Archive for ‘April, 2012’

19:14 We are working late to get version 2 of our sticky notes app YBoard for iPad completed and submitted to the iTunes app store. This is a live blog of events as they occur. Hit refresh (F5) for regular updates….

19:21 The irony of the fact that we are not using YBoard to plan the final stages of development of YBoard is not lost on us. We only have two iPads to hand and we need both of those – one for testing and one for development. We’ve had to revert to the whiteboard to track the final tasks for completion.

19:24 The final versions of the help layers have been completed. We’ve opted for a black background instead of the green we used in v1. Classy!

19:26 Marcin has found a small bug activating the help layer in a new board. Another task added to the list.

19.29 We created a more simple version of the On-Boarding Board that is loaded for new installs of YBoard version 2. The newer version is labelled as “tap here….”

19:33 Catering for the new iPad’s retina display requires a bit more time and patience, but is ultimately rewarding for the improved look of graphic rich apps like YBoard. YBoard v2 is totally “retina display ready!!”

19:39 This bug is proving very tricky to recreate. Whilst Marcin tries to fix it I am preparing some version release notes for iTunes.

19:53 The bug is fixed and the version release notes are written. Marcin’s preparing the screenshot that is required for the OnBoarding Board but needed needed my help for cropping the image with a fixed aspect ratio using GIMP. Only one more coding task remains! Starting to get hungry now though….

20:07 Some minor problems getting the OnBoarding Board to work as required in Retina Display mode…. D’oh. Just this and implementing the new help layers and we’re all done bar the final testing.

20:18 In beta versions of this release we had two different gestures to return to the Room screen from the Board screen: pinch out and swipe left. After using the app for the past few weeks we have both decided that the swipe left is more natural feeling and convenient than the pinch out. So we’re disabling the least preferred gesture. The help layer has been updated accordingly.

20:25 Code review to the sounds of Manchester City versus Manchester Utd on the radio. Still 0-0

20:27 The new help layers look loads better in black!!

20:28 We need to do a test of the feature we made which imports all notes from v1 to v2. The only way we can think how to do it is to uninstall v2 and buy YBoard v1 from the App Store.

20:33 Ouch! We need to do some App Search Optimisation with the new version. A search for “Sticky Notes” on the app store doesn’t return YBoard….

20:40 The test for upgrading from v1 to v2 worked well. Nearly there now!

20:44 Time to grab some fresh screenshots to use on the App Store. I’m sorry to keep on about it, but I’m really pleased with how the new help layers look.

20:45 Goal to Man City!!

20:47 The work to upload the new version to iTunes has begun.

20:54 Oh no, there’s a new Contract to be approved in iTunes Connect before we can submit the app. It requires new tax and banking information to be submitted. Fingers crossed that this doesn’t halt us from submitting the new version!!

21:21 Success! Preparing the new version on iTunes Connect now.

21:28 Ready for upload of binaries.

21:29 Uploading….

21:32 Message from Apple… “Upload received. Pending review”

21:34 Final post of the evening. The version status is now “Waiting for Review”. Time to relax and wait for approval! Good night all.

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I’ve been asked several times in the past about how I do presentations on my iPad. What hardware and software I use and so on. To save me some time the next time I’m asked I thought I’d jot down the details here:
Since the launch of iOS4 it has been possible on the iPad2 to duplicate what you are seeing on the iPad’s screen to a secondary screen by using a video adapter. Up until that point, only certain apps like the iPad’s video player and Keynote were compatible.
Connecting to a Projector
Apple has both a VGA and an HDMI video adapter for the iPad.

The HDMI adapter is my preferred option as HDMI cables tend to be lighter, have a much more reliable connection and also carry audio. The HDMI adapter also has a secondary input socket to power the iPad whilst you are connected. However very few projectors in circulation are equipped with an HDMI input so I tend to be stuck with using the VGA adapter instead. This isn’t too bad, but I have found when presenting abroad that the screw holes on my adapter don’t quite line up with the screws on VGA cables. They tend to be a fraction of a millimetre out which often means I need to use a bit of tape to ensure a good connection from my adapter to the projector’s cable. If I am planning to move around a bit I tend to hold the iPad in my left arm with my hand curled around the back and the bottom of the device using my fingers to ensure the cable is held in place.
It is possible to present wirelessly by using an AppleTV. Using a wifi network you can connect the iPad to an AppleTV and then mirror the iPad’s screen to a projector. The only problem here is that the AppleTV only has an HDMI outlet, so you need to ensure the projector that is used is HDMI ready. If you are presenting at a conference or large event then you might want to consider using your own private wifi network to ensure you have the best possible quality connection from your iPad to the AppleTV.
Preparing my Presentation
I use a PC so am still using good old PowerPoint 2010. I think PowerPoint gets a bit of a bad wrap, but it’s a tool at the end of the day which in the right hands can do a pretty decent job. No software can turn a badly designed presentation into a good one. I’ve found that PowerPoint does most of what I need for my presenting style. I’ve had a dabble with SlideRocket and Prezi which are both pretty good web based tools but I tend to do quite a lot of preparation whilst offline, so PowerPoint suits me better. I’ve also tried using Keynote for iPad as a means to prepare a presentation, but I’m not a fan of creating large amounts of content on the iPad and the iPad version of Keynote is a little bit lightweight and fiddly for my needs.
Software for Presenting
There are a number of tools for presenting PowerPoint files on the iPad, but I’m not a big fan. I’ve found that the format tends to get monkeyed about with so I much prefer to convert my slides to PDF format first and then present using a PDF viewer. I’ve tried a few different PDF viewers but have settled with GoodReader as my preferred app. I like how I can easily synch files with my Dropbox account which means I can ensure I can make last minute updates from my PC and easily synchronise with my iPad. GoodReader has some useful settings to help optimise the presentation. You can change the slide buffering and transition settings which help to optimise the presentation and ensure that slides are cached in advance. There’s nothing worse than having to wait for a slide to load when you flick between slides. I prefer to swipe left and right between slides, but some apps allow alternative gestures and slide transitions to be used. GoodReader runs presentations in full screen mode and you can turn off page numbering which helps to keep the audience’s focus on my content. Some other viewers like Adobe Reader for iPad up until recent versions retained the iPad’s header bar on the screen and flashes up the page number on every screen which is a bit distracting I find.
GoodReader has one major drawback though. It is not very good at handling fonts. I have a load of OTF and TTF fonts that I like to use in my slides, but very few apps are capable of rendering them. I used Lobster Two and Bebas Neue fonts in the presentation I did at a Flight Ops Conference last year, but I struggled to find an app that would properly render my slides.
This is how one of my slides should have looked as seen on Adobe Reader for iPad

Here is the same slide as it appeared on GoodReader and other PDF viewersNone of the PowerPoint viewing apps would render my slides and only Adobe Reader of the PDF viewers would render the fonts properly. However due to the drawbacks that I described with Adobe Reader I had to come up with an alternative plan. I ended up exporting my original slides as image files and then importing the images to Keynote for iPad. This worked really well and allowed me to use some of the nicer features of Keynote. However if I had needed to do any last minute amendments to my presentation this would have been a real pain.

Keynote for iPad I have found is the best tool for actually presenting slides. When you are connected to a projector there are a couple of really useful presentation tools. If you tap and hold your finger on the iPad’s screen a virtual laser pointer appears just above your finger which is handy for pointing out details on your slides. You also have a timer that appears on your screen, but not on the projection which is really handy to keep a track of time. Also it is possible to use a companion app on your iPhone which you can connect to the iPad via wifi or Bluetooth which allows you to use your iPhone as a wireless remote.
There have been a number of updates to iPad PowerPoint tools like Slideshark and PPT Show which have borrowed features from Keynote. Microsoft keep threatening to launch PowerPoint for iPad, so it is probably worth me reviewing the available apps before conference season starts again.
Please visit our presentations page to view the content from some of my recent talks.

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Author: Paul Saunders

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Paul Saunders will be presenting for a second year at the Aircraft Commerce Airline & Aerospace MRO & Operations IT Conference – EMEA in Darmstadt on the 12th and 13th of June 2012. Paul will be updating and presenting his highly successful workshop “Tablet Stategy Bootcamp” which was warmly received at the Asia/Pacific and American legs of the conference in Singapore and Miami in recent months.

Conduce Software will also be exhibiting at the conference for a second year where we will be showcasing our latest software products. Please drop by Stand E40 for a chat and for an impromptu demonstration. For more information about our forthcoming and recent speaking appearances or to book one of our speakers for your conference please visit our presentations page.

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In preparation for a presentation that I’m giving later this year I made a short film to illustrate the absurdity of the current cabin defects procedures employed by some airlines.

I kid you not. If there is a problem with non-safety critical parts on some commercial aircraft this is the actual chain of events that occurs. I know I’m not the only person who believes this to be insane. Recently I have spoken with pilots, cabin crew and engineers who are all as equally frustrated by this scenario. Considering the amount of investment by airlines on improving passenger experience this just amplifies the level of disbelief.

Consider the impact on a long haul operator with a single seat in business class without in-flight entertainment. Many airlines I know would not book a passenger on that seat. How much lost revenue does that represent per flight? Now scale that up to several seats per aircraft across a fleet. The cost must rack into the millions per year. Now consider the impact to the airline’s business if they do bite the bullet and place a passenger in that defective seat. I think you are starting to get the picture.

So why the lack of investment on improving systems and procedures to improve this process? Search me – it makes little sense! The cabin defects procedure is one example of a 20th Century procedure on board aircraft and in the MRO sector that has not been revisited for years.

“It’s how we’ve always done it” is the response you get when challenging these outdated practises. This attitude is no longer acceptable in the modern climate. Organisations who are unable to adapt and embrace modern ways of working need to understand that they are at a strategic and financial disadvantage over a competitor that operates differently.

It just so happens that we built a proof of concept that allows the simple capture and transmittal of cabin defects via an iPad application that can be easily integrated with MRO, ERP, CRM and ETL systems. If you would like to know more about our simple cabin defects solution, Defexx then please get in touch.

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Author: Paul Saunders

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Last month’s Apple event saw the unveiling of the new iPad. The main new feature that is going to affect everyone is a new retina display. It’s 2048×1536 pixels to be precise – exactly double the resolution of the old iPad. That might sound a lot and it is however I’m very happy because of it. As you might expect there are advantages and disadvantages of such high resolution.
 
First it makes displayed content much better. There are more details on your photos and apps you use every day. You might say that your current display of a laptop or mobile phone is enough and you don’t need anything above that. I don’t believe that it’s true. I believe that people just get used to poor image quality. A few years ago 640×480 was considered Hi Res. If you take a look at the world around, it’s much crisper than on your screen ;-). Of course such density of pixels produces more challenges not only for the hardware (complicated manufacturing, more memory and powerful processors required) but also for the software. As a software developer I’m more interested in the second one.

Fig.1 magnified screenshot of Defexx for iPad on iPad2 (left) and new iPad (right)
For those iPad applications that use standard controls like tables and buttons – mainly business oriented apps – there’s not much to change. All images of controls come with a new iOS version – so they are in HI-Res already. All you need to do is to update icons and rarely some logos.

There are the problems with more graphic-intensive apps like YBoard. In YBoard basically everything you see is a custom image – so everything needs to be changed. In some cases, when you don’t have high quality source images – graphics need to be prepared again in double the resolution. Things are even worse when it comes to websites. You can replace all images with retina-enabled ones, using -webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2 attribute, but hey! Websites are not intended for iOS devices only, are they? What about other devices? The problem is that the web is pixel based rather than points based. So the look of a website will vary between different devices and screen resolutions. Despite having some pixel-independent graphic formats like SVG we still lack a widely-spread standard to help us solve the problem.

Fig.2 magnified screenshot of YBoard on iPad 2 (left) and new iPad (right)

To summarize, the new iPad offers a very good quality image but burdened with more work for both developers and designers. Now you can imagine that in say 3 years Apple will introduce new “micro retina” displays, because pixels are still distinguishable when straining eyes from a short distance. Steve Jobs once said: “It turns out that there’s a magic number right around 300 pixels per inch…” and the new iPad has got only 264 ppi :D.

Click here to take a closer look at some of our iPad and iPhone development capability or contact us to find out how we can help you make use of the iPads new retina display with your software or business apps.

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Author: Marcin Wojciechowski

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Science Fiction over the years has provided us with a fascinating vision of the future. Some visions have even directly inspired technological research. One type of technology that has been cropping up in science fiction since the 1960s has been the tablet device. Since the tablet has become a reality these visions of the future have become more and more dazzling and ambitious. Here are my Top 10 favourite tablet devices from science fiction writing, films and television.

10. Avatar

James Cameron is becoming a technological pioneer in his own right developing ground breaking technology to help construct his visions and with his deep sea exploits. Some of the technological visions in the movie Avatar were stunning and we caught a glimpse of the ruggedised tablet of the future with this see-through invention. I’m not a fan of transparent tech. What is the value of seeing the reverse of what the user is doing?

9. Quantum Leap

Dean Stockwell’s character Al, was equipped in the future with a cigar and a bizarre 80s design lego PDA type device. I’m assuming this mini-tablet wasn’t widely available as a consumer device as it seemed to be a single use business intelligence device that was tightly integrated with the character’s central information systems

8. Real Steel

There’s a fair bit of shameless product placement in the Hugh Jackman film Real Steel. Nokia and HP both showcase their future visions in this film which is probably very good PR for both companies whose recent fortunes have not been so good. This HP curved device looks like some kind of laptop/tablet type hybrid.

7. Iron Man


Another transparent offering from the man of steel here. Interesting credit card form factor though.

6. Minority Report

The vision of future user interfaces in Minority Report has directly inspired a whole slew technological devices with windows panes and whole table tops being exploited as display and input devices. Minus points for another transparent device though.

5. Star Trek – The Next Generation


Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future has directly influenced technologists, astro physicists and astronauts in countless ways. The Next Generation Series along with the spin-off films and TV shows has moved that vision forward, but something has gone wrong with the latest generation of Captain Picard’s PADD device (which is believed to have directly inspred the iPad). Instead of having one device per crew member that all interact with the ship’s central systems there are dozens of devices floating around and being handed about amongst the crew in the same way as bits of paper would. Perhaps memory space is scarce in the Star Trek future?

4. Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


The eponymous book from the radio show, books, TV series and film is in my view a stunningly accurate vision of the internet in tablet form. I just love the distinctive UI of the book that was designed for the 1970s TV show.

3. Caprica

The short-lived Battlestar Galactica spin-off series featured a personal favourite device of mine. This ePaper device could be folded away just like a piece of paper. In this particular future vision tablets become ultra-thin and ultra-portable.

2. Star Trek – The Original Series

The Daddy of sci-fi tablet devices, Captain Kirk’s PADD featured a handy stylus for signing off what I have always assumed were invoice approvals for the ship’s finance department.

1. 2001 – A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 vision of what is now the past fleetingly gave us a glimpse of the tablets we should have been using 11 years ago. These media tablets look remarkably like the Apple iPad. So much so that Samsung actually used this image as a legal argument in court that Apple did not invent the tablet.

So there you have it. My Top 10 list of Science Fictions best tablet devices. Have I missed your favourite and which device is the most accurate future vision? Let me know what you think or contact us if you want to know how we think tablets could be used in the very near future in your own organisation.

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Author: Paul Saunders

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With the MRO Americas conference in Dallas this week I thought I would finally post something that has been kicking around in my Documents folder for almost 12 months now. I started a guest blog post about using alternative Social networks in the Aviation MRO world, but I never used it in the end. Anyway – waste not, want not. This blog post is all about alternative types of social media that MROs should be using instead of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
[EDIT: To be clear I am offering a number of quick and easy entry solutions into Social Media and Social Networking for Aviation MRO companies. I have a strong opinion on more advanced techniques which I will tackle in a later blog post – Paul]

Before I start I need to make something completely clear. I am NOT a social media expert.  According to Gary Vaynerchuk “99.5% of social media experts are clowns“. I tend to agree with him and would argue that this number has been rounded down slightly. In fact I would add that unless you are talking to Lady Gaga about your Social Media campaign then proceed with extreme caution. Social Media is no rocket science. Like most things it’s just a matter of knowing what you want to achieve, practising a bit and applying a bit of trial and error. So who am I to advice on social media? Let’s just say that I’m an interested amateur.

Whilst the rest of aviation is having a busy time with Social Media, the MRO world has been left behind a bit. I guess this is down to squeezed marketing budgets and confusion as to how to engage on a business to business level via the normal social media channels. It’s fairly clear cut for the OEMs and Airlines as they have both the budgets and a clearly defined audience. Out of the main MRO companies around the world only Delta TechOps MRO is tweeting away with any level of gusto. But are we perhaps barking up the wrong tree by focussing purely on the main social media platforms? By these I mean Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. If you’ve got this far I’ll make the assumption that you know all about social media and are conversant with the ways in which these “traditional” channels are already utilised by aerospace.

Expanding the Blogosphere

It is widely accepted that the most important “social object” (i.e. the reason why two people are talking to each other in the social media universe) is the blog post. Blogging is hard work and the mainstay blogging platforms don’t help with fiddly interfaces and spam bot infested environments. Newer entrants to the blogging platform market are seeing rapid growth in user numbers and traffic by differentiating through simplicity within the gap between micro-blogging sites like Twitter and full blown blogging platforms like WordPress. Tumblr and Posterous are probably the highest profile of these newer, rapidly growing channels with bolt down, clean interfaces that allows posts to be easily and quickly created via email and polished mobile apps. If MROs are put off from blogging because of the perceived complexity and time investment, perhaps they should explore these more lightweight alternatives. I had a little bit of a dabble with Posterous recently and was delighted to find that it was possible to get a very good looking website up and running in relatively little time. It was no surprise to me that Posterous was recently acquired by Twitter which I think will see it flourish.

Geo-Location

In 2010, the poster boys of both the Social Networking and Gamification communities were location based social network platforms: namely Foursquare and Gowalla. Twelve months later the hype had cooled slightly with high user churn rates and some business users somewhat puzzled as to how to effectively use those channels. A further twelve months later and the wave of enthusiasm has soured a little. Gowalla was acquired by Facebook and has since folded. Presumably this was either a talent acquisition or a clear-out of the competition. Clearly there is little value in MROs geo-tagging their hangars to entice customers to bring their aircraft to their facilities, but there is a great deal of value in generating leads and engaging with potential buyers by using such services to entice and reward visitors to events, conferences and trade shows. A really savvy exhibitor could potentially use geo-location based social networks as a powerful lead generator during a trade show with much better metadata than the traditional fish bowl full of business cards.


Picture courtesy of Michael Denis
Twitter Feed Screens like this one at MRO Americas in Dallas this week are becoming quite a common sight, but how about seeing geo-location data on a feed at conferences?

Presenting

MROs put great effort into presenting their capabilities, showcasing their USPs and demonstrating their expertise in presentations directly to prospects and to a wider audience at conferences. There is significant money spent on corporate graphic design, infographics, PowerPoint templates and slick presentations. Occasionally we’ll see these presentations videoed and streamed by conference organisers, posted on YouTube or the slides uploaded somewhere for download. Slideshare.net is a seriously under-utilised platform by MRO. It is more than just a PowerPoint hosting site. It is a vibrant social media community in its own rights with tight integration to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Uploaded slide decks can be easily shared, tagged and embedded spreading your message to a much wider audience. Cloud based presentation applications like Sliderocket and Prezi have their own built in sharing and community features which help your message to be spread much easier and should be seriously considered as alternatives to good old MS PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote.

I am continually amazed at the sparse usage of Lanyrd.com, not just by MRO businesses, but by the aviation community in general. The search terms “mro”, “aviation” or “aerospace” only generate a handful of conferences and presentations. Although, as I note that @AvWeekEvents have been using it, this may soon change for the better. Lanyrd (pronounced Lanyard) is self-described as a social conference directory. It’s a thriving community and a great means to publicise and engage with delegates regarding forthcoming conferences and events. It’s also the best means I know to share and consume conference coverage, be it video, images, audio or slide decks. Well worth checking out.

I’ve just scratched the surface at some alternative social media platforms that aviation MRO ought to be exploring to promote their expertise and to engage with their customers. I’ve not touched the untapped potential of discussion boards and expertise forums such as Quora and Stack Exchange. Nor have I looked at some of the more curious recent additions to the Social Media universe like Pinterest and Jotly

The possibilities for aviation MRO remains relatively untapped. But unlike most new technology, despite what the experts might tell you, social media needs comparatively little expenditure or expertise to begin to take full advantage. If you are interested in Aviation MRO it is well worth checking out the #MROAM hashtag on Twitter for this week’s MRO Americas Conference.

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[SLIDES] Miami Presentation
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Author: Paul Saunders

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We are pleased to announce that earlier today our client TR Fleet went live with a new version of their Conduce Software developed Fleet Risk Management web application DriveSecure. The second phase of development ran from January until the end of March 2012 and features a brand new Fleet Panel dashboard complete with self service analysis tools.

Please contact us to find out more about our bespoke web application development capability.

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