Category Archives: Tech Stuff

Any Idea What This Means?

all I know is that I’ve lost almost a week of work… or about 100hrs of effort! (yes I work long days)

It’s what I was greeted with this afternoon, when I rebooted my Mac and opened an Illustrator file I’ve been working on since 23rd May (Yes almost two months!). Thankfully I’m religious about backing up, but even still I got caught out, as the file became corrupted days ago, but because I’ve had it open all this time, every time I saved, it was adding those changes to a corrupted file, so I had to go back 5 days to find a file that would open!

This is a major pain in the arse, as I was so close to finalising the project, the past couple of days have been tweaking and tidying up the document (it’s the interface master file for the new no paper iPhone app).

Thankfully I’d exported some of the screens so I could test how they worked on the iPhone, which is just as well, as they’re my only reference now!

Oh well no time to moan, I’ve a deadline to catch up on!

Olloclip iPhone Lens Adapter

The Olloclip is a simple idea that’s destined to sell incredibly well. With everyone predominately taking photos with their mobile phone, and with the iPhone being the out and out winner in terms of Flickr uploads, the Olloclip adds a wide angle and super wide fish eye lens to your iPhone, plus it has a macro feature (although personally I’d prefer a wide angel and telephoto lens combo as opposed to a fish-eye lens, but hey, it’s still a great idea). NB: this will only work on an iPhone not the new iPad

As you can see from the links below, it’s not the first clip on lens or adapter for the iPhone, but it’s certainly the most compact and easiest to keep in your pocket.

olloclip macro photo

Olloclip

Kickstarter

35mm lens adapter
Owle lens adapter 

Have a Camper Day

I just stumbled across a video of the Have a Camper Day iPad / iPhone app.

It’s gorgeous here today in London (far too nice for me to be stuck in doors working, but needs must!)… anyway this app would brighten up the gloomiest of days, and by the look of the forecast I might need it tomorrow!

If you don’t have an iPad or iPhone, not to worry, you can still use it in all it’s glory on their Have a Camper Day website

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It’s Official, The iPad2, Gives You Wood

I’d seen the Miniot iPhone covers, and while very nice (I do love wood), they weren’t really my thing, plus I don’t have a cover on my iPhone anyway… but my iPad is another story. I just stumbled upon this video on Engadget, it almost makes me want to go out and buy an iPad 2… almost.

NB: unlike Apple’s own Smart Covers that has protruding magnets, the Miniot remains flush on all sides!

Miniot

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2 Million Users in 4 Months = $7m Investment!

instagr.am have announced that they’ve reached almost 2millions users in only 4 months of launching their app for the iPhone, but not only that, they’ve secured themselves $7m in funding! Hipstamatic must be kicking themselves.

But instagr.am weren’t the first to have this idea, Picplz beat them to it and have released their software on both the iOS and Android (instagram is only on iOS), although instagram have now released an API so it probably won’t be long before someone writes an Android app for them. PicPlz also has Creative Commons integration and built in analytics, but does it have $7m in it’s back pocket and the likes of Jack Dorsey (twitter founder) and Adam D’Angelo (ex CTO at Facebook, co-founder of Quora) sitting on it’s board now? no it doesn’t!

plus here’s a post by AppBoy back in October: Five things instagr.am got right

Instagr.am Press announcement

Is 2011 The New 1984?

It was broadcast just once during the 1984 Super Bowl, but that’s all it needed, as when Ridley Scott directed Apple’s iconic and multi-award winning 1984 advert, he created an advert that captured the very essence of what Apple was at that time. The underdog, fighting against the tyranny of the corporate machine, hoping to bring choice to the consumer. Jump forward 27yrs, the tables have turned, Apple have without doubt become their nemesis of years gone by (they are now the world’s 2nd largest company in value terms!)

I’ve been an Apple user for 25yrs (since 1986), I’ve bought more Macs than I care to remember (probably more than a 100 if I include my businesses and employees), yes I’ve got several iPods laying around the house on shelves and in drawers, Time Capsules, an Air Express connected to my music centre, a Mac Mini under my TV (no Apple TV), a couple of iPhones and of course an iPad… so yes I’ve bought heavily into the Apple eco-system over the years. I’m not one of those Mac is better than PC bores, each to their own is what I say, I’ve made my choice… the better informed one of course.

Although they’re not the first to do so, even Apple did it themselves by adding an iPod to the woman to launch the iPod, plus see DoubleTwist’s Choice video below… but Motorola’s Xoom advert that aired during yesterdays’ Super Bowl and parodies Apple’s 1984 advert, by turning it on Apple becoming the very thing they poked fun at originally, is very clever, or is it? As a longstanding Apple user, yes I understand the sad truth that Apple has changed, and not for the better… plus I’ve seen the original advert, but most of the white ear bud wearing iDrones won’t have, these guys are blindly buying into the iOS platform (you only have to see the last video below for a parody of that), these guys will likely miss the subtlety of the advert, or worse still, they may take offence at being portrayed as iDrones?

Either way, it made me smile when I saw the advert, but it won’t make me run out to buy a Xoom

Original Apple Advert

Motorola Xoom

iPod Version

DoubleTwist Parody announcing Choice

iPhone 4 vs HTC Evo AKA I would like an iPhone 4

Park Chan-wook is Hooked on iPhone 4

I’m a fan of Park Chan-wook work, I think his vengeance trilogy of “Sympathy for Mr Vengeance”, “Old Boy” & “Lady Vengeance” are fantastic films, I appreciate they’re not to everbody’s taste, they are very dark in nature, but they certainly make you sit up and think.

Now he’s done something rather different, well for a professional and highly respected movie director that is. He’s shot his latest film, entitled “Paranmanjang” (Night Fishing), on several iPhones with special lenses attached (something I’ve discussed before here, here and here).

Of course he’s not the first to make a film using an iPhone (apparently this is the first music video filmed using an iPhone 4), but it looks like he’s the first professional Director create and release a film to the general public, the movie will screen in South Korea this weekend.

Shot on a budget of only £85k, the film is 30mins long and tells the story of a man that hooks a mysterious dead woman on his line while night fishing, but if that’s not strange enough, things take another twist as she wakes up and attacks him!

I can’t help but be reminded of David Lynch’s YouTube video, where he complains that people watching movies on an mobile phone are missing the point, he must be kicking himself now, as he never thought about doing it the other way around.

Trailer

David Lynch

Digital Magazine Sales Dropping on iPad

Continued from a previous post… Why are digital magazines on the iPad already in decline, after the initial gold rush users are losing interest in the digital versions. Wired, which sold 100K issues of it’s first iPad release, then managed to sell an average of 31K in the following months, with only 23K for October and 22K for November (for comparison they sold 130k printed versions in Oct-Nov).

Why is this happening?

It’s too early to say for sure (this is a very new market space), but general consensus is that Apple’s lack of subscription based payment is a major reason, meaning users have to manually purchase individual magazines rather than automated payments, plus these work out being more expensive. There’s rumours that Apple are about to roll out subscription based payments, hopefully it won’t be too little too late.

But will it be the answer, possibly, but I believe magazines and news networks need to look at the iPad and tablets in an entirely different way, rather than simply a medium for them to spout out digital versions of their print publications.

I’ve read numerous blogs and reports saying print is dead, but there’s new print magazines being released every week, so that doesn’t seem to ring true to me. Consumers still wish to consume, but the way they consume information is different now, it’s available instantaneously from so many sources and with social networks that information is becoming more and more driven by their friends, associates and their own likes and dislikes.

Flipboard on the iPad is a wonderful example of this, never before has my Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds looked so good, and been so engaging. Now if I could subscribe to several news networks, magazines etc all within a single app, and micro pay for each article as I read it, I’d be happy, as I only pay for the articles that grabbed my eye and interested me, and the software would automatically highlight related articles from all my subscribed sources and suggest new ones from other popular sources I may not have heard about and would have never found on my own.

Hands up who has ever read an entire newspaper or magazine, cover to cover? Precisely, so why pay for the whole thing when you only read a fraction of it? So rather than getting what you pay for, how about only paying for what you want? Who wouldn’t pay a penny or a cent or two per news item or magazine article that they read, as long as the payment part was transparent and managed for them, most people would give this a go, especially if they knew they could set a cap, or would have access to the whole issue if they went over a certain percentage of articles. Adverts can still be utilised, they could even be used against payment, watch an ad, get the article for free or at a reduced rate.

The technology is certainly there, the main thing holding it up, is publishers being scared to give it go through fear of losing control of their content and user base, but if they don’t do it soon willingly, then their hands will be forced by market forces, and they’re have less room to negotiate!

Who could pull this off, Apple, Amazon, Google, they could all do it, although I feel Apple is best placed for the micropayments, plus by utilising the iPad and the iOS platform, far more engaging advertising can be achieved than on a Kindle. Google just don’t have the payment side worked out properly. Apple on the other hand do, they have iTunes, ease of use and making micropayments is already there. I’ve read often that micropayments won’t work as users are put off by the fear of accumulating enormous bills at the end of the month, but the success of the App Store squashes that claim, often I’ve purchased apps at £0.59 (the minimum charge), for Apps I know nothing about, or will only use for a day or so.

With rumours of the next iPhone and iPad finally having Near Field chips, Apple are in a prime position to take on the big credit card companies that have been dragging their heels on NF for years.

An application that fuses Flipboard and Apple’s iBook into a magazine / news RSS reader, come social app linked to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, that microcharges you for articles as and when you read them, embedded with iAds, all linked back to your iTunes account, would be a very powerful and profitable application, and would be the perfect way for Apple to build it’s own social network (which it’s hungry to do), and utilise it’s new cloud data centre.

The Verizon Waltz

It wasn’t long ago that Verizon were parodying Apple’s “There’s an App for That” adverts, in order to gain subscribers from AT&T to their own network, but it appears the two network giants have made up and become friends in their latest joint advert! Or maybe they’re both worried about the latest T-Mobile advert, which highlights how both of their networks are somewhat lacklustre in comparison!

Instagr.am

A while back I waxed lyrical about a fantastic Photography iPhone App named Hipstamatic, which I use almost daily and used extensively on my recent trip to Cambodia. Well I’ve just stumbled across another App named Instragram (a mash up of Instant and Telegram).

Unlike Hipstamatic which adds the effects to your photo as you take it (you have to wait as it does it, which can be frustrating as you may miss another photo opportunity) Instagram can add the effects after you’ve taken the photo, so you can use the built in iPhone camera app then add the effects afterwards. This is a very handy feature which I wish Hipstamatic would allow, or at least release another app that did this.

Anyway this is about Instagram, they’ve only been going three months and they’ve got over a million users already, impressive I hear you say, but what’s also impressive is that the App is FREE!! So you have nothing to lose by downloading it and trying it out for yourself.

But the thing that really sets Instagram apart (and something I think Hipstamatic should learn from), is the online community built right into the App… Instagram’s not just about taking cool photos and storing them for later, it’s about sharing your cool photos with your friends and the wider community right now, either on Instagram’s own network or on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, Posterous or Tumblr.

I’ve only been playing with Instagram for less than an hour, but it looks like fun, I admit it’s effects don’t appear as wild and as experimental as they are in Hipstamatic, but maybe that’s a good thing, depending on your way of doing things and the look you want to achieve.

http://instagr.am

The End of the Paper Notepad is Nigh!

I appreciate this is a concept rendering, but if the NoteSlate uses the Kent Display technology, then the promised sub $100 price point should be achievable, after all, the BoogieBoard, which uses the same screen technology retails for only $40… although the lack of a save function on the BoogieBoard is a major drawback, but at that price you can’t exactly complain, it does what it says on the tin, it replaces small white boards or that notepad beside your phone.

But the NoteSlate is proposing more than that, it’s trying to replace the notepad once and for all… and there’s a good chance it could succeed.

It offers a 180 hr battery (that’s over a week of continual use! So a month of practical use between charges), unlike the BoogieBoard it can save multiple notes, has a USB, an SD card slot, a 3.5 jack for audio playback and even WIFI. A promised future (free) firmware update will allow PDF viewing.

They’re also planning to roll out a coloured version (although limited to a few basic colours, but useful for highlighting sketches)

I think being able to erase parts of a drawing, thus editing mistakes and allowing development of an idea or drawing, would be a major add on, making the use of the NoteSlate more akin to using paper and pencil, rather than paper and pen.

But the real killer add on would be being able to record audio while making notes! That would make the NoteSlate the perfect boardroom and meeting device!

At under $100 a piece, I can’t see a facility offering conference or meeting services, or a live events organiser not wanting or having these sitting in every meeting, breakout or symposium room, not to mention too numerous other sectors or industries. Plus if they offered an automated centralised storage system locked down by device MAC address they’d be no stopping them (of course we may be able to help them there!).

So are we closer to the day of no paper notepads, absolutely!

NoteSlate
BoogieBoard

Android 3.0 Honeycomb

It would appear my previous post about 20 tablets so far being announced at CES was premature, apparently there’s been over 200 so far! So there’s no doubting that 2011 will be the year of the tablet, but what isn’t clear just yet, is who will be the winners and who will be the losers (The Motorola Xoom looks like this years Tablet to watch).

What is clear however, is Google have invested a huge amount of resources and thinking into the next version of Android, plus their Open Source approach is paying huge dividends, it’s obvious they will win no matter which hardware manufacturer wins or loses, as their OS takes the lion’s share of upcoming tablets. As you can see from the video, Android 3.0 is a radical redesign and will propel the OS popularity even further.

A big question circulating at the moment is what will Apple do in response with the iPad to all these new tablets? Unfortunately my guess is, not much right now. It’s not like they didn’t expect to see a huge range of tablets being announced at CES this year, but Apple aren’t know to make knee jerk reactions, they will continue with their meticulously planned iPad 2 release in a month or so and it will be seen by many as safe yet lacklustre upgrade, both in hardware and software (unlikely to have any major OS updates, just functionality and apps, ie camera app etc). iOS is great on phones, but already it’s looking a bit cumbersome, even Microsoft’s Windows Mobile has the edge in many respects, so iOS on the iPad, while functional, is hardly showing the hardware and the platform off to it’s full, there’s so much more Apple could and should be doing. Their desktop OSX has always been their crown jewels and was always years ahead of the competition, but the last couple of updates have lacked any huge innovations, and the competition has caught up.

Apple are of course hugely successful and make incredibly robust and well integrated hardware and software solutions, but they really need to pull the rabbit out of the hat with the next major iOS update, otherwise within a couple of years, their dominance of the tablet and smart phone markets will have all but disappeared.

Android Honeycomb Showcased at CES

interview with Matias Duarte (Director, Android User Experience)

Hey Man, You Wanna Buy Some Tabs?

Is there a single large electronics company NOT announcing a Tablet at CES this year? I’ve read about 20 so far and the numbers keep growing! There’s dual screens (NEC Cloud Communicator, not good), one with a coloured e-ink display (Pocket Book Mirasol, I’m really interested in that one!), one using a LED / eInk Display (Notion Ink Adam, really neat idea, and finally announced!), plus numerous other me toos… but thankfully at least one of them doesn’t look like an iPad clone (I mean in the hardware design department, although it’s still pretty similar)… plus it’s the one that’s been eagerly awaited by the tech industry and I’ve been really interested in seeing, Blackberry’s Playbook (personally I don’t think it’s the best name for a Tablet that will be purchased predominantly within the business sector, but what do I know).

Regardless of the name, it looks like Blackberry have been working hard at creating a pretty slick Tablet, that’s feature rich, responsive, comfortable in the hand and is likely to sell very very well when it’s finally released in the coming months. It’s most similar competitor and undoubtedly main rival after the iPad, is Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, which has been out a few months already and has been selling well (thankfully that’s another manufacturer that decided to differentiate itself from the iPad a bit, by adding a white backside). I’ve played around with a Galaxy Tab and it seemed pretty nice, although I found the UI a little frustrating at times, but I’m sure after a few hours I’d get used to it.

Also Google unveiled it’s latest upcoming release, Android 3.0, Honeycomb, designed specifically for Tablets, as the review and video shows, this looks nothing like previous versions of Android for mobile phones… so I’m not sure what the UI of the next release of Android for mobile phones will look like, but keeping the Android UI consistent will be on everyones mind, let’s hope it’s on Googles too.

Neither of these would make me want to part with my iPad, I’ve invested way too many years in Apple and it’s eco-system for me to change now, but new uses without a legacy will find them worthy competitors and on a hardware only comparison, way ahead on features to the current iPad. Although Steve Jobs would disagree entirely, I feel these smaller sized Tablets are an ideal compromise of portability and function.

My iPad is great, often I’ve carried it instead of my MacBook for meetings and presentations, it’s great for recording and taking notes and the screen is an ideal size to show video and slides etc, but it’s too big to carry all the time. I didn’t bring my iPad with me on a recent backpacking trip to Cambodia, as it’s just too big and heavy (although I packed my Kindle!), plus even when I do have it with me on the underground, I don’t feel comfortable using it for reading or catching up on stuff, but with a 7″ version I would. Steve’s argument that a 7″ screen is too small for a tablet to be a useful touchscreen device is flawed, he only has to reach into his pocket and pull out his own iPhone to realise that, yes I agree the larger screen on the current iPad is great when you’re in the office, or at home, but out and about it’s a little cumbersome.

Of course Steve won’t be seen to go back on his word, sadly there won’t be a 7″ iPad anytime soon, if ever (shame as I would have bought one, another 10″ screen with a speed bump and cameras will not be enough incentive for me to purchase a new one)… although of course he never said there wouldn’t be a new 7″ iPod Touch! we live in hope

Engadget Blackberry Play Book review
Samsung Galaxy Tab website
Android 3.0 Honeycomb video

Project iPad

Rupert Murdoch is probably pretty pissed off at Richard Branson right now, as he’s just released the first daily magazine for the iPad, named Project, months ahead of Murdoch’s very own daily, to be named The Daily

You can download the app for free today, then pay a monthly subscription of £1.79 / £$2.99, for continual updates, so far the content looks pretty good, although I feel the approach to navigation isn’t right. It follows the same approach akin to Wired magazine, taking a print layout analogy and transposing it to the iPad. You may think, so what, it makes sense to me, and you’re right it does, until you look at the different approach used in say Inkling (although Inkling no longer works on my iPad, since I updated it to 4.2), they approach the navigation in a totally new way, which makes perfect sense, but rather than spell it out here, try it for yourself or look at the video on the Inkling homepage. Granted their GUI is designed for books not magazines, but it’s so logical once you start using it.

Anyway I’m sure Project will be a hit and will attract plenty of press coverage in the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see if it makes and appearance on the NookColor.

Project Mag
iTunes download