Archive for the ‘Tablet’ category

Fixed Camera Stand for Tourists

July 25th, 2013

It was one thing to hand a disposable camera off to a random stranger to take your picture on a vacation, but with phones and tablets being the number one vacation camera right now, it’s a little much to hand over your device to someone who could just bolt while you’re still posing (imagine the amount of data – even contact info alone – carried on devices).

Check out the Sunpoles on Enoshima (in Japan). Put your camera or smartphone on the pedestal and set the timer. Now you also have a bit more control over the photo and don’t have to rely on someone trying to fit your feet in the photo even though you’re really tall (not that I’ve experienced that, right?).

Photo by John Sypal

Flipboard vs. Feedly

March 22nd, 2013

I am a huge fan of Flipboard. Normally, when I think of RSS readers, I think of a chaotic swarm of information. Flipboard simplifies what’s current on the Internet into a visually-pleasing set of squares based on categories. The issue that I have with it, though, is that it’s a little limited on some of the features that I have come to appreciate in Google Reader. Since Google Reader is being discontinued, I thought that I would see what all of the buzz about Feedly was.

Here are my thoughts after spending a few days with Feedly. I do the vast majority of my Internet reading on my phone, so that’s the context of the comments.

Flipboard allows you to add RSS (and Twitter and…) feeds, which is great. The limitation, though, is that Flipboard only gives you four screens (six feeds (in beautiful big boxes) per screen) of information. There are preset categories like News or Technology that you can use, but those (to the best of my knowledge) are not customizable. You can add more feeds, but they hang out off in the wilderness a few clicks away. For scrolling through news quickly, those feeds will be missed.

Feedly is more customizable as long as you use the Google Chrome or Firefox plug-in on a computer to get it started (which was kinda annoying since, like I said, I run most of this off of my phone). In the plug-in you can create as many categories as you want and sort the information based on the number of articles to read and how many times you like to read from certain categories. You can even get categories to show you bar graphs for buttons as to which ones contain more unread information.

Both Feedly and Flipboard display graphics from feeds in a nice manner. Both have widgets that display on your device’s home screen. Feedly’s main negative, though, is that it lags a bit more than Flipboard. Jon Virtes from Flipboard says that the speed of the app is the reason why they probably won’t add more pages to Flipboard.

The final verdict? If you’re just going to read a few general categories like Business or Politics, go with Flipboard. If you want to separate feeds into umbrella categories like Teaching Ideas, School Leadership, and Typography, go with Feedly.

Overdrive Media Console

September 18th, 2012

If you have a smartphone/tablet and haven’t downloaded the Overdrive Media Console, you need to. I hadn’t until last night because I’ve been researching ways for our campus to incorporate ebooks with what we already have. Yesterday, though, I decided to try out the public library’s catalog for MP3 audio books. I was wondering how the library could deliver an MP3 to a user’s device and still respect copyrights.

The Overdrive Media Console reminds me a lot of the TED Air app that streams TED Talks near seamlessly. (It’s a beautiful app and the content is always intriguing if you needed my recommendation.) Overdrive downloads a buffer file that is then played through the app. The big plus to using the app versus downloading a straight MP3 file is that you can add bookmarks to the audio file. This was a huge feature for me. The app creates a data file that says how many minutes and seconds the player was into the MP3 file. When you click on that bookmark, you can skip straight to where you were.

Another great perk is that you can set the player to rewind a few seconds automatically the next time you open the app so that you get a quick review of the last sentence or two. That saves some of the jarring “where was I?” that I’ve experienced with straight MP3s.

The app works well for ebooks, too, in much the same manner as the Kindle or nook apps do.

The biggest perk is that all of this content was free. I only needed a library card. I found my library in the app, typed in my login information, and then had access to the catalog. The only drawback was that the catalog ran in the browser instead of the app, so the interface was a little clunkier and took longer to load, but I guess that’s a trade-off. I would rather have that than have to wait while thousands of books were re-registered/catalogued each time I opened the app.

Marvel’s Augmented Reality App

July 10th, 2012

Marvel has an augmented reality app where you can scan comics and get expanded content. That’s nothing too extreme, although I do like its DVD-like special features quality.

Where you might be interested is the new release of the Spider-Man augmented reality storybook app, where young readers can take pictures of themselves and add on photo elements from the new movie. It’s nothing too groundshaking, but might be the sign of a change in book marketing for the future. The app also narrates the storybook.

Right now it’s just for iOS systems. The regular Marvel digital comics app is for iOS and Android, is free, and has free comics to download to your device. Most comics you have to pay for, but I have only downloaded the free ones and have enjoyed it (just don’t expect to follow a story arc to its completion).

Give me a tablet that’s about creation, not consumption.

June 18th, 2012

I know that there are some users that write extensively on an iPad, which is really cool and I know that it is possible. I also know that there is a version of iMovie for the iPad, as well, but that it’s missing some functions that a MacBook version would have. You can post blog entries and even edit photos, which would make Ray Bradbury giddy, but most Apple users that I know do their heavy workloads using a MacBook.

I’ve helped people set up Android tablets before and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t quite for me. I’ve not really made the leap into tablet computing because most of it seems to be focused on consuming media and not creating it.

The new Microsoft Surface Pro is boasting that it can run many of the applications that a desktop running Windows 8 can. The tablet hasn’t been released, so any further commentary from me would be just speculation. We’ll see if battery life or usability get in the way of creativity.

Can it run a full version of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator? I use those daily and I’m not about to spend money on an expensive tablet and an additional laptop.

It is interesting to note that Steve Ballmer mentioned that software and hardware need to be considered at the same time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of Microsoft, traditionally a software company when it comes to computers, making its own hardware in the same set-up as Apple. They’ve got the XBOX and the Windows Phone. (Can I throw in a cheap shot joke about Zune here?)

From a school perspective, I’m just hoping for technology that’s cost-effective and efficiently supplements the curriculum.

Here are the tech specs for the “low-end” and “high-end” (relative terms) tablets:

Windows RT

  • OS: Windows RT
  • Weight: 676 g
  • Thickness: 9.3 mm
  • Display: 10.6” ClearType HD Display
  • Battery: 31.5 W-h
  • Ports: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Features: Office Home & Student 2013 RT, Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand
  • Possible configurations: 32 GB, 64 GB

Windows 8 Pro

  • OS: Windows 8 Pro
  • Weight: 903 g
  • Thickness: 13.5 mm
  • Display: 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display
  • Battery: 42 W-h
  • Ports: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Features: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block, VaporMg Case & Stand
  • Possible configurations: 64 GB, 128 GB