Tag: apple

iPad: First impressions

Some of my friends and immediate family already knew this, but I got an iPad a couple of weeks ago. It was the 2nd of May to be exact, purchased in the US by a coworker who was there for a conference. As I’ve lamented about before, it is often tricky to get certain goods in Bermuda. If not tricky then expensive, as I paid a 25% import duty on the device plus the accessories. And although I wanted to write about my experiences sooner, I decided it would be best to hold out and wait until the initial fan-boy excitement wore off. I feel that three weeks in, the time is right.

For those who skim paragraphs, the iPad is amazing.

First a quick introduction. The Apple iPad is a device which is roughly 9.5” tall by 7.5” wide, which is essentially a tablet computer. It has a full screen with multitouch capabilities similar to the popular iPhone. If you’ve seen or used an iPhone the iPad will be very familiar. In fact most of the iPhone applications run on the iPad without change. However, the larger form-factor brings along certain key difference from the iPhone which I will outline in my discussion.


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May 22, 2010

iPhone decision

Here we are on the eve of the new iPhone 3G launch, and I can imagine that there are a lot of people out there sleeping in the streets waiting to be the first in line to get one. I would say, that in most countries, in most cities, that if you haven’t already ordered one, or are currently waiting in line, you likely won’t get one for at least a week or more. Has this ever happened for a phone before? Has this ever happened on this scale for anything before? Perhaps, but not recently.

That said, us Canadians have some potentially high rates to consider if wanting to buy an iPhone. Rogers, in typical Rogers fashion, has decided to not only charge upwards of $100 or more for the plans, which don’t even include unlimited data, but they are planning to lock people into 3 year contracts.

The UK on the other hand, seems to have it pretty well. For £35 monthly I could get 600 minutes of voice and 500 texts and unlimited data. All of that and only an 18 month contract—half of what we need here. It is almost enough to make you want to move to the UK. Which coincidentally enough, just might happen for me. I don’t really have any details, other than to say it is possible. But I would certainly be there long enough to fulfill one of these contracts.

So to answer everyone who has been asking, no I’m not getting an iPhone tomorrow. I want one, bad, but logistics and sanity have kept me from queuing up for the past few days. I will likely not get one in the next few months. If it looks like I’m not heading to the UK, then I will rethink my options, but until then I can wait. In the mean time I will download the iPhone SDK on my new Intel iMac and develop applications and play with them in the iPhone emulator. Perhaps if I make something useful and work related I can convince my company to adopt the iPhone. One can dream.

July 10, 2008

iMactastic

If it isn’t a word, it should be. At this moment, like a couple of weeks ago, I am typing an entry on a 24-inch iMac computer. The primary difference this time is that I own this one.

After a long hard battle with Fedex (I’ve never had a good experience with them), I finally managed to get a hold of my computer today. Although for a time there this morning, I thought that the fates were conspiring against me, when my two potential rides to the Fedex depot fell through. Not to be outdone, I went anyway on the bus/train and when I saw that my computer was a tad bit too awkward to carry home on transit, I took a cab.

Got home with it, and setup was a breeze. Like setting up a laptop, with the extra step of plugging in the keyboard. And of course the OSX setup is simple and easy, especially since I have been through it a few times before. Everything is as I would expect, and now I’m going through the process of getting her set up the way I like. I’ve already synched my contacts and email info over .Mac and the rest is just downloading a few applications and I am on my way.

Her name is Hekate for anyone following my progression through the primarily greek deities. Hekate (sometimes Hecate, although I chose the former spelling for my computer) is the greek goddess of magic, witchcraft, ghosts and various other spooky things. Generally considered to be a pretty powerful and bad-ass goddess, she was also benevolent and well respected. I’m hoping for similar things from my iMac. :)

July 5, 2008

From the Vancouver Apple Store

I’m typing this from the new Vancouver Apple Store.

On a 24 inch iMac no less. I’m surprised at how much I enjoy this new Apple keyboard. Just enough tactile feedback without the overburdening key travel. I will expand on my experience when I get home.

June 21, 2008

iPhone, it seems official

Anyone who followed the WWDC keynote today or has been on the Apple website today would know that there was some big news in the iPhone world. They introduced the 3G iPhone, to be released in 22 countries initially on July 11: one of which is Canada. Looking at the Rogers site, they too have a advertisement indicating something “big” coming July 11. They don’t say iPhone, but I think the allusion is clear now that Apple has released the news.

In addition to the wider availability, the new iPhone features GPS, Enterprise integration, and the faster speeds associated with the 3G network. There is also the new MobileMe concept, dubbed the “Exchange for the rest of us” which allows for exchange server-like synchronization across your devices: Macs, PCs and iPhones.

Exciting. This will be a long month. :)

June 9, 2008

Apple Store Vancouver!

For a long time, upper Canada — Toronto in particular — held the monopoly on Apple Stores in this country. I honestly never expected one to show up in Halifax, but I was surprised that my new city, Vancouver didn’t have one.

Well now it does. The new Apple Store in the Pacific Centre is right downtown, accessible via any number of buses and the Granville stop on the Skytrain. I suspect you will hear about my trip there in person sometime this week.

May 26, 2008

iPhone in Canada

Although beat to the punch in mentioning it by my brother Adam, I will make a cursory note that according to MacRumors, Apple has forged a deal with Rogers to bring the iPhone to Canada. It has been almost a year since the iPhone first released to much anticipation in the US, and it has been available in the UK for a few months now as well. As the article mentions, Apple is rumoured to be planning a release of a 3G iPhone in June. I also know that Rogers is rolling out coverage of HSPA (referred to as 3.5G) in urban areas in Canada. I’m not sure what will end up being available with the iPhone, but it being Canada I imagine that the plans will be pretty expensive.

Articles were recently written about Apple turning a smiling, blind eye to all of the statistics about the number of iPhones being purchased in the US, unlocked and then sold elsewhere in the world. There is some hope that Apple will soon offer iPhones available in an unlocked state for use with whatever network suits you.

April 29, 2008

bPhone

Since the iPhone isn’t officially available in Canada, those of us with strong Apple ties need to express our allegiances some other way. If you happen to have a BlackBerry, then you can do your part to make the experience more iPhone like with the bPhone theme. The site itself really shows what it is that you will be getting, but basically it is a theme which will make your BlackBerry resemble the iPhone. You still don’t get a touch screen, but it does make your icons nice and shiny and tweaks your colours and fonts to look nicer.

Thanks to Kevin DaCosta for planting the idea that there might be a theme like this, and my apologies for stealing your thunder with this amigo.

April 18, 2008

Mac Update Promotional Bundle

If you are a Mac user than this post is for you. If you aren’t, well, perhaps this bundle will tempt you over. I’m not saying that it will blow everyone away, but the current bundle from MacUpdate has some nice apps which you can get together for one low price.

The flagship app of this bundle is definitely Parallels. If you are running an Intel Mac, this program will allow you to install and run Windows and Windows applications along side your Mac programs. Unlike Apple’s Bootcamp, this doesn’t require you to choose between Mac OS X and Windows, it allows the two to co-exist at the same time.

Beyond that, there are some applications for helping you organize your files and documents, edit audio files, maintain global keyboard snippets and rip DVD content to your iPod or other format. For the full list and a much better description, visit the MacUpdate Promo site.

Oh, and this is a time limited offer, going until April 29th. Spread the word, the more they sell, the more applications are available.

April 17, 2008

Recovering from Disaster

Some people may not call it a “disaster”, but in today’s digital world the loss of digital data, is in most people’s minds, a disaster. Loss of a carefully crafted music library is one thing, but what about family photos that can never be re-created, or the years of work invested in a dissertation? Obviously there is a need to safe guard this data.

The following is an account of my experience with my 15” Powerbook G4 failing 31 December, 2007. I awoke that morning not suspecting anything was wrong, looking forward to ushering in the new year, although not looking forward to ending my vacation. However, when I tapped my trackball to wake up the screen, I was greeted with… nothing. No response. Rebooting brought my computer back on, but things were not right. In addition to constant waiting for file system operations, some of my desktop scripts were yielding unusual results. Then finally it hung completely again and I was force to do a hard power-down. All subsequent attempts at booting resulted in the prohibitory sign (grey circle with a slash through it) appearing. It wouldn’t boot at all. My computer was dead.
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January 12, 2008

She's Alive!

I really don’t want to jinx it, but I’m going to start anyway. At this very moment, my laptop is (re)installing Leopard. Granted I lost the original hard drive in the process, but I’m just so happy to see her back up and kicking that I really don’t care. I just needed to buy a new hard drive, the one I found was 120 GB, 20 GB more than before. And thanks to Time Machine, I have everything backed up. One might say that a bootable version of my hard drive would be nice to simply restore, but I think that the clean install of Leopard will be beneficial in that it should be a bit faster, and this way I can bring over only those files I really need, allowing for a bit of house cleaning.

And after two years, things were getting a bit dusty in the corners. Unlike my Windows days, when I would re-format the drive after each term just to maintain stability, the Mac chugs on without complaint. Thinking back to my first Powerbook, which is still kicking, but ailing in several ways, there are probably files on there that haven’t been touched in close to five years.

But like my apartments and residences of yesteryear, I tend to accumulate a pile of junk which is never disposed of on my hard drive.

  • Applications which I tested and rejected.
  • A stockpile of short video clips which can be safely archived.
  • 40+ GB of photos which I have backed up to multiple DVDs.
  • Many, many other files, like old school files, etc.

Anyway, off to tend to my installation.

January 7, 2008

Laptop Update

Still dead. However, I have learned the following:

  • Resetting the PRAM and the NVRAM did not help.
  • I wasn’t able to boot from the CD or Hard drive even explicitly from Open Firmware.
  • I cannot boot from a Macbook Pro in Target Disk mode, although I can see the drive in my options.
  • The aforementioned MBP could not boot from my hard drive although it too could see it in the boot options.
  • Mounting my target disk mode Powerbook to the MBP would allow it to mount. I could access it from the shell (Terminal) and was able to list the root folder.
  • Navigating into the /System/Library/CoreServices/ folder, I verified that BootX was there.
  • All folders under /Users/ were missing. That sucks.

So, after all that, I still don’t know what the problem is. I’ve stumped those I work with, and I can’t seem to find a similar problem on the Internet. I’m not sure a call to Apple Support is going to help, and since I’m out of warranty, it is likely to be costly. I’d like to extract my drive and try it in an enclosure, but 2.5 inch Firewire enclosures are not easy to come by in Bermuda.

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

January 4, 2008

iTunes TV Shows in Canada

I've been waiting a long time, and while I'm not sure if I'll use the service at this point, TV shows are now available to Canadian iTunes Music Store users. I'm not sure what the selection is like, but I'm going to find out.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but the selection is pretty much just Canadian network shows. Not that there is anything wrong with them, but I just don't follow any of them. Still though... it's a start.
December 12, 2007

Leopardized

I took the plunge. I made the upgrade from Tiger to Leopard on my aging Powerbook, and so far, all is wonderful. Well, there have been some problems, but these aren't things which the normal user would run into I suspect. Apparently Apache on Leopard has been upgraded to Apache 2, versus the older version Tiger shipped with. Since my setup here contains dozens of virtual hosts, I found upon upgrade that they didn't work. I half expected that to be the case since I have been burned by system updates before, even point updates of the system sometimes would provide a new httpd.conf file. Fortunately I have all of my virtual hosts defined in a separate file, which just needed to be copied to the new location.

For anyone interested, the built-in web server's configuration files on Tiger are in /private/etc/httpd/. In Leopard, look in /private/etc/apache2/. Also I had to turn on Web Sharing in the Shared System Preference pane.

That was the extent of my negative experience with the upgrade however, everything else has been fine. I have enabled Time Machine on my drive and while I haven't needed it yet, and I hope never to, I did take a look at the interface and it is great. One of the things about backups is that people just don't bother. There are a number of reasons people give for that, but I think that they are getting weaker and weaker. With 500 GB drives available for $120 the cost of media isn't really a factor anymore. Now with Time Machine not only are full drive incremental backups easier, they are also really neat. And that is the key, people might try something that is easy, especially if they are aware of the value, as I am. But the real trick to get people to try something important because it is cool, regardless of whether or not they recognize the importance. I think Apple has done a good job on that front.

A lot of people have been complaining about the new visual changes in Leopard and how bad some of them are. I honestly don't see what the big deal is with most of them. I for one, haven't seen much to complain about, and generally if there are interface problems, I will be right there to mention them. I guess everyone uses their system a bit differently and you can't please everyone, and while there isn't anything visually about Leopard which makes me stop and take notice, I am quite willing to adapt to new environments, which is what I have been doing since Jaguar.

I for one am also not jaded by the new stacks on the Dock which have some power users up in arms. I guess the primary reason I don't care about the change is that I never used folders in the Dock before. It had never occurred to me to do that. After I heard about stacks I created my own Downloads folder and put it on my Dock, which was nice, but since it didn't contain a hierarchy of subfolders the change in functionality across the upgrade isn't noticeable. One thing that I have found that I would like now that I have heard of what others are doing are Application Stacks. These would be simply groupings of applications placed on the Dock's left side, which when you dragged a file to it, it would expand as the normal stacks do, allowing me to drop my file or whatever onto one of the stacked applications. Basically this would allow for grouping applications to minimize the unexpanded horizontal (or vertical) space. Applications could be in multiple groups if desired and the groups could be named by the user. Perhaps there is a third party Dock replacement application which does this. Launching apps in a stack can be accomplished now with a folder full of application aliases (or symlinks if you prefer), but things can't be dropped onto them that way. For me, the only reason I would have an application in the Dock other than those which are currently running (which I don't need either) would be to drag something to. I often drag files to VLC or Quicktime to play if I don't want to use the default. The same goes with photos dragged to my thumbnail generator as opposed to the default viewer. Now that I break it down, I don't really need the Dock at all, and might be more satisfied with a third party solution. I'll let you know.

I can see the new Screen Sharing application to be useful when troubleshooting my father's laptop via iChat regardless of our networking situations. Yes, all said, this is a nice upgrade, and there are a lot of minor changes that you don't even notice, but they are there and they all contribute to the overall feel of Leopard.

November 2, 2007

Yet another Mac user

Slowly but surely I am converting my family of computer savvy power users into computer savvy Mac power users. My father and my youngest brother have been Mac users for a couple of years now, happily going about their way on a system they can be happy with.

My oldest brother has always been on the fence about them. Not a user per se, but admiring them from afar. Which is a fair stance to take since they are more expensive machines, no question. It would be akin to admiring a beautiful leather couch or a 50" LCD TV if the money weren't there. However, unless you watch TV professionally, the odds are that the Mac is a better investment. And, if like my father, you can get your employer to buy you the computer, all the better. Such is the case now with my brother who is going to be the owner of a new black Macbook.

Now I need to work on my remaining brother and my mother to complete the Mac family unit. These are going to be tougher sells I think. I might have to wait until university softens my brother up a bit before I'll get that convert. Time will tell.

September 19, 2007

iPhone Unlocking

On the heels of Apple's announcement that one million iPhones have been sold in the 74 days since they were released, word is out on a new, freely available unlocking solution for the popular phone. The software and some basic instructions should be available for some time at their current locations before the legal wheels start rolling over them. Of course, the Internet being the way it is, they should always be available somewhere. Already mirrors of the files are popping up. It will be interesting to see what this does to iPhone sales once the procedure is simple enough for most people to be able to perform it. My guess is that Apple will find themselves with some serious international draw as this previously US-only device becomes available to the global community.
September 12, 2007

Weather

Bermuda: 15°C
Halifax: 0.3°C

Backpack: Get Organized and Collaborate
If the code and comments disagree, both are probably wrong. — Norm Schryer