Going, Going, Gone

Govan Shipyard is going through some major changes, one of which is the demolition of the cranes which have dominated the Clyde landscape for years.

Back in January there were four cranes still standing.

Roll forward to the start of March and there was just one left.

And today…all gone.

The cranes aren’t that old having been built in 1974 but were deemed not fit for purpose going forward and hence scrapped. While one of the cab’s has been passed to the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine and parts of the cranes will be displayed at Fairfield Heritage Centre at Govan it’s a shame that these landmarks will no longer be seen or heard. The Times They Are a-Changin’.

All Change

It was good to have F1 back this morning and hopefully a return to more exciting races after last years procession. The changes this year are vast and are acting almost as a reset button on who has the best car. The result of the changes are a set of ugly cars that sound very different to the last few years but have seen a fair amount of change in qualification this morning.

F1 Teams - Australia 2013 compared to 2014 qualifying
F1 Teams – Australia 2013 compared to 2014 qualifying

Comparing 2013 and 2014 Australian from a team perspective shows just how much change has taken place. Renault in last place shows they are toiling and their struggles in testing have transferred onto Australia. Kimi won for them in Australia last year! Red Bull have actually done better than most expected but the surprise for me was Ferrari – expected a bit more after pre-season testing. Great to see Williams and McLaren improving after a torrid year and well played Toro Rosso too. Simple take away is Mercedes is the engine to have and Renault have a bit of catch up to do.

What about returning drivers?

F1 Drivers - Australia 2013 compared to 2014 qualifying
F1 Drivers – Australia 2013 compared to 2014 qualifying

A great day for Hamilton, Rosberg and especially Ricciardo. As for Vettel I don’t think you can blame waved yellows or conditions as Ricciardo was consistently quicker than him throughout qualifying. Hulkenburg proved his class and Bottas showed promise in the Williams. The other positives were the young guys coming in and performing great – bodes well for a competitive season.

Alonso must have a sense of deja-vu and if Ferrari don’t improve I can see him move next year. Button was disappointing and Grosjean must wonder what the next year holds for him.

I’ve got high hopes that this will be a cracking season, partly after last years dominance by Red Bull and Seb Vettel and also due to the unreliability that the cars have and also the potential for more overtakes due to the regulation changes. Roll on 6am tomorrow!

Todoist

I lasted 4 months. Omnifocus was too rich for my needs and Wunderlist not enough. I switched to Reminders as it synced between iOS and Mac and app’s like Fantastical displayed the todo’s alongside my calendar. It was working well apart from one thing – iCloud. Last weekend saw my Reminders yet again get out of sync. iPhone different to iPad and different to the Mac. So frustrating and coupled with some annoying usability issues it was time to look elsewhere again. After looking at the usual options I plumped for Todoist and one week later it’s working out well.

Todoist - Karma
Todoist – Karma
The most attractive feature of Todoist is that they have clients on every platform. Every doesn’t just mean iOS, Android and Mac. Web, Windows, Outlook – in total there are 13 different platforms and devices from where you can manage your to-do’s. Thankfully the sync works quickly and I’ve had no issues with entering, updating and closing off to-do’s across all platforms.

Unlike so many applications at work, Todoist works well on Windows so I can keep on top of things no matter where I am and what device I’m using. On all platforms Todoist provides a clean interface and a quick way of entering to-do’s. Date support is great and also understands plain english so entering a recurring task is as easy as writing ‘every 7 days starting next wed’. You can also write ‘due date after 6 months starting 15 March’ which means the to-do will recur not every 6 months from the March 15th but 6 months from when you completed the task that was scheduled on the 15th. A small detail but one I really like.

Karma is Todoist’s way of showing how productive you are being. A bit gimmicky but coupled with colours against projects it provides a nice overview of what you complete and when. Labels and filters across all platforms also allows you to implement a fairly comprehensive GTD workflow if you are that way inclined. Projects can be nested as well as tasks so you can break down a to-do into as fine a detail as you want.

Todoist on iOS
Todoist on iOS

I particularly like the iOS interface. Easy to add/edit a to-do with quick access to labels, priorities and reminders. Making a change to the date brings up some common options too – switch to tomorrow, next week or pick another date. Very nice and Android is much the same, just not as pretty.

While Todoist is free and allows you to sync across all clients there is a paid element which add’s Reminders, Notes and Labels & Filters for $29 a year. After a couple of days use I paid for the year to get the three features and it does take the flexibility of Todoist to another level. Reminders can be received via e-mail, SMS or push notifications and have worked flawlessly over the last few days. As mentioned, Labels and Filters allows you to build a sophisticated GTD workflow if you want to…or just add more relevant filtering. Again the filters are available across all platforms making it easy to stay on top of tasks. Multiple Notes can be stored against a to-do which is nice for tracking progress on a task and you can also attach files to the to-do.

One aspect I won’t use is collaboration with others on projects and to-do’s but overall I couldn’t be happier with Todoist. I’ve finally found a to-do manager that has flexibility coupled with speed without being overly complex.

How In-app Purchases Has Destroyed The Industry

Great post from Thomas Baekdal that has gained a lot of attention on Twitter and other blogs on In-App Purchasing and how it has destroyed, not just destroying, gaming. Many have focussed on the fact it has ruined iOS as a gaming platform. Looking at the top grossing app’s today it’s galling to see just how large some of the IAP options cost.

iap1

iap2

iap3

iap4

The screens above are from just a few of the top grossing games on the iPad. The amounts are horrific when you consider a PS4 or Xbox One full price game is around £49.99. Hard to see how this will change though. I don’t buy into the freemium games model and refuse to start a game that relies on IAP as a way to play. I’m sure many gamers are the same but it looks like the majority of casual gamers see it as a legitimate way to play.

What’s worse is the creep of IAP into full price gaming. Forza 5 for example has some shocking IAP’s for a full price game. I don’t think gaming on iOS or Android is finished, rather there’s a need for Apple and Google to make a stand against some of the ridiculous IAP offerings that developers are allowed to make. I also think the industry as a whole should be marking down these titles – use the app store reviews to mark these titles as 1 star, game review sites should be warning people accordingly too. Ultimately though it’s only by not handing over cash so readily that we will see a reverse in this trend. Wake up people.

Mac at 30

I first used a Mac at university in the early 90′s. It was in the university library and I’m pretty sure it was a Macintosh Plus. While it worked fine, it was a bit slow and nothing grabbed me about it so my first home computer was an Escom 486 and for years I was a Windows and PC user. It was my main games machine as the FPS market took off and the PC platform served me well for years.

The seed that started my move to Mac was in 2001 when the first iPod was announced. I’m pretty sure it was late 2002 or early 2003 before I finally picked up an iPod and suffered using Real software to sync my music on Windows. I loved the iPod. From the packaging to the ease of use, everything about it felt special compared to the competition. I still remember the button lights slowly fading – never got old.

Roll forward to 2006 and it was time to upgrade my PC, not to a newer model but making the switch to Apple. I bought a 21″ iMac and it was such a step change to what I had before. Quiet, fast and an amazing set of applications. A few months later and I bought a Macbook Pro. I was hooked.

Home Office
Home Office

Now I have a 27″ iMac, a Macbook Air, iPhone 5S, iPad Air and an Apple TV. Overkill but I still love Apple’s product design and software despite my recent moans. I didn’t expect much from Apple to celebrate that today was the 30th anniversary since the Macintosh was introduced but I was wrong. I guess time’s have changed since Steve Jobs passed away.

A beautiful website with a great interactive timeline showing the history of the Macintosh. It also wouldn’t right to not have a video from Apple celebrating the event.

There’s also an easter egg on the Apple site.

A custom font that shows each of the Macs from the last 30 years. Nice.

Despite the iPhone and iPad eating into it’s usage, I still wouldn’t be without one. Happy 30th Macintosh.