Archive for the ‘Mac’ Category

The Art of iPhoneography: instructive and inspiring.

I’m increasingly fascinated by iPhoneography as an art form in its own right. The humble camera phone has developed into much more than a handy ‘point and snap’ and the vast number of apps now available for iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets allow you to be as creative as your imagination allows. Sites like Pixels At An Exhibition showcase the stunning work now being produced by mobile photographers.

If you’re looking to get more serious about phone photography, I can highly recommend a couple of items I’ve recently discovered.

The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide To Mobile Creativity is an excellent book by Stephanie C. Roberts that is now an iPad app. It doesn’t just cover the basics but shows you how to get the best out of apps like Hipstamatic, Photo fx and Photoshop Express as well as providing inspiration with interactive profiles of leading iPhoneographers, project ideas and the best sites to share your work on. Beautifully designed and easy to use, it’s a steal at $9.99.

Snap, which launched in June, is a free monthly magazine for iPad and iPhone produced by Hipstamatic that features gorgeous and inspirational work by some of the most creative iPhonoegraphers around as well as tips on getting the most out of Hipstamatic. A great feature is that you can click on every image in the magazine to reveal the specific settings used to take the photo.

Death of a visionary

Posted: October 6, 2011 in Apple, Mac
Tags: , , , , ,

We all knew he had serious health problems. The absences, resignation as CEO and his increasingly gaunt appearance told their own story. But I don’t think any of us expected Steve Jobs to die now. Not at 56.

His legacy not only as a business leader and a technologist but also as a major influence on popular culture is without question.

I never met the man but his DNA is everywhere in my life.  I am writing this on the iMac I work on every day. I rarely go anywhere without my iPhone. Every member of our family has an iPod of some description and one is usually jacked into the car stereo. We have MacBooks and Mac Minis. We download movies every week on Apple TV. The iPad goes with us on every trip.

Millions of others will have a similar inventory of Apple products they never knew they needed but now can’t live without. We’re not all myopic Apple fanboys – we buy the products for the simple reason that they are well-made, innovative and intuitive to use. You just don’t sell more than 28 million iPads [at June 2011] if it isn’t any good.

Jobs and Apple did not invent the personal computer, the MP3 music player, the mobile phone or the table PC. Jobs’ genius – and there is no question that he drove Apple’s transformation over the last 10-15 years – was to redefine what those devices looked like and how they functioned. So radical and successful has this been that the very names – iPod, iPhone and iPad – have become synonymous with those market segments and rivals stumble over themselves to copy and catch up. To do that in one industry segment (Blackberry, Hoover, Sellotape, for example) is an achievement. To do it across three is astonishing.

(more…)

The Old Man Who Read EULAs

Posted: June 15, 2011 in Mac
Tags: , ,

I’m sure like me you don’t read the 30-plus page end-user license agreement (EULA) that now accompanies each new upgrade of iTunes before clicking “Agree”.

But Hollywood star Richard Dreyfuss does … to dramatic and hilarious effect in this audio clip from a recent CNet roundtable podcast.

Apple cuts the cord

Posted: June 8, 2011 in Apple, iPad
Tags: , , , , ,

Having had a day to digest all the Apple announcements at WWDC, it’s clear that iCloud, iOS 5 and Lion represent an evolution in how we will use and interact with our digital devices.

The huge popularity of Apple’s iPhone and iPad clearly point the way to an increasingly wireless and post-PC era and Monday’s keynote promised some welcome developments.

Wireless syncing for one was long overdue. As our home’s one-man IT department, syncing up the iPods, Touches and iPads that have proliferated in our household through my iMac-cum-media hub was becoming a chore. The ability to have all our apps, music, photos, calendars and contacts synced through iCloud will make managing our digital life so much easier and enjoyable. In fact, you will no longer need a Mac at all to activate and start using an iPhone or iPad.

If you have iTunes 10.3 installed, you can already see iCloud in action. New iTunes purchases are automatically synced to all your Apple devices and a new Purchased option shows all the apps or music you’ve ever bought from iTunes and indicates which ones are not on the device you’re using. On your iPad and desperately want to listen to that Lady Gaga album that’s on your iPhone? Just click and iCloud will download it to your iPad.

The full Fall release of iCloud will documents, books and other data between your iPad and desktop and in doing so will make the iPad a much more compelling work device for many people as well as an additional backup and sharing option.

iCloud will also offer iTunes Match – a $24.99 a year service that will mirror up to 20,000 tracks in your iTunes library (not just iTunes purchases) and allow you to stream it anywhere, anytime. Unlike Amazon’s Cloud Player or Google’s Music Beta, you do not have to spend days uploading your music library so all that data will not be counted against your free 5GB of iCloud storage. It remains to be seen if Apple’s service – like Amazon and Google – is US-only and not available to Bermuda users without using a proxy server.

Apple stopped short of offering a Rhapsody or Napster-style subscription service that would enable you to stream virtually any music, but I would not be surprised to see them roll out something along those lines at some point – especially if and when the hugely popular Spotify becomes available in the US.

(more…)

Setting a new Standard

Posted: April 20, 2011 in iPad, iPhone, media, Technology

With the plethora of devices on the market, designing a website – especially a news media one – that works well on all platforms is getting to be more of a headache. Many companies are finding themselves having to develop apps for specific devices – PC, smartphone (with separate versions for Blackberry, Android and iPhone) and iPads and tablets.

The recently launched Toronto Standard  however, is an elegant example of a one-stop solution.

The site features a “liquid layout” built by Toronto design firm Playground Digital which automatically adapts content to suit a reader’s device, whether it’s a desktop or an iPad, thus eliminating the need for device-specific apps.

It looks superb and works really well. And it certainly sets “a new Standard” – the original Toronto Standard last published in 1850, as a printed newspaper, having lasted just two years in business!

If you’re interested in finding out more about adding adaptive elements for your website, Net. magazine also has a good tutorial.

The Atavist is an intriguing new take on digital publishing. Founded by two former Wired writers/editors, it aims to be a home for the type of long-form journalism that is disappearing fast as publications fold and the web fragments into social media and soundbites.

Basically, Atavist produces original, in-depth articles that it offers like music tracks for iPad/iPhone, Kindle or Nook (Android versions are in the pipeline). Prices range from $1.99 for a text-and-photos version to $2.99 for a fully-loaded article with audiobook – you can switch between text and audio without losing your place – and other multimedia content and features.

Atavist says it sees its articles as “a new genre of nonfiction, a digital form that lies in the space between long narrative magazine articles and traditional books and e-books”.

See also: Long-form journalism finds a home (New York Times).

App, app and away

Posted: January 21, 2011 in iPad, Technology
Tags: ,

New to iPad? Overwhelmed by the app store? Here are some to get you started.

Given that Apple flogged some 7 million of them leading up to Christmas, it wasn’t surprising that many of my friends ended up with a shiny iPad in their stockings. What was surprising was how many of them were not Mac users but instantly fell in love with the iPad and as a result have either switched to Macs or are planning to do so.

Needless to say I’ve had calls or emails from several of them asking how to do one thing or another. Most of them, faced with the overwhelming choice of the App Store, simply want to know what are the best apps to get. Obviously what apps you like will naturally depend on your interests and lifestyle (I’m not much of a gamer for example, although I’m rather partial to FIFA 11, Brothers In Arms and Scrabble on the iPad) but here (in alphabetical order) are the apps that I find myself using most often:

Allowabank ($0.99) – As our kids are too young to have bank accounts, I use Allowabank for keeping track of their weekly allowances. You can set it up for regular weekly or monthly allowances (we automatically add “interest” to encourage them to save) and any time they spend anything, we mark it in Allowabank and they can see exactly how much they have. A useful tool for helping them understand the value of money.

Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle (free) – I use both these book readers depending what books are available. I prefer the options and technical wizardry of iBooks (download Alice In Wonderland to see what I mean) but the Kindle has more choice and allows you to share books with other Kindle users.

Apple Remote (Free) – Essential if you have Apple TV. Easy to use and great for controlling iTunes playback to any Apple device on your wi-fi network.

Evernote (Free) – I’ve been a long time user of Evernote which allows you to quickly clip text, images, links and documents for later use. I already have it on my desktop and iPhone so extending it to the iPad and being able to have them automatically sync between each other is a no-brainer.

The Economist (Free, optional paid content) – Arguably the best publication on the iPad right now. If you’re an Economist reader, the $110 annual subscription is well worth it – plus you get access to  online content, archives and you can listen to an audio version of the whole edition. Alternatively, download the free Editors Highlights version for the week’s best stories. Like the ST you have to manually download each edition.

Epicurious (Free) – The excellent cooking website is even more useful on the iPad. We use it constantly as an interactive cookbook – you can also enter ingredients to come up with recipe suggestions and shopping lists. Well worth buying a Griffin stand for.

(more…)