Saturday, May 28, 2011

Apple Religion: Apple tells a few lies - That's OK


"We will have android support and an email client later this summer."

Press response: Punish!

Steve Jobs:

"No one will ever watch video on a phone."

"We are not working on a tablet."

"We are not interested in making phones."

"There is nothing wrong with the iPhone 4 antenna.  You are holding it wrong."


Press response: That's OK.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Apple Religion: Hear No Evil - See no Evil

Recent studies have equated Apple buyers to being members of a religion.  I am sorry to say: this cult appears to extend to journalists and writers. Here's another example...

You can't copy a @#$%^&* file on an iPad and no journalist seems to notice!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Apple Religion: No Thunderbolt Devices = Just Great!

Recent studies have equated Apple buyers to being members of a religion.  I am sorry to say: this cult appears to extend to journalists and writers. Here's another example...

RIM Playbook Apps: Unusable

Few PlayBook applications were available at launch. More will be available this summer. Journalists decreed PlayBook is unusable.  

No Apple Thunderbolt Devices:  That's Terrific

No Thunderbolt data devices were available at the launch of the latest MacBook and iMac computers. Some may be available someday. Journalists said: That's just fine! Give us more!  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Apple is a Religion

Recent studies have equated Apple buyers to being members of a religion.

I am sorry to say: this cult appears to extend to journalists and writers. For the rest of the week, I'll share some examples...


RIM Reality: Negative Press on Minor Issues

RIM recalls 1,000 PlayBook tablets due to buggy OS build
RIM has decided to recall about a thousand of its PlayBook tablets thanks to a buggy operating system, the company has confirmed.

In other words: A A problem with 1000 devices that was fixed before anyone bought them was negatively reported.

Apple Reality: We Forgive You

Apple AntennaGate
Apple is temporarily giving away free bumper cases to iPhone 4 owners to address phone reception problems. The defect was never fixed. Every GSM iPhone 4 still has the problem.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Whitespace: I want a computer for the 'Post PC Era'

I think Steve jobs is the only CEO on the planet without ADD. The iPad is a great device for doing one simple thing at a time. But I don't work that way! For me, the web is all about: What else is out there? 

Whitespace: A tablet computer - not a big phone

The iPad evolved from a phone. The iPad is virtually identical to an iPhone - just with fewer features.

RIM has the opportunity to be the dominant Computer in (as Steve Jobs calls it) the Post PC Era. Building on QNX is a real advantage that no one else can leverage.

In technical terms, QNX is a mature real-time operating system designed to run on embedded devices. It is fast, efficient, technically advanced and robust.


In contrast, Apple's iOS is a phone-oriented task swapper that is remarkably similar to the 1989 version of Windows 2.0.

Apple IOS

From the consumer point of view, QNX let's you do many things at once. It's the opposite of the iPad, where focus is limited to mainly one activity.

I like to watch a movie, browse the web and read a book in rapid succession. If you think that's a stretch, just watch a teenager use a computer and you'll get a glimpse of the future. Either way, I have little interest in doing just one thing.

With my PlayBook,  'human directed multitasking'  is easy. Videos automatically resume when the player comes into view; and pause when they seamlessly move to the background. I can build up a reading list of web links while listening to music and then switch to a book or two. Trying to do the same on a iPad is an exercise in frustration.

I don't want to go back to 1989 with my tablet. I want to move into the future. And so do my teenagers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Whitespace: Privacy

General Motors used to say "no one buys based on safety".  Times change.  How's that workin' out for ya? Ask Sony about hackers.  Their PlayStation business took a big hit the last few weeks.

RIM and the PlayBook are well positioned with their BlackBerry Enterprise Server Virtual Private Network technology to lead us toward safer web access.

When Apple has this kind of lead, they invest heavily and further solidify their leadership position.  They have done this numerous times with LCD's, Flash memory and even Intel processors.

The next whitespace: Safe Open WiFi

Open wireless hotspots cannot be secured without using passwords that effectively remove the open part of the equation. Creating a Virtual Private Network (VPN) over an open WiFi link fixes the problem.  Data is safe; and the connection is seamless.

Here's the challenge for RIM:  Invest in a large scale VPN that leverages the BlackBerry Enterprise Server  for all RIM users. It won't be cheap but it will create the world's only safe solution for wireless.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whitespace: Right-Click

Why can't I do a right click on a tablet?  Lack of right-click gestures is one of the main reasons I still use my MacBook Air more than a tablet.  Right-click is a truly wonderful function.  Beginners can ignore it when doing simple things.  Experts can do amazing feats when they need it.  Few functions have such wide appeal.

The iPad can't do a right-click for two reasons:

1. Right-clicks were less useful on the iPhone (and the iPad is just a big iPhone with the same interface).

2. Steve Jobs doesn't think we need a right click. Apple users waited almost two decades to be granted right-click privileges on a Mac computer.

A right-click could be an extension a press and hold gesture used with copy / paste today more options on the pop up menu (but honestly this method is a bit slow for people who want to invoke actions FAST!).  Or it could be a proper two finger gesture like on a Mac trackpad.  Either way, Apple wouldn't put one on a tablet as long as Steve Jobs is around.  It's the best Apple Whitespace ever!

 - - - - - - - -

Want more proof that Apple doesn't get right-click?

What does a two finger tap do on an Apple trackpad?  You guessed it:  Right click.   


Do the same gesture with the new Apple Magic Mouse. Carefully rest your left finger on the mouse. Now click with your right finger without lifting your left finger.

What do you get?  Wait for it...  Left Click!    

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Artists know how to use it.

           Entrepreneurs salivate over it.

                It's WHITESPACE             

Apple has done well with whitespace. They succeed by finding underserved markets and providing better solutions. They don't look at the competition and say: "How can we be like the market leader?"

I have been asked several times: "Why did you buy a PlayBook?  It's not like the iPad".  My answer is: "I want better. I want more than a phone".

RIM has found several whitespace opportunities with the Playbook  First is the 7" screen. Second is the true multitasking QNX operating system.  Third is... wait for it... Flash!

For the rest of this week I'll suggest other whitespace arenas where Apple is not and RIM can win.

Just remember, winning with whitespace requires two steps:

1. Finding it
2. Executing on it

Over the next year we'll see if RIM can win.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Apple is All About User Experience

Apple insists that user experience is paramount! No expense is spared ensuring only the finest materials and technologies are employed to ensure absolute perfection!

Consider the Apple USB Cable:


Apple iPod / iPhone / iPad Connector - Proprietary circa 2000 design that was out of date before it was released. Pins typically fail within six to twelve months. Easy to knock out of alignment; occasionally hard to get positive lock. Internal parts made of plastic to avoid excessive wear with connected device. Reminiscent of recent Fisher-Price designs.



Blackberry Micro-B USB Connector - Industry standard that just works. 

Enough said.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pimp my PlayBook - Round 2

(No post yesterday - I was waiting for this one to dry)

A while ago I fixed a problem with the BlackBerry Convertible Case.  Today, let's tackle most famous of all PlayBook hardware nags: The Power Button.

Many people think the button is too small. Those with big fingers like me, know the button is simply recessed a bit too far.

I am a geek - so complaining is not good enough.  I must have a fix.  So here it is...

Raised PlayBook Power Button

1. Go and get a tube of  GOOP Adhesive.  It doesn't really matter which type of GOOP.  I have found they all work about the same. In fact, I use a Canadian equivalent from LePage.

2. Find some Duct Tape.  Just about any tape will do.  Duct Tape just has an aura about it.


3. Create a frame around the Power Button with a few layers duct tape.

4. Carefully pour some GOOP adhesive into the duct tape frame. Let it set for about 5 minutes.

5.  Remove the tape and gently shape the partially cured adhesive into a rounded button.

                               (Actual modification at 4X magnification)

6. Wait 24 hours and you'll have a Perfect Power™ Button.

The new button is a joy to use - and it works even better with the Convertible Case.

                  (Modification is invisible at normal viewing distance)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

OS Update

The latest PlayBook OS update was released last week.  Browsing and stability is much improved.  Some new apps were also added.

But a nasty bug has crept in for a few users: The battery drains when the PlayBook goes to sleep.

Non-geeks had many theories including: This is the beginning of the end  in 2012.

The fix is actually pretty simple: Open the new Video Chat application and accept the license agreement.

Odd, but this simple operation really does fix Build battery problems.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mobile sites: Dirty Little Secret

I still encounter a few mobile web sites with neutered content that's supposed to make browsing easier on small form factor devices. They rarely work as advertised. My PlayBook sees fewer of these lame web sites all the time. But Tara's iPad seems to find more
  redirected mobile content than ever...

Rules for showing mobile versus normal content have always seemed arbitrary

...then I figured it out!...

  Mobile sites are built to hide the Flash content shown on regular pages. 

That's right: Size has little to do with it. 
To avoid conflicts with Flashless Apple browsers, sites are using a 'mobile defence'.

Now we know their dirty little secret.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What Kind of Apps are You Building?

Someone asked me: What kind of PlayBook apps are you building?

While that's a great question, I think a better one is: What type of problem are you trying to solve with a PlayBook?

I categorize apps into two broad categories:
  1. Device intensive
  2. Data
Use-cases for Device intensive apps are: camera (still and video), conferencing - and specialized activities like DVD ripping. This category of application represents perhaps 20% of all programs that we use.

The vast majority of applications present data. A good example is my weather site:  It shows real-time sensor data from measuring equipment on top of my house. It also shows government forecast data that changes every hour.

With this type of app: It is the data that's most valuable.
Remember:  timeliness matters.  

Good web sites often focus on data. More and more 'mobile apps' surround this content with an 'app wrapper' that adds little to no value. I find things like native 'weather apps' to be pretty much useless packaging. Going to a weather web site is almost always better.

Favorites in the browser are a great way to access 'data'.  No downloading.  Up-to-date.  No fuss.  

Take a look at the PlayBook Browser Favorites page. The live thumbnail images
look like native apps. And they are better if the solution is mainly about the data.


That big elephant in the room has half a million apps. Many should be delivered via web sites. But you can't charge $1.99 for a bookmark can you?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to get a PlayBook

Here are the Top 10 Reasons to get a PlayBook 
  1. Seamless software updates over WiFi.  Old style iPads require a cable and connection to a PC running iTunes.
  1. Perfect size for sneaking into the bathroom for a quick read.  You know you want to do it!  With an awkward iPad, everyone else will know it too.
  1. You can use your existing wireless data plan for free - including iPhone data plans.  In many parts of the world, iPads are expressly forbidden from sharing iPhone data plans.
  1. Has a good looking flip case + stand that actually works. The new magnetic iPad case looks like a circa 1960 bi-fold closet door that is hard to hold when using your iPad. Some say it makes a great fridge magnet.
  1. You can easily copy files to and from your PlayBook.  File copying is forbidden on an iPad.
  1. Get an optimized tablet User Interface written in this decade. The iPad has just a phone interface from 2006.
  1. Shoot great looking 1080p HD video.  The iPad looks like a phone in comparison.  Oops, that's unfair. The iPhone shoots better video than an iPad.
  1. Great for thumb typing! The PlayBook is easy to hold and type. Typing on the iPad is like tapping on a cookie sheet.
  1. Watch any video media format. The PlayBook supports them all. The iPad shows only specially produced H.264 videos from iTunes.

and finally... the number one reason to get a PlayBook...

  1. Flash !!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Calendar, Contacts and E-mail

RIM chose to deliver version 1.0 of the PlayBook without  calendar, contacts and e-mail (a.k.a. PIM) applications.  They chose instead to deliver the world's best tablet Web browser and User Interface (UI) NOW so we could benefit from these leading edge solutions without having to wait.

I couldn't be happier. As a geek, I want to see rapid improvement and innovation in preference to so called 'fully-baked solutions' that often move forward at the speed of a glacier.

Here's what PlayBook PIM apps will look like later this summer.


RIM also pushed the third major update to the PlayBook earlier this week. That's 3 updates in two and a half weeks!  

I appreciate these frequent improvements. We are getting leading edge tablet software as soon as it becomes available. This is a major improvement over old fashioned tablets like the iPad that still have the same UI and design as my iPhone did two years ago. A tablet is NOT a phone. Giving us just a phone UI on a tablet is not good enough.

Geeks create the future.  Others wait for the future to be in the past.  PlayBook owners will ride a wave of innovation over the next few months and get the best tablet OS before most anyone else.  iPad laggards will have to wait for the Apple Developer Conference in 2013.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Portability Versus Size

Portability versus size is an important consideration. My notebook computer is neither small, or portable.  You really need a cart to carry it long distances.

Tara's iPad is smaller but still not very portable. 
Carrying a tablet is very much like a hauling a notebook computer. 

Finally the PlayBook.  It is ultimately portable yet it is as wide an old fashioned iPad.   
It also has more usable screen area thanks to margin gestures.  

And contrary to what I initially thought, the PlayBook is good in meetings
You can get work done but in an unobtrusive and subtle way.  
A notebook computer or old style iPad screams:
"antisocial" and "I am not paying attention". 
The PlayBook is much less in everyone's face. 
It whispers: "I am still listening to you...

Yep. The PlayBook is Practically Portable™.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

iPhone Hotspot Tip

My PlayBook works with my iPhone WiFi hotspot. Connection is seamless and easy. Of course that often means my hotspot is also accessible to others who might want to connect to my phone without my knowledge.

Protect your hotspot with a strong password, using a mixture of upper/lower case characters, numbers and symbols. You type this password infrequently, so a long password is not a big inconvenience.

Here's my tip: Use a misleading network name in place of the default which is something like 'Craig's iPhone'.

I routinely use hotspot names like unavailable, offline, not available,  disconnected and disabled. It is amazing how well this kind of name works. Even when I tell someone exactly what to do, they get confused and have trouble connecting to unavailable or offline.

BTW - Taking snapshots of the PlayBook screen (like above) is easy:
Just press the < volume down and volume up > buttons simultaneously to have a snapshot placed in your PlayBook camera folder.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The PlayBook is the Biggest Tablet You Can Buy

Most of us know the PlayBook is only 7 inches wide. Yet, I find that its effective screen size is larger than any other tablet available - including the physically larger Xoom and iPad.  How is that?

The PlayBook has User Interface gestures that originate in the margins. These gestures open slide-out context menus with BIG buttons that I can easily hit with my FAT fingers!

Here are some examples of how the PlayBook maximizes screen real estate with "margin gestures":

On other tablets, you need to click tiny links and menus at the edges of the screen.
My fingers never had a chance. 

RIM wins this round, hands down  - I mean - fingers down.