The OS Quest Trail Log #77: Microsoft Rising

Photo of my Microsoft Surface RTThis trail log covers the last two months since September was too slow to justify a recap. But even in October, the bug news was at the end. Microsoft released Windows 8 to the world on October 26th. For me, the big news here was the release of Microsoft Surface RT. I jumped on the bandwagon and pre-ordered the 64GB version with the touch cover. We’re still in the honeymoon phase but I still like it. I forced myself to use it the first couple of days since change is never easy. But now I’m reaching for it by choice, I wrote about my first 24 hours on this site, but most of my Surface RT and Windows RT writing is on SurfaceGeeks.net along with great content and tips from others. Bottom line, annoying at times but I still use and like it.

I’ve been less eager for Windows 8 on my home PC. It’s not that I don’t like or want Windows 8. I’m surprised about how much I like it on Surface. But I think I’ll be happier running it on Windows 8 hardware such as a touchscreen. I’ll keep trying Windows 8 in a Virtual Machine, at least until the trial runs out. If I was buying a new PC I’d go with Windows 8, I’m just not convinced of the upgrade benefits.

Apple released iOS 6 in lates September and I upgraded both my iPhone 4S and iPad 3. It didn’t provide much of a noticeable change. I did have problems with wireless syncing but eventually came across a solution. Although I continue to have wireless problems with my iPad. It drops my 5 GHz connection every day or so although it eventually comes back. The 5 GHz band does have a shorter range but it was working OK before the iOS6 upgrade.

Even though I have a iPad 3 I wasn’t ticked off by the iPad 4 only 7 months later. My iPad 3 is unchanged and the iPad 4 was just a faster processor for me and hardware upgrades happen all the time. If I was outside the U.S. I would be ticked off if I was in a country that had newly installed LTE support in the iPad 4. The side effect of this is that if I don’t upgrade when a new iDevice is released I won’t buy one a few months later since it’s likely to be obsolete soon.

The iPad Mini was also a “meh” for me. Finally, a gadget I don’t have an urge to buy. Maybe after I touch one and the reality distortion field kicks in I might consider one when it’s time to replace my iPad. Although right now I think Microsoft Surface RT is my iPad replacement.

I updated What I Use before Windows 8 and the Surface RT release. It was time for an update and I wanted to get it on the record in case Windows 8 triggered additional changes. It didn’t, at least not beyond the Microsoft Surface RT.

Hurricane Sandy (or Superstorm Sandy) blew through the northeast a few days ago. For me it was just a minor inconvenance, unlike for many others. I have to compliment Linode. Despite my server being in their New Jersey data center, and their main offices being in New Jersey, there wasn’t any service interruption or drama around keeping the servers running, They lost phones for a while but still provided support through their ticket system (not that I needed it). Good job.

This wraps up this edition. Not much going on even though it was a two month recap.

iPad/iOS 6 Wireless Sync

Screenshot of my main iPad screen

Screenshot of my main iPad screenEver since upgrading my iPad 3 to iOS 6 I haven’t been able to do a wireless sync with iTunes. My iPhone 4S does a wireless sync just fine. I tried the usual troubleshooting things such as restarts and re-entering settings. I was pretty sure it was my iPad or iTunes that was the problem. The iPad also had a problem where the wireless network would drop every couple of days and I’d have to toggle wireless off then on (on the iPad) to get it to see the network so the iPad was my first choice as the problem source. I don’t use iTunes very much with my iPad so I wasn’t aggressively looking for a fix (my opinion of iTunes is that it’s a big ball of bugs and frustration).

I was listening to the McCast podcast (Oct 5th episode) when Adam mentioned a step I hadn’t tried. While he described a different wireless issue it was close enough. And sure enough, his suggestion to reset the network settings worked.

To reset the settings: Settings -> General -> Reset -> Reset Network Settings

The iPad will restart after confirmation. I did not have to re-enter my wireless network security settings so I expected to still have the problem. But sure enough, I was able to initiate the sync and it completed without a problem. It’s too soon to tell if the problem dropping the wireless network every couple of days is also fixed, but I’m hopeful.

For the record, I run iTunes on a Mac and OS X, iTunes and my iPad are all  on the latest versions.

Makes me glad that the MacCast is the one Apple specific podcast I still listen to on a regular basis.

 

iOS6 Upgrade

Picture of the Verizon iPhone

Picture of the Verizon iPhoneUnless you’ve been on a desert island you know iOS6 is out now.

I upgraded both my iPhone 4S and iPad 3 on Thursday. While not completely uneventful it was relatively smooth. There were related Mountain Lion and Apple application upgrades on my Macs. In my case, it was iPhoto and Aperture that were upgraded. It took most of the evening to get everything upgraded although most of that was spent waiting, either for downloads or installs. I updated my iDevices directly, over wireless, rather than through iTunes. There’s also been a steady stream of iOS app upgrades since then.

So far I only had one real app problem, the UPS app crashed when trying to paste in tracking numbers. But that was fixed a couple days later with an upgrade.

My most serious problem is that my iPad 3 can no longer sync to iTunes over wireless. It just says it can’t find the computer when I tell it to sync. Of course, other apps can see the computer and transfer files to and from it. And my iPhone syncs to iTunes just fine. I’ve done the normal troubleshooting (reboots, re-enter settings, try a second wireless network, etc…) but haven’t dug into it. I don’t sync too often. iCloud backups work just fine.

Apple’s taking a lot of grief over the new Maps app. Based on the examples given it appears justified. The U.S. maps seem better than the rest of the world. They have the street I live on, they just don’t extend it as far as my house. Of course, my street closely parallels a second street once it reaches me, separated by a line of trees. The local directions seem fine. I already have another app I use for turn-by-turn so I haven’t tried the built in maps app for that. I never really used the old Google Maps app very much so the change is mostly unnoticed by me.

I like the “Do Not Disturb” feature, although I already keep most notifications off all the time anyway. I do wish there was a way to allow certain apps to alert all the time. Similar to the way “Favorite” callers aren’t blocked by DND. Guess we have to leave something for Apple to add in iOS 7.

The new Passbook started off by annoying me. It bumped an icon off my home screen to make room for itself. Then it didn’t properly link to the iTunes store  (which was the only action it would try to do) until I did this fix. Once I got into it I was underwhelmed by needing to install each vendors own iOS6 app to use passbook. The only other way to get info into Passbook was a 3rd party website. While it’s probably OK, the security implications limit its use.

I liked the clock app, especially on my iPad where it easily shows multiple times across the world. But I knew the clock face looked familiar.

I never found much use for Siri. I was more frustrating than useful. Being able to open apps by voice is a nice addition. Of course, the apps have to be pronounceable and real words, which isn’t always the case. (I’m looking at you Waze.) I may give Siri another tryout.

I can’t say I have an desire to get the iPhone 5. Sure, its better than th 4S that I have, but not so much better. The only hardware feature I would want is LTE, but for what I use the iPhone for now it’s not a big deal. My iPad has LTE so I can tether to it in a pinch. I also tend to do more web surfing on the iPad rather than the iPhone. My contract is up at the end of November which may be a good time shop for a phone. I’m not ruling out the iPhone 4S but it will be a tough sell. If I decide to stick with the iPhone I may just stick with the 4S for another year.

Anyone else upgraded to iOS6? How’d it go?