My most anticipated game of 2011 [Video]

Portal 2

I loved Portal. It was a challenging, entertaining and darkly humourous puzzle game in a First Person Shooter style.

And later this month, Valve will release Portal 2. Yes, it’s more Fun, with Science!

Basically, you have a gun that creates a portable hole that is a gateway to another portable hole. The Blue-ringed hole is matched with the Orange-ringed hole. What goes in a Blue hole, comes out an Orange hole.

Your challenge is to work through increasingly difficult mazes. To what end? Well, that would be telling!

Simple. Then it gets complex! Check out this new video, and previous Portal2 videos below!

And a demo of one of the new game-play elements – bounce!

The April launch date can’t come soon enough. Available on Steam, and in the regular retail channels, on PC, OSX, and consoles.

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?”

Tablets will be the story this holiday season

The iPad has been out for a bit now, and it’s the tablet that all the others will be compared against as they jockey for position going into the holiday season.

But overall, I think this is the year that tablets finally start to make some headway into the marketplace; a marketplace already crowded with Desktops, Laptops, Netbooks and Data Phones.

So, why consider a tablet? Here’s a few things to think about.

Tablets won’t replace your main computer, nor will they replace your laptop. They’re not powerful enough to do a lot of the work those computers do. But, they will fill in the middleground between your smartphone and your computer, simply because they are smaller, yet not too small, and offer a great interactive experience.

Tablets are  great to bring to meetings, light-weight and yet functional enough that looking up calendar conflicts or taking simple notes is a very simple process — and the tablet is much less obvious than a laptop when sitting around the boardroom table.

Oh, and you smartphone jockey’s out there, yes, you can do all that stuff on your handheld Android/BlackBerry/iPhone, but the screen size is kinda limiting when you want/need to share the view.

Using some cloud computing applications such as DropBox, any notes you create on your tablet are instantly stored in the cloud account and accessible to your other computers.

And, if you’re in that meeting and need to reference something stored on your desktop, you can use desktop control software such as LogMeIn Ignition (on the iPad / iPhone / Touch) or a VNC client written for your tablet. A couple of quick touchpad strokes and you’re working on your desktop computer as if you were sitting in front of it.

Ok, those are the big reasons that a tablet wins for me. And here’s a few more that are really just icing on the cake:

  • Inherently portable – smaller form factor makes it easier to take everywhere. My iPad is with me daily, whereas my laptop or netbook only came out when I thought I might need it
  • Casual usage – since it’s with me I use it more to jot down notes, surf, etc during otherwise dead time
  • Tactile, friendly, engaging – a tablet seems less imposing than a full-up laptop. People like to share work on a tablet, it’s easy to hand around a meeting and solicit feedback.
  • Portable media – tablets are great for watching movies or videos on the bus or wherever because they’re smaller and sleeker — no huge keyboard to haul around in addition to the screen.

So, in my humble opinion, yes, the tablet will make some serious inroads this holiday season, especially if the price can stay low, the hardware delivers, and the software is developed to live in this new middleground.

So that’s why a tablet appeals to me, how ‘bout you? Are you in or out when it comes to considering a tablet in the near future?

This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.

Protecting your tech

When ever I get a new tech device, especially one that’s small, portable, and has a display screen, I immediately look to protecting that screen and device. I’m kinda clumsy at times, and anything that can protect my hardware from *me* is a worthwhile investment. I dropped my iPod Touch down the stairs last year, without a case, and the screen developed a hairline crack that killed about 2% of the pixels. The Touch works fine otherwise, but it’s annoying to have to deal with that flawed display part.


On my camera, I protected the view-screen with a clear adhesive protector.

In the past, with my various Palm devices, I’d gone with an aluminium-lined leather book-style case, and a clear adhesive plastic screen protector.

For my iPod Touch, I have a simple leather pouch, and my wife has a flip-style case — also with an aluminium panel over the screen, and a rather nifty full-body ‘skin’ from It’s transparent, made from reinforcing plastic used in helicopter blades, and very tough.


For my iPad, I opted for a portfolio-style leather case from Fossil, and a full body clear skin similar to the one on my wife’s iPod Touch. She’s got an Apple silicone iPad case.

Defence in depth
So you see a bit of a pattern here. I’m using two layers of protection on my devices; a robust and shock-absorbing case to carry the device in, and a clear protective skin to protect the unit from scratches and wear. The skins make it easier to keep the devices clean, and I have less worry when using them in a mobile environment — if the skin gets too scratched, simply peel it off and replace it.

Your turn, how do you protect your mobile devices?

This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.

Cute name. Cute scanner. Great value.

SnoopyFuzzy200.jpgI have two dogs, miniature Daschunds. They’re about 6 inches tall at the shoulder and about 14 inches longs. Weiner dogs. Doxies. I now have a scanner, and it’s a Doxie too! It’s about 2 inches tall, and about 10 inches long. Appropriately named. But the name doesn’t do justice to the scanner itself. The Doxie is one cool and powerful little scanner in a very tiny package. Because it’s got such a small form factor, the Doxie is highly portable — No external power supply. If you’re a road warrior you’ll appreciate that you’re only packing the scanner and the USB cable, and not another power brick.


As with many devices these days, the real sophistication is in the software running on the computer; from most casual user’s perspectives, there appears to be little difference in the hardware actually capturing the image. Rather, it’s the usability and functionality of the software that’s important. The folks at Apparent Corp. (the makers of the Doxie) have really worked hard to inject some ‘spirit’ into the Doxie scanning software.


You’ll first encounter this spirit when you realize that there’s no driver disc or installation software in the box. Rather, you point your browser at and download the appropriate installation software (Mac or Windows). Always the most recent version, rather than one that could have been burned to the CD and packed with the unit when it was manufactured a few months ago. A very smart move.

After running the install software and performing a simple calibration routine with the included calibration sheets, you’re ready to scan documents or images. The Doxie will scan in most popular resolutions and document sizes (up to 8.5” width).
But scanning is only part of the equation. It’s what you can do with it afterward that makes things really interesting.
[Above — 8×10 scan of old inkjet photo in Doxie’s scan/format dialogue box]

With most traditional scanning solutions, you’re able to dump the scan into a file on your desktop or hard drive, or automagically import it into some image editing or OCR software.

Doxie lets you store your stuff in the cloud(s). Either the free Doxie Cloud services, or Flickr, Evernote, Google Docs, Picknik, Scribd…etc. You simply add the service to Doxie’s Cloud Preferences, and then with one click of the mouse you’re able to send your image directly to the service of your choice. A great time-saving feature.


Now, if you’re scanning text, you may be scanning text you’d want to edit. Well, that gets a bit tougher. Doxie’s not optimized for that, but the applications it plugs in to may be. Google Docs, Evernote and Adobe Acrobat all have some semblance of OCR capability. Your mileage may vary. I scanned in this Fanspeak Glossary from an old fanzine I had kicking around from the late ‘70s. You’d be amazed at what a ‘blog’ was back then :smileyhappy:


One other little issue cropped up from time to time — that of image alignment. Occasionally, when scanning a smaller business card or photo, the image imported would be slightly askew. Easy enough to fix, either by rescanning or rotating in an image editing program. Similar issues occur with many scanners with built in sheet feeders.


And finally, kudos to the marketing team. Sure, the Doxie comes adorned with a uber-cute set of pink hearts, but that may not be to everyone’s taste. Recognizing that, they’ve also shipped a set of stylish adhesive skins that let you personalize your Doxie — I’m partial to the MacIntosh tartan.

So, to wrap this up, the Doxie is a small, portable, and highly efficient personal scanner. It works, and works well. If you have the need, take a Doxie for a walk :smileyhappy:

This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.

“I’m an iPad. And I’m a Courier.”

Ah yes, the Apple vs Microsoft rivalry is heating up again after this weekend’s ‘leak’ (strategic release?) to Engadget of all sorts of interesting Courier tidbits. But what wasn’t said? Are they really aiming at the same audience? Why did Microsoft name it after a font? …more

This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.

The Tablet Cometh: Some thoughts on Apple’s announcement

Next Wednesday, Apple will host one of the most anticipated technology announcements of the year, perhaps of this still-fresh decade.

The reason for this level of attention is that everyone anticipates that Apple will re-launch a device that the industry has been trying to make work for 20 years — the Tablet computer.

As some pundits predict, this could be the thin-edge-of-the-wedge that will change the publishing industry. Think eBooks, newspapers and magazines:

If the tablet does emphasize ebooks the way analysts expect it to, we can only hope that Apple helps show publishers The Way in a future version of the iPhone SDK, similar to Amazon’s active content Kindle development kit (KDK) announced yesterday. If the tablet succeeds in its arena, the way the iPhone has before, authors and publishers will be able to Publish Different.

The currently leading name for the device is the iSlate – based on some clever detective work that uncovered Apple ownership of the domain name:

… was registered to Apple in 2007, through an intermediary (to disguise its true owner). At the moment, that domain doesn’t seem to lead anywhere—and there are a couple explanations.

And, earlier this month,  coincidentally coinciding with CES and the plethora of Tablet, Slate, Pad announcements from other hardware vendors, Apple announced Wednesday’s event, apparently leaked business and product production information, and generally kicked the hype level up a notch.

And frankly, I hope Apple does release a Tablet. This kind of technology has the ability to change (again) how we work and think about distributed computing tech. making it more mobile and  creating new modes for consuming and interacting with content.

And yes, I’ll be paying attention to the event and posting my thoughts shortly afterward.