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Archive for May, 2010

The UK Launch of the iPad

Here it is – latest update on the iPad, launched today in the UK

iPAD is Here

You’ll be aware of the UK launch of the Apple iPAD TODAY, no doubt if you saw the news last night you’ll have heard that the unit is available from today and that they’ve sold a million in the states.

Poor old Beeb, that’s ancient news and a quick look on the web will add at least 50% to that figure! Also they won’t have enough units to keep up with demand so expect delays! If you’re planning a trip to the Apple store I’d ring first! There are 6 models broken into two sets, the first set of 16gig, 32 gig and 64 gig have WIFI and motion sensing only, the second similar set add 3g and GPS into the mix – and of course the cost rises accordingly. Prices will start at £429 (including VAT) for the perfectly capable 16Gig WIFI model.

Meanwhile the iTunes store is up and running, I have had the American version of the iPad since it’s launch over there and everything’s working a treat. If you want to keep up with the latest apps I suggest you take a look at AppShopper, a nicely laid out website that’s easy to use. It has both iPhone and iPad apps and you can select both or just iPad apps.

Apple’s PAGES Word Processor is now available (as of a few days ago) and you’ll be needing that if you want to do any word-processing on the unit.

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, remember, this isn’t a laptop, it won’t run Microsoft software! It runs only what you can get in the iTunes App store – but as they have countless thousands of Apps in there, some free, some a few pounds, you should find just about anything you need.

Some pros and cons for those of you looking at this miraculous unit for the first time:

The iPad+ Apps CAN:

  • View pictures, videos and play tunes
  • Read Word, Excel, PDF and many more document formats.
  • Read and write Emails.
  • Play games (but only the countless games in the App Store).
  • Talk to Bluetooth headsets and keyboards out-of-the-box.
  • View YouTube video
  • View the BBC iPlayer (new and VERY good quality !!)
  • Handle TV (tvcatchup) and radio (tunein radio)
  • Run Skype
  • Provide weather reports (the weather channel)
  • Search maps (google maps)
  • Control your Sky+ box (Sky+)
  • Share 3g/WIFI with many phones (Joikuspot on phone)
  • Record audio
  • Handle social networks (many Apps)
  • Run for up to 10 hours without mains power
  • Emulate iPod

The iPad CAN’T:

  • Let you access all it’s memory like a disk. Memory is split up into application spaces and of course the place you store your videos, pictures and music. I’ve found no way to “see” this as a single disk drive.
  • Run Microsoft software. It is not a laptop.
  • Handle USB disks and cameras directly.
  • Run FLASH video (though YouTube and iPhone are supported – see CAN).
  • Run WiFi super-reliably (sure it runs WIFI but it breaks occasionally – soon to be fixed)
  • Share WIFI with your iPhone (deliberate and stupid move)
  • Take pictures or video (no camera)

I hope this information helps you make a decision. Am I happy I bought an iPad?  Most definitely YES. Would I pay the extra for the 3G version? No. Am I happy with 32Gig? Can’t even start to fill it up so the base model will do for many people. Music and video lovers with massive collections may opt for the larger models.

Peter Scargill

To order these units online I BELIEVE you go here http://store.apple.com/uk

p.s. If you want to know more about using the iPad, for example with a 3G dongle – see my other articles….

Comparing Android and the iPhone/iPad operating system

Using the iPad with a separate 3G source like an iPhone, MS Smartphone or dongle SIM

The Miracle of Life – The Venter Way

Most people by now will be aware of the somewhat subdued British press reaction to J. Craig Venter’s team’s creation of the first self-replicating cell designed by computer. The BBC made some silly references to the hand of god and otherwise really didn’t do the subject justice.

Is this some mad-scientist tinkering or the real thing? Well most folk will never know as any in-depth conversation on the subject is too dry for public consumption and so your average Sun reader will no doubt continue to think that Venter sits there with a vial of chemicals doctoring cells.

All I can offer is the suggestion that you take a look at the TED video on this subject… this is FAR from mad-scientist stuff. Venter’s team understand so much at this point that rather than making a simple modification, their computer-designed DNA actually contains not only enough information to affect the design of the cell, but while allowing the cell to be viable, they’ve managed to ensure that the DNA of each replicated cell not only contained coded information on the names of the design team but they also have three QUOTES in there!!! Talk about proving the point!!!

Those of you who watched BLADE RUNNER will remember the artificial snake who’s skin sample contained a manufacturing number. Well, Venter and his team are FAR, FAR away from doing anything like that in terms of a snake – but on the other hand the information they’ve implanted in the DNA is WAY ahead of a simple manufacturing number.

If you can stomach the technical babble this is well worth watching.

Weather Forecasting as accurate as Astrology

You have to wonder… the forecast yesterday was the same – with rain. It’s 28 degrees around Hexham and in Wark, 30 degrees in Newcastle –absolutely roasting with a slight cloud in the distance. There is NO WAY it’s going to be 9 degrees outside tonight – it was warm enough to be out at MIDNIGHT last night. They’d be better off getting up on the roof and forecasting from there as they do in Uganda.


First days of Summer

You just can’t beat a sunny day and a garden full of flowers…

Scargill's Garden

Wark in 3D

tmp9246While I have no doubt any locals will have already checked out Wark and surrounding places on Google Earth or Google Maps, I wonder if you’ve seen the place in 3D ??

No??? Well, pop along to Google maps (not Google Earth) – and lookup Galera….

Then under MORE – select “street view” – I had NO IDEA they’d been around with the cameras, you can go most of the way up to our place! Anyway, here we are in street view up our street. That’s pretty impressive – but it’s nothing compared to right-clicking the street view image and turning 3D on!!

I’ve just ordered a couple of pairs of red-blue specs from Ebay….. I can’t wait…

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Update 22/05/2010 – it wasn’t worth the wait – the 3D is AWFUL. Screwed above a certain height and generally just not very good. I’ll stick with the flat version which is excellent.


SKY and TESCOs – What a Shower

in December 2009 I bought a TV from Tescos, right at the end of a special offer that said something like "Get Sky HD and a TV from us and you get free installation and a £50 Tescos voucher".

At the time I wrote a blog about the issues I had getting this going, wrong telephone numbers on the offer, Sky employees who knew nothing about a Tesco deal etc. Well, eventually after many phone calls I got the installation – and all’s well… except, no Tesco voucher.

Now you may say that a Tesco voucher is no big deal, but put it this way, how would you feel if someone stole £50 cash from you.. it’s the same thing, it’s now MAY and I still don’t have the Tesco voucher. As we get our groceries there it’s half the week’s groceries!

I tried again at the Hexham store last week and the assistant eventually got very embarrassed about the fact she had to wait for ages on the phone to SKY only to get through to someone – who passed her onto another department – who in turn put her on hold got ages… EXACTLY what I had to go through with Sky…(I think it’s fair to say that by and large, call centres just DON’T work for customers). Eventually I had to leave, empty-handed. She was very helpful and took my number – but the end result was no result. Several days later I’ve had no call from her despite the promise!

I’ve now written off AGAIN to SKY to ask them where my voucher is…4 months and a week down the line. I received an email from SKY to say they had no TESCO £50 vouchers but they had a Marks and Spencer £50 voucher. Not the same thing I’m afraid so I wrote back to remind them that the Tesco’s voucher was part of the deal.

Apparently they’ve been on the phone to say they have TWO £25 Tescos vouchers on the way. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Don’t you get REALLY, REALLY sick of having to chase up large companies who promise perfection and can’t organise a brewery visit?

Update 22/5/2010 – the two vouchers did eventually turn up  – thanks to Sky, not Tescos – 5 months – not bad.