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Computer Conundrum Solved

A couple of months back, I was weighing my options for a new system. After I wrote my past post, I went and installed the evaluation version of Windows 8, and chose to use as my primary system, which turned out I did so for about three weeks. After all, I did want to give it a fair shake since I had not really used it since Consumer Preview. I’ll be honest, I am not quite as negative on Windows 8 as I was previously – there are noticeable performance improvements, and I started getting a little more used to the Start screen (once getting in the mode of hitting the windows key, then typing what app you want – ala Unity in Ubuntu). I still find it odd though that some system settings are in Metro, while others are still in the traditional Control Panel area. In the end, it still feels pretty disjointed. I’m hoping that Blue, now to be officially Windows 8.1 will solve some of this.

So in the end I chose a Mac, and purchased one about a month ago. Specifically a MacBook Pro 13″ – the base model, but had the RAM upgraded to 8GB. This was partially due to budget, and partially I found I like a smaller to medium footprint in a notebook, but still wanted decent hard drive space.

Now, I was still playing with Windows 8 some on the old system. I attempted to configure it for my son to use while we were going away for the weekend, but it had an issue with Minecraft complaining about video drivers. Once I installed what was supposed to be Windows 8 video drivers (ATI), Minecraft would run, but then the system would “blank out” after some time, and then not respond until you hard rebooted it. Time was running short, so for that trip, I had to revert back to Windows 7.

So back to the Mac. I like it. I am still relearning some things, but honestly remember quite a bit from when I used one last several years back. My setup is a 24″ monitor, keyboard, and mouse, with the laptop to the right opened as a secondary monitor. I’ve also moved the dock to the left side of the screen, as I’ve done in Windows when I use it, and as Unity does by default in Ubuntu. There is also a monitor to the left of the 24″ monitor, but that is hooked up to a cable box to use when I want to watch some TV.

One of the biggest adjustments I’ve needed to make is using Command instead of Control with keyboard shortcuts, i.e. Ctrl-C becomes Command-C in OSX. Once nice thing about having a mechanical keyboard is that I was able to physically move keycaps on the keyboard to match the remapping of keys I did. Note the Ctrl, Alt (equal to Option in OSX), and the blank “Windows” meta key used for Control.

To raise the laptop up so the screen is closer to the height of the main monitor, and also give some more room for the external mouse, I found Bench Cookies work quite well!

Some of you may be thinking, “once someone gets a Mac, they’ll want all their devices to be Apple”. This is true for some – one person I know also switched recently to Mac, then he quickly followed by getting an iPhone, replacing his Android. I tend to be a person who says “never say never”, but at this time I just don’t see myself adopting all things Apple or migrating into the Apple ecosystem. I am using OSX as an OS that gets out of my way. My wife has an iPhone, which I think is a great fit for her, but I personally still am more drawn to Android for my phone and tablet. I use Google products and really like how Android works with those products. My approach as I see it is very similar to Lamarr Wilson, with the difference being I have and like my Nexus 7 while he enjoys an iPad for a tablet. (If you are not familiar with Lamarr, check his channel out. He’s a very funny dude.)

So there it is. You can probably expect posts in the future that will include Mac, as well as Windows and Linux when I discuss OS related topics. Isn’t variety great?

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RIP Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

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More iPad Thoughts (NOT A Review)

You can’t help but to have read articles on the iPad since it’s announcement, and now that it is officially out, there will plenty more.  I’m sure I’ll check one out the next time I’m near an Apple store. I did not get one since I honestly cannot think of a compelling use case for me that would warrant dropping $500 on what I see as a companion, primarily content consumption device. I would expect that Apple at some point in the not too distant future will have a price drop.

Most of what I found were reviews, one of which from the NY Times. Actually, it’s two reviews in one article. One for “Techies”, and one for everyday folks. I do have to disagree though with articles premise that the everyday people are/will be iPad lovers, and the “Techies” iPad haters. Being a techie, I am not dismissing or hating the iPad. If I were still commuting to work on the commuter rail, that would be a perfect scenario of using one. I work with all techies as well being in IT, and there has been plenty of interest with many intending to get one. It would have been more appropriate I think if the article simply indicated each one as the iPad critic, and iPad fan review.

I’m obviously not going to try and review this since I have never used one. If you are interested in some initial thought articles on the iPad, check Paul Thurrott’s first impressions here, and another articles from the NY Times here. I have a few thoughts of the concept:

  • The extra screen real estate is a plus for many applications.
  • A great form factor for eBook reading and carrying in a bag or backpack. Something I would definitely consider if I were still taking the train to commute to work.
  • I’m wondering what is better for long term reading though – the reader screen of something like the Kindle, or the gloss color screen of the iPad?
  • And speaking of Kindle, I’m curious to see how the actual Kindle app on the iPad is compared to the native Apple book reader.
  • Seems like a perfect type of device to do Skype on, but no camera. Perhaps there will be one included in the next gen hardware.
  • No Flash.
  • Screen is not widescreen format, so I would expect to see those black bars when watching a movie on it.
  • From what I’ve read in reviews thus far, it seems like it’s a bit on the heavy side for its size.
  • Same closed system of applications for the device as is the case with the iPhone & iPod Touch. Maybe some think this is a positive, but I tend to lean toward a more open system myself. That said, I do have an iPod Touch and really like it.
  • I know this is just a pet peeve I have of the marketing, but come on, is it really “magical”? It’s real technology, and when I hear the word “magical” used, I start thinking of Disney music.

I can probably think of a few more things, but I would really want to check one out in person prior.

Computers Mobile Devices New Technology

iPad – What Do You Think?

I’ve been really bad about putting up new posts both here and my other blog lately, but how could I miss out on putting up something about the latest thing this week – the Apple iPad. What do I think of it? Well, I’m not sure yet. It’s definitely is a wonderful piece of technology. It’s a new category though, so not 100% sure where this will “fit in” just yet. It’s more than just a big iPod Touch, more than just an eBook reader, similar yet different than a netbook…

You get the idea. And we’ll have to wait and see what happens when they are actually available for purchase how well they sell, and what demographic(s) will be buying them.

What say you though? What are your thoughts, praises, critisisms, comments on the iPad?

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iWars: iPod vs. Zune

I got a kick out of this one… fun stuff.

(Full Disclosure: I do own a first gen iPod Touch, that I really like. I have no experience with the Zune, so I’m not in a position to compare the two – in other words, this is NOT meant to start any flame wars.)