An iPod Touch I’d Buy

Lumina CM1The new Panasonic Lumina CM1 is a very intriguing product. I don’t think it’s the first hybrid Android phone. It does seems one of the most mature. It’s a camera first and a phone second. Honestly I wouldn’t want this as a phone. I’d much rather tether it to a phone. I don’t need yet an other data plan eating away at my wallet.

I can honestly imagine Apple making a new iPod Touch like this with a big lens. I think I’d buy something like that much quicker than I’d buy an Apple watch with nebulous utility. Whether Apple would ever do that is an other question. They’ve given no indication but I think many people would love it if they pushed into the camera space with real lenses.

On the U2 Kefuffle

There’s been a lot of rather silly discussion of Apple’s U2 promotion with people getting unwanted U2 in iTunes. I could understand the uproar were it something patently offensive to many people such as highly misogynist, sexual, racist or violent lyrics. It’s harder to understand when it’s simply some unwanted U2.

All that said the real issue isn’t just the U2 album but how it’s basically impossible to delete “purchased” items from the cloud. I can’t help but imagine that if the album was easy to delete the uproar wouldn’t have occurred. At a minimum the backlash would have been attenuated. I bet Apple won’t see this as a general problem but just a problem with this album. It’s not.

I’ve “bought” quite a few free books for my kids from iBooks. Most were horrible and I’d love to delete most them so they don’t show up. But there’s no way to do it. So far as I know this is true for purchased videos and music as well. 

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Initial Apple Presentation Thoughts

Not a lot to say. Other than the very well thought out UI for the watch, everything was about like rumors said way back in the early spring. Sadly this was the first announcement of this sort since the initial iPhone announcement where I felt extremely underwhelmed. There’d been times when, like a Christmas morning expecting one particular toy, I was disappointed.1 But I’d never felt underwhelmed before. I want to be careful. I didn’t think the iPad would be the hit it was. So take it with a grain of salt.

I just can’t quite figure out how many people would want the watch. I didn’t see that Apple made a compelling need case for it. Say what you will about Jobs. But he always had a killer function — even for the iPad. Exercise seems to be the attempt for the watch, but even that isn’t that compelling given the limits of the watch itself.

As for the phones. Only a 20% speed increase. No RAM increase. And no new compelling features at all beyond size. For many of us larger, despite the Anrdroid market, is a big step backwards. I hope that in the future they move to keeping the 4” form factor as the low end but put the latest chip inside. Because the 4.7” (the smallest) is just too big for my use. I remember the days when having a small phone was a plus.

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  1. Yes I’m talking AppleTV app store and interapp communication. Although we got most of that with iOS8 finally.

Some more Thoughts on ADN & DropBox

For most people ADN is yesterday’s news. It’s considered as dead as the dodo. However there’s actually still a pretty good community going on there. As people have noted the signal to noise ratio has gone up quite a bit. Unfortunately the people who run ADN don’t seem to share the hope that some of the continuing users have. Which makes it a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I know a few people with innovative clients there aren’t finishing because it doesn’t seem worth the effort. 

The best hope for ADN is for some other company like DropBox to make a competitor that uses ADN’s excellent APIs. Even the critics of ADN and its management always acknowledged that in terms of actual engineering it was an amazingly well designed system.

Personally I think it’d make an excellent match with DropBox. They are finding themselves squeezed by Google, Microsoft and Apple who all now have cloud drives now. DropBox’s one hope of differentiating themselves is to offer more services. Right now they have a lot of inertia because few indie developers really support Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive well. Apple’s iOS8 version of iCloud finally gets a DropBox like service and Apple’s been pushing numerous additional services. However Apple doesn’t have open APIs. Basically to use Apple’s services you have to have an app in the App Store. If you are doing Android or in most cases a web client you’re out of luck. Since DropBox was first, most apps support DropBox. For instance 1Password supports DropBox and iCloud but has no offering for OneDrive or GoogleDrive. This is hardly unique.

One of the great things about ADN that perhaps wasn’t as well marketed was the timeline as a service. This let people create private chat systems or private chat. You could also use it as a way of displaying images in a very easy timeline fashion. It seems the sort of thing that DropBox should want to offer to developers. Plus, given the prominence of DropBox as a company, there would be far less fear by developers in using it.

Will they? I see no evidence of it. Which is sad. As I said there was a lot done by ADN that was extremely innovative. By the end it had the feel of a classic forum 

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TextExpander Keyboard for iOS

TextExpander is coming out with a custom keyboard for iOS. TextExpander has always been crippled on iOS. Apps had to use clunky url exchanges to use it and typically only the indie developers bothered. This new keyboard, if it works well, should make a lot of TextExpanders happy. I use Keyboard Maestro on the Mac rather than TextExpander since I tend to use meta key macros more than expansions. I’ve not decided if this would make me consider TextExpander on iOS. If only because I just don’t do extended typing on iOS.1

The keyboard I’m most looking forward to myself is SwipeSelection. Apple even changed the keyboard API to make keyboards like SwipeSelection possible in iOS8.2 If TextExpander including sensical cursor movement in their keyboard ala SwipeSelection I’d probably get it immediately. Although it should be a selectable option. I actually found on my iPad I’d frequently turn SwipeSelection off. The way I rested my palm tended to accidentally move the cursor at times. (Ideally SwipeSelection would have a way to avoid this issue)

The keyboard market of iOS8 is apt to be initially quite crowded. While TextExpander is the established player a similar system apparently is Quickboard.

  1. Yes I know the value of expansion in Messages but again I tend not to message much on my phone.
  2. With beta 3 of iOS8.

Appigo ToDo

ToDoI saw a review of Appigo ToDo in my feed and thought I’d throw in a mention myself. I really should give some short reviews of my favorite and most used apps. I know I will often buy an app just on the recommendation of people I respect like say Dr. Drang or MacDrifter.1 I’m not saying you should buy what I use, but perhaps some might like to know what I use.

Appigo ToDo is definitely one of my most used apps. I’ve never read any of the main GTD books but the general ideas seem fairly easy to grasp. Appigo has that nice ability to move from simple to complex without demanding a lot of structure the way some GTD apps do.

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  1. I don’t always end up agreeing with them, but I trust them enough to try the software out.

Daylite and Google Fiber

Someone on Twitter asked me for help getting Daylite’s server to work with Google Fiber. Google’s router is a bit tricky and it was hard to explain in 140 characters so here’s a longer explanation. Hopefully others can use the information as well.

As I mentioned in my initial review1 you can use a dynamic ip address to access your server from anywhere on an other Mac or on your iPhone or iPad. I personally use No IP but there are lots of others out there. Needless to say this is rather nice when on the road and you have to call contacts. However for it to work you have to make your router direct incoming messages to the Daylite server’s ports to your proper computer. 

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  1. And yes I know I haven’t put up the second part focusing in on the iPad and iPhone yet. I’ve been tremendously busy.

On Unicode in Code

One of the more unexpected features of Swift was thorough embrace of unicode even for variable names. On the one hand this makes a lot of sense, especially in Asian countries. On the other there was a lot of expected hue and cry over how this could be abused. Source code examples using emoji for instance quickly appeared. Last week I posted a link to Euler which uses unicode characters to properly represent logic and set notation along with a few other mathematical symbols. Now using symbols really isn’t a new thing. Anyone of a certain age probably remember APL (a programming language) which did this. Even if most likely they never coded in it. Back in 70’s and 80’s you needed a special terminal to use the language. When the PC revolution happened most computers couldn’t deal with the characters and the language died.1 In science it seems like Maple, Mathematica and related systems tended to use function names rather than symbols. While I might be wrong2, I think Swift is the first mass market popular language that allows this more symbolic view of functions and operators.3 I’m quite excited about what this offers, especially to those of us who come from a more mathematical background and who see the equations themselves and much more readable than confusing pseudo-functional representations. I recognize not everyone agrees.

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  1. Yes, there were versions of APL available for microcomputers including CP/M systems and even one for the PC and the Commodore PET had an APL interpreter. By and large though it just didn’t catch on primarily due to the character issues — the language often required custom keyboards. There was a version for the old Mac that I had tried out in college. But since the language wasn’t popular it was more an idle curiosity.
  2. Edit: apparently I was wrong. Python 3 can use unicode variable names as can Ruby 1.9. Ada actually has allowed it since ’05. And Mathematica has allowed it for a long time, which I should have remembered. Even Java has done it for a while. There’s a nice guide to languages and unicode variables out. I’m surprised it hasn’t been discussed more in the past — but maybe it was and I just missed it somehow..
  3. Symbolic here meaning the glyphs, not in the sense that say Mathematica is a symbolic calculator.

Competition Works

This year our city got Google Fiber. Admittedly most of the fiber had been laid by the city. Various ISPs and cable companies had been created that didn’t really successfully make use of the infrastructure.1 I’m not sure if Google approached Provo or the mayor approached Google (probably the latter) but Google came in and took over the city cable and fiber for ISP. Now Provo always had a lot of competition in the ISP space. Since we’re beside rather large mountains microwave based ISPs make a lot of sense here, for instance. Comcast was also always here and, to a lesser extent, the old phone company worked as an ISP. We have Verizon FIOS and a few others as well. So compared to most of the US we’ve always been served well.

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  1. Successful in the sense of being successful in terms of profit. Not that their offerings were worse than Comcast.

Initial Yosemite Thoughts

The betas for Yosemite have been out for a while. The public beta started last week. I think that the betas are mature enough to actually use regularly and give some thoughts on. Not everything is stable of course. For instance messages using your phone to enable calling phone numbers or sending SMS messages is still a little flakey.1 A few things still aren’t working quite right and some features still seem like they are being added. But overall it’s starting to look mature. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn Apple plans a late September release. Of course Apple has gone Gold Master earlier than I think justified in the past. (Actually I think both 10.9 and 10.8 were released probably a month earlier than I was comfortable with). So I wouldn’t be shocked to hear beta 6 is the GM although I hope that’s not the case.

Here are a few thoughts on Yosemite after using it a bit. I know there are many people holding off or wanting to know about certain features. I’ve simply not used everything Yosemite offers so there’s a lot I can’t comment on. (For instance I’ve simply not tried Hand Off to pass control from my phone to OS X) I’m primarily focused on the apps I used the most or issues I’ve long griped about.

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  1. I find that if your phone is on the lock screen it won’t work properly. Log in to your phone and it works fine. I’m not sure if that’s a feature or a bug.

Trying to figure it all out a post at a time