eXtensions - Sunday 20 February 2022
Sunday Notes: Apple Hardware Updates; Facebook/Meta Changes; AppleTV+; Apple Executive Speculation
By Graham K. Rogers
One of the rumors that has been floating around for at least the last year concerns the imminent end of the Touch Bar. I will admit, I think this is an error as I find this really useful when I am working. It had a shaky start as few developers had considered it, and the move to provide Touch Bar access was slow. I particularly like this when I am writing or editing. I have Autocorrect off, but the Touch Bar provides possible options for the word I am typing or editing. This can speed up the work no end: indeed, when I was typing Autocorrect (and it did this twice) the Touch Bar suggested the correctly spelled word, including the upper case "A".
There are related reports concerning new product rumors: some backed up with fact. Sami Fathi (MacRumors), for example, reports that certain new Mac models have been listed in the Eurasian Economic Database. Another report refers to the Mac mini and suggests that this is to return to its flat design (Hartley Charlton, MacRumors) which was like the original Airport router. I saw these at MacWorld when they were introduced together with the first MacBook Air in 2008.
I asked Greg Joswiak - this was a long time before he was Senior VP at Apple - if they were designed to be stackable. He said no, and added, why would you want to do that? The design of both changed in the coming years and eventually Apple stopped making the Airport routers.
I recently retired my Airport router and installed a Netgear wifi 6 router which I am not all that happy with, particularly when it comes to set up and administration. Even following the advice of an online helpline, changing certain settings failed and returned to the default. I am considering re-activating the (802.11ac) Apple router as there is just nothing wrong with it and for home use, it will be fine. Dan Moren (MacWorld) considers this end of line Apple device and wonders if the time is right for a return to the market.
That would certainly have my vote. He suggests that discontinuing the line was a mistake. I think adding the disk facility for automatic Time Machine backups was a wrong turn: the disks fill up; and external disks are relatively cheap. The router on its own was just fine. I set it up and left it. Moren suggests that, although there are plenty of other routers in the market, the time is right for Apple's return to the area because of control, adding that "wireless technology has become an even more key part of Apple's ecosystem" [sic]. He provides a number of compelling arguments for the revival of Apple's Airport routers, or something similar.
However, Jason Snell, examines the possibility that side-loading will become available: perhaps forced on Apple by legislation. He speculates the this might actually be good for Apple and for developers who might not have to take the risk of a rejected app. Snell notes that users would need to disable some security in order to install such apps (this is what worries me) but that a Gatekeeper-like feature might help.
I watched a couple of new Apple TV+ presentations this week, while also continuing with Suspicion. This is a slow burner with some interesting twists. Uma Thurman appears in this week's episode too, not a one-episode-wonder as one reviewer suggested. The appearances are brief, but many of the scenes are, so that is not a problem and the character fits in as a force behind the curtain, while the rest carry on with the show. A certain amount of suspension of disbelief is needed in terms of the police work, however.
Some of that disbelief suspension also needs to be carried over into The Sky is Everywhere. The entirety of the locations used are far too beautiful: technicolor saturated saccharine. It appeared to be a movie about grief and moving on, with a few fast balls thrown in for good measure. None of the characters were fully realistic for me and, while there seemed to be no answers to what the survivors must to to move on after a death in the family, perhaps that is it. There is no one answer that works for everyone, but magic, real or implied is not it.
I also watched the opening two episodes of Severance: a scenario in which the memories in the workplace are cut off from any outside the office. When I saw the trailer earlier it reminded me right away of Pay Check (Ben Affleck) who works on a secret project but has no memory when it is done. This was based on a story by Philip K. Dick (who also wrote stories that became Blade Runner, Minority Report, Adjustment Bureau, et al). Severance is directed by Ben Stiller. I used to think his comedy work was shallow, although his resume is sound and there have been a good number of awards. Severance is creepy from the word go and this build the tension.
This isolation was enhanced by empty office areas as, Mark explains, the company is expanding. We doubt that statement from the outset, although the character played by Christopher Walken enhances the remoteness of other staff. At the end of each episode, as in all the best examples of the genre, there was a surprise - a cliffhanger.
A few months ago a new app for photographers appeared: Glass. It is not the same as Instagram apart from the photo display. Those who use the app sign up for a $29.99 fee annually, so there is a certain seriousness about this, as well as a lack of advertising. It is pretty much photos only, some metadata and user information, plus comments. Initially, it was limited to the iPhone, with the iPad display in that annoying portrait-only, x1 or x2 screens. I do not like apps that only work in portrait mode and that makes Instagram (and the shopping app, Lazada) frustrating with the iPad Pro. The developers of Glass took comments from users onboard and have now released an iPad version of the app that does work fullscreen in portrait or landscape mode. This is much better, but I also submitted a suggestion that the content displayed with an image should be hidden (temporarily) for a full-screen display of the image(s).
Annoyingly, this is a hard app to find on the App Store: a normal search just would not work for me. Despite having the app installed on iPhone and iPads, I ended up searching with a web browser and using the link on the site page. I now have the link to the App Store app panel for Glass.
One article online speculated that he was becoming like Warren Buffet (Stephen Warwick, iMore), the latter is engaged in what goes on around him, while Zuckerberg appears to be detached from reality even on a good day. With the elevation of Clegg to a higher executive position - to make day to day decisions, and take the heat off the chief shareholder - Zuckerberg may well have the space to disappear from public view and become even more isolated. Whether that ever reaches the depths to which Howard Hughes descended, while management served his whims and hid him from public view, only time will tell.
We haggled over the days as I already had other commitments and I bought myself time to prepare. I had enough for a presentation giving an overview of writing needs. I had taught one session on this a couple of days earlier for undergraduate students, so the ideas were in mind, but graduate students need a different approach. I retrieved the Keynote presentation I had used for a graduate class a few months ago, so rewrote that, incorporating ideas that had developed since, and some specifics for the current group.
I was ready to roll on Monday in a live classroom. The other sessions I ran from home. Over the last year or so, with online teaching and Work From Home (WFH), my ways of working have changed and my setup reflects this. Many of my materials (not on computer or online) are also at home. Apart from the arrival of builders next door, my home environment allows me to work more effectively than sitting in an office with constant comings and goings.
Over Tuesday I wrote most of what I would need, while also revising another class that was scheduled for late Wednesday. I finished that class Wednesday morning; then on Thursday and Friday morning developed most of what I would need for the classes on those two afternoons and for Monday: the last of the four classes.
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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