Feb 8 2011

My Favorite Feature on iOS Devices: Email Share

My Favorite feature on iOS devices is the ability of sharing data, images, files, notes via email that’s built into many apps. I have a specific email account that I email myself tweets from Twitterrific, images from the Photos, links from Safari, sketches from SketchBook, etc. I treat this email account as my to do task manager, at any point in time I have a few emails waiting for me for to research, look into, read later, or do. Email is the best way for me to share data between all my electronic devices, between work desktop, personal laptop, iPhone, and iPad. The email share feature is built into many iOS applications so i don’t need anything else other than a dedicated email account. I have accounts with services such as box.net and Evernote but these services are not built in into every application I use, email share feature is.

Twitterrific Share Tweet via Email

Twitterrific Share Tweet via Email

Jan 24 2011

Missing Feature: The Mobile Device Self Destruct Button

I use Apple’s Mobile Me service. I got the first year subscription as a gift a little over a year ago and I recently renewed the service for another year. I don’t use the email or calendar service in Mobile Me much but one feature that is worth its price is the Find My iPhone locator feature. This feature lets you track the location of your iOS device, it lets you put an alert message on your iPhone or iPad, and it lets you ring the iPhone (even if it’s on vibrate or silence mode). I’ve used it once when I lost my phone under the couch and I couldn’t find it. It also lets you lock down or even wipe your missing iOS device of all personal and identifying data.

Apple's Mobile Me

Apple's Mobile Me

All mobile devices, from phones, tablets, and to laptops should have a built it self destruct feature that when activated would destroy all data on a compromised device. It is my belief that a phone is a very intimate and personal device, there is so much personal data in my phone from private contact lists, to confidential business emails, to other dubious activities that I may or may not be involved in.

In addition to having the ability to destroy incriminating data from a mobile device, such as an iPhone or iPad, I want the ability to program rules into the phone. Such as if the phone has not been unlocked in over 24 hours, or if the attempted to unlocked more than three times, if it activated with a given specific code, if it is located in a known police or government building, etc.

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone

Jan 4 2011

The Google Chrome Notebook

Google publicly announced Chrome OS in back in July 2007. They’ve been busy building a lightweight browser-powered and cloud computing-enabled Operating System. Recently in, December 2010 Google announced a test pilot program for a Chrome OS notebook dubbed Google CR-48. On the day of the announcement, some insiders already had the CR-48 in hand but Google also opened up the test pilot program to the general public via a signup form. The signup was targeted to developers, educators, and individuals alike. By way of a Christmas miracle, I was able to land a Google CR-48 and have been using it for days now.

As soon as the details of the Google Chrome Notebook were made available I was immediately in love with the Google CR-48. It’s basically an ultra light weight cloud computing client running a slimmed down web enabled Operating System. The CR-48 is as portable as an iPad but with a full keyboard. The CR-48 has a smart track pad that supports iPad-like touch gestures. The CR-48 is always on, just like an iPad or Mac Air, so there is no boot up time when all you want is just check your email or post a tweet. That said, the CR-48 is not a official product and that is evident by the simple black frame, it’s even without a trace of corporate logo or Intel inside sticker. Because the CR-48 is not a official product, I won’t say much about the industrial design and finish of the hardware other than to say that unlike the iPad, it has a USB port and a SD slot.

Google Chrome CR-48 Notebook

Google Chrome CR-48 Notebook

As soon as you open the CR-48 it turned on magically and prompted me to sign in. Unlike the iPhone or iPad, the CR-48 doesn’t require you to connect to a computer before you can use it. After some setup steps, you can sign in and take it for a run. As soon as you log into the device, you will see a Chrome browser taking up the whole screen with a single tab. It does take some time to realize that the CR-48 is a laptop with just one application, a browser. That is all it is, a browser. There is nothing to see, move along, it’s only a browser. Your desktop is your default page as shown in a Chrome browser. It merits repeating, the Chrome CR-48 only has one installed application, a Chrome browser.

As soon as you log into the CR-48 you find a browser in full window mode and if configured correctly with your home’s WiFi, you can start surfing the net. I’ve been using the CR-48 for reading blogs, checking email, liking status updates on Facebook, and accessing the web applications I use on a daily basis. Google does have a Chrome specific Web Store where you can install free and paid applications but I’ve not found anything of interest.

Aside from the technical specification of the Google Chrome CR-48 notebook, what is more interesting for me is that this is the first cloud computing client, a sort of Web 2.0 Thin Client. I am a avid user of Google Docs, GMail, WordPress, and other online services that have a large amount of my data in their respective ‘cloud.’

Realizing that this is a cloud client, privacy issues and data mining concerns immediately become apparent. It is already known that Google saves user searches and that with this and other identifying data they modify search results. It is already known that Google Adsense ads are targeted to the sites you visit. Can you imagine how valuable your browser history and usage statistics is to a company like Google? Google has a large amount of identifying information with from all angles of your browsing experience, from Google Search, Google Adsense, Google Analytics, and now Chrome and it’s Chrome notebook. I can see a future where Google would be giving away Chrome and Android-based devises for free because they can collect so much valuable information and up sell users with highly targeted ads.

The CR-48 is a great little notebook but a machine like that would never replace my laptop. At this time and with it’s current specifications, it can’t handle the hundreds of pictures I am known to take over a weekend, it can’t handle the gigabytes of video I take on a trip, and as great as Google Docs is it’s still not Microsoft Office. I see the CR-48 as a great web surfing machine while TV surfing.

Dec 30 2010

Apple Ruined My Neighbors Christmas

I just caught up for the first time since Christmas with my next door neighbor. They know I “work with computers” so they stopped by to see if I could help them with a small technical issue. One of their kids scored an Apple iPad from Santa but they haven’t been able to play with it. Apple requires you to connect your new iOS device, iPhone and iPad, with a computer and sync with your iTunes account before you can use it. You can’t even write a new text memo, watch videos on YouTube, surf online, send an email, much less purchase, download, and play games and music from the iTunes store before you connect your new iOS device with a computer. For five days now, their new iPad has been the best gift and the worst gift they received this Christmas.

I prefer the iPhone over any of the available Android phones, but the one thing I love about the Google Nexus One is that you don’t even need to plug to play. Just turn it on and you are on your way. Even updates are done Over The Air (OTA) so you don’t ever have to connect your Nexus One to a computer. The whole premise of Cloud Computing is that you don’t have to be shackled to a desktop.

I just had to walk through what my neighbor needed to do to set up their new iPad and you should have seen the confusion and disappointment in the parent’s and kid’s faces, respectively. In a nutshell, they have to download and install iTunes, create an iTunes account, connect the iPad with their computer, and then they can play a song or surf the web.

I can’t believe that Apple can revolutionize the user interface of the iPhone to have one button and yet have a complicated user experience of setting up their new iOS device.

Nov 22 2010

The Ultimate Geek Gift Guide 2010

This geek gift guide is not so much for geeks and techies but for those that have geeks and techies in their life and need a little help in finding the right geek gift this holiday season. If you want to wow the geek in your life with the latest technology gadget you need to look no further.

The hottest piece of technology this year has been the Apple iPad. The iPad is great for geeks no matter their passion, music, photography, gaming, social media, etc. A geek that travels a lot would enjoy the 3G iPad so that they can always be connected no mater where they are. Whether you give the geek in your life an iPad or if they already have one, there are a ton of great accessories such as the iPad cases. I have been happy with the standard Apple iPad Case but for something more eye catching then consider the DODOcase. I also enjoy this leather portfolio iPad slipcase.

Targus Hughes Leather Portfolio Slipcase

Targus Hughes Leather Portfolio Slipcase

To get the most out of an iPad you need apps, for stocking stuffers you can consider getting a few iTunes gift cards which can be used to purchase apps, music, books, and movies from the iTunes store. I’ve already written regarding my favorite iPad apps.

Not every geek is into Apple products. Fortunately, there are other viable touch-based tablets such as the Google Android powered Archos 9 PC Tablet or the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

For the avid reader in your life, nothing beats the Amazon Kindle. There are other electronic book readers but the Kindle is the most wished-for and most gifted ebook reader. The latest generation of the Kindle is smaller than previous versions and Amazon provides just about every top book in the Kindle format. What I love best about the Amazon Kindle is that your digital library is available to you in just about every device, iPhone, iPad, desktop, Android mobile device, and more.

This holiday season the most sought after family oriented game will not be on the Wii, it will be on the XBox 360. The XBox 360 has a set of games that do no require a controller to play, instead you play them by controlling the game play with your body. The Kinect Sensor has a series of camera’s that capture your body movements and uses that information to control the character in the game. The best game on for the Kinect Sensor has to be Dance Central. Dance Central doesn’t require any controller or pad for you to get down with your dance moves, you just dance in front of you television set.. The other games to look forward to is DJ Hero 2 and Rock Band 3.

Xbox 360 250 GB Kinect Bundle

Xbox 360 250 GB Kinect Bundle

As everyone already knows, the standard geek uniform is jeans and a t-shirt. Any self respecting geek needs to have some ThinkGeek shirts in his wardrobe. ThinkGeek gear is like Armani Exchange for geeks, binary fashionable and geek chic.

If you need more suggestions, take a look at previous years geek gift guides: The Ultimate Geek Gift Guide 2009, 2008

Nov 27 2008

The Ultimate Geek Gift Guide 2008

This geek gift guide is not so much for geeks and techies but for those that have geeks and techies in their life and need a little help in finding the right techie gift. So if you don’t know what is the hottest gift item or you want to redeem yourself from the Cosby sweater you gave last year, this is the gift guide for you.

The hottest tech gift must be the Apple iPhone. The iPhone is one of those gifts that will be used every single day, and not just to make calls. In fact, the feature I use most often is email, browsing online, and Google Maps. I also use the iPhone to play freely available casual games available on the App Store. And of course you can play your iTunes music on the iPhone just as you would on your iPod.

Netbooks are a trendy new segment in the ultra portable laptop market. Netbooks usually refer to sub $500 laptops perfect for email and internet browsing. The ASUS Eee PC is perhaps the most popular brand in this market but there are available models like the HP Mini 1140NR and Acer Aspire One.

The Flip Mino is quickly gaining a big market share of the camcorder business from established brands such as Sony, Panasonic, Canon, etc. The Flip is the iPod of video cameras. It is small, portable, and simple to use. When recording, you can zoom in out and stop. When playing back you can increase/decrease the volume and pause.

The Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) has the best graphic intense games available in the hand held gaming market. The PSP is also a great platform for watching movies on the go. Whenever I travel on long trips I make sure to pack a couple of UMD movies. There are a ton of movies and shows available on the PSP. In terms of games you can’t go wrong with titles such as God of War: Chains of Olympus, Medal of Honor: Heroes, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and Sega Genesis Collection. Notice that most of these titles are sequels to popular games systems like the PlayStation, XBox, and Wii.

The Nintendo DS portable gaming system will also be a popular with geeks this season. Unlike the PSP, the DS has more innovative games that take full advantage of its touch dual screens. On the DS, the geeks in the family will enjoy games like Mario Party DS, KORG DS-10 Synthesizer, Brain Age, and TouchMaster.

The Nintendo Wii is perhaps the most fun and social gaming platform currently available. The game play with the Wii Remote can be very animated. The Wii is definitely a gaming console for the whole family, and there are plenty of games that the family can play together. Some personal favorite games that I am enjoyed this year have been Carnival Games, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

One item that a geek never has enough of is disk space. Technologist can easily fill a 100 GB hard drive with bittorrents, software, games, movies, pictures, data, etc. in no time. The geek in your life will appreciate a portable hard drive like the Western Digital My Passport which are available with 360 or 500 GB. The My Passport is the slimmest, slickest, and sexiest of the portable drives I have seen. They are small enough to carry with you in your laptop bag. As a stocking stuffer, you might be interested in getting a 16 GB USB drive.

Earlier this year Oprah said that the Amazon Kindle was her favorite new gadget. The kindle an electronic book reader like the Sony eReader except that the Kindle’s wireless connectivity allow you to shop and download books on the fly as you go. Hundreds of blogs are also available through the Kindle such as Slashdot and The Onion.

As everyone already knows, the standard geek uniform is jeans and a t-shirt. Any self respecting geek needs to have some ThinkGeek shirts in his wardrobe. ThinkGeek gear is like Armani Exchange for geeks, binary fashionable and geek chic.

Be sure to take a look a the Juixe Store. We have selected the best software development books that need to be in every software developer’s bookshelf such as the classics like Code Complete, The Mythical Man-month, and The Pragmatic Programmer.

If you still need a little bit more help in finding the right tech gift for the geek in your life, take a look at the following geek gift guides from other sources such as CNET, Engadget, and Ars Technica.

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