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technotes

Apple's latest offerings don't disappoint

posted by Kristin Lynch

Jun 11

Apple WWDC 2010 Keynote AddressListening to Apple's keynote address at WWDC on Monday, I was struck by the audience's reaction. Since the WWDC audience consists primarily of application developers and technology media, it's fair to assume that they've done more than their share of speculation about what will be announced. Yet they still manage to react like giddy children at a magic show - oohing and aahing with excitement.

And I reacted the same way, though I oohed in the privacy of my living room in front of my MacBook Pro - simultaneously listening to the keynote (and occasionally watching it as video feeds became available for short periods), watching podcasts, following a chat feed and live tweeting the entire experience to grateful friends who were unable to participate. We all had expectations of what would be revealed surrounding Mac OS 10.7 (Lion), iOS 5 and iCloud. Our speculation was accurate while allowing Steve Jobs the satisfaction of still being able to provide us with a few surprises.

Some highlights:

Mac OS 10.7 (Lion)

250 new features, including multitouch gestures, fullscreen apps, Mission Control, Launchpad, Versions, Airdrop and new email functionality. Available only through the Mac App Store starting in July, and at a very reasonable price of $30 for up to 5 devices. Sweet.

iOS 5

More than 200 new features for our iPhones and iPads, including the much awaited new notifications system. No more annoying popups that must be attended to immediately. Awesomesauce. A new iBooks type of application specifically geared for newspapers and magazines called Newstand. Seamless Twitter integration. New Safari features such as tabbed browsing and page saving. A new reminders 'to do' list application. Improvements to their already impressive and popular camera - such as faster loading, pinch zoom, auto-exposure, red eye reduction and more. New mail features and a new messaging client. Most importantly, we're FINALLY PC Free! We will no longer be required to use the archaic method of connecting our devices to cables in order to install and update content. We'll also enjoy over the air 'delta' updates, resulting in smaller, faster downloads. Biggest surprise? iOS 5 will work on iPhones back to the 3GS. Most of us assumed iOS 5 would only be made available for the iPhone 4 and 5.

iCloud 

No more MobileMe. Even Steve made a joke about MobileMe, one of the only self-proclaimed 'failures' in the Apple product line. iCloud will replace MobileMe and provide much more functionality - while at the same time eliminating the $99 yearly fee. iCloud becomes your content source, wirelessly and seamlessly integrating content between your devices. Your documents, bookmarks, messages, etc. all save automatically to the cloud. Get a new iPhone? Just enter your Apple ID and your data restores itself the new device. Photos will automatically be stored between your Mac and iOS devices. Music and other iTunes content will also be available immediately across your devices. iTunes Match is a new product that allows users to access their iTunes content across devices, regardless of where it was purchased. To those of us with huge libraries of content purchased outside of iTunes, it is very reasonably priced at $25/year.

My only disappointment? That more wasn't made immediately available to consumers. I realize the address was intended for developers, but I was still hoping that at least iOS 5 and iCloud would be available same day as the keynote. But once again, Apple leaves us happily excited about their new products, and even happier that most of the new offerings won't even require us to open our wallets.

A week with the iPad

posted by Kristin Lynch

Apr 15

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
I spent about a month deciding whether or not I'd be plopping down some cash to buy an Apple iPad, then another few days listening to nerdy discussions about which version to buy - the WiFi version now available, or wait until the 3G version makes its appearance in late April. I opted to get the mid-range 32GB WiFi version.

My reasoning?

1. My experience with my MacBook Pro has been that I've almost always been able to connect via WiFi wherever I am.

2. I already have an unlimited access iPhone that's always with me so I'm never disconnected via 3G, and I really don't need to shell out any additional service fees to AT&T anyway. This model saved me about $250 over the 3G model I had previously considered.

3. It's probably just a matter of time before MiFi becomes more accessible and more reasonably priced.

4. The only time I'd likely suffer from a lack of WiFi coverage is on the road, and since I travel alone 99% of the time, I can't really use the device while I'm driving. Well, I COULD but that would be really stupid.

So what do I think of it so far? I love it. Reading books is great, typing takes a little to get used to, but the learning curve is no different than that of an iPhone or BlackBerry. The screen is beautiful, movies and games are more enjoyable. Some of my favorite cool iPhone apps have already been rebuilt beautifully for the iPad - making use of the large screen and space. Battery life is very impressive, and the device turns on instantly - there's no such thing as booting up.

I use a lot of book documentation for my work and now have about 16 of them in PDF version on my iPad. That alone is worth it to me. I don't have to carry my laptop around when I just want to read my PDFs, and they're very handily available docked next to my laptop while I code. I have several PowerPoint presentations I need to access regularly for an ongoing training project. Additionally, I have several software manuals saved there in PDF format for reference purposes.

The entertainment tools - photos, music, movies, games - are splendid. You have to try them yourself to get the full effect. I can't do it justice. New applications are being released for the device every day and many are very impressive.

Some favorites: GoodReader is a very nice document manager. The NetFlix application plays your streaming library. AirStudio accesses your home movie library over your WiFi network connection. Evernote - already a favorite Windows, Mac and iPhone application - is very impressive on the iPad. The iBook application is getting so much use when I go to bed that I'm losing sleep. Elements is a gorgeous way to present the periodic table. This application alone gives us an idea about the future of books and how we'll use information.

So far my friends' reactions have ranged from 'yeah hi where is it?', 'ooh slick....now I want one' to 'I still have no idea why I would need one but I kind of want one anyway'. I was asked to talk with a class of Mercyhurst College students recently about my career. I brought my iPad to show the instructor - a longtime friend and fellow geek, who immediately took a photo of it and sent it to his wife. The class was understandably more interested in seeing the device than hearing me blather on about myself, and they had some great questions. I've been asked about the inability to connect peripherals, and the likelihood of the iPad becoming a laptop replacement. My answer depends on who's asking. If you mainly use your computer for web surfing, e-mail, watching videos, listening to music and viewing photos, then this could become a great portable device for you. For heavy computer users like me, no - but it can be a great device for managing those tasks without needing to access your desktop or laptop.

As much as I enjoy the iPad, I have to believe that the real 'killer app' for the device hasn't even been released yet. An app is going to be released and consumers will say 'wow, OK now I know why I need an iPad.' I think we will see that day very soon.

Incidentally, I wrote this entire post on my iPad using the WordPress application.
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me w/ baby madisonWow, it's been a long time since I've posted. I've been rather scattered working on several other projects.  I've been catching up on some reading and research, but I can't really share much of that now so I'll save that for another time.I've been spending time with family - and of course the new puppy! I am so crazy about Madison. I don't think I could possibly love her more than I do already. She's adorable from head to toe, and has an equally adorable personality. She was definitely worth the trip to South Carolina to pick her up! I went to a New York Yankees game two weeks ago, as I usually do at least once or twice every summer. This time they played the Cleveland Indians at Jacob's Field. Yes, I know it's now called Progressive Field, but I don't dig these corporately named sports venues so I tend to boycott these titles altogether. I've seen the Yankees play countless times over the past 30+ years, but I've rarely seen them lose in person. Unfortunately, this was one of those times. But, the weather was perfect and we had great seats, so it's almost impossible not to enjoy the day anyway. Well, unless you were the creep sitting right in front of me. This guy is a heart attack waiting to happen. He screamed at both teams...except when he was sulking and huffing in silence. Everyone turned around to get a look at this moron ranting and raving over almost every play. To make matters worse, his wife was visibly embarrassed.

 jacob's field (aka progressive field): may 31, 2009I think I have a problem. I've become a Law & Order junkie. I watch it so often I'm very confident I could pass the New York state bar exam. On a completely unrelated-to-anything note, this afternoon I saw a professionally created poster sign for an upcoming event containing at least 3 VERY obvious errors. I got to thinking about how someone was obviously paid to do this project so that was bad enough, but then I wondered how many people saw this poster and signed off on it without noticing the glaring errors. But then, I frequently run across errors in magazines, the newspaper, commercials, etc. so I should no longer be surprised. I've been well-steeped in homebody mode over the past couple of months. I haven't gone out at all, haven't had so much as a beer during this time, and haven't missed it at all. I'm sure I'll be off the wagon again soon, and I'm going to an anniversary party at The Plymouth this weekend but I think that would be a really bad time for me to start drinking again.

the new 15" macbook proAnyway, for now I've been enjoying my toys at home - watching movies, working on my laptops, cleaning, reading, shopping, etc. I wouldn't say I'm really saving money, but the money I have been spending has been put to better use than on renting beer. Speaking of laptops, I still have my Dell Inspiron E105 (for now, anyway) but I just procured a new MacBook Pro - 15" unibody, 2.66mhz, 320gb hard drive, 4gb ram, SuperDrive, and all the other standard items that come with the Mac laptops. It's quite sa-weet! I'm still in the process of getting everything configured just the way I want, and set up everything so I can work most efficiently, but I'll get there. At least now I have the time to devote to this kind of project.
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Apple's latest offerings don't disappoint

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