10 Must-Dos in London

10 Must-Dos in London
10 Must-Dos in London

Venice Trip Report

Venice Trip Report
Venice Trip Report

Disneyland California Trip

Disneyland California Trip
Disneyland California Trip

An in-depth guide to iWork for the iPad

The iWork team has been hard at work for over a year in order to make its iWork software available on the iPad tablet. Phil Schiller says that "they have done some amazingly remarkable work." Each one of the three applications costs $9.99 in the iPad App Store.

Keynote has been designed specificially for the iPad. It runs in landscape orientation as that is the way that slides are designed on a computer and it allows you to take full advantage of the whole screen.

When you open Keynote the first thing that appears in the slide library which shows is all the presentations that you have previously created in Keynote.

Clicking 'New Presentation' on the top right hand corner allows you to create a new presentation and the screen changes so that a variety of templates are displayed. You start your presentation and the layout changes.

You have the slide navigator on the left in a column and a big slide taking up most of the screen for you to work with using your fingers. The top right of the screen has various menu items. To go to a slide on the navigation scroll to it and top on it and the big slide on the right will instantly change to your selected slide.

You can keep bullet points in your slides as you would expect and you can even create tables in the application which look just like any other tables created on the desktop version of Keynote. Charts can be created as normal.

To add photos, you click on the 'Media navigator' which is one of the menus on the top right. It looks like a small picture frame. You then drag your photos straight into Keynote and into your slides. This media navigator also is the place where you add charts, tables and shapes to your presentations.

Photos can be masked using multi touch, you can move them around and snap them to other photos, you can resize them and turn them. All using multitouch gestures.

Clicking the two-diamonds button on the menu on the top right allows you to jump into "Animation mode." This allows you to tap a slide or an object to add an animation, you can add a "build in" and a "build out" animation.

You can also click a slide on the navigator and add a transition. One of the transitions is Keynote's famous "Magic Move" which shows that this version of iWork is not stripped down but rather, totally re-designed.

The top right menu also has a big 'Play' triangle button which starts the presentation in full screen, you swipe right-to-left to go forward or just tap the screen and you can swipe left-to-right to go back. Double-tapping the screen will allow you to go back to editing mode.

Pages is a full new application for the iPad. Schiller claims it is the "most beautiful word processor you will ever see." Pages runs in vertical mode.

When you launch the app you see and edit your previously created documents or you can create a new document from a variety of templates. If you tap anywhere in the document, you get all your formatting options and a keyboard appears, turn the device horizontally and you can focus on typing and you'll have a keyboard using half the screen and the other half will be filled by the part of the document you are editing.

On the left you can see one of the most powerful features of iWork it's the automatic image wrapping feature which wraps text around any image.

Tapping the 'Info' button at the top brings down a drop-down menu where you can select the type of text, e.g. is it a title, sub-title, text or select if you want your text in column

Numbers for iPad has also been completely re-designed and apparently is even "fun and cool to use." We'll have to pass on that statement.

When you open it, as you'd expect a library of your previously created documents appears.

You can create text, tables and charts linked to tables as you can see on the right. Along the top there are tabs, these are the multiple sheets inside the spreadsheets.

You can re-arrange columns within tables and the linked charts will automatically update.

You can tap tables and then add rows or columns. Touch a specific cell and you can add functions and enter data, you can format it for currency or for dates. You can duplicate functions across multiple cells by clicking on the cell, then 'fill' and then dragging the function to all the necessary cells.

You can tap a graph and then select a different graph style. In pie charts, you can grab a chunk of it and pull it out to highlight a particular area.

With a table you can also with one tap create a form which is much easier to fill in than messing with a table.

That's our in-depth look at iWork on the iPad. Once we get our hands on one, much more will be added. Hopefully this will help you decide if the $9.99 per app outlay is worth it for you.

Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS Review

The Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS Digital Camera - Black (12.1 Megapixel, 4x Optical Zoom) 2.7 inch LCD (Amazon link - best price) has an RRP of £299 but can be found for under £200 on Amazon. What a bargain this is! The camera itself is a mere 2cm deep and houses a 4x optical zoom lens. It also has a very wide angle shot at 28mm which is suitable for taking panoramic shoots and for getting everyone in the same group pic, making you can get the whole of the year group in one school pic without needing to take steps backwards.

The mainly metal housing of the case means that the camera feels very robust and it is a great sized pocket camera for putting in your pocket. It has a power up time of just under 2 seconds which we felt was reasonable and has a "Smart Auto" feature which changes its settings to one of many different presets and analyses locations and faces to get the best image for you. Noise wasn't a big problem until we used the camera in very-low light conditions with the light-sensitivity settings cranked all the way up.

The camera has no optical viewfinder which means that shots must be composed on the 2.7in screen.
It has face detection which worked well, blink detection which worked well too and finally it also has the ability to record 720p HD video. The battery lasts for about 220 shots should be enough for most people but if you think you'll be taking thousands of shots on a single charge (and have memory cards to store all of them) then you might want to opt for a different camera. For the traveller who doesn't plan on taking more than about 220 shots at a time, it should be fine.

It looks cool, is packed with features and amazon has a great price for it - with £100 off the RRP. All we can say is that for a compact camera this camera is truly recommended. Buy it now!


Why you should expect another Apple announcement within 90 days

After Apple's epically long 90 minute iPad keynote on Wednesday, it has become apparent that not all of the features of the Apple iPad have been announced. Textbooks are clearly missing from the device, running iPhone OS 3.2 according to its about screen, and we could see some newspapers and periodicals appearing around the time the 3G version of the iPad is launched. Flash was noticeably missing and it's the same story once again with the iPhone - no Flash.

When and what?
The announcement would likely be after WWDC, as Apple has stated it will not be appearing at the Conference and it would need to announce international prices and carriers. However, it is unlikely that this would be a keynote presentation but would most likely come in the form of an online announcement through a press release.

Other devices:
There are likely to be other product announcements at the same time, including iPhone OS 4.0 which may be the reason why there is a 2 month delay for the Wifi device. There may even be another iPhone and/or an update to the Apple TV.

Summer Announcements:
Later on in the year there will likely be a Macbook Pro refresh and the announcement of Mac OS 10.7 roadmap (or maybe a leak). The other Apple devices are all likely to be upgraded in terms of RAM, HDD and maybe even come with a few price drops.

Apple iPad UK Prices

Apple launched the iPad yesterday, 27th January 2010, and has once again managed to make another product that consumers now need, despite not having the need before. From the prices below it is clear that Apple will be making a lot of its money from the accessories for the iPad.

The Apple iPad - $499 - this equates to around around £308 if we were to actually believe that Apple would keep the price equal for UK consumers, but we're gonna get ripped off realistically. The $599 Mac Mini equates to £510, which makes the exchange rate according to Apple being £1 = $1.17451 (hardly competitive considering the real exchange rate is $1.60+ now). If the same rule is applied the basic iPad would retail at about £425. £399 seems like the magic price point for Apple though and £349 would be much better for consumers and would significantly boost sales.

The Apple iPad Case - $39 for which is essentially a folder, will equate to around £35 UK price

The iPad Dock - $29 for a fancy stand in the US, £25 will be the UK price.

The iPad Dock + Keyboard Combo - $69 for the keyboard and dock combo, this will retail for about £59 UK price.

iWork Apps - $10 per app in the US, this will likely retail for £10 in the UK per app.

iPad Camera Connection Kit - $29 in the US for both adapters, this will retail for about £25 UK price.

Explaining an iPhone to someone from 200 years ago...

There have been many technological advances over the last 200 years which make it almost impossible to even explain the concept of an iPhone to a time-traveller. Let's take an adult from exactly 200 years ago, in January 1810 and try to explain the concept of the iPhone (or any other modern smartphone for that matter) to them.

In the early 1800s the idea of electricity was being trialled and unbeknown to these fantastic inventors, the simple circuits and batteries they were creating and testing have made our lives in the 21st century truly amazing. In fact, it was not until the early ninteen hundreds when electricity became common in households. Explaining the concept of this invisible power that could make things happen would be hard enough... explaining that it would power this device which you could put in your pocket and carry around for a whole day would seem incredible.

Then of course there was the invention of the lightbulb and it's use in 1879 by Thomas Edison. One day every house would have a filament bulb. Explaining that the torches and fire they used to heat their homes and to provide light, would be non-existent would seem catastrophic and unfeasible... The screen on the iPhone is essentially thousands of little lights, and explaining that these would fit in your pocket would be mind-blowing.

The iPhone is of course a telephone, and it's birth was seen in the mid-1800s. Imagine telling someone that if they wanted to talk to someone else they would just have to pick up a phone, press some numbers and they would magically be speaking to someone on the other end. Then try explaining to them that every household has one. Explain that in the late 1900s, they no-longer needed wires at all and they communicate via satellites in the sky which beam communications around the world.

Now, there is a camera inside the phone. Something that can use light to record an image permanently - this was mass-produced in the late-1800s by Kodak. Also, the fact that this massive box of a camera now fits into something that is smaller than your hand is astounding. The same device can also record 30 photos per second and these can be spun so quickly that it looks like they are moving. Once again fitting in your hand.

The Computer - "There's this machine right, and you press numbers and letters and they appear on a screen and you can make multiple copies of these at the press of a button." Yes, there is essentially a computer in your pocket: the games, spreadsheet apps, email...

The Internet - Explaining that one day there would be hundreds of millions of people talking to each other anonymously via the Internet is hard. Something which is based on billions of miles of cables running underneath oceans, through towns, underground and more... You can access this without wires in the same device that will already allow you to communicate with others with a phone, take photos and take videos. There will be colour photos available online and in billions; people will have websites about every topic; there will be videos sent to people and available every second of every day. You'd even be able to have your grocery shopping delivered to your house while on the sofa and order any product you could possibly want from anywhere in the world. Emails... we'd just have to say they are letters which can be accessed anywhere and arrive in just a few seconds - truly mind-blowing.

The iPod - Music has seen a radical transformation. From the phonograph, to records and vinyls, to cassettes, CDs and finally digital files. Explaining each step would be amazing. Then the idea that you would be able to click on a button and the songs would be on your computer is amazing, that you plug in your phone and the two devices communicate copying files over. The idea that people would produce programmes for free via podcasts and that advertisers would pay money to fund these despite the fact that there may be no link between you hearing an advert and buying a product. These songs would be beamed to your ears with a wire in each and you could get any song you wanted added in seconds to your collection, all on your phone.

So next time that you complain that your internet is slow, that your computer has crashed or that an iPhone App isn't available despite there being one on Android...take a moment to ponder about how life would have been very, very different every 50 year ago, let alone 200. The purpose of this article is not to lecture you about how ungrateful we all are, but rather that you learn something. I rather enjoyed learning and writing this.

How to make a successful forum

Having run several forums in the past and being a member of several large and niche forums, I have gained some experience in the way to make your forum successful. I've picked up many tips over the years - here are some of them:

  1. Offer something different - There are tens of millions of forums on the Internet so your forum needs to be different. Don't make it too general as no one will want to join a forum about everything, but make it too niche either or you'll limit your potential audience. Be sure to specialise in one topic, some of the best examples of these include: techguy.org - it's not a computer games forum, it's not a technology forum, it's specific enough; thedibb.co.uk is another - it's a forum about Disney theme park vacation planning, not about Disney and not about one theme park. Give your users cool features - like blogs or have a podcast for them to download. Make it different by making it interactive!
  2. Don't plaster it with ads - However tempting it may be to think Google Adsense ads will make you money on forums, it won't. It will only cover the cost if you are a very big forum with low server costs. Get sponsors instead and make sure you have only 1 or 2 ads per page. If you have a podcast, get sponsors to sponsor that instead and use that cost to offset the forums. Another route is to sell merchandise.
  3. Tell your friends about it - Don't be scared to do this. Tell colleagues, friends, everyone. Don't spam though - nothing looks worse than a spam post. An activate community is the heart of a forum.
  4. Make sure to check it regularly - Unless you have a valid reason not to, check your forum every single day, respond to every question as best you can and help out your members. A community that helps it each other will bring in more members, they'll also be more willing to post. After a few months, get a moderator to help with the forum - you should base this on how useful members would be in the role and not on whether members are your friends or not. If you see spam, update your forum security as spam messages are the first thing that make a user leave. The most annoying thing barring spam is an admin that doesn't care - so check the forum regularly!
  5. Have rules - No one wants to join a forum where people swear, post indecent images or flame each other. Have rules and enforce them. Infract members if necessary. It's better to lose a few trolls than all your potential new members. Here's a rule to follow yourself - don't spam your users with e-mail messages.
Hopefully these tips will help you you out. If you have any of your own to share, comment below.

iPhone OS 4.0 rumours become stronger...and the iphone 4g?

There are more rumours bubbling around than ever, and the Apple rumour-mill will have some explaining to do if there is in fact no Apple event on January 26th/27th. Invitations are expected to be given out by Wednesday next week and we'll know by then whether anything at all will be coming in January.

There are now rumours that a new OS will be coming out and possibly even an iPhone 4g, as its being dubbed.The new iPhone needs to be refreshed and it needs to have a better screen, a 5MP camera and there are rumours of a touch-sensitive back panel (which I find useless and will say straight away that it will not happen).

As far as the OS being released, this is necessary and patents have been filed which say that you will be able to add a contact to your home screen. It is also expected to announce a new way of managing apps, the enabling of the FM tuner which apparently the chip is capable of doing, multi-tasking (this needs to come...come on Apple!) and Flash!

What would you want in iPhone OS 4.0 or the iPhone 4g?

How to take screen shots in Mac OS X

Everyone knows that the print screen button in Windows does exactly what it says on the tin...except it doesn't print. It takes a snapshot of your screen and copies it to the windows clipboard, you then have to open up Microsoft Paint and paste the image, then save it to where you want.

On Mac's however there is no Print screen button and there is no obvious user-friendly way to do this if you a first time user of OS X. However, Apple has made their Print Screen utility much more advanced than Microsoft's.

Press CMD + SHIFT + 3 and a screenshot of your whole screen will appear on your Desktop as an image file.

Press CMD + SHIFT + 4 and your arrow will change and allow you to select a portion of the screen to print screen, drag a box over the area and release your mouse. It will appear as an image file on your Desktop.

Apple's tablet comes closer and closer

Whether you think it's called the iSlate or the Apple Tablet, it's an almost certainty that by the end of the month we will have a Tablet to be drooling. Whether we actually need it, is a different story but we're sure Steve Jobs will be able to persuade us that it's the best thing since the iPhone.

What might be coming that is not a tablet?
An iPhone announcement will surely come - either OS 4.0 or a new iPhone with an improved camera and screen.
An Apple TV update - with the 40GB model removed a few months back and an OS update late last year Apple hasn't forgot about it's "enthusiast" product. Maybe a new box? We could do with some PVR functions...

Back to the tablet then...
I have just found the image to the left of someone's concept for what the device could be. I have got to say that this would be the perfect kind of device as a tablet probably isn't going to be enough. It needs to come with a stand and be able to essentially acts as a screen for a normal desktop.

The concept certainly looks cool but realistically when would you rather use your fingers for typing on a screen than a keyboard?

The latest tablet rumours...

  • We have heard that all the 10.1 inch screens are sold out from major manufacturers, implying that Apple has bought these. 
  • It will have a forward-facing camera, possibly for video conferencing and Skype.
  • There will be an OLED version, and a cheaper LCD version.
  • It may be 3G-enabled and costs as little as $299 (£200) subsidised by carriers. Orange France practically confirmed the tablet a couple of days back.

On a final note...
As far as a name, how about the Apple Touch?

When would you see yourself using a tablet? Comment below.

UK phone networks take the strain as 2010 rolls in

An estimated 500million texts are expected to be sent today (January 1st 2010) in the UK alone, at an average of 13 texts per adult. In order to conduct some research, I did the same as many and in fact sent 18 texts at 00:00 exactly from my iPhone on O2s network. It was clear that the networks were feeling the strain as it took 46 minutes to send out eighteen texts and I was still receiving texts from other people that they sent at midnight, at 1.30am. Perhaps on an unrelated note, signal strength dropped dramatically in my local area and my 5-bar GPRS service fell to just 2 bars.

Based on the estimate of 500million texts and the fact that about 99.99% would be sent within the first hour of the new decade, this equates to 139,000 texts per second and it becomes clear why mobile phone networks were jammed even if there are five major different phone networks in the UK.

I would like to wish all my readers a very successful and happy new year!