We are all becoming increasingly reliant upon the world of Apps – be it in the Microsoft, Apple or Google eco systems. We run our lives in the cloud on mobile devices and with total reliance upon various software, apps or similar.
I am an unashamed Apple fan, our household is now totally Apple based and my working life is only partially blighted by the world of Microsoft! The recent update by Apple to OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) and its link to iOS 8 is brilliant so I am a ‘happy chappy’ at the moment.
However, what has become very clear to me in recent months is just how reliant we can become on certain apps on our phones or tablets, and what a pain it is when one (or more) stops working! Let me explain;
I have for years run financial software on my phone and home computer, initially on Windows mobile and then since the dawn of the iPhone on that. I had to make a move when I swapped to an iPhone and had been very happy with a program called ‘pocket money’, it had a sister app called ‘mpg’ which allowed me to record my mileage and fuel economy and link fuel purchases directly back into pocket money. Sadly the developer of both apps died around 12 months ago, there was supposed to be a person taking on the development but this has not happened and now the apps are no longer bug free (or even available in the App Store).
So I have had to find alternatives – which you would think would be easy, but I can assure you it isn’t! Despite there being a huge number of financial apps available most are frankly poor, the same with mileage and fuel logging apps.
Luckily I have found two good ones; Account Tracker for my banking, and Road Trip for my mileage, but the upheaval of transferring data and setting it back up has been quite disruptive – not something I want to repeat in a hurry! We are about to have a move to the cloud at work, hopefully I am now well prepared for that as well!
Now I am of an age whereby computing is still a bit of a novelty, mainly because we didn’t have them when I was a kid at school. I discovered computers at college so consider myself a latecomer to that world. Perhaps it is because of this that I love playing with them and learning how to solve issues with hardware and software – my wife uses the word ‘geek’, possibly a bit harsh but probably true.
Somewhere at my family home in Malmesbury there is a Sinclair ZX81 hidden away. I have to be honest and say that I was not a childhood computer programmer with it – I purchased it off a mate a few years after they were popular because I fancied playing with it. It was interesting but generally useless!
However, I gather it was machines such as this that made the UK world leaders in programming (especially for gaming). More importantly we have been lacking ‘a ground floor entry’ machine for kids to learn how to code on – until now.
The Raspberry Pi has just been released, it is a credit-card sized computer designed as a bare-bones, low-cost computer, ideal for kids and educational establishments to develop. Sold un-cased without keyboard or monitor, the Pi has been six years in the making, but has created an amazing amount of interest.
Supporters hope the machines produced by the Raspberry Pi Foundation could help reverse a lack of programming skills in the UK. The device’s launch comes as the Department for Education considers changes to the teaching of computing in schools, with the aim of placing greater emphasis on skills like programming.
Initially the £22 model of the Pi will be offered for sale. A cheaper £16 version will go on sale later in the year. The machine runs on open-source operating system Linux, and can be hooked up to a typical computer monitor – with additional ports used to attach a keyboard, mouse and other peripherals. It also features an ethernet port, meaning the device can make use of high-speed internet connectivity.
I have to be honest – I have an urge to get one to play with…