One of the more interesting features coming out soon in Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion release is the built in Social Sharing to Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo, and Flickr. When Mountain Lion becomes available later this month, it will not include Facebook, which if I had to bet will be timed to release at the same time iOS 6 ships.This video below provides and overview of how this social sharing works and how tightly Apple has integrated Social Media into the core functions of the operating system. In my testing of this new feature what I felt was missing were the ability to post to fan pages or the ability to tag people in pictures, etc. Within twitter while I could attach URL’s or Pictures, there was no way to shorten URL’s. There were three Social Networks I would love to see added to this new feature: YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest. I hope over time either Apple adds these are opens this up to developers.
This is part 6 of my series comparing Parallels Desktop 7 to VMware Fusion 4, and in this article and video I am going show you a significant product feature that is unique to Parallels, which is something called Parallels Mobile. As an optional component, Parallels has created an iOS App for both your iPhone and iPad that allow you to run your virtual machine on the iOS Device and remotely control your Mac desktop!
What makes this new feature neat is that you no longer need to be in front of your Mac to run say Windows applications, and if you want to visit Flash websites on your iPad, Parallels Mobile give you the ability to go to those websites to see that content with sound. This mobile app works both over WiFi and 3G, and even allows you to access your computer remotely from behind secure firewalls. If that were not enough, you can even Cut and Paste content from or to any Windows application to the iOS Clipboard and back!
Also don’t forget to enter to win my FREE IPAD 2 16GB WIFI Giveaway. To enter all you have to do is go to my YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE! Watch this video below for a more detailed explanation and if you have topics you are interested in please let me know.
- Comparing Parallels Desktop 7 to VMware Fusion 4 Series – Part 5 (skeetertalkstech.com)
- Comparing Parallels Desktop 7 to VMware Fusion 4 Series – Part 3 (skeetertalkstech.com)
- Comparing Parallels Desktop 7 to VMware Fusion 4 Series – Part 4 (skeetertalkstech.com)
- Comparing Parallels Desktop 7 to VMware Fusion 4 Series – Part 2 (skeetertalkstech.com)
- Comparing Parallels Desktop 7 to VMware Fusion 4 Series – Part 1 (skeetertalkstech.com)
- Parallels Desktop 7 Hands-on [Video] – run Windows apps on your Mac, run Mac on your iPad (slashgear.com)
- Watch Flash On iPads With Parallels Desktop 7 (socialmediaexplorer.com)
If you use iCal for tracking your appointments and to dos, you probably hate the interface to create new appointments and the inability to set mutliple reminders or actions for that mater within an appointment. Well fear not, the folks over at Flexbits, Inc have come up with a nifty little add -on app called Fantastical.
The program adds an icon on your menu bar that allows you to easily look up future appointments plus more importantly it allows you to enter new appointments using natural language! What is really great about this program is that it syncs directly with your iCal, Outlook or soon to be release BusyCal database, and you can add and lookup appointments without ever opening up the full blow calendar programs.
So as an example I can create a new appointment by typing something just like this:
Fantastical will automatically fill in all of the detail entered from the appointment without me touching the mouse in the right fields for the appointment. I hit return, the appointment is saved and since it’s already being stored in my iCal database it lands up in my iPhone in a matter of minutes automatically! Apple could clearly learn from this little application!
So what’s the downside?
Well as of this version 1.01, there is no way to edit an appointment from within Fantastical, basically you double click and it launches your native full calendar program to make the changes. In my case iCal.
The other downside to me is price, when I purchased this app it was $14.99, and recently they have raised the price to $19.99. For the functionality that this program provides it’s just a little steep to me.
Otherwise a nice add-on for your Mac!
With OSX Lion, Apple continues to focus on refining the finder through the use of multi-touch gestures and improving usability of the OS with some very nice file and folder manipulation improvements. On top of that when you look at both iCal and Address Book you can see how they are taking what they have learned from their iOS cousins to improve the look and feel of the interface plus add some new features and frankly sorely missing on the Apple side of the world.
For instance why are we just seeing Social Media integration into the Address Book? While iCal has some new views the interface to enter new appoints still is just clumsy to say the least. Please take a look at the screencast included with this post to learn more about these items and more.
Over the past several weeks I have had the pleasure of testing and working with Parallels Desktop 6 for the mac. This new release not only improves performance, adds over 50 enhancements, but also offers critical new hardware support such as SATA drive emulation!
Some of the top features of this new release are:
35% Speed Improvement
80% Speed Improvement on 3D graphics
SATA Drive Support
5.1 Surround Sound Support
In my testing Parallels Desktop 6 continues to improve on an already stellar product through performance, enhanced PC Hardware support and ease of use. Parallels Desktop 6 not only sets the standards but with version 6 pushes the gap even further away from other virtualization solutions.
You can check out my new features screencast here and look for an review of 3D performance coming soon.
The Virtualization industry for the Apple Macintosh has existed for almost as long as the Macintosh, with one of the first virtualization products (at least that I used) being hardware based on the Macintosh IIc back in 1987. Warping forward to 2010 how times have changed for both software and hardware manufactures and “with Hell Freezing Over…” Apple made the move to the Intel Chipset. In my humble opinion one of the best decisions Apple ever made! In the Virtualization space today the players are Parallels Desktop 5, VMWare fusion 3, and Oracles’ Virtual Box, with the predominate lead going to Parallels. What sets Parallels Desktop 5 apart from other Virtualization software really boils down to it’s mature and thorough feature set and just raw performance emulating Windows. If your interested in a short comparison of Parallels and VMware I created a screencast here, late last year.
Parallels Desktop 5 is all about raw speed, performance and reliability. Leveraging the release of Mac OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard, Parallels Desktop 5 now takes advantage of the 64bit OS, Intels VT-x2 Technologies, and can utilize up to 8 CPU’s on the most powerful Mac the MacPro. What does this mean? In simple terms it means booting up in Windows XP in under one minute or even less with Windows 7.
Performance is clearly carried through in both application performance as well as graphics including OpenGL 2.1 and DirectX 9 support. What this has meant to me is that I can easily run applications like MS Word and Internet Explorer with performance that is better then most windows machines, and quickly test my website designs and video production for Windows compliance. What has also much improved in Parallels Desktop 5 is the ability to play 3D games now in a virtualized environment, and get performance that makes casual gaming very acceptable. For a more detailed look on gameplay within Parallels, I created a screencast late last year that you can find here.
What sets Parallels Desktop 5 apart is a well executed user interface and mature feature set for each Virtual Machine. Parallels has created a very unobtrusive interface to launching a Virtual Machine instance, and accessing the hardware & settings of the environment.
The interface has been well thought out with the ability to configure every feature/function of the virtualization experience with a very comprehensive set of options. While there are over 70 new features that are included in this release and certainly too many to cover here, the most important features to me are the performance improvements and the new Crystal Mode of operation. To see Windows 7 literally melt away so that only you only see the Windows program running next to your mac programs is simply brilliant!
In summary Parallels Desktop 5 sets a very high bar and a new standard in Virtualization software. The product offers an incredibly robust feature set, performance that is just amazing, and rock solid stability. I personally use Parallels Desktop 5 on both a MacPro and MacBookPro daily, and my experience has just been stellar! I for one will be interested to see how Parallels improves on this incredible release!
Having ordered two nooks (one already received) and another due right before Christmas, I am now second guessing my decision to buy this product. The feature list should have been a Kindle 2 killer – PDF Support, Lending Books, Color LCD, at the bottom of the display….. However speaking from owning a Kindle 2 and selling it the day the nook was announced might have been a mistake. Especially after several reviews that mostly trashed the nook. I decided to head over to a Barnes and Noble store to see one in person to see if what I was reading was true. By far the worst review I read/watched was from NY Times’ David Progue, but I also read some fairly decent reviews from WSJ, Money, and several technology blogs including CNET.
So with all of these comments (mostly negative) in mind, I tried to approach the very helpful lady and nook staring at me behind the nook display with an open mind. What I found to my surprise is that the nook actually faired better in my hands and opinion (a lot better) then what I had seen and read online.
I found the display to be easier on the eyes with the darker ink then my Kindle 2 was, and the form factor and the color LCD looks brilliant together and its extra weight actually felt like quality high-end product then “made in China” junk. The color LCD provided a beautiful way to navigate the OS and to me gave the nook more of a premium “iPhone” device feel to it instead of a plastic toy feel with pre-school buttons like the Kindle 2 keyboard. The menu options made sense to me and I was able to browse books, look at the store, buy a book, and open up sample PDF’s.
The so called “formatting issue” is definitely there but it was not as bad as I had read it to be and when I asked the nook lady about it, she explained that since each book has it’s own set of font’s embedded in the file the nook has to truly format the book for the device. So when I think about it that way, it actually is a step forward and brilliant because each book can choose it’s own font and control it’s appearance. That (to the best of my knowledge) is not something the Kindle 2 did so there was never any formatting that needed to be done. Additionally this only happened the first time you loaded the book, and then on subsquently going to the book it just jumped right in like Kindle does. I suspect that with this capability of rending when the document is opened actually provides for a better reading experience and more accurate representation of a book or diagram (thinking PDF). While a little slow it was not something that would make me walk away from this device.
With regard to horrible “page turning experiences” it was slightly slower from what I remembered with the Kindle 2 but again nothing as bad as I had read. The ability to browse the store worked well and buying a book or magazine (in my base PC Mag) worked well, putting them into a queue and automatically notified me when they were done downloading. Overall right on par with the Kindle 2.
Concerning battery life – “David Progue – Please stand up so I can slap you” – His statement 7 days Kindle 2 verse 2 days nook, is a complete mis-representation. The nook will last 10 days with just the book and 3G Wireless turned on, if you leave WIFI on it drops to 2 days. There really is no reason to leave WIFI on unless your hanging out at a Barnes and Noble store and if so it is very easy to go into the color LCD and turn the WIFI on as needed. Additionally the fact that the nook does not have a browser – well get over it. The Kindle 2 had one – it was a joke and besides. I have an iPhone a MacBookPro if I really want to surf the web, i’m certainly not going to do it on an e-reader!
After spending almost an hour playing with the nook at the Barnes and Noble store I feel I could easily lose the nook in my hands, the page turning experience and the buttons to turn pages felt natural and unobtrusive to me. The color LCD quickly disappears out of site and the backlight goes out quickly so it just melts away from being distracting to your eyes. Being a Kindle user since the original Kindle came out what 2 years ago – well the user interface experience is completely different on the nook and I kept trying to approach this device like a kindle. Once I got around that I found the UI to be very easy to use and self explanatory. Barnes and Noble – if your reading this – Do yourself a favor – Create a “Getting to know your nook video” that walks the user through the most common functions or using the nook coming form the Kindle. Just a thought.
The device does show it’s 1.0 heritage in the software and I do agree that you can “build up a series of commands” so that you watch while your nook is off doing anything but what you intended. While I can see this could become very annoying, being aware of this is half the battle. I would like to think that between Android 2.0 and nook software updates this issue will pass.
I did ask about the “Book Lending Issue” and the helpful B&N lady was right there to explain that the company plans had really fallen victim of the publishers and they were still working on this. So let’s just hope that with time these restrictions get relaxed because it’s really is a great idea and was a selling point to me.
So now with this information and some time to play with a nook in my hands – did I make the wrong decision? – Absolutely not! I have to say that this device is getting a lot of unfair press and poor reviews, which is really too bad and unfair. I would encourage anyone who like me was second guessing themselves to find a Barnes and Noble store and check it out. I also have to give wonderful kudos to my new friend the “nook lady” at the store. She was super friendly, knew her product in and out, and was completely up to speed on what was being said about this new device, and was able to talk openly about the reviews and provide me solid explanations. With this new information in hand, Christmas is now feeling just that much further away and I once again feel like that 10 year old boy, I once was.
In honor of Rochester’s 175th Anniversary, the City of Rochester and the Veterans Outreach Center will present a special Veterans Day Concert featuring the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and special guests under the direction of Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to shoot the GigaPans for this historic event in Rochester, and want to offer a special thank you to Gary Walker from the City to take the time to explain what a GigaPan is and introduce me to the audience. The picture below represent the GigaPans I was able to capture for during the event and if you want to create your own snapshots you can click on them.
If you want to take your own snapshots, the screencast below will provide you an overview of what to do and how to share them with friends and family.
If you attended this event, I hope you enjoyed it and this two photographs will provide a special memory for you and your loved ones.
Whenever I go out to shoot a Virtual 360 Tour, the elements when shooting that I pay close attention to are accuracy of focus, proper exposure, and placement of the equipment. This is critical so that when the 12 photos are stitched together the software produces a flawless panoramic photograph that can be viewed giving the user a “of feeling of being there”.
Some examples of my more recent 360 Virtual Tours can be seen here:
Shooting a GigaPan has some of the same challenges as a 360 Virtual Tour along with a few others. First and foremost instead of 12 pictures a GigaPan ends up being several hundred photos. As a result of the large number of photographs that must be taken, a motorized computer controlled rotator must be used to both position the camera and actually shoot each photograph. However unlike a Virtual Tour both the exposure (amount of light the camera sees) and the focus point of each picture ends up being set manually and fixed to the same settings for every one of those hundreds of photographs! This is done to help the stitching software create the GigaPan. Finally the lens is set to maximum focal length (Zoomed In) so that each picture is taken as close up as possible, which allows the “Snapshot” effect to work when you view the GigaPan on GigaPan.org.
In preparation of this critical photo shoot on Veterans Day for the City of Rochester, I spent the afternoon today at the Blue Cross Arena determining how best to configure the camera. Also key here was to determine where the best vantage point would be to take this GigaPan, knowing the critical element of this picture really is YOU the audience! So below is a video of my adventures today at the Blue Cross Area, and below that is what I produced as a result of my testing.
GigaPan from Todays Efforts
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and I look forward to seeing you and hopefully “catching YOU in a little bit of history”, so that your families will be able to enjoy and share the experience too!