Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tip: Reuse that Old PC with your Mac

In this post for TheAppleBlog, I give some tips on recycling an old PC for use with your Mac. Reuse before recycling!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hardware Review: Otterbox Commuter for iPad

The name Otterbox is synonymous with quality protection for your portable devices, so having a line of cases for the iPad is a welcome addition to their family.

Generally, Otterbox cases come in the "Defender" line and the "Commuter" line. While the Defender is the ultimate in protection, the Commuter is an excellent balance of price, performance and bulk.

The Otterbox Commuter for the iPad is similar to Commuter products down the Otterbox product line. It combines a silicone wraparound with a hard plastic support and a plastic screen overlay: three different forms of protection for your iPad when most vendors provide only one.

The Commuter added a slight bit of bulk to the side and back of the iPad, but was within the normal dimensions of other silicone cases. I was easily able to fit it in most iPad sleeves. Given the large size of the iPad, a structural support in back is important to prevent screen cracking due to flexing.

The Commuter's combination of matte makes the case much easier to grab and much less likely to slip out of your fingers. Holding my iPad in this case was comfortable and natural. Unlike other silicone cases that didn't quite fit, the Otterbox always has a tight custom fit.

I'm a big fan of the Defender Case, but not everyone wants that level of protection (or price tag). For those looking for the perfect balance of price, style, and protection, the Otterbox Commuter for iPad delivers!

Pros: Light yet sturdy protection
Cons: None

Five out of Five Dogcows.

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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Quick Tip: Backup Checkup

In this post for TheAppleBlog, I cover the importance of regularly testing your backups and verifying you can do a restore

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Review: Snow Leopard The Missing Manual

Weighing in at over 3 pounds and close to 900 pages, this book isn't just the missing manual, but the definitive guide to everything Snow Leopard. If it isn't in there, you probably don't need to know it.

Seriously, though, this is a great guide and each time Pogue comes up with a new edition of his Mac OS Missing Manuals, they just keep getting better and better. Similar to previous editions, the author takes you through every aspect of the operating system and the included applications and even some of the iLife apps. Menu commands, their functions, and their relation to real world situations is a hallmark of the Missing Manual series. Screen shots are used where appropriate but not so many that you feel like you are reading a comic book. Of course, sprinkled throughout the book are tips, tricks, and "nostalgic corners" telling us how we got to this 6th generation of Mac OS X.

Unlike previous editions of the book, the author is including more of the intermediate users in his mix. Many more advanced topics aren't just mentioned, but clearly explained. In particular, the book explains the difference between Applescript and Automator and how to write practical scripts and workflows the average user would benefit from. Other more advanced topics include Windows and Mac file sharing (especially the problems Windows 7 poses), virtual private networking, and top "useful" unix commands.

The book is designed to be a reference guide more than a how to or walkthrough book. The table of contents and index are indispensable tools for zeroing in on exactly the right command and program to get the job done. Every IT department and help desk should have a copy of this book.

Pros: Extensive information geared for both novices and intermediate users
Cons: Requires lifting with the legs, not the back

Five out of Five Dogcows

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

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Hardware Review: Otterbox Defender Case for iPad

I've only been in a tank once. It was some museum in my childhood and I can't remember where, but it was impressive. When you were inside you couldn't hear anything from the outside world. You'd bang on it and your hand would hurt. It was an impressive vehicle that provided unbelievable protection from the outside.

"Tank" is the first word I thought of when using my Otterbox Defender for the iPad.

While I'm a big fan of the Defender for the iPhone, I was deeply concerned about my iPad. The iPad costs nearly twice as much and just seems so exposed with that big screen in the front. Would my trusted guardian angels in Fort Collins let me down? Absolutely not.

Similar to most Otterbox Defender cases, the Defender for the iPad has two methods of protection. The core is made of hard plastic, which is particularly important on the iPad since you could flex it hard enough to crack the glass. Unfortunately, I've seen this in action. The second line of defense is a standard silicone overwrap. This silicone withstood sweat and oils without getting slick or discolored. The silicone protects most of the ports on the iPad such as the volume switch and the rotation lock. The dock connector is protected for daily use, but is accessible via a removable plate to allow the iPad to be plugged in for charging.

Unlike the Defender for the iPhone, the Defender for the iPad does not have an integrated plastic screen shield built into the case. I was very disappointed because they included a standard plastic overlay instead. I hate those. After about 10 attempts of putting on the plastic overlay and pushing out the bubbles, I gave up entirely. I'm sure the engineering of such a large screen protector was difficult, but I did like the complete protection the integrated overlay offered for the phone version and wish it were available for the iPad version as well..

The Defender for the iPad had some unique features that more than made up for the lack of integrated screen protector. Because the screen is so vulnerable on the iPad, Otterbox included a hard plastic protector shield that completely encloses the front of the iPad and snaps into place with the rest of the case. But there's one more thing: this hard plastic also acts as an iPad stand in either horizontal or vertical mode. I've struggled with carrying a quality iPad stand while doing heavy typing and my prayers were answered by Otterbox's engineering department.

Some may balk that the case has an $89 price tag or that it bulks up the iPad a bit, but like the solider in the field, sometimes you need that level of protection. It won't protect against everything, but for day-to-day mortals like me who take it everywhere around town, this is a reliable insurance policy to protect my iPad against mishaps. I love my iPad almost as much as my Defender for my iPad! Great job!

Pros: Outstanding protection, innovative screen protector and stand
Cons: No integrated plastic screen shield

5 out of 5 Dogcows

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