Category: Technology

Being The IT Guy Sucks

One of the most unfortunate aspects of my teaching life was it being discovered that I had an affinity for all things computer, tech and gadget based. This resulted in me being the default ‘Computer Guy’ for the school despite being a full time teacher. It effectively meant I had two full time jobs and involved a lot of interrupted classroom time and lots of lost breaks. It wasn’t fair on the students and it wasn’t fair on me. In the infographic below, check out the sections on ‘They are expected to be” and “Worst Colleagues”, that was me. Then throw in elementary school teacher. No wonder I left.

The interruptions got so ridiculous I had to start getting my students to answer the classroom phone. I had them trained to say “Mr Nez can’t come to the phone right now, he’s in the middle of teaching us.” It annoyed people, not everyone, but the worst offenders were put out, but they eventually started to get the hint. My favourite interruptions were always about printers not working, usually because they weren’t switched on or had no paper.

I really miss the kids and I loved being a teacher, but I’m pretty sure the “computer guy” curse was going to follow me no matter what school I went to.

The iPad Rocks My World

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a single device that has had the impact the iPad has had, in such a short amount of time. It’s only been two years since the iPad was even announced and it’s impact on the world of technology has been astounding. Prior to Jobs walking on stage and announcing the iPad and the specs that go with it, all we could do was speculate, both on the device itself and the impact it would have.

I think it’s fair to say that nobody could have imagined just how big the iPad’s succes would be. It’s sales figures have been astronomical, way beyond the expectations people had of it. It single handedly created a new device segment in the market. It put computing power in the hands of many that barely even touched computers. Nobody can deny it’s success.

If you want to read about sales figures, babies and pensioners using the iPad, or what other tablets are now competing in the same device segment space, then there’s plenty of articles online you can read. That’s not what I want to write about here.

Let me be clear, this is not an Apple love-fest, although I’m a self confessed fanboy. What I simply want to write about is the impact the iPad has had on me personally. I quite literally can’t imagine not having this device with me at all times now. It moves from room to room around the house with me, and 90% of the time it leaves the house with me. In essence the iPad serves two purposes for me, it entertains me, and allows me to get away from sitting in front of the computer.

Let’s kick this off by talking about reading. I’m an avid reader and always have been. Prior to the iPad there were two issues creating a problem for me. The first is lighting. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and no amount of adjustment of reading lamps and body contortions to get the right spot was producing the ideal reading environment. The best option was always the lamp in the bedroom on the side table, but being a late night guy the light would often wake up my wife. Not a pleasant experience for either of us.

The other reading issue is that I’m slowly developing arthritis and prolonged holding of a book (and I love me some big thick novels) was producing aching hands and wrists. Being a heavy computer user I also get the occasional bout of carpal tunnel syndrome. Not pleasant.

Both of these issues have become a thing of the past with the iPad. I can happily read for hours on end, with good light and no discomfort. I know people may say that the backlight is an issue long term, but I always dim the screen so it’s not too bright and I love the new night feature of iBooks making the screen in negative. It allows me to read in bed without disturbing my wife.

So without a doubt, the hands down killer feature of the iPad for me is the way it’s reinvigorated my love of reading (I have a 2nd genration Kindle, but without being backlit it wasn’t a solution for me).

I’m also a huge movie buff, and the iPad combined with AirPlay and the Apple TV has been a godsend. You’ve got AirVideo, allowing you to consume video content in any format from your Mac to either your iPad or flicked to the TV using AirPlay. You’ve got Hulu Plus, Netflix and iTunes movies, the latter two also being accessible via the Apple TV. All of these solutions pretty much have everyone covered (and yes I’ll admit this is more true for people in the U.S). I love that with AirVideo I can start watching a video while in the kitchen cooking, then sit down in the lounge room, flick the video across to the Apple Tv via AirPlay, and continue to watch where I left off. Fantastic.

Now let’s talk about apps. There are so many out there now that you can find solutions for pretty much anything. For me, it’s all about giving myself time away from sitting in my office in front of the computer. I’ll break that down into five simple categories: communications, productivity, accounts, social and entertainment. Entertainment I’ve pretty much covered, aside from games, so I’ll spend a little bit of time here talking about the other four (and a bit of gaming as well) as they’re mainly my big plusses where it comes to getting away from in front of the computer and performing these functions anywhere.

Communications. With the iPad I’m able to keep tabs on all of my important emails accounts, I can receive iMessages, make Skype calls, Facetime calls, etc. Even if the iPad just performed these functions and nothing else it would be worth it. I said the iPad goes with me everywhere 90% of the time. The iPhone goes with me 100% of the time and while it performs the same functions, it’s not as elegant a solution for some things. Combine both and I can add in calls, meaning I have all of my communication bases covered.

Productivity. I’ll admit that the iPad is primarily a content consumption device for me, but I also use it for content creation as well. This blog post is being typed up on my preferred text editor (Simplenote) to be edited and published later. I also use Blogsy to publish direct to blogs, a variety of photo editing apps, Apple’s own Keynote, Pages and Numbers, and a variety of app creation apps I’m using to brainstorm some app ideas I have. Combined that’s pretty impressive on one mobile device.

Accounts. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Simple access to a variety of account information, be it Instapaper, Reeder, Dropbox, Simplenote (syncs in with Notational Velocity, my preferred text tool on the Mac), my Google Docs, flight information, my Foxtel account (cable/pay TV) so I can set remote recording, and yes, even bank accounts.

Social. Another obvious one. There are apps covering everything, but I only really access Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Path. I primarily access these social services on the iPad. It means I spend less of my valuable time in front of the computer being used to look at social networks, and more of the time being productive.

Lastly, a brief word on gaming. When the iPad first came out I went nuts with the games. I still have quite a few installed, but I’ve slowed down on how many I buy. Everyone has differing tastes here too, so what I like is less relevant. I do need to mention the iCade cabinet though. I love this thing. I have a page on my iPad dedicated to just iCade supported games and it’s damn fun to use. Hopefully it’ll get supported by more developers in the future.

So there you have it. The iPad rocks my world. My reasons for loving the iPad are simple. I f I was pressed to pick two things about it though, it gets me away from sitting in the office in front of a computer and it’s helped me rekindle (bad pun I know) my love of reading.

(If anyone is interested in knowing more about any of the apps I use for various tasks, hit me up in the comments and I’ll update the post with some lists of the apps.)¬†

Reality Hits You Hard Bro

Man, sometimes I just love the internet. Take five minutes and watch the two videos below. The first is a news story about a car accident. It’s funny all by itself. But where things really go to the next level is what the Songify This guys do with it. Prove positive that there are some very, very creative people out there. My new favourite music video.

The original news story:

Power Lines Fall on Crashed Vehicle, Driver Trapped:

The Songify tribute:

Just awesome.

The Fruity Wishlist

Now this may seem strange given the last couple of posts I’ve written, but I have a wishlist of Apple gear I want to own. Some of it I consider important hardware I need to have for my business, some is just cool stuff I want to own.

I can’t justify any of it at the moment, as we really need to get on top of things after our investment debacle, but as I’m a guy who always tries to have a positive outlook, I’m putting it out there anyway. Right now the list will have to wait, but I’m creating it anyway as I want something to aim for.

I’m not a guy who collects… stuff. I’m very selective and don’t surround myself with crap I don’t really need. In the past my main transgressions have been books, DVDs, books, music, books, the odd video game, and books. I’m happy with pretty much everything I own, but there’s one thing lacking that I really need to get onto, and that’s Apple gear.

I’m a late starter into the world of Apple, having only owned my first Mac for just over a year now, a Macbook Pro that has literally changed the way I do everything. And I’m a total and utter convert. I love the way everything about Apple is done, and I’ve slowly built up a list of must have Apple hardware that I really want to own. I’ve even prioritized it.

So here goes.

  1. An iPhone – Yes, a very obvious first. I consider this a must have, and something I shouldn’t be waiting to do. If I had the money sitting there for it right now, I’d still have to use it elsewhere, as need currently dictates, but when I have a few spare dollars this is the absolute first thing I’ll do. I’m with Three Mobile in Australia, and although they don’t sell iPhones yet, they have created a special offer for people with an iPhone, so I just need to get hold of an unlocked 16gb iPhone 3G and I’m away. I expect that to come in at around $1200AU.
  2. A Time Capsule – This one’s relatively obvious as well. I’m already using an external drive to back up, but a Time Capsule will make life easier. $499AU for the terabyte model at the Apple Store.
  3. An Airport Extreme Base Station – I’m slowly trying to go Apple with all of hardware, so this would replace my existing wireless router. $179AU at the Apple Store.
  4. A Mac Pro – This one will take a while, but I’m working my Macbook Pro pretty hard, and spreading it’s display externally across 3 19″ screens using a splitter box. I would ideally want a Mac Pro running these displays instead, and working the beast pretty hard I know it would handle everything I could throw at it. Starting at $2799AU at the Apple Store
  5. An iMac – This is for my wife. I want to get her off the horrible Dell she’s using now and onto an iMac. The biggest step into taking our household all Mac. Starting at $1199AU at the Apple Store.
  6. An Apple TV – Obviously this isn’t a must have, but a want. $329 for the 160gb version at the Apple Store

There’s still other things I’m keen on, but I want to keep this wishlist manageable. Aside from the Apple TV I see the above list as things I really do need. If money was no object, there’d be 30″ cinema displays and a Macbook Air on the list as well. But first and foremost is the iPhone. I’m facing having to take on some relief teaching work in the near future, and having an iPhone will help me stay connected to everything I need to regardless of where I am.

I fully expect to have turned my current financial situation completely around inside 12 months. And a list like this just spurs me on to make it happen quicker.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

In Australia, we have this social effect where anyone who gets too successful eventually gets cut down by everyone else. Effectively, if you get too big for your britches, people feel they have a right to cut you back down. It’s probably the single largest thing about being Australian that I have always hated. For some reason, we get jealous and vindictive about the success of others.

But why? I’ve never understood it. People work hard, make all the right choices, make smart decisions, and reap the rewards. Fair enough to me. I’m not at the point yet myself, but I’m getting there, so why begrudge the succes of others who have gotten there before me.

But I digress….

Today I woke up to find a firestorm of controversy over an article written in Mashable. That can’t right I thought, I like Mashable and read it every day. I better have a look. What I read was really just a personal attack on John Reese. It is unfounded, inaccurate, and quite frankly, just rubbish. Aside from attacking John, the inaccurate prediction that internet marketers are going to ruin Twitter for everybody is just mind boggling.Tall poppy syndrome at its finest

What an utterly rediculous argument. I’ve really enjoyed reading Mashable until today.

This is like saying internet marketers are going to ruin email because they use it. No wait, people can unsubscribe can’t they?

So, obviously for Twitter to survive this massive onslaught of people being marketed to by other Twitter users, there needs to be some sort of way to stop following the people who market to you? Hmm…

Honestly, the personal attack on John Reese without even checking the facts is just gutter journalism, something I thought Mashable would be above. I’d love to do a comparison between the number of times Mashable staff have twittered links to their articles, compared to the number of times John has twittered links to his stuff. Just over the last couple of months.

But I don’t really need to do I, we both know the answer to that already. It’s been quite good though, to see that most of the commenters to the article I’m talking about¬† don’t agree with it, so at least there’s some common sense out there.

Mashable is a highly, highly monetised site, that uses Twitter to drive traffic. I follow John Reese on Twitter, and I enjoy his tweets. It’s been quite rare to have John link to any of his sites, he’s more likely to offer little nuggets of wisdom or vent about different sports. Who’s the bad guy here?

I want you to make your own mind up, so I’m not going to put in any quotes from either source. Instead, below I’ll link to the Mashable article in question, and then John Reese’s response to the attack on his blog. I know who think shows more ethics but I want you to see it for yourself. Make sure you read the comments section too, that’s very enlightening all by itself.

The Mashable Article

John Reese’s Response