Apple Hardware, iPads, Laptops and Two-in-ones

iPad Pro

and while I’m at it Mr. Tim Cook, instead of spending time on unneeded frills as the watch you’ve released, you should have spent time on the iPad Pro. My third generation iPad is getting slow, and there is no room left. See my earlier post about what I want to see in an iPad Pro. 

I love the new MacBook, by the way.  I was almost convinced to get a 17″ MacBook but the specs are night and day. And I’ve been waiting for a new iPad. But at this rate I may be getting a new Windows laptop and a Surface Pro 4!

Oh, and I will not be seen driving around in an Apple carriage. Too afraid of what the little critters will do when I park it. 

Ok, so I’m not a comedian, what do you want?

My Rants

Apple watch

Well Mr Tim Cook, it’s like this:

  • I need a watch to tell time. 
  • I need a watch that syncs time over Bluetooth with my iPhone
  • I need a watch that auto-sets DST. 
  • I need a watch I don’t have to take off and charge every 18 hours. (What happens if I want to go out one night…). I actually only take mine off to shower.  And why can’t it charge itself from ambient light, oh wizards of Greeness?
  • I need a watch I can use as a compass, a barometer and a temperature device. 
  • If it has GPS and can summon help in the boondocks that would be a plus

The rest are frills.

I have never spent more than $250 for a watch in the last twenty years;  two solar powered, just got the second one because my wife complained the old one wasn’t shiny any more. 

But that’s just me. I don’t think I’ll be buying an Apple Watch, thank you very much. 

My Rants

iTunes 12 now a work of Abstract Art @tim_cook

Well, I guess it was bound to happen.  It appears that all of the folks responsible for the Windows 8 boondoggle are now working for Apple, at least on iTunes.

The new version is a classic work of abstract art.  You look at it, and look at it, and search it, and you still can’t use it.  Imagine the simplicity of copying items to a device:

Select the items

  1. Click and hold, then start dragging left (not right, not up, not down)
  2. A blue box will automagically appear and you can then drop your items wherever you want
  3. But don’t try it with a shared library;  it won’t work

Wasn’t that as intuitive as moving your mouse below the lower left corner of your screen to get a menu?

Of course, let me not forget the new model of help in iTunes;  you look up “compilations” and you get… nada.  You look up how to modify album an song info and you get:

  • Select Get Info…
  • Make changes to the details

Doesn’t that sound like the new MS Windows help?

@tim_cook Please check what is happening, you are going down the Windows 8 route

Apple Hardware, iOS

iPad Air 2, truly nothing but Air, @tim_cook

Well if that wasn’t a sleepy announcement I don’t know what would be. Excuse me while I nap…

So now we know how much Apple listens to their customers; as much as Microsoft. Way to go Tim. We’ be only been asking for a larger size iPad, the Pro for three years. We said we’d rather not have to lug around a hard keyboard if the soft keyboard was of full size and functionality. We said we wanted more memory. And OS X running under a windowed iOS and we said we wanted 256GB and 512GB flash options. We also asked to leave the form factor alone while increasing size and resolution. And more battery life.

Did Tim Cook et al take heed? Of course not, they’re too busy copying Microsoft’s frolicking.

So it appears the only one who had listened to our whispering was Steve Balmer. Well, just…

Mobile phones, PIM’s and Tablets

Review of Griffin Technologies Reveal case for iPhone 6 Plus

Just got two of these cases for our iPhone 6 Pluses. The case adds imperceptibly to the weight or the feel of the phone, and appears to protect well. We love the clear back which allows the iPhone’s rear case to show clearly through. Great in portrait mode as well, although I would have preferred a little more ‘stiction’ on the surrounding grip. It is a large phone which I use with one hand, there is a tendency for my hand to slip when reaching all the way across the phone. The only negative, and the reason I can’t give this case five stars, is that the raised lip around the front of the case, which by the way protects the phone’s glass in case of frontal drops, also hinders raising the Control Panel. In order to raise the Control Panel, you have to swipe up from the edge of the phone right around the middle of the spacebar. Not a problem in Portrait mode, but definitely a problem in Landscape mode where the protective lip is only a couple of millimeters from the screen edge. Perhaps, Grifin Technologies can flatten out the lip in that area of the case in the next version.

iOS, Operating Systems and Software

iOS 8 upgrades

Quick note, I upgraded our two iPhone 5’s (not S’s), two third gen. iPad’s and one retina mini iPad to iOS 8. The mini was the fastest, then the 5’s, and the iPad’s were very slow.

But the upgrade worked like a charm. For each device I closed all apps and rebooted it prior to the upgrade. Now if only our 6 pluses would get here; is it October 16th yet?

Apple Hardware, iPads, iPhone, Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

Rejuvenation of TenGo soft keyboard from Windows CE days for mobile devices

The best soft keyboard for mobile devices in Windows CE days, was TenGO.  This was a T9 type, predictive type-ahead keyboard, however, it provided for two alpha-buttons on each keyboard row, see illustration.  To type you simply entered the word by pressing one of the three six alpha-buttons, and the predictive type-ahead engine did a really cool job of figuring out the word you wanted to enter.  If it was not in the dictionary, you could select the actual letter in the alpha block, by pressing the soft key the number of times the position of the character represented I the block.  For example if you wanted to enter the character ‘d’ outside of the predictive type-ahead engine, you would press the ‘asdfg’ block three times.  Once a new word was entered it went in to the user dictionary and was available to the T9 engine at the next entry of that word.

I hope that the maker of this keyboard, will resurrect it now, not only on iOS but for Windows and Android mobile devices.  It was awesome.  TenGO are you listening?

tengo-thumb-2[1]

Digital Magazines, eBooks and Audiobooks

Looks like #Zinio may be packing it up…

Zinio, the best digital magazine experience available on all major platforms,  may be packing it up.  I noticed one of my auto-renewing subscriptions stopped deliveries in July.  I tried to get the Support number to call, but that no longer exists on the iOS app, or the web site.  The direct you to a link at the bottom of the web page, which is non-existent.  The only way to contact them is via web form, which have.

However, I tried calling the corporate number, during business hours.  Not a human to be found;  I even tried to get corporate sales and was told via an announcement that the best way to reach them was via a special eMail address.  If they don’t even man a sales line, things can’t be good.

I’ll be sorry to see them go.

IT & IT Professionals

What’s wrong with SAAS and software subscriptions

Generally three things:

1. You may have to turn your data over to the cloud. They don’t keep it separate. Your bits and bytes are right next to everyone else’s bits and bytes. What would it take to expose your data to others and vice versa? That is a frontier yet to be explored.

2. You are are hostage to the software vendor’s update whims. They update when they want, what they want. You have no option to take an exclusion. Same with O365…

3. If an upgrade causes logical or interface changes to the apps you are used to, well just… T O U G H ! ! ! And if the upgrade or other circumstances break your process flow… T O U G H ! ! ! Check you SLA.

4. And for all of the companies who had backups in triplicate going back seven years? When they turn it over to a vendor they throw all of the backup and DR plans out the door, because they assume the vendor has them protected. Guess again.

I’m not saying these app delivery methods are bad, but think before signing on the bottom line. Don’t throw away the baby with the bath water.

A. Make sure you have a method in place to constantly replicate your data from the cloud to OnPremises, in a usable format, not an object format.

B. If they allow it, make sure you can get on premises copies of their cloud software versions, prior to upgrades, and that they are usable in case you have to roll back from their cloud to your own OnPrem copies.

C. Good luck!

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

To Surface Pro 3 or not to Surface Pro 3, #5

It appears I am in a quandary, which is whether to convert from my iPad 3 to a Surface Pro 3.

As I’ve discussed in past blogs, the Surface Pro 3 is not a consumer tablet, and should not be expected to have the same lifetime as a consumer tablet.  I’m currently upgrading iPhones and iPads every two years;  I think the Surface Pro 3 will definitely have to last me at least three years.

I really would like to have the 512GB flash, but I can’t see spending $2,000 for it.  Especially when the difference between the i5 and i7 appears to be trivial.  But the top i5 model only comes with 256GB’s.  Will 256GB’s be enough for the extended time I will be keeping the new tablet?  In all likelihood, I just can see spending $700 for an extra 256GBs of storage, so I’ll probably look at the i5/256GB at $1,200.  Well that takes care of the hardware.

Now I’ll need a case.  It will have to be a book type case like on my iPad, so I can have it tilted at an angle to type on the soft-keyboard.  The little trinket in the back of the Surface Pro 3 which makes it stand at an angle is useless for me, unless I am watching a movie.  So probably another $100 for a case.

That’s about $1,500 total.  My last iPad cost $900.  I guess it isn’t bad considering what I’ll be getting.

But, wait a minute…  this is the company that:

  • Killed many programs I used, such as Flight Sim, Money, etc.
  • Got everyone on board Windows Media, and at version 9, killed them.  Now I have my entire music library on WMV, but since it is a dead technology, I have to find another encoder and convert my library to.  Box Music?  Nah…
  • Killed TechNet Professional subscriptions, not because they were losing money, but because the Cloudheads decided that the less admins that were left qualified to run the software, the more business it would draw to Azzure.
  • And for the money I’d have to spend on this deal, they can’t even throw in Office?

It goes back to two things:  a) the entire loyalty issue.  If Microsoft can’t be loyal to me, why should I be loyal to Microsoft?  Who has the bigger pockets me or them?  And all they appear trying to do is make my pockets smaller. b) A ship that is broadside to the wind;  a ship without a captain, a ship without a destination, a ship which will eventually founder.  Am I being a little too strong here you think?  Please tell me.  Remember, I am an MS fanboy…

Hhmm!  I think I’ll wait and see what Apple does with the iPad Pro.  May not have much of a choice in the end.

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

The Surface Pro 3, #4

I’ve been comparing the Surface Pro with my current tablet, the iPAD 3.  First, let me say that the Surface Pro 3 is NOT a consumer device.  Surface Pro 3 is a professional and enthusiast device.  I do not think Microsoft intended it as a consumer device, I’m sure the intended it for what it is.  It will not sell in the same numbers as the iPad or the Kindle.  The Surface Pro 3 is a pre-emptive shot at the iPad Pro, if such a thing exists, and is released by Apple.  End of topic.

This is where things stand at the moment, as I see them, from both a hardware and software perspective:

Hardware

Feature Surface Pro 3 IPAD 3
Screen Size Good Inadequate
Screen Aspect Ratio Good Good
Main Memory Good Inadquate for multi-tasking
Storage Good (i5/i7) Inadequate
Wifi Good Good
Cell None (not sure if this is really required, I can always use my iPhone to conect) Good
USB Good (Can use multi-dongle hub to increase ports) Inadequate
Battery endurance (probably) inadequate Inadequate
Pen Computing Good Inadequate
iTunes Music and Video Good – assumed since it runs Windows Pro Good
Apps Good – Desktop
Inadequate – Tablet
Good – TabletInadequate – Desktop
Soft keyboard Unknown Inadequate – works well in landscape mode, but entirely too man mode changes to get to keys required
Software included Inadequate – should have Office included, but can always install Libre Office Full suite – iWorks
Cameras Good for tablet Good for tablet
Screen Orientation Unknown Good portrait
Good landscape
Enterprise Tools Good – runs same tools as Windows 8.1 Pro Inadequate
Communications Tools Good – runs same tools as Windows 8.1 Pro Inadequate, no X, limited ssh, limited background running
Hardware keyboard Inadequate Inadequate
Weight Inadequate Good

 Software/Apps

Ipad Apps Surface Pro Desktop Apps
GoodReader None equivalent
Zinio Magazine Reader Zinio Magazine Reader, tablet and desktop
PressDisplay (Digital Newsparer) Tablet App, Web viewer
Feedly (RSS feed) Web viewer
iWorks None, perhaps Libre Office
OneNote OneNote
Amazon Prime Video Web viewer
Itunes Podcasts None equivalent
Radio/TV apps None equivalnet, most in Web viewer
Vuescan Vuescan
Worldcard (Business card scanner) None, Tablet Apps want access to private data
Apple Maps None
Clock None

So that’s how I see things at the moment. Check my next blog for my thoughts on whether to go the Surface Pro route or not.

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

The Surface Pro 3, #3

Here is an Intel comparison of the CPUs in the various models of the SP3:
SP3 CPU Comparison

From what I see, the i3 is brain dead. There is no turbo boost, and it runs the slowest of the three. As far as pricing is concerned, at $799 base and with only 64GBs of RAM AND LESS THAN 50GBs usable, I’d opt for an iPad Air.

The i7 appears to be slightly better in turbo mode than the i5, but slower by 200Mhz in standard operations. At $1,549/1,949 depending on 256GBs versus 512GBs, minus about 50GBs for the OS it is very pricy. Consider also that it does not include O365 or the keyboard cover.

Which brings us to the i5. The i5 has a faster base rate, with a slightly lesser turbo than the i7 models. It also has a slightly lesser GPU, but both run at the same exact rates. At $1,299, the i5 with 256GBs seems to be the best value of the three. If Microsoft considered throwing in a full copy of O365 and a keyboard, I’d be awfully tempted to go get one.

Which brings me to thought for future… The Metro/Modern UI sucks as bad as a mint julep through a straw with a hole in it. I’ve had to use it on \\Doros, my new uber box, but that is another topic.

I have a few apps on my iPad which have become indispensable, like PressReader, GoodReader and iWorks, and I’m sure there are more. But again, that’s another topic.

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

@timcook Microsoft threw the first shoe or the Surface Pro 3 #2

I still haven’t seen it, but one big concern I have is Office. So does Microsoft really expect me to shell out $2,000+, and still buy an O365 subscription? It isn’t happening.

I still want to see what the total street cost of a usable machine is. I could probably live with an i5 model, depending on the number of cores, with 8GBs main memory and 512GBs of flash.

Another point to investigate, is that supposedly the cover keyboard is mechanical. I kind of doubt that, but even if it is it may not be Cherry, it maybe a Chinese ripoff with non-tactile switches. Time will tell.

And my last question, does it come with Windows Pro, or Windows (Home)?

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

@timcook Microsoft threw the first shoe

The Surface Pro 3 is approaching usefulness. The only issue I have is the dance they did around battery life. Things I like about it:

1. Main memory (RAM)
2. Storage, I need 512GB
3. Full OS
4. High resolution display
5. Intel CPUs
6. Active pen
7. A real file system
8. A real computer aspect ratio, based on a letter sized page, not an HD tv’s

What I don’t like:

1. Short Battery life
2. Short Battery life
3. Short Battery life
4. A little smaller than I’d like. I was hoping for a 14″

I’m waiting to see the specs of the iPad Pro; what do you guys think I should get?

Apple Hardware, iPads, Laptops and Two-in-ones

@timcook I’m waiting for the #iPadPro

1. I expect 14″ or so
2. QHD
3. True background processing on apps I designate
4. Remote access from my PC/Mac/BSD/Linux
5. Active stylus
6. USB 3 port capable of cow line hub
7. OSX with shell
8. Either provide better on screen keyboard options, or open it up to third parties, NOW.

I’m really getting tired of companies that provide a great concept device, but then sit on it. IOS did not need a face lift as much as it needed an update of its Human Interface.

IT & IT Professionals, Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft wonders why they don’t have geek loyalty…

Well, let’s count the ways they’ve burned the hands that feed them…

1. The #ribbon. We spoke loudly against it. We asked for a ribbon and a File/Edit menu alongside.

We were ignored.

2. MS killed Aces studio, makers of FlightSim.
We were flabbergasted the would kill one of the top geek products.

3. They gave us Vista.

We were at our wits end, that they wanted us to roll it out to users.

4. They gave us more ribbons.

We were astounded to find out the GUI customer forums had been replaced by… Yes men, err, MS managers.

5. Along the way They also killed Exchange public groups, I think they were called?

Hello? Have they heard of f.cebook, or worse, yammer?

6. Then they go kill off WME; I draw the line there, all my digitized images, music and movies are using WME encoding.

What is it that I’m supposed to use now? XBOX? That’s what they’re selling or spinning off right?

7. Let’s not forget the Labyrinth that is Windows 8? Which users did they talk with that convinced them we all want a single Windows OS for our PCs our tablets, phablets, phones, cars, and toilets? Sure it would have sounded beat, for a day maybe, then reality should have set in.

Perhaps that was the issue… Reality.

8. Finally they expect us to turn over our apps, and this is not only MS but other dynamic compute providers, for them to manage in the cloud.

We’re supposed to train the low payed minions they hire to manage and run all this, and then we’re supposed to slip quietly to welfare, or some cardboard boxes under some bridges

9. Fooled you, you thought I was finished, didn’t you? Then they kill off TechNet subscriptions.

Oh yeah I know the web site is still there. But have you run any searches lately that don’t bring back 90% Cloud responses? And where do they say we can see these grandiose systems they will be developing in the feature?

TechCloud, of course. And let’s not forget TechEd, or should I say CloudEd? Even the great propagandist, Mr Thurrott himself said there were slim pickings if you wanted anything but cloud.

10. Now finally they pissed off or on, same difference the vendors that were making hardware for MS software, and perhaps justifiably so.

But what does MS DO? They start making the same old cheap, low end crap they complained the vendors were making. Movie proportioned screens instead of paper proportioned; low resolution screens, short battery life; unimaginative and crappy software; oh, but they are trying to sell them at Apple price levels.

I also don’t know what they will do in the future, but I’ve spent thousands on WinCE devices whose OS may have lasted six months. But I couldn’t upgrade because they’d changed the hardware specs.

So dear Mr Nadella, (@satyanadella)?

Do you see why all of these hardware vendors, including Intel, are going with Chrome or Android?

Do you see why many companies moving to the cloud are doing so, but still managing their own data?

Do you see why us geeks are not likely to support you in the future?

And in all honestly, your office products aren’t innovative; they are weird and bloatware. As for server systems, the only thing not in the market elsewhere is Exchange.

But I’m sure MS will get around to that as we’ll.

Wow, I feel as if I need to spend some time in purgatory after that entire tirade.

The unfortunate part is that I really don’t have any answers. Except for split the OS GUI’s to their device parts, increase the hardware quality and drop the cost, and finally lose the darned ribbon.

Good night.

IT & IT Professionals

MS declares War on IT Pro’s #2

So, let’s review Microsoft’s actions as regards IT Pro’s, and internal IT in general:

  1. Killed Technet magazine
  2. Killed Technet Pro subscriptions
  3. Killed many IT Pro geared conferences
  4. Changed Technet focus to Azure hosted services- (have you tried a Technet subject matter search lately? Have you looked for tutorials lately?
  5. Is targeting sales to Management with sweet deals on hosted services

And I’m sure that is the start. After all, they keep telling us they are transforming to a services and devices company. Where does it leave internal IT and IT Pro’s? Better start sharpening your Linux/FreeBSD skills.

Oh, and Powershell? Stick with Bash and Python.

As always, I welcome your views.

iOS

Apple iPad Pro #2

So, now that Apple has released an iPad Air, how far behind is the iPad Pro?

Here is my wish list for the iPad Pro.

      Intel x86-64 CPU, quad core

 

      8-16GB RAM

 

      512GB storage

 

      14″ display with a 4:3 aspect ratio

 

      QHD resolution

 

      Digital pen

 

      OSX running iOS in windowed mode

 

      USB 3 port(s) with the ability to charge from an external keyboard/battery

 

      12 hour battery

 

    8Mpxl camera, for scanning and OCR

I’m probably way off, but that is what I think I want in the next generation and form factor iPad.
How likely do you think that I may be close?
What would you like to see?