Through the Illusion of the Apple distortion field

iCow Syncing

You got to hand it to Apple, they always have the press eating out their own bowl. You only have to look at the latest apple announcement for the apple watch.  This use to be termed the Steve Jobs distortion field then when Steve died, there was a fear that Apple may not be able to keep things up without their leader.

However this turned out to be not true (to a degree).

How does Apple manipulate the media and press has been a question which many have asked, and very have been brave enough to come forward and explain how. Those who do tend to get put on the blacklist and starved…

Apple can already tell what a review is going to say from [a publication’s] pre-coverage, and they’re not going to give you a review unit if you’re not going to play ball.” In other words, Apple feeds the writers who will do its bidding, and starves the ones who won’t follow its messaging.

One such brave people is Mark Gurman from 9to5mac. Who wrote a super detailed look at the distortion and absolute manipulation Apple roll across the media. 9 indepth pages of stuff everybody kind of guessed or knew but dare not write about? Don’t expect to see Mark at any Apple press events for the next 10 years at least.

Revolutionising your desktop one step at a time

Desktop Agosto 2011

Recently I’ve had the joy of taking the tram into work everyday. I keep meaning to buy a monthly pass but having to get a photocard done at the GMPTE (greater manchester transport, like TFL is to London) but forget. Anyway some people may have noticed I’m tweeting a lot of links and passages from my Kindle. This only works due to the wifi hotspot on my rooted HTC desire, because of course the Trams don’t have wifi but have the advantage of being above ground and crossing Manchester City centre.

One of the posts I read via Linux Magazine was about the design choices going into the next generation desktops.

The post talks about the outrage by different communities involved with the next generation of desktops.

This is something I feel very strongly about because of my disdain of Ubuntu’s unity desktop. I understand some of the reasons which make it opinionated software but it doesn’t mean I have to like it 🙂 So I switched to using the very much beta Gnome3 desktop which is a breath of fresh air but also has problems (even on my new thinkpad x220).

At work I tend to switch between the two because I’m driving a 24″ full HD display along side my laptop screen, so keep logging in and out for reasons I’ll explain another day.

In the post, it talks about how Gnome3, Ubuntu Unity and KDE4 have had problems because they all have made some difficult changes. But to be honest this is consistent with Microsoft Windows 8’s move into Metro and OSX’s move into a more iOS type platform. All are tricky and full of people upset and confused.

To be honest they could all learn from the points of the post…

  • Don’t change too much too quickly
  • Build user testing into each stage of the development
  • Whenever possible, leave legacy features in place
  • Don’t impose work-flows from above
  • Beware of designer fads
  • Don’t view function and aesthetics as separate
  • If a design is too noticeable, then maybe it’s too clever to use
  • Talk to your readers as you work
There all valid and good points. I’m sure most of the linux desktops are doing most of these. Interesting point however is the tension between
opinionated software and the last point talking to the users of your work. Being too proud or too precious will ultimately put you in a worst position overall in my book, but I’m sure others would totally disagree…?

Retweet error or something more sinister?

Retweet error
Dave mee from Madlab Manchester tried to retweet a message about geeks talks sexy the other day but couldn’t because his iphone4 wouldn’t let him. No idea why, does anyone else know?

The picture was from the official iPhone twitter app – ironically (as Dave puts it), the only two accounts who have thrown this error up have been myself and Loz Kaye’s. Two people pushing for open platforms and transparency… Both accounts are listed as unretweetable?

The end of optical media? Goodbye Blu-ray…

Ben metcalfe has a blog post about Apple’s move to remove all optical drives from there new range of laptops.

You can install an operating system from any external drive – it doesn’t have to be a DVD, it can be a USB disk, external hard drive or even an SD card. But you do need some kind of external disk, in case you can’t boot into the laptop, leaving the OS as the only piece of software that needs to be delivered via physical medium.

You can already download iLife and iWorks via the internet and license them online. And with the announcement of the App Store for Mac, Apple is clearly signaling the end of physical distribution of software.

Tell the truth although I quite like the idea of optical drives, I’ve lived without them for years. I had a Toshiba tablet PC back when I was in university/college and it had no optical drive but lots of flash media slots. I guess now the Mac supports SD its a lot easier to imagine the ability to remove optical drives.

So in one mind, I’m thinking great but something also comes to mind, and ben’s on the money with this.

Finally, if you subscribe to the Steve Jobs way of consuming media, the CD and DVD also dead there too. All the music, tv and films you could ever want are available for download via iTunes – be it to your Mac, iPhone or AppleTV.

Even if you consume your media independently, the Amazon MP3 store, music-on-demand services such Pandora and the continued widespread use of p2p all support the end of the physical distribution of media. NetFlix (probably anticipating this) are about to release a streaming-only service very soon too.

If you subscribe to the Steve Jobs way of thinking. Well I don’t but I’m interesting in the battle between online media and optical drives. Steve Jobs has always seemed to hate Blu-ray and I’m wondering if this strategy will shift to the desktop machines too? I’m sure control over all entertainment media is in Steve Jobs master plan somewhere?

Macmini, the perfect media centre for my living room?


It was odd, I usually find my views are usually much closer aligned with Doc Searls than Steve Gillmor. But during a short time period while this weeks Gillmor Gang, Dan Farber, Doc Searls, Mike Arrington and Dana Gardner start chatting about the Apple Minimac announcment earlier in the week. Well Doc and others were saying it was no good as a home entertainment box because it had no Tuner input, while Steve was saying screw that its got a network port what more do you need?

And you know what Steve is right on this one. IP delivery is where its at. Yes it nice to have a digital TV tuner card but that whole PVR time shifting thing is over rated in my view. (Saying that, if Bit torrent was to go away tomorrow I would run out and buy a Twin Tuner Freeview PVR straight away). I keep hearing about the huge leap from scheduled programming to time shifted, and it is. But its also equally a huge jump from time shifted to on demand. This is not new ground, many people are exploring the world of on demand already. For example I was out at Wiki Wednesday today and missed the UK Apprentice, but it does not matter because by the time I wake up tomorrow, it will be downloading without using any of my attention. And even if i wait a week or even a month I could still get that same episode somehow without too much searching. Thats on demand. No actually that's the 3rd era of so called broadcasting.

Anyhow back to the Mac, Front row's new features are no match for Xbox media centre but I'm sure they will get better over time. If not there always other options like the Xbox 360 (if you can get your hands one), Playstation 3 (if it comes out before 2007) or even a nice shuttle PC.

Lets have deeper look at what makes the Macmini a nice machine for my living room. Well first its now got a Intel Core Duo which means it should handle 1080i HDTV with AC3 surround sound without too much problem. Like I said although Front row is no Xbox Media Centre and a long way off Windows Media Centre. Its looks pretty good for that living room remote control domain. I really need to go into a Apple store and try it out sometime soon as its kind of hard to tell just from pictures. Optical out should mean 5.1 surround sound isn't that far off. Its got a DVI output and does not seem to contain that DRM standard HCDP which means we won't get that scary Windows Vista thing where it will switch off the video unless you have the licence. I don't believe the Xbox 360 has this, but its hard to tell till its been hacked.

However there are lots of disadvantages to using a Mac. The DVD drives tend to be region locked which will make my old DVD's from America a pain to play on this machine. The remote is simple but thats the problem, its too simplic. I'm use to doing things like queuing up a selection of podcasts and videos then let it run through-out the day, it doesn't seem like you can do that from that remote? On the sound front, the Mac does not have a dolby digital chip like the xboxes, so I'll have to say goodbye to the upscaling of Dolby Surround to Dolby Digital.

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Live blogging the mac world announcements

So i'm on the phone with a friend of mine whos sitting at the BBC White City Press launch. I'm able to live blog what I hear. If my blog gets traffic swamped go check out Engadget. Halfway through his phoned died, but I was able to switch to another firend using Skype.

Steve jobs is on about the Apple store and how many people are going in to the stores
Now the ipod sells. 14million ipods sold last year. 42million ipods sold in total. 850million songs sold in total.
TV shows. 8million sold since launch.
New ipod accessory, FM Tuner with remote control for 49dollars
Yuk! Dodge Jeep integration of the ipod
New ipod adverts, something to do with Jazz?

On to the mac, some info about Aperture
Demo of Aperture
Oh Widgets and Dashboard now – 1500 widgets to date
New Apple widgets (like yahoo i guess) for mac OS X 10.4.4.
Google widget, calendars, etc
iLife 2006 now
Music, movies, blogs, podcasts, photos all part of ilife now
Things are much tighter now, so you can make birthday cards, calendars, podcasts and share it all with the net (.mac account)
People can now subscribe to your password protected .mac feed which contains images, podcasts, blog entries
Demo of iPhoto, lots of photoshop recipes type one clicks
Apple invents photocasting? Sounds like a Flickr photostream but using the .mac account (just a RSS feed with photos attached)
iMovieHD demo
New things Themes, real time effects and more audio editing tools
iDVD now takes advantage of Widescreen now
It also supports 3rd party DVD burners which gets a cheer
Garageband. Complete podcasting studio built in now
You can use iChatAV for remote interviews like how podcasts use Skype right now
Demo of Garageband with podcast studio
Steve cracking some jokes while recording his own podcast
Demo finish and Steve plays the funny podcast
Steve jobs changes his tone a little, so he can launch iweb which is a way to share photos, music, movies, blogs and media in one place easily.
Some kind of media browser which allows you to share all the above and view all the above? All done with RSS. (I wonder if were going to get the messy itunes type extensions problem again)
Demo of iWeb, which any browser can view
Lots of Ajax magic
Back to ilife 2006 now, cost the same 79 dollars but now with more apps
Moving on to the .mac account, 1million subscribers
New product iWork, which is like the office suite
Ah at long last, he's talking about Mac computers
Asks how were doing with the new Intel chips, someone walks on (from Intel I guess)
Jobs says Apple are ready. Intel say there ready
Huge cheer
… Yep its here, iMac with iSight and Front row software all running on a Intel chip
Same price too, comes in 17inch and 20inch versions
The chip is a Dual core Intel Pentium
All ilife 2006 and iWork packages running natively on the Intel chips and were demoed on the same machine
Final cut pro, etc will be launched in intel native this march, theres some talk about trading it in too
Quark Express has a native beta available to download
Jobs talks to someone at Microsoft about Office running on Rosetta and how they will develop native versions for the mac
All updates will be available online in March, there is also a commitment to the office mac for at least 5 years
Demo of Office on Rosetta now
Now Photoshop on Rosetta
Talking about Safari now
Other products will change through out the year
Showing a new intel chip advert
Intel pentium in a Powerbook! called a Macbook pro?
Uses the same dual core chips, meant to be 4-5x faster than current powerbooks.
Comes with 15.4inch LCD, iSight and quite thin size
Demo of the Macbook pro
Comes with a IR remote, some magnetic power supply (sounds like a gimick)
Ok price is 1999 dollars for a 1.67gz dual core with iSight and Front row.
Theres a 1.8gz at 2499 dollars too
Intel advert again
Tons of cheers and clapping
Some thanking, Intel, Woz, Jobs and people behind the webcast

All the details are now on the Apple website

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Video ipod is official, but is this it?

Video Ipod

I'm following the coverage from Engadget, Gizmodo and believe it or not Stuffmag

The new iPod, as speculated, features video capabilities and the wider display, but it�s still a music-first device.

The device will feature a 2.5-inch display, QVGA resolution (320 x 240), and will MPEG-4 h.264 (natch), and presumably Quicktime.

The new iPod will be 30% thinner than the current 20GB iPod (making it 0.44-inches thick�say wha?), and will feature a 60GB version and editions of both in black. The 20GB should go for $299, and the 60GB for $399. They�ll be shipping next week.

I'm not sure this is the actual video ipod, more a inbetween ipod.

New news just coming in…

You'll be able to buy TV shows from the iTunes Music Store – Desperate Housewives, Lost and more shows from ABC and Disney. Five shows will be available to watch on iPod or computer: Lost, Desperate Housewives, Nightstalker, The Suite Life and some other Disney thang. $1.99 an episode.

So its over, the apple index page has been updated and world now has a Video ipod to play with, we already knew about iTunes 6 before.

Here's the complete list

  • iMac: faster, larger disk, built in iSight. Includes FrontRow (app)
  • iPod: 30GB/60GB with Video – realtime decoding of MPEG4 and H.264. 260,000 colors. Video out, perfect for the car?
  • FrontRow and PhotoBooth Apps.
  • 30GB iPod: $299 – 31% thinner than current 20GB; – 60GB iPod: $399.
  • New video iPods avail next week.
  • New TV adverts for video ipods
  • iMac: $1299 for 17″ model with 1.5GHz, $1799 for 20″ model with 2.1GHz
  • iTunes 6 to be released with video support, You will be able to buy TV shows from iTunes Music Store. $1.99 per episode. ABC on board /images/emoticons/laugh.gifesperate Housewives, Lost)
  • Front Row – comes with new iMacs. Lets you enjoy video/music/pictures from sofa. Everything still displayed on iMac screen. iPod-like remote. 6 button remote.
  • Photobooth – appears to be slide show application.
  • Music Videos. 2000 available to buy. $1.99 each.
  • Can “gift” music to other people. Peer reviews and recommendation service.
  • Videos have Digital Rights Management built in. Can play on up to 5 computers.

Ok wheres the HD laptops and Video enabled airport express? (airport express video anyone?). Engadget has the first lot of real screen shots of the new vido ipod including the black version. Also wheres the UK video store? I'm sure the BBC could have a role to play in that, its fits with our licencing and its a little more flexable than the imp right now.

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