My notes from Yesterday’s Apple Announcement (iPhone X)

1504235064_apple-special-event-september-2017-steve-jobs-theater-iphone-x-launchI put together some notes as I watched yesterday’s Apple event streamed live from the new Steve Jobs theater at the new Apple campus. I sent them out to fellow Mac users at work (I am one of the strong supporters of Macs where I work), and got such good feedback, I thought I’d gather the notes here on my blog to capture them for myself in the future.

Plus, this blog is lonely. I don’t write on it nearly as much as I would like.

So with that being said, here’s my notes from yesterday’s Apple event (aka the annual fall announcement of the new iPhones).

  • Tim Cook opened the event with a tribute to Steve Jobs.
  • Broadcasting from the new Steve Jobs theater in the new Apple park.
  • Apple park converted from a “sea of asphalt” into a green space. Designed to be seamless with Nature. Brings the outside in and connects everyone to the beautiful California landscape
  • 100% renewable energy powered. One of the world largest on site solar farms
  • Great visitor center open later this year. More than just an apple store. Focus on inspiring people, as well as discovering and exploring new products
  • Retail update – Angela Ahrendts
    • No longer call them “stores”, call them Town Squares
    • new store designs – creating plaza, open spaces open to everyone,
    • Launched “Today at Apple” – classes/sessions to teach people to use their phones to take photos, or swift playgrounds, to teacher Tuesdays where they keep educators up to date on the latest technologies
    • These sessions are led by a new position called the “creative pro”, a complement to the genius bar
    • Continue to open new ones, and reinvesting in the current ones.
    • Tim Cook especially proud of the apple employees
  • First product up: Apple Watch
    • 50% year over year sales growth
    • Apple watch is now the #1 watch in the world
    • 97% customer satisfaction rate (industry leading)
    • Tim Cook: most important thing to apple is how the watch is helping to change people’s lives.
    • Bring on Jeff Williams to talk about new stuff.
    • Watch OS 4 – redesigned workout app, Gymkit a new app to link to gym equipment.
    • Enhancing the heart rate app. more data displayed, adding feature to detect elevated heart rate when not active.
    • Announcing Apple Heart Study: Will use Watch data to analyze arrhythmia and notify users. Collaboration with Stanford Medical. Starts in US.
    • Next gen apple watch: Apple Watch series 3
      • Cellular built in
      • number is the same as your iPhone
      • Can use Siri, maps, text and phone calls, Find my Friends automatically switches to Watch from iPhone.
      • Same size cases. New gold aluminum finish in sport. New band colors. New band called Sport loop (light, stretchy and breathable)
      • Cellular, GPS, 70% faster processor, Watch OS 4
      • Series 1 $249, Series 3 without cellular $329, Series 3 with cellular $399
      • All versions Available in both 38mm and 42mm
      • Orders begin Sept 15, Available Sept 22nd
  • Next up: Apple TV
    • Announcing Apple TV 4K
    • Eddie Que
    • Supports HDR 10 and Dolby Vision.
    • To be honest, I am not a video aficionado so I don’t know what all of the different terms mean.
    •  A10X fusion chip. 2x CPU performance and 4x graphics performance of current Apple TV
    • Working with large studies to bring all their 4K versions to the iTunes store, all at same price as the HD versions
    • If you’ve bought HD version, automatically upgraded to 4K at no charge
    • Apple TV 4K starts at $179, Sept 15th order, Ships Sept 22,
  • Next up iPhone: iPhone 8
    • Giving a summary of the impact of the iPhone these 10 years.
    • No other device has had the impact on the world like the iPhone.
    • so essential or put so much power into people’s hands as the iPhone
    • Our intention with iPhone has always been to create something so powerful, immersive such that the hardware disappears.
    • “Apple has always believed that technology infused with humanity can change people’s lives and improve the world.”
    • Phil Schiller to talk iPhone 8 (4.7”), iPhone 8 plus (5.5”)
      • This is a huge step forward for iPhone
      • Glass in front and back. Side band made of aluminum (Assume this is the antenna)
      • Silver, space grey, and new gold finish
      • 7-layer color process, 50% strengthening, glass reinforced by steel. Most durable ever in a smartphone. Microscopically sealed.
      • A11 processor, six-core CPU, 64 bit design
      • Lots of specs, but basically, better for games, and much better for photos (dual cameras in the Plus)
      • More power allows for AR (augmented reality). AR being added to apps – MLB at bat to show player stats in real time as scan around the ballpark. Sky Guide uses AR to superimpose star maps on the sky around you (awesome app. I use it myself a lot)
      • Still has home button
      • Future is wireless. – Wireless charging
      • Qi open wireless standard – Any Qi-certified charger will work with iPhone 8.
      • New generation of iPhone, packed with innovations.
      • iPhone 8: 64GB ($699), 256 GB ($849)
      • iPhone 8 plus: 64 GB ($799), 256 GB ($949)
      • Preorder Sept 15, available Sept 22nd
  • One more thing – iPhone X (X pronounced “ten”)
    • “We’re not stopping there. We do have… one more thing.”
    • The Future of the Smart phone
    • “Reveal a product that will set the path of technology for the next decade” (video)
    • Biggest leap forward since original iPhone.
    • Phil Schiller back up again
    • iPhone X
      • Edge to edge, top to bottom display,
      • Glass on front and back, same as iPhone 8
      • side Band made of polished stainless steel (assume this is the antenna)
      • water and dust resistant at microscopic layer
      • Two colors: Space grey and silver
      • Super retina display
      • Super Retina Display: 5.8-inches. 2426×1125, 458 ppi. First OLED display great enough for iPhone.
      • Raise to Wake, or tap the screen to wake
      • no more home button – opportunity to rethink the way to use it
      • swipe up from bottom to go “home”
      • iPhone X locked until you look at it, and it recognizes you – Face ID
        • Uses True depth camera system area – sensors at the top of the screen
        • neural networks and machine learning creates a mathematical model of your face, and check the results from the camera against the mathematical model created on board, to unlock the phone
        • A11 bionic chip with built in neural engine
        • requires user attention to unlock., opens even in the dark
        • Chance of random person unlocking your phone is 1 in 50,000 touch ID, 1 in 1,000,000 for Face ID
        • also works with apple pay & 3rd party apps that work with Touch ID
        • Animoji – can create custom emoji’s that follow your facial motion, and record them and send in iMessages
      • Amazing cameras – dual optical image stabilization, low light zoom, f/1.8 and f2.4, larger, faster, deeper. *Dual* optical image stabilization. Better low-light. 2x bright Quad LED flash.
      • Battery life: 2 hours longer than the iPhone 7
      • Wireless – also wireless charging, Qi certified charging, but made it better to move the industry forward
        • Airpower: new Apple wireless charging matt that can be used by both iPhone and apple watch and new air-pods with wireless optional charging case – coming next year
      • new Jonny Ivy video played of the iPhone X.
      • iPhone X: 64GB ($999) and 256GB ($1149). 
      • pre-Order starts October 27, shipping November 3
    • iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 7 (regular and Plus) also still being sold
  • In summary, Tim Cook thanks everyone who works at Apple
  • “I think Steve would be really proud.” – Tim Cook

iPhone 6s Battery Replacement Positive Story

A few weeks ago, I read in an article that some models of the iPhone 6s were having issues with shutting down, were covered under a new Apple battery replacement program. After checking Apple’s site for the details and inputting my iPhone’s serial number where indicated, I found out that my iPhone 6s was one of the iPhones covered by this warranty.

I had noticed over the last few months that my iPhone was starting to work strangely. It completely shut down a couple of times when it had over 50% charge remaining, requiring me to do a hard reboot for several panicked sections in order to wake it up again. Another time, it went from 100% down to 20% in the space of an hour when I wasn’t even using it. And lately it’s been going from 100% to 80% after 10 minutes of use playing the Disney Magic Kingdoms game.

Once I knew my iPhone was part of this repair program, I set up a Genius bar appointment and made my way over to the Apple store. The start of the process couldn’t have been easier. They looked up my iPhone’s serial number in their system, verified it was part of the battery replacement program and opened a ticket for work to be done. They don’t keep the batteries in stock, but they do perform the repair in the store, so all they had to do was order the battery and give me a call later. They expected it to take a week to 10 days for the battery to arrive. I was worried I’d have to be without the iPhone for an extended period of time as they shipped it back to Apple. Happily, I would only be without it for the hour it would take to perform the replacement.

As it happens, it took much less than a week before they called me to set up my appointment to have them replace the battery. Since I was on vacation last week when they called, I set up the next genius bar appointment for this week.  After having to reschedule the appointment 3 times in favor of meeting conflicts at work I have just returned from getting my new battery.

I arrived about 10 minutes ahead of my appointment, and checked in with the Apple store employee with the iPad who greeted me at the front door. They looked up my appointment, asked for my iPhone to look up the serial number and turned off “Find my iPhone” once they’d verified that my iPhone was covered by this warranty. The cost to replace the battery was $79 but since this was a covered replacement, I owed nothing.

They told me it would take just over an hour to do the replacement, so my husband and I did some Christmas shopping and grabbed lunch at Cheesecake factory. We returned about and hour and 10 minutes later and checked in again. The iPhone was finished, so they had me wait by the side for one of the Apple genius folks to bring it out to me.

Less than 5 minutes later I had my old iPhone back in my hands. No issues so far except that this new battery had only a 20% charge and was entering low power mode, but all of my photos, and games, and apps were all still there. I had made backups to both iTunes and iCloud last night just to be safe. I read an article on cult of Mac today that an Apple employee was lamenting that the replacement program was a mess. This was definitely not my experience. Everything seemed to move smoothly. The Apple geniuses did appear to be doing several battery replacements but they didn’t seem to be overloaded with requests. Perhaps it helped that I’d scheduled my appointment so they could allocate their staff accordingly.

Now I have a new battery, a year in to owning and using this iPhone, so when I hand this down to my daughter next year, I know she’s going to be able to use this one for even longer than I anticipated before we have to upgrade her. It is things like this that make me continue to be a happy Apple iPhone owner. This is my 4th iPhone model since, and including, the original and I am already planning to buy whatever wonderfulness Apple releases next year.


I wish Barnes and Noble had its act together

I am a big fan of the Nook. I have a first edition Barnes and Noble nook and enjoy reading on it almost as much as paper. My husband has been taking it on travel with him for the better part of this year, so I haven’t been able to use it. I started to look on ebay to see what other first edition nooks might be going for. They are all less than $50. Might be worth buying one for him to use on travel.

In reality, I’ve been reading my B&N Books on my iPad mini more than on my nook as of late, so one nook in eink for us to share is probably plenty. I like the convience of being able to read in low light conditions, like in bed or when getting my kids to sleep. Plus, I like the response of the mini just a bit more than the nook.

I’ve looked into getting one of the nook HDs in white, and while I really like them, I just can’t justify another tablet when I have an iPad mini, an iPad 2 and an original iPad. What I want is an eink reader to use when I don’t want to carry around a tablet.

Perhaps I am in the minority. I still see the value in having a reader only device as well as a tablet.

I don’t like the kindle. I’ve played with both the fire, the kindle eink and the nook equivalents when Target sold them both; before Target figured out Amazon was their competition. I just don’t like the kindle hardware as much as the nook. Hands down, I prefer the Apple iPad to the Kindle fire experience, but for ereaders, I like the nook better than the kindle. COrrect that, I like the first generation nook better than the kindle. The nook simple touch with is short and squat form factor just doesn’t seem to be as nice as the taller white first generation nook. So, I haven’t made the leap to buy a new nook simple touch to replace my nook while my hubby travels.

I am not entirely sure why I haven’t splurged on the $79 nook simple touch. I think part of it is because I read on the iPad, and don’t need it. Part of it is that I don’t like the simple touch as much as the first gen nook. And part of it is because Barnes and Noble isn’t doing a really good job on the content side of things to go with their hardware. Their site is always so slow. When I try to load it up just to search for a book on my iMac, I usually have to load it, then load it again, and then load it one more time for good measure. I don’t know what sort of server or software drives the back end, but the end user experience is terrible.

I had high hopes that B&N could give Amazon a run. I hope they still do. If they don’t, I worry that that will mean the end of bookstores. Brick and mortar book stores. I miss having a bookstore closer than 45 minutes drive. Sure, most of the physical books I buy these days come, ironically, from Amazon, if there were a bookstore anywhere near me, I could see stopping by there weekly. But the closest one is easily several towns and several 10s of miles away from me. Once the Borders that was 30 minutes away from us closed, there was little else left.

I love bookstores. I used to stop by Waldenbooks in the local mall at least once a week when I was in high school and then college. I always left buying at least one book. I love books. I hope to always have a physical bookstore somewhere in the area. I worry that the chains have forgotten how to sell books. I worry that we the customers have trained them that we just want cheap stuff, and and no longer care about a place where we can sit down, relax, buy a coffee and check out some books.

Above all, I wish that eBooks were all the same format, so you could buy a book electronically once and read it on whatever hardware you liked best. That’s what I as a customer wants. DO enough customers want that to make it worthwhile to the book sellers?

I certainly hope so.

Do you have an ereader? If you do, tell me about it in the comments and how you like the experience. Do you miss book stores?

There is no perfect iPhone 4 case

IMG_0111I am having a terrible time finding a case for my iPhone 4. Yes, the 4. I’ve been looking since I bought it a year and a half ago. I have five cases, and although I sort of like each one of them, none of them is the perfect case. My husband just laughs at me because I am decidedly not the type of woman to buy a different purse for each different pair of shoes. I am just not an accessories person. Once I find something I like (purse, shoes, iPhone case), I use it until it practically falls apart. Only then do I replace it with a new one.

This has not been the case with my quest to find an iPhone 4 case.

I had an original iPhone. After pining for it since it’s June announcement, my husband bought one for me that Christmas. I loved it. It didn’t need a case. I put it in a green leather Ultraslim case from Sena and that was it. Well, almost it. I also put a skin on it from Skinit that one of the Lost bloggers had put together using the poster for the final season of Lost to give it some character.

I’d probably still be using that phone today if it and I hadn’t been destroyed in a rain storm two years ago. When it died, I tried to revive it. Put it in a bag of rice. I even sent it away to a shop that specialized in repairing damaged iPhones, but they sent it back saying that the damage from the water wasn’t worth the cost of repairing it. Broke my heart. I think it broke my daughter’s heart more. She was planning on getting my original iPhone when I eventually upgraded.

Dieing as it did between iPhone release cycles, I ended up getting the white iPhone 4. The new 4s came out only 4 months later. I read enough of the tech blogs that I knew it was coming, but I needed a phone then and couldn’t wait, so I went with the white iPhone 4. I love it in white. Since then, all future idevices of mine are white.

While I loved my original iPhone, really loved it, I only sort of like my white iPhone 4. I don’t know if it’s because I was upset I had to buy it right before a new one was announced, locking me into a contract for 18 months before I could upgrade, or if it’s because of the technical issues with that original white iPhone’s proximity sensor, or the fact that I am terrified that I am going to break it all the time, but I just don’t love this phone the way I loved my original iPhone or any of my iPads.

Buying a case for the white iPhone 4 proved challenging immediately. Because of this proximity sensor issue, the screen protectors weren’t compatible, and neither was any case that covered the screen and came close to the proximity sensor. I wanted to get a case that felt good in my hand, covered the glass, and would protect the phone for the inevitable time when I’d drop it.

I’ve bought four (well, Five) cases so far, but since I don’t really like any of them, I often switch out between them. I’ll list them here and then go through them one by one in future posts (that will give me something to write about!).

First case bought was a Sena Walletslim case in green leather. You will find that most of the cases I buy are green. I liked it, but didn’t like the leather that surrounded the screen and the way my fingers were constantly bumping against it.

Next up, I wanted to buy an Otterbox Defender case, the really protective ones that keep the iPhone protected from falls and some light rain, but at the time I got my iPhone 4 the Otterbox Defender wasn’t compatible with the white iPhone 4. The case blocked too much light from the proximity sensor, making it unable to detect when you  bring the iPhone close to your face.

So, instead, my second case was the Otterbox Reflex. It’s a slider case in two pieces. Nice and sturdy. My only compliant is that the cutout for the headphone jack is too small to fit the Griffen cable I use feed my iPhone or iPod output to the Aux input of my car’s speaker system, and the cutout for the charging/syncing cable on the bottom is too small for the third party charging station I have on my desk at work.

Eventually, the iPhone 4S came out, in white and black, and Otterbox made the hole in the Defender case around the proximity sensor larger, therefore removing the blockage that made the face proximity fail.  I ended up buying a Defender in the same color as my Reflex, and used it for travel, rainy days, etc. I wish I liked it. I want to like it, but I don’t like the feel of the rubber.

Case number 4 is from Casetagram. I got hooked on instagram shortly after it came out, and well before it was purchased by Facebook (boo, hiss). Having a case with my instagram photos on it sounded awesome. As soon as I had enough photos saved up, I made my own casetagram Case. I love it, and right now, of the four cases I mentioned, this is my favorite. Only trouble is it doesn’t offer very much protection. It’s a thin plastic, without any rubber between the case and the phone itself to cushion any falls. But it feels nice in my hand.

I do have a case number 5, but I have yet to take it out of the box. I bought it more because I am a collector and couldn’t turn this one down when it went ridiculously on sale. I bought a Star Trek case from Think Geek when they reduced it to $4. Bought it in Science officer blue, naturally.

There you have it. I have five cases for my white iPhone 4, and while they each have things they do well, there isn’t one of them that is THE case. I suppose it’s sort of like having lots of shoes. I have thinner ones for nicer weather, and then the heavier ones for winter, rain, and trips where dropping is a higher probability.

Thanks for reading, and if you’ve got an iPhone 4 case that you love, feel free to share it in the comments. I could always add a few more to my collection.


A small taste of irony

I tried to get to my blog from work yesterday. I wasn’t going to post to it. I just wanted to read it like I read dozens of other blogs on my lunch break.   Mostly, I wanted to see whether the post I’d written and scheduled had actually gone live. Under the rules and requirements for use of computer systems at work, reading blogs on our lunch breaks is allowed.

Unfortunately, our Firewall at work now blocks my blog.

The firewall blocking is a new occurrence because I’ve checked to see if a post went live by reading my blog at work before. It’s been so long since I posted anything, though, that I can’t say for sure when I was last successful.

When I navigated to the page that you all navigate to when you read this blog,, I got our “This site is blocked by your organization” website. The reason for the block? Essentially something about being uncertain about the content of the site and whether it is work related.

If I believe that the site is being unnecessarily blocked, I can issue a help ticket with our IT support group to have them go into the Firewall rules and excuse this particular site. I have had to do that before for legitimately work related sites that held information on spacecraft and launch vehicles and related systems, that were blocked by the third party firewall software IT security implemented. In the past, it was a relatively painless process. We have a new IT support contract that seems to offer anything but support for IT, so I don’t know how smoothly the process would work now.

I am leaning toward not going to create a help ticket to get access to my blog. It just seems too much like narcissism.  The small irony of this does make me laugh. You’d think that of all the blogs I read on my lunch hour, mine would be applicable to where I work. The very title of the blog has the word Rocket in it!

Maybe the firewall rules have been recently updated and they will eventually open access back up again. Until then, I will have to check my blog on my iPhone if I want to do it during the day, or just wait until my children and husband allow me time to sit on my computer at home.

I hope that your organization isn’t blocking my blog as something you shouldn’t be reading at work.


Checking out an electronic epub formatted library book: part 2 – to read on my iPad

While I like ebooks, I don’t like them enough to buy a whole bunch of them. If I am going to buy a book, I still tend to buy paper. That’s not to say that I don’t want to read the latest things. For those books that I want to read just to keep up with what’s current, but probably won’t read again, I have found that I am using my library’s electronic book lending.

It’s been a while since I posted part one of this process. You can find a post here where I walk through some instructions to check out and download an electronic book from my local library for reading on my nook. I have since made more use of reading library eBooks on my iPad than I ever do on my nook. This is due largely to the ease of checkout, download, and read via a little app called Overdrive.

Overdrive Meda Console is available on a variety of platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, Blackberry, iPhone and iPad and apparently, even Windows 7.

I only use OMC on my iPad, so I can’t vouch for how well it works on the iPhone or what your reading experience will be there. I would imagine that it would just be smaller. All other functions really should be the same.

After installing OMC, checking out a library book could not be more simple. This is all provided you have your informatino from your library needed for online checkout of electronic books and that you have no fees from late returns open on your account. As long as you currently have what you need to check books out of your local library, you should be just fine.

Launch the app and it opens to a plain white and blue listing of books you currently have checked out. When it’s your first time, you probably don’t have any books there. Tap on the “get books +” button in the upper right hand corner.

This will flip the page over to another white and black listing of libraries. Again, if this is your first time you will have to add your library. Tap on the “Add a library +” to do so. To find your library, just put in its name, or address or postal code. A list of libraries should come up for you to click on the one that is yours.

Once you’ve clicked on your library, Safari will come up and allow you to log into the library using whatever library credentials you need there.  This is usually a library card number and a pin. Again, if you could log into your library account via the web before, you do it the same way here.

Once you have signed in, you might have to double tap the home button to go back to Overdrive. I have a feeling that it jumps back after login but I this is the one part of the process I don’t remember.

Now that you’ve put in your login credentials, Overdrive will remember your account information as well as that library on that white and blue page from here on after, so you don’t have to go dig your library card out in the middle of the night when you want to check out a book. To me, this is probably the feature I like the most in this whole setup.

To check out a book, browse around on your library’s eBook checkout page until you find something you like. My library has a digital cart system, and once you check out your cart, you have checked out the book. What Overdrive does, now, is brings the book you’ve checked out in your cart over to that first white and blue page and will ask if you want to download it. Do so and now you can read from within the Overdrive app.

As an ebook reader, Overdrive is just fine. I like it better than the nook app interface on the iPad but not nearly as much as I like the iBooks interface. The nice part of the interface is it shows you a tiny calendar and the number of days you have left to read your book. Once your lending period has expired, you will no longer be able to open the book and Overdrive will tell you so.

When you are done reading, you can delete the book from the Overdrive bookshelf. A nice touch here is that if you haven’t finished and your lending period has expired, if you recheck out the book, Overdrive will remember your place and you can continue to read where you left off.

I love how easy this is. It makes the process to put a book on my first generation nook seem to arcane and is such a hassle that I almost never do it. For electronic reading, I still prefer the black and white eink of the nook, but for ease in checking out electronic library books, this Overdrive app on the iPad is so simple I only use it.

I’d be interested to hear if any of you have used this app and what your experiences are.

Happy reading.


The end of my iPad only experiment

Back in March, my Macbook died (or it seemed that it died – more about how I brought it back to life in another post) and I was left without a computer. Instead of going out and purchasing a new Mac right then and there, I decided to wait. I read enough of the Apple press to know that with the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) just around the corner, new iMacs and MacBooks would be just around the corner.

I decided to embark on an experiment of sorts, to see if I could live with just my iPad2 as my computer while I put the purchase of a new iMac or MacBook on hold.

The WWDC came and went and only new MacBook Pros were announced. By then, I had decided that I was ready to switch back to a desktop machine from the laptop I had been using, and I wanted to purchase a  new iMac. With my iPad2 as my portable machine, I didn’t see the need for a laptop, but editing lots of photos and movies I have taken of my kids would be so much easier on an iMac.  Sadly, Apple didn’t announce new iMacs at the WWDC festivities.  So, rather than wait any longer, my husband and I visited the Apple store on this side of town (there are two) to purchase a new 21.5″ 2.7 GHz quad-core iMac, with 8GB RAM. Yes, I do know that this means new iMacs are destined to be released with the release of Mountain Lion later this month.

All in all, I would say that my experiment was a success. For everything that I needed the portability of a laptop for, my iPad2 is more than sufficient. I probably won’t be purchasing another laptop for personal use as long as I have an iPad. I am fairly proficient at typing on glass, and I like the touch screen, pinch zoom, swipe, gestures.

The things I use the iPad for (and do not need a desktop or full computer)

  • Surfing the web
  • Reading and responding to email
  • To Do List tracking (Wunderlist is my go to app)
  • Watching streaming video from iTunes, or ABC app player, youtube, etc. either on the iPad2 itself or to our television via Airplay to our Apple TV.
  • Listening to podcasts: via instacast app or stitcher radio app. The new Apple iOS podcast app only just came out and I have yet to test it out, but I suspect it would be fine too.
  • Reading Social Network sites via their apps: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+
  • Reading ebooks
  • Playing games

The only trouble I had with some of the social network apps on the iPad was the limitations they put on their functions in a mobile device. Twitter, in particular, made it hard for me to manage my account on the iPad. You can’t approve followers, or sort the folks you follow into your lists either via the twitter official app or the website. The Website part is annoying because I couldn’t figure out a way to bypass the mobile version of the site in order to get the full functionality.

While I appreciate it when sites anticipate what I want to see by offering a more streamlined “mobile” version of their site, I appreciate it even more when they offer a link to take me to the full site.  The iPad is a mobile device that is also capable of reading full webpages as they are designed to be read by the rest of the non-mobile audience.

As capable as my iPad is, there were still some show stoppers for me that lead me back to wanting to have a desktop as the base station for my i-devices.

Things I wanted a desktop for (and for which the iPad 2 just wasn’t enough).

  • Managing my iDevices
  • Manipulating and managing personal photos
  • Manipulating and managing home movies
  • Creating content (software development – I dabble)
  • Running analysis codes (sometimes work comes home with me)
  • Holding the movies, TV shows, etc to be served to our Apple TV
  • Backing up data from the iPads, iPhone, iPod Touch, as well as movies, photos, etc. via TimeMachine
  • Writing this blog (yes, you can do it, but I didn’t find it at all easy)
  • Manage my Barnes and Noble nook (downloading ebooks borrowed from the local library)

Managing my iDevices

In all, I manage two iPads (my original one that now belongs to my son, my iPad2),  my iPhone 4 and my daughter’s iPod touch. I am more comfortable updating the iOS, and apps on my computer via iTunes, and then updating the rest of the iDevices via iTunes by physically hooking them unto the Mac. Call it old habits or bad memories, but updating things over the air makes me terribly nervous. I did it during the three month experiment, but it was always with copious fingers crossed.

Overall, if you’re considering making your iPad your only computer, you should go through the list of things you want to be able to do with it. For me, the list seemed even, but in the end, the things I wanted an iMac for (over a MacBook) were all things that I couldn’t do with the iPad alone.

I think it’s worth a few more blog posts to go through each of the items that I found I couldn’t do with the iPad alone. Some of them were show stoppers, and some of them were things I found the iPad just didn’t do as well as an iMac.

I don’t think that Apple means for the iPad to be everything. At least, I don’t think that apple sees the iPad as the everything device just yet. I can see a future where Apple envisions the iCloud serving all the functions my iMac does, and the iPad just interacts with it. For me, though, that’s not really the path I’d like to walk. I’ve always been a “let me do what I want” sort of gal when it comes to my Mac, and I don’t see the Cloud replacing that anytime soon.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve got specific questions about things you want to do with your iPad only solution that you don’t think you can. I will so my best to answer them.

Take care and happy computing.


RSM Research: Traveling with iPad only, writing apps

My Mom and Step Dad are about to head on off to the great state of Alaska for a two week vacation. They both have MacBook Pros but recently got iPad2s when the price dropped upon the release of the new iPad. They are long time iPhone users, so they know their way around iOS.

They’d like to travel light, but they also want to email and keep in touch with family while they are on the road, so they want to take only the iPads with them and leave the laptops at home.

Staying Connected

For the most part, I think they can. They can read email, surf the web when they are within a free wi fi hot spot, assuming their hotel and Bed and Breakfast locations have wi-fi. For non network requiring apps, they can play on the road and outside of networks. My Step Dad bought the iPad 2 with 3G and plans on turning on the month of service from AT&T before they go. I will be out of town when they leave, so I am encouraging him to actually go to an AT&T store and have them turn on the 3G service this first time. That way he has someone to walk him through the process.

Writing on the iPad

The primary reason both my Mom and Step Dad wanted to bring their laptops along was to write. They both have some writing to do for work and fun while they are traveling, so I spent last night researching potential options of writing apps on the iPad. My quick searching last night yielded three apps I am testing out, two of which I have installed on their iPads and hope that they can actually use.


Naturally, Apple’s flagship iWork application, Pages, is the first app I thought of. However, I am not sure how to get the documents from Pages to somewhere else with iDisk going away. I haven’t upgraded my own MobileMe account to iCloud yet so I I haven’t tested how Pages is integrated with iCloud. As far as I know, Pages doesn’t support Dropbox storage. Given the short timeframe I have to find and test out an app, I’ve ruled out Pages for now. The $9.99 charge for the app when I don’t know if it will do what they need helped with that decision.


A few weeks back, iMore reviewed and recommended the app PaperDesk for the iPad. I had been looking for a good note taking app that would have both stylus/drawing capabilities as well as typing abilities. I’ve used it to take notes in meetings a few times, and found it to be responsive and fairly straightforward to use. You can get the paid for version for $3.99 and a free lite version. I gave both my Mom and Step Dad a quick tutorial and then let them play with the app for a few minutes on my iPad2 before decided to purchase the paid for both of them. I liked how quick the pen responded to figure gestures on the iPad’s screen. The insertion of photos was seemless and as long as you were good at placing the curser where you wanted text to start, the typing also seemed to work well. It was the syncing to dropbox was the deciding factor for me, but the ease of creating notebooks as well as picking the email option as a way to transfer files. Hopefully they will actually get some use of the app.


I rounded out the testing with a free app called PlainText by Hog Bay Software because it is specifically designed with DropBox text editing in mind. While I did download it for my Mom, I didn’t get a chance to test it out before my husband and I had to get the kids home for bath and bedtime. So, Mom is on her own. Since this one is free, hopefully she will be able to tinker with it.


The linchpin to all of this, and the thing I never finished getting them set up on is DropBox. I had them both download the Dropbox app but didn’t get a chance to sign them up for accounts. Hopefully I can get it done before I leave for vacation, but if I don’t they will have to backup their documents with email.

Other options

While I didn’t even install it, Evernote was another option I considered. I dismissed it because in my opinion, unless you get the paid version, Evernote isn’t useful on an iPad when you’re traveling and not on a wi-fi network.  You can write something local but once it’s synced up on Evernote’s servers, it becomes really difficult to add to that note. We had a headache using it on a recent trip because we the wi-fi we were using kept dropping the signal so we couldn’t access any of our previously written notes. I wished the app cached more on the iPad.

Hopefully all will go smoothly, because my husband and I (the resident Mac and iOS tech support for my family) will be as far in the continental US from my Mom and Step Dad on their Alaskan vacation as we can be.

Wish us all happy travels and lots of good luck!


RSM musings: All my friends are buying iPads.

An interesting thing keeps happening to me. Over the last few weeks, several friends and family who have long known my obsession with Macs and all things Apple have contacted me out of the blue to either get advice on or announce with great fanfare their purchase of a new iPad.  They contacted me to let me know that the “got it” and knew that I’d be as excited about their purchase as they were. The finally understood why I’ve been such a fanatic all these years. They finally see what I saw in the simplicity and brilliance of the creations coming from Apple and what has made me such a devoted fan.

I remember when I was the only person in my family who even knew of the Macintosh computer, let alone owned one. Everyone else used PCs running Windows and they never really understood my devotion to an operating system that ran on such a small segment of the market. How would I get anything done on a machine that less than 5% of the personal computer users owned?

I knew why. I knew that Macs were different. The Mac was built as though Apple knew how I thought, knew how I worked, knew I just wanted to get things done.  By simplifying things, Steve Jobs and his team at Apple made me a better engineer, a better rocket scientist.  I wish I’d been able to thank him.

I remember sitting in a Mac User Group meeting about 9 or 10 years ago, and one of the attendees held up their Palm Pilot and asked when Apple would make something better. Several folks in the room concurred (myself included). We all liked having a portable electronic calendar and note taker, but it was so limited. It was so hard to use. We wanted something made by Apple so that, like our Macs, it would just work. The Apple rep just smiled. All he would say is that we weren’t thinking big enough.

That was years before Apple announced the iPhone and the iPad, but I have the sneaking suspicion that prototypes for both existed inside Apple headquarters in Cupertino at the time we were asking. Jobs knew what we wanted in those devices even better than we were able to articulate.

I am glad that we are living in the interesting times we’re living in now. I am glad I have always been a Mac fanatic. I am glad that so many of my family and friends are finally getting their hands on revolutionary technology. And I cannot wait to see what is going to come next.

Think Different


RSM Experiment: Using my iPad 2 as my only computer –part III: Editing Photos

Continuing my series of articles on using my iPad 2 as my only computer (see Part I the background here, and part II on podcast streaming here).

I take a lot of digital photos. A. Lot. My MacBook’s hard drive is probably equally filled with movies and photos. After every family vacation, I have been using iPhoto to manage my photos and create photo books of the trip. I used to upload photos to Shutterfly and order prints to put into photo albums, but I’m running out of room in my house for physical photo albums and the time to actually do the ordering and putting photos in the albums. The iPhoto books seemed a good alternative.

One year I made my mom an iPhoto book of the grandchildren. It was such a big hit that she’s requested an updated photo book every year for Christmas s the only gift she wants. I try to capture photos of all of our get togethers during the course of the year into one album in iPhoto, and then spend November painstakingly putting together the book.

I have found I like to do this in iPhoto even though there are online options like shutterfly because our home internet connection is so very ridiculously slow. Working off line saves my sanity.

Now that apple has finally introduced iPhoto for the iPad, I might be able to move the whole iPhoto book creation over to my iPad as well. For now, all of my photos sit on the hard drive that lacks a computer to access them, so I will have to wait a bit to test this out.

Since I don’t yet have the iPhoto app to test, I am not sure how the workflow will go. Would I need to move the photos to my iPad to edit them, or can I push them to the iCloud (When I get there) and bring them down onto the iPad to edit them. Given the previous statement about our slow internet connection speeds, whatever I do, I will want to have the photos offline on the iPad to do the editing.

I am also concerned with the screen size. I have found that using even my 13″ MacBook has become difficult because I can’t really see if a photo is blurry or not. I can only enlarge them so much. The fact that I use my laptop mostly for photo editing is the primary reason that is driving me toward an iMac as my next computer.

This one is going to have to wait on hold until I can get the photos from my hard drive to my iPad to actually test it out. Let’s consider this a placeholder for when I actually have time to get the iPhoto app and give it a proper review.