iPad impressions.

I havent written about much for a long time so I though I would enlighten you with my brief review of the iPad.

When it was first announced I laughed at the idea that it would be useful for anything. I teased a few people who were considering buying one, arguing that it was just a giant smart phone. Almost a year later, I purchased one for myself.

The 3G model is basically a giant iPhone. There is no camera (iPad 2 is rumored to have one) or any phone function. The screen is obviously much bigger, but other than these few differences, the iPad is essentially the same as the iPhone.

That said, I would never buy an iPhone. There is just too much freedom that you get with Android, I couldn’t live with all the restrictions. Back on topic:

So, why did I buy the iPad? Well, there was the ‘Cool’ factor that came into play, but the reason I gave my wife was: To use it in class. In all honesty, I was expecting to have it replace my grades / attendance book. Pretty expensive replacement right? Anyhoo, other than playing around with downloading apps and messing with jailbreaking, the primary use for my iPad has been in the classroom.

I use an app called TeacherPal, which I highly recommend, to take attendance and grade students performance in class. The app itself is a little confusing at first, and exporting your data is only possible via email / iTunes (No dropbox support) but it does the job pretty well.

It’s also great for showing students pictures, videos and presentations in class. While dragging a laptop to each class is a pain, the iPad is light and small enough to make things easier.

The iPad is a unique device in that, it doesn’t make your day to day life easier unless you actively try to find uses for it. While I was always expecting to use it in class, I initially couldn’t think of any other uses for it. This is where the iPad’s size and battery life become an advantage. I deliberately brought it everywhere I went. Slowly, I found more and more uses for it. Taking notes, drawing pictures, computer administration. The apps available make the iPad such a versatile device and paired with the large screen basically make it a super portable laptop.

Which is the entire point of the iPad, portability. I find that with a laptop, I need a purpose to carry it with me – a presentation, work etc. With the iPad, its different. I have it with me all the time. This makes it so much more useful than a laptop.

Some might argue the functionality of a smart phone makes the iPad less useful. This is true to a certain extent, sending sms messages and checking friends status updates are all pretty easy to do on a smartphone however, having the larger screen makes it a less frustrating experience. The other great thing is it is perfect for sharing. Almost every time I have had to show someone something on my phone, they scrunch up their eyes and complain about being unable to see anything.

The iPad can be as useful as you want it to be.

The negative:

Coming from an Android environment, I was quite used to trying out apps before paying for them via ad supported demos. Some apps follow this trend in the Apple app store, but most don’t. The biggest annoyance for me is that the app store does not allow for refunds (in this sense). On Android you have a 15 minute window (Used to be 24 hours) to download an app, try it out – and see if it is what you wanted. If not, you can get a refund, simple as that.

On the app store however, no such luck. I was looking for a timetable app to manage my class schedule and I came across something that looked like what I wanted, and after paying for it – found that it was pretty useless. No refund for me – money down the drain.

But that’s not an iPad issue, it’s an Apple issue. My image of Apple is a pompous, greedy, self centered and stuck up company. They do whatever the hell they like and will keep doing it until the users start complaining en masse. This wont happen as the average iPhone user isn’t the same kind of person the average smart phone user used to be.
They don’t care if they can’t tether their phones via wifi/bluetooth, or that Skype doesn’t work over their 3g connections. They only care that they have the latest and ‘greatest’ phone that looks good. These people buy Apple for the image, not for the device. Apple is well aware that this demographic makes up most of their users, and as such they can do whatever they like.

For those of us who like to have control over our own devices, thankfully the iPad is also jailbreakable.

Love the iPad for what it is. Hate Apple for who they are. Don’t ask me why I hate Apple, I just feel it. I have nothing against their hardware. I think Apple hardware is some of the best out there. I also have nothing against OSX. I just don’t like Apple the company.

Ill leave you with an interesting note that may or may not be a good indicator of this attitude toward Apple:

Search google for:
“Hate Apple” – 9,690,000
“Hate Microsoft” – 6,750,000
“Apple Sucks” – 1,400,000
“Microsoft Sucks” – 273,000

Take the results as you will.

Do not buy Civilization 5!

If you are running a 64bit Windows 7 system – I highly recommend against buying Civilization 5 – at least for now. When the game first came out, all was well. Yet, some way into the game it just died. Straight to desktop. Some have linked this with capturing ‘too many’ cities. I confirmed this for myself, and yes – upon capturing one too many cities, the game would crash.

Fair enough I thought, wait for the first patch to fix it. So, I stopped playing for three weeks. Yet, today after downloading the update and attempting to load my savegame I am now presented with this bullshit:

What the hell?? I cannot even load the savegame anymore. I cannot be bothered contacting support – I have tried to once before with no luck, not even a reply. I should be getting on the phone with PayPal or my credit-card company and telling them to reverse the payment as I have been supplied with a product that does not run. Running the game in directx 9 mode still causes the same problem.

Guess who isn’t going to legally purchase the next Civilization game?

Anyway, that’s the end of my rant. Guess ill have to wait another month (or who knows how long) for the next patch and hope that the game will work.

Sharp Netbook Mini LCD Mouse Pad Thingy.

Found these in the local Yodobashi. Looks like a blend of touchscreen technologies, probably resistive and capacitive. You need the pen to control whats on the screen, and when you use your finger – you move the mouse.

HP Online Support still sucks.

Why do I even bother?

Here is the average HP support request converstation (Don’t mind the spelling & numbers have been changed):

Me : Presario f500 boot issue.
[An agent will be with you shortly.]
[You are now chatting with Praveen .]
Praveen : Hello, Welcome to Hp total care for notebooks.
My name is Tom. Please give me a minute while I quickly review the description.
Me : ok
Praveen : Hello, How are you doing today?
Praveen : In order to assist you in a better way, May know the product and serial number of the Notebook which is facing this issue?
Me : I would like to know if you have a service center in Japan. I bought the laptop in England and I am having a boot issue. This is covered by HP and reapir will be free, but I live in Japan. #
Me : Serial number is 888888888
Praveen : •I apologize for this inconvenience, however do not worry I am personally going to take care of the issue.
Praveen : Thank you for providing serial number.
Praveen : Would you please provide me product number?
Me : 888888888
Praveen : Thank you for providing product number.
Praveen : In order to isolate the exact issue, and provide you the trouble shooting steps, I need to ask you some questions related to your computer. Shall I proceed?
Me : yes
Praveen : Thank you
Praveen : May I know since how long have been facing this issue?
Me : Two months
Praveen : I apologize for this situation. I’ll try my best to get it straightened.
Praveen : Did this issue occur before?
Me : Not before two months ago
Praveen : May I know the operating system?
Me : Vista. That has nothing to do with the computer not starting!
Praveen : Don’t worry, I’ll try my best to fix this issue today.
Praveen : May I know if you have performed any troubleshooting steps to resolve the issue before contacting us?
Me : yes
Me : new hard drive
Me : new memory
Me : removed the cdrom drive
Me : removed battery
Me : issue still exists
Me : I would like to know if you have a service center in Japan that will be able to reapir this laptop for free
Praveen : I’ll do everything I possibly can to fix the issue.
Praveen : If I understand the issue correctly, we have problem with boot, Am I correct?
Me : yes…
Praveen : Please give me 2 minutes while I research on this issue and help you in a better way.
Praveen : we will pull up your records to check the warranty details.
Praveen : Please give me 2 minutes while I research on this issue and help you in a better way.
Praveen : Thank you for being online.
Praveen : I have checked the records and would see that the notebook is out of warranty.
Me : I know its out of warranty! The link I gave you is cover for this specific issue. Can you please give me details for a local support center in Japan…..
Praveen : Okay definitely I will help you with the Japan technical support link.
Praveen : They will definitely help you out with this issue.
Me : For free correct?
Praveen : As per the records I would see that the notebook is not in warranty and I cannot see any One Time Service Enhancement repair for this notebook. However If you would contact the Japanese Technical support they will be able to provide you with the information.
Praveen : They will have all alternate options to help you in a better way.
Me : Are you saying this issue will not be repaired for free?
Praveen : As the notebook is out of warranty and there is no onetime service enhancement service for your notebook, it will be a paid service.
Praveen : I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
Praveen : I will check the weblink. Please provide me a minute.
Praveen : Thank you for being online.
Praveen : I appreciate your patience and time.
Praveen : I have checked the link.
Praveen : I will explain you with the details.
Me : Ok?
Praveen : There are some Hardware issue with only some of the Compaq Presario F500 series notebook PCs when it was manufactured.
Me : I KNOW THIS! I Am asking if you are able to refer me to a support/repair center that will repair this issue. This laptop is having that exact problem!
Praveen : Don’t worry, I’ll try my best to fix this issue today.
Praveen : I understand the concern.
Praveen : We need to contact the Japanese Technical support and you may explain the issue to them. They will definitely help you out with this issue.
Me : For free correct?
Praveen : I will provide you with the link for Japanese technical support.
Praveen : As per the records I would see that the notebook is not in warranty and I cannot see any One Time Service Enhancement repair for this notebook. However If you would contact the Japanese Technical support they will be able to provide you with the information.
Praveen : This will be the paid service.
Praveen : If it were to happen to me I’d be concerned too.
Me : Why? The website says this reapir will be done for free! This is an issue with the manafacturing process. The link I gave you says HP WILL REPAIR THIS ISSUE FOR FREE.
Praveen : I understand the concern.
Praveen : Kindly contact the Japanese technical support they will check the records of your notebook and they will provide you with the information.
Me : The laptop was bought in England. Does this matter?
Praveen : Okay
Praveen : As the notebook is purchased in England we need to contact the England technical support link they will be able to help you with the issue.
Me : And it can be repaired in Japan?
Praveen : They will check with the records of your notebook and they will help you with this issue.
Praveen : As you have purchased the notebook from england we need to provide the notebook for service in england.
Me : So I can not get the laptop serviced in Japan?
Praveen : If we would like to service the notebook in Japan, it will be a paid service.
Me : So it could be repaired for free in England?
Praveen : Kindly contact the England Technical support, as they will check the records of your notebook and they will be able to provide you with the information.
Me : Ok, thanks for nothing.

I cant accept that this is another person providing support. I think HP is working on some Computer Support artifical intellegence system where any question that fits a certain guidelin is responded to by a set solution. Notice how many times my questions were ignored.

Vista Service Pack 2 Release Candidate 2

Finally bluetooth is working. After downloading SP2RC2 and waiting around 40 mins for an install and one reboot later, bluetooth works!

I am using a stereo sony bluetooth receiver and all the functions work, Play, Stop, Forward etc.

I also didn’t come across any issues with missing drivers like some others.

Although the uninstall will be a pain when the official SP2 is released (you need to uninstall RC2 to install the official SP2) if you are in need of working bluetooth devices I would recommend installing this ASAP.

Google gone mental.

Something seems to be up with Google. All results have been tagged as unsafe (Malware warning) by Google and users are warned not to visit the websites.

Wikipedia Malware

Clicking on the “Safe Browsing diagnostic page” link gave me a 502 server error page with the old Google logo font.

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