Apple Hardware

October 2016 Apple announcements

Is it just me, or is Apple reverting to gimmicks?  Touch bar so I can be a DJ and get cramps trying to jam all of my fingers on a four inch touch strip?

Let me see, who else can use it…

…I know, I could use it to replace the ribbon in Office…  Oh, I  don’t like the ribbon. 

Novel idea for sound, screen control, but not for apps.  And two of the four new models don’t have it.  I it time for Johnny to  head Special Projects?

Apple Hardware, iOS, iPads, Microsoft Hardware

Are #Apple and #Microsoft in collusion to kill the high-end #tablet?

I will refer you to My iPad Pro Wish List. This was a wish list we in the professional community had been putting together for a couple of years before I published my summary. So let’s see how I did:

My iPAD Pro Wish List:

1. I expect 14″ or so
2. QHD
3. True background processing on apps I designate
4. Remote access from my PC/Mac/BSD/Linux
5. Active stylus
6. USB 3 port capable of cow line hub
7. OSX with shell
8. Either provide better on screen keyboard options, or open it up to third parties, NOW

What Apple released in the iPAD Pro:

  1. Check
  2. Check
  3. Nada
  4. Nada
  5. Check
  6. Nada
  7. Nada
  8. Nada

While we’re at it, let’s see what Microsoft released in their Surface Pro 4:

  1. Check
  2. Check
  3. Check/Windows 10
  4. Check
  5. Check
  6. Check
  7. Check – CMD/PowerShell/Bash
  8. Nada

Microsoft appears to be the winner of the Professional Tablet.  Yes I know that MS is providing a souped up version of MS-Office for the iPAD Pro, but the Surface will run Office 365.

So does Microsoft win this race?

No, neither Microsoft, nor Apple wins.  From my perspective, and three years after the above wish list, a Professional tablet at the high end, should have 1TB storage, and 16GB’s of RAM, and be capable of running VMware Workstation or such virtualization. Today it should also have fifteen hours, true battery life.   Apple fails.  Microsoft will work, albeit not with the battery life.  At least Apple doesn’t play games with battery life, when they say ten hours, they mean ten hours of active use.

So Microsoft wins, right.  NO!!!

Both Mr. Cook and Mr. Nadella have priced both devices out of the reach of the ordinary professional.  My current laptop is an HP Envy 15 with a 3200 x 1800 touch screen, 1TB of HDD and 16GB’s of RAM, stock from HP.  I added a 512GB SSD card for less than $300.  The total package cost me about $1,300.

  • Mr. Cook would like me to buy an iPAD Pro for $2,000 that can not run a VM, nor OSX.
  • Mr. Nadella would like me to buy a Surface Pro 4 for over $2,000, with a quarter of the power of my current laptop, to the same specs.

(But here is a secret;  they both have low-end devices with very low RAM and storage, for Corporate use;  you see corporations aren’t interested in power, and the would rather you store and run your data from the cloud than locally;  just in case you thought the low end tablets were for ordinary users).

So either the success of the iPhone and iPAD has gone to their heads, and they believe the can now rip-us off big time by marking up a $100 memory module for $900.00,, or they have both decided and colluded to kill the tablet market.

Which is it?  You tell me.

iOS, iPhone, Laptops and Two-in-ones, Uncategorized

#Apple’s #TouchID implementation misguided

Whoever is guiding Apple’s TouchID implementation is severely misguiding Apple and the public who uses it. 

The idea behind biometric security is that it is infinitely more difficult to crack than a PIN or Password. Where a password or passphrase in today’s marketing techno-lingo may be composed of eight or more ASCII characters, a biometric signature may have tens of thousands of combinations. Even a 30 character password cannot compete with such a combination. Not that it can’t be broken, but it would be more difficult and time consuming. And on a device that can lock and/or wipe itself after a number of incorrect tries, it should be IRRELEVANT.

( Now let me state for the record that a PIN in and of itself, does NOT constitute a password or passphrase in my opinion. If a vendor such as Apple or other security providers allow their users to consume PINs, I would allow for dual authentication on every boot. )

I also understand the reasoning behind dual token authentication.   “I go to work and I can use dual tokens to sign in in the morning, and work all day. In a multi-tenant managed environment dual token is a great authentication method when managing different tenant infrastructures.”  

I can also think of the following industries which can benefit:

  • Nuclear plants
  • Munitions depots
  • Utility distribution grids
  • Aircraft cockpits
  • Banks

I can also understand use of the dual token as implemented by Apple in the following circumstances:

  • When booting, in a ‘motion-less‘ profile;  that means NOT while in a moving vehicle, and not during physical movement such as walking. Those are dangerous activities to be engaged in while trying to enter a passphrase. Legislatures are passing law after law to curb such activities, while Apple is actively opposing the legislation.  

If Apple wants to implement a dual authentication on boot then allow the user to set the elapsed time, say one to four weeks. 

  • Under no circumstances should dual authentication be required after a boot when using biometric authentication:
  1. Not when I’m shopping
  2. Not when I’m driving
  3. Not when I’m walking or jogging (not that I jog)
  4. And certainly not when I’m in line waiting to pay, unless the transaction is over a limit, I, the user has set

Lest anyone thinks I’m beating on Apple, I’m not. This applies to all security implementors in any company and product. 

What do you think?

Apple Hardware, iOS

Apple no longer has trust in Touch Id

It appears #Apple no longer has any trust in #TouchID. Mr. @tim_cook, I must admit when it was first released I was excited about the technology. I saw it as a solution to only having a short four digit pin as protection for my iPhone and iPad and it’s contents. So I began using a 26 digit passphrase for my security knowing i wouldn’t have to constantly type it in.

Boy was I wrong. With every update of iOS Apple has made it more difficult to continue using TouchId with a long passphrase. 

First, I had to type the pass phrase after every reboot. Apparently the safety focus groups believe in making you type while you are driving. Damn the statistics, they know better.  (Did they come from MS?) 

After another update, they made me enter my pass phrase after 48 hours of non- use. 

Now with iOS 9, they want my pass phrase after 48 hours of iPhone/iPad non-use or use.  So her I was trying to check my morning mail today, and it wants my pin. I was using my phone all day and evening yesterday. 

Of course, they have changed the pin length requirements to six digits. Wow, now that is more secure than a long pass phrase.

So what would you do?  Probably what I’ve done. Stop using a long pass phrase and go back to a pin.  Was that Apple’ intent all along?

Because I don’t want to keep re-entering a 26 digit pass phrase every two days, nor every time my phone acts up on the road and I have to reboot when driving. Which, honestly, does not happen often. But when it does, it sucks. 

I can live with the long pass phrases but the idea of having TouchId was to have trust of a biometric Id.  Does Apple no longer T R U S T.  It?

HP Hardware, Laptops and Two-in-ones

What’s with HP tablets and laptops?

it isn’t time to retool as they’ve been telling us through the last four or five CEO’s.   Then what is it?

I own and have owned Compaq/HP laptops for as long as I can remember. They are not haute, but they have been solid performers. My current is a quad i7 Haswel.

But HP is behind and getting farther behind:

  • Battery life
  • Battery size, can’t get bigger batteries any more
  • BIOS locked down;  simple features can only be enabled on the Business line, even if my consumer laptop cost over $2,000
  • Screen resolution is still stuck at a maximum is 1920×1080, and can’t be seen outdoors unless you turn the brightness up all the way, ergo 50 minutes battery life
  • Touch screens are a premium;  pen screens are non-existent
  • Weight, generally they could be used to anchor a cruise ship

Even the new Spectre 360, which I would have loved to own is limited to:

  • Small screen
  • No pen
  • Limited Memory
  • One size fits all battery
  • Duo core M series CPU
  • 1920×1080 dpi
Apple Hardware, iPads, Laptops and Two-in-ones

iPad Pro

and while I’m at it Mr. Tim Cook, instead of spending time on unneeded frills as the watch you’ve released, you should have spent time on the iPad Pro. My third generation iPad is getting slow, and there is no room left. See my earlier post about what I want to see in an iPad Pro. 

I love the new MacBook, by the way.  I was almost convinced to get a 17″ MacBook but the specs are night and day. And I’ve been waiting for a new iPad. But at this rate I may be getting a new Windows laptop and a Surface Pro 4!

Oh, and I will not be seen driving around in an Apple carriage. Too afraid of what the little critters will do when I park it. 

Ok, so I’m not a comedian, what do you want?

Apple Hardware, iOS

iPad Air 2, truly nothing but Air, @tim_cook

Well if that wasn’t a sleepy announcement I don’t know what would be. Excuse me while I nap…

So now we know how much Apple listens to their customers; as much as Microsoft. Way to go Tim. We’ be only been asking for a larger size iPad, the Pro for three years. We said we’d rather not have to lug around a hard keyboard if the soft keyboard was of full size and functionality. We said we wanted more memory. And OS X running under a windowed iOS and we said we wanted 256GB and 512GB flash options. We also asked to leave the form factor alone while increasing size and resolution. And more battery life.

Did Tim Cook et al take heed? Of course not, they’re too busy copying Microsoft’s frolicking.

So it appears the only one who had listened to our whispering was Steve Balmer. Well, just…

Mobile phones, PIM’s and Tablets

Review of Griffin Technologies Reveal case for iPhone 6 Plus

Just got two of these cases for our iPhone 6 Pluses. The case adds imperceptibly to the weight or the feel of the phone, and appears to protect well. We love the clear back which allows the iPhone’s rear case to show clearly through. Great in portrait mode as well, although I would have preferred a little more ‘stiction’ on the surrounding grip. It is a large phone which I use with one hand, there is a tendency for my hand to slip when reaching all the way across the phone. The only negative, and the reason I can’t give this case five stars, is that the raised lip around the front of the case, which by the way protects the phone’s glass in case of frontal drops, also hinders raising the Control Panel. In order to raise the Control Panel, you have to swipe up from the edge of the phone right around the middle of the spacebar. Not a problem in Portrait mode, but definitely a problem in Landscape mode where the protective lip is only a couple of millimeters from the screen edge. Perhaps, Grifin Technologies can flatten out the lip in that area of the case in the next version.

Apple Hardware, iPads, iPhone, Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

Rejuvenation of TenGo soft keyboard from Windows CE days for mobile devices

The best soft keyboard for mobile devices in Windows CE days, was TenGO.  This was a T9 type, predictive type-ahead keyboard, however, it provided for two alpha-buttons on each keyboard row, see illustration.  To type you simply entered the word by pressing one of the three six alpha-buttons, and the predictive type-ahead engine did a really cool job of figuring out the word you wanted to enter.  If it was not in the dictionary, you could select the actual letter in the alpha block, by pressing the soft key the number of times the position of the character represented I the block.  For example if you wanted to enter the character ‘d’ outside of the predictive type-ahead engine, you would press the ‘asdfg’ block three times.  Once a new word was entered it went in to the user dictionary and was available to the T9 engine at the next entry of that word.

I hope that the maker of this keyboard, will resurrect it now, not only on iOS but for Windows and Android mobile devices.  It was awesome.  TenGO are you listening?

tengo-thumb-2[1]

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

To Surface Pro 3 or not to Surface Pro 3, #5

It appears I am in a quandary, which is whether to convert from my iPad 3 to a Surface Pro 3.

As I’ve discussed in past blogs, the Surface Pro 3 is not a consumer tablet, and should not be expected to have the same lifetime as a consumer tablet.  I’m currently upgrading iPhones and iPads every two years;  I think the Surface Pro 3 will definitely have to last me at least three years.

I really would like to have the 512GB flash, but I can’t see spending $2,000 for it.  Especially when the difference between the i5 and i7 appears to be trivial.  But the top i5 model only comes with 256GB’s.  Will 256GB’s be enough for the extended time I will be keeping the new tablet?  In all likelihood, I just can see spending $700 for an extra 256GBs of storage, so I’ll probably look at the i5/256GB at $1,200.  Well that takes care of the hardware.

Now I’ll need a case.  It will have to be a book type case like on my iPad, so I can have it tilted at an angle to type on the soft-keyboard.  The little trinket in the back of the Surface Pro 3 which makes it stand at an angle is useless for me, unless I am watching a movie.  So probably another $100 for a case.

That’s about $1,500 total.  My last iPad cost $900.  I guess it isn’t bad considering what I’ll be getting.

But, wait a minute…  this is the company that:

  • Killed many programs I used, such as Flight Sim, Money, etc.
  • Got everyone on board Windows Media, and at version 9, killed them.  Now I have my entire music library on WMV, but since it is a dead technology, I have to find another encoder and convert my library to.  Box Music?  Nah…
  • Killed TechNet Professional subscriptions, not because they were losing money, but because the Cloudheads decided that the less admins that were left qualified to run the software, the more business it would draw to Azzure.
  • And for the money I’d have to spend on this deal, they can’t even throw in Office?

It goes back to two things:  a) the entire loyalty issue.  If Microsoft can’t be loyal to me, why should I be loyal to Microsoft?  Who has the bigger pockets me or them?  And all they appear trying to do is make my pockets smaller. b) A ship that is broadside to the wind;  a ship without a captain, a ship without a destination, a ship which will eventually founder.  Am I being a little too strong here you think?  Please tell me.  Remember, I am an MS fanboy…

Hhmm!  I think I’ll wait and see what Apple does with the iPad Pro.  May not have much of a choice in the end.

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

The Surface Pro 3, #4

I’ve been comparing the Surface Pro with my current tablet, the iPAD 3.  First, let me say that the Surface Pro 3 is NOT a consumer device.  Surface Pro 3 is a professional and enthusiast device.  I do not think Microsoft intended it as a consumer device, I’m sure the intended it for what it is.  It will not sell in the same numbers as the iPad or the Kindle.  The Surface Pro 3 is a pre-emptive shot at the iPad Pro, if such a thing exists, and is released by Apple.  End of topic.

This is where things stand at the moment, as I see them, from both a hardware and software perspective:

Hardware

Feature Surface Pro 3 IPAD 3
Screen Size Good Inadequate
Screen Aspect Ratio Good Good
Main Memory Good Inadquate for multi-tasking
Storage Good (i5/i7) Inadequate
Wifi Good Good
Cell None (not sure if this is really required, I can always use my iPhone to conect) Good
USB Good (Can use multi-dongle hub to increase ports) Inadequate
Battery endurance (probably) inadequate Inadequate
Pen Computing Good Inadequate
iTunes Music and Video Good – assumed since it runs Windows Pro Good
Apps Good – Desktop
Inadequate – Tablet
Good – TabletInadequate – Desktop
Soft keyboard Unknown Inadequate – works well in landscape mode, but entirely too man mode changes to get to keys required
Software included Inadequate – should have Office included, but can always install Libre Office Full suite – iWorks
Cameras Good for tablet Good for tablet
Screen Orientation Unknown Good portrait
Good landscape
Enterprise Tools Good – runs same tools as Windows 8.1 Pro Inadequate
Communications Tools Good – runs same tools as Windows 8.1 Pro Inadequate, no X, limited ssh, limited background running
Hardware keyboard Inadequate Inadequate
Weight Inadequate Good

 Software/Apps

Ipad Apps Surface Pro Desktop Apps
GoodReader None equivalent
Zinio Magazine Reader Zinio Magazine Reader, tablet and desktop
PressDisplay (Digital Newsparer) Tablet App, Web viewer
Feedly (RSS feed) Web viewer
iWorks None, perhaps Libre Office
OneNote OneNote
Amazon Prime Video Web viewer
Itunes Podcasts None equivalent
Radio/TV apps None equivalnet, most in Web viewer
Vuescan Vuescan
Worldcard (Business card scanner) None, Tablet Apps want access to private data
Apple Maps None
Clock None

So that’s how I see things at the moment. Check my next blog for my thoughts on whether to go the Surface Pro route or not.

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

The Surface Pro 3, #3

Here is an Intel comparison of the CPUs in the various models of the SP3:
SP3 CPU Comparison

From what I see, the i3 is brain dead. There is no turbo boost, and it runs the slowest of the three. As far as pricing is concerned, at $799 base and with only 64GBs of RAM AND LESS THAN 50GBs usable, I’d opt for an iPad Air.

The i7 appears to be slightly better in turbo mode than the i5, but slower by 200Mhz in standard operations. At $1,549/1,949 depending on 256GBs versus 512GBs, minus about 50GBs for the OS it is very pricy. Consider also that it does not include O365 or the keyboard cover.

Which brings us to the i5. The i5 has a faster base rate, with a slightly lesser turbo than the i7 models. It also has a slightly lesser GPU, but both run at the same exact rates. At $1,299, the i5 with 256GBs seems to be the best value of the three. If Microsoft considered throwing in a full copy of O365 and a keyboard, I’d be awfully tempted to go get one.

Which brings me to thought for future… The Metro/Modern UI sucks as bad as a mint julep through a straw with a hole in it. I’ve had to use it on \\Doros, my new uber box, but that is another topic.

I have a few apps on my iPad which have become indispensable, like PressReader, GoodReader and iWorks, and I’m sure there are more. But again, that’s another topic.

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

@timcook Microsoft threw the first shoe or the Surface Pro 3 #2

I still haven’t seen it, but one big concern I have is Office. So does Microsoft really expect me to shell out $2,000+, and still buy an O365 subscription? It isn’t happening.

I still want to see what the total street cost of a usable machine is. I could probably live with an i5 model, depending on the number of cores, with 8GBs main memory and 512GBs of flash.

Another point to investigate, is that supposedly the cover keyboard is mechanical. I kind of doubt that, but even if it is it may not be Cherry, it maybe a Chinese ripoff with non-tactile switches. Time will tell.

And my last question, does it come with Windows Pro, or Windows (Home)?

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

@timcook Microsoft threw the first shoe

The Surface Pro 3 is approaching usefulness. The only issue I have is the dance they did around battery life. Things I like about it:

1. Main memory (RAM)
2. Storage, I need 512GB
3. Full OS
4. High resolution display
5. Intel CPUs
6. Active pen
7. A real file system
8. A real computer aspect ratio, based on a letter sized page, not an HD tv’s

What I don’t like:

1. Short Battery life
2. Short Battery life
3. Short Battery life
4. A little smaller than I’d like. I was hoping for a 14″

I’m waiting to see the specs of the iPad Pro; what do you guys think I should get?

Apple Hardware, iPads, Laptops and Two-in-ones

@timcook I’m waiting for the #iPadPro

1. I expect 14″ or so
2. QHD
3. True background processing on apps I designate
4. Remote access from my PC/Mac/BSD/Linux
5. Active stylus
6. USB 3 port capable of cow line hub
7. OSX with shell
8. Either provide better on screen keyboard options, or open it up to third parties, NOW.

I’m really getting tired of companies that provide a great concept device, but then sit on it. IOS did not need a face lift as much as it needed an update of its Human Interface.

IT & IT Professionals, Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft wonders why they don’t have geek loyalty…

Well, let’s count the ways they’ve burned the hands that feed them…

1. The #ribbon. We spoke loudly against it. We asked for a ribbon and a File/Edit menu alongside.

We were ignored.

2. MS killed Aces studio, makers of FlightSim.
We were flabbergasted the would kill one of the top geek products.

3. They gave us Vista.

We were at our wits end, that they wanted us to roll it out to users.

4. They gave us more ribbons.

We were astounded to find out the GUI customer forums had been replaced by… Yes men, err, MS managers.

5. Along the way They also killed Exchange public groups, I think they were called?

Hello? Have they heard of f.cebook, or worse, yammer?

6. Then they go kill off WME; I draw the line there, all my digitized images, music and movies are using WME encoding.

What is it that I’m supposed to use now? XBOX? That’s what they’re selling or spinning off right?

7. Let’s not forget the Labyrinth that is Windows 8? Which users did they talk with that convinced them we all want a single Windows OS for our PCs our tablets, phablets, phones, cars, and toilets? Sure it would have sounded beat, for a day maybe, then reality should have set in.

Perhaps that was the issue… Reality.

8. Finally they expect us to turn over our apps, and this is not only MS but other dynamic compute providers, for them to manage in the cloud.

We’re supposed to train the low payed minions they hire to manage and run all this, and then we’re supposed to slip quietly to welfare, or some cardboard boxes under some bridges

9. Fooled you, you thought I was finished, didn’t you? Then they kill off TechNet subscriptions.

Oh yeah I know the web site is still there. But have you run any searches lately that don’t bring back 90% Cloud responses? And where do they say we can see these grandiose systems they will be developing in the feature?

TechCloud, of course. And let’s not forget TechEd, or should I say CloudEd? Even the great propagandist, Mr Thurrott himself said there were slim pickings if you wanted anything but cloud.

10. Now finally they pissed off or on, same difference the vendors that were making hardware for MS software, and perhaps justifiably so.

But what does MS DO? They start making the same old cheap, low end crap they complained the vendors were making. Movie proportioned screens instead of paper proportioned; low resolution screens, short battery life; unimaginative and crappy software; oh, but they are trying to sell them at Apple price levels.

I also don’t know what they will do in the future, but I’ve spent thousands on WinCE devices whose OS may have lasted six months. But I couldn’t upgrade because they’d changed the hardware specs.

So dear Mr Nadella, (@satyanadella)?

Do you see why all of these hardware vendors, including Intel, are going with Chrome or Android?

Do you see why many companies moving to the cloud are doing so, but still managing their own data?

Do you see why us geeks are not likely to support you in the future?

And in all honestly, your office products aren’t innovative; they are weird and bloatware. As for server systems, the only thing not in the market elsewhere is Exchange.

But I’m sure MS will get around to that as we’ll.

Wow, I feel as if I need to spend some time in purgatory after that entire tirade.

The unfortunate part is that I really don’t have any answers. Except for split the OS GUI’s to their device parts, increase the hardware quality and drop the cost, and finally lose the darned ribbon.

Good night.

Apple Hardware, iTunes Windows

iOS 7 Home Screen Editing is limited, in worse ways in iTunes 11.1.1.11 #2

Following up on my last post about iOS 7 Home Screen Editing limitations, I thought that using iTunes would make for a better experience.  And it does, since I am more adept, more accurate and faster with a mouse than the touch editor.  However, iTunes (Windows) did not cooperate.  It appears that iTunes has worse Home Screen Editor problems than iOS 7.

  1. The buffer is definitely smaller;  you can go about four or five changes at most before you have to APPLY, or the iTunes Home Screen Editor goes to lunch.  Usually, you double click to open a screen or menu item and it simply sits there, looking back at you.
  2. If you try to drag and drop from one Home Screen Menu to another sub-menu that is not displayed in the window, you can’t nudge your mouse to the bottom of the scroll list to have it scroll down.  So you are limited to moving apps between menus, but not sub-menus.  You then have to revert to your iPhone to organize your sub-menus.
  3. If you have multiple Home screens and are moving apps between menus between the multiple screens, after about two or three moves, you promote the Home screen and Menu you want to move the app from and click and hold to select it, but it doesn’t select that item.  It selects an item one or two positions to the right of the one you clicked on.  If you’ve already moved some items from the left side of the menu, you can’t select the items remaining on the right side of the menu by clicking and holding on them.  You must click and hold one or two app positions to the left of the app you want to move in order to select it, and move it to a different Home Screen and menu.