Saturday, November 5, 2016

Digital Bullet Journaling

    Bullet Journaling is a hot topic right now on the internet, but what is it really? In short, it just a paper note book that you ... well ... take notes in. It really a simple system. I have been using a the same (sort of) system for a number of years now. Being in the army, I get a note book and I jot down bullet notes for tasks that need to be done at work, notes for soldier issues that need to be taken care of, and generally anything work related.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

IOGear MediaShair (Updated)

    A few days ago I ordered the IOGear MediaShare from Aamazon. When it arrived, I did a quick setup and test to make sure everything was working. Work it did. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Printing from iOS

    iOS is a tricky beast. It shows you just enough to entice you, then slaps you in the face with its built-in limitations. Printing should be a fairly simple task, and for the most part it is, if you follow the correct steps.

    You probably (without even realizing it) went the easy route and chose a printer that is AirPrint compatible. There are actually a lot of these on the official list. Just about any home printer you buy from either Brother or Canon will do, sort of. Getting the printer is the easy part.

    After doing my do diligence I decided on the Canon MG6620 Printer. Not a spectacular printer, or fast, but the ink lasts an amazingly long time and it does print double sided. So I hooked it up and got the iMac and MacBook Pro working easy as pie. Even connecting the printer to the wireless network was easy.

    Then I tried to print from an iPhone. "No printer found" was the message I got. I tried a second iPhone. "No printer found". Then I thought, I just got a new iPad Pro and surely this will work. "No printer found". I was getting very frustrated.

    As it turns out, you need an app. Both Brother and Canon make their printer apps available for free in the App Store, but it would have been nice knowing I needed them.

    Setting up the app was easy enough. Once connected to the printer you can close the app and, as far as I can tell anyway, you never need to re-open it. All of your apps that print, such Pages or Microsoft Word, print just fine without needing to open the Canon Printer App.

    Wile a bit annoying, the apps themselves are very small and I can put them away in folder and forget about them until I need to do something else with it. I do, however, need to leave the app installed in order to print.

    This is not a big deal while I am at home, but if I am at a friends house, or somewhere else while out-and-about I may have to find an appropriate app for whatever printer is available. I have come to think of these apps as iOS printer drivers. Since not everyone who uses iOS needs to print from it, I will just assume that Apple left that part out to save space since they still sell (and I have no idea why) a 16GB phone.

    That's all there really is to it. So go ahead and buy the home printer you want, just make sure it is both AirPrint compatible and the manufacturer has an app for it. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Post-PC, more evolution than revolution

    So, it's been awhile ... again.

    After almost a year away from this blog, I have decided to return. It has been a very exciting year. I moved twice, got back to "nature" and all things outdoors while at the same time learning some new trade skills. Welding is more fun than I thought it would be.

    When I last left off, I was attempting to go "Post-PC". At that time, the potential was there, but the capability was just too lacking. There just was not enough software in place to make the transition I was hoping to make. My goal was, and still is, to embrace the "Post-PC" ideals and become completely free of the PC. A goal not without many challenges.

    I suppose I should bring everyone up to speed on the "why". I have been involved in PC's since before the days of Commador V16's and TRS-80's (though the Amiga was truly astounding for its day). I have always been an early adopter of new technology, even in my childhood. Now in my forties, I still find the future a mysterious idea full of wonder and possibilities. While not all new ideas will take off, some will. Other ideas will change and merge with still more ideas, hopefully for the better. I have always felt that the future, wether dystopian or utopian, or whatever it turns out to be, will be very different than what is here today and I look forward to it all.

    So what is the difference between a "PC" and a "Device"? At the root of it, not much. In fact this question is still being asked. It used to be a device was single purpose. A printer, a fax machine, or even a cell phone, was a "device". Then the term "multi-function" came out and the lines started to blur. In fact, most "devices" today are actually low power computers. Some say the modern definition should be anything with a keyboard and mouse is a "PC". Some used to say it was the ability compile software directly on the Device made it a PC. You can now do that with Android, so that really isn't much of a benchmark anymore.

     So as the world becomes more mobile, raw horsepower isn't the goal it used to be. Instead users are looking for an experience that is smooth, coherent, cohesive and works across multiple devices, PC's and whatever else can be connected together. The goal is all of your data available, on demand, on any device or computer. As the world becomes more and more connected, the amount of data available is becoming staggering to us old farts who grew up learning to type on an actual typewriter. For the next generation, it's just the way the world works.

    Going "Post-PC" isn't exactly what I thought it was going to be, and yet it is. The ideas are still forming, the workflows still being worked out and the future is not yet written. I love the idea of getting away from the desktop, yet there are still things that a desktop will be better at. So then what does "Post-PC" actually mean then?

    In my mind, the Post-PC era isn't a revolution. It's more of an evolution. The "devices" don't need to be as powerful as a desktop, but merely good enough. They must have a smooth and natural UI, be able to connect to all of your data, and be able to get the most common tasks done relatively easily. Framed in such a way, I think the age of mobile is doing very well and will continue to do so. Most tablets, phones and other non-traditional PC's cost much less up front than a gaming computer, or one that is built for large scale 3D rendering or video editing. While much less "powerful", they are good enough for day-to-day use, and I think that's the point.

    To this end, my wife has purchased me a new iPad Pro, complete with a keyboard and an Apple Pencil. Using a touch screen can be seen as just a new way to use a mouse, especially if using a stylus or other such add-on. The iPad Pro is truly amazing for what it is and I can see why so many people have adopted it. Granted, this is also my first tablet, but for the first time I think I may be able to give up my MacBook Pro completely. Yes, it is that good (enough). Realistically, I don't write code these days, I no longer do custom ROM's for phones and there are a lot of things that I just don't do anymore with computers. Not because I can't, I have just enjoyed being being a user long enough that the stress of doing those things is no longer outweighed by the satisfaction of doing it.

     As my computing needs change I find that I really like just being a user. In the end, it has made all the difference. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Post-PC Day 6

Yes, I skipped a day of posting due to an injury while working out. There was no Day 5 post. Tomorrow I will be writing the Day 7 post, which will be the final post of this particular series.

Now that’s out of the way, it’s time to press on. What I have learned so far? For starters, the basics of moving to a Post-PC lifestyle are easy. My iPhone does well over 90% of what I need a traditional PC to do. It has been fairly rare that I felt that I needed to use my laptop. In fact the only need I currently have for my laptop is to get the media files currently stored on it. However, as part of this experiment, I shut down my laptop to force myself to find new ways of doing things.

Part of that learning process included discovering what apps would be needed, and what would be just nice to have. I don’t want to spoil my final post on this project, but I have come to a few realizations. Sorry, but you will have to check back tomorrow to get all my findings.

What I can say though, this experiment has been frustrating, fun, exciting and more than a little educational. So why would anyone put themselves through all of this, on purpose? Because I can, and because of Ubuntu.

A while back Ubuntu starting talking about a PC in your pocket. You dock your device and you can use a real keyboard, mouse and screen and get a real desktop. However, this is actually a major disadvantage and sets up Ubuntu to fail even before they got started.

In theory Ubuntu had a great idea. The reality is all you really get a terrible PC. The fact is a phone uses, not only a mobile processor, but a R.I.S.C. processor. R.I.S.C. is an acronym for Reduced Instruction Set Computing. There are all kinds of processors in the world and if you are reading this on a modern PC, your most likely using a C.I.S.C., or Complex Instruction Set Computing, based computer. The Intel line of x86 chips alone have multiple sets of these complex instructions sets. Without going into to much detail, the bottom line is that a desktop processor (CPU or GPU) will always be more powerful than it’s mobile counterpart.

The Ubuntu model attempts to bring desktop computing to mobile, a grand and futile goal. When a user sits down in front of a real keyboard, mouse and screen, they are going to expect real PC performance. A certain level of capability has become expected by just abut everyone who uses computers. The performance just will never be there. As mobile devices become more and more powerful, so do the laptops, desktops, servers, workstations and everything else that people use every day. The Mobile Desktop is a pipe dream.

What is really needed is a new way to work, a new way to learn to use devices to get real world work done. You can’t use new tools that have a completely new way of user interaction, and completely different capabilities (in most cases less capable) to do things in the same way they have always been done. It’s just not going to work.

So what is the answer then? While I am still learning, you will have to read tomorrows post for the conclusion of this experiment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Post-PC Day 4

So, here I am at day four of my test. So far it has been, well, interesting. As I said once before, storage is the key. Right now there are more than a few media files on my laptop that I really want to access, but I wont. I am actually in the middle of an audio book and the second half is still on my laptop. While it is kind of frustrating it is also informative. I really need more portable storage.

To that end I found this Seagate wireless hard drive. On the surface it looks like a really good deal. However, it still doesn’t solve all of my storage needs. What about SD Cards? I do have an “action camera” and to be honest I would like to go on using it. So while this is a step in the right direction, I was certain there was a better solution to be had.

Enter Western Digital, with their MyPassport External Wireless HardDrive, that not only hold a whopping 2TB of data, also holds an standard SD Card slot. Combined with a decent app I am sure this will go a very long way to getting me to my dream of a Post-PC world.

The downside? Cost. Really though, for less than $200 it is a really good deal. I just don’t have the $200 at the moment. So while I can theorize about how it “should work”, or at least how I think it should work, reality usually has a way of biting you in the back side if you take too much for granted. A review of this drive will have to wait, for now. But it is the most promising lead I have found so far.

As day four comes to a close, I find that I am missing my media files more than my laptop. Only three more days, I can wait that long. Right?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Post-PC Day 3

So far so good, mostly. I still haven’t found a good external storage solution. I am trying very hard to stay away from cloud drives, network attached storage (NAS) and anything that can’t also be (nearly) as portable as the phone itself. I realize this is asking a lot, but I am confident that I will be able to find a solution.

Really though, that is the big hurdle at this point. Everything else is going to depend on the way the iPhone interacts with whatever local storage solution I can come up with.

Seriously. Every major web site I visit (FB, Google+, YouTube, Vimeo, most forums, etc..) have a dedicated app. Granted some are from a third party developer, but many of those are just as polished as the big names. So really access to content is no longer the hassle it used to be.

Creating content is not nearly as bad as it used to be either. With native apps such as Garage Band, iMovie and third party apps like Camera+ the phone has all of the tools you need. Once again, this is not really much of a problem. The problem really comes down to storage.

Once I have some more time (today I am pressed for time to even write this post) I will make sure I give as detailed analyses as I can for what options are available, and what I think should be available.

At the end of the day though, which this is the end of my day, I am still happy with going Post-PC.