Category Archives: News

HP Touchpad – Initial Thoughts

The venerable HP launched their competitor to the iPad earlier in the summer. As with most things slated to be a killer of any Apple product, it was not to be, and it’s a real shame. 

With a price of $499 for the 16 gig and $599 for the 32 gig version, the Touchpad was close, but not enough to really pick up market share. This lead to a huge write off for HP and a sweet deal for those of us who had been on the fence about a tablet. With a firesale price of $99/$149, I couldn’t resist, and after a few weeks of patience following a cancelled order, CDW came through with the 16 gig version for me.

It arrived late last week, and immediately it felt far superior to any of the Android tabs I have tested, including the Xoom and several Galaxy tabs; that made it worth it, if nothing else. The build quality is good, and never having played with the Palm Pre, I now see why people are big fans of the WebOS.

The home screen is clean and simple, and much like the Vista screen scroll feature, going through cards (or apps) is a visually appealing way to see what’s going on. The keyboard doesn’t offer haptic feedback, but is fast and allows for multiple digit entry. Same goes for copy and paste – it’s functional and effective.

I was nervous to tweak the OS, but simple online guides had me overclocking and turning off nannies in no time. I turned off much of the logging, overclocked to 1.5ghz and made a number of other tweaks to vastly improve how it works.

If a Android were immediately available for the Touchpad, I think I’d stick with WebOS and what I have because it works effectively. The browser leaves a good amount to the imagination, but is functional. The inability to organize and rearrange favourites is a bit of a pain.

I haven’t fully got Skype up and running, but voice works fine, there just seem to be some issues with the video. Similarly, have other apps to try out, but Google docs and WordPress (on which this post was written), among others work great. The app ecosystem may not be so rich as Apple or Google, but if clean and simple – with a lack of bloat, is the goal, this is what you want.

All in all, this is a great tablet, and if nothing else, you can’t get a digital photo frame with this quality for the money. With an iPad case from the VZW store I’m good to go, I think I will invest in the touchstone charger and stand at some point. It doesn’t take well to charging from standard USB phone chargers. People say the ecosystem is dead, but I think this WebOS tab has some life left in it, numbers alone I think will make that happen. Plus, if a good Android tablet build comes out, it will be interesting to see how the tablet takes to it.

But for HP, I think this about sums it up, via the WSJ:
Let’s say you were given a year to kill Hewlett-Packard. Here’s how you do it: http://goo.gl/Kr002

Will add more as I get my hands dirtier.

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Updated iPad Initial Thoughts

A great Red Cross comms training in Tampa (and subsequent recovery) kept me from writing this sooner.

When I reviewed the iPad shortly after it first came out, I was pretty downbeat.

In an incremental move at a March 2 presser, Apple has updated the iPad, making it thinner, offering it in white, and adding two cameras and the dual core processors. The cameras have me sold – but from the reading I’ve been doing, this upgrade seems akin to the iPhone upgrade from 3G to 3Gs. The screen didn’t see any real improvement, leading me to believe the true iPad next-gen will have a high-end screen a la iPhone 4.

Another problem remains, if the iPad is to be for consuming, surely one could put an SD slot in it, or at least a way to USB/connect to other third-party devices without needing their proprietary dongles.

From a value perspective, the camera was my main gripe, so knowing this iPad will be faster, I could definitely see myself buying the base wi-fi model (or 32 gig) once the next generation is announced.

It’s not earth moving advances, but certainly enough to keep me on the fence about the Kindle, and the various Android tablets (which can’t meet or exceed Apple’s economies of scale).

Hurry up and wait…in the meantime, I think the HTC Thunderbolt is calling my name as an update to my HTC Droid Incredible.

September Primary Elections

Wow, what a night, and what a morning. Talking heads will have no end of items to chat about today. Are the tea baggers doing long-term damage to the Republicans? With empty suits like O’Connell winning in Delaware, one has to wonder. Likewise, are NYers really ready for Paladino?

Closer to home, the Maryland gubernatorial rematch between Ehrlich and O’Malley might be one of the better, and hopefully more civil general election battles.

Closer to home, Mayor Fenty losing his election will be national news, not to mention a case-study for years to come about how one can: have one hell of a mandate, win every precinct in the city, and have residents believe you a doing a good job – yet because do forget to do the basics, and some good old retail, you lose everything. People can handle an aggressive go-getter who rolls over the Council, but not if you don’t tell the base why. His evasive nature ended up being his undoing.

From WaPo: How Adrian Fenty lost his reelection bid for D.C. mayor.

From WaPo: Bicyclist killed in collision with military truck was reporter, painter

Not a whole lot to say about this, other than once again the ‘security’ needs seem to trump everything else. Whether it’s the bollards around the Capitol, or a consistently laissez-faire attitude to the District’s residents; something needs to change.

Bicyclist killed in collision with military truck was reporter, painter

Costance Holden

Costance Holden (Family Photo)
Co-workers and family mourned Tuesday a bicyclist struck and killed by a military truck Monday evening in a collision connected with the Nuclear Security Summit.

Health care

A critical mass seems to be building on the Hill in terms of passing health care reform. When the opponents (who would be your opponents no matter what) are buying page after page of ads in papers like Politico threatening Blue Dogs and other vulnerable Dems, then you must be doing something right.

Hopefully the Jameson and blush from St. Paddy’s Day emboldens the Dems to do the right thing and get health care passed. If not, they should all lose their seats.

Oh yeah, and hearing there’s a good score and that Kucinich is now whipping the bill on the floor is a great sign, may be some real cohesion forming to push this through.

I’ll again refer people to Bob Creamer’s column on HuffPo:  Top 10 Reasons Why Voting Yes on Health Care Reform Is Good Politics for Democrats

Apples and Oranges – Ford and Toyota?

The escalating Toyota troubles – stemming from the very public and graphic 911 call of the cop in the Lexus who crashed and died with family at 100+ miles an hour (and similar stories several years before to today, according to Woz and many other NHTSA complaints), is now turning into a PR disaster worthy of the Exxon-Valdez incident.

The foot-dragging, and eventual recall by Toyota, thanks to intense media scrutiny and LaHood’s US DOT pushing, brought me to another classic case study – the Ford Pinto.

According to data and much research, Ford ran a cost-benefit analysis, essentially determining paying for accidents and lawsuits is cheaper than fixing the issue (in case you don’t remember, the issue was exploding fuel tanks). I’m not saying Toyota took the same gamble (and lost), but the similarities will likely come into view. Important to note that Ford really does have it together these days, I couldn’t imagine them doing something similar again – especially after the Explorer/Firestone tyre incident a number of years ago.

This summary hits the spot:

http://www.engineering.com/Library/ArticlesPage/tabid/85/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/166/Ford-Pinto.aspx

Cost-Benefit Analysis

One of the tools that Ford used to argue for the delay was a “cost-benefit analysis” of altering the fuel tanks. According to Ford’s estimates, the unsafe tanks would cause 180 burn deaths, 180 serious burn injuries, and 2,100 burned vehicles each year. It calculated that it would have to pay $200,000 per death, $67,000 per injury, and $700 per vehicle, for a total of $49.5 million. However, the cost of saving lives and injuries ran even higher: alterations would cost $11 per car or truck, which added up to $137 million per year. Essentially, Ford argued before the government that  it would be cheaper just to let their customers burn!

Still up in the air is whether a software glitch is in play, espeically regarding unintended acceleration in the Prius as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has been highlighting the problem with the electronics.

Update Feb. 3 @ Noon from Autoblog:

Report: NHTSA turns an eye towards electronics as source of Toyota troubles

Reports from multiple news outlets cite sources within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who claim the government is now looking into electrical problems as the source for Toyota’s recall troubles. The unnamed agency employee reportedly told CNN that the government is investigating whether electromagnetic interference might cause the electronic throttle control system to malfunction. The source went on to add that the agency has found no evidence of problems with the electronic throttle, though engineers at NHTSA were still actively investigating the matter.

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/02/03/toyota-electronics-investigated-by-nhtsa-report/

So Much to Ponder – the it’s been a while edition

Given that it’s been so long since I last posted; these are the things on my mind (no particular order):

  1. iPad
  2. Haiti/Red Cross activities
  3. Travelling with the netbook and MiFi
  4. What can Brown do for you
  5. Ava

1. It’s Alive! The iPad – it lives

The much ballyhooed and hyped Apple tablet was announced today as the iPad (http://www.apple.com/ipad), starting at $499 for one with a meager 16 gig memory. My immediate observations are that there is no way to add memory or to use removable flash memory – a major drawback. There is a $130 premium for 3G – basically that adds the unlocked GSM chipset allowing you to add data service from a GSM provider – T-Mobile or AT&T stateside. My money would say get a good mid-range WiFi only version and use it with a MiFi when on the road – getting you good network coverage too and the ability to have 4 others tie into the hotspot: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/mobilebroadband/?page=products_mifi

Don’t get me wrong about this, I like most people enjoy the products, I use a tiny 1gig shuffle about daily, but always avoided the iPhone. iTunes pisses me off because much of it is proprietary, and the same goes for the 30-pin connector on the iPad, why oh why are there no industry standards for CE devices – where you are talking mini-USB chargers, memory cards, or video outs. I also enjoy playing with my friend’s iPhones, but the costs and coverage leave much to be desired. Why would it not have a webcam in it? Makes so much sense for Skypeing – and a big reason behind the success of netbooks. I assume most people have a camera phone already, so not having a traditional camera is likely a non-issue.

Finally, the e-ink on the Kindle et al is great looking, it will take looking at the iPad to see if they can do the e-book experience nearly as well, I suspect I’ll need to see one in real life to see. But I don’t think Amazon or the BN Nook is too worried at this time. I’ll likely try the Sony e-reader software on the netbook. Stay tuned for that.

Parting thought from Rob Pegoraro’s WaPo chat today on the iPad:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2010/01/25/DI2010012501334.html

Long Island, NY: So, this iPad is basically a 10″ iPhone that runs the same OS, but has iBooks, and scraps the phone and camera?

Rob Pegoraro: Not a bad summary of it. But… will software written for the iPad become a sort of middle ground of productivity and entertainment between the laptop and the phone? Apple is betting on that happening, but a lot of other things have to happen first. Let’s not forget here that it’s the same App Store as before, so you could have issues getting apps approved.

2. Issue 2 – Haiti (growled in my best McLaughlin Group tone):

Wow…where to start, Katrina was bad, the tsunami was bad, but this is a whole other bowl of bad. For a country in continuous strife – both man-made and weather-related, this was the icing on the cake to take them to the lowest they can go. Now they have to rebuild.

I was fortunate to be able to help the Red Cross National Capital Region with some of their press outreach, which led to a very cold morning the day of my Lasik surgery (the topic of an upcoming post). Long story short, some exceptionally well trained folks from the ARC deployed with all of their equipment to help with the disaster assessment and communications needs on the island. http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=95940&catid=187

This is going to be an incredibly long, expensive and time consuming rebuild, and just remember, as a result of Katrina, the Gulf Coast is still an active Red Cross disaster, beyond everyone else who is rebuilding down there.

I would be remiss if I forgot to mention that you can donate to both the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and International Response Fund at http://www.RedCross.org.

3. Travelling with the netbook and MiFi
A full post will follow on this, but starting earlier this month with a trip to Albany, I have ditched the 15″ Dell laptop for travel and am taking an Acer Aspire One and Verizon MiFi mobile hotspot on my travels. It’s working great so far, and saving several pounds of weight from my messenger bad is a huge bonus.

4. What Can Brown Do For You

In my gut, i knew this would happen, that Michael Brown would win by a few points over Martha Coakley. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t royally pissed off last Tuesday night. This was inexcusable. Less of a referendum on POTUS than it was a damning indictment of an atrociously run campaign. Seriously, having worked on a campaign over Christmas before, I can tell you the only day of downtime was Christmas Day itself. Where is the work regimen? And more to the point, why did more senior staffers not sound the alarm sooner to the candidate, kitchen cabinet and national committees?

Note to self, check any sense of inevitability and the fortune of incumbency at the door. This will be a fascinating election season, and hard work will be needed to see any successes on the Dem side, especially in light of the retirements. Hopefully a bold SOTU by Obama tonight will put the country on a more aggressive footing to tackle to many deep troubles at hand.

5. Ava

Well, I knew this day would come. She is now walking around and getting into everything more than ever. It’s been pretty quiet on the whole, no drama since she turned one except for a couple of trips to the ER, nothing serious, just to make sure she didn’t have a bad case of something called RSV.

It’s amazing how quick they grow up.

So that’s the update, I’ll try and write more, especially when I have time sitting on the 2100 or 2171.