For no good reason I decided to get up to the Apple store at 2am this morning. Ok, so getting an iPad was a good idea, but 2am? I’m a night owl anyways.

In short, the iPad was good idea. However, if you already have an iPhone and take your laptop to sync up, consider these time-saving tips:

  1. The “Apple” iPad protector gets dirty very easily. Consider an alternative.
  2. Update iTunes by running software update; it’s about 100mb (hint: Apple Store’s have free wifi)
  3. When prompted, it’s somewhat* safe to click “Setup as new iPad” — you don’t have to restore your iPhone’s backup
  4. If you have more than 200 photos and want to start using your iPad “quickly”, don’t sync photos yet. They take a long time to be “optimized”. My sync (2500 photos) took more than an hour.
  5. You’ll be prompted to sync your current apps — a no brainer if you want your iPhone apps on the device

*I may end up performing a restore from my iPhone backup. Setting up the iPad as “new” resulted in none of my application settings and preferences being sync’d to the iPad. More on this after I test a few reloads.

Back to my little iPad debut story…

At 2:30a there were 4 cars, until 3am, when one person walked up to the store; thereafter everyone else stopped hiding and started camping at the Apple Store on Knox St. in Dallas. It seemed I was the 2nd arrival, but, the other party didn’t have a reservation so I ended up 1st for the “reservations” line. While the downside was an applicable “dork” label, I was interviewed by several local TV channels and newspapers. Ironically, I don’t watch local TV or read local newspapers.

On to the iPad… and how it rocks…

The first thing I noticed was orientation doesn’t matter — this is awesome because I can just pick it up and use it. The screen swiftly changes to any orientation and there’s a switch to lock it to a specific orientation.

I immediately installed iBooks, Pandora, and NPR — all free apps which looked great. Every app was fast and installed in seconds — almost before I had the chance to touch to start the app. Everything pops into place quickly. After syncing the iPad I quickly went through my routine apps and they were blazing fast and I had no issues.

The glossy screen, which suffers from glare, is still surprisingly legible in broad daylight. It seems as though the focal point of the glass surface is distant enough from the LCD that glares are overlooked. Several people were able to legibly record the screen as I installed various apps and navigated the iPad settings.

Safari is instant and quick as I tested out the various sites which Apple convinced to convert to html5video. Apple has them listed as “iPad-ready websites“. Videos were smooth, no clipping, and no interface issues. Did I say it was fast?

The keyboard was very usable, although it reminded me of my days as a Blackberry user. For some reason it was fairly natural to use my thumbs to type with the keyboard while holding the device in my hand. No problems typing so far.

Now I’m off to the App Store. I’m going to try not to spend more on apps than I paid for the device.

The big problem? No multitasking. If Apple gives the iPad multi-tasking, my “nesspad” is going to be quite the monster.

Minor, notable “little problems”:

  • Videos in iTunes don’t have an icon indicating a video and the video opens in a separate Videos application, which unlike iPod, will not play in the background.
  • as others have noted, screen smudges are ugly… but not really noticed when using the device
  • iPad apps are fairly “expensive”. I think Apple set the bar with their iWork apps and everyone is following suit. Time will tell whether the apps are worth their price.

If Skype was allowed to transmit voice calls over a cell data network, for several reasons, it would be unusable. There’s overhead in buffering and accommodating the effects of cellular data service in order to provide reasonable voice quality. Whereas IP packets and browsers don’t care if there is a slight delay, voice has stricter latency requirements and that’s one reason cell phone networks didn’t start out as data networks to begin with! Triangulation, echo cancellation, and multiplexing are systems that IP isn’t built for and even if it was, it would be like powering a computer with a solar panel that’s fed by a light bulb, plugged into the power grid.

If you’d like an example, get a 3g laptop card and open Skype on your laptop, then try and hold a phone call as a passenger traveling in a vehicle at 55mph; you’ll soon be disconnected or be unable to understand the call. Skype and the Internet it runs over has no idea you’re switching from Cell Tower 5 to Cell Tower 14 and to expect parts of the call in a different order from the different towers; even if it did, the towers aren’t aware of skype and the bandwidth overhead for the towers to communicate between Skype’s system and your cell phone would be excessive and negatively impact the network as a whole. ATT isn’t handicapping anybody, it’s just not that simple.

I can understand consumer advocacy but some things just don’t work. If it was really practical to run VoIPoCell then none of us would have Cell phones. Skype’s best effort would be to find a carrier to work with them at a higher level than just the iPhone; if Skype wants you to seamlessly transfer your call between the most efficient network, they’ll need much more than Apple’s cooperation.

Now that I’ve railed on Dell I need to return the favor to Apple. Well, not really, but I do wish to post about an issue I’m having simply because I haven’t found a solution, Apple read’s these posts, and a resolution is posted, I will joyfully note it for others to find.

I’m sure others have had this problem but it’s a gamble for me on if and how I plug my LED Cinema Display into my unibody MacBook Pro. This is really lame considering both have been out for months and Apple touts the simplicity of using the new display. There is a reason however, that their advertising has the macbookpro lid open and not closed, it’s really buggy. With laptop closed, when plugging in the cinema display there’s a chance that I will only get a blank screen — the laptop is alive because I’ll get sound feedback by pressing keys on the keyboard; from there, if I sleep (power button, tab key, space key), then when I wake the machine w/click or keypress, half of the time it will be frozen. The fans will light up but no more sound feedback and no video. My only course of action here is to forcefully power down the machine by holding the power button and thus, loosing any unsaved changes.

I know this is a bug between the laptop and display because I have one of each (laptop/display) at home and work and all have this problem. I would note that this would sometimes happen on the old macbook pros but those systems had the F7 key set to essentially ‘refresh displays’ and that would always resolve my problem. Now apple has changed the fn key bindings and that key is no longer available! I don’t know why they took it away because while they did add an expose button they only added ONE button for expose functionality. Needless to say I’m very glad Apple’s keyboard still has 15 functions keys.

If you’re holding out on a unibody MBP then I say keep holding out till these bugs are fixed. Aside from this issue, you *still* have to log out/log back in to change to/from “high performance” — annoying because I never know when I’d like to boot up vmware. Moreover, if you’ve got an older 15″ matte display then you’ve got a feature I personally miss (glare on the glass screens is horrible in any environment).

I really like the machine, don’t get me wrong, but my previous generation MBP would be fine [if I hadn't busted the display].

Most folks browse the web and some do so often. This creates a history which Safari conveniently stores for future reference. The feature is especially useful when you go to “History -> Show All History”.

What isn’t so useful is searching for a file and receiving thousands of results for “Safari history item”. This shouldn’t be an issue because there is an option to remove “Safari” from Search Results, however, this option fails to remove Safari history items from Spotlight search results.

To disable Spotlight from searching “Safari history item”:

  • Open System Preferences, go to Spotlight and click on Privacy pane
  • open a new Finder window
  • browse to <home> /Library/Caches/Metadata/Safari
  • Drag and drop “History” folder from Finder to Privacy pane
  • Filtering Specific Mailboxes: browse to Library/Mail/
  • Find offending .imapbox, .mbox, or any other; drag and drop onto Privacy pane

As far as I can tell you can filter many of the Spotlight searches by adding any of the folders in Library/Caches/Metadata. Here is what my Privacy settings look like:

 

Spotlight Privacy Filter

Spotlight Privacy Filter

Hopefully you made it here and didn’t see this:

failed search

As I began working this evening I realized I haven’t backed up my laptop in a few months. In fact, three months ago I backed up to a system which recently crashed. I lost data and freaked out a little and losing my laptop hard disk right now would be bad. After hearing about someone’s laptop being stolen I can’t procrastinate any longer. So what am I going to do about it?

Well, after purchasing two 500GB USB drives and a Time Capsule, I’m going to connect some cables and CLICK FOUR TIMES. Then every month I’ll CLICK FOUR TIMES, swap out one of the 500GB “archive” drives, then take the other off site. For less than $500 and 52 clicks a year I will have “secure” historical backups of my laptop.

This does NOT happen in IT.

With a business of 5-50 employees and non-Apple systems, secure offsite backups will cost anywhere from $3-30k worth of software, hardware, media, and/or bandwidth. There are valid reasons for the costs, however, once a solution is in place you maybe looking at paying for a full time employee which will cost much more than four mouse clicks.

While seemingly far-fetched, there are few differences between backing up my laptop and backing up a business; let’s keep in mind that no matter how much data is involved, the process of securely backing up, storing, and restoring data is the same. The backup life-cycle consists of transferring data to offline media, archiving, restoring, and retention. Upfront costs are typically associated with how much data you have and the recurring cost correlates with your retention and archiving policies. What a business adds in complexity is gathering data for backup, as the data may reside on multiple servers and/or desktops. The second complexity a business adds maybe proprietary software which requires additional licensing to efficiently backup data without downtime.

Unfortunately at this time there isn’t a four click backup solution for IT in small or enterprise businesses. Backups are costly and complicated. Moreover, while you can deploy Time Machine for all Macs, not every machine is a Mac and servers typically run Windows or Linux. So, while Apple has done a great job of solving the task of backups by integrating the service into their OS for free, they have not solved what is still a significantly difficult task in IT. Apple is poised for the enterprise yet continues focusing on consumers. Considering all the new avenues Apple has ventured in the last five years — Aperture, AppleTV, iPhone w/Exchange support, iLife/FinalCut/Logic, iTunes, iWork, MobileMe, Shake, and Time Machine — I have to ask myself why Apple remains out of the enterprise?

I picked up an iPhone yesterday and was rather lucky in doing so.  I learned a bit about the lines as well, which I’m sure has been blogged about enough already but I didn’t find anything with a quick google search. Moreover, my experience at the Apple store at Knox Henderson could be different than those of others or those who have opted to work with ATT.

I called the Apple store yesterday around 1815 and actually assumed they were out of stock. My question was along the lines of “Hi, do you know when you will get more phones and when I should be there to have the best chances of getting a new phone?”. To my surprise her answer was that they had phones in stock and I should arrive ASAP if I wanted one. I then kindly asked my friend, who was driving, to haul ass to the Apple store.

When I arrived there was a small line outside the Apple store. I entered the store and asked someone about the line and what I should do because I could see people holding white vouchers and I didn’t want to get in line for nothing. The associate stated they’d given out the last voucher and would be giving out no more; at this point I stated I was very disappointed would not have wasted my time if a representative on the phone had not told me there were phones in stock.

As it turns out, the vouchers were being given out because the purchase and activation process takes so long. Apple is personally selling, activating, configuring, and answering questions for EVERY SINGLE iPhone customer. As it turns out, they limited the number of vouchers because there wasn’t enough time in the day, not because they were out of stock.

I do have one suggestion. Find an Apple store in a Mall so the line outside the store is indoors and air conditioned. It got up to a lovely 103F yesterday and sweating outside isn’t much fun. We tried to buy margaritas to drink while in line but forgot it’s illegal to leave a restaurant with a drink.

Last but not least – it seems all of the ATT stores in Dallas are only fulfilling pre-orders and they are not expecting store shipments for 10-21 days (…which grew from 3-5 days)

So in conclusion, your chances of a getting a phone at this time is random, the lines are BYOB, and the wait is because of the stupid in-store-only activation process.

First of all I have to say I loathe the idea that Apple is not allowing background processes (per their documentation). Not to say Apple won’t change those provisions, but as-is, I don’t agree with disallowing background processes. On to the list (no particular order):

  1. mac worms (the kind that would spread across macs and iphones)
  2. making your iPhone a social communications device, for free
  3. p2p could be used to download and share music, for free
  4. battery life decreased more than 60 seconds
  5. turning iphone into free wifi hotspot takes away from ATT/Starbucks hot spot access
  6. cause ATT to discontinue distributing Apple revenue (due to #2, #3, #5 above)
  7. it would compete with Apple’s upcoming “iGPS”
  8. the SDK is really only for making games; Apple makes the real apps
  9. the device would be considered a weapon and be disallowed exportation
  10. iPhone can be used as a guidance control system for ballistics
Personally, I think if Apple were smart, they would realize how much running down a battery would cause folks to buy extra chargers for their car and work place. Oh well.
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