eXtensions - Tuesday 27 March 2018


Cassandra - Tuesday Review: Apple Event, Dying Media and More

By Graham K. Rogers


This week sees an Apple eduction event in Chicago, which will take place a couple of hours after I go to bed. I will have a summary on this week's Wednesday File (tomorrow morning). Already the online stores are showing the usual, We'll be back panels. Unusually, Apple is not putting out a live feed. The AppleTV app for events was updated with this event's logo, which seems to imply some writing or drawing features are to be explored, but pressing this makes it clear that the transmission will only occurs after the event has ended. Fortunately a number of contributors are attending and that means there will at least be text feeds as it all unfolds.

Online store

As it is to be held at a school, pundits are suggesting two possibilities: a new iPad (or iPads); and something connected with education, such as "a new ClassKit framework for developers to make better apps for learning environments" (Benjamin Mayo, 9to5 Mac). This would fit with the already existing HealthKit and HomeKit frameworks, but this time with an emphasis on creating apps for education. That article by Mayo has several photographs of the initial setup over the weekend. It also suggests an announcement for a new MacBook, which (along with the iPad rumors I heard locally) makes much sense.

While this seems to be a normal event in the life of Apple, Bloomington (as they often do) make negative sounds about Apple's desperation in the light of supposed advances made by Google and Microsoft. Daniel Eran Dilger is having none of this and is in full attack mode in AppleInsider in what seems to be another salvo in a simmering series of disagreements about Mark Gurman's writing there.

News on Tuesday morning here (via a tweet from Rene Ritchie) informed us that Belkin, the well-known maker of accessories, has been acquired for $866 million by Foxconn (Belkin PR)

I have commented on a number of occasions about the dying newspaper industry (traditional TV is not far behind), which came home when the Bangkok Post had a major contraction and (for the second time) my Apple/Mac columns were put out to pasture. As it is not a critical part of my income, this has not been a major problem for me. I put out less content these days, preferring to focus on photography-related subjects; but I do miss the contact with Apple marketing personnel and the access to products.

Ihnatko When I went to the 2007 iPhone introduction, one of the more recognisable faces at MacWorld was Andy Ihnatko. I also saw Robin Williams, but he was reluctant to be photographed so I let him be. Ihnatko has been a major influence and a columnist worth considering for years, so it was a surprise (and a sad moment) when he announced that the Chicago Sun-Times was letting him go (Ihnatko). Ihnatko also has some alternative work, but would like something along the lines of what he was doing at the Chicago Sun-Times so contact him using the link. Actually, contact me too using the link below as I am also available.

The Chicago Sun-Times trimmed down a couple of years back when cutting the photography department, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, but to let such a well-known columnist go shows how desperate they must now be. It is only a matter of time that this journal (and many others) will have to change or die; but the change itself may be what kills it off.

As an aside, while I am having considerable success with the output from the iPhone X (both Apple Camera and RAW-capable apps), a report last week outlined the filming experience the actor Joshua Leonard had working on the Stephen Soderberg movie, Unsane which was shot entirely on the iPhone 7 in 4K.

He explains that although stabilisers were used by the director, who is cameraman too, some of the shots were hand-held, but with either method, in a comparison between normal cinematography cameras and the Apple device, the size of the latter means that it disappears. We are so familiar with smartphone technology that it essentially disappears: "it really gives you an opportunity to concentrate on your scene and your scene partner without being distracted by the big barrel of the camera staring at you" (Stephen Silver, AppleInsider)

I backup my devices almost religiously. I lost an earlier collection of photographs when my house was burgled and my 13" PowerPC was stolen. I had ot worried about backing up until then, so there is a sort of serves me right lesson there. Not now. I have several disks both at home and my office. They were joined recently by a 512GB SSD from Western Digital that transfers data really fast using USB-C. This is particularly noticeable with Time Machine when the SSD takes a couple of minutes, while my older 4TB RAID disk that uses Firewire 800 is much slower.

backup disks
WD 512 SSD (left) and Porsche Design Disk

This week I read about the world's (current) largest SSD that comes with 100TB of disk space, which I am probably never likely to need, but those who store massive video or photo collections might find useful, when it comes out (John Aldred, Photography). While there is no pricing for the Nimbus Data ExaDrive as yet and the device has not been released, the largest SSDs are 30TB and 60TB respectively, although these are not yet on sale either. The Samsung 15.36TB SSD model "currently sits at around the $10K price mark" (John Aldred).

A local reader sent me information about Apple's new watchbands, knowing how much I like these: my choice of band each morning depends on socks, shirt and/or belt. These are coming later this month, but it is not clear as yet of they will be on sale in all markets. I would love another leather strap or two (or three), but I think I need to keep something in reserve for the HomePod, if that does arrive here. Or that Nikon D850. . . .

I was actually expecting a dispute with the credit card company this month and have had to make plans to allow for that. The date for last payment was 22 March, so I went into the bank just before lunchtime and paid considerably more than the minimum required. The next evening, I had a series of calls from someone claiming to be from Citibank, who actually quoted the last credit balance (most certainly changed by now).

As I am wary of anyone contacting me over the phone, I phoned Citibank immediately and was told that my monthly cut off date was 25 of each month, but as this falls on a Sunday, the cutoff was moved to Friday and at the time no payment had been received, so I might be fined for late payment. Normally, the last payment day is 20th of the month (sometimes 19 or 21), but this month moving it to the unusually late date of 22 March, when the cutoff was also to be moved, set me up for an impossible situation, even if I comply by the rules and pay on time.

When the electronic bill arrived, the transaction date was correct, with a day later being shown as the date received. There was no late charge, but I think I am going to adjust things to make them more in my favour anyway.

And as for that wariness about phone calls, I had two this evening from Papua New Guinea. I don't know anyone there.

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. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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