Apple Remote

Unless one has been living under a rock the coming of iPhone 2.0 software and the iPhone 3G are well known. Apple has a free Apple Remote application that allows an iPhone user to control their AppleTV or iTunes using the WiFi connection from the phone. This is all well and good. The application is great. Uncharacteristically for Apple there is a big gaping hole in the application. It is not a security hole but is a major piece of the application that is missing.

The application provides for the ability to search one's library which is nice. However it has no means to use the phone to make purchases for the AppleTV. This matters so much because entering text to search the store via the standard Apple Remote is a painfully slow experience of choosing a single letter at a time on screen. How cool it would have been if the remote application made finding and purchasing things on the AppleTV possible.

However lest anybody think the iPhone isn't bringing new folks to Apple there was the guy in line this morning extolling how he not only uses Exchange but does so willingly and runs his own Exchange server who was there to buy an iPhone. Worse yet he was bragging about convincing small businesses that Exchange is a good investment for them. Sigh. Now back to saving the world one server at a time...

Cutting the cable

Tom wrote recently about ditching cable TV. Over the last couple of years we've been watching not much TV. With our move last winter we ended up in a house that for various reasons isn't suited to cable or satellite.

This situation brought out the rabbit ears and there is an amazing revelation that free TV is still available via plain old rabbit ears. The coming conversion to digital TV won't even render them useless though an old TV set will need a converter box. But there is the lack of TiVo. That all powerful system for time-shifting shows. Fortunately there is a reasonable solution there too.

Admittedly the Eye TV Hybrid takes some cash up front. However, it pays off in the long run. There are no TiVo fees, no requirement to use anything but a computer and some rabbit ears. Though I don't yet have even the latest software, it does a great job of turning a 20-inch iMac into a great media center. Hook it up with an AppleTV and it's even better than TiVo in many ways.

New year's wish for Apple TV

Ben Patterson put AppleTV on his worst of 2007 tech list. I couldn't disagree more. Only recently did I get an AppleTV but it is great. It is great to be able to subscribe to RSS photo feeds in iPhoto and see them on the TV so it is easy to keep track of what the friends are up to in their photo feeds.

I would love to see Apple make a few updates when MacWorld comes around in January. First of all I'd love to be able to better access YouTube videos. The search interface without a keyboard is the pits. It works but it doesn't live up to the Apple "it just works" expectations. But the biggest area I'd like to see AppleTV take the lead is as a player for iTunes, especially over a network of AirPort base stations. The whole thing about having the AppleTV in the living room would make it a lot easier to use as the main music player instead of having to either run back to or remote into the media server in the house.

The process of converting DVD's to iTunes with Handbrake has made it clear that the iMac G5 needs to be delegated to a role as a backup server. The MacBook Pro is more than 10-times faster in ripping DVD's. Back to the AppleTV Patterson has a point that it would be better to be able to buy movies directly from the box, but one has to think with the iPhone iTunes store model worked out, this update has to be coming soon. Even with its limits it comes nowhere close to deserving to be on the same list of hideousness as Windows Vista.

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