#apple #iwatch It’s staying off…

About six weeks ago I opened a drawer and felt a twinge of nostalgia. Sitting there neglected was my 15 year old small b bling Tag Kirium; a chunky mix of (scratched to hell) steely bracelet, big sapphire case and maroon face. It made my oblong chunky black Apple Watch look like a cheap trinket by comparison.

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I suppose the Apple Watch does auto-set the correct date….

After a year or so daily use of my Apple Watch I thought – let’s see if I miss it.

Six weeks later.. nup.

Having defended the lack of use cases from Theo Priestley and sung praises where possible I revisited what I use the damn thing for..

The good…

  • Never miss a call, text, email, calendar reminder – vibrates on your wrist; this was useful as my phone always on silent (no-one wants to hear a selection of ZX Spectrum 8-bit sounds from the 1980’s – Atic Atac anyone? – and the squeaky baud signal cassette tape loading noise for a ring)
  • Quick replies to messages on the wrist – “OK”
  • Fitness App (Outdoor) – Pretty good for running, checking your progress – like the addition of the vibrate on each km in a recent update. Lack of GPS a pain unless you take your phone.
  • Music on the watch whilst running – with a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Pain carrying the phone so sacrificing GPS tracking for 2Gb of pre-loaded (very slowly!) music to keep you going for the dull monotony that is pavement pounding. Essential.

The stuff used at first, then meh…

  • Fitness App (Gym) – bit of a routine – set OPEN GOAL and run, workout before you go… I used to check out exercise time, heart rate etc. in the gym but it’s since more of a chore / habit / data gathering exercise for some future use case.
  • Travel App – telling me next public transport times… navigation such a pain, and has to be set up on the phone anyway, that you might as well do it on your phone..!
  • TripAdvisor – might as well on the phone..
  • The Time to Stand Up … stand up desk anyway…
  • The Goals tracker … meh…

The bad…

  • Phone calls on the wrist – once – really? Dick Tracey with emphasis on the first name.
  • The awful app navigation – app bubbles; useless
  • The “friends with iWatch” circle thingme and scribbles – never used
  • Performance – incredible slow opening apps

I think it’s just a case of … you’ve got a big screen phone right there close to the device anyway … so what’s actually useful on a small touch sensitive screen right  now… ?

So… no plans to return to the watch right now.

However – just by chance of my period of abstention was Apple WWDC with the announcement of watchOS 3.0 which should address some of my gripes…. but still not basic aesthetics and .. what you gonna do with it?

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Nevertheless – I shall give watchOS3.0 a bash come September and may order some dodgy knock-off mid-size b bling bracelet off eBay. Hot.Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 12.41.51 PM

What I’d like to see on the next watch…?

  • Better aesthetic styling! (chunky gold for you sir?)
  • Thinner
  • Faster
  • GPS – run tracking sans phone
  • Camera – snap sans phone whilst out running (with preview, usable whilst phone physically off the wrist without locking – prob re-use the inevitable FaceTime cam built into the face rather than a cam on the edge or strap as per first old Samsung Gear model)

But regardless… I may still be a meh  I don’t know …. I think I’d rather spend my spoondooleys on the Apple iPad/Macbook hybrid when (IF) it comes out…

Anyhow – I stand 600 bucks worth of corrected – the watch hasn’t found it’s niche yet.

 

#Apple #SurfaceBook … when you’re ready Tim

Macintosh_Classic_2I’m an Apple dude. Value proposition sold from my MacintPowerBook_G4_17osh Classic II  for my (shoddy) Comp. Sci. dissertation on the gusty streets of Edinburgh in 1994 to my first 17” Powerbook Aluminium G4 in 2003 which unbeknownst to me happened to coincide with the launch of OS X Panther. I’d already decided to switch – an upgrade to the OS was a
bonus! Overjoyed in the early days of Java when a bright young coder in my US team came to me with one of the company custom trading systems gamely running OS-agnostic on his Macbook as a holiday project. More gushing here.

Anyhoo – current Apple inventory consists of:

  • iPhone 6S+ 64Gb -64Gb schoolboy error; double it next time!
  • Mac Mini 2010 – 1st one with HDMI plugged into big arse TV – a respectable 2.4GHz with 4Gb RAM
  • Macbook Air 13” 2011 – 1.8Ghz proc with 4Gb RAM; still competitive with the latest Macbook – docked to:
    • Apple 2007 23” monitor (still going!)
    • Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, Mac on monitor stand
  • iPad Gen 1 64Gb 3G – 3G another schoolboy error – but it was the early days of tethering commercials negotiations with Telcos

macsTo the nub of the gist. I need a new computer. And I want to replace all the above bar the phone. What I need is:

  • 13” minimum touch screen
  • Detachable Keyboard
    • detachable tablet from keyboard (not fold around over keyboard design as HP Envy 2, Lenovo Yoga etc.)
    • keyboard when attached designed so it can actually be used as a laptop vs. a desktop lightweight keyboard; e.g. sitting on your knees on a train
    • screen when attached solid
  • Stylus – accurate with clickable pen controls
  • Connectivity – either on tablet or via (portable) docking station need at least
    • HDMI port – TV
    • Mini Display port – external monitor
    • USB schenanigans – USB schlep
  • Switchable OS mobile/full
    • mobile OS when touchscreen, full desktop OS when linked to keyboard.
    • Full desktop OS (with mouse, keyboard, external monitor) only going to cut it for productivity/multi-tasking. Split screen footering about on an iPad Pro? I don’t think so…

What sweeps the above almost is the MS Surface Book – albeit the fact it’s Windows, it’s microsoft-surface-book-detaching-the-screen_slideshow_mainApple-priced and with a bouncy screen when attached to the “miracle hinge”. Had a wee shot of the smaller Surface Pro in the Sydney Microsoft store which was pretty cool but non-lapable (as per iPad Pro).

Ah the Microsoft Store – always reminds me of the Sony Metreon centre in San Francisco in the early noughties with the first MS store I’d ever seen next to also the first Sony Store I’d seen outside Tokyo with a pile of very impressive shiney stuff. Take my money.

Over more recent years here in Sydney a tech retail hub has spawned around Pitt/George streets – proferring a plethora of Apples, Microsoft, Samsungs and Telstras with more incredibly bright lighting, light wood, big arse screens, jeans, valued individuals and lanyards than you can shake a stick at. Plenty distribution and more crucially (for non-Apple) marketing channels to scoop up the consumers.

iphone-macbook-pro-surface-book-2I note MS are pumping a more humble “Switch” campaign than Apple rocked out in the early 2000’s. I looked into switching and decided against the amount of conscious decoupling I’d need to do from the Apple ecosystem. Never mind the image of Balmer’s crazy eyes and sweating face I can’t get out of my head from that conference every time I see the Start button

Anyhoo – Apple wasn’t going to offer a proper hybrid with the iPad Pro –  and why would they? And canabalise their existing iPad product line?

So I can wait  a little longer whilst their hand is twisted by market forces (whilst my 5/6 year old hardware festers away) … unless they come up with another form factor you didn’t realise you needed…

Get your finger out Apple.

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Bereavement Bots?

It’s been a while….

… but nice to see the patterns of Computer Science coming in full circle again, this time revisiting the Turing Test in the form of our beloved AI-focused chatroom bots.

Interesting article in today’s SMH (snapped attached for your fiscal pleasure as behind the paywall) which mentions ELIZA in 1968 which I recall was the first practical automated Turing Test.

The honing of AI algorithms from consuming huge amounts of data reminded me of an episode of Black Mirror a near-future series of short Twilight-Zone type episodes.

Basic plot of this episode (“Be Right Back” from 2013) is that a woman’s husband dies in a car crash and she seeks comfort in an AI which mimics him. Essentially constructed via a service for the recently bereaved – you give the service provider access to all social media accounts of the deceased. An AI bot scans through every post made/emails sent/received, cross-refs with public posts etc. and constructs a bot tailored to the personality of the recently deceased…images-2

Starts off with a simple chatroom … and progresses from there through enhancing the simulation through the simulation of speech from old recordings and jumps past VR to 3D construction etc. A bit kitsch but fascinating premise nonetheless.

Macquarie Uni developing natural language tech ploughing through text collections, newspaper archives, Government archives etc. – not such a great leap to freaky deaky LawnMower Man? (and that pic is Lawnmower Man actor Jeff Fahey wearing a very familiar looking VR headset back in 1992 – not much changed in 24 years!!!!)

 

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#googleglass goes underwater – #googlegoggles Cousteau 1.0

I hate swimming. It’s pretty boring going up and down and up and down and … you get the drift. Boom Boom. It needs to be sold to me to take the hook. They keep coming.

water bubblesSo I began to get mildly interested when Speedo launched their Aquabeat MP3 players integrated into their goggles some years back – latest product spec here.

I see Google Glass is to get an in-built iTunes type streaming music interface.

oceanic-04.8800.07Surely the next step is to stretch into a different product category and develop underwater Google Glass?! Simply acquire an HUD dive mask company, pop in some Glass tech on the mask, sprinkle in some Aquabeat MP3 tech (with the main processor integrated into the back of the mask) and Bob’s your Uncle – GoogleGlass (Google Goggles) v1.0 – “Cousteau”.

Input… ? Well, probably needs a little work, but either some Steven Hawking eye-movement tracking type stuff or the wearable “throat tattoo” microphone that Google have just patented (we’re getting progressively closer to the embedded-chip-at-birth concept here… !).

Throw in an HD camera with integrated light on the front for the scuba model and do-away with that cumbersome dive camera… dive computer and GPS to track your dive Nike+ style … feed to Facebook … cheers from your friends as you dive… not noticing your depth and/or sharks etc. etc.

Already a concept design model here – needs to Google bankroll to really get it going…

I’ll take my commission now thanks Larry. And a nice pool please.

Initial testing of Google Goggles underwater prototype.

Initial testing of Google Glass underwater prototype.

Australia over-regulated: Hong Kong multi-billionaire Vincent Lo at UNSW #BusinessinChina #VincentLo

VAttended an interesting and very frank presentation by Chinese property tycoon Vincent Lo at UNSW tonight.

“Why doesn’t Shui On [his company] develop in Australia? If I can be honest – the scale is minuscule and the regulation is far too tight here. Why would we? That’s the price you pay for democracy!”

 

VL

#Mavericks to be renamed OSX ADHD?

Installed the OSX Mavericks on a Macbook Air and a Mac Mini yesterday and here’s initial impressions on the most salient features and why it’s for the hyperactive mental butterflies.

weird-topgun#1 – dig the fact it’s FREE after the 20 sheets we had to outlay for a Mountain Lion which was a purely under the bonnet release (the classic IT developer “technical debt/architecture” release punted out to a screaming CFO – “where’s the capability uplift for the million bucks we’ve just outlaid? I don’t care what a scaleable SOA is!!” ).

Anyhoo. Here in Australia download took around 90 minutes with the install about 35 minutes. And I’d conveniently forgotten to connect up my Lacie this morning for Time Machine backup in event of brick – the Amber Gambler continues.

Here’s the salient features standing out for me.

Multiple displays with independent docks/menus

mavericks-multi-monitor_dtI’ve always had a second and sometimes daisychained third and fourth monitors with my laptops. But frustrating having to go back to the primary screen to get to the menu and mission control. And frustrating that full screen in one window freezes the other. So this update is perfect and fixes all of that – well done Apple! Breathed life into my 2007 23” Apple monitor that’s somehow still going… !

However – I did find the dock to be much slower in appearing on all screens which was disappointing (on a 2011 Macbook Air, should be fine).

What would have been nice would be AirPlay for any Apple device connected to your HDTV.  I have a Mac Mini connected to mine – would be good to Airplay from my Macbook Air to the Mini rather than bizarrely just to the AppleTV. A deliberate strategy I think to keep this product line going until the integrated Apple TV set comes out.

Finder Window with TABS

Ooh yes!!! How I lamented the loss of “File Mangler” on Windows replaced with this bloody awful Explorer thingmie making copying of files between directories a right Royal pain in the arse. Same deal with Finder on Mac. And lo – multiple Windows would be opened to solve this issue together with parallel working in different directories on different documents. Jumble.

osx-mavericks-finder-search-tabsSolution: multiple Finder Windows in one shell window  à la Safari style. Simple solution and works brilliantly – being able to copy between different groups of directories organized across different tabs, quickly and neatly and logically. One of these “just works”, “feels natural” UX upgrades that is awesome.

So these upgrades cater to the “power users” – people who clearly work in parallel on the multiple streams of work simultaneously properly hyperventilating as they do so. Should have called it OSX ADHD

Safari / Notifications

mavericks_sharingTop sites.. meh. Shared Links – dig big time. This is basically encroaching somewhat on Hootsuite’s territory whereby you get a real-time feed in a window to the left of your browser window of all your social media updates that have links attached to them.

You add your internet accounts in Settings (Twitter, FB, LinkedIn etc.) and relevant updates appear in notifications, you can Tweet / Update directly from Notifications (again, Hootsuite type basic functionality) and show these updates in Safari.

A nice version 1 foray into social media management from the desktop for Apple.

iBooks

iBooksMovedMoved your books/PDFs from iTunes to new iBooks app. Meh. I’m not convinced my fine Scottish eBook Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe” was in German when I downloaded it. Perhaps a hidden long-term strategy from Apple to seed us for a move for Infinite Loop to Munich.

Maps

iPlaetI was kind of “meh” about this… but I take it back big time. In addition to the new Maps native application, maps and location are an integral part of Mavericks now.

Map pop-up options or small map embeds are available everywhere you enter an address – calendar entries and contacts to name a few.

Here’s the kicker on integration.

You’re about to drive to your mate Balthazaar’s mansion. You either pull up his contact and click on map to see his place in the maps app, or just type in his name to the Maps app search and it auto-completes from your contacts (as per Maps on the iPhone).

You can enter directions … and then before you jump in the car hit “share” and choose your iPhone from the drop-down. The route will appear as a notification on your iPhone which you can bring up with turn-by-turn directions as you head out the door and mount the iPhone in the car. Dig.

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Screenshot I took of the Sydney Flyover – Grand Theft Auto #2 rendering

And so to the gimmicky flyover function – kind of Grand Theft Auto 2 rough rendering of your cityscapes overlaid with restaurants, roadworks, street names and such. It’s actually kind of fun … if a little slow. Really don’t see much use for this – unless somehow Apple can negotiate a partnership with Google Streetview or send out a fleet of flying-monkeys with cameras from Infinite Loop to duplicate in Apple’s own ecosystem.

I imagine the flyover view for “selected cities” is limited to big ones. So if you don’t live in Wagga-Wagga, it’s kind of creepy to flyover your own property and see a rendering of your bedroom window. I wonder if there’s a rendering in Moscow with Edward Snowdon waving from the roof of the Kremlin with an arrangement of white stones spelling out “THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING SUCKAS!!!”.

Calendar

Would you believe as an avid iCal user across the ecosystem the wee update in iOS7 of different fonts actually made a massive difference?! It’s the little things.. And duplicated here in Mavericks. Much clearer to read, much slicker interface for events.

And finally – rather than a week by week view you can smooth scroll to show the end of one week and start of another on the same screen…. er… so you can drag across all the stuff you popped into your Friday to carry over to the next week. A frequent function for the procrastinators out there (I prefer to use the calendar rather than the Reminders app in OSX – find it easier to colour code and view everything just in calendar rather than switching between apps).

Loving the maps integration in the Calendar event. Your mate tells you the name of a bar to meet in – you set the appointment and enter the name of the bar, auto-looked up with drop down of options to select. Click on the name and it’s set as location in the appointment withScreen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.46.44 am

  • full address
  • map part shown in the appointment (which of course you can click on from your iPhone for directions)
  • travelling distance time calculated from last appointment
  • WEATHER – for the particular location on the particular day/time – woah!

It’s the little things…

Glitches – minor grumbles!

On settings menu the groovy metallic iCloud icon has retro-morphed back to its blue original breaking with the theme. I don’t think this will contribute to global warming.

I can’t get my other devices to appear on the share button on the Maps application to send directions to my iPhone for example, despite being registered on iCloud. This is a pain as the transfer-as-you-jump-in-the-car feature is a major plus of Maps.

In Finder re. tabs – you need to manually open the first tab rather than having a “+” button icon appearing on the right to click on as per Safari. It’s the little things…

Conclusion

This is a winner – especially as free!

The performance is noticeably faster on Safari, Mail and Calendars, which is awesome in itself.

You can see the strategy here as more iOS7 apps are introduced to the desktop (iBooks, Maps). The convergence of Mac OS releases across all devices simultaneously with a common set of apps/UX.

And the further strategy of the Apple value proposition. The ecosystem. The hardware/OS/UX experience integrated and controlled by the one company. With the native apps being so COOL that you you are drawn into the iCloud Apple ecosystem big time.

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A bit like buying a Gilette razor except the initial razor purchase isn’t as cheap.

Well done Apple. Now let’s see a new form-factor iPhone6! (vs. last disappointment!)