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These are tech/gadget related posts. Archive for 2015.

Should Swiss watch makers attempt a smartwatch?

Matt Richman thinks that TAG Heuer, maker of Swiss luxury watches, shouldn't waste time making a smartwatch:

TAG Heuer’s smartwatch won’t sell. There’s no market for it.

In order to have even a chance of being as feature-rich as Apple Watch, then, TAG’s smartwatch will have to pair with an Android phone. However, TAG wearers aren’t Android users. Rich people buy TAG watches, but rich people don’t buy Android phones.

I couldn't disagree more.

Read the article - posted 2015-01-07

Comparing depth of field: iPhone 6 vs camera

In my post about the iPhone 6 as a camera, I talked about how phone cameras have extensive depth of field (objects near and far are both in focus) compared to regular cameras because their sensors are so small. This is even more pronounced in the iPhone 6 because it has a wide angle lens.

So I thought I'd do some comparisons. This is a photo taken with the iPhone 6. The camera is focussed at a distance of maybe 30 centimeters, so the parliament buildings in the distance are out of focus.

Read the article - posted 2015-01-10

→ Why DNS in OS X 10.10 is broken, and what you can do to fix it

Apple replaced the mDNSResponder daemon that is responsible for DNS requests and many other network discovery functions with a new discoveryd, which is rather buggy. By installing the OS X 10.9 mDNSResponder on your 10.10 system, you'll get rid of duplicate network names, wake on demand works again and NAT mappings are created so it's possible to host services on your Mac that are reachable from the outside.

Read the article - posted 2015-01-12

My podcast listening workflow: iTunes/Podcasts, Pocket Casts and (not) Overcast

In 2013, I wrote a pretty long story with advice to podcast app developers. Today, someone on Twitter asked me if I ever found a good solution to the "catching up" use case. I guess the short answer would be "no", but did settle on a podcast listening workflow that works fairly well. So let me explain how I listen to podcasts these days.

Read the article - posted 2015-02-05

iPhone 6 accessories

I got two cases and converted the iPhone 5S dock to accept the iPhone 6.

Read the article - posted 2015-02-06

A battery breakthrough would explain the Apple car

The latest Apple rumor is that they're working on a car. A rumor that is easily dismissed:

The fantastic Apple Car is a fantasy.

But is it? What would it take for Apple to start making cars?

Read the article - posted 2015-02-16

→ HTTP/2 finished, coming to browsers within weeks

So HTTP 2 multiplexes multiple transfers over a single TCP session. It would be cleaner to do this using SCTP, which implements multiple streams natively. But having to figure out whether you can use SCTP or need to use TCP would be a significant complication, while negotiating the use of HTTP 2 over TCP port 80 should be relatively straightforward.

I'm glad the mandatory encryption didn't happen. Encryption is important, but there are times where it's unneeded, and forcing people to use it when they don't want/need it would just make for even more carelessness with certificates than we're already seeing today. For instance, the server serves the exact same copy of this webpage to anyone who requests it, so there's no point in encrypting it. Encryption would just add more time consuming round trips, use more battery power, and require me to buy a certificate.

Apparently most of the browser makers are already on the case, no mention of Safari, though. I'm interested to see how much faster HTTP 2 will be in practice.

Read the article - posted 2015-02-18

The Canon PIXMA MG7550 and the state of printers in 2015

Today, I bought a new printer: a Canon PIXMA MG7550...

Read the article - posted 2015-03-03

More Apple Watch predictions

Unless something really unexpected happens, Apple will further unveil the watch on Monday. I also think it's safe to assume the event will be streamed. If you're in Europe, remember that the time difference is an hour less than usual because the US will "spring forward" to daylight saving time this weekend while we'll be on winter time a few more weeks in Europe. So the event starts at 18:00 CET.

Here are some musings and predictions.

Read the article - posted 2015-03-05

Canon PIXMA printer vs Apple's photo lab: it's pretty much a tie

A few years ago, I ordered some prints through iPhoto. I've also used other services to order prints of digital photos in the past, and those always look just as good as "real" photos, as long as the original file is of sufficient quality. But what about my new Canon PIXMA MG7550? How do photos printed using it compare to photos printed by a lab? See for yourself:

One of these is a print from the lab that Apple uses, the other was printed using the MG7550. Can you tell which is which?

Read the article - posted 2015-03-06

The switch to USB-C

A week ago, Apple unveiled the new MacBook. The crazy thing about this new computer is that it only has two ports: an audio port and a USB type C port for everything else. The audio port is like the one in the MacBook Pros: it looks like a regular 3.5 mm headphone port, but it also supports iPhone-style headphones with a microphone and clicker, and with the right adapter, it does optical digital audio out.

The USB-C connector is very interesting. It's backward compatible with old USB standards at 1.5, 12 and 480 Mbps with a simple adapter cable. It also supports USB 3 and 3.1 at 5 and 10 Gbps, and should be ready for even higher speeds in the future. Like Apple's lightning connector, you can plug it in in both orientations. USB-C can deliver up to 5 amps at 12 or 20 V for a maximum of 100 Watts—in either direction. Last but not least, the USB-C port allows many non-USB protocols to be transmitted over a USB-C cable. So with the right cable, a USB-C port can be used to connect a monitor over HDMI or DisplayPort. This uses wires normally used for 5 Gbps USB connectivity. Depending on how many wires are used for the alternate protocol, the USB speed may have to fall back to 480 Mbps.

Read the article - posted 2015-03-16

Using a Dell P2415Q 4k monitor with a 2013 MacBook Pro

A year and a half ago, in my review of the 2013 MacBook Pro, I wrote:

although it's great to be able to hook up two external displays, it's not so great to have to choose between the small, but high resolution internal display and the big, but low resolution external displays. I find myself working on the internal display a lot, but when I need more screen real estate I switch to the big external display. I sit relatively far from my external display, so the fuzzy pixels aren't too obvious. The high resolution display hasn't completely ruined regular displays for me, but it's certainly got me coveting an external 4k display.

4k displays have gotten pretty affordable now, do I decided to get one...

Read the article - posted 2015-03-22

The Dell P2415Q fits 2.5 pages of A4

After yesterday's post about the Dell P2415Q monitor, I wondered how many sheets of A4 paper fit on the screen. Answer: height-wise, it's a perfect match:

At 52 cm, you can fit almost 2.5 sheets side-by-side. Interestingly, Apple's Preview application (middle) knows the size of the screen, and PDFs zoomed to 100% are exactly the right size. Unfortunately, due to the menu bar, the title bar and toolbar, the A4 PDF won't completely fit on the screen and in full screen mode Preview zooms to 98%.

Pages (left) and Word, on the other hand, still operate under the delusion that screens have a resolution of 72 pixels/points per inch, and need to be set to about 130% zoom.

Permalink - posted 2015-03-23

→ Keynote '09: Connecting Objects with an Adjustable Line

I honestly thought I knew pretty much everything there is to know about Apple's Keynote presentation program. I was wrong. I didn't know this:

When you want to join two objects with a line, the easiest way to do it is to use a connection line (rather than creating a separate line as a shape). Two objects joined by a connection line remain joined even if you reposition the objects on the slide canvas.

Read the article - posted 2015-03-30

→ 9 More Mind-Blowing WebGL Demos

After installing the latest version of the Intel® Power Gadget, I noticed that the GPU speed on my late-2013 13" MacBook Pro never really deviated from 0.55 GHz. (Well, except when playing high definition video, then it goes to 0.4 GHz.)

So I found these WebGL demos. It's really unbelievable what can be done in a browser these days. And yes, most of these will stress both the CPU and GPU to the max.

Read the article - posted 2015-04-25

Bring on the 2.5, 5 and 25 Gbps Ethernet!

I'm at the RIPE meeting in Amsterdam this week. Yesterday, one of the first presentations was one from Alcatel-Lucent's Greg Hankins: Evolution of Ethernet Speeds: What’s New and What’s Next.

Apparently, we're going to get some new Ethernet speeds in the (relatively) near future, such as 2.5, 5 and 25 Gbps. I can't wait!

Read the article - posted 2015-05-12

Review: the Braun Oral-B PRO 6000 electric toothbrush—with bluetooth!

I'll spare you the details, but I recently needed to up my game in the toothbrushing department. I've been brushing my teeth with an entry-level Oral-B electric toothbrush for almost a decade, but I thought I could do better with a more advanced one that provides a warning when you brush too hard. (This can damage your gums.) Turns out there's now a model that has bluetooth. After all, everything is better with bluetooth.

Read the article - posted 2015-05-29

The hell that is Disk Utility

A while back, I gave my sister a 1 TB 2.5" USB HDD for backing up her Mac using Time Machine. But somehow she couldn't perform backups anymore lately. The drive contained two volumes: a regular one and an encrypted one. The regular one wouldn't mount and Disk Utility wouldn't repair it.

No big deal, just wipe the drive and start from scratch, I thought—assuming it's not a hardware problem. That was easier said than done. I ended up spending half the day yesterday just trying to repartition that stupid USB drive.

Read the article - posted 2015-05-31

DAB: mijn eerste digitale radio

Alles in het leven is tegenwoordig digitaal, maar de radio is eigenlijk niet veranderd sinds de invoering van FM in de jaren '50. Maar als we dit promotiefilmpje van een jaar geleden mogen geloven is de radio nu ook hard op weg om digitaal te worden! Dat wilde ik zelf wel eens horen, dus gister heb ik mijn eerste digitale radio gekocht.

Read the article - posted 2015-06-04

Customize Safari Reader font

I think yesterday's WWDC was the longest one I've seen at nearly 2.5 hours. Still, there wasn't much to get excited about. Apple Pay is coming to the UK, but not to the rest of the world. Apple Maps transit directions are coming to two handfuls of cities and all of China, but not to Holland. Apple's new news app is also limited to the US, the UK and Australia. The music stuff may or may not be interesting, but I'm afraid it's going to get in the way of simply playing the music I have on my computer and my iPhone.

But... reading the fine print, there is one thing I can get behind:

A customizable font for Safari Reader!

I must be getting old, but I really can't stand what the web has become these days. The trend to have fixed banners at the top and/or bottom of pages gets on my nerves, because that way you can't scroll a webpage one screen at a time. It's also visually distracting. As are the attention-grabbing ads, which are often animated or video. So there's hardly any text I read on the web without invoking Safari Reader.

However, Safari Reader itself isn't all that great: the width of the text is fixed, so in order to get avoid having too many words per line, which makes it hard to land on the next line, I need to keep the text size bigger than I'd like. (Funny, because 95% of web pages use text that is way too small.)

Safari Reader uses the Georgia font, which isn't terrible, but largish serif fonts just don't take advantage of high resolution displays. So I hope that in addition to the ability to configure a nice sans serif font, we also get to adjust the margins in Safari Reader.

Permalink - posted 2015-06-09

Taking Apple's NAT64 implementation for a spin

As we learned last month, Apple has included a DNS64/NAT64 implementation in the upcoming version 10.11 of the Mac operating system, for the purpose of testing whether iOS applications are "IPv6-clean". I installed the public beta of 10.11 last week, so I was able to see how this DNS64/NAT64 implementation works.

Read the article - posted 2015-07-13

The music problem

After reading stuff like this and even like this, I'm so glad I didn't sign up for Apple's new music service.

Read the article - posted 2015-07-30

Keyboards, trackpads, mice

There have been rumors for a while that Apple would be releasing new keyboards and/or mice and/or trackpads soon. The rumors were right: a week or two ago they released all three. I had actually been waiting for the new keyboards because the Apple wireless keyboard I got in 2008 no longer wants to pair with anything. So that one is a paperweight now. The big white one introduced in 2003 that I also have still works, but that one won't talk to iPhones or Apple TVs.

So enter the new keyboard, mouse, trackpad. So I went to to check them out. And nearly fell off of my chair as I saw the prices: € 120 for the keyboard, € 90 for the mouse and € 150 for the trackpad. So that's 360 euros for all three. For 20 euros more you can buy a Dell Inspiron 15 3000 laptop!

To add insult to injury, the new laptop really isn't very good from the looks of it. I've heard some people comment that the new full-size left and right cursor keys are actually worse than the old half-height ones because now they're harder to identify by touch. The key travel is also quite shallow, shallower than that of the old one, I believe.

None of this would be a deal breaker by itself, as was looking for an extra keyboard, as I already have a big IBM Model M that covers my daily typing needs.

I had heard about Logitech bluetooth keyboards that will let you switch between three different paired devices quickly and easily before: the Logitech K810 illuminated keyboard for Windows and the Logitech K811 for the Mac. These get rave reviews. The K811 looks a lot like Apple's wireless keyboard, but adds backlighting like Apple's laptop keyboards have. At around 100 euros, this already looked like a much better deal than Apple's new wireless keyboard.

But it turns out there's now also the Logitech K380 multi-device keyboard. I got mine for € 50.

Read the article - posted 2015-10-24

Audiokwaliteit: DAB vs FM vs kabel vs MP3

Een paar maanden geleden heb ik een DAB- (digital audio broadcasting) radio gekocht. Ik heb toen geschreven over hoe die beviel, maar één aspect had ik nog niet echt onder de loep genomen: de audiokwaliteit.

Read the article - posted 2015-10-25

→ Mini-review: iWork ‘15 brings a lot of little changes but no headliners

My review of iWork '15 for Ars Technica.

Read the article - posted 2015-11-17

How many USB-C ports will the first USB-C equipped MacBook Pro have?

Earlier this year I already talked about the switch to USB-C. But I have more to say about the subject, especially regarding the MacBook Pro. This was also posted on the Ars Technica forums.

Read the article - posted 2015-12-06

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