Fujifilm gets that cameras are social devices

After continuing on his fruitless anti-megapixel campaign, David Pogue’s review of the vividly colored Finepix Z (as in Generation) touches on a topic I wrote about two and a half years ago in Switched On — the difficulty in sharing photos on the spot with others, say, at a party.

Fujifilm has enabled these cameras to beam pictures to each other the way early Newtons MessagePads and Palm Pilots could beam virtual business cards (this was quite the geeky spectacle at Macworld Expos after the Newton was launched although there’s really been no replacement for exchanging digital contact information). Pogue lays out the scenario:

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HD: The old, the new and the blue

There were a couple of great posts by my colleagues on the DisplaySearch blog this week. Ross Young writes about the challenges of accommodating a state-of-the-art 1080p LCD television in the space allocated for an older 4 X 3 television in a cabinet that is decidedly more difficult to upgrade. Meanwhile, Paul Erickson discusses the impact of the Paramount repeat about-face with respect to the high-definition disc wars, a topic about which there have been some crazy conspiracy theories. I agree with him that this will serve to prolong the war and will have more to say on that shortly.

Speaking of DisplaySearch and the high-definition format war, its HDTV Conference will be the place to hear about the latest from many of the principal companies and alliances involved. Check out this panel lineup for the next-gen DVD hardware outlook panel on October 11th (the conference’s second day) in LA:

I’ll also be speaking on a panel later that day on digital home connectivity.

Screw B.U. And the RIAA, too

Via BoingBoing comes this story from The Cornell Daily Sun (where I was a columnist for three years). The article details how the RIAA is suing 16 students at my alma mater and includes this statement of defiance from Tracy Mitrano, director of information technology policy and computer policy in the Office of the Vice President for Information Technologies (whew!):

We only respond to compulsory legal notices and otherwise do not disclose the identity of students to them or any other content owner who alleges infringement. We do indeed invest extraordinary efforts to educate our students about the law, policy and politics of copyright, but we do so in the exercise of our missions and not either as handmaidens or pawns of the content industry.

That’s tellin’ ’em, Tracy!

A disappointing AT&T Experience

I took advantage of a trip down to Atlanta this week to check out the new AT&T Experience store, which promises to bring together all of AT&T’s formidable triple-play assets. In particular, I was interested to check out U-Verse and HomeZone, its home video plays.

I thought I might document the trip with a few pictures, but was accosted by an employee on some kind of cigarette break while I was outside the store, maybe 15 or 20 feet away just taking pictures of the facade. I can — OK, I really can’t — understand companies getting testy about taking pictures inside a store, but outside? Does the store have anti-aircraft artillery on the roof to take down any planes snapping pictures for Google’s or Microsoft’s maps?

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The fate of FireWire 800

One change that Apple made to the new iMacs beyond their revamped chassis is the addition of FireWire 800, which hasn’t seen much support beyond a few external hard drives. A good thread on MacSlash created before the new iMac introduction notes that FireWire remains important to Apple’s migration strategy via target disk mode but it seems that eSATA is gaining more momentum in the marketplace for external storage. On the other hand, Apple leveraged FireWire to bring the iPod into the marketplace so perhaps FireWire 800 will open doors to some new device down the line — an Apple camcorder perhaps?

Engadget’s pleas for Palm

Not long after my two-part column offering a more moderate pespective on the Foleo, a few of my favorite Engadget editors penned an open letter to Palm that received a chorus of amens from the community and rightly so. I don’t think you’ll find anyone in Palm’s management who doesn’t understand the software opportunity and the sad fate of the original Palm OS through its long period of misguided development and subsequent neglect amidst a dizzying series of management changes. And, yes, the Treo needs to slim down. But a slim Treo is only table stakes as a number of strong competitors (Motorola, Samsung, HTC, Apple) have slim smartphones. My Blackberry 8800 is not noticeably thicker than the T-Mobile Dash either.

So, while the open letter raises a lot of issues that Palm needs to address, following its advice is not going to allow Palm to move ahead and differentiate. It would be like telling Nintendo in the GameCube days that they needed to support HDTV because Sony and Microsoft were going to in their next generation or telling Apple that they needed to switch to Intel processors before they had introduced the iMac and titanium PowerBooks.

Phone banking comes full circle

Before my bank was Web-enabled, and before it even offered any kind of online banking via Quicken or Microsoft Money, it had an IVR-based bank-by-phone service that was actually pretty convenient, and worked fine for things like checking balances, transfers, making payments and other simple tasks. It was killed as e-banking moved to the Web, but it’s still difficult to do even simple financial transactions from a mobile phone. Now, we’re seeing Citibank, BoA and others start to launch mobile banking on mobile phone screens. My bank is not yet on board, but I’m sure won’t be far behind.

Despite FileMaker, iWork is baseless

If Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices group (responsible for Xbox, Zune and Surface computing) is a little Apple within Microsoft, than, FileMaker, Inc. is probably the closest thing to a little Microsoft within Apple. It is a traditional — and profitable — software company developing a mature and well-regarded (by users if not professional database developers) cross-platform application for the Mac and Windows.

FileMaker, following some tricky version names early in its history (FileMaker 4 preceded FileMaker II — don’t ask), is now in its ninth major version. It is the last remains of what was once Apple’s in-house and almost spun-out software company Claris. In the early ’90s, Claris offered, among other products, the MacWrite Pro word processor and the Resolve spreadsheet, a revamped version of the presentation-friendly WingZ. FileMaker has long found an audience among Windows users who find Access cold and technical compared to its friendly layout-driven approach.

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Mix and Macs

So, the sleeker new iMacs are here and the 17″er has faded into the history, replaced by a 20″ model that is less, as the car commercials put it, “nicely loaded.” The “chin” has not disappeared, but the black border around the screen minimizes it somewhat. The new keyboards are striking and I had some fun holding the wireless one like a chopping knife; it’s that thin. However, while the iMac is itself now as much of a juxtaposition of black and aluminum as the iPhone, the keys and underside of the keyboard are an homage to the white flat-panel iMacs of yore, as is the Mighty Mouse, which has never saved my day.

I suppose the good news is that the scores of third-party mice from Logitech and Microsoft will now match the iMac’s color scheme a bit better, but it would be great to see something made of the same materials. It will also be interesting to see if third-party keyboard makers include support for the Expose and Dashboard keys that Apple has added.

Incidentally, I’ve been writing enough here about PCs per se to add that as a fixed category as at least a stopgap til we get some proper tags around here.

FoolHD

No, I’m not impersonating Fake Steve impersonating Bono, I’m referring to Hitachi’s upcoming Blu-ray camcorders that the company describes as recording in “full HD.” This was surprising to me as consumer camcorders do not record in progressive scan and other companies, such as Sony, have used that term to refer specifically to 1080p. Now the question is whether Hitachi and other plasma TV companies will call 1080i sets “full HD”. That ship has probably sailed as they’re now planning to bring margin back into the business with their own 1080p sets, trying to beat LCD  at its own game, but more confusion will reign.