Note by Squarespace

Squarespace the web publishing and content management system, recently released a note app for the iPhone. Not surprisingly to anyone who is a fan of Squarespace it is beautiful and simple to use. When you open it up you are presented with a blank page. If you want to get back to a previous note you swipe to the right. Once you are finished writing a note and are ready to send it you swipe to the left and are given a list of choices. Not surprisingly you can send it to your Squarespace blog, but you can also send it to Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote or by email. If you want you can choose to make one of them your default choice. When you swipe up to send the note it will then send it to your default choice. If you don’t make a default choice then when you are ready to send a note you have to swipe to the left make your choice, swipe back and then up.

Although Note by Square Space is beautiful, I ran into several problems trying to use it. The first was once a note was sent I couldn’t edit it on the Note platform. The only thing I could do was make a copy of the note and treat it as a new note. Although this does make some sense, I just wish I had the option. The biggest problem I had with Note was sending by swiping up didn’t always work or it would work but would not indicate it was working. This can be very frustrating as a user. I still like Note by Squarespace for it’s simplicity, but it is not perfect. It is available for free for the iPhone

Sandy Cancels Google Android Event in NYC

While the blogosphere has been buzzing the past couple of weeks about the upcoming Google event that was scheduled for this Monday in New York City, it seems that our speculation will now have to continue a bit longer.  Android Police is reporting that the event has been officially canceled with no rescheduling yet set.

At the event, we expected the LG Nexus phone to be officially unveiled, along with a 32 GB Nexus 7 with 3G and a Nexus 10 as well.  There has also been speculation of a $99 Nexus 7, but that seems less likely right now.  In addition we heard a lot of information about a Sony Nexus, but those proved to be false.  We can also expect Android 4.2 to be announced.

NexusEventCancelled

All of these rumors will now have to continue a bit longer thanks to Hurricane Sandy, which is currently heading up the east coast.  For those waiting for all of these announcements, we assume Google will reschedule the event fairly soon.

Windows 8 Launches Around the World

By now you know that yesterday Microsoft officially launched Windows 8 and the brand new Surface tablet.  You have probably also heard about, and seen photos of, the big kickoff event that the Redmond company held in New York City yesterday, complete with a midnight opening of a brand new pop-up store in Times Square.  That store is now even being rumored to possibly become permanent. However, while the big NYC shindig may have overshadowed everything else, it was not the only launch event Microsoft held.

Thanks to the International Time Line, the new Microsoft offerings actually went on sale first in Australia and the company held a big event in Sydney to honor the occasion.  Long Zheng, famous for being one of the developers of the ChevronWP7 unlock tool for Windows Phone, was on hand at the Fox Studio Sydney event.  He managed to grab quite a few photos and he put them all together in a nice, sharable slide show.

If you didn’t happen to be in the Land Down Under yesterday then you can watch the lshow posted below and you can get a bit of extra information by visiting I Started Something.

GNC-2012-10-25 #811 Alive and Well

Feeling much better today, but think I may have lost the video on this recording.. Which is driving me crazy. Will use the Ustream embed for the video..

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iCade 8-Bitty Game Controller for Android and iOS

If you miss the good old days of Nintendo and want to recreate that feeling from your youth then there is some good news for you.  iCade has created and released a wireless game controller for Android and iOS devices that has that old-style look and feel.  In fact, the controller bears a striking resemblance to those old NES and SNES ones that we all remember.

While the controller is designed to work with classic arcade games like Pac Man and Missile Command there has been word leaked that the device is not compatible with all games, so be sure to read the brochure carefully.

Features

  • Works with your iPhone and iPad and fits comfortably in your pocket with a classic retro look
  • Buttons include select, start, 4 face buttons, and 2 shoulder buttons
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Compatible with all iCade games
  • The iCade 8-Bitty is an open development platform, meaning new apps can be added to it without having to acquire any permission from Apple or Google.
  • More than 100 Atari classic games are available
The iCade 8-bitty is made by ion, and you can visit their site for more information on this and their other products.  The 8-bitty will retail for $29.99.

Pogoplug Mobile Review

Pogoplug LogoThe cloud is definitely where it’s at right now, but what if you don’t like the idea the idea of Google, Dropbox et al looking after your data? Then you might be interested in a Pogoplug, which allows you to create your own cloud storage that’s only limited by the size of the hard disk. A Pogoplug is a hardware gadget that connects USB storage devices to your local LAN and then makes the space available across the Internet, effectively creating a personal cloud. The data is stored in your control and if more storage is needed, plug-in a bigger hard drive.

On review here is the Pogoplug Mobile, the 3rd generation of Pogoplug device from Cloud Engines. It offers a single USB port plus an SD card slot along with the network port and power socket. Newer Pogoplugs come with USB3 ports, but as the maximum speed of the Pogoplug cloud is always going to be the speed of the Internet connection, the faster transfer speeds of USB3 are unlikely to be a significant benefit. For testing, I used a 64 GB memory stick, rather than a hard drive, which means that the unit will run silently with minimal power consumption.

Pogoplug Packaging

The Pogoplug website has downloads for Windows, Macs and Linux, and the relevant app stores have versions for Android, iOS, Blackberry and legendary WebOS. I was able to try the Windows, Linux, Android and WebOS versions. The Windows version connects to the Pogoplug and presents it as a drive letter, allowing most Windows applications to use the Pogoplug transparently. The Pogoplug software has additional backup functionality as well, which may be useful for some people. The Linux version is command line only but anyone familiar with Linux will have no trouble getting the Pogoplug mounted into the filesystem.

The Android app is simple and straightforward with a couple of nice tricks up its sleeve. Broadly you can browse files in a directory fashion or you can view music, photos and movies in a tag or meta-data based fashion, As expected, there are viewers and players for the media, though movies get handed over to the default app rather than playing within the Pogoplug app. The music player is basic and has one really irritating flaw; it doesn’t seem to be able to pick up the track number from the mp3 files and consequently orders tracks alphabetically when playing albums. This really needs to be fixed.

Back viewPerformance-wise, the Pogoplug is always going to be limited by the upload (rather than download) speed of the broadband connection when outside of the home. This usually meant a little bit of buffering before playing music but once the playback got underway, there was rarely any stuttering. There were occasional times when folders refused to refresh but my suspicion is that any problems were down to the local data connection on my phone rather than a problem with the Pogoplug. YMMV. Inside my home, the performance was excellent.

In common with other social and cloud apps, the Pogoplug app has automatic uploading of pictures and video from the devices camera. It’s also possible to set the folder where the uploaded images are to go. Frankly, this is brilliant as my wife is hopeless at remembering to copy photos off her smartphone so by setting up the Pogoplug app on her phone, any photos she takes get automatically transferred. On occasion, a photo would sometimes fail to completely upload; again I suspect the loss of 3G connectivity than any fundamental problem, but the error checking could be improved. It’s also possible to upload any image from within the photo Gallery app.

As with most cloud solutions, you can also share with friends and family, using either the app or the web interface. It’s straightforward – select the folder you want to share, select who you want to share with and an email is sent to them with the relevant link. It’s an easy way to share photos of Junior with grandma and grandpa.

Any downsides? Only two that i can see….first, there’s no direct integration with any other apps that I could find. Quickoffice and other office apps typically allow access straight into Google Drive or Dropbox but none seemed to work with a Pogoplug. Effectively I had to download a Word doc to the phone, do my edits in QuickOffice and then upload the doc back to the Pogoplug. Not slick.

The second is that when I was at home and on the same subnet as the Pogoplug, Internet access to Pogoplug’s servers was still needed, presumably to check authorisation privileges. Normally, it’s not going to be an issue, but it would be handy to have a way to bypass this when working locally and the connection to the Internet goes down.

Overall, the Pogoplug is a handy device that gives you control over your data rather than entrusting it to a megacorp. A few glitches spoil what is otherwise a neat little solution that potentially gives as much data storage space as you need, without paying per GB per annum. For the low cost of the Pogoplug unit (about $50 / £35), it’s a bargain.

Disclaimer – this was a personally purchased device.

The i-MiEV ES 2012 is 100% Electric

Last week, my husband and I got to see one of these cute little cars in person. The Farmers’ Market, in downtown San Luis Obispo, California, set aside one of the side streets for the purpose of displaying electric vehicles. This area gathered quite a large crowd of people, many of whom were asking questions about the vehicles to the salesmen who were standing nearby.

Right now, I am driving a 1994 Chevy Cavalier. I love my car, but I realize that it won’t last forever. It was really interesting to get to check out a few different types of electric vehicles. The one that really caught my eye was the i-MiEV ES 2012 The car is 100% electric, and does not use any gas at all. MiEV stands for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle technology. It is an integrated management system.

Look closely, and you will see a drawing of an electric plug over what would normally be the part that you would open up to fill your car with gas. Instead of using gas, this car is powered by electricity. You need to plug it in. The car comes with a portable charging cable that plugs into a standard 120V household outlet. The car’s battery can be fully charged in about 22.5 hours. Another option is to purchase a home charging dock, which is wall mounted, and can give the battery a full charge in 7 hours.

The car gets 112 MPGe, or “Miles Per Gallon electric”. You cannot measure electrical charge by the gallon, so this is the easiest way to compare the fuel efficiency of the i-MiEV to a vehicle that uses gas. This electric vehicle can travel 62 miles on a fully charged battery. I work from home, and don’t often have to drive further than the local grocery store, so that could work for me.

The i-MiEV comes in four colors: white, black, silver, and a nice burgundy color that seems a very fitting choice for a car that may be driving around in Central California’s wine country. The flyer I picked up about this electric vehicle when I was at Farmers’ Market has all kinds of financial incentives to encourage Californians who qualify for a rebate to purchase the car. I’m going to have to think about this one a bit more, but I am interested.

Say Goodbye to the 90s

Geeks older than 40 are likely to remember the 90s well. The Internet was a sleepy village, PCs were expensive, hard disks were small and software came on floppy disks. And I have lots of floppy disks, from packaged software and magazine cover disks to drivers and trial software. A rough estimate is that there are around 500 3.5″ floppy disks in both 720 kb and 1.44 Mb varieties stashed away.

Old Floppies

In my mind, I always hoped to get into retro computing, but the reality is that there’s always going to be something new which is more interesting than hacking CONFIG.SYS to squeeze the drivers into as little memory as possible. So it’s with resigned acceptance that I’m finally having a clear out of the disks to reclaim valuable storage space.

Of course, I can’t simply throw the floppies in the bin. I’ll have to copy the files to my NAS “just in case” which has thrown up a couple of interesting things.

First, I’m surprised at how well the disks have survived. Of all the hundreds of disks, only two disks proved unreadable, both of which were magazine coverdisks. Expectations of floppies shedding iron oxide like Italian cars of the same era have proved unfounded and on the whole, they have been quite reliable.

Secondly, and not entirely unexpectedly, there has been the massive increase in file sizes and numbers over the years. Here’s a quick comparison of the Windows install disks.

  • Windows 1 – 178 files 1.9 MB over six 320 kB floppies
  • Windows 3 – 282 files 47 MB over eight 720 kB 3.5″ floppies
  • Windows 95 – 1946 files 574 MB on one CD
  • Windows XP – 6655 files 542 MB on one CD
  • Windows 7 – 2.2 GB download

Finally, it’s the “blast from past”. What companies and software has survived the 20 years since then? Here are a few of the disk sets that I uncovered.

Ah well…all good things have to come to an end. I suppose I’ll have to clear out the data CDs next….

3D Printed Airplane Takes Flight

3D printers have become all of the rage these days and there are plenty of good reasons for that.  After all, these devices can do some pretty amazing things like creating spectacular architectural models and even working gears that are ready to go immediately upon render.  But how about printing a model airplane that can actually fly?  Yes, they can now do that also.

This isn’t a small model either – it has a 6.5 foot wingspan.  It was created by students at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and they have posted a video of the model actually taking flight.  This isn’t the first time that 3D printer device has accomplished this feat, but it may be the first time it has been pulled off by students.

The era of 3D printing has certainly arrived and we are seeing better and more advanced projects appearing all of the time.  We certainly aren’t at the point where we can print a real aircraft, but medical devices are already being developed using these incredible pieces of hardware.

"Printed" plane and creators

Source: UVA Today