Category Archives: Productivity

Tools, techniques, and thoughts on working more fluidly, efficiently, productively, and with minimal stress; of course, this includes the use of technology and the latest in trick gadgets to make life and business more fun!

BlackBerry Bold versus iPhone 3GS/v3.0: which is the winner?

Short answer: it depends.

Perhaps this verdict not surprising, since each device has its pros and cons and the widespread adoption of each are evidenced by the significant market share captured by each vendor. What requires a bit more under-the-hood analysis, however, is an evaluation of how well the devices actually perform as business tools and communication devices, more than simply comparing aesthetic preferences or brand loyalty.

Using any tool or technology requires some learning curve to master, and since both devices are currently available in the U.S. only through AT&T, a network performance/availability and pricing plan discussion between the two is a non-issue. What matters most to a small business owner (and admitted technophile) is practicality, features, and performance. Continue reading

My portable office

While packing for a recent business trip, it occurred to me that a post inventorying my favorite tech tools for daily life and work is long overdue. While I have extolled the virtues of the MacBook Air, a litany of other items round out my portable toolbox which may useful to others who use and enjoy a similar workflow in life and business.

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iPhone 3G/v2.0 update: STILL not a basic smartphone

The announcement of v2.0 software and a 3G-capable iPhone at Apple’s recent Worldwide Developer’s Conference was highly anticipated by those of us monitoring the development of this device. From my earlier post comparing the iPhone to Blackberry and Palm Treo devices, I am pleased to see that a number of smartphone capabilities (and even a few wish list items) are being included into the latest hardware and software:

  • MobileMe (WAN sync), carrying Apple’s clever tag line of being “Exchange for the rest of us”
  • Attachment view of iWork & Office ’97 docs
  • Integrated GPS

While I give kudos to Apple for these most welcome additions (especially offering WAN sync to MobileMe), I am still quite disappointed by the lack of a removable battery and some form of expandable storage (via either MMC or microSD card) in the hardware, particularly as the latter would allow for doubling the available memory. Minimally, one would expect the iPhone 3G to match the highest memory capacity of the current iPod Touch (32 GB), but alas, the initial offering will only provide up to 16 GB. As disappointing as these shortcomings are, I have even greater concerns regarding what was not mentioned by Mr. Jobs’s keynote address in terms of software support available in v2.0. Continue reading

iPhone v2.0: What it needs to actually compete with a Blackberry

As the second version of the iPhone is anticipated to ship within the next few months, I am compelled to weigh in with what I would like to see in this new model. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Apple products, noting my recent review of the MacBook Air, being 1 of 6 Macintosh computers which I use at home and in my businesses. I also own two of the latest generation iPods (the 160-GB Classic and video-capable Nano). So naturally, an Apple zealot such as myself would have an iPhone as part of my business (and toy) arsenal, right?

Wrong. In fact, spending a few minutes online reading about its features (or the lack thereof) along with 5 minutes of hands-on experience in an Apple retail store last summer was more than enough to convince me that the iPhone was not even close to serving my needs. Perhaps my needs are different than others who would buy an iPhone over an iPod Touch. I can understand the appeal of the latter: a wide-screen, multitouch, gorgeous multimedia appliance with Wi-Fi which further extends an already popular (and profitable) product line.

If the iPhone is to be an iPod Touch plus a revolutionary phone, I would expect it to incorporate (at a minimum) the standard set of basic cellphone features which have been commonplace for years in much less expensive, low-end devices. In fact, as a high-end phone (as determined by its price point) coupled with a revolutionary user interface, I would also expect it to incorporate all of the basic Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or smartphone capabilities which have been around for more than 10 years. After all, PDA functions are just software, an aspect of which the iPhone has claimed to be king. Continue reading

What’s so “niche” about the MacBook Air?

Since switching to Mac OS X in 2004, I’ve been a fan of Apple’s products. Prior to OS X, I wasn’t completely sold on the performance, interoperability, or “tweakability” of the operating system, with the latter elements being particularly important to individuals who are technically demanding and, not to sugar-coat it, a bit geeky regarding their electronic toys. With the advent of OS X, Apple reinvented itself with a product which accommodates both ends of the user spectrum: an operating system with the stability, performance, and development integrity offered by the open-source community (being UNIX-based) combined with the elegance, simplicity, and user-friendly experience which appeals to non-technical users. Couple this software with the slick industrial design which belies the entire Apple product line, and I was defenseless to Apple’s lure. I purchased the 12″ Powerbook model, appreciating its reasonable amount of power, beautiful simplicity, ergonomic comfort (in the form of a kinesthetically pleasing, full-size keyboard) and relatively compact size.

As newer laptop models began to emerge from the talented team in Cupertino, however, I was a bit disenchanted in not seeing an updated version of my 12″ Powerbook. I began dreaming of an ultra-lightweight, yet fully featured, version of this laptop to come about with greater power in a similar, if not even more portable, version. I knew I certainly wasn’t alone in this desire, as there had been many speculative posts on rumor boards indicating the same desire and/or anticipation of such a product.

Naturally, when I saw the announcement of Apple’s MacBook Air (MBA), I was elated. In watching Steve Jobs’s keynote address introducing the product, it seemed that Apple had been listening to all of my telepathic messages indicating exactly what I wanted in my dream 12″-Powerbook replacement: full-sized keyboard, improved display, reasonable power for the package, good battery life, and very light weight (i.e. backpack friendly–a must for me, as I use a motorcycle as my preferred form of transportation). What has surprised me since I had preordered my machine in January is the number of bloggers/reviewers who have regarded the MacBook Air only to serve a “niche” market and to be unsuitable as a sole or primary computer. While I am fortunate enough to make use of several computers at home, I fail to see why the MacBook Air would not be sufficient for most people even as a primary computer. As such, I’m providing my own hands-on review here, being a very satisfied owner after 3 months of daily usage. Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in promoting the MacBook Air or any other Apple products, but as a self-admitted technophile I derive great pleasure from using tools which increase the fun and efficiency with which I build and operate my businesses.

Why I love the MacBook Air

Before I begin addressing the commonly cited compromises of the computer, it seems appropriate to mention a bit about why I consider this to be my favorite laptop to date (my fourth, in total, and my second Apple laptop). First, it’s obviously thin and lightweight. Who wouldn’t enjoy a lightweight laptop? People buy laptops because they are portable (as opposed to springing for a larger-display wielding desktop models), so making a laptop as lightweight and thin as possible most capably meets this need.


One of my personal favorite uses of the MacBook Air is to enjoy my outdoor home office instead of being relegated to my indoor home office. The beautiful LED-backlit, “instant-on” display is crisp and clear with great visibility outdoors–far superior to that of my old Powerbook. The full-size keyboard is a must, for me, to spend any reasonable amount of time at the keys. Battery life is reasonable (I get 4-5 hours on a charge depending on backlight intensity, radio usage, etc.) and the Wi-fi antenna/radio performance offers great improvement in range and the higher bandwidth of 802.11n. From a mechanical and industrial design perspective, I am thoroughly impressed with the robust hinge and clasp-less closure… as simple and beautiful to view as it is functional. Last but not least is the large multi-touch trackpad, which has me so spoiled that when I transfer to work on either of my desktops I find myself yearning for the 3-finger page-turn or back/forward gesture frequently.

OK, enough with the obvious “coolness” which is expected of the MacBook Air. That alone does not justify the $1,800+ cost of the machine, especially for pragmatic small-business owners and other professionals. Business utility comes first, which is the reason I am still holding onto my Blackberry Curve until the iPhone (v2.0?) incorporates its business and high-end phone functionality, and I’m not referring to “push-email”… but that topic is another post all to itself. So what exactly are all of these compromises or “lacking features” in the MBA which the average person cannot live without? Continue reading