Another week has flown by at breakneck speed and this recap will be brief as most of it was spent with my nose to the grindstone. A 17-inch aluminum grindstone at that. This heavy work on the Mac made it very clear how irritating "casual Vista usage" always is. There were only a couple of new things crossing the Mobile Tech Manor threshold and I’ll share my thoughts about those. I am also reading a wonderful ebook on the iPhone and I can’t wait to tell you about that. There’s another hurricane heading our way as it’s turning into a very busy storm season on the Gulf Coast so far and I found a cool web site that makes tracking these storms on the iPhone very nice. Come on in and sit a spell and take a load off for a bit.
I have spent most of my writing time this week on the MacBook Pro simply because I was in the office almost all the time. I did take it with me a couple of times to work in coffee shops as it was easier to bring works in progress with me rather than get what I needed onto one of the more portable Windows boxes. That worked out well but it’s definitely more of a chore bringing the 6.5 lb. 17-inch MacBook Pro along. It sure is a lot easier to grab a 12 or 13-inch thin and light notebook when I want to go out.
Casual Vista usage bites
There was a good three day period when I didn’t even turn a Windows computer on as I was working on several substantial writing projects and as I said all of the work-in-progress was on the Mac. When I finally went onto the Windows Vista notebooks I was reminded about the phenomenon I call "casual Vista usage". My experience with Vista convinces me that the OS only runs at maximum productive levels if it is on the only computer you use. It seems clear to me that if you use your Vista computer all day every day it stays on top of the background housekeeping chores that it does all the time and the user experience is the best. I find this true even on mobile computers like notebooks, Tablet PCs or UMPCs.
The problem sets in when you have more than one computer and you don’t use one or more of them all of the time. That’s when Vista plays catch-up with these housekeeping chores when you fire a computer up for the first time in a few days which renders the user experience a bit frustrating at first. This occurs on mobile computers the most because this is the type of computer that has a tendency to sit for a while not being used. They are companion devices in this role and Vista seems to need some quiet time to get the house in order. Unfortunately this quiet time comes when you need to get things done right away. Mind you, I never shut down Vista computers completely, I always sleep them so when I say I start them up I mean I simply resume from sleep. That’s when all the housekeeping resumes and plays catch up when I’m trying to get some work done. That’s what I mean by casual Vista usage.
I know that I will hear from folks who tell me they don’t experience this and that I’m full of baloney but I see this consistently on multiple computers. I don’t do anything out of the ordinary to create this situation and I understand what Vista is doing but it gets in my way and it is totally frustrating to me. By the same token I can let the Mac sit for a few days and resume it in just a few seconds without OS X impacting my ability to get to work in any way. It shouldn’t be this way. I like using Vista when it behaves and find the interface to be nice and productive. What I don’t like is not knowing how it’s going to perform at a given moment which is frustrating as hell.
The folks at Kingston sent me an evaluation of their new 8 GB microSD card. I am using this in several different phones to test it out and it sure is great having that much storage capacity on a phone. The card ships with an SD adapter so the microSD card can be inserted in the adapter which can then be used in any computer with an SD slot. This is a simple way to copy media between phones and computers which is nice. I do remember Kevin having a similar SD adapter getting stuck in his Samsung Q1 UMPC and that scares me a bit.
I received the new BlueAnt V1 Bluetooth headset this week which is the first headset that has integrated voice recognition in the headset itself. This voice command system works independent of the phone and it’s pretty cool and a bit freaky to have the headset talking in my ear. For example on the iPhone, which has no voice capabilities of its own, when a call comes in the headset speaks the phone number that is calling. This is really handy while driving as I can tell who it is without doing anything. I can then speak "ignore" or "answer" without taking my hands off the wheel in the car. That is pretty handy. Since the iPhone has no voice dialing capability you can’t initiate calls by voice which is disappointing. This is a limitation of the iPhone and not the V1. You can voice dial on phones that have speed dialing capability and that is cool. The speech recognition technology that BlueAnt uses is by BlueGenie and it works really well. You can even say "tips and tricks" and the headset will start whispering sweet tips in your ear which is a nice way to learn the ropes with the headset.
Hurricane Gustav has entered the Gulf of Mexico so those of us in the way are religiously tracking his progress. I found a great web site that is optimized for storm tracking on the iPhone and it makes keeping up with Gustav a breeze. The site is the Weather Underground and it’s cool how it auto-scales the various maps when you rotate the iPhone screen so you always see the most detail possible. The site actually works in any browser so while it’s optimized for the iPhone it works well on just about anything.
Book of the week
This week I started an excellent novel about three families in a fictional town in China that spans four decades from the 40’s to the 80’s. The book is Ancient Ship by Zhang Wei and is translated from the original Chinese. Normally I have trouble with translations like this but it is very well done and is a fascinating look at life in China through many significant social changes in that country. It is highly acclaimed in China and I recommend it heartily. It is a long book and I am still reading it with relish.
That’s my week in a nutshell. I get a lot done with the right tools I have assembled and am constantly looking at ways I might do things better. So much of my work is centered on the web and I still find Firefox to be the right tool for maximum productivity. I am always trying new things and will continue to report on those I find that make a difference. Thanks for dropping by and I’ll see you next week.