Upgraded to AT&T’s 5gb Data Pro plan w/ tethering

You can find WiFi almost anywhere these days so I’ve never really felt the need to have a tethering plan to turn my iPhone 5 into a mobile hotspot. However, I figured since I was paying $30/month for the 3gb data plan an additional $20 to upgrade to 5gb and tethering seemed like a worthy upgrade. So far it’s working pretty well with an LTE connection. Browsing the web on my MacBook is quite quick and it’s easier to get things done on my Mac compared to my iPhone. Maybe it’s just the nerd in me that felt it was necessary to be able to create a mobile hotspot, however there have been many times where I’ve been somewhere without WiFi and I wished I could connect on a device other than my phone. It’ll also be nice to be able to provide web access for others. I never get close to 3gb on my iPhone, and I’m not often away from WiFi so I can’t imagine I’ll come close to the 5gb limit.

Do you have a tethering plan? Do you use it often enough for it to be worth it? Personally, I think all plans should include tethering, but I suppose the 5gb is better for occasional laptop use.

OS X Mavericks is here

I finally got updated to OS X Mavericks on my MacBook Pro this afternoon and I have to say I’m mostly enjoying the upgrade. For the most part things feel the same as before, so it’s no jump from iOS6 to iOS7, but it still has some nice features. Mainly, iBooks. It’s nice to be able to read books on my MacBook, I’m not sure why it took so long to implement this feature.

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What’s missing though, is Newsstand. I was almost certain that with iBooks we’d see Newsstand, but it’s nowhere to be found. I’d love to read my newspapers and magazines on my MacBook, but for whatever reason we can’t do that yet. I can only hope it’ll be coming sooner or later.

Another feature that should be nice (haven’t tried it out yet) is the improved multiple monitor support. I like to connect my MacBook to my TV via HDMI when using my Dish Anywhere service or NFL Sunday Ticket. For some reason I occasionally run into some weird issues where things don’t work the way they should. Maybe it’s just me, but for example if I set the output to anything other than 720p I get black bars on the sides of the screen, even on a 1080p TV. Also if I send a window over to the second monitor (the TV) and hit full screen, on some apps it goes fullscreen on the MacBook screen rather than the TV screen. I hope outputting to a TV works better with Mavericks. I’ll check it out later tonight to see for sure.

There’s also some improved performance and battery features that I will probably never notice, a new notification system (which seems nice so far), tabs in finder (could be useful I suppose) and a few other new features.

Lastly they added Maps to OS X, though I can’t understand why. If I’m on my MacBook why wouldn’t I just go to Google Maps in Chrome rather than using Apple’s map app? Especially since Maps already is pretty much useless when compared to Google Maps on my iPhone.

Control your Mac remotely with your iPad

Oftentimes I’ll connect my MacBook Pro to a TV to watch movies or stream content from the web, and it always used to annoy me that I’d have to get up and go to the computer to type something. I could use my wireless mouse to click anything from the couch, but if I ever needed to search for something I was out of luck.

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The first app that solved this problem for me was Air Keyboard, a free app that replicates a Mac’s keyboard and allows you to control your Mac as if you had a bluetooth keyboard (it works over WiFi). You simplydownload the app on your iPad and install the companion app on your Mac and that’s it. You know have the equivalent of a bluetooth keyboard, complete with a touch pad and plenty of other features.

 

 

 

Next up is Splashtop 2, a remote desktop solution. Splashtop 2 is $4.99 for the iPad Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 12.56.44 PM(there’s a separate iPhone version)for basic functionality with two subscription models
for advanced functionality. Splashtop allows you to not only control your Mac remotely, but also allows you to see the screen on your iPad. Therefore you can control your Mac from anywhere in the house. You can leave it on your desk and access it via Splashtop to e-mail a file, or play a movie that’s on your Mac and view it on your iPad in bed. Also you can use your Mac to access websites that require flash from your iPad.

Splashtop only allows you to control your Mac from the same WiFi network. If you’d like to access your Mac from anywhere you can subscribe to Anywhere Access for $1.99/mo or $16.99/yr.

Both of these apps have made my life easier and more convenient. I’ve included several screenshots below that allow you to see the apps in action.

Air Keyboard (FREE)

 

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Splashtop 2 ($4.99)

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Can’t miss MAC deal! Name your own price for 10 apps

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LockerGnome / Chris Pirillo present the ‘name your own price Mac bundle, 2.0’ where you can get $399 worth of map apps for whatever you’d like to pay. Pay at least the average price ($8.69 as of this post) and you get all ten apps (if you choose to pay less than that you’ll only get a handful of them).

The two apps that stood out to me are Crossover 12 which allows you to emulate Windows applications on your Mac and Snapz Pro X which allows you to record your screen. I run Windows 8 via BootCamp on my Mac but very seldom feel like booting to Windows. I’m hoping I can run some of my Windows games via Crossover, we’ll see. Snapz Pro will come in handy for recording gameplay videos as well.

Sidetracked by Mists of Pandaria and Guild Wars 2

 

 

For the first time in a long while I spent the good majority of a weekend in front of a computer. In part it had to do with the fact that I would possibly have to head into work at any given time, but the main reason is my friend and I dove headfirst into World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, and for the first time since I first played WoW I got sucked into the game entirely. The quest progression was actually fun, and we kept going on to find out what we’d see next. The new area is fun to explore, the dungeons are fun to run, and the pet battles are surprisingly addicting. I didn’t experience anything that made me want to stay in the world for hours on end during any other expansion (probably in part because when I first started playing, Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King were already out). After spending the majority of the weekend in Pandaria we’re both level 87 and just slightly burnt out. In the end it was a good time.

Guild Wars 2

I also decided to give Guild Wars 2 a try. I was actually convinced to purchase it mostly because ArenaNet released it for the Mac so quickly. As a new Mac user I feel it’s my duty to support companies that reach out to Mac gamers instead of making Mac gamers use BootCamp or emulators to play their games.

I’ve only spend about an hour in Guild Wars 2 so far, but it’s been an enjoyable experience. Guild Wars plays very differently from World of Warcraft so far. It’s more about experiencing the world and working together with other players, rather than working against them (or being annoyed by them). If you’re on a quest you’ll see other players working on the same quest and you naturally, and fluidly work together to complete the objectives. What I mean is, you don’t have to ‘group’ or anything, you just work together and it feels natural, and you each get your own experience and loot. Beyond standard quests there are world events that are happening all around and you can jump in and help complete the objectives, such as fight a boss, without having to accept a quest or anything. Stuff is just happening in Guild Wars 2 and you decide your role.

My MacBook Pro is here!

My 13″ MacBook Pro (also my first Mac ever) arrived after work yesterday and for the last 24 hours I’ve been in love with this beautiful machine. I intend to post some more detailed thoughts as I get to know the machine better, but for now I’ll leave you with a few (awkward) photos 🙂

13″ MacBook Pro
2.5ghz Intel i5
8GB RAM
500 GB hard drive

Guild Wars 2 now on Mac!

My first MacBook is set to arrive in the mail Friday and now I’m even more excited because not only will I be able to play World of Warcraft and Diablo III on it without running bootcamp or an emulator, but I’ll now also be able to try out Guild Wars 2!

Yesterday it was announced on the Guild Wars website that Guild Wars 2 is now playable on Macs in beta form. Anyone who has purchased Guild Wars 2 can now download the Mac client. It’s in beta because the software hasn’t been finalized, however it’s a step in the right direction to release a Mac client so soon after the game’s release. Can’t wait to give it a try.

Decided to go Mac

So I’ve been a Windows PC user for my entire life. The only time I ever used a Mac was in Elementary school computer classes (ancient Macintosh machines) and typing class in middle school (colorful iMacs). I had always admired Macs, Apple and the wonderful story of Steve Jobs’ rise, fall and rise again (Pirates of Silicon Valley has long been one of my favorite movies, and Walter Isaacson’s biography is a wonderful read. I also enjoy Wozniak’s iWoz). The first Apple product I ever owned was an iPod video which I received in 2005, and it totally changed my life…Sort of. I mean I had been using a portable CD player all through high school and had to carry around a bulky CD holder filled with discs I’d burn just about every week as my musical tastes fluctuated.

The second Apple product I’ve purchased was an iPhone 4 which I bought the day I graduated basic training while on base liberty (October 2011). I had previously used a ‘dumb’ phone (Motorola Razr) and an almost smart phone (have no clue what it was, but it had a slide out keyboard and internet access at least). The iPod completely revolutionized how I listened to music, and likewise the iPhone totally changed the way I used a cell phone. I love the iOS and it’s simplicity. My iPhone is going to look just like anyone else’s iPhone. I can operate and navigate any other iPhone just as easily as I can my own, and what’s available on anyone else’s iPhone is available on mine as well through the well maintained app store.

I’ve always admired Macs, ever since the first Justin Long “I’m a Mac” commercials. Likewise I think seeing Macs used by all the tech savvy and ‘cultured’ characters on TV shows and movies has planted a desire to own a Mac in my head as well. However I think what really triggered the desire to purchase a Mac has been reading Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. I’ve always idolized Jobs, and the story of Apple fascinates me so much that it almost feels like it’s my duty to purchase and use a Mac.

There’s really nothing special about a Windows PC. There’s no standard model. You can purchase a PC from a wide variety of manufacturers and what you get will be completely different (in a sense) than what the next person gets. For many this is a good thing, however I always find myself with something less desirable, less solid, less functional than what everyone else has. I think the fact that there are really only a handful of models of Macs is appealing. I know exactly what I’m getting and I’m not going to end up with an incredibly inferior product (which I consider the Samusng RV520 laptop that I type this on to be).

Long story short, last Friday I ordered a 13″, 2.5ghz i5, 8gb RAM, 500gb hard drive MacBook Pro and it should arrive in the mail by the end of this week. I’m incredibly excited to learn a new operating system and to see just how well the computer will perform. I’ll be sure to post my thoughts as I acclimate myself to the world of Macintosh and OS X. Thanks for reading 🙂