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Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Net has been buzzing with Steve Jobs’ resignation, and through this I’ve had the privilege to read many great articles by many great writers centering around a similar topic — their love and respect for Steve Jobs.

Not wanting any of TOOZE’s readers to miss out on them, here’s a rundown of some of the best writings I’ve come across thus far. This list is far from complete, nor exhaustive as I might have just missed out some others.

More than the articles themselves, I hope we can all learn a thing or two from the big guy himself as these writers reflect on their experiences with him. All links to the articles are in the headers.

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Steve Jobs’ resignation letter

Tim Cook’s staff letter to employees after being CEO

Steve Jobs’ timeline at Apple

Agam Shah (PCWorld) ran a great summary of Steve Jobs’ time at Apple, all the way from 1971.

Recalling how Steve Jobs changed Apple

Chris Rawson (TUAW) did an recollection of the products that came out of the doors of Apple, and it’s amazing to see how the products matured and changed over time as Steve Jobs himself and Apple matured and grew.

5 products Steve Jobs killed

Steve Jobs is known to say no, and as a case in point, Casey Johnston (Ars Technica) wrote about 5 products that never saw the light of day under Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs in magazine covers

Ryan Lawler (GigaOM) did a compliation of how Steve Jobs looked through the years as shown in magazine covers. Nice!

Steve Jobs does not make all the decisions

Tom Reestman recounted a conversation Steve Jobs had with Walt Mossberg about decision making in Apple, and it’s really telling how despite popular belief, Steve Jobs do not call the shots there.

It reminds me of how I felt that Apple is Steve Jobs’ greatest gift to the world, not because he controlled it, but because he grew it to be far greater than himself, filled with great people with the simple vision of creating insanely great products.

It’s a fantastic look into his role as CEO, and probably telling of his future role as Chairman of the Board.

Steve Jobs greatest product?

Shawn Blanc calls it culture.

Brilliant tribute to Steve Jobs

Joseph Tame took two iPhones and ran 21 km to create an Apple logo. This has to be the most brilliant and innovative tribute ever.

Steve Jobs’s fierce life and legacy

Galen Gruman (MacWorld) wrote of his experience with Steve Jobs, and covers a little history about the Mac, and Steve Jobs’ exit and return. Once again, the idea that Steve Jobs is solely responsible for every decision in Apple is debunked. I quote:

People typically believe that Jobs does everything at Apple, but that’s not the case. He has had an amazingly strong set of executives, to whom he delegates significant power and responsibility. The two that matter the most are Jonathan Ive, the company’s chief designer, and Tim Cook, the man who makes Apple work like a precision machine in its manufacturing, retail, and online spheres.

A story about Steve Jobs’ fanatical attention to details

Paul Noglows (Business Insider) recounted an experience with Steve Jobs which highlighted his fanatical attention to details. I quote:

… that his attention to detail rivals that of the most focused nuclear engineer, “You usually see the capacity in a chief executive for one or the other–thinking in revolutionary broad strokes or the ability to laser focus on the seemingly most insignificant minutia,” Greg notes. “But Steve is an almost singular example with an amazing capacity to do both.

Why Steve Jobs returned after being dismissed from the company he created

Jonathan Berger was an intern with Apple in 2000, and then he asked Steve Jobs why he came back after being dismissed from the company he created. Jobs’ answer is a must read, and a lesson to us all who profess to care about anything.

Jobsian leadership

When Steve Jobs gave away applause.

PCWorld complies quotes by Steve Jobs

Gizmodo also complied quotes

One more thing…

MG Siegler (TechCrunch) has been one of my favorite writers on all things Apple, and naturally one would expect him to write about Jobs’ resignation. And he did. And it’s a lovely reflective piece with a brilliant title.

As a primer, here’s something I’ve been quoting time and again:

Apple is a testament to the idea that “little things matter”. Users may not consciously notice all the tiny bits of attention to detail they encounter in Apple products throughout a day, but it is what endears them to these products. It’s why when you pick up a competing product, it just doesn’t feel right even though the specs may be the same, and it may even look the same.

It’s also why people who don’t use Apple products don’t understand what all the fuss is about. The fuss is about all of the fuss put into making sure every pixel is exactly where it should be on every screen, in every program, all the time.

You’ve probably heard that Steve Jobs quit his job as CEO of Apple Inc. already.

Being the Apple fanboy that I am, I really thought that I should write something about it, but I got stuck. So I went ahead and wrote about my experience with Apple products, and suddenly I felt like I knew what was Steve Jobs’ greatest gift to the world and us.

Steve Jobs’ greatest gift to the world is Apple herself — her staff, her culture, her vision.

Sure, we all know that Steve Jobs was one of the founders of Apple, but that hardly was a gift, because at that time, no Steve = no Apple. Over the years after his return, he transformed the music and consumer electronics industry through Apple, but more importantly he transformed Apple to grow beyond him.

All the products that have left the doors of Cupertino bear the mark of Steve Jobs, but none screams of his identity — there’s no hogging of the limelight or him saying ‘all thanks to me’. No. It was just Apple, and he, as part of Apple, created magic with the rest of Apple and changed the world.

I have no doubt that Apple will continue to grow and I look forward to many good years ahead with Apple.

To Steve Jobs, thank you for this gift and best wishes.

p.s. As an aside, I am now a proud owner of three AAPL shares.

 

Using OmniFocus as a note-taking app

J. Eddie Smith, IV wrote an article about using OmniFocus as his primary note-taking app on his iPhone. Personally, I use Simplenote a lot more and only on occasion OmniFocus as a note-taking app. However, one thing about Smith’s argument stands out to me:

This is really a message about the power of inbox unification. I’ve always been a believer in minimizing the number of inboxes I have to juggle. The inbox in OmniFocus is one of the best all-purpose inboxes I’ve ever had the pleasure of juggling.

And that’s really key, because I have notes in Simplenote and yet another inbox in OmniFocus. Streamlining down to one helps me to not lose materials or juggle between two.

Do check out his article for more arguments and examples of how he use OmniFocus in this aspect. It’s a great read. Link in header.

Even if you don’t use OmniFocus (yes I know it’s pricy but I love it), it’s still a great read because it’d prompt you to think about how you can minimize the number of entry points. In Smith’s words:

It’s become an efficient single point of entry for nearly everything in my electronic information ecosystem that doesn’t come from email. Even if you don’t use OmniFocus, you might want to think about how you can create a common funnel for the mixed bag of information you invite into your ecosystem.

Sony Vaio Z review

Gizmodo posted their review of the laptop, and it looks to be pretty good except for the tiny trackpad and price. I quote:

The Vaio Z is proof that Sony can still do some things very right. But for everything this computer does well (which is a lot!), I just can’t get over the damn trackpad. Maybe if you have hobbit hands it’ll suit you, but I just wanted to cut my fingers off at the end of the day. That said, if you have a couple of money stacks to throw around and want a PC that combines size, speed and utility in a generally well-conceived way, the Vaio Z is a fine machine.

Link in header.

Adults playing online games

Oatmeal published a cartoon about how it’s like to play online games as a grown-up, and man did it resonate with me!

Link in header.

 

Dropbox updates Lion computability

If you’ve upgraded to OS X Lion for your Mac, you’d probably realize that Dropbox doesn’t seem to work very well, in that the iconic green status icons are missing. Well, Dropbox has released an update and it’s a manual download (bummer). Nevertheless go get it!

Dropbox before update

Dropbox folder before update

Dropbox after update

Dropbox folder after 1.1.40 upgrade. Notice that the green ticks have returned

Link in header.

Web.AppStorm writes about the top Web apps that their staff can’t live without

I’m a huge fan of Web apps for the following reasons (there’s more but I’d stick to 3):

  • they are usually free with paid (usually tiered) upgrades to fit my needs
  • they are always updated (no need to download or buy new versions)
  • they are easy to share and allow for great collaboration

And some apps I’ve been using are Instapaper, Dropbox, Popplet and Sliderocket. So check out their list and see if there’s something for you to use and improve your productivity!

Link in header.

Cheap printers are a bad idea

PCWorld published an article about why cheap printers are best to be avoided. A great read for those looking to pick up yet another printer (and trolley) at the upcoming IT fair (or whatever it’s called) in Singapore.

Link in header.

Scott Adams’ phone reviews

Scott Adams was approached by the Windows Phone team to test their phone after he complained about his iPhone 3GS and Android phone. So the challenge was for him to use a Windows Phone and if he didn’t like it, they’d donate $1000 to a charity of his choice.

Link to his review in the header.

It’s a great read, though one must bear in mind its context (which Adams painstakingly tried to remind readers) in judging for one’s self.

Interestingly though, he didn’t explicitly mention if the charity of his choice got the $1000.

Here’a an update for the review* I did of 4 iPhone expense tracker apps a while ago.

1. Versions

I realized that to do justice to the apps, I needed to include the versions I’ve reviewed, so here they are:

Saver — 1.0
BudgetCare — 2.0.1
MoneyBook — 2.5
Expenditure — 1.1.2

This is because some changes/improvements to the apps might have occurred since the post, and I want to set a context for my review, lest I give a wrong impression of the apps. Hence, if readers read the review and find that the version number has changed, it would then be wise to compare my review with the change log and see the improvements.

This would apply to any review done by anyone. I’d go so far as to say that if there is no way to ascertain the version in question, then the review is moot because it might not be the version you are paying for.

2. Budget setup

For all the 4 apps, there is no need to setup a budget in order to start tracking your expenses. The only downside is that you cannot see a balance (because there’s nothing to compare to!)

3. Search

Sometimes you’d just want to check how much you spent on that dress but there’s too much data to sieve through. Of the 4 apps, only BudgetCare and Saver allow for searching of individual expenses.

4. Recurring expenses

Recurring expenses are available for all apps except Saver, and BudgetCare has a nice touch of reminding you about future expenses via notifications.

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After writing the original review, I stuck around playing with the various apps and went back to MoneyBook eventually for its familiarity and robustness.

Then I realized that I had a fifth app to test out on.

Numbers by Apple. [Update: $9.99]

At this time of writing, it’s at version 1.4 and an universal app, meaning that it runs on both the iPhone and iPad natively. For those who are unfamiliar, Numbers is the Excel of Apple, and though I’m not doing justice to either by making a parallel, it’s the most effective in terms of introductions.

I’m not doing an Excel vs Numbers post here, but rather exploring the option of using Numbers as an expense tracker, especially since we have Numbers on the iPhone and iPad.

And it works pretty darn well.

Going by my original review criteria of setup, creating entires and reviewing, here’s how Numbers stack up.

a. Setup

Setup is a pain compared to the rest, simply because Numbers is not an expense tracker app but a spreadsheet app. What I did was to take the budget template and tweak it a little to fit my needs. It wasn’t immediately obvious how I could edit it, but after a while I had it fully customized.

And that is the power of Numbers — customizability. I could have as many graphs or categories I want, and as many budgets as I want. For the latter, none of the apps allowed multiple budgets, and multiple budgets is pretty useful if you want to well, budget.

There is a downside to Numbers though. Remember that it’s a spreadsheet app and so if I were to key in all my transactions it would soon be too cluttered. So what I did was to create a spreadsheet for each month of transactions by duplicating the previous month’s and removing all entries. It’s not pretty and soon I’d have too many spreadsheets, but for now it’s still managable. A potential workaround would be to keep the current month’s spreadsheet in my device, and store the rest on my computer for reference.

b. Creating entries

It’s hardly elegant in that I have to double tap on a cell to bring up the virtual keyboard, and there’s no way to quickly add in categories except by copy-pasting. In comparison, it’s terribly cumbersome.

IMG 0191

Expense tracking in Numbers (iPad) for the month of Aug-Sep

c. Reviewing

I think in terms of reviewing, Numbers trump all the rest, simply because I can make it look exactly the way I want it to. And there’s no tabbing or multiple windows. It’s just all there. This is where the pain of customizing pays off.

Conclusion

Numbers is not meant to be a expense tracker app but I’m using it as one, and in some ways it is more powerful; in many others cumbersome. Should you buy it just for this purpose? Never! However, if you are considering Numbers already or have it, give it a shot as an expense tracker before sinking in the cash for the rest.

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*My original review of the 4 apps can be found here.

Some of you might have already switched over to OS X Lion, while some are still waiting.

Nevertheless, it’s always interesting to consider the following question: should I reformat my computer?

And it’s not just a Mac question; when Windows 7 was released, they (as in Microsoft) touted the following*:

Upgrading is the most convenient way to get Windows 7 on your computer, because it keeps your files, settings, and programs from Windows Vista in place.

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Those who followed my article on upgrading to OS X Lion would know that I’m a huge proponent of doing a clean install; so is XY.

In fact, when Shawn Blanc** shared what Garrett Murrary experienced, I made a note to share it.

It’s a little late, but still relevant.

In summary, Garrett hasn’t done a fresh install (meaning reformat the hard disk before installing the OS) since OS X Tiger in 2005, and with that, done 2 upgrades (from Tiger to Leopard and then to Snow Leopard).

And when he finally did (there’s a story to it in the article), this is what he found:

  • 215 apps in my Applications folder, over 140 of which I hadn’t used in as long as I could remember
  • 400MB of content in ~/Documents, not a single bit of which was anything I wanted or needed, including five years of iChat transcripts
  • Freelance client work from 2002 (!)
  • 18 PrefPanes, only three of which I had touched in recent memory
  • 26 Login Items, some of which I didn’t even recognize and had to research
  • Three versions of the Apple Developer tools, including Xcode 3, Xcode 4 beta (ugh, seriously?) and Xcode 4
  • A complete user account I used to use for presentations at conferences with random junk all over the desktop

Towards the end of the article, he wrote:

It was a bit painful to start fresh, but the advantages are immediately noticeable. A faster, cleaner machine that’s easier to get work done on.

If you are the same and haven’t done a fresh install, or see the need to, Garrett’s article is a great read for you.

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Garrett’s article can be found here.

*That quote from Microsoft? Check it out here.

**Thanks to Shawn Blanc for posting it up first.

Steve Jobs over the years

Gizmodo ran an article about the fashion of Steve Jobs over the years, including shots of him in his earlier years. No surprise for what he wore since 1998, but the other slides about young Jobs are totally nostalgic.

Link in title for the slides.

Sony Vaio SB Series review

Engadget ran a review for the abovementioned laptop. Need we say more? Just to prime you a little, here’s a little of their summary:

But the VAIO SB is a rare laptop that we’ve been recommending left and right. The price is right for so many people, as is the performance, design and long battery life. This notebook is going to please a lot of people — not just students, but many a mainstream user as well..

Link in title for full review.

Mario in your browser!

Markus “Notch” Persson, he creator of Minecraft ported over a version of Mario over to Java. Robert Kleffner then took the original project and converted the game into a cross-platform HTML5 version, allowing us to play the game anywhere with an Internet connection.

There’s some interesting anecdotes and history behind this project over at the original report by PCWorld, so head over for a read. After you are done, click on the title to enjoy Mario! Do note that the levels are randomly generated so while you can’t master a level, you do get infinite gameplay!

Panasonic DMC-GF3 review

Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com) posted their in-depth review about the said camera, and it looks pretty good to me. It’s a great read, especially if you are considering it, and as a primer, here’s a little of their conclusion:

The GF3 is a satisfying camera to use that is small and light enough to carry around all day.

Link in title for full review.