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.

Kobo Mini @ $38 (cdn)

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Since Christmas, the Kobo Mini had been selling at $55 each, and I was very tempted to purchase one, as my experience of reading on my iPhone was not the greatest: bit heavy, slippery holding it, and reflection under the sun. With so many books(paper) yet to be read in my house, I let the idea went.

Anyway, long story short, at $38 the 5-inch Kobo is the right price for an e-reader! It’s light, and I can borrow books in Adobe ePub format from my library. It reads well-no reflection like on iPhone or iPad! The touch screen is not the most sensitive and accurate for annotation, but I can bear with it. Although it comes with a broswer like other e-readers, it’s not the fastest yet it works fine. Regardless, I have other devices to surf the web while on the road, so it was never a deal-breaker.

For the e-books you get from the library, they have to be downloaded to Adobe Digital Edition (with registration) first, and upload to e-reader through USB  connection to your computer, which is really just drag & drop.

Bottom-line, it is a great little device that people may overlook and go for the 7″ Kobo Touch or Kindle’s (over-price IMO) instead, but you should really buy this; it’s value for money.

I went through my first book within two days, and it felt great on the eyes, in my hands, and on subway.

But iPad is still a better choice for reading pdf documents; it’s awful with Kobo.

Cheers.

P.S. $38 at (Canada)Bestbuy, Futureshop, and Walmart.

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:

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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.

Chrome for iOS

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As I said in Browsers: Google Chrome is the best IMO…., there are a lot of things that make it easy to use with the desktop version, and now Google up the ante and came out with the iOS version.

These are the goodies I noticed:

1) you can use voice control in the browser, i.e., if you say New York Times, it will do a google search and display the page link, as if you type it in. This is pretty kewl because you can do google search hands-free. It not Siri, but I was able to ask it to show me Toronto temperature and map, yes, I do have to click to expand, but less typing! (American English only!)

2) it will sync with other chrome browsers that you have on. For example, I was reading the Star on desktop, the sync page will show that and I can open it on my iPad … it syncs with my iPhone and desktop automatically without me touching the settings.

3) The incognito mode is available, and you can easily switch between the two, there is an icon to do that on top right. Now, it will be nice to have that with the desktop version.

4)Bookmarks are sync on all devices including access to desktop’s!

5)The look and feel is the same as the desktop version, so no learning curve. It has a dedicated bookmark page, just swipe.

I am impressed with it! I was using Atomic Lite for its incognito mode, I just deleted the app, sorry. Safari is native to iOS, it stays but I don’t think I will need it much.

Cheers.

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