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Category Archives: Apple

Fun in the Sun – Florida (part 1)

In 2011 and 2014 we were in the lucky position to be able to visit Florida in the US, to be more specific Orlando.

This posting will mostly deal with our first visit in 2011, with more posts to follow for those interested in taking a trip over the pond for a fun break in the sun.

Our 2011 trip started with a Thomson flight from Glasgow International Airport to Stanford Airport. We’d chosen the route because it was cheeper than the flight to Orlando International, however Stanford is considerably further out than Orlando International which meant that we had to prebook a limo from the airport to our apartment, which meant it wasn’t as much of a saving as it first appeared.

We were staying at Mystic Dunes resort, which is close to Celebration and not far from Orlando. The resort hosts a large selection of villa apartments large enough to accommodate a family or a group of friends staying in the area.  There are a lot of facilities such as multiple swimming pools, a golf club and loads of other sporting areas dotted around the grounds. Our stay at Mystic Dunes was decent, but it was a bit far away for our first visit to Florida, especially considering our plan was to visit the Disney and Universal Parks (with a bit of retail therapy on the side).

Mystic Dunes had done a deal with the PlatinumTransportation Inc to supply all the transportation which meant that we were pretty much stuck with using them, which I believe may have cost us quite a bit to get around.  Despite the reviews on Yelp, we found the drivers of the cars and the busses to the parks to be polite and helpful, unlike the people that queues for the busses in the parks (that’s something for later).  The busses to the parks (Seaword, Disney’s Epcot and Animal Kingdom as well as Universal) started off at Mystic Dunes, which meant that you were guaranteed a seat on the long journey out but on the journey back Mystic Dunes was the last stop off, meaning if you didn’t get a seat you were standing until seats eventually freed up.  Some of the busses had screens which showed movies such as Despicable Me or Disney (usually Mickey Mouse shorts or Lion King), although sometimes the screens didn’t work or had problems, but it was occasionally a happy distraction.

Our lack of knowledge and lack of belief in our ability to drive in the US meant that we made some rookie mistakes, but we had done a bit of planning before we left so we weren’t completely naive.  There is a wealth of information on-line about Florida, the parks (Walt Disney World, Universal, SeaWorld, Bush gardens, etc), malls, and so much more, so I won’t go into it here, maybe in another posting…

Our plan to get to all the parks that we wanted, at times that weren’t so restrictive, was to use the Transportation and Ticket Centre at Magic Kingdom. The TTC allows you to use Disney busses, boats and monorail to get to and from all the Disney parks and resort hotels whilst still being able to access public busses such as Lynx to get out with Disney’s Kingdom, allowing you to get to the malls and Universal’s parks.  The only Disney location that you can’t get to from the TTC is Downtown Disney.  The secret to getting to Downtown Disney is to get a Disney Bus or Monorail to a Disney hotel and then get a Disney bus from there to Downtown.

As this was our fist visit to the area, we had decided not to take a gamble, hire a car and try driving on the other side of the road, something that I don’t regret despite the number of times we made mistakes with the Lynx bus system and had to call for the Limo to pick us up. In 2014 we did take the leap and get behind the wheel as it appears that most people drive in Orlando, but more of that in later posts.

Our original reason for going over to Florida was to have some fun and ride some of the more extreme rides in the area.  We had ridden all the rides in Alton Towers at the time and felt that it was time for me to up my game and try the bigger, faster rides in the states.  What happened once we reached the parks changed all that and our view on Disney changed forever and I suspect it will never be the same again.

We visited Universal‘s two parks and loved the big rides, atmosphere there and the more adult feel was great.  The big rides were amazing and the City Walk area was where we fell in love with the laid back Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. Margaritaville was a more subdued taste of Florida, good drinks, good food and a relaxed atmosphere which is a great break from the push and shove of parks.  For those of you with a fear of big rides then a few sips or a big gulp (if you really need it) of one of their tasty cocktails will soon sort out those nerves.  On one visit the barman was concerned that we had had a few drinks but had not yet eaten anything, after a quick discussion and realisation we were from Scotland, he realised that there was nothing to be concerned about.  On one trip we did try the Volcano Nacho’s which we were warned was a monster… we should have listened.. after the large plate, stacked high with “Tortilla chips layered with chili, cheese, pico de gallo, fresh guacamole, sour cream and jalapeños”  it was clear that the picture on the menu did not do it justice and we had really under estimated this monolith, after a brave struggle we had to eventually admit defeat.

When we went into Disney’s Magic Kingdom the feel was completely different and we almost instantly became Disney fans.  My better half joked that they must put something in the air conditioning system on Main St because after the Main street parade our view of Disney changed and something just clicked with us.  We realised that there is more to the Disney parks than just the rides, a feeling that you only get at Disney park and something that becomes electric within Magic Kingdom.

Our trip to the Florida Mall showed that UK Shopping centres are nothing compared to the US and being a Apple fan I had to check out the Apple store ( Hello, I’m FreakOut and I’m an Apple addict ). I can’t remember much about the rest of the stores, but I do remember there was loads for everyone and there is a big ass M&M’s store (which is far better than the only UK store in London and has a massive range of varieties of M&Ms that you just don’t get over here [except possibly CyberCandy in London’s Covent Garden]). My better half started a long distance retail affair with the Bath and Bodyworks, something that I have to admit that even I have started to love, which is yet another reason we keep going back to Florida…

Our one and great disappointment was that we never held back at the Disney parks for any of the night time fireworks at either Magic Kingdom or Epcot, something we would make up for in our next visit…

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Edinburgh Apple Store Grand Opening

I know I’m really late in posting about the Grand Opening of the Apple Store, Princes Street, Edinburgh but as I was lucky enough to be there and take some photos, I thought it’s about time I wrote something about it.

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I arrived about an hour before the opening time, but despite this, the queue was not as long as I had anticipated.

The queue was separated between people wanting to purchase the new iPhone 6 (or 6 Plus) [shortish queue] and those wanting to see the shiny new store, who formed a long, winding queue which snaked in front of the building next door with a small brea , for the lane that runs down the side of the store, to allow traffic to pass.

The queue was well mannered as usual and despite the cold Scottish wind (luckily the rain had stopped by this time), the queue was well mannered and cheery. After speaking to a few people in the queue and overhearing some conversations, it appeared to me that the latter half of the queue had never attended an Apple Store opening before and most were a bit bemused by the situation, but realised that it was all part of the experience.

As with the other Grand Openings, which I’ve had the opportunity to attend, Starbucks staff were on hand with a smile on their faces and a small warming hot chocolate or coffee to keep everyone’s spirits up.

Just before opening the sound of bagpipes filled the air and the Apple Store staff came out to welcome everyone with a quick procession around the queue, clapping and cheering everyone who had been waiting for so long.

The security staff. who were managing the queue, were friendly and well mannered despite spending hours on site after setting up the barriers in the rain earlier in the morning. Their simple pass system for ensuring that no one was able to ‘skip’ the queue, as the queue passed over the lane beside the store, worked really well and appeared to also being utilised for those waiting in line for iPhones at the same point in their queue.

Once beside the store, the sheer vastness and open clean design of the store was evident, even with the crowds of fans and staff who had already filled the ground floor of the store.

A short wait later and I was finally passing through the glass doors and getting the customary high fives from the corridor of staff that welcome you into every Grand Opening as you grab the opening day t-shirt (I’m still surprised that some of the fans in the queue didn’t know about what would happen and that the t-shirts are only available in one size, to the first 1000 to enter the store).

Once in the store I had a quick look round and realised that the ground floor was a bit too crowded for me. After bumping into a regular face at these events and a short chat, I was soon heading to the side of the store and up the beautiful staircase (no glass this time) to the bright, clean and airy upstairs, which I believe is the Genius’ area (although there didn’t appear to be a Genius Bar )

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Upstairs was a lot quieter and had space for the children’s area, Genius area, Training area, loads of accessories and all the stuff you find at the back of the ‘mall’ Apple Stores (or Upstairs in Glasgow’s Buchanan St Apple Store).

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The look of the store really caught my eye, from the aluminium air conditioning ducts, floating from the ceiling, to the amazing staircase (which I kept taking pictures of – a bad habit of mine [see my Flickr account] ) and the sense of light and space, which was ever present, even on what could be the busiest day of the store.

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Looking out the first floor window, I could see the Apple flag curled round the flag pole and even an hour after the store opened (yes it took me that long to get in and have a look round – Something my long suffering better half was a bit unhappy about as she sat patiently in McDonald’s up the road) the queue was as long, if not longer, than it had been when I had joined it initially.

Unlike other Grand Openings, it stuck
me how busy the store was. There
were Genius Appointments happening within an hour of the store opening (if not before) and there was a clear demand for the new iPhone 6 / 6 Plus, which is something I’ve not really noticed before, at least not on the same scale.

Hopefully my photos will do the store justice, but I would recommend a visit if you’re in Edinburgh.

I’ll certainly be back in the Edinburgh Apple Store when I’m next in the capital and maybe next time I’ll get a better feel for what the store is really like, without all the clamour of the Grand Opening.

If you want to find out more about the history of the Edinburgh Apple Store, I would suggest checking out Gary Allen’s blog “IFOAppleStore” (IFO=In Front Of) which details the rumours about the Edinburgh Apple Store over the past decade as well as interesting details on many of the Apple Stores throughout the world and other info on that Apple fans may find as interesting as I do.

Watch is going on? (part 2)

In my original posting “Watch is going on?” I focussed on how Apple may have been working with Swatch on development of the fabled and much rumoured iWatch.

I’ve been thinking, after reading some of the rumours and getting rather bored of the same tired ideas, what would Apple make and how would they do it?

My thoughts tend to drift back to the launch of the iPhone, another much rumoured product where the rumour mill had very bland ideas compared to the product that was finally launched.  If you remember the launch, Steve Jobs talked about the iPod as the best music device and how Apple wanted to make a phone whilst make it the best phone they could. He then talked about merging the two ideas and how much each would usually cost and how much the iPhone would eventually cost.

So would Apple do the same for the iWatch (assuming that it is actually a watch and not a TV product, or something else) ? I’m not big on designer watches, but I do know that they can be very expensive, shiny and extremely well crafted. I get the feeling that quite a few have bracelet straps (i.e. they have metal straps that are in little ‘chunks’) and can cost a few hundred pounds up to a few thousand.

So if you think of merging or partnering an iconic Apple product like the iPhone with a high quality designer watch, what would you get ?

I believe it would be a sleek, stylish design, in a machined & laser etched metal (thinking MacBook Air, iPhone etc) with a bracelet strap which could hide some interesting components that are commonly found in iPhones, fitness wrist bands etc. I don’t believe that Apple would produce what has been touted in the rumour mill over the years, with a plastic or leather strap (unless Apple managed to hide some interesting tech in the strap, such as an RFID chip to make it easy to synch the device with your iPhone or Mac).

I believe that the recent WWDC mention of sharing the iPhone calls between the phone and a Mac (iMac, Macbook etc) would also appear on the device, sharing not just calls but the Internet capabilities (i.e. tethering / personal hotspot ) so that the drive can receive notifications and be able to send information itself via your other Apple devices in the vicinity. I’d love to see the device using Apple’s clustering technologies (which were developed for OSX Server) to do things that the device may not have the processing power to do itself. I suspect that the technology is already used in products such as Siri and other software products such as Maps, iPhoto, iWork and iCloud.

By using clustering technologies, it would be possible to do things on the device that the current products on the market could not feasibly conceive of.  What these are I don’t know, but if you had a small device that could take advantage of the power of Apple’s servers, the processing power of an iPhone, iPad, iPod and even an iMac or MacBook what could you create that hasn’t even been thought about before?…  

Before the iPhone appeared, people had simple little java games on their phone and now there are loads of games, apps and things that just were not possible before, the iPhone changed all that and now we expect to have everything we need on our phones and find them indispensible tools in our daily lives.

I could be wrong, but I hope that I’m not and that Apple are going to produce another ground breaking device that will take the world by storm by changing what the we believe is possible yet again.

Joining the dots

As an Apple fan, I was intrigued by the latest WWDC invites, which show a series of rounded edged squares which leaves an impression on the white background, which looks like the top of that Apple logo.

As usual there is a lot of speculation about what “clues” are hidden in the invites. As usual I don’t care.

But it got me thinking, but not about the usual Apple rumours.

Firstly I started thinking about my past postings and the invite reminds me of old dot matrix printers, that used rows of pins to form images on the paper. modern ink jet printers USA a similar process but instead of pins they use little jets that push droplets of ink onto the paper. Could this be Apple stepping back into HP’s pool and updating printing technology? As much as I would personally love this, I doubt it (although it would be a bold move, that could just work considering the creative background of Apple and their users, not to mention the number of photos that are taken on iPhones)

So, if the invite isn’t something as mundane as the current range of rumours about improved Displays or improved Apps, what could it be about?

I suddenly remembered rumours that surfaced about Apple’s introduction of the iPhone. The rumour was that Apple wanted to produce a device that didn’t rely on The usual cell phone (mobile phone) companies. There was talk that Apple were intending to roll out their own network of some sort.

Recent changes to FaceTime, to allow voice calls over 3G and 4G networks as well as the “Personal Hotspot” option and other sharing options could hint that Apple haven’t given up on their ideals.

If Apple did take the bold step to allow iPhone users to share their Wi-Fi and cellular network ( which I’m sure the Mobile [Cellular] companies wouldn’t be happy with ) it could be really good for everyone. No more poor signal quality, no more slow download speeds just one big shared network. loads of iOS devices all connected together to form an independent network of devices.

As much as I believe it’s a great idea and I’d love to see if the concept could work, but I suspect that in the UK the lack of public WiFi and I suspect the Mobile companies clamping down on “tethering” as they call it, could stop the concept from taking off this side of the pond.

A mesh network of loads of individual networks, if it’s possible, could change the future forever.

12 Days

For the past few years, those in the know have managed to get free treats from Apple via the “12 Days of Christmas” App for iOS devices (available in the App Store)

With this App Apple give “gifts” from the 26th December to the 6th January (12 days). These gifts can be in the of Apps (games, tools and utilities), Music or Films & TV shows.

In the past they have (in the UK at least) given away a Kyle EP, BBC Top Gear TV episode, Father Ted XMAS special, part 1 of BBC Doctor Who XMAS special, Top
selling Games such as Mirror’s Edge and so much more.

For those in the know it’s a great way to get free stuff for your iOS device every year.

Apple are a bit sneaky about the software, Each year (for the past few years) they have released a new version of the software that you have to download (ie if you have last years version you don’t automatically upgrade to this years version).

If you are lucky enough to have downloaded the App before the start of the promotional period, Apple have ,for a few years , Provided an extra gift as a special ‘thank you’ so it’s worth getting the updated app as soon as it’s available.

So when’s this years App due to be released? Well I just checked and this years “12 Days” (full name this year is “12 Days of gifts” ) appears to have arrived in the App Store on the 10th December.

I’ve just downloaded it and this years app opens and asks for your region for the iTunes Store (incase people are traveling over the festive season?). The app has moved from the blue and white winter theme to a black and gold theme, making it look more like a high end present, rather than a winter gift.

I’ll keep you updated when I know more…

MacWorld (UK) recently wrote an Interesting article on the 12 Days App for 2013 (and a recap of last years “Gifts”)

Curveball thinking

As readers of this blog know, I sometimes sit and think “what next”, especially when it comes to Apple.

Now I don’t like to think small, or conventional so it will come as no surprise when a few ideas that I’d read online and some stuff I’d seen on TV just came together and I got one of those “What if?” moments.

First off, there’s been a few internet articles on the possibility of a future version of the iPhone having some sort of “curved” design. When you think about most land line phones, from
the humble public phone booth to your home phone, all have a standard L shape. The standard phone has a straight body which houses the earpiece and a short microphone jutting out at an angle, so that it sits close to the mouth.

Mobile phones, in the last few years, have become flat slabs, which is handy when they are in your pocket and as mobile apps and touch screens have taken over, the “flat” design has ruled the roost. But these “flat” phones do pick up a lot of background noise (and wind) and have had to have noise cancelling technology added to improve the call quality.

So, is the answer to move to a smoother, more ergonomic “curved L” shape? Is the answer to move to other ways to detect speech? If anyone can reinvent, it has to be Apple. With Ive’s feel for design, his thinking about form and function I would not be surprised if similar ideas have not been discussed at Apple.

So, If you start thinking about the microphone, why not think about the speaker… Is there a better way? I remember seeing something on TV about headphones that could be used whilst swimming as they used Bluetooth and used vibrations that transferred the sound instead of using in-ear speakers ( I believe that Google’s Glass uses a similar concept). Could Apple use something similar, could something like this help people with hearing issues make better use of mobile phones?

The other advantage, of changing away from older technologies, could be that there may be fewer openings for watter, dirt and possible flaws, which could lead to cracks in the glass or other failures.

iOS7

I had added some of my initial thoughts, after my initial upgrade, into an old posting but it’s becoming clearer that Apple have made quite a lot of changes in iOS 7 and an addition to an existing post is not enough..

So what’s the deal?

Keyboard: The keyboard has changed, it feels slightly bigger, less polished but easier to use, cleaner and crisper (dare I say more accurate?). Initially I didn’t like it but after using WordPress’ iOS app (which uses the old keyboard look and feel) I have come to appreciate the changes and it’s growing on me quicker than I had expected.

Lock Screen: With the release of the iPhone 5s with it’s fingerprint recognition sensor, it must have been an obvious choice for Apple’s UI team to change the lock screen to use circular buttons to mimic the home button (and fingerprint sensor). To
me it makes sense and moves away from the metallic,ATM like, buttons on the previous lock screen.

Safari: I’ve not used it much, so far. But I like that the address bar disappears and the page description shrinks down to a smaller font. to make more space for the web page. Maybe it’s me (or just the perception of a change & something new) but web pages appear to load quicker on my iPhone 5.
I like the new layout when you want to
switch between pages that you have open, which takes a similar look and feel as when you use iTunes to flick between Tracks and albums (very reminiscent of being in a record shop and flicking through all the vinyl, looking at all the cover art). Could Apple bring this concept back into iTunes (I’ll have to look at that later).
The password keychain appeared briefly when I logged into a website and I’ll have to look at how that integrates with my MacBook Pro later, it looks like it could be a nice addition especially with the number of different sites I log into and all the different account names and passwords.

Apps: OK not really apps themselves, but switching between apps.. This has changed so you don’t need to press and hold the icon. Instead you get a ‘snapshot’ or ‘screenshot’ of the running app with the icon below (similar to the old way that Safari showed open web pages). To stop a running App you now swipe up and it’s gone. I find it strange that the same interface wasn’t shared between Safari and these running apps.. Maybe it’s the swipe up that’s the issue here? Will that change in a future upgrade?

Mail: Mail appears (there’s that perception again) to be quicker. I have struggled to get used to the new way to delete mails from the mail list. To delete you have to swipe to the left (previously I’ve been swiping to the right [being right hand dominant]) which takes a bit of getting used to but works quite well after a bit or retraining.
Overall mail is working well ( I have multiple MAPI accounts set up) for me and there doesn’t appear to be a lot of obvious changes.

Messages: There’s been a lot of small changes, nothing that’s put me off so far. There’s a bit of fun animation and movement to what was a pretty static app. I’m site there’s more ‘under the hood’ to explore ( trip to my local Apple Store, to visit the Creatives, soon then )

Siri: I was a bit disappointed with Siri at first as it seams that it’s still not picking up what I’m saying very well. This could be because I’m using an old Bluetooth earpiece or because I don’t use it that often. My ‘one big thing’ moment was when I forgot to enable Bluetooth and took a gamble and ask Siri to do it (something I’ve wanted it to do for a while), in iOS7 this now works and you can also switch on Wi-Fi ( and switch them both off) by asking Siri.

Unwanted attention

So I decided to upgrade my iPhone to iOS 7 this morning…

(for my thoughts on the changes see my existing blog posting about what I’d like in a future iOS release).

One of the things I was really wanting to try (it sounds silly, but sometimes it’s the simple things) was blocking unwanted and unsolicited Sales calls.

Until this morning, when I receive one of these annoying calls, I have added the number to an existing contact called ‘Unsolicited Sales Call’ and set it to a ring tone that I could easily ignore.

Now that I’m on iOS7 I received a call that I didn’t know the number and I remembered hearing about this feature so I thought I would try to find it…

To block a number I went to ‘Phone’ and then select ‘recents’ to get a list of all the most recent calls. I then selected the Information icon ( circle with a lowercase i inside) on the right of the entry I wanted blocked. Once there I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and found the ‘Block this Caller’ option [this changes to ‘unblock this Caller’ so you can undo the change if you’ve made the change in error].

Since I’ve already added calls that I’ve received from sales organisations into the one contact name all I needed to do was block this user and all the calls will be blocked in one go. Any new calls I do get can just be added to this user and they will be blocked from then on. So no need to block each individual number!!

Very handy, Thanks Apple 🙂

Cisco / Linksys E4200 router (Update)

For those of you who read my original posting on My home network setup and my upgrade to the Cisco Linksys E4200 may be wondering what has happened to my further testing?

Well I’m glad to say that I have some positive and negative news.

After purchasing a Virgin Super hub on e-bay and spending over an hour on the phone to them, only to find that Virgin Media won’t connect Virgin Super hub devices unless they supply them directly (some legal and technical reason that appears to me just to be a reason to try and force people to pay for an upgrade). I managed to get Virgin Media customer services to send out a super hub for free (which is better than the £20 they wanted to charge, better than the £4.50 per Month upgrade price and better than the £70 fee they wanted to charge only a few months ago.)

Now if you are thinking of getting a super hub (model VMDG480 [made by Netgear]) from Virgin Media I would warn you that it is very basic compared to Wireless routers that you can by online from Cisco/Linksys, Apple, Netgear and other related companies, but it is essential if you want to connect your own wireless router to Virgin’s network. The super hub supports the 802.11d, 802.11g and 802.11n standards but you must choose either the 2.4GHz (older, up to 42Megabits per second) or the 5GHz (more recent, up to 300 Megabits per second) frequencies, which may cause issues if you have a mix of old and new kit in your house (as we do). The router does allow ‘guest’ networks to be set up but these have to be on the same band as the normal network (so no chance of having both 2.4MHz and 5MHz).

After all this is said I would like to point out that in order to be able to use your own router (such as the Cisco Linksys E4200) that you need this (or it’s new upgraded Super hub 2), which can be switched into ‘modem’ mode to allow your own wireless router to be plugged onto virgin’s cable network without loosing some of the enhanced capabilities. In addition to that the Superhub has 4 Gigabit ports in the back which is essential for anyone looking to connect any network kit to the device (including a router), this is a big change from the old Virgin Hub (VMDG2800 By Netgear) which only acted as a 802.11b router and only had 4 10/100 Megabit connections which is, in my opinion, not sufficient nowadays. One big issue is that the LEDs at the front of the router are too bright, with no way to turn down or disable them. this has been such a issue that mine are now covered in electrical tape to make the device bearable.

Virgin do offer the newer Super hub 2, which appears to offer the ability to broadcast on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz ranges at the same time and has 5 antenna (2 for the 2.4MHz range and 3 for the more recent 5MHz range, which is better than the Cisco Linksys E4200 2 [2.4GHz] and 2 [5GHz] combination) and it’s capable of up to 450MHz (comparable to the Cisco Linksys E4200) however the USB port on the back of the device has been disabled and there is no option to enable it ) *(details from expertreviews.co.uk). Saying all that, it does allow you to at least dim the LEDs at the front of the modem ( the Cisco Linksys allows you turn off the lights altogether, although I haven’t found them to be any issue).

So, this article was supposed to be about the Cosco Linksys E4200, so
lets get back on track.

Well now that I have a Virgin Media router that I can put into Modem mode, I can finally test the functions of the E4200.

Firstly The public wireless, this works at a basic level, where a secondary set of networks are created on the same frequencies that are enabled on the main network. The guest network
is given a different IP range from the main network (strangely it shows in the DHCP Client Table report as a ‘LAN’ connection instead of a ‘wireless’ connection ?), it’s probably best described as ‘temperamental’, this may be because my devices are usually connected to the router so it may be getting confused when I change the wireless to the Guest one (which starts with the same name but tags ‘-guest’ to the end). The settings allow you to restrict the number of uses on the guest WI-FI and you have to specify a password of between 4 to 11 characters. To access the guest network the user has to choose the network and then they should get an Web page prompting for the password.
All In all I don’t like this setup, if you have to have a password I’d prefer to be able to use a longer length ( to make it more secure) and I’d like
to be able to change the guest network
screen to something that welcomes and provides contact detail to friends, family and people that need emergency access (I believe that this is important in today’s connected world – More on this in a possible future post).

Now that I have that rant out of the road, What about the wireless it’s self. Well so far the router (acting in both router and bridge mode) has worked well with the wide range of devices connected to it. Now that I have a Virgin Media Router set up in ‘modem’ mode I can now connect it to my 1TerraByte USB drive, which I can now browse on my 13″ MacBook Pro (retina display) and saving files is easy, however best performance is when I’m connected to the 5GHz frequency (obviously).

The main issue I have is that, despite the drive being connected to the USB port and showing as USB2.0 and the MacBook Pro being on the 5MHz frequency, TimeMachine will not use the device as a backup. Numerous attempts see TimeMachine attempt a backup only to see it fail. Now since I’ve used this USB drive to perform TimeMachine backups when it is connected locally to the MacBook Pro, I suspect that the issue is with the Cisco Linksys router. My attempts
to resolve this issue have been futile as the support site advises that the firmware is the last supported and the software provided for Apple OSX only supports older versions of OSX (which is frustrating as my old imac couldn’t run the software as OSX was to old to be supported by the software ?) , these issues appear to be because I possess version 1.0 of the router. The later version of the router may support TimeMachine better, but I’m not in the position to be able to test this.

So what about the streaming media capabilities?
Well I’m glad to report these appear to be working better.

I can connect to the Streaming media capabilities of the Cisco router using my iPhone 5 ( using the Twonky app, Twonky Beam app, Media Connect or FlexPlayer apps ) which will play back M4V files created using iMovie (it still
has issues with movies ripped via handbrake, Apple iTunes purchased movies or TV shows all of which are considerably larger [?]), Music files (MP3 and M4A [iTunes]) and photos.

So, from my testing it looks like streaming works but is still buggy on Apple devices.

Since the router I have is the original V1 and CiscoLinksys

iPhone ideas

Further to my posting on what I would like to see in the next iOS release, I have spotted rumours about Apple allegedly approaching their Apple store staff for “out of this world” ideas for the next iPhone.

So what would I like to see?

Ability to project images. This could be used to show pictures and films at locations where there isn’t an Apple TV. The problem with this is one of the camcorder companies already used this idea (fairly unsuccessfully I believe), Also there are a lot of companies providing this as an add on for the iPhone and it may use a lot of power?!

I’d love a Virtual ‘floating’ keyboard to allow more space (would work with the iOS concept) for typing but still allowing you to read what you had typed. This would be really handy for filling in forms on websites using Pages and stuff like editing LinkedIn and WordPress postings :-). The alternative would be the laser keyboard which has been around for some time ( or keyboard keys are beamed into a work surface from the phone and it detects which key you are pressing).

For those of you that have read my posting on the future of IT will not be surprised by: 3D display and the ability to take and record 3D pictures. Think of all the extra you could see in 3D. I’m sure I read that there was a camera sensor that could record different angles when taking a picture, and the detail was supposedly really good despite having a low megapixel sensor.

This brings me to an issue with all phone cameras, they are rubbish when taking photos or movies at a music gig. Considering that Apple have always had a link to music (from the early fights with Apple Corp when Apple added sound and the sosumi sound). So why can’t we take really good gig pics and videos? Maybe the sensor I mentioned above may help or maybe it’s because the sensors can’t handle the variation in light produced at gigs (ie dark hall, bright spots in the acts and strobe / light effects flashed at the audience to
enhance the atmosphere.) There have been some recent TV adverts comparing the Nokia Lumia to the iPhone and other smart phones, these adverts compare the pictures taken in dark conditions so this gives me the impression there is a desire for a phone with a sensor that can handle varied light conditions when taking videos and photos.

I’m sure I’ll add more to this
list as I consider the issue(s) further.. keep checking back people..