Saturday, February 2, 2013

A different tablet use: as camera viewfinder

The new Canon 6D, beyond super-duper-low-light capabilities (usable 25,000 ISO!!), has a built-in wifi hub. Kewl. If you install the "EOS Remote" app on an Android or iOS device, you can view pictures sitting on the camera, or shoot the camera remotely, seeing what the camera is seeing at the moment. Very nice, and free, once you paid for the camera itself.

Two small downsides: the app is not yet optimised for tablet, only for phones, so the interface is rather simplistic. And the camera of course has to use Live View and so will focus from the sensor itself, and SLR lenses (unlike, say, Micro Four Thirds lenses) are not optimised for this, so focusing takes longer, like a couple of seconds instead of less than 1/10th sec as usual.

But lookit this nice picture in picture effect, photographing the iPad while it's getting the camera's feed.

(By the way, an oddity: EOS Remote was able to email me this image. But how? The iPad was not connected to my Internet-connected wifi network, only to the Canon 6D, and how in the world does the 6D connect to the Internet? I surely had not connected it to anything.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Griffin Xpo stand

I just got the Griffin Xpo tablet/phone stand. It's awesome. I don't understand why it's getting so little exposure, it's a portable stand with the aesthetics and capabilities of a full-sized stand. Folded, it's pocket-sized (barely longer than a pair of sunglasses) and weighs less than two ounces (51 grams). And it works with virtually any phone or tablet, even in a slim case.

It costs less than $20! (it's solid aluminium), and it comes with a cute little leather case (so it doesn't scratch other things, I guess).
If you push the legs almost together, it will even hold a phone in vertical orientation.

I have a feeling this product may not be available for long (they don't even sell it in the UK), so get one or two today.

I admire design and engineering like this. So small, so light, so simple, yet so effective, strong, and nice looking.
And it's harder than one might think... I've been buying iPad stands for near three years now, and it's only now I've found one which combines all these points. I have some small ones, but they are not aesthetic or strong. I have some beautiful ones, but they are not compact or light.

"Apple Absolutely Has To Make An iPhone With A Bigger Screen"

Apple Absolutely Has To Make An iPhone With A Bigger Screen, article, BusinessInsider

That bigger screen is awesome.
Apple's stock has cratered 35% from its peak of five months ago. This fall is the result of a lot of factors, but the biggest one is this: After five years of having the best smartphone on the planet, Apple has arguably fallen behind the competition. And the biggest and most obvious reason Apple has fallen behind the competition is its stubborn insistence on sticking with a small iPhone screen.

Yeap. Well, I don't care about Apple's stock price, it matters only to investors, not even to Apple (and I doubt the screen size is *that* strong a factor there), but I do care about usability.
I've said it before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes: Once you've tried a five-inch screen for reading and video (and I guess gaming, but I wouldn't know), then the current iPhone starts to look like a five-foot basketball player.

I said this first back in 2011 (I even predicted it before I acquired the excellent 5.3-inch Galaxy Note):

I think the future of the phone is in the 5-inch size. Apple may be slow to go there, since they didn't invent it, and they can be a bit stubborn about such things. But I think it's like with desktop monitors, why does Apple no longer make a 15-inch or even a 17-inch iMac? Because everything else being equal, bigger is better. Once you could make screens cheap enough, they grew.
The Note is an excellent ereader. The iPhone is usable as such, but only just.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New 128GB iPad

Apple Aims New 128 GB iPad at Professional Users, article.
Apple has announced a 128 GB version of the fourth-generation iPad. The new model will cost $799 for the Wi-Fi model and $929 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model

I had hoped for a 128GB model for my iTunes video content, but I had hoped it wouldn't cost more, or at least significantly more. I think Apple should follow Amazon's more reasonable storage upgrade pricing. A hunnert bucks between each model is a bit stiff. 

... That said, if iPad 5 (whenever it comes) looks interesting, I'll probably "bite the green apple" as us Danes say, and get the 128GB model anyway. After all I paid for .mac membership for a decade, each year hoping they would introduce something useful for me.

New term: a "green Apple": an Apple product which tastes bitter for some reason but which you have to have anyway.

(At least Apple is not so bad as the newest Microsoft scandal: the 128GB Surface model has 45 gigabyte missing to pre-installed software/crapware bloat! Ouch.)

TidBITS is also running a mini-campaign to hold Apple responsible for their often-lackadaisical support, especially for professional users.
But my real question is if Apple is going to give professional iPad users the kind of respect they deserve in terms of software updates, documentation, release notes, and tech support. Yes, people everywhere have started using the iPad for business purposes, but as we ran into recently (“Pages 4.3 vs. BBEdit 10.5: How Apple Doesn’t Respect Its Users,” 26 January 2013), just because you can get your work done on an iPad now, Charlie Brown, doesn’t mean that Apple isn’t going to pull the football away from you in the future.

I can get behind that. If Apple seriously believes (and they say they do) that tablets will replace most PCs, and that tablets can be used for serious professional use, then they have to take professional users seriously in all areas, and they generally are not, not even in desktop computing, just see how the last two versions of Mac OSX have added features which makes it look more and more like an iPhone interface, but have added virtually no new features to attract the professional crowd which have been their core supporters since the eighties.

They also have not made serious upgrades to the Mac Pro (the tower model) for years. They promise a brand new model this year, and I'm nervously watching to see if they do it really for pro users, or the best feature will be that this new "pro model" will fit in a bread box and come in five colors, and be glued together like the new 24-inch iPad to make it nigh impossible to change or upgrade.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Books to recommend

For people like me who are not necessarily techies but admire beautiful and efficient technology, iPod Evolution may be an interesting book. I have pre-ordered it.

Earlier I liked Steven Levy's book The Perfect Thing, (seems to not be out in ebook format, but it does exist as audiobook) also the story of the iPod, but with Levy's particular style, which is highly respectful (a rarity amongst journalistic writers) and entertaining. I also recommend his past books Hackers and Insanely Great. ("Hackers" is not about cyber-criminals, but about exceptional computer pioneers.)

Update: looking for more Levy to enjoy, I found this collection of historic Wired articles on Steve Jobs. And another called Wired: Icons.