What’s this about?
This is the UK website for Peter and Maureen Scargill. We live in the Northeast of England and also Andalusia in Spain.

Read through the blog entries, menu-accessible pages and archives if you're interested! Welcome to Peter and Maureen's website.

Get in touch via Facebook My Facebook Page
You should follow me on Twitter Follow me on Twitter
Join my LinkedIn network Join my network

Pete's Online CV

Archive for the ‘iphone’ Category

Video for Skype and iPhone

I never thought I’d see the day, but Skype have video running on the iPhone and iPad. Not much fun for Android or Windows Phone users but for Apples fans – a great day…

Head on over to Scargill’s iPad site for more info.

http://ipad.scargill.net/2010/12/30/skype-video-on-iphone-and-ipadat-last/

iPad Killers?

We keep hearing about Android tablets  – what do we see in the shops or on the web that’s actually for SALE? A solitary Galaxy Tab which is selling well but is a bit on the small side and hardly “thin” – and that’s about it – other tablets are either still in the works, still using older versions of Android – or recalled. Meanwhile the iPad has it’s new operating system upgrade, new Apps updates and now there is Apple TV -  which means that thanks to the REMOTE app, you can now use your iPad or even iPhone to control your TV, browse your music selection, make playlists and more.

I can’t think of a better gimmick for parties right now than to appear armed with wireless iPad and offer to let guests make their own music selections.  It all works and the Apple TV product is cheap.

Chances of getting compatible software on an Android device in the near future? I don’t think so.. all we need now is for SKYPE and APPLE to get their act together and put Skype video on the iPhone 4.

 

Discover the magic of Northumberland–make Hollyberry Cottage your holiday destination.

Peter Scargill

One of Those Days

I thought yesterday was bad enough… the twin car batteries I use for handling mains drop-outs here in Wark had been acting up for some time and I’d been getting unexplained drop-outs where our broadband router would just drop out for no reason – but it wasn’t until yesterday I put it all together – the batteries were dry as a BONE. I’ve refilled them but I’m thinking it may be too late for them. But today has been FAR more interesting.

It certainly has been one of those days. The Merc collapsed last night – front legs gave up altogether. Maureen woke me up to announce that it was sitting on the front driveway with the front wheels buried in the wheel arches. Merc in their usual “make a mountain out of a molehill” manner managed to come up with a bill of around a grand to fix this. Can you imagine… you could buy a brand new motor scooter in Carrefour for that amount of money.

tmp6C97Fortunately they’ve come up with a loaner – I say fortunate as I have 3 days of meetings ahead of me and I desperately need a car. I’m sitting here late at night writing because I was just enjoying a superb episode of FRINGE on Sky (if you’ve not watched this excellent sci-fi, you are missing out) and I noted some upgrades for the iPad (not, sadly the eagerly awaited 4.2 operating system upgrade which is now looking like Friday depending on who’s rumour-mill you read) but an upgrade for a long-forgotten program called SharePlus.  If you’re familiar with office systems, I’ll just say that this seamlessly handles SharePoint – no matter what kind of authentication you use. I’ll leave it at that as this is not really a technical blog.

So an expensive start but at least an interesting end. And now I think a book. I’m trying to see if the iPad will really work for reading books so I have one of the few Arthur C Clarke books I’ve not yet read ready and waiting. Now here’s the trick… had I bought a Kindle – I’d have been stuffed because Maureen is already asleep and turning the light on is not an option. Stanza on the iPad on the other hand is backlit and a simple slide of the finger turns the brilliance up and down – a soft glow is all I need to read with (practiced as a kid, my mother always wanted my light turned off so I must’ve read thousands of DC comics by streetlight).

I’ve been getting to grips with Apple TV having bought one of their miraculous new black units this week. Essentially you plug the black box into your TV and Bob’s your uncle – streaming videos for rent, streaming video, sound and pictures from any of your PCs which have iTunes on them and from this weekend, fingers crosses, streaming directly from your iPod/iPhone/iPad to the TV… I can’t wait. May as well relax how, I have 3 very busy days ahead – and at the weekend it’s upgrade time for the gadgets. Add the Apps called StreamToMe into the mix which lets me watch my PC-based movies etc. on the iPhone or iPad… and I’m just about all set… been trying to get a setup like this for years with the PC and never quite made it. Marvellous.

(Update – car’s all sorted…. can’t use Apple TV until Apple get their finger out with the iOS 4.2 updates.

Technorati Tags: ,

Fancy a break in Northumberland – then check out Hollyberry Cottage Holiday rental in Northumberland

Panoramas and How It’s Done!

Not as simple as it might seem, creating Panoramas and embedding them in a website – but I think I’ve cracked it.. been playing with this idea for years and finally have a working solution.

Firstly – you need something to make panoramas with.
On the iPhone there is 360 Panorama which is very good and so far, the best of the lot – but beware it’s not that clever in poor lighting. An alternative is to take several overlapping photos preferably with a decent camera and “stitch” them together. The problem with that is that there’s lots of software out there to do this but most of it is absolute rubbish, utterly failing to match light levels between pictures. An exception would be Serif’s PanoramaPlus – which is superb. I user version 3 but I see they’ve just brought out a new version. It works in Windows 7 and below, it works exceptionally well and it’s cheap. It really is very, very good. Sadly when it comes to playback – they only support Quicktime – which is hardly universal – but read on.

Secondly – you need to display the panorama
Ok, so you now have your panorama… what are you going to do with it – much of the software out there is jerky or otherwise rubbishy – other stuff costs a lot of money just to put a panorama on your website. Flickr and Google Web Albums are a godsend for images – and so CLEVR seems to be the same for panoramas. Simply upload your spiffy new panorama to the CLEVR site – embed the code in your website – and BOBS YOUR UNCLE!

Do YOU need an iPAD?

A lot hot air is circulating about the iPad, often by folks who have never laid eyes on the machine never mind made extensive hand-on use of them. I’ve seen reviews talking about reliability, about it being unsuitable for business… the list goes on – and mostly from those lacking any experience of the product.

Why listen to me? well firstly you need to know I would not touch a MAC with a bargepole so don’t peg me as an anti-Microsoft type. When the iPAD was released in the USA I had one shipped across almost immediately, despite lack of iTunes support in the UK. It looked ideal for reading agendas and other company paperwork, being the first supposedly long-life battery, thin almost A4 pad on the market… and I wasn’t prepared to take the word of others… I wanted to see for myself if this was going to be useful to see if there was a future for reducing or eliminating paperwork.  So, here it is, based on daily use of the iPad since its launch in the USA (and by that I mean used almost every day since then, sometimes all day), here is some information which may be of use to those of you thinking of using the iPad in a business environment.

Firstly the issue of WIFI. The only issue I am aware of is that the iPad occasionally forgets the login password and does not seem to track the best signal if you move from signal area to signal area within a building. It is a minor issue, does not really cause me any problems and the assurance is that this will be fixed. I can see no reason to doubt this as it’s little sister the iPhone does not suffer the same issue. 

Secondly business use – you hear “It’s all games” – no it isn’t – though some of the games are excellent – no doubt about it but with 200,000 apps you’d expect a lot of games.  I have asked our head office who normally send me reams and reams of paper to simply stop – and all my papers now go onto the company extranet  (Sharepoint).  I receive automatic email notification of the availability of documents and as long as I’m within range of a WIFI signal I can download using the likes of the GoodReader program (a bargain at 59p) and store the docs locally on the iPad. The largest document I’ve had the pleasure of using was 95 megabytes comprising over 400 pages of scanned documents – just about the worse combination…. No problem. I also use another package which cost peanuts to let me scribble on PDFs and open multiple documents at once.

Thirdly multitasking – after extensive use I have to say I do not miss the ability to do umpteen jobs at once – the ONE thing I’d like is to run SKYPE constantly in the background – and that of course will come in the autumn update. Most programs start up where they left off so they may as well be multitasking – but without the overhead.

“They say” iPad is not compatible with Microsoft… rubbish – I regularly open the latest DOCX files from Office 2007 as well as spread-sheets and other documents. At least one program can SAVE in these formats.

Specifically for use in meetings, the (realistically achieved) 10 hour battery life (including watching video) makes it possible to do an all-day meeting without a cable in sight. Those who lug around heavy bags full of laptops, power supplies and endless paperwork look on with envy. Armed with properly bookmarked PDF files I can view and search through large documents more quickly than with paper.

What about FLASH – well, I’d MUCH prefer if the iPad could handle flash, but not at any price and Flash does tend to be jerky on mobiles… considering that YouTube, Blip and others now offer iPad compatibility and even the BBC iPlayer is now iPad compatible, it hopefully won’t be long before that issue goes out of the window. You can watch a good number of the freeview channels including BBC News 24, for free on the iPad given a free program to do so, not to mention most radio stations.

When in Spain, as they say… I have a (small) place in Spain and last week I was other there. The iPad can’t handle dongles but I have a 3G dongle and I simply put the Sim into a phone which has WIFI and using a cheap program made the phone look like a WIFI access point – others may prefer to get the 3G version of the iPad itself  – as I already have a phone I didn’t fancy 2 subscriptions and annoying Apple won’t let you tether an iPhone to an iPad.   Skype and GotoMeeting work well – saving a fortune in calls when overseas as long as there is WIFI available. Emails using Microsoft Exchange, Google mail and others work absolutely fine as indeed do Exchange calendars and contacts. For streaming podcasts, I generally keep them on my PC and use STREAMTOME to listen to them on the iPAD (saves filling it up with audio and video).

Do I have any issues with the product? Of course I do – why on EARTH didn’t Apple put a forward-facing camera in for Skype etc. But them the iPhone 4 has that… Also being able to read memory sticks would have been nice but why not go the whole hog and put in Windows? Erm, no! The fact is that Apple have a great niche product on their hands which is, if you believe the hype selling very well thank you. Almost everyone I know who I’ve shown it to in business and otherwise wants one – I should have been a salesman but I’m NOT.

Of course, if something else comes along that’s better and cheaper I‘m a ruthless consumer with no brand loyalty… but from what I’ve seen, hands on reviews of what would appear to be alternatives have fallen apart due to poor video or other issues. For now, Apple are onto a winner – their shares don’t look too bad either (I don’t have any of those either).

Finally a Decent Media Centre

Amplifier, Sky box and laptop as media centreI’ve been playing around with media centres for years… I’ve always kept my music, pictures and more recently videos on the the computer and was using this for providing music to our parties LONG before the idea hit the general public.

We used to have a TIVO – marvellous device, let you record video onto it then via a Linux network you could offload to your PC – of course the Americans took Tivo to the next level while we went Media Centre showing music selectiondown the crappy SKY route  – which is STILL crappy – despite having a network connector and even USB – none of which have ever been pressed into service because Sky are control freaks, you can’t offload video and you can’t even KEEP videos for more than a few days in the case of some of the premium stuff – and their player – well, compared to the iPlayer there IS no comparison – I’ve always wanted a PC version of TIVO but improved to cover the rest of my media including my music, photos and of COURSE Shoutcast radio… what other radio is there?  Well, as the original Microsoft Media Centre was SO BAD I tried everything going Media Centre playing musicincluding the excellent  I’ve tried all manner of media centres including the excellent MEDIAPORTAL but this weekend I sat down with new hardware and Windows 7, determined to install the latest Mediaportal – and to be honest, they’ve really not moved on at all, I found it bombed out at times and was just not very good..

So I took the plunge, revisited Microsoft’s Media Centre for Windows 7 – and then went looking for plug-ins. I’m pleased to report that it all works a TREAT and given Shoutcast and Weather plug-ins – it’s also MARVELOUS.  Add to that the free TVERSITY Media Centre displaying Shoutcast stationsand AIR VIDEO programs so I can access my media when on the road on the mobile phone… and what I now have is a very nice setup!

If anyone is interesting in the same facilities, drop me a line with any questions. I’ve wasted a lot of time getting here and I’m happy to advise others to save them wasting the same amount of time… if ONLY the MUSIC 2 people hadn’t retracted their iPhone product…

 

There’s an APP for that!

Nokia 9000Way back in 1996 I purchased the first Nokia “Smartphone” – the Nokia 9000, a great big brick of a phone with a horrible black and white display –  at the time this was rocket science, exciting and ultimately a little useless. Once I got over the shock of realising that my home in Newcastle was in a dip and there was no chance of an Orange signal, I began an ongoing relationship with smart phones that continues to this day.

Orange SPVAround 2002, Orange released details of it’s first Microsoft-based Smartphone, the SPV and I started encouraging others to use this – disaster – the main button dropped off after a while and the operating system and applications needed regular rebooting. This then was the start of a long climb to find the perfect phone. I’ve been using Microsoft mobile phones from the earliest models onwards, every day, 365 days a year. I never keep a phone for more than a year and at times I’ve had two.

I’ve also used Nokias and for a brief moment Blackberry… and I’ve written simple programs for them. I use Microsoft Exchange (which for me is an essential part of my working life) and I make heavy use of shared calendars at work. I’ve had several of them in bits experimenting with aerials and I’m not afraid to try upgrading – XDA developers group being one of my favourite haunts.

So I think I know a little about mobile phones.

The original Pocket PC phone offerings from the likes of HTC and their predecessors didn’t work – it’s as simple as that. Between operating system crashes and poor quality mechanics, they were a disaster. I committed myself to supplying these to our organisation and regretted every minute of it initially…  but I stuck with it, after all, Microsoft were improving their operating systems after disasters like Windows ME… and XP was coming along just nicely – it was logical to expect the phone software would improve.

New HTCAnd indeed it did. Today we have a combination of reliable hardware and powerful software in the likes of the HTC Touch II, a horrendously expensive but beautiful phone which is solid in construction and reliable. Of course NO-ONE has yet cracked the short battery life problem – essentially if you have a bright, pretty colour display you’re going to get a day or two max out of your battery no matter who’s phone it is. The new HTCs have it all, glamour, reliability and solid applications.  So why have I just bought an i-Phone?

Firstly I should clarify – I’m a Windows man – I think Windows 7 is wonderful, especially the new 64-bit version… but I’m beginning to wonder if Microsoft should have stuck to desktops as they clearly don’t have the time to devote to the phone market. They were out long before the iPhone and have massive marketing budgets combined with some of the best developers – and yet the i-Phone has a higher market share and most importantly, has APPS.

Microsoft have of course jumped on the bandwagon with their APP store – which is frankly pathetic – maybe a couple of hundred applications few of which are exciting and some of which are very expensive. Meanwhile back at iTunes, the app store has untold THOUSANDS of apps, many free, many a few pence, few more than a couple of quid. Visiting the app store brings on a Christmas-like feeling and an urge to download anything that moves… which I just did.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all going smoothly – NOTHING involving Orange ever goes smoothly. The phone is all working except for the SIM and NOW they’ve decided they should not have sold me this as there is no signal near my home – I’ve been telling Orange that for 10 years!!!  I’m off now to a hill to battle it out with them – hopefully my old SIM will keep working for a while.

But what about the phone? The iPhone itself is nothing remarkable – it’s how it is used that is remarkable. The phone has the now mandatory Bluetooth, wifi and GPS hardware and like the HTCs it also has position-sensing hardware – unlike most of the others in addition it also has a compass.  It is the COMBINATION of these used with very clever “apps” that sets the iPhone apart from the others – that and very smooth operation that just seems “natural”. Battery life is unremarkable but then the phone is THIN and that counts for a lot.

Ever noticed that graphics in Windows-based applications are rarely “smooth” – they tend to jump around – and that applies as much in the mobile world as elsewhere. Well, that simply does not happen on the iPhone – not only to the apps seem “smooth” but the multi-touch facility is not just a bolt-on – it is used very effectively in many apps – it just “feels right”.  From opening the box to installing apps I never once felt a need to read ANY instructions – and I think that about sums up my feelings about the phone up to now. A shame the same can’t be said about the PC-based iTunes program – at least the Windows 64-bit edition – which crashes on occasion and it IS essential.

At this point it’s probably easiest to tell you about specific applications. The very first thing I did on opening the box was to setup my Google and Exchange accounts – and I have to say that went very smoothly. If you want ALL the features of your Outlook setup – such as NOTES – you still need to sync via USB – as Exchange does not sync notes – but then that’s common to the other phones. So the mail, calendar and notes work as you’d expect – but I have to say they seem faster and more intuitive than I’m used to – I could see how someone might manage with nothing more than the iPhone, leaving the laptop back home.

You may wonder why my iPhone apps on the home page are not all standard. Well, for one thing, I could care two hoots about STOCKS but standard apps don’t at first glance seem amenable to deleting. Add to that the fact that  this meant that contacts was on the second page – stocks had to go! Once I got used to moving things around, the rest followed automatically.

Here are my current screens, mostly APPS which I’ve purchased (some free). What’s the best? Well, for me, FILEMAGNET is the best so far, an easy way to load WORD docs and PDFs from my PC to the iPhone – and read them. Only issue so far is that the 2-finger scaling doesn’t seem to work on WORD docs. The most expensive item is LOGMEIN – which is just superb- usable access to remote PCs on the one – the most fun item is probably the SKY controller which lets me set up recordings on our SKY HD box – from the phone – no matter where I am – marvelous.

imageimageimage

imageimage

So… don’t all these APPS take up a lot of space? I made the decision to go for the smaller of the two iPhones, the 16gig model as I’m not fanatical about movies and music, happy to keep just a working selection available at any one time. Here’s the current status of memory:

tmp6A36

As you can see I’ve not made a dent and that’s including several hundred tunes and a few podcasts. My only concrete plans for now include installing Tom-tom but that doesn’t even take up a couple of Gigabytes so I’m well placed for future expansion – just as well with a 2-year contract in place.

Later today my MILO charging cradle should arrive – I’ll let you know how it goes…

Want to view my blog on your iPhone? – Go ahead – same address – it’s compatible!