AMITIAE - Monday 26 December 2011

Cassandra - Monday Review: It Will Soon be Friday

apple and chopsticks



Opening Gambit:

You would think it would be a bit quiet this week with the US and half of Europe shut down for the season. SOPA has livened things up slightly. Lots coming soon, we wager once January gets going. iPad and iPhone comments. SOPA and GoDaddy. News on music, downloads and purchasing: or not in this area. DTAC's mea culpa (or should that be nostra culpa)?

Apple Stuff

We are often annoyed by the limited services that Apple lets us access here. We know that iTunes has copyright issues beyond Apple's control, and we do get some parts, but like the non-availability of Apple's Cards application (see below), the loss of movie trailers is a bit hard to stomach. These were easily accessible through Front Row which was lost in the update to Lion, but some users hacked their installations, and back came the trailers. Other countries have easy access via iTunes, which is where we would expect to see these now; but not here of course.

Remember, it took years for Apple to open the gates to non-copyright podcasts and there has been no disaster from this (we could access these before but it meant an inconvenient link to another country's iTunes store: it was that simple really, so made less sense for us not to have podcasts. Movies?

They are there if you know where to look and the fact that there is no blocking (unlike, say, the BBC who know we are in foreign parts) suggests that there is no copyright problem, especially as we are able to see the same trailers on the movie companies' own sites. So why not via Apple and iTunes? Who knows: Apple sometimes makes zero sense.

But anyway, Happy Xmas, It is as simple as that.

As a note on things we do not get, Apple has apparently posted a note on iTunes Match availability and, according to Chris Oldroyd on TiPb, they forgot to mention Brazil.

We have not mentioned Horace Dediu for ages, which is a pity as his analyses are really useful. I was interested to see an item that may be loosely connected to what I have above concerning Apple's service availability in different countries. We see on ASYMCO the availability of TV shows on iTunes; of music on iTunes (recently updated with South America additions) and the countries where there are iTunes apps (and iPhones). These data may be significant when or if Apple does release a TV and it needs digital content.

I was talking to someone on Friday about the iPad and the way I rather like the way that some publishers have moved digital content to the platform with some success. While talking he was cursing his BlackBerry -- screen and keyboard both too small he said, which are things that many BlackBerry users insist RIM got right. One of the things I mentioned in the conversation was some news I had seen on Electronista that suggests Apple's Newsstand is actually increasing readership for some publications, for example Popular Science.

We now have the iPad 2 and can safely expect an iPad 3 soon, but a story by Slash Lane on AppleInsider suggests that Cupertino wants this released on 24 February which is Steve Jobs' birthday. As much as I rate highly what he did over several years, I do hope we are not in the process of deifying him.

While we are on the iPad, another country has gone over to the device for its elected officials with the Polish legislators about to switch to this we are told by MacNN, who also mention the Dutch senate did this too a short while ago. Not that this is coming soon in Thailand of course as everyone is going to be arguing about Apple or cheap Android tablets for the kids for a long time to come.

Half and half

We had read reports over the past couple of weeks that had everyone scared because the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) was after banning all use of smartphones in cars, but Andrew Wray on TiPb tells us that the Department of Transportation is not going to back this. Could anyone imagine such a ban in this neck of the woods? The ban on using phones while driving soon went out of the window: using a phone and making a gear-change means the driver has to let go of something.

Online Matters

We have mentioned SOPA in the recent past which did not make it into legislation -- at least not just yet. We are aware that some companies like Disney and the movie studios are all for it as it would cut off some of the sources of online piracy, but Google and others are against it as they might get caught up in the net with a search. T. C. Sottek on The Verge has an outline of what this Act (HR 3261) is all about, plus a link to an analysis with a lot of comments reported.

Also for SOPA is GoDaddy, whom you remember were in the news a while back when the head of the company shot an elephant in Africa and uploaded the video with a fair amount of gloating. We are told that they not only support the Act, but put their reasons online but turned off comments.

Almost immediately, sites started to withdraw their domain names from the host service, including a couple of large customers. By Friday, GoDaddy had apparently backed down we are told by Electronista and had reversed their position, but it is not known if this were enough or quick enough for some. By Saturday Drew Olanoff on The Next Web was reporting that GoDaddy was phoning customers begging them to stay and Drew is calling this a PR disaster. So was the elephant.

To give an idea of why he thought it was a disaster, Drew Olanoff followed up with some figures: like 21,054 lost domains on Friday for GoDaddy with a list of the previous four days shown too (8,000 lost on Monday). Drew suggests that this could have been better handled if the Comments had been left open. However, Dieter Bohn on The Verge (there seems to be a sort of rivalry between the Verge and the Next Web) has a look at the cancellation statistics and points out that while 21,000 domain names transferred away, about 20,000 transferred in and that overall, GoDaddy is gaining domains. Other factors are in play he suggests.

As a note, we read on Monday morning on Electronista that last week the Dutch parliament rejected a law that would have targeted downloading of music and movies. Uploading is different and sharing illegal content, as well as selling the illegal downloads, but the Dutch are taking the same pragmatic approach as the Swiss and are not dominated by the RIAA and like groups.

I had one of those sort of revelations over the weekend (nothing religious -- this concerns music). Every once in a while one of the podcasts I subscribe to comes up with something that makes me want to listen again immediately, find out more about the artists and buy the tunes. What is apparently the BBC's Group of the Year, Dry the River, certainly sent shivers down my neck on Saturday, so I set out to find out.

As if to underline the marginalization of MySpace these days, especially now that News International has sold it -- and at a great loss too -- I had some problems playing music on the Dry the River pages. It insists that the version of Flash I have is out of date, while Adobe tell me it is the latest version, and show the same version is current for Windows.

A shame that: until I hear the music, I am not going to buy it. Facebook had a few pics of Dry the River, while the group's own site linked me to iTunes and we knew where that was going to end, but YouTube were a touch more favourable towards my attempts and the video that stirred me into all this should be below. This is something I was never able to do with AMITIAE so we do have some advantages back over on eXtensions.

The lead singer can belt it out in a live performance too. (In some areas you will have to make a link to YouTube to see this).

With a complete 180 degree switch on Sunday, a mention by SP Somtow on a Tweet about Fagiolini's Striggio Mass in 40 parts (my tastes are somewhat eclectic) had me searching online for this, but I found no digital source apart from iTunes (again) or an Amazon link: equally as useful here.

Compounding this sense of frustration was an attempt to make an online purchase of a Modhaus Tabletop Studio for photographic work. All the details were entered in the online shop pages, except the country, which was a button. However, when I tried this, Thailand (as well as a number of other countries) was not listed. Readers may be aware that I use online purchasing a fair bit with stuff from Apple, that recent olloclip Quick Connect lens for the iPhone (which took only a few days to arrive), a book that is taking a little longer, plus all those digital downloads. . . . But not this photographic stuff. Needless to say, I dropped a note to the company within seconds of the red card -- Xmas Day or no.

I did manage to download a nice little postcard sending app for the iPhone and sent one of my own pictures by mail to a friend: Postcard Express I reviewed this week. This is fairly easy and sort of contrasts the nonsensical lack of availability here of Apple's Cards application (see notes on iTunes, Amazon and Modhaus above).

As an addendum to that last point, Kristy Korz on Geek Sugar writes about 19 services, including Cards and the iPhone app Postcard Express (above). Apart from the iPhone app, I do not know if any of them work here. Well, Cards doesn't.

Local Items

I read the Bangkok Post review on Sunday of the BlackBerry Torch 9860 by Richard McLeish. Technically the phones have always been OK, but surely there should have been more on the problems RIM is suffering? The company is so dysfunctional at the moment that there is no guarantee that it will keep running, nor can users be sure anymore of the security of their messages: Thai teenagers be warned.

We see that DTAC finally put out an apology on Thursday (22 Dec) for its network problems last Wednesday, although some were still suffering slowdowns a day or two later. The core of the press release was:

Dr. Darmp Sukontasap, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Total Access Communication PLC (dtac), said "We have been in the process of upgrading our system. On the night of 20 December and early yesterday morning, we were migrating our technical database from the old system to a new one. The database was also redistributed to the various Home Location Register (HLR) units. The technical team has been closely monitoring the network upgrade process. Unfortunately, there was a technical problem with one of the HLRs which affected a large portion of our customers in order to get theirs calls through. The network then became over congested during the day and affected almost the entire network."

"This incident is unexpected and unprecedented. All through this time, our technical team had been working hard to correct the situation and to address the root cause of the problem, as well as bringing the connection success rate up to the normal level. Due to such efforts, the situation began to improve after 1.30 pm and by 3.00 pm, the system began to stabilize. However, during the high traffic period around 5.30 to 6.30 pm, there was a drop in the connection success rate which the technical team quickly resolved the problem to ensure that there will be no recurrence of the problem."

"Once again, all of us at dtac would like to extend our sincere apologies to all our customers. We know that there is no way that we can make up for the time that is lost. Nonetheless, we would like to show responsibility by offering compensation to all our customers. All customers affected by this incident will receive an air time credit back on their local service staring from 12.00 hrs. on 20 December to 12.00 hrs. on 22 December, both for the pre-paid and post-paid customers".

We mentioned on Friday about a massive bill that A SingTel subscriber was handed -- S$350,000 -- because he linked to the wrong services while in Taiwan. Daryl Chin on the Straits Times writes that SingTel are saying blame those nasty foreigners: not our fault; not the customer's. Not sure.

I have been helping a former colleague who lives in Indonesia with diagnosis of a Mac he inherited from his father. With an invalid b-tree node reported, Disk Utility cannot handle this so it sounds as if it either needs something stronger or a new disk is round the corner. As an interim measure, he has reinstalled OS X but when I was making some suggestions as to what to put where, I was reminded that the user's Library is no longer visible in OS X 10.7, Lion. No matter a quick Google search found me what I wanted on OS X Daily and I fixed this with a few moments in the Terminal and did not even have to quit the Finder. Of course, as they remind us, we can always use the Finder's Go To Folder item (in Go).

Every time I say, "Thank you, Siri" I get a different reply.



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