Archive for the 'Apple/Mac' Category

Asus Transformer TF300T

Asus Transformer TF300T

Asus Transformer TF300T


You have heard me before explain why I love my iPad. At first I bought a Xoom tablet, which I thought was crap. When I picked up my iPad that was awesome. It did everything I needed and then some. As it happens, though, I have been thinking more and more about getting into Android again, until a few days ago when I finally pulled the trigger.

Until quite recently, Android was simply not ready or suitable for tablet use. You can argue with me about that all day long if you like, but you would still be wrong. :) Recently, however, Ice Cream Sandwich was released (Android 4.0) and that, combined with the current state of technology, makes all the difference.

Anyhow, I decided that giving Android another try, especially in light of Apple’s recent bout of litigiousness, was in order. I decided on the ASUS tablet (32 GB), because it has really nice hardware, looks and feels good, and just seemed to have the most bang for the buck. I also bought the keyboard dock because having a keyboard for your tablet is wildly useful, not to mention it adds USB, SDCard and lots of extra battery life!

The only application I added that I had to pay for was Better Terminal Emulator Pro. This is, simply, the best ssh client available for Android, period. It also has the unique ability to actually be able to use *all* the keyboard keys available on the Transformer’s keyboard dock. Absolutely indispensable, and it was only $4.

Things I don’t like:
The iPad has a better mail application. Apparently, I am in the minority when I want to read my oldest email first and then progress to the newest. I find it really perverse to do it the other way around, and it annoys me to no end that I can only get 30 or so emails at a time without weird jumpy scrolling effects. The iPad didn’t have this problem. I will say, though, that I haven’t had a lot of time to try alternative email clients. I also liked the iPad’s version of the Tivo client better. The version for android is made only for mobile phones and doesn’t take advantage of a Tablet’s screen size, etc. I bet they will have this fixed at some point though, and it does the job for now. Lastly is the form factor. The iPad has a 4×3 form factor, which I find quite aesthetically pleasing, while the Android has a 16×9, which takes some more getting used to. I realize that multimedia is really geared more toward the 16×9 sizes these days, but documents are not and I grew up reading magazines and books and writing on papers, all in the 4×3 format, and it still feels a bit odd with the elongated tablet size. The absolute worst thing with this tablet is the proprietary charger connector. This pisses me off and is absolutely unnecessary and makes it difficult to obtain 3rd party charger / cable replacements. That is not to say they are unavailable, but I could not find a spare in a big box store and had to order through Amazon.

Things I do like:
This little gizmo is quite fast! Video playback is responsive and brilliant. ICS has a good feel to it as an OS and is much more useful than previous releases, not to mention, this machine is rock solid stable, which is something my Xoom really lacked. I have never had an app crash on me using this tablet yet, something I used to think I would have to own an iPad to enjoy. Even with the keyboard dock connected, it is pleasant to hold and use, aside from the strange feel of a 16×9 form factor. It is not too light or heavy. It feels ridged / solid. It has a very nice feeling textured case, which does not appear particularly scratch prone (in opposition to the iPad) and has a pleasing (very)dark blue color (I understand this particular tablet to soon be available in white as well). The screen, itself, is clear and crisp and easy to read, even in direct sunlight. As a touch screen, it is remarkably sensitive.There are times I swear I just have to think about touching it and it responds. Although the touch screen does attract fingerprints, they are easy to wipe clean and the tablet actually came with a soft cloth just for that purpose. Lastly, this comes equipped with a GPS, which makes it a great big nifty navigation unit too!

With the addition of the keyboard dock (did I mention 14 hours battery life?), this tablet actually makes a suitable laptop / netbook replacement. I can honestly say that I can carry *only* this device with me and be assured that I can still accomplish any work I need to do, especially with the addition of the previously mentioned Terminal Emulator Pro software purchase. All in all, this is a great device which makes portable computing truly doable and lots of fun. Great purchase!

PPC Linux

Sometimes I get lucky and something cool happens to fall in my lap. This happened last week when I ran across a G5 tower dual 1Ghz /8Gb ram that was getting tossed. I decided ti rescue it as I hate to see useful hardware go to waste. As the version of OS X that runs on such beasts is getting long in the tooth AND I happen to be a Linux enthusiast, I decided quickly that this would be a great box to look at the recent offerings of PPC Linux. Here are my thoughts:

debian

debian


Debian:
This happened completely by accident, but Debian was the first distro I tried. You see, the Mint PPC installer will install Debian PPC by default if you don’t specify to install Mint, which I completely forgot to do on my first try. Debian is, well, Debian. I wish I had the foresight to actually get a screenshot, but the installed version on PPC is what I expect it looks like anywhere else as well. Debian is fantastically consistent about that. That being said, Debian and I differ in opinion on what software I generally want to have available under Linux. The Debian folks are very staunch on the “free software only” thing and *I* am one of the guys who thinks I should have the “freedom” to actually enjoy proprietary and non-free software if I want to. As I really wasn’t looking to do a Debian install anyhow, I played for a few minutes and then moved along.

mintppc11

mintppc11


Mint PPC 11:
Now *this* is what I really wanted to try. As a long time admirer and user of Linux Mint, I was thrilled to try it out on the PPC too. Unfortunately I was slightly disappointed. You see, Mint PPC is not an “official” port, per se, so it’s not quite the same. First thing I noticed is it is obviously built straight off Debian, and uses their software “choices”, which I have previously described. Secondly, the default desktop is an LXDE with nautilus. Ok, but a little clunky feeling to me. It wasn’t long before I was wanting to check out what else was out there, and so I did.

YellowDog 6.2

YellowDog 6.2


YellowDog 6.2:
Years ago, when Dann and I first started the Lehigh Valley Linux User Group, YellowDog Linux was quite a contender. Shortly thereafter, they made their presence really big in Japan and I sort of didn’t hear much from them anymore. Well, it appears they are still going strong and offering what turns out to be a really nice and robust PPC Linux distribution. Honestly, in retrospect, this is the one I would settle on as my second choice. There is plenty of support and plenty of packages available and it runs rock solid stable. If you are at all familiar with RedHat, CentOS or Scientific Linux this would be an no-brainer for you to use. The *only* thing I didn’t really like about it was the default DE was Enlightenment. It worked fine and was completely functional, just not to my tastes. I am sure I could change it to suit my needs better, but there were more PPC Distros to try!

Fedeora 16 PPC

Fedeora 16 PPC


Fedora 16 PPC:
Now THIS one I was SURE would be the one for me as soon as I got it running. The install went really smooth, especially for a Fedora install, which has a really bad historical habit of being broken in one way or another. Once I had the desktop up I was greeted by a standard Gnome3 DE, which is completely familiar to work with for me, even though it was minus the desktop icon support available in Mint. No matter, I was excited to use it and it was FAST and really responsive. Unfortunately, as is the habit of my ventures into Fedora land, it was hopelessly broken, and there is not a lot of package support. Here are a few for-instances: EPEL repo will not install. Flite makes the core dump. Worst was nautilus refuses to prompt for user/password on any shares (ssh, smb, webdav, etc.). It just says you must enter the password and then doesn’t afford you any way to do so. Nice try guys.

Ubuntu PPC 11.10

Ubuntu PPC 11.10


Ubuntu 11.10 PPC:
Saving the best for last, I *finally* hit on one that’s a keeper, otherwise I was going straight back to YDL. Ubuntu, as it turns out, ends up being a very polished product for PPC. Sure there are some issues, such as Unity completely rots on this machine, but they are easily overcome and then you have a nice solid worker with good package support. In my case, like I mentioned, I had an issue with Unity. It seems that the Unity 3D doesn’t like this mac. I am not sure why as Gnome-Shell works great with the 3D stuff. Unity 2D was fine, but not only do I prefer Gnome-shell over Unity, but I was working on a 4×3 screen, which nobody should ever use Unity with. Once I switched to Gnome-shell, I was set. I installed my standard set of packages I use. All of them installed without crabbing about anything and everything worked, even user/pass in nautilus :)

If you have an old PPC machine you want to keep in service or press into service, Linux PPC is surely the way to go. You just cannot go wrong with either YellowDog or Ubuntu on these machines. No sense in wasting or chucking good computer equipment right! Stuff Linux on there and make it useful once again!

Who is that masked man?

Probably you have either listened to me or read my thoughts or both for several years now, but it occurred to me today that someone out there might be interested in seeing what actually drives the LincGeek.

I currently live in Pennsylvania, but I was born and raised in Upstate NY, with a brief stint in Washington state. New Yorkers and hillbillies are my people and I understand them. Washington is some of the most beautiful country I ever spent time in and I hope to at least visit out there again someday.

Well, first and foremost, computers and Linux are my personal crack. I started on a life long obsession with computers back in 1983 with my first Vic=20 (Thank you William Shatner). I learned to program in BASIC and from there it was all over until I met Linux in the 90s, then that added into the mix.

I like the fastest computers I can get my hands on. I like Apple computers (more for their quality and aesthetics than OS – they do tend to run Linux very well). I love my Kindle, my Android phone and my iPad (2), which is the tablet device that all others are invariably compared to and for good reason. Linux Mint is probably the nicest version of Linux I have ever run and I use that almost exclusively as my desktop OS of choice. I am RedHat certified and use RHEL and CentOS for the vast majority of my enterprise and personal server needs, because, IMHO, it’s better than the rest.

I am a music lover. I dig 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, Big Band, Jazz, Funk, Disco, Bluegrass and Classical music. I was a hardcore low brass musician and vocalist in my school years, even making it into “Who’s Who In Music” in my senior year in high school, and those are some of my most cherished and fondest memories. Rap is *NOT* music, by the way.

I have been married once, to my college sweetheart, for almost 19 years now and have an adult (she thinks so at least) daughter, currently in college. I am a Conservative Libertarian, politically, and a proud Christian.

Although I am now diabetic and stick mostly to various forms of Chicken and veggies now, I LOVE good food. my favorites are good Irish cooking like my Grandma used to make. Corned Beef and Cabbage. And she made a monster macaroni and cheese too. I would literally hurt someone for some of that again. I strongly believe that vegetables are what food eats.

I like my coffee with (nonfat) milk and sweet-n-low. Buy it from Wawa because Starbucks coffee is overpriced and bitter yuppie coffie IMHO. I like an occasional good cigar (Acid Blondie) and enjoy them most when I can smoke them and hang out with my friends.

I am not a drinker. If and when I do imbibe, I do so with Scotch or Whiskey as I believe beer must be what urine tastes like.

As you can probably surmise, I am highly opinionated, and as I have a monster sized guilty conscience and I am not at all politically correct, so if you ask my opinion, you are liable to actually get it.

I still think the occasional fart joke is funny. I hate unproductive meetings and long phone conversations. I try very hard to be honest, forthright, fair and maintain integrity.

I am a pet guy and love small furry mammals of all kinds. I have and have had cats, dogs, rabbits, mice, rats, ferrets and even a smattering of budgies and small lizards.

And now you know all about me!

We’ll miss ya, Steve.

RIP Steve

RIP Steve


I saw the news mere minutes after I got my newest mac. I just picked up a nicely used 17″ iMac. I may even have to name it “jobs”…

Much as many of my opensource cohorts are occasionally at odds with Apple, the company, I believe whole heartedly that we have lost a real visionary. He had a big hand in not only making personal computing a reality, but also beautiful. Apple has always pushed the idea that not only should functionality be a consideration but aesthetics as well. I can only hope that Apple can keep up with his legacy.

The New Xoom Review, Comin’ Right At You!

xoom


OK, I am dating myself here but there used to be this show on when I was a kid, called the New Zoo Review, and for some reason the theme song was playing in repeat in my head while I was thinking about writing this review. That’s how the title comes about, and it’s been a wickedly long week, so that’s about as clever as I can muster right now.

I bought the Motorola Xoom wifi only tablet the day it came out because I have been wanting / looking for / dreaming of a device that *could* be android powered that would be a respectable netbook replacement for me. I wanted something with at least a 10 inch display, fast processor speed, decent storage and memory and significantly thinner and lighter than my netbook that I could use as a daily carry. What goes without saying, there, is that there needs to be functionality with all that I do.

Unfortunately, with the Xoom, this was not to be…

The Xoom is a very appealing looking device which appears to meet many of my basic needs quite well. It is thin and light. It has a beautiful and very functional touch display. The battery lasts quite long at around 2 days of use. It’s only everything after that that is a disappointment.

Let’s start with the price. This was $600 + tax for the wifi only version. I believe this to be a bit excessive, even if the device actually *did* deliver. That being said, I did, and would pay it again to the company that does it right, but there are a lot of disappointments with this tablet:

This tablet does not act as a usb mass storage device. You heard it right. When you jack this into your computer, you have to fumble around and try to find a utility program and/or drivers that do Media Transfer Protocol. I DO NOT understand why they would do this unless they are intentionally trying to irritate their customers. My Moto Droid (the original) could connect as usb mass storage, why can’t this??

This tablet will not charge via the usb cable. Again, what were they thinking. You have to use a needle thin charger plug that has every appearance of wanting to snap off at the slightest bump. Once I finally got the majority of my power and data needs consigned to a single USB cable, Xoom makes sure you have to carry another proprietary wall-wort.

Honeycomb is NOT ready for general use / release. As pretty as it is, the new android OS has lots of bugs. I cannot tell you how many times apps like facebook, gmail, email and the browser crashed on me in the week I used this tablet. The apps are beautiful when they work, but also lack important functionality. For instance, the email app doesn’t do filters. Also, I was particularly thrown back when I could not get my pandora app to run at all!! Ack!

I think the straw that breaks the camel’s back for me is lack of a cisco vpn client. Granted, this is not really the Xoom’s fault, but I need to be able to do some real work with my tablet and this is a HUGE hindrance for me. This one thing means I have to carry a netbook with me anyhow which was the point of getting a tablet in the first place.

Bottom line is if you are looking for some cool tech and do NOT neet to do work with it and / or can wait until they fix a bunch of things AND you have a spare $600 to shell out for said broken product, then run to your nearest store and buy one of these. If you are like me and need a small, slim, lightweight. functional tablet with more stable software and a decent vpn client to replace your netbook, then wait ’till the iPad 2′s are back in stock. Sorry android and Motorola, you lose on this one.

iPad Excitement!

iPad

iPad


Yes, the news is out. Apple is releasing the iPad, to start shipping in 60 days. There has been much discussion amongst the peanut gallery on this one, but I, for one, am exceedingly happy about the release, although maybe not for the reasons you may think.

The Apple iPad (I keep wanting to type POD) is basically a 10 inch version of their iPod Touch, with some really nice new features. The iPad does all the standard web browsing, games, iPod Touch / iPhone apps (minus the phone part of course), and games that you would expect but it also includes iBook, a really slick looking ebook reader program and iWork Spreadsheets/Presentation/Document software, etc.. What I was most impressed with was the 3G access. For $15 a month you can get 250meg of 3G access from AT&T with NO CONTRACT! That alone almost makes it worth buying for me as Verizon wants to soak me for a 2 year contract and an extra $30 a month…

Do I want one of these myself? Well, I probably wouldn’t turn it down as I think Apple makes some good lookin’ hardware that does what _they_ want it to do well. There are a few problems I see with it though. It does not multitask. That’s right, want to play music while you are editing that spreadsheet or reading that ebook? Nope. No camera on there either. Would have been a killer app for them to have a built in camera for an iChat, or Skype or what have you. It needs a fold out keyboard. I don’t care how slick the touch screen keyboard is, it’s fundamentally flawed as you suck up screen realestate by using it. Lastly, no real OS on there. For most people this isn’t really a problem, but I would like something a little more than an appliance….

So why am I happy about the release? Well, in a word, competition. Now that Apple has set a “standard”, other manufacturers have something to aim for and above for their own product releases. I see manufacturers turning to Linux for this because it’s developer friendly, easier to shoehorn into embedded or strange / smaller devices, and the price is right. I hope to see a multitouch tablet with a full functioning and/or upgradeable/replaceable Linux distribution on it. I want it to have a rollout/foldout keyboard. I want it to have 802.11n and 3G available, and I want to see the price point at or below what the iPad is. Think this sounds too goo to be true? I think we are all going to be surprised. At least I hope so. And just to get things going, check out the TouchBook, which by the way was available BEFORE the iPad. I think we are headed in the right direction and I, for one, am eager to see what happens!