Apple

Storm news roundup 06-01-12

Our favourite web(ish) stories from the week…

Adam:

“Windows 8 is going to have a very sexy new feature called Storage Spaces. This is effectively RAID for the masses – hiding all the gnarly details while still offering a wide range of powerful features. They are offering mirroring and parity redundancy as well as the ability to bolt together heterogeneous disks to form a storage pool. That basically means you can take you internal hard drives, external USB drives or SAS drives, all of different speeds and capacity and have them act as one big hard drive. If they pull this off then it’ll be awesome. You’d no longer need a £500 Drobo to provide a convenient, reliable way to handle multimedia, just a bunch of USB external drives!”

Paul:

“In probably one of the most extreme examples of why you should be careful of using Paypal when selling, they instructed an unsatisfied buyer to destroy an antique violin worth thousands of dollars before they would issue a refund”

Dave:

“My news for this week is about the much-anticipated ‘http://hasliamgladdywatchedstarwarsyet.info‘. It may come as a shock to many of you, but our very own Liam Gladdy has not watched any of the Star Wars films.

We learnt recently that Liam was motivated most by earning achievements and unlocking badges. As such, the http://hasliamgladdywatchedstarwarsyet.info website comes with a progress saber where you can keep up to date with Liam’s progress. We hear that v2 is in the pipeline, and comes with unlockable badges and achievements.”

Mike:

” ‘…the action figure comes with a pair of black socks, some glasses, a leather belt, two apples (one with a bite taken out of it), a bar stool and a ‘one more thing’ backdrop’.

Yes, it’s a Steve Jobs action doll, and Apple aren’t too happy about it – apparently claiming that they own the rights to the likeness of the late Apple founder.  And no – this isn’t in The Onion, it’s in The Telegraph.”

Liam:

“It’s CES time again! Yup, the biggest week of the year for consumer electronics starts next week, and we’re bound to have a bumper crop of news and gadgets to be tweeting about. You can follow all of the latest news from CES at http://www.theverge.com/ces or read their preview of the event here.”

Andrew:

“SOPA is becoming more and more of a toxic entity to be associated with, as Sony become the latest target this week, with Anonymous announcing that they plan to target the company for their continued support of the Stop Online Piracy Act. In the light of the mass Go Daddy exodus, who will be next to distance themselves from the controversial proposed legislation?”

 

Things Storm bookmarked this week 07/12/11

This week…

Andrew: “The latest chapter in Apple’s ludicrous legal action against all and sundry has emerged this week, culminating in perhaps the stupidest of their legal challenges yet- asserting that certain aspects of their iphone designs should be protected under intellectual property law and that Samsung, whom they had taken legal action against, should have avoided Apple’s unique design traits, which they described as follows:

Front surface that isn’t black.
Overall shape that isn’t rectangular, or doesn’t have rounded corners.
Display screens that aren’t centered on the front face and have substantial lateral borders.
Front surfaces with substantial adornment.

So there you have it, only Apple are henceforth allowed to produce rectangular mobile phones, sorry other mobile tech companies, back to the drawing board with you. I hear triangles are pretty cool”

Kat: “I liked this, and can think of a few people it would make a good Christmas present for…”

Adam: “So, last week GCHQ posted the Can You Crack It challenge to find potential candidates for new cyber spys. It didn’t take too long for Dr Gareth Owen of the University of Greenwich to solve the tasks and post a full explanation. Some of the details are quite fascinating.

However, rumours are now circulating that there may be a hidden 4th task within the puzzle – perhaps even the ‘real’ challenge. GCHQ have strongly denied this is the case, but I’m not convinced. After all, they wouldn’t be very good at spying if they handed over all their secrets, would they!? And only the very best are likely to find this hidden task.”

Liam: “Following on from our recent love on Twitter Bootstrap, a new tool has emerged for base frame working, called Foundation. It gives you a bunch of prewritten code that makes building prototypes and foundation styles, effects and animations easy”

Paul: “As a Ruby dev, MacRuby is awesome: it lets you write native apps for OS X in Ruby. Here’s a campaign to encourage Apple to let us all use Ruby to develop iOS. Internally Apple seem to quite like Ruby as it shares a lot of concepts (but thankfully not syntax) with Objective-C, so there is some hope that this might just happen”

Mike: ”Music + hacking, probably them bestest combination of stuff in the world. Techno Is The Word.”

Dave: “This week, I bookmarked a prototype screen that creates the feeling of texture. Thats all there is to say really..”

Scott: ”The difference between Batman and Superman

Storm news roundup 28-10-11

Our favourite web(ish) stories from the week…

Adam:

“HP have decided that they are not now going to sell their PC business (after making a loss with a firesale on a load of TouchPads). New boss Meg Whitman is picking up the pieces after Leo Apotheker’s rule of terror cost the firm 40% of it’s value and £7bn buying Autonomy ‘focusing the strategy on software and cloud services’.”

Dave:

“‘I’ve finally cracked it!’ Steven P. Jobs, co-founder of Apple, told his biographer, Walter Isaacson.Hot on the heels of the 4S launch, Nick Bilton of the New York Times ponders a Siri enabled television set for late 2012.

Mike:

“Apart from Stallman’s hilarious ‘rider’ demands which did the rounds earlier in the week, the story which stood out for me was this one about paid (or not?) tweets. I can’t even work out any more whether this was deliberate, paid, not-paid, satire, serious…but nonetheless it’s an interesting little story.”

Liam:

“My news is more of a totally cool thing this week. Vitamin T have produced a rather sexy infographic showing a brief history of web standards that’s a really interesting read – complete with fonts for each year stamp which were produced in that year. It’s cool to see how far we’ve come since 1962, and where we’ll be in another 50 years!”

Andrew:

“A great example of the power of social news networks emerged this week when Reddit user zambuka42 posted his positive experience with Amazon customer service and decided to share it on a sub forum of the popular social news site. The story eventually hit the front page and has since recieved hundreds of thousands of views from around the internet.

After ordering merchandise to be delivered to his parent’s house, it was subsequently lost by the postal service and so the Reddit user contacted Amazon customer support to try and find out if he was able to re-order the items without having to manually add everything again.

A screenshot of the conversation is here http://i.imgur.com/aDVuC.jpg

After hearing the user’s predicament, the customer service rep chose to offer to refund the full cost of the lost order, despite the fact that it was the USPS that lost the order.

It is interesting to wonder whether Amazon’s customer service division are purposefully instructed to offer such brilliant service in the hopes of priceless positive advertising such as this going viral, and if not they surely soon will be!”

Storm news roundup 21-10-11

Our favourite web(ish) stories from the week…

Andrew:

“Further amusing news in the ongoing saga of this government’s continued attempt to become the Galactic Empire of the UK’s internet with this story from Techdirt yesterday – with news that a parliamentary committee is suggesting that websites need to reveal the identity of anonymous posters, or be liable for what’s in those comments.

With this following the recent passing of legislation that will require UK internet users to ‘opt in’ to be able to access pornographic material at home, it seems only a matter of time before we’re level-pegging with China on the internet freedom scale.”

Dave:

“This week I just want to share an infographic with you. Brought to you by the folks at MacRumors, it shows the pricing point of Apple goodies vs the average Windows PC. It goes to show how much more we value Apple. Whether we admire the innovative, highly polished products or simply yearn for the little Apple logo on the back, is for you to decide:”

Mike:

“Seems that my endless moaning about the new Google web app design has gone entirely unheeded – no great surprise there :-) - Google have just announced that the new design will be rolled out to Google Reader shortly – also this video leaked out from somewhere on the web, showing a similar revamp of Gmail.

I like minimal as much as the next person, but after some months using the new design Google Docs, I still find the total lack of keylines and edges pretty difficult on the eye. When I’ve tweeted, lots of people have agreed – but clearly someone at Google has a vision, and that’s what they’re going to do…”

Felix:

“deviantARt developer David Lynch has discovered an XSS vunerability in third-party ad code used by notable news nodes including CNN, The New York Times, Mashable and Fox News. As an entertaining example, he included an external Javascipt to add spinning CSS animation to all their images; but the method could be misused in a much more mischievous manner.”

Liam:

“Google are going to enable SSL by default for users who are signed in (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/making-search-more-secure.html) – Secure? Yes. Web Friendly? No. – You see. By doing this, google are preventing websites find out what you searched for. This is more than a little bit of a pain, because your web analytics software won’t know what you were looking for, which is how we web developers know how to better tailor content to you!”

Invisible, beautiful technology

When a man as legendary as Steve Jobs passes away, you’re never going to be alone in writing tributes [ in fact I turned up at Storm today to find that Liam had already written one :-) ] – and as readers, you’re not going to be short of material to read. So this’ll be short and sweet.

We use Apple technology almost exclusively here at Storm. This is in itself a revelation when you look back at the not-very-distant-past when Macs were purely the tool of designers.

I remember going to an early FOWA and looking round the room to see hundreds of PCs. Two years later at the same conference, at least 70% of the room were using a Mac. This year, I bet a fair percentage are sitting there with iPads.

Looking round me on the bus this morning – a normal bus filled with normal non-geeky people – I could see iPods and iPhones. Where there weren’t iPods and iPhones there were devices trying to be iPods and iPhones.

This kind of impact on technology is profound.

That “fan boy” thing? Boy do I hate it. I don’t hate it because I am one and it irritates me, I hate it because it belies the truth. Anyone who thinks about this stuff with any intelligence will immediately recognise that this isn’t about “shiny”; it’s about utility, pleasure and quality.

It’s high time for technology to be good enough that it becomes invisible and we stop having to wrestle with it. It’s good enough – the only thing standing between good technology and shit technology is laziness,thinking and vision.

The reason we love Apple is exactly that – it embodies good thinking. We don’t *put up with it*, we don’t dread turning it on in the morning. We don’t fight, endlessly, with blue screens or plugging some USB thing into the wrong hole that was right a minute ago and hey, do you mind a quick reboot just while you’re in the middle of something important.

Instead, someone has thought about how it all works – profoundly and from the top down – and the end result is quality. Robert M Pirsig had a lot to say about quality – an indefinable, far-reaching thing which we all know is there but can’t quite put our fingers on:

“What I mean (and everybody else means) by the word ‘quality’ cannot be broken down into subjects and predicates. This is not because Quality is so mysterious but because Quality is so simple, immediate and direct”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Apple is all about quality, and the end result is that working with this technology actually becomes a pleasure.

This kind of approach – a beautiful, joined-up, crafted, shiny (yes, shiny too!), pleasurable technology – can only come from a vision.

This kind of a vision can only come from a visionary, and Steve Jobs was a visionary and a leader of the highest order. His impact was profound, and he will be hugely missed.

 

Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

All of us here at Storm awoke this morning to the depressing news that Steve Jobs has lost his battle to cancer.

No single man has had such an impact on the way the work, the way we think and the way we design. Everyone here at Storm uses at least one apple product all day, every day, with most of us using many more.

Steve’s impact on our lives as developers, designers, strategists, nerds and geeks and just general techies is remarkable and downright scary. We wouldn’t be who we are without Steve. Rest in Peace.

Storm.

Things Storm bookmarked this week / 05-10-11

Things we liked this week:

…Liam was confused by people not understanding that the iPhone 4S is the iPhone 5 (not to mention the shameless ripping off by Apple of Google Latitude…). Meanwhile, he bookmarked: Amazon’s new Kindle without keyboard now shipping in the UK (but apparently UK folks don’t get the Kindle Touch, or ad-supported Kindles). He also discovered the reasonably awsome Layer Styles which lets you use a Photoshop-like web interface to build complex CSS3 shadows and borders. Nice!

Layer Styles: nice. New iCal design: not nice. Nicola: “REVOLTING. It’s not Apple’s sexy style, looks dated and ugly – it has ‘stitching’…”. Ouch.

Andrew’s bookmarks included this Smashing Magazine blog post on Conversation Techniques for Designers which he says will come in handy as he spends more time liaising with clients than doing design work…

Paul tells me it’s been another bad week for security: Russian software company Elcomsoft announced that they could recover Blackberry device passwords, while a massive security hole in HTC’s Android phones allows any app with permission to talk to the internet to extract any private information from the phone…

From Adam: “Cube is really neat looking open-source system for visualizing time series data created by disruptive credit card processing start-up Square. It let’s you really easy build a realtime dashboard of anything that can be tracked over time. It uses some very clever data processing techniques to deliver results as quickly as possible. It’s definitely a library I’m now looking for a reason to use!”

And finally – from me, another stunning example of how Amazon is building fiercely loyal customers by going way beyond the call of duty with their customer service. I’ve had a similar experience with the ‘zon when my Kindle case malfunctioned – instant phone call, totally intelligent customer service person, instant money back into my account. This is how it should be done…

Cake fine? Clearly it should be Dave for 1) Failing to contribute and 2) Being on holiday :-)

11 Reasons To Get An iPhone

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Here are my top 11 reasons for buying an iPhone.

We’re big iPhone fans here at Storm – hopefully the list below will show you why!

#1 – iPod

One of my favourite iPhone features is the iPod functionality. Essentially your phone comes with an iPod touch, with all the features and performance you can expect from the Touch. The large majority of people who are put off from buying the iPhone cite higher cost as their reason, yet are happy to shell out for an iPod (or equivalent music player). With the new iPhone rumored to have a 32Gb hard drive, the potential to put all of your music and video on one device is a big iPhone plus.

#2 – Style

The iPhone is undoubtedly one of the nicest looking mobile phones on the market. Its vivid 3.5″ screen encased in a sleek chrome and black housing is not only good looking, but surprisingly durable. The iPhone screen – protected by toughened glass – is very hard to scratch!

#3 – Ease of Use / GUI

The iPhone user interface has led the way forward for touch screen devices. Its fast and responsive system makes browsing the device very intuitive. Even the touch keyboard becomes second nature within a couple of weeks of use.

#4 – Web, Wi-Fi and 3G

Prior to the iPhone, mobile Internet browsing was sluggish and very limited (WAP, GPRS and Edge). With the iPhone 3G you not only get fast browsing speed, but a well thought out browsing interface. Use of the iPhone’s multi-touch technology means that you can scale or zoom fully HTML pages.

#5 – Push Services

This is actually a feature which will come into maturity in the next software update for iPhone (3.0 – due in the next month or so). The iPhone will already ‘push’ any emails, diary dates and contacts to your mobile phone, but with the latest software release you will be able to receive further alerts, ‘pushed’ to your phone such as News alerts, Social Networking alerts etc.

#6 – Social Networking

The iPhones 3G Internet capability means that you can stay connected to your social networks (Twitter, Facebook etc) on the go. You are able to catch up with your friends and post photos and updates straight from the phone. Without devices such as the iPhone, services like Twitter would almost certainly not be as popular as they are today.

#7 – Games

Who doesn’t love a few fun games on their mobile to aid with procrastination? The iPhone is the first mobile phone to truly provide high quality games – some of which are more than capable of competing with hand held gaming consoles such as the Nintendo DS or PSP. And whats more, the games for iPhone are generally much cheaper and receive frequent updates for free.

#8 – GPS and Google Maps

The iPhone has the benefit of having a GPS receiver built in. Unlike many other phones which merely triangulate their position via telephone masts, the iPhone can actually pin your location on a Google Map, plan a route and feed you instructions as you walk or drive the route.  The GPS functionality also allows for a host of location aware applications – being able to find the nearest.. Train Station, Bus Route, Bar, Hospital etc, or finding out which of your friends are near you.

#9 – App Store

The app store has really set the iPhone apart from pretty much any other mobile device. You can grab any number of fantastic applications that extend the native functionality of the iPhone. There are plenty of free apps to get stuck into, along side the reasonably priced ‘paid’ apps. Even these are usually under £2! Some of my favourites include: Facebook, Tweetie & Skype for keeping in touch with the world; Shazam for finding the names of songs by holding your phone to a speaker, Pocket God (clue is in the name) and BounceOn (hours of fun!)

#10 – Software updates

Another feature that Apple brought forward with the iPhone is software updating. Apple are constantly improving your iPhone, for free! – bringing you new and improved features.  You also have the option of purchasing major upgrades for a nominal fee, normally under £10 – giving you access to a whole host of new toys to play with.

#11 – All in your palm

What I love the most about the iPhone is that you get all of the above, and much much more, in the palm of you hand. That’s a mobile phone, a games console, an iPod, a GPS navigation device and a portable computer running Skype, email and documents. Anyone who complains about the extra few ££ or $$ for that level of functionality really is missing out!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the iPhone below! What do you love the most? Or what do you hate! What would you like to see in the next iPhone?


13 Reasons To Buy A Mac

Here are the definitive top 13 reasons to buy an Apple Mac. We can admit to being Mac fans here at Storm – and we often get asked why we’re so Mac crazy; hopefully the list below will fill you in.

#1 – Virus-free & secure

Whether you’re a business or home user, you’ll be well aware that computer security is a major pain in the backside. With Mac, you have the comfort of knowing that there are (almost) no viruses to harm your computer! And you know what that means? No bulky obtrusive anti-virus and anti-spyware programs clogging up your computer – updating every 20 minutes and hogging your CPU.  If that’s not enough to make you buy a Mac already, here are a further 12 reason.

#2 – Quality of components

With a Mac you really do get what you pay for. Sure it may be a little more than typical PC specs, but Apple use top of the line, top spec components in their Mac’s. That means better performance, longer life and less breakages.

#3 – Software architecture based on Unix

This one’s for all you programmers out there.  When you buy a Mac you also get a machine with a Unix core.  That means access to a fully functional shells, including sh, bash, zsh and ksh.  You also get the Darwin Ports system to update your application, Cron to schedule tasks easily and a whole host of programming and scripting utilities baked in, including: awk, Perl, PHP, Python, Java and C.

#4 – Looks that could kill

You have to admire the design and craftsmanship of all of Apple’s products; the Mac line-up is no different!  Better yet, Apple don’t compromise performance for design, with a Mac you get stunning equipment that will outperform the majority of its PC rivals.

#5 – It doesn’t crash!

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that as you are typing the last few words of a long letter, or adding the final touches to a complex graphic, your computer isn’t going to ‘stop responding’. Whilst Mac’s aren’t 100% perfect, I can honestly say that my Mac has crashed 2-3 times in the last 2 years. That’s 50 – 60 times less than my Windows based notebook, which I use for 10% of the time I use my mac. Convinced yet?…

#6 -  Time Machine

We never know when we’re going to need a file that’s been accidentally deleted or lost. Apple offers inbuilt backup software with its operating system (OS X) which automatically keeps backups of all your files. With the use of an Apple time capsule, your backup hard drive doesn’t even need to be attached to the computer. Hiding it away behind a book case could see all your data saved in the event of a theft.

#7 – Saves you money

It does! Honestly. Whilst it used to be the case that we would require new PC’s every 1-2 years, your Mac will far outlast a PC, meaning you don’t really need to update for 3 – 4 years. All PC users will be aware that Windows based machines seem to get slower and slower as time goes on – soon you are reduced to de-fragging hard drives or wiping the computer and reinstalling everything. Well not with a Mac! Much like the Duracell Bunny – it’ll just keep going.

#8 – iLife

iLife offers you everything you need for everyday media. Organise your photos, make home movies, compose and arrange music and build websites. You cant ask for much more! Whats better – it all comes with you Mac as standard. Even better – its quick and easy to use, whilst still giving you a large number of features to play with.

#9 – OS X

OS X (The Apple Mac operating system) is the envy of Microsoft. We know this, because Microsoft appear to try and copy it as much as they can! The operating system is not only sleeker, quicker, more robust and more secure than its Windows counterparts but is far more stylish and intuitive to use. Apple really are a good few steps ahead of Microsoft in this field.

#10 – Genius Bar

Apple offer all Mac customers Genius bar assistance. This means you can make an appointment at any Apple store and get face to face technical assistance from an Apple professional. They often make repairs on the spot and are always happy to help. Its certainly 10x the service you’d expect from PC outlets such as PC World.

#11 – Closing software gap

In times gone by, Apple Macs were seen as an industry tool. Today, they are still prominent as an industry standard but have taken on the home computer market as well. Today, the large majority of  mainstream software can be run on a Mac (including the likes of Microsoft Office). And for those rare occasions that you find some software that hasn’t yet been made Mac compatible, Mac offers Boot Camp, Parallels and Wine which allow Windows only software to be run on your Mac hardware.

#12 – Comes with everything you need

When you buy a Mac you really do get the whole package. Apple don’t leave you needing to buy more once you purchase one of their Mac’s. With a Mac you’ll have the pleasure of inbuilt Web Cam and microphone (iSight) high quality speakers as well as access to a plethora of software to get started with your day to day activities.

#13 – Your friends will want one

Finally we come to the end of our list. Heres one last thing to keep in mind.. Once you’ve purchased a Mac, all of your friends will want one!

So what are you waiting for? Next time you come to change your computer – go Mac!