APC USB Mobile Power Pack

APC USB Mobile Power Pack (UPB10)Recently I ordered an APC USB Mobile Power Pack (UPB10) since I found it for a good price (< $30) and was going to be traveling. I had considered it before for my older Sony CLIÉ whose battery was starting to suffer but held off. Now having an iPhone this seemed like a good investment. While traveling this weekend I got a chance to give it a real test.

The great thing about this device is that it’s generic. Any device that can be powered or charged via USB can be charged with this. It simply provides power over USB, nothing more. You use your regular USB sync/charging cables. iPhone, iPod, PDA, bluetooth headset, most cell phones, all can be charged this way. That’s much better than an accessory that only charges a certain device. The downside is you need to have the cable handy, which for me isn’t a big deal since the iPhone power adapter is USB based as well. Being able to charge all sorts of gadgets makes this a pretty handy thing to have.

The unit itself is dead simple. It’s a little smaller than an iPhone, and surprisingly light. Two ports, a USB Type A, and USB Mini-B on the top, and a status indicator and button on the front. To charge use the power adapter, which is sufficiently compact though could be better which interfaces with the USB Mini-B port. It takes about 3.5hrs to charge. To charge your device just use the USB cord you normally use and plug it into the USB Type A port. The power pack itself doesn’t come with a cable to charge. Press the indicator button to see how much of a charge is left. That’s about all there is to the device.

After not charging for a while, and watching a movie on the plane, my battery was getting pretty low. I decided to hook up the APC USB Mobile Power Pack and continue watching video. After about an hour or so (while watching more video), my battery was fully charged and the Power Pack still has about 75% of it’s charge remaining. Not bad at all. Rather than land with a drained battery as you typically do with gadgets, I had a full battery.

It’s not a bad device for a pretty reasonable price. Some airplanes have power outlets outside of first class, though may cost a little extra for those seats. In many cases they use EmPower® or a DC “cigarette lighter” port which require their respective adapters. This runs about the same cost as an adapter, and removes the requirement of being on a plane, in a seat that has a outlet handy. If you need to power a laptop, your going to need an outlet. For a mobile device, this is a much better solution.

Apple On iPhone/iPod touch Development

So it appears Apple is neutral on development for the iPhone/iPod touch platform. That’s according to Apple’s Greg Joswiak. He also confirms the lack of Bluetooth on the iPod touch. Interestingly he also notes the two devices are practically the same platform. Which makes me wonder: why is the iPod touch crippled? It doesn’t seem to make sense. I guess we’ll learn more once hackers get a hold of it and start tinkering. I’m sure someone will compare the two and see what’s different.

iPod touch Is Read Only

According to Gizmodo (boy I’m linking to them a lot lately) the iPod touch doesn’t have an add button for calendar. It runs the same software, so it was most likely just disable to persuade people to get an iPhone. Bluetooth likely removed to keep cost down. As I said yesterday it’s critical to keep that price in range.

Hopefully someone will hack together a fix, or Apple will realize this product is to crippled to be fun. If they didn’t disable features it would have been a PDA killer. Now it’s a tiny overpriced iPod with a big screen.

Engadget has the story as well. Comments are also interesting. It seems lots of people are very disappointed by this.

iPod touch 2nd Generation?

There’s been a storm of news about the new iPod lineup, and of course the iPhone price drop (and refund). Some interesting things have been said. I think Gizmodo has put it best. “iPod Overload Offers Up Hard Choices, No Clear Winning Device“. Between expense, poor provider (AT&T), lack of 3G, and being new, people are hesitant to move to the iPhone. Price and a mere 16GB is keeping people away from the iPod touch. The Classic and Nano feel pretty outdated for what they cost. The shuffle could put you to sleep.

Gizmodo’s title is pretty accurate, because it illustrates the problem with this lineup. There’s no easy choice, just a lot of concessions for most people. I’m guessing a few things will change in the first half of ’08

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Apple iPod touch – Applications Wanted

So Apple unveiled the new iPod today – iPod touch. I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve seen thus far. It’s pretty much the iPhone without the phone. The other big Apple news today, dropping the smaller iPhone was no big surprise. In all honesty not to surprised about the price drop either. They are ramping up for a big push.

It’s no secret that I’m interested in a replacement for my aging (4 year+) Sony Clie. It’s battery life is miserable, no WiFi, software is hard to find and buggy, and it doesn’t even compare to what’s out there now. Palm OS 4 was great for 2002, but doesn’t stand a chance in 2007. This might be what I’m looking for.

iPod touch

I don’t really care about the mp3 player (it’s not 2001 anymore), video could be cool, but I wouldn’t use it an awful lot either. I’d likely load a few things on there before going on vacation, but not much more than that. What I care about what’s under the hood, Mac OS X. And the hardware that runs it (awesome display, battery life, WiFi).

That said, before I’d take out the credit card, I want to see a few things:

  • Hack-ability – I want to see that third party apps can be hacked to run on it. If I can get terminal going, and run ssh, nano, vim, or emacs, and pine I’ll be very happy.
  • Mail – Someone already wrote an Apollo IM, an app for the iPhone based on libPurple (Pidgin/Gaim). If similar desire causes someone to write an email app, I’m golden. Webmail is survivable, client application is awesome.

If I see these things emerge in some form… I’ll be thrilled. That pretty much would make the sale. If I can add applications to it it will rock. If I’m limited to Apple’s offering, then I’d think twice, since I love the browser functionality, but want some power tools that a browser just can’t handle. It’s still a great device at a great price, but not living up to it’s potential as it is out of the box. Mac OS X is designed to be built on top of.

Also on the wants list, but wouldn’t hold me up:

  • Offline Web BrowsingGoogle Gears would be most useful to have Google Reader on the go.
  • Calendar – Could be either a basic iCal clone, or just Google Calendar with Google Gears. Either would rock.
  • Address Book – Won’t take long for this to surface. Cell phone can handle it anyway. In the mean time a text file and terminal will do just fine. grep anyone?

They really should just open the platform up. Even if it’s “at your own risk” with a big warning every time you run something for the first time. Firefox on this thing would just rock. Would also be a step closer to Google Gears at that point (since it currently doesn’t support Safari even on the desktop, much less Apple’s new handheld product line).

Update [09/05/2007 @ 11:13 PM EST]: According to Ars Technica the iPod touch does have an address book and calendar! Come on third party apps!

Mac Sales Up 33%

Apple Third Quarter Results:

Apple shipped 1,764,000 Macintosh® computers, representing 33 percent growth over the year-ago quarter and exceeding the previous company record for quarterly Mac® shipments by over 150,000. The Company also sold 9,815,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 21 percent growth over the year-ago quarter.

Now who is saying the Mac is dead 😉 ?

mozPod 0.2a1

mozPod 0.2a1 is available. It’s alpha because it hasn’t been as well tested as of yet. I wanted to get it out before Thunderbird 2.0 ships, and I’ve been getting a fair number of requests for it lately.

I’ve released MozPod 0.2a1 as an interim release for Thunderbird 2.0 users who want to use mozPod and see some new features. I decided to not support mozPod 0.1 on Thunderbird 2.0 to keep things easier to manage.

This is an alpha release and likely has some bugs. I wanted to get it out for those who want to start testing. This would be an ideal time as people want to move to Thunderbird 2.0.

Here’s the changes that matter:

  • Feature – Preliminary support for Lightning (if installed).
  • Enhancement – Thunderbird 2.0 support.
  • Enhancement – Some performance tweaks.
  • Fix – Sync all available AB’s.
  • Fix – Correctly handle notes that are more than one line.
  • Fix – Skip over LDAP servers in Address Book without failing.
  • Fix – Try to not hold lock on disks.

As usual, if you like it and want to encourage me to spend a little more time on it, feel free to do so. I do request some feedback. Let me know how it works for you.

I’ve got more extension goodness on the way. I’m planning to get to a real mozPod 0.2 release in the next few weeks. There may be a new extension on the way as well…

You download it from this link: mozPod 0.2

MacWorld SF

It’s MacWorld tomorrow. I’ll be watching the net closely to see what the almighty Steve announces. I’ve got the following predictions:

  • Mac OS X 10.5 Announced (99% Chance) – That means I get to be a geek and preorder from the Apple store.
  • More Video/Movies On iTunes (95% Chance) – This will be a big focus since Apple really wants this market.
  • .Mac Overhaul (80% Chance) – Don’t really care about this one personally since I don’t use the service.
  • iTV (72% Chance) – I doubt it’s ready. Either an announcement to expect summer delivery, and/or a more detailed preview. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they are ready.
  • Incremental Bumps For Various Computers (70% Chance) – Rather lame and generic for a prediction, but I think at least 1 computer line (most likely iMac, and Mac Pro) will see a speed bump. For the Mac Pro it would make most sense, since Intel just announced Quad Core Xeons.
  • Airport Extreme 802.11n Edition (68% Chance) – The rumors exist, and I think there is a decent shot. They likely need it for iTV.
  • Phone (60% Chance) – If it is, it will be the fabled ‘iPhone’, though likely under another name. Only reason I give it 60% odds is because of all the press. Otherwise I’d put it down to 25%. I don’t think it’s extremely likely, but there is to much press to ignore. Then again, I’m still waiting for my Apple PDA (ended up being the iPod).
  • New iPod (51% Chance) – I’m going out on a limb here. Despite pretty much no press, I think it’s time for the full screen iPod, with a true chipset designed for the purpose of video. I mentioned this before.
  • Software Upgrade(50% Chance) – Very likely some software, either an iWorks upgrade, or iTunes version.

So there are my predictions. I do believe it will be a very busy MacWorld with more announcements than usual. I expect volume to be one of the more notable things. A lot of things on all fronts. Not so much of a war on Microsoft, but a big grab at the “digital lifestyle”.

Lets see how I pan out this year.

Lightning Strikes The iPod

I started working to implement support for Lighting (project to integrate Calendar into Thunderbird) to sync with Apple iPods via mozPod. Didn’t take to long before I had a successful sync. It’s not done yet, and likely some big evil bugs (read: including but not limited to loss of data or first born child), but it’s well on the way!

That’s right, we now have the ability to sync contacts and calendar to the iPod on Mac/Windows (Linux still on the todo list, though it’s mostly there). It will require Thunderbird 1.5 or later. No release date just yet.

How cool is that? 😀