My Thoughts on the iPad

First off:
For a poll on your thoughts about the iPad, pay a visit to the UT McCombs Today blog at the following link.
http://blogs.mccombs.utexas.edu/mccombs-today/

The iPad is less of a differentiated product, and more of a combination and middle ground between laptops and smart phones. Steve Jobs emphasized this early on in the iPad unveiling.

That being said, Apple is great at marketing, and the iBooks software coupled with the newspaper apps are a big selling point. But Apple left a lot of room for the product to grow and change in future generations. The addition of a forward facing camera and quality microphone would make the iPad an excellent device for voice over IP. Furthermore, where is the support for magazines? If you are going to support other forms of print media, you may as well get magazines on your side.

Although Apple left a lot of room for improvement, I believe the iPad still has the power and the following to bring e-readers to the forefront and potentially change the way print media is consumed.

As a side note, I am personally quite unhappy with having to wait an extra 30 days, and pay an extra $130 for the ability to have 3G access, not to mention a monthly fee to AT&T on top of my cellphone bill and media plan for my BlackBerry.

Social Media and Business

Continuing with Twitter and social networking’s uses in the business world, the first 30 minutes and last 15 minutes of the video at this link discuss the changing world of the Internet as well as how to capitalize on these networks for marketing.

http://www.steverubel.com/presentation-communicating-in-the-age-of-stre

The article preceding the video summarizes the last 15 minutes of the video in talking about how the web is shifting from “pages” to “streams” like Twitter, Facebook, Blogrolls, etc. The middle portion of the video discusses Seesmic Look. The new Twitter desktop program from Seesmic, Look will allow people without Twitter accounts to get nearly full benefits of the site minus the ability to post.

The first 30 minutes of the video are a presentation from Razorfish, a marketing firm who has advised multiple companies on how to use social media for marketing. The speaker gives a great example of how Best Buy has shifted from a simple brand, advertising on paper and the internet with just prices and products, to a fully “social brand” that deals almost completely person to person. (e.g. Twelpforce)

Thanks to @DIatx for the article

Interesting Observation Sparked by MIS

As I was reviewing the portfolio I created for my first MIS assignment, I saw an interesting trend in the NASDAQ Composite today.  Although the index is up overall for the day, different stocks have moved in different ways, very typical of the market.  However, upon further inspection most of the stocks (at least in my portfolio) for companies dealing in hardware are up for the day, whereas those dealing with software are down.  Just thought I’d share my thoughts. 

Hopefully more reviews to come soon.  Until then please feel free to leave comments to give me something to talk about.

Toshiba NB 205 Netbook

About a month ago, I received a Toshiba NB 205 Netbook, after a good amount of use I believe I have enough knowledge to review it.

There are a few major components of a Netbook:

Speed
With Windows 7 Starter, the OS is fast, and the Toshiba runs very smoothly with few hiccups.  Good startup time for the PC and the programs, and amazing shutdown speed.

Keyboard
The keyboard is 95% the size of a normal fullsize qwerty, but it is hard to tell the difference.  This is especially true due to the space left between the keys and the fact that they are raised, so it is easier to feel separation.  As one with fairly large hands, I can safely say I have an easier time typing on this computer than I do on any size MAC. (Can Apple please utilize more space for their keyboard? Honestly)

Battery Life
Maybe the most important thing when it comes to netbooks is portability, and the most important part of portability is by far battery life.  Well, have no worries, Toshiba knows what netbook customers need, and the NB 205 offers 9 hours of battery life.  I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Is it really 9 hours, or is that just what is advertised?”  I’m here to tell you there is still truth in advertising at least somewhere, and by the time my battery gets to 10%, it has been about 8 1/2 hours, I’d say that’s pretty good when I’m running internet through wifi the majority of the time.

Conclusion
The Toshiba NB 205 may be your best bet for a netbook right now.  With great portability, a 10.1″ screen, the best keyboard available, and one of the best battery lifes out there, if you’re in the market for a netbook, this one has my recommendation.

Windows 7 Starter

I received a Toshiba netbook for my birthday recently (a hardware review is coming soon) and it came installed with Windows 7 Starter edition, so I thought I’d give my thoughts on this version of the OS. (For more on Windows 7 in general, see my Windows 7 Review)

Windows 7 Starter contains most of what Windows 7 Ultimate has to offer, just a little watered down.  The ease of use is still present and is very effective for minimalist pc users who are seeking simply to surf the internet and compose short documents.  The speed of Windows 7 really shines with Starter, quick start-up times and faster run times are key for netbooks, which seek to maximize portability.  No one wants to move from place to place, putting your pc to sleep and having to wait minutes for it to wake up at your next time of use.

The media additions to 7 Ultimate are not all present in 7 Starter, but once again, Starter is for minimalists.  If you are going to be working with media, you need a faster, larger pc, and Windows 7.  (Honestly, if you’re working with media, you should get a MAC, but I digress…)

Windows 7 Starter is great for those who use a PC for pleasure and just want something faster with which to work.  If you want extras and nuances, go for a bigger version of Windows 7, if you have access to Ultimate, give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

I’m a PC, and if Windows 7 was partially my idea, like Microsoft is claiming in their ads, why didn’t I get any money?????

Modern Warfare 2

Maybe the most hype ever put into a game, does Modern Warfare 2 measure up? Not only measure up to the hype, but measure up to Call of Duty 4 and the standard that Infinity Ward has set for itself with previous COD games.  The short answer is not only does it meet these expectations, it greatly exceeds them.

Graphics:
Superb on all systems.  Indeed IW has built upon an already great engine, there is so much happening  onscreen that it seems hectic, at the same time it draws you into the action.  The craziness on screen makes the game all that more real, not to mention Infinity Ward truly upped the pacing this time around: not so much as to change the feel, but enough to make it real.  When it comes to multiplayer (a place where graphics are normally watered down to make for a smoother online experience) Modern Warfare 2 defies odds and presents as much splendor in multiplayer graphics as it does in single player and special ops modes.

Sound:
Never before has a score captured my attention like the one set behind this game.  Yes the sound effects add to realism and they are spot on, many taking a complete overhaul from COD: 4, but when the music builds just as you hear the scream of a predator drone dropping a guided missile, and you turn to see an entire building burst, your heart pounds and you jump to the edge of your seat.  Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer has truly succeeded in taking the player’s experience to a new level.  I see another award in Zimmer’s future, this time for his work on a video game.

Gameplay:

1.  Singleplayer:
The singleplayer campaign mode is the foundation of the Call of Duty series, especially Infinity Ward’s chapters.  Going into the realm of Modern Warfare has allowed the development team to create their own story, instead of retelling history with a World War II game.  This time around the crew has set a new bar for the story in the singleplayer, and brings back the best controls ever to come in a first-person shooter.  The game is more refined than Call of Duty 4, ridding itself of many issues in 4’s singleplayer (namely the infinite respawn points for enemies and the inept AI which now proves extremely helpful).

2.  Spec Ops:
A brand new mode for the COD franchise throws you and a friend (online or off) or you alone, into a variety of situations and missions to complete.  The missions range from a snowmobile race down a mountain to the revival of the AC 130 mission from COD 4, this time in a coop only mode.  One player sits in the gunship raining death from above while the other points out targets with a laser and makes his way to the barn at the end of the level.  Spec Ops is a unique experience and should influence many of Infinity Ward’s peers in bringing a new method of coop play into games.

3.  Multiplayer
Multiplayer has  become the backbone of the COD franchise, in fact, even weeks after the launch of MW2, many online gamers are still playing COD4 online.  No matter what brought you to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the multiplayer is what will have you addicted to this game for years to come.  Revamping the rewards system from the previous game and adding more unlockables only adds to the conditioning factor and addiction the game offers.  Without too much of a discourse (you may find one soon in another post) MW2 offers an unbelievable amount of experience and growth for your online profile that proves itself a huge factor in the retention of fans and players.

Bottom Line:
This game gets a 7/7 it is without a doubt legen…wait for it…dary.
From the graphics and sound to the gameplay, different modes and small nuances, this game is epic in every sense of the word.

Social Media Thoughts: Not a Review

Is Facebook Getting Too Old?

The new median ages of users on popular social media sites were released today.
LinkedIn:  39
Facebook: 33
Twitter:      31
MySpace:  26

The biggest news out of these is of course Facebook, which had a median age of 26 in May 2008.  For a social networking website that started for college students only, this is a big change in just a few years.  It will be interesting to see where “Millennials” or “Generation Y” will turn to next.  I know I was definitely shocked when my grandmother created a Facebook profile, but it didn’t make me leave.  Will something new attract the youth’s attention?

For starters, more “Milliennials” seem to be adding accounts on Twitter, a place that previously garnered the attention of older users.  Twitter is now, as I’m sure you noticed above, the second “youngest” of the top four social networking sites.  This is great news for Twitter as it means they are attracting more people in general, as well as more youth who spend way too much time with technology and on the web.

Google Concerns:
This is just speculation on my part, but I think Google’s Orkut would love to pull people away from fellow social networking websites.  Orkut, which has a minimum age requirement of 18, allows one to connect all of their google services together, there is even a new feature in the making that implements Google Wave (a revolutionary messaging and interactive email and document creating system that allows you to “Communicate and Collaborate in real time”).  Maybe Orkut will be able to work something out with Facebook and steal the older users of the community away, or else today’s impatient youth (of which I am definitely part) will find somewhere else to be.

On a side note, Google, I really would like an invite to Wave so I can review it, and just use it.  I feel like anyone who watches your entire video (they aren’t lying when the link says loooooooong video) should get an invite.  I think that if you garner enough users, Wave can revolutionize business communication and group work in any capacity.

Windows 7 Review

I no longer have to find ways to waste time while my computer starts or shuts down, gone are many of my speed issues, and my overall usage of my computer is just simpler-more convenient.  I thought I’d start this new blog with a review of a new product.  I recently installed Windows 7 Ultimate, upgrading from Windows Vista Home Premium, and I couldn’t be happier with the performance.

My Final Moments with Vista

The day before I installed Windows 7, my computer was running slower than Morgan Spurlock after 30 days of nothing but Mickey D’s. I was exhausted from staring at my computer screen and waiting for Google Chrome to run or even just for my last click to register with the operating system so that something could happen.

Installation

I chose to install Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit version throughout the night.  I have an HP Pavilion dv9000.  What I would call an upper middle class PC, with 2GB of RAM and 2 GHz of processing speed, so I didn’t think the upgrade process would take long, but I do have quite the store of files and applications that needed to migrate into 7.  I am very happy to say that I don’t believe the install process took longer than 2-3 hours, I was asleep so I don’t know the exact time. The only hiccup I had with the install was that Windows 7 asked me to uninstall some Verisoft software that lets me login to my computer with a fingerprint scanner, but this can be easily reinstalled.  All of my files transferred with no corruption that I can find, and all of my applications migrated to the new OS successfully. (Note: I was upgrading from Vista, and not XP.  From XP a clean install is necessary, deleting files and applications on your hard drive.)
As an added bonus, Windows 7 reminded me to deauthorize my computer from the iTunes Store before installation.  Had I not done so, I would have wasted one of the five machines that Apple allows you to authorize because I would not have been able to access the essentially dead former self of my computer.  Thanks Microsoft.

My First Moments with 7

Where Vista was slow (nearly everywhere) Windows 7 runs as fast as Michael Moore runs to the next  political issue.  Gone are many of the useless pop-ups of security warnings for things that are just normal occurences (one of the biggest annoyances of Vista, and a big time waster).

New Features:
1.  The snap feature makes resizing takes almost no time.  If you want to work on two things at once you can drag a window to one side or another, when the arrow hits the side of the screen, the window resizes to fit that half of the screen.  To maximize you drag the window to the top of the screen and the same auto-resize happens.  Lastly, you can resize to have the window be the full height of the screen without changing width by resizing the window to either the top or bottom and the other side will stretch on its own.
2.  The shake feature effectively clears the screen except for the window you have selected.
3.  The taskbar has been redesigned.  You can now choose programs to stay in the taskbar by “pinning” them there.  “Pinned” programs are essentially in a quick-launch bar.  This allowed Microsoft to scrap the quick-launch bar for more room in the taskbar.  Windows 7 also gives more room to the taskbar by eliminating the text on minimized and pinned programs.
4.  A new preview function lets you scroll over the programs in the taskbar and see small pictures of the open windows from that program.  If you scroll over the preview, you can see the window as it appears on the desktop while all other windows become invisible, click on the preview and the window comes to the front.

Overall Impression

So far, Windows 7 has been nothing short of amazing.  I can get things done faster, it takes less thought and action to use the interface, and multi-tasking has never been easier.  Although I did not mention all of the things that Windows 7 has to offer, I covered what I think are the most useful aspects thus far.  Expect more comments and maybe some additions of other cool things 7 has to offer to come as I continue using the Microsoft’s new OS.  I’m proud to say, I’M A PC.