tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 12:46pm on 11/09/2013 under , , ,
The new iPhones look appealing, but with the forthcoming iOS 7 supporting our family’s iPhones and iPads, I don’t feel the need to upgrade. However good the hardware revisions are, I tend to find more value in software updates, and as long as those keep coming I am happy with the hardware that we own.

The same thing applies to computers. I was motivated to upgrade my old Mac Mini when it would no longer run the latest OS X; I suspect I’ll be using the replacement Mac Mini until it too no longer runs the latest operating system.

Does this mean that phones now have a useful life of four years? I don’t feel the urge to upgrade every two years, as I was doing a decade ago. This is partly influenced by buying my recent devices outright and using SIM-only contracts, so I don’t have the upgrade cost included in my monthly payments.
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 08:03pm on 29/03/2013 under , ,

Since I got my iPad a couple of years ago, one of its best features has been the always-on internet. Knowing that pretty much wherever I go I can be online has been a revelation, particularly when commuting to work, and when holidaying away from home. Being able to download each day’s Daily Telegraph, to get the cryptic crossword, has meant that I avoided spending my holidays chasing a wifi signal (or, to be old-school, a newsagent).

I have a data SIM from O2 — it gives me 1GB for £10.21 per month (with no long-term committment), and has worked well for me. But it has a couple of downsides.

  1. While I use mobile data on an almost daily basis, looking back over the past six months, my average usage is under 200MB per month (although that fluctuates quite a bit, depending whether I’m traveling away from home), so I’m not making good use of my allocation.
  2. The ridiculous content filtering that all of the mobile companies saddle us with. Why do they ask for a credit card payment to prove I’m an adult, when I pay them a monthly fee using a credit card? Why do they filter LiveJournal?


This week I noticed that my ISP offer a data SIM service, with sane technical features and a price that would work for me. They use Three for the mobile connection, but route the data through their own network. I get a fixed real IP address, no NAT, and no filtering. The SIM is £10.20 up front, and then a monthly rental of £2.40 per month plus 2.4p per MB used. For my usage it should work out around £7 per month.

http://aaisp.net.uk/telecoms-mobile-data.html

I ordered a couple of their SIMs, one for Kate’s iPad and one for mine, and we’re giving them a go.

So far so good, although Kate’s iPad gets a signal in our house, and mine doesn’t. Don’t understand that.

location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 12:51pm on 25/11/2012 under , ,
My iPad provides a pleasant way to browse the web. Safari is reasonably standards compliant, loading and navigating pages is quite nippy, and it is quick and easy to zoom and scroll around pages. There are useful tools to save pages for later and to synchronise open tabs between the Mac and iOS devices. The iPad is particularly well suited to blog reading — a quick double tap on the page content will zoom it to the full width of the page, and scrolling is smooth and immediate.

So why do bloggers try to undermine this ease of use?

I’ve noticed a grim trend; the presentation of a web site as though it were a native app. There are decent tools available to build iPad applications using web technologies, and for web sites that already behave like an application it makes sense to make that experience more iPad-like. But for blogs all it does it provide the sort of lousy experience that would make one delete a native app and go back to using Safari.

One particularly poor user experience is the Onswipe system. Available for free, it will make a website look and behave like a native app. It claims to work with any CMS, and its selling points include driving traffic and increasing page views.

http://www.onswipe.com/

I get a feeling of dread when I see the twirly loading animation for an Onswipe site; I know that the site will take longer to load, be harder to read, will be split into silly narrow magazine-style columns rather than a readable block of text, will use horizontal swiping to move between pages of an article (instead of the more natural vertical scrolling down the page), will have lots of pages with little content on each, will have juddery animations, will have non-obvious icons, will disable zooming, and will have big blue arrow buttons that look like page navigation but actually are part of advert links. In other words, pretty nasty for the person browsing the site. I can see how it can drive traffic, increase page views, and increase clicks on ads: hapless users click and drag their way around the site trying to work out what they’re doing.

An example of Onswipe in action — this is how a blog post that I read this morning appears on my iPad, compared with the same post in the ‘desktop’ version of the site (which allowed the text to be scaled to the width of the iPad for ease of reading):

 

The selling point of appifying a blog are all to do with site owners trying to monetize their content and to control how it is viewed, so it is understandable that they see the appeal of tools like Onswipe. But it really is user hostile.
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 11:35pm on 04/11/2012 under , , ,
Cryptic crosswords are puzzles that require knowledge, experience, and intuition to solve. I find a good cryptic crossword to be a deeply satisfying puzzle. Unlike sudoku, or most of the other types of puzzles that regularly appear in newspapers, a cryptic crossword is very human; it emphasises our human characteristics while solving it, in what sometimes feels like a personal contest with the setter.

It would be hard to programme a computer to solve a cryptic crossword, whereas many other types of puzzle can be solved by simple algorithms. Why solve a sudoku by hand, when a computer could do so much more efficiently?

I grew up with my mother and granny doing crosswords, but didn’t understood the process myself, always finding it rather opaque. Some years ago, Kate and I decided to learn how crosswords work, so we bought a crossword dictionary. We spent a couples of months doing the Daily Telegraph crossword each day, checking the answers the following day for clues we failed to get, and making sure that we always understood how the clue got to the answer. Suddenly it clicked, and we could do most of the crossword, most days, without too much bother. (There are always a few clues that stump us, but often Kate can see what I can’t, and vice versa.)

Now, in this post-newsprint age, we subscribe to The Telegraph on our iPads, mainly for the cryptic crossword. This is why I could never want a holiday away from technology and the internet — the first step to enjoying time off work is to download the Daily Telegraph and have a look at the crossword.
location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 07:42pm on 10/04/2012 under , ,
Connecting my phone and iPad to the work Exchange system means that certain security policies are specified by the server. I grudgingly accept this. (I resent work having any sort of control over my iPad, but being able to work on the iPad is useful, so I put up with it.)

Today my passcode expired, so I had to change it on both devices. And I’ve spent the day typing the wrong passcode. Again and again. Grrr.
location: Cupar, Fife
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 10:56pm on 31/05/2011 under ,

Time to say goodbye to my creaky old MacBook Pro. My iPad arrived today, and it is lovely. This is the first new computer I’ve bought for myself since the MBP in 2006. I’m delighted that many of my commonly-used iPhone apps are enhanced for the iPad, and some of the iPad-specific apps are amazing (who needs games when one can play with GarageBand?).

I subscribed to the Daily Telegraph app; I’m addicted to the crossword, and this is much easier than their web-based puzzle subscription, which I’ve used up until now.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 10:56pm on 31/05/2011 under ,

Time to say goodbye to my creaky old MacBook Pro. My iPad arrived today, and it is lovely. This is the first new computer I’ve bought for myself since the MBP in 2006. I’m delighted that many of my commonly-used iPhone apps are enhanced for the iPad, and some of the iPad-specific apps are amazing (who needs games when one can play with GarageBand?).

I subscribed to the Daily Telegraph app; I’m addicted to the crossword, and this is much easier than their web-based puzzle subscription, which I’ve used up until now.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

location: St Andrews, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 12:23pm on 10/05/2011 under , , ,
The World Junior Curling Championships were held in Perth in March this year. As one of the sponsors of the event, my employer paid for some IT work, including web site design, implementation, and hosting. I spend some time working on the web site; I received payment for this work a couple of days ago. And it just happened to be about the same as the cost of an iPad 2.

When I got into work today, Alison showed me her brand-new iPad 2, and technological temptation overcame me. So my iPad 2 is now on order from Apple. (It will take a couple of weeks, but I thought it was worth ordering directly from Apple as they'll engrave my name on the back.)

The last new computer I bought for myself was my MacBook Pro, back in mid-2006. I'd thought about replacing it a few years ago, and for a while planned to get a MacBook Air like [livejournal.com profile] kateaw's, but the iPad looks like the perfect portable computer for me.
location: Dundee, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 12:23pm on 10/05/2011 under , , ,
The World Junior Curling Championships were held in Perth in March this year. As one of the sponsors of the event, my employer paid for some IT work, including web site design, implementation, and hosting. I spend some time working on the web site; I received payment for this work a couple of days ago. And it just happened to be about the same as the cost of an iPad 2.

When I got into work today, Alison showed me her brand-new iPad 2, and technological temptation overcame me. So my iPad 2 is now on order from Apple. (It will take a couple of weeks, but I thought it was worth ordering directly from Apple as they'll engrave my name on the back.)

The last new computer I bought for myself was my MacBook Pro, back in mid-2006. I'd thought about replacing it a few years ago, and for a while planned to get a MacBook Air like [livejournal.com profile] kateaw's, but the iPad looks like the perfect portable computer for me.
location: Dundee, Scotland
tobyaw: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] tobyaw at 07:42pm on 27/01/2010 under
New toy. Want! Want! Want!
location: KY16 8JY

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