Apple Cares!

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Despite all the writings of disappointment in Apple’s latest offerings: iPad Air, Mini Retina, OS Maverick, …, Apple is still one of the most organized, consumer oriented company. WHY? Check out this link: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1353#. A link that shows a chronological display of all the iPods that existed and exist. I found mine, a fifth generation 2006 release with 80GB, and I paid good money for it, $600 in 2006. The incredible thing is that a seven years old portable music player that allows for current software updates, and still plays my library with no hitches whatsover. That I call a good return on investment. In comparison, my Sony’s Net MD Walkman Mz-N510, obviously is no longer supported, but I did manage to locate an old software driver in Sony’s esupport page. I paid $500 for it, and used it for a year: Bad investment, so is my little ZEN plus from Creative. No battery replacement option.

Here is my point, a good product is a good product, period. I have an iPad2, and am very happy with it. I tried out the iPad Air, and it’s true, not breath-takingly spectacular in any sense to me, but for the ones who have never owned one, it is pretty amusing! And I bet that’s Apple strategy, attract new, or convert, one at a time! there is no rush to amass market share increment in one shot, besides, they don’t need to.

I think this is an important lesson for the other hardware producing companies to take notice. Your gadget derivatives are chasing away your customers! Google is probably the exception so far with its Nexus line. The others, too many names, too many models, total confusion.

So why is Apple winning: stylish, simple lines, and values. The most important of it all, they seem to care about the products they sold that I own. Yes, at a premium, and perhaps the differential is that intangible value you pay for.

Cheers.

Windows Media Center vs. iTunes Home Sharing

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Update (Oct 29, 2013): With Home Sharing turned on and iTunes11, all my devices(iPad, iPhone, Netbook) are synced with my main PC (i3, Win7) with medias in an external HD! Sweet. No fuzz with Win Media Center anymore.

How: with your iPad, iPhone, open Music app, and look for Share in More… click your library. For other PC, install iTunes and turns on Home Sharing.

(Nov, 11,2012)So I had been using my 7 years old resurrected HP laptop as a media center with my music library residing in one of my external HDs. It had been doing a decent job, but sometimes it had been a hit and miss; for example, adding new materials, sometimes, they showed up and other they just didn’t. It took me a while to learn to play all songs with shuffle, and to do a search (it only takes up to 4 characters I remember). I used it for about a month, then I figured out it was easier to pop a CD into my DVD player to play music with my AV receiver  (Those you attach with big speakers!).

Anyhow, a light bulb moment today! Since I have to turn on my main laptop anyway for either streaming – Windows Media Center or iTunes – and I have my iPad, why don’t I use iTunes’ Home Sharing instead? Besides, my music repertoire is already in iTunes. The only worry I have is the output quality through the headphone jack to a pair of RCA plugs to my AV receiver, I test it and it sounds decent!

So what is nice about using iPad as my media center instead? Well, everything is now touch base! and the library recognition is painless and seamless. What you see in iTunes is what I get on my iPad, and ‘Music’ app is easy to use and to find and pick songs. I can also stream videos with Home Sharing.

How to turn on Home Sharing in iTunes (PC): Find the Advance Tab, Turn-on Home Sharing using your Apple ID

On iPad, iPod Touch, and  iPhone under music>settings>turn-on Home Sharing, and ‘Music’ app, under ‘more’ >sharing>select your music and video library.  This means I get the same libraries on my iPhone too, an additional tool to play my music and videos at home.

With the PS3 system, it will recognize Windows Medias automatically if you turn your sharing on in the PC. That’s another option to stream your medias at home. I guess that’s the same for the Xbox 360.

Now I don’t have a Window Surface, so I don’t know if the touch-base experience will be the same?! With an Android tablet, I believe Boxee is perhaps a good option, it works with iPad too.

There you have it, I figure it will be cool to use this setup for your Christmas Party! Sure, you can download music to your iPad and plug it to one of those extended speakers, but with my way you have access to thousands of songs !!! and additional audio settings with your AV receiver.

Cheers.

PC… who needs it, anymore?!

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I was at Costco yesterday, I was totally surprised to see that there was a desktop model on display, the others were All-in-One loaded with Windows 8.

I think owning an All-in-One is just silly. Imagine standing and swiping away like a restaurant waiter to get to the webpage you want, or worse try typing a letter in WORD using the screen-keyboard. Sure, you can sit and do the same, but I bet after 10 minutes, your arm will get tired. Besides, All-in-One is not new! If you have been following the evolution of Microsoft’s OS, Acer and HP had touch-screen all-in-One since Windows 7, just that no one was buying them. To be honest, even if an iMac 27″, I doubt I will get one, or salivate to get one; it’s just not practical. This will only make sense if you using the computer passively: watching videos, playing music and games, etc.: touch here, touch there…

If you connect the dots, iPad and tablets are doing exactly just that. Sure, you may also occasionally type an email, reply to text, post a picture, … but the difference is that tablets and iPad are lighter and totally mobile. I can type anywhere I want with a blue-tooth keyboard, and it is just as good, if not better.

Another point why PC is dead? Before you might need to bring work home, but laptop has become so cheap that you likely can use one of your offices’ to do real work. It means the days you had to use your home computer to finish a report was so yesteryear. Likely, you get a laptop on loan, and VPN into your office network to get the files you need, and work away. This also means even thumbdrive is another technology of the past; besides, your company probably never allows you to download stuff on a thumbdrive anymore for security reasons. Remember those thumbdrive-gates, where public servants lost drives with sensitive information on them, and worse they were un-encrypted?!

Of course, some will argue that they still need a home computer to edit their photos, home movies, and stuff like that. Seriously, how many people are really doing those?! Never mind some people still have a hard time understanding an OS! Besides, Photoshop, InDesign, iMovies, …are really meant for the pro.

So it became apparent last week when I decided to get the last few bucks out of my Netbook (remember those?!), I installed Lubuntu hoping to get more speed out of the thing: Gateway 11″ LT311h, WinXP. It did and I was happy that finally everything was working with this Ubuntu version 12.04. Its WIFI was working seamlessly (three years ago, I was still struggling with it to recognize my router, and it never did, I used ethernet …long story). My next dilemma was whether to get a new battery, so that I could use it at cafés, etc, and mostly for writing stuff like this. Gladly, I didn’t. I found an inexpensive ($14) blue-tooth keyboard, Logitech designed by ZAGG, to pair with my iPad2. In fact, with iOS7, it works even better.

Here is the deal, companies like CloudOn, Google, are offering workable version of Office derivatives (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) in the Cloud, and files created are sync-able with Dropbox, Google Drive, and the likes, which means as long as there is a WIFI connection, I can work on those files as I please. Of course, one caveat is that you may not want to work on anything confidential on an open Hotspot. But at home, it’s game!

So iPad and tablets are in and laptop will soon be out, but not entirely, students still need them. Commercial laptop will remain, unless we revert back to terminal.

Mind you, I still prefer to write my blogs using my 15.6″ laptop, but for simple outdoor writing with a café au lait, my iPad/Logitech duo is nothing but perfect: light, truly functional, and practical now!

P.S. I use iWriter (Apple’s App) for basic non-format writing.

iOS7 has landed!

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There are many improvements, but after reading some reviews, I do agree there is a speed issue, i.e., some apps seem to take a while longer to open up, but so far no crashes.

As I said in Twitter before, it’s an OS update, but essentially it is the sleekness that will draw people’s attention.

Likes:

1. Locked-screen Notifications: clear and readable, easy sliding to check all of them.
2. Clean screen swipe to get to passcode entry.
3. Keypad seems to be more sensitive reading input letters. Before, I always had to correct my entry entering the wrong letter or number.
4. Dimensional layers are cool, i.e., the set-back background makes the app-icons look floating above. With iPad, you get dynamic motion background.

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5. Mutli-apps accessibility. Double-click the home button will show all active apps. Swipe up will close it. In other words, no more negative sign to close them on the bottom bar, when home button is double-clicked.
6. Easy pull up (from bottom) to change most used settings, like bluetooth, wifi, camera…
7. Same, while in use, pull down from top to show notifications. Interesting iPad version now also includes weather report.
8. Camera controls are now on the left and right side, which makes them more accessible.
9. Overall, it feels lighter with the esthetic changes? psychological or good design?!

Dislikes:

1. It seems it takes more power, so it lasts shorter between re-charges (non scientific).
2. Apps may take longer to load.
3. Can’t slide2right an email to delete it anymore.
4. If you have the setting set to “show all”in Music, your music library will include those purchased in the iCloud… I turned it off, so it only shows the ones that are downloaded to my devices. Besides, you can’t play the ones with iCloud symbol, you have to download them(again) first ??? very confusing.

An OS, is an OS, is an OS… iOS7 is sexy, sleek, as predicted, and easy on the eyes- no sound wiping, no vibration swiping, no big screens, small screens, opaque, transparent, big icons, small icons,…and no calories (Jelly bean, Donut, Kit-Kat: WHY)!!!

Cheers.

iOS7: Selling Sleekness

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What a smart move when the two icon-based systems, Android and iOS, are getting hard to distinguish, Apple pulls its design trump card! Perhaps saying copy all you want, we create, or Apple is just tired of all the patents lawsuits with Samsung.

I watched the video http://www.apple.com/ios/ios7/features/ to get to know some of the new features. My impression was more form over substance, even the recording voice and image of John Ive, SVP, Design, gave the feel that I was in a meditation session: calm, tranquil in the luxury displays of new interfaces, yes, sublime too.

I bet this is also a direct assault to MS Win8, remember the busy click-clack of tiles in its commericals?

What does this mean? iPhone will stay, despite I and my friends were getting bored with it, since there were no drastic changes for the longest time until this announcement.

People who like esthetic stuff and somewhat practical will remain loyal customers. I will put my hand up too after seeing this (I like nice designs), though I was seriously thinking of upgrading to Samsung’s S4 or Note III for practicality reasons the last few months.

Don’t forget Apple is a luxury brand and that’s what it is selling!

Think Rolex, Cartier, Louis Vuitton!

Regain space on iPad

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I have an iPad 2 with 16GB. As we all know with the iOS installed, we only left with 13.4GB for all our stuff.

Mine has been at the critical point of 1GB lately, so I started deleting stuff on the iPad to reclaim some of the space. I only have apps on it now, I stream my music from my iTunes library, and not really crazy to have movies and watch them on my iPad.

It has been 3 years since I bought it, I figured last week it was time to reset it to factory settings and restore my backup to give it a deep cleaning, like how we are supposed to with our laptop every year to cure performance issues.

So I did it last week. Make sure you backup your iPad on the computer before doing anything!!!! It took about an hour, and you know what, now I have 9.4GB of empty space, that’s almost 900% gain.I was astonished.

I think when you deleted apps on the iPad, it didn’t really uninstall the entire app, so some stuff were left behind…so this is the only way to clean it up, get space back, and improve performance: it had been freezing many times before I did this.

I am sure you know how to do this, anyway the steps are:

1) connect iPad with USB cable with iTunes on ( I wouldn’t do this wireless)

2) select device and pick iPad. On summary page, Backup and then Reset to Factory Settings.

3) Follow steps on screen after iPad is reset, and select “backup-date” to restore

Everything will be exactly before the reset including your wallpaper! I am going to do same with my iPhone now.

Cheers.

iPhone Passcode: more than 4 digits

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I came to realize that iPhone will take more than 4-digits as passcode, which is the default. To change  to a more secured alpha-numeric passcode of choice, two simple steps are all that needed:

Step 1: Turn off the Simple Passcode, and it will ask you for new passcode, and its verification.

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Once completed, you lock screen will change to passcode input, instead of the digital input:

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