An unconventional approach to learning with iPad, Mac, and iPod touch.

May30

Students at the UK public school Flitch Green Academy use iPad, Mac, and iPod touch to create unique learning experiences.

The inspiration

Flitch Green is a public elementary/middle school located just outside of London. Read more

OS X Mountain Lion likely launch date: July 25

May22

Apple will launch OS X Mountain Lion July 25 if it repeats what it did last year when it announced the then-new Lion a day after its quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

Monday, Apple scheduled its next earnings call for 2:00 p.m. PT on Tuesday, July Read more

Amtrak Enlists iPhones as a Service Tool

May07

 Old-school train conductors are finally ready to give up their hole punchers to try something new: the iPhone.

Related

Amtrak, the government-owned corporation that oversees the nation’s railroad train services, has been training conductors since November to use the Apple handset as an electronic ticket scanner on a few routes, including from Boston to Portland, Me., and San Jose, Calif., to Sacramento.

By late summer, 1,700 conductors will be using the devices on Amtrak trains across the country, the company said.

With the new system, passengers will be able to print tickets or load a special bar code on their smartphone screens for conductors to scan, and conductors will be able to keep track of passengers on board, Amtrak said.

“You don’t even need to print the document and bring it with you,” said Matt Hardison, chief of sales distribution at Amtrak, who helped plan the iPhone program. “We’ve made a number of important improvements for both our customers and Amtrak, all in one fell swoop.”

Amtrak joins a growing number of businesses that are using mobile devices to improve operations. Some pilots are using iPads to replace flight manuals in the cockpit, a few police departments are experimenting with using iPhones to identify suspects, and doctors are using iPads to access patient records and X-ray charts.

A digitized check-in process for trains seems long overdue in a world of online concert tickets and flight reservations. But the industry faces a particular challenge in that passengers hop on and off at different platforms at different times, unlike at an airport, where people check in at one gateway to board a flight, and then stay there until the flight arrives.

The old manual ticketing process — punching a hole in the ticket, putting it in a pouch and then sending it to a central location, where it is eventually scanned and entered into a database — was not very good at tracking passengers on board because of the delay between when the ticket was checked and when it was processed.

With the new iPhone-powered system, conductors can monitor passenger check-ins in real time. That will help them manage seating: if there are passengers who don’t show up, for example, it will be easier to fill empty seats with other passengers.

“When it was all a manual system there was a lot of guesswork involved,” said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which contracts with Amtrak to operate the train service from Boston to Portland.

Each conductor’s iPhone is equipped with a case containing an extra battery and a bar-code scanner, and has a special app to scan tickets but also to do much more.

For example, with the app, conductors can indicate to the engineer if a disabled person is getting on at a particular stop so that Read more

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