The case for authentic Apple cables

When the new lighting connector was announced the internet was awash with rumblings of Apple’s conspiracy to squeeze more money out of their consumers. Indeed the new authentication chip appeared to be something to that effect. There are many cheap reproductions available online, especially at first, most of which iOS 7 would warn you about. These have proven in my experience to be low quality, breaking within a couple of weeks of purchase. Subsequently Apple started a “certified” program with the big names getting on board (Belkin and the like). These accessories have also proven to break down in my use, with loose connections.

The bottom line is that, as usual, apple makes the best items in this arena (Period)

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iOS 7: Beta 1 impressions

There is something unique and polished to the iOS environment. Something that Windows 8 and Android are trying to overcome with a new, flat, trend setting kind of design. I’ve heard the gregarious conversation about how flat is now and how Skeuomorphism is passé in user interface design. But regardless iOS has always seemed more polished and professional than either Android or Windows.

iOS 7 is the newly redesigned future of iOS, in some ways I can see the beauty and benefit of flat design. In most ways I feel like Apple is playing follow the leader. Congrats iOS now seems like a follower to android or windows 8! Flat design is about simplifying the interface, but there is only so much you can do without appearing to copy others. I’ve thought from the beginning that android (and now windows phone) lacked the visual enhancements that make iOS the stunning user experience that it is. Read android seems childish to iOS’s sophistication. iOS7 takes iOS into the new era of Flat design to it’s detriment in my opinion. There are many nice and clean visual aspects of the new interface, but there are many things that were sacrificed in the process. Many of the app icons are childish at best. Vector artwork on a slight gradient is the first step of the design process, not the finished product. Over simplification makes them seem cheap and easy.

There are several feature I love from a usability standpoint, the new Control Center gives you access to a bunch of stuff that is extremely useful. Brightness, Alarm Clock, flashlight (builtin), Airplay sharing, etc. This is going to single handedly help me clear several apps from my home page. Love it.

The OS seems slow in general due to the over abundance of effects in moving from state to state or view to view. For example the new 200 ms fade to black when you click the lock button seems slow. Another example, folder to out of folder animation visually takes you from one action to the conclusion, however waiting for the actions to fade in and out and complete makes everything seem delayed. Before iOS was quick and functional, now it’s happy and neat and not in a hurry. Even if you light in the south, you still want to get info quickly on your phone. Each slow fade makes me feel like my phone is slower.

Don’t even get me started on paralax “playfullness” of the lock and home screen. That novelty is wasting too much battery power. Seriously the “wow that’s neat factor” dissolves in about 30 seconds.

 

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Comprehensive Mac Backup Plan

A good backup is incremental and protected “off-site” (or as near as possible).

Time Machine built into Mac OS X since Leopard (10.5) is an all around good backup of your system and data. It’s only shortfall is that it backsups to a connected or internal drive. If that drive should fail, theft, fire, or other natural catastrophe then you’re out of luck. My solution is to use two Time Machine backup drives. One attached, one safe and swap them on a monthly basis. I put the detached disk in a fire safe box just in case. This is a pretty good method, in the worst case you’d only loose at most 1 months of data.

On a monthly basis I have an iCal reminder set to remind me to swap. Simply eject your time machine drive and disconnect it. Then reattach your other drive. Open Time Machine prefs and point it to the newly attached backup drive. It will pickup where it left off.

I found this blog article with more in depth info and process on the matter. It’s good to see others are using the same strategy.

http://www.soundsupport.biz/2010/09/05/setting-up-time-machine-to-use-multiple-hard-drives/

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The void of iDisk: Use Dropbox!

30 Days left. Unprepared: I am not.

Today I got an email reaffirming what I knew was coming. iDisk is going away at the end of June (June 30, 2012 to be exact). I’ve been investigating alternatives for a while in order to figure out what will replace the trusted, secure, service that was iDisk. After many experiments: My recommendation is Dropbox. It is the easiest to use alternative that is as much like, if not way better, than iDisk. They give you 2GB free with many options paid and free to expand that. I’ve tried Box.net for a free 50GB, but their lack of desktop client and integration makes them as useless as iCloud for me in the iDisk replacement arena.

Dropbox is the best alternative to iDisk with several enhancements!

 

Dropbox

Storage & Cost

Despite the amazing desktop client I’ll get into in a minute. You get  2GB free on sign up (plus 250MB if you use a referral, here’s my referral > http://db.tt/lNA0KLKd ) As an alternative to iDisk, their 50GB paid account is $99/yr which is a 30GB increase from iDisk. As a free account holder you can get up to 16GB in 500MB increments for each referral. There are also team accounts for business in which for a varying fee you get from 1TB – 3TB to share with your team of users. Each user in a team has their own private Dropbox, the only thing shared is any folder specifically shared, see below. Pricing and specifics are available here: https://www.dropbox.com/pricing

Integration & Usability

The most outstanding feature of Dropbox is how easy it is to use. The desktop client makes it seamless when saving and accessing files on your desktop, laptop, iOS device, PC, or Android device, everything is both in the cloud as well as local so it’s fast and backed-up off-site. So your files are accessible wherever you need them and are always safely backed up on Dropbox’s servers. What’s even more impressive is the ability to share things with others. This is the aspect I’ve really grown to love about this service.

Mobile Integration

I can only speak to integration with iOS (iPhone/iPad) but it’s pretty awesome. Any file in your Dropbox is available on your device, most can be opened in the app itself, if not in supporting apps. iWork files can be thrown over to Numbers/Pages/Keynote, edited, then re-uploaded to Dropbox (direct integration is not yet available but you can email the saved file to yourself, then upload from email back to Dropbox).

Share and Collaborate

There are several levels of sharing the power of the options is still becoming clear to me.

Quick and Easy: Files & Folders, no Dropbox account needed

You can share a single file or folder with a simple right-click > ‘Get Link’, this copies a link that anyone you send it to can use to access that file or folder, without needing a Dropbox account. It’s viewable or downloadable in any modern browser right there. This makes exchanging files far easier than dealing with FTP non-sense. 

Collaboration between Dropbox accounts: Work together with the best version control available

You can ‘share’ a folder to other Dropbox users. They can see that folder in their Dropbox account and add files, delete files, modify files. All changes you will see reflected in your the same folder in your own Dropbox. Dropbox also saves each saved version, so through the website you can recover/revert to any version of a file quickly and easily, even if it was overwritten or deleted. [some restrictions apply on free accounts, but this is an amazing feature]

Also if you have multiple accounts, you can share folder from one to another. You can also change ownership of a folder, so if you make a folder in one account, share it to another, and loose the other account (say a paid work account) you can transfer ownership of the folders you need back to your personal account.

Don’t take my word for it: take the tour!

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Apple is Astonishing. Haters are Jealous.

source: cnet.com

source: cnet.com

Recently Apple, as with every new game changing product announcement, has come under fire from a number of media outlets. It seems there are as many people out there that want to hate them for their success, as those who will inherently love them for the new innovative products they create. I would like to state that I’m in the later group and am less critical and skeptical than I probably should be. I switched 3 years ago after a boss made me use a Mac, after 20 years of being a hardcore PC guy and hating the idea, I was sold in less than a month. I digress.

The point of this rant is that Steve Job’s incredible stage presence has garnered it’s own place in tech lexicon; his “reality distortion field”. While negative, that’s pretty badass. He’s just that charismatic and real that you just can’t help but watch in awe. This year he walked on stage to a standing ovation where someone yelled “Steve we love you!” to which he replied “Thanks! I think?”. In the history of me being a self proclaimed computer geek, I’d never once heard or wanted to follow a big company announcement on a live blog. Apple fans have been doing this for longer than the term blog has existed; there is absolutely a reason.

This year’s Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference 2010 (WWDC) was about iPhone 4, their new tagline “This changes everything. Again.” Brilliant! Many in the media are quick to point out that many of the features/enhancements in the next iteration of iPhone have been done before or are underwhelming, most like to state the year and which device had achieved such a feat. Sure, this one phone, this way past year had video conferencing and this other phone, this more recent year, had video recording capability.

No other phone in the history of phones, be they smart or other, has ever had this combined set of features. More importantly, no other phone in history has ever done this many things so damn well.

For example, Steve Jobs stated in his keynote that the new “retina display” is 4 times as dense in pixels (pixels per inch or ppi) as the current iPhone screen and beyond the human retina’s capacity to distinguish pixels (eye = 300ppi : iPhone 4 326ppi). Gizmodo put this criticism out quoting “president of DisplayMate, which is known for its analysis of screens”, he states that Jobs’ claims are far fetched and that the real resolution for the eye’s ability to distinguish pixels is based on the viewing distance of said screen. Specifically that the iPhone 4 would need to be viewed from 18″ from the retina for their claim to valid and went on to declare the normal viewing distance of a phone to be 12″. I’ve tested this (very scientifically and extensively in the last couple minutes) and my average viewing distance is around 17-19″.

source: apple.com

The new, FaceTime standard they’ve come up with for video calls is awesome for a number of reasons. It’s open and they’re doing their best to make it a new standard. Think back to the old days of cell phones, you could send a “text” to people on the same network as you only, until SMS emerged as the standard. Now you can text anyone on any device. Standards are good. The demo was impressive, far better than anything else i’ve seen before on cellphone or for that matter a video chat.

source: apple.com

Apple continues to climb on the awesomeness chart because they (Steve Jobs in particular) continues to challenge the company to do one thing: Put out compelling and innovative products. It’s that moto and focus that make the iPod, iPhone and now iPad such a success. By the way, their computers are pretty sweet too. They only do it if they can do it right. It’s expensive because they don’t half ass things at the expense of user experience period

But that’s fine, you want to complain about the iPhone’s lack of Flash then go buy a Droid. Have fun with a crappy user experience when you do get to use flash on websites. Steve Jobs says, “I told you so.”

Note: Gizmodo is one of my favorite blogs (since years before the recent leaked iPhone 4 prototype story). If you’re waiting in line June 24th in King of Prussia, PA I’ll see you there… Who am I kidding, there are only a hand full of people (my immediate family) that actually read this blog. None the less, I’ll be there every bit as excited as my first iPhone (3G) that I waited in line for.

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