All Posts By

Jurie van Dyk

MacBook Air: The Future of Laptop Computing?

On October 20th Apple had their back to the MAC launch. The lineup included the launch of Lion (the updated OS), iLife, the new MacBook Air and much more. Lets talk a little about the new MacBook.

There has, once again, been a lot of Apple haters going after the new MacBook Air In the Media. “Anyone that pays $999 for a laptop with only 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processing and 64 gig hard drive space is an idiot.” “ It can only be the ‘Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field’ that would make anyone even think about buying such a low spec product.”

I’m afraid that those individuals just don’t get it. Each device is designed for a specific use, and no, the MacBook Air is not a workstation, it is a portable personal computer, and it is designed to perform that task WELL.

Here is my problem with laptops today. I have a web start-up that I need to demo to prospective clients during the day. There is nothing more unprofessional than having to ask your clients for a power outlet so you can power up your laptop an proceed with your 3pm presentation.

Even worse, then when you fire it up, it goes something like this:” zzttt -zzttt-zztt-(let tell you what hardware you have on your PC) zzzttt-zzzt-zzzttt (blank) zztt-zztttt-zzzzztt- Starting Windows – zztttt–zztt-ztttt-zzzzzttttt-now icons start appearing one by one. O’ we’re not there yet, now 20 questions will pop up, from virus protection to notification. You cant even click on your PowerPoint program yet, because thing are still loading in the background. Then when you do open PowerPoint, it feels that it should also be granted time to do its own stretching exercises. “ It sucks.” The only reason why we use it, is because it all there is.

Not anymore.

The new MacBook Air comes standard with 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor (you can upgrade if you like). Now Apple hatters will tell you that if you compare apples with apples (what they mean is Apples with Windows), you would be an idiot to spend that much for that kind of processing speed. The part that they are forgetting is:”It does not run Windows.” Mac OS does not need as much RAM or processing power as Windows does. “Only 64 GB hard drive!” Well it isn’t really a hard drive, it is Flash Storage, and should you need more, you can upgrade to 128GB. But you shouldn’t need more than that. Its a laptop, you don’t need to carry everything you own on you, what if you laptop get stolen? Plus, if you need to be able to access everything you have got in meetings, that is what the CLOUD is there for.

What makes the new MacBook Air great for people like me? Its thin, light, quiet and has got battery life of between 5-7 hours. Its got 30 days Standby time. Its got “Instant On” like a iPhone or iPad, no more booting up at meeting. The best of all , its very well priced at just $999.

I think Apple has done well, designing a laptop that actually gives it user what it needs. I cant wait to get mine.

Homemade Spacecraft takes first Iphone 4 Into Space

This is probably the coolest thing I have seen in a very long time. Cinematographer Luke Geissbuhler has just put in his bid for the Dad of the Year Award. Luke and his son embarked on a project to send a iPhone 4 and an HD video camera into space, attached to a weather balloon.

The project described by Luke himself: Brooklyn Space Program

In August 2010, we set out to send a camera to space. The mission was to attach a HD video camera to a weather balloon and send it up into the upper stratosphere to film the blackness beyond earth.

Eventually, the balloon will grow from lack of atmospheric pressure, burst and begin to fall. It would have to survive 100mph winds, temperatures of 60 degrees below zero, speeds of over a 150mph, and the high risk of a water landing.

To retrieve the craft, it would need to deploy a parachute, descend through the clouds and transmit a GPS coordinate to a cell phone tower. Then we have to find it.

Needless to say, there are a lot of variables to overcome.
After 8 months of research and testing, we checked the weather patterns, picked our day and drove to Newburgh, New York to Launch.

Imagine how many people told them that the project is impossible, that they will fail, waist there time and money, and look like idiots. “If it was that easy, someone would have done it by now.”

Well, a big RESPECT goes out to Luke Geissbuhler, we need more Dads like you.

Web App Design: From Static Sketch to Running Code

If your a designer and have read the book Reworked by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, you will love this video footage recorded at the The Future of Web Apps 2010 in London last week.

Ryan Singer gives a demonstration of 37 Signals design philosophy in action. Although this video is showing the process of web app designing from concept to running code, their method can be applied in any creative profession.

Designers love to over think the conceptual stage of a project, but the faster we can get our abstract conceptual thought into something tangible, the faster the magic can start. Struggling with designers block? Start building it, and you would be amazed how the creativity instinctively kicks in.

Microsoft Introduces the Windows Phone 7

Well, it seems like Windows mobile is back in the lime light again. Microsoft just launched their new mobile phone OS:” Windows Phone 7”, Monday the 11 October 2010. You can watch the launch online here Engadget.

So what is the verdict? Having been a windows mobile user in the past, I must say that I’m not their biggest fan. That said, I think they have really come up with something impressive and fresh this time around. I really respect the fact that they have gone outside the box, and didn’t base their design, “like most other smart phone software companies,” on the iPhones iOS design.

Personally I think it is great to have some new blood, in this ever growing market. Are they entering the competitive mobile scenes to late? Well, only time will tell.

I must be honest, I was exhausted after watching the presentation. It just felt like the OS can almost do too much. Joe Belfiore’s message felt like the exact opposite of what their add campaign “ in and out and back to life”, is based on. There are so many options when it comes to different ways that information is interlinked, that I think people will spend more time on their Windows Phone 7 device and less time “in life.”

It seems that there are now two different design philosophies at work when it comes to mobile OS designs.

  1. We give you a phone that does all the things you use all the time, extremely well and very simple. If you need anything more “there is an app for that” – copyright apple I understand.
  2. We will just give you a phone that can do everything you can imagine. Even if you will probably only use 10% of what it can do.

For me the Windows Phone 7 OS does not seem worlds apart from Microsoft’s general software development philosophy of adding everything and the kitchen sink. Lets hope the phone delivers on the 10% of things that a user will use often, then I think it will stand a good chance of gaining market share.

Regardless, thank you Microsoft for bringing something new and original to the smartphone OS arena.

The Genius Scan Iphone App: Scan Documents Easily

I would like to introduce you to an app that has really simplified my on-the go life. The applications name is Genius Scan and is available for free from the app store.

Genius Scan turns your iPhone into a mobile document scanner. I hate having to fill in a form, fire up the old PC, warm up the scanner, preview/scan/save as, and then attach to an email to get the document off. Well, no more of that. If you have a document that you want to scan, it does not matter where you are, pull out your iPhone (or iPod Touch 6th Gen) open the app, and snap-scan it with the phones built in camera. The quality of the scan depends on the quality off the camera, but I find that the 3Gs 3 mega-pixel cameras scan quality is more that good enough.

Genius Scan will then do a quality improvement process after which you can select the new document, and email as a PDF attachment. Really not much more to it.

This app is great for business men that quickly want to make a copy of a document at a meeting. A definite must download. Genius Scan is a free app, but having used it for more that 6 months, I’ll gladly pay for it as well.

Conclusion: If you are someone that keeps scanning and emailing documents, loves to have things done quick and easy then this is a must have application for you. You could get your hands on some Exchange 2010 hosting if you want to keep track of your emails and collaborate easily between your laptop and other computers too.

Are you Working Hard, or Doing Hard Work?

Successful people and unsuccessful people, rich people and poor people, they all have the same amount of hours in the day. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Steve Ballmer and Donald Trump have got no more time in their day to achieve success than you or I.

We have been taught that working hard brings success, but I have found this statement to be false. It’s not working hard, but doing hard work that makes you successful. We all instinctively know what we have to do to be successful. Want to loose weight? Eat less, exercise more. Want to be rich? Make more money, spend less. Want a better relationship with your children or wife? Be a better husband or father. Want a promotion at work? Add more value to the company. Knowing what to do is instinctive, but doing it, is hard.

So most people work hard, spending long hours doing unimportant things to have the excuse that they don’t have time to do the things that really matter.

To quote Gordon Ramsay” It’s no use spending all your time in the kitchen scrubbing pots, to avoid going out there and doing what is important.” “All you will end up with is clean pots.”

The Functionality of Reading Ebooks on Mobile Devices

Looking back at the old days where hard cover books swamped the house, leaving no space for movement. Books gathered dust as they were more of a pain to hold and read than ever before. That was until Ebooks launched, this simplified reading and life by a mile. Things got even better once a book store opened through Amazon and after the release of their Kindle platform. The great thing about kindle is that not only is it available as a platform to purchase, but as a application on the iPhone and Smartphones as well. This is how Ebooks simplified my life.

I downloaded the Kindle app to my iPhone and then decided to download a free sample (you get free samples of most books) to see if it is even possible to read a chapter on such a small device. I downloaded a sample of Dan Browns The lost symbol and proceeded to read the first chapter. It went much better than I expected and I downloaded the whole book, to see if it is possible to get through a book this size.

I was pretty amazed at the outcome. Not only did I end up reading the Ebook faster than I would a traditional book, I found it to be more comfortable to hold, softer on the eyes and the fact that the book was always with me, priceless.

To finish off this story, I was in a book store last week and I bought Gordon Ramsay’s Book Playing with Fire (don’t you judge me). Got home, and after reading one chapter, I gave the book to my wife, downloaded the Ebook from my Kindle app on my iPhone, and carried on reading.

Why Ebooks work for me:

1. Ease of book shopping

Imagine living in a place called Steynsburg, on a farm (the middle of nowhere). Let say one evening after watching a short documentary on Henry Ford, you decide that you would like to read his autobiography. A couple of years ago you would have written it down, gone into town the next day. Ordered the book from a shop that will then source it in from the nearest city with a decent bookstore (300 km away). If you are lucky, 2 weeks later you will receive your book. You would obviously have to drive in to town again to collect it.

I love the fact that I could be in bed at 11pm at night, feel like reading a new book, go onto the “Amazon, Kindle” bookshop, choose from thousands of books, and then download immediately. If someone mentioned Jim CollinsGood to Great” Best seller in a podcast that I was just listening to, I can literally start reading that book 1 minute later. Amazing.

2. Ease of using a Small Ebook device

I use my iPhone as my Ebook device. If you are using a Smartphone sized device, it is just so easy to hold. You only need one hand, you flick through pages with your thumb on the same hand, its just easy. The second point that makes my life better when it comes to reading on a small screen device is that I actually read faster than I would in a normal book. Reading is a series of jumping snapshots that are called “saccades,” when we read from left to right on a page, we take several snapshots, and then have to find our way to the row below. When you are reading lines with only 3-5 words in it, your snapshots start moving from top to bottom, and not left to right, which I find is a lot faster way of reading.

3. Always have readable light

iOS devices and Smartphones screens are back-lit. This alone is enough reason to move over to Ebooks. You don’t need a reading light. This is especially great when your spouse is already sleeping, and you want to finish your book. You can sit in the pitch black dark, and still read perfectly, actually the darker it gets, the better you see. The print is also always constant, and the screen is flat, unlike traditional books that are sometime awkward to hold when you are in the beginning or the end of the book.

4. Environmentally friendly

If you are a green supporter, you will love Ebooks because no trees had to die so you can read the book.

5. It is always with you

This is one of the biggest attractions. Big time travelers and serial vagabonders like Rolf Potts use the kindle mobile app to substitute books on their travels. It is always with you, so if you end up having to spend more time waiting at the bank or at the dentist then you anticipated, you can pull out your device and read a chapter or two.

Let’s Recap

In the same way that printed bound books replaced scrolls, it is my opinion that Ebooks will replace traditional books some time in the future. Ebooks on mobile devices does make life that one step better. Not only do you have the worlds largest electronic book store at your finger tips, you also carry all your books in your pocket the entire time. In the same way that the iPod Placed 10 000 songs in your pocket, Ebook apps allows you to carry a library with you.

Give the Kindle app a won’t be disappointed.