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Dec 16, 2010- Rainy Day Gift Guide: iPad App...

A few months ago, RainyDayMagazine was accepted into the Adobe Beta program for their new tools for publishing digital magazines for the iPad. A few other publishers (Wired, Martha Stewart, etc...) have published a version of their magazines using these new Adobe tools. The tools are not yet available to the general public, but they are robust enough for production use.

In the process of learning how to use the Adobe tools, we took the opportunity to put together a little Gift Guide based on this month's articles. The RDM 2010 Gift Guide app just got approved by Apple for distribution in the iTunes App Store. The app is free and can be download now. You can find it by... [more]-Holiday Gift Guide: iPad App


Nov 9,2010- Other Tablets...

It has been six months since the launch of the Apple iPad, and every time a new tablet is introduced by another company Apple's dominance of the market gets a little stronger. We are not sure why companies like HP, Sony, and Microsoft are struggling to come up with an answer to Apple's iPad. OK, that is not entirely true; we know why. Why even BOTHER introducing something if it is just going to strengthen the competition's position?

Take Kno (above) for instance. This company has what, on the surface, seems like a really cool idea: build a tablet targeted for the billion-dollar textbook market. However, at $899, it is DOA! A folding dual-screen setup will immediately be compared to a laptop, not a tablet, especially in that price range. While it may be an awesome digital textbook, it won't... [more]-Other Tablets


Oct 29,2010- Interactive Test Issue...

This is the last installment of our brief tour of the Adobe Digital Publishing Solution. Yesterday, we worked through Adobe's tutorial on putting together a single page using their DPS tools. Now that we are confident that all of the pieces of the process are functioning properly, we are ready to tackle a second and more challenging tutorial.

Today, we will show the workflow involved in assembling an issue with more interactive (slideshows, video, etc...) elements. Also, instead of just transferring the issue directly to the iPad, we'll upload it to Adobe's magazine server and download it wirelessly using the iPad. As with the single page issue, the layout of the various component were done using... [more]-Adobe DPS: Interactive Test Issue

Oct 28,2010-Digital Publishing Solution...

We've spent the last few days getting the pieces of Adobe's Digital Publishing Solution (DPS) downloaded, installed, and running. The DPS is Adobe's set of tools for publishing interactive magazines for the iPad. It is currently in beta testing and is scheduled to be available in Q2 of 2011. The following are the main components of the DPS workflow:

  • InDesign CS5
  • Adobe AIR 2.x
  • Interactive Overlay Creator (beta)
  • Digital Content Bundler (beta)
  • iPad Preview Tool (beta)

This set of tools was developed by Adobe to enable magazine publishers to leverage their print material for the digital tablet market. The basic idea is, with a little extra work, publishers can add value (interactivity, links, etc...), repackage their print material, and deploy to a host of current and future digital devices...all without having to do any programming. It is an attractive proposition. We want to see if Adobe's solution will only work for the big publishing houses or will it also work for the slightly smaller operations like RainyDayMagazine.

The DPS workflow is based around the latest Creative Suite InDesign application. While InDesign CS5 is the main component of the workflow, there are a few other pieces which help connect everything together. One of the "glue" components is... [more]-Adobe DPS: Test Issue


Oct 27,2010- Adobe CS5 QuickStart...

The tools for digital publishing have evolved quite a bit over the past thirty years. At the beginning, PageMaker, Quark Xpress, and Word were the tools of the trade. It was possible for one person to be an expert on all of these applications. Granted, the digital portion of the entire publishing workflow was was limited, but still it was possible to learn it all. The suite of applications used to create, layout, and manage the digital publishing process keeps growing. Today, just familiar with a few of them is difficult enough, being an expert in every application necessary to produce a digital magazine is next to impossible.

Keeping current with the updates to the applications we currently use (Dreamweaver, Photoshop) is challenging enough. With our venture into publishing for the iPad, we will now need to get up to speed on a component of the Adobe CS suite called InDesign. It came as a part of our Adobe CS4 package. As the application is for laying out pages for printing, we never even bothered to install it. However, now that Adobe has extended InDesign CS5 for... [more]-Adobe CS5: QuickStart


Oct 26,2010- iPad Magazine Publishing...

The iPad has changed a lot of things in the six months since its introduction. A whole cottage industry of game and utility apps has sprung up for the device. Companies are jockeying for position around which technologies will be/should be/never will be supported on it. Publishing houses are scrambling to understand what the iPad will mean for books, magazine, and the web.

Magazine publishers are especially interested in the iPad as a platform. The tablet form factor is a natural fit for reading magazines. The iPad/AppStore combo is especially suited as it can allow subscribers to connect to the web, purchase, and download new issues. Sites such as Wikipedia and TED have iPad apps which enable users to view their content in a magazine-ish format. Flipboard has even made it possible for iPad users to create their own personal magazines using content from Facebook, twitter updates, and other feeds. The biggest splash this week was... [more]-iPad Magazine Publishing


Aug 17,2010 - AA iPhone app

Being able to print boarding passes at home or at the office has made the airline check-in process a lot more convenient and less stressful for travelers. By shifting the printing and paper cost to the consumer, it also enables airlines to reduce costs. It has been one of the few "win-win" situations with airline travel.

Recently, AA introduced an improvement which we had a chance to try out on our trip back to Boston. It is an option available to tech-savvy travelers and may make the boarding process even better. How? By eliminating the printing of boarding passes altogether. For those with an iPhone or an iPod Touch, AA has released a free app which enables a passenger to... [more]-AA iPhone App


Aug 10,2010 - Wikipedia Discover

Next to Google Search, Wikipedia is probably one of the more useful resources available on the Internet. This online encyclopedia has over 3,000,000 entries, is maintained and edited completely by volunteers, and is used by millions of people everyday. Best of all, it is completely free...free of charge, free of advertising, free of the "noise" which plagues so many other sources of information. It is difficult to imagine how it could be made better.

Well, an iPad app call Discover has just kicked Wikipedia's usefulness up a few notches. The app is free and is available on iTunes. It is a viewer which takes the information on Wikipedia and... [more]-Wikipedia Discover


Aug 4,2010 - iPad connection kit

We have been using the iPad since the day it was available. It has been no secret that we think it is a game changer. However, it does not mean we think the iPad is perfect. There are things we wish Apple had done differently, made better, or included. One of the things we wish Apple had included is a standard USB port or an SD card reader. When in the field, were hoping we would be able to use the iPad as a digital lightbox. The iPad's size, weight, and long battery life would have made it a perfect tool for quickly checking the quality of an image without having to lug around a laptop. However, there are no built-in mechanism for attaching a camera to or insert a CF card into the iPad. The only way to "talk" to the iPad is via the optional Camera Connection Kit accessory.

Since the kit is optional, the least Apple could have done was make the Camera Connection Kit more widely stocked at launch time. After waiting months for the kit to become available, we were finally told that we needed to order it through the online store. When we did order it, the wait was another six weeks. How difficult could it be to... [more]- iPad connection kit: FirstLook


Aug 3,2010 - iPhone prototyping software

Ask any house builder and they will tell you, don't put the drywall up before you do the plumbing and electrical. The advice holds true for software as well. Unless you have worked out the basic structure of your app, don't waste time with precise button placement, color selection, or the creation of a more realistic prototype. The pencil and paper method is the fastest way to test out a lot of user-interface ideas, narrow in on a direction, and work out the flow of an app. It is only when the ideas have been fully fleshed out on paper should one consider taking them to the next level.

There was a time when the only techniques used for making prototypes were screen grabs and "cut & paste" with a drawing program. Now there are many different software tools to help create native-looking software mock-ups. Some of them will even allow button presses, bring up new screens, and simulate other actions. We have selected a few of these prototyping tools to examine in detail. These tools fall into three general categories: visuals only, simulators, code generators. One workflow would be to use Photoshop to create a realistic looking screen, download it to the... [more]- iPhone prototyping software


Aug 2,2010 - Portable prototyping studio

Last week we posted an article on iPhone user interface prototyping. Our conclusion was that an analog approach was the quickest way to approach the initial task of designing the UI. We had assembled a few tools specifically designed for such an effort and were eager to give things a try. Fortunately for us, the weather had turned a comfortable 76º in Boston over the weekend. We thought it would be great opportunity head out to a cafe and put some of our UI thoughts to paper. We started looking around the office for a suitable carrying case for all the stuff (stencils, pads, etc...). However, none of our art portfolios, laptop bags, or iPad cases were right for the job. They were either too small, too bulky, or too big. It then struck us that an item which we had just received for this month's head-to-head iPad case review would make a perfect carrier for all of the prototyping gear.

The leather case is from M-Edge, a maker of things fashionable and protective for eReaders. Unlike many iPad covers and cases, this one was designed for carrying an iPad along with some other... [more]- Portable prototyping studio


July 30,2010 -iPhone prototyping...

Designing and prototyping is a big part of creating great software applications. Skimping on the design step in hope of shortening the development cycle is a typical rookie-project-manager mistake and a guaranteed way to totally trash a project schedule.

For the past few weeks, we have been working our way through the large collection of videos on iPhone development from past Apple World Wide Developer Conferences. The take-away message from those videos is design, refine, design...before ever consider putting down any code. This we already knew and are not surprised to see it being so strongly emphasized by Apple. Developing for the iPhone is... [more]-iPhone UI prototyping


July 14,2010 - iPhone programming books...

"What do I need to get started?" This is the question we get most often from readers regarding iPhone development. The answer is pretty simple: an Intel-based Mac computer (PowerPC CPU is not supported by the SDK), the iPhone development environment (FREE from Apple), and a few good "introduction to iPhone programming" books. We have looked at a few programming books in the past, some of which were written before Apple had released the iPhone SDK. These were useful when there was no "official" development platform from Cupertino and you had to jailbreak the iPhone to do any programming for it. With the release of the official iPhone SDK, though, these older books are out-of-date, but can still be illuminating. We thumb through them every once in a while to remind ourselves how much easier it is programming with Xcode and the iPhone SDK!

When we think "programming books," the name O'Reilly usually comes to mind. This may be because O'Reilly has been a publisher of technology-related books for as long as we can remember. It may also be because of the iconic covers of their books. Whatever the reason, we find most of the iPhone programming books in our collection are from O'Reilly. The basic ones (Allan, Hockenberry) cover the fundamentals of how to get started, from setting up the Xcode development enviroment to applying for admission to Apple's App Store. However, by necessity, none of the books can... [more]- iPhone programming books


July 8,2010 - TapWorthy Apps:Emerald Sequoia...

The App Store has a huge collection of timer apps, clock apps, and apps which count down in every imaginable way. We use them all the time, but we usually don't launch them just to look at them, until now. When it was suggested that we should check out Emerald Sequoia, we have to admit that we did not put that suggestion on the top of the "do-it-now" pile. Then we heard that Emerald Sequoia released an amazing app for the iPad. Still, we didn't get it. What could be so fascinating about another clock application on the iPhone? Then we actually took a look at their apps.

The guys (Bill and Steve) of Emerald Sequoia are old Mac programmers that have taken what they have learned from their years of software development and used it to create one of the most visually satisfying iPhone apps we have seen in a while. If you love wristwatches, we don't have to explain this app any further. If wristwatches don't do it for you, we won't bother trying to convince you. However, because we were talking about how to create "tapworthy" iPhone apps yesterday, we felt it appropriate to discuss the... [more] -TapWorthy apps: Emerald Sequoia


July 7,2010 - TapWorthy ...

It was 1994 and the world had just been introduced to the Newton MessagePad. The Newton was a handheld personal digital assistant (PDA) which was supposed to help you manage your email, to-dos, and other bits and pieces of your day. Some of us had the opportunity to work on mobile apps for the Newton in those early days. We remember spending many a night arguing back and forth over what kinds of applications would make sense to offer for the MessagePad. We debated passionately on whether we should be making applications more powerful or simpler (and easier) to use, and whether to add that "awesome advanced feature" or to "keep it pure." We also had intense discussions regarding how to make the best use of the smaller screen.

In the ensuing sixteen years, mobile device designers have tried a lot of things, learned a lot of lessons, and have created many successors to the Newton MessagePad (Palm, PocketPC, Blackberry, et cetera). The latest winner is clearly Apple's iPhone, with its high resolution multi-touch screen, long battery life, and video-conferencing cameras. What we find interesting as software designers is... [more] -TapWorthy


July 1,2010 - Finished Chapter 6...

It has been a while since we updated our progress with the HeadFirst iPhone Development guide. We have been working through the examples from Chapter 4 through Chapter 6. The going was a lot slower due to the constant "Would you review this? Should we review that?" interruptions. The Holiday weekend will give us some "quiet time" to focus and to consolidate some of the work we have done so far. However, here a quick summary of where we are.

We have completed Chapter 4-6. These chapters were interesting from several perspectives. It finally felt like we had learned enough to build something that might actually be useful. OK, minimally useful, but still, it was a hopeful sign. We learned a bit more about debugging in the iPhone environment: how to set breakpoint, look at variable, step through code. We also got more exposure to... [more] -Finished with Chapter 6


June 02,2010- Multiple monitors ...

We were distracted by the flurry of iPad-related stuff coming into the office and neglected our iPhone (and now iPad) programming studies. However, the Memorial Day weekend gave us some focused time to work on the last bit of Chapter 3 and to begin Chapter 4 (multiple view apps).

The various teaching techniques of this book is starting to have their effects. Tons of graphics keep our brains engaged. The conversational style helps us pay attention to the "dialog." The various challenges, exercises, questions, and activities are surprisingly... [more] -Multi-monitors


May 11,2010- iPad Covers ...

An iPad cover is one accessory that many new owners are probably considering for their newly acquired tablet. A few weeks back we showed readers how to get by with what they already had around the office, including how to make a cover out of an old composition notebook. Today we'll take a look at a few commercially available options for the less DIY-inclined. There are a LOT of iPad covers on the market. We are going to cover a few general ones in this write-up. It will be basic enough to serve as a guideline for evaluation covers for different needs. We'll continue to review specific covers when we find ones which are unique, innovative, or in some way worthy of consideration.

We look for three things in an iPad cover: the kind of protection it offers, whether it makes the iPad easier to carry/transport, and if it has any feature that makes the iPad easier/more comfortable to use.

First up are the basic covers. They offer padded protection for iPads while in transit. These covers should be light, slim enough to fit into a backpack or briefcase, and allow quick access and easy removal of the iPad. One case which fits the bill are the sleeves from Slappa. Slappa sleeves have a nylon outer shell that shields against moisture, an outside pocket for cords and such, and is... [more] -iPad Covers


May 7,2010- Navigating a Touchscreen UI ...

The iPad is a great example of how difficult it is for some folks embrace new/different things. For the first time in thirty years a new computer interface has been created, Nintendo PowerGlove, Wii controller, etc. notwithstanding. In recent weeks, we have seem many attempts to "convert" the iPad into a portable laptop. Not only do we see these efforts as folly and doomed to fail, we believe they are a hindrance to the development of a better computing interface.

The multi-touch user interface made a huge splash at the TED conference on February 2006 in Monterey CA. A different and more limited version of multi-touch technology became widely available with the release of the first iPhone. With the iPad, Apple has pushed multi-touch interaction a few more steps toward general acceptance. Trying to make the iPad LOOK and WORK like a laptop is silly and the user experience will be frustrating. Besides showing a total lack of imagination, trying to remake the tablets into laptops will ultimately end in failure. Instead, we should be exploring and expanding the boundaries of the touch interface and the tablet form factor.

A touch-based user interface is very different from the mouse/pointer centric one. The concept of "hovering" does not exist in the multi-touch world (yet). This has created a host of problems for sites with... [more] -Navigating a Touchscreen UI


May 06,2010- The perfect tablet ...

Hardware companies think that writing software is easy (Sony) and software companies think that building hardware can't be that hard (Microsoft). Apple has been doing both as an integrated discipline for a few decades. Apple has created a culture that embraces both software and hardware, and replicating that culture is not as easy as some would think. This is the main reason why even though "tablet PCs" have been around for almost ten years, they never got out of their niche markets. Yes...they can do everything a regular laptop can do, but they are heavy, expensive, and have crappy battery life. The Apple iPad is the exact opposite of all of that. It can't replace a laptop, but it is light, inexpensive, and can last for days between charges.

What got us onto this topic was a recent discussion on a few blogs with some very knowledgeable folks. We were trading thoughts with some other posters about the HP Slate, HTC, JooJoo, and what our idea is of the "perfect tablet."

In the course of the discussion, the following transpired which we thought was worth sharing:

The challenge:

"OK, let's do this. I will compare my netbook against an iPad: HP Mini 110, $300, 10-inch screen, 1GB HDD, 1GB RAM, 1.66Ghz Atom, 3 usb ports, TV out, Various media card slots, Windows 7, Webcam, Keyboard, the ability to... [more] -Building the perfect tablet


April 26,2010- iPad Protection ...

The Apple iPad display is amazingly bright and viewable. The main reasons are the ipad's In-Plane Switching (IPS) LCD and its LED backlighting. The two technologies gave the iPad impressive brightness and a large 178º viewing angle. IPS was developed over ten years ago by Hitachi to address some inherent issues of LCDs: poor viewing angle, color inaccuracies. The advantages of LED backlighting are its low cost, long life, immunity to vibration, low operational voltage, and precise control over its intensity. The main drawback is that it requires more power than many other backlighting methods (ELP, CCFL, WF). Click on the various iPads in the image below to see the screen at increasingly obtuse angles to see what we mean.

Unlike a laptop screen, the iPad's screen was designed to touched. In order to keep the smudging to a minimum, the screen has a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating similar to the iPhone 3G. From the Apple pamphlet ... “iPad has an oleophobic coating on the screen; simply wipe iPad’s screen with a soft, lint-free cloth to remove oil left by your hands. The ability of this coating to... [more] -iPad Protection

April 23,2010- ePublishing for the iPad...

The project we completed last week was to take the 1000 Chinese characters and convert it into an eBook viewable on the iPad. Converting the collection of images into a Word file took us some time. We had to work out all of the steps and export formats. As there were 1000 different characters, getting one out of sequence would have made the error difficult to track down. However, once we got into the rhythm of workflow, we were able to convert that and the rest of the different calligraphy styles in no time.

When we were done, we had four different versions of the 1000 Character text. Something like this would have been quite difficult to do physically, but to publish it as an eBook, it was no sweat at all. [Permalink] -ePublishing for the iPad


April 16,2010- ePublishing for the iPad...

The iPad has sold more the 500,000 units since it went on sale two weeks ago. Its success has surprised even Apple, and it has pushed back the overseas release date of the iPad by a month to satisfy US demands. We have spent quite a few hours getting to know Version 1.0 of the Apple iPad. One thing is for certain, this device is a game-changer for ePublishers.

As both PDF and EPUB are standards, there are many ways to get documents into those formats. On the Mac, just about any text file can be converted to .pdf format via the "Save As PDF" command under the standard Print function. We have already shown how simple it is to convert a .pdf file into a EPUB file via CALIBRE. The process to create eBooks for the iPad is... [more] -ePublishing for the iPad


April 7,2010- Free iPad Apps ...

The iPhone has been a success in part because of the large number of third-party apps available for it. Likewise, the usefulness and ultimate success of the iPad (beyond the early adopters) will depend heavily on what developers create for this new form factor. We expect to see a flurry of activity now that the iPad is out "in the wild." We also expect the pace of app releases to snowball as we head into the Fall.

The iPad came with a set of standard apps:

  • Safari browser: Surfing the Web
  • Mail: email program
  • Photo: Image viewer/organizer
  • iPod: Music Player
  • Calendar: Time and Task organizer
  • Contacts: Addresses and Phone Numbers
  • Notes: Writing pad
  • Maps: Google Maps application
  • Videos: Movie player
  • YouTube: Clip viewer
  • iTunes: Find, buy, and download music
  • AppStore: Find, buy, and download iPad Apps
  • Settings: preferences for apps

At launch time, there were already over 3,000 apps written specifically for the iPad. The price of an iPad app is averaging a few dollars more than iPhone apps, although many of them are free. We scanned the AppStore and downloaded a bunch of free but promising-looking ones. We expect this set to change. As with anything free, some are worth the cost, some not so much (really, some of them we should be paid to use). We have culled the list and settled on a set which... [more] -Free iPad Apps

April 6,2010- iPad accessories you already have...

Whenever a new Apple gadget shows up on the market, what follows is an inevitable deluge of gadget-specific accessories. The iPad will be no different. It will spawn an entire ecosystem of iPad-specifc screen protectors, carrying cases, docks, extended battery packs, and attachments. However, well-gadgetized geeks may already have many of those accessories in-house. Yesterday we showed how a mouse pad could double nicely as an iPad stand. Today, we took a quick look around the RainyDayMagazine office and came up with half a dozen things which could be repurposed for the iPad. Some gear was relatively new, and some were surprisingly old and no longer actively used.

The mouse pad with a wrist rest worked as a stand because the friction of the pad kept the iPad from sliding. However, as the back of the iPad is curved, pretty much any soft wrist rest would work just as well as long as... [more] -iPad Accessories Your Already Have


April 5,2010- iPad FirstLook..

Now that our iPad has been unboxed we thought we would provide a quick tour of the unit and offer a few observations about the physical aspects of this device:

  • Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
  • Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
  • Depth: 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model
  • Display: 9.7-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch
  • Resolution: 1024-by-768-pixels at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
  • Dock connector port
  • 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
  • Built-in speaker and microphone

The frame is made from a single piece of aluminum. It is tapered out from the center to the edges, giving the iPad a much thinner overall appearance. It is not just a nice visual trick, the curve also makes the iPad more comfortable to hold. The first thing we noticed was that the feel of the iPad is much more substantial compared to that of the Amazon Kindle. The finish of the back is smooth but matte so fingerprints do not show. The glass of the LCD has an oil-resisting (oleophobic) coating to minimize the amount of fingerprints. This is not to say the... [more] -iPad FirstLook

April 4,2010

Our Apple iPad showed up late in the afternoon yesterday. We had a previous commitment for the evening so we had to wait to do the "unboxing," but, wow, the wait was worth it. We ordered the 16GB WiFi version of the iPad, which is the least expensive model of the iPad line. Many people consider it a risk to buy the first generation of anything, especially if it is something completely new to the market. In our "previous" life, we were Newton MessagePad developers, so being on the bleeding edge of technology is not uncomfortable for us; actually, it's when we are the most excited. So nobody was surprised that we had no hesitation in plunking down $500 for a device no one had never seen before...especially since the gadget was from Apple. Having unboxed quite a few devices from many different vendors over the years, we are always struck with the particular attention Apple always gives to this aspect of the user experience. The joy of owning an Apple product starts the moment it is unpacked from the shipping container. The product box is visually clean, nicely proportioned, and always well-presented. Apple manages to create an emotional bond with the buyer with the just the simple act of lifting the box cover to reveal the product. The box's content was neatly organized, well laid out, and easy to remove. There were no ugly twist-ties, rattling pieces, or loose bits to spoil the mini-ceremony. Even the process of removing the... [more] -iPad UnBoxing

April 3,2010- iPad Delivery..

The much anticipated iPad delivery date has arrived. We had been tracking the package's progress since March 29th, when it left Shenzhen China, and followed its progress across the world to its final Boston destination. UPS last updated its delivery status as having left East Boston at 8:09 A.M. We expected to see the truck pull up to the office sometime this morning...

However, the morning came and went, but no iPad delivery. It wasn't until much later in the afternoon that the UPS truck pulled into our delivery dock. Ours was his last iPad delivery of the day.[Permalink] -iPad Delivery


March 30,2010

ePublishing on the iPod has never been all that attractive to us. The screen was too small for creating interesting layouts for the kinds of stuff we would want to publish. Still, we had always meant to figure out the workflow for publishing for the iPod just to understand the process. Last night, we decided to figure out how to get it all working.

We needed to figure out how to:

  • Convert content stored in Word or .pdf to EPUB format
  • Transfer converted file onto iPod device
  • View file on iPod

As it turns out, the process was relatively simple. It took us about 30 minutes to figure out everything. The technical skills required to set up the workflow is ... [more] -eBook Publishing

March 29,2010

Apple has been nothing short of brilliant in generating buzz for the iPad during the entire product launch cycle. They will get a ton of free press just from an email they sent to all of the folks who pre-ordered their iPads. We got ours this morning at 1:54AM indicating the iPad we pre-ordered on March 12th has shipped. It will be coming via UPS from Shenzhen China!

The pre-order sales of the iPads have been huge...120,000 units were snatched up in the first 2 hours after it went on sale. It appears that the first production run of iPads have all been spoken for. New orders will now have a delivery date of April 12th. For those who did not pre-order but still want one on April 3rd, the Apple Store and Best Buy will have limited number of iPads available for walk-in buyers. You can be sure there will be... [more] -iPad Shipped


March 19,2010

Recently, we stated that companies like Google and HTC won't be able to make up the difference in the amount of apps available (compared to those available in the AppStore for the iPhone) on their phone platforms even if they gave the phones away. It generated a very interesting and reasoned discussion with a commenter named "bloknayrb" on Gizmodo as to why this "would or would not" be so.

Our position was there were only so many "real" developers out there working on mobile apps. New entrants with their own SDKs will just dilute the remaining available development resources and divide up the share of the market not dominated by the iPhone. This is the true "first mover's" advantage.  It is not that "first movers" are necessarily better, but they have "locked up" the development resources. The committed development resources may be... [more] -Just how many are out there?


March 15,2010

Flash, Adobe's proprietary technology, is not supported on the iPhone, and neither will it be on the iPad. This lack of Flash support has been quite the topic of discussion on many tech forums lately. Most commenters lament that this omission will make repeat work for programmers, frustrate unsuspecting end users, and doom the iPad before it gets out of the gate. We humbly disagree. OK, we think the naysayers are completely wrong. We see the no-Flash path as a brillant strategic maneuver by Apple. In one move they have distanced themselves from a buggy proprietary technology and opened up an opportunity for new developers looking to make a mark on the iPad platform.

The questions to consider in Apple's "Flash-free" strategy are: Who has the most to gain and where are the pressure points? When a computer crashes, most people do not really understand the underlying cause of the problem. They will usually complain that the "machine" has stopped working. Apple can certainly make the iPad support Flash, but it will be slow and... [more] -No Flash


March 12,2010

Unless you have been on "walkabout" in the Australian Outback for the past few months, you know that today at 8:30AM EST Apple started taking pre-orders for the iPad.

We placed our order at precisely 8:30 EST and by 8:34 we had confirmation from Apple that our order had gone through and we can expect our shiny new iPad on... [more] -iPad Pre-Order


March 4,2010

Dramatic changes in user interface design has happened only a few times in personal computing history. The most notable one was when the interface went from the command lines of CP/M and DOS to the Apple Macintosh. A decade or so later, smaller computing devices with touch-sensitive screens (Apple Newton, Palm Pilot) ushered in new ideas on how one should navigate and interact with those devices. It was another 10 years before the Apple iPhone brought "multi-touch" gestures to the general public. Later this month the Apple's iPad will be shipping. We believe it will be another significant marker in the evolution of the computer user interface.

Creating a great user interface experience is more an art than a science. Sure, there are plenty of guidelines to follow and examples to mimic once the path has been paved. However, when the landscape is brand new, as when the Mac was first introduced, or now with the iPad and its "multi-touch" capability, an interface designer can feel ungrounded and be... [more] -iPad Human Interface Guidlines


March 2,2010

The updates to the iPhone SDK are coming faster now that Apple is gettting closer to the iPad release date. Version Beta3 came out a few days ago. As expected, it contained a bunch of code changes that fixed various things in the framework. The most visible update is the working Photo app in the iPad simulator.

Like the Photo app on the iPhone, this is an image viewer, not an editor. In the real app, images will be loaded via iTunes. In this simulation, the only way to... [more] -iPad Photo Simulation


February 24,2010

The first version of the iPhone SDK (v3.2 beta1) that supported the upcoming iPad was pretty barebones. It had a simulator for the iPad, but that was basically it. It had none of the other apps which Apple intends to ship with the first release of the physical device.

Apple's iPhone SDK v3.2 beta2 release has support for the Safari application. Like the version which runs on the iPhone, the iPad simulation is quite complete. By now, everyone has heard/read about Apple's decision to continue their... [more] -iPod SDK Beta2: Safari support


February 19,2010

Today we signed up for a test account on Twitter so we could test out the code for sending the tweets from the InstaTwit app to Twitter.com. Everything worked like a charm once we fixed all of the username and password typos.

The next addition to the interface is a text box for user generated entries. This change also meant we had make other changes in order to conform to the Apple Human Interface Guidelines for usability. While some programmers balk and chafe at... [more] -HeadFirst iPhone Development: Chapter 3


February 10,2010

Memory management was a hot topic in computer science...20 years ago. The need to understand this area was made less important because most of today's programming languages have automatic "garbage collection." This automation freed the programmer from having to mentally track how much memory had been requested and should be released when no longer needed. Modern computers can have gigabytes of RAM and essentially unlimited amount of virtual memory. All of these factors have made software easier to write, but not necessarily "cleaner" when running.

Small devices such as cell phones, PDAs, and iPods have limited physical memory, no swap space, and primative operating systems. Most do not tolerate memory leaks well, if at all. Chapter 3 of the Brain-Friendly Guide to iPhone Development broached the subject of memory-management on the iPhone and iPod Touch. It has been a while since WE had to... [more] -HeadFirst iPhone Development: Chapter 3


February 1,2010

Apple supplied a sample for the iPhone 3.2 SDK called "Keyboard accessory." Its goal is to demonstrate to developers how to use a keyboard accessory view.

We noticed in Job's demo that he had a little difficulty using the virtual keyboard. If his hands were smaller, he probably would have had an easier time. The problem with a small keyboard is the hands and wrists are forced into... [more] -iPad Virtual Keyboard


January 29,2010

The Apple iPad was announced with great fanfare a few days ago. While the rest of the world is debating the relative merits of the hardware, we downloaded the iPhone 3.2 SDK to see what one can really do with this new puppy.

The SDK is around 2.2 GB compressed, but it took forever to download. We expect the Apple servers were being pounded pretty heavily by developers around the world. There were the usual requirements (Intel-based Macs only, Snow Leopard required, etc...). We decided not to bothered saving our current SDK and installed version 3.2 on top of it. The installation required... [more] -iPad SDK FirstLook


January 26,2010

We were off for a couple of days getting ready for our trip out to L.A. so we ddn't do much with our iPhone studies.  We have landed and are now sitting in a StarBucks in Mahattan Beach. Since we have the afternoon free, we decided to fire up Xcode and do a little work.

We last left off with the "Tweet it!" button hooked up and responding properly. So as far as set up, we are almost ready. The final step will be to extracting the info from the two pickers and send the data off to Twitter.

In Chapter One, we learned about IBOutlets. It is this mechanism which gives us the means to get the info from the pickers. HeadFirst walked us through the code snippets necessary to get the data, create a place holder for the extracted data, and... [more] -HeadFirst iPhone Development: Chapter 2


January 21,2010

Today we are going to get the "Tweet it!" button to do something, like talk to Twitter. We are not sure how to do it, but the HeadFirst book will tell us.  However, it makes us think about it first before giving us the answers. Apparently, we learn better when we are made to think :-)

The first step was to hook up the "Tweet it!" button using what we've learned in Chapter 1. There are two parts to hooking up the button: linking it in Interface Builder, coding it up in the .m file. The first step was to make sure... [more] -HeadFirst iPhone Development: Chapter 2


January 20,2010

It has been a few days since we posted. The past week went by in a blink because all the craziness with the "special election." OK... it was not a great excuse, but it was the only one we could come up with on short notice :-) Anyway, we finished reading about the picker, got an understanding of the various protocols we needed to implement, and got to work on copying the code sample from the book.

Copying code is easy. Getting it to work can sometimes be a little more difficult, especially if the code one is copying has something wrong with it :-) Thinking we had a typo somewhere, we cycled a few times trying to get the code to... [more] -HeadFirst iPhone Development: Chapter 2


January 12,2010

Today we got started on a slightly more complicated iPhone app called InstaTwit. This is still a single-view application, but it makes use of a control called the Picker.

Laying out the UI for the InstaTwit app was a lot quicker now that we are more comfortable with manipulating the UI objects in the Interface Builder palette. We had no problems with... [more] -HeadFirst iPhone Development: Chapter 2

January 11,2010

We had to take a few days off because of a cold. We were down for the count for about five days. Today was the first day we felt well enough to crack open the Head First book.

Chapter Two was about "app patterns." We first heard about "patterns" from a book called "Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software." The idea is that there are "things" which repeat over and over. There is no need to... [more] -HeadFirst iPhone Development: Chapter 2


January 5,2010

Chapter One was 35 pages long, but it took a lot longer to get through than we had anticipated. It wasn't because the material was difficult. It was because "reading about something" and "doing it" are two very different things :-)

The first chapter was about getting the iPhone SDK environment set up on the Mac, building a very simple app, and getting it to run on the iPhone simulator. Along the way, we learned some of the requirements about programming for the mobile platform (memory, screen, etc...), the SDK (IDE, xCode, etc..), and the iPhone (simulation limitations, UI, etc...).

Getting the iPhone SDK loaded and the xCode programming environment up and running was not a problem. The one requirement was that the iPhone SDK will ONLY work on an Intel-based Mac. We have managed to... [more] -HeadFirst iPhone Development: Chapter 1


January 4,2010

The first order of business is...how are we going to learn how to program the iPhone? The good news is that there is an avalanche of resources available and many of them are free. Apple has an extensive online library for everything related to the topic. Many sites are devoted to the topic with tips and tutorial. There is also an increasing number of self-guided instructional books available.

We spent some time researching the various options and decided that, for us, a self-guided book would be the most convenient approach. Our reasoning was thus: we don't want to have to sit in front of a computer all the time, we want to... [more] -Phone Book


January 1,2010

Welcome!  You got here because you were curious about the little asterisk in the corner. The asterisk was a convenient way for us to jump to an experimental section of the magazine. This section is where we play with different ideas which have been bouncing around in our collective heads. One idea is to document the journey of creating a "startup" from scratch.

The "document a startup" idea got traction and we started to put the pieces into play around the middle of last year. Our first decision was what kind of startup? The iPhone app market is growing exponentially, Apple has taken care of the distribution side of the equation, and it will be fun to... [more] -Intro



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