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These are tech/gadget related posts. Archive for 2014.

The Mac Pro needs 10 Gigabit Ethernet

The way I see it, the new Mac Pro really needs an internal 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GE) interface.

Read the article - posted 2014-01-03

The best way to use iTunes: the MiniPlayer

The MiniPlayer is the best thing about iTunes 11, especially if, like me, you enjoy looking at high resolution album artwork. Here's how it works.

Read the article - posted 2014-01-05

The state of enhanced podcasts

A long time ago Apple introduced "enhanced" podcasts. These are audio podcasts with chapters, where each chapter optionally has an image and/or a URL. It's a very nice idea, but...

Read the article - posted 2014-01-15

Beware of the DFS band if you want gigabit Wi-Fi

I got an Apple Time Capsule 802.11ac "gigabit Wi-Fi" base station this summer, and then a new 802.11ac-capable MacBook Pro (read my review) a few months ago. Those two can communicate wirelessly at a blistering 1.3 Gbps. Sweet!


Read the article - posted 2014-02-14

Ethernet energy efficiency

How power-hungry are various permutations of Ethernet on modern MacBook Pros? Tests performed and written up by Jeroen van der Ham and Iljitsch van Beijnum.

Read the article - posted 2014-03-03

The Nikon D7100 is useless for video

Earlier, I posted a video filmed with my Nikon D7100 DSLR.

The video came out pretty good, although it's rather boring and I really should be even more careful making sure m tripod is level. However, the D7100 is pretty useless for video.

Read the article - posted 2014-03-19

Wikipedia and lunatic charlatans

I just love this story on Ars Technica by Megan Geuss: Wikipedia founder calls alt-medicine practitioners “lunatic charlatans”.

Read the article - posted 2014-03-26

Should we simply invalidate ALL pre-heartbleed certificates?

Reading Bruce Schneier's blogpost on the heartbleed bug:

I'm hearing that the CAs are completely clogged, trying to reissue so many new certificates. And I'm not sure we have anything close to the infrastructure necessary to revoke half a million certificates.

Wouldn't it make sense to simply invalidate update SSL implementations to reject all certificates that predate the discovery of the heartbleed vulnerability? Even if all the the potentially compromised certs are added to revocation lists, most clients don't check for revoked certificates, leaving a huge opportunity for man-in-the-middle attacks using the compromised certificates.

Permalink - posted 2014-04-18

→ Transparent IPv6 in socket APIs

Yes, it's 2014. Using IPv6 sockets is no big deal.

Read the article - posted 2014-04-30

Nikon and Apple apply radically different color management to photos

The other day I had a discussion about whether to use the "standard" sRGB color space or a larger color space for my digital photos.

Read the article - posted 2014-05-04

Review: Epson V370 Photo scanner

I started taking photos in the 1980s. I still have a bunch of black-and-white negatives that I developed myself, but never got them printed. In addition to that, I have color photos with their negatives and slides. The past years, I've been looking for a way to digitize all of these. The number of photos isn't huge, maybe a few hundred, but having a service do it at 50 cents or so quickly adds up. Turns out that some flatbed scanners have a transparency attachment so you can scan negatives and slides. The Epson Perfection V370 Photo scanner has a transparency mode built in. It gets pretty good reviews and only costs about € 80 or $100. So I got one.

Read the article - posted 2014-05-17

MacOS 10.9.3 will sync contacts over USB and Wi-Fi again

In order to sync an iPhone running iOS 7 with your Mac you need to run iTunes 11.1. The combination of MacOS 10.9, iTunes 11.1 and iOS 7 will no longer sync calendars and contacts between a Mac and an iOS device directly over USB or Wi-Fi: the only way to do this is using iCloud or other CalDAV and CardDAV servers.

Read the article - posted 2014-05-20

→ Stop forcing people to wear bike helmets

Good piece on the misguided efforts to get adults to wear helmets when riding a bicycle.

Here in Holland adults on regular bikes (as opposed to racing bikes) virtually never wear helmets. I've never heard of anyone falling off of their bikes on their heads.

I've cycled 8000 km last year myself, and I can think of very many things that would make the roads safer for cycling, the first of which would be to, you know, look at the traffic around you. Helmets would be very far down the list.

I got some flack for always listening to podcasts or music when cycling, but I don't think that's a problem. I keep the volume low enough that I can still hear car horns and I'm very careful about looking in all directions, including behind me, which many cyclists don't. I had two minor collisions the past year, in both cases because another cyclist turned left unexpectedly as I was passing them.

Read the article - posted 2014-05-20

→ Missing features we’d like to see in the next version of OS X

It's only been about seven months since Apple released OS X 10.9, the latest and greatest version of its Mac operating system. But the yearly upgrade cycle means that unless something unexpected happens, Apple will tell us about OS X 10.10 at the traditional keynote next month on the first morning of its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The operating system is over 13 years old and it's come a long way since those first versions, but it's still not perfect. What areas do we think Apple should focus on in 10.10?

Read the article - posted 2014-05-20

→ This is why cloud services make me profoundly uncomfortable

The short version is that essentially anything you've backed up to or stored on iCloud is available for Apple to fork over to law enforcement, including connection logs and IP addresses you've used. Apple has access to 60 days of iCloud mail logs that "include records of incoming and outgoing communications such as time, date, sender e-mail addresses, and recipient e-mail addresses"; any e-mail messages that the user has not deleted; and any other information that can be backed up to iCloud. As of this writing, this list includes contacts, calendars, browser bookmarks, Photo Stream photos, anything that uses the "documents and data" feature (which can include not just word processors but also photo and video apps, games, and data from other applications), and full device backups.

Read the article - posted 2014-07-31

→ Grote opening Apple Store Den Haag: 9 augustus 10.00 uur

Nog twee nachtjes slapen!

En blijkbaar heb je daar een survivalgids voor nodig...

Read the article - posted 2014-08-07

Opening Apple Store Den Haag

Read the article - posted 2014-08-09

Thinking about the iPhone 6

It looks like the introduction of the iPhone 6 is only a few weeks away. And if the rumors are to be believed, it's going to be bigger than the iPhone 5/5S/5C. People talk about 4.7 inches vs 4 inches for the iPhone 5 family, which I'll take as 12 cm vs 10 cm—a 20% increase.

But what about the screen resolution? 1136 x 640, 1364 x 768, 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080? ...

Read the article - posted 2014-08-21

Apple announces iPhone 5 battery replacement program

That was fast. No sooner had I complained about my iPhone 5 battery:

When I got my iPhone 5, I did a bunch of battery tests, and at that point, the battery life was pretty much identical to that of my iPhone 4, which was two years old by then. However, pretty soon I started having issues where the phone would shut down if I tried to do too much at the same time if the battery was below 50%, especially in cold weather. (Taking a photo would typically do it, as that fires up the GPS which in turn causes cellular data traffic.) It took me a while to figure out that five minutes later, I could turn the phone back on. These days, I have to be very careful with the way I use my iPhone in order to make it last through the day on a single charge.

...or Apple announces the iPhone 5 Battery Replacement Program!

Read the article - posted 2014-08-23

Was the iPad a fad?

Many people's first take on the iPad was that "it's just a big iPod touch". And so it is, really. But sentiments changed quickly as sales numbers skyrocketed: the king (the computer) is dead, long live the new king (the iPad). But then iPad sales numbers went down for two consecutive quarters. While Mac sales were up.

There are of course many possible explanations: iPads aren't upgraded biennially like phones, but rather every three years or longer. Apple's prices are too high. Competition from cheap Android tablets.

Software on the iPad doesn't seem to do very well, either, which has its own issues, but I think the real reason for lack of both hard- and software sales is that the iPad simply isn't as useful to as many people as industry watchers thought...

Read the article - posted 2014-08-25

Existing and upcoming iOS device screens and the metric system

Have you ever noticed how the iPad has strange screen sizes? 9.7 and 7.9 inches. The same for the rumored new iPhone sizes: 4.7 and 5.5 inches. Turns out some of these screen sizes are nice, round numbers... in the metric system.

Read the article - posted 2014-08-26

iPhone lock screen tip: audio controls vs large clock, timer

After six years of using one, it's not often that I stumble upon an iPhone trick I didn't know before. But here's one. When looking at the lock screen when audio is playing, press the home button and the audio controls are replaced with the large clock that the lock screen normally shows when no audio is playing.

Read the article - posted 2014-08-27

Technology from the pre-iPhone days

Yesterday I posted this to Twitter:

Kicking it old school while my iPhone 5 is undergoing battery surgery.

And then this morning I saw Andy Ihnatko had a video based on a similar photo...

Read the article - posted 2014-09-02

→ Op-Ed: Tablets really are the new PCs; nobody needs to buy them any more

There's nothing new tablets can offer existing owners.

Op-ed by Peter Bright on Ars Technica on why tablets aren't selling like they used to. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Read the article - posted 2014-09-04

NFC is the way of the future

NFC is an amazing technology. Mark my words: it's going to be huge. Whether Apple adopts it next week or not. The reason: it ties together the physical world with the networked world. When scanning for Wi-Fi networks or bluetooth devices, it's really hard to know which names on your screen map to which devices in the real world. So Wi-Fi requires typing long and complex network passwords and bluetooth uses an annoying pairing procedure. NFC, on the other hand, really is plug and play. Without the "plug" part.

Read the article - posted 2014-09-07

My iWatch predictions

Here's my predictions regarding tomorrow's expected iWatch announcement. I wrote this article nearly two years ago, but I feel it holds up just fine.

I even mention NFC. Having NFC in a watch or wrist strap would be very convenient when it comes to making contact with a reader, but unlike iPhones, I don't think an iWatch would have a fingerprint sensor, as there's no room to put one on the device. Well, on the strap maybe. And the fingerprint scanner is what would make NFC payments so much better than current payment systems.

Read the article - posted 2014-09-08

I love my new Casio F-91W watch!

The Casio F-91W is a great watch. It's cheap (I paid 15 euros) and simple. It weighs 22 grams. The best thing? The battery life is seven years. Casio started making them in 1991, and they're still selling in good numbers, according to this somewhat incredulous story over at the BBC.

I do have to admit one of the reasons I got the F91W is to see if I could get used to wearing a watch again in anticipation of the Apple Watch.

Permalink - posted 2014-09-11

Prepaid 4G on Vodafone NL with the iPhone 5

I've pretty much decided to skip the iPhone 6 and stick with my iPhone 5 for another year. One of the new features in the iPhone 5 two years ago was LTE or 4G. But sadly, even though I kept my eye open for it when roaming internationally, I've never seen "4G" in the status bar of my iPhone 5.

After the Netherlands implemented net neutrality in 2012, prices for mobile data went up a lot, but I'm grandfathered into a cheap unlimited plan from KPN that I'd have to give up to get LTE. Also, KPN uses LTE frequencies that the iPhone 5 doesn't support, so I'd have to switch carriers.

So what I did instead was get a prepaid SIM from Vodafone NL...

Read the article - posted 2014-09-14

→ Don’t buy the Apple Watch version 1.0

I was thinking about v1.0 issues with the upcoming Watch (sorry, Apple Watch) myself. On the one hand it would be cool to have the very first instance of a new product category (from Apple). On the other hand, if you wat for the first or second refresh, you usually get something much better. Reading this Ars Technica article it's actually kind of scary how limited 1.0 versions of the iPod, MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad really were.

Food for thought.

Read the article - posted 2014-09-16

Finally! After two years the The Hague Central train station is now on Apple's maps.

Image link - posted 2014-09-16

iOS 8 fixes white letterboxing for album art

In iOS 7, lots of stuff turned white. Such as the Music application, which you use to play music. That's unfortunate, because the album art embedded in songs looks much better on a black background than it does surrounded by white. However, the lock screen, which also shows album art if music is playing, is still dark.

The problem here is that for non-square album art, the image is made square by "letterboxing" it with white borders on the sides or the top and bottom—a real eyesore (As far as I've been able to tell, art work for music on the iTunes store is always square and actual (vinyl) album art is also square. However, CD boxes aren't quite square.) Fortunately, we only had to suffer this indignity for a year, as the iOS 8 update released last week fixes this.

Read the article - posted 2014-09-21

I for one welcome our new NFC payment overlords

So next month American iPhone 6 and 6+ users can start paying wirelessly. That's pretty cool. However, in many parts of the world you don't need to buy an expensive new phone to get that ability. Let me explain how all of this works here in the Netherlands.

Read the article - posted 2014-09-24

→ Dark Mode As IOS Accessibility Feature

One more reason to dislike all the whiteness in Apple's recent versions of their operating systems.

I do like that the night mode in the iOS 8 iBooks can now come on automatically in low light. I remember Marco Arment talking about how developers didn't have access to the light sensor to make this happen. I hope that's changed.

Read the article - posted 2014-09-25

Creating an iPhone-optimized version of this site

I've been pretty happy with the redesign of this website that I did last year. It's clean but still has some character. I kept the width of the text to 540 pixels because long lines are hard to read, and the text size is a bit larger than average. Still, on the iPhone the site looks tiny...

Read the article - posted 2014-10-01

Apple Watch speculation

Almost two years ago, I speculated about what an iWatch might be like. So let's see how well I did. And then speculate some more about the things we still don't know.

Read the article - posted 2014-10-07

Bluetooth earbuds: Jaybird Bluebuds X

With the impending arrival of the Apple Watch, it's time to start looking for some new bluetooth headphones/earbuds...

Read the article - posted 2014-10-14

Disabling logging in to a Mac with an Apple ID

If you have more than on Mac, it can be very useful to mount another system's drives or share another system's screen. Obviously you have to provide a username and a password for this, or the entire internet would be able to get at your Mac once you enable these services in the Sharing pane of the System Preferences.

A few years ago, a new way to log in to another Mac appeared: with your Apple ID...

Read the article - posted 2014-10-20

Power use of bluetooth vs Wi-Fi vs wired audio on the iPhone 5

With all this bluetooth audio going on, I wondered: how much power does playing back audio over bluetooth use? So I tested this. The tests then snowballed as I got curious about audio over Wi-Fi, or having bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi on when the phone is idle. All the tests were done on an iPhone 5 with a freshly replaced battery under iOS 7.

Read the article - posted 2014-10-21

→ Continuity in Yosemite/iOS 8: Which network powers what service?

My latest story on Ars Technica, where I look at the networking technologies that power Continuity:

If you have the latest Mac and the latest iPhone or iPad running Apple's latest OSes, and if you have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on, the new Continuity features work like magic. What powers that magic? A wide range of network options, including Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE), peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, regular local networking, and iCloud/iMessage. Each aspect of Continuity actually picks and chooses from these connectivity options, sometimes using more than one.

Read the article - posted 2014-11-03

→ iWork ’14 review: Still waiting for that great leap forward

My Ars Technica review of iWork'14, even though Apple no longer uses that name for Keynote, Pages and Numbers.

The first one I did was iWork'08 back in 2007. Almost year and a half later it was time for iWork'09 and then last year there was iWork'13. I wasn't entirely happy with any of them. I guess some things don't change.

Read the article - posted 2014-11-28

Apple Watch: Moore's Law need not apply

Jean-Louis Gassée over at Monday Note has an interesting article talking about how cameras used to last for decades back in the analog days, while they're obsolete within a year or two now that they're digital. And how the same thing is about to happen to the watch: an old mechanical watch will keep doing its thing for decades (I'm assuming some upkeep here), but not so much for an Apple Watch:

There’s no carrier subsidy for the AppleWatch. That could be a problem when Moore’s Law makes the $5K high-end model obsolete.

I'm not so sure Moore's Law is going to make the Apple Watch obsolete within just a few years.

Read the article - posted 2014-12-08

Connect your iPhone 6 to your Mac for faster charging

I got myself an iPhone 6 last month. Because it has a larger battery than previous iPhones but the iPhone chargers have remained the same since the iPhone 3G days, I was a bit worried about how long it takes to charge the iPhone 6...

Read the article - posted 2014-12-16

The iPhone 6

I wasn't even sure I was going to get the new iPhone this year, even though I've been upgrading iPhones every other year until now. I liked the long battery life of the iPhone 6+ as well as the 1920x1080 screen—until it turned out that Apple uses some weird scaling tricks rather than the native resolution. And I wasn't sure I could handle the size and weight of the 6+. The 6, on the other hand, didn't seem to come with any must-have features. And maybe it's silly, but the notion of having to replace my iPhone 5 cases and its dock also made upgrading significantly less appealing.

But then the sleep/wake button of my iPhone 5 started to act up, and after the earlier battery replacement, I started to doubt whether I'd get another year of good use out of it. So I got the black space gray 64 GB iPhone 6.

Read the article - posted 2014-12-23

The iPhone 6 as a camera

Although it has a number of limitations, the iPhone 6 camera can take really nice photos.

Read the article - posted 2014-12-27

iPhone 6 network speed

The iPhone 6's networking can be very fast, but it all depends on the SIMs, Wi-Fi base stations, frequency bands and transfer protocols.

Read the article - posted 2014-12-28

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