PCAuthority iPad App – A welcome change… but a bit delayed.

Last month PC Authority, which is now known as PC & Tech Authority released an iPad app which provides an electronic version of their magasine. For those of us that have iPad’s and have been craving some form of electronic version can now enjoy it to it’s fullest.

However I do have one gripe. My print subscription is coming to an end (I thought it was last month however it looks like I got the February edition of the magasine as well) and I noticed something quite disturbing. For the last few days I have been eagerly checking the PC Authority iPad app for the latest edition of the mag, much to my dismay I have still not seen it.

After going over to my folks place (where my paper edition of the mag is delivered) and realising that in fact the paper version of the mag was out some time last week I became disheartened. I cannot believe in this day an age that for something they are promoting so heavily, the paper version of the magasine is still released well before the electronic version.

What got my blood boiling even more as I read through the paper edition was the following image… (which for the record has the iPad application showing the February edition of the mag, which is still unavailable on the iPad itself) Nuff said I guess. I hope that PC Authority can pick up the game a little on release schedules. I realise it is early days but you would think this is one thing they would be trying to focus on especially around this time of the year.

PC & Tech Authority Magasine Snapshot

Update: I can happily say that I just received the following email from Sam Grimmer who is the Creative Director at Haymarket Media. Awesome to see such a fast response.

Stuart

Hi Stuart
 Thanks for your mail. Just wanted to let you know that the Feb iPad issue is going 
 to be available in the the next 36 hours. The delay is simply a function of Haymarket 
 Media closing for the Christmas break. The print edition was sent to press on the very 
 last day of last year and for reasons of quality control we produce the iPad edition in 
 the week following the print deadline ie; while the mag is being printed and distributed. 
 In this case, the break pushed the iPad production week back until the new year.

 

All other iPad editions of PC&TA throughout the year will be available on the magazine's onsale date as you would expect. The only alternative for us would have been to delay the onsale date of the mag until now to guarantee a twin release.

 

Thanks for your feedback Stuart. Clearly it would have been useful for us to state the Feb release date in the ad you refer to. I'm glad you are so keen to see the iPad edition!

 

Best regards and feel free to send me your thoughts on the iPad edition. It's an exciting extension of our magazine and we will be adding more features and exclusive iPad content as we move forward.

 

Best regards
Sam Grimmer

Leave the laptop, take the iPad – Conferences

Apple iPad
Image Copyright by Apple, All Rights Reserved

Recently I attended the Asia Pacific Blackboard Summit 2010 in Cairns which was the first conference I had attended where I had my shiny new iPad with me.

To that end I thought I would take the chance to do a little bit of a roundup on how my iPad held up during the conference and my thoughts surrounding its usefulness as a tool for the professional at a conference. Prior to me getting too far into it I would like to say that I am writing this article after choosing to use my laptop as little as possible through out the conference so this article really is targeted at detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the iPad rather than a comparison between a laptop and the iPad.

Outline of my minimum requirements for connectivity during the conference:

  1. Access work email and calendar as well as personal email and calendar
  2. Provide basic remote support for any issues at the office
  3. Take notes during the conference and meetings if required
  4. Provide sufficient battery life to stand up to regular and at times constant use throughout the day without a recharge
  5. Let me keep in contact with the rest of my life on a personal level such as Facebook, forums, reading the online news papers and so on and so fourth

Having said that there were a couple of additional nice to haves which, while not required, I wanted a device to satisfy which included:

  • Entertain me on the flight to and from the destination (three hour flight)
  • Provide entertainment during “slow” periods at the conference
  • Enable me to do a bit of blogging if the chance arose
  • Provide the ability to tweet through out the conference when such an appropriate time presented itself.

Interesting points I discovered:

  1. I *had* to use my laptop once during the conference to do some advanced remote support for the office, this was things that could not be done on the iPad
  2. The battery life on the iPad is spectacular, I put it through its paces for an entire day at the conference, then the three hour flight back home and still had 40% battery life remaining
  3. The iPad is not built for extremely heavy use of the browser, if you attempt to open more than 3 tabs in the browser at most you are likely to get the message saying you are running low on the battery
  4. There are a few applications which are immensely useful for the professional on the road which are outlined further below.

Applications I recommend:

  • Evernote – A note taking application (which includes voice recording among with a lot of other features). Also provides the ability to easily sync the notes with your desktop when you are back at the office.
  • LogMeIn – An application to have remote access to computers back in the office/home, obviously requires some prior setup to be completed so that the computers will be accessible.
  • Twitter – The new twitter app available, nice and swish and worked like a dream.
  • iSSH – For remote access to my webserver

In future will I leave my laptop at home and take an iPad in its place?

Personally, for a three day conference I would have no qualms in doing so. When it comes down to the punch however it would depend on a condition dictated by the workplace. If there was even the remote possibility that advanced remote support would be required there would  have to be a full fledged computer close by (such as a business lounge) or if a workmate had a laptop that would suit as well, otherwise I would still have to take the laptop.

For a three day conference I was quite content to keep in touch with the world through my iPad, granted when I was in my room I used my laptop a couple of times, but anything I wanted to do I could have easily done on the iPad without breaking a sweat.

Granted this is just one guys opinion but I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed with how the iPad held up over the three days. And I was stoked that I did not have to worry about the battery life, in fact it was the one thing that I was utterly surprised with in just how long the battery held up. I do apologise that I do not have specific timings but the usage tab of the iPad does not say how long the iPad has been in use for like the iPhone does.

I welcome your thoughts and questions on how you use the iPad (or similar) in place of a laptop at conferences.
Stuart

A Rundown of RentACoder

Sometimes we all run into programming issues, website design issues, templating problems and a wide array of other issues that come into managing a website. I have found myself turning more frequently to RentACoder.com to find someone who has the skills to help fix my problem quickly and easily. If like me you have found yourself asking “Who can help me fix this site” or “Where can I find a cheap developer to fix a small bug” then hopefully I can pass on my experiences to help you.

Over the past few years I have had eight “Bid Requests” completed and have found the people I selected for the work to deliver great results in a timely fashion. I should also mention that I have used the site to find someone to design logos on more than one occasion as well which have produced some great results (like that of my logo on Eccentric Reality Photography).

However I would like to give a word of caution to those who are considering using RentACoder (or RAC as it is also sometimes known as), on my most recent project that I submitted I decided to take on a new coder with no work history which I have done a couple of times now, the work tends to come out cheaper and I like the opportunity to give someone a go. Generally when doing this I plan ahead with plenty of time to ensure if I have a deadline that the work needs to be done I can always get someone else if the first person falls through.

What I did not contemplate however was that when the other party failed to deliver, the arbitration that RAC has in place (to protect both parties) can actually take significant time. So if money AND time are an issue I would strongly recommend you steer clear of choosing someone with little to no work history on the site.

But for the most part I am very happy, I have now found someone who is working extremely quickly to get my problems fixed on my other site (in this case CSS issues) and in the end it will only cost me $40USD which is a bargain in my eyes.

So, if you are in need of some things on your site fixed I would gladly recommend RentACoder as a good place to find someone to help you out.

The Good:

  • Quite easily thousands of developers from around the world
  • You can find someone to fix pretty much any problem
  • Cost Effective, especially for very small projects <$100USD
  • No obligation to actually select a coder if you are not happy with any of the bids
  • Saved my butt more than a few times getting my own sites fixed when I couldn’t fix a CSS bug
  • As a part of the bid request you set the parameters, what needs to be delivered, how long they have, if status reports are required and so on

The Bad:

  • Results can vary so choose your coder carefully (see “Gotchas” below)
  • Arbitration can tie up your money for a while if there is a dispute (however I would like to mention that the arbitration and mediation processes are very fair and in everyone’s best interests so this is a plus)

Gotchas

  • When you are making a bid, be very explicit in a) what you are giving them to work with, b) what you want to happen, c) the exact end deliverable(s) you want (including any documentation). Anything that is not stated in the original bid request can increase scope and therefore cost, also if you do not state something in the original bid request the coder is under no obligation to deliver it, so be specific.
  • If time is a critical factor you may want to accept two bid requests and have two coders work in parallel, note that you will have to pay both coders in *full* if both complete the work, it is against the rules to race coders and pay only one (and there are measures in place to stop this), if you accept two coders you pay two coders. For some projects that have been critical I have doubled up and had two coders work that way if one fails you still have a backup.
  • If money and time are a critical factor, for example you need a project done in seven days and only have X amount that you can spend make sure you select a coder with a good track record as arbitration can sometimes take time (in the several weeks).
  • If your project is not time restrained, it can be a great cost saving to chose someone who is newer to the site and doesn’t have a work history. I have done this several times and only been stung once thus far. The mediation and arbitration is there to cover both you as the buyer and them as the coder.

So, if you are in need of some code fixes, template coding assistance, logo design, complete site redesign or really any other project from small sites to enterprise systems I would say rent a coder can help put you in touch with someone to help. If you have any questions about my experiences I am more than happy to share them too.

Stuart 😉

Disclosure: Please note through out this post I have used an affiliate link to RentACoder, this has not influenced my post in any way and is purely there to help towards my costs of keeping my website up and running. I have put it there so that if you read this article and decide to use RentACoder it means I can get a few bucks towards my next RentACoder Project 😉