Cutting The Strings: The Push To Go Wireless – My MacBook Review


CNET reports that Apple is once again shaking things up and changing the computer game.  

“Ready or not, Apple’s new MacBook is cutting the computing industry’s cables.

The slim laptop has just a single USB port, the new tiny Type-C variety that’s slowly popping up in devices this year. It’s a multipurpose port that connects to external devices like hard drives, runs video to TVs and external monitors, and supplies the laptop with power when it’s charging time.

The new USB port is remarkably flexible, but it’s still just one port. For those who need to attach printers, Ethernet cables, external hard drives, cameras, monitors, keyboards, mice, TVs, game controllers and tablets, that might seem confining”

UPDATE: So, I got the sexy, gold MacBook. Here’s my review:

When I moved into my new workspace I bought the new iMac. Love, love, love it.  But to not be tied to my desk, I needed a light weight laptop. Now, my MacBook pro is a BEAST, but it’s heavy and not the best portable option. After a lot of research and comments from friends, I decided on a brand new MacBook. I landed on the gold one because I like to be different and it matches my iPhone.

So here’s the thing. The MacBook is small, portable, light laptop. That alone gets five stars from me. Sometimes I need a break from my office to chill on the rooftop of the office building or if I’m at home, I often like to work in my backyard. I also will work just about any place that has free WiFi. Having something lightweight is a must. Portability aside, the speed, memory and battery life on the MacBook is superb and the retina screen anti-glare is everything. But this is a portable laptop. It should not, in my opinion, be your one and only computer. If you are only going to buy one, get the MacBook Pro. I know it’s heavy, but it’s a BEAST and you cannot… simply can not… beat the speed and functionality for the price. Mine is three years old and it is still going strong. Now, it’s an old 17-inch (funny how three years is old in the lifetime of a computer) so it’s heavy as crap. That’s why I got the sexy, light, MacBook.

In regards to not having a dedicated USB port, I have to admit, I’m not in love with that concept yet. I find myself transferring files back and forth via the Mac AirDrop even though I know the intention is to get us to use the cloud services more. I’ll get there. Baby steps.

FullSizeRenderUPDATE TO MY UPDATE: I’ve had my sexy MacBook a month now. I. Love. It. The battery life is killer. It’s lightweight enough to take everywhere and while my iMac and MacBook Pro remain my work horse computers, I’m all in with this MacBook.

Trends in Social Media: GO VISUAL!

Meet Geoff Livingston! Geoff is an author, public speaker and strategist who helps companies and nonprofits develop outstanding marketing programs. He brings people together, virtually and physically for business and change.  A former journalist, Geoff continues to write and has authored three books including the social media primer Welcome to the Fifth Estate.

Geoff organized the first Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington in 2011, an event that raised $2 million for more than 1000 nonprofits using online media tools. He also started and sold social media boutique Livingston Communications (2009). He has won awards from the Society of New communications Research, the American Marketing Association, the International Association of Business Communicators, as well as an Axiom Award for his book Now Is Gone.  Geoff is a regular conference keynote speaker and panelist. He has presented at Mashable, Social Media for Nonprofits Atlanta and Boston, MarketingProfs, SUPERCOMM, CES, Penton Media, TEDx Peachtree, Procter & Gamble, Comcast, Dell, the U.S. Army (three different commands) and many, many more!

Geoff Livingston’s Tips of The Trade:

How do you use social media in your work? –  “It’s obviously a key component of my work, but I find it’s less and less of it.  I am building out and managing programs for clients, how-tos if you would as well as strategies.

More often than not, I am teaching organizations how to integrate social into the larger whole so they can get better results out of it.  That’s their primary issue, how to do we get people to do more with us instead of Liking, Plussing, Hearting (or whatever else it might be). So, I am building content and calls-to-action for lead nurturing.”

What trends to you see in social media? – “More play to pay.  Specifically, it’s getting harder to be seen with branded activities even with what I would call natural and organic social media activities. High dollar content, ads, and native advertising will become more important with each month. And part of that are companies making a profit on what they are offering for free.

As long as the benefit outweighs the costs companies will keep playing, but some networks will certainly suffer engagement for this. I think Facebook is the obvious loser, but I think they feel have to do it to appease stockholders. That’s my assessment.”

What’s your best social media tip? – “Go visual.  If you can communicate it with photos, graphics and/or video, it’s going to have more legs. This is particularly true for consumer, low-dollar B2B services and products, and nonprofit activity. Deep text doesn’t work well on a  mobile phone, and most people won’t engage with it while they are out and about (Starbucks, Metro, etc.) unless they must.”

Computers in the Exam Room: A necessity or nuisance?

About a third of doctors are using electronic health records or EHRs. That’s double the number since 2008, says a report in the journal Health Affairs. What we are seeing is an increase of a lot more computers, smartphones and iPads making their way into patient’s exam rooms. But as doctors move more and more toward electronic recording keeping,they face one daunting challenge: How to bring electronic devises into the exam room without losing the human connection with their patients.

EHRs are considered the future of health care for good reason — they can help prevent medical errors.

The promise of these devices to augment the delivery of clinical care is tremendous,says Stanford’s Dr. Clarence Braddock.

Dr. Braddock uses a secure app on his iPad to pull up patient charts if he’s called after hours,no matter where he is. However,doctors must now be aware of their online etiquette and not let the gadgets become a challenge in the intimate exam room. If the doctor spends too much of your 15-minute visit typing or staring at a screen, you have to wonder: What if I have a symptom that just got missed? Is my Doctor even listening to me? I for one have these very notions when I’m sitting, exposed, in my gown, while my doctor or doctor’s assitant seems more interested in entering data into the computer than acutally talking to me about my problem.

Do gadgets have a place in the exam room or do you think they are a distraction?


Baratunde Thurstonisms at SXSW


You can almost measure the freedom of a society by its tolerance of satirists.

The code writer and the screenwriter have to work together.

There is room and need for artful ridicule and cultivated wit.

SXSW Keynote Speaker, Baratunde Thurston is a politically-active, technology-loving comedian from the future. He is also the author of How To Be Black and Director of Digital for at The Onion.

Email Turns 30 Years Old Today

The next time you hit “send” in your email account, think of 16-year old V. A. Shiva who copyrighted “EMAIL” along with “To: From: Cc: Bcc: Subject: Reply, Reply All, Forward” and Email body and attachment just 29 years ago today.  In celebration of electronic mail and the impact it has had on our every day lives, V. A. Shiva developed the below infographic depicting the history and growth of email and email accouts. 


Happy Birthday Email!

Electronic mail turns 30 years old today. Where would we be without email? Can you remember the very first person you emailed? I know I can’t. Heck, I can’t even remember the last person I emailed. What I do know is I would be lost without it. I will admit I’m no longer a fan of big email campaigns and I now share more things via social networking than I do through email but I still couldn’t start or end my day with out email communication. Here’s a look at how electronic mail got its start.

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On August 30th, 1982, 29 years ago, 16-year old V. A. Shiva copyrighted “EMAIL” along with the GUI we still use today with the fields “To: From: Cc: Bcc: Subject: Reply, Reply All, Forward” and Email body and attachment.

“When I first heard the word ‘electronic mail,’ I literally felt it was sending electricity through paper. Those two words juxtaposed together in 1978 were absolutely new,” says Shiva. While many claim to have “invented email” the issue isn’t just one of semantics. With electronic messaging systems in place, Shiva is responsible for having transformed what was known as office mail into the very first email system. “That is what I developed, starting in 1978, as a 14-year old, for which in 1981 I was awarded recognition by the Westinghouse Science Awards for innovation, and in 1982 the First US Copyright for EMAIL,” he writes.

“The guys before me we’re involved in text messaging. Messages sent from one computer to another computer. Before that Tom Van Vleck was the first to send a message within the same computer to another user in the mainframe. Leonard Kleinrock sent a message across two computers on the asme network. Ray Tomlinson sent a message across multiple users across multiple computers. But my concept of email was patently related to office mail. That’s what I built: a database, a networking infrastructure and software programming language for email,” said Shiva to me over a Skype call.

Nearly 30 years later and V. A. Shiva is now teaching a class at MIT called “Systems Visualization,” which is currently oversubscribed. It’s a cross discipline class that enables engineers to connect multiple subsystems.  built to educate MIT engineers on how to do that. The class aims to artistically answer, in drawing form, the design of services and concept. How do you build a health care system? Or how do we visualize human health in today’s advertising driven society? How do you innovate? How is innovation affected by cultural mores?

When asked about the future of email, Shiva thinks it’s here to stay, regardless of the rise of social media and text messaging. “I think email has a very particular purpose and I think it’s going to grow in that…Web mail might decline but devices will still access people’s email communications. Facebook may do some integrated email but fundamentally it will be email.

Ironically, even as Zuckerburg declares as some trade journals said, “EMAIL IS DEAD”, he is launching @Facebook as a direct challenge to GMail. He says it will have EMAIL in it, along with other types of “messaging.” Facebook produces billions of EMAIL messages everyday.”


Girl Scout Cookies Sales Have Gone High Tech!

How many times have you passed a stand of Girl Scots selling those yummy, once a year cookies only to realize you don’t have any cash on you? Well, about 200 troops in northeast Ohio are changing the way Girl Scouts do business and I hope it catches on across the entire nation. For the first time, the girls are accepting credit cards using a device called GoPayment, a free credit card reader that clips onto smart phones in hopes of getting customers who aren’t carrying cash to place orders for their cookies.

I love this idea! My hips don’t like the thought of it very much but my tastes buds are yelling, “three boxes of Thin Mints please.” These Girl Scouts are already Gadget Girls and well on their way to becoming Geek Divas!  Take a look…

The Broadband Space and Why You Should Care!

It’s hard to imagine a debate that might bore more people to tears than the one the governmental policies over airwave spectrum but it’s a hot topic and one that may ultimately impact you pocketbook. Here’s why…

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Everyone’s starting to realize that the 547 megahertz of spectrum that can be used for mobile broadband isn’t enough to accommodate the burgeoning number of consumers and businesses falling in love with smartphones, tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad, and other wireless communications devices.

“If we don’t act, the (wireless) consumer experience will be very frustrating,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said in an interview. “The congestion will be very significant.”

That means more dropped calls, slower transmission speeds, dead zones — and potentially high prices, with the heaviest mobile service users paying the most.

AT&T said this week that it agreed to pay $39 billion for T-Mobile to avoid getting caught in a spectrum crunch.

And you’ll probably hear a lot more about airwave policy as the federal government prepares to coax some spectrum from one of the most potent forces in politics: television broadcasters. They collectively control some of the biggest blocks of airwaves but don’t want to lose their ability to transmit video over the air and for free.

“This spectrum crunch exists in a few major metropolitan areas,” says National Association of Broadcasters CEO Gordon Smith. “It exists in Los Angeles, and it exists in New York. For someone living in Las Vegas or Kentucky, why should their over-the-air television service be obstructed so you can get a faster download of an app in New York City?”

The debate is intensifying, though, because demand for wireless broadband is soaring faster than you can download a movie from Netflix or stream music from Pandora. It will be 60 times greater in 2015 than it was in 2009, Cisco Systems projects.

“We have seen over the last four years, on our network alone, mobile broadband traffic has increased by 8,000%,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said this week. The company expects that demand to grow as much as 1,000% over the next five years, he adds.

A lot of that is because of the growing sophistication of mobile devices. A conventional wireless feature phone might only make it possible to play games or listen to music, in addition to handling voice calls and text messages. A smartphone, though, also enables users to watch videos and listen to turn-by-turn driving directions.

The result: A smartphone typically uses 24 times as much spectrum capacity as a regular cellphone. Nearly 66 million people own smartphones now, and that’s growing fast, research firm ComScore reports.

And tablets — which provide many of the same features of a smartphone but on a much bigger screen — can use 122 times more spectrum capacity as an ordinary cellphone. More than 82 million people will have a tablet in 2015, up from 10.3 million last year, Forrester Research projects.

“It would be nice if we had a warehouse of spectrum that wasn’t being used that we could put on the market to meet this demand,” Genachowski says. “But we don’t.”

Wireless broadband goals

Still, President Obama pledged in his State of the Union Address in January to do what’s needed to help the country take advantage of the revolution in mobile communications.

“Within the next five years,” Obama said, “we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans.”

AT&T general counsel Wayne Watts told Wall Street analysts that the company’s proposed deal with T-Mobile would “help to achieve the president’s wireless broadband goal.” The company says that by combining its resources with T-Mobile’s, it could offer wireless high-speed Internet to an additional 46 million people.

It remains to be seen whether that argument will resonate at the FCC and Justice Department. The two agencies must decide whether the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile — reducing the number of major wireless carriers to three — would serve the public interest without making mobile services substantially less competitive.

In any case, the Obama administration is determined to redeploy spectrum. Last year, the president called on the FCC and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to find 300 MHz over five years, and 500 MHz over the next decade, for mobile and fixed broadband services. That would be about 25 times the spectrum devoted to FM radio.

The agencies are studying how spectrum is being used to see where it can be reassigned. For example, some might come from frequencies controlled by the government or from implementing technologies that would enable current services to be handled in less airspace.

But the FCC hopes to kick-start its effort by securing 120 MHz from television stations. The agency wants some stations to voluntarily give up their spectrum in return for a share of the proceeds when the frequencies are auctioned.

The hope is that this deal would appeal to many marginal TV stations, including those that feature home shopping or religious programming.

They might lose only a few viewers if they become pay-TV services, the thinking goes: About 90% of viewers subscribe to cable or satellite TV, which offer local broadcast programming in addition to pay-TV channels such as CNN, USA and ESPN.

“It’s a win-win approach,” Genachowski says. “It frees up spectrum fast. … And it’s a win for broadcasters, who would get fair compensation for getting out of the business, or going to cable only, or sharing spectrum with another broadcaster in the market.”

Although two stations can co-exist on one channel, they might not both be able to offer the best high-definition signals or, potentially, 3-D TV.


SXSWi 2010 Geek Diva Recap

It’s that time of year again when thought leaders, power users, creatives and the best in technology and innovation get together at South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas to exchange ideas.  As we once again prepare to converge on SXSW for the Interactive track let’s look back at the Geek Divas who shared their takeaways from SXSWi 2010.  Some of the roles and titles have changed; many of our takeaways from last year are even more relevant today.  However, one thing remains exactly the same, we will all come together to meet up IRL, we will share ideas, we will network and we will have a great time geeking out together.

Take a look at where we were last year and if you’ll be there this year… look for us… because SXSW… here we come!


Get More From Your iPad

Did you know that you can stream movies from your PC to the iPad, use it as a secondary monitor, connect USB speakers and keyboards? Here are some ways to get even more use out of your iPad.

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Turn Your iPad into a Secondary Desktop Display

With its big, high-resolution display, it’s a shame to just park an iPad when switching to a computer. Instead, Air Display ($10) makes your iPad a second screen for your Mac, extending the desktop. The tool has just been submitted to the App Store and should be released soon; I checked out a beta.

You install a utility on the computer and connect with the Air Display System Preference. (It’s Mac-only at launch, but a Windows version is coming.) The iPad then behaves just like an extra screen. You reposition it in the Displays System Preference like a real monitor, in a portrait or landscape view. Although it lags a little when showing video, it refreshes quickly enough for most work. You can even tap on the iPad to click.

If you can’t wait for Air Display’s release, you can check out iDisplay ($5) now. But this buggy competitor needs an update to match Air Display’s ease.

Stream Movies From Your PC

Air Video--click for full-size image.Air Video can stream 720p video from your PC, and convert transcode video formats in real time.

Even if you bought the largest-capacity iPad, if it can’t fit all of your videos, it’s too small. Instead of trying to cram everything into the device, you can stream videos from a local or online PC. The process has one main caveat; if you bought movies or TV shows from the iTunes store, DRM restrictions block those files. (Podcasts and music videos should work.). But you can watch your own videos or DRM-free downloads without taking up iPad storage.

Of the many options available, I like Air Video ($3) the best. (A free version includes the same functions but limits the number of files you can browse in each folder). Similar to competitors, you run a server utility on your PC or Mac in order to route data to the iPad. In my tests, Air Video played most resolutions smoothly, including 720p video files over an 802.11n Wi-Fi network.

That resolution stutters on an 802.11g network, but if you reach a file that’s too big—or just not in an iPad-friendly QuickTime format, including AVI, WMV, ASF, MKV, DIVX, and FLV—you can have the PC remotely convert the clip. Just hit a button from the iPad interface and stream it when ready, or have a speedy PC process it and stream it live. It even supports subtitles and TV output. The iPad can send video to a TV at 1024 by 768 resolution via its $29 Dock Connector to VGA adapter; 576p and 480p with the $49 Apple Component A/V Cable, and 576i or 480i with an Apple Composite Cable (also $49).

Connect More Than a Camera

Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit ($29) does so much more than its stated purpose. Instead of just transferring photos and videos from your camera or SD card, the adapter’s USB port attaches a range of devices.

Many USB keyboards work. The iPad presents a warning that the device isn’t supported (shown left), but if it doesn’t draw much power, you can ignore the message. Volume and media keys usually work, and you can even use desktop commands such as Command-Z. (Don’t forget that the iPad also officially supports Bluetooth keyboards and Apple’s iPad Keyboard Dock).

USB audio devices can work, too–including speakers, headsets, and microphones. If a device draws too much power and balks (as when I connected a Zoom H2 mic and Logitech V20 PC speakers), no problem: just attach the device to a powered USB hub, and connect the hub to the Camera Connection Kit adapter. You can even attach different devices—such as a keyboard and speaker set—at the same time.



Publishing Companies Prepare Tablet App Store… notice I did NOT say iPad Store

If you can’t beat ’em… join ’em. Here’s how newspapers and magazines are competing in the eMarket while snubbing Apple’s iPad.

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Time Inc., Condé Nast, Hearst Corporation, and Meredith Corporation are adding the finishing touches to their tablet app store. Morgan Guenther, the Chief Executive of Next Issue Media (NIM), the new venture owned by the publishing companies, says that it should launch within the next few months.

He says that when the store launches, it will feature at least two titles from each of the companies, and by this summer, every magazine will be available. Guenther also says that News Corporation’s (another owner of NIM) newspapers will be available by then.

For now, the app store will only be available on Android tablets. This is because NIM is the result of publishing houses not wanting other companies (read: Apple) to dictate how their products are distributed.

For NIM, its success comes down to one thing: Will people snub iPads in order to get their favorite magazines on a tablet? Right now Apple has the advantage because the iPad has been out for so long; not to mention the cool factor that comes with the brand.

We’re guessing Apple will win this battle, because being cool is very fun, even if it does mean missing out on tablet versions of O: The Oprah Magazine. Besides, we can probably guess who’ll be on the cover.



Bill Clinton’s speech can be tweeted after all… ah… DUH!

Did former President Bill Clinton really ban Tweeting, live-blogging, and posting on Facebook during a keynote address for a business and technology conference? Well, if he did, he’s not fessing up to it now! Ah, the power of social media!

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Bill Clinton bans Twitter

Did former President Bill Clinton really ban tweeting, live-blogging and posting on Facebook during a keynote address for a business and technology conference?

No. But it definitely appeared that way over the past 24 hours.

The blog <a href="*…:+readwriteweb+%28ReadWriteWeb%29%22%3EReadWriteWeb%3C/a%3E” rel=”nofollow”>ReadWriteWeb reported Wednesday night on the “no Twitter” prohibition for Clinton’s upcoming address at <a href="*” rel=”nofollow”>Dreamforce, a San Francisco event put on by The Los Angeles Times, and other outlets, <a href="*…” rel=”nofollow”>picked up the story Thursday.

ReadWriteWeb wrote the story after being given the following ground rules by Outcast, a PR firm working on behalf of the event hosts:

“President Clinton’s representatives have mandated that there be absolutely no reporting during his session. That includes live blogging, Tweeting, Facebook posting or use of any other social media. We understand the inconvenience this may present, but greatly appreciate your compliance. Thank you.”

Here’s where there was a bit of a mix-up.

A Clinton spokesperson explained to The Cutline that the event host and PR company were told that the speech would be closed press, and they took that to mean that attendees were prohibited from tweeting, live-blogging or posting on social media sites.

However, that’s not the case. Although the event remains technically closed for traditional media, attendees will not be stopped from using devices for tweeting, live-blogging, posting on social media sites (or maybe just texting their friends).

So, presumably, someone could publish a blog post on a BlackBerry or write up a story based on a series of tweets or Facebook updates from the event. But traditional reporters looking for a press riser or other media setup will be out of luck, since it’s technically closed press.