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A fair amount of water under the IT bridge this week, with CES notable for what was not there, and to an extent who was. While many pro Microsoft commentators tried to make much of Ballmer's so-called keynote speech, it was little more than an extended advertisement with only a couple of minutes given over to an HP tablet computer.
You may have a longer version here than in the Bangkok Post. Lucky you. I had so many apps to play with that in the end I decided to keep the whole review and let the Post cut what they want [They didn't].
I made a few errors in terms of names of the apps in that article, mainly because I was relying on the iPhone screen and the small print there. That and my eyes are obviously not reliable with tiny characters. The links in the article are, however, correct.
I wish I could get over to my students that if I can make mistakes as a native speaker of English when I am writing, they can too.
During the week Retro Camera, which I mention, had a small update as did that i-nigma app for barcodes. More on these later. Also updated was iVideoCam from Laan labs and that finally made the video downloaded to the computer usable and they did a good job of this update with several other features added. No word as yet on the video from TimeLapse, which is also from Laan.
Having just introduced the HP tablet computer, which he called a slate - he even has to copy a name - Steve Ballmer was interviewed and said, in a massive vote of confidence for the product he had just highlighted, but not a Microsoft tablet computer, that there was not much of a market for tablets.
The link to the MacDaily News comment on this is most useful as they also include that Ballmer video: not the monkeyboy dance, but the one in which he laughs at the iPhone.
I wonder if he will also laugh at Apple's announcement in a couple of weeks' time. Right now a lot of people are chuckling at Ballmer as what was billed as a pre-emptive strike was a damp squib. Whatever he did as well was totally overshadowed by the non-presence of Apple.
After the dust had settled, some observers began looking at Nexus One, once they had cleared the motes cast by Pogue and Mossberg who seem always to enthuse about anything they get their hands on early. Many blinked and said, So what? It does litle more and sometimes less than the iPhone and has currently considerably fewer apps to enhance the experience. Some however are really enthusiastic and Henry Blodget uses this as an opportunity to tilt at Apple's closed system again. Eye off the ball here I am certain.
I mentioned Pogue a moment ago and although I read his early comemnts as quite positive, he seems to have had some second thoughts in the following days. . . . . Or maybe they were first thoughts badly reported.
One of the oddest approaches came from the family of Philip K. Dick. It was he who wrote, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? on which Blade Runner was based. They are claiming it is an infringement of intellectual property rights, which makes as much sense to me as much of what Ballmer says, as the word Nexus is Latin and means a joining. It comes from the Latin verb nectere. Did you know I have enough credit hours to teach Latin in Illinois?
When I first heard the name of the phone, my immediate thoughts went not to Philip K. Dick (better write that in full) but to Henry Miller who wrote the trilogy, Sexus, Plexus and Nexus beginning in 1949 and ending 10 years later. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was written in 1968.
And there was some angst from customers of the Nexus. Some people actually bought this and then we are supposed to be surprised that there were problems. What was not so good was that Google and their support teams -- carriers and HTC the maker -- were unable to sort out between them who was responsible and who the customers should contact leading some of them into a round the houses session, just to be told at the end to try restarting. This was also reported on Huffington Post. Electronista also report later that Google is maling buyuers of the Nexus One pay twice if they cancel with what is called an "equipment recovery fee." Good one that. Stick to the iPhone. We also heard on Tuesday that following complaints the Android 2.1 SDK was released.
We mentioned last week, Fred Vogelstein at Wired and a column on MacObserver takes this up, and comments especially on the negative feedback that Vogelstein had. It is sad that the commentator in the column, Just a Thought, has to go out of the way to parry any critics who might read this as just another fanboy, as I had to last week when someone tweeted in reply to what I wrote, "Apple is a religion". There's no way I can answer that.
Boy Genius is not one to pull punches and he is not at all impressed with the Nexus One and the approach taken by Google; and he uses terms like "fragmented, poorly executed" in a lengthy look at the device in which he apologises for comparing it so much to the iPhone, but honestly what else can he compare it to? And that comparison may come home just that bit more when we think about the apps -- or lack of apps -- for the device. Believe me, these make a phenomenal difference to one's experience. The Boy Genius Report is well worth taking the time to read.
Josh Lewenson reports a comparison between the cameras of the iPhone and Nexus One and mentions the rumour of LED flash units and I have some more on that later.
Unsurprisingly with the specs of the Nexus One and its flash, it came off much better and he mentions the grainy nature of pics in low light conditions, something we have also found. I guess in some ways this is a proof of the idea that competition is a good thing. The Nexus appeared because of the iPhone and this is one of the developments that is sure to spur development of the iPhone even more. Rightly, Lewenson favours the camera in Google's phone, but wait a few months and see what we get then.
Microsoft may also be a bit worried about the Google phone and worries it may have the same fate as the Zune" remember that? Daniel Eran Dilger takes a useful look at some of the fallout from CES.
I don't know what others think of CES but it all seemed a bit of a non-event to me. The Nexus iOne was expected and Ballmer's keynote speech, as I said earlier, was an extended Microsoft marketing exercise and not anything like clarion call to the industry. I have a link to it on the podcast page if you can stay awake. I have a video of this on the page that goes with the podcast and not only does the HP thing look like a big iPhone, especially from the front, that screen behaves just liike it too, even down to the pinch. I can just hear Apple Legal moving their chairs back now.
The standard of several touchscreens was checked and the reports posted online during the week. Lots of sources had this, but I have the link to the labs who did the testing. Guess where the iPhone ended up.
I read often that some people do not like iTunes. To be honest, I never notice. It does what I want, plays the music and videos, captures the podcasts and integrates with the iPods and iPhone I have in such a way as I say, I never notice which is surely what we want as users.
Last week I was teaching some graduates, one of whom has an iPhone - lucky students, eh? After our writing session, he wanted to ask me about problems he was having with the 3G service. it didn't work. We have a 3G antenna out at Salaya partly because True have some programs with the university, but who knows how this may differ to the hi-so ones in Siam? That was my first thought.
It used to work, he told me. So using motorcycle techniques as a way to analyse, I asked what he had changed. He had jailbroken it; and not for the first time. It worked all right before he wailed. But he wanted some games or apps that were not in the App Store, so took the risk of turning it into a brick. I gave it back and implied, More foo you, pointing out the recent worms that affect phones whose owners have unlocked them in this way. As with OS X, Apple does this in part to make sure malware has a harder time. Score so far, no malware for the iPhone and no viruses for Macs. I think I can live with that.
We used to be fans of Palm but of late they have dropped off the radar a bit and there were even rumours this week that the company may be a candidate for Apple to sweep up according to Richard Waters at the Financial Times. I was a bit surprised to read a comment in Digital Daily from the CEO, Jon Rubinstein that he had never used an iPhone. Not that he has to of course, but surely, know thine enemy works in business as well as in war. In the interview reported, he also said, "We don’t pay that much attention to Apple" and added that he knew it sounded strange. I think so too.
Obviously comments and rumours concerning Apple increased following announcements at CES and one of the interesting ones was that the tablet thing will not have Intel inside but will use processors from PA Semi: the same as the next iPhone we hear.
First however, it has been announced that the Q1 earnings report will be released on Monday 25 January, which is two days before the rumoured announcement of the tablet-iPad-netbook-whatever. What a week that is going to be (and I will get that on the podcast.
With the highest sales ever to be included, this should be good reading. I also hear that locally, sales over the new year period were good (an unusual word to come from a retailer) but when I asked about now, there was the usual glum face. One thing I was told was that the 13" MacBook Pro is going much better than the 15" version and more people seem to be moving to the smaller footprint.
One of the rumour takes came from Dan Frommer who tells us not about the tablet but about its operating system. He pulled out three quotes, but the last was the most interesting to me: "It's a big iPhone, but it's not just a big iPhone." There are also hints that the OS may be hard to learn, btu do you remember all those stories about the iPhone keyboard just after it was announced from all those people who hadn't handled it. I did the day after it was first shown by Steve and I was impressed immediately.
A couple of years back, I wrote some ideas on the sort of technology that Apple might be using for the (then) soon to be released iPhone. One of the technologies I suggested then was FingerWorks which Apple owns. At that time, June 2007, I was off the mark, but rumours now suggest that this might be something used for the Tablet and it gets a bit more interesting as the site is now no longer accessible. TUAW also had something on this.
But what if the tablet does not exist? . . .
We are told that, unsurprisingly, the next update to OS X is on its way -- at least the developers have it. OS X 10.6.3 is reported to be over 650MB. Lots of bugs have fixes, David Caolo of TUAW tells us, including printing issues with iCal, Mail and PhotoBooth, while the update apparently includes native support for the Magic Mouse.
There are also rumours concerning processor changes to the MacBook Pro, specifically what is called the Arrandale, otherwide known as the Core i5 range. There is a special version for laptops and the Mac range could well be in for a change real soon. I sort of hope not if I am about to change my 15" MBP; but then I need this right now not in a month or more deoending when they arrive here. This is just a rumour at the moment, however Acer have already announced two models using this processor.
We also started to hear rumours this week concerning the next iPhone or maybe the iPod touch as according to Chris Foresman there is rumoured to be an LED flash installed in something coming up.
Also, the GPU will be changed and it is rumoured that a processor from Imagination Technologies may well be used.
With the next iPhone on the way, some people have put in their wish lists. One of these is Michael Grothaus on TUAW who has some smart ideas about how the device might be developed.
However, Korea Telecom are said to be introducing a 4G iPhone with organic light emitting diode (OLED) screen and live video chat in April. The main source for this is Kim Yoo-chul of the Korea Times but I will leave the MacDaily News item up in case something disappears.
Another week, another lawsuit and I love this one. A man in Santa Fe -- that is California of course -- is suing his neighbour because she refuses to turn off her iPhone. And her laptop actually: she charges these overnight and he claims this is causing him to lose sleep. This is not the first time the man, Arthur Firstenburg, has been in court.
I heard a few weeks ago that Word for the Mac was not part of that amazing lawsuit that had Microsoft up against the wall. Nothing wrong they said concerning Word, then set about fixing it; but now there is a fix coming for Mac versions: "we are changing the product to allay any potential concerns about compliance" they say. What a good idea.
I was as amused as the BBC newsreader on Monday when we all got a look at Dan Simmons breaking an unbreakable mobile phone. He was hitting it in an unusual way on the side of a fishtank, but the look on the face of SONIM CEO, Bob Plaschke shows how utterly surprised he was.
Sorry if anyone tried to look at Planet of the Apps on True Visions, CNBC on Friday morning here. I was not really surprised to see that programming in the region is not the same as in the US and the channel focused on markets on this side of the Pacific.
On Friday morning I also found a Bonjour update from Apple that improves connecitons betwen iTunes and Apple TV. It only took a few seconds to download and install. I did not see it on the Apple Downloads pages and my update came via Software Update.
And early this week there was an update to the Remote Desktop Client software. Software Update had this and it will also be available via Apple Downlaods.
Someone who read the barcodes column last week got in touch and sent me a PDF of a colujmn called, "Infolust" that had a look at barcodes of several types and enlarged on some of their uses. He wrote that this was a year or more old, so I went looking on the "Trend Watching" website. It was actually first published in April 2006 and apart from the breathless need to cram in as many ideas as possible, a lot of the information is as good now as it was then. The reader also told me that it was possible to make a QR code for geo-coordinates as well which I had not known, so I have been playing with Google maps.
On apps, it is good to hear that Apple have sharpened up here after some justified criticism that appeared towards the end of last year and some fairly bad publicity. The process is apparently much faster now.
We mentioned a few weeks ago a rumour that had AIS as second iPhone carrier here. Remembering the earlier comments of the chief exec, I was a bit surprised, but (hey) this is business. Now we hear that DTAC are in the running which would suit me a lot more as I already have a DTAC number and in the absence of number portability, which is expected to arrive some time after 3G here, I prefer to be with them.
Two updates we heard of this morning (Wednesday): Logic Pro 9.1 has been released; and MainStage, which is part of the Logic Studio Suite has been updated as well. Along with bug fixes and the like, there is support for 64-bit native mode.
A letter in the Post Database Wednesday morning from an unhappy Mac user caught my attention. This was the first time I had seen this but one thing I wondered about was that, if he had recently bought this machine, as he writes, why is there no mention of AppleCare: was it out of warranty and thus not a recently made machine? It is clear that someone has dropped the ball here by not making some standard checks on the machine, but with the next MacBook he bought, I presume he did check the specs before buying so aready knew there was no Firewire. Like me, the readers are not in possession of all the facts.
Too Good to Miss
Out with the new, in with the old at CES in a welcome return by Polaroid. Rescued by The Impossible Project, they have brought back a new version of the instant film and a new One Step camera.
I was just thinking the other day how I wish I had kept that Box Brownie I had as a kid in the 1950s.
The podcast used to be the cutting edge of new technology use, giving the solo user access to millions, at least in theory. Now the establishment has got on the bandwagon to an extent with podcasts from the BBC (quite good actually), NBC and others. This week we are up to 234 which is something over 4 years and I listened earlier this week to Accident Hash number 300 which was also the 5 year anniversary.
C.C Chapman was one of the earliest to see the potential for artists with limited resources and no record contracts and all of the music he uses is what is called, podsafe: it treads on no one's toes as far as copyright is concerned. While CC has gone on to do a lot of other media things, he still comes back to Accident Hash and it gives listeners much pleasure. During the five years he was another to switch from PC to Mac.
Movie news: we hear that Avatar has been the biggest grossing movie ever, while a new version of Startrek is almost certainly on the cards, but Spiderman 4 has been shelved.
As an idea of just how bad the US car industry is, according to Geek Sugar one manufacturer has released its hybrid concept and says it is "aimed at the 8-bit generation." Does that mean it comes with the Commodore 64 installed or is that an extra?
I am looking at an app for Angkor next week and trying to find out some background information, proved to me just how the memory plaqys tricks after about 30 years. I had thought that the Clash had done both Holiday in Cambodia and the banned God Save the Queen, but I was worng on both counts: Dead Kennedy's for the first and Sex Pistols the other. What the Clash did among other things was a great album called London calling which I had at the time. I was also interested to hear this week that the British Post office is going to make that album cover into a postage stamp along with nine more including the Ziggy Stardust album cover. Most of these covers were all considered anti-establishment then, but now are the establishment.