Monthly Archives: July 2007

Looking for Album Artwork for your iTunes & iPhone/iPod?

Of course, iTunes will start to look into the iTunes Store for missing artwork as soon as you drag in new music files/tracks.

The album artwork it does match up with your tracks are top notch. They are perfectly matched and 99.9% the best version resolution-wise out there.

However, it can only find and “fix” your missing artwork tracks only with tracks they sell.

To get that full and cool “cover flow” action going – like flipping through an LP bin (iPhone only for now), you want as much artwork as you can find. Keep in mind though, the artwork can add up and use up storage space so there is a tradeoff. While you can’t get the cover flow thing on iPods yet, if you have a 2 or 4 GB iPod, while it is cool to have the album artwork appear in the NOW PLAYING window, a couple thousand tracks of artwork does take away “more” music you can load. But in most cases, it’s worth the tradeoff. If you have a 30GB or 80GB iPod, it’s hardly a worry.

FETCH ART

So, after iTunes has done its auto-best to find and copy over album artwork … my recommendation is to add FETCH ART, it’s a free album artwork search and works very nicely with iTunes (it’s free – from VersionTracker). It will load an Applescript menu item into iTunes. Next time you launch iTunes, you will see a menu item called Fetch Art.

Simply select a track missing artwork and then go up to the iTunes “Applescript” menu – drag down and select FETCH ART.

The application will auto launch – and once it locates the art from Amazon.com (in preferences, you can change to UK or CA), you will get a window like this with a preview:

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If it looks right – click on COPY TO ITUNES.

What’s nice about FETCH ART is it has a couple of other features. If you have a bunch of tracks that you know is missing artwork (Beatles anyone?), you can do a batch add, search and find – just highlight all the tracks or just highlight the playlist name and select FETCH ART, it will load all the tracks and do a search (it will take a few minutes) and then you can batch change the artwork.

The reason you don’t normally want to do this is if iTunes already found some artwork for you (or if you already had artwork), the Amazon replacement album artwork that FETCH ART uses might be lower res or worse incorrect … Fetch Art is eager to please, sometimes you will get random choices – maybe it’s Amazon’s DB fault but just so you know. Hey it’s free, you want your money back? 🙂

Also, note, unless you turn off SAVE ALBUM ARTWORK in PREFERENCES, Fetch Art will “backup” all the art in your iTunes folder. I don’t find that useful or necessary but you can leave it on.

FIND ALBUM ARTWORK WITH GOOGLE v2.5

Okay, so now I’m up to about 75% – because I have about 1 TB of music, there are albums that Amazon doesn’t sell or even pre-dates them and is now OOP. It’s time to visit the great Doug’s Applescript for iTunes site. And in particular, FIND ALBUM ARTWORK WITH GOOGLE. Of course, you can tediously type in the search bar above but why bother when highlighting and applescripting is there for you?

(If you don’t know how to add Applescripts to your iTunes, read our previous post).

After you install and see the FIND ALBUM ARTWORK WITH GOOGLE choice in Applescript – after both iTunes Album Artwork search and Fetch Art have failed you, Google to the rescue. Highlight the track missing artwork and select “Find Album Artwork with Google” from the iTunes Applescript menu and it thoughtfully launches a new page with your search results. If your collection has tons of obscure CD’s like mine, on occasion, you will have to type in CD along the artist/album name to help Google a bit.

AMG ALL MUSIC GUIDE

For me, there are still about 2% of the tracks that escape the above three giants feverishly working on my behalf – for that, I turn to the much improved AMG All Music Guide and search manually.

After all that, I’m pretty much at 99.9% for retail CD’s – of course, for promo CD’s, I have to do my own scanning – arghh.

There are some other Applescripts you might prefer … “Tracks Without Artwork to Playlist” will create a new playlist with all the tracks missing artwork so then you know exactly which tracks to batch search with Fetch Art.

Or simply look through the categories at Doug’s site including the MANAGING ARTWORK section or THE INTERNET. Keep in mind, the new scripts are listed first – some of the older scripts on page 5 don’t work as well in iTunes 7.x if at all.

And after you add album artwork to all your tracks – add in CLUTTER which will give you a mini app on your desktop with the album artwork as you listen in iTunes. You can even create multiple CD covers and just click to play. It’s free and pretty cool.

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Oreo Cakester

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Yet another line extension.

Have you ever though – man, I like oreos but they really require masticating – if only I could get the essence of an oreo by just gumming them …

Your prayers have been answered.

Oreos that are mini soft cakes that just slide in your mouth and essentially down your gullet.

They are much better than the Hostess 100-calorie abomination of a cupcake.

These are moist and since it doesn’t taste bad, it must not be that good for you (shocking as that seems from something in the Oreo family).

It comes in two flavors – regular Oreo flavor and chocolate creme but frankly, I defy anyone to tell them apart with your eyes closed. You get 6 packets of two inside each box.

It does taste approximately like what a you might imagine an Oreo would taste like as a mini cake – but hardly a cause for shouting with glee, it’s not terrible and way better than the Hostess hockey pucks – so while not exactly the best benchmark, it is something. It was moist without tasting chemical-like so that’s something and it actually tasted fresher than most cupcake made by the supermarkets – again, hardly much praise and for about 18 chemicals, it’s not bad.

The bottom line would be I would buy them again for $2.50 a box – not sure what the non intro price might be.

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Not actual size … from BrownPau‘s FLICKR page.

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The iPhone as Business Phone: Where We Stand

One of the hinderance to business users switching is as simple as you have a business account and that AT&T isn’t offering the iPhone as an option.

If you run a small business or have enough pull, it’s simple to switch. In fact, if anything, you might save your company money. A colleague found out he was on the $249 a month plan and since he was mostly talking to his own team (all on AT&T) and about 40% of America is with AT&T – and those minutes don’t count towards your bucket of minutes, he was really only using 600 minutes a month so switching to an iPhone account actually saved the company money. And he works for a Fortune 50 company so either they sent an idiot to negotiate with AT&T or there wasn’t even any negotiations … in any case, if you can, look into the details of your particular account … in this case, he’s going to save his company over $1,000 this year on his cell phone bill … maybe you can too.

But where do we stand after a month on the corporate/business side of a phone Gartner & others declared “scary?”

Um, surprise, not so much scary.

The one security issue is like every other Mac or iPod security issue, in a lab where you solder and pry the Apple device open and under certain conditions, it can be “hacked.” But once you unplug the wires and leave that room?

Like a moth, the scariest bug on Earth that you can kill with WATER.

It’s nothing outside the guy’s lab (or Symantec’s or McAfee’s).

Just in case you’re keeping track of actual, real world viruses and intrusions?:

(7 years) Mac OSX 35 million users: ZERO

(6 years) iPod: 110 million users: ZERO

(1 month) iPhone: a million users: ZERO

13 years of cumulative use of ZERO is a pretty good track record – especially in the last two years with pleading hysteria that the time must be now that some Apple device, any Apple device is doomed.

Maybe, hackers buy it with the intention of creating havoc but then after 5 minutes, just begin to think – this machine hasn’t locked up on me, maybe I’ll create a widget. Or if that guy can create an Apple mini-app, I can create 2 or 400

Gartner & Forrester’s hysterical weeping before the iPhone was even out is illogical in claiming that because you can’t install 3rd party apps, it’s MORE insecure. I have a feeling if the iPhone allowed third party apps to install, they would arguing precisely the opposite. Their main point is that email is insecure …

Except that as the WSJ points out, click a switch in Outlook will send forward your corporate emails or that most companies offer web based email access. (The WSJ article also points out 10 things your IT department would prefer you not know).

Of course, this pretty much sums up IT’s attitude, “Executives will ‘infect the enterprise.’ That’s how the BlackBerry got started,” OMG – someone wants to use new technology.

RUN FOR THE SERVER ROOM AND KEYCODE US IN!

But there are people working on solutions …

SYNCHRONICA

“Mobile Gateway for Enterprises: Push and Synchronization for email, calendar, address book, over the air, anywhere.” Test out getting your email on your iPhone here.

NETSUITE

ERP & CRM web based software/site already designed a SuitePhone for the iPhone.

VISTO

A mobile e-mail service provider – users can access enterprise e-mail systems, including Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Domino. Free demo and 60 days use here.

MORE TO COME

InfoBuilders (a business intelligence/Web-reporting software) users already have access using their iPhone and down the line, thinks the iPhone is the best mobile platform for viewing & accessing their reports.

COST TO OTHER SMARTPHONES?

From the PalmAddict site, the TCO for a iPhone is about $20 more than a Treo after 2 years in the most favorable comparison or the Treo is over $200 MORE than the iPhone in other scenarios.

And finally a real review by a real business user without a hidden agenda (InfoWeek) that covers issues of concern to business users and/or people used to other smartphones.

And of course, we covered the business gamut of apps that run online. They haven’t all been re-tested on the iPhone but web apps like Ta Da Lists is already an early favorite.

Of course, enterprise level web based solutions are going to pop up a little slower than everyday mini apps but it’s only logical as we move more software solutions online.

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Google MyMaps: Not Quite Ready for the iPhone

As Tizmanian covered a few month back, Google’s MyMaps are customizable.

In theory, it should be perfect for the iPhone. Of course, you’re all familiar with Google Maps. You type in a business name, a city or an address and you hit return, in literally seconds, it spans the globe and you a pin placement literally.

Google MyMaps (see tab on the Google Maps page) takes it one step further, letting you personalize & save bookmark/pin placements all over the world.

This is perfect for those of us who wants some restaurant links for some nearby town, or a great review for a restaurant on your next trip, an interesting hotel or a place to check out next time you’re on the road and you drank too much NyQuil and you really, really want to stop in Alexandria, IN and visit the world’s largest ball of paint? Who can keep a text list and have to remember where it is? Or keep a giant file folder and no time to look back through it? Or even if you remember, how far is that street from your hotel or the conference hall? Is it worth a $30 dollar cab ride to eat the best pulled pork in NC? (you are asking the wrong person 🙂 )

Type in the business, restaurant, hotel, etc …

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You can even read the review’s link. If it’s the one or you want to add it to your maps, just click on SAVE TO MY MAPS. You will be asked which MAP (you can name different ones … MISTRESS … WIFE … Just Kidding!)

You even have a space to add in comments like “Haggis, not so good, Peach Cobbler – good”

You can even choose the icon “pin” so you can do your own visible database.

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There are also other tools for drawing lines and boxes, etc …

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So, Google Maps works great on a computer browser but sadly, this potentially great tool is not ready for the iPhone just yet.

On the iPhone, the left scroll bar disappears so if you have more than 20 listings, they are not visible as the left page has no scroll feature in the iPhone … also, the normally handy Google Maps slider to zoom in does not allow finger taps to zoom in and out, it just becomes a scroll so pages just move around and the zoom is a tedious tapping on the +_ signs … the only way to make it less painful is to bookmark the url of a city on the computer and email or sync with your iPhone.

So, if this sounds like something you’d like to re-program for Google or let them know you’d like it iPhonized, drop by their forum and become a squeaky wheel!

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Microsoft Acquires Small Network AdECN

The venerable WSJ is reporting that Microsoft is buying a small 30-person firm in Santa Barbara called AdECN that runs a network linking buyers and sellers of internet ad space.

Can Microsoft build the next ad exchange platform?  Sure.  Will users want to use it.  Huge maybe.

Google itself has learned the hard way that even with tons of muscle and money, there are just some things you can’t do well (such as Google’s repeated failed attempts to broker print space).

Ask.com has a pretty slick algorithm going nowadays but how many times have you used it in the past week?  Me…nada.  And yet I like its interface very much.  Old habits die hard…which is why Ask.com earlier this month worked a deal with Microsoft under which customers of Microsoft’s paid search program will see their listings appear on sites operated by Ask.com and its partners.

What does AdECN bring to the table that its purchase of aQuantive didn’t get them?  Are they just building scale?

From the AdECN website explaining their exchange: “In the following illustration, the AdECN Exchange is the central marketplace. The member is the advertising network that holds a seat on the exchange and acts on behalf of the advertiser or publisher in executing transactions. There are many seats on the exchange, and each member has its own advertisers and publishers. ”

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Think of it as NASDAQ for online where an AdECN member buys on the exchange (representing an advertiser/s) and sells on the exchange (representing a publisher/s).

The AdECN member’s advertisers specify in advance how much they are willing to pay based on the visitor’s profile, or the visitor’s past behavior, or the page content, or other factors. Advertisers can bid on a CPM, CPC, CPA, or CPL basis.

When a visitor lands on a website page, an auction is held among all the advertisers in less than 12 milliseconds, for every single ad impression. The highest bid wins, and that ad is shown.

Now this sounds all well and good but what if we, as internet readers, see this rampaging trend about web publishers and advertisers wanting to know every little detail about our web usage (not to mention our demographics using combinations of Behavioral Targeting, Geotargeting, and other tools of the trade) and we start training ourselves to purge cookies and set our privacy settings much higher?

Oops.  Who was that reader that just flipped through our pages again?

AdECN provides all of the hoo-hah that most ad networks provide when serving up ads using tags from what I can tell.

Members can place all, some, or even none of their traffic on the exchange. They can specify that the auction favor a match between their own publishers and advertisers, unless the profit of using traffic from the Exchange exceeds a certain threshold which is interesting.

The pitch here is as a member you will be in an electronic bazaar where supply and demand will dictate pricing.  But there are surely ways to game this system much like you occasionally hear about hedge fund managers gaming stock pricing from their ‘antics’ and massive buying (and selling) power.

Why would we want to see more of that activity in the online space?  I don’t.  Do you?

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Apple Financial Numbers & Conference Call To Rest the Rumors

Of course, it’s a spectacular quarter in the middle of the year.

Regardless of Apple but any company that randomly announces the following numbers clearly had a great 3 months:

Net income up 73% or $818 million versus $472 a year earlier.

Revenue up to $5.4 billion versus $4.4 billion a year earlier.

That’s $58.7 million a day in revenue BTW or about $8.9 million a day in profits.

How do you get there?

1.76 million or about 19,000 Macs a day with 50% of the Apple store sales to WIN users (according to Apple). That’s 33% better than a year earlier and about 3 times the growth rate versus the rest of the industry. Here’s our reasoning why the I’M A MAC ads work.

By selling 7,500 iPod’s every minute – at a 20% HIGHER rate than the year before – or nearly 10 MILLION iPods in 92 days.

Pretty impressive knowing that a touchscreen iPod (and iPhone) of course was coming for $600. Of course, sales growth didn’t match volume growth but that’s to be expected. Since January, people knew the form & functions of the iPhone doubling as an iPod AND also presuming that the widescreen would be the new format for the iPod, sales would be at the lower SHUFFLE & NANO line – the Shuffle line is brilliantly priced – expensive but inexpensive enough to make it an extravagant but elegant gift that works for young, old, colleagues, friends, etc … (twice now, I’ve seen someone buying all the colors at once – crazy exercise scheme or extravagant party favors?) While other DAP/MP3 sellers throw new shapes, money losing versions and new music stores at the marketplace, only the iPod is the one brand respected and acknowledged by all as “the one.” So in a year where the only change was adding the RED charity version, IPOD sales continue to march through like hot knife & butter.

The new widescreen iPod will once again ignite sales whenever it comes out – but presumably before the holiday selling season.

And of course, selling 270,000 iPhones in 30 hours or about 150 a minute … I think it’s safe to say that most cell phones do not sell at a rate of 150 a minute for the first 30 hours.

(And of course, our favorite mule to kick – the Zune sells about 30,000 a month or about 9 months to also sell 270,000).

And of course, buying an iPhone is a monthly revenue stream for Apple in the form of AT&T’s fees back to Apple, to iTunes sales and presumably another halo to selling more iPods and more Macs. (one source quoted AT&T as saying 40% were new to iPods).

By the end of next Q, it should be clear what the initial numbers are/were for the iPhone.

As part of the conference call, it became clear that some of the rumors concerning a “nano iPhone” are just that and certainly not coming out this holiday season because as Apple noted, “We’re here for the LONG TERM.”

Apple is launching the iPhone in Europe in the next few months and early in 2008 for Asia. Whether they add 3G or not is another matter but as for the form, why is Apple going to spend all this time establishing this AS the iPhone only to throw it away in 3 months?

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When it’s NOT even available anywhere else?

Do I think there might a smaller iPhone sometime in the future – sure – but in the next few months before EVERYWHERE but the United States (Not even Canada) has one?

No.

If you brand THIS iPhone as the MUST HAVE item as it sweeps across the globe – why would you start over by selling a DIFFERENT one AND a LESS PROFITABLE one?

You don’t.

There is also NO reason to cut profits to sell a cheaper iPhone just yet. You don’t create aspirations for owning a “special” item and then undercut it by discounting or bringing out a cheaper one right away. That’s the playbook of Motorola and you see how they can smash & grab some sales & market-share for a few quarters but then by driving the price down & down pointlessly, you have driven the brand value to ZERO.

The iPhone will follow the iPod and technology. It will be in versions bigger (physically as a ultra portable maybe) and it will get smaller and presumably cheaper but at some point in the future when nearly EVERYONE who is willing to pay $599 for a phone has one AND NOT A SECOND BEFORE.

That’s when you smartly strip out features or add in features only available at the top-of-the-line like Apple with the gulf of difference between a SHUFFLE, a NANO and an IPOD … or the MINI, IMAC & MACPRO and then price it accordingly.

So, maybe a year from now, after the world from Zanzibar to Altoona all have an iPhone, then iPhone 2 will be out … don’t worry, AT&T will be happy to reset your 2-year contract at 2 years again with a new extension activation fee.

Oh and two last numbers to consider. A lot of people are noting that Apple’s PE ratio is a bit high in comparison to other tech or software/hardware companies but they seem to neglect looking further down the report and noting that Apple is sitting on over $13 BILLION in cash and has a long term of $0.

That’s right – long term debt – ZERO.

Just like the numbers in my household … or maybe vice versa 🙂

(For investors or those holding Apple stock who want to gloat – Motley Fool has pulled together all the important numbers).

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iPhone Mini Apps Major Update: 4 Weeks, 400 Mini Apps

When we last looked in a few weeks ago, it was about at about 200 mini apps after two weeks but it’s not slowing down – the count is going to click over faster and faster as more sites now are beginning to create iPhone compatible versions of their websites.

I would’ve just updated the post except now that we are roaring ahead with a hundred a week, it’s time to re-evaluate how to to access these mini apps on your iPhone. Clearly the “iPhone Icon Portal” sites are the way to go.

Sure, most of the sites you can bookmark as you always have but unlike a computer based browser access where having 10 bookmarks or a couple hundred is no problem to access – having even 20 sites you want to bookmark and then visit with an iPhone starts to become a visual burden since they are just text links that require finger scrolling.

Plus, it’s much cooler way as they have carried the iPhone home icons to its next logical step.

Basically, when you arrive at these sites, they have visually replicated the home page of the iPhone but instead of PHOTOS, CAMERA, YOUTUBE, etc … they offer a set number of sites visually accessible by tapping on an icon (like one for the NY Times) and you can add or delete other sites – also represented as a beveled icon.

Brilliant.

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The main contenders all essentially operate the same (screensnap from Leaflets). You can create your own personalized icon parade. There are about 25 main sites most people would want to add (chat app, list managers, movie showtimes, etc …) plus now, close to 375 other sites of varying interest – 20 sudoku games anyone?)

Here are the top 3 contenders:

MockDock

It is easiest to add on and edit your choices because you can sign in on the website via your desktop computer, makes changes and its reflected in your MockDock next time you check in via your iPhone. What’s also cool is you can create mini icons for dialing fav numbers. While, yes, you can select some favs to be listed in the your PHONE contact area right now, they let you assign an icon to HOME, WORK, PIZZA, etc … though the downside is you have to log onto their site FIRST before dialing out …

The only real downside is it be nice to able to re-arrange in order you prefer and there are some major choices not listed here.

AppLists.com

They are offering 128 mini apps. It appears you can also log-in and edit via your desktop browser (I had a little trouble signing in). They are also offering some new & different ones – especially several for road warriors that are nice & useful. The info window with each app is nice so you get a preview and info about the mini-app. Another nice feature is you can create folders for favs or other subcategories.

I was excited to see SKYPE listed but it’s nothing – all it does is point you to the main website and an offer to download the Skype app – clearly not all that useful. While there are some ones listed here nowhere else, it be nice to have one site with ALL the sites …

Appleopolis.com

Might just have them both beat. It is the largest selection but also keep in mind that a lot of them are repeats from other categories but I’m pretty tempted to say that all the major iPhone mini-apps are collected here. The navigation at Appleopolis.com is nice in one way in that every mini-app gets its own page, screenshot and description – though when you have over 300 sites here, that can get a little tedious especially since the navigation choices are a little unwieldy but mostly due to the staggering number of choices. Fortunately there is access through the browser on your desktop.

Without the desktop browser option, this site might be a much to navigate unless you are on a tarmac with an hour to kill 😦 – fortunately the desktop version is there and seems to work great. The icons are a tad lower res and could use a little more work. While it is the largest site so far, I’m still convinced it’s not everything EVERYTHING … the greedy bastard that I am 🙂 so it’s probably my number #1 choice so far but I’m not 100% convinced yet. I know they probably put 1,000 hours into this already, I just want another 1,000 hours (yea, I am a @#$$#$&&**!!*).

And already the first week “leaders” have fallen back a bit.

Gridgets

A fine choice and maybe the best looking icons – they have fallen back a bit with its more limiting selections and icons only presented in alpha order but if you don’t want to clutter up the screen with too many apps, Gridgets offers most of the major ones so there’s no reason not to use 2-3 of the other sites and continue to use Gridgets.

Leaflets

Might’ve been the first and still gorgeous looking but it is even more limited in that they have selected the mini apps they think you might like best so no customization except on a second tier where if you tap more apps, you can access a few dozen more but it’s a little inconvenient. Still great – just not as many options.

AppMarks.com

Is another choice. Limited selection. Does offer desktop browser editing but with only 20 site choices, not really necessary. Icons also need a little work – nice but falling behind the others.

Mojits.com

Looks nice but got “Rails App Failed to Start.”

OTHERS/TEXT BASED

iPhoneAppr.com

One of the first sites but not as an icon based portal. Massive but it’s all text based. Click on a category, get presented with a few to dozens of choices, tap to read and then tap to launch so a few extra steps. Some people might prefer this as the way to go – after you launch the apps, you can bookmark the url as you would any website so if you prefer to jump directly to a site versus an icon based portal, you can spend an hour at iPhoneAppr.com to pick and choose the mini apps you know you’ll be going back to and bookmark them (or perhaps use Netvouz or Del.ic.io.us to bookmark and then access via your own personal bookmark page).

iPhone Widget List

I would quibble that it’s not really widgets that we are accessing but it is a nice looking site with great information and links.

AddFone.com

Search – claims to list 374 iPhone mini apps so if you do a category search …

iPhone Application List

Blog format. Basic reviews and compilation of links to all iPhone mini apps. Many apps not listed with others so still a solid place to visit.

Everything iPhone

Also has a directory.

iPhone Apps

Blog format. They might be getting weary of it already – last post on the 8th.

So, website owners, hop on ye old iPhone bandwagon – here are Apple’s guidelines for making it iPhone friendly.

400+ mini apps for a “closed” platform in 4 weeks … what are the Treo & RIM boys thinking?

LifeClever has a list of “bookmarklets” that are also useful mini-mini apps (How small can we go? How small can we go?) The FIND ON THIS PAGE is handy but some others I couldn’t get to work but you can check them out yourself.

And in case you missed it, here’s the Google Search as formatted for your iPhone.

A note about TELEMOOSE (a mini app you will run across) which allows you Amazon access. Note, if you log onto http://www.amazon.com, it’s smart enough to figure out you are visiting from an iPhone and will present you MOBILE AMAZON – no need to go through TELEMOOSE which earns them credit if you decide to buy something … use the Two a Day link to buy something 🙂

Enjoy!

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