Archive for Podcrastination

Christmas Radio Countdown – Day 1

It’s no secret that I like pretty much everything about Christmas: Lights (lots of lights), decorations, baking, cooking, corny old Christmas TV specials, and of course Christmas music. I know there are a lot of people who think that Christmas music shouldn’t start until December 1, or at least the American Belated Thanksgiving but – in the true spirit of the season – screw them. Once we are within a month of the big day, it’s game on.

Unfortunately, your local radio station probably makes a complete hash of this. Even if they are already on the Christmas bandwagon they are probably playing the same 30 or 40 songs over and over and it gets pretty miserable after the first day or so. So it’s time to ditch tradition and branch out into on-line radio. There is something for everyone, you can keep things fresh all season long, and (best of all) you don’t have to listen to some vapid DJ exhorting you to be the seventh caller right now to win a fabulous prize pack of crap. It’s just music, lots of music, and ho ho ho all month long.

Let’s start with the (sort of) traditional. Happy Christmas Radio has been my “average day” go-to choice for the last three years. The playlist leans heavy on the classics, but with a lot of arrangements and artists that you simply do not hear on commercial radio. They add just enough poppy new stuff to keep you interested (although I might back off on the boy bands just a bit) and wrap it all up in a big commercial-free bow. This is definitely a “safe for everyone” choice. If you are sitting at your desktop you can listen via the web here, and if you are mobile you can find them on the TuneIn Radio app by searching for “Happy Christmas Radio”.

How To Listen To Radio

You might think that is a pretty stupid title. Everyone knows how to listen to radio, right? You turn on your radio and, well, listen.

Duh.

Things get a little more muddled, however, when you try and listen online … especially if you are doing in from a mobile device. Pretty much every broadcaster has a mobile app these days, and the one thing they have in common is that they all suck. Hard.

Over to the right we see a typical mobile app from a typical broadcaster*. Looking at the interface we can see that it has a volume bar, and a “stop” button and … um … well, that’s it. No PVR controls, no playlist, no bookmarking, no auxiliary data … no nothing.

Did I mention the part where these things suck? Hard?

Worse, you have to grab individual sucky apps for each and every broadcaster, cluttering up one of your screens or folders with a big collection of suck. Ugly icons, too.

Suck.

Hard.

Fortunately, there is a better way. Grab yourself a copy of the “TuneIn Radio” app for your smartphone or tablet and listen to radio with all of the features that you would expect would be standard on any listening app. Take a peek at the screen and you see snooze and alarm functions, browsing and bookmarking, playlists, sharing, and a full set of PVR controls for pausing, skipping back, replay, skipping ahead … in other words, all of the basics that you would thing would be in any mobile radio app that wasn’t actually written by complete idiots. Better, it offers pretty much every on-air and internet-only radio station in a single app, and includes off-beat fun like closed-circuit college broadcasts, podcasts, community stations, and even police radio.

And how much does it cost? Why nothing, of course. It’s free (as in beer) and if you really want to go all out there is a 99 cent premium version that adds a “record” button to the controls.

So now the title makes sense. The bingo-callers and other assorted on-air fenderheads constantly pimp their “listen live” apps as if they are something other than complete shit. But now that you know how to listen to radio, you can avoid all of that, grab yourself a copy of TuneIn and … um, tune in. For real.

*NOTE: Some people might say I am being unfair using Rogers as my “typical broadcaster” since they are renowned – not just across Canada but around the world – for their rich legacy of technical ineptitude and shitty service. But the rest really aren’t any better, and Rogers more than deserves the abuse. So deal.

The Bluetooth Talking Glove

A winter glove with bluetooth circuitry, a microphone, and a tiny speaker built in. Is this a clever idea? Maybe – there are always people who can’t find a comfortable bluetooth earpiece, or are in a ultra-high-wind situation, or whatever. Those folks may find real value in this. But the real question is this: Will you look like a complete tool using this?

According to the handy photos on the web site … yes. Definitely yes.

Bluetoothglove-1

iOS 6.1 Jailbreak Available Now

Veteran readers will remember the existence of a page on this site that was a step-by-step walkthrough of a long and rather torturous process to jailbreak and subsequently unlock your iPhone. That page is long gone now. Why? Because there is a simple one-step unlocking process now thanks to the mad geniuses over at Evasi0n. Just download the app on your choice of OSX, Linux, or Windows, plug in your phone, follow the “Important! Read me!” steps, and off you go. Done and done.

Of course, at this point the whole jailbreaking exercise is pretty much nothing more than an interesting academic exercise unless you need to unlock your phone. The “official” app ecosystem is so much more robust than the underground stuff that the very few things you can only do via jailbreaking are generally things you don’t really want to do anyway. If you do need to unlock your phone, however, don’t get all excited yet. There is an iOS 6.1 version of Ultrasnow promised for later in the week, but until it actually arrives it’s always best not to count all your puppies in one basket. Or whatever. But if you want to jailbreak now to be ready, then go ahead and fill your boots.

Also, did I mention that you really need to read (and follow!) the “Important! Read me!” steps? Yes? Good.

Did Someone Say 128GB?

So that particular cat didn’t stay in the bag for very long at all. Retina display iPads with 128GB packed in, $799 for WiFi and $999 for WiFi + cellular. Interestingly, that is 100 dollars less than the maximum-sized 64GB Surface Pro. Twice the storage for a c-note less. Remember, kids, Apple products are overpriced. Everyone knows that, right?

Pre-order now, in stores on February 7.

128GB Devices Referenced In iOS 6.1

How’s that for a to-the-point headline? iOS 6.1 is available for your Apple small-screen and compact-screen devices today, and if you are using the new firmware with your SDK, you will see this interesting addition to the partition keys:

Does it mean that 128GB iPhones, iPads, and iPods are a done deal? No, not at all. But adding the reference structure to this much memory is not a trivial amount of work, and someone at Apple has decided that it was important to invest a serious chunk of development time and effort into this potential capability, so it’s a good bet that Apple is going to raise the bar on tablet and possibly phone storage this spring. A nice card to play in a development season when two desperate former competitors – RIM and Microsoft – will be making high-profile “Sydney or the bush” efforts to claw back into the game.

Stay tuned.

A Christmas Soundtrack

There are a lot of online audio streams of Christmas music for your enjoyment this year, and quite a few of them are downright excellent. But if you listen to only one online stream this yuletide season, make it “A Christmas Soundtrack” out of San Francisco … if for no other reason than it’s pretty hard to argue with Ozzy Osbourne and Jessica Simpson busting out a duet of “Walking In A Winter Wonderland.”

Really.

Available both on the web and via the TuneIn Radio app. Pick your poison and enjoy. Ho ho ho.

Ping, We Hardly Knew Ye.

Quietly and without announcement or fanfare, Apple has pulled the plug on Ping. It never really worked, I think mostly due to the music companies’ refusal to allow listens from other people’s playlists. Inane, I know. Most rational people – including the folks that dreamed up Ping – realize that if I hear a song that is not in my library and I like it (mostly because it came from a playlist of someone who thinks like me) there is a very good chance I might buy it. But to the mandarins of the music biz, even hearing a song without owning it was stealing. My god, they want to steal more music!

So yeah, end of the line. The vast majority of people will never miss it. It was a good idea that was crippled from the word go, and in retrospect I’m sort of surprised it lasted this long. Kudos on knowing when to throw in the towel, though … few things are more embarrassing than a sad and dead so-called social product.

MLB.TV Season Ending Special

If you follow an out-of-town baseball team, MLB.TV is a godsend. All the games, on any digital device. Period. The only problem is that for casual fans, the regular price of 100-and-some-odd bucks a season is a bit steep. Luckily, the mandarins at MLB put the thing on special once or twice a year, and the “season ender” is usually a pretty sweet deal. This year is no exception – for today and tomorrow you can subscribe for 10 bucks, that will get you every game from now until the end of the season on your iOS and Android devices, gaming consoles, computer, and AppleTV. Pretty hard to beat, especially on iOS boxes and computers with the stats-enhanced screen display. Batter up.

Yellow Submarine

As part of the ongoing love-fest between the iTunes store and their newly acquired Beatles catalogue, you can get a really swank book version of Yellow Submarines for free. That’s right, gratis. It’s full of animated sequences and page furniture and it generally a delight to explore. And did I mention that it’s free?

Free.

Download it from iTunes for your iPad or iPhone (hint: It’s a lot groovier on the iPad) right here.