All posts by Trey Short

iPhone Test Update

Traveling with the iPhoneThe iPhone came back around to me after being evaluated by a couple other IT staff members just in time for a little traveling.  The first thing I did in preparing for my travels with the iPhone was to download a couple TV shows and some music from iTunes.  Syncing the iPhone with iTunes is straight forward and works just like an iPod sync.  The iPhone has a setting called Airplane Mode that is turned on when stewardess asks that all electronic devices must be turned off.  The Airplane Mode turns off the phone and bluetooth, allowing the other iPhone functions to work normally.  Once in the air, I turned on the iPhone and enjoyed the shows and music I had downloaded.  I also used the camera function on the plane, taking several shots out of the window.  I actually used the camera throughout my travels, easily emailing pictures of the sun and sand back to cold and gloomy Illinois just to rub it in a little.  E-mailing a photo is very simple, you can also add a message along with the photo.  Using the iPhone for Internet access was great to check on flight schedules, the weather, etc.  I used the iPhone to keep up with my IWU e-mail while I was away, so I did not have to spend a day catching up when returning to work. Another feature that I use more and more, and used while traveling, is text messaging.  I find sending a text message with the full keyboard much easier than on a standard cell phone.  With the iPhone I can easily send text messages using correct spelling and full punctuation that is usually not done when texting on a standard cell phone.  (U no what i m talking about if u send texts 2 others)

Vacation So, the iPhone worked very well for me while traveling, and it allowed me to travel without the laptop computer I normally drag along. The iPhone provided me with all of the communication and computer functionality I needed.  With all of the positives, the iPhone does not yet work with the IWU wireless network. The other down side is that the iPhone is not supported by our shared calendaring system.  These are two significant support issues for campus use.  If you are currently looking for a wonderful and easy to used mobile device for your personal use, I can highly recommend the iPhone. Integration with campus services should improve as upgrades to both the iPhone and campus systems are rolled out.

IT Testing – Apple iPhone

Apple iPhoneInformation Technology is looking at the ever increasing number of smartphone devices, and how to best support the devices on campus. The trick is to find a device or two that we can standardize on that work with the campus wireless system, shared calendar system, and e-mail. IT is currently testing the iPhone from Apple. Here is Trey’s impression of the iPhone after two days of use.

  • First impression – I have been using a handheld device of some kind (Apple Newton, Handspring Visor, Sony Clie, Treo, and currently a Palm T/X) for many years. The iPhone interface is excellent, and very intuitive. I find myself trying to use the iPhone touch commands on my Palm after only two days of testing.
  • Text input – I have not mastered the keyboard on the iPhone. Poking at the keyboard with my finger gets tiring on a long e-mails or notes. I find using my thumbs to be a bit clunky, but I am getting better with practice. The autocorrect function saves me quite a bit.
  • E-Mail – works very well with IWU’s e-mail system. Very easy to navigate, automatically checks mail every 15 minutes, and can be adjusted for manual, 30 minutes or 1 hour.
  • Calendar – for Mac users the iPhone can sync to Meeting Maker, which is used in many areas on campus. The iPhone does not sync to Meeting Maker for people using a Windows computer. More testing to take place.
  • Network connectivity – The iPhone uses the AT&T Edge Network for Internet access, and also supports Wi-Fi networks (like the ones found in Starbucks, etc.). AT&T iPhone plans all come with unlimited Internet access. The Wi-Fi connection is much faster than the Edge network. The Wi-Fi works great at my home, but the iPhone does not currently have settings to allow it to work on the IWU Secure network or corporate networks.
  • Battery Life – Seems pretty good. I am recharging the phone for the first time today – day three.
  • Audio Quality – The phone calls sound good. The speaker phone is okay.

I entered the iPhone evaluation with no expectations. I must say that after using the iPhone for a couple days that the “cool factor” is extremely high.There are many more features to investigate so more will follow.

Holiday Gift Ideas

Here are some fun and useful gift ideas to consider for the Holiday season!

Wireless Presenter

Need a simple remote to control your PowerPoint presentation. A wireless presenter is just the device. The Targus Wireless Presenter allows you to move from slide to slide, page up and down, darken and resume the screen and includes a laser pointer. Available from Tiger Direct for $26.99.

Gorillapod

This light and versatile tripod is a great digital camera companion. The Gorillapod has over two dozen flexible leg joints that bend and rotate to secure your camera to almost any surface, rocks, tree branch, pole, on a table, etc. The Gorillapod is available from Joby for $24.95 with free shipping.

Backup HardDrive

Need peace of mind knowing that your music, photos, and documents are backed up? An external backup drive may be just the device you need. The Maxtor One Touch line works very well for both Windows and Macintosh computers. Drive sizes start at 80Gb and go up to 1TB.The 120GB model sells for $89 at Amazon.com.

Slingbox

The Slingbox is a device that lets you watch and control your DVR, Digital Cable receiver, Satellite receiver, or DVD player on your personal computer or PDA any time, any where. There are three models, the Slingbox AV, The Slingbox SOLO and the Slingbox PRO. The differences between the boxes are the AV and SOLO devices have a single input from a single source, the SOLO is HD capable. The PRO allows four inputs and is HD capable. The Slingbox is available from many sources. WalMart sells the AV for $109.48, the SOLO for $148.88, and the PRO for 198.88.

Cube World Digital Stick People

Two inch cubes house electronic stick people that live together for your entertainment. When multiple cubes are stacked together the digital people interact with each other. Their antics are quite amusing. You can also interact with the cube people. Shake a cube and see what happens. Cube World people can be found at Thinkgeek.com. A set of two costs $25.

WiFi Detector

Do you travel around with a laptop and wonder if a wireless signal is in range and don’t want to lug your laptop out of the case to see if a wireless signal is available? A WiFi detector might be just what you need. A simple detector that shows if a signal is present and clips to your key ring can be found at Tiger Direct for $10. A more sophisticated detector that shows the SSID (wireless network name), encryption status, channel, and signal strength can be found at Thinkgeek.com for $49.99. For those who are both stylish and geeky, Thinkgeek has a WiFi Detector Shirt that shows actual wireless signal strength on the front with glowing bars for $29.99. Your glowing shirt will look spectacular while sitting in the Memorial Center, Hansen Center, and many Academic areas on campus!

Take TV

Do you have video on your computer that you would like to watch on your TV? Take TV allows you to move videos from your computer to a simple USB device. Plug the device into a TV, sit back with the Take TV remote and watch your video. The 4GB models sells for $99.99 at Amazon.com, the 8GB models sells for 142.49.

R2-D2 Interactive Astromech Droid

A very cool Star Wars toy that listens and responds to your commands. R2 goes on patrol, will take someone a drink, along with many other activities. Check out the video at Thinkgeek.com. R2D2 costs $129.99 at Thinkgeek.com

Happy Holidays!!!!!!

Trey’s new home computer

One would think that researching and purchasing computers for the University would make it easier to purchase a computer to use at home.  For me this just isn’t the case.  For one thing I am cheap.  I start configuring a system with all the goodies I want, and I am suddenly looking at a computer that costs $1,700-2,500.  Ouch!  So I asked myself, what does this computer really need to do.  I want to:

  • check e-mail,
  • surf the Internet,
  • write,
  • work with numbers and presentations,
  • play music,
  • handle my digital photos, and that’s about it.

So here is what I did. I found a refurbished IBM Thinkpad at Tiger Direct for around $500.  The Thinkpad I chose is a lightweight laptop with a 14” screen, Pentium M processor, CD-RW/DVD, 1G RAM, a 60G hard drive, Windows XP Pro, and a 1 year warranty.  Not a power house, but solid, proven, and dependable performer.  Windows XP Pro ran well on the computer, but I decided to look into Linux.   Linux runs a computer just like Windows or the Mac operating system does (the Mac OS is a version of Unix just like Linux.)  Linux has been around for years, and has been considered an operating system for “computer geeks”.  Recent improvements to versions of the Linux operating system have made it more user friendly.  Many computer manufacturers are offering computers running the Linux operating system right next to Windows based computers these days. 

I talked with Chris Rutledge and Pat Riehecky in IT about the versions of Linux they like best.  They both were singing praises of Ubuntu Linux version 7.10.   I did some research, downloaded the free installer from http://www.ubuntu.com and burned it to a CD.  The Ubuntu distribution CD comes with Open Office for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.  Open office works similarly to Microsoft Office and is compatible with Microsoft Office documents.  Also included are programs to edit, scan in, and view photos, listen to music and watch movies.  The Firefox web browser is included, as well as an instant messaging client, an e-mail client, several games, and many other goodies.  All the features I wanted for my new computer.  Another neat feature is that Ubuntu and the bundled applications are Open Source, in other words, available for free (I did mention that I am cheap).

The Ubuntu operating system is easy to use.  If a person has used Windows or the Mac operating system, they will have no problems using a computer running Ubuntu.  I am very happy with the computers performance.   Programs load and run very quickly.  My printer and digital camera installed very easily.  I plugged the devices in, the computer configured them in about 10 seconds and told me the devices are ready to use.  I have the e-mail client checking my IWU e-mail, and have consolidated all of my pictures on the computer.  So far the computer is perfect for my needs, and seems to find it’s way to my lap every evening.

I will post updates to my computer adventure as I discover new features and install new software.

We need your assistance.

Information Technology needs your help. We are working to make improvements to the e-mail system. As work is done to make these improvements, we are asking people to take a look at the messages they have saved to see if unwanted or large messages could be deleted from the e-mail server.

How to help

Log in to my.iwu.edu and access your e-mail

  1. Click on your Sent folder and take a look to see if any of these messages could be deleted – removing messages with attachments will help free up even more space
  2. Click on your Trash or Deleted mailbox – Delete any messages in this mailbox.
  3. Remove any old or unneeded messages from your Inbox. E-mails with pictures and presentations attached can take a large portion of e-mail storage space. Save the attachments to your computer and delete the corresponding message.

Thank you for your assistance.

If you have questions about forwarding or archiving your mail please call 556-3900.