Using the Apple TV in South Africa

The Apple TV is a great little device. It has a number of features I use weekly and has definitely changed the way I consume media in my house. No longer do I have to watch movies or series on my Macbook’s small screen or use messy cables to get my Macbook hooked up to my 42″ LCD TV to get the full experience.

*Update!* You can now purchase an Apple TV from Wildtwig in South Africa!

The Apple TV connects wirelessly to my home network and hooks up to my TV using a single HDMi cable. Once it’s hooked up to my home network this is where I get the most benefit from it. Using Airplay, whatever photos, movies, Youtube videos or music I would usually consume on my iPhone, iPad or on my Mac, I now tap the Airplay icon and it automatically shows up on my TV! I then use my iPhone or iPad as the remote to browse through the images, stop, start the video or select another song to play.

Apple TV menu

All your content has to be kept within iTunes in order to stream it to your Apple TV. Check out HandBrake for converting movies and series to MP4 which you can then easily import into iTunes.

Another killer feature is the ability to rent movies and series from the iTunes stores. You will need an US iTunes account to be able to rent movies and series. Movies cost $3.99 to rent (series episodes are $0.99) and you can keep a movie for 30 days. Once you click play though, you have 24 hours to complete watching it. In terms of speed, I have a 4MB ADSL line at home and most of the time I click download and can start watching a movie literally within a minute. Apple TV does check your line speed and only allows you to start watching when it knows you’ll be able to finish watching the movie without any buffering.

iTunes also has a massive amount of online radio stations which you can listen to via your Apple TV. Much better than DStv’s audio bouquet.

The biggest problem though is purchasing an Apple TV in South Africa. They are not officially available here and I highly doubt they ever will be. There are a few online stores that do import them. Check stock availability with the online shop before purchasing though.

You can buy the 2nd generation or 3rd generation Apple TV from Wildtwig!

Other than these stores, hopefully you have a friend in the UK or US that can purchase an Apple TV and send it to you as a gift. They retail for $99 in the US or £101 in the UK.

Apple TV hacks

I haven’t tried or see the need to jailbreak my Apple TV, but here is a simple guide to jailbreaking your Apple TV. Once jailbroken, you will be able to install XMBC which then turns your Apple TV into a media player without the need to be chained to iTunes.

Everyone consumes media differently in their house and the Apple TV isn’t for everyone. I however love the fact I can easily rent movies from my couch, download pictures from my camera to my iPad and with one tap can share the photos on my TV for everyone to see and when people are talking about those funny Youtube videos they saw at work, I quickly find them on my iPhone and use Airplay to stream the videos to my TV for everyone to laugh at.

Lastly, one of my most favourite past times is watching movie trailers on the Apple TV. iTunes has a lists most of the movies that are currently in cinemas and although you can’t rent them just yet, you can watch the trailers!

If you had R1 million land on your lap

What would you do if someone anonymous donor gave you R1 million to do with as you please? Would you quit your job, buy stuff, invest it? Would you retire at 25?

I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d take 6 months (ok, maybe 3 months) off and travel the world to experience as much as I possibly can in that time. I’d then come back to exactly where I live and carry on as if I haven’t been away for 1 day. Obviously the money left over will help whatever ideas I want to pursue, but the point of my post is I wouldn’t drastically change where I am and what I’m currently doing. I’m having that much fun.

You?

Named as 1 of 300 Young South African’s you should take to lunch

Mail & Guardian ran a feature on 300 young South African’s you should take to lunch. There were a number of categories from Arts & Culture to Sports and I was named in the Technology section.

From the article:

Jason Bagley, web entrepreneur

Jason Bagley met his former business partner on Twitter. This may sound odd but it is totally in character for this Generation Y entrepreneur, who professes a dislike of “old-school corporates”.
Bagley has little formal education and learned most of his developers’ skills on the job.
“I didn’t want to wait three to four years studying before I could start working,” he says. So far, it’s been a good strategy. He’s worked for Trustco Goup International, Travelogic and Younique.
Earlier this year, Bagley’s popular, but unofficial My Coke Fest blog, which featured advertising and made use of Coke trademarks, came under fire from Coke. Under threat of legal action, Bagley sanitised and relocated the blog, but retained a loyal community base. He says the incident shows a lack of understanding about how social media works.
Bagley recently set up his own media company, Beanbag Media, and also consults to World Wide Creative. He runs the Incredible Connection blog. — Faranaaz Parker

Lunch spot: Wine, Women and Sushi, Somerset West, Cape Town

Samsung’s SOS function could save your life

I had quite an experience this past weekend that really made me sit up and start taking more notice of crime and safety.

My Fiancé was at the hairdresser on Saturday morning while I was playing a few rounds of golf on my Wii when I received an SMS from her that said the following: “I am in an emergency. Please help me.”. I started to panic thinking the worst – hijacking, kidnapping, etc. and immediately grabbed my car keys and sped out. Just before that I tried to call the cops – who were more than useless. The guy didn’t understand that my Fiancé was in an emergency and that could he get someone to go to the hairdresser in Gordon’s Bay immediately. I hung up the phone after the guy kept on repeating “Ehh, what must I do? What emergency?”.

I then jumped in my car and called her phone – which immediately answered. I could hear her in the car, with the radio on, but couldn’t hear anything else. I assumed she had sent the SMS somehow and was answering the phone in her pocket. This made me panic even more as I had no idea where she was heading – kidnapped and all. I was in a total panic as I was driving to get to the last place she was in Gordon’s Bay. Her sisters also got the SMS and were calling me, but I had no more information than they did.

3 minutes later I spotted her car at the robot, and there she was, looking all beautiful after being at the hairdresser. I stopped in the middle of the traffic and asked her where her phone was – and she opened her bag and showed it to me. It was a false alarm. I was totally relieved to see her safe and totally oblivious to what I had just gone through in the last 5 minutes.

Samsung’s SOS function

You see, she had activated a function on her phone that sends out an SMS to 4 people she specifies and the phone then goes into SOS mode and auto answers calls from only those people that got the SMS.

To activate it, you press the volume key 4 times while the phone is locked.

look-4-helpYes, the possibility of you actually being able to activate it in an emergency might be slim, but at least you have that possibility. Vodacom have a similar function called Look4Help that you can check out if you don’t own a Samsung.

Consider setting it up, it could just save your life.