Palm Pre ads with Tamara Hope

These commercials for the Palm Pre smartphone have been given largely negative reviews, with most reactions going something like “WTF”, “that girl is so creepy/ugly”, and “show more features of the phone!”

Of course, I’m posting them here because I disagree. I’m not saying it’s the most effective route Palm could have chosen, but when you’re putting out a new line of devices in a crowded playing field where one competitor dominates mindshare, and everyone else puts out ads highlighting a long list of techie features or superficial accoutrements, you need to do something bold.

These are branding ads. These are look at me and remember me ads. The worst examples of these leave viewers angry, cursing the fact that they spent energy being annoyed. Nevertheless, the images remain with them. For me, these ads are a thing of queer beauty. They’re a little creepy, yes. But they are well written, and they are different. Some of them are a little too hippie, with their New Age songs and talk of reincarnation, but such missteps are redeemed by the genius that chose such shots as the one where she turns her back on the camera twice, and the ethereal, painting-like scenes that flow behind her. I also think they were drawing inspiration from Max Headroom, and one can’t go wrong with that.

I’ve read that Palm and their US partner Sprint are running other ads in support of the Pre. Those purportedly target other demographics, while I believe these are tremendously appealing to those who don’t have strong feelings about technology. The kind of people who need a phone for business, and right now it’s a Blackberry or a very old basic phone. These aren’t the only tools in their campaign. TV ads don’t need to contain all the facts. Watch one of these, and you get the idea of what being connected, multitasking, and having GPS can do for your life, without a single bullet-point having to appear on screen.

The last and latest one, Mind Reader, is my favorite. It’s a poem to technology, read with confidence. Her final line, “Of course it does, it’s mine”, is a powerful sentiment that every geek can understand. My iPhone certainly knows me well, between the data I store on it, the connections it helps me make, and the choices that go into each of its nine pages of apps.

iPhone app review – Ferrari GT: Evolution

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name/Category: Ferrari GT: Evolution / Games
What it costs: $0.99 (previously $9.99)


What it is: Last year’s racehorse, on its last legs


Why you should buy it: Racing games and first-person shooters are two of the most graphically intensive genres in gaming, so enthusiasts often look to them for examples of what a machine can do. When Gameloft released Asphalt 4: Elite Racing on the iPhone last year, it was hailed as a landmark achievement in iPhone graphics. It was as if a tiny digital Ronald Reagan had approached a programming barrier inside the iPhone and commanded digital Gorbachev to tear it down. A few months later, the company released Ferrari GT: Evolution. Built using largely the same technology, the new game had a (licensed) identity of its own: a slightly more serious driving simulation compared to Asphalt’s nitro-boosted arcade speedfest.


Why you shouldn’t: Racing games sold on great graphics alone don’t have any long-lasting appeal. Gameloft seems to recognize this, and the game is now being sold at a tenth of its launch price of $9.99. In the time since it ran its first lap, other more impressive driving games have run it into the ground, made it eat their dust, given it a flat tyre, put a banana in its tail pipe, upped its road tax, cut its brakes, siphoned its fuel tank while it parked in the drive-in theatre and made out, parked it in a shipping container meant to be delivered half the world away, and used it as a Bonus Stage prop in a game of Street Fighter 2. Or if you prefer, overtaken it.

Oh and the controls are a bit crap.


“But It’s Just 99 Cents” Rating: 3/5

Buy Ferrari GT: Evolution in the iTunes App Store.
Try Ferrari GT: Evolution Lite for free in the iTunes App Store.



SingTel DSL Broadband settings

If you’re a heavy internet user connected with SingTel Broadband via the supplied 2WIRE modem/router, you probably already know that the hardware is crap and tends to spaz out when you open too many connections. Getting your own ADSL modem/router is an ideal solution, but unless it auto-configures to the network like SingTel’s does, you’re looking at some lengthy trial and error while trying to get it connected.

I had that experience myself a few months ago, and had to look all over the net for the settings (on my iPhone, no less) because SingTel’s helpdesk wouldn’t “support third-party hardware”. That’s funny, because when I called to ask for the admin console password on the 2WIRE router (to enable Modem Only mode, which I could use with my previous Linksys router), I was told that they couldn’t give it to me, and I had to call 2WIRE’s distributor in Jurong or something. In the end, 2WIRE told me to get the password from SingTel. It was hopeless.

I’d be satisfied if this helps just one person out there.

DSL connection settings from my 3com modem/router:

Protocol: PPPoA

Username: xxxxx@singnet

Connect Type: Always Connected

Idle Time: 20 (min)

MTU: 1492

VPI/VCI: 0/100

Encapsulation: VC MUX

QoS Class: UBR

PCR/SCR/MBS: 4000/4000/10

iPhone app review – Facebook

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name / Category: Facebook / Social Networking (v2.5)

What it costs: Free



What it is: A way to overshare while on the go.



Why you should get it: Last week, I was induced to join a cult called iPRAMS, or iPhone Radicals Against MobileSafari. Our group believes that it’s no coincidence MobileSafari’s initials are MS, which makes the iPhone browser part of the conspiracy that began in 1997 when THAT other company bought $150m of Apple shares. Under my newly sworn vows, I can no longer use the browser to access Facebook’s mobile website on my iPhone. Thank heavens for this app which does exactly what the website does!


Why you shouldn’t: iPRAMS recognizes the independence and diversity of all iPhone users, which includes those who might want to use MobileSafari and the Facebook website instead. So if you want to help the devil spread a thinly-veiled mobile version of Internet Explorer 8, go right ahead.



“But I’m Not A Member of iPRAMS” Rating: 2/5

Download Facebook for free on the iTunes App Store.

Below: Facebook iPhone app

Below: Facebook site in MobileSafari

iPhone app review – Triazzle

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name / Category: Triazzle / Games
What it costs: $2.99 on sale ($3.99 regularly)


What it is: A jigsaw puzzle with LSD-inspired effects


Why you should buy it: If you like jigsaw puzzles, triangles, and getting high, there’s no earthly reason why Triazzle won’t become your favorite iPhone game. You start by choosing either a 9 or 16-piece puzzle at one of four difficulty levels. A new puzzle is randomly generated each time. I’m not sure what it all means, but dragging pieces into place and rotating them usually makes me feel nice all over. Sometimes, the pictures on the edge of my piece actually match another piece next to it! That’s when it starts to get weird.

When a match is made, the pictures of frogs, butterflies, bugs, and turtles come to life and start to move around the board. They actually come out of the freaking pictures and crawl around on your screen!! It’s not a problem unless you’re hungry. One time, I had a really good conversation with this purple toad who told me to chill out when I was getting a little edgy.

“Dude, this game has no time limit or scoring system,” he said. “Whoaaaaaaa!” I replied. “So the point is just to kick back, listen to the far-out music, and see the world for what it really is? A system of control that you can escape with psychotropic medication?” I made another match and a turtle nipped at my fingertip. “Right on,” said the frog.


Why you shouldn’t: I forgot.



Rating: 5 rainbow frogs out of 5

Buy Triazzle on the iTunes App Store.

From sangsara.net
From sangsara.net

iPhone app review – Notespark

(This iPhone review and others like it have been moved to my new app review site, positivemachine.com. Why not have a look?)


Name / Category: Notespark / Productivity
What it costs: $4.99


What it is: The last notepad you’ll ever buy, as long as the site stays up.


What it does: Ever seen a sci-fi movie where people on trains read newspapers that are actually moving screens, like e-paper, and they download content from some awesome future internet? Notespark is totally like that, but for notepads. It lets you write down as many things as you want, on sheets of virtual paper that then fly off to a server somewhere for safekeeping. Later that night, when you’re back home in front of your computer and need to remember what that other commuter looked like in great detail so you can write her a Missed Connections post on Craigslist, you’ve got it right there on www.notespark.com.


What it doesn’t: It’s like, nearly the end of the noughties, and is anyone like, still taking TEXT notes? Are you serious? Why not just record a voice memo of yourself describing her cute clothes and sweet ass and intoxicating body odor, right there on the train in front of her? Or maybe snap a photo under the pretext of looking something up on Google, then jerking the lens in her direction whilst looking deep in thought or absorbed in the financial planning ad above? If you do go down that route – and it is a dark and contemptible one, believe me – Evernote will do the job. Just don’t ask Evernote to handle a bunch of words, because it’s like, totally retarded.


“Head in the Cloud” Rating: 5/5

Buy Notespark in the iTunes App Store.
But first, you might want to sign up for a free online account and test-drive their functionality at notespark.com. It’s many times better than the $1.99 Simplenote‘s online half.


Update: Notespark now supports SSL encryption on all connections, eliminating its gravest shortcoming (one that drove many to Simplenote). I’m told an update to the iPhone app is pending, while the website already has it in place.