iCloud Gets An Automatic Boost in Storage… and Price

I just received an e-mail from Apple indicating that, as they announced at the last keynote, the top tier of iCloud storage is doubling from 500gb to 1tb. I have that 500gb plan, so they kindly e-mailed to tell me my plan would be upgraded to 1tb. However, there’s a catch – the price is increasing from $9.99 to $12.99 per month (CAD).

Apple iCloud Upgrad

That sounds fine on the surface – I’m getting twice the space for only $3/month more. However, there is no option to just keep my 500gb plan. The only option is to downgrade to the 200gb plan, but I can’t do that because I already use more than 200gb between iCloud Photo Library and the documents in my iCloud Drive.

At first I was excited about the increase in storage, but now I’m miffed that I am going to have to pay more money each month.

Weather on the Apple Watch

One of the first apps many people seek out on their new device is a good weather app. Sometimes the built-in app is fine, but often there are third-party apps that offer more features, better accuracy, and more customizability. Apple’s built-in weather app on the   Watch is good, but since my main iPhone app is Yahoo! Weather, I thought I would try out a few apps to see if I could find the weather app for the Watch.

The Contenders

Note: Dark Sky is not available in Canada, so it is not part of my review.

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The Future of TV Isn’t Anytime Soon

There’s a rumour going around that HBO will be launching its new HBO Now with Apple as a partner, via the Apple TV. This is exactly what cord-cutters have been waiting for: access to premium content without a cable or satellite subscription. And it’s exactly what the cable companies have been dreading. But it’s not all roses for cord cutters, and it won’t be for a while.

I want to cut cable, but I watch HBO shows and live sports, and I often like to watch things when they’re on – like the Oscars, certain TV shows, and local news. Netflix, Crave, Showmi and all the other on-demand services don’t solve those problems. They’re great for legacy content, and original shows (especially Netflix), but they’re not enough for a lot of folks. Continue reading “The Future of TV Isn’t Anytime Soon”

The Apple Watch is Another Great Opportunity for Apple

They’ve been in this position before, but never quite like this. Next week, Apple will host a media event called “Spring Forward” where we will most likely hear more details about the  Watch and its release. Like several Apple products before it, this watch is not the first product to the market, but it has a good chance of becoming the market leader.

The MP3 Player

Rewind to 2001. There were lots of mp3 players on the market, but there wasn’t really a market leader. Most had Terrible UI, none of them had a good ecosystem, and they weren’t made incredibly well.

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Stop Freaking Out About the Facebook Messenger App

Facebook Messenger Icon

There has been a lot of noise about Facebook’s move to remove messaging from its main app and “force” people to use the Messenger app on mobile devices to send messages. Today, no less than four people on my Facebook feed made proclamations about not using the app. Here’s why you shouldn’t be freaking out.

Issue #1

The first issue here is that Facebook is removing the messaging features from its mobile apps.  Many people use their inbox regularly, and many are still using the Facebook app to do this. Personally, I hate the little chat bubbles and found them intrusive, but I do agree it is convenient to be able to do all your Facebook-related activities within one app.

So, everyone that had avoided downloading the separate Messenger app can it avoid it no longer if they want to perform messaging via Facebook.

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Keeping Your Smartphone Charged on the Go

Mophie PowerStation Duo White

Many people rely on their cell phones, and many are disappointed with the poor battery life currently on offer. It doesn’t seem to matter which brand you go for – Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung, etc. – you’re lucky to get a day’s worth of decent use out of these powerful devices. Battery technology is improving and changing all the time, and some of the biggest improvements to Apple’s products in the past few years have been their custom batteries that help drive high-resolution displays and fast graphics processors. But it’s still not enough. Until there is a sea change in the tech, we will be worrying about getting through the day with our smartphones.

So, what are the options?

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As Heard on Maritime Morning: Weekend Edition (Jan 26, 2013)

This week was focused on some retail products, how we buy them, and the volatile nature of Apple’s stock.

Amazon Prime in Canada

First up, Amazon Prime was recently announced for Canadian users on Amazon.ca. $79/year gets you unlimited two-day shipping to most Canadian locales, regardless of the price of the item. That means you can buy a $9.99 CD and have it in two days without paying $3-4 for shipping. No more adding items to your cart to reach $39 and get the free Super-Saver Shipping that takes 5-8 business days.

Light Amazon users will balk, but this could really change how some people shop. Amazon.ca’s catalogue has been expanding rapidly over the past couple of years. You can now grab kitchen appliances, gifts, electronics, and other goods along with the staples like books, movies, and music. Amazon’s prices are often hard to beat, so throw in free, fast shipping, and that $79 Prime account is looking pretty good.

More Information

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The NTSB is Swapping BlackBerrys for iPhones

The US National Transportation Safety Board is dumping RIM devices for iPhones.

The BlackBerrys have been “failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate,” according to the NTSB’s notice.

9to5 Mac

Yep. I worked in telecommunications for nine months and over that time I could not believe how many BlackBerry Curves and Bolds came back for service. Not with small issues either. Complete failures or unusable devices.

The Microsoft Surface RT is a Compromise

It may have some great hardware engineering behind it, but the Surface’s software it all about compromise…

If the Touch Cover is the highlight of the Surface, desktop mode has to be the lowlight. It’s hard to put into words just how dumbfounding it is that Microsoft included this.

The only answer I can come up with is that they could not get the Office apps ready for the “Metro” interface in time and had to — wait for it — compromise. If this was an actual roadmap decision made by someone at Microsoft, it’s one of the worst decisions ever made.

MG Seigler

Backup Your Data!

You need to backup your data. Put it in your calendar for this weekend or next weekend. Make a plan. All hard drives fail, it’s just a matter of when.

We all know someone who has lost data. Their hard drive crashed. They spilled liquid on their laptop. Someone stole their iPhone. Many of you reading this will have had some experience in losing data of some kind in your lifetime. Yet, most of us put off backing up. We trust our devices, ourselves, and others too much.

I have friends who have lost years and years worth of photos of their children. I have had students who have lost their thesis documents or end of year video projects. I myself lost a year’s worth of music, movies, and documents when I backed up my laptop to DVDs using the wrong speed and didn’t realize until after I had wiped the laptop.

So, it’s time to make a plan. Here are some tips on backing up your data:

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Eastlink vs. Aliant, Part One: Local, Bundling, and Contracts

In Halifax, there are two major players when it comes to home internet and television services: EastLink and Bell Aliant. There are a few other options, but this series of posts will concentrate on the two main providers in the area.

Both companies offer packages that include high-speed internet, home telephone, and television services with HD and PVR options. They both offer various packages that contain different internet speeds, channel packages, calling features, and so forth. And, confusingly, both offer packages that are more and less expensive than a similar package offered by the other. So, which one should you choose? Unfortunately, it’s not a simple decision. Over the next four posts, I’ll take a look at all the options and hopefully by the end, it’ll be just a bit easier to make that call.

For perspective, I spoke with several people from the region, as well as representatives from both companies – Jill Laing from EastLink, and Christine Manore from Bell Aliant.

The four parts will be:

  • Part One – Local, Bundling, and Contracts
  • Part Two – Television Service
  • Part Three – Internet Service
  • Part Four – Conclusion

So, let’s get started.

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RIM’s Nosedive

The story of RIM and its iconic BlackBerry devices reads like a fairytale – complete with a dramatic twist that leaves the hero in a sticky situation. It all started out so great. RIM essentially created the smartphone market, cornered government and business customers with its innovative network and technologies, and then finally began releasing phones for the masses. Then the competition woke up and started breathing fire.

Unfortunately, the co-CEO’s (yes, they share the CEO moniker – just about the only company in the world that has this arrangement) have not been up to the battle. That is most likely because the battle is not with one specific dragon or evil maniac – it has almost become an inward battle, with the company unable to get out of its own way to bounce back and be competitive.

Once the king in the government and business sector, RIM’s share has declined and the iPhone now commands the lion’s share of business users.

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