eXtensions - Saturday 12 Februaryuary 2022
Saturday Comment: Software and Hardware Updates; Legacy Contact Problems; AirTag Controls; Lesser Facebook
By Graham K. Rogers
Johnny Evans (AppleMust) comments on the potential problems for Apple as a downstream user of SSD, although its supply chain may already have factored in such potential. Even so, 30% of the SSD supply has been taken out. Even though this is temporary, it may take some time for WD to be able to produce the quantities needed as the installations come back online.
On two occasions, after restarting, he had no choice but to accept an update while the students were waiting. I walk in and start work. That Monterey update was completed without drama in the afternoon. I also saw a report from Juli Clover that there were updates for iOS and iPadOS (15.3.1). When I looked at the iPhone update as well as the bug fixes there was remediation for an issue that may cause Braille displays to stop responding.
watchOS and iOS updates
Apple iPad mini
Apple AirTags used legitimately
The basic Mac mini was updated with the M1 chip at the same time that the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air were released with similar (not identical) chips. That left the high end Mac mini that some use as servers still with Intel power so that is a prime candidate for an update this year. Juli Clover, MacRumors, reports that according to a leak (rumor) the Mac mini is coming soon and may include design changes as well. Although this is all rather vague there are some probabilities here, particularly concerning the point that the device is certain to be updated with Apple silicon in the near future.
The MacPro is suited to high end work of course and some of the developers at the conference would be a target group. For obvious reasons this would have to be powered by a high end chip. The current MacPro offered in Thailand starts with the 3.5GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, 32GB RAM and a Radeon Pro 580X (with 8GB memory) and 250GB SSD, for 189,900 baht with VAT ($5,999 in the USA before taxes). Wheels are an extra 14,000 baht.
The Mac Pro has always been highly configurable (except for the "Trash Can" version) and Apple offers several options, up to the 2.5GHz 28-core Intel Xeon W for an additional 245,000 baht ($7,000). Apple has to maintain that range of options for those who need such high end hardware. [Mac Pro image courtesy of Apple]
I would be surprised if this had a variant of the M1 chip, but the MacPro has always had several options for processor updates with different core versions (see above). Apple would need at least (say) three options to start the ball rolling and these are less likely to be the same chips that are found in notebook computers, or even a top end iMac. Whether Apple can squeeze much more out of the M1 chip range is doubtful, although a Pro+ M1 for the Mac mini used by so many as a server might work. I would expect a multi-core chip for the Mac Pro that exceeds what Apple is already offering. However MacPro users prefer to select a suitable graphics card for the task, so that would have to be either offered as an option, or built in to a suitable SoC.
In another article on MacRumors, Tim Hardwick outlines information about a potential new Apple app for classical music that was revealed in a beta Music App for Android. The separate, dedicated app may come from Apple's purchase last year of music streaming service Primephonic.
A number of comments appeared about Mark Gurman's weekly letter (which did not appear in my mailbox on Monday for some reason), particularly concerning the suggestion that several Macs could be released in the coming weeks and months with the M2 chip. Macs will certainly be coming, and the M2 is certainly a possibility, so we will keep our fingers crossed on this.
Mail problems continued into Tuesday. When I woke up the iPhone showed only 5 messages. All were marked from, "Yesterday." The iPad Pro had what appeared to be a full list of messages, but when I sent a couple from a news service to myself later, they appeared on the iPad, but not the iPhone. A message I sent to myself using the Mail app similarly failed to arrive. I restarted the iPhone and that seem to have done the trick. I monitored that over the next few days, but there was no recurrence.
There were a couple of potential causes, beginning with the phone number. As well as the mobile there was another number listed in Contacts which looked like a land line phone number, but this was not entered correctly. I removed that number and confirmed the mobile phone details (I did have these entered correctly). It was later found that the Key was sent to my Contact's iPad, but not his Android phone. I tried again, this time tapping on the phone number in Contacts. I had two choices: a locally formed number beginning with 0; and the same phone number starting with +66 (the country code for Thailand). I chose the latter, but was only offered the ability to print the key. I passed that stage without printing, and the phone accepted this as a completed action: the contact was set up but no key had been generated.
I removed the contact again and tried a 3rd time, this time using the phone number that began with the 0. Again, I was only offered the print version, so abandoned the attempt to set this up for the time being. I decided to try at home where the internet was unlikely to be a problem, but even at home was still not able to use the Messenger option, only Print. In the end I took that course, printed as a PDF and sent that by other means to the Legacy Contact.
It is sometimes worthwhile quoting lines from poetry or plays from the past that fit the scene. Instead of Shakespeare, I have a couple of lines from Edward II by Marlowe that I have used before: "Base Fortune, now I see, that in thy wheel, There is a point, to which when men aspire, They tumble headlong down. . ." - What goes up, must come down.
Facebook management, in particular Zuckerberg, have seemed deaf and blind to realities outside the company. This is evident when Zuckerberg gives Robot-like responses to questions from politicians on committees: Tim Cook is guarded but comes across as more genuine, while Zuckerberg always seems to be hiding something. His video presentation when introducing the Metaverse was creepy. The overlong presentation (8:39) was self-indulgent escapism. I guess that is not a problem if you have $84 billion. I closed my Facebook account immediately. It also confirms that the CEO is not always the best person to make presentations.
A good example of how not to present a new product is from Johnny Shi of ASUS and the new (then) Padfone. Along with the Ballmer, "Monkey Boy Dance" clip, I use this as an example for my students of how not to make a presentation. The Padfone had a short life, selling some 1 million or so units. In 2013 Asus launched a new phablet: the Fonepad. It was just as successful as the Padfone.
An Australian Appeals Court decision reported this week suggests Facebook/Meta was "divorced from reality" (Christopher Knaus, The Guardian). Facebook insisted that it it "neither conducts business nor collects personal information in the country" (hence the comment from the judges). Cambridge Analytica had collected data from 300,000 Facebook users when only 53 filled out the Kogan app. Maybe it is time to put this inflated dragon back in its box.
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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