Sunday, December 28, 2008

Almighty Macintosh

I've been a switcher for almost ten years (from the last versions of MacOS 8 and 9 something) and I discover something new every day. Mostly, something useful that if I had known earlier it would have saved me a pile of work. More often than I'd like to admit, the new 'discovery' has been sitting there, staring at me all that time, but I was far too sophisticated to 'see' it. Problem is, I'm still suffering from chronic BluScreen-itis, even ten years later... the syndrome that gives you the shivers every time you got to try something new in Microsoft Windows.

How about this as an experience I had this afternoon while trying an iPhone/iPodTouch app that goes under the name of NumberKey. Very simple app that is... it just simulates an external numeric pad, especially useful if you are using a laptop Mac. As you all know, Macbooks have their numerals on the top row and this is not exceptionally convenient if you're used to keyboards with dedicated numeric pads on the right of the alpha section.

How this little marvel achieves that is to use the available Wifi to connect to your Macbook and transform itself into a genuine numeric pad as shown in the picture here. So far so good. What happens though if there's no Wifi available? Suppose you're in the middle of the Kalahari desert! What would you do then?

Well, it appears that Apple thought of that too. With literally two clicks (sic) you turn your plain Macbook into a base station of a new WLAN to which any other wireless devices can connect! Just like that! Well, try that with a Windows box! It actually took twice as much time to connect a freakin' Windows netbook to the Macbook network than it took me to create the slick network in the first place. Anyways, the iPhone/iPod-Touch with the NumberKey swiftly connected to the fresh Macbook WLAN like it'd do with any other WLAN.

That's good to know. Suppose you router gives up the spirits one sunny day. And it's Sunday afternoon! And you got no base station replacement. And you got a bunch of kids screaming about how they crashed their IM chatting with their pals and a spouse who wants to check her mail and surf the 'Gardener's World' of all things. What'd you do then? If you got Windows boxes (I'm sure they can do the same too) you swear yourself to death thru all sorts of manuals and the latest driver updates that you just happen to miss and by the time you fix the mess, if at all, your kids' chatting mates gone away and the spouse hijacked the master TV with the weekly episode of 'Royalty' (true story).

With a MacBook WLAN being able to get set in a microsec though, Bob's your uncle! Everybody's up and running within moments from realizing something was even wrong with the junkyard router you picked up at a discount store the day before.

Morale of the story: Mac rules!

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