iPhone AIM App: How to switch accounts.

iPhone AIM AppThe newly released AIM client for the iPhone is pretty cool, but it still needs some improvements to be a killer app. One issue I’ve come across is how to switch between various accounts. There doesn’t seem to be a way to store multiple AIM logins and switch between them quickly. The only way this seems possible to is edit your login infomation. The hardest part was figuring out where to edit the settings. This is because your AIM settings are stored inthe iPhone’s Settings page rather than within the AIM app. So here is how to switch accounts using the iPhone AIM App:

  1. Click the “Home” button
  2. Tap the “Settings” icon
  3. Scroll down to the “AIM” section and tap it
  4. Edit the “Screenname” and “Password” to match the account you want to log in
  5. Tap “Settings” at the top to return to the Settings screen
  6. Click the “Home” button to return to your Home Screen
  7. Tap the “AIM” account to launch the app

That’s the only way I’ve found to switch accounts in the iPhone AIM App. Hopefully AIM will update their app to facilitate this process, and hopefully they will keep it within the AIM App. It seems silly to me that you have to quit the AIM App to edit your settings. It would be better if all AIM settings could be edited directly within the app.

Debunking the iPhone Total Cost of Ownership meme (again).

3G iPhoneWhen the 1st gen iPhone came out, I got annoyed at reviews proclaiming that it cost too much when you factor in the cost of the voice/data plan (see my previous post). I figured that with the release of the 3G iPhone (and its cost being cut in half) would stop the usage of this ridiculous argument, but I was wrong. It seems now even more people are complaining about to TCO of the iPhone over a 2-year plan. So here I am ranting again against the TCO argument, using similar examples in the hopes that people will consider them (highly doubtful):

Every negative review just loooooooooves to point out that despite the fact that the price has been slashed to $199/$299, it ends up costing the same (or more) when you factor in the AT&T voice & data plans over the span of the required 2-year contract. That is a valid point. The problem I have with using this point is this: since when did service and residual costs become a negative point against any product? Lets try a few examples:

How about that 32″ LCD HDTV you just spent $700 on? Great price! Those used to cost $1500 last year! But wait.. you forgot to include the two years of service from your cable/satellite company. After all, without that, your shiny new TV is basically useless. So lets do some math here, based on my cable bill from Cox Communications last month:

Cox Limited Basic $12.95
Cox Expanded Service $34.00
Cox Digital Cable Service $10.00
HBO $11.00
Cox Digital Video Recorder Service $9.95
Digital Receiver – DVR/HD $5.25
TOTAL $83.15/month

So on top of the $700 for the TV itself, we have an additional $83.15/month to make it useful, for a whopping total cost of $2,695.60 to purchase that new TV. And that’s not even including taxes/fees charged by Cox or the electricity to power the thing. So why don’t people mention this in TV reviews? I can see it now: “Yeah $700 is a good price, but after 2 years of running the thing, it actually costs $2,695.60!” Of course that is a valid point, but the problem is: no one ever makes it. So why make it against the iPhone?

Lets try another example, one that is all the more relevant in today’s world of inflated fuel prices: Cars. Nowadays people pay more attention to fuel costs, but when purchasing a car, do people actually do the math and calculate how much it will cost to operate a car over a 5-year lifespan? No. Do they include oil changes and maintenance estimates? No. The irony here is that on most sticker prices on car lots you will in fact see the fuel estimates to operate the car over X number of years. But most people don’t even consider residual costs when purchasing a car. So why should we consider them when purchasing an iPhone?

And now the most ridiculous example of them all: other phones. People are using the TCO argument against the iPhone as if all other phones don’t have the same issue. What can you get a RAZR for now, like $9.99? I remember when it cost more than an iPhone. Perspective, people! Lets see some intellectual honesty here and admit that it actually will cost you at least $968.79 ($9.99 + $39.99 * 24) for that $9.99 RAZR. Where’s the outrage there? All phones are subject to the same issue, so if you’re going to argue against the TCO of the iPhone, you’ve got to do the same for all other phones, including the iPhone “killers.”

It seems to me that the haters are grasping at illegitimate straws to make their anti-iPhone arguments. First they complain that it costs too much, then when the price is slashed in half they complain that it’s not actually cheaper. I am in no way stating that the iPhone is the perfect phone — far from it — but it is a damn fine piece of engineering (both hardware and software), and well worth the costs in my opinion. And that’s including the 2-year contract fee. So there.

The 4th Leg.

What happened to the 4th leg?

So today Apple unveiled iPhone 2.0. The whole Internets is abuzz about how much it sucks or how much it rules or how we wish technology could improve faster or how we hate it when it does. For some reason, my mind wasn’t really on iPhone 2.0 today. It was on something that went completely unmentioned on the Internets, but was subtly referenced to in the keynote today. I normally don’t write this kinda stuff on this blog, but it’s late, I’m tipsy, and I wanted to put my thoughts down on the record so that I could come back 10 years later and see how right or how wrong I was. I’ll laugh either way. So what is this mysterious item I’ve been thinking about all day?

The 4th leg.

The Jobs likes to talk about Apple’s 4 legs. He’s mentioned it a couple of times in prior keynotes – how Apple desires to have 4 legs. The Mac platform was 1 leg. You know, the hardware. Computers. Oh and the software that runs them – OSX. The 2nd leg is iTunes and the mighty iPod – generally speaking, Music. The 3rd leg is iPhone – headliner at WWDC today. In the past, The Steve called AppleTV the 4th leg. The coveted living room. Wars for control of your living room have been waged since the beginning of living rooms themselves. AppleTV was to be Apple’s front-line assault on your living room, but so far has been kept back as a “hobby,” in Jobs’ own words. Disrespectfully, today Jobs all but disowned the 4th leg – instead showing in his slideshow a 3-legged stool sans AppleTV.

So where did the 4th leg go? It hasn’t really gone anywhere. It’s been incubating as a “hobby” while the 3rd leg finishes getting sanded and polished, prior to its final coat of lacquer. I own an AppleTV and have a love/hate relationship with it. Its potential is the most frustrating thing. It has so much potential and would revolutionize entertainment if Apple would put as much into it as they have the iPod and iPhone.

My theory is that Apple is, in fact working on AppleTV, but in a roundabout way. All evidence points to an easy installation for the 4th leg when it is ready. Why? Because the majority of the work is being done by the prior 3 legs.

  1. Leg 1 – Mac Platform – Guess what all 4 legs of the chair run? OSX. Guess what’s coming in Snow Leopard (also announced today) sometime next year? A smaller OS. How did they do this? Apple engineers learned a lot from leg #3 (iPhone) by trying to cram OSX onto a computer that fits in your pocket. Who else benefits from these improvements to the OS? AppleTV.
  2. Leg 2 – iTunes/iPod – iTunes and its vast distribution network was built to support leg #2 (iPod). It is still being refined and improved, and guess who is in line to reap the benefits of a sleek, optimized, well performing distribution network? AppleTV.
  3. Leg 3 – iPhone – Not only did iPhone bring optimizations and improvements to Leg 1, it has also given cloud computing the shot that it needs to become a reality. Mobile life spawns too many headaches revolving around syncing data, losing devices containing all of your contacts, and incompatabilities between formats. In comes MobileMe (me.com) to save the day! But wait, there’s more! You know how annoying it is to type in a movie title with the little AppleTV clicker thing? Apple TV needs a keyboard, but nobody wants to tarnish the elegant design of the Little White Box. Why not use you iPhone’s touchpad typing abilities to control your AppleTV? While you’re at it, use your iPhone to set up your AppleTV to download the latest episode of Planet Mars from your desk at the office. So what do the past 2 years of development for the iPhone and neglecting of the AppleTV directly benefit? AppleTV.

AppleTV will neatly slide in as the 4th leg. All 4 legs will work seamlessly together, thanks to the newly launched MobileMe service. All of our data, and essentially our lives, will someday live in “the cloud,” the ever-present virtual storage space in the sky. The MP3 you purchase from iTunes will be saved into the cloud where it is automatically pushed out to your other devices – your work laptop, your home laptop, your home desktop, your phone, and yes, your AppleTV. All of your emails, your contacts, your calendars, photos, bookmarks, maps, and movies, will always be present on all of your devices at all times. No longer will your laptop/desktop/phone be storage devices for your data, they will merely be interfaces to it. And your iPhone will be the interface to the interfaces!

Nobody seems to be noticing the forest because they’re too focused on the trees. Nobody is noticing the chair because they’re too focused on the legs.

The worlds of separate computers, phones, music players, televisions, living rooms… hell, even life itself, will be merged into one, and Apple (and it’s soon-to-be-polished AppleTV) will be at the forefront of this revolution.

Buckle up.

iPod stuck with Apple logo on screen

My 3G iPod got stuck with the Apple logo on its screen. The way to fix this is to put the iPod into Disk Mode and restore it from there. Here is how:

  1. Reset the iPod by holding down the Menu and Play buttons simultaneously.
  2. As soon as it reboots, hold down the Fast Forward and Rewind buttons simultaneously.
  3. Your iPod will now be in “Disk Mode” and you should be able to plug it into your computer, open up iTunes, and restore your iPod.

iPod does not appear in iTunes.

I have an old 3G iPod, and all of a sudden it would not show up in iTunes when connected to my computer via Firewire or USB. It did show up in Finder. After some research, the only way I found to fix this is to format it using Apple’s Disk Utility. WARNING: Doing this will wipe everything off your iPod. You won’t be able to recover the files off your iPod, but at least you’ll be able to use it with iTunes again.

  1. Connect your iPod you to your Mac.
  2. Open up Disk Utility (Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility).
  3. Select your iPod in the left-hand window pane.
  4. Click the “Erase” tab, accept all defaults, then click the “Erase” button.

Your iPod will now be re-formatted, and you should be able to plug it into iTunes and Restore the updated iPod software.

UPDATE: For PCs, you may be able to do something similar with Windows’ Disk Manager. I haven’t tried though, so I can’t verify, but I bet it would work on Windows too.

Max OS X Leopard – Disappointed (but not how you think)

“New Macs will come with Leopard Pre-Installed…” – Apple’s Leopard Guided Tour Video

So today is the release of Apple’s next generation version of OS X: Leopard. I had planned on purchasing an iMac a couple months ago, but decided to delay my purchase until the release of Leopard. So I go down to the Apple store (which was PACKED) and proceeded to purchase a shiny new iMac. Excited to try out Leopard, I rip it out of the box and turn it on. And to my disappointment, it boots into Tiger. WTF!? I delayed buying a new iMac for Leopard and I get… TIGER?!!? Turns out Leopard isn’t pre-installed on my iMac. Apple simply threw a Leopard DVD into the box expecting me to sit through a manual upgrade. At the end of the day I don’t really care, but here I am ranting on my blog (from my Windows machine) instead of playing with my brand new Leopard-powered iMac. Ugh!

I always thought that Macs were supposed to just work! What’s with all this manual tinkering and upgrading and waiting and slowly-moving progress bar watching? For a minute there I thought I had bought a new PC running Windows… Shame on you Apple.

iPhone haters: Quit calculating Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

One argument I see people using against the iPhone is the cost. Granted, $499-$599 is a bit pricey, but what really gets me angry is when people use the flawed argument that the total cost of owning an iPhone is “$2,600-$3,200” if you factor in the cost of the service contract. While that may be true, so what? Lets use some analogies:

  • That new car you bought wasn’t $20,000, it was $200,000. You forgot to factor in the cost of fuel and insurance over the life of the car!
  • That new computer you bought wasn’t $999, it was $10,000. You forgot to factor in the price of your ISP and electrical bills!
  • That new flat-screen TV you just bought wasn’t $1,200, it was $8,000. You forgot to factor in the price of your cable box and service over the next 2 years!
  • You really should stop drinking beer, it’ll cost you $5,000 over the next couple years!

See how ridiculous those arguments sound? Arguing that the iPhone will cost $3k is just as ridiculous. While the claim may be true, no one truly considers ancillary costs when making a purchase like this. It’s a disingenuous and dishonest argument used by people who are trying to find fault with this wonderful new device.

Not to mention the fact that no one is producing similar costs for rival phones in their arguments. I wonder what the TCO for a Crackberry is? I’d like to see that number compared to the iPhone’s. Maybe then we can start a decent dialogue about the iPhone vs. its rivals when it comes to cost.