I’m having a Bad Apple Day

You’d be surprised at how Apple’s integrated online services into its products…

I’m a T-Mobile USA customer living and working in Chicago, IL.  Earlier this week, Gigaom’s Kevin Fitchard reported on a seemingly nationwide, T-Mobile outage.  While no official statement has come out from the number four US-based carrier, both he and I seem to think that the brief service interruptions are due to the company’s network refarming and upgrades.  T-Mobile is in the process of moving its HSPA+ service from 1700mHz AWS to 1900mHz UMTS. Kevin put it very well, “…You can’t move that much hardware around without experiencing some problems…”

Kevin is right.

This morning I’m beside myself and I’ve got issues with my iPhone that can’t get resolved because I can’t get a 3G/4G signal through my T-Mobile Sonic 4G Mobile Hot Spot.  All I’ve got is EDGE (2G).

This is a problem for me, because I’m running iOS 6.0 Beta 2 on my iPhone 4S, and its misbehaving.  Specifically, regardless of whether or not you have songs stored on your iPhone, Music appears to want to play songs from iCloud.  Unfortunately, it seems to have issues playing any audio through iCloud.  Having a decent connection helps, but currently, in Beta 2, just because you’ve got a decent 3G/HSPA+/LTE signal, doesn’t mean the song will play.  It may… or it may not.  Currently, having the content on your iOS 6 powered iDevice just seems to confuse it.  It may not play the local content either.

I was able to determine that if you turn on Airplane mode (so all wireless radios  – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular – are turned off), local content can play without any issues…but who wants to go the whole time you’re listening to music with your cellular radio/phone turned off?

At times, I can coax the phone into playing content with the cell radio on by turning it on and off a few times and trying to play music. Today, that’s not working.  The recommended troubleshooting step to correct a misbehaving iDevice is to restore it from a backup and letting all of your content sync back over.

Did I mention that Apple requires an internet connection in order to make that happen..??  Yeah… iTunes requires an internet connection to repeatedly verify that the file you’re using to restore your iDevice with, is an actual, verifiable (literally…) Apple sanctioned and certified iDevice ROM. Verification of the image takes place EACH and EVERY time you restore your iDevice.

Which Cupertino-based Braniac thought THAT one up?

What happens when you don’t have internet access??  Well… THAT’S easy.  You don’t get to restore your iDevice, and it stays screwed up until you GET internet access.

That’s just awesome.

So without a reliable 3G/4G HSPA+ signal through my Sonic 4G Hotspot, I’m outta luck until I can get home LATE tonight. Unfortunately for me, I’ve got a lot of desk work today, and will be without my music unless and until I get a reliable cell/data service signal, which again… is just awesome.

However, I really think it’s amazing how tightly Apple has integrated its online services, specifically iCloud, into all of its products.  It’s also amazing how those products don’t function as designed when a critical piece of infrastructure malfunctions.

I’m kinda stuck until T-Mobile’s network and my 4G hotspot decide to behave, or I buckle and turn on Airplane mode and turn my iPhone into an iPod Touch.

I’m certain the programmatic issues will get resolved in future betas of iOS 6, but right now, it’s really stinking up the joint…

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Valve’s Free Movie-Making Tool Now Available To Download

Valve, the creator of game franchises such as Counter-Strike, Half-Life and Portal,  just announced the open beta release of Source Filmmaker – Valve’s in-house movie-making software is now available to download.

Source Filmmaker works from inside the Source engine and its been used by Valve to create all its animated short films, including those in the “Meet the Team” series of Team Fortress 2 shorts. Because the SFM uses the same assets as the game, anything that exists in the game can be used in the movie, and vice versa. By utilizing the hardware rendering power of a modern gaming PC, the SFM allows storytellers to work in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get environment so they can iterate in the context of what it will feel like for the final audience.

Below you can see a short clip created with SFM…

Source Filmmaker system requirements:

  • OS: Windows 7 / Vista (Windows 7 64 bit suggested)
  • Processor: 3.0 GHz P4, Dual Core 2.0 (or higher) or AMD64X2 (or higher)
  • Memory: 2GB (4 GB suggested)
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 200 series card or better, or AMD Radeon 3000 series or better (NVIDIA GeForce 400 series or AMD Radeon 5000 series preferred)
  • Monitor: 1366 x 768 (1920 x 1080 suggested)
  • Hard Drive: At least 15 GB of Space
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible USB headset with mic (suggested)

Download the SFM

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Mountain Lion Release Predicted

The release date for Apple’s new flagship, desktop operating system has been set…well sort of.

If Apple sticks to its previous behavior, I know exactly when OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion will be released – 25, July 2012.

Apple’s Q3 2012 earnings call is set for 24-Jul-12, and the company is doing rather well. WWDC unveiled a new MacBook Pro with Retina Display and a refresh of the remaining notebook line.  It also introduced a new version of their mobile operating system – iOS 6, set to be released with their latest iPhone, currently anticipated to be released some time in, it’s expected, mid October 2012.

Last year, however, Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, was able to announce that OS X 10.7 Lion, would be available for purchase and download in Apples Mac App Store.  If Apple holds true to previous behavior, then I expect Mountain Lion to be released the following day, 25-Jul-12 for the advertised $19.99 USD.

If this is the case, I hope Apple’s got the bandwidth and server space set aside to handle the traffic. If I remember right, I had to wait about a week or so before I was able to get my copy of Lion due to server collisions and contention. Downloading the OS is great, but I’m not looking forward to having to wait and wait to get the OS upgrade, and I’m certain I’m not alone. I’m hoping that new data centers and other Apple infrastructure will help make the Mountain Lion release process smooth and easy for all.

Please look for a final review of Apple’s Mountain Lion here on Soft32 in the beginning of August 2012.

Apple stock (AAPL) was trending up over 18 points for the week at the time of this writing, at 604.72, up 18.41.

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Meet new friends and find hot flirts with Qeep

Smartphones are really cool, but can be really expensive. Not everyone can afford the gadget and all the extra costs related to it. That’s why I like applications like Qeep. It’s a social networking app for a Brew based cell phone near you.

If you’ve got a Featurephone, or any other phone that is NOT a Smartphone, it’s likely running some form of Java, or Brew, as an operating system. It may or may not have applications on it; and depending on your cell carrier, you may or may not be able to put more applications on it. However, if you can send and receive text messages, you won’t be left out in the cold.

Qeep is a global social network for your Featurephone. Qeep is already the world’s leading mobile gaming & entertainment network; and its social network app, also called Qeep is easy to use. You can use it to play games, chat, send pictures & more.

Qeep looks like a really nice application. If you’re not using a Smartphone, chatting on FB, Twitter or via an IM app like Skype or AIM isn’t always possible. In many cases, you’re simply out of luck, as a similar app doesn’t exist for your phone, or may hit you with huge fees. Qeep won’t do that, as its free to use and makes use of your existing data or cell phone account.

Download Qeep

 

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Test your PC out for gaming capabilities with 3DMark Vantage

Gaming seems to be the stuff right now.

If you’re a serious PC advocate, whether on a Mac, a PC or a Linux box, you’re most likely doing some kind of gaming. This is one of the reasons why I really like tools like 3DMark Vantage. It’s a graphics benchmarking tool for Windows.

3DMark Vantage is the industry standard benchmark tool for DirectX 11-based gaming PCs. It includes two graphics tests, two CPU tests and six feature tests. 3DMark Vantage is one of the best ways to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 with real world, game-like loads.

The Basic Edition is free.  The Professional Edition unlocks all of the app’s features including custom testing options, unlimited test runs and priority customer support. A commercial license enables you to use the benchmark for business purposes, including testing for performance, standards compliance and stability.  For research and development including component evaluation, burn-in testing and competitor analysis and for promotional use including trade shows, consumer events, overclocking competitions and other sales and marketing activities, 3DMark Vantage is a must have tool.

The app’s benchmark presets offer a convenient way of scaling the load to provide relevant results for all levels of hardware. These settings represent more advanced levels of visual quality, and a score is produced when running the tool when completed. That score is calculated differently for each preset, and scores are not comparable across different presets.

download 3DMark Vantage

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Quickly bring organization to the chaos of your life with ShoutDone

I’m all about process. Everything that you do is process oriented – from the simplest things like your morning routine, to service and repair depot activities – everything can be broken down into basic steps and to-do’s that make up a process flow.

Managing process isn’t always easy. It’s very common to have multiple tasks going at once and keeping track of all that can become cumbersome, time consuming and difficult. That’s why I like ShoutDone. It’s a multiplatform task management tool.

ShoutDone allows you to complete a six step process in managing your projects – Capture tasks, Organize, Process, Sync, Review and Do. Once you’ve made it through the process, you should be well on your way to process optimization and a well tracked, well managed process. It’s actually very easy.

ShoutDone allows you to easily capture your tasks. With it you can quickly add all of your projects and tasks to capture absolutely everything that needs doing. Once captured, you can sort through your projects and tasks using ShoutDone’s drag-and-drop ‘inbox’ tool. Here, you can prioritize tasks and identify next steps, ensuring that you’re always progressing toward your goals and milestones.

Once you’re on your way, you can review your progress at any point. ShoutDone gives you a clear overview of your tasks, while its filters generate ‘living’, contextual lists. At that point, all you have to do (other than completing the actual work) is tick off the tasks as they are completed. If you want to take your tasks with you, The Pro version of ShoutDone synchronizes information between multiple PCs and/or Macs.

I am all about the to-do lists. Managing them helps me manage not only my day, but also the projects I’m responsible for. ShoutDone does all of this, AND it integrates with Evernote, giving me the ability to use my notes with my tasks. The Pro version is $37USD as of this writing for a 3 PC license, which is an awesome price. If you’re looking for a task management tool, give serious consideration to ShoutDone, as it may be the tool that you’ve been looking for.

Download ShoutDone

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Discover all of the devices connected to your computer with Speccy

What’s the first thing you do when you buy a new computer…well, besides turn it on, of course? You check out all of the specs and components of course! Some of the best fun can be in discovering just how powerful your new computer is. That’s why I like applications like Speccy. It’s a system utility for Windows.

Speccy gives you detailed statistics on every piece of hardware in your computer. You get detailed info on your CPU, Motherboard, RAM, graphics cards, hard disks, optical drives, audio support, etc. Additionally Speccy tells you the operating temperatures of your different components, so you can easily see if you’ve got a heat problem.

While Speccy may seem like an application for system administrators and power users, it’s easily usable by everyone. If you need to add more memory to your system, for example, you can check how many memory slots your computer has and what memory is already installed. Then you can go out and buy the right type of memory to add on or replace what you’ve already got.

If you’re going to be selling your PC, you can use Speccy to quickly list out the components. If you’re buying a PC, you can use Speccy to check that the computer has what the label says it has.

Speccy is a decent application; and the cost is definitely right. While the app is free, a system information app is something that you won’t use every day. However, it does a very good job for what it does. If you need to find out what components you have in your PC, Speccy is a great app to do that.

Download Speccy

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Collect, organize, and retain lecture and study material quickly and easily with Knowledge NoteBook

Getting good grades is harder today than it was when I was a kid.  I didn’t have to go to kindergarten.  Now, not only do kids have to go to kindergarten, they must learn to read, and read well, before they get to first grade.  I didn’t learn to read until the first grade. In today’s faster paced classrooms, I’m glad there are tools like Knowledge Notebook. It’s a multiplatform study tool.

Knowledge Notebook is targeted for use by older students that need to get organized quickly.  With it, students can organize their lecture or class notes.  The note-taking tool provides three fields for taking a note: subject, tag (key concept) and notes. So, you can easily link your notes to subject matter, and the tag allows you to highlight important note content.  The result is a structured, clean note foundation for later review.

Each note is not an isolated island. The Notes Association feature allows you to associate one note with another for conceptual proximity or relationship. For example, a note about auto engine ignition is related to another note about auto engine induction, and both of them are related to a note about auto engine; associations which this feature allows you to draw, organizing information while helping you to better understand the relationships.

In order to prep for exams, many students review and re-review their lecture notes.  Knowledge Notebook allows you to condense all of your notes into a single PDF that can easily be printed or shared with friends and classmates.

In addition to consolidating all of your notes, Knowledge Notebook’s Learning Assessment Engine informs you if you’ve learned what is expected from your lecture or class notes.  All you have to do is click two buttons and the engine evaluates what you’ve retained and displays the results instantly.

In summary, a word processor such as Word is good for creating a document for presentation, but Knowledge Notebook helps you to simplify learning with recording, organizing, understanding, and remembering knowledge and information! And equally important, you instantly know if you’ve learned something (for qualitative subjects).

Word processors and note taking apps are ok for recording information, but when it comes to organizing and comprehending material, that’s a different matter. Knowledge Notebook helps you collect, organize, and retain lecture and study material quickly and easily.  A word of caution, however, the app requires Java and depending on the security settings on your PC, the app may require additional steps to effectively use on the platform of your choice.

Download Knowledge NoteBook for Windows | Download Knowledge NoteBook for Mac

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