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Life With iPad: The First 24 Hours

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The long, overdue wait for the iPad was finally met with the usual long lines and anticipated excitement of early adopters and frenzied Mac fanatics. In that April 3rd crowd was yours truly and I must say, after owning Apple’s magical tablet for one complete day, I am so excited about what this new category of device holds for personal computing.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to give you some of my initial thoughts about how Apple managed to make a believer out of me. The first thing you realize when you take the iPad out of its box is how well the engineers at Apple have constructed the device. It has the solid look of the Macbook Pro’s with the aluminum finish and the gorgeous glass touch screen. At 1.5 lbs, it has a good amount of weight but doesn’t border on being hefty. You’ll definitely feel like you spent a good penny on it as it doesn’t feel cheap in the hand.

Right out of the box, you’ll find the iPad itself, AC adapter and a USB cable similar to the one you already have if you own an iPhone or iPod. You’ll need to supply your own white earbuds if you want to enjoy your music or movies in stereo as Apple doesn’t provide you one this time around. But you’ll notice the built in speakers are actually quite loud with good bass and sound output.

What makes the iPhone so popular is its incredible ease of use. Whether you’re reading articles online or watching a movie or listening to music, the touch based gestures makes those activities so simple and for that reason has made the platform so successful. Take that simplicity to the iPad and you have an experience that new iPad owners cannot stop raving about.

The iPad is snappy. The new processor makes this thing fly. Screen swipes are fast. Screen orientation switches to landscape and portrait are fluid and fast and the touchscreen interface is amazing. Pinching and zooming out of your favorite websites is a blast and makes web surfing via touch so natural.

And that screen. It’s so bright and vibrant. Watching movies is great as well as viewing your pictures. The HD quality display brings out all of the detail in your photo albums and will definitely be a great way to share photos when friends come over.

How about that keyboard? It’s been widely criticized on the iPhone and now the iPad that you can’t be productive on a virtual screen’s keyboard. The iPad does offer two configurations for keying in your text whether it be in portrait or landscape. Portrait is good with thumbs although if you have small hands, it can be a bit of a reach. Landscape provides a much more spacious laptop like experience and is almost the size of a full net book size keyboard. By comparison, the length of Apple’s wireless keyboard which you can use to pair via Bluetooth to the iPad is 7.2 inches. The virtual iPad keyboard in landscape is 7 inches. Pretty darn close and is pretty functional. As a matter of fact, I am using my iPad in this exact configuration to produce this blog entry using the iPad’s WordPress app. And it’s totally doable.

The big question some may have with the iPad is where it all fits into your computing life. Sure, it’s better than using a smartphone but it’s not quite a laptop with missing features like a webcam, multitasking and lack of flash support. To address those criticisms:

  • Camera: Would’ve been nice and will inevitably be a part of a second generation product, especially when 4G data is available next year making it even more accessible for video chats on the go.
  • Multitasking: iPod music functionality and email sync’ing like on the iPhone are available in terms of operating with other applications but if you want to open up multiple apps, you’re out of luck…for now. iPhone OS 4.0 is set to debut later this spring and the big rumor is multitasking will make its way to the platform.
  • Flash: This has been a big bone of contention with Apple and the rest of the world when it comes to this popular video plug in. Flash enables video and graphic animations on many of the popular websites and if you try to view them on the iPad, you’ll end up in a bunch of hurt because they don’t play. The good news is the internet is listening and many of those sites have begun embracing the less resource-hogging video standard HTML5. Sites like CNN, Time, ESPN and YouTube have all switched to HTML5 and the videos run perfect. For the rest of the sites, be patient. Apple’s influence is being heeded and the growth in the adoption of this device will be a cause for change.

In terms of replacing that old laptop of yours for the iPad, you’ll have to ask yourself several questions. Do you need a computer for web browsing, consuming media like music and video and performing simple office tasks like creating documents? The iPad can work for you. It’s really the best simple computer you can have and I can see a use case for a lot of users that don’t require computing power for editing video or complex gaming. In the time I’ve spent with it, reading the newspaper online, watching youtube videos and creating this blog entry were easy to do and I didn’t ever feel the need to open up my MacBook Pro.

In terms of apps, there are several must have standouts. Netflix streaming is amazing. The entire stream on demand library is available and they look awesome on the HD quality screen. Newspapers like the NYTimes and Wall Street Journal are a dream to read on the iPad. I certainly hope the publishers realize the potential of this platform and begin offering decent subscriptions for digital reading. Saving trees and saving money is good for everyone. And games like Real Racing HD and Plants V. Zombies are incredibly fun and a big time waster.

We all know Apple’s success with the iPhone platform has been the enormous success of the App Store and with the iPad, all 150,000 + apps are available at your disposal. That’s an amazing leveraging tool for a new device category. The built in utilities and available apps makes the iPad even more powerful and with many more apps to come from the imagination of developers, the future success of the iPad is all but guaranteed.

In just over a day with my iPad, I have to say Apple has done an incredible job bringing the tablet to the masses. Bill Gates unsuccessfully tried to do it 10 years ago because the software wasn’t simple enough on the Tablet PC. iPad’s strength is an elegant OS that anyone can pick up and an install base of apps that makes your tablet a multi functional device. And with Apple’s knack for creating the most cutting edge and beautiful looking hardware, it’s no wonder this company’s stock continues to soar.

Doubters can continue to doubt but I say a computing revolution has started because of the iPad. Consuming your media has never been easier and the elegance of iPhone OS will continue to attract technophobic users like no computing device has been able to do.


Written by kietchieng

April 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm

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A Guide to Using Twitter

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Everyone by now has heard about Twitter and tweets. It’s all over the media and many of your Facebook and social networking friends probably use it. But how does it really work? I get this question pretty often and I thought I’d give my guide on how to use Twitter.

Twitter in its simplest form, is an online communication tool that allows users the ability to send and share information in bite size pieces of information – 140 characters to be exact. Kinda like a really big IM session with people sending out their thoughts and ideas. Users can subscribe to other Twitter users and follow their tweets. This allows you to read up on any information the user has to share and the messages and tweets are listed in a timeline form – very similar to your feed on Facebook. Twitter messages can share just about anything from your current status, links, news, etc. Some have even labeled Twitter a microblog, giving you access to news in very short form. What is making Twitter so popular is that it is not only free but works on your computer and your mobile phones, enabling you to share information anywhere and any time in the world.

Following Users

In order to make Twitter useful, you’ll need to find users to subscribe to and follow. Twitter has grown a lot since its birth in 2006 and by now, many news outlets, celebrities and your circle of friends may have a Twitter account. It’s now up to you to find the things that interest you to receive those respective feeds. Want breaking news? Follow @CNNBrk. Want to know more about your favorite celebrity? Follow @AshtonKutcher or maybe @Ellen_DeGeneres. What you’ll notice is that these users are all preceded with an @ symbol. All users are denoted with it in Twitter world. You can use the People Finder located at the top of the Twitter page to locate more people.

Twitter has also recently made it easier to follow your favorite people by grouping users into pre-categorized lists that are arranged in Twitter Lists. Interested in Technology news? You can automatically subscribe to well known tech blog writers and news outlets. All with one click. You can always manage your Follow list later but this is a great way to get started with a good list of users to follow.

What is a Retweet and #Hashtag?

One of the first terms you’ll probably see in your Tweeter stream is “RT.” This stands for retweet and is a very common occurrence. It is essentially a way to repost a Twitter message that you’ve seen and would like to share with other users. The nomenclature appears as follows :

RT@TwitterUser and then followed by the message.

It is a way to credit the tweet of the original user and share the information with everyone following you. This process allows tweets to spread real fast in a viral like manner.

Another symbol you’ll see often is #. The pound symbol is known as a hashtag and you’ll see it before words in some tweets. The hashtag is used to highlight topics and serves as a way for Twitter users to organize them to be easily searched.  Some companies and big events are using them now to help archive and manage tweets. Most recently, the NFL used the #SB44 hashtag to keep all conversation and tweets about the big game organized.

In addition to organizing, the #hashtag can help to quantify specific words and topics that are currently popular. Twitter organizes this and labels the top ten into Twitter Trending Topics. You can usually find this list on the right side of your Twitter page. It is a quick way to know what is currently the most popular topics of conversations in the Twitter world.

Real Time Search

With millions of users around the world sending out tweets about everything imaginable from current events, to what they’re up to, thoughts and ideas can now be organized and shared in a very quick manner. This is enabling users the ability to find out about things as they happen or crowd source information in an instant just by searching for it on Twitter. For me, I don’t really rely on TV news as a source for breaking information any more. Now, I can search topics right within Twitter and find out the thoughts and opinions of others regarding a specific event. In a simple phrase, word definitely can travel fast, now that we have Twitter.

The role of social media is expanding so quickly and Twitter is definitely leading the charge. Many corporations and businesses are now using the site to  market their products and as a portal to reach out to their audience. Use it to share news or use it to let the world know what you ate for breakfast. Either way, Twitter represents a huge way to communicate in this ever shrinking world.

Written by kietchieng

February 19, 2010 at 11:10 pm

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MacWorld 2010

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I had the opportunity to make the annual pilgrimage to San Francisco for the convention known as MacWorld. This year signaled a new era in the history of the show as Apple and Steve Jobs were no where to be found. Apple made the decision last year to pull out of the trade show to schedule their own time table for product releases. As a result, the show was noticeably smaller but the vibe of the Mac following is still going strong.

I arrived at the show bright and early to attend the “keynote” presenter David Pogue of the New York Times. If you’re not familiar with Pogue, I highly recommend checking out his writings about technology. He has a very unique perspective that isn’t the nerdy tech speak you’ll find on most technology blogs. He has a music background and was once a conductor before entering writing for the New York Times. His hour long keynote today (which was usually Steve Jobs signature opening for the show), was billed “Late Night with Pogue” using the talk show format made famous by Letterman and Leno. He used the opportunity to spoof current trends in technology using song parody (“Apps…I did it Again”), hawk his book on Twitter use, and interview the people behind “Autotune the News” a YouTube Sensation. As a surprise, he brought on an actor with credible geek cred, Levar Burton, from Star Trek, Roots and my childhood favorite, “Reading Rainbow.”

Best of Show – MacWorld 2010

I had an opportunity to attend the Best of Show session that highlighted the best new innovations for the Mac platform for the year. Here are the highlights and some thoughts

  • SkyVoyager app: This is a very cool application you can download in the App Store. It is a astronomy map that uses the iPhone 3GS’s compass and GPS features to give the user an augmented reality based view of the night time sky so you can name planets and constellations. There are other apps in the store that do a similar job but this app has a very easy to use user interface and includes a feature called SkyFi that allows you to connect your iPhone to a telescope (with additional cables). Using your iPhone to point out the various constellations will then send commands to your telescope to aim its sights on stars in question. It is executed very impressively. If you’re a stargazer, this app is definitely for you.
  • Paper Show: This is a presentation tool that uses special paper, pen and a bluetooth USB dongle. In a simple phrase, it will allow you to present Powerpoint on steroids. The pen has a tiny digital camera attached to the tip and using the special paper provided, it will track all of your writing and transmit your input, via the bluetooth USB dongle, to your computer. This way, you can overlay any writing, diagrams or comments from your paper and have it directly on top of your presentations on screen. The demonstration during the show provided many great applications for business presentations or for teachers in the classroom.
  • Inklet : This is a graphics software that enables your Mac touch pad to become a tablet. Using that small rectangular space, you can use a stylus to make fine, precise drawings and lines or even your finger to jot notes. For $25, not a bad software suite for the graphic designer.
  • Microvision ShowWX: This was my personal Best of Show. Microvision was on hand to demonstrate a pocket laser pico projector. In layman’s terms, this gadget is a pocket sized projector that you can hook up to your iPod, iPhone or any device with a video output and display on any surface. It’s great for the business person on the go that needs to make presentations or for simply sharing videos and pictures with friends. The image quality is amazingly bright and clear. Here’s a demo video:
  • Quickofice: This is an iPhone app that brings together popular cloud based storage services into one application. It uses services like Evernote, MobileMe, and Box.net. If you’re unfamiliar with these programs, they are online sites that you can sign up and upload documents like word docs, spreadsheets and presentations that you can then access from anywhere you have internet access. In this case, once uploaded, you can pull them to view on the go with your iPhone or iPod Touch. The simplicity here is the need for just one iPhone app that can store all of your important docs for on the go viewing and editing.
  • Yapper: Want to make a iPhone app? There’s also an app for that! Using the Yapper online creator, you can create your own native mobile app without knowing any coding or programming. Once on the site, you designate your content and design and the makers of Yapper will program the application for you. But it’s done for a fee. MacWorld week special is only$99 for your own app.

The absence of Apple definitely was felt as the show floor was noticeably smaller this year than in years past. It didn’t stop the loyal Apple enthusiasts as booth after booth were hawking their products and showing off the latest and greatest in Apple accessories and applications. One area I was particularly interested in was the mobile applications showcase. There were many cool new apps on display and this space will only continue to grow as the App Store continues its trajectory.

Written by kietchieng

February 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm

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Want Free Cable? There’s an App for that!

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I’m here to save you some money. If you’ve never heard of Boxee before, you’ll love what it can do. Nowadays, if you pay for cable through a provider or a satellite company, you end up buying tv programming packages that force you to buy all sorts of channels that you never ever watch. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just access the shows you actually wanted? That’s the idea behind Boxee.

Boxee is the name of a free media manager software you can download from http://boxee.tv  In simple terms, it takes all of the media on your computer and organizes it into one easy to use interface. But on top of that, it works as a media browser that can pull content from all over the internet and deliver it to your computer. Want to watch last night’s episode of 24? Do a search of the show and you’ll see a full season’s worth of episodes, compiled courtesy of Hulu.com!

This is essentially like watching TV shows on your computer from the network websites like NBC.com or CBS.com but what Boxee manages to do is make it easy to access and all in one place. If you’re willing to sacrifice the need to watch a show live (who does anyway with DVR’s today), you can catch virtually any popular TV show on Boxee, the day after it airs on network television. And the list of available shows is comprehensive. I watch alot of TV and every one of my favorites are there plus some classics from the past (Silver Spoons, He-Man and Knight Rider anyone?)

On top of the TV shows, Boxee also has an App Library of its own (who doesn’t have an app store today?) that gets you access to even more of the web. Want to watch Netflix streaming movies, listen to music on Pandora or access you’re Flickr account? You can do just that.

Now how do I go about all of this, you might be asking? First, sign up for an account at http://boxee.tv It’s free to register and to download the software. To access this content on your TV, you’ll need to connect your computer to your television. There is a great tutorial that greets you once you launch Boxee for the first time that shows you how to do this using the necessary cables. If this setup is no good for you, Boxee just recently announced their Boxee Box at CES in January. It’s a set top box that has the software already integrated and works using WiFi. You simply connect the box to your TV like you would with your computer and voila: No more need for cable. Boxee mentioned the new box would arrive by the beginning of Q2 (ie March) but no price has been confirmed. But of course, you can just view all of this content on your computer and enjoy a cable free existence.

For even more coolness, iPod Touch and iPhone users can turn their devices into a dedicated Boxee remote control. Download the Boxee Remote Control app in the App Store. Simply launch the app and be sure your iPod or iPhone is connected to WiFi. It’ll automatically connect wirelessly to your computer enabling access from anywhere in the room. (ITunes Link http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/boxee-remote/id305171838?mt=8 )

The value of Free can’t be overstated and when it’s done this easy, it’s a no brainer. Give Boxee a try. I think you’ll like it!

Written by kietchieng

February 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm

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iPad Therefore I am : Why I’m getting the iPad

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After years of speculation and intense rumor mongering, January 27th saw Steve Jobs present to the world the newest gadget from Cupertino, the Apple iPad. It was a grand unveiling that Apple has become accustomed to pulling off. It’s been a few weeks since we first laid eyes on this thing and many are starting to wonder if all of the commotion was necessary. Although we’re still a good 2-3 months from seeing the final product on store shelves, I’m here to say I’ll be in line to get one.

First off, yeah. I’m a total gadget geek. And 2nd, I love Apple products. So with that disclaimer I’ll tell you why the iPad represents much more than just being a newly coveted shiny piece of technology that will change personal computing in many ways. For one, it is personal. A PC nowadays is a functional machine. We use it to get our work done, manage our digital media, and surf the web. Of those three, the iPad won’t be the work horse a PC will be and therein lies why I think it’s great. It manages to be a functional computer that does all of the fun stuff. After working all day (in front of a computer, no less), the last thing you want to do is prop a laptop in front of you when you get home or while watching TV. The iPad serves the same purpose but minus the boring work part. But in case you do need to be productive, there’s always the iPad friendly version of iWork.

The next reason I think the iPad will be great: it’s highly accessible because of the simplicity of the iPhone OS. Tablet computers aren’t new. They’ve actually been around for about 10 years when Microsoft introduced the tablet PC. Those things were clunky to use and not very user friendly. They were essentially direct ports of Windows but in touch form. No keyboard but it did have a easy to lose stylus. Fast forward to the innovations made with the iPhone OS. Steve Jobs mentioned there are over 75 million iPod Touch’s and iPhone’s in the world and they all use the same operating system that will reside in the iPad. Simply put. You already know how to use this thing. And for people that haven’t used an iPod Touch or iPhone, the learning curve isn’t too great allowing your grandparents or any other technophobic relative, an opportunity to access the Internet like no other device before.

The Apple App Store has become a tremendous phenomenon and it’s the third and biggest reason I believe the iPad will succeed and ride the momentum that iPhone and iPod Touch has provided since the store launched in July 2008. Adding a layer on top of the already intuitive and elegant iPhone OS is a library of over 150,000 apps  that fit every user’s needs and with many more on their way that will no doubt take advantage of that impressive display.

Yeah, there are the detractors out there that are wishing for a camera for iChat sessions or the ability to multitask or those that cry about the lack of flash support. To each of those: camera will be probably coming in version 2.0 when 4G services would be able to enable a video call; multitasking has been a compromise many iPhone users have been sacrificing but with OS 4.0 coming soon, the rumor is this will be changing so stay tuned. Flash is a resource hog and for a tablet that is to function less like a computer, Apple is quickly moving away from this standard and using more friendly HTML5. For those flash heavy sites, you’ll more than likely see native apps in the App Store that will make those sites more iPad friendly.

Ultimately with any new technology device, it comes down to “Do you really need this?”. We’ve lived our days without an iPad before but why now? In a few years, we’ll look back to January 27, 2010 and see that the revolution in truly personal computing and it started with the iPad. It’s the device that managed to connect even more users to the internet and enable another revolution in app development. And I can’t wait to be a part of it.

Written by kietchieng

February 10, 2010 at 3:21 pm

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Welcome to the Tech of Kiet

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I’m finally doing it. I’ve always wanted to dedicate time and space to blogging about the things that get me excited when it comes to the world of technology and entertainment. Those who know me have been wondering if I would ever get around to doing this so here I am. If you’re a Facebook friend or follow me on Twitter (@KietChieng), you’ll be getting the same dose of insight and updates that I’ve been sharing before but now I have a forum to add even more perspective.

I’d also like to invite you to share your comments, suggestions or questions on anything regarding technology or entertainment or anything cool that you find online. The Internet and social media have become so huge that it takes all of us to be able to share in the all of this coolness. Hopefully, this blog can be one of those portals to help you get in the know.

In the meantime, look forward to (hopefully) daily posts. I am an at home dad with a nearly 2 year old son so things can get hectic. I will be at MacWorld on Thursday 2/11/10 so I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some of the cool new gadgets and offerings from the world of Apple. If there’s anything you want to know about, hit me up in the comments!

Written by kietchieng

January 25, 2010 at 7:34 pm

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