Friday, March 29, 2013

Review of Multiplayer for Minecraft PE

Here's a TV screen capture using an Apple TV, displaying the iPad via Airplay to a laptop broadcasting live on Youtube....

Complex setup, but you'll see the app in action

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Is Android becoming the new Windows?

Let's start by saying that I like Android, being a Linux user (Ubuntu) since the early days.

The general concept of Android is pretty cool and offers many features that I cannot find on my iPad or my iPhone. Nevertheless, I have that strange feeling of "déjà vu" when looking of an app, the same one I had when Windows was my main operating system...

I do use Google Play as my app repository. I've been exploring the Android app world a lot since I got my Nexus 7 and discovered many good apps. And also some really suspicious ones. That's where the "Windows-you-should-double-check" kicked in.

Without searching too much, you can find apps that seem legit only to find out that the app wants you to click on a link to use it. Some will install shortcuts to your home screen or change your home page in your browser. Some are simply a scam and do nothing of what they're advertising. I do read the ratings and do some research if I have a doubt. That old habit of being hijacked has come back every time I want to try some apps not coming from a major provider.

The sad thing is I may be missing a really good app made by some individual simply because it has been buried by crappy and suspicious apps trying to get your 1$ at all cost...

When a new app comes out, I wait for others to try it and look if there are bad reviews and see if it does what it is advertising, for real.

Trying a bad designed app is a natural part of the process, I don't mind. Having to deal with suspicious ones like I had to do with Windows is a pain and a bad experience.

I hope that Google will eventually be more strict with apps available in Google Play. Users will be happier with secured apps and individuals will have a better chance of having me buying their "one-of-a-kind" app.

Patrick Balleux

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

IT Support with a tablet: So cool!

At work, I need to do some IT tasks once in a while. The biggest concern is when I have to reboot the main server to apply some updates. This is an issue because I cannot do it on during business hours as it would require that I would have to stop all the users in their tasks while the server is rebooting.

A we all do it, I will connect remotely from home and execute the updates on the server in the evening when nobody is at the office. Nothing new here, business as usual.

With tablets (and smartphones), the evening tasks got a bit easier to execute. What I mean is that you can do it in less time compared to using a desktop or a laptop. It's not that a tablet is faster... The tablet is ready to go, all the time (unless you shut it down).

Of course, I could keep your laptop powered up all the time to get the same accessibility, but the reality is that I shutdown my laptop when I'm done. At home, I don't have a dedicated desk for my laptop. When I need to use it, I will set it up in the living room until I'm finished, shut it down and put it back in it's carrying case. I don't have enough space for a home office as all rooms are currently occupied by a member of the family.

Basically, if I need to access the server in the evening, I have to:
- get my laptop
- boot it up
- log into my user account
- wait a bit for Windows to be ready
- start the remote access software (LogMeIn)
- access the server
- do my tasks
- close the remote access software
- shutdown the laptop
- put the laptop back into it's carrying case.

The overall process can take easily 20 minutes without including the time for the task executed on the server.

With a tablet, an iPad in my case, things are different
- grab my iPad
- Start the remote access software (LogMeIn)
- access the server
- execute the tasks
- close the remote access software
- lock the iPad
- put it back where I grabbed it

The whole process can take 5 minutes (without task time) simply because:
- I don't have to find an outlet to plug my laptop
- I don't have to wait on the booting/login process
- I don't have to wait for the remote access software to start
- I don't have to handle power cords
- I don't have to wait on the shutdown process
- I don't have to put my tablet away, in a case, in another room

The laptop could be in sleep mode, in a locked session on a dedicated furniture to make the process faster. But even then, the iPad (or any mobile device) will take less time. With the iPad, I usually have it at hand if not using it for something else. I can put it away on the coffee table, on a shelf or beside my bed since it does not take space. And launching apps, whatever they are, only takes a few seconds. It's ready to work, all the time!

Why would I bother using a laptop when I can access my main server in a few seconds with my iPad? That the beauty of modern technology and its available right now!

Patrick Balleux

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Video editing: Cute CUT Review

Creating video content on the iPad is pretty easy when you have the right tools. There are a lot of video editing apps in the AppStore, but some are better than others. Cute CUT is a must have for any video producers using the iPad.
AppStore : Cute CUT

It is easy to use as iMovie but has the power of a PC video editor. For the price of 5.99$ (CA), it's a great deal!
As any video editor, you can manage your projects individually and export them to your camera roll, to Youtube and Facebook. Where Cute CUT really shines is the ability to combine video, music, audio, text and drawing with custom transitions.

Add your new tracks and start applying your effects with a few touches.

Text can be customized in almost any way: size, colour, border, position, rotation, etc... Name it, it should be there.
Any source is also customizable with position, opacity, rotation, resizing, trimming, etc... You can even do basic picture-in-picture using 2 video tracks.

One of the best feature of Cute CUT is the custom transitions that you can apply. You have as usual the fade-in/fade-out and other regular transitions. But you can apply your own custom transition by changing the position,rotation, opacity, audio level, and so on, at the start and at the end of a custom transition. By combining the available settings, you can have a really slick transition like zooming on a part of the video and fading out to the next one. Almost anything is possible.

With a those transitions applied, you can preview your masterpiece in real time without having to pre-render the project first.
It is really fast even if you have many tracks to render. Rendering time is almost equal to the project length. So for a 1 minute video, it will take around 1 minute to render the final result.
If you want to do video editing on your iPad, you need Cute CUT!
Patrick Balleux

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Uploading to Youtube with tablets

I was curious to compare video quality of movies recorded using my 3 tablets: a Nexus 7, a Blackberry Playbook and an iPad 4th gen.
Here are short recording in a low-light condition from my living room.
The light was a simple light bulb of 60 watts...

The Playbook

The Nexus 7

The iPad

Social mobility, here's the picture for tablets

Tablets are great tools in our everyday life. One of the big asset is to be able to reach our favourite social media network where ever we are with such devices as the Nexus 7, the iPad or the Playbook.

I just got curious as to what is available on each store for the "connected" ones...

Here's a screen capture of the Apple AppStore, Google Play and the Blackberry World for the Playbook:




Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google or LinkedIn are available for Apple and Google. That's a different story for Blackberry where only the official Facebook app is available and it looks like an old version. Other apps are basically launchers or third parties of bad quality... So if you think about being social on a Playbook, you'll have to rely on the web browser.

For the iPad and the Nexus 7, all that is required, is available. Apps have basically the same quality and the same features at 99% (Android Facebook lets you change your Cover picture for instance).

If you like mobiles apps, you won't be disappointed with the Nexus 7 or the iPad.

Patrick Balleux

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Recording with UStream...

I did a test of broadcasting with Ustream using my Nexus 7 while I was recording my other show "iPhone pour tous".

Overall it worked well even if the video quality is not that good.  Maybe the light was too dark...

Anyway, here's the recording of the recording on Youtube!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Religious technologicalus stupidus!

There's a French saying going like this: Où y a de l'homme, y a de l'hommerie! (Where there is man, you'll find human stupidity).

For the last ten years, I've been following comments on blogs as a bad rerun of "Dallas". It does not matter if the blog post is right or wrong, commenters eventually will fall in disgrace and pure religious fever...

I've always been curious about technology and found my best and hottest stuffs over the years. I can have been convincing and arrogant sometimes but never disgraceful when putting my mind on the table.

There seems to be a human trait, quite strong actually, to consider other's choice as bad if they are not like ours. Remember the Windows/Linux war that was raging as far as hundreds of comments on a post stating that one was better than the other one?

What is more intriguing is the energy used to explain how wrong the previous commenter is. The vast majority of time, the commenter is relying on a specific and unique personal experience or on some obscure stats found on the Internet.

We all know that stats tell a story and not facts. It's all in the way you consider the numbers. Personal experience can be too specific to be considered as a general behaviour of the subject. Personal taste may not be shared as much as we would think of.

When the comment contains the word:
- sheep
- moron
- stupid
- zealot
- noob
- fan[Product Name]
- Get your facts straight
- suck

You know the list already... The thread has lost complete control and is not even rational about the subject.

I have to say that in all those blogs and forums, I've found at least one that moderators did a really good job to keep some rationality in the threads: One of the rare space where ranting is not allowed. The Ubuntu forum is also well maintained and keeps a good quality in their posts.

If you feel the urge to prove that you are right, there maybe another reason than the fact that you are right:
- that's the only thing you know
- you're too stubborn to admit that the other one has a valid point
- you spent too much money and feel guilty about it
- you are not qualified enough and don't know how to make it work
- you think that everybody on the whole planet shares your point of view and tastes
- you need to be recognized

There is no pride in owning. You go to the store and buy it, that's it. The choice was yours and yours only, be it good or bad.

Sharing how you like it, how you use it or why this one is more suited to your needs is something worth sharing. Shouting to the whole world and you are the king will only make you look like a "Religious Technologicalus Stupidus"...

Meep! Meep!

Patrick Balleux

Monday, March 4, 2013

Are we losing it?

Tablets, smartphones, phablets, smartwatches...  Where are we going with all these new devices when we already had desktops and laptops?

To a better world, I'm certain of that.

We now live in a connected world and the mega-information-sphere is a reality that we cannot ignore.  Most communications are now thru social medias and thru small devices.  Forget about the landline phone and to some extend, visiting your in person the intended listener.  What we need is now, here and up-to-date...

For sure, maybe we are loosing our humanity, as we probably did with cars, televisions, fridges and brick houses.  We are now living, in a live-broadcast, a technological evolution.

Not so long ago, to use the power of computers, we had to sit at a desk, overcrowded with a monitor, a printer, a scanner, a mouse...  You get the picture...

Mobile devices are changing the way we use technology on multiple levels.  We can chat while waiting in line.  We can instantly report an accident on the road to everybody around the world.  We can discuss in realtime about the elections.  We can work on the couch, watch a movie in the bathroom, play a game at the pub.  And all of this on a single device... 

There are no more geographical boundaries to write your analysis.  Distance does not apply for a meeting across the country.  It's here, now, as I like!

We will find new ways to read, write, create, share.  It just the beginning.  Remember the time you were confined to your desk, at school or the office?  Remember having to wait for a report or a confirmation sent by mail?  Remember having to bring back the movie to the video store?

And why not have dedicated devices for multiple purposes?  One for work, one for personal stuff, one that you can carry in your pocket.  Bring them together and you have a multi-display computer that can do so much more.  No more lagging because you're rendering a movie while you are working on your essay.

In a not so far future, desktops and laptops will be a thing of the past.  No more cables lying around, no more cluttered space on your desk, no more paper to print to show your report...

Keyboard and mouse will probably survive for a while, at least the keyboard...  The mouse is unintuitive when you think about it... 

Are we loosing our humanity?  Maybe not since we are now able to get out of the office, share instantly our feeling and show the world that magnificent sunset we are looking at...

A better world, for sure...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Having the right tools

As a sequel to the previous post Don't go cheap, you have to get the right tool for the right job.

When working on a project, you need a good computer, genuine versions of the softwares and most importantly, a good chair...

It does not seem much to think about, but if you have to be on that chair for several hours a day, you better get a good, comfortable one.

Working with computers and softwares goes beyond processing power, memory usage and disk space left.  Your mind may be working extra hours, but your body is also on the same train.

So having a good chair is the most basic requirement as a work tools when you're a making softwares.  Have a look around, a good chair can be found for about 150$ at Staples...  In an investment in your quality of life and in your physical health.