my thoughts on the iPad

A lot of the articles I’ve read talk about the iPad as a ‘game changer’. I can’t list each individual article, but I like to visit Hacker News and Techmeme for quick snapshots. My dislike for AAPL aside, I have to agree. For me, the biggest deal about this device is that the iPad is the first popular tablet that is truly *all* about touch. What am I talking about? Take a look at most of the PC tablets out there. Most of them have those special pens that are used for writing on the screen. This has been an acceptable practice, but thanks to the iPad, the status quo is being challenged to evolve or die. 😛 Many of the programs available on PC tablets are geared towards using the mouse/keyboard way of things. This is great if you don’t want to spend money all over again on getting apps with touch functionality, BUT with the advent of the iPad, the difference (lack of programs that use the touch tablet screen for interacting) is clear. In the PC world, there hasn’t been much developer effort into creating applications on PC tablets that use the monitor as the main means of interacting as the PC tablet ‘way’ has been: using special pens, Wacom tablets, etc. The iPad has revived the concept of using the monitor as the tool for communicating with your computer and instead of going halfway like PC tablets, the iPad shows that it *can* be done. Of course, AAPL had the devilishly good sense to create their market for touchscreen apps by unleashing the iPhone and knowing that it would not be a hard leap to make from developing for the iPhone to developing for the iPad. The ‘good’ news is now that there is a clear demand (even though the demand is being driven by people who are already Mac users as apparently 74% of iPad buyers already owned a Mac device), there’ll be more effort in the PC world to improve on the Tablet PC situation. I was initially bemused at the hordes of people so interested in this prettily caged device, but I’m even happier at the research & innovation it hopefully inspires in PC makers.

On the question of buying or not, simply put, Generation 1 devices pretty much use you as a guinea pig. Apple will implement most of the major gripes in the next version. If you don’t have a smartphone or laptop or netbook, definitely play with one. You will need to plonk down at least $200 (in addition to the $499 pricetag for the 16GB version) to get yourself truly ready to use the iPad as a laptop-replacement i.e. $40 for a case, a bluetooth keyboard, stands, other accessories etc so the price is potentially that of a relatively expensive laptop. So, the decision is up to you. 🙂

The life of a tech. lady. :P

So, I had the pleasure of being called upon to resurrect a friend’s PC from issues ranging from a missing graphics driver (how this got deleted, I have *no* idea), various Trojan flavors to dealing with an anemic hard disk drive (67MB of space left on a 30gb disk). I was eager to call upon my superior googling skills to solve the issue, but I faced just more than fixing a ‘sick’ computer. I was faced with the biggest problem of all: user apathy. You see, one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing a computer and its software go unpatched and/or un-updated. I kvetched to my hubby about how said friend should just move to a Mac if he couldn’t handle the responsibility of owning a PC and it got me thinking about how Microsoft could change the perception that PCs are a lot of headache. Seriously, the main reason from my limited view) about the plethora of virii available on the Windows platform is solely due to its popularity. By that theory, Macs will soon witness the same epidemic if people migrate to that platform in droves which they apparently are doing as Macs are gaining user share rather quickly. Anyway, I digress. Why I subscribe to the school of learning about my tools and being a proactive user, I can appreciate the fact that not everyone gets excited about learning how to protect their PCs and they would frankly rather NOT bother with running Microsoft Update if it didn’t know to update itself already. So, I guess the point of this little nugget of a post is: what can people who care about technology do to encourage technologically-challenged or plain disinterested people to ‘care’ about their PCs. To computer makers: what can YOU do to make the experience of caring about your PCs a better one for us, users?

Just a thought. 😛

Recommendations for a seamless migration to Windows 7

I’ve been using Windows 7 for over a week now and it feels very familiar, but much faster and more stable than Windows Vista SP2. Some have opined that Windows 7 is what Windows Vista should have been and I have to agree reluctantly. Without knowing all the facts, it appears that they had to ship something and Vista was it. Their slogan for Vista was “The WOW starts NOW” and if you’ve read several screeds about Vista’s failures, you can appreciate the irony of that slogan.

However, I can appreciate the fact that Microsoft has a difficult task of ensuring that their operating systems are operable with a wide variety of devices that are on the market. I respect a company that fosters an ecosystem where several mini-industries can prosper (e.g. for pretty much any computer part, there is a company that makes a replacement item). In any case, here’s what I did to ensure that I didn’t suffer any data loss or traumatic events:

  1. Step 1: Decide if you’re going to do an in-place upgrade versus a clean installation. I agonized over this decision because
    • I didn’t want to waste time reinstalling all my precious applications and
    • I wasn’t sure I would be able to re-download the installation files for my programs.

    . So, I made sure that the most important applications were accounted for i.e. I had either the install disks or the executable files. If you rely on “warez”, I can’t help you with that. I would recommend a clean installation because I believe in pouring new wine into a new bag or so that bible verse goes. 🙂

  2. Step 2: Create a disc image of your computer using either Acronis True Image 2010 or Norton Ghost (those are the two heavyweights in the field of computer backups). If you can’t afford either, consider using the built-in Windows Complete PC backup. Don’t forget there’s a different between doing a complete PC backup versus backing up files (when using the free Windows PC backup software for Vista). You will NOT be able to retrieve individual files/folders if you do a complete PC backup through Windows Complete PC backup. With disc images created by Acronis, you can extract individual files/folders from whole disk images if you wish to do so. I went slightly overboard by having my entire computer backed up via
    • Carbonite (or Mozy or whatever online backup service you use. It can even be a simple file/folder sharing utility like Dropbox)
    • on 2 external hard drives plus
    • having my work-related files on my thumbdrive as well

    . It pays to be slightly paranoid sometimes.*side note* Carbonite is planning on releasing a final Windows 7 compatible version once Windows 7 is out in stores.

  3. Step 3: don’t do this at 11pm at night. Allow
    • ~ 2hrs for backing up your files or your entire computer
    • ~ 2hrs for installing the new operating system and any updates (which, depending on your internet speed, may take longer than budgeted)
    • <li.~ 2 hrs re-installing your must-have programs. I recommend checking online to make sure you have the most recent version of whatever favorite program you have

    • Reboot your computer after each major installation e.g. after installing programs like Microsoft Office 2007, Visual Studio 2008 or Express, antivirus programs, internet security suites, firewall programs and pretty much any programs that explicitly inform you that you need to reboot for changes to take place, or utlities that integrate with Windows Explorer or the shell.
  4. Step 4: please make sure your computer has enough battery juice AND is plugged into an AC outlet or UPS. More often than note, your computer will install updates from Microsoft during the course of your upgrade. Please don’t leave your computer alone because you will need to help your computer through prompts or license acceptance check points. You must NOT let your computer ‘die’ on you (for lack of power) while upgrading your computer otherwise you’re in for a day or so of lost man hours. Have your system restore disks beside you just incase. In case you were wondering, I DID have my system restore disks beside me in the event that things went south.

That’s all for part one of getting a ‘bare-bones’ install of Windows 7 going successfully. Cheers!