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October 23, 2012

Apple Event October 23, 2012: New 13" MacBook Pro, Mac mini, iMacs and a 7.9-inch iPad mini

Apple announcements used to be among the most highly anticipated media events on the planet when everyone wanted to see Steve Jobs do his magic on stage. It's not the same anymore without Steve, it, but everyone still breathlessly awaits the news from Cupertino, especially when it's a long rumored smaller iPad.

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June 16, 2012

iPhone 3GS battery replacement: not for the timid

With millions of people replacing their older iPhones with newer ones, what happens to the old ones? Well, some are sold to one of the several used electronics merchandisers, others directly on eBay, or they may be passed on to friends or family less obsessed with having the latest and greatest. Many iPhone users simply keep their old one, either letting it gather dusk in a drawer somewhere, or perhaps actually using it via WiFi as a fancy iPod Touch. But there is one problem with older iPhones: the battery.

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March 18, 2012

The new iPad -- First impressions

On Friday, March 16, 2012, at 9:30AM, Fedex delivered our two new iPads. The Fedex guy actually gave us three packages by mistake. We get a lot of stuff via Fedex, but since all three looked the same, I checked and saw that this was probably a third iPad. I called after the departing Fedex guy. "You saved me life," he told me as I handed him the third package back.

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October 07, 2011

Should I get the new iPhone 4S?

My wife and I write about technology for a living, and so it behooves us to stay up-to-date and always carry around the latest and greatest. Yet, I still have my old iPhone 3GS, and my wife hasn't yet complained about her lowly 3G. Truth be told, what both of us anticipated more than the new iPhone was getting off the AT&T contract. We're both off contract now, so that's good. However, why is it that we're told new phones are subsidized and are essentially paid off during that 2-year contract commitment when the charges stay the same when the contract ends? That's as if you're paying the bank a monthly sum for your mortgage, taxes and maintenance, and then the bank continues to charge you the same when the mortgage is paid off!

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October 05, 2011


In 1996, I wrote the below and published it in Pen Computing Magazine.

Bring Back Steve

It'd be good for Apple (though possibly bad for Newton)

I wasn't surprised when Gil Amelio was canned at Apple. He may have contributed in getting Apple better organized, but market share kept slipping, and he could not provide a compelling vision. Neither could Lou Gerstner at IBM, for that matter, but he had the managerial presence (and a good deal of luck) to establish himself as IBM's savior and undisputed leader. Gil Amelio didn't. Fortunately, after all these years, Apple's board is still strong enough to take swift and drastic action when the situation requires it.

So, who's next? Traditional business executives just don't seem to cut it at Apple. Sculley didn't work, Spindler didn't work, and Amelio didn't work. They were all fine managers and executives that could do a world of good for almost every other big US business, but Apple is different. Apple's success has always been based on that elusive combination of conjuring up an exciting vision of the future and then embodying it in elegant technical solutions. Apple is about vision, imagination, and products people want and desire. When was the last time anyone desired Windows?

So let's get Steven Jobs back at Apple's helm. There's no one who can fire up the imagination like he can. No one does a better presentation. He may not be the best manager in the world, or the easiest to get along with, but so what? Who else can claim his accomplishments? He co-founded Apple and an entire industry, he created a superb product like the Macintosh. After his departure from Apple he started another company, Next, and was smart enough to change the mission of the company when it become obvious that being in the hardware business didn't work out. He then snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by selling his Next technology to Apple for almost half a billion dollars. While doing all this, he also had the foresight to invest in Pixar and made another fortune when that company went public. Founding Apple was not a flash in the pan. He's one of the truly great innovators of this age, he knows how to run a business and make it successful, and he doesn't throw in the towel when things go badly.

Jobs started Apple, and it would be only right to see him at the helm once again. The upside is that he'd immediately provide the company with a huge boost just by being back. He'd energize the legions of loyal Mac devotees, and most probably recruit many new ones (remember, who really loves Windows?). And since Apple is about to include Next technology into its next generation of computers, who knows it better than Jobs? The downside? Even with Jobs, Apple could still flounder and die. But under whose leadership would you rather see Apple go down? Yet another faceless manager, or the very man who started it all?

Let's get Steven Jobs back, even if it means hard times for the Newton.


Steve Jobs died today, October 5, 2011. He was only 56.

July 22, 2011

Using a SwissCom data plan for the iPad when visiting Switzerland

I always take my iPad with me when I travel, but traveling abroad is a mixed blessing because thanks to AT&T's exorbitant charges for data service I'm usually limited to hunting for free WiFi hotspots. Last time I arrived in Mexico, AT&T informed me via text that it'd cost me $20/meg for data, which is insane. There are, of course, the "super affordable" (according to AT&T) international data plans/packages you can sign up for, but even that costs $100/month for 275meg, or six times as much as the $15/250meg domestic plan. And 275meg doesn't get you nearly as far as AT&T would like you to believe.

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April 29, 2011

Should I upgrade my iPhone and iPad?

I really can't live without my iPhone and iPad. And as a professional publisher, writer and editor, I pride myself in always having, and knowing about, the latest gear. So it's pretty strange that I still have a lowly iPhone 3Gs and a first generation iPad. I mean, the iPhone 4 has been out forever, and there's already plenty of buzz about the iPhone 5. And the second gen iPad has also been out of a while. So what's going here?

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March 03, 2011

Apple's iPad 2 -- Upping the ante

Steve Jobs announced the iPad 2 on March 2. No one expected Jobs to do it himself as he's been on a medical leave of absence for a while now. He looked none the worse for wear, though I can't imagine that things are very good for him.

The iPad 2, of course, was expected, though it's hard to argue that it was already necessary. Apple sold about 15 million iPads in 2010 (in nine months, really, as the iPad didn't start selling until April), and demand keeps growing. Apple also wasn't pressured by the competition, which largely remains on the drawing board or early stages of deployment.

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January 28, 2011

The best of times, the worst of times

I don't even know how many apps I've bought for my iPhone, but it's quite a few. It's just so wonderfully easy to see something you like and buy it, and it instantly downloads into your iPhone. No waiting, no confirmation emails, no authorization codes, no activation links. Apps just download, install and work. And since apps are so inexpensive, I don't even keep track of how much I am spending on them. It's not a lot, and even if I end up not using or liking an app, it's no big deal (those reviews that froth at the mouth and demand their 99 cents back amuse me).

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December 15, 2010

IPad on the road, Part V

Another road trip for the iPad. Carol and I flew to Tennessee for an extended Thanksgiving weekend, which meant I had to take along my electronic gear. We both packed our iPads, cameras, iPhones, and I also took along my big MacBook Pro.

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August 09, 2010

Why I may not use an iPhone much longer

Yes I know, provocative title. But I didn't choose it to add to the anti-iPhone chorus and litany championed by legacy publications like PC World. And I also didn't choose it to tell you about the latest HTC Awesome or Droid Maxximus that outdoes the iPhone in this spec or that. I didn't even choose it because I have become a convert to Android, though as a professional reviewer I am certainly interested in that latest and apparently finally successful mobile Linux implementation.

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July 21, 2010

iPad on the Road -- Part IV

And yet another trip with the iPad. This time a 10-day product review trip to the Honduran island of Roatan. I took along all my dive gear, as well as a boatload of underwater cameras, both of the still and video variety, so luggage space was at a premium.

Unfortunately, this time the iPad didn't save me space and weight by replacing another computer. I had to lug along my big MacBook Pro because it has Quark XPress on it, which I needed for client work. And I had to bring my Acer Aspire One netbook because my Uwatec dive computer needs an IR port to upload dive data. So all three came along, which wasn't all bad.

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June 17, 2010

iPad on the Road -- Part III

Right on the heels of my last European trip, the iPad accompanied me on a very different kind of journey, a five-day dive trip to the California Channel Islands. That meant eight hours on the road each way to and from Santa Barbara, and the three days on the good ship Conception, an 80-foot dive vessel.

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June 07, 2010

iPad on the Road -- Part II

Back from a 3-1/2-day intercontinental trip that included a 17-hour trip to and a 22-hour trip back from Stockholm, Sweden. I checked what I'd usually consider a carry-on (the airlines don't charge for a checked bag on international routes, yet) and simply took along a shoulder bag just large enough for my MacBook Pro, camera, the usual assortment of cables and chargers, and my iPad.

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June 01, 2010

iPad on the Road -- Part I

Well, I am at Chicago O'Hare, waiting for my flight to Stockholm, Sweden, where I'll be giving a presentation on trends and concepts in mobile computing. The plan is that I'll woo the audience by whipping out my iPad and do a long Keynote presentation on it. It should work, in theory. Best Buy ad the requisite iPad dock-to-VGA converter in stock, and the iPad version of my Keynote presentation looks almost identical to the original. The only issues I noticed are that my 3D graphics where converted into 2D, and the iPad version cannot pick a small part of a larger QuickTime file, so I had to crop that file.

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May 07, 2010

Windows XP on an iPad? I declare!

What you're seeing in the picture to the right is lots of folks' worst nightmare: Windows XP on an iPad. The real thing and fully functional. How is this possible? With a VNC client (I use VNC Viewer). The iPad is not really running Windows XP, of course; it's just running a piece of software that lets you view, control and use Macs, Linux boxes and, yes, PCs.

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May 04, 2010

Magazine publishing on the iPad

I spent some time comparing different approaches to magazine publishing on the iPad. Given the amount of hype about the iPad being the savior of publishing, I am surprised there is not an iMagazine app or some such. I mean, Apple could take the lead here yet again, creating the iTunes of the magazine world.

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April 05, 2010

Waiting for the iPad 3G

So here it is, April 5th, and I have no iPad. That's because I want one with 3G. So my 32GB iPad 3G is on order, but I won't have it for a few more weeks. That really bites.

Honestly, I can't imagine why anyone would prefer a non-3G iPad over one with wireless anywhere (well, almost anywhere). I mean, the very reason my iPhone is so useful is because I have internet access away from WiFi hotspots. Does that really matter? It does unless you don't mind your life revolving around hunting for the nearest Starbucks and foraging for WiFi access. When I travel, the usefulness of my otherwise awesome MacBook Pro is seriously hampered because I never know if I'll find WiFi when I need it. Which made holding out for the 3G iPad a total no-brainer.

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March 22, 2010

iPad: Pixel-doubling? How about app-quadrupling?

Among the greatest criticisms of the upcoming iPad, forgetting for a moment the 800-pound gorilla issue of Flash, are a) no multitasking and b) the lameness of pixel-doubled iPhone apps. Pixel-doubling, of course, refers to Apple's plan on allowing iPad users to run iPad apps, which are designed for the iPad's 320 x 480 pixel screen, on the iPad's much larger 768 x 1024 pixel display by doubling every iPhone app pixel in both directions so that the resulting app now measures 640 x 960. That's a clever idea, but an app that looks crisp and sharp on the iPhone may look lost and clumsy in pixel-doubled mode on the iPad. How about app-quadrupling instead?

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March 07, 2010

Will the iPad replace my iPhone?

This week I will order my iPad. Though I know it'll take a bit longer, I am aiming for the 3G model with 32GB of storage. When I get it, I will sign up for the unlimited data plan, forking over an even larger part of my disposable income to AT&T every month. What I do wonder is whether the iPad will replace my iPhone.

Silly question you may say. The iPad is not a phone, so how could it replace the iPhone? True, but I really don't consider my iPhone as primarily a phone. It is, in fact, a pretty crappy phone, with voice quality worse than virtually any cellphone I've ever had, going back to the original Motorola "brick." But I do need a phone for the few calls I make, and it doesn't make sense to carry a much more convenient little fliphone in addition to the iPhone, and so, yes, the iPhone is my phone, too. But if I checked the number of minutes I use my iPhone as a phone versus for everything else, everything else would account for about 95%, at least.

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January 27, 2010

The Apple iPad -- Description and first impressions

On January 27, 2010, after months of intense hype but no leaks, Apple announced its latest product, the iPad. iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad. The iPad is a sleek tablet that looks like a cross between an iPhone and the LCD case of the MacBook Air. It measures 7.5 x 9.6 inches and is only half an inch thick. It weighs a pound and a half. It has a 9.7-inch multi-touch screen with 1024 x 768 resolution. Apple says its internal 25 watt-hour battery lasts ten hours. The iPad is powered by a 1GHz Apple A4 chip, a first as Apple never before used an Apple-branded chip. The iPad comes with 16, 32 or 64GB of Flash, and each version is available with or without 3G. Pricing starts at US$499, the most expensive 3G model runs US$829. Apple has special AT&T wireless data deals: US$14.99/month for 250MB or US$29.99/month unlimited, without contract, and the devices are unlocked. The standard version of the iPad will be available within 60 days of the January 27 release, the 3G version within 90 days. So that's the deal.

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