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Where did July go? July 31, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Apple, Information Technology, Random, Technology.
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One of my three new years resolutions is to post to this blog an average of once a week. I don’t think I’m quite there, but I’ve still got five months to catch up and improve my average. This month I only posted twice and I’m posting this just so I have a third post in July. That’s pretty bad, isn’t it? Well, I’ve been busy!

On a totally different note, I continue to be amazed with and dependent on the new iPod Touch 2.0 system. It is more natural for me to reach for it to check my e-mail or schedule than it is to either use my laptop or my PDA/smart phone. Weird, isn’t it?

Now, there is an iPod Touch application for posting to WordPress. I didn’t use it to post this entry, but I will be trying it out this weekend. Fun!


iPod Touch – The best new PDA on the market July 24, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Apple, Business, Information Technology, Mac, Technology, Uncategorized.

Almost two weeks ago I downloaded Apple’s new update to the iPod Touch (known as version 2.0). The release of the 2.0 software occurred at the same time Apple released the new iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 software.

It took me more than a day to actually get the software update (through the iTunes application) because Apple has some major problems with their update serves. They still have not fully disclosed exactly what happened, but industry experts think that a combination of crashing servers and high demand caused the significant delay in people being able to update their iPhones and iPod Touches (they essentially use the same software). But, after a full day of trying to download the update, I was finally successful and an hour later, I had an updated iPod Touch running the new 2.0 software.

My greatest interest in getting my iPod Touch upgraded was to test the new “enterprise” support, which simply meant that it would work with the Exchange server. Second to that, I was curious about the many different applications that would be released through the new Apple App Store, which is essentially the iTunes store but instead of music, you download programs for the iPod Touch (and iPhone).

I work at a college and I was off campus when I first set up my iPod Touch 2.0 to connect to the Exchange server. I don’t know if that was the reason it didn’t work at first or if it was something else. But, after playing around with the settings, I started to get login errors. So, I went to my laptop computer and tried to log into my Exchange account and discovered that I inadvertently locked out my Exchange account by attempting to log into it with the wrong password too many times.

That was a frustrating delay because it was on a Saturday and I didn’t want to either drive the 20 miles (one way) to reset my account (unlock it) nor did I feel it was urgent enough to ask someone on my staff to stop by the office to take care of my Exchange account. I knew it would reset itself in a few hours, so I shut down everything (the e-mail client on my Mac laptop, my iPod Touch, and my cell phone/PDA that accesses my e-mail and synchs to the Exchange server). About 24 hours later I was able to get into the Exchange server from my laptop, so I stopped experimenting with my iPod Touch setup for Exchange and spent the rest of the weekend just testing the new App Store function and downloading various free applications.

Once I was back in my office after the weekend, I once again tried to set up my iPod Touch to synch with the Exchange server and it worked flawlessly. Ever since then, it has just worked. In fact, it’s worked exceptionally well.

Between the clarity of the screen and the ease of use factor that Apple engineers into every one of their products, I find that the iPod Touch is THE best PDA on the market. I have had this iPod Touch for more than six months. And, while I used it from time to time for listening to music or podcasts, I didn’t really use it all that much. That all changed the minute it began to provide me with easy access to my e-mail, calendar, and contacts. Now, it has become a great new productivity tool that I am becoming dependent on for my work.

You might think that there is nothing special about the iPod Touch when it comes to synchronizing data with the Exchange server. You would be wrong. The experience of reading and responding to e-mail on the iPod Touch is significantly better than using any of the PDA’s on the market. I’ve been using PDA’s since the mid-1990’s and this is different. I don’t know if it’s the way the software looks and works or if it’s the user interface and the large touch surface that makes the difference. Maybe it’s both. But, the entire experience is different — better.

If you have no interest in changing cell phones or for some other reason don’t want to consider buying an iPhone, then look seriously at getting an iPod Touch. If you use an exchange server where you work, it is definitely worth it, but even if you just use it for personal e-mail, it works well with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo mail, etc.

But wait, there’s more! While the main value of the iPod Touch for me is compatibility with the Exchange server, there is also growing value and significance that it can be expanded to do new things by downloading applications through the Apple App Store. I have downloaded dozens of free games, utilities, news aggregators, etc.  Some of them have been very powerful and I think are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the iPod Touch and iPhone can or will be used in the future. It’s easy to predict that the iPod Touch and iPhone will become THE portable appliance of choice for custom applications and niche programs used in many industries. I can’t wait to see where the next innovative application will come from, but I would guess that there will be a version for the iPod Touch or a special client that will allow people to access the data from an iPod Touch.

My recommendation for anyone looking to replace or update their old PDA is to get an iPhone Touch. You will be glad you did.

This is not an advertisement for Apple. And, no, I don’t own any Apple stock, but I am tracking their stock price using the Bloomberg software on my iPod.

See your reflection in others July 2, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Family, Friends, History, Humor, Japan, Photography, Weblog.

Dr. Bacchus ReflectionIt is interesting how much one learns of themselves by interacting with others. Yes, by interacting with people around you it helps you see yourself better and therefore you end up knowing yourself.

In the past several years I’ve worked with a person who has brought into focus the amount of influence my upbringing has affected my personality and character. I grew up in Japan. In fact, I spent most of the first 18 years of my life there, with the exception of three times when we lived in America for a year each time while on furlough. Well, the oriental influence on me is inescapable. And, this co-worker has been like a highly reflective mirror and given me a better view of myself and how I’ve been shaped by the oriental influences of my childhood.

One of the characteristics of oriental society is subtle communication. So, when I saw this photo posted on the Kyoto Daily Photo blog, I laughed out loud. It typifies how subtle the Japanese people can be, and by extension, how I am at times. The theme for the July 1st daily photo blog photos is “no.” The assignment is to take photos of signs that say “no” or “not permitted.” So, the photo of a walking path of large stepping stones with a single smaller stone sitting atop the first step means, “do not enter,” in the social language of Japan. That is a wonderful example of how small and subtle communication is in Japan — and while it’s subtle, I find it also to be crystal clear and almost obvious. But, that’s just because I think in those same terms.

So, thank you Bert for giving me a better view of myself and through that awareness, making this photograph that much more meaningful and amusing.

Disclaimer: The photo used in this post has nothing to do with the Kyoto Daily Photo blog. I wanted to use the stone path photo, but I didn’t have permission. Therefore, I found a good friend’s photo on the Wilmore Daily Photo blog site and used it without his permission. Hey, what is a friend going to do, sue me? Oh, oh! He seems to be tight with the local police. Maybe I should reconsider my attititude!