AMITIAE - Monday 25 January 2016

Cassandra: Monday Review - True words Spoken in Jest

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Tomorrow is the day when Apple announces its report for the first financial quarter of 2016. As this does include the holiday periods, it is usually one of the best each year. With the financial markets on a down-swing (now beginning to recover) and all manner of speculation about the sales of iPhones, Apple has been taking hits on all sides. The shares fell, along with the rest of the market; and then fell again because of the speculation surrounding iPhones and the problem that many analysts only see Apple as a one-product company.

In an attempt to put the noise in some context, Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Fortune showed who was predicting what: a sort of for and against list. He followed that today with another item in which it appears that Wall Street has shifted slightly and the consensus now expects Apple to beat its guidance, but narrowly. Apple is always just within or just ahead of what it said it would be, so all the noise, speculation and negative reports are a waste: unless you are selling financial advice that is.

Blood pressure One who was not included in the list is a constant negative: Michael Blair derides again. I actually thought the article was following the path that Philip Elmer-DeWitt had taken, until I saw his name. The article "Estimates Of Apple's Q1 All Over The Map - Investors May Need A Map Out Of The Confusion" fails to find that map and begins with the usual negatives while criticising other writers on Seeking Alpha who disagree with him. Find it yourself.

He does make one true statement: Someone will be proven wrong. After a couple of years of Blair providing consistently wrong advice, misreading the statistics, giving erroneous technical information and sneering at a commentator, I guess he does not think it is Blair himself.

Just to repeat some information I included before the weekend, that Blair must either have missed (accuracy?) or ignored, Jack Purcher on Patently Apple reminds us that sales of iPhones in India had exceeded 800,000 for the October-December quarter: "significant growth".

The actual date and time of the announcement from Apple is 2:00 p.m. PT / 5:00 p.m. ET, which will translate into about 5am Wednesday morning here and I will be in my bed. There will be a live conference call as usual. As Wednesday is the day my weekly column in the Bangkok Post goes out, I will add some of the press release to that: it will be in my mailbox by the time I wake up. Later in the day I will look through the other comments and reports and may be tempted to write something.

It pays not to have knee-jerk reactions sometimes. Over the weekend it was noted that the head of Apple's car project was leaving for personal reasons. Many outlets began to presume that there were problems, but a report carried by several outlets late Sunday suggest that may not be true.

Writing on Patently Apple, Jack Purcher comments on the recent visit of Daimler-Benz head, Dieter Zetsche, to Silicon Valley where, he said later, he was surprised by the progress in their projects made by both Google and Apple [my italics]. While earlier Zetsche had been dismissive and rejected involvement, the tune has now changed and "There were concrete talks."

On the other hand, there was a problem at the Foxconn main iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, China Sunday night when a fire in the central air conditioning area spread to several floors (Ben Lovejoy, 9to5 Mac).

Apple shares are currently just over $100.

cloudy view

Over the weekend there was considerable speculation about a new smaller screen iPhone that was being predicted for release late spring. Seth Weintraub writes on 9to5 mac that Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI has put out an investor note that is pessimistic on iPhone sales, treating the unannounced iPhone 5se as if it were proven fact and also thinks the iPad Air 3 (another product not yet announced) will also not sell well. He is however, optimistic about the new MacBooks coming in the first half of the year.

I love the certainty of the analyst who has been known to be wrong a few times in the last couple of years, although that does not stop him or others from such wild speculations. Although he is rated as perhaps the most accurate of the seers, Chris Rawson notes that in 2013, "approximately half of Kuo's predictions ultimately turn out to be either partially or substantially incorrect." Still, that is better than Michael Blair.

I was chatting to my mother over the weekend who tells me that the mood in the UK against the EU is quite strong. It appears it is almost only the politicians and big business who want to remain in Europe, and many ordinary folks are annoyed at having the impression that the country is run from Brussels. Some of the stance is probably also due to the influx of refugees to Europe and a growing anti-Muslim feeling there and in Europe where some member states are now planning to reintroduce border controls. She stunned me when she said that all the members of the gold club are in favour of the Brexit, although tempered that by saying that the dinosaurs were gone and the membership now has a more egalitarian flavour.

Which way?

To show how progressive politicians in the UK are thinking, the Prime Minister announced at the weekend that if technology companies hire personnel from outside the EU, they could "be forced to pay £1,000-a-year for every skilled worker" they employ (Boomshape). This would mean a 5-year contract for an expert from Silicon Valley would cost a company £5,000 before they started. At the moment this is only an idea floating round in someone's head, and it would apply to other sectors too.

I am not sure if Twitter is becoming more egalitarian but there have been so many changes of late that it seems to be in danger of falling apart: or being snapped up by an outside organisation. Heaven forbid Murdoch should buy it: in about 10 minutes it would be as valuable as MySpace. Jon Fingas on Engadget reports that some more top execs from Twitter are heading out the door, including "senior engineering VP Alex Roetter, global media VP Katie Jacobs Stanton, product VP Kevin Weil and Vine leader Jason Toff." Only some are voluntary departures.

I was only joking, but after comments in a series of direct messages on Twitter this morning about the Surface Pro, I was back on one of my old hobby-horses and the need for Microsoft to dump is legacy Windows and redraw the whole thing with a Unix base. I don't know how I had missed it, but I was sent a link to a September 2015 Wired article by Cade Metz, about Microsoft's Linux version. Redmond is using it "to run at least some of the networking hardware that drives its online services."

The local user who sent the link to me had a chuckle and wrote, "Poor MS. They can't out-Google Google and they can't out-Apple Apple." Many a true word is spoken in jest.

A useful tip from Christian Zibreg on iDownload about exporting images from Photos. If you click and drag, the export is of a recompressed JPG file, but the tip tells us that if the Option key is used, then the original parameters will be preserved. Absolutely right: I tried this with a RAW image in Photos. When I dragged the image out, it appeared on the desktop as a JPG file, but when I used the Option key, the NEF file was in the Finder.

Ah, that magic Option key. I found another use for this earlier when trying to make a Keynote presentation and I wanted the constant Π - I was using the iPad Pro and that has the spiffy Apple keyboard, so I tried Option + P, which also works in the text editor I use to write this.

iPad Pro Keyboard

I was pleased to see that among the updates I have downloaded in the last few days, Comic Book has now been optimized for the iPad Pro: more apps are being developed for the larger device as the screen size and specifications seem to make more sense to some.

I am not much of a fan of Donald Rumsfeld whose political decisions, with others, may have cost us all a lot. I was always particularly annoyed by his Old Europe comments in the build-up to the Iraq War: "You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't," he said. "I think that's old Europe." On the other hand he took a lot of flak for his comment,

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know (BrainyQuotes).

To many it sounded like gobbledegook, but it is actually quite accurate in the field of intelligence

Rumsfeld has been in the news this weekend for a different reason and is named as one of thise responsible for a new strategy game, Churchill Solitaire that uses the difficult twin-pack game of Solitaire that the wartime leader used to play as part of its process. It starts with some original footage of Churchill that users can skip and asks users to sign up to Game Center, and then there is the start screen with options. I have yet to play this.

Churchill Solitaire

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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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