Upgrading Apple Mobile Devices to IOS6 – “A How To”

Oh yes, the buzz and downloads are in the air. It’s time when Apple shares are up past $700 giving us the “I wish I had bought them at $600” feeling. I see them getting to $800 by February due to the iPad mini release (expected next month) and Christmas sales- not to mention the iTV replacement device.  And let’s not forget the rumored iPhone 6 spring release.

Major new features. The new features include Apple’s own maps, which wholly replace Google maps including turn-by-turn GPS navigation. Siri (hyperlink) got smarter and has more current data on movies, open apps by saying “Open Angry Birds” and commands like “Launch Flight Tracker”. Passbook (hyperlink) helps you with boarding passes, movie passes or redeeming coupons. Also, if you’re at the wrong airplane terminal, Siri will remind you so you don’t miss your flight. How cool is that!

Facetime now goes over cellular where it was previously only over Wifi, but remember to watch that data usage! The new IOS 6 also has the ability to flag the more important e-mail senders so you’re not having to wade through ‘everything’ to  find if something is from a more important sender. I can only hope I am on that list for many folks!

What devices can be upgraded? Onto the IOS upgrade for those of us not ready to pony up for new hardware again. This upgrade will work on iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, iPad2 and iPad3 and the fourth generation iPod Touch as well. A good idea is to upgrade it on the computer you connect to most often where you don’t mind the data being shared.  For instance, don’t upgrade your personal IOS device on a company PC as the data will be there subject to discovery by your employer. Keeping work and personal info separate is a best practice.

How do I do it? There are basically four easy steps here. What’s important is to expect it to take 30-45 minutes and ensure your device is mostly charged before beginning. Also, it can be done over the air using your 3G/4G, but it is much preferred to connect to a computer so it can be backed up locally prior to upgrading. If you wish to perform the upgrade without connecting to a PC or Mac, you’ll need to have at least 2.5 GB free to do it.

  1. Ensure you have the latest version of iTunes installed. Most important item. You don’t get to second base without passing first base. For some, this iTunes upgrade may require a reboot. After iTunes is up to date, connect your iOS device. Then ‘Transfer Purchases’ to not lose those items that you have paid for previously.
  2. Perform a backup of the device using iTunes. A little common sense here will go a long way if it does not go ‘according to plan’. In iTunes, click on your iOS device and the click on ‘Check for Updates’.

  3. Select ‘Download and Update’. This starts the upgrade process in earnest. Some folks have reported that this did not work for them, but when they only asked for “download” then selected “update” separately, it worked for them. A little Plan B here for you.
  4. Be patient. Do not interrupt the upgrade process. There will be activity and status bars on the device during the upgrade. After the upgrade is completed, a screen will prompt for action on the iOS device. You may also want to use the App Store on your iOS device to update any existing apps that have new features unique to IOS 6.  

A Few Tips to Maximize Battery Life. In short, Apple has a history of the upgrades going pretty darn smoothly and the new features are many. The greatest shortcoming here is battery life, so it’s important that you turn off features you don’t use. Here are four easy areas to review.

  1. See what is currently running. To do this, double-click on the round “home” button. You can then hold down an icon until they start wiggling. Shut down the ones you’re not currently using. You’re not deleting anything, just freeing up a little memory. The less memory you use, the longer the battery lasts!
  2. Location Services. This one relates to both security and battery usage. Every program wants to know where you are so it can ‘help you more’. Thing is, I am not sure I want all programs to know where I am as it also tells folks like would-be-burglars that I may not be at home or be able to get there before they can ransack my house or worse. I don’t allow social media apps to access my location, but the Find Friends I allow- my wife or children may need to know where I am. Siri on Apple is infinitely more useful if it know your location as you ask for the “nearest Bank of America’ but if you don’t use Siri, you’d be well-advised to turn it off as well.  Also, as maps can pinpoint your current location if you’re lost, it’s great to know where you are at the current moment.
  3. Turn of Cellular Data when not in use. Although it’s tough to remember, when traveling and a power plug is not always close, you may want to turn off one or the other. If a fast WiFi connection is handy, turn off ‘Cellular Data’ (General, Network, Cellular Data). It keeps your phone from seeking and using cellular 3G/4G connections, but does not prevent you from receiving phone calls.
  4. Turn off WiFi when not in use. The same theory applies here as well. If your ‘Cellular Data’  is ‘On’ and you’re not looking to connect to a WiFi, understand that your phone is constantly seeking a new WiFi connection. This takes its toll on the battery as well.

In a rather large nutshell, that’s how to upgrade and how to save energy to maximize battery life on the Apple IOS devices.

Windows 8 – Worth the Wait!

After finding great stability with Windows 7, I had some reflecting to do before forming an opinion on Windows 8. I had to be realistic as to the past experience and open to the future. After all, it is about the future and its possibilities. It always has been and it will continue to be.  And the new logo also speaks of a new era for Microsoft.

I am also a firm believer in not leaping to something simply because it’s new, but because it brings something to the table that has business value. Things like reducing operating costs, or gaining a strategic advantage over competition, or bringing something new that will benefit education, medicine and other disciplines that have a return, but it may be of a longer term and part of a future vision.

I had to really think back. You see, at fifty-something, I have pretty much seen it all from the start. The relevance comes into play when making comparisons of Microsoft desktop and server operating systems. You see, we may all remember Windows 3.1 as not being so great, but remember XP as being rock solid. That all may be true, but what you may have forgotten is that XP was not truly ‘loved’ until Service Pack 2. That’s right, it’s Windows XP SP2 that became the basis for stability comparisons even though it had a couple more service packs to come.

And who can forget Vista that was like that one uncle you didn’t quite understand then and still don’t to this day.  Being a Microsoft Gold Partner I had three major issues with Vista. First is that it was slower. Second, it was relatively unstable. The third question begged even more explanation. Why create this User Access Control (not so affectionately known as UAC) that incessantly needed my permission and other interfaces that slowed us down. The familiar ‘Select All’ was hidden under ‘Organize’. Not sure what the two have to with each other to this day.  And I digress.

So now we love Windows 7 as much as we probably can, and are fairly pleased with its ease and performance. Now, the wheel appears to have needed some reinventing. After all, if Apple comes out with a new animal-themed operating system annually, shouldn’t Microsoft as well to ‘keep up with the Joneses’? Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if you look at Apple’s Lion versus Mountain Lion, it’s really no more than a service pack-equivalent upgrade. It’s not all new, it’s just got some new features.

Windows 8 promises new features with the stability on Windows 7 and a new Graphical User Interface (GUI), that although will take some getting used to, appears to be worthwhile and will tie Microsoft desktops and mobile devices together nicely. In our first tests, we found it easy to install and use. We loaded a number of programs and all loaded quickly and easily.

To further simplify, there are only two PC versions, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro for businesses that require better security and domain integration. Once it’s released on October 26th, upgrades will be $40 until the end of January in an effort to get folks to get an affordable upgrade. Also, a third version, Windows 8 RT, will be available for the tablet market. From experience, I would think you would be able to order Windows 7 or opt for Windows 8 until at least summer and a Service Pack 1 gets it a bit more dialed in. After that, you will need to seriously consider this platform.

As with any business, testing with a couple computers for a spell before a large deployment also makes sense. Also, checking with key software vendors, like your ERP software vendor, is always good idea to ensure you remain on a supported platform.  A little due diligence goes a long way!




Technology Forecast for Summer 2010

As a business owner, you need to focus on your core business, keeps risks in check, and maximize your IT dollar. As a strategic partner, we provide voice, data, and web services. Our specialties include SQL tuning, data protection strategies, perform system audits to ensure systems are set up in accordance with best practices, and we also handle company moves. Below are the types of items we review with IT professionals, just like those within your organization. In a sentence, we leverage the technology for the benefit of your business.

64-Bit Computing – This year is proving to be the pivotal year for larger adoptions of the 64-bit platform. This is exciting as a great increase in speed will result, providing your applications and databases can run 64-bit. As a direct result of moving to 64-bit, it also makes server virtualization more attractive, as you are really leveraging performance. Server virtualization will allow us to replace two or more servers with one in many instances. Less hardware, less energy and cooling costs, and less rack space required to do the job.

Server Virtualization – The competing products in this space are VMWare and Microsoft’s Hyper-V. Both products are now at the mature point in their lifecycle, though VMWare was here first and has the market share. Server 2008R2 includes the Hyper-V virtualization engine standard. This is one of the most exciting technologies of late, and holds more promise in reducing hardware and energy costs than any other technology today. The concept is that by and large, most servers are underutilized. This is true, but often times, this has been done as application and database vendors have requested ‘separate’ servers, this is done out of their products not performing up to par, due to other applications on the same server or known conflict (will not play nice with others). This also eliminates conflicts between applications and resources, such as processor and RAM. Allocation of RAM and processor are also part of virtualization, so if one application needs more, it’s a click here and there while it’s running.

With virtualization, you could have multiple servers on a single physical server, one running Linux, another Windows Server 2003, another Windows 2008 and so on. This opens up the door to being able to have smaller, yet controlled environments on the same server. You can also reboot one “virtual” server, while leaving the other ones completely unaffected. This technology is a winner.

Intel’s newest processor – It’s not more of the same, it’s more like more and more. As the architecture continues to change, the industry shifts to the new Nehalem processor to meet the growing computiong power requirements. More cache onboard and the ability to allocate regular memory (RAM) to each processor is also part of the newer functionality. New triple memory channels, hyper-threading, turbo boost, and server virtualization technology also significantly increase computing performance. The Nehalem processors are reported to be twice as fast than Quad Core Xeon processors, which plays well to the flexibility and power required for server virtualization.

Server 2008 R2 – Windows Server 2008 R2 succeeds Server 2008, but with a twist. Server 2008 R1 was released as both a 32-bit and 64-bit operating system. But as SP2 was rolled out for Server 2008 R1, it was only for 64-bit flavors. This would appear to greatly limit the 32-bit platform for the future. Server 2008 R2 not only encompasses Hyper-V, but other significant operating system platform features as well. Something important to know is that you cannot upgrade from Server 2008 to Server 2008 R2. Also, remember, just as Server 2008 (non R2) is Vista’s server companion, Server 2008 R2 is Windows 7’s big brother. An important note is that Server 2008 cannot be upgraded to Server 2008 R2.

Windows 7 – As a successor to Vista, Windows 7 is set to restore XP-like performance and the best of what Vista had to offer, with some additional functionality. We currently have 70% of our folks running Windows 7, over half of them 64-bit. Testing with current applications before moving to any new operating system is always advised before moving forward. There are many versions including 32-bit and 64-bit versions here as well, so choosing the right flavor is important and is usually driven by application compatibility, business environment and infrastructure requirements.

Server and desktop hardware – Dell and HP continue to vie in the marketplace. We are using more HP servers than before, as is the industry. Dell “built-to-order only” model is hurting our ability to deliver in a timely manner with many shipping delays. Nearly 90% of the time, we are able to use off-the-shelf configurations from HP and can get it within a day or two. If we have a custom-built need, HP can also provide these as well. Warranty costs are similar, though HP is a bit cheaper not only to buy, but TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is less as well.

Exchange 2010 – Here is yet another release in this area, and the time is now to move here. Moving from Exchange 2003 will be the most common scenario, as biting off every other major Exchange release here makes the most sense for a cost/benefit perspective. pairing this with Ofice 2010 wil maximize the benefit.

Mobile devices – So many new entries here. With the current iPhone 3G and the newly-released iPhone 4G now, Apple continues to make its mark, though we would wait a little for the iPhone 4G to mature and come down in price. The Droid and Droid X, based on a more open platform is making great strides, especially in keeping the price point down with the ever-so-famous 2-year re-up program. We like both the iPhone and the Droid, and also use Blackberry devices. Microsoft will foray back into the phone market this summer with the Windows Phone 7. All these devices work well with Exchange, though Blackberry is the only one that requires server software and an intermediary delivery platform, which to us is not only another point of failure, but a security issue as well.

Apple – Apple does put out a well-packaged product, but the 25% higher cost and limited applications released (although there are always more), keep it from being a unanimous choice for all. Apple also not being able to lock in an agreement with Verizon has many folks unhappy. Releases of iPhone 4G and iPad are welcomed, and we have deployed a few iPads already. They work well when you’re out of town, even when accessing Microsoft Exchange, infrastructures, and private VPNs.