Technology

Kindle with BooksI have been wanting to do a review of the Kindle for a while but haven’t really had a chance to get my hands on Shirley’s yet as I am still in the middle of a huge Stephen King book. An idea came to me and as the Kindle actually belongs to Shirley I decided to ask her to write a short review. So this is the first guest post on this site, written by my lovely wife.

iPhone With HeadphonesI thought I would try something a little different this week. I have been asked a few times how to create ringtones for the iPhone from music that you already own.

It is pretty simple but not all that well advertised how to do. I think the reason for this is that there is so much money to be made from people buying ringtones that they don’t want to make it too easy for the user to create their own…

Anyway I thought I would write down the process so if I get asked again then I can just point them at this post. I am also hoping that at least some of my readers may have an iPhone and so may be interested in this as well.

The only things you will need for this is an iPhone, a computer, Mac or PC, with iTunes installed on it and some music.

I have been using Google Chrome as my main browser for a while alongside Mozilla Firefox which I also use fairly regularly. Internet Explorer is only used as a last resort if sites do not function correctly.

Recently though I seem to be inundated with plug-in crashes in Chrome.

Mozilla has recently updated Firefox to version 4.0 so I thought it would be good to try switching back. I still get the occasional crash though and when they happen in Firefox the whole screen goes blank and eventually comes back with a message that the video card driver has recovered from a problem…

IMG_4845I am currently in the process of joining the iOS Developer Program which will then allow me to release apps for iPhone to the Apple App Store.

You can download all of the stuff to start developing apps for free from Apple just by signing up as an Apple Developer. If you want to test them on your iPhone, iPad or iPod then you need to sign up to the developer program which costs $99/year (£59/year). This allows you to test your apps on your own hardware and then release them to the app store when you are happy.

I do not have a completed app yet as I am still working hard on learning the quirks of the language but it is going pretty well. It all seems to make sense so far so I have high hopes for creating something in the not too distant future.

You never know maybe I will reach the heights of apps like Angry Birds! This little game has become so popular they even have a range of Angry Birds Plush Toys.

I noticed the other day that one of the applications on my iMac required updating. This seemed to do an update for the whole system and a few updates were found. This all seemed perfectly natural to me the only thing that did come as a little surprise was the fact that the updates required a restart of the computer…

I always thought that this was a Windows issue. Using Windows it seems that most installations required at least one restart to complete the process.

Linux, on the other hand, allows files to be replaced even if they are in use, allowing use of the new version next time the files are required. There are certain circumstances where the files are kept in memory, the kernel for example, and then only a manual restart would force the new files to be used.

As OS X is based around Linux, as far as I understand, then I wasn’t expecting to be asked to restart…

I am not saying this is a bad thing, maybe there was an update that did require a restart to be completely installed so why no ask to do it at the end of the update process?

It is still early days for me with OS X and so I’m not sure if this is a regular thing and it certainly isn’t any worse than on Windows. I just like the idea of my iMac staying on for long periods of time, especially as it is so good at going into a low powered state, without the obligatory reboots required on a Windows system if you want it to continue to run smoothly…

One feature on OS X that I instantly found invaluable is ‘Spaces’. This allows you to set up different workspaces (in fact I think that’s what the feature is called on Linux systems).

Each space gives you a clean desktop to open application as desired. This seems better than the cluttered desktop that I always seem to end up with on my Windows box…

Instead of having to minimise windows or switch between the many open windows until you find the one you are looking for you can just slide to another space, leaving the current one as it is, and group your windows together as required.

It’s like having a collection of monitors on your desk without the extra expense or the desk space…

I am loving my new iMac. There are lots of little differences though and so there are a few things to learn along the way…

The keyboard looks very stylish and compact. I was a bit concerned that it wouldn’t be very comfortable to type on but to my surprise it’s excellent! The only thing that I am having a problem with is where the keys are…

Some keys are in a slightly different place than a standard Windows keyboard. This can be a bit frustrating. One thing that did catch me out completely was the # key… There isn’t one?

OK. So how do you add a hashtag to your latest tweet?

It took a bit of digging but I eventually found out that you can get a # by holding down alt (⌥) and then pressing 3.

I have been looking at using Delphi for a particular project I have been working on that requires access to an remote database. This should be a fairly simple task but unless you have a high end version of Delphi you cannot use the built in database drivers supplied with the IDE.

Annoyingly the professional version of Delphi only allows local access to MySQL or Interbase databases via their dbExpress drivers which is no good for this project. To get access to remote databases, which I think is a pretty basic need, or even local access to the other databases available I would need to shell out well over £1000!

Luckily there are other options out there but they vary in maturity, stability and cost so finding the right solution may take a bit of research. Whichever one I choose I will lose some of the functionality as the dbExpress drivers are built into the development environment and do look very useful. Unfortunately, due to the cost, I am unlikely to ever get to use them…

I could stick with Firebird as that is what I have used in the past but the Delphi drivers provided are meant for Interbase and so have a few quirks when used with Firebird. Going forward this may not even be an option as Firebird is likely to change in the not too distant future and could break the compatibility with Interbase…

I have had success with Zeos database drivers in the past but when I recently tried the the latest version using Delphi 2010 they were far from stable. I would almost go as far as saying far from usable!

Another database that sounds ideal for some simpler applications is SQLite. This appears to be the simplest database out there with no need to install a full database server like MySQL or Firebird. I am yet to find a decent way of accessing it from Delphi though…

This post started out as part of my personal blog but started to get a bit technical so I thought it would be better suited on a new, more technical, blog which ties in well with my business activities.

My business web site has sat stagnant for a while so what better place to host these technical snippets than right here…

There are some fairly technical posts over on my other blog over at peteoshea.co.uk, if you are interested, but I will probably either link to them directly in the near future or copy them over to this blog to make this my go to technical reference site.

Anyway without further a do here is my thoughts on desktop operating systems…

Goat StaringI created my first web page back in about 1994 and at that time there was no choice but to be flexible with the layout of the page. The idea was more about making information available rather than trying to create a snazzy display. Loading images over a modem could take a while and so they were kept to a minimum…

The internet has changed dramatically over the years and now some websites seem to be based purely around images. This can be quite visually pleasing but there is a down side to it, the size is pretty much fixed.

As more and more internet enabled devices are appearing with different resolutions how can a fixed width website still work?