Tuesday, September 29, 2015

VW and Regulators: Think Wall Street and Bank Regulators

Source:  CNBC.

This post from CNBC questions the role of regulators in all this and how it happened. But you really have to ask? 

Just like banking regulators and Wall Street. Or FDA and farms. Watchdogs generally are good folks but the reality is that the coziness they share at times with the people they're supposed to keep an eye on and political pressure means they at times are working with one hand tied behind their backs or leaving the hen door open. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Space: Mars Has Flowing Salty Water During Summers

Hot off the press:  NASA said there is liquid water still flowing on Mars.  The press conference is still live.

This has huge implication on the possibility of life on Mars, else where in our solar system, and beyond.

Source: SCPR.

Friday, September 25, 2015

iPad Versus MacBook: Does It Come Down To Only Keyboard? Mostly


Here is a post from Macworld in which the author argues and explains why his MacBook Air is still his go-to device while the iPad, regardless of whether it is the mini, Air, or the yet to be released Pro, still cannot displace his Mac still. I have read enough similar posts to see an underlying theme: keyboard. 

That's it. The Macs have keyboards where as the iPad inherently do not and needs a clip-on case keyboard or one hooked in via Bluetooth. And here is the thing that I have thought about that makes the MacBooks a better option than the iPad with a keyboard. You cannot put the MacBook on your laps as easily as you can with an iPad with a keyboard. Really, think about it. It makes sense. 

Having said that, at the end of the day for a lot of these posts, it's about keyboard and navigation versus no keyboard and navigating with fingers and touch. 

But Macs are generally more powerful and capable as a computer and, therefore, are more capable of supporting more tools. Take Xcode for instance. If a developer wants to write an app for the iOS ecosystem, his or her only option is the Mac. To me that's a good reason why one would stick with a Mac. Until Apple is inclined to release a iOS Xcode app, we really won't know what developers will choose, keyboard or not. 

Oversimplifying this a bit? Maybe. However, this issue could be generational. Those born into the touch UI might well be fine with typing on a glass screen or feel quite at home dictating to Siri. Those of us older who started their computing experiences on a keyboard would like see things differently. 

It all comes down to preference. I'm on the camp that uses my iOS devices fora cats majority of my computing needs and into go to my Mac when I am absolutely have to. 

Note: This post was writing on my iPhone. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hey, Apple, Where Is the Updated Apple Pay?

Hey, Apple. And hey, Apple fans. Where are the new Apple Pay features? You know, like rewards and such? I was promised by rumor-mongers that we would be getting that by the release of new iPhones and iOS 9. So, what gives?

As far as I know, I'm the only who has asked this rather important question. Sure, the biggest news from Apple's media event last week was the addition of the Discover Card joining Apple Pay and rewarded its users for the year-long delay with a 10% cash back reward of a total purchase of up to $10,000 in in-store purchases.

Still, rewards from stores would be kinda nice to have. It's like the only reason Apple has decided to delay or not even talk about the rewards aspect of Apple Pay is that many stores like Whole Foods Markets and Trader Joes do not offer rewards of any sort. Heck, not even Apple offers a rewards program. And in using some credit cards that offer cash back, that might be enough for most users. And let's face it, most major supermarkets like Ralphs that offer discounts to its reward card users are not Apple Pay partners or offer NFC payment options.

Still, it would have been nice to see Apple continue to innovate with existing partners somehow. Oh you know, like offer some sort of reward that over time would culminate into some sort of discount on Apple products or services.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Apple Media Event: Is This It?

Apple was expected to unveil new iPhone models, the iPad Pro as well as updates to existing models, maybe something about the Apple Watch with new skins and bands, and, of course, a new Apple TV model. Well, Apple did that as it unveiled in about two hours all of the above. In doing so, it likely omitted any reason why it would hold a second media event as it had done in the previous years.

Prior to last week's event, there was a bit of debate within the Apple fan community whether Apple would unveil everything in one event or follow tradition. That debate is now over. Or is it?

Is there any reason or possibility that Apple could schedule an October media event? And if so, what could Apple possibly want to talk about? With the vast majority of its products updated, including the iPods a month or so ago, it leaves only the Macs. Speculations that Apple could update the Macs with Intel's latest Skylake chips make a lot of sense but new Macs certainly will not command the type of attention that iOS devices do. Furthermore, the next OS X, El Capitan, was given a release date of September 30th already and it is unlikely that Apple has anything new to offer on that front. Oh, Apple might release new accessories like new Mac keyboards based on the new butterfly mechanism but, to be frank, no one will get excited about that.

So, that means the likely reason for Apple to hold another media event would be a completely new product or consumer service. It is a safe bet that Apple is done for the year with respect to introducing new hardware that is not an upgrade of an existing product. The idea of a new consumer service is more plausible.

During last week's event, the Apple TV got a bulk of the two-hour long event, highlighting the new app store and gaming capability. What was missing was the rumored TV bundle service as well as new news about the HomeKit. If the stars somehow align in the next couple of weeks and Apple is able to complete its often tough and stalled negotiations between itself and contend owners, Apple can conceivably command another event and demand the world pay attention once more as it unveil its revolutionary (or not) TV service along with new HomeKit updates. After all, many had expected the Apple TV to serve as a HomeKit hub as well.

So far, HomeKit information and products have not received the amount of attention it deserves. Apple may be ready to enter the market with its own products or a slate of partner products to show consumers, specifically its fans, its vision of the future home.

One other possible service is CarPlay and it is unlikely to get any time since Apple is rumored to be working on its own car. If Apple does make another major announcement about CarPlay, it will be ready to unveil its first carOS along with the associated Apple hardware to run it, the Apple Car. Right now, CarPlay feels just as much like a hobby as the Apple TV has been since it was introduced.

So, the safest bet now is to say that Apple is all done for the year. It has what it needs to record another record-breaking Holidays quarter and Tim Cook and company are resting up to get ready to haul the bags of money we'll be giving them to the bank.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Company of Artists Masquerading As Engineers

This is Apple, a company of artists who happen to be engineers. I can't think of another company like it.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Canon Does 8K in a Major Way and Surprise VR Headset

Source: Engadget. 

Looks like more folks are getting into the VR game and Canon would be the least of many people's guesses but it does make sense since they make some of the best cameras around.  

Now you'll have to excuse Canon who demo'd their wares at the Canon Expo. See, they're still all prototypes. And recording and pushing out more than 35 million pixels, their 8K cameras are not ready for the market. And frankly, with 1080p still firmly entrenched in millions living rooms, it is unlikely most consumers are too much about 8K when 4K still isn't on the minds of most folks. (No Film School)

What is interesting is Canon demonstrating its VR solution including how they record content for it along with a prototype headset. Given enough interest, it is possible for Canon to enter the market. And why not if its 5K VR headset can provide an immersive and entertaining environment?

Oh yeah, it's 5K total between two screens. So, not bad at all.  

And given that it appears Canon can control the whole experience, from filming to displaying, it could conceivably provide an experience like no other VR headsets in the market. 

However, it's likely the 8K camera and VR rig will see the light of day than the VR headset. Or Canon could eventually license its VR technology to someone else and let them worry about developing and selling their own headsets. After all, Canon is more commonly known for their cameras, and to a lesser extent, printers. 

New iPhone Features Will Force Users To Buy More Expensive iPhone Models.

In this post form Forbes, it suggest that Apple made the iPhone more expensive even though Apple did not raise the price one penny (not the US prices - prices have increased for some countries as the USD has strengthened over the last few months and may continue to do so as commodities market collapse and some countries like China manipulate its currency).  What Forbes suggest is that new features like live photos (think Harry Potter but you do not have to be a wizard) and 4K video recording would require additional storage, making the 16 GB models of the 6S and 6S Plus pretty useless as apps, videos, and photos fight for space on the smallish storage capacity.

This has been an issue but it is only more apparent with the big jump in camera capability from the current 8MP to 12MP on the iSight camera while the 5MP selfie camera on the front will force selfie-takers to consider what pictures to keep.  This would require no only additional storage per picture but with live photos, it is twice the amount storage a regular photo would take.  

Furthermore, 4K video could well mean that users taking even casual videos will need to be aware of how much storage they need - figuring into whether to stick with the low-end 16 GB model or opt for the 64 GB or even 128 GB models.  

Which brings up the question:  when will Apple release a 256 GB version of the iPhone, and eventually, the iPad as well.  And should Apple actually offer a 256 GB option, will Apple continue to offer the pretty useless 16 GB or finally let it happily retire into Apple history?  

That speculation is entirely perfect for a post unto itself.  Simply put, while Apple will not come out and say it, it's obvious the middle tier 64 GB iPhones are the bare minimum if users take any decent number of photos and videos.  To be safe, the best bet is the 128 GB.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Amazon's Ambitous Fire Phone Has Gone Up In Smoke

Source:  Bloomberg.

The hope over at Amazon is that by now, the Fire Phone is lighting up the mobile market sending incumbents scrambling to innovate or push back with price cuts.  And by now, Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, is on a stage having already or is planning on upstaging today's just released iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S.  By now, throngs of Fire Phone users are going into department stores and markets taking pictures of stuff they wanna buy and going onto Amazon's website to buy it cheaper and shipped for free through their Prime membership.

Well, not quite.

Word on the street is that Amazon has ended its mobile phone experimentation.  Word on the street is that the Fire Phone can only be found on eBay for about 20% of its original cost. 

Maybe Amazon is just clearing inventory of the current version and is set to unveil the Fire Phone 2, you say.  'Fraid not.

Busy Apple Schedule on Tap

Looks like Apple's 2015 Fall event is over but the festivities for fans anyway are not quite over until at least through November.  Let's go through the schedule and see what we have on top through the end of the year.

Here we go:

  • September 12th (Saturday):  iPhone Pre-order.  This is going to be madness.  A lot of pinned up demand from the iPhone 5/5S crowd, not to mention those who are still rocking the 3.5" iPhones.  The iPhone 4S is no slouch but it is getting long in the tooth when it comes to some modern features.  So, preordering starts on midnight which means a lot folks who ordinarily go out on Friday could decide to stay home to order their iPhone.  Don't forget to check out the new annual upgrade program from Apple. This would save me a lot of trouble.  
  • September 16th (Wednesday):  Watch OS becomes available next week, or a week from now if you're reading this today.  While Apple did not upgrade the Apple Watch hardware (this was not expected), Watch OS 2 will take us out of the Dark Age and give us features that Apple probably meant to give us.  Yes, we were all part of Apple's beta program for the last few months.
  • September 30th (Wednesday):  El Capitan, the next OS X update, ships for the Macs.
  • Late October:  Apple TV becomes available for us.  It's likely that Apple hae them ready to ship but the extra month will give developers time to prep their apps for the Apple TV app stores and features.  The developer kit for tvOS is available today.
  • November:  iPad Pro.  This is the gem for today's announcement.  12.9" display, desktop performance, new keyboard case, and, who can forget, Apple Pencil.  
Oh, one more thing.  While the Mac lineup did not get any mention from Apple, it's conceivable that Apple will update the iMac with a 4K display long with upgraded CPU for the Macbooks later this year.  And the Mac Pro has not had any upgrade in a long, long while.

So, there will be plenty to talk about in the weeks and months to come.  For tech fans, specifically Apple fans, Christmas is here!

Monday, September 7, 2015

iPad Pro: 256 GB Or Else

Here is a bit of plausible rumors about the upcoming iPad Pro from Apple (9to5Mac). It will start with 64 GB and max out at 128 GB. Personally, I have been lukewarm about it and have been eyeing a possible iPad mini (it is 3 or 4 now). If the rumor is true, then I'm passing on it and will opt for the one next year, the year after, or when ever Apple offers a 256 GB option. This is after all, an pro version of the iPad and that means it will need the creds to be about productivity.

After all, with the 128 GB option on the iPad Air 2 now, I'm kinda hitting the wall at times.  And with what Apple has planned for the iPad Pro in iOS 9, 10, and beyond, serious mobile warriors will need more storage as improvements and new features advance what they can do with their iPad Pro.  And 256 GB is at least a minimum in this regard.

We will know in the next few days what Apple has planned.  There is a possibility that Apple may have a second event in October and leave the September 9th even entirely for the iPhone and Apple TV and that means waiting even a bit longer before we know what Apple's game plan is for the iPad Pro.  

What do you think?  Is 128 GB enough for a Pro tablet or you will want more storage like me?  Or are you fine with even just 64 GB?

iPad Pro: 256 GB Or Else

Here is a bit of plausible rumors about the upcoming iPad Pro from Apple (9to5Mac). It will start with 64 GB and max out at 128 GB. Personally, I have been lukewarm about it and have been eyeing a possible iPad mini (it is 3 or 4 now). If the rumor is true, then I'm passing on it and will opt for the one next year, the year after, or when ever Apple offers a 256 GB option. This is after all, an pro version of the iPad and that means it will need the creds to be about productivity.

After all, with the 128 GB option on the iPad Air 2 now, I'm kinda hitting the wall at times. And with what Apple has planned for the iPad Pro in iOS 9, 10, and beyond, serious mobile warriors will need more storage as improvements and new features advance what they can do with their iPad Pro. And 256 GB is at least a minimum in this regard.

We will know in the next few days what Apple has planned. There is a possibility that Apple may have a second event in October and leave the September 9th even entirely for the iPhone and Apple TV and that means waiting even a bit longer before we know what Apple's game plan is for the iPad Pro.

What do you think? Is 128 GB enough for a Pro tablet or you will want more storage like me? Or are you fine with even just 64 GB?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone