Pearl's Paradise

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled teams yearning to breath free…"

September 10, 2013
by Steve Pearl

Apple’s “Big” iPhone 5C/5S Announcement Hits and Misses

I’m so glad I dumped my Apple stock when it hit $600.00.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still think Apple makes killer products.  Nobody, but nobody, is better at basic industrial design and a rock-solid consumer ecosystems than Apple.  If you want the most elegantly designed, longest-lasting, most functional, personal computing tool on the market, the odds are it’s going to be an Apple product.

Every time someone asks me, “What should I buy?  A Mac or a PC?” my answer is easy.  If you want the most durable, easiest to use, best designed laptop on the planet, grab a Macbook Air.  Light.  Long battery life.  Blazingly fast.  Durable.  You’ll still be doing great work on it 7 years from now.  Spend more, enjoy more.

I can’t say the same for ANY other major PC manufacturer except Lenovo.  I’m in LOVE with my first-gen Lenovo Yoga 13.  (I’m typing this on it now.)  And from what I’ve seen of the Yoga 11s and the second gen Yoga 13, I think Lenovo has hit the sweet spot in the competitive laptop marketplace.  The Yoga line actually makes Windows 8 appear – dare I say it – usable.

Click to continue reading “Apple’s “Big” iPhone 5C/5S Announcement Hits and Misses”

January 6, 2012
by Steve Pearl

What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 3 – When iWork isn’t as Cloud-Friendly as You’d Like

(In Part 2 of this series we looked at Apple's entry into the productivity software world.  Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are fantastic tools for getting beautiful work done on your iPad.  But what if Apple's solution seems a little disconnected from YOUR world?  What if you use Google Docs and you can't seem to get your documents into and out of your iPad so you can edit them on the fly?  Buck up, friends.  This is your answer…)

Editing In the Cloud with iWork Alternatives

It's time to face reality, friends.  Apple isn't exactly known for its open-minded approach to computing.  Where Apple is concerned, it's either Apple's way or it's no way.  (Considering that my Apple stock is sky high compared to when I bought it and Microsoft's is stuck in 1st gear, I guess I shouldn't complain too much.)

You want to use that beautiful Mac Operating System, OS/X?  

Buy a Mac.  

You want to edit your movies with that gorgeously simplistic software called iMovie?  

Buy a Mac.

(Well, now there's iMovie on the iPad, but let's not quibble.)

You want to store your documents in "The Cloud" so you can download them, edit them, and the re-upload them no matter where you are in the world?


Click to continue reading “What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 3 – When iWork isn’t as Cloud-Friendly as You’d Like”

January 5, 2012
by Steve Pearl

What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 2 – Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

In our Part 1 of this series we set the stage.  I'm a geek, I love tech toys, and I have definite opinions about what high-quality, must-use software should be on just about anyone's iPad.  Now we get down to business.  It's time to talk APPS!

Real Work, Real Apps:  Apple's iWork Suite for iPad

Let's start our tour of "What's On Steve's iPad" with Apple's earliest and most mature contribution to the iPad software cause; The iWork suite.

iWork on the iPad includes the same three apps as iWork on the Mac.  Pages (Word Processing), Numbers (Spreadsheet), and Keynote (Presentations).

Pay attention to this caveat…  

iWork apps on the iPad still don't contain all the same features as their big brothers and sisters that run on Mac computers.  Running a productivity app like a spreadsheet on a small-ish 9.7", 1024×768 screen will cramp your style in a hurry if you aren't ready to make some compromises.  Go in forewarned.  

Forget mail merges.

Forget including links to external data sources in your documents.

Forget anything that even remotely looks like an advanced script or automation tool.

If the advanced stuff is your bag you better hang on to your trusty copy of Microsoft Office.  iWork on the iPad will disappoint in a hurry when it comes to advanced features even if it will be precisely the eye-candy you wish you saw every time you fired up Microsoft Word.

(For a decent, in-depth review of the software package, take a look at this PCWorld article.  Yes.  I'm deliberately steering you to a non-Mac publication.  Gotta go contrarian once in a while even if I am an admitted Apple Fanboi.)

Click to continue reading “What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 2 – Pages, Numbers, and Keynote”

January 5, 2012
by Steve Pearl

What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 1 – A “Best of Breed” App Guide for Noobs and Devotees Alike

The "Making Meetings Matter" and "Crisis Communications" series are on hold.  Right now I need to answer a burning question I found myself asked three times in the past two days.

"Hey, Steve, I'm buying an iPad.  What programs do you recommend?"

You want my opinion?  Really?  Little old me?  Awe, shucks!

Well, who am I to deny my oh-so-well-informed geeky counsel to friends in distress?

iPad, iPad…  Oh How We Love Our iPads!

A little over a year ago I posted an comprehensive list of what I considered "must-have" apps for the original iPad.  It was a pretty good list at the time, giving readers a solid idea of what I use on my own iPad on a day-to-day basis.  I included a software mix that showed the average user how to equip the iPad so they could leave their laptop at home and actually get real work done using Steve Jobs' self-proclaimed "magical" tablet.

Well, a lot of time has gone by since then.  It's time for a revisit.

I admit that most people aren't total geeks like yours truly.  Most iPad users really don't care about the nitty-gritty like, "Is it an A5 or an A4 processor," or, "How much usable RAM does it have?" or, "It heard it's supposed to render graphics up to 9x faster."  Though there are some people out there who know (or care) what "Jailbreaking" and "Cydia" mean, but most devoted iPad users could not care less.  They just love their iPad because it works well, it's super-cool, and by-golly Steve Jobs told them it was "magical."

When people see me toting my iPad (or my Android tablet, for that matter), they always ask me two questions:

  1. What Apps should I buy?
  2. What kind of case should I buy?

We'll tackle that second question in the future.  For now, let's take a bite out of the App store and talk about "Must Have" iPad software.

(NOTE:  Where possible, I'll include links to outside web sites that provide unbiased, in-depth reviews of each piece of software.  Caveat Emptor.)

Click to continue reading “What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 1 – A “Best of Breed” App Guide for Noobs and Devotees Alike”

June 8, 2010
by Steve Pearl

Ballmer the Emperor Has No Clothes… Or Clue

Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft and heir to the Bill Gates' Windows legacy, is a pretty wealthy guy.  Ballmer's earnings could probably do a decent job of taking a chunk out of the national debt if he really wanted to.

So you would be forgiven for thinking that all his accumulated wealth meant that old Stevie Boy was a really, really smart guy.  And he might in fact be a smart guy. 

He just didn't sound very smart when he whined on petulantly last week about the irrelevance of the Apple iPad.  As you'll see in a moment, Ballmer's characterization of the iPad pretty much screamed, "I'm the one wearing the clothes, I tell you!"

Perhaps you've heard about the iPad?  It's that slick new piece of hardware that everyone wants and that places like Best Buy just can't keep in stock.

Oh yeah…  I almost forgot. 

Microsoft had nothing to do with the iPad's flaming success.

Click to continue reading “Ballmer the Emperor Has No Clothes… Or Clue”

May 27, 2010
by Steve Pearl

The iPad as a Desktop Powerhouse: Keyboard, Mouse, and… External Monitor?

Hacker or Purist?  Which are You?

There are iPad purists and there are iPad hackers.  iPad purists insist that the iPad is just fine as is, a marvelous piece of hardware married to stupid-simple, rock-solid software.  iPad hackers, on the other hand, can't resist the temptation to tinker and crack.  To them, the iPad is just another piece of hardware territory to be explored, prodded, probed, and extended.

If you haven't figured it out already, I'm a hacker at heart.

(You know where this is heading, don't you?)

WARNING:  The solutions discussed in the pages to come involve "jailbreaking" your iPad.  Apple does NOT permit Jailbreaking under terms of your iPad license agreement, so proceed at your own peril.  I am not responsible for you "bricking" your iPad.  That being said, I haven't bricked my iPhone or iPad after jailbreaking, so your milage may vary.  One other note.  The updates presented do not work flawlessly, so be prepared for some minor headaches like drivers that need to be manually reawakened after the iPad goes to sleep.

Okay, now you can keep reading.

Click to continue reading “The iPad as a Desktop Powerhouse: Keyboard, Mouse, and… External Monitor?”

May 12, 2010
by Steve Pearl

The Scary Truth About Used Photocopiers and Your Personal Data

A friend forwarded me this link to a story over at the CBS Evening News site.

WARNING: Grab your significant other and a bag of popcorn first. This is a serious horror flick for people who wonder why their personal data keeps getting into the wrong hands.;contentBody

What's even scarier is that I didn't stumble onto this issue myself. As a CIO with about 20 years of experience leading IT operations, (not to mention being a reformed hacker from way back in the day), the thought that valuable company or personal data might have gone out the door with the photocopiers never crossed my mind. Yikes!

In the story, the reporter refers to the data that went out the door with a health insurer's copiers. Social Security Numbers, personally identifying information, phone numbers… Precisely the kind of data leaks HIPAA was designed to stop.

It's time for us to press the copier industry – Congress if necessary – to create protocols to deal with scrubbing such data regardless of manufacturer. In this case, a uniform plan of attack is critical, leaving no manufacturer and no platform behind.

Contact your member of Congress and urge action. Maybe together we can put the kind of pressure on that will effect change.

April 30, 2010
by Steve Pearl

Droid Incredible Update: “Houston, we have a problem…”

After hammering on the Droid Incredible for the better part of an evening I have come to a conclusion.

It's incredible!

As a multi-year iPhone user I can safely say that the HTC Droid Incredible is finally an iPhone killer, a mobile computing platform and phone equally appealing to both novice and power-user alike.  Though I can't speak to the one, central draw for most iPhone users – iPod functionality and integration with iTunes – on every other count the phone is at least the equal, if not the superior to Apple's flagship.  (I am the a-characteristic iPhone user.  I bought it more for the raw computing power and computer-like applications than for its ability to rock my world with deep cuts off the Doobie Brothers Greatest Hits compilation.)

The Droid Incredible, though, has an Achilles heel.  I didn't notice it at first, but after burning about 60 minutes of cell time hither and yon across the countryside, up the PA turnpike and down suburban side streets, I became keenly aware of the flaw.

The HTC Droid Incredible is incredibly radio deaf.

Click to continue reading “Droid Incredible Update: “Houston, we have a problem…””

April 29, 2010
by Steve Pearl

The Steve-O Ego: Jobs Pontificates Regarding “Flash”

I am not sure some days whether I love Steve Jobs for his singularity of vision about what constitutes computing excellence, loathe his arrogance toward any notion of opening the Apple eco-system to outside developers, or land somewhere in the resigned middle, where love and loathe live in equal proportion.  As an avid Apple user, I can't deny the sheer elegance of his team's products.  You can see from previous postings that I have at least as much Apple gear, if not more, than I have Windows. In fact, I honestly can't remember the last time I regularly used a Windows-based computer.

So why am I hammering hard on a new Droid Incredible that I just picked up from the Verizon Store this morning in a pre-launch coup?  Why, if Apple equipment and OS/X is so stellar would I even remotely consider dumping my beloved iPhone in favor of the Android phone du-jour?

'Cuz Jobsy isn't Jesus and the iPhone doesn't walk on water.

Click to continue reading “The Steve-O Ego: Jobs Pontificates Regarding “Flash””

April 28, 2010
by Steve Pearl

Hands-On with the Verizon Droid Incredible – iPhone Killer or Android Also-Ran?

This iPhone Owner Wants a Better Phone on a Better Network

37365 HTC Incredible tmb

If you follow along at home, you know I regularly use Apple equipment. It doesn't matter whether it's professionally or personally, I just find Apple gear to be more stable, better performing, and a better long-range value. I still have a five-year-old, Intel Core Duo Apple Mac laptop in the stable, purring along nicely with performance that still makes some of today's Windows 7 machines look stodgy.

So it's no surprise that for the past couple of years the phone adorning my hip holster has been some variation of an Apple iPhone. (First 2G, then 3G, then 3GS.)  Of course that's a "hacked" iPhone, friends. Apple's base operating system for the iPhone is artificially crippled by Steve Jobs' insistence that every aspect of the iPhone eco-system be lorded over by the Cupertino Cabal. As a mobile computing platform it's close to fantastic.  As a phone on AT&T's network, though, it's crippleware.

Therein lies a narrowing window of opportunity for Verizon.

Click to continue reading “Hands-On with the Verizon Droid Incredible – iPhone Killer or Android Also-Ran?”

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