The Price is Right: Kobo Arc 32 GB $98

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Finally I found an Android tablet that was less than $100. I already have an iPad2, so I don’t want to spend a lot to get one and test the OS to see whether Apple’s iPad should really claim supreme.

I saw a demo unit at Staples that sold for $99, touched it, swiped it, and I was ready to buy if they had a new unit. They didn’t. I went Google it to read more about its specs, and Walmart came up because of web analytics. I went to the site and bought one.

arcAt $98 before taxes, this buy will be a no-brainer for someone in market for a budget introductory tablet. The least expensive one on the market with a decent made is Lenovo A-1000 8GB  7″, $114 at Costco. Samsung Galaxy Tab3 7″ is $167, and the nicer 8″ is $227, last checked at Costco too. I believe they all run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, Kobo uses 4.1.

The reasons I bought this were:

1. my iPad costed over $500, now at $399 retail, it is still an expensive gadget to lug around in my gym bag and use it while I am out. The Kobo, now, I can use it anywhere I want (Starbucks has the best Wifi connection, Tims’ never works for me), and best of all, no one will ever snatch it. Besides, iPad2 is just a tad too big to whip it out on the subway.

2. to use it to learn coding for an Android app. If you didn’t know. Android core system is Linux, and its apps are written in Java. Apple’s is running Xcode built on Steve Jobs’s NexT system, Mac OS and iPad app share some of the same codes. Microsoft’s Surface is just an extension of its Windows OS, developed in Visual Studio.

3. to see whether the divided is really about the features of two OSes, or something else?!

4. At $98, it’s a bargain, and an eReader no less . A MP3 player probably costs more.

[Android 1: Apple 0]

Directory:So I have been using my Kobo Arc for one week now, and have started with my app development lessons. The device connected by USB easily to my laptop, except you will need to turn on USB debugging in {}Developper options under Settings before it will show as a device on your laptop. On the laptop, you will need to manually install the driver, i.e., don’t follow the “suggested driver” in Windows. Once installed, you will be able to view all the folders in your tablet. If you have used Linux before, the organization will be familar to you. If not, try imaging a DOS system. I think this is part of the freedom people have been condemning Apple, and praising Android, cause there is no way to get to the source directory in iPad’s. In other words, any photos or pdfs you saved, you need an app to export them.

[Android 2: Apple 1]

“Home”UserInterface(UI): In my other posts I had been saying Android wasn’t as elegant as iOS,which I still hold to my opinion. Standardized icons for app make it easier for beginner to learn and use them quickly. In other words, variations are better for an intermediate to advance user. For the simple reason, they have the core knowledge of how things seem different but the same at the end. For example, holding down an icon in both systems mean you can do something with the icon, with iOS, they start to wiggle and an small “x” appears on each of the icon’s right side, it signals the available action of deleting an app that you don’t want anymore: one choice. With Android, no wiggle, but a garbage can will appear at the bottom of screen in the middle of an rectangler bar; it means you can put that app there and it will disappear from the home screen(s). Here is the different, iOS actually deletes the app, and if you have had stored it in iCloud, you can upload and install it again. So what happens to the one with Android? you can still find it in the main Menu(the circle with 9 evenly spaced dots).  To truly delete an app, you need to do it in Settings/app …uninstall.

The second choice, depending on the device, is that you can pin webpages or folders onto your home page(s) for easy access, i.e., non-app dependent. This is more a desktop OS methodology, open file and choose an app, instead of the other way around: open app and search file. The former gives you choices of apps, the latter restricts you. In other words, no app to play .flv on your tablet, too bad. That was and still is the uproars that iOS still doesn’t play videos that require Flash. Add fuel to fire, you cannot install the mac flashplayer file onto an iPad, cause there is no way to get to the root system files (of course, jailbreak it. Do you want to?) .

[Android 2: Apple 2]

Apps: There might have been a disparity when I was holding proudly my Google phone (HTC Dream), in regards to app selections, but the fight has narrow likens PS3 and XBOX games. Most popular apps are now bi-platform. However, I have to say, iOS apps run smoother than Android’s. So far, Android’s have been crashing more often on my KOBO Arc, but it could be a hardware issue. Hence, standardization has another advantage: Apple has full control of its QA. I need not to say more, we all have experienced Windows hardware conflicts. Linux is no exception. Once again, Android tablets use different types of screen and touch methods, so I find mine is not as responsive as my iPad.

[Android 2: Apple 3]

OS: Android OS is hardware dependent.To me it is a bit old school. This is no different from an analog watch to a digital one, none of them are compatible or upgradeable, but they satisfy their objective to tell time. And if you are trendy, chuck the old, buy a new. That’s a waste of resources. The life-cycle of an Apple product is about 5-10 years. I told in another post, I still am using my 2006 80GB iPod classic, and it connects to the most current version of iTunes. On the other hand, a few apps I tried to download for my Arc returned saying incompatible, which mean 4.2 must be the lowest denominator in the Android world. Luckily, most of the popular apps still run on 4.1. Those don’t likely have a desktop web version, so I use a web browser instead, e.g., CNET app.

At the end of the day, which one to use is really based on the level of knowledge you have with computer. In other words, the more you know, Android will be better, cause you like to tingle with things. For the curious youngster and the older seniors, an iPad will be better for them, cause you really don’t want them to delete or reformat the drive by accident.

For me, $98 is like another pair of sneakers. I have no problem putting it in my gym bag.

Cheers.

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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.

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.

IMG_0730

 

 

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

IMG_0731

 

 

Just iTunes U itself makes iOS so much better…

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Usage share of web client operating systems. (...

Usage share of web client operating systems. (Source: Median values from Usage share of operating systems for August 2011.) Windows XP (35.21%) Windows 7 (31.21%) Windows Vista (11.27%) Mac OS X (7.31%) iOS (3.38%) Linux (2.25%) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think there have been enough said about iOS being a closed-system; therefore, it is controlled by Apple and less friendly. On the other hand, the Android OS is totally open-source; therefore, you can make changes as much as you like “if you know how” or “where to look for them”. One point I want to make is that Android OS is Linux, and Linux is great if you know command lines, etc. Trust me, I had used many versions of Linux, even was crazy enough to buy the Corel Linux way back when, but each time was the same disappointment: I was spoiled with Windows and unable to learn processes that were beyond point-click-hourglass-wait-fingercrossed-installed. I remember I had to issue “Mount” in Linux so that my CD-ROM became functional. So my point, Linux does offer great flexibly, because you can truly script and tailor to your needs as you want! But I am lazy, and too senile to do that, but I did try.

Here is my point regarding iOS, despite it is a close-system, Apple’s own applications are well thought out; therefore, no need to tweet. Case in point is the iTunes U that I talked about in my earlier blog: Attending iTunesU in bed with pj, other than the choices of lectures, I just discovered another great feature it has: taking notes when you watch the video lecture.

Fig1: top right (notepad icon)

To access the notebook, click on the notebook icon top right (Fig. 1) ,which opens up the notepad while the video is still running, i.e., you can truly experience it as if you were in a lecture.

Fig 2: Notepad with video

You can record your notes and access it as you need in course binder!

If this is not genius for students, I do not know what is! The only missing thing is to get a bluetooth keyboard and you are all set. If your college is on the same wavelength and delivers its courses this way, all you need is an iPad with keyboard for the entire semester! No more bulky knapsack with textbooks and laptop. Do other tablet OSes do that other than improving games and watching TV shows, movies, youtube… and connecting to social media. I think I am right on this one.

Cheers.

Inserted graphics are from Virology W3310 offered by Columbia University conducted by Dr. Vincent Racaniello.

Microsoft Surface

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English: Microsoft surface table

English: Microsoft surface table (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest buzz was the surfacing of the soon-2-come Microsoft Surface tablet. As usual, MS is going to give you choices, whether is stripe-down RT version, or the full Win8 experience.

From what I have read and seen in the news, the drawing point to this tablet is MS R&Ding the whole thing, i.e., no third party! I guess with MS deep pocket, it can be exciting?!

The appeal as they try to market it is the rainbow colours array of the gadget (focusing a demographics of 16-25, perhaps!). To me, nothing of a wow here, looking at them. Sure, the tablet and keyboard are thin, but so are some ultra-thin notebooks on sales now. So, after you upgrade it to Win8, how is it different? especially when the ultra sells for its quick boot time, and wake time already.

I already talked about Android tablets weakness (for some) was with their multiple-versions open source system, but will the close source Win8 base tablet wins over established iOS’s?

Despite all, with anything new, don’t and go for 2nd generation, if there is going to be! That’s the cardinal rule for consumers, whether they are gadgets, appliances, or automobile.

The one think I am curious is how the keyboard works? motion sensor, i.e., like how we type on smartphones or iPad or Android tablets? If it is based on mechanical compression, press down, then it will be a failure! cause, there are Bluetooth keyboards that do the same with iPad! Now, it will be interesting if the keyboard is backlit, i.e., the key lights up as you type! you know, like how we see it in movie, clear glass keyboard, as you type, the key lights up and shows the letter….

Buying gadget is about seeing and feeling, so let’s wait till the real thing comes out!

Weather … we love to talk about!

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Weather is one thing we talk about socially, so with iPhone it is handy to have WeatherEye app, which other than shows the short and long-term forecasts, it also shows the hourly temperature predictions.

The native Weather app that comes with iPhone didn’t seem to show the same hourly information, until I found out today that it does:

You have to drag the “day” bar down to expose the hourly temperature predictions, i.e., if today is Sunday, tap on Sunday and drag it down to reveal them:

I know this is trivia, but interesting to find that out, cause I do prefer the Weather layout more.

The other thing you may know is that notifications will give you weather forecasts as well: drag and slide the top bar on any page that shows your provider/clock/battery. Swipe the weather bar will give you the current condition, and vice-versa.

Rain Alarm is another app that I like that shows precipitation forecasts.

Cheers!

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