Without a doubt, the Children’s Discovery Center is one of the best indoor playgrounds in Toronto. With its many different themed rooms, it is quite similar to, (but somewhat better than) Playtown Indoor Playground in Mississauga. It has several ‘Discovery Zones’ (campground, mini city, art room, music room, pet vet, eat street kitchen, pet café, story room etc.) for the kids to play in. We’ve been there twice and both times our kids had a blast.
However, it comes at a cost. Not only does it cost $13 per child, with no discounts for siblings, they also charge $13 per adult!. The only other indoor ‘playgrounds’ that I know of that charge adult admission is LEGOLAND and the Ontario Science Centre indoor playground.
For years iOS has had a ‘system-wide’ font size option that allows you to set a font size of choice. Apps that support it will use the larger font size. Of course virtually no apps ever did support it and my aging eyes have been yearning for the larger screen Android’s out there.
I have had iOS 7 since August but didn’t know about its ‘new’ Dynamic Type option until today. Many apps have updates to be compatible with iOS 7. Flipboard recently included a feature that allowed the user to set a preferred font (Yay! Made it usable). Well, when Flipboard updated itself, it popped up a message that said “We see that you had set a font preference, from now on we will be using your system wide Dynamic Type preference”. Say what? I kinda ignored this until I noticed that my AnyList app (best grocery list app out there by the way) does the same thing. It now supports the system wide Dynamic Type choice. So, I looked it up in settings. In the past iOS gave you a choice of, maybe 6 or 7 font sizes – but, again, the only apps that ever supported that were email and messaging. The new Dynamic Type setting (see image) gives you a much broader array of font sizes to choose from. So, I set it to quite large. Continue reading “Best iOS 7 Enhhancement – DYNAMIC TYPE”
I’m delighted to announce that the Apple App Store accepted my first iPhone app, Fine Tip – Tip Calculator, on my first try. You can use Fine Tip to quickly calculate your next restaurant bill’s tip and grand total. It’s fast and easy to use. Take a look at the demo/tutorial:
Fine Tip, Tip Calculator Tutorial
Fast, Elegant, Accurate, Full-Featured, Yet Easy to Use
All Controls on One Screen
Calculate Tip Based on Subtotal or Total: Calculate the appropriate tip on either the pre-tax subtotal amount (shown in image on right) or the after tax bill total.
Easily Adjust Tip Amount: As you slide the ‘Tip %’ slider up and down, the tip and grand total amounts adjust on the fly.
Round the Tip: Make it easy for the server to receive their tip. Use the + / – buttons to successively round the tip amount up or down in 25 cent increments (eg: to $12,00, $12.25, $12.50 etc.). The grand total (Total + Tip) amount and effective tip rate indicator adjust on the fly.
Round the Grand Total: Alternatively round the grand total (Total + Tip) amount up or down in 25 cent increments. In the example to the right, down to $100.00 even or, say, up to $101.00 even). The tip amount and effective tip rate indicator adjust on the fly.
Split the Bill: Use the ‘Split’ slider to split the bill between multiple parties and the applicable per person tip and grand total (Total + Tip) amounts will be shown.
Personalized Multi-party Tipping: Pass Fine Tip around to other people in your party so they can bump their personal tip or grand total amounts up or down as they choose.
Years have passed with no significant changes made to the podcast functionality built into the iTunes (now Music) app. As a daily consumer of podcasts, I had high hopes for Apple’s newly released (June 26, 2012) ‘Podcasts’ app.
While some improvements were made – namely the ability to directly subscribe to podcasts from within the app – for several reasons, I will remain loyal to Downcast:
Direct Updates, But No Wi-Fi-Only Updates: The most important new feature of Apple’s new ‘Podcasts’ app is its ability to directly subscribe to podcasts from within the app without the need to physically connect the iPhone/iPod to a computer. Inexplicably, Apple provides no setting to limit such updates when connected to Wi-Fi only. Without this feature, Podcasts users will quickly see their monthly bandwidth allotments eaten up by podcasts downloads. This is a major fail!
30 Second Skip & Instant Replay, But No Ear-bud Control: Finally Apple built-in the ability to skip forward 30 seconds. Instant replay has been built-in for years. But, surprisingly, you cannot trigger this functionality with the ear-bud controls. I listen to hours of podcasts every day through my ear-buds. While walking dogs, carrying a baby or out in the winter, I do not want to have to reach into my pockets every few minutes to skip forward or rewind a podcast. And there is no Siri control of podcast playback either. Grrr!
Because I used Windows Live Mesh in the past (or maybe because I tested out Skydrive in the past, I don’t know), I was eligible for the free upgrade. Without this free upgrade I probably wouldn’t have used either Google Drive or SkyDrive because their free storage options (5GB and 7GB respectively) were not quite large enough to contain all the contents of my pictures (7.5GB) and key files (2.5GB) directories.
While I was an enthusiastic early user of Dropbox, I prefer SkyDrive over the new Google Drive and DropBox primarily because I can sync any number of disparate existing folders from my PC. Google Drive and Dropbox limit your sharing to only one dedicated folder.
[Update: After reading the Paul Thurrott piece listed below, I discovered that, unlike Live Mesh before it, Sky Drive does not yet allow you to sync multiple disparate folders . It appears to have the same dedicated folder limitation that Google Drive and Dropbox have. Alas, while I’m happy to have the 25GB upgrade, it won’t be used until I can use SkyDrive to sync multiple folders.]
There is a known video rotation issue when importing videos into Windows 7 that were taken in landscape mode with the iPhone 4 and 4S . In Windows, iPhone videos will be upside down if, when you took them, you held the iPhone horizontally with the recording on/off controls at the top. Turns out that if you want your video to be right-side-up when importing them to the PC you will need to hold the iPhone upside down when taking the video.
Also, all videos taken in portrait mode on the iPhone will appear sideways when imported onto the PC. There is no way to take portrait videos on the iPhone 4 and 4S without them appearing sideways on the PC.
In the video below I show you how to use the terrific free ‘Freemake Video Converter’ app to solve this problem by rotating your imported videos to the proper orientation.
There is a known Windows 7 rotation issue with portrait photos taken with the iPhone 4 and 4S. Unlike with the 3G or 3GS, photos taken in portrait mode on the iPhone 4 and 4S do not auto-rotate when imported in to Windows 7. This is the case: (i) whether you sync your photos via iCloud; or (ii) whether you physically import them via USB; even when you explicitly set the Windows import utility to auto-rotate them on import. The issue is being discussed here, here , here and here on the Apple support forums and here on the Microsoft support forum.
To make matters worse, a good portion of these photos end up locked in such a way that you cannot subsequently rotate them with the various photo rotate tools built in to Windows 7 (see error message in the image above).
As part of my ongoing move to a ‘ paperless’ office, I purchased a Doxie scanner. It’s small, easy to use and does exactly what I need – scan to an app or the cloud.
The key benefit of this scanner is that I can scan into any app that accepts images or documents. Most importantly for me, it scans directly into Evernote. I’m finally able to ‘easily’ get rid of any number of rag-tag pieces of paper that collect with odds and sods of information.
I have a Brother copier, printer, scanner but its too difficult to use. To scan documents on it I have to, place it in the scanner, close the lid, press a whole bunch of buttons, open the archaic Brother ‘Control Center 3’ software, scan in the document (at a glacial speed) where it store the document somewhere on my computer. From there I have to find it, sort it, open it and do something with it.
With the Doxie, on the other hand, I just place the paper in the scanner, press the Doxie button, it scans (faster than the Brother) then it asks where I want to send it (to Evernote, Flicker, Paint.net, Google Apps, most any app on my PC) and then it sends it to where I want it stored/used. It’s so much easier. There is no file where the document/image is stored on my PC unless I want it.
The only issue I have with it is that I still have not found a way to scan directly into OneNote. For now I scan into Paint.net, then copy it over to OneNote.
Bottom Line, it’s fast, easy, and exactly what I need.
As my friends know, I’m a Charlie Rose fan (witness this earlier Charlie Rose post) and a U.S. political junkie. Over the last 15 years, with TiVo at the ready, I have rarely missed an episode.
I’m also an admirer of the Pulitzer price winning, George Will, a level-headed, conservative-leaning, syndicated Washington Post columnist that appears weekly on the ABC Sunday morning news show This Week. While an ‘admirer’, I often (perhaps, usually) disagree with him. George can fairly be characterized as both a thoughtful and principled Republican pundit. I, on the other hand, would characterize myself as a centrist – a fiscal conservative and social liberal. If I could vote in U.S. elections, I would be an Independent.
On August 9, 2011, Charlie Rose interviewed George Will for the hour (you can watch the full interview here – click on the image of George on that page to start the video). George happily states that he’s a proud Madisonian – the fundamental characteristic of which is the notion that the U.S. Constitution imposes ‘a government full of blocking mechanisms’ that make it extremely difficult (usually taking a lot of time) for things to change – including for progress to be had and fundamental justice to be realized.
This is one area where I profoundly diverge from George – the belief that this is necessarily or always a ‘good’ thing. At the 18:34 mark in the interview, George states:
“I can think of nothing that the American people have wanted intensely and protractedly that they did not get. The system works!”
Before I purchased my Nexus S, I was sure that I had heard/read somewhere that it can natively (ie: without rooting the device) provide mobile hotspot tethering to other devices – ie: set it up so that other devices, like my laptop, iPod Touch or iPad, can connect to it as a hotspot, to share my Rogers 3G data account with all my non-3G, Wi-Fi enable devices.
When I purchased the Nexus S at the local Rogers store a couple weeks ago the sales people assured me that this was not possible –that I’d have to pay Rogers a separate, extra $5 fee each month to turn tethering on. Turns out the Rogers guys were wrong – at least in the case of the Nexus S. No doubt this is true for all other non-Nexus branded Android devices. I bought the Nexus S primarily because it is a stock Google Android phone with no carrier-futzing limiting what it can do.
Despite being told it wouldn’t work, I got around to testing it out today. I set up a portable hotspot on my Nexus S called ‘Dale’s Android Hotspot’ – see instructions below. I turned on my iPad, opened the Wi-Fi settings and, voila, it saw the ‘Dale’s Android Hotspot’ (see image on the right). I typed in the password, fired up mobile Safari, and had full Internet access through my Nexus S hot-spot. Email worked too. Wonderful!
This means that when I’m out and about with my laptop or iPad, I can access the Internet from anywhere I can get 3G access (subject, of course, to Rogers wireless data caps and overage fees). Heck, I can even use this hotspot to connect my now SIM-less iPhone 3GS to the Internet.
I’m very happy about this. I’m love’n my Nexus S more and more every day!!
Because there is no Hulu in Canada, in the past I have written about various, albeit limited, online TV streaming resources available to Canadians (see, for example here and here).
Today I received an email from Seppo Sahrakorpi of Pilvi Computing announcing his new ‘Streaming Guide’ which links to all the disparate TV streaming offerings available to Canadians. I tested it and it works well. The interface is rather sparse, yet simple and effective. It’s a simple alphabetical list of all TV shows that can be watched online in Canada. You can sort by various genres.
While this worked well on my PC, unfortunately, owing to the iPad’s lack of support for Flash, I couldn’t get any of the shows I tested to work on my iPad.
Putting this together must have been an awful lot of work. What’s more, to keep it up-to-date, will require a herculean ongoing effort. Let’s hope Seppo is up to the task! Thanks for all the hard work Seppo.
NOTE:Last I tested it, Hotspot shield still allowed Canadians full access to Hulu.
This week, Netflix launched its long awaited and much coveted Netflix Canada service. Unfortunately, the content selection cupboard is mostly bare.
The limited offerings (and lack of DVD service) explains the $7.99 Cdn per month price. The minimum monthly fee that Americans pay for their Netflix service is $9.95 U.S.. For that they get a DVD-by-mail service and a substantially broader array of on-demand offerings.
There are only 18 TV series available at launch, with Heroes seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 constituting four of the 18. Mad Men seasons 1, 2 and 3, but not any of the current Season 4, make up another three of the 18. Several of the available TV series I’ve never heard of (Hoarders, Paranormal State, The Boondocks, Drop Dead Diva?). Aside from Heroes and Mad Men, there are no other past or present broadcast or cable network prime-time hit TV series available at all.
Happily, the service is not chock-a-bloc full of the made-in-Canada TV content that riddle the Canadian versions of the Apple TV & Xbox 360 on-demand services. In fact, there isn’t a single made-in-Canada movie or TV show available through the service.
Since upgrading to iOS 4 a couple months back my iPhone 3G has ran as slow as molasses. So frustratingly slow that I have been considering replacing it with an Android (though Android handset choices in Canada are few).
Today iOS 4.0.1 was released. As you can see below it purports to include iPhone 3G performance fixes.
After futzing around with my updated iPhone 3G for an hour I can report that the update has fixed the problem somewhat. Apps do start and function quicker than they have recently. But the device and its apps still run noticeably slower than pre-iOS4.
I’m still considering an Android but, for the time being, am unlikely to completely abandon the iPhone. I’m hoping future iOS updates continue to fix 3G performance issues. But, I’m not holding my breath.
At the 8:35 minute mark, Mark and Dana discuss a new venture capital market segmenting trend where different funds are available to startups /ventures at different stages of their growth cycle. In this way VC’s can better focus on the different issues that affect startups at various stages.
I found this intriguing. I summarize the segments they discussed below:
Note: [CB] references below link to more info from CrunchBase on the applicable fund and its recent financings.
I’ve been waiting patiently for my Flipboard invite since its launch last week. I received my invite earlier today and have been playing with it ever since.
The generic Flipboard interface is nice, but, for me, its killer feature is its Twitter integration. I feel almost as excited about Flipboard as Robert Scoble .
At the moment I follow 74 terrific Twitter users. About 75% of their tweets contain links to interesting articles on topics dear to my heart. Flipboard turns this curated feed of news stories and blog posts into a beautifully personalized eZine. As I flip through Flipboard, instead of links to the stories in my Twitter feed, the first few paragraphs and accompanying picture from most of those linked stories are attractively and interactively displayed on my iPad. If I want to read the full story, I tap it and am instantly taken to the underlying story on its originating website. Another tap and I’m back to my Flipboard eZine. See the demo below:
Twitter integration is the raison d’etre for Flipboard
Having recently updated my Adobe Flash Player software for the umpteenth time on two different PCs, I discovered that if you download and install it in the normal way, you end up with a new and unwanted Adobe Download Manager Firefox extension that cannot be removed.
Here’s how to avoid this:
On the Adobe Flash Player download page, uncheck the “Free McAfee Security Scan Plus” option (who knows what that will add to your machine), then click on the yellow “Agree and install now” button:
T0ronto G20 Protest on Esplanade between Scott and Lower Jarvis
Note: The narrated video above is hard to see because its dark. It is easier to see it on full screen. See the non-narrated version of the same event (below) taken 5 minutes earlier. It is a bit easier to see.
A few days after a man was arrested in front of my building with gasoline tanks and various items that could be used as weapons (see pictures below), a largish Toronto G20 protest took place under my window.
There were about 75 to 100 sit-in style protesters on Toronto’s The Esplanade, between Scott and Lower Jarvis (about 1/2 mile from the G20 fences). The protestors blocked the road, stretching about 5 people wide, between the Keg on one side of the street and the Novotel (where low-level G20 officials are staying) on the other. Easily 100 to 150 police in full riot gear showed up in successive waves. While an initial group of police surrounded the protesters (2 lines, 2 officers deep), another phalanx of police organized at Front and Scott. They marched in formation (about 5 x 25), banging batons on shields with each step. After that group arrived, the police arrested the protestors one by one – dragging them into a dozen or so waiting paddy wagons as two helicopters hovered overhead. While all that took place a dozen or so police per street corner blocked all adjacent streets ensuring that no more protestors could arrive.
Non-Narrated Version of Video recorded 5 Minutes Earlier
Non-narrated version–shorter, easier to see–nice Toronto skyline shot
* Requires iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPod touch 3rd generation ** Requires iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, or iPhone 4
Be Warned: Downloading and installing the update takes awhile. It took iTunes and my 16 GB iPhone well over an hour to be updated.
This update contains over 100 new features, including the following:
• Multitasking support for third-party apps* – Multitasking user interface to quickly move between apps – Support for audio apps to play in the background – VoIP apps can receive and maintain calls in the background or when device is asleep – Apps can monitor location and take action while running in the background – Alerts and messages can be pushed to apps using push and local notifications – Apps can complete tasks in the background • Folders to better organize and access apps • Home screen Wallpaper*
Until Google Apps Sync I had no way of syncing contacts between Outlook and Gmail. When iTunes version 9.1 crapped out and stopped syncing contacts and calendar with my iPhone (this was fixed in iTunes 9.2 by the way) I made the decision to pony up the $50 a year for Google Apps Premier which includes Google Apps Sync.
It was worth every penny. I am rid the sync hodge-podge described above. I now have an end-to end, email, calendar, contact sync solution across my PCs, Google Apps Gmail, my iPhone and my iPad.
The Problem – How to Sync Only Selected Contacts
I only want a relatively few current contacts synced from Outlook to Gmail, my iPhone and iPad – about 250 or so contacts. But, I have accumulated some 800 contacts including historic clients and colleagues from prior law firms, restaurants from when I lived in different cities, old friends I no longer keep in touch with and so on. I don’t want to lose these contacts but I also don’t want them cluttering up my Google Apps Gmail, iPhone or iPad contact lists.
While you can segregate contacts within different contact folders inside the Google Apps Sync account in Outlook, all contacts such segregated contacts continue to sync into the unified Gmail, iPhone and iPad contact lists – regardless of the contact folder structure you set up inside of Outlook.