I’m quite enjoying Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol!

Yep, I’m hav­ing fun with Ace Patrol, as you may have seen in my pre­vi­ous post, it’s a light single/multiplayer, World War I stra­tegic com­bat game. Air­fights con­sist of up to 8 com­batants, four per side, and vary depend­ing on air­craft, pilot skill, and game dif­fi­culty level.

Ace Patrol is cur­rently only avail­able for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone in the Canada iTunes store, dur­ing this pre-launch peri­od, but it will be avail­able world­wide on May 9th.

I’m hav­ing a blast, check out the ingame images below:

A great couple of weeks to be an iOS gamer

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Three excit­ing games were released for iOS devices in the last week and a bit. One was from a well-estab­lished com­puter and con­sole devel­op­ment jug­ger­naut. One was from a (now) block­buster com­pany that made their name on the iPhone and iPod Touch. And the final one from a small but respec­ted Cana­dian design house, is cur­rently tak­ing the iTunes App store by storm — becom­ing Game of the Week on launch day. And if you’re plan­ning to pick up an iPad 2 tomor­row, you might want to make these your first down­loads :smileyhappy:
Con­tin­ue read­ing “A great couple of weeks to be an iOS gamer”

How-To: Streaming stuff around your house

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In this increas­ingly wire­less world, it seems odd that it’s actu­ally kinda dif­fi­cult to get music or oth­er media from one device to anoth­er.

In my case, I have pho­tos, movies and music all stored on a cent­ral stor­age device on my net­work — a Net­work Attached Stor­age device, or NAS.

Get­ting to that media eas­ily with oth­er devices means I have to have a some­thing run­ning and act­ing as a serv­er to man­age access to the media. In my case, it’s a small win­dows based com­puter that acts as the serv­er.

Or should I say ‘serv­ers’ because to get my media streamed around the house is a feat that requires more than just one piece of soft­ware.

ituneslogo.jpgLet’s start with iTunes
I have that run­ning  and shar­ing its lib­rary (which is poin­ted at the media on the NAS). iTunes allows any oth­er copy of iTunes run­ning on my net­work (and that I’ve enabled Home Shar­ing on) to see the shared lib­rary and use the media on it.

So now any com­puter run­ning iTunes can play music from my shared iTunes lib­rary. This means my Apple TV (2nd Gen) can see my media lib­rary too.

But mov­ing a com­puter from sound­sys­tem to sound­sys­tem is a little clunky, so read on, gentle read­er, read on.

iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone
It’s fairly easy to plug your iDevices into most home sound sys­tem these days, so I won’t go into details on that, but that’s how I get the music to the room I want listen in.

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WiFi2HiFi

Now things get a bit more com­plex. Stream­ing media to these devices requires anoth­er piece of serv­er soft­ware run­ning on that serv­er box. And a match­ing applic­a­tion on the iOS device.

The iDevice is the receiv­er, and the Serv­er is, erm, the serv­er.

There are cur­rently three sol­id iOS receiv­er apps (and match­ing free serv­er soft­ware):

With all three, the basic prin­cip­al is the same:

1) Point the serv­er soft­ware (on the PC) at the dir­ect­or­ies you want to share with the iOS devices
2) Let the serv­er soft­ware build a cata­logue

Now things get a bit dif­fer­ent
With Air Video and Stream To Me, you just:
3) Point the app (on your iOS device) at your serv­er (usu­ally using an IP address).

If you’re using WiFi2HiFi, it’s easi­er — you just start the serv­er soft­ware, and it auto­mat­ic­ally detects your iOS device with the app run­ning and streams all your computer’s audio to it. So whatever you’re play­ing on your com­puter will be streamed to the iOS device.
4) With Stream-To-Me and Air Video, you have more con­trol. The match­ing serv­er soft­ware lets you view your media lib­rar­ies and select the media you’d like to stream.

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Stream-To-Me

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Air Video

As of this writ­ing, Air Video only streams video (with on the fly con­ver­sion or queued con­ver­sion), while Stream-To-Me sends most video and audio formats without con­ver­sion.

So depend­ing on your needs, you’ve got hard­ware and soft­ware options for get­ting your media to you using your exist­ing devices. Very cool, and con­veni­ent way to get your stuff to where you are.

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Three essential PDF readers for iPad

A while ago I wrote about ways to read PDF files on your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. Well that post is show­ing it’s age, so rather than com­pletely redo it, I thought I’d dis­cuss my cur­rent three top PDF read­ers, and why.

GoodRead­er
GoodRead­er is my first choice, go-to PDF read­er on my iPad.

First off, get­ting files into GoodRead­er. It’s simple, and sup­ports iTunes file trans­fer, Net­work trans­fer via WiFi, or down­load­ing from shared ser­vices such as;

  • Drop­Box
  • Google Apps
  • Mobile Me
  • Sug­ar­Sync
  • FTP serv­ers

Next, it’s under act­ive devel­op­ment, with fre­quent new fea­tures, updates and bug­fixes.

As expec­ted GoodRead­er sup­ports PDF and TXT files, but it can also dis­play all of the most pop­u­lar file types includ­ing:

  • MS Office — .doc, .ppt, .xls and more
  • iWork’08/’09
  • HTML and Safari webarchives
  • High res­ol­u­tion images
  • Audio & Video play­back in some formats

Yes, GoodRead­er is my PDF read­er of choice. But, there are cases where an altern­at­ive is import­ant. Enter…

CloudRead­ers
This is a more simplist­ic app that I use primar­ily for read­ing graph­ic nov­els and com­ic-book files. Some are in PDF format and oth­ers in CBZ or CBR format.

CloudRead­ers allows WiFi upload by run­ning a small serv­er that you con­nect to using your desktop com­puter. Here’s some of the cool­er fea­tures of CloudRead­ers:

  • Multi-task sup­port
  • Rota­tion lock
  • iPhone/iPod/iPad touch sup­port
  • Auto­mat­ic­ally add books when files were trans­ferred via iTune applic­a­tion
  • Auto page align­ment (on iPhone/iPod touch)
  • Smooth­ing (from Set­tings app)
  • Default page-ori­ent­at­in (from Set­tings app)

As a free eRead­er and PDF read­er, it’s a bar­gain. There’s also an in-app pur­chase that allows you to share (via P2P) with oth­er loc­al CloudRead­ers users. Very neat.

Stanza
This is my go-to eBook read­er on the iPad, and has been one I’ve used on the iPod Touch pre­vi­ously.

I’d writ­ten about it here, and it’s still a sol­id app you should check out, espe­cially since it’s free!

Boppin’ with the BeBot!

bebot.jpgiPad music and synth apps all seem to be try­ing to exactly rep­lic­ate the
exper­i­ence of using a real syn­thes­izer or instru­ment, like Vir­tu­oso Piano 3 .

Recently I dis­covered BeBot, an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad music app that breaks that ste­reo­type.

Accord­ing to the developer, BeBot is:

…Part syn­thes­izer, part anim­ated robot.

Touch­ing the screen causes the robot to move and make sounds con­trolled by your move­ments. Play it like a music­al instru­ment, or just have fun watch­ing the robot and mak­ing sounds with your fin­gers.

Fea­tures 4-fin­ger mul­ti­t­ouch poly­phony, mul­tiple syn­thes­is modes, user-defin­able pre­sets and scales, tweak­able synth set­tings and effects, and more!

And for me, this reads as pure fun! Robots! Synths! What more could you want.

Well, how ’bout a Theremin? Yep, the developers have built in a pre­set that emu­lates a Theremin pretty darn well.

Some will see this as a music­al time-waster or toy, yet it can have ser­i­ous music­al applic­a­tions. Check out the video  below of Jordan Rudess work­ing the BeBot on an iPhone.

So, for $1.99, I’m think­ing this is a pretty versitile piece of music­al tech. How ’bout you? Got a favour­ite music­al iOS  app? Let me know about it in the com­ments.

And, as an aside, check out this awe­some video of a Theremin being used to play the Star Trek theme!


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When is an iPad not an iPad?

sj.jpgOk, per­haps it is actu­ally “magic­al and revolu­tion­ary”. Or per­haps we’re just mov­ing toward the day that yes, there really is an app for that.

Smart phones and tab­let com­puters are set to explode this year, but what will really move the hard­ware is innov­at­ive soft­ware cre­ated by developers who can see bey­ond the tra­di­tion­al fare that is cur­rently avail­able on the soft­ware menu. Con­tin­ue read­ing “When is an iPad not an iPad?”

Indoor or out, the Soulra shines!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been listen­ing to my iPod Touch tunes with a rug­ged­ized sol­ar-powered sound sys­tem — the Soulra. And this could be one solu­tion to a prob­lem I’ve had for a while now; how to take my music out­side with me  and not have to wear ear-buds or head­phones to enjoy it.

We like to camp, so port­ab­il­ity and rugged con­struc­tion are import­ant in the things we bring with us. This, and one key fea­ture of the Soulra really caught my atten­tion — the large sol­ar pan­el on the device.

Essen­tially, the Soulra looks and acts like any port­able sound sys­tem dock­ing sta­tion. You plug your iPod/iPod Touch/iPhone into the dock and it plays music. But there’s much more to it than that:

Sol­ar Energy
Sol­ar powered char­ging dock, com­pat­ible with iPod and iPhone. This is cool, espe­cially when you’re camp­ing or away from an AC out­let. The sol­ar cell will keep the Soulra’s bat­ter­ies charged as well as your iDevice.
Con­tin­ue read­ing “Indoor or out, the Soulra shines!”