Archive for the ‘iPad’ Category

img_7298I like to peruse the blogs, ads, links, and Kickstarter for new products, and have come across a few over the years where I got in early and got a good deal.  My Thermodo for instance.  (if you are not sure what a Thermodo is check it out here.) I was hoping this little charge cable would be one of those things…. sadly, it fell short.  No pun intended.

The HandyCharger is basically a really short lightning cable for charging my iPhone/iPad.  It is meant to be kept on a keyring so you always have one handy in a jam, as long as you have your keys with you.  Sound great in theory.  But in practice, not quite ready for primetime as the saying goes.

I should have known something was off when I ordered back in april and got an email saying it could be 3 to 4 weeks to arrive due to “massive global demand” which turned into 6 weeks, with no explanation, or even a response from the manufacturer until after I had sent a few emails, and got told I would be informed when it shipped.  Gee, thanks, not even an ETA.

Fast forward to beginning of august, now almost 4 months after ordering, and I get notified it had shipped.  Apparently via rowboat from china it would seem since it took over  2 weeks after that notification for it to finally show up, and when it did, it was not as expected.

As in the email above, It should be noted, it didn’t come with a keyring, and the packaging as I noted was terrible, basically non-existent.  I showed it on a keyring to give scale to the photo and to show its intended use.  Another issue is the size of the connector that plugs into the iPhone/iPad.  Its too wide for most cases, so you either have to charge your device caseless or cut the opening in the case to allow the oversized connecto.  Yuck.

img_7297

This photo shows the packaging for it, a bubble wrap bag, not even a plastic bag inside it, or a piece of cardboard for rigidity and a little protection.  I emailed the manufacturer as you can see above, and did get a reply saying they were sorry, and to send photos of the damaged charge cable to them, but unfortunately I had already thrown out the faulty cable since it had to be held in place to actually work, and as luck would have it, the magnet on the ends of the cable that are supposed to keep it together are too weak and the darn thing fell off my keychain within a couple of days of receiving it.

Strangely, in searching around for info on the HandyCharger, I found a very similar looking product – like exactly the same looking product, by another manufacturer, InCharge.  (http://incharge.rocks/) Not sure which came first, but it makes me think the one I got is the poor rip-off version. Or maybe it did come first, but if so, the other company took the idea and did it better it seems.   At least it had packaging.  They even made a thin connector option.

handycharger-youtube incharge cable

Another thing to note is the look of the advertised product versus the actual received item.  The multi-colour cable, the actual name silkscreened onto it, etc.  Bait and switch anyone? Or just another example of a US company allowing their product to be manufactured in China and shipped direct to customer, and hoping it is done right without taking the time to inspect.

As I said, great in theory, terrible in practice.  That is my feeling on this one.  Waiting 4 months for a charge cable is ridiculous to begin with, but getting a faulty one after all that, as well as one that in my opinion is poorly constructed with respect to how it is supposed to stay together via the all-too-weak magnet, is enough for me to say stay away from this product until at least version 2.  If there is one.

PS:  I haven’t ordered an inCharge one yet, but probably will.  For one, it is cheaper, and says 2 day shipping with 6 to 10 days delivery.  So at least I won’t be waiting months to be disappointed.

barkerp

ipad proWhenever I get a new toy, I like to see how it works and try to find the flaws so there are no surprises later on. Whether it is a tech toy, or some new tool, or vehicle even, the need to see inside and figure out how it works and what its deficiencies are is always high on my priority list.

My latest toy, my iPad Pro is no exception.  As soon as the Apple Store started taking orders for it, I was logged on credit card in hand since i’d already poured over the specs, watched the keynote when it was announced, and determined I would be buying one.  Delivered to my office on Friday the 13th without having to fight the line ups or crowds in an actual store – to quote an overused TV ad – priceless.  I got to spend the morning on my bike en route to Port Dover as all friday the 13ths should be.

Speaking of fighting, I’ve fought off the urge to physically open it up (so far), but getting under the virtual hood is another thing.  Putting it thru its paces and seeing how it compares to my previous iPad is job one.

Its been a week and so far, the one thing that annoys me most is the lack of the on-screen split keyboard on the iPad Pro.  This is the one device that would really benefit from having a split keyboard, since it’s too wide to try and type on it without first sitting it down on something in order to use the full-size on-screen keyboard. The people who say it’s not necessary because it’s too large to use two-handed and type with your thumbs haven’t tried to do it obviously.  I used my iPad in landscape mode with a split keyboard all the time and this Pro version is narrower in portrait mode than the landscape mode of the iPad.  I don’t find it unwieldy at all, I just can’t reach all the keys using my thumbs and I think it would be easier to have a split keyboard than to get surgery and have my thumbs extended.  And less painful too.

From a hardware perspective, Audio on the Pro surprised me.  I expected it to be better than the mono iPad I had previously, but didn’t realize how good until I was listening to music on it without plugging in speakers like I usually do.  I’ve actually taken to just listening to music on it without external speakers.  Both volume and quality are quite good.  The new audio system in the iPad Pro has four speakers that can be cranked up reportedly three times louder than the max volume of an iPad Air, and I can believe it, but not only that, it adjusts the orientation of the high frequencies according to how you’re holding it.  Sweet.

Speedwise, this thing is noticeably quicker than my old iPad and right on par with my iPhone6 if not quicker I would say.  Hardware has a big effect on speed, but also some of that is probably the latest iOS which seems perfectly at home on here, and I finally get to use some of the great features they built into the latest iOS.

ipad pro split screen

Slide-over (shown opposite), or Split-screen mode (shown below) for instance.  Making multitasking actually work the way it should.  Depending upon the app of course, some still just pause it seems, while others continue to remain live while slide-over is active.

Slide-over lets you respond to texts easily, while showing you more of the history and not just the last message.  Very handy, and easy to use.  Just slide a finger over from the right side of the screen and you will see all the apps you have installed (that work with slide-over), and can select which one to use.  Once selected you can use it in the slide-over window, or continue to drag it towards the center of the screen and split the screen making both apps usable at the same time.

Software wise, MS Office was one group of apps I was looking forward to using on the larger screen.  As it turns out, without a valid subscription to Office 365, I’m not able to do any editing on my iPad Pro.  (notice the “read-only” on the right side of the split screen image.  That was Word letting me know that it is not going to work on the Pro for free.)  I took the time to let the people over at blogs.office.com know, but I’d bet that falls on deaf ears…

ipad pro office blogThis annoyed me, and I suppose I should have looked into this further prior to getting my Pro.  The writing was on the wall, er, well, website…

Word is ready for iPad Pro and looks amazing on the 12.9-inch screen. Read Word documents on iPad Pro for free. To create and edit docs, you need a qualifying Office 365 subscription. Try it for free for 30 days.  On iPhone, iPad Air, and iPad mini, the core Word experience, including viewing, creating and editing documents, is free. Or unlock the full Word experience with a qualifying Office 365 subscription. On iPad Pro, you need Office 365 to create and edit documents.”

 Argh.  It is annoying, but not “this-is-going-back-to-the-store” annoying.
The size is something you need to get used to, but once you do, its tough to go back to a smaller version of the iPad without feeling cramped.  I got the back cover and smart cover for it since it travels with me back and forth to the office, and they don’t add much weight or bulk to the Pro, which is good since it barely fits in my messenger bag as it is.
I ordered the Smart Keyboard when I placed my order for the Pro, but for whatever reason it is not available for 3 weeks, which seems like poor planning on Apple’s part… “You should see this, it works great, its made for it, you’ll definitely want one…. but you can’t have it for 3 weeks” – doh!  I think that accessory will change the way I use the iPad Pro, but will have to wait to see how much.  Right now I’m getting used to using it sans keyboard and have gotten pretty proficient using the onscreen keyboard while it rests in an inclined position on my desk.
With the larger screen and multi-tasking possibilities, the dust on my laptop (my trusty but getting long in the tooth MacBook Air) gets thicker and thicker as I find myself only using my iPad and iPhone of late.  The MBA rarely gets opened, and usually only to back up my idevices.  As much as I’d love to see a big update to the MBA, with the functionality and capabilities of the iPad Pro I’m not sure I’d be getting one even if they did.
This may not be the death knell for the laptop, but the bell is definitely swinging.
-barkerp

apple-supportTech breaks. It happens to us all. When it does it can be frustrating, especially so if it is something you use all the time.
That is what happened to my youngest daughters iPad Mini, the one she got for Christmas last year.  The wake/sleep button on the top got jammed in and would not pop back up.  She’d been using it for some time and honestly I’d forgotten to contact Apple about it, thinking I’d have to bring it into the store and have them look at it which, as I mentioned, is difficult since she uses it constantly.

I finally remembered to pop into the local Apple store the other night and ask.  To my surprise, they said they don’t fix them – they just replace them when the button sticks.  Crap.  I knew it was out of warranty, and I mentioned that to the Apple Store employee and he said “try calling 1-800- MYAPPLE and see what they have to say“.  I figured, what the heck, nothing to lose at this point.

I called and got thru pretty quick to an actual person after a few simple automated questions, and explained my situation.  Without even having to raise a stink I was put thru to a more senior customer support agent and talked to her briefly explaining how it was a Christmas gift from last year but was already out of warranty since it was purchased in mid-november. (serves me right for shopping early)  She basically reiterated the same comment I had heard at the Apple Store, and said she would make an exception and note it in my file and create a case number for me, then gave me the option of mailing it in for replacement or swapping it at a local store.  I was flabbergasted, and said in a store would be best I suppose, should be quicker, right?  She checked and scheduled an appointment for me at the Masonville Apple Store the next day, and sent me an email to confirm both the appointment and give me her contact info should anything go wrong or I needed further help.

I went to the store as scheduled and after explaining the situation to a Genius, he checked the broken iPad mini, filled in a quick form on his iPad which I signed, then did a factory reset/erase of the old mini, and handed me a new one.

I was and am pleasantly surprised and impressed with everyone’s service in this matter, from the initial contact with the Apple store, to Tiffani at MYAPPLE, and to the genius bar worker (I missed his name), it went as smooth as possible with little to no stress.  They didn’t have to do it, the device was clearly out of warranty, but they stepped up and replaced it anyway, making me a happy Apple customer (yet again), and my daughter thrilled to have a fully functioning iPad and be able to use the wake/sleep button again.  Although I am going to tell her to lay off the screen grabs a bit after backing up her old iPad photos and seeing the ridiculous amount of them she takes.  Between those and “selfies”, she is going to need an iPad with more storage soon.

barkerp

Magazines. The perfect reading material for a bathroom. Filled with short stories and articles, many of which take less than 2 minutes to read.  Sorta like most News sites’ articles on the web.  Which brings me to the recent practice of bringing iPads, other tablets or smart phones into the washroom/bathroom.  Sure its convenient, kinda, but sanitary?  Ewww no.  Not only that but just how safe is an electronic device in a wet environment like a washroom?

wr-ipadThe older iPhones/iPods for instance has a special piece of paper inside it to alert of exposure to water, well moisture really – but I’ll get to that in a minute.  This isn’t just with Apple products either, seems to be common place in one form or another in most cell phones from all manufacturers, and I’d have to assume tablets as well.  Some are using water-soluble materials, instead of materials that react and change colour.  Originally as a way of troubleshooting claims of dead or problematic phones that had actually been dropped into water, but recently Apple settled a lawsuit agreeing that moisture in the environment could give a false reading in older models.  Sweat, high humidity, sudden temperature change causing condensation, etc.  which would void the warranty.  Anyway, this begs the question, if the manufacturer is concerned with water and moisture affecting the electronics, why would anyone think its a good idea to use one in a washroom?

Aside from the possibility of coming in direct contact with water, lets face it, there is water everywhere in a washroom, there is the sanitary issue of carrying your device in there with you and then leaving with it afterwards.  (and no, before you ask, I didn’t just read a Howard Hughes biography).  Germs are everywhere in a washroom, just looking for a surface to cling to and will happily travel along with you when you go from the washroom into another room of the house.  Flushing a toilet for instance, spews bacteria into the air, which settles on every surface in the area, including your beloved tablet.

Hey, so now what about making dinner and using a recipe on that same iPad/tablet?

If you do feel the need to use your tablet in the washroom, you may want to invest in a waterproof cover, not only to protect the device, but also to make it sanitary.  Find one that can be wiped down with anti-bacterial wipes.  And please, don’t bring that same little touchscreen-petri-dish into the kitchen when preparing food.  Maybe invest in one device just for washroom use?  Seems a little extravagant perhaps, but so did indoor plumbing a hundred years ago.  Be a trend-setter and the envy of all your friends and neighbours.

I say, until Apple or some 3rd party developer comes up with disposable covers like the type you can get for public toilets, leave the tech outside of the washroom.  And maybe invest in a new toothbrush if you happen to leave that uncovered on the counter in your bathroom.  Eeewww.

barkerp

wiresWith more and more laptops and tablets becoming the mode we stay connected, the Ethernet cable is slowly becoming a thing of the past, especially with a recently reported 7 percent of north american consumers already dependent solely on smartphones for Internet access.  It easy to see the writing is on the wall for wired connectivity.  Add to that the slow shift from land-line telephones to cellphones, and you can see the winds of change blowing.

Those same winds are also helping to encourage workers to use their own devices at work.  The whole Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement is gaining momentum in the workplace and companies for the most part are encouraging it, seeing it as a free way to get new tech in the hands of the workers for no cost to themselves, or at least, very little cost.  That however, may be more dangerous than the corporate bean-counters are aware of.  IT needs to be aware of the situation and figure out how to best provide fast, secure, reliable wireless network access while remaining cost-effective.

Some interesting stats:  Wireless usage in the corporate environment is around 25%, and expected to be near 35% within 18 months.  Roughly half of all employees are using their own devices for business purposes, and the vast majority of those employees are using more than one device.

What this means is that right now about half of the people using their own devices are also footing the bill for their data consumption while at work, rather than connecting to the office network, but this is bound to change.  Employees will want the ability to use the corporate network, but IT will want to control the info and access to ensure security.  And rightly so.  On both parts.

Encouraging employees to work from outside the office can mean that employees are more readily accessible even during non-working hours which is a win-win for management when done with BYOD.  Wireless LAN can be a great way to encourage employees to work from anywhere within the office, and even from outside the office if a secure connection to the corporate network can be established, but it needs to be secure and monitored and limited.

The change is coming, make sure you and your company network is ready for it.  Wireless connectivity is soon to be a must have in any office, and VPN is not far behind.  Security is the most important part of the puzzle but hot on its heels so to speak is the need for a fast connection without bandwidth limits, and IT needs to spend the money now to prepare and get it in place ahead of the need rather than trying to retroactively address the situation.

It seems fitting to end with a quote from the man who pioneered electronic communication as we know it today, Alexander Graham Bell,… “before anything else, preparation is the key to success“.

-barkerp