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James Cull

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In what could be described as an extremely fitting venue for an education announcement, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Apple announced today a range of tools designed to help people in education with their studies, namely an updated version of iBooks, iBooks 2, which is designed to integrate more closely with textbooks, iBooks Author, allowing users to create their own textbooks for the iPad and a new iTunes U app for the iPhone and iPad, allowing professors to communicate more easily with their students in the classroom.

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Its products are ubiquitous around the world and each announcement from the company generates huge press attention, frantic tweeting and unparalleled excitement. But up till now, hardly anything is known about what actually goes on inside Apple’s core and how the company functions. The company is known for being one of the most secretive on the planet and even employes an internal security service – or Worldwide Loyalty Team (dubbed the Apple Gestapo by some employees) to investigate internal leaks.

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In a surprise turn of events, Apple has revealed its list of 156 suppliers along with its annual 2012 Supplier Responsibility report, an annual report compiled from internal audits of all of Apple’s suppliers. Alongside Foxconn, which manufacturers products such as the iPhone, iPad and Mac-range of computers under contract, the list also included well-known companies such as Samsung, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba (the full list can be viewed here). The suppliers listed account for around 97 percent of Apple’s external procurement measurements.

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On December 8 of last year, TweetDeck, one of the most popular multi-platform Twitter clients was relaunched as part of a redesign by Twitter. The new TweetDeck featured an interface similar to the old version, only with less features and less customization possibilities. The new version certainly hasn’t gone down well with users; as of early this month the app has only managed to snag a 2-star rating in the Mac App Store and judging by the reviews left, many users feel that this “upgrade” was really more of a “downgrade”.

Let’s take a look at the new version of TweetDeck to see whether it really lives up to all those mediocre reviews.

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Recently, I looked at Checkout, a straightforward, easy-to-use POS software for small businesses. However, Checkout can have its limitations and if you are a large retail business with several different stores operating, Checkout may not help you entirely. This is where Lightspeed comes in. It is aimed towards much larger businesses who are already well established in the retail sector.

I downloaded the trial (more information below) and had a look at it for myself. Here are my thoughts…

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Macs have, traditionally anyway, not really found a true home in the business world owing to their lack of support and the limited range of compatible programs available for them. But now, that’s all changing. More and more developers are either releasing dual-versions of their programs (compatible with Windows or Mac) or releasing Mac-only business programs, making Macs much more attractive for use in the workplace.

Checkout is a great example of this. It is a POS (Point-Of-Sale) software package designed exclusively for OS X and allows you to run your retail store quickly and more efficiently. The ease-of-use of the program along with its wealth of features make Checkout a very viable solution to anyone who runs a retail store, whether in the flesh or online. Let’s take a look!

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In one of my previous articles, I wrote about LyX, an easy way to produce documents in TeX without any prior knowledge of the typesetting language. However, for anyone with a knowledge of TeX, LyX can seem a little limited in its functionality and can, sometimes, be complicated to use. To really appreciate the power of TeX and what it can really do (especially if you do a lot of writing), it is worth taking some time out and learning the typesetting language (which is a lot simpler than it actually seems!).

There are quite a few TeX editors out there for the Mac however most of them are simply ports of native Windows or Linux editors and don’t really make use of OS X’s design and functionality. However, this has now changed. Independent developers Valleta Ventures have come up with TexPad, a native TeX editor for OS X with some handy features that make TeX editing a breeze. Let’s take a closer look.

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TeX is one of the lesser known ways of creating documents as it has mostly extremely specialized uses. The typesetting system was designed and written (mostly) by Donald Knuth during the late 1970′s and is a popular choice for typing documents for two main reasons. The first is that documents are standardized across all computers and the results do not change with time. Despite the fact TeX is an old system, the documents still look (relatively) up-to-date, albeit a little lacking in color and design.

The second reason why TeX is so popular, especially in the academic world, is the way it renders maths and mathematical formulas. The range of formulas that can be constructed using TeX is vast and far more flexible than the offerings of other programs (for example Word’s built-in equation editor). The only hindrance to typing up your documents in TeX is that there a very steep learning curve associated with it. TeX is more like a code, with commands and functions and it’s not as easy as simply loading up Word and tapping away.

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Despite the rise in popularity of TV on demand, Internet and Twitter, I still like listening to the radio. It offers such a wide variety of songs and different kinds of programs that, for example TV, doesn’t offer. Call me a dinosaur if you will, but I would much rather listen to the radio for a couple of hours than wind it away in front of some lifeless, cheap TV program.

Believe it or not, I don’t actually own a radio – I tune in via the Internet. I am currently based in Germany, and from time to time, I need a good, solid dose of British culture to remind me of my roots. I can get all my British radio stations (such as BBC Radio 1) via the Internet, without having to pay any kind of license fees (unlike television).

When you look at the figures, the popularity of Internet radio is on the rise. In 2007, 11% of the U.S. population listened to the radio via the Internet; in 2008 this figure had crept up to 13% (and is presumably still on the rise). It’s certainly cheaper than buying an actual radio, and you can listen to stations from different parts of the country.

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I am a very fussy person when it comes to my iTunes library. I like to have it completely organized and I can’t stand it when there are gaps in the song information or when cover art is missing – it’s one of my pet peeves. A tidy iTunes library leads to a clearer mind and, in my opinion, a far better listening experience.

There are a number of ways to tidy up an iTunes library on a mac. The first (and the most long-winded way) is to sit down with a beer and trawl through all your songs, filling in any missing information by using good old Wikipedia! This is not a problem if you’ve only got a few songs, but if you’re like most of us, you’ve got a large music library and you’ll want something a little more sophisticated to help you organize it. Read on to see if SongGenie is the answer you’re looking for.

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