Podcast #244

Following the Grand Prix Season with an iPhone: Formula 1 Timing, by Soft-Pauer; plus iPad, iPhone and other Apple developments; with local and international ideas and comments.

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play Almost as an antidote to problems everywhere, we enter the world of formula one and look at an app for followers of the sport.

Following the Grand Prix Season with an iPhone: Formula 1 Timing, by Soft-Pauer

The problem I had with the Section 2 timing was, as I suspected, connected with the feed from the F1 administration who also made a couple of other changes without passing on the information to Soft-Pauer and others. This will be fixed for the next race in Australia we have been told.

On apps, we were a bit taken aback to find that some reviewers have solicited money to review apps. The original story was on Wired.

Mike Schramm has some more details about this, including TUAW's assertion that they have had nothing to do with this. I must say that I was as shocked as everyone else claims to be, especially with my precarious finances. Of all the apps I have reviewed, maybe one or two have been given to me as review copies, like that Angkor app, that I would not have bought for myself. This is done in the same way as books are distributed; but apart from that odd couple, I have paid for all the rest (except the free ones of course) and that includes the one I reviewed this week at over $32. Mike Schramm mentions a code of conduct, and I am having a look at that.

While most reviewers have the promotion codes, these only work in the iTunes store in the US, so I have to jump through a couple of other hoops and the folks at Travelfish, game me a developer's download.

That code of conduct looks all very well, but there is no clear way that someone like me could join.

Kindle I note, there is a new Kindle app for the Mac. It is in beta at the moment. I downloaded this and when I entered my Amazon account details, the one book I had bought appeared in the list of archived items. A double click downloaded it and it opened at the same page I was on with the iPhone version, which was almost creepy. I was disappointed to find that I was unable to add anything I created on my own computer.

That is why I get fed up with people telling me and everyone else how restrictive Apple's iBook is going to be when it isn't even out yet, when here is the Kindle app and that has the restriction that I can only use content downloaded from Amazon; so the eBooks I make are useless for this application and useless for the app on the iPhone. At least Stanza will work. Until such time as users can actually try the iBook app, those loud-mouths should (A) reserve judgement and (B) criticise what IS restrictive, and restrictive now.

Let's take this a bit further. We mentioned last week the lack of copy and paste on Windows 7 phones and wondered about the reaction of those who condemned this lack on the original iPhone. I did not have to wait long and on Friday, John Gruber gave us the answer by highlighting comments of Paul Thurrott, who has a poor track record when it comes to Apple: "No matter," he writes, "Windows Phone combines those very few things that were right about Windows Mobile". Hypocrite.

As to that controversial feature, it will be coming, but later. According to one source, it was planned but had to be cut out to make the launch. Where are the howls of protest; the snorts of derision; especially after the dissembling from Mickeysoft when it was first noticed that Copy and Paste were missing.

pink flower There was a bit more on Amazon and the Kindle during the weekend and this touches on rates and contracts. We remember the problems with MacMillan when the iPad was first announced and how they disappeared from Amazon's shelves for a while with some embarrassment to the online sellers. Now, Amazon is pressuring publishers to sign 3-year contracts with Amazon, not only linking them for such a lengthy period, but writing into the contract that they cannot sell via other outlets for a better price: a clear aim at Apple and the iBookshop.

There is a certain smell of monopoly muscle-flexing here. Odd that Apple has created this situation when Amazon thought it had everything under control, and odd that some publishers prefer the Apple sales model. Are the usual Apple critics going to mention this, or the way Amazon is trying to strong-arm the publishers? Probably not, of course.

I saw a bit more news on Amazon and software earlier this week in TUAW, when Michael Grothaus wrote about the Kindle app for the iPad and Amazon's preview of this. I cannot improve on what Mr Grothaus has written so have a look at this and the implications; and follow the links he provides.

And while I am in the middle of recording this, we also hear that tension between Apple and Amazon has increased as Perseus Books is going to have its titles on the iBookshop [See also below]. Titles, we are told by Electronista, include Harvard University Press. There is likely to be a direct conflict here between the two online services and Perseus and talks appear to be ongoing. Like I said last week, when Apple comes into the equation, things change.

A short while back I mentioned an oddity that I had discovered: the Bing app had disappeared from the Thai app store. Apparently, it wasn't just the Thai store as Microsoft have taken it out of everywhere. They only meant it to be for the United States -- like the Zune, I guess. No plans for world domination there. Ina Freid writes that there are plans to develop international versions, whatever that means, and the rest of us (at least those who did not download it when it first came out) will have to wait. Another message from Redmond that those of us outside the US are not good enough.

While Microsoft had a couple of bad days in the courts last week, it got a little worse this week when one of last week's winners, VirnetX, filed another suit this time on infringements with Windows 7 and Windows Serve after the Vista and XP patent successes.

rabbit I cannot say I have been very happy with Twitter in my browser lately. With the increased traffic owing to certain events here, playing catchup has proved frustrating as sometimes the Home button does not work; while more often, the More icon at the bottom of the screen produces a "Whoops, something went wrong" response. I may have some success if I come back a little later, but after being in bed for a few hours, trying to catch up with overnight messages had the dog cowering once or twice. Dogs take the approach that everything in the world is their fault so they run for cover just in case. In the end, I decided to move away from the browser and use a client, deciding on Twitterific as I use that on the iPhone. But when I had downloaded it, I realised I already had a version. The update made it easier as I already had the settings entered. That was the second software duplication I found this weekend.

After 24 hours or so of using Twitterific, I realised why I had dumped it in the first place. It is too intrusive, even without its saccharine tweetie sounds every few minutes and unlike the browser feed, or the version on the iPhone, the time since the message was written is not shown.

Less than a year after replacing the battery in the MBP, it looked over the weekend as if I was going to have to think about another one. With a cycle count of 333, I saw in System Profiler the information, "Replace Soon", which signifies that the battery is functioning normally but holds significantly less charge than it did when it was new, according to Apple Support. Also, we are told a battery is designed to retain up to 80 percent of its original capacity after 300 full charge and discharge cycles, so it may just be that I use the computer a lot. On Monday morning after a complete discharge and power up to 100%, the battery condition was shown as Normal. As it is tax week this week, battery replacement was not something I wanted on my plate.

A good time to thank the sponsors I think. . . . . If you want to sponsor the podcast or the site, please get in touch.

Having upset the status quo, Nokia are now crying foul with Apple suing them back and their attorney asked for a dismissal in Apple's antitrust suit, suggesting that Cupertino is indulging in Legal Alchemy: revisionist history, misleading characterizations, unsupported allegations and flawed and contradictory legal theories, to turn its claims into gold, suggested the lawyer for Nokia. This one and the Apple claim against HTC are going to run for a while yet.

orchid I found a new iStudio outlet this week, and on my side of the river. I was pretty pleased when Com7 opened the first branch in Central Pinklao up on floor three, but now there is another in the basement level among all the PowerBuy stuff. Nicely spread out, it faces customers coming out of the supermarket and the cafeteria down there. I do think it is a better location than the other shop, which at one time was the only Apple outlet on the Thonburi side, because of the number of people always down there and who are mainly looking at tech stuff.

Also locally, True, having lost the monopoly on the iPhone (and I know not why, but I suspect it was fewer sales than expected) and picking up the Blackberry on the way, have now also gone in for the Motorola Droid thing. Going to be spreading themselves a bit too thin, methinks. I also noticed this week that advertising for the iPhone in iStudio outlets clearly display the DTAC logo. The True honeymoon is over.

Last week we cited some figures on iPad sales, including one of 152,000 for the weekend. A bit low suggests one analyst who does not give a higher figure, although mentions the way the pre-sales figures were recorded. Some analysts are telling us that iPad sales may be somewhere between 2 and 10 million for the first year. And to add to that, we are told by Dennis Sellers of Macsimum News that Apple has ordered some 13 million iPad screens.

Michael Grothaus also has some information on sales: this time apps and apparently there are now 170,000 apps in the App Store, a long way ahead of others, like Android with 30,000, RIM with 5,000 and Palm with 2,000.

Poor Palm. We read several sources that are saying the company is all but dead. A good lesson in the vagaries of business as this was once a leader in the PDA field. Look to someone buying this for next to nothing in the immediate future.

If you want to have your own app and, like me, don't have a clue about programming or any of the other steps to make the magic happen, help may be at hand with a couple of firms who, as Josh Lowesohn tells us, are into Apps for Dummies: build them in your browser. One of the services was offering this for a $25 fee which sounds fair. I am more than interested.

content Looking at those figures and projections that certain pundits and experts seem to ignore, I wonder, then, if these magicians of Wall Street, have thought about comments from Robert Murdoch who makes some odd pronouncements sometimes, although he does have proven, hands-on experience of running the world's largest media corporation. He was interviewed and told Fox News (one of his, by the way) that "All media is going to go onto the iPad" and that includes music, books, newspapers, movies. As we suggested in last week's Post Database article, some may have underestimated the catalyst effect that Apple sometimes creates, but not (apparently) Murdoch.

To add to the usefulness of the iPhone to companies or groups of friends is a patent filing by Apple that seems to deal with group communication in or near a location. One of the features of the filing concerns a virtual token that is sent out, which sounds like a form of cookie as near as I can describe it on the information that Dennis Sellers posts on this feature. This is worth a read. Consider now the apps that might be developed to make good use of these features.

orchid There is a lot of news this week concerning Google: its relationship with Apple, particularly Schmidt and Jobs; and the problems it is having in China, and we hear that Google is about to open the taps, to the annoyance of the government there and move to HK. The Chinese will block everything contentious. Both of these are long-running stories with no end in sight, so with plenty of other news sources covering these - and a few who have no real information, only speculation -- I am going to leave these alone.

What does have an end, however, is the Google pipe. This is a long-term plan to connect Asia better with North America as of course, smart brains in business realise that there is a vast untapped market this side of the Pacific; much like in the 1970s cigarette companies like Rothmans began to see the third world opening up as the European and US markets were becoming stale.

Of course, it may be that the Google phone, which is one of the things that has Apple reaching for the lawyers, and the problems in China are linked to the superfast data pipeline that Google and others put money into in ways big and small; but on the face of it, improving connections for the millions of users -- and potential users -- is a good thing, right?

We note that, despite some of the big players in the region putting money into this venture, which is called Unity, we understand, no Thai money has been used; so don't be surprised if the effects for us here are minimal.

Google did have one success this week when the EU gave them a pass over the use of keywords and fake luxury goods.

In one of the many bits of information that passed by last week, I saw a Tweet from Dan Sambaradaksa who mentioned that Thaksin Shinwatra had told his supporters to "listen to news on their BlackBerry" [sic]. I guess they cannot afford iPhones.

@ symbol A nice little aesthetic aside this week concerning a symbol we now use every day: @ -- that little a-like icon above the 2 key on a US-keyboard. It is Shift + Command + 2 on a Thai keyboard. MOMA - the Museum of Modern Art -- has declared this a work of art according to an article on Geek Sugar, in which they tell us that the symbol goes back several hundred years. There is something inherently pleasing about the shape.

The latest advertisements for the iPad have apparently gone viral, we are told. This is the modern term for popularity: a lot of people are watching them.

Talking of viruses which we will touch on in next week's main item, I saw an article on Tuesday by someone called Devon Unger of the Daily Athenian who is a little short on real information in his article claiming viruses on Macs. The newspaper is the University student newspaper, so we should cut them some slack, except that this went out via Huffington Post giving it a much larger circulation.

The first virus, he writes, was discovered in 2006, but fails to add this was a proof of concept and the hole has been fixed. He then quotes a technology support expert at West Virginia who tells him that there were 10 Mac computers on their system that had viruses. If anything was untoward, it might have been a Trojan; but in all probability, the Windows software they had protecting the system gave a false alarm like ours used to at work telling us that ALL computers on our subnet were infected. I would go home, and when I next connected, there was no report.

End Notes

Lots of sites on Tuesday evening were telling us that Opera has finally submitted its browser app to Apple. We are all waiting to see if this will be approved. With the google spat, the scarceness of Bing, might Apple just let this one through to liven things up?

leaves We read a serious change into the report that the US Army has been visiting Cupertino. The military have some heavy-weight requirements and if you have ever seen some of the beefed up laptops they use, or been in the military, you would understand why this is interesting. We have heard about iPhones in Iraq, and the way some soldiers got through to kids there with iPod use, but Chris Rawson details a whole load of other ways that the military might use Apple products and, as other companies might admit, a government contract of this nature means lots of income.

And a late confirmation which may go some way to shut up those fools who comment on Apple without knowing what they are talking about. Chris Rawson (again) writes about the project Gutenberg copyright-free resource, which now has thousands of ebooks. These will work in Apple's iBooks app. As Steve Jobs said they would, which some commentators totally ignored and brought up the bogey of Apple closed systems: try getting an ebook into Amazon's Kindle for the iPhone or the desktop. And of course if that iBook app is not immediately available this side of the Pacific, there is always Stanza.

Oh, and another publisher has joined that iBookshop: Workman Publishing Company.

The App Store changed its terms and conditions this week, so I had to click, Accept before I could download some updated apps. Unlike a lot of companies here, Apple only has a Thai version of the Conditions, and it would be really useful for the non-Thais who use the App Store, if we could have an English version as well.

Too Good to Miss?

Can you believe this? I hate to make you sit through a YouTube advertisement video, but there is a sting in the end when the choir in various offices is joined by Warren Buffet, now 3rd most wealthy man in the world, dressed up as Axl Rose and singing.

There were upgrades late last week for Logic Express (9.1.1) and Logic Pro (9.1.1).

One rumour we saw this week concerned the Mac Pro, which like the MBP is in need of updating. It was suggested that this week -- Tuesday -- was the day. It wasn't. Mind you, once this podcast is sent out, all bets are off.

We are also expecting that update to 10.6, Snow Leopard, 10.6.3 to arrive really soon.



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