December 1, 2016

Article: Early Thoughts on DirecTV Now

I was on a pretty nice promotional rate with DirecTV, taking advantage of AT&T’s love of bundling when the “All Included” plans were introduced last spring. Unfortunately, a move later, and I was dish-less due to not having a southern exposure to mount the dish at my new apartment. Rather than switch to AT&T’s U-verse product or Comcast (Xfinity is still a stupid brand), I decided to sit a month or two out, dust off my over-the-air TiVo from 2008, and see what developments happened in the world of streaming. Sony’s PlayStation Vue was already on my radar, as was Sling TV. I wanted to see what AT&T was going to offer with DirecTV Now, especially considering that they’ve already done an IP-based TV service before with U-verse and had some strong programming agreements in place through DirecTV…

November 27, 2016

“If GE can build jet engines, tidal energy farms, freight rail data systems, mining equipment, and medical devices, how is it that the world’s most valuable company can’t find the time to make a full line of personal computers and PC peripherals alongside its market-leading smartphones and tablets?”

November 26, 2016

Link: Backup Photos While Traveling with an iPad Pro and a Raspberry Pi ☍

This two-parter shows what a bit of ingenuity and geekiness can create when you have a palm-sized Linux box and an iPad that acts as a client:

I’ve been on a quest to finding the ideal travel photo backup solution for a long time. Relying on just tossing your SD cards in your camera bag after they are full during a trip is a risky move that leaves you too exposed: SD cards can be lost or stolen, data can get corrupted or cards can get damaged in transit. Backing up to another medium – even if it’s just another SD card – and leaving that in a safe(r) place while traveling is the best practice. Ideally, backing up to a remote location would be the way to go, but that may not be practical depending on where you are traveling to and Internet availability in the region.

Certainly this is overkill for most people (I use an iCloud Photo Library, back up some things to a remote FTP server, and finally have a SanDisk Connect flash drive as yet another option), but it’s a fascinating build nonetheless.

November 22, 2016

Link: The Mac as an iOS Accessory ☍

Adam C. Engst for TidBITS:

How does the Mac fit into this new world order? It plays well with iCloud and the iTunes Store, and it increasingly taps iCloud for added functionality. It’s another link in the chain that keeps users buying iPhones and iPads because it’s easier to have a computer that talks to your smartphone and tablet seamlessly. The Mac also remains essential to iOS as a development platform, and (through macOS Server) as an organization-wide caching server for iOS and app updates. In essence, the Mac is an accessory to the iOS platform.

This is an interesting and accurate take on the current state of the Mac, especially in the context of the big picture of iOS-versus-macOS and what it means for Apple’s revenue streams. For people that need a Mac, one wonders where Apple is going to take their desktop platform next.

November 21, 2016

Link: Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers ☍

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, another move to try to sharpen the company’s focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced.

Apple hasn’t refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry. The decision to disband the team indicates the company isn’t currently pushing forward with new versions of its routers. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s plans.

I’m not surprised by this news, although it is a bit disappointing that Apple is getting away from this market. In my own experiences, the AirPort units are generally rock-solid and easy to set up and maintain (I have set some up for friends family members and never get calls about router issues). Unfortunately, Apple neglected them by lagging on updates and competing products like Google’s OnHub, Eero, and Ubiquiti’s AmpliFi have taken the user-friendly app approach with better performance.