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Macs, Movies, Games, Books, etc. The Rants of a Mad Man.

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“OAuth Explained” blog posted on SitePoint

August 17th, 2010 by Raj

It’s official, I am now a professional “blog/tech writer-like-person” being that I was paid to write something nerdy and it was placed on the Internet. w00t bitches!

What pray-tell is this first piece about? Well, have you heard of a little ole protocol called “OAuth“? Hey… hey… have ya??! Oh. You haven’t, well all the more reason you should read the article then because I do promise it to be a very entertaining read.

Thanks must of course go to the good people who have contracted me to write this, and an upcoming “how-to” piece on the same topic, SitePoint. For without their good cash I could not brandish the title “professional”. Props.

So what are you waiting for?? Check it out for yourself here:
http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2010/08/17/oauth-explained-with-foursquar/

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t-JAY & a-JAY headphones review

August 6th, 2010 by Raj

It would appear that I have somehow become “The Headphone Guy” for MacTalk reviewing not one, not two, but SIX sets of headphones from manufacture JAYS in my latest tech rambling review.

For those of you interested in the audio phonic delights of headphone glory please jump over and check out the review yourself. Others may be more interested in the photos of the units, which I took myself on my new Canon 7D, these can be viewed in more detail here.

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Guest host on MacTalk’s “Can Touch This” #61

July 28th, 2010 by Raj

Have you been missing the sound of my voice? Well I have good news for you, this week I join Anthony & Gav for episode 61 of the MacTalk produced podcast “Can Touch This“.

They were even kind enough to name the episode after something I said, “Your typical ham sandwich“. Tune in here to find out what that means and listen to us dissect the upcoming Australian release of the iPhone 4 and other related iOS news.

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Is the iPad really the best e-book reader? I say no.

July 14th, 2010 by Raj

In what could be construed as a modern day version of “rock, paper, scissors” usability gurus Nielsen Norman have released a report paper pitting today’s most common e-book readers against one another, whilst throwing ye-olde paper in for good measure.

Revealing Apple’s iPad as the favoured device many websites, be them Apple-centric or not, have been touting their findings as the death knell for conventional e-book readers and sprouting figures at how we will undoubtably see the cannibalising of Amazon’s 80% market share, let alone the never-ending debate over paper’s so-called demise.

I can’t but help think the entire report as a waste of time pitting apples against oranges in a pineapple competition. Conventional e-book readers such as Amazon’s “Kindle”, Barnes & Noble “Nook” and the old stable horse from Sony “Reader” are E Ink driven devices. Their screens the closest digital representation we have to paper yet. They do not entail glossy glass reflections under any and every light source in the known universe and their battery life is measured in page turns lasting months (if not years) and not in minutes switched on. They’re designed to “read” books.

The iPad on the other hand is not a dedicated e-book reader, it is a computer, or at least a multimedia device that happens to offer an application(s) to read and purchase books on. It’s higher “User Satisfaction” rating (5.7/10) over Amazon’s Kindle 5.6 (paper won at 5.8) can be put down to the products slick user interface, colour and application use, easily overlooking the fact that consistent page by page reading is little to no different to reading from your desktop computer’s screen in terms of ease on the eye. The PC scored a paltry 3.6 I might add.

In addition to which gadget the subjects enjoyed best a metric based upon the speed at which each device was read at compared to paper was also devised. Alas, the results were apparently completely useless, as noted by Neilsen stating “…the only fair conclusion is that we can’t say for sure which device offers the fastest reading speed.” leaving me to wonder again what the point of this report was?

It would appear that the introduction of the iPad has indeed ruffled some feathers, despite it’s adhoc grouping under the e-book reader banner, Amazon has recently released an update and price drop to its Kindle DX, following suit in Barnes & Noble and Sony’s footsteps of a price reduction. The promise of a more “interactive” experience amongst the future of digital publishing is enough to sway general e-book consumers to a more vibrant reading platform but I challenge any person, be they digital evangelist or not, to read twenty pages of anything on the iPad and then do the same on any E Ink device and tell me it wasn’t a better “reading” experience with E Ink.

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Gran Turismo 5 gets a release date. Did hell freeze over?

June 22nd, 2010 by Raj

It’s been three years since Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) gave us the money-grab that was “GT5 Prologue” and over five since GT4 spun away in our PS2’s so you can forgive many people for placing Gran Turismo 5 (GT5) in the “believe-it-when-I-see-it” basket along with other great memories such as “Duke Nukem Forever” and unicorns.

With advertising abound at this years’ Le Mans one week prior to E3 it was no surprise to finally receive a solid release date (November 2nd, 2010) at the expo, for what is undoubtably one of the PS3’s most anticipated titles.

The latest instalment includes 1000 cars to drive around 20 pre-loaded tracks. Naturally it’s all coming to you in Sony’s latest push of 3D-headache-inducer and touts a laundry list of new gimmicks features such as Youtube uploads, split-screen racing, custom soundtracks, head tracking (via the Playstation Eye) and track editor. Justification for a five year hiatus? We’ll have to wait and see.

Not being a die-hard racing simulator type of guy I can’t help but think that many may have found their fix via other means. Forza 3 for the Xbox 360 has been available for quite some time now and it’s near-real sim Project Gotham has had two iterations in the current gen console wars. That said for the PS3 only households the likes of Motorstorm and Burnout just aren’t going to cut the mustard.

All said and done GT5 will be many a stocking stuffer come Christmas 2010 I have no doubt, let’s just hope it lives up to the wait. The “Top Gear” test track alone will be enough for most punters I’d say.

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Apple release new Mac Mini with HDMI

June 17th, 2010 by Raj

Apple released a long anticipated update to its Mac Mini line Monday morning. The new enclosure with in-built power supply and HDMI connectivity alone has home-theatre PC (HTPC) enthusiasts salivating whilst further blurring the line between the AppleTV’s usefulness and novelty factor.

The new 2010 Mac Mini includes:

  • 2.4GHz or 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 1.4″ thick Unibody enclosure
  • NVIDIA GeForce 320M Graphics Card
  • Built-in Power Supply
  • HDMI port and Mini DisplayPort
  • User accessible memory slot
  • Ethernet, FireWire 800, 4xUSB 2.0 ports
  • Secure Digital (SD) card slot
  • Analogue/Digital Audio Line out

Whilst the updates (and the immediate availability) are a welcome announcement the additional US$100 price tag has many punters up in arms. The Mac Mini is available starting from US$699 (AUD$999).

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Microsoft announce new Xbox 360 & Kinect

June 15th, 2010 by Raj

In their pre-E3 keynote Microsoft has debuted a new version of the Xbox 360 console. The new “modern” enclosure sports some nice perks over current models (in-built 802.11n for starters) whilst, what’s the most important update for many, delivering a far quieter machine. In un-boxing videos currently clogging up gaming sites world wide a distinct lack of noise emanated by the machine putting today’s whirring banshee to shame.

The new Xbox 360 will be available in Australia July 1 for A$449, the same price as today’s Xbox Elite. The console includes 1xHDMI (no cable), 5xUSB, 1xcomponent, in-built 802.11n Wi-Fi, Kinect port and a 250GB (Xbox proprietary) hard drive. Of significant notice, the new model will only include a 1 year warranty, not 3 like the current models with the red-ring-of-death.

In conjunction with the updated console Microsoft also announced the official release of their “Project Natal” full-body-controller accessory to be named “Kinect”. Whilst we’re yet to see anything particularly exciting (in my opinion) bare fruit from this a group of sport/exercise related launch titles were shown along with mention of Forza 3 support upcoming.

Australian delivery and pricing has yet to be set for the Kinect however the US have been set a holiday release of November.

For detailed information on the new Xbox & Kinect accessory visit Xbox Australia’s hardware pages here:
http://www.xbox.com/en-AU/kinect/default.htm

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The Apple iPad: 3 x 5 Points of Opinion

January 28th, 2010 by Raj

In case you’re one of the 6 people in the world that didn’t already know Apple today released a longly anticipated product, the iPad. Many have cheered, others have cried and then there’s those like me who write an opinion piece on it for an Australian Mac website MacTalk.

If you’re interested in learning more about it then may I suggest you check out the full article here:
http://www.mactalk.com.au/2010/01/28/the-apple-ipad-3-x-5-points-of-opinion/

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My first Cocoa adventure: The Huawei E169 Monitor

December 20th, 2009 by Raj

E169Monitor

Having moved in to a new place a few months ago I was once again greeted with the issue of not having an internet connection until the powers that be connected the relevant wires and flicked their respective switches. This; an all far too familiar occurrence I’ve had dealt with in a timely fashion in times gone by (it helped when you worked for a telco) would this time blow out to well over a month to which point relying on my iPhone would not cut it. Coming to my rescue a good friend (thank you Gavlar) bestowed upon me a USB wireless internet dongle that would suffice my addiction until normality was restored with some ADSL.

Armed with an Optus flashed Huawei E169 I was quick to find that at the time there was no software around that was compatible with the relevantly new Mac OS X – Snow Leopard (10.6.x). The solution was to set up the device as you would any other modem and install some lovely modem scripts and what not from Huawei’s website, this got you online but I then found my next problem, reception! It seemed that the Optus network had a little difficulty in particular areas of my CBD apartment and not having an real software to report things like signal strength and data network I spent a good amount of time walking around my place laptop in hands “guessing” that the reception was actually best 1m to the left of my kitchen stove at ground level laying on the floor.

As you can imagine I quickly got sick of that game and thusly decided I’d take a look at just how complicated it was to find out the signal strength was directly from the device. A few googles later and I’d opened a connection directly to the serial device through the terminal and was now actively seeing what I was after albeit in a rather nerdy fashion. Coincidently at the same time as this I was ploughing through Aaron Hillegass’ 3rd edition of “Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X” and thought to myself “Hey, why not create a program to scrape this nerdy jargon and present it visually.” and that’s exactly what I did.

So here you’ll find a little program I like to call the E169 Monitor, because that’s pretty much what it does, monitor your E169’s data connection reporting back on things like signal strength and network connection type (WCDMA, HSDPA, etc) as well as giving you a couple of buttons to connect and disconnect.

Credit where credit is due; a lot of the code in here would not have been possible had it not been for the wonderful AMSerialPort project that makes connecting and reading from serial (USB) connections so much easier than the standard Cocoa libraries and to make the whole connect/disconnect functionality work (and I’m still not sure I understand) I’ve borrowed heavily from the source of the now defunct CheetahWatch, a program which essentially did everything I’ve done and more back in the days of the E220 and OS X 10.4. I really wish this project was picked up again and nurtured because it is a really fantastic effort, if I actually owned one of these wireless cards I think I’d even try an revive it myself, even with my rather fledgling cocoa skills.

Rambling and thanks aside a link to my Xcode project is available here & below. Do with it as you will but please be aware that I’m offering no support, this is all just a learning experience for me that I thought others may find useful. I’ve only tested this code on my own machine, an Intel based MBP running 10.6.2. I hope you can get some use out of it, I had fun doing it and throwing back to the days I used to have to manually enter AT commands to dial the local BBS.

Download my E169 Monitor Xcode Project files. (3.1MB)

Useful Resources: AMSerialPort Project, CheetahWatch application

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Review: DigiFi Opera S5 Wireless In-Ear Headphones

December 3rd, 2009 by Raj

Opera Mini S5 In-ear Headphones

You’ve got to love a good headphone’s review don’t you? I’m sure that you and all your friends are in that boat, which means that you’re going to absolutely love my latest review for the MacTalk folk. This round sees me tackle the latest and greatest in wireless audio for your iPod in the form of the “DigiFi Opera S5 Wireless In-Ear Headphones“. Boy that’s a mouthful.

So what are you doing hanging around here still? Go get your audiophile nerd on…

Article Link: http://www.mactalk.com.au/2009/12/03/review-digifi-opera-s5-wireless-in-ear-headphones/

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