Justin Moss

Archive for the ‘Tech Review’ Category

Recommended software: iiUsage

For those of use below the equator (where data allowances are still measured and capped), monitoring bandwidth usage is usually a case of logging into to ISP control panel page.  iiNet, for example, have Toolbox – a reasonable utility, but a pain to login if all you want to know is our current data usage.

ENTER Tim Hall and Martin Pot – they’ve put together a brilliant bit of software called “iiUsage”.  The list of useful features is illustrated simply by the following screenshot of the application.

The Summary (Main) Screen

The Daily Data screen

The Daily Data screen

Note that pretty much everything you need is available at a glance.  Whilst the relatively compact application can be minimised to the Window System Tray, I find that it’s light enough to just fire up when you need An it.

RSS alternative?

I have heard discussion of a RSS feed version of the service, but I beleive this relies on iiNet actually getting around to publishing and XML stream of data (for each user?) – something that’s barely in beta, and judging from their still-woeful billing system, not a priority.

Download

If iiNet Toolbox is getting you down, do yourself a favour and download iiUsage

Four and half star review rating

Images used with permission.

Having recently doubled my PC memory, I was not surprsied to find that running five fat (‘phat’?) applications at the same was a lot less painful with less need for the OS to use virtual memory (virutal RAM at a snails pace via your hard disk).

However, upon returning to my computer today, I was suprised to find it running very slowly – as if processing some large video or multilayered image.  On inspection, I discovered the culprit and in so doing proof that Outlook is a resource hog – at least according to CachemanXP.  Check out the CPU Usage:

outlook2007_resourcehog

Wow!  I’ve no doubt Outlook consumes many more CPU cycles than it needs, however, it appears to have discovered some form of software over-clocking … 2.1 million% CPU utilisation … intensive much?

(Obviously it’s a combination of near max utilisation and misreporting by CachemanXP, which is a good product BTW)

Can you imagine? … Letterbox bars on the side!

“Ridiculously wide” is right.  It doesn’t even seem right 2.40:1 – wow.  Whilst Philips continue to make very poorly constructed products (IMHO), they certainly haven’t stopped innovating – my hats off too them.

9

Philips Ultra-Widescreen 21:9 Cinema LCD Moves the Letterbox Bars To the Side – Gizmodo Australia.

A great idea, it even works well – but will it take off

“They transform physical media (print advertising, billboards, product packages, information signs, in-store merchandising, or even video images) — into live links for accessing information and entertainment online.” (Full Story: CNET)

Here’s something I prepared earlier:

Try these examples on your iPhone or smartphone.  I was amazed just how tolerant the application was to size (small) and focus.

sampletag_artnetau_australianart

sampletag_artnetau_australianart

sampletag_artnetau_australianart

sampletag_artnetau_australianart

Check: This tag should take you to “Australian Art Online

Thank you to Adam for passing on the article.

Trend Micro’s PC-cillin Says it’s So

trendgooglespywareAccording to Trend Micro’s PC-Cillin, every website that hosts Google ads from their Double Click network is hosting spyware.

Should I just uninstall all my browsers now? 😮

This site (NYTimes) for example invokes the “Dangerous” warning.

Say it aint so.

Update: Trend Micro advise this action (I’ll go with the flow):

Boot computer in Safe Mode with Networking.

[STEP 1] Run Disk Cleanup
[STEP 2] Run a scan in HijackThis.
[STEP 3] Reboot computer in normal mode and turn off the system restore.

Observe if the same issue will occur.

I’ll let you know.

Update 2: The above was run (an expanded Step 2 is shown below), but the problem still exists.  I’ve bounced it back to Trend Micro.

Run a scan in HijackThis. Check the following items below if they are still present and then hit the Fix button below the HIJACKTHIS window:
O2 – BHO: AskBar BHO – {201f27d4-3704-41d6-89c1-aa35e39143ed} – C:\Program Files\AskBarDis\bar\bin\askBar.dll
O3 – Toolbar: Ask Toolbar – {3041d03e-fd4b-44e0-b742-2d9b88305f98} – C:\Program Files\AskBarDis\bar\bin\askBar.dll
O23 – Service: ASKService – Unknown owner – C:\Program Files\AskBarDis\bar\bin\AskService.exe

Resolved: “Tristan E. Smythe Jr” [I love the stages names they use at Trend :-)] gave me a free uprade to Trend Micro Internet Security 2009 – problem solved!  Obviously you’ll need to log a support case with Trend to ensure your serial number is elligible for the upgrade.

and New Prices

Apple announce iTunes store to go completely DRM-free and at three price levels $0.69, $0.99 and $1.29.  It’s about  time Apple!

In a market where price pressure should be driving down prices, the threat of $1.29 is of concern. However, an optimist might correctly suggest that competition between the publishers will keep price pressure towards the $0.69 end.  We might end up with a CD store paradigm whereby new releases are $1.29, reducing down overtime to $0.69 ~ will Apple’s pricing structure allow such dynamcism.

Apple says their entire catalogue will be DRM free and 256kbps by the end of March (2009).

iTunes Plus redundant?

So if iTunes Plus = 256kbps + DRM free, and all content will be both these things after March, iTunes Plus will surely be redundant, wont it?  Speaking for all Virgos,  I’ll be glad for this redunandancy to be cleared up.

128kbps > 256kbps DRM-free @ $0.30

Apple will offer purchasers [the suckers faithful) of DRMd content, the ability to upgrade each of their 128kbps DRMd [hobbled] tracks for $0.30 each.  In as much as that contributes towards the bandwidth, I guess that’s reasonable.  For the extra income they’ll derive from the unschackled format however, they should have just offered free upgrades, or something nominal, like $0.01 per track.

16GB model with 1GB data

It’s a minefield of mismatched plans, locked phone and gotchas when it comes to purchasing a 16GB iPhone.  The following is a summary of the major offerings 0.5-1Gb data allowances, assembled with a the help of a couple of friends.  Value is best assessed on the basis of a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over a 24 month period, however, you might choose a longer period, or a different criteria (like coverage).

iphone_tco2

It seems that thet Virgin Mobile plan is the best choice, even considering it’s reduced coverage and higher call rate.  The Three plan is a close second, but a hassle to go through the outright purchase.

I hope this saves you the hours of time it took me to dig out the information.

Warning about Latency

The key difference between the 3G networks is latency (the delay or ‘turnaround’ between server request and response).  APCMag ran a series of tests which showed that Telstra and Three are far superior in this area, and also in download speed. Here’s a comparison of the data, as well as useful commentary on the results.

iphone_latency

Latency is certainly the difference between a positive and negative web browsing experience on a desktop, so I’d suggest it will similarly be a make or break experience with an iPhone.

Information about Three

Three looks like becoming a worthwhile network sometime after June 2009.  From a call with a sales person at Three, I found out this information:

  • They only have a metro only 3G licence (whereas rest have Nationwide)
  • They may have roaming agreement for 3G with Telstra by June 2009 (which would make it an awesome choice BUT ..)
  • There’s no guarantee that roaming will be at Three [bargain] rates

In short, Three is good value now, because it’s limited (now).  It may be that in 12 months, if they [seamlessly] hook up with Telstra’s far superior NextG network, that Three will ratchet up their prices to a) compensate for their rent to Telstra, or b) consider that the higher value service is suddenly able to be billed at an elevated rate.

Three is, IMHO, one to watch, but presently not a contender.

Resources

“Best value Australian iPhone plans revealed!” – Article: APCMag

“Best Value Mobile Phone Plans” – Calculation Tool: SMH

“APC 3G Broadband Survey” (discussion about latency) – Whirlpool Forums | APCMag

Conclusions

Here’s the skinny.  If you want …

.. broadest coverage, choose VirginMobile, $1776
.. improved latency (but poor non-metro),  choose Three, $1805
.. the flexibility to exit at 12 months (and a cap < $350/mth), choose Optus, $1200 (for 12 months)

By the way – all of these numbers compare favourably to my current plan (without an iPhone) for which I am currently committed to the tune of $1896 (and that doesn’t even include phone costs!).

Update: February 2009

VirginMobile has excellent billing features, however they do not include 1800 numbers in the cap (why, I’ve no idea!).  The Optus network is terrible – even in metro areas, one regular gets the “No Service” status and “Service Disconnected” error from the iPhone.

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  • mattvolke: Cool blog! Check it out my movie blog at themoviebros.wordpress.com/
  • justinmoss: Hi Dave, thank you. Yes, you can have it synced with multiple computers (I used to do this though I no longer have a need for this). From my experie
  • Dave Watkins: Excellent information. Thanks for sharing. Is you iPhone synced with multiple computers? dave