You can find out what I'm up to in near real-time via: Twitter (@sholden) or Google+. I also recommend checking out my AztecMedia.net produced sites: Chvrches Fan Podcast (@chvrchespodcast), Tech News Radio (@technewsradio), Air Gapped Networks (@airgapnet), Jersey Boys Podcast, and Veteran Stories.
I picked each one specific to issues I was trying to resolve where I use headphones. The HD202 cover my ears very comfortably, but aren't so noise reducing that if someone knocked on my office door I would still hear them. The MDR-XD-200 were 50% off, have excel sound quality, and are something you can wear for hours without much fatigue which is great for movies and audio editing. The Quiet Points were cheaper than the Bose that I had before the were stolen, and fold up pretty well in thier protected case for travel.
Even though I'm content, I find it very interesting to get other folks opinions, suggestions, recommendations, etc. on headphones.
- @kevinmarks: Sennheiser 280 Pro (~$90)
- +leolaporate: AKG K240 MK II Studio Headphones (~$115)
- +jeffjarvis: Beats Studio (~$280)
- Alex/John: ATH-M50 (~$150)
- The Wirecutter: Bose QuietComfort (~$299)
Leo also mentioned that Headroom was a good site with more info. And the Home Theater Geeks podcast have several very detailed podcasts in their library about headphones. If you want to get very technical on headphones (and even some ear buds) these podcasts are highly recommended.
So ... do you have a favorite headphone? And why?
If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.
But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.
It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way -
The General loses his stars, and the block-men die
In unstrategic defiance of martial law
Because still used to just being men, not block parts.
Very powerful, thoughtful, and meaningful words that have now become one of my favorites also.
I took the liberty to edit a version of just the poem from the podcast. It is going in my Monday motivational playlists and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
NOTE: As of October 16, 2012 the official Twitter API turned off RSS options per this article. What I wrote here doesn't work anymore.
I personally like keeping track of some Twitter accounts (especially security related ones) using Google Reader. Unfortunately, I've found lately though that Twitter keeps messing with RSS urls, and getting subscribed without errors can be hit and miss.
Here is my understanding of the current format as of this posting ...
If you have a Twitter account like @johnswayer that you want to follow in Google Reader. Then take the following main URL (twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/) and add <twittername>+.rss -- for example:
"https://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/" + "johnhsawyer.rss"
Did I get this right? Did Twitter change this already? Is there a better way? Leave a comment or send me email and I'll update this post.
For a while I've been doing a little bit of ambient information testing DIY style by loading up webpages that I want to see information from and then automatically moving through the tabs after ~20 seconds.
Ambient information displays and displaying information in a meaningful way seems to be a growing area of interest within new products and computer science research circles. The new version of Windows 8 is going to have some of these features that Microsoft has already brought to Windows Phone.
There is also a company called Ambient Devices making alarm clock size devices that show you what you want in a very customizable way. Another major player in this market is chumby with a complete line of options including support for Android.
Today, I was wonder what options were available for replicating this DIY browser approach with Google Chrome. In Firefox, I've been using the feature Full Screen after launching Tab Slideshow. There is a similar feature called Enter Presentation Mode in Chrome which seems to do a better job IMHO of getting more of the computer out of the display.
To get the tabs you want to autmoatically cycle through there appears to be three plugins to check out for Chrome:
I think I'm going to start with Resolver - Tabs and see how it works. Anyone have any other suggestions?!?
Here are some tech items I've been tracking:
- PaulaD has published a list of “50 Free Android Apps that Will Make You Smarter & More Productive".
- Gune is a mobile search service/platorm that searches 14 sites in a single interface.
- Victor Cajiao at Typical Mac User Podcast is speaking that this years Macworld 2011.
- "Teach Yourself WordPress 3 in 10 Minutes" by Chuck Tomasi & Kreg Steppe is at the top of the list at WordPress.org
- Cox Cable is now offering “Ultimate Internet” using Docsis 3.0" ... cost could be up to $100 a month
- Electronics West is Feb 9-10, 2011 in Anaheim, CA.
- Microsoft & T-Mobile are teaming up to offer a 2-for-1 deal for the new Windows Mobile HTC HD7 phones.
- You can take FileMaker Training Series for FileMaker Pro 11 remotely via GoToMeeting (50% off).
- ScotteVest has a new Sport Coat & Revolution Jacket - plus a special edition leather jacket.
- MindMeister's iPhone app is now FREE and the iPad app is $7.99 ... great online MindMap application.
With the release of Apple's iTunes 9.2 and the iBook 1.1 application release for the iPad (this also works reportedly on any iPhone or iPod Touch with iBook 1.1), you can now get PDF files automatically downloaded into the iBook application.
Here is how I was able to get it done:
- Subscribe to a RSS feed in iTunes that provides you PDF content. For me that was Make Magazine, Beatweek magazine, and premium content from Manager Tools.
- Then hook your iPad to your computer and do a Sync. After the sync is done, go to the iPad icon in iTunes and select the Podcasts tab and make sure your iPad is syncing to the RSS feed content. If the feed like Beatweek is selected in the Podcasts tab you won't see anything in the Episode list since a PDF isn't according to Apple a media format like MP3 or MOV.
- Now go to the the Books tab on the iPad and check Sync Books. Depending on your preference you can select All Books or Select Books to sync. I used Select Books and then checked the books I wanted.
- Then you can do a Sync and your PDF's will be in the iBooks applications on the iPad.
I did notice two "bugs" or "issues". The first, only PDFs that appear to be listed in the Books Selection area in iTunes are PDFs that have been downloaded since iTunes 9.2 was released. I haven't been able to seamless get older PDFs to load in this manner. The second, the feeds now show up in your Podcast list in iTunes. If you go to a podcast feed with PDF files, the PDFs are listed there (--:--), and if you click on them the screen goes blank trying to play them like an audio or video file. Just tap once and you should be able to exit out.
Before this option, I have been successfully using GoodReader for PDFs reading, but this new iBook method is pretty compelling as it can be setup to be automatic. These two bugs are pretty distracting though, and hopefully they will get addressed soon.
Thoughts? Comments? Let me know!
Overall, I am still extremely happy with the device. It has become my primary personal device when I'm at home eliminating my Microsoft Windows 7 TabletPC I was using before the iPad. I have also travelled with the iPad twice since the initial purchase, and I have found it a great device for reading material (books, PDFs, magazines, saved offline web content, etc) and for consuming videos (podcasts, TV shows, and movies). Taking the iPad on travel vice the personal TabletPC has also meant that I had over 6 pounds less in my backpack than normal. This made travel much more enjoyable.
NY Times' BOB TEDESCHI recently did a review on his impression of travelling with the iPad. The only thing I found different from Bob article is that TSA at both San Diego (SAN) and Washington Dulles (IAD) wanted the iPad in a seperate container to scan vice stored in my backpack.
Things that continue to make this device enjoyable:
- Excellent form-factor, screen, and battery life
- Internal speaker is well suited for casual listening
- Consumption of media when and where I want to is ideal
- Applications customized for the iPad are compelling
The one thing I did have to figure out was how to seemlessly as possible listen to "new" news and video podcasts directly on the iPad without having to do a regular desktop sync. I tried using Safari and Google Reader to manage the feeds but playing MP3s in Safari has proven to be buggy for me. Safari would play them for a while but then become unstable and quit, especially for large shows over 15 minutes long. I then moved those specific news and video podcasts to my desktop iTunes to get the subscriptions loaded on the iPad. Once loaded you can then play them from the iPod application. But if you want new podcasts you need to click "Get More Episodes ..." which then launches the iTunes application. You then need to click on the Free icon for the newer podcast items you want to download directly. The Free icon then changes to Get Episode which when you click on that icon will download. You then need to application context switch back to the iPod application to play the new content. It works but definitely not seamlessly. But the benefit of using Apple's iPad and iTunes applications on the iPad is that you can listen to content and launch other applications.
The biggest negative continues to be lack of multi-processing. Switching between applications is fast but swapping context is mentally challenging. Plus, I'd love to be able to run Pandora in the background and then go about whatever else I'd like to do.
My top ten most used 3rd-party iPad apps seem to be:
- TweetDeck (Twitter app)
- Kindle (eBook reader)
- iThoughtsHD (MindMap tool)
- Evernote (online notes and reference library)
- Toodledo (projects and tasks management)
- Goodreader (PDF reader)
- The Weather Channel MAX+ (check the weather)
- Dropbox (online, multi-computer file storage)
- Atomic Web (multi-tab browser)
- QuickVoice (audio recorder)
After experiencing the Apple iPad for the last week, I thought I'd outline my thoughts on the device that seems to still have a lot of buzz and interest.In a nutshell, I am very happy with the iPad and I believe that it is a compelling device that fits in well between laptops/desktops and mobile phones.
I believe this device is going to help me be more effective with reading, podcast & audio book listening, and consuming professional content in eBook, PDF, and other standard formats. I expect it will also help me on the organizational front with more ubiquitous access to reference material, project support data, and communications services. Plus, it will be a fun device to decompress with casual games, videos, and music.
No device is perfect -- says the former Newton & still TabletPC laptop fan. As I outlined in a previous blog post, I had some concerns with the hardware and software as proposed by Apple for iPad v1.0 before picking up the device.
The good news is that as far as I can tell there isn't anything new that the iPad can't do that wasn't already publicly announced before it was released. So, I don't have any buyer's remorse. I know there are now confirmed Wi-Fi issues, but I haven't experienced those with the Wi-Fi networks I have available to me.
Things that are great:
- The screen is awesome.
- Battery life is equally impressive.
- Bluetooth keyboard support is solid.
- Surfing the web is fast and fluid on the screen with the pinch-to-zoom working as expected.
- Books via Amazon's Kindle application are readable and easy to consume over hours of reading.
- Physically the device is solid and feels good in your hands.
- Goodreader.net is a very nice $0.99 application for reading PDFs.
- The interface and applications run fast -- so the custom Apple A4 processor was a very good idea IMHO.
- The built-in Apple iPad applications are well designed. The Email application with support for viewing a large number attachment formats is especially functional.
- Native 3rd party iPad/HD applications look spectacular on the device. Some of the ones I've been using include: USA Today, Reuters, TweetDeck, The Weather Channel, Zino, Evernote, Toodledo, Kayak Flights, Dictionary, ABC Player, Yahoo! Entertainment, Sudoku Tablet, YouVersion Bible, and Box.net.
- On screen keyboard is significantly better than my previous iPod Touch experiences.
- Internal speaker is better than I expected and so is the microphone.
- Doing a one on one demo with someone is pretty powerful for sharing and viewing information. The built-in Photos application is especially noteworthy as a good example.
- Maps with Wi-Fi geolocation is remarkably accurate.
- I haven't really ran into situations where multi-tasking would be an issue, but I can think of one area I am going to run into problems -- browsing in Safari and then wanting to post via TweetDeck.
- Screen gets smudged very easily, but cleans up well.
- Can't subscribe to podcasts directly in iTunes on the iPad.
- The iPad could lose a half-a-pound in weight, and be more portable plus easier to hold over a longer period of time.
- Pricing on new iPad specific applications is way to high in my humble opinion. Kudos to many of the application developers I currently use for creating 'free' upgrade versions.
- The 2x upscale for standard iPhone apps leaves a lot of pixelation issues that distracts from the experience.
- Safari has crashed more than I expected when consuming media files directly from sites like podcast RSS feeds.
- I don't like having to sync to iTunes to get Contact updates. You can get Google Calendar updates directly via CalDAV.
- iBook prices appear to be on average more expensive than Amazon Kindle prices. For instance, David Allen's "Getting Things Done (GTD)" is $9.99 on Amazon and $12.99 on Apple's iBook store.
- No DOD PKI CAC support so you can't sign emails or read encrypted emails. You also can't use many DOD sites without DOD PKI CAC support in the browser. Plus at my organization, VPN access and authenticated WIFI is not currently possible without DOD PKI CAC support.
- Currently there is no way to encrypt the whole device and/or all the application specific storage areas. This will be a problem as Data At Rest (DAR) requirements become more prevalent and no longer optional. I've heard rumors about possible 3rd party solutions being released soon that solves this type of problem but nothing definitive as I post this review. If anyone knows anything about future iPhone/iPad DAR solutions, then please let me know.
- More Bluetooth device support (i.e. networking, GPS, DOD CAC PKI, etc),
- Integrate a native USB port,
- Add an SD Card slot, and
- Drop the price for all units by $100.
With recent news of the iPhone/iPad OS v4.0 coming out soon there is a good chance that many of the software issues will be either solved by this v4.0 release or an earlier v3.x release. Given that the current release date for iPad support for v4.0 is Fall 2010, I'd expect a hardware update for the iPad when this actually comes out. Regular Fall releases for new iPad hardware makes more sense for Holiday Sales, and future iPad release will probably be part of Apple's traditional new iPod releases usally in September or October.
The one thing I have not had a chance to try out but would like to is using the iPad to remotely connect to Windows or Mac systems. I think this could be a big business area for Apple when the 3G version comes out. With this feature, businesses could leverage the iPad for mobile computing solutions like access to intranet applications, sales presentations, eLearning, etc outside their internal physically controlled Wi-Fi networks. The only reason I haven't tried them out is the three that look good for evaluation had prices ranging from $15 to $35. Apple and their developers really need a 'demo' option for items in their AppStore, especially for applications with high price tags. Spending money to do multi-product evaluations is not that appealing to me.
Another thing worth noting is that there is definitely going to be more iPad-like products coming to the market in the near future. I think some of these will be pretty competitive, especially those with Google's Android and more than likely Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series. The big change, when compared to the past, is that the iPad is based on an operating system geared for being mobile, and the full blown operating system software like those on previous TabletPCs is not the right answer for devices in this middle ground between laptops/desktops and mobile phones.
Want to learn more? One of the better Apple iPad consolidated tips, tricks, and pointers articles is posted at HowToGeek.com (link via Kreg Steppe @ FriendsInTech.com) Another tool that looks interesting is a Google Docs editing tool called Office2Pro that was recently reviewed on one of my favorite mobile technology blogs JK On The Run.
If you have any comments, then please post them below and I'll definitely respond. If you have any questions that you'd like to have answered, then you can send me email at: email@example.com or send me a Twitter message (@sholden) or on direct message on Facebook (sholden).
Steve's Best Practice for Technology Purchasing was developed during the Apple Newton years (1993-1997) as the editor and publisher of NewtNews - a weekly newsletter that covered the Newton marketplace and community.
The basic premise is that Steve will never purchase the 1st generation of any technology product. After what seemed like countless painful experiences buying every Newton device, software, etc. released, this best practice has proven very helpful over the last 13 years. Some successes - TabletPC ( HP TC1100 vs HP TC1000) and Apple iPod Touch (2nd generation vs. 1st generation).
Now that the Apple iPad is coming out (pre-orders start on March 12, 2010), I'm torn on whether or not to purchase the new iPad 1st Generation vs. the iPad 2nd Generation with a ton more features and more MTBF (mean time before failure) engineering.
I am pretty sure the Wi-Fi only model is better for me than the WiFi + 3G version so that decision is easy for me.
As a very happy iPod Touch (2nd generation) user I can really see how a bigger screen would be a major improvement. And many of the applications that I use every day would seem to be very compelling on the iPad form-factor: Pandora, Evernote, Peggle, Facebook, TweetDeck, Stanza, Kindle, Toodledo, and Safari
The other bonus is that I'm pretty much using my older HP TC1100 as an "iPad-tablet" device already. In the morning as I'm getting ready for the day, I listen to news podcasts via iTunes, catchup with social media sites, and check in on my news feeds. And then in the evening, some of the same activities happen. But the iPad form factor (smaller, thinner, etc.) plus battery life will be an improvement.
As a frequent traveler, the ability to watch videos, listen to podcasts, and ready books plus other references is a great improvement over the iPod Touch I'm currently using in this situation.
The Bluetooth integration seems like another key feature both on the audio side of the house but also for keyboard input. Sometimes you just need to use a real keyboard!
As I write this and review what I've written, I get a sense I've already made enough case for the device at least for me.
But the one thing really bugging me is the lack of multi-processing support. When I'm using my current "legacy iPad" (aka the HP TC1100) I have several applications open and I like to bounce between them and also stream music from Pandora or other sources. Reading something, capturing it, and then sending it out on Twitter or Facebook currently doesn't work well for me on the iPod Touch, and I'm thinking the same is going to be true about the iPad. The iPad is a content consumer device not a content producer device.
Well, I guess I'll need to make a decision soon or hold off. To be honest I'm pretty sure I'm going to get one but I'm open to input. If you have any, then please let me know!
NOTE: One killer application for the WiFi + 3G version is how well Citrix works on the iPad. If it works without issue, then the platform will really be compelling for the Enterprise. And that could make the iPad both a consumer and a business success.