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.

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.

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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E-Readers and Android Tablets @War!

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It’s interesting time, and consumers seem to be the winner. The phenomenon is that e-readers are trying to add internet features to their gadgets, while Android tablets are trying to cannablize e-reader’s market shares with price slashing! Two Android tablets in Canada are selling for $150: Samsung 7″ Galaxy 2 and Lenovo 7″ Ideapa  A1. Both are running Android 4.0 ice-cream sandwich ( you can check their specs either at futureshop.ca or bestbuy.ca, but I think they are comparable). Nexus 7 is still selling at $270 with faster processor, better screen and latest 4.2 Jelly Bean. Kobo in Canada is coming out with Arc at $200!!! I think it is like the Nook of Barnes and Noble. I mean, these e-readers are using the same Linux base program as their OS, so why buying an e-reader now especially the obvious value-for-money is the 7″ Android tablet at this point, that has downloadable apps like Kindle,  and Overdrive for ebooks purchasing and borrowing, respectively. True, e-readers are still thinner and lighter and less clunky to take out and read in the subway, but at $149, they might even push handheld gaming devices at the edge of obsolescent?! I doubt Apple will slash its iPad Mini‘s price by $100, hence, I purposely leave it out of the equation. So let the war begins, and we will see if e-readers stand a chance?! and same for games handhelds…

Cheers.

P.S. remember Netbook as a category?!

Apple Event September 12, 2012

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There are iPhone 5, new iPod Nano, updated iPod Touch, and the new iOS6. I watched the 3 1/2 hours CNET’s weblog, and nothing coming out of this event really excited me.

The iPhone 5 is slimmer, longer (1 icon row length), and lighter with a faster processor, but that’s about it. It uses a new “lighting” connector; however, you can buy an adaptor to use the old one.

The all new iPod nano is going back to a rectangular-size with built-in Nike Air Fitness. You can play videos, but Apple didn’t turn the dial back enough to include a camera that takes videos. The colours are interestingly more pastel than vibrant. The face has white bezel rimmed with colour of your choice. White + colour, I am not sure it is the best design combo! This new nano will ship with the new earpods, which took them 3 years to develop. There is built-in bluetooth for compatible speakers and headsets.

The iPod Touch has gone beyond black and white, and spotted with some of the new colours shared by the new iPod Nano. There is a strap, “the loop”, attached to it now, I guess for people who takes a lot pictures who may use it as a safeguard ( I will give this a plus, because I am always afraid that my iPhone will fall off a bridge when I am taking a picture on it). 5 megapixel iSight camera that can take 1080p videos. I always view the iPod Touch as an iPhone without the calling functions, but then you can always text and face-time using it as a phone.

In summary, the lighting connector and earpods are new, which means the old connector will be phasing out. Other than that, I feel a bit underwhelmed; my heart was not pounding, nor head spinning to decide what to buy!

Cheers.

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