A spacy new way to browse music on your iPad


Listen­ing to music on your iPad is usu­ally a visu­ally-sparse affair. Load up your play­er, nav­ig­ate to your lib­rary, and select the muisc. Play, and do oth­er things. Not any more…

Outta this world!
Plan­et­ary is the new (and free!) app from Bloom Stu­di­os that gives new mean­ing to nav­ig­at­ing through your music col­lec­tion. To quote the developers:

Fly through a 3D uni­verse dynam­ic­ally cre­ated by inform­a­tion about the record­ing artists you love. Vis­it plan­ets that rep­res­ent your favor­ite albums and con­trol the play­back of your music on iPad by brows­ing and select­ing astro­nom­ic­al objects.

Plan­et­ary is just the sort of sci­ence fic­tion exper­i­ence you expect when using an object from the future like iPad. You’ll want to show your friends this beau­ti­ful app. We’ve made it even easi­er to share Plan­et­ary at home; it looks incred­ible when you hook your iPad 2 up to a big HDTV or pro­ject­or using the HDMI access­ory.

Now Plan­et­ary won’t (yet) replace the iPad’s nat­ive play­er as it doesn’t sup­port playl­ists, or search. But when you think about it, it really doesn’t need to — as the app is more a visu­al eye-candy lay­er being applied to the act of brows­ing through your music col­lec­tion.

Very pretty; you’ll use it to show off your iPad, and it’s free — why wouldn’t you get it :smileyhappy:

A great over­view in the video below.

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Libraries are dead. Long live the Librarian!


I love it when coin­cid­ence and syn­ergy lead to a blog post, this post in fact.

In a post earli­er this week, Seth God­in lead us through the his­tory of the Lib­rary and the Lib­rar­i­an. In his post, he even­tu­ally settled on the some­what alarm­ing concept that the Lib­rary was basic­ally dead:

Wiki­pe­dia and the huge databanks of inform­a­tion have basic­ally elim­in­ated the lib­rary as the best resource for any­one doing ama­teur research (grade school, middle school, even under­grad). Is there any doubt that online resources will get bet­ter and cheap­er as the years go by? Kids don’t shlep to the lib­rary to use an out of date encyc­lo­pe­dia to do a report on FDR. You might want them to, but they won’t unless coerced.

They need a lib­rar­i­an more than ever (to fig­ure out cre­at­ive ways to find and use data). They need a lib­rary not at all.

Book ware­house?
Giv­en the migra­tion of inform­a­tion from paper to digit­al forms, the lib­rary will per­haps, out­live its role as a ware­house for books. Rather, it’ll become a place where some cool tech and some very well informed people meet and do great things with inform­a­tion (and here’s where the next part of the coin­cid­ence hap­pens)  — such as Bib­li­on: The Bound­less Lib­rary, a cool new iPad app from the New York Pub­lic Lib­rary:

… go on an exclus­ive jour­ney deep into the Library’s legendary stacks. This app is designed to open up hid­den parts of the col­lec­tions and the myri­ad storylines they hold and preserve…through a unique immers­ive exper­i­ence. In this free iPad app you will hold doc­u­ments, images, films, audio, and essays — dir­ectly from the col­lec­tions in your own hands.

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Also earli­er this week, the New York Pub­lic Lib­rary launched the redesigned and updated Bib­li­on app. In this case, Bib­li­on is a themed approach to explor­ing the lib­rary. The first release digs into the huge archives relat­ing to the 1939–1940 Worlds Fair in New York. Down­load the free app and you’ll:

  • read ori­gin­al essays from such prom­in­ent writers as Kar­en Abbott, Wil­li­am Grimes, Henry Jen­kins, Elli­ott Kalan, James Mauro, and oth­ers
  • view Gen­er­al Motors’ fam­ous Futurama ride, in full col­or, from the ori­gin­al carou­sel!
  • explore the devel­op­ment of the Fair’s designs, uni­forms, build­ings, and exhib­its, includ­ing Sal­vador Dalí’s then-shock­ing Dream of Venus extra­vag­anza
  • rel­ish the out­rageous res­taur­ant ideas that nev­er made the cut
  • learn about the fate of the Czechoslov­akia Pavil­ion after the coun­try was invaded by Hitler
  • dis­cov­er what was bur­ied inside the West­ing­house Time Cap­sule … which won’t be opened until the year 6939!
  • fly from story to story, chart­ing your own jour­ney through the stacks…

It’s made of lib­rar­i­ans!
Cool apps like this don’t  just magic­ally appear out of thin air. Developers need to cre­ate the code, and con­tent man­agers need to pull all the inter­est­ing con­tent togeth­er in a way that makes sense to you and me, the view­er. In this case, the con­tent man­agers are Lib­rar­i­ans, and it’s excit­ing to see them cre­at­ing these mashups of lib­rary sci­ence and tech­no­logy.

What about the books?
As much as I enjoy read­ing a good book (the ink and paper type) I think their days are numbered. Except for sig­ni­fic­ant works of a his­tor­ic­al nature, many books more eas­ily stored, searched and ref­er­enced digit­ally. Which means the book ware­houses (lib­rar­ies) can evolve into their next phase. I’m not sure what that would be, but I bet we’re going to love it :smileyhappy:

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#Winning on Friday the 13th

f13a_300.jpgToday is Fri­day the 13th. The only Fri­day the 13th of 2011 as it works out.

This spe­cif­ic date has spe­cial sig­ni­fic­ance for me — and it has noth­ing to do with movies.

Since Fri­day the 13ths occur so infre­quently, and are  some­what fam­ous, I use the day as a semi-ran­dom chance to get my digit­al ducks in a row.

Stop everything
My Fri­day the 13th routine starts with a quick review of all open pro­jects and work. I don’t actu­ally do any work on those pro­jects, rather I look over everything, review­ing all the details and mile­stones, and just make sure that nothing’s being missed.

Backup everything
Next, I check out my data backup soft­ware and pro­cesses. In the blo­go­sphere, the 13th of each month  has been pro­moted as Blog Backup Day, but really, pro­tect­ing your data is some­thing that every­one should do, be it through a highly-pro­tec­ted stor­age device like the Drobo-FS, or using a backup drive sys­tem like ClickFree’s, or some com­bin­a­tion of  the two.

Vac­cin­ate everything
Then, I make sure my anti-vir­us and fire­wall tech­no­logy is cur­rent — and run a manu­al scan over all my drives. Yes, time con­sum­ing but it also provides me peace of mind that everything’s clean.

Defrag everything
Finally, I run a drive defrag­ment­a­tion util­ity over all drives that can bene­fit from it. Some oper­at­ing sys­tems auto­ma­gic­ally handle drive frag­ment­a­tion and some don’t.

Data ducks in a row
And yes, that can be a lot of work, but at the end of it, I’ve got a good pic­ture of my work­load, and the state of my data on my com­puter sys­tems. I’ve turned a day that’s fam­ous for hor­ror stor­ies into a day of good. #Win­ning 🙂

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Many flavours of RSS readers for iPad

title.jpgEarli­er today Feedly was rein­tro­duced to the iPad iOS world with sig­ni­fic­ant buzz — Robert Scoble pro­filed the read­er (check the video below).

One of the not­able things about Feedly is its HTML 5 base — which allows the major­ity of func­tions to be device agnost­ic (Android, Win­dows Phone, etc).

But on iOS devices, there are a num­ber of RSS read­ers that have made names for them­selves, and are hap­pily co-exist­ing on my iPad.

All of these read­ers, in some way, tap into your vari­ous social media streams, as well as an exist­ing Google Read­er account — which is cool, as you can use the power of Google Read­er to man­age the feeds, then simply con­sume the con­tent on your mobile device as is con­veni­ent.
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Some are my daily use RSS read­er, and oth­ers, while inter­est­ing, just haven’t man­aged to keep my atten­tion.
Here’s a few of the ones I like, and why:



Cur­rently my daily use news read­er, grabs con­tent from your Twit­ter stream, your Google Read­er RSS feeds, and your Deli­cious book­marks.

Zite gives you a very clean and pol­ished inter­face con­sist­ing of algorith­mic­ally-selec­ted stor­ies from your con­tent feeds.

Inter­est­ingly, you can rate and share the con­tent. As you do this, Zite ‘remem­bers’ the con­tent you’ve rated and will get smarter about dis­play­ing con­tent to you as it learns. After a few weeks, you’ll have your own tuned and per­son­al­ized digit­al magazine made up of the con­tent you like to con­sume.

The only down­side? The danger of too much ‘same­ness’.  I do occa­sion­ally like to read out­side my reg­u­lar pat­terns, and I fear Zite will not expose me to some new and inter­est­ing things by only show­ing me more of what I like and review. Time will tell.



Ini­tially my reg­u­lar read­er, now it’s down to about once a month. Nice dis­play, nice meth­od of read­ing, but not good enough to keep me com­ing back. Zite has replaced Flip­Board as my ‘visu­al’ read­er.



The 500lb gor­illa of RSS read­ers — quickly and effi­ciently man­ages your con­tent. Dis­plays RSS feeds cleanly and allows you to eas­ily browse your feeds. Simple and eleg­ant design has kept me using this as my reg­u­lar RSS read­er when I want to drill down to see what con­tent I’ve missed from a par­tic­u­lar source.



I have a love / hate rela­tion­ship with Pulse. Nice dis­play. Easy to use and share con­tent. It’s my Num­ber 2 RSS reader…except when it crashes. And it has, usu­ally once a ses­sion when I use it, which is becom­ing less fre­quent.



An odd one that has stayed on my device, for the time being.

Sim­il­ar to Pulse in lay­out, but not quite as effi­cient in hand­ling feeds, at least from an end-user per­spect­ive.



The new kid on the block. Ties in to Google Read­er, has a nifty swipe-sens­it­ive inter­face to flip pages, and a very nice look and feel.

I don’t like the way the con­tent is locked in a ver­tic­al ori­ent­a­tion (por­trait mode)…and am some­what con­cerned as a blog own­er that they’ve blocked out an area for insert­ing advert­ising in my blog con­tent stream — yes they ask you to ping them if that’s your con­tent stream, but what if I don’t — will they insert their own advert­ising on my con­tent?

Regard­less, Feedly is new, and has my atten­tion for now — time will tell, espe­cially as it grows on oth­er mobile plat­forms.

Your turn — what mobile RSS read­er is your daily go-to read­er, and why?

Oh, and here’s that Feedly video I prom­ised :smileyhappy:

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Disaster Tech


Like many of you, I’ve been watch­ing the events in Japan con­tin­ue to unfold, and per­haps think­ing to myself, “I’m glad some­thing that dev­ast­at­ing didn’t hap­pen here”.

But what if it did, would you be pre­pared? I like to think that I am, but sadly, I’m prob­ably not.

Yes, I have a first aid kit, and I’ve got some camp­ing sup­plies, but it’s not organ­ized nor is it handy. And it’s likely not enough, which is why the Cana­dian Red Cross cre­ated these handy plans.

Get­ting Pre­pared
The Cana­dian Red Cross has this excel­lent resource for build­ing and main­tain­ing an Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness Kit list­ing what you need to sur­vive for 72 hours or more.


Ok, step one is taken care of…or is it.
In my case, I’ve got pets so I need to extend my kit and plans a bit with this Emer­gency Pet Plan & Kit


Now I’m set, except for some of the tech. Usu­ally tech is the last thing you want in your kit; it requires power, isn’t easy to fix when it breaks, and doesn’t fare well when wet. Yet there are some excep­tions.

Gear­ing up
These plans and kits all call for a bat­tery or hand-crank flash­light and radio. And I’ve found one that suits my needs per­fectly.


The Etón FR160 self-powered safety radio uses hand crank or sol­ar power to re-charge the intern­al nick­el met­al-hydride bat­tery and fea­tures AM/FM radio and Envir­on­ment­al Canada weath­er band chan­nels to provide emer­gency weath­er information/public alerts. In addi­tion, the FR160 has an integ­rated LED flash­light, 3.5 mm head­phone out­put and a USB port for char­ging cell phones.


The unit is small, light­weight, and won’t take up valu­able space in any emer­gency kit.

Of course, I tried it out, and yes, it does work well. Radio recep­tion was fine, and the crank, while a bit noisy, did charge well.

And as a bonus, Etón Cor­por­a­tion con­trib­utes a por­tion of every Cana­dian Red Cross branded unit sold to sup­port the mis­sion of the Cana­dian Red Cross.

If you’re look­ing for more inform­a­tion on the FR160, you can check out the manu­al here (pdf).

And yes, this will find a home in my soon-to-be-com­plete emer­gency kit.

But I’m sure you’ve got some tech-thoughts on addi­tions to my kit — what tech would you pack in your kit?

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