To iPhone or Not?

DiGi's iPhone entry

DiGi's iPhone entry

The hottest news in the telco scene right now is DiGi’s entry into the smartphone space with its very own iPhone plans. iPhone fans are all a buzz about the whole thing and my own brother pre-ordered the thing. It’s great to see another telco enter the market. It gives us (the consumer) choice. I can’t wait to see what DiGi brings to the playing field.

On another note, I’ve been around iPhones for a long time and I doubt I’d ever get one as a primary phone. I still like physical keyboards and all this touchscreen virtual keyboardness doesn’t seem to fit the bill for me. I still prefer my HTC Touch Pros physical keyboard and even though the delete key isn’t responsive now I’d still go for a device that doesn’t depend exclusively on its screen for input. Admittedly, the iPhone does have a great variety of affordable apps and out of all the smartphones out there it’s definitely the sexiest. I dunno … Maybe if I have excess cash to spare or maybe when the rumoured iPhone 4G comes out. We’ll see. I’m still not convinced about the iPhone’s ability to function as a work phone. It still feels like a fun phone that’s more a toy than some of the other devices that’s out in the market now.

In the meantime, the iPhone 3GS is finally available with someone else other than Maxis which is great for consumers all over Malaysia! As for me … well, I’m gonna wait for Windows Phone 7 Series before I decide on a new smartphone. I can’t wait to see how Microsoft is going to level the playing field with it’s revamped mobile OS. If you’ve been waiting to jump on the iPhone bandwagon, I suppose now’s the time to do it. DiGi’s data plans have always been the best value for money in the market, and I trust they’ll do the same here with their iPhone bundles.

Check it out!

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Am So Missin’ Aero Snap in Windows 7

Aero Snapped.

Aero Snapped.

After a long day at a shoot I’m kickin’ back a little and decided it’s time for me to fire up Snow Leopard for a bit. Why? Well I’ve been on Windows 7 all weekend till today cos’ of work. It’s easier to work off my Vostro 1400 cos’ all my files are there so I’ve been missing Snow Leopard and my Macbook a fair bit. Anyways, back to my tale for today.

Funnily enough the first thing I tried to do when Safari launched was to do an Aero Snap maneuver which didn’t turn out too well. Ha ha! Obviously the window I was trying to Aero Snap didn’t maximise as it does on Windows 7 and I must say that I’m beginning to love Windows 7 a lot and Aero Snap ranks as one of my favourite features on the OS that Microsoft built.

I am so missing Aero Snap right about now on my Mac and I’m looking forward to getting back on Windows 7 tomorrow at work. Snow Leopard, I still love you but right now I’m enjoying my everyday experience with Windows 7. I’m thinking that Mac fanboys would so want to kill me right now for saying that. LOL!

I still like Snow Leopard but Windows 7 really does have some uber cool features.

I still like Snow Leopard but Windows 7 really does have some uber cool features.

What is Aero Snap? It’s a simple but great feature that allows me to maximise a window by just dragging the window to the top of the desktop. A glow/touch effect occurs and voila the window in question maximises! Cool eh? The handiest thing about Aero Snap happens when I need to compare 2 documents when I’m not dual-screened (which happened today on location). All I need to do is just “snap” each window that I wanna compare. One to the left. The other to the right. And just like magic both windows are instantly resized into equal sized windows that sit side by side for me to compare.

I know, I know. I’m supposed to do an indepth look at Grabber on Snow Leopard but I couldn’t help but write about Aero Snap today. It is such a cool feature.

I [heart] Aero Snap. I really do.

Windows 7 & Snow Leopard: Snipping Tool vs. Grab

Here’s part 2 of my indepth look into both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard in my day to day use for work and for play.

I take lots of screen captures at work on a daily basis to give feedback on designs, layouts or just to point out errors in copy and screen caps are an important part of what I do. Which is why part 2 is gonna be focused on the bundled screen capture utilities that came in both Windows 7 & Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Before Vista, Windows never came with proper screen capture tools and I remember having to resort to 3rd party software to grab screens more efficiently which was kinda annoying. If you’re writing a document that requires lots of screen captures, Windows XP or below would really annoy you. Apple on the other hand did quite  a lot of thinking and came with out of the box snapshot tools which came in handy for work. Snow Leopard comes with a more “canggih” tool called Grab which I assume takes a page out of Vista cos’ I never noticed any such tool in Leopard before my Snow Leopard upgrade.

Snow Leopard Grabber.

Snow Leopard's Grabber.

I’ve always hated the basic print screen functions that came with Windows so it was a joy to discover Snipping Tool (which incidentally comes in Windows Vista too) that  takes a page out of Apple’s default Command 3 or 4 snapshot feature.

Windows 7's Snipping Tool.

Windows 7's Snipping Tool.

Snipping Tool is great and has a number of options that allow you to take snapshots of your desktop and windows. The best part about it is that it saves all these snapshots in a variety of formats; the default being PNG. That’s pretty cool cos’ Snow Leopard’s Grab saves snapshots in *.TIFF format by default which is a bit cumbersome especially when I have to convert it back into PNG to be published online. I haven’t mucked around with it too much but I assume it can be changed to save the image in another format.

Snipping Tool options.

Snipping Tool options.

If you work on dual screens then Mac OS X Snow Leopard does a nifty thing when you hit Cmd 3 – it actually creates 2 TIFF files  of each desktop which is super handy if you need to take lots of screen shots quickly without having to crop the images. Windows’ default Prnt Scrn button doesn’t do the same unfortunately and the Prnt Scrn button just takes one big image that combines both desktops. Perhaps a future update could alter this behaviour within Windows but then again I don’t think that many people are addicted to dual screens like me for work.

Both OSes come with great screen capture tools and I’m glad to have equivalents in both OSes to use for work. All in all I think Windows has finally caught up with Apple in this respect which is a good thing for the large install base of PC users all around the world.

One thing to note about Windows 7’s Snipping Tool is that it’s able to save screen snapshots in HTML form too. I can’t figure out why I’d save a snapshot as a HTML page though but nevertheless I’m sure someone out there would have a use for such a feature.

If you’re curious as to where Snipping Tool is; just go to All Programs -> Accessories in the Windows Ribbon to access this useful function. It’s snapped on to my taskbar cos’ I take screen caps every day! Same as Grab which I’ve locked within my dock on my Macbook.

Check back later over the weekend cos’ I’ll be dropping a quick post from my Mac that’ll show more screens off my Macbook give everyone a better idea of what Snow Leopard’s Grab does. I’m too sleepy & a tad bit lazy now to go back & forth between my Dell Vostro 1400 and my Macbook. Besides I need my Saturday afternoon nap now after last night’s 4am karaoke with some friends.

Ta!

For more on Windows 7 in Malaysia visit the Windows 7 independent community site here.

Windows 7 & Snow Leopard: Aero Peek vs. Expose

Windows 7

Windows 7

Operating systems. No one thinks twice about what’s under the hood but everyone certainly cares about how easy it is to use and I am loving both Windows 7 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard so far. My only gripe is with Apple at the moment cos’ I had problems with the install disc that came bundled with my copy of the Mac Box Set that I purchased from Machines in 1U. I had no issues with Windows 7 but then again my IT department set my office laptop with a burned copy that we obtained off MSDN so I can’t really judge Microsoft in this respect as I have yet to get a hold of a retail copy of the disc.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Mac OS X Snow Leopard

As I experience both OSes at work and at home I’ve decided to write up a fair play by play of the features that I use on a daily basis on both OSes. I’m not a power user so I’m guessing that my experiences with both Windows 7 and Snow Leopard would reflect what most of you do out there on a daily basis with your PCs.

Pardon the low-res screen captures but I don’t wanna kill anyone who loads up this post with sharp PNGs that will take ages to load up. The screen caps are meant to illustrate a point not look pretty.

Windows 7
First up! Let’s have a look at the number one feature of Windows 7 that I use every day… AERO PEEK! Yep … I use Aero Peek on a daily basis to go through all my open windows as I work in the office.

With Aero Peek I get live previews of any open windows when I mouseover app icons in the taskbar.

With Aero Peek I get live previews of any open window when I mouseover app icons in the taskbar.

For everyone’s info, I compare and reference a lot of materials in the office and this is a huge time saver which also helps to keep my screen clean of clutter. When I scroll over open windows within the taskbar, the coolest thing about Windows 7 is that I get to view the contents of windows that I mouse over directly on the desktop with other windows going translucent; exposing the window that I wanna look at. It’s a big help when I have a multitude of windows open.

Check out the cool translucent window effects when I mouseover a window I wanna preview.

Check out the cool translucent window effect when I mouseover a window I wanna preview.

The coolest thing about Aero Peek is that I am able to close windows from within the live preview boxes that appear in the taskbar whenever my mouse pointer hovers over open applications and windows. It’s a simple yet nifty feature that allows me to be more productive at work.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard
Mac OS X Snow Leopard on the other hand still uses Expose that allows me to view any open windows and apps that I have running at any point in time by just hitting the F3 key or by holding left click mouse button on an open app in the dock. Expose was revolutionary when it first came out and while useful it is a bit of a pain to always have to hit F3 just to view all the windows that I’ve got open.

Expose shows all open windows by hitting F3.

Expose shows all open windows by hitting F3.

By clicking on an app's icon you can see all open windows it has.

By clicking on an app's icon you can see all open windows it has.

I’m not really a power user on my Macbook but I don’t think I can close any open apps I have from within Expose. So Windows 7 does a one up on Snow Leopard in this respect. Apple’s introduction of enhanced stacks and Expose re-arranging windows in a grid format does help but I definitely like how Windows 7 treats the viewing & previewing of open windows on my desktop.

To be fair to Apple I really do like how I don’t need to go into Finder anymore when previewing folders and apps within stacks on my dock, which is a feature that should have been introduced earlier in OS X in my opinion. It’s a bit hard for me to illustrate this in writing so take a look at the screen shots below that I’ve taken to illustrate this.

Just click on a folder within the dock to pop a stack open.

Just click on a folder within the dock to pop a stack open.

Click on a folder within a stack to view it without having to open Mac OS' Finder. Neat!

Click on a folder within a stack to view it without having to open Mac OS' Finder. Neat!

Stacks in Mac OS X are cool but Windows Explorer does the same thing pretty much and stacks in my opinion function just like mini Finder windows in Snow Leopard. It is handy though when it comes to looking through folder shortcuts in the Mac OS Dock.

Explorer does the same thing as a stack doesn't it?

Explorer does the same thing as a stack doesn't it?

I think I’ve covered enough for Part 1. Suffice to say both OSes treat windows niftily but I definitely prefer Windows 7 in this respect. And it really helps that Aero makes the desktop sleek & sexy which was a selling point of Mac OS X to me. Hey … what can I say? I’m attracted to sexy.

Tune in next week as I continue to experience both OSes on a day to day basis. Windows 7 launches October 23rd here in Malaysia so I’m gonna try to cover as much as possible to help everyone get a sense of what to expect with the new OS and to see how it stacks up against Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Cheers!

Note:
This post was written by tediously swapping between my Macbook and Dell Vostro 1400. Oh the sacrifice … heh.

Exonerating Apple

First things first. I’m big enough to admit it when I’m wrong so here it is.

“I’m sorry Apple.”

I must say that I made a mistake by ranting online first about my Snow Leopard problem. So here’s an apology of sorts to Apple. I gave their helpline a call upon the advice of a friend and explained the problem I had with my disc. It was a relief to hear that Apple acknowledges the issue and all I need to do now is read out the serial number on the disc to them.

It was a breath of fresh air to me cos’ most retailers/brands in Malaysia tend to push the problem back to the user first. I understand why Machines couldn’t do a one-to-one exchange for me without a ticket number from Apple themselves and even though I was recommended to give the Apple Helpline a call I didn’t. The basic distrust I had for brands kicked in and I didn’t. Instead I opted to try to reach someone at Apple.com which so far has proven futile. There goes another illusion I had about good customer service from American brands and the web as a communication tool. Oh well. I’ll try the local arm first next time before trying to go international.

I'm sorry Apple... *sheepish look*

I'm sorry Apple... *sheepish look*

I haven’t done so yet cos’ I didn’t have the disc yet and the call centre was closed over the weekend so hopefully I’ll be able to clear things up tomorrow. For all Apple users here in Malaysia here are the correct steps to take should you have problems with Apple stuff as the local distributors have to follow a procedure when it comes to exchanges or faulty products.

  1. First give Apple a call at 1-800 803-638 (for the latest contact numbers in your region click here)
  2. Describe your problem to the friendly voice on the other end
  3. If everything goes well they should be issuing you a ticket number
  4. Have your ticket number on hand when you visit a local retailer to do your exchange

I’ll make the call tomorrow and will do the one-to-one exchange some time within the next few days.

Wish me luck!

P.S. I’ve been putting together some notes to compare Snow Leopard against Windows 7 as I’m one of the privileged few at work to be running Microsoft’s brand new OS. Check back in a couple of days!

My Bad Snow Leopard Experience

I am annoyed with Apple! Very annoyed. *Takes a deep breath* And the object of my annoyance sits in the very pretty box below.

Pretty box. Too bad it's not that pretty on the inside.

Pretty box. Too bad it's not that pretty on the inside.

Yes! You heard that right! I’m annoyed with Apple for their crummy Mac OS X Snow Leopard install disc which is dual-layered and apparently cannot be read by the Superdrive that comes standard on my 1-year old Macbook. The disc worked and installed fine on the demo iMac at Machines 1U which made me feel even more crap. Gargh!

In order to deal with my annoyance I am gonna do just what anyone with access to the Internet will do. I’m gonna … wait for it … RANT! I decided to write directly to Apple.com on Sunday and unfortunately I’ve not gotten any response yet from them so in an effort to elicit a response out of Apple I’ve decided to plonk the contents of my next complaint to them that I am just about to post on Apple.com through their feedback form.
Enjoy the following and let’s hope I can get someone to do something about my defective disc (Apple … I’m talking to you).
Hi again,

I am really annoyed that no one at Apple has bothered to get back to me about the issue that I have been having. I emailed my problems with Snow Leopard over the weekend and it’s Tuesday now. I would really appreciate a response on this and action on replacing my Snow Leopard disc as the Superdrive on my Macbook cannot read the disc properly and the install does not occur at all.

I have managed to borrow a USB DVD-RW drive and created a disk image on a thumb drive which works but I still cannot get over the fact that I paid RM619 for a Mac Box set for a copy of Snow Leopard which I am finding out has problems being read by Macbook Superdrives because it’s dual-layered?!

I know I live half-way across the world in a region that probably is not important to your company but that does not mean I am any less as important as a customer. I must say that I am sorely disappointed in the response time that I’m getting here. In fact I think I’m gonna be posting this up somewhere for the world to know. It’s a shame really cos’ I’ve always had a high regard for Apple and I’ve been increasingly pursing genuine software as a means to support the fight against piracy. Apple products are premium-priced items here in Malaysia and it’s really disappointing that I can’t get a simple install to work.

I hope to hear from someone as the reason why I am writing in here is because I believe that my complaints can be better dealt with by the mother brand rather than the people who distribute Apple products here in Malaysia.

Thank you.

Regards,
Chris.
If someone from Apple is reading this. I hope you can do something for a very unhappy customer who has always thought that Apple had better QC on their products.

Twitter-ed

Are you Twittered today?

Are you Twittered today?

I’m addicted to Twitter. Been hearing a lot about Twitter ever since I’ve been monitoring tech news for the WAP site that I update. After months of reading about Twitter I finally caved and signed up for an account 2 weeks ago on my HTC Touch Pro whilst I was out for lunch with my brother.

Since then I’ve installed the TwitterFox plug-in on Firefox both on my Macbook and on my Dell Vostro at work. And just this week I installed TweetDeck Beta on both machines as well. I don’t know why it’s so addictive to follow others and to have others follow you on Twitter but it just is. The Twitter phenomenon has even extended to celebritydom with Ashton Kutcher challenging CNN in a race to reach 1 million followers on Twitter. Incidentally he won … isn’t it weird what a 140-character limited app can do?

The Adobe AIR-powered TweetDeck Beta.

The Adobe AIR-powered TweetDeck Beta.

It’s a strange social-networking phenomenon but oh so many love it including yours truly. I’ve also installed a Tweeter app on Facebook that automatically updates my Facebook status. How cool is that? I wonder how long this fad will last for me? Is Twitter the next big thing or is it just a passing phase on the World Wide Web?

Only time will tell … for now it’s just FUN to Twitter. Follow me … http://www.twitter.com/chrisleow