Category Archives: tablet

PayPal Here, a card reader and app for taking payment on your iPhone or iPad finally comes to Australia, getting in before Square and Apple’s likely credit card system.

Some time back, I introduced a video from Square in my “IT for Psychologists” workshops which I offer in Australia. At the time, Square was just beyond being a startup.

Square offered a small hardware device which plugged into your iPhone headphone jack and communicated with its own app so you could accept credit card payments. The Square card reader “swiped” the card, and the money would soon enough be transferred to your nominated bank account.

The video still excites many of my colleagues even though it was made several years ago, and it’s yet to be made available in Australia. It’s been reported that Square has since enjoyed an investment from VISA after initial warnings of “security issues” from Verifone, a maker of card readers More recently, Square has expanded its wares to purposely include iPad-expanded abilities for point-of-sale businesses.

There has been talk of Square coming to Australia, where many psychologists use those old bank-leased card readers, which usually means you also need to have a landline, or a more expensive 3G model. Some like to use it because one bank has arrangements with Australia’s Medicare national medical health scheme, allowing payments to be made directly into the psychologist’s nominated account.

But for the many solo psychologists who work in multiple locations, these solutions are not particularly cost-effective, since one pays a monthly fee for the lease, as well as a percentage per transaction, a 30c fee, and other ancillary set-ups fees.

It’s essentially a monopoly situation, which I have rejected in my own practice.

For those who want to pay me by credit card, they receive ahead of their appointment, advice that credit card payments can be made via PayPal, with a surcharge of $5 to cover the fees I am charged (a little under 3%). This keeps the banks in their place.

The other electronic alternative (cash is certainly accepted; cheques are a dying monetary exchange system in Australia) is direct debit, where the patient can make an online payment from their bank account. Neither they nor I receive any costs for this transaction. For that reason, I have the apps of the most popular banks installed on my iPad, so patients can either pay at the end of the session using my iPad, or pay at home or their office. Many now use their own iPhone during the session to make their payment. Once they use my bank details, websites usually keep me as a preferred payee and those details don’t need to be entered a second time.

The case for an iPhone or iPad enabled payment system is a no-brainer. One wonders, what with the Samsung vs Apple trial currently under way, if Apple ever thought its iDevices would be used this way. After all, even in its own Apple Stores it formerly used Windows CE-based portable card scanning devices.

These were replaced, perhaps with a big sigh of relief, with iPod touch units and an EasyPay system, as its called. At left, is an Apple Store employee in Perth, Western Australia using one when I visited in June 2012.

The units incorporate both a card reader and a bar scan reader and after taking your money, a receipt will be emailed to your nominated address. If you’ve purchased before, your details will quickly come up from the server and speed up the process.

More so, you can now use an EasyPay app on your own iPhone to make your purchase without even sighting an Apple Store employee!

Apple’s modded iPod Touch showing the bard card reader in action, purchasing an AppleTV remote

Apple EasyPay app at work in the Apple Store

Returning momentarily to Square, some have mooted it might make an excellent acquisition for Apple, as reported in the New York Times recently, above.

What makes the NYT report incorrect is its report that the Square service is “a unique electronic payment service through iPhones and iPads”.

There are several competitors, not all of whom use a card reader. One is ICCPay, which I also mention in my IT workshops, below (Shame on the NYT for not doing its homework).

The app needs to be used with a gateway linked to banks, and for some people these extra steps may prove to be a hurdle.

With the next iPhone not very far away, others have suggested Apple has its own plans for an iPhone based payment system, using Near Field Communications (NFC). With iOS6 coming with a coupon and ticket app called Passbook, it may also be the case that Apple will later allow iPhones to act as credit card terminals, perhaps utilising technologies from its Apple Store EasyPay setup.

While all this is in the not-to-distant future, Australian and US iDevice owners have another system just coming onto the market from PayPal, called PayPal Here. Below, the US website announcing its availability.

The Australian PayPal site shows a “Notify me when it’s ready” sign but some time back when it was first mooted coming to Australia, I applied to go on PayPal’s waiting list. This was back in April. In recent weeks, I was notified things were on the move. Last week , apparently in preparation, my PayPal account was suspended, pending receipt of documents pertaining to security questions, including if I was at all politically connected to anyone in the public eye. Seriously. I had to fax or email documents containing my photo ID and birthdate, as well as documents showing my name and current address, such as a utility bill. I used my US Passport business VISA for the former.

This was accepted eventually, and I was in business, even though the small triangular card reader was yet to arrive. The free app was available to be used however. Doing this has drawbacks, though.

1. Entering card data manually, with a purchaser’s finger signature and three digit CVV, attracts a higher % commission (about 3%), and

2. It takes 21 days to clear into your PayPal account, plus a few more after that to go into your nominated bank account.

Fortunately, my card reader arrived by courier yesterday, after being notified by PayPal Australia to expect it in 3-5 business days. It actually came just a day or two after that email, with its courier tracking details.

Here’s what the container box looks like:

The box includes an adhesive label you can place at your business entrance

Here’s the physical unite – it measures in imperial terms, 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 2″ approx

Here are a number of shots I took with my iPhone showing the boxing of the unit. This might not quite match the unboxing of a new Mac, but still….

It’s nicely done, complete with the adhesive label to place on your front door, and PayPal’s local support number. I haven’t tried to reach support yet, but would think that anyone trying to compare various payment systems ought to incorporate a comparison of support parameters, such as time spent waiting, quality of answers, followup, etc.

Using the unit requires you to download the free PayPal Here app from the App store. It is set for the iPhone, but will happily expand to 2x appearance on the iPad without much pixelation.

There can be a problem with iPhones with cases which make full insertion of the card reader difficult which I have already discovered with certain cables.

The card reader, unlike the Square unit, contains a triangular cover which partially rotates and “grabs” the iPhone preventing the unit from swivelling. Again, with a thick iPhone case, this feature just gets in the way. I have  swivelled the unit, and held it for a successful card swipe, but clearly if one is to use it frequently, it might require the temporary removal of the case.

The app., by the way, allows you to practise swiping without incurring fees, and as a way to test the functionality of the card reader.

Let’s now go look at the app itself, which has a number of interesting features.

The first is the “Open for Business” screen, above,  which connects you to PayPal to show balances, as as well the means to input items and information about your business.

There are a variety of settings, above, where you can list your inventory and give each item a sale price, and keep a running total of items being purchased. It night be useful for a bar or restaurant,  for instance, collecting table orders.

Each item can have its own amount and description, above, quite useful for those working garage sales or fleamarket transactions.

The app also includes a handy calculator, above,  to keep a running total going…

The app also includes the option, above, of putting in your business information, including either your mapped place of business and/or your correspondence address, as in a post box.

There is also the opportunity to track sales figures, both past and pending, above.

Items sold may include not just physical goods, but services too which can be itemised. There is also for goods, an area to display a picture of the item next to its description and cost. The picture can be imported from the Photo app, as you can see, below.

The option to take a picture on the fly could turn out to be very useful in some circumstances. There also exists the option, like Apple’s EasyPay system, of emailing a receipt to the purchaser. Handy to develop a marketing list of email addresses…

There are some questions that remain however.

Will the card reader work with all cards, and what of worn cards? How well will it work with the next iPhone, if rumours of its headphone jack heading south to the bottom of the unit prove to be true? And what is its future should Apple release its own credit card system in the near future?

The beauty of the PayPal system is the small size and thus portability of the reader, the data safety via encryption offered standard by PayPal, the well thought out version 1 of its app, and the public’s general awareness of the PayPal brand.

It’s also relatively easy to use and navigate through the various app screens, and the costs are very good when compared to what’s already out there. While it’s currently limited to VISA and Mastercard credit and debit cards, the lack of AMEX and Discover might be a concern for some. Mind you, I can’t recall the last time a patient tried to pay for a session with AMEX.

I’ll  update this blog entry once I start to make some “sales” with the unit, and report back on its actual usefulness.

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Aside

I took a recent opportunity to drop into my nearest Apple store at Chadstone, a major shopping centre in southeastern Melbourne. It was the first Apple store to open in Melbourne and even at 11am midweek it was buzzing with … Continue reading

As expected, iWork was beefed up for the new iPad, bringing Keynote closer to parity with its desktop older sibling. But don’t fret, Keynote users: I think we saw some hints of new features of the next Keynote for the Mac.

So the new iPad has been released (I ordered two of the top models), along with an updated AppleTV to take advantage of its retina display.

I will not at all be surprised when the tech pundits today boohoo the new iPad, from its failure to cure cancer through to its ungainly name, which I predicted would be the case in a previous blog entry, just because Apple can. And indeed likely enjoys playing the punditry for fools, while it laughs all the way to the bank.

Before I get to the main points of this blog entry, a couple of non-appearances are worth noting.

1. Where was Scott Forstall? I can’t recall an Apple keynote where the iPad and iOS were featured and he was not given a place on stage. Given he reports direct to Tim Cook, was this Tim’s way of further asserting his new CEO status? Or hopefully, a much more simple explanation.

2. Where was the much anticipated Microsoft Office for iPad which had the tech punditry all atwitter in recent weeks, once today’s keynote invitations had been sent out?

Instead, what we did see but not demonstrated were beefed up iWork apps, which like iPhoto for the iPad allowed Phil Schiller to drive home the message that “don’t let anyone tell you you can’t create on an iPad”. (You can see him refer to this at 1h:15m:20s, after you download the keynote podcast from the iTunes store ).

Indeed, Schiller emphasised the parity that now exists between iPad and Mac OS X devices like the iMac and Macbook since the Apple creative applications – iLife and iWork – now exist on both platforms with an extremely similar feature set.

I downloaded the Keynote update, now in V1.6, with the most important and obvious additions being  the near match between builds and transitions. It’s not quite 100%, and of course the iPad font set is still limited, so error messages may crop up after importing  desktop Keynote file with esoteric fonts.

In a previous blog post I had predicted that an updated desktop Keynote would not be released into the wild until there was much greater feature parity between the two versions, and this would require an improved iPad with respect to CPU and graphics. The hint Apple gave us that this was on the cards can be seen with the placement of the Keynote app icon in the tray for the keynote invitation illustration. I don’t know anyone who leaves Keynote there, myself included.

Which leaves desktop Keynote users to ask: : “Whither Keynote? You’ve not been updated for more than three years, so what gives?”

Clearly, much of the iWork team’s efforts have been directed to the iPad versions plus iBooksAuthor which also received an update today (V1.1) to account for the new iPad’s retina display.

There are clues however, and in today’s keynote I believe we saw hints that a new version – or at least some feature additions to the current version – are present.

Let’s go to the video replay…

In recent keynotes, Apple has been overenthusiastic about its use of the Anvil build, something which was last added to Keynote in a point update, as well as some new text builds. It’s been used when keynote speakers wanted to drop a bomb on us, so as to demonstrate “incredible” numbers of apps sold, or stores opened, or some other fact where expectations were crushed.

In the March 7 keynote, we didn’t see it at all. Perhaps it was a favourite of Steve Jobs, and here is Tim Cook asserting his status once more. If there was one build we saw quite often in today’s keynote, it was a variation of the “move” build, but this time two elements came in almost simultaneously, while pushing other elements no longer up for discussion, out.

If you have the podcast, go to 20m:14s, and here are some screenshots of what I noticed:

Here Tim is discussing how iPad users rate the device for various activities, such as reading books. He’s now going to discuss it as a favourite for playing games, so in the next click of his remote, the iPad image and text slide to the left, but not quite synchronously:


And now the new image and text slides in from the right, the text in the lead before the previous image has left the building:

And the rest now slides into place, the text once more leading the way:

And now the image aligns centred above the text:

Now, each of these could be performed with “move” builds – in and out – but some of these slides would require four of these, two each for text in and out, and two each of image in and out.

Because this effect was used several times in the keynote, I’m going to assert that it represents a new transition, similar to Magic Move, where you create each slide with its picture and text, and the transition does the work for you, such that you can control the delay and speed. Who wants to guess what Apple calls this new transition?

I suspect, however, this is was not the only transition. For some time now, I’ve been watching my AppleTV when it goes into screensaver mode. As with iPhoto, there are several very interesting ways that new photos can be brought in, including Origami. If you have an AppleTV, check in Settings for your screensaver options:

(Brian Burgess, at Groovypost.com has a nice set of screenshots and elaboration upon AppleTV screen saver options here).

When I noticed these in action, it caused me to wonder how nice they would be as additions to the Keynote transition set, especially as more people are using full size pictures, as well as multiple illustrations in Keynote.

I think I saw one new addition in the March 7 keynote, at 18m:22s:

It starts at the time Tim Cook has said Apple sold more iPads in the last quarter of 2011 than any PC maker sold all their PC products, and says iPads are “showing up everywhere in the daily lives of people”:

"It's showing up everywhere in people's lives"

What looks like an regular flip build out commences...

.. and we see the image on the flip side now...

Now more fully formed, but only occupying a section of the previous image's space, because...

.. a moment later it's joined by a second flipping image...

... which remains for a moment while the first flipped image now builds out with a flip...

... and now the second image begins its flip out...

... and now both images are replaced by four smaller images flipping in...

... and here is the final montage, this whole sequences taking about four seconds...

Now it’s quite possible to do all this with the current Keynote, but why would you? It’s not Apple’s way to make itself, and the user, work so hard, when it can create transitions to do it for you, with you merely selecting the images (or presumably, text).

I suspect there is one more new build or transition but the camera work was too poor to pick it up. It occurs about 20m:40s and here is the images I can grab but they are certainly uninformative:

Icons of the thousands of apps start popping in...

I suspect this popping of apps as a build in was in fact similar to what was shown at the Education keynote to introduce iBooksAuthor January 19th, and used the Object Zoom transition.

It’s a very underutilised effect, bit I did manage to use it myself at Macworld in January. See below.

If you think you saw some new Keynote effects, please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

If Microsoft Office comes to the iPad, it will be the best of times and the worst of times.

It was but a mere coincidence that after my previous blog article here, entitled,

“If the expression “Give me the child aged seven….” applies to the iPad and Keynote, I’d start to worry if I ran the Microsoft Office marketing department: Lessons from a Las Vegas school”

the blogosphere somewhat choked with the “news” reported by The Daily that they had seen Office ported to the iPad. From there, many sites echoed the report, some saying The Daily had been duped, others pursuing Microsoft for comment only to receive a strange kind of denial, that more would be known in a few weeks.

That didn’t help the rumour mongering, because the time schedule placed it into iPad 3 release rumour territory. “What is possible”, some asked, “that Microsoft would appear at the iPad 3 keynote to demonstrate Office for the iPad?”

And what would they mean for Apple, for Microsoft, for Google Docs, for Android devices, and for humanity in general? OK, it’s not that big a deal, but for many it’s a serious business. After all, Office is responsible for much of those billions Microsoft earns each month, it is the default communication platform in the enterprise and many academic and military settings, and its placement on the iPad is certainly worth contemplating for its meaning.

If memory serves me correctly, the last time Microsoft took to the stage with Apple in the form of Steve Jobs — happy birthday, Steve 😦 — it was in the form of Roz Ho, from the MacBU showing a version of Office for the Mac.

These were never really stellar performances, and Office for the Mac was always a step behind the capabilities of its Windows brother. So those of us with long memories will greet any availability of an Office app with a yawn, as long as we are already using iWork equivalents, such as Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

There is one Microsoft Office product in the App store, and that is OneNote. There are other MS apps of course:

Do note, if you’ll pardon the pun, that OneNote is free, but limited to 500 entries. After that, to add more you must upgrade for unlimited notes by an in-app purchase of $14.99. This may hint at the cost of individual Office apps or we may see a bundled suite.

How Microsoft chooses to price and assemble Office will intrigue some for the next few weeks, given Apple showed its hand at the very beginning of the iPad Journey almost two years ago (less a few days).

The reviews for OneNote are not great in general, and indeed it’s competing against many very fine and not very expensive notetaking apps, including the free Evernote, as well as Notify.

It was the best of opportunities

For Microsoft, it must have come as an inevitable acknowledgement of the iPad’s market power to bring Office to it, while still developing its own tablet software with a full Windows 7 installation and a version of Office very close in capabilities to that of the desktop version.

That it will bring a denuded version to the iPad is a no-brainer, much like it has suited Apple and its iWork to do so while the iPad’s CPU and GPU grow in power with each new version.

So while the opportunity exists for Microsoft to add more millions to its coffers on sales of Office for the iPad, it may come at some cost. Some may ask if a Windows 7 tablet is needed if Office can be found on the iPad, and perhaps go without. Farewell potential sales.

But of course, it’s the full completely compatible version of Office on a Windows tablet as compared to a “thin” version on the iPad, so that may be enough to steer those in the enterprise away from the iPad to the Windows powered tablet.

For Apple, this is a further opportunity to move more iPads into the enterprise by giving users their default communication and productivity tools, hopefully equipped with extras such as tracking changes and easy cloud-based updating between iPad and desktop and laptop.

Does Apple care that its own iWork suite may go Missing in Action? I don’t think so. Its addition in the first place we were told by Steve Jobs was more of a “Can we do this” aspiration rather than a dagger plunge to the heart of Microsoft. And while Pages on the iPad has met universal acclaim, the same cannot be said of Keynote. At least we have seen several upgrades for the iPad version while the updated/upgraded desktop Keynote stays locked up, ready for the right moment to pounce.

Always remembering that Apple’s software and services exists to sell hardware, Office on the iPad will do more to sell iPads than iWork ever will, if I am to be totally frank about it.

Despite iWork’s two year head start, the iPad is still on an early adopters’ curve. This means there is still a huge market to penetrate and Office will help enormously. The best of times and opportunities will continue for Apple.

The worst of times and opportunities

But there is one downside to all this merriment, if one believes Office for the iPad is a good thing.

And it is here I write selfishly, although for me it may present opportunities too.

My concern is that once Powerpoint moves onto the iPad, the grace and finesse of Keynote will be a thing of the past, and we will see the continuation of the default Powerpoint style. Even while many in the presentation world are working diligently to rid the speaking domain of its dumbed down and empirically unvalidated knowledge transfer capabilities, Powerpoint on the iPad will set presentations backwards.

Yes, I know many will say “but it’s the user, not the tool“, yada yada. But if this is the case, why do 95% of the Powerpoints I witness bore me and most of their audiences silly, breach so many of the guidelines research-based multimedia learning informs us of, and even have end-users complaining when tasked to draw up a new presentation, something I don’t hear of with Keynote users?

So, yes, the best of times for Apple perhaps, and the worst of times ahead for audiences if Powerpoint on the iPad becomes the default presentation tool.

Let’s hope if Office is coming to the iPad, that Apple has lent some UI engineering effort to the MS development team, so we at least get apps that can stand up to scrutiny, look and feel more Apple-like than Microsoft, and “just work”.

I fear it’s all too much to ask however. Reflecting on my previous blog entry, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

Two thoughts on the Apple’s Education Event in NYC: Its presentation software, Keynote is alive and well and expected to prosper, and Android-based tablets are dead in the water in the K-12 education domain.

This morning I woke early early to attend the Channel 7 Melbourne studios for an interview on its morning program, Sunrise. The topic was the virtual site, Second Life, which had apparently been mentioned in the midst of some controversy in a Sydney-based morning radio show.

As so often happens, television picked up on it and I was rung by a producer to offer comments as a media psychologist. You can read something about what happened at this link here from the Metaverse Journal website. A video of my interview is below:

After that breakfast, a brutal workshop with a personal trainer (2012 resolution in action), it was time to settle back to watch the Apple Education Event whose details I had been avoiding all morning. That’s been my habit these past few years: avoiding another’s opinions and perceptions of Apple keynotes, and trusting my own reactions first.

In my previous post (scroll down), I had made some predictions as to what we might see announced, and I was particularly interested to see the fate of Keynote and Pages – indeed, iWork in general – should Apple roll out an iTunes Scholar app (called iTunes U in the event) as well as an book authoring tool, whether it be a beefed up Pages or a new app entirely.

As it turned out, it was both. Yes, a new app called iTunes Author but with an exceptionally close resemblance to Pages.

But my heart was gladdened, having been buoyed by learning iWork’s VP Roger Rosner had been seconded to the iBooks team, when I saw how Keynote was integrated into the iBooks Author workflow, something I had discussed in my earlier blog post.

While neither it nor Pages received published updates, it’s clear to me they will, given iBooks Author is only in version 1.0. As Apple watchers know, such versions are quite acceptable as they are for initial versions – very functional with great ease of use based on familiarity with other Apple apps. There are clear omissions which some with a predilection to diss all things Apple will seize upon, but again long term Apple observers know they will eat their words and look sheepish when V 1.5 then V 2.0 rolls out in a few months.

Witness the same thing when Keynote 1.0 for the iPad was released. Now it is a very competent app., and I expect even more feature matching (with desktop Keynote 5) when the iPad 3 is released soon with its beefier CPU and graphics.

So, with my worst fears that Keynote was to be orphaned not realised and indeed almost a centre of attention with its place in the iBooks Author workflow and feature set, I could concentrate on the event’s central message: Apple is about the inovation experience, supported by its hardware.

In returning to its educational roots, Apple once more puts itself forward as a technology company that can do it all, supplying hardware, software and content for a specialised cohort in real need of innovation.

All the time I was watching this trifecta in action, I kept thinking how any Android-based tablet maker is going to make any headway into the K-12 marketplace. Yes, I expect to hear many complaints not merely of an Apple walled-garden but such a severe lock-in as to call it a moat. Especially with respect to exclusivity of iBooks Authored works being sold only within the iBooks store. Of course, if you repackage the contents for another ePub service using other publishing/creation tools, Apple has no lock on you. Perhaps that other service does. So it seems to me Apple is applying the same prohibitions and permissions as it does for apps you create using its proprietary coding. Yes, you might create the images in Photoshop and the words in MS Word, but if you lay it out and include iBooks Author’s wrapping to publish it, yep, it’s exclusive to Apple. The content and IP is still your’s; how and where you choose to create and publish the final work is your choice.

The lock in to iPads has some arguing families will not be able to afford iPads. These are fair criticisms, but if we wait a little longer, let’s see the price of an iPad 2 when the iPad 3 is released. It’s made its moolah for Apple, and perhaps will be reduced to a more affordable $399 or even a version for $299. Do kids spend this much on Nike sneakers nowadays?

So Android-based tablets might be cheaper or even preferred by those filled with anti-Apple sentiments, but where’s the content? Apple seems to have sewn up those educational textbook makers who in the USA control 90% of the market, according to figures shown at the Apple Education event.

Where do Android-based tablets go in this marketplace? Nowhere, I think, perhaps left to focus on the enterprise setting. But if you were Toshiba or ASUS or Acer or even Microsoft, you’d be worried that children in Kindergarten are being exposed to Apple’s iPad economy, and they will accept the iPad form factor as the norm for “computing”. I put this in quotes because I’m trying to think of another term these children will use as they grow up, because it’s not the computer their parents have known to be a computer.

And you know what? Those kids won’t care. It’ll be called an iPad. That’s sufficient.

[UPDATE: I have added the Sunrise TV video from YouTube, corrected some of the spelling errors from commenters, and in gratitude, include this cartoon:]

Using Apple’s Keynote in a Powerpoint-centred convention (Aviation), I also show how I use a third party software, ScreenFlow 3 to make up for some of Keynote’s deficits. Watch how I create a Director’s Cut, showing Presentation Magic principles in action

In my previous blog post, I wrote of presenting to an Aviation-based convention, APEX, held in Seattle the second week of September, 2011. This was an important time for aviation and travel, given it coincided with 10th anniverary of the events of 9/11, and their aftermath, which continue to impact on travel.

This is especially so in the USA, where commercial aviation remains vigilant about repeat events, while trying to make travelling by airliner as comfortable and pleasant as possible, in the current circumstances. It’s not an easy ask, but technology appears to be coming to the rescue, up to a point, by its introduction to the cabin environment of everyday technologies, such as wifi, iPads and other sources of entertainment to while away the hours. It’s as if a return to the fun days of commercial aviation is possible, before the introduction of budget airlines and tight security.

I had such issues in mind when I constructed my presentation on fear of flying for aviation personnel for the APEX conference , which I delivered at the convention, September 12.

As my previous blog entry describes, I was the first of three to speak in the late afternoon session, which allowed me to set up my equipment during the coffee break.

This included setting my iPhone 4 on a nearby table so as to video record my presentation for later editing.

That’s now complete, and the result is on my page on YouTube.

Now I get many notes in the evaluations of my Presentation Magic workshops, or indeed any presentation I do using my presentation magic “style”asking how and why I did what I did.

So, I decided I would do a Director’s Cut version of my APEX presentation here on this blog. Those in the aviation industry who watch the video will likely not be interested in the same things as presenters wishing to learn more of my presentation concepts, so it’s here in this blog where I’ll ask you to follow along.

You can do this in one of two ways:

1. Just watch the video through from beginning to end (it’s roughly 38 mins) and let it wash over you as if you are a member of the intended audience.

2. Or, you can open it in a separate window and keep this page open as I take you through each element on a timed basis, using the time elapsed in the YouTube video as the key.

3. Or you could do 1, then 2, and see the video twice. Hence, the reason for calling it the Director’s Cut, as is done with DVDs with its extra tracks.

How was the video constructed

One of the missing elements in the current edition of Keynote 09 is a timeline, an easy way to edit resultant videos so as to play as a standalone video or on a service like YouTube. When it exports it as a video, Keynote either allows the viewer to manually advance each element of the video, or it allows for a fixed timing for each build and slide. This has its uses but not with the video I wish to show you.

For this, I had to step away from Keynote and use an editing software. I could have used iMovie or Final Cut, but instead I chose software which I find more intuitive and that’s ScreenFlow 3 from Telestream, the same people who provide Flip4Mac to allow viewing of .wmv movies on Macs seamlessly.

Intended initially to help software developers make videos of to show users how to best employ their apps by showing the workflow on the screen, I find it has applications to help make up for Keynote’s shortcomings.

The Workflow

To record my presentation, I simply placed the iPhone on its edge, having made sure the camera captured the physical area in which I would be presenting. I switched it on as the session started, then moved into frame for the introductions.

At the conclusion of my presentation, I synched the iPhone with my Macbook Pro, at which time the 3GB or so video was imported into iPhoto.

From there it could be dragged into the ScreenFlow 3 timeline, where the audio and video tracks were separated. I needed to do this because my Keynote file also contained movies with sound which needed to be mixed with the live sound so as to capture the audience reaction to what I was showing.

My intention was to cut back and forth between the live presentation featuring me centre stage with the projected images behind me (see below), and the movie of my Keynote file, once it was exported in Quicktime format.

Here

All things considered, the Quicktime output does a good job of preserving the embedded video files and maintains the sharpness of the fonts, pictures and build styles and transitions, as long as you don’t overuse compression protocols. I actually allowed the Quicktime movie to be in DV-PAL format despite the resultant size, which was then imported into ScreenFlow 3. The resultant file was more than 4GB.

I could have extracted the audio and video from this Quicktime file, which woud have left two audio and and two video files. This is not the sort of production I do everyday and I wanted it up on YouTube quickly, so I left the Keynote video intact, with both audio and video. In future efforts, I may change the workflow and separate the tracks, but the issue of keeping all the material synchronised is a serious challenge.

The decision one needs to make in producing this kind of video is when to cut away from the live presentation to the Keynote presentation and when to cut back. It needs to be done smoothly with consideration given to any transition styles, just as one would with Keynote or Powerpoint.

Up to a point, the decision is made for you. At the beginning, you have your opening slide where you’re being introduced, then cut to you making your opening statements with the same opening slide behind you, then cut to the slideshow again once the first slide makes its appearance.

It’s actually not quite as easy as it sounds as I wanted to use some of ScreenFlow’s built in transitions to make the appearance a little easier on the eye, rather than just cut back and forth. This means careful timing so as not to cause a disjuncture or rupture of the sequence, nor loss of information on the Keynote builds I used.

Let’s just say that it required quite a few “undo-redo” commands before I was happy with the outcome. This wasn’t easy, since the more small Quicktime movie files built up (rather than two long videos), the more ScreenFlow began to act flakily, crashing frequently, something I am still working with its helpdesk team to resolve. In essence I had scores of small Quicktime movies from both the Keynote video and the iPhone video littering the timeline, and it’s likely these choked ScreenFlow. Trouble was, rather than falling over early in the export of what I thought was the finished product, it fell over right at the end, often after a half hour of processing, only to have me start again. Very frustrating.

In the end, I firstly exported the Screenflow audio track only, then the video only using Voila’s Screencasting ability. The irony here is I had to use a screenmovie (Voila) of a screenmovie (ScreenFlow 3) to achieve the final product! I then used Quicktime Pro to bring video and audio together in synchrony.

So, let’s go to the YouTube video now, and I’ll walk you through a timeline of what, how and why I did what I did, including errors which I would correct if I gave the presentation again. This way we all learn.

00.00: This is the slide I created by using the brand slide I was asked to use throughout my presentation by APEX management. I used it only once, because it made no sense to use it elsewhere. I saw some other presenters staying with it, but then others merely used their own presentation stacks which they had clearly used for other conferences or sales meetings.

While I’m being introduced by a member of the APEX Education Committee, I’m actually fiddling around with the Macbook Pro on the ground, tweaking a few things. I left this out of the video 😉

00:27 I use one of ScreenFlow’s transitions to open the live video coverage. I had positioned my iPhone so as to capture a fairly wide shot yet with me in the centre, with the screen behind my left shoulder. I actually placed some marks on the floor so as to remember where I ought to stand most of the time, especially when I played videos and needed to be out of shot temporarily.

If you look at the first time I’m shown, you’ll see my Macbook Pro on the ground infront of me (it has an Incipio black cover so as to not draw attention to the Apple logo. If people think I’m using Powerpoint to achieve my effects because it looks like I’m using a Lenovo or Dell laptop, all the better!).

Also, you’ll notice my iPad sitting in landscape mode in an iKlip holder attached to a music stand. This is my vanity monitor setup, with Doceri software allowing me to see what’s on the screen behind me, and to go into presentation mode at the tap of a button on the iPad screen. In my right hand, is my Kensington remote for controlling the Keynote show.

00:46 At this point, having read the bio I had supplied her, the session moderator asks this aviation audience if anyone has a fear of flying. To her and my surprise, quite a few hands go up, and I’m already thinking ahead about my content and if it will need any alterations on the fly given the audience composition.

I thank the host, and launch into one of three different introductions I had rehearsed, depending on the size and composition of the audience, as well as the tone set by the moderator. I rehearsed these out aloud in my hotel room to hear what sounds good, and to make sure the words come out clearly, given the audience might be surprised at my Australian accent. This is especially the case as the audience was a very mixed one culturally, a point I’ll come back to later on when I discuss a potential faux pas I made.

Notice how the brightness of the screen behind me washes out much of the slide due to the iPhone 4’s mediocre camera quality, hopefully improved in the iPhone4s, just released. This is why it was necessary to edit in the actual slides from Keynote.

01:12 An unrehearsed element here, where I acknowledge the number in the audience who have identified as having a fear of flying. It’s possible I might call on them later in the session to discuss some of my ideas in a workshop style, but frankly time is so tight (I have 30 minutes allotted to me) it’s unlikely.

01:17 At this point I launch into my prepared and rehearsed presentation with accompanying slides. Because fear of flying is an almost undiscussable in the aviation community, especially this one which is about the positive passenger experience, I knew I had to make the subject palatable rather than scholarly. An academic presentation would be for a different audience. This audience needed to be convinced it was a worthwhile topic, and that if they understood it, there could be financial gain for them.

So I started off by taking a one-down position, making fun of myself for having chosen potentially the wrong profession to be in, by focussing on two times in history when fear of flying was not at all unusual, and thus not requiring the services of a clinical psychologist.

As you’ll hear, the first was during the barnstorming days in early aviation when it really wasn’t that safe to fly.

01:37 I needed to get this group onside very quickly given their expected defensiveness, and so early on I introduced a visual joke, using aviation terminology to catch the audience off guard: “If you were offered a seat on the wing, they really meant it!”

This generated a little laughter, as if the audience wasn’t sure if they were meant to laugh at such a serious, academic and potentially dry subject, but as they got into the talk, you can hear how they loosened up, hopefully with me giving them permission to have a chuckle. This is part of the engagement process, keeping your audience expecting more fun or surprises ahead.

01:49 Note how the picture of the wingwalker is framed like an old photo album, using one of Keynote’s border features including album corners. You’ll see the picture dissolve into full colour, because it’s actually a very modern photo. I had tried to find an original photo from the barnstorming days, but failing that I located a modern one, and using an effect from software called FX Photostudio Pro (which came with one of the recent Mac software bundles), I used a supplied filter to give it an aged look.

The use of a fullscreen, high-res photo which then dissolves into a full colour image gives the audience an immediate sense that this is not your usual Powerpoint. It keeps me central as the main generator of words and ideas, and informs the audience from the get-go that this will be a highly visual presentation, accompanied by my commentary.

I do this in almost all the presentations I give no matter what the subject. Those opening moments are crucial in setting the mood and expectations for what is to follow in the next 30 minutes.

02:00 At this point, I head into some rehearsed storytelling, attempting to establish the long history of treating fear of flying, starting with the first flight attendants, who were in fact, nurses. This likely comes as a surprise to many in the audience, and I personalise the story by focussing on a groups of flight attendants (FA), and at…

02:07… I single out Ellen Church as the first FA and tell a little of her story. Note please how I do NOT use a laser pointer to locate her on the slide. I dissolve to a second slide – a duplicate of the first – but where the second slide is altered in both sharpness and contrast, leaving a cut out of the subject in high contrast so the eye is drawn there. I also use a shadow effect to outline her with a glow so as to be absolutely sure where your attention goes. I believe it’s important early in a presentation to have these effects to train your audience to expect their attention to be directed by the story you are telling.

How I actually created this effect in Keynote is interesting. I used Keynote’s “Mask with shape” feature to create the cutout of the subject from the first slide which was then pasted into the second slide, and the two slides are then dissolved. To the audience it appears as if the subject has materialised from the slide, which is the intended effect, and they are oblivious to the fact two slides were used. This is not easy to achieve in Powerpoint, because its “dissolve” transitions do not come close to Keynote’s underutilised and underestimated “dissolve”.

02:30 I continue to establish the story of FAs and their initial employment to help nervous flyers, thus establishing that fear of flying is as old as flying itself, and thus there is a body of knowledge about the subject. However, I still need to make the connection to current understandings of fear of flying, and why it is still a relevant subject in 2011, despite the vast improvements in aviation safety and comfort.

03:10 The slide has been on the screen for long enough, so it’s time to give the audience more things to please the eye and ear, yet remain true to the story I’m telling. At this point, I introduce the audience to a new ABC TV show which is due to start in two weeks from my presentation (September 25) called, PAN AM, based on the defunct airline during its halcyon days in the 1960s, when commercial aviation was still glamorous and exotic.

With the video I am hoping to hit the audience with some emotion – nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” – and at the same time, demonstrate Keynote’s seamless segue to video, something those using older versions of Powerpoint struggle with. Note at…

03:13… my choice of transition, the droplet, to convey a change in time, much like you see in movie dream sequences, or when directors wish to convey a memory or scene change an actor is experiencing. What you see and hear is the video of the exported Quicktime of my Keynote file, with no resolution loss at all.

03:37 The edit here is a bit too sudden, when the actress says, “You’re famous now”, and if I were to re-edit the movie, I would soften the transition.

04:04 I am back centre stage to bring my first point home: the notion of there being a time when it was normal to have a fear of flying, because indeed it was a risky time to fly, and not at all irrational, thus not requiring the services of a clinical psychologist.

At this point, I remind the audience I earlier mentioned there being two times when it was normal to be fearful of flying, and now I’m about to introduce the second and more contemporary time, which has direct relevance to the date on which I’m presenting.

04:09 I wanted to talk about the second time being post 9/11, and how companies refused to let their senior staff fly rather than drive to business appointment if they were less than 500 miles away. I needed to find a visual to represent 9/11, and did not want to show the audience of aviation personnel images of crashing planes. For all I know, they may have known victims on board the aircraft involved, and I needed to be respectful of this. The image I used contained elements of patriotism for whom I assumed would be a mainly American audience, as well as showing the WTC towers intact. As it turned out the audience was very mixed in terms of nationalities, and the patriotic image was likely unnecessary.

04:20 I surprise the audience with stories that the fear of flying business suffered after 9/11 because no one thought it strange to not want to fly in the months after.

04:27 I bring in these New Yorker magazine covers (September 24th edition) to break the previous image being on the screen too long. I created these two magazines from a single cover from a gathering of some of the best magazine covers ever which I have stored in iPhoto. I used BoxShot3D to create them, and I used the same software for some of the book images I produce later in the presentation. (I probably bring the New Yorker image in to the YouTube presentation a little too early as it seems to just hang there until I make direct reference to it at 04:45)

04:52 Having said the New Yorker cover captures the feelings of New Yorkers, I attempt to justify this assertion by telling of my time in NYC just a few days before 9/11, then tie it in to another aviation event, the collapse of Australian airline, Ansett, to whom I consulted on fear of flying. You’ll thus note that while some of the story elements seem disconnected at first, I try and pull them together with connecting elements, like my own story and memories.

05:22 After telling a personal and unrehearsed story, I return to the main story which is to show at this point that the unnecessary fears over flying post 9/11 had real consequences, and indeed tap into current fears which see people preferring to drive rather than fly despite the available safety statistics. Many people hear these statistics frequently and ignore them, but I chose a particularly interesting study (2009) which shows how driving fatalities increased significantly in the months after 9/11, ostensibly because people drove when they previously would have flown.

05:31 Notice how I display the actual article itself, located from the web, and brought in as a screenshot. I duplicated it twice more, and sent each duplicate behind the other with a shadow outline to convey it was a multipage article and lift it off the screen a little.

While the body of the article contains almost unreadable text, the article title is very clear and legible.

05:33 I needed to make my point very quickly and directly, so lifted out the main talking point using a screen shot to create a “call out” using a scaling build in Keynote. Notice how I once more fade the actual article so as to direct attention to the main point. This too was done using two duplicate slides, with the build-in set to appear automatically after the transition.

Notice too how the enlarged quote ends on the third line with the word “about”.

In fact, the line continues but I wanted the words that appear there to have greater impact. So I took another screenshot of them, and covered them in the original call out with a white shape, then built in the second call out at…

05:51 …to make my main point, that driving is still a more dangerous proposition than flying, and here’s the evidence. The other thing to note is that the only time I ever read a slide to an audience is if

1. I am reading a direct quote from pictured source,

2. The presentation is being recorded and it’s possible the viewing audience will see the slide on a poor resolution monitor so it helps to read it,

3. The auditorium is very big, and those at the back will be challenged to see even large font words.

06:15 I now return with the audience to a current understanding of fear of flying and why those in the aviation industry need to understand it more. I do it by reviewing a seminal 1982 research paper (displayed) produced for the Boeing Corporation, a major presence at APEX whose executives had presented in the morning educational sessions, along with rival Airbus.

Once more, I don’t just cite it, but show it, something which required some effort to track down, having long ago lost my original signed copy given to me by one of those mentioned in the article, Dr. Al Forgione of Boston, one of the first to run fear of flying group programs in the USA.

06:37 If my memory serves me correctly, it was Al Forgione who suggested the then CEO of Boeing, Bill Allen (not Paul Allen whom I mistakenly named in the video) wanted to know more about the subject for personal reasons, not just commercial ones.

06:53 “The most telling part of the report”. At this point, I have once more duplicated the slide, enlarged and relocated the image, and used Keynote’s Magic Move transition to give a Ken Burns’-like movement to the slide. One could do this with a move and scale build on the o Continue reading

Whither Apple’s Keynote ’11 – thoughts on its much anticipated but very overdue appearance. Is it the fault of the iPad?

Another Apple keynote has come and gone (WWDC 2011) and another opportunity to reveal Apple’s updated Keynote has also come and gone.

Sigh.

Like so many others who’ve delighted in Keynote’s ability to help us develop persuasive and engaging slide presentations and other visual delights, I look forward to each public display of Keynote by Apple senior executives to gather intelligence on new features and guess at possible release dates.

Since its last version update in 2009, Keynote has seen updates to text and build animations but no new transitions or special effects displayed in Apple keynotes. Those text and build updates, such as the drop and dust (demoed at WWDC, below) build have yet to be included in the official current version.

Apple VP iOS, Scott Forstall demoes drop and dust build-in

In my mind, Keynote 11 (or KN6 if you prefer) is pretty well cooked. I don’t mean toast, but cooked in the sense that it no longer needs baking in the oven to convert its essential ingredients into a tasty whole.

In the half dozen or so Apple keynotes since January 2009 (e.g. iPad 1 and 2, WWDC ’10 and ’11, and special Back to the Mac events) we’ve seen the same Keynote on display. Or at least no new effects or features have been sighted.

In the meantime, Keynote on the iPad is now at 1.4, meaning there have been five versions since its release in April, 2010 when the iPad 1 came to market. More a playtoy than a real presentation tool when first released, it’s clear the iWork team has been busy bringing Keynote up to speed such that it can stand alone as a presentation creation tool as well as the presenter app itself.

Contrary to what many think, Apple’s iWork team is quite small in number, dispersed around the US mainland rather than based entirely out of Cupertino. Apple does not have unlimited resources to throw at Keynote, and what they have seems to have been mustered to make sure Keynote on the iPad is the real tool it’s turning out to be, collecting features and capabilities aiming for, but not yet achieving parity with Keynote on the desktop.

Frankly, I don’t think Apple’s in any great hurry to do this, despite Keynote’s afficionados hoping for it. I think Keynote for iPad will develop along its own course, taking advantage of the iPad’s special and unique capabilities. Last week, I witnessed students at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School using Keynote on the iPad for their projects having not touched the desktop version at all. They don’t see weaknesses as we old hands at Keynote do, only possibilities.

In many ways, these students resemble those of us who began with Keynote 1.0 in 2003, when Powerpoint 97  or 2000 was the only show in town. Keynote fell way short of Powerpoint’s feature set at the time, yet those of us who persisted with it knowing it possessed special qualities, found ways to work around its shortcomings. We relished each update allowing us to push past boundaries and eventually create a new paradigm for presenting, such that anytime you witness a Keynote now, you know you’re not witnessing a Powerpoint slide show.

(Mind you, even in Keynote 1.0 we had superior file importing especially movies, transparency effects, rotations, and of course superior and cinema-like builds and transitions. Only now in Powerpoint 2011 do we see Presenter mode actively promoted, although I hardly ever meet Powerpoint users who even know it exists).

This is how these high school students are using Keynote on the iPad. Pushing it without concern for its limitations, not knowing that it is less featured compared to the desktop version.

But then again if you witness any  of Steve Jobs’ recent keynotes, almost every build and animation he has asked desktop Keynote to perform can be done on the iPad too. None of Jobs keynotes in recent memory have really pushed Keynote to the limit such that I sit back and ask “Just how did he do that?” something I get frequently from even experienced Keynote users at my Presentation Magic workshops at Macworld and elsewhere.

Given that Keynote sprang from Jobs’ head originally, and he likely remains its primary beta tester (I’m guessing after OS X, iOS, Mail and iChat, Keynote might be his most used app on a daily basis), there is no hurry or demand to increase its feature set.

That has to come from the iWork team itself taking their ideas to Jobs to sign off on as both worthwhile, and not decreasing its stability. What other app do you see that gives you the option of including “obsolete” animations (below)?

Obsolete Animations? It's your choice...

My guess is that what gets Jobs’ approval are those additions which enable more things to be done with one click; allow Keynote to be more cinematic in its abilities, and now with the importance to Apple’s future of the cloud (as in iCloud) lend themselves to sharing between versions, locations and device.

Something that can only be done on one device is less likely to get a guernsey in future editions than features which can be included across the board.

At the moment, Keynote on the iPad seems to be driving the show, with Apple’s original uncertainty about its tablet’s success now replaced by confidence it’s on to something big, a part of which we witnessed being laid out (or at least its beginning) at last week’s WWDC keynote.

I still keep peppering away at my contact within iWork with feature requests and examples I have created in Keynote (albeit laboriously) as well as features I’ve witnessed in other media (eg., text effects in cinema, visual effects in television current affairs) but that contact is soon to leave Apple and I’m hoping I get a chance to continue my liaison with other members.

For now, we wait. Those features I have most asserted are needed to take Keynote up a notch are those I have labelled as call outs: features which kill the laser pointer and then allow presenters to bring audience attention to aspects of their slides where the essential learning takes place, using animations, colours, focus, and movement subtly.

To conclude, we know another version of Keynote is out there – we’ve seen some of its capabilities in each of Apple’s keynotes for the past two years. With iCloud, iOS and Lion 10.7 just around the corner, one can only hope that their release into the wild unleashes a new version of Keynote which takes advantage of all three elements shown at WWDC 2011 and helps raise presentation skills to a new level.

Getting a new version of Keynote in time for the new school year (in the northern hemisphere) and final presentations in the current school year in the southern hemisphere, would put the icing on the Lion cake.