iPad Second Thoughts (For Computer Age Denialists)

Following on from my iPad first thoughts blog post last May I’ve now learnt enough to post a worthwhile update on life with an iPad.

The short version of this blog post is I don’t use my iPad much at all BUT there’s more to it than that and I even have a useful iPad tip so it’s worth reading on…

Last time around I wrote “I’m convinced [the iPad] will carve a niche for itself” and it turns out that niche doesn’t include me BUT it does include my sister, and now my mum, Lorna (see picture left).

After playing with my iPad on launch day my sister had that conversation with her husband I talked about before she headed off to PC World and bagged a 16Gb Wifi iPad, despite reports and online stores reporting they were out of stock everywhere, so she was a very lucky early iPad adopter. Almost a year later I can report she still loves her iPad and uses it every day feeding it with new Apps keeps them both Apple happy.

Following the unexpected iPad love from my sister it occurred to me my mum “needed” an iPad for Christmas – which was a helluva gamble because she takes every opportunity to express her hatred of all things electronic, especially computers.
Undeterred I placed the order anyway and in the end everyone chipped in (thanks guys) for one last ditch effort to drag our mother into the computer age (there are several earlier aborted missions I won’t bore you with here – well I might, but not today).

Anyway, we were all sat around on Christmas day pretending to be opening our own presents while we secretly all had one eye on Lorna to watch her reaction as she unwrapped her present and, disappointingly, she did a great job at hiding her dismay – or was that excitement – I couldn’t tell, don’t ever take her on at poker.

I took the time to set the iPad up with a mobile me email address, a £5 iTunes voucher (so I could set up the Apple Store ID), PingChat so she could talk to us all, a Facebook account so she can see what her family and friends are up too and a few other apps I thought she might click on when no one was looking.

Since Christmas we have all chipped in to ease Lorna through the techofear barrier and now more than two months later I’m pleased she’s still using her iPad so mission accomplished and I look forward to seeing how the story unfolds as she becomes more proficient.

Meanwhile MY iPad has been lying around largely unused but I did look forward to upgrading it to IOS 4.2 hoping that might kick start my enthusiasm. After upgrading I had another quick play and the task switching a big step forward but it’s not intuitive. I also downloaded my first free eBook and enjoyed reading it in bed in the dark – which didn’t disturb the missus and for a day or two I was almost a proper iPad user but since then I’ve lapsed again.

It gets worse. My PC hardened brother was around to gloat when my “it just works” faith in Apple technology took a serious dent. I’d bought the updated Apple TV so we could watch podcasts and rent HD movies without putting any more dosh into Mr Murdoch’s pocket.

Well, it just didn’t work that day and it still doesn’t now! The darn thing refuses to rent movies – it connects to the Apple store fine, logs in to my account fine, takes my order, then sits there doing nothing. We tried switching Apple IDs, networks, the lot.

I tried to point out to my brother that what I have actually always said about Apple stuff is “It will either just work OR it will be serious” but it was too late. He enjoyed NOT watching the film more than I did I suspect.

Some lateral thinking clever clogs (shout out to Natasha) suggested we could rent the movie on the iPad and stream it from the iPad through the Apple TV to the actual TV and that did work but the 5Gb movie took hours to download so we had to watch it the next day, which is still a bit of a FAIL.

OK, here’s that iPad tip I promised you. I haven’t read this iPad tip anywhere else – not even on the manufacturers website – and we only discovered it by accident because we have two iPads…

An iPad with a Gelaskin is MUCH easier to hold than a naked iPad. That’s it! Sorry if you were expecting something more geeky.

It really is a major improvement. Naked iPads tend to slip through the fingers so you have to grip the iPad quite hard whereas holding a Gelaskinned iPad in one hand is effortless. It surprised us all how much difference the Gelaskin makes.

I usually put Gelaskins on my Apple gear anyway, partly to give them a little extra protection from scratches, partly so I can easily spot mine in a houseful of Apple gadgets and partly because I love the awesome Gelaskins artwork that’s available.

Gelaskins are removable too which means you can change or remove them anytime without damaging the Gelaskin (keep the original backing paper) or your Apple gadgets so I’m pleased to recommended them.

[UPDATE] Lorna is still using her iPad, she composed and almost sent her first email a few days ago but unfortunately her friend phoned her up just as her finger was poised over the send button (OK, I’ve used a bit of dramatic license here) and they chatted instead!

The intention was there though and using the keyboard takes her back to the good old days before she had kids and she was at the cutting edge of technology using a typewriter.

Uh-oh, I’ve just realised there is an outside possibility she could read this – mum, if you ever read this, you can add a comment below…

[UPDATE2] Sadly Lorna passed away in April 2013 and her iPad passed to Natasha, her granddaughter who used it at University.





iPhone 4 – Has Everything Changed Again?

The Apple iPhone 4 blurb says “This Changes Everything. Again.” This only proved half-true for me but it’s certainly another step in the right direction.

So what hasn’t changed? O2! They remain as useless as ever! OK, it’s not O2’s fault they didn’t have any iPhone 4s in stock to deliver to their existing customers on release day but getting my iPhone working with my existing iPhone tarriff proved to be a right PITA.

There was no way I was going to stand in a queue outside an Apple Store, effectively working as an unpaid Apple extra, just to get an iPhone 4 on the release day so the only way I could get my gadget fix was to buy a SIM free iPhone 4 from the online Apple Store UK and that’s an expensive option at £599 for the 32Gb model.

I planned to swap my O2 pay monthly SIM from my existing iPhone to the iPhone 4 until I found out the iPhone 4 utilises a “Micro SIM” format and after some delving around online these were my options:

1) Buy a new contract SIM with any iPhone carrier – ruled out because none of them had stock and my existing O2 contract has over a year to run.

2) Wait and hope O2 sent me a new blank micro SIM. The O2 website said they would do this but to date nothing has arrived.

3) Trim my existing SIM with a pair of scissors to the size of the Micro SIM – apparently the only difference is the amount of plastic surrounding the chip, but I decided to hold this option in reserve as a last resort.

4) Get a blank Micro SIM out of O2 and swap SIMs. I read O2 stores would give existing iPhone O2 pay monthly customers a free micro SIM on production of their AppleStore order confirmation email so that’s what I did and, apart from dealing with a numptie O2 sales droid, this part of the plan worked.

I kept my blank O2 micro SIM ready to roll as soon as iPhone 4 turned up which duly arrived around midday 24th June on launch day.

iPhone 4 Migration

The major software update to iOS 4 on my iPhone 3GS went smoothly and migration to the iPhone 4 was also straightforward – I just plugged the phone into iTunes, clicked a few options and that was about it. I had to re-enter a few passwords and Spotify seems to have got itself into an argument with itself about registered devices and offline playlists but apart from that I’m up and running without any significant problems.

Swapping the SIM via the O2 website failed miserably probably because the O2 site was broken most of the launch day and then I realised I could have swapped SIMs a few days earlier, avoiding the rush, grrrr – lesson learnt in case Apple opt for a nano SIM next time.

I finally managed to swap my SIM the following day after restarting the process on the O2 website and it worked within an hour.

iPhone 4 Unboxing

No Apple fanboy unboxing pictures from me. Of course I still enjoyed opening the packaging which is as slick as ever and fully recyclable but I don’t feel the need to share my excitement with you especially since we’ve all been bombarded by the adverts and the leaked iPhone pictures and the associated Gizmodo iPhone 4 saga. Suffice to say the iPhone 4 looks great so I’m going to concentrate on how the iPhone 4 feels in the hand and how it performs compared to my existing iPhone 3GS.

I was anxious to get the 2 big reported issues at launch out of the way as soon as I had the iPhone 4 powered up and connected to O2:

1) Screen discolouration: I don’t have any yellow tinges on mine.

2) Antenna problems: I can take my iPhone4 from 5 bars to Network lost in seconds [see my video below] holding the phone how I normally hold it so whatever Apple says about holding it differently it’s still a major design flaw and I’m not impressed to read Apple regard this as a non-issue! Rumours of free bumpers and a software update to fix the problem abound.

The flat slab design of the iPhone 4 looks stunning but it is less comfortable in my hand than the the iPhone 3GS. I do prefer the flat back of iPhone4 (and the original iPhone) to the curved back of the iPhone 3GS which scratches easily and wobbles around when placed on a flat surface. I will try one of Apple’s bumpers and see how that feels – and at the same time see if this alleviates my loss of signal problem.
[update]I added a Gelaskin and this makes it a little harder to lose signal but it’s not a solution[/update]

The iPhone iOS 4

It’s a bit of wet blanket really. With literally hundreds of improvements listed on the Apple website I was expecting to see more than the new folder feature and task-switching functionality – which is really just dipping a toe in the multitasking water. I accept that it’s a work in progress but task-switching is not multitasking as I understand the term and I’m really hoping we get proper multitasking features in future software updates.

The iPhone4 Screen

It’s a glass screen and yes it’s sharp, double the sharpness in fact, which makes sense because it now matches the resolution of the iPad which should mean running iPhone Apps on the iPad in x2 mode won’t be necessary so I’m putting this in the good column but I still can’t read the screen without my glasses on and there’s no option to globally increase the display font size which would be far more useful to me.

The iPhone 4 Camera

The uprated 5 megapixel camera and LED flash which can also shoot HQ video is perfect for snapshots and recording instant memories and the pictures I took outside look excellent on screen – definitely a step up from the 3 mega-pixels of my iPhone 3GS 3 (and the 2 mega-pixel camera in the original iPhone). Flash pictures taken in a dimly lit room are muddy but at least there is a flash and I can see what I was trying to photograph instead of an empty black rectangle with my previous iPhones and it really does now offer everything I want from a digital camera although I’d love a x2 or x4 optical zoom feature – maybe next year?

I don’t think I’m a FaceTime kinda guy (see picture top left) so the front facing camera and video chats doesn’t really interest me but I did notice it’s right next to the earpiece which always ends up covered in grease from my ear (eewwww) so if it could have been located further towards either corner that would have been better – for me.

iPhone 4 Dock Tip

Apple don’t usually miss any opportunity to sell us expensive extras and accessories so I’ll wager they didn’t notice the iPhone4 sits perfectly into the original iPhone dock so I’ll take the few quid I’ve saved and put it towards a bumper to fix the antenna issue Apple insists is a non-issue.

iPhone 4 Conclusions

Comparing my iPhone 3GS, updated to iOS4, with the iPhone 4 it’s hard to justify spending £599 to get a better camera and worse reception but this is the first no-compromise all-in-one handheld device that’s both fun and easy to use.

If you’re mid-contract on a iPhone 3GS I’d wait for a revision sometime next year but for anyone considering buying an iPhone for the first time or upgrading from an original iPhone or iPhone 3G this is as good as it gets – go for it!




Ipad – My First Thoughts

I was delighted when the FedEx guy knocked on the door a day early and I couldn’t resist a chuckle to myself at the thought of people queuing up early at Apple stores today to get their hands on an iPad this morning. Hats off to Apple for fulfilling their pre-orders on time – even if we are months behind our US cousins already.

Apple have, in my opinion, produced another game changing device which I’m convinced will carve a niche for itself and go from strength to strength as ever more imaginative and creative Apps are developed and the OS4 update evolves to support multitasking.

I bought 2 iPads, one 32Gb and one 64Gb WiFi model – we don’t have 3G where I live and I don’t get out much. My thinking was the 64Gb iPad for the the family and the 32Gb iPad for me.

iPad Out Of The Box…

The iPad is smaller and more awkward to hold than I imagined but nevertheless a joy to use and great fun to mess around with.

I’d read reports of them working straight out of the box in the US and I hadn’t realised they have to be set up and synced with iTunes on a computer, just like an iPhone. I believe this is an unnecessary step which will get in the way of opening these devices up to an entirely new audience.

My daughter has taken possession of the “family iPad” and she absolutely loves it. She says it’s “the right size” comparing it with her iPhone which is packed with games, and we’re both really impressed with the battery life – we’ve played with both devices on and off yesterday and both iPads still have over 50% battery life left so they look good for 2 days casual use.

My mum and sister visited yesterday evening and we let them both get their hands on the iPads. My sister is now desperate to get one, which surprised me “It has everything I have ever wanted in a computer in one place” she said – she loved the games, the email, Facebook and her only negative comment was “But it’s an Apple isn’t it?” knowing she’s going to have a hard time getting her dyed-in-the-wool PC loving husband to spring for one – but even then she’s prepared to take on that battle!.

My mum was always going to be the toughest sell but she sat dutifully through a photo slideshow and a movie clip or two and I think pretty much everyone would be impressed with those. Next up I handed her the Labyrinth Maze Game and sat back as she played happily until I took it away from her 20 minutes later.

Setting Up An iPad

As I mentioned earlier you have to set up an iPad using iTunes on a computer and I think that’s crazy. Apple seem to have iTunes tunnel vision at the moment.

How did we get to the point where the ONLY way to setup and use an iPhone, iPod and iPad is via an overblown music application on a computer?

iPads and iPhones should be stand-alone devices that can be setup over any internet connection including WiFi, cable or mobile broadband and Apple really needs to do this if they want to take sales to the next level.

The “Family iPad” is now synced to my daughter’s computer so that’s now effectively hers and the rest of the family are locked into her vision of how the iPad should be setup – which is not what I intended.

If you connect an iPad to a computer which you already use to sync an iPhone with iTunes says “This iPad has previously been synced with this computer” (which is plainly nonsense) but on selecting the alternative option to “Set up a new iPad” you end up with all your iPhone Apps and choice of music, photos, podcasts and movies being synced to the device anyway which is a bit odd.

This means if you own a 64Gb iPhone you’re not going to get all that content on a 16Gb iPad. I had enough space on my iPad so I didn’t have to solve that particular potential hiccup.

Is The iPad A Laptop Alternative?

The short answer is not yet – at least not for most users. The iPad clearly isn’t designed to replace a laptop but for many people, like my sister, it could easily become their preferred way to access the internet at home – in fact she doesn’t use the internet at home at all simply because she can’t cope with using a laptop. There’s a huge opportunity for Apple as the iPad could become the perfect gateway device for people like her to leave lying around on the sofa or kitchen table.

As an online marketeer the iPad can do some of the everyday things I need to do but not enough to make my laptop redundant. The single biggest limitation is the browser. The Safari browser doesn’t offer tabbed browsing – switching between windows in a multi-step operation at best. The single-tasking nature of the current iPad OS is a serious limitation to anyone used to working with multiple applications and windows so I’m hoping the planned OS4 release over-delivers otherwise iPads are effectively running a 30 year old OS model on a device of the future – I’m sure Apple will get there, I just don’t want to wait 30 years!

To end on a high, I love the iPad and I am fascinated to see how my family, friends and Apple respond to the way people eventually end up using iPads to enhance their lives – it’s going to be a fun ride, buy one – or one each.

[UPDATE] I’ve written a follow up iPad second thoughts post here…



iPad Thoughts – Will I Be Buying One?

I’ve just watched the Apple iPad announcement and Steve Jobs does seem particularly proud of the iPad. He made a good case that there is a gap in the market for another mobile device that’s bigger than a smartphone and more user-friendly and portable than a traditional laptop.

Steve went on to explain that a netbook is just a small cheap laptop which doesn’t fill the gap and I believe he’s spot on – I’ve never bought a netbook for that reason.

The iPad is essentially a big iPhone, it can be totally touch controlled or, via a dock, using a real-keyboard for anyone who needs some serious text input. The big advantage virtual keyboards have is the ability to present context-sensitive input options, for example, a number pad would appear when entering numeric spreadsheet data and so on.

Although I find my iPhone intuitive and easy to use I don’t use it to its full potential mainly because it’s small so it seems likely I would make better use of an iPad and, as Steve Jobs pointed out, along with 75 million other people, I already know how to use the iPad out of the box.

I can envisage leaving iPads lying around the house, perhaps on the kitchen worktop where I’ll use it to follow recipes, or perhaps on living room coffee tables to settle arguments and look stuff up on Wikipedia. The iPad could breathe new life into traditional board games and I’m excited by all those possibilities.

A docked iPad with a real keyboard is going to be all most people ever need and traditional laptops and desktop computers may well become the preserve of geeks in darkened rooms once again. Consider how quickly the iPod and iPhone changed the way we listen to music and how we use mobile phones and it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see the way we use the world wide web is about to change – in three years, just as Apple announce the iPad V3 we’re all using tablets, you read it here first!

I can’t be certain until I’ve had some hands on experience whether I will take my iPad around the house or have several lying around but it seems likely we’ll have one each because future iPads are bound to interact with each other and our iPhones like virtual pets forming a House-Wide-Web and will change the way we interact with each other, our friends and the wider online world and my daughter won’t need to ring the house phone to get her dippy egg in bed!

There’s a pretty good chance technophobes, like my wife and my mum, will get carried along with the iPad wave. My wife already has an iPhone, admittedly turning it on/off is still a challenge but we’re getting there and my mum loves sitting beside me while I drive my computer for her touring Picasa and Facebook photo albums and buying her shopping online – she certainly knows how to point her finger and she’s good at gestures so she’s halfway there so I should be careful what I wish for or we’ll all be reaching for the blue pill!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, a friend of mine (Hi Antonious!) said “NOT ME MATEY” along with this list of reasons he won’t be buying one – but of course he WILL cave. Quite a few of the items on the list relate to lack of ports on the iPad which can all be made available via Apple or third party iPad docks and another accessory industry is born. I’ve appended my specific comments after each list item:

• Unspecified widescreen aspect ratio for video playback (so what?)
• 1024 x 768 aspect ratio not widescreen video friendly
(so like most TVs they’ll be a black bit top and bottom)

• No integrated USB ports (via dock)
• No card reader (via dock)
• Non-removable battery (would be better if it was)
• Non-expandable memory
(would be better if it was, but will buy the biggest anyway)

• No GPS in the WiFi only model (durr)
• Unlocked iPad not great when network’s don’t use the micro SIM
(any network which gets the contract surely will?)
• Mono audio speakers (via dock)
• Prolonged typing on glass? (use a keyboard via a dock)
• No integrated camera (Gotta love Apple keeping something back for iPad 2)
• No HDMI/Displayport (via dock)
• No Ethernet Port (via dock)
• Still no Adobe Flash support
(It’s bound to be Adobe dragging its heels, would prefer an alternative to emerge)
• Limited codec support i.e. AAC, MP3 and H.264 (can be supported via software update)
• Proprietary iBook eBook format
(Steve Jobs said it WAS an open format and I think all publishers will jump on this bandwagon or risk being left out in the cold)

• No breakdown of ‘up to’ 10 hours battery life
(Steve said he could watch video on a flight from LA to Tokyo and that lying around not being used and iPad would still have power after a month)
• No mains power cable included (via dock)

So yes, I will definitely be buying a WiFi iPad and, if I like what I see, probably more than one. Am I alone or will you be buying one? If so why? If not why?

Apple Black Friday Event

The Apple Black Friday Event is the only day each year Apple discounts it’s own products so if you’re planning to buy anything Apple for yourself or as Christmas gifts you can save yourself a few quid by ordering it online today. There’s up to 6.5% discount off an iPod nano, up to 8% off an iPod touch, up to 8% off an iMac, and up to 8.5% off MacBook Pro laptops – which are all pretty good discounts. There’s also discount off Apple TV, Time Capsule, Mac software and loads of iPod docks and accessories so it’s well worth a look.
You can also add a free laser-engraved personalised message to personalise all iPod models which make great Christmas gifts and there’s free delivery store-wide on all orders over £76.

Mac Life – Part 3 – It’s Decision Time

Once you’ve made the decision to switch from PC to Mac and BEFORE you make the switch is the time to think carefully about the hardware you’ll need, the way you work and the applications you use.

If you haven’t already bought a Mac you can add buying a laptop or desktop machine to your research and planning. As I mentioned earlier I prefer sitting at a desk when I’m working but I eventually settled on a MacBook Pro laptop and a 24″ LED display which gives me the best of both worlds. At my desk I dock the laptop to the monitor which already has a mouse and keyboard attached along with integrated webcam and sound. To work on the laptop all I have to is disconnect 4 cables and walk, no reboot needed, it doesn’t get much better than this (one plug would be even nicer Mr Ive).

Many popular applications are available on both platforms. Most web browsers including Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and Apple software including iTunes, QuickTime and other applications have logical alternatives on the Mac platform which are widely discussed on the Mac Switching forums which are well worth a read.

In an effort to make the time I spend working as productive as possible I’ve already been working towards using browser and cloud based applications and services including Google Apps, MobileMe, Dropbox and Evernote which leaves me with just three PC only applications I need. In my case these are:

Affmeter Pro because it gives me a quick overview of what’s happening to my affiliate income.
Mailwasher Pro because it’s the quickest way to keep an eye on all my mailboxes.
Quickbooks Pro because although there’s a US Mac version this isn’t available in the UK.

If you’re not planning on running any PC software on your Mac you can skip to Mac Life part 5 which covers cloud based services…

Before we get into the nitty gritty of setting these up on a Mac it’s time to decide how you are going to run your Windows software on your Mac. There are three main choices:

Boot Camp
Apple includes this as an optional install and it works well but you have to boot into Mac or Windows mode and I want to run both side by side and cut/paste and copy files between them in real-time so it’s a non-starter for me.

Parallels can run Windows, Linux and pretty much any OS as a virtual machine within the Mac environment and once set up it’s an almost seamless experience. it works well and has proven reliable so I’m pleased to recommend it. There’s a free trial available so why not give it a try?

VMware Fusion
There’s a free trial available but I haven’t tried this software. It appears to offer similar features to Parallels which I’ve been using for years so, if you’re not already using Parallels, give it a try and make your own mind up before making a final decision – feel free to share your experiences by commenting below.

All three options require a legitimate copy of Windows so make sure you have that to hand before you install your chosen software.

Mac Life Part 4 covers running Windows programs on a Mac…

Back to MacLife Part 1…





Mac Life – Part 2- Virtual Machines & OS Merging

Although I’m now exclusively using Mac hardware I am still “OS merging” – I still need Quickbooks PC accounting software and down the years I’ve picked up a few other PC only applications including Mailwasher Pro and Affmeter Pro which I don’t want to be without so I’m running them using the Parallels Virtual PC software.

Virtual Machines – Better Than The Real Thing?

(If you’re not planning to run any non-Mac software you can safely skip to Mac Life Part 3)

My Atari background offers me a unique insight into the pros and cons of working with Virtual machines compared to the real thing. Atari software ran much faster on both Mac and PC hardware than it ever did on real Atari computers and I’ve run up against all the typical issues which ALL need to be addressed before finally committing to using a virtual machine:

Switching between the guest and host OS
This can involve a complete machine reboot or a keyboard shortcut and everything in-between.

Accessing software from the other OS
Parallels makes it possible to run the host and guest OS in parallel so it doesn’t get much better than this.

Accessing, moving and copying documents and files between the OS’s
You’ll need to find a way of working which makes it easy to access documents and files which need to be available across OS’s and you’re going to have to find what works best for you on a trial and error basis.
My solution is two-fold. I run a local network with shared storage and I use remote cloud services – which I’ll go into in more detail later on.

Hardware compatibility issues
If your software relied on any hardware which isn’t supported or emulated by your Virtual machine you won’t be able to use it. There’s no easy solution to this one.

Problems with peripherals
Printing is the most common area which always throws up unexpected problems.

Keyboard layout handling
The Mac and PC keyboard layouts are different. A few crucial keys are in the “wrong” place or simply missing! Switching to a Mac and continuing to use Windows software is a challenge that requires practice and a measure of perseverance and reference tables.

Mac Life Part 3 covers what I think you should do before finally making the switch…

Back to Mac Life Part 1…



Mac Life Part 1 – Switching to Mac

I’ve owned personal computers since 1981 and I have been looking for the perfect set-up ever since. There have been some great machines along the way and decades later thanks to the Parallels virtual PC software, which makes it possible to run PC and Mac programs side by side on a Mac, I now have the best working environment so far.

I’ve retired my last office PC so I thought I’d share my experiences and encourage anyone interested in kicking the PC habit to do the same and switch to a Mac.

Why Didn’t I Switch Earlier?

(It’s complicated, you won’t miss much by jumping to Mac Life Part 2 if you’ve already bought a Mac and want to know how I’ve set mine up.)

Because I’ve been using computers since 1981 I have decades worth of prejudice and baggage to unload. I prefer sitting at a desk using a computer with a “proper” screen, keyboard and mouse and my first Apple Mac was the unrivalled Mac Duo which cleverly combined the desktop computer experience with a neat netbook sized laptop which could be ejected and used on the move. The Duo concept remains the best computing set-up I have ever used until my current Macbook Pro setup which is why it’s taken me so long to finally make the switch.

Renegade Publishing Ltd was originally formed to publish Atari Computing magazine so the Mac versus PC debate wasn’t an issue – we were promoting Atari machines and software. However, after Atari development ran out of steam, I had no choice but to migrate from Atari to PC and Mac software at the same time Renegade Publishing Ltd evolved into online publishing and marketing, new age media in modernspeak.

The business needed accounting software and the only choices back then were Sage and Intuit Quickbooks and neither have UK versions that run on a Mac so I bought my first PC and I’ve been running both Mac and PC systems side by side ever since.

The PC versus Mac Debate
My Atari background has helped me remain objective when weighing up the pros and cons of each platform and I’ve had a longer look at both hardware platforms and operating systems than most computer users will ever have and combined with my professional background in technology and product design on this subject I really do know what I’m talking about! Here’s my overview:

Apple Pros Superb product design, headed up by Jonathan Ive, CBE, originally from Chingford, Essex, one of the world’s foremost product designers.
Reliable, out-of-the-box lifestyle solutions people love using – even if they don’t know it yet!

Apple Cons Comparatively expensive, Apple only cables, standards and conventions.

Mac OS Pros Reliable, easy to use, easy to keep up to date, generally virus free, compact, free software included which works and is easy to use for most common tasks.

Mac OS Cons If it does break, it can be serious.

PC Pros There’s a dazzling choice of hardware available which means it’s possible to build anything from a budget priced general purpose machine to a state of the art gaming platform.

PC Cons The flipside of supporting such a wide range of hardware is compatibility and software driver problems.

Windows Pros I’m struggling to think of any, help me out here Windows fans…

Windows Cons The Windows interface has never been a seamless experience and it’s very tedious to keep to date and virus free. New hardware often leads to driver and software compatibility issues.

Mac Life Part 2 covers Virtual Machines & OS Merging…





Apple iPhone iOS 2.0 Updated At Last

Apple iPhone iOS 2.0After my earlier rant I finally managed to upgrade my iPhone to iOS 2.0 at around 8pm Friday evening.
It wasn’t a good user experience and days later the MobileMe service is still a bit clunky so it’s hard to get a handle on how useful it will be to me.
I’ve just discovered there’s now a Windows MobileMe control panel to set sync preferences and now my email, contacts and calendars on iPhone, Mac and PC are all in sync which is cool.
I’ve just spent some time in my happy place (new tech toys to play with) browsing around the new Apple Apps Store downloading and playing with some of the excellent Apps.
Here’s my first thoughts:

The Facbook App The original web app was great and although this app doesn’t really offer anything new it feels more seamless and it’s cool to instant message with other online Facebook users.

Apple iPhone 2Shazam Load this up and play any piece of music and in around 15 seconds it’ll tell you the track, the artist along with links to YouTube videos and more – perfect for setting arguments and combating brain freeze. The only downside is this is a time limited version – so how much they want for it will decide whether it remains on my iPhone.

Remote Control your Apple TV and iTunes music libraries from your iPhone. It’s free and works really well but I also want to be able to play the music on my iPhone via remote speakers. There’s also a remote control web app which replicates the Apple remote features and I’d like to see these two remotes combined into one killer app.

Twittelator Twitter on the move from your iPhone and it will also update your Facebook status (if you have this set this up in your Twitter account preferences).
In addition to posting twitters you can add photos from your camera roll or take a snap. There’s a “panic” feature which posts your location along with a shout for help which is bound to save someone’s life before long.
There’s also Twitterific which is available as a free ad sponsored version or a premium version costing £5.99 which removes the ads but Twittelator gets the job done for free so I’m not sure there’s a future for a paid version.

Shanghai Mahjong I’m not into console games but I do have a weakness for Mahjong when I need to chill for half an hour. There are already 6 different Mahjong apps on the Apps store priced from £0.59 to £5.99 so I plumped for this version from MobileAge which cost me £2.99 and it’s an excellent implementation with some great features and a wide range of tile designs and backgrounds. I do need a zoom feature for this app because my eyes soon became tired of staring at tiny tiles.

iPhone Stuck In Hyperspace!

iphone stuck in hyperspaceThe problem with being right about the popularity of the new iPhone is I didn’t get one and now my 1st generation iPhone is useless too!

For me the trouble started with Apple’s decision not to sell the new iPhone online and I buy all my Apple gear from the UK Apple Store online and I didn’t want to queue at a shop for their PR benefit.

Then O2 sent me an text message upgrade invitation, excellent I thought, I can still upgrade online and get an iPhone delivered to my door this Friday morning.

Then the O2 website broke due to overwhelming demand (event though O2 had been testing their servers all week to cope with a 250% increase in demand).

By the time I managed to get a working website the O2 online store had sold out and I decided to wait and have a play with the new 2.0 iPhone software on my 1st generation iPhone since I do most of my browsing via WiFi at home the 3G and SatNav features are not top of my priority list.

So I kept trying to download the new software via iTunes and eventually managed to download it mid-afternoon only to find after backing up and restoring my iPhone that the iTunes upgrade activation servers are down so now even my existing iPhone is stuck in Hyperspace.

Way to go Apple to piss off one of your most loyal customers.