Oct 312015

iPhone 6S PlusIn apple terms, the ‘S’ release every other years represents an updated version of the previous years phone.  This is the Tock to the regular phone’s Tick, or the Yang to the Ying, if you like.

What is perhaps more accurate is that the S release represents the definitive version of a chassis design, complete with bug fixes and feedback from significant numbers users. Continue reading “Apple’s Difficult ‘S’ Release…” »

 Posted by at 2:00 pm
Oct 142015

I grew up in a very small village, apart from weekly games of cricket, there was very little excitement available. Due in part to the lack of local entertainment, I immersed myself in comic books and science fiction novels from the local library.

Most of the comic books available were American imports, a local newsagent had a small selection for sale, but that selection would vary, so it was never really easy to follow multi-episode story arcs. I would perhaps get Superman issue 487, then the next one available might be 512.

One day I was looking at the import comic shelf and one caught my eye. Somehow the newsagent inadvertently stocked a run of Dick Tracy comics that covered a decent sized story arc. I will admit that I was more a fan of superheroes than a mortal detective. But the chance to follow a whole story, rather than disjointed episodes meant that I spent rather a lot of money on six precious Dick Tracy comic books.

Dick Tracy had several gadgets, but his most famous was his two-way radio (later video) watch.  Continue reading “Apple Watch – A longer term review” »

Feb 152015
2015-02-15 13.31.02

OnePlus One, Samsung Note III, iPhone 6

Over the years I have been tempted to jump to Android by their larger screens, the promise of more openness and the air of rebellion that Android has generally portrayed.

My Android phones however have almost never lived up to the hype. Sure the screens are bigger – this is important when you get older, sure there is a lot more flexibility there in terms of icon layout, launchers and widgets and there is Google Now, which is pretty cool.

But somehow I feel like I am a beta tester or worse for the majority of my Android experience.

Every single Android phone that I have owned, and the list is extensive, has been missing something compared to not just other Androids, but to iPhone. It seems that choosing Android means that you need to choose carefully because they are so varied.

The iPhone is the standard by which others are judged.  Continue reading “Apple vs Google (redux)” »

Nov 252014

A few weeks ago, Apple launched their new iPhone 6 and the XL iPhone 6 Plus.

The iPhone 6 is the one that interests me more than anything. I currently use a Samsung Note3, albeit one that long since jettisoned the original Samsungised version of Android that it is intended to use and one that now runs Cyanogenmod 11 (nightly).

I love and hate the size of the Note3, the screen is pretty good in all but bright sunlight and the lightly extended version of AOSP plus Google services adds up to a nice phone.

There are very few things about the Note3 that I dislike.

– The battery life is poor, I struggle to get through a busy day

– There are still vestiges of Samsung – the home button for example.

– The camera is really ‘not all that’ and when you run a third-party ROM you are giving up many things, NFC is a prime example of this.

So, why am I writing about the iPhone 6  ?

Because deep down I beleive that the Apple ecosystem is a better one than the Android / Google one.

Continue reading “I have a love-hate relationship with Apple and Android….” »

 Posted by at 7:27 am
Feb 272013

I am not sure when paying over $200 / month for cable TV, Phone and Internet became normal, but apparently this is pretty much what ‘everybody’ pays.

Decently fast internet is $65, the rest of the bill is consumed via Phone, TV and numerous little add-ons. Having a DVR costs over $20 / month, the actual DVR rental is $9.99, then you need the service too – which adds another $10, plus taxes and regulatory fees. Oh and HD programming costs a few dollars too, and so does basic cable and many other things. Log story short, cable TV with a DVR costs about $115 / month.

Luckily there is an alternative.

Almost 100 channels are available for free. All you need is an antenna and a TV that is capable of receiving digital (ATSC) signals.

The major issues though is that I simply do not watch TV live, I record a few shows each week and watch later.In other words, I need a DVR.

So, my journey started wwith finding an open-source DVR that I could use to record Hawaii-Five-O and Elementary to a format that I could playback on my WD TV Live or my jailbroken AppleTv.

Continue reading “So, you want to cut your cable bill…..” »

May 212012

I feel like I am an old man just typing this post.

A DEC VT220-A Terminal last Tuesday

But I am rapidly coming to terms with a new role in the technological world. That roles is as an ‘educated older man, to build solutions, not for the upcoming generations, but for my generation and one either side…’.  That does not fit on a business card though….

The current generation of computer users barely actually use computers. They all use cell phones and tablets, not those archaic boxes that we (my generation) call computers.

They do not have any idea about ‘running’ a program, they simply use an app.

They do not save data locally either, everything is expected to be available regardless of which device they use. Nobody keeps a diary, that is what Facebook and twitter is for. You do not e-mail your friend a photo, you either MMS it to a single recipient or you post it on Twitter or Facebook or you pin it or you instagram it.

Memories are now transient – the only inkling that you existed a few years ago is that you posted a photo on Facebook or maybe a video on YouTube.

Sales of actual physical photo albums are limited to the over-40’s set or maybe even older. Continue reading “The not-so hyper connected generation(s)” »

 Posted by at 3:00 pm  Tagged with:
Apr 192012

I currently use an iPhone.

It is an iPhone 4, not the latest, greatest 4s, but an older model. However the one wonderful feature is t at it runs the absolute latest version of iOS. This may not seem important to anyone. But to me it is nice because it means that even though the hardware is older, the feature set and bug fixes are mostly all present. True, I do not have Siri, but the OS is up to date and all bug fixes are present.

Compare that to Android.

My previous Android phone was a Samsung Infuse 4G. When I got it it was running Android 2.2, which at the time was already outdated, with 2.3 (Gingerbread) already available. As far as I am aware, there was never an official 2.3 upgrade available. I took the ‘aftermarket ROM’ route in frustration and as such I gained many bug fixes, a performance and battery life upgrade and a much nicer phone.

At the end of last year Samsung announced that it would never see an official 4.0 release. So I gave up with it. It was a very nice piece of hardware, but the OS support was terrible. I sold it…

So I purchased a lightly used iPhone 4, which has the latest updates

Meanwhile I have a Samsung Galaxy TAB 10.1.

This runs the ‘Honeycomb’ release of Android. Since I got it about a year ago it has received exactly one update. 4.0 (ICS) has been promised for a considerable time, but once more it has not yet arrived.

As a habitual early adopter I now realize that Samsung devices are not for me…..

Feb 012012

I have been an AT&T customer for quite a few years and I have rarely had a bad word to say about them. I have rarely experienced anything other than pretty good service from them. Their prices have never seemed too bad for our needs either. We have a grandfathered ‘unlimited’ data plan as well as a couple of tablet plans. I get a decent corporate discount too. I often read about the ‘evil empire’ and their terrible service, but apart from a couple of local ‘low signal’ spots I rarely have a phone that does not work.

Virtually without fail AT&T have managed to resolve my issues, usually first time too.

I therefore often do not understand the hate that seems to be directed to them.

Last night Dom came over, in need of a loaner phone. He is on T-Mobile and he is not due for an upgrade until March. He is also a Blackberry user and for reasons that are probably more related to RIM’s declining quality, they barely last ‘five minutes’. It seems that he is constantly complaining that his phone is broken. Last night his Phone was showing a serious screen issue, only the left hand ¼ of the screen was showing anything other than something that looked like TV noise. I tried the usual BB things, swear at it, pulling the battery, slamming it against the wall and threatening it with violence – none of this worked.

Continue reading “Thank you AT&T” »

 Posted by at 6:00 am
Jan 252012

Your business model is broken and trying to fix it by hounding those that share content is probably not the best way to fix it.

 Let me explain.

A number of major studios have thrown their money behind a new digital content distribution system called ‘UltraViolet’, that in theory at least, allows you to rent or purchase a movie and watch it on multiple devices.

On the surface this is great.  Really, truly this is a great thing. Rather than rent a DVD or BluRay from Netflix, Blockbuster or RedBox for a couple of dollars, you can rent one directly from the studio; and you can watch the movie on any device.

Except an iPad, iPhone, Android Phone, Android Tablet, or a non-smart TV or connected device that does not support UltraViolet.

Oh and you need a fast internet connection too.

All of these are minor issues though and nothing a small investment in hardware or bandwidth cannot solve. Assuming of course the movies are available fairly quickly after they leave the cinema and that they are relatively inexpensive to rent/buy.

Sadly neither is true, a ‘High Definition’ movie is $19.99 and an ‘SD’ movie is $12.99 and the current plan appears to be to release the movies at the same time as the DVD/Blu-Ray.  Generally I can get most DVDs shipped to my door from amazon.com for about $10 or I can pay less than $20 for a BluRay, again, shipped to my door. Often Amazon will sell off movies a few months after release for $5 – $8 and there are many BluRays available for less then $10.

For example, one of the sixty movies that Paramount are launching with is ‘Rango’, their SD price is $12.99, the HD price is $19.99

  • I can rent the DVD from Redbox for $1.29 or $3.99 will get me the BluRay from Blockbuster.
  • I can buy the DVD that comes with a free digital copy that I can play on my tablet for $12.49
  • I can buy the BluRay/DVD/Digital Copy combo for $19.49
  • I can buy it on iTunes for $19.99 (HD)
  • I can watch it on Cinemax as a part of my $9.99 add-on to my basic cable subscription
  • I can buy it on Amazon Video On-Demand for $14.99 (HD Version)
  • It will be on Basic cable soon, so I can wait.
  • It is on torrentsRus with 10 million seeders for freeez !!!!1111oneoneeleven

In other words, UltraViolet, for this example movie is actually the most expensive (along with iTunes) and easily the least convenient.

Continue reading “Dear Hollywood” »

Oct 042011

Forget the iPhone 4s that was announced today.

It is not not really that relevant.

The new 4s is an incremental upgrade that sticks rigidly to the Apple design briefs, Launch a product, refine it then redefine it. The iPhone 5 will be the redefinition, the 4s is the 3g or the 3gs for the current cycle.

The new iPod touch in white is nice, the new 64GB capacity is nice, but for $399 I will pass for a while.

There was nothing in that product launch that stood out as ‘new’. The one thing that did stand out for me is that Apple is continuing the battle for the living room. Allowing you to pair your phone with an AppleTV and effectively play a movie or other content on a big screen.

Continue reading “Applebook vs Amoogle vs Netflix ?” »