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Monthly Archives: May 2011

This is how you do it if you are like me and would like to convenience of 3G yet do not want to pay the difference of S$180 for a 3G iPad model. That’s not all the costs though; there’s still the ‘hidden’ costs of using the 3G*.

Disclaimer: This is relevant only if your provider does not charge for tethering.

The iPhone 4 has personal hotspot which allows you to connect via Wi-Fi. The older phones (meaning 3GS and older) are unable to do that, but they can still tether using Bluetooth. Since I am using a 3GS, this tutorial will be focusing on the bluetooth method, but they are esentially the same.

Step 1: Turn on internet tethering (or personal hotspot) in network options

Step 2: Go to Bluetooth and select your iPad

Step 3: Once connected, you should see the blue bar with the words Internet Tethering pop up

Troubleshooting: If you see this, this means your internet tethering option was not turned on, refer to Step 1, make sure you do that first!

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* There’s 3 ways you can get 3G on your iPad. First, you can apply for a new data plan. This is the most expensive, and is not recommended unless you cannot go with the other 2 options. Second, you can apply for Multi SIM. Basically this is a separate SIM card which shares the same number/line and hence data from your main SIM. As per what I knew, Multi SIM with Singtel costs S$10 per month, but it’s not contracted, and S$7 for Starhub. The third option is what DT is doing now, which is to apply for a new number but tie the number to your original data plan. For Singtel, this is cheaper as it only costs S$5 a month, but it is contracted for 24 months.

A friend of mine recently bought a Mac and felt overwhelmed by the difference in platform. This post is dedicated to her and others who are switching.

I searched around the Net, and personally the only guide that doesn’t overwhelm the average user is the guide from Apple. This is the one guide that every switcher must read. The first page itself deals with user interface, then navigation, then some parallels to Windows… It’s a little lengthy but a good read, complete with pictures to help.

After orientating yourself for a while, one would want to dive in and play around. So what’s good to check out? After all, the Mac has to be different, otherwise why bother buying a Mac? For starters, iPhoto is one of the must-see places on the Mac. Apple has put together a great overview of what’s new in the latest iteration of iPhoto, as well as what’s it about. In summary, iPhoto is great for the average shutterbug to dump photos, geo-tag them and tag them according to faces. Next would be iMovie. Similarly to iPhoto, Apple has also put together a page for iMovie (notice how guided the switch is?). In a nutshell, iMovie is the Mac equivalent of Windows Movie Maker, though the usage and outcome is quite… different. If you have had a vacation and would like to show off some clips, do try out iMovie. The third application (which means program) to try out would be Photo Booth. It’s basically an application that turns your computer into, well, a photo booth using the built in FaceTime camera. It’s really quite fun with all its effects; those with kids will love this.

As you play around and go back and forth from the guide, you’d get more comfortable using your Mac. Personally, I took about three weeks to get used (as in comfortable) to my first Mac, and by that I mean that I no longer press the wrong buttons or expect a different behavior than what its supposed to do.

When you are somewhat there, the last thing I’d recommend you to check out is Alfred. It’s a launcher, meaning that it’s a small application that allows you to launch other applications and do other stuff using your keyboard. Yes I know it sounds terribly geeky and redundant; why not use the mouse? But the point is often our hands are on the keyboard, and it’s really convenient to have this. I speak from personal experience because I never used a launcher in my life, but now I almost cannot do without it – though I have to admit I haven’t used all the features; I just use it to launch applications. Do check it out and I recommend installing it via the Mac App Store instead of downloading the file. This way updates are easier to track. Oh. Most importantly? It’s free.

This is a long enough post and I hope it helps someone out there. Drop us a comment/email for more discussion!

Sorry for the lack of updates! My Internet connection went down on Monday and it took me 2 days and many phone calls to get it fixed.

Just as a background, I am currently using SingTel’s Mio fibre broadband bundled with digital voice and TV. As such, all my services are being bundled with the modem. I it’s really my luck that the fibre optical network terminal decided to hang up on me on a public holiday eve, and with it went my TV access in the room, the home telephone line, and most importantly Internet connection.

While bundling sounds great and all, I believe the number one thing when it comes to tech (and probably everything else in life) is not to put all your eyes into a single basket. This exposure to a single service provider has showed me that a glitch at one end would result in many undesirable effects.

And… Digital voice is not such a good idea after all. You lose your fixed phone connection in times of blackouts and network disruptions. I.e. No calling for help in times of emergency. Maybe the cost savings aren’t worth it after all. But then how many of us would argue that who uses fixed lines anymore since almost everyone has 1 or more mobile phones nowadays?

About Dropbox

Let me get it out of the way first: I love my Dropbox.

The experience that drew Dropbox to me was the time when I brought my students’ examination scripts to Starbucks to mark. When I was all ready to start, I realised to my horror that I’ve left the answer key in the office. No sweat. I had previously put the answer key into Dropbox, and that allowed me to access the file via my iPhone. I then continued marking with the answers sitting in my phone. That was over a year ago when I only had my phone and my MacBook Pro as well as the free account.

Fast forward to today. I now have 4 machines running Dropbox: my iMac at home, a MacBook Air that I carry around which acts as my primary machine, an iPad and a iPhone. I’m also paying for the Pro account, which gives me 50 GB of data space and in it I put all my documents, with the exception of my music and videos. Even my photos are up there for me to view on my mobile devices, without taking up space in the latter. Needless to say, I now have all my assessments and worksheets on Dropbox as well.

So what happens is when I’m at work I’d be working on my Air and when I’m home, I just carry on working on the files without the need for emailing or transferring of data via the thumbdrive; Dropbox keeps everything in sync* for me. When I need something that is not on my Air (I do selective sync because it’s only 60 GB), I just access the web version and download the file. Just last week I was away from my Air but had my iPad with me, and we had to check the answer key to my examination script. I fired up Dropbox on my iPad and checked the file right there, without needing to go back to the office to access my laptop.

With most of my data in Dropbox, one might realise that I’m using it as a backup – indeed, it is a backup because I have a copy of the files in my machine and another on the server, with yet another in my Air (selected folders). Furthermore, because everything on my Air is in my Dropbox folder (I mean it), I can just format my Air anytime I want without worry of backup. I’d just erase the disk, install Dropbox and let it sync to get all my data back. In fact, I wanted it to be that way because previously when I wanted to reformat my MacBook Pro (which was my primary computer), I had to spend a lot of time doing backup and transferring of data after reformatting.

For more information, check out web.appstorm’s Ultimate Dropbox Toolkit and Guide, as well as a recent comparison between Dropbox and SpiderOak, another file syncing service that might interest you. Also, Dropbox and JotForm together has allowed one to create forms which is submitted directly to your Dropbox folder!

If you have the habit of saving stuff in your thumbdrive (and use it as your only copy – meaning there’s no backup) or emailing yourself, give Dropbox a spin (there is a free account) and see if it doesn’t simplify life for you.

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Dropbox and security

There’s been a recent hoo-ha about Dropbox:

Dropbox, a provider of cloud-based data storage services, is in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission over claims that it lied and intentionally deceived customers into believing that their data is more private and secure than it really is… PCWorld.

In short, people suddenly realised that Dropbox has access to their files.

Personally, I’m still using Dropbox because the files I’ve put in are not confidential, and I’m really not willing to give up on the convenience. If I’m really worried, what I’d do is to encrypt the data before putting it into Dropbox because then even if they (whoever) got access to the files, they’d have to hack it to view it.

Ben Brooks (and he mentioned encrypting your files before storing it in Dropbox) and Patrick Rhone posted their views on this and I highly recommend reading them. Let me give you a little primer here:

The point is really this: don’t assume the data you store in the cloud is ever only accessible to you, thus don’t store sensitive data in the cloud. Brooks.

The bottom line is that the moment you even have data it is at some level of risk. So the real question is how much risk are you comfortable with? Rhone.

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If you do plan to sign up for Dropbox and want to be nice to me, sign up using this referral link and you’d get 250 MB of space free, and me 500 MB. More info on referrals can be found here.

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*The beauty of Dropbox is that it installs a special folder in your computer which is automatically synced to the server after you’ve set it up (sign in actually – it’s really quite easy). This allows me to just drag and drop files into the folder, without going through the hassle of actually uploading something via clicks and more clicks.

Twitter.

It’s one of those polarizing technology in which you either got it or you don’t. Common Craft did a great 2 min YouTube video about what Twitter is and I encourage you who is wondering what in the bird it is to watch it before continuing.

Done? Now that you have a clearer understanding of Twitter, let’s answer the more important question: so what? In other words, why would I want to use this service? 

The short video already gave a situation where you might want to use to: to follow the lives of your friends; so I won’t go into that. Rather, I’d share my own journey with Twitter.

I have a Twitter account and I tried updating it for a while with the things I’m doing but somehow I couldn’t upkeep it. Nor do I follow a gazillion number of people. It’s because I can’t see how anyone is interested in when I buy something, or if I’m having coffee at Starbucks, nor do I want to know if anyone is picking their nose. You must be thinking this now: it’s Facebook statuses on the go, with the power of choosing which people’s statuses you want to see. Yes it is.

So now my Twitter account is just linked to my personal blog and it serves as a feed to those who follow me. Occasionally (like once a few months) when I feel like it I’d update it with something apart from my blog.

But TOOZE changed that; I suddenly saw a value in Twitter. I wrote a short post about Angry Birds coming to the Web, and about Nikon’s D90 being discontinued. Now, these are not opinion pieces; they are just information that has a time value on it (meaning it’s less valuable as time passes and more people know it). Instead of posting it as a post, I realized I could just tweet it, post the tweet on TOOZE and be done with it. Furthermore, I’m now following a lot of other tech news which allows me the option of retweeting their (news) tweets, saving me time in writing a post, which implies I’d get more time to write something more meaningful.

So Twitter has become a sort of news feed for TOOZE, while the blog remains more of a review/opinion column.

After reading this, you’d probably be asking: ok… so what’s next for me? Well, if you are interested in knowing if your friend bought a new dress, or just painted a masterpiece, and don’t have a way of knowing that real-time or even soon enough, try Twitter between the two of you. If you are interested in following news but don’t subscribe to RSS, you might want to follow the tweets of major news publishers.

Else, you might want to just leave this service alone… until there is a reason to use it or someone important bugs you to do it.

For further readings, check out: Wikipedia, tweeternet, Twitter.

By Nikon Rumors; but it’s from the Nikon site. You can still buy it from retailers who have it in stock though.

In Singapore, a place I’d always recommend for camera equipment is John 3:16 Photo Supplies. It’s not the cheapest though, but cheap enough and their staff is always friendly and willing to share. Need to test out a camera? Just ask them for it and chances are you’d get to try them out almost always. The best part to me is their after sales service (I always send my camera there for cleaning, free, before a major shoot) and also their treatment of customers – as friends instead of money generators. On the latter point, they are even willing to sell something cheaper or recommend not purchasing if they feel it’s not to the benefit of the customers.

Note: I buy all my stuff there but receive no commission for any sales. In fact, this place is almost always consistent with price.

We do no market research. We don’t hire consultants. The only consultants I’ve ever hired in my 10 years is one firm to analyze Gateway’s retail strategy so I would not make some of the same mistakes they made [when launching Apple’s retail stores]. But we never hire consultants, per se. We just want to make great products.

The context is in retail; about the Apple Store but this statement of his underscores the company’s focus on products first, results second. For more quotes, check it out here. (via DF)