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Friday, December 07, 2007

Apple stops sale of hacked iPhones in Singapore

Apple iPhone
Front page news today -- Apple threatened local sellers of hacked iPhones with legal action if they persisted with their sales. As a result, it's now going to be more difficult to find a hacked iPhone in Singapore... unless you know where to get one. And I don't, so don't ask me!

Note, though, that it's still legal to parallel import iPhones into Singapore. (Yeah, you can parallel import almost anything into Singapore, if it's in its "virgin" state.) So you should still be able to buy iPhones in Singapore, just not the hacked/unlocked ones.

Personally speaking, I used the iPhone a few times while on holiday in the U.S. and, seriously, the thrill dies after the third usage. That's why I don't plan to get one for myself. Besides, hardly anyone ever calls me on my current phone line anyway... (telemarketers don't count!)

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reason #2389 to buy a Mac: Smaller PPT files

PowerPoint:mac
I never thought that I would promote a Microsoft product as a benefit to use a Mac, but here goes:
A graphics-heavy PowerPoint file could actually use less disk space on a Mac!
I was working on a presentation at home on my iMac and the file came to a hefty 4MB. But when I re-saved the file in Windows -- even after compressing all of the images to be optimised for the screen, the file size weighed in at a whopping 8MB!

I saved half the disk space on a Mac!

This was admittedly a non-scientific observation. But still, saving 50% of disk space is quite a significant difference. Truly, the Mac business unit at Microsoft has churned out the best version of Microsoft Office.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Comparing Apple/AT&T iPhone plans to Singapore's plans

Apple iPhone
Apple and AT&T announced three mobile plans for the iPhone today. These range from US$59.99 to US$99.99. At first glance, I thought, "Wow! That's outrageous!" I was sure that comparable plans in Singapore would be much cheaper.

Alas, how wrong I was.

Here's a table comparing the plans.
CarrierIncl. SMS300 mins400 mins450 mins680 mins700 mins900 mins1,350 mins1,500 mins2,000 mins
AT&T (US$/S$)200

59.99
(92.26)


79.99
(123.02)
99.99
(153.78)


SingTel360*



105.79

221.81
500**99.75


162.75



M1300*
42.00





105.00
50047.25


81.38



StarHub300


92.40




50047.25


81.38



90050.40







2,000







197.40
All of the local telcos offer free incoming talk time until the end of 2008 at the earliest.
* Based on non-promotional usual price
** Based on first year's subscription rate


At first glance, it seems like there are some local plans that look more affordable than AT&T's. Of course, I'm not comparing apples with apples (pardon the pun), because of variable charges like extra minute charges, registration, etc.

But wait, there's more! AT&T offers unlimited data usage. In contrast, the local telcos offer add-on data plans:
  • M1 - $313.95 maximum (for two of its data plans)
  • StarHub - $105 unlimited
M1's maximum data charges alone far exceed any of AT&T's combined talk and data plans. Meanwhile, StarHub's cheapest mobile plan doesn't look so cheap once you add the extra hundred dollars. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find any prices for SingTel's maximum data charges or unlimited plans, if any.)

So it would seem that the iPhone plans are actually cheaper than what you can get in Singapore! And here, I always thought that mobile plans in the U.S. were a rip-off.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Steve Jobs' anecdote at iPhone launch that no one talked about

Macworld Keynote
It's been about two months since Steve Jobs announced the iPhone. There's been a lot of news coverage and gossip and rumours about it. Yet, I haven't come across anything that mentions something that I think should be especially significant too.

During the presentation, Jobs' clicker for the slideshow stopped working suddenly. While waiting for it to be fixed, he regaled the audience with a tale from his high school days.

Back then, Steve Wozniak, who later co-founded Apple with Jobs, made a device called a "TV jammer". It worked like a remote control, but scrambled TV signals instead. When the picture got fuzzy as a result, someone would tweak the antenna to get the picture back. (Remember, this was back in the day when television sets had antennas sticking out the back!)

In the end, Woz would play with his jammer until the student, who thought he was "fixing" the antenna, got into an awkward position. And it was hilarious to observe (for Jobs, Woz and anyone else who was in on the joke)!
Sounds familiar? It should. It's a story that's entered Apple lore, joining other tales like "phone phreaking" and the Apple I computer. I've personally read variations of the story so many times that I've lost count, yet I never grow tired of reading or hearing about it again.

But to have Steve Jobs tell it was breathtaking. It has nothing to do with how familiar the story was with his audience. Rather, it's about Jobs' relationship with Woz. Somewhere along the way, the two close friends drifted apart to the point where they simply acknowledged each other. But as these stories go, the two patched up a few years ago (though I don't think they're as close as before).

And then Jobs goes ahead and tells this story about his former best friend. When I heard it, I thought, "Wow!" It sounded like Jobs was, in his own showman way, proclaiming publicly how proud he was to have Woz as his buddy. As if he was saying, "Woz was my best friend and let me tell you how awesome -- no, insanely great -- he was!"

On another level, Jobs, who rarely reveals anything about his personal life, was willing to relate this story in such an intimate manner. I think it made him come across as more "human". It felt like he was removing a barrier between him and his audience, giving them permission to enter his personal space (albeit very slightly).

And those are the two reasons why I think his little anecdote was so significant. It's not necessarily news worthy, but to the Mac faithful, I think this move was more ground-breaking than the iPhone announcement.

Pity that no one else seemed to pick up on this. Or maybe I'm just a sentimental fool.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone
I suppose I could give my two cents on the new Apple iPhone. And it's this: I wouldn't get it if it was available in Singapore, for three reasons:
  1. I've already shelled out big bucks for my current phone, so my money would be better spent elsewhere,
  2. it's a version one electronics item, and if there's one thing I've learned along the way, it's to never buy a version one electronics item, and
  3. I already have two iPods, so I really don't need a third one.
I am, however, more intrigued by its software. The one thing that caught my attention were the widgets. I assume that these would be, functionally, similar to the ones that work in Mac OS X's Dashboard. In fact, I dare say that the "programs" that were demonstrated are redesigned widgets that are already available, e.g. address book, calendar, even the music player. So I see the next step as being able to sync my favourite widgets into the iPhone, in the same way that I'd sync my contacts and music.

Anyway, that's all I'll say about the iPhone. However, I was intrigued by the icons. Everyone says Apple makes the best user interface. So just by looking at the icons in this reduced-size image here, can you figure out what the icons represent? (Assuming that you don't already know what they are.) The only two I had trouble with were the first and third icons in the last third row. The rest seem self-explanatory, though I'd change the last one in the first row.

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