In part two of Dr Brian Jones’s search for a Mac mini, our hero comes across a devious temptress…
In the meantime, click the banner below to find out you can get your hands on a Mac deal without travelling through time.
In part two of Dr Brian Jones’s search for a Mac mini, our hero comes across a devious temptress…
In the meantime, click the banner below to find out you can get your hands on a Mac deal without travelling through time.
Or, if you don’t fancy going to such lengths to get your hands on a Mac mini, click the banner below.
If the system identifier light on your Xserve is shining, but you know there are no system errors reported in system admin or system monitor, it’s simply a case of resetting it. In this video, tech support guru John Hutchinson shows how…
Apple are really advancing technology for education at the moment, and their huge recent product launch helped back up their cause. Not only did they release the brand new iPad mini, which is ideal for the classroom, and new Mac hardware, they spent a good chunk of the presentation talking about how iBooks and iBooks Author were helping engage learners. Here are a few of the standout points.
iPad mini (and the updated iPad)
The release that’s got everyone talking, Apple’s iPad mini fills that niche between the regular-sized iPad and the iPod touch. At 7.9″, the tablet’s an ideal size for the classroom, as younger pupils who might have trouble holding the full size 9.7″ tablet will find the new design much more comfortable, and older students are able to hold iPad mini in one hand and use it as an e-reader (much like a Kindle). As Apple were keen to stress, the iPad mini will do everything the regular sized one will do – all apps work the same, as do all the configuration and management features. Of course, you still get access to some 275,000 apps in the App Store too.
Another problem the iPad mini addresses is in using the camera. We always find it a little awkward to shoot photos and videos using the rear-facing camera on the iPad, so the new slimmed down version should make the whole process much easier. There’s also a front-facing FaceTime HD camera so students can produce video diary-style reports. As usual, there’s a range of different storage capacities depending on how many documents, apps, songs and videos you want to load on, and a choice of black or white.
The regular iPad line-up also got a refresh, with 4th generation iPad Retina display models now sporting the new Lightning port recently launched on the iPhone 5, and a new chip which promises processing speeds of double that of iPad 2.
iBooks 3 and iBooks Author
The announcement of the new iBooks 3 and updated iBooks Author will see a huge improvement in the kinds of textbooks, both published and internal, that schools, colleges and universities will benefit from. In the US, iBooks now cover 80% of the curriculum, and the number of digital textbooks for the UK curriculum is on a significant rise too.
iBooks is Apple’s reader app, which has its own iBookstore and ability to create your own digital textbooks with iBooks Author. For an idea of what you can do with iBooks, check out our handy iBooks tutorials. Version 3 now lets you store books and save your place on iCloud to read on any device – pretty handy if students are reading a textbook on the iPad mini, then need to carry on from the same place on their iPhone or iPod for research and analysis around the text. With improved scrolling, sharing features and now 40 supported languages, this will be a real boost for education.
iBooks Author has also been updated, making it easier and faster to publish iBooks. There are new Apple templates, including a portrait template which wasn’t previously available, and better handling of custom fonts, widgets and mathematical functions which will help to close out the remainder of the school curriculum that hasn’t been covered by iBooks yet. They’re both available to download for free now.
The new Mac line-up
Apple don’t tend to just focus on one thing at their presentations, and took the opportunity to unveil a ton of new Macs that have some interesting points for education.
We’ve always recommended iMacs as the perfect desktop computer for the classroom – you get everything you need in one machine the size of a display, with no need for a tower. For the new version, Apple have slimmed the screen down to an incredible 5mm at its edges, and have got rid of the optical disc drive for this model (you can buy an additional SuperDrive to load DVDs, or wirelessly connect to another machine’s drive though).
For subjects where you need to see fine detail – video editing and production, and other graphics work – the new 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display is ideal. With 2560×1600 resolution, they have four times the number of pixels as the previous generation of MacBook Pros, and are powerful enough to run demanding editing software too. Apple’s smallest Mac also had an update – the Mac mini can now fit up to 16GB RAM and is still only 20cm x 20cm, which makes it perfect for the classroom or your desk.
For more information on the whole Apple iPad mini and new Mac range, get in touch with the team on 03332 409 333 or email learning@Jigsaw24.com. You can also keep up with all our classroom technology news and reviews by following @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’-ing our Jigsaw24 Education Facebook page.
Sony NXCAM camcorders are ideal for teaching techniques used in filmmaking and documentary, so it’s great to see Sony launching an education discount across the full range. The scheme means we’re now able to offer a 10% rebate on all NXCAM camcorders – including Jigsaw24 favourites the HXR-NX70E and NEX-FS700E.
Also available with a new discounted price are the NEX-FS100, HXR-NX30 and HXR-NX5. The camcorders’ names don’t exactly leap off the page, but NXCAM as a recording format really is an exciting prospect for schools.
What is NXCAM?
NXCAM is a compression format for tapeless camcorders that compresses footage far more efficiently and gives a more professional picture quality. It’s supported by video editing software including Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, and lets you store footage on affordable Memory Stick Duo, SDHC card or – if you don’t mind forking out a bit extra – a slot-in flash memory unit. You can record to a card and the drive at the same time, giving students an instant backup copy of their work. An 11-hour recording time has made NXCAM a big hit with corporate and event videographers, but we think the fact that it offers both fully automated and fully manual control makes it perfect for educational settings (especially when students often forget to put the battery back on the charger!)
The Sony NXCAM range
Keen to provide solutions for those schools just getting into video production, right up to colleges offering more industry-applicable broadcast courses, Sony have discounted their full range of NXCAM camcorders. The NX line are entry-level cameras that are ideal for schools – easy to use, and ranging from the dinky, handheld NX30 and NX70 (this is also completely dust and rain proof!) to the shouldermount NX5. If you’re looking for something a bit more professional, it’s well worth looking at the great image quality and performance of the FS100 and FS700. These are the kind of cameras the pros take out to shoot adverts and promos, and will really impress prospective students and/or employers.
– Go to our website for 10% education rebate on our full range of Sony NXCAM camcorders.
To find out more about Sony’s Education Partner Programme, give us a call on 03332 409 333, email learning@Jigsaw24.com or visit our site for the full Sony NXCAM range. For all the latest news, follow@Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter.
As an Apple Regional Training Centre, Leamore Primary School in Walsall are always trying new ways to get the most from their technology. Recently, they decided on a project to create a band using their iPad deployment that would involve the whole of Year 5 and get them really engaged with digital music alongside traditional instruments. Here, deputy head teacher Michelle Hill explains what they were aiming to do, and how they went about it…
Why did you originally decide to start the iPad Band project?
The children of Leamore Primary School are well known for their musical ability. We were keen to utilise the children’s musical knowledge and ability, whilst also incorporating our innovative approach to technology.
What were your goals?
Our goal was simple. We wanted the whole of our Year 5 class (who had at that point been learning the violin the longest) to participate in an iPad band using a mixture of iPad, digital instruments and a small selection of traditional percussion instruments. Our learning outcome was that all children would be able to musically contribute to a soundtrack.
How long did it take to plan and rehearse?
We knew we were going to be working with a fantastic bunch of children, so we allocated two full days to learn and rehearse a soundtrack. The children exceeded our expectations and within these two days they were able to learn three complete soundtracks as a class and rehearse them to perfection.
What hardware and apps did you use?
As well as 30 new iPad devices, we invested in an Allen and Heath ZED16FX 36 Channel USB Mixer, five Alesis IO docks and iRig adaptors for connecting the microphones, guitars and MIDI keyboards. We also used Apple TV to demonstrate how to play various notes on specific instruments in GarageBand on iPad. Apple TV was brilliant for individual and small groups of children to play back their specific parts of the soundtrack and contributed to tighter quality assurance of the band overall.
How did pupils find making music with iPad?
In terms of engagement and enjoyment, the iPad Band project will be something that the children remember for the rest of their lives! The project made an impact on a number of levels, from Daniel – who found a natural talent for drumming – to other children who realised that they could play other instruments besides the violin. Our original learning outcomes were smashed. The iPad is more about the music itself – the playing and the composing rather than the ability to play the instrument correctly. It’s a different way of looking at and approaching music. So children can use the iPad to play complicated soundtracks without needing to invest time in the technique of plucking strings, for example!
Do you have any tips for other teachers?
Just go for it! We spent a lot of time talking the project through and invested in a substantial amount of kit, but it is possible to set up a basic iPad band without these aspects. Apple TV is fantastic for teaching and demonstrating music-making on the iPad, but it is also brilliant to use during a live performance.
What else are you planning to use iPad for in future?
The investment that we made into iPad music technology has meant that our original Year 5 iPad Band and all subsequent iPad Bands will have the opportunity to go ‘on tour’, so any live performances will not just be a one-off wonder. We’re also planning to work collaboratively with the Royal College of Music to offer the equivalent of a GCSE in iPad music-making from September. We have lots of other projects in the pipeline: from experimenting with one-to-one iPad in a classroom to investigating the possibility of paperless learning, the use of iPad with SEN children, and specific projects in all areas of the curriculum.
Leamore Primary School, Walsall, is an official Apple Regional Training Centre which focuses on teaching with creative ICT (they won an NAACE Impact Award for it recently). They regularly run iPad training events for teachers, and you can see more of their projects in action at www.YouTube.com/LeamorePrimarySchool. To find out more about how to become an Apple Regional Training Centre yourself, get in touch with us on the details at the bottom.
Have a go yourself! Our six step guide to starting your own iPad band
Fancy taking a leaf out of Michelle’s book? Starting an iPad band is easy, and a great way to engage learners and get them working together with music technology, even for those with no previous skills. Here’s how:
1. Get started
First of all, you need your iPad devices. The iPad band is a collaborative project, and you can scale it up to include a whole class of students (we’ve worked with class sizes of 25-30 before with great results). You’ll also need a mixer to control the audio output of all the devices with enough channels to support them – 32 is enough.
2. Fire up GarageBand
Apple’s GarageBand app (£2.99 from the App Store) really is the best app for music-making at this level, with a huge base of ready-made loops and virtual instruments including keyboards, guitars and drums.
3. Get pupils in time
Start students off by making sure pupils are in rhythm, especially those with lower musical ability. The Smart Guitar instrument in GarageBand lets the learner simply tap the chord symbol to strum a chord in time, like striking a triangle, but far more engaging.
4. Develop musical skills further
The great thing about GarageBand is that it allows each learner to learn at their own pace and develop their skills. Once pupils are comfortable with timing, you can start to look at chord sequences, structure and song writing, then develop roles for learners based on ability, and incorporate ideas from students too.
5. Add some real instruments
For anyone who’s had peripatetic music lessons, you could think about adding some physical instruments. Using adaptors like the Alesis IO dock, and iRig and iMic, you can connect guitars and microphones directly through the iPad’s headphone jack, and an additional Camera Connector kit lets you hook up a MIDI keyboard via USB.
6. Plan the pay-off
To complete the project, and see how well pupils have achieved the original learning outcomes, plan a one-off performance. This will also help the project create a bit of buzz around the school, governors and parents. You can even get more of the school involved by adding some backing singers, dance sections and percussion like djembes and glockenspiels to supplement the digital instruments.
It’s one of those design nightmares – a client comes to you with a PDF and wants it amending, but you don’t have any of the original source files! Short of manually converting the PDF one page at a time or recreating the entire document (all the while mentally editing an image of your client’s head into a vicious animal attack), what can you do?
Markzware, creator of tons of plug-ins for Quark, think they have the answer with PDF2DTP. This new plug-in, or ‘XTension’, lets you easily import an entire multipage PDF into QuarkXPress 9, converting the whole thing into an editable Quark file. Then you can simply make your edits with familiar tools and export it back out to hand to your client as a new PDF.
Have a look at the PDF2DTP XTension for QuarkXPress 9 in action and get the full word from Markzware in the video at the bottom. It’s already getting rave reviews from designers for its conversion speed and accuracy – Paul Ramos, a publishing professional at Difusao Cultural enthused, “PDF2DTP is fantastic! I tried it on a PDF for a book that had 524 pages, and it took less than five minutes to make the total conversion. It even isolated the images in separate files.”
Our resident Quark expert Priya Saggar reckons PDF2DTP will be a very welcome addition to designers’ toolbelts. “This is going to take a lot of tedious work out of converting PDFs to make minor edits, or quickly recovering a document when all you’ve got left is the PDF,” she said. “It does usually retail for £179 but, for a limited time, you can get it free with every QuarkXPress 9 purchase or upgrade. PDF2DTP comes as an electronic download for either Mac or Windows – all you need to do is register your Quark and fill in the online redemption form.”
Our design team spend most of their waking hours toiling over Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Dreamweaver, so we thought it would be a good idea for us to check in with some of Adobe Creative Week 2012’s online seminars and see what other creatives were up to.
With the UK economy still idling in recession, big themes up for discussion were how creativity could help push growth, the decline of print, constrained budgets and changing skill sets. Adobe also showcased their new Touch apps for Apple’s iPad, Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6. Here’s Liana, Ed and Paul’s thoughts on the week’s hotly contested debates…
The overarching question to kick off Creative Week was ‘Can creativity help drive the UK out of recession?’, and the results showed the viewers had a pretty sunny outlook, 88% of them voting ‘Yes’. One of the themes touched on was creativity in education, and whether we were failing the younger generation by not giving art and creative subjects enough credibility.
Designer Liana Jackson wasn’t so sure it was such a big hindrance: “While gaining basic skills in maths and science is necessary, I’ve never felt like I wasn’t able to pursue a career in design because art wasn’t ‘credible’. I suppose it can be seen more as a hobby than an actual job, and I think more people are trying to get into creative roles now, and earning money doing jobs for people because they ‘kind of know’ what they’re doing. This can lead to a lot of pants design out there and a lot of qualified designers out of a job.”
With the rising use of mobile devices in the classroom (Adobe showed an interesting case study from Ravensbourne College), students are getting far more collaborative and diverse design skills. Whether this new crop of creativity can provide the stimulus the UK needs for economic growth remains to be seen.
Throughout Creative Week, Adobe evangelists were showcasing their latest products with in-depth video tutorials, which are all handily uploaded to the Adobe Creative Week site to watch back at your leisure. Of particular interest to our iPad expert Ed Reisner were the new Adobe Touch apps and Creative Cloud, as presented by Rufus Deuchler (Senior Worldwide Design Evangelist at Adobe Systems – @rufusd on Twitter).
“While Apple have been pushing their cloud services for a while, it’s great that you can now ‘work in the cloud’ with Adobe,” he said. “Creative Cloud also lets you download and manage desktop apps like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign or the Touch tablet apps such as Kuler and Proto, a bit like Apple’s App Store. Interestingly, you can also download an app for a specific time period. This would be useful if you’ve taken on a contractor for a month or two, and only need a Photoshop licence for that time.”
Ed also thought Adobe’s six Touch apps – Photoshop, Kuler, Proto, Collage, Ideas and Debut – would be really useful for designers on the move: “Each of the Touch apps is designed specifically for multitouch use, and as they integrate with Creative Cloud, will let you work on initial concepts and save them while you’re out of the office.
“Photoshop Touch gives you control of some basic Photoshop commands, but also lets you add comments so you can collaboratively review ideas with colleagues and clients. The Ideas app is great for sketching out concepts, letting you draw intuitively with touch gestures as vector paths, ready to scale up in Illustrator when you’re back at your desktop computer. Of all Adobe’s Touch apps, the most interesting is probably Proto, which integrates with Dreamweaver to let you create basic websites on the fly. You can be with a client and sketch out ideas on your iPad as you’re talking, using multitouch gestures to put in headers, tabs and more.”
The decline of print media is no big news, so it was heartening to see that 69% of people surveyed on Day 2 thought that print could survive the digital revolution. Jeremy Leslie from the magCulture blog said that having both print and digital “gives us the option to pick and choose the right solution for the project in hand”, while Future Publishing’s digital Editor-in-Chief Mike Goldsmith enthused that “digital technology gives you permission to fail”, as it’s so much easier to rectify mistakes and make amends.
“Digital media can reach people far quicker than print, and with platforms like Twitter, it’s changed how we read and consume content,” said Liana. “But they reminded viewers that the challenge is still engaging that person to want to follow a link and read on.
“Design, like fashion, is also cyclical, and Adobe brought up the good example of InDesign’s first introduction, and people moving over from Quark. Everyone learned to use new tools like drop shadow, but then it became so ubiquitous that it fell out of favour, only to come back when it started being seen as different and original again,” she added.
Tutorials for Day 2 focused on Adobe’s big three apps for design and publishing – Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator – as well as newcomer Muse, which lets you do WYSIWYG web design without lines and lines of code. Check out the videos on the Adobe Creative Week site.
We’ve been using Creative Suite 6 for a while now, and our videographer Tom has also put together his own handy tutorials for Photoshop’s Content-Aware and text extrusion tools, and Image Trace in Illustrator, which you can see over at our YouTube channel.
‘Do smaller budgets make for more original ideas?’ Last year, the BBC spent 13% less on TV, and ITV spent 21% less (2011 compared to 2010), yet revenue went up for both. Pressure and expectation from above to do more with fewer resources and less technology can force creatives to think differently, seemed to be the reasoning.
One new avenue which has helped is social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter which, former BBC social media expert Marc Goodchild reckons, “brings producers closer to their audience”.
Liana agreed that social media is now a key part of creativity: “As Marc said, YouTube allows you to test your work and fine tune it before the final cut, decreasing risk and making it as good as it can be. It’s also great for talent scouts and HR managers looking to hire people. Pilots used to be secretive and for a specialised audience, but now they’re expected to be seen by lots of people, thus giving more constructive feedback.
“The panellists also discussed how Twitter is now a valid source of openly eavesdropping – people aren’t afraid to give their opinion because they aren’t talking to your face. There are also enough people to get a rounded, calculated result, from a different range of expertise and backgrounds.”
Cross-disciplinary skills are all well and good, but the fourth day of Creative Week asked – ‘Should you be a Jack of all trades instead of a master of one?’. A very talented 64% said designers should be skilled in newer processes like app design in addition to traditional skills.
With the ways people consume media changing, and clients wanting to be at the forefront of that change, keeping up to date with technology has never been so important. Just as a coder needs a basic grasp of design, designers should have an understanding of coding, they said.
Adobe demoed a great new resource – The Expressive Web – showcasing CSS3, HTML5 and content aware pages. As Ed mentioned above, there’s also the new Touch app Proto. Proto lets you create a website wireframe directly on your tablet device, preview in on the tablet and then export it out to the Creative Cloud where you can then start fleshing the website out in Dreamweaver.
The last day’s topic was bound to cause a bit of controversy – ‘Is digital imaging all tech and no talent?’. Any designer worth their salt knows that software is a brilliant addition to photography, but it can’t make a great photo on its own, and an overwhelming 70% agreed that ‘No’, you need talent too.
It was said that Photoshop gives you the opportunity to experiment using techniques and ideas without massive costs – for example award-winning photographer Timothy Allen (BBC’s Human Planet) argued that it was much more cost-effective to use the Tilt-shift feature in Photoshop than it was to buy new lenses to shoot with to achieve the same effect.
Senior designer Paul Shillabeer thought the rise of ‘iPhoneography’ and photo-sharing sites was having a very real effect on the industry. “More amateurs and professionals are using apps and iPhones to create imagery,” he said. “This movement is getting bigger and is very accessible to all levels of photographer from pros to casual snappers. Erin Moroney [of the UK Young Photographers’ Alliance] also noted that photo stock libraries are finding it hard to compete and cannot command the high price tags they used to because people are sourcing images from so many other sources – a very similar image to what a client’s looking for could easily be found on Flickr.”
– A good taster of the current state of the design and media industries, Adobe’s Creative Week 2012 managed to wrap up all the big questions about the changing face of digital creativity. If you missed any of the debates and tutorials, you can catch up on demand here.
You can find out more about Adobe Creative Suite 6 and our full range of design tools at our site, or by calling our team on 03332 409 306 or emailing CAD@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.
Rob Holsman of talks us through the features of Tascam’s DM3200 digital console and explains why this is a relevant choice for someone looking for a DAW controller and high quality audio interface.
Audio interfaces come in all shapes, sizes and numbers of inputs. To see what difference size makes, we’ve pitted the small but mighty RME Babyface against the heavyweight RME Fireface UFX. Our audio consultants have each taken a corner to argue why their choice should be champion.
Backing the RME Babyface interface is Alex Judd, who reckons the ultra compact, bus-powered interface packs more of a punch than you’d imagine. “Marketed as the entry level RME interface, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not a serious production tool,” he said. “The Babyface boasts the same amazing sound and ultra low latency as the Fireface series, and comes with a breakout cable for connecting two mic preamps, an instrument input, two headphone outputs, stereo line out and eight‑channel ADAT I/O.”
Alex also points to the Babyface’s fantastic routing, mixing and signal processing software, Totalmix FX, which allows you to perform complete routing and mixing, as well as adding effects (DSP-based EQ, and host based delay and reverb). But it’s the portability factor that’s the real winner for him. He said:
“It will fit into the most crowded of studios, and easily tuck into your laptop bag (or man bag). Just hook the RME Babyface up to an eight‑channel preamp via ADAT and you have the ability to record multitrack sources when and where you need to. It’s ideal for musicians and producers who are after a simple stereo source for mixing, but who also need something to take on tour or out on location. It’s a very clever way of RME sucking you in,” Alex added.
RME Fireface UFX
Rob Holsman has been using the larger RME Fireface UFX for recording guitars and drums for his band for a while, with one of his standout features being direct USB recording. To see how to set up this function in action, check out Rob’s video below.
“There are clear uses for this technology,” Rob said, “from having a safety recording running in the event of a DAW crash to being able to record live gigs where using a computer might be ill-advised […] Sometimes there are just situations where a standalone recorder is what you want to use, and that’s exactly what this firmware update turns the UFX into – a standalone hard disk recorder.
“The decision to record a single multichannel audio file is a good one too, as it makes it much easier to write high data volumes to slower devices (such as memory sticks) than trying to simultaneously write multiple files. It also ensures that all files remain synchronous when importing into an editing program like Pro Tools or Cubase, which both handle multichannel files natively, automatically showing each channel as a separate region.”
Rob went on to deliver his verdict on the interface. “The RME Fireface UFX was already one of the best professional audio interfaces available based on stability features and sheer audio performance, but [this update makes it] stand out from the competition, pushing the UFX into an exciting class of its own and making it a simple choice for people looking to record critical, non-repeatable performances.”
We’ve used a very complex system of calculations to tot up the points, and it turns out it’s a draw. Which audio interface you go for really depends on how it’s going to fit into your recording and production. As Rob said, the Fireface UFX has top quality sound and a handy direct USB recording feature, but if you’re recording on the move, you really can do no worse than the incredibly portable and affordable RME Babyface interface.
We’re an RMExpert Dealer, which means we can offer expert advice, demonstrations and even loan a wide range of units for customers to try in their own setup. Get in touch for more info.
To find out more about the RME Babyface, call us on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. You can also keep up with the latest audio news and offers on our Twitter (@Jigsaw24Audio) and Facebook page.
To get your hands on an RME Babyface with a free Audio Technica AT2020 microphone (worth £89), visit Jigsaw24.com now!