Friday, May 20, 2011

Tablet Impressions

Tonight I had a chance to play with a few tablet alternatives to the iPad. Having an iPad already, I certainly wasn't in the market to buy any of them, but I wanted to at least see what the competition has to offer.

Samsung Galaxy Tab ($429, 16GB with WiFi and 3G)
This was the second time I played with the Galaxy Tab, and my impressions weren't much different from the first time. Out of the 3 I played with, it's probably the easiest to pick up and use, but that's about the extent of it's advantages. It behaves like an Android phone, because that's essentially what it is - a 7 inch Android phone that doesn't make calls. I also found it to be a little bit sluggish, like you would expect from a 2 year old Android phone. After playing with it for a few minutes, I basically felt like it offers no real advantages over just a regular Android phone. It's no surprise that it's price at $429 having dropped from its original price of $599, because it can't compete at $599 and I'm not sure it should even be able to compete at $429.

Blackberry Playbook ($499, 16GB WiFi)
I found this tablet to be a little strange to just pick up and use. Most of the navigation is done with multi-touch gestures, which made it awkward not really being familiar with the gestures that I needed to know. The overall impression I was left with is that the user interface isn't the greatest, but it does have usability potential. Like the Galaxy Tab, the Playbook is a 7 inch tablet, but did not feel like a giant smartphone the way the Galaxy Tab did.

Motorola Xoom ($599, 32GB WiFi, $799, 32GB WiFi and 3G)
Another Android tablet, but this felt nothing like the Galaxy Tab. It has on screen controls which can take a little bit of time to get used to. Doing simple things like web browsing was far more desirable on the Xoom than the other tablets. Another thing I liked was the 3D view on Google Maps. I am of the opinion that 10 inch tablets are more useful than 7 inch tablets, so it's no surprise that I found the Xoom to be the most enjoyable to use. The WiFi model seems reasonably priced, but the 3G model seems overpriced at $799 while the equivalent iPad sells for $729. The user interface wasn't the most intuitive, actually a little disorganized, but that may be the fault of Best Buy more than the Android OS or the tablet itself.

After playing with all 3 of these tablets, I found things that I liked, but I didn't find anything that's giving me buyer's remorse over the iPad. Perhaps some of it is being an iOS veteran now on my 3rd iPhone, but I didn't really find any of them as easy to pick up and use as the iPad was the first time I used it. Honestly, I have nothing against Android, I find it to be the most desirable alternative to iOS, but even the Xoom didn't seem to me like a tablet I could recommend over the iPad. It will be interesting to see what the competition offers in the future. Samsung is coming out with a 10 inch Galaxy Tab, hopefully better than the originally. HTC is also coming out with a 7 inch Android tablet in the next few days called the Flyer. Hopefully they do the 7 inch form factor a lot better than the Galaxy Tab did.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Will April 28 Ever Get Here?

Disneyland happens April 28. Right about now I'm ready to get the #%*? out of here. Sorry if I offended you with my foul mouth but I feel like this trip is what I need to get out of my rut and just party for a week. Some good California sunshine would really hit the spot right now.

Thankfully the weather in Utah is starting to get a lot better. Combine that with daylight savings and I'm able to do more outdoor things that I haven't really been able to do for the last 4 months or so. Sometimes doing something as simple as going for a short walk after work helps to unwind and relax. I've gone bike riding up the canyon a few times and plan to do much more of that this summer. I'm really starting to feel a desire to work out more since exercise always helps me to feel better. I'm also looking for people that I can play tennis with so if you play then let me know. And of course, there's ultimate fir

For my aspirations as a closet sports writer, I've decided to start a sports blog separate from this one so I can have this as my general purpose blog since I know not everybody is a sports fan. I may do the same for a tech blog as well, haven't decided yet. You can find the blog at Also, I tend to tweet about sports news on my Twitter account at My latest post is about the NBA playoff push.

I don't think I've posted anything about my new blu ray player yet so here goes. I was kind of bugged by the slow boot times and lack of features on my Samsung so I upgraded to the LG BD390. I've read some good reviews on LG players, especially this one in particular and I really liked the feature set. I bought from Amazon for $290, so far I really like it. The price might seem a little high, but I just like to have nice things. These days you can find a good quality player in the $150 range, I just got greedy for features. I really like how this player boots up faster than my old Samsung, which seems to be something LG really works on as there are a lot of players that boot slow. I also like the fact that it can stream media from my computer. It also streams movies from Netflix, Vudu, and Roxio Cinema Now, although I haven't used those features yet.

In other news, Obamacare passed which I think could potentially be one of biggest disasters in the history of this country. I have serious concerns about what it's going to do to our economy and put our government so far into debt that we will start facing serious consequences because of it soon. Basically, I haven't been happy with anything the Obama administration has done so far. I'm of the belief that our government needs to undergo a major overhaul with the budget to cut wasteful spending, and Obama has done the complete opposite. He spent $2 trillion trying to fix the economy and unemployment hasn't improved since he's been in office. I've basically lost faith in the Obama administration doing anything right and I'm just hoping we can slow down the long term damage he does to this country before the 2012 election. Hopefully by that time people in this country won't be still under that spell that caused them to vote for him in the first place. I believed from day one that Obama has been telling people what they want to hear and masterminded getting influential people like Oprah and several others in the media to support him. But I don't think I need to rant about Obama anymore since I'm pretty sure most of the people who read this are probably against him anyway.

In other news, the iPad comes out soon. Not sure what I've said about it before, but I think it's basically a solution looking for a problem. I have a laptop and an iPhone, and I don't see the need for a device that basically has the same functionality as an iPhone in a bigger size that isn't much smaller than a laptop, and doesn't have a keyboard unless you buy their dock and then you've basically turned it into an iPod touch desktop computer. I suppose it could be useful if you travel a lot and want to take something for watching video and reading eBooks. Even in those cases, I'm not sure why you wouldn't just use a laptop. So far over 100,000 people have ordered this thing so I'm guessing it won't be a complete failure.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:N 400 E,Orem,United States

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Windows User's Guide To Macs

Not that I'm trying to push you in that direction, just trying to inform you of some things to look for if you are a Windows user and for whatever reason you find yourself using a Mac.

Keyboard and Shortcuts

One of the first things you may notice about Macs is how the keyboard is different from Windows. Instead of the Window key, they have the Command key (Apple key on older Macs). Also, the Command key on Macs is located next to the space bar where the Alt key usually is on Windows machines. If you use a Windows keyboard with a Mac, the Window key will act as the Command key by default.

Another thing that's different is the keyboard shortcuts. Many of the common Windows shortcuts with the Ctrl key are similar with the Command key on the Mac. Such as Cut (Command+X instead of Ctrl+X), Copy (Command+C instead of Ctrl+C), Paste (Command+V instead of Ctrl+V), and Select All (Command+A instead of Ctrl+A). A few differences include closing programs and windows where on the Mac you can usually quit a program with Command+Q instead of Alt+F4 and closing a window is Command+W instead of Ctrl+F4.

Launching Applications

Instead of a taskbar in Windows, Mac OS X has the dock. You can put icons for all of your frequently used programs here for easy access, and this is where you can see your active programs. An open program is indicated by a small blue dot underneath the icon. To find all of your programs, you can go to the Applications folder. In Snow Leopard, you can easily access it on the right side of the dock by clicking the folder icon with an A on it. You can open the Applications folder by clicking the Finder icon (smiley face on the left side of the dock) and then selecting Applications from the Go menu, or with the keyboard shortcut Command+Shift+A. You can also launch programs using Spotlight. If you click on the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner (or keyboard shortcut Command+Space Bar) you can simply type the name of the application you want to launch, similar to the Start menu search in Windows 7 and Vista.


When multitasking in OS X, you can easily access your open programs through the dock, or quickly switch between applications with the Command+Tab shortcut, similar to the Alt+Tab shortcut in Windows. You can also see thumbnails of your open windows by using Expose. By default, the F9 button brings up Expose, or if you have a Macbook with the media keys on it, you can bring it up by clicking the key with the icon containing three small boxes inside a bigger box (F3 on my Macbook Pro), or on the Macbooks with the multitouch track pad you can bring it up by swiping four fingers across the track pad. When you bring up Expose, you can simply click on the window you want to bring it to the front as the active window.

Another note on the media keys, by default the media keys on a Mac keyboard will be the default instead of the function keys. You can change this in System Preferences if you would prefer the function keys instead.


Several 3rd party applications have equivalent Mac versions that you can download or purchase (Firefox, Office). The Mac equivalent of Notepad is Textpad. The Mac equivalent of Control Panel is System Preferences. iTunes is the default media player instead of Windows Media Player. Safari is the default web browser instead of Internet Explorer. Mail is the default e-mail application, similar to Windows Mail or Outlook Express on older versions of Windows. Each Mac comes with the iLife suite, which include iPhoto for organizing a photo collection, iMovie for simple video editing, and iDVD for creating DVDs from your videos.

Multitouch Trackpad

More recent versions of the Macbook and Macbook Pro contain a multitouch trackpad with features to simplify use. For example, you can scroll by swiping two fingers across the trackpad or four fingers to bring up Expose as I mentioned earlier. For right click functionality, you can put two fingers on the trackpad and then click. Also, there is an option in System Preferences that allows you to click in the bottom right corner for right click functionality.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fast Forward to Disneyland, I Threw It On The Ground, DURANTULA!


So a few of my friends are planning a trip to Disneyland at the end of April, and right about now I'm thinking I'd like to just hit the fast forward button on my life. Who knows, I may just go down there and decide to stay. I have a laptop, I can do my work from SoCal, right? The magical day appears to be April 28 for a 5 day visit.

So Many Things To Throw On The Ground

So Andy Samberg did this video for SNL called I Threw It On The Ground a few months ago and for some reason I can't stop talking about it. The first time I saw it, I was thinking this is just dumb, but then the magical line came up where he said "this ain't my dad, this is a cell phone!" Maybe I'm crazy for liking this video so much, you judge for yourself:


Ok, we're into the sports section now so you can stop reading if you're just not into that. I'd like if all of my friends who were sports fans would follow me on Twitter (, as I often have a lot of opinions on sports that I tend to express on Facebook, but I'd like to be more sensitive to the general audience I have on there.

Let me just say this though, Kevin Durant may be the most under-appreciated athlete in all of professional sports. In a sport where all of the big name guys have huge egos like LeBron and Kobe, Durant goes about his business quietly and he appears to do things the right way. Unfortunately, since he plays in Oklahoma City, he doesn't get a lot of attention as the Thunder (formerly the Sonics) have not been any sort of factor in the NBA since the 90s when they were in Seattle. I've decided I kind of like the Thunder now, not as much as the Rockets or Suns, but I appreciate what they've got going which appears to be a roster full of good young talent and they all seem like good guys too. And of course, you really can't argue that nobody has a better nickname than DURANTULA!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

NBA Trading Deadline 2010

Another trading deadline is past, and a few big names involved. The biggest name being Tracy McGrady, although he is past his prime now and his biggest asset is the fact that his contract expires this summer. That has to be the Knicks biggest reason for pursuing him. Perhaps they also think they may be able to sell a few more tickets by adding a "big name" as well. Quite typical of the Knicks, to trade for a guy with a huge contract who has at best questionable character. But it's all supposed to change this summer (at least that's what they want you to believe). Even though McGrady is the biggest name, he probably won't have the biggest impact on his new team. In fact, I would put him more along the lines of 3rd biggest impact. The player with the most impact in this trade will almost certainly be Kevin Martin, who is an offensive force that doesn't get a lot of attention because he's been playing on a bad Sacramento team. He's also being reunited with Rick Adelman, the coach he had a breakout season with in 2006, and plenty of opportunities to score as the Rockets are playing the entire season without star center Yao Ming. The Rockets also get Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, Hilton Armstrong, the Knicks 2012 draft pick (if it's not top 5), and the option to swap picks with the Knicks in 2011 (if it's not #1). The Rockets sent Carl Landry to Sacramento, which I like for the Kings because it gives them a post presence they really don't have, and Martin's scoring essentially duplicates a lot of what Tyreke Evans does for them. Essentially, the Knicks are giving up 2 first round draft picks (potentially high) to clear salary cap space. At that price, they better get Lebron or Dwyane Wade. Jordan Hill looks like a good pickup for the Rockets future, as they're basically playing for next year right now anyway.

The second biggest trade was the Cavaliers getting Antawn Jamison. Jamison is versatile at the power forward position, giving them a guy that can go inside and outside. He's not a superstar though, which if you look at Cleveland's roster they don't really have a superstar outside of Lebron. I'm not sure if this is the move that keeps Lebron in Cleveland, as he was more interested in the Cavaliers pursuing Amare Stoudemire.

The Chicago Bulls look like a team that's more interested in next year than they are in trying to improve the current roster, or cleaning out some locker room issues. They sent John Salmons to the Bucks, who was a key pickup for the Bulls last year at the trading deadline. They also sent Tyrus Thomas to the Bobcats. The Bulls are currently in position to make the playoffs in the East (6th), maybe they don't feel like this year is their time to make a big jump.

The Caron Butler trade from last week looks like a good move for Dallas as they try to close in on the Lakers in the West. Let's face it though, nobody in the West is beating the Lakers unless Kobe is having injury problems during the playoffs. Nice move to get a little better right now, not sure how much it's going to pay off though.

The Boston Celtics acquired Nate Robinson from the Knicks for Eddie House, Bill Walker, and J.R. Giddens. This was a case of the Knicks needing to get rid of Robinson because of his strained relationship with Knicks coach Mike D'antoni. Maybe the Celtics aren't happy with their bench scoring, but I don't know if Robinson is necessarily a better fit than House in that backup point guard position as they've relied on House's 3 point shooting off the bench.

The Utah Jazz traded Ronnie Brewer to the Grizzlies for a 1st round pick. The Jazz needed to save a little money as they are over the luxury tax threshold and the pick gives them a building block for the future. Not sure why the Grizzlies did this, as Brewer will mostly serve as a backup to O.J. Mayo. Not a huge impact there.

Not sure how much impact any of these moves will really have. The Cavs were on their way to the best record in the East. Perhaps Jamison helps them match up better with Orlando (Rashard Lewis) or the Lakers (Lamar Odom) in the playoffs. The Rockets probably have a slightly better chance of making the playoffs with Kevin Martin's scoring added to the mix, but they are really playing for next year when Yao comes back. Tyrus Thomas could make the Bobcats better, but not enough for them to win a playoff series. The Knicks will continue to be bad. The Kings still won't be very good, but it will be interesting to see how Carl Landry plays with Tyreke Evans. Boston may be slightly better with Nate Robinson, but I don't expect him to make the difference in any playoff series.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Technology Pet Peeves

Being somewhat of a tech enthusiast, I have developed several pet peeves about things in the industry for which I will explain below. These are mostly cases where technology exists and is not being used to its proper potential.

Devices with Built-in 3G

Something that bugs me just a little is the devices available that have built in 3G to connect to the internet through a cell phone network. It seems the majority of these devices are low priced netbooks and the upcoming iPad. Let's think about this for a second. Who is most likely to desire an internet connection on the go and be willing to pay for it? Most likely business users, especially those who travel. How many of them are using low priced netbooks with yesterday's technology on computers where they will need to run programs like Microsoft Office? Let's think about who is likely to buy netbooks - probably mostly college students that are likely to have WiFi access everywhere they go on campus and also not likely to have the money to pay for a data contract, which would be evidenced by them buying a low priced machine in the first place. I would be willing to bet that if these computer manufacturers did some market research, they would find that most of the people buying data contracts with cell phone companies are business travelers using middle to high end machines, and they would like the convenience of not having to carry a data card everywhere they go. I was pleased to find that Dell does offer a 3G option on some of their business laptops, but I would like to see this become a standard feature where you can choose your provider when purchasing the laptop. And not that anyone from Apple is likely to read this, but I would BEG for them to add this feature to their Macbook Pros on carriers besides overpriced, unreliable AT&T.

Media Streaming

This is something that the technology has been around for years, but has not really taken off for many reasons. In many cases, the software for streaming media from your computer is often buggy. Also, the devices that stream media often have poor user interfaces. Another thing that bugs me is the lack of streaming software that works well with your iTunes library. Considering the iPod is by far the most popular media player out there, most people are likely to use iTunes as their primary software for their media. Right now, it seems the intended way for you to stream an iTunes library to your TV is buy purchasing an Apple TV for $229, an extremely high price for how little the device does. It really doesn't take a whole lot to stream media from a computer on your home network, something I think could be done in a device that costs less than $100.

Remote Media Streaming

Another way I think these technology companies are really missing the boat is with remote access to your media library. This would essentially make the amount of storage in your mp3 player irrelevant. Imagine having a cell phone with the ability to stream your media from your computer at home over your cell phone provider's 3G network. The technology exists to do such a thing, but nobody is doing it. Why shouldn't my iPhone be able to connect to my iTunes library at home anytime I want? Why won't a Windows Mobile phone connect to your Windows Media library at home? I could understand if the cell phone companies want to hold off on allowing this over their network because of bandwidth concerns (AT&T in particular would be picky about this), but they could at least allow this over WiFi. The Slingbox is living proof that this can be done.

Cell Phone Exclusivity

I realize cell phone manufacturers are often receiving kick backs for having exclusive contracts, but do you really want to close yourself off to a large number of customers because of this? The most notable offender here is the iPhone's exclusive contract with AT&T. This has lead to several unhappy customers who generally like the device but hate AT&T's network. iPhone users typically use more data than other smartphone users, and AT&T's network is not build to handle the additional load in many areas. There are many other popular phones such as the Motorola Droid that offend in this way as well, although I don't think too many people are complaining about going to Verizon for that phone.

Please Support Blu-ray, Apple!

I have two laptops, and the main reason I still have two laptops is because my Macbook Pro does not have a blu-ray drive. Having been a Playstation 3 owner since 2007, the majority of the movies I own now are on blu-ray, so I would like it if the laptop I am most likely to travel with was able to play these. Thankfully, digital copies are becoming more common with newer blu-rays, but I still have several movies that aren't, and ripping blu-rays isn't an easy thing to do either.

To sum things up, I would like to be able to buy a Macbook Pro with a blu-ray drive and built-in 3G, I want my iPhone to stream media from my iTunes library at home, and I want devices such as my PS3 or blu-ray player to stream media more reliably on my network, and stream from my iTunes library if possible but if not at least stream from the folder that contains my iTunes library and do it well. The technology to do these things exists, now if only we could make all of this happen....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Twenty Ten or Two Thousand Ten? Saints Win Super Bowl (Wrong New Orleans team moved to Utah), My Brain Does Strange Things

How do you pronounce 2010?

So I've heard of some debate whether you pronounce this year Twenty Ten or Two Thousand Ten. The argument I've heard in favor of Twenty Ten is you would not have pronounced the full thousand in past centuries, like for 1910 you wouldn't say One Thousand Nine Hundred Ten. Let me present my argument for Two Thousand Ten. This past decade, you would rarely hear someone pronounce the year starting with Twenty, because it sounds awkward to say Twenty O Nine. Why would a new decade change the way you pronounce the year? Think about when you may be talking about several years in a row. Are you going to go say Two Thousand Nine and then Twenty Ten? It comes out awkward to pronounce consecutive years differently. So, any thoughts on the matter?

Rut vs Groove

So I tend to have this problem where I often settle into a rut. My life seems to turn into a routine that repeats itself on a weekly basis. I feel like I need to try new things, but the problem is I don't know what to try. This is one of the reasons I bought a skateboard at the end of last summer, although I haven't used it as much as I would have thought. Maybe if I had someone who could help me learn some tricks, I might do that more. I like to go bike riding, so anybody reading this let me know if you want to go sometime this Spring/Summer. Another thing I'd like to do more of is playing tennis. I've only played a few times, but found it to be quite fun. That'll probably have to wait for Spring/Summer too. I think another problem I've had is growing up in the south, I never really learned to participate in any winter activities. In the past, I have kind of just settled on coming home from work at night to play video games or watch whatever basketball game is on TV. I have an itch to do something else though, but I'm not sure what that something is.

iPad - the Apple product I probably won't buy

I like a lot of Apple's products - my Macbook Pro has been my most reliable computer and I haven't had any problems with my iPods. I've also found my iPhone to be much simpler to use than any Windows Mobile smartphone I have owned. But the iPad is a mystery to me. With the 10" (ok, really 9.7") screen, it's not really much more portable than a laptop such as my 13" Macbook Pro. In fact, I may argue that it's less portable because you have to worry about protecting the exposed screen, which is not an issue with a laptop because the screen simply folds over the keyboard. The device doesn't have a keyboard, unless you connect one when you dock it. Imagine trying to write a blog post on the iPad's touchscreen keyboard. Steve Jobs claims it's good for email, I beg to differ. I can pretty much guarantee that you would rather type on a full size physical keyboard than a touchscreen virtual keyboard any day. Steve Jobs also claims it's the best browsing experience... meh. It doesn't support Flash which is basically a necessity as it's the most commonly used format for online streaming video. Apple's solution for this seems to be something similar to the New York Times app they demoed during the Apple event. I don't believe people are going to want separate apps for many different websites that they visit.

The iPad to me seems like a solution looking for a problem. It's almost the size of a laptop, yet it's limitations are almost the same as you see on mobile phones. I'd also like to know why the 3G version of this device will carry a $130 premium. Does it really cost $130 to add that feature to the device? Why not offer the 3G version with a subsidized contract? For me, I could see myself playing with this device in the Apple store, but I have no plans to take this home with me.

Sports Section - You May Stop Here If You Don't Care

Saints Win Super Bowl

The New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl earlier today. Throughout the season I have discredited the Saints on many occasions, as I had a hard time seeing a team that was very average in 2007 and 2008 rising to the level of a Super Bowl winner. The Saints did excel at several things that Super Bowl winners tend to do, like winning close games and forcing turnovers. They weren't a stellar defensive team, but you don't necessarily need a stellar defense when you have the #1 scoring offense, especially if you have schemes that can force a lot of turnovers like they did in the NFC Championship game against the Vikings. It is a nice victory for the city of New Orleans given what's happened with Hurricane Katrina, and the Colts just barely won three years ago so it's not like we needed to see them win again.

NBA Update

The top of the NBA seems to be shaping out a lot like last year, with the Cavaliers currently holding the best record and the Lakers in a close 2nd. I am of the opinion that the Lakers should win the championship because of their superior talent, and if they don't it will either be because they underachieved or because they had severe injury problems. Injuries actually look like they could be a factor for the Lakers, as Kobe Bryant is currently trying to play through several injuries. Kobe will not miss a playoff game for anything he can possibly play through, but if something happened where Kobe couldn't play, the Lakers almost certainly wouldn't repeat as champions. Should the Lakers stumble, the Nuggets would seem the most obvious beneficiary as they have already given the Lakers problems this season, but don't be shocked if the Phoenix Suns make a serious push as well. The Suns are an inconsistent bunch, going from a 14-3 start to a 12-18 stretch to their current 5 game win streak (4 on the road). The come from behind in games, but they also blow leads. If you look at their rotation, they don't have glaring weaknesses, just inconsistent play from key players such as Amare Stoudemire and Jason Richardson. They also have a lot of young role players, but they seem to be playing very well now as Robin Lopez has moved into the starting lineup and Goran Dragic has had a few breakout games in recent weeks. The Suns look like a team that could lose quickly in round 1, or get hot and surprise a lot of people. I would be less optimistic about the Dallas Mavericks because of Dirk Nowitzki's past playoff failures, and the Spurs as age seems to be taking its toll on them now. Utah seems like another potential darkhorse depending on how the brackets turn out. They usually play the Lakers well in Salt Lake, although they rarely win in LA. The Jazz have also struggled against the Nuggets this season so their luck against both opponents would have to change.