Sunday, September 5, 2010

In Which an Engineer Starts His Career

For Ryan's 5th birthday (last week), Grandma gave him WAFFLE BLOCKS from Little Tykes.  He has been a building fool ever since.

Today, he came into the office and asked me to come and look at his latest creation and I was simply, blown away.  He created this with no help or assistance from anyone:



A Geeky Dad is happy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

iPAD - Quick Take 2 - Thoughts and Impressions

OK - I have now had the iPad for about 3 weeks and I like it a lot.  It is a very unique device and is a great addition to my arsenal of I.T. tools.  It offers me quick access to SSH, LOGMEIN, my Web based HelpDesk application as well as my e-mail.

But the shine has worn off and I am met with a few regrets and maybe some future ideas?

First Bitch - The Cable that comes with the iPad works with all my iPods - so it is 'backwards compatible' - However, the same cannot be said for the other cables (of which I have a shoebox full of them).  This pisses me off to no end, because here I have spent a lot of money in support of great products and I have definitely gotten my money's worth (in terms of my iPods and iPhones), but the fact that I now only have 1 cable that will work with the iPad - is just stupid!  Apple's plan?  Buy a sync cable compatible with the iPad - $19.00

I don't think so - I have found (from a friend at work - thanks Tejas!) that a company called GTMAX makes a cable (Part Number IPODDAT002) that works perfectly well! And all for a whopping $3.95:

Second Bitch - My second bitch point is I foolishly bought two accessories (this, of course, is my own consumerist failings):
  • The Dock (MSRP $29.00) - What a waste of money - $29.00 for a weighted dock that fits the iPad - I thought it was a wise investment and I could prop up the iPad and have it charge when not in use... So what is the problem?  Two things: First problem is that it is just the DOCK - no cable.  For $29.00, I want the damn $4.00 cable too!  That is just a no brainer, Apple!  Second problem - that with the purchase of the 'official' Apple Neoprene cover heavily promoted and advertised - IT DOESN'T FIT THE DOCK!
  • The Apple iPad Case (MSRP $39.00) - In the beginning, this was a no brainer - what a great idea - new $500.00 device and a case for $40.00 to help protect my investment.  It doesn't quite 'stand-up' like the commercials show and more than that, it feels cheap in my hand.  What really ticks me off is the incidental costs of nickel and diming us to death with accessories we really don't need.  Now, in order to get the $39.00 Case to work with the $29.00 Dock, I had to cut the backside of the case so it would fit into the Dock - Not revolutionary, but functional
Third Bitch - This has nothing to do with Apple, but with the development community in general.  Since I have received the device, I have purchased about $40.00 worth of applications and none of them I regret - well thought out applications and I appreciate the effort it takes to create these applications.  

Then what pisses me off about the developers? 

The fact that a developer creates a separate iPad application and charges the same amount for it as it did for the iPhone version.  This may sound confusing, but let me give you a clear example.  I follow Major League Baseball with a passion.  I love to listen to the games during my lunch hour or catch a score while I am working.  So, I have purchased a MLB.TV audio subscription so I can listen at work on my computer ($15.00/season).  No big deal.  I have also purchased the MLB 2010 application for my iPhone so when I am on the go, I can also catch the scores, the play-by-play and the audio (also $15.00/for the 2010 application).  Now that the iPad has been release, the MLB folks could have created a universal application for the same $15.00 that works on the iPhone and the iPad - but no.  They created a separate version for the iPad - which means I have to fork over another $15.00 for the iPad version.

Sounds all fine and dandy, but I am here to tell you that many developers are creating 'UNIVERSAL' apps from their iPhone apps to work on the iPad with a 'new' interface for the iPad - POINT IN FACT - LOGMEIN for the iPhone and iPad.

Great company - great product.  I purchased for the iPhone about 6 months ago - and thankfully they created a UNIVERSAL app so when I got my iPad it 'upgraded' to an iPad version and it didn't cost me a dime.

That is supporting the community as the community supports them.

Now - MLB makes major money off of us all year round - you think they could afford to roll their app into a UNIVERSAL version for the fans.

Anyway  - I love my iPad and it is a great device - Just heed some of the warnings above and you will love your iPad too.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

iPad Day - April 3, 2010

It has finally arrived and I have to say that Apple has created another device which is truly going to be a game changer.  I placed my 'reservation' about a month ago and with baited breath, drank of all the reports and prophesies of the coming iPad.  Pictures of it in the wild - performance statistics - 'delay reports' from manufacturing and finally this week the great Marketing engine of Apple, itself, crank up into high gear.

I watched last night as the news reports highlighted the Apple Fanatics camped outside the retail outlets waiting for their forthcoming chance to obtain the new device.   I was worried.  Why?  Would I get there at 9:30 AM or 10:00 AM to find my reservation was for naught, like the infamous Jerry Seinfeld episode where Seinfeld reserves a car, but they don't have it and he starts to lecture the counter person on the meaning of a reservation.

I thought to myself - should I go down and sit with these people and commune?  Then I figured - what will be, will be.  Apple said they would have my reservation and I believed them.  I would show up when I could the next morning.

I did make it out at 10:30 and found that there were two lines - a very long one and a very short one - I prayed I was in the short one and as luck would have it, my reservation did pay off!  I was in the short line and after a brief 10 minute wait (unlike some of the people who would have to wait hours to get in), I was face to face with my prize.  I knew exactly what I wanted:

  • 32 GB iPad WiFi (3G isn't out for another 3-4 weeks and I didn't want another AT&T charge)

  • Apple Dock/Keyboard combo unit

  • Cover for my iPad


I was greeted by the Apple Representative and he (to be nameless) was very courteous and welcoming and we talked for a bit about the iPad.  He didn't try to push extra's or accessories.  I was direct and laid out what I wanted (in terms of the accessories) and he gathered them all up.  While he gathered, Andrew (my son) and I went to go play on the iPad's - my first touch!  AMAZING.  My first impression was staggering.   The one thing I could not get over was the intense speed of the device - how fast it flipped and did things.  I was eager to see the PHOTOS applet and before I knew it I was pinching and zooming my way to photo nirvana.

Our Apple Rep came back with items in hand and we quickly rang up my purchase.  He saw my e-mail address (bill@macgod.net) and we discussed Apple Computers.  I have been using Apple since 1988 when I obtained a Mac SE for my own personal usage (from my Aunt who worked at Apple).

He offered to register the device right there in the store and handed the device for the unboxing - that is part of the beauty of Apple - they want us, the consumer, to have the best experience possible.  It is in their best interest to keep us coming back for more.

After a short registration period - I was gone and walking with Andrew through the mall back to the car to quickly get the iPad home so I could really take it for a spin.  Once I was at home, I loaded it up with my accounts, my apps, music, some videos and photographs from my iPhoto.

But this isn't a totally glowing review or write-up of my iPad.  I truly do believe it is an awesome device - but I have a few issues with it:

  • Upon connecting to my iTunes 9.1 app on my brand new 21" iMac, it takes a good 4 minutes before anything is responsive?  I hope this is a minor issue and they fix it - it doesn't seem like it should take this long

  • My other issue is with the iPad developers - If I paid $15.00 for an application 1 month ago - I would hope that if you developed an iPad version that it would be free or become a universal application - this is an EPIC FAILURE by MLB (Major League Baseball) who not only charged $15.00 for the iPhone version, and recently released their iPad version and low and behold - they want another $15.00 for that version... Bugger Off

  • The case isn't as functional as I want it to be - it feels plastic like so I think I will invest in something more worthwhile like a leather carrier or something


Overall - a great device and I look forward to running it through its paces, both personally and professionally.

Have a great Easter everyone!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Apple's Epic Spelling Error

Not that I can speak to having a keen sense of 'spelling' correctly, but you would think that Apple would have someone double checking their display banners on their home page:


Better LUCKS next time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Malywarebytes Forums - for the birds

So I am working on a particularly troubling spyware issue and found myself on the doorsteps of the Malwarebytes Forum pages. 

I had been working on removing a very nasty piece of spyware and ran into a few issues that I saw another user was running into - and the fix that was being given to that user was a sledgehammer when a screwdriver was required (metaphorically speaking).

So I decided to give a reply with my solution to his immediate problem.  Signed up on their forums, got a user account and verified my account when I got the message in my inbox and then... posted my quick fix reply for this users problem.

An hour later... I got this NASTY GRAM in my e-mail inbox:
Pardon my being cantankerous, but we only allow authorized people to help in the HijackThis forum.

I have deleted your response to the topic [url="http://forums.malwarebytes.org/index.php?showtopic=38661"]Your PC Protector.exe[/url]. Please do not give me reason to be more cantankerous than I already am. ;)

The error that the helper made has already been pointed out to them by the maker of ComboFix himself, as well as a workaround that he could have used. Please allow the Trusted Advisor who is working on that topic to work on a resolution with the user. We will help him if he needs it, and the last thing the user needs is a bunch of people telling him what to do.

Thank you. ;)
GT500
First Off - I think the forum administrator or whoever he is, came off as a complete ass.  I mean seriously - "Please don't give me a reason to be more cantankerous than I already am"   Give me a break.  And what is with the, "only authorized people" are allowed to post?

So I replied back with this:

That is how you start out a message - I don't care if you are cantankerous or not...  I find your lack of customer service skills to be horrific.

And what does Authorized People mean?  Could you define that a bit more?  Maybe that should be listed somewhere that EVEN IF YOU ARE A MEMBER, YOU HAVE TO BE 'AUTHORIZED'   

I did sign up to be a member - why be a member if you cannot post to the message boards?   I don't understand that logic?

I am glad that the error was corrected - I must have missed that in the forum posts - If you do not allow the general public to participate in a FORUM - then remove my account - love the application - but if this is what I can expect from support - I won't bother.

Bill
I am glad the user found his fix... but I chastised the Malwarebytes representative and told him that his customer service skills sucked (basically).

HOW BEST TO HANDLE THIS?
The Customer Service person (GT500) could have stated, very plainly, that there was a strict policy in place, point me to the policy, then nicely alert me that the my posting had to be deleted per that policy.  I have been doing I.T. for 17 years and it has taken me a long time to work with my community using kid gloves and trying to instill some confidence in not only my technical skills, but my personal skills. 

Work on it, GT500.

Bill




Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad is another Apple Evolutionary jump forward

I don't care if you hate Apple or not.  They seem to have the innovative MOJO that everyone is attempting to capture.  In most cases, that MOJO is monopolized by a company that is used to setting the bar in terms of technological and sociological advances. 

In my 37 years, I have yet to see any single company that innovates like Apple does.  We had the Apple I and Apple II years ago (my first touch of a computer system), followed by the development of the Macintosh Computer system in 1984.  A flurry of advancements in processing power, capability and functionality spurred Apple forward through the 80's and early 90's.  During the Early 90's it really seemed like Apple was losing it - bad marketing, execution, development almost laid waste to what was an awesome company...  Only with the return of Steve Jobs and his electrifying personality, did Apple find new life and a new found resurgence. 

With the advent of Mac OS X, new Apple computer designs and increased stability (thank you NeXTStep), Apple was starting to grow again and reach new persons.  The iPod was a phenomenal success and what a revolutionary device (except for the DRM stuff, which proved to just be more problematic than anything).  The iPod helped spur better design and innovation and led ultimately to the iPhone - and for the first time, we had a device that was as close to converging computer and phone and multimedia player than anything had done before.

For the Record, I was an early adopter for the iPhone - best purchase I ever made.

Now we come to the Evolutionary change announced today and it is truly a jump forward.  Companies have been pushing and touting their tablet based PC's with Windows OS, but have been hampered by mediocre performance or kludged operating system implementations.  I also admit that the NetBook craze of the past several years has really driven the market forward, but that craze did not seem to last very long.

The advent of, what I can only characterize as an iTouch on Steroids, the iPad will bridge the gap between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro 13".

Let's look at some of the key points of the device:
  • Runs Safari, E-Mail, Photos, Video, YouTube, iPod, iTunes Store
  • Enhanced Maps
  • New Notes application
  • New Calendar application
  • New Contacts application
  • LED IPS display (9.7"), 1024x768 display
  • Multi-Touch capable
  • Thin and Light (1.5 lbs and .5 inches thick/thin)
  • 10 hours of battery life (probably will be more like 6-8)
  • Wireless (WiFI)
  • 3G capable (separate unit due out in April) (called WiFI + 3G Model)
  • New 1 GHz A4 (Apple Developed) CPU
  • 30 pin dock connector (like iPod/iTouch/iPhone)
  • Audio - speaker and microphone built in - and headphone jack for privacy

Well - there are a lot of criticisms on the Internet (especially from Gizmodo site) about the device and I have to say that this is an impressive piece of technology and artwork and it will enhance my life and my technological arsenal.  This device will not be for everyone, but it is helping setting the stage for other hardware manufactures to step up their game, once again, to meet Apple and try to beat them - without the iPhone, the HTC based phones would look like crap and don't get me started on Android.

Thank you Apple for once again setting the bar.  Let's see if Microsoft and the PC hardware developers can follow suit - I hear Dell has some cool things on the way.

B

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mac Tablet Predictions

Have you heard the latest about the Apple Macintosh tablet project to be (hopefully) announced on the 26th of January?

There is a lot of speculation around the Internet concerning the project and I have to tell you that with each and every new posting, the fervor is rising and I am getting my credit card ready... erh... I mean... excited about the possibilities.

But... I think some people might be giving Apple a lot more credit than they are due and I am concerned by some of the conceptual drawings and hopeful inclusions.

I think it will be a slim device, much like an iPhone/iTouch device - a skoshe bit larger (depth) and probably about 8-9 inches.  It will be a full touch screen - no doubt.  Would be cool if they have a stylus, but Apple has never released a stylus before (except with the Newton).  I also think that the OS, based on Mac OS X, will not be a full blown Mac OS X implementation.  It will be more like the iTouch/iPhone OS - but multi-tasking.  I would be surprised if you could actually 'install' things on it that were not sanctioned and acceptable like the iTunes App store. 

I cannot imagine, say, PhotoShop CS4 being installed on the device - but that would be pretty cool.

I am sure it will have all the amenities needed to be productive just as the iPhone/iTouch already have. 

Without a doubt, next week looks to be a great week for Apple Fanatics as there is expected to be rumored upgrades to the MacBook Pro line, announcement of iPhone OS 4.0 (with multi-tasking, thank God) and of course the TABLET!

Hoping for the best,
Bill

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

iPod 5G Nano - Great... but that built-in speaker...!

So, I am walking through my local Albertson/Lucky's Supermarket, shopping down my favorite aisle (the cookie aisle, for the uninitiated) and all I hear is Christmas Music.  To be precise, it was "Do They Know It's Christmas?".  I am thinking to myself...  It is January 6, 2010, a full 2 weeks past Christmas... What the hell is Lucky trying to do - keep the Christmas spirit running into January?

And I thought... why not... Most commercial organizations start their Christmas music around early November, well before the Christmas season.

As I am moving down the aisle, I find myself singing to the music and eerily the music system in the grocery market sounded very close and it was moving with me... WTF?

Turns out that the music was emanating from my 5G iPod Nano.  The 5G iPod Nano not only comes with a video camera - that takes so, so videos, but it also has a built in microphone and speaker.

So if the iPod is in my pocket and I accidentally hit the PLAY button - my nether regions transform into a literal dance/disco club.  Never before has my groin sounded so good.

Anyway - thought you would find that little tidbit humorous - Thankfully, there was no one in the aisle with me while the sounds of Christmas Past emerged from my Dockers.

Bill