Server Migration in Progress

2robots.com is currently getting a major server upgrade. Service may be a little spotty over the next few days, although I’ll try to keep that to a minimum. So far, only the main webserver (www.2robots.com) has been transfered over to the new server. Over the next few days, the rest of the hosted domains, as well as email services will be moved as well, and then the old server will be decommissioned. I’ll post more details when the move is complete.

Hear the Coffee — Day 1 of the Starbucks-iTunes Experience

Yesterday was the first day of the Apple-Starbucks partnership to bring iTunes integration to your local Starbucks. If you haven’t heard by now, the idea is that when you walk into a Starbucks and you have a laptop, iPhone, or iPod Touch, you will get a special Starbucks store with specific Starbucks music and a “now playing” option so you can check out what you are hearing over the speakers in the cafe. So, how does this work in practice in New York, one of two cities slated to have initial support for this integration?

Last night, my wife and I decided to wander around downtown Manhattan, stopping in at Starbucks with our iPhones and checking out the iTunes experience. My wife, spending a lot of time in Starbucks, was quite interested to play around with the iTunes store while she was listening to the (usually tasteful) Starbucks music. Myself, not being as large of a coffee fanatic, was much more interested in the “free song coupons” Starbucks is handing out for the next month.

Our first stop was the World Financial Center, where there is a small Starbucks with no seating. We were somewhat apprehensive if a smaller shop like this would have wi-fi. Promisingly, we saw signs outside the door showing off their iTunes integration to businessman (and women) passerby’s. We whipped out out iPhones (yes, we’re that cool. If only we had been wearing those black leather trench coats from The Matix), and pushed the new “iTunes” button that showed up after the 1.1.1 iPhone update.

“Unable to connect to iTunes store,” both our phones complained. We went to the clerk. “Sorry, we don’t have the ‘black box,” he said. We would hear more of this ‘black box’ later in the evening. Apparently, the goal of several enormous signs outside the Starbucks there was to trick people into thinking they could access the iTunes store, whereas there was no intention of offering any sort of wi-fi service. We left, refusing to buy coffee there.

Our next stop was the Starbucks on Broadway, near Wall Street. This one is sort of hidden if you don’t know its there, but inside it is fairly spacious. Not as large as the monstrous city-block Starbucks, but bigger than the typical Barnes & Nobles Starbucks. Again, we whipped out our iPhones, and this time a “Starbucks” icon appeared in the iTunes store app. While waiting for it to load, we argued about the song playing at the time — Mr Tambourine Man. My wife insisted that it was Bob Dylan, although I thought it was actually Paul McCartney. After arguing this for some time, we noticed that the store wasn’t coming up. So, we went to the clerk.

“Thanks for telling us,” she said. “We’ve been having problems with our ‘Black Box’ all day, but we have no way of telling if it’s working.” Hmm. This wasn’t sounding very promising. I don’t quite understand how Starbucks can install wi-fi routers in their cafe’s, but not even provide a green light or something so that the employees know if its working. “It’s too bad,” she continued. “I’ve been dying to see how it works.” This was already after 9:00pm. Hmm … all day, and she hadn’t seen it work once. We ordered coffees (she had been helpful, after all), and we were surprised to be handed two “free song cards” for the iTunes store. Cool.

The way these cards work, btw, is that each card is for a specific song. There are 32 songs in all, and you can’t choose which card you get. So, your first 10 songs or so will be great, but eventually you will start to get duplicates. Since you can only get 1 card per day, per person, it will be a lot of lattes before you get all 32 songs. Still, it’s a great incentive. My wife and I were planning how we could go to different Starbucks and order a cookie or biscotti at each one, until we got all the cards. Then we realized it would cost us something like $100 in cookies and Frapacinos to get $32 worth of songs. Only the heavy caffeine addict need apply.

Ever onwards, we headed to a random Starbucks that happened to be on our way home. It was a bit off the main street, but it was bigger than either of the previous ones we had been to. As we arrived, they were stacking the stools on the table, and not allowing new customers in. Being persistent, we huddled outside the window in the gathering cold and tried one final time. Unfortunately, like the first, this Starbucks didn’t appear to have any wi-fi presence whatsoever. Bummer.

Three Starbucks in downtown Manhattan, one of the showcase cities for this promotion, and we had nothing to show for it but a caffeine high and 2 free songs on iTunes. We were disappointed with the technology, but we considered it to be a positive night as a whole. When they stop giving out free song cards next month though, they’d better have the Starbucks iTunes store working, because a caffeine high with no music to listen to is a bad combination.

By the way, it was Bob Dylan singing Mr Tambourine Man.

New iPhone Game: Tetroku

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve released a second iPhone game. This one is a cross between Tetris and Soduku, called “Tetroku!”

If you like either of those games, there are elements here for you to get addicted to. The full version is available from iGiki.com, but the demo version is available here for free on the iPhone, and is also playable in Firefox (sorry IE users).

You can also check out my previous iPhone game, Space Wormy, also known as Canyon Crawler.

As always, feedback is welcome!