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The Computer Log #3 for November 11 & 18 2009

This weeks computer log will be on the iPhone and iPod Touch and MP3 Music players

As I said before, I have a bad case of “Gadget-itius” and it is very infectious. The iPod and iPhone, if you have one, is one of the symptoms and I have both. The iPhone and iPod can be used to read e-Books either from Kindle format or other sources, and used to listen to audio books. I have 80 or so apps or applications and the most I use are free. I have wi-fi or a wireless access point in my shop and with it I can use to browse the “net” or use it to read e-mail. There is nothing this device cannot do, including the ability to tune my Bagpipes.

If you have an iPhone without service, and without an active “simm” card you can still use it with no problem. I can even use my “Skype” account with wi-fi to make phone calls. So the old iPhones can still be used to do many things.

The big difference between the the iPhone and iPod Touch is, no camera, no GPS, no compass, and no phone handset. So to use Skype on an iPod Touch is to have the ear buds with the microphone combo headset and wi-fi. I was lucky, a friend gave me his old iPhone, because he upgraded from 16 gigs to 32 gigs (gigi-bytes) of storage. I also have a 2 and 4 gigi-byte MP3 player. I like them both and are a good in-expensive way to have your music with you and not feel bad if you loose it. Where the iPod Touch and iPhone can make you cry if you loose them.

Here are the major things to consider if you purchase a Music Player. The iPod Touch and iPhone needs either a windows base or Mac base computer to set them up and back them up for the first time. You do not need to connect the devices to download podcasts, tunes or apps from the iTunes store. But you should back up to your computer regularly, so if you buy an app or tune from the iTunes store it will maintain a record of your purchase. You can use the wi-fi built into the iPod and iPhone to connect to the iTunes store.

The iTunes software will not load up on a Linux base computer, where the basic MP3 Music Player will work on Linux or just about any computer you plug it into.

Since the MP3 Music Player will look like an external hard drive on most any computer, you can with most software rip or convert CD's music to MP3's and copy them into the player with no problem. The iPod Touch and iPhone will need to use the iTunes software to copy CD's into the device. The iTunes and iPod Touch will charge from your computer or with other accessories available either on-line or at some retailers. The MP3 player sometimes will charge from the computer and I have seen some that require batteries, this all depends on what you get. My iPhone and iPod Touch will run for a day, on a charge with no problem depending on what “app” you use. If you get your tunes from in MP3 format you will not have an issue using this format on any of the players. A further caveat is that not all MP3 Players will work with the audio book format.

I will also say I am hooked on audio books. I wish I had this when I was in school, with 70,000+ books available at in most cases at a lower price than what is available from the book store, this is a good buy. If you buy audio books from the iTunes store, it will cost you more even if it is from the collection. I checked the prices, and at 229.95 for 24 credits it comes out to an average of less than $10 per credit book unless it is real big book, then it may cost you 2 credits. If purchased from the iTunes store direct then it may cost you twice as much. I will use the Audible store and and the iTunes software in my Windows base computer to save that kind of money. There are other plans available at a monthly charge and a bit easier on the old pocket book. I personally use the Audible books I download when I am driving alone and plug my iPhone into my radio with a cassette adapter. What a way to pass the miles.

Not everything on the net for your iPhone, iPod Touch or MP3 player cost money, I also use them to download Podcasts and free music from different sources. The iTunes store makes it easy with the iPhone or iPod Touch. As far as an MP3 player you just use your computer to download the Podcasts. I am a fan of, and several other Podcast and Videocast out there. The Kindle App will allow you to download many free e-books from the Kindle Store. And I know, you can also purchase e-books from the Kindle store. I have found books cost from 99 cents to 12 dollars via this format with many at about 7 dollars. The Kindle is the Hardware e-book reader from I will talk about the Kindle e-book reader at a later time.

My free software choice for today is Skype and is available from . This free software will make your computer into a Video Conference phone and will work on any computer including Linux. You can talk Skype to Skype with no charge at all. My sister and Brother in-law uses Skype to talk to and see their son in Okinawa. This is a great and easy software to use. You only need a Camera and a set of headphones with microphone. Some laptops already have a built in camera already to go. You do not need the camera but it is nice. Just think of the 1960's cartoon of “The Jetsons” we are there now with that respect. No “Rosie the Robot” to help with the housework yet! If you want to call any telephone anywhere in the US and a number of other countries, you can pay just $30 annually for the ability.

Remember Skype can only be used with hi-speed Internet connection. You should also use hi-speed with iTunes,, and with the store that allows you to download your tunes, books or audio books, otherwise it will take you forever to get your stuff. In my case if I am on the road I will teather my iPhone to my Verizon cell phone to get on the net. More on that in a later issue of the computer log.

Franklin S Werren is a computer technician and runs Chautauqua Lake Hosting and Franks Radio in Sherman NY. And can be found on the web at and via e-mail at or and yes I do play the Bagpipes.

Disclaimer: “Franklin S Werren” or the “Chautauqua Star” have not received any money or promotional items in anything talked about in this column.

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Page last modified on November 21, 2009, at 11:06 PM EST