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Chris Brennan

Apple iPad in-depth: as a work tool

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Apple iPad as an email clientUsing the iPad as a work tool really depends on what you’re planning to use it for. If you use Flash in any capacity that rules you out. If you edit video that’s another no go. Manage databases? It’s probably not for you either. In fact, the list of jobs the iPad isn’t suitable for is actually quite long. (more…)

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Posted in: Hardware

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Apple iPad in depth: for Mac lovers only?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Chris Brennan and his Apple iPad, iPod and the restThough to the outside world I may appear to be a Mac lover, I’m really not. Despite some, shall we say, compelling evidence in the photo above, I generally use my Macs and then discard them when they’re too old. I think that probably makes me more of a Mac philanderer.

However, I’ve been asked whether iPads are really just for Mac lovers. And the answer is a decisive no: the iPad requires no previous Mac experience or love whatsoever. Sure, some of the applications are similar – even the icons are identical – but that is where the similarity ends. (more…)

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Posted in: Random

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Apple iPad in depth: the travelling experience

Friday, May 21st, 2010

My old laptop rucksack and my new Apple iPad travel caseI have a large laptop bag that will probably look rather familiar. It’s black, well padded, has more pockets than I know what to do with – but I’ve been very happy with it for the year or so I’ve had it. In this bag I carry my laptop, spare battery, charger, assorted paperwork and a plethora of other stuff. Fully loaded it weighs about 7.3 tonnes and, after a day lugging it about, leaves indents in my shoulders.

And since my Apple iPad arrived I’ve only taken the bag out once. (more…)

Apple iPad in depth: the magazine-reading experience

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Ipad GQFrom the outset Apple has been pushing publishers towards the iPad. Steve Jobs himself took an iPad to the New York Times to show off what it could do. Clearly, Apple sees its new slate as the potential future of newspapers and magazines.

Since my iPad arrived I’ve been downloading and reading as many of the magazines and newspapers as I could find. It’s an incredibly compelling and eye-opening experience. There have been a few false dawns in the publishing industry with the CD-ROM and then the internet supposedly one step from killing off magazines and newspapers. The iPad might just succeed where they failed. (more…)

Mac vs Windows 7: the final verdict

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

In the final part of our attempt to convert a Mac user to Windows 7, Chris Brennan reveals whether Microsoft has done enough to tempt him away from Apple’s wares

Imac

I’m now at the end of my Windows 7 experiment and I have to return the PC users’ suit and tie to the PC Pro cupboard and put on my blue jeans, black turtle neck jumper and New Balance trainers.

It’s been a steep learning curve for me, but not in the ways I thought it would be. I had Windows up and running with all the applications I needed to do my job much more quickly than I thought. I’d arranged my desktop, partitioned the hard drive and worked out the basics in less than a day, and that includes installing the software.

(more…)

Posted in: Windows 7

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Windows 7 or Snow Leopard: which is better value for money?

Friday, November 13th, 2009

I’m nearing the end of my month with Windows 7 and so I’d thought it would be a good idea to have a look at the pricing structure. If I’m going to invest it’s probably best to know just how much I’m going to have to spend on this OS. The laptop I was supplied with came with Windows 7 Ultimate, but having listened to the PC Pro podcast on the subject I’m under the impression that Home Premium will be more than sufficient.
It’s a bit odd as a Mac user to have the choice of operating system as the Mac OS comes in just two flavours: Standard and Server. If I step back to Home Premium from Ultimate am I likely to see any difference whatsoever? No, not at all seems to be the general consensus which begs the question why does Microsoft put that doubt in  my mind? If you’re going to make your Home Premium product so all encompassing why bother with a Professional or Ultimate edition? Did the extra capabilities in the other versions really cost that much more to develop?
Apple makes great play of its single version approach and though I’m not exactly confused to the point of delirium by the 3 Windows options the pricing does seem to add to the overall complexity of making the right choice. According to my local PC World the difference between a full boxed copy of Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate is £20 which seems an odd sum, why produce two editions so close together? Of course, the ability to upgrade is a simple solution to this problem and should I find that I’m missing out on that desperately needed feature that’s only available in Ultimate I can always add it at a later date.
Having said all that, the simplicity of the Macs single upgrade approach does have its drawbacks too. My copy of Leopard cost about £90 if memory serves and Tiger the same before that and Panther come to think of it.
The latest OS upgrade, Snow Leopard cost me £25. There was just the one version of each of these and I was getting the full copy for my money. However, I’m sure they’re no where near the value of a full new version of Windows, with the exception of Snow Leopard that is. I’m not really sold that Apple iterations are simply service pack, there’s more to them than that, but they’re not complete new systems that’s for sure. So, despite the slightly more complex approach to choosing the Windows OS that’s right for me it certainly feels like it’ll be better value over its lifetime.

In the latest part of our bid to convert a Mac user to Windows 7, Chris Brennan explores the ever thorny issue of pricing

Notes

I’m nearing the end of my month with Windows 7 and so I’d thought it would be a good idea to have a look at the pricing structure. If I’m going to invest it’s probably best to know just how much I’m going to have to spend on this OS.

The laptop I was supplied with came with Windows 7 Ultimate, but having listened to the PC Pro podcast on the subject I’m under the impression that Home Premium will be more than sufficient.

It’s a bit odd as a Mac user to have the choice of operating system as the Mac OS comes in just two flavours: Standard and Server. If I step back to Home Premium from Ultimate am I likely to see any difference whatsoever? No, not at all seems to be the general consensus which begs the question why does Microsoft put that doubt in  my mind?

(more…)

Posted in: Windows 7

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Is Microsoft listening too hard to customers?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

The current Windows 7 advertising campaign can’t fail to have grabbed your attention. Essentially, Microsoft is saying that you, the user designed this latest incarnation of the world’s most popular operating system. They listened to what you wanted and put it in Windows 7. Does that mean you were responsible for Vista too I wonder? Could an advertising campaign convince me to switch?
The I’m a PC campaign was launched in 2008 in response to the I’m a Mac advertising campaign, which believe it or not started way back in 2006. I have never liked the I’m a Mac campaign as at it’s heart is a childish message: you’re not me and I’m better than you so ner.
There’s no doubt that the Apple campaign has been successful, it wouldn’t have run and still be running all these years later if it wasn’t. The ads are slick and well produced, even dare I say it amusing. But perhaps the most important thing about them is that there’s rarely a price or product in them. It’s your own imagination, with a nudge from the caricatures that sells you into the brand.
The I’m a PC adverts are all together more friendly and human. The man at the gym, the woman in a taxi, the mum at home with the kids they’re real people in the real world that I can associate with. Do I really want them designing an OS though? Is Microsoft saying that after 20 odd years of designing operating systems that Mimi, Crystal and Ramin were the missing link?
There’s a tale that’s probably not true, but it makes a nice story.The Microsoft Word team were praised to the high heavens for Word 5.1 for the Mac, it was slick, quick and just what people wanted then they listened to the users and added all the extra features that those users demanded. Today users complain about a bloated, creaky and crash prone application when all they wanted was Word 5.1 with this ‘one’ extra feature. It’s not because the developers are poor that Word for Mac is so maligned it’s because users are sometimes the worst judges of what they need.
Perhaps, that’s the difference between Apple and Microsoft laid bare in the marketing and their products. Microsoft listens too hard to too many users and tries to please every one where Apple doesn’t listen to anyone; it’s already perfect you just didn’t realise. The Microsoft adverts aren’t really having much of an effect on my opinion of Windows 7, but they’re better than the wow starts now of Vista. It’s a start.

In the latest part of our bid to convert a Mac user to Windows 7, Chris Brennan compares the adverts of Microsoft and Apple and draws some interesting conclusions

PC

The current Windows 7 advertising campaign can’t fail to have grabbed your attention. Essentially, Microsoft is saying that you, the user, designed this latest incarnation of the world’s most popular operating system. They listened to what you wanted and put it in Windows 7.

Does that mean you were responsible for Vista too I wonder? Could an advertising campaign convince me to switch?

The I’m a PC campaign was launched in 2008 in response to the I’m a Mac advertising campaign, which believe it or not started way back in 2006. I have never liked the I’m a Mac campaign as at its heart is a childish message: you’re not me and I’m better than you so ner.

(more…)

Posted in: Windows 7

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Why all the fuss over Windows Explorer?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

The Finder on the Mac seems much maligned by many Windows users and I have to admit I’m not sure why. Since using Windows 7 I’ve found the methods of storing and finding files much the same. The finder and explorer windows look strikingly similar and can be viewed in much the same way.
After using the windows explorer I’m not really convinced it’s necessarily better than the finder, but as I’ve already said that may well be because I’m more used to the Mac way of doing things. I have to admit that the smart folders of OSX are a much better solution than libraries in Windows 7. Unless I’m missing something (and there’s a rather large chance I am) they’re not as flexible. I have a smart folder on my Mac desktop that has all the .jpg files I’ve opened in the last month and one that has all the PDF files with Invoice in the name that are created between April 2009 and 10. As far as I can tell I can’t have a library that does the same. If I’m wrong I’m sure you’ll point it out in the comments.
The search box in windows explorer seems much slower than the results provided by the search box in the start menu, which doesn’t seem right. For instance, if I go to the start menu and type editor@pcpro I get all the most recent emails I’ve sent to Tim and documents that contain that address almost instantaneously, If I do the same with the search box in windows explorer the search takes much longer. The two search boxes should surely be equal surely?
There are some elements of Windows 7 that really don’t make any sense to me at all. The control panel window, in my setup at least, has 51 separate entries. A couple of those are for installations I’ve performed: QuickTime and MobileMe. However, that still makes for a window that has 49 items. Obviously, Microsoft has thought about this and come up with the category view, but  I’m not sure it truly makes things clearer for the user. There’s inconsistency too, when you click any of the control panel items – some open a new window, some take you forward like a browser would and finally some take you to a different style of window altogether. I also received a number of ‘The page failed to load’ errors when clicking the various control panels. This, I’m going to guess isn’t indicative of normal service, but it hasn’t made my experience in this area a particularly positive one.
I’d be the first to say that my problems with explorer are mostly trivial rather than serious concerns, but the deeper I go into the Windows system the more I find that feels odd to me. Perhaps, I’ve become so ingrained to the Mac way of doing things that I’ve grown accustomed to the inconsistencies of that OS, but that doesn’t mean that Windows 7 doesn’t have it’s share of weird and not so wonderful design flaws.

In the latest part of our bid to convert a Mac user to Windows 7, Chris Brennan compares Finder to Explorer and wonders what all the fuss is about

Windows Explorer

The Finder on the Mac seems much maligned by many Windows users and I have to admit I’m not sure why. Since using Windows 7 I’ve found the methods of storing and finding files much the same. The Finder and Explorer windows look strikingly similar and can be viewed in much the same way.

After using the Windows Explorer I’m not really convinced it’s necessarily better than the Finder, but as I’ve already said that may well be because I’m more used to the Mac way of doing things. I have to admit that the smart folders of OSX are a much better solution than libraries in Windows 7. Unless I’m missing something (and there’s a rather large chance I am) they’re not as flexible.

(more…)

Where are the killer apps for Windows?

Friday, November 6th, 2009

In the latest part of our bid to convert a Mac user to Windows 7, Chris Brennan wonders where all the brilliant Windows-only apps are hiding?

Windows 7 apps

One of the things you need as a Mac user is patience. Patience with PC users who think you’re an idiot. Patience with IT help desks that don’t know anything about Macs, despite claims they support them. Patience with software developers who don’t have Mac versions of their products.

Actually, that last one isn’t true, as despite the numerous and seemingly never-ending claims that the Mac doesn’t have the necessary applications, I’m still to find a Windows application that can’t be matched on the Mac.

On my Mac I use Microsoft Office with Adobe Photoshop. I have Skype, Firefox, TweetDeck and iTunes, and this PC I’m working on now is capable of running all of those applications too. So, I’m wondering what are all these applications that the PC has that my Mac doesn’t? It’s supposed to be one of the major benefits to having a PC, isn’t it? Plenty of people in the comments on this blogs have cited it as a reason they use PCs over Macs.

(more…)

Why Windows 7 has forced me to worry about security

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

In the latest part of our experiment to convert a Mac user to Windows 7, Chris Brennan hits a security roadblock.

Microsoft Security Essentials

I’ve had my first major concern with Windows 7, and it all stems from a news story that appeared  on this very site yesterday. Apparently, Windows 7 is susceptible to eight out of ten new viruses. This is something I rarely have to worry about on the Mac. No one is likely to write a virus that affects only 4% of the computing world.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim that bad things can’t happen to a Mac.  It’s just not a major worry. I have the firewall turned on and I don’t open suspect attachments from people I don’t know, but that’s as far as it goes. So the news that even the latest and greatest Microsoft OS is still at risk from hackers leaves me a little uneasy.

(more…)

Posted in: Windows 7

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