Alasdair Morrison - Glasgow Based Web UI & Mobile Software Developer

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  1. Comparison of iPhone PDF Voice (Speech) readers 2013

    To get the pdf files on to my iPhone I find the best way is to keep them all in a dropbox folder and use the dropbox app to open each pdf with the application of your choice.

    Voice Dream Reader (Just not for me)


    Good Points

    • Landscape mode (+1)
    • Very Good selection of quality voices (+3)

    Bad Points

    • Doesn’t have easy page navigation (-2)
    • Pages are all bundled together, with only the text from the pages displayed, so no layout of the pdf :( (-5)

    Overall Score: -3 (I just don’t like how its just the text from the pdf without any layout information, this may be ok for some people however) Shame because the voices are the best I have heard and a huge number of choices!

    Claro PDF (Highly Recommended!)

    Good Points

    • A good number of different voices (with different accents) to buy, Scottish, Irish, Australian (+2)
    • Really like the word trail highlight, which highlights the current word being read and all the previous ones that were read in that sentence (+2)
    • Easy page flipping and horizontal scrolling of pages (+1)
    • Landscape reading (+1)
    • Tap to read (very handy to select where you want to read from) (+1)
    • Great navigation (can easily go to a chapter etc) (+1)
    • Can great and save annotations/notes directly to the pdf then you can use “save as..” to save back to dropbox! (+2)

    Bad Points

    • Doesn’t pause the reading when you go to create a note (-1)
    • You can’t pause, its either play or stop (stop goes to the start of the page) (-1)
    • Downloading seems to continuously get interrupted if your phone goes to sleep or you change app (-1)

    Overall Score: 6 Highly Recommended!

    Natural Reader (Could have been good!)

    Good Points

    • CC mode is a really good idea, it shows just the sentence that is being read out (+1)
    • Button to go back the the previous sentence/fragment read! (very useful when you miss-understand something!) (+2)
    • The interface is attractive and easy to use, easy to go to a specific page number (+2)
    • Horizontal scrolling and nice page flip effect! (+1)
    • Fairly good quality voices and a good amount of choice (+1)

    Bad Points

    • Just seems to read letters rather than words for certain pdfs (using the same pdf tested with the rest of the apps! Unfortunately this makes it pretty useless for those books (-2)
    • No landscape mode (-1)
    • Interface bugs: play button doesn’t change into pause button when you switch page and it starts reading. (-1)
    • Doesn’t save position when changing pdf and coming back to it, pretty annoying (-2)
    • You can’t take notes while reading, annoying for reading technical books where you want to save notes then export them later (-2)

    Overall Score: -2 This would have been a really good app if it supported taking notes and if it managed to read all the pdfs I tested with

    PDF Connoisseur (Annoying)

    Good Points

    • Free voices for a number of languages (but limited choice in total) (+1)
    • Really easy to take a note while listening (tap the pencil then the speech bubble), the voice will stop while you write the note and continue when you click done (+2)
    • landscape mode for reading while listening (+1)
    • Horizontal scroll mode (I personally prefer scrolling the pages horizontally (+1)

    Bad Points

    • Limited choice of Voices (2 for each language, male/female) (-1)
    • The voices can be quite bad at saying very common words, would have been nice to download a higher quality voice as a in-app purchase (-2)
    • Annoying pause after each line, would be better if the pause was after a sentence, really interrupts the reading flow (-2)
    • Can’t easily just go back to the last sentence if you want to repeat what was just said, it repeats the whole page instead (-2)

    Overall Score: -3 (The limited voices and the quality of the voices really lets this app down, the annoying pauses and the lack of effective navigation features further reduce the score.


  2. Training Review: NodeJS Play by Play Tim Caswell

    Welcome! This is my second review while using my Pluralsight trial subscription. This is a “Play by Play” training course which seems to give an expert programmer a task to implement and shows you the process that they go through from concept to creation!

    Points from the video:

    • He uses the JSLint style since most tools use that OOTB (out of the box)

    The good:

    • He uses a really nice big font in his text editor which makes it really easy to follow along no matter how big your screen is :)
    • He also uses a very nice font ubuntu mono which is a nice free font!

    The not-so-good:

    • It can be a little boring to watch and it seems you could easily write the same application by following the nodejs documentation.
    • I didn’t feel I really learned anything, I wanted to write down important points but it was so secific to the task I don’t feel I really took away much information.

    Overall rating: 2/5 “ok”

    The course does make me want to write something in node.js, but currently I have so many different projects which will use grails/rails/django/flask that it will be hard to find the time or project. But hopefully i’ll think of a small project that I can write in nodejs that will also be a useful tool to use for day-to-day development. We’ll see :)


  3. Training Review: Build Your Career with michael Lopp

    Now that I have started my new Job and currently loving it, I decided to create a trial subscription to Pluralsight.

    The choice of Pluralsight was due to deciding that it was the most professional looking Training site which tailors towards professional developers, as opposed to the normal “Learn Java easily” type training sites.

    The first course I decided to watch was “Build Your Career with michael Lopp”, just for general interest what his advice for software developers who have recently landed in a nice career would be.

    Good points from the video:

    Focus on your superpower, don’t keep trying to be better at stuff you are only average at (and probably always will be), get someone else to do that stuff and focus on what you are really good at!

    An example of that is getting someone to do organisation while you focus on the development!

    Have the ability to just take up any language, better than just being really good in one, so I guess just use as many languages as you can!

    The video also contained various advice on writing articles/books for developers, which i din’t personally find very useful, the advice was pretty basic.

    He describes his career path which although interesting isn’t particularly useful, since as he admits he was in the right place at the right time. Although he clearly has a good attitude and is very intelligent so it is a good watch, just don’t expect to learn too much.

    Overall rating 3/5 (Good)

    As for Pluralsight itself:

    The Good:

    • Variable Playback speed! Save time by watching it faster, or slower, really like this feature!

    The Not-so-good:

    • No where to easily save notes, would have been nice to have a text area which links to the time in the video so you can take notes while it is playing.

    Hopefully i’ll have time to write a short review of more of the Pluralsight courses and maybe even continue on into a paid subscription!


  4. illustrator inspiration

    Since I'm (hopefully) going to be learning how to create cool vector graphics in illustrator, I thought I would post some inspiration to myself. These are the sort of illustrations I would love to be able to create and incorporate into my own applications.

    Also many very cute illustrations on pokedstudio website:

    Inspiration from danluvisiart @

    Lenny and Carl

    Inspiration from

    White Pinguin :)

    Inspiration from portfolio

    100 cars

    Olympic Mascot

    Various Sporting Helmets


  5. Is it possible to improve my artistic skills?

    One thing I have always loved to be able to do is create cool artwork for the websites, games and applications that I develop. Being able to use already created templates and css frameworks such as bootstrap certainly help make my websites look better than me 'programmer art' but I would love to go a stage further and be able to create customised experiences that just look good.

    So I have decided (yet again  -_- ) to try out various tutorials with the rather unrealistic aim of being able to design my own assets without requiring a designer. Can sites like tuts+ and digital-tutors improve my rather awful programmer art into a style suitable for production? stay tuned to find out!

    Here is my plan for material to watch over the next year or so, purely based on how cool the end results look (in my opinion).

    Adobe illustrator

    I have always loved the idea of vector artwork and my hope is that illustrator could be the only tool I need to create assets for games, apps and even whole websites. Here is the list of tutorials I plan to follow:

    Learn How To Create Two-Tone and Graphic Radials


A Mac PDF Text To speech application for quick reading of PDF files, ideal for quickly taking notes on academic and technical papers which ProductivePDF reads the text aloud at high speeds. Too slow at reading? Find your mind wandering when reading boring documents? Find it hard taking notes? This application is for you!

6 1

Javascript implementation of the 39dll network library for GMHtml5

6 3

6502 Assembler written in python (based on asm6 by olimar)

4 0

Enigma function approval process, fork to contribute to enigma!

4 0

Example and API of Making Blogger Posts in Python

3 0

EnigmaJS html5 game development tool

2 1

Clang plugin which aims to allow dynamic instrumentation of functions with a low CPU overhead

2 1

Provides various functions to clean up Game maker games so they are able to compile with ENIGMA

1 0

Syncs Google Documents to Confluence Wiki Pages, allowing the data to be searchable on your wiki while easily editable in google docs.

1 0

Gameboy Disassembler - Convert assembled code back into Z80 assembly code

1 0