#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.



#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.


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.


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.


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!!!”.


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…


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.


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!)

iAssault: Samsung & Windows Mobile v iOS7

Microsoft has jumped on the Apple iAssault bandwagon with another non-MS device buy-back program, this time targeted specifically at iPhone users.

Took this snap on Sydney’s George Street the flagship Samsung store – opened aggressively diagonally opposite the crystal Mecca of the AppleStore complex. They updated their window display the day after the iPhone 5S launch with the “iChanged” campaign:


Anyone remember the Apple campaigns targeted at desktop switching? Switch to a Mac (2002) and Get A Mac (“I’m a Mac / I’m a PC” – 2006). Get A Mac coincided with the fresh, minimalist rebranding of Apple stores with the blue shirts and symbol signage to aesthetically differentiate the product and build-in perceived value for the premium pricing.

I never needed convincing of how cool the machines looked. As a developer, my value proposition was for home use – I was sick fed up of interrupt issues et al with home PCs having spent too much time with IT Operations resolving similar issues with our custom-built  trading apps in the office. The “just works” thing was a solid case for me for core non-tech usage. A bit like a chef coming home and whacking a microwave dinner in the oven.

But back in 2000 Office compatability was pretty shoddy, hardly any mobile phones would sync with the Mac address book et al(hardwired of course – except the gloriously kitsch Sony Ericsson P800) and remote office access? Forget it sailor.

I digress. Regarding mobile – Samsung and Microsoft must have been rubbing their hands together as the “coolness” factor is clearly the most important consumer product attribute now. And Apple missed the mark big-time with the boxy iPhone 5S – yes, EVEN with 9 million units pumped out in the first weekend. It’s the longer game that counts with brand value.

Apple’s lengthy product cycles won’t permit a revolutionary “non-boxy” iPhone coming out  anytime soon. Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition gives a real opportunity to knock out an awesome device (the Lumia 1020, although essentially a different category focusing on the camera, is pretty impressive) and with the stability of pure-play Android devices, Samsung’s superior hardware is looking like the go-er.

I’m an Android, I’m a kosher non-jailbroken iOS”  –  the next set of Google ads whacked out across the international channels to join Samsung/Microsoft to encircle Apple?

#iOS7 and The Amber Gambler

Having refused to upgrade my iPhone4 to a newer model I was waiting with baited breath for iOS7… which arrived this morning in Australia and was promptly downloaded to my puny A4-chipped hardware.

I was an amber gambler. I had a meeting in the city this morning and arrived early, ensconcing myself in a café and pillaging their wi-fi to download and install the update. One install brainfart and the phone is out and that important meeting location update to the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb instead is missed…


… but wasn’t to be … all good! Surprisingly quick and smooth install for such a major update on such an enfeebled and emaciated bottom-spec chip. An amber gambler also for the reported issues that may accompany a major upgrade to a low spec device. We’ll see how that goes…

First impressions

First impressions are that this is an awesome update, doing exactly what it says on the tin. I think that the features in iPhone 5+ unavailable on the puny 4 are gimmicky and vastly over-rated (see below). I’d avoided the Beta versions released in the previous months, preferring to wait to hit up the gold disk today.

So what do we have?


Great sharp look across the whole user interface. Über sharp font. I was reminded what a massive upgrade the iPhone4 Retina display was having looked at a 3GS the other day. The new clear font really does the sharp display justice.

moleeeeeRegarding icons and new Apple app UX; finally a move from skeuomorphism back to crisp flat icons. Except the Contacts icon which is uninspired and bloody awful. Why does this bother me? A mate pointed it out this morning. It’s like the mole in Austin Powers. I can’t stop looking at it. I digress.


ios7.controlcenterBIG step forwards here. Search Bar available from a quick downward swipe in the middle of the screen. New Control Centre  from a swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Finally – in the control centre amongst other settings you can switch on BlueTooth in one touch from here – very handy quick fix if you’re in the car and forgot to pop in on.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 7.47.14 PMOne area they’ve got right is the multi-tasking. Great switching between apps in a carousel display, with a simple swipe up to remove an app from the carousel and close it. Actually useful in another sense in that the carousel view is dynamic – so when switching between apps and passing the email app on the carousel you can quickly check the top email to see if worth opening the app or not (couldn’t find a screenshot of this, but you get the idea).

Multi-page folders – very handy … if you’ve got a load of legacy apps on your phone you can’t quite bring yourself to delete but might use one day … chuck them all in one big themed folder rather than a few numbered ones.


Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 7.44.09 PMAlso loving the new vertical tab carousel in Safari with a quick slide to the left to close a tab. I see they’ve brought the private browsing option to the fore in Safari now for those “colourful” websites accessed via the Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 7.52.04 PMcompany phone.

Calendar – not so much. Looks crisp but a lot of screen real estate is wasted with the week band at the top of the screen with it’s iOS7 wider spacing. Now you could argue that I should break the cobwebs on the Scottish sporran and invest in a 5+ with more screen real estate but who am I to break stereotype here?

Thrifty ScotiTunes looks great – back to earlier more usable versions of iTunes. Loving the tiled album browser view. Everything’s a lot more … image-intensive. From the animated equaliser graphic for currently playing track to the band album cover displayed on virtually every playlist.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 8.00.59 PMPhone – loving the contact images displayed everywhere continuing with the “more graphical” theme.  Fuctionality-wise, when the phone is locked and you receive an incoming call you can choose to ignore and remind yourself of the call an hour or so later, or send a text message back from a number of pre-stored messages such as “on my way”, “ring you back”. Great wee feature.

Very simply … I also like the well-spaced circular number buttons on the dialing screen of the phone app too! It’s the little things…. so I forgive Jonathan Ives on one of his pretentious white-backgrounded HD rants. Had a bit of a transformation himself that lad.


What don’t we have in iPhone4 version of iOS7?

  • Airdrop file sharing – meh
  • Siriproblems with Scottish accents anyway as mentioned previously
  • 3D Flyover/Turn by Turn map navagation – meh
  • Live camera filters – major meh – use Instagram or apply in camera app after snap
  • Airplay Mirroring – more meh

As to the the cosmetic…

Missing the “look at my phone, look at my phone!” features that any half-decent Samsung is going to slap down big time anyway.

So on the iPhone4 no…

  • parallax tilt effect – meh
  • live wallpapers – in a word crap. I remember about 2 years ago being blown away by a Samsung Galaxy’s breaking waves on the seaside wallpaper never mind a few wee bubbles bouncing about.
  • Translucent effect throughout OS – granted this would pretty it up a bit and reinforce the feel of the “layers” design but again a “meh” that doesn’t justify the outlay. The iPhone4 step-change GUI improvement is good enough.


I have a concern over speed with iOS7 on iPhone4. There’s a lot more animation from the the unlock “icons bouncing to middle of screen”, multi-tasking, app selection “genie” opening … and app opening seems to take longer on iOS7 now.

The control panel crashed on me twice in half an hour. This is a bit of a “watch this space”.

So in all….

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 7.54.09 PMAs I began – an awesome update! Loving the new GUI right down to the circular phone dialing buttons (it’s a phone too now I think about it 😉  ).

Everything feels fresher and more cleanly designed. The phone itself feels a hell of a lot more usable with the main apps and settings features a lot slicker and much more speedily accessable.

A big thumbs up Apple! Now …. let’s surprise the market Bernanke-style and knock out the iPhone6 Glasses next week….

Throwing ze #iOS7 switch in Australia Boris…

I said I wouldn’t get excited but … 3.58pm Australian Eastern Standard Time – Logged into iCloud to check an iPhone backup and I note the remodelling of the splash page with new iOS7 font and layer effect … but no iOS7 as yet to download…


Apple launch: Upgrade iPhone4 to iPhone5S? And some whimsical tidbits.

Well, I watched the keynote launching the iPhone5S and other accoutrements and reviewed the tech specs from here in Australia. What’s Tim Cook’s catchphrase going to be now that we have “gorjus” no more? Anyhow – re. iPhone 5S purchase … it’s a no from this tight fisted rational consumer. Need a real kick in the backside (forced incompatability) or to be massively impressed by ground-breaking new direction to invest. And that wasn’t the case. And here’s why.

What we wanted ... v what we got (again) but in pimped up gold

What we wanted concept art … v what we got (again) but in pimped up gold

As mentioned, I dig my current iPhone4 in my Book Book case/wallet. Great setup with a practical case.  I see Apple are punting their new case with the iPhone5S – jeez their copy guys are good at writing the ads – they should all work in Australian restaurants inventing delicious descriptions for the Sydney-style tiny piles of food on the BIG WHITE PLATE for 40 sheets (you know what I’m talking about Sydneysiders). They’d make a killing taking a cut of the increased sales.

I always go top-of-the-range for the upgrade investment in a phone. 64Gb to sync most of my massive iTunes library. Granted this could go on  the cloud via iTunes Match. However, recently I drove 6 hours south of Sydney to go skiing, setting off at an excruciating 3am. I would be slightly disappointed if the Manowar power metal song I was listening to to keep me awake suddenly cut out due to poor network coverage. And it’s going to chew up my data allowance on my network carrier big-time.

So for a 64Gb iPhone 5S outright buy here in Australia we’re talking $1129. From what I can see the main points are:

Better Camera: I believe in fit-for-purpose. I’ve a solid Panasonic Lumix FT3 camera which apart from being waterproof et al, the GPS altimeter having literally saved my bahookie on a Scottish mountain in a storm, takes awesome photos. Awesome hi-res photos (and you should see the specs of the latest generation FT5).

blade-runner-esper-photoAnd as we build our SquiloByte-sized digital back-catalogue of images over time, and as we are sitting in our nursing home of the future with our 5D room projectors reviewing our auto-indexed life’s media collection, our old eyes will need the highest-res images that were available at the time. I reckon a whole generation of snaps on lower-res and lower-shoot quality mobile devices will give us later regrets with our digital archive. Especially when we’re trying to zoom in on the Blade Runner snake woman.

Speed – mobile device move up to 64-bit: A7 chip and LTE network. But to be honest with my iPhone4 A4 chip, I really haven’t found any major issues or frustrations with this short of bad network coverage, and that’s not going to be fixed by buying this phone. What I am a little concerned about here is if we’re going to see the same glitches moving from Mac PowerPC to Intel chips in 2006 with the stovepipe “Rosetta” Universal solution. You’d hope we’d be good with the same chip brand, but the best laid schemes o’ mice and men…

Motion Sensor: taking Big Brother to the next level … measuring user movement, in the background learning your commuting routes to suggest directions direct from your Notification Centre … feeding up to your Facebook perhaps to target those banner ads even further? Perhaps integrated with Facebook voice-ads:

bb“Hey John – I note that you’re a single guy who likes the personal pages of several adult entertainers, you’ve checked in to several bars tonight and it’s now 2am and your motion sensor detects an erratic movement pattern. Since you’re in the area, here’s some ads for some completely legal licensed “massage” parlours in order of how far from your current location”

A slight extrapolation perhaps (!) but watch this sorry space, and check your Terms & Conditions!

Free iWork Apple bespoke productivity apps: I find these to be a) fidgety and pretty useless on a mobile device and b) not as good as MS Office (well, perhaps KeyNote is pretty good). I reckon that Apple is desperate to increase the usage of their iWork suite which has had poor uptake and this is the final push before a possible retirement in the future. I still maintain that one of the best and most useful apps that was pulled was iWeb site design tool – awesome. I had to move on to WordPress but it’s not the same (without coding). Now iWeb would have been a good cloud iWork app for a mobile device…

Fingerprint ID sensor … first generation of this. This is actually pretty impressive, and highly useful (unlocking your darn phone when you’re of course definitely not using it mounted on your dashboard whilst driving, honest) but let’s watch and view how this pans out for app adoption. Might even prompt a revival of the Mafia and Yakuza. Much easier to whip off a finger than to interrogate people for passwords which as I’m sure we all know are difficult to extract under panicked duress 3a01f18f46ffa78a32607f084669a4b4when you’re torturing someone.

Champagne gold colour – this is perhaps the MUST have feature. If you’re the kind of classy dude who values your grillz big-time.

So the above points don’t sell me.

More fundamentally I want to see some blue ocean market-shaking kick-arse radical redesign from Apple (I loathe the words “game-changer” and “killer app” – we’re really due a new buzzword).

The basic iPhone design hasn’t changed since the original iPhone in 2007 (which I confess I queued around the block for from 3am primarily since I was flying to the UK the following day and I knew the device was just the dab to keep a 2 year old occupied!).

mac-pro-towerThe boxy style phone just isn’t cutting it for me now when you look at other Android hardware alternatives with their huge crisp screens and more comfortable “handfeel”. If Microsoft gets it right with the Nokia deal, and introduces a truly integrated groovy device into the MS ecosystem they’ve a good chance of aggressively attacking the market.

For me Apple needs to get over the “if it ain’t broke” attitude and Jonathan Ive grow some cahunas and re-invent the iPhone styling, something radical along the lines of what they did with the Mac Pro “tube” desktop. As Schiller quipped “Apple can’t innovate my ass”.  Keep wearing those tight jeans till the next iPhone body redesign Big Phil.

The biggest factor for me is the availability of iOS7 – which my iPhone4 can be upgraded to. Aside from hardware, this is the radical UI change that reinvigorates the device experience. Lack of compatability would have been the serious carrot on a stick to drive me to upgrade (together with the phone trade-in offer from Apple to sweeten the deal – as they know fine well).

As to Siri, missing from my iPhone4… well, they need to get Billy Connolly into the labs at Infinite Loop for some voice sampling – still has major issues with my native Scottish accent as the Russians will attest to!