Here is my recommendation. #CanonSX50HS Read the details at http://ow.ly/lbLxn
On one of my blogs this morning, spam from an online place called “Coffin World” in Australia.
I got a real surprise with my new Mac Mini. It turns out there are are multiple versions of OS 10.8.2 floating around. Only one of them will boot a new MacMini and if you try to download that version from the App Store for an external drive, it won’t let you even it you have already purchased Mountain Lion. http://t.co/rOUNLHus
I will admit up front that I am a life-long Apple user. I got my first Apple in 1982. I worked at Apple for almost twenty years. I used MS/DOS before I went to work for Apple, but I didn’t really spend any time with Windows until 2004 when I bought a Dell Pentium 3 desktop with Windows XP. I hoped to use it for GIS, but I got sidetracked and ended up using it as a general purpose machine and installing Linux on a second hard drive.
In 2007, I bought a HP laptop with Vista. In 2010 I replaced it with one that was running Windows 7. I ended up giving my original Windows 7 machine to my youngest daughter who was stuck on an ancient lampshade iMac.
I got a Lenovo Windows 7 laptop which is now my main desktop machine together with my somewhat contrary iMac which I like to call my iLemon. When my Lenovo laptop became my main desktop machine, I did some research and a bought a Lenovo Yoga touch screen ultrabook running Windows 8. I needed something to travel with besides my Kindle Fire
I’m at a bit of a loss to figure out what Microsoft wanted to accomplish with Windows 8 other than to drag many of its users screaming and kicking to a new world of touch interfaces. It is not that Windows 8 doesn’t work well, it just works very differently, and I suspect many current Microsoft users are going to be reluctant to buy a laptop or desktop with such a radically different user interface.
Having said that I like my Lenovo Yoga. It works well as a laptop and Windows 8 has not gotten in the way of it doing what I hoped it would do. I’ve added a USB 3.0 external drive for photos, and I have also made a conscious effort to use the Microsoft tiles. So far I haven’t found enough utility to keep me going back to them regularly.
I have used the Lenovo Yoga some as a tablet, but I rarely need that much horsepower and screen real estate for my tablet needs which are generally confined to checking the weather and reading a few web articles. Either my Kindle Fire or my new Nexus 7 can handle those jobs with ease.
There are some new backup features that I like in Windows 8. I also like the integration of Skydrive and even find the latest version of Internet Explorer much more usable. However, none of this makes for a compelling reason to go out and buy Windows 8. Windows 7 happened to be the most reliable operating system that I’ve ever used.
I haven’t noticed any issues with Windows 8, but I was pretty confused with it until I installed Start8 which made the transition much easier. I’ll have a more detailed article on readwriteweb sometime soon, but so far I see no reason to go out and buy a Windows 8 machine unless you just need a new computer.
While my technology recommendations have often included the Macintosh, my recent experience with Apple has led me to hold back on suggesting someone go out and buy a Mac. It might be time to start looking seriously at Linux once again. My Dell Pentium 3 has been running Ubuntu for a number of years. It has been trouble-free.
I keep my Mac around mostly for the video editing and simple production of DVDs that I do.
We had an interesting experience recently. It illustrates one of the biggest problems in both small and large businesses.
In spite of all the customer surveys and all the social media listening opportunities, businesses tend to ignore valuable feedback because solving a problem is often harder than just ignoring the problem and letting your customer continue to deal with it.
Our home is for sale and was under contract. The Saturday before our contract fell apart, we took all of our old paint and chemicals to a special hazardous-materials collection. That left us with no paint for touch-ups as we were preparing to get our house back on the market.
My wife hired a painter that we have used many times to do some minor painting that required matching one room’s paint. Since it was such a small job, and he was squeezing our work in between coats of paint on a neighbor’s front door, she agreed to get the paint that was needed.
One paint that we required was a Benjamin Moore paint and another was Sherwin Williams Navajo White. Our painter told my wife that she could save some time by just going to the Benjamin Moore paint dealer, and they could mix the Navajo White with their paint computer.
Sure enough my wife came back with a small can of Benjamin Moore paint labelled Sherwin Williams Navajo White. The picture at the top left is from that paint can. Our painter tried it on the spot we were trying to fix, and it looked terrible. We thought perhaps our wall had faded, but my wife had a Sherwin Williams paint strip with Navajo White, and it matched our wall perfectly. The other Benjamin Moore paint that had been matched with a Benjamin Moore paint chip worked fine.
My wife headed back down to the hardware store where she had bought the paint. They completely ignored her request to try to fix our $22 quart of paint. Their comment was that if our can of paint was computer mixed, they were not prepared to fiddle with the paint. I guess the computer is always right, and the customer just has to live with it.
A day or two later we stopped by Sherwin Williams and bought a gallon of their Navajo White paint. That evening I painted the small area that needed fixing. The paint matched perfectly.
I decided that we needed to get a refund on our Benjamin Moore Navajo White paint so I put a drop of it on the Sherwin Williams paint strip and headed off to the hardware. I took the can to the front desk and asked for a refund. First the lady offered to remix it, but I told her it was too late for that.
I showed her the paint strip which demonstrated how far off their Navajo White was compared to the real Sherwin Williams Navajo White paint. She was completely uninterested. At first she told me that if I wanted Sherwin Williams paint, I should shop there. I told her that she should not sell Sherwin Williams labeled paint if it didn’t actually match Sherwin Williams paint, but she didn’t seem to care about my observation. However, she did go talk to a manager.
We got our money back after the discussion, and I appreciate that. However, they were uninterested in fixing the problem we uncovered.
I guess giving us back our money is easier than fixing the real problem of a paint matching computer that doesn’t work properly. Still we ended up making three trips just to get the cup of paint that we needed. Of course I won’t buy any more paint from that hardware store.
Hopefully they get few customers looking Sherwin Williams Navajo White paint, but my guess is that the next customer will be just as unhappy as we were if they are trying to match some paint already on the walls.
Like many businesses, our hardware store chose to ignore the real problem and leave a trap set for the next unsuspecting consumer.
I was working for Apple Computer in January 1985 when the company introduced the LaserWriter, the first laser printer to be widely used.
The list price was $6,995 and more important to those of us lugging it around for demonstrations, it weighed 77 pounds.
I was happy that my previous career was running a cattle farm where I spent much of the winter hauling around 100 lb+ bags of feed.
It is a measure of the change in our society in the last seventeen years that the third week in December 2011, I bought a Brother HL-2270DW laser printer for $99.98. It only weighed 15.4 pounds.
The original Apple LaserWriter printed eight pages per minute of 300 DPI text and graphics using a 12 Mhz Motorola 68000 chip.
The Brother printer that I bought prints at 27 pages per minute at up to 2400 X 600 DPI. It has a 200 Mhz processor. The new Brother printer comes with Ethernet and wireless connectivity. The Apple LaserWriter only had LocalTalk, a very slow but revolutionary network for 1985.
The Apple LaserWriters were built like tanks. Most of them lived to a very ripe old age considering how fast technology changes.
It is an interesting story about how I came to purchase my $99 laser printer.
A little over five years ago, we bought a second home on North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks. We were not on the coast very long when I decided that we needed a second office.
There is a picture of the office that I created in November 2006 at this post, The Not So Reluctant System Engineer. In the picture, you’ll see the Brother 5250DN laser printer that I bought at the time. It was virtually identical to the one in my Roanoke office. I paid around $199 for it at Staples.
In the slightly over five years since I put together my office, there have been some changes. I still have and use my Dual G5 Mac and my HP C6180 AIO Photosmart printer.
My Dell desktop system now runs only Ubuntu Linux, and I have added an I5 iMac to my coastal office. The iMac nearly overwhelms my desktop. My trusty MacBook that I bought in July 2006 recently gave up the ghost. My main laptop since February 2010 has been a HP I7 with a 15″ screen.
About the middle of December I finished the first draft of a book that I am writing about my career of nearly twenty years at Apple. My wife told me that she would only proof a paper copy so I printed one copy of the book. At well over one hundred standard sheets of paper, it was the longest thing that I have ever printed. I got a warning light on my laser toner, but I pulled the cartridge and shook it around like I have doing for years. The warning light stopped.
Around a week later after some additional miscellaneous printing, the laser printer stopped printing. Both the jam light and the toner light were blinking. Over the last year, the Brother laser printer had shown a tendency to jam while printing. I did all my tricks, but I still could not get the printer going again.
I knew that it might finally be out of toner, but I was somewhat suspicious since the last page printed did not look like it had come from a printer running out of toner. Also I have never seen a printer just stop printing because of lack of toner.
I went to Staples in Morehead City the next day to pick up a toner cartridge. I was a little worried that it might not fix my problem with the printer. When I got to Staples, I found than a new toner cartridge that prints something over 4,000 pages would cost me around $85. As I was walking to the checkout counter, I found that I could buy a new laser printer with a starter toner cartridge for $99. The starter cartridge would be good for 1,250 pages, over a year’s worth of printing for me, and a larger cartridge would only cost $44.
It didn’t take me long to decide, I took the replacement toner cartridge back and bought the new printer. It only took me a few minutes that evening to get it working with everything.
My old printer is sitting in a closet waiting for me to bring down the toner cartridge from my printer in our Roanoke house. If the toner works and fixes the problem, I will try to give the printer away. If it doesn’t fix it, I will just recycle the printer. I know from past experience that once a piece of electronics dies, investing money in it is mostly like a waste.
The new printer works fine and looks at home on the printer shelf. I am not very comfortable being a member of the disposable society but economically little else made sense.
While we aren’t at the epicenter of the shopping world, fortunately we have plenty of services in the area and a Staples not far away. While we don’t have an Apple Store here on the Southern Outer Banks, we seem to manage pretty well in the world of technology.
With a career that included nearly twenty years at Apple, it should come as no surprise that I have seen many forms of electronic communication come and go.
My kids were early users of AOLs chat rooms, and I at was Apple before AppleLink even existed. When I started in 1984, we got one email a week. I even remember Apple’s eWorld.
I have been quick to try most forms of electronic communication. I built my first webpages with Adobe Pagemill in 1994 and went on to use an internal website that I created as a very effective team building tool.
I have been blogging since 2004 and have used almost all the popular platforms, some of which have disappeared. I now focus most of my efforts on Typepad and a WordPress site on my own domain, CrystalCoastLife.com. However, I still have active blogs at WordPress, Squarespace and Blogger.
Last year I started evaluating how I was spending my time on the web. I was spending a lot of time on the City-Data forum for our area. While it wasn’t a waste of my time, it wasn’t a very productive use of my hours. I got very little back for my substantial efforts so I quit posting there.
I have been using Foursquare for a while, and have had some fun with it, but one day it dawned on me that Foursquare was one of the least productive things that I do on the web.
The information that I got back from Foursquare was questionable at best, and few of the specials offered for users amounted to very much. On top of that, I found it much easier to use Google maps and Latitude to communicate with the people who really need to know where I am. I might not completely stop using Foursquare, but I doubt you will see me at the top of the leader board again. It might hurt my Klout rating, but I am not going to lose any sleep over that.
Twitter is something that I actually find very interesting, and I also believe that I get back as much or more as I put into my tweets. I will probably keep tweeting and regularly visit my Tweeter feed.
Facebook is an interesting challenge, I find it useful for communicating with some folks who are hard to communicate with using more traditional methods. However, I have found Facebook to be of little or no use in a business sense. It is also easy for it to be a distraction from more important things.
LinkedIn has proved to be valuable for staying in touch with business colleagues and getting opinions on important things. I have also found ActiveRain very useful for staying connected with Realtors® outside my immediate geography.
Google+ which I have just started using seems to have some potential and a way to communicate with people without the means of communication getting in the way. Actually I think that I am interested in Google+ mostly because Facebook seems to have become unwieldy. The information that I get at Facebook can sometimes be marginal at best. Most of the people I would like to hear from on Facebook, rarely post anything, so it ends up being another one way street. Facebook is a good way for me to get information out to some people, but it turns out to be a poor way for me to hear back from people whose opinions I would value.
That leaves email and text messages. Email is something which I still value, and fortunately communicating by email just seems natural since I have been doing it for so long. I give my Droid smartphone credit for keeping me from being a failure at text messages. I hated doing them on earlier phones where you had to hit a key multiple times to get the right character. Now I seem to have a little more credibility in texting with my grown kids who depend on it far more than I do.
As I look at the ways in which I communicate electronically, I want to make certain that I do not let electronic communication get in the way of real human interaction. When I took the picture in this post, I was walking with my wife on the boardwalk in our waterfront community by the White Oak River. Even the act of taking the picture was a distraction from an important real life interaction, and I am guilty of that far too often. If you add checking in with Foursquare to the same situation, I think it takes away some precious moments that I would rather enjoy with the real live person beside me as opposed to with my electronic friends.
I have also gone to point of turning off the notification sounds on my Droid smartphone so that I will not be tempted to look at new emails. They can wait until I am not in the presence of someone who really deserves my attention.
It is really nice to be electronically in touch with the large number of friends that I have around the world, but it is much more important tht electronic communication not get in the way of the very real and personal communication that needs to be at the heart of my life.
I will keep looking at how I spend my time electronically with the hopes of making sure it is actually worth the time it takes away from my life in the real world.
I read with some alarm the recent post in the NY Times about gadgets that you should consider ditching or keeping.
One of my reasons for alarm was the suggestion that we ditch all our point and shoot cameras and just use our smartphones. Well I happen to care about the quality of the photos that I take, and I find that I have a harder time taking a nice picture with my Droid than I do with a simple point and shoot camera. I suspect people who take fewer pictures than me have even more challenges.
In the same vein, the author suggested that we give up video cameras for the high quality digital video that you can get with a DSLR camera. While I can get very good video out of my Nikon 3100, it is not nearly as easy to accomplish as it with a dedicated video camera. Trying to use all the features of a DSLR is not exactly a piece of cake.
Another less than brilliant suggestion is that we ditch all of our desktop computers, because laptops now have all the power of desktops. Well laptops are great, I am writing this post on one, but when it comes to a system that will last for several years, you are far better off with a desktop. It is much easier to upgrade components, and it doesn’t get the wear and tear that a laptop gets.
I will agree that some devices are probably worthless. One would likely be a dedicated GPS device in an automobile. My Droid phone is a far better GPS than either our nearly worthless Toyota GPS or my fairly good Acura GPS. I recently had a friend from Canada show up with three GPS car devices, none of them worked very well. I had some clients in town not long ago, and their car GPS was continually failing them.
If you want a very good GPS device, get an Android device with a good car charger. However, don’t throw away your desktop computer, video camera, or point and shoot camera unless you want to be dealing with less than optimal results a few years down the road.
I still love maps, and they certainly help make GPS systems even better. A good camera in your pocket can create great memories not poorly lighted approximations. A smartphone might do in a pinch for a photo or a movie, but chances are most people are better off with a point and shoot camera which can also do a decent short video clip.
For years we found out information from signs and books.
I sometimes joke that the best way to get information around the Emerald Isle and Swansboro area is to hang a hand lettered bed sheet at the intersection of highways 24 and 58.
Yet I know from my experience with lots of clients that almost everyone has a cell phone, and that an amazing number of people have smart phones.
Still we recently had an experience that made we wonder how in an age of instant communication, some folks felt compelled to make a really bad decision way too early. On February 10 we were supposed to wake up with a chance of an inch of snow.
The afternoon before we heard on television that Camp Lejeune was closing the next morning in anticipation of this “storm.” Only essential personnel were to report to the base. It just seemed odd to me that a base full of young men who likely all have cell phones had to make an early decision based on what turned out to be a real miss on the forecast.
Somehow I expect our Marines to be a little harder to slow down in their home element. With a forecast of “one inch and less near the beaches,” it is a surprise so many places made a decision to close early.
Technology which could have easily let the Marine delay their weather closing to the last moment can also make for bad decisions.
I have had such good luck using my Droid smart phone for driving directions that I did not take the time to make a phone call or two before making a trip from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina to Cornelius, North Carolina. I had asked a couple of locals in South Carolina and gotten the evasive answer that they “used a lot of back roads.” That should have been a clue to me that I might be heading in a direction which required a little more research than Google maps on my smart phone.
The drive turned out to be an unpleasant one. and prompted me to write a post that people should consider how their retirement home fits in the scheme of trips they might need to make on a regular basis.
A little more use of technology could have made the Marines look a little less hasty when it comes to snow. Just picking up the phone and calling someone that I knew in the Charlotte area could have saved me a lot of grief on my recent trip.
We have to make the best of instant communications and supplement them as needed with real conversations if we want to maximize the benefit of technology without throwing out common sense.
We are much more dependent on technology that we were during the years when we were farming in Canada.
In the seventies, a calculator and a typewriter were about the limits of our technology. In 1982, I got an Apple II+, and life hasn’t been the same since.
I will be the first to admit that some technology has gotten really complex. We have a mixed wireless and wired network at our home along the Southern Outer Banks. We came home from a trip last Saturday evening. Our wireless network wasn’t working. Most times it just takes a simple restart to fix that. This time it was much more complex.
First I tried directly wiring a single computer to the cable modem. It did not take long to determine that the cable modem was thankfully fine. I have recurring nightmares of being stuck in cable modem support hell.
Next I knew my Apple airport was configured to not work as a DHCP server. I remembered that even my uber-geek son had challenges in getting the Airport to stop distributing IP addresses so I pulled up a spare Airport and let it become the wireless point and the DHCP server. That way I managed to get a wireless network going and get four of our six computers up and running.
Unfortunately that left two computers, my old Mac Dual G5, My Dell Linux box, and our two printers off the network.
My guess was that the Netgear router/switch had lost its configuration somehow. I tried to communicate with the router via the standard browser method with a single computer hooked to it. I had no luck so I pulled out an identical router/switch that my son had given me when he switched to powerline ethernet. I downloaded the manual and started configuring the switch. We have given the printers manual IP addresses so I had to find those. Surprisingly I found the easiest place to get that info was my Linux box.
I did have one hitch. One I configured the switch to match the subnet of the printers, I could not establish communication with the switch. My son reminded me that I needed to reboot my computer. I then added my OpenDNS server information and powered all the computers, Airport, and printers down. Then I hooked all the wires into the newly configured switch. I switched to the old Airport and brought it back up. Then I booted all the computers and turned on the printers.
A quick test showed that the printers were working and the Airport network was functional. I had to go change the network wireless settings on one of our Windows 7 laptops, but other than that everything worked. I still have to see if the old router can be fixed, and if it can, I will add it to my other spare parts like the other switch my son left me just in case I needed a few more ports.
While all that sounds relatively simple to the geeks among us, it took be about 24 hours of working on it whenever I had some extra time. Fortunately we had the adhoc wireless network that gave us everything we needed except printers.
This all works for me, but it occurs to be that I have the advantage of lots of spare gear that I have inherited from my son. I have also lived in the world of technology for the last twenty-eight years, and I have a son who understand whatever I don’t. Most people might have some challenges with this, but it likely that most people don’t need all the gear that I have to keep all my Internet projects running.
The one thing that I am really happy about is that I have removed servers from the equation. I can still remember trying to get DHCP services set up using one of my Mac OS X boxes that I also used as a server. I have given up on running a server at home. It is just too much trouble when there are great services like DropBox around. DropBox gives me online storage that automatically syncs across all my computers.
Maybe I will eventually get new gear that lets me have a less complex network, but when you are working with computers as old as seven years old, it sometimes helps to have some old gear around.
I think part of the great appeal of smartphones like my Droid is that they just work. If we can have more powerful smartphone-like devices including printers that just work, we might get around much the complexity of a homegrown network.
Technology is too interwoven in our lives to disappear. We just have to hope that we can stay on top of it, and that even more power technology will get easier and easier. After all I think my Droid is a much more powerful computer than my original Apple II.
We have made lots of progress with technology, I do not think the progress will stop. I expect it will accelerate.