But I blocked the Sun….

So I really miss Google Reader and I also miss Flipboard which worked really well with Google Reader. I’ve not really found an alternative that works for me in the same way that combination did.

I do use Apple News, but really don’t see the point of paying £10 a month for access to what appears to me to be The Times and Newsweek!

My main issues with Apple News are:

Over positioning and pushing of Apple News+ stories in an attempt to get you to subscribe to Apple News. So much so that much of the feed appears to be Apple News+ stories that it almost becomes a pointless exercise scrolling through the app.

Another issue is that local news is ignored to the point that news from Weston-super-Mare for example can be weeks or even months old and no new stories. Part of the problem is that Apple News uses mainstream sources for news, which means local news often is sidelined.

My final complaint about Apple News and hence the title of the blog, is that there are buttons you can use to like and unlike stories, and you can block certain news sources as well. However blocking to me, means that you don’t see the news stories at all! Well for Apple News, blocking means still having the news in the feed, but just then placing right there in front of you.

I blocked the source because I didn’t want to see it, so don’t put it in front of me, ever!

I really should be looking at alternatives for Apple News, so what are you using for curating and collating the news?

Using iPad as separate whiteboard in Zoom

So you want to use your iPad a whiteboard in a Zoom meeting? Well this is one way in which you can do this easily. You will need an iPad (obviously), a whiteboard or drawing app and it helps to have another device (main computer) to interact with the meeting as well as using the iPad to draw from.

This post came about after people found my other post Using iPad as separate whiteboard in Teams useful.

That post came about after seeing this tweet on the Twitter from Charles Knight.

It got me thinking about whether this was possible, but also how you would do it. So I quickly tried it out and it worked fine. So I wrote it up as a blog post. 

I have also been using a similar process with Zoom meetings, so have now written this one up as well.

If you are joining a Zoom meeting from the iPad you can can screenshare direct from the iPad, once you are screen sharing on the iPad, you can’t see the chat or other members on the Zoom call.

One solution is to join the meeting from both your main computer and your iPad at the same time.

As well as screen sharing you can also share other content or video from your iPad as well.

So on the main computer start or join a Zoom call.

Note the Meeting ID (and the password).

Start Zoom on the iPad and click Join a meeting.

Then enter  the correct Meeting ID (and the password).

Ensure that the microphone is muted (or don’t join Audio).

In the top right hand corner of the Zoom App select Share Content.

You can use the built in Whiteboard for Zoom however this is quite limited in what it can do.

So select Screen.

The select Start Broadcast.

Others on the Zoom call will be able to see your iPad screen.

On the iPad swipe up to access the main screen. This is the view of that from the Zoom call. All participants in the meeting will be able to see what you are doing on your iPad, so it can be useful to turn on Do Not Disturb model to turn off all notifications.

You can then share content from any app on your device, though some video applications don’t share the video content.

One thing you can do is to use the iPad as a meeting whiteboard. So start your favourite drawing or whiteboard app, I like using Paper by 53.

I can use an Apple Pencil to draw and write and this will be shared with my colleagues in my Team meeting.

To stop broadcasting switch to the Zoom App by either bringing back the iPad home screen and tapping the Zoom App icon or through the app switcher.

You will then see this screen. Tap Stop Share to stop sharing your iPad screen with the Zoom call.

Once you stop sharing you will be faced with this dialogue. Either choice will result in you returning to Zoom.

If someone else in the meeting (say a host) stops you from screen sharing then If you tap OK you will remain in the application you are sharing. If you tap Go to application you will be returned to Zoom.

Using iPad as separate whiteboard in Teams




So you want to use your iPad a whiteboard in a Teams meeting? Well this is one way in which you can do this easily. You will need an iPad (obviously), a whiteboard or drawing app and it helps to have another device (main computer) to interact with the meeting as well as using the iPad to draw from.

This post came about after seeing this tweet on the Twitter from Charles Knight.

It got me thinking about whether this was possible, but also how you would do it. So I quickly tried it out and it worked fine. I did tweet a response, but have now written it up as a blog post so others can refer to it (and I can remind myself how to do it as well).

Though you can screenshare direct from the iPad, once you are screen sharing on the iPad, you can’t see the chat or other members on the Teams call.

One solution is to join the meeting from both your main computer and your iPad at the same time.

As well as screen sharing you can also share other content or video from your iPad as well.

So on the main computer start or join a Teams meeting.

Continue reading “Using iPad as separate whiteboard in Teams”

Where did my hotspot allowance go?

checking my e-mail

When I got my iPhone 6S Plus in 2015, I got a new phone contract and moved providers. The SIM only contract was with Three and came with unlimited data. However this was unlimited on the phone only, there was an allowance for hotspot, which was only 4GB. This was initially problematic as at home we had a very poor ADSL connection, so I would use the hotspot quite often when I was frustrated with my poor connectivity. As a result I would need to keep an eye on my usage. Quite often I would run out. 4GB was generally fine for simple browsing or e-mail, but would quickly run out if I was streaming video.

I did think about increasing the allowance, but the packages available weren’t cheap. Today Three’s unlimited data contract has a 30GB hotspot allowance. Why don’t I upgrade? Well my contract is just £17 a month, the current unlimited data contract is now £30 a month. However since my home broadband was upgraded to fibre I’ve stopped using the hotspot feature at home, reserving it for trips and visits, again mainly for browsing and e-mail. The 4GB allowance has been fine for this kind of internet activity.

A recent trip away to Glasgow made me aware to still carefully check my usage. I was away staying at the Premier Inn which came with free wifi. According to the blurb the free version of the wifi was for browsing and e-mail and the Ultimate version of the wifi was for streaming. Testing the free wifi, I found it worked fine for streaming Netflix. So there I was watching my favourite TV shows on the iPad and though the free wifi wasn’t brilliant, it was working. As I watched the next episode I found the quality had improved, this is alright I thought. Then another episode…

Then I got a SMS from Three saying I had nearly used my hotspot allowance. I was confused, it was only five days since it had reset. Where had my allowance gone? I then noticed that my iPad wasn’t connected to the hotel wifi it was now connected to my iPhone’s hotspot.

What happened was that previously at the Airport I had connected my laptop to the hotspot, but hadn’t turned it off. My iPad was connected to the hotel wifi, however that connection must have stopped or dropped and then the iPad found and connected to the hotspot network automatically. So when the hotel wifi came back it didn’t re-connect. So the quality of the Netflix stream had improved because of the new connection… the downside was that it sucked up all of my hotspot allowance.

Will I upgrade, no, because it was an error and though it may happen again, I am quite content with a 4GB limit.

Adding the keyboard

As I am still having major issues with my Smart Keyboard and my iPad Pro I have decided to start using an old Bluetooth keyboard with the iPad. I had to reset the keyboard and then pair it with the iPad.

bluetooth keyboard

Using it made me realise how useful a “proper” keyboard is with an iPad (or even an iPhone) when you have to type up lots of stuff. Even just entering an username and password for me is easier with a keyboard.

It also reminded me how useful Bluetooth is, though today we take it mainly for granted. I do remember how exciting and innovative Bluetooth was when I first experienced it.

Snapeeding

Bristol Harbourside

One of my favourite iOS apps that I use on a regular basis is Snapseed. There are certain effects and image adjustments that I use to make images brighter or more dramatic.

The user interface, which I initially found challenging, I now find really simple and easy. I like how it takes advantage of the touch interface of iOS. You can swipe left and right to change the intensity of the filters and up and down to change aspects of those filters.

The one filter I use quite a bit is the HDR filter to add drama.

This is the original image

unaltered image

This is the processed image that has been through Snapseed.

Snapseeded Image

I realise that the HDR effect is somewhat subjective, but for me the key question, is do I like it, if so then I will keep it. There are images I work on that don’t work for me and these don’t get saved or uploaded to social media.

So which tools are you using?

No, it’s still not working as it should!

In a previous blog post I talked about how I had reset my iPad Pro to see if that made a different to the problems I’ve been having with the Smart Keyboard.

Every so often the iPad seems to think that this Apple Smart Keyboard. isn’t a proper accessory and “isn’t supported”.

Well initially I thought resetting had made a difference, but the reality is that I am still having issues.

I think time to visit the Apple Store.

Better than it was…

In a previous blog post I talked about the issues I was having with my iPad Pro smart keyboard. It got to the point where it rarely would work and I would get a consistent stream of messages saying that “this accessory is not supported”. I knew that if I went to the Apple Store that I would get a “have you reset the iPad” question, so pre-empting that I did a partial reset.

In the reset menu in settings you can reset the iPad completely or you can just reset the settings. I went with the reset of the settings.

This though somewhat a pain, as your iPad forgets your Apple ID, forgets all your wifi settings, amongst many things, it did initially appear to have the result I wanted. The smart keyboard does now work most of the time. I still have the odd “this accessory is not supported” error, but this is usually rectified by disconnecting and reconnecting the iPad to the keyboard.

I am hoping that in the future this stays like this, otherwise it will be a full hard reset of the iPad.

Well that’s a surprise!

War for the Planet of the Apes

Back in 2010 or thereabouts when buying movies, I would generally go for the what the trade called triple play movies, these sets contain a copy of the film on Blu-Ray, a copy on DVD and a digital copy for your mobile device.

With most of the films I bought the digital copy was in an iTunes format. This was fine with me as I already used the iTunes ecosystem for music and video. Since December 2011, I noticed that the trend was to use Ultraviolet DRM.

I blogged about the challenges I had with this back in 2013. Eventually I did manage to get the login processes sorted out with Ultraviolet and Flixter. Over the years I have built up a collection of films on Flixter. However compared to the user experience in iTunes it was never a smooth journey.

I had major challenges with my version of Edge of Tomorrow, resulting in being unable to play the downloaded film on my iPad. This was sorted out after numerous e-mails to Flixter support.

Another annoyance for me was that the Flixter app wouldn’t remember where I had got to in a film, if I had not finished watching. I would then need to work out where I was.

I also found it frustrating that I couldn’t play my Flixter films through an HDMI cable (via an adapter) to my TV or use Airplay. I suppose they thought if you wanted to watch on the big screen you would use the Blu-Ray disc.

The end result was that, I generally stopped specifically buying versions with a digital copy so would buy the Blu-Ray only. Also many studios appeared to stop selling the triple play format. I often found it easier to buy films from iTunes direct or more recently using Amazon Video after a good experience with Amazon Prime Video.

For Christmas this year I got War for the Planet of the Apes, which came with a Blu-Ray and a Digital Copy. It reminded me I had Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also on Blu-Ray with a digital copy. Now this had been a Christmas present in 2014 and hadn’t worked on my Blu-Ray player.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [Blu-ray + UV Copy]

I had gone out and bought the DVD version of the film and had stored the Blu-Ray version of the film aiming to sell it at some point. However feeling guilty that the Blu-Ray disc may be “corrupted” I had never actually done this, I didn’t want to sell a dud disc to anyone, so was wanting to check that it wasn’t a dud disc by using someone else’s Blu-Ray player. This I never got round to. This Christmas though, the family present was the XBox One S which can play Blu-Ray discs. Receiving the new Planet of the Apes film reminded me that I had Dawn of the Planet of the Apes so tried it out and it worked. I then decided now I had both discs out to redeem the digital codes.

So I started Flixter on the iPad, followed the instructions, which meant searching for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in the Flixter library and entering the redemption code (a much simpler process than it was back in 2013). I then checked the code for War for the Planet of the Apes. I followed the same instructions I had done for Dawn, but I couldn’t find War for the Planet of the Apes. Okay lets read the instructions… it said to go foxredeem.com and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could download War for the Planet of the Apes in an iTunes format (which I did).

Now I am not sure when 20th Century Fox stopped using Ultraviolet, but though still DRM, the iTunes format has worked much better for me than Ultraviolet.

So what about War for the Planet of the Apes, well I’ve not watched it yet…

My keyboard “isn’t supported”

Smart Keyboard

Ever since I upgraded my iPad Pro to iOS 11 I have been having problems with my Apple Smart Keyboard. Every so often the iPad seems to think that this “accessory” isn’t a proper accessory and “isn’t supported”.

Sometimes it’s a simple matter of detaching the iPad from the keyboard and re-attaching. Sometimes I have to shut down and hard restart the iPad.

A Google search hasn’t illuminated any clear solutions to the problem.