Technology

keyboard1

Review – Logitech iPad keyboard (PS: It rocks!)

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Let’s cut to the chase here: The new Logitech ultrathin keyboard for the iPad (2 or new) rocks.  It ticks all my boxes (and I use my iPad HEAPS when travelling): It’s totally ‘Apple-esque’ (aka it’s sexy and slim and even shiny in the right places), it took me 15 seconds to set up without a manual, and it adds a bunch of functionality to my iPad while also being a protective cover. It even fixes the big gripe many people have with iPad keyboards (read below for more on that).  

The acid test: I now have it on my iPad permanently, need I say more?

(more…)

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paperless

I’m going paperless @ work

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A week or so ago I decided to go paperless.

I am not going to go into why I did it – way too many books, blog posts, etc go into why one should do it, but very few actually go into how to do it.

Anyway, I am doing it, and here are my steps:

Step 1: I bought myself the book Paperless

You can get a pdf of it here for $5, or buy it on iTunes for US$4.99 (It would be somewhat hypocritical to buy a physical copy now, wouldn’t it? :-) )  If you are thinking about going paperless, and only do one thing, do this!  It’s so worth the $5, and it’s a super practical guide (Warning: Mac/iOS focused, but you have a mac, right?)

Step 2: I read the book (kinda important)

Step 3: I took action:

3(a) – Firstly, I got the tools:

  • the best scanner there is for this kinda work – the Fujitsu Snapscan S1500M (m for mac).  It’s $1200 in NZ, but only $400 US on EBay ~ $NZ600, so guess which one I bought it from? If you wanna do what I did, Google review it – it rocks!

3(b) – Download, install, and set up the right software on my mac:

  • Hazel (to auto file stuff, automates other things too!)
  • Install Text Expander (saves typing the same thing over and over)
  • Get PdfPen proOCR stuff, edit and tag pdfs etc (which is made by the same people who make Text Expander)

3(c) – Download, install, and set up the right apps for my iPad/iPhone:

  • PdfPen for iOS – sign/edit pdfs on iPad etc
  • JotNot Pro (photo/scanner) app
  • Pdf PROvider – convert word, excel files etc to PDFs on iOS device
  • Goodreader – viewing, annotating, storing PDFs (excellent integration with DropBox btw, including two way syncing).  Note: This was the only app I already had.

All up, under $1,000, and now I have all the toys tools, I am set for the next phase: making it happen.

Making it happen

Broadly speaking, there are now three main areas of paper to address:

1) The existing paper around my office

Solution?  Scan, file (name, tags, file location etc) and throw out recycle paper.  This should save me around half the storage I have in my office at present, and around a third of my desk space.

2) New paper that arrives in my office

Solution?  Same as above, but do it before it turns into a pile.   My system is having a scanning day, and do it all then (estimate about an hour a week).  This is everything from receipts for expenses to claim, warranty cards/receipts for personal purchases through to important letters (like insurance) or contracts etc.

3) Stuff I am working on right now

I’m kinda agnostic about this bit.   If having a piece of paper makes it easier to deal with something, I’ll do this.  IMHO, going “paperless’ doesn’t mean never touching a piece of paper, but rather removing all necessary paper from my life.  That’s my approach anyway.  I just need to make sure this group doesn’t turn into group 2.

This is all rather early days for me.  I have only JUST set this all up.  I haven’t yet scanned everything in from group 1, nor have I undertaken many weekly scans as outlined in group 2, but I wanted to put it down on paper in print, so I can review what I said I would do in a month or two.

Btw, in case you missed it, the first step was getting an AWESOME book on the how to of going paperless (pdf here for $5, or on iTunes for $4.99 US).  It covers all the key stages, from getting the tools, to developing workflows, as well as discussing various filling systems that work.  The e-book has lots of short useful videos too – very cool!  It’s very Mac/iOS centric, but all the ideas work fine on any platform/OS, but the software suggested won’t all be available across all OS’s, nor will some of the specific hints, like how to use Mac’s print to pdf creation via automator to auto name and file documents.

Black and White Version: Phase one of going paperless set up.  Let’s see how I go compliance-wise (I think that’s the real test).

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Siri

iPhone 4s review for use in New Zealand

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Despite my earlier thoughts, I did buy an iPhone 4s in Sydney last Friday.  (My iPhone 4s pre-review is here)

So, after almost a solid week using it, here are my cut to the chase, black and white, observations:

What’s it like? FAST (and awesome).
What’s Siri like to use? Entertaining (see Siri quotes here), and super useful even with the limitations of no location search outside the US. Speech recognition is AMAZING!  Very intelligent.  This is no standard dictate only app, it’s very smart.  Things like What’s the weather like and What’s the weather forecast in Wellington tomorrow all work seamlessly.  Oh, and yes, you can dictate to it too (which is handy when driving).
Other stuff? Well iOS5 rocks – love iMessage integration of text and data messaging. iCloud will take smartphone convenience to the next level for many users (especially the ones that don’t back up!)
Camera This is a point and shoot camera killer.I am not that interested in 8 vs 5MP, but the speed of focus, and between shot time (under a second) and the fast lens (this means it lets more light in, so brighter pics) is SUCH a pleasant surprise.  Add in iCloud integration, and I take a pic, and 10 seconds later it’s on my home PC and also my iPad (as soon as I am in Wifi range that is).If I was CEO of Canon et al, I’d be worried. (Just like Hallmark cards should be)
Should I get one if I have an iPhone 4? Well, probably you don’t NEED one.  But do you WANT one?
Actually, upgrade to iOS5 1st, then decide if Siri+camera+speed is what you are after.
Should I get one if I have a 3Gs or earlier? Or don’t have an iPhone? If you want a smart phone, IMHO, the iPhone 4s is the best on the planet as of today’s date.
 NZ issues
  • We can’t buy them yet (even from Apple).
  • Siri will work, but not with location based stuff (yet).
  • It’s BLOODY expensive (relative to other countries that offer large carrier subsidies).
iOS5 Just like lots of the cool stuff about the iPhone 4 was iOS4, iOS5 rocks.   In my view it’s the most significant upgrade since they added multi-tasking.    Ironically the issue for many when upgrade the iOS is things like oh, I lost my music coz my PC crashed last year or My app settings got lost coz I forgot to back them up, and the ONE thing that will stop that from happening again is the very OS they are upgrading it to.  iOS5 + iCloud allows for truly PC-less backups/OS upgrades etc.
More on back ups etc To show you how cool iCloud/iOS5 is, my friend in Sydney had already migrated to iCloud on his iPhone 4, and upgraded that to iOS5.  On Saturday he goes into a store, gets an iPhone 4s, tethers to my iPhone (ie on WiFi) and withing 60 minutes has ALL his apps (in folders), settings, contacts, the WORKS on his phone.  No PC, no iTunes, nothing, just a WiFi connection and a “yes, please download my stuff” clicked once.  Apple are onto a winner here.   My acid test is could I give it to my mum to use, and the answer is yes, it’s that simple.
What don’t I like? Minor gripe is despite same basic form factor (shape and size) as the iPhone 4, the side controls (mute switch and volume controls) are are few mm lower than on the iPhone 4.  This means buying a new case OR putting up with every so slightly mis-aligned holes.  Not a major, but annoying.  FYI, all others line up (camera, dock,headphones etc)

Some observations on buying one:

  • It was SUPER easy.  Apple know how to make stuff work, including retail sales.
  • It was SUPER quick – 15 minutes queue @ 1.30pm on Friday 14th October (the 1st day of sale) for the Sydney main store on George St
  • Staff very helpful
  • Apple staff rock!

Black and White Version: The 4s is an awesome phone.  Like the iPad 1>2 upgrade it is more incremental, but Siri and the camera are super nice additions, and the speed is REALLY amazing.  iOS5 + iCloud ROCKS!

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iphone 5

iPhone 4S – Black and White Pre-Review

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Just like I did with the iPad 2, here is my black and white review of the iPhone 4S.

Note: It’s a pre-review since I don’t have one yet (nor does anyone else, except maybe this guy).

Btw, if you don’t like Apple (or secretly do, but like complaining about features it doesn’t have – go here)

UPDATE 20/10/11: I ended up buying one.  My iPhone 4s review is here.

Item Comment
Killer Feature Battery life (read that several times – got it yet?)
Anything else? Yes, iOS 5 (but you can get that on the 4, or 3GS)
What else is new/improved Camera, faster processor, it’s thinner, blah blah (sounds like iPad > iPad 2 eh?).  Full iPhone comparison here
What’s everyone talking about Siri - it’s where you can speak commands to your phone
What’s everyone bitching about? It’s not called and iPhone 5, and its shape is the same
Should I get one? If you want to.   Your call.  If you say “There are no new features” then you missed the killer feature of battery life.
Will I get one? For now I will say maybe. And like the iPad 2, the more I look at it, the more it will probably be a yes :)
There is a TINY WINY problem in that it won’t be avail in NZ for ages – so I guess I will have to order online and get it delivered to a mate overseas like I did with my iPad.  Or maybe a(nother) wee trip overseas?

Anyone with a smart phone (and who actually uses it as one) knows the frustration of battery life.  While it’s fine when you use it for calls and text, once internet use comes in to the picture, a FULL days work is hard to get on a phone.  Apple nailed that with battery life on the iPad, and now, have MAJORLY improved it on the iPhone.  To me that’s the true revolution of the iPhone 4S.

Black and White Version: iPhone 4S’s killer feature if battery life.  iOS rocks, and Siri is a “oh .. nice”. 

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Predictions – for 2011 and beyond

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OK, here are some big (and no so big) predictions for the next 12 months and beyond:

  1. Apple will release its 5th generation phone (iPhone 5, or 4s) in September.  Potentially more significant, it will also do is push the 3Gs as an entry level phone (or less likely, introduce an iPhone lite), with a far lower price point, and sell it outright (no contract).  This will be the nail in the coffin for Nokia et al, and mark the move of Apple into more ‘mainstream’ mobile phone market.
  2. Google+ WILL eventually be the major social networking platform.  It will be significantly large to be one of two (FaceBook being other other) by the end of 2011.  FaceBook will survive though.
  3. National will win the next election in New Zealand.  I actually predicted this in 2009, but wanted to restate it here.  Labour will get caned, but not as much as current polls say.  Even if National can govern alone (which will be close), they will invite others into a coalition.  Key is clever like that.
  4. Obama will (re)win the US Presidency in 2011.  It will get nasty.
  5. The NZ dollar will stay high (around 80c against the US $) for most of this year.  But drop back to 70-75c by late 2011/early 2012
  6. The US economy will crap itself in 2013.  Finally.  China will help.

The above predictions were written on 27th July 2011.

Update 4 August 2011: The 2011 Rugby World Cup final will be between Australia and NZ.  If NZ make it to the final, they will win it.  South Africa will bomb out early.

Black and White Version: My predictions for 2011 and beyond.  Who knows if I am right or not.  Time will tell!

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the brroks review

The Brooks Review

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The Brooks Review (written by Ben Brooks) is an awesome commentary blog site on all things tech.

His latest post today on Google+ was classic.  Here’s his summary on various social media sites:

GeoCities: Was epic, and the best place to share animated GIFs.

MySpace: It was the place to go for crappily designed user profile pages and scantly clad pictures of women that you don’t know. To check out bands so that you could later tell you buddies: “I was listening to them way before they were main stream. It was the GeoCities of the early 2000′s.

Facebook: It is the place that you go to see what your ex is up to, if what’s her name from high school is still hot, and well who took a bikini vacation recently? It is also the place that will yield preposterous valuations, and shoot you an average of 30 clicks just for posting a link. Facebook made social networking an acceptable activity for everyone. Also: FarmVille.

Twitter: It’s the place where no one can deny your “friend request” and ADD heaven. Where millions can declare their allegiance to people they hardly know, and where a relative nobody 1 can get rather instant tech support.

Tumblr: This is basically the modern day GeoCities with better templates and (sometimes) faster loading sites. Also, it’s taking blogging to be a mainstream accepted activity.

Google+: …?

I have to agree with him on all counts (and funny too!). I do disagree a bit on his commentary on Google+ – from what I see so far I like it (well more than he does).

Black and White Version: Brooks review is a very informative tech site.  Read it.

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iChic 3

iChic iPad Cover Review

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As many of you will know, I like my tech.  I particularly like Apple’s stuff.

I have, amongst other things, an iPad 2, which I think rocks (my iPad 2 pre-review of this is found here).

Anyway, one of the best things about the iPad 2 is the Apple Smart cover. I actually purchased the smart cover several days b4 I ordered my iPad online (yeah that’s commitment eh?).  The magnetic on/off just rocks (I don’t think I have used the power button on it more than a few times).

So when I was asked to review the new iChic cover I thought: Sure (but knew deep down it couldn’t be as good as the smart cover).  Well I was wrong!

Let me explain.

I have been using the smart cover from Apple for several months now.  And I love it.  The magnetic on/off together with it’s light weight just works for me.  BUT, the one time I wouldn’t mind a more substantial cover is when I travel (which I do a fair bit).  In fact I use the iPad more when I travel that I do at home (since when I travel it’s my mobile computer, and when I am at home, its just a cool device to play with most of the time).

So yeah, the Apple Smart Cover is awesome, but a bit light weight.  There is no back on the Smart Cover, and the front is just held on by a magnet at the side.   But all the covers I have seen are too heavy, or the wrong type (i.e. slide in), so I stuck with it.   Oh, and the smart cover also it only really holds up the iPad in landscape mode, and wouldn’t hold up the iPad handsfree (well) in portrait layout.  But that is less of an issue for me.

So back to the iChic cover – I did have to wonder about the wee bit on the back (a leather tab).  I mean .. it wasn’t a closure, so what was it?  Anyway, I snapped the iPad into the hard back plastic back, and then started playing.  I soon whet DUH when I figured out what that tab was!  It meant that I could now use the iPad in portrait without holding it!  It was a catch to hold the back in place (see image below to the right).  Not only will it allow to hold itself up in portrait mode, but also allows a higher standing up in landscape mode (as shown in the pic below).

And yes, it’s a magnetic lock – so still means I don’t need to turn it on (or off) again.  And the inside front cover is silk – so MUCH nicer on the glass.

So from a starting point where I thought nothing will beat the smart cover I now have to say I have demoted that cover to my back up around the home cover, and will use the iChic whenever I travel (which as already said is heaps).  So if you are after a lightish cover offering a mix of protection (a hard back) and magnetic lock (how could you not?) plus multiple display modes, look now further.  $49 US from the iChic web site (plus $15 shipping to NZ).    It comes in a range of colours (or colors for my north American readers).

Black and White Version: The new iChic slim shell folio cover is now my first choice cover – high praise from me!

Disclosure: No I wasn’t paid to say this.  My going rate to say nice things about stuff I don’t like is FAR more than any company would pay :-)

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graph

Tech companies – the round up

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Another straight to the point, black and white post here.

My views on the current, and future prospects, of various tech companies.

Short Term Medium/Long Term (3-5 years)
Apple Excellent Excellent
Google Excellent Excellent
Microsoft Good Poor.
Nokia Average Poor
Rim (aka Blackberry) Good Poor Average
IBM Good Excellent Very Good
FaceBoook Good Good – Very Good
Twitter Average ??

I’ll give just brief further comments on the mobile device space:

  • I think Google’s OS (Android) will be the biggest by far in 5 years (sooner), with over 50% market share,
  • Apple will be the most profitable by far, and maintain the position as the biggest selling single phone of any supplier.
  • Microsoft and Nokia combined will have less market share in this space than Apple or Linux presently do in the PC space (less than 10% combined) – they are dead long term in this market.
  • Rim (blackberry) will maintain their market share for now (give or take a few %), but long term they will be a niche player.

I also think Microsoft will go after (ie battle) Google more than it will Apple.  It’s lost the war with Apple (or more to the point, they aren’t on the same battle field).  Microsoft have two main resources – CASH, and their huge user base.  Let’s see if they can do anything with that.  There is hope for Microsoft, because unlike Rim and Nokia, they have FAR wider base of products than just the mobile device space.  But that would involve a whole change for the company – and actually get innovative again.

Black and White Version: Many current market leaders (aka Google and Apple) will continue to be strong.  Others, like Microsoft are long term dead-ducks.

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graphene

Graphene – WOW!

4

Seen a few news articles about Graphene recently (including a claim its the miracle material of the 21st century) Looks WAY cool.

The BBC reports about Graphene, and how strong it is:

It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of cling film.

It’s also super flexible

You could theoretically roll up your iPhone and stick it behind your ear like a pencil

What’s fascinating is that it is just carbon (the same stuff many pencils are made out of), just layered in a special way.

Black and White Version: Graphene looks very special.  Watch this space.

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a apple logo

iPad 2 Review

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I have now been using the iPad 2 for a few weeks now, so time for a full review (well at least in the black and white sense).

In case you mised it, here is my iPad 2 Pre-Review (I had played with it then, but didn’t own one).   I’ve followed a similar format.

Oh, and as an aside, it arrived a week early – yay!

Whats good about it The same stuff as made the first gen IPad great – user interface, battery life, etc.  (Read this sentence again, it’s important).Smart Cover is WAY cool.
What’s improved Speed, low res camera x 2.  Oh, and it’s thinner.
What’s missing Everything that’s missing from the first gen iPad (assuming you thought it was missing in the first place that is), except for a camera
Should I upgrade from the 1st gen iPad? Probably not.  It’s better, just not THAT much better.
Is it better than the 1st gen iPad Yes.  For sure
Is it the best tablet on the market Yep (in my opinion).
How does it FEEL? VERY fast, and light (I know it’s not much lighter, but thin makes if feel light).
Any down side? Yep, coz the edges are curved, the charging port now does fit things as well.  It doesn’t have a good “click” IMHO..
Tell me more Ummm, no.  This is the black and white version.  Read some online iPad 2 review, like this one

If you don’t already have an iPad, and want a tablet, this is the best on the market.  However the iPad 1 is still 95% of the iPad 2 for around 70% of the price at the moment (there are good deals on them), or even better still buy a 2nd hand iPad one off someone like me who just upgraded.

Black and White Version: iPad 2 rocks (so does the iPad 1!)

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