When Google Apps Go Down…

I’ve expressed interest in using a service besides Gmail for my email for awhile now. Today Google apps Gmail went down. That’s the equivalent of a blackout for me. When things like that happen I’m reminded of what I dislike about Google products. I pay for several digital services, hosting comes to mind. The customer service I get for these services is nothing short of spectacular. Even during crippling hosting outages I usually get prompt replies sent by real customer support staff. That kind of service is worth paying for. I would be willing to pay a little something for real customer service for Google products.

Instead what I get with Google products is ads in my email, difficult interfaces to navigate and no clear way to get help when I need it. Every time I want to get a different email client I’m reminded that inspite of the awful interface decisions made on Gmail the actual search technology behind it is second to none. So they’ve got us, ads and all.

Sadly I have no brand loyalty to Google like I probably do to Apple. But the truth is I need it as much as I need Apple. I guess I don’t like being in a position with no alternatives. I hope some clever startup comes up with a better way to do email and blows Gmail out of the water (and soon!)


iPad 2 first impressions of a music maker/web developer designer

I managed to acquire the iPad 2 yesterday as Tekserve had the one I wanted in stock (32gig Wifi Only). I’ve had a few key objectives in mind for the device. I want to move the majority of my music making activities and process to the iPad. I also want to see if I can move my web development process (and eventually even my graphic design practice) over to the device.

The music making was an easy win. Thanks to the very affordable camera connection kit I can connect my USB MIDI keyboard devices without any setup making the iPad a very powerful synthesizer. I’d already stocked up on IK Multimedia iPhone apps for guitar amplifiers although with all that Garageband offers I wonder if that was even necessary. Those apps did carry over nicely to the iPad. I use an amazing synth/sequencer app called Nanosynth that also works amazingly on the iPad even if the resolution is fuzzy as it was intended for the phone. I haven’t been making too much music lately and I’m hoping that the casualness and comfort of the iPad encourages me to make more.

I did some searching for web development iPad apps this morning and actually only three quality ones turned up: Gusto, Textastic and Markup. Based on reviews I decided it was going to be between Gusto and Textastic to use for my HTML/CSS/PHP files (usually in a WordPress theme development workflow). I decided that Textastic was going to suit my needs. I had a moment of confusion early in my use of Textastic and I purchased Gusto as well. Unfortunately I found Gusto to be very difficult to get started with and also very crashy. So I dived back into Textastic and realized that my first instinct had probably been right. I’m currently in the middle of theming a personal project using just the iPad for code and I have to say it’s going quite well. In some respects it’s even faster than my desktop process. In others maybe not.

A few things on my web development wishlist for the iPad would be the equivalent of the Web Developer Toolbar Firefox Add-on for iOS Safari. There is no such thing as add-ons for Safari in the iPad as far as I can tell. Perhaps I just need to use a different iPad browser. I really dislike Opera but I’ll have to check if there’s any sort of Web Dev Toolbar in Opera Mobile. Also, I would love to be able to view page source in Safari. Kind of odd you can’t do that. Lack of these things actually does slow down the dev process on an iPad.

20110422-012134.jpgOther first impressions. I think the Twitter iPad app is pretty nice. Honestly, much better than the desktop version. I like that their’s enough screen real estate to have full pages from links show up within the Twitter app. The only catch, is that it was pretty crashy.

I downloaded Flipboard, which I didn’t realize was free. That was a nice surprise. That app seems quite good. Honestly, I haven’t read print magazines in so long I feel a little confused by the traditional orderliness of the layouts it presents. I like waking up and checking Twitter links first thing and I think Flipboard could enrich that experience. They’ve brought back the morning paper for the social age!

I have to say, I was disappointed that there is no iPad specific Facebook app. I suppose Facebook is just fine to use in the browser. I was hoping for some more immersive iPad experience. But that’s just as well. I’m down on Facebook lately and I have a suspicion that they’ve already peaked. Maybe 2010 was the year of Facebook and it’s already over.

What else to report? Its only been a day. The shape is kind of funny. Almost comfortable. Not totally. Or maybe just not yet. One other thing worth mentioning is that now that I’m so accustomed to the iPhone 4’s beautiful screen its somewhat disappointing that the iPad 2 still has the old resolution screen. I assume there’s no way the could have kept the price down if they’d included that high resolution screen.