Tuesday, 23 November 2010

iPhone 4.2.1 is released - whats the hype about?

 Ok so the iPhone / iPad 4.2.1 release is now available from iTunes for download, whats the hype about?  As a tech savy individual, a iPhone carrier and an aspiring but generally confused and not quite sure iPad follower I thought I would take a look at the latest round up and see what's in the box for the average Joe.  This is a small sample of what I see I some of the more useful (to me) items, the rest I will check out and blog about later.

Cables and docks are so old school. With AirPlay, the 'iFamily' can wirelessly stream music, video, and photos directly to compatible devices, including the new Apple TV - Hmm so now to find if any of my equipment is compatible, know what I am doing this weekend!

Printing is definitely something that has been missing and AirPrint finally helps deliver this missing functionality. iOS 4.2 indeed now allows users to print directly from an iPhone or iPad to a printer. Only HP's printers are officially supported by this feature though and I think its going to be a limited number, so don't waste too much time standing next to you HP LJ III expecting your document to pop out any time soon !

Enhanced Enterprise Support
Mail now supports multiple Exchange ActiveSync accounts and works with Exchange Server 2010, while Apple's Calendar app finally allows you to view and respond to event invitations. Whoo Hooo - the lack of invitation response really was a let down as I live on my iPhone when out of the office.

Find My Phone
The app is now free with this release - sorry to all of you out there that paid for it (like me!), but now its free and I totally recommend it.

The Apple press release says “Once you create an account on a qualifying device, use your Apple ID and password to enable Find My iPhone on your other devices running iOS 4.2.” All of your family’s qualifying iOS4.2 devices can now be used with that single account. Once you have set up your account on the Apple site, you can register your device by tapping the Settings app on your device, then on “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” and finally on “Add Account.” Enter your Apple ID login and password on that screen and the device will register itself. If you do not already have an Apple ID, tap on “Create Free Apple ID” to set one up before you try to register the device.

As the name would imply, you can then find your lost or stolen iPhone, iPad, of iPod Touch via the www.me.com site. The service will locate your phone, either using the GPS features of the 3G Apple mobile devices or by triangulating WiFi locations, if available. 

The system also enables you to lock the phone remotely or to wipe all your user information from storage. I know I feel better.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


George B&W, originally uploaded by marc.fletcher.
So apart from technology and the world of web and social marketing, my interests extend to overlandng and 4x4ing. Here is a shot of "George" my trusty 2003 Land Rover Defender Td5 Station Wagon. It has over 126,000 kms on the clock, has been serviced regularly and has never given me any problems and has even out driven some of his Japanese cousins on a few trips...;) ahem. LOL.

A Lifetime in the Life of Facebook

This is an interesting video that I found about FaceBook, its quite amazing when you look at it in fast forward mode at actually how much we share on FB and how that could actually trip us up...take a look.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Kindle 3 Reviewed

It has now been a week of owning my Kindle 3 (latest generation) and I have completed reading my first book (The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony), overcome my first technical challenge (not getting 3G, only EDGE connectivity) and I am over the moon.

//Update: 9th November 2013 - the all new Kindle Paperwhite has been released for international shipment - check out this post for more: 

or carry on reading // - 

The Kindle 3 is, to coin a phrase, 'exactly what it says on the box', its an e-reader. Not a computer that you can browse the web on (albeit it does have an experimental browser, but hey even my iPhone renders better than the K3), not a games platform, not a document editing tool or anything else...but its an excellent e-reader.

If you are looking for a device to lay in bed, or by the pool, on holiday, on a train, plane or in a car (automobile for my American readers) to read books on I cant think of a better device.  Now notwithstanding the devices that I haven't actually used, such as the Sony e-reader and the Nook, this device is the market leader.

The e-ink screen technology is a significant advancement for reading over LCD screens, it allows one to read in daylight, tungsten and fluorescent light without any problems of reflection. This is one of the key differences between an e-reader and a tablet or slate computer like the Apple iPad.

The Amazon book store is comprehensive with almost 500,000 e-books to download.  It doesn't tend to have older books or those that are no longer in print, but if you are looking for the latest fictional novels or even an array of other genres that are current you are sure to find it in the store.

The newspapers and magazines are of limited value in my opinion - I have looked at a few samples of each.  First of all you have to pay for a subscription - which amazes me considering that the on-line web browser based version is free for most of them and then you don't have the same quality rendering on the e-book version. 

Further more the 5-way navigation button makes navigating pages with multiple sections a little challenging for the less dexterous amongst us.  Maybe that's not a problem for the 'Generation Y' out there who grew up with power-thumbs from SMS'ing/Texting but those of us who still prefer to pick up the phone and call maybe somewhat out of practice.

So in summary, so far, based on my week of extended usage and one book and some sample other media, I would not hesitate to recommend the Kindle 3 to others.  

I consider myself an early adopter, but for some reason this technology has been one that I had decided I would allow to mature a while before I 'bought in'.  Based on what I have read of the earlier Kindle models I think that this was a wise choice, not that the earlier Kindle were not good products, but it seems that the earlier models had some areas that needed and were addressed in the latest generation.

If you like to read books, go buy one, they are also very reasonably priced.  If you are in South Africa check out my post here on buying from Amazon and having it delivered in South Africa.  For the Europeans and Americans out there its Amazon as usual !

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Problems connecting your Kindle 3 to the 3G Network in South Africa?

Update: 9th November 2013 - the all new Kindle Paperwhite has been released for international shipment - check out this post for more: 

However if you are just trying to fix you Kindle 3 - read on:

So after 5 days of having my new Kindle 3 3G/WiFi e-reader I started to wonder why it would never connect to a 3G network when I wasn’t connected to a WiFi network.  It would connect EDGE even when in a clearly de-marked 3G coverage area and even when my iPhone showed that there was a 3G network available.
Dread suddenly filled me as I thought that maybe my Kindle, which after only 5 days already I had become inseparable from, could be faulty and after reading the warranty I realised that this could mean sending it back to Amazon for them to assess this before sending me another.  That was not an option and with my technical head screwed on I got to work on Goggle looking for an answer.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Amazon Kindle Will Let You Lend Your eBooks

Amazon's Kindle Team announced on Friday that it plans to make lending for Kindle available "soon". The feature will allow you to loan your Kindle books to other Kindle devices or Kindle app users for a two-week period. This announcement brings to the Kindle one of the key features touted by the Barnes & Noble Nook: the ability to loan out your eBooks.
 But there are restrictions, of course.
But with Whisper Sync, you can already sync (books, only currently, periodicals and newspaper to come soon) between all “Your own” devices, which sit within the same Amazon Kindle account. So in theory, your family could share books already.  

But ok if they let you extend that to other people then that’s great, but who came up with 2 weeks!  I agree if you are an avid reader then 2 weeks is probably adequate, but if you get caught up and the exceed 2 weeks are they going to block you from “lending” that book to the same user again ?  
You also can't, as the lender read that book during the 2 week lending period.  No great issue there I guess.
Ok Amazon, we need more details on how this will work, but at least it heads of the competition from the Nook ;)

Sunday, 24 October 2010

How to buy a Kindle in South Africa

Update: 9th November 2013 - the all new Kindle Paperwhite has been released for international shipment - check out this post for more: 

or carry on reading: 

So I have my new Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally - Latest Generation on order from Amazon.com.  It arrives on Tuesday, so this is not about how good it is, that is yet to come, it’s about how easy it was to buy and how you too can get one.

In my research on the web I came across a number of sites that would sell me one here in South Africa.  I checked www.PriceCheck.co.za and a few came back with prices varying by between 20-50% more than the RRP from Amazon.

AmazonSouthAfrica.co.za is one such site.  This site has nothing to do with Amazon and I am amazed that Amazon has not shut them down yet.  They are trying to look like Amazon and also suggest that you cannot buy the Kindle direct from Amazon here in South Africa. This is simply not true. They are selling the Kindle for R2,195.00.  Read on and see how that is so wrong.

So in South Africa there is only one way that you should entertain buying a Kindle in this country – and that’s from Amazon.com. They have it all wrapped up, its seamless, cost effective and in fact cheaper than all the sites in South Africa that claim you can’t buy direct from the US or UK!

Click here to get to the International shipment page for the WiFi version (the 3G is no longer available in South Africa as of December 2013) Kindle, 6" E Ink Display, Wi-Fi - for international shipment  - or carry on reading...
Below is a screen shot of my order summary from Amazon.com. 

One of the great advantages right now of course is the foreign exchange rate.  Have you seen the strong South African Rand (ZAR) lately! Wow, it’s making buying from overseas a pleasure.  The other great advantage is that Amazon.com clears the device through customs for you and they just add the fee (“Import Fees Deposit” on the screen shot above) of USD$29.11 to the total bill for you. 

This is an advantage as you know upfront what you are going to be paying and you haven’t got to trek off to the back of beyond (Parow - if you live in Cape Town) to collect your goods from the Post Office import depot with cash in hand and based on a figure that they seem to make up on the spot.  Yes I have been through this before.

Delivery would have taken about 5 business days by the time the device arrives;  Which again is fantastic considering that it’s shipping from the USA and they are only charging USD$20.98 for the shipping.  As a comparison I ordered a book from Amazon.com a few weeks before I decided to buy the Kindle and the book cost me more to ship and is taking 21 business days to arrive in Cape Town...go figure.

So all in all the landed cost of my brand new 6” Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, with Free 3G + Wi-Fi in Rands is R1,657,16.  Tell me that’s not a great deal?  So forget the sites that say: you can’t order a Kindle from overseas in South Africa, and that you will get hit by import duties and that their prices are cheaper – its rubbish – buy direct from Amazon.com.

Postscript 28th December 2012 - Just a reminder you need to order from Amazon.com and not Amazon.co.uk to get your delivery to South Africa.  I have had many queries about this point.  Happy Kindling :)

Postscript 7th January 2013 - I have discovered through various people telling me so and now through my own experience that at this time you cannot purchase the new Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon.com for shipping to South Africa.  For more info read my post on the Kindle Paperwhite.

Postscript 17th January 2013 - To make it easier - here is the link to the Internationally Delivered Kindle on Amazon.com - this will enable you to ship to South Africa

Kindle, 6" E Ink Display, Wi-Fi - for international shipment  

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