Reviews, Technology

iTunes (The Jealous Girlfriend)

It’s your usual working day. Nothing has changed. You are composed, diligent an whittling away at the keyboard. The Boss walks in greets you with a firm handshake and says “When you have a moment I’d like to talk to you.” Now you’re ambivalent. Will you walk away with a raise or a graze?

This is the same feeling I got on my way back home today. I checked the software updates, saw there were a few to go. Before I left I cast my eyes down the list and saw…iTunes 11. The long awaited, anticipated, supposed-to-change-everything piece of software. My drive home felt a bit like waiting on the chair outside the Boss’s office.

Before I get into some of the awesomeness of iTunes 11, let me get a few things off my chest about the previous versions. The good news is I’ll be writing a follow-up article on iTunes 11 and it’s greatness. There are a few reasons why many mac users (i.e. that means you use it daily, it’s not your weekend toy) find iTunes tedious and even painful at times.

itunes 10

Aesthetics: When iTunes hopped from version 9 to 10 the sidebar was suddenly desaturated. All the vibrant colour in the Music, Movie, and Podcast Library icons was lost. It sounds like a giant knit pick, but when you are weeding through your music on a daily basis, a small highlighted icon can go a long way.

Media Organisation: Many people purchase Music, Movies, Apps and tons of other bits from the iTunes Store. I pretty much only download Apps. The reason for not getting music there, is my taste in heavy metal (my preferred genre) is rather eclectic and not mainstream. Now if I did – in theory – buy everything through one portal then my music would be far easier to organise. Why? Well, because iTunes would do it all for me. I wouldn’t have to touch a thing. In reality we have the odd CD we’ve bought, or an album or two we’ve downloaded (because iTunes wasn’t selling it at the time). Plus we have bits and pieces gathered from different parts of the internet. This makes it difficult to organise.

Then there’s the other charming element when you’ve amassed all of your .avi movie files, iTunes shakes her head and says “Please come back when you have mp4 files, my dear.”

It’s not just a media player. This next part confuses the crap out of most people I meet. iTunes allows you to sync your email contacts, transfer word docs to a compatible app, back up your apps, sync your calendar.

The iPad is a great business tool. The iPhone is one of the most reliable phones I’ve encountered. Yet I don’t like the way iTunes tries to control everything like a jealous girlfriend. For example, if you want to send contacts to the iPad. Logic tells me that I would go to my contacts app and then click a button that talks to my iDevices.

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Where to now?

Apple developers need to decide, is iTunes a media player or a device manager?

At the moment it’s both, which makes things clumsy for the newbie. During it’s genesis iTunes was a music player. Period. It didn’t play video in a hurry and it worked well. Then video compatible version hit the market, later on the iPhone and it’s Apps joined the fray. Very little was done in re-working the way iTunes handles its media and devices. In recent years only the colour and (to some extent) the layout of the interface has changed, not much else.

A good complaint is only as valid as its feasible solution. So here is what I propose…

Redesign / Bring back iSync (or something similar)

I blogged about this great App earlier. The developer blokes need to rework this piece of software so it handles “any sync related aspect” of the iDevices.

Sync is a clipped version of the longer word ‘synchronise’. A better way to look at it is think of creating a mould. Pour the contents of your computer’s media, into the same surroundings (or framework) and you’ve got them ‘synced’.

So ultimately you’ll have iSync that handles any sync, transfer, managing of data, and then you simply use iTunes as your Library Player. This will result in iTunes being far more watered down, but then at the same token, less memory hungry, smaller to update (in terms of bandwidth). If iTunes sticks to being more of a player and less of a manager, then we’ve won half the battle.

 

Side Note: For the wise-guy who’s about to open his mouth about iTunes 11…just wait. Keep your eyes on my RSS feed (or email subscription). There’s a review coming soon…

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Technology

Look after

One of the first signs of being passionate something is when you begin to feel. I used to live with someone who told me that you have to see a motorbike as a person. I bought one end of last year and he told me that I need to get a better exhaust so she can breathe better. I need to service this and that, occasionally give her a good clean.

At first the mention of seeing this piece of steel as a person, made me wrinkle my nose in confusion. As he went on I began to see the relevance. Your important possessions you need to maintain and nurture. I’m no master of the motorbike, however put me behind a computer and my eyes light up much the same.

When I left school my parents bought me a computer as a good-luck-out-there present. That same motherboard lasted me four years. That’s an eternity in the PC world. Think of owning a pair of shoes for 5 years (i.e. ones you use everyday) and you’re on the right track. My mother used to utter a phrase to me, every time something more valuable came into my reach. She simply said, “Look after.” I used to roll my teenage eyes back in angst, when that phrase came out. Now I look at it I can see EXACTLY the meaning behind it. I no longer look like I’m having a small seizure either.

I’ve seen so many people throw down there laptops, or just leave it running down to the last morsels of cache. Here’s a better example… Ever owned a laptop and left it plugged into the charger over night? That’s bad. Very baaaad. If you’re nodding your head it’s time to repent and allow the lithium cycles in your battery to themselves. Every battery (in an ideal world) will run from a vibrant 100% charged to a pitiful 0-10%, every day. For arguments sake a battery comes with 1500 cycles. That means fifteen hundred chances at holding charge for you, while you scamper off to meetings.

The idea is to have as much of that as possible. If you leave your laptop plugged in all the time, you’re hurtling current at the dear battery when none is required, and more importantly you’re stunting its ability to be a battery (slowly lose charge over time). Think of it this way. Do you leave the stove on when you’re done cooking? Nope. It draws power, and keeping it on will burn the shit out of your stove plates. Same idea. Charge when needed, otherwise allow it to sleep like the rest of us (pun duly intended).

Now think of the computer as a human. You paid a couple of grand to get it, so for fuck’s sake give it some TLC. Go and get a comfortable bag for it, and research how to take care of it. This is not a rant at stupid people, but more a reminder at the end of the day all our equipments asks is that we “Look after [it].”

Treat your gadgets tenderly as you would a lover. Chances are they may even help to get you laid, at the end of the day.

PhilosopherPoet

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Reviews, Technology

How to Spot a Fake iPhone 4S (revised)

I’d like to give you a few tips, if you are looking to buy an iPhone 4 or 4S abroad. Maybe you want to buy it through a friend or website selling second-hand products? I’ve often seen people pay either the full price (or very close to the retail price) for iPhone knock-offs. Here I will attempt to educate the ignorant and clear up the details.

This post is a re-working of the previous post I did which caused a lot of debate (partly because I supplied a few incorrect details.) I have broken it up into two sections namely Hardware and Software differences. I’ll refrain from showing the fake I was handling, but rather talk about the nuts and bots of it all. Before I go on… there are two definite ways to spot the difference:

  1. Does the iPhone in question plug into iTunes and transfer information seamlessly?
  2. (Provided you are certain you have an original iPhone with you at the time). Compare the response time of both retina displays. This is everything from the loading time of the applications, the response time of the Home Button, and the fluidity of the applications moving when you slide your finger to the left or right of the screen.
    • A simple example I often use is to display a picture (in the photos app) on each phone. Hold the both phones in portrait view (not necessarily at the same time), then briefly rotate each phone to the landscape view (i.e. turn it from a vertical to a horizontal position.) What you are looking for is the time it takes each picture to spin from portrait to landscape. For the most part the phony iPhones take a lot longer due to the software being different, and most likely the design of the three-axis gyro is pretty poor.

NOTE: For the sake of additional confusion, when I refer to the iPhone 4S I am also talking about the iPhone 4. Both phones have a few differences if you look with the naked eye. When it comes to the physical look and feel of both phones (putting the retina display and 8 megapixel camera aside) they are identical. Put it this way… if I were to turn off both the 4 and the 4S and place them down beside each other. There is only one small give-away that tells you which is the 4S and which isn’t. If you know the answer to this fact, please post it in the comments field. I want to continue to stay on the initial topic.


Hardware Differences

Micro-SIM Tray

Surprise surprise. The iPhone doesn’t take an ‘old size’ SIM card. This means you have to trundle off to you mobile (cellular) service provider and get a new and smaller SIM card. Don’t be a self-righteous ninja and cut the SIM card you already have, to fit into the smaller tray. Not many people get it right, and also if you do you are more likely to jam the SIM tray and cost yourself more money. In my experience it takes far less time and frustration getting the correct size SIM card, than dealing with a home-made MacGyver job that won’t last forever.

If the back of the phone (the part that isn’t the screen) unclips and allows you to insert a SIM card, it is definitely a fake. The iPhone 4S has a micro-SIM tray on the right hand side of the device that pops out (Assuming that the phone is facing you head on with the home button – the round one with the square on it – being at the bottom of the screen).

Rear End

This is the part of the iPhone that is directly behind the screen. With certain counterfeit models, the back of the phone will have a small rectangle showing the size (in Gigabytes). You will never see this on an iPhone 4S. All iPhone 4 and 4S models don’t tell you the hard drive size. The only two ways to tell is to look on the back of the box it came it (provided the box isn’t counterfeit aswell), or go to Settings > General > About and this will tell you the capacity of your device.

Packaging

If you do get an iPhone from a dubious source (i.e. not from an Apple Store, or an authorized reseller) then you need to scrutinize the packaging. If the owner of the phone only hands you the phone, insist on examining the box it came on.

I’ve done this myself out of interest’s sake, and often some telltale signs emerge. The box may say iPhone 4S, and even have the picture of it. When you turn over the (phony) box you will even see someone has had time to print the specifications.

Turn it over again and carefully examine the picture. Often if it’s a hasty job done by a laser-jet printer the image will be slightly pixelated and blurry. Upon looking at the specifications again look at the sharpness of the font. Check the alignment of the information on the rear-end of the box. A few times I’ve seen that the information has been printed out, but whichever tried to fake it, stuck the serial number, model number, IMEI number, etc on skew.

Universal Dock

If you’ve owned any iPod in the past you’ll notice it’s the fat piece that plugs from the bottom of the device into a docking station or into your computer. (The cable that plugs from the bottom of your iDevice into the USB port of a computer is sometimes called a Sync Cable. If you are familiar with the one end of the Sync Cable, then you may be familiar with the port on the iPhone I’m talking about.) Take the iPhone 4S you’re about to buy and make sure it fits into a docking station. If you’re unsure about this, ask a friend for a iPod cable and make sure it plugs into the bottom of the device.

Software Differences

Retina Display (screen)

The term ‘retina’ display you’ve heard a lot of if you’ve been researching or just following Apple products in general. This is a fancy way of saying that the clarity and sharpness of the resolution is ultra high, and mind-blowing. The screen on the fake iPhone 4S is smaller in physical size.

I found that the interface wasn’t very responsive to my finger. I haven’t included a picture of the interface, but I found it took at least 3 seconds before the interface responded to touch. (This was an experience of a poorly thought out replica.) Take time to play with the applications. The apps should launch pretty much 0,25-0,5 seconds after you’ve pressed it. Less technical people would call this instantaneous.

Camera

If you can, also test out the camera. Remember the iPhone 4S has both. Test them. Take a picture. View it. Make sure you can zoom in on it about halfway, without the picture being distorted or grainy. If you’re smart you’ll email that picture to yourself and examine the quality.

Keep in mind that this article contains many technical aspects and gestures the seller may not allow you. Whenever I’ve bought something shitty, most of the time it’s because I rushed into it. Check and double check all the details of the phone.

Apps

Sometimes people leave apps and other personal information on their phones. This is tiresome if you want to start using it, and Aunt Maggie keeps popping up in your contacts. If you have already discovered the iPhone is authentic, ask the previous owner to wipe the iPhone clean.

There are two easy ways to do this.

  • Plug it into iTunes and click Restore (under the Summary tab).
  • On the iPhone go to:

Settings > General > Reset (located at the very bottom) > Erase All Content and Settings

Conclusion

Do your research. Many mistakes are made when the consumer fails to look into a product enough. This is most essential when it comes to technology. You don’t want to be stuck with a toaster that’s talking to you in an Middle Eastern dialect, it’s about time you use Dear Google or RTFM.

PhilosopherPoet

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