The Kin is already dead

Kin.It took just two months for Microsoft to launch and subsequently kill off yet another mobile platform. The Kin is dead, people. Move along.

Here’s the official word:

We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.

The Kin wasn’t selling well and it didn’t sound like there was much development going on for the platform. Add in a data plan requirement from Verizon and you have a recipe for a failed device. How long before Microsoft bows out of mobile all together?

There’s a Facebook script to see who deleted you

QQ please.There are a lot of things I really loathe about Facebook. While it is a good place to connect and share things with my actual friends, there’s always the strange undercurrent of lurkers – people I haven’t seen or talked to in as much as a decade trying to keep up with me by watching status updates and the like.

One such person sent me an invitation to look at a page on Facebook titled “Find out who deleted you.” This may have been around for awhile, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous. If you need a script to tell you when you’ve been removed from a “friend’s” page, you probably shouldn’t have friended them in the first place. And what do you plan to do now that you know? Rage at them? Send them a nasty note? Track them down?

As great as all of our tools for connectivity are, there is a threshold of overconnect for me.

Hulu Plus brings mediocre video to mobile devices

Jack and Liz looking fuzzy.The fabled Hulu Plus is real, it seems, delivering “HD” programming to your mobile devices and internet-connected TVs for just $10 a month. You’ll have access to full current seasons of shows like 30 Rock and Glee and a library of older episodes from shows like Arrested Development.

I say “HD” because you should take a look at that screenshot above. Yes, that’s a screenshot. Notice anything? That it looks like shit, perhaps? That’s a shot from my iPhone 4 on a Wi-Fi connection and it looks like total crap. Sorry, Hulu, but you’re going to have to do better. Even worse than the quality, you still have to watch ads despite your subscription fee. You guys do know how to make me feel like a dollar sign.

What I really want for streaming video is something more akin to the Netflix Watch Instantly system. It’s painless, easy, and for serial programming it’s better than anything (even NinjaVideo). I’ve been watching Party Down recently – updated weekly with the new episode – and I’ve fallen in love with the Netflix system. If anyone has the future of online video in hand, it’s these guys. It’s not as expensive as Hulu Plus and you get access to a library of movies as well.

If you want to see Hulu Plus for yourself, download the free app and check out some preview episodes or opt-in to the preview invite system over at Hulu.

iPhone coming to Verizon in January?

Verizon iPhone.

Bloomberg is reporting that the iPhone may be breaking onto America’s favorite network in January of next year. The report cites two unnamed sources who are, as always, close to the issue.

There has been a lot of speculation about the end of the AT&T exclusivity arrangement, especially when AT&T started offering up iPhone 4 upgrades to anyone that would take one.

The device will be available to customers in January, according to the people, who declined to be named because the information isn’t public. Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman, and Jeffrey Nelson, a Verizon Wireless spokesman, declined to comment.

The iPhone, which has been the sole domain of rival AT&T in the U.S. since June 2007, will give Verizon a boost in its competition for smartphone customers, UBS AG analyst John Hodulik said in an interview. Verizon customers, who numbered 92.8 million at the end of the first quarter, may buy 3 million iPhones a quarter, he estimates.

For now I’ll remain skeptical, if only because there have been rumors of a Verizon iPhone for years now. Actually, I just don’t want to believe I signed with AT&T when Verizon was just around the corner.

iPhone 4 camera shots

iPhone 4 test shot flower.

The best camera is the one you have with you, and since my new favorite point-and-shoot is built into my phone, I should be all set. When the 3GS came out last year, I was ready to say goodbye to point-and-shoots all together. There were still a lot of situations, though, where the 3GS was terrible (low light, of course). The iPhone changes that with the addition of a flash and another megapixel bump, putting the iPhone camera on par with all but the best in the point-and-shoot category. The fact that the camera is built into the phone is more than enough to discourage me from taking a point-and-shoot anywhere.

Obviously the camera will still shoot best in bright, natural light, like you find in North Carolina when it’s almost 100 degrees. The colors are bright and vibrant, a trait most of the professional photographers I’ve spoken with say Apple borrowed from Nikon’s processing style. It was pretty windy today, so I was surprised to see how focused the pictures of the flowers came out (still a little blurry away from the focal point). Overall, the sensor handles light well, and the camera is fast enough to catch a bit of motion.

Low light iPhone 4 shot.In low light the story is still pretty grim. Even with a flash there’s a lot of noise, though that’s typically true of most point-and-shoots. This isn’t meant for high-quality photography, though, and when viewed as most camera phone shots are these days – on Facebook – the iPhone 4 will stand up with the best your friends can offer. That’s thanks to the f2.4 lens, compared with the f2.8 or above offered on most phones. It’s nice to have that extra light and extra width.

On the whole, Apple’s taken a decent camera and turned it into a true point-and-shoot replacement for taking quick shots on the fly. And it is quick. The limited controls are just a tap away, and there are so few (some say it’s good, some say it’s bad) you won’t spend the precious seconds trying to find a setting. You’ll snap the picture, again and again, which is exactly the point of carrying a quick and dirty camera with you wherever you go.

Here come the FaceTime sex chat services

iPhone 4.The iPhone 4 has been out for all of three days and already there are FaceTime sex chat services forming. The following is from a New York Craigslist ad, which offers a “competitive salary” and a free iPhone 4 for services rendered.

Starting an online interactive pornography firm where woman will use the iphone 4 to video chat with potential customers on a pay as you go basis.
Hours are flexible, pay will increase as the business builds. Woman will receive a free iphone 4 to use as personal time when not working. Woman will talk to potential clients and chat with them and perform various acts as desired by clients. All information will be confidential.

Payment will be based on percentage of sales volume and performance. Potential launch date of the company is 9/1/2010 or based on feedback received.

Woman will receive, as before mentioned, a free cell phone and a very competitive salary.

Please send information and pictures – we would like to launch sooner than 9/1/2010.

Woman must be at least 18 years old.

So how bout it, ladies? Interested in seeing a lot of VGA-quality penis?

Did the iPhone 4 prototype case mask reception problems?

iPhone 4 prototype case.The big question surrounding the iPhone 4 reception issue is how did Apple not catch it? They had the phone for months, presumably testing it in the Bay area for months. So why didn’t the Apple techs experience the problem?

Miguel Helft at the NYT Bits Blog had one theory – when the Apple techs were out the field, the iPhone 4 prototype was disguised in a case to look like the 3GS. The case meant a tech’s hands didn’t touch the antennae, so there were no interference issues, so there was nothing to catch.

Apple said Thursday that a case is one way to solve the reception issues.

There may be a software fix in the works for iPhone 4 reception issues

iPhone 4 FaceTime.A lot of new iPhone 4 owners have been sorely disappointed by the handset’s reception. There is an issue that causes reception to drop dramatically when held so that the two bands on the side of the phone that serve as antennae are connected.

Users at Apple Insider claimed to have seen reports on Apple’s official tech forums that a software fix would be coming this week, as early as Monday.

Readers report that Apple’s tech support forums originally confirmed that a iOS 4.0.1 software fix addressing the issue would ship early next week (as early as Monday), before the comments were subsequently taken down along with all the other related discussion about the matter.

The fix is expected to address a issue in iOS 4 related to radio frequency calibration of the baseband. Readers who saw the original forum discussions say that the issue is believed to occur when switching frequencies; because the lag is allegedly not calibrated correctly, it results in the device reporting “no service” rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio.

iOS 4 introduced some enhancements to how the baseband selects which frequencies to use, so it makes sense that the error may have crept into those changes. Additionally, this explains why iOS 4 has also caused similar problems for iPhone 3GS users.

Let’s hope this is true. I haven’t personally had the problem, but I’d be pretty pissed if I had a great handset that couldn’t actually be used as a phone.

Get your FaceTime with an Apple employee

FaceTime.So you rushed out to get yourself a shiny new iPhone 4 and you want to share it with your friends. Problem is, none of your friends did the same. No one you know did the same. So how will you test FaceTime?

Call Apple. Apple set up 1-888-FACETIME to allow new users to test out FaceTime with Apple employees. The service has been live since yesterday and could become the status quo for tech support calls. I’ll probably give a call tomorrow to try things out (I’m in that no-friends-with-iPhone-4s boat), but I can’t say I’m real interested in doing tech support over video chat. It still freaks me out any time I see the little green light go live on my webcam.

Blocking porn just got much, much easier

XXX.There’s big news today for anyone interested in blocking (or finding) porn. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers today approved the “.xxx” top-level domain tag.

This is especially nice for organizations (or parents) that want a reliable way to block pornographic material. Granted, not everyone has to ascribe to the domain name, but doesn’t pornhub.xxx look better than pornhub.com?

Strangely enough, the initial response from anti-porn activists was negative. The claim? That this will encourage the proliferation of digital erotica. Yeah, because right now porn is super hard to find.