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#666: Mac Treat #120: vCards, iPad is Angelic, iPhone OS 4, It's Contest Time and more!

 
     
 

Dear Friends,

I got my iPad on Saturday at the launch and Small Dog Electronics sold out of our initial stock at our S. Burlington store within 26 minutes of store opening. We have since replenished stock and currently have inventory in both of our retail locations. I’ve been taking the time to get used to my new friend and have decided to travel to China on Sunday with only my iPad. I will not be taking a computer with me. It feels a little bit like taking a brand new motorcycle on a cross country trip.

I have been getting samples of cases for the iPad from our suppliers and we have chosen a design for a neoprene sleeve as well as some very nice leather cases. I have been testing one of the samples and we have made some refinements that I will discuss with the factory when I visit next week. I hope to have these new Hammerhead products very soon.

I grabbed one of the Apple Bluetooth keyboards to take with me on the trip, and downloaded some interesting applications and some books from the iBook store and also from Amazon’s Kindle store. I have also bought Pages and Numbers for the iPad so I can work on documents and of course, downloaded MLB 2010 so I can keep track of the Cubbies. Check out more of my initial reactions below.

Hapy and I have a series of bets for things like hand washing the others car or plane tix and game tickets depending upon how the Cubs and the Giants do. Betting money with Hapy is sort of meaningless since we are partners at Small Dog; it is sort of like taking money out of one pocket and putting into another. Today, I had to wear a Lakers Jersey because the Lakers had a better record than the Celtics, for example. (But then again, I do have the picture of Hapy wearing Celtics garb after the championship a couple of years ago.)

 
     
  MAC TREAT #120: Use vCards for Easy Contact Management  
   
 

Recently my good friend Andrea purchased a new MacBook Pro. It was fairly easy for her to migrate data from the old Mac to the new one, which one important exception: her Daylite contacts couldn’t be accessed on the new machine. Fortunately, she still had the old Mac, and was able to access Daylite contacts on that machine. But how to get the contacts over to the new machine? vCards to the rescue!

vCards are electronic versions of old-fashioned Rolodex cards. They provide the fastest way to import contacts into your Mac’s Address Book app, or to share your Address Book contacts with friends, family, or colleagues. vCards contain basic contact information (such as name, address, phone, and email). They can also contain information such as including URLs, photos, or logos.

The vCard format works cross-platform with many contacts programs, including Microsoft Outlook and Gmail, making it easy to exchange contacts with people who don’t use Address Book in Mac OS X.

Apple recently published a Pro tip about vCards and address book that is worth sharing:

To export a vCard from Address Book on your Mac, just highlight the contact and drag it to your desktop or directly into an email. (The file icon even looks like a Rolodex card.) To import a vCard into Address Book, drag the card-shaped icon into your open Address Book application or onto the Address Book icon in your Dock or Applications folder. Address Book opens (if not already open) and asks you to verify the import. Click Import to have Mac OS X store the vCard’s contact information in Address Book.

Share contacts by dragging vCards to and from Address Book.

Want to export more than one contact from Address Book? Just Command-click to select multiple contacts, and drag them to the desktop or into an email. This method collects all the highlighted contacts in a single vCard file. (Note that although Address Book allows you to export multiple contacts in a single file, Microsoft Outlook only lets you import a single contact per file.)

When you drag this combined vCard into Address Book, all the contacts are added at once as separate Address Book contacts. So with vCards and Address Book, it’s as easy to share a large group of names as it is to share a single contact.

Back to Andrea and the Daylite dilemma. We that discovered Daylite can export contacts as vCards. From there it was a simple matter of exporting all the Daylite contacts as a group vCard, which she simply emailed to herself. On the new MacBook Pro, she simply double clicked on the group vCard, and added all her Daylite contacts to her Mac’s Address Book. She could then sync those contacts with her iPhone.

 
     
  Contest Time!  
   
 

Random Facebook, Twitter and newsletter winners!
For the next two weeks, we are going to be giving away an iPod gift pack to a random winner (three total) from our Facebook fans, Twitter followers and our newsletter subscribers.

If you’re not already in our Facebook group, you can join here:
Small Dog Electronics on Facebook.

Not on Facebook? Sign up here.

Do you use Twitter? We post Mac tips, tricks, news, contests and more on our Twitter feed. Click here to follow us on Twitter.

Of course, many thanks to all of you who read our newsletters every week. We haven’t forgotten you—we’re pulling a random subscriber from Kibbles & Bytes to win as well.

We’ll be announcing the winners in our 4/30 issue of Kibbles & Bytes. Good luck!

 
     
  iPhone OS 4 Preview  
   
 

On Thursday, Apple previewed iPhone OS 4, which they are calling “the biggest and most exciting iPhone software update yet.” It has to be, since the smartphone marketplace is vastly more competitive now then during any previous iPhone release.

iPhone OS 4 will include over 100 new user features for iPhone and iPod touch owners to enjoy. A new software development kit (SDK) offers over 1500 new APIs for developers to create apps that are “even more powerful, innovative, and amazing.” A developer beta is available now.

iPhone OS 4 will ship this summer for iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and the second- and third-generation iPod touch and for iPad in the fall. Not all features of iPhone OS 4 are compatible with all devices. For example, the new multitasking feature will be available only with iPhone 3GS and the third-generation iPod touch (32GB and 64GB models from late 2009). It’s not clear if some or any iPhone 4.0 features will be supported by the first generation iPhone, alas.

Click here to watch the Keynote video.

With iPhone OS 4, iPhone owners will enjoy over 100 new features that make it easier to interact with apps, manage email, read books, and more. New features include the following:

Multitasking – Developers will have access to seven multitasking services, which will allow tasks to be performed in the background while preserving performance and battery life. So you’ll be able to make a Voice over IP call while playing a game or checking email, find a restaurant on Urbanspoon while listening to Pandora, and more.

Game Center – Game Center is Apple’s new social gaming network. Users can invite friends to play a game, start a multiplayer game through matchmaking, track their achievements, and compare high scores on a leader board. (We think this will be huge.)

Folders – Organize apps into folders with drag-and-drop simplicity. Get faster access to your favorites and browse and manage up to 2160 apps at once—many more than the current limit of 180 apps.

Even Better Mail – See messages from all your email accounts displayed together in a unified inbox, switch between inboxes more quickly, organize messages by threads, and even open attachments in third-party apps.

iBooks – The best way to browse, buy, and read books on a mobile device. Easily flip through the pages of a book you’ve downloaded from the iBookstore while listening to your music collection. Browse tens of thousands of books—many of them free—by title, author, or genre. You can even check out reviews and read sample pages before you buy.

iAd – A breakthrough mobile advertising platform from Apple. With it, apps can feature rich media ads that combine the emotion of TV with the interactivity of the web. For developers, it means a new, easy-to-implement source of revenue. For advertisers, it creates a new media outlet that offers consumers highly targeted information. (Some people think this will be terribly obnoxious. We’re waiting to see, as it could be a boon for developers. And if it really is annoying, iPhone sales will suffer. Apple isn’t likely to let that happen.)

 
     
  Prepping My iPad  
   
 

My initial reactions to the iPad are almost all positive; I see areas for improvement but using the iPad is just a pleasurable experience. I’ve been taking it to meetings and drew quite a crowd when I was down at the State House today for some meetings.

In preparation for my trip abroad, I have set up some applications that you might find useful. The first was IM+ ($9.99; link opens iTunes) which is an integrated instant messaging application. It has some awesome features, including an integrated web browser and will handle just about all of the instant messaging accounts. It has one bug that is pretty annoying, though—it will not work with Apple’s Jabber server and legacy SSL. I am hoping they fix that soon, but I have a work around with BeeJive ($9.99; link opens iTunes).

Setting up VPN to get into the Small Dog internal network was very simple and is quite stable. I used another application called Desktop Connect ($11.99; link opens iTunes) to activate VNC so I can log into my main computer which I will leave at the office. This means I can grab a file or look at my keychain.

Mail is faster than the mail client on the Mac for some things like filing mail, however, the lack of a junk filter and support for rules makes maintenance more difficult. The unified mail client that is coming in the fall with iPhone OS 4.0 will also be useful.

There is so much I love about the iPad that I do not have time to talk about it all, but I will be updating this adventure in computing from China and when I return. I believe that having the iPad on the 18-hour flight will make it shorter and I am confident that for email, web and of course, the China train schedule application I downloaded, it is going to be a perfect traveling tool.

 
     
  iPad Impressions (Hands-On Version)  
   
 

I really want to write a full iPad review for this week’s Kibbles & Bytes. But I have to be honest—my thoughts are biased in favor of “I love it! It’s amazing! This is both a new kind of computing and the future of computing!”

I’ve yet to see someone who isn’t impressed with iPad when they start using it—even the dyed-in-the-wool iPad doubters and Apple haters. It’s a simple and very, very well-built device. It feels solid in the hand, like it will last a long time.

And I will emphatically say that iPad isn’t just a “big iPod touch,” because now iPod touch seems more like “just a small iPad.” And it’s excellent to be able to use certain touch-based apps on a larger screen.

I admit that iPad seems to be made just for me, as I have long desired an affordable handheld digital reader that can access the Internet at any time. I’m a reading junkie. There is a lot of web-based content and content wrapped in PDFs that I’d like to read, but simply don’t enjoy reading on my computer. I’m in front of a traditional computer enough. iPad puts that content into my hands. For me, it’s far more comfortable to read a handheld device with traditional font sizes than text from a computer. So far, iPad helps me focus more on the content I’m reading— with better information retention—than reading on a regular Mac.

But iPad obviously offers much more than an easy and enjoyable way to read digital material. It’s a blob of digital clay. As many have said, make of it what you will.

Finally, one of the most interesting things about iPad is how it raises existential questions about technology in a certain group of reviewers. iPad leads people down a path of questioning from “Who is this device for? and “How can I use it?” to “Do I really need or want more technology in my life? If so, why?”

Here are some new iPad reviews that are thought-provoking and cover all the bases:

TidBITS: Why the iPad Is a Blank Slate, and Why That’s Important.

Daringfireball.net: The iPad.

Arstechnica.com: Full Review.

New York Times: The iPad in the Eyes of the Digerati.

 
     
  iPad Reaction from Facebook & Twitter  
   
 

Here are some thoughts from some of our Twitter followers and Facebook friends about iPad.



FaceBook

Travis H. First impression of iPad… is to wait. No Flash support in Safari, No external ports, and a non-wide screen display… [It’s] not clear who the target audience is? But my photography does look incredible on it…

George B. Yes—very impressive product! My wife has been using it for hours.

Nancy A. I love mine! Arrived about noon on Saturday. Synced a couple movies, TV shows, music and photos. Bought a book (to see how that works). Apps bought and loaded. Twenty minutes later I was snug as a bug in a rug with a mug of hot tea and a copy of Sense and Sensibility (free book!) on my lap. WONDERFUL!

I’m not looking for high-techiness. Mostly just wanted a good ereader. I’ve used the iBook program AND the Kindle for iPad. I love iBook more—turning the page is an art form in itself! I’ve found all the books I teach in Western Lit. I had heard about back-lighting issues and such, but playing with the adjustments (Accessibility has a button to turn the black/white screen) lessened any residual glow and I read myself to sleep last night without bugging my darling husband.

I bought a VGA adapter so I can do Keynote presentations in the classroom. I can’t wait to go on vacation without lugging all the books I like to read (usually bring about six books—one to finish, one to start, and a few in case I realize the books I brought suck… ha ha ha). I’ve had no issues with Wi-Fi or recharging. Apps from my iPhone work fine—even Bejeweled2 (just hit the 2x button). As you can tell, I am HAPPY!

Debby C. I love Weatherbug, Star Walk (beautiful night sky/constellations, IMDB… loaded ePub and PDF books (ReaddleDocs reader), downloaded Jane Austen also! Safari is a bit buggy with some sites where it works on Mac OS X. Otherwise, email, maps, Twitterific, makes it one hot device! Small book stand purchased for $12 at Staples holds it very nicely upright on the desk, as well as purchased a $20 netbook case. Loving it!

Michael B. I’m LOVING my iPad. It arrived on Saturday, and I’ve added close to four pages of apps (mostly free; however, I did purchase Pages). I teach English and would love to have a true word processing app that is more in line with what I’m used to using. Pages is okay, but it needs some additional functionality to make it appropriate for teachers. I see the Blackboard has an app. Unfortunately, my school uses D2L. An app there would be perfect!



Twitter

@MikeLuoma Would like to point out you can get books by #vt authors thru iBooks for the iPad… like mine. ;) #BTV

@DrKoob No problem. I am lusting after an iPad but have to wait for 3G. Reading everything I can find on it. That’s my experience.

@liseski My iPad experience in 140 characters or less[sic]? Easy. Not in Canada yet. :(

@Madmotion How about a photo!

@HeidiAmes 15yo dragged me to @hellosmalldog to see iPad. Oh boy. Tried to retain my usual nonchalant attitude, but secretly, I WANTED ONE.

 
     
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I am off to Hong Kong and to China to attend a couple of trade shows and to visit manufacturers. I’ll be looking for cool new products to import for later in the year and firming up plans for the Hammerhead line of iPad cases and screen protectors.

The weather here in Vermont has been incredibly mild for April with record-setting high temperatures. I hope that if there is going to be a late season snowstorm that it happens while I am gone!

I am reaching the home stretch on my Norton Commando project. I have gotten Mark, who is an electrical engineer in addition to a programming wiz to help me with the wiring and then it is just a matter of putting on the gas tank and trying to get it started. I hope I don’t have too many left over parts…

Thank you so much for reading this issue of Kibbles & Bytes!

Your Kibbles & Bytes team,
Don, Kali & Ed