Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Jazooli’s Portable Tablet Desk Stand Review

Posted by Andrew at 2:29 PM on September 29, 2013

For some time I’ve been looking for a decent desk stand to hold my 10″ tablet but all the ones tried so far have some annoyance or niggle. Usually the stand wouldn’t work well with the tablet still in its case, but others would be bulky, flimsy, only for the iPad or just plain rubbish. The good news is that I think I’ve found the answer in the shape of Jazooli‘s “Portable Lightweight Universal Foldable Desk Stand“. They’re fibbing a little with the “lightweight” but in all other respects this is a good product. It’s solid metal, folds up, has two positions and works while the tablet is in its case. Perfect!

When folded up, the Jazooli is nice and slim, fitting neatly into a little pouch. At 200g, it’s not what I would call lightweight but the mass does mean it’s not easily knocked over.

Jazooli Folded

There are two ways that the stand can be stood up. Here it is in the upright position, which is good for viewing movies or keeping an eye on Twitter.

Jazooli Upright

For typing on the tablet, the stand has a reclined mode, aka “I-dont-want-everyone-else-in-the-office-to-see-I’m-on-Facebook-instead-of-working” mode. This position works well with ultrabooks, notebooks and small laptops to give an angle to the keyboard.

Jazooli Lying Back

There’s an extra smaller leg that pops out from the main support – it’s more obvious in this close up. The metal finish is better seen in the image too.

Jazooli Close-up

Finally, here’s what the stand looks like with a 10″ Android tablet on board. Note that the tablet is still in its case.

Jazooli Stand with Tablet

 

In summary, Jazooli’s portable foldable desk stand is currently my favourite tablet stand. Obviously your needs may not be the same as my needs but as it’s currently available from Amazon.co.uk for £5.99 and from Amazon.com for $2.55, it’s hard to go wrong!

[Disclosure: this was a personal purchase]

Apple Discontinued their Cards App

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:30 PM on September 15, 2013

Apple LogoApple has decided to discontinue their Cards iOS app service. September 10, 2013, was the last day it was usable. The service is no longer available.

If you were someone who used, and enjoyed, the Cards app this news may come as a disappointment. Apple says that you will still be able to view your previous purchases by opening the app and tapping “Saved Cards”. That is the only function that the app will continue to have.

What are your options for replacing the app? Apple suggests that you use iPhoto instead. In the announcement about the discontinuation of the Cards iOS app, Apple points out that you can order letterpress cards, customized with your photos and text, through iPhoto.

You place your order, and the cards will be shipped to you “through a carrier such as FedEx rather than through the United States Post Office”. I’m not sure why Apple has decided against using USPS, but there you are. Apple has a page with lots of information about iPhoto Print products that you can check out if you are considering using iPhoto as a replacement of the Cards app.

Free eBooks From Your Local Library

Posted by Andrew at 8:19 AM on September 13, 2013

These are tough economic times and if you want to save yourself a few pennies, stop buying ebooks, join your local library and borrow ebooks for free. The OverDrive Media Console app lets you download and read ebooks offered by your local library for nothing, and if audiobooks are of more interest, the app can handle those as well. The OverDrive app is available for most common smartphones and tablets, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Kindle Fire and Nook tablets. If you have a Kobo, Sony or Nook ereader, you can still borrow books from your library but you’ll need to use Adobe’s Digital Editions to download via your PC. If you have a Kindle ereader, you’re out of luck.

The app can be downloaded from most app stores and directly from OverDrive if your device’s app store doesn’t host the app. In the first instance, the app asks you to find your local library via simple search. Poking around I was able to find libraries in UK, USA, Canada, Mexico, Germany, India and Japan, so it has worldwide coverage but I’ve no real idea of how extensive it is.

image

For my library, I had enter my borrower number and again I assume it will be similar for most public libraries. Once you are in the system, you can browse for your favourite novels and authors, and then borrow the book you want. Before you can download the book, you’ll need to sign-up for an Adobe ID and put it into Overdrive’s settings. This is all part of the ePub DRM, but getting an ID is straightforward and free of charge.

image

Obviously the range of books is entirely dependent on your library but I found a good selection of books available (several of which I already owned!) and once you’ve got your reading selection downloaded, you can swap to Overdrive’s bookshelf to see what’s available for reading.

image

As a reader app, OverDrive Media Console is good. There’s a bit of delay when opening a book for the very first time, but after that it’s snappy. All the other usual features are there – typeface selection, font size, line spacing, colour schemes, animations, but overall it’s well done. Reading books is easy and a pleasure.

image

So, if you don’t want pay for ebooks and you’ve a tablet or smartphone, download the OverDrive Media Console, join your local library and start saving money. It’s a no-brainer!

The Apple M7 Co-Processor: What it Is, What it Does

Posted by J Powers at 11:14 AM on September 11, 2013

Apple-M7Last time I had to deal with co-processors was in the 90′s when I put in a 386SX/DX combo into a PC. Technically, co-processors are in your computer still – just as one chip. However, Apple has separated the processors once again with the iPhone 5S. The A7 and the M7 processor.

The A7 processor will be the primary processing unit for your iPhone. A chip that brings the smartphone to 64-bit processing, the A7 will be able to give you some great gameplay while managing your apps and even using the muli-task features of iOS7.

The M7 is going to handle the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass information. This instantly turns your phone more into a pedometer, heart-rate monitor, location tracker and more.

The M7 runs at lower power so it doesn’t drain your battery when you are on a walk or run. It can also free up CPU time from the A7 chip so location-based apps work a little better.

Expect the healthcare industry to utilize this chip as they put out more apps that can monitor your health. Companies like Fitbit and Nike Fuelband can utilize this chip for their exercise apps. If an iWatch is in the works, it could possibly have monitors that would report straight to the M7. As for location tracking, the M7 will be able to geo-tag photos and video better.

Ultimately, with this co-processor, Apple has been able to tout a 40x difference in speed and 56x graphics difference from the original iPhone. It even is close to doubling the speed of a iPhone5 (from the chart Apple provided at the event).

The 5S breaks some new boundaries. The M7 chip looks to give location tracking and healthcare apps the ability to build strong programs that help in your everyday life. If it all comes together right, the iPhone 5S could be a major shift in the mobile computing market.

Apple iPhone iOS 7 Looks Like a Cartoon!

Posted by geeknews at 12:21 AM on September 11, 2013

Today was my first real exposure to iOS 7 and when I look at the new design, it makes me want to go buy an Android. Sorry the new interface looks cheap like a old school cartoon. If this is all the designers at Apple could come up with, I think they are in for a major beat down by rabid Apple fans who have not really been paying attention.

Some may say this flat design revolution is what is in, but I don’t think that’s working real well for Microsoft at the moment.

Here is my prediction. While the new iPhone 5C is cute and colorful, you will not catch very many grown men with a green phone in their pocket. My 17 year old daughter is definitely the target demographic for the 5C. But after she looked at the screen shots of iOS 7 commenting that the the interface looked like crap I am not sure she will be a potential customer as well.

iphone7

I am sure the fanboys and hipsters will be over here to bash my opinion. But count me as unimpressed. We have all been screaming for a bigger phone / screen, and what do they deliver the same form size with only 3 major enhancements. Sorry but the Samsung Galaxy is starting to look like my next phone.

Introducing the iPhone 5S(ame)

Posted by Alan at 6:49 AM on September 9, 2013

Apple may have slowed down in innovation department lately, favoring litigation instead, but one area where the company has excelled is in lending itself to parody. After last year’s countless videos and images of an iPhone that resembled a bean pole, the new 5S is set to be announced and becoming the subject of comedians before even being unveiled.

The latest video purports to be a group of Apple employees discussing the next-generation of the popular mobile device. The actors do an excellent job of playing the parts of the prototypical Apple hipsters. This is a production YouTube’s Matthias, who has previously posted popular and comical pieces in the past.

I will not spoil the fun, you can’t watch the three-minute clip as it truly needs to be seen to be appreciated. You can check out the clip posted below.

One Billion Podcast Subscriptions

Posted by JenThorpe at 7:30 PM on July 22, 2013

One Billion Podcast SubscriptionsWhile some people have suggested that podcasting is a dying art, the data indicates an entirely different reality. Apple announced on Monday, July 22, 2013, that there have been more than 1 billion podcast subscriptions through the iTunes store. Thats a big number!

If you visit the iTunes store today, and visit the part about podcasts, you will see the image that accompanies this blog. It is part of Apple’s special promotion to commemorate the 1 billion podcast subscriptions.

The data from Apple notes that the 1 billion subscriptions are spread over 250,000 unique podcasts. The podcasts are in over 100 languages. More than 8 million episodes have been published in the iTunes store (so far).

Those 1 billion podcast subscriptions do not necessarily equate to the same amount of “listens”. Many people, myself included, have fallen behind on listening to the podcasts that they have subscribed to. Personally, I have more podcast episodes that are sitting in my iTunes, waiting for me to get around to listening to them, than is reasonable. My intent is to get to them all, eventually!

Apple Developer Website is Down

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:52 PM on July 21, 2013

Apple Developer LogoIt is never a good sign when you visit a website and see “We’ll be back soon” at the top of the page. Sometimes, it can mean that the site is going through normally scheduled maintenance and truly will be back online in a little while. Not so with the Apple Developer website!

To clarify, the website (at the time I am writing this blog) actually does say “We’ll be back soon”. It also says that it was taken down on Thursday, July 18, 2013. When will it return? At the moment, that is unknown. The situation is undoubtedly causing frustration for developers who need to access the website.

Here are some key points of the message that currently sits on the Apple Developer website:

Last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of our registered developers from our developer website. Sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed, however, we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email address may have been accessed. In the spirit of transparency, we want to inform you of the issue. We took the site down immediately on Thursday and have been working around the clock since then.

It goes on to say that they are going to be completely overhauling their developer systems, including updating their server software and rebuilding the entire database. If you are a developer who needs that website, all you can do is be patient and wait for the overhauling to be completed.

On the positive side of things, Apple says that if you are a developer, and your program membership was set to expire while this overhaul is happening, not to worry. They will extend your membership and your app will remain on the App Store.

New Apple Store Uncovers Old Hospital

Posted by JenThorpe at 2:43 PM on July 14, 2013

Apple LogoWhen Apple began building its flagship retail store in Madrid, Spain, the company probably wasn’t expecting to find the remains of an old hospital on the building site. It’s rather amazing what can sometimes be found when construction work is done in old cities!

The new Apple store in Madrid is located at number 1 Puerta Del Sol, where the Paris Hotel once was located. Workers who were involved in renovating what is intended to become the basement level of the Apple store discovered remains of a 15th century hospital that was once called the Buen Suceso hospital. The hospital was originally created by Catholic Monarchs in 1489.

The old hospital was once connected to a church (which was also called Buen Suceso). In 1854, both the hospital and the church were demolished. In 2009, construction was being done on the Sol Metro and Cercanias light rail station when the remains of the Buen Sucesco church were discovered. That project stopped for 10 months so that the ruins could be preserved. They are currently behind glass and viewable by the general public.

Apple is not expected to halt their construction. Instead, the company has been asked to change the flooring of the basement to “symbolically” trace the outline of where the old walls of the hospital were located. They have also been asked to put up an informational panel explaining why there is a path drawn on the floor. Right now, it unknown if the general public will be able to visit the basement of the new Apple store in Madrid after it is completed.

Apple Offers iTunes Credits to Parents after Litigation

Posted by JenThorpe at 5:01 PM on June 24, 2013

Apple LogoThere are so many apps out there that are intended to attract children. It is easy to see why parents are hesitant to let their children go ahead and buy whatever apps they like – especially if those apps allow for in-game purchases (using real money). What if your child does it without your permission?

A class-action lawsuit was filed in 2011 against Apple by 5 parents. The parents were upset because their children were able to purchase and download apps from Apple’s online store on the parent’s accounts without the parent’s knowledge or permission.

Earlier this year, Apple agreed to a settlement of this class-action lawsuit. It will end up costing Apple around $100 million. Apple has agreed to provide around 23 million affected customers with a $5.00 iTunes store credit.

Have your kids been downloading things from Apple that you didn’t give them permission to? You might want to read over the details of the settlement to see if you are eligible.

The settlement is specifically about apps or in-app purchases of game currency that were purchased by a minor without the parent’s knowledge or permission in the 45 days prior to May 2, 2013. If you qualify, you must file an online claim by January 13, 2014.

The settlement is only including qualified apps This means all apps from the App Store in the games category with an age rating of 4+, 9+, or 12+ that offer in-app purchases of consumable game currency.