Talking To Your Phone or Tablet

Written: November 15, 2013

Our tablets and smart phones have this nifty feature known as “voice input”, so on an Apple device it’s called Siri and Android hasn’t really given it a marketing name. Just today I was interested in the weather, so I asked both my Android phone and iPad tablet the same question, “What is the weather like right now?”

The good news is that both devices understood exactly what I asked for and presented me answers within a few seconds:

The bad news is that Apple’s weather answer was wrong, because it stated, “It seems to be a bit windy out there”. I wouldn’t consider 3mph to be windy.

Another thing that I use voice input for is when I want to respond to a Text Message. It is much quicker to use voice input instead of hunting and pecking on the tiny virtual keyboard of a smart phone.

Enjoy using voice input on your phone and tablet devices, it works and will save you time.


BestBuy – Room for Improvement

Written: November 1, 2013

I am a geek and therefore spend time in stores like BestBuy, both in person and online. Tonight I wanted to check if they had any new iPad Air tablets in stock at my local Tualatin store, so I visited, and looked for the Tualatin store in zip code 97062:

Best Buy - Tualatin


I phoned the 888 area code and reached a person that knew nothing about my Tualatin store. Hmmm, is redirecting me to a support center that cannot help me, now that doesn’t sound friendly to me.

Being resourceful I just did a Google search for “Best Buy Tualatin”, and sure enough located the local 503 phone number where they could answer my question in under a minute:

Best Buy - 503


The moral of the story is to only provide a local phone number on your web site, even if you are a nationwide company like Best Buy, because loyal customers like me just want our questions answered at the store of our choice. Don’t make your customers call a support center that cannot answer a local question.


Apple Maps Not Quite Ready

Written: October 24, 2013

You have to credit Apple for being ambitious in creating their own mapping app to compete with Google Maps, however a little testing by me recently shows that Apple has much work to do yet. As an example I asked Apple Maps to find the directions between my home and office and it came up with a circuitous route of 2.4 miles while Google got it right at 2.1 miles:

Next, I asked each mapping tool to find direction from home to Rolling Hills Community Church, once again Google came out on top saving me 1 minute of time by taking into account traffic congestion:

Finally, I compared mapping directions from home to Champoeg State Park, Google found a route 2 minutes shorter than Apple:

My first mapping app was MapQuest, then Google, so based on these results I continue using Google Maps. Maybe in a few years Apple Maps will improve enough to consider using.

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Latest Mac OS X – Mavericks

Written: October 22, 2013

Today is the big day to update your Mac OS X operating system for free to the latest release called Mavericks, or version 10.9. The 5.28GB download will take about 45 minutes to download (remember, no DVD media), then installing and restarting another 45 minutes or so. Apple claims some 200 improvements with this version of Mac OS X, so you can get a better idea of specifics here or at the Apple site here.

On my setup there are two external monitors and with Mavericks it added a menubar to each external monitor. I can see how some users would welcome that, however for me I want the maximum screen space available so I figures out how to turn off menubars for external monitors right away. My first external monitor is just as fast as the laptop display, however my second external monitor is connected to the USB port with a device made by Diamond using software called DisplayLink, which is now dog slow. So I’ll have to wait for an updated version of DisplayLink to get back some of the lost speed.

Most of the changes that I see with Mavericks are cosmetic, reminding me of the recent iOS7 update for the iPad.

Go ahead, update to the latest Mac OS X, just pick a time maybe near the end of your work day, or when you can be doing something else productive for awhile during the installation process.


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