Everybody has their complaints about the iOS (and Mac OS) Contacts app. They're all different, but I don't know a single person who LIKES it, but we all grit our teeth and get by. Now Contrast, the folks behind Launch Center, are taking on the challenge of using contacts with a new app called Contact Center. It has shortcuts that can be customized per contact, making it easy to interact with your contacts in the ways that make sense for each of them. It's a free app in the US App Store now. I can't wait to spend some time with this, Launch Center is a wonderful utility so I'm betting their contact interaction will also be pretty great. See it in use below.
Smile Software announced Wednesday that TextExpander touch 3 was being opened to a public beta. This will be a keyboard replacement for iOS 8 (via Apple's new keyboard extension) that allows you to use your TextExpander snippets in every iOS app—even Apple's own apps. Smile also said the keyboard will include full VoiceOver accessibility support. If you want to participate in the public beta, follow Smile's special Twitter account @SmileTEBeta.
Seagate announced Tuesday that has shipped the first 8TB hard drive, a 33 percent increase in capacity from the 6TB enterprise monsters that were announced just last April. The devices come in a standard 3.5-inch form factor, and it doesn't use helium to increase capacity, a concept being pursued by Western Digital. Instead, as noted by Computerworld, Seagate is using a technology called shingled magnetic recording (SMR). The company hasn't announced pricing, and said that it was shipping the drive to "select customers," with wider availability starting next quarter. The 6TB enterprise drive shown below can be purchased for US$599. Now, if I could just get an iPhone with more than 64GB of storage.
TiVo has taken a big step into the world of cord-cutting with the introduction of TiVo Roamio OTA, a DVR for over-the-air (OTA) TV signals. With this device, cord-cutters can go back to the future and digitally record SD and HD broadcasts from local TV stations and watch them like they would with any other DVR. Cool, eh? TiVo Roamio OTA can record up to four programs at once, and it has a 500GB hard drive for up to 75 hours of recorded HD content. If you have a broadband connection, the device also has apps for Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, "and more," plus it supports TiVo's own TiVo Stream for watching your recorded shows on other devices. It's a brilliant move that could allow TiVo to expand its business outside of the cable and satellite industries where it started. Better yet, the box is only US$49.99 (available exclusively at Best Buy starting in September). It also requires a $14.99 monthly subscription to function, which is where TiVo actually makes its money.
Week of Who concludes today with The Curse of Fatal Death, a special produced as part of a telethon for the Red Nose Day charity. This is a notable piece of Doctor Who history because it makes more than a few connections between the old series and the new, notable among them being that the "episode" was written by now current executive producer of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat. It was part of the Red Nose Day telethon in 1999, and has been affectionately adopted as part of the Whoniverse. Like a ridiculous, but lovable uncle, if your uncle was Rowan Atkinson. Enjoy the new series!
Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is just one of a ton of folks who have accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—we posted Apple CEO Tim Cook's public challenge last week—but his video has a higher production value than most. In fact, it's awesome. And funny, though we did note a distinct lack of ice in the ice bucket he poors over his head. But never mind, he challenged Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, TV personality Ryan Seacrest, and Chris Anderson from TED, and he had fun doing it. Mr. Gates didn't announce how much money he was donating, but then he never toots his own philanthropic horn, despite being the most prolific philanthropist since the word was invented. So, watch the video and consider donating some money yourself.
Day Four of my Week Of Who commences with a small Doctor tribute that has snowballed. On the TV show Community, a couple of characters are obsessed with the show Inspector Spacetime, a British show about a guy who travels through time and space in a phone booth. NBC decided not to make the show, so the actor cast as Inspector Spacetime started a web series. NBC would not let him continue, so he started a different show called Untitled Web Series About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time. It's fun to watch and clever references make it even more enjoyable. Start with the first episode below:
As Bitcoin mining gets ever-more competitive, energy efficiency has become just as important as price. Accordingly, I took note of the Antminer S3 miners being offered at ZoomHash. They're 453 GH/s miners that use just 355 watts of power at the wall. In comparison, the S1 units I reviewed in March do 180 GH/s at 360 watts. At $349 for the S3 (on sale for pre-order), that makes them one of the most energy-efficient miners on the market, especially at that price. The 800 GH/s to 1 TH/s devices on the market typically need 800-1000 watts of power. That said, this is a pre-order price. They ship on September 20th from Hong Kong, and they'll take 3-4 business days to arrive in the U.S. (check for details on your location)—waiting a month will have an affect on your ROI, and mining is always a gamble. To help even that gamble, ZoomHash set up a 5 percent coupon for our readers (coupon code MacObserver). Just enter that coupon during the checkout process. I'll be posting a review once I receive my units.
Today's entry in the Week Of Who is near and dear to TMO Towers, for the Doctor Who fans around the Towers also enjoy The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Craig was a musician back in the day, and at one point he was in a band called The Dreamboys, with his friend Peter Capaldi who starts his reign as The Doctor August 23rd. Why does this matter? Because someone else who knew about this created a comic called Craigy Who and Mister Timey Pants which is lovely and silly and Capaldi Approved. And let's be honest, if it's Capaldi Approved, it's best you don't argue*.
This is pretty deeply in the NSFW category. You have been warned.
The Guest Pass app page sums it up: "Do you share passwords with people to join your Wi-Fi network on a regular basis? Guest Pass makes this easy. Just fill out the simple questions in Guest Pass and e-mail the resulting Guest Pass without ever leaving the app. Users receive an attachment that they tap [iOS] or click [OS X], and the next time they are near your network, their iPhone, iPad, or Mac will automatically connect. You can also set expiration dates so the settings will be deleted [from] the device on the expiration date." The way it works is that a special, encrypted configuration file is sent to the recipient who must be using iOS 5 or later or OS X 10.7 or later. The recipient will never see your network password. You can set an expiration date, but if you want to provide semi-permanent access, you set set an expiration in the far distant future. Using Guest Pass provides finer control over who and how long access is allowed than the "Enable Guest Network" found in the Apple AirPort Utility.
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