Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lifestyle changes due to Apple

Although to my generation of friends it seems to them that I'm the first to adopt a new product but I am actually a little behind the times. It is only recently that I have untied the ropes that bound me to my desk and it was in part thanks to my iPhone.
Several years ago, I untied myself from a land line phone by redirecting all calls to my cell phone and subsequently canceling my land line once everyone was aware of my new cell number.

Canceling my cable subscription was my next step as the internet provided all my cable needs. Today, NetFlix supplies all the movies that I want to watch for only $8/month.

Like most of my peers in my generation, I was at the point where I don't like change especially when a product like my old HTC touch windows mobile cellphone, had served me well for three years; the old motto of why pay more for something you don't need. However it was old tech and it was because of the 320x200 screen that made me hesitate to accept email or browse the internet on the device. When my contract ended on December of 2010 that I decided that I would take a leap of faith to the iPhone since the iPad had proven itself to be a usable product.

So today's blog is about how my work habits has changed.

In the past, as a photographer, I would write down my assignments on a small pocket book calendar, scribble notes on a large notepad and if I had to travel to my assignment, I would google the address, then print out the directions.

Today on my iPhone:
1. email received with date, time and address for assignment.
2. tap on date-time to add event in calendar
3. tap address to search google maps
4. sync with Mac to ensure backup of calendar.

Everything is on my iPhone including calendar, notes, contacts and addresses; if I were to lose my iphone, all this info is on my desktop and sync'ing a new iphone to my desktop will restore everything including my apps.

I hardly use my desktop computer with exception of photoshop for photos and the occasional blog.

My server provides an iTunes home share for sharing with my Apple TV; selecting, converting and adding new movies can all be done via my iphone. Torrents for new movies are all done via RDP (remote desktop protocol) via iPhone/iPad to my torrent program running on my server.

Air video also allows me to stream any movie in any format from my server to my iPhone or iPad as well as converting any movie (mkv,avi, wvm) to Apple TV format.

I can watch a netflix movie on the Apple TV, pause the show and resume watching the same movie on my iPhone/iPad.

In addition, I can upload a movie to my iphone and air share the movie from my iphone to the Apple TV. Music on my iphone/ipad can be air shared to my apple TV with a simple tap. This seamless portability was only a dream a few years ago but is now a reality with the apple products.

Although it may be true that the Android line of products may provide similar seamless portability, Android is still in its development infancy. For example, Netflix is still being develop as of this writing, as well as TomTom voice navigation is still not available on Android.

In addition my iphone/ipad can control Apple TV remotely thus the idea of having distributed media clients around the house is now a reality where music/movie sharing is now possible using wifi-n and remotely controlling all the units.

I've defected over to the Apple camp for a good reason and thanks to Apple my lifestyle has completed the final change and I have settled in.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Movies on the Go

Recently I signed up for Netflix on the Canadian Side and the reason that I state Canadian Side is according to the internet our choices of movies is much less then our southern U.S. Cousin due to copyrights, which I am unable to verify since I am redirected to the Canadian site due to my IP. Although I could use a proxy, just to check out the selection, it is best that I don't torture myself.

Despite the slimmer pickings, Netflix is still what we have been waiting for since the delivery of the home PC; a library of movies at your fingertips on demand.

In order for companies like Netflix to work is that you must remember that that these are not the most current releases of movies. In fact the latest movie is about 6 months old and some of the more popular movies like Avatar is not yet available although the icon is up for display. "When Harry met Sally", "Back to the Future", all my old time favorites are also not available.

Now I do have the DVD's for these and they are part of my private collection for home theatre viewing. So it isn't that I am dependent on Netflix for all my home theatre needs.

Netflix works on a plethora of devices and certainly my iPhone, iPad and my most recent purchase, Apple TV, all work without a hitch. I can have up to 6 authorized devices on my account and resume watching any movie on any device. Thus I was getting sleepy watching a movie on the couch, I resumed the same movie on my iPhone and headed to bed. Since I fell asleep before the movie ended, I continued watching on my computer this morning while I answered my mail and posted this blog.

At Wendy's, I was able to scroll through a large selection of movies and simply picked an older movie for entertainment while I devour my evening meal.

There are movies that I definitely never want to watch, but the choices are there and since it is unlimited, someday I may choose to catch up TV shows such as Weeds, Chris Angel and much more.

Although the movie quality is 720p and at times depending on the bandwidth such as my IPad 3g, the quality dropped down to a pixelated mess, the movie was still watchable. At home, through Wifi N, I am able to get a consistent 720p with 5.1 surround sound on certain movies.

Netflix for $8 a month augments my meager home theatre selection and it the freedom to watch unlimited along with a library that is bigger then mine that makes Netflix a nice addition to my array of Apple entertainment products.

If you want blue-ray 1080p quality, netflix is not for you, but if you simply want to watch a quick movie, no download times, then netflix could be a nice addition to your tv selection.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

10 Intelligent Reason for Buying an Iphone 4

Most Window users prefer either a Windows phone 7 or Google Android for the simple reason that it is not an Apple device. In fact anything related to Apple is usually considered a consumer market device and anyone who buys an Apple product is usually an uninformed buyer or an idiot.

If you show an Android user a fantastic IPhone App, they will either say "its stupid!" because it hasn't been ported over to Android or conversely say "Android has it and their phone only cost half as much as your IPhone".

Most buyers are uninformed and for most, it is a no-brainer that the IPhone is the phone to get but it usually because a co-worker, neighbor, friend or family member has bought one.

The usual response on

Q. why did you buy the IPhone 4?
A. it was hard to get so I had to pre-order mine.

So I have decided that it is time for all IPhone users to upgrade their credibility and provide an infallible quip for any Apple haters.

I've spent over 30 years on various PC, pocket PC's, Windows Mobile, linux open source and I know why I bought an IPhone 4 and it is not because everyone has one.

So lets begin... remember lying is acceptable when defending yourself against the Androids
  1. My IPhone 4 $20 corporate plan came with a great unlimited data plan, 400 phone minutes with unlimited long distance but the package was only with an IPhone 4.
  2. I needed a particular app (you have to do some research on what apps are available to only the IPhone 4 and not on Android) e.g. Tom Tom GPS software and Air Video, both are apps that the Android currently does not support. Although Google Maps with voice is the alternative on Android but it still requires the internet for accessing GPS maps. Tom Tom is a standalone app that does not require internet access which allows you to use it outside your country without paying for the $3 a MB charge.
  3. I am using both Mac devices an IPhone and an IPad and I needed my apps to run on both. Currently there are only one upcoming Android device that might be an IPad killer but it might be at least a year before Android Pads and Android phones work harmoniously together.
  4. I am a Doctor that only medical software runs on the IPad and IPhone. A lot of apps are being developed for the Medical field due to the portability of the IPad.
  5. I want to watch my downloaded movies on my IPhone anywhere, streamed from my home server. Currently only the IPhone and IPad supports Air Video that streams and converts in real time to a format that is playable on both IPhone and IPad. This app is still in development on Android.
  6. I got my IPhone for $50 compared to the $100 Android phone. When asked where? tell them that your Uncle Bob that works at Bell got you this great plan.
  7. I am a software developer and in the process of converting my Android apps over to the Apple Platform.
  8. My company is paying for the phone and has converted from Palm/Blackberry to the IPhone. Most Android users will rate users of a Palm and Blackberry's below that of IPhone. So it is a step up and stating that your company is paying for it means that you didn't have a choice in your selection; unless you own your own company but even then if you say it quick enough they may not realize or remember that you are self employed.
  9. I really wanted the HTC Desire but it was too expensive but I found this IPhone 4 on craigslist for only a $100. I think it is stolen, but I bought it anyway...
  10. I buy all the phones as they come out just to play with them. I am only carrying the IPhone 4 because it was the last phone that I tested. The HTC desire is still in the box waiting for me to do a un-boxing video.

I won't guarantee that an Android user will believe you or find any of the above reasons to be acceptable; therefore you must be prepared to refute any arguments they may have by doing the research before buying the IPhone 4.

My reasoning was that my corporate plan was expiring and in order to keep it I had to renew and since I will be adding data to my $20/month plan, I figure that IPhone 4 would be a great play around phone for the next 3 years.

Also I am looking into developing for the Apple platform, seeing if I can be the creator of the next "got to have" app for the IPhone; although this is more dubious in acceptability then "I am a doctor that needs doctor apps".

If none of the above reasoning are acceptable and if you have to make up an excuse, just don't say "oh I had to have that nice shiny thin phone"!

If in doubt, just smile and say nothing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I am feeling guilty but enjoying every moment!!

So my PC, Android, Windows Mobile phone buddies are making me feel guilty and rightly so for buying into the biggest closed system on the market where Steve Jobs dictates to me what software that I'm allowed to run (eg. no flash for website browsing), no external SD card, no upgradability on either battery pack or hard drive, but somehow I am addicted and have been happily assimilated into the Apple culture.

The most interesting thing about Apple is the experience!!

From the single IPad purchase, I've expanded my Apple ownership to a Mac Mini as well as an IPhone 4. One thing that you cannot accuse me of is blind marketing purchase as this is the first time that I actually invested time and effort in the research before making an informed decision to buy each Apple product.

It all starts with a great user experience. On the Mac Mini, even with a 2.4Ghz duo cpu, about 30-50% less power then my already outdated Quad 3ghz system, I am never left with the feeling that the Mac Mini was underpowered. In fact with the new IPhoto 11 to create Wedding photo albums, Garage Band to record my Piano Midi music and VM Fusion to run old Window apps, I am totally stoked on learning a new operating system as well as feeling satiated; a feeling that I haven't felt for a long time even with the introduction of Windows 7.

With Microsoft Windows, it was always the feeling of the Same ol, Same ol windows. It was never a breath of fresh air as it is with the Mac. In all my days of computers since the late 1970's, this is the first time that I could actually say that I'm having fun with my computer.

It is the user experience. With the IPad that I use as my Portfolio, it simply displays my Photos in stunning colors and resolution that sells my work to my clients. Pass the IPad to anyone and they are immersed into my world of photos without having to teach them how to navigate or where to navigate to see my photos. Squeeze and flick, the photos comes to life as though they were pages in a book.

Granted we had all these apps on phones before, but somehow the immersive experience on an IPad is just that much better. For the first time, internet browsing on a portable device has become fun and believe me, I had the first notebook computer, netbook, pocket PC and none of those devices has even come close in browsing the internet as it is on the IPad. The ability to zoom in on any part of the web page is a gift to my old age eyes. A quick swipe and the pages move.

After making an informed decision to buy the IPhone 4 today, after synching, all of my bought apps were loaded on my IPhone and worked immediately without having to re-purchase the same apps for my IPhone. One purchase works across all my Apple devices.

There is always something new to discover and it is a constant "Ahhhhh" moment that was always missing with the old windows environment. Perhaps it is just the fact that it is all new to me, but even with Windows 7 when there were things to discover, it was never an "ahhhh" moment.

From HD video recording, ibooks, a 5 megapixel camera, internet, video streaming, games, the list is endless and yes you will find all these functions on an Android phone, but somehow discovering these features on the IPhone is more refreshing.

The neat thing is that all three of my Apple products works together and I prefer a closed system of three rather then an open system like android of one.

ps. IBook bookmarks will sync between the IPhone and IPad so if you were reading on the IPhone and decided to continue reading on the IPad, sync the two devices and your bookmarks are copied.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The 3G experience

Back in the days of old when.dinosaurs wandered in our back yards and mobile connectivity meant tethering off your cell phone via a sync cord, it was a hassle in getting everything set up.

The 3G sim card in the iPad makes working on the Internet seamless as it is as simple as dragging out your iPad whenever you need to work and hitting the sleep button when it is time to move on. You can continue your work anywhere and anytime.

Right now I am touch typing on the iPad's on screen keyboard albeit slower then my normal keyboard but certainly quite usable.

However with 3G turned on I am automatically connected to the internet when I turn on my iPad with no cords attached; it is all self contained without having to switch on a separate device or creating a connection. It is simply a joy to use.

Right now I have 7 days remaining on my 3G monthly plan and still have 4Gb of data usage left. I have spent 2 hours at McDonald watching a movie streamed by air video from my home server, downloaded dozens of apps and surfed at least a dozen websites using a grand total of 230Mb of data. 5Gb is a lot of data if you are just generally surfing the Internet.

Having 3G on my iPad is certainly a luxury but having it may soon change my working habits as I sit at McDonald or star bucks more often.


Why Apple is doing it right!

Recently I upgraded my aging netbook with a SSD flash drive, added more memory and upgraded the OS to Windows 7. I am waiting from ebay the wifi N + bluetooth mini pci-e card so my netbook will become a whole new machine with an upgrade expenditure of less then $175.

However despite the faster flash hd drive, snappier response of windows 7, it pales in comparison to my IPad in terms of usability.

1. Internet browsing, Emailing.

The IPad does this with grace despite the missing flash. I can get my google news, BBC news, ABC news, the Vancouver Sun, check facebook, retrieve my email with a sidebar visualization similar to text messaging on my phone. In addition, free apps from the Apple Apps store personalizes certain webpages so they become an integrate part of your IPad like wiki becomes a encyclopedia of sorts in a ebook format. Ebay is an app that interfaces to ebay with your personalized account info right at your finger tips.

Internet browsing becomes a cloud type application where front ends are built on the IPad giving you the feeling that application is completely on your IPad with the back-end being the internet. It is almost like EBay on your IPad rather then browsing ebay on the net.

Lastly, the internet browser is great for old eyes like mine. When I need to bring up a section of text for reading, I simply spread my fingers over the area that I want to zoom into, and the text becomes several size larger. Zooming out is simply pinching the screen until you can see the overall page.

No matter how every company wants to emulate the Apple UI, they just don't have the smoothness of Apple. Want to move the web page around to see the hidden section, just poke your finger in the middle of the web page and drag the page around.

My htc touch with opera offers the same ability but when I poke the screen and attempt to drag the page around, it thinks I've selected a hyperlink and follows through to what-ever I had accidentally poked.

My contact scroll on my HTC touch is a good example of this almost but not quite Apple UI emulation. It is annoying as hell as I attempt to scroll down my contact list, with that famous apple single finger flick and the contacts scrolls by in an animated roledex fashion, but instead, my phone thinks that my finger poke is a selection of what-ever my finger happen to poke. So as long as I'm careful I get the apple flick scroll, but most of the time I get a random contact selection and I have to start all over from the top of my contact list.

Apple has it right. In the last two weeks playing with my IPad, a flick scroll is a flick scroll, moving web pages moves the web pages around and a firm finger poke on a selection takes me into the next web page. It is intuitive and precise. None of this half and half stylus and finger interpretation of most mobile phone pc.

2. The App store.

No matter how popular Google Android will become, the app store is Apple's biggest asset to the mobile world. At my finger tips and a joy for impulse buyers are thousands of applications ready for install on the IPad. A single click (Install) is all it takes to buy an App and since each app is priced at around 99 cents to a few dollars, you are virtually being drained a buck at a time.

This is the same for the music world of iTunes and soon to follow is the iBook store. A single click on a bored day at the office will buy you the latest spy thriller from the virtual book store without getting out of your chair.

For those who are frugal, there are thousands of free to try apps and you can even keep your credit card info out of the registration, for free apps. When bored, simply search the keyword "free" on the app store and all the free applications will be displayed. It is a gourmet sampling of some of the most interesting apps that will keep you occupied for hours.

In comparison, my HTC touch requires searching and downloading from my PC, install is through active sync that leaves a copy on my PC as well as an install copy on my phone.

Although these days, I simply copy all my needed apps to my micro SD card and I install my apps from the SD; however I cannot sample new apps easily.

Despite all the discontent of how Apple is a closed system, the Apple store does filter the malevolent apps from the good ones.

3. Battery life.

Instant on. A month of standby, 10 hours of continuous wifi web browsing, 9 hours if you are using 3g. 6 days of music playback, 10 hours of movies.

My netbook pales in comparison. Netbook has 2 or 3 days of standby or perhaps a week in hibernation but once it hibernates, it takes at least 15 seconds to recover. Max usage with Wifi on is about 1.5 hours and sometimes a max of 2 hours. Play a game or watch a movie for a max of 2 hours. Add a six cell battery to up the time and you have just added a couple of lbs to your netbook making it bulky.

4. The Apple experience.
Did you notice that despite the large number of Apple haters out there, they are all secretly waiting for Android or some other OS to emulate what Apple already has?
- multitouch which gives you the ability to play a chord on a virtual piano on the iPad, pinch to zoom out, spread your fingers to zoom in, finger flick to scroll.
- fast screen update with 3d graphics despite the low power cpu that all PC users snickers at
- accelerometer that makes all games that uses it interesting.
- add a pogo stylus and you can write on the ipad like a notepad.
- even the 3g from rogers can be bought and switched on/off/cancelled directly on the IPad without a phone call to Rogers. Add 3g when needed, cancel when not.

Within the next year or so, more IPad like devices will be out in the market running android and some even Windows 7 as their OS. However since most of the apps are designed for mouse or keyboard operation, the experience will be mixed just like my HTC touch which some apps requires the use of the stylus with small click buttons while some newer apps allows me to poke at the buttons with my fingers.

Multi touch will work on some apps and will not on others as shown on one youtube flick on an android tablet as the speaker was trying to zoom in on one app without success.

One good thing about the Android devices is that almost everything from Google is free. If in a year or so, if Android or Window 7 pads offers a better pad experience, I'll be willing to take on a mistress :) but until then, Apple has dazzled me in its reality distortion field bubble.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My First Date with the IPad

As a PC enthusiast I never really had the urgency of buying into the Apple reality distortion products such as the Mac, the Iphone, Ipod touch and now finally the swelt looking IPad. Although I would occasionally feel the need to caress an Iphone, I firmly abstained from playing with the Apple products when I am near phone retail outlets and electronic stores for fear that I would be infused with the Apple product obsession.

However my need as a photographer was a method of carrying my portfolio easily to weddings or to any functions that will allow me show off my work. Although the IPod touch was a great product, the small size was a deterrent to my photos and plus the fact that I always thought of the IPod touch as a music player more then a work tool.

It was the IPad's advertisement of its ability to display photos with relative ease and speed that baited me for the first look and subsequently my first touch at the computer store. The thinness was so alluring that I could feel my "buy me now" hormones kicking in. I did not give in to buy the product right away on my first date.

It wasn't until my 3rd date at the computer store and countless hours of researching on the internet that I finally popped the question "will you be my ipad?"

With credit card in hand, I was ready to move a Mac product into my life not knowing how my PC products would feel about a foreign OS amongst our midst of Microsoft products.

The unboxing of the IPad was unmistakable electrifying as it sat naked in the Apple box. Shimmering and thin, I had never had anything that was as sexy as this product. I quickly covered up her assets in the IPad case that was also made by Apple. Even the case hugged the Ipad's curves and almost made it look more thinner by the protruding tapered edges.

With trepidation, I searched and downloaded Apple's Itune product and installed this foreign program on my PC. Connected the IPad to the usb port and I spent the next half hour trying to create an Apple app store account. The problem being that my password could not be Apple666 since repeating numerics were not allowed.

I knew that the PC didn't like my Apple IPad immediately as the IPad refuses to charge with my PC USB ports. Thankfully syncing was relatively painless as I loaded up my IPad with photos and music.

I took my IPad to its first wedding, not knowing quite how to introduce "her" to the wedding guest. Do I say "Hey do you want to see my IPad?" or do I just casually and quietly put her on the table waiting for someone to ask for an introduction.

Thankfully, the ice was broken by a simple question "Do you do any other types of photography?"

"Why Yes I do" as I brought out my IPad...