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6 Weeks With The Apple iPad

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Behold the iPad in All Its Glory.

Image via Wikipedia

2011-01-29

It has been approximately 6 weeks since I acquired my new Apple iPad. During this week I have developed a love-hate relationship with my new 16GB WiFi-only iPad. I love my iPad for its simplicity and easiness of use. I can access my emails, I can write emails from any of my 4 email accounts and am able to access the World Wide Web anywhere where I have WiFi access. I found a great free App that lets me track my hours and expenses easily while on the road or in the air visiting clients. It is easy to carry around and does not weigh much. The battery lasts forever (around 10 hours)

BUT and as you can see this is a BIG    B U T …

… it does not replace my PC laptop and probably will not in the near future.

When I purchased the iPad I was aware that it does not display any flash enabled websites or play any flash videos. I thought I could live with it, but I learned very soon that there are too many sites out there that are flash based. The Apple browser Safari has too many short comings and I eventually downloaded Skyfire, which by the way per claim of its website, can show/play flash sites by converting it to HTML5. Based on my experience that is flat out a lie.

Since I am using Social Media site like Twitter and Facebook a lot I decided to download respective apps in order not to have launching a browser and navigate to the site. Unfortunately did I learn very fast that these apps (of which some are native iPhone or iPod apps) have many short comings and only support a fraction of the features one may find on the respective web site. Some of these apps even have a tendency to crash frequently, especially when following a weblink within the app. TweetDeck (a Twitter app) is very notorious for this. Especially if the iPad has been in use for a while between reboots/resets. I also found out that some HTML5 called through a link in TweetDeck will never launch but crash TweetDeck.

Over the past 6 weeks I think I have been rebooting my iPad and/or restarting apps more than I have to do on my Dell Latitude D630 and D820.

Also the WiFi antenna within the iPad has a very poor performance. I ran a comparison between my laptop PCs and the iPad WiFi connectivity and I learned that the WiFi on my PC laptops is much better. Not only is my laptop able to find more WiFi connections, but it also maintains the connection a lot better than my iPad. It happens quite frequently that Safari or Skyfire pop up with the message that the Domain cannot be found while I am simultaneously accessing the same website/domain on my PC laptop. The weirdest or strangest of all is that while not being able to connect to a website/domain the WiFi signal indicator displays maximum signal strength while my laptops may display less signal strength but are still connected or able to browse a site.

Another issue I have is that I am not able to keep multiple Windows open at the same time but have to close one Window or App before opening another one. Not having a USB port or a camera does not help it either.

At the moment I am not sure what to do. Live with all the short comings, sell my iPad and switch to another tablet either Android or Blackberry based. Maybe I should even switch to a WINDOWS 7 based tablet, but then again why put all your eggs in one nest.

I think there have been more times I wanted to take the iPad and throw it out the Window than I ever had with anyWINDOWS based computer (not even back when Windows 95 or 98 was around).

One thing I can say: Spending almost $500 on this iPad was a waste of money!  … or ….  maybe it was not ?

As I said I love it and I hate it at the same time!

And before I forget it completely, the iPad has another very annoying problem. At times it becomes very sluggish. This can happen while within an App or while typing. At times I am already 3 or 4 words ahead before my screen catches up with what I am typing. Sometimes navigating within an App slows down to a standstill and there have been times I needed to restart the iPad because an App become unresponsive.

Please share your iPad experience with me in the comment section of this post. I’d love to learn what other people have to say about the iPad or there for any tablet device. No matter whether Apple, Android, RIM or WINDOWS based. Please let me know how you feel about it.


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My First Day With My New iPad

Behold the iPad in All Its Glory

Image via Wikipedia

For weeks now I have been playing with the thought of acquiring a tablet device. Comparing the Apple iPad with the new RIM Playbook and also the Samsung Galaxy. I could not find the RIM Playbook in any store and I am wondering whether it is already available or only soon to come. Last Saturday I went to the T-Mobile store near my house to look at the Samsung Galaxy and not only was I not too thrilled about the Galaxy itself, but also was I surprised about the lack of enthusiasm of the sales rep showing me the Galaxy.

After that I went to the Apple Store in the Manhattan Village Mall. The store was packed but in less than a minute I had Josh, a young sales rep on my side, explaining to me the different features of the iPad. I liked the way he went about it, by kind of interviewing me about what I’m planning to do with the iPad. I told him right away that I am only interested in the WiFi but not the 3G and it was never an issue or any trying to pressure me into buying the AT&T data service.

In less than 20 minutes I was the proud new owner of a new 16GB iPad with WiFi only. It was all so easy. Josh had me setup the iPad right there on the spot and gave me some basic instructions on how to setup email accounts and do some other basic settings. My next pleasant surprise came when it came to pay for my new toy. No cash register I had to go to and stand in line. No Josh, scanned my credit card right there on the spot using his iPhone and then sent the receipt via email to me.

I love it. It was such an easy buying experience.  I went home unpacked my brand new iPad and put it right away into its protective sleeve or cover, before I even turned it on. First task on hand was to setup 2 of my mail accounts. One on Yahoo and one on Google (GMail). I decided to wait with my GoDaddy business account, since I figured I had to do some special configuration.

Paranoid and security conscious as I am, I activated the password feature. This way nobody could access my precious iPad without knowing my password. A decision I eventually learned to regret, but more about this later.

I played a little more with the iPad and trying to get used to it by exploring the  few apps that are already installed on it.

Eventually I called it a day.

Next morning I decided to check out a few of th free iPad apps just to learn that I first had to setup an iTunes account. No problem. I did it and when finished it downloaded the latest version of iTunes onto the iPad. From that point everything went wrong. After, I assume, completion of the download and installation the iPad rebooted on its own, but eventually hung up while displaying a USB Cord and the iTunes symbol and would not do anything from there. I figured something got messed up and there must be a button or function to reset everything to the factory defaults.

I decided to first google the problem to see whether anybody else had that problem with their iPad. Unfortunately wasn’t I able to find anything to that regards as it relates to the iPad. I found lots of reference for the iPod having the same issue. I found a few traces through the iPod blogs what I could try. It is written that I need to download iTunes to my PC and then hookup my iPad to my PC to do a restore or repair the iTunes install on the iPad. After successfully downloading iTunes to my PC and installing it I hooked up my iPad to it.

After I could not find anything I called a friend who is a Apple guru. Maybe he would be able to help me, but unfortunately he couldn’t. He had never worked with iPads.

At that moment I contemplated bringing it back the store or calling tech support. Having dealt with various PC Tech Supports in the past I was expecting the worst in regards to wait times and skill set. So I did a Google search for Apple tech support and was referred to a site where I found a telephone number to call or … what a surprise … having a call scheduled for a later time … the surprises are getting bigger … have tech support calling me now. I had to read that twice. They would call me NOW?! I said to myself you got to check that out. So I selected “Call me Now”, entered my telephone number and not even 10 seconds later my phone rang and I was greeted by an automated IVR system. Great, I thought, they call me and now I have to wait for hours. I hadn’t even finished that thought when a live person came online. Greeting me by name and even new what device I had and what my problem was. True I entered all that before on their website, but very rarely do I see CIT and IVR system that work like they should. Usually I have to repeat everything at least 2 or 3 times on the phone. But not this time. The tech support rep tried to help me and had me trying different tings with the iPad for about 5 minutes but without any success. He put me on a brief hold to see what else he could do just to come back to tell me how baffled he was and he has never seen this issue with the iPad before. >> Leave it to me <<. He told me that he would pass me on to a second level tech support (he never called it second level, just another person). The lady that was trying to help me now, seemed to had to deal with this problem before. She new right away what was wrong. She told me that my iPad was in recovery mode and that the OS needed to be reinstalled. Unfortunately it was not that easy, since my iTunes account complaint about the password i had set on my iPad and asked me to logon to my iPad, which I was not able to since the iPad was in recovery mode. Eventually she helped me to get around this hurdle and the iPad downloaded and re-installed the OS via iTunes. The whole effort took over an hour and she stayed with me on the phone the entire time. She even called backed when my cell phone had dropped the call.

This is excellent customer service and many companies out there can learn a lot from Apple in this regard.


Social Networking Your Way to a New Job

UNTIL just a few years ago, looking for a job was a relatively straightforward process. Write a résumé. Scour job sites or the classifieds. Submit an application for listings that seem appropriate. Reach out to recruiters. Then, wait.

In 2008, Oliver Schmid, an I.T. consultant based in Los Angeles, lost his job with a German technology company. Jumping into the job market for the first time in 20 years, Mr. Schmid did what job seekers have always done ….

Read more about my experience and what I learned and have to say about it at the New York Times in “Social Networking Your Way to a New Job”

Virus Protection And Its Downfalls


Virus Protection And Its Downfalls

by Oliver Schmid 

Over the last few month I noticed that my laptop (Dell Latitude D820 with 1GB RAM running XP Professional SP3) was getting slower and slower.  I deleted old apps I did not need anymore, ran CCLeaner to get rid of leftovers and to clean up the registry. I performed Virus scans, which did not come up with anything, performed Malware and Spamware scans as well as a Root-Kit Scan. Malware and Spamware came up with a few tracking cookies that were not quiet kosher, which I subsequently deleted. Then I defragmented  my hard disk using a program called ‘Defraggler‘, even an analysis came back that no defragmentation was required.

All this did not help. My system still was slow like hell and even seem to hang for an extended period of time. I had been monitoring the running processes for a while to see what has been using up my resources like memory and CPU and I can say that 99% of the time it was a McAfee process.

Another thing I had observed was that my laptop was getting very hot underneath.  I had installed a program called “I8kfanGUI”, which allows to monitor CPU temperature and manually or semi-manually operate the internal fans to cool the CPU down more frequently. Before I installed this program I had CPU temps of 69° C and higher. With “I8kFanGUI” I was able to bring it down to around 60° C.

When I realized that McAfee was putting such a load on my system, I uninstalled it and guess what … my system was just flying. No performance problems AND !!!   …. no hot CPU anymore. My CPU temp was always around 50°C.

Since I had successfully identified McAfee as the culprit I decided to stay away from it,  especially since I was due for a renewal anyway and decided to go with AVG Internet Security. I downloaded the free 30 day trial to test it and what a surprise … I was having the same problems and symptoms I had with McAfee.  I played around with the settings enabled and disabled various features, but it made no difference.

I may try some other virus protection later, but I fear that it will lead to the same result.

I don’t want to be without any protection at all, especially since my Internet connection is a broadband-cable connection (Time Warner Cable) and a scan of my external IP address range revealed a whole bunch of other computers I am sharing the bandwidth and the backbone with. In a matter of fact I was able to connect successfully to an unprotected home networks printer. I have behind my cable modem a Linksys switch on which I have all available security and blocking features turned on and enabled but this will not prevent viruses and spam/malware from coming through.

I was thinking of installing a proxy server and have Virus and Spy/Malware protection running on here. I hope this will make a difference and take the load of my laptop, but then again what am I going to do when I take my laptop somewhere else. Guess I am screwed for now and live with a slow and hot system.

If anybody has any other ideas or suggestion I would appreciate it if they could leave a comment on it.

Oliver Schmid
Update 08. Sept. 2010
I uninstalled AVG since it was as bad if not even worse than McAfee. 
Now I have since about 1 week VIPRE running as Firewall, Spyware Protection and Email Scans and I have not seen any performance related issue

What Virus Protection do you use?

Animation: How Does Silicon Photonics Work?

Oliver Schmid

Great animation explaining the future of data transfer.

 

Intel‘s video talks about how this will reform data centers, doing away with cable spaghetti, and meaning that the networks will be able to handle vast tracts of data.

I can’t wait for this technology to become widely available. It will open up opportunities  many cannot even dream of at this point.

Intel’s Mario Paniccia talks Silicon Photonics

Network Resource Planning & SAP

What is network resource planning and what does it have to do with SAP?

Network resource planning (NRP) is done to ensure that a network infrastructure has the ability to support the deployment of a mission-critical ERP Solution. Network planners and network architects, not to be confused with an Enterprise Architect, which is something completely different, need to determin how the introduction of SAP, or there for any other complex ERP Solution, effects the existing network infrastructure and whether the infrastructure supports SAP.

A network manager needs to assess the capacity and performance of an existing network and determine what changes are required to increase capacity. Planning is a critical factor in today enterprise and becomes an essential. Demands for local and wide area networks are increasing continously and organizations need to anticipated and plan to have adequate capacity available. Enterprise Applications like SAP supports clients that access the centralized application database over a wide area network. In order to avoid user complaints and dissatisfaction  an organizations network infrastructure must adeqautely support the applications functionality.

In the earlier year business applications were hosted on mainframes that were accessed through so-called dumb terminals. These terminals had virtually no processing power and were only display terminals. All application processing was done centrally on the mainframe server. At this time all computing resources were easily to calculate and to control. Everything was handled through centralized control of the MIS Department (Management Information Systems). With the advent of PCs, Laptops and Servers and the shift of computing power to be distributed across the complete network infrastructure a new technology was born. The Client/Server environment, which shifted the processing power from a centralized server to a local workstation.


Benefits of local computing power versus mainframe computing were:

  • better response times through dedicated resources
  • local control of resources
  • providing individual users and departments with the flexibilty to chose or develop applications that best fit their specific needs.

These applications were usually specific to a user or department and were not available to the rest of the organization. This meant an application running at part of the organization did not have an affect to th rest of the organization, where by in  mainframe environment applications that utilized a large amount of processing power had an effect on every user.

The disadvantage was that these applications were not visible to other parts of the organization and there for many stand-alone solutions existed across the organization that did not communicate with each other. Different applications did exist in various parts of the organization doing the same thing but providing different results.

Complex ERP Solutions has changed all that.


Definition Of 99.999% Availability

Five-nines reliability and what it stands for.

Network infrastrutcure providers, Telephone companies and Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as network equipment providers claiming to offer 99.999% up-time or reliability. But how many people actually know what it means and that a 99.999% reliability comes at a premium price.

The five-nines reliability comes originally from the telecom industry.

In a matter of fact, what is claimed as reliability is actuality availability. It means how much of the time a network or a piece of equipment is available for you to use. Availability is measured in how often something breaks and how long it takes to become available again. A server, router or switch that crashes and is up again within a couple of minutes falls under the five-nines reliability.

Should the problem be bigger and the fix takes 15 or 20 minutes it wouldn’t fall under the 99.999% reliability anymore but under the 99.99%.

To give you an idea what the various measurements mean, following a few examples:

99.9999% (Six-Nines) availability does only allow for 32 seconds or less of downtime per year

99.999% (Five-Nines) availability allows for 5 minutes and 15 seconds or less of downtime per year

99.99% (Four-Nines) availability allows for 52 minutes, 36 seconds or less of downtime per year

99.9% (Three-Nines) availability allows for 8 hours, 46 minutes or less of downtime per year

99% (Two-nines) availability allows for 3 days 15 hours and 40 minutes per year

In order to get more availability more reliable and expensive equipment needs to be put in place. It means also, buying not only the best equipment but also the easiest to repair and building redundancy.

In addition make sure that all components have the same rating. How much does it help, if your core server hardware has a 99.999% reliability, but some of the components in the server, like network interface cards (NIC) have only a 99% reliability.

It is also important to ask how much reliability is needed, since higher reliability will come at a premium price/cost.

When offering service, evaluate whether your clients need 99.999% reliability or maybe they can live with a 99% reliability, since you then can chose when to take you network or service offline for maintenance, since that is also a part that needs to be considered in your availability calculation.