Category Archives: Entertainment

Quick Look: iFontMaker for iPad

I forget how I heard about iFontMaker, but now that I have an iPad Pro and Pencil, this seemed like a great opportunity to try something completely different. I really don’t know much about fonts or typography, but I am intrigued by all of the different factors that come into play with modern typefaces and fonts. As a quick primer: typefaces describe a family tree of fonts (like Avenir) and fonts are specific blocks and weights of text within that tree (like Avenir Light).

I have only spent a few hours with iFontMaker but its interface is so straightforward that it was very easy to pick up. Once I’ve chosen to create new font, I can see the entire alphabet at the top of the screen. The bottom half is dedicated solely to the creation of the typeface, with markers for x-height, ascenders, and descenders. These guidelines help to make sure your letters and glyphs are all about the same size.

Another guide that iFontMaker provides by default is the outline of that particular letter or glyph as it pertains to a specific font (which I can change in settings). This was extremely helpful in providing a baseline for me to see how high my letters should actually go, or how much space in the margin I really had to play with.

Actually drawing the different letters in my custom font was a lot like using a vector app like Graphic. I used a calligraphy type of stroke to generate the capitalized letters, and it was a pretty smooth process. However, I did find that certain strokes — especially curved ones — could often be interpreted as separated, overlapping strokes.

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Quick Look: Infuse Pro for iPad

Infuse Pro 3

VLC used to be my go-to app for watching videos on the iPad, but it was overtaken this past year by Infuse Pro. One of VLC’s updates removed the ability to play audio from certain codecs, and so VLC lost its magical ability to basically play anything you throw at it.

However, I’m rather glad I was forced to look for an alternative player, because I like Infuse Pro a lot more. I don’t use the free version, though, and I paid the full $9.99 IAP to unlock all of the codecs within the app. I liked using VLC for zero dollars and zero cents, but I was also disappointed in how hamstrung it seemed on iOS as a result of being open source. It seems like every few years something is cut from VLC, or it disappears from the App Store altogether. I want a player that will just stick around and work, so I’m happy to pay for one.

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Review: Charlie Brown’s All-Stars iPad Storybook App

Charlie Browns All-Stars iPad app

Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown? Here’s some good news for anyone who didn’t answer ‘me’ to that question. Charlie Brown’s All-Stars is a brand new iPad storybook app that celebrates friendship, team spirit, and the ultimate underdog when it comes to baseball teams and players.

This app is published by Loud Crow, makers of the wonderful ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ iPad storybook app – a long-time favorite of mine and a selection in our list of the Best iPad Apps of 2012. It’s a nice addition to their growing series of Peanuts storybooks apps for the iPad.

Like most good iPad storybook apps, you can choose to read the book yourself or have it read to you. In this case, it’s not just any old narrator though – it is read by Stephen Shea, the voice of Linus in the classic TV airings of Peanuts. It also includes voices and music from the original animated TV special that aired in 1968.

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Review: The Sonnets by William Shakespeare for iPad

The Sonnets by William Shakespeare iPad app

The Sonnets by William Shakespeare is a superb new app that brings Shakespeare’s sonnets to the iPad and presents them in a way that draws you in and helps you to gain a rich understanding of them.

Here’s a portion of the App Store entry for the app:

The Sonnets presents William Shakespeare’s immortal collection of love poems in an interactive digital edition that allows you to explore, appreciate and understand this great work of literature as never before. All 154 sonnets are performed to camera by a star-studded cast including Sir Patrick Stewart (Star Trek, X-Men, Royal Shakespeare Company), David Tennant (Dr Who, Hamlet), Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City), Fiona Shaw (The Waste Land, Harry Potter), Stephen Fry (The Hobbit) and Dominic West (The Wire). These performances – all specially filmed for the app – are synchronised to the text, which highlights line by line as each sonnet is spoken.

The performance videos, running over two and a half hours, are just the beginning. Also included are the complete Notes and Introduction from the Arden Shakespeare, offering unsurpassed scholarly commentary and insight. Touch a mysterious line or difficult word in any of the poems and the corresponding Arden Note highlights to provide comprehensive explanation. An alternative commentary on every sonnet comes from poet and musician Don Paterson, whose humorous and accessible style complements the academic rigour of the Arden Notes.

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Bazinga – TBS’ Big Bang Theory iPad App Is a Lot of Fun

Bazinga Join Live Event

TBS Presents: The Big Bang Theory app brings a slice of the popular and hilarious sitcom to the iPad. This is a bit of its App Store intro:

There’s a new way to watch Penny, Sheldon and Leonard. Now, you can play along on your mobile device while watching The Big Bang Theory on TBS.

Here’s how it works:
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10pm, open the app while watching The Big Bang Theory on TBS to get exclusive content and conversation presented in sync with the show.
Behind-the-scenes insights, polls, trivia and more will be at your fingertips, and all of it can be shared with your friends. Log in with your Facebook or Twitter accounts to join the live conversation with other fans during the episode.

If you’re using this app outside of the 10pm broadcasts of The Big Bang Theory on TBS, don’t worry, you can revisit previous episodes or set a reminder for the next live event.

NOTE: This app does not allow you to view full episodes on your mobile device. You’ll have to download the TBS for iPad or TBS for iPhone apps for that.

My wife and I are both huge fans of The Big Bang Theory and I’ve only just recently noticed that there are a number of iPad and iOS apps relating to the series. This one looked the most promising to me and I gave it a try last night.

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Review: Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days for iPad

Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days for iPad

Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days for iPad is a wonderful, typically Python, journey back to the filming of Monty Python & the Holy Grail. The app was developed with the Pythons themselves and the short story here is that if you’re a Monty Python fan you’re going to enjoy the heck out of it.

Just to give you a quick idea of the Pythonesque feel of the app, here’s a bit I love from its App Store page:

Early buzz for The Holy Book of Days:
“WOW!” — Eric Idle
“WHAT’S AN IPAD?” — Graham Chapman

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Review: A Charlie Brown Christmas for iPad

A Charlie Brown Christmas for iPad

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a new app that turns the beloved animated classic into an interactive storybook for the iPad (and iOS). It was released on the App Store last week, picked as the App Store App of the Week, and looks sure to be a holiday hit.

I installed the app on the day it came out and have been able to spend some time with it, and get to know it along with my 8 year old daughter. The short story is this is a great holiday app, especially for those who are already fans of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang (and who isn’t really?)

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Jiv3D – The iPad App Your Photos Are Waiting For


Jiv3D is one of those rare iPad apps that I love within less than a minute of use – and the feeling persists as I get to know it better.

It’s a unique app that’s a little like a digital photo frame on steroids, or more like on happy pills. A brilliant way to enjoy all the photos you’ve got on your iPad, have them shown off in a funky 3D slideshow, and with a great soundtrack pulled from your own library. Here’s its short but sweet App Store intro:

Jiv3D uses photos from your iPhoto library to display and move to the music in your iTunes music collection or favorite radio streams.
No configuration necessary, Jiv3D will automatically select photos from your iPhoto library and display them in 3D moving with all of the nuances of your iTunes music collection.

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Today’s Best iPad App EVER: Video Time Machine

Video Time Machine for iPad

Video Time Machine is my pick for today’s Best iPad App Ever. Hands down. This is one of those very rare apps that grabs you from the first moment that you open it, and just keeps you gripped and fascinated on every visit to it. It’s the equivalent of a great book you can’t put down, you just keep wanting more.

As the app title states, it’s a video time machine, from the guys who created the YouTube Time Machine (YTTM) website. It contains over 10,000 hand-picked videos – from 1860 right up to 2011. So if you want to see a John Kennedy campaign ad from 1960, it’s easy to find. Or you want to watch Michael Jordan drop 63 points on the Celtics in the 1986 NBA Playoffs, oh yeah, that’s just as easy.

I love the backstory for how the website came to be, with a couple of friends out for beer and pizza and a fantastic idea fleshed out on a napkin. Here’s just a piece of the About page for the app on this:

Following many a beer (and PIZZA!) I was regaling him with the tale of my previous night, in which I had been up very late watching Michael Jordan videos from 1996. It made me feel so awesome deep down inside … like it was Sunday afternoon, and I was 14, sipping on a milkshake and watching my fav team play. That Jordan-fest lurched into a 4 am search for Primal Rage videos, and countless other mid-90s stuff.

I realized then, that it wasn’t specifically Jordan or Primal Rage videos I was searching for … it was 1996 … the feeling of being in 1996 … As I was lost, in the mists of time, Del broke me out of my ponderous silence and said ‘DUDE! THAT SHOULD BE A WEBSITE!!’ I said ‘YES!’ he said ‘YES!’ – and then we probably high 5’ed. …

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Quick Look: Wild Earth – African Safari Live Video App for iPad

Wild Earth for iPad

Wild Earth is a new iPad app that offers up live video from wildlife cameras in several good locations in South Africa. If you like seeing wild animals in natural habitats rather than in typical zoos, or have kids who are fascinated by animals, this app may have some appeal.

I have an 8 year old daughter who is near-obsessed with animals; she can’t read, talk, or learn enough about them. From kittens and puppies to insects, to snakes, to sea creatures, she’s always interested. I’m not far behind her in interest level, so this is another app we took a look at together this week.

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Killer iPad Apps: Squrl – All the Best Videos from All the Best Sources, with AirPlay Support

Squrl for iOS

Quick Spoiler Alert: I love the Squrl app for iPad and iOS. It’s the best new (ish) iPad app I’ve seen this year – and easily the best app for using in tandem with AirPlay and Apple TV.

Squrl is all about videos. Discovering good video content from a wide range of all the best sources, organizing it, sharing it, and seeing what others are sharing. Here’s a little more intro type information from its App Store page:

Squrl is a clever way to collect and organize video from many different providers, in one easy to use app.
Ask yourself:
• Have you ever wanted to collect video from many different websites in one place?
• Are you tired of hunting through a half dozen or more iPad apps to view your videos?
You’ll always know where to find your videos, no matter where they are on the web, with Squrl. You can even discover new content through your network of friends!
Access all your favorite videos, movies, and subscriptions to your favorite shows with Squrl. Organizing is simple and you’re alerted when new videos are available to watch.

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