Reviews

Mophie Juice Pack and Rechargeable Battery for iPhone 3G, 3GS

I recently upgraded from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3GS so that I could take advantage of the increased speed, both hardware and Internet-wise, because some of the apps that I had installed, many purchased, just weren’t working well on the old phone.

For instance, the TVU Networks app, which lets you watch a lot of Internet based TV, was just too much for the old girl. The picture would freeze and the audio and video would be completely out of sync, even on a fast wi-fi network. Other apps like Last.fm and Pandora would sputter on the Edge network while I was out on my daily walk in the Palm Springs sunshine.

Anyway, it was with much anticipation that I brought home a brand new iPhone 3GS to play with. The apps worked ever so much better!

The battery in the phone was a totally different story, however. With the new 3GS phone, I would find myself recharging two or three times a day as the little power bar would start plummeting after just a few phone calls or other use. I was getting frustrated and firmly believe that Apple should be ashamed to have introduced a phone with such sucky battery life. Apple will tell you to disable all of the things you got the phone for to prolong the battery – 3G, bluetooth, etc. Lame!

Fortunately, someone heard my cries of dispair and I was given a Mophie Juice Pack Air Case and Rechargeable Battery for iPhone 3G, 3G S (Black) as a gift. This little jewel effectively doubles my battery life with just a small bit of added bulk to the phone. This is especially handy if you are traveling or out of the office all day and have no way to plug your phone in to charge it. Continue reading

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Reviews

Review: Griffin 9696 AirCurve Acoustic Amplifier for iPhone

The Griffin AirCurve Acoustic Amplifier for the iPhone is a solidly built, attractive clear station that gives the iPhone’s tiny speakers a bit of a boost. It can be used with a charging cable for use as a charging station/music dock or it without the cable as a pure music dock.

Griffin 9696 AirCurve Acoustic Amplifier for iPhone (Clear) is only $14.99 with free shipping as I write this. A deal in my opinion!

See all of my Amazon.com reviews and videos online.

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Reviews, SEO

Optimization for Social Media Integration

Optimization for Social Media Integration
SEO and Social Media optimization are pretty much integrated these days.

As promised, though delayed a bit, here is the follow-up to SEO & Social Media Integration with some tips for optimizing your social media and integrating it into your overall SEO mix. Naturally, the more social links you have, the more you’ll be noticed (Hey, I’m here!) and linked to and crawled, natural SEO in any book.

  • Complete your profiles and put your web site or blog URL in ALL of your profiles. Including your web site link should be a no brainer, but LOTS of folks forget this. Social content is definitely showing up in search results. For instance, a search for my name in Google comes up with several of my profiles (LinkedIn, WebPro News, Plaxo, etc.)  as I write this. Include jobs, use keywords, never turn down interview or podcast opportunities that can be included.
  • Check industry trends through services like Google Alerts. Jump into breaking subjects with blog and social media posts.
  • Promote blogs, social media and RSS feeds of those who link to you through your own RSS feeds. This has a viral effect that sends more links to you.
  • Develop a series of “How to” videos and post them on video sites like YouTube (now 25% of Google searches). People LOVE these and will embed the videos or link to them. Post them on your own blog and in the social sites, too.
  • Content is king on Twitter, just like in standard, run of the mill SEO, so use keywords and hashtags (like the #bsg tag for Battlestar Galactica fans).
  • Utilize Facebook fan pages. These can have unlimited followers and can be optimized.
  • Subscriptions are gold! Social Media Content = Subscriptions + Links!
  • Transcribe your podcasts and post them on your blog.  Include keywords and links.
  • Create widgets that will pull your RSS feeds from blogs, social media and news feeds. As a rule, links in RSS feeds are direct links without redirection or the dreaded “nofollow” tag!
  • Re-optimize blog posts after their “shelf” life. Rework them and monetize them for breaking subjects. Any given blog post URL or page has history and links, so update them to keep current, ranking and posted in the social media.

OK, as always, these just scratch the surface, but you can see the optimizing for SEO and social media are pretty much one and the same these days. What you do with one totally effects the other.  Anyone who thinks they can be an SEO and ignore social media is, well, NOT an SEO.

Next up: Optimization for Social Media Integration: News

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Reviews, SEO

Tip: YouTube Embedded Videos Pull Title & Ratings

Notice that embedded SWF videos from YouTube pull the title and rating and place them in the top left of the embedded video screen, so pay attention to what you use as your video title. A more attractive title leads to more views.

Here’s a screen capture of an embedded video used on the Motorcycle Sunglasses page over at FramesDirect.com. See how prominent the title and ratings are on the screen?

Including a good title and getting good ratings can help your SEO

This gives more incentive to get good ratings for videos. Remember, the higher your ratings, the more likely your video is to rank in Google Universal Search. Make those videos worth watching!

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Reviews

iPhone TV: or How to Watch News While Shaving Without a TV

Yes, I’ll admit it. I like having a TV in the bathroom so I can watch (or listen) to the news while shaving and getting ready for the day. In a previous residence I had a large bathroom which I remodeled to include dual sinks and a flat screen TV mounted on the wall between them.

Unfortunately, I no longer have that luxury as I have moved to a place with a much smaller bathroom. Remodeling is not an option and with no cable or power outlet convenient, wireless is my only option.

The discontinued Sony Locationfree TV

The discontinued Sony Locationfree TV

I’m a big fan of the discontinued Sony LocationFree LF-X1 12 inch portable television. That baby came with a portable flat screen TV (shown) and a wireless base that also functioned as a wireless-G Wi-Fi access point. I still have two of them, though I wish there was some way to upgrade the built in web browser, which is basically useless these days. I love these and really wish Sony would come out with an upgraded version (at an affordable price).

Problem is, although they are rechargeable, they don’t use standard TV wall mounts and the original wall mount that was made for these doesn’t seem to be available anymore. Also, taking the TVs down constantly to charge them (since I don’t have a power outlet in the right location) is a pain. And, the bathroom counter I use is tiny, so there’s no room for one of them to sit on the counter.

I’ve been a fan of Orb for quite a while, too. This is a free service that lets you watch TV streaming off of your TV tuner-enabled PC at home by way of the Internet. You just install the Orb client on your media PC, login to your Orb account at the Orb web site and you can watch TV, view videos or images on your PC or listen to your music from any Internet connected browser anywhere. No extra hardware needed.

My iPhone would be the perfect size for viewing TV on my bathroom counter, so the first thing I tried was logging into Orb using the Safari browser through my home Wi-Fi connection (I have the original iPhone, so no 3G). I could stream my videos, listen to music and look at my pictures over the iPhone, but darn it, no live TV option.

TV on an iPhone using the Orb app

TV on an iPhone using the Orb app

Orb has come to my rescue with their Orb iPhone App. They offer a free version, but it’s basically useless so spring for the full version at $9.99. Just install it on your iPhone, provide your user name and password and you’re up and running.

One problem is that watching your iPhone in the sideways position gives the largest video image, so I found a simple metal mesh business card holder at Staples to set mine in. It’s a perfect fit.

Yes, you can plug your iPhone into a wall jack for power if you use an adapter with your USB cable. I don’t have room for that, so I just use battery power. It’s not as though I’m watching this standing at the sink for hours.

The Orb iPhone App provides settings for optimizing the video stream for Edge, 3G or Wi-Fi. I didn’t even try Edge and I don’t have 3G, but the Wi-Fi viewing was very good.

Naturally, this killer app opens me up to using the iPhone for TV wherever I have a Wi-Fi connection. Eventually, I’m sure I’ll upgrade to the 3G iPhone, making me even more of a TV addict.

Hey, who wouldn’t want to watch “Oprah” while sipping java at Starbucks?

😉

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Reviews

Skype Releases Android Version, But Not What We Expected

New Skype client for Android sounds like a loserSo, Skype has finally listened to smartphone users who have been screaming for a java enabled mobile phone version of their software.

Well, sort of and only if you are using an Android-powered device.

I have spent quite a bit of time over the past couple of years in the Skype forums reading comments from mobile users (and posting a few of my own) regarding the lack of a Skype client for the iPhone. A client for Windows Mobile has been around for a while. So, naturally, seeing as we’re into the second generation of iPhone without a Skype client, Skype’s announcement at CES that Android phones will be getting a client irks me no end.

As the title of this blog implies, I try to be an optimist about things I write about, but as a long-time Skype user, even if I had an Android device I would want a version of the Skype software that could be used over wi-fi like you do on a laptop, NOT a version that will use up mobile minutes and data plan bandwidth like a Hummer chugs down gasoline.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Ever since I got my original iPhone I have hoped for an easy way to use it for VOIP through wi-fi when I’m sitting at Starbucks, a hotel room or even in my den. This won’t do that even for Android users. Just check this out, straight from the press release titled Skype Launches on Android Platform and more than 100 Java-Enabled Mobile Phones:

*Costs for using the lite version of Skype:
You will be charged by your mobile operator for local air time and data usage based on the type of calling service and data plan you have purchased. Since the lite version of Skype uses a mobile data connection to sign in to Skype, update your contact list, update presence and send/receive messages, you will be charged by your mobile operator for data usage. You will not incur charges from Skype when you make Skype-to-Skype calls or send instant messages to friends on Skype; however national calling rates may apply from your mobile operator due to the use of local air time. Skype will charge its regular very low Skype rates when you call landlines and mobiles using Skype or when you receive calls on your mobile handset from other Skype users or people calling your personal online number. We highly recommend getting an unlimited data plan for use with the lite version of Skype. The longer you remain signed in, the more Skype contacts you have, or the more you send and receive instant messages, the more data you will use.

I suppose if you have an unlimited plan, you’re OK, but could we at least have the OPTION of using wi-fi?

I have been a user and supporter of Skype for several years now, but to me, this is a total bummer and for a lot of us defeats the purpose of using Skype, which is FREE phone calls. It’s about as useless as I found the Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype to be for travel purposes (By the way, the Belkin is now sitting in a drawer, unused).

I am so underwhelmed.

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Reviews

LG BD300 Blu-ray DVD Player with Netflix Streaming


As a Netflix subscriber wanting to upgrade to Blu-ray, I had been tempted to order the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc Player with Netflix for quite a while, but the price and the limited availability of streaming Netflix titles kept holding me back. It seemed like everything I wanted to watch NOW on Netflix was only available by ordering the DVD by mail and not through the online streaming service.

Just in time for my birthday, however, the price dropped so I received the BD300 as a gift (I was asked what I wanted and this was it!).

Overall, I like the simplicity of the unit. Pop in a DVD or CD and you are automatically taken to those features. If there’s no disc in the player, the easy on-screen menu lands on the Netflix streaming option (broadband connection required). Click on it and you are presented with a list of the Netflix programs that you dropped in your Netflix “Watch Instantly” queue (through a web browser on your computer). Just click on one to start the program.

The Blu-ray playback is very good, but I wanted this unit for the Netflix streaming, too. Quality on that feature is good, about what you’d get with a VHS tape. I see a lot of promise with this feature but am absolutely frustrated with the limited number of streaming programs available. For instance, I’m watching the first season of MacGyver through streaming, but as I write this, the other seasons are not available through the streaming option. I have to order the DVDs.

In fact, very little of the Netflix library is available for instant play. I’m guessing maybe about 1% is. Most annoying. And, I would hope in future versions of this player (if there are any) that there is some feature that allows browsing available programs from the unit. Currently, you have to go to the Netflix web site on your computer to select “Watch Instantly” programs.

So, it’s a good Blu-ray player for the money, but be prepared to be disappointed with Netflix as far as program availability for the streaming feature at this time. I’ve read where LG is coming out with large screen TVs with built-in Netflix streaming, so hopefully Netflix will start ramping up their streaming content soon.

Overall I’d give the BD300 player itself 4 stars (out of 5) and the Netflix streaming feature only 3 stars, primarily because of the limited selection of programs.

C’mon, Netflix, let’s get some of the good stuff in the streaming category!

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