Thursday, 27 June 2013

Flipboard and Facebook for Windows 8

It is currently Build 2013 which is Microsoft’s equivalent to the World Wide Developers Conference. Last year at Build they announced the Windows 8 Preview (which is the metro PC operating system) and the Microsoft Surface (Microsoft’s own touchscreen computer).

This year they released the Windows 8.1 Preview for developers and announced that Facebook and Flipboard will soon be coming to the Windows 8 app marketplace.
To be honest, the Windows 8 app market is currently weak. It got off to a decent start last October when over 1000 apps were getting added to the store everyday but now that number has decreased to only a few dozen and some big titles are still missing.
Flipboard and Facebook luckily being added to the Marketplace and this will hopefully make Windows 8 a lot more popular.

Flipboard is the most popular iPad app and it uses tiles (similar to Windows 8 tiles) to display news from various different feeds. Since Windows 8 was launched last November both critics and consumers have been saying that Flipboard would be perfect for Windows 8. The only thing we know about this app so far is from the 9 second video that the Flipboard team uploaded onto YouTube yesterday. We can clearly see that it is the Flipboard we all know and love however it also has some modifications to make it better on Windows 8.

Facebook is an app which has been needed on Windows 8 since it first launched. The Facebook website is anything but touch friendly so is terrible when using it on touch screen devices and the 3rd party Facebook apps currently available just look like a stretched version of the Facebook mobile site.

Unfortunately we do not know the exact release date of these two apps however they will be coming before the end of the year and will work great on Windows 8.1. Both companies are also showing enthusiasm about making their app ‘the best on the app Market’ so we can certainly trust they are going to be fluid, fast and intuitive. Whatever more would you want out of an app?

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Shine Awards Tomorrow!

The Wyvern at the 2012 Shine Awards
Tomorrow, Jack Barker (cameraman), Ben Maclean (director) and I (editor-in-chief) will be taking the voyage down to London for the annual Shine School Media Awards. The award ceremony is taking place at Stationers Hall (near St Paul's Cathedral) and starts at 12:15PM.

Last year was the first year 'The Wyvern' entered the Shine Awards and we came runners up in the best editorial content category and I won the award for the most outstanding pupil. This year the Wyvern is nominated for the best community initiative (for our connections with the community and the rest of the school) and best online (for the amazing Wyvern Website). The whole team hopes that we walk away with at least one of these awards.

You can find the link to the Shine Award edition of the Wyvern here: Scribd

As always, there are loads of ways you can follow our journey tomorrow and get live updates. You can follow any of these accounts on Twitter:
@DSMSUK - The school
@DSMS_Wyvern - The newspaper
@papermail7 - Me!

Or you can watch this page on the Wyvern Website: Shine Awards 2013 Finalists
Or wait for the next Wyvern TV where we will have a full video roundup of the day.

The Essentials
In preparation for tomorrow I've got three items ready which I will definitely need for the trip.

HTC Radar
This is no iPhone however it has the essential stuff like Twitter, a decent camera and live notifications. This will be my way to contact to the rest of the Wyvern team back in Darlington and the rest of the world (through Twitter).

Parker Pen
Chances are I'll need to make some notes throughout the day or do a small amount of writing so I've got my best pen just in case. I know some people who find it just as easy to make notes on their phones however I hate writing using small smartphone keyboards.

Sony Camcorder
I don't know the exact model and name however the camcorder I will be using is small, HD, has image stabilisation and can also be a camera if I need it to be. It can easily fit in my pocket and I just need to flick the screen open if I want to do some filming for the Wyvern TV.

In conclusion, I for one cannot wait for tomorrow morning so we can represent the Wyvern team and hopefully receive an award for the dedication, enthusiasm and persistence the whole Wyvern team has put in over the last 12 months.
I'm sure tomorrow will be an extremely enjoyable experience where we will get to see similar school newspapers and talk to fellow teenage journalists.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Saturday 22nd June 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 22nd June 2013 and...

Instagram update allows Video posts
Instagram, the photo sharing service owned by Facebook, is now allowing users to upload 15 second videos after a new update to the iOS and Android app. After recording your video you can add one of the thirteen video filters, pick a thumbnail image and share it on various social networks. This update comes less than half a year after the successful launch of Vine (a 6 second video sharing app owned by Twitter.)
The new update is okay however it takes ages to complete all of the steps to upload your video and it also takes awhile for them to load on your Instagram feed.
Overall, Instagram wasn't under any pressure to come up with anything new and unique because they were doing fine with just photo uploads however this update may have made them slightly more popular. I for one will not be using Instagram's micro-video sharing feature because Vine is more simple and faster.

Google Reader Alternatives
With the popular Google Reader service being retired early next month many other tech companies have launched a competition RSS reader to cater for your RSS feed needs.
Feedly is the main company whose business has been booming since Google announced that it was shutting down Google Reader. Apparently thousands of accounts got transferred from Google Reader to Feedly in the matter of days after Google announced the retirement. Feedly offers a clean website and app with basically everything you would want in an RSS reader. Everything is simple and basic which isn't a bad thing.
Flipboard is a popular app for reading the news from both official sources and your social feeds. It sent an email to all of it's users earlier this week showing them how they could easily import their Google Reader accounts into the Flipboard app. Flipboard offers a service which looks stunning however there is no web version and Flipboard only excels when using it on an iPad.
Digg launched an RSS reader beta earlier this week. It is even more basic than Feedly however it is likely to be more popular since Digg already has hundreds of thousands of customers. The beta version is only on the web so far and it is extremely black and white. Although it is easy to use it looks really boring and too flat. The team at Digg said that they made this in half the time they would have liked to and they will continue updating and improving it even after it's official launch. Digg Reader is coming out of beta next Wednesday.
AOL has also launched a beta RSS reader this week. We don't know what it is going to look like or if it is going to bring any unique features to the table as it is still in private beta however it launches in two days time so we will find out then.

All these services are extremely similar however I think I will be using the Digg RSS reader to replace Google Reader. It looks promising and comes from a trustworthy team of geeks.

DSMS Sports Day
On Tuesday 18th June 2013 it was Sports Day at DSMS where pupils from all years went out on to the school field to race against each other. More information here: The Wyvern

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Sports Day 2013

Read the full story of Sports Day 2013 on the Wyvern Website. It includes results, videos, images and more...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Windows 8.1 Preview

The Windows 8.1 Start Screen
Earlier this week Microsoft officially showed off for the first time Windows 8.1 which is a free update available to all Windows 8 users later this year. The preview showed hundreds of new changes and new features which will be available to download in a consumer preview from 26th June.

First thing which was shown off, and the thing you'll first realise when you turn on your new PC, is the new sized live tiles. There are now extremely small live tiles and extremely big live tiles so you can see even more information without even needing to click on an app.
You can how have your 'Start Screen' background as an animated graphic, the same as your desktop mode background or you can choose one of hundreds of colours now. Not just the 25 which are available on Windows 8. Both these features make your start screen even more unique and personal to you.

The 'Settings' menu on the 'Modern' user interface was very limited on Windows 8 with only some of the settings available to actually tweak there. If you wanted to change the majority of the settings you needed to open 'Control Panel' on the desktop mode which isn't ideal if you are using a touchscreen. Luckily though, in Windows 8.1 almost 100% of the settings are now available to edit under the 'PC Settings' option in the charms menu.

Start Button
The iconic Windows 'Start' button returns on Windows 8.1 and it is used just as a way to get back to the home menu on desktop mode. We don't know much about what else it may be able to do however this is a risky move as there is already two 'Start' buttons on most Windows 8 devices currently. One in the middle at the bottom of your device (if it is a tablet) and on in the middle of the charms menu.

The searching function on Windows 8 was pretty good. You can search for an item by opening the charms menu and selecting search and then typing an app, contact, song, video or anything else. It even searched the web if you wanted it to making a lot better than the search tools on Android and iOS devices. In Windows 8.1 it is made even better by making a collage of your search results. You can search in the same way however the results get displayed in a unique 'metro' styled way which makes finding what you are lucking for even easier!
The example we were shows was a search for Marilyn Monroe. The 'Search' feature showed an image of her followed by her basic information like her day of birth and day of death. It then showed videos and movies related to her (clicking on them would take you to XBOX Video) and then if you scrolled along you can see some of her songs, then some more images and then relevant web links.

Apps are one of the most important things to have when launching a new operating system. Microsoft are adding a number of apps in Windows 8.1 including an alarm, sound recorder, calculator and a replacement for Windows Movie Maker called Movie Moments. Movie Moments was extremely basic when it was first previewed in March and only offered the ability to add text over videos. All the XBOX Apps (Music, Video and Games) are getting relaunched to so it takes 2 clicks to do what you need to do instead of the current 6 clicks. This is basically making Windows 8.1 a better experience which more people will want to use.

In Windows 8 you can have only 2 apps open at a time (which is still better than iOS) however in Windows 8.1 you will be able to have upto 4 apps open at a time depending on the size of your screen. You will also be able to select exactly how much screen space you want an app to take up (either 25%, 33%, 50%, 66%, 75% or of course 100%.)

Outlook 2013
Windows Mail on Windows 8 is an extremely basic email app with limited functions and a is way too slow compared with competitor apps. Outlook however has been one of the most popular email managing softwares for the last decade. It is the most powerful and includes the most features.
After complaints that it didn't come in Office 2013 on Windows RT Microsoft has decided to add the desktop program to all Windows RT devices in the Windows 8.1 update.

How the update will look to current Windows 8 users
The Future
There is also rumours that you'll also be able to interact with notifications (if that makes any sense), there will be a new Start menu on desktop mode with a clean design and a new way to turn your PC off however we will need to wait until the Consumer Preview launch on June 26th to find out more.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Saturday 15th June 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 15th June 2013 and...

Liverpool Yellow Duckmarine 'Wet it Be'
The iconic and old Yellow Duckmarine amphibious vehicles take dozens of tourists in Liverpool around the historic city every day and they used to finish each tour with an amazing plunge into the famous Albert Dock however a few months ago they had to stop making the voyage into the water after one of their vehicles started to slowly sink. The press over exaggerated this making it sound like people got wet as the big yellow duck went to the bottom in seconds however it actually took closer to 45 minutes for it to fully sink - by which time everyone on board had been rescued.
Only a few weeks ago, the ducks were allowed to take back to the water however earlier today a tragedy happened. One of the vehicles sunk in a matter of minutes and made approximately 27 people need to be treated in hospital (mostly for shock though).
I did one of these tours earlier this year on a city break in Liverpool when they weren't allowed to enter the water because they were under investigation however it was a great tour. Unfortunately, the future of the Yellow Duckmarine company may be bleak.

The iOS 7 app screen on the iPhone 5
iOS 7 Announced
Apple, on Monday, revealed its new operating system for mobile devices. They've went back to the drawing board and came up with a fresh, clean and stylish operating system which admittedly looks quite familiar. Although Apple of course won't admit it, it is clear that iOS 7 has taken the best parts from Android, Windows Phone and their previous operating systems and then mashed them together. Despite this - they have done it beautifully and created a masterpiece. The new design still may take awhile to get used to and it might also take quite a long time to figure out all the new features however once you do you will be impressed.
Of course though, Apple has added some fancy gimmicks one of them being the app screen; when you tilt your phone backwards it knows you are doing it so it changes to screen so you can look underneath your apps. Siri also has an amazing, intuitive and sexy new look and it's voice even sounds more realistic.
Tech expects, developers and journalists haven't decided what they think of iOS 7 yet however their opinion doesn't really matter, it is the average consumer who Apple will need to wow when they release iOS 7 in Autumn.

Wyvern TV #12
The 12th Episode of the DSMS Wyvern TV. We interview Mr Haylock about his time at DSMS, we tell you about the outstanding Wyvern Website and we have a huge feature on Art and Culture.

Monday, 10 June 2013

iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 announced at WWDC 2013

Whether you a a Microsoft supporter, Google fan or Apple enthusiast WWDC is the event of the year because it is the time when Apple announces their newest operating system for their device that they'll launch later this year. It is the operating system all other operating systems will be compared to and it is the OS which is the most popular, most publicised and with the most available apps.

Like all Apple keynotes the morning started with a video boasting about all Apple has achieved and then Mr Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) took to the stage to talk about WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) itself and how it has been such a success. Apparently it only took 71 seconds until all the seats were sold out and that is even with adding another 2000 seats for the conference!

He then went on to talk about the iconic App Store and how next month it will be 5 years old. 50 million apps downloaded, 900,000 apps in the App Store and 375,000 apps are designed specifically for the iPad. Apple apparently paid out $5 in the last year to app developers alone which is at least 3 times more than any other platform.
"On behalf of Apple, I'd like to thank all of the developers here for making such incredible apps." ~ Tim Cook (CEO of Apple).

OS X 10.9
Then Cook went on to talk about the Apple Mac. The annual  growth rate for Mac is 15% compared to the growth rate of 3% for PC's. The iMac is the No.1 desktop computer in the US and Mountain Lion got 28 million downloads making it their best ever software release.

Craig Federighi (Senior Vice President of Software engineering at Apple) then came on stage to talk about OSX and their latest operating system, 'Mavericks'. The new desktop operating software introduces tagging; this allows you to tag documents (no matter where you save them) so they are easier to find. Mavericks also has better support for multiple displays. If you have a HDTV with Airplay connected you can connect that and the dock and menu bar is now on your second screen instead of just your wallpaper. Mission Control is now optimized for two screens two. We don't exactly know how but no doubt it will work great.
Apple are adding Apple Maps to OS X 10.9 (since it was such a great success on iOS 6) and they are updating Safari so it has more features similar to what is already available on Google Chrome.

Apart from that though, 'Mavericks' doesn't seem to be like a major update. It enhances your experience on Mac however it just adds onto the previous OS instead of reinvent a things. Apple obviously knows not to change their winning formula. OS X 10.9 will be available before the year is out.

Next on the agenda was iCloud. iCloud hasn't been an amazing success since it's launch a couple of years ago however Apple are betting on it this time. They are launching iWork for browsers. It will work in real time however sounds extremely similar to Google Drive. Only major differences between iWork for the web and Google Drive is that Google's design is better however iWork for the Web has more features to offer. It works on every browser 'even Internet Explorer' and it will be available to the general public later this year. I think it will be extremely useful to see how it compares with Microsoft Office 2013 on SkyDrive and Google Drive.

iOS 7
Then Tim Cook came back out and started talking about the thing everyone wanted to hear about. iOS. He started with a number of bar charts showing how much better iOS is to any other operating system and how it is the dominating force.
Cook then stated that Apple has sold over 600 Million iOS devices!

As expected Cook then said "iOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iPhone. It's packed with tons of new features, and a stunning new user interface."
He then showed of a video explaining some of the features of iOS 7. 
All icons have been redesigned, all typography has been changed and the lock screen has been reinvented.
The design looks a lot cleaner and there is a lot more white space. The app icons look a lot more colourful and childish however some of the native apps do look like they have wasted space. Some of the native apps even look extremely similar to current Android apps which are for the same purpose. The user interface even has some similarities to Windows Phone.

As predicted the calendar app has been completely changed. It now is a lot cleaner and has more functions. The weather app has been updated with a automatic updating app icon (aka Live Tile to current Windows Phone users) and the iMessage app has also been reinvented. Despite this though the iMessage app now looks crowded and like it has too much information trying to fit in such a small space. Apple seems to have ran out of felt and wood because all the apps and parts of the UI now feature a clear background.
You can now use AirDrop which is cool (if you want to BlueTooth stuff again) and they say that you will also be able to experience a longer battery life. Apple has added a Control Center which gives you easy access to tweak media playing, brightness and other settings.

Safari has been rebuilt from scratch. It now lets you use more of the screen and share/sync your web pages easier.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Saturday 8th June 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 8th June 2013 and...

Britain's Got Talent Final
Tonight it is the final of the 7th series of the popular talent show Britain's Got Talent where there are a huge range of acts hoping to win the opportunity to perform in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety show later this year.
Some of the most popular finalists include, 14-year-old comedian - Jack Carroll, singer - Asanda and child dancing group - Pre-Skool.
5 of the 10 acts in the final are children/teenagers, 6 of the 10 acts in the final are singers and there is still 1 act in the final whom hasn't been announced yet as they are a wildcard selected by the judges.
The amazing performance from 'Attraction'
'Attraction' are a group of dancers who have amazed audiences with their stories told through silhetoes however they have been in the press this week since they've also been on the Hungarian and German versions of the show. In an interview with Radio 1's Newsbeat Amanda Holden, whom is a judge on Britain's Got Talent, said "I think that Simon Cowell is right when he says we're part of Europe, we embrace the Europeans. I think if they win, amazing, and if they don't they're, going to go on and have a huge career anyway." She defended the final of the show as ITV are hoping to beat the 12.5 million viewers they had for the final of last years show.

An artists impression of one of the earliest Primates
Old Fossil Found
I'm not a scientific expert - especially when it comes to fossils and that is why I couldn't think of anything better for a title however this is a truly fascinating story.
In China earlier this week a fossil was found of a mouse sized animal which is believed to be one of the species which evolved from the same family tree as humans. The creature, pictured smiling in the picture on the left, is called the 'Archicebus' and thought to be over 55 million years old!

Evolution Family Tree
Mammals - Adapid - Lemurs
One of the interesting
Windows Phone concepts
Mammals - Archicebus - Tarsier
Mammals - Monkey - Ape - Human

Microsoft shows off early Metro Windows Phone designs
I'm assuming these concept designs for Windows Phone were made just before the launch of Windows Phone 7 when the Windows Mobile team were trying to reinvent their smartphone OS.
After these pictures were released earlier today many people now think that Microsoft should have went with the concepts instead of what they did go with. It looks a lot better, more colourful and less a lot less plain and boring. Maybe we could see Windows Phone 9 looking like this though.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Watching Netflix Together

From Apple to Facebook, every major technology business believes the future will be based around your online friends and sharing your experiences with them however Netflix isn't following that trend.

I was talking with a friend about Netflix earlier this week and they said it would be better if you didn't need to pay a £5.99 fee every month (however everyone thinks that) and he said there is no feature to watch programs with friends. We then discussed how cool it would be if you could watch the same program at the same time as your friend however in your own house. This would allow families who live far apart to watch TV programs and films together and see key points in the plot unfold together.

In conclusion, it's not a huge feature however it is definitely something I'd like to see in Netflix in the future.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Saturday 1st June 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 1st June 2013 and...

Windows 8.1
Microsoft unofficially showed of its next desktop/tablet operating system to various technology journalists and developers earlier this week. It is called Windows 8.1 and it improves on the current Windows 8. It adds various new features, new apps and settings.
Windows 8.1 is making the quite unsuccessful Windows 8 look quite popular and I’ve already seen dozens of tweets from both consumers and developers saying that if Windows 8.1 delivers all Microsoft is promising they will splash out and buy it. In my opinion though Windows 8.1 should have come out last year. The current version of Windows (Windows 8) feels incomplete and if you want to perform basic tasks like listening to XBOX Music you need to navigate through a slow and clunky system until you find the track you want.
Windows 8.1 makes personalisation a lot easier as it lets you use your pictures for more things, it introduces some new apps such as a currency converter, calculator and alarm clock and it brings back the ‘Start’ button. Multi-tasking on Windows 8 only currently allows you to have 2 apps open at the same time on screen (one app taking 75% of the screen and another app taking the remaining 25%), you cannot split the screen 50/50 for apps or have 3 apps open taking up 33% each however in Windows 8.1 this is made possible.
There seems to be hundreds more features that Microsoft has added to Windows 8.1 and I’ll be uploading a post in the near future informing you of all the new and exciting features that Windows 8.1 will bring.

Matt Smith quits as Doctor Who
After 4 years of doing the show, 11th Doctor, Matt Smith has decided to put his sonic screwdriver back in the box and hang up his keys to the TARDIS. The BBC announced in the late hours of last night that Matt Smith will no longer play ‘The Doctor’ in Doctor Who after the 2013 Christmas Special of the show. Matt Smith is the 11th Doctor Who and it has not yet been confirmed who will take his place traveling through time and space.