AMITIAE - Friday 8 June 2012

Cassandra: Friday Review - The Weekend Arrives

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Opening Gambit:

Apple rumours: new MacBook Pro and others. Coincidental 4G test at Moscone center this week. New model part numbers sighted. App updates. Problems at Foxconn: 1,000 riot (no Apple content). Patent comments. Apple friendly changes at Samsung. Facebook will disappear. Facebook app store announced. Ray Bradbury dies. Change top iPV6: nothing happened. Email at local university: nothing happening. Local news: venture capital from SingTel; Internet censorship in Thailand; and a Thai insurance company buys 300 iPads.

Apple Stuff

Among the rumours surrounding Monday's WWDC there has been the probable update to Macs. We expect the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air ranges to be part of the new look (if that is what it is), although some changes may be more modest. There are three other models that come into consideration: the MacPro, the iMac and the Mac mini.

There has been a petition of sorts running on Facebook for a few weeks that has been sending a message to Apple (the posters claim) that the MacPro is overdue an update and lots of users want to see this. Now we read on AppleBitch that this is one of the computers in line for a Monday announcement, although quite what we may get is unclear. The article cites three new model numbers as support. My own guess is that if there is a redesign, then this will have a smaller form factor than the current, hefty computers.

One thing, however, is that -- if the MacPro is updated at WWDC -- that will not be because of an online forum. The time it takes to decide, design (or redesign) and test would mean this has been in the pipeline for months.

It is not just new numbers for the MacPro apparently. Electronista reports that "an expanded list of part numbers" would appear to support rumours we wrote about earlier in the week that lots of new Macs could be on the way. There are 14 revised numbers, while Apple lists 20 models. Do the maths, eh?

There have been lots of rumours of late about the next iPhone, but one which sounds feasible (sort of) is the metal back, which surfaced in a video, Chris Oldroyd reports on iMore. Also shown are a slimmer case, a new dock connector and a headphone jack on the bottom.

And there is also a posting about the long-rumoured 7" iPad including a video of that we see on a blog called Zoogue which calls it the iPad nano. Like the rumoured iPhone (above) this has the new dock connector. What we appear to have here is a device that could be for Apple, with the 3G antenna cover missing, but it is clearly marked "iPad." Dunno. . . . We will find out Monday. My source for this was MacDaily News.

Just a coincidence we are sure, but several sites, including Rene Ritchie on iMore, are excited by a test of 4G services that T-Mobile just happens to be running this week, and just at the WWDC location of the Moscone Center West. How about that? I wonder if Apple will use it for anything. . . .

It must be a laugh a minute at Dell who are shrinking, although not at the same pace as RIM. With a chairman who thought that Apple shares should be sold off, we now read -- in an item by Brian Corrigan on Financial Rewview -- of their Australian MD who says that the iPad is not fit for business. And of course, the Dell one is. A recent test of suitability for a number of tasks, has a local insurance company (see below) disagreeing with Mr Kremer.

I just don't understand one of the quotes in the article. Kremer says, "If you are giving a presentation and something fails on the software side it might take four days to get it up and running again." Having given a presentation on Thursday using the iPad and running the Remote app from the iPhone I don't actually think failure is in the equation. As well as editing overnight from a number of sources, I discussed one slide with a colleague who directed me to his Facebook page for a better photograph of the equipment. I saved that and incorporated it into the slide in about 4 seconds, not 4 days. These sound like the comments of someone who has never used an iPad. My original source was MacDaily News.

There are bound to be comments about events in China this week when about 1,000 workers rioted. Security tried to detain one of them for theft and a group came to help but with tensions apparently high over other things at the factory, the whole thing escalated, we read on MacDaily News. The interesting comment in the news concerns, "some existing grudge" although it is not know what this might be: over-enthusiastic security, hours, payments? All speculation but look for some biased interpretations.

The Register did have a follow up on this and if they cannot make anything against Apple out of it, there is nothing to be had. Three main points emerge from the item by Anna Leach: the workers were in dispute with a restaurant owner; the particular dormitories were 3rd party owned and not run by Foxconn; and the security guards were not Foxconn's either. Move along please, nothing to see here.

I saw an article on AppleInsider by Mikey Campbell this week and he reports on a projection from IDC that suggests Windows phone will surpass the iPhone by 2016. Apart from the meaninglessness of this when MS sells software and Apple sells hardware, MS is expected to be installed on handsets from several carriers when the iPhone is, well, the iPhone. By 2016 (or maybe as soon as 2013) Apple may well have something else that will be projected to surpass Windows phone by 2017. Note, I am not shooting the messenger here, although there are bound to be lots more blogging messengers who run with scary headlines. Anyone seen Rob Enderle recently (See below)?

Early in the week I put out a small item concerning phishing: an email purporting to come from LinkedIn (it certainly did not) had a link to enable a user to reset the password, and the link went to a server in Utah. That email may have been perfectly timed as several sites had the information that there has indeed been a massive theft and compromising of LinkedIn passwords. Jeff Carlson on TidBits is one of those who has useful information about this and provides a link to check if you are a victim. I checked and am OK. Another article on this by Chris Velazco on Tech Crunch tells us that LinkedIn is looking into it.

I also saw that with the latest update to the LinkedIn app (5.0.3), there were reported to be "improvements in calendar". There had been some criticism that the app accessed and sent some data from the calendar on the iOS devices in a way that might have been in contravention of Apple's rules. Apart from a mention in Jeff Carlson's article, the calendar problems with LinkedIn were also featured in an item by Josh Ong on AppleInsider.

When I arrived home on Thursday, I checked iTunes and found that there was a new version of Foursquare available. Now at version 5.0 there has been a total change to the app and there are several more features, including seeing where your friends are. I think I might turn that off: I sometimes don't want everyone to know where I am out shopping. I am not sure about the changes, but on Tech Crunch, Colleen Taylor has comments from Dennis Crowley of Foursquare on the new formats and what it all is for.

Half and Half

With the way patent law and decisions are going, it is going to happen sooner or later that some important US product is banned in the US. With a case concerning Google patents that might apply to products from Apple and Microsoft, the possibility that this could happen reared its head last week. The Federal Trade Commission has gone to bat however and has expressed its concerns about the ITC decision concerning Motorola/Google patents and the effects this might have we are told by Foss Patents who includes the 5-page letter and an explanation of what it all means.

As part of the commentary, Florian Mueller points out that buying Motorola has inserted Google into several patent disputes, but not all are being decided in Motorola's favour and it is viewed by some that Google is playing with fire, particularly with regard to import bans. Instead of a way to control the market, or to get back at other corporations (especially Apple and Microsoft) Google may have opened Pandora's box.

Another Pandora's box could be opened by the granting of a patent to Apple for the teardrop design of the MacBook Air, Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider. Yes, distinctive and there was nothing like it when it was rolled out in January 2008, and not just on the outside. Now what about those clones? . . .

A changing of the guard at Samsung with new CEO and other moves in the hierarchies, has been seen (in part) as a sort of response to Apple related litigation with Slash Lane reporting for AppleInsider that the new boss could be Apple-friendly. Will this bring all that court work to a close? Only the lawyers will hope not.

Other Matters

Rob Enderle? Yes, I caught a scare-style article by him this week on Forbes of all places about Facebook (again) bringing in Oracle and in the end saying nothing we have not already seen 100 times already. Forbes, for heaven's sake.

But none of that really matters according to a report covered by Lance Whitney as Facebook will disappear in a few years anyway, claims Ironfire Capital founder Eric Jackson. 5 - 8 years he says, like Yahoo and MySpace. Whitney is not wholly convinced and points out that is is fashionable to point the fickle finger of fate at Facebook. Wait and see, he suggests.

Author Ray Bradbury died this week aged 91. He had a remarkable output, but for me his ost famous books was Fahrenheit 451 (which is the temperature at which paper burns). Some of those ideas appeared recently in The Book of Eli where near the end the book that was being protected was transcribed. One of the many tributes to Bradbury was by John Biggs on Tech Crunch.

Also artistic, and slightly connected to IT, is the news that it is the birthday this week of Damien Hirst we are told by Huffington Post in an article where some of his artwork is shown. He is one of those whose work is available on the site called [s]edition, where digital copies of the art are for sale. Buyers are able to download the art (the mobile art particularly looks better on iOS devices) and are also sent a certificate of ownership. I have a couple including one of Hirst's dots series.

The move to IPv6 happened this week and the lack of news suggests that any switching that went on, was problem free. Not so lucky have been a group of university teachers at a place I cannot name, who were told arbitrarily that their email accounts had all been changed, but they could use the old ones for a year as transition.

Some of the old ones had been used for many years and are known by people worldwide with whom they communicate; but there you go, a sysadmin makes a god-like decision and everyone bows down. The only problem is that neither the new accounts, nor the old ones worked and there is no communication, although some have resorted to Facebook.

Local Items

We were pointed towards an interesting article by Jermyn Brooks on Wall Street Journal on how Thailand stifles the internet. It starts by outlining that awful one tablet per child program and wondering just what content the children will be able to see and goes on to examine certain laws that are highly criticised with the way they may be abused. Some of the main body of the article does look at the dire nature of the internet in general here which may be less a victim of censorship as muddled control and inept systems administrators as the carriers try to milk the users for as much as they can. Sure there is censorship in there, but anyone who has been here a while is able to sidestep any controls as I have done in this paragraph.

I also no longer have online comments. This site does not have the software to support these, but when I used AMITIAE the problem was less one of entering content that might be deemed against any laws, as spam, advertising and the occasional bit of rudeness. Constructive criticism was mainly absent. The main problem with the internet here as far as business and investment is concerned is not so much that freedom of expression causes problems but the unreliability and slow speeds.

Mind you, this is also a country which has a Ministry of Culture that commands TV stations not to use straight people to play gays. I can think of several excellent Hollywood movies that might never have been made if that idiotic rule had been applied there. We could start with The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar as well as Total Eclipse, and Ed Wood. There must be thousands of movies, and we might also add in the English tradition of pantomime where the leading man is a girl and the leading man's mother is always played by a stout guy. It is acting dears, acting.

Singapore's annual PC show is running currently (opened Thursday) although this year Sony is absent. The Straits Times reports that this did not seem to affect numbers on the opening day.

There is also a computer show running in Bangkok at the Queen Sirikit center this weekend We read a report on Tech Crunch by Anthony Ha concerning a mobile ad exchange company called Nexage that raised $10 million mainly from the venture arm of SingTel, SingTel Innov8.

In an unconfirmed report, I am informed that a local insurance company, Bangkok Insurance, is to buy 300 3G + WiFi iPads from True. 50 are coming early with the rest due in a month or two. The iPads will be set up to enable the insurance agents to have access to information to help clients (who will also be able to look at the screens) and will also be available to the staff who attend road accidents, where they will be used as part of the reporting process, including the taking of photographs.

Late News

Facebook has a new App Center we are told by Eric Eldon at Tech Crunch.

Fed up with all the disinformation (others called it BS) from Apple and Samsung, the judge has cut the case down to some real basics and almost thrown the whole thing out. One last chance on Monday according to a report by Philip Elmer-DeWitt on CNN Money. More on this on The Verge (Nilay Patel).

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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