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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Fake the Weather - App Review


Life's been a bit serious recently, as have the App reviews.

Fake the Weather is a nifty little App that enables you to choose your weather forecast for any location.

This is ideal for 'convincing' others to either go, or not go, somewhere.

Remember though, it's just for fun.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
You enter the information for the required place and choose from a variety of weather backgrounds. You can have it snowing in Rio, or equatorially hot on a mountain (or whatever takes your fancy). It is very easy to use.

Cost
It's free.

Indispensability
This is just for amusement.

Dependability
It always works, although it is unlikely your weather forecast will be accurate.

Security
No issues… unless you upset the wrong person.



ACIDS Test Rating:
I can't rate it 5 or you won't take me seriously!


To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

You can get Support here and the iPad App here.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Email security

We are all born as innocent babies; life then makes us less naïve. For some strange reason, what becomes our inherent suspicion all too often does not extend to the Internet.

 

If you met someone in the street for the first time and they promised you the world, it is unlikely that you would continue the conversation. A polite 'goodbye' may well be the best that you could manage.

 

On the Internet, we are plagued by unbelievable promises... and the reason we are is that many people fall into the (honey) trap. Hopefully, none of you are being tempted by the 'please help me transfer these funds' kind of emails; these were prevalent a few years ago but seem to be few and far between nowadays.

 

Whatever security you set up for your email, it will not be perfect. If you are too draconian in your approach and automatically delete all 'unwanted' email using some spam filter, you will undoubtedly also (occasionally) miss a genuine message from a friend or colleague.

 

So, here are a few suggestions for protecting yourself whilst not missing out on genuine communications.

 

  • Set up a spam filter. There are lots of free ones available for all operating systems; just Google 'spam filter' and make your choice. I use SpamBayes which has a version for many email clients, is easy to use, free and is trained by you (believe me, this is a big advantage; would you let someone else train your dog?).
  • Some emails are obviously spam, even if they get through your spam filter. Do not delete them immediately (yes, I really meant to write that). Firstly, tell your spam filter that the email is junk. That way, you are training your filter.
  • Just because an email seems to come from a 'trusted' email address does not mean that it comes from who you think it does; spammers can (and do) hijack email addresses.
  • Do not ever open an attachment to an email unless it is from a trusted source, on a topic that you expect (the email, that is), and you have no reason to be suspicious. If it fails any of these criteria, treat it as spam, before you infect your PC with a virus… and can then spend a frustrating time deleting it.
  • If you receive an email asking you for personal information (including passwords), do not reply. Instead, forward it to the organisation from which it purports to originate, asking them whether it is genuine or spam (it will possibly be fairly obvious so, couch your message in appropriate terms).
  • If there is a link in an email you receive do not click on it until you are sure of the provenance. Just because you see 'Facebook' in blue does not mean that the link is back to Facebook (or whatever). Hover over the link to see the target, or copy the link to your notepad to see where it is taking you. Do not be satisfied that the target site is genuine just because the word 'Facebook' is part of the path.

Spammers are ever more resourceful and the 'quality' of their mailings is ever improving… be very careful and remember one golden rule:

 

If it looks too good to be true then, that's exactly what it is… untrue.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

iOS 6 is now available

This information is provided by Apple:


This update contains over 200 new features, including the following:

  • Maps
    • Apple-designed, vector-based maps
    • Turn-by-turn navigation with spoken directions on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (2nd and 3rd generation)
    • Real-time traffic information
    • Flyover for photo-realistic, interactive 3D views of major metropolitan areas on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (5th generation)
    • Local search results with Yelp photos, ratings, reviews and available deals
    • Siri integration for requesting directions and finding places along a route
  • Siri improvements
    • Sport: scores, player stats, game schedules, teamsheets and league standings for American football, baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey
    • Films: trailers, showtimes, reviews and facts
    • Restaurants: reservations, reviews, photos and information
    • Send a Tweet
    • Post on Facebook
    • App launch
    • Eyes Free in supported cars
    • Local search available in Siri-supported countries (availability may be limited during initial rollout)
    • Additional country and language support for Canada (English and Canadian French), China (Mandarin), Hong Kong (Cantonese), Italy (Italian), Korea (Korean), Mexico (Spanish), Spain (Spanish), Switzerland (Italian, French, German), Taiwan (Mandarin), US (Spanish)
    • Supported on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (5th generation)
  • Facebook integration
    • Single sign-on from Settings
    • Post from Photos, Safari, Maps, App Store, iTunes, Game Center, Notification Centre and Siri
    • Add location and choose audience for any post
    • View up-to-date Facebook profile photos and contact information in Contacts
    • View Facebook events and birthdays in Calendar
    • Like content and see your friends' Likes in App Store and iTunes Store
  • Shared Photo Streams
    • Share selected photos with the people you choose
    • Friends can view shared photos in Photos app, iPhoto and Apple TV
    • Friends can like and make comments on individual photos 
  • Passbook
    • One place for boarding passes, store cards, film tickets and other passes
    • Barcode display for boarding flights, buying coffee, getting into films and other actions
    • Passes displayed on Lock Screen based on time or location
    • Passes can be automatically updated
    • Supported on iPhone and iPod touch
  • FaceTime improvements
    • FaceTime over mobile network support for iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (3rd generation)
    • Receive FaceTime calls, sent to your iPhone number, on your iPad and iPod touch
  • Phone improvements
    • Do Not Disturb to suppress incoming calls and notifications
    • 'Reply with message' option when declining a call
    • 'Remind me later' option based on time or location when declining a call
  • Mail improvements
    • VIP mailbox to quickly access mail from important people
    • Flagged email mailbox
    • Insert photos and videos when composing email
    • Open password-protected Office docs
    • Pull down to refresh mailboxes
    • Per-account signatures
  • Safari improvements
    • iCloud tabs to see open pages on all your devices
    • Offline Reading List
    • Photo upload support
    • Full-screen landscape view on iPhone and iPod touch
    • Smart app banners
    • JavaScript performance improvements
  • App Store and iTunes Store improvements
    • Updated store design
    • iTunes Preview history
    • Complete my series
    • Complete my album
  • Game Center improvements
    • Challenge friends to beat high scores and achievements
    • Post high scores and achievements to Facebook and Twitter
    • Friend recommendations based on your Facebook friends
  • Accessibility improvements
    • Guided Access to limit device to one app or restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen
    • VoiceOver integration with Maps, AssistiveTouch and Zoom
    • Support for Made for iPhone Hearing Aids for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S
  • Improved privacy controls for Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos and data shared over Bluetooth
  • Reminders can be reordered in the Reminders app
  • Custom vibrations for alerts on iPhone
  • Clock app for iPad
  • Clock alarm with song
  • Search all fields in Contacts
  • Automatic film mode for improved video sound quality
  • Definitions of a selected word for Chinese, French, German and Spanish
  • New keyboard layouts for French, German, Turkish, Catalan, Arabic and Icelandic
  • Keyboard shortcuts shared across devices via iCloud
  • Bluetooth MAP support
  • Global network proxy for HTTP
  • Features for China
    • Baidu web search
    • Sina Weibo integration
    • Share videos to Tudou
    • Share videos to Youku
    • Improved text input for handwriting and Pinyin
  • Bug fixes

Some features may not be available in all countries or all areas. Please visit this website for more details:

http://www.apple.com/ios/feature-availability

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

MagicalPad - App Review


If you have ideas, and especially if you have a grasshopper mind, keeping track of your 'light bulb' moments can be a problem.

If you're working on more than one 'project' at a time then, not only do you need to write down your ideas but you then will want to put them into some order with all the other ones. Enter MagicalPad to the rescue. Just double tap the screen and enter your idea (or at least a mnemonic), and do this as many times as you want. When you are in a more 'planning' moment, you can look at all your great thoughts and easily organise them. You simply drag and drop them wherever they need to be and automatically create relationships.

It is Mind Mapping made easy, as it ought to be.

An added bonus is that MagicalPad syncs with Evernote and Dropbox.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
Whenever you open the App, it automatically loads the last file you were working on (which is probably a good thing) but (a slight niggle) there is always a pop up screen with all the files that you need to tap to make go make it  away; it takes up valuable screen real estate. I am also not too keen on the fact that text notes (which could be quite long) are handled in the same way as headings; this can make the outline look messy.

Cost
This is a low cost App and worth every penny.

Indispensability
If you are not used to writing down notes and ideas then, this is not for you... unless you change your approach, in which case you will use this App every day.

Dependability
It works fine but, I suggest you read the manual (RTFM), especially concerning exporting to Evernote, Dropbox, and Google docs.

Security
Unless you export information, it is only on your iPad so, there is no security issue... unless you mislay your iPad



ACIDS Test Rating:
 Very good App but slightly flawed


To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

You can get Support here and the iPad App here.

Friday, 14 September 2012

MyPad+ - App Review

 

MyPad+ gives you a different way of viewing Facebook (for one thing without the dreaded timeline), and keeps you up to date with your friends, sort of (more about this anon).

 

MyPad+ allows you to post to Facebook and/or Twitter simultaneously which is a definite plus. There are innumerable (OK, 6 at the last count) versions of the App, which can be a little confusing. There are also the dreaded 'in App purchases' to allow you to have different skins.

 

There is an irritating listing of 'trending Apps' which tends to consist mainly of games; not my cup of tea at all.

 

If you're into Instagram (yet another way to share photos), the direct posting may well also interest you.

Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
Individual postings are expanded in a window to the right of the main screen, and are easily collapsed. This is preferable to the Facebook interface (IMHO). It really is the joint availability of Facebook and Twitter which makes the App worthwhile.

Cost
The App is normally low cost but, at the moment is completely free! Although I'm not a fan of changing prices, if you get the App now, you cannot complain about the price; an excellent time to experiment.

Indispensability
You could use Facebook and Twitter instead, or another solution.

Dependability
This really is the biggest bugbear with this App. It does not display all posts. If you log in to your Facebook account directly, you could well see posts that do not appear within MyPad+. I have attempted to find some common denominator but, so far, have not managed to 'predict' which posts will be hidden. This means that although all your posts are made, some postings from your friends could well elude you.


Security
In order to have access to Facebook and/or Twitter, you need to let MyPad+ have access to your account(s). Although I am sure that the developers have their controls in place, you need to be aware that your user name and password will be available to another entity.


ACIDS Test Rating:

 Worth trying



To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

 

You can the iPad App here.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Awesome Note HD - App Review


The Notes application that comes with iOS on the iPhone/iPad is fine but, quite limited.

Awesome Note HD is the ideal replacement for Notes, as it addresses many of the shortcomings of the included App. Notes can be taken in the style that you require and are based around four standard types: normal, to-do, anniversary, and diary. In practice you can do pretty well as you please, including adding photographs and drawings. Your work can then be neatly organised in folders.

The real beauty (and the included templates are very pretty and, more importantly, usable) is that Awesome Note HD integrates with Evernote, so your notes are always up to date, everywhere, including on your PC.

The latest version of Awesome Note HD (3.10) has just been released. The main 'enhancement' is that automatic syncing is now supported. Automatic syncing has the advantage, obviously, that you do not need to remember to sync your latest changes. On the other hand, there are also two substantial drawbacks. Firstly, if you inadvertently delete something (text or a file), you will also have deleted it on Evernote and, as it seems that the App constantly checks the status of your updating, the battery life of your iPad will be considerably shortened. I suggest that, if you use this facility, you do so with the utmost care... or continue to 'manually' sync, with an even prettier icon that before.


Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
It is obvious that a lot of thought and work has gone into the design of this App; it was very worthwhile. Everything is designed to make it look like a note, but neater. The fact that it also supports pictures and drawings makes it easy to annotate photographs (or anything else); brilliant.

Cost
The App is inexpensive and absolutely worth every penny.

Indispensability
I have Awesome Note HD as an App in the bottom tray of my home screen; you can't get more indispensable than that.

Dependability
Awesome Note HD has always worked. The only time there has been an issue, it was nothing to do with Awesome Note HD (not Evernote either, for that matter), just that one needs to remember that to sync with Evernote the folder needs to start with "[aNote]";  for it to sync, otherwise it will not. This is actually an advantage as you will not want everything syncing.

Security
All the information is on your device (s) so, you are in control. As far as syncing to Evernote is concerned, this is covered here.


ACIDS Test Rating:
 You've just got to have it!


To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

You can get Awesome Note Support here and the iPad App here.

Friday, 7 September 2012

PDF Expert - App Review


PDF (Portable Document Format) files are everywhere. It is used as an excellent way to share information across platforms and has been around for a long time (17 years is an eternity in computing terms). PDF is also an open standard (ISO 32000), which means that there are no barriers to entry.

The beauty of PDF files is that they look like original documents but are also searchable. This means that you can find text within a file, without needing to read the whole document.

One of the myriad of used is for manuals; imagine having all your manuals, not just for electronic items but, household appliances, garden equipment, whatever, all in one place. Not only can you find them but, you can find the information you are looking for within them.

I'm not attempting to sell you on the idea of PDF (with over 150 million PDF files publicly available, the jobs already been done).

There are loads of PDF readers for iOS; some better than others. The difference with PDF Expert is that it allows you to read (obviously) and annotate PDF documents, including highlighting, making notes, and drawing. You can even add a page but not create a new blank document. I am so impressed by this App that there is a workaround to this; here is a link to a blank page for you to download (with an option to also have a confidential stamp).

Have you ever been irritated by someone (invariably a financial institution) sending you a PDF form to complete and then telling you that you cannot save the completed form; you need to print it out and then keep a copy for your records. PDF Expert allows you to complete the form and save it, and even sign it.

A word of caution though; the versions for the iPad and iPhone are not the same. The iPad version is the one with bells and whistles.


Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
The aesthetics of individual documents are, obviously, nothing to do with PDF Expert. As far as the App is concerned, it is as one would expect a listing of folders/files, with the option of picking any one (as well as moving) and then opening in a whole window.
One small word of caution though when using Dropbox (and that is very much a cornerstone of making this a killer App); remember to make sure that (if you modify a document), you resync to Dropbox.

Cost
It's not cheap but, in my opinion, is well worth the cost.

Indispensability
If you want to have all your PDF documents in one place and be able to annotate them then, this is the only choice. You should use this in conjunction with Dropbox which will ensure that you have the current version both on your iPad and your PC.

Dependability
Works 100% of the time (so far).

Security
As far as the PDF Expert App is concerned, the potential issue is that you store your signature and then leave your iPad lying around. As far as synchronising with Dropbox is concerned, this is covered here.



ACIDS Test Rating:
 You've just got to have it!


To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

You can get PDF Expert Support here and the iPad App here.

Monday, 3 September 2012

iSMSControl - App Review

 

Apple, who are masters of the GUI (Graphical User Interface) seem to have had an unusually lackadaisical approach when they developed the Messaging application for the iPhone. It has been consistently poor for so long, we can only assume that they have a long term plan, or that too few users have made representations... possibly because we were all convinced that it would be 'fixed' in the next release.

 

The resident App allows one to choose the recipient of a text and a tiny letterbox to enter a message, with the rest of the real estate left as wasteland.

 

iSMSControl addresses this shortcoming by using the available space for you to see the message you are writing. An additional feature is the ability to keep track of the number of SMS sent in your billing period. If you have 100 'included' (or however many) messages in your monthly mobile plan then, it is easy to ensure that you do not accidentally go over the pre-set limit.

 


Now for the ACIDS test:

Aesthetics
The huge plus is that the available space is dedicated to entering the text of your message. Apart from that, it's not pretty but, it works. The method for 'cheating' the SMS counter is also a little crude but again, it is effective. There is also a warning each time you 'send' a message that "Apple allows SMS sending only from the 'standard' dialog"; you need to 'OK' this message before proceeding.

Cost
This is a nominal cost App. If it stops you going over your monthly allowance a couple of times, it will have paid for itself.

Indispensability
It's really a question of how much you accept a silly little letter box to enter SMS.

Dependability
iSMSControl has never let me down, so no complaints on this score.

Security
There are no security issues with this App; it uses the Apple provided messaging system.



ACIDS Test Rating:

Very good App but slightly flawed



To find out how the ACIDS Test works, click here.

 

You can get the iPhone App here.