Bit Review

by Shawn McCullough

iPhone 6 and Watch Keynote

Apple has posted the keynote on their website. I’ll post my impressions tomorrow.

The livestream had a lot of problems for the first hour. It actually turned out to be pretty fun when following along with others on Twitter and reading the banter about it.

Enjoying Tomorrow’s Apple Event

Macsparky has a fun post about how to enjoy tomorrow’s Apple event. I usually take an extended lunch break, turn on the live stream, and follow the banter on Twitter. I would also add an extra step of going to apple.com after the event to browse the product pages for any details I may have missed or were omitted from the keynote.

As an aside, I still remember the days when there wasn’t an official live stream of the event and we relied on liveblogs. Multiple browser windows would be open to the different sites I follow; usually gdgt, Arstechnica, This is My Next (now The Verge), and Macworld. It was important to have multiple to get the complete coverage and commentary. At a few keynotes they would crumble under the pressure of spiked page views and comment on Twitter about trying to bring the site back.

It’s true that I’m a bit of a fanboy (I hope a rational one), but I don’t think it is too different than a sports fan trying to make it home so they can sit in their favorite chair to watch their team play.

Podcasts

I’m a huge fan of podcasts. I listen to them in the car, on the train, and at home doing chores. I was never a fan of talk radio, but with podcasts I can get shows that only cover topics relevant to me.

The first thing you should do is get an app to store and play the podcasts. My favorite is Pocketcasts, although I really wish they had a Mac app in addition to the iOS and Android apps. Others I recommend are Overcast, Downcast, Instacast, and Castro. The Apple Podcasts app isn’t bad, but there are better alternatives.

To get you started, here are some of the Podcasts I enjoy:

Those are just a few of the ones I listen to. If you want more recommendations just let me know.

The Sweet Home

If you are looking to buy something for your home, be it a new comforter or pepper mill, your first stop should be The Sweet Home. It is the best review site out there and they cover a large range of products for your home. Their reviews are very detailed and explain what one should look for in a product.

I have bought a number of items after reading their reviews and have been happy with every one. It is also helpful around the holidays when you are trying to pick out the best gift for a family member.

They have a sister site that covers technology at The Wirecutter.

Reboot

My last post was exactly one year ago. I’m going to do a 30 day challenge with a new post each day. I want to get back into writing and I hope this will help jumpstart it. The timing also works out well with the Apple event next week, so there should be a lot to write about.

So here is my post in the ground to mark the start of my next 30 days.

Collecting Dust

I love the iPad. I preordered one the day it went on sale and eagerly awaited its delivery. Now it sits in a drawer collecting dust and most of the time the battery is dead. The only time it leaves that drawer is when I have company over and they want to use it.

All because of the iPad mini.

The iPad changed my computing habits, my laptop is now used only for work and class. My monitor and home office are now only used exclusively when I’m working from home. The rest of my time at home is spent on the iPad. My first instinct when I need the internet is to grab the iPad.

When the mini was announced I was a little skeptical. I believed that I would still stick with the larger form factor because I can touch type on it and easily larger documents. The iPad mini didn’t even have a retina display. The day they went on sale I went to the Apple Store to play around with one and was immediately sold on the weight.

The iPad mini is significantly lighter than the regular iPad. It is so much easier to hold and a better experience overall. I use the mini more than I ever used the regular iPad (which was not a low bar).

Every few weeks I think that I should give the full size iPad another chance. I’ll bring it with to work and school with the intention to use it. But again it just sits there in my bag and I grab the mini instead. I can ten-finger touch type on the iPad with fairly good speed, where on the mini I can only type with my thumbs. However, that has turned out to be a benefit. When I meet with a colleague or am on the train there isn’t room to set down the iPad and I end up having to thumb type anyway. Now instead of bringing a pad of paper to meet with colleagues I bring the mini and jot down notes in Drafts.

The iPad mini has far surpassed the device that changed this geeks computing habits.

What Book Publishers Should Learn from Harry Potter

What Book Publishers Should Learn from Harry Potter

if book publishers could only learn one thing from the Pottermore launch, it should be this: that one of the biggest drivers of piracy is the inability to find or consume the content that a user wants in the format or on the platform or at a time they wish to consume it

The release of the Harry Potter eBooks is better than I expected. It is good to see someone with power in the industry doing the right thing with digital distribution.

Photo Stream

Photo Stream is a great feature of iOS 5 that pushes photos to all of your computers and devices. It is somewhat magical to snap/import a photo on your iPhone or iPad and have it show up everywhere else.

A couple people on Twitter have been complaining that you can’t delete photos from Photo Stream. This isn’t a problem if you think of Photo Stream as an invisible sync cable. The purpose is to give you access to your recent photos on all devices so you can import them. It is like a river (maybe that’s where the stream comes from) of photos passing by where you can reach in and take one out. One argument is that without the ability to delete, your Photo Stream fills up with iOS screenshots. I actually like that I can easily grab the screenshot out of iPhoto. Your Photo Stream isn’t shared with anyone or permanent so it doesn’t matter if a screenshot passes by.

The one downside is that you can have your Photo Stream pushed to the Apple TV as a screensaver. I think the problem here is that Photo Stream shouldn’t be used for this purpose. It should only be a collection of recent photos stored for the purpose of importing to any device. Apple should instead implement album sharing.

With album sharing you can share collections of photos with family and friends. The photos will gain more meaning as they are put into titled albums. Now you can share different albums with different people, the photos of SXSW will go out to your friends and your child’s first birthday will be sent to your parents. The Photo Stream will only be a utility.

This can solve the problem with Photo Stream and the Apple TV. You can check an option on an album to have it pushed to your Apple TV as a screensaver. This gives everyone the control they want and adds the great feature of sharing your photos.

Steve Jobs

I was devastated after reading about Steve’s death on Wednesday. It felt like I had lost a close friend or relative even though I’d never met him.

To understand why, I dug up a post I wrote back in 2008 called Why I Use a Mac. That post is poorly written (look at all those commas and fragmented sentences), but I think it does a good job of summarizing my feelings. That post ends with this line:

My beginnings with the Mac weren’t the same typical arguments you hear again and again. Mine was much deeper and connected with a part of my life that defines me.

A Mac wasn’t the first computer I owned or even used, but it was the computer that made me fall in love with technology. Every year since 2003 I’d spend hours reading about Apple and tinkering with technology. I read the liveblogs of events and watched the keynotes when they were posted. While other people were enjoying sports or celebrity gossip I was learning about technology and watching Steve perform.

Steve Jobs has changed the world in a way that few have before. He was a visionary who made the world better and will continue to be an inspiration for many more generations to come.

Thanks to all of my family and friends that called to ask if I was OK. It is hard to lose a person that created the things that helped define you as a person.

Thank you Steve and rest in peace.

The Macalope Weekly: Busted businesses

The Macalope Weekly: Busted businesses:

Don says consumers want bigger displays not once, but three times. Three times in a 91-word list item. Yet, he provides no links to back up that assertion. It’s just obvious, right?! Duh! Consumers want to lug around larger screens! They’d love to lug around gigantic 42-inch screens, but Apple doesn’t offer the breadth of options that other OEMs do! Dur-hey! So obvious! Dur-hickey!

If you don’t read the Macalope then you’re really missing out. Last weeks piece is definitely worth your time.