eXtensions - Wednesday 29 August 2018
eXtensions - The Wednesday File (72): Local Servicing Success; Apple Treatment for Nikon's Z-series Cameras
By Graham K. Rogers
My views on Wall Street have been outlined here on several occasions, yet still people prefer to buy into the rumours rather than wait for solid announcements from Apple. It used to be fun, but now it is cut-throat and spoiled by what is gleaned from the trash cans.
I am not alone in this askance view of analysts, and was pleased to see an item by Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Tuesday in which he discusses the output of Jean-Louis Gassée, who once worked for Apple and was one of those supporting Steve Jobs' ouster. Nonetheless, his insights are often spot on and this week, his opening paragraph (from Philip Elmer-DeWitt's article) makes a good point:
Note that this is a discussion on a company with a market value of $1.06 Trillion (up $0.2T from last week). Gassée then cites another of those on whom I do rely for clear insights, always based on sound analysis and never sensationalist: Horace Dediu. All three of these commentators are worth following and you would understand more about Apple than any rumours put out by the flavours of the month, Gurman, Ming-Chi Kuo, Katy Huberty and others. As a note, the the way Apple has been working in the last year has triggered performance awards for Tim Cook and several online sources report that he has sold $57.8m of AAPL shares; and with my location I cannot even find a away to buy one.
Remember too that we are also waiting for updates to Macs and (perhaps) to iPads; and who knows what else may be round the corner? So this morning's news about new 8th-generation U-series and Y-series processors from Intel is noteworthy. The former was originally code-named Whiskey Lake, while the latter was referred to as Amber Lake (Chance Miller, 9to5 Mac). We are still interested of course in Macs with ARM chips: that would set the cat among the pigeons.
At Disrupt SF, which will take place in San Francisco's Moscone Center West from 5 - 7 September, Brackeen will demo the technology. There will be a chance to ask him about the larger implications of facial recognition and what it means to build a business without wavering on your principles (Jordan Crook, TechCrunch).
As it is the start of the semester, I am preparing some materials and when it came to presentation skills, I need sound output for my own presentations (to show what not to do) and for videos I show as illustration. There is always a Plan B, so I make sure the media I want to use run on the iPad and the iPhone. I noticed that the 3.5mm jack for speaker output seemed blocked and wondered if there was some rubber or other material inside the port - perhaps intended to make a snug fit - so started to examine some options.
MacBook Pro 13"
I also considered the idea of a dock for the USB ports, which would give me other ports. There are plenty of these about and prices range from around $200 to $400, depending on brand name and specifications, such as number and type of ports. Although I have steadfastly resisted the idea of a Dock, and relied on cables or adapters when necessary (such as for VGA projectors), this was a step I was willing take as sound output is a must-have for me.
In the end, it was not necessary, at least for now. I went into the iServe center run by Copperwired in Amarin Plaza in central Bangkok on Tuesday morning. There were 5 people ahead of me and I had to wait for about 40 minutes before it was my turn. I explained the problem and showed the resistance when a jack was inserted, using the Røde SmartLav+ Microphone I bought in April 2017.
He picked up a iPhone and turned on the flashlight to have a look into the hole. When he opened the top, he saw it was in Sleep mode and asked if he could turn it off, then said, "About 5 minutes". When he came back I tried the microphone jack again and it was fine. Yes, he confirmed that there was a small piece of rubber in the port, but when I asked he said this was not from the Mac: it does't use any. He thought that perhaps it was in my backpack and was picked up when carrying it around: makes sense. There was no charge, so I was pleased on two counts. Three actually, as I don't now have to buy an adapter or dock.
I always phone home at 10pm on a Sunday unless there are cancellations: last week, for example, my family were on vacation. I was chatting to my mother - one-sided as she has the ability to talk non-stop for ages - so take the time when I am listening to look around the room, watch the traffic through the window, and occasionally look at the screen.
I am fairly confident that the computer clock is accurate (and I double-checked with the Apple Watch), but I noticed that the time passing shown in Viber did not match. Indeed, by the time the call ended, after 22 minutes according to Apple, Viber had recorded just over 33 minutes. I wrote email to the developers, sending a screenshot, but I have yet to hear back, although I did have a message on Tuesday asking if they had met my expectations. With nothing in junk mail and no other message received, Not really, no.
Another reason for my worries about students concerned the ethics and software piracy. As many of them will earn their living from technology, especially writing software, there is a certain hypocrisy there. However, that aspect was dealt with a few years ago when the university signed an agreement with Microsoft and anyone associated with the university (students, staff, lecturers) is allowed to use Office (there may be more applications bundled with the agreement).
I also had similar concerns about student use of Adobe products: again, there are alternatives (unless you really need such software); and I do not like my students or colleagues using pirated software. Both Microsoft and Adobe circumvented that in part with subscriptions, but now the university has also signed an agreement with Adobe and I know that some of my colleagues downloaded Lightroom at the weekend.
I am pleased that while they are at the university students, teachers and all have legal access to such suites, but it will make no difference to me for the foreseeable future (never say never, eh?)
Yup, that is really Win95 on my Mac
Most notable about this camera for me was the use of the 45.7MP CMOS that I have in my D850 so I am able to gauge reasonably well the sort of image quality that can be expected. The Z6 has a smaller CMOS but has its own special qualities, particularly with regard to lenses. Nikon have designed a new mount specifically for these cameras and there are already new lenses for this Z-mount available, with a number planned over the next couple of years. I particularly liked the news that, with the release, a Z-mount to F-mount converter will be available, so us old folks with DSLR cameras can use our lenses and not have to buy all new: at least, not yet.
Nikon Z7 Full-frame Mirrorless Camera - Image courtesy of Nikon
Most criticism was reserved for the choice of a single XQD card, itself a design restriction and one that was debated internally, with consideration being given to SD cards as well. This was also covered in that interview: it is abbout speed and space as I speculated at the weekend. The newer technology won over, but the single card has some worried. What Nikon must address with these cameras is the question of availability. When I bought the D850, it was hard to find the cards (those selling the camera did not have them), but even harder to find a card reader.
I eventually bought mine online. In the meantime I had learned how to import images directly from the camera, using a cable, which is more efficient than removing a card from the camera in many ways. That point about card availability is also coveerd and Nikon will "bundle an XQD card in the camera for the first few months of sales as well. Just to help people switch." Card reader availability is also a must.
I was not happy with the use of a microB port in the D850, although it was a step up from the microUSB that was in the D7000. As the D850 appeared a couple of years after the Hasselblad H6D-50 which uses USB-C, that should have been Nikon's move too. They have addressed this with the new Z-series and these do have USB-C ports, so I wonder if the decision about the microB port in the D850 was for legacy users.
As Apple has found with the Touch Bar, the USB-C ports on MacBook and MacBook Pro, and the removal of the 3.5mm jack on the iPhone in favour of the Lightning port, although there may be much noise from the technical press, often before the release, many users tend to get on with using the device. And so it will be with the Z-series Nikon cameras which would certainly be on my list, if I had not just bought the D850 a few months ago. Nikon Rumors has a collection of some "conspiracy theories" related to the Z-series. You see what I mean about Apple?
Nikon Z7 Full-frame Mirrorless Camera - Image courtesy of Nikon
Ilford Pan F Plus - ISO 50
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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