Archive for November, 2010

iOS4.2.1 on the iPad

Friday, November 26th, 2010

A couple of evenings ago (well probably the early hours of the morning!), I got around to syncing my iPad and accepting the iOS4.2.1 update.   This took hours to install on my iPad, although I think that was largely my fault. My USB hub was being hammered as I was also doing some backups between external portable USB drives at the time.  I’m sure the update wouldn’t have taken 2 hours otherwise!

I’m very happy with the update, although already miss the hardware orientation switch.  One thing I noticed yesterday that I hadn’t seen mentioned anywhere else is that when on the plane attempting to adjust the time zone, this is now set to automatic.  I didn’t take it off automatic and noticed that when I was at home again the time had been corrected for the new time zone.  I’m assuming this works like on Mac OS X where once one has a network connection it updates the timezone automatically.   I have to say that when Mac OS X started doing this it saved me having to remember to update the MacBook after each flight (and I have been flying between timezones about once every couple of weeks for almost four years).  The only thing to remember now is to set the timezone support correctly on the calendar.

I seem to have quite a few applications happily “multi-tasking” in the somewhat restricted but practical way in which Apple allows this on the iPad.  If I hadn’t read it in other blog posts I wouldn’t have known about the ability to swipe the “task list” to the right to get to the panel with orientation lock, brightness and iTunes controls.

I am really liking the AirPlay capability that is now available on the iPad.  I have an Airport Express connected to my hi-fi and the ability to stream audio directly from the iPad is really good.  I just wish that my iPod Touch were more modern (I still have a first generation which is not supported under iOS 4).  I’ve often used the remote application on the iPod Touch or IPad to control one of the Macs iTunes but the ability to bypass a computer is rather handy.   I feel that I shall probably buy an AppleTV before long and explore the video streaming to that.

Cameras

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

As I posted previously,  I bought a Nikon D90 a few months ago.  I knew at the time, that the chances were that some compelling new camera would be released shortly after I bought the D90 (which has been around for quite a while).  On the other hand, I had been spending a lot of time failing to make a decision about a camera and felt that the time had been reached when I just needed to get a new DSLR and start building up  a lens collection.  Well, the Nikon D7000 is now in people’s hands and seemingly getting extremely good reviews.  To some extent, I can feel good as the D7000 is above the target price I was setting for my purchase.  However, some of the reviews are so good, I think my notion that at some point I might want to upgrade to a full frame DSLR may no longer hold.   The D700 was way above my price range, but I can now seriously consider an update to a D7000 or its successor in the future.

All in all, I’m very happy with my Nikon D90 and I’ve already bought in to the NIkon system with three lenses (two DX lenses and one full-frame lens).   I might feel less need to worry about spending money on DX lenses in the future.

 

Keeping Software up to date on the Mac

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Keeping Apple software up-to-date on the Mac is easy.  Just run Software Update and follow the instructions.   Indeed if you are an administrator and have the right settings, Software Update will simply pop up periodically to tell you that new software is available.

However, updating third-party software is more tricky.   Adobe Flash is a pain on the Mac because unlike on Windows, it doesn’t automatically check for updates as far as I know.  I now find myself having a reminder every week or so to actually go to http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/ to check whether my version of Flash is up-to-date.

Other third-party software is getting easier in some ways.   Many applications now automatically check for updates on launch and will download and update themselves with one-click and the inputting of an administrator password.   However,  I often find myself just needing to do something and therefore not wanting to update an application just as I’m starting to use it.  I opened it to do something, not to update it.  Again I find myself putting little reminders to myself to update third party applications when I’ve deferred the update — otherwise I’m sure to forget.  I’d much prefer to devote an hour every couple of weeks and updating everything and knowing that everything is up-to-date.

I use to rely heavily on a little dashboard application (AppUpdate) by Georg Kaindl which would periodically check Apple’s site, MacUpdate and VersionTracker looking for updates to software applications.   This generally worked very well, but its utility has dropped significantly with the replacing of VersionTracker by CNET Downloads. A number of my applications never seem to show up on MacUpdate.

For a while I used AppFresh but found that it wasn’t that reliable.  Certain applications it would always report as out-of-date when they were not, and for others, even when they were genuinely in need of an update, it wouldn’t download the update.  It relies to a large extent on the information on i use this.

On my iMac I’ve successfully used the CNET TechTracker application, but although CNET claims that you can use the application on up to three machines, I found that using it on my MacBook would simply take me to the update details for my iMac.  Despite following the instructions (and uninstalling / re-installing the application), I haven’t been able to get that to work.

While I have mixed feelings about the proposed Apple OS X Application store, I can see that if it automates the updating process as we are all pretty much used to on our iOS devices, that will be a neat benefit.   I certainly wouldn’t want the Application store to be the only source of Mac software though.

For the moment on my laptop I think I’ll have to stick with making notes when applications report updates available and relying on AppUpdate for the things it finds.

MacBook Battery Life

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Recently on Allison Sheridan’s Nosillacast, Allison reported problems with the battery in her MacBook Pro.   By comparison, I think my battery is absolutely vintage as my MacBook is just a couple of months short of 4 years old, and the battery has done 922 cycles and claims its health is at 88%. It definitely doesn’t last as long these days although I can usually get through a couple of hours in the evening on the battery including an iChat video session and a video podcast or two. A couple of weeks ago the battery icon in the menu bar started to indicate that the battery was beginning to fail, but it seems to have had a bit of a second wind since then. A few times I’ve had to do one or two cycles of the Apple recommended cycle of run completely empty until the machine switches off and then charge up fully as otherwise I was finding that the estimate of time left was way out – it would get to 15 or 20% and then be fully discharged.

I think the battery will do a little longer although I wonder how much longer Apple will supply Black MacBook replacement batteries.