Podcast #224

Panorama Imaging (2) - Open Source and Shareware on the Mac; Apple, iPhone, Mac and Redmond tales; plus other local and international news and comments.

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any clues? As is usual, up to Monday, when I start recording this, it was quiet, except for the weekend report of an iPhone worm. And on Tuesday, I woke to find the 10.6.2 update to Snow Leopard. I am on part 2 this week of my broad look at making panoramas.

Panorama Imaging (2) - Open Source and Shareware on the Mac

I must say I was a bit disappointed with the number of hits on last week's panorama article. It was the sort of thing that I thought people would be interested in. Not that we have had any new hardware from Apple to play with of late. I think they have changed the way they deal with media people and the local company focuses on Thais. I will just go back to what I enjoy if that is the case. Next week, I will end this mini-series with an interview with a professional and some of the higher end software he uses. Now back to that iPhone worm.

Most of you should not panic of course as this is not something that is going to affect anyone with a phone from True -- the problem happens on some jailbroken iPhones, especially when the owner has put a specific unauthorised app on the device and then forgotten to change the password. And of course, no one changes passwords do they? On some computers I have seen there are lucky to BE passwords. Inconvenient is not having to enter a password to make things work; inconvenient is having someone take over your computer, or lose all your data because there was insufficient password protection. That's inconvenient: ask Windows users. More dissing of them, later.

iPhone The cruellest thing, though is what happens: not only does the homepage image change to a photo of Rik Astley, but you also hear, Never gonna to let you go, whether you want to or not. Actually, there may be a security problem of sorts for some others, and here is another example of why Apple controls things.

In the US there is a complaint that a developer has violated computer laws by secretly collecting user information: they used a backdoor and bypassed safeguards, so Apple might not have known initially, but there was an article by Yobi Benjamin a while back. Looking at this I should take the RSS feed.

For their part Storm8 admit they did collect this data but it was due to a bug, now fixed. There are 8 games by Storm8 [iTunes link] listed in the iTunes app store here.

I first got wind of that iPhone worm tale on Sunday from TUAW, and put a note on the Facebook page for iPhone users in Thailand and thought little more. However, on Monday, the story had got much wider coverage, including the Register; and it is not until the second paragraph that you realise Dan Goodin is actually writing about jailbroken iPhones and not all of them. The BBC also took the same approach and waited until paragraph 3 to mention that this was a problem only on unauthorised iPhones.

Note these points, however, there is an insecurity on the iPhone, but it only manifests itself with a jailbroken device -- dumping all of Apple's security safeguards; and with an app that was unapproved, again bypassing Apple's checks. Unlocked iPhone? No sympathy from me.

flower On Tuesday morning Rixstep followed up with some comments, including one from the writer of the worm who said that, "People are stupid and this is to prove it." Rixstep followed this with an article and an interesting section well into this caught my eye as it confirms my long-held views about the iPhone and jailbreaking. The section is as follows:

    A less than wise or recognised spokesperson for Apple once quipped that if security gurus didn't think the Cupertino company thought through their security design decisions really hard before they decided on the Windows model then they were stupid or something. Maybe this is why. For a free iPhone has no protection. None.

We have sort of joked about the iPhone G4 in recent weeks, particularly in the light of Thailand's speed in implementing 3G and the fact that Sprint is already running 4G tests in the US. We have a number of sources this week who look AT that obvious development cycle and possibilities: more exciting than the Apple tablet rumour which seems to have gone silent for now, although there is a lovely teaser later.

In the first, Jonathan Skillings on CNET looks at what he calls a world mode iPhone and suggests that upcoming versions might work on a number of network systems, which sounds eminently sensible to us and sort of goes with what Steve Jobs said when he first announced the device. Some of the networks might include CDMA, which Hutch run here, for now; or GSM/UMTS. CDMA2000 networks are also mentioned. MacObserver also looks at this via a leak from the rather porous Taiwan and add the idea that the screen would be smaller. While Insanely Great Mac add an interesting twist by suggesting that there could be the addition of RFID capabilities, which would considerably expand the functionality of the iPhone.

And remember that Apple has just switched the system in the shops to iPhone based billing after a while with PC-based readers.

What do you do if your arch-nemesis is praised by the top names in industry for the way he has run and built not one but several industries and has been named CEO of the Decade? If you are The Register, you ignore the accolade, ignore the power of the personalities and their comments, and you insult the publication which is Fortune: the Register calling it "the preeminent house organ of US corporate shillery".

Rik Myslewski -- I said last week he runs hot and cold -- complains bitterly about Jobs' controlling nature, but grudgingly admits that Apple was brought back from the edge of death to a somewhat successul enterprise. He also omits that other industry story of Pixar and how the sale of that made Jobs the largest single shareholder of Disney. You don't get that successful by sitting on your hind quarters.

Apple put out an update to Apple TV only a couple of days after the 3.0 update leading some to suggest some insecurity had come to light.

dog In a couple of weeks' time I will be in Kuala Lumpur at Dr. Mahattir's super convention center presenting about how I teach English to my recalcitrant Engineering students. It was the Dean's suggestion; and when the boss says something like this, you do it. The organisation is called QS-Apple and this has approximately zero to do with Cupertino. It is a standards organisation for higher education and I don't have a clue where the name came from.

Last Friday, I had a minor panic when an email from the organisation with some reminders, had information about presentations. Although the deadline, it said, was the end of September, the last deadline for sending the presentations was this week. And what did they want: PowerPoint. And they wanted this ready and loaded on their computers.

As I work on a Mac using Keynote, let me point out that apart from some serious differences in the way the presentations are formed, like a lot of presenters, I want to control the delivery of the slides and their sections, rather than keep having to say, Next. Fortunately, an email produced the right response and the visual media people were asked to help and said, No problem. I confirmed that I would need a VGA cable to the computer and that was all.

To have a look, I exported the presentation I have made to the PPT format and opened it using NeoOffice. Little short of a disaster. While using the export function, I saw an iPod icon, so also exported the presentation in a form and size that will work on the iPhone. I can also upload this to the website and et the delegates have a look at that and the PDF of the text.

True had an info-ad in the Post Business News Tuesday morning. Too many words, too much repetition - simple bullet points are more effective - and not enough grammar checking. Like so many organisations, perhaps too proud to run it past someone with native English skills. Then, when it is put it in front of native speakers (as in the Post audience) it loses some of its effect.

Tuesday morning in Thailand saw the 10.6.2 update available; and what a whopper. In Software Update it was only 152MB [for me], as that installs the bare necessities, but downloading from Apple's site showed the vanilla version at 473MB, while the Combo is shown as 479MB.

10.6.2 alpha I decided on an early morning download of the Combo version of 10.6.2 - I prefer the Combo in case I have to use it on other machines and for other users. It started at a fair speed of 150KB/sec then about 60MB in, stopped dead. I tried again and the second download gave me a speed of just over 400KB/sec. Not bad for a 2MB connection. Then about halfway through it timed out and I had to start again. Thanks True.

We saw later a lot of sites with the information that confirmed a rumour: there was no longer any support for the Intel Atom processor. As TUAW said, this is either Apple tidying up unnecessary code or making sure those who like the "hackintosh" way in are locked out. T. J. Luoma who wrote this piece tels us that this does nothing to reduce rumoured support for the iTablet thing as Apple still have an option in the ARM processor.

One of the updated parts of 10.6.2 was Mail and some users had problems with authentication. Apple knew about this before and a KB document was available as the update was released. We must have the right authentication method selected in Account preferences and the KB document tells us how.

A lot of other changes affect graphics and the Address Book, but there was also a mention of plugins for Safari. I wondered when I saw that if the Flash problems had been fixed. However, in the afternoon on the Apple forums I saw that some were having such a bad experience with this that they had uninstalled Flash completely. Another user reported that earlier problems with Maya had all gone.

I can offer no feedback myself as yet as this is not going on my computers until this podcast is finished. I am looking forward to doing this as there are some suggestions that performance with Aperture has picked up; and it had become rather sluggish.

Along with the SL update there was also a Security Update - not needed with 10.6.2 - and an update to the Wireless Keyboard software if you are using Leopard. The Security Update is apparently included as part of the 10.6.2 update.

Other reports suggest a sound output problem as the update changes settings in System Preferences > Sound. Look in the Output panel and change it back to Internal Speakers.

Here's one for the scientists. DRC of the MacResearch site tells us that OpenMM an Open Source application for molecular dynamics simulations to be run on high performance computers has been released. There are versions for Macs, Linux and Windows available for download as well as some other useful documentation and files.

Another twist in the 3G debacle appeared on Tuesday evening with the Bangkok Post Breaking News section reporting that TOT was to authorise 5 operators - Loxley Plc, Samart I-Mobile Plc, 365 Communication, IEC International and M Consultant Corporation - to start 3G services on ToT's network on 3 December and there is expected to bea capacity of 500,000 numbers. I expect that by Wednesday evening there will be equal and opposite announcements from the other players in this game [Fuller version was in Wednesday's Business Post].

Let's have a look at Microsoft shall we? One of those who takes the podcast was at Commart last weekend and was very busy selling iPhones. Lots of iPhones. But also there were PC people and what he said reminded me that years ago MS locally used to get HP to demo their Windows NT on the Alpha processor which was the fastest thing around then; and that was killed in 2004.

iQ_font Our listener put a message for Redmond on the iPhone Thailand Facebook page, writing "if you are going to demo Windows 7, please get your own people (and not a Commart rep) to do the job. It's your own credibility at stake. He showed the PowerPoint presentation on his low-end HP netbook and his Internet Explorer keeps crashing during the whole 45 minutes show. And I thought stability is no longer an issue with Win 7!"

Well, then obviously it is an issue; and that Broken Promises video from Apple may be hitting the mark after all.

Or maybe there are promises being kept for some and not for others. Michael Russnow writing on Huffington Post has a fair dig at Windows 7 which he says is not that great. But then he takes this further and wonders if there may be some collusion. HP is mentioned in the headlines and we always thought it strange in that series of advertisements that all the cash-back actors went for Hewlett-Packard computers after a brief flit by the Macs. Russnow had problems with an older PC beginning with a virus attack. Surprise, eh? He then details the hoops he went through but fails to draw the obvious conclusions: get a Mac.

Russnow's comments seem to reinforce what Electronista suggests, that Windows 7 isn't having as large an impact on PC sales as initially thought. Why am I not surprised?

However, later, the Register appeared with an item that suggested Dell and HP users were not happy as a promised upgrade to Windows 7 -- which has been out, what, 2 weeks -- has not been delivered. It seems it is due for shipping at the beginning of December. Patience dears. You could order a new Mac online and have it in your hands before that.

Another message to Microsoft may be coming from Samsung who are rumoured to be about to drop the Windows mobile software for Android according to Electronista. That will hurt; and what usually happens is that Ballmer sends out insults rather than looking at the root problem. Mind you, some people think the real root problem is Ballmer.

UK plug Another of the men we love to hate is Rupert Murdoch; and I think he is much more dangerous than Ballmer. He likes his businesses to pay (fair enough) and likes to wield a lot of political influence. On that first point, to get through to some of the content on online newspapers, we need to register and I simply decline. There are other sources. Always. It is suspected that the registration will be extended to a pay plan for some content, and the Wall Street Journal is already moving this way. Now we are told that Murdoch plans to block Google from NewsCorp content.

Related to this in some ways is the news that the German publishers of Bild-Zeitung are objecting to access via the browser on the Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia or what have you, so insist that if anyone wants to access their content, they must buy their app. And pay their fees on top. Someone else not getting the idea, methinks. It still works on my iPhone, apart from the Flash content; and with Safari on the Mac.

We also hear that Singapore is to have a 3rd carrier for the iPhone: StarHub.

Among the rumours that drifted by this week was one from Jeff Gamet at MacObserver, who tells us that some sources are hinting an update to the iPod touch in December. A bit late for Xmas, but what do I know?

On Tuesday evening, TUAW covered a piece on the CEO of Nvidia, who apparently loves Macs. But most interesting was the device he had in front of him on the table. I have copied the image from the TUAW page and it is also shown in the article by Mike Schramm which has lots of interesting links.

Something new to end with. I read on Geek Sugar an item on Toyota, who had made their own font using a car.

iQ_font The Toyota site has the video to prove it and there is a link to download the font, as well, on the same page. Toyota call it the iQ font and the download is only small. When it was in the Mac's Download's folder, I opened the zip file and started the application, Font Book, which I never usually touch. In that, there is an Import feature and the font went straight into a section for the User (me) only. The computer slowed a bit and I wondered if this was an incompatible font -- this sometimes causes problems for users. But we seem to be OK and I wrote a brief passage in TextEdit. It also works in Mail when rich text formatting is used and it also worked in NeoOffice once I had restarted the application.

Interesting, and our thanks to Toyota for thinking outside the box.

Too Good to Miss?

Kit Kat A note on a comment from last week and Applecare for iPhones in Thailand. We have some confirmation via the Friends of iPhone Facebook page -- precisely what this was set up for -- with the following: "Applecare is not yet available in Thailand because Apple is still studying "business opportunity: to sell Applecare for the Thai market." Truemove will follow up with Apple once such service becomes available." At least it seems to be a work in progress.

There was a rumour floating around that seems to have flowered [excuse the mixed metaphor - Graham] now concerning Radio Shack. It will soon be another outlet for the iPhone. I guess this is in the USA where Radio Shack has 5,000 outlets. There used to be a branch in Amarin Plaza, near the Erawan Hotel, but I guess that has long gone along with that first class record shop, Pia. The hardening of the rumour sent shares of both Apple and Radio Shack up.



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