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Adobe Refresh 2011 – a Teachers view

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At Adobe Refresh today it suddenly dawned on me why I can’t successfully teach my subjects at school. The world of the device (broadening away from the simple PC) and it’s development base(s) change to rapidly for a school system locked down like the DET.

Now I’m not saying the DET is not supporting the computer science subjects. The total opposite is my view, in the last three years they have moved mountains. Problem is with public funds and every school doing different things it is extremely difficult to fund and change direction quickly to keep up with what’s popular and worth while for our students future of device development.

Today Adobe showed off some impressive new software technologies all aimed at the mobile space no matter which platform as long as it’s not Windows based. Also they showed off Air apps for the Google television.

The future of Flash also looks promising and may be I should focus more on it in class, however the problem then becomes “how do we get enough iPods/iPhones, Android devices or Blackberry Playbooks?”. Then there is the sign up process for developer access to the tools and the devices, this can be extremely expensive and time consuming. At least with Flash we can develop for iOS on Windows and not having to buy a bunch of Macs, only needing iTunes and developer access to the device.

The question I’m really asking is should we stick with development for the truck as Steve Jobs called PC’s last year or should we continue to push forward and teach our students about the future of device development at an ever increasing cost.

What do you think? Please let me know your thoughts on this.

Written by themolisticview

March 2nd, 2011 at 9:39 am

Why i’m going back to an iPhone

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I feel sad writing this post, I love the idea behind the new Windows Phone 7 but the time has come (and all to soon I might add), to let it go, back in the box for now, and return to my trusty iPhone 3GS.

As I have said previously I love the idea behind the Windows Phone 7. The way the operating system integrates with social networks, windows live, windows live doc’s, the ability to play games linked to the Xbox, intuitive turn based games and the general look and feel of the panorama interface. All of this is quite powerful and unique to Windows Phone 7. The problem though is two fold, firstly Microsoft released the phone promising users that they would not experience the problems that beset many Android users of relying on carriers to deliver OS updates, and that Windows Phone 7 users would have the first of 4 minor updates by the end of January 2011. So far this has not happened and it is hurting the 2 million estimated Windows Phone 7 users world wide.

Initially the first issues I had with my phone were due to my carriers wows (Telstra Australia). Once these were fixed other small issues crept into the phone, problems like the Four Square and Twitter apps opening and instantly closing, or opening and just hanging open without displaying any data. All of which require a system reboot, which admittedly is far quicker then both iOS and Android. The screen freezes and the phone becomes a brick even if you try to call it, yet again another reboot, though this time you have to take the battery out etc just like a Windows laptop. Now when using the alarm (which is also an excellent feature) the interface goes all weird and requires a restart and a call to work saying I’ll be late.

If the problems with the operating system weren’t bad enough, all the main applications such as Four Square, Twitter and Facebook are not made by the respective companies and have not been updated since the launch of the phone. Where are all  the main third party applications like Dropbox, Evernote etc? Their no where to be seen. Admittedly you could get by on Windows Phone 7 in Australia with nothing else but the free Microsoft applications and only buy games. Oh wait that is what every user is doing already! In the market place all the top selling applications are games. God help the developers who need to make $200 USD of sales before they get paid for their hard work on a forgotten system which is not six months old.

So now Nokia is in the Windows Phone 7 game. Will this help? I do not believe so, Nokia has been losing market share like a falling satellite in recent years and is only truly dominate in developing nations with its reborn 1100 hand sets. So its over before it all began which becoming an all to normal occurrence at Microsoft. We need to bring back Bill or someone like him.

Back to the iPhone you’re now saying, why?, why not your Nexus One?

Android has its own issues as far as I am concerned. Its out of control multitasking for one, kills it for me. Having to go deep into your OS just to kill a program you opened two hours ago is stupid. The only good thing about Android is the Google integration and the auto syncing of photo’s, contacts etc.

So back to my 3GS which has never let me down other than the Vodafone issues with networking which luckily will now be avoided with the Telstra. Why is the iPhone superior as a device? Well I have never had any issues with it other then carrier related, which I believe explains the American issues with AT&T. All the third party applications I use are there and many more are designed to integrate naturally with them such as Elements with Dropbox. “If your phone does not have Dropbox, it is a useless brick”. And yes there is the having to deal with iTunes, no over the air updates that @benpaddlejones keep reminding iPoney users, but i’m sorry Ben, the Apple device is what is superior from any other in this market and not it’s ecosystem. But with such a device the world can put up with iTunes.

Written by themolisticview

February 15th, 2011 at 1:36 am

The problem with smart phones

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Leading up to holidays last Christmas I had a slight dilemma, my 3 year old Nokia phone needed a new battery. My first thoughts were to just go to Wollies and buy another pre-paid Nokia throw in my SIM. Then I thought about it some more and said to myself what about these smart phones? My only previous sighting of smart phones was that of higher executive use or my previous head teacher who had a Windows phone. Thinking back on watching her having to use a stylus on the thing made me think may be not a smart phone. I had only seen a few people using iPhones in the wild and most of those people where known posers not tech savvy types.

After a little Googling the choices were narrowed down, iPhone 3GS, HTC Android or ye old BlackBerry. Having visited the BlackBerry website I was not getting one of those, I simply didn’t like the thing. So the choice narrowed to two.

At this time there was commotion in the tech press about a Google experience phone based on the next iteration of their Android (Linux based) OS. I was full of excitement being bit of a Google fan boy.  I was however let down a few days later when it leaked that the Google phone (soon to be released and known as the Nexus One) was only going to be released in the USA and UK. I was depressed and a little let down, I did not want to buy an Android device which had HTC Sense bloatware on it I wanted the phone the way Google intended.

This left me now with only one choice the iPhone. Now I know @benpaddlejones will jump in here and say “you could buy a Windows Phone 6.5” which he has but I did not want to buy a new phone with a six year old OS.

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Written by themolisticview

October 21st, 2010 at 10:26 am

What would you want from a School web app

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Having bought an iPhone just before Christmas and learning its capabilities and down falls, I started to look into how it displayed websites such as those which I have developed, specifically the schools website. Without any iPhone specific changes they worked ok, using the phone network only, they took to much time to download. These sites are not big in size and download to the desktop extremely fast.

So what to do? First I thought lets find out how many of these devices are out there? Well finding information out about phones is difficult normally, the iPhone specifically even more so. After searching the web I found this little snippet…

The iPhone is selling well in Australia. Research firm IDC reports that the iPhone has taken 21% of the Australian smartphone market share in the past 12 months, putting Apple in 2nd place behind Nokia and just ahead of Blackberry.

I imagine having seen more and more iPhones and other smart phones in the hands of people over the holiday break there are even more out there then these figures suggest. Google has released the Nexus one Google phone. Although not available in Australia until some time later this year, this device will have more smart phones in the hands of people who are not keen on an Apple iPhone.

So back at the start of a new school year with an Apple announcement in a few days, I did a quick survey of my students. Who has an iPod Touch?, who surfs the net with it. More then half of 60 students answered yes to both and added that the local burger joint now has a free wireless service again.

A couple of days later Apple finally showed the world the new device, the iPad. The iPad takes your smart phone and makes it bigger. It has most of the functionality of a smart phone, minus the phone. Obviously we now have a world of smart portable devices, connected to the internet all the time. Which leads to my question.

“What would you like from a School based web app ?”

Web apps are not just for the Apple mobile devices, any mobile device that uses the Android (Google developed) system can access most of the same features which the Apple devices enjoy. These modern web apps all use the new HTML5 and CSS3 standards, unlike your Windows based desktop or mobile devices which are not compatible unless they are running the Google Chrome Web Browser. Web apps also are not like the applications you have to purchase from iTunes or the Google apps store, they are actual web sites/pages which you can download to your mobile device or desk top if compatible.

There is so much more technical detail I could go into, but if you have seen an iPhone or an Android phone in action with web apps like Flickr, Google etc…  you can see what the future holds for our students. The future is web apps, it may not be visible to all this year or the next, though when Windows and Internet Explorer become aware of the new HTML5/CSS3 standards it will be like a punch in the face.

So please, anything you would like to see easily available through a school based application for mobile devices, let me know in the comments. I would like to develop an initial web app which would portable throughout the NSW DET.

Note: Not just for Apple mobile device systems.

Written by themolisticview

February 20th, 2010 at 5:32 am