Operation Consolidate Devices…

Has been a resounding success for the most part.  (Also some minor blog housekeeping notes.)

I just need to sell the iPad Mini 2 (hopefully at work this week).

The plan: Sell the iPad Mini 2 and the Macbook Air 11″ and go to only the following:

  • Desktop that my ex and I built. It runs Windows 10 right now; it’s run Windows versions 7, 8.1, and now 10, as well as varying versions of Ubuntu.
  • Dell XPS 13 that I bought in March. I got it from rich_h_ in #ubuntu-us-mi (the Ubuntu MI LUG group). It runs Ubuntu 15.04 and it’s the right balance of size, speed, and weight to transport home or to other places.
  • iPad Air 2 that I just bought to replace the Mini 2. It’s a sweet, skinny machine that runs iOS 8 and all of my apps blazing fast.
  • My phone which is a Samsung SIII. I am looking at other phones/plans possibly to update to next year sometime. It works and runs what I need it to.

I’ve sold the Macbook Air to a friend. Got a fair price for it.

So. Yes. I’m trying to have fewer devices to organize and take care of and keep updated. This will work in my favor, I do believe.

For the record, I’m keeping iOS, Ubuntu, Android (well this doesn’t really count), and Windows 10 up to date and running without any issues.

I will have a quick review or whatever about my impressions of the iPad, but honestly, it’s like the iPad Mini 2 except with touch ID and larger.  I dunno.  It’s a slim slab of glass that you touch to interact with it.  It’s great but there’s not a lot to really get into.

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Also, a short aside, I apologize for the double posts over here.  I was experimenting with Medium and I’d not pulled my IFTTT connection before I did that and… it posted the stuff I pulled over there.  I’m impressed with it as a writing and reading platform but it’s not really… extensible.  Like WordPress.  I dunno.  We will see… I might publish some stuff over there and have it cross post to here.

What’s on my Tablet, September Edition

I haven’t done a lot of writing about my iPad recently, and I’ve especially not done a roundup of my favorite and most used apps.

Here we go!

First, a screenshot:

I have an Adventure Time wallpaper that I found online.  I’m wondering if I should try something like Launch Center Pro.  But I digress.

Along the bottom you’ll see BoxerPocket, iBooks, Reeder 2, and Hangouts.  They are probably my most used apps, with the exception of Chrome.

Along the top I have the calendar app, Yahoo Weather (an awesome weather app that allows for multiple locations, my “Web” folder, which contains the following:

  • BaconReader (Reddit app)
  • Google+
  • Twitterific
  • Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • GoodReads
  • Wikipedia
  • Google Search
  • Mail
  • Facetime
  • Messages
  • Safari
  • Xkit

I am thinking of moving BaconReader (which I will do full review of soon) out of my web fodler and into the bottom “dock” but I’m not sure.  It’s an awesome Reddit reader; I use it on my android phone too.  Most of those apps are standard things that most tablets will have.  I don’t use the last five apps as much.  Xkit isn’t robust enough on the iPad for regular use for Tumblr, but once it gets updated it will be.

My “Games” folder is next to my “Web” folder.  I’m not going to go through the games that I have, but suffice it to say that I have a few and I love each of them, from Candy Crush to Smule.

The next row is my “Entertainment” folder and I have the following in it:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu+
  • TuneIn
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • 8Tracks
  • Play Music
  • Roku
  • MetroTimes
  • WatchESPN
  • PBS
  • TitanTV (TV grid for OTA/Cable listings)
  • Youtube
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Podcasts

I don’t use the standard Apple Videos, Music, or Podcasts apps, but all the others I get a decent amount of use from.  They are mostly self-explanatory.  MetroTimes is a local alt newspaper in the Metro Detroit area that has local events and some cool writeups about local interests (DEMF and Movement come to mind).

The next folder houses the following under “Utiliities”:

  • M. Cycles
  • Google Maps
  • Chase
  • OverDrive
  • iTunes Store
  • Camera
  • Photos
  • Swiftkey (awesome keyboard app that I use here plus on my android phone)
  • Other iPad apps that I don’t use: Contacts, Notes, Photo Booth, Clock, Maps, Reminders, Newsstand, Tips.

Next is “Productivity”:

  • Evernote
  • Evernote Food
  • Penultimate
  • Skitch
  • UFYH
  • Dropbox

I love the Evernote suite of apps (Evernote, Food, Penultimate, Skitch).  They’re awesome for the iPad, phone, or an Android tablet.  UFYH I bought to support the blog that I use daily and for motivation for keeping my habitat picked up. Dropbox is indespensible for anyone who has more than one internet connected device.

Lastly, I have a guitar tuner (that I use for my ukulele!); Groove Bank, which is a drum machine that can keep me on beat for my uke playing; and Chrome.  I don’t use safari because I need bookmark and tab syncing between devices.

The second page just holds my Settings and App Store icons.

A tablet is a really personal setup.  I have what I need where I need it.  I like to keep things in folders to keep the front page sort of clear so I can see the awesome background I have.

 

Retina iPad Mini Review

I said I didn’t want an iPad.

Well, I caved and bought one a few months ago.  I’ve been using it for a couple months now and I absolutely love it.  I loved my Nexus 7 (it has a happy home at my friend’s place now) but I had a couple issues with it, namely lack of decent accessories (I know, that’s a stupid excuse) and the nagging feeling that Google will discontinue support now that they are encouraging OEMs to make Google Play editions of devices.

I wanted an update to my tablet (been almost two years) and I felt like the best option for me at the time was the iPad Mini Retina 32 GB.  I got the “smoke grey” version and a blue iPad smart case because I wanted to protect the thing (it was expensive!).  And just today I picked up a Logitech “hinge” case that allows for more options when propping the tablet up for watching films and whatnot.  It actually kind of looks like I covered my iPad with a carpet, but you’ll see that in the pictures.

Speaking of… pictures:

2014-06-16 18.27.11Everyone’s seen an iPad mini by now, but here’s my setup start screen.  You can see the relatively small bezels on the sides.  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I really don’t mind them at all.

2014-06-16 18.27.23

2014-06-16 18.28.31
These next two are the cases.  I got the smart case at first and I love it, but I don’t see a lot of protection save for scratches and very short drops (like from the couch to the carpeted floor).  I went to Best Buy tonight and found the second case.  It’s a Logitech “hinge” case that is highly adjustable and has more options for propping the tablet up than the smart case.  The smart case is significantly lighter than the Logitech case, but I think the advantage in extra protection is worth it.

Anyway, this little machine went with me to Supreme Session in Omaha and was my main device to take notes and check email on.  I accomplished this with Evernote (I sprung for Premium; totally worth it when I didn’t have any online connectivity).  I love Evernote and I’m using it much more, but that’s another post for another time.  Anyway, I also picked up a stylus but I’ve not used it as much as I thought I would.  I was going to try to use Penultimate but it’s actually faster for me to type my notes directly into Evernote from the on screen keyboard than it is to try to write them in Penultimate.

In the next two pictures, you can see how the tablet is propped by the different cases.

2014-06-16 18.27.59 2014-06-16 18.29.10

So, dear readers, you’re probably wondering where my pro and con lists are.  Right… here.

Pros:

  • Size.  I love this size.  I wouldn’t be able to wrangle an iPad Air easily, but this I can fit in one hand and poke at with the other, much like I could with the Nexus 7.  I like the 7″-8″ form factor; it’s perfect for reading, playing games, watching Netflix/Hulu in bed, and taking notes in Evernote.
  • The screen.  Oh my.  The screen is beautiful.  I’m glad I held out for the retina version and splurged on it instead of the cheaper original mini.
  • Speed.  This thing blazes.  I have a few beefs with iOS but that’s me, not the operating system.  I prefer some things related to Android (the notification shade, for one) but I’ve gotten used to iOS.  It works and generally gets out of your way.
  • Weight.  This thing is light.  It’s a hair heavier than the Nexus 7, but it also has a metal backing instead of plastic (I’m not knocking plastic here, but it’s something to consider) and a slightly larger screen.  Anyway, it’s lighter than the 11″ Macbook Air that I have (not that it’s heavy by any means).
  • Build quality.  Holy shit this thing is built well and has awesome fit-and-finish.  As a mechanical engineer, I really appreciate good fit-and-finish.
  • Battery life.  Holy whoa, I get almost two days between charges, more if it sits in standby.

Cons:

  • iTunes.  This program is really shitty on Windows.  It’s slow and bloated, but luckily, I can manage most of my stuff from the iPad itself and I don’t have to deal with the program.  I could transfer everything to my Macbook, but I’m limited on space there, so I don’t really want to.  I cheat and use dropbox a lot.
  • The aforementioned lack of decent notification shade, which is something I love coming from Android.
  • No back button.  You don’t realize how much you get used to that hard-coded back button on Android till you go to iOS.

So.  This is a definite buy if you’re looking for a new tablet.  If you’re happy with Android, get the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S, but be aware that the storage situation is slim.  I think it starts with 16 GB and doesn’t increase it, but you can expand to more with an SD card.  I’ve never had luck with that, though, so you’re mileage may vary.

 

 

 

Apple Macbook Air 11″, and why I decided to get one

I said I’d never get a Mac.

I swore I’d never get a Mac.

I thought people who had Macs were pretentious.  I thought people who had Macs had more money than sense.  Linux worked just fine for me and I was also pleased with Windows 7.

That was before I heard about the new ultrabooks that actually came out earlier this year.  I seriously looked at them at Best Buy early in June; the Dell XPS ultrabook looked really nice, but I read some hassles about Ubuntu and there was absolutely no guarantee about battery life (they were advertising almost eight hours of battery life under Windows 7).  I asked some questions, then wandered over to the Apple desk.  I played with both 11″ and 13″ Airs, and was impressed.

(This is long, so we’ll go under a cut.)

Continue reading Apple Macbook Air 11″, and why I decided to get one

Life Update

I have sadly neglected this blog since I transferred it over here from Posterous.  For that, I apologize.

What is up in my life?  Well, let me make a list:

  • I’m still working at Chrysler.  I still love it.
  • I bought a new TV.  It is awesome.
  • I bought a PS3.  It is awesome as well.
  • My car is getting closer to being paid off.
  • I bought Skyrim.
  • I went to Portland and their Shrine Hospital.  I had an awesome time and met some uber cool people from Tumblr.
  • I bought a Macbook Air in Portland.
  • Consequently, my debit card got a hold on it.
  • I took care of this via the phone at the Atlanta airport.
  • I got home from Portland.
  • I slept over 12 hours and missed most of Sunday morning.
  • I drove back down here to be at work tomorrow.

Wow, what a list!

Review of some of those things will be forthcoming (the Portland trip and my Air).

The TV is awesome in general; it’s large without being too large.

Well… that’s it for now.  I have some things to write about the Air and my Portland trip, but I’ll tackle those when I’m not as tired.

Steve Jobs, Successful CEO. Also, evil.

From Gawker: What Everyone is too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs.

In the days after Steve Jobs’ death, friends and colleagues have, in customary fashion, been sharing their fondest memories of the Apple co-founder. He’s been hailed as “a genius” and “the greatest CEO of his generation” by pundits and tech journalists. But a great man’s reputation can withstand a full accounting. And, truth be told, Jobs could be terrible to people, and his impact on the world was not uniformly positive.

We mentioned much of the good Jobs did during his career earlier. His accomplishments were far-reaching and impossible to easily summarize. But here’s one way of looking at the scope of his achievement: It’s the dream of any entrepreneur to affect change in one industry. Jobs transformed half a dozen of them forever, from personal computers to phones to animation to music to publishing to video games. He was a polymath, a skilled motivator, a decisive judge, a farsighted tastemaker, an excellent showman, and a gifted strategist.

One thing he wasn’t, though, was perfect. Indeed there were things Jobs did while at Apple that were deeply disturbing. Rude, dismissive, hostile, spiteful: Apple employees—the ones not bound by confidentiality agreements—have had a different story to tell over the years about Jobs and the bullying, manipulation and fear that followed him around Apple. Jobs contributed to global problems, too. Apple’s success has been built literally on the backs of Chinese workers, many of them children and all of them enduring long shifts and the specter of brutal penalties for mistakes. And, for all his talk of enabling individual expression, Jobs imposed paranoid rules that centralized control of who could say what on his devices and in his company.

It’s particularly important to take stock of Jobs’ flaws right now. His successor, Tim Cook, has the opportunity to set a new course for the company, and to establish his own style of leadership. And, thanks to Apple’s success, students of Jobs’ approach to leadership have never been so numerous in Silicon Valley. He was worshipped and emulated plenty when he was alive; in death, Jobs will be even more of an icon.

This is a powerful piece of journalism.  I can’t get over how Jobs treated people.  Telling an engineer or design lead that their design/widget was “shit” and resorting to public humiliation to motivate employees is not the way to run a company.  I’m not saying it doesn’t happen in other companies, but my point is that it should never happen.  

Say what you will about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, but they’re at least donating their money to charity.  Jobs never did, unless he’s going to posthumously or he did anonomously while he was still alive.

Apple has censored apps from their app store.  Apple has censored and intimidated journalists and bloggers.  Apple makes locked-down computers and operating systems.  It’s very difficult to install Linux onto a Mac.

Apple has taken BSD for its’ own use and changed it into OSX.  A free OS should still be free, in my opinion.  I have no problem selling it, but the code should be free for people to look at.  I’m not sure how the version of BSD that OSX is based on was licensed, but I still feel that the source code should be open.