Web Warp Blog has been retired. For new posts please head to dmather.com.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mac OS X Update 10.6.8

Apple have updated their Operating System, Mac OS X Snow Leopard to 10.6.8. This update is a requirement for updating to OS X Lion. Here is the briefing from Apple:
"The 10.6.8 update is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Snow Leopard and includes general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac, including fixes that:
• Enhance the Mac App Store to get your Mac ready to upgrade to Mac OS X Lion
• Resolve an issue that may cause Preview to unexpectedly quit
• Improve support for IPv6
• Improve VPN reliability
• Identify and remove known variants of Mac Defender

For detailed information on this update, please visit this website: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4561.
For information on the security content of this update, please visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222."

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Why I Returned My Apple TV

Regular readers of Web Warp Blog are probably aware that Apple are often shown in an extremely positive light on this website, this is because their products are simply amazing. However I have just returned a second generation Apple TV, after a prolonged period of desiring both the 1st and 2nd generations. Why? I hear you ask. Here's why:

The Apple TV, for those of you who aren't familiar, pushes iTunes content, video, movies & music onto your HD TV. It can also show photos and be used for AirPlay. All good things then.

Problem 1. Connectivity.
The 2nd Gen unit has 5 physical connections and Wi-Fi:
1. Power
2. HDMI (includes 5.1 digital passthrough)
3. Digital Optical audio
4. MicroUSB - diagnostic use only, cable sold separately.
5. LAN Network Socket
6. Wi-Fi B, G & N

In my current set up with TV, set top box, surround sound & games console I have actually used up all my HD ports on my TV (2 HDMI & 1 HD Component). I could use an HDMI switch to get over this though, but its far from ideal.

Connecting the 5.1 digital surround sound is also an issue has my audio system only has one Digital Optical port which is already connected to my set top box and occasionally connected to my games console. I would have to keep disconnecting and reconnecting the audio too, again far from ideal.

So I don't really have space to connect an Apple TV to my system permanently.

Problem 2. HD Support.
The Apple TV 2nd generation supports HD video - at 720p. I can understand rented films to be 720p but where's the full HD 1080p support for content on your computer? When I tried to play through a 1080i video the Apple TV was unable to play the clip without significant video pauses and then audio/video sync had problems. A MacBook plays the clip with relative ease...

Problem 3. Audio AirPlay.
Apples AirPlay system is fantastic. The AirPort Express works great pushing music either from iTunes or an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad running iOS 4.3.3 directly to the surround system over the air, no fuss. However the Apple TV can provide the same service with it's software, it can handle video too (obviously). This leads  to a problem. There is no dedicated 3.5mm jack audio out as per the AirPort Express. It would be fine is there where enough digital optical inputs on the surround sound, but I have only one already occupied port as mentioned above.

Problem 4. iTunes Store
You can access film rentals via the iTunes Store. The Apple TV is linked to one Apple ID account. No verification is required for purchases by default and they all run through one account. It would be far better if this was a flexible system and that individual household members could sign in and choose to rent content on their own accounts. Maybe a short Apple TV passcode could be created using the up, down, left and right keys for each linked account. This would also enable various iTunes HomeSharing too.

While all connected up the Apple TV proved the best way to get your digital pictures onto the big screen. It recreated them better than any DVD player can.

If you have plenty of spare connections, a good Internet connection, and a desktop Mac or PC switched on (to provide content), then this product is for you. Be wary of cheap HDMI cables and TV's. Apple TV requires HDCP compatible TV's and cabling.

Courtesy of Apple

Friday, 24 June 2011

iPhone Caps Lock

The iOS operating system for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch features a great touch keyboard. It predicts what you are typing on the fly, enabling quick auto-completion with the space bar, auto-capitalisation of the first word and built in spell checker. However, entering in capitals has always been a bit of a hassle. "Shift" "E" "Shift" "X" etc just to type EXAMPLE.

There is another way! The little known feature that you can enable a "Caps lock" option from the Keyboards settings. When typing you just double tap shift, it glows blue, and all your text IS TYPED IN CAPITALS.

To enable caps lock go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Enable Caps Lock.

Enable Caps Lock Option

Shift highlighted blue to show caps lock 

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mozilla Firefox 5

Mozilla have released a new version of their popular web browser, Firefox 5. Firefox 5 looks almost identical to Firefox 4 but it loads much faster and feels snappy when loading new pages. It's main improvements are behind the scenes but it's still worth a download. Although there is the inevitable wait for third party add-ons to be updated and become compatible with the latest version.

Firefox Download Button

The Web Browser scores have been updated, shockingly Firefox 5 didn't get a better score than Firefox 4, but it still feels much quicker when browsing. Google's Chrome browser version 12 has the best score by far...

Original post (Web Warp Blog V8 Benchmark Suite Results)

Formula1.com 2011 App

The ultimate companion to the Formula 1 TV coverage is the live timing screens available online at www.formula1.com*. Now you can get the timings on your smartphone too with the Formula1.com 2011 App. The app is free and available for iOS, Android and Blackberry.

During the current session (free practice, qualifying or a race) you can get live timings of the on track action, weather data and a live commentary. During the race you can also get chart showing the changes in positions, which is rather a lot this year! The app also includes all the results from the previous races.

Links to get the app (you will need to register at www.formular1.com in order to sign in to the app):

Image: www.f1.com

*Free via registration at www.formula1.com   

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Chrome Web Store Apps

Web Warp Blog is now on the Chrome Web Store! The Chrome Web Store is part of the Google Chrome web browser and Chrome OS operating system running on the new Chromebooks. It allows web developers to create rich content for their websites. These can include large app style icons as bookmarks for their sites or even entire games. Check out Angry Birds, the popular smartphone app is now a free game available through Google Chrome Web Store!

For Web Warp Blog's Chrome Web Store App click here: http://bit.ly/webwarpchromeapp

For Angry Birds click here: http://chrome.angrybirds.com/

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


WhatsApp is one of several cross-platform smartphone applications which provides text and multimedia messaging. The difference between your 'normal' SMS and MMS system is two fold. Firstly WhatsApp, and the like, use your smartphones data connection to send and receive messages at no cost other than your data tariff. Secondly, there are several functionality improvements over traditional messaging.

WhatsApp includes group messaging, delivery reports, photo and video messages, all for nothing and extremely quickly. Whatsapp can also be used on tablets running Android or the iPad which can't recieve SMS messages.

The catch is that you need a data connection, something that you may struggle with in some areas. Another catch is that after spending the one off download cost (for the iOS devices the UK price is 59p, US ¢99) you may only have a few contacts to use the service with. WhatsApp uses the mobile numbers of your contacts, which is a great time saver. And auto-adds new users to your 'favourites' tab.

In the next release of iOS, iOS 5, Apple will be including a new App called iMessage. It appears to be largely based on these instant messaging stlye apps, but with the restriction that it will only allow communication between Apple mobile devices running iOS 5. It may be too late by Autumn to get users onboard for iMessage, particularly with WhatsApp gaining users all the time and Facebook's latest 'Message Centre'. Facebook Messages cater's for group conversation over your data contract. Facebook's advantage is not only that it is crossplatform on smartphones like WhatsApp is, but accessible from any desktop or laptop PC as well, allowing the most flexible form of digital contact. Laptop to smartphone - desktop to desktop - smartphone to multiple devices. The icing on the cake for Facebook is that they have over 500 million active users.

For more information on WhatsApp, check out www.whatsapp.com, for iMessage try http://www.apple.com/ios/ios5/features.html and everyone knows where Facebook.com is!

Public Wi-Fi Data Security Issues

Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC technology correspondent, investigates security issues with public Wi-Fi networks. If you use internet cafe's with your laptop or smartphone this video is of interest to you!

Here is the link: bbc.in/mfMDkH

The main issue highlighted by this video is cookie theft when logging on to popular sites like Facebook and Hotmail. This can be done by anyone using Firefox and a free add-on: Firesheep.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Halo 4

Halo 4 - enough said!

Check out the trailer from E3!

Thanks to my mate @Alec87 for sending me the link to this :-) This is going to be epic!!!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Apple News Roundup

Ok, today is very exciting as their are 3 (yes 3!) big Apple announcements! This blogpost gives you a brief overview and points you in the right direction for more info. In the next few days a more detailed analysis and opinion will be posted.

1. iOS 5
iOS is Apple's mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad. iOS 4 is the current version for the latest devices. iOS 5 will bring over 200 new features including an upgraded camera control, better management of notifications and even sync over Wi-Fi. With Wi-Fi Sync you never have to plug your iPhone in to sync with iTunes again.

Courtesy of Apple
2. iCloud
iCloud replaces MobileMe for mail, contacts and calendars (you keep the same email address) but it brings with it so much more. With iCloud you can store all your documents, photos and music online and then access them from any of your iDevices or computer.

3. Mac OS X Lion
Lion will be the next version of Mac OS X and you will need the App Store (included in Snow Leopard) to download it. In the US it will cost $29.99 - which is a bargain. The new OS will include support for full screen apps (it's about time) and an Auto save function which is similar to Time Machine.

More details and analysis coming soon! For more information on any of these announcements, check out www.apple.com.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

iWork for iOS vs QuickOffice

iWork from Apple is a suite of office applications for the Mac, Pages (word processor), Numbers (spreadsheets), and Keynote (presenations). It's also available for iOS devices, now including the iPhone. The concept looks extremely impressive and promises complete integration with the desktop version of iWork application and even Microsoft Office applications. In practice I would be surprised if the compatibility was smooth as formatting and fonts often prove a challenge in these situations.

File transfers are via MobileMe's iDisk (subscription required) or iTunes file sharing (connection required). In order to make the best use of the app, integration with online services is a must, and for Apple to only offer their own premium service is a disappointment. An alternative is QuickOffice. It's a similar price to Pages or Keynote or Numbers but can work with the same Microsoft Office file types for each of the equivalent programs (Word, Excel & Powerpoint). QuickOffice has issues with fonts and formatting but only because it doesn't have the vast number of files that Word, for example, as behind it. For creating documents on the go and working on them later it's great. Particularly as it integrates with cloud storage services such as Google Doc's, Dropbox and Box.net. You can even manage the files on the device via your web browser if you are on the same Wi-Fi network. This flexibility is a preview of the Post-PC era.

More information from Apple about Pages
More information from QuickOffice for iPhone