Archive for March, 2008

Cellphone News

March 29, 2008

 Phone Ticket Stub

TICKET ON A SCREEN

Your cell phone is now your ticket stub to Canadian concerts. Rogers in association with Live Nation, let’s you buy select seats for upcoming concerts using your cellphone. Any Rogers phone will work as long as it is WAP 2.0, MMS and SMS capable. Once you go online to the Rogers Music & Tones web site with your phone and order your tickets using a credit card, you get a confirmation text and picture message of a 2D bar code which is scanned at the concert site. You can even send that image ticket stub to any other carrier MMS capable phone for someone else to use instead. Currently only Simple Plan concerts in Canada are available with Rogers Wireless Box Office, with more performers to come. You also pay standard SMS and MMS rates as well as a $1.00 processing fee. No more losing or misplacing your concert tickets, unless you lose your phone! For more information go to: www.rogers.com

CTIA COVERAGE

I will be attending the big cellphone CTIA show this week in Vegas. The last time I was at a CTIA show, with some 60,000 active cellphones in one building, I couldn’t get a call out due to wireless networks limited capacity to handle the traffic. Ironic.

  

WHERE’S THE PHONE?

LG just launched its “First True Touch Phone” series In Canada, along with a survey that says:

•18 per cent of Canadians would like to touch the Stanley Cup (of this group, more men than women would be eager to do so, 24 per cent compared with 11 per cent).

•11 per cent would like to touch the Hope Diamond, and of those more are women than men (14 per cent compared with 8 per cent).

•When asked about forbidden items they would like to touch given the chance 29 per cent would have a hard time resisting freshly poured cement on a sidewalk. A nearly equal 27 per cent wouldn’t be able to resist the allure of the gleaming finish on an Aston Martin. Of those most attracted to the Aston Martin, the majority were men (34 per cent compared with 22 percent).

•Eighteen per cent of respondents wouldn’t be able to resist touching the hat of a guard at Buckingham palace, while 15 per cent would be tempted by a perfectly decorated wedding cake. And 11 per cent have to fight the urge to sneak in the touch of a nude sculpture in a museum.

I won’t tell you more about the phones since I haven’t touched one and you can’t buy them yet.

A Telus insider told me how frustrating it is when phone makers strut their new hardware before cellphone carriers have any in stores.

I wonder what the survey would say about how many Canadians would be disappointed if a new cutting-edge phone was “announced” but not available in stores yet.

Anyways, the currently “untouchable” phones will eventually be at Rogers, Bell and Telus shops. For more info go to: www.ca.lge.com.  

The Week That Was

March 22, 2008

White House Needs New IT Manager

On Friday, according to a USA Today report, the White House disclosed to a Federal court how it handles important data, like e-mail, when diligently replacing older computers. The older hard drives are sent away to a secure location and physically destroyed. Is the information backed up? Apparently not all of it, possibly missing millions of e-mails from 2003 to 2005. This might come handy when controversial investigations call on important White House e-mail content. An improved data back-up plan was scuttled by the White House several years ago and a new one is still in the works.At a House committee hearing last month, a computer expert who previously worked at the White House called its e-mail system “primitive” and said it was set up in a way that created a high risk that data would be lost from White House servers where it was being archived.OK folks, don’t you think the average computer consumer would do a better job of reliable White House data back up? Perhaps the “In God We Trust” motto should be augmented by “But Not Our IT Manager.” You can’t just blame IT folks for shoddy government data management. An imperfect data management system is handy for governments wanting to keep secrets secret.This reminds me of Nixon’s secretary “accidentally” erased recording parts of audio tape conversations relating to the Watergate scandal. It just goes to show that neither analog or digital technology will keep politicians honest.  

New “old” CBC Archives are a hoot.

Speaking of archives, the CBC Digital Archives Website www.cbc.ca/archives  has just re-launched and is full of some 12,000 free access online radio and television clips.   It sports a fresh new design, new tools and, the CBC Digital Archives Website gives audiences an unprecedented opportunity to relive and share key moments in Canadian history.  Brand new content has been added, including past broadcasts that haven’t been seen since they were originally aired. They include: Stickhandling lessons from Howie Meeker. The Ku Klux Klan on This Hour Has Seven Days. A test flight of the Bell Aerospace Rocket Belt.Lorne Green’s wartime “Voice of Doom”. And Jack Bauer, age 3½. Actually, Kiefer Sutherland, age 3½.Maybe CBC can handle the White House data backup plan!Check it out. 

Lexmark Goes Caveman, Almost

Two hundred Lexmark employees in eight offices across Canada are getting ready to turn off their lights and have candle-lit dinners, play board games camping-style and watch movies at home with friends in support of EARTH HOUR, the press release said. The company (one of almost 3,000 businesses participating globally) is also encouraging customers, family, friends and Lexmark offices around the world to sign up for EARTH HOUR at wwf.ca/EarthHour or earthhour.org and help fight climate change.This first-time global scale incentive happens Saturday, March 29, 2008, 8:00 p.m. Ok, I get the candle-light part Lexmark, but “watching movies” using electricity? Maybe projecting old slide pictures on the wall with a magnifying glass and a candle is more like it, no? 

Gretzky’s Tech Time

You are unlikely to see a newspaper item about the St. Albert Bruins Atom hockey team winning Samsung’s and Best Buy’s Great One for a Day contest. That’s because it falls under the “news created by big electronics companies” category. Still, the Alberta Hockey team get’s to be flown to Vancouver to take in a hockey game and have breakfast with Wayne Gretzky. One might think that Wayne profits from endorsing his name to such contests, but I happen to know Samsung’s bucks go into Wayne’s charity, making his time a win-win for everyone. As a past photojournalist and photo editor for the Edmonton Journal, I have known Wayne, from the first day he played professional hockey in Edmonton, right to his last fourth Oiler Stanley Cup. He is a true gentleman and when he shed real tears as an Oiler announcing his departure for the Kings, he showed that great men can cry too. As my Samsung contacts attest to, you will never meet a more committed and professional athlete, like the “Gretz.” For more information go to: www.samsung.ca/greatone  

About HD, Sony’s Mighty Tiny TV and getting my Curve Mad!

March 15, 2008

HD-DVD’s Last Breath

I am still getting emails on whether folks should buy Blu-ray or HD-DVD players. By now everyone should know that the HD-DVD corner threw in the towel. Even if someone gives you an HD-DVD player it will prove costly to you in the near future. A quick drive through Blockbusters in the Edmonton region shows some outlets with no more HD-DVD rentals. Future Shop and Best Buy now have twice as many Blu-ray movie titles as HD-DVD and the shrinking trend of HD-DVD title availability will continue. If you own an HD-DVD player start shopping around for soon to be $10 titles in Canada, already showing up south of the boarder.

Looking for deals? Keep visiting movie stores as many will put on hot HD-DVD sales with no warning, just to clear old stock.

I was a fan of HD-DVD because they had great features in their players and movie disc special features as well as Internet connection. They were years ahead of Blu-ray for consumers.

But it’s over folks. Just like Toshiba wisely decided to quickly pull the plug on HD-DVD, so should you on spending any more money on it, other than real cheap movies you always wanted to have.

Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and Google

Here is the short story. Microsoft is having informal merger talks with Yahoo following its unsolicited bids to buy the company for more than $40 billion. AOL spent $850 million to buy social network site Bebo and its owner Time Warner, is making the moves on Yahoo too.

Here is the short ending. Money talks, so expect Microsoft to swallow up Yahoo leaving AOL with a distant third networking site that hasn’t quite figured out how to make money on online advertizing. So we have a match made in heaven and a doomed match made in…

Is That a TV or a Toy?

Sony just sent me its very sexy OLED XEL-1 HD TV. The box was huge but I was surprised how small and thin the TV is, almost toy-like. Look for a review in next Saturday’s EdmontonJournal.com. For its $2,499 price tag you can buy a traditional 50” flatpanel. I plugged it in to my Samsung HD Duo player today for a few minutes and it is pretty awesome picture-wise and has great sounding speakers for its tiny size. Not exactly a family room centre piece. Is it worth the money? I will be busy messing with it over the next few days.

Driving Backwards Confuses GPS

I recently got back from a weeklong stay in Miami Beach and DisneyWorld. I did a lot of walking and driving, using Rogers BlackBerry GPS Curve and the $10 monthly Telenav voice direction software. It worked perfect, to the last meter, whether walking to a restaurant in Miami or driving through the maze of roads at DisneyWorld. But I did manage to mess with its head on one occasion. I missed a turn at an important Orlando intersection one evening and being that no other car was around, I quickly backed up a hundred meters or so to take the right exit. Well, I tell you, my GPS didn’t know what to do. It went berserk, trying to reroute me and than not understanding I was driving backwards for a while to get on the right route. My Curve is still mad at me.   

Keep the spoils of war to yourself!

March 8, 2008

Future Shop has come up with a scheme to sell its most expensive high definition movie players, which understandably, are not selling fast. If you bring in your HD-DVD player from March 7th to April 3rd they will give you $100 credit towards the purchase of the LG or Samsung combo HD-DVD and Blu-ray players.

Although Future Shop will donate the exchanged HD-DVD players to charity the consumer should think twice. The combo players are pricey, especially the much better Samsung model.

But do the math. Why pay more money to get into a duo combo player half of which is kinda dead already? Future shop says this deal will ease you into Blu-ray. I say keep your HD-DVD player for as long as you can, rent, don’t buy, HD-DVD titles and switch to Blu-ray-only players when they start dropping below $300 by this fall.

Don’t let the spoils of the three-year HD player war go to the victor so fast. Let the stores and Blu-ray makers sweat it out until prices drop this fall.

And when it’s time to switch, donate your HD-DVD player and movies to your charity of choice and put the charity receipt for your tax write-off in your pocket, not Future Shop’s.

What do you think?

But if you are still anxious to change now and have the bucks, go to  http://www.futureshop.ca/bluray.

On the happy side of things, Olympus Canada announced an extremely portable E-420 10 megapixel digital SLR that is sure to convert even more point-and-shoot shooters. Weighing at a mere 380 grams (13.4 ounces), the E-420 is 20 to 40 per cent lighter than competing DSLRs. It has an improved Live View, which enables users to hold the camera away from their faces and interact with their subjects, like when photographing kids, before taking the photo.

The Live View auto-focuses onscreen, an improvement over the previous E-410 and E-510 and professional E-3 which required you press an autofocus button, before pressing the shutter. You can also see Face Detection, Shadow Adjustment Technology and Perfect Shot Preview on Live View and the cool new ultra short and compact, Zuiko Digital 28-84mm equivalent (ED 14-42mm Four Thirds) f3.5-f5.6 lens makes this camera as “pocketable” as a DSLR can be.

Can’t wait to try that one out. 

Effective April 1, 2008, Olympus DSLR camera bodies will include an additional one-year warranty, and Zuiko digital lenses will include an extended four-year warranty. The DSLR extended one-year warranty and the extended four-year warranty on lenses each have an estimated value of approximately CAD$99.99.

Go to www.olympuscanada.com for more info.