Archive for the 'Apple' Category

Why I’m thinking of saving up for an iPhone 5s

[link] Saturday, September 28th, 2013

iPhone 5s Slow Motion Video – 120 fps from Rishi Kaneria on Vimeo.

Why having a passcode might not protect your iPhone 5s from unauthorised use

[link] Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Well, well. Alongside the discovery that the iPhone 5s fingerprint system isn’t quite as secure as advertised comes this.

If you have an iPhone 5 or older and have updated your operating system to Apple’s new iOS 7 version, you should be aware that the password (or “passcode”) required on your phone’s lock screen no longer prevents strangers from accessing your phone.

They can use Siri, the voice-command software, to bypass the password screen and access your phone, instead.

The good news is that distressed iPhone 5S owners can apparently foil this workaround by controlling access to Siri in the phone’s settings menu. The trail is: Settings –> General –> Passcode Lock [enter passcode] –> Allow access when locked > Siri > switch from green to white.

If Big Data is “the new oil” then we’re the wells

[link] Sunday, September 1st, 2013

This morning’s Observer column.

Should you be looking for an example of hucksterish cynicism, then the mantra that “data is the new oil” is as good as they come. Although its first recorded utterance goes as far back as 2006, in recent times it has achieved the status of an approved corporate cliche, though nowadays “data” is generally qualified by the adjective “big”. And if you want a measure of how deeply the cliche has penetrated the collective unconscious, ponder this: a Google search for “big data” turns up more than 1.5bn results. And a search for “data mining” turns up 167m results.

The idea of big data as a metaphor for oil is seductive. It’s also revealing in interesting ways. Given that the oil business is one of the biggest industries in the history of the world, for example, the metaphor hints at untold future riches. But it conveniently skates over the fact that oil wealth overwhelmingly benefits either ruling elites in corrupt and/or authoritarian countries, or huge corporations in democratic states.

But at least oil is a physical, non-renewable resource that is extracted from the earth. Big data, on the other hand, is extracted from the activities of people and machines…

Google’s choice: between a rock and a very hard place

[link] Sunday, June 9th, 2013

My Observer Comment piece about the dilemma facing Google and the other Internet giants: do they co-operate with the National Security State? Or look after their users’ (and their own commercial) interests?

The revelations of the past week explain why Schmidt was so preoccupied with the power of the state – especially of the national security state, which is what our democracies are morphing into. The apparent contradictions between, on the one hand, Google’s vehement insistence that it has “not joined any programme that would give the US government – or any other government – direct access to our servers” and, on the other, the assertions to the contrary in the leaked National Security Agency slide-deck that demonstrate the extent to which Google (and the other internet companies) are caught between a rock and a very hard place.

The rock is that the national security state, as embodied in the National Security Agency, GCHQ and kindred agencies, shows no sign of withering away. Au contraire. In the end, companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple will be compelled to obey the state’s orders. If they don’t, their executives will find themselves sharing jail cells with the likes of Bradley Manning.

The hard place is corporate terror that their users will become alienated by the realisation that personal communications cannot be safely entrusted to internet companies based in the US. Crunch time has arrived for Google & co, in other words. I look forward to the second, revised, edition of Schmidt’s book.

Paper(less) aeroplanes

[link] Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Well, well. The US Air force is buying 18,000 32G wifi-only iPads and expects to save $50M as a result.

Using lightweight iPads instead of heavy paper flight manuals will amount to $750,000 annual savings on fuel alone, a spokesman for the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command said in an interview with James Rogers of The Street. And the AMC will no longer have to print those flight manuals either, which will save a whopping $5 million per year.

Major Brian Moritz, manager of the AMC’s electronic flight bag program, said the Air Force expects Apple’s iPad to help save $5.7 million per year, which would result in savings “well over $50 million” over the next 10 years.

“We’re saving about 90 pounds of paper per aircraft and limiting the need for each crew member to carry a 30 to 40 pound paper file,” Moritz said. “It adds up to quite a lot of weight in paper.”

Rogers was embedded recently with the U.S. Air Force and got to see Apple’s iPad in action. He revealed that the switch from paper manuals to the iPad could cut up to 490 pounds in weight from a C-5 aircraft.

They’ll never work on Ryanair flights, though. The pilots would have to turn their iPad manuals off for take-off and landing, and so wouldn’t have a clue which levers to pull.

Al Baba

[link] Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Well, isn’t this interesting. Turns out that Al Gore is quite well off. Almost as wealthy as Mitt Romney, it seems, according to this Bloomberg report.

In 1999, Al Gore, then U.S. vice president and a Democratic candidate for president, sold $6,000 worth of cows.

The former senator, who spent most of his working life in Congress, had a net worth of about $1.7 million and assets that included pasture rents from a family farm and royalties from a zinc mine, remnants of his rural roots in Carthage, Tennessee. Funds from the cattle sale went to three of his kids, according to federal disclosure forms filed as part of his presidential run.

Fourteen years later, he made an estimated $100 million in a single month. In January, the Current TV network, which he helped to start in 2004, was sold to Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Satellite Network for about $500 million. After debt, he grossed an estimated $70 million for his 20 percent stake, according to people familiar with the transaction.

Two weeks later, Gore exercised options, at $7.48 a share, on 59,000 shares of Apple Inc. stock that he’d been granted for serving on the Cupertino, California-based company’s board since 2003. On paper, it was about a $30 million payday based on the company’s share price on the day he claimed the options.

That’s a pretty good January for a guy who couldn’t yet call himself a multimillionaire when he briefly slipped from public life after his bitterly contested presidential election loss to George W. Bush in late 2000, based on 1999 and 2000 disclosure forms.

And he’s still got another 50,000 Apple shares to go. Seems like Forrest Gump isn’t the only innocent to profit from Steve Jobs’s largesse.

The PC: the new sunset industry

[link] Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

IDC says PC sales fell 14 percent in the first quarter on a year-over-year basis. That’s worse than its forecast of a 7.7 percent drop.

This is the worst quarter for PC industry since 1994 when IDC started tracking sales. So, that pretty much makes it the worst quarter in history.

IDC blames Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system for alienating consumers. The new tile-based interface is too weird for consumers, says IDC.

Instead of buying new laptops or desktops, people are buying tablets and smartphones which serve as good-enough alternatives.

Source

The Chatwin syndrome

[link] Sunday, March 31st, 2013

This morning’s Observer column:

Bruce Chatwin has a lot to answer for. Specifically, he’s responsible for a forthcoming initial public offering (IPO) on the Italian stock market. It all goes back to something he wrote in his book The Songlines. He had arrived in Australia and was setting up a work space in a caravan. “With the obsessive neatness that goes with the beginning of a project,” he wrote, “I made three neat stacks of my ‘Paris’ notebooks. In France, these notebooks are known as carnets moleskines: ‘moleskine’, in this case, being its black oilcloth binding. Each time I went to Paris, I would buy a fresh supply from a papeterie in the Rue de l’Ancienne-Comédie.”

Chatwin goes on to relate how the notebooks were made by a small firm in Tours, the owner of which had died and whose heirs had sold the business. So he assumed that the source of his beloved notebooks had dried up. What he didn’t know was that the business had been bought by a Milanese stationer who eventually began producing the notebooks again. And what he could not have known was that the business would one day be floated on the stock market (3 April, to be precise). The IPO could value the company at up to €560m (£473m)…

The night Steve Jobs came home

[link] Friday, March 29th, 2013


Steve Jobs & Satjiv Chahil, Apple Town Hall – 12 20 96, originally uploaded by Tim Holmes.

Astonishing set on Flickr by Tim Holmes, who was working in Apple on December 20 1996, the night that the Apple Board, in desperation, welcomed Steve jobs back to the fold. Tim grabbed an Apple QuickTake digital camera and went to the ‘town hall’ meeting that had been hastily called. He got some memorable, atmospheric shots — but also in the process collected evidence of how poor the camera was, technically speaking. Those purple jackets, for example, were actually black. Jobs cancelled the camera project shortly after taking over.

There’s an app for that — only $999.99

[link] Monday, March 11th, 2013

I’d always assumed that the price of apps in the Apple App Store ranged between free at the low end and $39.99 at the expensive end. But no — there’s an interesting ecosystem at the stratospheric level, as this piece in the WSJ reveals.