It Just Works

Hi all, I’m fresh off of the range having let the lead fly for about 6 hours.  My friends and I are sufficiently prepared for any zombie attacks … how about you?  For my sanity, let’s just assume that answer is a resounding YES!  (if not, you might want to befriend a Republican and get them on speed dial immediately or figure out whether you prefer salt or mustard on your brains).  This, of course, has nothing to do with the post topic today unless you take into consideration that that I was cleaning my weapons last night while my mobile computing device was happily being upgraded (foreshadowing).

As a professional IT Architect, I’ve spent most of my professional career designing and consulting on large computing systems.  To grossly simplify this landscape, there are really two defined camps in this space.  One camp puts forth the mantra of interoperability is king with a nod to Best in Breed.  The other camp preaches the tight integration card with a willingness to reduce capabilities at a gain of simplicity.  The challenge is to mediate between these ideologies and come up with the best solution.  For years, the Best of Breed camp enjoyed big success riding the benefits of reduced vendor lock in and the ability to pick and choose the best answer for each specific need.  This all started changing about 10 years ago when the complexities of integration and the inability for vendors to deliver on open standards (I’m speaking to you SUN).  Suites and proprietary solutions found their weak spot in the system armor.  Since then, the Best of Breed roar has become more of a whimper and the vendor suites have become as sweet as they sound.  There is one place where this battle raging … probably the last real battleground for this argument.  Any guesses where that is?  If you guessed the mobile computing field, you are dead on… and the players?  No need for extra power to the synapse – Android vs Apple.

I am on the Android side of this colossal tug of war.  As of such I am barraged with the “It Just Works” sermons from the other camp.  Apple is so great because everything just works, my Apple products are a gift from heaven because they just work, I did not even have to do anything special to get this new feature functioning because it just works.   Hell, Apple is so cool I’ll immediately go out an buy the next version even though it doesn’t really provide me much more value, but I know it will just work even better than what I have.  Wow, I have to hand it to Apple, their marketing arm is amazing.  I can see how this would be so appealing based on the quirks and idiosyncrasies we encounter with their competitors.  Clearly there is room for improvement in the other devices, but what is the price of that discomfort over the benefit of not being held captive to a vendor that essentially limits your freedom on what can and cannot run on YOUR computing device?  To me, that price is $100.  I can say that because we bought an HP Touchpad during their fire sale.  A quick mod of the kernel and we had swapped out the WebOS for Android!  Linda now had a fairly functional tablet device she could use for her photography business and (gasp) Facebook.  The downside of this is Linda had to put up with the quirks.  Not a big deal for me, but I can understand the annoyances of not everything working all the time but some of that is due to bad programming – take for example the Facebook app requiring a location indicator before it will run – this was solved with a fake GPS app, but again, it took some effort to figure out what was wrong.

Flash forward to last month when I decided to breakdown and get Linda an iPad HD.  Her photography business was doing well and figured switching over to that platform would work out for her… and we all know .. it just works!  Eventually this showed up in the mail:

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64Gs with the cellular option.  The very first task was to get it loaded up with the Apps she has on her iTouch.  To do this all we needed was a quick connection to our wireless internet and we’d be good to go… oh no.  For some strange reason it refused to connect.  Our iTouches connect up just fine to it as well as both our PCs.  Maybe a quick look at the Internet will show what we did wrong.  Jump on the Windows PC, hit the Internet without issue and there we were met with link after link of other consumer problems with Apple Wifi.  Wait a minute, the whole story line is “It Just Works” and yet I’m reading on the Apple site about things to try and fix the problem including the quite hilarious option to turn up the brightness on the screen.  Nothing appeared to fix it even after changing all the settings on the wireless uplink (including the entire security mechanism) — nope, no luck.  On the other hand it was working fine with the Verizon Hotspot (when we were forced to use).

A week later we took the new iPad with us to Wisconsin on a photography shoot.  To help pass the down time we took an educational DVD with us on how to shoot big game in Yellowstone National Park.  I had already watched it, but wanted Linda to view it.  Since the packaging said it was iPod enabled it seemed like a great opportunity to check out the concept of watching videos on the iPad.  After the day’s shoot we were relaxing at the hotel and decided to watch the DVD.  Of course we can’t just put the files on the iPad directly, instead we have to start up iTunes, move the files over to iTunes and then let it transfer them  to the device.  This is an uber-annoyance but apparently this is a tradeoff for things just working.  iTunes was loaded, the DVD was loaded and now just need to copy the iPod folder on the DVD to iTunes.   Ummm, iTunes refuses to accept the dropped on files.  Apparently this device doesn’t understand .mp4 extension which I thought was one of Apples supported platforms  A couple more attempts resulted in the same bad results.  I am now officially 0-2 on the concept of “It Just Works!”  Granted, there re plenty of things that did work correctly, but if you are going to hammer me with reasoning of it just works it better damn work.

There is a bright spot in all of this (well, for me, not my brother).  I did download Flowers HD which looks great on the new iPad and now that I can practice I’ll once again rule the high scorers list in the family.

The other surprising bonus was pointed out by a friend of mine.  To go along with the  iPad, I also bought Linda the camera accessories so she could simply plug in adapter in and view her photography pictures directly from the SD card (let me re-phrase that – Apple forced me to spend more money for functionality that should already be available!)  It appeared to work by requiring the images to be imported into the gallery which did not seem that efficient  but did work.  Turns out that the Wii keyboard (which we own) will work as an external keyboard by putting the USB receiver into the Apple USB camera adapter.   Now that is also something that did just work.  Note, the Air Stash product my brother turned us onto works a lot better with the iPad – it creates a hot spot for the SD cards and allows us to view it directly off the card rather than importing them – SCORE!  Now Linda can simply take the JPG card out after a shoot, stick it in the Air Stash and put it in slideshow mode for potential customers.

The best part of all this is she gave me the TouchPad to use.  Having an Android phone already, all of my apps were immediately uploaded (free I might add) to the tablet and all seemed to perform great.  In order to benefit from the latest code base and hopefully address a quirk encountered on our corporate wireless network I decided to upgrade from Cyanogenmod CM7 to CM9 (Ice Cream Sandwich).  A quick look at an online video (recommend those uploaded by reverendkjr) reminded me of the process, a download of the required configuration files, copied those files to the HP (by the way DIRECTLY USING USB) and executing the load command from the PC was all that was needed to complete this task.  Rather than wait for it, I went to clean the rifles.  On return, sure enough, I was the proud owner of this.


Guess what, it kept all my app settings and a quick check of the wireless, email, apps stores and a couple of installed apps all confirmed that “It just Works”.  The result of all this .. Linda is happy with her condom wearing computing tablet and I’m happy with a tablet that I control even it if exposes me to a few errrr, quirks, yeah, quirks.

8 thoughts on “It Just Works”

  1. Welcome to the world of ICS on the TouchPad! I guess I had assumed you already were running CM9 the last time we talked. It’s actualy running very well for me on the TouchPad and, aside from a few minor quirks, I use my tablet as a primary tablet as it does work well was a great price.

    My wife has both a CM9 TouchPad and an iPad, and short of a few things for her work that just wouldn’t function with the CM9 TouchPad (namely, their VPN – guessing if I knew someone in VPN department there, we could have figured it out,but wasn’t worth it…) Other than the fact that the iPad works better for her job,, if she’s wanting to do some surfing or quick gaming while on the couch, she reaches for her CM9 TouchPad. which kind of surprised me as she is a big fan of Mac PC’s. She’s not that impressed by the iPad I guess….

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  2. I had been looking through the various updates to the CM7s and didn’t notice anything compelling enough to upgrade to 9 .. and at the time I didn’t want to risk bricking the tablet since Linda was kinda using it. A couple of the updates were focused on Netflix which I have zero interest in so didn’t think it would matter – however, with the wifi connectivity issues figured it was worth trying the upgraded. Pretty painless other than remembering how to do the novocom procedure. So far seems to be working great – especially liked the fact they updated the ACMEInstaller to keep from having to reload all my apps in data. Linda is definitely on the iPad over the Touchpad tablet but with that said she still hasn’t let it take over her life so there is hope for her yet!

    … did you bring this rain in with you?.. sure glad it waited until today although I got soaked trying to get the rest of the mulch in and looks like a treadmill night for me

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  3. Had to start re-reading that last sentence about halfway through. Gotta quit scanning things so quickly.

    Note that if you load .mp4 files onto the AirStash (via USB), the AirStash app has a built-in movie player that will play them wirelessly without having them transferred to your iPad.

    From the screenshot of your Flowers game, it looks like your game is definitely improving. Congratulations!

    I will have to update my TouchPad to CM9 now as well! Like you, I had not seen the benefits yet, although the wifi issues have been annoying. Also, I can now get the QuickOffice app made for ICS that I’ve been waiting for (and SketchPad, too).

    Unfortunately, I still can’t seem to turn off whatever app is making the screen look shattered. It just works!

    Ron

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  4. Hehehehe – it took me a few tries to get that down to PG rating. I am going to try that Airstash trick tomorrow – if that works it will solve a big problem! I see you’re still trash talking your Flowers skills. My first attempt put me over 4100 so I think it’s time to go head to head. Next time we meet it’s game on for all the bragging rights.

    Bad news on the wifi front – it does work better on our corporate network, but it is still refusing to reconnect after it goes to sleep. Sometimes turning the wifi off and back on fixes it, but often it takes a full reboot – it is almost like the browser is catching something and refusing to accept our authentication redirect.

    I ask you this, if you were to drop the Apple like you did your touchpad would it still work?

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  5. Don’t let Brian kid you. He is constantly on my ipad playing that flowers game. So I figure he is a ipad fan just because of that. And the wireless problem he says it has is no more. After a week, I tried to connect to it and it worked just fine. Not sure what happened. Maybe it was just Brian error????

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  6. Whoa, whoa whoa! As far as flowers goes, it just seems like it is a long time because one game tends to cross multiple days (…’cause I’m so good hehehe). Now the wireless fairy has apparently sprinkled its magic dust but that does not take away from the fact a) it didn’t work and b) no one in the IT biz is comfortable with a problem just solving itself. There is a possible answer, Linda turned up the brightness on the iPad! Lastly, what is this mystical concept of “Brian error” … that idea is just one French vote short of crazy!

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  7. Thanks, Linda, for the inside story of Brian and his incredibly time-consuming efforts to catch up to my scores. Sort of what I figured, but I’m too diplomatic to just come out and say it. About Brian and his incredibly time-consuming efforts to catch up to my scores, I mean. Actually, last week Brian told me a secret fact about the game and its allocation of special flowers that I was not aware of, a slip on his part that reveals much about his shady, backdoor methods.

    I have never had Brian mess with my iPad, and I have never had wi-fi problems with it. That’s two data points for “Brian error”, none against. As a working hypothesis, I’ve seen ones with less data in articles in respected journals. We’ll go with it. It’s nice to have closure.

    Ron

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  8. Once again I see where my brother’s loyalties are – I take hours and hours to accurately depict an experience we had with an inferior product and my wife jumps in, tosses some salt (read untruths) and scadaddles. For the record, I know for a fact that you know about the magic flowers because your daughter told me about them which means you must have told her about them so there (brother 0 me 1). Next up I never touched your touchpad and that thing is cracked to pieces so obviously you do not have the magical touch (brother 0 me 2). Lastly there is no such thing as a Brian Error so both of you are already in dreamworld (brother 0 me 3).

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