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March 2012

Written By: Gary on March 31, 2012 One Comment

It’s World Backup Day! It’s not that you should only backup once a year, it’s an awareness day. So I guess it should be called “Backup Awareness Day”. But seriously, you should backup your important documents and photos all the time. Why? Because you’ll be very sad / upset / angry when you lose those files. Please notice, I said “when”, not “if”. Moving your photos to a different device (and deleting off the computer) is not a backup, it’s the only copy. Multiple copies is alwaysrecommended!!!

worldbackupday.png

If it’s an important document, save multiple copies. If it’s your resume (CV), save it as “Resume March 2012” so that you’ve got previous versions of the file if something happens. If you’ve made massive changes to that document, just e-mail a copy to yourself; the copy in your mail account is an off site backup. When I do new technology plans (100 page documents) I save new versions every few hours, I don’t want to think I moved those 10 pages from section 7 to section 5 and realize later I never pasted them, I can go back and get an earlier version of those pages later.

If it’s photos, don’t wait until your camera is full, that’s the only copy of those photos, if you lose the camera, it gets stolen, or something else weird happens, you lose all those photos!!! Even uploading them to a site like Walgreens, Costco, Kodak or wherever you might send your photos is a backup (it’ll cost to get your photos out, but at least they aren’t lost); these places don’t guarantee that they’ll keep your photos but they do want you to share them and print more copie$ of them, just be sure you’re uploading the largest possible size photos. Facebook is not good for this, they do not keep high quality versions of the photos, they will not be good for printing later.

Every so often back your documents and photos up to multiple DVD (standard DVD’s hold more than 4 GB) and make multiple copies; once you’ve got them sorted making five copies isn’t much harder than making one copy. Keep a copy at your Mom’s house or at your kids house or in your safe deposit box. You don’t want all the copies at the same place in case there is a fire and they all burn down. Then you can delete these photos from the cloud and you’ve got more space for more photos.

The last few versions of the Macintosh OS will back up to an external drive via Time Capsule and you can go back in time and look at what version was on the computer at a particular time (it’s very cool and easy).

There are off site services you can use (I use Dropbox).

Syncing your photo to your computer generally backs up the phone numbers, calendar, photos and more. The latest version of the iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) will back up automatically daily to the iCloud if you wish; the problem with this is it’s an all or nothing option when you want to restore.

All photos that you take with your iPhone or iPad get automatically backed up to the iCloud. These then show up on your computer in the iPhoto Photo Stream. If you import from a camera to iPhoto, it automatically puts those photos in the Photo Stream and you can see them on all the devices you’ve synced with the iCloud (including your AppleTV). It only keeps the last 1,000 photos and doesn’t keep any videos, but it’s a partial backup. So this is an automatic download that I get have in the cloud too.

Backing up is especially important if your main computer is a portable device. You can earlier drop or have stolen your laptop or tablet, you need those files backed up!

Written By: Gary on March 31, 2012 No Comment

One of the easiest services I use for backing up is Dropbox. They give me a folder to store documents in and it automatically pushes a copy of those documents into the cloud (be sure to use a great password) and syncs them with my other computer; so I’ve automatically got 3 copies of the file now. I can view these files from anywhere on the internet with a web browser or with my iPhone, iPad or an Android device. If I store photos from my iPhone to Dropbox it’s now in the cloud and on my two syncing computers (and on my iPhone).

DropBox will give you 2 GB (more than 3 CDs of storage) for free. dbox-logo.pngDropbox syncs that storage with your computers plus you can view with your Android and iOS devices. Are you always sharing certain documents with a co-worker or friend? You can have a shared synchronized folder between your computers. You can even share specific photo albums via the web with friends. If you’ve got your computer synced you don’t even need to be on the internet, those files are there on the computer, if you change, add or delete any files the next time you connect it will sync everything automatically for you.

And if you get more friends to sign up (and install it) they’ll give you more free space (so please use my link for extra space). It runs on Macintosh and on Windows, the programs and apps are free! Not only do I get 500MB for free if you sign up if you follow my link, so do you (you get 500MB extra for following my link verses no bonus on your own!).

They make it incredibly easy to share photos with others, even just via their web site. You got a folder, you share the link and you’ve got a photo album shared. Super super easy.

3 GB of bonus space: After you sign up, they will then let you import directly from your camera and give you an extra 3 GB (that’s 5 GB total, about 8 CDs of back up!). This camera imports directly from you camera and from chips, it’ll also import automagically from your iPhone or other iOS device when you plug it into the computer. Even if you don’t want this feature, import in 3 GB of photos and video and then delete them, you’ll still have the space (as far as I can tell all this free space is for life). As far as I can tell, after getting the 3 GB free you can delete the photos, turn off the upload and keep the 3 GB of space…

Tip: To get more use out of all that storage, once you get a few GB of photos into the cloud, back them up to a DVD (standard DVD’s hold more than 4 GB) and make multiple copies. Keep a copy at your Mom’s house or at your kids house or in your safe deposit box. You don’t want all the copies at the same place in case there is a fire and they all burn down. Then you can delete these photos from the cloud and you’ve got more space for more photos.

Advanced features: You have options to not sync certain folders with dropbox, so if you don’t have the 5 GB of extra space on your laptop you don’t need to keep every folder synced with your netbook or MacBook Air. You could just sync your documents folder and recent photos and not worry about everything else.

Don’t like: The one thing I don’t like about the Dropbox photo import is they rename your photos with the date and time. I actually like the date and time part but I wish they just added that to the original file name, it’s hard to tell where the duplicates are with completely different filenames. But I can decide if that is important later, it’s the 3 GB of extra storage that I want for free, I can use it for anything I want later…

Another tip: Whenever I buy a new product, I try to go on-line and get the digital version of the manual for it, then I put all these documents in a folder in the cloud somewhere. Then no matter where I go, I have the manual for that computer, digital camera, car stereo, GPS unit or anything that I might be traveling with. On the other hand, I also have the manual for my stereo and stove with me too, I don’t really need those all the time, but it’s nice to have those manuals easily accessible when I need them.

Written By: Gary on March 20, 2012 2 Comments

For an amazing device it’s got a few little things that make me cRaZy…

FYI, this is my iPad 3, but I think all of these things are iOS 5.1 iPad related, not “the new iPad 3” related:

  • Why does the Photo App not let me send photos to the Message App? I can e-mail and tweet them. Plus I can pick photos from within the Message App. It’s a very big inconsistency between the iPhone and iPad platforms.
  • The number of Apps (or folders) on an individual screen on the iPad is 20, it’s laid out 4×5, until you turn it sideways then it’s 5×4 and most of the Apps are not in the same place any more! I know where it is but then it’s in a different location, I can’t find anything! Let’s make it 5×5 so everything can stay the same! Any there is definitely room, you can put up to six (6) icons in the dock at the bottom!Apple iPad 2 MC979LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi, White) 2nd Generation Apple Computer
  • Why isn’t there a Weather App? It’s not that the Weather App was amazing, it bothers me in that it means that there isn’t a weather widget in the notification pull-down; I never realized how much I used that!
  • Why didn’t they build Siri into this? It just seemed like a no-brainer to have put in it. I knew this feature wasn’t in there but still disappointed.
  • No Clock App. Which means no alarms or timers. The bonus of using this app was that the sounds even go off if the iPhone was muted. I used this all the time. And I used Siri for it all the time (“Siri, set a timer for 3 minutes”). I had no idea that wasn’t in there.

So since these all appear to be software related, I expect they’ll fix them all for me by the next iOS release, right?

These are a few smaller complaints that I’ll mention (since I’m here anyways): My iPad (covers iPad, iPad 2 and iPad 3rd gen running iOS 5.1) (4th Edition) Gary Rosenzweig

  • No vibrate option for alerts of any type. This is minor but it was nice even if I had it muted, it’d slightly vibrate on the table. I knew this wasn’t in there, but I miss it.
  • No camera option on the lock screen. I’ve got a icon for a digital picture frame, but not for the camera?!?
  • Minor differences to the iPhone settings: iPad Sounds is hidden in General while on the iPhone Brightness is hidden in General. It just doesn’t make any sense (to me).
  • The Camera App doesn’t do High Dynamic Range (HDR). Assuming that’s only software, but if it’s hardware (and I thought it was the same camera, but different lens, as the iPhone 4).

P.S. Twenty items on the screen also means twenty items in a folder (only 12 on the iPhone), I love this part, but even the folders jump from 4×5 to 5×4 when you turn the iPad sideways.

Written By: Gary on March 15, 2012 No Comment

I don’t like sitting at the computer all the time, so why do I do it? Because that’s where all the information is at! With KindleFeeder.com I get my information sent wirelessly to my Kindle (I have the Kindle Keyboard 3G) automatically twice a day and I can read it anywhere! It’s in a magazine format that makes it really easy to navigate around. It looks pretty good on the iPhone and iPad Kindle readers too, not exactly the same format but still very easy to navigate.

So I’ve got 38 FULL feeds that I removed from my Google Reader: kindlefeeder.gifNYT, BBC, Economist categories I like (science, tech, most e-mailed), a few other (long post) blogs, some finance (Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar), and a few learning Spanish sites (that I’ve never read before). Then I added a dozen feeds that were popular at KindleFeeder. I took those feeds were on my Google Reader and I put them in a KindleFeeder category, so I’ll know that I don’t really need to look in there for those articles (unless looking for something particular) and eventually I deleted them. These are my longest, most interesting blog sites (that aren’t very colorful) that I can read on the go, very comfortably, even in the sun.

Bottom line: I think KindleFeeder.com is well worth the $20 a year! Convenience and time is everything. So try it out!

You can generate some sample issues (10 feeds with up to 512 MB of images) without paying anything to try it out (but you need to try it for a few days in a row, it’s a little overwhelming the first time you run it on a few sites since you get everything).

Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6Warning! The downside is that it doesn’t work easily on the newer (late 2011) B&W Kindles unless you transfer the files via USB (super inconvenient, IMHO). You can read the articles fine, but it’s not in the easy to use navigation.

Geeky stuff you really don’t need to know: I was worried about the number of images (4 MB max per delivery), but the first time you add a feed it adds all the past articles, once you’re past that (issue) I think it’ll be okay; some feeds only update a few times a week, but they’ve still got a history. Two feeds each had a history of 20 items were both each over 3.5 megabytes, so they looked bad the first time, with twice daily deliveries it’s rare I miss an image; I put the few sites that I don’t care about images last, so if any turn up missing, it’s those.

It has a clips feature that will let me easily mark something on the web (via the Kindle) to save it and thenI can delete that “issue” from my Kindle, so that’s good (but I don’t know if I can “un-clip” them later). From the Kindle (if you’re a paying subscriber) you can even request the delivery of another issue at any time (and if you have a 3G model, you can pull it down free over the 3G network).

Written By: Gary on March 14, 2012 No Comment

So this amplifier for the iPhone by Bone is very cool. It’s requires no power and it’s made of silicone (rubber?) and your iPhone just sits in it and it’s significantly louder. It surprised me a lot when I got mine.

bone-amp.pngDid I tell you it’s less than $4 shipped?!? It says that the “horn” increases the sound up to 13dB.

The amplifier is available in Black, Red, White and Blue too. The red one says it’s good for the iPhone 3, 3G, 4, and 4S (although the package for mine only mentions the iPhone 4). I assume it would work on an iPod Touch if the speakers are also at the bottom (a reviewer says this works on the recent touches also). It’s got room to plug in the power cable at the bottom too.

Written By: Gary on March 14, 2012 No Comment

It’s a Kindle. That’s the number one point, Amazon seems to have the eReader market and I believe they’ll have it long term. And in case I’m wrong, I’ve got the Nook eReader App on it too (with several other eBook readers, Kobo, etc.). I think the price of this is subsidized on the fact that they hope to sell you movies, music and books.

Kindle Fire, Full Color 7That said: This Apple FanBoy says the Kindle Fire is an AWESOME product. It’s a killer product for $200.

The number one thing for you to understand: The Fire is a LCD display, it is NOT eInk (the black and white viewable in sunlight display). The Kindle Fire has the same kind of glare as an iPad would have outside (have you seen the add with the guy and girl at the pool?). This display is backlit and can get washed out in bright light and uses lots of power (I’m not saying it’s not usable, I’m just saying it’s not a B&W Kindle), see the video below.

This ad that makes fun of the iPad glare is the same issue for the Kindle Fire,
you will have glare.

Flashback to (non-published) thoughts I had when I ordered it in September:

I don’t think it’ll be competition to the iPad – it’s not even close to being able to stand up and compare features one-to-one.
But, I think some people will get it and it’ll be “enough” for them to get by (and NOT purchase an iPad).

First off, I’ll say I was wrong with the first thought. I said over and over that this should NOT be compared to the iPad. But now that I have it, it should be totally compared, but compare it to the iPad 1 (since the iPad 2 has cameras). Think of it as the 7 inch iPad, but with only 8 GB of storage but Apple would charge $300-$400 for it.

Second item, that’s part of why I bought it, to hold me off from the iPad for another year, to get me to the iPad 4.

They do need to polish their eBook reader app on the Kindle, it’s not as nice as the black and white models (folders and sorting are missing). The reading experience is the same though. It’s actually not as nice as the iPad or iPhone Kindle reader (which just recently got some more upgrades).

It’s an excellent first try it feels like it’s the second or third tablet Amazon has tried, but they’re building on Android so I think that’s part of it feeling like it’s very complete.

This is great for e-mail, newsreader (RSS feeds), eBook reading, weather apps, Pandora, Zinio, The Economist, Scrabble, Overdrive, Mint, Stitcher, DropBox (for photos), YouTube videos and everything. I think it’s an amazing device. If you check your mail while you have WiFi, it’s accessible when you leave the WiFi area, you can even reply and it sends it when you reconnect.

But unlike the eInk Kindle, all the other applications were a distraction, I’d check my mail or the news or the web or Facebook. I didn’t read as much as I could have…

The biggest limiting factor: Amazon locking US out of the Android Marketplace and blocking many Apps from being loaded on the device. It’s inconvenient to work around to get other apps on the device.

2nd biggest limiting factor: They really need to work on the Kindle app some more to make it more like the EInk versions. Folders and syncing really needs to work better.

From a hardware standpoint it’s great, I wish they had a model with more memory or had an SD slot, but since the eInk Kindles don’t have an SD slot, I won’t hold my breath. I wish it had a mic, just for some VOIP or Skyping.

But it wasn’t an iPad, and I am an Apple / iOS fan, I’ve got iPhone apps and iPad apps I bought when on sale. I spent birthday money on pre-ordering the Kindle Fire in September (it didn’t ship until late November), in January I sent it back; combining the September refund with some Christmas money, I ordered the iPad 3 last week. I do fear the iPad will be too large, I really liked the form factor of the Kindle Fire. While the iPad 3 isn’t that large, the screen is almost the same size as my tiny MacBook Air laptop screen (just an inch or two along the long edge of the small MacBook Air).

Don’t let this change your mind, it’s a great device. I loved reading at night with no lights on, I think it helped me to fall asleep sometimes. And it’s only $200.

Written By: Gary on March 13, 2012 No Comment

This is why I canceled my new Verizon iPad 4G LTE order…

It’s really not as drastic as it seems, I still have my order in for an AT&T iPad 3, I only canceled my Verizon order. When they were first announced I wasn’t sure which one would be better to get to use globally either Verizon or AT&T; you’d think those companies would have information published so you’d choose them(?). So, as a result of no information, I ordered both, with plans to cancel or return one…

It seems that AT&T has faster LTE, but it’s very limited deployment at this time (and the Detroit area isn’t included, yet); AT&T appears faster, maybe if everyone was using it, it would slow down(?). On the other hand Verizon LTE is in my area.

But my question was/is, what’s going to be more useful globally for LTE; the 3G GSM seems to be universal world-wide, I’m not sure about the HSPA+ (4G-ish) standards around the world. This is me talking, so realize when I say globally, I mean Costa Rica. Costa Rica cell service has just gone from a monopoly to three (or 4?) carriers in the last few months; rumors/plans for LTE in Costa Rica are around but no specifics that I can find.

LTE is “Long Term Evolution” what some people consider 4G, but there really isn’t a good definition and I’ve read there are 30+ different incompatible implementations of LTE around the world. The
iPhone 4s has HSPA (or is it HSPA+) which AT&T labels as 4G (FYI, before the software upgrade last week, it would have shown up on your phone as 3G). And technically 4G is even faster than LTE can provide, so it’s hard to tell. Sometimes LTE is called 3GPP.

So the more I researched this the more I realized I wasn’t going to get a good answer. The iPad 3 is almost identical to each other, the Verizon has CDMA frequencies but is lacking one of the LTE frequencies that AT&T has. This had me leaning towards AT&T already (and their GSM 3G service on the iPhone works great in Costa Rica) but then I started looking around. In the United States we’ve got the AT&T model and Verizon model of the iPad but when I looked at Canada, France and Japan it appeared that the model they had available was identical to the AT&T model (and Costa Rica isn’t on the list for release yet). So that kind of made my decision, I opted for the AT&T and canceled my Verizon order. This worked out for me in that it was actually too late to cancel the AT&T model on-line, I would have had to refused delivery (which would have been tricky since they probably would have been delivering both at the same time) or I’d have to return it later.

I haven’t seen anything yet to make me decide that I should have gotten the Verizon one yet but I think Apple has the two week return policy (with no restocking fee) even if you buy it on-line. So if anyone hears anything different, please let me know!

Apple’s specs for the Wi-Fi + 4G for AT&T model:
4G LTE (700, 2100 MHz);
UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

A semi-big Verizon benefit is that they are going to allow tethering to share it’s Internet connection with your laptop (or other iPads) at no extra charge (other than the data you use) while AT&T is not going to do this. But I’m not sure how that will actually work globally so I’m not sure if it will matter to me.

Speaking of cellular data in Costa Rica, I generally get better speeds than I get in Michigan for the GSM 3G service. Actually, the more remote in Costa Rica I am (as long as there is cell service) the faster my data seems to be. I think that’s just because there are less people using it. If you’re looking at traveling with your AT&T phone, they’ve really dropped the pricing on their international data plans and they pro-rate them them pretty good (in the customer’s favor, IMHO).

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