Archive for November, 2009

Apps Make Your Phone Special

Friday, November 20th, 2009

VentureBeat has a post titled Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie: Apps don’t make your phone special, where they mention Mr. Ozzie’s comments at the Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference. Mr. Ozzie is said to suggest that apps are not what will differentiate mobile platforms. His apparent take is that all apps will, at some point, be ported to all mobile systems. This would switch the driving force to something more than what apps exist. That is Windows Mobile marketing crap.

Google’s Vic Gundotra is quoted in the post too, and he seems to indicate even Google won’t develop for all mobile platforms due to cost. Many developers will develop for the Android and iPhone platforms, and maybe even the dreaded Windows Mobile. I think most won’t. Some long time Mac developers have already pulled out of iPhone development.

I can’t get an official Google Voice App on the iPhone. That app alone would make my phone special, to me. If that app was important enough, I might go with an Android handset. Are there other considerations in picking a mobile smartphone? I hope so. Network, OS, multi-tasking, feel, build quality, manufacturer, and more. I think Ozzie has a got ‘a’ point. The mistake is, he seems to indicate it is ‘the’ point. Ask any iphone user if they like their phone and they will generally respond yes, often following with a mention of Shazam.

Lets look at the history of the desktop platforms. If I want to use Aperture to manage my photo library: Mac only. If I want to use Microsoft Visio or Access: Windows only. Apps matter Ray, and sorry about the Windows Mobile insult.

Based on info from MacRumors, MacBytes & VentureBeat

Verizon iDon’t Ad & Other Tech Mistakes

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I recently read a Chicago Sun Time’s Article by their tech writer Andy Ihnatko. It takes a close look at the latest Verizon ad for the Motorola Driod. Great writer and a great article. It got me thinking about the ad. By now, I think most of us have seen the iDon’t Driod ad.

I found the ad irritating the first time I saw it and found myself wondering why. I use an iPhone and love it. Was I irritated because of the attack on the iPhone? Talk about fan boy. I don’t think that was it. The Driod looks ugly in the ads to me. Square and kind of clunky. I have not seen it in person so I could be wrong. I think what irritated me is that I really want the iPhone to have some competition. I think it is better for any geek if Apple is pushed, and then Apple pushes back. We get better toys, and we all love toys. It seemed to me, from the moment the ad ended, that the designers just didn’t get it. iDon’t have this, and iDon’t have that. The ‘iDon’t’ list is pretty long too. But here’s the thing… I don’t care about half the things they list.

I don’t need a physical keyboard. The Pre has a keyboard and it’s crap. Seriously, try it and then picture an ad saying ‘Buy a Pre for the keyboard’. Comedy. A physical keyboard means nothing. A useable keyboard is the claim I want to hear. Blackberry users aside, most people, that give a virtual keyboard the time it takes to learn it, end up likening it. The Driod has a virtual keyboard too, but they were pushing the physical one. Just tell me you have a great keyboard and I don’t care what form it takes.

The ad goes on to mention the iPhone is lacking a 5 megapixel camera. Again I say, so what. It was not long ago I had an actual camera that was 3 MP. I am happy with the camera I have. What do I gain from 5 MP? A larger print. I don’t print my phone photos. More detail? I have an SLR if I need a real image. My phone camera is not for critical images and if it was, the 3 or 5 has nothing to do with it. Tell me you have the greatest image quality ever on a phone and you’ll have my attention. The Driod does have a flash, and that would be cool.

I should say that I have not used the Driod. For that reason I should stop here. I just wish tech companies would listen listen to their customers. I will have a 99 mega-pixel camera soon and that is crazy. Give me 15 megapixels and great low light quality. Give me a cell phone that doesn’t drop calls simply because I was breathing. Let me own the movie or software I ‘buy’ so I can view it, or use it, when and how I want. Don’t tell me you don’t have a “system” for me to block a prank caller, and then tell me you do have a “feature” that costs $8.95 month. Google Voice lets me do it for free. Don’t fight Net-Neutrality with claims it hurts business, and then lobby Washington to pass legislation blocking the FCC from enforcing a neutral internet. AT & T should not be allowed to block me from using my internet connection when it conflicts with another area of their business. This post took a weird turn somewhere. I was going to just point you to the Andy Ihnatko article. I hope the Driod is a good phone, but it has to give me features I want. You sell a product by fulfilling the customers needs. When will they get it?

The Mother-in-law’s Switch to Mac

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

A 5 year old, home built, Windows XP machine is what started this. It was going to be fun. Yes, fun to migrate my mother-in-law, from Windows, to a new 21.5″ iMac. Her older model PC had a kid’s account on it. Yes, those little ‘people’ that are smaller than we are, but often think they are smarter. The machine had all the required protections one could think of, anti-virus, automatic updates and the use of limited accounts in XP. But, it didn’t have any anti-kid software. My fault I guess. I knew it needed it.

It would seem these guys were smart enough to ask grandma to log into an admin capable account so they could ‘do homework’. Uh, homework requires admin rights? Hum. An install of Limewire later and we end up where we are today. A reinstalled PC for the kids, and a new ‘Grandma Only’ iMac. The fun begins…

The re-install issues with the PC were crazy. I won’t go into it here, but let’s just say the fun was fading fast. It should have been declared a paperweight, but it made no sense to invest money in a machine for the kids. Underpowered or not, it could be saved, and it was. Once it was declared Kid-Safe it was time to take the PC data and move it to the Mac.

The email client on the PC was Outlook 2003. It seems there is no easy, & free, way to migrate email from Outlook (not Outlook Express) to Apple’s Mail.app. This version of Outlook uses the proprietary .pst file for all data storage. I did not like the export format choices available. There are paid apps, like Little Machines O2M which, for $10, is supposed to migrate Outlook mail and folders. The reviews I saw were mostly good ones, but it just seemed crazy to have to pay. After a lot of browsing, I settled on installing Eudora on the PC and importing the Outlook data. Then I moved the Eudora data to the iMac and imported it into Apple’s Mail.app. Worked great, except that I ended up with a ton of empty emails. It seemed like one blank email for every real email. At first I thought maybe that was how the email existed in Outlook but when I realized every sub-folder had the same issue I figured it was something to do with conversion. I actually wanted to try it again to see what would happen, but at that point I was just glad to have it done.

Contacts were not that bad. I figured the easiest way was to use a standard vCard format. Note that word ‘standard’. In Microsoft talk that mean ‘everyone but us’. Outlook does not have an export format that makes it easy, but there is a way. Select all the contacts in Outlook and under the ‘Action’ menu is a command to forward them as vCards. Genius. I can forward vCards but can’t export them. So Outlook knows what they are and by choice is screwing with me. I just mailed them to myself, saved them out and imported them into Apple’s Address Book app.

For printing, the plan was to use the existing printer, connected to the Mac as the print server. It was connected to the iMac, setup and tested. It used a Gutenprint print driver and then it was shared. Looking good. I had Bonjour installed on the PC, but could not get any printing going. The Bonjour Print Wizard would see the printer and add it, but no luck. I reinstalled Bonjour without any better result.  I tried installing the printer on the PC manually, while using a generic Postscript driver as I had seen recommended. Nope. I tried entering a network printer on XP using a queue path to the iMac’s CUPS printer. For refernce, the path is http://<IP address of Mac>:631/printers/Queue Name. No luck there. I decided to try Bonjour again and it worked. No friggin’ idea why. Nothing changed. But why question it. I ran to the next challenge.

I started moving her data from the PC via the LAN and was looking like it would take well over an hour. Instead I cancelled the copy and pulled her data drive out of the PC. I hooked it up with my cables, to the iMac, as an external drive using an adaptor, kind of like this one on Amazon. I had the data moved in less than 15 minutes.

At this point i just imported all the photos into iPhoto and all the music into iTunes. With nothing but documents left behind I put all of those into her Documents folder and life was good.

There were some issues that had no easy solution. She had a number of Microsoft Publisher files. There is no equivalent to Publisher on the Mac platform, and no way I found to easily convert the files. I say easy because I could have opened them in publisher on the PC and exported them in some common format, like HTML. But, she would still not have the Publisher  app she was familiar with. I have the files there if needed, and can always do the conversion route. Since they are all at least a year old, I figured it may be best to have her learn how to create them on the Mac, using Mac apps. Movie Maker files were also a no go. Again, I kept them just incase she ever needs them but for now the migration is done.

Since the move, she has had no major issues. The Apple Mail toolbar disappeared for some unknown reason but it was a great lesson, and easy, to show her how to bring it back. The printer paused inexplicably, and wanted admin rights to resume. I am not sure what triggered it, since I was not there, and I’m not sure why it needed admin rights to un-pause, but it was an easy fix.

Al-in-all, not too bad. She now has a fast and reliable machine. The kids? A slow and painful computing experience. I feel so bad for them.