eXtensions - Sunday 18 August 2019


Cassandra - Weekend Review: iPhones, Apple Watch, plus iOS and OS X Clones; US-China Trade Dispute and Weaponized Debt; Identification in a Heartbeat

By Graham K. Rogers


With the new iPhone and Apple Watch coming soon, there is evidence about when this will be and materials used. US military have developed a way to identify individuals using the heart beat. Huawei on again off again US licenses; but what about the debt that China owns. The best cameras and lenses of 2019; and the top 8 black & white films.

Anyone who follows Apple is aware of the rumor machine that hovers above every real and not-so-real release from Apple. I tend to ignore most of the rumors that come from the direction of Asia, even if others refer to a source as "often-reliable"", or "famous"". Instead I wait until either Apple releases the product or there is something more concrete. There was an interesting little snippet covered by several sources including MacRumors (Juli Clover) that tells us there is an image hidden in the latest beater release for I OS 13, which strongly suggests that the release date for the next iPhone (iPhone 11?) should be on 10 September. Of course that would be for Apple's usual favorites, starting with the USA, UK, Singapore and others.

Note that one of the devices - unlikely to come here because of the watered-down Siri we have in Thailand - is the HomePod: this goes on sale in Japan and Taiwan this week (Juli Clover, MacRumors). Also seen in code is information that suggests the next Apple Watch could include Titanium and Ceramic models.

Despite a number of sites almost demanding that Apple produce a folding iPhone (or face the inevitable doom), user response was not as supportive: a sort of collective, meh. . . After seeing the results from the Samsung débacle and efforts from Huawei, who are not having a good time of it lately, it is no wonder that Apple is not rushing into this questionable sub-genre. And in timely fashion it was reported by Tim Hardwick (MacRumors) that the Mate X is delayed again with a new release set (but not in concrete, I bet) for November.

Those of us in Thailand will probably not see the new iPhone until mid-October, as this is lower down Apple's priority list and in any case it needs to be examined by the authorities here. Juli Clover examined the probable dates for the new devices to be in customer's hands, estimating this as 20 September, so speculates that iOS 13 will be out on 18th. I have not seen too much written about this, but I am not looking forward to the new version as there are expected to be several changes to files and the way iCloud works. I am also disturbed by what I have seen of the new Photos app on iOS 13 as I wrote last Wednesday. I did try early beta versions of Catalina, but had to withdraw from that program.

Photos on Mojave
Editing in Photos on Mojave

A number of sites are reporting that Apple is suing Correlium for distributing what are alleged to be perfect replicas of iOS. Susan Decker (Bloomberg) writes that while Apple supports research into OS faults, this is a rip-off: "Corellium creates copies of the Apple iOS, and says that it's all to help white-hat hackers discover security flaws." Apple strongly disagrees and has asked the Federal courts to stop this. Also adding to the information on this, Mikey Campbell (AppleInsider) explains,

The firm's tools enable users to create a virtual iOS device in the cloud. Customers first select a device to copy - support includes iPads and current iPhone XR, XS and XS Max models - then are asked to download a particular iOS build directly from Apple's servers. Corellium's platform subsequently displays a "fully functioning" replica device.

In a note I saw about this, someone mentioned Psystar and the Mac. This was a Florida company that produced PCs with a fully-operating version of OS X installed. If anyone has read the Terms & Conditions, this would appear to have doomed the project from the outset. Nonetheless, MacWorld bought one in 2008 and James Galbraith checked it out. Of course Apple sued and of course Apple won, though it was not plain sailing. With a judgement awarding Apple $2.7 million and all the usual cease and desist stuff in 2009, Psystar took it to the Supreme Court and finally lost in 2012.

I use some of Apple's Health features, including the 3rd party, Cardiogram, that has been involved with Stamford University on a long-term project collecting data from users who sign up to the program. I had been aware of a minor heart oddity called Arhythmia: instead of a smooth up and down graph, there is a little jump. It is not unusual and (for me) nothing to worry about. A video appeared in my news feeds this week that shows the US military have picked up on such aberrations and has done some research into using these signatures to identify people.

The original intent was to help identifying friendly combatants (our guys), but if this is enhanced, it could be used to identify anyone. This has all the potential in the wrong hands to be something like Terminator or Robocop. Of course these are fiction (the heart identifying program is not) but so many ideas from books and movies in the past are parts of our reality now; and military research often comes down to the civilian commercial and security areas.

The US-China trade dispute is a gift that keeps on giving as it changes week by week. Only a few days ago I wrote about the apparent and total end of temporary licensing that companies working with Huawei had hoped would be lifted. The C-in-C did an about turn and whatever had been planned was frozen. Until this weekend.

Jules Wang (Android Police) reports that "The Department of Commerce has announced a 90-day reprieve to an import ban against Chinese manufacturer Huawei". The article outlines the relief that is to be granted, at least on a temporary basis, and mentions how something similar also happened to ZTE a few years back. Right at the end is perhaps the most obvious reasons for this relaxation, "One source said that Presidents Trump and Xi are expected to discuss Huawei as part of a trade negotiation phone conference this weekend. A decision on a license extension may follow."

I have mentioned in recent output how China plays a long game as opposed to the knee-jerk negotiation methods that the USA is currently trying, and on Sunday I saw in a tweet a possible reason for China's lack of strong rhetoric as the USA has been going through the threats and tariffs. Karol Koshek writes,

Beijing will invoke in full force the 'nuclear option' of selling all or a significant part of its US$1.4 trillion holding of US Treasury Bills, with a major chunk of the paper due to be sold in September

Karol Koshek

China has been buying up US dept for several years and this could be used offensively, although most commentators think that this also has a risk for China with the way the international bond markets work. A number of commentators including Karen Yeung on Politico take this view: China could hurt its own economy.

We also note the comments from Denmark that Greenland is not for sale.

Apple who this week reported that it has expanded significantly on the number of people it employs in the USA, is not only affected by the trade disputes with China, but has its own problems in Europe, plus a new US monopoly investigation of large corporations, and the old tax chestnut: these corporations offset liabilities by using tax-easy countries to report their earnings.

As much as I think the rich (and the companies) should pay their fair share, the reason Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple can do this is because the lawmakers have created tax legislation that provides loopholes large enough to drive a horse and cart through. Be honest, when we (as individuals) file our taxes each year - those of use who do file taxes - we make full use of allowances to reduce the bill; and companies do the same, but on a larger scale.

Apple was one company however, that was unable to escape the wrath of the EU who billed Cupertino some €13 billion ($14.5 b) as Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and her investigators found that Apple had an illegal tax deal with Ireland: a sweetener that allowed even lower taxes to be paid. Patently Apple reports that the Commission sourly added that "Apple's structure in Ireland did not have any factual or economic justification" which Apple disagrees with, as does the Irish government.

The Irish and Apple are appealing to the EU courts. It should be noted that other companies and countries have also filed appeals against the Versteger regime with Belgium already winning against "an order to recoup about 800 million euros from 35 companies, including Anheuser-Busch."

Tamron 35mm f/1.4 lens
Tamron 35mm f/1.4 lens

Despite falling sales, several major companies are still producing excellent cameras and lenses. Michael Zhang (PetaPixel) reports this week on the EISA Awards for 2019, with the Nikon Z6 coming top. There are several categories for cameras and for lenses and the list is quite comprehensive. I hope the recently released Tamron 35mm f/1.4 lens I bought last month appears next year.

Although only one or two manufacturers are still producing cameras for film, there is a thriving used market and the number of film types (and manufacturers) is showing a healthy increase too as young people (as well as some of us older types) rediscover the joys (and frustrations) of film photography. Although I have several cameras, my most often used are the Hasselblad 500c/m (I currently have 2 of these), an Agfa Record III (bellows camera) and a Bronica ESTR. These all use 120 medium format film with output of 6x6, 6x9 and 645 respectively and I prefer Black & White.

Although I use Ilford film mainly, although have experimented with a number of different types, including some new films. This year was the inaugural "World Cup" for film with more than 90 entries. Kosmo Film report on the elimination and the last 8, including its own Kosmo Foto Pan 100, which I am currently using. In reverse order these are:

  • Kodak TMax 100 (83 pts)'
  • Kosmo Foto Mono (85 pts)
  • Ilford Delta 400 (89 pts)
  • Cinestill bwXX (89 pts)
  • Kodak TMax 400 (171 pts)
  • Ilford FP4 Super (205 pts)
  • Kodak Tri-X (502 pts)
  • Ilford HP5 Plus (533 pts)

There is much more detail about each of these with the Kosmo article and in the links on that page. I have had some good results with the Kosmo film which only arrived recently in the 120 format. I have also tried the three Ilford films in the top 8, although prefer the FP4 of these, with my own preferences being for the PanF (ISO 50) and the Ilford SFX (ISO 200).

kosmofoto kosmofoto

Output from Hasselblad using Ilford HP5 Plus (left) and Kosmo Foto Mono 100 Film

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 2019