Thursday, April 17, 2014

Finally, visible icons on the iPad

Tired of the thin icons on your iPad after iOS 7? I discovered if you go to settings/general/accessibility and select Bold Text, the icons will be bold too!

It is not enough that the user can see the icons, he should be able to do so without strain or irritation, even if he doesn't have eagle eyes. 
In art, form is king. In design, form has to follow function. 

Whoever designed these had good vision.
After setting Bold Text: ah, much better. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

SSD speed boost

I just got a SSD disk for my main Mac. Wow. At least as big a nimbleness boost as the last time I upgraded the whole machine!

It's no wonder Apple now has SSD (Solid State Disk, no rotating disc) at least as part of the main storage in all their machines, it makes a hell of a difference. Even the early Macbook Airs, despite weaker processors, felt very good because the SSD took care of the speed when changing between apps and all other operations which involves the disk.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cables which glow in the dark

I've ordered a couple of these very cool iOS cables. They are stronger, tangles less, and are easier to keep track of with the different colors.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Kindle Fire's "closed garden" system, and their low market share

Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire

It's a bit frustrating: outside of iPad, you can choose between full-featured general Android tablets (with almost any screen size you like), but which in my experience are buggy and frustrating; or the Kindle Fire, which works wonderfully well, but is quite limited in features and apps you can use.
Now, I just read that the KF's market share is surprisingly low: in 2012, about 6%, and in 2013, even lower, about 4.5%. Given the Amazon's strength and the very good quality/price ratio, I am surprised.

I wrote to Len of The Kindle Chronicles:

Since Kindle fire is easier to use and less buggy than a normal android tablet, from my observations anyway, the reason to get a Nexus Seven for example instead would be so you could get access to the full android marketplace of apps.

So maybe the falling KF market share (from 6% down to 4.5%) might convince Amazon to finally be more open to including a more inclusive system on the kindle fire. Sadly, I admit it does not sound like them, but I really hope so. Of course the question remains if they can do so without introducing the same bugginess and difficulties that plague normal android tablets.

Good point. I think Amazon's obsessive concern for frictionless customer experience is the driver of this walled garden approach, more than competitive positioning. It's like the heat they took for not using ePub and Adobe's DRM system. The reason they insisted on own proprietary standard was so they could control the customer experience. That's worked out pretty well for them so far. But pressure to be able to choose whatever content we want is also a customer driver, so the two conflict. Best, Len 

I hadn't quite thought of that. 
Especially not the Adobe DRM angle. That is the stuff of nightmares.  The book apparently has to download every time you open it!  I can understand how they'd prefer  an in-house process, and actually that part works perfectly over many devices and publishers, it's impressive now I think about it. 

iPad has the best of both worlds, but it has a huge market share. I doubt the KF's market share can attract many app developers. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"How to Turn Your iPad Into the Ultimate Video Rig"

How to Turn Your iPad Into the Ultimate Video Rig, article.
First, there are a couple of tools built into the iOS camera app you should know: auto exposure and auto focus. If you want to focus on something, just tap onscreen in the camera app, and it’ll focus there. If you want to lock in that focus, tap and hold, and the AEAF lock notification will appear at the top of the screen. The latter is particularly useful if you’re recording an interview, and you want your subject in focus for the entirety of a video.

I'm not sure how limited the video quality from a new iPad is, but if it's good enough for the purpose (and for web use it surely is), I very much agree that it's a very kewl device for the purpose. In the same slender package you have everything you need: the camera, the editing software, a big screen for the editing, and means of distribution!

By amazing coincidence, just before I found this article, I got a fresh comment on the last article I posted with a similar viewpoint, The iPad As Mobile Journalist Studio. And this one too.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tim Cook Soundly Rejects Politics of the NCPPR, Suggests Group Sell Apple’s Stock

Tim Cook Soundly Rejects Politics of the NCPPR, Suggests Group Sell Apple’s Stock, article.
Apple's CEO: "If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock."

Go Cook! I doubt many CEOs would have the balls to tell their stock owners that they refuse to do only things that are profitable.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pro HDR app for iPhone

The newer iPhones have HDR (High Dynamic Range) option built into their camera, which is great, for reducing too-high contrast.
Good uses are when you want both the landscape and the sky exposed right, in the same shot. Or you want both the interior and what you see out the window to be exposed right.
But I didn't realize how limited it was until I bought, 2 bucks, and tried Pro HDR.
I only tried it once yet, but I'm impressed.
(One little downside is that one has to be careful to hold the camera still between the two exposures, which are not instant unlike with the Apple camera app.)

Apple camera app without HDR:

Apple camera app with HDR*:

Pro HDR app:

What a dif!

*It is odd that the Apple version with HDR has darker shadows.  It seems the app prioritises the highlights so much it may sometimes make the shadows slightly darker. Though I haven't seen it before. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Phone, Meet Tablet. That’s Phabulous

Apple's feet-dragging tactics is becoming more laughable by the month.
Apple's CEO claims they are waiting because they want to make sure that the technology is up to supporting a phone with a larger screen. Well, does the iPad work well? I think you have your answer.

But even phones that aren’t strictly phablets are getting bigger. Samsung announced its Galaxy S5 this week in Barcelona, and its screen measures in at 5.1 inches. LG has been successful with the 4.7-inch LG G2; 4.6-inch displays are almost the new minimum. When Samsung introduced a Galaxy S4 Mini, its screen was 4.3 inches — 0.3 inches larger than the iPhone. (My emphasis.)
[...] I’m happiest when I’m using the Note 3 just as I’d use a tablet: playing games, browsing the web, checking Facebook, watching video, reading books and magazines, and sending email. But what makes the phone better than the tablet is one-stop shopping for all my communications. I can also text, Instagram and even make a call, without switching devices.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Folding phone stand/tripod

[Thanks to TMO]

Supercompact phone stand/tripod.

I've tried several flat/foldable phone stands, and this seems very promising. And the angle is even steplessly adjustable, so it can work as a table tripod.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The iPad as mobile journalist studio

I've written about this before, and here is a nice article from a journalist who prefers his iPad to a MacBook for mobile production of text and images.
The iPad Air isn’t just for capturing images; it also does a decent job of editing them. [...]  I remain primarily the writing kind of journalist and require hardware suited for that purpose. In this regard, the iPad Air has performed splendidly when outfitted with an add-on physical keyboard.

I'm still waiting for somebody to make a purpose-made portable writing machine. One of the early devices which came close, I had briefly but sadly it had a hardware fault, this was the beautiful eMate.

You may say: what's wrong with the Macbook Air (or a knock-off), isn't that the perfect portable writing machine? Well, it's close, but primarily the keyboard is too flat for me. If they could make it deeper and more clicky, without raising the weight significantly, we'd have something. The Logitech Wired keyboard I acquired recently is the thing, near-perfect for typing, to my taste. It's not the smallest, but it is full size, the same size as the Apple Wireless Keyboard To my surprise, I can write about as fast and comfortable on that 300gram thing as I can on my big, professional German keyboard.

iPad Mini + Logitech Wired kb. Total 620 grams.
And the iPad can at any moment be taken off
to be used as e-reader. 
TCG said:
I used to wonder if I would like the Macbook Air keyboard, myself, and have to report that I LOVE it!! In fact, I can whiz along faster on this keyboard, than anything else I have had before this... WEE!!!! :-P Have you tried it, yet?? It feels "deep" (and clicky!!) enough for me... :-D

That's very cool.

Taste vary. And I won't deny it is a good keyboard. I just prefer, personally, a deeper "travel", and a tactile feedback in the *middle* of the travel so you know you hit it without having to bottom it.

Also, it is so flat along the top surface of the keys, it makes for further uncertainty about the placement of my fingers.

Of course, it just might be great if I used it for a couple of months. And some love it. (I have mostly heard this from women. And I admit I have large hands.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Man-Machine love

Woa, somebody really loves his new Mac Pro!

This almost makes me want to get the new Mac Pro. But not a used one, I think!
By the way, I was sure for years that Apple's next Mac Pro would be an exercise in compactness (given that previous case could stop a tank), and they really succeeded.
Especially for a top-shelf speed monster, this is amazingly small. (Yes, much of that comes from expansion being only external now, but still.)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How much Would an iPhone Really Cost in 1991? How about $3.5M

How much Would an iPhone Really Cost in 1991? How about $3.5M Post
 it turns out an iPhone in 1991 would cost you a lot more than $3,000. 32GB of RAM would set you back $1.44 million, data bandwidth would cost a cool $1.5 million, and the iPhone's processor comes in at a paltry $620,000.

Holy mama. What will we play with in 20 years? Not to mention 50?

Kindle Paperwhite 2 vs. iPad Mini Retina

Kindle Paperwhite 2 vs. iPad Mini Retina, article

I am very much on the same page (even if it's electronic) as Janet Tokerud here. 
The Kindle Paperwhite is by far the best Kindle yet, the front light (what an accomplishment to bend light in and get it evenly spread on a page in such a super-thin space) really handled my biggest problem with the earlier Kindles, the too-dark screen. 

But it seems that me and many others (for example Len Edgerly from The Kindle Chronicles) are getting used to reading on a backlit screen, despite the early cries about "flashlight in your face" etc. Perhaps it's partly due to the much higher screen resolutions nowadays (how that has changed in just three years), but in any case... for example, recently I was reading in the near-dark because the text-to-speech (a great boon) in the Kindle Fire HDX had problems with a homemade ebook. And it occurred to me that the Paperwhite might be easier on my eyes. But to my surprise, it was not. The KF's LED screen was! 

I don't know why. Well, even though the front-lit screens have become more and more even since the first Kobo Glow, they are still nowhere as even, or as sharp, as a good LED screen. There is really a world of difference. Could be that, I'm a little mystified...

I also agree with Janet that despite the reaction time of the KF Paperwhite being adequate when you're used to Kindles, when you're used to an iPad, it just seems slow and clunky. I would have thought that processors now could easily handle such tasks faster, but perhaps it has more to do with the speed of the E-ink screen. Even though some of them were shown to run video already a few years ago, so I really don't know. Another mystery. 

I also think that the mysterious limit on the sharpness of E-ink screens (despite nominally high resolutions) puts a practical limit how much smaller they can make readers with that screen. The modern super-sharp LEDs can put many more words in a given space and stay legible. 

What I would like that we still don't have, is a 5 to 6-inch ereader under 200 grams, about the weight of the lightest Kindle, but a full-fledged tablet with a good LED screen. 
The closest we have, I guess, is the Samsung Galaxy Note, which indeed is very good as ereader, but Android's quirks still get on my nerves. 

The screen on the K Fire HDX is really amazingly good though. The device is just a bit too heavy for easy bed reading though, being over 300 grams (same as the iPad Mini). I think people would find that getting it under 200 grams would really make a difference. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

MacObserver: The iPhone REALLY Does Need a Larger Display

The iPhone REALLY Does Need a Larger Display, article.
In time, technology advanced. Now we have a 64-bit processor in the iPhone 5s. The demands on the iPhone for maps, weather apps, watching videos, shopping, banking, calendaring and even reading books has grown dramatically. The iPhone has gone from being a great phone + music player + internet access device to the Star Trek tricorder of our times.
Accordingly, because of the demands we make and the performance delivered, a larger display is called for. I think it's that simple.