eXtensions - Sunday 8 November 2020
Sunday Review: One, Two or Three AppleSilicon Macs; or None?
By Graham K. Rogers
There were also updates to Catalina and WatchOS. The 10.15.7 Supplemental update covered certain security problems. I waited until the evening to install that and the Watch update, which usually takes time and I needed to go to work. When I did the update, WatchOS was quick and far easier than before I hope this is a new normal.
I have found since the WatchOS update that it now identifies hand-washing less than before, even though I am standing at a tap with soap in my hand, lathering up. Paradoxically, the hand-washing display does appear sometimes when I am washing dishes. It seems a bit of a gimmick like this, but as I do wash hands regularly (and wash dishes) it is not of great concern. The feature that should warn me it is time to wash does not work as, despite having home address entered in the Contacts app, it does not recognize this as my Card.
The ECG function is to be allowed in South Korea with this update, but still not in Thailand. At a time when access to medical consultations might be limited, this would be useful, but the fear by medics here is not false positives, but false negatives, just like when no one tests at all. Some students are doing a project on electrical contacts for ECG and they mentioned the ECG feature on smart watches, but I had to reign them in a little: not everywhere.
They were persuaded to limit this part with, "available in some countries." While the new blood-oxygen feature works, like heart rate behind the scenes, its manual operation is not as straightforward. When I try in the morning after checking heart rate, it often fails. As this is just after the watch has been put on, it seems to be connected to position of the band and how tight (or loose) it is on the wrist.
Some may remember that when a recent update to a beta version of Big Sur appeared, there was code that showed three Macs listed, although it was thought one of these referred to the already-released 16" MacBook Pro. As there are other rumors concerning the Macs which are rumored to be coming, this is another case of speculation killing the surprise. Of course, it could always be the tracker that has been coming for several months, although some rumours had this delayed until the new year. We will see this week.
With Big Sur and AppleSilicon about to drop, Christopher Baugh (iPhone in Canada) reports that Microsoft has made a beta of Office for Mac compatible with AppleSilicon. There are some interesting technical comments from Microsoft in the article, particularly those that refer to SQL server connections. Baugh comments that it is not known if there is to be a version of Windows that is AppleSilicon compatible. Redmond is no longer the enemy and the current CEO has done much to change that mindset.
While the current device bears a passing resemblance to the old G5 tower computer, and its Intel heir, there is a suggestion carried in an article by Wesley Hilliard (AppleInsider) that a smaller device could be in the pipeline, although it is not known if this would use Intel chips (Xenon for example) or would be a significant move to AppleSilicon. I am not sure why this is referred to as a desktop computer as most I have seen are hidden away under the desk. They take up far too much room if they are on the desk.
There was an interesting photographic moment in Billions, which returned to the screens of Netflix this week. In the first episode, members of the 10 Billion Club were being photographed for a magazine. The photographer was using a Phase One camera. I think they start at about $50,000 then you have to pay for the lenses on top. It is interesting to see cameras used. In Bond clips played this week, 007 was seen a couple of times with a Rolleiflex, and one of these also appeared in an early episode of The Queen's Gambit (worth seeing). In early episodes of The Crown, Tony Armstrong-Jones was seen handling a Hasselblad, while also taking photographs with a Leica.
One of the limitations with Webex is not being able to try out video or other settings when not online. To try something just as a class begins and have it let you down is not what one expects of a well-prepared teacher. This is one of the reasons I have stuck to Webex: I do not want any more nasty surprises from Microsoft or Google (or Zoom) with their conferencing solutions.
Camera quality is a drawback with all of the applications. I bought a new Logitech camera as the Mac one could be better for these purposes. I was also aware that one teacher at work was feeding his Canon DSLR through his meeting software and looked for ways to do that. Other camera companies also now have linking software, but Nikon was a little late. A beta version of suitable software was released, first for Windows, then for Mac and I was pleased to see my model included, although the beta would not allow Webex to be used. When the full version was released last week, that stays the norm: Nikon cameras can be used with most of the standard conferencing apps, but not Webex.
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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