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Upgrades

Posted on October 20th, 2014

Dave!I'M UPGRADING MY iPHONE! NO TIME TO BLOG, MR. JONES!

CHECK BACK TOMORROW, NEVERMIND!

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Categories: Apple Stuff 2014Click To It: Permalink  0 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Eventful?

Posted on October 16th, 2014

Dave!Another Apple event?

Apparently this is for all the crap they didn't want mucking up their big iPhone 6 slash Apple Watch event last month.

So what's on-deck this time around? Let's take a look, shall we? Needless to say, there will be spoilers for those who haven't seen the broadcast.

   
• iPhone 6 Launch! Before Tim Cook takes the stage, we get to look at the hysteria surrounding the launch of the iPhone 6 from around the world. Holy crap. As big of an Apple Whore as I like to think I am, even I felt this was way, way over the top and embarrassing. It's not a cure for cancer, people... it's a frickin' PHONE. Albeit a pretty phone. That's too big. I want the same size iPhone I used to have. Not surprisingly, it's the biggest iPhone launch ever, because aren't they all?

iPHONE, MUTHAFUCKER!!!
1. ZOMFG, WHITNEY, IT'S A PHONE! ZOMFG, BRITTANY, THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!
2. There may be genocide in Syria... BUT iPHONE, MUTHAFUCKER!!!
3. SECOND MARKET VICTORY IS MINE! SEE YOU ON eBAY, BITCHES!
4. YOU, SIR, ARE A FUCKING iGENIUS! I'd like to book some one-on-one training!

As if that weren't enough hype, Apple dusts off Walt Mossberg for one of his idiotic quotes designed to make people think that Walt Mossberg is still relevant to tech journalism when all it does is reaffirm that Walt Mossberg will continue to say anything he has to in order to keep Walt Mossberg firmly implanted up the collective asses of giant tech companies so as to give the illusion that Walt Mossberg is relevant to tech journalism.

WALT MOSSBERG!!!

WALT MOSSBERG!!!

   
• Apple Pay! Heaven help me, I'm actually excited about being able to pay for things with my iPhone and not have to lug around a crap-ton of antiquated credit cards, debit cards, reward cards, and the like...

WALT MOSSBERG!!!

Even more exciting is the online component to Apple Pay, which will hopefully bury those PayPal fuckers (THAT STOLE MY MONEY!) once and for all. The privacy component sounds great (no need to turn over your card number or any personal information)... at least until naked pictures of me end up on the internet. Guess we'll find out Monday.

   
• Apple Watch! For the first time in a long time, Apple has announced a product that I'm not immediately wanting to buy. Sure, Apple Watch looks great, and it seems a handy thing to have (assuming you own an iPhone)... but until I see one in person, the idea of having a giant klutzy bangle strapped to my write holds little appeal...

Apple Watch, Apple Watch, Apple Watch, yo!

Naturally, it's better-looking than anything else on the market... but I was hoping Apple would figure out a way to make a thinner profile... put the battery in the band or something... to make it not be such a boat anchor. Oh well. Maybe Apple Watch 2.0.

   
• iOS 8.1! In addition to iPay, Monday's update will also include a beta for iCloud Photo Library. WHEEE! THAT TOTALLY MAKES UP FOR KILLING OFF APERTURE!

NOT!

But if they finally... FUCKING FINALLY... allow you to AirDrop files between OS X and iOS devices... I'll be happy.

   
• MacOS X Yosemite! I've been using the beta. I'm not too impressed. Yes, there are some nifty features (I am really loving being able to use my Mac as a speaker phone... and being able to send an SMS from your Mac through your iPhone is fantastic)... but it's just so damn ugly. Hideous day-glow colors I thought had been abolished in the 80's permeate absolutely everything. Tacky, distracting, and just inexplicably bad GUI. Perhaps I'll get used to it. But I doubt it.

   
• Continuity! The ability to seamlessly transition from your iPhone to your iPad to your Mac is a pretty killer feature. The problem being that it doesn't always work the way you'd expect it to. Much like the early days of iSync, it would seem that Continuity has a ways to go before it actually becomes the user nirvana it claims to be. Bonus points to Apple for getting Stephen Colbert onboard for his Supreme Commander of Security bit though.

   
• iPad Air 2! Not a lot of new features and improvements here. Certainly not enough to get your average iPad Air user to buy the latest model. And yet... LOOK HOW THIN IT IS! IT'S THINNER THAN A PENCIL! TWO iPAD AIR 2's ARE THINNER THAN THE ORIGINAL iPAD! THEY'RE SO THINNNNNNN!

Apple iPad 2... SO BLOODY THIN!

The bonded, glare-resistant display sounds nice. Wish they'd update all their other shit to have less glare on them. A speedier processor is great if you're playing a lot of games and such. Using an iPad as a camera is weird to me, but a lot of people do it, so I suppose they'll appreciate the camera upgrade. Adding Touch ID is a no brainer, as iPad Air 2 can be used for Apple Pay.

The ridiculous thing here is that, like with the iPhone 6 before it, Apple doesn't start the base model with 32GB. $499 for 16GB? Absurd. And then it jumps all the way to 64GB... WTF?

   
• iMac Retina 5K! Okay... this... THIS... is frickin' incredible. Phil Schiller's presentation pretty much said it all... for the entry price of $2,500 you get a mind-bogglingly beautiful 5K display that's cheaper than most 4K displays... and a computer thrown in for free...

Apple iMac 5K

Forget the Mac Pro... THIS is a photographer and graphic designer's wet dream...

iMac 5K Comparison

Once I got used to the Retina Display on my MacBook Pro, it's almost painful to use a machine that doesn't have a Retina Display. Assuming I can ever afford to buy this, I won't have to.

WANT!

WANT SO BAD!

   
• Mac mini! Kind of a wacky product to still have around. I mean, sure, when you were trying to get Windows users to switch, it made sense to have a cheap Mac that could use your existing monitor, keyboard, and mouse... but now? Well... I suppose there's still an audience out there given that Mac mini is half the price of an iMac... but it's really not the best way to experience a Mac, and I'm surprised Apple is still dredging the bottom of a dying computer market.

Then again... market share is market share, and Apple is about the only computer manufacturer out there still able to be in it at a profit, so what do I know?

UPDATE! The internet is having a field day over the fact that the new Mac mini no longer allows user-upgradable RAM. A valid concern, to be sure... and I really hate what this says about the disposability of computer equipment that can't be upgraded... but, again, this is the bottom-feeder Mac of a dying PC market. Can't really blame Apple for cutting every possible corner they can to keep prices at a point that the audience for this item expects?

   
Annnnd... that's a wrap...

iMac 5K Comparison

Kind of a lackluster event, so far as Apple is concerned, but it does solidify the ideal that Apple has their shit together when it comes to creating a complete line of products that will integrate into every aspect of your life. They're not just a computer company... or even a tech company, really... Apple is a lifestyle company.

Now if they'd just come out with their own television and DVR service for my lifestyle, I'd be really happy.

   

Torn

Posted on October 14th, 2014

Dave!The drive home from Seattle-side was uneventful. Mostly.

There was that time the car ahead of me ran off the road while texting or eating or whatever the hell it is that people do while they're supposed to be paying attention to the road. At first I thought maybe they had a heart attack or something, so I pulled over and started getting out of my car to help... but by the time I got one foot on the ground, they had already recovered and blown past me.

You're welcome!

When I got home, I was positively unshocked to find out that I had no internet. If I had a nickel for all the times it goes down, I'd probably have enough to pay my internet bill.

After work I was entirely too tired to troubleshoot my internet, so I decided to go through all the photos I took on my trip and delete all the crap I don't need. As I was culling photos to keep, I ran across this one...

iPhone Error!

That's the back of my car on the left... I have no idea what's going on there on the right. I don't recall taking this photo, nor do I know if it's a combination of two images... or (more likely) something that got shot while rapid movement was going on.

Regardless, it's actually pretty cool. Add some filters and you've got instant art!

iPhone Error!

Guess I need to experiment with my iPhone and try and create something like this on purpose.

Maybe I could do it while driving. Apparently that's all the rage now.

   

iPhone 6

Posted on October 2nd, 2014

Dave!While I was half-a-world away, my new iPhone 6 was delivered. Now that I'm back, I've had a little time to play with it. And since I have a blog, I'm obligated to tell everybody what I think.

So here it is.

Aesthetically? The iPhone 6 is a beautiful phone. I love the way the glass marries to the case. It feels really good in the hand. It looks sexy in a way most phones can only dream of (including my previous favorite, the HTC One). Too bad it has to go in a case to cover that up.

I'm not a fan of the larger size in my hand and would have preferred a phone the size of my smaller iPhone 5. That being said, the "display zoom" feature which makes everything bigger on the 6 is wonderful. So much easier on my eyes and far easier to use. Except... things do not seem as sharp as they have been on previous models, even when display zoom is off. Would a higher pixel density help with the lack of sharpness?

Apple's "reachability" feature which drops the top-half of the screen down with a light-double-tap of the home button (so you can reach it one-handed) is a nifty feature. I can't seem to get in the habit of using it, but appreciate that Apple at least tried to compensate for the biggest inconvenience that a bigger phone saddles you with.

I am not liking the on/off button being moved to the side. It was more intuitive on the top.

Yes, the phone is very thin. I would have gladly endured a bit more thickness if it would have meant a bit better battery life but... still, the battery life isn't terrible.

Performance is stellar, and it's the snappiest, smoothest phone I've ever used.

I'm disappointed that the sound hasn't been improved much over previous models. It's 2014. Is stereo too much to ask for? Especially on a phone this big?

The camera is fantastic, but it would have been nice to have had the optical image stabilization of the 6+ over the less capable digital stabilization in the 6. Also? While the image the camera produces are nicer overall, the contrast seems weak and inconsistent. Physically having the camera protrude from the back of the phone is a bit of a design flaw (though most people will eliminate this problem by putting their phone in a case).

And, speaking of cases...

I went with the Speck CandyShell Grip...

Hwange Lion Cub Goodbye

It's a nice enough case and the rubberized grip is very good. But I really, really hate two things about it... 1) Why in the hell do manufacturers insist on plastering their name all over your frickin' phone? Nobody cares and it's just lame and stupid. And 2) the photo of the product looks like the case is a matte color, but it's not. It's insanely glossy which looks absolutely terrible once fingerprints and smears get plastered all over it. If Speck were to take their damn name off and use a matte plastic, this would be a killer case. As it is? I'm not digging it. At all.

   
Overall, I'm happy with the iPhone 6.

No, it's not a critical leap over the previous generation, but call quality seems a bit improved in low-signal areas over iPhone 5, so I'll definitely take it.

Ultimately it's a phone, after all.

   

Bullet Sunday 398

Posted on September 14th, 2014

Dave!Don't let Summer's imminent demise get you down... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• New? You know that feeling when a new toy you ordered from Amazon shows up? Suddenly it's Christmas and your Birthday all rolled into one and it doesn't matter that you had to pay for it because it's something you really want and are just so thrilled to have it in your hot little hands at long last after an agonizing wait even though you just ordered it only yesterday. Great, isn't it?

You know what's not great? Getting your new toy then discovering that it's not "new" after all. Not only has the box been opened previously... but all the packages inside have been opened. As if that weren't bad enough... THERE IS DIRT ON YOUR "NEW" TOY! ... DIRT!!!!

Obviously, I received returned merchandise. Obviously, I won't be keeping it. Obviously, I have to return it and wait AGAIN for my NEW toy to arrive.

Life can be so hard.

Well, relatively speaking, of course.

   
• Palin! Last month Sarah Palin started her own online channel. And more amusing than the fact that there are people out there willing to pay $9.95 a month to listen to her bullshit is that Saturday Night Live predicted it...

But it wasn't until news of a drunken brawl involving The Palins broke out that I realized what serious entertainment potential "The Sarah Palin Channel" has. Reality is far better than anything Saturday Night Live could ever dream up. And while I seriously doubt Sarah will be airing footage from what really goes on in her life that's not been carefully orchestrated for public consumption... I am praying that somebody captured footage of Palin yelling "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!? while mixing it up with the locals. I would gladly pay $9.95 to see that.

   
• Fake! As somebody who has been accused of "faking" my travels on more than one occasion, I was intrigued by the story of a Dutch girl who actually did fake a trip to Southeast Asia. At first I was thinking "How lame could you be?"... but then I read the story...

Interesting. And yet another wake-up call to not trust everything you read on the internet.

   
• Mom! This is beyond sweet...

So very Japanese... but in a way I think anybody can relate to.

   
• Phone 6! I placed my pre-order early enough that I'll be getting my iPhone 6 on launch day. Except I'll be half-way around the world on vacation when it arrives, so actually I won't be getting it on launch day. I am both happy and sad about that.

New iPhone 6

ZOMG! JUST LOOK AT IT! I really need to start planning my vacations better.

   
• Phone 8! I would never give up my Apple iPhone for a Google Android Phone. I don't care for Android... at all... and would consider such a move to be a significant downgrade. But then there's Windows Phone 8. I wouldn't trade down to that platform either... but, if Apple closed up shop today, that would be the phone I'd buy. For one thing, Windows Phone 8 is the only OS with an interface that seems "new." Whereas Android is a shittier version of what Apple's already done, Windows 8 is a beautiful departure. It feels modern. It looks great. Some real thought went into it. I like most everything about it... once I got used to the "flippy tiles" interface, which gets annoying after a while...

Windows Phone 8

But there's a couple of serious problem for Microsoft: market share and apps available. Market share is probably the biggest problem because they don't have any. It's hovering just below 3% and dropping fast. And because of that, developers aren't writing apps for their dying platform. Including the three companies I work with. Two never even started... the third stopped all WinPhone development last Friday.

And so Microsoft is in catch-22 situation. Their market share won't grow if customers don't have a ton of compelling apps. Developers won't create a ton of compelling apps until there is significant market share. And I don't care how many billions of dollars that Microsoft throws at the problem, it's not going away any time soon. Which means Windows Phone 8 is probably not long for this earth. Eventually Microsoft is going to have to face the fact that they will never be able to compete with Apple and Google when it comes to smart phones. Their only chance now is to fork Android to create their own version of the OS so they can still do what they want to do while having access to the gazillions of apps available. Whether Microsoft decides to do the obvious or waste billions upon billions of dollars to no avail remains to be seen. As a fan of their UI, I hope they do something before WinPhone is forced to close shop permanently.

   
And, on that happy note... time to finish packing.

   

Watch!

Posted on September 10th, 2014

Dave!Three big announcements from Apple yesterday. All of which would have been surprising if it all hadn't been leaked to the internet weeks ago. If you haven't seen the keynote video, it's over at Apple's site for your viewing pleasure.

   
• iPhone 6... And so the inevitable happened... iPhone got bigger. But the user interface didn't get bigger with it. Meaning it's not any easier for people to navigate if they have poor eyesight (me), or older eyes (me), or vision problems (me). Nope... the tiny icons and text have just been moved further apart on the bigger screens of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus...

New iPhone Lineup

   

Except... Apple mentioned something called "Display Zoom" which sounds interesting. The iPhone 6 can apparently render the text and icons larger than previous models on command...

   

New iPhone Lineup

   

Huzzah! But... I can't find much detail as to how this works. Can you leave "Display Zoom" on all the time, or is it a temporary thing? Does it work everywhere, or only with apps that support it? However it works, it looks to be a step in the right direction for people like me who need an easier time of it when trying to use their phone. My fear is that this only works on the home screen, but I guess that's better than nothing.

Anyway...

The new seamless, ergonomic design of the iPhone 6 is just beautiful. Apple's mobile aesthetic has been looking dated for a while now compared to what the competition is doing, so this is a welcome sight...

   

New iPhone Design

   

A pity that you have to slap a case on that sexy design in order to keep it from smashing to bits if you happen to drop it. With this in mind, Apple is introducing both a leather and a silicone case to protect your investment. Hopefully this time they'll be available at launch so your iPhone is made safer from day one.

Screen resolutions are getting to be ridiculous... with some newer phones having pixels that are smaller than the eye can detect. Which means wasting precious battery life to power something that you probably won't even notice. Apple increased the density on their "Retina Display" screens, but didn't go too crazy (326 ppi on the 6 and 401 ppi on the 6 Plus). This should strike a good balance between getting a beautiful display while still being battery efficient.

Not surprisingly, Apple is using a new 64-bit A8 chip for the brains of their latest and greatest. If you watched the game demo during the keynote, you've seen what this kind of power is bringing to the table. But power, of course, comes at a price. Lucky for us Apple has made advances with the iPhone power cell as well, so you can still get decent battery life with the faster processor.

   

New iPhone Design

   

But what about the feature I use most on my iPhone? What about the camera? And I'm not talking about all the bells and whistles like "face detection" and "burst mode" and "HDR"... I'm talking about the actual camera element. The specs say that iPhone 6 is still stuck at 8 megapixels, which is a bit surprising. I mean sure, megapixels aren't the sole determining factor in getting great photos... but higher pixel counts do allow for more detail. So if not the megapixels, what has been improved?

Well, the lens has been bumped up to an f/2.2 aperture, which is a bit brighter than before. That's a good thing. Exposure control should make getting shots with wildly disparate lighting conditions a bit easier. Also a good thing. And Apple has come up with "auto stabilization" to reduce motion blur and shake. That's a very good thing. BUT, if you've been waiting for actual OPTICAL stabilization, you can get it at long last... but ONLY on the iPhone 6 Plus. That's a not-so-good thing for me, because I don't want to have to start carrying a purse so I have a place to put my iPhone.

The only bad thing I've noticed is that the camera lens now protrudes from the shell. Seems like that's an invitation for damage if you're not using a case on your iPhone... but superior camera features are going to have a trade-off, and this is what you have to pay...

   

New iPhone Design

   

If you shoot video, there's a slew of improvements on that front. Automated time-lapse. 240 frames per second slo-mo at 720p. And while there's no 4K option, you do get beautiful 1080p HD video running at 60 frames per second... all with cinematic video stabilization. Sold!

Of course Apple included Touch ID on the iPhone 6 models... which nicely addresses my bitching from yesterday about the shitty password security Apple is using on pre-Touch ID models. AND it dovetails nicely into another big announcement today...

   
• Apple Pay... And heeeeeere's Apple's new "digital wallet" functionality! Many others have tried to bring us this golden carrot of the modern age... but they've all failed. This October, we'll see if Apple has the muscle to get their version accepted by merchants around the globe. Something tells me they can. But... what about security? Well, it would seem that Apple has put some real thought into Apple Pay, because its security features are pretty well-rounded. First of all, you no longer have to disclose your credit card number, name, and security code like you do when you hand over your credit card. Instead, Apple Pay creates a Device Account Number that is stored on a new Security Element chip on your phone... not on Apple's servers... to conduct the transaction. Furthermore, Apple is actually adding privacy to the transaction by keeping them private. No details will be stored or transmitted, so your purchases can't be tracked back to you. Well, through the payment anyway. And since Apple Pay also has an online component, this should make it easy for Conservative lawmakers to get their gay porn fix anonymously.

I'm in love with the idea of not having credit cards bulk up my wallet. But that day isn't coming any time soon. So long as one retailer you deal with doesn't accept Apple Pay, you're going to have to hold on to your plastic. And while it's nice that you won't have to dig them out as often as this technology get adopted, it's not like using a physical credit card is such a huge burden that it's going to matter all that much in the end.

Verdict? Cautiously optimistic.

   
• Apple Watch... Praise be to Jobs that we seem to have escaped from the "i" branding that's dominated Apple for the past several years. By naming their wearable "Apple Watch" instead of "iWatch" I will be able to purchase one without screaming.

And, yes, you read that right... I am buying one.

The minute I saw this image hit the screen, the decision was made...

   

Apple Watch Mickey Mouse Face

   

Everything else is gravy, because I'd buy the watch if all it did was display the time using an animated Mickey Mouse (he taps his foot with the time!).

And about that gravy...

The health crap is nice, but probably not something I'm going to make use of. The whole "send your heartbeat" "tap a friend" and "send a sketch" stuff isn't very compelling to me. Heck, a lot of the features being touted aren't compelling to me. Yes, it will be nice to not have to go fishing for my iPhone every time I've got an alert or a message or whatever, but the defining feature to me? We're one step closer to Dick Tracy, baby...

Come in, Dick Tracy!

   
The day I can hold a FaceTime conversation on my Apple Watch will be one of the greatest days of my life.

In the meanwhile, I'll just have to settle for the dozens of things that Apple Watch can do right now.

All of which wouldn't mean shit if Apple Watch wasn't something I wanted to wear. Fortunately, that was never really a concern. I knew Apple would come up with something good-looking and wearable... and they did...

   

The Apple Watch Sport

   

...IN TWO FRICKIN' SIZES!!!

Which means that if the larger one is like a brick on my bony arm, I have another option available. Sadly, it doesn't look like it gets any thinner, which has always been the problem with so-called "smart watches." I mean, just look at this boat anchor...

   

The Apple Watch Thickness

   

To be honest, I really thought Apple's watch would be thinner than this. I thought they'd find a way to put the battery in the band... or make it run on nuclear fusion... or something to make it not be so obvious...

   

The Apple Watch Thickness

   

Maybe they're saving that for Apple Watch 2.0.

The one thing that did turn out as expected was the interface. Apple being Apple, they weren't content to force a Phone interface on their watch. That's what other companies do. No no... they started from scratch and came up with something more appropriate to the smaller size of the device. Using the "crown" for interactivity so it doesn't obscure the screen is genius. Using "deep presses" for touch selection is genius. Having the watch tap you for attention instead of jolting you with a buzz is genius. The MagSafe contact charger is genius. The customization options are genius. Everything about the Apple Watch is genius...

   

The Apple Watch Thickness
Battery life? Memory size? Durability? Water resistance? Who knows? Who cares?

   

Well, except the wait. "Early 2015" is pretty non-specific, and could mean as late as May.

Another sticking point could be the price. "Starting at $349" leaves a lot of latitude. The style/band you want could run much, much higher.

Not that it matters. If I have to sell a kidney to get my digital Mickey Mouse... that's definitely on the table.

   

So... a banner day for Apple and Apple Whores alike!

I guess.

It's hard to know for sure until I find out if I'm going to be down a kidney or not.

   

Security!

Posted on September 9th, 2014

Dave!And so Apple released their long-rumored watch and long-leaked iPhone 6 today.

We'll get to that next entry. I've got bigger fish to fry first.

As you may have already heard, several celebrities... including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Kirsten Dunst... had their personal (and often revealing) photos stolen and posted publicly without their consent or knowledge. Despite what the assholes at FOX "News" say, victim blaming is not the way to respond to this. You should be able to take whatever the hell photos you want and not have to worry about some criminal violating your privacy by stealing and posting them. And while it's nice to think that these criminals can be tracked down and made to pay for their crimes, the global reach of the internet makes this unlikely or impractical. The criminal would have to be located here in the US for US law to really be of any use. Even then, cyber crimes are persecuted so wildly that there's no guarantee a criminal will get a suitable punishment.

So what to do? Let's see...

In a press release Apple says "Hey, don't blame us" because the theft wasn't caused by a breach of their network. Instead, it was a targeted attack on specific accounts where the criminal broke in by guessing passwords (probably with the help of brute-force hacking software). At the end of the release, apple closes with this...

To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification. Both of these are addressed on our website at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4232.

To which I say... bullshit.

Not because it's bad advice, but because Apple itself makes taking their advice far too difficult.

My Macintosh and my iPhone and my iPad are password protected. In order to get to any information on them, you have to get past the login screen first. I use a rather strong password that's a pain in the ass to type, but protecting my information makes it worthwhile. But here's the thing... once you've unlocked your device, Apple continues to pester you for passwords all the goddamn time. And, yes, I've checked "remember my password." It doesn't do any good. I am FOREVER having to enter my password. Just this morning I opened iTunes so I could listen to some tracks by The 1975. For reasons unknown, all my iTunes Match songs stored in the cloud were inaccessible. In order to play them, Apple wants my password...

iTunes Match NOT AVAILABLE!

ENTER YOUR FUCKING PASSWORD!

Now, I've already typed a password to unlock my machine, so having to type the password AGAIN makes no damn sense. But at least with my Mac I have a physical keyboard available. What about my iPhone? That damn thing asks for my password several times a day. Want to buy an app? Even a FREE app? Type your damn password. Then type it again. And again. And again. And again. And here's where having that strong password that Apple recommends falls apart. Who wants to type "&7pbik9jbkQos$HB" on the shitty, incomplete, tiny keyboard that's on your iPhone over and over? Anybody? No? That's what I thought.

Which is why people tend to create simple, easily-hackable passwords.

So when Apple says "It's your fault, Jennifer Lawrence, you should have had a stronger password!" I want to say "Bullshit, Apple, it's all YOUR fault for making stronger passwords too difficult to use by making people type them too many damn times!"

Apple's answer to that would probably be "You should buy a new iPhone that has Touch ID... then you don't have to type a password, you can just use your fingerprint!" Well, okay. But that's no help for the millions of people who can't afford to upgrade their phones every damn time Apple comes up with a new technology.

So, Apple, please... seriously please... stop being so clueless when it comes to security. It's one thing to offer the advice of using strong passwords... it's another thing entirely to make strong passwords practical to use. Which you absolutely do not. You need to allow the user an option to NOT require passwords once a device has been unlocked. Then, instead of forcing users to create easy-to-type/easy-to-hack passwords they have to enter constantly, you can instead get a strong, worthwhile password they only have to type once...

ENTER YOUR FUCKING PASSWORD!

Today Tim Cook said that Apple excels at solving problems like this.

Time to prove it, because your current "solution" isn't working.

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iOS 8

Posted on June 4th, 2014

Dave!"Android fragmentation is turning devices into a toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities."
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

This is the second half of my notes on Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, this time focusing on what's coming down the pipe in iOS 8. And something else entirely, which was an unexpected surprise.

To start things off, Apple CEO Tim Cook was back on stage to drop some rather startling statistics on iOS update adoption vs. Android update adoption...

Tim Cook

89% of iPhone users are on the latest version of iOS. A mere 9% of Android users are using the latest version of that mobile OS. For developers, this is a pretty big deal. If you are counting on new OS features for the functionality of your app, you have to be assured that your users have a version of the OS which has those features. From the looks of things, Android developers are going to be very slow to implement new stuff in their apps, because the vast majority of their users are on some older version where they are unsupported. Add to that the heinous fragmentation of the Android OEM variants, and Apple has made a very good case for developers to choose iOS as their platform of choice.

After Tim Cook's intro, Craig Federighi comes back to show everybody what end-user features and improvements we can expect with the next update.

One area where iOS has always been pretty horrible is dealing with interruptions. Get an alert, and you have to dump out of whatever you're doing to deal with it. iOS 8 takes a big leap forward by allowing you to handle common interruptions (like text messages and calendar alerts) without leaving the app you're in...

Craig Federighi

This is very cool, but it would be pretty useless if it were restricted to Apple-only interrupts. Fortunately, interactive notifications are available to 3rd-party apps, which is fantastic for people like me who communicate primarily through Facebook Messenger or other non-Apple services. What remains to be seen is how far the interactivity goes. Can developers customize the controls available to best fit their apps? Or does Apple limit interactivity to internal iOS buttons and text fields? Time will tell.

Taking a page from Windows Phone 8, iOS 8 now has some people-centric additions... like being able to access frequent and recent contacts on the app-switcher page. A terrific use of some wasted space...

Craig Federighi

Unfortunately, the usefulness of this feature is hampered by Apple deciding how you can interact with these people. Right now you can text, call, or Facetime with them... but there's no option for Facebook messaging or a slew of other 3rd-party apps that people use to keep in touch with the people in their lives. So, ultimately, a step in the right direction... but not a very big one.

Next up was a beautiful new grouped tabs interface for Safari on the iPad...

Craig Federighi

I do three things on my iPad... 1) Watch movies when I travel... 2) Read comic books... and 3) Surf the internet. The area in most need of improvement is Safari for web browsing, and it's nice to know that Apple is at least trying to make it a better experience.

One of the most exciting pieces of news at the keynote was Apple's announcement of an improved keyboard... now with predictive text. As you type, words appear above the keyboard where iOS is trying to guess what you're typing. Kind of like what happens now as words appear above your input cursor while you type... except now you get more than just one word, which should be a lot more productive. iOS doesn't stop there though... it also tries to predict words you'll use in response to emails based on the content and whom the email is from! The keyboard learns context, and tries to be smart about how it assists you...

Craig Federighi

As if all that weren't enough... Apple is now going to allow you to install alternative keyboards! This means terrific technology like Swype, which allows you to slide your finger from letter to letter in a word... and Fleksy which has an amazing word-guessing algorithm and cool gesture controls... can be installed and used system-wide. This is fantastic news, because now users can test keyboards and find the one that will allow them to type the fastest.

And then, AT LONG LAST, Apple has finally given some love to their texting app, "Messages." I don't know what the heck took so long, but now we can finally manage users on group messages... and even dump out of a conversation if you want. If that's too extreme, you can put a thread on "do not disturb" so it won't keep buzzing your phone. Even better, iOS 8 has even more ways to communicate... allowing you to share your location, and even add voice memos and quick videos...

Craig Federighi

Now if Apple would only get off their ass and give the same attention to VOICE CALLS. I mean, come on... PC call center software has been around for decades which allows you to do simple things like record custom voicemail messages and selectively route callers... why in the hell is iPhone so far behind in this? It IS, after all, primarily a PHONE, isn't it? Oh well, I suppose I should be thrilled that we at least get to block a caller from calling again... how long did we have to wait for that?

And then we have HealthKit... Apple's portal to managing all your health apps...

Craig Federighi

The ultimate promise of the idea is that one day you will be able to monitor various aspects of your health (like blood pressure and the like) which can automatically be transmitted and monitored by your automated analysis software and you doctor. If there's a problem detected, your doctor's office can then contact you to get it sorted out. It's a fantastic idea. In theory. In reality, I wonder how many doctor's offices are going to implement this stuff any time soon. I also wonder when we're going to get Apple's "iWatch" which will have health monitoring and syncing that makes HealthKit actually useful. Who knows.

From there we moved on to photo storage (in iCloud, of course) and the idea of Apple's "Smart Adjustment" technology which gives you the ability to perform comprehensive edits that are smart enough to do a lot of "behind the scenes" work to give you much better photos with little effort...

Craig Federighi

It will be bundled with iOS 8 and be added to Yosemite in 2015. Which is great and all... but I have to wonder where this leaves Aperture, Apple's high-end photo editing and storage software. How will it be able to handle edits made in iPhoto on iPhones, iPads, and Macs? Will they integrate, or be a separate set? Will flattened edits in Aperture be saved out so that devices reading from your iCloud Photos can actually view them? All of this is up in the air. And since Apple won't comment on future software (natch) it's tough to tell if Aperture is even going to be around in 2015. This is very, very frustrating... but so typically Apple. I honestly don't expect them to tip their hand and tell people what's happening with Aperture... but it would at least be nice to know that it's still going to be around.

A surprise to no one, Siri is being updated...

Craig Federighi

I use Siri all the time, so naturally I am thrilled to have improvements to his/her functionality. What bums me out is how far behind the Mac version is to the iOS version, and no mention has been made as to whether or not any love is going to be spent improving the Macintosh side of things. I would hope so, because the crappy dictation functionality on the Mac is pathetic. Why Apple can't keep up with the iOS side of things is a complete mystery. Why can't you ask Siri questions on a Mac like you can on an iPhone? It makes -zero- sense. And yet here we are.

And here's where things start to get interesting.

Very interesting, if you're a developer.

First of all, Apple is going to finally allow permission-based data sharing between apps. Something that is long overdue and will makes for some incredible extended functionality possibilities. Sure, the functionality will be limited so as to keep data safe... but this is such a massive leap in the right direction that I find it hard to not get excited at the prospect.

Game developers will get up to a massive 10x speed bump in their apps thanks to a new technology called "Metal" which allows them to get closer to the raw power of the iPhone/iPad processor than ever before.

And, lastly, something that took everybody by surprise... a new development language called Swift that takes the best parts of past programming languages and marries them to modern programming concepts while leaving all the antiquated baggage behind...

Craig Federighi

Without being able to see it and play with it, there's no way I can really comment on how useful Swift might end up being. But it certainly sounds promising. And powerful. And easier to use. And smart. I can't wait to take a look.

And that was that.

No new hardware. No new AppleTV. No new iWatch.

Just some interesting new features and a promising new future for Mac developers. Which is what I guess we should expect from a Developer's conference.

So I guess I'll try not to be disappointed with the lack of new toys.

   

Yosemite

Posted on June 3rd, 2014

Dave!Because my entire day yesterday was spent catching up on work, I had the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote running... but couldn't pay very close attention to it.

And so... today's the day I get to channel my inner Mac Whore and talk about new happings at everyone's favorite fruit-named tech company. If the thought of that bores you, here's your chance to escape! But don't come back until the day after tomorrow, because that'll be Part Two.

   
OS X YOSEMITE

The successor to OS X Mavericks, OS X Yosemite, was presented by Craig Federighi, the Senior VP of Software Engineering at Apple...

Craig Federighi

The guy is incredibly charismatic and engaging... reaching to near Steve Jobsian heights with his presentation skills. He's also darn funny, injecting wit and humor into his speech at a breakneck pace.

The look of Yosemite is very much a continuation of iOS7. All aspects of the OS from the controls to the icons have been simplified, saturated, and flattened. In addition, transparency effects have been liberally sprinkled all over the interface elements. Which is something I'm not thrilled about because I find it unnecessarily distracting. Hopefully users will have the ability to disable the transparency like they currently can with the menu bar.

Federighi seemed especially proud of the new look for Yosemite's trashcan...

Craig Federighi Yosemite Trashcan

Personally, I don't give a shit what the trashcan looks like... I only care that it works. Which it currently does not in Mavericks. It will show as "empty" even when there's files inside. Hopefully somebody bothered to fix this incredibly basic and incomprehensibly ignored bug.

After talking trash, we moved on to the system font, which is no longer Lucida Grande. I don't know what the new typeface is called, but it's very pretty and easy to read. And as exciting as that improvement is, the next improvement is something I've been begging for... DARK MODE... where the menu bars and menus are darkened so they don't distract from what you're working on...

Craig Federighi DARK MODE

The window model for Yosemite continues to add functionality for title bars and devote more space to content, which is nice. Apple has also changed the way window controls work... with the green button now taking the window full-screen. Something I could get behind if they WOULD ONLY HAVE AN OPTION TO KEEP THE MENU BAR VISIBLE! I frickin' hate going full-screen because fighting the disappearing menu bar drives me insane. I need to be able to see my clock... my battery level... the date... all that important stuff that's so handy to have available... at a glance.

Notification Center is getting the ability to add widgets, which will finally make it useful to me.

Spotlight, Apple's search system for OS X, is getting an upgrade... and this time it looks more than just cosmetic. All I care about is that it's not a flaky pile of shit like the interface is now (How many times do you end up launching the unintended result? For me, it's practically daily). The addition of Sherlock-esque internet data for searching is a welcome throwback.

Next up, Apple puts the smack-down on DropBox by releasing an online storage option of their own called iCloud Drive. I don't know how it will be an improvement over DropBox, which makes cloud storage so drop-dead easy, but I'll definitely be taking a look.

Federighi then took a look at Yosemite's update for OS X Mail... currently the most-hated app I use every day. It is a buggy, slow, and overall shitty email client that looks downright embarrassing when compared to what Microsoft has going on with Outlook. He promises that they have worked very hard to make improvements with the basic functionality, which would be very nice. A new feature for Mail is "Mail Drop," which allows the seamless sending of files up to 5 gigs via iCloud Drive.

Safari is a world-class browser, but Apple's not resting on their laurels. They've added a number of new features for convenience, speed, and improved battery life... but the standout for me is being able to spawn separate windows for Private Browsing instead of it being an "all or nothing" game.

And then came the first surprise of the day... something Apple is calling "Continuity"... which works towards providing a seamless experience between MacOS X and iOS. The crowd erupted in applause when Federighi announced that FINALLY you can "Air Drop" between MacOS X and iOS. This omission has been categorically absurd and, if I had been in the audience, I would have been screaming "IT'S ABOUT FUCKING TIME!"...

Craig Federighi DARK MODE

But Apple didn't stop there, because next came a new feature called "Hand-Off." This nifty bit of tech means your Mac and your iPhone (or other iOS device) now has proximity awareness of each other. You can start composing an email on your Mac, then hand it off to your iPhone so you can keep composing as you walk out the door. Additional features, like being able to answer an incoming call from your iPhone on your Mac or use your Mac to make calls through your iPhone is dead-sexy. That Federighi demoed this by calling a "new employee" — Dr. Dre — was just the icing on the cake.

And there's where Apple wrapped up their look at just some of the new features that will be available with the new MacOS X.

The beta for Yosemite has been released to developers already. Non-developers can join the beta program later this Summer. Then everybody will be able to grab a free copy come Fall.

   
Tune in tomorrow when I unleash my commentary on Part Two of the keynote... with iOS 8.

   

Applesauce

Posted on May 9th, 2014

Dave!For the longest time I've been dismissive of those who say that Apple has gone downhill since Steve Jobs left us (praise be unto His name). As a Certified Apple Whore, I pretty much have to, right? And besides, as great as His Steveness was, Apple has always been more than just one man. Steve Jobs didn't do it all alone, and the people who helped to make Apple into such a remarkable company are still around. So, yeah, Apple isn't going to be the same... but it couldn't possibly be the horrific disaster that all the nay-sayers keep insisting: "APPLE IS OVER!" "APPLE CAN'T SURVIVE!" "POST-JOBS APPLE IS DOOMED!" What nonsense!

Except...

As time goes on and the user experience with Apple products degenerates to complete and total shit, my opinion has been changing.

Don't get me wrong... I firmly believe nobody is doing it better... but the detail-oriented Apple that made me commit my eternal servitude over the past decade simply doesn't exist any more.

Let's walk through an example, shall we?

  • I receive a coupon code for a new book from Apple's iBooks Store, so I open the iBooks app.
  • Immediately, I'm asked to enter my Apple ID password.
  • After entering my password, I click on iBooks Store.
  • I am asked to enter my Apple ID password again.
  • I get to the iBooks Store and click on the REDEEM link to enter my code.
  • I am asked to enter my Apple ID password for the third time.
  • I redeem my code and it starts to download, so I click back to my iBooks Library.
  • I tap the new book to read it and am asked to enter my Apple ID password for the fourth time.

I perfectly understand the need to prevent random people from walking up to my computer and charging a bunch of crap to my Apple ID. Really I do. But having to enter my password four times? What kind of sadistic fucking asshole made that happen? And how badly would Steve Jobs explode over what a shitty user experience that is? I'd rather just buy a physical book at Amazon with their One-Click shopping.

This problem goes much deeper than just inconveniencing customers to enter their password over and over and over and over again... it encourages people to pick simple, short, easy-to-remember, passwords. Which is pretty much the opposite of what you want, because those are the passwords that are easiest to crack. What you want is people using heinously complicated passwords that are very difficult to crack. But to get this to work, you have to make it so the password only has to be entered rarely. The password should be remembered by the system and auto-populate whenever you want to buy something. Of course you have to secure the system with a password... otherwise you're back to square one. But THAT is the kind of stuff Apple figures out so well. Like the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone, for example.

So where is it?

And since one example doesn't build a compelling case, here are a few more things off the top of my head that have been bugging the shit out of me with Apple's "User Experience"...

  • The bouncy self-hiding menu bar when you go into MacOS full-screen apps is laughably stupid. Give the user the option of having the menu bar visible at all times when in full-screen mode. Anything less is just fucking annoying as shit. Especially if you have a laptop and want to be able to see your battery level at a glance. Or you want to see what time it is. Or you just want to fucking get shit DONE without having to fight with the damn menu bar every five minutes. I mean, seriously, this is such a huge fucking FAIL that this alone leads me to believe that nobody in Apple's UI team actually USES Apple's shit.
  • Why can't I STREAM my video purchases to my iPad, or Mac computer? Why am I forced to download everything in order to watch it? How can it be that Apple is such a bad joke when it comes to content delivery? Hulu, Amazon, Google, and every other fucking video service on earth can stream their stuff, but Apple can't figure it out? They did it for Apple TV... why is this so hard? YOU HAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, APPLE, FIGURE THIS SHIT OUT!
  • Speaking of Apple TV, how embarrassing is it that Apple doesn't know how to make menus work efficiently? If I scroll all the way right, my next click should wrap to the left. If I scroll all the way to the bottom, my next click should wrap to the top. Otherwise, I'm having to press way too many clicks on the remote to do anything. How is it PlayStation and Xbox has this all handled, but Apple is still using menu technology stuck in the 1980's?
  • AirDrop.
  • Why does Apple work so hard to conceal purchases I make through iTunes? Over at Amazon, not only is it simple to look through my past orders... they're all searchable too! But with iTunes? Everything is coded into "batches" and nothing is searchable. On top of that, it's just such a bad experience. I have to go to my iTunes Store account settings to look up my purchase history? What sense does this make? This is fucking embarrassing. Even MORE embarrassing? You can't print out past purchases either (once you finally manage to find them, that is). Sure you can hit "print"... but you get blank pages? Amateur hour.
  • iTunes Match is clunky and slow, and Apple should want to look into this for anybody to take them seriously in the streaming music arena. I am sick and fucking tired of opening iTunes to listen to my music only to have iTunes sit there like a dumb shit while displaying "Getting iTunes Match Results from Apple" for ten damn minutes.
  • Since the dawn of time, when you want to use an old document to create a new one, you open the original document, then do a "SAVE AS..." to save it with a new name. Easy. But not with Apple. You have to use this weird "Duplicate" command with language so confusing that I never know what is actually happening. This is one area where Apple is over-thinking things in trying to make them easier... but fucked up horribly and actually made everything more difficult to use.
  • And why is drag-and-drop so fucking broken in the MacOS? Especially in full-screen app mode. 75% of the time I drag a picture out of mail so I can save it on my desktop, the operation fails. And that's just the beginning. Dragging shit anywhere in MacOS is never something you can count on... whether it's dragging into an application... or even within The Finder itself. Why is such basic functionality that people use every day never fixed?
  • Speaking of basic functionality... do you think Apple gives a shit how often my MacBook gets stuck in "right-click" mode for no fucking reason at all? And do they understand how the only thing that seems to fix it is to just keep randomly slapping the trackpad with multi-touch until the "right-click" comes un-stuck (or re-boot the whole damn machine?). Aren't they even a little mortified that such a massively huge and frustrating bug has been around for years and they just don't fucking care? Well, they should, because this is epic-level crap.
  • Speaking of broken, do you think Apple suffers any shame what-so-ever that their calendar app is such complete and total shit? So much so as to be practically useless? And I'm not just talking about some of the horrendously shitty UI changes they made in the advent of the disastrous design that permeates iOS7... I'm talking basic functionality and comprehensive display of information.
  • And speaking of iOS7... when did "style over substance" become a mantra at Apple? Buttons aren't buttons... text is hard to read... icons all blend together... Apple's overhaul of the iOS7 desperately needs an overhaul. Oh... and people over 30 buy Apple's shit. They should try to come up with an interface that acknowledges this for people with less than perfect eyesight.
  • And, before I forget... HOW THE FUCK DO YOU TELL WHEN THE SHIFT KEY IS PRESSED IN iOS7? I have been using the "new and unimproved" keyboard for over a year now and I still have trouble remembering. It's such an absurd problem that somebody even created a website to help people out. I ask myself almost daily... "Did Jonathan Ive really approved this stupid shit? Really?" This is Microsoft-level FAIL. Or it was. Many aspects of Windows Phone 8 kick the shit out of iPhone now. Of all the things on this list, this is the one fix I am most hoping to see come out of the upcoming Apple Developer Conference.
  • Now let's get to software... does anybody at Apple even give a shit about the software they develop anymore? If they do, nobody outside of Apple would know it. Has development of Aperture stopped and I should switch to LightRoom? Who the fuck knows! Every once in a while a update is released that fixes some bugs or adds some esoteric feature, but any significant updates for the software's main purpose... photo cataloging... hasn't happened in four years. I spent TEN HOURS trying to get an Aperture Vault copied to a new drive. Never worked. Never could figure out why. Never figured out how to get support to get it resolved. Why in the hell would anybody want to buy Apple-branded software when this is what you get? Secrecy is fine, but non-communication is paramount to abandonment.
  • And since when did REMOVING features in new software versions get to be policy? The latest versions of iMovie and Final Cut Pro stripped out so many features from their predecessors that I have no useable solution for video-editing from Apple. Hell, even burning a video to a DVD requires a fucking third-party application. Yeah, we get it, the future is digital. But, in the meanwhile, we need shit to work in the present.
  • Apple Mail... on any device... suck pretty bad. For something people use constantly, this baffles me. IMAP and Gmail support are completely screwed up in the MacOS app. The iOS app is even worse, because email goes missing at random. I'll see a piece of mail come in, click on it, only to have the mail vanish. Sending mail is equally bad because it will disappear without being delivered. Where did it go? What happened? Can I get it back? If it's not in "Sent Mail" and the recipient never got it, is it gone forever? It looks that way. Who knows? Oh… and do you know how many times I’ve gone to “undo” the deleting of an email only to find that “undo” is greyed-out in the menu and cannot be activated? Insanity.
  • Why does Apple even bother with having a data detector for FTP in MacOS when they only allow read-only connections? Why not let me choose to have an FTP session with a client that is actually useful? Because, seriously, I'd rather have NO data detector than to have a link that's difficult to cut and paste without accidentally opening up a half-baked FTP connection through MacOS.
  • Why is "list view" in MacOS X so mind-numbingly incompetent? The filename field never remembers the length I set it, and is always adjusting itself to be at least THREE TIMES the width of anything actually listed in it. This isn't just in the Finder, but everywhere a Cocoa app calls a list view (it really drives me crazy in Adobe apps, where the pallets are so small). So each time I have to widen the window enough to find the column mark, then re-size it down to a sane width. EVERY TIME!
  • iCloud syncing is awful. Yes, Apple finally... FINALLY... added the keychain syncing that they tossed out when .Mac died, but the underlaying architecture is still crap. If I set up all my Mail accounts on my desktop Mac then sync it to iCloud... shouldn't I be able to turn on iCloud syncing on my iPhone and have those accounts automatically populate? Well, that's the way it SHOULD work. But, guess, what? IT FUCKING DOESN'T! What the hell am I doing wrong? It's a button that goes on-and-off! How can I screw THAT up? And don't get me started with "Notes" where the syncing is haphazard at best. Can't tell you how many times I've pasted some critical information I need into notes on my Mac only to have it never sync with my iPhone. If you can't get that crap right, why bother at all?
  • Printing, in general, is an absolute mess. There have been many, many times when I can't even connect to a printer to get anything to print. Nope, you have to delete the printer and start all over again or re-boot ten times until MacOS finally realizes the network printer is available. Any time it takes you 20 minutes to print an email, you know that something is seriously wrong. Unless you're Apple, apparently.
  • And is it too much to ask to have a working trashcan in OS X? Half the time it appears empty when there's actually something in it.
  • And, lastly, Siri doesn't appear to be location-aware, which is about the stupidest thing ever. Google Maps in my frickin' desktop web browser even attempts to be location aware, but a PHONE doesn't? If a real-life "personal assistant" of mine tried to offer advice based on a location half-way around the world from me, I'd fire them.

Holy crap... and that was just the stuff off the top of my head. Had I put some actual thought into this list, it would be ten times as long, I'm sure.

And there's my problem with Apple. In the past, I would expect that insane shit ruining the Apple experience would eventually be fixed. Now? I honestly don't know. There's obviously people in charge of these problem areas. But is Tim Cook obsessing over making sure these people are getting things to work exceptionally well like Steve Jobs was? Or is he being distracted by shiny things to buy with Apple's massive bank account? Early after his take-over, I was willing to give him the benefit of doubt. But now? We're going on three years and I'm starting to worry.

I want... need... Apple to be insanely great.

Anything less isn't Apple.

   

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