eXtensions - Sunday 1 September 2019
Cassandra - Weekend Review: Innovation Invitations; Mojave to Catalina; 30% Tariffs Begin; Minor Local Victory with USB-C Cables
By Graham K. Rogers
Local Thai writer, Wu of Spin 9 had his invitation and so, unsurprisingly does Rene Ritchie whose Instagram image of the invitation is here. I tend to ignore speculation on parsing the invitations although there is the obvious use of the word, "innovation" which suggests something new. The unusual colors and shapes in the Apple icon also drew some comment with one interesting theory put forward by Stan Horaczek in a Tweet:
There are rumors about new MacBook Pro computers, new iPads, the new MacPro, although this is not expected to make too much of a dent in sales, and accessories like newly designed AirPods; and there have been a few hints about a Tile device for finding locations (Brandon Russell, iMore). 9 more days. . . .
To give some idea of how this could affect a user, Hoakley (Eclectic Light Company) looks at the Mojave boot volume layout as a way to explain what is coming in Catalina, when the changes are likely to be more drastic. As iCloud is important in the changes on macOS, this will also affect iOS and the data files used on those platforms. I know this has been tested by thousands users and developers as well as Apple personnel, but for once I do not have the confidence in the updates that I normally do.
As less than 50% of Apple's business is in the USA these days, the tariffs may have even less effect on the pricing and profits, particularly if Apple is only required to adjust the prices up for complete devices sold and delivered in the USA. That could make sales of Apple products in countries like Thailand and other locations attractive, particularly as travelers could claim back the taxes when leaving.
One Apple device affected is the AirPods. Last time we noted that Consumer Reports think the similar Samsung ear pods are better. Not only that, they failed to recommend the Apple product (not the first time they have shunned Apple). Patently Apple, however, reports that in the second quarter of 2019, the AirPods have a 53% market share, despite them being more expensive than the competition. Samsung, whose Galaxy Buds Consumer Reports fawned over, have 8% of the market.
Since I tried Neural Cam last time, it has seen a couple of updates, including the latest (1.02) which saw improvements to the way the app works with iPhone X.
I also saw this week that the major Russian production of War and Peace was released a couple of months ago by Criterion on Blu-Ray ($39.96) and DVD ($31.96). The film (in Russian, with subtitles) was completed in 1966 and has a length of 422 minutes, which vies with the magnificent Napoleon by Abel Gance. The story of its rediscovery by Kevin Brownlow (The Spectator) and its reissue in the 1970s is inspiring.
I remember the reactions then and saw it was on at the Barbican Centre one day when I attended a Shakespeare play. I have read Tolstoy's War and Peace; as well as Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, along with other Dostoevsky works in a period when I had time for the enjoyment of reading. I think I followed that with the whole of Trollope (not to be dismissed)
Local InformationOne of the more important cables in my kit is the micro-USB to USB-C from Belkin. As I have several devices that have this old style USB port and most of my computers have USB-C this does away with the need for another adapter and I can certainly avoid those docks. These cables are so important to the way I work - with hard disks and the Nikon D850 - that I have 4 of these: one at home, one at the office and one in each of the bags I use. I bought mine online: Amazon and Lazada.
Despite the number of external disks that use micro-USB and the use of USB-C on several computers (and not just Apple) it has been a continuous annoyance to me over the last 3 years or so, that none of these cables can be bought in any of the stores here: until this week.
I saw that the 4th floor of the Siam Paragon department store had seen a redesign and as well as several smartphone options, there was a wall of storage devices. There are of course countless disks (with that micro-USB) but I noticed several SSD as well. Some were fairly small at 120GB, but there were some larger ones at 500GB, 1TB and even one at 2TB for 11,900 baht ($389.14) with a USB-C cable. I am much tempted by that. I regard the availability of the Belkin micro-USB to USB-C cable (990 baht) as a breakthrough. It has only taken 3 years to arrive on the shelves.
The new area in the department store of Siam Paragon is worth having a look at as there are more devices and accessories on sale close together than is usual here so consumers have a wider choice. Alongside those hard disks was a major shelf area for SD cards and flash drives, although I did not see any of the new QXD cards there that I use in my Nikon.
This week, Michael Zhang at PetaPixel outlines the comments of Roger Cicala at LensRentals who examined the Tamron lens closely and he concluded that this is "optically the best 35mm lens you can get". Cicala only tests tests for the resolution of lenses and not other areas such as autofocus, durability, weather-sealing, or bokeh, but the Tamron lens is a winner in his view. I agree.
Output from DSLR using Tamron 35mm f/1.4 lens
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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