My thoughts on the iPad

Because you know there just aren’t enough opinions out there on this one…

  • First gut feeling was 4:3, are you kidding?
  • Even after thinking about it I’d prefer a 16:9 ratio even if the main intent is for it to be used in portrait
  • Huuge bezel, but then I guess you need to hook a thumb around when holding one handed and can’t have it interfere with the multitouch display
  • With an iPhone and Macbook Pro I don’t see the use for me. I’m not even interested in an eBook reader.
  • My wife likes it, but there is one main drawback. She uses her Macbook for lots of things the iPad would excel at; sadly though, watching DVDs isn’t one of them. Despite my efforts the day of truly media-less movie and TV entertainment isn’t here yet. Her: “I’ve just bought Desperate Housewives season 5 for €20 in HMV. Can I watch it on my night shift tonight?” Me: “Sorry love, I’ve got to rip it all onto a computer first, that will take a day, then you’ve got to sync it all and you’ll have to decide what to take off ‘cos there isn’t enough room on your iPad.” And before you ask, there is no iTunes TV/Movie store in Ireland yet.
  • I could see it being useful as an opportunistic coffee table gadget for a bit of browsing and email…
  • …but without user switching so we can have our own bookmarks, email etc then it seems flawed for the general multi-user purpose.
  • I really couldn’t care less about Flash. The sooner it dies the better.
  • Everybody spot the “iBooks only available in the US” footnote?
  • Would it have been so hard to fit an SD card reader in there somewhere?

Like I did with the iPhone, I’ll happily wait until the second rev, and for an actual need to present itself. Now Mr. Jobs, if you’d like to hurry up with the Quad Core, Blu-Ray toting Macbook Pros then we can talk.

Putting my iMac up on eBay

If you are maybe looking for a good value, well specced and excellent condition second hand desktop Mac, and you are in Ireland or the UK, then my 2.33Ghz, 3GB, 500GB HD 24″ iMac is up for auction on eBay

The plan is to replace it with a personal Macbook Pro as and when the next update for them comes along (hoping for Quad Core and maybe Bluray to come along) In the meantime all of my media/RAW images etc are stuck onto external drives and my work Macbook Pro will suffice for running my iTunes library and the odd bit of photo editing.

Given it is likely that the work one won’t get upgraded for at least two years (it is 18 months old) I’ll probably end up handing it back for somebody else to have when I get my own!

Nothing in his pockets but iPhones and lint

I am probably due a more detailed entry around living with my iPhone, but for now the thing that bugs me most is very simple.

My phone lives in my trouser pocket, along with tissues and all sorts of other stuff. The dock connector of the iPhone is a complete magnet for this stuff and many times I’ve had to fish out bits of lint from it with an un-bent paper clip (or is that a SIM removal tool? 😉 )

iPhone – the first month

Today, 11th August marks the first full month with my new iPhone. Thoughts so far:

  • The back is proving to be very resilient to scratches, more so than my metal backed iPod Touch proved to be
  • Battery life is reasonable for me now that the novelty factor has worn off. I mostly get away with charging every other night
  • Having data access everywhere is fantastic. I love being able to check Twitter whilst standing in a queue for lunch 🙂
  • Having data access everywhere is a curse. I’ve been told off by my wife a number of times for checking email etc. 🙁
  • I’ve only used 28MB of data in a whole month.
  • GPS and Google Maps whilst not true sat-nav can be very, very useful. It navigated me around a number of flooded roads on Saturday.
  • Not having data when roaming is really annoying (unless you want to pay the huge roaming fee)
  • The length of time that backup takes when syncing is annoying
  • Twitteriffic, Facebook and Texas Hold ‘Em are my top three apps.
  • It does seem kind of slow to draw/refresh/respond to touch when doing some tasks such as opening contacts or the settings page.
  • All in all, I love it.

iPhone 3G first thoughts

  • It wasn’t hard to get one if you were prepared. I pre-ordered early the day the pre orders started and was ok. There was a bloke in front of my in the O2 Blanchardstown store who pre-ordered a 16GB and was only offered an 8GB, despite his protestations about being ‘the first person’ to pre-order.
  • O2 ported over my pre-pay number right there and then. I’m used to this taking days in the UK.
  • Sign up and activation was painless. I think mainly because I had it all done by 10am Dublin time and Ireland is a small country anyway.
  • The device is noticeable heavier and fatter than my 16GB iPod touch, which is not a criticism, just a difference to be expected and gotten used to.
  • The Home button seems to require more of a firm press than the Touch.
  • The multi-touch screen seems like it has been slowed down a bit from the Touch. Presses need to be a bit firmer and scrolling seems slower.
  • Love the volume and silent buttons. LOVE the speaker and not having to find a pair of headphones just to watch a quick video or listen to a song.
  • It makes and receives phone calls.
  • No visual voicemail – now I have one I honestly don’t care. I maybe get 1 voicemail a month and never have to trawl through any others to get to it. I can understand the value for heavy users, but that ain’t me.
  • It sends and receives text messages. I honestly cannot remember the last time I sent or got an MMS – not bothered about that.
  • Wifi with enterprise access at at last. However I haven’t been able to get it to work at work, due to the fact that there is a rogue unprotected adhoc access point somewhere with the SSID I need to use and that’s all the phone will see.
  • I need to get over the mental hurdle of being stingy with using cellular data. So far I’ve used 244K of download. I still get a slight panic when I tap on Weather or Stocks and it just goes off and gets data. So I only (only?) have 1GB per month, but I need to just go with the flow and treat data access as a normality.
  • App Store – immediate downloads: Twitteriffic, the light saber thing, Facebook and Exposure.
  • App Store – there’s lots missing from the Irish store. No games at all, and certain other apps are not there. I WANT SUPER MONKEYBALL!!!
  • The Remote app is teh awsomeness. It may just make me get an Apple TV just to show it off!
  • There’s lots of crud and no way to get through it other than scrolling. More evident on the iPhone interface than iTunes. Let me ignore the app developers producing ebooks or bible stuff please!
  • I’ve not paid a penny for an app yet. I want to hear the wisdom of those who have. I want a good weight of reviews.
  • GPS – well I went outside and it knew where I was, so it works. So does cellular triangulation.
  • Maps – tried to search for ‘Hotel’ when located at home. It gave me three results. IN THE WHOLE OF DUBLIN! I know this isn’t a phone issue, it is a data issue. Come on Irish companies, start advertising yourselves – your market just got a whole lot more mobile.

What to do with the iPod Touch?

So, as stated in the update to the previous entry, I’m now planning on getting an iPhone 2 as and when July 1tth comes around and I can get a fulfilled order. The begging question then is what to do with the 16GB iPod Touch I already have. My initial thoughts are:

  • Keep the Touch as the main sync’d source of my music and video, thus keeping it paired with the iMac at home
  • Set up the iPhone with my work MBP to sync stuff like podcasts, videocasts, photos and applications from app store

Basically use 32GB of storage, across two devices, for different purposes. With twice the battery life.

The iPhone will live with me, and I might sync a small amount of music to it as well. The touch will come out on trips. When I’m on a train/flight etc and want extended amounts of video/music. Also when I’m sat working at my desk.

Another potential would be to use one for music and one for video. I’m ripping more and more video from DVD to an iPod Touch/iPhone friendly format using Handbrake, but at the moment I have to juggle the 16GB of space on the Touch between that and the music library which is 32Gb on it’s own.

A little album artwork game

When working at home I invariably end up sitting at my desk working on the Thinkpad whilst my iMac plays music to me or tunes me into BBC Radio 5 (especially PMQs on a Wednesday)

I’ve recently set the iMac to display the iTunes artwork screensaver, and have found myself entranced by it. For those that haven’t seen it, the screensaver shows a mosaic of album covers (40 at a time on my 24″ iMac) and flips one over every couple of seconds to reveal another. My main fixation has been a desire to see a screen full of artwork from what I consider to be good music. Like any music collection, there are a few black sheep in amongst the 830 albums and singles that live in my library. That Simply Red CD seemed like a good idea at the time…

One Hit Wonders

It is quite distracting to sit there and stare at the Gabriel album, willing the screensaver to choose that one to flip over next. The bad ones seem to stay the longest, and Apple plays with your mind by always seeming to make sure there is a bad egg on the screen at all times. It’s not even like I rate my music, how does it know??

A little while ago I reached breaking point and had to just put everything else on hold and wait for that perfect moment:

Good taste

(Large version on flickr)

I can’t say I’m completely happy with it. Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance are dodgy to say the least, whilst The Darkness and Catatonia are both albums I’d probably not want to be seen listening to nowadays.

However, the more interesting game is to try and spot serendipitous arrangements of albums. This is highlighted nicely in the above screenshot by this example:

The Crescent and Ed Harcourt

If defunct mid-ninetines Bristolians The Crescent and erstwhile singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt ever got together to release a gatefold double vinyl album this must surely be the artwork!

Incidentally, you may wonder how you capture a screenshot of a screen saver? Well on OS X it turns out that if you press Cmd-Shift before starting the screen saver by pressing “Test” in the preferences panel, you can then take as many shots of the screen saver in action by keeping Cmd-Shift held down and pressing 3 for each shot. Nice. And yes, it did mean that I kept my fingers down on those buttons for about 20 minutes in the production of this blog post…

The iPhone comes to Ireland with a whimper

O2 Ireland are bringing the iPhone here on 14th March.

Some points:

  • No unlimited data plan. 1GB per month limit. 2c per MB after that. That works out at just over €20 for an extra GB/month.
  • No visual voicemail
  • €399 for the 8GB, €499 for the 16GB
  • €45 per month for the cheapest tarrif giving 175 minutes and 100 texts per month. 18 month agreement.

So, am I going to get one? No. Why?

  • I already have a 16GB iPod touch that does just about everything I need bar making calls
  • My Nokia N80 suits me fine.
  • I’ll wait for the 3G iPhone to come along thanks.
  • The handset prices are too high, coming in at more than £50 more expensive than you’d pay on O2 UK for a 16GB model.
  • I’m a Speakeasy (PAYG) customer. Those contract rates look stupid compared to what you get on O2 in the UK. £35 for 600 minutes, 500 texts, unlimited data and visual voicemail. I’m not about to sign up for 18 months of what o2.ie are offering.
  • No indication of any wifi hotspot deal such as O2 UK have with The Cloud.

All in all the term rip-off springs to mind.