My Beatles: Nirvana

One of the biggest music announcements of the year was the fact that The Beatles were finally being offered on iTunes after an all too lengthy and foresight-less protest against digital distribution, I found myself re-celebrating their entire catalog. But with this, I realized as a 31 year old who spent his “teenage angst has paid off well” years largely in the ’90s that Nirvana was my Beatles. Not everyone gets to have their Beatles. If you ask me, there really is not much room left to “revolutionize” music anymore. Sure there will be countless great songs written in the future — they might even make some money — but the way the music industry has changed since Nirvana, it is much harder for the “good” music to shine through. Believe me, I hope I am wrong about this. Consider what Kurt Cobain was trying to do when introducing the Meat Puppets to the mainstream. He was trying to show millions of his fans what inspired him and that you could not hear it on mainstream radio. And is that not always the case? Sure, things have changed with the internet. It exploded just a short time after Cobain ended his life. But we still see issues with some of the best rising to the top. I suppose Kanye West sampling and befriending Bon Iver for his latest album is today’s parallel of that in some weird way?

Regardless, if you look at the state of music today, what do you see? I’ll tell you what I see. Overproduced mass marketed cookie cutter music where even the “new” stuff sounds like it was concocted and packed up in some Linda Perry pop factory just waiting for a new voice to sing it (Ke$ha or Katy Perry?). I cannot deny that these songs are not catchy and hooky as hell, but there’s no revolution in them. It’s all a tired formula that we have grown quite tired of and used to whether we know it or not and it’s been in place since the height of boy and girl bandism, if you ask me.

There is a lack of originality, I tell you. This originality only seems to be present in bands and artists who are able to do their own thing (Band of Horses, Coheed and Cambria) and also seem to be the ones who have to tour their asses off to be successful because people are too busy buying the mass produced glitter.

Flashback to 1991: compact discs were just becoming popular. They still came in longboxes (which wasn’t a bad thing). I remember walking through my local Caldor department store and drifting to the new compact disc section. I came across three CDs that caught my eye. Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous,” Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls,” and a box that was all blue with a naked baby swimming for a dollar bill on it. At that moment, I opted for the one that had the weirdest artwork. I went with Nirvana. I will note, as a music lover, I eventually ended up with the other two CDs as well as both were very good albums. If you put them into today’s pop mix, they would be considered instant classics and not mass produced cookie cutter albums although done by huge artists. They still had some originality and honesty. Maybe it was because technology was not as advanced as it is now? No overly done autotune, that’s for sure.

But back to Nirvana. I will NEVER forget the first time I listened to that CD all the way through. It was a cold rainy late fall afternoon. I popped the disc into my Goldstar all-in-one stereo. Thinking back, what a good sounding little stereo system that was. It even had a record player on top. I remember hearing those songs for the first time and just being blown away. I had not heard anything like that in my life. And apparently, as history goes, I was not alone. Not by a longshot.

The funniest thing to happen was that as “Something In The Way” was finishing I was almost asleep, as if Nirvana took me through their new idea of what music should sound like and offered up a different kind of lullaby to me. No, it was not very much like “Good Night” from The White Album, but more of a somewhat sad inward looking tale, perfect for a rainy day. And it managed to put me to sleep. Some time later, I was harshly awoken to the most creepy guitar sound I had ever heard, but at the time I did not know what it was. I thought my stereo was possessed. I thought the devil himself had taken over my Goldstar and was trying to possess me. I literally ran out of the room scared. Then, I realized, it was a song. I ran back into my room and it was still on track 12. How could this be? My Goldstar was a little low grade and didn’t have a spot for the track time, just track number. I could not for the life of me figure out what exactly happened, but somehow there was a “secret track” on this damned CD. Needless to say, the track was “Endless Nameless” and it scared the hell out of me the first time around. Other than that I LOVED the song. This was the birth of “secret tracks” on compact discs. Just one small part of the game changing that was Nirvana. Since there really was no Internet to speak of in that day, it was interesting to note that I had told my mother about what had happened to me. She found an article in the newspaper not too long after about this secret track and it was explained for the masses.

Nirvana was my Beatles. Sure, you cannot top The Beatles. They were first. They made the music that is the foundation for everything that followed, including Nirvana. But, at that time in the nineties, there was a staleness in pop music. Another way to put it, there was actually room for a new genre in pop music. How many times can you say that? Sure there are other genres that are out there, like ska or funk, but how often can a genre actually be created and added to the mainstream all at the same time? It happened with Nirvana and the genre was called “alternative,” a now stapled offshoot of “rock” and “pop.”

Nirvana, Nevermind, and a slew of other alternative acts began to take this nation and the world by storm. Record labels began signing acts like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains to contracts because they were from Seattle and they had that alternative or “grunge” sound one way or the other. Instantaneously, radio, fashion, and music was changed forever. You would start to hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on pop stations that generally only played stuff like Michael Jackson or Prince. WKCI in Hamden, CT played it, which was weird to me to tell you the truth. It was everywhere. It was a phenomenon. It really was.

It could not have come at a more perfect time in my life personally. I was 12 years old on the verge of adulthood and had a lot of that confusion and anger many youngsters at that age deal with. I was looking for an identity. I sure found it with Nirvana. Raggy jeans, weird sweaters, and flannel shirts became all the rage. I supplied myself with enough Nirvana posters and t-shirts to last a lifetime. It wasn’t all roses, either. I was ridiculed and made fun of because I liked this weird new music. Looking back, it’s fun to know that even the most popular of stereotypical high school kids ended up liking Nirvana. Every last one of ’em would probably tell you that they liked them all along, but we know better, and that’s enough for me.

While this new music did not initially catch on with the mainstream, it became a movement. It was a movement that had been compared to only three major movements in music: Elvis. The Beatles. Michael Jackson. And now Nirvana. And quite honestly, nothing since.

I started growing my hair long like Kurt. I was misunderstood like Kurt. I was an artist like Kurt. I was a lefty on guitar like Kurt. The fantastic by-product of a movement like this is that it contributes to your own personal talents if you have any to speak of. I was already fairly into playing music and drawing and painting, but Nirvana helped me get more out of myself at the time which was an important time in my development. I feel that I was able to become more introspective and creative. I started playing guitar. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but eventually, I did. And I ended playing in a few bands and ended up writing songs and performing in local venues. Later on when I was older, one of my bands, Tranzgression, covered “School” by Nirvana and really rocked the house with it at most of our shows. The music and how it was different inspired people. It inspired me. You really got the feeling that there was someone else out there that understood you or could express things you wanted to with music.

I relate this to watching old Beatles performances. All those teenagers thought The Beatles were singing to them. I thought Nirvana was singing to me, trying to help me out, even though history tells us that Cobain was really just helping himself but that’s okay. That’s just part of the magic. Another great by-product of this movement was all of the goddamn great music that came as a result. We can list hundreds upon hundreds of artists that would never have existed had this movement never happened. Just take any of the projects that Dave Grohl was a part of. A lot of that is good music. Think about Beck, Bush, Loud Lucy (Yeah I’m serious), and Weezer. Anything that had a heavy guitar in it that was not heavy metal made it to the forefront because of this movement. Think about Korn, Deftones, and anyone that you heard on the radio since 1991 that screamed or growled. Thank this movement.

I personally was introduced to new people because of Nirvana. I met people who were the “castouts” of their school or just castouts in general. I met people and was introduced to role playing D&D type games and I was already a fool for comics and video games. These were common interests among “my people.” My people were very interesting, too. I remember one day one of my friends who also liked Nirvana came over with a couple of his buddies I had never met. When they walked in they were like “You got that new Nirvana record? Incesticide?” Yes, I did. And I popped it in my Goldstar as we shot the shit.

I swear, every last song or CD maxi single became like the most sought after pieces of music articles in the world. Now, you just download it all. There was the Sliver single CD that I somehow acquired and there was that split with Jesus Lizard with “Oh The Guilt” on it that I never seemed to get my hands on. Never in my life, before or since, have I clamored — literally scavenged — for music. My weekends were spent at the mall or record stores seeing if they had the CD single of “All Apologies” with “Moist Vagina” on it. It was the first time I began buying import CDs which were overly expensive. I remember buying a double disc set that included Nirvana’s Unplugged set before the actual record label version hit stores. It was $40 well spent.

And I don’t want to forget to mention the music. Not just speaking as a fan, but I don’t think there was ever a bad Nirvana song, never filler. Even on “Bleach,” which came out before they blew up. And of course the music and the movement will be looked back on in a more fond way now than it probably was at the time, but in all honesty, there is a lot of filler out there today. Here’s to hoping that history will repeat itself soon. Pop is beginning to get mighty stale. In an interview Cobain once said “there are a lot of old school dinosaurs in the record industry who need to be weeded out.” It was going so well until he shot himself. The dinosaurs got a second wind. The music industry as a whole can use a revolution in many different departments including sound, distribution, and development.

I say I want a revolution. Well. Ya know. We all want to change the world. Oh well. Whatever. Nevermind.

Pricey Hole For iTunes In The Cloud

Apple has teased us with a world changing announcement tomorrow on its homepage. I agree that the announcement can possibly be the introduction of iTunes in the cloud, but not as an MP3 killer as Nicholas Deleon of CrunchGear has so succinctly put it.

The main reason why iTunes in the cloud as realized by Nicholas Deleon is unlikely is because of scalability, an issue I have been preaching about in many of my posts. In other posts I speak about scalability of the size of libraries in terms of disk space and all that comes along with it.

In this case, scalability of bandwidth is the issue. Yes, to have my entire library in the cloud would be a perfect solution. When I am at work and in my car are the times that I want to stream my very large media library. Half of that time is dependent upon 3g availability and of course bandwidth limit and cost. Will it scale well in cost when my dependency of my mobile data plan increases by 75%?

I would love to not put any MP3s on any of my mobile devices to save space. But until there is a mobile network that has major stability and largely more competitive data plans than there are now, I do not think anyone can scrap their MP3s completely. Think about it this way: You subscribe to iTunes in the cloud. It hosts your media library which includes over 10,000 music and video files. Anytime you are not at home or on Wi-Fi, you are using your mobile data plan to listen to music or watch video. That bandwidth adds up very fast, especially when you throw video into the mix. I have gone over 2GB monthly at least twice in the last year. It becomes very costly especially with data plans being capped at 2GB. This also does not take into consideration the fees Apple may decide to charge.

The bottom line is, MP3s will not die because of this, but it can change how we manage our local libraries for sure. Again, a product like Zumocast already lets me live like this where my PC acts as my cloud when I am not home. I still keep my local library as is and I keep select music on my mobile devices in case by some wrath of god the AT&T network suddenly becomes unreliable (sarcasm fully intended). iTunes has millions of users. If iTunes in the cloud did take off with any generous portion of its users, would mobile data plans be able to stay as is?

Still, iTunes in the cloud is still very much speculation, but it is an inevitable reality. Instead of a drastic immediate change, when iTunes in the cloud does launch, it will be the first phase in the evolution of media and how we access it. But many of us will keep our “trucks” filled to the brim with files, if for no other reason to have a local backup.

Are mobile providers ready for iTunes in the cloud? If not, are you ready to pay for its lack of preparation?

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World of Warcraft: Countdown To Zero

I have been a player of World of Warcraft since its beginning in 2004. I have all of the collector’s editions and Cataclysm will be no exception. Sure there are periods where I do not get to play, but when an expansion comes out, it is an open invitation for players both inactive and active to enjoy the new content in its fresh new glory.

In my circle of friends we have coined the phrase “when everything goes back to zero” referring to when the new expansion drops. Zero, as it is so succinctly put means that once Cataclysm ravages all of Azeroth, everything is reset. Your gear and items mean nothing. All that you have accomplished in even the largest of raids now becomes obsolete and only good for bragging rights. Even the hardest of the hardcore level 80s will have to start leveling again and take the time to get the best gear possible once they hit the new level cap of 85.

It is no surprise then that this time period from now until December 7th is merely a countdown. For my personal taste, there is not much worth doing. Sure it might be worth stocking up on Honor points or Justice points. Some people are looking to maximize their achievements as well. It might even be worth taking one final tour of the zones before they are changed forever, but December 7th is really the day I am looking forward to.

The greatest thing about “Zero” is that it is a great time for old players to come back and for people that have never experienced the game to be on a level playing field with the entire population of the game. In the world of MMOs, expansions are never guaranteed (They seem to be with WoW though) so when they do come along, if you were ever considering joining, it sure is a good time to jump in.

World of Warcraft is a phenomenon. It truly is a fantastic game and is one that has changed PC gaming forever. It has claimed the lives of some. It has spawned many things like funny videos, new kinds of websites, and even new ways to hold funerals. WoW is even used as a measurement of computer power before a purchase: “As long as it can run WoW, I’ll be fine.”

Do you WoW? (I guess it can even be a verb.)

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Dear Microsoft: Get Me Excited, Like Apple Does

So there I sat just before the beginning of “Back to the Mac” in a burger joint with a friend, brewing with anticipation.

Can anyone ever mirror or copy the method or mystery that Apple uses in getting people this excited for what will probably ended up being a series of fairly standard announcements and products? Even if nothing awesome was announced, I will still get as excited for the next Apple event.

What does Apple do that makes even a point release (speculating that Lion is 10.7) an entire event? I wish that Microsoft would have the guts to downright steal from Apple in this case. Instead of releasing a service pack, throw a party and jam some features into that thing so it’s not just a bunch of fixes and cumulative security patches. Put something new and innovative into Windows 7.

Where would we be if Microsoft actually accomplished something like this? At the very least, maybe just maybe, people would be getting excited about a Microsoft product other than the Xbox.

So here we go. Dear Microsoft: Get me exited, like Apple does. My friend the8thsign and I have this week off of work. When we were trying to figure what to do to catch up, we actually decided to get together to watch/read the Apple event on Wednesday over lunch. That says a ton. Hire some new guy to be your Steve Jobs like presenter and go for it. Get someone likable. Is it hard to do that when you are such a large and successful company?

I don’t think this would be a bad thing do you? As much as I like Apple, I also do enjoy Windows 7. I am a firm believer that competition makes everything better. It is not good if Apple keeps running away with the show so to speak. Apple’s momentum will be cumulatively exponential. Someone has to step in on one of the battlegrounds with something good.

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The Incident Sends You Back

I have many fond memories as a child growing up playing Sega Master System games and going to friends’ houses to play Super Nintendo. Whether it be Zelda, Street Fighter, or the more obscure My Hero or Astro Warrior, it was the beginning of console gaming for me. Since then, console gaming has evolved exponentially to the likes of motion controls, music, movies, demos, and more.

Consider me a child again then, when playing the iPhone/iPad game The Incident. This universal app is currently $1.99 and will send you back to the eighties for a dose of 8-bit bliss. The game is simplistic. You are a dude who has to dodge all kinds of random things falling from the sky. This premise allowed the developer, Big Bucket, to deliver fully in creating a huge assortment of nicely rendered 8-bit objects to drop on your skull. Each item that falls is funnier and more random than the last. Should one of these 8-bit treasures deal the final death blow to your character, you get a trophy instead of a traditional game over screen. “Killed by a piano”. Instead of dying, you feel like you have accomplished something.

Putting aside that this game is Gamecenter compatible, there is one other feature that is beginning to become a very important trend. If you purchase, download, and install this game on both your iPhone and iPad (Remember, universal means you but it once for both platforms) you get to take advantage of one of the coolest features the iOS provides for games: Using your iPhone as a controller while playing the game on the iPad via bluetooth. There are way too many things that are cool and geeky about this.

First of all, a 30 year old geek like myself looks at this with tremendous awe. It puts me in one of those “You know, when I was your age” moments. But I’ll save that. The fact that this game was made in the retro 8-bit vein only puts icing on the cake. Prop up my iPad and whip out the iPhone, and I am playing a “Nintendo from the future”, would it be me describing it had I seen myself playing this in a future vision when I was 12.

Video game nostalgia aside, using your iPhone as a controller also tells you which item is going to drop next, which could be beneficial to you as your noggin is constantly in danger. This is a feature not available unless you unite the two devices into a video game bluetooth Voltron. A few other games have implemented this feature and others definitely should. It makes for enhanced gameplay, not to mention something else to geek out to.

The Incident also sports a cool 8-bit music soundtrack that will really top off the experience for you.

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iStreamer for the iPad (5 Free Codes Available!)

A couple of weeks ago the new iPad app iStreamer caught my eye. It is a slick app that displays your lifestream from multiple sources as a timeline. After seeing a demo video of it in my gReader feed, I decided to purchase it on release. The initial release was plagued by crashing. The developer, AllofMe, was quick to put out an updated version that solved the crashing. The problem was, in between this time, I upgraded to iOS 4.2 beta which this app was not tested with yet and did not work.

AllofMe has been very gracious in accepting me into their upcoming beta test for its upcoming versions. New features include: caching, skins, and more Facebook detail. AllofMe has also told me that they have a Lite version coming soon as well.

In addition to the upcoming features list, AllofMe has provided me with 5 free codes for its current version of iStreamer to give away to my readers. The first 5 readers to follow TheModernGeek on Twitter and shoot me a mention receive a code for iStreamer for free (Good for the current version only). iStreamer sells for $3.99 on the App Store.

Keep an eye on my blog as AllofMe has stated they will provide me with 5 more free codes for the upcoming version in the future and I will giving them away as well as taking a more in-depth look at the app.

What is the difference between texting while driving and everything else?

Here in Connecticut, law enforcement officers are cracking down on “texting while driving”. As technology progresses and these issues become hotter topics, I am beginning to question what this truly means to us.

For instance, technology affords us all fantastic luxuries in our automobiles: GPS, music, video. Pretty much anything we can do anywhere else in our lives, we can also do in our automobiles. Should this be hampered by the law?

Ever since this kind of law was first introduced, I was always nervous about the potential implications. What is the difference between adjusting our traditional car stereos and inputing an artist into Pandora while driving? What is the difference between entering in GPS locations and texting while driving? How will law enforcement know the difference?

Simply put, are we going to expect that we can be fined for doing the things we have always expected to do while driving because a law enforcement officer thought we were texting?

I have my iPhone mounted near the console of my car via a windshield mount and I am able to successfully use it for all of the purposes mentioned, most commonly music. I am sure there are studies out there that prove people that hold their phone in one hand while driving proves to be more distracting. There are plenty of responsible and capable drivers out there who can handle these tasks and continue to be safe on the road.

It is a very hot topic. But as a geek who loves technology, some personal technological freedoms are compromised as laws head in this direction. The issue is more of the interpretation of the law by the particular law enforcement officer on that particular day.

What are your thoughts?

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Top 5 iPad Realizations

I love my iPad. When I first got it, it took me three whole days before I opened my laptop again. But there are some realizations that show themselves rather quickly.

5. There are not that many good apps yet.

Most of the best apps available are featured on the front pages of the app store. You’ve heard about them all already. It’s like the iPhone all over again, meaning, waiting for Thursdays to see if there are any new releases like a rabid zombie waiting to bite. (Also, when the HELL did Apple officially change the “New App Release Day” from Tuesday to Thursday?!!)

4. There are not that many good games yet.

While I have a plethora of iPhone games, I only have very few on my iPad. The selection is very slim at the moment.

3. It is very gimpy without iOS 4.2.

The most simplest of expectations would be to listen to Pandora and read the Wall Street Journal at the same time, but this is not possible until Apple releases iOS 4.2, supposedly in November. Until then you can suffer or get your hands on a beta copy of the OS like I did.

2. The screen will NEVER be clean.

Even putting a microfiber cloth to this beautiful screen once a day does not keep a huge mess of fingerprints, muck, or dust from covering it. I also think it would have been nice of Apple to include said cloth in the box.

1. The cheapest iPad is NOT $499.

I know I have done it. I have told people that for JUST $499, they too can enter the wonderful world of iPad. But this is far from the truth. Most everyone in their right mind is going to buy a case for their iPad on day one which averages between $40-$50 minimum. Mix that with a handful of paid apps in the first few days and you’re probably up over an extra $100. Let’s not forget all the rest of the goodies like keyboards, docks, bags, sleeves, socks, adapters, etc.

Do you have any realizations to add?

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Just Bought an iPad: My First Impressions, Good and Bad

So what exactly was my thinking in buying an iPad this late in its first life cycle? The easy answer is: “I needed to buy myself a birthday present, but that is also basic geek gadget justification and logic.”

Practically knowing for certain that the next iteration of the iPad is just around the corner in say March 2011, and knowing that it will most likely sport great new features like a retina display and camera were simply not reason enough to stop me from buying an iPad just last night.

I think of it this way: There is just too much functionality that I aim to use to get my money’s worth out of this thing even if I decide to buy a new one in 6 months. If I do, then I will do what most other people are planning to do: Give the current iPad to my mother as a way to introduce her to the internet proper.

So I went with a 16GB 3g model. When my friend The8thSign asked me how it was going with my new iPad, my response was “It’s Love”. The things I wanted to do most like browse blogs on Flipboard, read my Kindle library, and have the internet all up close in my face have been fantastic.

Here’s the GOOD first:

1. Battery life is as good as people say it is.

2. Apps like Flipboard, Zinio, and the Wall Street Journal are great and make you think the apps will only get better over time.

3. The landscape keyboard is very good. I was able to type some long form pieces on it with few errors.

Here’s the BAD:

1. The only computer that I own that will charge the iPad via USB is my Macbook Pro. My “honking” Dell Precision workstations will not.

2. It is a rude awakening when you realize how gimpy iOS was before folders and multitasking. November is a long wait.

3. No Voice Memos app. Just seems like a weird omission. As of this writing, I am running 4.2 beta 2 and it is still not present.

4. App Store selection is not as vast as I expected it to be. I have purchased hundreds of apps for the iPhone, but only about 30 for the iPad so far.

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Top 5 Questions For iPhone 4 Early Adopters

I am now a different person. Where in the past, I would have sat in line to get a new iPhone on day one, I am now content waiting. And did that ever pay off this time around especially. There have been numerous bugs, glitches, and defects with the iPhone 4. Don’t get me wrong. I will be getting one. I had the opportunity to check out a friend’s. The retina display itself is worth the upgrade (for me, from a 3GS).

What I would like to propose is 5 questions I have for people that are enjoying (hopefully) their iPhone 4. Since I already know first hand that the screen really IS that good, here are my questions.

5. How is that new camera, really?

A bump in mega pixels and the addition of a flash seem to make it a whole replacement for my digital camera, not to mention the ability to record 720p.

4. Is the battery life truly much better than previous iPhones, namely the 3GS?

I don’t know if it is because my 3gs has had too many recharge cycles or worse,  memory/process management issues,  but it seems to die a lot faster these days. I look to the iPhone 4 for some battery beef.

3. Do you notice that you have 512MB of ram?

A considerable bump in memory could be all I need that ails my memory concerns. Or, does more memory just mean that many more apps stay open or frozen?

2. Do you think Apple owes you something for the inconvenience caused by “holding your phone the wrong way”?

Some people are saying Apple should offer free bumpers. Some people are saying Apple should do a recall. Some people are happy.

1. Do you regret being an early adopter…this time?

Somewhat of a plague seems to have accompanied the iPhone 4 which its proclaimed largest product launch in history: Discolored screens, misplaced volume buttons, reception display issues, reception and transmission issues. At the end of the day. Was it worth it? I personally am very happy I did not wait in a line of 500 people wasting an entire day only to be frustrated by those issues.

Dear Steve: iPhone 4 Reception Issue

This is a new format I would like to call Dear Steve. These are actual emails that I send to [email protected]

This email I sent this morning in response to his answers about the issue with iPhone 4 that can be reproduced by cupping the iPhone 4 in a manner that seems… oh I don’t know… like the way we always have?!?!

9to5mac has a nice collection of Steve’s official responses to these concerns.

Also, this video has surfaced about holding the iPhone 4 “WRONG.” Very funny.

(Steve, clearly holding it the right way?!)

Steve,

Yes, other phones ship with warnings and other phones have weird reception issues, but guess what? This is not just some other phone. My iPhone 3gs does not have this issue. My iPhone 3g did not have this issue. My original iPhone did not have this issue. Everyone I know holds the phone “LIKE THAT” in their left hand. You’re going to have to do better than that Steve. The AT&T network is already a mixed bag of you know what. Adding in this new reception “feature” is not going to help things. This is very mal. I hope you change your iTune. My people and I are not buying one until something is done.

Love,
The Modern Geek

AT&T’s New Data Plans Are Very Short Sighted

A few weeks back, AT&T introduced sorry excuses for updated data plans, namely for the iPhone and iPad. While they lowered the initial “DataPro” monthly cost plans by $5, the real story is its limits and what it means for people moving forward. With a new 2GB per month limit down from UNLIMITED, it looks like, at least for me, my data charges will end up being closer to $35-$45 because it costs an extra $10 for every 1GB over the limit. AT&T seems to think most users will not have an issue going over the limit, but with more and more apps streaming more and more data, I think this plan and others like it will end up being crucified by users as their data consumption begins to ramp up along with new services and apps.

In looking at my data usage for my iPhone 3gs for the first time, I had been averaging about 1GB a month (lots of YouTube and streaming music). This past month, I bought MobiTV and have been using it quite extensively. This was the only real change in my data usage. My May 2010 data meter is at 1.5GB used. Now it’s June and I am just about halfway into the billing cycle. I have used over 1.2 GB of bandwidth (pictured). And let’s face it, now with Pandora’s backgrounding capabilities, I am going to be using that in my car a lot more over 3g. It will all add up. I doubt I am anywhere near alone or in some strange 1% minority.

(A snapshot of my data from the AT&T MyWireless app as of today)

AT&T must be using old data to support their claim that 98% of customers do not go above 2GB. Let’s not forget that certain apps have only recently become available to offer serious video over 3g. Live streaming video apps like uStream were only unleashed within the last 8 months. In the last couple of months we have seen an increase in opening the gate to data heavy apps, which leads me to believe the metrics used have left this out.

This is scary because it is not very forward thinking. The iPhone and the iPad are only going to get more and more video and audio apps. Imagine me, a user who is in the car a couple hours a day and even more on the weekend. While driving, my iPhone is either pulling down streaming Pandora/Sirius or Mobitv and then the same even when I’m at home and other places. If I started to enjoy other services like MLB AT Bat or upped my YouTube usage, my 2GB would be up even more quickly.

Add in tethering or even video chat with the new iPhone staying below 2GB will not be possible. Along with Comcast’s 25GB per month cap, this is another very dangerous and short sighted limitation. Both of these caps are not poised for growth in a market and industry where DATA only gets larger. Fundamentally, hard drives get larger. iPhone capacity gets larger. Video quality gets better/larger.

(A picture of one of AT&T’s actual eyes)

We are paying AT&T for the delivery of data. This is such a bad road to go down because it limits how much data we can receive, thus, how much content we can enjoy effectively. I hope this is a result of Apple’ imminent partnering with someone else who can offer a reasonable and forward-thinking data service. Let’s not even talk about the new 375$ cancellation fee for iPhones or the overall less-than-impressive quality of video of AT&T 3g across the board.

There are plenty of things wrong with Comcast, AT&T and the like. AT&T is choosing similar short sighted tactics and unfortunately, Apple is a part of it. It’s just a bad customer experience. I don’t think the general consensus is going to let this one fly regardless. 5GB would be closer to a good starting point. Even so, these plan limits have to increase as time goes on and we haven’t seen that yet.

So have you been checking your data regularly since this announcement? Do you agree that this will be a problem in the future?

Top 3 iOS4 Praises

Yesterday I presented 3 gripes I had with iOS4. Today I look to identify the Top 3 praises I have for the new iteration of the iPhone operating system.

1. Inbox Unity

Even though I have gone most of my time on the iPhone with two email accounts (many people have more), switching back and forth was always a bunch of unnecessary finger taps. The unified inbox brings all of my email accounts under one umbrella. This makes the simple task of checking mail more convenient. Adding that to conversation tracking/grouping , mail on the iPhone is becoming a pleasure!

2. Multitasking’s Greatest Hits

Yesterday I outlined some issues with Apple’s new multitasking system that I believe will become more common and cumbersome over time. However, there are a few key aspects of this system that give instant gratification should your favorite app developer decide to implement it. One of these “greatest hits” is background audio. Fully implemented in Pandora (and why not? it has been ready since the initial iOS4 announcement, right?), being able to switch out of Pandora and into other things really takes my experience to the next level. This is a feature we all felt should have been a day one feature back in 2007, but we will take it. Hopefully more and more audio apps will be updated with this new ability.

In addition to that, the ability for GPS in the background and fast app switching are much needed and appreciated additions.

3. Folders

Even though I counted it as a gripe yesterday because of the limit of 12 apps per folder, this feature will still help enormously in organizing the crazy sea of apps on my iPhone. Even with the limit, it is better to have some organization than none. It forces us to organize an extra level down to break up our apps into more specific groups, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

So what are YOUR praises for iOS4?

Top 3 iOS4 Gripes

It has been 6 months since I have written a blog post. I was on hiatus for a while. My last post in January was fittingly about multitasking on the iPhone as today, iOS4 was officially released with multitasking being one of its centerpieces. Here are my Top 3 gripes about iOS4. I will have the Top 3 iOS4 Praises tomorrow.

Folder Limit of 12 Apps

One of the “biggest” upgrades to iOS4 is the addition of folders. Folders sounded great until I realized one small detail. Each folder is only limited to 12 apps. I was let down initially because all of my “Games” would not fit into one folder. The positive thing that came out of this was the fact that I saw a better use to break my games down into smaller groups like “Tower Defense” and “Word Games”.

More Small Common Sense Tweaks Ignored

Honestly, how hard is it to allow us to do little things like change the sound for SMS messages? Another thing I have really been dying for is custom EQ settings for the iPod app. It would have been great to see a few more small tweaks in this revision of the OS.

The Unknown Memory Issues

The idea of “multitasking” or even fast app switching is surely a boon to iPhone users. After using the iOS4 Gold Master for a little over a week now (which turned out to be the final build), I am left with some burning concerns.

(3.01 MB of free memory isn’t necessarily good.)

Every time you open and close an app, ALL apps are left “open in memory”. This is done all the way down to about your last 3mb-4mb of free memory at which point it seems as though the “last” app closed (but open in memory) is replaced by the next. I have, on numerous occasions, experienced my iPhone creep to a halt needing a reboot. This would not be so much of an issue had Apple not banned memory apps from actually freeing up memory. That was one of the most useful things and now with this “interesting” implementation of multitasking, it seems damn necessary.

So please do me a favor. Grab FreeMemoryLite or any memory counter utility and let me know how much memory you have left after you open and “close” about a dozen apps. Let me know what you find. Also, do you have any other iOS4 gripes???

Apple Has Already Redefined Multitasking

Multitasking is one “feature” I have surely been taking for granted. Multitasking has been one of the greatest personal computing innovations since the graphic user interface. Sitting at your Mac or PC right now, try to imagine only being able to do one thing at a time. Pretend that you are writing a blog post. You aren’t done yet, but you want to send out a tweet. Imagine if you couldn’t work on these two simple tasks simultaneously?

Now, break out your iPhone. This is reality. And when you break out your iPad in March, it’s also going to be reality. The title of this post suggests that Apple has redefined multitasking and that is true, but not for the better. Apple redefined multitasking simply by taking it away. The way I multitask on the iPhone is not working on two things simultaneously, but rather, choosing which thing to do first. So, I suppose Apple has replaced multitasking with prioritization. The way Apple has kind of brushed aside multitasking is rather scary. We are already stuck in its walled garden of applications and games that only make it to us if an Apple employee approves them. Okay, fine. But why this want and need to regress one of the biggest PROGRESSIONS in modern day computing.

I have some ideas for why Apple has omitted multitasking for so long, but no answer is good enough. Is it because its in-house battery development isn’t good enough to support it? I’m sure that’s part of it. Is the iPhone OS not stable enough? Probably not, as I constantly end up with less than 10MB of RAM free after less than a day of popping in and out of apps on my iPhone 3Gs as it is. Still, none of these issues are a good enough reason to omit multitasking from Apple’s already closed off computing experiences.

I feel like a person who just un-jacked from the Matrix. I am taking a step back from being “content” in using Apple’s closed products. I’m scared. I am writing this on my MacBook Pro. Is Apple going to take all of my computing freedom on this thing too, one day? Whatever happened to having a uniform experience across products? As an iPhone user and a potential iPad user, I am concerned about the lack of multitasking. Is Apple just seeing dollar signs in this area? Is it saying “Well, we sold 75 million iPhones without multitasking so…”? I think many of us buy these products with the idea Apple will make them better in many ways over time. Even if Apple introduced multitasking on its mobile devices SOON, it would still be three years too late. I have already used my iPhone for three years without multitasking, save for the times I jailbroke. That’s a long time to not be as productive as I possibly could.

This is a regression of technology and it’s not good. I’m scared. All I want to do is “jack back in” and be happy, but I need multitasking. I’m a geek. I will not accept an oversimplified computing experience. Apple needs to turn this around and realize that there are way too many of us out here that need “PRO” features, whether they be software or hardware. Yet, multitasking isn’t a PRO feature… is it? It’s a BASIC feature… right? It comes standard on almost every other platform of computing. Are we in the Twilight Zone? Am I dreaming? Is this line secure?

So how about you? Can you live without multitasking any longer? I don’t know about you, but my productivity is suffering.

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