Sunday, July 30, 2006

Random app: kip - grab it for free while you can!

I just stumbled upon this interesting looking new application, called 'kip', found here. This version (1.01) is currently FREE, but the next version will not be free and will require purchase.

The site describes kip (spelled with a lower-case 'k') as 'iPhoto for your documents', which strikes me as an intriguing idea. I've downloaded the application and will spend a bit of time playing around with it. What it does essentially is display PDF files much like iPhoto displays images, and it also allows you to tag the documents. This is similar to iPhoto's keywords, but having seen the way it's implemented, it's probably more accurate to compare it to bookmark tags on del.ico.us (which is a personal and social bookmarking site that is definitely worth checking out if you haven't used it before).

The reason kip strikes me as a particularly promising idea is the fact that it handles PDF documents. This doesn't surprise me, as the PDF format is tightly and excellently integrated into OS X: Preview is one of the best PDF readers around, and every application that you can print from gives you the option of saving as PDF. If you're like me, and you like to convert and save text files, web pages and other documents as PDFs, kip could actually be very, very useful indeed. One problem I have with documents is that they end up all over the place (I don't dump all my random documents in OS X's 'Documents' folder). If kip provides a simple way of storing, organising and displaying all of my documents, I just might find myself using it on a regular basis. We'll see...lots of great ideas for apps end up being poorly implemented.

If this application turns out to be fabulous, I will definitely come back and write about it again. For now, I need to spend more time fiddling with it to see what it can do. And remember, this version is free, and future versions will not be...so if the idea interests you, go and grab a free copy while you can.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Apple releases wireless Mighty Mouse

Apple finally released a wireless version of their Mighty Mouse today, shortly after AppleInsider released photos of its prototype.

The wireless Mighty Mouse costs US$69, compared to the $45 pricetag on the wired version, and connects via bluetooth. All of its features are essentially exactly the same as the original Mighty Mouse, with one rather notable feature as well - it can run on either 1 or 2 AA batteries. This, I think, is pretty cool. Running the mouse with 1 battery in it will obviously mean that it has a shorter battery life, but it will also make the mouse lighter, which is a plus. A lot of people, especially gamers, steer away from wireless mice because they're too heavy with the batteries in them. A wireless Mighty Mouse, combined with 1 rechargeable AA battery, could be a wonderful combination, as it would likely be light enough to appease a lot of people.

I must say, this really is the best of both worlds. I am a fan of the Apple Wireless mouse, but the one thing I don't like about it is that it only has one button. I'm ok with a one-button trackpad, but I like my mice to at least have a scroll wheel. I like the Mighty Mouse too, but my only problem with it is with the cable - I don't have enough USB ports in my iBook G4 to be able to spare one for a mouse. This solves all those problems!

I think I'm definitely going to go and grab one of these. There's nothing nicer than carrying a bluetooth mouse around with a laptop; we all get sick of trackpads eventually. Now if only Apple would make an ergonomic mouse...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Microsoft finally confirms iPod rival, Zune

It's official, Microsoft has finally confirmed that it will be launching 'Zune', it's much-speculated about iPod competitor. They had recently quite adamantly denied any plans to develop such a player.

Reports say that the player will be hard-drive based, and will feature extensive Wi-Fi technology, allowing Zune users to do things like recommend music to each other, view each other's playlists and purchase music via Wi-Fi directly to the Zune.

These features, to be honest, sound pretty cool. Apparently the guy running the project is the same guy who headed the XBox project, and to be honest, he did a pretty good job of it. It does look like Microsoft is pushing in the right direction in order to offer a true iPod competitor, but there are still a couple of problems.

Firstly, Microsoft really does lack experience in the consumer electronics department. Many of its 'ideas' seem cool, but when implemented, generate far more initial buzz than they do demand. Take, for example, the recently release 'Ultra-Mobile PCs', which I wrote about in this post. Lots of hype. Very little effect when released.

The problem I think, is that Microsoft honestly doesn't seem to fully understand the concept of the end-user experience, unlike say, Apple. Although to be fair, the XBox did seem to get it right - maybe they can continue with this momentum. Though if this is the case, I don't understand why they don't just market the XBox name as well. It's just about the only Microsoft product that can match the iPod in the 'cool' department.

Finally, if the Zune is to be paired with the Microsoft/MTV Urge service, I don't know how well that will go down. Why? Because Urge doesn't let you keep the songs you purchase; instead you are just granted the right to listen to the ones you 'buy' on a subscription basis. You don't technically own what you buy from it, unlike say, things you buy from the iTunes Music Store.

Either way, Apple probably needs to unveil some new iPod innovations at the WWDC in order to counterbalance this report from Microsoft. With the Nike+iPod sports kit, it does seem like they're pushing in the direction of Wi-Fi in iPods, which would be awesome. Now it's just a waiting game to see what both Microsoft and Apple do.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Happy iCal Day!

July 17th. Sound familiar? That's because this date is the default date icon for iCal! Why? Because iCal was launched on July 17th! So today we celebrate iCal day. For those of us who use iCal religiously, it makes organising life a breeze. For those who don't, perhaps today would be an appropriate day to give it a try. For the free spirits who don't plan anything ahead of time...well...you guys can still toast iCal today with everyone else!

I may or may not be in the wrong time zone right now actually, but it's July 17th where I am, and that's good enough for me!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm back!

Hey everyone! I know I've been a bit AWOL for a few weeks, but that's because I've been off travelling! Sometimes life gets in the way of Apple technology. But now I'm back and I promise there'll be plenty more regular posts and podcast episodes to come, once I get over jetlag perhaps.