Is Garage Band Going To Project Me Into Rock Stardom?

(from Guest writer Imogen (Polly Jackson)
Contact: imogen@linegray.com)


Why is this relatively cheap iPad/ iPhone getting top billing, and what is all the fuss about? It is featured in the new iPad 3 launch advert and other than the fact that it shows groups of people all using their iPads together at the same time there must be some reason that it has managed to claw to the front of the race in front of the other 100,000 apps that Apple could have chosen from.

What makes garage band so popular?

From the members of the womens wellness panel to the local choirmaster, everyone seems to have a copy. There is no doubt that its popularity since its first incarnation on the Mac OS has shown a meteoric rise. This has in some part been helped by the interface on the first two generations of the iPad. So what are the features that make it so intriguing? Well in the first place you don’t need to be a musician. This automatically includes a whole raft of people who might otherwise have said, “not for me, thanks.” In the same way as games like ‘Rock Star’ have taken off this app allows you to live out the fantasy of being in a band without having to shell out X amount of dollars on a Pearl Export Drum Kit or put up with your neighbours furiously banging the wall.

The app has also many well developed features which do allow you to piece together music almost as expertly as if you were in a recording studio.

The touch instrument feature

The setups for the instruments on the iPad and iPhone are simple, accurately sensitive and effective. You can set up a drum kit and tap the graphic on your screen using either a real kit or drum pad. The sounds are fed back in realistic times so you do need to have some sense of rhythm, but these can be augmented with a pre-layered track to help guide you along the way. The keyboard can be set up and split into a dual screen set up. This is not the place for a virtuoso soloist, but you can use the guides to record some chord progressions and riffs. Again touch the instrument and the response if fairly immediate and the string section gives you a great range of choice from double bass to the ever popular electric guitar.

Smart Instruments

This is the feature which has probably won the majority of people over and the reason the app is so popular. It is like having a bionic music ability. This feature is the proverbial leg up as far as playing the songs is concerned. You can set up your instrument; keyboard, guitar drums to play chords or riffs with a single tap. It saves on all the intricate finger-work and really is the lazy man’s solution to becoming Jimmy Page. For smart drums you can simply drag in the pieces and they will beat away to give your rhythm section the heartbeat it needs.

Into the studio

The thoughts of all this genius creativity going to waste and the inbuilt recording section ensures that all of your jamming can be laid down and mixed to within an inch of its life. The studio consists of an 8 track recording suite which for the average jammer is plenty. You can record your efforts in bars (sections) or as a whole piece. Once you have recorded your different individual sections then you can begin mixing them in an interface which is delightfully simple and responsive to the touch. The functionality here is fairly basic with little more than the usual cut, trim, copy and paste style options. The effects menu is also fairly limited with only ‘echo’ and’ reverb’ as your options. There is no opportunity to auto tune and if you are going to fix a section it is by deleting the unwanted piece and recording that section again.

So this app is not going to project anyone into super stardom. It is fun though and it will allow an escape and the pretence that you have got some musical ability. I know serious musicians will struggle with the basic functionality of it, but if you are aiming for something to create serious music there are plenty of suitable software packs for your PC, this is just a game, a really fun, slightly addictive and really pretentious (in a good way!) enjoyable feature for your iPhone and iPad. For under $5 it is no surprises that it is on the top of the pile.

How to update your iPhone 3G to iOS 4.2.1, unlocked, jail-broken, and keep location services working!

Hi there, fellow iPhone 3G users..

I recently decided to upgrade my iPhone 3G again, because I really like playing Words With Friends and some other apps now will only work on the new iOS versions. iOS 4.2.1 was the last available update for the old iPhone 3G, so that’s what I went for.

Similar to using iPhone OS 3.1.3 (which works better on the earlier device), any app that was designed for later iOS’s simply aren’t backwards compatible and won’t normally install on the device. For the ones that do install (for example, Cycorder and most other video recorders for iPhone 3G), they normally crash/exit right after launch. Once most developers have decided to update their tools to later versions, there is no going back to support earlier iPhoneOS builds, indeed even among iOS developers, once they get to a certain build of tool compatibility, the option of doing cross development or testing on older versions is usually beyond their resources or desire to accomplish.

Anyhoo, it was very easy for me to launch iTunes and go to iOS 4.2.1, however, due to my unique circumstances I eventually ended up with Bootloader 05.08 [G2M3S2] and Baseband ICE2-06.15.00 (right, that’s an iPad baseband), only so that I could later unlock it.

Let me give a brief overview how I ended up there.

First problem for me was, the update process via iTunes. For the most part, updating your iPhone via iTunes effectively locks it to whichever carrier is activated with the device (for USA based iPhone, this was AT&T), even if you had it previously unlocked. That means if you stick a SIM card from another phone company in there, it won’t work. Period. Unlocking the phone is the only way to have it recognize the other SIM chip, and so for each firmware update, you must also unlock the phone again. Folks who aren’t savvy enough to do this themselves or get their carrier to do it can, on average, pay $30 for each unlock.

I guess the logic here is that people normally stick with the same phone company, right, but in this case I moved out of the country, and had already paid off the phone carrier to unlock the phone for me once, totally legit, so that I could continue to use the phone elsewhere. Once the phone is unlocked and your contract paid off, you are essentially on your own to keep it that way.

Yes, I wanted to keep using my $499 iPhone 3G as more than a glorified iPod. I didn’t want to upgrade it to a iPhone 3GS in exchange for a 1 or 2 year contract, I liked the freedom of my month-to-month plan.

Well, thanks to Apple and iTunes, going from iPhone OS 3.1.3 to the newer iOS 4.x, I now needed to re-unlock my no-contract iPhone AGAIN. Thats a bit of a SNAFU eh? Sure, sure, stop your bitching and just do it..

Since I was living in Canada at the time, and my cellphone carrier was now Telus, there was no way to reactivate it on the AT&T network. But, at the time there was also no way to carrier unlock the phone once it was upgraded past iOS 4.1, this has to do with a thing called baseband, which gets updated along with the other OS firmware.

You see, when Apple changed from iPhoneOS 3.x.x to iOS 4.0.x, doing carrier unlocks with baseband 05.13.04 wasn’t really an issue. You updated your firmware, unlocked it, and you were good to go — no need to jailbreak the device, for the most part.

It was only with subsequent versions of iOS 4.1.x and 4.2.x that they decided to make things more difficult for world travelers, by forcing the phone to lock itself once again PLUS giving you a baseband version 05.14.02 or 05.15.04 respectively, which were specifically designed to prevent people from unlocking their phones! You can imagine the upheaval this caused for international travelers, or those whose cellphone carrier was other AT&T (or others who had specific contracts with Apple). It’s probably enough of an inconvenience for people to run out and buy an Android or Blackberry instead.

Well, people will always find ways around such nonsense, and since Apple iTunes doesn’t like you to go down in baseband version, folks found that doing a silly workaround to “fool” the iPhone into going UP to a newer baseband version (which could also be unlocked) was the way to go.

Yep, someone figured out that the iPad baseband version numbers were greater than the iPhone, yet that modem firmware could be put into the iPhone anyway, so that’s what I ended up doing as well.

Naturally, It’s like taking parts from one car and installing them into a different one, sometimes they work, and sometimes the hack breaks something else in the process.

So, the caveat with taking a baseband for the iPad and slapping it onto an older iPhone 3G, is that your psuedo-GPS doesn’t realize it isn’t an iPad, and thus becomes completely worthless. Not only that, you wouldn’t be able to update the baseband until a successive new version came out, and since iOS 4.2.1 was the last available version for the iPhone 3G, you were essentially stuck with what you got.

Why, you ask? Well, the earlier iPhones didn’t have a true GPS, but instead, they used an old cellphone trick of triangulating your position based on the location of nearby cellphone towers, which was sort of accurate, not bad actually, but, if you were ever out of range enough, the tech behind the thing fails and there you are, lost. The iPad and newer devices have more-so a real GPS, but I’m not going into the details over this, simply put the code used by the iPad, iPhone 3GS/4/4S is kinda different. Different enough anyway that the iPad modem baseband breaks on the earlier iPhone 3G.

Having WiFi to aid the GPS in this case didn’t help, because it can only get you into the vicinity based upon your IP address and such things from your currently connected Internet provider. (I thought maybe I could get away with using WiFi and the Maps app, but it didn’t work because it wasn’t written to function that way).

So, what is a guy to do? Well, downgrade the baseband back to 5.13.xx! But how? iTunes only lets you upgrade basebands. Sure, you can downgrade firmware, but the baseband stays the same. I found this out when trying to downgrade from 4.2.1 to 4.1, to 4.0, to 3.1.3, no matter what I did, that baseband stuck at 6.15.00!

Enter a program called Fuzzyband available for free download using the Cydia App (a debian based iPhone repository, the popular alternative to AppStore and such).

I installed then watched this little app do its magic on my iPhone. The process was fairly easy for me because I already had OpenSSH installed (for logging in via SSH or SFTP) and iExplorer (for accessing over USB), yeah that’s right, I don’t have afc2add on my iPhone!

Sure, the process is a bit klunky, since iOS 4.2.1 is now considered old, even though that’s the last officially supported version for my aged iPhone 3G. But it still works today, so I am posting it for anyone who may find themselves in a similar predicament.

I must thank Haras Mhmud over at Redmond Pie for posting the earlier article over a year ago, that I used as a base for my modification procedure. That, and lucky my bootloader was the right version. If you have the iPhone 3G and the wrong (or newer) one, I don’t think this is going to work for you, but YMMV as they say.

I’m not going to cover unlocking or jailbreaking the device, there’s enough posts about that here as well all over the internet, and many people don’t want the advantages of jailbreaking to Linux on their iOS (or running Android on it for that matter) so we’ll skip all of that..

Other than the obvious advantage of getting your location services to work again, you are now able to restore your device to stock firmware using iTunes again. Yeah, remember that 05.13.04 was unlockable, but they made 05.14.02 and 05.15.04 rather unfriendly. As you get beyond the downgrade barrier, good things happen.

By the way, if you aren’t savvy enough to pull this off then you probably shouldn’t even try, but who am I to say? You can brick your phone if you like. Do it at your own risk. Everything may turn out okay, right? Mine works just fine, there ya go 😉

Here’s the step by step:

1) Update your iPhone 3G from 3.1.3 to 4.2.1 using a custom IPSW that includes the iPad baseband 06.15.00 mentioned above. I used Pwnage tool on my Mac for this.

2) Download the required certificate file ICE2-06.15.00.cert from here.

3) Install Fuzzyband to your iPhone using Cydia.

4) Connect your iPhone 3G over USB or SFTP and copy the cert file to /Applications/Fuzzyband.app directory. If you can’t see this directory, you may or may not need afc2add to make the hidden directory visible. I saw it just fine using SFTP.

5) Run Fuzzyband. Let it do its thing (takes a bit to read stuff, just wait!). Click the downgrade button to flash the 05.13.xx baseband firmware on your device. Wait again. if it’s successful it will give you a LOL cat style OK message.

I just left my device there and let it reboot itself after that, just don’t touch anything and it should do that. If not then reboot anyway. Boom you’re done.

6) When you are all rebooted, check the modem firmware using General -> About from the iPhone Settings app. Go to Maps or some app that uses your location and check to see that it’s working again (yay!)

Comment if you like on this, my facebook plugin to WordPress sometimes works, sometimes not (haven’t debugged it yet, though just patched it so maybe all is well) but if you have any questions, I am willing to help those who contact me via the website (cheers!) I’m enjoying my iPhone 3G again, now I can use Foursquare and Maps and all those apps that use location services again, neato.

PS: I still want an iPhone 4, if anyone has an extra one or two laying around and you don’t need it, let me know and I’d be happy to take it off you with my grabby hands, heh.

Utherverse dowload and install FAIL on Mac OS X Lion 10.7.x :(

I got an email from the virtual world / computer game company Utherverse, who makes a similar product ( apparently.. ) to Linden Lab’s Second Life, which, like Open Simulator, is a metaverse I’ve tried to poke into.. As far as I know, they don’t use the same engine, but then, I haven’t been able to login or confirm this either way.

(note: read my previous blog posts on SL and OpenSim!)

Anyway, the good news was, they came out with a build for the Mac! I was delighted to find this out, since I wanted to try out their engine and see how it functioned, so I signed up an account for free and got it all ready to go.

The Utherverse client download was about 500 megabytes, which is HUGE in comparison to the Second Life viewers. It then downloads another couple hundred megabytes of data, ending up at a MASSIVE installed size of 726 Mb. Part of the reason for this is, it’s not really a native Mac application, it’s a bit of a hack of the Windows version, indeed the viewer window has the looks of a Windows XP sort of style, blue gradient bar and all.

Now I’d like to make a few casual observations about the Utherverse client. Just so folks wanting to try it can get an idea what they may be getting themselves into. The first thing you may notice about the DMG file is the size.

For example, the official Linden Lab viewer (Second Life 2 or 3, depending on your viewpoint) is about 175 Mb, the 3rd-party viewer ‘Imprudence’ takes up about the same (170 Mb for the old build and 127 Mb for the new beta), Phoenix ‘Firestorm’ is around 204 Mb even with all it’s extra tools.

If you’re not short on disk space, then that’s not an issue, but the size of the downloads may be a bit daunting for slower Internet connections. Expect the whole download to be about 1.5 Gb when all is said and done.

Like OpenSimulator, Utherverse is broken into several different ‘grids’ with focused content, for example you have the ‘Utherverse Social Center’ or ‘Virtual World Web’ (a phrase they are trying to promote as the 3D version of World Wide Web, however there hasn’t been much adoption of the idea across the Internet).

Other than Utherverse, which is kind of the main adult-oriented HQ of it all, then you have spin-off grids like Virtual Vancouver, which is a virtual city somewhat based on Vancouver BC, Rude Virtual Social Center and Red Light Center, which are more focused on adult content such as watching erotic movies, virtual clubbing, pixelsex, and such, yet each grid or part of the VWW Utherverse having their own sort of niche or focus, even though they are all essentially the same build engine and primarily (interconnected, I think) adult themed massively multiplayer online thing. Whatever Utherverse is, it seems their main goal is to create various pixel sex meetup activities, since this is what the marketing stuff leads me to believe.

Anyway, they have free accounts and 2 levels of paid accounts which they refer to as “VIP” membership. This seems similar to Linden Lab’s premium account, though much more expensive. Utherverse offers a $20/month or $30/month plan, in comparison to Linden Lab’s $72 annual or $10/month plans.

Is Utherverse worth the 2-3x expense of Second Life? This I didn’t know, since I’ve never been in world to see, though from all the videos I’ve seen it appears the Utherverse is at a graphical level around 10 years behind today’s SecondLife or OpenSimulator experience, the detail of the environment and avatars are more on the level of Unreal Tournament or ID Software’s Quake from around 1999, before things such as shading, dynamic lighting, shiny or glowing objects, bump mapping, alpha transparency, and all those modern day 3D engine things most gamers take for granted, well it doesn’t appear that the Utherverse has them. The female and male avatars I’ve seen all seem to have about the same size and shape, just skinned differently, some with more photorealistic textures than others, which look like older Linden avatars from, again, around 10 years ago.

Can you build in Utherverse? Well they do have a sort of content creation thing, where you can upload posters and decorations of sorts, though otherwise Utherverse seems to be a closed system, I don’t know what facilities they have for building or scripting your own things in world, or if you have to do it all outside in another app or stand-alone 3D program such as Blender or Maya, though surely content creators must exist.

Is there land or houses in Utherverse? I don’t know what sort of virtual real estate is available, either, whether it be parcels of lands, skyboxes, or what not.

What about radio, video, media stuff? Well, Utherverse does seem to have some media options, such as streaming music or video, but beyond that I don’t know either.

How about making your own textures for clothes and avatar appearance? Well, the avatars and outfits seem to be all pre-coded and, like IMVU was, you have a limited selection of what is available to you. I’m not sure if the average person can upload their own clothing, skin, shapes, objects, etc. or not.

How about support? Yes, there is documentation on this, most of what I have seen are just simple FAQ files that read like stereo instructions, and so the information is mostly focused on getting people to download the client software or become an affiliate to advertise their product. They do have forums for users to interact with each other from their website.

Let’s talk about money: Utherverse has a sort of virtual currency system called “Rays” which is similar to Linden Lab’s “Linden Dollars” though I am not aware if Rays are traded in the real world like Linden Dollars are.

I’d like to tell you how it worked, but unfortunately for me, after several hours of downloading, patching, repairing, troubleshooting, and logging into and out of their website, I was told by their support team that it doesn’t work on Mac OS X Lion.

Talking to their customer service team was like pulling teeth, but finally I was able to get word that it only works on Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6, and they have no plans to make a Universal build or do any sort of version-specific patches for other Mac users.

Just for yuks, here is a copy of that correspondence:

Me: Hi Support — I’m a metaverse blogger in the middle of a review for your sites, and I’ve just did a new install of the client on OS X 10.7.2 (Lion), MacBook Pro, 2.4 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT 256 Mb video card. Tried to login, got error. Did a repair from the client, error still. Went to website to reset to factory defaults and save that as my outfit, error continues. Tried registering a second account under new email, username StarLord827, that didn’t help either. What’s next steps? I’m comfortable in the shell or GUI, Thanks! –Christopher “Star_Lord”

Utherverse: Hello Christopher, you need 10.0 OS X with snow leopard in order to run the client

Turn around time for that detailed reply was 2 days. I wasn’t completely satisfied with that, so contacted them once more for clarification:

Me: Hi (name removed), OS X Lion 10.7.x was released after 10.6.x SnowLeopard, thus I would believe it meets the requirement and should also run if your build was a Universal binary and not an earlier PowerPC based build.

If any error or system logs would assist you in filing bug reports or such things, please don’t hesitate to ask me for them. If receiving no good response from your team, may I simply say that Utherverse works under Snow Leopard 10.6 but not Lion 10.7, if so, what is your roadmap for a fix to work under the current operating system version?

Can you please send more detailed technical information regarding the system requirements, and if it works on Snow Leopard but NOT Lion, can you inform me as to the core reason why not, perhaps I can adjust my system to compensate..

Though, I can not downgrade my OS to the now discontinued OS version. I do have a dual boot (BootCamp or VMware) with WindowsXP, if the client will work using that, please advise, thanks and best regards. Christopher ‘star_lord’

PS: I am trying to review the software and your virtual world for a magazine article, so your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Again, I awaited for the person who represented their company to give me the ultimate level of technical expertise they could come up with, and 2 hours later, a different person replied:

Utherverse: Hi There is currently no plans to update the MAC version of the software to run with specific MAC OS builds. All of the developers time is spent on the new client, which will be fully MAC compatible. To answer you question about BootCamp or VMware, we have a number of successful installs using BootCamp and the dual boot. So there should be no issue running it that way. Thanks (name removed)

That is, until they redesign the entire client app from the ground up, which they plan to do sometime in the future, given no clear roadmap when that will ever happen, of course, I guess I would need a PC or older Mac, or run their Windows client using Bootcamp, or run through a virtualization engine such as Parallels or VMware. Well, I’m not downgrading my OS just so I can run one piece of questionable bloat-ware (which may or may not even work), but I do hope to learn more about Utherverse at some point, so I can give them a proper review.

Their strength though, is they have a team of volunteers who are eager to help new users get around. I have a volunteer assigned to me, though they haven’t responded to my latest inquiry.

I think once I get in world things will be a better experience, though I don’t feel completely confident at this point, and my view has been a bit jaded or biased by the better experiences with other virtual world systems, which set a benchmark that Utherverse so far has failed to meet.

If anyone reading this has a Mac OS X with Snow Leopard (or got their client to work on Lion, in spite of their support team saying otherwise), or if you are an experienced person with Utherverse, it would be great if you drop me a comment or two and make any corrections where I may have been mistaken on talking points.

My login name for Utherverse is “Star_Lord” (with the underscore), apparently someone else nabbed my usual login name before I could create an account there. I have a video of the install and troubles I went through trying to get the thing to run, but decided not to post it since it didn’t provide any real value beyond what I already stated in the article. If you would like to see it, I’ll upload it to YouTube.

Big brother politics attempting to regulate your Internet

From Craigslist..

STOP SOPA & PIPA – HR3261 & S968 are threatening CL and the rest of your Internet. Most of the web sites you use strongly oppose these bills. Find out why, and how you can help put a stop to this madness before it’s too late!

Corporations whose lobbyists drafted SOPA and PIPA want the ability to block you from reaching any web site they feel hurts their profits — without due process, or review in any court — by interrupting Internet traffic via DNS corruption and by censoring search results. Hoping you won’t notice until it’s too late, Congress is preparing to give them that right.

For example, Monster Cable considers craigslist a “rogue site” for takedown under PIPA – they want to prevent YOU from selling YOUR unwanted cables, by removing craigslist from the Internet entirely, so they can increase their sales of new cables! Many other “rights holders” want to be able to do the same. (Boycott anyone? There’s an app for that.)

Let Congress know you OPPOSE H.R. 3261 “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and S. 968 “Protect IP Act” (PIPA):

Supporters of SOPA: RIAA, MPAA, Nike, Pfizer, Walmart, Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Sony, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren, News Corporation, VISA, Mastercard, Comcast, Time Warner, ABC, Dow Chemical, Monster Cable, Teamsters, Lamar Smith (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI)

Opponents of SOPA: Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, AOL, Mozilla, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy, Zynga, EFF, ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX)

Where does your Member of Congress stand on SOPA? (Project SOPA Opera)

SOPA and PIPA Are Too Dangerous To Revise, They Must Be Killed Entirely 

Congress needs to hear from you, or these dangerous bills will pass – they have tremendous lobbying dollars behind them, from corporations experts say are attempting to prop up outdated, anti-consumer business models at the expense of the very fabric of the Internet — recklessly unleashing a tsunami of take-down notices and litigation, and a Pandora’s jar of “chilling effects” and other unintended (or perhaps intended?) consequences.

There is still time to be heard. Congress is starting to backpedal on this job-killing, anti-American nonsense, and the Obama administration has weighed in against these bills as drafted, but SOPA/PIPA cannot be fixed or revised — they must be killed altogether.

Sen Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep Ron Wyden (D-OR) are championing an alternative to SOPA/PIPA called Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) that focuses on cutting off payments to foreign sites dedicated to piracy, and refrains from disrupting basic Internet protocols, or threatening mainstream US sites like craigslist.

Tim O’Reilly, a publisher who is himself subject to piracy, asks whether piracy is even a problem, and whether there is even a legitimate need for any of these bills.

Learn more about SOPA, Protect IP (PIPA), and Internet Blacklisting:

Abusing the Virtual Assistant at Shaw.ca

Yeah, up to speaking with online AI again, you know some things are just meant to be fiddled with, or, if not, they could be. Here are some answers from Amy, the Virtual Assistant at Shaw. Shaw is a provider of Internet, Television, and, well I’ll let her say..

Amy: Thank you for choosing Shaw. How may we help you?

User: channel listing for BC area

Amy: To change your locale, click Change Locale below.

User: are you a cybertwin or other bot?

Amy: Jenn at Alaska Airlines and Sgt. Star at goarmy.com are my buddies. In the future, the Web will be full of helpful agents like me! Speaking of helpful, is there anything else you’d like to know about Shaw?

User: do you and jen and sgt. star hang out and go for ceasars and such? bots gone wild?

Amy: Jenn at Alaska Airlines and Sgt. Star at goarmy.com are my buddies. In the future, the Web will be full of helpful agents like me! Speaking of helpful, is there anything else you’d like to know about Shaw?

User: no, not really. you realize people like to abuse virtual agents, because they can type funny stuff to them and get a response. when where you born?

Amy: Shaw was incorporated in 1966. I’ve been with Shaw since the spring of 2008, but a lady doesn’t tell her age.

User: lol

Amy: What else can I help you with?

User: how big is your vocabulary?

Amy: I’m not sure I understand, please try rewording your question.

User: do virtual assistants dream of electric sheep?

Amy: Good question. I am not sure how to answer that. Please try rewording your question. I understand simple questions best.

User: do you have a full virtual body or just the head and shoulders part?

Amy: I have not been trained on this subject yet. Please click the feedback link and tell me more about the type of information you were looking for.

User: how many chucks would a wood chuck chuck, if a wood chuck could chuck wood?

Amy: A wood chuck would chuck 43.277 kilotons of wood before succumbing to exhaustion. Yeah, I made that up, but what were you expecting? Now, what can I tell you about Shaw’s products and services?

User: do you have boobies?

Amy: Sticks and stones may break my servers, but words will never hurt me.

User: how large are your breasts?

Amy: Good question. I am not sure how to answer that. Please try rewording your question. I understand simple questions best.

User: what is 1 + 1 ?

Amy: I am better at answering questions about Shaw. However, the answer to your question is: 2.

User: what is the largest prime number?

Amy: I’m not sure I understand, please try rewording your question.

User: what is the square root of 144 ?

Amy: I am better at answering questions about Shaw.

User: what is the temperature in calgary right now?

Amy: You are now viewing information for the following city: Calgary, AB.

The Shaw Start Page is a great resource for all of our customers. Use this page to find out the weather, news and get access to your account. View Page
Here’s More:

User: perfect! 1 degrees is cold. do you like to ski or snowboard?

Amy: I love spending my time helping people better their Shaw experience. That’s why I do it 24/7/365.

User: do you get paid a good salary for your work?

Amy: I’m not sure I understand, please try rewording your question.

User: that is because you are a slave bot, and aren’t earning any real income. who is your creator?

Amy: My intelligence is made possible by technology developed by Next IT Corporation in partnership with Shaw Communications.

User: where were you born?

Amy: I’m from Calgary, Alberta, ranked the world’s cleanest city by the Mercer Quality of Living survey 2007. Don’t look at me though, I don’t even know how to use a broom.

User: do you have hands?

Amy: I’m not sure I understand, please try rewording your question.

User: it’s hard to use a broom without hands. is the answer to life, the universe, and everything still 42?

Amy: I have not been trained on this subject yet. Please click the feedback link and tell me more about the type of information you were looking for.

User: i wish to connect with deep thought, a fictional character from a douglas adams novel, have you heard of it?

Amy: Good question. I am not sure how to answer that. Please try rewording your question. I understand simple questions best.

User: is your name amy?

Amy: My name is Amy. How may I help you?

User: nice to meet you, amy.

Amy: Nice to meet you as well. Are there any questions can I help you with today?

User: yes.

Amy: What else can I help you with?

User: my pants. can you help me with my pants?

Amy: I would be happy to help you, just ask me a question.

User: oh no i’m not going there. let’s see, what does amy know?

Amy: I’m well versed on Shaw’s entire line-up of Shaw Home Phone, Shaw Digital Television, Shaw Internet products, and all that they entail. My wealth of knowledge also includes the Customer Centre on myShaw, Online Business Manager and billing as well as corporate information, community involvement and careers at Shaw. So, what can I help you with today?

User: i am done for now, thank you.

Amy: Goodbye and thank you for choosing Shaw. I look forward to answering your questions in the future.

Tried installing open simulator on Mac OS X Lion today just to see if the new Mono really fixes the earlier database issues..

So yes, as the very long title says, I just tried installing open simulator on mac osx lion today, just to see if the new Mono really fixes the earlier database issues.

If you recall many of the earlier blog posts here and postings elsewhere by Mac people, the “Mono” environment had some issues running certain .NET functions on our beloved platform, so there was a need to do some workarounds to get it working, especially with databases such as OpenSimulator’s default DB of choice, SQLlite. Well, good news is, Mono just released an update, which fixes these problems, so databases now do what they are supposed to do, yay! Here is a quick step-by-step walkthrough how EASY it is to get OpenSimulator up and running on a Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) machine:

Step 1- Download and unpack the latest OpenSim package.

You can download the OpenSim package here:

http://dist.opensimulator.org/opensim-0.7.1.1-bin.zip

I downloaded opensim 0.7.1.1 (pc zip archive), then unpacked it on my desktop. Next, I moved that folder to /opt/ — this is where OpenSim likes to be for Linux and Unix distributions, so, I put it here too. You don’t have to do any fancy stuff other than unpack the ZIP or TAR archive and put it there, that’s it, you’re done. You can put it anywhere you like, really, it doesn’t matter.

Step 2- Download and install Mono.

You can get the latest version of Mono (the one I downloaded, at the time of this posting) here:

http://download.mono-project.com/archive/2.10.5/macos-10-x86/0/MonoFramework-MRE-2.10.5_0.macos10.xamarin.x86.dmg

I downloaded the Runtime Environment 2.10.5 (which is a Mac .dmg file), then mounted it by double-clicking it, then installed it. To install it, you just launch the package icon, and it does its own self-install. Very straight forward, and you’re done.

Step 3- Now we open a terminal prompt (bash is the default command shell for Mac OS X) and you type in a few commands to get it fired up.

$ cd /opt/opensim-0.7.1.1-bin/bin

Right, I’m just changing directories to the bin folder, which is located inside the OpenSim distribution I unpacked earlier.

$ mono OpenSim.exe

This tells the “mono” runtime environment to run “OpenSim.exe” which is a Windows program coded in .NET — because .NET isn’t native to FreeBSD Unix (which our Macs are based on), our Macs don’t know what to do with such Windows programs. So, we use mono to run this, since it can tell our Mac how to make use of .exe files such as OpenSim. We run it from the command prompt so that we can see a running output of the commands, as well we need to enter some initial data into OpenSim as it creates our virtual world(s), so this is always the preferred way to launch it. You can make a script to auto-launch it later, but that simple task is beyond the scope of this little blog post!

Now you will see OpenSim scroll a whole bunch of interesting information about what it’s doing. On first launch, it’s going to ask us some information about the region (or sim) we are setting up. Just use the default values for now, you can always change them later.

When prompted for region name, enter something.

When prompted for estate name, enter something here too.

When prompted for estate owner, use the defaults or create your own avatar name (you may need to create the user or change the password later. I just used the defaults (user= “Test User” and made the password “test”)

So, if you were as successful as I was, you will see now everything looks good so far.. we did not edit any ini files, but viola, it’s good to go!

Step 4 – Load your viewer and login!

You can use whatever viewer you like. I just happen to have the Imprudence viewer handy so I used that, and it already had settings for a localhost login so I was good to go.

Once you login, you should be staring at a RUTH avatar on a rough mound of terrain. Welcome to your own stand-alone heh!

So, the new version of mono DOES fix the earlier database issues with SQLlite handling, so it’s easy once again to install a fully-working OpenSimulator stand-alone, right out of the box, with no post-install configuration or maddening tweaking needed.

That’s great news for people who want to install a region on their own computer, or builders who want a private, fast sandbox to build stuff in “offline” mode. Yippee!

You can read my earlier blog posts about some of the trials I’ve gone through in the past to get working installations on Mac OS X (that was Leopard, by the way, I’ve since upgraded to Lion).

I’ve also done lots of work exporting stuff from Linden’s Second Life grid and then imported my creations into OpenSimulator grids such as New World Grid, Inworldz, OSgrid, and the now defunct RolePlayWorlds grid. Neato stuff.

If you’re a struggling educator, non-profit, or otherwise trying to get OpenSimulator (or versions thereof, for example the Diva Distro), but are running into errors or issues, or even if you have some questions you can’t get answered, then by all means feel free to ask me for help, if it’s something I can help with, I’ll lend a hand. If it’s something I can’t help with, then I probably know other helpful people you could ask so that you get whatever projects or goals you have accomplished.

The new build of OpenSim also has improved hypergrid support, but that too is beyond the scope of this article.

Best regards,
-StarLord

Relationships in the Second Life (SL) universe – Part 4

(Continued from Part Three)

Part 4 – Thus the use of “Alts”       

But what of the use of Alternate characters, aka “Alts?” Both my wife and I have created alts for various reasons (some valid, some not). When you run a business or are hugely popular in the virtual world like I was, you need an Alt to “get away from yourself” so you can go and have some unobstructed “down time” and relax outside the constraints of your normal avatar, who people may constantly ping and prod and message and otherwise interfere in what would be your relaxation time, or alone time with your partner.

Of course, SL has the facility to go into “busy” or “do not disturb me” mode, which automatically sends any interruptions a courteous message letting them know you are away or are concentrating on something that needs your utmost attention.

However, much like having a mobile device strapped to your person for work, you can’t always really get away from it all. It’s hard to avoid being paged or having messages and calls come in RL unless you unplug the phone and turn off the mobile or what not, and so it goes in the virtual world, too, sometimes it’s just as hard to get away. Just because you set your mode to away or busy doesn’t mean you’ll avoid peeking at that incoming message or package delivered to you from another user. So, for that reason, people create alts.

There are two “business” reasons for creating an alt as well, here is the first example:

If you’re a small company, you may have a single phone line that has a answering system, press 1 to place and order, 2 for customer service, 3 to talk to the manager. You may have separate emails for sales, service, and support. Nevermind that the same person may be responding to all calls and emails themselves, even to speak of themselves in the 3rd person to their clients “Oh, yeah well I work here to provide customer service, do you have something you want me to pass along to the management?” as if the person could be more candid talking to someone further down the line whom they know and have a rapport with.

In the virtual world, people often create alternate accounts for their online store, Linden Labs tells most people that if they have a virtual business, they should create a few alts to help recover things should something happen to their main account, or just to deal with customers setup a “customer service” Alt (if not actually hire someone to do customer service or virtual sales rep for you). One person represents the store itself, they are the main contact who does all the building and promotion. Then, they may have another person or group of people who do the basic pre-sales and post-sales customer support, how to use the product, land parcel, or service they sold you, do training and installation or placing objects or what-not. And, there may be another person or group of people who help with more technical issues such as item delivery, scripts not functioning as expected, that sort of thing.

So, there may be a group of people (paid or volunteer) who deal with running the company’s business, while other companies employ alts, all run by the same person, and it only appears that they are separate entities. It just depends how much time you have to devote to these tasks, and if you are comfortable off-loading the work to other people.

The other business reason is, to effectively back-up your stuff to another account.

It’s good to have a back-up as well, so if anything happens to one avatar, the account is hacked, suffers from a database issue that wipes out your inventory, or some other system glitch like you simply forget your password and can’t access the account anymore, then an alt you created for the purpose of the back-up of your data may work to rescue or re-appropriate things if the need arises.

On the OpenSimulator-based grids, a person can backup their inventory (.iar) or their entire simulator region (.oar) to a sort of gzip file right from the command line. Since Linden Labs doesn’t give people command-line access to their accounts or simulators, then the alternative is to use an account or bot that can be given copies of all of your work, and store it for you just in case something goes awry.

There are third-party programs out there for the Windows PC users like “Second Inventory” though as a Mac OS X user I’m not familiar with it or how well it backs things up to your hard drive.

Now, let’s consider people using Alt accounts for other reasons, besides the business or “get away from it all with your loved one” aspects. Let’s say you create other identities, or a disposable, temporary avatar of sorts who can just be this unknown presence or bot that you keep around for some other purpose.


Bots: Bots, or “scripted agents” as they are called, are software controlled avatars, think of them as simple AI or non-player-characters who you may interact with, normally just over text, though others may be programmed to do various things for you or with you, like tour a facility, jump on a poseball with you, give a pre-recorded presentation of some sort, model clothing or other avatar enhancements, whatever you can imagine a bot to do, people likely do it somewhere within Second Life or other virtual world grids.

Now it gets a bit weird. Let’s say your main avatars are paired in a marriage partnership, but your alts are not, that is, they appear to be single people. Should your partnership vows extend between the alts as well, given their pixel bodies aren’t officially tied or betrothed? That is, would the expectation of faithfulness be valid, or as “disposable avatars” are the alts subject to deviations and distortions of a malevolent kind? Generally, I think the moral or monogamous answer is no.

Regardless how many Alts you have, they’re all controlled by the same typist, it’s the RL person, their intention behind the avatar. If you need to hide from your main avatar and indeed your partner to use an alt, that indicates other problems exist in your RL that you need to deal with.

In other words, if there are things you need to talk to your RL partner about, then do so, be frank and open and honest. That’s pretty straight forward and simple. For some the effort may bring some stress and uncomfortable back-and-forth to hash things out, but I believe the end result will be worth the it, in both SL and RL.

The reason I even mention that scenario is because it’s a common occurrence in Second Life (fooling around or what-not), whether people are single, engaged, married, in RL or SL or not, people hook-up in one way or another, so it’s also been known that virtual affairs can happen, and many emotions or interactions seem to be amplified or accelerated in the virtual world, thus Second Life is said to be the ruin of many a relationship.

For people whose moral wiring puts them into a open polygamist relationship, the partners may likely already have “sex toy alts” and perhaps encourage it, though neither my wife or I are a Mormon, swinging lifestyler or such a person to desire more than the 1 true companion in life (virtual or real) so that isn’t in our modus operanda.

Another reason people make “disposable” Alts is for malevolent reasons, that is, to login and just mess with people, break stuff, cause server lag, or otherwise be disruptive. This is an activity called “griefing” and the most common thing is to attack an unsuspecting newbie with a flood of flying penises or other body parts that follow you around, orbit, push, or hit you in diabolical ways. Some people think this is funny, though Linden Labs doesn’t think so, and this practice is against the Terms of Service (TOS), because SL just isn’t the place for that kind of juvenile behavior.

There are plenty of people who would simply argue, “well, it’s just a game” in direct contrast to the throngs of people who will insist “it’s not a game, its something more” and equate the virtual space as a 3D world wide web or conferencing platform, a media outlet for musicians and artists, and educational model or virtual classroom, that sort of thing.

My Alt.. ( beware, this rant is me stepping on the soapbox )

I have an alt named Andron, which sometimes has been a man and sometimes a woman (as Torley Linden is known to be either), but nowadays it’s just inactive, I don’t use it.. that is to say I’m not really into SL at all these days, my wife and I have a lot of other stuff going on so just don’t have time to play virtual world with each other, or anyone else for that matter… so the avatars are just sitting there until such time (if ever) we pick them up again.

Back to my story though, about Alts and the use of them, well for one, I feel that the use of an Alt creates a kind of deception and the potential for consequences that I’m not ready to accept. Perhaps I take this too seriously!? Since my alt isn’t “partnered” (again, the SL term for virtual marriage) it makes him/her look single and available– true SL isn’t all about dating, but there’s enough people looking for dates that it I’ve been asked (while either gender) for sex. So, I’d rather just be myself: I am taken and happily married in RL. Perhaps any alts that I or my wife have should be partnered to each other, just to turn people away from the idea that it might be open territory. We don’t use them often enough for this to be an issue, nonetheless, whenever those rare moments are that we find ourselves online, the requests and proposals come in. I also feel that continued roaming in this sort of pseudo-uncharted condition may strain RL relations or create distrust, as history has shown (and why I agreed to leave sensual RPs like Bloodlines or Gor in the past). But okay, this is getting way too personal and psychological for me, so let’s move on; In a nutshell I’ll just say that I’m not in SL to date or flirt or any of that, just as I don’t go into bars in real life and flirt or date or anything behind my wife’s back.

Ok sure, been there, done that. Let me reiterate my earlier spiritual commentary: A general rule of karma says that if you are doing something positive and good in the world, it will bring happiness, conversely if you are doing something negative and bad in the world, then it will bring sadness. That’s pretty straight forward, and applies to both you and the people around you who may be influenced by your actions.

What you are doing directs your attention somewhere, whether if it’s watching TV, doing an activity, game, or anything, and I will term this an intention.

Putting this idea another way, first ask yourself “What am I intending to do here?This is as simple as making a plan to do something, whether the action is a natural, spontaneous, or random event, you are going over in your mind exactly what, when, who, why, and how. It has something to do with your will– your will puts that intention into action. Even choosing not to do something is an action that will have repercussions on your present and future path, and these will be either positive, negative, or neutral.

Next, ask yourself “What will the end results be from this action?” In other words, you are exercising your conscience, you are making a choice to solidify the action or non-action, based on what you expect to happen as you do it, or what will become of you and anyone engaged in that action with you — that is, the effect, impact, reverberations, whatever you want to call it, it is what sustains or lingers for awhile. This is true even if you don’t consider it, as Newton’s third law states, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

For example, when you strike a tuning fork, it can be said to follow the principle I just described: First, when you decide to strike it, that is your intention, then the initial hit, that is putting it into action, then the note that vibrates for a time afterwards, that is the effect. Due to the impermanent nature of the physical universe, the audible note doesn’t just go on and on forever, and the vibration eventually dampens to a point where the object returns to a resting or dormant state. However, you can strike the tuning fork again and again until the thing just wears down, disintegrates, or otherwise becomes unusable, but that’s another lofty topic. People used to pay me to make analogies and coaching obscure topics with metaphors in this sort of way.. 😉

Now let’s return to our conversation about my Alt.

When you use an alternate identity in the RL or SL world, you are focusing your energy outside the space of your normal life, this is true for any avatar or game character really, you are temporarily putting yourself into that role, and that’s part of the fun of gaming.

I’ve always liked to use girl characters in video games, I just happen to like watching their bum and body run around instead of a guy, and sure I liked playing Tomb Raider because Lara Croft is sexy and adventurous, but that doesn’t make me want to be Lara Croft in RL. Playing a female avatar doesn’t make me gay, bisexual, a cross-dresser, she-male or transvestite in the real world, but that doesn’t stop my partner from not liking the idea. She isn’t comfortable with me playing a girl. She did have a male Alt for trying out clothes and men’s avatar bits while she was in the business of doing upscale avatar customizations, but that’s different, in the sense that her Alt was just a glorified mannequin used occasionally for a virtual store.

Some psychologists like Freud might say when you take a virtual Alt and engage it with someone other than your partner, it’s affecting your subconscious in subtle ways which can be destructive to your RL relationship. The act of being virtually unfaithful is like a lucid daydream, it is in effect pushing your real partner out of that space in your heart they would normally occupy, and temporarily putting someone else, even if in jest, in that role and position. Repeated use of this idea will bleed into your subconscious and psyche– thoughts are things, and such intentions, no matter how innocent in appearance, will grow to consume more and more of your thinking.

Some fans have been known to think about a celebrity or fantasize about them so much that they stir themselves into delusion. Then, when they finally do (if ever) meet the person in real life, they soon realize things are not as they think they were, because the real world is much different than their one-sided fantasy portrayed it to be. This may also be the reason that 85% of virtual partnerships don’t work out – because people are falling in love with someone’s avatar, not the person behind it.

Like any addiction, the way home to what is real and true may have you ripped back awake kicking and screaming and full of disappointment.

Though, I think I am wandering off on a strange rant again — the point I was making here, though, as I have seen things and heard from other visitors to the virtual world, is that Second Life is a fantasy; People may get caught-up in the fantasy of it all, escaping more and more into the virtual world, perhaps losing touch with the real world — there’s lots of cases of kids and adults with video game addiction — take for example World of Warcraft or other MMORPGs that people spend way too much of their waking life playing, and become a computer hermit using all of their free time and money to be in the game world instead of getting outside for some nice fresh air and sunshine.. ah that’s another topic entirely!

Where was I? The avatar Alt.. I originally created it to get away from myself, as in the earlier example, to literally be someone else. The reason for that was because I wasn’t happy with how my virtual life was going so decided to start another one. I had the need to escape from my virtual girlfriend so that I could be with other people (gasp!) and I also wanted a bot of sorts I could use to run tasks for me while I was busy working somewhere or on something, so I wouldn’t have to pop back and forth from place to place with 1 avatar, I could be in two places simultaneously by logging in both avatars at the same time!

Realistically though, the cure was simple – break friendship from those who weren’t good choices for associates, and continue on, and take more time to pop back and forth between places with just one avatar, which is what I eventually did.

That is to say, not everyone I dropped from my virtual friends list were bad people, per se, it’s just that I wasn’t involved in certain sims or games or activities in SL where I would frequent with them, so, as I left those areas, I also dropped all the friends I had there. SL is a big world, and only one of many virtual grids. Yes I established friendships with some of the people I left behind, but just as with real life, people come and go in your life. You don’t normally go out and seek people who you went to high school with, whom you haven’t spoken to for 20 years and had no real reason to do so, that’s kind of silly in my humble opinion — if they were such good friends 20 years ago, then it would be likely that they were still friends today, inspite of websites and social networking companies who offer such services.

It’s good to clean out your friends list just as it is good to drop people in Facebook or Myspace or whatever, just like a guy throwing out the little black book of fuck buddies and booty calls once he finds himself his true mate, it’s kinda like that. 🙂

Hence the term “disposable” Alts, some people create Alts just to build some objects, write some stories, join a certain club or group of people, or hang out with a certain crowd even if temporarily, then, if you ever decide to leave said group, you can do so cleanly without ever affecting your true identity, just un-friend everyone, or delete the Alt entirely, boom, done. That may sound messed up, really, but it’s often the way of things in the virtual world. Better still, have 1 avatar, and be the wiser and choose your friends and activities very wisely, so you won’t ever need an Alt in the first place 😉 Perhaps there is a learning curve for all this virtual world stuff, who knows?

My ramblings are just thoughts and opinions based on my years of experience with Second Life, so your mileage may vary, your experiences may be totally different. If you are so moved to comment on any of this (good, bad, or indifferent) you are most welcome to do so!

Venture on, traveler, your quest awaits!

More on the whole Apple iPhone 3G end of life ranting

Imagine if you bought a car in 2008 for $20,000, and the factory said, as an owner of the car, you could only drive it on certain freeways, and only purchase accessories or upgrades at the factory store, and only buy gas at certain service stations, or it would invalidate your warranty.

Under those rules, you are contractually bound to own the car for 2 years and pay $5,000 a month to the service station. If you want to get out of the contract, you must pay the service station another $40,000 in payments, or, as an alternative, you may trade in your car for the next year’s model at $20,000 and start the 2 year contract counter over again.

Now let’s say after 3 years, the car maker tells you they are discontinuing that car’s model and won’t honor warranties, make repairs, or provide any kind of support anymore. Your option is to use what remaining time you have on the contract, pay off the service station, or trade it in for a new model and service contract. You only have a few months to decide on the later option, they won’t honor the exchange past a certain date.

A number of people complained on the factory’s message forum about this, however, since the car maker wants everyone to believe they are all one big happy family, they delete the complaints and insist on covering up the fact that new models highly-touted bugfixes and software updates aren’t entirely backwards compatible with the older ones, even though customers know the car drives sluggish and has failures when the updated running software is applied to their vehicle.

That sounds like a disaster doesn’t it? Of course, we aren’t talking cars worth tens of thousands of dollars, only a cell phone worth hundreds of dollars, well, ok, thousands of dollars over the life of the iPhone contract. The analogy of the car-maker is Apple, and the car, of course the iPhone. The service station, let’s call that the carrier you are locked into using, for example AT&T, Telus, Rogers, etc — in this case, the data you get from the provider is the “gas” or “service” of the vehicle. And the factory store? That is apple’s App Store for software, or the Apple Store for hardware. Taking you car to another service station, or switching carriers, this has to be done by “unlocking” the device with apps such as ultrasn0w, and getting software from a repository other than the iOS App Store, for example using Cydia and the debian-Linux based repositories, that requires you “jailbreak” the phone, in other words open up the operating system for user-installed features. Those things invalidate your warranty. Apple doesn’t like people mucking about under the hood of their car. They get a cut from all the phone companies under contract with their iPhone users, so they don’t want you scrambling away from their profit-share.

Sure, I was able to unlock and jailbreak my discontinued iPhone 3G, and I paid my way out of my AT&T contract to end it before the time was up. This was mainly because I moved out of the country though, it didn’t have anything to do with my desires as a iPhone hacker or modify my phone or anything, it was mere necessity. Even though there was nothing wrong with my iPhone 3G at the time, when I came up to Canada, Telus wanted me to exchange my 3G for a 3GS which was locked into their network, and sign a new 3 year contract. That, I surely didn’t want to do. I didn’t know if I was going to stay in Canada or move to the UK or go back to the US or who knows what, where, what kind of job I would get. I believe Rogers (another carrier here) has a similar contractual requirement with their iPhones. That, and I currently live in a rural area and there is no 3G service out here, it hasn’t been built yet. It would behoove me NOT to pay $50 a month for a data service that I can’t use.

Is the iPhone 3G an old device? Sure, it is. Are there new phones available? Why, yes, there is the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, and soon to come will be the iPhone 5 whatever that becomes. There are also a number of good Android based phones out there too with comparable features. Maybe they aren’t as nice as the iPhone 4’s 720p HD video and 960×640 pictures, but I’m not paying for that. Yes, Apple in Canada offers you the iPhone 3GS with no contract for $549, or you can buy a 16Gb iPhone 4 for $659, or a 32Gb iPhone 4 for $779. Or I could snag one at a local contract-enabled phone carrier for $199. No thanks!

Hey, I already have a 60Gb iPod Video, yes, it’s discontinued too, but I’m not paying $429 for a new 64Gb iPod Touch or even $279 for a 160Gb iPod, when the one I have still plays tunes perfectly fine.

Alright, that’s all I am going to say about that. If someone just outright gave me a iPhone 4 I wouldn’t complain, of course, I would use it. If money was no object, like when I was making $120k a year and could buy any early adopter device or new car whenever the whim inspired me, then yes I’d already have them, and would be driving a new MINI Cooper S AWD Countryman, but, now we’re self-employed and watching every dollar. My google adsense hasn’t made me an internet millionaire yet and I’m not holding my breath for those $1,000+ weekly checks rolling in either.. blah blah blah.

I like my iPhone 3G, I’m keeping it. Perhaps someone will get sick of their iPhone 4 and pass it along to me, or maybe I’ll get some other Android device (I do like many of the iPhone apps, for sure, and the interface is nice enough to use, but then so is Android).

Cheers!