Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Random thought.

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Sensors included on the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro:

  • Touch ID
  • Three-axis gyro
  • Accelerometer
  • Barometer
  • Ambient light sensor

Not included: GPS, unless you purchase one of the cellular models. It looks like “assisted GPS and GLONASS” are built into the cellular chipset or something?

I keep thinking about getting an iPad or some other sort of tablet to supplement my first generation Kindle Fire. But it always comes back to this: I want GPS, and can’t get it. Okay, I could if I bought a cellular model, but:

  1. The cellular iPad 2 is $130 more than the Wi-Fi equivalents in every memory configuration. Same with the iPad Pro. Except the Pro only has one cellular/Wi-fi memory config, and that’s over $1,000.
  2. I don’t want cellular data. I don’t have the $60 to $85 a month it would take to add a device to my plan. $60 to $85 a month is at least one good Smith and Wesson a year. I’d be perfectly happy with a device that just does Wi-fi, as long as it has GPS. If I desperately needed data in non-Wi-fi areas, I’d enable the hotspot feature on my phone – at least that’s only $30 a month, I think.

It isn’t just Apple, though. I’ve looked at Android tablets too. I’ve heard that Android gives you lower-level access to GPS data than iOS, but I haven’t been all that impressed by the Android tablets I’ve seen. The price/memory ratio just seems out of whack to me.

Best Buy, for example, is selling a Nexus 9 with 32GB of memory (which to me is a hard minimum; I’d prefer 64GB) for $432. I can get a Mini 2 for $319 from Apple, or a Mini 4 with 64GB for $499. Decisions, decisions. Do I want an Apple device that doesn’t have GPS, but that I can trust to be updated regularly and work for a while? (I’m still using a MacBook I bought in 2007 as my main computer.) Or do I want to buy another shoddy piece of crap Android thing that’s going to stop getting updates in 18 months, but does have GPS?

Or does it? The specs on Google’s site show the Nexus 9 does, but they also show it has a cellular chipset. Does the Wi-Fi only version do GPS? Can I buy a cellular tablet and use GPS on it without a carrier? Who knows? I can’t find that on Google’s site, the specs on Best Buy’s site don’t mention GPS, and asking a Best Buy employee seems like a good way to invoke the customer appreciation bat.

Am I making this too hard? Am I asking too much? All I want is a reasonably priced tablet that does GPS and doesn’t require a cellular data plan. Why is this so hard?

DEFCON 23: -2 day notes

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

DEFCON 23 starts Thursday. Black Hat USA 2015 starts tomorrow.

Once again, it doesn’t look like I’m going to make it out to Vegas. Once again, I’m going to try to cover things from 1,500 miles away. It isn’t completely clear to me that anyone other than me is getting any benefit from this, but I’ve been doing this for long enough that I have a hard time stopping now.

Here’s the schedule. There are several presentations that are already getting media attention:

So what would I go see if I was there? What sounds interesting to me?


After action report: Spokane, WA.

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

The Smith and Wesson Collector’s Association annual symposium was in Spokane this year.


Norts spews.

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Lawrence Phillips, former NFL running back who is serving out a 31-year prison sentence, may have killed his cellmate.

Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental.

Nigalidze is suspected of stashing an iPhone in a men’s room stall and using it to cheat during games.

“When confronted, Nigalidze denied he owned the device,” according to the tournament’s Web site. “But officials opened the smart device and found it was logged into a social networking site under Nigalidze’s account. They also found his game being analyzed in one of the chess applications.”

I just want to say…

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

this is my favorite John Moltz post ever.

(Well, okay. My favorite John Moltz post as John Moltz at “Very Nice Web Site”. I’m not quite sure it displaces the one at Crazy Apple Rumors where he actually used a question of mine in the “Crazy Apple Help Desk”.)

TMQ Watch: August 12, 2014.

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

And so is TMQ. And so is TMQ Watch. The first column of the NFL season is always kind of strange; there’s a lot of short items, basketball coverage, and other things that throw us for a loop. We’re probably not going to hit every one of TMQ’s throwaway quips. And yes, we’re aware that TMQ did a couple of draft columns; we looked at those and frankly didn’t find anything noteworthy in them. One was his usual silly mock draft, the other was his draft analysis, and both contained the recommended US daily allowance of TMQ tropes.

Anyway, back to this week’s TMQ, after the jump…


Changing the face of dining.

Friday, January 31st, 2014

We have a noodle truck at the office on Thursdays.

The Forbidden. Beef stewed for four hours in an Indonesian-style red curry. DFG Noodles, Austin, Texas.

The Forbidden. Beef stewed for four hours in an Indonesian-style red curry. DFG Noodles, Austin, Texas.

And it is pretty damn good.

And they take credit/debt cards. You’ve seen it before, haven’t you? iPad with a credit card swiper, pick your tip, sign, have your receipt emailed to you?

This observation isn’t original to me, and I’m not sure it is terribly profound, but: services like Square have revolutionized credit card processing. I remember the old days, when setting up a merchant account was hard to do, and you needed a phone line, and you needed bulky equipment, and the credit card processors charged enormous fees. Now? I’m kind of far from retail, so I’m not sure if Square has resulted in downward pressure on fees (though I suspect it has).

Someone I know who is in retail and takes credit cards reviewed an early draft of this post and provided this information: they pay 2.61% for credit card processing, but each month’s statement also contains a laundry list of “cryptic inexplicable fees” that they have to pay as well. Square claims to charge a flat 2.75% for swiped transactions (Visa, MC, AmEx, Discover) with no additional fees. (I say “claims” because I have not used Square and can’t verify that for myself.)

Square also claims to deliver your money in one to two business days, no matter what type of card it is. The retail person I know says that AmEx fees depend on how long you let AmEx keep your money: they let AmEx hold their money for 15 days, and pay between 2% and 3%.

But fees aside, anyone who has a bank account can take credit cards these days, and all you need is an iPhone or iPad (or a supported Android device, though frankly that looks a little painful). Little to no bulk, no landline, and the money goes into your linked bank account.

The big thing, as I see it, isn’t the merchant charges: it is the portability. Your credit card machine is your phone or tablet, and it fits in a trailer. Or in a pocket. And you don’t need anything else – you don’t even need a printer, you can just email receipts to your customers. (Okay, you might want a charging cable, depending on how good battery life is on your device. But other than that, nothing.)



TMQ Watch: December 17, 2013.

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

You know that comment we made yesterday, about “Start writing or stop talking about it” being pretty good writing advice?

This week’s TMQ after the jump…


Bad Idea Jeans.

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Scentee, a Japanese tech brand, has created a product that attaches to your smartphone and releases a scent. The plug-in accessory fits into the headphone socket of a smartphone (iPhone and Android). The device works with a companion app that tells it to spray a burst of fragrance into the air when you receive a message.

Available scents are claimed to include:

…rose, mint, curry, jasmine, cinnamon roll, lavender, apple, strawberry, ylang-ylang (a fragrant flower), coconut, and if you remember the fried corn soup fritters at KFC Japan from earlier this year, the corn soup scent should come as no surprise. There’s also a limited-edition Korean BBQ collection with two meat scents and baked potato. A bacon scent is in the works.

Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it in action. But even if this does turn out to be real, and not a hoax, I still think it is a damn stupid idea. (Anyone remember the iSmell?)


Almost as cool as making the theme song to “The Wire” (the Season 5 version) your ringtone … almost.

Oh, bullshit. Everyone knows the Season 1 version (with the Blind Boys of Alabama) is the best version.

Edited to add: I have been challenged to provide support for the above statement.

Here’s a handy page that contains YouTube versions of the theme song from all five seasons.

Consumer advisory: iTunes 11.1

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

If you have not updated to iTunes 11.1 yet, don’t.


This is a screen snapshot from my iTunes 11.1 of one of the podcasts I listen to, the Accidental Tech Podcast. Click to embiggen.

In spite of what you see in the “Plays” column, I have actually listened to every episode of ATP. I delete podcasts from iTunes as I listen to them.

When I “upgraded” to 11.1, all of these podcasts I had already listened to, and deleted from iTunes, popped back in with that little “cloud” icon under the “Unplayed” column. Apparently, Apple wants me to know that these podcasts are available in “the cloud”.

That’s great, Apple, but if I want to find an episode I’ve missed, I can go to the podcast’s page in iTunes, or to the podcast’s website. How do I turn off the display of podcasts in “the cloud”?

Surprise! According to everything I’ve been able to find on Apple’s support sites, you can’t. You can’t delete them from iTunes. You can’t get rid of them. The “Show iTunes purchases in the cloud” option does nothing for podcasts.

You can use the “My Podcasts” view to show just the podcasts you’ve downloaded and not deleted, without the “cloud” podcasts. But I have sound reasons for preferring the “List” view over “My Podcasts” – “List” shows you more information and less graphics.

Bad job, Apple. May the person who decided on this develop a case of painful rectal itch.

The street finds its own uses for things.

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Hattip on this to Big Bill Gibson and John Gruber.

Toes in the water.

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Sorry about the short blogging quasi-hiatus there.

After work on Friday, I drove down to San Antonio for LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention. It was a swell time. I got to hang out with several friends, including Mike the Musicologist, Andrew the Colossus of Roads, RoadRich, and Lawrence, who was doing a land office business in books. (Who says people don’t read any more? I covered the table for him a little bit, and by Ghu the books were flying off the table like snow crab legs at an all you can eat Chinese buffet.)

I haven’t been down to San Antonio for reasons other than medical for years, and hadn’t been on the RiverWalk since LoneStarCon2. I’d forgotten how nice the RiverWalk is, even though the vendors make things a bit crowded. (I don’t remember there being as many sidewalk vendors there last time I was down. But I’m getting old, and memory fades.)

Mike the Musicologist did most of the meal planning. Breakfast for two out of three of the days we were there was in the Marriott Rivercenter, mostly for reasons of timing. However, it is a pretty good buffet; I’d go so far as to say, with the custom omelets and made-to-order waffles, it comes close to being worth $20+tax and tip. Especially since I really didn’t see any breakfast places near the hotels or along the Riverwalk. (McDonalds and Whataburger excepted. There was also a Denny’s across the street from the Rivercenter; but literally the first thing I heard when I got to the hotel was that a mutual acquaintance of ours got food poisoning from the Denny’s bacon.)

The one non-Marriott breakfast was at the Magnolia Pancake Haus on Embassy Oaks, which was packed to the gills. We waited 40 minutes for a table, but the Munchener Apfel Pfannekuchen was worth it. I’d love to go back (and maybe try the wild mushroom hash) but I’d make sure I brought a good book.

(At some point in the near future, I want to do a post on how tablets, and especially the iPad, are transforming the restaurant industry, with Magnolia being one of my examples.)

We also had an excellent meal at Moroccan Bites (I loved the lamb shank and the chicken bites) and a pretty good meal at a place called Charlie Wants a Burger. (I had the pulled pork sandwich. And wings.) Sunday night we went to Fogo de Chao…which, you know, is Fogo de Chao. If you want huge amounts of roasted meat, you know what you’re getting into. For reasons I won’t discuss here (think Tim Cahill’s rule #6, corollary 1), I just had the salad bar. Which is actually a reasonable thing to do at Fogo de Chao (especially since you also get to eat the fried polenta, bananas, and cheese rolls), and I didn’t feel ripped off at $22.50. (I did feel gouged by the $3.25 iced tea. Note to self: water next time.)

(If you think you detected a trend, you may be right: Moroccan Bites and Magnolia have both been on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Guy Fieri may have problems running a place of his own, but as far as recommendations go, he’s batting 100% with me.)

Oddly enough, I bought more t-shirts (three) than I did books (two). Of course, one of those shirts is a gift for my brother. And one of those shirts I don’t actually have yet (they’re shipping it). And one of those books I bought mostly so I could support my friends. (I would have bought more books, but nobody had any Robert Frezza. “The Whistling Pig” was the theme to my last few months at 4LCC.)

I do want to say a few words about the best thing that happened at the convention. I don’t like bragging about famous people I know, mostly because I’m always afraid someone will ask them about me and they’ll say “Dwight who?” (Or, if they’re talking to Gardner Dozois, “That a–hole Dwight?!”)

(If you’ve never met Gardner in person, let’s just say he has a puckish sense of humor.)

But I digress. The best thing that happened at the convention is that one of my closest friends in the world won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette. That put the cap on a pretty swell weekend.

Congrats, again, Pat.