Unless proven otherwise, this will be another blog that I’ll fail to update after a week or so.

Video Games Live!

Well, part of thanking my brother for standing at my wedding included 2 tickets to Video Games Live! on Saturday, November 15, 2008.

After a quick bite at the Potbelly’s across the street, we filed into the Congress Theater shortly after 7:30pm.  M mentioned that there would be some pre-show events, but all we saw were 2 demo stations, a few tables, and a long line waiting to buy t-shirts.  M picked up a Mario shirt, and we went to our seats.

The Metropolis Symphony Orchestra was positioned on stage, and there was a huge screen behind them.

Warning:  Spoilers Ahead.

One of the biggest highlights for me was the opening montage which was a brief history of video games on screen and the orchestra played along.  The crowd cheered for their favorite games, the largest applause usually coming for the nostalgic games such as Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, or Duck Hunt.  The remainder of the show centered around several popular pieces of video game music accompanied by cinematic scenes from those games.  Every 2-3 songs, there would be a special guest or a crowd interactive segment.

Another major crowd pleaser was the appearance of Martin Leung.  In case you missed the YouTube clip as I did, check out this dude on the piano pounding out the tunes of the Super Mario series.  Blindfolded no less!  I also liked the Guitar Hero segment where a contest winner came on stage and wowed the crowd with his skills.  Again, I liked the interactive segments better than the performances since I was not as familiar with the music.  Check out this bit of Ms. Pacman getting chased throughout New York City that they showed prior to the show.  Good stuff.

Overall, I enjoyed the show, and I know my brother, along with several hundred other spectators appreciated the concert more than I did.  Throughout the performance, I kept an open mind, appreciated the quality of the music, and the artistic vision that was involved with creating, promoting, and putting together this type of show.  I suppose this might explain the excess of guitar time that the emcee and creator (Tommy Tallarico) seemed to get on stage.  Someone seemed to be enjoying himself.  =)

Filed under: Reviews, , , , , , ,

Uh-oh, he’s finally done it.

One of my earliest Chanatown posts revolved around whether I would join Facebook or not.  Well, as of Friday, November 28, (that’s what happens when you get a 4-day weekend for Thanksgiving), I have officially joined the masses.  My current goal is to consolidate a bit.  I’ve looked into using FB status instead of Twitter, yet linking the two via Twitterfeed.  Hopefully, that will work, and I can then delete the Twitter apps on my iPhone.  So, here we go…13 friends and counting.  Oh, and thanks to ACL for reminding me NOT to have my address in my profile.

Filed under: Life's Important Questions, , , ,

iPhone 2.2 Firmware Update Release Notes

Ah, the holidays are near, and what a nice treat before Turkey Day…an iPhone update.  Before we get to a view of the street via Google, let’s log in the update times:

As I posted with the 2.1 update, here are the details of my firmware update added in real time:

7:30am – I was actually able to sleep in for a bit.

8:05am – Plugged in phone, started iTunes (running iTunes on a PC)….Sync in Progress (remember when this would take over 30 minutes?)
8:11am – downloading 246.4 mb update (9 mb larger than 2.1) over cable modem (I’m still in awe over the number of updates that Apple is providing – I know that a lot of this should have been in the original firmware, but I’m still remembering the days of Windows Mobile where we waited years for 1 single update.)
8:18am – “Extracting software…”
8:19am – “Preparing iPhone for software update…” – a few bells and whistles on my PC, the iTunes/cable icon appears on my iPhone, followed by the white apple on black screen
8:26am – “An unknown error occurred.  Your iPhone cannot be synced now.”  Uh-oh…please don’t brick my iPhone…
8:29am – When in doubt, reboot.  I restarted iTunes, plugged in the iPhone and was prompted to do a Restore.  The message claimed that the new software will be installed as well.  Argh.  Thank goodness I did the backup prior to installing.  Make sure you do the same.  For reference, I was running Outlook and Firefox at the time the “unknown error” occurred, so perhaps these programs were running a little interference.
8:33am – “Preparing iPhone for restore”  – iTunes/cable gone, white apple on black screen, rebooting/restoring iPhone
8:41am – After 2 status bars of restore…”Restoring iPhone software…” – status bar also on iPhone under the white apple
8:46am – “Verifying iPhone software”
8:47am – “Restoring iPhone firmware”  (I hope it’s restoring 2.2…)
8:51am – “Your iPhone has been restored to its factory settings.”  Which ones???  As the iPhone reboots, I see an interesting screen that shows the iTunes/white cable, along with a “Slide for emergency” on the bottom flashing between different languages.  I’m tempted to slide, but I resist.  Next comes a “Waiting for activation” with the Earth in the background.  I must admit, these screens scare me a bit…
8:53am – “Restoring iPhone from backup…” iPhone is activated (on screen), checking settings…Version 2.2 (5G77), so that’s good news.  Now getting all of my info back…”Restore in Progress” on iPhone
9:00am – “Your iPhone has been restored.”
9:01am – “Sync in Progress”  – I’ll patiently wait for probably another 15 minutes.

All in all, the actual 2.2 update was installed in under 40 minutes, and that included a reboot and a restore, so I’m hoping your experience will be quicker and smoother.  After having several Windows Mobile phones, I’ve grown accustomed to expect glitches with technology, so the iPhone is not exempt from this.  I must say that I never really panicked nor had to consult outside sources when experiencing problems.  The iPhone (so far) has been able to recover or rebound on its own from any setbacks in installation or updates.

More details to come in edits about the actual update.  I’m most interested in improvements to Mail and the stability of Safari.  Google Street View doesn’t interest me as much.  It seems more gimmicky to me and not as useful.  I’ll still show it off, just as I do with Google Earth.

EDIT (11/22/08):  After trying to figure out where the heck it was (click on red man icon after dropping a pin), I concede that Google Street is indeed very cool and surprisingly stable and fast.  Speaking of fast, I am noticing that programs are opening quicker and menus are responding faster.  This is particularly true with the ones I use the most:  calendar, contacts, and mail.  Safari has not crashed on me yet, and contrary to what many are saying, I like the included search bar at the top.  I don’t need to see the web url nor edit it as much as I search, so I’m in favor of the change.  A nice compromise would be to include a setting that allows users to revert back to the original style.

Filed under: iPhone, Reviews, , , , , , , , , ,

It’s an App! A review of the Remember the Milk Native App for the iPhone

RTM splash

Well, it’s been a long time coming, and many RTM fans have been clamoring for a native app. Finally, the folks at Remember The Milk have obliged by releasing their native app (how did I go over a week without knowing?), and I must say that it was worth the wait. No doubt, I was tempted to purchase Appigo’s ToDo as many other RTM users have done, but knowing that RTM was in the process of making an app themselves, I decided to wait things out. Ever since getting the iPhone, I’ve been using the web application for RTM as my mobile to-do list. Obviously, this comes with its share of problems. As good as the web app is, the speed and functionality of the application largely depends on the speed of your connection, and things just were not that quick. That all changes with the new native app.

First Impressions

This week

The opening splash screeen is simple and attractive. Within a few seconds, you’re at the homepage which shows you your task counts for the week. On the bottom are buttons that let you quickly navigate to today’s, tomorrow’s or the week’s list of tasks. Plus, you can also see any lists that you’ve created to work on tasks there. This includes any smart lists that you’ve created, a feature that I believe might have been absent in Appigo’s ToDo. Under the “more” button, you can play around with your tags, locations, search, nearby, and settings, though I have not explored these in much detail yet. I’ll provide an update should any of these functions prove to be useful or of interest to me.

Today for you, Tomorrow for me

Today RTM

Navigating to today’s tasks, you have the option of marking tasks as complete, postponing them, adding new tasks, and refreshing tasks from this screen. You can also view tasks that are incomplete or those that have been marked as complete. This screen is the one I use the most, and I love how easy it is to mark tasks as complete or postpone them. On the web app, I felt that it took a while (mostly due to being web based) to just mark a task as complete, let alone change the date. With the native app, this feat is done in seconds. The overall feel of the RTM native app is very intuitive, and from my limited time with the program, I have been very pleased with its design. One of the reasons why I love the web version of RTM so much is the simple and elegant design of the application. RTM’s native app has carried over this design and translated it to the iPhone very effectively.

So, what are the drawbacks, and is this really a free app?

If you like RTM, then I am confident that you will be very satisfied with this app. I haven’t tested the application in places where I have limited connectivity. I have used it primarily in 3G and wireless coverage both with no problems whatsoever. Similar to other native apps that I have, I’m sure that if you are not connected, you will have a bit of a struggle accessing the app, but nowhere near the same trouble that you would have had if you were using the web based application.

I am a bit curious with how the application is priced and subsequently marketed. Now, I was already a RTM pro user (paying $25/year), and while I’d rather not have subscription based services (I’ve already got cable, a cell phone, phone landline, etc.), it looks like I will give RTM a hard earned $25 for another year of service. I won’t say that I’ll do this every year from here on out. I support their efforts and am willing to pay for future R&D, but $25/year is a bit steep, especially while there are plenty of other options (I’m not saying that they’re necessarily better) out there for free.

If you’re not a pro user, you get to use this app for free for 15 days. Thus, it’s either throw down $25 to continue using it or pay nothing for a teasing taste of the RTM life on the iPhone. Again, as a pro user, I was happy that I did not have to pay extra for the app. But, will the app successfully generate more pro accounts for RTM? That’s essentially what they’re banking on, so it’ll be interesting to follow their success with that. Understandably, some of the reviews in the iTunes store focus on this “tricky” price tactic and thus give the program a lowered star rating as a result. It’s too bad, since the application itself is very polished, so I hope the positive reviews (including this one) will allow this application to shine. Download it on iTunes here.

Filed under: iPhone, iPhone Apps, Reviews, , , , ,

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November 2008
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