Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Script to produce iPhone app icons at different sizes

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The tools for writing iPhone software are really easy to use, and allow you to concentrate on the coding rather than on obscure configuration problems. But one area of iOS development that I found a little tedious whilst writing my Solar Balls game was producing Apple’s mandatory and optional icons, which need to be in a variety of sizes.

The application icons need to be generated at different sizes for the old screen resolutions, retina display resolution and for iPhone/iPad screen types. There are also other sizes you can produce for Spotlight and Settings.

The different icon sizes are described on Apple’s developer website here and here.

If you work for a big company and have access to an art department they may well manually produce optimised version of each icon. I don’t have an art department and don’t have time (or the interest!) to optimise each icon so I just wrote a very simple script to do the resizing for me.

It takes a source image and then resizes it into 8 different icons. It gives them names that fit in with Apple’s old recommended icon naming conventions.

solar balls lite icons

Icon list

57x57 Icon.png
114x114 [email protected]
72x72 Icon-72.png
144x144 [email protected]
29x29 Icon-Small.png
58x58 [email protected]
50x50 Icon-Small-50.png
100x100 Icon-Small-100.png

Usage

generateIcons.bat sourceicon [tag]
e.g.
generateIcons.bat iTunesArtwork
generateIcons.bat iTunesArtwork Lite

Or you can just drag the source image over the batch file.

If the first example the icons will be generated from your iTunesArtwork image with the names previously listed.

In the second example a tag is inserted into the name. So if the tag is ‘Lite’ then instead of Icon.png, you get IconLite.png. This can be very useful if you are using one XCode project to produce both a full and a lite version of your app.

You’ll need to have ImageMagick installed and on your path for this to work – ‘convert’ is a binary from ImageMagick.

This is a Windows batch file but you could easily convert it to a Mac OS shell script. I just happened to be using Windows at the time I was doing the icons for Solar Balls.

iPhone icon resizing script

goto :skip_functions
:makeAppIcons
	:: iPhone icon generator
	:: Details at http://www.reviewmylife.co.uk/blog/2012/05/29/script-to-produce-iphone-app-icons-at-different-sizes/
	set filename=%1
	set tag=%2
	:: icon sizes from
	:: http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#qa/qa1686/_index.html
	:: http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/MobileHIG/IconsImages/IconsImages.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40006556-CH14-SW1
	:: App icons
	convert %filename% -thumbnail 57x57 Icon%tag%.png
	convert %filename% -thumbnail 114x114 Icon%tag%@2x.png
	convert %filename% -thumbnail 72x72 Icon%tag%-72.png
	convert %filename% -thumbnail 144x144 Icon%tag%[email protected]
	:: Spotlight search result icons
	convert %filename% -thumbnail 29x29 Icon%tag%-Small.png
	convert %filename% -thumbnail 58x58 Icon%tag%[email protected]
	convert %filename% -thumbnail 50x50 Icon%tag%-Small-50.png
	convert %filename% -thumbnail 100x100 Icon%tag%-Small-100.png
goto :EOF
:skip_functions
call :makeAppIcons %1 %2
:end

It should be very obvious how to generate any additional sizes that you might need. And you could of course use a very similar script for resizing other app images that you might need for the standard/retina/iPhone/iPad screen resolutions.

MacBook Pro 13 inch – what’s in the box?

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

It is over seven months since I bought my 2010 version of the MacBook Pro 13 inch. Maybe it is time to put up the photos of what was in the box!

Unlike other computer manufacturers who throw everything into plain brown cardboard, Apple always have an elaborately designed box. Their idea of user experience extends to the packaging. The outside of the box is minimalist in the usual Apple way. You get a photo of the MacBook Pro viewed from the front with the lid closed. The text says “13 inch LED-backlit widescreen notebook”. None of Steve Jobs’ usual hyperbole here!

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 01

On the back of the box is the MacBook viewed from the same angle, but with the screen opened.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 02

The box is reasonably thick, and when you open it the first thing you see is the MacBook. Apple prefers you to view the main product first, rather than having to fish through cables, manuals and CDs to get to it. The inside top of the box is padded to make sure your MacBook gets to you in one piece!

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 03

Here’s a closer shot of the laptop. On the black label it says “Designed by Apple in California”. You can see another box which holds the power cord to the right.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 04

After removing the MacBook you see the power brick with the cabled tied neatly and a mysterious black package.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 05

First here is what is in the white box to the right. It is the power cord. As I bought this in the UK it has the usual three pin UK plug socket. You can choose either to have a long cord, or to have the power brick directly connected to the plug.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 06

Here is a photo giving you a closer look at the power brick. It is very small and shiny compared to a usual laptop power brick.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 07

And here is the power cable connected to the power brick to make a perfect square.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 11

This photo gives you a closer look at the black package. Out of everything in the box, this part seems the least designed.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 08

And this is what is inside. A manual and another CD sized folder.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 09

Inside the CD sized folder you’ll find the Mac OS X install disk, and the application install DVD, as well as the warranty information and some Apple stickers.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 10

Here is the final MacBook opened up and switched on.

macbook pro 13 2010 in the box 12

If that is not enough excitement for one day, you can read my review of running Windows 7 on a MacBook Pro, and about how I triple partitioned my MacBook.

windows 7 macbook pro 13 2010


Windows 7 on a 2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I’m going to review what it is like to use Windows 7 Home Premium on a 2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch. This is one of the 2.4GHz models with 4GB of RAM.

macbook pro running windows 7 aero

Some parts of this review would be applicable for running Windows 7 on any Mac, but other parts may be specific to the 2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch.

Installing and setting up Windows 7

I installed the 32 bit edition of Windows 7 rather than the 64 bit version on the assumption that more 3rd party software and drivers would be compatible with the 32 bit version.

windows 7 home premium

Installing and setting up Windows 7 using Boot Camp is simple and takes less than an hour (most of that time is take by Windows 7 installing and setting itself up).

On a previous post I’ve put links to the Boot Camp install instructions. And if you want a writable shared partition I’ve written up my own instructions for how to add a third shared writable partition to your MacBook hard drive.

Booting up Windows 7

By default the MacBook will boot into Mac OS X. If you hold down the ‘alt’ key when you turn it on you will get boot selection screen in about 10 seconds that will allow you to choose to boot from either the Mac OS X partition or the Windows 7 partition.

boot camp os selection screen

On choosing Windows 7 it then takes my month old install of Windows 7 48 seconds to reach the login screen. And once I’ve submitted my user details it takes another 15 seconds for the desktop to be fully loaded (with all the taskbar icons in place and for the mouse cursor to be idle).

Using the MacBook Pro track pad for Windows 7

The MacBook has a large multi-touch track pad and Apple have allowed some of the multi-touch functionality to be used in Windows.

macbook pro trackpad

Moving across the trackpad with a single finger moves the mouse cursor as you’d expect.

Moving up and down with two fingers will scroll the current page up and down.

As there are no left/right buttons on the trackpad you have to click with a single finger for left-click, and click using two fingers for right-click. You can also configure the track pad to accept a single click in either the bottom left, or bottom right of the screen for the right click.

No three or four fingered gestures are supported yet.

Using the MacBook Pro keyboard for Windows 7

The keyboard is large and feels good to type with, but it is with the keyboard that you may run into problems when you start using Windows 7. Many of the standard Windows keys that you are used to aren’t on the keyboard. For example there is no Home, End, Page Up, Page Down, Print Screen, Del, or Windows key.

Here are the keyboard shortcuts that allow you to get the functionality of these keys on your MacBook Pro.

  • Home – fn + left arrow
  • End – fn + right arrow
  • Page Up – fn + up arrow
  • Page Down – fn + down arrow
  • Print Screen – fn + shift + F11 (and for just the current window fn+shift+alt+F11)
  • Del – fn + backspace
  • Windows key – cmd
  • Pause/Break – fn + esc (you can therefore bring up the system properties with cmd+fn+esc – normally Win+Pause with Windows keyboard)
  • Hash symbol (#) – ctrl + alt + 3
  • Ctrl-alt-del – ctrl + alt + fn + backspace

Apple have a larger list of keyboard mappings, but many of them are for other types of Macs and don’t work on the MacBook Pro. Wikipedia has a big list of keyboard shortcuts that you can try as well – but again many of them aren’t applicable to the MacBook Pro keyboard.

USB, display port, and other hardware

Apple have been quite stingy with their USB ports. There are only two. If you want to attach more devices you’ll need to plug in a hub. Also both ports are very close together, so if you plug in a USB device with a larger than specification plug, you might not be able to plug in a second USB device. There is a FireWire 800 port as well if you have any FireWire 800 devices to plug in.

macbook pro usb and display ports

You won’t find any PC standard VGA monitor plug on the MacBook Pro. There is a Mini DisplayPort instead, so if you want to plug in a VGA monitor, or projector you’ll need to pay extra for an adaptor like this one.

The DVD drive, web cam, and SD drive all work as expected on the MacBook Pro.

System properties – Windows Experience Score, usable RAM, and battery life

The Windows Experience Index of Windows 7 (with Aero) on the 13 inch MacBook Pro is 5.3. I put more details on my MacBook Pro Windows Experience score page.

When booted the usable RAM is 2.74 GB. This is because 32 bit versions of Windows can only address about 3.3GB of RAM. The reason it shows less than 3.3GB is because part of the address space is allocated to other parts of the system (mostly to the graphics card I’m guessing). Using the 64 bit version of Windows 7 would allow more of your RAM to be used by Windows, but I can’t tell you what the 64 bit version of Windows 7 is like as I haven’t tried it.

The battery life of the MacBook Pro when running Mac OS X is about 10 hours. When running Windows 7 it is about 4 hours. Still good for a Windows laptop, but it is a shame the battery life isn’t closer to the Mac OS X battery life.

Features such as hibernate and standby both work well. When hibernating you’ll have to make sure you select to boot from Windows on the boot partition selector if Mac OS X is your default OS.

Boot Camp control panel

In the Windows 7 taskbar (or from the Control Panel) you can access the Boot Camp control panel.

boot camp control panel windows 7

It will let you change settings relating to the keyboard mappings, and how the trackpad works. You can set how you activate the right-click for example. Right clicking on the taskbar icon gives you a ‘Restart in Mac OS X’ option.

Default boot partition

After installing Windows 7 via Boot Camp the default boot partition will probably be OS X. If you want to change it to be Windows 7, boot into OS X, go to the System Preferences, then Startup Disk, and choose the Boot Camp partition

Useful MacBook Pro utilities for Windows 7

If I find useful utility programs for Windows 7 on a MacBook Pro I’ll list them here.

  1. TrackpadMagic – if you are playing a game using a mouse and keyboard, you may find that you accidently hit the trackpad. This free utility will allow you to enable or disable the trackpad easily. You can also configure it to automatically disable the trackpad when you plug in a mouse.

Windows 7 on MacBook Pro problems

When I got the MacBook Pro a few weeks after it was released there was a problem where no sound came out of the headphone jack in Windows 7 (the headphone socket worked fine on Mac OS X. Apple have now released a patch for this problem – here is the 32 bit version, and the 64 bit version.

Freezes in Windows 7 on MacBook Pro – Updated

The most serious problems that I have encountered are complete freezes of the Windows 7 OS. I know I’m not the only person having this problem with running on Windows 7 on Mac OS as a simple Google search will show.

In my case I can be using Windows 7 for many hours, and then without warning it will completely freeze. The mouse and keyboard will both stop responding. Sometimes the system will wake up briefly after a few minutes, only to freeze again seconds later. Once it has got into this frozen state I find I need a reboot to fix it.

I’ve looked into some of the proposed solutions, but many of them aren’t applicable to the 2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch. What I’m trying at the moment is running Windows 7 with Aero turned off (using the Windows Classic interface).

Update 7th July 2010: I’ve now been running Windows 7 with the Classic UI instead of Aero for a month. Since switching to the Classic UI I have had none of the regular freezes that I’d been getting before. It looks like the freeze problems are therefore due to Aero / graphics chip related issues. Fingers crossed that either Apple or Microsoft release an update soon that allows Aero to be used without problems on the MacBook Pro. In the mean time I’m sticking with the Classic UI.

Update 30th November 2010: I switched back to Aero 4 days ago and so far no freezes. Looks like the problem is fixed, but I’ll update this post if any more freezes occur.

The good and bad

Good points of running Windows 7 on the 2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch.

  • Windows 7 runs smoothly and fast (when it doesn’t freeze).
  • Great screen for Windows applications or video.
  • Much more attractive than any other Windows laptop.

Bad points with Windows 7 on the 2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch.

  • Expensive!
  • The OS freezes after a few hours of intensive use when using the Aero UI (see the above update for the latest details).
  • Some of the standard Windows keys are missing from the keyboard. You’ll need to learn the shortcuts, or use an external keyboard to access them.
  • No Windows standard display display out (e.g. no VGA).
  • Only two USB ports.

Here is a final photo. This is how I use my MacBook Pro at home. I have an external keyboard, USB hub and wireless mouse. With these extras it doesn’t look as neat, but it is much easier to use.

macbook windows keyboard hub mouse

If you want to know how it is packaged look at my MacBook Pro – What’s in the box? post.

Windows 7 Experience Index scores on MacBook Pro 13 inch from 2010

Monday, May 10th, 2010

I was recently asked about the Windows 7 Experience Index scores for the 2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch.

This is a aluminium unibody MacBook Pro with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM, an NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics chip, and a 250GB 5200 rpm hard drive.

I took a measurement of the score shortly after installing Windows 7 on my MacBook (which I did right after buying the laptop), and a few weeks later. The scores were identical.

I have left all the default Windows 7 settings in place – for instance I have Aero turned on, and all the visual effects which were enabled by default are still on. Here is a screenshot of the scores.

windows experience index on macbook pro scores

And in case you have images turned off here they are written down.

  • Processor – 5.9
  • Memory – 5.5
  • Graphics – 5.3
  • Gaming graphics – 6.0
  • Primary hard disk – 5.8

Therefore the overall base score is 5.3. The base score is determined by the lowest of all the scores.

If you can’t translate a score of 5.3 into real life, if means that the 2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch is a very good machine for running Windows 7. It is very responsive and quick, even with all the default Aero effects turned on. For more details read my Windows 7 on a MacBook Pro 13 inch review.

Triple partitioning Mac with OSX and Windows 7

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

If you are configuring your Apple Macintosh to dual boot with Mac OS X and Windows there is a good guide on Apple’s website. However it doesn’t cover certain issues such as how to set up a third partition that can be read and written to by both Mac and Windows. And it doesn’t give help with how much space should be used for each OS.

I recently bought a 2010 MacBook Pro 13 inch, the first time I’ve ever owned a Mac. I wanted to dual boot with Windows 7 Home Premium so I bought that to.

My advice therefore relates to Mac OS X 10.6.3 Snow Leopard and Windows 7, but some of it may be applicable to other versions as well.

When going through the Boot Camp install process I chose to set my Windows 7 partition to 80GB as I wanted plenty of space for installing applications.

boot camp partition screen

After completing the Windows 7 install I booted back into Mac OS X. I loaded up Disk Utility (in Applications / Utilities), selected the Macintosh HD partition and then resized the Mac partition to be 60GB by dragging the lower right corner of the partition. I chose this size to give me a good 100GB shared partition with the 250GB hard drive in my MacBook.

mac os x disk utility

After resizing (which took less than a minute) the hard drive looked like this. You can see there is now a Mac partition, a Windows partition, and a big empty space.

resize mac os x partition

Mac OS X 10.6.3 can shrink the Mac OS partition without destroying any of the drives data. However I can’t tell you if previous versions of Mac OS X support non-destructive partition shrinking.

Once you have shrunk the Mac OS partition you’ll now need to create your shared partition. If you want to be able to read and write to it from both operating systems you’ll need to set the partition type correctly.

Click the plus ‘+’ to add a partition. Set it to be the maximum size for the gap in your hard drive, and set the format to be MS-DOS (FAT). The actual format used will be FAT 32 even though it doesn’t specifically say this.

three partition macbook pro

After you have created your shared partition test it from both Windows and Mac OS by writing a file into it from each operating system, and then checking you can read it from the other.

MacBook Pro three partition summary

In summary you now have three partitions:

  • Macintosh HD – This can be read/written to by Mac OS X. And Windows 7 can read from it. I set it to be 60GB. It is in the Mac HFS format.
  • Shared – Can be read/written to by both Mac OS X and Windows 7. I set it to be 100GB. It is a Fat 32 partition.
  • Bootcamp – Can be read/written to by Windows 7. And Mac OS X can read from it. I set it to be 80GB. This is an NTFS partition.

You can now use the Shared partition to store any data that you want to share between the two operating systems, such as photos, videos, music and documents.

Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6.3 install size

In case you are interested in how large each operating system is after install.

If you want to know what the Windows 7 OS is like read my review of using Windows 7 on a MacBook Pro 13 inch.

Upgrading to Lion without losing Bootcamp

I’ve successfully upgraded to Lion without losing my Bootcamp install. I’ve read that a lot of people have had problems as Lion tries to add a recovery partition which can shift your Bootcamp partition up by one. Here is my pre-Lion partition table

/dev/disk0
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *250.1 GB   disk0
   1:                        EFI                         209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Macintosh HD            61.8 GB    disk0s2
   3:       Microsoft Basic Data SHARED                  101.4 GB   disk0s3
   4:       Microsoft Basic Data BOOTCAMP                86.5 GB    disk0s4

Lion tries to install the recovery partition after the Mac OS X drive (in my case #2) which shifts the Bootcamp partition to #5. You can prevent the recovery partition from being created by first installing Lion on a removable USB hard disk, and then upgrading the Snow Leopard Mac install. I followed the ‘Installing Lion on an external storage device’ and then ‘Install OS X Lion’ steps on Apple’s http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4718 page.

Remember to back up first!


iPhone apps for learning Japanese

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

There are many different ways you can learn a foreign language such as Japanese. There are classes, textbooks, CDs, applications for your PC or Mac, podcasts, language exchanges etc. Now you can learn Japanese on your iPhone and iPod Touch as well.

I’ve tried many different iPhone Japanese learning apps and am going to review the five apps that are still installed on my iPod Touch! In other words the apps that I found useful enough to keep.

Human Japanese – Version 2.0

Human Japanese is a bit like an interactive textbook. It has chapters covering loads of topics such as verbs, questions, numbers, kana (hiragana / katakana) and particles. In the current version there are 40 chapters dedicated to learning Japanese and another 6 chapters of cultural information about Japan.

human japanese iphone

Human Japanese works you through the various chapters starting from complete beginner level. As well as reading the Japanese words, each word or phrase can be clicked on to allow you to hear how a Japanese person would pronounce it – very useful.

To help cement what you have learnt many of the chapters have multiple-choice quizzes where you can test your English to Japanese and Japanese to English skills.

This is a very well put together application. There is a free version available to download from the app store with a limited number of lessons. If you like it you can buy the full version.

Download from iTunes: Human Japanese – Brak Software

Kotoba Japanese Dictionary

If you are learning Japanese then you’ll definitely need a dictionary. Paper dictionaries can be slow to use and are bulky to carry around.

To solve these problems you can get Kotaba – it is a full Japanese dictionary for free!

As you’d expect there is a search facility where you can type in an English word and you’ll get a list of results in a few seconds. You can also type in the Romanised version of the Japanese word (e.g. watashi, chika) and you’ll get the Japanese words that match.

Kotoba Japanese dictionary iphone

For Japanese words Kotoba will give you the Kana version (in either Hiragana or Katakana), the Romanised version (useful if you haven’t yet learnt the kana) and the Kanji. For words that are composed of multiple Kanji the dictionary will break the Kanji down into their component parts.

For each Kanji Kotaba gives you a whole list of supplemental information which can be useful if you want to look the Kanji up in a textbook.

If you want to save a word for later then you can add it to your ‘favourites’ list – a great feature when you are trying to learn the language. There is also a history list that shows you which words you have recently viewed.

I have just one suggestion for a future version – that is to allow the favourites list to be exported or saved – I’d find it quite handy to be able to save the list to my laptop or print it out.

I can’t fault this iPhone Japanese dictionary – it is free and extremely useful.

Download from iTunes: Kotoba! (Japanese dictionary) – Pierre-Phi di Costanzo

Japanese Pod 101 – Newbie Lessons 1-25

This iPhone / iPod Touch app comes from the people at Japanese Pod 101 who do great podcasts for learning Japanese. They have loads of podcasts available to download for free and more learning material available for people who subscribe.

They have released some of their more structured lessons in the form of iPhone applications.

If you do a search for these applications it is a bit confusing to work out which app to get. There are a whole series of applications from them with very similar sounding names and very little description as to the content. For example some of the apps are listed as ‘begginner’ and others as ‘newbie’. Is one of these supposed to be more advanced than the other? I’ve no idea – but I took a chance with the Newbie lessons 1-25.

This has 25 different audio lessons – each is about 6-8 minutes long. You are meant to follow the lessons from the beginning. For each lesson you can listed to the audio as a single track or you can play it line by line. There is also a brief write up for each lesson, vocabulary lists, flashcards and grammar points. Words that you have trouble with can be saved to the Word Bank to look at later.

japanesepod101 newbie 1-25 iphone

As with all the learning material from japanesepod101 this is a good course to help your learn Japanese. The audio has been put together very professionally.

There are a few suggestions that I have for the makers to make this better.

  • Make it easier to distinguish between the many apps with very similar names. It is confusing working out which one to buy in the app store.
  • The audio lessons are very professional with proper voice actors and good sound quality. However the lesson write-ups look like they have been done in Notepad. They could do with some formatting to make them look better.
  • The 25 lessons don’t have proper names – they are just called ‘Lesson 1’, ‘Lesson 2’ etc. They should have names that indicate the topic of the lesson to make it easier to find the one you want when you go back through them later.
  • As the audio is in an app rather than as an MP3 playing through the normal iPod music player you have to keep the iPhone/iPod Touch screen on to listen to it. It you press the power button to switch the screen off (as you would when listening to music) the audio stops. I imagine that there is nothing that can be done to fix this as I don’t think Apple allow apps to run when the screen is switched off. However I’ve found that it is still possible to listen to the podcasts when my iPod is in my pocket as fortunately the play/pause button is very small.

Overall this is a good set of Japanese lessons – but a few tweaks to the app could make it much better.

Download from iTunes: Pocket Japanese – Newbie I (1-25) – Innovative Language Learning, LLC

Japanese Essentials by AccelaStudy

There are different ways of remembering foreign language vocabulary. One way is to use flashcards that show you a Japanese or English word. You have to then recall the translation.

This is what Japanese Essentials does. It has categories of word lists that you can choose from (shopping, colours, numbers, etc). You can choose which ones to revise and test yourself on them.

accelastudy japanese learning iphone

Japanese audio for each word is provided so you can hear how the words are pronounced.

You can choose to study the flashcards one by one, do spaced repetition and do a quiz.

This is a very simple application but does what it does well. There is a free version with a limited number of words and categories, and a full (paid version) with 2100 words in 65 categories.

Download from iTunes: AccelaStudy® Japanese | English – Renkara Media Group, Inc.

Beginning Japanese Words & Phrases

Japanese Words and Phrases is an interesting app which allows you to learn in several ways.

There are many categories containing lists of words. You can look at the whole list, or learn the list one by one using flash cards. Japanese audio for each word or phrase is provided. Words can be saved to the Study Bank for later. When you have learnt the words you can test yourself using the built in quizes.

japanese words and phrases iphone

As well as the words and phrases you can work through the built in lessons on a number of topics.

There are lessons on the Hiragana and Katakana phonetic alphabets which if you are serious about Japanese you’ll definitely need to learn.

Then there is a Grammar Fast Track 100 containing 100 pages of information, each one about a particular grammar point. For example one is about verb forms and another is about counters.

There is a lesson that gives an introduction to a small number of Kanji, and there are some miscellaneous lessons on family words and polite Japanese amongst others.

I don’t find I use the flashcards much but I have been finding the grammar lessons interesting – Japanese grammar can be tricky!

There is a free version of this app available with a limited subset of features and the full version has everything described above. Another recommended app for your iPhone if you want to learn Japanese.

Download from iTunes: Japanese Phrases & Lessons – TheJapanesePage.com

iPod dissection

Friday, August 10th, 2007

After my first iPod died – a 4th generation 20gb one – I decided to have some fun and see what was in there. There are instructions elsewhere on the web telling you how to dissasemble and put your iPod back together (for battery replacement), but I’m not interested in saving it.

The iPod will die!

Safety first – if you are going to be forcing components open then you should wear protective goggles. Particuarly when opening the hard drive. I found that the actual platter shattered into very sharp pieces.

First up, how to get into the thing. When you look at it you can see that it is a pretty tightly sealed package. There is almost no gap between the white plastic on the front and the silver metal on the back. Using a very thin flat head screw driver to force it open is the way to go. I found that the area at the bottom of the iPod seemed the place to start.

 

Once opened it looks like this. You can see the hard drive dominating the area on the left.

I wanted to get into the hard drive so I pulled it out and removed the protective blue plastic from the outside. The picture on the right is the hard drive to circuit board connector.

  

There are wierd screws in a five point star shape. However you don’t need to remove these to get inside. Just use a screw driver to force the package open. The hard drives internal circuit board was fastened with more five point star screws. I managed to undo some of them but I gave up on the last one and just ripped the circuit board out.

  

I still wasn’t able to see the hard drive platter. This was obviously sealed inside the other two pieces of metal. These were fastened tightly using those five point start screws. To open it I adoped a brute force method.

Warning: You really should be warning safety goggles at this point! Shards of the hard disk platter may fly out!

I inserted a large flat head screwdriver by each of the screws and turned it sharply to force each of the corners open. The result is on the right.

You can see the actual hard disk platter. It is amazingly reflective. Just like a mirror. You can see on the right of the platter where a few pieces broke off when I inserted the screw driver. These pieces are very sharp which is why you need the safety glasses.

 

Not that I had destroyed the hard drive I moved back to the remains of the iPod. I removed the battery.

 

Next to be removed was the display. I found that after it was disconnected various lines would occasionally flash accross the display.

The click wheel mechanics are visible on the left. In the centre I’ve removed the metal cover.

  

There’s not much left now. Left in the case is the headphone connector and on/off switch.

 

Finally all the bits laid out. There are a lot of pieces in iPod. You’ve got to admire those Apple engineers for managing to fit it all in.