iOS 7 Launch – A busy day today

iOS 7 will be released later today, and I’m looking forward to it!

Update: But first, a public service announcement. Don’t forget to BACKUP YOUR DATA (thanks for the reminder Ryan!) Here’s a great how-to from Apple’s support site.

From what I’ve seen, this update of the venerable iOS operating system will be the best yet, not in terms of huge technological leaps and flashy features, rather in terms of subtle usability improvements that really make sense, such as the new way your pictures are grouped, and AirDrop (ok, that’s a new feature for iOS, but it has existed awesomely in OS X).

One thing I’m not so certain of yet, is the number of clicks it seems to take to do certain things, such as back out of a folder in multitask view. I was kind of hoping there’d be a swipe command to get you back to the top level of the desktop, not a button press. My thinking is that buttons can wear out, but the multi-touch swipe tech will last longer.

As well, this week you’ll have noticed a flurry of application updates as developers get their software ready for today’s launch of iOS 7. Being interested in electronic music and photography, here’s a couple of useful articles on upgrading and app compatibility:

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see real-world experiences as iOS 7 goes live later today. If you’re upgrading and feel like sharing, let me know what you think!

Captain on the bridge

About a year or so ago I downloaded a nifty little PC game called Artemis – Starship Simulator.

Actually, that name’s a bit misleading — it’s more of a Star Trek bridge crew simulator. There are other reviews that cover it better, but suffice it to say it’s a cool game to bring to a LAN party or a friends place where you have easy access to the network and a fist-full of laptops. Great if you have access to all that gear, but not that great for a quick and spontaneous game with friends.

Today I discovered the iOS version, and my above comment is nullified.

The iOS version of Artemis works and plays with the PC version, yet does it all on an iPad — even my original iPad 1 running iOS 5.


Each bridge position is controlled from one iPad, though with a quick settings change you can control multiple positions with on a single iPad.

The really cool thing is that an iPad can even act as the game server.


Now, Artemis is not a game for everyone. It’s really a collaborative starship combat simulator, but if you’ve got a few friends and a few iPads, it’s now much easier to host a pickup game on gamenight.

Shields up! Red Alert! Arm photon torpedoes, we’re going in!

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:

Almost bought this, and now it’s free!

Valve has just removed pricing from Team Fortress 2 — the seminal multi-player first-person shooter — in Steam, Valve’s online game distribution network.

Previously I’d been a Battlefield Heroes fan, but got busy and had little time for it. Now, with TF2 being free, and having a bit more time available, I may just give it a whirl.

And if you’d previously purchased TF2, no worries, you have exclusive access to special content not available to us free-loaders 😉

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:

 

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Zite
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.

 

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FlipBoard
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.

 

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Reeder
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.

 

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Pulse
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.

 

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FLUD
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.

 

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Feedly
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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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