Verizon iPhone

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By now you’ve probably heard that Apple has released a version of the iPhone 4 for Verizon’s network. Just a few points about this:

  • While it is essentially the same design as the current iPhone 4, there is a slight difference in the position of the ringer switch so existing cases won’t fit quite right.
  • On Verizon’s network, you cannot use the Internet while on a call unless you are connected to WiFi.
  • The Verizon version and AT&T version cannot use the other’s network.

For more information, see the MacWorld article here and Verizon’s page here.

iOS 4.0 for iPhone available

Advice, News 2 Comments »

Apple has released iOS 4.0, the renamed OS for their portable devices like the iPhone and iPad. This version will work on the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and upcoming iPhone 4, but not on the original iPhone. Some of the new features require an iPhone 3GS or better.

There is no cost for the upgrade and you can download and install it all through iTunes. While the list of benefits and improvements is long, there are also some bugs of the annoying variety. My advice is to wait until Apple fixes some of them in a 4.0.1 update (or whatever they call it) before taking the plunge.

You can read more about the upgrade and its new features here.

Parallels deal for limited time

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If you’re in the market for Parallels, the PC virtualization software, and want to save a few bucks, you can take advantage of a deal offered by MacUpdate for the next 15 days.

The offer is $50 for a bundle that includes Parallels 5 plus a bunch of other utilities that may or may not be useful to you. That price is the same as the cost of upgrading from previous versions of Parallels, but keep in mind that you will still need to purchase a copy of Windows separately.

You can read about the offer at MacNN and get further details here.

Quicken Essentials: Essentially useless

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Intuit has finally released the Mac update to Quicken 2007, Quicken Essentials. I haven’t purchased it, nor do I plan to, and while I don’t typically “review” software I haven’t seen, I thought it important to highlight a few things about this package.

You may not know this, but Quicken originated on the Apple ][ back in the infancy of the personal computer industry. At some point, they not only ported their software to Windows, but started adding features to it that did not exist on the Mac version. We Mac users were relegated to second-class status, all the while hoping for eventual parity with our Windows brethren.

Now, after four years since the last Mac version, Intuit has released Quicken Essentials, a complete rewrite specifically for the Mac. The new version has a revamped interface that they claim is easier to use, and it makes it easier to import data from the Windows version. Huzzah!

Unfortunately, it removes features that existed in Quicken 2007. Like the ability to pay bills online. Or enter, or even view, transactions in your investment accounts. Or export your data to TurboTax. You know, little features that might actually be considered “essential”. And for the privilege of getting snazzier icons with less ability, Intuit asks $70. Welcome to third-class.

I’m sure that, at some point, Intuit will add some or all of these features back to the Mac version even as they continue to improve their Windows software, but I will be sticking with the rapidly aging Quicken 2007 for now and exploring alternatives like iBank for the future.

For another opinion of this software, see Walt Mossberg’s review here.

iPad

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iPad PictureLast week, Apple introduced its much-anticipated tablet, the iPad. There was plenty of speculation before the fact of what it might be, but much of it turned out to be just that. Here is a brief rundown of what it is and, perhaps more importantly, what it isn’t.

What It Is

Think of the iPad as a larger iPhone, or iPod Touch, that can’t make phone calls. It uses the same OS as those devices and connects to the Internet via an available WiFi signal, and some models can connect to via 3G with an extra data plan from AT&T that that runs either $15 or $30 per month depending on how much capacity you need. The price range of the iPad is $500 - $830.

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RegExRX: Your prescription for regular expression development

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I’m pleased to announce the release of RegExRX, a regular expression editor and tester with many features designed to help in the development and storage of regular expressions. Based on the PCRE library, RegExRX will allow a user to craft patterns that are compatible with most regular expression flavors and will let them easily copy those patterns to other languages like Perl, Ruby, PHP and REALbasic.

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Managing a Blackberry on your Mac

Advice, News 3 Comments »

Let me start by saying this: If you are in the market for a new mobile phone and ask me which will best suit your needs, my answer will be an iPhone. Every day, for everybody, the answer is “iPhone”.

But I understand that some of you need to use, or even prefer, a Blackberry, and your main concern is how to sync and manage that device on your Mac. Until now, the solution has been software called The Missing Sync for Blackberry from Mark/Space, and while I still recommend that (especially over the PocketMac software that came with the Blackberry), it costs $40.

Now, Blackberry has released their free Blackberry Desktop Software that is supposed to let Mac users synchronize with their Address Book and iCal, and backup their Blackberries. It will also let you manage your Blackberry applications.

What you still can’t do with either software is synchronize over the air as you can with an iPhone coupled with a MobileMe account.

As an iPhone user, I have no way of testing this software to see if it lives up to its claims so my suggestion is, if you already have The Missing Sync, stick with that. If you use Mac OS X 10.4 or older, get The Missing Sync as the new Blackberry software requires 10.5.5 or better. If you have Leopard and aren’t syncing now, or are trying to use the PocketMac software that came with your device, try the new app instead. If it fails to meet your expectations, or is missing some features that you’d like, take a look at The Missing Sync.

Snow Leopard is here

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Apple last week released Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Although it contains a few new interface features (welcome back, Put Back!), it is mostly under-the-hood refinements designed to make the OS faster and more secure. You can read about some of the changes here and a detailed review here.

As always, you should let others become the early adopters and work out the kinks. The biggest concern is the compatibility of older applications, and you can find lists of what has been tested here and here. It’s also important to note that Snow Leopard will only run on Intel-based Macs. Those with PowerPC chips like the iMac G5 or the PowerMac series will go no further than OS X 10.5.

Finally, if you do decide to take the plunge, be sure to backup first, preferably to different media, just in case something goes wrong. In fact, the steps I outlined for upgrading to Leopard still apply. The only addition is to be sure to include “Rosetta” during the installation process.

As for me, I will be installing Snow Leopard later this month and will report any issues that you might need to be aware of.

iPhone 3.0 and iPhone 3GS

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Last week, Apple released the much-anticipated iPhone 3.0 software, available as a free download to all versions of the iPhone. To get it, connect your iPhone to your computer and follow the directions in iTunes.

They also released the new version of the iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 3GS. The main difference between this model and the 3G is speed, although it has a few nifty additions like a compass (handy in that maps can orient themselves to the direction you’re facing), better camera, and voice dialing. The new phone comes in 16 GB ($199) and 32 GB ($299) versions, but these are really AT&T-subsidized prices available only to new buyers or those eligible for an upgrade. If that’s not you, the models will cost $200 more. You can read about AT&T’s upgrade policy here.

The new software has a number of features worth noting, including the ability to cut, copy and paste, landscape mode for most apps, push notification, and a voice memo app. For a more complete list of the new features, see this page, but I’d like to review some of them here.

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WWDC announcements

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Apple this week is holding its Worldwide Developers’ Conference, and has made several noteworthy announcements.

  • The iPhone 3.0 software will be released on June 17. This will be a free download for current iPhone users.
  • The new iPhone 3GS will be released on June 19. It will have a faster processor and some additional features like voice-dialing, video capture, a better camera, better battery, compass, and will come in 16 GB ($199) and 32 GB ($299) versions.
  • The 8 GB version of the iPhone 3G will continue to ship, but for $99.
  • Tom Tom will have a turn-by-turn GPS app available for the iPhone this summer.
  • Apple has released new MacBook Pro models. The new versions are faster, have better batteries, more RAM, and come with 13″, 15″ and 17″ screens. They are also less expensive across the board. (However, they do away with the ExpressCard slot in favor of an SD card slot.) The new laptops are apparently shipping now.
  • The next version of the OS, 10.6 (Snow Leopard) will be released in September.
  • The next version of Safari, v.4.0, is available now through Software Update.

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