Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Created a website using Wix - lotsa' pics from the England trip in September 2012

In September 2012 I had the opportunity, with my wife Hollie, to go to England and visit with a member of my dad's WWII crew - Douglas Petty.  My dad was the pilot of a bomber crew for the 429th squadron, and Douglas was his navigator, and the only Englishman on a crew of Canadians.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Received BB10 from work

Changed cell providers at work, so ended up upgrading phones as well.

Had choice of Samsung Galaxy, iPhone 5 and BB10.

Online research really didn't show much difference between the products - all had significant pros, not much in the way of cons for any of them.

My decision factors:

  • iPhone - I really like the iPad I have (also from work), and the various iPods I've purchased for self and family.  However, I'm not really willing to "drink the Apple kool-aid".  I don't like some smaller aspects of the Apple line that seem to indicate the stubborn side, not the innovative side of the company.
    • don't like not having flash support - some websites are thus unavailable on iPhones/iPads - irritating.
    • don't like iTunes.  Not bad for organizing music, though it seems to be resource hog, and has an irritating problem in Window 7, as it opens on attach for any one of the users, meaning that the remaining users get a "can' open, already open" error.  Less of an issue on connect, as you have control, but sometimes it just loads to do an update, making it locked for actual use until you identify which "user" has it open and kill that instance.
    • don't like the "always open" apps on the iPad (and thus, I suppose, on other i-Devices).  I was shocked to find out that everything I've run since first opening the box was running, which required a specific "shut down" for each app.  (BB10 has a "close app" button that you can choose to execute, or not, when you switch applications - very civilized).
    • Would really love to be able to attach additional memory (e.g. SD card) and to load apps, music etc. directly to the device, avoiding iTunes and the associated headaches
    • I love the iPad for reading comics - I have several apps to do so.  However, in Apple's world, when I install a comic, I have to pick the app, which is fine, however, occassionally a comic is unable to open in app X, can't easily open the same comic in app Y.  Purchase of File Browser has made this a little easier, but a direct drag-and-drop would be infinitely superior, and then open with any of several appropriate apps.
    • Apple has been genius at playing the "user friendly" card, but I really don't see it.  All tablets I've played with are fine, none have the "lockdown" irritations of the iPad/iPhone.  This is part of my Kool-Aid aversion to Apple.
    • All said, if I wasn't given a choice, I would likely have been fine with the iPhone 5.
  • Samsung Galaxy - haven't actually played with this phone, however, it would probably be my choice for a "my own purchase".
    • like the larger screensize - though as the "feel" comes mainly form using it for a while, not sure if the larger size would be a problem in pockets etc.
    • like the openness of Android.  Take all the iPhone issues above, add "not" to the front, and apply to any android device.
    • The tradeoffs for the Samsung and the Blackberry seemed pretty even - no significant advantage either way.
  • Blackberry 10
    • I've used Blackberries at all the places I've worked that provided phones (which would be everywhere since 2001 or so - Intuit, in 1999-2001 I had a cell phone and a palm pilot, at some point we moved to BlackBerries when working for the Government of Alberta)
    • the BB10 reviews indicated favourable comparisons to Samsung and Apple
    • the tie-breaker was the location of RIM in Waterloo, ON - why not support Canadian when the device is as good or better?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Prepping for loss of Google Reader and iGoogle

I used both Google Reader and set up a whole page with iGoogle (my page was functional, not particularly attractive) which was of great use when moving across the country and switching jobs.  iGoogle made it very easy to keep my calendar and common links etc. available on any browser, and with the addition of some widgets (like maps, bookmarks and Google Reader) allowed me to stay in touch.

Not sure what online reader I'll use, but have set up an account with NetVibes (, which allows me to replace iGoogle.

Similar to iGoogle, NetVibes creates a skeleton page, and allows you to drop widgets onto that page.  I was immediately able to pull in some RSS feeds, link to my Gmail account and set up a few pictures and apps (calendar and maps).  I also was able to set up additional tabbed pages, one of which I linked to my set of online storage applications, one for links to social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN), and one I'm setting up for news.  Right now, I've set up several RSS widgets to capture individual news sources, but will eventually re-organize and set up a multi-service reader option.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Virtual Box (Oracle) and VMware

Fell in love, again, with virtual machines.  Became familiar with VMware working for the school board (free VMPlayer available on net).  Recently, I came across VirtualBox from Oracle, which mimics VMWare, but open source (= free).

Playing with VMs, I found some reasonable uses for them.  If you are installing trial software, why not put it in a VM, as it often clogs up your "real" system.  Similarly, if you don't use large packages, such as Microsoft Office, very frequently, create a VM for the full install, and maybe install only Word or Excel in your main system?  As you install more and more on your main system, everything slows down - keep the main system relatively open, and take the few extra minutes to load and execute a VM when you need access to infrequently used programs.