iOS

Apple Fitness

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything techy… been a long time since I’ve written anything but hey. Today is iOS 9 release day, so prepare for the masses to bork Apple’s servers and/or complain that they have no space for the update on their devices and this is somehow Apples fault.

Last week they announced a new iPad pro that is the size of a house, comes with a stylus (Sorry Steve) and is clearly aimed at the business market. An example along side the 6/6s plus of Apple providing people with what the markets think they think they need, rather than just doing their own thing. Oh and there was a new iPhone, fetching in ringpiece pink. (I think that’s what they called it)

All that is not what excites me. If I was a app developer I wouldn’t be writing this, I’d be busy making a million dollars. Tim Cook’s barmy army announced a new Apple TV, with Apps. Now here’s the idea, you can have it for free. Apple TV Fitness.

The Apple TV coupled with the Apple Watch could, with a clever app on both devices, provide a home aerobic workout that is personalised, not only to you in general, but to you at that very instant. The apple watch monitors your heart rate and motion, so could influence the workout you see on screen. No more gym membership, no more putting up with the odours of farty Clarence whilst listening to the inane coaching stylings of Jenni “Woo yeah c’mon”

You are slowing, mid workout, Apple TV fitness coach encourages you. You do something well, there is praise. Want to workout with Homer Simpson or Ozzy Osbourne, it happened to Sat Nav why not workout? People will pay for different trainers/voices. If someone writes these apps I don’t have the skill to write there is money to be made. Hell throw in Apple Music in there as well and you could become an “iron man” led by Ozzy accompanied by “Iron Man”

I know you have Wii Fit and a few titles for Kinect and PS4. This however could change the game. Not for me, I have no time to keep fit, I’m off to sign up for the developer programme and to learn Swift.

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Poem: iWish My Brain Was Like My iPod

iWish my brain was like my iPod,
Designed by Jonny Ive,
Everything stored in memory,
Keeping me alive,
iCould plug my brain in,
To sync with something new,
If it turned out not quite right,
I’d simply click Undo.
If my brain was like my iPod,
I could Pause and Play,
Skip to find the bits I like,
And let the rest just fade away.
If my brain was like my iPod,
All scuffed up and abused,
It surely is the off function,
That would be most often used.

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(28DW) Getting Ones Back Up

I’m gonna take a wild stab in the dark and say you are reading these words on some type of screen. OK you could have printed it out but I’m sure the “Please consider the environment before printing…” nazis would have got to you. (On a side note, do those people ever consider that putting that message at the end of emails actually wastes print toner when the document is printed, and therefore is bad for the environment)

So, your MacBook retina display / PC / iPhone / iPad / Android etc is now quite happily displaying my blog. Now think for a minute, what would you do if suddenly and for no reason your device of choice died. Just like that. OK now you have tried holding the power button down, crying, prayer (to a God who before you never thought existed) you ring a geek friend, who in no uncertain terms tells you “It’s fucked mate”

Now, you take your wounded tech to the local Apple Store / PC World. They are able to fix it, but it was your hard drive that was the problem. Maybe copying Gaga’s dress made out of only magnets was a bad idea. “It’s ok, we’ll swap the hard drive and restore from a back up”

A back up…. you are sweating now. The guy in front of you in the store, with the lanyard, only left school yesterday, but you feel so inferior to him. Back up? Why did no-one say anything. Well they did. BACKUP YOUR STUFF.

Luckily it’s very easy to do and there are a number of free (aside from the cost of a backup drive) or cheap ways to do it.

Mac:

On the Mac (I start here and move to lesser devices… haha, and they say Apple people are pretentious) Backup is very easy.

  1. Buy a suitably sized external hard-drive, the larger the better, has to be at least the same size as the drive inside your Mac.
  2. Plug drive into Mac
  3. If drive is PC formatted, open up Disk Utility, format to Mac OS (Extended Journaled)
  4. When drive is mounted, a box will appear asking do you wish to use “your hard drive” as Time Machine.
  5. Click Yes.

Your Mac will then perform a time machine backup, copying all your stuff. The first time you run this it will take longer than the subsequent times.

One downside to time machine is that you can’t boot from it. (Your Mac will not start from it) If you want this, Carbon Copy Cloner is the best around. It used to be free, but it’s not anymore. £25.95 for use on your Mac or any Mac’s you look after. Time Machine is a place to start for any Mac owner.. for free.

Carbon Copy Cloner in Action

Carbon Copy Cloner in Action

PC:

OK, surprise surprise I don’t have a PC. So I can only go on the recommendation of Alternative to.. and a PC Alternative to Carbon Copy Cloner is Clonezilla. It’s free, give it a go. Alternatively use Macrium Reflect.

Cloud Services:

iPhone / iPad:

Most of you will now be using devices that are compatible with iCloud. Just make sure you have iCloud backup turned on and you should be ok. For additional piece of mind, occasionally backup your iDevices to your computer too.

Android:

Android has no equivalent to iCloud in terms of full device backup. However Google do sync all your contacts, bookmarks and photos. If you sell them your soul to do so. If you don’t like Google, or do not trust them not to be evil. Consider Indefend Mobile.. and why you brought an Android.

* *

There is now a plethora of cloud based backup services. From Dropbox (use this link to get a free 2GB storage) to Box.net. Both of these services start out free and have mobile apps, both are useful for storing single files that you need to access or update on the go, both have sharing functions.

In the states there have been services like SugarSync for a long time. This is an offsite backup, always useful to have. Bitcasa is a UK alternative and something I am considering.

In conclusion, there are now so many documents, photos and save game files we hold dear to us. So many ways of keeping them safe. Don’t wait until you are burned by hardware failure. It’s not a question of if it goes wrong.. it will. Make sure you are ready. And don’t get caught..

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Please check out the work of my 28DW reprobates  at The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium  or kittens will die.

Skeuomorphism

A skeuomorph or skeuomorphism is a design element of a product that imitates design elements that were functionally necessary in the original product design, but which have become ornamental in the new design. – Wikipedia.

Look it’s just like torn paper!

From the outset of iOS Apple have applied this design principle. Address Book looks like it’s older paper brother and the same can be said for Calendar app on the Mac to name but two. This has been much maligned it would seem and with the departure of Scott Forstall in an Apple re-shuffle which sees Sir Jonny Ive take over the software design as well as that of the hardware. It may become a thing of the past.

I am torn (like the pages of my electronic calendar) I am geek enough to want my computer things to look computery and shiny. My Mac for example always boots in Verbose mode, meaning it looks like an old Windows machine booting from DOS (for practical reasons I like to see whats going on). However the folksy me that likes to sit in a big jumper with fluffy slippers (ok I have not got fluffy slippers, but they are there in my head) and curl up and watch a movie, likes the fact that there is an App that looks like Post it notes (Stickies) for note taking.

The skeumorph approach I believe played a huge part in getting those who weren’t geeks or in the Apple family to make the switch from other platforms. It’s much easier to say to Grandma that the Address Book application is the one that looks like the one that has been in her handbag since 1948. It’s easier for Grandma to understand that, and not be frightened by it, and embrace the technology.

Many of us have shown people how to do things electronically only to return later and see them bravely soldiering on with pen and paper. Tech is worthless if it is not accessible. Whilst I hold no fear that Sir Jonny won’t come up with a wonderful design for iOS OSX or iOS11 whatever it be called, I do fear that if he adopts the minimalist design he has for his hardware in the world of software, it will be a step backwards for the masses

(BDYBIS) Hello iPhone 5 or How to eat a MacBook

OK OK I was wrong. I said for a long time that Apple wouldn’t call the next iPhone the iPhone 5. I even said here I’d eat my MacBook if they did. Well I’ve emailed Gordon Ramsey for a recipe and when he gets back to me I’ll chow down.

Well the iPhone 5 it is. Most of the rumours I’ve read about this new smart phone turned out to be true. It’s taller, you can watch 16:9 movies/tv without having to stretch stuff (well your arm maybe, if you wanna reach a beer or scratch your balls.. there is probably an app for that) Being taller it also means you get an extra row on every page of your home screen for your apps and folders. Good news if like me, you are an App whore.

It’s not wider. Thank Steve for that. No really thank Steve Jobs for that, iPhone 5 was the last Apple project he had any input into and he always wanted a phone you could operate easily with one hand. Presumably to free the other one for ball scratching. In practice this is superb, all the galaxy 3 people must have pockets the size of the lady garden of Katie Price. I would also love to see stats on how many times people drop their phones. The Galaxy is just too big. It is not so much sat in your hand, but lodged precariously like a jumper on a railway platform.

The beloved 30 pin dock cable is no more. Well kind of, Apple have redesigned the dock cable to produce Lightening. (No not the blonde one from Gladiators, you know the one who would have kept you busy if someone else was with Jet.) No lightening is a sister cable to Thunderbolt the cable used to connect Macs with displays and other fun stuff. So Thunderbolt and Lightning, not very frightening, because Apple have an adapter which will make Lightning play nice with all forty of those old dock cables you have lying around.

Jet… Not Lightning

The processing power of this thing is immense. They demoed Real Racing 3 at the Keynote (which you can watch here) It’s a racing game with amazing graphics, which coming from an 8 bit generation as I do, I still can’t believe are being produced by a phone.

Everything appears to be improved or honed. Including Battery life (although real world useage hmm) But here are a few things I didn’t like about the keynote itself-

Facebook:
In iOS 6 (which is released on 19th September) Facebook is baked in, I have a Facebook account. But I hate it, I want to break away from it, how can I do that if my phone has it baked in. The ability to “like” things in the new iOS 6 app store grates too.

Shared Photostream:
Why don’t I like this. Well it’s more social buttfuckery. You can like and comment on photos in shared Photostreams. Whatever did we do before we could just click “like”.

“It’s 7.6mm Thin”:
Something, dear Apple is not 7.6mm thin. It’s 7.6mm thick. I know it’s not very thick but come on.

Foo Fighters:
Now I like the Foo Fighters. I’ve caught their live shows on TV and they seem to produce lots of energy and atmosphere. They closed the keynote. With the very talented Dave Grohl phoning in a performance.

Ear Pods:
I liked the iPad name. Even though some said it sounded more “Always” than Apple. But EarPods, really. It looks like a load of work has gone into replacing the headphones, you know the white ones that entertained a whole train carriage with tinny distorted Britney Spears. The keynote showed how Apple had developed an ear fetish, and the EarPods look good, do they sound good. Time will tell. Just hate the name.

Enough with the hate. A new version of iTunes was mentioned and demoed too. Looks good. Will write something on that when it’s released to the great unwashed.

In short (678 words!) iPhone 5, not much has changed, except everything. Do I want one? You bet my MacBook Risotto I do.

(BDYBIS) Mountain Lion

Ok. Time to do a tech piece.

Mac OS 10.8, Mountain Lion to it’s friends. I’ve had it installed for a while so now it’s bedded in and everyone is talking about the iPhone I thought I’d give the world my two penneth whilst I’m waiting for my dinner to cook. (Sausages, if anyone is interested)

Released on July 25th 2012, installed on my machine 3 days later. I have learnt my lesson about purchasing operating systems on the day of release. This release like it’s predecessor Lion is only available via the Mac App Store. Now that we live in a broadband world this is the way forward. Just over 4 gigs over dial up would be a no-go! The purchase is associated with your Apple ID and if you are lucky enough to have 10 macs you can install Mountain Lion on all of them for no extra cost (although lets be honest, if you have 10 Mountain Lion compatible Macs you aren’t short of a few bob) £13.99 for ten licences is very good value.

The only criticism I have with the App Store launch of Mountain Lion is the fact that you can’t (well I couldn’t) find Lion to purchase anywhere. I understand apple want people to have the latest and greatest, but I recently purchased a MacBook which although not ancient is not up to the spec of Mountain Lion. Signing in to the App Store on this machine yielded only search results for Mountain Lion. Luckily Lion is in my purchase history so I was able to download again from there. Although this is no good for first time second hand mac buyers.

So what does Mountain Lion give you?

Well if you have an iOS device an awful lot of familiar features. Notification centre makes an appearance down the right hand side of your screen if you do the right magical swipe. I don’t have a multi-touch enabled track pad so it’s accessible via a click on the top menu. Housed within are twitter, mail, messages and the newly christened Calendar (bye bye iCal). There seems to be virtually nothing else in the way of notifications you can add, a sports results notification would be nice but no.

There are just three things that I really like about Mountain Lion. These are messages, iWork in the Cloud and Reminders.

Messages:

This was released as a beta as part of Lion. So there were no great surprises here. It replaces iChat. It is a great instant message client, with easy set up for Yahoo, Google Talk, Aim and most awesomely iMessage. This means that if you know anyone with an iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone or another Mac running mountain lion you can message them from the comfort of your sofa. You can also FaceTime via Messages but if you want to use video chat over Yahoo or Google Talk you are out of luck. MSN is available via a third party addon.

iWork in the Cloud:

iWork (Apple’s office suite) has had cloud features baked in since the release of iOS 5, meaning you could write something in Pages (like MS Word but actually good) on your iPad and it would be there on your iPhone. You could also go to iCloud.com on your Mac and download the document, continue writing and upload when you were done. A little clunky. With Mountain Lion iWork on the Mac cloudyness is baked in. It’s so easy, it’s helped me this month with the blog-a-day thing. I’m able to write parked up in my car on my iPhone and then continue the same piece on my Mac when I arrive home, no fuss. As someone once said “It just works.”

Reminders:

Another iOS app that has been around since iOS 5. It can be used to remind you to do something when you are at a certain place. (Sounds good, however in reality I only used this feature once, it uses GPS all day which kills the battery) It can also be used to write shopping lists or to-do lists. For me these are easier to write on a computer, and Mountain Lion lets you. When you get to the shop, just fire up reminders on your phone and that order for a “Big fuck off Bottle of Jack” that you typed on your Mac will be right there waiting.

In summary:

I did tell my friend not to bother getting Mountain Lion. This is based on his usage, however next time I see him I think I will tell him to take the plunge. At £14 there is very little to complain about. I think I would pay that for iWork in the Cloud on it’s own. There are lots of other features but I haven’t really used them. Find out more here. If you have Lion or Snow Lep and your Mac can handle the big ML. Do it.

Poem: Her Lover

Her lover is suave and stylish,
Smart and witty too,
He knows answers to her questions,
And I don’t have a clue.
He remembers her birthday,
And that of Uncle Fred,
And when that winter sale starts,
In Next and Red or Dead.

Her lover is well spoken,
He knows all the hot spots and bars,
I’ve even heard them talking,
About where best to buy her bras.
I think they are planning to kill me,
Magical evil witchcraft,
He’s told her to hide the body,
In the old abandoned mineshaft.

He’s always there beside her,
To respond to her loving caress,
For his name is Siri,
And he lives in her 4S.

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Balls to iTunes

Last time I checked, quite a few folks owned iPod’s or devices that feature iPod functions, I am one of those folks. The very device I am using to write this bit enables me not only to listen to music but purchase it from iTunes should I so fancy. Over a million songs at my fingertips. Only thing stopping me is my bank balance.

iTunes is a very successful music store, just like HMV Amazon or Play.com. It is not a record label, it does not independently promote artists, albums or songs without record label say so. It is a shop, just as  Waterstones doesn’t pay authors directly for the sale of books iTunes or to be more correct Apple has no such requirement to pay the artists directly for the music it sells.

Thanks to iTunes more digital music now is being paid for than ever before. It along with the iPod was born out of a love for music. Napster the first music sharing application gave free music to the masses with artists and labels not seeing a bean. Steve Jobs and Apple struck a deal with the labels to ensure artists and labels got a fair deal from “new media” so why Pete Townsend once wanted to remove Steve Jobs’ testicles is unclear to me.

Pete Townshend guitarist from the The Who, who’s music is available via iTunes. Gave the inaugural John Peel lecture broadcast on BBC 6 Music. The full transcript of which is here. In it he seems as far as I can see to confuse the iTunes Store with a record company. He would like iTunes (as he calls it, rather than Apple, which again in my opinion is a display of his general ignorance) to do the following things:- (my opinions in green)

Item 1. Editorial guidance. A&R. Employ 20 A&R people from the dying record business. Have them respond to tracks sent in from new artists. If they feel the artists are bad, or aren’t ready, say so. But have them tell the truth, kindly and constructively. Guide them to other helpful resources, don’t just send them to the wolves of Blogland where it seems to me a lot of the vilest bile comes from people who could be drunk, or just nuts. A fledging musician at the start of a career is a delicate thing – even a rapper. (You’ll just have to take my word for that.) (Apple do already have back-room people assessing what’s hot, but they don’t have this kind of power. I’ll bet they’d love it. 20 John Peels inside Apple – imagine it).

Artists as far as I know do not submit music to iTunes. That would be the same as me turning up at my local HMV and asking them to stock it globally. Artists require a  intermediary such as a record label or at the very least a distributer such as CD Baby to provide the connection.

Oh I’m a blogger. I must be drunk.

Item 2. Financial support. Subsequently provide free computers with music software to 500 artists a year who the 20 A&R people feel merit it. Provide some basic training.

Basic Apple training is available for just £79 per year in store. This covers “projects” which would show people how to use Apple’s music products. Provide free computers? Musicians are not charity cases, why doesn’t Mr Townsend give free guitar lessons to 500 guitarists

Item 3. Creative Nurture. Follow the work of these 500 artists very carefully. Help where you can. Keep out of the way if necessary. 

Good idea, for the label, the producers.. the iTunes Store hmmm

Item 4. Manufacturing. (This should be called ‘posting’ today I suppose.) Provide a place on iTunes where these artists can share their music. It should be a like a local radio station. Yes Apple, give artists some streaming bandwidth. It will sting, but do it. You will get even more aluminum solid state LURVE for doing so.

Myspace have re-invented themselves doing this, the place where artists can share. As for streaming iTunes provides access to numerous internet radio stations. Some of which play unsigned bands.

Item 5. Publishing. Help artists protect their copyrights, don’t just exploit the loopholes of Grand Theft. This is a minefield today. The internet is destroying copyright as we know it. So they will lose the battle, but guide them to hang on to what they can. Otherwise they might only ever make one album.

iTunes as I stated has made legal digital music more common place than it ever was before. Since the abolition of DRM sales have sky rocketed benefiting the artists (and yes Apple)

Item 6. Marketing. Select a number of the artists on the free shared space local radio station and sell their work on iTunes with some helpful advertising within the Apple software machine. Show that you get behind them.

The music featured in iPod adverts has often gone on to be big hits. But the iTunes store is not a record label. It’s a shop!

Item 7. Distribution. Go further. License the best selling artists to other organisations (like record companies, bookshops and highstreet and Mall-based retailers for example) who are willing to make packages, goods you can hold in your hands and give for birthdays, Christmas and Diwali. Share revenue with Amazon. I’m not sure why that notion is so repellent to the Aluminums.

So Pete, and forgive me if I’m wrong. You want the biggest retailer of digital music in the world to sell CD’s? If you want CD’s you can go some place else, Apple won’t mind.

Item 8. Payment. Stop insisting on aggregators to deal with small artists (because you can’t be bothered with the expense of accounting for the numerous small amounts of money you’ve collected on their behalf) and pay direct. Why should an artist pay even more commission to an aggregator merely to get paid? (For the uninformed, an aggregator in the iTunes world is a company who stand between the artist and iTunes and thus prevent Apple having to deal with artists directly. Some of these aggregators provide some of the resources I’ve pleaded for above, but they are really just another form of punitive banking).

Pete, Apple is a company. They sell music, computers and electronic goods, they are not nor have they professed to be a music label or a talent scout. They do promote music with the iTunes festival but they are a place to buy music which has been signed.

Apparently if Apple do any one of these 8 things Mr Townshend will cut off a lovenut, whatever floats your boat Pete. Cutting one off will make a change from talking a load of them. But then I’m just a nutty drunk blogger.

You Cannot be Siri-ous

Yesterday my beloved Apple Inc launched the latest iPhone. The iPhone 4S. A speed bump, with a new camera and air play capabilities and more besides. Well on the face of it it’s not bad, I won’t be getting one. Largely because I am tied into my contract with 3 and I’m not gonna sell my Grandma to get my hands on this.

On the 28th April 2010 Apple brought Siri, a company founded in 2007. One selling point of the iPhone 4S is Siri integration. The technology is amazing, Siri is a voice commanded digital personal assistant, a secretary without the short skirt and stockings… (shame) Siri recognises what you are saying and can schedule appointments, tell you the weather, read your messages and listen to you dictate replies and send them for you. As I say all amazing technology, I remember the early voice recognition stuff, you had to train it, even then it wouldn’t understand what you said, it often had to be used in environment which you shared with only deathly silence. Microsoft attempted to demo this and failed.

Fast forward a few years and Microsoft have succeeded, as anyone who has ever said “X Box Play DVD” will tell you. I even have a dictation app on my iPhone 4, it is very good, it is free and if I’m not drunk it understands me. I think it wishes I wasn’t drunk quite so often, so it had a fighting chance.

Going back in time once more, forgive me for more time travel than your average episode of Doctor Who in this piece… (hmmm maybe an excuse for a pic of Karen Gillan.) In the Late 70’s all the way through the 80’s. A conversation the world over:-

“Please leave your message after the beep.” said a metallic voice.

BEEP

“Oh no, not one of these, urm I hate talking to these things… pick up if your….”
BEEP

Then the tape would run out or catch fire. The hatred of the answer machine remains, even though we have progressed to voice mail, which has none of the tape issues. You still have to record a greeting, and even with advent of personalised greetings there is still the risk your potential new boss will here the personal message meant for your wife’s sister about your huge member….ship of the bridge club.. What!

Karen Gillan.. with some other bloke.. think he might play The Doctor. Kidding the wonderfully talented Matt Smith

So how does 1980’s tech relate to Karen Gillan and Siri. No matter how good Siri is and it is the best system I have ever seen of it’s type. It is still a machine, flesh and blood human beings such as Karen Gillan feel like a berk talking to a machine, and as much as those folks with the bluetooth headsets will say otherwise, if your out and about talking to Siri or even Karen Gillan, other people you encounter will think you are crazy fool talking to yourself.

Review: Pages for iOS

So then MacBoy rides again. This will be the first fully functional blog I will have created using Pages for iPhone. I’m an experienced user of MS Word on my PC at work and I have briefly used the trial of Pages ’09 on my Mac. I have to say I didn’t get on with it, it’s all inspectors and I missed the familiar icons. So yes MacBoy likes MS Word 2002. Shh don’t tell anyone.

So why did I get Pages on the iPhone? Well, as you dear readers know I have a desire to write, there are times when one is inspired but nowhere near a computer. So this will be cool for that, it seems to be more feature rich than notes, giving you things like word counts and autosave. 134 words by the way 139!

The interface is slimmed down for the iPhone which is needed due to lack of screen real estate, at present aside from the keyboard there are just four buttons on screen, which is a huge change from computer word processing applications. Due to this I think although editing, formatting and styles as you create is possible I reckon I will get the inspired words down(!) and then stylise.

The options available for formatting your text are plentiful and easier to implement than any MS app I have used, the only feature missing is mail merge but who is gonna use that on a phone!!

One thing that is annoying (aside from achey thumb) is the lack of the ability to use any landscape orientated features. This I feel would be useful for reading back what you have written, some folks also like the landscape keyboard. A little confused why this is not included, as it is an iOS wide feature. Other minuses right now are the inability to sync to dropbox. However the need for this is limited due to the impending arrival of icloud.

In fact due to the iCloudyness baked in, the app is future proof, this coupled with a handy £6 price tag you can’t really go wrong. If you have an iOS device, you may as well get the app, it will save you having to find a pen and more besides!!

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