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Comment Is this a pad or a phone? (Score 4, Funny) 77

I wept with laughter at this bonkers trade show intro - really, I actually wept over my grande Americano at the Starbucks near Holborn tube on a sunny Saturday morning this summer.

Padphone, eh? The only thing this chap didn't do is actually jump over a shark. Poor bastard.

Comment It's called an idiot box for a reason ... (Score 5, Interesting) 210

I think the author of the article summarises the state of the industry quite nicely. We're in the middle of a massively muddled migration from broadcasting toward video on demand (or whatever you want to call it) and delivered over IP. The "connected TV" apps in development in agency labs everywhere are going to fail spectacularly unless they are looking to make apps for iOS, Amazon (not "generic" Android) and perhaps Windows that stream video content.

I already use my iPhone and iPad as remotes with AirPlay it's absurdly simple to flip video onto any screen in my house or office.

But will broadcasters like Sky and Comcast go for this? And will this fly in non-American/European countries where state and local satellite broadcasters will fight like hell not to be disintermediated?

What do we think?

Comment iBooks Author & Beyond (Score 1) 87

I spent a weekend with Apple's iBooks Author making a book from a short story and my photography. The process was fairly straightforward, but the lack of documentation around the various widgets made the whole experience more trial and error than anything else. I also don't have an iPad so it was difficult to properly preview the book.

What we - e.g., people who wish to create books and distribute far and wide to many devices - lack is a killer tool that both helps us along with amazing templates, but also allows us to customise and distribute the books however we wish.

In the past, one would have hoped that Adobe or perhaps even Quark would provide the tool, but now? Apple's offering is tied to their channel. Fair enough - photography looks amazing on the iPad. But who is going to make a tool that exports to ePub, Mobi AND iBooks and price it sensibly? Maybe we just need to extend the utility of existing CMS's? It's just another three export options, after all ...

By the by, here's the book if you fancy having a look at what's possible with iBooks Author: Where Here and Now Cease To Matter

Comment Re:It's certainly not a killer app for Maths (Score 1) 416

I worked on Higher Ed digital maths products for 11 years and the display of mathematics has been a problem since the beginning. Tutorial/homework solutions like MyMathLab / MathXL use Flash to serve up the display to multiple browsers. I'd imagine (since I no longer work there), they'll go with a native app solution for anything involving input / computation - but that only works for mobile devices. No idea how one would handle this using the HTML5 set of technologies inside one of these EPUB textbooks.

Comment We don't pay for it, that's why it's crap (Score 1) 839

Not directly, anyway.

Television in most of the world is utter crap because it is funded by advertisements. The ad market doesn't work by crafting entertainments that people pay for directly (and, if it's not to their likely, they don't). Television shows exist as ad delivery vehicles or as something that resembles a gaudy variation on popular entertainment from state-sponsored, tax-funded stations.

Television will work again only when one buys direct access to a show (or series of shows). Unpopular shows that can't make their production costs back won't be on the air for long.

Advertising can so very quickly debase the relationship between purchaser of content and its creator. That link needs to be restored. Quickly.

The pipe-owners - Comcast, Sky, TimeWarner - can only further distance us from choosing our entertainment with our money.

This works at the cinema and it's the way television should work, too.

Comment Education in a many-splendoured thing (Score 3, Insightful) 124

Learning and education. Highly contentious topics infused with politics and the corrupting influence of money sloshing around the system (e.g., textbooks, student loans, tuition fees).

Humanity has passed knowledge on for millennia and what's required is a willing student and a knowledgeable, savvy, patient, rigorous teacher. What our American and British institutions of higher education really are trying to achieve is the ability to instruct the maximum quantity of people at the lowest possible cost with a reasonable degree of effectiveness as measured by testing scores/graduation rates.

I think the open publishing of these courses and course materials is a wonderful thing that could possibly enhance mass literacy and allow curious people access to the finest knowledge pool in the world. It's what a global network should be about: to freely connect people thirsty for knowledge with all the information humanity has accumulated.

After working on technology in higher education for 11 years, I sometimes think all we're doing is tinkering around the edges and using technology as a distraction from addressing the real challenges in educating humanity.

Comment Nub Nub Cry The Ewoks! (Score 2) 309

I suspect his bland style of pastiche adventure would work fairly well as a 60-minute limited series of, say, 15 episodes, but 100 hours? Good lord, Lucas should just call it a day and direct cut scenes for any of the Star Wars spinoff video games. I suspect they'd be far better received than his recent ghastly, leaden feature films.

Comment Dropbox is brilliant & essential for iOS users (Score 1) 307

I've used iTool/.Mac/MobileMe since its inception and used a password-protected public folder for work over the past couple of years. Although I found it extremely useful to have all my business documents in the Apple cloud, the WebDAV performance was/is rather poor. I could mount the share, but actually opening the files from the share was a glacial process.

Despite the upgrades over the years, the cloud storage of MobileMe remains sluggish to access from anything but the fastest of connections (though the iOS app is rather nice).

But what I haven't seen so far in this Slashdot article is a discussion of how well Dropbox integrates into iOS. There are quite a number of interesting Dropbox integrations with more on the way.

I've been using Dropbox for the past four months on a variety of collaborative projects and I'm finding the biggest challenge is to correctly parcel out permissions so that users are appropriately sandboxed in their respective areas of competence. It's also heaven to be able to work using the Finder on my Mac, the work MacBook and the occasional Windows XP box when I must.


PlayStation App Coming To iOS, Android 47

Sony has announced plans to launch PlayStation-centric apps for iOS 4 and Android devices. While the apps doesn't actually let users play games, it allows them to interact with various PlayStation Network functions. "This includes allowing players to view various trophies they and their friends have won in order to validate their self-worth. Players will also be able to view friends' online status and browse games for the PS3, PS2, and PSP with the app, as well as catch up on news and any relevant hardware announcements. If they see anything they like, the app will integrate with Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail to make for easy sharing." The app will be released for several European countries to start, with more versions and languages to follow.

Comment Queuing in Hampstead this morning at 6.30 (Score 2, Funny) 568

The queue in Hampstead this morning was 23 strong at 6.30 this morning (I was number 23), though by 7.00 it extended fairly far down Hampstead High Street. Mercifully, Samir in his white Apple iPhone 4 t-shirt came around, checked we were O2 customers and fetched everyone tea, coffee and juice from Gail's on the other side of the road. I didn't dare ask for one of Gail's scrumptious cake (had a slice of birthday cake there a few weeks ago and it was heavenly). I wasn't blessed with the Divine Device until a little past nine, but it all went smoothly with nary a cross word. That's a lie, a rather brash young lady sashayed up and attempted to sweet talk the two chaps behind me into allowing her to queue jump. Her lousy manners were challenged by a whingy American-sounding fellow. She then said "what are you going to do about it? Hit me?" She was Spanish and looked for all the world like some demented Almodóvar-esque creation. She had the good sense to eventually leave. So far the iPhone 4 has been brilliant. Fingers crossed the decent reception will last!

Alberta Scientists Discover Largest-Ever Cache of Dinosaur Bones 154

Cryolithic writes "The largest cache of dinosaur bones ever found has been unearthed in Alberta. From the article: '... officials at the Royal Tyrrell Museum say the Hilda site provides the first solid evidence that some horned dinosaur herds were much larger than previously thought, with numbers comfortably in the high hundreds to low thousands. ... Rather than picturing the animals as drowning while crossing a river, a classic scenario that has been used to explain bonebed occurrences at many sites in Alberta, the research team interpreted the vast coastal landscape as being submerged during tropical storms or hurricanes. With no high ground to escape to, most of the members of the herd drowned in the rising coastal waters. Carcasses were deposited in clumps across kilometers of ancient landscape as floodwaters receded.'"

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