Friday, 8 April 2016

Adobe Slate for storytelling

I've recently discovered Adobe Slate, their new blogging/web platform. I guess its their attempt to answer to the dominance of WordPress in the blogging world. 

After having a read over a couple of Slate posts I'm really impressed by the way it looks and feels. The pages feel light and fast. Colours and images can change as you scroll down the page with sections of the layout opening up to reveal an image underneath as you scroll by.

I haven't had time to play with it yet but first stumbled on it by reading Grappling with life, The Scottish wrestler Bette Noire's blog about preparing to return to wrestle in Japan. I was really impressed with the feel of the posts and how the page responded as I scrolled down. I liked the way the background images appeared as I read through.

Another one worth a quick look is Spirit Chasing which tracks the writer as they follow the Vulcan XH558 on its last flights across the UK. A different subject to the first but a similar feel, with maps and large photo's appearing as you scroll through the post.

Slate feels as thought it would be fairly straightforward to use and get a simple but polished result without having to spend too much time on it, although not having tried it yet I can't be sure. It certainly gives the posts I've looked at quite a slick and professional feel. The Adobe page has links to lot more examples and there is an iPad app too. They pitch it as the ultimate story telling tool and it certainly seems to be one of the main contenders to the traditional Blogger or WordPress routes.

Let me know if you have used Slate already, or if you have seen any great posts running on it.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Google Cardboard - Quick first impressions

A quick review of my first five minutes with Google Cardboard.

I decided to buy a Google cardboard kit off eBay recently as a novelty extra for our daughters birthday. She enjoys roller coaster videos and I thought she might like watching them on this either in one of the Virtual reality apps, or the YouTube 360 video's.

Google cardboard, if you haven't heard of it is a viewer which lets you slot your phone into it and then access a VR world of specially designed apps and videos. It uses side by side video to create a notion of 3D and your phones gyroscopic sensors to track your head motion. 

You can experience a similar version if this by visiting YouTube's 360 Video channel on your smartphone and them moving your handset around to see the full video view, or on your PC by panning with your mouse. 

On first impressions after spending five minutes putting it together I'm really impressed. Ok the cardboard nature of the viewer makes it a bit basic however I'm sure that if its getting used regularly we will move up from the £3.50 basic one to one of the more comfortable and sturdy looking plastic ones that are about £15.00 

Our daughter watched the demo video and was really impressed. It was great as a bystander watching her looking around and seeing her reacting to what was being shown on screen. I've had a quick play with the menu's and the Google Earth viewer for a minute or two and thought it was great. I have downloaded a couple of VR games from the Playstore but haven't had a chance to try them yet.

I will be posting a more detailed review once i have had some time to fully play with the functions however even on first impressions i would urge anyone to spend a few pounds and buy a cardboard kit from eBay and try it themselves. You won't be disappointed.

Has anyone already been using Google Cardboard, if so what are you thoughts? Are there any killers apps or videos to try out with it?

Friday, 5 February 2016

Broadband for Business and home workers

The recent BT Broadband outage which affected tens of thousands of home and business users this week brings internet access back to the forefront.

If you are a Business or someone who's job is internet based it is is essential that you have some fail-over in your internet connectivity.

As more and more job roles or project outcomes rely on information being issued online, whether by email, submissions to a portal, or electronic ordering and tracking, it is often imperative that this is done by a certain deadline.

Whilst some situations will allow for flexibility in this and people will understand if you have 'internet issues' others such as payroll or tax related functions, or issuing of contract specific project information may not be so flexible.

Both in my business life and on a general basis I would recommend that if your work relies on the ability to send or recive information online, to a deadline, you must have a backup connection.

In the UK that would usually be a combination of a BT Broadband Service and one from another supplier. Take care to ensure that your secondary supplier is not simply a re-branded BT service otherwise it's not really a backup. A combination of something like BT and Virgin would be a good option, especially if you can have both services on Fibre connections for the speed benefits that brings. 

Most modern business routers will be able to support dual connections. They can automatically switch traffic in the even of one connection failing, and manage the bandwidth between the connections to ensure the best service. 

Having two connections means if there is a broadband outage on one service you should still be able to work, send emails and get that document issue in by its deadline.  

Depending on budget you can either have two high spec connections or keep the backup service on a basic package. The main thing is to have one, the small additional cost to keep operational during an outage will quickly pay for itself.