AMITIAE - Friday 23 December 2011

Cassandra - Friday Review: The Weekend Arrives

apple and chopsticks



Opening Gambit:

Steve Jobs' Grammy Award. iCloud development. An iPhone 4S joins my armoury. Lion update coming. Microsoft didn't jump, it was pushed out of CES we hear. Caveat Emptor: RIM. RIAA sites pirating music. S$350,000 data bill for careless SingTel who visited Taiwan.

Apple Stuff

While the late Steve Jobs did not make it to the cover of the Time person of the year, despite much pressure, he has been awarded a posthumous Grammy award. I thought Time was right with the decision not to use Steve Jobs as this would have been falling into the popularity trap, while the Grammy award, as reported by MacDaily News, does make more sense with the contribution that he and Apple made to music.

We like certain parts of iCloud and seem to be getting up to speed with the service now, although one or two bits, like Photostream and document sharing might be a bit better. We also miss some of the services of Mobile Me such as password synchronisation: that saved me on more than one occasion. Now we are told by Neil Hughes on AppleInsider that Apple are apparently ready to enhace the iCloud service and is hiring someone to create some new software: start with passwords, please.

We just got an iPhone 4S (see comments in Local Items below) and there have been lots of rumours about the iPhone 5. Actually, there were before the iPhone 4S too, but that is another matter. Now Neil Hughes (and others) is anticipating a real iPHone 5 and is examining how this may turn out in the next few months with sales expected to sail even higher than they did with the iPhone 4S that some still see as disappointing.

I may have got one iPhone, but the company that owns USA Today is apparently buying up iPhones and iPads for its reporters. AppleInsider tells us that they have "purchased thousands" top help journalists meet the demands of the new news cycle.

Earlier in the week we reported that Apple was selling some 37% of all smartphones in the UK, while not doing so well in Australia. Now Sam Oliver on AppleInsider tells us that the company is experiencing some growth in the US (and the UK) but not in the rest of Europe, partly because of pricing concerns.

Another seed of OS X 10.7.3 is being examined by developers and the pace is speeding up AppleInsider reports, suggesting that the upgrade will be with us soon. My guess is either this week or after the new year holiday.

A patent filing by Apple discovered this week is for fuel cell technology, but for a cost-effective embedded system built into an electronic device: weeks without a refresh Martin LaMonica suggests. The ones developed for cars (a Canadian company Ballard does this) are really big and chunky, but Apple has a thing about being thin.

When the two Steves were putting together the Apple 1 they wanted a manual printed and went to an agency. Mike Rose who ran it (but in the end did not get the printing job) wrote a note to his partner in which he describes Steve Jobs as hard bargaining and secretive. He also calls him, "flakey." AppleInsider has some comments on this as well as images of the note and makes some observations on values: economic and personal.

I picked up my new iPhone 4S on Thursday afternoon and spent part of that evening getting it sorted. The initial startup was fine and installing from the last backup, but all the apps were completely out of order and I had to put them back into something like the groupings I had before. I synced another new iPhone 4S at the same time on another Mac and that had all the apps exactly as they had been. But when I synced again, they were all back as they were in the first place. Weird. There were a couple of other things missing or changed, for example Twitter accounts were all locked, so I deleted the accounts and signed in again. That is where Keychain Access on the Mac is so helpful: finding all those passwords was easy.

I initially had problems with Siri. The feature turned on OK, but no matter what I asked, or how I asked it, there was no response even though I could see the gear wheels a-turning. The True Move connection was so slow it came to a halt at one stage in the middle of the evening on Thursday, so we restarted the router for the second time and then Siri did speak to me. As nice as I expected: "Thank you Siri".

"Just doing my job."

I also tried a couple of test photographs on the iPhone 4S camera: these were 3264 x 2448 (8MP) with file sizes of 2.56MB and 2.32MB. I exported the larger of the two to a full size 16-bit TIFF format file and that showed as a picture of some 48MB and was 45" x 34", albeit a little grainy as it was taken in not wonderful light conditions.

Half and Half

We read on Electronista that Google will be posting some of the tools it uses to manage its Macs.

After the ruling of the ITC court this week, HTC (confusing initials, eh?) has told everyone that they are testing a workaround -- Josh Ong reports on AppleInsider -- which is what was suggested to them a while back by Steve Jobs. HTC tried to minimize the importance of the infringement saying that technology was rarely used.

I guess we cannot think about Apple and Macs without remembering the way some of the dots were joined by the visits of Steve Jobs and Apple personnel to the Xerox PARC establishment where a rudimentary windows system and a basic pointing device were under development. The evolution of these into the Mac interface and the mouse were covered in the New Yorker a while back by Malcolm Gladwell. This week we hear, however, of the death of the man who founded PARC, Jacob Goldman. John Markoff reports on his life and the important developments surrounding PARC for the NYTimes.

Another useful tip from OS X Daily this week concerns batch resizing of pictures. William Pearson describes how to do this in Automator. I do not often use this application, but the few times I have I surprise myself by what I an do. The last time I made an app that would load up a web page for the AMITIAE site and exported it as an application for the desktop so we can see how a page looks on the iPhone screen.

Other Matters

We had a few giggles on Thursday when reading an item on Electronista about Microsoft and CES. We had heard earlier that Microsoft was pulling the plug and copying Apple by deciding to make its product announcements on its own schedule rather than have the show timeline dictate the announcements. Not so, say the Consumer Electronics Association, MS was kicked out of the keynote, so withdrew from booth space in retaliation.

Another giggle or two came when it was revealed -- as reported by Julie Kuehl on the MacObserver -- that the RIAA was caught in several acts of piracy, but when confronted used the "someone else did it" excuse that they have dismissed as valueless over the years when they have taken individuals to court.

We have been hard on him for what looked like his grandstanding over the Location data problems particularly when the name Apple came to the fore, but recently Al Franken has been looking at other aspects of privacy with the problems surrounding Carrier IQ. On the Verge, Nilay Patel interviews the Senator and it is worth reading.

We read that some interest had been expressed by Amazon and others in purchasing what is a fast-contracting RIM but that they had all backed away fairly quickly when they saw the problems that they might inherit. Roger Cheng writes a warning for anyone else interested: Back away slowly. In his article he looks at the suitors and the problems, suggesting that the best solution in the end may be breaking the company up and hanging on to the patents.

There is more (and more reason to stay away) as Roger Cheng reports later that the twin CEOs of RIM's claim that a chip delay was the reason the next platform is delayed may not indeed be the case; rather, it is because they still cannot do what every other tablet maker has managed: to get email on the platform, so you still have to carry around a Blackberry and a tablet.

Local Items

Like a lot of people I was without my phone on Wednesday from lunchtime to about 5pm when the DTAC network disappeared. Oddly, like others in the office where I work, those of us with pre-paid SIMS could make and receive calls from other networks, but the post-paid SIMS (my iPhone) were dead. Although the network came back late afternoon, I found nothing about this on the DTAC site. The Bangkok Post citing one of DTAC's execs: "the network collapse was due to the failure of its technical customer database system. This was caused by a move to upgrade its existing 2G network to the 3G system on high-speed packet access technology." At least they had a backup, even if it did take a few hours to install. We always wonder about redundant systems and why no one uses this more reliable approach to backups. It was also suggested that the company might have done better if it had carried out this update during the night.

My word, here's a warning for all of us. Daryl Chin on The Straits Times wrote about a SingTel customer who had a bill for S$350,000 for data roaming. We thought everyone was aware of the pitfalls when travelling abroad, but Kave Goh had connected to the wrong networks while in Taiwan.

Despite a relaxation in rules last week in the UK that allowed reporters (and others) to Tweet from a courtroom, the more serious Singapore courts will not be allowing this (for now) but will continue to monitor the popularity of social media we are told by K.C. Vijayan on the Straits Times. Gentlemen, social media has arrived; and Tweeting inside a courtroom is not much different than taking a short walk outside and making the same Tweet (although we might forget part of what we originally intended to send).



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