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Archive for July, 2008

What will Apple release in September?

July 31, 2008 Leave a comment

The rumour mill is once again moving into top gear with speculation on what Apple will release by the end of September. It all started with the suggestion at the recent Q3 financial results announcement that profits for the next quarter would be down due to a ‘future product transition’. Here’s some of the speculation that’s surfaced so far:

  • The product transition will cover the iPod Nano, iPod Touch and Macbook, possibly the Macbook Pro.
  • The Macbook will be a new design, slimmer and more rounded than the current model.
  • The Macbook case will be aluminium.
  • The Macbook will be a multi-touch model, most likely a multi-touch mouse pad rather than a multi-touch screen.
  • The mouse pad may be glass.
  • The new laptops will move away from an Intel motherboard chipset, with Apple returning to using its own design or one from a third party. Processors will still be Intel, and the move is believed to me aimed at producing a more power efficient design to improve battery life.
  • The iPod Nano will take on a taller appearance with a screen of the same aspect ration as the iPod Touch. This will improve video viewing.

My guess is that the Macbooks will have an Aluminium case, multi-touch mouse pad and be priced lower than the current models to grab a bigger market share. The Macbook Pro’s will have to drop in price or look overpriced, and the two product ranges may even be rolled into one. If both use aluminium cases the differences between them get even smaller.

I also expect the iPod Touch to get a capacity boost and price drop, and wouldn’t be surprised if a smaller version of the Touch replaced the iPod Nano.

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MobileMe problems continue…..

July 30, 2008 Leave a comment

…..but not for me. As blogged yesterday, MobileMe is now off my computers, and I’m back to syncing my iTouch through iTunes. Calendars are once again as they should be, even if the calendar colours don’t match (a small price to pay for actually having them on your mobile device). I’m currently testing an alternative for keeping contacts and calendars in sync, so more to follow if it works out.

Removing MobileMe wasn’t difficult, the first step was to sign out in System Preferences on the Macs and delete the account from the iTouch. Getting the correct calendars back on the iTouch was slightly more involved. All the calendars were deleted from iCal, and this was synced to the iTouch. Then the backup was restored to iCal and the data was synced again.

Getting the Macbook back in sync was simply a case of restoring the iCal data that the hackintosh had backed up. It looks like the calendar issues I suffered are a bit more widespread than I realised. TUAW have an article detailing how to back up Address Book and iCal data, and at Macfixit there’s some suggestions that may help with the synchronisation issues.

Since this is a commercial product (and I pity anyone who payed up rather than trying the 60 day trial) is this level of problems acceptable? Maybe Apple should do the right thing for it’s users, refund their money and put the MobileMe service back into Beta where it belongs.

MobileMe 90 day trial – Part 3

July 29, 2008 3 comments

If you have read the previous two parts of this series you will notice the title had changed from ‘MobileMe 60 day trial’ to ‘MobileMe 90 day trial’. I now have an extra 30 days of trial as an apology from Apple for the initial problems the MobileMe service experienced. If my current experiences of the service are an indication of its quality Apple will need to give me the next year for free.

My initial problem was with deleting a calendar. In version 1 of the iTouch firmware there was no option to add a new event to a specific calendar. I had created an ‘iPod Touch’ calendar so I could move events from this to the correct destination on the Mac after syncing. Firmware 2 now supports adding an event to a chosen calendar so I don’t need the ‘iPod Touch’ calendar. It was deleted from iCal on the hackintosh, but stayed on the iTouch. No amount of syncing would remove it. Next step was to log into the me.com web service and delete it there. Still no change after that, it’s on the iTouch but nowhere else in the cloud. Not a big problem but a bug that needs to be addressed.

Last night I fired up the Macbook to check some emails, and opened iCal to add a new event. Three of my calendars had vanished, and one was duplicated. Read more…

The UK cinema experience

July 26, 2008 1 comment

Much is said about how much money Film Studios are losing to piracy. You can’t see a film at the cinema now without the piracy warnings. Do the studios ever stop to wonder if that’s the real reason their profits are not where they thinks they should be?

A recent article on Torrentfreak got me thinking about what’s really going on at the cinema. The story concerns a study by the US Pirate Party, a group that claims the real reason for the rise and fall in annual profits is the quality of the films released, not piracy. If so, the ‘piracy’ claims are just hot air from greedy studios that want more money for releasing crap. It’s the old argument, people will pay a fair price for a quality product. The most amazing thing is that these piracy claims and measures are increasing at a time when US cinema takings have hit a record high.

I think there’s a more basic reason for the often claimed drop in cinema attendance. It’s crap. Read more…

How well does iPhone location awareness work?

July 26, 2008 Leave a comment

I’ve had a couple of experiences this week with iPhone’s that have made me ask this question. I frequently work with a consultant who has owned a first gen iPhone for nine months. He’s never been able to get sending an email through an AOL account to work reliably, so I had a look at the settings for him. We eventually worked out that the only time he could send emails was when the iPhone was close enough to connected through an open wireless access point. Receiving emails works fine, but not sending. The O2 stores he has visited were clueless about this problem, so I’m investigating for the next time I work with him.

While playing with the email settings I asked if he would mind me trying out the location awareness in Maps. Since the phone can use local cellphone towers to work out its location I expected this to have no problem. After a few minutes searching the iPhone still hadn’t worked out where it was so I gave up. My mobile is on O2 and I had maximum signal strength, so did the iPhone. Read more…

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The Dark Knight

July 26, 2008 Leave a comment

I saw the new Batman film ‘The Dark Knight’ yesterday and I’m not sure where to start.The best place is probably that it’s the best comic book film I have seen so far. Spiderman 2 and Xmen 3 were my previous favourites but this left them far behind. The biggest surprise was how much The Dark Knight doesn’t feel like a comic book. As with Batman Begins the various gadgets used are based on advanced military technology so most of them are believable. The characters are portrayed in shades of grey which is a big theme of the film. How far are the good guys willing to go to stop the Joker? Will they compromise their ideals to do so?

In terms of the overall tone there’s much owed to some of the darker Batman graphic novels. The Joker is menacing, brutally ruthless and constantly forcing everyone into impossible moral dilemma’s. Much has been said of Heath Ledger deserving an Oscar for his portrayal of the face painted lunatic, and I agree fully. While his is the standout performance, Aaron Eckhart is excellent as Harvey Dent and the impressively disfigured Two Face. Christian Bale is again perfect as Bruce Wayne and Batman, and gets to shine with a character that could easily become one dimensional and unbelievable in the wrong hands.

Christopher Nolan has created a film that may be remembered as the first truly adult comic book adaptation. It’s currently number one in the IMDB top 250, and deserves to be seen by not just anyone who loves comic book movies but anyone who loves good film.

First stage of the UK filesharing clampdown

July 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Following the recent news that Virgin Media had sent 800 of its customers warning letters concerning their illegal sharing of music, the BPI has announced today a deal with the six largest UK ISP’s. BT, Virgin, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse have agreed to send warning letters to customers that the BPI identifies as illegally sharing or downloading music. The warning is as far as any of the companies involved are prepared to go at the moment. General opinion on tech news sites is that this is fine if it’s the only action to be taken, but most believe it’s only the first step.

The stated aim of the agreement is to significantly reduce the amount of illegal file sharing taking place in the UK. I suspect a lot of parents will be shocked to receive their letters and have to look at what their children are using the net connection for. I’ve already been asked by several concerned and computer inexperienced parents what this means and what they can do.

The next step will depend on the resultant reduction in file sharing and how far the record companies want to go to recover their ‘estimated’ losses. Some ridiculous figures have been mentioned today on the UK’s news services, but the thing to remember is that no-one really knows how much money is lost to illegal file sharing, and there have been plenty of studies that claim illegal file sharers buy more music. I suspect that an immediate stop to music piracy wouldn’t result in the predicted massive jump in profits. The saddest thing is that none of these companies appear to be actively looking for new ways of making people want to buy music, other than the usual threat of legal force. Are record companies that persue file sharers for losses really recovering lost profit, or making money they otherwise would not have seen?