Category Archives: technology

The iPad 3G is out – it wont change computers, but it might change the type of device you carry.

One look at the iPad and you can tell where its roots are. Using the iPhone OS (now called iOS); it is no surprise that the first impression the iPad gives is of being a bigger iPhone/iPod touch. Even during the first minute or so, you are still convinced that is all it is, so it is no surprise so many nay sayers have dismissed it as such, without even using the device.

But the more you use this device the more things you find out you can use it for. All of the sudden you realize you wanted this machine long ago; an incredibly useful machine that is super portable. And that realization makes you feel embarrassed for even using the comparison above. Once you start working with the apps designed specially for the iPad you start seeing possibilities of where mobile computing could be headed. It does have the iPhone mentality of “there is an app for that” and it works even better here.

We’ve been promised exceptional mobile computing for years. We had sci-fi movies show us possibilities of devices like this. The scanners on Star-Trek, and just about every other sci-fi show, were machines that adapted to the situation at hand. They mostly were a communicator, a scanner, a data filing system and many others users. Back in the real world, we still have bulky laptops that tried to emulate desktop PCs on the go. We have netbooks that tried to add an extra layer of portability to a laptop.

A long time ago, (aka the 90s) we had PDAs, which tried to keep your connected with your data, but in truth were too ahead of their time and had one huge flaw – back then they were another “phone directory” to carry around. Now a decade later engineers decided to merge it with a phone and created, the smart phone. which has been one of the most successful attempts at having the user and the data connected at all times. They too have a problem, their tiny size is great for quick data entry but for any substantial work, they can be a chore.

That is why the iPad’s “not being a computer” & “not being a phone” works to its advantage. Gone is the long wait for the OS to boot, or for the computer to come out of stand by. Long gone is a program taking forever to start, then you searching for a file, then opening it, and being ready to do whatever it is you need to do. Long gone is the tiny screen & gone is the tiny keypad (though not perfect, iPad’s keyboard is very usable).

Getting an iPad ready for work is incredibly fast. It is so fast, that this is the ONLY electronic device that let’s me take notes faster than I can find pen and paper. I tried PDAs, laptops, netbooks & smartphones in the past for my own daily note taking routine and none ever offered the speed the iPad does.

The culprits to such a fast user experience are the interface, which has roots on the iPhone OS (well it IS the iPhone OS) and roots on fast usage, and Apples own new A4 processor which makes the interface move smooth as silk. The OS interface is great for sure – is surfing the web just as smooth? Safari renders most websites perfectly, but as publicized everywhere, the one current fall is the lack of flash. Sure, I hate flash as much as any other web designer, Steve Jobs, and SEO specialist out there. But the truth of the matter is a LOT of websites use flash.

In many cases the fault is at the designer hands. One of the rules I live by is that website navigation is king, and you should never use flash (or any other non-standard plugin) for navigation. So I consider that as bad design in the designer part – but that is after the fact that the user will miss some content.

Although, I do believe this has the potential of being THE device that forces web user interfaces to improve exponentially. Its already started, just take a look at all the websites that already have a special iPad version of their site – specially streaming video with HTML5. The quickest solution to lack of flash video. One of the reasons that Steve Jobs vouched for not using flash was the power consumption needed for a computer to use flash. Well, sadly he is right, flash is all done in software, without the help of a specialized hardware chip doing the work, which means the CPU of the computer must work extra time using all your lovely portable power.

The iPad has great battery life – in my tests it clocked at over 11 hours of mixed use (web, email, videos, music, etc.) which is more than a full day of work. Including flash into the mix could have had detrimental effects on battery life. Even though probably the iPad’s battery could have lasted enough, I am split on the lack of flash – as i admit so much content is on flash already, but admit to secretly (or not) hate flash development. This issue is a toss up and only time will tell.

That is the reality with the iPad; even though it has sold 2 million units in the first 60 days it is a device that doesn’t yet has a place on everyones mind. But like i mentioned at first, all that changes once you use it.

Only time will tell if enough people get a hold of one, if the user base keep growing the apps will surely continue to flow and with a device like this, that is all that matters. – Optimus Maximus keyboard

Optimus Maximus Keyboard
If you have been looking for the holy grail of keyboards it seems you will have to wait. For now, the highly anticipated Optimus Maximus – is already shipping from and got one for testing. Now, almost every gamer and designer out there is salivating to know if it is worth the almost 3 year wait and worth the “are you kidding me?” $462 price tag. Short story – it doesn’t seem worthy of either. Yes, that price is JUST for a keyboard.

Well according to the first impressions of the Optimus Maximus is a very nice keyboard that fails at the basic premise of being a keyboard. Confused? Well they say the keys are very hard to press and do not flow like a keyboard should, causing unnecessary strain and fatigue for your hands.

For those that never heard of this keyboard, the idea is having a keyboard that can display an image in real time on each separate key. This can offer incredible customization to your work flow. Imagine keys that change depending on which programs you are actually using, keys that display a status like something as simple as “new emails” or any other notification you usually need. But, that is not all we users wanted; we also wanted a usable keyboard.

It seemed to me like an epic fail ever since they announced the price. But there was always hope. If you consider that technology which succeeds is lowered in price as time goes by; this is the best idea for a keyboard in a long time. If it doesn’t sell well, there will always be someone else that takes the idea and perfects it, the Optimus Maximus “new and improved” 2.0 or the desinger’s latest Optimus Tactus.

only in Japan: the best tech you can’t buy

PC World has a very interesting article about technologies that we can’t buy, well at least not in the USA.

Imagine a cell phone that offers true TV capabilities, works as your bus/subway/train pass, it links sales to a credit card (wave your cell phone at the register), tells your car where to go, which route has less traffic and which gas station is cheaper, and can even warn you of an impeding disaster like an earthquake. And this is a phone we are talking about here, not a computer you have to carry on your back.

Sounds like science fiction but it is reality at the other side of the world, in Japan. Read the article for more info.

10 principles of effective web design

Talking Pointer Usability
Here is an article that exposes usability in 10 easy to understand points through web design. Smashing Magazine also has older usability articles like 10 usability nightmares and 30 usability issues. They are all a must read.

One very important item, before I comment on their 10 points, is that users DON’T READ a website, users actually SCAN a website for information, then read. Something I scream to the wind as being true, and that actually explains a few of the points below.

Here are Smashing Magazine’s 10 principles of effective web design with my comments; do read their article for their original view and examples.

  1. Don’t make users think – Simple, lay your website components out in an organized fashion and let users select what they want.

  2. Don’t squander users’ patience – Users have all control, bother them with too much work, too many forms to fill (specially if you give them no incentive before they start) and they will leave.

  3. Manage to focus user’s attention – Call attention to those parts of the website that are important, but don’t do over do it so you don’t undermine the other parts of the website. “Not all users are on the site for this month’s special.

  4. Strive for feature exposure – Guide your users on the site. Simple visual or text cues can make a huge difference. Continue reading

we keep multiplying

WebsitesOnlineJan08A report by for January 2008 reports that 155,583,825 websites responded to their tests. Although, compared to 5.4 million new websites in December 07 the increase of 354 thousand sites for January might not seem like much.

But when you think at the mass of the number, and let me spell this number, “one hundred fifty five million, five hundred eighty three thousand, eight hundred & twenty five” websites being currently online you just have to think how fast this business is multiplying, and has kept multiplying, for the last 13 years of it’s existence. It is great to be part of it all.

Ars Technica – MacBook Air review

Apple MacBook AirHere is an actual review, not just first impressions, of the MacBook Air by Ars Technica. This review deals with only the standard 4200rpm hard drive version – they will do another review for the solid-state hard drive version of this laptop on February 5th.

Big points of the review are:

  • The small size is only based on how thin it is, since in terms of desktop space it only saves a bit compared to the regular MacBook.
  • It’s trackpad is bigger than MacBook and MacBook Pro, but the gestures use is still limited.
  • For audio it has one speaker (good bye stereo) and it is still louder than a MacBook – but then again what isn’t?
  • Lacking a regular CD/DVD drive can be a pain if you don’t plan ahead or don’t always take your installation disks with you
  • The weight is a huge attribute; makes it very comfortable
  • It’s performance “Achilles heel” is the slow hard drive
  • Some users are experiencing louder than normal fans on these, but not the reviewer
  • Don’t even try the remote Migration Assistant, just don’t
  • WiFi is ok, but not close to the MacBook sensitivity
  • Actual usage time on the battery was about 2 hours and 33 minutes. Ouch, that is not even half of the 6 hours advertised!

Read the full review to make your opinions… but seems quite a disappointment for some of us. I could have lived without the DVD drive. I could have lived with the slower performance (on the go only!!). But such a short battery life is really a disappointment; especially for a computer that is made to take with you everywhere you can take a manila folder. frees the music logoFor those of us that can actually listen to music while we work, I highly recommend

This is more so now that since last week you can listen to full albums right from your browser. It has a bit of a long process to install, but it is simple. Just create the free account, download their software, integrate it with the music player of your choice and it will look for your favorite songs, genres and artists. All this happens in the installation program so it is not as complicated as it might sound.

After installation, the system on their website will automatically start creating a play list of songs that you should like based on your favorites from the media player you chose during installation. It might take a few hours to find the perfect songs for you but wait until the site is done and come back later.

Ok, you came back and now your account has your profile and play lists ready. Just hit the play button and start listening to their recommendations. Don’t like a song? Just use the skip button, or the BAN button, and the system will learn your music taste based on your decisions. Love the current song? Click the LOVE button and your play list will continue to be filtered by those choices. The more you train the system by letting it know which songs you like and which you don’t the better selections it will give you.

 And now you can select an artist and scroll down to the albums, now you can just select and play the full album. Not all of the albums for each artist are available but the collection is quite good. Enjoy!

designers are a picky bunch

Mouse Pointer

The title should come as no surprise; but thanks to that fact we can drive developers and programmers crazy sometimes.

We are picky on what goes where (layout), picky on which color to use (color combination), picky on how images should display (image manipulation), and if you are head of the project – specially picky on how the system works (design usability) and finally picky on the details that make the project look complete. These are pieces of the puzzle that some programmers and developers only pay light attention to. Just look at for guidelines; yeah we have that many.

Although a system can -work- correctly, it might not display correctly or it might not give the impression a finished system should give. On the other side of the coin, programmers do pay attention to other parts of the system that we might not pay as much attention to. A programmer, somewhere, is mentioning this concept in a programming blog.

Continue reading

Best of CES according to

Gizmodo CESEvery year the electronics community gathers to see what is the future of those lovable gadgets and plasma screens every technophile salivates for. This show is called the CES; the Consumer Electronics Show and this year it was celebrated January 7 to 10, 2008 in Las Vegas.

The lucky guys at Gizmodo where there and have created a list of what they think were the best offerings at the show. Everything from 150″ TVs (yep, that is right 150 inches of pure imagery), media players, geek appearances and weird gadgets you weren’t expecting. Like for example a leopard skin taser with built-in MP3 player – what? Don’t believe me? Just follow the link.

And that is why we love CES; a bunch of gadgets that we won’t get anytime soon, if at all, and a lot that are just fun reading about – because you don’t really want them.

iRing design by Victor Soto

iRing design by Victor Soto

Apple lovers, keep in mind this is just a concept and not coming to stores any time soon so don’t go asking for it at the Apple store just yet.

The iRing, a concept design by Victor Soto, is meant to connect to the iPhone or iTouch via bluetooth. (although the iTouch doesn’t have bluetooth right now) It would control functions like volume, move back and forward through you songs or media, and mute. All this through touch sensitive controls on the surface of the ring; it also employees a lock mechanism so you don’t go changing the volume because you moved your hand.

A bit ahead of it’s time in terms of actual implementation, but I believe it is a nice idea on what the future can hold for device control. It was made with the Apple products in mind, but imagine music systems and TVs that can be controlled this way.

Imagine never running around the house trying to find the TV remote, it is always in your hand. I surely want to imagine that.