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Moving to the iCloud

I signed up for MobileMe back in 2003, when it was still called .Mac. Ever since it was pretty much a part of my daily life for the last 8 years. My primary email is @mac.com, back then it was especially cool because everyone was still on Hotmail and I had my flashy mac.com domain. I had my first and second websites built and hosted on .Mac/MobileMe. Over the years it changed, evolved and only got better.

iCloud has been out since 12th of October, but I’ve been holding off upgrading because I didn’t want to be an early adopter and I didn’t have much free time anyway. MobileMe was heavily criticised for it’s problems at launch. I have to say that I’ve never had problems with MobileMe and it was working smoothly for me since day one but this time I’ve decided not to risk it.

But by this time the move was already long overdue and I finally decided to do it. iCloud offers many benefits over MobileMe so there is no point in waiting. The process itself was fast and painless and it was over in no time.

What I’m really exited about is Documents in the Cloud. I commute between Brighton and London regularly so I end up writing quite a lot of my work on the train. Although I love writing on the iPad, it’s getting the files out of it used to be difficult. I used iTunes file transfer or sometimes emailed myself, but both ways are far from ideal. iTunes file transfer is cumbersome and sending myself an email just doesn’t make sense. Of course this weren’t the only two methods available but all of them are far from being seamless. And seamless is what iCloud does best. Now all my files are pushed to my iPad, iPhone and the web and best of all I don’t have to do anything, documents are uploaded and updated automatically. I only wish Apple would add tight iCloud integration to iWork for Mac, but it will probably be in the next version. The current version of iWork was released in January 2009 so an update is probably due soon.

Another cool feature is automatic backups of data and settings to the iCloud. Backups have never been an issue for me because I do tend to sync regularly, but I know a few people who do not. Backups start when device is plugged in, on Wi-Fi network and locked which pretty much means at night when you are not using your device, very convenient. And it would save a lot of people massive headaches when something goes wrong.

I haven’t turned on Photo Stream yet as I need to first sort out Camera Rolls on iPhone and iPad, but having recent photos pushed across all my devices does sounds very promising!

iCloud is amazing as it is, but it’s only set to get better as more and more developers integrate it in to their products. A quick search on App Store already shows some great examples of iCloud integration, I’m excited to see what comes next!


Screenshot of MobileMe control panel before moving, showing my join date.

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Starbucks brings Pick of the Week to the UK

This week Starbucks and iTunes finally brought to the UK their ‘Pick of the Week’ promotion! I’ve read about it first on App Advice in the morning and when I got to my local Starbucks on St. James Street, they sure had the new cards!

The promotion has been running in the US for quite some time now and has been extremely successful. Each week Starbucks would offer it’s customers cards with codes for free iTunes content. It could be a song, book or an app, you redeem a unique code at the back of the card to download content. Every Monday new cards comes out.

This is a great news! I’m looking forward to get new free apps and books. And this gives yet another good reason to go to Starbucks besides my favourite white filter.

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Unboxing my while iPhone 4S

Yesterday Apple launched the new iPhone 4S in 7 countries around the world. I’ve queued up for it at Brighton Apple Store for almost 5 hours. iPhone 4S is an amazing phone, it’s blazing fast and Siri is absolutely awesome! Here are my unboxing pictures. I went for a white 32GB model. It was a bit too dark at home so I decided to go to the beach for unboxing.

Pictures after the break

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iPhone 4S launch in Brighton

Queuing up for an iPhone has become a tradition for me now. It really builds up your excitement and anticipation when you are waiting in line with like-minded people. I can’t imagine not doing it, as it’s kind of part of the deal now.

Yesterday I came to the Churchill Square shopping centre at about 4AM. There were already about 15 people in front of me. First person in the queue got there around about midnight. It was quite chilly waiting outside. It is October now, not summer anymore as with previous iPhone releases. Thankfully Apple arranged for shopping centre to open 6AM, so I waited the last 2 hours inside with a cup of Starbucks coffee in my hands. Apple brought a giant coffee thermos from nearby Starbucks. It was really nice to have a hot drink after hours of sitting in cold.

There were 2 queue lines, one for a contract and another for SIM-free iPhone. Very few people wanted a contract this time, the SIM-free line was huge but only about 10 or so people waited for a contact iPhone. At 8 o’clock Apple Store staff started to cheer and set to run around the shopping centre, high-fiving everyone in the queue. It was an amazing experience, so much joy and excitement!

Below are some of my pictures from the launch.

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Mourning Steve Jobs in London and Brighton

People all around the world came to the Apple Stores to pay their last tribute to Steve Jobs, remembering a man who was a hero for them. Flowers, candles and cards were left outside, forming makeshift memorials. I have visited two Apple Stores in London and Brighton to pay my respects.

Apple Store, Regent Street London

The Apple Store on Regent Street is an iconic store and it seemed like a right place to go to. There were a lot of people here who came to say goodbye. Notes, cards flowers and Apples with a side bitten off just like the Apple logo, were laid outside. I left a note as well, thanking Steve for everything what he’s done. It felt really sad being there as Steve himself has been in this store and was involved in it’s design and construction.

There was a lot of media around as well. I was interviewed by ABC Australia, they asked my why I came here, and what do I think will happen to Apple now that Steve’s gone.

Read about Brighton Store after the break

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Steve Jobs has passed away

Today Steve Jobs has passed away. The world has lost the greatest technology innovator of all times. He had a vision of the future and wanted to bring it to everyone. He changed the world around him and affected lives of everyone of us. No one else but Steve could have build Apple and achieved what he did. He had an incredible passion for everything what he was doing and took a great pride in his work. Steve Jobs was a living legend.

His legacy will always live on. Rest in peace, Steve.

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Apple unveils new iPhone 4S

After months of rumours and waiting the new iPhone has finally been announced yesterday. The iPhone 4S looks the same as the iPhone 4, but inside it’s a whole new beast. I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed at first as I have hoped for a major refresh, the iPhone 5. After living over a year with an iPhone 4 in my pocket I wanted to have something different. But was there a real need for a redesign? Probably not. There is nothing wrong with the iPhone 4, and if there is nothing wrong, then why change it?

Yes, iPhone 4 might be over a year old, but it’s design has proven to be very successful. Build quality is exceptionally high, it’s beautiful, works well in day to day use. And perhaps most importantly when you pick it up it feels like a perfectly engineered device, a solid block of glass and steel. You can’t really say this about any other phone out there.

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Unofficial music video for Para-Noir by Marilyn Manson

I’ve been meaning to post this video for several years now, but been putting it off until I finally forgot all about it. It’s a project I’ve made for Final Cut Pro unit on my first year at university. We were asked to find footage and reuse it in a way to create something completely different from the original.

Going through tons of old public domain movies on archive.org I’ve decided to use footage from a classic 1959 horror movie ‘House on Haunted Hill’ to create a music video of sorts for a song Para-Noir by Marilyn Manson. I’m a big fan of his work and it was a great fun building upon existing footage and trying to make it work in a new way. You can judge for yourself how it turned out below.

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iPad 2 Unboxing

Today I finally got an iPad 2! It was quite a struggle for a last couple of weeks since Apple Store in Brighton is always out of stock of a model I want and independent stores even have waiting lists for iPads. So I’m really happy now!

I’ve chosen a white iPad 2 with 3G wireless. White colour looks fresher then black and 3G I think is a must. iPad 2 is slimmer and lighter then the original and games like Infinity Blade looks absolutely amazing thanks to the dual-core Apple A5 CPU. Camera is a welcome bonus. I made a couple of immersive panoramas with the 360 Panorama app that are quite cool.

Here’s the usual gallery of unboxing pictures.

Gallery after the break

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Thoughts about Apple TV 2 and big screen UIs

I have to admit I was a little bit sceptical about the latest streaming-only Apple TV. I had my original 40 GB since it was introduced back in 2007 and I alway used iPod-style content management approach. I had to sync what I wanted to play later on the device later, without the need for a computer.

Turns out that using my laptop or an iOS device to play music or videos is actually much easier and convenient then picking up a remote and going through menus on TV screen. In fact I don’t even use Apple Remote anymore now. Apple TV turns on when I start streaming something over Wi-Fi and goes back to sleep mode a short while after. It’s that simple, convenient and requires minimal interactions from user. Less is more.

It makes me think about TV UIs in general. No one seems to get it just right. Apple itself changed Apple TV’s user interface 3 times. I don’t even want to start talking about UIs of set-top boxes, most are counterintuitive and backward thinking. On Apple TV streaming works so well just because you can keep using a familiar interface to play your content. It’s much easier and intuitive. Plus multitouch just blows away anything that can be done with a conventional remote.

You can use your smartphone as just another remote for a UI on the big screen. But it would be pretty cool if my satellite box for example could actually display custom UI native to my smartphone or tablet. I won’t even need to look at the TV screen until the media starts playing. This would replace a growing number of remotes in the living room and essentially turn TV or a set-top box in to a little square icon on the home screen. I quite like the idea.