What’s that app – #1

Todays post comes a request I got recently, which is what apps does the Beastly one have on his iPhone. I know, this won’t be for everyone. Some of you have Blackberries, some have Androids, and others have two halves of coconuts that you bang together.

 

I don’t know about you, but there are times when texting takes too much attention and finger typing, but there’s not enough to say  to justify a phone call. That’s where HeyTell comes in.

heytell-iphone-144770.320x460.1266062603.0418This, very cool, very handy, app turns your iPhone into a walkie-talkie. When I first came across this I thought it was a clever gimmick, but after using it a few times I realized how useful it really is.

When you open the app you’re given a with a big orange button on it. Pretty clear, so far. You press it and speak your message. But before you just fire off your mental wanderings to the great unknown, you may want to pick just one lucky person to receive your message.

Above the orange button there’s a smaller button that looks like a green PacMan about to eat a ball. Pressing that will open your contacts. From there you can pretty much figure it out.

Now, back to the juicy stuff.  Now you’ve got your contact selected and all that’s left is just pressing the orange button and 2-heytellspeaking. When you release it it’ll send your voice message off to them. In a matter of seconds, or less, they’ll get your message… providing they have the app too.

If you’re not in the app when you get a message HeyTell will pop up on your screen letting you know. And if you have turned on HeyTells location service in the iPhones settings screen then you can send your location when you send a message. This is a useful feature for locating people you’re either meeting up with, or other situations I can’t be bothered to think up.

Messages are stored and can be played back. I’ve use this app all the times and it’s a great time saver. I could coo and gush over it, but I’ll let you play with it and discover how it fits into your life style.

It’s available on the iTunes app store and best of all it’s free.

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Giving Hotmail the cold shoulder

internetsecurityThe internet is an All or Nothing place when it comes to our information. The moment you tap any information about yourself on a web page it’s captured, and yes that’s true even if you don’t hit the Enter key.

We tell ourselves that we can trust (or hope we can trust) the company on the other side of the screen that they’ll keep our information private, that they’ll abide by their rules of privacy. The rule of thumb is that the bigger the company the more secure your information will be.

Not so.

Over the weekend Microsoft disabled HTTPS for Hotmail which shocked me, but it didn’t happen here. Not in America. It happened in a dozen countries, including Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Countries where the government is brutally rooting out protestors and wreaking retribution by way of beatings, arrests, perhaps worse.

Just like that these governments had a wide open door to go in and read the emails of anyone they wanted. How could this happen, or better yet, why would Microsoft do this?

The following day Microsoft denied they deliberately disabled HTTPS and said it was not “restricted to any specific region of the world.” Except some regions dodged this bullet, like Turkey, and Israel, to name a couple. Microsoft would not explain or give any details for what happened. Maybe this is to save face and not look bad, but to me it couldn’t look much worse, and a lack of explanation leaves a lot of shilouette_hackerroom for negative speculation.

Not knowing why it happened bothers me, but it’s a moot point. Some guy could have spilled his coffee on the server that manages that area of the world, for all I know. But I don’t like guessing games and I especially don’t like it when companies ,who are responsible for the security of my information, take the 5th when something goes wrong.

People can believe it’s a crap shoot when picking who you entrust with your email and other information. I suppose that can be true, but Microsoft seems like more of a gamble than I’m willing to take. I’m going to shut down my Hotmail account with them and go somewhere else. It might be pointless of me to do this, but I’d rather not have my personal email wide open the next time someone spills their coffee.

 

Why it never seems to get old

iphone 4I’m a kid at heart. I’m also a zen warrior, a master spy, and the guy that taught Indiana Jones everything he knows… in my own mind. In reality… well, we’ll just leave that sleeping dog lay.

So, back to being

a kid at heart. What I mean by this is that I don’t let maturity dial down the enjoyment I feel over something. You know what I mean. Maturity can be like a scratchy, thick blanket that muffles everything. You smile instead of laugh, or nod instead of high fiving. I think maturity is about gaining and using wisdom in life, and not about being stoic. But I’m getting off topic.

Yes, I’m writing about my iPhone. I can hear some of you wincing, but stick with me and you’ll find this isn’t some starry eyed slobber-fest. Now, I know there are those out there who hate the iPhone. They groan or roll their eyes at the mention. When someone pulls one out the haters tick off a grocery list of all the things wrong with the phone, the person, their dog, and the pitiful existence their kids must live.

I don’t get it. But, rather than trying to figure it out I’ll tell you why, even after years of having my iPhone, I still brings a smile to me.

Go to any fan site, review, or what have you and you’ll read about the design. You’ll find the same words over and over; it’s sleek, sexy, lines this, texture that. Some may have done a little homework about the designer Jonathan Ive. The man who, I believe, made Apple practically addictive. You’ll read about all of that, and yes, it’s true.

But what holds a certain pleasure for me is that this small, shiny, flat waffer can pack so much in it. Make a call, sure. Take a picture, sure. But it goes so far past that. It’s like a Swiss Army knife that you can attach as many tools as you want, swap them out, or just remove them, on a whim.

I can find not only where I am using Google Earth, I can find where I want to go. It will chart me a route, show me the traffic conditions and if I feel like catching a movie along the way it’ll show me where the theaters are and the show times. If I’m in Little Tokyo and see a sign in Japanese I can take a picture of it and have it translated for me. If I’m out and see something I’d like to buy I can scan it’s bar code and find out who else sells it, what price they sell it for, and get reviews of the product. I can point my iPhone at the sky and it’ll show me what star or planet I’m looking at. It’ll track the satellite I see moving across the night sky. If I forget to set my DVR for a show I can tell it to record. I can scan a printed page and convert it into a PDF which I can save, or email. And the list goes on… and on.

At last count there were over three hundred thousand different apps for the iphone. That’s staggering. Now, some of you may be thinking that you’d never have a use for most or all of the apps I mentioned. Some are smiling dreamily of their own iPhone and others are wondering about getting one. The thing is that it’s only true necessity it has is as a phone. Yeah, that’s it. But, as you begin to use the other functions you realize that, although they aren’t ‘can’t live without’, they very clearly make your daily life better.

reception problem

Don’t scoff. The same can be said for shoes, houses, pillows, aspirin, or, dare I say it… coffee. That’s right. I went there. We can survive without any of those things, right?

But why should we? And that same question can be pointed right at the iPhone. What’s bad about a device that is this useful, entertaining, and handy?

The novelty of my iPhone wore off long ago, but my marvel at how useful it is continues years after opening the box and holding it for the first time with a grin on my face and a twinkle in my eye. Okay, that was slightly slobbering.