Archive for April, 2010

Docs by Microsoft and Facebook

April 22nd, 2010 No comments
Docs by Microsoft and Facebook

Docs by Microsoft and Facebook

Look out Google because Microsoft and Facebook are teaming up to challenge Google Docs online document sharing.

Microsoft Docs looks like a real threat to Google Docs because simply Microsoft still makes a better word processor than Google. Facebook’s crowd sourcing and social networking platform creates a true online desktop and utility for productivity. Docs also have a simple domain name that people can remember

Google needs to respond with a true social networking strategy by merging their Gmail, YouTube, and Picassa audience to a single destination to share and communicate more seamlessly. They have made a pathway so far with integrating Buzz into Gmail. It was disappointing, however, that Google Wave was still a separate destination that needed another active conversion for adoption. Furthermore, their UI across different sites like Gmail, YouTube, and Picassa do not have similar look and feel.


iPhone 4.0 outed. And she’s a beaut!

April 19th, 2010 No comments

Gizmodo has it.  Check it out.

Then come back and comment on what Steve Jobs is going to do to the poor SOB who lost it in the first place.  He’s probably run off to the same island that Lost takes place on.  Or hoping, anyways.

Categories: iPhone Tags:

iPad Update – the Return

April 17th, 2010 1 comment

Apple-iPad-001So as the three people who follow my personal Twitter stream found out (why the heck aren’t the rest of you following me? Love me, dammit!), I have decided to return my iPad. I officially reset it on April 15th, at 12:32pm. And it is sorely missed. Why did I do this? Because I’ve decided that the iPad will be my preferred tool for accessing the web and my media. I am returning my iPad so that I can buy the 3G-enabled one at the end of the month. Here’s why I’ve come to love yet another Apple device.

When I first got my iPad, I honestly was not that enthusiastic about it. Sure I’d blown close to a G on this thing, but all in all I wasn’t giddy with techno joy. (By the way, do NOT buy the docking stand. It’s less than useless and I’m hoping that Apple will take it back for a refund even though I don’t have a box for it.) I purchased some apps, downloaded some free ones, loaded up a few gigs of music and videos, and set about using it. I carried to and from work every day. I used it on the couch and in the dining room and in the kitchen as my wife was making dinner. I used it with the kids. I took it with me when we went out. And yes, I’ve used it in the bathroom (don’t tell me you guys didn’t think of that use case when you saw the iPad!). And gradually it took over my life.

First off, the screen is freaking gorgeous. Pictures can’t really do it justice. Somehow, the fingerprints and smudges disappear when that thing is fired up and you just see this giant expanse of real estate. Switching between my iPhone and my iPad was painful because I just couldn’t bear looking at the tiny iPhone screen.  Videos are just incredible to watch on the iPad.  Everyone I showed it to thought the screen was amazing.  Pictures were popping off the surface it was so brilliant.  Of course it was absolutely worthless in sunlight or while wearing sunglasses, but still.

Second, the virtual keyboard proved surprisingly useful, especially for someone with my ladylike hands. I was able to almost touch type on that puppy, so long as I wasn’t trying to tab or use too many special characters. (Apple, you guys aren’t nearly as smart as you think you are – WTF is up with not including a Tab key on the virtual keyboard?). In landscape mode, I was probably at half my regular typing speed (and I’m not a slow typer by any stretch). In portrait mode, I was typically two- or four-fingering it, but still getting along pretty darn well. I can access my corporate email via Outlook Webmail using the iPad just fine, which just relegated my Blackberry to the “never have to look at you again” pile. In fact, I’m probably going to give it back to the company because I just never use it.


Third, I realized that I could use this as my primary music player, with the sole exception of the time I spend in the weight room. They sell dock extender cables that will allow me to plug the iPad into my Sony stereo at work. I can download maps before I leave for a trip (and download on the fly when I get the 3G version). I can watch videos. I can even use it in the gym to practice my group exercise class training videos. And it’s a lot easier to follow along using the iPad versus trying to squint at a tiny iPhone screen.

Fourth, a lot of the stuff I’d kept around but never got around to doing anything with are finding new life on my iPad. PDFs are a pleasure to read. Comics too. (Comics are good, but the iPad isn’t going to be the salvation of comics.  The page size of comics are just a little “off”.  Manga, on the other hand, may have met their secret weapon.) Even reading is more pleasurable because I can pull out a book anywhere and I can carry dozens at a time.  I’d been considering a Kindle but now I don’t have to.  I’m still split between the iBook and the Kindle apps, but just being able to read anywhere is great.

Finally, compared to my iPhone 3G, the iPad is FAST. Blazingly, gloriously, wonderfully fast. Apps load like lightning. I can switch between apps with minimal fuss. Screens scroll easily and quickly. Granted, my iPhone is old and jailbroken, but I am not running tons of apps on that puppy. The iPad puts it to shame. I’m sure the new iPhone will be as fast as the iPad, but until I have that replacement in my hot little hands, I’m loving the greater speed.

ipadqmarkThat’s not to say that the iPad is perfect. From a productivity perspective, the iPad is sorely hampered by the virtual keyboard. I can pound out emails and write simple blog posts just fine, but I’m planning to buy a Bluetooth keyboard for the thing. And I don’t recommend Apple’s Pages or Numbers apps. Both produce files that are basically unusable outside the iPad and both are incredibly frustrating to use on the iPad itself, so don’t have dreams of creating massive spreadsheets or novels using them. If a developer ever figures out how to provide Office compatibility however, this thing would rock. Heck, even Google Apps integration would be good.

Also, the inability to save and transfer files outside of the iTunes environment is a pain in the butt. And the lack of multi-tasking is also incredibly annoying. I’m really looking forward to iOS 4.0 because the addition of multitasking means it will make the iPad a lot more manageable from a productivity perspective.  Once task switching is available, I could easily write entire blog posts on the iPad.

As another annoyance, Apple needs to stop treating music and video as two separate apps on the iPad (and the iTouch). There should be a single app to manage my media, and I should be able to mix and match media in my playlists, regardless of whether they’re audio or video. I’m hoping they will address this in iOS4 as a reveal feature when they announce iPhone HD.

The Calendar app needs a to-do feature integrated into it.  I shouldn’t need a separate app to create to-do lists.

Customizable themes should be made available (adding this would remove a lot of the need to jailbreak).

Given my new love of this toy, I’m now stuck on the iPad upgrade cycle (and no that was not a sly joke!), which is exactly where Apple wants me to be. With my iPhone, the contract made annual upgrades too expensive. But with the iPad, I can let my iPhone get two or three years old without worrying about lack of features or speed, as long as I upgrade my iPad each year. Apple is going to make a ton of money off of me. The brilliant jerks.

Categories: Editorial, iPad Tags:

Beautiful wind powered lighting

April 13th, 2010 1 comment

Sometimes I fantasize about living off the grid (how I’ll ever get by without my laptop really is a fantasy if you ask me)… but the dream is always shattered when I start thinking about practical things, like light. Where will my light come from after dark, because I’m not buying a year supply of candles or kerosene. Leave it up to the fine folks at to come up with the perfect answer.

Bamboo Flow Lights from Igendesign.

The bamboo flow lights are a self-sustaining public lighting solution that is based on the principle of vertical wind power plants. Not only are they beautiful but they can catch the wind from any directions. In addition it is made entirely from bamboo (an abundant, sustainable and renewable resource) and recyclable electronic components (LEDs, wires and dynamo).
Initially designed for the coastal areas in Columbia, where they can’t get connected to the grid, this design is about to be tested in several other places. So keep your eyes open as these could be popping up in a city near you.


ChargePod will charge your iPad

April 12th, 2010 No comments

Remember the ChargePod review I wrote a bit ago?  Well, I want to update that review to say that it will handily charge your iPad.  So I now have my Blackberry, my iPhone, and my iPad hooked up to that little puppy.  Yes it takes up a bunch of space, but it frees up my iPad’s plug to be stowed in the travel bag.  As soon as I get a decent stand for the iPad, I’ll be able to organize things a bit more.  Here’s a pic of my current setup.


Categories: Electronics, iPad Tags:

Apple and the Garden

April 12th, 2010 No comments

Cranach Adam EveAdobe is all up in arms about the new license terms for Apple’s iOS 4, which restricts platform developers to using only specific native tools. That pretty much cuts out all other development platforms and cross-compilers, most especially Adobe. Needless to say, Adobe is not pleased. Well you know what? I’m totally on Apple’s side in this fight. Adobe took a chance when it developed Flash, and for a while that chance worked out for them. Their small platform ended up being used for more and more on the ever expanding Internet, allowing them to grow into almost a de facto standard. That’s fine for something like the Internet, which is an open environment that was built up through the combined efforts of a lot of organizations. But the iPlatform is not the Internet. Apple has created a walled garden and they have the right to manage that garden however they like.

In Philadelphia, sections of the city have city-owned pots of land that residents can rent out for a year.  On those plots of land, folks have planted vegetable and flower gardens.  The gardens are secured by fences and locks, but each resident doesn’t get individual access to their plots – they have to share the lock code with each other because there’s only one lock.  The rules are relatively simple and the renters tend to watch out for each other because they tend to be long-time renters, paying the nominal fee every year.  Importantly, they tend to follow the rules and they act to ensure that others follow the rules.  Every so often, the rules change and some people stop renting space because of those rules.  But that frees up a plot for someone new to come in, and they come in knowing the new rules and agreeing to honor them.

What Adobe is trying to do is pay the fee to access the garden and then passing out the combination to the garden’s lock to anyone who wants to pay.  In their best case scenario, they don’t even have to pay the fee for access – they just start selling the key and let the community sort out who’s supposed to be there or not.  Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.  For good or bad, Apple’s ecosystem is THEIRS.  They didn’t set out to build something on top of an already existing platform (like Google), nor did they try to make their ecosystem the biggest in the world by making development as easy as possible to as many as possible (like Microsoft).  Apple started out with a simple idea – let’s sell music.  Maybe they had this end state in mind all the time, maybe they didn’t.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s all theirs.  And because it’s theirs, they get to make the rules, and even change those rules, whenever they want.

Note that this viewpoint is not necessarily a conflict with the fact that I am using a jailbroken iPhone.  Since I’ve bought the device and own it, I think I should be able to do whatever the heck I want with it.   To not have that right is like buying a piece of produce from the community garden but being told that I can only use it in stir fry or fruit salad.  It’s stupid to even think that that sort of thing is possible, and just because it’s tech vs. produce doesn’t make it any less so.  However, once I change the parameters of the agreement of sale, I don’t have the right to request Apple’s support to fix my problems.  To extend the produce analogy even further, that’s like my buying a bell pepper, agreeing to use it only in stir fry, then putting it in fruit salad and complaining when people don’t like it.  I know and accept the risks of jailbreaking but by that same token, Apple shouldn’t be going out of their way to stop me.  Would I like Apple to be less restrictive in terms of what they do or don’t allow in the App Store?  Absolutely.  The main reason I jailbreak is to skin my phone and to get access to two apps that Apple won’t sell.  But those are the risks I’ve accepted because I’m choosing to go around the ecosystem.

Back to the topic at hand though – Adobe vs. Apple.  Whether or not Apple is right or wrong ethically is not the issue.  Apple is doing what it feels it needs to do to protect their investment in the iOS infrastructure.  Adobe is trying to grow their produce in the Apple garden and calling foul because they got caught.  Sorry, Adobe – you didn’t pay for the garden and you don’t get to access the garden and set your rules in the garden just because you pout about unfairness.  You want to build out your Flash platform, then you go out and build your own damn garden.  Otherwise, be happy with the pervasiveness you have on the Internet and pray that you can find a workaround to making money once HTML5 begins supplanting your fancy animations.

Categories: Editorial, iPhone Tags: , ,

Tech inspired design

April 12th, 2010 No comments

It seems like everywhere I look every gadget/tech related blog is talking only about the iPad (including this one!). I’ve never been much of one to follow the group so I’m just gonna post whatever I wanna post (and it’s not because I’m resentful of the fact that I don’t have an iPad yet… no really, it’s not).

I found some cool nerdy design related stuff I’m going to post about instead. First, ceramic tiles modeled off the old school 3 1/2 inch floppy disks.

Designed by Australian design firm ENESS, these tiles are sadly not for sale. Though if they were they would totally corner the computer nerd market. I can already envision my kitchen countertops, or possibly the top surface area of what was previously a normal computer desk. If you know someone who can make ceramics these wouldn’t be hard to do. I think I still have a 3 1/2 inch floppy tucked away somewhere that could be used as a mold (no idea what is on it but some things just have sentimental value, you know?).

Via Wired Gadget Blog

Second is a modular floor covering concept from Kyoto based design student Shin Yamashita and unfortunately titled “The Land Peel”…


Made out of an insulating material, this floor covering converts into furniture. Need a seat and a TV tray to watch that next episode of Fringe while eating dinner, you say? No Problem!
Would you like to face east while working on your laptop today, but make it face west tomorrow? You can do that too.

I can see how this type of thing would go over well in Japan. I probably would have preferred this type of thing in my shoebox apartment as opposed to the table that came out of the wall and desk that couldn’t be moved along with the most uncomfortable chairs possibly in existence. And it looks like it can be totally customized as to size and shape. Here in the States I don’t see it garnering much popularity except possibly in children’s game rooms or daycare centers. But maybe I’m just not using my imagination.

What would make it much cooler would be to make it out of actual tatami mat material. Lose the gray with the primary colored accents. But what I really want to know is where did they get that tiny lamp?