iPhone MMS is here for AT&T customers! Sigh…


As promised (late!) AT&T/Apple released the necessary Carrier update to allow MMS (Multimedia Messaging) on the iPhone 3G and 3GS.

When you plug your iPhone 3G or 3GS (not compatible with the original iPhone) into iTunes,  and check for updates you should now see the update for Carrier Settings is available. I downloaded and installed the update which only took literally about 10 seconds to download and install.


I didn’t notice any change at all until I powered the iPhone off and back on again. Once the iPhone came back up the preferences were there for MMS as well as the Camera icon in the Messages window.


It’s not soup yet


As I expected everyone must be doing this all at once and of course testing it all at once and the servers are slammed!  From my iPhone 3GS I get an error each time I try to send an MMS message although regular SMS messages go through. AT&T warned some customers (via an SMS message yesterday) that it may take time for the feature to actually work and it wouldn’t affect sending SMS. Well I’m seeing that "not working" that they mentioned. I tested another iPhone here and tried using it to send my iPhone an MMS and while it did send, I still haven’t received it yet on my iPhone 3GS (10 minutes has past).  So once again we/I wait….

   MMSsending       .MMSerror


UPDATE! Turns out my initial sending problem was AT&T account related (old data on the account). Called them and they corrected everything. All set now.


What’s your experience been with this update/feature?

iPhone App of the Week – Taxi Magic


I’ve spent the better part of this week doing a 3 part series on some of my favorite travel tips and accessories (see Part 1, 2 and 3). So I thought I would wrap things up this week with one of my new favorite Apps: Taxi Magic.


True Story

I was in a meeting in San Jose and during one of the breaks I checked my Genius App Recommendations and one of them was Taxi Magic. So out of curiosity I decided to take a look. First off, this app was getting hammered in the reviews. However, I didn’t let that stop me since the app was free and also one of the biggest complaints was the $1.50 charge if you pay for your Taxi with your credit card. I wasn’t too worried about that, so I downloaded the app.

At the end of the day I needed to go from the office in San Jose to the San Jose airport and I was going to go by Taxi. So I decided that this would be as good of a test as I could give it. I didn’t have much time and quite frankly if the app didn’t work, I may have been late/missed my flight. Risky, I know. 




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Hey AT&T! Summer is almost over! Where is my MMS?


For the Northern Hemisphere, as in the United States, Canada and most of Europe, Fall begins on September 22, 2009 at 5:18 pm EDT.

AT&T promised us that we would have MMS messaging for the iPhone this "Summer".  Although AT&T did recently announce that MMS is coming on September 25th (3 days after summer officially ends), there is still no word on Tethering support (which was given no timeline at all except for "in the Future").

I’m not a fan of AT&T nor do I hate them. I’ve had AT&T service for years before the iPhone. However, I’m starting to see WHY so many people complain about their service. The mere mention of AT&T in a public setting will usually get you a few glares and eye rolls.

We can speculate and take AT&T at their word that in order to allow for iPhones to do MMS, they had to do some network upgrades. However, the odd thing is that MMS is hardly new technology. All other AT&T phones can do this and have been doing this for years. Tethering is also not a new thing. Again, other AT&T smart phones can do this. What this really says is that although AT&T allows both MMS and Tethering on other phones, these features must either be rarely used by non-iPhone users or that they are so hard to do on other phones that most people don’t ever use these features. So it was OK to offer these features with the existing network to non-iPhone users because they couldn’t handle the traffic. Studies have shown that because the iPhone is so easy to use that 80% or more iPhone users do web browsing and email REGULARLY on their iPhones. So it’s a sure bet that iPhone users will also be using MMS too!

Note to AT&T: Advertising that you have the biggest, fastest 3G network doesn’t really mean much if you can’t actually do anything on it!

We all know that the minute Apple announces iPhone availability on another US carrier such as Verizon, that they will see an immediate increase in market share especially from those hold outs that have refused to go on AT&T’s service. Now what will really be interesting is how many people will LEAVE AT&T to go to Verizon for their iPhone service?




UPDATE: Seth, the AT&T Blogger responds!

A lesson in customer service – I’m trying to give you more money!


I’m not one to complain a lot. I count my blessings every day. I also understand how business works (most of the time). However, sometimes I run into a situation that boggles my mind. You may remember my review of the HyperMac External Battery a few weeks back. As a matter of fact I bought it for the trip that I’m on right now. Although my initial calculations seemed to suggest that I would have enough battery life for the long plane ride(s), I wanted to make sure by going with the next model up ($100 more). 

By the way, the battery did last the whole trip! It’s amazing!


Don’t you want my money?

I emailed the customer service guys over at HyperMac and explained that not only did I like their product, but I liked it so much that I wanted a larger one. My hope was that since I hadn’t really used it yet (other than the one day of testing), that I could simply exchange it for the next size up and pay the difference. I ordered it on 7/24/09 and sent the request to trade up on 8/15/09.  I was actually kind of shocked by the response:

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TripIt goes Pro!

 One of my favorite travel management website is tripit.com. I discovered TripIt when I reviewed the iPhone App FlightTrack Pro.



How does it work?

What makes TripIt so cool is that it doesn’t require you to manually enter the information about your trip. You simply forward your itinerary from your airline, hotel, rental car company, etc. to plans@tripit.com from the email address(es) that you registered from and TripIt.com will automatically add all of your travel information to your online itinerary. I was blown away that this even worked with the PDF itineraries that I get from my work travel agent.

Now what makes this even sweeter is that they have a Free iPhone App. The TripIt iPhone/iPod touch app allows you to see all the pertinent information about your upcoming trips.

TripIt also allows you to subscribe to an iCal/Outlook calendar of all your trips. 

  Continue reading “TripIt goes Pro!”

Create an Animated Slideshow on the Web with Animoto

 The next time you want to show your pictures with a little pizzaz, you might want to create an animated slideshow complete with soundtrack over at Animoto.com. The process is very simple and requires zero knowledge of video editing or animation apps.


Upload your photos

After you create a free account, you can immediately get started on your first animated slideshow. Your show will be limited to 12-15 images if you go with the free option.


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Vonage is still my choice


I’ve been a Vonage customer now for several years for my home office line and for VoIP on the go. Lately I’ve been getting a barrage of ads from Comcast trying to get me to go to their Digital Voice service on my home line. Even if I were going to switch this line over, I would probably go with Vonage instead. 


What is Vonage?

Vonage is a service provider for Voice over IP (VoIP). This means that you can get telephone service over your high speed internet connection instead of standard phone service from the phone company. The advantage is typically around price! Vonage offers unlimited calling for a flat rate of $24.99/month. This is unlimited local and long distance calling to anywhere in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, plus unlimited calling to landlines in Italy, France, Spain, UK and Ireland. I also get the vast majority of calling features (25+) offered by the phone company (AT&T) including: Call Waiting, Caller ID with Name, 3-Way Calling, Call Forwarding, etc. 


How does it work?


Once I signed up for Vonage they handled the phone number switch as well as shipping the Vonage router/phone adapter I needed to connect up to my network to actually have something to plug my standard telephone into. The router can either be used as a router for your network or simply plug it into your existing router. On the back there are two RJ-11 jacks for (for two line compatibility). Plug any standard landline/cordless phone in you want to use. It’s amazing, when someone calls your number, your phone rings. When you want to make a call, you pick up the phone you’ve always used and dial the number. 🙂

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I need a lens!



A few months back I took a trip to Page Arizona and I mentioned the fact that I rented the Nikon 14-24mm Wide Angle lens ($1,600). I also mentioned that I would tell you more about the company I rented it from. Well I’m finally getting around to it. I was reminded about this great service in two ways recently. One way was that it was mentioned on a recent episode of Nikon DTown TV and the other is that I have a family reunion coming up in a couple of weeks.


Sometimes renting is better


Let’s face it. You could go broke buying all the really nice lenses that are out there today. While I have no problem spending money on something that I’ll use and benefit from, there are just some things that I won’t use enough to justify the price of ownership. I have all the lenses I need for my day to day shooting. However, there are those special events that come up once or twice a year that you really need a specialty lens. For example, maybe you’re shooting a sporting event that will only happen once for you because you’re not a regular sports user. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice 200-400mm lens or maybe a 200mm f/2.0 lens? Well those lenses cost many thousands of dollars. So instead of buying them and only using them a couple of times a year, why not rent them for much much less?

To buy the Nikon 200-400mm lens would be $6,280. However, to rent it for a week would only cost $250.

To buy the Nikon 200mm f/2.0 lens would be $4,900. However, to rent it for a week would only cost $175.


LensPro To Go

These guys were great to work with! I met them personally at the last Photoshop World Conference and tried them out for my last vacation. Not only was the service very trouble free, I got to use the really nice glass that I really wanted to take and for a price that was really reasonable and well within my budget. You order the lens you want directly from their website. They offer insurance which I highly recommend, because it’s one thing to pay for a really nice lens, it’s another to pay for one that’s not even yours because it got damaged! My lens arrived in a really good Pelican case along with the Fedex prepaid airbill to ship it back. 


The Bottom Line

If you need a really nice lens but won’t be using it often, LensPro To Go is your answer! Check them out here.


AT&T FamilyMap vs. MobileMe Find My iPhone


A couple of months ago I reviewed AT&T’s FamilyMap service. This service allows you to track the location of the cellphones you have on an AT&T Family Plan. However, since that time Apple introduced the Find My iPhone feature, which works with iPhones and iPod touch devices as long as you have a MobileMe account ($99/year or less). After I posted my FamilyMap review, many of the blog readers here signed up for the free trial and many said the same thing. "It’s just not accurate enough." Now while I didn’t have a problem with the accuracy of it, I do have a problem continuing to pay for a service I may not need anymore. 


AT&T FamilyMap

This service works by giving you a website that you can go to and "Locate" your loved ones. Depending on the phone the accuracy and the ability to pinpoint the location can vary widely. For example, a phone with a built-in GPS is liable to be more accurately found than a phone without one as it would have to rely on cell tower triangulation. AT&T FamilyMap starts at $9.99/month for up to 2 phones and 14.99/month for up to 5 phones on the same family plan.


MobileMe – Find My iPhone

The MobileMe Find My iPhone feature only works with iPhones and iPod touch devices. You log in to the me.com website, click the settings icon and then click the Find My iPhone link. Your iPhone’s location will be pinpointed on a map. You have to have a MobileMe account to use this feature and MobileMe retails for $99/year (or less if on sale). In order to find more than one iPhone, you would need the Family Pack which is $149/year (or less if on sale). 

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Let ScanCafe do your scanning for you!


Believe it or not there was a time that I actually shot with, (gasp) film. Yes, I wasn’t always a digital photographer. Although I was an early adopter and saw the handwriting on the wall when I got my first Apple QuickTake Digital Camera, I did shoot with regular film cameras before then. I did NOT consider myself to be a photographer at that time. I was mostly doing family photos and photographing my travels. I had never used an SLR camera before and most of my equipment was of the point and shoot variety. No, I didn’t really get serious until digital came along. The picture above is from my trip to Egypt back in 1990. Is it a great shot? No not at all (as I cringe at the question), but it’s one of the few that I actually have of me from the trip. Therefore, it’s important to me.

With digital I have the vast majority of my catalog of images stored, well um, digitally. They exist on hard drives and backups of those hard drives. However, what about all those pictures I took before digital? Like many hobby photographers out there I have that "shoe box" of prints and negatives. Of course I also have those binders and binders of photo albums too. Most of this stuff is over 20 years old. There are a lot of good memories there too. 


It’s all starting to fade away


Negatives, Prints and Slides WILL deteriorate over time. My collection is no different. So I figured it was time to start transferring these precious memories into the digital world. For negatives and prints that means scanning! I’ve owned more scanners through the years than I care to think about. I even owned a couple of dedicated slide and negative scanners too. The one thing I’ve learned is that I just don’t have the patience or the time for scanning! I bought a low budget Film Scanner a few years back with good intentions on scanning my negatives and slides. I figured I’d do a few at a time whenever I had time. I started out at a good pace and realized that the results just weren’t what I hoped and that it was a tedious, slow and painful process. In order to get the quality I was looking for, my negatives would need to be cleaned and then corrected after they were scanned. Sorry, but I just don’t have that kind of time or will. So I boxed up the scanner and sold it on eBay. Yes, I gave up! I didn’t think about this project again for several more years.

  Continue reading “Let ScanCafe do your scanning for you!”