Friday, 16 November 2012

Would you take your own advice?

I had a 35-40 min conversation with an ex-colleague and friend earlier today, and among the many things we discussed was smartphones and replacement computers.

Well wash my mouth out - I may have just recommended someone get an iPhone and a Mac.

My friend is smart, clever (not always the same thing) and an experienced manager and scientist, yet at the same he's not a computer nerd and sometimes struggles with changes in technology. He's been using the same Dell laptop and Nokia candybar for the last 4 years, and they're both getting pretty tired, to the point where they are starting to look a bit 'unprofessional'. He also travels with his computer, and the Dell is a big lump to lug with its extended battery pack.

So we discussed options.

The very worst is the present one I have: Android phone and Apple computer. The lack of compatibility and synchronisation is terrible, and I've still not spent the hours necessary to remove the many hundreds of duplicated contacts created by the Macbook when it tried to sync between entourage & contacts, then contacts and the phone.

So we talked about phones first. The thing is, he wants a small phone with a large screen. He wants a phone that's small and light enough to carry comfortably in a trouser or shirt pocket with a screen that's large enough to read emails, web pages and articles on. If possible it would be big enough to take around instead of a computer. His wife has an Android phone, but he's stayed well clear until now.

In the end I suggested either an ultrabook (lightweight windows based laptop that's somewhere between an ordinary laptop and a Macbook air for those who don't know) or a Macbook like mine, plus either an Android/WinPho to go with the windows machine or an iPhone for the Macbook. To be honest I think my friend is a natural candidate for Apple, as he's a man who needs to do without wanting to worry about how it's done. But he's also not rolling in cash, and apple solutions do require an excess of green stuff to be thrown at the various toys and accessories that make life 'easy'. I could well imagine this little lot costing £2000 if bought outright.

But even so, wash my mouth out!

It may also be a sign that making the jump to Snow Leopard and an SSD was a good thing. Somehow the little changes that have been made between 10.5 and 10.8 have made it less intrusive and plain annoying, and as such much more bearable. I STILL wonder if I could actually work using a Linux install running Office under WINE, except that wouldn't solve the phone issues. My present contract expires at the end of the year and I'm also going to have to make some similar decisions, considering that the Macbook is 4 years old too.

We'll see.


  1. The strangely ironic thing is Android doesn't seem to work very well with Linux, either. I have a difficult time mounting my phone or tab on my laptop. They mount automatically on XP (on the same machine)

    The new Windows 8 phones look very sexy. I have questions about the ecosystem at this point, being so new and all. But I just got a new 'droid, so maybe in 18-20 months I'll be in the market again. Still, the new Google Nexus devices look very attractive as well.

    I just don't see Apple products as being worth the premium price at this point. The hardware is - in a nutshell - terrible. Hard drives crashing, AirPort cards not working, connectivity issues on the phones. My Mac-head friends act like these issues never happen, even as they drive an hour to the Apple store to get their device repaired.

  2. Thanks Mike. I agree that it's curious about Android & Linux not instantly meshing, but I guess that's because Android was only every shaped for Windows. No idea how well the windows phones would work, if at all, and knowing the antipathy to windows devices most Linux developers have I'd think it unlikely much work will be done to make the fit.

    As for Apple stuff, as far as I can see the real USP about iDevices is the possibility of music creation - and of course syncing with Macintoshes. There's nothing else special now that I can see, and Apple does now seem happy to roll out stuff that's known to be sub-par (as opposed to pushing it out without knowing like in the bad old days).


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