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Showing posts from July, 2012

UX Write (iOS Universal)

At the moment I use a whole system of levers and pulleys in order to copy-edit Word documents on the iPad. The programs I use are Pages, Keynote and Textastic. This gets me from a Word doc to XML, and enables me to cross-check references (by flicking between Pages and Keynote).

This is all to achieve the same things I do on a laptop or desktop within Word or OpenOffice, and if Pages had RegEx find and replace (that included formatting), and split screen editing (or even a simple one gesture way to switch between docs), I wouldn't need the same dance.

So why don't I just edit on a real computer? I do but there are so many other opportunities to get things done with an iPad, and I want to take advantage of this. This means that every time a new word processor is released for the iPad I look with anticipation at its specs.

The reason UX Write caught my eye is because it approaches the word processor from a publishing and structure based way of thinking. It puts styles first and h…

Try and catch with PDO (PHP and MySQL)

In the last post we looked at accessing the data in a database table. This time we're going to make a small refinement by enabling that code to handle errors using try and catch.
In order to do this we first create our try statement and put our PHP connection and query code inside it.


try {
// Create database connection using PHP Data Object (PDO)
$db = new PDO("mysql:host=localhost;dbname=test", $username, $password);
// Identify name of table within database
$table = 'age';
// Create the query - here we grab everything from the table
$stmt = $db->query('SELECT * from '.$table);
// Close connection to database
$db = NULL;
while($rows = $stmt->fetch()){
echo "<tr><td>". $rows['Name'] . "</td><td>" . $rows['Age'] . "</td></tr>";
};}
Next we set up what happens if there's an error. (If the try fails we catch.)

catch (PDOException $e) {
    print "Error!: " . $e->getMess…

Starting out with MAMP, MySQL and PHP

This is a simple post designed to get you started in playing around with getting data in and out of databases. This is an OS X centric post, and if you're following along the first thing you'll need to install is MAMP.

Next we're going to open the MAMP app, which will start the server and take us to an information page with the MAMP logo and details.

From here we're going to select the phpMyAdmin tab from the menu and create a new database that I'm going to call "test" in the "Create new database" box. Once you've done the same click "Create".


Now we need to create a table inside our database and give it a name and let phpMyAdmin know how many fields we want. I've called the table "age" and asked for three fields. Do the same, then press "Go".
Now we have to label these fields and identify the type of content they are going to have. I've called them, "Number", "Name" and "Age&quo…

Android: My First App (Eclipse)

Step one Make sure that you have the latest Android Software Development Kit (SDK) and Android Developer Tools (ADT) installed, along with Eclipse.
Step two Create a new Android Application Project.

Step three Give application, project and package a name.

Step four Skip through the launcher icon details.
Step five Choose an activity type (BlankActivity). Step six View your app's activity_main.xml file located in the res/layout folder
Step seven At the bottom of the central window you will see that we are currently in the Graphical Layout. Now click the activity_main.xml tab next to Graphical Layout one and you will see the following.

Step eight In the activity_mail.xml file (above) try changing:
    android:text="@string/hello_world"
to something else, like:
    android:text="@string/hello_android"


and you will receive an error. So change it back to "hello_world" because this isn't the text, it is a pointer to a string, wh…

Android: How do I start programming?

First of all, you have to understand that there is no all-in-one Xcode for Android, and so this post is all about how to get the software installed and running to start development, which can be a daunting task all of its own. So the main thing you'll need here is patience.
Step one download the Android software development kit (SDK) You can get that here. You then need to follow their instructions. Step two is to download Eclipse This is an Integrated Design Environment (IDE) like Xcode but it isn't nearly as pretty or intuitive, it prefers power and flexibility to looks and would rather spit in your face than hold your hand.

Google recommendsthe "Classic" version of Eclipseand supports version 3.6.2 or greater at present. You can download Eclipse here.
Step three connect the SDK to the IDE Finally you are ready to follow Google's instructions for connecting Eclipse and the Android SDK. Once you have all this running you are ready to explore the development environ…

iCloud and the Cloud

Dropbox has so far been a big name in cloud storage, syncing book purchases direct for O'Reilly and Pragmatic Bookshelf, and seeing integration across many iOS apps. But it is not the only name in cloud storage, and GoogleDrive, SugarSync and SkyDrive offer a similar level of simplicity when it comes to syncing files between your desktop, laptop, tablet and phone.

What's different about iCloud is that instead of offering flexible storage to the user through Finder (or their main file organiser), iCloud is mainly accessed through iOS apps - predominantly Pages, Numbers, iCal and Keynote - and the iCloud.com website.

While further desktop integration is to follow in OS X Mountain Lion, it won't take on the guise of a simple folder like all the rest. This is a wise move by Apple because as more and more services like Dropbox with little to differentiate them appear they will have to largely compete on free gigabytes of space (as we are already seeing from Microsoft), and giga…

How to upload folders and multiple files to Box

Box isn't as well known as Dropbox, SkyDrive, GoogleDrive and iCloud, but they do have cross-platform apps (including Windows, OS X, iOS, Android and Blackberry), and they tend to be generous with the amount of storage space, giving away up to 50GB if you catch their promotions.

The only problem is their folder upload system isn't the simple additional folder system employed by Dropbox, GoogleDrive or SkyDrive. It is an icon that opens in the top menu bar (on OS X) and allows you to upload one file at a time to the service.

This as you can imagine is tedious. However, if you have 50GB of free space and want to make proper use of it you can do so online.

Simply log in, select the File tab from the menu bar, then click the little arrow next to the upload button and select "Bulk Upload".

After accepting an applet, you'll be presented with the "Drag and Drop" box. Click "Add files" and then choose whichever folders and files you wish to upload.
I&…

My Life with a Galaxy Mini

Way back when rumours started circulating about the first iPhone, I was preparing my wallet, whatever the price, for this amazing new piece of tech. My enthusiasm first waned when I heard that I wouldn't be able to use it to tether my laptop when away from home. This was huge for me. Something I could do with my Nokia E71 and something that I needed, and which I would've needed yet another bit of tech to achieve if I switched to an iPhone.

Even when the Nokia broke, I didn't switch to iPhone, I decided to go Android. The only requirements I had were email and tethering. Most of the time I have an iPad with me at the very least, because I'm always editing or reading proofs when on the go. So as long as I can use the phone to get the iPad or notebook online I'm fine.

The tethering issue with iPhone had by this time gone away, but I found that living so long without an iPhone and now owning an iPad, and with Android supplying an alternative, that the need for one had …

ATTENTION GRABBING TECH HEADLINES!!!!

Matt Warman wrote for the Telegraph an article entitled Apple’s iOS will equal Windows ‘within a year'in which he described how within a year that the marketshare of iOS + OS X might equal that of Windows. The basis of this assertion was another article by Horace Dediu in which there were graphs (which of course means it was really well researched and argued).

As the comments at foot of the article rightly argue there were many things missing: where this would happen (globally? US? US + UK?), whether it was including all OS versions or just the latest/imminent ones, whether it was looking at the consumer and/or business market, and in general all of the facts the argument was based on.

I would be one of the first to celebrate a more balanced and heterogeneous tech world, where market shares were more balanced, and I even argued recently that within a few years we might see the OS world split roughly into thirds between Apple, Microsoft and Google.

What this article has done, thoug…

What's not a stock photo: reject gallery

I discovered Dreamstime around the same time I bought a DSLR. It has been part of the unconventional teaching method I have followed towards the creation of better photographs. And in some ways I feel like I've taken advantage of the service and its considered review process with more rejection than success.

Despite so many rejections, I pride myself in the reasons for rejection changing. It used to be: too noisy, not properly focused, poor light, poor composition. Now it is reasons such as not generic enough, won't sell well. Nothing about the composition or picture taking.

I take this to mean that my picture taking is improving, but still my judgement of what makes a stock photograph is lousy. I don't mind this, I'm not setting out to become a professional stock photographer, I'm simply an opportunist stock photographer. Someone who sees a shot while out and about and takes a chance by uploading it to Dreamstime.

The number of photos I've upload has slowed o…

Aiming low: Windows 8 upgrade prices

Windows 8 is going to be cheaper than previous upgrades (see for example CNET). It seems a huge risk given that software is Microsoft's main income. However, a look at the user figures might shed some light.
While MS still have a global market share (when taking into account XP, Vista and Windows 7), according to StatCounter, of 88.34%, it is actually a drop from 91.58% a year ago.
Exact numbers from June 2011 to June 2012 are:
    XP 45.04% -  29.91%
    Vista 12% - 8.32%
    Windows 7 34.54% - 50.2%
Not only does this three and a bit percent drop feature in the reason why Windows is becoming cheaper in order to retain users of MS software, but also one has to question what users of XP add to the value of Microsoft today. After all, they are happily using an OS that was first released over ten years ago and many haven't paid a penny to Microsoft since that very date.
XP users instead have been a cost to MS in terms of releasing updates and service packs, with the only advantage of t…