Monthly Archives: April 2010

★ iPad review

Australian iPad reviewWell it’s finally arrived, after weeks and weeks of teasing via the iPad page on apple.com.au the iPad is now available in Australia……wait a minute, no it’s not, well not unless you are prepared to import one from the US via eBay.

And that’s exactly what I have done

So this review is going to be in a number of parts, today I will give you my initial impression, then after the weekend I’ll give you another update regarding how useful it is without a wifi connection, and then in another week or two I’ll give you more of a detailed account of my experience with the iPad as I’m planning on making it my daily computer for a couple if weeks.

Let me give you my initial impressions

The iPad is awesome!

After the “ahhhh” unboxing moment, and an initial sync with iTunes it was all systems go. Oh, and for the record I’m writing this blog on the iPad with the WordPress iPad app.

I have a small number of iPad compatible apps already, however when I tried to use my iPad to connect to the App Store I was promptly informed that it wasn’t available in my region yet. Hrmm hello, back to ebay for an iTunes US gift card.

So I’m still waiting for the iTunes gift cards to arrive, but I figure I’ll push ahead with using it with the web apps that I use regularly, namely Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. plus the couple of compatible apps that I already installed.

Easy setup

Connect it up to an existing computer with iTunes on it, register your iPad, and then get hit the web. Yes it’s really that easy. However there is a small problem with that process, the fact that you cannot register the device any other way could potentially be a problem, specially if you’re looking to use an iPad as a laptop replacement. I’m guessing this might change once the 3G version arrives, but it’s in the wait n see basket for now.

Ok so we’re all registered up, connected to our wifi access point, let’s get surfing.

Mobile Safari on the iPad is actually quite similar to regular Safari, you can sync your bookmarks and pretty much just start surfing the web in your usual manner. It’s quite a fast browser and pretty much every website I’ve been to works without problem, yes I know flash doesn’t work on the iPad but seriously who cares, HTML5 is the future!

And now that I have some US iTunes cards…

App wise I’ve mostly be tooling around with Twitteriffic, Things, WordPress, and a handful of photo editing applications. So far all of them have performed very well, and it’s been a lot like working on a normal desktop which is a big win.

We don’t need no stinking cameras

We all know that the iPad doesn’t have a camera right, well some enterprising app developer out there has made an application that allows the iPad to connect to the camera on your iPhone via Bluetooth and / or wifi which completely gets around the lack of camera in the iPad….assuming you’ve got an iPhone of course. It’s simple to setup, takes pretty decent snaps, and saves them to the iPad. Simple as a dimple.

So will it replace my MacBook?

At this point my MacBook still has a job to do, it’ll be my go to machine for more intensive photo editing, video editing, and for audio recording, but for pretty much everything else I can see me going to the iPad more often than not. That said, ask me again in a week or two when the honeymoon is over.

Welcome to the future of simplified home computing!

★ iPad review

Australian iPad reviewWell it’s finally arrived, after weeks and weeks of teasing via the iPad page on apple.com.au the iPad is now available in Australia……wait a minute, no it’s not, well not unless you are prepared to import one from the US via eBay.

And that’s exactly what I have done

So this review is going to be in a number of parts, today I will give you my initial impression, then after the weekend I’ll give you another update regarding how useful it is without a wifi connection, and then in another week or two I’ll give you more of a detailed account of my experience with the iPad as I’m planning on making it my daily computer for a couple if weeks.

Let me give you my initial impressions

The iPad is awesome!

After the “ahhhh” unboxing moment, and an initial sync with iTunes it was all systems go. Oh, and for the record I’m writing this blog on the iPad with the WordPress iPad app.

I have a small number of iPad compatible apps already, however when I tried to use my iPad to connect to the App Store I was promptly informed that it wasn’t available in my region yet. Hrmm hello, back to ebay for an iTunes US gift card.

So I’m still waiting for the iTunes gift cards to arrive, but I figure I’ll push ahead with using it with the web apps that I use regularly, namely Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. plus the couple of compatible apps that I already installed.

Easy setup

Connect it up to an existing computer with iTunes on it, register your iPad, and then get hit the web. Yes it’s really that easy. However there is a small problem with that process, the fact that you cannot register the device any other way could potentially be a problem, specially if you’re looking to use an iPad as a laptop replacement. I’m guessing this might change once the 3G version arrives, but it’s in the wait n see basket for now.

Ok so we’re all registered up, connected to our wifi access point, let’s get surfing.

Mobile Safari on the iPad is actually quite similar to regular Safari, you can sync your bookmarks and pretty much just start surfing the web in your usual manner. It’s quite a fast browser and pretty much every website I’ve been to works without problem, yes I know flash doesn’t work on the iPad but seriously who cares, HTML5 is the future!

And now that I have some US iTunes cards…

App wise I’ve mostly be tooling around with Twitteriffic, Things, WordPress, and a handful of photo editing applications. So far all of them have performed very well, and it’s been a lot like working on a normal desktop which is a big win.

We don’t need no stinking cameras

We all know that the iPad doesn’t have a camera right, well some enterprising app developer out there has made an application that allows the iPad to connect to the camera on your iPhone via Bluetooth and / or wifi which completely gets around the lack of camera in the iPad….assuming you’ve got an iPhone of course. It’s simple to setup, takes pretty decent snaps, and saves them to the iPad. Simple as a dimple.

So will it replace my MacBook?

At this point my MacBook still has a job to do, it’ll be my go to machine for more intensive photo editing, video editing, and for audio recording, but for pretty much everything else I can see me going to the iPad more often than not. That said, ask me again in a week or two when the honeymoon is over.

Welcome to the future of simplified home computing!

Grilled Chicken with Oven Roasted Vegetables

Grilled Chicken with Oven Roasted Vegetables

I was in the mood for something quick and easy for dinner tonight so I fell back on an old favourite, Grilled Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetables.

This is one of those really quick, simple, and tasty recipes that Cath and I cook somewhat regularly as there’s no mucking around. So let’s get started with the what you’ll need to make this.

Ingredients (for the grilled chicken)

  • Chicken Breast fillets (allow around 120–150gm per person)
  • 1 tsb Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsb Wholegrain Mustard
  • 1 tsb BBQ sauce
  • 1 tsb Honey
  • 1/2 tsb Lemon Juice
  • Olive Oil Spray

Let’s marinade
Mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl, if you’re making this for more than 2 people then double the ingredients per extra couple. Marinate the Chicken Breast in the mixture for at least an hour.

Now it’s vegetable time
The vegetable portion of this dish is really quite simple. Take some vegetables suitable for roasting, I normally use a combination of Sweet Potato, Eggplant, Red & Green Capsicum, Zucchini, and Spanish Onion. Chop them all up and place into a bowl with a light splash / spray of Olive Oil and then add the magic ingredient…..Masterfood’s Roast Vegetable Sprinkle. (yeh I like to cheat every now and then)

Pop the vegetables in the oven on a roasting tray for about 15–20 minutes at around 180 degree’s C , or until cooked to your liking.

Back to the chicken
Heat your griddle or frying pan up till it’s quite hot, take the pan off of the heat and give it a quick spray with the Olive Oil then pop it back on the heat and get your marinated Chicken Breast into the pan and cook it till it’s done (I’m guessing we all know when Chicken is cooked).

It’s eating time!
Once everything is cooked it’s time to serve it all up. Depending on whether I’m in the mood or not I’ll stack the vegetables up and then pop the chicken on top, it makes the dish just that little bit fancy….oh la la.

All up this is a pretty quick and easy dinner to make after work, specially on those days when you’ve been flat chat. It’s good to eat something reasonably healthy too instead of resorting to takeaway junk. And hey, it’s also pretty easy on the hip pocket.

Eat and Enjoy!

★ Planning our new kitchen

We need a new kitchen badly, and when I say badly I mean badly. Let me give you a bit of an idea how bad our kitchen is at the moment;

  • the cupboards and under-bench are water damaged and rotting from the inside out
  • the bench top is also delaminating, ie. pulling apart
  • the kitchen sink drainage ‘tray’ doesn’t drain off
  • the laminate on the cupboard doors is long gone
  • the door handles come off from time to time
  • one of the drawers has all but fallen apart

The other problem we have with our kitchen is that it was so poorly designed back in the 50’s that there are many cupboards and corners that are unusable as they just cannot be reached, tupperware goes to these corners never to be seen again. We’ve tried many many times to re-organise where everything is stored, but no matter what it just seems to end up back in this huge mess…..and we actually don’t have the much stuff as I’ve done a few chuckouts recently.

Probably the worst of it all is the positioning of the oven / stove, and this has only become apparent since Travis has started crawling. Unfortunately there is no way of changing where our stove currently sits as it’s a gas oven and has to be right next to the connection.

Enough is enough!

So I’m now starting to plan our new kitchen out, granted we cannot even remotely afford to renovate right now but I just have to get something happening with it before we just get too frustrated with it and sell the house or something equally rash like take a sledge hammer to the whole kitchen.

Bit by bit I’m going to scour the net over the next few, hopefully only few, months and collect photos and ideas on how our kitchen renovation *should* turn out and of course I’ll probably open up a new category on the website here and post whatever I find.

This is definitely a “wish me luck” moment, so go on….wish me luck!

★ Planning our new kitchen

We need a new kitchen badly, and when I say badly I mean badly. Let me give you a bit of an idea how bad our kitchen is at the moment;

  • the cupboards and under-bench are water damaged and rotting from the inside out
  • the bench top is also delaminating, ie. pulling apart
  • the kitchen sink drainage ‘tray’ doesn’t drain off
  • the laminate on the cupboard doors is long gone
  • the door handles come off from time to time
  • one of the drawers has all but fallen apart

The other problem we have with our kitchen is that it was so poorly designed back in the 50’s that there are many cupboards and corners that are unusable as they just cannot be reached, tupperware goes to these corners never to be seen again. We’ve tried many many times to re-organise where everything is stored, but no matter what it just seems to end up back in this huge mess…..and we actually don’t have the much stuff as I’ve done a few chuckouts recently.

Probably the worst of it all is the positioning of the oven / stove, and this has only become apparent since Travis has started crawling. Unfortunately there is no way of changing where our stove currently sits as it’s a gas oven and has to be right next to the connection.

Enough is enough!

So I’m now starting to plan our new kitchen out, granted we cannot even remotely afford to renovate right now but I just have to get something happening with it before we just get too frustrated with it and sell the house or something equally rash like take a sledge hammer to the whole kitchen.

Bit by bit I’m going to scour the net over the next few, hopefully only few, months and collect photos and ideas on how our kitchen renovation *should* turn out and of course I’ll probably open up a new category on the website here and post whatever I find.

This is definitely a “wish me luck” moment, so go on….wish me luck!

★ Cooking up a style guide

Referring back to my little battle of last night, one of the things that I think separates this website from some of the websites that I referred to, along with many other sites I regularly visit, is that there’s a consistency to their look and feel. A lot of this consistency comes from not only not tinkering with the design / layout too regularly, but also by using a publishing style guide.

 

What’s a style guide?

Basically a style guide is a document, or set of guidelines, of how to publish articles be it on a website or in print. This document tells you things like how the article should be formatted, ie. bold header, italic introduction, image alignment, etc. Typically style guides have been used more regularly in print, though more and more websites are adopting similar article publishing principles.

And I think I need to develop a style guide for mathewpacker.com

Isn’t all this a bit wanky?

Yes, yes it is…..but maybe it will bring some longer term consistency to my website and the articles I publish. Plus it will also force me give me the opportunity to clean up my older articles and maybe give them a new lease on life, and hopefully they will also attract some more traffic and more subscribers.

And in conclusion

Over the next few days and weeks I’ll start formulating the style guide and whilst there may be a few initial changes to the layout here for the most part it will remain unchanged.

The End.

★ Cooking up a style guide

Referring back to my little battle of last night, one of the things that I think separates this website from some of the websites that I referred to, along with many other sites I regularly visit, is that there’s a consistency to their look and feel. A lot of this consistency comes from not only not tinkering with the design / layout too regularly, but also by using a publishing style guide.

 

What’s a style guide?

Basically a style guide is a document, or set of guidelines, of how to publish articles be it on a website or in print. This document tells you things like how the article should be formatted, ie. bold header, italic introduction, image alignment, etc. Typically style guides have been used more regularly in print, though more and more websites are adopting similar article publishing principles.

And I think I need to develop a style guide for mathewpacker.com

Isn’t all this a bit wanky?

Yes, yes it is…..but maybe it will bring some longer term consistency to my website and the articles I publish. Plus it will also force me give me the opportunity to clean up my older articles and maybe give them a new lease on life, and hopefully they will also attract some more traffic and more subscribers.

And in conclusion

Over the next few days and weeks I’ll start formulating the style guide and whilst there may be a few initial changes to the layout here for the most part it will remain unchanged.

The End.

★ Me vs mathewpacker.com

There’s a battle between good and evil brewing right now, well actually that’s probably being a tad over dramatic, and you’ve been given a front row seat. The battle I speak of is me vs the design of this here website. 

For a long time I’ve been fighting with the layout of this blog, some of you regular readers will probably have seen 10-15 different iterations of it over the last 3-4 years, and still to this day I don’t know what I should do.

I can design for other people without a problem, but when it comes to doing my own thing I’m never happy. You see part of me wants a really simple layout that just has a natural ease to it, another part of me wants a really cool looking ‘designed’ website with slick graphics a-plenty.

I just don’t know what to do. Keep it simple like Tweetage Wasteland and hivelogic, or go the designed route like boagworld and David Heinemeier Hansson.

At the end of the day it probably doesn’t that much as it’s the content that really matters, right?

★ Me vs mathewpacker.com

There’s a battle between good and evil brewing right now, well actually that’s probably being a tad over dramatic, and you’ve been given a front row seat. The battle I speak of is me vs the design of this here website. 

For a long time I’ve been fighting with the layout of this blog, some of you regular readers will probably have seen 10-15 different iterations of it over the last 3-4 years, and still to this day I don’t know what I should do.

I can design for other people without a problem, but when it comes to doing my own thing I’m never happy. You see part of me wants a really simple layout that just has a natural ease to it, another part of me wants a really cool looking ‘designed’ website with slick graphics a-plenty.

I just don’t know what to do. Keep it simple like Tweetage Wasteland and hivelogic, or go the designed route like boagworld and David Heinemeier Hansson.

At the end of the day it probably doesn’t that much as it’s the content that really matters, right?

★ Sunday chores, April 18th, 2010

We have been down in Wollongong the last couple of days, at a friends wedding, and didn’t get back home till late yesterday afternoon so the chores I normally do over the entire weekend now need to get done in a single day.

Hooray for being busy (note the sarcasm please).

  • Do the food shopping
  • Wash clothes and towels
  • Clear out studio (just one more load of junk to move)
  • Clear off old desk and dismantle
  • Mow the lawn (postponed till next weekend)
  • Put ‘hard rubbish’ out for waste collection
  • Hit some golf balls at the driving range
  • Put the bins out
  • Work on some code for SNOBs.com.au

If you’ve been following my weekend chore lists recently you’ll notice that I’ve had to mow the lawn 3 times in the last 4 weeks, it’s just obscene how fast our lawn grows out the back. I’m hoping it’ll slow down a bit soon with the colder months slowly approaching.

One of the good things that comes out of me mowing the lawn so much is that I’ve been getting to listen to 2-3 podcasts each mow, so the backlog of listening that’s been building up has been getting cleared.

Anyway, it’s 7:15am, I need a coffee, and I should probably start getting ready to go and do the food shopping. Ciao.

★ Sunday chores, April 18th, 2010

We have been down in Wollongong the last couple of days, at a friends wedding, and didn’t get back home till late yesterday afternoon so the chores I normally do over the entire weekend now need to get done in a single day.

Hooray for being busy (note the sarcasm please).

  • Do the food shopping
  • Wash clothes and towels
  • Clear out studio (just one more load of junk to move)
  • Clear off old desk and dismantle
  • Mow the lawn (postponed till next weekend)
  • Put ‘hard rubbish’ out for waste collection
  • Hit some golf balls at the driving range
  • Put the bins out
  • Work on some code for SNOBs.com.au

If you’ve been following my weekend chore lists recently you’ll notice that I’ve had to mow the lawn 3 times in the last 4 weeks, it’s just obscene how fast our lawn grows out the back. I’m hoping it’ll slow down a bit soon with the colder months slowly approaching.

One of the good things that comes out of me mowing the lawn so much is that I’ve been getting to listen to 2-3 podcasts each mow, so the backlog of listening that’s been building up has been getting cleared.

Anyway, it’s 7:15am, I need a coffee, and I should probably start getting ready to go and do the food shopping. Ciao.

★ My Mum and her friends don't like my blog

So Mum tells me a couple of days ago that she doesn’t like my blog anymore, and neither does her friend Sharon. Ouch! I though Mums and Dads were supposed to always support you no matter what…. After the obvious question, what don’t you like about it, I got the answer that’s forming the latest iteration of the site here. 

Apparently it’s become too hard to find the content they wanted to find, and by content I meant they couldn’t find the recipes that I’ve blogged here. Normally when they’ve visited my site they just type my URL into the address bar, and from there they hit the homepage and could very easily find the recipes via the navigation bar.

Prior to Mum telling me this I never really thought too much about the usability of my website here, sure I guess I’d taken a bit of a look at the basics, ie. fonts used, colours used, line heights, simple navigation, etc. but never took it much further than that because a bulk of my traffic is coming from Google and they land on the recipe articles they they searched for, and then they bounce. No fuss no muss.

Now however, after the wakeup call, I’m starting to give it a bit more thought, ie. if visitors land on the homepage, what’s the best way to show them what the website is about, what type of articles I write, what sort of content are they looking for, how can I show them that content easily, etc.

I’ve kind of got a few ideas on how I’m going to present the home page, nothing is set in stone at the moment, though most of the changes will be navigation related and will hopefully make it easier for readers to navigate article to article.

So the message to take away from this is, think about usability a bit more. Just because you and Google know where all the articles are one your website, doesn’t mean your Mum does.

★ My Mum and her friends don’t like my blog

So Mum tells me a couple of days ago that she doesn’t like my blog anymore, and neither does her friend Sharon. Ouch! I though Mums and Dads were supposed to always support you no matter what…. After the obvious question, what don’t you like about it, I got the answer that’s forming the latest iteration of the site here. 

Apparently it’s become too hard to find the content they wanted to find, and by content I meant they couldn’t find the recipes that I’ve blogged here. Normally when they’ve visited my site they just type my URL into the address bar, and from there they hit the homepage and could very easily find the recipes via the navigation bar.

Prior to Mum telling me this I never really thought too much about the usability of my website here, sure I guess I’d taken a bit of a look at the basics, ie. fonts used, colours used, line heights, simple navigation, etc. but never took it much further than that because a bulk of my traffic is coming from Google and they land on the recipe articles they they searched for, and then they bounce. No fuss no muss.

Now however, after the wakeup call, I’m starting to give it a bit more thought, ie. if visitors land on the homepage, what’s the best way to show them what the website is about, what type of articles I write, what sort of content are they looking for, how can I show them that content easily, etc.

I’ve kind of got a few ideas on how I’m going to present the home page, nothing is set in stone at the moment, though most of the changes will be navigation related and will hopefully make it easier for readers to navigate article to article.

So the message to take away from this is, think about usability a bit more. Just because you and Google know where all the articles are one your website, doesn’t mean your Mum does.

★ I had an inkling

And that inkling was confirmed as I waded through my RSS feeds this morning. International sales of the Apple iPad have been delayed. At this stage Apple is saying end of May, and i’m hoping this time they actually stick to the date.

I guess it’s a small consolation that we now know when pre-orders are able to be taken, May 10th….even if we don’t have any pricing information yet. Pfft.

★ I had an inkling

And that inkling was confirmed as I waded through my RSS feeds this morning. International sales of the Apple iPad have been delayed. At this stage Apple is saying end of May, and i’m hoping this time they actually stick to the date.

I guess it’s a small consolation that we now know when pre-orders are able to be taken, May 10th….even if we don’t have any pricing information yet. Pfft.

★ The Australian Apple Store is down

I repeat. The Australian Apple Store is down.

So what are we going to see tomorrow, new MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air’s…..or are we going to get the pre-order go ahead for the iPad!

Only time will tell.

Either way I’ll be doing some ordering tomorrow as we need two new laptops at work (probably MacBook Airs), and of course if the iPad available to order I’ll be handing over my work credit card as the boss has already given me the go ahead to get one.

Personally I think it’ll be the new laptop line, that’s where the safe bets are going, however I would really really love it if we’re able to pre-order the iPad. That would be sweet!

Update: Turns out it was just a refresh of the MacBook Pro line, which while somewhat interesting, was not what I was really after. With a new sales rep starting soon I was hoping Apple would update the MacBook Air as it’s pretty much the perfect laptop for the job.