Tag: apps

My ChromeOS apps and extensions

I came across a pretty nifty service called Loom yesterday that allows you to record both your screen and webcam in the browser. Perfect for ChromeOS, which is the operating system I’m using most of the time at the moment.

To give it a test drive, I recorded a video showing the ChromeOS apps and extensions I use on the Chromebox in my home office.

Between this and WeVideo, I reckon everything apart from really high-end video editing can be done in the browser if you’ve got a decent internet connection. I can definitely see me using this for creating quick tutorial videos and I’ve already used WeVideo to edit green screen videos for clients!

My iPad Mini apps (October 2013)

This morning I went through the apps I had installed on my iPad Mini. I realised I don’t use most of them and so carefully pared them down to fit on one screen. No horizontal scrolling for me!

I’ve uploaded the screenshot to Flickr and added notes with some detail of how I use each app. I’d be interested if you did the same – whatever device you use!

Click here to see the notes

My iPhone apps (April 2013)

Some people are surprised that I use an iPhone 4. It’s true that I’ve tried a Nokia N9 and several Android devices but (at the moment, until something better comes along) you’ll prise my closed proprietary device out of my cold, dead hands. Why? I can trust it to work as expected when I’m travelling. And that’s important.

It’s been a while since I shared the iPhone apps that I use, so I thought it was time for an update. I’m going to use Flickr notes to do this, so to get started click here or on the image below:

iPhone apps (April 2013)

Which apps do you recommend? Why?

How I use a MacBook Pro (October 2012)

Back in May 2011 I put together a 9-minute screencast showing how I used a (previous work’s) MacBook Pro. That proved reasonably popular with over 18,000 views on YouTube and plenty of comments here. Happily, Stephen Downes picked up on it and shared the way he works.

I thought it was time for an update, not least because I now work for a different organisation and do so from home. I can’t promise that the video screencast above is a comprehensive overview of everything I do, but it reflects what I’m up to right now! Thanks to colleague Laura Hilliger for giving me a nudge to do this. πŸ™‚

Tip: crank the video quality up to 720p and click the arrows to the bottom-right of the embedded YouTube video to go fullscreen!

Platforms as standards? 10 days with the Nokia N9.

Last week I ordered and received a Nokia N9 smartphone. You can’t buy them in stores in the UK as Nokia has since decided to go with the ‘Windows Phone’ mobile operating system.

Nokia N9 - cyan

This has led to some interesting reviews:

Essentially, they all say that the phone is gorgeous, both in terms of hardware and the swipe-based MeeGo operating system.

But.

Nokia N9 - appsThe Nokia Ovi store contains very few apps as Nokia has effectively abandoned the platform (although they are supporting it until 2015).

That hasn’t stopped me getting two significant updates to the phone in the short time I’ve had it. The latest update was awesome and included built-in DLNA streaming to devices such as my Playstation 3.

Quite why a closed app store equates to a successful mobile device is beyond me. The only two apps I’m actually missing are two you probably don’t use: Path and LastPass.

I want to credit Amber Thomas with a throwaway comment she made during our Skype conversation earlier this week. She talked of the worrying tendency of people to treat ‘platforms as standards’. Hence the title of this post. What I’ve realised is that Apple iPhone app makers love to create silos for information. It makes their apps profitable.

On the other hand, I like my workflows. And the best mechanisms for making those workflows as smooth as possible? RSS and email. Which, given Project Reclaim, is just as well. πŸ™‚

I’ve spent a small fortune on apps for Apple devices. And to what avail? I don’t need a dedicated special ‘distraction-free’ iPad app to write well. I just need to find an environment conducive to writing and get on and write. I don’t need a fancy to-do list with heatmap colours. I need a list of things to do. Paper and pen’s working well.

The N9 has apps and accounts that are integrated into the operating system itself. The Twitter app is great and the Messages app integrates SMS, Google Talk, Skype and other instant messaging platforms:

Accounts on the Nokia N9 (1/2) Accounts on the Nokia N9 (2/2) Nokia N9 built in functionality - Skype/Google Talk

Connecting your accounts enables you to import and export from almost any app. I added the Evernote and MeeIn (LinkedIn) functionality through the Nokia Ovi Store. It’s not completely barren.

This isn’tΒ  a review of the Nokia N9. Nor is it a post comparing it with my previous smartphone: an iPhone 4. The reason for this post is to point out a couple of things:

  1. To what extent do we (myself included) treat platforms as de facto ‘standards’? Is that healthy? Is it sustainable?
  2. To what extent does our tool use affect how we see the world? Do we need to change the tools we use to see the world in a new light? If so, how often?

Finally, the change has made me think about web apps. Cross-platform, browser-based HTML5 applications. Why don’t companies go down that route? Well, perhaps because anecdotal research shows that people only tend to look in app stores rather than on the Web for such apps. And second there’s the issue of monetisation. There’s money in those iOS and Android hills.

I can’t help but think, however, that initiatives such as Mozilla’s completely Web-based operating system Boot to Gecko (B2G) will lead to greater cross-platform compatibility. As the fortunes of large companies such as BlackBerry, Microsoft, Nokia and Apple wax and wane, so too will the desire of consumers to lock themselves into one ecosystem. I don’t want to have to re-purchase all of my apps just because I buy a new mobile device.

The future is more democratic. The future is more open.

Eventually.

How I Use a MacBook Pro (May 2011)

On the basis of I’d be rather interested if other people I know did this, here’s a 9-minute ramble through how I’ve got my MacBook Pro set up – including apps and web services I use. If there’s anything you see in the screencast that I forgot to mention explicitly, please do ask in the comments below.

There’s one thing I forgot to mention: I don’t use the ‘tapping’ feature on laptop trackpads as it drives me mad. That causes problems for others when they use my machines…

Tip: click the arrows to the bottom-right of the embedded YouTube video to go fullscreen!

Web apps and workflows

The JISC infoNet team of which I am part are presenting at the Support Northumbria conference next month. We’re presenting a smorgasbord of delights for delegates with my part focusing upon workflows.

We’ve done plenty of work as a team on mapping our workflows but, given the fast-paced world we work in, I’ve not thought through mine as a researcher for a while. I decided to break out the crayons this afternoon, therefore, and think through both what I’m currently doing and how I can make that process more effective.

The first thing I did was to create four columns, reflecting what I consider to be the stages of research I go through:

  1. Inputs
  2. Lenses
  3. Curation
  4. Synthesis

Once I’d done that I placed every web app I use regularly into one of the columns (or ‘other’) and then identified which are core to my productivity. Then I thought how they fit together and how I could hone my workflow. I came up with this:

The grey river thing to the left stands for sources of information whilst the one in the middle for projects (current and potential).

I’ll no doubt have missed out something huge, but it was an interesting process to go through. I realised, for example, that I need to pay for Evernote on a yearly basis (I’ve been paying on an ad-hoc monthly basis) and use it more consistently. Also, I hadn’t carried out the very simple step of auto-feeding my Amplify RSS into Licorize as I had done with my starred twitter items!

Hands-on with the Dell Streak.

So yes, I bought it, took it back and bought it again. But I’m keeping my Dell Streak now. It’s great. And this is my last post on mobile phones – well, this month anyway… πŸ˜€

Usually new mobile phones are known about well in advance of their launch. Everything from specs to early reviews are made available in order to create a buzz around the product.Β For example, a couple of years ago I was sent an LG Shine and encouraged (although not instructed) to take photos of it and blog about it. With the Dell Streak, however, apart from a great video at jkkmobile I stumbled across on the night before it was released in the UK, I’d heard nothing about it!

Full specs of the device can be found here, but the highlights are that it’s an Android tablet/smartphone hybrid with a 5″ screen. Yes,Β five inch! :-p

Let’s just get past the two (related) questions I’ve been asked most frequently over the last couple of weeks:

  1. Is it too big?
  2. Don’t you feel a bit stupid putting it to your ear to, you know, make phone calls?

My responses:

  1. It’s certainly on the upper limit of what counts as a phone size wise. Some, undoubtedly, will find it too big. But given that I tended to use my iPhone more for Twitter and other internet based activities than for phone calls, I don’t!
  2. It’s not Dom Joly size and I don’t really suffer from self esteem issues anyway. As for people who think that phones should only be able to make phone calls, get back in your cave please… πŸ˜‰

Things I really like:

  • The whole experience and speed of the device makes it ΓΌber-slick
  • Spotify, Dropbox and other official apps are better (to my mind) than their iPhone counterparts
  • The size of the screen makes everything… just better
  • It’s really quite thin
  • Several virtual desktops means you can organize your stuff
  • I don’t have to jail break it to set it up the way I want it
  • Widgets provide real-time updates
  • The camera is legendary and the in-phone editing functions are actually useful
  • It’s got a ‘gorilla glass’ screen – check out this video showing it being torture-tested!

Things I’m not so keen on:

  • The placement of headphone socket
  • Volume buttons alter up or down depending on orientation (confusing!)
  • You can’t delete things (e.g. emails) by swiping
  • It’s not running the latest version of Android (v1.6)
  • Proprietary power/ sync cable
  • Current lack of third party support (eg cases, speakers, other add ons)
  • The quality of sound recording when shooting video isn’t gerat

Stuff other reviews might not tell you:

  • As with the iPhone, music stops playing when you remove the headphones
  • Sometimes tasks don’t shut by themselves and drain your battery (a force close app is pretty much essential)
  • It’s not really possible to use the Streak with one hand whilst walking for texting, etc.
  • With Android apps you’ve got 24 hours to get a refund if you don’t like it or it didn’t perform as you expected
  • The power cable is similar to the iPhone’s in that the USB end plugs into the power cable

10 apps that are awesome on the Streak:

  1. Dropbox
  2. Fring (for Skype & instant messaging apps)
  3. Google Listen (podcasts through Google Reader)
  4. Handcent SMS (iPhone-like text messages)
  5. Opera Mini (web browser)
  6. Profiles (change between ‘Normal’, ‘Night’, ‘Outdoor’, etc.)
  7. Quick Addroid (add stuff to your Google Calendar quickly)
  8. Realplayer
  9. SlideScreen (really classy home screen replacement)
  10. Spotify

I’m happy to answer any questions you’ve got – including making another video, so ask away! πŸ™‚

iPhone apps I currently use.

Building on the success and interest generated by Mac OSX apps I currently use, here’s the apps currently installed on my iPhone (click to enlarge without notes):

Which iPhone apps do you use and wouldn’t like to be without? πŸ˜€

Mac OSX apps I currently use.

Michael Arrington (of TechCrunch fame) recently posted his fifth annual list of the tech products he loves and uses every day. Paul Stamatiou updates his Stuff I Use page regularly. People often ask me what apps I use, so here goes in the quickest and easiest way I know how – Flickr with notes*



(if it’s too small to read, you might want to click through!)

* Want to do this yourself? Try this script (which I used) or Mbedr. πŸ™‚

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