Monday, March 26, 2012

Tablets vs. Laptops and a SURPRISE Combo

Tablets are catching up to laptops, even surpassing them, but the big downside of tablets is the touch keyboard.  The first to offer better text input, no matter how it is done, will find a ready market.

I do have an external wireless keyboard for my iPad, but have yet to use the iPad for writing anything much, even with voice dictation.    I would want to use my external monitor.

But, with easy text input, the tablet could overtake the laptop for portability and capability.

I remember my original hopes.    Some time back, I bought one of the first 7" netbooks, and  I was recently getting ready to dispose of it, an EEE PC 701,   It was loaded with bloated software from the past, Linux and Windows.     The screen was entirely too small to be of any use.   The little netbook is just book-sized.    If only it could run smartphone or tablet software designed for smaller screens. I looked around the web again recently.

WAIT A MINUTE!!     There it was!!    Click here for the details.

Surprise!!!!!    It CAN now run tablet software, even the latest and newest Android 4.0!    It HAS a real keyboard    The cell phone based system has been ported to other computers.

Now, suddenly, the old became new again.   I installed the new and latest Android 4.0, of course, with absolutely stunning results.     Now the little device is highly readable with small screen applications.   Not only that, but it runs the latest tablet software for Android, called Ice Cream Sandwich, even before it generally available.   It is lightning fast with ICS, and ICS is a marvelous system.

Of course, I need to use a mouse or touchpad, and so far you cannot connect a large display.   Even so, it makes a great eBook Reader and browser.     It also demonstrates just how good ICS is.     And I think it shows what a future small device might do.

Update 4-9-2012:   With the lightweight and superfast operating, the EEE PC 701 is everything I hoped it would be.   Instead of selling it, I ordered a new battery.      If this software runs on other old equipment, I can recommend it to anyone.    It can be run "live" to check it out without disturbing what is on the old computer at all, then installed later.    Add a comment if you give it a try!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Making Backup Easy

Many of my postings are in response to support questions.   A frequent question here is how and what to back up.

External drives were the "old new" way to keep backed up.     More recently, Carbonite online backup service has become appealing.   Carbonite backs up online at $60 a year.

Either way, is is desirable to back up.    
BUT there are alternatives.

And, if you get things right at the start, you need to backup almost nothing. So, save yourself some trouble by preparing ahead.

I back up online, being too cheap to spend the money.   Also, a few years I lost an external drive suddenly.  That ended external drives for me.    I find it unnecessary to back up everything.   I keep very little

Instead, I "rent" Amazon space for all my music, with the double benefit that I can play it all direct online (when connected) and at the most keep just  a little locally.     Costs me $20 a year for 20 gigs.    I also subscribe to Spotify, which gives me nearly all music content online and also saves space on my Amazon Fire and iPad and  Touch pocket computers.     I have a backup of my old CDs and LPs  on CD in our safe deposit box---the LPs are all gone, but I keep the original CDs.

The side benefit is that  I don't need to keep music anywhere, on Fire and iPad and Touch, and it is also avaiable elsewhere, even on my TVs with TIVO.

What about documents and applications, like word processing?      Most of my documents were created online with Googlel Docs.    Now and then  I upload locally.      When I use a local word processor, I save them to DropBox on the internet cloud where I can get at them anywhere.  (Search for DropBox.)

My pictures are all on Picasa Web, also accessible anywhere, again even my TV via TIVO and other such devices like AppleTV and Roku.   If I print them, I EMail them to the drugstore or Photo website.  (Search for Picasaweb).

I write a lot of extensive notes and keep them on Evernote, which is searchable.  (Search for Evernote.)

I use the Chrome search engine which enables me to keep bookmarks online, also accessible anywhere.   There are also many Google apps also online .  

When a computer goes down, I just reinstall Windows and the remaining apps.   I keep a list of them and download the latest verisons.      I can still go to almost any computer and do what I need to do.

In the bookmarks list I also have the ability to send anything to Evernote or GMail (by the way, there is no need to erase anything ever).      I also send things to Kindle, which has a lot of internal memory space.      My purchased eBooks are kept forever by Amazon.   Library books are always available online from the library.   I don't need to keep them.

So what do I need to reload when everything quits?   Well, my Dell drivers are always available online from Dell.   I don't need printer drivers because I use Google print, which allows me to print to any of my printers anywhere.

I do need to reinstall drivers which support my small devices like Fire and Touch.    They are all available quickly on the cloud.   Their websites are listed on my Chrome bookmarks bar

So what do I need to reinstall?.   Calibre to get journals which I send to dropbox.     Overdrive.   My TV player.    Not a lot.   Google Packs takes care of installing most apps at one swipe.  (Search for GooglePack).

The latest Windows 8 loads quickly from an kmage now; and recognizes newer devices automatically (although not all older devices).
If I have stuff I want to reclaim after a crash, I run Linux and usually can transfer the Windows files out, even if Windows will not start af ter a crash.

So when  I have a crash, or upgrade, I have very little to do these days.     You can do it this way, too.      You will also find it much easier when you upgrade to a new up-to-date computer.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Ways to Print

There is more than one way to print, and a way from any device.  Here are three of the best.

Chrome Cloud Print allows you to print from any PC or Mac, and iPad and smartphonesr to your printers, once set up, using GMail.

Fingerprint enables printing from iPad to all printers via PC or Mac.

DropBox enables printing from DropBox, such as on your Kindle Fire.

There are other ways, but these are among the least cumbersome.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Which is Better, Windows 8 or Windows on iPad??

Which is better?    Windows on tablet?   Or Tablet on Windows?

Or Worse?

Both came out this week.   Onlive Windows for iPad.    Tablet on Windows 8---customer preview.   Convergence?

Onlive runs Word, PowerPoint, Excel spreadsheet, and, for $5 a month, Internet Explorer.
Windows 8 brings a smartphone or tablet desktop full of app icons, to Windows.

There is really no choice.     Onlive.    Onlive brings superfast browsing to iPad.     I mean incredibly fast.   It does it by letting supercomputers on the other end do the work and just send you the screen picture.

Windows 8 just adds icons to Windows for apps which scarcely exist yet.

Generally, the idea with Windows is to add ever more capabilities.   But what seniors need is ever simpler capacilities, the reverse.     The smartphone and tablet, especially, do that.

Windows on iPad, though, frees us of viruses and the potential of loss of files when a PC goes down.   And avoids security exposures in Internet Explorer.

Now, it takes some doing to use Windows on iPad.    Small screen, so best done with iPad connected to large display (iPad 2).     Then, learning touch gestures for editing.     I have not done the latter well enough.   But I did dictate some text with Dragon Dictate and also PaperPort Notes recently.

But the big deal is browsing with safe Internet Explorer in iPad.

As for Windows 8, it took a long time to load Windows 8 on a Dell 2400.   Windows 8 has two main screens, the old desktop and a new tablet screen.   I thought the latter looked like adding smartphone features without much substance, mainly games.   In some ways Microsoft does not get it.   What we all need is for the computer to make things simpler, not ever more bloated system.

The smartphone and tablet do make things simpler.   I see them as creating the real future.  Most users are coming to the computer from smartphones.    

We should not need to buy 500 page books for Windows Word, Excel, etc.     The software applications should guide us from the computer itself.    The small devices do that.

Now I do use Windows for almost all writing activities, although I use the cloud more, now.   I could just as easily avoid both Windows and Mac, and go to Linux or Chromium OSs.   I could run a Windows 7 clone in Linux.  Still, when small  devices will do that job well, I will be happy to shift.      For access to all media, only the small device is really needed.   Now the small devices are even getting to be able to send screens to large displays (iPad), if screen size is an issue.