f e a t u r e s
september 6, 2010page 3
w w w . O R E D I G G E R . n e t
Last Wednesday, Apple re-freshed its digital media lineup,ranging from revised iPods to anew music-focused social net-work to a revamped Apple TV home theater box. Apple CEOSteve Jobs noted during theevent staged at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center that over 120million iOS devices (iPhones andiPod touches) had been sold, with230,000 new devices being acti-vated via their iTunes companionsoftware every day. Apple’s rst hardware an-nouncement was an upgradeto the iPod shufe. In responseto widespread criticism aboutthe previous-generation shufe’slack of buttons, Apple decidedto return to a form factor similarto the iPod shufe generationbefore, trading larger size for us-ability, while adding VoiceOver(text-to-speech) functionality, amemory upgrade to 2GB, anda lower price of $49 to the mix.One signicant physical differ-ence between the second- andfourth-generation iPod shufes isthat the new model is effectivelysquare, exciting concerns thatoperation of the music player’sbuilt-in clip will result in inadver-tent button presses, a problemthat did not exist in the previous,more rectangular model.Next, Apple introduced a com-pletely redesigned iPod nano. Thenew media player eschews theprevious generation’s video cam-era and movie playback capabilityfor a smaller, square form factornot unlike the iPod shufe, but witha 1.54-inch touch screen to re-place the hardware buttons. Jobsstated that the new iPod nano,which has drawn comparisons toa Dick Tracy watch (but without thetwo-way radio), was designed withrunners and other exercise situa-tions in mind. Response to the an-nouncement was mixed; concernsincluded the omission of previouslyincluded iPod features, the device’ssignicantly decreased screen size,and the potential difculty of navi-gating a pure touch interface onsuch a small screen. Apple’s nal iPod announce-ment was that of a more powerfuliPod touch. The new iPod bringsthe iPhone-sans-phone to featureparity with its cellular contempo-rary, adding a six-axis gyroscope,signicantly faster processor, high-resolution “retina” display, and dualcameras to Apple’s 2010 take onthe concept of a PDA. One nota-ble omission from the iPod touchwhen compared with the iPhone(other than a GSM/HSPA cellularradio) is high-resolution still photocapability on the iPod touch’s rearcamera; the iPhone 4 can take 5megapixel still images, whereas theiPod touch can only capture im-ages at a maximum resolution of 960x720 (about .6 megapixels). Onthe plus side, the new iPod touchis the thinnest iPod touch to date,and the rear-facing camera takes720p high-denition video just likethe iPhone, and includes Apple’sFaceTime video chat system. AlliPod touch models were upgradedas opposed to Apple’s last versioniteration where an upgrade to thelow-end, 8GB iPod touch was con-spicuously absent. Apple also released signicantsoftware upgrades for iOS, the op-erating system used by iPod touch-es, iPhones and iPads, and iTunes,the desktop media manager thatsyncs with those devices. iOS 4.1,arriving this week, adds high dy-namic range photography to cam-era-enabled iOS devices, a featurethat combines three successivephotos taken with different ex-posure levels to produce a com-posite image with better highlightand shadow detail than is pos-sible with a single image captureon comparable equipment. Otherfeatures include GameCenter, Apple’s new game matchmakingservice, video streaming via WiFito Apple TVs (more on that later),and TV show rentals (99¢ perhigh-denition episode). iOS 4.2,arriving in November, will bring theabove features to the iPad, plussupport for printing documentsfrom the iPhone, iPod touch, oriPad.On the iTunes front, iTunes 10,made available late on the day of the announcement, eschews theCD in the application’s logo, addsa more efcient album-basedview to its library manager, andadds TV rentals to the list of con-tent available on the iTunes store.However, the biggest new featureof iTunes 10 is Ping, a music-centric social network that bearsa strong resemblance to Lala,an online music store that Applebought, and subsequently shutdown, earlier this year. Apple’s nal announcementwas a complete rework of their Apple TV set top box. The newmodel drops a built-in hard driveand non-HDMI video outputs inexchange for a footprint threequarters smaller than that of theprevious Apple TV and a pricedrop to $99. The device nowrelies completely on streaming,either from the iTunes store, adesktop or laptop computer, oran iOS device to procure its con-tent, which is still limited to 720pHD. The iOS streaming feature,known as AirPlay, arrives on theiPod touch and iPhone with iOS4.1, and on the iPad with iOS 4.2. The Apple TV will be available forpurchase later this month.
Apple refreshes iPods,iTunes, appleTV
Asst. Business Manager,Web Content
Two Wednesdays ago, Googletook their Google Voice concepta step further, adding voice callingto and from standard phone num-bers to their GMail web interface. Twenty-four hours later, the com-pany stated that they had com-pleted over one million phone callsthrough the system, which allowsusers to call locations in the UnitedStates and Canada for free, andinternational locations for very lowper-minute rates. The system works tightly withGoogle Voice, which is now avail-able to any user with a Google ac-count in the United States. Callsplaced and received via the GMail-based voice system are loggedin Google Voice, and contacts inGMail’s address book integrateseamlessly into both systems, in-cluding many smartphones viaGoogle Sync, Google’s surrogateExchange ActiveSync server. Ad-ditionally, Google Chat, as the ser-vice is called, shows up as a po-tential number for Google Voice’sphone forwarding rule selection,which has historically allowed in-coming and outgoing calls to beconnected to a user’s choice of land-line or mobile phones. Onthe voicemail side, messages aremachine-transcribed and sent viae-mail and/or text message as wellas displayed in the Google Voiceinterface, though transcriptionquality tends to leave signicantroom for improvement, from theauthor’s experience.Pundits are arguing which com-pany is impacted the most by thisannouncement: Skype, traditionaltelephone companies, or Face-book, which recently partneredwith Vonage to start a Voice overIP solution of their own. Google Voice signicantly undercuts Sky-pe’s per-minute rates to traditionalphones, though Google has leftopen the possibility of chargingper-minute for outgoing calls to theUS and Canada, and users seemto prefer an application like Skyperunning on their computers to asub-window of GMail. Likewise,traditional telephone companies
Google Chat calls “real” phones
Asst. Business Manager, WebContent
Growing up in Timisoara, Ro-mania, a small town in westernRomania near the border of Serbiaand Hungary, a young ProfessorFarca knew at an early age thatshe wanted to become a profes-sor of linguistics and literature.“In rst grade, I realized I was notgood at math at all. I got too manyCs in physics and chemistry,” sheexplained in an interview. “I havealways enjoyed reading and writ-ing, so I understood at an early agethat literature and teaching wouldcome naturally to me. I was notwrong.”For the last ten years, Profes-sor Farca has been living statesidewith her husband. Initially movingto Denver due to her husband’s job working at an optics company,Professor Farca swiftly decidedthat she needed to nd a teaching job in Colorado. Professor Farcastated, “I feel fortunate to teachat Mines, an engineering school,because I have many engineersin my family; my parents, brotherand grandfathers have all been en-gineers.”Professor Farca has beenworking at the Colorado Schoolof Mines since 2008 and she hasbeen very impressed with the stu-dents that she has taught. “Manyof my students say they do notlike to read and write, but in real-ity, they are remarkably gifted writ-ers and critical thinkers.” ProfessorFarca presents the duality of everydecision in the Nature and Human Values classes that she teaches.She presents the fact that no issueis ever simply presented as a black and white problem. She promotesher students to speak freely inclass and offers a very comfortable
Professor Farca:Instructor, author and ice cream lover
environment where all opinions arewelcomed and debated. Whendiscussions begin to settle in Pro-fessor Farca’s classroom, she likesto add small questions so that thestudents open their minds to bothsides of an argument.Ph.D. in English Literatureand her second MA at OklahomaState University, she also receivedan education at West Universityat Timisoara, where she earnedher rst MA in linguistics and herrst BA in English and RomanianLiterature and Languages. Profes-sor Farca recently used all of hereducation to co-author a book for the Nature and Human Valuescourse. “Along with my talentedcolleagues, Courtney Holles andShira Richman, I wrote A Student’sGuide to Nature and Human Val-ues.” Professor Farca explained,“The textbook will help studentswrite and revise papers for Natureand Human Values, understandethical theories, and become moreadept at research. Not only did shework on this textbook for students,she also had a very productivesummer. “I revised my dissertation,Roots to Routes: ContemporaryIndigenous Fiction by Women Writ-ers in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Thebook is expected to publish nextyear,” says Professor Farca.Of course, every professor atthe Colorado School of Mines hasa life outside of work and gradingpapers, and Professor Farca is nodifferent in this regard. “I will tell youthree things: I can live on an icecream-only diet (chocolate workstoo), my favorite tennis player isRafael Nadal, and I root for A.C.Milan, the Italian soccer team.” TheColorado School of Mines is proudto have a professor as intellectualas Professor Paula A. Farca. The night sky is a vast tapes-try that covers us for about half of our lives. Surprisingly, for such aprevalent image, very few peoplecan identify anything more than ahandful of well-known constella-tions and our satellite, the Moon.While these are elegantly familiar,there is so much more to the stars,which can be found with a smallamount of guidance. That is wherethis column comes in. The cosmosis an inspiring sight and hopefullyafter a few articles, you too will beable to nd the beauty of the uni-verse above you.So if this is the beginning, whatwill we need to move on? Depend-ing on how serious you are, there isa wide array of tools that can helpto unveil the stars. If you are read-ing this, you already have the rstfew: eyes and an inquisitive nature.Most of what this column will covercan be easily seen by the nakedeye.
Stars shine brightabove Mines
Still, there will surely be objectsthat can be enhanced by visualaids. If you have a set of binocu-lars, it will aid your search. Unlessyou already have a telescope, Iwould not recommend purchasingone. They can be expensive, andwhile they are a cool display pieceand can help you see a bit further,binoculars should do the trick for just about everything.Other handy tools include a pla-nisphere (a basic star chart) and ared ashlight. These can be foundfor a low price online (be sure toget one for star observations inthe Northern 40’s for observing atMines) and will aid you in nding just about anything year round.While there will be no ofcialstargazing topic this week, I sug-gest familiarizing yourself with thelarge fall constellations such asUrsa Major to the north and Sag-ittarius to the south. Also enjoythe waning Moon that will leadto a New Moon on September 8.Peace, and may the stars shinebrightly in your sky.have hardware phone systems,which Google Chat does not,though Google Voice allows us-ers to route calls to both standard(landline/cellular) and PC-based(Google Chat or the Google-owned Gizmo Project) phones us-ing the same incoming number.One important note: GoogleChat is not yet available for GMailaccounts based on Google Apps,such as Mines’s MyMail system.Google says it is working on es-tablishing feature parity betweenGoogle Apps and “direct” Googleaccounts, so MyMail users andothers on Google Apps basedsystems may not have long towait until this feature is available tothem. For now though, a standardGMail account is free to createand Google has honed the ser-vice over the past week or two tothe point that the system is high-quality enough to use as a viablesupplement to a mobile phone,or as an easy way to circumventlong distance charges associatedwith a landline, as long as you arecomfortable using your computerto make the call.