Who’s the fairest of them all?

I know.  Its been awhile since my last post.  I havent quit blogging.  In the last month I have had a lot of chaos in my life that is just starting to somewhat normalize, so the blog was a very low priority.  But now things are starting to level out so I’m back!  Did you miss me? [This wold be the opportunity for you to let me know just how indispensable i am to your technology based life… lol)

Still loving my iPad.  Even more so when I jail broke it.  Even MORE so with iOS 4.2!  Although the implementation of the “multitasking” is kind of wonky (everything you use automatically just stays open.  I’d rather have a choice about what does.  Like I did when it was jail broken.), its still very cool and very usable.  Now on to the real subject of this post…

I finally broke down and decided to purchase a screen protector for my iPad.  I’d always been extra super careful with my iPad.  I never let anyone else handle it other than my teen-aged tech oriented daughter.  So I really didnt see the need for a screen protector.  Plus I didnt want anything affecting the gorgeous clarity of the screen.

I finally had to admit to myself that I was fed up with finger prints all over the glass.  It’s embarrassing when someone wants to look at my iPad and its all smudged up and dirty looking.  Plus, after seeing iPad after iPad come in (to my place of work.  No, dont ask.) with broken screens, I was starting to get paranoid about it.  And yes, I know a screen protector wont stop a screen from breaking, but its better than nothing.

I had kind of looked around at different screen protectors but it seemed like more of the same.  Thin sheets of cheap plastic for 9.99 or less, or thin sheets of slightly better plastic for 19.99 or more.  I wasn’t happy with my choices.  Just when I was about to take my chances with one of the cheaper choices on Amazon, a friend gave me one of some samples he received at work.  It was a screen protector of the mirrored variety by BHB, called “Screen Guarder – the greatest guarder for lcd screen” (lol).  No I never heard of them either.  Most likely an Asian distributor.

The first thing that impressed me was the thickness and relative rigidity of the sheet.  Is was very shiny and free of any imperfections.  The packaging said it was made of “Japan PET” material and claimed:

  • scratch-proof – so far so good.
  • dust repelling – didnt really have a dust problem before so…
  • finger print free – false.  becasue its a mirrored surface, you just dont SEE the prints as readily, which I guess achieves the same effect.
  • bubble-free application – your experience may vary.  i was able to get it on with very few bubbles, after a second application.
  • improves handwriting recognition – eh.
  • anti-reflective – what?  its a freaking mirror! lol
  • washable and reusable – umm…

Overall I like it.  When the screen is off it is totally a mirror.  Your mileage will of course vary, but I had to turn up the brightness a bit when the screen was on.  There is also a kind of “rainbow effect” depending on which angle you look at the screen.  Nothing too severe but it is noticeable occasionally.  Was relatively easy to put on.  Few bubbles.

Bottom line – for 9.99 or less, this is very worth the money.  I cant see paying any more than that for a sheet of plastic, I dont care what the claims are!  I mean seriously!






I’m FREE! … Well kinda…

I jail broke my iPad. Seriously. Well actually a friend of mine did, as he has done it before successfully, and he offered. The first time ended in a frozen iPad as we had both neglected to insure that I had updated to the latest iOS version (3.2.2). So a lengthy restore and several hours later (overnight), he tried it again. This time it was a definite success.

Wow. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal as I was perfectly happy with my iPad as it was. I had come to grips with it's limitations and learned to work within their boundaries. But I have to admit, I was getting more and more curious as why to more and more people were jailbreaking, and were very happy with the choice. So when my friend offered, I had the precut excuse to do it. I am so glad I did...

First of all, it was ridiculously easy. I could have/should have done it myself. I didn't even have to restore when it was done. Went right in to playing with it lol

Cydia is amazing. For those that don't know, Cydia is the "alternative" app store for jail broken iPhones, iPods, ipads. 100% legal and legit. Although I'm sure Jobs wishes otherwise. The breadth of categories of apps in Cydia is worth it alone. Way to many to go into in this post, but I'll cover a few that I have installed so far.

SBSettings - must have. Gives you nearly complete control over your iPad. Also adds some useful features that quickly become "can't live withouters".

Backgrounder - multitasking! Of a sort... Forces an active app to the background, still active. Works great! I can truly surf the web, or look through Flipbook, and listen to iheartradio at the same time! This alone was worth jail breaking for me.

Winterboard - gives you even more control over how iOS acts. Not 100% converted for the iPad yet, so not everything works quite yet, but still worth the download.

Activator - adds all kind of gesture control. Swipes, pinches, scrolls, can all be assigned.

I'll delve deeper into Cydia and jail breaking as I learn more. For now my consensus is DO IT! Of course, nothing is without risk and YOU assume the risk if you try jail breaking. Don't make me say I told you so...


Dropbox….all over!

I find myself drawn to the “cloud” environment and so am excited when I find legitimate uses for it. The ability to access files, notes, pics, from whatever device I happen to be using is essential. As I am an avid user of both Android and iOS, it needs to be seamlessly multi-platform capable. I have found that app.

Dropbox is an application which does all of the above and more. It’s a true “cloud” meaning that all of your data resides on the web. Theoretically, you don’t rally even need to download an app to use the service as it is accessible from any web browser. The app is more about convenience and auto syncing.

I have a Windows XP laptop, a HTC Hero (android) phone, and an iPad. The main reason I love Dropbox is this: I can take a pic and add it to a note on my phone, edit the note and add other media on my computer, and add the note to a list and share it with my friends on my iPad. It’s all seamless and 100% interchangeable. Of course the icing on the cake is that it’s FREE! You get a very decent amount of storage up front (the amount of which I seem to have forgotten lol) but what’s really cool is that you get even MORE free storage when ever you refer someone to the service! Is that customer rewards or what? Dropbox does have a paid premium service but honestly I can’t see ever needing to upgrade to it.

So if you’re like me, always seeing something you want to remember later, or show someone, or if you have files that you frequently need to access away from your computer; check out Dropbox. I can’t think of a reason why it wouldn’t be worth your time.


Does it really matter?

[Warning: Opinionated rant follows.  People with narrow minds or tunnel vision should probably stop here. No, seriously.  You guys should probably go read a Dilbert cartoon or something.]

Why must everything be so divisive?  Why must the Apple fanboys dislike the Android geeks who mock the Crackberry addicts?  I mean really, does it matter?

[image via Networkworld]

Personally, I think diversity is not only good for competition and consumer choice, but also good for the technology!  Without the intense rivalries, mobile innovations would not be occurring nearly as fast and as prolifically as they have been the last few years.  As a consumer, I love having several comparable choices, dont you?

What I can do without is the fanatical, quasi-religious, chest thumping rhetoric extreme that some smartphones fans go to.  The lengths that some folks reach for to defend their phone of choice is frankly, both hilarious and frightening.  I love my phone, which happens to be a HTC Hero; an Android phone.  I personally think that Android is the best mobile OS available currently.  If you happen to disagree (which im sure many of you do), thats FINE.  I dont hate you.  I dont question your intelligence, or assume the lack of.  I’m not going to jump on a soapbox and shout Android love to the heavens.  If you make inaccurate statements, I may correct you.  Thats about it.

All the rest of that nonsense is unnecessary, childish, and pedantic.  There I said it.  Why?  Simple.  No one company has it 100% right.  Most likely no one ever will.  The will always be one manufacturer that does something better than a rival.  Thats just the nature of the business.  Embrace it.  Release the stress and add a year or two to your life.


Lights, camera, action!

It’s not often that I find an app, download it, and immediately love it. I mean it happens, but not often. You are probably also aware that I very much love my iPad. It’s fast becoming my “go to” device for anything media related. Music, streaming radio, podcasts, movies, whatever. Well movies not so much. The way Apple has the iPad locked into iTunes, getting a movie that didn’t originate in iTunes onto the iPad is a pain. The conversion process is ridiculously long. Even then iTunes will sometimes balk at accepting it. Consequently I only had a couple of movies loaded.

That’s all changed. I just found out about an app that is the answer to my prayers! It’s called CineXPlayer. It’s a simple little app that does exactly what it says it does… Play divx (.avi) movie files WITHOUT conversion! It couldn’t be simpler. Download the app to your iPad. Hook up to iTunes. Choose the iPad, then choose apps. Choose the app, then choose the files to upload. Bam! It’s done! My movie files average about 550mb, so took about 2-3 minutes a file to upload. Tons faster than if I had tried to convert them in iTunes.

Playback is excellent. Nothing is lost. Audio is crisp. At least as it is in the native file. Nothing is changed as far as I can tell. So what’s the catch? Nothing right now, but I’m willing to bet that soon Apple finds some reason to pull it from the market. Why? Because it gives iPad users FREEDOM. And that is a very bad word to Apple. If they haven’t approved it, they don’t want it on their device. Whatever.

So my advice to you is to get ahold of this app fast, because it most likely will have a limited shelf life. You still reading this? Go get the app! Now! Lol


Flipboard, the REAL review

Finally! I got the email from Flipboard, informing me that I can now enter my accounts into it. Awesome right?

So, I immediately did so, with only a minor hiccup on the Facebook side of things. Which is to be expected as Facebook has been having issues for several weeks. That aside, everything else went smoothly.

The first thing I checked out was Twitter. I almost don’t know where to start. The experience is seriously amazing. Flipboard takes your incoming tweets and presents them in magazine fashion. Yeah I know you already know all that. What I’m saying is that it actually works as advertised! The layout is clean and easy to read. Pictures are displayed in-line. Snippets of articles are shown to make it easy for you to choose what to read further. There is a slider at the bottom of the page which allows you to move forward or back in the tweet timeline, regardless of the orientation of the page. I follow a lot of tweeters so I have a lot of tweets coming in regularly. Because of the volume, I typically just skim over the last hour or so of tweets to see if anything catches my attention, unless I am following something specifically. I find with Flipboard, I am actually reading a lot more tweets (completely) mostly due to the new convenience. It really is just like reading a magazine. Hard to put down once you start it. Lol.

What I don’t like… There’s not any deal breakers, but there are a few things that can be improved upon. First, and probably most troubling is I don’t see any readily available way for Flipboard to handle direct messages either from Twitter or Facebook. Without that feature (if the functionality IS there I can’t find it, which is just like it not being there), the apps is relegated to just being a neat way to view updates, not a real replacement for a dedicated Twitter or Facebook client. Which may or may not be their intent. Also there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how the tweets or updates are displayed. The Twitter side at least has a timeline, but the Facebook updates don’t. So you don’t know which updates are being left out, and yes some do get left out. So what’s the choice algorithm? Lastly, I’d like the retweet feature to allow me to edit the tweet before sending it. Like I said, no deal breakers, just things I’d like to see changed.

Overall, I think Flipboard is a great app. Is it the “killer” iPad app? I’m reserving judgement on that u till after the first update!


The Experience part 2

Well. I’ve had my iPad for roughly 30 days now. Time enough for all of the hoopla to die down some (I did say some), and for me to use the device on a daily basis in a real work setting. So here’s my thoughts…

I am still of the mind that the iPad is not a laptop or even a net book replacement. It is most definitely a media consumption device. Meaning it excels at delivering media: audio, video, Internet. Apple knew what they were doing when they dropped this one on us. That’s why it appeals to the masses so, it makes media into eye candy!

That being said, I must admit, I hardly use my laptop anymore. I definitely never take it with me anymore. There are plenty of critics that say the iPad isn’t productive enough for real work. I beg to differ. I have found there are very few tasks that I can’t fulfill on my device. I can’t modify the appearance of my WordPress blog due to the limitations of Safari (the apple browser), I can’t really upload/download, and of course I can interact with sites that are mostly flash based. I haven’t found those to be deal breakers as of yet. I do nearly all of my blogging on it now. I purchased Pages (The iPad word-processing program) and have written several articles of moderate length with ease. I know I sound like a commercial but I’m just keeping it real. I am decently impressed with the device. Can’t wait for the 4.0 update to see if it improves the experience much.

The iPad has also replaced my beloved iPod Touch. Aft a couple of weeks, I was like “what’s the point?”. The iPad duplicates the Touch in every way and function. Come to think of it, so does my phone (my Hero). I’m never without one of them, so I sold my Touch. Then I held z small memorial service lol

Of course my favorite situation is sitting in a Biggby Coffee, with a super sugar free frozen Mocha mocha, surfing the web and watching CNN on the huge flat screens. The iPad was made for that one hundred percent. As a matter of fact, that sounds good right now!