Read the ******* manual!
By David HAGUE
I was reminiscing the other day as I am wont to do lately. I particularly remembered the times I used to spend reading software manuals. Call me a geek (or worse), but I used to gain a wealth of information from these – and I am not referring to the techy ‘Instruction Set for the Motorola 68000’, or ‘C++ For A Laugh and Giggle’, but manuals for Word for Windows, Excel, Project and their like.
It was here that I learned about outlining, that F7 invoked a command in Word called “Spike” (sadly no longer there), features of Excel that I might only use once but when I did, saved hours, and much, much more. In those days, to people like me, computers were fun as we were constantly learning, exploring, discovering, creating.
Today this is much harder to do unfortunately. The software manual has gone the way of the dodo in the name of cost cutting and we are bound to PDF files. This tends to mean that simply sitting down in a spare moment to absorb a chapter or two has gone by the wayside. Paper versus pixels aside, it’s just not the same. I fear this also means that the knowledge we have of our software is far, far less than either it used to be or could be; and this then doesn’t make us as productive as we could be, or in the case of video production which is the main focus here, as creative.
Perhaps the saviour here may just be the tablet. It’s not reading a book, but perhaps by copying the PDF manuals for your editing, audio, special effects and DVD authoring software to your tablet (and while you are at it your camera manuals) it might encourage you to go back in time and start reading them again.
Go on! Give it a go. Who knows what you may pick up?
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For sale: 1 sizable PC business
By Ian GRAYSON
Now the dust has settled following HP's shock announcement that it plans to exit its PC business, attention is focusing on who might buy it. Who indeed.
The news, delivered by HP chief Leo Apotheker, that the venerable firm was moving away from PCs and focusing its entire energies on enterprise computing technology caused waves of surprise and concern across the IT industry.
HP has been in the top five of global PC makers for years, chalking up billions of dollars in sales. This makes its PC unit a valuable and attractive proposition for a range of companies.
One likely contender, Samsung, quickly poured cold water on rumours that it was about to open its cheque book.
However this still leaves other potential players including Dell, Lenovo and Acer. Each could meld the HP product line and channel relationships into its existing business and enjoy a massive boost from doing so.
Then there's always a rank outsider like, say, Microsoft. The company could produce its own range of branded PCs while still licensing its software to others.
Indeed, it recently struck a close relationship with Nokia in the mobile handset market. Why not an even closer relationship with a PC maker?
The IT industry is moving so quickly that nothing should be ruled in or out.
Who do you think will buy HP's PC business?
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Successful TouchPad fire sale doesn’t prove HP was on a winner
By Adam TURNER
Queues to buy cut-price TouchPads don’t mean we misjudged its merit.
HP’s TouchPad was only on Australian shelves for four days before it was scrapped, but after the price was slashed by 80 per cent there were queues to buy them. Some pundits seem to view this as vindication of claims that the TouchPad had been harshly judged.
The truth is that the TouchPad was a slow and cumbersome also-ran, offering poor value for money compared to the iOS and Android devices that you could pick up at a similar price point. If the TouchPad had launched in Australia with a $99 price tag then reviewers would have raved about it. At $99 it certainly offers better value for money than the budget Android tablets we’ve seen from the likes of Telstra and Optus. This doesn't mean the TouchPad deserved greater praise when it was first launched, or that reviewers are out of touch with what people actually expect for their money.
The TouchPad generally met with mediocre reviews which cited the sluggish performance rather than condemning webOS. From the stories which have emerged over the last week, it seems the hardware was more to blame than the webOS operating system which HP gained as part of the Palm acquisition. The sad part about the TouchPad’s demise is that at this price many shoppers are probably snapping them up for the hardware alone, with plans to eventually wipe webOS in favour of Android. It’s an undignified end for the only aspect of the TouchPad which showed any real promise.
Regardless of what becomes of these cut-price gadgets, their posthumous success shouldn’t be viewed as a glowing endorsement of HP’s cumbersome TouchPad.
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What I'd like to see in Apple's new Macs
By Stephen WITHERS
MacFixIt is one of a small number of web sites that's stayed on my daily reading list for many years. At the risk of sounding nostalgic (cue voice with a north of England accent saying “I remember t’ days when..."), I will say that I thought it was better when Ted Landau owned and operated the site, but CNET has done a good enough job to keep my attention.
Contributing editor Topher Kessler recently asked "What would you like to see in Apple's new Macs?" and that set me thinking.
The basic design of recent iMacs works well for me. One change I'd make is easy access to the hard drive to allow ordinary owners to fit a replacement or upgraded part without having to call in a tech. I'd also like to see additional USB and FireWire ports to reduce the need for daisychaining or hubs.
While some people get excited about Apple's 'flex base' design that would allow an iMac-style screen to fold down at a slight angle to the desktop for touchscreen operation, that idea leaves me cold. My feeling is that touchscreens are OK for handheld devices or for kiosk-style situations where you walk up to a device and perform a brief sequence of operations, but that's about it. Oh, and possibly the group interaction model assumed by Microsoft's Surface table PC.
Why didn't pre-iPad tablets succeed except in some very specific situations? Largely because they tried to superimpose a handheld interaction model on top of an existing user interface. Apple wisely discarded the preconceptions and produced something that worked well on smartphones and tablets. So why would the company be stupid enough to revisit a failed model? Before you ask, I don't think Lion is sufficient evidence!
I must admit that part of me does feel a little guilty about being 'forced' to replace the entire system when an iMac shows its age. But then I reflect that hardly anybody makes the same observation when they replace a notebook. And over the years I've carried forward very few items from one computer to the next - a couple of monitors each lasted for the useful life of two computers, and I did transplant one hard drive from a system to its successor, but that's about it. By the time my Windows PCs are replaced, about the only usable thing is the case. Processor changes seem to mean a new motherboard which doesn't accept the old RAM or graphics card, the old drive seems impossibly small (and drives don't seem to last as long as they used to anyway), and so on. So I end up buying a complete system.
As for incremental upgrades, if you exclude installing more RAM then all aI can remember doing in the last 20 years is fitting a faster processor, a USB card, a combo fast SCSI and FireWire interface, and a second hard disk to my Power Mac 7500, and replacing the graphics card in my first (circa 1998) white-box Windows PC.
Some people, including Kessler, would like to see a just-plain-Mac to sit between the iMac and the Power Mac: a system that makes it easy to add disk drives, replace the graphics card and so on, but without the expense of the Power Mac.
Meh. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the idea, only that I can't see myself buying one.
I know I'm not being very imaginative - but then Apple realised a long time ago that if you ask people what they want, they generally come up with incremental changes. To make a big difference, you figure out how to deliver something they don't yet realise they want.
But whether the next set of Macs represents a small or a large change, can I please have an Apple keyboard with the feel of the old Extended Keyboard II?
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Where are we at with mobile devices?
By Anthony CARUANA
After all the recent wheeling and dealing in the mobility space, what's the current state of play?
HP might have set a record when the discontinued the WebOS based TouchPad just four days after its release in Australia. But that's not the only shift that's taken place recently. Google purchased Motorola Mobility and Microsoft and Nokia announced a deal that would see the Finnish phone maker deliver devices with Microsoft's latest mobile OS. Android is on the march and iOS is still in the game.
1. RIM and BlackBerry
Although the BlackBerry was the first smartphone platform RIM was the last major entrant to tablet computing. The release of the PlayBook signalled a shift into the enterprise tablet space. Like Apple, they're keeping things simple with just three models - varying only in storage capacity.
RIM's focus with the PlayBook is security. Earlier this month, RIM announced that the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) of the Australian Government has approved the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet for use in government agencies when using its BlackBerry Bridge application and connected to an approved BlackBerry smartphone. The Bridge application funnels BlackBerry smartphone’s email, calendar, address book, memo pad, task list, BlackBerry Messenger and browsing functionality using the larger display on the tablet. That means that all communications are encrypted and secured using the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Comms between the PlayBook and handset are also secured. However, it also means that you can't use those apps without a BlackBerry handset.
Plenty of ink has already been spilled on the iPad and iPhone so I won't repeat everything. The really confusing part about Apple is their enterprise strategy. They've dropped the XServe products and their storage offerings, expecting businesses to run Mac minis and Mac Pro hardware as servers. So, while there's a device that's clearly popular - a walk through any airport lounge reveals a growing number of execs with iPads and iPhones - Apple doesn't seem to want to play in the enterprise space.
If you want the most user-friendly device and can live with the lack of Flash support, the iPad will be "good enough". But, in our view, it's a consumer device rather than an enterprise one.
What's Google's play in buying Motorola Mobility? Are they interested in becoming a hardware OEM or is this a defensive play, designed to sure up Android and protect Google from the aggressive patent buying Apple and Microsoft have recently engaged in?
Android's star is rising with recent figures suggesting that it is now outselling iOS in the smartphone market. The release of Honeycomb, Google's first tablet-ready mobile OS, has buoyed the market with several OEMs now offering products that aren't just like the iPad but often better.
With the other platforms, we've not really focused on the developer. But with Microsoft, things are a little different as they seem to be in a transition phase. Microsoft has two, separate mobility solutions on the market.
Unlike previous versions that felt like someone had tried to shrink the PC version of Windows onto a small screen, Windows Phone 7 was totally redesigned for mobile devices. The tiled interface is finger-friendly and the handsets are far more attractive than the previous generation. As you'd expect, integration with Exchange is excellent and, reflecting the consumerisation of the office, it integrates with the most popular social media sites.
The recent deal struck between Microsoft and Nokia means that the world's largest handset vendor will now be shipping Windows Phone devices. That was significant enough deal that Gartner now thinks Microsoft will be number two in the smartphone market behind Android by 2015 with 20% of the market relegating Apple to third place, with a shrinking share.
On the tablet front, Microsoft was clearly surprised (as was everyone) with the release and success of the original iPad. After more than 10 years pushing Windows based tablets, they saw a new player enter and totally redefine the market. However, if previews of Windows 8 are anything to go by, that could change quickly.
If Windows 8 can come to market in the next 12 months we could see Microsoft regain market share in the tablet market as it will no doubt integrate with Exchange, SharePoint and other common back-end systems.
Anthony Caruana is sitting in for Alex Kidman. Anthony was one of the founding contributors to Hydrapinion is now Chief Editor of SearchCIO Australia
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