Tech Stuff – Top Ten Blog Posts of 2015

Not too many posts on the tech blog this year,  surprised though that the post  Google Glass is Dead, or is it… didn’t make the top ten!

Looking at fonts especially those designed for comic strips was the tenth most popular posting in 2015. Written in 2010 it was about the excellent Comic Book Fonts available. Read the post Comic Book Fonts.

Thinking about the Apple TV back in 2012 was the ninth most popular post on the blog. Apple TV Thoughts was quite a long post on my reflection on the Apple device.


The eighth post is from 2008 when Apple added free episodes to the iTunes Store. The high ranking for this post is probably down the blog post title: Free iTunes TV Shows (on UK iTunes Store).

A few years ago my HP printer died when I replaced the inks. The seventh most read post is about my dead printer. My printer is dead!.

HP PhotoSmart B110a

I haven’t done a podcast choice for a while now, but the sixth most popular post on the blog was the second in the series, Podcast Choice #02 – Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4. Quite a popular post as people seem to keep wanting to have my copies of the shows I have downloaded over the years through iTunes.

Comic Life is one of my favourite apps on the Mac, but once I lost my styles and that is at number five. Where are my Comic Life Styles?

Wifi makes an appearance at number four, with my experiences at a Haven Holiday Camp. Haven no wifi.

More Wifi this time with my experiences with BT Wifi networks resulted in the third most read post, called I don’t like BT FON.

In November 2014, we finally got free wifi on First Great Western trains, and my post about this, Finally, free FGW wifi on the train was the second most popular blog post in 2015.

Cadbury Twirl Bites QR Code

I use to post a lot of posts on QR Codes and the most popular post the year was this one from January 2015 about the ones you found on Cadbury chocolate bars. Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling.

Happy New Year and all the best for 2016.

Podcast Choice #01 – TWiT

I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to. This series will discuss and review the different podcasts I listen to or have listened to. Last week I spoke about the why and how I listen to podcasts, now we look at the actual podcasts I listen to.

This week’s podcast is TWiT.

Your first podcast of the week is the last word in tech. Join Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, John C. Dvorak, and other tech luminaries in a roundtable discussion of the latest trends in high tech. Released every Sunday at midnight Pacific.

TWiT or This Week in Tech is probably the first podcast I listened to. The first episode was released (broadcast) on April 17th 2005. Though I only started listening in June of that year. The podcast has evolved since then into a huge podcasting network and TWiT is still there and broadcast on a weekly basis. Released on a Sunday it is usually the first or second podcast I listen to on the way into work on a Monday morning. It’s quite a long podcast so it also covers my return home as well.

So what’s it all about then?

Well as you might guess from the title it’s the tech news from the last week.

However as with any good show, the reason it works and why I listen to virtually every week is the format, the panelists and the host.

The format is a panel format, tech pundits and journalists (mainly from the US, but sometimes the UK or other places) get together and discuss the news from the week. Tangential conversations are the norm for the show, so as well as news from Apple, Google, Facebook and others, the conversation also veers off into wine, food, television and comedy. Though the panel changes, as people come back again and again, it builds a familiarity that ensures that when listening it seems comfortable.

The host, Leo Laporte, is a US based tech pundit and journalist, whom has a track record in tech journalisim going back years. Though I have to admit the first I heard about him, was when I first started listening to podcasts and TWiT. He is very good at what he does in moving the conversations along and bringing the stories to life.

It is compelling listening and an enjoyable amusing listen too. Oh and in case you were wondering, yes I did base the e-Learning Stuff podcast on this format too.

Find TWiT in iTunes.

TWiT on the web.

Podcast Choice #00


I have been asked a fair few times about the different podcasts I listen to. I not only have a lengthy commute to work, but also travel a fair bit for work, so it’s vital to me to have something to listen to.

In a previous job I use to listen to Radio 4, but after a while there is only so much of the Today programme and PM I can handle… Not that I don’t like those Radio 4 programmes, but listening to what was going to be the news that day on the way into work and then listening to virtually the same programme on the way back on what was the news that day, I decided it was time to change my listening habits. I use to record the radio a fair bit and listen to that, but back in 2005 something was happening to audio and that was the podcast. Though many will argue that Apple’s support of podcasts in iTunes that came about in June 2005 was more of a problem than a solution, it did mean that it was now much much easier for those who had an iTunes and iPod ecosystem to start listening to podcasts.

Now at the time I didn’t have an iPod connection in the car, so I use to burn the podcasts to CD and listen to them that way. Terrible from an environmental perspective, so moved away from that as quickly as I could.

Back in 2005 there weren’t that many podcasts as there are now, but some of those early pioneers are still here and still broadcast. Many mainstream broadcasters have jumped into the podcast arena and in many ways dominate the iTunes charts, however it is still possible for individuals and others to start podcasting. The e-Learning Stuff podcast is an example of how I have gone from consumer to producer.

So how many podcasts do I listen to a week?

Well it depends on the week, if I have a lot of travelling, as you might guess it’s a fair few. If I am on leave then it’s a lot less. One thing for sure though, is I treat podcasts more like newspapers than a TV series. With a TV series it’s important that you catch every episode, miss a week, and you’ll try and catch up. Now with some podcasts, you’ll want to listen to every episode, especially if is a dramatical or story based podcast. Most of the podcasts I listen to though, are more news like and as a result if I don’t listen to that week’s episode, I generally won’t try and catch up. It’s like last week’s newspaper, you could go back and read it, but to be honest who does, you’re much more likely to go to today’s paper and read that!

So what podcasts do I listen to?

Well I thought rather than just list them, I would write a little about each one, and publish them as a series of articles on this blog. It will also allow me to review new podcasts as and when I find them, likewise go back to old ones if they have changed a fair bit.

The first review will be here next week, hoping to do this weekly, but you know how it is, sometimes things will get in the way.

Always happy to hear podcast recommendations though, so what do you listen to?

Playing with the Apple TV

I spent a bit of time this evening trying out more of the different functions of my Apple TV. I have been using it more recently for streaming video from my iMac to my TV. Tonight though I wanted to see what else it was capable of. One thing the Apple TV will do is allow you to play video (and audio) podcasts to your TV.  I tried a couple of the (high quality) MacBreak Weekly podcasts and was quite impressed by how they looked on my TV. Not sure though if I would ever actually watch a whole episode of MacBreak Weekly on the TV, at this time I prefer to listen to it in my car. Though I am sure there are people out there who would watch it.

Like a lot of these devices, the Apple TV, allows you to watch YouTube on your TV, and though quite an easy interface, entering text on the Apple TV is nigh on impossible to do easily. The Apple Remote has very few buttons and makes the PlayStation text entry simple and effective! However all is not lost, Apple’s free Remote App for the iPad (and iPhone) allows you to use that to control the Apple TV. On the iPad this makes it much easier to enter text, such as names and search terms for YouTube.

I used this way to enter text to add my Flickr account to the Apple TV. Interestingly I had to my Flickr name, not my account name. I quite liked how I could show my Flickr images on the TV. This is how I show photographs quite a bit now, since I went digital, I certainly don’t print out as many prints as I should and like.

Overall there are many features of the Apple TV I like, the interface is quite usable and certainly much better than some other similar devices I have used. It is though not perfect, I would like to be able to use it to access BBC iPlayer, 4OD and other video on demand services and not just film rentals from iTunes.

Podcasts on the Nokia N95

Generally if I want to listen to a podcast, I use iTunes and sync with the iPod.

The other day I realised that I had forgotten to sync the iPod and therefore the latest version of MacBreak Weekly was not on my iPod.

Problem was, I was in my car and away from the computer.

So I stopped the car, and using my phone, a Nokia N95 I browsed to and clicked the relevant link for MacBreak Weekly.

The phone then started to download the podcast over the 3G data connection. So I drove off…

Unfortunately the first attempt failed for some reason, though I guess I may have lost the 3G signal.

So I tried again and this time it worked fine.

Now what I liked was that the operating system on the N95 knew it was a podcast and added it to the podcast area and started to play it.

I liked the way the phone downloaded the podcast really really fast and then knew what to do with it.

Podcasting Doctor Who

Tonight the first episode of Doctor Who of the new series (series four of the new new series and somebody will no doubt be able to tell me which actual series of Doctor Who it is if you take into account all the other Doctors. As it happens BBC Four is showing a William Hartnell Dalek story tonight (on right now as I write)).

Well not everyone knows that the BBC issue a commentary on the new series as a podcast which is available either from iTunes or from the BBC 7 website. Though the new Doctor Who Flash based website may have the audio files there as well, it’s not working for me on my Mac, none of the links work.

The podcast has the cast and crew talking about the episode.

Now what I didn’t know having subscribed via iTunes for the first three seasons which had podcasts, the last Christmas episode did not have a downloadable podcast, it was available as a stream only!

Why we’re doing things a little differently this Christmas. You’re probably wondering why the commentary for Voyage Of The Damned isn’t available as an MP3 and isn’t on iTunes.

This is because the BBC is only currently allowed to offer big downloads like this if they’re related to radio shows.

We’re working to reach a new agreement and get this and future commentaries back as downloads before Series Four, but in the meantime we’re streaming the one for Voyage Of The Damned.


Well they did manage to sort things out and thanks to BBC 7 we have the downloadable version back with us.

What a bizarre limitation, I wonder who insisted on that?

It is recommended that you watch the episode without the commentary first and then either listen (as I do) or watch again with the commentary.

I do like some commentaries (the cast commentaries on the Lord of the Rings films are really fun to listen to) and the Doctor Who ones have been pretty good in the past – though season three was my least favourite, here’s hoping that this new series of commentaries is better.

Download MacWorld 2008 Expo Keynote

Steve Jobs MacWorld 2008 Keynote

Sometimes depsite all your planning, it all falls apart.

Not living in San Francisco, actually I don’t even live in the US, I knew it was going to be impossible to attend the MacWorld 2008 Keynote in person. Though I didn’t realise until listening to MacBreak Weekly that it’s like an iPhone launch if you want to actually get in there in person, it starts at 9am, but you really need to start queuing at 4am – now that’s dedication.

So I couldn’t be there in person, like I was ever going to get there!

I didn’t really want to “view” the keynote by watching the Macrumors’ feed, or refreshing Engadget on a regular basis, or watching multiple tweets on Twitter (which I believe went down during the Keynote). I do like watching the stream (as though it was “live”. I subscribed the Macrumors spoiler free link. However fifteen hours after the Keynote, no e-mail giving me the link, I thought to myself, either there is no stream (there had to be, it said it was going to be made available on the Apple website) or (more likely) the Macrumors e-mail service had failed! It hadn’t completely failed, the e-mail telling me about the steam eventually arrived eighteen hours after the start of the Keynote!

So I went to the Apple website, obviously saw the MacBook Air on the front page and thought ah well, and clicked the link for the Keynote stream.

Now maybe it was my connection or my computer, but could I get the Keynote to stream? No.

I tried on two different connections with no luck. I tried on about four computers with no luck.

Probably too many people trying to access the stream.

I am not a great fan of streaming, as too often (with long videos) I want to pause the video as real life gets in the way, you know phone calls, coffee, e-mails, etc… I have found with some streaming, if I pause the stream it never restarts, so I need to start the whole stream from the beginning.

I even tried to find online a place to download the Keynote with no luck.

I was resigned to the fact that I was not going to be able to watch the Keynote this year. Ah well I had found out what was released and I had seen the sixty second version.

So imagine my surprise when looking at the top podcasts in the (UK) iTunes Store when there was the MacWorld 2008 Expo Keynote.

Well I am downloading all 900MB of that then!

I am surprised that not only was it available, but that Apple hadn’t really mentioned it on their main website.

Still downloading, and you know about everything that was mentioned, so leave me to enjoy that distortion field which is Steve Jobs.

One more thing…