eXtensions - Wednesday 29 May 2019
Cassandra - Midweek Review: China-related problems; Attractions of AI in Image Editing; WWDC Hints and more
By Graham K. Rogers
At the weekend in a comment, I included a link to a list of problems that Huawei was facing since the order was signed, but CNET (Sean Keane) lists some of the problems that had accrued before the ban and which lead not only to the ban but the possibility of prosecution for a number of ethical and legal infractions. At the end of the article is a list of events in reverse chronological order, going back to the beginning of 2018. I was already aware of some of the ethical lapses regarding intellectual property, but examined in this wider context, it is not so surprising that the ban was introduced. It is also interesting to note that in March this year, Huawei announced that it was developing its own OS, in case it can't use Android or Windows. [my italics]. In other words, Huawei was already aware of the possibility that some ban might be applied a few months back.
Having been blocked from several areas in the US and world markets, Huawei of course denies all and in a filing with the courts in the USA, is claiming that they were found guilty with no hard evidence presented: only speculation. As I mentioned a few days ago, although I am sure that there are direct links between the company and the Chinese government, the only evidence I have seen is in press release-like information provided to the media. The evidence, I am sure we will be told, is classified, so we just have to take it all on trust.
There was some related news on Tuesday when Pegatron revealed that it was to spend up to $1b on a factory in Indonesia that "will make chips for Apple smartphones and may make components for MacBooks in the future" (Benjamin Mayo, 9to5 Mac). We could do with some of that love spread round the rest of SE Asia. Maybe it already is.
Artificial Intelligence seemed to fall into this same hole for a while: sounds like a good idea but what are we going to use it for? Several image manipulation suites in the last couple of years have incorporated some AI and it now appears to have reached some form of critical intersection: it is coming out of the lab and being made available for commercial use. Topaz has made some advances in the use of AI and I tried a couple of its applications not so long ago, particularly enjoying the JPEG to RAW software it had developed.
I have a number of applications from the developer now called, Skylum: Luminar, Tonality and others. An interview on FStoppers (Anete Lusina) with Dima Sytnik caught my eye this week. He explained the value of AI in such software and defended the inclusion against the suggestion that it took something away from the skills of the editor. We are not "interested in spending time and resources to learn how certain adjustments or actions work", particularly if there is some heavy lifting behind a process (he mentioned the Accent AI slider): we are more interested in the application of the slider to the image than the algorithms that work behind the scenes.
In the interview there was mention of the NVidia development, GauGAN, which was made public in March. I missed this before. It uses AI to produce images like photographs from basic line drawings. The paper that I found online has a couple of embedded videos, so although it is heavy in technical information it is relatively easy to absorb. I can hardly wait for this to be released as a commercial application.
Rewind lever on Bronica ETRS: Double exposure (left) and Normal
I would love this to be so, as do many other users, but any such transition away from Intel chips is still a dream for many of us. We shall see (I hope we do). Also having a tilt at the predictions windmill, Jason Cross (MacWorld) outlines some of the known software that will be announced (like Marzipan and others), but also examines hardware possibilities, including a "Tile Tracker" - new to me. Sounds interesting. And so does the rumored iOS dark mode that some say is coming: a leaked source apparently. We shall see.
Another leak suggests that the next version of macOS could be called Mammoth (Evan Selleck, iDownloadBlog). I really hope not. Although this is in the tradition of California location names, this seems rather a clumsy name, especially when there are still names like Monterey and Skyline. There are other places that Apple has not registered of course, but that does not make them impossible. Mammoth? No.
Not really part of the rundown to WWDC, but several beta releases appeared this week: tvOS, WatchOS and iOS; but not macOS apparently. The Events app on AppleTV has been updated for WWDC. New versions of the operating systems will be announced at WWDC and developer betas will be available for these almost immediately. Bear in mind that with the next version of macOS, several apps will no longer work, including Aperture. I really must take the time to export all the images I have; and I need to update my FTP software.
iPod touch 7 - Image courtesy of Apple
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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