Category Archives: iPad

What I Did to Migrate from MobileMe to iCloud

I migrated from MobileMe to iCloud last weekend and have lived to tell the tale. I’ve waited three days before posting just to see if something would go terribly wrong. But so far, so good. Just wanted to let you know what I did to get here in iCloud.

What is iCloud Again? iCloud is a whole new architecture for providing services to Apple devices from the cloud. In its first iteration, it supports email, photos, contacts, calendar, Find my iPhone and syncing iWork documents and other documents from iOS apps that adhere to its protocols in their construction. As a longtime computer professional, I was cautious about migrating to iCloud. [Wikipedia, Apple]

I have 3 Macs (2 MacBook Airs and an iMac running OS X Lion) and 3 iOS devices (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S and iPad 2). I also have used MobileMe for years and have used that data and done some syncing from my Macs and iOS devices to MobileMe.

I was concerned that the migration to MobileMe might get mixed up somewhere and cause me to either lose data or end up with a lot of duplicate contacts or calendar entries or even a little of both. So far as I can tell that hasn’t happened.

I have 2 Apple IDs. I have the Apple ID I got with MobileMe which is an email address I use and I have a different email address as an Apple ID I use to make iTunes and App store purchases. I was concerned what would happen with that. Would that be a problem?

I purchased the eBook Take Control of iCloud from tidbits.com and read everything in the introductory chapters plus the setup chapters and anything that pertained to MobileMe. This book goes out of its way to make sure you are aware of every gotcha that might occur and coaches you to take precautions necessary to avoid them. This emphasis on gotchas doesn’t make the book the most fun read, but it seems to have served its purpose.

I did 4 main things to get my Macs ready for Migration to iCloud:

  1. On every Mac, I made sure my software was up to date (your Macs need to be running OS X Lion 10.7.2 or later for them to be fully iCloud compatible — you can still use iCloud without Lion but it is probably better to wait). This was easy because I was already on Lion on these Macs.
  2. I backed up these iCloud related data sets: my Mail folder, my Safari bookmarks, my Calendars and Contacts. There is an Export command in Safari, iCal and Address Book. This takes very little time for each Mac except your Mail folder which is in the Library folder of your Home folder might be large and take a while to backup.
  3. I backed up all my Macs with SuperDuper. I use SuperDuper and its Smart backup option so that tends to take a couple hours per Mac.

Then I got my iOS devices ready in two steps:

  1. On every iOS device, I made sure I was on iOS 5.1 the latest versionI checked and I was already on 5.1 on all of my devices.
  2. I connected each iOS device to the Mac I have synced to and unchecked all syncing options under Information. The reason you want to do this is that you can run into a problem if syncing is set to be done both to your computer and to iCloud and it can generate a lot of duplicates. I had to apply the changes which triggered a full backup and upload of purchases and all the rest. Each of these took an hour or so. It might have taken less time but I hadn’t done this syncing in quite some time.

I was instructed in Take Control of iCloud to do all the migrations of all Macs first and then the iOS devices after. It advised to try to do them all sequentially rather than space this process out over days because you wind up with something weird if some Macs are wanting to use MobileMe and others iCloud.

Sunday night during the Grammies, I started doing migrations to iCloud. That all went pretty fast. I turned on most services but held back calendar and contacts wanting to avoid any chance of problems. I can’t say I got the full entertainment value out of the Grammies though.

I did have one problem in the process which I think is avoidable. After my Macs were migrated to iCloud, I turned on iCloud in my 3 iOS devices. That was OK. I turned on backup to iCloud (knowing I had complete backups on my Mac should they be needed). That was still OK, but then I said Backup Now on all 3 devices at once. I’m not sure that was a good idea. None of the backups finished before I went to bed. The iPad 2 said it would take 48 hours to backup. I let them all run over night with some trepidation.

In the morning, the iPad still had 24 hours to go it said, the iPhone 4S backup had failed and the iPhone 3GS had completed. One out of 3 aint bad maybe with my damn the torpedoes approach. I left the iPad plugged in and idle the rest of the day and it finished by evening. I kept using my iPhone 4S and figured I would try a backup once the iPad had finished. And that’s what I did. All done. From now on, the various devices can be told to backup now at any time but they should be plugged in and idle so overnight is the best time. I don’t plan to run multiple backups at once.

So far I have not seen duplicates in my calendars or contacts. Three days of normal use isn’t a very lengthy testing process. You may want to check back in a couple weeks if you aren’t in a big hurry to see if I’m still just as happy with the migration.

Also, I will either post again or do an update to this post to tell you how iCloud life is going. So far it is kind of invisible in an it just works kind of a way. Hoping that will continue and syncing will become a non-issue from here on out.

There were two big reasons to migrate. First, I wanted to take advantage of some the apps I have that can store their data in iCloud and make that data available seamlessly across my iOS devices and in some cases my Macs. Second, the clock is ticking on that June 2012 deadline when MobileMe will cease to exist.

I hope this will help some of you decide what to do about iCloud and help those of you who take the plunge. I do recommend that Take Control of iCloud book since my descriptions here are pretty cursory.

Why Knowledge Professionals Should Try iBooks Author Now

Independent Knowledge Professionals benefit greatly from writing eBooks. Writing a book puts you on the map as an expert in one stroke. Since you are a knowledge professional, you can also augment your income by selling knowledge products, especially eBooks. A small eBook purchase can be the starting point for a future full-service client. You’ll be writing non-fiction books, the kind that benefit most from graphics, charts and other engaging elements that old-style eBooks don’t provide.

I Thought iBooks Author Was for Textbooks. Not really. Actually, Apple says it is for lots of other kinds of books too. They are just leading with text books right now. Think reports, of the jaw-dropping variety. If you give one of these eBook reports away, you don’t even have to talk to Apple or give them a percentage.  You can post a link to your website or send it in an email.

Ebook Prep Sucks — Until Now. We’ve been stuck with arcane and limited tools to create eBooks. This patchwork quilt of marginal tools has been perfect for eBook prep specialists, but a nightmare for independent knowledge professionals who can’t spend all their spare time fiddling with unwieldy tech. Writing is hard and time-consuming as it is.

Apple’s new iBooks Author solves these problems. It is easy to use and lets you add tables, graphics and widgets to your eBooks. There is a catch in that the eBooks made by iBooks Author require an iPad for display. I’ll explain why that limitation isn’t something that should stop you.

System Requirements for iBooks Author. First the bad news, you need an iPad to display your eBook while it is in progress and you need a Macintosh running OSX Lion. If you already have an iPad and are running Lion, you are set. Otherwise, read on to see if it would be worth your while to upgrade and/or expand your technology now.

Compelling Reasons to Adopt iBooks Author Now. It’s the only end-user eBook creation tool. There are no other options if you want your eBook to look the least bit good short of spending a lot of money for it to be created in InDesign and even then it won’t look that good in the Kindle Format. There’s a new Kindle Format that is supposed to be good for media-rich eBooks, but there’s no creation tool for it yet. Cross that off your list.

Apple has leapt into the void here. If you are writing novels or non-fiction that doesn’t require illustration, you could scrape by using current tools if you could figure or hire them out. But knowledge professionals need to illustrate ideas with visuals. You can open up iBooks Author and start inserting graphics and more in a few minutes. The output on an iPad will be delightful.

Kindlestore vs. iBookstore. Right now Kindle books are the only game in town you say or may have heard. That’s true up to a point but that point of change is now. Even Amazon has started to abandon the lame eBook format (Mobi) they’ve been using and replaced it with what they are calling Kindle 8 which allows for decent graphics and interactivity (see above). Amazon released the Kindle Fire and broke all their own rules about how e-Ink is the best way to read books.

A lot of people compare the Kindle Fire to the Kindle Touch and like the Fire better for books because of the vivid color and responsiveness. I don’t think things will end well for e-Ink devices. They are niche devices in a world that is filling rapidly with full-featured iPhones, Android and Windows phones and iPads.

Ebooks Won’t Stop at Imitating Paper Books. Paper books are wonderful, but as we move to digital, other possibilities emerge that cannot be ignored. For example, iBooks Author lets you add glossary words in your eBooks. You get the most gorgeous glossary (with search) at the back of the book without any additional effort. And, automatically, the reader gets electronic flash cards that allow them to review and test their recall and comprehension. The eBooks you create for the iPad are truly eBooks. They are apps as well as books without you being a programmer — at all!

But, Shouldn’t You Wait and See? Maybe Apple will fall on its face this time. Don’t bet on it. The cost of waiting is that others will be there before you. Early adopters on this Apple juggernaut will be learning things as the technology rolls out. They will be looking tech savvy with eye-popping eBooks they’ve created themselves — running on the most desirable gadgets of our times.

Some technology is a pain and not worth adopting early. But, iBooks Author is made by Apple and is simple and easy. It is designed to be something anyone can pick up and use. I like blogging software like WordPress and recommend it to independent knowledge professionals, but iBooks Author is much more powerful yet as easy as using Pages or Keynote (Word or Powerpoint).

Resources. There is already a $4.99 eBook available that teaches you how to use iBooks Author. The title is iBooks Author: Publishing Your First eBook. The author is Maria Langer, an established tech writer who has written over 50 books. The moment iBooks Author was announced, Maria spent day and night and wrote, edited and prepared the book over a ten day period.

Even if you don’t have an iPad yet, you can check out Maria’s book or eBook and the materials and videos at Apple.com. This first version of Maria’s book is created with traditional tools to get the book in your hands as quickly as possible. She is working on a fancy iBooks 2 version but I recommend getting in on the ground floor now. Don’t wait for the fancy book. I plan to buy the iBooks 2 version for my iPad when it is available, but this chance to get a jumpstart on a new kind of eBook is too good to pass up.

Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch: Best of Both Worlds?

I am fortunate enough to own both a Kindle Fire and a Kindle Touch. In fact, I also currently own a Kindle 4 and a Kindle Keyboard (K3). I expect to shed two of them in the near future, but before I do, I thought I would write up my thoughts.

Reading is one of the essential knowledge functions that every knowledge professional takes seriously. The Kindle Fire is more than a reading device — reading may be a secondary function here, but I doubt it. Does it make sense to carry both a Kindle Fire and a Kindle Touch? Where is each at its best? I’ll talk about e-ink vs lcd screens for long-form reading – what are the trade offs?

iPad vs Kindle Fire

Does it make sense to get a Kindle Fire when you already have an iPad? I have both for the time being. The reasons I went for the Kindle Fire were (1) I thought I would like the 7″ form factor for holding while reading and also for its portability, (2) I’m an Amazon fan and had heard the Fire’s integration with the Amazon store was superior to iTunes,  (3) I was curious about how the other half lived – the Android side of things and (4) it was cheap ($200) to find out. Here’s what I found out.

It doesn’t make sense to buy a Kindle Fire if you have an iPad and like it (unless you share devices in a household). Unless you don’t use all of the features of the iPad and aren’t depending on iPad apps that aren’t available on the Fire (yet). Keep the following in mind in making this decision. One option is to replace your iPad with a Kindle Fire and sell it to those who gladly consider a used iPad.

  • Yes, the integration with Amazon is better than iTunes so it’s easier to browse and access books, music, TV shows and movies. If you love Amazon like I do, that may be enough.
  • However, the Amazon App Store has only 1% of what’s on Apple’s App Store. Lots of really good stuff (Instapaper, Index Card, Flipboard, Zite…) is missing. The selection is thin. This will likely change over time but, as an early adopter, I know it isn’t much fun to wait for something to get popular (developers take time to write apps and currently make more money going the iOS route).
  • The Fire lacks cameras. The 2 iPad cameras don’t add much except video chat.
  • The Fire lacks Bluetooth. This means you can’t use an external keyboard with the Fire which could be a big negative for some. With some driver software, a wired USB keyboard could work.
  • The Fire lacks GPS. This will make map apps less valuable and other local apps such as travel guides and restaurant recommendations.
  • The Fire lacks cellular. Amazon’s promising cloud support remains merely a promise when wi-fi is not available.

The deal breaker for me, though, is that the Kindle Fire isn’t much easier to hold than the iPad. It is easier to hold in one hand. But it is twice the weight and thickness of an e-ink Kindle. It’s a brick, actually. Keep reading, though, there is more to this story.

The Kindle Fire is a great deal for what you get compared to the iPad. The iPad is an excellent, no-compromise tablet and worth $500. But, the Kindle Fire is a better value. It’s a great starter device that you can experiment with, learn on, consume Amazon content from and get basic app functionality out of like taking notes with Evernote. It’s quite a bit smaller, though thicker than I prefer. It also has a few quirks because it was a rush job and Amazon got a deal from the makers of the RIM playbook which allowed them to hit the bargain $199 price point. Other apps that are on the Fire and help make it a reasonable app-using device are: Dropbox, Pulse, AP Mobile, The Weather Channel, Goodreads and the Kindle app itself. Of course there are lots of games if you want to go there. The screen is really good. The operation is simple and while a bit slower to respond to touch than the iPad, you get used to it.

E-Ink vs High-end LCD Screens

Lots has been written about e-ink and its virtues. To sum it up, you get an easy on the eye screen that works really nicely as long as you have good lighting. Outdoors tends to be wonderful. By a window is awesome. The e-ink screen doesn’t refresh all the time. Instead it refreshes when you turn the page. Because of that, the eye enjoys the rest and battery life is much better. This means a great big battery doesn’t need to be put into the e-ink Kindles but does need to be in the Kindle Fire and the iPad and iPhone, et al.. E-ink devices are light and thin and that is a really nice thing when you are reading. Some people buy a case or clip on lamp for their Kindles to get light when they need it since there is no backlight.

The heavier LCD-screen devices need to be set on a table, on your lap. They can’t simply be held up for extended periods unless you are a really strong and large person. So, for long-form reading — books that is — an e-ink device is nice. Except that backlight can be a godsend when the light in the room isn’t good. Second, you get color — really nice color. Your screen can respond really rapidly and be more interactive. When you read books that include lots of pictures like children’s books and textbooks, the LCD-screen devices win.

What if you already have an E-Ink Kindle should you consider the Fire? If you don’t have an iPad and think you might take some advantage of apps, the Kindle Fire has a lot to offer as a compliment to an e-ink Kindle. You are already covered on music with your existing Kindle. But you have more room for music on the Fire and then you have TV, movies, email and web browsing too. When conditions aren’t great for the regular Kindle, the Fire can be used to read in low light and allow you to view books and publications in color.

The Kindle Fire as your only eReader. Is that a good option? This might be an individual decision. First, if it is your only eReader, you don’t have to decide which device to bring with you. That’s nice. With my plethora of mobile devices, it’s difficult… Second, some folks such as Eolake Stobblehouse of eReader Joy prefers LCD to e-ink because of its better contrast and other virtues. I have a preference for e-ink in good lighting conditions and I love the light weight and slender profile of these devices for reading. However, I have a pretty good time reading on the Kindle Fire too. It is nice also, you just have to prop it up on your lap or something after a while.

What about the Kindle Touch vs. Kindle 4 and Kindle Keyboard?

I am going to keep my Kindle Touch and use it when the light is good as a superior dedicated eBook reading device. Reading is important to me. I need to keep up with a lot of reading and a chunk of that is book reading. I also like me a murder mystery from time to time and an occasional classic. Also, you can take the 7 ounce Kindle Touch with you without a strain even if you already have an iPad or Fire in tow.

Is the Kindle Touch better than the Kindle 4? For me I had a good reason to favor the Kindle Touch ($99 wi-fi only). I wanted 3G cellular ($149). I had purchased a Kindle 3 (now the Kindle Keyboard) with wi-fi only after having had a Kindle 2 which is a 3G-only device. I missed the always connected nature of the Kindle 2 so when buying the Kindle Touch I opted to pay a one-time charge of $50 to have lifetime 3G even though the 3G on the Touch doesn’t work for web browsing. I can use my iPhone for web browsing if wi-fi is not an option. I know the screen is small but it is a Retina display and I shuttle things over to Instapaper if I need a better reading experience. The prices for e-ink Kindles are with special offers. You pay $30-40 more to eliminate the ads which you can always do later if they bother you. I don’t mind them.

If you don’t like to highlight and don’t take notes, don’t use text to speech and aren’t all that curious about the new x-ray feature only available on the Kindle Touch, you should get the Kindle 4 for $79. Less is more if you don’t need this extra stuff. The Kindle 4 is lighter (1.5 oz.), smaller (a little bit) and generally delightful. I like all that extra stuff enough to tear myself away from the Kindle 4 which was my main Kindle between September and November when the Touch came out. And, even though the touch experience on the Touch is a bit laggy compared to the iPhone or iPad or even the Kindle Fire, it is touch and I like using my finger, to go straight to the words I want to highlight or selection I want to make.

I am hoping the software for the Touch will improve over the next few months — there are a couple missing features right now actually. You can’t turn the touch sideways to view pages in landscape, for example.

What about the Kindle 3 (aka Kindle Keyboard)? This is a darned good device and is full-featured minus the new touch capability, x-ray only available on some titles and the faster page turns in the Kindle 4 and Fire. You don’t need to upgrade. I did but I’m a technology consultant and have an excuse. The faster page turns feature of the K4 and Kindle Touch comes at the expense of a slight degradation on the screen as you go for a total of 5 page turns without a refresh. The Touch is still a little half-baked and if you are used to using the 5-way controller, it’s not a sure thing you’ll like the touch experience better (yet – maybe with software updates the touch will be the clear winner compared to navigating with the 5-way). Also, the touch doesn’t have page turn buttons. I wish it did (but I haven’t found touching the screen for page turns difficult or problematic in terms of fingerprints).

All of the E-Ink Kindles are Great and the Kindle Fire could stand alone as an eReader. Take your pick. I am not ready to give up e-ink, so I go with both. Also, since I have an iPad, I have a hard time keeping the Fire. I will keep it for now since I’m a technology consultant and like learning a bit more about Android.

7″ iPad

A cheaper 7″ iPad could be amazing. There’s a gap in the 5-7″ space that has invited competition from Samsung, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A 5-7″ iPad would likely be just as fast as the iPad 2 and easier to hold. I imagine it to be an exact copy of the iPad 2, but smaller. It would cost at least $299, I’ll bet. I prefer the traditional form factor of the iPad over the wide-screen Fire which is great for movies but a little awkward for writing since a horizontal keyboard fills the screen leaving little room to see your text.

Kindle Fire 2

The second version of the Kindle Fire will improve markedly. Although there is a rumor of a 10″ Fire, the 7″ size is the one I will follow. The 10″ is already dominated by iPad and I like the 7″ size which will get lighter and thinner gradually. Amazon will be able to hone it like they’ve honed the e-ink Kindles over the generations. Amazon has shown they care about design. And they’ve learned that price matters so Amazon will stay well ahead of Apple in the value department and will likely continue to build out their iTunes-beating cloud-based media services.

That’s it for this year of 2011. See you in the new year! All good tidings.

CEO Steve Jobs Exits – Filling Steve’s Shoes

I am a huge fan of Steve Jobs. He has taken some of the best dreams the computer industry has had and made them real – in fact enhanced them further. He’s made amazing technology available to the Masses. He has delivered on his goal to change the world. And then some.

But now Steve has kicked himself upstairs to the Chairman position where I think he will stay until death do us part. My impressions are that his health is failing and he must cut back severely to stay alive at this point. Barring a miracle, the end is near. So, what happens to Apple with Steve’s role further diminished?

First of all, I don’t see a successor to Steve Jobs anywhere at Apple or not at Apple. At Apple, Steve has been gutsy, bold and tireless. He has been idealistic but practical and committed enough to actually fulfill on those ideals. That’s a great human to emulate. He has also been a flag bearer for a vision of technology + art and humanities.

The problem for us, not so much for Apple, is that some of the things we’ve loved about Apple products may be diluted as Steve’s influence subsides. Values like excellence, aesthetics, design, minimalism and innovation may suffer without their strongest exponent – how could they not? Although a great man in his own right, Jony Ive isn’t going to be able to champion these values as well as Steve has done. If there is one more thing for Steve to do, it is to find that someone that can fill the gaps he will leave at Apple. All the other pieces are there right now. Apple is unstoppable – short term.

The Steve-sized hole I see at the future Apple is in these intangibles — we need an insanely great advocate who can go against the temptations to play it safe. For example, minimalism a la Dieter Rams’ ten principles, is bold. It is placing your bets and going for it. You don’t get little failures that way, you get big ones when things don’t go as planned.

When push comes to shove, Steve would stand in the fire and find that bold place. He has kept calling for redoes of various products well past the point anyone I’ve heard of would just say, we’re done. That’s a print!

But Steve was not cavalier or reckless. Look at that cash stronghold Apple’s got. Far from it. Steve has just been unwavering in his vision and commitment – and it paid off. Two of Steve’s greatest talents have been to (1) find and hire awesome people to work at Apple and (2) to inspire and cajole those talented people to work in tandem to accomplish great things. I would think a big part of the draw at Apple is to have this opportunity to change the world and work on cutting edge products. These people are still there and they are there not just for Steve.

We have the incredible people. We have a Steve-shaped hole that is only partially grown. I want Tim Cook at the helm right now. Stay there, Tim. Short term, I would like to see a CEO-wannabe arty, design kind of person developed within Apple’s midst or hired from outside (there are probably 10 of these or more at Apple right now) and brought onto the executive team asap. Maybe this person just helps make up for the hole. He or she doesn’t have to be CEO necessarily. But this person needs to make it easy for Jony to keep doing his thing at the level he’s been doing it.

My Stevie J man or woman would need to be a leader. Would probably need a pretty great track record. How do you fill this hole? As they say, though, when one door closes another door opens. Our whole world has learned from what Steve and Apple have wrought. For all I know, generations will be affected by these values. There are an awful lot of Apple fans. Look at China’s adoption of the iPad of late.

Don’t in any way consider this to be a negative opinion on Apple’s short term prospects. How can they lose? I’m hoping MG Siegler’s idea about Steve’s One More Thing comes true this fall. And, no one has written better and more insightfully about all this than Jean-Louise Gassée in his recent Monday Note: Who’s Going to Protect Us from Cheap and Mediocre Now?