Before we close off 2012 .. a word of thanks !

With only hours to go before we close down 2012, my last post of the year will be one where I get to look back and take the time to say thanks. Thanks to all of the people who helped Knightwise.com get through this last year, to those who contributed, those who consumed, those who supported and those who criticised. All of you have had a crucial roll in the process that makes Knightwise.com possible.

To my wife.
Without @niejana, none of this would be possible. Not only is she an understanding and loving wife, she is also a big geek who understands what this whole ‘technology thing’ is about. Without her support, her patience, her enthusiasm and her constructive criticism, Knightwise.com would be shit-on-a-stick. Not only was she a camerawoman, producer, photographer, researcher .. she also was the driving force that inspired a lot of what I do. I thank her for her patience and her love. For being there through the good and the bad times. She is the glue that holds my universe together.

To the crew.
Knightwise.com used to be a one-man-thing. But luckily that is a thing of the past. From the ranks of the community have risen a band of extraordinary people who devoted their time, creativity and talent in making Knightwise.com even better.

The guru’s : Behind the scenes sit a couple of exemplary code monkeys. I’m talking about @kdmurray for his WordPress skills and the all nighters he pulled to keep Knightwise.com up and running. Next to him (but on the other side of the planet) sits @moonenmoonen who is not only our ‘graphical wunderkid’ responsible for ‘new look and feel’ but who also helped SHAPE the “Hacks tips and tweaks” identity we have today. These guys made the magic .. i’m just the pretty face.

The ninja’s : Whenever Knightwise.com went “out and about” we had the chance to work with some very talented people. House photographer Konrad Dwojak, Cameraman Stefaan Lesage, producer @niejana and of course our newest member @beebiegie. They have the patience to put up with me and the stamina to keep up when I go into ‘creative geek’ mode.

To the guests.
Knightwise.com would be a dull site without our guests. The many guests we had on the podcast (and the guestbloggers like Stefaan Lesage and @mcvries) brought their knowledge and enthusiasm to the table. Their content and contributions where awesome.

To the community.
And last, but not least .. to the community. To the people who listen to the podcast, who read the articles, who shoot us tweets and emails. Who hang out with us on Google+, who comment on our Facebook posts .. the people who consume Knightwise.com. Without your appreciation and feedback this would a pointless exercise. But WITH it, doing Knightwise.com becomes the greatest and most grateful hobby in the world. We take the stage and gladly take a bow for every single one of you.

So in 2013 we will continue … Tuning technology into your way of life …

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The history of Siri and the ultimate guide to start talking to her.

With the holidays coming up, some of you might have had their first or second IOS device snuggled in under the tree. Aside from making the Apple shareholders hilariously happy with the overpriced profit margin, you might ALSO enjoy your new purchase of an iPad or an iPhone. If you have a device thats any newer then the last iPhone4S (This includes the iPad mini and the ‘not the latest-but-the-one-before-that-one ipad and the new ipad) it will come with Siri. This ‘personal assistant’ that you can talk to and ask things. In the beginning Siri is a gimmick. Something you use (like Google Now) to try out a couple of times, but chances are, unless you really make an effort, you will probably not use Siri to its full potential. This has to do with the way human behaviour has a hard time keeping up with changing technology. So to get you beyond the ‘Gimmick’ factor we have found a great tutorial on how to make SIRI work for you.

In “The ultimate Siri Guide” Rene Richie explains you in a couple of pointers how to use Siri in your daily life. Remembering the different commands is one thing, reminding yourself to start USING them is another thing. Its going to take a little brain and behaviour hacking to start ‘talking’ to your phone instead of typing on it. Although the former is more natural then the latter, we still find it hard because we have been texting on a numerical keyboard far longer then we have been talking to machines. Give it a try, but remember Siri uses your data connection to analyse your voice. (Unlike Android, where the processing of your voice commands also works offline)

As you hear Siri talk, you might be surprised that this is the voice of a Belgian woman. According to voice technology expert and inventer Jo Lernaut (who was the chairman of the Belgian company Lernaut & Hauspie ) their voice technology has been licenced by both Apple and Microsoft and the SIRI voicefiles where recorded in Belgium by one of their employees. You can find out more about that little detail HERE and watch the (Flemish) interview with Jo Lernaut here.

Links : the ultimate Siri Guide.  –  Interview with Jo Lernout. – the link between Lernout & Hauspie and Siri.

Meanwhile at the big bang theory .. Raj meets a “different” Siri.

 

So : Do YOU talk to your phone or do you still think its awkward  ? Tell us in the comments section.

 

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10 Acer CloundMobile Smartphones enter a bar …

About 2 weeks ago Knightwise asked me if I would like to go to an Acer Smartphone presentation as a Knightwise.com reporter. Well … I certainly don’t have his wit and ingenuity, but since I’m quite interested in the whole Smartphone thing I decided to accept the invitation. The kind people from MindShake were expecting us in Brussels for a short presentation and a little surprise.

The Presentation

I have to say … I only know Acer from their computers and I didn’t know they were also in the Smartphone business. Apparently they are, and according tho the Acer person, they are doing quite well in Belgium too. They showed us a few models starting with the Acer Liquid Z, which is an Android ICS phone which comes in at a very affordable 99 euros. Next up was the E Series and we ended with the Acer CloundMobile at a very affordable price of 289 euro.

Apparently Acer is going for a ‘vanilla’ Android smartphone, which means it is as close to the default Android as possible. No funky skins, no icky any animations … just a few little tweaks here and there. For me this was a big difference to my current Android experience using the Samsung Galaxy S III and I have probably been spoiled with the shiny bling bling on that device.

The Hardware

Acer CloudMobilePersonally I’m not the guy who looks at the tags with all the numbers next to the phones in the shops. But I know some people love to know those details so here we go. It comes with a 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor and has 8 Gb of built-in storage which can be expanded using microSD cards. The screen is a 4.3 inc screen with 720p resolution (1280 x 720 pixels). What’s interesting is that it comes with an 8 megapixel front facing camera which sounds nice indeed.

The thing which interests me is battery life. I remember telling Knightwise I wasn’t impressed with the battery after the first day of testing, but I have to correct myself. The phone lasts at least whole day even with my Twitter and Instagram addiction. Of course all this depends on how often you use the device, the camera, the GPS and all the other stuff in the phone so your mileage may vary. But after 2 weeks of extensive testing I can say that I’m quite pleased with batter life on the Acer CloudMobile.

I did have a minor issue though. If I understand it correctly it should be possible to use Android Beam to ‘beam’ pictures and other things from one android device to another and that feature uses NFC (I could be wrong here). Sadly I couldn’t get it working at all. We tried with an Acer CloudMobile and a Samsung Galaxy S III, and even between two Acer CloudMobile devices … but there was no way we could get it working. I showed the problem to the Acer person (sorry … forgot to write down your name) and we tried different things but it didn’t work. He mentioned it could be a software issue and that there might be an update or fix soon.

The Software

Well, strangely the device comes with Android 4.0 which is rather strange to me. I’m not a veteran Android user, but I know there is already an Android 4.1 and probably an even more recent version, so why didn’t it ship with the most recent Android version ?

The good thing is that the Android version is only lightly skinned and thus … in my opinion … it should be easier to keep the OS updated. Sadly … so far … I didn’t see an Android 4.1 update for the phone.

I have to admit though … the device seemed pretty fast and it does come with Polaris Office 4 and EquiView pre installed. Additionally the device also comes with support for AcerCloud. For those of you who wonder what AcerCloud is … well I could say it’s Acer’s version of iCloud. Apparently it’s a service active in the Benelux, France, Germany, Italy and the UK which allows you to remotely access information from you laptop, Android tablet and Android phone from wherever you are.

The AcerCloud service includes PicStream which automatically uploads you pictures to the cloud and synchronizes them with your other devices (including non Acer devices). From what I heard this service is also available for your documents and music and there isn’t really a limit on storage. The data should be available in the cloud for 30 days.

The Verdict

Well … you have to know that I’m an Apple fanboy and only very recently ventured into the Android world. My first Android experience was on a Samsung Galaxy S III, so I’ve probably been spoiled there. But I have to say the Acer CloudMobile is and amazing device considering the price. Roughly speaking it costs about half as much as the S III, but you are getting way more than half an S III for that price.

In short … it’s a very performant Android smartphone at a very affordable price.

About the Author

Stefaan is a Software Developer by trade, but also active as a Tech Reporter and Podcaster mostly in Dutch / Flemish. You can find out more about him on his blog at iTutor Podcast or check out the Tech45 Podcast.

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iPad Mini or Nexus 7, The frustrating luxury of choice.

The upside of being a Slider is the fact that you can choose. You can choose between different products and it is never a question of “OR”, it is always a matter of “And”. But sometimes that freedom of choice comes at a perilous risk : The risk of choice. While in some countries people are starving, It is a horrible first world problem to have, I know. But perhaps it will bring some solace to you on the crossroads of what tablet to get for the upcoming year.

 For the last three months I have been a privileged owner of a Nexus 7 and I must say, I enjoy the device very much. Being trendy and virtually unknown by the general public here in Belgium, the Nexus 7 (Currently the 32 gigabyte version) is available at 245 euro’s. But sightings of the device are rare since most consumers either slip into the Samsung universe and go for the low end Galaxy Tab 2 instead OR go towards the Apple universe and pick up an iPad mini instead.

 Since I got the Nexus 7 way before the iPad mini was launched, I was never faced with the peril of choice. Deciding between the excellent quality, high end specs and low price of the Nexus and the virtually non-existent competition was a doozie to say the least. Samsung tablets at that time were overpriced and their ‘brighter colors’ where (and are ) nothing more then pumped up contrast and saturation levels that make a everything look like something from a holiday catalog  Using my tablet to read eBooks rather then play games or watch nude supermodels, I was very happy with both the form factor AND the subdued enthusiasm of the Nexus 7’s color scheme.

 A couple of weeks later my wife sold her iPad2 just in time to get her hands on a new iPad mini. I remember being disappointed at Apple when they announced the pricing schemes of the new iPad mini’s, pointing out that they where a 100 dollars above a competitive market price and that they had brought zero innovation to the market (and it would be downhill for Apple from now on). I still stand by the latter statement, but the empty shelves in the stores do point out that , even at a high price point, apple’s iPad mini IS a raging success.

 As a slider I have the privilege of switching between my 64  gig iPad 3 (the not-the-new-but-the-one-before-that-one ipad) and can only say that when it comes to screen quality. While using my wifes iPad Mini I found a similar quality in brightness and crispness of images. Sure, it is no retina display, but on a 7 inch screen I don’t think you notice. The single handed grip I have around the back of my Nexus 7 could however not be acquired, I need the hands of a stone mason for that. But the iPad mini does have something to offer too. As the low growls of my better half started to turn into angry snarls, it was time to give her back her beloved device and go back to my Nexus. And then I was struck by doubt… Would I perhaps ALSO like an iPad mini ?

 Like a man torn between two lovers, I started to doubt my initial fondness of the Google Nexus 7 and wonder what life would be like with an iPad Mini. This was the dawn of an internal struggle I have been wrestling with for the last few weeks. Would I like to have an iPad mini instead. When it comes to size and form factor : Nothing can beat the Nexus 7. Its a little thicker then the “Kate Moss” iPad Mini, but the fact you can just “grab it” with one hand, or set down your thumb on the bezel while reading is a big plus. The screen however is not as high in quality then the iPad mini when it comes to color quality and contrast. The 1280X800 resolution on the Nexus 7 is higher then the iPad mini, offering up a higher PPI (pixels per inch) that DOES help when you are reading books. The downside of my current Nexus is however that it is a 8 gigabyte version, and something in my brain keeps telling me that’s a bad thing. When lustfully ogling the iPad Mini’s in the store I do lick my lips at the 32 gigabyte version because, (in my mind) it would be able to hold down my book and movie collection for those rare moments that i’m offline. It WOULD flawlessly sync with our massive iTunes collection so I also would have music on the go. It WOULD be able to give me access to some online magazines in the “newsstand” app. .. and then it hit me : My longing was not for the device per se, it was for the content.

 And that is where I stand today. A little torn between the iPad mini and my Google Nexus. My geek brain telling me that both have their ups and downs, that neither is the winner in this fight. One offers the flexibility of Android (Being able to arrange your home screen into something that does not resemble an icon-concentration camp) The other ties in with the Apple content eco-sphere (Who am I kidding, it ties in with my locked in iTunes music collection) One has storage, the other has a great form factor .. I am slowly losing it out here. My credit card angrily points at my iPad 3 on the kitchen table and tells me I cannot seriously consider buying ANOTHER device just like it (only smaller). The little kid inside me yells “ I want it mommy .. i want it ! ! ! “

 As I listen to myself argue I find that it is becoming more and more about the types of content you can consume on your device. About the freedoms you have and the ones you need to give up. About what you do with your device and not about what device you have. The only solution I can currently think of requires both devices and a roll of double sided duck-tape so I can stick them together. Ipad Mini on one side, Nexus on the other.. A true sliders tablet. Because if your philosophy is “ Its not about this OR that” .. it means its gonna be “This AND that” 🙂

 

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kw408 : Cross platform IP-TV with WEEPEE.TV

We close of the year (and season 4 of Knightwise.com) with the video coverage we shot at the “Softlaunch” event of Belgians first ‘Internet only’ TV-Content provider : Weepee.tv. You Cable-Cutters can watch and learn what it is, how to get it, how it works and what other geeks might think of it. Will this be the death of classic television for geeks or just a fab ? Find out in KW408.

Shownotes.

Weepee.tv 

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Let mail work for you (instead of the other way around) with Mailbox.

Great tip from friend of the show @moonenmoonen : A mail client that does not dictate your life by pushing messages in your face constantly. We all know how we sometimes can becomes slaves of our own inboxes. On the IOS and Android side of things the email clients are mostly horribly “Basic” They do what they do best : Annoy the friggin frack out of you and have you quicky reply to an email … while you are on one knee, proposing to your girlfriend. How about an email app that DOESN’T do that. How about one with “procrastination” as a built in functionality ? Want it  ? Love it … then wait for it ! Mailbox IS coming to IOS pretty soon but we will have to be a little patient. 

Links : Mailbox

What is YOUR favorite email client on your portable device (and why   ?) Tell us in the comments section.

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And this is what would happen if you got “On the edge” on Christmas.

As you guys are stuffing turkeys down your throat, we at Knightwise.com are working long and hard on finishing the upcoming book “On the edge”. A compilation of 65 stories from 8 years of Knightwise.com. We have been asked why we did not release this book in physical form … on Christmas. We did a test run with the subject in the video below. This would be his reaction.

Obviously this just will not do and we cannot disturb Christmas celebrations througout the world in this manner. Thus the book will be available in the first month of next year. EXCEPT to those lucky few who donated using our Paypal link. They will get the book early AND they will get it signed ! Want to help out the show AND get the book ? Throw some change our way and we will give you an experience as described above ! 

Happy holidays ! 

So what did YOU get for Christmas ? Tell us in the Comments section.

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Save money and gain focus using the linux command line as a wordprocessor.

For the life of me I cannot remember the link (nor find back the episode) to a Hacker Public Radio podcast episode that inspired me to do this post. The speaker in this little podcast talked about the way we use word processors. He mentioned a study where they compared several groups of students that were working on a paper. One of the groups used the latest version of MS Word, the other one used Libreoffice and another group used Wordperfect (The black and white command line version). When they judged the actual papers afterwards, the QUALITY of the CONTENT was the highest with the students who used … Wordperfect. It turns out, the FEWER distractions we have regarding to layout like ribbons and talking paperclips, the more our brains focus on CONTENT. The talk is highly recommended and whoever finds the link and posts it in the comments section gets extra geek points !

So, why not make our OWN version of Wordperfect using the command line interface on Linux.

Fire up a terminal and start using your favorite text editor like NANO or VIM.

When using Nano just start out by typing

nano yourfilenamehere.txt

Start typing and hit CTRL-X to save. Pretty easy. There are of course a lot more keyboard shortcuts you can use. I have linked to some posts here and here that give you all the fancy features in Nano.

If you are somebody that likes to use VIM (I’m sorry, I don’t use VIM a lot) but I have been told that VIM users are considered the Jedi among command line interface text editor users. (Now THERE is a title) You can learn the ways of the VIM-force here and here 

Spell checking !

Ok, you’ve made your document but, like me, you do tend to make the occasional typo. My excuse is I’m not a native English speaker .. whats yours ?  You can solve the problem by installing ‘ispell’

sudo apt-get install ispell  

Next up just point ispell to your textfile

ispell yourfilename.txt

Diction.

Lets say your spelling is ok, but when you write stuff, you sound like master Yoda. You need diction control

sudo apt-get install diction

and point it at your file  with diction yourfilename.txt

These are just a couple of very basic tools to get things done, but when you really want a distraction free interface, this might just help. I’ve tried this on an old Pentium1 laptop with just a command line linux install … and its a horribly effective experience. There is NO internet to distract you, no tweets, no other apps. Just you and your textfile. Great for focus or for punishing your child and making it DO its homework WITH a computer but without any distractions. 

What is YOUR take on this ? What wordprocessor do YOU use and how to YOU make it work for you ? Tell us, in the Comments section.

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Control your Android device from your computer.

You all know I hate sync cables and application with a passion that borders on the insane. Somehow the logic escapes me that our “mobile devices” ever need to be connected with a “Cable” to our laptops or workstations. Our phones and tablets must be free and independent devices that do not require a connection method that goes back to the PalmCe PDA. 

So todays softwarepick AIRDROID makes sure I do not foam at the mouth whenever a pairing between phone and computer is required.  After installing the client on your Android device you are good to go. Use the browser on any device on the same Wifi Network. After slamming in the correct URL to your mobile device (the client will tell you) you can : 

  • File management: transfer files between your computer and your android device ( Files on the SD card )
  • SMS management: send, read, delete SMS messages (For those of you who still do that)
  • Photos: preview, set as wallpaper, slideshow, import/export 
  • Share clipboard between desktop and your Android device (very nice for long passwords)
  • Applications: install, uninstall, backup (downloads .apk files), search (for those apps you ‘didn’t buy’ in the store) 
  • Contacts management: create contacts, search, check call logs (See who has been spamming you )
  • Ringtones: import from computer, export, preview, customize ringtones for phone calls, notifications and alarms
  • Music: import from computer, export, play, etc. 

Airdroid helps out a lot when it comes to the hassle of getting content to and FROM your mobile device. It might not be as fast as the Millenium Falcon on the Kessel run .. but you still have a wired alternative if you are looking for that kind of data transfer rates. 

Even on your broken phone.

Remember that HTC one X you dropped on the floor last week ? The one with the broken glass but the working touchscreen ? Or the old Galaxy SII that has the funky batter ? Why not plug it into the charger, hook it up to your wifi, install Airdroid and use it as a “sms modem” for the family ? You, your wife / kids / dog can acces the phone via a webbrowser and use it to send text messages. Huzzah ! Old broken hardware rescued from oblivion once again.

Airdroid is cool because it requires nothing on the client side except for a browser and gives you the convenience of managing a small device from the big screen of your laptop.

Links : Airdroid is available for free in the Google Play store.

How  do YOU get content from and to your phone or mobile device ? Tell us in te comments section.

 

 

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kw407 : Storytime

On the very end of the year we give you a preview of the upcoming book “On the Edge” that is about to be published by Knightwise.com. In this weeks storytime we read 3 stories from the book all centered around the very absence of technology. Chill out and enjoy this episode and don’t forget you can get your hands on an advanced signed digital copy of the book by sending a donation our way. Sit back, Relax .. its Storytime.

Shownotes

Knightwise.com Donation page.

The “Making OF’ screencast of how this show was recorded.

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