Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’


The Sad State Of American Manufacturing

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

There was a long article in Sunday’s New York Times, “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work.” It’s pretty sad because it’s really about manufacturing in general and our inability to compete in the world market.

Since the story was published I’ve seen some references to the ability of foreign companies to be flexible–turn on a dime to fit changing production needs–as the story’s takeaway.

“The entire supply chain is in China now,” said another former high-ranking Apple executive. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”

Red herring! Aggregating vendors around a production center could happen if American manufacturers wanted it. Unfortunately few really want to manufacture here.

Here’s why we’re losing business. Americans aren’t willing to set our way of life back 100 years. Take this story of Apple’s production change for iPhone glass screens:

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

Americans don’t want to compete if competing means living in dorms, eight strangers to a room while making pennies an hour! Maybe it’s not slave labor in the traditional 19th Century America sense, but it’s the 21st Century equivalent.

We (and by we I include me) encourage this race to the bottom by buying totally on price. I am morally disturbed every time I think of it, but I have no idea what to do.

I make the situation worse with each piece of Chinese produced electronics I buy. Without the Chinese today there is nothing.

How sad.

The New Phone Revisited

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Earlier this month I traded in my iPhone 3Gs for a Samsung Galaxy Sii. I know what you’re thinking. Everyone’s moving to iPhones… not away. I get it. This was the right move for me. So far I see no reason to question my decision.

First things first. For most people the iPhone is a great choice… maybe the best choice in a smartphone. It does nearly everything you’d want and since Apple vertically controls the whole “i” universe everything meshes seamlessly. It just works.

For me that strength is a weakness! I want more than a phone. I want a geeky toy where it’s possible to push the envelope and poke around.

My Samsung runs on the Android operating system. It reveals more of its inner workings and programmers take advantage.

Take GPS for example. In order to lock on and be useful a GPS system has to find orbiting satellites and track them. All that is hidden on the iPhone. All that is revealed on my Samsung.

Is it valuable? Probably not, but it’s interesting to me.

I’ve download a bunch of apps, nearly all free, that perform needed and unneeded tasks. One program monitors my location and the time then adjusts the phone’s ringtone and vibration to match my situation.

It’s quiet if I’m in the studio while our news is on. It’s quiet overnight while I’m asleep. It’s also programmed to turn the sound up if I’m in the car leaving work. It takes advantage of the phone’s ability to know where it is.

I went on EBay and bought a $16 dongle that plugs into my car. It’s an OBD2 adapter that reads all my car’s sensors in realtime and sends them to the Galaxy Sii via Bluetooth. A $5 app running on the phone analyzes the data, displays it and even records it for viewing later.

There’s a function which will record a video of my driving while overlaying my car’s gauges and a properly navigated Google map! Seriously, that’s nuts.

The versatility Android phones give outside developers is well beyond what Apple grants its devs. That’s part of the reason the iPhone has more long term stability than my phone. I’m willing to take that.

I picked up my old iPhone last night. It felt bulky compared to the Samsung. The Galaxy Sii is larger in height and width, but a lot thinner. That thinness is its most obvious physical feature when you grasp it.

Within days of my purchasing the Galaxy Sii Samsung announced a newer phone! It will run a newer version of Andriod (though I would expect that version to be customized for my phone too… after awhile).

You can’t stop and wait for technology! Sometimes you just have to pull the trigger.

My Impressions On The New Phone

Friday, October 7th, 2011

This is the best phone I’ve ever used. How’s that for an open? The Samsung Galaxy S II isn’t without faults (beginning with its clunky name), but it is so pretty and fast that everything else is inconsequential.

It’s difficult to describe the screen in words. More blacks. More contrast. That’s the result of SUPER AMOLED technology.

The iPhone has greater resolution. I can’t paper over that. I haven’t yearned for additional screen real estate yet.

Everything is fluid and fast. You touch, it happens. You swipe, it keeps pace with your finger.

There are apps for the iPhone that aren’t available for Android phones like mine. The opposite is true too. The vast majority of what I want to do with a smartphone is already taken care of.

Android exposes more of the inner workings of the phone. For a geek like me it’s fun to see what the GPS is seeing, even if it’s worthless from a practical standpoint. There are lots of other small peepholes into the hardware.

The phone is a little larger than the iPhone. It easily fits in a shirt pocket and rides nicely in my pants pocket. The screen is Gorilla Glass and reasonably impervious to scratching.

When people pick it up that always comment about how light it is. It’s mostly sturdy, though I worry about the back cover over time. It’s very, very thin.

Smart phones suck batteries. I spent $12 and ordered two spares and a charger off eBay. The batteries are small and flat and easily carried.

A large problem with any new technology is you have to make choices before you understand your device. It was my intention to use the phone for a little while then wipe it clean and start again. That way I had a small idea before I downloaded and installed apps permanently.

The factory restore took ten minutes tops. Painless.

I was pleased to see we are served by 4G out here on Mount Carmel. I’ll still stick with WiFi when I’m home.

We have WiFi at work, but it’s very weak at my desk. Unfortunately as soon as you lock onto WiFi the phone disconnects you from the 4G network. That’s the bad news.

The good news is a program called Llama. It allows you to create profiles so your phone acts differently at different times and places. The phone knows to shut its ringer between 4:00 and 5:00 and again from 10:00 to 11:30, but only if I’m at work! It also knows to turn off WiFi at work. That’s a pretty neat trick.

The profiles changes can be triggered by a variety of things including nearby cell towers, GPS location, time of day, etc. That’s one feature Apple didn’t have.

Yesterday I took my friends Peter and Farrell on separate tours of the station using Skype and 4G connectivity. I walked up and down stairs and through the newsroom and studio.

There are tiny things wrong with the phone. I wanted to answer a text message with a video reply. Only the rear camera is enabled for that. Why?

I can’t seem to get Gmail, from the same company that built the operation system for the phone, to push emails to my phone as received. Instead the phone polls Gmail every ten minutes.

The menu structure is often non-intuitive, but there are so many menus because there’s so much you can customize. This complexity unlocks the phone’s power!

Is the Samsung Galaxy S II for everyone? Yes, if you want to play at least a little. If you’re going to use your phone as it came out of the box the iPhone might still be the right choice.

I Bought A New Phone And It Doesn’t Start With “i”

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Rumor is Apple’s newest iPhone will be announced tomorrow. I will look with interest, but I’m out of the market. I bought a new phone yesterday and should have it tomorrow. It’s a Samsung Galaxy S 2.

First things first. I bought it online instead of going to the AT&T store. Amazon is selling it $50 cheaper than AT&T, there’s no shipping and… well you know about Amazon and sales tax.

The phone has been available in Europe and Asia for months where it’s received rave reviews. It’s super thin with a high contrast AMOLED screen. There are two cameras (front and rear) and the capability of shooting and viewing high def 1080p video. The Galaxy S 2 is powered by a dual core processor and runs on version 2.3 of Google’s Android operating system.

It’s considered state-of-the-art as attested to by an Los Angeles Times article that’s ostensibly about the rumored iPhone.

The standard right now for high-end smartphones (such as the Droid Bionic and Samsung Galaxy S II) is a dual-core processor, about 1 gigabyte of RAM, at least 16 gigabytes of storage memory and an 8-megapixel rear camera capable of shooting 1080p high-definition video and a better-than-VGA front facing camera.

The Galaxy S 2 doesn’t run Apple’s iOS. Only time will tell if that’s an advantage or disadvantage, but I feel like I’ve been fighting a constant battle against Apple in trying to make my iPhone do things it can do, but Apple doesn’t want it to do.

That’s not to say Samsung/AT&T have taken a laissez faire attitude. They’re just not as diligent as Apple!

I have a better profane analogy I’ll hold for now.

I’m excited about putting this phone through its paces, but I also know it can be returned if need be. I hope I don’t have to.

Hey AT&T. Where’s The Samsung Galaxy S II?

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Sometime this spring I made a cellphone choice. When it was time to get a new phone I’d get the Samsung Galaxy S II. Released first in Europe and Asia the Galaxy S II was well received.

From The Galaxy S II raises the bar in every way from the first Galaxy S, as it should. But it also takes things one step further and absolutely obliterates every other Android handset on the market in the specifications department. It’s not just fast, it’s the fastest. It’s not just thin, it’s the thinnest

It was announced AT&T, my carrier, would have an S II version of its own. First it was coming late spring, then summer. A rumor last week had it debuting yesterday. Nada!

I just watched a TV commercial for the S II’s Sprint iteration. Swell.

Here’s the problem. All of a sudden AT&T’s mum. They’re saying nothing and neither is Samsung.

I like my iPhone a lot. It’s certainly the best phone I’ve ever owned and, as my secret friend in the San Fernando Valley says, “the best toy ever.” I”m expecting the Galaxy S II to be a little better and since it uses Google’s Android operating system unencumbered by Apple’s draconian vise grip on apps.

I wish I knew what was holding this phone up?

The Features My Mind Wants

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

I just reached out and touched the screen on my desktop computer at work. Nothing happened. That’s probably because it’s not a touchscreen!

Yesterday while typing something I hit the spacebar twice to enter a period. No period. Desktop machines aren’t programmed that way.

Both these actions work on my iPhone. My mind is telling me what new features it wants on the desktop. Is anyone listening other than me?

I Guess I’m Not Normal People

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

I have been put in my place by no less than David Pogue in this morning’s New York Times. He was writing about single use devices like cameras and GPS systems and how they match up with all-in-one solutions like cell phones.

Normal people don’t suction-cup their phones to their windshields for navigation.

Either they do or I’m not normal. Please hold your judgement!

Maybe I don’t want to replace my DSLR with my iPhone (though the photo on the left was taken with a Motorola Droid X cellphone and it’s my profile picture on Facebook), but I use the camera all the time. It’s there! My DSLR often is not.

The GPS is among the most valuable features my phone possesses. For under $10 I bought the suction cup Pogue has hoisted me upon. Seriously, I use this thing all-the-time in my car which has no GPS. I use Mapquest4Mobile which is free on my iPhone. Google’s nav software is free on Android phones.

Among the many advantages: I get live traffic info because the GPS is connected to the phone which is connected to the Internet.

Most people don’t suction cup their phones to their windshields. Maybe they should!

It’s The Universal Translator And I’ve Got One

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

The Foxes don’t always see eye-to-eye. I love my iPhone (and love complaining about its shortcomings). Helaine just wants a phone that can make calls. Fine.

Today there’s one more reason to love my smartphone and maybe make her a tiny bit jealous. Google has made it smarter! It is multilingual with Google’s new 50+ language translation tool.

You can type in a phrase, but that’s so 20th Century (and already available on the web). Instead just hold the cellphone up and speak.

Geoff: “I love cheese.”
Google: “J’adore le fromage.”

The app will even say your translated phrase back to you. I can assure you loving cheese in French is a lot more romantic than loving it in English!

Based on what I’ve seen with similar apps the ‘magic’ isn’t happening in my phone. Instead my digitized words are sent to a server farm for processing.

You know what? I don’t care. It works.

Of course there’s always the chance for a Jimmy Carter moment. Life is full of unforeseen perils!

This is Star Trek! I hold in my hand the Universal Translator.

It’s absolutely free!

The Mysterious ITunes One Percent Tax

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

A few days ago I bought two games for my iPhone. EA had a 99¢ sale. I couldn’t resist.

Today the receipt came via email (which Gmail thought was spam and not really from Apple). Added to my $1.98 purchase was 2¢ for tax.

The tax rate works out to 1%. Connecticut’s sales tax is 6%.

Apple has a physical presence in-state. There are a few Apple Stores. That normally means they must charge state sales tax.

There’s no explanation on the receipt beyond “tax.” Something is weird.

I entered “iTunes tax” into Google. A few other people have asked the same question I’m asking, but with no good answer. Some were in states with no sales tax!

From the search results it’s also obvious lots of states would like to tax iTunes purchases, but as far as I see don’t.

A search on the iTunes support page also produced no info.

The funny thing is I wouldn’t have bothered looking had the tax not been as small as it is! What tax is 1%?

Now this 2¢ charge will drive me crazy!

Google’s Demo Slam Is Really Nerdy Fun

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

I want to hate Google. They’ve become too big and powerful. Then the thing that just happened happens. Hatred gone!

Damn you smart guys!

It started as I was heading to Google to translate some Hebrew I found on a friend’s Facebook wall¹. Before I could summon Google Translate I noticed a tiny line of text below the search box.

You’ll laugh. You’ll cheer. You’ll actually like tech demos. Demo Slam

Tech demos! This stuff calls out to me. I am so nerdy. It’s geek porn!

Astoundingly, Google has found a way to turn product demonstrations into a spectator sport. Think “Battle of the Bands,” but for tech demos.

The one I was shown pitted two very dissimilar groups.

The first was two young women who ordered Indian food in Hindi using the afore mentioned Google Translate. They typed in the phrases they’d most likely use, kept the browser pages with the translation open, called the restaurant, then allowed Google to ‘speak’ the words on demand.

When their food arrived it was just what they’d ordered!

The second group was four guys who wanted to see if they could convince Google Goggles they were at Mount Rushmore. They built a model mountain then dressed themselves as the Mount Rushmore presidents. Using an iPhone they shot a photo of themselves.

It didn’t work the first time, but with a little tweaking Goggles saw the photo and brought up the Mount Rushmore result!

I’m voting for the Indian food girls, but these were both well done and VERY nerdy.

You’ve got to hand it to Google. They’ve found a way to get others to cleverly promote their sites… then hook me enough to write about it.

¹ – I didn’t click because it looks like an Israeli Facebook scam! See, we don’t have a corner on the scuzz market. This one has to do with sex and the Israeli version of Big Brother 3.