The iPad after two weeks

From what I can tell, there are two types of people when it comes to the iPad: those who see it as the next best thing since sliced bread, and those who think it is nothing more than an oversized previous generation iPod touch. After playing with one briefly after the launch, I was of the latter opinion. To give it another try, I was able to borrow another one for two weeks which included a business trip to Europe. While not 100% converted to the other camp, I can see how the v2 of the iPad will certainly be on my shopping list if some of my feature requests make it in (not that I expect Steve to listen 😉 )

For those who read my (very) infrequent posts, you know that I have been looking for solutions to reduce the numbers of trees needing to be cut every year in order to print all the documents I read (mainly in PDF and MS Office / WordPerfect formats). I also travel a lot, and have tried different solutions to reduce the weight of the books in my carry-on luggage (the Sony eBook reader does a good job for eBooks, but isn’t that great for PDFs). Doing email and browsing the web on the go are secondary (or so I thought) as I have an iPhone and a Sony Vaio laptop with me (and tethering works just fine in Canada with my data plan, sorry US friends).

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“The Pirate’s Dilemma” by Matt Mason

One of the subjects for an upcoming blog post (when I can take the time to get it written) is piracy, with a focus on the one related to software and intellectual property in general. To help with the preparation of it, I’ve been documenting myself on the subject, and part of this research, I got myself a copy of “The Pirate’s Dilemma” book by Matt Mason, subtitled “how youth culture is reinventing capitalism”.

While this book does not cover specifically software piracy, it contains a lot of insightful information about the challenges traditional companies face and how they should embrace piracy vs. fighting it, including great insights in different ways of thinking.

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MobileMe: Not as bad as people say…

Since its launch on July 11, 2008, the “new” online service from Apple had a bumpy start and reviews have been negative overall… even Walt Mossberg says that “Apple’s MobileMe Is Far Too Flawed To Be Reliable”. The problems that have plagued the service have not helped… and Apple also changed the tone of their messaging from “Exchange for the rest of us” to “The simple way to keep everything in sync”. But overall, the re-branding of .Mac and new web interface to the online service that Apple Inc charges $99 per year in the US (pricing does vary around the world, and I don’t think it will be lower) has all the base components that make it already worth for me, and that could become great with a few little “tweaks”.

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Having fun with air… and being really happy with it

MacBook AirIve been thinking about a sub-notebook for quite a while. The one I was looking at last summer was the Toshiba Portégé R500, a great little device (at least according to the specs) with a long battery life and an option to get an SSD hard drive for snappy reaction times and no moving parts. The reason for my interest for a sub-notebook is that when I travel, I always carry around my work laptop, which is a Lenovo T61, a 15.4” wide-screen device with a battery life of about 3 hours (I do have the extended battery), and that I also carry my private computer for my photos, my music and my own stuff.

When Apple announced the MacBook Air, I looked at it with an intrigued eye, but didn’t place the order immediately (I know, really amazing) as I was still quite happy with my original 15” MacBook Pro (the Core Duo version). But then, walking into an Apple Store in Montréal, I saw the Air and by the time I left the mall, I had one of the SSD based model in a small bag specifically designed for it, looking forward to experience it fully during a three weeks trip to Australia and Taiwan. In Summary: I love it!

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The Sony PRS-505 eBook Reader, reading Dan Browns’ Digital Fortress

During a recent trip to the US, I got myself the new Portable Reader from Sony USA (looks like all the cool devices from Sony are not imported in Canada, just like the Mylo I reviewed previously) and have found it to be a very handy device, especially when you don’t want to carry more than one book with you.

With all the noise about the Amazon Kindle these days (yet another device that won’t be available in Canada for the foreseeable future), I was really surprised by the bad press the eBook Reader from Sony was getting. Well, if Sony only sold a few thousands of these, I am one of the happy owners. Overall, the book reading experience is really nice, PDF support is bad and the Connect online bookstore has a long way to go before it can be at the same seamless experience level as iTunes.


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“Understanding Comics – the invisible art” by Scott McCloud

Doing presentations on a regular basis, I always look for ways to improve the way I can transmit my message. While reading a magazine the other day, I saw a comment about the book called “Understanding Comics – the invisible art” by Scott McCloud.

At first, it might sound unrelated, but both comics and presentations share some common ideas and there are quite a few things that can be learned from the story-telling of this sometimes considered “lesser” art-form.

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A non-gamer view of the Playstation 3

Just before Christmas, I was able to find a Sony Playstation 3 at my local retail store the day I decided to get a console… Not sure what this availablility shortage scare was all about? This is my first console, having almost completely left the world of gamers over 10 years ago (shortly after Doom and Descent 1.0 came out). I therefore consider(ed) myself as one of these non-gamers the WII is trying to attract.

I have been considering buying a console for a while, and my initial choice was to get a PS3, mainly because of its HD capabilities, the built-in Blu-ray player and the strong history behind the Sony brand when it comes to gaming. But with all the hype behind the Wii at launch, I almost went with that one as it seemed to be the least “serious” console. As they only had the PS3 in stock that morning, I came back to my initial choice.

Having enjoyed this device for just over a month now, my biggest problem with it is that I simply don’t have enough time to use it!

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“Getting Real” by 37signals

Listening to one of the many podcasts I subscribe, I heard about an eBook called “Getting Real” by 37signals. According to them, the reason for their successful products is because the under-do the competition, and focus on what really matters. The Getting real eBook is a great document full of very interesting insights. Well worth a read if you are in the web services, software or hardware business, e.g. anything that needs an amazing user experience.
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Skype without a computer: The Netgear SPH101 Skype Phone

The Netgear SPH101 WiFi Skype phone was announced in January 2006… I finally got my hands on one (11 months later) and I have to say, this is really cool for a version 1.0 of a product, but there is still room for improvement. There are a few quirks that will hopefully get resolved with updates to the firmware, but all and all, it works as advertised, and the sound quality is really good.

I’ve been using Skype for a while and really appreciate the user experience of the software… really clean interface, easy-to-use and at the cost of phone calls (especially Computer-to-Computer) make it a very attractive solution to talk with my family, friends and colleagues around the world. The biggest negative has always been the need to have a computer with the Skype software installed on it… not anymore!
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“Blue ocean strategy” by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

Interesting how red has a negative connotation and blue has a positive one. Mr. Kim and Mauborgne, in their book “Blue Ocean Strategy” compare the bloody red ocean strategies (doing more of the same) vs. re-defining the name and rules of the game in a nice blue ocean (without the bad weather). This book provides great ideas about thinking about the customer first, making the competition irrelevant in the process.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Why do many companies compare their products with what the competition is doing and fight a features war while needing to be very careful on costs? Why not look at what the customer needs and wants to focus on that instead? In a step-by-step approach, “Blue Ocean Strategy” provides a way of defining a strategy that will make the competition irrelevant and minimize costs at the same time. A well-worth read!

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“The Apple Way” by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank

Analysing and learning from Apple, their successes, their failures and their mistakes is what Jeffrey’s book tries to achieve. In “The Apple Way”, Mr. Cruikshank goes through twelve different aspects of this company and the related management approaches to provide insightful facts and ideas on how to run high with almost no market share and build a cult around your brand.

The Apple way

One of the top High-Tech companies of this new millenium, Apple brought the Mac and the iPod, as well as the Newton and the Lisa. This book provides interesting summarizes of the good, the bad and the ugly related to the management and strategy behind the company and the products.
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Crackberry, here I am

I finally gave up the fight and got a BlackBerry. After using it for a few week, I have this love and hate relation with it. But at the end of the day, I am, for the time being at least, able to keep up with my inbox, especially when travelling, without needing to spend my night connected.

Yes, I am now one of the millions of users who happily type on this tiny keyboard – I have the 7100 model – any time I have to wait somewhere. Really adictive this little device. It is definitely not as good as a Palm OS device for an all purpose PDA, but as a mobile email client, it rocks. And the integration with the corporate email really works great, including global address book lookup and folder support (see my blog entry about the Palm TX) as well as syncing of calendar, tasks and notes.
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