Early review of the buying experience of the iPad, early impressions, accessories and apps. Unboxing video made by Steve at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDtdX9EKFNc. Katie Floyd of Mac Power Users reviews Quicken Essentials from quicken.intuit.com and Elliott Bowles of video.elliottmediagroup.com reviews the Shure SM-58 Microphone from shure.com. In Chit Chat Across the Pond we go through all the usual suspects on Security Lite, and then Bart answers a dumb question about security on internet cafe machines, and winds it up with a review of the Itsy Twitter client for OSX from mowglii.com/itsy/
Listen to the Podcast Once (1hr 10 min)
Today is Sunday April 4th, 2010 and this is show number 253. Well you can just guess what I’m going to talk about today – the iPad. I think I’ve done a swell job of not talking about a non-existent device, or a device we knew was coming but couldn’t touch, so I’m afraid now that I have one in my hot little hands you’ll have to indulge me. the GOOD news is that three lovely listeners sent in reviews of their own so I’ll break up the iPad frenzy with some listener content that’s iPad-free. Katie Floyd brings us a thoughtful review of the newly released Quicken Essentials for Mac, Elliott Bowles tells us about his use of the Shure SM-58 microphone and of course Chit Chat Across the Pond will also be iPad-free! But first, let’s talk about the iPad, shall we?
Getting the iPad
First let’s talk about getting the iPad. I had to have it on day one, but I have to have the 3G iPad. The only way I could think of to arrange this was I bought the Wifi-only model on day one, and I’ve prearranged with a dear friend of mine to sell it to her for a significant discount when the 3G model comes out. It’s win-win for both of us and since we negotiated the deal ahead of time we’re both very happy. Basically I’m renting it from her for 30 days so I’m not allowed to drop, scratch, mutilate or drown it or the deal is off.
I went for the “reserve” option on the iPad so that I could control what time I got the device. I knew I’d go out of my mind sitting home all day waiting for the UPS guy to show up. Steve and I got up at 6am on Saturday morning so we could get to the gym by 7 when it opened and over to the Apple store by about 8:20. Before we left the house we debated whether to wear shorts or pants, and boy did we guess wrong! My overwhelming memory of buying the iPad will forever be how COLD it was! I was so cold by the time we got in the store that my hand was shaking so bad I could barely sign the receipt.
When we first got in line the Apple people jumped to our aid to mark my hand because we had reservations. That way the unreserved could be in line with us, but when it came to the final entry we got to go in ahead of them – thank goodness for that. Once we got into the store it was pretty quick – except for all of the accessory decsions.
Now originally I thought I wanted the iPad dock/keyboard combo but luckily I saw Any Ihnatko’s video on MacBreak Weekly first where he explained how ungainly that combo keyboard actually is. In order to make the dock part strong enough to hold up the iPad vertically it’s pretty tall, which makes the combo unit a weird annoying shape. We have a bluetooth keyboard already so then I figured I’d just get the dock alone. But then I was thinking about the iPad case by Apple, and it turns out it sort of stands the iPad up anyway. So for the time being I just went with the case.
Steve made a video of our unboxing experience so I embedded it in the shownotes for your viewing pleasure.
I also bought the Kensington mini-iPad car adapter. They explained to me that the car chargers for iPods and iPhones wouldn’t work, but if I bought this one for the iPad, it’s backwards compatible for the iPhone and iPod. The reason I chose this particular adapter is that it basically gives you a USB port flush to the cigarette lighter hole thingy. My one fear is I’ll never get it out of the hole though so I’ve been too chicken to try it!
I guess it’s time to take a break from the iPad madness don’t you think? don’t worry, I’ll be back to bother you about it soon enough.
Quicken by Katie Floyd
For now let’s listen to Katie Floyd of MacPowerusers as she gives us an in depth review of the new version of Quicken for the Mac. You can read her review over on her blog at katiefloyd.me/quickenessentials/
Thanks so much Katie for a great review. I like the way you gave us such good depth on the product, explained how you personally use it and what’s important to you in how you use the product. In this kind of software it’s really important to frame the problem you’re solving because your needs might be something completely different from the next guy. I’d love it if you come on the show again some time!
So Easy Your Mom can Do It
Last week I challenged you to help me understand why people constantly say “It’s so easy your mother could do it.” I got the BEST response from Kirschen, she simply tweeted, “got a good saying… “The iPod Touch… So simple my mum (who has one) could teach *you* how to use it…” :)” Isn’t that awesome??? I think that’s my new favorite line and I WILL find a way to work that into conversation.
This week I called my mom for a chat (to review, she’s turning 90 this year and she’s blind) and she starts talking about the iPad with me. Then she asked me to explain to her exactly what the Kindle is. We chatted about that for a while and then she told me about a new gadget she’s got her heart set on. She went to a disabilities expo recently and saw a gadget that you hold over a piece of paper, it takes a picture, and immediately begins reading it to you. She said that if it’s halfway through reading and the phone rings, you wave your hand under the lens and it stops reading. Come back from the call and it wave your hand under and it picks up right where you left off. I’d sure love to see one of these things so I hope she gets it!
So this is weird, my mom’s 90, had four children, and yet she’s highly capable with technology! How could that possibly be? Tell me YOUR stories and what you think about this, ok? and if you need help with your iPod Touch, we’ll have Kirschen’s mum come over and help you out.
It’s been fun this week talking to a few folks about how they’re starting to tell their employers about ScreenSteps. Only a short demo and their bosses are ready to shell out the money for a five-pack where you get 15% off the purchase. One listener is doing experiments on how to keep the library on a server so that all of the employees with licenses can work on documents, even if it’s only one at a time. He checked with the ScreenSteps guys to see if it was possible, and of course they sent him to their ScreenSteps Live account to see the online documentation of exactly how to do just that. The creative uses for the best documentation tool I’ve ever seen are endless. I know I’m a fanboy of this software, but have you ever heard me gush more about an application? That’s why I asked the ScreenSteps guys to pay me to advertise for them because they were getting all this gushing for free before! If they ever start slipping I think I would ask to stop our advertising arrangement because I couldn’t honestly write such testimonials every week if I didn’t really feel it. If you’d like to make your life easier at work and at home in creating beautiful documentation of computer-based activities, then head over to ScreenSteps.com and be sure to use my coupon code NOSILLA for 25% off the purchase price of ScreenSteps Desktop.
iPad First Thoughts
Ok, break time is over, let’s talk about early impressions of the iPad. My first thought was, “wow, that’s heavy.” I guess because it’s so thin you don’t expect it to be that heavy. It’s only 1.5 pounds, but it feels very dense. I found that once I folded it up in the Apple case I was able to put it in more comfortable positions. the Apple case is fairly cheesy but it also doesn’t add much weight or bulk at all to the device so I’m liking it more and more. It folds to an angle so it’s easier to type on than when it’s flat on the table.
Speaking of typing, it’s actually rather pleasant, at least in the landscape format. I don’t find myself actually touch typing, but it feels natural to use three fingers on my right hand and one on the left. I’ll be curious to see if I start to use more fingers over time. If I learned one thing from the iPhone, it’s that if you give it some time you’ll get the hang of typing on a touch screen.
If you’re wondering if the iPad touchscreen gets fingerprints on it – that’s a resounding YES. It also collects dust pretty easily so i think one of those nice soft cloths they give you with a pair of glasses would be an essential companion. If you’ve got stuff going on screen you’ll not notice the fingerprints though – it’s only really annoying when the screen is turned off. I guess that’s just like the iPhone.
I realized partly through the weekend that I was really concentrating on things that bugged me while completely taking for granted what’s amazing about the iPad. The screen is gorgeous. Video looks amazing on it. Twitter is a delight – and definitely better than either the iPhone or on a Mac or PC. Some how the ability to fly around on the screen with your hands feels much more intuitive than working with a mouse, and of course the screen size beats the iPhone.
Photo galleries are just as fun and beautiful as they promised. What I’m amazed by is how fast the pictures render. there’s zero delay at all – no point where they look low res or anything like that, just instant gratification. One fairly un-advertised feature of the iPad is that it can be a photo frame. I assumed you’d do that from within the photo application, but it’s way cooler than that. turn on the iPad, don’t unlock it – and there’s a new button on screen – touch it and a slideshow starts of your images! That way you can just turn it on and go.
Now let’s think about what this means in terms of the value of the iPad. let’s add up the cost of each thing the iPad does if you were to buy each product on it’s own:
- 9.7″ photo frame: $100
- eBook Reader – $230 if you buy the Sony Reader PRS-505
- 9.7″ video player: $40
- high capacity mp3 player: $75
- Large screen GPS Device with turn by turn directions: $200
- Portable gaming device like the PSP Go: $250
- Throw in another $100 for any device to access the internet
Now to be fair with the GPS portion of the equation I’ll have to submit the price of the low end 3G model of the iPad, so that’s $630. Adding together all those individual devices would be $995. Now let’s assume I’m exaggerating the cost of the individual devices here which is certainly possible, but you have to admit that at the very least the device is worth the $630 purchase price, don’t you think?
On that note, let’s take another break and .have a listen to Elliott Bowles of the Elliott Media Group tell us about the SM-58 microphone.
Elliott on the Shure SM-58 Mic
Hi Allison, it’s Elliott here from The Elliott Media Group show ready to talk about a new piece of equipment I recently picked up. First the problem: I have a new ZI-8 videocamera, which I love by the way, but the microphone on it isn’t the best in the world. While its fine for close range recording in quiet environments, trying to use it in a busy or noisy setting would be quite tricky and produce less than desired results.
So I decided I would go out and pick up a Shure SM-58 Microphone. This, by the way, is the mic I am using right now to record this segment. The Mic sells for less than $100, and produces what I think is pretty respectable directional audio. The directional sound is nice because it isolates everything that is around the microphone, except for what’s right in front of it.
As the ZI-8 has a microphone port on the side, I connect the mic with an XLR-to 1/4 jack cable, and then a 1/4 to 1/8 inch adapter. This produces as pretty nice sound that records straight into the camera, eliminating the need for a separate recording device when filming out on the road. Connecting to my MacBook has proved to be a little trickier.
As my computer has only a line-level input, I cannot plug the microphone directly in. Instead, I use my Griffin iMic usb input adapter as a means of connecting the mic-level 1/8 inch plug from the microphone to a usb port on my computer. This does produce a somewhat annoying hiss, but I was able to remove most of the remnants of this in GarageBand with a lo-pass filter.
Allison told me I could use a device called the Icicle, by Blue Microphones, which is an XLR-to USB adapter and preamp, to eliminate the hissing problem as well. Bottom line, I am very happy with this Mic. I am sure it will come in handy in my YouTube endeavors, as well as next year at MacWorld expo, where I am sure I will be doing some product interviews!
You can now find The Elliott Media Group show in multiple places, including YouTube, iTunes, Blip.tv, and the blog at video.elliottmediagroup.com. Thanks Allison, now back to the show.
Thanks Elliott – that sounds really fun. I love the idea of optimizing grocery shopping – especially useful for people like Steve and I who eat the same set of meals every week!
Time for more iPad talk now don’t you think? Let’s shift focus now to applications. The iBooks app is pretty darn beautiful. I love to just sit there flipping the pages back and forth, so very pretty. I show it in the unboxing video if you want to see it. Unfortunately I set a goal for my first eBook experience to buy the book Boiling Point by Tom Merritt from CNET, and the iBooks Store didn’t have it. Undaunted I downloaded the free Kindle app and they had the book I wanted – and for $5! I’m not terribly impressed by the Kindle app – the paragraphs in the book don’t indent at all so it’s a little hard to read, and doesn’t have the good animation of the page turn. Get’s the job done though – and gives you three options for the color – white, sepia, or black with white text, and five font sizes to choose from. I played with fonts on the iBooks app too and you can get it pretty big, but if you’ve got severe visual impairment like my mom it’s not going to big enough.
Apple oddly included a hardware switch to lock the rotation of the iPad so you can read books lying on your side, or I suppose surfing the web, looking at photos – all that on your side. I say oddly because it’s another button and you know how Steve feels about those buttons! I told Kyle about it and he mentioned how many times he’s wished the iPhone had that feature.
I downloaded and installed the Wall Street Journal app with great anticipation. I subscribe to the online and paper versions of the Wall Street Journal, and I was hoping to replace both with the iPad version. First of all, the paper version is around $300 a year unless it’s a gift, and I seem to think it was about 15% on top of my paper version. The wsj app for iPad is going to run $18 a month I think, which is a little over $200 a year so that would actually save me money. I’m willing to pay for this because I really like much of the journalism in tech sections of the paper.
But I was really disappointed with the iPad app for the Wall Street Journal. first of all they show you the top half of the front page. Your instinct would be to flip up on the screen to see the rest, but that sends you to the next section of the paper, very counterintuitive that you have to flick your hand to the left to get the next part of that section. I guess if you think of the page you’re seeing as the ENTIRE page, then flipping it like a paper makes sense. Gotta turn my brain a bit for that I guess. About every 4th page was an ad as I flipped through and I guess I can live with that, even though I AM giving them $200 a year to read this. But then they did the absolute show stopper. There was a POP UP AD! I am not kidding you. I sat there stunned, how could they be that out of touch? I quit the app immediately and haven’t gone back.
Now on the Mac Roundtable #81 that came out today we decided that we’re going to spend time right now voicing our opinions to developers on how they can improve since they never had an iPad to actually work with, and at 60 days we’ll start to declare thumbs up or thumbs down in ernest. So Wall Street Journal, take note – FIX THIS.
One last note on the iPad, and all puns intended here, we actually used it as a music player on saturday night while we played cards. The high frequencies are a bit harsh but it was a pleasant experience to put it on shuffle and just jump a song when we got bored or annoyed. Now of course I didn’t think of this myself, my daughter Lindsay thought it might be a cool idea. The speaker is pretty loud which is great, and if you need to mute it, just hold down the toggle on the side and it very quickly starts to quiet and then jumps to mute. Well done Apple.
Ok, that will now end the iPad frenzy (for today).
We have four cars – all Hondas and Acuras. Now I’ve never billed Steve and I as being high on imagination and change, but there’s a reason for this – it’s because if we ever bought a different kind of car, we’d have to find a second mechanic. Seriously, we’ve had one mechanic since we started driving. Ok, technicall Steve drove a ’53 Chevy in high school that his dad gave him but ever since we’ve been in charge of the car-buying decisions it’s been all Honda Motor Company all the way. If you’d like to feel this loyal to your mechanic, and if you live in the LA or Orange County areas, give Honda Bob a call at (562)531-2321 or send him an email at email@example.com. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
- Mozilla Patch the Pwn2Own bug in FireFox 3.6 with FireFox 3.6.3-http://www.mozilla.org/security/announce/2010/mfsa2010-25.html
- Record breaking security update from Apple – OS X10.6.3/Security Update 2010-002 –http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4077
- Apple releases security update for QuickTimehttp://support.apple.com/kb/HT4104
- Microsoft release out-of-band IE patch – http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms10-018.mspx
- More problems for PDF – flaw in Reader allows attackers to social engineer users into executing arbitrary code – things are even WORSE for Foxit users, where the code just executes! –http://www.macworld.co.uk/digitallifestyle/news/index.cfm?RSS&NewsID=3219105
- Facebook accidentally make everyone’s email address public for 30 minutes! –http://www.pcworld.com/article/193009/facebook_flub_leaks_private_email_addresses.htm
- Bart has had enough – wants out
- Not so easy! Facebook want you to just “deactivate” your account
- Could not find out how to delete, so I contacted the Data Protection Commissioners of Ireland who were good enough to point to the very well hidden proceedure for actually leaving FaceBook – direct link: https://ssl.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account
- In that very long document search for the phrase “Deactivating or deleting your account“
- In that section there is a link to a support page that allows you to deactivate your account
- It will ask your for your password and a CAPTCHA – then it will schedule your account for deletion in 14 days. There appears to be no way to hurry this along, and if you log in once in that period, the deletion is cancelled.
- This experience cements my view that FaceBook are evil. To me it’s clear as day that this company wants all your data and never wants to give it up. Privacy is something they abhor and only do the absolute least the law and public opinion allows.
Here is my problem:
I would like to login into my router from an internet cafe, but I am afraid of keyloggers.
Now the question: Can a keylogger be spoofed by changing the input order of the password within the entry field, eg. type the last 4 letters, move the mouse pointer to the beginning of the entry field, click, enter the first 4 letters of the password?
- No – only the dumb ones. Many modern key loggers take screen shots around the mouse each time you click. Also, malware can intercept the password within the browser, rather than from your key presses.
- It is IMPOSSIBLE to be safe on a machine controlled by strangers. If you have to use an internet cafe never do anything even remotely sensitive. And when at all possible, use your own hardware. iPhones are great for this.
Main Topic – review of Itsy Twitter Client for OS X
Also consider Echofon at http://echofon.com/ for Mac, iPhone and Firefox Extension
I sure had a fun weekend with all the iPad goodness – if you’re in another part of the world and were denied this joy I’m sorry about all the US-centric glee. Shame on Apple for promising and not delivering on that promise. Hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought if you’re in the decision point on whether to buy the iPad or not, and perhaps some were able to live vicariously through my tweets, videos and this show. If you’d like to send in any questions, comments, suggestions, and of course the ever important Dumb Questions, send them over to firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh – and send in audio reviews too – I love it when you do the work for me! Be sure to follow me on twitter at twitter.com/podfeet and check out Steve’s Twitters too – he’s actually frequently more interesting than I am: twitter.com/spsheridan. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.