Connectivity From Very Rural Places – Part 2

dscn0011In Part 1 of this little series of posts, I talked about my move from Anchorage to Tok, Alaska. I went from acceptable Internet speeds at a fairly reasonable price ($60-ish/month) to barely 512K up and down, a 10 Gig monthly limit and $180/month plus $30 per Gig over the limit. As a web worker (read: Bandwidth Hog). I’m still reeling from the adjustment and keeping a careful eye on my bandwidth usage daily.

So how have these connectivity challenges and unexpected expenses affected my web work? And how am I compensating for these…developments?

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Weekly App Store Roundup: Jan. 10, 2009


After our first week proper in 2009, we’ve run smack-bang in to a hurricane of Apple news courtesy of this year’s Macworld event.

Over at Apple’s final MacWorld Keynote, standing in for Papa Jobs, Uncle Phil unveiled brand new iLife and iWork suites, alongside completing the Macbook Pro lineup with a 17″ model touting 8 hours of battery life.

And, to finish proceedings off, Apple revealed special singing guest Tony Bennett, allowing the adoring audience to bask in the warmth of his orange glow as he crooned the keynote to a close.

While everyone else at TheAppleBlog has had their eye on Macworld, I’ve been rolling around in the App Store and getting friendly with the latest additions.

This week I’ve been looking at Keynote Remote,¬†Wallpaper Notes,¬†Cisco WebEx Meeting Center and Bank Panic.
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Hillcrest Remote: Flick Wrist to Flip Channels

Raise your hand if you want to use a Wii-like, gesture-driven remote to control your content. Now lower your hand. Now move it side to side. Like Mr. Miyagi teaching Daniel-san, you have the basics of Hillcrest Labs‘ concept remote. Instead of standard up, down, left, right arrow buttons, the remote acts as a pointer, allowing you to scroll through and select content by moving your hand (it even has an anti-tremor technology that keeps the cursor still while on-screen).

Washington, D.C.-based Hillcrest Labs started off life seven years ago as a think tank, where it saw the impending wave of digital media and the need for a graphical way to sift through it. The remote you see in the video below isn’t something you’ll be able to buy — it’s just a “concept car.” Too bad, it looks slick. Instead, Hillcrest will license it out to different consumer electronics manufacturers to be built into their devices. Check out remote in action here:

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Give or Get Help Through the New Crossloop Marketplace

img crossloopCrossLoop‘s free secure screen sharing application has always been an extremely handy way to provide remote desktop support, and the opening of their new Help Marketplace adds a whole new layer to their service.

By allowing you to build a profile of your skills to share with the public at large, CrossLoop now becomes a viable outlet to promote your business and services beyond friends and family.

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Would Apple’s Remote Deny Proper Gaming?

remoteMy Apple TV is looking for more work to do. Yes, it’s happy to be playing songs and the occasional show from my iTunes library, and surfing YouTube, but I get the sense it’s bored. Meanwhile, next to it, my Nintendo Wii is running interactive video games, downloading classic arcade titles over the Internet, and doesn’t mind being dominated through a pair of wireless game controllers. It seems to me, with a little work, the Apple TV would itself present a good platform for video games on the TV set, but there is a big stumbling block in a small package – the Apple Remote, which isn’t flexible enough to act as a serious game controller.

The iPod has a set of simple arcade games available for download from iTunes. The Apple TV has a hard drive and a network connection, capable of downloading firmware updates. It doesn’t seem too far-fetched that I could navigate my Apple TV at some future point and pull down the equivalents of Tetris, BeJeweled, Brick Breaker, or other games, through a channel parallel to that of YouTube. But even if Apple were to extend games from the iPod and iPhone to the Apple TV, for projection on attached wide screen TVs, the effort to enforce minimalism on the Apple Remote wouldn’t leave many options open for developers or game enthusiasts more comfortable with with multi-button controllers.

I’ve grown used to the Apple Remote as a great navigational tool for Apple TV, but all it offers are directional keys, a play/pause button and the Menu key. Even the addition of an iPod-like scroll wheel would be better for games than this. While I laud the intent of Steve Jobs and Apple to deliver a small, easy to handle remote for one function, it is missing the capability to expand, should the Apple TV ever graduate from a “hobby” to a real product line that Apple takes seriously. A great start to making us early adopters believe that Apple wants to move beyond the hobby stage would be to add games to the Apple TV and offer a new remote.