Saturday, July 4, 2020

Getting your mind around the Sony A7 menus

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It's fashionable in every review of Sony cameras to complain about the complexity of the menus. My current exposure is to the...

Locks Ajar: A trip to two favourite spots with old Hektor in tow

The locks are off and the prison door is slightly ajar. Time for a first trip in the Jaguar I-Page to two favourite locations and with a strange lens in the bag...

Macfilos: 5,000 posts already and here’s one from 2010

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Review: Heroes of the Telegraph by John Munro (1891), iBookstore, free

Had blogs existed 120 years ago John Munro would have been up there with the best of 'em. His book, which traces electronic communications from the 50-year-old and "perfected" telegraph through to the latest modern developments, the telephone and the phonograph, is a Gutenberg gem. At the time of writing in 1891 both the telephone and phonograph had been around for little more than 10 years and Munro exhibits the sort of enthusiasm now associated with the latest technical news on Engadget or TechCrunch.

Edison and phonographThe story of the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison is fascinating enough, but it is Munro's conjectures on the future opened up by recordings that are much more interesting. Here is a review of possible future developments, some uncannily accurate, some wide of the mark, that make for gripping reading. 

He suggests that phonograph records could be used for correspondence, for dictation and for communication "on unsteady vehicles such as trains" where writing is difficult. He also foresees audio books and reports that Edison can fit the whole of Nicholas Nickleby on four eight-inch wax cylinders of five-inch diameter. "Perhaps," he says, "we could have circulating libraries which issue phonograms, and there is already some talk of a phonographic newspaper which will prattle politics and scandal at the breakfast-table. Addresses, sermons, and political speeches may be delivered by the phonograph; languages taught, and dialects preserved; while the study of words cannot fail to benefit by its performance."

Strangely, in 1891, the concept of recording music was not mainstream: "Musicians will now be able to record their improvisations by a phonograph placed near the instrument they are playing."

This book is a delight and is a must-read for all technophiles.  It has probably been out of print for decades, yet through the Gutenberg project and Apple's iBookstore we can read it again. Much of the book is concerned with the development of the electric telegraph and, of particular interest, the trials and tribulations of undersea cable laying.

After the break is a fuller excerpt from the chapter on Edison's invention of the phonograph.

Lightroom Creative Cloud meets Capture One’s free trial

After decades with Adobe's Lightroom, John takes a free ride with Capture One. Is he ready to give up the familiar turf and move over to the Danish model?

iPad Magic Keyboard: Why not settle for the best?

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Apple's new iPad Magic Keyboard combined with touch and mouse support in iPadOS 13.4 at last bridges the gap between tablet and computer.

Interrupted relationships in the Lockdown of 2020

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In the space of six weeks, our horizons have shrunk to what they were 200 years ago. We're in danger of becoming too parochial in these days of house arrest.

USB-C Port Woes: Wobbling all the way to the Genius Bar

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Does your cable wobble? All four USB-C ports on Mike's 2018 MacBook Pro wobble and lead to unstable data connections. Apple don't want to know, but a simple fix seems to be working.

Ten years ago on Macfilos: All done and dusted in Switzerland

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While we're self-isolating in our homes across the globe, spare a thought for a less dangerouse but exceptionally distruptive event that happened exactly ten years ago: The Great Icelandic Dust Cloud. Mike found his travel plans shattered...

April Fools’ Day cancelled due to Coronavirus

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Has April 1 been cancelled? There have been some half-hearted attempts but, in general, it's a non-event. At least we can celebrate Apple's birth.

Electric cars and saving a bit of dosh

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I'm not one for constantly swapping and changing energy suppliers to gain a temporary advantage here and there. At home, I've been...