Friday, September 26, 2014


I'm still wanting to use my iPad as my sole content generator. Here on Blogspot, that's perfectly possible, in spite of the fact that I can't type worth a durn. But on Wordpress, it requires an act of congress to get my posted photos from my iCloud account to the host for a web post. Why is this? It's frickin' 2014 already! C'mon, Wordpress, join the post-PC generation and allow full posts from iPads!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Memory Ln,Durham,United States

Monday, August 18, 2014

Donating a part of your life

Giving blood at a mobile blood drive for the first time in a good while. I give double red cells, so I usually have to go to the main Red Cross donor site, but this one, which is much closer to home, had a double-red appointment. Of course, it's the first one, at 9 AM, after me working until almost midnight the day before, but here I am, connected to Duke's research visitor wifi, halfway through a donation session. A great start to a day off.

I highly recommend giving blood, and the red cells make your donation go further. Plus, they give you free snacks which, as everyone knows, are free of all caloric content. It's a win-win for dieters!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:W Morgan St,Durham,United States

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Digital Paper and why it's going to be unused

So, yesterday, SONY unveiled what some are calling a productivity enhancement and a collaboration streamliner. Designed to increase productivity and streamline collaboration in paper-intensive environments, Digital Paper will appeal to a range of user communities including legal, higher education, governmental agencies and corporate board rooms across the United States.

Sorry, but that's not happening. No one scribbles notes onto a legal pad, and then posts that to the group as meeting minutes. Sure, it may reduce the amount of paper that flows between an executive and whoever does their typing, or it may enable editors to more quickly mark up changes to copy, but it's not going to be a time saver for those whose job it is to puzzle through that hand scrawl and parse it into actual, editable text. This has been the failing of every "digital ink" platform all along. If I can't search on the notes, why should I scribble them down? And, be sure, scribbling with a digital stylus on a screen is certain to be less legible than a ballpoint on a legal pad.

These folks trying to solve the digital ink/paper problem are building Ford's faster horse - they're listening to the user and trying to give them what they want. And that's not going to usher them into a new paradigm of collaboration and sharing. It's not even going to be as good as what they have now, making notes and edits on laser printouts. These people need to learn to type, or to use voice data entry. Or someone needs to get Apple's Newton handwriting recognition out of the vault and add it to the iPad.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Memory Lane,Durham,United States

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Night on the Town

I'm a people person. I can't help it - both of my parents were, and it was actively encouraged, rather than discouraged, from an early age. This has led me through a succession of jobs facing the public, starting with a paper route in middle school (we called it junior high back in those days), restaurant work (never back of house!), sales of all types, training, teaching, music (leading choirs and orchestras and congregations of all sizes), and, finally, at home phone tech support. Wait - what?

Yeah, I am now working full time from my house, by myself (well, alongside Jack, my faithful companion), 40 hours a week. I really like it, since we have a thriving online team who, although spread from California to Florida to Pennsylvania, assist each other continually throughout the day. I've been doing it a month now, and still really enjoy it, with one small caveat - I really miss people! I previously worked in a very busy retail environment with scores of active, outgoing (some would say crazy!) young people, plus a veritable river of customers daily. I actually sought quiet during lunch, it was so hyper!

But now, I'm climbing the walls by quitting time, when the rest of the family (the introverts) crash through the door seeking that quiet I've been bogarting all day. This has been going on for four weeks now, and I've been bugging the Lovely Bride almost every evening to meet me for dinner or coffee or something! She's been willing for at least a day a week, but I think I've finally worn out my ability to drag her out. Tonight, after spending the entire day home on her "mental health day," I invited her out and got an over-the-glasses look that would have frozen the surface of the sun. Not gonna happen, bucko!

So, here I sit at the bar at FullSteam Brewery, with greasy fingers from an American Meltdown sandwich smearing my iPad screen, finishing a wonderful Rocket Science IPA, surrounded by loud, jovial, slightly tipsy folks, listening to some combination of hip hop, funk, and island/reggae, trying out how to schedule days like this on a regular basis. With the offerings here in Durham, I think it'll be an interesting summer.

Watch this space for details…

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Rigsbee Avenue,Durham,United States

Monday, December 9, 2013

Warranties and life in the 21st Century

Used to be, you'd buy stuff, and it would work for many years, you could repair it, and it would then work many more years. As things have become more electronic, the cost to replace has fallen below the cost of repairing - sometimes by a huge margin. Warranties that used to involve sending the broken item in and having it repaired are now far more likely to involve going to said repair place, and swapping out your device for a different one of the same type, which inherits the warranty of the original. For items that are still mostly mechanical, there is benefit in repairing much of the mechanics, but for things that are digital, most warranties now cover replacement, not repair.
Consider Apple's devices. Phones from the Froot Stand can be repaired for minimal items (home button, camera, speakers) on some models, but iPads, iPods, and Apple TVs, they are never opened in a local store. Screen repairs on the iPhone 5 are done in store, but most models require a full swap. That is the difference between AppleCare and warranties from carriers and superstores, where some geeky kid in a blue polo is going to crack open your iDevice and try to fix it. Turns out, this means that Apple can never work on your device again, or swap it for a working model, for any amount of money. If it fixes the issue, great, but if in mucking about in the innards of your device our geek (or your resident teen) happens to compromise another module, or if the replacement part fails, you're out the total cost of a new item, not just the repair/replacement cost. Plus whatever you paid for the warranty and the repair.
At the Store and within certain other places where you can purchase their products, Apple offers something for these devices called AppleCare+. The Plus means that not only does it include extended warranty and phone assistance coverage (more about this phone coverage later), but there are also two instances of physical or liquid damage that can be made during the warranty period for a small deductible. (I know, $70 for replacing an iPhone is not cheap, but it's a far cry from $240, right? And a huge savings over the non-contract price!)
Let's compare this to a carrier policy. Most of these are $10 or less per device, billed to your monthly bill. On a typical 24-month contract, that's $240 for the actual coverage. (AppleCare+ is $99 for iPhones and iPads, $59 for iPods touch. Quick approximation: less than $1/week for the same two years.) Now, consider that most local carrier stores are not equipped with spare parts, and have no one qualified too offer true warranty service on Apple products. What are they going to tell you when your camera module dies 8 months into your warranty? "Take it to Apple." Who will cover it happily. But at 18 months, still under your carrier plan, Apple will charge for that service, while your carrier will require you to send the device to them for several days while their regional repair center fixes the issue. If that item is covered. You may just get back a refurbished phone of the same model.
Now, a bit about phone support. Little known fact: Apple's phone support includes software support for all Apple iOS apps. That copy of iPhoto you downloaded free with your new 5c? Call and ask how to publish an album. Or get advice on adding a transition to a keynote slide on your iPad. Friendly help from someone in your country, wherever you call from. Try getting Google to help you do the same in QuickOffice. Oh, wait, you can't add transitions within QuickOffice's PowerPoint editor - my bad. But there's no online or phone assistance from anything at Google or any other office suite company that I know of.
So, my car is now done with its warranty checkup/oil change/car wash. Time to post this and get on with my life. I love a good warranty, where the cards are on the table, and there are little extras tossed in, like free fresh brewed coffee, a quiet business waiting area with no TV, and a comfy office chair and desk.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Glenwood Ave,Raleigh,United States

Monday, October 21, 2013

PCs are losing to tablets, but it's not about price - not fully, anyway

The San Jose Mercury News' Pat May just published an article regarding how PC shipments are falling, and concludes, as many have, that it's because everyone wants something cheaper. I think he and the rest of his ilk are missing the boat. It's not just about the money, it's about the experience. If you compare the experience of using a $500 PC to an iPad, you quickly realize it's far easier to process email, find web pages, chat with your friends on Skype, play a quick game, or even cobble together an outline for a report on an iPad than it is anywhere else. The operating system seems to think ahead of where you're going, and plows the path of least resistance. You get there with a minimum of frustration, loss of train of thought, and waiting while the computer thinks about what you've asked it to do.
Even with a faster, more powerful unit, most people's non-work computer use can be done with an iPad, at least partly. I talk to people in all walks of life, and hear the same stories all the time: "I just need to do email and surf. Maybe check Facebook or write a grocery list. Nothing fancy. Work gives me a laptop that I lug out when I need to do a big project." And after a few years with iPads, when they decide they need a personal machine for large projects, they usually are open to moving to a desktop machine for the family, rather than laptops all 'round. And by then, they are conditioned to think "complex and arcane" when it comes to Windows, because in order to do anything with their work PC, they have to call and wait for IT. So that iMac, which runs about the same price as a mid-level laptop, starts to look great as the family "truck." This is in reference to
Steve Jobs' famous quote:
When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that's what you needed on the farms. Cars became more popular as cities rose, and things like power steering and automatic transmission became popular.
"PCs are going to be like trucks. They are still going to be around. However, only one out of x people will need them.

It's always good to have a buddy with a truck for odd jobs, but I never want to deal with the hassle and upkeep expense required to own one.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Memory Ln,Durham,United States

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The mobilization of the cyber criminal underground

I'm continuing to be amazed at the varied places I'm finding wifi. I'm at my second car inspection place in my new hometown, and both of them have not only had wifi, but really fast, really open wifi. If you've read this blog at all, you know that mobile computing (without laptops) is a particular interest of mine. I'm using my iPad right now, as are 3-4 others in this place on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The TV in the corner is blaring away, but everyone is busily keeping up their online lives.

This pervasive use of Internet resources is not without danger, however. If you're using your tablet or phone to do everything, you may not stop and think before you log in to your bank, PayPal, or credit card app. That's where the opportunity for online criminals to hijack your identity credentials comes up. (There's no other thing to call them. They are committing crimes, not just hacking or whatever mild epithet you want to attach to their activity.) I found the info in this graphic alarming, but also infuriating. It's a simple thing to be aware of what you're doing and who's around, but even with the best precautions, the remains some danger. That's why the anger. I want to be comfortable in that corner cafe drinking a cappuccino, not watching over my shoulder in case some goon is trying to steal my money or impersonate me at a store and charge things to my account.

The Cybercriminal Underground

Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

So, bottom line, be careful out there! It can be a jungle or the Wild West, or whatever metaphor you choose to use, so there's reason for all pioneers to be on their guard.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:N Duke St,Durham,United States