Robert’s Ramblings

Robert Alonso’s Thoughts on Technology and More…


My Law Firm

Posted by Robert Alonso under Opinions

AirSplash, Inc. just released a new iPad application. The new app is dedicated to the legal community and is called, "My Law Firm." It is useful for attorneys who want to take documents, audio recordings, videos and picture evidence into court on their iPad. The software keeps all the information private with a double password protection scheme.

Private BrowsingThe app also includes a private browser that does not save any cookies or history and many other privacy features which are useful when dealing with confidential information. The screen image to the right shows the private browsing module displaying website.

The app also makes it easy to distribute any document stored within it. You can select the document and send it via e-mail directly from within the app. Lawyers can customize the folder structure to accommodate any type of Client/Matter structure that corresponds with their internal policies or time billing system.

Planned enhancements to the app are client relationship management and time billing with an on-line service component. Other enhancements will be based on attorney recommendations.

My Law Firm is based on an app that was previously released as, “AirSplash Media Safe.” The new app has been on sale in the Apple app store since December 20, 2011 and is priced at $3.99.

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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Posted by Robert Alonso under Opinions

Alonso Consulting just introduced an all new design for the web site (aka: Besides having a new look and an easier-to-navigate structure, it also has a refresh of all the state laws.

The Best DWI Defense

The new site now includes a brand new section with listings for rehab facilities in all fifty states. Each entry includes the name and address of the rehab facility, the phone number, web site, information on the type of care, services and programs that are provided as well as payment types. This is obviously a very valuable resource for anyone accused of a DWI or DUI.

There are helpful links to other web sites like National College for DUI Defense, Inc and also to individual lawyers who have paid advertising fees to sponsor a state. Although the site does not offer a rating on any of the lawyers, these are typically highly skilled defense attorneys who will not simply plead a case as guilty and hope for the best. They will take a case to trial and will examine every bit of evidence to try to achieve a positive outcome.

Although not preachy in approach, the site offers valuable insight into blood alcohol content measurement and, more importantly, the harmful effects of alcohol on various parts of the body. It also offers a variety of links to books on DWI/DUI defense as well as breath testing machines and how they work.

Since avoiding a DWI/DUI is the best course of action, we plan to add taxi and limo services by city to a future enhancement of the site and also plan on adding an iPhone and iPad application that will derive their content from the site.

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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iPad 2–Part 2

Posted by Robert Alonso under Hardware, Opinions

In a previous post, I wrote about the deficiencies that I discovered in the iPad 2. I also admitted that I would be a lemming and purchase one on March 11th. I am pleased to publicly announce that, at least in this instance, I resisted the urge to buy anything Apple puts out and calls “amazing.” Let’s face it, the iPad 2 is not amazing. It is just a minor improvement over its predecessor and not worthy of my hard earned cash. I will be holding out for the iPad 3 or 4. Maybe Steve Jobs will relent and provide an SD slot, a micro-USB connector and Flash support. Until then, that cash looks great in my account.

My advice to you is to do the same. Don’t buy this minor update and if you really want an iPad, buy the previous version which is selling at a $100 discount.

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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iPad 2–The Missing Features

Posted by Robert Alonso under Hardware, Opinions

I like what I have heard about the Apple iPad 2. I like that it is 33% thinner and supposedly much faster without losing battery life. I will be one of the multitudes who will be buying it on March 11th, 2011. However, that has not blinded me to the fact that the media is completely crazy about anything Apple does. There is such a lack of unbiased and clear-headed reporting that someone has to point out that the emperor (Apple or Steve Jobs) is missing some clothes.

I have yet to read in any newspaper, magazine or web-based news site what the specs are on the new cameras that are built into the iPad 2. How many megapixels do they feature? Do they have optical zoom? Is there a built-in flash? Good luck finding any of this without without some very determined sleuthing. The only number I have been able to find is that the rear facing camera can shoot video at 720P. This would put the camera in the paltry .92 megapixel range. This is not exactly state-of-the-art nor is it up to par with the 5 megapixel camera in the iPhone 4.

So now that we know why Steve Jobs did not say, “The camera is just amazing!” during his presentation, let’s examine some other deficiencies. The iPad 2 does not have a built-in SD card slot nor a standard micro-USB port. These two would make the device ideal for photographers who want to see their photos on a large screen while they are out in the field taking photos. Apple charges $29 for the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit which includes an SD card and USB adapter that plugs into the the Apple dock port. I think these should be designed into the iPad 2. I would gladly pay more for the iPad 2 if these were accessible on the edge of the device.

The bottom line is don’t drink the Apple Kool-Aid. Look at each new device they release with a critical eye and decide for yourself if it really meets your needs.

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AirSplash Media Safe for the iPad

Posted by Robert Alonso under Opinions

AirSplash Media Safe is a password protected media organizer, document safe, private browser and slideshow viewer in one exciting and highly functional product. It makes it easy to keep all your private files safe and secure from prying eyes.

Unlike other, more expensive products, Media Safe offers you two layers of protection. You can create a regular password and a master password. Users with the master password can see hidden (top secret folders) while others can only see the folders that you have not designated as hidden.

Media Safe - Secret Folders

You also have an extensive set of file operations that make it simply to cut, delete, rename and copy files into folders. It is completely menu driven and easy-to-use.

Media Safe - File Operations 

Key Functionality

- Password protected storage
- Two layers of password protection
- Hidden folders
- Private browser
- E-mail pictures to friends
- Create unlimited folders to organize your media
- Many document types supported with viewer
- Safely store other files and transfer them as if it were a USB flash drive
- Multi-touch support to zoom, go to next picture and save pictures from private browser
- USB file transfer through iTunes
- Apple VGA connector support (not many others have this)
- Composite AV Cable connector support (view on TVs)

Media Supported

All Apple supported picture formats are available in Media Safe. These include files with the TIFF, TIF, JPG, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, BMPf, ICO, CUR and XBM extensions. All of these can be displayed through the Media Safe application and through Apple’s VGA connector on a large screen. Audio formats are MP3, WAV and AIFF files. Video formats are MOV, MP4, MPV and 3GP. Some AVI files are also supported if they use an Apple supported codec.

Media Safe is truly a versatile program. In addition to the various media formats supported, it can also display files with the following extensions: PDF, KEY, NUMBERS, PAGES, XLS, XLSX, DOC, DOCX, HTM, HTML, PPT, PPTX, RTF, and TXT. When you save one of these files into Media Safe, it is displayed with an appropriate icon to show the file type. The name of the file is also displayed. If you select one of these icons, the file is opened in the viewer.

Media Safe - Document Viewers - PDF

Private Browsing

Media Safe makes it easy for you to safely view sites that you do not want tracked. The built in browser will not save a history of your browsing, nor cookies. You can go to any site, browse the information and pictures there and then save any pictures you like directly into the Media Safe application. This is the ultimate in safety and security.

Media Safe - Private Browsing

USB Stick Functionality

Media Safe supports many types of documents and media types. However, you can use it to safely store non-supported file types as well. Just use the iTunes Share feature and copy any ZIP, RAR or other type of file that you want to transport into Media Safe. These will be displayed with a safe icon and file name. This will let you know that they are safe and secure until you decide to move them back to a desktop computer.


The slideshows are simply awesome. You can select a folder with your favorite pictures. To start the slideshow, touch a picture and then touch the “play” icon. Sit back, relax and enjoy the show. If you have the Apple VGA or Composite AV Cable connector, you can view these on a big screen.

Movie Playback

Media Safe makes it easy to travel with movies that you do not want to be discovered if your iPad is lost or stolen. Those home movies of the kids and family are safe and secure in this application. With the correct password, you can navigate to your movie folder and select the movie you want to view. There are controls for audio, zooming, fast forwarding and going backwards through your movies or video files.

Media Safe - Movie Playback

Audio Playback

You can also store and play audio tracks with Media Safe. Any of those special songs or messages that someone has left you on voice mail, can be stored and listened to securely with the right password.

Bottom Line

This application does more than similar one on sale in the App Store, is less expensive and is incredibly easy-to-use. Buy it now for $2.99 and please give it a review once you have used it for a while.

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting
AirSplash, Inc.

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Enabling the Partner Repository in Ubuntu 10.04 (Linux)

Posted by Robert Alonso under Advice, Software

I am in the process of setting up Alfresco Community Edition on Ubuntu 10.04. In case you don’t already know, Alfresco is an open source collaboration suite that is a replacement for the Microsoft SharePoint offering. It requires that you install the Sun Java Development libraries. These are not a part of the Ubuntu repository. You must update a file called sources.list and run a command to obtain access to the partner repository which includes the Sun Java JDK. Here’s how you do it:

1. sudo su root

(enter password)

2. vi /etc/apt/sources.list

3. Uncomment the two lines that I have bolded and italicized below:

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from Canonical’s
## ‘partner’ repository.
## This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is offered by Canonical and the ## respective vendors as a service to Ubuntu users.
deb lucid partner
deb-src lucid partner

(save the file)

4. apt-get update Once this update is finished, you are ready to install the Sun Java JDK and all the other components that are required.

(I know that is entry is a bit more technical than most that I write about, but it is something that I am sure is holding up a lot of people. It took me a little while to figure it out.)

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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Amazon Opens Wireless Store

Posted by Robert Alonso under Advice, Hardware

I have to confess that I am a major fan of Amazon. They have consistently delivered on time and provided me with exceptional customer service. Whenever I have complained about anything, they have immediately taken action and not tried to blame UPS or some other third party. This is in sharp contrast with Borders. I recently ordered a book from them and was informed that it was on back order. After two months of waiting, I still had not received the book. When I complained and told them that I was cancelling the order the operator said she had to e-mail the warehouse and that I would get a confirmation once it was cancelled. No apology was offered and I also had to wait 10 days to get the credit back on a mailed gift card since the original order had been placed on a card. This is horrible! I expected to be credited immediately so that I could buy an alternate book that I wanted. Instead, I purchased that book and four others from Amazon. Amazon delivered the books the next day even though I was only eligible for two day free shipping. That is what I call service. I think in the world of ecommerce, Borders is doomed and should give up now.

The fact that Amazon is so good with books, computer parts and computers has gotten me excited about a new web site that they have put up for selling wireless phones and service plans. You can get to it by clicking here. I recently purchased a Mi-Fi router for my iPad through Amazon and can tell you that I was very satisfied with the transaction. It cost me $.01 with a two year plan. This was cheaper than the price on Verizon’s web site. You can get any of the following popular phones for $.01:

Motorola Backflip Android Phone Blackberry Bold 9700 HTC Tilt 2 Windows Phone Palm Pre Plus Phone
Samsung Mythic a897 LG Shine II GD710 Samsung Convoy U640 BlackBerry Bold 9000

If instead you want the Motorola Droid or HTC HD2 Windows phone, you can get the Droid for $19.99 as of this writing and with HD2 for $99.99.

Motorola Droid A855    

HTC HD2 Windows Phone

Happy shopping!

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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iPad is Awesome! (and fast too!)

Posted by Robert Alonso under Hardware, Software

On April 5th, 2010, I was one of those so called “early adopters” who went to a BestBuy early in the morning to buy an Apple iPad. It is bad enough that I woke up early on a Saturday to do this, but I also had to endure a great deal of sales incompetence at the BestBuy, a long line and product shortages that cleared up as I made the line to make my purchase. (Supposedly, a truck pulled in with more units while I was on line.) News reports have indicated that 300,000 iPads were sold that day. I purchased two of them, a 64GB and a 16GB WiFi models. The latest sales numbers that Apple has released show that over 1 million iPads have been sold in one month.

The iPad is a device that I have wanted for over two years. I own Sony’s e-reader, but have always been disappointed by the black and white screen and speed. I wanted a supercharged e-book reader that could also be used for other purposes. In my opinion, the iPad was a dream device. I envisioned it as a large iPod Touch or iPhone and in many ways it is. There is one way, however, in which it is drastically different—it is blazingly fast. Yes, super fast. The new processor that Apple designed and put in the device is super charged. When you move your finger across the screen, it responds instantly. This makes the iPad a joy to work and play with.

Much has been made about the 150,000 iPhone apps that are available. The iPad will let you run these, but they look horrible. Apple doubles every color dot on the screen to make it bigger on the iPad screen. The graphics and letters look terrible in this mode. Fortunately, there is a mode that lets you run these apps in the original size. This gives you an app centered in the iPad screen with a huge black border. This being said, I do not think that this is a major problem for Apple or for iPad buyers. The reason I don’t think so is that there is so much money to be made in making iPad-specific applications, that many developers are hard at work on these. Some of the early iPad apps that I have tested are elegant and useful, others are just spectacular. I recommend GoodReader for storing documents, photos, PDFs, ZIP files and any other type of data that you want on the iPad and need to have password protected. GoodReader does an excellent job at file management and at connecting to a variety of servers using a multiple protocols. It is $.99 well spent. Two free apps that are spectacular are Yahoo! Entertainment and ABC Player. These are just beautiful apps that can be used for obtaining entertainment information or watching ABC shows in gorgeous quality.

If these first apps are any indication, the iPad will have hundreds or thousands of applications that will make the device even more useful over time. I am so convinced of this that I have created a new company called, AirSplash, Inc. just for the development of applications for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. You can visit the web site at This is a preliminary web site that will be enhanced over time. Our first application for the iPad is out in the App Store now. It is a simple, easy-to-use and graphically stunning calculator. (Yes, it is weird that Apple chose not to include one with the iPad.) It has been on sale for four days so far and the sales results are encouraging. You can view it (or buy it for $.99) by clicking here.

AirCalc by AirSplash, Inc. - buy it for under a dollar AirCalc iPad Calculator Portrait AirCalc iPad Calculator Landscape

We are working on many more apps. This one was our way of testing the market.

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting &
AirSplash, Inc.

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I have not written about Windows 7 Phone because I have been contemplating its implication to the advancement of computing, telephony and gadgetry in general. Microsoft wiped the slate clean with Windows Phone 7 and acknowledged that its previous offerings were less than stellar. I never thought that the Windows Mobile platform was undesirable, it had just become very dated compared to offerings from Apple, Sony, Nokia and Google. Windows Phone 7 may just be Microsoft’s lucky seven that wins back some of the phone users that have moved on. It may also lure in a new set of consumers. I can easily see it as very appealing to two sets of customers—the very young, hip social crowd and the serious business user. You may not think that this is possible, but it is because of the magnificent user interface that Microsoft has designed (and is still improving).

The user interface is no longer an underpowered version of the Windows desktop with a “Start” button and menu system. Instead, it is a series of large colorful tiles that expand into spaces. Each of these spaces is a window into a large pane that is full of information. Some of these spaces are dedicated to People, Music & Videos, and Pictures. Others are more business oriented like e-mail, search and office connectivity. The People space includes information gleaned from Facebook and presents a constantly updated view of your friend’s updates and profile pictures. This will attract the socially voracious younger crowd. The Xbox Live platform that is integrated into the device will also appeal to the younger user. Everyone loves Music, Videos and Pictures so these spaces will have broad appeal and are so well designed and tightly integrated with the phone that they surpass the iPhone. The business oriented space contains sophisticated Outlook-like e-mail that is constantly synchronized with Exchange server. It also synchronizes with Microsoft Office OneNote and SharePoint Server. These business functions put it ahead of all other phones and makes the Microsoft server offerings even more appealing.

The hardware that is planned for the Windows Phone 7 must adhere to a hardware specification that Microsoft has created. All the phones must have multi-touch screens, a powerful processor and three buttons for navigation. This is a departure from Microsoft’s laissez faire attitude from the past. Fortunately, it should help create a Windows Phone 7 experience that rivals Apple’s iPhone experience. The viewing spaces are all larger than the viewing area of the screen and are navigated by dragging them across the viewing area with your finger. Responsive hardware is critical to making the Windows Phone 7 navigation work well and feel like a quality product.

I am excited about Windows Phone 7, but not because it is a new generation device that integrates personal and business information seamlessly. I am excited about it because it is a new software platform that demonstrates Microsoft can still be creative when challenged. It has the potential to be much more than a phone platform. I believe that Microsoft could use it as a new tablet operating system. I can see it being more useful on a tablet form factor than the iPhone (or iPod Touch) operating system. It is more intuitive, more beautiful and encompasses everything that the vast majority of people would want to do on a tablet. I also think it is better than having Windows 7 on a tablet. It is perfectly geared for touch computing. I give Microsoft an A+ for Windows Phone 7 and for the potential that it has on other form factors.

To see demos of the user interface:

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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CardScan 800c = Excellent Support

Posted by Robert Alonso under Advice, Hardware, Opinions, Software

I purchased a CardScan 800c based on a recommendation from a colleague. I saw him scanning a stack of business cards effortlessly and asked him what he was using. He told me that he was using a scanner called “CardScan Executive.” He stressed the “Executive” part because he said that he had purchased a lower end unit from the company that he did not like. The “Executive” version is also known as the CardScan 800c.

The scanner is extremely easy to use. You connect it to your computer, load the software and start placing your business cards into it one by one. The unit will scan the card, save the image of the card and then recognize the relevant company, address, phone, fax, web site and e-mail fields. The data is automatically entered into the included organizer software. You can then verify that it has obtained the correct data by looking at it and the image of the card on the screen. From experience, I can say that it is over 90% accurate. It sometimes gets confused with elaborate logos that are placed on cards in lieu of the spelled out company name.

Once the data is in the organizer software you can have it synchronize with Outlook manually or automatically. This is a great feature and a time saver. I have it set up to automatically sync with

Outlook. Since I have my iPhone automatically synchronizing with my Outlook contacts, all it takes a simple and quick scan of a card to get all its data into my iPhone. This is how gadgets should work.

I am very happy with the scanner and with the results. I am even happier with the customer service that the company provides. Dymo is the company that sells the CardScan. My unit would not work after an upgrade to Windows 7 on my machine. I am not sure what happened to it, but after suggesting I try a new driver, reinstalling the USB cable and other things that I had already tried (I am a computer consultant.), the customer service representative thought that it might be a hardware failure. He sent me an RMA number so that I could return it to the company. Being without the unit for a few days and having to pack it up and send it were not an exciting prospect for me. However, the next day I was pleasantly surprised to receive a box from the company with a replacement unit and a prepaid Fedex slip to use for sending the defective one back. I unpacked the new unit, plugged it in and it has been working perfectly. I sent the other one back in the new unit’s box. That is what I call excellent service. I will buy products from Dymo before I ever buy from a competitor based on this excellent experience. Kudos to Dymo!

I wholeheartedly recommend this product.

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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