Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’


What Are You On?

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

intel dongleWhat are you on right now?

Helaine uses a laptop. My dad is 100% tablet. I rotate through devices and touch close to a dozen keyboards or screens through the day.

Nearly everything you know about computing is about to change. The size is shrinking again.

If you have a recent iPhone or one of the high end Android devices, you know the brain in that small device of yours works fine for browsing and video. Why do we need anything with bulk?

We don’t.

There is a new class of dongles entering the market which are full fledged PCs. Plug one into an HDMI port on any TV, pair with wireless keyboard and mouse and it’s a computer that can do nearly anything! Browse the web. Stream HD movies. Skype. Whatever.

These dongles are quad core machines special image processing chips. Very low power, they need no fans. They are light on RAM and disk space, but are optimized for the tasks most people normally perform.

They’re not for making content. They’re for consumption.

At the moment (and we’re very early in this game) the Windows version is $150 and the Android $100. Expect those numbers to fall.

This is crazy. How far we’ve come. We’re not slowing down.

There’s This App

Friday, September 26th, 2014


I found an app that solves a real 21st Century problem. It connects all my screens. It has simplified the task of passing stuff between them.

When my phone rings a notification pops up on all my computers. I was surprised how often my phone and I are apart.

It works the same way with text messages. You can even reply from your PC keyboard.

If I take a photo it can be sent directly to my PCs with two clicks.

Addresses or links found at my desk now slide to my phone for cut and paste into a nav program or browser.

I’m using it nearly every day.

It’s Pushbullet. It works on Android and iPhones, Windows and sorta on Macs.

Pushbullet connects your devices, making it easy and automatic to share almost anything between them.

It’s one of those tools you never knew you needed until you realize you can’t do without it. And, of course, it’s free.

Ballmer? Really?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Steve BallmerIt looks like the Clippers will go quickly. Published reports says Steve Ballmer, who recently left as CEO of Microsoft after seeing the writing on the wall, will pay $2,000,000,000. That’s an impressive number. Now I understand why Windows costs so much.

Donald Sterling, disgraced current owner, gets to laugh all the way to the bank. The value of his team seems to have doubled over the past few weeks. He can buy new friends.

The NBA gets another schmuck as an owner. I see Ballmer behind Microsoft’s failure to innovate over the past few years. Even worse, his mean spirited imprint is on most everything Microsoft has done recently.

But let me allow Steve to speak for himself. On the iPhone:

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”

Of Google’s Eric Schmidt:

“F**king Eric Schmidt is a f**king pussy. I’m going to f**king bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f**king kill Google.”

On Apple’s Macbooks:

“Apple gained about one point, but now I think the tide has really turned back the other direction.”

And, on business in general:

“That doesn’t mean nobody else ever thought about it, but ‘How do you make money?’ was what I got hired to do. I’ve always thought that way.”

After a friend posted this sale on Twitter, I replied, “Until Sterling, he was my most despised CEO.”

Good luck to all of us.

Technology Moving Too Quickly

Friday, May 9th, 2014


Helaine is driving to Santa Monica this weekend. That posed a problem. The power outlet in her car, what in less enlightened times was the cigarette lighter, stopped working. Using her iPhone for navigation would be fine but somewhere along the way she’d run out of juice!

Time to fix the outlet. It wasn’t too hard. An old plug must have shed parts in the outlet, shorting it. A pair of needle nose pliers to pluck the old pieces and a spare fuse fixed it.

While doing my stint as tech support I cleared out the car’s center console and came across a Garmin Nuvi 260W standalone GPS receiver. It’s at least five years old, maybe older.

There are two roads within a mile or two of here which might appear on the GPS. Everything else is newer.

It’s possible to buy new maps, I suppose. But why? What this box did is now done faster, cheaper and better by Helaine’s phone.

I guess I should throw it out, but it kills me. Five years, that’s it.

Back Up At The Top Of The World

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

IMG_0795_9967My last trip to Top of the World was so frustrating I needed to get back. Tonight. Sunset. Better results.

This was not a perfect photo day. Lots of Haze. No Santa Catalina. My still shots are a little washed out.

On the other hand, the sunset timelapse is pretty good. The GoPro was on a rock shooting a single frame every two seconds.

While there I saw three kids trying to take a photo while jumping. It just can’t be done with an iPhone. It can’t!

I gave them my card. Whether they retrieve the shot is another story.

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?