miro – The Amazon MP3 store is built-in to Miro. Buy, download, and listen, seamlessly. Buy Android apps from the Amazon or Google app stores and they will sync to your device.

There are many more features in Miro that can be quickly covered in a short review. I haven’t, for example, covered the easy way to stream and share music and video on your local/home network, using Miro. Checkout the publisher’s features page.

This program continues to receive high praise from video geeks, and it’s worth considering as an addition to your entertainment applications.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP, Mac, Linux. (I have not tested this application in 64 bit – but, I understand 64 bit support is available).

Download at: Miro

User Manual for Miro 4.0 available here.

A caveat: During the install process, pay particular attention so that you don’t install items you may not want (Yahoo Toolbar/homepage) .

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under Connected Devices, Digital Media, downloads, Easy Computer Networking, File Sharing, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet TV, iPhone, Linux, Mac, Media Player Replacement, Media Players, Multimedia Tools, Release Candidate, Software, Ubuntu, Video Players, Video Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Firefox 4 Release Candidate Ready For Download (Windows, Mac and Linux)

Following a Beta cycle which seemed to last forever (8 months seems like forever) , Mozilla has released the (first? – only?), Firefox 4 Release Candidate. Since the first beta release, last July, Mozilla has dealt with and fixed, over 8000 bugs.

According to Mozilla, Release Candidate users can expect “general stability, performance, and compatibility improvements”.

From the Mozilla site:

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Mozilla Firefox 4 for Windows, Mac and Linux has exited the beta cycle and is now available as a release candidate in more than 70 languages. The millions of users testing Firefox 4 will be automatically updated to this version and will join our Mozilla QA team in validating the new features, enhanced performance and stability and HTML5 capabilities in Firefox 4.

Testers are encouraged to check out the Web O’ Wonder in order to see the future of the Web with cutting edge demos that showcase the incredible online experiences developers can now create. Developers can submit their own demos to the Mozilla Developer Network Demo Studio.

Thanks to our community of add-ons developers, more than 70 percent of Firefox Add-ons are now compatible with Firefox 4. If your favorite add-on isn’t marked as compatible, you can help test it using the Firefox Add-ons Compatibility Reporter.

Note: Beta testers will be automatically updated.

Download at: Mozilla

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under Browsers, downloads, Firefox, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Microsoft Disparages OpenOffice – Validating OpenOffice As A Competitor

imageI’ve often wondered just how many users actually run a fully licensed version of Microsoft Office – one that they’ve paid for. I wonder, because Microsoft Office is so outrageously expensive.

Here in Canada, the Home and Student version goes for $160.00, with the Office Home and Business costing $350.00. At the top end, Office Professional 2010 will set you back a mind bending $670.00. (Sharp shoppers may be able to buy any version at a discounted price, however).

I will admit, that I run a licensed version of MS Office 2010 on one of my machines, and a licensed version of MS Office XP on another. But, I also run OpenOffice 3.2 on a Linux (Ubuntu 10.04) machine.

If you’ve been around computing for a while, then you’re probably aware that OpenOffice is the leading open-source (FREE) office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and …..

Since I now spend 70% of my computing time in Ubuntu, more and more I find myself using OpenOffice 3.2. While not a perfect replacement for MS Office, OpenOffice 3.2 more than meets my business needs. As well, OpenOffice offers me a big plus – it can read and write files from other common office software packages, including Microsoft Word.

I’m not going to write a review on OpenOffice 3.2 today, in an attempt to convince you that this free office suite can effectively go head-to-head with MS Office (I’ve recommended O.O. here, numerous times) – I’ll let Microsoft do the convincing.

Most of us are pretty familiar with negative political ads. You know the type – the candidates disparage each others accomplishments, experience, ability, fitness for the job, and on and on.

Microsoft has taken a page from this playbook, and has recently begun a campaign to tear down OpenOffice by focusing on what Microsoft considers to be the downside of working with OpenOffice. Watch the following YouTube video then you be the judge.

While watching this video, keep in mind that it is sound business practice to go after only those who are considered competition – why waste time on those who can’t hurt your sales.

Obviously then, Microsoft now considers OpenOffice to be a threat to their core MS Office product line. If OpenOffice wasn’t every bit as good as most observers consider it to be, it seems to me Microsoft wouldn’t be making any effort to convince consumers otherwise. They would simply ignore OpenOffice.

But no, they see the threat and are reacting to it.

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OpenOffice is available for the following operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux, and others.

To learn more about this outstanding open source Office Suite, go here.

There is some discussion at the moment as to whether Oracle will continue to support OpenOffice, but according to an Oracle statement dated October 13, 2010, it appears that they will.

Oracle’s growing team of developers, QA engineers, and user experience personnel will continue developing, improving, and supporting OpenOffice.org as open source, building on the 7.5 million lines of code already contributed to the community.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

14 Comments

Filed under downloads, Free Office Suites, Free Word Processors, Freeware, Linux, Mac, MS Word Alternatives, Open Office, Open Source, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Software Giveaway – iPhone Video Converter, available for FREE from 13th July, 2010 to 26th July, 2010

iSkysoft Studio let me know the other day, that their iPhone Video Converter is being offered for free, from 13th July, 2010, to 26th July , 2010.

I have not tested this application, and the following information has been provided by iSkysoft Studio.

iSkysoft iPhone Video Converter converts all popular video and audio formats such as AVI, MPEG, MOV, OGG, WAV to iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4 supported formats including MP4, MP3, etc.

It provides a series of practical settings such as video crop, file trim, video brightness, contrast and saturation, and merging multiple files into one output file.

There are Mac and Windows version, both free.

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Key features for iSkysoft iPhone Video Converter:

Convert video such as M2TS/MTS, MOD, TOD, AVI, MKV, WMV and audio for playback on iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, etc.

It supports new iPhone 4.

Extract audio to iPhone audio like MP3, AAC, WAV for playback on your iPhone and other portable players.

Crop away black borders of the movie and watch it in full screen.

Trim the length of any title or chapter to get video or audio clips you need and convert the specific segment you like.

You can get your favorite lines or episodes and save them in MP3 format for your iPhone as ringtones.

Merge several video clips to one output file so that you can enjoy a long video without interruption.

Note: You can’t get free upgrade and technical support.

You can checkout this free offer at the developer’s site here (Mac), or here (Windows).

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

3 Comments

Filed under Apple, Cell Phone Apps, downloads, Free Full Versions, Freeware, iPod touch, Mac, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Software, Software Giveaways, Video Tools, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP