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Topics - elvisbrown [ switch to compact view ]

Pages: [1]
1
Mini-Reviews by Members / iPad 3 and me
« on: July 15, 2012, 12:45 AM »
I came to this by way of a gift. I could have bought yet another camera or another watch that I wouldn't wear but I took the plunge and went for the ipad 3 with a smart cover and the wireless keyboard.

My computing background has been with windows since forever as both a user, fixer and programmer. I'd be less than honest if I said that I hadn't always viewed Apple products as best suited to the mindless and inept. Sorry but that's honesty for you :-)

I have always been a tinkerer and as we all know, with earlier versions of windows you had to tinker to get it to work the way you wanted. By with XP, and later Win7, I freely admit that tinkering became something to do for its own sake. I will also add that there are now more useful apps around than ever in the past. Like Dropbox, Phrase Express and Notepad++ to name but a few.

About 18 months ago I bought an iPod and was extremely disappointed that it didn't work straight out the box, in fact it took a few hours on the internet to find out that iTunes didn't like Win7 64 bit. Anyway, long story short, iTunes was a nightmare to use, the device was not "user friendly", so I sold in pretty quick. Bad experience all round.

So I came to the iPad with mixed feelings and tried not to let my previous experience with Apple pre-determine the outcome.

My initial experience of unpacking it was interesting, instead of the huge pile of polystyrene, plastic bags, cable ties, cardboard, CDs/DVDs, leaflets in various language that are left over after unwrapping a new laptop, the iPad was both simple, elegant and enviro friendly. Turning it on and within minutes it is working, simple, elegant and easy.

But then I tried to load some of my photos on to it. And there the problems started. I once again discovered that iTunes it still the biggest deterrent for a Windows person when confronting an Apple device. It is buggy, badly designed, bloated, etc etc. I did eventually manage to get a folder synced to the iPad but when I sync'd another the previous ones disappeared. Like a fool I was expecting the ease of copying stuff to non-Apple devices. Bad right there.

I ended up frustrated and cursing and revisiting the 1984 Apple Superbowl ad and marveling at the irony of it, for if ever there was a "Big Brother" approach to anything in this life it is Apple's view of their customers. "We know best and you will do things the way we want you to do them". I could go on.

But I persevered and soon realised that I had brought to this the expectation that the iPad was a laptop substitute. It isn't, end of story. So I had to shift my pre-conception around to accepting this device for what it was. So what was it? It was an iPad, duh!

So my frustration abounded around how locked down it is, no USB, SD or other open ports. Nada. I then found Dropbox and a text editor that would open and save files in Dropbox folders. I freely admit that the frustrations were greater than any perceived benefit at this point in my journey to the Apple World of the Brainless. But then....we had a 5 year old come to stay with us and we bought "The Wonky Donkey" a kids book for iPad. Wow, we laughed and sang and painted with our fingers and when you poked the donkey he farted!

This was my first realisation of just how good this was. There was no loading CDs or DVDs or waiting for it to load, you just click the icon and away you go. It invites participation in a way that no Windows program had ever done, at least for me, and apart from porn LOL.

I am now at the end of my second week and am starting to explore the many apps that are available. I am writing this with an app called "ia Writer" and apart from the fact that it wants to correct my spelling to US English instead of UK English, even though I have set the keyboard to UK English, it is bloody good.

I have come to appreciate one thing above all else, stuff just works here. You click and it works, it all seems to work the same way too. When it comes to usability this thing beats the rest hands down. I can appreciate why this is locked down, even though I resent it. 

I did consider getting an Android tablet instead of the iPad but in some ways I think Android is worse. It is owned by Google and I don't trust them. On my smart phone I have seen the move to the next version of Android completely change the Contacts app to the point that it was almost unrecognisable as a Contacts app. It was that kind of arrogance that deterred me from an Android device, And sure Apple are just the same but they seems to go for consistency instead of novelty. I admit that this may seem unfair.

So what are my conclusions, if any? Well not having made the entire journey to the Apple World of the Brainless I still have some views of my own. On the iPad I can do most of what I previously did on my laptop. I can do it easier and for longer, the 10+ hour battery life is really good. I cannot do any programming and editing photos is unbelievably difficult and time consuming compared to my laptop. I think that Apple claims that you can multi-task on the iPad but either I haven't found the equivalent of CRTL + TAB or that is just more bollocks.

Would I recommend anyone getting one? Yes, with no hesitation. I have a Kindle and it cannot be beaten when it comes to reading books, sure, you can do that on a laptop or iPad but you really wouldn't want to if you have a Kindle. Likewise the iPad, it becomes a device in its own right with its own uses and limitations. It has a place in the stable. It is beautiful, elegant and every windows person should see what this is about. Am I giving up my laptop? no way, am I buying a Macbook, no way, am I getting an iPhone, no way. Do I appreciate the Apple consistency across devices, I sure do.


2
Mini-Reviews by Members / Readerware 3 Book Cataloging software
« on: April 03, 2012, 11:11 PM »
Basic Info

App NameReaderware 3 Books
App URLhttp://www.readerware.com/index.php
App Version Reviewed3
Test System SpecsWin 7 64 Bit
Supported OSesAvailable for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Android
Support Methodsemail
Upgrade PolicyAll 3.x upgrades are free to Readerware 3.0 users
Trial Version Available?Without a registration key the program will expire in 30 days. You will have access to all versions of all Readerware products during the evaluation period, including Palm support and client/server mode. There is one functional limitation in the unregistered versions: exports are limited to 25 items.
Pricing Schemesee below
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product This is an independent review of Readerware Books. There is no relationship between myself and the author of this program apart from gratitude on my part :)

Pricing from above:
Each product line comes in four editions:

Standard Edition - This is the base product for a single user with auto-catalog, reports, loan tracker, integrated backup & restore, import/export and more. It includes all Readerware features except for mobile device synchronization, external database access and client/server support. Available for download delivery or on CD. If in doubt, this is what you need. US$40

Mobile Edition - This is Readerware for your desktop and supported mobile device. It includes everything in standard edition and adds the ability to take your databases with on on an Android or Palm OS device. US$50

Client/Server Edition - This version adds support for multiple users and external databases. It includes all the features of standard and mobile editions. The Readerware server allows multiple clients to access and update the Readerware database. External database access allows you to use other databases like MySQL etc. This version supports up to five concurrent users. US$90

Client/Server Enterprise Edition - Readerware Client/Server Edition with no user limit. US$500

You can purchase individual products or order a bundle of all three, books, music & video, for substantial savings.

Intro:
This software to catalog both ebooks and "real" books.

(I give up try to work out to get an inline image here so here's the link to screenshot:)
screenshot

I am both a programmer and an avid reader. I like things that are functional and do what they are supposed to do. I prefer core functionality to bells and whistles and I like to buy software where I feel the money is going to something/someone worthwhile. I will not buy software (or hardware) on spec, I like to know what I am buying before parting with the cash. Probably just like you :-)

I have a Kindle and a large collection of ebooks that runs to several thousands. The problem I have been trying to resolve was how to catalog them.

I do use Calibre to load them on to and off the Kindle but Calibre just doesn't handle thousands in a way that makes it easy to see what you have and where it is. I found Calibre slow and cumbersome when dealing with thousands of books. Also Calibre stores each book/author as a folder so you can end up with a library of several thousands of folders without really trying. I keep my Calibre library on a USB stick and above a certain number of books it takes a long time just to open and close. Don't get me wrong, I like Calibre and have donated towards both Calibre and one of the plugins. It does what it does very well but it is not good at everything.

I was obviously looking at a dedicated database type program. My feature wish list was:
  • Ability to import/export listings
  • Internet lookup to fill in details and get covers etc.
  • Good user interface
  • Ongoing support

I trawled the web to find all the software available and was incredibly disappointed at the lack of programs that are both current and yet work reasonably well. I am using Windows 7 64 bit so whatever I tried had to run on that platform. I found a lot of old book database programs that look like they were designed in 1984 and were obviously neither current nor useable.

I was looking for (hopefully) freeware/open source but after a week of searching was willing to try anything. I found a couple of suitable candidates but neither of them were supported and the internet lookup did not work at all. As you know Amazon changed the way their systems were accessed and a lot of software stopped working after that changeover.

After exhausting all the freeware/open source options I then turned to the commercially available software. One in particular had a downloadable trial version but it was so crippled as to be completely useless. The internet lookup was disabled in the trial version and yet that was claimed to be a major feature! Software authors please note, if you want users to buy your program, give them a time limited fully functional copy to try.

I finally came across Readerware which offers cataloging software for Books, Music and Video (Note:3 separate programs)

First off, I could import my existing collection from a CSV file. it took me a few minutes to work out what the options were for matching my columns with the database table columns but once I understood them I was away and imported my collection in no time at all. There was no limit on the number of books I could import so I got all 8,600 entries into the database in a few minutes.

It offers various ways of viewing the collection and I prefer the Tree View that shows all the categories (genres) as an expandable list. When clicking on a genre I see a view of book covers where I can resize the icons to suit myself and I can also sort by author or title or rating within that view. (see picture)

Some of my collection had genres and some didn't so I used the Internet update to fill in the blanks. The Internet update allows you to specify which fields get updated and if you want to only update empty fields or force an overwrite. You can specify that on a field by field basis. You also have the choice of places to update from, like Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc. One thing I liked was that the list included lots of non-US places too. As someone who doesn't live in the US I am often frustrated by software that seems oblivious to the rest of the world.

Several times I have emailed for support and received a reply by return (allowing for time zones). The support is both fast and comprehensive and occasionally includes advice to learn Python so as to maximise what you can do with this program! The online help is both comprehensive and well written with examples of the more obscure functionality. How many times have I been stumped by help that merely gives a description of the functionality but not how to use it or even where to find it when using the program! The inbuilt utility that searches Amazon & Co for details is regularly updated as those sites change their internal methods.

You can manually edit all the details of a book as well as using the Internet update. If you have an ebook as a file you can put in its location and a single click will launch the book. The program covers all the basics and then offers lots of advanced functionality should you choose to explore it.

One of the neatest features is the ability to use an external database rather that the inbuilt one. The choices are MYSQL and MS Access which means that you can then manipulate the data in ways that program does not natively allow and/or make the data available elsewhere. In fact this idea of extensibility occurs in lots of places because the author has chosen to give the user as many options as possible instead of locking the user into the program in a "like it or lump it" kind of way. I am impressed by the mindset that produces programs like this.

There are includes options to back and restore your database (I tried both options and they work very well). You can have multiple databases so you can split your book collection into multiple databases by exporting say a single category then importing that into a new database. I'd say realistically that it took me about 5 days of usage before I became familiar with the interface and functionality of this program but given how many things it can do I'd say that was not unreasonable.

I'd say you be more likely to reach the limits of what you want to do before you reach the limits of the program. And even then the author encourages you to submit feature and enhancement requests.

I paid $US 40 for a license and personally it has been money well spent.

Online Help here: http://readerware.com/help/rwhs.html

Home page here:


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