My stories inside APC Magazine August 2015 issue

apc418The new August 2015 issue of APC magazine is out and I’ve been a busy beaver:

* Windows 10 is here! Well, it will be in a few days. But before you decide to grab the upgrade, I’ve written a 14-page guide on all the important bits – all the changes (there are plenty), all the additions, plus I take a look at the bits that have gone missing. This could be one of the most significant Windows releases since Windows 95, so it’s well worth getting a handle on the new OS.

* Dial M for Android. Windows 10 isn’t the only new operating system on the way. In this issue, I take a look at the up-coming Android M OS and look at the improvements Google will be trotting out when the new OS is released later this year, including how it could revolutionise battery charge speeds.

frac* Powering your Arduino projects. Arduino is a great starting point for building your own smart gadgets, but it seems most builders think you either use a USB port or a 9V battery to power them. In this story, I delve into the various options, how Arduino has multiple options for power. I also show you how you can power an Arduino with a single ‘AA’ battery.

* Drawing shapes in GUI apps. The latest in my Java Coding Masterclass series sees us up to how to draw 2D shapes in graphical user interface (GUI) applications. In particular, we combine coding with some basic mathematics to create Mandelbrot fractal animations. The story includes all the source code you need to load and run your own.

And of course, there’s plenty else going on in this issue – APC magazine August 2015 issue. Out now.


A couple of gongs from the Lizzies

lizziesForgive me for being a bit indulgent as I don’t normally do it, but the 13th Annual IT Journalism Awards – affectionately known as ‘The Lizzies’ – were held at Sydney’s Luna Park last Friday night and I was thoroughly stoked to pick up two awards – Best Technical Journalist and Best Reviewer – for stories I’ve written in APC and TechLife magazines during 2014.

These awards recognise Australia’s IT journalism industry, from audio and video programs to websites including Cnet and Lifehacker, business IT news to major newspapers, including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review. The competition is fierce with so many brilliant writers at the moment, I’ll take the awards and run!

Thanks to APC/TechLife editor Dan Gardiner, managing editor Melanie Pike and the team at Future Publishing. Thanks too to the judges who chose my work, the sponsors and MediaConnect for putting on the awards each year. Journalism, and particularly technology journalism, is going through a tumultuous period globally at the moment, so I’m honoured to have received these awards.


Fixing Windows 8.1 Metro app crash

win81I’ve had this problem for a while, but as I’ve not needed access to the Windows 8 UI or its apps, I’ve not worried about it – until now.

Turns out if you’re still using Corel DRAW X3 or X4, it mucks around with the Windows Registry and basically stuffs up the Windows 8 UI. Now while there are a few bigger-than-ben-hur solutions available, I’ve found a nice simple one that actually worked on the Microsoft community website. It does require fiddling around with the Windows Registry, but it’s a pretty simple fiddle as fiddles go (don’t blame me if you try this out and wake up with your computer busted and think it’s 1980 again…)

1. Open regedit.exe
2. Right click on HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT and select permissions
3. Add “All Application Packages” with Read permission (All Application Packages was missing)

The ‘All Applications Packages’ entry was indeed missing in my build – once returned, Metro apps began to work.

(Okay, I’m sure everyone reading this is a Photoshop junkie, but I’ll keep this here for my sake, if no-one else’s!)

Encouraging the next generation to learn mathematics

stSome time ago, I wrote an app called SpeedTables to help kids (or anyone really) learn their maths times tables. Okay, so it’s not really a big deal, but when you think about it, how much of what we do each day has relied on mathematics bringing into being?

With all the talk of the need for innovation, not just in Australia but around the world, one of the fundamental keys to innovating is mathematics. Right now, reports are that Australia is not only seeing a drop in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) students at university, there’s a shortage of mathematics teachers everywhere. In fact, do a Google search in just about any western country and no nation seems flush with maths teachers right now!

Over the last day or so, I’ve turned that Windows-only app into a new web app that’ll run on any device and browser with some plain old CSS, HTML and Javascript, coded using NetBeans. You can try it out at It’s free – just load it up, choose an option and get cracking.

When I was a kid, my grandfather used to spend time making sure I new my times tables by simply giving me lots of tests, to the point where I knew them before I knew anything else. I’m under no illusion my little web app will save the world, but if it helps someone become more confident in some basic mathematical concepts, that can’t be a bad thing.

My stories inside APC magazine – February 2015

builderI’ve had a very busy month putting stories together for this latest issue of APC magazine:

* There’s a massive PC upgrade guide that I’ve contributed to, looking at all you need to know about CPUs, memory, cases and power supplies. PCs still rock and if you’re considering building your own, this guide is a must-read. If you think you still need a massive PSU or a traditional-looking case, think again. And prices are still remarkably low!

* I’ve also taken the long handle to Google’s Chromecast streaming media dongle in my Android Masterclass, showing you how to hack it and gain root-access to the built-in operating system. The end result has something to do with Netflix US…

* My Arduino Masterclass looks at how you can add up to 32GB of storage to your Arduino projects, this month, making a simple, easy-to-build weather data logger that records temperature and humidity.

* And finally, our Learn to code Java masterclass series starts to get serious by looking at methods, the building blocks of most programming languages that allow you to easily create reusable code without having to retype it or reinvent the wheel every time.

All that and much more is in the February 2015 issue of APC magazine, out now at all good newsagents and where ever magazines are sold.