Apple’s iOS 5 Goes Live – How to Update

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that you would like to upgrade to IOS 5, you can do it now. Apple made the upgrade available about 1 pm (eastern) today.

Upgrading is easy. You can make it even easier by doing two preliminary preparations:

1. Download iTunes 10.5. This version just became available last night, so you probably don’t have it yet. To get it, start  iTunes, click on the About menu option, and click on Check for Updates. Then follow the on-screen directions to complete the update.

2. Update all of your applications.

Once that is done, you can proceed to the iOS 5 update:

1. Plug your iPhone (3GS or 4), iPad (original or iPad 2), or iPod touch (3rd or 4th generation) into your computer with the USB cord.

2. If iTunes doesn’t open automatically, launch it by clicking on the iTunes icon.

3. On the left side of the iTunes windows, find your device, for example, “Sandy’s iPad,” and click it.

4. Click on the button that says “Update.” Then follow the on-screen directions.

New Kindles – Inexpensive eBook Readers

New Kindle

Last week Amazon announced several new versions of the Kindle, their popular eBook reader. Not only will the new Kindles be inexpensive, but Amazon is lowering the price of the current Kindle.

The Kindle that Amazon has been selling for $114, and the one that I own, will now be $99. That Kindle has a gray scale screen and a built-in keyboard. It also has Amazon’s Special Offers, which are ads that appear in certain areas, but do not interfere with the text when you are reading.

Amazon will now also have a $79 Kindle which is basically the same, but without the keyboard. The screen size and quality will the same, but the unit itself will be smaller because they were able to completely cut out the keyboard. Unless you take a lot of notes, the physical keyboard is kind of superfluous anyway. The four-way controller will still be available for moving around the screen and an on-screen keyboard will appear if you need to type something.

A new Kindle Touch with a touchscreen and Wi-Fi will sell for $99 with Special Offers. 3G versions of the Kindle Touch and Kindle with Keyboard will also be available for an additional cost of $40 or $50, depending on the model. All of these have black and white screens, which I find excellent for “easy-on-your-eyes” reading.

When I reviewed Amazon’s first Kindle in June of 2008, it was selling for $349. The new Kindles are better and obviously much cheaper. These new Kindle’s will make great holiday gifts at affordable prices.

iOS 5 — Apple’s New OS — Update your iPad & iPhone Now

Along with Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 4S, came another very important announcement — iOS 5. This is Apple’s newest operating system. Although it will come preinstalled on the new iPhones when they are released on Oct. 14th, it will be available for other Apple devices tomorrow.

If you have an iPhone, iPad, our iPod touch, you won’t want to miss out on this. It promises to be a fantastic upgrade. And it is FREE!

iOS 5 will work on the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4. It will also work with 3rd and 4th generation iPod touches and both versions of the iPad.

Install it by hooking up your device to iTunes and checking for an update. Once installed you should see a new Notification area, Twitter integration, a new Reminder feature, and improvements to navigation, surfing, messaging, and picture taking.

Apple didn’t say exactly what time the update will be available, but I am going to try to be the first in line!

If you don’t want to be first in line, I understand. Check back here in a day or two for my take on how hard or easy the download was and how worthwhile iOS 5 really is before you download it.

The New iPhone — 4S

It’s not the iPhone 5, as much of the media has expected. Instead it will be called the iPhone 4S. The case and the screen will be basically the same. It will have a faster processor, faster graphics, better battery life, better camera with 1080p video, and a better antenna system. It will also be a world phone, so you can use it for traveling overseas.

All of these features are already available in a variety of Android phones. The 4S will only have 3G capabilities. It won’t take advantage of the new 4G cellular network that makes data transfers faster. Many Android phones already have 4G capability.

It looks like where the iPhone 4S will trump the Android operating system is in it’s addition of verbal commands. You will be able to ask the 4S  every day questions and have it answer you. Also, Apple has included a complete overhaul of their iOS operating system. So the software on this iPhone is bound to be better and have new features.

I think the fact that Apple called it the iPhone 4S instead of the iPhone 5 says a lot. Instead of being an entirely new revision of hardware and software, it is only incrementally better. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be a great smart phone. It is sure to sell extremely well, but unless the new operating system is truly more spectacular than the Android operating system, I won’t be in a hurry to buy one.


Free Songs & Apps from Starbucks

Starbuck's Pick of the Week

Who doesn’t like a freebie? And this one is fun.

Just head over to your local Starbucks and grab a small card called “Pick of the Week.” You will find these cards on the Starbucks counter near the straws, sugar, and creamer. On the card you will find instructions for downloading the free song from iTunes and a download code. Songs include the type of music that you hear in Starbucks – jazz, independent artists, guitar music, etc. If you visit every week, you can accumulate quite a collection of free music.

Besides songs, these cards also offer free apps, TV shows, book samples and other content from the iTunes store.

You can also bring your laptop or other device with you to Starbucks and connect to the Starbucks Wi-Fi where you can download the Pick of the Week from the Entertainment section.

Inexpensive E-Reader and Tablet Just in Time for the Holidays

Kindle Fire
Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire

Amazon’s big announcement today will bring several new and/or updated devices to market for the Christmas selling season at some remarkable prices.

The first two are perfect Christmas presents. The new base level Kindle with Special Offers will be smaller, lighter, faster, and cheaper. It has no keyboard, but the price will now be $79, down from $114. This is available now.

At $99, the new Kindle Touch with Wi-Fi will also make a great holiday present. The KindleTouch with 3G connectivity will be $149. Both are gray-scale e-ink with 6-inch touch screens. These will be available on November 21st.

The third Amazon product is the one that is sure to rock the boat. Amazon is calling it the Kindle Fire. It has a color 7” touch screen and will sell for $199 when it is released on November 21st. They are billing it as the perfect color Kindle (read that as tablet) for movies, TV shows, music, books, magazines, games, and web browsing. This device will run on the Android operating system. Amazon has already opened their own Android app store. They have also developed a  special Amazon web browser, called Silk, for the Fire.

The Kindle Fire will not have a screen as large as the iPad. It will not have as much memory or as powerful a processor. It will not have a camera or a microphone. So it will not be an iPad killer. It will instead open the market place to another level of tablet. If the implementation is as good as it sounds, the $199 price point will allow  many who cannot afford the $500+ iPad to get into the tablet world.

The beauty of all this for Amazon is that Amazon will make Amazon purchasers out of all the Kindle and Kindle Fire purchasers. This allows them to subsidize the cost of the device. This is something that no other tablet manufacturers could not do as effectively as Amazon. Other manufacturer brought out tablets that were priced at the high end like the iPad. These tablets include HP’s TouchPad, RIM’s Blackberry Playbook, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, and Motorola’s Xoom. All of these have already flopped.

Amazon’s reach for the low end of the tablet market is ingenious. If the implementation is as good as previous Kindle devices, it will give us some great choices for holiday presents this year.

Google Doodle Honors Muppet Creator Jim Henson

Google Doodle Muppets

I love the Google Doodles. As a matter of fact, I check out Google’s homepage almost everyday to see if they have a special Doodle. Today I was quite pleased to see a new Doodle honoring the 75th anniversary of the birthday of late Muppets creator Jim Henson, who was born on September 24, 1936.

The Doodle features six colorful Muppet characters that are shaped like the letters G-O-O-G-L-E. If you click on the colored circle beneath each of the characters, you can get them to open their mouths, follow your curwor with their eyes. Be patient and play a little and you will see one of the Muppets throw his glasses in the air and another Muppet who actually eats his neighboring Muppet.

Cute and worth a look!


Where Do You Get Free WiFi?

Where do you go to get free WiFi? Here are come great ideas.

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Netflix’s CEO Offers Bogus Apology

Today I received an email from Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix. It reads in part,

“I messed up. I owe you an explanation….  I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.”

He thinks that giving us an explanation of what he was doing would have changed everything.  Mr. Hastings doesn’t seem to understand that the million subscribers who left Netflix over the price increase felt used and abused and no explaination would have changed that. Those of us who had been supporting Netflix for months and years needed to be shown that Netflix appreciated our support. They should have offered us a discount, even if only for a period of time. Then more of us might have stayed.

Mr. Hasting’s email only made me more aggravated by the whole situation. Now I may never go back to Netflix. I am happily using Redbox to rent DVDs and Amazon to stream videos to my television. Too bad Mr. Hastings — You blew it and now you are making it even worse.

Just in case you’re interested, Hasting’s entire email is below:

I messed up. I owe you an explanation.
It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.
For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.
So here is what we are doing and why.
Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.
I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.
So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.
It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.
Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the and websites will not be integrated.
There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the website is up and ready.
For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.
I want to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.
Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.
Respectfully yours,
-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix
p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.


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