The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4 Trumps the Microsoft Surface

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After sitting on the fence about purchasing a MacBook Air or an Ultrabook, I finally decided to pass on those items (no Retina display!) and equipped my current iPad 3 with a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Case. I had handed over my Macbook Air 2010 over to my son for school use (and Minecraft play), and was in need of some keyboarded mobile input device. This category used to be all about laptops and netbooks, but this past month Microsoft Surface was released and I did the due diligence of checking it out and rejecting it despite the fact I could have expensed it.

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Finding a Microsoft Surface to try out is a bit like trying to find authentic takeout Thai food or a Porsche dealership -it’s only available in a handful of places in the US. In the Cleveland area, it means going to the Microsoft kiosk at the Beechwood Mall next to the kiosks selling iPhone covers and fluffy slippers. I thought it was a bust because someone had messed up the Surfaces which were all rebooting. More recently, I got to try the Surface at the local Best Buy. Microsoft in their marketing wisdom decided to widen the release of the Surface in the few weeks before Christmas.

Despite the bad marketing, I was impressed by the beauty and speed of the Surface. The keyboard cover was nice and far more responsive than expected. Unfortunately, without the tactile feedback of keypresses it was only a little bit better than a virtual keyboard. I grew weary of it in the first few lines of typing.

It gets worse. The Metro interface seems like a tacked on after thought. Launching Office apps caused the screen to jump back into the old Windows desktop screen which doesn’t work all that well with touch, but it keeps lurking in the background waiting to show its big fat corporate OS face whenever it gets the chance. Instead of the Start menu, you jump back into Metro, but how or when you did so was mysterious. I am sure that with use, I would be able to figure out how to turn off the Metro or stay out of the classic Windows desktop. As a casual shopper seeing Windows 8 for the first time, there is mystery involved, and that is not good.

I get why Microsoft put out the Surface RT. What Microsoft is battling is the constraints imposed by the demands of the consumer and corporate markets. It has designed Surface RT to the perceived needs of the consumer market. It is making the bet that Office is 90% of what people want on their computers. This is true of laptops and desktops, but not so much for tablets and smartphones.

For 90 percent of my work, content creation means translating ideas into text. Who really needs Word to record text? For example, I’m wrote this piece over a week at various intervals on my iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and MacBook Pro using Ia Writer, a text processing app that stores the file in the cloud. I never have to press SAVE because there is no such button. When I am ready to make a formatted document, I can do so in any number of apps like Word, Pages, or Google Docs. The fact is, I am using Word less and less because it is unavailable on iOS devices and smartphones, and I think Microsoft is uncomfortable with this trend.

Surface is basically recapitulating the most useful configuration for a tablet that you can also do work on -something that the iPad has had since launch which is variations on the keyboard case. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover greatly enhances the iPad as a productivity tool. It latches on like the original magnetic cover and when in laptop mode will prop the tablet with magnets in landscape orientation. The keyboard works perfectly and has many enhancements for iOS oriented shortcuts.

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When closed, it looks like a MacBook Air, being clad in aluminum all around, but of course it is thicker. It does offer laptop functionality with a 10 inch Retina display. The keyboard charges via a mini-USB port, and claims a 6 month battery life with two hours of use. It has been seamless and tenacious in gaining and holding a bluetooth link, something that is not always possible with other keyboards. I have been typing on it, and I like it. I can type at full speed. My only gripe is the half height number row which also has a truncated delete key. I still rip off the cover to use it as a tablet and find that the keyboard is on and prevents me from using the virtual keyboard -just remember to turn off the keyboard when not in use.

The Surface is a beautiful product but is an evolutionary dead end because its OS, Windows RT, has no past and an arguably a shaky future. Despite creating a product that integrates Office, and makes it basically the only compelling reason to buy a Surface, it does so by making you work in Office in a way that is no different from the 10 pound laptop that IT will give you for business trips. The moment Microsoft releases rumored Office for iOS with full implementation of touch interface, it will have killed any argument for Windows RT. We will see Office for iOS in the App Store one day, but we will have to see Surface die the same way as RIM’s Playbook -in about 8 months before we get to buy it for $129 for the Student and Home Edition.

Mourn

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Why invoke God in the senseless mass murder in Connecticut? Why invoke the Creator in past wars, genocides, and future massacres. According to some commentators, after all, He was making a cosmic point about prayer in school with syncopated head taps, kind of like a pathologically vindictive mall cop who decides not to intervene in a crime in the parking lot  because he was just fired from his job.

An anthropomorphic deity had no role in Newtown. A human did this. It is our nature, as much as a birds fly and fish swim. Humans kill other humans like tigers have spots. I think it is because of our higher faculties that we do this. It is well known that certain groups of chimpanzee engage in territorial winner take all warfare where the losers are driven away or eaten, but not all groups behave this way. This seems to be a learned behavior, passed on through the generations. Rather than instinct, we have culture, and this is our programming. And the solution is clear -unless we choose to reprogram ourselves, to enlighten ourselves, we are trapped in a cycle of wanting, dominating, taking, killing, and revenge. 

That is what I pray for. 

RIP RIM

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The day has arrived when I get to swap out my Blackberry 9930 for an iPhone 5. I had given up using the Blackberry as anything but a text/phone device because getting on the Internet was tricky at best. The 9930 is a device conceived by a committee of people who don’t understand how people use technology. I used my iPod Touch as a daily communicator and Internet surfer over the BB 9930. Fact is I had high hopes over its beautiful screen and okay keyboard but these could not overwhelm sheer misery in the browser, email (yes email) and paucity of apps to get things done. Goodbye.

Bow Ties

  • No longer just for overweight, angry men. 
  • Should be hand tied
  • Should be worn without irony.
  • Should be worn from the get-go, meaning from the time you start wearing ties. A late start brings on questions about mid-life crises, neo-retro hip-to-be-squareness, and excessive fanciness.
  • No longer just for skinny, old, popcorn selling men. 
  • More hygienic than neckties, especially when inspecting gangrenous feet. 
  • There can only be one. Too many bow tie wearers in a group makes people uneasy. 
  • Avoid wearing with floppy hat, green wax cotton coats, and wellies because then you look like Paddington bear. 
  • Worn properly, you’ll get taken very, very seriously. Very few people can pull it off properly.

Milestones and Millstones

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The top ten list from iTunes shows Taylor, Kanye, and Bieber just who’s boss.

When I was a kid in the 70′s, mentioning that you were Korean-American got at best a shrug, maybe a laughing reference to the backdrop people on MASH, or a punch in the face. This began to change in the 80′s as more stuff started coming from Korea -people forget that for a time, Korea was to cheap stuff what China is now, but the first real milestone was the arrival of Hyundai automobiles in the mid eighties. No question, the car they sent over was a cheap POS, but it was a sign that we were arriving. The Olympics in ’88 in Seoul further confirmed this, and capped off a run that while sputtering in the late ’90s with a debt crisis, was balanced by real democratic transfers of power between competing parties, and the rise of Korean popular culture in the 00′s. K-POP, a genre that mixes commercialism (think Monkees perpetrated by a Zenith/IBM/NBC conglomerate if it had existed in the late 60′s) with world youth culture, has exploded first in Asia, then Europe, now the rest of the world. PSY’s viral Youtube video (http://youtu.be/9bZkp7q19f0) is just establishing a beachhead for the rest of KPOP which is already here in the US among pockets of youth who like to be different.

If you check out other KPOP groups like 2NE1 or BigBang, you’ll see that it’s only a matter of time -a few months I bet, before their supermegahits from Asia/Europe/Latin America will hit the US with English lyrics which these groups sing without an accent. The difference between now and the 1970′s when Pink Lady showed up on US airwaves with a variety show (with Jeff!) is the weight of social media which clearly outweighs the effect of traditional media which would never have seen/featured/mentioned/played PSY.

What does it mean to have PSY dancing with Al Roker on the Today Show at 30 Rock? What does it mean to have a Korean-American Jersey Shore-type reality show (Ktown - http://youtu.be/2rhDjxDLyjk)? What does it mean to have K-Drama and K-Movies on Hulu and Netflix? Not a clue, but the sudden urge to get my weight down to 150lbs, bleach my hair platinum blond, and go and wear Prada has hit me because I want some of that Gangnam style, and that is the real deal -getting into my head and programming me is something The Killers, Jay-Z, Eminem, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, and Nicky Minaj haven’t been able to do as well as PSY has with the opening scene of his music video (is that a short person or a really talented toddler?).

Now, I must go and dance.

The Millstone:

Installing Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) to Virtual Box

I have a great love of Virtual Box, the free virtualization software that allows you to run other operating systems on top of a host operating system -in my case OS X Mountain Lion on a souped up Mac Mini from 2010 -RAM has been maxed to 8GB and the hard drive replaced from a pokey 160GB spinning at 5000 rpm to 750GB spinning at 7200 rpm. The only problem is since Snow Leopard was phased out to Lion, Rosetta -a feature of Snow Leopard, was dropped.

Rosetta was a critical piece of Apple’s migration from PowerPC chips to Intel chips, allowing for PowerPC programs to run on Intel based Macs. When Lion was introduced, Rosetta was killed off, and my favorite game from 1994, Spaceward Ho, was killed off with it. Spaceward Ho has been laying dormant awaiting a iOS upgrade but for some reason, Joe at Delta Tao has been sitting on it.

After putting it off for a while, I decided to give running Snow Leopard 10.6.0 out of the box without updates (to prevent killing Rosetta) a try. Here is a snapshot of it loading successfully -it required a little bit of tweaking and appears to be loading well!