It Was Only an Apple Event

Filed Under Computers & Tech on September 11, 2009 | 4 Comments

I know it’s been a while since Wednesday’s event, but I wanted some time to reflect before committing my thoughts to bits. I’m certain that I was disappointed, what I’m not so sure of is why. Was it because my expectations were unrealistically high? Or was it because it truly was a below average performance from Apple? After two days of careful consideration I’m more inclined to believe it’s the latter than the former. Maybe it wasn’t below average, but it definitely wasn’t anything above average.

There was not a single earth-shattering revelation, and worse still, we didn’t even get what the most conservative pundits were expecting in many regards. The biggest let-down was the iPod Touch. Apple spent ages praising it, but did nothing of any note with it. It was almost like they were trying desperately to prove to us that we were silly to expect a new version. That, or they had something big planned that fell through, and they did their best to make lemonade from a lemon. Either way, we didn’t get the one thing I was most certain about, a real update to the iPod Touch. I was proven right about the retention of the classic though, which was nice (see my full predictions here).

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So, we’re just hours away from Apple’s “It’s only music but we like it” special event. I’m not really that excited about it – but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised. In some ways these Apple events are a little boring because we know what we’ll be getting, new iPods. I think it’s pretty much a given that we’ll get a new iPod Touch with power to rival the iPhone 3GS, and I’m assuming the camera rumours will be true. I’m highly sceptical that we’ll get a camera on the iPod Nano though, and even more sceptical that the nano will go Touch-screen. Many people are expecting an end to the classic line, but I’m not. It’s too soon. Flash prices have not yet come down enough to sell a reasonably priced 128MB iPod Touch, so I think the classic will stay, it just won’t get any serious revamping. I’m not in the market for a new iPod – I have my iPhone, so what I’m more interested in is the other stuff we may or may not get.

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Photo of the Week 77 – Ennis Friary

Filed Under Photography on August 12, 2009 | 1 Comment

This is my 67th Photo of the Week, yet it is only the second monochrome image to make it into the series. I think this is because I absolutely adore colour, and feel rather out of my depth when colour gets extracted from the equation. It took me hours to process this shot the first time, then I got some feed back from people on a few flickr groups, and then it took me another hour or so to have another go and come up with something I not just liked, but liked a lot. Most of the time I only revert to monochrome as a fall-back, but I’m going to try change that, and spend more time experimenting with monochrome precisely because I’m not comfortable with it.

Returning to this image, I reverted to monochrome here because I didn’t have a choice. I had once chance to get a short visit to the priory, so I had to make do with what ever I got – which was mostly rain! At the very end I got a few shots in good sun, but I didn’t have the opportunity to re-shoot this shot in sun because of time pressures. So, what I got was an image with a blown out sky, a flat looking stone building, and almost no colours to speak of. I was either going to bin it, or go monochrome. Determined not to waste the shot, I went for the monochrome option – deciding texture was going to be what I needed to concentrate on – in particular, I wanted to recover details in the sky, and enhance the details in the stonework of the building.

Since I’d shot in RAW I started by tone-mapping the image to recover detail in the sky, and also to enhance details in walls. Then I converted to monochrome using the monochrome mixer in Aperture, before using Aperture’s dodge & burn plug-in to correct some side effects of the tone-mapping and to pick out the spire of the church a little better. After seeking and getting some opinions from others I also used some pretty dramatic levels adjustments to really push up the contrast and really make those textures jump out.

Ennis Friary
on FlickrFull-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 18-55mm (D40 kit lens)
  • Exposure: 1/400 sec
  • Focal Length: 18mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Processing: Generated by tonemapping a single RAW file in Photomatix Pro, then converting to monochrome in Aperture, dodging & burning in Aperture, as well as applying some other tweaks in Aperture.

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This is not going to be a full rundown of everything that was announced at Apple’s 2009 World Wide Developers Conference, not even nearly. It’s just my opinions on the things that caught my attention. If you don’t know what Apple announced you can watch the Keynote on Apple’s site.

Lets start by having a look at how I did on my predictions. I did pretty well over-all, as is to be expected when you don’t predict anything too exciting or special, but I did get one very major prediction wrong. I was adamant that there would be no new hardware at this evening, and what did Phil kick off with? New MacBook Pros! That was a total surprise, and not just to me.

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I’m cutting it mighty fine this year, Phil Schiller gets up on stage in a matter of a few hours to deliver the WWDC 2009 keynote, but I still want to get a few predictions in beforehand. First and foremost, I expect this to be a very two-sided affair, iPhone, and OS X 10.6 SnowLeopard. I don’t expect we’ll see anything else, except maybe, just maybe, a pre-announcement about some sort of tablet device.

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Thoughts on iPhone OS 3.0

Filed Under Computers & Tech on March 18, 2009 | 4 Comments

Yesterday Apple held a press event to release details of the next version of the iPhone software, called version 3.0. You can read some of the highlights and watch a video of the whole presentation at Apple’s website. I sat down and watched it late last night, and have to say I was impressed. I was expecting to finally get some of the things I’ve really wanted, but I was blown away by the scope of this new release, and in particular, just how many new tools they are putting into the hands of the developers. Apple are notorious for inflating numbers through generous interpretations of terms, but even when you bear that in mind, 1,000 new APIs for developers to use is impressive, as indeed is 100 new user-level features from Apple themselves.

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As those of you who follow me on Twitter, or listen to the many Podcasts I appear on may well know, I recently got a copy of Apple’s pro photo editing program Aperture 2. (Thanks again Allison, it was a great Christmas present!) In case people don’t know what Aperture is, it’s a tool for sorting, organising and editing your photos – a very advanced version of iPhoto if you will. It’s really designed for people who shoot RAW and who shoot a lot, but it’s not a pixel editor like PhotoShop. The closest analogue would be Adobe’s Lightroom. Also, for context, I’m moving to Aperture from iPhoto’08, so I’ll be using iPhoto as a reference point a lot while explaining what I do and don’t like about Aperture.

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I’ve held off a while on writing this post to be sure the Apple Distortion Field had fully dissipated before I committed my thoughts to record. First and foremost, Phil did good. He was not as good as Steve, but when you compare him to that AT&T guy who came on during the iPhone Keynote back in 2007 with his cue cards, Phil was fantastic! He did show some signs of nerves if you paid close attention, but who wouldn’t on that stage!

I’ve heard a lot of very negative things about the keynote and to be honest, I doubt we’d have heard half as many if Steve had presented the keynote. The basic reality is that the iPhone announcement at MacWorld 2007 was the exception, not the norm. Just about every MacWorld keynote pails in comparison. There’s a very good reason for this, no company, not even Apple, can come up with something as revolutionary as the iPhone every year. We’re now two years on and none of the copycat devices come close the fit and polish of the iPhone. Apple have completely changed the Smart Phone industry, despite all the scoffing from people like Steve Balmer less than two years ago. The iPhone keynote was amazing, and people have very short memories, so the expectation now is earth-shattering new hardware every year, and Apple simply cannot deliver that. Sure, the expectation is unreasonable, but it’s there none-the-less.

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So, we’re just a matter of days away from MacWorld, and when I’d traditionally be writing my “What’s Steve got up his Sleeve” post, I’m instead wondering just what it means that Phil schiller will be giving the keynote presentation instead of Steve, and that next year, there won’t even BE an Apple Keynote at MacWorld! There’s a few ways to interpret it, one is that Steve must be at death’s door. IMO not likely, to lie about his health if it really was that bad would literally be criminal, people would go jail for that! Another possibility is that Apple have nothing interesting to say so they’re sending a lackey since Jobs couldn’t be bothered giving a boring keynote. I don’t think I buy this either, Phil Schiller may not be Steve Jobs, but he’s a very big guy in Apple, I mean he’s Senior VP for World Wide Product Marketing!

What I think is much more likely is that this is the continuation of something we saw at the recent notebook event. Apple are working to dismantle the idea that Jobs IS Apple. At the notebook event Steve was more of an MC than a speaker, bringing out lots of Apple big-wigs to deliver different parts of the presentation. Having another big-wig actually run a big presentation is the next logical step. Whether or not Jobs is going anywhere any time soon, it is not in Apple’s interest for the impression that Jobs IS Apple to continue. I mean we’re almost getting to the stage where every time Jobs sneezes Apple’s stock tanks! Regardless of how well or not Steve is, that has to end because he can’t stay with Apple forever. Apple need to show that they are lead by a team who have a vision, rather than one guru without whom Apple is nothing.

So, with that out of the way, what do I think Phil will deliver for us at the keynote?

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The iPhone on the Go

Filed Under Computers & Tech on October 16, 2008 | Leave a Comment

I’m on my way literally clean across the country as I type this. This is my first real test of the iPhone ok the go. First impressions are very good. GPS is working better than I expected and 3G coverage is a lot more common than I’d expected. I just downloaded the WorsPress app I’m posting this from over 3G in Litrim of all places! Definitely better than I’d dared hope. Also, the iPhone’s auto correction REALY comes into it’s own when you’re typing in a moving car!

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