eXtensions - Wednesday 21 March 2018
eXtensions - The Wednesday File (49): Apple Comments; Facebook Analytica; and the Measured Pacing of Film
By Graham K. Rogers
Rumours also suggest that the time is ripe for hardware. Local sources here suggest that this could well be a new iPad. Both the idea of a new iPad mini and a new iPad Pro were voiced. Others have mentioned a wider device availability for the Apple Pencil, but would Apple put out a mini iPad Pro? What a nice idea.
A number of apps I have been using for a long time, like Fetch (FTP) and Feed for All are shown as 32-Bit. There are even Apple apps shown: DVD Player; Set Info; Stanza; and Password Assistant; which means they are either going to be lost or updated. Some apps, like Kindle Player are almost sure to be updated eventually. A number of those shown are in the Mac App Store, so if not updated will disappear from general view (still in a user's Purchased list).
As soon as mine arrived (I was in Siam Paragon when they were handed over to me), I took them out of the box, paired with the iPhone 7 Plus in seconds and began to enjoy music. I noticed two things within a couple of hours: as others had written, the fit was good and they stayed in the ear; there was a sense of freedom, with no cord; and related to that, they stayed in the ear. When I arrived home, all of my other devices (except the AppleTV) showed the AirPods in their Bluetooth devices lists, so it was even easier than plug and play. To use them with the AppleTV, I had to manually pair them, the old-fashioned way.
They appear to be a design closely similar to the Earbuds, so the fit was not a problem for me, but the lack of that cord meant that there was no pull when turning the head, for example. As others found, the only time they might be dislodged was when taking off a t-shirt and accidentally pulling against one of them.
At a time when the devices were in short supply worldwide, I seemed to be the only person who had these in Bangkok, so a lot of people stared at me. I bumped into a former student at Silom, when changing trains, and she said she saw the AirPods before she saw me. A local user did buy a set at a mall on the east side and never liked them as they fell out of his ears all the time. I did not manage to take a look at his purchase although an image of the devices and the box looked legitimate.
This week, my comments to students may need to be taken in a different light with the revelations that not only did Cambridge Analytica take data of several million users and use that to provide a certain spin for the trump campaign (they were hired by Manafort), but it goes a whole lot deeper. An undercover video made by Channel 4 shows executives of the company explaining how they have manipulated elections in several countries (Malaysia was in the list) with a series of tricks: clean and suspect. The key is data, whether of groups or individuals, and the ability to focus on targets. Take 20 minutes or so to view the video, but do it sitting down and try to maintain a calm frame of mind.
Cambridge Analytica is run by an Old-Etonian. Boris Jonson and Jacob Rees-Mogg also went to Eton, as did a number of other Tories and some from Labour. George Orwell studied there, but he is an exception. And exceptional. The personal connections for those who have been to an English public school, especially Eton, are worth gold. In the recorded interviews, which Cambridge Analytica tried to prevent being transmitted, there are several apparently unethical comments made about how the company (probably using a proxy to avoid identification) might proceed: from use of data and placing of advertisements, through the use of Ukrainian ladies. The CEO was later suspended by the company for that comment.
The end of the video shows three comments from Cambridge Analytica trying to minimise damage (locker room talk?), but within hours the Information Officer (government official) announced that she is seeking a warrant to raid Cambridge Analytica and seize their servers. That lead to a stand off with the Facebook auditors who had to stand down. This was a first-class example of investigative journalism at a time when this is becoming rarer. Rix had recorded a rebuttal for the BBC Newsnight program, before he (or they) had seen the Channel 4 video, leading to much criticism: if they hadn't seen the evidence, how do they know which questions to ask?
With Facebook stock price dropping already and much, much more to come, this is going to be an interesting week. Note that now US Federal authorities are also investigating, with up to $40,000 for each transgression and potentially 50 million users affected, that goes into the trillions. In trying to distance themselves, Facebook put out a statement (later amended when the UK Information Commissioner's Office went into action) that there was no data breach (self-protection 1), but that data was used in an unauthorized manner (self-protection 2). Cambridge Analytica insists that it only accessed and used data in authorized ways (Tiffany C. Li, Slate). At least one Facebook exec has jumped ship already (Nicole Perlroth, Sheera Frenkel and Scott Shane, NYTimes), although that was denied a little later. This whole thing is developing hour by hour (Guardian on Facebook statement).
I was pleased to see in a Tweet Wednesday morning: "I will delete Facebook, but you can pry Instagram from my cold, dead hands" (Brian Koerber, Mashable)
Using some of this information, and some images, I wrote late last week about the use of RAW on the iPhone. My "first line" apps are 645 Pro, Halide, DSLR Camera and Pro Camera. Of these, Halide, Pro Camera and Prime (another RAW-capable app), were updated this week. I have a selection of more RAW-capable photo apps that I will also be looking at: a second rank.
Taking film is not the same as using the iPhone, or even a DSLR camera. It is odd to think that when I first started taking photographs everyone used film; and it was not until the 1990s that I had my first try of a Kodak digital camera and also a Logitech monochrome device. That was a long time before I wrote the Mac columns for the Bangkok Post.
On the iPhone I make use of the app Pocket Light Meter. Pseudo-expert have tut-tutted at my use of this app. It is quick and easy and gives me a close enough reading for my purposes. I can change the film ISO easily depending on what I am loading then point at the subject, fiddle with the Aperture and it shows a time reading.
Then I adjust the lens, a rather heavy Distagon 50 which cost $3000 when new, but has consistently rave reviews. I bought mine used here for considerably less. It is fiddly to change settings but the glass is first rate and output has been excellent when I manage to bring everything together.
I am reasonably happy with black and white photography, and prefer to use monochrome film generally. I did buy a pack of Portra 400 in Thaniya Plaza, where I see golf equipment shops still charge 3% for the use of credit cards. The Photo shop on floor 4 has many old cameras and a fridge full of films. Every so often I go in and buy a few boxes.
Once developed it is time to scan. I use a Canon 9000 Mk II, and Hamrick VueScan software that is now a 64-bit application. I can only scan a strip of 3 Medium format photos at a time, so the process is slow and oddly satisfying as the previews, then the scanned images appear. At last I am able to see the results of my input.
Not all images are wonderful. I would be happy with 20% success, but editing on the Mac can recover so much more than would have been possible for me at a develop and print photo shop. The images are saved as TIFF files (a test for my students - Tagged Image File Format): uncompressed and big. The scan size is 5480 x 5404 (I have the selector window slightly mis-set) and this includes a black area surrounding each photograph, which I edit out.
These days, I drop the images directly into Photos and make a new album as they are imported. The 6 rolls gave me 75 images that were almost all usable and I set to work. My workflow in Photos starts by looking quickly at the thumbnail images to see if any stand out (for good or bad). I start by opening a larger view of what I identify as good images and see just what I can do: crop, straighten, then adjustments (all in Photos).
I was quite pleased with the colour (Portra) output. Previously, I had been disappointed, but AirLab does quite a good job. They still need editing after the scan, but a rather good article (a measured rant) by Brad Nichol on PetaPixel last week commented on some of the major output differences between digital and film, which was actually called color print film. It is meant to be printed, so being digital perhaps does film a disservice.
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)
For further information, e-mail to
Back to Home Page