I’ve always loved microscopes, but I’ve also hated them in a way. As a kid, my microscope used a mirror or a really tiny light to illuminate the tiny worlds of fly hair and dried and stained amoebas. When I put my eye up against the lens, I often saw more eyelash than fly leg hair. And as I zoomed in, my light source made for ever darker images that turned the intricacies of nature into abstract art.
As an adult, I stopped looking at really tiny things unless I could find a picture of them in book or on a website. At least until now. Now I have a Bodelin ProScope Micro Mobile ($149). This handy device transforms an iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini or iPod Touch into a microscope. Unlike earlier Bodelin microscopes that looked like science fiction guns and required their own WiFi network to stream images to an iOS device and receiving app, the new ProScope Micro Mobile stands alone (well, alone if you count being mounted to an iPhone as alone).
Dictionaries define serendipity as “The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way." So it has been for Seattle design firm, Design Commission. What started out as a holiday gift has evolved into three new business lines focused on helping them design and build digital products, like websites, e-commerce applications, and mobile apps.
The WorldCard Link ($39.95, Pro $69.95) is an iPhone tripod for business cards. Mount the iPhone on the front of the device and business cards on the back, and once configured, the app takes a photograph of a business card, performs OCR, and places the data into the app. From there, it's easy to put the contact into your local contact databases on the iPhone, which then makes it available to iCloud, Google, or a file storage system like Dropbox. Use all of these with PenPower's own proprietary contact management system. The WorldCard Link comes in different versions for iPhone 4/4s and iPhone 5.
iPhone 5 cases continue to arrive on the market in all shapes and sizes. Here is a roundup of a few of the more unusual ones I’ve received over the last few weeks.
There is nothing like a classy leather bag when traveling. The Bennett Messenger-Style Bag (£269.95) by Jill-e designs (a member of the company's men's or "Jack" line), is just such a product.
With all the nylon, pleather, and cheap leather on the market now, it's easy to forget that good leather displays an entirely unique suppleness, sheen, and aroma. Jack abounds in richness of feel and appearance.
The bag's full cloth interiors hold a 15-inch or smaller notebook computer, an iPad, or other tablet and also has room for a pen, papers, notepads, cleaning cloths, extra batteries or business cards in its two interior pockets. On the outside is a large, full-length pocket ideal for large business papers, books, or other what-not.
Businesses need to manage social media in an efficient and effective way. As popular client software like TweetDeck—once a cross-platform social media management tool of choice—became the captive property of Twitter, such social media management apps options narrowed.
Enter Viralheat (free). Viralheat is an app and service that offers comprehensive management of all major social networks. The iPhone app offers the ability to create posts for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Facebook pages associated with an account. The application also permits the future scheduling of posts.
Getting started with the app is as simple as creating a new Viralheat account or logging in with Twitter or Facebook (I always recommend a separate account should any party involved become untrustworthy).
We all need power. We aren't sure how much, but a constant stream certainly makes us feel better than an unsteady one. If you are going somewhere without power or if a storm or other natural disaster is heading your way, you may want to consider an external battery for your iPhone and iPad to make sure you stay covered. Check out these collections from Lenmar and Powerocks
Before I review my collection of external batteries, let me digress. Recently, I watched the 1979 television show Connections with James Burke. The first episode, called "The Trigger Effect," chronicled the 1965 Northeast Blackout that started in a Niagara Falls substation and cascaded throughout Northeast Canada and the United States. Burke examined the power failure from a 1979 perspective, a year with no mobile computing, very few personal computers, and a handful of primitive game consoles. In 1979 social media hadn’t been invented—people dialed up computer forums with 300bps modems.
New iOS keyboards continue to venture forth. Here are my thoughts on the latest arrivals:
The Belkin FastFit Keyboard cover is designed to compete with the Zagg PROplus iPad Keyboard ($129.99) and the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($99.99). Unlike those two cases, the Belkin FastFit offers two viewing angles, which means you'll have a lot of open space on the far end of the keyboard, in fact, too much when you see it next to these other keyboards. As with most portable keyboards, Belkin misses a key touch typing element: the full-sized shift key on the right-hand side of the keyboard. Push everything back a half-inch or so and the same arrangement of keys can be easily accommodated. I'm not sure why keyboard manufacturers continue to make this fundamental mistake when Zagg, Logitech, and Clamcase clearly demonstrate keyboards that easily make room for a full-sized right shift key.
Moxtra (free) brings together real-time collaboration and personal knowledge management in an app designed to help people collect their artifacts of work or play. Moxtra lets you not only share your projects with others, but work on them together across a variety of mobile modalities. Many people compare Moxtra to Evernote or to Microsoft’s OneNote, and to be honest, there are overlaps.
There is nothing new about collaboration. Lotus Development, now part of IBM Corporation, created the first large-scale enterprise solution with Lotus Notes. Developers designed and built Lotus Notes and all other current collaboration solutions during the era of client-server computing, where internal servers hosted databases accessed by desktop computers. We now live in a post-PC world where devices need different tools and workers have widely different expectations.
Increasingly, businesses rely on audio and video technology for enterprise training, conference calls, not to mention spring and summer office parties! Therefore, I'm reviewing two new speakers, not through the lens of the audiophile, but of the business user for a change.