Thursday, October 28, 2010

Things I like to do on the Marauder's Map (our iPad)

The iPad is better for some things than any other gadget we have.  And that is saying something.

My "todo" app, which I have mentioned previously, is *great*.  I would much rather manage my tasks on that than on my iPhone or my laptop.

Evernote is similarly excellent.  Both of these examples do a good job of providing all the speed and efficiency of an electronic system with a UI (user interface) that has a nice correlation to the analog world.

Podcasts are much more appealing to me on the iPad than on other devices.  The great thing is that the screen is big enough so that you can really read about podcasts that you might like, but then it is portable enough to carry with you to listen in the car or while doing dishes.  I have never really been willing to read up on podcasts, select which episodes I want, load them onto my ipod or phone, then remember to listen to them later.  By the time I get back to them, I'm in the mood to listen to something else.  Radiolab from WNYC is just awesome.

My favorite newspaper on the iPad?  NPR.  Yes, I know.  Not a newspaper.  Well, it is now.  Better, even, than the NYT app, although that is improving.

The NPR app is really cool.  You can read through the short stories that interest you, then put the longer ones in an audio playlist which you can play back like a podcast.  You just have to try it, if you are like me.  By which I mean you are a serious NPR junky who can't listen normally right now because the current political situation makes you feel ill.

Surfing the web on it is great.  It is as if one is holding the disembodied web.  Similarly, streaming netflix is like holding a moving in one's hand.  Yes, Mr. Jobs, this time I agree with many of those extreme adjectives you like to throw around.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Let's have a big, warm, welcome for the "Maurader's Map"

That is what our iPad is called when you plug it into the mac mini that supports all our iOS devices.  Which number three iphones (one functioning as Julian's ipod), one ipod touch, and now, an iPad.

So I will be offering my thoughts on all these devices, which isn't too hard as they share an operating system.

First, though, I would like to present the suggestions of my friend Andrew (Campbell), a very skilled programer and developer (and designer, and photographer...) in his own right.  He sent me the following suggestions when I wrote to him about our new acquisition:

My favorite iPad apps

GoodReader (pdf viewer)
Instapaper (which you have and is even more awesome on the iPad)

I'd like to recommend a text editor too but there is no Vim on the iPad =/
There have been a ton of editors that sync through dropbox recently. If you end up using one I'd be happy to get your recommendation

That link is from a collection of best of category reviews from AppAdvice that are all pretty well done

I think I'd like an outliner, and I'm kind of waiting for OmniOutliner. On the otherhand I'm really enjoying notetaking in the red moleskin notebooks you showed me.

Fun stuff
Harbor Master HD (line drawing that works well with multiple people)
Beatwave (music sequencer toy)
Marble Mixer (multiplayer marbles)
ArtStudio (cheapest of the big paint apps and just as good)
AirVideo (stream video from your mac. no need to copy it to the iPad or convert divx to mp4)
Math Bingo (good add/sub/multiply practice game that rewards with little bugs to collect)
LIne Art (visual toy. no instructions.  the effects change depending on the number of fingers you are using)
Diner Dash GG (order processing game that works great with two people)
Virtuoso - (best free piano app I've found. nicest part is that you can set it to show two keyboards facing opposite sides so two people can play at once)

iphone stuff
Pocket Frogs (frog collecting, the kids love it)
Sushi Cat (pachinko with a fat cat. very funny. I got it free, just the right price)
Helsing's Fire (my favorite puzzle game - good for grownups, hard for kids)

I've been working my way through these suggestions, and find that Andrew's assessments and suggestions are spot-on.  I hope you find them to be, too. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Link about the mix up as to who the customer is

John Gruber posts a link to a ZD net story in which a telco claims to be Apple's biggest customer in Australia. What about the person left holding the phone?   Reminds me of healthcare, when the employers act like the customers of the insurance companies, instead of the insured patient.  Things aren't going to get better until such confusion is cleared up, in either case.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why to use OS X

This is a great article, although old by web standards.  It still applies.  It still describes why OS X is a great platform.

My additional comments?  First, even OS X isn't totally bombproof.  I have had network problems on OS X that have driven me bonkers, for instance.  It is a matter of degree -- I have had many more of those on Windows than on OS X over the years.

Second, I would offer the real reason I use OS X.  The best "power users" (dumb term, but you know what I mean) that I can turn to for help use it.   My friends and relations (you know who you are) that know the most about computers are OS X and linux users.  And I like OS X better than linux (so far).

Why do they use it?  There are two choices in computing.  One is that the software designers anticipate what you want, and build it into the software.  Apple does this much more accurately than Microsoft (ever had Word do things it thought you wanted? It was wrong, wasn't it?).  The other choice is that you go "under the hood" and write programs or scripts that tell it exactly what you want.  Because it is built on Unix, OS X also does this better than Windows, again according to the folks I ask about such things. I am not good at that part, yet.

If you really can't live without Windows, an Apple computer can do that, too.  Quite well, if one is to believe the benchmarks.

What has changed in the years since Marco Arment wrote the above post?  iOS, running on the iPad, iPhone, and other gadgets.  I would say that in terms of "just working", it is even better than OS X.  Particularly because the other barrier -- learning to use it -- is so low.  If you just want your computer to work, to do the every day stuff (email, watching movies, surfing the web, playing games, making music, editing photos), go take a hard look at an iPad.  I think it passes the "just works" test better than android, which isn't even out on a tablet yet, and on phones isn't as stable and reliable.

Yes, windows and android will do what you want, and you can be happy using them.  But they don't do as well at the "just works" test.