TL;DR: If you are intending to use more than 2 video outputs (either HDMI or DVI) on a Mac Pro (in this case, the Late 2013 version) then in addition to using active DVI adapters (as specified in this Apple KB article) you will need to ensure that there are powered-on devices on the other end of all of those adapters. Continue reading “Notes when using multiple video outputs on a Mac Pro”
As mentioned a short while ago, I have managed to get my hands on an iPod Touch. Wow, it’s nice!
Apple have once again put a lot of work into their interface design and made the touchscreen work quite well. One odd thing though is the home button is a tactile one situated on the front surface at the bottom – I kept expecting to find some sort of ‘Home’ button on the touchscreen interface. You get used to it though.
We don’t have wifi at work at the moment, so I borrowed it for an evening to test it out on my connection at home. To start with I experienced quite a problem with dropped connections. The first time I tried to connect it was successful, but not long after that the connection dropped and the AP was not listed in the list of available networks. My brother, the only wifi user in the house, only occaisionally has problems with the wifi network so I didn’t think it was a problem with the trusty Linksys box but just in case I checked the cables and rebooted the access point. Got it working again in the end.
When I first turned on the iPod, having removed it from it’s elegant packaging, I went through the apps that were included. I had assumed that the latest software update would be installed as standard, but it turns out (unless I just received stale stock) that you have to pay for the latest version with the extra apps regardless of whether you’ve got a recent model or not. I wasnt going to pay the £12 for something that work owns, so I made do with trying out the basic apps – Safari, iTunes and YouTube.
Scrolling is pretty slick, using both drag and ‘flick’ gestures, though zooming can be tricky sometimes as it requires you to use an ‘expansion’ gesture which is a little difficult with one hand (the other hand holding the device).
iTunes is slightly more limited in terms of features than I expected, but it’s still quite a slick app. I think the emphasis will continue to be on using iTunes on a Mac/PC, but for quick purchases the iPod version is perfect.
The YouTube app is a great way to waste time watching random stuff, and it demonstrates how streaming video can be used on the iPod. When using Safari I discovered that you don’t need a native app to stream video – the built-in mini-version of QuickTime does the job.
I really like the iPod Touch, and as soon as I can justify the expense (considering I got my 40GB iPod Video – now called classic – in July last year) I will get one for myself and pay for the extra apps. It will also be used for my remote control project.
I finally got to play with an iPod Touch yesterday, courtesy of a project I’m working on at work. The interface is beautiful and slick, and I was amazed at how thin it is compared to my previous generation iPod Video. Sadly we don’t have wifi at work yet, so I wasn’t able to try out Safari, YouTube or iTunes on the device.
One of my colleagues was considering whether to get a Touch or Classic to replace his early-generation one that had broken, but since he has quite a large collection of music the limited 16GB capacity of the largest Touch was just not enough. Will there be a 32GB version I wonder? If I got one (which I’m very tempted to now!) I could manage with the 16GB version, but I wonder how many people are being put off by the relatively small capacity?
I’m also going to be trying out an Archos (with wifi), a Creative Zen and a Walkman. I doubt any of them will live up to the standard of the iPod. I may report back with some brief reviews.
I’m normally only mildly interested in what comes out of MacWorld, but this time around I’m pretty gripped. I’m now running out of reasons NOT to buy an iPod Touch, thanks to the missing apps from the iPhone now being available through a software update for the iPod Touch. The only reason I have left is that I only bought my first and only iPod about 5 months ago.
The other thing I’m waiting for is an announcement of the release of the SDK for the iPod Touch. This will allow me to develop the iPod Touch remote control as a native application. I’m not sure of the release date of this yet, and I’ve not seen it mentioned in any articles about MacWorld so far. Here’s hoping for it to come soon!
Here are some initial interface wireframes for the iPod Touch remote control. I’ve not shown all of the menus because that would be quite a bit of work. These three should give you an idea of what I intend to do though.
The main menu summarises the major systems of the house. Clicking on one of the buttons takes you to more controls for that system. The colour of the buttons indicate the overall state of the system – green = OK, yellow = warning, red = error, grey = disabled.
The audio controls will list the 4 zones, with a drop-down menu next to each button to select the audio source. Clicking the large button switches the zone on or off. Pressing the ‘Use for all’ button copies the settings of the selected zone to all the other zones.
The large buttons display a thumbnail of the live video from the cameras. Clicking on the large button will show the full video feed (resized to fit the iPod’s screen). Cameras can be disabled for privacy.
As more of my sub-projects get completed, there is going to be a need to control the various systems. There are loads of IR/RF remotes around designed to handle all sorts of HA/AV equipment. However, since I’m building my systems I’m going to need a more flexible and easily customisable way of controlling them. As soon as Apple announced the iPod Touch I knew that I had found what I was after. To me it’s not the music-related stuff on the iPod that’s important, it’s the combination of WiFi and Safari. All I would have to do is set up a PHP/ASP.Net etc. based web site that can communicate with all the systems, then access it through an iPod.
Possible systems to control include:
- Selecting audio sources and where to play them in the house
- Scheduling recordings on the MythTV distributed A/V system
- Controlling the lights
- Monitoring the security cameras
- Setting reminder alarms (announced)
- Running photo slideshows around the house
- Building shopping lists
To complement the iPod there will be several touch-screen terminals around the house which will give the same control, but in known locations so that the improvised remote doesn’t have to be carried around everywhere (and argued over).
I might mock-up some interface designs to give an idea of how I intend the system to work. Stay tuned!