Category Archives: Opinions

Covering my opinions of things in Geekdom

Oh No! Spider-man’s costume?! And the Mask?!


MTV’s Splash Page has released a clear shot of the new Spider-man suit from the reboot.  I’m sorry, buy my first reaction to this is that the mask makes me think of the old Japanese Spider-man show where he had a Power Rangers like robot.  I love the fact that he has web-shooters (yes I’m sticking to that belief until told otherwise).  I’m hoping small things like the red lenses and what looks like tennis shoes are just elements for the stunt suit and not actual elements of the actual suit that we’ll see, but at this point, with all the liberties they’ve taken with the suit already, who knows.

I had been optimistic with all the blurry shots up to this point, keeping faith that the look of the mask would win me over.  For me, its failed.  I’m a huge Spidey fan, and to me, this isn’t Spider-man.

Check out Splash Page with a few close ups of the mask and web-shooters, and below for the opening to the aforementioned Japanese Spider-man show.

Spider-Man Reboot


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Mophie’s Juice Pack Air breathes new life into your iPhone


mophie_logoOn this site I sometimes will do a technical heavy post/review and other times I don’t because I don’t feel its an important aspect of what a normal user would want to know.  This is not going to be a technically heavy post because well, I don’t want to take away from the absolute greatness that I feel this product offers.  So if you’re looking for measurements or how much extra weight the case adds to the phone, or what the battery specs are (rechargeable 1200mAh) you need to move along to another site.  If however you’re curious as to how the product preformed for me and my reactions to it, then please, continue!

Juice Pack Air – iPhone 3G & 3GS from Mophie $49.95

PROS

  • Doubles as a protective case
  • Doubles your battery life

CONS

  • uses micro-USB port
  • status LEDs are unreliable for accuracy.

Up front, I’ll admit I was hesitant regarding Mophie’s Juice Pack Air.  My iPhone 3G is on its last legs of life.  Battery lasts absolutely no time at all anymore (we’re talking 100% down to 20% in a matter of hours) especially with my heaving texting/email/Twitter lifestyle.  I’m just fortunate I spend a lot of time traveling and able to keep my phone on charge during those times on the road or I would really being hurting.  I can say that after the very first day of using the Juice Pack Air, I was sold!  I went from my phone only lasting a few hours with normal use (Email, Twitter, Facebook, Texting, phone calls) to lasting the entire day, and I pushed it hard too.  So everything you read is true, the Mophie Juice Pack Air does double your battery life, no matter how bad off your battery is.  It nearly tripled my battery life, its like I have a new phone again.

JPA Purple Front BackNow just a hint of the technical:  The Juice Pack Air has a rechargeable 1200mAh battery, is made from matte plastic that makes it a successful and attractive protective case as well.  The case is divided into top and bottom sections that, when enclosed around the phone, forms a seamless and snug hold that can quickly be taken apart if need be.

On the back of the Juice Pack Air, there are four blue LEDs used to indicate the power that’s left in the battery.  Although it didn’t always seem to be completely accurate, its still nice to have so you have a general idea.  Along with the LEDs you have a on/off switch on the bottom of the case, which gives you the option to use the Juice Pack Air as an extended power supply, or simply as a protective case.

Uclip_image002sing the included cable (a micro-USB) you can connect the Juice Pack Air to your computer just like you would your typical iPhone USB cable, through the USB port, letting you charge the case and sync the iPhone simultaneously.

BOTTOM LINE

If you’re like me, still sucking the life out of your iPhone 3G or 3GS and want to give the old work horse an extra kick, at $50 you can’t pass up the Juice Pack Air.  It does what it promises to do, lives up to the expectations, and you’ll never look back.  Give your iPhone some new life!

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2011 New Year’s Resolutions


I’ve never been one for the whole resolutions thing, but with the blogs now, I thought “hey, why not?”  Just for the fun of things.

– Get Organizedtips_new_years_resolutions

– Save some money/budget

– Never let words go unsaid

– Become someone that does, rather then someone that responds

– Get back into shape

– Read to my kids more

– Keep up 2 blogs

– Eat healthier

– Drink more water

– Enjoy life more

– Smile more

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AT&T Named the Worst Mobile Carrier by Consumer Reports


Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Well, better late to the party then never I suppose.  According to a survey of nearly 60,000 people, where more then 30,000 were iPhone users, AT&T was rated the worst wireless service in the US.

In a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, U.S. Cellular was ranked the best wireless provider, while Verizon and Sprint were neck-and-neck in most areas of satisfaction.  AT&T was the only wireless provider to show a significant decrease in satisfaction.

Its suggested that one of the reasons, especially when a large portion of the group owns Apple’s iPhones, is that AT&T is behind other networks offering 4G capabilities.  4G?!  Most of the area I cover doesn’t even have 3G coverage with AT&T, while Verizon Wireless has zooming 3G and data coverage in most of the areas AT&T does not.

Once using the excuse of having heavy data usage because of the iPhone as reasons behind their problems, its hard to buy into that excuse anymore, especially with the influx of other smartphone platforms taking over the other networks.  (Refer to my comparing of a Verizon Wireless Droid X to my years of using the iPhone on AT&T).

If the rumored Verizon iPhone comes up early next year, look for more backlash then expected as more studies and feedback come in showing that AT&T is bad across the board and people realize that its not “then” and that AT&T isn’t trying to make things better.

I didn’t realize what I was missing with the data coverage until I got to play with a phone from Verizon.  What about you?  How would you rate your current carrier?

**Disclaimer**

I have been an AT&T customer since 2005, and an iPhone user since early 2009.  Verizon Wireless provided Geekasms.com a test unit to try for 2 weeks to compare service and the Android OS.  All major providers received the same request, with only Verizon responding.  No wireless carriers are sponsor or advertisers on Geekasms.com

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Checking in – a recipe for disaster


Image representing Foursquare Solutions as dep...

Image via CrunchBase

No doubt a subject that is hotly contested, and will be more so with the injection of Facebook Places, and whatever likely competitor someone like Google comes up with next, is the subject of “Check-in apps”.  Expected to be the next big social media craze, the concept of being able to “check-in” to your current location with your smart phone seems to be unleashing what seems to be becoming an exponential amount of apps.  Apps such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, and Facebook Places has already brought about more reward oriented apps that incorporate with those, such as WeReward, Waze, and SCVNGR, just adding to the enticement of being part of the latest trend.

Image representing Loopt as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The essence of these apps are to allow you to check in to locations you’re at, announcing to your friends where you are or have been for the day.   As a user, it’s a fun little games you can play along with, earning badges or possibly becoming “Mayor” of locations you frequent such as on Foursquare.  As a business, it’s a great tool to help promote yourself and possibly bring in new customers, businesses such as Starbucks and American Eagle offer bonuses or discounts to Mayors of their locations, it’s the latest and greatest marketing campaign, that’s only expanding with the added apps like WeReward, which rewards you with points that can eventually be cashed out for real money, simply for visiting a certain business or restaurant and taking a picture of yourself with their product.  Perfect example: For one day a few weeks ago, if you visited Subway, which is typically worth around 30 points, you gained 300 instead.  Once the number of users grow on such apps, bonuses such as these on special days will probably be on the increase, as the news spread rapidly on Twitter and other sites about the 300 points at Subway.

Image representing SCVNGR as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

So far, all these “check-ins” have been controllable on who viewed them.  You had the power to choose if you posted your check-ins on Twitter and/or Facebook.  I’ll come out and admit it, I use Foursquare, I don’t have that many friends locally, and its mostly a one man entertainment for me, but I’m very cautious of when and where I upload my check-ins.  I see no need to let all my friends on Facebook see that I’ve checked into Olive Garden on a Saturday evening.  There are way too many people on Facebook that could see that, especially if I hadn’t setup my security settings.  There are even sites such as PleaseRobMe.com, that shows a stream of only Foursquare check-ins on Twitter.  my big issue is that Facebook, in trying to jump into the latest craze, has opened up a can of worms with their new check-in system.  (Which I do not use).  Sure I play around with Foursquare (attempted Gowalla but had to many issues not being able to check in with it) but I maintain control of who sees what, when.  With Facebook, if you check-in on Facebook, it’s there for all of your friends to see.  Sure the argument could be that the information on Foursquare and others is still out there to be found if someone wanted to, but that’s a known risk that is taken by signing up for such things.  You still maintain more control then you do on Facebook.  I understand that business aspects of pushing out Facebook places, I do, but when people are being warned not to post pictures while their on vacation because it could potentially announce to the wrong people you’re not at home, they now have a means to basically post it on a billboard!

Ultimately, just like when you post vacation pictures, if you choose to “check-in” is up to you.  I feel that out of all the options, if you want to play around with it, Foursquare is your better choice in that in allows you to better control the flow of information, and protects your privacy better than others (and WeRewards works with it too to add a little extra game to it all).  At the end of the day though, just like everything else, the decision is yours to make.

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KDE migrates over to Microsoft Live@edu – Saving the state 6.3 million


In case you missed it, and more then likely you did unless you work for the school system, beginning on May 21st of this year, our state’s public school system changed their email system from an Exchange Server/Outlook system to a new, no-cost suite from Microsoft called Live@edu running off of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 (most were running 2003).  The move will save the state 6.3 million over the next 4 years, and will allow the school systems to be on top with the latest in technology.screenshot

The rollout, affecting 700,000 users including students, teachers and staff, began on May 21st of this year and was officially launched on June 3rd in Frankfort.  Live@edu is a cloud based  full suite of email and collaborative tools based on the familiar Microsoft technologies that were previously in place.  A cloud based service or cloud computing is internet-based computing, where shared resources, software and information, are provided to computers and other devices on-demand.  This will allow people to have access to this new system virtually anytime, anywhere as long as they have an internet connection and a web browser; including access from mobile phones.  Microsoft’s press release states: “Live@edu fosters improved productivity, better learning and skills development to help students prepare for their futures.”

The new system also boats a uniformed state wide system, where every district has access to the same technology.  In what I feel is a somewhat demeaning statement regarding perception of our own state, Dr. Terry Holliday, commissioner of education for Kentucky said that “we can close the technology gap between rich and poor districts and level the playing field for students regardless of where they live”

I have found it somewhat surprising that this story wasn’t farther reaching then what it was.  Considering the state’s budget woes, and papers like the Lexington Herald Leader concentrating on other branches of the state and state’s government, you would think that a 6.3 million dollar budget savings would be worthy of more coverage.  Additional highlights are Microsoft boats about the speed in which they were able to migrate the state to the new cloud service; 700,000 users, 1300 schools, all over a single weekend.  Considering that before, the state had around 180 on-site or on-premise servers running Exchange 2003, to now running on a cloud service, no longer relying on on-premise servers and running the more advanced and robust Exchange 2010.  Microsoft has been working with the KDE on end-user training, some of which they have even posted on YouTube.  Microsoft has stated on their Live@edu blog that “With Live@edu, all school districts in Kentucky have access to the same powerful Microsoft applications and Web 2.0 technologies. That means we can close the technology gap between rich and poor districts and level the playing field for students regardless of where they live,” said Dr. Terry Holliday, commissioner of education for Kentucky.” and “Historically, it would have required months and potentially years to migrate hundreds of thousands of people to a new solution,” said Chuck Austin, Office of Education Technology for the Kentucky Department of Education. “With Microsoft’s cloud technology and a collaborative focus between Microsoft and the Kentucky Department of Education on the planning aspects, we were able to dramatically reduce the implementation cycle and migrate everyone in a single weekend.”

The new system offers the ability for a much stronger collaboration and hopefully lead to a more cohesive group effort within Kentucky’s public school system.  As someone surrounded with family in the school system, I’m probably more aware of the darker, dirtier, more political side to our education system then most.  I feel that the public school system no longer concerns itself with the education and wellbeing of the children it houses, but of money, advancement and personal gain.  It seems that as time goes on, even since I was in school, the concentration and focus goes away from the actual students and their education.  Sure, the subject matter might be more advanced in the different grade levels then it was 5, 10, 15 years ago, but ultimately does it show a difference?  Are they actually learning the material in a practical use method, or simply having it crammed into their young minds, only to slip away later because they have no foundation to base the education on?  As a father, it worries me what education possibilities await my children as they go up through the ranks of the public school system.  As a father/tech/geek I have felt that the education department as a whole has been lacking on the technological front and have found that disconcerting considering that, regardless of if you like it or not, we’re headed towards a more technological dependent society, and if we want our children to succeed in life, the school systems in which they are in, need to follow more with the times then I feel they do now.  Hopefully in that regard, this is a sign that our state is looking towards the future, not only of technology, but in state wide collaboration and development, and if done with the right amount of heart, our children will no doubt benefit and flourish with this new system in place and we as a commonwealth will all benefit in time.

One can only hope

 

Links:

Microsoft’s Press Release

KDE News Advisory

Live@edu

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Farmville on the iPhone?! WHY?!


Okay, typically I don’t write about this stuff, but the frustration I already have with Farmville has now been increased by it being announced at WWDC that its coming to the iPhone.  As if people don’t already spend way to much time on that and other games, they can now play it practically anywhere?!  Apparently Zynga’s goal is to slowly dumb down all iPhone and iPad users, but wait, there’s more!!  The iPhone app not only comes with a special snow leopard (groan) but it has push notifications for withering crops!!  Just what I need, in the middle of dinner my wife’s phone chiming and she has to stop to water crops, or even more hilarious, having a boss get the same notification while in the middle of a presentation.  (You know there are a handful of those out there)  Why, oh why would Zynga want to put this app on the iPhone, and more importantly, why would Apple agree to it?

Over 70 million monthly active users play Farmville (what?!) allowing for Zynga to have raised $2 million for Haiti relief.    Yes, I don’t get why people play that game constantly (and before getting yelled out that I assume, no I don’t, I did play the game for a couple of weeks, playing it as more of a challenge against my wife).  I don’t understand the constant attention one needs to give to a virtual farm that captivates people the way it does.  Problem is, my opinion ultimately doesn’t matter, I’m 1 person to over 70 million people, and where 70 million people go, people follow.

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iPhones and infants


I’ve realized that there is a growing demand for information for apps for what I’m calling iPhone Babies. I’m in the process of testing other apps with my baby girl (but Peekaboo Barn is still the take all home run).  What I’m looking for are suggestions for apps.  What does your baby enjoy, what gets their attention?  Paid or free, doesn’t matter, I’m curious to see what other magic apps are out there for us tech savvy parents.  Feel free to comment below on what apps you feel fall under the category of “Must Have”.

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The best gets better…Peekaboo Barn gets updated!!


peekaboo

When things are good, most people just sit back and enjoy it, but Night & Day Studios, the people behind the brilliant Peekaboo Barn and Peekaboo Wild are not nearly that easily satisfied, as they have put out what is arguably a sizeable update to their already amazing and popular iPhone and iPad app Peekaboo Barn.

For those that do not know, Peekaboo Barn looks and feels like a virtual popup book for your child.  Starting off with a bouncing barn, if you listen you can hear a sound coming from the barn, giving you and your child a chance to guess that animal before touching to screen to watch the barn doors open up, listen to the noise again and then have the animals name announced, giving your child the chance to learn the names of some of their favorite animals, who are illustrated by Divya Srinivasan, whose work is regularly featured in the New Yorker.  With the brilliance of that formula, there is no doubt that Peekaboo barn is the #1 must have app for all parents who have toddlers and infants.

If you check out Peekaboo Barn at the iTunes store, the update is listed as follows:

New features:

* New animals — You’ve asked and we’ve listened!  Now there are three new animals in the barn: chicken, rabbit, and a mouse. 

* New English pronunciation option — In addition to the child narrator, there is now an adult narrator who pronounces all animal names correctly. Choose which narrator you would like to use in the language section of Options.

* Detects Mute Switch on iPhones — if your Mute Switch is on, an indicator appears telling you that you won’t hear any sound.

PB3_chicken PB3_mouse PB3_rabbit

 

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a huge fan of this app.  Its simple, yet pure genius.  One of the very few apps out there that not only can entertain a toddler and up, but educate them as well.  My 1 year old daughter has been entertained by Peekaboo Barn since she was old enough to look at the screen (I had originally downloaded it to entertain my son one busy day waiting at a doctor’s office), my daughter now can work the phone herself, loving the rooster and rabbit the most right now.

I originally called this one of the best apps for a toddler (and infant) on the iPhone.  I was wrong in narrowing it down so much.  Its the top app for any parent with a young child.  Its one of the top reasons I as a parent am getting the iPad!  Not only have they updated Peekaboo Barn with all that’s listed above, they’ve also made both Peekaboo Barn and the sequel Peekaboo Wild compatible for the iPad!  Making these vibrant, creative animals come to life on even a bigger screen, and you know watching your child’s eyes light up, or in my case, light up and dance, will be well worth it.

Priced at $1.99, this app is an absolute must for any parent!!  If you need further proof, they also offer a Free version of Peekaboo Barn, and as an extra bonus, I have a promo code available for one lucky reader that comments on this article.  Now go a download Peekaboo barn, and if you don’t smile when you hear “piiiig!!” well…my good sir, you’re not living!

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A geek as a father….undermining the imagination?


With the weather finally starting to warm up, and thinking back to how the kids were last year, I’m beginning to wonder if I do more damage then good.  I’ll admit that I enjoy electronic toys, if I had more money I’d probably have more, heck I’m even considering getting an iPad, and its partially just for me to have, and another part, I think of how my kids could play with it and entertain them, and I seriously sit and question if that’s good or not.

I remember when I was a kid, when it warmed up, I’d go just walking around the woods, building forts, or just finding random things to do that would keep me busy until I was yelled for.  I remember always wanting to go play in the creek, building dams with rocks, or thinking and considering going back into the cave at Granny’s. (Something I have yet to do, but at 29 still considering it this summer).  I wonder if being as technology obsessed as I can be has rubbed off on them in a bad way.  I just don’t see the happiness or imagination in their eyes like I felt that I had.  It takes effort to get them to go outside and play, but even then, its standardized.  They aren’t using their imagination.  You ask them to play a certain way, or play like their doing something and they have a blank stair.  Their imagination is more like a trained muscle now, only knowing movements that its grown accustomed to.  If it doesn’t involve the Wii, or the Leapster, or something on TV, it just seems like they draw a blank.  The joys of imagining being a superhero turtle, or drawing your latest crazy space monster, or pretending that you’re building a fort to protect yourself from the invading army, all that has faded away it seems.  That don’t have that.

I mean sure, the argument could be made that its good that they have a chance to be associated with all this technology.  That it will benefit them down the road, as they get older and become more dependent on technology, but where do you draw the line to separate it being beneficial, and being harmful?  I see my little girl, playing with her Little People, and you can see, even at 10 months, her imagination is starting to fire up, while at 3 1/2, my son’s imagination is a spark, barely able to break past things he has already experienced or seen on TV, and at 8, Katlyn’s seems to be more that trained muscle, only having an imagination that is limited to things she’s already associated with, never being able to break outside the box.

As parents, you always want to give your children a happier childhood then you had, but having more isn’t always better.  I just feel that the numbing and the watering down of their imaginations is a harmful side effect of having a Dad that is a tech geek, and its something I feel is hurting them now rather then benefitting them.  I just hope I can find a way to rectify it, without causing more harm. 

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