January 7, 2015

Link: On the Utility of MagSafe ☍

John Gruber weighs in on the idea of a MacBook Air with only a USB port and headphone jack:

But one that I keep thinking about is MagSafe. I can definitely see getting rid of classic USB — it’s old and thick. Thunderbolt, sort of. But MagSafe? When Apple announced MagSafe back in 2006, I knew they were solving a real problem, not an imaginary marketing problem. Tripping over power cables and yanking laptops off tables and onto floors was a real issue. I had an iBook way back when that ultimately died after one too much such incidents. If anything, Apple has made MagSafe 2 even easier to pull apart, not harder. Switching to USB Type-C seems like it would take us all the way back to days when tripping over the charging cable would take your laptop along for the ride.

While I’m all for removing unnecessary ports, going back to a charging connector that didn’t have some sort of magnetic release mechanism just feels like a step backwards and asking for trouble. Plus, one port for everything is fine in the iOS world, but I think the current MacBook Airs have pared down the number of ports to an appropriate minimum.

January 2, 2015

“I’m a sucker for apps. I’m on the App Store every day. You know the famous saying, don’t judge a book by its cover? If it looks interesting, I’ll buy it. So, games, books, movies, gadgets, security features.”

Link: Marriott Plans to Block Personal Wi-Fi Hotspots ☍

Glen Fleishman for Boing Boing:

Marriott is fighting for its right to block personal or mobile Wi-Fi hotspots—and claims that it’s for our own good.

The hotel chain and some others have a petition before the FCC to amend or clarify the rules that cover interference for unlicensed spectrum bands. They hope to gain the right to use network-management tools to quash Wi-Fi networks on their premises that they don’t approve of. In its view, this is necessary to ensure customer security and to protect children.

The petition, filed in August and strewn with technical mistakes, has received a number of formally filed comments from large organizations in recent weeks. If Marriott’s petition were to succeed, we’d likely see hotels that charge guests and convention centers that charge exhibitors flipping switches to shut down any Wi-Fi not operated by the venue. The American hotel industry’s trade group is a co-filer of the petition, and Hilton submitted a comment in support: this isn’t just Marriott talking.

Sorry, but I will not be staying at any hotel that pulls this garbage and if this were to pass, I hope everyone else votes with their wallets, too.

January 1, 2015

Link: A Class Action Lawsuit Over iOS 8 Storage ☍

Julia Love for The Mercury News’s Silicon Beat:

Apple has been hit with a lawsuit alleging that it doesn’t inform users just how much storage its new operating system will eat up – and then prods them to buy more space through its iCloud service.

The case, filed in the Bay Area’s federal court on Tuesday, claims iOS 8 can take up as much as 23.1 percent of the advertised storage capacity on Apple gadgets, but few users realize that when they make their purchases. Seeking damages and changes to Apple policies under California state law, plaintiffs hope to represent sweeping classes of users who bought Apple gadgets with iOS 8 already installed and users who upgraded to the latest version of the software. […]

“Using these sharp business tactics, defendant gives less storage capacity than advertised, only to offer to sell that capacity in a desperate moment, e.g., when a consumer is trying to record or take photos at a child or grandchild’s recital, basketball game or wedding,” plaintiffs allege in the complaint.

I’m not arguing with Love’s reporting, moreso that those filing the lawsuit don’t understand how iOS storage works and how it plays with iCloud. Even if you go and buy the largest amount (1TB for $19.99/month), that still won’t give you more breathing room to update to iOS 8 or use your device. In terms of updating, if you’re out of space, you must clear items off temporarily for the installation process or simply plug your device into a computer and update through iTunes. I’m not arguing that usage patterns and capabilities have changed, as Apple should phase out the 16GB devices, but this lawsuit seems to be an attempt at a moneygrab based on fear, misunderstanding of technology, and Apple as a appealing target.

December 22, 2014

Link: Microsoft’s Site to Switch from MacBook to Surface Pro 3 ☍

For years, Apple had as a resource for those thinking of leaving Windows for Mac OS X. While that site and ad campaign are long gone, it’s interesting to see how the tables have turned. I’m also curious to see what the numbers of people actually doing this look like (via MacRumors).

Article: Top Gadget & App Picks of 2014

As we are only a few days away from Christmas, everyone is looking for last-minute gift ideas. Although it might be a little too late to order some things, plenty of items are available in stores and, there’s always the option of apps. Because most of these items are designed for or work nicely with Apple devices, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favorite (in no particular order) items for 2014. Most of these were either items I used regularly or purchased in 2014. This is a slightly different approach than my picks last year, which focused on Mac Apps…

December 17, 2014

Link: Sony Pictures Employees Now Working In An Office “From Ten Years Ago” ☍

John Biggs for TechCrunch explains how Sony Pictures had to basically rebuild their entire IT infrastructure and processes:

“We’re mostly a fully-functioning office. We’re going about or daily business. We just got our voicemail back. Everyone is a little calmer now after the initial shock. A couple of people had their computers removed but people using Macs were fine,” she said. She said most work is done on iPads and iPhones. An emergency email system is in place but it does not allow attachments.

December 16, 2014

Review: Contrast Group Text+ and Email+

Group Text+I’ve been a fan of Contrast’s apps for awhile, notably Perfect Weather which was reviewed earlier this year, so I jumped at the chance to try out their latest offerings, Group Text+ and Email+, a pair of similarly-designed apps for automating text messaging and emails, respectively…