I’ve been using Parallels Desktop for Mac ever since I purchased my MacBook Air a couple of years a go. This virtualization software lets me run Windows on my Mac so that I can use all the data modeling and database tools I need.
Just this week, Parallels asked if I wanted to try out a new product, Parallels Access. (So as to not confuse this with Microsoft Access, I’m going to use the full name of the product in this post.) This product lets me use desktop applications as if they were built for the iPad. It works by installing an app on my iPad, plus a service on my desktops (Windows or Mac). Then when I want to run a “real” application from one of my computers, I can fire up the app on my iPad and start using it. And it pretty much works.
I’m hosting a contest to give away five, yes FIVE, subscriptions for this product. Details at the bottom of this post.
Isn’t This the Same as Remoting In to Your Desktop?
I’m betting right now you’re thinking: “I have RDP or some other remote app and I can use that, but it’s a real pain to navigate around on an iPad.” Yes, yes it is. I’ve tried several remoting apps over the last few years. I usually use them when I am out of my office and have to grab a file or fix something without having to find a computer to use a real keyboard and mouse. And it’s painful. Very painful.
What’s different about Parallels Access is that they’ve added iOS-like gestures and interactions to make it feel like the application you are running is a native iPad app. Instead of telling you about it, let me show you a few:
How I Use Parallels Access
Today I used Parallels access to work with some Excel spreadsheets, which I have done in the past with either iPad apps or via remoting in to a desktop. Both ways are painful. It’s almost impossible to widen a column or cut and paste data in Excel using the iPad and the iPad apps don’t always support all the features I need. I won’t be using this as my main method for working with Excel, database or data modeling tools. But having the ability to pinch to zoom in applications is very nice. In ERwin Data Modeler, I was even able to reposition entities and fine tune relationship lines. That just doesn’t work using a basic Remote Desktop tool. Heck, it doesn’t even work as well on my touch screen desktop.
I also love that the keyboard is an iPad keyboard that features a Windows Key when you are on a Windows desktop and a Mac one when you are on a Mac. That’s how keyboards should work.
I’ll post a more detailed review of how I am using Access to work with my desktop applications in the future. For now, some gratuitous screen shots.
Win a 1 Year Subscription to Parallels Access
There’s a 14-day trial for Parallels Access available, but I have a better deal for you: enter to win one of FIVE one-year subscriptions (worth $4.99 a month or $49 a year) I have to give away via Twitter. Here’s what you need to do:
- Follow me @datachick
- Tell me where you would use Parallels Access. For example, “I would use Parallels Access from my deck, sipping a beverage with @datachick” or “I’d love my data with @datachick”.
- Contest ends Friday, 1 February at midnight EST, so tweet before then.
I’ll pick 4 random winners from the tweets and one special one chosen as the best tweet. Just make sure you mention me (include @datachick in your tweet) and the product (Parallels Access) so I see your entry.
- Your tweet has to mention me and Parallels Access
- Your tweet must be posted publicly – not a DM.
- Your tweet must be published before 1 Feb 2014 at midnight EST
- If you live in one of those places that has laws against these contests (Allô Québec!): Sorry, you can’t be part of this.
- If you live in one of those places that has a law requiring a skills testing question (O Canada!) I will give you a fancy data modeling question to do. No worries, it will be an easy one.
- A winning tweet and your twitter account have to be Safe For Work. Let’s call it “SFW USA”. That works.
- No more than 5 entries from you.
- You don’t have to own an iPad (2nd through current generation), but you’ll need one to use this product.
- No returns or exchanges. No whining. No bad data. No tipping. Bribes are discouraged by Management.
Good luck and get touching and tweeting!
This past weekend I had a great opportunity to use my new Agloves in the field, as I was speaking at SQL Saturday #59 in New York City. I love visiting New York, but it always seems that we visit during a cold spell. The first time Rob and I visited together the wind chill was about –15 and the cold wind tunnel effect of all those tall buildings made it feel as if the weather was going to suck the life right out of us.
My initial review talks about the quality and content of these gloves, but I hadn’t had a chance to use them in the field prior to this week.
What I remember most about our previous trips to New York is trying to take photos in that bone chilling weather, but having to:
- remove my gloves
- swap my gloves for my phone in my purse
- wait for my phone to start up
- enter my phone password
- open the camera app
- wait for the camera to focus
- help the camera focus and choose the right lighting by clicking on the screen
- click on the screen button to take the picture
…and trying to do all that with creeping numbness in my fingers which just made all that take longer.
While it wasn’t quite that cold in NYC for this trip (it was around 38-40 degrees at the coldest), it was still chilly enough that I was happy to have my Agloves and to be able to use my iPhone and iPad without ever having to remove my gloves.
You can see from the pictures above that while we were visiting Rockefeller Center I could take my time to compose a photo. The lighting was tricky there because it was cloudy and the statue of Prometheus was behind scaffolding, so I had to keep setting the lighting and focus properly. Being able to keep my gloves on also meant that I was able to take many more photos than I did the last time.
As the day went on, we walked to most of the regular tourist stops in Manhattan. It was starting to get dark and much cooler by the time we got to Macy’s in Herald Square. More tricky lighting in that the Macy’s windows displays had projection, glass reflections, dimmed lighting and animation.
One of the other benefits that I hadn’t considered when I first purchased these gloves was that I didn’t have to know if the device I was using used the type of technology that required a capacitive touch technology to work. Not all touch screens require this, so regular gloves could work…or they might not…. But I didn’t have to know, I could could keep my gloves on either way.
I didn’t realize how many touch screen devices that weren’t mine I used on a typical trip, but here are some of them:
An ATM machine
I’m betting that most of these last devices, including the ones in the taxis, were not capacitive. I loved the fact, though, that I didn’t have to know either way; I could leave my gloves on and interact with all these machines without getting cold. I have to admit, too, that my inner germaphobe loved that I wasn’t using my bare hands to touch these screens. This was a special bonus.
I’ll be posting some of the pictures we took in New York while we were there so that you can see the results of our having time to compose better photos.
I also checked, just for fun, and the gloves do work on the Xbox 360 controls (on button, DVD eject button) which won’t work with regular gloves. Not sure if I’m ever going to wear them while playing, but I just had to know.
Finally, while the temperature did not dip down below freezing, I found the Agloves to be warm, unlike acrylic gloves, and breathable. They aren’t overly thick, so I was able to tweet and send mail during our walk through NYC, all while keeping warm.
Overall I’d say our field test was a success.
From previous tweets, it sounds like Agloves is going to run a Black Friday special of some sort. You can follow them or search for their Twitter ID to find out what specials they have in mind.
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