Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hardware Review: Pogo Stylus

The iPhone, as many people know, is an absolute masterpiece of form and function. However, all these functions are useless if you can’t actually touch your phone. Dirty or gloved hands render the iPhone completely useless. The Pogo stylus bridges that gap, allowing you to use a stylus to control your iPhone.

When the iPhone’s touch sensitivity works, it works great! However the first week I owned my iPhone I realized how vulnerable my phone was. I got a flat tire and began to change the tire when I ran into some trouble removing one of the lug nuts and decided to call roadside assistance. Oops. My hands were greasy and grimy and I simply couldn’t control my iPhone. Without paper towels or anything I was in major trouble. From then on I carried a disposable phone in the car with me! Similarly, in the winter, my iPhone also wasn’t terribly useful with gloves hands. Again, my expensive smart phone was dumbed down by a thin piece of leather. While this hasn’t happened to me, I’ve seen women with long sculpted fingernails look about as stumped as Edward Scissorhands with an iPhone. Why deny them the ability to use an iPhone?

Unlike other smart phones, you cannot use a regular stylus since the iPhone relies on the electrical impulses of your fingertips or other body parts. The Pogo is a stylus designed specifically for touch screens. The bottom of the stylus has spongy material designed to activate touch screens. The Pogo stylus was not as responsive as my stylus was on my old Palm Pilot, but the Pogo was still extremely useful. The material at the bottom was soft and won’t scratch the iPhone, and in fact, helped clean mine a bit. I was even able to use it with my GPS, keeping my hands warm on the cold days.

The Pogo package comes with a clip to help keep the Pogo Stylus connected to your iPhone without creating bulk. Unfortunately the clip did not work with my external iPhone case, but people who keep their iPhone naked will have no problem using the Pogo Stylus. At $14.95 the purchase of a Pogo Stylus is about the best investment in protecting the usability of your iPhone. You may not need it today, but at some point you’ll need your iPhone and your hands will be dirty, wet, or otherwise inaccessible. That Pogo stylus will allow you to make the call! I keep one in the glove compartment and another in my laptop bag.

Pros: Allows iPhone use in situations you can’t directly touch the screen

Cons: Clip doesn’t work if the iPhone has a case

Five out of Five Dogcows


Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Book Review: Mac Migration: The Small Business Guide to Switching to the Mac by Jason Rich

As an avid reader of Entrepreneur magazine, I had very high hopes for this book. More and more businesses are switching from Mac to PC and need a guide focused on how to get typical business functions done on the Mac. The book completely skips the iLife suite and takes the reader from the decision to buy a Mac over to the key tools a business owner needs in order to run a business on their Mac. Unfortunately, the book is incomplete, inconsistent and needs to check its facts.

The first few chapters of the book helps the reader decide which Mac to buy and how to set it up, then takes the reader through the built-in contact management functions and then onto the Microsoft Office suite and,finally, backups. This is not a how-to guide but rather an overview of the considerations to make when switching to the Mac and whether your business will be able to make that switch. By the time you have actually made the switch, the book will be of little value to you. Business owners on the fence about switching to the Mac will find comfort that it can be done and there are tools out there to help them do the job.

The author focuses too much on his personal preferences and has a recommended suite of hardware and software to buy, giving the reader few options if they wish to deviate from the path. For example, he devotes 60 pages to Microsoft Office but barely mentions iWork or Open Office which are both extremely viable alternatives for the average company switching to the Mac. Similarly, the penultimate chapter of the book mentions that every business should own the full $299 version of Adobe Acrobat when much of its functionality is already built into Leopard. The other programs he mentions are extremely expensive and often unnecessary for even advanced business owners. Why does he recommend Photoshop CS3 to a business user? This chapter could convince a business that it is too expensive to switch to the Mac.

The final chapter of the book is all about backups and Rich does an excellent job of explaining the various backup options the average business owner should consider. He goes through not only the Apple options, but third party hardware and software as well. Alongside with backups, Rich then covers (in the Appendix) something every Mac user should have: a full record keeping worksheet of all the important information about your Mac and the hardware and software that goes along with it.

Unfortunately, Rich is just plain wrong on some of his facts. Each chapter had a few minor facts wrong that would not impact the average business owner, but still reduces Rich's credibility as an expert and an author. The explanation of how to install software assumes that the software will begin installing as soon as you put in the CD, when in reality most programs that come on optical media require you to double click something to begin the install process. Rich also explains grey-market hacked Apple clones, which should never be used in a business. Rich even admits they haven't been tested nor are they probably legal, so I'm not sure why a business book would mention them. Entrepreneur Press is not used to editing technical books and it shows.

Pros: Cuts right to the chase regarding those aspects of the Mac most interesting to business owners
Cons: Extremely biased and doesn't empower the reader to make their own choices

2 out of 5 dogcows

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right