It’s what has helped Apple leap to the top of the food chain when it comes to integration across their product line. Apple controls the hardware, and it controls the software. The experience is identical no matter which Apple device you use.
With so much computing being done on mobile devices, you’ve slowly Apple start to merge OS and iOS. Microsoft took a different approach – they ripped off the bandage and did it all at once.
This week, with the launch of Windows 8, the Redmond software giant is taking a shot at building it’s own ecosystem. It wants to control the message from phone to tablet to desktop – and users had better get used to it, because Microsoft is all in.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT WINDOWS 8?
In a word – everything. Gone is the start button, the desktop is now a screen of tiles and something Microsoft calls “the charm bar.”
That lack of Start Menu is really going to confuse a lot of people. The desktop now looks like a phone or tablet interface. The tiles move and update with notifications just like they do on the mobile spaces. To be honest, I think Windows Phone is gorgeous. I like the big tiles so much better than the iOS interface. That said, having it on a desktop is an entirely different thing, and it’s going to take some getting used to.
A Windows 8 tutorial is available when you first start your machine and you should watch it. There are keyboard shortcuts, and windows will slide in and out depending on where you put your cursor. Windows 8 has a learning curve, and it’s best to take advantage as soon as you can.
I HEARD EVERYONE HATES IT?
Well, it is radically different. Imagine the blowback every time Facebook does a redesign. This is like that, but instead of one website getting overhauled, it’s an entire reboot of the OS.
It will take some getting used to, but those that have spent time with the OS eventually come around. Eventually.
DO I NEED TO GET IT?
We still run Windows XP on our computers at work. We skipped Vista AND Windows 7. Enterprise is often slow to change, and with this one being so radical you might find business slow to move forward on this one too. That said, it is only a $39 upgrade and Microsoft says most computers currently running Windows 7 will work better with Windows 8. They’ll have better battery life and shorter boot times.
One step ahead you’re a leader, but if you’re two steps ahead you’re a martyr. Microsoft might have taken a step and a half here. Waiting to see how it all shakes out is not a bad strategy.
The thing about the big switch for Microsoft is it might have people make another switch. The Apple storm has been bubbling for a few years now. People just might say, if I have to learn something new I might as well learn Mac.
APP OF THE WEEK: Hockey Canada Concussions Awareness [free]
The Hockey Canada Concussion Awareness app is a great tool for parents, coaches, trainers, players, administrators and anyone interested in learning about the prevention, recognition and response to concussion injury, including responsible return-to-play protocol. Sidney Crosby is on board endorsing the free app calling it a ”commitment to educating families and players about all aspects of the game.”
Can you get fired for something you put on Facebook or Twitter?
Yes you can.
Now there is a grey area that depends on what you say, whether or not you have a union, and what your relationship with the boss is like, but the short answer is: yes, you can get fired for what you put on social media – even if you have a twitter disclaimer.
The question is being raised a lot this week after two very high profile cases where comments online have cost people their jobs.
AMANDA TODD Amanda Todd committed suicide after being repeatedly bullied by people online and off. Her case has been well documented. Even after her death, the bullying continued as people jumped on her memorial pages to continue the abuse.
One such scene was witnessed by an Airdrie mom, Christine Claveau, who took a screenshot of the Facebook comments and notified the person’s employer. The man was then fired from his job the next day.
The case of Violentacrez is perhaps even more disturbing because it really sheds a shocking light on the lives of internet trolls. Violentacrez has, for years, been one of the most controversial characters on Reddit, a vast discussion board. He created and moderated many of the most successful boards on the site, many of them associated with racism, and pornography.
“My wife is disabled. I got a home and a mortgage, and if this hits the fan, I believe this will affect negatively on my employment,” he told Gawker. “I do my job, go home watch TV, and go on the internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time.”
In a phone conversation, Brutsch admitted to being the Reddit user named Violentacrez, who created or moderated sections dedicated to pornographic and violent images, including subreddits called r/rapebait, r/incest, r/picsofdeadkids, r/jailbait, and r/chokeabitch.
These stories aren’t new. As soon as Facebook became mainstream, people started losing their jobs over postings online. Just ask Charlie Barrow, Devon Bourgeois, James Wood and Zach Good. They were all fired for comments they posted on Facebook, groups they joined or just for spending too much time on the site.
“The vast majority of people believe that what they say outside of the workplace is none of the employer’s business. But that’s not true. The employer can always fire you for whatever you say. The only issue again is whether you’re entitled to some sort of notice before you’re fired.”
[How an online posting can cost you your job - CBC]
Take Damien Goddard, for example. The former Sportsnet anchor tweeted support for an agent who had spoken out against gay marriage. Hours later he received a call from his bosses, he was fired the next day.
There are strong laws internationally about what can happen to you when posting things online. The UK has famously jailed people over racist tweets and threatening Facebook posts.
Lisa Jones, prosecuting, told Swansea magistrates at an earlier hearing: “Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch and was believed to have died. Shortly after, Stacey posted on Twitter: ‘LOL, F*** Muamba. He’s dead.’”
After other Twitter users criticised Stacey, prompting him to post further offensive and racist comments, users reported him to police forces around Britain.
Stacey branded people who criticised him on Twitter as “wogs” and told one to “go pick some cotton”.
On her personal page, Houghton wrote of her victim: ‘Keeley is going to murder the bitch. She is an actress. What a ******* liberty. Emily ****head Moore.’
[The Daily Mail]
THE GOLDEN RULES OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Avoiding the drama should be easy, it’s common sense even, but worthy of reminders.
1. Do A Self-Evaluation Mitch Joel has a great article that encourages people to go back and look over their history of tweets and evaluate them from the point of view of an employer, or prospective employer. Joel calls it “The Twitter Test“:
The Economist magazine used to run a print ad with the copy: “would you want to sit next to you at dinner?” It’s a clever line of copy and an even cleverer thought. You have to smart, interesting, pithy and curious, don’t you? How do your tweets stack up? You see, beyond the basics of a good Twitter profile (a simple username, photo, legible biography, a link to something more relevant about you, etc…), it’s really what you’re tweeting (and how you’re doing it) that’s going to keep someone who is finding you for the first time interested in hitting that “follow” button.
Joel encourages people to take the test monthly. I do it often, it’s a great way to step out of the emotion of the moment where tweets are often crafted and look at your brand from a distance.
2. If You Don’t Want It On The Front Page Of The Paper, Don’t Say It
When journalists really started to mine Twitter for information a few years ago, I posited that lifting quotes directly from twitter was “lazy journalism“. That notion has disappeared, it’s conventional wisdom that what is said on Twitter is public and eminently quotable without approval. Still, Shaw’s response to my question is still one of the most quoted lines I mention in relations to social media.
My advice is never tweet anything you wouldn’t mind reading on the front page.
APP OF THE WEEK: Tweetbot [$2.99]
The absolute best Twitter client is Tweetbot. If you’re a power user that curates content via lists, and have multiple accounts, this is the app for you. This week Tweetbot made a move to the desktop with the release of a Mac app. It’s not a cheap app, it’s $2.99 for iOS and $19.99 for the desktop. They say the high rate for the desktop app is because of restrictions Twitter is putting on third party clients. Fans are already saying it’s worth the money. While I love the iOS version, I still prefer TweetDeck on my desktop.
It’s time for a refresher course in how to play nicely in the digital sandbox. Some of these tips are simple etiquette, some are user guidelines, others are just common sense.
Here’s 6 bad tech habits you need to break:
CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD
The top passwords in a Yahoo! hack this summer were discovered to be 123456, password, and welcome. That’s not good people.
Tips: use numbers to spell out words. $ for S, 4 for A, 3 for E – things like that. Mixing case, letters, and numbers is key. For something that’s easy to remember, use foreign words and then spell some of the letters with characters.
Using a system like 1Password will also help you as you just create a solid password to get into the site and then it manages all your other passwords with strong strings of characters.
VERTICAL VIDEO SYNDROME
This is going to get worse as smartphones get skinnier and taller (I’m looking at you Mr. iPhone 5). Think of how your tv sits – that’s how you should hold your smartphone when shooting video. When you’re using your smartphone as a camera – hold it like a camera. Vertical photos are bad, vertical video looks terrible.
TEXTING AT THE TABLE
This needs to stop, it needs to stop now. Phones face down on the table when you’re out with someone. You don’t need to see the screen calling you with random texts or alerts, but you’ll able to hear or feel if it rings and your kids are in trouble. Otherwise, phone face down. Pay attention to the people you’re with. Apple has a Do Not Disturb function built in to iOS6, learn to use it.
You might also want to suggest a phone stack if you’re out with friends and nobody can talk for longer then 5 minutes without their face in the phone. Pile them all in the middle. First one to grab their phone from the stack pays the bill.
BACK IT UP
Like Sir Mix A Lot says, Baby Got Back (Up). Just do it. Do it today. You can get free storage from places like Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive. You can have your photos passworded on a site like Flickr, your home movies on a site like YouTube. There are thumb drives, external drives, cloud solutions, physical media. There are dozens of ways to get it done so do it before you lose it.
SOCIAL MEDIA SCREAMING
If you’re not comfortable shouting it on a megaphone in a crowded room, don’t say it. A good thing to do is roll back through your stream and see what you’ve said and look at it from the point of view of an employer – are you always being on point with what you say? While you’re doing an inventory of your social, have a double check of your settings. Keep the private things private. It really is okay not to share EVERYTHING.
They look ridiculous when you leave them in your ear all the time. They’re great for the car, it’s a simple and affordable hands free solution. But you don’t need to keep it in all the time, they look ridiculous.
With Thanksgiving this weekend, families are gathering around the horn of plenty for a feast to celebrate the harvest season. This week Tech Buzz gets into the spirit with a look at some of the biggest tech turkeys of recent memory:
TWO TABLET FAILS
While the iPad has been a huge success for Apple, legions of others have tried and failed to crack the market. Two of the biggest failures on this list belong to RIM and HP.
RIM’s Playbook has been a massive disaster too. The buttonless interface was innovative, but it lacked some key features out of the box namely email. It has been nearly 2 years since the original Playbook was unveiled, and version 2 is still stuck behind the BlackBerry 10 operating system delays. Even with price discounting, the device hasn’t caught any traction. RIM’s window to salvage the entire company is closing quickly, and this failure is just one on a very long list of reasons.
As high definition moved to the home, two competing file formats went head-to-head to become the industry standard. HD DVD and BluRay each had their backers but movie studios weren’t keen on producing content in two formats.
When this battle was last fought between Beta and VHS, the victory was predicted by the the porn industry. This time, however, porn was an early backer of HD DVD, a strategy that didn’t pay off.
In the end BluRay won the coin flip when Toshiba pulled out of HD-DVD in 2008, soon followed by WalMart‘s retreat from the format. But has it been a victory worth winning? Netflix has virtually killed the physical media home movie market.
I’m guessing you have no idea what this is. Apple unveiled Ping in 2010 as a social network for music. It was meant to help people discover new music, but with no inherent plug-in to other social networks, it couldn’t gain traction. Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to,”Steve Jobs told Kara Swisher at All Things D. So there was no synergy and Ping was just another social network. Ping’s plug was pulled last week.
APPLE MAPS How bad are Apple Maps? Tim Cook issued an apology a week after launch, admitted the product wasn’t ready for prime time and actually recommended people use the web based maps from Google, Nokia, and Bing on their iPhones. The CEO of Apple actually recommended users switch to Google. Steve Jobs is definitely dead.
This is a turkey on our list because of the promise the device was given at it’s unveiling. It was hailed in 2001 to “be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy,”by inventor Dean Kamen. Instead it’s become a punchline for Mall Cops. If you have ever ridden a Segway, you will sing it’s praises. It is a fun machine, and a great way to get around. Numerous tour operators offer Segway tours of old cities, and it’s a perfect tourist tool. For meter maids, mall cops, and others who have to work a beat it’s an easy way to get around – just not the revolutionary society changer it was promised to be.
How bad was Windows Vista? They had to include as part of the operating system, a function that allowed users to revert back to Windows XP. The reviews came fast and swift that the much-delayed OS was too slow, too hard to manage, and one to be avoided. The Vista debacle seemed to dovetail right along the rise of Apple with the iPod, iPhone and it’s culture of cool. Mac sales could look at Vista as one of the reasons it took off.
The next few weeks will prove interesting for Microsoft, Windows 8 will be released in a few weeks and it promises a complete overhaul of how we interact with the desktop.
Just as everyone is now taking shots at the iPhone and iPad, the iPod was a target of imitators years earlier. Microsoft was late to the music player party when, in November 2006, it unveiled the Zune some 5 years after Apple gave birth to iPod. Bogged down with DRM, and an inability to interface with iTunes, Zune could never get going. Even an all you can eat subscription model that loaded the Zune with millions of songs couldn’t save it and it was killed this past summer.
Honorable Mentions to Google Wave, Motorola Xoom, Windows Phone
APP OF THE WEEK: Epicurious [free]
Whether you need help and advice on your old standards, or want to add some flare to your feast this weekend – this app is the grand daddy of food apps. With more than 30 000 recipes from magazines like Gourmet and Bon Apetit, you’ll never go hungry with this one. This app works on all the devices, including eReaders and .. .. fridges. Yes, the Samsung fridge will run the Epicurious app.
Now that the new iPhone is here (and rumours persisting of a new iPad before Christmas), you might find yourself with a few extra silicon gadgets lying around the house.
What to do with them? Personally, I use my old iPhones as new iPods for my kids. Pop out the sim card, turn off the mobile features and it’s just like an iPod Touch – except one that cost $1000. The other option is a more thorough recycling. Here’s how to do it:
DELETE YOUR DATA
First things first, make sure you remove all of your personal information from your device. When I recycled my old laptops, I first removed the hard drive. I bought a simple case for it, and I keep it as a backup.
For recycling phones, especially smart phones which can contain passwords, contant information, banking data, and more make sure you perform a factory reset. This resets your phone to the original factory settings. Contact your provider about how to do this for your particular model of phone.
Once you’ve wiped the device of information, it’s time to get rid of it.
Making some money off your older iPhone, or Samsung Galaxy, or BlackBerry is very easy to do. Sure you could try eBay or Craigslist, but Gazelle is a gadget reseller that gives you money right up front for your device, and doesn’t charge for shipping or anything.
You fill out an online form telling them about your device. They’ll quote you a price and if you accept it, they send you a plain box and the deal is done. If your device is too old, and worth nothing, Gazelle will still help you out by acting as a recycler. They’ll have the device responsibly torn down to salvageable parts and keep them out of landfills.
Many manufacturers are very responsible in recycling their hardware. Go to their corporate page to search their recycling policy and you’ll find out if they accept the items, or recommend other outlets for recycling.
Kodak offers a mail-in cash program for old digital cameras, digital photo frames and printers, not just their own brand.
Staples will accept many office type items for free recycling, and you can even get gift cards when you bring back printer cartridges.
Best Buy will let you drop off up to 2 items a day for responsible recycling. Note some do have recycling fees attached to them (TVs, for example). You pay, you don’t get paid.
You can recycle old cell phones at the Calgary Zoo. For every cell phone returned, Eco-Cell will make a donation to the Calgary Zoo’s Conservation Outreach Fund, which supports ape conservation initiatives, including projects for gorillas. Since 2007, nearly 20 000 phones have been dropped off at the South Security entrance or at the North or West Gates.
Alberta Recycling is recommended by a number of manufacturers. It has information on recycling everything from paint to tires to electronics. The electronics collected at municipal collection sites are transported to Alberta’s 6 registered electronics processors, where they are reduced to commodity state (plastics, metals, glass), which are then used by manufacturers to create new products. None of the products processed in Alberta’s electronics recycling program are sent to, or ‘dumped’ into developing countries.
APP OF THE WEEK: Bad Piggies [99c]
The gang from Rovio are out with the sequel to the Angry Birds franchise and it’s called Bad Piggies. This one is a little more complicated I’m finding. You are given bits and pieces to build vehicles to help the Bad Piggiesfly. Not as simple as pull and fly like the birds, but it’s from Rovio, it’s got the familiar characters and it was just released this week.
Facebook‘s user base should cross 1 billion by the end of this year. Despite all the social network connections amongst all of us on the site, there is only one thing that every social media user has in common – we will die.
So what happens to the content we create when we are no longer here?
Derek K Miller was a colleague of mine who passed away last year. He had cancer, and knew his time was short. He thought long and hard about his digital legacy and took the steps to make sure the content he created for the web would live on after he was gone. He even crafted a final blog post to be posted when he died. It was a post that made headlines around the world.
A new Facebook app, If I Die, is giving people a chance to think like Derek and prerecord video or text messages to be shared when the inevitable happens. The campaign behind the app is very cheeky, but it is something worth thinking about.
The complex web we are weaving between digital and physical worlds is one the courts are already wrestling with. Families have had to get court orders to get access to Facebook content from deceased relatives, and it’s only going to get more complicated. Making plans for a digital will is a step in the right direction. To that end, there are a number of websites who will help you with that digital estate planning.
One final thought that might have you thinking twice before you post something silly online. You never know when your time is up. The next Facebook post or tweet might be your last, and it will be the last thing generations of your family will see from you. Make it count, like Heavy D did.
Most of your social media and online accounts will have a policy which dictates what happens to your account when you die (you’ll note @HeavyD has been deactivated while @DJ_AM is still online):
TWITTER By contacting Twitter, family or friends can download a copy of your public tweets and close your account. Your digital executor will need to provide their name and contact details, their relationship to you, your Twitter username and a link to or copy of your obituary.
FACEBOOK Facebook’s policy about a user who dies gives you two options: Close the account, or leave it open as a memorial. When a page becomes a memorial, Facebook will edit out some information, and only friends confirmed at the time of memorial will be able to access it, and the site will be removed from search. A Facebook account in memorial status can’t be altered and can’t be accessed via password.
GOOGLE YouTube allows your heir or power of attorney control of your account and all of the content. Google+ and Gmail will provide account information to family members at their discretion.
FLICKR Flickr has a VERY strict digital death policy where, upon receiving a copy of your death certificate they will permanently delete all of your accounts and their contents meaning no one can ever access them. “People who register for a Yahoo! account agree to a Terms of Service, including a No Right of Survivorship and Non-Transferability clause,”the company says in a statement on the topic. Make sure you have another backup of any images on Flickr, or they could be lost forever.
So, outside Flickr, the sites can be pretty good about helping family members get access to your information after you’re gone. Having to go about leaving them a password to get in to your accounts is probably a step you don’t have to take.
But you should let them know the sites where you have content worth collecting, and what you want done with your stuff. Just as you plan out your physical burial, you should think about your digital one too.
Your content in the cloud belongs to the provider. There are prediction engines that already exist and some say our content could be used to create holograms to exist with future generations. Creepy, but cool at the same time.
APP OF THE WEEK: Action Movie FX – free
From Bad Robot, the studio Lost creator JJ Abrams runs, comes a great collection of special effects you can add to your home movies. Take a clip, and then roll a car, fire a laser, or drop a huge boulder in the middle of the scene. It’s a lot of fun, and your kids will be begging to be shot up in the middle of your home movies.
You don’t have to go to Costco and see the aisles of Christmas trees, ornaments, and cards to know that the major consumer season has already begun. The past week’s announcements by some of technology’s biggest names is also perfectly timed to have their toys on shelves in time for the holiday.
Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Motorola, and Nokia have all unveiled new products in the past week and a half. Here’s what you can expect the little elves at the North Pole to be assembling for the good girls and boys this season:
iPhone 5 $699
It’s taller, and thinner. It’s faster, and the access ports have changed. The camera has been improved, and it can take lightning quick shots. But, really, what’s so great about the iPhone 5? (70% of Global Calgary viewers said it’s not a significant upgrade) It’s one of those magical Apple things, according to Ryan Block of gdgt, you don’t think you want it until you touch it.
Apart from the taller design, giving it a near 16×9 aspect ratio when held in landcape mode, the dock connector is the biggest change to the iPhone. Gone is the 30 pin connector to be replaced by a slimmer 8 pin one. That means all your cables, accessories, and the like you’ve been amassing for the past 5 years are obsolete. Apple, however, will sell you a bulky adapter for $29. Sigh.
All in all, iPhone 5 is being greeted with the same muted enthusiasm from critics that fell in the wake of iPhone 4S. Still, the pre-order inventory sold out in under an hour.
I don’t think the iPhone 5 is disappointing, I just think people expected it to shoot unicorns out of its lightning connector.
Many iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users will be just as happy with their current device when the new edition of iOS comes out next week. The software upgrade includes more than 200 features like Siri, new maps, and deeper Facebook integration.
iPod Touch $299 – $399
It’s an iPhone without the phone part. As is the case in the past, the iPod Touch (not an iTouch, there is no such thing), looks exactly like it’s big brother, but it’s the guts that are different. The new iPod Touch doesn’t have an 8 megapixel camera like the iPhone 5, settling instead of a 5 megapixel edition. Still, this could be a point and shoot camera killer, as Apple has included a clever loop strap with each device so it can slip on to your wrist – just like a camera can.
iPod Nano $149
The updated Nano is the thinnest player Apple has created. Just 5mm thin, this device is light, yet still holds 16 GB of music. The screen is multi touch, but it doesnt run custom apps – you’re locked with the ones Apple provides (hey, just like the first gen iPhone!) That said, it has everything you need. Music, photos, and videos are easily accessible along with some extras. There’s bluetooth to play through a car, or wireless headset. There’s also built in Nike+ app and pedometer making it ready made as a fitness partner.
EarPods Apple has finally admitted what we have all known for a decade – the ubiquitous white earbuds that were a hallmark of early iPod marketing are terrible. The new EarPods were supposedly engineered after much research, but they’re still generic in size, and according to early reviews, only marginally better than the older version, and not any more comfortable.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Whereas Apple strives to make money on the device, and the purchases after, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said the Kindle line is all about the after market purchases. In the end, it doesn’t matter. While the iPad can be global because it’s a hardware play, the Kindle Fire is, once again, mostly a US only device and will not be available in Canada.
Earlier in the summer, Microsoft gave some nebulous details about their Surface tablet. A release date, and pricing wasn’t very forthcoming, at the time. October 26 now been circled on the calendar and Microsoft will be selling the device only from their retail outlets. Expect a pop up store in Edmonton this fall, but none here. It’s still wait and see for the Surface, but Windows 8 looks intriguing.
Nokia Lumia 920
THIS is what I wish an iPhone redesign would bring. I am a fan boi, I’m in the Apple ecosystem and I don’t imagine I’ll be changing anytime soon. That said, after holding Nokia’s Lumia at CES earlier this year, I was immediately wooed by this device’s elegant interface. Flip through one of these for a while and when you go back to your iPhone, you’ll sigh at the messy mosaic of tiles versus the sleek Windows Phone interface.
The Nokia Lumia 920 also brings a feature many were expecting Apple to drop in the iPhone 5, namely NFC. Near Field Communication is the future of telephony and commerce. Transactions can be complete just by touching devices, and Apple is lagging as other manufacturers jump on board. We’ll get more release information when Windows 8 is released this fall.
The mobile phone brand, Motorola, is now in the Google fold and this was their first big product announcement as part of the company. A trio of Razr’s were unveiled, each slim and showing off a buttonless face with a huge screen. Android fans should look for Razr HD, Razr HD Maxx, and Razr M in Rogers stores this fall. They’re calling this LTE edition “the all-day phone” as a way to emphasize the battery life on the device.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Samsung is off the mat after getting whalloped by Apple in court over patent infringements. The company continues to tack away from a copycat past by blazing a new trail with phablets – phones that are almost as big as tablets. The spring saw the launch of the Galaxy Note and fall brings a sequel (and people think Apple releases skus too quickly). New features include an instant on when you remove the stylus, an Air View mode whereby just hovering over the screen will bring up previews, and picture in picture to pop up videos while you browse. It’s still beefy, commanding a 5.5″ screen. Look for the device to be in stores in October.
You’ll notice there’s one company missing from this rundown, RIM. The biggest headline they made this week was anecdotal evidence that some retail outlets are going entire months without selling a single handset. The company won’t release it’s next generation software until next year, missing out entirely on this busy economic season.
As we start to settle in to the fall routine, the biggest thing you’ve probably noticed the past week is the increase in traffic. Everyone is back to work, back to school, and on the roads. Here’s a rundown of some great gear that can help you get the most of your time in traffic:
If you don’t have a bluetooth enabled car, then you NEED to get a bluetooth headset. It’s a simple earbud that communicates with your phone and lets you get your calls done in traffic (even texting with the Android MotoSpeak app). I’ve seen some people try to get away with holding a phone on speaker in front of their face – according to the cops that’s still distracted driving. So get a little piece like this and you’ll be good to go. Pro tip: take it out when you’re not driving, they look silly.
As we get into winter, you’ll soon appreciate the pleasure of a remote starter. This little toy takes the remote starter and makes it an app on your phone. You can also use Drone Mobile to GPS track your vehicle (in case you give it to the kids) and see if the vehicle is running, if the doors are open, and more.
Your dash and windshield can get cluttered with many different screens, this advanced rearview mirror can show you your backup camera right in the mirror. A bonus feature is it has bluetooth built in to the mirror. If you don’t like the ear buds (above), then this is another solution to help you get hands free when you drive.
Pioneer Bluetooth Video Deck
Here’s a chance to really pimp your ride. If you have an older vehicle and want to modernize it, this double deck unit will bring a lot of features to the fore. You can have a digital GPS, bluetooth hands free pairing for your phone AND a DVD player. Okay, a DVD player in the car isn’t the best thing, but if you have younger kids and you run the car pool, popping a video in while you wait for the kids in the parking lot can be a great time killer. (There is a feature so the DVD player won’t work when the car is in motion).
This toy turns your car into a power station, as everyone scrambles to get last minute projects done on the way. You can plug the inverter in to the car adapter and it will turn the DC to AC so you can power phones, laptops, tablets, and more. Toss in a USB hub and everyone can make sure their phones and tablets are fully charged for the day ahead.
I realize a lot of people also ride their bikes to work, and this new Bike Charge helps you get your phones fully ready for the day ahead. As long as you maintain a pace near 20km/h, you can pump out some juice to your devices. A 3 hr ride will be needed to fully power a phone, but you can still top up the juice on your morning commutes.
APP OF THE WEEK:Global Traffic
Let’s keep this one in the family with a new app from the Global Traffic Department. Leslie Horton does a great job talking up traffic on tv, and tweeting out updates, but now there’s an app that can help you plan out your routes in the morning. You pop in the route you usually drive, and with just one click it can give you a time estimate for travel. You can also scan a map of the city and see where trouble is, or check out the traffic cameras, and it will also send text alerts when there’s a problem on your route.
Just remember, it’s not an app you can use on the road, get someone else in the carpool to fire it up and help navigate.
It’s not just back-to-school season, it’s back-to-work season. A long summer of vacations and stuttering and stopping with overlapping schedules is coming to an end, and it’s safe to say it’s almost like the “office new year” starting this week.
So whether it’s a new grade, new class, or new fiscal starting up, here are a series of apps to help you get on board with GTD – that’s not Gym. Tan. Drinking. I’m talking about Getting. Things. Done.
CourseNotes – Mac App Store / iOS App Store ($3.99):
The days of carrying around different notebooks for each class are long gone. With CourseNotes, you can take notes on your MacBook Air and access them on the go from your iPad. You can even track assignments and sync due dates with your calendar, and quickly search through all of your notes. You can also dump them to Dropbox of Facebook to share with friends.
Pomodorable – Mac App Store ($4.99):
This is a Mac App that is going to use a ninja approach to help you GTD – get things done. The Pomodoro Technique is a task management approach that breaks things up into 25 minute sections and forces you to take breaks. It was named after a little tomato timer, a pomodoro. The Pomodorable app helps you with the Pomodoro Technique in a digital way. It takes some commitment, but those who use it swear by it.
iTunes U – iOS App Store (free):
You don’t have to be going back to school to go back to school. iTunes U is a HUGE library of course materials from Universities around the world that you can take – for free. If you’re stuck in a long commute on the C-Train everyday, or if you have an hour to kill while the kids are at hockey or swimming or gymnastics every night, why not go to school. You can audit classes from Stanford, or Yale, or MIT – all on your iPad or iPhone. It’s genius.
Graphing Calculator – iOS App Store ($1.99):
Now I don’t know how many profs will let you bring an iPhone in to a test situation, but I do remember how much a scientific calculator cost when I was heading to university. It was always one of the bigger line items in my student budget, now you can get it done for $2. It does all the fancy calculus stuff that nobody expects you to work out in your head, just don’t expect to necessarily be able to use it for your test.
iBooks – iOS App Store (free):
If you are taking classic literature courses, remember a lot of those books are public domain. You don’t need to go and buy the Penguin Classic paperbacks, many times you can get them from free in the iBooks Store – so double check. This advice also holds true if you prefer a Kobo, Kindle, or other eReader.
Mint – Mac App Store / iOS App Store (Free):
Here’s an app that Alberta’s Finance Minister, Doug Horner, might find useful. Mint is an award winning budgeting app that tracks all your money coming in, going out, and gives you updates on your budgetary situation. For students on tight budgets, this is a great tool to help you manage your money. It’s also very useful for families, or perhaps even government officials. Warning – you do need to give it a lot of your banking information to make it work and some may not be comfortable with that. More than 8 million people use it, you can take that for a lot of suckers, or it’s very trustworthy.
TIP OF THE WEEK: Since we talked about all apps this week, here’s an iOS tip for an app you already have. Reminders has a great little function in it that will give you a nudge when you go or leave a place. Need to remember to pick up milk on the way home from work? Set a note that when your phone leaves the office (presumably with you) a ping will come up reminding you to get the milk. Similarly, if there’s something you need to ask a client at a future meeting, just set the reminder for their address and the notification will pop up. Here’s a good how-to for geofenced reminders.
Get ready for a new acronym: BYOT. Bring Your Own Tech. It’s a growing trend in the workplace, and even in some schools.
AT SCHOOL One school in Georgia realizes the kids have the tech in their pockets and encourage them to bring it to class. The kids are taught how to research and appreciate that technology isn’t something that should be sneaked under their desk, but rather used openly and appreciated. Co-operation and interaction is encouraged and the technology opens up the conversation in class in a free-flowing way.
The teachers are also using the tech in the class as a way to teach them about the power in their pockets. They’re encouraged to use them responsibly, keep them safe, and handle them without dropping. It’s a case where giving kids the tools to interact in the modern world is greater than being afraid and just existing in the past.
Celly is a text program used in some districts to harness the power of the cellphones and the dextrous texting skills of kids as a way to foster group communication in the classroom.
Much like business struggling with budgets, schools are realizing they can rely on the students to supply the tech for education instead of having it all be state funded. If there are instances of poverty, those kids can be provided, but why buy a kid a laptop for school when he already has one at home?
Employees who bring their own devices to work (smartphones, laptops) will find themselves working up to an extra 20 hours a week. It’s a price many are willing to pay for increased flexibility in their workday. The 10 minutes they spend playing Angry Birds, or checking Facebook at 11a, is made up by the responding to emails, and going over reports before bed.
Bringing your own tech to work does, however, pose challenges for the workplace. Many work computers have virus protection, and are placed behind secure firewalls to keep things stable.
At our radio station, we’re allowed to bring our own computers and plug into the WiFi and intranet, so I asked our tech if it’s something he likes. He’s not necessarily a fan. He said it’s like bringing a friend to work who you say is a good guy, but he ends up being a drunk who punches holes in the walls. Bringing outside computers on to the work network always poses a security risk because those computers aren’t put through the same security.
Still, if employers want employees doing more away from the office, it’s a risk they’ll have to put up with.
My wife has an iPhone for pleasure, a BlackBerry for work. She’d love to have just one device, and some employers are finding that listening to their workers makes for a happier work environment. The main reasons companies implement BYOT policies is to improve work efficiencies and make employees happier.
1. Don’t run extra programs in the background on the work network.
Sharing big files over torrent sites, downloading music, or update operating systems are things that can drag down the whole work network. The more data chugging through a pipe will create a traffic jam, so stick to work stuff.
2. Keep your system updated. Corporate IT runs updated software and virus checks on the work computer, do that to your own system. It’s common sense for your own safety, and for the security of your workplace.
3. Keep your private stuff private.
When you access an open network, not only can you access shared folders on the network, but any folders you have shared on your system can be accessed. I was at a hotel in Iceland last week and spent an afternoon listening to someone else’s cool iTunes library that they had left open and accessible to the network.
4. Remember it’s a privilege.
Offices are letting people bring their own computers because they want to keep employees happy. Remember how much it sucked waiting for your Windows 95 system to boot up? It’s a privilege to use your Mac to get the work done, so don’t mess it up for everyone.
APP OF THE WEEKOver $1.99
Images and text are quite the trend. You see them covering your Facebook stream on a daily basis – inspirational quotes, snarky commentary, or labels on photos. You can make them with all sorts of web editing tools, but they’re also easy to make on your mobile with an app called Over.
It’s simple, take your favorite photo, add some text and publish. Done. I use it to label places where I take some of my favorite photos. You can get an in-app purchase for an extended library of fonts and colors. I use it every day.
Dad. Broadcaster. Writer. Media Disruptor. Team Diabetes Champion. Double Guinness World Record Holder.