I love Newsstand on iThings, mainly on the iPad, though content is surprisingly accessible on the iPhone too. I love that I can decide over breakfast that I’d like to read a magazine, then download one without leaving the house; I love that I can access some obscure titles without placing a special order with my newsagent; I love that the magazines cost less than they do in the newsagent’s (there’s a shocking markup on magazines here in Ireland); I love that I don’t wind up with stacks of paper creating clutter and needing to be recycled, and that even if I’ve deleted an issue I can download it again for free any time; I love that I can bring a stack of magazines with me in my pocket when I leave the house; I love that I can zoom in on content if it’s not clear enough at standard size. There’s a lot to love.
SkyDrive is a cloud storage solution from Microsoft. It allows you to store content “in the cloud” and retrieve it through a web browser. They also provide free apps to allow access from Windows and Mac machines, Windows Phone and iThings. Anyone can sign up, for free, and at the time of writing, you get 25Gb of storage free with a basic account. Not to be sneezed at. You can add more storage (20-100Gb) for an annual fee (€8-€37).
There are a few nice features:
- You can create and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote files through the web interface. You won’t get all the functionality of the desktop versions of the software, but the essentials are there.
- You can share uploaded content (individual files, or whole folders) with specific individuals by issuing invitations. They’ll only see the specific content you’ve chosen to share with them once they log on. I find this handy for sharing large documentation deliverables, too large for mail server limits, with clients.
- If you install a desktop app on your PC or Mac, your SkyDrive will show up as a virtual drive on your local machine, and you can view and edit local copies of your content. Changes are synced back to the cloud. If your internet connection disappears, you might not notice, though, so for anything critical, it’s no harm to check your changes are in the cloud copy of the file before you shut down your machine and leave.
- Even better, you can access your PC or Mac remotely to pick up any files you forgot to upload to the SkyDrive. For this to work, your will need to be on, the SkyDrive app installed, and you’ll need to authenticate with a code mailed to the email address your SkyDrive is associated to.
- You can disconnect an authorised machine at any time via the web interface, so if your laptop is nicked, or you change jobs, you can break the link remotely.
Not bad at all for a free service.
@DaveGorman gave this a mention on twitter a couple of days ago, and I had to give it a try.
Available for free as a web app and for iThings, I Shot the Serif is a fun way to squander a few idle moments. And you can tell yourself that you’re developing useful proof reading skills while you’re at it.
Basically, you’re presented with a grid of random letters, half of which are in serif fonts and half in sans-serif. You have to select (shoot) the serifs, and leave the sans-serifs alone. You’re playing against a timer, and are allowed a certain number of mistakes. The higher the level you play at, the less time you have, and the fewer mistakes that are allowed.
The 5yo (still high on his zombie shooting buzz from last week) was keen to have a go when he saw me playing, and I was impressed by how well he did. I’m kidding myself that it’s helping him improve his reading skills (he does whisper the names of the letters to himself as he inspects each one), but really I know he just likes the sound effects.
Downsides: I found that on the iPhone this crashed very frequently, often when I was on my way to a highscore. And the shooting sound effects were a bit much for me, so I played with the volume off. Aside from those 2 niggles, it’s great fun.