Education apps of the week: Learning to type with iPad apps

Education apps of the week: Learning to type with iPad apps

When Apple released iOS 8, it marked the first time iPad had support for custom keyboards. As well as now being able to swipe to type, and add all manner of emojis, it also means you can now have lower case keyboards and more, all of which is very beneficial to learning to type.

Our team has been looking into these apps recently, and have picked out the following three to recommend to primary schools: MyScript Stack, Lowercase Keyboard and Keedogo.

What are these apps?

MyScript Stack (MyScript, free) is a keyboard that lets the user input words by hand writing them, rather than using the traditional keyboard, which is obviously great for pupils who are just learning to write – you just use a finger or stylus to write out each character continuously on top of each other. Once downloaded, you can open up the MyScript Stack keyboard in any app too, which is handy.

Lowercase Keyboard (Matthew Thomas, 69p) is, as you could probably figure out, a keyboard that shows characters in lower case (as well as upper case). It also only uses a simplified set of numbers and special characters, to make things less complicated for young learners.

Keedogo (Assistive Software, £1.49) is probably our favourite and most feature-packed out of the keyboard apps we’ve tried so far, but it does come at a price. Like Lowercase Keyboard, it reduces the characters and symbols on offer to reduce any chance of distraction, features lower case letters and colour-coded vowels, and can be used in any app as an alternative to the standard iOS keyboard.

How are they beneficial to the classroom?

A teacher once cited to our education team that the reason they had opted to move to Android devices in the classroom over iPad was purely for the lower case keyboard that comes as standard on Android devices. iOS has always gone with upper case characters on their keyboard, matching their hardware Mac equivalents. This obviously isn’t a problem for adults, who have had the QWERTY keyboard so instilled in them that they probably find it easy to type and locate the shift key without giving much of a glance at the keyboard.

But if you’re a young learner who’s only just getting to grips with the alphabet, the difference between upper and lower case is massive. That’s why iOS 8’s new support for third party keyboards which offer this functionality has been so beneficial to primary education.

What are the best features?

We like how MyScript Stack lets users add breaks, spaces and even erase letters using just touch gestures. Lowercase Keyboard scores points for using the ‘OpenDyslexic’ font, which has been created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. And Keedogo offers the possibility to choose either a QWERTY or ABC layout, which could be useful for getting very young learners familiar with the alphabet before teaching the now standard keyboard.

Where can I get them?

You can find all three apps by searching on the App Store on your iPad, or alternatively heading to iTunes to download any of MyScript Stack (MyScript, free)Lowercase Keyboard (Matthew Thomas, 69p) or Keedogo (Assistive Software, £1.49).

Want to know more about our favourite apps and Apple iPad for the classroom? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 333, email learning@Jigsaw24.com, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page for all the latest technology in education news, reviews and articles.

Lidar, the secrets of Angkor Wat and Autodesk

Lidar, the secrets of Angkor Wat and Autodesk

A new technology we’re hearing a lot about is lidar – light detection and ranging. Used to examine the surface of the Earth, you may have also seen it in operation on the Beeb’s recent Jungle Atlantis: Death Of Angkor Wat’s Megacity, where lidar technology has revealed the original city of Angkor. And the same technology can be used in architecture too, even linking up with Autodesk…

What is lidar technology?

Lidar is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges, or variable distances, to Earth. When these pulses are combined with other data recorded from the air, you can generate precise 3D information about the shape of the Earth and its surface over broad areas.

The lidar instrument itself consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialised GPS receiver, usually on board a plane or chopper. There are two types: topographic and bathymetric. Topographic lidar typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land, while bathymetric lidar uses water-penetrating green light to also measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.

How is it used?

You may have seen lidar employed on a recent BBC documentary production, Jungle Atlantis: Death Of Angkor Wat’s Megacity. In the programme, you saw how an international team of archaeologists and scientists have used lidar technology to discover the secrets of the forgotten Cambodian Khmer civilisation. The lidar device was mounted on a helicopter criss-crossing the countryside, firing a million laser beams every four seconds through the jungle canopy, recording minute variations in ground surface topography.

The archaeologists found undocumented cityscapes etched on to the forest floor, with temples, highways and elaborate waterways spreading across the landscape. “You have this kind of sudden eureka moment where you bring the data up on screen the first time and there it is – this ancient city very clearly in front of you,” said Dr Damian Evans to the BBC.

How can we use it?

The potential for lidar in architecture is massive too. Replacing photos with the laser pulses and automated calculations of lidar point cloud data means it’s accurate, as well as fast and cheap (providing you have access to your own aircraft…) – it virtually places you on your target site without having to leave the office.

There’s actually been support for lidar data in Autodesk products for some time now, and you’ll find an end-to-end solution in AutoCAD, AutoCAD Labs, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Map 3D and Navisworks products. Here’s a great tutorial that outlines a simplified process of bringing large lidar data sets into Civil 3D and then modifying that information into clean and manageable surfaces.

Want to know more about Autodesk products? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email autodesk@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Thanks for coming to the Adobe Create Now SMB World Tour!

Thanks for coming to the Adobe Create Now SMB World Tour!

Adobe recently brought their Create Now SMB World Tour to the UK, with the chance for Adobe users to get up close and personal with Creative Cloud 2014’s desktop and mobile apps. And we had the pleasure of hosting the very final leg at our new place in Golden Square, Soho.

Adobe’s Iona Walters and Rupert Knowles, as well as our own Adobe specialists, were on hand to show how Creative Cloud can take businesses to new levels, explaining the brand new features and how the VIP licensing and Packager processes work. It must have gone down well (the free food and drinks might have helped, slightly…) because we had plenty of eager questions and some great feedback from everyone who attended. So thank you to everyone who came down – it was a blast!

Here’s a little of what you’ve been saying, and some pics from the day, in case you missed out:

Adobe's Rupert takes to the stage

Adobe’s Rupert takes to the stage

“Just wanted to say thank you for the invite today. It was really useful and informative – it’s good to know you’re only a ten-minute walk away too!”

“I have found that many of these events can be very dry and a little too formal. I found this mornings event, both in terms of presentation and venue to be just about the right balance and as such I was able to come away feeling intrigued to find out more about some of the things I’d seen, as opposed to having ‘glazed over’.”

“More of these please! Maybe focus on different areas – video, photo, graphics etc.”

Iona from Adobe runs through the new 2014 features in Creative Cloud apps

Iona from Adobe runs through the new 2014 features in Creative Cloud apps

“@WeAreJigsaw24 @AdobeUK Thanks for a great session today. Lots of great stuff to go and play with.”

“@WeAreJigsaw24 seriously loving the fact you guys r now in soho! Great first session with @AdobeUK hoping I can convince the team to invest!”

 

Lots of Creative Cloud questions!

Lots of Creative Cloud questions!

If you didn’t manage to make it down, don’t worry – we will be holding more events like this with Adobe. Keep an eye on Jigsaw24.com/events for all our upcoming events. Plus, you can always just drop in for a cup of tea and a chat about Adobe at our Soho services and customer experience centre at Golden Square.

Want to know more about Adobe Creative Cloud for teams? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.


NEC unveil PA322UHD display, creatives collectively swoon

NEC unveil PA322UHD display, creatives collectively swoon

“Crisp ultra high definition (UHD) resolution and incredible, predictable colour accuracy.” That’s how NEC are trumpeting their brand new MultiSync PA322UHD display – something that’s sure to get creatives across the photography, imaging and video industries drooling.

NEC’s new display, shipping in December, delivers four times the typical Full HD resolution, packing in 140 pixels per inch (PPI) at native resolution. This enables it to display images with amazing clarity and sharpness, as well as provide a huge amount of desktop real estate to play with.

Where it really stands out though is with its colour fidelity – it uses a wide gamut white LED backlight and an IGZO technology IPS-type LCD panel for excellent image quality, while delivering 99.2% Adobe RGB colour space coverage – all with lower power consumption than comparable LCD displays.

Another reason you have such high accuracy is the 10-bit colour support over DisplayPort and HDMI inputs. When matched with a 10-bit operating system and video card, you get an extra two bits of colour data through the display, extending the typical 16.7 million colours to over 1 trillion, improving gradients and reducing image banding. That makes it an ideal option for anyone who needs the best colour accuracy for their work, such as videographers, photographers and print production specialists, NEC say.

Other benefits include:

– Support for a multitude of refresh rates, including 24, 30, 50, 60, 85, 100 and 120Hz modes.

– USB 3.0 hub (two up, three down) with DisplaySync Pro, which is a high resolution KVM switch that can control two computers with only one keyboard and mouse.

– Two DisplayPort inputs, and the options of two DVI-D and two HDMI, or four HDMI inputs, as well as an OPS-compliant option slot for additional input flexibility.

– Ergonomic stand that’s ideal for both landscape and portrait modes, with automatic rotation of the image when the display is rotated.

– Colour and white Digital Uniformity Correction with 93% more correction points than previous MultiSync PA Series displays.

– ‘Picture in Picture’ and ‘Picture by Picture’ modes, which splits the screen in half or in quarters to up to four full HD images in one or more multiple colour spaces in realtime.

– Two internal 2W speakers for great multimedia sound.

Availability

First shipments for the PA322UHD display are expected to take place in December 2014.

Want to know more about getting your hands on the NEC PA322UHD, or more on colour accurate displays? Get in touch now on 03332 409 306 or email displays@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Avid update Media Composer with background rendering and more

Avid update Media Composer with background rendering and more

The latest update for Media Composer is out now, with Avid adding all manner of workflow enhancements to turn you into a lean, mean editing machine. Render in the background to save time and money, use floating licence servers to cut out downtime, and find those assets you need quicker with favourite bins and the like.

Here are just a few of the new Media Composer tools and features:

Background render. Render effects in the background while you continue to work and edit within Media Composer. Use the Background Queue window to confirm progress and manage jobs.

Favourite bins. Have one or more bins always available no matter what project you’re in.

Project information in select project dialogue. Selecting a project in the list displays the project type, colour space, raster size, frames per second, stereoscopic profile and more – before opening the project.

Quick filter in project window. Quickly filter bins in the project window based on specific text.

Search for markers. Search for marker names and comments in the Find window across all sequences and master clips within a project, in both open and closed bins.

Image cache for thumbnails. Improved performance loading, scrolling or resizing large quantities of thumbnail images in bins and the timeline. In addition, the Media Cache setting allows users to set the memory and disk cache size, as well as establish the location of the disk cache.

Redundant floating licence server support. Configure an additional floating licence server as a backup server in case of emergency. When the primary server goes down, the editor seamlessly uses a licence from the backup server and continues working – no risk of losing access to your licences!

Enhanced feeds management in Application Manager. View feeds in chronological order and choose which feeds you’d like to receive.

DMF support for DPX files. The AIS (Avid Image Sequencer) plug-in now supports DMF workflows. Use profiles to automate the linking, consolidation, transcode and copy of DPX files in the background using DMF profiles.

How to get the new update

The latest update to Media Composer has already been unleashed on the world, and getting it couldn’t be simpler. If you’re already running the latest version of MC, then Avid will drop you a notification to let you know the update’s available through the Application Manager. When ready, you’ll be given a link to download and install under the Apps tab.

If you’re purchasing Media Composer new, or a Standard Avid Support/Upgrade for Media Composer, Symphony, or NewsCutter, you’ll receive this update in your Master Avid Account. Anyone on current Support contracts can download the update either from their Master Avid Account or the Avid Download Center (login and password required). Finally, if you’re not on a current Avid Support contract, you can get one of those from us to receive the latest software update.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Infographic: Top app ideas for every area of your business

Infographic: Top app ideas for every area of your business

You can now streamline pretty much every area of your business with a bespoke app. From a customer-facing sales catalogue that will improve your meetings with clients, to a warehouse distribution app that’ll ensure your logistics are as efficient as they can be. Take a look at our infographic below for some of our top ideas (just click to see it in more detail)…

Infographic: Top business app ideas

Want to know more about developing your own killer business app? Get in touch with our app development team on 03332 400 888, email appdevelopment@Jigsaw24.com or head to our custom app development site.

Avid introduce new Pro Tools licensing, Standard Support

Avid introduce new Pro Tools licensing, Standard Support

Avid have announced that every upgrade or new purchase of Pro Tools 11 from November will be even better value for your cash. Not only will you get world-beating DAW tools and sound quality, but also new cloud collaboration functionality, and a full year of Avid Standard Support too, so your software’s always up to date with all the latest updates and upgrades. 

What does that actually mean for you? You get groundbreaking new features, 24/7 professional support, all your Pro Tools upgrades/updates into 2016, access to how-to videos, troubleshooting articles and other great resources from Avid Customer Care. They say those new extras will let you collaborate in the cloud, sell your music, and more.

Chris Gahagan, senior vice president of products and technology at Avid, said: “Pro Tools is the most frequently used and highly trusted digital audio workstation in the industry because of its unrivaled sound quality, power, and versatility for music and audio post-production. Now we’re making it easier for all customers to elevate their music and audio production immediately — and then take it to a higher level as cloud collaboration and other new features become available later.”

 Upgrade/crossgrade from previous Pro Tools and save

If you own Pro Tools 9 or Pro Tools 10, any version of Pro Tools Express (from Avid or InMusic1), Pro Tools LE 82, Pro Tools M-Powered 6-8, or Pro Tools MP 9, from November you can upgrade or crossgrade to Pro Tools 11 and receive Avid Standard Support, which includes all Pro Tools updates and upgrades, plus access to professional support around the clock, for one full year from the time of purchase. You’ll also be saving a massive 60% off the usual upgrade price if you go down this route.

The same goes for upgrading from HD 9/10 to HD 11, with savings of up to 40% off previous retail pricing. Plus, you can continue receiving support and upgrades into the future by simply renewing your plan, so you can always stay current and have the latest tools and features.

Purchasing new Pro Tools software

If you’re buying Pro Tools software brand new, you’ll be happy to find that will also include future upgrades. From November, customers can purchase Pro Tools software with a one-year, renewable subscription support plan that includes all Pro Tools software upgrades throughout the duration of their plan, as well as one year of renewable Avid Standard Support, and Avid Marketplace features.

Best of all, if you buy or upgrade by 20th December 2014, Avid will extend your support plan to 31st March 31, 2016, meaning you get up to 17 months of Pro Tools upgrades, updates, and support instead of 12, depending on when you purchase. You’ll of course continue receiving support and upgrades to stay current by renewing your plan annually.

Let me at it!

Patience is a virtue… the above upgrades and Pro Tools “stay current” offers will be available for purchase come November, from Avid authorised resellers (that’s us). In the meantime, you can always check out our full Avid Pro Tools lineup here.

Want to know more about Avid Pro Tools? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Audio on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 

Update on fire at University of Nottingham building

Update on fire at University of Nottingham building

You may have heard in the news about the fire that tore through the University of Nottingham’s GlaxoSmithKline-funded new Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry, which was still under construction. Luckily, no-one was hurt, but the building was completely destroyed.

University of Nottingham registrar Dr Paul Greatrix had the following statement…

“We are incredibly grateful to our staff and students for their fantastic response in dealing with this major incident and would like to express our gratitude to both Notts Fire Service and Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service. It was the quick action of their fire crews which prevented this incident from being much more serious. We have also been extremely touched by the messages and best wishes from our close neighbours out in the community.

“We would like to thank the wider higher education community across the UK for its support – we have had many offers of help from other universities around the country, for which we are extremely grateful.

“To put this loss into perspective, we need to remember that this was one building, that thankfully no one was injured and that the fire was prevented from spreading further on to campus.

“We want to stress that it is business as usual at The University of Nottingham. We were able to ensure that Open Day 2014, went ahead as planned and was unaffected by the incident — we welcomed thousands of prospective students and their families to our campuses to enjoy a packed programme of talks and activities demonstrating our high-quality teaching and facilities.

“The new building wasn’t due to be opened until next year and, as such, our chemistry department, while understandably disappointed by this loss, won’t be affected either from a teaching or research perspective in the immediate future.

“This is a setback for us but one from which we have no doubt we will recover. The University of Nottingham has an international reputation for scientific excellence, underpinned by the world-leading expertise of our academics. It is upon those strong foundations that we will rebuild and renew for the future.

“The GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry is a landmark building which is the embodiment of the University’s commitment to sustainability in all its forms, particularly in the area of green chemistry and we will be working closely with our partners at GSK, and the contractors Morgan Sindall, to develop a positive plan of action for rebuilding.

“At this stage, we have no idea what caused the fire and may not know for some time until the Fire Service has been able to fully investigate the incident. The building was designed to meet stringent fire regulation requirements.”

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email autodesk@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Behind the curtains at the National Theatre refurb

Behind the curtains at the National Theatre refurb

The National Theatre have just completed a refit on their Dorfman Theatre, increasing the capacity with the addition of 100 seats. We’ve been working with the National for years now, having installed their digital archive, so were excited to take a peek behind the curtains of the finished auditorium.

The Dorfman Theatre auditorium forms just one part of the major renovation of the grade II-listed Denys Lasdun building by Haworth Tompkins. As well as increasing the capacity, the National have made the Dorfman’s seating far more flexible. The seats can be quickly lowered to give a fully flat floor, and they’ve also added a lift for greater accessibility. 

The Dorfman’s now open and ready for presentations, and you can have a look at the newly refurbished space in this gallery at the Architects Journal website. If you are taking on a short term project like the National have done here, where you’ll only need your software for the duration of the project, Autodesk’s new Desktop subscriptions are a good bet, letting you add licences on a quarterly or annual basis. Find out more about Autodesk subscriptions here.

Want us to quote you on your Autodesk licences and subscriptions? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email autodesk@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips follow us on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Business app of the week: Acronis Access for iPad

Business app of the week: Acronis Access for iPad

Acronis Access for iPad has changed the way that IT teams give iPad users secure and managed access (via AD authentication) to files that are stored on corporate file servers, letting iPad users access files in the same way as they would on their desktop. Here’s why we’re recommending it to businesses…

What is Acronis Access for iPad?

Acronis Access is a secure file access and management solution that lets you access corporate files on iPad. It securely syncs and backs up data on your mobile device and company servers, providing constant, controlled access to all the files you’d be able to view if you were in the office any time, anywhere. There’s even a built-in editor for accessing and editing files right within the app, without having to move them into third party, non-compliant apps.

How does it work?

The app works by hooking into your Acronis Accesss file servers (which you’ll already need to have set up), which in turn let you access Windows file servers, SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013 and 365 servers and most other file servers and NAS devices.

Everything’s fully secure too, so your IT admin team can rest easy knowing they have privacy and protection with over-the-air and on-device encryption of files (Access is FIPS 140-2 certified for iOS). It lets them set policies for app security settings, servers, folders and home directories, enable or disable app functions, and whitelist or blacklist the iOS apps that Acronis Access allows files to be opened into. There’s also the option to selectively remote wipe all app configuration and in-app files on lost or stolen devices.

Who is it for?

Acronis Access gives any business who has invested in mobile technology the chance to take their deployment to the next level for improved productivity and an ever better return on investment (ROI), with enterprise-level scalability. It’s especially useful for teams who are out of the office a lot and need to access company files while on the go.

What’s the best feature?

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Acronis Access is its one-way and two-way sync function. This allows you to keep employees up to date with the latest versions of materials automatically.

How much is it and where can I get it?

Acronis Access (Group Logic, Inc, free) is available to download from the App Store on your iPad or directly from iTunes. While the iOS app is free, you do need to have Acronis Access file servers in place to be able to access your company files. You can get in touch with the team on the details below for more information on setting this solution up.

Want to know more about making the most of iPad in business? Give our team a call on 03332 409 306 or email B2B@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news and tips, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.