Back up your Mac, please? My thoughts on HP dropping WebOS tablets and phones and exiting the PC business. Dorothy reviews In-Flight GoGo wifi to listen to the live NosillaCast from 28,000 feet on USAir, Jans describes his use of the HUAWEI E5 MiFi to avoid high data costs when traveling abroad. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Rod Simmons of the Simple Mobile Review Podcast joins us to talk about Windows Phone 7.
Hi this is Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Mac Podcast, hosted at Podfeet.com, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias. Today is Sunday August 28th, 2011 and this is show number 327. Well I don’t know about you guys, but I LOVED the Katie hijack show. I liked her reviews, the reviews you guys sent in, and really enjoyed Chit Chat Across the Pond with Bart, even if she did tease me a bit. I think one of the things I really like about having someone else do the show is hearing them say how hard it is to do all the plate spinning that I do! It was absolutely grand to have the week off, I have to tell you. As much as I love doing the show, it was so relaxing to not have it in the back of my mind when I was playing that I should be working on it. I especially noticed it on the weekend when we were home, and I simply goofed around all weekend. it was glorious!
On Thursday afternoon, my friend Nancy got a desperate call from her brother. He’d tried to boot up his Mac, but that wasn’t happening. I want you to close your eyes (unless you’re driving of course) and put yourself in Doug’s place. Imagine that sick feeling in your gut, when that realization that your wife is never going to forgive you because all of the family photos and videos might be gone. As if this nightmare isn’t bad enough, imagine that you’d JUST gotten backup religion and bought an external hard drive but hadn’t had time to actually run a backup. That’s what Doug went through Thursday night.
Why am I telling you this horror story? So that you’ll get off your lazy butt and start backing up, that’s why! You could be in Doug’s shoes. You know, in the old days there were reasons to put off backing up. It was hard. It was cumbersome. It was nerve wracking because you had no idea whether it even worked, because the old backup programs stored the data in some kind of idiotic proprietary format where you couldn’t tell if it was working or not. Nowadays it’s easy. it’s TRIVIALLY easy. Buy a drive 2-3X the size of the drive you need to back up, and plug it in. Seriously, that’s it. When you plug it in, the Mac operating system will ask you if you want to use it as a backup drive through Time Machine. That’s it. Say yes. What POSSIBLE excuse could you have to not do this? You don’t really care about your photos? your videos? your files of any sort? Really? I thought so, you DO care. So buy a darn backup drive, spend $50-100, and plug it in! p.s. Doug got REALLY lucky, Apple was able to pull his hard drive and get the data back. But you WON’T be that luck. Ok, < /lecture >
HP & WebOS
So a rather big tech news story hit while I was gone – HP dumping their tablet, their phones, and potentially the entire PC business. I don’t watch TV news very often, but while we were in Mammoth Steve had it on and I about fell over I was so shocked at the news. Just this May Steve and I were at All Things D where we heard Leo Apotheker talk about WebOS as the future of the company. He said that WebOS would be their tablet OS, their phone OS, their computer OS, and it would be in every printer over $100. Unless they change their minds and decide to dump the phones and the tablets. Remember something else odd he said? He explained that he has sheltered the WebOS team from the rest of the company, that he doesn’t have them work with the other parts of the company. I wonder why he did that after all? Maybe so they wouldn’t see it coming when he discontinued everything they were working on…well except for printers of course, THAT’S still exciting.
But wait, they also said that they’re “exploring strategic opportunities” around their personal devices devision. That’s French for “we’re selling off the PC business”. You may be thinking HP is the biggest PC manufacturer in the world – how could they just walk away from that? That was my first reaction too, but the more I read about the PC business, the more I think Apotheker is actually making a brilliant move. According to the Wall Street Journal, the PC business at HP brought in $9.59 billion in revenue, which is about a third of the total revenue of the company, but it only had an operating margin of 5.4% in 2010. The entire company combined has an operating margin of 11.7%. That business is a boat anchor, and it’s pulling the ship down as the even the revenue is declining year over year.
Now if all Apotheker did was dump a third of the business, that might be kind of dopey, but at the same time he was coming out with this huge announcement, they also bought UK firm Autonomy, which is the second largest software company in Europe, second only to SAP from Germany. This company is much higher up the food chain, working to help companies analyze business data. That’s a cash cow right there. It’s a bold move, and it reflects one more thing that he said at All Things D – he said that you’ll see a completely different HP in a couple of years.
It appears prospective buyers for the HP business are oversees, which means there will only be two PC companies left in the US – Dell and Apple. In any case these will sure be interesting times.
I was really excited that SAI’s Business Insider actually used one of MY photos of Leo Apotheker at All Things D this year (I had it on Flickr with a Creative Commons license). Pretty chuffed about it! Read the Business Insider article here.
I get so many lovely emails from you guys – telling me how much fun the show is and how much you enjoy the time we have together. I just love this. It means SO much to me, and it’s what actually gives me the rush to keep this going for all these years. there’s something else you could do for the show though if you have the time. I’d love it if you’d go out to iTunes and make a comment about the show. Like Leon Sargent who wrote,
Allison, your ever so slight Macintosh bias makes for a great Podcast as it covers lots of topics and platforms and your wit and straight forward no holds approach to what you do is fun and refreshing for every week I have an idea of what I am going to get for topic coverage but never in what way you are going to critique it. Makes for great listening!”
Now THAT’S what I call a review. Now remember you don’t have to say nice things – say what you really think. If you’ve got constructive criticism, go ahead and put it in there. Listen to this one from Sandro Cuccia to see what I mean:
Although I find the host a bit on the obnoxious side (even though she’s an engineer, she often struggles with simple concepts, and she revels in her refusal to read technical documentation). The content of this podcast is always top notch. I have purchased, and enjoyed several products over the years based on the host’s recommendations. Mostly, I tune in to wait for a regular to most episodes – Bart Busschots of Ireland. This fellow IT professional keeps me informed of many things technical and puts up with the host’s annoying ways. He is an accomplished photographer as well.
And then Sandro gave the show 5 stars! Everyone is entitled to their opinion, right?You may not realize this but having comments and lots of them is what pushes a podcast to the top of the charts, which in turns gets more listeners to the show. Thanks for your help on this!
Now let’s listen in on a review from Dorothy, aka @MacLurker.
GoGo Review by Dorothy aka @MacLurker
I thought I’d provide some more info on my WiFi at 28,000 ft experience.
First the problem to be solved: How to join the Nosillacast live while jetting across the country. Last week I tried to explain to Allison why I would not be there for the live chat on Friday, Aug. 12. She refused to accept my excuse that being at 28,000 feet would preclude my participating. In the middle of all this debate, Steve jumped in and suggested “wi-fi in the air”. I had never heard of this, but a bit of research about my flight revealed that Wi-fi was available. I borrowed my husband’s Macbook Pro, installed some software, and ran a quick test Thursday night. Thanks Allison and @dscchipman for helping me check it out. All was ready.
First some background information:
USAir provides WiFi in the air via Gogo In Air Online (www.gogoair.com). The cost is $12.95 for 24 hours of access (you can log in and out as often as you want during your flight) or $39.95 for a month of unlimited access with auto renewal for all you frequent flyers. You can “buy before you fly” via their web-site. Currently the 24-hour access is 25% off through Labor Day. I opted for the 24-hour access.
About 30 minutes before the live broadcast, I turned on my MacBook Pro and used the System Preferences to locate the Gogo wifi network on the airplane. Once I connected and started up Firefox, I was connected to the Gogo website which described the cost and payment options.
I provided payment and set up a login with user name and password. Then I proceeded to the Nosillacast live web-site and started up Colloquy for the chat. However the audio was a bit more problematical.
I have to say that, over all, the experience was somewhat underwhelming. The Colloquy chat worked OK, but was a bit bursty. In fact, the chat on the Nosillacast live web-site updated before the Colloquy window did.
I decided to do audio only, not trusting the video to work under the circumstances. That was the right decision, as you will see. First I tried the “Audio Only Stream” link. That worked great. For about 5 minutes. Then I couldn’t get it to bring in any more audio. All I got was the podcast intro over and over. Plus it kept turning itself off.
So I switched to “Listen in iTunes”. That worked somewhat better, except that iTunes kept stopping to re-buffer and then would time out. I’d be listening to Allison’s dulcet tones when iTunes would decide the audio feed was done and jump abruptly to the next item in the iTunes playlist (“Never Been Any Reason” by Head East, if you’re wondering). I would select the Nosillacast again, catch up to Allison (having now missed several seconds), listen some more, only to have it time-out again. After about 10-15 minutes of this and having completely lost track of what Allison was talking about, I gave up on the audio altogether. However I hung in there with the chat for most of the cast until the laptop batteries starting running low. Not having the audio (or video) meant I was missing a lot in any case.
These problems were not unexpected, given the nature of the connection. But it was annoying enough. Maybe there is a better way to configure things that I simply did not have time to find out. I’ve talked with other people who have used this service and they have reported similar limitations.
In summary, having wi-fi in the air is a neat idea as long as your expectations aren’t too high. It’s good for checking email, chatting or tweeting, and checking out web-sites. It’s not so good for streaming audio or downloading large files. Hope this is helpful. Thanks.
Well Dorothy, I think you win a prize for the most dedication to the live show. I’m glad to see badgering by Steve will get you to go to such great lengths. That’s what we like to see in a good NosillaCastaway.
Smile and BlueMango Learning
Are you that smarmy kid from elementary school who won the spelling bee every year? Or are you a typical geek who found learning to spell and all that a big drag when there was math and science to be learned? If all the other reasons I’ve told you that you need TextExpander haven’t hit a chord yet, I’m betting the lack of a spelling gene might do the trick. TextExpander has 112 auto correct words already built into the software. Not enough for you? Click the little plus sign in the bottom left, and you can add the TidBITSAutoCorrect set which gets you ANOTHER 2479 commonly misspelled words. You’d have to REALLY go out of your way to misspell a word with that many auto-corrects just waiting for you. This is a great way to keep your writing professional without having to actually waste any brain power on such a trivial matter as spelling.
I downloaded the TidBITS auto correct set and I’ve really been enjoying how incredibly lazy I’m able to be on that whole typo issue. However, I ran into one little problem. I tried to go to the Wall Street Journal Web site, which you can get to by going simply to wsj.com. Unfortunately some people evidently misspell the word “was” by accidentally missing the “a” and just typing “ws”. So every time I tried to type wsj, it would auto correct to “was” before I could get the j in there. When you think about it, how many people ever write wsj vs. mess up spelling?
So anyway, I was trying to figure out how to deal with this and rather than, you know, read the instructions, I wrote to Jean MacDonald of Smile. Jean is AMAZING, she is so helpful! Anyway, you’re going to love what Jean did in response. She launched Clarify from ScreenSteps to make a quick instruction for me on how to change my TidBITS dictionary! How’s that for killing two birds with one stone? Jean launched the public beta of Clarify from bluemangolearning.com/clarify
, walked through how to modify my snippets to solve my problem, taking quick screenshots along the way, threw in a few annotations to point with arrows where I should pay attention, put ovals around some important things to note, and even typed some text on the images like “delete me!” and “edit me!” She put a few words of explanation before each screenshot and then clicked the Share button. That posted her quick explanation to the clarify-it Web site, and gave her a url to send to me. I put her Clarify explanation in the shownotes so you could see how simple it is. In those few minutes she was able to quickly and easily show me exactly what I needed to do.
If you help people (and I’m betting all of you do), you really should give the Clarify public beta a shot like Jean did – make yourself happy!
Back to Smile though, I haven’t given you my stats lately – with TextExpander I have expanded 7300 snippets, for a total of just under 200,000 characters saved! Just think of the efficiency! at 60 words per minute, that’s almost 11 HOURS of my time saved. Here’s an idea, figure out how much you make an hour, and divide that into the measly $35 for TextExpander from the Mac App Store. How many hours would you have to save before it would be worth it to you? Not very many I’m guessing! I put a link to the Mac App Store in the shownotes so WHEN you go ahead and buy it for all your Macs, be sure to use that link to help out the show!
Jans Travel Setup when traveling abroad
Jans Roeber is back with another review. I’ve done reviews of quite a few MiFi’s (mobile wireless hotspots) but he’s solving a different problem that makes his choices different than mine. Let’s have a listen.
You may imagine that, when europeans travel, they easily hit a country’s boarder and so may accidentally run into high roaming charges. In order to prevent me from such hazards I have decided to disable “Data Roaming” on the iPhone.
But how can I get mail, tweets, text etc.?
What I did is buying a so called MiFi which is nothing but a wireless HotSpot on 3G Basis that is not linked to any ISP by a SIM- or Netlock at all.
I chose the HUAWEI E5 that is now only 100€ and decided to buy local Mobile Data prepaid Plans when traveling abroad. In Australia you can get 1 GB of download volume for just 15$AUS without any bureaucratical issues thru VirginMobile f.e.
Once the MiFi is started up, it creates a WiFi Hotspot of approx. 5Meters(16ft) diameter that you can log on with up to 5 devices.
The APN is configurable from the iPhone or the iPad and the iPod touch as well though a browser Interface. This is essential after you plugged in the local SIM since all providers have different APNs. I highly recommend to disable the PIN Protection of the SIM module as well, because it is very inconvenient on an iDevice and the risk is limited to the pre-charged amount of money. You can set up your own SSID and Password.
The MiFi itself has a Battery Life of 4 hrs. Since this is not enough for a whole day it is very important that it is chargeable thru USB. The HUAWEI E5 Charges at 1.000mA like the iPhone, so I could use a external Battery Pack like the “Just Mobile Pro Portable Battery Pack” (39€ thru Amazon) that is carrying 4.000mAh which is approx. 4 times the capacity of the MiFi battery and so worth some 20hrs of Internet access in total. the connection of these 2 devices is made via Mini-USB to USB cable, that can also be used to charge both, MiFi and Battery Pack by a standard USB wall charger.
Since I usually walk around with a backpack or a shoulder bag on vacation, there is no problem to become a mobile walking hotspot, since the weight of the total setup is aprox. 0,25kg(0,5lbs). The mobile Battery Pack can also be used for charging the iDevices except iPad and to extend the battery life of the iPhone while no car based navigation such as hiking, cycling, geo-caching.
Last but not least, the setup is far better than data roaming, since you can also download data files bigger than your iPhone ISP allows, since the iPhone reacts like being in a local WiFi network. So you can also listen to the Nosillacast Podcast while being abroad.
Why don’t all listeners to this podcast provide information for the others, which ISP sells mobile 3G/4G access at which price in which country, so we can all exchange these informations for our next travel. I might be traveling to the US in November; Tell me, Allison, which provider should I choose?
Thanks Jans – this is one of those items that the NosillaCastaways can definitely help with. I know Pat Mahon has done this very thing in the US, and I’m sure other NosillaCastaways know the best carriers. My problem is that I’ve been in the world of buying a device that’s locked. I like the idea of being able to do a prepaid plan instead when in a foreign country. I know Verizon has the best coverage on average, but it’s one of those “your mileage may vary” things so looking at coverage maps is a great idea before you choose. I also can’t remember which of the ISPs use SIM cards – it seems that one of the big ones does and one doesn’t. I think it might be that AT&T and T-Mobile use SIM cards and Verizon doesn’t? Or do I have that wrong? Like I said, let’s hope one or more of the NosillaCastaways sends in an audio answer to your question instead of relying on my limited knowledge?
Rod Simmons said: “Both AT&T and TMobile use SIM cards
AT&T has the plan below but you have to go to a store and by a MiFi SIM they say. I don’t get the difference in the SIMs but that is what they tell me. Data Connect Pass – 500MB $50. T-Mobile does not have a pre-paid data plan. Cricket Does not offer a plan but there are several other small players like Simple Mobile but I have not checked with everyone.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
Rod Simmons of the Simple Mobile Review Podcast joins us to talk about Windows Phone 7:
Interesting Article on ZDNet Today about WP7 being the most stable phone OS
What is nice about the Windows Phone Experience? How does this compare to iOS
- A departure away from an icon based UI of IOS (IE Live Tiles)
- iOS has some level of a live icon for apps like Calendar, weather. WP7 uses Live Tiles as almost a hybrid between an icon based UI and widgets you see on Android.
- Information at a glance (Unique to Mango) a me tile that tells you things like you have x pending notifications or have been tagged in a photo.
- The tiles can be simply informative like telling the weather
- Tiles can be personal cycling through your photos both online and in the camera roll
- Quick access to several important contacts or a contact group
- The concept of sliding panels of the metro UI give a perception of the phone being larger than it really is. IE rather then clicking a small button to advance to the next page like on IOS you slide the screen to advance the the next panel. It is almost like the UI is on a globe as if you advance far enough you end up where you started
- There are tons of efficiency built into the OS for navigation such as
- Navigation through long alphabetical lists (IOS uses a alphabetical slider) (WP7 uses a separator that is support taps)
- Functional lock screen showing things like Current song & Album art, Next meeting, message notification, Quick access to camera,
- Within iOS you have a hard separation between app and phone with WP7 the concepts of hubs is a fantastic solution to blur the lines and unify the experience
- Numbers dialed from a GAL (Global Address List ) lookup or built in bing search maintains the person or company name when calling. For example find the Tabu Grill in Laguna Beach will maintain in the call history you called Tabu Grill vs 949-494-7743
- Custom EMail Signature for each account
- Number of unread messages since you last entered email folder vs total number of unread messages like on all other platforms
Topic 2 – What’s a Hub in WP7?
Windows Phone 7 creates an unrivaled set of integrated experiences on a phone through Windows Phone hubs. Hubs bring together related content from the Web, applications and services into a single view to simplify common tasks. Windows Phone 7 Series includes six hubs built on specific themes reflecting activities that matter most to people:
What are the Default Hubs in WP7 including Mango?
Pictures you have native on your device or have published online. Additionally pictures published online by friends. Sources can be Facebook, SkyDrive, or LinkedIn
Music & Video Hub
This is for your Zune Music experience but 3rd party apps can also extend the experience in any Hub. Like Slacker, SkyDrive, YouTube (Videos are linked), Tune In Radio (Stations are in the history view),
Messaging (New to Mango)
Somewhat new for Mango but it give you a consolidated experience for chatting with friends on networks. Like Live Messenger, FaceBook, SMS.
Android Battery App
How to get more battery life out of your android phone
I hope to trick Rod into coming back on the show – we had a BLAST! we talked for another half hour after we stopped recording we were having so much fun. He and Chris asked me if I’d be on the Simple Mobile Review podcast some time and I of course said I’d love to. I hope you’ll check out his show, especially the one with the Microsoft guy Brandon Watson – it’s great fun! And you can follow Rod on Twitter at @RodSimmons
That’s going to wind this up for this week, many thanks to our sponsors for helping to pay the bills: ScreenSteps, and Smile. Don’t forget to send in your Dumb Questions, comments and suggestions by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on twitter at twitter.com/podfeet, and make some comments on iTunes! If you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to podfeet.com/live on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific Time. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.