New Round of Apple Goodies

Apple released a slew of new products today at MacWorld San Francisco.

iPod Shuffle
iPod ShuffleThis is the flash based iPod that has been rumored for a few weeks now. It’s no bigger than a pack of gum and it comes in two sizes: 512 MB ($99) and 1GB ($149). There is no screens since the iPod Shuffle is meant to do just that… shuffle. iTunes randomly chooses tunes from your library to place on the iPod and you just let ’em play randomly. It isn’t meant to be a replacement for the normal iPod where you can carry your entire library with you. It’s just meant to be for those who want to carry a few songs around to work out etc. With this release Apple jumps into the already very saturated flash-based mp3 player market.

Mac Mini
It’s just like a regular Mac only 1/10 the size… we will call it “Mini Mac” (pinky finger to the side of mouth). Mini MacThis is a pretty cool looking machine. It kind of reminds me of the G4 Cube only much smaller. It is only the about the size of a CD-ROM drive or an external hard drive, yet it is an entire Macintosh computer. Supposedly the box is smaller than the regular iPod box. Yes, with a box that small, there are going to be a few things missing. The keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor, etc. are not included with the Mac Mini. As Steve Jobs said, “it’s BYODMK. Bring your own display, mouse, and keyboard. The Mac Minis come in two flavors 1.25 GHz or 1.42 GHz PowerPC G4 processors, and will be priced at $499 and $599 respectively. That makes it the cheapest and smallest Mac to date. It makes me wonder if this will bring more people to the Apple platform now that the price is much more competitive with a PC.

iWork Suite
A new grouping of software for Apple is now called the iWork Suite. It includes a new version of Keynote with several updated features including export to flash and quite a few new templates. iWork also includes a new application called Pages which is supposedly the successor to AppleWorks which hasn’t been updated for a LONG time. I haven’t really had a chance to look through Pages yet. From what I’ve heard it’s a clean slick word processing/publishing program that does away with the clutter of MS Word. Supposedly it’s compatible with MS products, but I’ll believe that when I see it.ilife & iwork

iLife Updates
Apple updated all the applications in their iLife Suite. iPhoto 6 has a bunch of new features including RAW format support and several new editing features. It also includes more control over making photo books. iDVD 5 has a bunch of new templates. iMovie is now iMovie HD, which you guessed it, now supports Hi Definition video. They’ve also included a one-button movie edit that automatically imports your video into separate clips, adds titles, transitions and music, all in one step. Garageband 2 now has 8 tracks for recording and several audio filters and live fixes. And finally, iLife ’05 includes the latest version of iTunes which has seen a few updates outside of the iLife suite.

FinalCut Express HD
This is an updated to Apples’ low end version of FinalCut Pro. They’ve finally brought the HD to Express. FinalCut Pro received an update to HD almost back in April.

iPods in Cars
Apple also announced several more car manufacturers supporting iPod controls similar to BMW’s support announced a little while back. Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari will soon support iPod control from inside the car. Too bad I don’t have an iPod or a Ferrari!

It looks like a strong set of products from Apple. Like most things from Apple, the pictures rarely do them justice so I’m anxiously awaiting a chance when I can see them (and play with them) in person.

Using Google to Find Web/Security Cameras

Camera StillThere have been some neat Google tricks popping up lately (first seen on boingboing) to find web/security cams on the web. Some web cams that haven’t been secured have a specific syntax in their URL that Google has indexed and are searchable. Here are a few Google searches for cams:

Search 1
Search 2 (you can control these cams)
Search 3

SecurityFocus News has a short article about this recent find.

I got lost yesterday for about a half hour digging through these cams. They are pretty interesting to look through (even a little scary). Several people have put together collections of cameras online. Opentopia has a search that allows you to sort the cameras by country. Jesse from Bug Heaven put together a Python script to pull camera images from the search results. There is also this page from that is just a huge list of links to different cams.

Have fun… don’t get too lost in other places via the cams!

Technology to keep your plants alive

After returning from vacation to find my plant (lovingly named Bachi) near death… well, more near death than usual, I decided to order the Dr. Frog Plant Monitor. For only $5.99 you can get a doctor for your plants that let you know when they need water.

Don’t you wish your plants could talk back to you? They can if there is a doctor in the house. Simply insert Doctor Frogâ„¢ into the soil and it will alert you when your plant needs water. No more guess work or wondering. Doctor Frogâ„¢ constantly evaluates the moisture level of your plant’s soil. This friendly little frog will chirp and croak until your plant gets the water it needs. Your sleep will never be disturbed. A special light sensor ensures your plant’s watering schedule will be limited to daytime hours because Doctor Frogâ„¢ only makes house calls when he is exposed to light. Isn’t it time your plant had a check up?

Bachi will be so happy!

How about another weird holiday?

Happy Holifestigala! – America’s Holidayest Holiday

The official site comes with tradition, songs, recipes and e-cards to make your Holifestigala more holifestigalative.

When we get together to carve the Crab Rangoon, dress the pet Chinchilla and hang a Purple Tumbleweed over our heads, it must mean that the celebration of Holifestigala is upon us. This site teaches you traditions, songs, recipes – even how to send a postcard to a loved one to wish them a Happy Holifestigala too.

Need a last minute gift idea?

holiday techoryWith just a short while left before Christmas, there isn’t much time left for gift shopping. Luckily Google comes through yet again. You can “Give the Gift of Google” this year. They provide a download of all their software and a lovely image to print for the CD they’re burned on. They also provide a gift certificate [pdf] for a free download off all their tool (yes, they’re always free).

Another nice gift to give last minute without a lot of planning or $$ is the gift of a blog. Blogger provides instructions and a gift card on “How To Give The Last-Minute Gift of Blog.” It’s an easy way to give someone their own blog for the holidays.

Flickr’s Mappr!

Flickr, the super cool photo organization/sharing/tagging/viewing/playing site has opened up a beta of their new tool called mappr.

Mappr is an interactive environment for exploring place, based on the photos people take.

What it does (or will do eventually) is take the photos from Flickr and geographically map them to a U. S. map (the rest of the world coming soon). There is still discussion on how this will work and where the information for geographic placement will come from (zip code, address, city name tags, etc). It’s still in its very early stages, but definitely fun to play around with… a cool addition to Flickr.

More informatino about the project is avaialbe in Flickr’s Mappr Group.

Update: One of my photos is/was in the Christmas section of the drop-down – look at Iowa.

An Advert Calendar

No, not an Advent calendar, it’s an Advert calendar. Here are the 12 days of Christmas via holiday commercials from the 80’s.

we’re counting down the days till Christmas with a new holiday themed ad from the past reviewed each and every day — and yes, you can download every commercial featured! See what was hot in the years you’ve forgotten, covering everything from toys to food to giant novelty batteries.

via webzen

Yahoo Maps Now Show Traffic Information

Fortunately I don’t live in a large enough city where I have to worry about traffic too much, but if I did the new Traffic on Yahoo! Maps would sure come in handy. They currently cover about 45 US cities with live traffic information that includes traffic speed on certain roads and accidents and lane closures. Even if I did use this, I’d probably still get in an accident since I’d be trying to look at the traffic maps instead of the road.

My Trip to the Apple Store

AppleThis past Saturday I braved the holiday crowds madness at the Jordan Creek Mall in Des Moines. I was doing a little Christmas shopping but only really stopped at three stores in the entire mall. One of those stores happened to be the new Apple Store. This is the second Apple Store that I’ve been to. The other was one in a mall in Denver, CO. The Des Moines store wasn’t as big as that store, but it was pretty good sized.

I really like how they have everything set out in the open for you to play with. I was able to get some good one on one time with the new iPod Photo (which is one of the main reasons I wanted to stop by the store). The size of this beast is a little bigger than the regular 20Gb or 40Gb music iPod. It’s a little fatter and probably pretty close to the size of the original iPod. The color screen is nice and bright. I don’t know how it would look outside since I doubt they’d take too kindly to me “borrowing” one to run outside with it. The user interface which is hard to get a sense for from the online articles and pictures is just as slick as the other iPod’s. The music navigation is exactly the same (why would the change it) and the photo navigation works really nicely. The screen where they display a bunch of small thumnails coupled with the Apple scroll wheel is really nicely done. You can scroll really quickly and easily through a large collection of photos. The slideshow on the screen worked nicely. I would have liked to see how it looked (and navigated) on a TV screen but they didn’t have one hooked up to try. Another thing I would have liked to see was how it handled album art which is a new feature on this little beast. They didn’t have any track on it with album art, which is kind of surprising since this is one of the new features one would think they’d want to show off. I asked one of the friendly folks wandering around in Apple shirts (there were a ton of employees in the store!) and he said I wasn’t the only person to ask that, but really couldn’t help me since he hadn’t seen how that works either. I would have also liked to see its integration with iPhoto or the My Pictures directory on a Windows machine, but I couldn’t find a setup for that either (there may have been one and I just missed it – there were A LOT of people there).

All in all, I think Apple pulled it off again. I know they keep saying that they aren’t going to make a video iPod, but I really don’t think it’s that far off. I agree that the current portable audio/video devices out there are big and bulky and awkward, but in time I think Apple will bring one to the market. If it’s anything like their previous iPod’s, it’ll look nice and it’ll just work!

New Magazine from the Publishers of Wired

Wired Magazine is launching a trial edition of a new magazine called “Test” which is basically an entire magazine of the review section of Wired. I’m an avid Wired reader, and their review section being one of my favorite parts, I’m looking forward to this new mag. It is supposedly being released in a limited edition to newsstands around the first of the year. If you aren’t able to find the print version, they’ve made available a PDF download of the first issue.