27 March 2011

Homemade iPad 2 case using $7.50 worth of thrift store clothing

I got crafty.  This afternoon I headed down to Goodwill, and picked up a kids polar fleece jacket ($3.75), and a tweed skirt ($3.75).

Tweed skirt and polar fleece jacket
I don't have a sewing machine, so this process took longer than it would have had I driven up to my grandmother's house (which is what I usually do when I have pants to hem, or Cornhole bags to make).  But my mother taught be how to hand sew, at least enough to keep a couple of pieces of fabric together.  A few hours later and voila!  A temporary iPad sleeve with a super soft inside and a stylish outside that will protect my precious gadget from the harsh reality of the outside world.

Doesn't it look cozy in there?  It's not quite done, of course, it needs a button for that cord to hook over.  I plan on getting a button tomorrow (I know, I can't believe we don't have a single button in our apartment either).  This should be plenty of protection for a bevy of upcoming plane flights (a wedding, then work, then more work), and going up to campus.  I will still keep my eye out for the perfect case, but for now I don't have to hurry!

25 March 2011

The iPad 2 finally arrives (and finds a home in a business card holder)

 I got the call on Wednesday evening, and was picking it up at Best Buy seconds after the store opened on Thursday.  Why didn't I pick it up on Wednesday you ask?  I tried, they wouldn't let me.

Just like bringing a baby home from the hospital, this little bundle of joy demanded diapers and a nursery--or at least a protective sleeve and a spot on the desk.  I haven't taken care of the sleeve yet (I plan on getting crafty so stay tuned), but I did learn that a cheap-o business card holder will sub in as a stand, so off to OfficeMax I went.  It turns out none of the business card holders alone could hold up the iPad when it was vertical, so I went with this guy.

Way cheaper than an Apple iPad dock.

It is strong enough to hold the iPad up on my desk vertically and horizontally.

My iPad goes both ways.

And it also holds my desk stuff.


So I can get rid of my mug-of-pens, leaving my desk looking like this:

Sleek, huh?

So far I am extremely pleased with my purchase.  I had a Skype meeting on it already, which was a breeze, and I purchased QuickOffice (docs, spreadsheets, presentations) and iCab mobile (Safari alternative with tabbed browser and downloads) with a gift certificate to iTunes left over from Christmas. Plus, the iPad is already getting along quite nicely with what is now Chris's iPod touch. Here they are, chatting about being super-skinny, super-sexy gadgets together on the coffee table.

"No you're sexier!"

24 March 2011

Why Evernote has won my heart: An Ode

I'm in love! With a cloud note-taking program that is.  If I love it so much why don't I marry it you say?  MAYBE I WILL.  I'm thinking a summer wedding, so as not to compete with William and Kate's nuptials...

BUT ANYHOW, I have spent the past year (or longer) searching for the perfect cloud replacements for all my go-to software, and I found a lot of good ones.  However, I still hadn't come up with a suitable replacement for MS OneNote.  It was driving me insane.  I rely on OneNote to supplement my infamously spacey memory, as well as satisfy my secret obsession for militant organization and overly-complex filing systems.

In all my searching, Evernote was the only software that came close to doing what I needed.   Last year, I dabbled in Evernote, but hesitated to make the switch for one major reason:  my life was already in OneNote.  Since OneNote files (.one) are totally proprietary, I felt trapped.  Either I painstakingly cut and paste every important note into Evernote, or I stick with bulky, expensive and poorly cloud-integrated OneNote (Yes Gates, I know about MS SkyDrive, and it kinda sucks).  Not to mention the fact that the OneNote syncing and backup process is a total mystery to me, which makes me uncomfortable.

But I recently discovered that in late 2010, Evernote Windows changed my life forever.  Evernote now imports OneNote notes, automatically filing them in a new notebook with the right name, with tags based on their OneNote sections.  AND it doesn't make you find the OneNote files on your computer (which, as I said, I don't understand), it just finds them itself, and then asks you which notes you want from which notebook.  HELLO AMAZING.

Evernote has some other awesome features as well, like the new "Trunk."  The trunk is basically an app store, but for every platform, and also hardware. And all of it interacts with Evernote in some way.  For example, there are several iPad apps (and Blackberry apps, and Android apps, and iPod apps, etc) that will gather information (drawings with a stylus, video recording, pictures of receipts, etc) and send them directly to Evernote.  There are also a list of scanners that can send directly to Evernote, as well as more efficient note managers that sync, and of course the Chrome Evernote Web Clipper Extension and Chrome app.

All of this plus tagging, which is a way more intelligent organizational system than folder.  And a super cool elephant  logo, which is really, really important.  If I'm going to be clicking on an icon almost every day, it better be damn good lookin'.

Thus concludes my confession of love.  Expect the save-the-dates in the mail soon.

19 March 2011

What if Google ruled the World?

I have ranted before about how wonderfully Google keeps track of my mail, contacts, to-do lists, blogs, calendars, etc.  I have even wished that Google might extend its magic to the parts of my life that are less well taken care of: GCarRepairs perhaps? GPhD? GHangover?

Spanish artist Alejo Malia has taken the liberty of imagining a world where Google's presence has moved from cyber to physical, dominating our streets, and even visible to astronauts in space.

Whether these images are meant to celebrate Google's awesomely-efficient organisational tools for our everyday lives, or creepily ever-growing presence in every aspect of our existence, I'm a fan.

Street Name "Google's World"

13 March 2011

Decision 2011: I'm getting an iPad (2)

I have obsessed over portable cloud-ready devices that I can keep in my purse for long enough.  It is time for me to make a purchase.  And the decision is... (click play below for the drum-roll)

iPad 2!

You may be surprised to hear this (unless you read the title of this post).  I have never been a Mac junkie.  I pledged my loyalty to Microsoft long ago.  And in fact, my first impulse was to get a netbook.  But there were a couple of things holding me back from committing to the netbook.

First, the nipple.  I've said it before, but I hate touchpads.  I love trackpoints.  When I asked the guy at Best Buy if there were any netbooks with these eraser-head pointing devices he said "those things that were on the old ThinkPads?  They haven't made those for years."  First of all, he is clearly dead wrong.  Several big laptop companies still include nipples on all their normal-sized laptops (Lenovo and Dell, for example).  Second of all, the nipple is clearly the superior pointing device, as it allows manipulation of the cursor without having to lift one's fingers from the keyboard.  So that guy can go jump in a lake.

But I digress.  The point is only one netbook includes a nipple, and it is the Sony Vaio P.  The Vaio P, simply by virtue of being made by Sony, is prohibitively expensive (~$1000), especially among netbooks, which typically range from about 200-400 bucks.  Sony claims it is not a netbook, just a small laptop, but give me a break.  It's a netbook.

Sony Vaio P display at Grand Central Station

As for weight, most netbooks really aren't that light.  The smallest netbook is (sigh) the Sony Vaio P.  And guess why they can cut out so much weight?  Because by adding a nipple and getting rid of the touchpad, they could cut off all that extra stuff below the keyboard!  It all comes back to the nipple.

Before you go thinking that the Sony Vaio P would be perfect and I should just save up for one or get financing or something, the P is not perfect.  Its tiny keyboard is apparently difficult to type on, and it's tiny screen is difficult to read on. Since one of my major impetuses for purchasing something is for reading PDFs and traveling, this is a big deal.  Not to mention the fact that nipples have been linked to major finger joint problems (I've probably already done too much damage to reverse).

To be honest, my 3 year old ThinkPad is about as small and light as a laptop gets, so getting a netbook really  just seems redundant.  I would just be getting a crappier computer than I already have to shave off a little weight.  I want to shave off weight while expanding my computing capabilities, rather than replicating them.  I want something that can do things my ThinkPad can't.  Like be at my disposal on the bus instantly.  Or last 10 hours without having to be plugged in.  Or turn into a piano.  All while still letting me surf the web, read PDFs and books, Skype, blog, and take notes in class.

Let's go over a few of the iPad's downsides and why they aren't downsides at all:

No physical keyboard?  No problem! I took one out from the library last week, and it turns out I can touch type on it like a maniac! I'm not saying I'm going to write my whole dissertation on it, but if I want to bang out a chapter or two on a flight to Maryland, no biggie (yes, I can write 60 pages in 6 hours shush).

No file system?  No problem!  If you think that I'm a fan of saving data locally, you clearly have never read this blog, or talked with me for like fifteen minutes.  Pages (Apple's touch word processing program) integrates with Dropbox, as do several other common apps.  Having no files system will only accelerate my move to the cloud.

No Flash?  No problem!  I have already figured out how to play Flash on my iPod touch using something called  iOS Flash Video.  There are also several iOS web browsers out there that can play Flash, and that also allow downloads and tabbed browsing, unlike Safari.

As for the lack of USB ports, I have no excuse for Apple here.  Now what am I going to do with all my awesome food themes USB sticks???  What the heck is wrong with you Jobs????  You popularized it, now use it!!!!!

It's okay iPad, I forgive you.  Did I mention it comes in white?