Tech

iPad 2017: A Few weeks In

You may have noticed I used to do a lot more Apple evangelist type stuff. Then again I used to blog more often too, for the Apple stuff though there has been a lot less to write home about as the computer tech world seems, to me anyway, to be stuck in a malaise of mediocrity. Nothing is particularly bad, Windows has caught up to MacOS again after deciding that desktops are different than tablets and phones. Thanks for playing guys.

iOS 10.3 is an excellent platform for all your mobile needs as is the latest version of Android. It is down to personal preference which you prefer, unless you go bargain basement both operating systems have similar features albeit in different places.

But I got myself a new iPad. Go figure.


My MacBook is wonderful, but very old being born as she was in 2009. So I thought the iPad would take the strain of my daily use prolonging the life of “old faithful” and with the £100 price cut and the introduction of a new faster chip (A9) it was a no brainer even for me.

As firmly ensconced in the Apple infrastructure as I am, this is my first iPad (not made by Fisher Price) set up was a breeze. I actually used my iPhone as wi-fi hotspot as I am a child and couldn’t wait to get it home to set up. Sign in with your Apple ID and you are good to go. As long as you have iCloud turned on everything from email to bookmarks and photos were available to me. My tinfoil hat has long been folded up in a drawer, if people want to find out about you they will whatever you do. Chances are they don’t so you may as well use cloud services for the ease of use they bring. Apple have been in court fighting for user privacy, so I don’t think they’ll want to see my iCloud pictures of my prize winning rooster or my Persian cat. Someone tells me there are enough pictures of cocks and pussys freely available on the internet.

More professional reviewers than I say that the Pro line of iPad’s are designed to replace computers. Well I couldn’t afford one of those and all I do these days is browse and write, sometimes at the same time thanks to the great split screen feature. So, so far the iPad (unprofessional) is doing a great job. Yes if I was a YouTuber I might be pushed to edit video on it, but as long as I didn’t run out of storage (I got the 32 gb version) iMovie could do a passable job 1080p editing.

I have got faster typing on the virtual keyboard. Although I feel in the coming months I will get some kind of stand/case/keyboard thing. Dunno which yet due to the wonderful naming convention system. This simple boy is confused.

So far, very pleased. It does everything I thought it would. Battery good, screen good, apps plentiful. For what it is, it’s a very good value device.

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My Week with Apple Watch: Day 5, He Hasn’t asked for it back yet!

When I started writing these i only ever envisaged doing a working week with them. Why? Because I’m lazy and no-one cares what I write!!

So day 5 has to be some kind of conclusion. Well here goes:

Apple Watch Sport

The Apple Watch is truly great at what it is, people have accused Apple of taking other peoples ideas and claiming them as their own. Well watches were around long before Steve Jobs looked like a geeky Ashton Kutcher. So yes they took this and improved on it.

As a smart watch, fitness tracker, style icon (for the “look what I got” people) and remote for the third gen Apple TV it is second to none. If you are far more active than I and already have an iPhone it’s a no brainer.

That said, I’m not that active and although notifications were nice to get, I’m not comfortable with dictating messages via Siri so I always reached for my phone to reply to messages and pretty much everything else. It is nice to be able to look at the time on my wrist. But a cheaper dumb watch will do that.

I think the cost is a factor for me. If someone got me a Apple Watch for Xmas or it was 50% off on Cyber Monday I would be grateful/tempted. Because I have enjoyed it, I can now put it on at the first time of asking, and it is a very nice object, I like the chunky design. However I would bulk at paying Apple Watch money for something I’m not going to utilise fully.

Of course.. unless my friend actually asks for it back…. no rush eh!

My Week with Apple Watch: Day 2, Health and Efficiency

I said yesterday I didn’t set up the fitness elements of the Apple Watch right from the get go. Two reasons for this, I was short of time as I said and also I’m hardly “Mr Five-a-Day” healthy. I like to keep myself active, but I also like a full english breakfast from time to time. But its a feature and I thought it might be fun to actually see what gets my heart racing.

Like the set up of the watch in general the Activity monitor is easy to set up. Tell your watch how tall you are (short!), how heavy you are and how active you are (not very) and you are good to go. The watch then displays 3 worms. Red for Calories burned (actively) Green for exercise and blue for how long and how often you have stood up. The more you do the more achievements you unlock.

It did occur to me that wheelchair users may want to use this to track exercise and calories burned. To be told to stand up every hour would be a trifle annoying. Thankfully you can turn this off in the settings. Not that I have.

The daily goals are attainable and the watch will display words of encouragement to get you moving even a little more. Which has to be a good thing.

So thats the Health, what of the efficiency. Well I’ve decided not to charge the watch tonight and see how it does. It’s on 51% now so I’m not holding my breath.

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This woman is wearing an Apple Watch on her right wrist.

My Week with Apple Watch: Day 1, Strap On Issues

“Guess what I got (on loan)
Picture attached.

“Is that an Apple Watch? Why on loan?”
“Yes it is, (You were the first notification I got) My friend is going through an anti tech phase. Wants to live without it for a week see how he gets on. So he isn’t tempted I get it for a week to see if I like it.”

“Your friend is weird”

Who am I to argue with beautiful wisdom from across the pond. My friend is weird, but I knew that because he’s friends with me. I get a shiny watch to play with. So why haven’t I got one already? I’m a Apple guy.

Well, I’m not a watch guy, haven’t worn one for 17 years and my bank doesn’t offer Apple Pay a huge selling point of the watch. Also I haven’t had the money. So no pressing need. But I am an apple geek and it’s a nice thing. So why not try it out, remembering of course to take it off when I have a bath, for it isn’t water proof.

1st impressions. We’ll obviously no unboxing for me, but set up (off wrist) is so easy. Line your iPhone camera up with the pattern on the watch screen and boom you are paired. A few questions follow about transferring available Watch companion apps for the apps I have on my phone. And it’s set.

Strap on issues…I am cack-handed. My friend knows this and he showed me method for putting the watch on. I still couldn’t for a good 10 attempts. The strap on the sport model is a nicely made rubber affair with a stud for fastening (much like my gimp mask) but instead of a traditional strap the left over strap gets tucked in back towards your wrist. I kept fastening it only for it to come undone whilst tucking. Who hasn’t come undone whilst tucking…

I skipped the bit about health as I am running short on time. I will cover more about that in tomorrows piece. Now it’s on and I look forward to notifications, I’m off to work.

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Apple Watch: Modelled by a Sasquatch clearly

Apple Fitness

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything techy… been a long time since I’ve written anything but hey. Today is iOS 9 release day, so prepare for the masses to bork Apple’s servers and/or complain that they have no space for the update on their devices and this is somehow Apples fault.

Last week they announced a new iPad pro that is the size of a house, comes with a stylus (Sorry Steve) and is clearly aimed at the business market. An example along side the 6/6s plus of Apple providing people with what the markets think they think they need, rather than just doing their own thing. Oh and there was a new iPhone, fetching in ringpiece pink. (I think that’s what they called it)

All that is not what excites me. If I was a app developer I wouldn’t be writing this, I’d be busy making a million dollars. Tim Cook’s barmy army announced a new Apple TV, with Apps. Now here’s the idea, you can have it for free. Apple TV Fitness.

The Apple TV coupled with the Apple Watch could, with a clever app on both devices, provide a home aerobic workout that is personalised, not only to you in general, but to you at that very instant. The apple watch monitors your heart rate and motion, so could influence the workout you see on screen. No more gym membership, no more putting up with the odours of farty Clarence whilst listening to the inane coaching stylings of Jenni “Woo yeah c’mon”

You are slowing, mid workout, Apple TV fitness coach encourages you. You do something well, there is praise. Want to workout with Homer Simpson or Ozzy Osbourne, it happened to Sat Nav why not workout? People will pay for different trainers/voices. If someone writes these apps I don’t have the skill to write there is money to be made. Hell throw in Apple Music in there as well and you could become an “iron man” led by Ozzy accompanied by “Iron Man”

I know you have Wii Fit and a few titles for Kinect and PS4. This however could change the game. Not for me, I have no time to keep fit, I’m off to sign up for the developer programme and to learn Swift.

Pong Never Had Safe Mode

On the 3rd of January this year my Playstation 4 died. It returned from Sony on Monday. Last night 3 days after its return it promptly did a reverse Jesus and died again. This time however (at the time of writing) I managed to channel the gods of geek and fix it, not that there is much your average geek can do with a dualshock controller and closed OS.

I’ve been a casual gamer for a long time. I am not a pro, or semi pro or any good. I don’t care enough about “awesome headshots” in CoD or Levelling Up in WoW to trouble the top scores pages. I play for fun, I play online and whilst battling my complete lack of dexterity I occasionally manage to beat other people from all over the world in dazzling HD.

My PS4’s frailty of late has made me think back to the early years of gaming. Mid 80’s Commodore 64 for me. Press Play on Tape! Yes the games took ages to load, yes they sometimes crashed but the C64 remained in perfect working order for me to either try again or load something else. I even roped my family in for sessions of “Winter Games” My Mum ably representing the USSR in the ski jump.

Move forward a few years to my first console the grey box of wonder that was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Instant load times due to cartridges, age old tradition of “If it’s broken, blow on it” This technique worked with the SNES too and a simple tap of the reset button worked for everything else. No firmware updates, or patches. Everything worked 99.9% of the time.

Now with progress we get games that are released half finished (Watchdogs) because consoles are connected to high speed broadband. Even if you pre-order a title on disc your console will find an update the second the disc is inserted.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a gamer in a era of epic titles like the Last of Us, a true work of art (if you haven’t played it.. go now) but as a console gamer who is a bit of a geek I am frustrated by the lack of info the system gives me if it goes wrong. When my console was returned by Sony no information was given in regards to what they actually did.

In conclusion I guess the price we pay for cutting edge is that we might fall off occasionally and we won’t know why. But we will join the queue to hop back on, and it will be different Oh yes it will be different.

PS4 and Dualshock 4

Happy Birthday Mac

30 years ago today the first Apple Macintosh was announced in the US. There was very little whooping and clapping and certainly no-one had been sleeping outside on the New York streets for 3 days to get their hands on one. But what an impact the Mac had. First time I used one I didn’t like it!! It had one mouse button and was being hogged by a friend who was showing me how to put flames round some writing in Photoshop.

No thanks. I thought, I’ll stick to my PC, it runs Championship Manager 2.

I was wrong.

Without the Mac we quite possibly wouldn’t have had The Mouse, Copy and Paste, MS Powerpoint, smartphones, iPods, Usable tablet devices, and digital music stores amongst other things. Sure all these things probably would have sprung up, but in very different forms than they are now. It’s always pointed out to me that Microsoft pioneered the tablet PC years before the iPad. Trouble is Microsoft always want their mobile devices to run the same software as desktops the devices are always doomed. They haven’t learnt from past mistakes.

Microsoft have of course played a huge role in the success of the Mac. Developing MS Office for the Mac and investing $150 million in 1997. At a time where Windows was king and the Mac was on dicey ground indeed.

Fast forward to the present day. Whereas in the UK the PC used to rein supreme the humble Mac has gained a significant market share in the home market. Even in the office where I work more Mac’s are thankfully appearing, I just wish the people who had them (not me) knew how to use them. Mind you it does give me a opportunity to be a Mac Geek at work, which is much better than trying to eat my Dell keyboard because I have tried to use a Mac keyboard shortcut.

Main question I see on Twitter is (computer wise, not about Justin Beiber) “Is the Mac worth the extra money?”

The question in itself is wrong. If you spec the a PC to the levels of the Mac Pro the home built PC will be more expensive. But MacBook Air is more expensive than £250 PC. If you want a machine that is not only usable but runs the same as the day you got it the MacBook Air will not disappoint.

I hope the Mac will continue to be around in some form for at least another 30 years and that Apple continue to Think Different.

(WMB4X) What Price Progress?

Just give me approximately two minutes. Will ya? Now about a minute. Cheers! Now under a minute.
Still under a minute… Please bear with me.
Hang on. Now wait a minute. Or two. Wait five hours.

Hey ok I’m ready. Welcome to today’s WMB4X post. That five hours went quick didn’t it. But the under a minute seemed to last much longer.

If you use a computer (in the broadest sense iPads, phones included) which I’m guessing you do as you are reading this. You will have encountered a progress bar. Now software designers can tart it up, pinwheels, beachballs, circles, eclipses or camel toes.

All progress bars of one type or another. Your device is busy. Please wait.

Now I understand that not everything can be instant. I don’t mind a wait. However I hate progress bars that are not in any form a representation of where you are in the process. For example a bar which is 50% full you would expect would be half way through the process. Just like if you drink half a cup of tea you have the same amount of lovely until you have to get up and make another.

But no. 50% progress bars mean diddly. The first 50% can whizz by and the second half might not be done even if you leave it to go and inflate Ingrid and have a night of passion. We live in a world of multi-cores 64bits and Intel Rampant rabbits. You would have thought with all this they will have given you something that can accurately tell you when your porn is downloaded..when your updates are done.

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The view from my desk


You wanna test out the progress bar in your browser. Go check out the Resident Weebles blog mine loaded in 3 seconds.

(28DW) Geek Future

As a proud geek, I often wonder where we will be in the future in terms of the tech we have. A friend of mine just purchased a new MacBook Air, lucky bastard. It is light, thin and powerful. By comparison my 3 year old MacBook looks light years away.

By Paul Hudson from United Kingdom (11″ MacBook Air compared to 13″ MacBook) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Looking at Jonny Ive’s design (that all the ultra book manufacturers copied) I struggle to see where they can improve. Yes I’m sure they will get quicker and storage will grow (or become cloud based) the screens on all Apples machines will be retina displays but aside from that.

The keyboard on the Air is full size, a thing of which apple are proud, it makes the air easy to operate. So I can’t see them going smaller, nor can I see them doing away with the physical keyboard. Although currently I am typing this on my iPhone, the virtualised keyboards of iDevices don’t make for good long term typing options. The screens will not get smaller, for we need to see what we are doing. Google have their goggles, which incorporate a display onto glasses but again how comfortable will that be for long term use.

It’s not just hardware I ponder. Software too, games, graphics, operating systems. Microsoft have gone down the touch screen route for their latest version of Windows. Some operations easier to perform with a finger on the end of a cramped hand on the end of a achey arm. Than with a traditional mouse, but touch screens don’t work, thanks for playing. One division of Microsoft who has got it right is the Xbox. Their motion controlled gaming system Kinect, is truly revolutionary. I hate it, because you can’t use it sat down, but the tech behind it is amazing.

Couple this with the advances in graphics and its now increasingly the case that games look very real and you are performing real actions. Fast forward generations into the future and in Grand Theft Auto 8 you will be stabbing a very real looking prostitute in the face. All boyish prevado aside (y’know the inner 9 year old who says “that will be cool”) will that be fun? Really? If nothing else it will give the “video games cause serial killings” people serious ammunition.

Additionally no-one could have predicted how the smart phone has revolutionised our lives. I used to feel anxious when I mislaid my Nokia 3210, when I mislay my iPhone I go batshit mental. Now I would be lost without it. Everything is on this mixture of aluminium and glass. Who knows what they will do? If it will in the long term enrich our lifes or just extend the control these screens have on our increasingly Orwellian existence.


Please check out the work of my 28DW Comrades at The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium 

Goal

It’s a rush of adrenaline, it’s a second or two of mass hysteria. Thousands of people rising to their feet in unison. Fists punching the air, voices and heart rates raised to new levels an almost primal reaction.

On the other hand it’s despair, crusher of hopes dreams and ambitions. Peering through fingers in disbelief often at the very people who are ardently celebrating your ineptitude. You’ve been here before, so have they. They know, so they are savouring their moment in the sun.

It’s a GOAL.

Or is it, did it cross the line? Was he offside?
Surely that was a foul ref. Are you blind?

Today, QPR scored a goal. But it will in the fullness of time be forgotten. This goal will never be recorded in the QPR history books, because even though the ball crossed the white line of destiny (the goal line) the goal was not given. The linesman said it did not cross the line.

QPR's "Goal" Image BBC SPORT

QPR went on to lose 2-1. Denial of what was a clear goal may have cost them dear. My own club Reading have also been involved in a controversial non-goal. As you can see the ball goes nowhere near the goal, and yet we scored!

So the FA have announced they want video technology to be introduced. Is this a good thing? I have to admit I am torn. On one hand, it should ensure a fairer game, but where do you stop? If there is a foul in the build up to a goal, does that get appealed and sent for review? If not why is this “non-goal” given less important than any other.

The referral system works excellently in many sports, notably cricket. It also proves that 95% of the time umpires are correct. It works in cricket because it is a stop-start game, with only a few variables to check. In football there are very few breaks in play, and even expert summarisers with the 300 cameras Sky have on each game still cannot come to a consensus. Then of course there is the beautiful game itself.

One of the reasons football is so popular is it’s simplicity. A ball is just about the only piece of equipment you need. It is played on a amateur level world wide by millions. The same game. The likes of FC Barcelona can afford HD cameras on the goal line, HD cameras up both of Lionel Messi’s nostrils if they want. FC Dog ’n’ Duck cannot.

Now in English football we have the greatest cup contest in the world. The FA Cup. The reason why I love it is that amateur sides can enter. They can go from 9 people watching them play at their home ground to 76,000 people watching them play at Old Trafford against Man Utd. Now what if FC Dog ‘n’ Duck held Man Utd to a draw at Old Trafford and they brought them to their ground behind the local Lidl’s. Barry a welder by trade, Ducks centre forward through on goal, smashes it to the top left, it hits the bar and bounces down. Is it over the line? Who knows? No cameras on the goal line. Whereas if a similar goal was scored at Old Trafford the whole would know, and no-one would have anything to write about, blog about, or talk about.

That’s the other thing about football. It is a soap opera. A game of opinions like no other. Do we really want Siri to tell us if that was a goal or not, or do we want officials who are human who will occasionally get it wrong sometimes.. just like the players.