eXtensions - Friday 12 June 2020


Friday Diversion: ARM Mac Rumors at WWDC; Moving Home and Setting Up; Kudos to AIS for Service

By Graham K. Rogers


Rumors on ARM announcements at WWDC have been gathering pace in the last few days: almost everyone except Intel wants this one to be true. Moving to another condo means setting up again. For the first time I am using AIS and was suitably impressed by their efforts

IBM announced last week that it was withdrawing from the Face-recognition business. Now, Microsoft President Brad Smith has told The Washington Post that the company doesn't sell facial recognition software to police departments in the United States, adding that Microsoft won't sell to police departments until there's a national law "grounded in human rights" to govern the technology. Perhaps this time people are taking notice.

Next Monday is the start of this year's WWDC with the Keynote wholly online - sessions too. These are always available later if you want to run through new technology and how the APIs will work. I have the WWDC app on my TV but browser access is also possible and there is a Developer app.

The Keynote outlines upcoming ideas with overview and some more detail on specific operating systems: WatchOS, iOS, iPadOS and macOS. Information from these presentations shows the direction that Apple is heading. Last year Apple announced a way to develop apps for iOS and macOS using Catalyst, which strongly suggested a coming together of technology used. The Keynote is at 10am on Monday (12 midnight here).

Sometimes there are also related hardware announcements. There have long been rumors about a move away from Intel to ARM processors. Rumors have suggested Apple is planning to switch to 12-core ARM-based processors by 2021 and this would make it essential for some information on this to be given at the Keynote and the Developer sessions.

G4 iMac
G4 iMac - It still works

My Mac life includes the Motorola RISC chips in my first Macs, then a move to PowerPC. I had several of these machines and still own a G4 iMac. The switch from PowerPC to intel was announced at the 2005 WWDC by Steve Jobs. Part of the reason was the slow development of G5 chips that could be run in laptops. One of the comments made at the time was that Apple had been running OS X on Intel for a while in its labs. Of course they had; and they have probably been trying macOS on an ARM-equipped Macs too. The transition to Intel was relatively smooth, helped by the ability to run PowerPC apps on the new platform using Rosetta which was ended with the release of OS X Lion (10.7).

Like others I am hoping for some improvements to macOS. Catalina was not a good experience for me, even allowing for the move away from 32-bit apps. I was ready for that and was largely unaffected. I had (and still have) difficulties with the levels of security that this update imposed on users and, although I have managed to work through most of those, particularly with the help of such sites like Eclectic Light Company, it was still less easy than any other macOS or OS X update I had experienced. There was a distinct knock to confidence levels, and I was not alone.

The gap between the last online comment and this is due to having moved again. I have moved twice in the last couple of months, having lived at my previous condo for 8 years. I was persuaded to move closer to my office to cut down costs and reduce taxi fares. The first place I went had a nice view, but it soon became clear that the facilities were not workable: it was not just the internet speeds, which were sometimes zero.

I found a condo closer to the university and made the second move last weekend. While moving in, with boxes and bags everywhere, a technician arrived (see below for more comments on this) and for the last few days I have been wallowing in decent internet speeds again. There were a couple of problems initially with IOT devices as I had to make them recognise the router again (not the Phillips Hue lights - they were fine). The changes meant passwords needed reentering for one or two links. I am still working on that.

At the beginning of each month, the statistics for my site reset to zero. Before new items catch up, I am able to see articles I wrote sometimes years ago figuring in the lists. One I noticed was a 2003 article on Wood Camera, which I rather liked. Unfortunately this is no longer shown in the App Store (at least not in this country). There is no online information apart from expired entries on Facebook, with the last one being 2004, which is a shame; but why are some people trying to find out about this app by linking to my site?

Settling in to new accommodation means changes to the personal systems, so I set up an arrangement for items I will need when I leave, such a keys, pens, masks (currently) and all-important documentation. This does not account for my devices which I move about the rooms, depending on what I am working on and what is being charged. One day this week I knew that I needed certain things to go to the office, and while ensuring that I had these along with computers and cameras, I walked out without the iPhone: not something I do often. It affected what I do and I had to offload some of the tasks to the iPad and MacBook Air that I had with me. Although I was sure I knew where the phone was, I checked using the Find My app. This showed a selection of Apple devices in my office, and the phone at the condo as I had hoped. I am not going to do that again.

Find My result

When updating the iPad during the week, I noticed that one of the featured apps was HBO Go, which I was unaware was available here. I checked the Apple TV and this app is not listed there at all, which would be a sensible place for it. I downloaded to the iPad Pro and signed up for a 7-day trial. After that the monthly subscription is shown as 149 baht, which is cheaper than Netflix. As content differs by region and country, this may mean (like Netflix) this is a thinner service.

I will say that signing up for this was easier than the Amazon video service, which put so many obstacles in my way that I gave up. The HBO Go app has several movies I missed and of course some of their unique series, like Game of Thrones, which I never watched. Now there's an admission. Messages from HBO confirming the account and from Apple outlining the terms of the subscription arrived: note that to cancel the subscription, Apple needs to be informed at least one day in advance of the renewal date.

Getting Online with AIS

I am slightly impressed by AIS, a company that I had avoided for years, apart from the time I bought a Samsung phone to help my mother in the UK who had the same model: easier to offer advice if I was looking at the same screen rather than a PDF. The Samsung was locked into AIS and so I picked up a SIM card from their outlet in Siam Paragon. I only had it for a few months as I was so frustrated with the Google-nagging that I gave it to a friend. My mother now has the iPhone SE but still thinks she is not online as there is no WiFi at the house.

Among the reasons I had avoided AIS was the attitude of staff in the old World Trade Center (since renamed Central World). I was not alone and friends also hated going into the store there because of staff attitudes. Recent events have changed this for me beginning when I tried to arrange for a new telephone line at my accommodation. True staff in Central Salaya were unable to help and thought the whole thing was funny. AIS on the other hand made sure I had a member of staff whose English was quite good. She too was unable too help, but knew the location exactly and remembered a member of staff (whom she called over) had lived in the same place. She offered me an alternative (sensible marketing) and took me outside the store to help me find the other service provider: 3BB. They were also unable to help and for the same reason: no more lines available. Outside Bangkok things are a little different.

Partly because of the poor internet, and for a number of other practical reasons I decided to move to a condo nearer to work after making sure that it did have lines and an internet connection was certain. In the current semi-lockdown situation any online teaching means I have to go into the office, which defeats the object of isolation.The last place was fine with green trees, birds and fairly quiet surroundings, but I needed to work. I went to the condo this week to make sure of the unit number then called in at AIS, Central Salaya, where I tried to sign up for the internet. Despite the information I had, they also needed floor and building number. The young lady helping me tried to phone the condo, but although we both looked online, the number was not available.

I half signed up and paid for a router which I put in my bag. The young lady completed as much of the paperwork as possible then gave me here LINE address. I returned to the condo, found the additional information and sent it to her. Not long after, there was a confirmation and later that evening an email with a secure file that I could not open. As I was in Siam Paragon the next day, I asked there and was told how to open that file. It was just a formal confirmation of the signup.

The day before I moved, I had a message from the condo about signing the contract and I confirmed my time of arrival. However a short while later there was a phone call. An AIS engineer was calling about the Internet connection (good) and asked me if that afternoon would be OK instead of the day of the appointment: a day early. Unfortunately as I did not have access until I moved in, that was not going to work. As I was moving boxes around the next day, the engineer arrived and I let him get on with setting up. It was not long before I was connected and then I added my Airport router, so most devices then recognized this and we were live. I was able to watch Netflix without interruption for the first time in about a month.

On Monday I was in my office when I had a phone call from AIS. A young lady asked me in perfect English if the connection was ok: a nice touch. Every step of the way, AIS has been ahead of the field in terms of service and contact.

I am a paying customer so receive nothing from AIS in terms of benefits from the above.

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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