Thursday, April 28, 2011

13" Mac Book Pro and iPhone4 Hotspot

The relatively new hotspot function that was added with IOS4.3 on the iPhone has made the 13" Mac Book Pro and my iPhone4 perfect traveling companions, with one exception.  Lets focus on the good first.

For me, the hotspot function on my iPhone has sealed the deal with utilizing the laptop over the iPad2.  With my secure connection I'm up and running in no time while traveling.  While I'm not an everyday rail commuter, I did recently travel to the big city and found myself on a few rails utilizing my laptop and iPhone.

I find the little 13" Mac Book Pro the perfect travel size.  Its small enough for any of my briefcases or backpacks, with plenty of room left over for paperwork and accessories.  Up until the hotspot option, I had to rely on an air card.  I don't consider myself lazy, but it used to drive me crazy having to start up the computer, then plug in the air card, then after it loaded, click connect etc etc.  That is the old way now.  I've streamlined everything and I'm practically going instantly with the hotspot on my side at all times.

The one exception I mentioned above is when collaborating on projects on the road where I need to talk on the phone and utilizing Google Docs online; Houston we have a problem. Maybe one of these days I'll be more comfortable with Google Talk and that will solved the problem.  For now though I will find hotspots like Starbucks to utilize both the phone and computer at the same time.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blogging on the Go? Use your cell.

"Using the iPhone to blog." was posted from my iPhone4. But can it be successfully incorporated in the business? I think so, but not in the traditional sense; but  I'll have to get back to you, as this is a work in progress.

iPad2 is Great, But...

Well,  I finally got around to testing and utilizing the iPad2. I've now used it on the road, plane, and one foreign country.  I tried it as a replacement to my laptop while on the road, a business tool, a means of entertainment, and reader.  I can say it looks cool and makes me even look like a cool techie (okay maybe not that cool).

If you think you are concerned with breaking the glass on your iPhone, just imagine worrying about the iPad screen.  I had hoped that Apple was going with the gorilla glass we had seen so much about the last couple of years.  I did like the new case/stand/cover that Apple came up with, but when spending that kind of dough, I only trust OtterBox. No, they have never given me anything, but their cases have protected my and the family's iphones; and their warrant is outstanding.

With all of the above considered, for me, the iPad2 makes a great net book replacement.  The price is competitive, the picture is wonderful, Netflix is great with it, etc.  I really enjoyed the entertainment aspect, especially watching Netflix over the free wifi while staying in hotels.

There always has to be a "but" and here it is. I can say that while it is fast, convenient, and easy to use, it is not a replacement for my Mac Book Pro while on the go.  As a matter of fact, having an iPhone4 in conjunction with my 13" Pro is actually easier to travel with while conducting business.  This became even more the fact with the iPhones ability to become a hot spot (but thats a later story).  Over the course of my testing, I found myself in need of my laptop more often than not; and when I didn't need my laptop, the iPhone would have worked just as well as the iPad.

I enjoyed the experience, but the iPad2 was not a keeper for me.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The BlackBerry Bold; not so Smart, but a good Phone

In the evolution of “smart phones,” there was a time when the BlackBerry could have been considered the smartest phone around.  Times have changed, but BlackBerry, not so very much.  Well, that’s not entirely true; my first BlackBerry, you remember it, that odd shaped phone that was kind of wide and squatty, was tough as nails, fit the hand well, and I could type like no tomorrow.
So, some things have changed.  RIM has bought into style over function, and who knows, this has probably sold more phones. Of course some work has gone to function, like the track ball.  Unfortunately the track ball also made the phone somewhat fragile.  We have gone through them so fast at work, at least they always look new, which makes purchasing a service contract a necessity.  We have also noticed that the Curves likes to lockup while taking it out of the holster when receiving an email or phone call.
Recently I just replaced the Curve with the Bold 9700.  So far I’ve found the touch pad, in place of the track ball a great improvement.  I just hope it will hold up and last longer than the track ball; time will tell.  The newer Bold is also smaller and I believe its the same size (or darn close) as the Curve.  I was looking forward to having larger keys like on the original Bold, but oh well.
The Bold has the potential to be a good work phone for making calls, reading and sending basic emails, text, etc., but thats about it.  The screen is really too small to do much internet surfing or reading Google News, but if your in a tight, it will work.  It does have tethering capabilities, however you lose your phone function while doing so.
If this new Bold will be tough as nails, like their originals, it will be a much appreciated step forward.  I just wish they would make a few functional upgrades and not worry so much about style.  I know in my work, if the BlackBerry would tether wirelessly and/or double as a hub for say three or four laptops while still maintaining phone functionality, we would dump all our air cards in a heartbeat.  A wide selection of apps wouldn’t hurt either.
The fact is that BlackBerry is an excellent foundation for a phone of the future.  It would also dominate the business market, leaving the Iphone in the dust.  I just hope they are not using the Palm playbook on how to go from first to last.  
RIM, it really wouldn’t take too much to make BlackBerry an outstanding “Smart Phone” again!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Microsoft Office, Iwork, or Google Docs; Which one do you use?

Microsoft used to be king in the office documents area.  As king, they could charge a premium for their office product.  They even worked out a deal and moved into the Mac market with Microsoft Office for Mac.  Microsoft has worked hard at being and keeping the title of king.  The only good thing, in my opinion, that has come out of this is compatibility.  Everyone else that has created office software has made theirs compatible with the king.

This has allowed people to save money on less expensive software options.  Inter Google Docs! Free is a very good price, if it works; and work is does.  I have been testing Google Docs for a couple of weeks now and have moved documents back and forth from Office XP, 2003, 2007, Iwork09, and Open Office.  All have worked well. It helps to save as a word document in Iwork!  There are times when you had whistles and bells in one format that doesn't always translate well in the other programs.  So keep it simple if you're sending your document out to a wide audience via electronic means (which seems to be the norm these days).

NOTE: Open Office is another free office program that allows you to down load the software on your PC for free.

The benefit of Google Docs is that its online and available on any computer as long as you have internet access.  This also allows for multiple people to collaborate on projects especially utilizing Google Wave. And did I mention its free!  Of course if you need more space than what Google provides for free, then you can always buy more space from Google for a very low price!

Microsoft is starting to feel the heat, as their office prices seem to be coming down. I do believe that as some of these new contenders take a bite out of the market, we will see Microsoft adding more options while also lowering their price.

Give Google Docs a try. I'm betting you will feel right at home.

Monday, January 18, 2010

From PC to Mac

With the natural transition of hand-me-downs, it was time to replace the kids' computer.  The Dell desktop that they were using had been a faithful device since 2000.  A couple of years ago I upgraded the memory and operating system, but with the recent crash of the hard drive, it was time to move on.  We ended up sharing my laptop, Dell Inspiron circa 2005, for a couple of months.  As they had practically taken it over, I decided to hand it down to them and buy a new laptop.

After reading reviews from Consumer Report, Cnet, and others, I decided to do something I'd been wanting to do for some time; I bought a Mac; more specifically I purchased a 13" Mac Book Pro.  I'd looked and read about Macs for years but had been held back by the price.  Upon comparing the PC to Mac, I found that we really weren't talking about that much difference in price. I decided it was time to make the investment.  Before the purchase, I spent some time on the Apple web site and then in the Apple store.  Both places convinced me I would get a good bang for my buck and the transition should not be too difficult.

That was approximately six months ago, and I've never looked back! The transition to Mac, I'm happy to report, has been very easy. Basically I ended up putting my documents on a couple of DVDs and then loaded them into documents, photos, etc. on the new Mac.  It worked, no issues what so ever.

The only program I purchased for the Mac was Iwork09. I had debated purchasing Microsoft Office for Mac, but decided to save a few dollars.  (In the next post I'll talk about some options that might save you some money regardless of PC or Mac.) For 99 percent of the time, I'm happy with Iwork09, but there are some times when work and home intermix and things might have been easier with Office (and thats just really with the work coming in, as I have the ability in Iwork to save in word format for documents going out).

In conclusion, I'm glad I made the leap to Mac.  The change was even easier than I thought it would be.  If I were to be asked whats the basic different between the two, I would have to say that Mac is more of a common sense approach to freedom computing, while PC tries to do more and doesn't let you off the path.
In the words of mothers everywhere, "try it, you just might like it."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Which is more important in the purchase; processor, memory or hard drive?

Regardless if you are looking for a laptop or desktop, one of the fist choices you will be confronted with will be what processor to choose.  Go to Dell and the first real decision you will have to make is what processor do you want to for your computer.  You should note that 9 times out of 10, the “recommended” one will be an upgrade from the base price the site first showed you.

I’m a basic type of guy, but this is one area you should always spend the money!  There will be many choices along the way to configuring or selecting your new laptop or desktop. Few of the decisions will impact your short and long term satisfaction of  purchase more than the processor selection.

The processor, for the most of us, is one part of the computer that your are stuck with after the purchase.  There is no inexpensive way to upgrade the processor after purchase.  Thats not the same case for memory (RAM) or hard drives.  You will be much better served to splurge on the processor even if that means you will have to go with minimums in every other selection.

Memory and storage are cheap when you buy the computer and guess what, they are cheap when you want to upgrade your computer down the road.  Not to mention the fact that most users can make these upgrades themselves.  Sure changing an internal hard drive isn’t the easiest thing to do; so buy an external one.  Many, if not most, external hard drives are “plug and play” so to speak. Meaning just plug it into the USB port and the computer will walk you thru the setup.  Its no more complicated than a thumb drive.

So when picking out that new computer, spend an extra minute looking at the processor and spend the money there instead of 6 GB of RAM or that 500 GB hard drive.  You’ll be glad you did!