eXtensions - Wednesday 30 September 2020
Wednesday Diversion: Products arriving soon; Cambridge Analytica in the News; Writing Essentials
By Graham K. Rogers
Among the problems causing me concern this week was an apparent iCloud mail outage on Wednesday morning. I went through some mail on the older iPad so anything arriving before around 5am seems to have been OK, but when I switched to the Mac later there was nothing. I went through the usual diagnostics and restarts, but all the signals pointed to the Apple end. I switched to the iPad Pro to check some student work that was sent using LINE. I transfer such files to to iCloud and that was available.
As there was the same lack of messages, that sort of confirmed for me that the mail server was the problem. A short while later, the MacBook Pro was on a table being backed up and I heard the email tone. I looked at Mail on the iPad and the messages - including a couple of test messages - were all available. Problem over. Online sources later confirmed that there was an outage of about 2 hours, which also matched my online experience.
The New Apple Watch - Images courtesy of Apple
I have also noticed a difficulty with typing text in Notes on the iPad: the character typed does not appear instantly, but slightly later. I mentioned that last time, but also when trying to select text, tapping the page does not always place the cursor in the right place, and the Select dialogue fails to appear. This week there are reports of more beta releases of iOS, iPadOS and Big Sur (MacOS).
With all eyes on the iPhone and the soon too be announced Apple Silicon Macs, Apple's other irons in the fire have seen less attention of late, including the rumored car: Project Titan. It is still being worked on as three filings seen by Patently Apple suggest. One of the granted patents includes a way that LIDAR can be used to send signals out sideways at the front of the car and more. Part of this is the recognition that a car can be bumped and scratched, which may realign sensors: essential for determining position. They thought of that.
Netflix also has a documentary that covers Cambridge Analytica and the ways it misused data, although from a slightly different angle: worth viewing nonetheless. This week Nix was banned for 7 years from holding any executive position in a company. It may keep him under some degree of control (maybe, maybe not), but there are still plenty in the shadows able to step in and continue the ways in which data is used to reshape events.
With election imminent in the USA we were also entertained by a Channel 4 documentary on manipulation of Black voters in some areas in the USA. This was not about swaying them to vote for a specific candidate (Trump) but deterring them from voting. The campaign had access to a vast amount of data on voters that allowed them to target specific groups, sending advertisements to their Facebook accounts. One wonders where that data came from.
As a graduate student this was a required work in one course and it was most certainly a good investment. I kept it until the major flooding in Bangkok, some 9 years ago when almost all my books were disposed of as I had storage problems. I was pleased to add this one to my collection again.
It was all quite fresh in my mind as this week I have been involved with several students and their writing. One of my former undergraduate students is now taking a Masters degree and I am keen to encourage him as he has an interest in photography too: film. Indeed he only used a DSLR for the first time last week: ok, but film is better. As all students on the program must have an article published in a recognized academic journal, for practice I am pushing him to write something about the Bronica I gave him: his first medium format camera.
While many other students do not listen to my advice, he began to outline some ideas in a notebook. Before I could look at that however, he had a task in a class which required writing and I was asked to go through that. While I was making suggestions, a teacher from the Civil Engineering department was working at the same table. When I had finished, she commented on the way I had advised and guided him with the writing task. It's what I do.
I am keen to encourage them in English use, so we tried a couple of times, with a Take Two. They were not spontaneous and used a question list - important at high school to be correct. The re-take was after a second student started to ask me something he dried up. When the session was done I spoke to him and said that he should not worry about making mistakes - even I do - but just keep at it. I did my duty.
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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