Quickie Post


Now that Tweetdeck is dying/dead I am trying out other social media options like Hootsuite and Janetter. So far I just really miss Tweetdeck.  

While I do like that I can post to a blog via Hootsuite, this interface is a bit messy.

Writing On The Go


I am an avid writer.  I write for work, for my blog, and for fun. I am also writing a novel, which if it doesn’t kill me will be decent, and hopefully entertaining.  I also have an iPad, and like to do writing while on the go.

I don’t always like to lug the laptop around, as it is not always accommodating.  A lot of my writing is pen to paper, which I then transcribe when I am back at the screen.  I just ordered a keyboard for my iPad, because, you really do need a keyboard sometimes. (Sorry Steve Job’s Ghost).

When I did NaNoWriMo last year, and started my novel, I did some of the writing from the iPad in my local library’s write in’s. While I didn’t have a real problem writing on the device, I did think that a keyboard would be helpful.  I did it twice, and then just brought my laptop to the next write-in so that I was able to work faster, and more efficient.

One of the reasons why I felt I was ineffifcient was because there were so few good writing apps out there.  I was looking for several features.

  • Ease of use – I am not saying that MS Word is the gold standard of word processing, but it sort of is. Any word processor worth it’s salt needs to have some if not most of the functionality that MS Word, and Open Office provide.
  • Sync with Dropbox, or Google Docs
  • Ability to count words, undo, and edit if needed.
  • Printing Capability, or the ability to export as PDF

I ended up trying out several apps, though one of my pet peeves with the iTunes App Store is that there is no way to sample and app to decide if you want to buy it.

On my computer, I tend to not use Word until I am editing. Instead, I use yWriter, which is basically a project management system for writers. It breaks your work into chapters, scenes and then lets you organize your information based on the outline data, like you characters, places, etc… Its pretty simple to use and is freeware.  You can pay $12 to register it, and that money goes to help development tasks.  They are up to version 5 now, and it’s a great tool for writers.  However exporting is clunky, and there is no way to sync your project into any other format unless you export it first. Which makes portability difficult, but not impossible.

There is also Scrivener, which I will totally buy if they come up with an iPad app as they speculated earlier in the year. (It’s due this month).   Scrivener is a storyboard and word processor in one. It’s pretty robust, and has a hefty price tag at $40. Previously only available for MacOs, it’s now available for PC and I am always tempted to just buy it.

Back to the iPad. I started off with some free apps, which I didn’t like. A Novel Idea was the first one I tried, followed by Plain Text -Dropbox Text Editing, neither of which had all the features I wanted, but were free. I also tried Nebulous, and iDo Notepad, which is interesting as a Journal, but not for writing documents.

I finally ended up purchasing Elements from Second Gears Software ($4.99) after some good reviews, and recommendations for other readers.  I like this one because it’s distraction free, does word counts, and has a quick notes pulldown for editing. However, it only reads .txt, .markdown, .md, .mdown, and .mdwn documents, so formatting is out of the question.

Right now I am looking at Pages from Apple, ($9.99 iTunes) and have been playing with the free One Note App, which syncs to your computer’s version of  the program but limits the number of pages/projects you can have.

I have also started playing with OnLive Desktop which replicates Windows 7 on the iPad. It’s free with limited support and includes it’s own 2gb data storage.

None of these have thrilled me, and I keep going back to Elements because it’s just easy to use.

As you can already tell by now, I am a cranky writer.  When I don’t like the interface, I would rather just write on paper. So app makers, please make a better writing app for tablets, or we will just keep buying laptops and using MS Word, and no one will benefit from that.

My Review of Roku 2 XD Streaming Player


Originally submitted at Roku

Features the highest-quality HD streaming available.

Roku to replace 2nd Cable Box

By thetechdiva from Hightstown, NJ on 4/16/2012

 

4out of 5

Pros: High quality picture, Built in Wi-Fi, Easy to use, Reliability, Compact, Easy to set up, Video selection, Great value

Cons: Want more video choices

Best Uses: Secondary TV, Bedroom

Describe Yourself: Technophile, Movie buff, Techdiva, Netflix fan, Early adopter, Power User

I wrote a review of this on my blog the night after I got it. I am very happy with this product. Here is to hoping more networks get in on the streaming phase. Would love to see some of the native apps that are on iPad and other devices, such as CW, TNT, TBS and FiOS for XBox360 also join Roku. We are willing to pay cashy money for more services.

(legalese)

One Night with Roku 2 XD


On Sunday, April 1, 2012, my White Xbox 360 finally gave up the ghost. It powered on with the Red Light of Death and Destruction.  I thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t.

A little background, it was not my only Xbox 360, it was our old one.  This “old one” was my media center.  I don’t game on this one. I have mentioned this in previous posts, but it was used primarily for Netflix, HBOGo, Hulu, and FiOS tv. It had been through a lot, and no longer functioned well enough to game on.  It was great for the purpose it served.  The newer model is alive and well in my living room, where it gets LOTS of use each night.

As I stared at those three blinking red lights, I thought to myself do I really want to crack this sucker open again and give it another bypass? There has got to be a better way.

That said, I was not about to drop another $300+ for a gaming system that I don’t really use in that room.  Someone at work recommended I look into Roku.  After a quick post to Facebook to put out some feelers, it seemed like Roku was the way to go… I started doing some comparison shopping online, and trying to learn more about this little media streaming device.

Last night, I went into Radio Shack looking for a 10 Torq screwdriver to try to repair the Xbox 360 and walked out with a little miracle instead.

Roku 2 XD… what I can I say? Is it too soon to say I love you?  Let’s get married and have lots of little baby channels that show all my favorite shows.  Here is a summary of our first night together.

This may be the best $80 that I ever spend.  Here is how my first night with Roku went.

Pros:
I am in love with the magic that is it’s tiny size. This is my problem with gadgets. To me, they are just one example of proof that there is magic in this world. Anyway…

  • Ease of set up – passes the Your Mom Test*.
  • Ease of use.  It was relatively easy to set up.  Sort of went like this:
  1. Open the box and marvel at the diminutive size of this technological wonder
  2. Take the little miracle out of the box, along with AC adapter and AV Cables
  3. Plug in adapter, and AV Cables, turn on TV (I subbed this out for my own HDMI Cable)
  4. Connect Roku to your Wifi using the remote
  5. Log into or use activate Roku online, Register it and enter in some financial details for the Channel Store
  6. Enter codes/login to Netflix/Hulu/HBOGo/Epix, etc… (used my phone for activation entry)
  7.  Sit down with your popcorn and watch TV!

All in all, the process took about 25 minutes, but I am a pro, so I would give it a 45 minute head start, before you hit step 7, and have a computer or smartphone handy for entering all the log-in codes for your channels.

  • Picture Quality – Since i had an HDMI cable I used that, and I watched a few episodes of Supernatural in HD.  The picture quality is magnificent, I will never watch netflix like poor people again.
  • Internet Connection – I have FiOS, and so I can’t judge this accurately, I did not have any buffering or other issues on Netflix.  The recommended speed is 5 mbps on wireless and the Roku is a purely wireless device, at least the XD is.  Hulu is always a bit funky when streaming but I haven’t seen any yet.
  • If you do need to pre-throttle, or change your internet capture rate there is an unlock code on your remote.. its something like this
    • Press the Home button 5X
    • Press Rew << 3x
    • Pres FF >> 2x
  • Private Channels
    • This just sounded so covert, that I had to find out what it’s all about.  Apparently there are a lot of free domain and other types of channels that are online and accessible through Roku.
    • A quick google search for “Roku Private Channels” yields a good number of lists.  I recommend trying some of them out. Each requires a code that you must input on your Roku site.

Note: Some of these channels are not family safe, and some are not exactly the best quality.  It will take some tinkering and experimenting to see which are good, and which are just meh.  So far BBC International and CNN International seem to be my favorite off the menu channels.

Cons:

  • No You Tube Channel.  With Youtube launching their own original content such as the Wil Wheaton Game show, Tabletop and other shows, this is definitely a con which I hope they will remedy soon.
  • No FiOS channel, yet… Verizon I am looking directly at you, please make me happy again!
  • The Remote: The remote is cool, it has buttons built in for Pandora, Netflix and Crackle, and it’s pretty intuitive, however I put it face down on my bed and the buttons pressed, so it can’t just be thrown around, because it will activate and mess up your movie watching mojo.
  • Registration with credit card/paypal.  I used my paypal account to register, this is harmless, as it’s just for in store purchases of paid or subscriber channels.  I was able to enter a code that has to be entered in order to purchase channels. It was a minor annoyance but not a deal breaker.
  • No off switch, again, not a deal breaker, but I do like to turn my devices off when I can.  You can unplug the device and that should take care of that. I have everything electronic on a surge protector so I just turned that switch off.
Things that I will mention but that are not necessarily cons… more like a worklist of things to improve on, or work around
  • It’s not a device that allows external hard drive capability.  It’s not a huge deal to me, but this may be a con to some others.  If you want that feature, go with Boxee instead.  I am personally okay with this since I have my DVD player in the room and it has the USB port for an external hard drive.
  • Have to figure out how to get the NAS Server to stream through this. It will also eliminate the external drive issue.

So all the love talk aside, my full verdict is not in yet.  This is still the honeymoon phase. Stay tuned for next week when I have had some more time to play with the system…

*The Your Mom Test – Can your mom set this up without calling/posting on Facebook for help?

the New IPad,First Impressions


It’s been a long weekend since friday afternoon when I un-boxed my new iPad. After working, running a bunch of errands, getting the new iPad synced and then finally sitting down to play with it, I realized on Friday night that I was exhausted. I ended up going to bed too early to really enjoy it. Saturday proved equally busy. Never go to the DMV on a foggy Saturday morning, the foreboding warning didn’t deter me from my tasks but it should have.

So I finally got a chance to enjoy the new iPad on saturday afternoon. And Wow. I honestly didn’t think I would be THIS impressed. I mean, I knew that upgrading from First gen to third would yeild a wow factor, but this is just so… I mean the screen alone has ruined me for all other resolutions. Even my 120 MHz TV isn’t as clear as this. The colors are clearer. Here, look, see for yourself:

Take a look at the home page, Netflix, amazon and iBooks as well as something from my photo gallery. The clarity is so… Clear.

20120318-103538.jpg

20120318-103550.jpg

20120318-103600.jpg

20120318-103608.jpg

20120318-103614.jpg

20120318-103714.jpg

20120318-103719.jpg

Another bonus is the dictation tool that now allows you to dictate from native aps like WordPress and Elements. I still recommend a headset in order to get the best out of your dictation, but I am using it to type some of this post. It’s much more accurate than the Dragon app.

The newest features are of course the camera related ones. FaceTime, and Photo booth. Both of which I still need some time to try out.

Is it worth an upgrade? From first gen to third, yes. I think it is. From iPad 2? I’m not quite convinced yet. iPad 2 is thinner, and I have been reading about some heat issues with the new iPad. I bought a $25 case from Best Buy yesterday and I haven’t noticed any heat issues. But I do know that the new iPad fits into my first gen case. So it is thicker than the iPad 2.

The battery life is also very cool. I haven’t charged it at all since Friday and it’s still holding at 40%. I haven’t really watched any movies on it but I have been using Pandora and Stitcher, as well as Flipboard and trying out Zite.

While I’m not sure I will be taking photos with the new iPad, I am impressed by the resolution of the camera. I will keep playing with it and working with it and I’m sure I will find some more little things that I love about.

For me, it was a good upgrade choice.

New iPad Open Thread


I am starting an open thread for anyone who is getting, is waiting on line for, or has gotten their new iPad.

My iPad is currently in a Fed Ex truck, and I am at work, so this is gonna be a long day.

I will have an unboxing ceremony when  I actually get my hands on my own this afternoon.  (I am so excited)  So for now I have to live vicariously through YOU!  In return Here are some handy links to keep us entertained:

From Tech Crunch, new Retina Display apps to update

From HuffPo, iPad robbery thwarted

From Gizmodo, everything your new iPad Needs RIGHT NOW!!!!

What Apple Product Launch Day would be complete without the Woz, waiting in line? (from Gizmodo)

Where are you? Where is your new iPad? Are you as excited as I am?  Tell me all about it in the comments below.

 

The New iPad


Last week, Apple announced the “New iPad” which is the third generation iteration of their tablet.  I did something impulsive for once and pre-ordered it.  I don’t do very many impulsive things, so this was a huge one.  I actually ordered it right after the showing, so I had to fight the web throttle and 404 beasites but I got it.

I have the first generation iPad, which after stating that I never really wanted, received as a gift.  After having it for about a month, (there really is no learning curve to apple) I spent some time researching apps.  I found  that there were uses for it other than Angry Birds, and Netflix in bed. Though both those things are pretty neat to have.

I wrote almost all of my NaNoWriMo story on the iPad using the Elements app.  I used it to send out hundreds of resumes through several job apps. I used it for research, for communication with my friends and family. I used it instead of my laptop for almost all of these things.

Honestly it has replaced my laptop for all but advanced functionality. I write, read, research, work and play on it.  It’ is  amazing to me how much I actually use the device.  So part of my buying the new one was based on the recommendation that I have become that small percentage of iPad owners that actually uses it like a computer, or at least like a tablet.

One of the bigger kudos I have to give to Apple is for reliving me of back pain.  As a technophile, my bag used to consist of wires, devices, a laptop and all the writing elements that I used. I am an on-paper style of writer so I still need some type of journal sometimes. My purses were big, heavy and I would come home with shoulder marks and headaches from carrying all that around.

My purse today has, two wires, one for my Kindle, and one for my iPad/iPhone, some headphones,  my wallet, the Kindle, keys, some makeup and my iPad in it. It’s a small purse, and for that I am grateful.  I will of course be re-distributing my old iPad because I do not need two of them.

So, I bought the new iPad, it will be here tomorrow and I am not ashamed to say that I have it. I actually like having one, and will probably not go back to a netbook any time soon.   Stay tuned for the un-boxing.