Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Articles

Public Speaking

In Digital,Life,Social Media,Technology on December 1, 2011 by kiltforhire

If you met me and spoke to me at work or in a bar or randomly while waiting for a train you would assume me confident, out-going and very talkative. My father, genetically and informatively, gave me a tad of his charisma and I use it wisely – a bit like if I had The Force – however one of these days I will have to confront my fear of public speaking.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being invited on the ABC’s Big Ideas show to take part in a debate on “Is the screen mightier than the sword?” and before the show I was absolutely bricking myself that I would freeze, swear, kick over the lectern or simply strip off my shirt shouting “I’m Spartacus”.

Thankfully I didn’t do any of those things. Well except from swear. I may have done that by accident. Oh and I may have also froze. And I did think about kicking the lectern when I said something totally and utterly dumb.

I don’t know where my fear comes from. I have acted on stage and never really got butterflies and always enjoyed it but there is something about public speaking that freaks me out.

I used social media examples as a way to prove the screen was indeed mightier than the sword and I believe that as technology increases we will enter a better world for all mankind. More communication is no bad thing.

But while talking at the event my hands were shaking so I grabbed on to the lectern to try and stabilise myself only to find it was a it wobbly – so if you do watch the program feel free to not think I’m drunk. I’m just sober and unstable. Not mentally unstable. Well maybe a little.

My throat dried up as I was speaking.

I blabbed on in my Scottish accent throwing words out as fast as that General Electrics M134 mini-gun in Predator shoots bullets. The one that Blane uses.

My timed nine minute speech was suddenly over in seven minutes.

Maybe it’s better to say less than more but what if you said more but in the less timeframe??

I didn’t know what to do. Do I stand there and keep making my point? Or do I walk away and run back to my seat crying Freedom!!

I did neither of course. I said thank you, looked sheepish and stealth’d back to my seat.

Doing the talk reminded me that I should stick to talking to small groups and generally hiding in the background rather than being the centre of attention. I don’t like it when people focus on me – maybe for fear they will see the real me? An over-weight, greying, stubbly, short Scotsman with a wonky eye.

Advertisements

Articles

Some handy iPhone and iPad tips

In Lessons,Technology on October 10, 2011 by kiltforhire Tagged: , , , , ,

These tips are current as of iOS4 and I’ll update them once I get access to the new operating system.

1. If you have scrolled down your contacts or while using an app or reading an article etc all you need to do is tap the top of the touch area of the phone to return to the top of the page (called the status area)

2. If you need to search the app or doc you are in on your phone simply pull down on most apps to bring up the search function

3. Hold down the .com button while using a web browser and it should give you a list of extra options including .au and others

4. Double tap the shift key till it goes lights up blue to gets caps lock. If not working go to settings > general > keyboard > caps-lock

5. Screenshot. Simply press the home button and the off button at the same time to take a pic of whatever you are looking at on the screen

6. You don’t have to type www when typing in web addresses

7. Double tap text on a webpage for the screen to fit to size on screen

8. If you use accents in your writing you can hold down any of these keys: e y u i o a s l z c n to get access to them

9. Also if you swipe up on the comma you get an inverted comma. Same with full stop key. If you swipe up you will get quotation marks

10. Tap and hold a link to get more options. Such as email, read on instapaper etc

11. If you have an image on a web page just hold down on the image and you will get some more options including saving the pic

12. If you use the Calculator app turn the phone sideways and it will give you a scientific calculator

13. Creating folders. Many people don’t seem to know this but if you hold your finger on an app till it shakes and then drag it onto another app then it will create a folder. You can name it whatever you want πŸ™‚

14. You can sync all your notes and have them sent to whatever email account linked to your phone. Just click Settings > Notes > Default Account and it will automatically send to the account you choose including Gmail or MobileMe or simply store on your phone as usual

15. With your iPhone you can lock the orientation and stop it moving around by double clicking the home button and bringing up your multitasking dock. Swipe left rather than right to get to the iPod section and next to it should a lock button. If you have your iPad set to lock using the mute button as orientation then the mute button will appear next to to the iPod section on the multitasking bar

Hope this helps πŸ™‚

Articles

Apple Focus

In Digital,Lessons,Marketing,Media,Technology on October 10, 2011 by kiltforhire Tagged: , , , ,

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about Apple since the death of Steve Jobs. He got me thinking about the meteoric rise of the company from it being months from collapse to where it sits today – a technological marvel and marketing maestro that seems to be ahead of the game against their competition.

It seems like many others have also been thinking about the company recently but one person’s comments really stood out to me – William Gibson.

Now there are obviously many people who have helped influence my life but both Steve Jobs and William Gibson are up there pretty much close to the top along with my parents, my Uncle Kenny and my best mates who I grew up with.

And I’ve spoken about Steve Jobs recently in my blog and what he meant to me.

William Gibson’s Neuromancer took me to a new world and made me see the future was cyberspace. I talked about it in school. I talked about it to everyone but no-one really understood what I was saying – this was late 80s remember and technology wasn’t as big as it is now.

And he recently spoke about Apple and why he has used their devices.

In an interview he said:

“I was never interested in getting any more intimate with whatever made my computer work. I wanted the most transparent interface possible; that is, that least required my personal attention. I wanted my personal attention to be elsewhere, focused on other things other than my computer. Design at that level kept me at Apple…”

And that sums up my relationship with Apple.

I love their equipment because it allows me to quickly pass through the fact I’m using a device and simply allows me to do what I need to do.

I have a number of friends who love to tinker with things, they want to know how things work and the majority of them are all Android users or PC users. They want to find out more about their devices and really dive deep into their software and what is possible with them – which is great but for me I want a device that lets me do my job as quickly and efficiently as possible without reminding me I’m using it.

Many Microsoft products drive me barmy because they have a habit of taking my attention away from what I’m doing (and I can be easily distracted at the best of times) and cause me to focus on the program and not what I’m using it for. I always felt that way with PC running Windows – and still do to be honest.

To me Apple computers remind me of my body (work with me here). I don’t stop to think about how I breathe I simply do. I don’t stop to think about how my muscles work and allow me to type it just simply happens. So my relationship with my body is the same as the one I have with my Apple – it exists and allows me to do what I need to do without thinking about all the stuff going on inside it.

And it was Jobs attention on getting the user-experience right that makes them so damn useful to me.

Articles

BTTF Sneakers!!! YES!!!!!!

In Life,Movies,Technology on September 9, 2011 by kiltforhire Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Today I had a dream realised and then a dream taken away.

Funny how life does that sometimes.

This may seem like a post all about material goods but the truth is that i saw Back to the Future 2 when I was 15. Like every teenager who saw that movie we all came away with the same thoughts.

And it wasn’t flying cars.

And it wasn’t holographic adverts

And it wasn’t engines that run on garbage.

It was hover boards and power trainers.

And now FOUR years before the movie was set (2015) one of the two are out.

Look at this:

And this!!!

And with every glimpse I take. Every longing look I give them. Every childhood moment that screams inside of me that I want to own a pair and strut around in them I know that I will never own a pair.

Instead when I turn on the TV I will see a bunch of rappers and celebs wearing them.

You see Nike has decided to auction off all 1,500 pairs of these amazing BTTF trainers/sneakers (depends where you are in the world) on eBay.

Evil right? Cause that means it will be impossible to pick up a pair for less than $10,000.

Only it’s not evil. It’s wonderful.

You see they have teamed up with Michael J. Fox and his Parkinson’s charity and all profits after Nike take back their costs will go to the charity – http://www.michaeljfox.org/

And Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki have said they will match all of the combined bids up to the tune of $50million.

How fucking awesome is that?

So dear celebs, rappers, multi-millionaires please go bid. Bid your ass off. Bid till your mouse finger hurts. Get the total to $50million and watch $100million get donated to help people with Parkinson’s and let the future be without people suffering from it.

And if you can’t afford the trainers and want to help out why not donate to the charity instead πŸ™‚

Update: They don’t have powerlaces!!! But that just means they are trainers that light-up. They’ve been around for AGES!

Articles

Neuromancer and Tron

In Digital,Lessons,Life,Social Media,Technology,Video Games on May 31, 2011 by kiltforhire Tagged: , , , , , ,

My dad took me to see Tron when I was very young. We went to the local fleapit cinema in Dennistoun near Glasgow City Centre. I watched the movie in total awe at this strange world inside a computer.

The grid.

This place where information zipped and zapped itself around while people shared information and collaborated. It amazed me. Battles happened with the world and my life was forever changed.

Then in high school i was involved in the first year of teaching computing at my school. We had BBC Micro’s and I remember learning some basic but never felt the teacher knew what he was doing that much so nobody really learned much. I knew that computers would forge a future I just didn’t know how it would forge mine. 10 Print etc πŸ˜‰

Around this same time I was told about a book called Neuromancer. I went and picked up a copy and sat down to read it. I stayed up all night and finished the book in one go.

I was mesmerised by the world created by William Gibson. The word cyberspace has stuck firmly in my brain every since.

It’s where I live today.

It’s where I work.

We may not be IN the Grid.

We may not be jacked into Cyberspace.

But we are there. Digitally connecting. Information sharing. Conversing and communicating.

For my talk in fourth year in English we had to do a talk about something and I chose Neuromancer.

I talked about how the world would be smaller. We would all be connected no matter where we were in the world. I told them about Cyberspace – this ethereal world where our other lives are led.

My teacher said she didn’t understand much about what I was talking about but that I seemed so genuinely passionate about it that it must be interesting. She gave me a high mark and that was the end of that.

I always wonder if she is on Facebook now. I wouldn’t mind just dropping her a line and saying…see told you it would work out πŸ˜‰

The world as we knew it then has changed so much. Not always for the better. But it’s nice to see the future come to fruition.

Articles

My love of comic books

In Digital,Life,Technology on March 20, 2011 by kiltforhire Tagged: , , , , ,

I’ll never forget the first comic books I ever owned – glorious, rich images of superhero’s battling one another. They mesmerised me from a young age…and now 36 years of my life have gone by and I still read comic books.

I can sit on a bus or a train or a plane and happily pull out a graphic novel and sit and read it and people still stare. They look at you like you are some kind of Peter Pan who hasn’t grown up.

It’s a weird sensation sitting flicking through the latest Superman or Flash comic only for people to stare. I’ve even heard a few tuts in my time and the occasional whispered comment that I’ve picked up on.

But I’ll continue to do so especially with my iPad. Being able to access the Marvel or DC Comic store (although don’t get me started on how useless they are at times) and downloading a new comic still instills the same happiness in me similar to when my mum or dad would bring me some new comics to read.

I used to take a box of comics everywhere I went when I was young. So that I could always be near the stories I loved. I’ll never forget a weekend I spent at my parents friends place near Ayr, on the west coast of Scotland. I took a big box full of Superman, Batman, JLA, Aquaman, Spiderman and lots of 2000AD with Rogue Trooper stores – and when the weekend was over we drove off without them…

When I remembered I begged and pleased with my parents but they said that we had gone too far already on the way home and that their was no point in going back. I miss those comics.

Even living in Australia now I have stacks of comics back home in Scotland. They are in six long boxes in my parents loft and every time I go back to Scotland I sit in the loft with a torch catching up on some the classic storylines.

I also have a number of comics in their graphic novel format here in Australia as well as a number of collections but most of the time I download them these days as it allows me to enjoy them wherever I am. As I mentioned in my post about my iPad – one of the sheer joys of owning one is simply because I can carry my comics and novels with me.

There are a number of writers out there like Grant Morrison and Marc Miller (both Scottish – wooo!!), Geoff Johns, Brian Bolland, Brian Bendis and Alan Moore to name but a few whose stories could easily sit atop best seller lists if they were sold in novel format – yet once we place images onto the stories (as we have since humans could think) people seem to think it’s a childish endeavour.

Such a shame because a great story is always a great story no matter what medium is used to tell it.

Articles

Why I use an iPad

In Technology on March 3, 2011 by kiltforhire Tagged: , ,

I love Apple v Android debates they make me smile. It’s funny watching people become obsessed so much with the device they bought that they have to defend it everywhere and to everyone.

Baffles me.

Some people say I’m Apple obsessed when actually I really just enjoy using their devices. I don’t ever have any issues with them and when I do they are usually easily fixed. My parents are about to buy their first computer (hello mum and dad – one day you may actually read this blog!) and I told them to buy an MacBook as it will serve their needs and we can chat to each other with the cams and I can see their lovely smiling faces (I’m on the other side of the world to them so I miss them a lot).

My dad said ‘Scott, why should I buy one of those appley one when I could buy a Dell or HF or HP or something. They are much cheaper’.

Now my dad is an engineer. He spent his life under train and car engines. I said ‘Bert (I call him Bert cause his mates call him Da. I like to give him a sense of identity), would you buy a Ford with an engine made by Kia or would you buy a VW with an engine built by VW’,

He said VW. So I told him that Apple is like a VW and then I said that he was less likely to be hit by viruses etc and I also said that if he has technical issues with a PC then I won’t be able to help him. So he’s buying one next week…five years after I told him to!

But what I want to say in this blog is that I like my iPad. It’s not magical (well not unless you take it back 100 years and show it to people but c’mon who has the time to invent a time machine just to be called a magician?) but it is a great device, filled with some superb apps and I’m going to list the ones I use and why I use them.

Oh I should also add that I use it at work, on the train, at the beach, at home in most rooms and it’s best when you’re lying in bed just chilling out watching videos or down on the sofa relaxing and of course, in the bath.

For business I have found the iPad nearly replaces my laptop now.

I use (UPDATED):

Pages: Mac’s version of Microsoft Word. I design all client documents in Pages so having it on the iPad is a must. It’s a great desktop publishing program and let’s me change document while on the move.

Keynote: This is Mac’s version of Powerpoint and I use it for all presentation. I’d be lost without it. It’s just so simple to use and allows you so much ability to change and manipulate your presentation.

Things: Helps me keep track of the things I have to do. Simple as that,

Audionote: This record meetings and as I type notes it puts down the time in the recording that I took notes which is great if I come up with a creative idea tied to something a client has said.

Dropbox: Lets me access my Dropbox account anywhere I am. Fantastic if I need to fish out some files or grab some data that I need.

Money: It’s a mini budget calculator thing. I put in what I have spent money on, what my income is, what my outgoings are and it lets me keep on track of everything.

SpeedTest: Let’s me know how fast the connection to the Internet I have at any given time.

AirDisplay: This is great. It connects to my MacBook Pro and becomes another screen for it.

AirVideo: OMG!! This is the best thing ever. Wherever I am in the house it connects to my MacMini and lets me watch any TV Shows or Movies that I have on my hard-drives connected to my computer. I tend to use this a lot in the bath so I can soak and relax and catch up on some shows.

Wired: The iPad version of Wired magazine. I download it every month and read it at my leisure.

ComicZeal: I have a massive database of comics which I store on my iPad to read whenever I feel the need to dive into some Superman or Green Lantern fun.

Kindle and iBooks: I use both of them to read books. I also still buy books like Keith Richard’s auto-biography Life which is freakin’ awesome!

ArtRage: I cannot draw. I cannot paint. But I like to play about on this painting app cause it makes me feel artistic n shit.

DesignClassics. DAMNED EXPENSIVE APP!! It’s basically a coffee table book with 1,000 classic designs and their history. Brilliant. Whenever I get a few minutes I look at some new item in it.

Flipboard: Facebook, blogs, twitter – all in one flip book. It’s fun but takes ages to load

Home 3D: I’m still building my dream home on this. One day I’m going to ask an architect to build it for me from my design plans. It’s up to five-bedrooms now.

BBC News, ABC, Guardian Eyewitness: Must have apps really!

BBC iPlayer: Acces to a number of great TV shows from the UK including some old skool Doctor Who

Artree: Is a lovely little app that lets you choose the leaves, background of the app, colour of the tree, branch types etc and then it slowly grows a tree on screen. It’s zen man. Pure zen.

Speedball 2: CAUSE IT’S SPEEDBALL!!! Bitmap Brother FTW.

Pinball HD: The best pinball game out so far I think.

Let’s Golf 2: Damned addictive golf game.

Plants V Zombies. I had a life once. Then this game took it over.

Civilisation Revolutions: Digital Crack.

Fruit Ninja: One and two player hack and slash fun. Take that you pesky melon! Have at ye ya strawberry scum!

Minigore HD: Still can’t get past the first level but you run around and blow things away. Switch brain off and kill kill kill.

Battleheart: Wonderful little game where you battle skeletons with a team of four like a Wizard and a Warrior. It’s a bit like Gauntlet for the modern day.

The Daily: Interesting newspaper online. Content is great and I’m really into it at the moment.

SMH: Way better than The Daily I’m discovering. They really nailed the app well and I find myself using it daily…ironically enough.

Magic Window: Relaxing little app that let’s you chill out with a nice scene in the background. Like looking out a wee small window. Love the one with the sun setting…drop on some relaxing music and it’s a nice way to go to sleep.

iThoughtsHD: It’s a mind-mapping program that works a charm. Buy it. Download it. Use it. Superb app.

Dragon Dictation: Free and let’s you speak and it records what you say. Who could ask for me. Free!!

Debt Free: Useful app to help you balance your books and work out ways to pay off debt.

Some more games you should think about:
Another World: Remake of an amazingly brilliant Amiga game

TacSol: Turn-based Zombie killing game. Fun and addictive

Trenches: Addictive little world war one war game

Cowboy Guns: Like mini-gore but western and more to do.

Jetpack Joyride: Digital crack. Amazing. Obsessed with it. Get it and lose your life. Try and beat 4,427m πŸ˜‰

Zombie Gunner: Fly an AC30 and bomb, shoot and blast the crap out of zombies heading to your HQ. Save humans and unleash hell on their zombie scum.

Oh, and I’ll be buying an iPad 2 when it comes out so I can chat to my family no matter where I am in the house. I like that idea πŸ™‚

UPDATE: Bought the iPad 2 and use Facetime to talk to me family in Scotland about five times a week. It’s amazing