Will Apple turn off your iPhone video camera at concerts?

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Sure, video is decent, but this sounds horrible.

This really bugged me when I read about it: Apple is developing a system that would allow concert and sports venues to shut off the video function on your iPhone at arenas or stadiums (stadia?) to prevent unauthorized recording of shows or games. I am absolutely opposed to this. I am not renting my iPhone. I paid for it. I own it. It should be up to venue owners to prohibit recording devices and enforce those bans. More worrisome is the technology. Will governments (police? military?) be able to set up zones where your video-recording capabilities will be disabled? In theory, I am resigned to a future when technology will be messing with other technology. You can already buy devices now that block GPS signals around you. But I don’t have to sit back and say nothing as Apple devises ways to limit the functionality of the devices I pay for. Hey, Steve, when “it just works,” don’t mess with it.

Jerry Lawson, video-game pioneer (1940-2011)

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Photo Credit: Pete Fuller via Flickr, and Vintage Computing and Gaming

I had no idea who Jerry Lawson was until he died and his obituary appeared in The New York Times on Wednesday. To sum up, he was an African-American engineer who oversaw the development and release of a video-game system in 1976 called the Fairchild Channel F. It was special because it had interchangeable cartridges. The console had two games programmed in, but if you wanted more, you had to buy cartridges for each new game. The Fairchild Channel F was not the first system to have interchangeable games. The Magnavox Odyssey came out in 1972 and had printed circuit boards with different games, but they came with the console and were not sold separately. The Odyssey was a black-and-white system that came with overlays that you needed to put on the TV screen to provide the game background or design. Here’s a great example: A YouTube demonstration of the Odyssey game “Prehistoric Safari.” The Fairchild Channel F was in color and the games were completely software-based. It also had advanced game controllersThe cartridges sold for the Fairchild system were like the game cartridges for Atari and other systems that came later. The business model of selling games separately remains the standard for today’s multi-billion-dollar industry (though with DVDs or downloads instead of cartridges). There are a few videos of Lawson on YouTube, but unfortunately they have poor audio and it’s hard to hear him. But there is a great 2009 interview on vintagecomputing.com that you can read. One of the highlights is when he talks about being the only black member of the Homebrew Computer Club that met at Stanford and included Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Here’s what he thought of the Apple co-founders: More

More clouds in your computing forecast

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Gotta dig up the "Forever Alone" guy meme (see below).

Today was all about clouds. Music stored in clouds. Imaginary girlfriends billowing about. I’m not certain the “cloud girlfriend” site isn’t a hoax, but I signed up to be a beta tester or something. The big news was the launch of the Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. You take about 5 gigs of music – about 1,000 songs – and you upload them to Amazon, where they’ll be accessible via the Cloud Player from any computer or Android device. (It isn’t Apple friendly, so I haven’t been able to try it out.) If you want more storage space, then you pay. Otherwise, it’s free. Storing data is cheap. Moving it around the Internet is cheap. Think about streaming movies via Netflix. No DVDs. No stores. Amazon is trying to shift toward digital content. All the big players are. Both Google and Apple are expected to unveil cloud “lockers” for your music later this year. Amazon was first, but it may have jumped the gun because it hasn’t formalized licensing agreements with the major music labels. It will all be worked out eventually. Everything is shifting to the clouds. More

eBay promotion to buy old iPhones extended

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I'm rich!

The eBay offer to buy old iPhones and Androids for a minimum of $200 was to end on Feb. 22, but it was extended for two weeks. I got $200 for my iPhone 3GS. I clicked a few circles on eBay and was given a FedEx shipping label to print out. I dropped my old iPhone in an envelope with the free shipping label and that was it. Yesterday I got an email from eBay saying the phone was inspected and the sale was completed (see above). eBay figured it could make a mint off of AT&T customers dumping their iPhones for the Verizon iPhone. Verizon sales are brisk, but it hasn’t been the stampede that was hyped by the media. There is plenty of speculation as to why several years of bellyaching about AT&T’s call service hasn’t translated into the anticipated rush for Verizon iPhones (see video below). As for me, I sold my old iPhone because it had turned into a paperweight. I’m happy with my AT&T iPhone 4. The $200 will likely go to Apple because Steve needs my money.

One year without an iPad

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A year ago today, Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPad. I don’t own one. I’ve only seen an iPad a few times. You may live and work where they are all over the place. I don’t. Maybe that’s why I have been able to avoid getting an iPad. I understand its benefits and potential. When it was unveiled, I immediately saw how it could be a great tool for college students, especially as a textbook reader (no more lugging around a 20-pound backpack). It’s great for looking at photos and playing games. I’ve read how hip restaurants are using it to show wine lists to patrons. I’ve read how the tablet computer is the final nail in the coffin for desktop computers. Apple has sold 15 million since the iPad was made available to the public last April. I just don’t need it. More

What was life like before iPhone apps?

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Apple just reported its 10 billionth download from its iOS App Store, which launched in 2008. That got me to thinking about my life with apps. My first iPhone was the 3G and that’s when the App Store opened. My first “wow” moment was with the Shazam app, when I was driving and heard a song on the radio and wanted to know the name and artist. Running the risk of a rear-ending another car, I turned on my iPhone and opened the Shazam app and about 10 seconds later – Shazam! – I found out it was Daft Punk and “Harder Better Faster Stronger.” My first less-than-wow moment was after I tried one of the light saber apps. I waved the phone around and made the light saber sound from Star Wars. That was good for about 30 seconds of amusement. Over time, I’ve learned that the best apps are either very useful or great time-wasters. Catapulting birds at fortresses built by pigs has turned out to be one of the best ways to waste time. Now there’s talk about Angry Birds being turned into an animated series. The greatest App success story so far is the “Twitterverse” that has been created around Twitter. Android phones have the Android Market. But Apple is simply way out front of everybody in this game and it is one of the best reasons to have an iPhone (or iPod Touch or iPad). To celebrate the 10 billionth download, I downloaded the TextPics app so I can now send text bunnies to all my good friends. For only 99 cents, you get a lot of bunnies. ❤