Tag Archives: technology

The Studio i for iPad. Is it the missing piece?

On the Studio i home page they state  ‘This changes everything’.  Steve Jobs might have disagreed and changing everything may be pushing it just a little but this pen may just be the iPads missing piece.  Yes that is a bold statement. Does it have a missing piece?

It has been well documented the iPad is the first real device that offers the possibility of going paperless.  However, for many, while it may get rid of papers, magazines and books it has not replaced the pen and notepad.  The normal capacitive touch pen is not a good enough replacement for the pen. It is not accurate and can mean an inefficient use of the already limited space on the iPad.  I have mostly gone paperless over the last year.  I have been using the capacitive pen and while it works well it often falls down because of the lack of real accuracy particularly when trying to mark up printed documents or diagrams.

The Studio i changes that.  The pen or stylus has a very slender tip and with it very fine writing is possible.  The pen currently only works in its own native app Studio Basic + but that will change in the coming months as other note taking apps incorporate this hardware (see info at bottom on upcoming support).  Plug the receiver into the iPad data\charging port and start using the pen.  The app is very easy to use and you can very easily change the colour, opacity and line thickness to what is needed.  Take a picture within the app or import a pdf and start making notes on it straight away.  With all the accuracy of a real pen.

The pen like accuracy means that you really can use the full screen efficiently and get the sense of filling a page full of hand written notes.  While there are a couple of small things to get used to I have found I am using it daily and have really grown to like and use the app for all notes and reviewing all reading material.  Also it ignores finger and palm touches.  So you can touch and rest you hand and palm as much as you like and it wont mark or affect you page.  with the pen I can mark up PDFs, take meeting notes, jot down my daily tasks, project notes or just doodle.  You can then load to Dropbox, share on twitter, Facebook or send by email.  You can have multiple notebooks and docs on the go and easily switch between them.  If I get a word doc (or other Microsoft office doc)I need to mark up I can PDF it on the iPad using Adobe Createpdf and then open it in Studio Basic and start writing on it. Simple.

However there are a few things to note with this product

  • It takes a little bit of time to get used to the products little features such as using the ‘ghost’ dot that follows the pen nib around the screen as this is where it will start inking and not exactly where the nib is.  Also you need to hold the pen the same way as when you calibrated it or the point will be a little bit off (or re-calibrate it)
  • There is a very small lag from the pen stroke to the inking on the paper.  (Not so bad on iPad2 but more noticeable on iPad)
  • You have to press down the nib to engage the pen which at the start is a little disconcerting and can be frustrating depending on what you are doing at the start until you are used to it.  Hopefully later versions will make it much more sensitive to pressure.
  • There is less accuracy at each corner of the screen and at the bottom of the screen
  • You can only use the Studio i in Portrait mode

All that said I really do like it and its by far the best product for writing on the iPad.  I think it begins to close off the missing piece for the iPad. At least the missing piece for me.  I am sure as the product and the app develops and other apps take it on board it will become even more valuable. I gave it a quick demo today and one person soon after jumped online and bought one and another 2 people are very interested and want more info.  That is from a 2 minute demo to only a few people.  It is that impressive for those wanting to really utilise the iPad fully.

In March\April more apps will come with support for this product which I am looking forward to trying out:

  • Good Notes (beta version in app store NOW)
  • Noteshelf
  • Notes Plus
  • PDF-notes
  • Ghostwriter
  • Procreate

If you are looking for this product here in Ireland or for any info you should email B-connected info@bconnected.ie  –    www.bconnected.ie .  Its also on amazon.com and I am trying to find out where else for other geographies as I think this would be very appealing for many iPad owners.

The byZero writing demo on YouTube:

Steve Rixx’s Tech Corner…Glass Is Everywhere In Our Future!

Have recently been sharing part 1 of this and here is part 2. Really worth a watch and its really not that far away when you consider how far we have come with iphone, ipad and new smart TVs!

The future of mobile and what it might mean for us.

Over the last week I cleaned up a number of blog posts that I had started at various times over the last year but never got around to finishing. Some were just out of date, a few I didn’t have the cojones to publish and others were just something about nothing (which may actually be a good title for this post – something about nothing….).  One of them from October I want to particularly shine a light on.  I sat on my high horse ridiculing those that were running out to upgrade their iphone 4 to 4S when something else I felt was more important and should have been their focus.  That being the new iOS 5 and the iCloud offerings and not the little physical shiny new piece of tech(OK yes there are many levels to this but upgrading seemed ove the top!).

I then saw Siri in action.  A piece of tech not available on the older models with a simple iOS upgrade.  Feel in love with it and just before Christmas I bought a new iPhone 4S.  Glad I didn’t publish that post or I would have looked kinda foolish now. (Yes yes I know!)

Arrogant unfinished blog post aside and ignoring the fact of the hypocracy as I succumbed to the marketing and fell in line to get the latest tech I do think the basic premise of my post still holds true.  The premise being that soon the device in our hand will be somewhat irrelevant, not that we won’t need it, but that they will all offer closely the same functionality be it Android, Windows or iOS.  Very fast, touch screen with voice recognition\control.

So what then? Well it’ll be the data and services that the device can tap in to (and how) that will be the difference (and this obviously is also true at present but at varying degrees of integration and success).  Amazon are offering a service via their Kindle.  Sony (and the relatively recent Sony Ericsson news) are heading the same way.  Apple obviously have their offering.  The Microsoft, Skype, Nokia tie up have their effort of cloud services.  It’ll be the data in the cloud that we will want to access.  Materialism will take on a whole new meaning as the items that once clogged our houses, the picture albums, music CDs, DVDs, box sets, books, magazines, newspapers, will all disappear.  We will want access to everything but yet will not physically be able to touch the vast majority of these things.

Mobile when combined with the cloud is not just about handheld devices.  Its about, strangely enough, mobility.  Access your music from any device such as your TV not just your mobile phone.  Access your data from any computer, read your local newspaper anywhere in the world.  This is not new and the tech is not in the future its now.  However the impact on materialism is an interesting one to ponder.  Materialsim is a topic that has been on my mind a while now as for many others in this post Celtic Tiger era.  Don’t get me wrong I am not about to donate all my worldly possesions just yet but I do think we might be taking a big step in a positive direction even if not fully intentional and not even fully realised at present.  The more we put into and access online the less we will clutter that space around us with physcal things.  The more we are online and share, communicate and seek information the more the data becomes important and not the device we use to access it.  When the information, collaboration and sharing is what we crave and not the physical device or tactile object won’t that be a exciting time?

Problems accessing internet in some corners of the home? Try plugging this in!

The question of extending the home network has come up a few times lately.  What are your options for extending your network if you don’t have a network point in every room?  Is wireless the answer? That all too often taken for granted ability to always be connected to wi-fi as you walk around your house with your laptop or mobile device?  Unfortunately sometimes there is a corner where you would like to work or need connectivity and for some reason the wi-fi is always poor or none existent.  That room at the end of the house, or top or bottom where coverage of your wireless network is just bad no matter where you place the wireless router.

When I converted my attic the new foil back slabbing and insulation that surrounded it basically meant wireless was none existent up there while perfect in the rest of the house. This was where I hoped to have a computer desk for doing some work from home. Moving the router wasn’t really an option from its current location besides it worked well for the rest of the house. I tried a repeater upstairs, a way of extending the wireless network but that also failed to get wireless into the attic. Trying to retrospectively include network cabling would be expensive and awkward (Yes if I ever build my own house I will have it cabled properly… if…).  I needed to get a network point into the converted attic but running a cable to the router on the ground floor was next to impossible. I had read a number of times about ethernet over power but had never seen it in action (basically where you use your home electrical wiring to extend your computer network).  I started researching and discussing with a few people and by chance a colleague was using it in his apartment. He loved it.

On to the web I went and found the Belkin Surf Powerline 200Mbs with passthrough as in the pictures(You can get a 1Gb if you wish). Passthrough is a simple but nice feature as I don’t lose the socket and I can I plug any device into the front of this piece of equipment for power.  I am not sure if you can buy as a single device but anyhow at the start you need at minimum two.  One is plugged into your internet router, this basically makes your home electrical wiring one large network.  The other device can then be plugged in anywhere around the house into a power point to provide a network connection.  No setup required. They just worked from the moment I plugged them in. I now had an excellent network connection right into the attic and all I had to do was plug them in. Yes it was that simple.  I connected the network cable from the Belkin to my laptop in the attic and I had a perfect connection to the internet.  You could obviously add a little hub for more ports or another wireless router which would really extend the reach of your network. It worked so well that I bought two more a couple of months later and connected up my Sky TV and a network drive(I connected up the Sky TV as it streams video so I wanted a better connection than wireless).  As I already had one plugged into the router it meant these two new ones could be plugged in anywhere around the house giving me in total three ‘floating’ network points.

 As from the pic the units are a little big and if like me you plug an adapter into the passthrough on the Belkin then it does make it a little bulky.  It’s not exactly something that can sit in your hallway and probably best for a corner.  However I do really like the solution.  The cost was only about €100 euro and a supremely easy piece of tech to use and set up.  You just plug it in!  When you consider the alternative of trying to run a cable around the house and how messy or unsightly the end result might be this wins hands down.

There is one small condition (well possibly pretty large depending on where you want to use it!) but this will only work across a single fuse board.  As in if you want to use them in any part of your house or garage that has a different fuse board to where your unit and router is plugged in it wont work as that is essentially a different circuit.  They must be on the same circuit!

That aside I love it and it is a clever piece of tech that allow us to expand our connections without needing a degree in ‘Unnecessarily Complex Setup Manuals’ and spending hours in trying configure it.  It provides a smart solution for an everyday problem.  I am using it now for quite a few months and they just always work.  Top marks!

Technical expectations! It’s a generational thing

Have held a number of conversations the last few weeks about where tech is going. Partly with work and partly out of a personal interest. I shared a story of something I learnt from my daughter a few weeks ago and some other comments on tech in general from an older generation. The first comment I heard a couple of times was people had been reading my ‘essays’ during a recent trip to Thailand. I had to think for a second. Essays? Oh the blog. I suppose what else would you call them? It makes sense for a different generation not consumed with all the latest hype. Then there were a few comments on the power of phones and the ability to share things with the whole world via the Internet without ever sitting in front of your computer. When you stop and think that is pretty damn amazing. Stuck in the mountains beside a lake and 30 secs after something happens I can have a picture up for the world to see. (obviously assuming connection!) I am a big smart phone user sharing things all the time but seldom take the time to think about it. I just expect it.

The other story was from a recent car journey I took with my wife and kids. I was driving and my wife was picking songs from her iphone and playing them as per the kids requests. The iphone is connected by bluetooth to the Parrot car system so the music quite seamlessly without the need for cables plays over the car stereo speakers. Not anything new in the this day. However my daughter proceeded to ask for a Justin Bieber song that my wife did not have on her iphone. My daughter said to play it off Youtube. We tried to explain that we were in the car and that youtube wouldnt work and couldnt play over the car speakers. My daughter disagreed and simply asked why not? I said well I didnt think the connection would be good enough and streaming music onto your iphone to the car stereo from Youtube couldnt work as you drove along small country roads in the south east of Ireland.

My daughter asked could she at least try. My wife handed the iphone to her and within about 30 secs she had the song she wanted blaring out of the car stereo and she was watching the video on the iphone. I was more than a little shocked. There I was the technical ‘specialist’ having been taught a serious lesson in tech by my 7 year old daughter.

It’s amazing what we expect from tech. For those that grew up without it being around it’s all wonder. For my generation that witnessed the start we expect a lot but build in our limitations. For those now growing up with it like my daughter ‘They just expect it to work’ as a colleague said.

I love tech and where its going. I would like to look at tech every day with the eyes of the best from the generations. The wonder at this weird science so I don’t take it for granted, the understanding of the limitations so I am not foolish in it’s use but I want the expectation of my daughter that it will just work when we try things as then the possibilities are endless…….