Category Archives: tools

iPad 2 : First impressions…

(Do they still qualify as “first impressions” after owning the device for more than 24 hours?)

Yesterday I managed to get my hands on an iPad 2. Bear in mind that I had always thought of the original iPad as a good idea, but a bit of a waste of time and money – I mean, 400 quid for an overgrown iPhone that doesn’t let you call anyone? That, though, was before I saw the GarageBand demo. I saw one video on YouTube and it changed the game for me. As some of you know, I am often called on the be away from home, so having a very capable 8 track studio in my laptop bag is a big draw.

Anyway, I patiently waited my opportunity to pick up one of the new generation, albeit the bottom of the range 16GB wifi model. They first thing that struck me was how well it sits in my hands. That Mr. Ive is a talented designer, and his stuff always looks the part but I hadn’t realised how natural these devices feel in use.

The bundled apps on the device are pretty good too. Safari has always been a great browser and the iOS version is no exception. The mail client took seconds to configure with my main email account, and the app store experience is a joy after using the Windows Phone 7 marketplace for a few months.

So now came the big moment – installing GarageBand. I was expecting it to be more difficult than it actually was, for some reason. In the end, I just found the app in the app store, clicked on the buy button, and a couple of minutes later I was up and running with my new (almost) pocket sized studio. Having used the full version on my MacBook I was familiar with most if the functions, and it took me literally 10 minutes to get a half way decent recording down using just e out of the box instruments. Adding in the iRig guitar adapter that I bought, I was recording guitar parts that sounded like they had been recorded for a lot more money than I had just shelled out (apart from the dodgy playing, obviously).

So, all in all I’m extremely happy with the iPad 2. If you are a friend on Facebook you may well have noticed a few posts to that effect. ;)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go explore the app store some more to find a good Facebook client…


Mars Edit – Blogging tool

This post is brought to you by the pretty nifty Mars Edit by Red Sweater.

I’ve been looking for an OSX blogging client, and over the Christmas period I discovered Mars Edit. It’s pretty similar to Windows Live Writer in a lot of ways – it allows you to write, modify and remove posts from your blog. The interface, as you’d pretty much expect from a Mac app, is intuitive and gives you just about everything you need for basic blogging. There’s even a 30 day free trial (which I’m using now, just until I get around to buying a licence on Monday.

If you’re in the market for a Mac blogging tool, I’d recommend checking this out.


Essential Tools

Insipired by Scott Hanselman’s blog post on the subject, I’ve decided to compile a lit of the tools I’ve added to my new developer machine.  Most of these are producivity enhancements, but some are just for fun.

These are just the Windows apps.  I use a MacBook at home, but haven’t got around to compiling a list of utilities I use there.  Maybe some day…

Productivity tools

  • Paint.Net - .Net based image manipulation package.
  • 7-Zip – Archive management utility
  • NotePad 2 – Fully featured text editor, with (some) syntax highlighting.
  • Windows Grep – I do a lot of work with text files, and missed the Unix Grep command.  Here’s an alternative for Windows.
  • Tail for Windows - Another unix utility port for Windows.
  • CodeRush & Refactor! - Arguably, this should have been top of my list, but since they are paid-for software I’ll leave them languishing down here.  They get used every time I’m in Visual Studio, though.
  • Snippet Compiler - Great for very small proof-of-concept testing.
  • Lutz Roeder’s .Net Reflector – Not going to link to this since it is now full of advertising and other nastiness. The original is out there – check through Google.

Fun Stuff

I’m sure there are many more that I’ve missed, but I’ll add them when I remember about them. :)