eXtensions - Tuesday 29 December 2020
Tuesday Digression: COVID-19, Teaching and the M1 Mac; Temporary Perpetuity
By Graham K. Rogers
Mahachai Street Market
With the new threat, the university sent out warnings. They were intensified in the next few days, with the semester start being put back 2 weeks to 18 January. Work from home was the order. That gave me no rest as students were nearing the deadline of a writing project in my classes. Some had already finished, but some had not started writing. As this was a report of several pages (and carries 25% of the marks), there was much work to be done. Christmas was over. I began to see the light at the end of this tunnel late Sunday. The deadline is Tuesday and some students are still sending handwritten text. I have responded to something around 500 emails. The high number is because the class was run online. Normally students meet me face to face and the consultation is part of teaching. I am not sure I am getting through this time.
When the students send me work attached to an email, on the iPad Pro I tap on the file and make comments using the Apple Pencil, then send it back with appropriate comments. I also use the Apple Pencil in iCloud Files to work on more hefty writing tasks: thesis writing or academic articles that profs are hoping will be published. The sensible ones know they need some help with the English. Others ask me to help when a journal sends it back with the comment that they need the assistance of a native speaker. I do not like these as they have often just translated directly from their language into English. If I have to read a sentence three times before I can I understand, there is something wrong.
A thesis is often lengthy, but graduate students will not be as good at English as they think they are; or as Google Translate makes them believe they are. A thesis is broken into chapters and I work my way through one at a time, ending with references (some do not check these properly). While I work on the iPad with markup, I send them by email on the Mac, taking advantage of the feature in Preview that allows me to copy several pages (an entire chapter) to the clipboard and then create a new file from that. I save the file and send that as an attachment in Mail. I saw this week that Sandy Writtenhouse (iDownloadBlog) has written on features that are available to users in Preview, although the article does not include this copy and paste feature for new files. The student writing project is one of the main reasons I am still working with the older MacBook Pro, although markup of student work is done on the iPad Pro: it is the recording of marks in Numbers that I need to take care of.
OWC Thunderbolt Hub
This week, Michael Zhang (Petapixel) reports on problems with Adobe Lightroom version 6: not the subscription version, but the paid-for one. That no longer has a license for the face recognition features used, so crashes. Rather than provide support to the users who paid for the application, Adobe has washed its hands of the problem and turned its back on users.
In my dictionary, perpetual has a meaning that does not include, "when a developer deprecates the application" which is what appears to have happened here. Zhang writes: "We reached out to Adobe regarding this issue, and the company simply states that it no longer supports perpetual versions in any way" [My italics]. That is nice for those users who bought the perpetual versions. There is a workaround: users can change the computer's date to November 2020. They may not be the only ones stuck in the past.
However, Samsung is not alone as Andrew O'Hara (AppleInsider) reports that Xiaomi is doing pretty much the same. The CEO mocked Apple for leaving the charger out, but Lei Jun has now confirmed the company is "ditching the bundled power brick in the Mi 11 citing environmental concerns" and users already have the chargers: exactly the reasons cited by Apple. Hypocrisy.
I have also been critical of the ways in which Google uses such data - both make much money from advertising which depends on prediction of trends. With the numbers of users, the big data available to both companies allows them to target users more effectively. Unfortunately, Google's search engine is effective, so people (myself included) are more likely to use that, despite the several other (safer) search options that exist. Being the default search engine on Apple devices doesn't help of course: easy to change, but who does? The Google search algorithm was good right from the start and success followed. I have no criticism of that part of the organization.
It is reported by Patently Apple that Apple has begun to develop its own search technology. Since the release of iOS 14, "Apple has begun to show its own search results and link directly to websites when users type queries from its home screen." As Apple pays billions of dollars so that the Google search is set as default in Safari, this move "gives it an alternative if regulators block its lucrative partnership with Google." The report also outlines a patent on search engine technology recently filed by Apple.
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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