It’s almost time to retire your Windows XP computer. On April 8, Microsoft will stop patching Windows XP with security updates. This means that it could be insecure computer when connected to the Internet.
XP has lived a good life. But if you’re still running it on an old computer, consider upgrading. Now you have more choices than ever. You could get a PC (with Windows 7 or 8), a Mac, an iPad, or a Chromebook. Or, if you want to save some money, you could install Linux on your existing Windows XP computer for a fast secure web browsing computer.
The Magic Plan app for iPad and iPhone deserves to have “Magic” in it’s name.
I recently helped an Arlington, VA, customer who had a new iPad and had just moved. They wanted to build a floorplan of their place. Using Magic Plan allowed us to create a floorplan quickly by clicking on the corners of the rooms. You align the rooms, add in windows, make a few adjustments to the estimated dimensions if needed, and you’re done. Once you get used to it, you can have a house done in under an hour.
Then you can even add in furniture to your floor plans or see what it looks like if you do a construction project and knock down a wall.
The app is free to use and requires a subscription if you want to export PDF files for use by an architect.
Many people have an iPhone or iPad as well as a Windows computer. While there are ways to sync an iOS device with Outlook or Windows Mail for contacts and calendar, the syncing never displays things the same way as it does on the iPhone or iPad.
iCloud Web Access
The easiest way to give people access to their information is to use iCloud. Use the icloud.com website to give them access to things in the same way it look on their iOS devices.
Create Web Links on the Desktop
Then drag the the weblinks for the specific App to the desktop. (This is usually the icon to the left of the URL and can be dragged to the desktop.) They’re formatted in the following way:
I like to rename the links from “iCloud Contacts” to just just “Contacts”.
Find New Icons
I also like to make the icons look like the Apple icons. You can use any icons you want, but these are my favorite. I download the Multi-Res ICO versions if available. Download them to somewhere that you won’t later delete. I put them in c:\Windows\icons\
Mail (for @icloud.com email) http://www.iconarchive.com/show/iphone-icons-by-judge/mail-icon.html
This set of icons is overall good if you want to make an iPhone user feel at home on Windows:
Change the Web Links to the New Icons
To change the icon:
- Right click on the link icon on your desktop
- Choose the Web Document tab at the top
- Choose Properties
- Click Change Icon…
- Click Browse… and find the .ico file that you downloaded
Then you can have a Windows desktop that looks like this. If you check off “Keep me signed in” when you login to iCloud, then you have a quick and simple setup that will be comfortable for iPhone or iPad users.
While there is a free solution for printing from iOS using a printer connected to a Mac, Windows has a good paid solution from Collobos called FingerPrint 2. If you’re looking to print from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, this is a simple solution that costs $19.95.
Although the iPad is designed and best used as a finger input device, I occasionally switch to using a stylus, especially when drawing (see my beautiful artwork below). I’ve tried nearly all of the styluses out there and found the new Bamboo Stylus to be the best available so far. The reason is that others have a thicker pointing area that slides poorly and is less precise. The Bamboo Stylus has a smaller more precise tip (they claim 25% smaller than competitors) and feels solid and properly weighted. It is well made in Japan.
Combining the Bamboo Stylus with Sketchbook Pro for iPad ($4.99) makes a powerful drawing system. I prefer this to using a Wacom tablet for drawing since I can directly see what I’m doing under the stylus.
I’m waiting on the Cosmonaut Stylus (should be out in August) to see how its wide-grip compares. But at least until then, the Bamboo Stylus to be the best available so far. The reason is that others have a thicker pointing area that slides poorly and is less precise. The Bamboo Stylus is the best out there.
There is still the inherent downside that you can not rest your hand on the iPad since that will be seen as a touch input. But even with that nit, I enjoy using this stylus.