iPad Compatible Keyboards

The overwhelming popularity of Apples tablet has led to an explosion of iPad accessories to get the most out of your tablet computing experience. After the iPads initial launch there was a dearth of add-ons as manufacturers - and even Apple struggled to ramp up production of gadgets designed explicitly for this new product.

Built-in wireless capabilities, and the roaming nature of a tablet computer in daily use, give consumers that freedom to roam. Perhaps most popular are wireless headsets or Bluetooth speakers for iPad to allow audio and music enjoyment unencumbered by a tangle of wires. With high-quality A2DP audio streaming support, full-range stereo audio is possible. Standalone wireless portable speakers are ideal for on-the-go, or iPad speaker dock stations which also combine sync and charging may be a great home or office solution.

For those who do content creation - the addition of an
Apple iPad keyboard is desirable and in particular - there are iPad carry cases that also thoughtfully bundle in a Bluetooth keyboard for iPad as an all-in-one device.

Lastly, lets not forget printing. Apple's support of AirPrint technology has enabled select models of HP printers for iPad to let you get hard copy output wirelessly. With direct AirPrint compatibility introduced in iOS4, you can avoid some of the hacks needed to support printing with ease. All just the tip of the iceberg to a great range of iPad gadgets that will unleash even more of the tablet's abilities.

Frankly a lot of people get frustrated using the iPhone OS's onscreen interface for keyboard input. As with the iPhone and iPod Touch - some users will opt for an external
Apple iPad compatible keyboard for their tablet giving them faster input and typing accuracy. You can use any Bluetooth keyboard for an iPad that you want. Wish that was true for a mouse but the iPad does not recognize any form of pointing device (as of this writing).


Apple Airport Antenna Booster Help

The Apple Airport Extreme is one of my favorite wireless routers or internet access points. I've used many different brands over the years but I like the AE for three major reasons…
  1. The Airport Extreme is very easy to configure and maintain or modify.
  2. The signal strength is one of the best of all the boxes I've used. So much so that in most cases, when a client tells me they are having trouble with signal strength from their current box, I usually suggest an Extreme and the problem is often solved. and
  3. Airport Extremes have a USB port that allows for easy service expansion. It's very easy to add a printer or an external hard drive at a later date to enhance the capabilities of your network.

Improving Signal Strength
So, what about those times when the range or signal strength of the Airport extreme could use a boost? As mentioned in an earlier post where I discuss an Airport booster antenna, there are a few more solutions that could easily help you bump that signal strength up a notch or two.

Location Matters
The first thing you can do is understand where you've placed your Airport and see if there's something that might be interfering with the unit's operation. Small details like being placed in a closet or behind a thick masonry wall can have a huge effect on its performance. Is the unit centrally located or is it in a lower level toward one end of a building?

Often moving the unit into an open space and/or centrally locating it will help. Or maybe moving it closer to the place you need the signal.

A client called one day to say he was having trouble with his signal after moving his home office to a new location… Seemed that when he first set his office up, it was in an alcove inside his bedroom. Within the room was a cable hookup and that was where the modem and Airport Extreme were installed. Now his office was in a spare room on the other end of the house. It just happened that there was a cable outlet in an adjacent room so all we had to do was relocate the modem and Airport and the problem was solved.

You might consider moving the the airport to a higher level or even mounting it vertically.

Here's what I mean… The airport extreme is just another object. And like other objects around us in our homes, we tend to keep them at a level that is convenient for us to use. Therefore all these objects would naturally be at about the same level. Every time a radio signal has to pass thru an object, it degrades slightly. If a bunch of objects are sitting between your Airport Express and your computer, it stands to reason that degradation would ensue.
image of bracket used to mount an apple airport extreme onto the wall to improve performance
I'm therefore suggesting that you try mounting the AE closer to the ceiling. Try holding it there and ask an assistant to see if that helps. If it does, then all you need is an Airport Bracket to solve your signal woes.

Make It Bigger
You could also extend the Airport network with another Airport Extreme or an Airport Express. Clicking on either of those links will take you to my review of each of those devices.

As mentioned earlier, the Airport Extreme is incredibly easy to configure or re-configure using the software application already on your Mac (Airport Utility). You'll find this app in the 'Utilities' sub-folder that's nested within the 'Applications' folder.

Think of the Airport signal as a bubble. By adding an additional device, you're in essence increasing the size of the bubble. Expanding your wireless network is pretty easy. You can use my favorite tutorial on How to Extend your Wireless Network with an Airport Express. I printed this out and carry it with me to use at clients homes when I need to extend their wireless airport networks.

While that tutorial explains how to expand a network using an airport express, the same procedure can be used if you want to use another airport extreme as well.

Add An Antenna
And finally you may want to add a booster antenna to your airport extreme. Early models of the AE came with an external antenna connection port. The newer and most recent models no longer have this port. It's still possible to add an external to an airport that doesn't have a port but it involves opening up the airport extreme case and reconnecting antenna leads. I don't recommend doing this as it voids the warranty. If on the other hand you are comfortable around electronic devices and your unit is out of warranty, visit this link for instructions on how to attach an external antenna to an Airport Base Station and click on the drop-down menu at the bottom of the page titled 'Installation Instructions.

Yahoo Messenger 3.0 for Mac -
NO Big Deal

Yahoo announced the release of Yahoo Messenger 3.0 for the Mac yesterday...

BIG FRICKEN DEAL!! Who the hell even cares anymore?

Do I sound sarcastic? You bet I do. Yahoo has always treated the Mac user community as red headed stepchildren when it came to Messenger support. Hell, just look at the release numbers to get a clue - 10.0 for windows, 3.0 for Macs.

I left Yahoo long time ago cause of their poor support. It was a painful loss too because the one thing I always liked about Messenger versus iChat was that you could leave messages for your buddies even if they weren't logged in.

Then that benefit was negated when spam grew to such a huge problem that every time you signed on your window filled with a hundred tabs or more of crap messages for people you had no idea who they were.

Since that time iChat has improved significantly and in my opinion, leapfrogged ahead of all the other chat applications. Apple uses the AIM protocols so its possible to chat with everyone now, and in addition, they've added the ability to leave messages for folks that aren't signed in - BUT only if those people are on your buddy list. NO MORE spam. It was a stroke of genius.

Another great feature of iChat is that since the release of Leopard (10.5), you have the ability to share your screen with other Leopard (and now Snow Leopard) users. This one feature is unbelievable - just ask any of my clients that I have where we use it for remote support...

Why anyone would waste their time on Yahoo Messenger is beyond me. Get iChat instead and leave those fools to their crappy product. The only good thing I can say about it is that Yahoo Messenger is free... And in this case, you get exactly what you pay for - NOTHING!

New Organizing Tool for the Mac

It not often that a tool comes along that revolutionizes the way we work, but the Livescribe Pulse Smart Pen may just be doing that.

Smartpens have been around for quite some time, but none of them have come up with the concept and method of integration that Livescribe has. This approach is so intuitive - it just works the way we humans do.

This is a MUST HAVE tool for anyone that takes notes. I can't think of a single person that wouldn't benefit from the use of this smartpen. This is especially true for anyone that transcribes their notes and then shares those notes with others.

I'll admit that I tend to be a gadget junkie, but I seldom jump on the bandwagon just for the sake of gadgetry - they must work and fit a need in order for me to come onboard.

Watch the video and see if you can stop yourself from getting one of these for yourself. All of a sudden, things just got a whole lot simpler.

Shop today for your very own LiveScribe Smart Pen and LiveScribe Accessories.

Note: The authors of this video have taken a 'Tongue-in-Cheek' means of presenting the facts. They poke fun at themselves and I think thats a great way of demonstrating a product that should come as second nature to us.


Should You Upgrade to Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6)?

Should you upgrade your Mac to OSX 10.6 - otherwise known as Snow Leopard?
I've been asked that a lot by my clients and I want to provide some guidance with the issue of this blog post.

Normally I encourage my clients to apply any update that comes through as they usually fix issues that need to be addressed. However, a couple of the past updates (10.5.6 & 10.5.7), have actually caused more problems than they fixed. These have all been eliminated by the 10.5.8 update, but let's just say I've become a bit gun shy to suggest doing any updates that comes along since. I like to follow the Apple forums and think tanks to see if an update is better off left undone - at least in the first few days.

Having adopted this philosophy, I have been advising my clients to hold off on this Snow Leopard update. Especially given the fact that this update is considered more of a maintenance upgrade than one that would bring new features to the table.

Having said that though, it's important to know that this update, while not feature rich on the surface, has undergone a huge change under the hood. With this update, support for the PowerPC processor has been dropped. If you own a Mac with a PowerPC CPU, you will not be able to apply this update. That's what makes this upgrade so dramatic.

Note: [To find out what type of processor you have, just go up to the apple menu in the upper left hand corner of your screen and click your mouse. Drop down and select the menu item "About This Mac". The window that pops up will tell you the type of processor you have in your machine.]

Starting with Snow Leopard, only Intel processors are being supported. OSX 10.6 has been stripped of all branch logic used to control both the Intel and PowerPC processors. With prior operating systems, every time your computer needed to perform a function, first it had to determine what type of processor it was dealing with and then perform the instructions unique to that processor.

As you might imagine, this decision making process caused delays, introduced possible places for bugs to occur, and made the operating system take up a lot of space on your computer.

With the elimination of branch logic code in this new OS, things are suppose to work faster and take up less space. The operating system should be easier to maintain and improve upon as well because it won't be necessary to write two different pieces of machine instructions (code) for both types of processors.

I completely agree with the theory here but as I said, was just a bit apprehensive to jump into the deep end of the pool without first finding out if there were any sharks in the water.

So now that the new version of Leopard has been out for almost a week now, I have to say that Apple has done a remarkable job of creating a new operating system release. I've been following a number of high profile forums and blogs and this upgrade seems to be doing very well with very few problems. Those issues that have surfaced are very rare and most users should not experience any real calamities.

In addition, you should see some added speed improvements and you should also see some recovery of disk space as the new operating system takes up less of your hard drive.

As I mentioned earlier, if you have a PowerPC based Mac, this update will not work for you and you will have to stay at 10.5.x until you decide to purchase a new machine. Those of you on an Intel machine can feel free to upgrade if you want, but there again, it's not absolutely necessary as you will not gain any significant features.

The only reason I see to upgrade at this time is to gain some speed improvements, recover a bit of disk space, and poise yourself for the next round of improvements. Another good reason is that Apple has made the pain of upgrading pretty insignificant - the charge is only $29 which is amazingly cheap. In fact, Amazon.com has even gone one better. They have reduced the price to only $25 and included free shipping if you are willing to wait for normal speed shipping. This is a fantastic offer and you can learn more about it by click on the following link:

Snow Leopard Update Offer

So to answer the question posed at the beginning of this post: "Should You Upgrade to Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6)?" My answer is YES!!