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Current Technology Woes

Boy am I struggling over here in Dubai with the technology that I brought with me. Now I can tell you in advance that a lot of this post is simply driven by the fact that the Mac Book isn’t up to the job in hand, but the other driver behind the post is just how poor the iPhone is turning out to be, but just how good it could be!!!

First up the MacBook. I do love it a lot, but for what I need to do it really isn’t up to the task. That is not the fault of the MacBook of course but as I really need:

– 2 or 3 browsers open at a time
– Excel spreadsheets that are like 5,000+ rows long (think 4 or 5 spreadsheets open at a time)
– Email, MSN, iChat (typicaly 4 -6 conversation windows open at a time)

then it just isn’t up to the job. The real killer is the small screen though – I just have to be able to have open multiple windows.

I have found that Spaces helps to some extent. At least it got me using them, but so far I find it only really helps keep the desktop clearer rather than produce any productivity gain. I need to see multiple windows at the same time to be productive with what I do.

The MacBook is great for short trips home for Sands (or myself if I ever made them) as a good all round, light, small device, and it is fine for the occassional meeting that either of us have in the Marina but for me to work on and grind away on day in and day out it has not been up to the job.

Not really a problem as there is a easy enough solution – Sands can have the MacBook and I will get a MacBook Pro if I continue to make work trips abroad, which does look very possible.

The iPhone on the other hand is not so easy to figure. When I am in Dubai in particularl it is so nearly great, but the things that let it down have rendered it almost useless.

The lack of 3G is a killer without doubt. I would say that 75% of the times I want to use it on line I am away from a WiFi spot so GPRS just kills you.

Then there is the lack of a decent IM client as I tend to have multiple chats on multiple clients on the go pretty much all the time. We tend to communicate via IM more than email as it is all about instant results in this business.

Although I use a Dubai SIM card here the lack of VoIP again really lets the iPhone down as a really useful device.

I use Notes on the iPhone a lot, so the lack of an option to sync with Mail is a real problem, ditto To Do. Being able to do this would be far more useful than being able to find out how to get somewhere (that is what Taxi’s are for) or buy a album direct off iTunes!!

It is hard to figure out what to do. I love the form factor overall, and the iPod, Movies, Videos and Photos are a great source of ‘fun’ when away from home, but as a business tool it is proving next to useless. I am reluctant to give up on it but I don’t want to carry two devices around with me on trips.

In Spain it is OK. I am not away from my desk enough for any of the above issues to really be a problem.

I guess I need to figure a way to upgrade my ‘hacked’ 1.02 to a hacked 1.1.3. I could give this iPhone to Sands as it would be better than her Nokia/Palm combination in Spain and the UK, and I could get a new iPhone and hack that and see what the SDK brings.

Alternatively I could dump the iPhone and go with a HTC type device that although Windows based is 3G, but also wouldn’t meet my To Do and Notes requrement.

This is driving me nuts as all I want is a stable technology platform that I don’t have to bother about that fulfills my needs!!!

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36 Comments

  1. Sorry you’re having so much trouble!

    Sounds like you’re trying to grow the business with the technology you have instead of growing your business using technology. Wait, does that make sense? Well, you know what I mean! πŸ™‚

  2. Sort of.

    The MacBook is just underpowered. Not its fault and not an issue as if I come back to do the same stuff I will bring a MBP and a connector for a second screen.

    At home the MP is more than powerful enough πŸ™‚

    The iPhone is a case of trying to use the technology because it is cool rather than it does the job in hand to be honest. Goes back to what I said on Day 1 – it is a cool fun gadget, but seriously lacking as a heavy weight business device.

  3. Hmmm. “Extended desktop and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 1920 by 1200 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colours.” Doesn’t sound too limited, though I appreciate that we are talking about a secondary display.

    How much RAM is in your MacBook? I wonder if some of your woes aren’t coming from the performance hit you might be taking with constantly swapping apps causing memory paging to and from the HD…

  4. @ Mac – you used it ok?

    @ Dany – now why would I want to do that!!!

    @ Gary – just 1GB. I know the MB is too low a spec. I only bought it to have a notebook or some sort as at the time I din’t have any plans to work like this and travel. Am waiting for a price on a MBP from my contact here in Spain πŸ™‚

  5. Actually no I haven’t tried the Missing Sync for iphone. I do most of my stuff on the blackberry, so I have that. One nice thing that I noticed with Missing Sync lately is that they now support syncing notes to Yojimbo. Which makes it really handy for organizing them. I would imagine that the iphone version would have the same thing.

  6. Just got our state taxes back! Kristine says that she wants a new computer, so I’m currently in the market. Luckily, she has one provided for her work so this one is just for personal stuff. SoÒ€¦how mad are you about your MacBook? πŸ˜‰

  7. @Wayne – if you do order a new MacBook, upgrade the RAM. It has two slots and ships with 2x512MB.
    http://www.apple.com/macbook/specs.html

    You want to upgrade (or plan to upgrade) it to either 2GB or 4GB. If you don’t, you’ll find it sluggish – like our friend in Dubai.

    No, wait a minute!! I’m not suggesting that Chris is sluggish! Och – you know what I mean! πŸ™‚

  8. @Gary – So should I plan to upgrade through Apple, or is it cheaper to DIY. At least it’s for the wife, so as long as it surfes the Internet and is able to play movies and DVD’s well, I think we’ll be set. Does the memory have to be in pairs? I’m planning on taking one of my 1G DIMMs out of my iMac to put in a 2G here shortly.

  9. Said friend is back from Dubai and feeling very sluggish indeed!!!

    Am currently transferring all our movies over to the two new 750GB drives that I have hooked up to the Mac mon, re doing the whole of my iTunes Library and re syncing to the AppleTV.

    What joy not to be working – although I did just get a small job come through that I should do later tonight.

  10. @Wayne – Here in the UK, Apple have (typically) always been more expensive for RAM upgrades than doing your own. I suspect that may be true in the US too. Of course, you have to be comfortable performing the upgrade before considering something like that, so it’s simply not an option for some people.

    I compared prices when I bought my new iMac recently. I was going to upgrade the standard 1GB to 4GB. I don’t remember the exact figures, but I saved something like £200 (including the UK sales tax, aka VAT, at 17.5%) by buying the RAM from Crucial and performing the upgrade myself. That’s about £170 ex tax, or about $340 before tax at current exchange rates.

    I’d check out the price from Apple via the online store to see what the extra charge would be from them. Then check a few different dealers to see how much they’d charge for the RAM alone. If you don’t already have one or two favourite companies, see if you can get any recommendations from friends.

    The Crucial site is quite good for finding out what the requirements are for your particular model of Mac, whether you end up buying from them or not. (I have bought from them on a handful of occasions, but I have used their site as a reference on probably hundreds of occasions!) Use the “Crucial Memory AdvisorΓ’β€žΒ’ tool” from their home page. It will tell you the number of slots, whether you need to upgrade DIMMs in pairs or not, component speeds, etc.

  11. Would always advise people to buy their RAM off anyone other than Apple πŸ™‚
    18004memory are pretty good as I recall.

    But shop around, prices change all the time πŸ™‚

  12. @Chris – while all that synching is going on, do think there’s any chance you could catch up on the posting front? I reckon that, with your time off in Dubai, you’re behind by at least half a dozen posts or so. That will probably need to be at least one in three as regular posts with the remainder as Quick Bits. There are standards to be maintained here you know! You don’t want to have anybody asking questions when your blogging licence comes up for renewal, do you??? πŸ™‚

    Seriously, glad to hear you made it back safe.

  13. Cheers!!!

    Will be ‘back in the saddle’ over the weekend. For now though I am going to head down to the marina to meet some mates and drink a few (ha ha) beers!!!!

  14. I wasn’t expecting it to. When I bought it I had no real need for a Notebook, but felt naked without one as I have always had one.

    I was merely pointing out that with the increased workload I was struggling with it, not that I was blaming it πŸ™‚

    Where you get your RAM from?

  15. I bought the base model MB (x3100) strictly for a one-off project – I’m not really a notebook person too many compromises… Unfortunately the project is dragging on and I found the 1Gb RAM really limiting with Leopard, so at Xmas I bought 2x2Gb Kingston modules from Play.com which worked out at less than £50 all in. Check Crucial I think their prices have fallen to similar levels.

    The MB seems to run really smoothly though I’m yet to give it something meaty like an iDVD render or similar. I use dual monitors (iMac and external Viewsonic) and Spaces is an OK alternative but I prefer the desktop iMac with the freeware app Desktop Manager so potentially 18x desktops always available and usually 5 in use.

    I’ve had a burning desire to buy the new 20″ iMac but the quality issues with the screen have put me off and like most other Mac users I’d love a headless iMac (+2x 22″ screens), the MacPro is overkill for my needs … and pocket!

  16. @Max – twenty-shmenty. Do what I did and just go straight for the 24″ iMac! πŸ™‚

    I’ve got my old 15″ CRT hanging off the secondary port though, to be honest, I’ve barely used it in my current day to day work flow yet. Probably, when I get back into using Photoshop more, I’ll sling all the palettes onto it – but until then, 1 x 24″ is pretty good.

  17. @ Gary

    No thanks. I happen to think the new iMac isn’t a particularly good confection. Individually the elements are fine, nice anodised aluminium finish and bright screen (you get used to it on the MacBook so I’d get used to it on an iMac) contrast enhanced by the black border. But the black/aluminium looks awful. Then add in the the huge “chin” on a 24″ and I think its all rather unattractive. We all love ACDs because they have such a slim border.

    When I bought a white intel iMac I didn’t like the idea of the white casing but it tends to disappear compared to the screen contents. With the new iMac the black mask is simply ugly but understandably necessary to enhance contrast.

    If I had the 24″ I wouldn’t have room for a second monitor – and yes I do need one for those occasions when a little person wants to watch some Disney etc (and not on the TV!) and I want to use the iMac for something else… aside from when I have lots of apps open and docked in different virtual desktops. Just IMO of course. Cheers πŸ™‚

  18. Me, I LOVE my 24″ white iMac. Especially with it’s 24″ Dell secondary display. πŸ™‚ Could use another gig of ram, though.

    Have ordered the MacBook for the wife. Says it should be here by Tuesday! At least now I can lock the Airport down with WPA instead of WEP for the older iBook.

    Blog seems really slow lately. Getting hit by the cable cuts, or is it just me?

  19. @Max Fair enough (especially the Disney rationale), though I suspect that you’d get used to the new style, just like you got used to the “plain” white casing…

    @Wayne Eh? I’ve only ever used my old iBook (the dual USB, 500MHz model) with my wireless connection a few times, but I’m certain I’ve absolutely never used it with WEP! Since it was the same removable card used in all Macs of that vintage, I think I’m safe in saying that Apple has never produced a machine that didn’t support WPA…

    (The iBook currently has Tiger installed (I bought a family pack). I was quite disappointed that this merely six and a half year old machine wouldn’t run Leopard. πŸ™ It’s not as if I didn’t upgrade the RAM to its maximum – 640MB…)

  20. @ Gary you’re absolutely right I will get used to it. Pity I don’t have the space for Wayne’s dual 24″.

    My introduction to the Mac was a Newton I suppose but that was sold off fairly quickly and I too bought an iBook G3 but forgot to get it out of the box until I realised I was almost at the end of the 1 year warranty. Anyway an Airport and mighty RAM u/g to 640Mb followed and that stayed in the family until a year ago. Good workhorse, it went to Tiger but didn’t see much benefit except for Spotlight..

  21. I still use my iBook on the few occasions I’ve been away on holiday over the past few years. Whatever photos I’ve shot during the day are uploaded to it in the evening and initial previews of the RAW images are produced … very … slowly.

    Still, I know its limitations and accept them. πŸ™‚

    I haven’t had my Newton powered up for years. I don’t think it has a USB port and it certainly won’t have any RAW conversion utilities! πŸ˜‰

  22. @Gary. HmmÒ€¦ Not sure. This is a school computer that they give the faculty. Don’t know why it won’t do WPA, whether it’s just a really, really old machine or because it’s running 10.2Ò€¦ Even the help doesn’t say anything but working with WEP. πŸ™

    (Doesn’t matter anyway, it’s locked down by the school IT guy pretty hard.)

    On the other hand, it’s almost time for the big game!

  23. Sands loves her 20″ iMac (not the latest model) and has been using it with an old 17″ Sony display which has got her into dual screen mode! I have just ordered her a 20″ ACD so that she has screen that are more aligned, a neater set up and more space on her desk.

  24. @Wayne – I’ve just found confirmation of what I was starting to suspect. In the early days when I had my iBook, I was still on dial-up. I only got access to wireless/broadband something like four years ago – after 10.3 came out. According to this TidBITS article (see the second paragraph of the final section), WPA support only appeared with 10.3… I’m sorry for any confusion I may have caused.

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