Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Introducing Pepper

This is a short entry to introduce a new family member.

Pepper was adopted into the family back in October. She is a Bulgarian bitsa (as you can tell from her bark), we don't know who her parents are but we see Beagle and Appenzeller in her. Here is a picture, What do you think?

Why Bulgarian? Well apparently Switzerland does not have enough of it's own mistreated or deserted dogs so they we have to import them via a dogs home from somewhere that does. I hope her Bulgarian passport doesn't give us trouble at the border.

When we first got her she was scared of everything (shadows, noise, dogs, stairs, the car) except people. She loves our grandchildren and over time she has relaxed a lot and is now house trained.

We had all forgotten how much attention a dog needs, but we all love dearly.

P.S. This entry was my first written on an iPad blogger app as "mobile" browsers have problems with rich text web editors. These Web editors need single character entry and mobile devices do line by line entry like the old mainframe terminals :-)

Welcome to my Pad

Only a month between blogs this time!

Hope everybody had a good Christmas season and a good start to the new year.
I know I did.

Did nothing spectacular but spent a lot of time with the family and that is always special. Ate lots of delicious food, as ever, but still managed to keep my weight steady (ish). Now it is time to do the final 6kg to get under 70kg, and then I'll try and keep it there.

Lots of new gadgets around the house over Christmas,
  Notebooks (Dell thing for Carol & Qosmio for Joss); Nice but boring.
  Bookreaders (Kindle for Amber ; Oyo for Kayleigh
  I-Pod Nano (should be Pico) - Trying to wean carol off of the old PJB
  Playstation 3 (Mario) - Ho Hum
  and the grandchildren got some toys too
  but the winner this year (biased opinion) ......

Welcome to my iPad

My toy this year was an i-pad and I have to say I am well impressed. What surprises me most is how the thing slips into your life within a few days and starts to become a natural fit between the desktop and the Phone. The standard jibe of the  iPad detractors is that it is just a big i-Phone, and in fact they are right! But having 4 times the screen real estate actually allows it to handle different tasks.

As most of you know, I work at home (about 30% of my time) except when I am visiting customers or attending internal events. In my (recently converted to) Apple world:

iPhone- Goes everywhere in my pocket and keeps me connected and provides the "on the move" applications:  Agenda, messaging, timetables, maps, clocks & alarms, breaking news, dictionaries (mobile Leo is just wonderful to have around).

iPad - At home: Provides all of the casual browsing that the notebook or netbook tried to provide, but never succeeded because it all took so long to get going and was not a book format. Added to that lots of easy to use apps, including all of those (non-phone) apps carried across from the iPhone. I just love sitting with my coffee and iPad first thing in the morning going through my agenda and e-mail for the day on a screen that is big enough, but no too big to relax with.

Traveling: I think the iPad is going to replace my notebook PC when traveling. I have all the applications I need to work on the road.  Numbers, Pages & Keynote should fill in for Office apps and an easy to use mind mapping tool (iThoughts HD) replaces any thinking I need to do :-)

The proof of the pudding will come in a weeks time when I am off traveling for a few days. But given that since I went back to work at the beginning of January I have only opened my work Notebook PC for two things
1. (Ironically) to use the Cisco IP phone that is (due to some  licensing restriction) tied to the MAC (ethernet) address of the PC.
2. To synch it up on to my network server (so all of the docs are already available to all of my devices) 
What do I miss in the iPad? : The Phone, I know it may sound odd but it needs the Phone too, and for why? Because I only want to work on one device at a time. So each device needs all of the screen size appropriate applications.

The Apple vision for the end user applications and user interfaces now becomes clear. Many of the  Phone & Pad user interface elements already exist on Mac OS as do many of the applications (and since last week they can be delivered through an App store just like the iPhone and iPad). We also already know that the next major version of Mac OS will adopt the multi-page app view and no doubt a few more things from the phone-pad evolution. This means that whatever Apple end-user device you sit with in the future will feel the same and have the same stuff on it. Jobs Done (excuse the pun)

This also answers  the question of where does the Notebook and Desktop fit in: wherever you like without compromising on functionality! I feel, at the moment, that for me (human communicators & conceptual and planning worker) the iPhone, iPad (with occasional keyboard connection) & iMac will be just right. But for others (e.g. intensive image artists or wordsmiths) perhaps the larger but 0 spindle notebook format would fit better in the middle, or maybe as well as. Oh, by the way, the NETBOOK IS DEAD (Wanna by one?).

Cloud or Synch
So what is wrong with the iPad, or more correctly, what is wrong with Apple's device succession at the moment? Well actually not much, but when it comes to content management it is a bloody disaster.  It is almost as if Apple thought the PC was going to be the central "agent" device which everything was synchronised with when "other" devices were attached. But then they realised  that these devices were becoming realtime push and pull slaves to (what we are now calling) the cloud  (but which is actually a whole bunch of randomly organised servers using mainly proprietary access mechanisms). Worse than that, they couldn't decide what to use for this inappropriate synchronising.

So we have on-line stuff (like e-mail on imap and files on WebDav) and manual synchronising through the via MobileMe (web), via i-work (web) and through i-Tunes (usb)  depending on the phase of the moon. And within i-Tunes there are 2 methods of synch depending on the content being synched. Books, music, videos (things that you might purchase) are synched down through the browser whereas files for specific applications via an apps tab for the device.

Some developers have added some extras too like direct proprietary WiFi synch (e.g. Appigo ToDo) and Dropbox (e.g. iCabMobile, GoodReader, iCabMobile) to try and help out but at the end of the day they are just making it more confusing.

Calling Agent Apple
I think we should forget the USB synch and look towards a personal agent technology accessed via the Internet (I think we can assume that now). In other words something that knows primarily who you are  (login),  what you are carrying (iPhone, iPad etc) and what the chosen apps (e.g. iTunes) that are available on that device for the different types of content (e.g. MP3 sound) that are available to you. The agent's job would be to keep the latest version of your (device relevant) content on the device. This content may be stored close to the agent or elsewhere in the cloud, but it would be the agent that had the knowledge of where the content lives (licensed content or your own stuff), of the access credentials for the content, and  how to deliver it securely to where you are*. Something close to Dropbox technology (try it you will like it) with a bit more intelligence dropped in the box.

I  tried to build such an agent over 10 years ago ) and was quite successful for handling my own stuff agent to/from PC, but no other the devices  were around at that time. If I remember correctly I used  X.400 (mail)  & X.500 (directory/security) protocols on a Cobalt Qube (Linux Box appliance) to do the job...... I think we we need a new version :-)


So that's enough for today, my intention was to review my favourite albums of 2010, but I seem to have got carried away on the Apple vision and then got real geeky at the end there.
Let's hope I can get the enthusiasm up to do the top ten before it becomes favourite albums of 2011.

Ian, have a good 2011 y'all