Category Archives: Review

iPod on the iPhone – First Impressions

I have had my iPhone for nearly a month now and absolutely love almost everything about it – the great exception being the iPod.

Having been a 1st Gen iPod Nano user for three years, I surely was expecting the iPhone to support folders for my playlists. I still remember my excitement when iTunes started supporting folders, yet to this day no iPod supports them.

What is the point of creating an intricate folder structure for my classical music if that means that I end up with 20 playlists on my iPod/iPhone all called “Symphony No. 1”?

To make matters worse, there is no easy way to scroll to a particular playlist via a quick-jump alphabet on the right hand side. No, you have to flick through dozens and dozens of screens to get to the bottom playlists. The same applies to genres.

Why can’t we get a consistent UI with alphabet quick access for all lists? Why can’t we get folders, at least as an option for those people who care. I always thought of the iPhone more of being a computer than an iPod. In that case, folders should be standard.

Because I don’t have time to rename hundreds of playlists (nor do i feel like adding redundant information) I will probably continue listening to Pandora most of the time. This is a shame because I bought the 16 gig model with the iPod in mind, and in hindsight I may not be needing all this memory.

Time Capsule = Simple Home Server

Apple advertises its Time Capsule product primarily as a simple backup companion solution to its Leopard Time Machine Application. While this is certainly a great application, this Apple Insider Article points another great application, namely Time Capsule’s use as a simple server for home users. Continue reading

Visio Alternative for Mac OS X

In the Windows world there is MS Visio for diagram drawing of all kinds. On Mac OS X there is OmniGraffle, a phantastic diagramming application with a 100% Mac look-and-feel. Omnigraffle comes in two versions, standard and professional. I have the professional version and if you plan to do some serious diagram drawing I strongly recommend it (check here for a feature comparison).

The developers just released Version 5. I cannot comment on this version directly, since I have not upgraded yet. OmniGraffle 5 Pro claims improved Visio compatibility, one of the key features of the Pro version. In my experience, the compatibility of Rev. 4 was not very good with text and shadings not being well supported. When using OmniGraffle diagrams on Windows, my standard path is to export as 300 dpi PNGs which have excellent quality at small file sizes.

At $200, the program is not cheap, but well worth it. This is still $60 cheaper than the standard edition of Visio. The Professional version of Visio costs 3 times as much. There is also another commercial application with both Windows and Mac versions by the name of ConceptDraw. Apparently, the Mac and Windows licenses have to be purchased separately, at $250 each not cheap. The advantage is good cross-platform compatibility, but it doesn’t have the Mac look-and-feel that makes OmniGraffle so much fun to use.

For the budget conscious, there is also a good (and free) vector graphics application called InkScape. I briefly tested it and it seems to be very capable, albeit, not as pretty and feature-rich as OmniGraffle. Also, it requires X11 to be installed. In my experience, applications requiring X11 tend to be less integrated and to have less of a Mac look-and-feel to them. Last not least, VectorDesigner is a recent addition to the vector graphics applications. While I acquired a license through the 2008 MacHeist Bundle I have only briefly tested this app. I like the look-and-feel, but my first impression is that for just $30 more a basic OmniGraffle license seems like a better deal.

Acrobat Side-by-side Comparison Got Sidestepped

One of the most useful features in Adobe Acrobat 5.0 that I used first as a student and then later even more at work was its ability to compare two documents side-by-side and mark all the differences. It is the only program I know to date that enables one to do this. I used it frequently to compare all sorts of files, usually either MS-Word documents or MS-Excel sheets. While this does involve the extra step of creating PDFs, it works beautifully in most cases. Continue reading

Widescreen Macbook plays nice with projectors

Back in May I reviewed my top 10 favorite features of Mac OS X. One of my Mac OS X Top X was pertaining to the connection to external projectors, monitors, or TVs. Back then I did not have the opportunity to try this feature with a widescreen Mac. Now I am in that fortunate position. Continue reading

iMovie ’08 = utter disappointment

My initial joy of the redesigned iMovie ’08 UI with clip browser did not last very long. Last night I checked out the tutorials and the getting started manual, and after reading some research today it appears all too clear that iMovie ’08 did away with the timeline. Inconceivable! Continue reading

Review Do’s & Don’ts

Did you ever read a review for some product or service that ended by saying “Do your homework” or “Do your research”? This is of course a rhetorical question. The real question is, when did you last read a review that did not say that? Continue reading

My Mac OS X Top X

In my first post I commented on being lucky to have found the right way, namely the way from Windows to the Mac. However, upon re-reading that post, it occurred to me that I have not given good reasons why I feel that way. Hence, this post explains some of the key features of Mac OS X that I have come to love and that, incidentally, are not available on the Windows platform. Continue reading

Graffiti 1 Still Works

A couple of years ago I upgraded my Handspring Platinum to a Palm Tungsten E2. Primarily, I was looking for a higher resolution screen, a color screen, and Bluetooth. I read all the reviews and found it for a good price, but when I took it out of the box I found out that Palm had changed the Graffiti to Version 2. This apparently was meant to be more intuitive by only using lower case characters. This might work well if you are not used to this input method. In fact, my wife was able to use it right away.

Being an old time Palm user (before the Platinum I had a Palm IIIx), I was less than happy. Continue reading

Mobile Matters

A mobile phone that I like every bit of is among the things I am always looking for. I have not found it yet; with every iteration I am getting a bit closer to the ideal. Each one was better than the previous in some aspects, while of course being worse in others. I was always able to convince myself that the trade-off was worth while, but every time I got some new features, I also gave up some. If I were able to morph the best features of my last two and my current cell phone into one, it would be close to optimal. Continue reading