Here’s an interesting Article on Ars Technica, it looks like the predicted decline in PC is slowly coming to fruition.
Here’s an interesting new tablet computer concept form Samsung. It has a stylus with multiple degrees of sensetivity and the ability to run two apps at once using a split screen mode.
Well there you go then, Mobile flash is really on it’s way out. if you haven’t already, you’d better start getting you’re HTML5 skills sharpened up because if you want animation on mobile devices it’s coming sooner rather that later. One up for Steve Jobs then.
This article gives some food for thought. There’s a prediction in this video that Tablet sales will exceed the sales of PC’s by the Autumn of 2013. That’s quite a claim and I’m looking forward to seeing exactly how that bit of forecasting pans out.
Just a quick one, here’s an interesting article on eText books and iPads in wired magazine. It features some comments by an old acquaintance, Bill Rankin from Abilene Christian University in Texas.
The Article is quite old now so it makes me wonder how things are developing in this area. obviously, Apple have now released the iBook Author software and there are other eText book readers already in the iTunes store, so that side is moving forward but what are the publishers doing? A quick search on Google and there seem to be various flavours of eBook appearing online now, so will Students want to buy, rent or simply rent relavant chunks of text books?
Another question; How are we going to afford all of these tablet computers? is BYOD the answer or Should Universities foot the bill or should the cost come from course fees? I wish I had the answer to that one although it’s likely to be a mix of choice one and choice three.
Strange thing happened to me recently. I started to use my iPad with a keyboard. It actually changed the nature of the device quite dramatically. Using a full keyboard with an iPad suddenly turns the iPad into a desktop PC of sorts. It was actually very nice to have the functionality and the shortcuts that I’m used to on a regular computer keyboard. It suddenly became a lot easier to write in a fashion that I am more accustomed to, in fact one of the things I enjoyed using a standard keyboard, was having the direction arrows which meant I could skip back across text to edit things rather than having to use my finger to pick the spot on the page that I want to edit.
I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on three keyboards to test with the iPad. The first is the iPad keyboard from Apple. As you’d expect is a very well-made piece of kit, and looks almost identical to the white plastic and aluminium keyboards available for iMacs and Mac minis. The second keyboard was by a company called KeySonic, the KSK-3001 iBT. This keyboard, has slightly smaller keys than the full-sized Apple keyboard puts also includes the Mac specific keys (command, option etc.) and the iPad specific keys of the such as “home” and “Lock”. The third keyboard I’ve tried is by Logitech. Simply called the “Logitech tablet keyboard for iPad”. This keyboard comes with a carry case which doubles as a stand. This keyboard is slightly larger than the other two, and also includes the dedicated Mac and iPad keys.
My first impression of the Apple keyboard was that it was well made but I noticed right away that to connect (which in itself is quite tricky), the iPad and had to be in the portrait position. This immediately feels slightly strange, as most screens that I’ve ever used have been landscaped.
The other thing that you notice when you connect a tablet to a keyboard for the first time is that something is missing; the mouse. Of course a tablet computer doesn’t have a mouse, but as I said at the start of this blog, as soon as you start using a tablet with a keyboard you do turn it into what is essentially a desktop PC and of course, with the desktop you’d expect to have a mouse. Then then you realise, “Ah! I’m using a touchscreen!”. Even so, I find that I go for the mouse occasionally.
Once I got over the shock of the screen being the wrong way round and a lack of mouse I actually found using the iPad with the keyboard quite easy and comfortable, especially as they’ve added not only the home key and the lock key to the keyboard but also the fact that you can use the keyboard to control volume and brightness and even play your media as you would with a desktop machine’s keyboard.
Now lets take a look at portability.
The Apple keyboard has a back support for the iPad, it juts out at an angle from the base at the back of the keyboard itself. This means that is unlike a regular keyboard this keyboard actually has quite a wide profile as it sticks out about 4cm from the device. The other two keyboards don’t have built-in backrests for the iPad. The KeySonic keyboard has no rest whatsoever, it relies on you using rest or stand. Maybe one that comes as part of a cover, so for instance you’d have to roll up your iPad to cover to standing it up and then just use the Bluetooth keyboard next to it. The Logitech however comes with a plastic carry case, into which fits the keyboard fits snugly. You can click open the case and take out the keyboard. Inside the case is another plastic flap which lifts up to allow you to clip it to the front part of the plastic case to create a triangular stand for the iPad. It’s slightly fiddly especially the first time you attempt it, but once up, it does give you quite a sturdy stand to prop your iPad up against.
Of all the three keyboards, only the Apple one does not have built-in Bluetooth. You simply plug the iPad into the socket and you have built-in connectivity. There is a pass-through port for charging at the back of the keyboard unit and there is also a lineout socket for audio. The Logitech and the keySonic are both Bluetooth keyboards and it was quite easy to set them up with the iPad but don’t forget to check that battery charge occasional or you may come unstuck.
It’s interesting to note that all three keyboards have their merits but also have slight flaws, the Apple keyboard with its backrest jutting upwards making the unit slightly bulky and possibly difficult to carry around on a regular basis. The KeySonic with its lack of any kind of stand relies on you having one already with the iPad and although the Logitech keyboard has a stand with it which doubles as a case to protect your keyboard, it can be a bit fiddly to set up and to dismantle again.
From the point of view of a review, I put the KeySonic at the bottom of the list not because of performance but simply because the keys are slightly smaller and it has a lack of any kind of rest with it although. That said, I found it easy-to-use and a lightweight keyboard to carry around.
It’s difficult to pick an overall winner although I think that maybe the Logitech slightly edges the Apple keyboard as it is definitely more portable. its disadvantages are it’s fiddly case and that you need batteries for it unlike the Apple keyboard.
I think the main thing I’ve learnt is how powerful the iPad can become when it is coupled with a keyboard. You are suddenly dealing with a small workstation, it becomes very easy to write long essays or blogs – such as this one – with the keyboard and the right software and it has the added advantage of being simple pick it up and pop it in your bag when you need to move on.
We all know the tablet computers are great consuming many different types of media but one of the arguments against them for business and education has been that they are not the perfect input device. I think that simply adding a keyboard to the configuration suddenly makes it a very usable tool indeed. Far superior to a netbook and getting pretty close to a fully fledged laptop.
[And the same can be said for android tablet too]
There’s been a lot of fuss about Tablet computers over the last couple of years. It’s hard to believe that it’s not even two years since Apple has launched the iPad and they have already sold millions of units, 25 million in the last two quarters alone (up to July 2011). Lets also not forget the Android tablets that are out there and trying their hardest to catch up and gain a big slice of that market share and then we still have the Windows 8 Tablet to surface sometime this year.
At Birmingham City University we will be deploying around a number of iPads to students on two courses at the faculty of Technology, engineering and environment early this year. This is a pilot scheme following up on an iPhone pilot project which took place during the previous academic year. There’s are whispers (there are always whispers) about the possibility of a future programme to give students a personal Laptop PC or device when they join the University. I don’t know if there is any truth in that rumour but it brings up an interesting argument, Tablet PC or Laptop/netbook? Surely that depends on the profile of the student as to what their needs are?
In Corporate ICT at Birmingham City University we are looking at “Communities of practice”; basically, that’s who uses what for what [for computing]. We now believe that around 59% of our students and Staff don’t generally use Computers for more that regular office tasks. Mostly word processing, then spread sheets and the PowerPoint type presentations. There are of course many Students and Staff that need specialised software and hardware which is an integral part of the delivery of their courses, for example dedicated audio recording software, graphic design tool, networking simulation tools and software development tools to name but a few. Not usually something that you can carry around in your pocket.
There’s an implication here regarding what type of computing we offer students. In a time when costs are more critical that ever before. Supporting a large fleet of PC’s across multiple sites at a University is a complicated and expensive task. Modern PC’s are “greener” that ever before but the still have a large overheads in power consumption and in maintenance and then there’s the regular replacement cost which often lead in to the hundreds of thousands of pounds every year. (remember also that PC’s are now seen as consumables, not capital investment).
So the question is; How do we reduce these costs and while moving forward with new technologies and still offer a high level of support to Students and Staff?
One answer seems to be for certain communities of practice to move to a more personal and portable solution(s). Do we give the students and maybe Staff a personal device? Do we move to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure type infrastructure and re-use old desktop fleet and thin clients? Or, and most likely, do we need a hybrid of many solutions and if so, how does an IT department manage such a diverse computing environment while still offering a high standard of support?
The reality is that we are slowly but steadily moving to an environment where Students and Staff are already bringing there own devices to the University, whether that device be laptops, smart phones or tablet computers. In many ways the preparation for a move to more portable computing environment is already under way. Whether it’s realised or not, many Servicedesk and first line support operatives are already becoming to accustomed to working with a plethora of different devices and operating systems as so many different devices are now being used on campus. Simply walking past the Library on our City North campus you can see through the windows that the majority of Students are working with their own laptops and tablets, in fact I was surprised as to how many Student I saw using there own equipment. At a quick count as i walked past I estimated that it was over 60% (in fact walking past a couple of days ago every student I saw had a computer of some sort in fort of them – and that doesn’t include their smart phone’s).
So, should we move towards the hybrid solution I mentioned above? I think that in many respects we already are. The paradigm is already shifting from rooms full of PC’s to Students (and Staff) wanting to be able to work any where and anytime. The change is moving slowly at the moment but it is moving and I can’t see it shifting back the other direction.
OK, if we do change the way deliver computing to Students and Staff and if we were to Distribute portable devices to Students, which would be the best solution for this portable device? (I realise that there are many factors that I’m not mentioning here, cost, insurance, who owns the device? re-training of staff to support these new tools and methods of working etc. I’ll save that for another day though).
I’ve been using an iPad tablet computer for while now, I also have an laptop computer. Generally though I carry the iPad everywhere. It’s become a powerful personal assistant.
What? It’s not a Toy???? No, no, it’s not.
Lets look at the basics; I use it for email, calendar, opening and sharing documents in meetings (with no “wall” created like a open laptop when sharing info or taking notes). I take all my notes with it, which some times includes photos and audio clips, I access our SharePoint team sites which I can review and edit documents. We have also introduced video conferencing to, the iPad is a fantastic communications tool. It’s a powerful research tool, very useful in a meeting or lecture. Its a great media receiver and an excellent note taker. Can it be used to write essays or longer document though? I think it can. Most of the Blogs I’ve posted on this site have been from an iPad or even an iPhone. If you want to have a full keyboard experience it’s quite easy and relatively cheap to purchase a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad too. There’s also the device that I have pictured above. The Asus EeePad transformer, it looks like a laptop but the screen is able to un-dock from the base and become a fully fledged table PC. I have to admit I quite enjoyed this device while I had the chance to test it. It was nice to have the choice between the two form factors and it has the added advantage that the keyboard/base has an addition power supply which lets you work that little bit longer while away from a power supply.
I wasn’t ready to give up my iPad yet but this device was pretty close to swaying me.
In conclusion, I think that things are changing, that it’s becoming pretty obvious that Students and staff are already working in new ways and we, in IT need to adapt quickly to that need. I believe that computing at the University will inevitably become more mobile whether it’s IT who supply those device or whether they are brought by the Users themselves or a combination of both.
We are already seeing more Tablet and laptop devices used by Students. They bring them to Uni with them to use on site, It unshackles them designated computing labs and allows them to work with out locational and time constraints and If we provide the right environments they could touchdown and work anywhere on campus, and when they are done here they can take their device and continue to work with it at home or even while traveling there on the bus.
And then there’s windows 8. If it proves to be a winner and Microsoft make the right partnerships with the right hardware manufacturers (Nokia, HTC?), we could see a tablet computer running a version of Windows 8 using the Metro Interface which would be able to run many familiar applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
That could be a game changer.
It’s been a long time since my last post, why? because after I last posted I didn’t get out of bed for a week, thats not strictly true I did get out of bed quite often but mostly to visit the loo…
I finally emerged last Friday feeling very week and an a lot thinner, I’d managed no to eat for over a week and judging form the looseness of my trousers and belt I think that I’ve managed to loose a few pounds over that period. I’m not complaining though. only hours before I was struck by this particularly nasty malady I was commenting to my Colleague Pez how I’d like to loose a stone in weight before Christmas. It turns out dreams can come true!
Right now I feel tired, I probably shouldn’t have come to work yesterday and I’m feeling it this afternoon. My stomach hasn’t settled down yet so every time I eat I’m not quite sure what the reaction is going to be. I also think that It’s going to be a very long time before I can face Chinese food again. even the though of eating rice is making me feel ill and I love rice.
Due to the onset of this Virus/Bug/gastroentrowhatever I really didn’t engage as I would have liked with the final day of the mLearn conference. I even managed to leave the book we were given with all the research papers bound together back in the hotel in China, luckily I did put the CD version of the book in my bag so I do have them all. I’m looking forward to taking a look at them and seeing what I can find to bring to the table in the future at the University.
Now if only my stomach would settle down, anybody have any liver salts..
Here’s a Gallery of a few Pictures taken over the last few days:
You may have noticed that I haven’t added to the Blog for a couple of days. I’m Back from China and I’m currently lying in bed 24 hours after I got back to the UK still suffering from a stomach bug I contracted abroad. Believe me when I say that traveling half way around the world with Vomiting and Diarrhoea as a companion is not fun at all.
It all started the wednesday night, the evening after the first day of the mLearn conference. I started to have problems through out that night and on through the second day of the conference. I just started h=getting worse ad worse through out the day. All I wanted to do was lie down but unfortunately we had already checked out of the Hotel. Pez and I eventually made the long journey to the Airport through the ever thickening smog, not a journey I enjoyed and within twenty minutes at the Airport I started Vomiting. luckily (?) I hadn’t eaten for for most of the day so it could have be worse. the reaction from the Chinese users of the toilets was interesting, there wasn’t any, it was like it was completely normal to have a foreigner vomiting in the loo, and it probably is.
That episode was enough for me to be able to hold on through check in and security to the departure gate, once there I found a nice quite toilet and pretty much stayed there until boarding. We had seats on nearly the back row of the plane, 87c. pretty close to the, yep you’ve guessed, toilet.
Unfortunately (again) a young lady sat in front of me who was wearing a particularly strong perfume. As I’d become “odeur adverse” it immediately triggered another episode before we had even left the ground. I talked to a lovely young Liverpudlian teacher called Darren who was sat in 88c, he had that whole row to himself, he kindly agreed to let me have 88c (right next to the loo) and slightly away from what I’m sure was a lovely perfume but to me at the time was an instant vomit trigger!
That whole eight and a half hours was a strange blur of sleeping and shooting fluids from either side of my body.
We finally made it to Dubai. left the plane, walk all the way to the security check and then realised that i’d left my work iPad on the plane. If it was possible I went a shade paler. I had to walk all the way back to the plane leaving Pez and Darren to go through security, to find the arrival gate locked. sweating heavily and feeling terrible I managed to find a very helpful member of the Emirates aircrew, together we found a member of security who unlocked the gate and we re-borded the plane. the cleaning crew was already on board but fortunately I found the iPad where I had left it
Four hours we waited in Dubai for our next flight, by this time the vomiting had subsided and I still hadn’t eaten. we got on the plane to Birmingham and during what felt like an endless flight I managed to eat a bread role and spent a long time visiting the planes facilities once again.
I got home at about 1pm yesterday and I’m still in bed. This isn’t the whole story but right now I don’t have the energy to write any more.
It wasn’t a fun journey home and it kind of ruined the last day of the conference and to be honest it’s going to be a very long time before I can face eating chinese food again.