Kidstown Water Playground. How did we not make it here before? It’s wonderful and free. My kids had a blast. It’s north of Finch on Birchmount. A 20 minute drive from downtown. There is also. nice big play structure beside. Every bit as nice as the zoo water park but for free ;). Sadly, it’s only open from late June to Labour Day.
The playground at Trinity Bellwoods Park is one of the most modern in the city. Located on the central east side of the park, it sports a really nice, new and clean bathroom and a nice wading pool. Sadly, there are almost no free-floating toys like so many other parks. Lots of shade. A nice sandbox but no pails or shovels. My 19 month old had no problems with the blue/yellow structure. That whole loopy/silver thing beside the wading pool (see picture below) is for big kids.
When we returned in the fall we discovered that it is a wonderful park to play in the leaves.
Stanley Park is another old city park. It’s playground is located at King and Walnut near Liberty Village. It ha has some nice shade and a nice sand box. Newly fenced in. Like many parks around the city, it has lots of abandoned toys, pales and shovels for the preschoolers to play with. Public restrooms are old but have plane wooden change tables – at least in the men’s room. Strangely there were no swings on the swing set when we visited.
Despite its aging play structures, Dufferin Grove Park, beside the Dufferin Mall, is one of the nicest shaded playgrounds in the city. Perfect for my toddler and preschooler on a hot sunny day. The kids love it. The wading pool is open from June to Labour Day. The public bathroom is quite a walk away for my kids and is rather smelly. My biggest issue with this place is the water/mud course they provide for older kids. Great for them. A recipe for extremely dirty preschoolers for me. Despite that, it is a regular on the downtown park rotation.
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:
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.]
If the warning above annoys you as much as it does me whenever you open an attachment in Outlook 2010 (or outlook 2007) the video below shows you how to get rid of it.
[Note: This is a reprise of an earlier post where I showed how to do this in the context of Outlook 2007.]
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.
I bought a brick for the Twit Brick House and received this Certificate of Appreciation:
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!!
How to Setup the Nexus S as a Portable hotspot:
- Go to the Android’s Settings screen
- Select ‘Wireless & networks’
- Select ‘Tethering & Portable hotspot’
- Click the checkbox beside the ‘Portable Wi-fi hotspot’
- Click on the ‘Portable Wi-Fi hotspot settings’ item
- Click on the ‘Configure Wi-Fi hotspot’ item
- Name the hotspot in the ‘Network SSID field’ – I named mine ‘Dale’s Android Hotspot’
- On the security pull-down menu select ‘WPA2 PSK’
- Type in your desired hotspot password
- Click ‘Save’
That’s it. Now turn on your iPad, iPod touch, laptop, whatever, search for the named hotspot, type in the password and you are off to the tethered races.
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.
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.
Limited Launch Offerings:
Browsing through their movie and TV offerings, it appears that there are only about 100 older movies available – too many of which are third-rate movies. There are no new movie 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.
At this moment I can access each of:
- Hulu: I can access full episodes of shows on Hulu now. Below, for example, is Episode 2 of Season 1 of MasterChef:
- Pandora: I had happily used Pandora for a long time before they cut off access to Canadians. I’m delighted that I can access it again.
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.
Super Angel / Seed Funds
- Funds with $25 million or less in capital
- Write cheques from $100K to $500K
- Funding pre-product in some instances
- Representative Firms: Founder Collective on east Coast, Dave McClure’s Felicity Ventures [CB], Jeff Clavier’s Softech [CB]. On west coast, CrossCut [CB] and Rincon Venture Partners [CB].
Early Stage Funds
- Smaller than traditional VC
- Funds with $50 to $125 million in capital
- Write cheques from $750K to $1 million
- They like to see a product launch with first cracks at revenue generation to prove the idea can be monetized
- Representative Firms: First Round Capital [CB], Greycroft Partners [CB], True Ventures [CB]
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.
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:
Leo Interviews the writers/creators of the wildly successful ‘I’m on a Horse’ Old Spice commercial. They explain, step by step, how Isaiah Mustafa got from the shower to the horse.
This is a good analysis of the physics behind why Roddick has the fastest serve on tour. Thanks to Bob Prichard at the Somax Performance Institute for forwarding this along.