Category Archives: GCMAC

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LG OPTIMUS ELITE – iPhone 3G CloneFamilies using Electronic Gadgets don’t talk to each other.

Simply put, the iPhone started a telecommunications battle royal, as well as a mobile revolution. Not only for “geeks” like me, but anyone who can afford the huge price for data service that comes along with the price tag of the phone itself.  You barely see a flip phone anymore.  With subsidies, just about anyone can get sucked into a 2 year contract for a “free” iPhone (3GS) or a $99 iPhone 4.

All the electronics companies have jumped on the bandwagon, with Samsung Galaxy III running Google’s Android OS leading the chase of Apple’s iPhones (still only able to access 3G data networks), Windows mobile a pale third place.  The GS3 is HUGE compared to the iPhone. Great if you want to watch movies, unwieldy just a tad, in my opinion to put into your shirt pocket.

Apple is the most valuable company in the world. The iPhone helped make it so and it’s sale alone exceed ALL OF MICROSOFT sales combined. My last iPhone was a 3G (still in use by my grandson). Had a Samsung Galaxy S on T-Mobile which was a very fast phone on 4G HSPA+ data (4G supposedly) network. It’s now an orphaned product unable to use the latest Android OS.

T-Mobile is now as outrageously priced as ATT with no flexibility, once you have signed a contract. Their data network is the fastest with 40mbps available in some large markets. No other carriers offer data service even close in speed.  The ads they run claiming “unlimted data” is a bold face lie.  They cap at 2 or 5GB after which the speed slows down to Edge (2g) speeds.  However, they are the only major network NOT offering the IPhone. They plan to offer the radio frequency the iPhone 3G data Service runs on. So millions of iPhone 4G phones (unlocked) currently using TMobile, will get faster data service than on ATT.

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Along comes Richard Branson and another Virgin product, Virgin Mobile (on the Sprint network). Their service is “Pre-paid”. $35/month gets you 500 minutes of talk time, unlimited text and data. $45 dollars a month gets 1200 minutes talk, unlimited data and text. Less than half of what I was paying T-Mobile. T-Mobile offers a $49 PLAN plan if you get two lines capping data at 2GB and a two year agreement.

For a hundred forty-nine bucks
($149) the LG-OPTIMUS ELITE is better than the Galaxy S, iPhone 3G and has a faster processor than iPhone 4, particularly because of it’s 2 gigabyte built in memory and faster processor. Memory is expandable (unlike iPhones) with MicroSD cards up to 32 gigs.

For the price (now under $100) – it’s the nicest small smart phone I’ve owned and works well with a 4GB or 8GB card. It’s maybe 2mm taller than the 3G and a soft rubber iPhone 3g case fits petty well with an Exacto knife modification.

Continue reading LG OPTIMUS ELITE – iPhone 3G CloneFamilies using Electronic Gadgets don’t talk to each other.

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Apple Readies New 15″ Mac Book ProWhat About the MBP 13″ & the Mac Pro Towers?

According to this article on 9TO5Mac, Apple is readying a new 15″ Macbook Pro, What about the 13′ and 17″ models, iMac and especially Mac Pro Towers?  Not much has even been speculated about these other MAC models, the iMac or the Mini.
15" Macbook Pro Mockup Sans Optical Drive
Mockup: New, thinner MacBook Pro on the left. Current model on the right.

Apple’s pattern of releasing new hardware over the last few years, has been to release both 13″ and 15″ new models at the same time. This has held true over the last few Macbook Pro iterations, with a new 17″ version coming a few months later.

It may be that Apple is planning to discontinue the 13″ Macbook Pro altogether, in favor of a “beefier” 13″ AIR model (sans optical drive).  Which is what the rumor mills seem to suggest is happening with “Air Downing of the 15″ model”, removal of the optical disk drive to make it lighter and thinner.  Although, prices are dropping on Solid State drives which Apple is leaning towards in ALL models, making hard drive makers, well a bit nervous I imagine, but also more innovative.

Keeping an optical drive in the Macbook Pro 13″ model might make some sense for now, unless the 13″ Air can move UP to the processor and memory specs of the Pro line to replace it.  But I don’t think users who want portability, like the idea of schlepping around an external DVD/burner/player. I don’t think Apple cares about eliminating parts they don’t actually make themselves (like floppy drives and optical drives).  So it would not surprise me to see the model line up change in this way.  Prices are dropping on Solid State drives, which Apple doesn’t make on their own yet, but that could be why they bought the Israeli company who has been designing them, and expanding a manufacturing plant very quietly in Israel.

As more Thunderbolt peripherals come online, and EVERYONE putting everything into one “cloud” or another, optical input is moving the way of the floppy  and becoming “obsolete”.  Remember Apple did this on the Bondi Blue iMAC (first consumer desktop computer model at the time without a floppy drive) and I wrote I thought they were crazy. Yeah like foxes!

Then they came out with the iPOD and I thought, who would ever want that? (I’ve had 3 iPods and three iPhones so far)  Apple pushes the technology envelope and that is why they lead it.  There has also been some speculation that Apple has been secretly bidding on mobile phone frequency or an outright purchase of T-Mobile USA to get it’s own wireless network.  They love “end to end control” and up until now, the telecom companies have just been thorn in their side, except that they (Apple) got the better part of the iPhone deal than AT&T in the end, who are now forced to scramble for new mobile data frequency “air space” to accommodate all of the data hungry smart phones (and not just Apple’s).

What interests me more is when and where (or if) we will see a new Mac Pro form factor? Producers, Cad Artists, Video Producers, Scientists,  all want all of the horse power they can get and up until now, the Mac Pro Tower has been THE TOOL in every advanced studio, lab and editing suite in the world.  It’s the only Apple model with extensive expandability. Perhaps we will see a new CUBE model serve as the new PRO computer with less than the TOWER expandability, but significantly more than the current MINI.  Perhaps a box with hot swappable hard drive bays right up front (wouldn’t that be novel for Apple to make something really user friendly? <JK>).  With new 3 TERABYTE hard drives, a small form factor desktop editing powerhouse might really interest say, the ENG (Electronic News Gathering) and Pro Video markets.

In the PRO world it’s all about graphical processing speed, transportability of huge amounts of data, and HUGE amounts of easily accessible storage. Even in the field, I’ve seen large RAID arrays hooked up to MB Pro’s.  The Mini is just that, a mini-mac at the cheapest price entry point.  It was meant to convert aging PC labs in schools with good monitors and other peripherals NOT EVER to be a Mac Pro .

However, the iMAC seems to be a more popular choice even in the education market, not the mini.  Editing Pro’s are now opting to go with with 27″ iMac models with two (2) Thunderbolt ports means a second, third or fourth monitor support and 1GIGABYTE AMD graphics cards, the iMac is a respectable competitor for that “high data manipulation” market. Rumor mills conjecture next iMacs will have 2 and 4 gigabyte nVIDIA graphics cards and not AMD.  And you will be able to “daisy chain” multiple RAIDS so will the Mac Pro internal storage and expansion slots even be necessary?

The pundits point out that with iPhones and iPads are outselling MACS by a wide margin, adding they might abandon the “PRO” market altogether to become a “consumer product” only company.  That would be a shame.  I loved the 24″ iMAC I had but went to a 13″ Macbook Pro with the 24″ Display with all the connections for USB etc.  With an AIR I would have had to buy an optical drive although I do have a few cases laying around, so that wouldn’t have been an issue.  The AIR at the time just didn’t seem to have the horsepower I wanted for Dreamweaver and Photoshop, not to mention Final Cut Pro-X.

MacProMini

The Mac Pro form factor has been exactly the same since it was introduced with Motorola G5 chips.  So it’s really gone long in the tooth.  I’ve never really liked it that much as it is HUGE and is uncomfortable on a small desk usually winding up UNDER the desk. Unquestionably it was a beautiful engineering design – back then.  Apple has gone through many iterations and changes of all of it’s other products, except for the case design of the PRO model.  I think it’s about time, and I would like to see a couple new form factors, even Steve Jobs’ dream of the “perfect cube”.

Is Applecare Worth the Added Expense?

Typically, I have to concur with Dougal about rejecting “extended warranties” in the past. That said however, it still is an extra profit center for manufacturers, and really doesn’t ever cost them anything. If you consider they to invest your money the entire time they have it, until your machine breaks, they have made the cost of repair ten times over what you paid.
But then on the consumer side, there is a distinct advantage for buying Applecare. I have repeatedly spoken about how I buy machines, always opting for a refurb than a new box. Never buying the first generation to begin with of a new model in the first place and NEVER without Applecare.

Apple does have the reputation for excellence in design, engineering and manufacturing. However precise electronics parts manufacturing might be, there are always flaws that can occur.

Mother boards are made by soldering the parts onto the board. Solder is a pliable soft lead based metal that is affected by heat. We ask know computers generate heat. Even today server rooms are kept as cold as they can make them, in order to protect delicate electronics from heat and humidity.

One of Steve Jobs “pet peeves” was fan noise. Evidenced by the lack of a blower or fan at all in the original iMac. That machine baffled me completely. No floppy drive, outrageous? No serial ports, only USB? NO FANS? Surely Apple has lost it’s friggin mind!

IMac was the first significant change in Apple’s lineup upon the return of Steve Jobs from NeXT computers. I expected that first machine to be more like the cube NeXT box. But a transparent Aqua  bubble with a hockey puck mouse? I sold off most of my Apple stock (only to buy it back later on) thinking the pundits were right, “Apple is a dying company”.

Avi Learner – Marketing Graphics – Apple / PC Consulting: alearner@mac.com
317-938-9333 Skype: avilearner

Will iPhone 5 Remain King of Smart Phones or will Android Dethrone the Mighty Apple?

There is little question iPhone has changed the mobile phone landscape since it’s inception. While anticipating the release of the iPhone 5 Apple released an incremental update , the iPhone 4S. Apple has succeeded in maintaining it’s superior quality and popularity over Android competition by far and is still the most sought after smartphone in the world. I am an Apple “fanbois” ever since my first Apple II. Apple has now released the iPhone 4S, an incremental update to the iPhone line with some neat new features. Number 1 is SIRI a voice activated search program.This software alone has doubled AT&T’s data usage and caused many to use their data allocation far quicker than with earlier versions of iPhone.  It sports a faster processor and a higher resolution camera. Comments on the various financial websites seem to favor the idea that iPhone 5 was not quite ready for production, and the release was more to appease shareholders and stave off the onslaught of new Android devices.
The iPhone Still Mystery

Retired for now, I don’t anticipate ever being able to work 12/14 hour days as I used to programming, maintaining computers and networks. Got four or five hours at best of “up” time when I have the most energy to get out and about. So I need my phone to do a lot of what my laptop used to while resting in bed. (started another round of chemo this past week and can’t wander to far from the lavatory).

Being perfectly honest, my first computers were Atari. We all know some history about that company. Little known is that Jobs & Woz took their first design Apple to Atari and were promptly shown out the door. Apple may have never been born had not Atari founder Nolan Bushnell (who wanted to work with Jobs and Wozniak) sold the computer division to Jack TramieI’s Tramel Technology Ltd. In 1984, the original Atari Inc. was split, and the arcade division was turned into Atari Games Inc. Atari Games received the rights to use the logo and brand name with appended text “Games” on arcade games, as well as rights to the original 1972-1984 arcade hardware properties.

The Atari Consumer Electronics Division properties were in turn sold to Jack TramieI’s Tramel Technology Ltd., which then renamed itself to Atari Corporation to build computers. Jack Tramel was the jerk who laughed Steve & Steve out the door. Bet he has regretted that move ever since.

IPhone has some serious competition these days (especially from Samsung – iPhones use a lot of Samsung components) . I think the only really serious competition is from Android OS devices, which like Microsloth before Google, made their OS available to any computer maker willing to pay a license fee. We all also know the history of that move, and it’s impact on Apple and Macintosh.  The irony of course was that Google’s CEO sat on the Apple board for the years iPhone was still in the dream stage, then even when it was released.  I’m sure he was privy to plenty of inside information, and finally left the board taking a slew of prime Apple employees with him to work for Google’s own OS development team.

Google’s Android OS is the main challenger now to Apple’s IOS without a doubt. Rim is fading, HP bought out Palm OS and is a distant fifth or sixth. Nokia, worlds largest handset maker is stuck on Symbian, another closed circuit OS at least to the average consumer, with few developers concentrating their application development for that singular platform.

Many early purchasers of iPhone, were stuck with a two year contract with ATT, groaned with discomfort as new iPhones have come out every year, forcing them to extend contracts another two years, each time they buy a new iPhone.  I jumped ship when ATT raised their 3G data plan $35 when I bought the 3G iPhone. Initially, 3G seemed markedly faster but after one month of use often dropped to 2G around Miami, so why did I have to pay more? ATT would not agree to let me pay for the old 2G service only, so I dumped ATT and went to T-Mobile even though I’d only get 2G data speed on my 3G iPhone.

I found browsing mostly tedious with the Safari browser the main reason for having data plans anyway. Constant mis-clicks on a link, when simply trying to scroll a page jumps you to another website, a complete annoyance (still present on the iPhone 4 with no control to adjust the time a link must be pressed to activate, it just happens instantly). No other free browser (at that time) and as I recall, very few other real apps (web only).

Samsung Galaxy S II

After about a year using iPhone 3G on T-Mobile the phone seemed sluggish, even when using WiFi, so I completely wiped and reloaded it with just the basics, plus the unlocking tools I needed to run on T-Mobile.  The FCC passed a “decree” saying it was NOT illegal for end user to unlock or “jailbreak” their iPhones, which is expressly forbidden in the iPhone EULA.  A dilemma Apple was not happy with, yet most end users are not adventurous enough to hack their expensive phone and turn it into a doorstop, which is what Apple wants everyone to believe would happen if the phone ran anything but sanctioned Apple software or third party programs.  It took them a full year to implement “Copy& Paste”, while I enjoyed that feature through a third party app NOT sanctioned by Apple the entire jail-broke time.

The 3G iPhone eventually seemed very slow, compared to the features now selling on the iPhone 4 (not 4G) comparatively.  I wondered if there might even be a built in “obsolescence” to iPhone components causing the slow down, designed intentionally to get users to “buy” new phones every year.  That would have been okay by me, hadn’t the service provider (ATT) required a two year agreement, in order to use the phone.  What a racket Apple & ATT set up. And yes all of the providers do this in the USA, while in Europe most countries forbid this exclusionary practice.

Even stripped to the bone with no photos, videos or music, the 3G seemed clunky next to my daughters iPhone 4.  I wasn’t about to re-sign with ATT, and Verizon had yet to get iPhone, what was my alternative?  T-Mobile deployed their HSPA+ network they deemed 4G, unquestionably the fastest network at the time.   Concurrently they started selling the Galaxy series phones with “4G” speed. The data speed in my neighborhood is well over 10mbps peaking at 18/19mbps late at night.  I can see the cell tower from my bedroom window, so I imagine that’s why I consistently have a fast, secure connection.  I can share my phone as an access point for my laptop, and Speed-tests prove it’s by far faster than my cable connection exclusively provided by my landlord (which I rarely get 1.5mbps) which it’s supposed to be 3mbps.

So yes Virginia, I jumped off the iPhone bandwagon! At first I hated the Samsung Galaxy S 4G.  I wanted to return the phone, but I thought I had thirty days to decide, which turned out to only be 14 days.  So I was stuck.  Yes the Galaxy S 4G runs circles around the iPhone 3G, but after a while even it seemed to slow down terribly, getting it loaded up with apps, photos, videos, it started to get clunky as well. Then I lost my phone.

Unlike ATT for iPhone, T-Mobile offers a reasonably priced insurance plan to protect against theft, loss or breakage, so I got a new phone!  Boom, lightening fast again.  The phone came with a 2GB micro SD card. I bought a new 32 GIG card from NewEgg for $39. Tmobile Magenta Girl An unlocked Android phone can move applications or anything really onto the SD card for use.  So I load all third party apps to run from the SD card, leaving the OS and primary apps to the internal memory management.

Firefox is available free from Android Market and is a joy to use.  There is a thin “glide” area which allows for screen scrolling to be performed from the extreme right or left, settings in preferences. There is a slide out drawer showing mini views of pages you’ve migrated from, quickly being able to switch pages, and tabs like the desktop versions.  I just found a “dock” replacement where you can load anything from Apps to a direct dial phone number accessible from any “home” screen.  It’s much faster that the stock Android launcher, and adding Apps or links to the “home screens” is also much faster.  An Application called “Speed Boost” keeps the system clean and running at peak performance.

I also love the “Swype” technology on Android, text entry method, which I actually hated at the beginning. It’s much faster and remembers often used words such as “avilearner” which I often use logging into different websites.  As I mentioned before, the 4G speed is impressive.  It doesn’t seem so great when I get near downtown Indy, but I imagine T-Mobile will fix that soon.

I’m praying that the ATT/T-Mobile deal does NOT go through, I’d have to jump to some other provider, as I never intend to pay ATT another penny for ANY service.  I’ve thought with Apple’s cash hoard, they could outright buy the T-Mobile network from Deuche-Telecom and continue to be a leader in the cell phone market.  They could still sell universal handsets that work on any network, but then add featured based web and data services unique to their own network to lure customers away from the monster providers ATT & Verizon.  There is a legal battle going on to block the merger, and I hope it succeeds.  I just hope that Google doesn’t swoop in and scoop up T-Mobile, cause they have the backbone to do it as easily as Apple could.  I guess I’d upgrade to the the Galaxy S 4G II, which promises to be the real competitor to an iPhone 5, whenever Apple decides it’s release.

Many pundits feel there will be an iPhone 4S rather than a “5” released sometime this year, to capitalize on the holiday buying season.  Apple has already broken the yearly release pattern, so it’s plausible to think this could happen.  They are also actively working on an iPAD 3 to compete with all of the new tablets coming online in time for the holiday buying season.  Although both iPhone 4 and iPad 2 are selling very strongly, many people are holding off upgrading, waiting for Apple to spill the beans on iPhone 5, which they never seem to do, before they are good and ready.

For now, I’m happy with my Samsung phone.  And don’t forget the battle between Apple and Samsung in this mix.  Samsung provides many of the key components used in the iPhone. Apple accuses Samsung of stealing proprietary stuff from iPhone and successfully blocked the sales of some Samsung devices in Europe and Austrailia.  Only Apple is standing in the doorway trying to keep the products away from wanting consumers, including iPhone users fed up with the wait for new phones.

Upgrade To (Mountain) Lion or Not? I’m (not) Waiting (any longer)

IMG_0751.thBefore I could finish this article, Apple has announced a new operating system called “Mountain Lion”. I recently “upgraded” to LION and so far have not had any problems except older PowerPC programs that used to run under Rosetta, don’t run any more.

My guess is new machines will work fine out of the box. Problems seem to be popping up for Lion upgraders when installing software (like MS OFFICE, Filemaker and even the new Final Cut Pro X). Most issues crop up during or after OS upgrades due to anomolies or unnoticeable issues already present in an old installation. They may not cause any noticeable problems on their own, but are exacerbated by the update or driver conflicts contained within the “upgrade”.

That is why I prefer a “clean” installation of the OS, so you know everything is working like it should,  then I use the “Migration Assistant” to move all of my third party applications and documents to the “new” system.  Hard drive units are so inexpensive these days, it makes no sense not to have a at least one backup drive, if not several.

The next issue is driver support from third party software and hardware peripherals. My ex-wife’s iMac worked fine in Leopard with her HP 1020 Laserjet, using the 1022 drivers. When I upgraded her to Snow Leopard, that work around ceased working.

I think Apple doesn’t give developers enough lead time with beta releases in order to update drivers. On the other hand companies selling hardware like HP create orphans of useful peripherals without driver support in order to drive sales.

Of course Apple uses the same strategy to get us to buy new hardware, now abandoning PowerPC, ROSETTA, Appletalk, Internal Dvd drives, ports, on and on. It’s called “PROGRESS”, folks.  I’m updating this article the day after the “new”  iPad (not named iPad 3, but technically is the third release version)

I haven’t didn’t upgrade to Lion yet as an early adopter, because I haven’t found didn’t  find a compelling argument to do so. Does it run significantly faster? Not from what I’ve read, in fact many “upgraders” say just the opposite. This could be due to carry over problems mentioned above.

New machines with Lion installed are complaining about the lack of ability to install common installations of Word, and Filemaker for instance, while upgraders claim already installed versions work fine.

So yes John I agree with you. I normally jump to get the latest upgrades, so I can be current, and suportive for clients. Since I don’t have that many anymore, I can’t afford the even the cheap upgrade, or the downtime chasing driver workarounds. I’ll wait for 10.7.2 or 3, when I hear the anomolies and driver conflicts catch up to the OS, AND OSX works out the new bugs it has introduced.

Avi Learner – # 317.938.9333