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Watch classic movies for free

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I thought this was pretty awesome when I stumbled upon it a few days ago. What the site has done is provide a smart interface to a library of classic movies that no longer have any copyright issues and are available on Google Video. You can search for specific titles or browse through a genre. The old school movie posters are a laugh and they feature a different set of movies based on the time of year or season.

Classic Cinema Online

Classic Cinema Online


So whether you’re in the mood for some classic animation or some really bad horror films, Classic Cinema Online has hundreds of films in dozens of categories and it’s all FREE !

The first thing that will put a grin on your face is the quality of the video – yes we really did used to watch stuff like that. Some of the acting is almost enough to put every movie in the comedy category.

Check it out.

Macheist warming up

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Macheist sounded their early warning system a few days ago. Claiming to have detected abnormal cosmic radiation levels. It seems that the countdown has begun. Navigating to correct galactic co-ordinates and sending out a solar tweet results in you getting a license for the disk visualisation application Daisy Disk worth $20.

Go to co-ordinates 151.7,174.4

Go to co-ordinates 151.7,174.4

I participated in the previous Macheist and scored a boot load of applications for $39 (retail value of apps was around $558). The concept gains momentum every year and I’m confident that this year the applications on offer will be better than ever.

Daisy Disk

Daisy Disk

The idea is simple, the guys over at Macheist set up a series of challenges that require you to do some serious detective work. They set up dummy web sites, embed stuff into images and generally make things super challenging. Never fear, you aren’t on your own and everyone participating in the event shares their successes. The bulk of the money raised goes to charity, some of it goes to the app developers and some obviously goes to Macheist – so this is all for a good cause.

It’s a heap of fun if you participate and even if you don’t, you still get all the listed apps. If you do decide to get a little more involved in the puzzle solving you unlock bonus apps that further increase the value of your loot.

There are usually a few bonus applications for first 25,000 people that sign up for the heist. The more people that join the cause the more apps are unlocked. From what I understand, the target had been reached every year for the past 3 years, so don’t worry about some of the apps not being unlocked.

Keep and eye on their website for further updates or follow them (@macheist) or me (@gordongreeff) on Twitter for more updates.

International Domain Names Are Coming in 2010

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This really is quite big. For the first time people other than those that use the 26 letter english alphabet will be able to use a character set they are used to on a keyboard they are used to.

DNS servers all over the world will need to be patched or updated to handle all of these characters, so I suspect there will be some migration and adoption pain, but in the end it will be good for everyone.

The short video from the Mashable article below lays it out pretty well.

The face of the Internet is about to change, and its potential impact on international Internet use cannot be understated.

Earlier today, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which governs domains, registrations, Internet Protocol addresses, and many other aspects of the net, voted to approve a fast-track process for implementing non-Latin domain names by early to mid 2010.

This means that by next year, you could be seeing domains in Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, and dozens of other non-Latin languages.

The new domains, which ICANN terms ‘Internationalized Domain Names’ or IDNs, has been something the organization has discussed for several years, but now IDNs have been placed on a fast track process, beginning November 16th. It will involve around 100 new, international characters on top of the traditional 26-character English alphabet.

ICANN even takes the time to explain the impact of IDNs with a 7:10 video. In it, people from nations across (along with ICANN President Rod Beckstrom) the world discuss how IDNs will help them use localized keyboards and local email addresses. It’s a bit silly, but it really nails the key point: it’s time to expand domains to the native languages of over half the world. The video is below:


(Via Mashable!.)

Kindle vs Nook (vs iSlate)

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A few lucky early adopters have already received the Kindles down here in deepest darkest Africa, but as much as I want to get my hands on an ebook reader immediately, I’m going to try to fight the urge until there a few more killer devices available locally. The Barnes & Noble Nook was recently announced and will be available soon in the USA, but no word yet on availability internationally. I’m pretty sure that they will want to distribute the device as far and wide as possible, especially if they want to compete with Amazon.

If a had to choose a device today, I’d snap up a Nook in a second. It has features that the Kindle doesn’t have and just looks like a much better device. I haven’t used either device yet, but when it comes to the actual reading of books, I suspect they will be pretty much on par as they share the same size screen powered by the same E Ink technology.

One thing I don’t really like about either device is that the content you purchase from the respective online stores isn’t portable. It’s the whole DRM saga all over again. We’ve been through this with the purchasing of online music already. It doesn’t work. That’s why you can now buy your music DRM free from iTunes. I know it just comes down the publishers being a little nervous having their content out there in the wild west, but in the end I want to be able to take my ebook content from device to device without being locked into a specific technology platform.

So there is a lot of buzz about the Apple iSlate/iTablet at the moment as well. A few media slips over the last few days seem to confirm that we should see something early next year and that there will definitely be some reader functionality built into the device. If Apple continue the trend of providing DRM free content from the iTunes store maybe this will be the first platform where I will be able to purchase an ebook and transfer the content from my iSlate to whatever my new ebook reader of the future will be.

I’m gonna hang on a bit longer before I make the leap.

kindle2_02.jpg

nook.jpg

Device

Kindle

Nook

Screen Size

6 inch E Ink

6 inch E Ink / 3.5 colour TFT

Touch Screen

No

Yes (Colour)

Storage

2GB

not expandable

2GB

Expandable up to
16GB

Wireless

AT&T

AT&T 3G and
Wi-Fi

Bookstore

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Natively
Supported Formats

Kindle (AZW), TXT,
Audible, MP3,
MOBI, PRC

ePub, “multiple DRM
solutions,” PDF

Formats
Supported via
Conversion

PDF, HTML, DOC,JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP

Word, more to come

Web Browser

Yes

No

Sync with


iPhone, iPod Touch

iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, PC, Mac OS

Sync
Last page read
Last page read, notes, annotations
Lend ebooks
No
Yes

Available

Now

Nov 30 ‘09

Top 5 (almost) local tech podcasts

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OK, so only two out of the five are local.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been searching for the best local and international technology podcasts. I’m tired of listening to the same fools drone on on our local radio stations. Cape Talk isn’t bad and some of the presenters are pretty sharp, but they hardly cover technology at all. Their 3 minute “Hard Drive” slot every afternoon is pretty useless, but I understand that it may appeal to their less tech savvy listeners.

For my trip into work and home each day I wanted to find a few podcasts that could keep me up to date with the stuff I care about. At first I tried to limit my selection to local content only, but there simply isn’t much out there. Unless I’m missing it.

My search has by no stretch of the imagination been extensive, but the list below is what I’ve settled on for the time being. If anyone has any suggestions on other podcasts I should listen to, especially if they are local, please leave comments below.

zatechshow.png 1 – ZA Tech Show. Currently my favorite weekly podcast.It’s local and covers a wide range of technology and technology news. Hosted by Simon Dingle and a few other local journalists and tech junkies it provides a good laugh and even some great insights. As long as there is beer… Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
buzz-out-loud.png 2 – Buzz Out Loud. CNET’s Buzz out load has been around for a long time. They have done more than 1000 episodes to date and as long as you can surive the American accents you’ll love the show. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
engadget.jpg 3 – The Engadget Show. They have recently relaunched this podcast in a new live format. The first one featured a long interview with Steve Ballmer on the day of the Windows 7 launch. I hope they keep the quality of the show and caliber of the guests this high. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
majornelson.png 4 – Major Nelson Radio. A little niche, but since I do all my gaming on the platform I find it very informative. He runs a good show and often has exciting guests. He actually works for Microsoft, so although he doesn’t provide you with the inside track, he usually has has facts straight. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
macabout.png 5 – mac:about. The only other local show my list. They have only done one episode so far, so it remains to be seen how long the show will last and how it progresses and matures. It’s Apple centric, but that’s a good thing. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.

How to clean your Apple Mighty Mouse

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The little scroll wheel/ball on my Mighty Mouse gets lazy every few weeks and only lets me scroll in one direction. Sometimes only up, sometimes only down. Side to side never seems to be a problem.

A simple fix I learned about to solve this problem meant I didn’t have to keep phoning Digicape to complain about repeatedly being sold bad mice…

Simply turn your Mighty Mouse off (by sliding the cover at the bottom closed), turn the mouse upside down onto a piece of paper and move the mouse around putting pressure on the scroll wheel so that it makes solid contact with the paper.

As you move it around you should see it leave a gorgeous trail of finger dirt and residue. Depending on how bad it is, you may even be able to spell your name before it’s clean.

The video below demonstrates the process:

Apologies for the poor quality. I whipped this up quickly on my iPhone 3GS.

Google maps now has SA direction information

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Anyone that regularly uses Google Maps or Google Earth would have noticed that the level of detail and the correctness of the detail for South Africa has been improving significantly over the past few months.

The first thing I noticed in Google Earth was the addition of some 3D buildings to the Cape Town CBD area. Shortly afterwards there was a marked improvement on the amount of street level data that was available.

I’ve also seen the Google Streetview car driving around Cape Town a number of times. I assume all the fuss is to provide tourists with decent mapping information when they arrive in their droves for the World Cup next year.

streetview-prius.jpg

Today I caught a tweet (thanks @kishyr) saying that direction information is also working in Google maps. I quickly tried it out myself and I’m happy to announce that it is working and appears to work pretty darn well. It even sensibly calculates different directions based on whether you are in a motor vehicle or on foot. The transit direction information doesn’t work yet, but then again neither does our public transport system.

google-map.png google-list.png

Above are screenshots from my iPhone 3GS detailing directions from the Cape Town CBD (my current location) to Hout Bay for a motor vehicle. When I change to “on foot”, it redirects you along Victoria road all along the coast.

Good work Google ! But remember, don’t be evil.

SIP clients for the iPhone

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For quite some time now I’ve been on the hunt for a decent SIP client for the iPhone. At one point I almost gave up completely as it seemed that the only people that were interested in releasing SIP clients for the iPhone were companies that provided a “pay for” SIP service. There was no generic SIP client that actually delivered acceptable voice quality.

I know there are some great applications if you have a jailbroken iPhone, but I was looking for something mainstream, especially if I was going to evangelise the solution to less technical colleagues and customers.

Having access to a corporate SIP service at the office I was keen to find something that worked really well, primarily because everyone that had a Nokia device running Symbian could make VoIP calls and I couldn’t.

There are now finally a handful of decent clients available in the App Store that do almost everything that I needed them to do:

– ability to use my own SIP server configuration.
– ability to use the built in address book.
– support for the G.729 codec.
– ability to make GSM calls from within the application.

Ideally, I’d also like the application to be free, but so far this hasn’t happened. All three of the applications that I feel are worth considering carry a £3.99 price tag from the UK iTunes store (click here for instructions on how to create a UK iTunes account without a UK credit card).

The only feature that all of the applications fall short on, is the G.729 codec support. With bandwidth constraints in South Africa G.729 compression for voice over IP has become commonplace.

After reading a few reviews and comparing feature lists I eventually settled for iSip, knowing that the lack of G.729 support would mean that I would be restricted in the destinations I would be able to call. After the initial configuration (which was incredibly simple) I was happily making calls to certain destinations. The call quality was excellent and connection time was extremely quick. The ability to have multiple profiles meant that depending on whether my iPhone was connected to the corporate VoIP network or a general Internet WiFi hotspot I was still able make calls without having to change settings.

I have put in a feature request in with the application developer, but as yet I have not received any feedback as to if or when this is a possibility. I know there are some licensing issues when making use of G.729, but I’m pretty sure they could just work that cost into the price of the application.

Below is a list of the applications that you should consider if you are looking for a Generic SIP client sans G.729 support:

isip.png WeePhone.png Acrobits.png
iSip
WeePhone SIP
Acrobits Softphone

I thought I would also make mention of Nimbuzz and Fring. These two applications are free in the App Store and they allow for custom SIP settings, but both require an active connection to their respective servers to “log in” and actually make calls. This results in a terrible speech delay and I’ve found them to be almost unusable. Others may have better luck. Also,most corporate VoIP networks probably won’t allow connections to the Internet, which renders the applications completely useless.

Nimbuzz.png Fring.jpg
Nimbuzz
Fring

The quest continues…

Update: I received a response from the developers saying that they are in negotiations with the G.729 license holder and that they aren’t able to include support for the codec until they have concluded the discussions.

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