Archive for the 'Gadgets' Category

Wine Software review: Bennalsoft Technologies > Wine Tripper – British Columbia Edition

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by an employee of Bennalsoft Technologies, who asked if I might be interested in reviewing an iPhone app of theirs, Wine Tripper – British Columbia Edition. Being both the iPhone and wine geek that I am, I was pretty eager to give it a go, so I said, “Sure!” I also figured that with all the visitors that are set to visit our province for the Olympics next month, this could be a very timely app to have on hand.

You can download it here.

OK, let’s get down to having a look at Wine Tripper.

Let’s have a look at the “Region Map” section.It takes you to a Google Map of BC and shows drop-pins on all of BC’s wineries. You can then zoom in and click on the pin for more info on that winery – nice feature.

When you click on “View Wines” in the next screen, you’d think it would take you to a list of the winery’s current line-up, but nope. What you get taken to is a “Your Wines” screen, which both lists and allows you to add wines from this winery to your personal wine list. It would be really nice if each winery’s selection of wines were already in here and easily selectable. Instead, you have to manually enter the wine.

One thing of note here is that in the “Varietal” box, if you tap to go in and edit, there is no way to simply input text (as you would need to if the wine were to be a blend of more than one grape). What you’re taken to is a sortable drop-down list with single varietals. They’ll have to fix this – maybe by adding a simple text edit icon/button. I tried tapping on the varietal, hoping that would take me to a text input screen, but no luck.

I also think that for wines whose names are just the varietal, that should be a choice in the wine name menu. The wine’s name should also be below the winery’s name and varietal on the entry screen. That’s my personal opinion.

OK, back to the home screen. Let’s have a look at the “Wineries” section. You’re taken to the following screen with its selectable sub-sections.

Tapping on “Alphabetical” brings up a pretty comprehensive list of BC Wineries (though I didn’t see Brad Cooper’s Black Cloud Winery in there):

Tapping on a winery’s name allows you to do all the same stuff that the winery screen in the map did – add wines, view wines, etc.

Back to the “Wineries” screen. Tapping “City” brings up a list of cities in BC that have at least 1 winery, sorted alphabetically:

Without starting to sound too much like a broken record, going back to the “Wineries” screen allows you to view BC wineries in each category – “Area“, “Rating” (sorted by your rating, though having the ability to synch with others using the program would be great to see how others have rated a particular winery), “Favorites” (side note to the developers – we spell “Favourites” with a “U” up here in Canada – and this is a Canadian wine region app) and “Proximity” (which uses the iPhone’s GPS to locate you and show wineries that are close-by in a list, sorted by actual physical distance from your location). A cool feature to add here would be to view other users of the program who may be nearby so you can organize tasting groups.

Back to the home screen again… Let’s have a look at the “Your Wines” section. The first thing you see there is this screen:

Once you’ve entered the data for a wine, you can then view your personal list of wines from this winery. Tapping the “Alphabetical” menu item takes you into a list of any wines you have saved, and obviously enough puts them in alphabetical order. One thing that became apparent as I used the app was that the page titles don’t really synch with where you are in the app. I’m in the “Alphabetical” list of my wines, but the page title I’m seeing is simply, “Your Wines”. I constantly had no idea what sub-section I was currently browsing. It would be nice to see a fix for that.

Now here’s another sign of things going wrong. Why can I rate and make notes on the wine now, but couldn’t when I initially entered the wine? The new wine screen should look exactly like what I’m seeing here, if you ask me. That’s a pretty big usability blunder.

Back to the “Your Wines” menu and into the “Varietal” section. Oops! I had 3 wines entered. Why do I only see 2 here?? Another app bug found. The program isn’t listing my Quinta Ferreira Estates Viognier at all (which was very tasty and will be reviewed later this week). That needs to be fixed.

OK, it’s back to the “Your Wines” menu we go and into the “Winery” section. Again, the program isn’t listing the Quinta Ferreira Estates winery, which I had entered. Another glitch… Again, that needs to be fixed.

All right, it’s back to the “Your Wines” menu we go and into the “Rating” section…. and again, the program isn’t listing the Quinta Ferreira Estates winery, which I had entered. Another glitch… Again, that needs to be fixed. I’m staring to feel like a broken record here.

So, let’s head back to the “Your Wines” menu we go and into the “Favorites” section (there’s that US spelling again). Well, if it isn’t the previously missing, Quinta Ferreira Estates Viognier! Maybe flagging it as a favourite hid it in other screens? No idea, but it’s nice to see it wasn’t lost completely.

OK, so that’s it… whew! What Bennalsoft has here is a really nice start to a BC wine program. I really like the map and proximity features… and I really don’t like the missing wine glitches and the US spelling (maybe that’s just me).

All in all the current version is just OK. It’s maybe worth a try, but the $2.99 price tag may be a bit more than I’d pay right now.

2.5  stars


Wine blogging from my iPhone

This is the first post from my iPhone. I can’t say this is something I’ll do too often, but this could evolve into a very cool tool to have at festivals or tastings. 🙂

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Unique Video Training with Special Guest Gary Vaynerchuk!, a local company specializing in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is hosting an event that might appeal to you wine folks and aspiring video bloggers – Video Training with Special Guest Gary Vaynerchuk!

You probably know Gary and his Vayniacs through his video wine blog, Wine Library TV, that has taken the net by storm. He breaks down the stuffy barriers of wine and has a lot of fun doing so. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious.

It will be held in’s office in downtown Seattle on June 28th from 9am – noon and costs $200 for the session. Each participant gets a Flip Video Camera and a copy of Gary’s new book, 101 Wines: Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World. GaryV will be there at 11:15am.

This should be a pretty damned fun and informative event.

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Wine – Win a Sub-Zero Wine Refrigerator

Sub-Zero Wine, the makers of the fine Sub-Zero Wine Refrigerator, are holding an online contest. The Sub-Zero 424FS Free-Standing Wine Storage unit features five shelves and a 46-bottle capacity. Go and enter for your chance to win a wine fridge of your own. 🙂


Gadgets – Wow, the iPhone!

01092007b.jpgMan, ages ago, one of my first posts was about my trouble finding a phone that had the features I wanted. Today, Apple hit the nail on the head: the iPhone was released at MacWorld!

This phone is gadget heaven (specs courtesy of the folks over at Gizmodo):

  • Screen size: 3.5 inches
  • Screen resolution: 320 by 480 at 160 ppi
  • Input method: Multi-touch (that’s touchscreen, people!)
  • Operating system: OS X (you read that right. the Mac OSX on a PHONE!)
  • A fully-functioning iPod
  • Auto-rotate screen for video and web browsing
  • Storage: 4GB or 8GB
  • GSM: Quad-band (MHz: 850, 900, 1800, 1900)
  • Wireless data: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) + EDGE + Bluetooth 2.0
  • Camera: 2.0 megapixels
  • Battery: Up to 5 hours Talk / Video / Browsing, Up to 16 hours Audio playback
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches
  • Weight: 4.8 ounces / 135 grams

This is unbelievable… OK, I’m a gadget geek, but you have to admit it’s cool. Of course I have no idea when it’ll be available here in Canada… It comes out in June in the US exclusively on Cingular and will cost $499 (4GB) or $599 (8GB) on a two-year plan.


Gadgets – my Powerbook G4

11152006.jpgWell now. On the positive side: I have a shiny new 100GB drive in my Powerbook… on the negative side: my old drive died and like a bad divorce, it took everything with it. Thank god it’s not my main computer.

This goes to show that Macs, just like PC’s aren’t infallible. Remember to back up your data.

The guys at Mac Station were great. They got my beloved laptop up and running quickly and after an afternoon of installs, I’m almost back to normal with it.

Although I almost did a trade-in on a new Macbook Pro, I managed to escape without spending more than the repair cost. If anyone feels like hiring me for a big ‘ol contract so I can justify this, feel free. 🙂

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Gadgets – new iPod shuffle

11102006.jpgI gave in and bought one of these today… Carrying my 60GB video iPod while running was getting tedious. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Wow. How small can these things get? Have you seen them?? They hold 1GB of music (~240 songs), are roughly 4 x 2.5cm and weigh half an ounce! Jesus. The real selling point for me was that it also has a built-in clip that’ll hold onto my shorts when I run, or my jersey when I’m out cycling. Put it on, run and forget you’re attached. So nice.

Click on the picture to go check it out in the Apple Canada store.

$89 CDN

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Media – The new Sony Bravia ad

10222006a.jpgA little while back, I linked out to the Sony Bravia ad with all the bouncy balls (that sounds vaguely obscene… or painful) and now I’ll link to their new ad.

They just seem to have something great going on when it comes to original, beautiful advertising. Well done.

** Check out the making of the new commercial.

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TV – Possibly the best commercial EVER

06212006.jpgCheck out this ad for the new Sony Bravia TV. That is one of the most amazing commercials I’ve ever seen. Maybe I’m just a sucker for superballs, but that must have been a GAS to make… You can check out a Flickr set that shows the process they went through. Very cool.

The song is also great. It’s “Heartbeats” by José Gonzalez.

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The Internets – The Philips Bodygroom

I thought this was hilarious… I came across it on Darren Barefoot’s blog: the Philips Bodygroom. Being a road cyclist, I’ve been shaving my legs every summer for years. On the Bodygroom site, they encourage you to take it the extra mile. Click “Where to Shave” off the main menu and then choose “Groin and Posterior“. Funny stuff.

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