My 2007 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide is here!

It’s that time of year already! I’ve just completed my annual "Terry White’s 2007 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide". That’s right it’s my guide to help you with you holiday shopping for the gadget lover (freak) on your list. The way this thing started was last year towards the holiday season all my friends started asking me and emailing about what my picks were in various categories and of course the answers were the same. So I decided to compile a list and just email it to the folks that asked. Then I followed my buddy Scott Kelby’s lead and decided to formalize the process with my very own interactive PDF.

The guide is broken out by product category and lists my picks from the lowest dollar amount to the highest. So there are products in just about every price range. The guide is interactive with links to each of the products (just click on the product shot or price) on sites that I trust to make online purchases from and have dealt with in the past. Each of the products are either products that I use or products that come highly recommended by friends whose opinions I trust.

So check it out today!

 

PS. As you might have guessed the entire guide was built in Adobe InDesign CS3 and Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional.

An awesome lens

I’ve been building my arsenal of lenses over the years and I’ve decided that the only way to go is up. I’ve got wide-angle and a multi-purpose 18-200mm Nikon VR lens, but I wanted something really fast and tack sharp so I’ve been eyeing the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens. This is a serious piece of glass. It’s f/2.8 all the way through the range of 70-200mm. I’ve seen more and more Nikon shooters go this route and all the reviews I’ve read were positive. The only thing most reviewers complained about was the size and weight. However, you can’t break the laws of physics. So I decided to plunk down the $1,600 asking price for this baby and I ordered it for it to arrive in time for my weekend trip to Florida. The lens arrived on Friday and although I unboxed it so I could pack it, I resisted temptation to attach it to my camera and take it for a spin. That’s right, I waited until I was on location at my buddy Dave’s (Lord Vader : ) wedding to give it a work out.

Zoomed in in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to 1:1 and keep in mind that this shot was taken from a distance and hand held. The VR (Vibration Reduction) helped!

 

It’s a thing of beauty (and mass). Weighing in at 3.2 lbs. While 3.2 lbs doesn’t sound like a lot, it is when you add the camera body to it. So for those shooters looking for the "feel of a real camera" this one is for you. For those looking for something small to fit in your fanny pack, look elsewhere.

Dave and his beautiful bride Lisa

 

The lens performed well considering that I was hand holding it the whole time. The response time was awesome and the images were impressive. I can’t wait to go out and shoot some landscapes now.

The shots above were taken with my Nikon D80 and the Nikon Zoom Telephoto AF VR Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8D G-AFS ED-IF Autofocus Lens (catchy name, huh?)

I got the lens from B&H Photo and Video $1,624.95. Now bring on the Nikon D3 and D300!


50 ways to make the iPhone better

While I still feel that the iPhone is absolutely the best phone/PDA I’ve ever seen or used, I’ve always said that there was room for improvement. So I started a list of things that I would like to see in future iPhone updates. Sure we’d all like to see a 16GB, 3g, GPS enabled, user removable battery, officially unlocked iPhone, but that would require new hardware. What I’m proposing are 50 things that would make the existing iPhone better and these things CAN be done via software/firmware updates.

 

Top 50 Wish List for Future iPhone Updates:

1 – Ability to use My OWN ringtones (sounds, music, etc.) The iTunes store will NEVER have some of the sounds I want to use.
2 – Sync Notes to the computer (probably coming in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard)
3 – Cut/Copy Paste system wide
4 – Email anything (besides notes, photos URLs) Contacts, maps, directions, voicemail messages as attachments, etc.
5 – MMS (Multimedia Messaging – send pictures/movies directly to another phone)
6 – Consolidated Mail inBox and an easier way to jump between accounts than going back, back, back
7 – Flash support in Safari
8 – Video and Voice (Memo) Recording
9 – Color coded or Separate Calendar views (just like iCal does today)
10 – Searchable Contacts
11 – To be able to assign ringtones to groups of Contacts
12 – Wireless Syncing iPhone to Computer over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
13 – Voice dialing
14 – Dial-up Networking (use the iPhone as a modem)
15 – iPhones on AT&T corporate plans (discounts or not, I shouldn’t have to setup a personal account to use the iPhone on AT&T)
16 – Landscape Keyboard entry in all the apps
17 – Additional Audio email attachment support for files in Vonage (u-LAW encoded) WAV format
18 – Email to a group of Contacts
19 – iChat/AIM client built-in
20 – Calculator CE (clear entry) key
21 – Native Microsoft Exchange support (MS Direct Push or 3rd party support).
22 – Wireless stereo music playback over Bluetooth and AirTunes
23 – A one button Redial feature (example: triple tap the Home button)
24 – A "Dialed" list in addition to "Recent" and "Missed Calls"
25 – Ability to play music directly from the Slideshow feature
26 – Built in Unit Converter
27 – To Do’s, sync’d with iCal/Outlook
28 – Password/Pin protected Notes
29 – An option that lets me choose what screen I land on when I wake my iPhone; it can either be (a) whichever I screen I was at last, like it does now, or (b) I can choose to always start at another screen (like the phone favorites, or the Home, etc.).
30 – Being able to rotate Mail like Safari 90 degrees
31 – Keynote app (now with TV out, you could use your iPhone for slide presentations without needing your laptop)
32 – Pseudo GPS based on cell towers to tie in with Google Maps feature
33 – General file storage like a USB drive (Enable iPhone as a Hard Drive)
34 – Support for Stereo Audio over Bluetooth headphones
35 – Support for a Bluetooth Wireless Remote AND the ability to use the iPhone as a Remote
36 – Sound Profiles (example: I would create a profile that turns off all sounds except incoming calls for traveling)
37 – Auto dialing of a string of numbers/pauses (ie. you dial your company voicemail and tap a button to dial your ext. and pin)
38 – Built in "Movies" widget (show times, buy tickets, trailers) Yes I know there are good web based ones. Having one built-in would be faster to access and could remember your settings.
39 – Safari password remember/store feature (Keychain for the iPhone)
40 – Multiple email signatures (also the ability to assign default ones per account)
41 – Mail spam filtering
42 – Mail Rules
43 – Full Bluetooth support on the Mac (Browse the device, dial from Address Book, etc.)
44 – Delete multiple items at once such as emails
45 – iPod songs as Alarm sounds
46 – A true RSS reader (the one in Safari desktop would be a good start)
47 – Call duration display
48 – SMS to multiple Contacts
49 – .Mac Push Email
50 – The ability to direct ALL of the Audio sources over Bluetooth (such as email attachments, audio on web pages)
51 – Built in Dictionary/Thesaurus

 

OK I lied, I have 51 things that I would like to see. So here’s the thing. While it’s great that I’ve shared these ideas with you, we really need Apple to see these ideas. So if you read the list above and were thinking, "yeah, that would be cool", then head over to Apple’s iPhone Feedback Page and make your suggestions known. Knowing how software development works, project managers make a list of the top requested features and usually that becomes the basis of the next or future updates.

 

iToner is working again

The great folks over at Ambrosia Software have managed to update iToner to work with the latest iPhone 1.1.1 software and I’m VERY HAPPY to have my custom ringtones back. If Apple would leave these guys alone then that would be one thing that could come off my list above.

 

Native apps on the horizon

It’s great that Apple has announced an SDK is on the horizon and will allow 3rd party developers to create apps for the iPhone. In the meantime Apple has published a list of web based apps, many of which are quite good.

 

Competition is good

It appears that Amazon.com’s new DRM Free MP3 store has given Apple a wake up call and Apple recently announced a price drop of their DRM free (iTunes Plus) tracks which used to sell for $1.29 each and now are only 99¢ which is where many felt they should have been from the start.

Klix saved my bacon

She’s jumping for joy for a reason!

While I like to think I’m organized when it comes to my computers and file management, sometimes I’m not. I did a photo shoot last month of a friend who has a really interesting face and great features. The shots were on a memory card and I never got around to importing them in to my computer. I had another shoot last week and when I picked up my camera before leaving the house I turned it on and I could tell by the number of available shots that I had some on the card. Since I wanted to start fresh I was going to format the card, but of course I checked to see what was on it first (or so I thought). I previewed the first couple of shots which I recognized (not the ones of my friend) and said, "oh yeah I’ve downloaded those already I can erase the card!" BIG MISTAKE! While I had previously downloaded those first couple that I looked at, I didn’t look at all of the shots and sure enough I deleted the ones of my friend Hosain.

Luckily when I went to do the new shoot I ended up shooting tethered and bypassing the card altogether which means I didn’t write any new data to the card. Well a couple of days ago I realized that I didn’t have the shots of Hosain and panic mode set in. I calmly took the card out of the camera and set it aside. I had bought a copy of Klix from Prosoft Engineering when they visited my users group a few months ago. Now I don’t generally review recovery software  because, it’s one of those things that I hope I never have to use. However, this was a perfect chance to try out Klix because It was exactly what I needed to get me through this minor disaster. I installed the software and keyed in my serial number. I then popped in the memory card and it stared to scan the card for shots immediately. While it doesn’t take that long, it seems like it’s going in slow motion because you’re sitting there waiting with baited breath to see if your shots are going to be found. A few minutes later the missing shots were in view!

It not only found the ones I needed, but it found shots from several shoots. I only recovered the ones I needed which were shot in Camera RAW and it worked PERFECTLY!

This is one of those apps that I hope I never need to use again. However, if I ever find myself in a bonehead situation like this again I wouldn’t be able to launch this app fast enough. My only ask for a future update is that when you click the Recover button to recover your shots to a folder on your drive, the software doesn’t let you create a new folder in that dialog box. Other than that small little request, the software worked AS ADVERTISED! Highly recommended to all digital photographers to keep handy.

Klix is available for Mac and PC (in the same box) and goes for $29.95.


Tuesday afternoon news bytes

The folks in Cupertino have been a little busy today. Apple has announced that Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) will ship on the highly rumored date of Friday, October 26, 2007. They published a list of the 300 new features.

Also if you live in the Michigan area, Apple will be opening its 5th store in the state. The Apple Store, Partridge Creek, opens its doors at 10:00 a.m., October 18th. As usual you can expect lines and free t-shirts to the first 1,000 visitors. Apple stores are doing very well and the ones we already have here are constantly PACKED with people.

 

Aperture vs. Lightroom: What do Pros use?

I get the question a lot of "what’s the difference between Aperture and Lightroom?" and of course I respond "just buy Lightroom." Actually I’m kidding. I explain that while I can tell you about the features of Lightroom quite extensively, I’ve never really used Aperture, so I’m going to be a little (ok a lot) biased. However, our good friend John Nack at Adobe has some interesting stats on what the pros are using. Head over to his blog to check them out.

 


5 Million Thank You’s

I have to take this opportunity to thank all of my listeners/watchers. My Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast has reached over 5 Million Unique Downloads! I’m close to my 200th episode and the response has been phenomenal. Last year I made the iTunes Peoples Choice list and this year has been just fantastic.

So thanks for tuning in and taking to the time to watch my content and provide such great feedback!

If you haven’t checked it out, go do so now. It’s free and you can subscribe right in iTunes.

Scott Kelby visits Motown

Scott Kelby paid MacGroup-Detroit a visit yesterday where he unveiled his NEW 7=Point System for Adobe Photoshop CS3. It’s always a pleasure and an honor to have Scott pay us a visit as this is the only user group meeting that Scott does each year and it’s really exciting when he shows us never before shown tips and techniques. His presentation was based on his New book (yep, you guessed it)
Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop CS3. Scott took us through the 7 techniques that could be used to fix just about any photo.

Thanks to Shirley Kussner (one of Scott’s biggest fans) for organizing this visual welcome!

As you can see from the shots above (photos by Mike Brady), we paid Scott a very warm welcome and it was just a big Scott Kelby love fest with about 200 people in attendance. If you missed the meeting, you missed a good one, but you don’t have to miss the techniques. Order Scott’s NEW book today!

Scott delivers another knock out presentaton!

A better iPhone headphone adapter

It’s a well published fact that the iPhone has a recessed headphone jack which means that most 3rd party headphones don’t go all the way down in the jack because they’re too fat. I expect that over time headphone manufactures will make the base of their plugs thinner. In the meantime, if you want to use your favorite headphones on the iPhone you’re going to need an adapter.

I knew that Griffin Technologies was working on their adapter, but it didn’t ship until recently. So like many of you I had no choice but to go with the incredibly long and awkward Belkin adapter. While I think Belkin does a pretty good job with accessories in general, I can’t believe how badly their adapter is designed.

Although it look ridged, it does actually bend in the middle, but not easily and I certainly wouldn’t call it flexible by any means. What’s worse is that it literally sticks out like a sore thumb of your beautifully crafted iPhone. So needless to say I placed my order for the Griffin adapter as soon as I could. I got my Griffin
Headphone Adapter for iPhone a few days ago and it looks and works much better.

Since both adapters are the same exact price, I can’t think of a single reason not to go with the Griffin adapter over the Belkin one.

If you have an iPhone, or plan to get one, order your adapter today. $9.99 at
Griffin’s site.


eBay creates a rich internet app using AIR

If you’re into technology and gadgets you almost have to be into eBay as well. How else would you get rid of that older gear that you had to have at the time, that isn’t as cool anymore?

eBay is my favorite site for not only cleaning out my basement and garage, but it’s also a site that I use to find good deals on new gear. So anything I can do to make that experience go faster or better, I’m all for it. eBay Desktop lets you create your own eBay environment to track the items that you’re interested in. You can do searches, place bids and have it continously update while you are connected all without ever touching your web browser.

eBay decided to use Adobe’s Integrated Runtime (AIR) technology which allows anyone to create rich internet applications that are cross platform and stand alone.

"We wanted for a long time to create a desktop presence. Previously, our team agreed it was too expensive and couldn’t be done. Then along came Adobe AIR."
– Alan Lewis, Product Manager, eBay Desktop

AIR lets developers leverage HTML, CSS, AJAX, Adobe Flash and Adobe Flex technologies.

You can download the new FREE eBay desktop here. You can learn more about AIR here.

Apple and iPhone ringtones, ARGGGH!

This is really getting old fast! As I wrote yesterday, I was happy with the latest iPhone 1.1.1 update. Since I don’t have a hacked iPhone I was free to put the update one without fear of losing the ability to use the phone. However, what I wasn’t expecting (I don’t know why) was that Apple would once again wipe out my custom ringtones! Yep, Apple clearly wants to OWN and CONTROL adding ringtones to the iPhone.

 

I get it, ringtones are big business

I know, I know, ringtones are a potentially huge source of revenue. There are issues with the record labels wanting ANOTHER cut of the song you already bought because they view ringtones as a different use. I’m not going to argue this no matter how ridiculous I think it is because I won’t win. It defy’s all logic in my mind that if I can put a song on my iPhone and play the whole song through the built-in speakers that I would have to pay the full price of the song AGAIN just to hear a small portion of it on the same iPhone when the phone rings!

Although I don’t want to continue this losing argument I will give you some more food for thought as to why Apple’s approach doesn’t make sense to me: Let’s take the iPod for example. It’s an MP3 player and Apple sells music, videos, TV shows and movies through the iTunes store. However, if you never bought a single thing from iTunes, you would still be able to rip your own CDs and convert your own videos to a compatible format and put them on the iPod. Heck, iTunes evens facilitates this FREE of charge. Let’s say you’re a musician and you record your own music. You can even do so with Apple’s own Garageband software that comes with all new Macs and put that music on your iPod too. Because the iPod is so free in this respect, Apple has sold millions of units. Now imagine if Apple started selling iPods that ONLY allowed content from the iTunes store. How many iPods would they sell then? So if I can put my own music and movies and sounds on the iPod or the iPhone and Apple doesn’t care, why would they care about where the sound comes from that I hear when the phone rings? If I record myself saying "ring ring" (which I didn’t, I’m just making a point), clearly I have ALL RIGHTS to that sound and there is nothing in the technology that should stop me from making that sound my ringtone. As a matter of fact, I could do this with my Treo and I could with my RAZR without too much effort. Before yesterday, I could even do this with my iPhone thanks to the help of iToner. Yet, Apple seems hell bent on taking away this basic ability away in favor of their own very limited (only a very small fraction of songs available from iTunes are ringtonable. Only 500,000+ songs out of the over 6 million songs available) paid ringtone service. Under the current model let’s say you bought an Earth, Wind and Fire CD years ago and you ripped it into iTunes. Let’s say you wanted to make a ringtone out of “In The Stone”. You’d have to go to the iTunes store and buy the “In The Stone” track AGAIN. Then you’d have to spend another 99¢ to convert part of it to a ringtone. So technically you would have bought the song 3 times.

 

I’m not cheap…

It’s not a matter of the cost of a ringtone. In fact as far as ringtone businesses go, Apple’s is actually cheaper than the other guys (Sprint, Verizon, etc.). They’re even fairer in their approach in that you get the whole song, you get to pick which portion of the song that you want to use as the ringtone and the ringtone doesn’t expire after so many weeks/months of use. The problem is not price, it’s selection! Even if I wanted to give up this "cat and mouse game" and just say "screw it" and buy the 3 or 4 ringtones I wanted to use, none of the ones I want are available as ringtones on iTunes. If Apple had the songs or sounds that I wanted to use, it would actually be CHEAPER for me to just buy them from iTunes than paying the $15 for iToner. So it’s not the money.

Let’s say I was a musician and wanted to use my own music as a ringtone. The way it works now, I would first have to cut a deal with Apple and HOPE that they approved my music for sale on the iTunes store as an independent label (wish me luck, espcially if you’ve heard me sing). Then I would have to buy MY OWN track from them for 99¢ or 1.29¢ and then buy the right to convert it to a ringtone for an additonal 99¢ and it’s my own song!

Apple needs to abandon this monopolistic approach on the iPhone if they want to continue to build good will and continue to have loyal customers. If you build the best iPhone ringtone service, you’ll get your fair share of the business from those out there who buy ringtones. You don’t have to block every attempt from your CUSTOMERS to spin their own.

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