A Tablet For Business Users

In a previous post, I discussed my experience setting my iPad up for use at work.  As a result of that experience, I concluded that the iPad is not something many businesses would be able to set up  and save money.  I do believe that there is a need within business for mobile employees to have a tool that is more portable than a laptop.  Something running Windows would certainly integrate into my workday much more easily.  But sadly, the Microsoft camp has been very slow to produce anything with the portability and power that comes even close to the iPad.  Maybe that’s about to change.  There is much talk from Dell, HP and other vendors that they are releasing various tablet platforms, but they have been very slow to release a viable product.  When they do, each and every one is being compared to the iPad and falling very short.

I recently learned of a new “tablet” running Windows 7 called the nPad made by Nexocial.  It is the first Tablet PC, that I have seen, that truly is designed to have the touch screen be the primary source of interaction.  Based on the technical specs, the speed and performance are roughly similar to a normal desktop computer.  I found a demonstration video YouTube that shows the capabilities and performance of the nPad.

As you can see, the performance and responsiveness of the interface appears to be very solid.  Let’s dig into the technical specs.

Continue reading »

Posted in Mobile, System Administration | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

What Does an iPad Really Cost?

My personal opinion on the iPad is that it is not something you buy out of necessity.  Unlike and iPod or iPhone, I don’t think that anyone can sit back and justify the purchase.  The combined features make it compelling, but at a starting price of $499 it is a very expensive eBook reader.  I have been trying to find ways that I could integrate my iPad into my daily work and been marginally successful.  However the integration necessitated the purchase of several additional programs.  I work in IT, so I understand that I may not be the norm, but here is a list of what I needed.

Tool App Price
Email Mail Built In
Calendar – Exchange Calendar Built In
Calendar – Google Calendar Built In
Contacts Contacts Built In
Cisco VPN VPN Built In
Microsoft Word Pages 9.99
Microsoft Excel Numbers 9.99
Microsoft PowerPoint Keynote 9.99
SSH Client iSSH 9.99
Windows Remote WinAdmin 8.99
LogMeIn LogMeIn Ignition 29.99
VNC Mocha VNC Lite Free
FTP FTPOnTheGo 9.99
Printing Print n Share 6.99
PDF Reader GoodReader 0.99
Tasks TaskTask HD 4.99
 

If I count Accessories (Capacitive Pen, Dock, Case), I have spend over $200 trying to make my iPad be more useful at work.  There are plenty of other accessories, like a bluetooth keyboard and TV/VGA adapters on the market.  On the app side it’s just the apps I use;  I’ve been pretty discerning, but there have been a few failures.  Many do not have trial versions, you are entirely dependent on customer feedback and have no options for refunds should the app not work the way you need it to.  I have friends who have spent much more than I have finding the tools that were right for them.

Many of these apps have special requirements like ActiveSync on your mail server or require a level of technical expertise to configure. It’s fair to say that even with all of these additions, I still mostly use my iPad for email and quick fixes when I don’t want to boot my laptop up.

If I were to be asked today if the iPad was something the company I worked for could easily use and was worth the purchase price, I would have to answer with a resounding no.  The iPad is certainly marketed for consumers, not businesses.  While there is an undercurrent of Business Productivity apps on the market, the ability to integrate the iPad into an existing business infrastructure is not easily or inexpensively achieved.

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Pictures & Screenshots on the iPad

There are quite a few photography applications for the iPad in the App Store already.  At first, I wondered why you would want to transfer photos to your computer then sync your iPad to edit them.  If you are at your computer already, why not use the tools you have there.  I was at the Apple Store this weekend wishing I could buy it all and found a really cool accessory for the iPad.  Behold, The Camera Connection Kit; now it all makes sense…

This handy little device lets you connect your camera’s USB cable to the iPad or plug in your SD Card and transfer the pictures to your iPad.  If you take a lot of pictures and want to sort, edit and share while you are away from your computer, this is a necessity (along with a really good editing app on your iPad).

I am not heavily into photography, but being in IT I do take screenshots from time to time to help write up documentation or capture something interesting.  To take a screenshot on an iPad, iPod or iPhone you simply press the power button and while holding it down press the home button.

Once I did this, the question that came to mind:  “How do I get the pictures and screenshots off the iPad?”

Syncing my iPad with iTunes did not do the trick.   I had taken the screenshots while my docking cable was connected and, as a result, the answer did not immediately hit me.  Once I disconnected my iPad and reconnected it (in Windows), the Scanner and Camera Wizard launched, which then downloads the pictures.  You can also open the Wizard by going to Start->Programs->Accessories.

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Sync Google Calendar with iPhone & iPad

The Calendar Application that comes with the iPad is a very easy to use, and integrates nicely with email (both Google & Exchange), however setting it up to connect to Google Calendars is not something that takes place when you set up a GMail account. There are plenty of applications on the App Store that can provide you with access to your Google Calendar, but they all require you to open the app to sync and alerting for events is not possible. For me, the ideal solution is to have all my Calendars sync into the iPad native calendar application.

I’ve written a quick HowTo for adding other calendars to your iPad.

Continue reading »

Posted in HowTo, iPad, Mobile | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Microsoft Patches – May 2010

It’s time to patch those servers and workstations again.  Only two patches from Microsoft this month.  Should make for an easy night.

Patch # Affected Reference
KB
Microsoft Rating
MS10-030 Vulnerabilities in Outlook Express and Windows Mail
Outlook Express and Windows Mail Integer Overflow KB978542 Servers:
Important
Clients:
Critical
MS10-031 Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications
VBE6.DLL Stack Memory Corruption KB978213 OS:
Important
Office 2007:
Important
Developer Tools:
Critical

Don’t take my word for it, check the MS Site yourself and determine if you need these patches.   Any good System Administrator will check the patches at the source themselves.

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