Tag Archives: ipad

Red boxes and digital government

Budget 2012I’m looking at the digitisation of government quite a lot at the moment for work and red an amusing piece a colleague flagged to us and was amused (but not surprised) to read:

“Nick Herbert, Tory minister for policing and justice until last summer, claimed that he had been better supported in Opposition; indeed, he said, the “sheer clunkiness” of the Whitehall system was revealing. Officials sent him proposals by email, but then printed them off to put in his ministerial red boxes. These should have followed him by car, so he could work on them overnight, but “there weren’t any cars”. He decided to use his iPad – but was told this was banned “because the Chinese might be listening in”. He found it hard to believe that China was terribly interested in our policing policy.”

I’d looked into buying a friend a red box for his birthday and in the course of Googling it I found this post from 2007:

The astonishing figure of £50,000 has been spent by the government on ministerial red boxes in the last few years, as has been revealed by answers to questions asked by Lib Dem MP John Hemming.
Some red boxes cost up to £750, although others costs less than half this.

The Government Digital Service has its work cut out for it – surely even an iPad with extra encryption / management software wouldn’t cost that much money! I don’t know how much has moved on in the last 7 years but if they had rolled out iPads I’m sure we’d have heard about it, and there’d be more ministerial red boxes on eBay!

Smartphone blogging at Coolsmartphone.com

CoolsmartphonePNGIt was around nine years ago that I bought my first ever smartphone – an Orange SPV, built for the French mobile company by the fledgling High Tech Corporation (spot today’s more famous acronym in there), running Microsoft Smartphone 2002 software. In the absence of a great deal of information about the new platform, I turned to a new website run by a fellow SPV fan that covered all things Microsoft Smartphone – which eventually became the popular smartphone blog Coolsmartphone.com.

Today, having abandoned the Microsoft smartphone platform in favour of the Apple beast, I’m joining a group of other enthusiasts to contribute iPhone and iPad reviews to Coolsmartphone.com. I’m grateful to Leigh Geary, the site owner – for the opportunity, and thrilled to have an outlet for my smartphone ramblings other than division6 – I suspect most faithful readers will be rather pleased that some of the smartphone updates, at least, will go elsewhere.

I’ll let you know when I get started but if there’s any app you’d like my thoughts on, let me know and I’ll look into it. I’ll mostly be looking for the charity of PRs promoting apps to send me download vouchers and/or interesting pitches to new apps (and won’t be covering any of my agency’s, Brands2Life, clients’ apps in the interests of avoiding conflicts anywhere). You can reach me on my shiny new mailbox for that – armand [at] coolsmartphone.com!

Hitchhiker’s Guide iPhone and iPad app to launch

miek's hitchhiker's guide to the galaxyMost people who know me that even in the reams of sci-fi and fantasy I consume there are a few authors that have a special place in my heart. Douglas Adams is one of those; notwithstanding his personal history with my family – my brother co-adapted Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency years ago and I sat next to him at a performance of it in Oxford – Arthur Dent is perhaps the greatest sci-fi/fantasy semi-hero ever. He’s the British equivalent of Spider-man, trading witty banter for sarcastic whinges and web-slinging for tea. And powers for a dressing gown. Otherwise, the same.

I’m not sure how to feel about the news that an H2G2 app is coming. I have a feeling that 90% of the stuff you put into it will come out with some generic, smart-arsey, “we don’t have an article on that” response, because – after all – how could the app genuinely be about everything in the galaxy? And – if we’re being true to Douglas’ narrative – the entry for Earth as a whole – it’s people, history, plant-life, etc., – simply reads ‘Mostly harmless’ – then what use is it on this planet? It’s been a while since I saw a pan-galactic Gargle blaster on the menu at any unfashionable London bar. Certainly not one that uses real gold.

Anyway, it’s piqued my curiosity. I gather the people making it are true gaming experts, so might have successfully ‘gamified’ the guide… but I’ll believe it when I see it. Read more over on Wired.

Apple’s iPad profits

Ipad safari browserAmused to see a bunch of articles comparing Apple’s cash pile to the US cash reserves (spoiler: Apple has more money). More interesting to me is the fact that in its last earnings, Apple had nearly matched Google’s overall quarterly profits with a single product – the iPad (I can’t find the post that crunched the numbers on this but doesn’t seem unlikely).

That is astonishing.

I feel less bad about being an Apple convert. This also made me feel better – as despite now being an Apple fan of sorts, I don’t have a wristwatch made of an iPod Touch, and I never edited a magazine about the rival operating system

@Flipboard – a @gilesfraser recommendation


My boss is always pleased to educate me – a self-professed, archetypal earlius adopterus – with his technical insight and technology trendsetting. He didn’t quite beat me to Spotify (although he was very early to that service), but he has stolen the march by introducing me to Flipboard, a ‘social magazine.’ I’d read about it but a combination of iPad apathy and happiness with my methods of absorbing media meant I didn’t investigate further.

Having now tried it, I can tell you that it is an awesome app that is making me fall in love with the iPad again. Essentially, it draws on any feeds you put into it – including a number of useful preset social accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader – and delivers them to you in a magazine style format. You flip through pages in which the content on links people have shared on Facebook and Twitter have been pre-fetched – and you can then tap through to the full article – or watch the video etc.

It’s a wonderful media engagement experience – you can download loads of stories over wifi and then mess around reading offline (for the most part, although the pre-fetch isn’t perfect), commenting on Facebook et al works when you’re online (would like a pre-caching service for when offline so you could maybe queue comments for publication when you came back into wifi range). You can also add any individual blog or feed you like as a separate magazine – all your subscriptions and services appear as a grid of tiles, Windows Phone 7 style.

Really beautifully executed and a very good use of the touch interface of the iPad. Recommended for all you iPad lovers out there – and division6.co.uk looks awesome on it!

My only issue is that I’m not sure it’s very good at ‘getting through’ a magazine or set of updates on Google Reader. Unlike the handy ‘unread post’ notifications you get with the web app, there’s a seemingly endless, jumbled set of updates displayed through the interface. My Google Reader subscriptions include about 40 feeds I read regularly – and about 200 I just dip into – so might well find it frustrating to deal with that much (less relevant) content. Whether I should just flip through it (it is effortless after all) or finally get around to dealing with my mess of subscriptions, who can say…?

Definitely a big thanks to Giles for the pointer!


I’m something of a productivity fiend. If something seems fiddly when I’m working on it, in real life or at a computer, I hunt for a simpler workaround, or hack, or shortcut, or whatever’s the appropriate shorthand for it. Hence being a big fan of the Lifehacker blog and Videojug.

I’m also a massive advocate of the cloud. Most of the day-to-day personal productivity tools I use live on the Internet in some way.

So really it’s a mystery that I’ve gone so long without Evernote, a sort of DropBox-like service for text and audio notes and pictures that syncs across iPhone, iPad and any number of PC or Mac endpoints. It took Chris showing it to me on his Macbook to get me thinking I needed it.

Having been resoundingly and repeatedly convinced of the inadequacy of the iOS WordPress, I’m now writing these blog posts on it using my foldaway bluetooth keyboard on the commute home. The posts will save locally into a text file which will sync to my other devices when I fire up Evernote on there. Wonderful.

Now, unlike Seinfeld, when I wake up with an idea in the middle of the night and scribble it down, I not only won’t have to worry about illegible handwriting and losing the punchline, but it’ll pop up on my desktop later on when I’ve all but forgotten I wrote it down in the first place.won’t have to worry about illegible handwriting and losing the punchline, but it’ll pop up on my desktop later on when I’ve all but forgotten I wrote it down in the first place.

The product, for those interested, is intuitive, designed for touch, and works seamlessly. A joy.

The new Apple iWotsit…

I don’t need it. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I’m confident that all my communications, entertainment and computing needs are currently met, perfectly happily. If anything, I have a surplus of communications and entertainment tools and media. Too many ways to get in touch. Too many ways to watch TV, film, see photos, listen to music, read books, email, call, Skype etc., on the move.

But damnit, I’ll bet that whatever Apple release tomorrow I’ll want. Because smug and self-satisfied as Mr Jobs is, his company is awesome at design and fantastic at getting us to ‘need’ things for no reason other than they’re beautiful and elegant. I’m not a Mac, though… that’s one thing I’ve managed to hold firm to.

Cross posted at Chivalry House.