Saturday, October 8, 2011

Art: "Destroyed Apple Products"

Art: "Destroyed Apple Products", post.

Really, Apple does inspire the strangest things! Would anybody make an art project out of destroying Panasonic products?

(How the heck has the keyboard stayed on the screen?)

Liking my basic Kindle

I am reading a book on my new basic Kindle. I got the basic (no Touch) model partly because it's smaller and lighter than that the other variants, and I think I chose right. I think I could get used to it. I might get through the whole book on it, I never did manage on the Kindle 3, due in part to my (surely irrational) dislike of the gray-ish screen. (Not that the new one's screen is very different.)

The Kindle 3 was hardly a behemoth at only 240 grams (8.5 oz), but the new baby brother beats it: only 170 grams (6 oz). I'm surprised, but it does seem to make a difference to me, it seem much more friendly, as it were.

If the device (or so far, any similar device) actually had something to grip while holding it, I think it could weigh much more and it wouldn't be an issue. But because it has so little surface area which is not screen or buttons, low weight counts for a lot. Your hold on it is tenuous, and the edges dig into the hand.

The Touch model should be better for those who take notes, and the Fire of course has much more fireworks, but for pure book reading, I think the basic Kindle is not only the smallest and amazingly cheap, but also about as good as it's gotten yet. The design is both the simplest and best-looking yet, and the interface is easier, due to fewer buttons.

Below, Kindles 1, 2, 3, and 4.
I have all of them. And I'm not selling, I regret I got rid of my early iPods, even if the battery would be dead now.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Steve Jobs: Imitated, Never Duplicated"

Steve Jobs: Imitated, Never Duplicated, David Pogue article
Suppose, by some miracle, that some kid in a garage somewhere at this moment possesses the marketing, invention, business and design skills of a Steve Jobs. What are the odds that that same person will be comfortable enough — or maybe uncomfortable enough — to swim upstream, against the currents of social, economic and technological norms, all in pursuit of an unshakable vision?
Zero. The odds are zero.

Yeah, I think that's the essence right there.

By the way, a factoid: Jobs was about the 105th richest man in the world. If he had not sold his Apple stock in 1987, he would have been the 5th richest man.
Hmm. So, do you think he cared? I don't think so. What would he have bought? 500 million black turtleneck sweaters?

Pres. Obama's statement upon Jobs' passing.

Hardly less impressive:
Google & Samsung Postpone Android Phone to Honor Steve Jobs, article. Wow, these two companies are probably Apple's bitterest rivals right now. This is a great show of respect.

[In mid-2004, Jobs announced to his employees that he had been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his pancreas.]

What's a shovel?

"An iPad is just a bigger iPod Touch!" 

A shovel is just a bigger spoon.

Apple: New iPhone Good

Apple: New iPhone Good, Onion article

After Apple's presentation of the iPhone 4S, tech commentator Leo Laporte ( joked that they could have saved everybody one and a half hour if they'd just played the promotional video. 
According to the Onion, we could have saved ten minutes more. 
CEO Tim Cook announced the new iPhone 4S is good and people should buy it. “It’s a good phone,” said Cook

Steve Jobs and St. Peter

[Thanks to Dave T]

Kindle Fire announcement book

Len Edgerly has written a 30-page ebook about the Kindle Fire and the announcement event. I've written a review on the Amazon page.

iPad, multi-purpose ereader

(Or: "What's the ideal ereader?")

It's interesting and a bit strange that apart from a few video blogs and such, reading is virtually everything I do on my iPad. I have a multitude of apps which I have tried once or twice, and then abandoned. For me it's an ereader, and the best one, apart from weight.

I've solved the weight with a book holder. (Clearly few people want such a thing, so we need a lighter device, probably the Kindle Fire is the closest thing yet.) On the book holder, the iPad is heaven for a attention-span-challenged reading addict. I zip around between several reading apps: Instapaper for saved/formatted web articles, Zinio for e-converted magazines, a web browser, the Kindle app for books, GoodReader for PDF files, NetNewsWire for RSS feeds, Zite for light news/articles reading, Comix for comics occasionally, "Articles" for better wikipedia formatting...

Wow, that's many apps just to cover my reading needs! Not sure what we can learn from this... perhaps that humankind's typical split-mindedness is show here in abundance in the multitude of formats used simply for reading. And certainly that for somebody like me who likes short formats as much as books, the traditional Kindle device does not cover it, a better screen, a better processor, and many more apps are needed.

For magazines, comics, text books and art books, a 7-inch screen like on the Kindle Fire is not quite enough. So I hope the future will bring a device with the size and capabilities of an iPad, but much lighter. I suppose it's just a matter when, not if.

Update: I've just seen in my iTunes app that I have three hundred and ten iPad apps!! And I am decidedly not amongst the people who get new apps all the time.
Actually I rarely use over 90% of them, so I guess it's time to delete a lot! (Most of them I don't have on the iPads themselves anymore, I just never took the time to weed them out in iTunes on my Mac.)
Update again: it turns out that there are actually surprisingly few app that I am sure I wouldn't want to use again. I guess it speaks to how many interesting uses an iPad can be put, despite my own one track mind, or as Snoopy said: "I prefer to think of it as singleness of purpose". (This was after Charlie Brown had accused dogs of thinking only of eating.)

iPhone camera lens and scratches

I've been worried about scratching or dulling the lens on my iPhone 4, since Apple for reasons of their own have not recessed or protected it in any way. I thought I was being silly, but clearly I was not, it's an issue.

(Picture from the linked article. My own phone/lens is still in good shape.)

I've not heard if the new iPhone 4S has improved the camera position, but I doubt it. So I would recommend a case for the phone, or at least being careful to never put the phone down on its back.

As a hobby photographer for decades, I care about lenses and I care for my lenses, and I'm a bit stunned that Apple will sell such a beautiful phone with such an outstanding camera, and then let the front lens element be flush with the phone's back!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A plethora of Kindles

Do you realize how many different models of Kindles there are right now?
The front picture on Amazon show four, but that doesn't cover it.

There's the Kindle, and the Kindle Touch, and the Touch 3G, and the Kindle Fire.
Then there's the "Kindle Keyboard", formerly "Kindle" or amongst friends "Kindle 3". And the Kindle Keyboard 3G. Aaaaan then there's the big-screen Dx still being sold, though one wonders to whom, it has not really been successful anywhere I've heard.

And then don't forget, apart from the Fire and DX, there is an ad-free and an ad-festooned (or ad-infested if you prefer) version of each one. The ad-free version is 30-50 bucks more expensive.

So that makes... twelve different Kindles  right now! Small wonder they simplify it a bit up front.

Oh, by the way, I have my new Kindle already!
Apart from me still wanting a lighter screen, it's a wonderful little device, is faster and so on, and yet markedly smaller and lighter (160 grams!) than the Kindle 3, it really does fit in a back pocket. I think pocket-ability really makes it into a different product.
And despite it having the simplest design of any Kindle yet, I also think it has the most attractive design, and probably the best usability too. (Unless one thinks a touch screen is needed, I'm not sure about that.) That's not a mean feat!
Of course one can always be critical, for example I think the bezel is slightly too silvery, it can give a distractive glare if you align the device too perfectly with the light. But on the whole, this Kindle is whole classes above the first generation, which I still have.

Grove case with flash (updated)

Everybody notices my beautiful Grove case for my iPhone.
And it is indeed wonderful.
I've found one disadvantage, though: Despite their work to lessen it (blackening the inside edge), the edge of the camera-hole in the case does give flare from the flash when you use that.

Flash photo without the case:

And flash photo with the case:
Contrast reduced.

Grove answered, as usual, nicely to my mail about it:

We have considered making the hole bigger. In fact, it's 40% larger than the original cases. 
However, we've found that at larger sizes it compromised the durability of the case. 
As stated in our FAQ section, it's an issue of physics present in any hard case. 

Yes, I can imagine that it might be a hard challenge to make a hard case which does not have this issue.
I don't like not having a real case though, because I want to protect the camera lens. I wonder how likely that is to be scratched or dulled over time if the phone is carried around in pockets and purses with no case or only a "bumper" case?

Kindle and personal documents

Until now, only Amazon-bought content has been stored and synchronized by the Kindle system. But Amazon just wrote to me that this has now changed:

Your personal documents will be stored in your Kindle library. You can download your archived personal documents to your Kindle device(s) conveniently anywhere at any time. Your personal documents will remain in your Kindle library until you delete them. If you don't want your documents to be stored in your Kindle library you can change your personal documents settings through Manage Your Kindle
You can also create notes, highlights and bookmarks on your personal documents and they will be automatically synced along with last page read across various Kindle devices using Amazon's Whispersync technology. 

Steve Jobs dies at 56 (updated)

Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, dies at 56, article

Steve surprises us again. 
I would say "long live his legacy", but nothing less than total annihilation of our current civilization could wipe that out.
Probably my nice life and nice livelihood could have happened without the machines he helped create but at the very least I'm sure it would have felt much less like fun and much more like work.

It's hard to believe that a person with so much life-force is dead at such an age.
On the other hand, if you could ever say about anybody that "he burned his candle at both ends"...

Thanks, dude. Blessings be with you whereever you are and whereever you go. I'm sure Apple and Pixar will make you proud in the future. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Star Wars iPad

Screenshot from The Phantom Menace. I love their tablet! Somebody should make an iPad case looking like that. (A quick search didn't show any, I'm surprised.)
OK, what with the horns, it's probably nothing for children under 12, but college students would love them, I'm sure they'd take out the 'pad and use them for Frisbees, resulting in a good many one-eyed college teachers. (I'm sure there are none at present!)

iPhone 4S, such as it is

I'd hoped for something cool from Apple's event today, such as an iPhone 5 at 5 inches, to compete with the new Kindle Fire. But the event just ended, and the results are as follows: a new, white iPod Touch, a bit cheaper. And an iPhone 4S, which is a bit faster, has a slightly better camera (8MP), and has some voice-command technology which didn't really command my attention.

In short, an evolutionary upgrade. Some might call it "lame".

They used time enough though, an hour and 40 minutes, including using time to tell us about iPhoto's ability to make postcards from your photos. There were reports that some bloggers in the audience heard noises of "Angry Birds" being played around in the audience. Sigh.

Of course there's iOS 5 coming out soon, which will have some kool features, but we've known about those since June, so one wonders what else they have been doing in Cupertino.

For people like me who already have an iPhone 4, I don't think many now are chomping the bit to update to the 4S, unless they have lots of money and are early-adopter types. For those who don't have one, I can recommend it, the 4 and the 4S by extension, is a great handheld computer, so-called "phone".

More data here.

Bezos' Kindle press conference in full

Monday, October 3, 2011

Big appetite

They say "my appetite was bigger than my stomach", or words to that effect, when you can't eat all that interested you. I have this with reading, and even these days with film, TV, and video content. Even with me having more time for it than many busy professionals, I still have growing stacks, both on shelves and digitally.

Apple's response?

I wonder if Apple tomorrow Tuesday 4 Oct 2011, will come out with some kind of answer to the Kindle Fire. A really big iPhone/iPod Touch, or a 6-inch iPad. I hope they do.

I know Steve Jobs said 7-inch tablets are too small, but what does that say about his darling, the iPhone?? Also, he's been known to say things to throw the dogs off the scent for a little while longer.

I'd like good competition for the iPad, but it would also not be the greatest thing if Amazon got to completely own the ereader market and medium tablets.