Since John Gruber, Greg Storey, Josh Williams and others, seem to be off in their own little iPhone worlds, ignoring pleas from us non-iPhone owning slobs to get help with a request, it has fallen to our own Talos Tsui to uncover the process by which iPhone users can set wallpaper images from the web. Talos was one of the victims of the so-called “Activation delay” problem plaguing some users, so this would have come sooner had he not had to wait 6 hours for his iPhone to be usable.

As Gruber points out in his First Impressions post, the iPhone does not have a traditional clipboard. This means that “copying and pasting” an image found on the web into your photo collection on the iPhone is not possible. So if you can’t copy and paste an image to use as a wallpaper, how do you do it? It seems that for Mac users, the easiest way is to surf to the image on your desktop or laptop and save the wallpaper into a new album in iPhoto. You could create an album specifically called “Wallpapers” specifically for this purpose. Next, sync it to your iPhone as you would any other photo album. After the sync is completed, any images contained in that album will be available to use as wallpaper backgrounds!

PC Users don’t have it quite this easy, but it is still possible. Since there is no iPhoto for the PC (yet), you’ll have to surf to the image you want to use on your normal desktop, save the image and then email it to yourself. Check your email on the iPhone and from there you can set the image as your wallpaper background. According to Apple, the way to get wallpapers to sync onto your iPhone from your PC is similar:

In iTunes do the following:

1. Click the Photos tab and select “Sync photos from:”
2. From the pop-up menu, do the following:

• Choose Photoshop Album, PS Elements, or your My Pictures folder.
• Choose Folder, then any folder on your computer that has images inside.

3. Choose “All photos,” or choose “Selected folders” or “Selected albums” and choose the folders or albums you want to sync.

I’ll be adding these steps to the Iconfactory FAQ pages next week, but if there are iPhone users out there who can pry themselves away from the Notes application long enough to find a better solution, I’m all ears.

Growing up in the 70’s in New England meant many things. TV38’s Creature Double Feature weekends, crisp autumn days jumping in huge piles of leaves, building forts in snow banks 25 feet high, and lots of great TV out of Boston. When I was in elementary school, I watched the offerings of WGBH Boston and WPIX New York (PIX! PIX!) almost every day and I still remember them clearly. Naturally there were the classics we all know and love like Sesame Street and The Electric Company. But there were a few others that really stuck in my head. I’ve managed to track them down so I could share them with you and see if they awaken long forgotten memories, as they did for me. Thanks YouTube!

The Magic Garden

My favorite show growing up had to be The Magic Garden, hosted by Carole Demas and Paula Janis. The show was a fun romp for kids that lasted 12 years on WPIX and gave us memorable songs to sing (the “Hello Song“), riddles to pose and costumes to wear. Its hosts were genuine and easy going and I look back on the show with very fond memories. Watching the closing credits makes me sad even now because each time they sang goodbye, I imagined they were singing it to me. Carole and Paula have continued their friendship and working relationship and have starred in touring productions of The Magic Garden to this day. Amazing.

Inside Out

“The following is from a national, instructional television series.” went the narration that started each episode of the critically acclaimed series Inside Out. The series, produced in 1972 and ’73 was different from most in that it dealt with complex social issues like bullies or feeling left out of a group. I remember watching Inside Out many times in school, all on 16mm film! One story told the tale of two boys who played a game of “war” that somehow ended badly. Each episode ended in a cliffhanger, so the teacher could discuss how you would have handled the situation in their place. Amazing the things that stay with us.

All About You

Hosted by Louise McNamara, All About You was an instructional show aimed at 6-8 year olds that taught kids about their bodies and how they worked. The show broached such subjects as where babies came from, what happens to food once you eat it (poo!) and why you keep growing out of your clothes. The opening and closing music is burned in my brain to this day, as is the surreal, wall-less set that was used. I don’t think All About You ever came right out and explained how sex worked, but I do remember it skirted the subject several times. Somehow, Miss McNamara made learning this awkward stuff fun and natural.

Zoom!

“Roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun!” Kind of like a low-budget Mickey Mouse Club, Zoom! was a kids show filled with energy and fun games that you could learn to play at home with your friends. I remember Zoom! because it came on right before The Electric Company and I used to watch it to get out of helping my mom set the table. Check out the clip of Zoom! over at YouTube and be sure to watch the “ubbi-dubbi” speak that starts at mark 2:30. Can you speak ubbi-dubbi? I bused tobi be bubble to, bubbi I forgobbi ingubi mybi olbi agbi.

The Great Space Coaster

Of all the shows growing up, The Great Space Coaster was probably the lightest. Coaster didn’t try to teach you your ABC’s, and it wasn’t an after school special, it just wanted to make you laugh. We all remember the show’s classic tag line “No gnews is good gnews, with Gary Gnu!” and the wierd space elephant thing with the guy in the suit had to hold his trunk up with a puppet-erring rod. The Great Space Coaster paved the way for other great puppet shows like Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show, all while giving us one heck of a memorable theme song. Ah, childhood!

So how about it? Remember any of these gems of our youth? What TV shows have stayed with you through to adulthood? Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments thread, I’d love to share in your memories too, so let’s have them people!

Spock’s iPhone Wisdom

June 28, 2007

I’m a firm believer that all things in life eventually lead back to Star Trek. So with all of the hype leading up to tomorrow’s launch of the iPhone, and given some people’s frenzic state of mind regarding the gadget, I’m reminded of this wonderful Original Series quote from everyone’s favorite vulcan:

“After a time, you may find that having, is not so pleasing a thing after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.” – Spock, Amok Time

I’m sure that the iPhone will live up to the hype, and the gadget-lust is more than well deserved, but there is something to be said for wanting something so bad that it makes you dizzy. Spock is right on the money on this one, just try to keep that in mind while you wait in line. :-)

Listen Button

This was going to be a nice, in-depth post about the brand new Fresh Market that opened today at Jefferson Village on New Garden Street. The store completed its move from Quaker Village and had its grand opening this morning. I was looking forward to taking loads of great, colorful pictures to show off how awesome this new location was and expounding on the wonderful customer service that the Fresh Market is known for.

Two things conspired against this. The first was a manager who seemed more interested in speaking with Fresh Market big-wigs and employees than customers, told me she’d “prefer that I not take pictures”. This was only after I told her it was for my local blog. Had I been an employee or a member of the press, then I could have snapped away I suppose.

The second was that after wandering for a good 45 minutes, I simply wasn’t that impressed. Sure the store is brand new, and has much more space, has better parking and looks wonderful, but there was nothing new. My wife and I were really looking forward to the market expanding their meat offerings to include venison and bison, having new fresh salad recipes, and some new exotic produce. None of this materialized however, which was disappointing to say the least. For selection, Whole Foods in Winston Salem seems to have the Fresh Market beat. Its distance, price, and tiny isles work against them however and we’ll most likely stick with our FM.

Taken as a whole, The Fresh Market really is a wonderful place to shop. It might be a bit more pricey, but the quality is well worth it. Plus, it is staffed by some of the nicest people in Greensboro (with the exception of the afore mentioned manager). The sushi lady and elderly bagging gentleman (wish I knew their names!) bring a smile to our faces each and every time we walk in. We’ll be back, I just wish I could have shown you the place. I suppose you’ll just have to go visit it for yourself, which I guess is the point.

Watching this season of The Next Food Network Star has made one thing perfectly clear for me. I absolutely cannot stand Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis. I’m not someone to use the word “hate” lightly, but after giving it a ton of thought, I stand by my choice of words. Why do I hate her? Let me count the ways…

• Skanky, low-cut silk blouses over hot stoves

• Enough lip gloss to lube a grandfather clock

• Phony, sophomoric, teethy grins

• Insistence on using pretentious, native pronunciation for all Italian foods – “MOE-ZAH-RRRRE-LLAH!”

• 7 layers of foundation under hot, studio lights

• Thinks having an Italian name and studying in Italy automatically makes her an amazing Italian cook for the ages

• Judging other’s flaws while ignoring her own

• Thinks she belongs on the same network as Alton Brown and Paula Deen

• Thinks Food Network’s audience can spot a phony a mile away, but seems pretty okay with being one herself

Thank goodness I’m not the only one who feels this way. If the Food Network was smart, they’d start putting Giada on the back burner. She’s worn out her short, perky welcome.

UPDATE: Of all the posts I’ve written, this one has now officially become the most popular. It sure says something about Giada, but I don’t think it’s something she wants to hear. Evidently a WHOLE lot of people have problems with her, along with just about every other cook on the Food Network including Rachel Ray, Paula Deen and of course, Emeril. Check out the comments on this thread. They are brutal and they go on for some 17 pages. Oooouch!!

File this one under “It’s about frickin’ time!”. Ever since Quentin Tarantino released Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 in the theater, Mindy and I have been patiently awaiting the inevitable box set of the twin films on DVD. There were rumors that Tarantino would release both parts in their original, combined version, so we held out and didn’t buy the lame American single DVDs. Now it seems as if all of our waiting has paid off as word comes from Amazon of a new 4-disc set coming in November called Kill Bill – The Whole Bloody Affair. The set is listed on Amazon as NC-17 which means it has to have some new footage, perhaps the longer, full color version of the House of Blue Leaves scene that Japanese fans were fortunate to experience.

Kill Bill is one of my all-time favorite films and I’m glad to see Quentin finally getting this expanded set out the door, even if it means waiting a few more months. To help pass the time, here is a link to a classic clip of Zamfir (master of the pan flute), performing The Lonely Shepherd. Set it on loop for 5 months, and you’ll be set.

History will not be kind to Dick Cheney. The man is the single greatest force behind America’s plummeting international standing, the shredding of the U.S. Constitution and increasing insecurity at home and abroad. Many of us have suspected that his actions have come at a high price (the death of habeas corpus, illegal domestic wiretaps, leaking covert CIA agents’ names to the press, etc.), but recent findings have revealed what might be the height of Mr. Cheney’s hubris regarding the rule of law. Evidently the Vice President of the United States doesn’t consider himself or his office part of the Executive Branch.

Cheney’s penchant for über-secrecy has caused the Vice President’s office to claim they are exempt from Executive orders that pertain specifically to THEM. He doesn’t feel the need to comply with a law stating he must report his handling of classified information to an office created expressly for this very purpose. Yep, I’m not making this stuff up, Cheney is basically arguing that he can ignore whatever laws he wants, simply because it suits him. As Dana Milbank of MSNBC reports, Cheney holds to the dictatorial position of the “Unitary Executive Theory” which basically sates the Executive branch is unassailable and can do whatever it chooses. The founding fathers must be somersaulting in their graves.

Now Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) is fighting back. He is in the process of introducing an amendment to the the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill to cut funding for Cheney’s office. Says Emanuel of Mr. Cheney’s extraordinary claim:

“The Vice President has a choice to make. If he believes his legal case, his office has no business being funded as part of the executive branch. However, if he demands executive branch funding he cannot ignore executive branch rules.”

Yep, that sounds about right. Should also help clarify if Cheney’s office really enjoys the protection of Executive Privilege that he so tightly clings to. Either he has it and must comply with Executive branch rules, or he doesn’t and we get to see his meeting notes for all those White House energy meetings. So, which is it gonna be, Dick?

UPDATE: Why am I not surprised that the only person on Fox News Sunday’s weekly panel to take Cheney’s side was Weekly Standard editor, William (the Bloody) Crystal? Thank God Juan Williams laid the smack down on him for Fox’s viewer-ship. Even Britt Hume knows what Cheney is doing is nonsense, and that is saying something. Watch the video at Think Progress

Over at my place of work, I often receive email asking what people can do to help support the Iconfactory. I always reply that the best way is to purchase our software and to generally spread the good word about efforts to support the Macintosh and icon creation community. Since WWDC 2007 though, we’ve thought of another way that the average person could help show their love for what we do, and it doesn’t even cost a penny.

Earlier this year we released our very first game for the Macintosh platform in conjunction with ARTIS Software. Frenzic is new take on classic puzzle games like Tetris that is easy to learn and quite literally can take months to master. The game was met with positive reviews, scores of downloads and an entire roster of enthusiastic players from around the world. People agree that one of the things that makes Frenzic so fun to play is its simplicity. Stay alive as long as possible, rack up points, power-ups and lives to scratch and claw your way up the leaderboard.

It occurred to us quite early in Frenzic’s development that it would make an outstanding game for the mobile phone platform and the iPhone in particular. Simply touch the screen to place pieces in the appropriate circles, touch power-ups to activate them and try valiantly to resist addiction! Games of Frenzic typically take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes making them perfect time killers in doctor’s offices or the airport. The game is programmed entirely in Cocoa and doesn’t rely on external game engines like Open GL so it would be extremely easy to port to the iPhone.

Needless to say we did our best to pitch Frenzic to Apple at the recent WWDC Developers conference in San Fransisco, but as the saying goes, it doesn’t hurt to have some insurance. This is where you come in. Head on over to Apple.com and take a moment to let Steve and gang know you’d love to have Frenzic as a premiere game for the iPhone. If enough people write, our little game that could, just might join the historic ranks of Bejeweled and Tetris. We’d love the opportunity to bring Frenzic to an iPhone near you, and with your help, it just might happen.

Digg It!

Regarding AAPL

June 19, 2007

Over at GigaOM, Kevin Kelleher has written a nice post about Apple stock and where it could potentially be headed. It seems like a pretty even-handed analysis as he compares Apple’s performance against other noted companies such as Amazon.com, Autodesk and Google. Here is the key bit that I happen to agree with 100%:

“Apple must fall some day – there’s no debate there. The question is when. The stock is nowhere near as expensive as, say, Amazon. The company and its CEO may both be overhyped, but there remains so much promise in Apple’s near-term future – early iPhone sales, Leopard, increase mainstream comfort with Macs – it’s not likely to come for a few quarters.”

Although I don’t pretend to understand how Wall Street works when it comes to my favorite fruit company, it does seem more often than not that the stock rises on rumor and announcements and falls on facts or events. Yesterday’s $4.59 increase in AAPL price thanks to Apple’s battery announcement is a perfect indicator of this. I think the price will continue to rise right up until June 29th, when investors will take profit with the launch of the iPhone. Depending on sales (or the prospect of sales), it will most likely start heading back up once again. This is all just my personal opinion however, so take it with a grain of salt. Check out Kevin’s post if you are interested, it’s worth your time.

Disclosure: Being the huge fan boy I am, I do own stock in Apple. I’m just sayin’.

My friend and resident toy freak, Talos, sent me a link today that I just had to share. Seems as though Super Rad Toys, Inc. is getting ready to produce a new set of “Kuberi-esque” collectables containing some seemingly notorious “Axis of Evil” dictators. Now you can have cute and posable plastic versions of Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, right there on your desktop! But wait, according to Super Rad Toys, your collection of the world’s most notorious men wouldn’t be complete without George W. Bush and Tony Blair!

Now, I’m no fan of our current president, nor of his ever-present lackey, but it does seem that these toys cross a fine line into the realm of bad taste. I can just picture how the marketing pitch for this one went…

“Kuberik versions of Hussein, Jong-il and Bin Laden, this is SO COOL!”

“Yep, but we need more eyeballs.”

“Yeah, what can we do… what can we do?”

“Dude! Bush and Blair!”

“Fucking-A! Sweeeet!”

The idea behind Plasticgod’s Axis of Evil 5 Figure Pack seems clever on the surface. Many people do have a tendency to collect counter-culture merchandise just for the hell of it. There is also no doubt they’ll sell out the entire 500 piece run before the set even hits the shelves. But there is a big chunk of my brain that just can’t stand to see George W. posed next to the man responsible for 9/11, even if it’s just in tiny plastic. I might be a liberal who loves toys, but this is one I could never bring myself to play with.

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