update: iPad’s cost/benefit bar set high by Hackintosh netbooks

Addendum: 3/30/2011 -as I await the arrival of my iPad 2, I can now look back at this post and chuckle. In the year since this post, netbooks have tanked as over 15million iPads were sold. While hackintoshing is fun for a while, the stress of upgrading the OS is not, and I sold the netbook, sans OSX. The Macbook Air covers the gaps left by iPad, and in fact, it is fairly rare for me to need a laptop when I have internet access via my iPhone or iPad. The iPad2 will be the 3G version on AT&T -I chose it because I want the flexibility of buying a local provider’s SIM card when I’m abroad. The thing is this -I don’t think that Apple will want to launch iPhone 5 this year, even though most contracts for iPhone cycle around the summer. It’s like giving gifts to a girlfriend -the timing has to be right and given too frequently, you beg for contempt.

If you want to know what the iPhone5 will look like, I think you can see it in both the iPad2 and more importantly the iPod Touch 4G. iPhone5 will be similar to both with metal back and thinner. It will also feature a 4 to 4.5 inch screen. If it is to keep it’s battery life while getting skinny, it will have to get wider and taller. iPhone4 won’t be phased out but will become the cheap phone.


The iPad launch yesterday was not up to the hype -you needed the device to have time travel capabilities for people to be satisfied. That said, the question for this first adopter among first adopters is, “Where does this fit in my man purse?”

I need portable internet access for many reasons -I write a lot and am working on several research projects as well as need to keep in touch with a vascular team -the iPhone (now disconnected from AT&T) still serves as my primary email device because the HTC TouchPro2 that I have from Verizon has a maddeningly inconsistent email app that jumps between HTC’s beautiful interface and the horrible, ugly Windows Mobile 6.5 bones underneath. Despite this, the TP2 has earned a semi-permanent place because of the $30 app called WalkingHotSpot which will turn the TP2 into a Wifi hotspot.

I have a maxed out dataplan and tethering plan through Verizon, so I am just using the data that I have already purchased, just not for a Windows laptop but also for my iPhone which I can now use again for my golf GPS apps.

The middle spot between a big laptop (my 15inch Macbook Pro) and the iphone is the need to have a bigger screen than my iphone especially for iTunes movies and content, but at the same time having a keyboard, with at least 5 hrs of battery life. The netbooks do fill this niche in terms of hardware very nicely, but the software just isn’t there. I have become very used to iLife and iWork -thinks look prettier and works nicer through these than anything in the Windows or Linux environment.

The solution came in the form of Hackintosh. The Dell Mini 10v is a netbook which seems to have been designed solely for Hackintoshing. Hackintosh is a non-Apple computer made to run Mac OS X. This technically is a breach of the software license, but I own the computer and I own the shrink wrapped software license for this Hackintosh.

With this, I have a portable internet solution that goes 5hrs on battery, and more with the additional battery, all for a total of $400 bucks for the hardware. If you choose to go this route, you should buy the OS license.

The instructions are here: link.

This works nicely for now, because Apple didn’t have something that effectively served my needs in this space. Now they have iPad. We won’t be able to get our hands on one for 59 days, 89 if you want the 3G/Wifi version. Maybe my netbook days are numbered.

I’ll tell you why. The trackpad, designed by Dell, is one of the worst pieces of industrial design ever created by humans. Dell, after I ordered the netbook, took my money but didn’t acknowledge I even ordered the netbook until I spent two hours on tech support. It was only through the graces of a very nice lady in India, that I eventually got a netbook 10 days later than promised. The next OS upgrade to 10.6.3 may break the netbook again, requiring another round of hacking, which I used to enjoy, but not so much anymore. The 10inch screen is adequate, but I know, compared to the OLED screen on iPad, it will be like night and day. I see that a lot of people are giving up their netbooks on eBay, and this is most likely because the hardware being, well, not Apple.

So I wait, with my proverbial tent pitched outside our local Apple store.

I F$#@ing Hate the Social Network, That’s Why You Have to Watch It

I fucking hate The Social Network. Not because it’s a bad movie -it’s very good and you should see it. The reason I hate it is it’s too good. During the entire first half hour, I felt like I was in one of my recurring stress dreams where I’m back at Harvard. In this dream, I am walking into Memorial Hall and sitting down with a stack of empty blue books, and I have three hours to answer questions that I know nothing about in a language that I cannot understand. < shudder >

Most of the first act was shot at Harvard, and the House dorms looked about the same as they did over twenty years ago.  What was more ingenious was the portrayal of undergraduate life there which was spot on. With those pictures rushed back the anxiety over social status, ethnicity, money, and the general envy and dismay towards all the Winklevosses who were there and above all of us. Hooray for Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. They have changed the world.

Everyone who agrees, just poke me.

Golfshot- Golf GPS and Golfplan -a belated review


Wakonda #2 from the tee


The distance from the tee to mid green with about 20 feet of elevation -an 8 iron

Several years ago, after I got my first iPhone, among the first and most useful programs was View Ti Golf, which I reviewed a while back. It was after several overly confusing updates and broken functionality, that I stopped using View Ti, and moved to Golfshot GPS.

While I had meant to review Golfshot GPS, I was too busy actually using it to put a good review together -I did comment on it a couple of years ago, but it is the addition of analytics and instruction from Paul Azinger via Golfplan that make this sing.



What they achieved is they’ve simplified the geekiest part of tracking statistics. The simplest method has always been keeping track of Fairways, GIR, Strokes from 150 yards, and Putts on a score card. Golfshot has made it even simpler by making the input of strokes, fairways, and putts, along with sand and penalty strokes mere flips of menu dials.


You can use the program solely for getting distances on all the golf courses in the US (and supposedly the planet). This will cost you 29.99. There is a lite version for free which offers scoring and the analytics. To tell you the truth, the GPS is nice, but I try to set up my shots with sight and local knowledge -its the statistics which make it worth using this program.

All the data is stored in the cloud and so you can use this app on multiple devices even on a GPS-less ipod touch or Wifi-iPad. The program works very well on Android as well (though readers of this blog know my feelings about Android).

The scorecard shows the parts of the game that I have to concentrate on -GIR -meaning my mid irons to pitching wedge, and sand -avoiding them and getting out of them.

The complementary half of this is Golfplan which is currently at a promotional price of 0.99. Mr. Azinger is a great communicator and passes along in 1 to 2 minute videos perfectly executable knowledge to the average golfer. I think the best results can be had for the advanced beginner to 10 handicapper and this appears to be the target audience.

The stats are analyzed and a customized lesson plan is created for drills and instructions. Given the cost of private golf lessons, this is beyond cheap at just under a buck.
The problem with golf instruction is that most golfers take a band aid approach to lessons -thinking one or two lessons to straighten out the ball is enough.


That’s like going to the doctor once to start treatment for a serious condition and then treating it yourself. Finding a good professional isn’t hard -every golf course has a PGA professional dedicated to improving play. It’s committing to a series of lessons over years that is tough -in terms of time and cash.
Gofshot GPS and Golfplan both get 4.5 stars on the App store which is basically a perfect score. I agree and outside of signing on with a golf instructor for a year’s worth of weekly lessons, this is the best thing since sliced cheese. I will update everyone on my progress.

Sent from my iPad

Olympus XZ-1 Personal Review

One of my growing hobbies has been photography. In particular, I love taking landscape shots of golf courses and at work, I need tight macro shots of operations. While one of my good friends swears by his Canon Mark 5D, I can’t see myself carrying a second man purse of camera and lenses like he does to capture shots around New York City. That said, even the micro 4/3rd cameras despite their size, demands cases because their lenses protrude.

The primary appeal of interchangeable lens cameras is versatility and quality with regard to image sensor, control, and lenses. Most compact cameras -even high end prosumer compacts, make compromises for broad appeal. In particular, lens speed -the ability to open the aperture wide to let in the most amount of light, is in inverse proportion to zoom which has broader appeal. The beauty of high quality portraits and cinema is that the lens focuses on a narrow plane leaving foreground and background slightly blurred. The ability to do this indoors is limited by lens speed -and flash ruins pictures.

The most popular configuration of micro 4/3rds cameras is buying the body and a 20mm Panasonic “pancake” lens which is rated at F1.8 which is a very fast lens speed. By using old fashioned zoom (by stepping forward and backward), this lens allows for excellent low light photography while also allowing for beautiful landscape shooting. It’s also relatively pricey, as I would be paying extra for an option (the ability to change lenses) that I would not use.

The Canon S-95 has been edging towards these specs, but having the older generation G9, I have come to think that Canon really dumbs down their consumer level products as much as their professional products are excellent. My iPhone camera (which took the above picture) takes as good a picture.

The XZ-1 which just shipped from Amazon (which strangely got it a month later than other retailers) fits my needs. It has a very fast lens with the same F1.8 lens speeds as the popular Panasonic pancake 20mm lens. The offered presets work very well, but the manual settings and the physical ergonomics of the camera and the bright OLED screen make the camera sing.

This snapshot shows the camera’s abilities in the hands of a novice. The worst kind of shots for consumer cameras are indoor shots facing a strong source of light. The camera adjusted and produced this image to the right.

The screen is OLED and very bright. That said, I am considering getting the Olympus viewfinder which gets very high reviews (not like the Panasonic viewfinder which gets middling reviews). The viewfinder would fit in the flashes hotshoe.

I have not taken any flash shots and have found that by increasing the ASA, keeping the f stop to 1.8, and holding the camera still, all indoor shots that are visible to the human eye can be taken with good quality with this camera.

The autofocus is very fast, but also touchy, particularly when something is moving and out of the foreground. I haven’t read the manual (I never do) but the camera does allow you to select the region of focus, or to manually focus the lens.

I did purchase a 16GB SDHC card for it -this allows ample space to park the HD video that the camera shoots. Compared to prior video I’ve shot, I feel like I am carrying movie camera. The subject focuses nicely with the background blurring dramatically -this is the benefit of the high quality lens. I don’t see the point of purchasing dedicated movie cameras for most people except for serious videographers.

The battery life is excellent -it shows full bars despite taking about 100 shots and several video clips. I purchased an extra battery for it but expect that it won’t be needed much unless I’m going for long adventures away from a power source.

My comment earlier about the unnecessary flash touches on something I’ve wanted for years in a digital camera. The instant gratification of digital trumped many of the features of film except for the quality of the pictures which could not match those taken years ago with a manual SLR and a fast lens. While it was obvious that you could get this with DSLR’s, the bulk and hassle of carrying camera gear negates any of the fun for me. This almost fits in my pants pocket, definitely in a jacket pocket, and gives you images that match the most important camera -your eye. It is the camera that you have that is the best camera, and this camera is one that I can always have on me (aside from my iPhone).

Update 4-12-2011
The camera absolutely needs a sleeve for the laptop bag as the lens cap comes off too easily. Video is poor -don’t get this camera for the video. Its primary problem is there is an unstable time delay between focus detection and focus motors which for stills is very fast but for video, it can get caught in a spastic focus loop focusing on some foreground object then to the back and vice versa. I hope they fix this with a firmware upgrade. I really should read the manual. The stills, particularly the landscapes and the portraits are superb. Battery life is incredible.

Update 7-26-2011

Got the viewfinder -incredible quality images through it. Will update this review.

Sunrise, Sunset

The one thing I want to know during golf season is the hours of sunlight that I have available for play. The Chronometer app available on the iTunes App Store fills this need well. The application offers a variety of virtual watches with a wonderment of complications that at first seem toylike but are really useful. The Haleakala watch gives you the sunrise and sunset times of your location along with the sun and moon azimuths which are useful for navigating the Santa Maria to Cathay. For the avid golfer, twilight on both ends of the day is enough light to play.

apple wants to be your middle man

From Evernote:

apple wants to be your middle man

Apple want to be your Middle Man

Recently, before the iPad 2 announcement, Apple announced that it was going to take a cut of items, typically subscriptions to media, purchased within an app on iOS devices which include iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and little mentioned but on the horizon Apple TV. This cut was announced as a 30 percent cut, and Apple made this point by cutting Sony’s Reader application which offered in-app purchases of books. The news of Apple kicking the dog that Sony has become was soon overshadowed by people alarmed at the audacity of the 30% cut demanded by Apple. This put the kibosh on Amazon’s plan to put in-app purchases of books on its upcoming update of its Kindle app. The workaround which is what is already in place is to keep all purchases through a separate web site rather than through the app and iTunes. This is the model already in place for Kindle because you get directed to the web site for purchases but it’s going to make it difficult for the Amazon app or for the magazine apps like Zinio and The New Yorker.

Is it fair? It’s the fairness of capitalism and middle men. When a magazine ends upon on the rack of your local news stand, someone is making the margin between the list price and the wholesale price. Apple wants to make money off of its news stand. When publishers analyze the distribution costs, it probably isn’t too bad -the 30% to Apple is probably less than whatever is lost to the middlemen.

It sucks for the middlemen.

Swing 2011 v1.0

The winter is ebbing and spring’s arrival is a bird’s song chirping behind the grey fences of March. This is when my golf ambitions begin to rise, and I’m back in the golf hut for a another season’s preparation. My swing is much better than it was several years ago when I began this blog, but the real barrier to lowering my handicap was never ball striking, but rather the short grass and the grey matter. I’ve studied books on mind-spirit-action-golf, taken lessons from great masters of the game, and have electronically tracked and analyzed every aspect of my game. This year, I’m just going to go at it with just me, the sticks, and the tiny white ball. What’s promising about this approach -dumping several 15 footers for par over a weekend in a warmer part of our country a while back and managing my game for 2-3 strokes onto the green with twenty year old clubs that weren’t my own -my first round since last fall with no warmup or practice from the tips on an unfamiliar and challenging course I shot a 96 with three triple bogies. Just swing.