eXtensions - Sunday 3 December 2023

Sunday Notes: Apple Fabs in India and Arizona; Phoenix Color Film from Harman; Kissinger Waved at me

By Graham K. Rogers


I really did get a wave from Henry Kissinger. Notes on an international agreement on AI and other problems. Apple chip sources are reducing reliance on Taiwan with India and Arizona seeing increasing investment. Smart branding as Harman produces a new 35mm color film named Phoenix rated at ISO 200. Henry Kissinger's book of the dead.

After my recent comments on AI, I was not particularly impressed when I read about the multi-nation agreement on future AI developments: to keep customers and the wider public safe from misuse. As MacDaily News comments, "Non-binding means just more valueless, waste-of-time, waste of taxpayers' money BS." A comment from the Times Higher Education Supplement on X reinforced a comment that I had made last time, "An academic ChatGPT needs a better schooling. . . ." From many accounts, it seems that the major shareholder in X may also need some better schooling, unless (as some people think) the intention is to run the former Twitter into the ground. That seems to be going quite well so far.

I also saw an item in the blog of Charles Arthur which discusses the output from non-existent (AI) authors which, it is suggested, is something of a descent from previous greatness by such an established magazine. This was repeated in other online sources, including while on Friday Retraction Watch outlined another example of plagiarism that was part copying and part AI-sourced in what was described as a gibberish paper.

It is not all bad news at X, despite the current major shareholder's attempts to save the world. Or blame it. Or everyone else. Among others, Arwa Mahwadi (Guardian) has some comments on the weird behaviour, but suggests that for reasons of his own Musk really does want to run X into the ground. On lighter matters, for months now I have been annoyed by the disappearance of the scroll indicator on the right side of the screen when I use the app on the iPhone. I find this really useful as it is a way to judge if I have a lot of Xs (Tweets, Tweets sounds much better) to read through. This can be important if there is a schedule involved. On Tuesday morning this week I noticed that the scroll indicator had returned. Small mercies.

Several reports, including one by Manish Singh (TechCrunch) have reported on the decision by Foxconn to invest some $1.5 billion in India. The report is not totally clear how the money will be invested, but it was inferred that a new fabrication plant could be among the new developments. India has become an important market for Apple with some referring to it as China+ 1. Both India and China may have some political ideas that not everyone agrees with, but they do make a lot of money.

chips made for Apple
M3 chips fabricated for Apple: Image courtesy of Apple

Following on from this, Stephen Warwick (iMore) writes on another chip fabrication unit, but this time in Arizona. Apple has long tried to move more of its manufacturing back to the USA. This time, however, this is part of a $2 billion deal with its partner Amkor who have worked with Apple "for more than 10 years packaging the chips that go into products". This goes further. With most chip production currently in fabrication units in Taiwan, there are fears that if (or when) China were to invade and take back what it thinks is part of the country, worldwide chip production would be badly affected, which could lead to all manner of consequences. Also this week, MacDaily News outlines a visit by CNBC to Apple's own chip labs.

Photomator icon This week Apple named Photomator its app of the year. I am not surprised. It is one of the better apps for quick photo editing and the interface reminds me a little of the lost and lamented Aperture. Later in the week, both Photomator and iOS/iPadOS were updated. Unfortunately, when trying to work on scanned (TIFF) images, the app crashed every time on my mobile devices, but not on the Mac which also saw updates. I filed a bug report with Photomator and have since done some more analysis. I first discovered that iPhone images were not affected. I could also edit large RAW files from my DSLR with no negative effects.

I did manage to edit the scanned images using Photos on Mac and mobile devices and was surprised to find that I could now work on them with Photomator, although they are now no longer original TIFF format. I went back into my libraries and found a couple of other scanned images that I had not edited and they crashed the app right away. That suggests that there is something in either the iOS/iPadOS or the Photomator updates that does not like the large TIFF images my scanner produces. I am confident a fix will come sooner or later.

Scanned TIFF image
Scanned TIFF image edited and cropped in Apple Photos

The company that owns the Ilford and Kentmere (see image above) film production company is Harman Technology. It trades under the name of Ilford which is a long-time maker of black and white films. There had been some signals online this week about an imminent announcement, but on Saturday morning I saw a link to the Emulsive site that outlined a new film under the Harman brand name: Phoenix. It took a moment to realize that this is a complete departure from the companies normal products. We have a new color film. Rated at ISO 200. It is a wise move to market it as Harman.

Harman Phoenix film
Harman Phoenix film - Screenshot

EM mentioned in the Emulsive article that this may need some careful scanning, and the Harman site has some information on this, along with a PDF of Technical Information, which notes that "this film does not have masking dyes and limited antihalation incorporated in the base layer". The Recommended Scanning Parameters note that the film does not have an orange mask which can affect scanner response and some adjustment may be needed for best results.

Harman describe Phoenix as a work in progress. This suggests (and online comment from Harmon confirms) that although this 35 mm film, nominally rated at ISO 200, has a nice appearance with vibrant colors and good sharpness, they are still refining it. It can be processed in C41 (a standard Kodak process). For me, this means I could see the pictures an hour after I send them to the shop, unlike 7 days for black and white films. Comments also suggest they are thinking about (or working on, depending how the comments are interpreted) 120 Phoenix film as well. I can't wait.

The marketing Saturday morning was subtle, but not at all passive. The approach includes a YouTube video in which Harman explains the ideas behind the development of Phoenix, including why it is being called a limited edition. The company intends to develop this further. In the video the company's thoughts are outlined and they promise never to abandon their B&W roots. Among other information, the video shows the box. Inside there is a QR code and Harman are asking users of the film to share feedback. Several sites and retailers put information online, including Harman on Instagram, where the company responded to comments on the new film. I saw information from Cinestill, Matt Growcoot on PetaPixel, and CameraFilmPhoto among others. I had already visited the site of the latter and ordered 3 rolls. As I was low on some films, I added 5 rolls each of Ilford SFX 200 and Kentmere Pan 400.

The Cinestill newsletter also had information on this new film and were somewhat enthusiastic. Cinestill also made positive comments on Instagram: nice to see. They have it listed at $13.99, which is not cheap, but some of the results I saw online make this compelling. I am a sucker for new films anyway. CameraFilmPhoto which quotes my orders in Baht, had this already available for 573.25 baht and I bought a 3-pack for 1720.25 Baht. Compared to this the price was 188.25 baht for 120 Kentmere Pan 400 while the Ilford SFX was 340.25 baht a roll. I also saw on Facebook that a local store, ProColor Labs also have a supply of Phoenix film. Procolor do have a website which is only in Thai (as far as I can see). Maps on the site show that the location is in Huay Kwaeng, in Soi Pracha Uthit 19. The nearest MRT station is Thailand Cultural Centre, but it is a fair walk from there.

The death of Henry Kissinger this week saw several obituaries that praised the man. There were several that detailed some of the excesses that he had pushed, such as the carpet bombing of Cambodia which led indirectly to the Pol Pot regime from which the country has barely recovered. I had not really been aware of some of these until I was at Heathrow Airport and bumped into a Professor from the university I was at in the USA. He was English and was travelling home for Christmas like me.

The Good Die Young - from Jacobin After a TWA flight delayed for several hours at Chicago we were waiting at the luggage carousel and had a chat during which he became animated when Kissinger came up and he mentioned his effects on Chile. I learned a lot in that 5 minutes and have learned more about Kissinger since.

Ancient Egyptians had several important processes that would ensure a good afterlife for the deceased. One of these was the book of the dead that contained instructions and incantations, to help the deceased find the way to the afterlife, Sara E. Cole writes (Getty). I noticed a comment on Slate (Nitish Pahwa) on Saturday morning about a book - from publishers, Jacobin - that had been waiting for the death of the Henry Kissinger: sitting in a drawer for several years. It is titled, "The Good Die Young: The Verdict on Henry Kissinger" and contains a series of essays from those who were not fans of Kissinger. After reading an interview with co-editor Jonah Walters, I placed my order.

Kissinger was known for shuttling back and forth across the Atlantic and around the world. It may have been in 1975 (Egypt-Israeli conflict) when for some reason he came to London. Heathrow was closed due to fog. Instead, he was diverted to Manchester and was driven down to London. I was in a patrol car on the Bedfordshire section of the M1. One of our tasks was escort duty: for large loads, dangerous prisoners, and occasionally for VIPs. We had already been told the details of this escort before we left our base just after 10pm,

As usual, we waited at Junction 13 for the Thames Valley crew. As they pulled off the motorway, we took our place. Our section ended just south of Luton, where a car from Hertfordshire took over. As we went up the slip road, Kissinger leaned forward in his seat, smiled and gave a thank you wave. As we commented at the time, he didn't have to do that. There were a lot of things he didn't have to do.

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)


Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page

All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2023