Tag Archives: Apple

Apple iPad Thoughts

The iPad has been launched!  Yes, it looks like a giant iPod Touch.  Unfortunate name (but then again, look at the Nintendo Wii).   But I think it looks great and I want one now! 

But I’ve read a lot of iPad hate comments out there on the web today.  It’s not a PC, my iPhone can do that, my netbook can do more, I can only run Apple endorsed apps, it doesn’t multitask, even, there are other touch PCs out there that are “better”, etc.

I still think the iPad will be a success because it will fill a niche and grow (and of course of all the Mac fanboys out there!).

Arguments

Let’s take the PC argument.  Yes, it’s not a PC.  But it’s not trying to be.  Apple would have discontinued its entire line of laptops and desktop PCs if the iPad was the only device you’d need.  But they haven’t.  I’ll still need to use a PC/laptop for advanced photo and video editing, or sound recording, etc.  No way Lightroom is going to run on the iPad.. yet…

How about the iPhone argument?  Yes, the iPad can’t fit in your pocket.  But neither will you try to fit a netbook in your pocket either.  I don’t think Apple intended it to be a mobile phone somehow.   Actually, if I had an iPad, I’d have to carry it in a small laptop bag/sleeve, and then, only for certain situations – like a video player for the kids on a long car or plane trip.  I’d still need the iPhone for day to day in your pocket commuting.   

Now what about netbooks?  Of course there will still be netbooks, just like how there are still Windows CE mobiles, or even other mobile phones even though the iPhone exists.  But the iPad will eat into the netbook market share.   Netbooks are really just for surfing the web and checking email.  The iPad can do just that, looks cooler next to your latte, and the price is quite competitive.  Just like how you didn’t see netbooks in cafes 3-5 years ago, I think people will be flashing these in cafes in 3-5 years time instead of netbooks.

Then there’s the comments that users will be stuck with Apple apps only whereas on a netbook you can run anything you like.  This is such a technology focussed argument, and not a user needs argument.  I think people have to ask what do they want to DO on their netbook, instead of what application do they want to run.  OK, there’s no or not much choice – you’re stuck with Apple Mail and Safari.  But who cares?  It works – I’ll still be able to check my email and surf the web and check Facebook and Twitter.   And then there’s Apple’s App Store.  I’m keen to find out what weird Windows application people find compelling to run on their netbooks that isn’t available on the App Store.

The argument should really be about lack of choice – but if you buy an iPhone/iPad – you’re buying one with the knowledge of how the platform works, and that you’re stuck with those choices.   But in my opinion, I’d rather an Apple endorsed and controlled App Store than thousands of free Linux applications that are not polished or easy to use or seemless.

Now, onto the multi-tasking argument.  Yes that sucks.  But I thought more about it.  Hasn’t anyone run so many Windows applications that the task switcher is 2-3 rows deep and the task bar is jammed with applications?   Is this manageable?  No.  Are there CPU cycles and battery life being wasted keeping all these applications running in the background when I only interact with one at a time?  Yes.  

What if CPUs came faster and faster (which they will), and switching from one application to another is nearly instantaneous – and it restored the last state of the last application?   Wouldn’t that “appear” to be multi-tasking?   I’m not a big buyer of the multi-tasking argument.  It’s not like I’ll be checking my email WHILE watching a video.  I’d want to watch the video.  Switch to look at my mail.  Then switch back to the video.  As long as the switching is very fast, it’s easy to switch between the applications, and video picks up where it was before, or applications or data can be downloaded in the background, I don’t really see the problem.  

Maybe the key is the effort required to switch between applications.  I guess that’s what the home button is for.   But I also know that on my Windows 7 laptop here, I often spend a while trying to find the application I want to switch to because I have so many running at once!  As far as I understand, the iPad will still allow Apple core services to multi-task in the background, so you should be able to get new mail notifications (and other notifications like Facebook ones?).   Maybe Apple needs a “recently used” list of something. 

As for other touch PCs that already exist that are “better” – well, again back to the iPhone argument – there are heaps of other mobile phones out there, but Apple managed to design one with the right aesthetics, right functionality (and right marketing) to make it work.  I’m sure they can do that again with the iPad.   Heck, that argument even works with applications and games in the App Store now!  There are usually multiple applications that do the same thing, but one usually sells much more than others.  It’s not WHAT you do, but HOW you do it 🙂

Shortcomings

I am disappointed that there’s no camera.  Why couldn’t they put a camera on it?  There are little cameras out there that have the iPad’s resolution of 1024×768.   Then you could use the iPad for video conferencing with your family or friends which would be awesome or PhotoBooth type applications. 

Also, I wonder if they should have included a stylus and hand writing recognition.  Maybe something that can be added on later, but I would imagine that would make the iPad excellent for note taking in lectures or meetings.  Did they even look at uni students and what they may typically need from a computer as a use case actor? 

The last thing that it’s missing is a memory card (SD/CompactFlash) and/or USB slot.  Then the iPad could make a dent in the portable media backup device market.  I could then leave the laptop at home on long holidays as I would be able to download photos from my camera onto the iPad.  Actually, if it had more than one, then it would open up being able to add additional memory to the iPad easily in the future.

Why would I buy one?

So why would I buy an iPad when I already have a laptop and an iPhone already?   For our family at home, we’ve transitioned one of our MacBooks into a nearly iPad role.  It sits in the kitchen, we look up recipes on it online, Wifey checks her email and Facebook, we check the weather and we surf the web on it.  That’s about it.  It’s a “kitchen” / family room computer.   It does take up some space with the keyboard, but an iPad that perhaps is docked onto the fridge or a kitchen wall would be ideal.  We could then undock it to look at photos or videos or surf the web on the family room couch if we need.   Actually, the iPad would be excellent as a kitchen computer.

Now, just to wait…

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MasterChef’s Apple Tarte Tatin

OK, I started getting adventurous and wanted to try a MasterChef recipe. I love apples, so I couldn’t go past the Apple Tarte Tatin.

One problem was that I’ve never ever cooked apple. Actually, I think a bigger problem is that I’ve never eaten Apple Tarte Tatin in my life either. What is it meant to look like.. or what is it meant to taste like?

Cooking the apples was no problem.  But I started wishing I had one of the MasterChef judges near me when I had to put the pastry on top.   Was I doing it right?

Cooking the applesPutting the pastry on top

Putting the whole pan into the oven was certainly a novelty for me.  I had visions of my cheap pan melting or the handle breaking off, but luckily it was fine!   It certainly looked nice when it was cooking.

But the true test was when I flipped it.

Cooking in the ovenUpside down

I was like, s#(%!  It didn’t look like the picture on the MasterChef website at all!  It was too dry, my pastry was too big.  Maybe I should’ve tucked it inside the pan instead of outside?  And the apples were the wrong colour altogether.  Hmmm…

The kids had a taste but didn’t like it at all..  but I managed to gobble down half of it before I was too full.   I think I’ll have to try this one again another day.

The MasterChef recipe is here: http://www.masterchef.com.au/apple-tarte-tatin.htm

Made the switch

I’ve made the switch.

Unboxing MacBook Pro

In the school holidays, I scouted around Perth to buy a MacBook Pro 13″ 2.53GHz.  It seems that this particular model is extremely popular in Perth – so much so that it was sold out in all central Perth stores!  I had to make a long trip to an outer suburban shopping centre to get mine.   Yep – I bought one of the last ones in Perth…

Contents

I couldn’t wait to get home to unbox it.  Like the iPhone, I love the way Apple packages its products.   It’s all so simple, clean and elegant.  Just like the MacBook Pro itself.  My new “silver diva”, I love everything about it – the backlit keyboard, the multi-touch touchpad (four finger swipe for Expose is great!), the sleekness, the battery life.

Backlit keyboard

Most annoying things so far are the sharp edge around the top base of the laptop.  It can get uncomfortable.    The only other annoyance for me – is having to relearn things and find equivalent programs for the ones I used in Windows.

Apple WWDC 2009 and new iPhone thoughts

Geeks around the world have been excited lately. 

First there was the annual computer games and electronic entertainment conference called E3 last weekend.  And then yesterday, Apple held its annual developer conference called WWDC.

At these conferences, there are stands with the latest gadgets and software on demo.  But they also host major keynotes – presentations – by major computer companies, where they unveil their latest products and offerings.

I haven’t been to one of these geek meccas before, but from the video footage and live blogs, geeks will excitedly applaud, cheer and even boo announcements as they are made.

Weird?  Not really.  I was thinking of waking up at 1AM Perth time to follow the announcements live, but…  I was too tired 🙂

So what’s new for iPhone users in the near future?

—–

A new iPhone 3G S

The new iPhone 3G S is an updated version of the current iPhone 3G.

Improved performance
The new iPhone 3GS is faster.  It’s interesting because the video demo on the Apple site seems to place quite a bit of importance on this.  I wonder if it’s their way of saying, “We don’t need multitasking because it’s so fast to start a new application anyway”.  I know this argument doesn’t really cover background processing, but maybe push technology is meant to cover that problem.

The “S” is for speed.  I wonder if the existing iPhone should be called iPhone 3G S too, where “S” means slow instead!

New 3 megapixel camera
The new camera has a few more pixels.  Doesn’t really make me that excited, plus I’m quite happy with the photos from the iPhone so far.  But the autofocus and tap to focus are much welcomed.  I couldn’t find much details, but it seems that the camera will focus and do some sort of spot metering for the spot that you touch on the screen.  I guess focus lock is not an issue if you can click anywhere to focus, but it would be nice to have independent exposure controls, an exposure lock or separate exposure tap.

Built in video camera with editing
The video preview of this looks great!  I love how easy Apple have made it to edit videos once you’ve taken it. As a parent, this is invaluable.  One less gadget to bring to the local park.

Voice Control
Be able to phone people, change songs, etc. just by speaking to your phone!  Sounds great doesn’t it?  But from the video preview, it appears that you need to press/hold the single menu button on the iPhone to “activate” or “start” listening for voice commands. 

This sucks!!  I just want to be able to talk to the phone without touching it at all!!  Maybe supply some sort of “activation” word that you can use so that everyday conversations won’t make your iPhone do things out of the blue.   For example, if I’m driving and want to phone someone or change music tracks, I don’t want to go reaching for that button. 

But not having to “train” the iPhone (as far as I can tell) is good.  I wonder how similar the voice recognition technology is to Sony’s voice control in the latest SingStar games.

Digital Compass
About time!  This will tell you which way you are pointing your phone. There’s been a few times when I’ve driven to somewhere new using Google Maps, stopped to check the map, but then realised I didn’t know which way I was facing.  I’d love to see this combined with streetview! I’d hope that you should be able to spin around physically and the images in streetview should line up with what you see live.

Maybe they should have added some reference tilt capability too.  Imagine the applications in astronomy!!  You would then be able to aim your camera at a part of the sky, and an application would be able to tell you what stars or constellation you’re looking at.  Or alternately, show you arrows to help you move your iPhone so that it’s pointing to a particular planet that you’re looking for.

Better battery life
Can only be a good thing.

—–

A new iPhone OS 3.0 Software Update

This was announced a few months ago, but basically, Apple are about to release a new OS/firmware, that will be used on the new iPhone 3GS, but also existing iPhone’s can be updated too.

Cut, Copy and Paste
I know people on the web have been screaming for this, but to tell you the truth, I’ve never really needed it so far. 

MMS
Yay!  Send photos and videos using SMS.  About time!!!  Although, to tell you the truth, I’ve gotten away with emailing photos to my Wifey lately.

Spotlight Search
Adds the ability to search for anything on your phone.  Spotlight is the search technology/term on Apple Mac computers. 

I’m actually looking forward to this.  Just the other day, I was trying to remember where I’d seen something on my iPhone. 

Landscape keyboard
I’ve never really had the need for this.  But I know that others on the net have been craving this.

Voice Memos
There are third party applications that do this already, and I’ve never used them except for novelty purposes.

—–

If you already have an iPhone and don’t plan on upgrading soon, Gizmodo have made a clear chart that shows exactly what you can get with the new iPhone OS on your existing iPhone here – http://i.gizmodo.com/5283468/iphone-3gs-vs-iphone-3g-feature-chart-comparison

More info on the Apple WWDC 2009 at Wired’s live blog coverage – http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/06/liveblog-wwdc09/

Upgrading MacBook RAM

Wifey has been complaining that her MacBook is realllllly slow.  Slow to load Firefox, slow to start iPhoto, slow to start mail.   I decided to have a look at it the other day and noticed it only had 1GB of RAM.  That’s not much at all… espeically when I see that she has many applications all running at the same time (often without realising it!).

Buying the RAM

Last weekend, I googled around to find out how to upgrade the RAM.  The Apple site has pretty clear instructions, so it was just a matter of buying the right type of RAM.  For her MacBook, the type to get is DDR2 667MHz SO-DIMM (PC2-5300).  

I decided to try buying RAM from the new MSY store in Balcatta.  The store looks small, but they seem to have quite a lot of stock.  The first thing that struck me as I walked in was how they had roped off multiple queues to the front counter – it must get pretty busy in there!   The staff were really friendly and helpful.  Unfortunately they were out of 2GB Kingston and Corsair sticks that I was after, but I was shown 3 other brands that they did have in stock, and I bought G.Skill in the end.

Each 2GB stick was $45, so the 4GB RAM upgrade came up to only $90 in the end!

Installing the RAM

To install the RAM, I basically just followed the clear instructions found on the Apple site.  Apple have really designed their MacBooks well.  All I needed was a coin (or flathead screwdriver) to unlock the battery, and then a small Philips screwdriver to remove 3 screws, and that’s it!

Removing the existing RAM is very easy by pushing the levers in the MacBook.  My only tip is – when putting in the new RAM, once you push it in gently, give it an extra push until the top of the RAM sits flush with the casing.

Performance Improvements

I did some timings of typical user actions that Wifey did before and after the RAM upgrade.  Here are the results:

Power On – 32 secs with 1GB down to 31 secs with 4GB

Mail – 9 secs with 1GB down to 3 secs with 4GB

iPhoto – 33 secs with 1GB down to 19 secs with 4GB

Opening Firefox for the 2nd time – 14 secs with 1GB down to 2 secs with 4GB

Wifey already has noticed a speed improvement when using multiple applications.  All good!

 

Step by Step

Two 2GB G.Skill RAM sticks for the MacBook
Two 2GB G.Skill RAM sticks for the MacBook
Unlocked and removed the battery
Unlocked and removed the battery
Removing the 3 screws
Removing the 3 screws
Removing the metal bracket covering the RAM slots
Removing the metal bracket covering the RAM slots
Comparing the MacBook RAM with the new RAM
Comparing the MacBook RAM with the new RAM
Push the new RAM in so that it sits in flush
Push the new RAM in so that it sits in flush
Mac OS X reports 4GB RAM
Mac OS X reports 4GB RAM