Thursday, July 19, 2012

Get Kitted Out for your Home Office Adventure

So a friend asked -- why should I get an iPad over [some Android thing]? That got me thinking about my custom set-up at my secret bat cave location. I will admit, if you don't know already, that I am an unabashed Apple person (been an Apple developer since the 1980s, etc.). I also have been an AT&T person (well, AT&T then Cingular, then back to AT&T) since I gave up on Bell Atlantic/Verizon to move to Nextel (remember Nextel? They won me over with the walkie-talkie feature that nobody ever used).

So let's start with infrastructure. I am a FiOS-from-day-one person. My neighbors hated it when Verizon (wait, didn't I just say I hated Verizon? Well, not when it comes to 25gig up/downstream!) dug up all their front yards just so I could have the fastest fibre optic (only?) on the market. After all, nobody wants a dirt road as the on-ramp to the Information Super Highway (what happened to that appellation?

Now, I serve up my WiFi (one locked-down network for me and mine, and a guest network just because) using an Apple Airport Extreme, mostly because, well, it has the USB connector for shared drive (roll-your-own NAS, anybody?), all the security features needed, and an easy-to-configure port mapping utility so I can pass web and other traffic right through its firewall.

Clearly the AT&T coverage problem needs to be addressed -- hence, the installation of the 3G Microcell. Read (a somewhat older) review here, and you will avoid the no-bar syndrome.

I go with the iPad as my personal media consumer device (and occasional workhorse for writing, of course) because, well, the iOS interface is the ne-plus-ultra of touch screen navigation. I also like the thin form factor and excellent battery life. Finally, apps, apps, apps. Safari on the iPad renders web sites much nicer, IMHO. The aspect ratio of the screen, the pure beauty of the Retina display, and the overall form factor are big reasons why people choose to watch videos, read books or surf the web from the Galactus of the tablet universe.

Clearly, the app market is a big differentiator -- but why has it gotten that way? This guy has a good position -- developers like to stick with what they know. I can say, from my own experience, that the single OS platform (OS X, iOS) based on NeXTStep/BSD Unix is compelling for a variety of reasons: its been around a long time; Objective-C is not a bad language for development, the WebKit interface provides easy entree into iPhone/iPad apps; and I love the core services both operating systems offer.

When it comes to sharing data, of course you've got your DropBox account, right? But did you know that iCloud (the successor to MobileMe) gives you oh-so-many synchronization opportunities? For example, bookmarks between your MacBookPro and your iPad and iPhone? Or calendars, or whatever? I know, "But Tom, I use GoogleWhatevers for all that." Well, more power to you. But I'll stick with iCal and all the other Apple crap that just plain works.

iCloud service looks much like the original iTools in some ways. This Internet service is free (well, for now)and may offer an e-mail address with iOS 6, I think. Plus, it features the updated core applications evolved from .Mac and MobileMe offerings. But iCloud is forward looking, as Apple seeks to unify offerings and better integrate the cloud into evolving new ways that Apple customers are using iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

Don't forget AirPrint and AirPlay… you want to get that awesome PDF into hard copy format, while listening to Pandora on your gigantic speakers, right?

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