AMITIAE - Friday 9 March 2012

Cassandra - Friday Review - The Weekend Arrives

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Opening Gambit:

The new iPad is announced: and it is an iPad. Some comments on the release and the specifications. Where do some commentators find their ideas? Shame of the NYTimes. Slow old Lion: where has the crispness gone again? A pardon for Alan Turing? Changes in Siam. Return of Lomography.

Apple Stuff

A few hours after the Wednesday Cassandra, a local reader sent me a link to a GigaOm article on by Kevin Fitchard on Bloomberg Technology. LTE network as it is related to Apple. This was before the iPad release remember so there was an amount of speculation along with some good reasoning for Apple going for LTE and what might happen if they did not.

Well, now we know. They did and while there is no price increase over the 3G, there is a little bit of unused equipment for users here, plus a 10g weight penalty over the wifi only version. The only thing I wonder about is whether this might cause any regulatory delay here where 3G is only just creeping in and the response with some regulators a few months ago to LTE was a couple of blinks of the eyes. Marguerite Reardon discusses the 4G and asks if we should care, particularly as the carriers will charge for it. Well, not round here I guess, not yet anyway; but some may find this useful especially in countries where they are allowed mega downloads of movies and the like. The 4G in the device may only work in the US and Canada anyway.

There were immediate responses worldwide to the release announcement with a lot of noises of approval and some real dumb comments. There is no point in my going over what others have written, so in short, let's see what we have.

It is an iPad. Not 3, not HD, Not 2S, not iPadX or anything else. Like the iPod touch and the iPod nano, it is an iPad. After all the speculation, some were critical of this. When you see some of the dopey name and number combinations that some companies come up with, clarity might be refreshing. In 3 months no one will even be thinking about the lack of a model number. There was no haptic technology: touch feedback, like there is in apps like Koi Pond.

As far as I can tell with a couple of quick looks at the shots that were taken and Apple's handout pics, the case is almost the same as for the iPad 2, which is sure to upset some: slightly thicker apparently by under 1mm. Inside, there was a faster processor and it was the A5X with two cores and quad core graphics. Rumours, like one from Bryan Bishop on The Verge, have the RAM at 1GB, although Apple's online specifications do not show this.

What the specs do show, and what was made much of, before in rumours and at the announcement, was the Retina Display: 2048-by-1536 at 246 pixels per inch. As one local user Tweeted later, putting in nicely into context, this means the iPad has a better resolution than his iMac. There are several other improvements with video and sound, plus the arrival of Siri. Battery life stays the same at a claimed 10 hours with 9 when surfing the web using cellular data network. There is also a much needed upgrade to the camera.

Locally, Richard Barrow on his iPhone blog is predicting a release in Thailand of mid-May using calculations from last year's release. I tried this at the weekend and was reasonably sure that it could well be earlier than that. However, we now see on AppleBitch. that the shipping times are already slipping back and the 16th release is now 19th.

My first look at the event was via a twitter feed from TUAW. At one moment, Erica Sadun Tweeted "It's like a million Playstations cried out in anguish and were suddenly silenced." A later comment on what they saw of the new iPhoto app, had me reaching for the iTunes store over the cornflakes and that was downloaded in minutes: act in haste, repent at leisure?

Among the reports on the iPad was one from the NYTimes, although I did not read it (I am still going through some of the other texts). However, it was brought to my attention by MacDaily News who point out that the initial report has now been revised, but the NYTimes failed to inform its readers.

When first published, MDN took exception (they write) to the content, especially the comments about "modest changes". The screen on its own is not a modest change. MDN saved the original and now have them available side by side. It still has faults. For example something tacked onto the first paragraph, "all packaged in a device without any major design changes." Design is not just on the outside and (I repeat), the screen on its own is not a modest change.

If I make minor editing alterations (say if I find a spelling mistake when I have put an article online in a hurry), I fix those. If I change the content, I will always show that it has been amended or updated. A recent example was when I looked at Adobe's Photoshop Touch. When I first looked at it, there was no sign of the Photo Stream album, which is pretty useful and I commented on that. The next day, like magic, it appeared, so my earlier criticism was wrong. I changed that and made a comment on the change. The NYTimes seems to be slipping these days.

While I was off to the eastern suburbs of Bangkok in the afternoon to take photographs of a graduation, I had the morning at home. Just as well. The amount of updating and downloading that was ready for me after breakfast was quite large. I ended up writing about this and putting information online, so there is no point repeating myself.

First came the information about updates for the Mac: iTunes, Garageband and iPhoto. I included a paragraph on the iOS updates to apps as well. I put up a note concerning the release of iOS 5.1 but could not install myself immediately as the Mac updates were taking so long. As Apple put out the video of the Event presentations, I also put up a link to that and ended a short while later once iTunes and the others were finally installed, by my download and installation of iOS 5.1.

Using the updated iOS today, I was happy with the way the camera now works at the lock screen, although it took me a second to realise it was a slide UP to make it appear.

In a taxi on the way out to the graduation festivities I attended, I played with iPhoto on the iPhone, seeing what I could do with editing and the like. Plenty of tools to play with, but they are so hidden away that it was luck to find them and a surprise when I did. The initial interface looks super, but the tools are not so good. Try as I might I was not able to find an Undo arrow or button -- Adobe Photoshop touch on the iPad has Apple beaten there -- although there is an Undo all icon which is not clear and took me a while to find in the Help information. That should have been immediately obvious.

I was interested to see a tweet, from "annekate," retweeted by Federico Viticci of MacStories: "iPhoto for iPhone is a disaster. Amazing features buried in a confusing, unpolished interface that is way below par for Apple software." That was how I was feeling with the initial run through. OK it was in a moving taxi, but that is just the sort of environment that the app will be used in. I have yet to try it on the iPad and will over the weekend. However, Friday morning saw another Tweet from Federico in which he suggests there are more negative reviews.

One thing I did decide was that after trying to delete several apps and other data to make some room on the iPad, I still did not have enough. The couple of hundred images that I tried to transfer to the iPad needed more than another 4GB of space. I ended up with just a selection to see how they had come out (not bad, thank you). Decision? It has to be a 64GB iPad next time. Anyone who has problems making decisions on such purchases might find "Which new iPad should I get?" on Marco.ORG useful

After the event, as has become usual, those attending were allowed to play and Jim Dalrymple on The Loop writes about his first impressions. He was enthusiastic about the display and the speed. Although Jim did not have any pics, Bryan Chaffin at the MacObserver did, but points out that the resolution really needs to be seen to be appreciated.

On a sartorial note, Geek Sugar commented on Tim Cook's dress style which continues the tradition of Steve Jobs black, but in a Tim Cook way. It is also clear from this presentation and from a more recent one at the Morgan Stanley tech conference, how Cook is well able to hold his own and has surprised many by his presence -- the sense that he is in charge -- at these public outings. During the presentation (which I have downloaded but not yet run) Cook said something that is similar to what he hinted at in the past: a sort of "Watch this space". Josh Ong on AppleInsider highlights the comments, "just getting started" and the point that he suggests that customers have "a lot to look forward to" this year and ended with a slide on which this was displayed.

Sharp eyes spotted what may be a new Apple logo at the end of the proceedings at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Wednesday. Timothy Stenovec on Huffington Post has a photograph of the logo which is rainbow coloured but with diagonal striping rather than the horizontal of the original Apple logo. There are also links to other sites where more information is available, especially the Gizmodo link from where I took this screenshot. . .


And there are always those who cannot or will not see. Or perhaps it is just a desire to garner hits that drives people to put some wrong-headed things in print. Matt Hartley on Canadian news source, the Financial Post starts his article with the headline, "New Apple iPad does little to fend off rivals' advance", which suggests he has not seen some of the articles I have been reading of late. What he wrote in the body of the article just failed to match what I had read in scores of online sources that I had been trawling through since daybreak.

But his readers are not fooled and the best thing about the page was the fierce comments his article generated. It is worth just reading them, and I roared with laughter at one or two. He is locked into a particular mindset regarding Apple and still refers to the "faithfull" in one article of his. With the numbers of people that have bought the iPhone and iPad, the idea that Apple was supported by a small band of fanatics should have finally been laid to rest. Not apparently in some quarters (we mentioned the juvenile Register in this context recently and they are still at it with "fanatical fanbois" [sic]). We are all apt to write some things we may regret later, but with such a vehemence from readers it might be time to consider changing one's job.

As a note, not long before reading that troll, I saw an item on Huffington Post telling us (as if we did not already realise) that tablet sales are surging. The item suggests that businesses make their websites tablet friendly. This friendliness may be of use to Apple with its new Catalogues category in the iTunes store. A lot of potential to be had there. This is now available in iTunes: look on the right side and seek out a button that has categories.

Related to that idea about sales of iPads was an article by Kelly Hodgkins I had seen on TUAW earlier still in which she writes about the effect the iPad release was having, compared to tablets from others like Samsung, Asus and Huawei. DOA, she writes, Dead on Arrival. Add to that comments for Michael Comeau on Minyanville who has a detailed analysis of why the Android tablet market is weaker than some are reporting and suggests that part of this is because the "Android tablet market is increasingly dominated by cut-price products that are a full 60% cheaper than the entry-level iPad. There is much more: read. It might also be worth considering that some manufacturers' reports of numbers of units sold are really based on numbers shipped.

On Friday morning, Electronista is reporting that Apple online stores outside the US have already run out of their allocation of the new iPad with delivery now slipping back. Of course, it is not shown on the Thai store and may not for at least a month or more.

Daniel Eran Dilger on AppleInsider reports on something many may have missed in that Apple has released an app called Configurator, the purpose of which is to manage iOS devices from a Mac. This is not for everyone as its intention is to help manage up to 30 devices with configurations and password management as well as setting limits. A small office, or a family with several devices may benefit from this.

A note on installing OS X on Macs from Topher Kessler on Tuesday. Apple's EULA (the end user licence agreement) has been confirmed and we are allowed to install the one purchase of OS X on any and all Macs that we own or control

Talk about gnawing a bone. Another article appeared on Apple's product manufacture by Foxconn in China from Reuters, by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ken Wills. Not enough editing in my opinion. This story is a month old now -- several months really as the first reports were in Wired in April last year -- and Apple has made considerable efforts both before and after the reports began to appear in terms of tackling problems as they came to light, uncovering any problems (not easy with middle management in Asia) and publicising what it has been doing. The headline, "Apple, Foxconn Scandal Highlights Exploitation Of Chinese Workers By Foreign Firms" is way off beam. It is too old to be a scandal, the exploitation is being done by Chinese companies rather than the foreign ones who in Apple's case at any rate is trying to fix things, and what foreign firms? Like so many taking shortcuts with this flavour of the month, there is no mention of other firms: only Apple. Again.

Another bone is gnawed buy Proview in China and they are sending out letters to local businesses warning them against selling the fake iPad -- the one made by Apple -- according to Electronista.

I do wish Apple would get to grips with the way Safari (especially) wants to reload information it is already displaying and then spends several minutes with blank pages for the user to look at. I know I was using lots of resources on Thursday evening with file transfers (Photo Stream) and importing around 300 images from an SD card, but that brought everything to a grinding halt for ages and the computer was at its limits (2.66GHz i7 with 4GB RAM). Starting Mail took about ten minutes, bringing up pages in text editor took several minutes, with delays as keystrokes were entered; and Safari just vanished in a sea of white. Web pages are not responding, I was told. Well, Why? This all worked well in Snow Leopard and before, why is Lion so lazy about all this? Not for the first time, I ended up quitting Safari and reloading everything from scratch. This is not how a Mac works. Of course, on Friday morning, it is all snappy and fresh again.

Half and Half

One of my all time favourite games is SimCity. I had the original PC version that I bought in the UK, I had a version on my Palm and I later had other versions on the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad. There is a new online version coming next year for the PC, but there is nothing yet for the Mac so Christopher Grant writes on The Verge.

Apple had been trying to restart patent litigation against bankrupt Kodak, but now AppleInsider reports, the judge has told Apple it must put this on the back burner.

Other Matters

The start of modern computing can be laid at the feet of Alan Turing in a 1928 paper on theories of artificial intelligence. We still use the term, Turing test, to decide if a computer is intelligent (we should try that on Siri) and Turing was one of the main brains behind the cracking of Enigma codes in World War 2. That work went a long way into developing the start of the computer industry. In private, Turing was obssessive and secretive (he allegedly chained his mug to a radiator at Bletchley Park), due probably to his homosexuality. In the 1950s he was convicted of an offence after being caught in the act in public and was subject to "chemical castration". He committed suicide not long after. There has been a movement for a while to grant a posthumous pardon to Turing, we read in The Independent, and there was some encouragement this week, albeit with things moving at a snail's pace.

Local Items

I reported a week or two ago about changes in Siam Discovery Center. More and more hoardings are going up there, although some have now been removed. Maccenter is open on floor 4, while the iStudio is still being refurbished on floor 3. Directly below is another store being refurbished: a 2-level store? Pure speculation there. I hope they don't use the same design as their shop in Siam Paragon. It looks so boring in there. I just walk in and walk out almost immediately.

Also on Floor 3 is a new iLife shop which has some interesting computer related products; and right next door is a hoarding which proclaims a Lomography shop is coming soon. The cameras are available here, so someone must still be processing film; but the idea of a shop dedicated to the retro-technology is interesting. Let's hope it is successful. I fancy working in film again.

The Straits Times' Sherwin Loh And Trevor Tan are reporting that all three of the Telcos there have slashed prices for 100Mbps fibre broadband to under $50 per month (1,216 baht). This is 20% - 30% lower than usual. 100. . . . 1,216 baht. . . Sigh.

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.



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

information Tag information Tag

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page