Sunday, November 17, 2019

Jony Ive at the National Portrait Gallery

A visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London to see Gursky's portrait of Jonathan Ive at the new Apple Park in Cupertino

RoHS Smart Watch, Gold Edition: Move over Apple Watch

Just splashed out on a 42mm Gold Edition Apple Watch at a cool £8,000? Happy? Well, you could have had an even bigger golden beast, a monstrous 55mm of it, for a mere twenty quid. In fact, you could have 400 of them.  Enter the RoHS Gold Edition direct from China. A friend in Greece ordered this at a cost of €29 plus €3 shipping. What a bargain.

Apple Notes: A notable exception as I return to Evernote, tail between legs

Twice in the past few months I’ve written about Apple Notes. First, I recounted how I had successful transferred all my Evernote files over to Notes and that all had gone well. Well, it went downhill from there. First I noticed some slowness in Notes. Then I realised that every time I opened the application on the iPhone there would be a delay of over a minute before I could start a new note or search for an existing item.

Night of the leather-stitched knives at Apple

Skeuomorphism, as isms go, hasn't been much in focus until yesterday. It's a big crime against good taste, though. Scott Forstall, Apple’s Senior Vice-President...

Apple’s iPhone locking policy

I'VE ALWAYS hated the locking of mobile phones to one carrier. Sure, in many countries, particularly the UK, locked phones supplied under a contract can be extremely cheap. And unlocking of the average phone is simple and costs peanuts; so there are some arguments in favour of locking.

But with the iPhone we have the worst of all worlds in many countries, including the USA and UK. The locked phone is supplied at a discount, as you would expect when signing a 12, 18 or even 24-month contract. Unlike other phones, though, the iPhone cannot be unlocked--unless it is jailbroken, which is not for everyone. More annoyingly, Apple have one chosen partner in every country. While I have been very happy with my O2 contract in Britain and with Vodafone in Greece, I would have liked a choice of carrier. Many would-be iPhone users are put off because they want to stay with their current supplier.Main_safari20081204

With the new iPhone expected mid-year (and the new 3.0 software certain for June) I've got to thinking about the iniquities of the exclusive deals that Apple have made throughout the world. Apple can claim with some justification that they have chosen partners that can provide reliable and universal 3G coverage, but I suspect the main reason for the system is the financial benefit that Apple gets from signing these exclusive deals. In my view it was wrong for a consumer-oriented company such as Apple to go down this route.

In several European countries, France and Greece to my knowledge, locking of phones is either illegal or not normal. So, for instance, I get an unlocked iPhone from Vodafone (official Apple partner) in Greece and I can use this anywhere in the world with a local SIM card. I routinely use my O2 SIM in this phone when I am in the UK. Meanwhile, I have a completely unused (but locked) iPhone which was supplied under the O2 contract. I paid £150 for this phone and this was a complete waste of money.

The fact that I have to have two separate contracts is also a scandal, but this time the finger points at the cellular phone networks rather than at Apple. Roaming charges are exorbitant and, in my case for instance, I could not rely entirely on roaming because I spend large chunks of the year abroad. Hence, I need two separate contracts. I pay a total of £80 combined ($116, €90) a month for my UK and Greek contracts which give me unlimited (fair usage) data downloads and an adequate number of voice minutes and SMS messages.  This is probably not expensive, but it would be nice to have only one number and fair roaming charges on one contract.

I foresee a time when the whole of Europe will be regarded as one area for cellular network purposes. It is geographically smaller than the United States, for instance, yet roaming charges are a fact of life for many Europeans. Those living close to borders--sometimes borders that run through the middle of a town--have to be very careful they don't inadvertently rack up data roaming charges of up to €10 per megabyte or a staggering €10,000 a gigabyte. Thankfully, the EU is doing something about this and caps will be placed on roaming charges. Not before time. 

Temptations of the iPad Pro and iPhone SE

Since last week’s announcement of the new iPad Pro and the 4in-screen iPhone SE I have been entertaining treasonous thoughts. Should I sideline the iPhone 6 Plus (which is sometimes a tight fit in my pocket) and move over to a smaller phone and then combine it with an iPad?

MacBook Pro v MacBook: The decision is made

After spending months vacillating between the tiny new MacBook and the more traditional and speedy 13in MacBook Pro with retina screen, I have reached a conclusion. Last week I bought the MacBook for test purposes, confident that if I didn't like it I could return it for cash or part exchange.

iMac G3, forsaken by Zeus

By Fergus MacOldie

IMac G3 JUST ENDED a mini-excursion to visit some old haunts in the south of the island of Crete, the southernmost tip of Europe. There, in the remote mountain village of Zaros, in the foothills of Zeus' birthplace, Mount Idi, lives my old friend Hebe and her veteran 1999 G3 iMac, complete with pink highlights (the Mac, that is). I was summoned to discover why Skype wouldn't run, but I found more than I bargained for. The venerable iMac had been bought in 2000 for the enormous sum of one million drachmae (over 2,500 euros by present reckoning) but it has been hardly a bad investment. With its 10 GB drive, 266MHz processor and 512MB of memory, this old girl has been soldiering on without attention for ten years. 

But crunch time approaches, as I soon discovered. Over the years well-meaning friends have supplied software and other updates on DVD, including an OS update to Panther. I found the root folder littered with redundant folders and files, including a number of data files that had somehow found their way there, so I spent a couple of hours on housekeeping. Hebe produced an ancient-looking external hard drive that someone had given her, but it turned out to be a godssend--80GB of pristine storage. I was able to offload some old stuff and, even, set up a backup schedule to copy the contents of the miniscule internal disc to the capacious drive. So far so good.

I also showed Hebe how to import photographs into iPhoto but stopped short of importing everything because we were down to a free disk space of only 1.7 GB, just about enough to keep things ticking over. However, after I left, a newly enthusiastic Hebe uploaded the 650 photographs from her camera and soon got an ominous "disk full" message. No wonder that, later in the evening, her well-viewed Sound of Music DVD wouldn't run. Clunk, clunk, the hills were no longer alive with music.

I've advised her to take the camera to the local photo store and have the memory copied to CD, then to delete all these photographs from the iMac. But what to do mediumterm? Unfortunately, the sad fact is that the iMac has reached the end of its computing days and needs replacing.

After all this, though, Skype (the latest version) still will not run. The icon bounces a couple of times and then goes back to rest in the dock. There's no obvious explanation for this. But Skype seems to be the least of the Mac's problems at the moment. She's about ready for the Dun Computin' rest home for Macs. Zeus has given up on her.

Buying a new Mac: The problem is solved, for now

For a year or so Mike has been sitting at the side of the road watching the Apple bandwagon trundle by. But when to jump aboard? At last he has made a decision on a new Mac….

Living and learning with Apple Bluetooth: An obvious solution

My new iPad Air 2 has been rather neglected, so much do I cleave to the remarkable iPhone 6 Plus. I have been carrying the iPhone around for the past five months and enjoying treating it as a mini tablet. As a result, I haven't been moved to take up the Air 2. Last week, however, I took Big Brother on train to Wigan Pier with the intention of doing some creative writing.