MonthMarch 2011

Scroll On Scroll On: Saving Bytes and Brains Cells

How many times do you go hunting trough a list of applications in your Start menu? Why does it take you 2 minutes to locate the program you’re looking for on your portable drive? How many applications do you need?

It hit me today as I was scrolling through the folders of Tools on my USB key at a client’s desk. I have 25 sub folders and 16 applications for troubleshooting and fixing issues.

I built this “Tools” folder up over time. I tried to account for any situation I might encounter and have a tool ready for it. However, in truth I can’t think of the last time I ever needed most of them. I’m also pretty sure I have some tools I have never used.

How many times have I hunted through this folder for my anti-spyware tool or disk defragment utility? Why do I spend the brain cycles and time hunting trough a pile of files I never use? “Because I might need them one day and I want them with me,” I tell myself.

*No longer.* Today is the day I take a hard look at what I have listed and delete what I am not using. If I ever need it, I can always download it and if I find myself needing it often, I will add it back. Programs will have to earn their place in my Tools folder. No longer will I add them because they look cool or might be useful one day.

The same thing goes for my desktop both at work and at home. I have a huge number of applications installed because I love to try out the latest and greatest thing. However, I rarely adopt a new tool into my life or workflow. I also never go back and delete the pile of unused applications from my hard drive either.

Today that all changes. Today I open up Remove Programs and ruthlessly go to work on anything I don’t remember using recently or can’t remember what it does in the first place. ((Caveat being ONLY do this if you understand computers enough to know what it is that you’re removing. You can do serious harm to your computer by removing something important))

The same thing goes for my Tools folder on my USB key for work. Any applications I can’t remember using get the boot. If I need them, I will download them again.

Today is all about saving bytes and brain cycles. Hunting through unused folders and applications wastes time and attention. And those are my two most precious commodities.

iPad 2: How thin is too thin?

Upon reading Andy Ihnatko’s first look at the iPad 2 tonight a single line caught my eye and it’s been bugging me since the announcement this afternoon.

“But you kind of have to hold the iPad 2 to really get the redesign. It’s thinner by a third, plus its edges taper to a thin line of metal.” — iPad 2 is here

I owned a 4th Generation iPod Touch. I bought it to replace my ailing 1st Generation model and it is still one of my favorite pieces of technology ever. The iPod Touch changed the way I thought about media and entertainment on the go.

My biggest gripe in the upgrade to the newest, sleek model was the tapered edged. The iPod Touch is just .28″ deep. The iPad 2 is going to be .34″ deep. This means a very sharp tapered edge to achieve the incredible thinness.

This also means edges digging into your hands when held at length. Holding the iPod Touch when reading at length or playing Fruit Ninja was fine for short periods. However, when held for 10 or 15 minutes or longer, it would start to become uncomfortable.

The edges would slowly dig into my palm and fingers. There was no comfortable way to hold the device. No matter which way I turned of placed it, those super thin edges would dig into me. The great irony is the beautiful design makes you want to keep your iDevices naked. However, the functionality of the design screams for the use of a case, with soft edges.

When I got an iPhone 4 this past December, I was very pleased at how good those .37″ edges felt. Those straight, smooth, non-tapered non-pointy edges were bliss to behold, literally.

Having just received a 32 GB WiFi iPad for Christmas I am not in a hurry to upgrade it. It still feels new and I get excited every time I use it. I watched the announcements today mainly to see if Apple was going to announce a better way to sync the data between my iPad and iPhone, or if there was some amazing deal-breaking feature for the sequel.

Though I didn’t have anything in my head that would make me sell this one and buy the new one. It didn’t mean I wasn’t open to seeing what the Cupertino gang could dream up.

HDMI video out is going to be killer for some people. However, I have to wonder how many people need yet another device to export video to a big screen. We have a PC Laptop, a Macbook, iPad, iPhone 4, Wii, Xbox 360, Power Mac Tower, and an iMac to export video to our 42″ TV. Do we really need another device to show video?

Face Time on another device is only exciting if you talk to small children in far away places. My wife uses FaceTime with our little niece out west because she doesn’t sit still long enough to chat on a computer. With FaceTime on the iPhone she can wander around and show us things. I don’t see this being a killer feature in the iPad. What’s the benefit for FaceTime on iPad versus iPhone or the a Mac laptop?

Though again, I am not a big video chatter. Also, Apple hasn’t mentioned the resolution of the cameras in the iPad. Will they be high quality like the iPhone 4 or barely usable like the iPod Touch. It’s these details that will make or break the usefulness of the cameras for most people. How about a better way to move photos from iPhone to iPad instead of syncing through iTunes?

A faster chip is always nice., the A5 being dual-core is a boon to the future of the product. Of course there’s going to be faster chips. Two times the speed and 9x the graphics performance means better games and other applications like iMovie.

Smart Covers. Now there is a brilliant idea and the one killer thin that caused me to stop and reconsider the iPad’s second coming. Then I snapped to my senses. It’s a cover. It’s a glorified microfiber wipe and cover for your iPad. That is not enough to sell me on a new device. It’s a brilliant implementation and if it works half as well as demoed will be awesome.

My biggest excitement comes in the form of the new iOS features.

Rotation Lock is a nice option to have back again for the iPad. Since the Mute switch doesn’t mute every sound coming out of the device, it doesn’t work well as a mute switch. I’d much prefer the rotation lock. I got my iPad after the removal of the rotation lock option so I am excited to have it for the first time.

Personal hotspot for iPhone 4 only. How long will it take for AT&T to implement it? Will it even be worth it with the limited data plans? It could be a great feature, or it could be a total non-starter. It all depends on AT&T and their track record has been abysmal. Will Verizon have put enough pressure on them to force their hand in reacting quicker to Apple’s new features?

iTunes Home Sharing is exciting. I’ve used it to manage and backup libraries between computers at home. I don’t sync any music to the iPad so it would be nice to be able to just pull over the few songs I want.

iMove would excite me if I shot video more than once a year or had a child to show off. I couldn’t care less about Garageband as I’m not musical. Photobooth, just as on the Mac was a lot of fun, for about 15 minutes. Then I forgot it existed.

I am curious the enhancements to AirPlay and (hopefully one day AirPrint) since I am much more curious how Apple is going to connect their walled gardens of iPad and iPhone. It really is obnoxious to have the same app or game on both devices but have no convenient way to share data. If everything had Dropbox syncing, the world would be a better place.

Safari is faster. Faster is always better.

There was nothing in the announcement today to make me seriously consider selling my iPad. It will be cause for those holding out to run to the store in a week and pick one up. The device is an amazing feat of computing and has changed how I read and spend my time in the evenings.

I will still go to an Apple Store after they’re released and pick one up. I’ll hold it. I’ll judge its heft against the original. I’ll see how it feels in my hand. I’ll imagine holding it for an hour, reading a book and see if those .2 pounds makes the pointy edges any better.

My guess is it will look beautiful but still be a pain to hold. I’d love to be proven wrong. However, MG Siegler’s preview in TechCrunch are not encouraging, “iPad 2 feels quite a bit like one of the newer iPod touches, just larger, obviously.”

Not everyone is a nerd like me

I wrestled with starting Tech in the Trenches. I’ve kept blogs as an HTML file (back in the days of Xoom.com), Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad, Textpattern and currently WordPress. I’ve got a pile of notebooks from school where I used to write obsessively. Song lyrics, (terrible) teenage poetry, musings and thoughts on whatever popped into my head. I wrote often and still write daily.

I hesitated starting this blog because I never had a single topic in mind where I could focus my writing. What I wanted to focus on was technology and recommendations. But I felt like everything I wanted to say had already been said by others.

I would say to myself, “What is the point in writing about this app or this website? [Shawn Blanc](http://shawnblanc.net) or [John Gruber](http://daringfireball.net) have already covered it better than I ever could.

In addition to being an obsessive writer, I am also a compulsive reader. I digest tech news and writing through hundreds of RSS feeds, blogs, podcasts and articles I come across everyday. [Johnny 5](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091949/) and I share the cry for Need More Input!

It is because of my massive consumption of tech news and information, I have the tendency to assume because I am aware of that cool website or application those around me are as well. However, this is clearly not the case. Not everyone reads like a man obsessed.

That is partially what pushed me over the edge into starting this blog. I wanted to share the interesting things I found and knew about. I wanted to help other people find interesting things to make their lives and work better.

I want to share what I find with friends, family and the strangers who somehow stumble across this space from Google searches, or Tumblr links.

I finally realized I don’t need to be the first person ever to talk about something. Nor do I need to be the best person to talk about it. I need to write what I want to write and not let the self-doubt stop me.