Mar 13

Chickpea Flour Crepes (Gluten free)

Here is a quick recipe for great tasting gluten free crepes.

Chickpea flour is used and the shallots and chilli powder is optional, but give it a try, since it adds to the taste!

Gluten free chickpea light pancake/crepe

Gluten free chickpea light pancake/crepe

Chickpeas are popular in Indian cooking, which is where I first discovered them. Growing up, as a kid I have fond memories of the spicy, chickpea light pancakes I used to have.

Over the past few years, I’ve been eating (well trying to) mostly gluten free meals, so rediscovered chickpea flour. Chickpea flour is also know as besan or garbanzo flour. The flour is gluten free and also high in protein. All round great qualities.

The recipe is a modified one from “Modern Spice” by Monica Bhide.

It also works great with Spinach or Kale added with the shallots or onions. Dice about 1 cup of the spinach or kale in a blender. Once the crepes are ready, you can use as a wrap, with you favourite filling. I usually just have them plain, since they’re quite filling.


1 cup chickpea flour
1 ¼ cups water
1 teaspoon red chilli powder or red chilli flakes
2 small shallots (or 1 medium), diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon carom seeds
1 teaspoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
4 teaspoons vegetable oil

Place the chickpea flour in a bowl and add water slowly with one hand while mixing it in with the other hand. Use a spatula to mix,  or use your hands, which words better. Keep adding water and mixing to remove all lumps.

Get to a consistency like that of pancake batter, pourable but not thin. Add chile powder, shallots, cilantro, carom seeds, ginger and salt, and mix well. Add this point add the finely diced spinach or kale if you want.

Heat a small crepe pan or skillet on medium heat. Add ½ teaspoon of oil. Pour in about ¼ cup of the batter. Mix the batter before pouring into the pan, since the batter tends to settle if left standing. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until bubbles begin to form all over the crepe. Using a spatula, lift crepe and flip. If it does not flip easily, it needs to cook about a minute longer. After flipping, cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove from pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Continue until all of the batter is used, with paper between each layer. The ideal result is to get the crepes a little crispy and not totally soft.



Apr 11

Mac OS X Lion: 8 More Reasons to Move off Windows

The next version, 10.7, of the Apple operating system for the Mac, called OS X Lion, is planned for release in July 2011. Mac OS X Lion now makes it more compelling than ever to migrate to the Mac platform, here are 8 reasons why:

1. Application Distribution and Management

The App store capability comes to the Mac in the form of the Mac App Store. This functionality has already been made available as an update and will be part of the Lion release.

The trend towards using specific Apps, be it on an iPhone, iPad or on a Mac will continue as users demand the same Apps on their different devices. One example is Evernote (evernote.com) which provides a note taking App for the iPhone, iPad and now the Mac.

2. Intuitive and Consistent User Experience

The Lion release also contains new functionality, that brings all the best features of the iPad to the Mac. The new capabilities are:

Launch Pad, which provides a single place from which to manage and find all your Applications, just like on the iPad.

Full Screen Apps, allows Apps to take over the entire screen, allowing a user to concentrate on a single application. Again, this feature is taken from the iPad.

Mission Control, replaces the previous Expose function and combines it with Spaces and the Dashboard to provide one place from where you can see everything that is running on your Mac.

3. Human Computer Interaction

The multi-touch gesture feature on the iPad has been a huge hit with users. The intuitive, touch based method of interacting with the iPad is now part of the Mac. By further enhancing the trackpad functionality, the touch interface with additional gestures provides a much more natural way of interacting with your computer. The mouse is now longer required!

4. File Management

Taking the cue again from the iPad experience, Lion includes an Auto Save and Resume capability. Applications that make use of this new feature will allow for documents to be saved automatically.

The above capability, together with a new feature called, Versions, will allow for the evolution of a document to be recorded as the user works on the content. A version is taken every hour and can be easily retrieved using the Time Machine like interface.

5. Profile Management

With the proliferation of iOS devices there is a clear need for a management capability. The new Profile Manager allows for easier configuration and management of Mac and iOS device users. The Profile Manager integrates with existing directory services such as Active Directory.

6. File Sharing and Security

Further evidence of improved integration with iOS devices is delivered via a new feature called AirDrop. This feature allows you to send files wirelessly to another Mac or iOS device.

Lion also provides a new level of security through XTS-AES 128 bit data encryption at the disk level. The added security is fast and unobtrusive and works in the background.

7. Windows Migration Assistant

Apple has always provided assistance to Mac users upgrading to a new computer. With Lion, there is a specific Migration Assistance that connects to a Windows PC over a network, allowing for easier migration from an existing Windows PC.

8. Built in Server

The inclusion of OS X Server as an integrated product with every copy of Lion, is a bold move from Apple. This addition alone, will save $499 for Mac users.

A full server capability can be easily setup using the new Server Setup feature in Lion. All the usual services such as user management, push notification, file and printer sharing, calendar, mail, contact management, VPN and Wiki servers are now available with very Mac.

One Last Thing

Apple is also providing enhanced support to small businesses through a new service called, Genius Joint Venture. Customers will receive priority support at the Apple store Genius Bar and also via a new support telephone number.

With Mac OS X Lion, Apple has made some bold and innovative changes. The tight integration with iOS devices and the move towards a unified, consistent user experience, will ensure that Mac OS X continues to win over Windows users.


Feb 11

The Apps Era Has Arrived

A Clear Trend – The Apps Era

I’m going to be rather bold and declare that we’re now entering an App based model for business computing. Apple recently achieved 10 billion downloads from the App Store, a key milestone in my view.

There are thousands of Apple Apps available that help you to do just about anything these days. From entertaining you, making it easier to shop, monitoring your health, finding your flight or train to showing you how to tie a tie, yes there is an App even for that!

The key factor driving the Apple Apps trend is the iPhone and iPad. The defining characteristics being ease of use, automatic software distribution and updates and a solid foundation for 3rd parties to develop compelling Apps.

The rapid adoption of Apps by consumers has resulted in many organisations reacting tactically and has shown the need for a cohesive Apps strategy for business.

The Foundations for Success

What is meant by “App” or “Apps”? How did all this talk of Apps start?

An App is a piece of software that resides on a device. It combines the quick response and immersive functionality that is possible with a non-web based program with the manageability and ease of distribution provided by web applications.

It was really the ability for developing Apps on the iPhone and the creation of the App store concept that set the foundation for the incredible success of Apple Apps to date.

On July 10, 2008, Apple announced the App Store and Steve Jobs explained the concept during the keynote presentation. “This is the biggest launch of my career,” said Jobs.

Then a year later, Jobs said: “The App Store is like nothing the industry has ever seen before in both scale and quality. With 1.5 billion apps downloaded, it is going to be very hard for others to catch up.”

Building further on the success of Apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, Apple announced on October 20, 2010 that an App store will be launched for Mac applications. This brought the Apps capability full circle. The ease of use, managed Apps distribution, multi-touch and similar features of the iOS will be made available on the next release of Max OS X, called Lion.

This certainly marks the beginning of the Apps era.

The Impact of Apps on your Business

The demand for Apps has been driven by users themselves. After experiencing the benefits and ease of use of Apps on the iPhone, checking the weather, flight times or using maps, customers and internal users are increasingly demanding Apps.  IT departments in businesses of all sizes are having to respond to this demand.

The real impact of Apps has been to bring specific functionality to the Apple devices that allows for a truly useful mobile experience. A great example is the software from a company called Incentient (www.incentient.com) that have an application called SmartCellar. This iPad solution allows restaurants and hotels to convert the often dull paper based wine lists into a more pleasant, interactive form, that provides a much better wine selection experience for the customer resulting in increased wine orders.

Apple has a great site that provides some inspiring examples from companies large and small that are reaping the benefits of Apps. Check out www.apple.com/iphone/business/profiles/archive.html for iPhone related examples and www.apple.com/ipad/business/profiles/ for iPad examples.

You may already have a few Apps for your business or want to develop your first App, defining a clear Apps strategy is worth the time upfront. Where do you start?

Key elements of an Apps Strategy

The key success factor for any technology led initiative is business alignment. Ensuring that the capabilities of the App is aligned to a specific business objective is essential. An externally focused business outcome could be an increase in orders from new customers through better brand awareness. Reducing the cost of order processing by removing duplicate data entry, is an example of an internally focused business outcome.

Branding, graphic design and human experience interaction are all elements of the creative aspect of Apple Apps. These elements are not to be ignored. Apple sets the bar high with regards to the end user experience. The seamless merging of creative design with software engineering is a key distinguishing feature of the Apple platform. The focus on creative design is an important foundation stone for any worthwhile App strategy.

This leads to a related success factor. That of ‘process’. Defining a clear process that will allow for the creative team to work closely with the software development team is also important. A common process or at the least a shared understanding of how the different teams will work and interact will ensure you get the best from your investment in Apple technology.

Deciding to develop Apps using an internal team or to partner with an external specialist company also forms part an Apps strategy. Many Apps development companies come from either a creative background or a pure software development one. Choosing one with a combination of both skills can accelerate and compliment internal teams.

Apps are now maturing quickly with customers, internal and external, demanding more functionality. This often means that the next stage of an Apps evolution is to access legacy systems. For example, allowing customers to place orders directly or see the status of their orders requires the App to connect to the order management system. An Apps strategy, therefore also needs to address the following:

  • How are legacy systems to be accessed?
  • Which functions (API’s) are to be made available as reusable services?
  • What are the common standards for security, logging and auditing to be followed?

The above questions need to be clearly defined as part of the technical strategy related to Apps.

Looking Ahead

The above elements are the key areas to address as part of any Apps strategy. While the Apps concept has certainly gone mainstream and has wide spread adoption with consumers, they are still in the first phases of the adoption cycle for businesses.

There are already many inspiring examples of innovative App usage and with the advent of the Mac App store, the benefits of the Apple Apps platform will only be multiplied. There is clear evidence that Apps are here to stay and will form an important part of any business strategy.

Ensuring success will depend on the ability of organisations to successfully merge the creative design that Apps allow together with the require software engineering needed to create truly ground breaking Apps that contribute to the bottom line.

Nov 10

iPad Blogging using WordPress, Writer and PadPress

Why Blog using the iPad? A combination of factors make blogging using the iPad very appealing. Building and maintaining a loyal audience, be they existing customers, partners or people simply enjoying reading your Blog, is a key element for a successful business blog.

First, let’s look at what some of the main requirements are, for blogging while on the go.

Mobility is top of the list. Having a way to capture your thoughts, quickly and easily whenever you have time is essential. You want to be ready when you’re inspired to write!

Next is ease of use. Being able to write a series of paragraphs quickly, with a focus on high quality content, makes for a more attractive Blog.  You don’t want the App you’re using to be featured laden and get in the way of you capturing your thoughts and ideas.

Thirdly, quick and easy access to your Blog is also important. Writing a great Blog entry and not being able quickly update your Blog loses the appeal of being able to communicate with your audience while on the move.

How well does the iPad match the above mobile Blogging requirements?

The size,weight, instant-on capability and touch keyboard together with long battery life, certainly easily meet the mobility requirement. Excellent Wi-Fi and 3G support means you can update your Blog whenever you have internet access.

Experience with iPad Apps for Blogging

For ease of use, I found the following Apps more than capable of providing the necessary tools to capture my thoughts and update my Blog.

An App called IA Writer from Information Architects together with WordPress for the iPad  and the Padpressed Plugin were the apps I used to create and manage my blog.

IA Writer (from informationarchitects.jp)

The description is in the name of the App. The key design theme permeating the App is on removing clutter so that you can focus on just writing.

IA Writer for the iPad

By removing all extraneous features and allowing the user to easily concentrate on the words needed for the Blog, I found the clean design very effective.

Especially useful features are the auto save and clear crisp fonts, ideal for the iPad display. I managed to type 500 words over a 4 hour train journey when writing parts of this article.

Information Architects, the creators of this App took a very minimalist approach to creating this App. The results in my view are very impressive. The clean design works very well for the iPad.

WordPress (wordpress.org) for iPad

The WordPress (wordpress.org) App for the iPad is version 2.6.1. The Remote Writing (XML-RPC) setting on your WordPress Blog needs to be switched on in order to use the App. The App itself is well designed and allows for easy creation and updating of Blog entries.

Writing large amounts of text is not ideal using the WordPress App. A straight copy and paste of text into the WordPress App, proved more effective.  The ability to use the Writer App to publish straight to WordPress would be a useful feature.

PadPressed (padpressed.com) Plugin for WordPress

This plugin resides on your WordPress server. It costs $49 for a single user license. The plugin allows your WordPress Blog to look and feel like a native iPad App.

A similar effect to using the FlipBoard App (flipboard.com) is achieved when the PadPressed plugin is activated on a WordPress Blog.  I found the installation and setup straightforward and was up and running in a matter of minutes.

An Immersive Blogging Experience

The  immersive experience that you get when using the iPad is unlike any other device. The ability to block out distractions and quickly and easily just focus on getting your thoughts on paper, so to speak, is refreshing.

Especially these days, when it’s far too easy to get distracted by quick access to your various social and work related information feeds. The combination of IA Writer (informationarchitects.jp) and the WordPress (wordpress.org) iPad App is winning combination for Blogging on the move.

This more immersive and interactive experience can also be extended to your audience by using the PadPressed plugin (padpressed.com). The plugin easily allows you to target iPad owners and enables you to create a Blog that is much more visual and interactive. This immersive magazine like experience together with great content will continue to ensure your readers keep coming back to your Blog, which is what you strive for at the end of the day.

What do you use for writing using the iPad? Let me know what Apps best works for you.

Oct 10

The Apple iPad – Open for Business

iPad ready for business

The iPad was initially launched as a device targeting the consumer market. Many commentators and pundits refer to it as a media consumption device. Apple themselves call it a magical and revolutionary product, with typical Apple hyperbole. Although, after a few minutes of use, it certainly feels magical and the reaction it’s caused has been something of a revolution.

Exactly how much of a revolution? iPad sales are one important indicator. Apple releases sales figures during its quarterly financial reports. The list below shows the dates and totals of Apple’s announcements of iPad sales.

21 July  2010 – 3.27 million
31 May 2010 – 2 million
3 May 2010 – 1 million
8 April 2010 – 450,000
5 April 2010 – 300,000

Considering that the iPad was launched on April 3, the sales figures are record breaking. Updated sales figures will be released during the October 18, Apple fourth quarter results announcement.

The other indicator of a revolution is the rush of recent press releases from other vendors, describing their entry into the tablet device market. No one wants to get left behind in the race to dominate this newly created category.

While tablet computers have been around for many years, Apple, I feel, have redefined this category. The tablet computer category of old, as defined by Microsoft, tried to squeeze the Windows operating system into a tablet format. While the Windows tablet found modest success in niche markets, it was not a mass market success.

Apple has with the release of the iPad, shown that there is a market for a tablet like device, especially for web browsing, watching movies, listening to music and reading electronic books. In addition there is an ever increasing range of 3rd party applications, or Apps, as they are fondly called, being developed for the iPad.

While all the attention has been on the iPad as a consumer device, it’s the steady adoption by businesses that has been most surprising. Even Apple, who for many years, have all but ignored the business market, outside of specialist creative and media niches, has recently showcased the iPad for business use.

Mercedes Benz, Hyatt Hotels, Wells Fargo and SAP are some of the larger organisations that are testing out the iPad enterprise wide.

In the UK, Lloyds of London, the insurance brokers are conducting a pilot program, where the iPad will replace the mainly paper based workflow that the insurance broker currently uses. I was at a meeting recently at a UK Building Society, who are investigating using the iPad for board meetings.

I have started noticing an increasing number of people starting to use the iPad during meetings or at conferences. While there are some limitations, the iPad certainly works well as a replacement for using a notebook in a meeting.

The commonly held view that the iPad is only for consumer use and mainly a niche entertainment device is incorrect, in my opinion. I believe that the iPad is poised to take the business world by storm.

Building on the solid foundations established for the iPhone, the iPad is really the first mobile computer designed from the ground up to be operated by touch. For anyone that requires Netbook like computing capability with a higher degree of mobility, then the iPad is ideally suited to that. Apple will no doubt make the iPad lighter, faster and more capable with future versions.

Businesses are always looking for ways to improve efficiency. Any area of a business that has a manager walking about, a sales person showing customers the latest car, an estate agent required to provide quick details to a client will see the value of using an iPad.

Then there is the untapped potential. The many new use cases for a device like the iPad, yet to be fully realised, will further increase it’s adoption by business users.

Sep 10

Apple TV 2010 – An Accessory for your HDTV

The new Apple TV

After months of speculation, Steve Jobs, in his legendary  ‘One last thing’ section of the 1 September keynote, unveiled the new Apple TV, or Apple TV 2010 as I like to call it.

My prediction in the last blog post was wrong. Apple did reveal a new Apple TV device and it’s a big change from the previous version. The major change is the move away from the Apple TV being viewed as a media centre. In all fairness, Apple never positioned the older Apple TV as such, always regarding it as an experiment, a hobby as Steve Jobs always says.

The new version is priced at £99, certainly falling into the high-end accessory category. Without a hard disk, the new device takes a radical departure from the old version.

The new Apple TV is best thought of as an accessory  for your HDTV. What the 2010 Apple TV does is provide a device that in effect converts your HDTV into an Apple TV i.e an iOS device. With the HDTV always being the centre of attention in any living room, board room or meeting room, Apple TV allows that high definition wide screen to smoothly join the Apple eco system.

This ecosystem is the Mac, iPhone and iPad. With the addition of a new capability called AirPlay, Apple allows for media stored on any of the Apple products to be streamed to your HDTV. Apple, is taking one step closer to the vision of having all media stored in a Cloud and then accessible on any device. No need for a dedicated set-top box.

There is still however a need for a media centre capability, a place to store and manage your content, while the big Cloud vision is being implemented. I’ve been looking into the new Mac Mini, together with a product called Plex, which provides some compelling functionality for a media centre.

The possibilities for using the Apple TV together with the iPad and either a Mac Pro or Xserve to deliver media content are certainly worth exploring. Imagine having all company podcasts, internal training, videos and similar content delivered seamlessly on the iPad or HDTV.

Aug 10

Will the iTV be announced on 1 September?

iTV? If you’re in the UK, you’re probably already thinking about iTV, the domestic broadcaster. Fear not, Apple is not taking over iTV!

Apple 1 September 2010 Event

Apple announces 1 September Music Event

The now annual Apple music event, which usually focused on the iPod, is taking place on the 1 September 2010. The various Apple related blogs have been predicting that Steve Jobs  will announce a long overdue update of the Apple TV at the event. Many blogs also reported that Apple plan to rename the device previously know as Apple TV to iTV. This will bring the device in line with the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad naming convention that Apple uses.

The Apple TV, which was officially announced in early 2007, has sold over a million units since it launched. Despite the initial success, Apple does not actively market the device and continues to refer to the Apple TV as a hobby. Since it first launched, the Apple TV, which strangely enough was originally going to be called iTV, has only received minimal attention from Apple. There have been minor updates to the FrontRow software since first launched. FrontRow is an Apple application that allows media to be accessed on a TV using the Apple remote.

In it’s current form, the Apple TV, runs a stripped down version of Mac OS X 10.4.7, which together with a specific implementation of the Apple FrontRow application provides the core software that drives the Apple TV. This means that Apple currently maintains 4  Mac OS X based operating system flavours, the other 3 are  Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server and the recently named iOS (used to be called iPhone OS).

It’s not difficult to conclude that having Apple TV run iOS makes alot of sense. This change will bring the Apple TV in line with the other Apple devices. It also opens up the Apple TV to the whole Apps universe. Currently the Apple TV cannot be modified to run other applications besides FrontRow.

There does exist a niche group of dedicated Apple TV fans, that have released software to workaround the Apple TV limitations. These workarounds or “Hacks” as they are referred to, allow Apple TV owners to use the device as a more fully functional media centre. These diehard fans have proven that a market does exist for an enhanced Apple TV device.

My prediction is that Apple is not quite ready yet to announce a new Apple TV.