31 August 2007

Apple Music Event for September 5th: Full Speculation

I recently included a smaller speculative piece on this topic alogside information on updates to my rig, but I have updated news from my various sources around the internet and as such I can update and expand that speculation.

Things I expect may be announced as of August 31st:

Updated September fourth: Added new rumoured feature for iPod Touch
  • iPod Touch: A Full-Screen, Video-Capable iPod similar to iPhone with some iPod 5 design cues. OS X operating system resembling that of iPhone. 60 (Or possibly 80) and 160 GB for the same prices as iPod 5. May or may not sport WiFi, I expect not. Screen resolution identical to iPhone (320 by 480 in Portrait mode, 480 by 320 in landscape). Due to iPhone similarity, CoverFlow is a no-brainer. Said to feature some form of digital radio.
  • iPod 6: A Video-Capable iPod similar in functionality to iPod 5 but with Nano design cues. Shorter than previous models. Probably 8 and 16 GB of storage. OS X based operating system functionally similar to previous versions, but with more visual design elements such as a larger focus on artwork. Also expected to feature CoverFlow. Same screen resolution as iPod 5, but marginally smaller screen. Priced higher than top-end Nano, lower than iPod Touch 60/80.
  • iPod Nano 3: Similar to previous model. Uses new OS outlined under iPod 6. No video capability. Double capacities - 4/8/16 GB - (Maybe - capacities may be kept the same to differentiate from iPod XXX but this is unlikely), same prices.
  • 2 GB iPod Shuffle: Self-explanatory. Same prices. (Product) Red version as well.
  • iTunes 8: iTunes is on an annual release schedule as far as integers go and Apple will be keen to forget the buggy nightmare of iTunes 7. Likely to integrate devices and content more closesly. May be renamed iTunes '08 in line with iLife naming scheme. Some speculation it may be fully named iTunes Media Centre '08, making it the premierre multiplatform Media Centre application. As such, expect Back Row/Front Row 2 interface for this capability (AppleTV's interface). Also to include ring tone facility for iPhone and possibly more editing options - think of it as iMovie '08 to GarageBand's FinalCut Express.
  • Beatles on iTunes
  • New line of iPod games for iPod Touch and iPhone. May feature some Nintendo properties.
That, I think you'll agree, would constitute the single largest iPod & iTunes announcement since iPod 1 itself. iPod is long overdue an update and if iTunes Video downloads are to take off, more than one player at a greater capacity range is needed.

Further, the media experience on the computer needs to be improved to surpass competitors like Microsoft's Media Centre PC for Vista, hence, integrate Front Row into iTunes and make it a Media Centre application. This would be even more useful if Apple saw fit to support TV Tuners in the software - users could record shows to watch on their iPods, making them more useful.

Meanwhile, The Beatles announcement is a no-brainer. We all know it's coming on Wednesday, that's barely speculation. It's barely news. More interesting is the Games point - the current line of games are medicore at best and if Apple wishes for games on iTunes to matter at all, they simply must expand the line to support iPhone and iPod Touch as well as allow iPod XXX to support the legacy titles.

So anyway, there's my speculation. let's hope I'm right about some of it.

Hopefully all of it.

Jens Out

Update: Expect a comprehensive review of the event on the Fifth which will be updated as soon as a video stream is available.

30 August 2007

Upgrades Are Awesome

Seriously, upgrading your stuff is the best thing you can do. I've already told you about my upgrade to Vista, but today, I've done a little hardware upgrading.

First off, there's my new mouse. It's a Trust XpertClick TK-4300p. What's cool is, it's both your standard desktop mouse and a prsenter mouse.

It features a trackball for freehand use which doubles as a scroll ball when in Mouse Mode. Very nice. It also has a laser pointer and rechargeable batteries.

It's like a tiny god.

But, even more like a god is the HP w2207. It's a 22" Widescreen Glossy display running at 1680 by 1050. Damn it all, if it isn't the best screen I have ever seen. Everything on it looks gorgeous - especially Vista's smooth, glassy visual elements.

Other useful features are built-in speakers, reducing desktop clutter, and 2 USB ports which I have a WiFi dongle and (soon) a DTT Tuner hooked into - we're ditching my TV in favour of the HP. The TV in my room is dodgy anyway and this screen is just gorgeous.

As if these things didn't make today seem enough like Christmas, Apple finally added videos to the UK iTunes store. Currently, we have some ABC and Disney Channel hits (As well as Playhouse Disney shows for any of you who have kids) as well as some Nickelodeon, Paramount Comedy and MTV shows.


It's not a huge selection yet, but it's a start. It's £1.89 an episode.

Importantly, this is yet more reason to believe that Apple will be unveiling one or more new Video capable iPods at their event on the fifth.

Here are my picks for that event:

  • iPod Touch - A Full-Screen Video iPod with iPhone Similarities. Double current capacities of 5G if HDD or 32GB and 64GB if Flash, same prices
  • iPod Nano With Video - Refreshed, OS X-based software which works similarly to current software, but makes more use of artwork (Including CoverFlow) and uses some Leopard/iPhone style visual cues. Double current capacities, same prices.
  • Increased Capacity iPod Shuffle, and a (Product) Red version, same price - maybe slightly lower
  • iTunes 8 with some crazy new feature and including Beatles on the iTunes Store
Jens Out

25 August 2007

High School Musical 2

I just previewed the music from the sequel to Disney's smash hit High School Musical. High School Musical 2's not showing until next month over here, but it's alreadys et records Stateside.

Anyway, the music. I gotta say, I loved the music of the original, but I felt it was artificialy bolstered by a reprisal and the Album by a couple of "alternative versions". The music in this sequel is almost all the equal of the best of the original. And there's more of it.

From the upbeat "What time is it?", a catch number as good as or better than the original's "Stick to the Status Quo" and "Breaking Free" to the spectacularly fun "You Are the Music in Me", High School Musical 2 is full of hits.

But it's not just the "catchy" numbers that are fantastic, "Gotta Go My Own Way" is superb, better than "When there was Me and You" from the original in every way.

Another standout is "All For One", a number similar in content to the original's "We're all in this together". It is equally as fun and catchy as its predecessor.

To summarise, whatever you thought of High School Musical (I myself thought it was delightful), High School Musical 2 is both its musical superior and a standout musical in modern times.

At least give it a try.

In other Disney news, further to my plan to seek to become a Cast Member at a Disney Store, I am considering starting a Disney Blog, partner to this one, about working for Disney and Disney news. Let me know if you like the idea.

Jens Out

24 August 2007

Calendar Apps

Just a quick note right now.

Well I finally decided to make use of a calendar app with Vista's Windows Calendar. I have previously avoided Calendar apps, despite making use of a similar function on my PDA.

But there were a few things which, I realised, I needed to remind myself of next week. So I decided to use the App. And now, I think I'm hooked.

If I can get my PDA to sync to it, I'll be especially pleased.

Jens Out

23 August 2007

Microsoft's Windows Vista

Hot damn. I like it.

It's a marked improvement over the aging XP. It feels faster, smoother, sleeker. It looks better, has better ideas, it's more logical.

Ignore the naysayers, this is the best Windows version yet. And it's not just the eye candy. It's just got some ideas that are simply better. The way Windows Explorer works, Sidebar (Superior to Google Desktop's version, sorry) and more.

Truly a much needed improvement.

I'm not going to do a full reeview. I'm just sounding out my thoughts. To summarise, it's better in every meaningful way than XP get to it ASAP.

But still, avoid Basic like the plague.

Seriously.

Recently I've been playing Halo 2 Vista (Not on this PC, my brother's). It's a great way to pass the time and grab some easy Achievements. I think it's going to take my Gamerscore over the One Thousand mark. Awesome.

I've been thinking about Disney a lot recently - as I am wont to do - I've come up with some ideas to revitalise the TV and Parks and Resorts divisions. They're pretty radical though.

But, that's sort of who I am.

Reminds me...Party planning...Must get it done. But I am so bad at it. I can see what I want in my mind...Yet I can't articulate it.

Bah. Never mind. I'll let you go now.

Jens out.

MTV Ditches Microsoft for...REAL?

You couldn't make this shit up. CES 06, Microsoft and MTV launch this "amazing new" digital music store, to compete with Apple's dominant iTunes offering. Named, horrifically, Urge, it was the flagship store in the PlaysForSure family, and thus Microsoft's flagship store.

Then, in an uncharacteristic act, Microsoft ditch the platform system they had used for years (Think Windows PCs) and moved to the Apple, vertically integrated model, with Zune. Zune is top-down Microsoft. Store, software and the hardware player.

Basically, they'd screwed MTV over.

So now, MTV - presumably smarting over this snub - have decided that Urge is no longer in their best interests either.

They've hopped into bed with Real and its lacklustre Rhapsody store.

I mean, seriously...Real? You might as well just sell a 3 by 5 card with "MTV Music Download" written on it for all the use it will get and sales you'll make.

Media executives are idiots.

Jens Out

PS: Should any Disney executives be reading, you are excluded from the above statement. First into bed with iTunes. Good move. By the way, I have an extensive knowledge of your company and an uncommon skill at business. If you need someone to run something (Especially something in the UK) and don't mind taking a risk, look me up ;)

22 August 2007

iPhone Europe: A Credible Finale

Citing a report in the Financial Times, Apple Insider is reporting on what sounds like an entirely believable situation with carriers.

We already know that the iPhone's EU launch this year will only be into a few key markets. The report suggests that these will include (And may be limited to) the UK, France and Germany.

T-Mobile we already know is doing Germany (Despite no confirmation, it's the worst kept secret in the whole affair), France we had been hearing would be on Orange which this report confirms and the UK will be on O2 as I predicted and hoped for.

The announcement is expected to come a the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, which runs August 31st through September 5th. This is a far more likely time frame than Apple's own European event, which is later and which I expect will deal more with iPod and iTunes - specifically, I expect them to finally roll out better video content on European iTunes stores.

Jens Out

19 August 2007

Six

Recently, I have been teasing you with Six, a Top-Secret project being worked on by the team behind The New GizzedInc (And part of the original GizzedInc team) and also the founders of the WiiDS Main Site Project.

Here is the announcement:

Late last year, I began to think about how gamers often group together in sub-communities. This leads to the kinds of disagreements and unfriendliness the internet is renowned for.

Even sites pledging inclusiveness often end up fostering the opposite. And much of this is expressed in content. Further, these sites are often selfish. They refuse to allow users to attempt to get other users to look at their sites, allowing only links in signatures - and with thinly veiled contempt.

Meanwhile, the greater internet was moving towards large, inclusive communities and also community content sharing sites.

After thinking for a while, I came up with an idea which I intimated to my partner in Web Endeavours, KingCDR (Our network's Head Developer and Chief Technologist), and which I will now reveal to you.

Six is the codename for a Gamers' Community site which has inclusion as its focus. Further, it is a community content sharing site dealing with content related to gaming.

At it's centre, Six gives users their own personal page (Currently codenamed "Places") on which they have a blog, links to content they like and links to their friends. But the page will also contain links to portals for that users content.
Content hostable by users of Six will include Pictures (Intended mainly for screenshots and avatars, though photos and other images are fine), Video (Intended mainly for distributing footage of games - such as speed runs and showing off exceptional moves, but which we hope users willl find many gaming-related uses for on their own), Audio (Podcasts. We hope to allow users to subscribe on the site and be prompted with and listen to new podcasts they have subscribed to when they log in) and Games.

Yes, games. Users may upload Flash games they have created to play on the site as well as downloads of homebrew games on platforms - hopefully for any open/homebrew capable platform, including niches.

Of course, we will also offer a forum. We are unlikely to use the system of having forums tailoring to many individual needs and instead once again put a focus on inclusiveness, using more general boards.

Further, we will have a unique User Rating system, as well as ratings and comments for all content - including Blog posts. Other potential features are game ratings and reviews from users, chatting and more.

And the future could hold more. I'll leave it up to you to speculate on that.
I'll take your questions. In the Comments below, or via E-Mail

Paul "Jensonb" Douglas

08 August 2007

At last

In another move to be filed under the "at last" category, Apple has finally updated the UK version of their website with the design previously given to their US site after the Ketnote Presentation at WWDC '07.



I've been getting very agitated waiting for them to get around to this (Because let's face it, the new design is gorgeous) and so I'm delighted they finally did it.

I've looked into buying one of the new keyboards. They're at the price I expected, but the Apple Online Store makes no mention of PC compatibility, which it does with the Mighty Mouse.

I'm slightly concerned. I want that keyboard for my desktop. A lot. But it (My desktop) is a PC.

I'm gonna have to do some more research.

Jens Out

07 August 2007

Bedeep Beep Beep

Well a few thinks got updated today. My Wii and Apple's iMac (As well as their iLife and iWork software suites). First, I'll deal with these in that order, then we have some other things to talk about.

The Wii update adds a couple of useful things, such as a clock on the Wii Menu screen - above the date. My favourite part of the updated though is to the Forecast and News Channels. The News Channel's boot screen now displays a slection of current headlines as does its icon. The Forecast Channel, not to be outdone, now similarly displays the current weather status for your location on its icon.

The new iMac is gorgeous and I appreciate the use of a glossy screen which is also glass as opposed to plastic. Think iPhone.

Of particular note is the iMac's new razor thin aluminum keyboard, which borrows the profile of the MacBook. I love this keyboard, and I'm seriously considering grabbing one. It also lends credence to the idea that the MacBook Pros - which I suspect will be updated at MacWorld in January - will be receiving a similar keyboard.

iLife '08 is an update which is, in essence, exactly as I had previously speculated (Not here) that it would be. Apple have updated all Apps in line with progression and have, as I predicted, added superior photo editing facilities.

iWork '08 is also updated as I expected. Pages and Keynote have had some features added and, as I speculated, a new Spreadsheet App has been added - which is called, as I had previously heard rumoured, Numbers.

Numbers means that iWork combined with iLife is now a perfectly reasonable replacement for Microsoft Office for most users. I'm struggling to think of an application Office gives you which is not catered for by iLife, iWork or a built-in app to OS X and which will be used by the majority of users. If you can think of one, let me know.

Now then, my next order of business is to tell you the following things:

  • Do not use the BBC iPlayer. It's barely functional and backdoors your connection for P2P facilities even when you are not aware of that.
  • Use BT Vision only with caution. We've had nothing but trouble
On a lighter note, I'm hearing that the new iPod revision is due next month or late this month. It is said to sport a 16GB Flash Drive and is (Obviously) still a video player. This 16GB news might not make many of you happy, but bear in mind that this means 32GB and 64GB models will follow. Possibly sometime next year.

This 16GB model will be great for people like me who like music, but don't have particularly much of it, but also would like to take some videos with us. Wonderfully, this new iPod's arrival in September makes it a perfect candidate for my main 16th Birthday gift.

Jens Out

02 August 2007

Backwards Compatability

As some of you may know, I plan to get a PLAYSTATION 3 in the new year, once I have an XBOX 360 (The Halo 3 Edition most likely). The reason being, there are a few games I want on it (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Metal Gear Online and Warhawk) and one movie I simply must own in HD which is going to Blu-Ray Disc (The Simpsons Movie).

Now, you may have guessed from the above games that I like Metal Gear. And I do. A lot. So I went to check the backwards compatibility of a PLAYSTATION 3 with the PS2 entries. Metal Gear Solid 2 will play fine, good. I have both versions of that.

But by far my favourite Metal Gear game of all time is Metal Gear Solid 3. Subsistence will play with "Noticeable Issues".

I have the original, Snake Eater, only. It is not listed.

I'm extremely annoyed. I do not want to have to pull out a PlayStation 2 every time I want to play my favourite entry in one of my favourite series. It may well be that I like Metal Gear Solid 4 better, but it doesn't matter. I will still have a desire to play 3 again, and unless they remake it for another platform (Say, Wii, *hint*hint*) I will have to plug another console into my TV.

Which will be no mean feat. By the time I have a PLAYSTATION 3 (I will by then have a 26" HDTV), I will have the Wii, an XBOX 360, the PLAYSTATION 3 itself and possibly one more product to plug in. The final product is a DVD Recorder into which I can plug the Wii, freeing up one SCART socket...But I can't guarantee the ports will be there - it may be that I use the port on the DVD Recorder for recording FreeView.

I could plug the PlayStation 2 in via Composite, but can you imagine the mess? Cables trailing from all sides of the TV, 5 or 6 Mains plugs...This would all be much simpler if Sony had put a PlayStation 2 inside the PLAYSTATION 3 like they were supposed to.

This went on a fair bit longer than I expected, but it really Grinds my Gears™. Anyway, I'll shut up if Konami put Metal Gear Solid 3 on Wii.

Jens Out.

01 August 2007

iPhone Europe: O2 Basically Fails to Deny It

So the UK Hackersphere has found some source code on Carphone Warehouses site which says O2 has the iPhone - essentially. In response, O2's UK CEO (Peter Erskine) has just barely managed to not confirm it without denying it. And I for one am still delighted it's them, even if this is like the fifth time we've heard this rumour and it's getting kind of old and come on Apple and O2 just freaking announce this and put me out of my misery it's supposed to be out by Autumn and you need to start the hype machine in summer if you really want to sell this thing.

Ahem. Sorry. Anyway, the man in question was quoted saying:
"We're excited about this product and we certainly hope to be marketing it later this year when it launches."

Now, whilst he doesn't confirm that O2 has it, he has revealed that he is privy to the fact that it is launching in the UK this year. As a fact. Which is good news, if entirely expected.

And it also points to him being inside the deal.

Six: The Reveal Is Dated

After kicking the grassroots campaign for GizzedInc Network's upcoming project, codenamed "Six", on this blog with curious and slightly other-wordly post regarding the codename, I can reveal that I will finally be spilling some of the beans as to what Six is on this Blog's 1st Birthday. August 21st.

What I can tell you right now is that Six is a website and geeks will love it. It draws on some new ideas, some that have been used before, and focuses them all for maximum impact.

KingCDR, GizzedInc's Chief Technologist and Developer has completed the R&D phase of development already and is currently working towards a base-functionality internal Alpha of the site for testing at least over the rest of the Summer and Autumn. We plan a Private, Invite-Only Beta, as well as a more public Applied-For Beta, likely to be held in Early- to Mid-2008.

I can say very little else at present, without spoiling the surprise for August 21st. It's going to be great. Trust me.

Jens Out.