Microsoft's upgrade problem

It has been enlightening to read all of the stories from people struggling to upgrade to Windows 10 because it feels very familiar to me. The main issue I have had time and time again with Windows is being able to download updates without one of a multitude of problems popping up. 

For all of Apple's faults when it comes to cloud stuff, I have never had a single problem upgrading the OS.

So what should you do if you own an Android phone?

So what should you do if you own an Android phone? That’s up to you. I can’t tell you what to do with your life, but these are your choices.

You can keep your Android phone with that modified version of Android that your carrier or manufacturer has decided to put on it, and get security updates weeks late, or never (if you have a Nexus you’re better off, but who knows if Google is going to keep making Nexus phones in the future).

Or you can root your phone and install the excellent and more swiftly updated Android-based operating system CyanogenMod on it. This is a good alternative, but it’s not trivial to install CyanogenMod, and updates for certain phones depend on volunteers, so, again, you might not get them as soon as you’d wish.

Or, lastly, you can give up, switch to Apple and buy an iPhone.

As much as my old self will hate me, I’m going to choose the last option.

The full article is here. So there you go. Buy an iPhone and be happy...

This Is Ground

The Mod Laptop 2, Your Mobile Office / a customizable case carefully designed to house and carry your daily essentials. A unique felt wall cradles and protects your laptop. A canvas lined pocket is tailored to your tablet. And, in true Mod fashion, the piece is fitted with the same high-power magnets as the Mod Tablet 2, allowing for seamless integration of our full line of Mod inserts, while also offering generous housings for your power adapter, cords, pens, pencils, stylus, notepads, phone, hard drive, battery pack, glasses, cards, and currency.

I need to hide my credit card when visiting this site.

Are we evolving to walk and text?

Another reason we may not be complaining about texting walkers is that they’re less awkward. Why don’t they fall down or walk into other people? Research suggests that these texters adopt protective measures to minimize the risk of accidents when walking. They’re less likely to trip because they shorten their step length, reduce step frequency, lengthen the time during which both feet are in contact with the ground, and increase obstacle clearance height. Taken together this creates an exaggerated image of walking, but it apparently slows the walker enough so that he registers some of what is happening around him and can compensate for it.

The impact of texting and walking is that it slows the walker down. So we’re all connected but it may take us longer to get to each other—which may be okay since we’ve likely texted the person that we’re on our way and then given a play-by-play of our progress as we update social media along the way.

A fascinating study.

Prime Music vs Apple Music: tricky

I have been mildly impressed with Apple Music so far, mainly because of the discovery features and the impression that the service is a lot more than mere streaming and track downloading. There is a sense of community throughout and a feeling that I will always be able to find something new every time I open Apple Music.

There is, however, also a sense that it is more than a bit messy and that the performance is quite poor overall. When I start Beats One, there is an inevitable delay and the same happens almost any time I stream a single track. I have had to re-login multiple times so far because the service forgets who I am and so I remain half delighted with the service and half frustrated.

And then an email arrived from Amazon this morning telling me that I can now use Amazon Music as part of my Prime subscription. Oooh...

I loaded up the iPhone app and took a look on my MacBook and first impressions are good. It is 'much' quicker than Apple Music with songs loading immediately for streaming and a much cleaner design. It reminds me of Spotify in terms of design, but is perhaps even easier to use. I am no longer surprised when competing services outpace Apple in terms of cloud performance, but it seems to happen every single time.

Less impressive is the library of music available which is 30 times less than with Apple Music or Spotify (1 million vs 30 million). Now, that leaves one decision for people to make. Do they need more than 1 million tracks and is Prime Music enough to stop them spending £9.99 / month elsewhere? I suspect that for me, I will struggle to justify the cost of Apple Music in comparison because I would be paying for discovery, a lesser performing service and more tracks. In my mind, I already bought Prime so there is effectively no cost to me to stream and download 1 million tracks. That is hard to ignore.

Apple Music is a nightmare...

I love Apple. I love them because they take difficult problems and come up with innovative, simple solutions. The things they make just work and we trust them. Unfortunately, my experience with Apple Music has been exactly the opposite. As of today, I’m missing about 4,700 songs from my library with little hope of getting them back.

I had high hopes for Apple Music. I really wanted it to work and become my default music streaming service, but after the problems I’ve experienced over the last couple of weeks, I’m disabling it altogether.

I have never heard Jim D. be so negative about any Apple product, but can understand his frustrations. For me, the app fails to recognise that I have an account roughly 25% of the time and so I have to close it, sign in again and wait 5 minutes before I can stream anything. And then when I can stream, it often takes a long time for the song to start playing because the general performance is poor.

Spotify kills Apple Music in every single regard apart from discovery and a sense that you are getting much more than just standard streaming of music. Apple Music is new, but it goes back to the continuing issues Apple has with the cloud.

I do not trust Apple with my music any more or my photos and I never use iCloud Drive. In my experience, none of it works to a level that makes me feel secure leaving anything important within the Apple ecosystem. If Apple can crack this, it would match the hardware perfectly, but until then I am in two minds as to whether I will use Apple Music when the trial is over or if I will go back to Spotify.

Apple cannot win

Apple stock fell down and stayed down Wednesday morning, as investors seemed disappointed by another set of record-breaking results and a lack of fireworks over Apple Watch sales figures. The stock was off by 5% before lunchtime.

Analysts said Apple’s investors are frankly spoiled. “The sharp plunge in the stock price can partly be attributed to the company missing projections for iPhone shipments and revenue forecasts, but is largely due to the fact that investors had become accustomed to significant earnings beats by Apple,” wrote James Chen, senior market analyst to City Index.

The above from The Guardian sums up the ridiculous situation that Apple is in. What exactly does Apple have to do to please some of these investors and analysts who are determined to push for more and more until it breaks? It is true that when you are at the top, you can only head one way, but we have reached the point where Apple should perhaps start completely ignoring what investors want. Of course this cannot happen in 2015 (sadly) and so Apple will continue to work on a new transportation service (rent an Apple car?), the Watch, more revisions of the iPhone and so on in the hope of achieving the impossible.

Concerns over the amount of money smartphones will bring in over the next 5 years are valid and so are those surrounding dwindling iPad sales and the general slow down of PC sales, but Apple is busting it in almost every area in comparison to the rest of the industry. So, what is the real problem here? 


Joshua Topolsky leaves Bloomberg

But the last few months have been difficult for me. I started to feel a desire to go even further, beyond the shores of business-focused coverage (this is Bloomberg after all), into the broader, weirder, and nerdier side of my interests — something I knew might not be a perfect fit for that audience. I think launching a new podcast on my own (Tomorrow, for those of you who don’t know), was an attempt to scratch that itch. But that wasn’t enough: I wanted to do more and it was clear that it wasn’t going to be possible to do that work from inside the Bloomberg offices.

Interesting news from Josh and it is hardly surprising. Too many sites are putting adverts above the user experience and aiming only for traffic at the expense of the actual content. I fully understand the need to make money for a business on the web, but what I will never understand is the lack of foresight when it comes to just doing the right thing and letting things grow naturally.

1972 Bulova Cal.12 Rare Chronograph

1970's fashion was terrible. The furniture was terrible and so were many consumer car designs. Despite many people hoping for a long time, 1970's fashion has never returned and likely never will because the decade was an abomination in so many cultural ways.

So why is it that 1970's style watches are becoming more and more popular? What is it about the styling that actually looks better today that it ever did? An example is the 1972 Bulova Cal.12 Rare Chronograph above which recently appeared on eBay for £1,550. It is admittedly rare to find one in such good condition, but just look at it! It is, to me, quite beautiful and displays most of the qualities I want in a watch; great quality throughout, big, a quirky design which has been carefully considered and it all comes together to make me want to wear it, badly.

It also sums up to me the gap between something like this and today's smartwatches which look and feel like they have come from a factory. The attempts to make them feel unique and somehow limited are not working because it shouldn't be necessary anyway. The Bulova above doesn't need lots of words and exclusivity to make it desirable. It just is.

Marshall London Phone

It looks cool, possibly in large part because of the logo, but is a phone focussed on one thing going to cut it in the world of multi-tasking monsters we all know and love today?

The revolution has begun. It started way back in 1962 with the birth of the very first Marshall amp. It grew louder on a festival stage in upstate New York during the summer of ‘69. Each decade since it has grown stronger, burning an everlasting imprint on the lives of millions who choose to walk in its path. The time has come to witness the next chapter in this storied tale of rock ‘n’ roll.

What else are you going to buy?

It would be fair to say that my iMac has just about reached the end of the road. After 4 years the sound has gone, the hard drive is behaving sporadically and I managed to get a rather large scratch on the screen which is in just the wrong place. I have struggled on in the hope of keeping it going for a full 5 years, but I had to admit defeat and look elsewhere.

I walked into my local PC World, yes I know I should know better, and ended up spending thirty minutes talking to the most knowledgable and helpful assistant I have ever met in that home for people who know nothing about computers. We discussed the 5K iMac, but the sheer size of the unit would be problematic. Also, the price is exceptionally high and so I looked smaller. My plan was to buy a MacBook Pro and to use it alongside the iMac, which can be a larger display when needed, and to then have the flexibility to write when I am away from home.

We talked about how Apple has changed, he is the Apple rep in that store, and how the little extras that built loyalty are now gone. No display port cable anymore, no remote control, a lack of user expansion in most devices and the feeling that Apple is acting like so many other companies when it really does not need to. We discussed and agreed that the Apple Watch is far too expensive and that it is far from the best Apple product to date. We laughed at the new MacBook and the unnecessarily flat keyboard, and finally we discussed the MacBook Pro with only 256GB of storage. 

It has taken some time for me to get used to the idea that I do not need a huge amount of local storage and that I can live with the fact that the majority of my music and files are in the cloud. For people like me who have been using computers for a long time, it is a bit of a jump to embrace the fact that computer data does not need to be permanent, but I am getting there.

After some time discussing the relatively high price of the MacBook Pro and the specifications you get for that money he, in a very genuine way, said to me “What else are you going to buy?” and pointed to the myriad of Windows laptops running 8.1 in the store. I looked over, remembered my recent dreadful experiences with 2 new Windows laptops and asked him to check the stock numbers of the MacBook. 

The MacBook Pro is of course wonderful to use and the Retina screen is beautiful. Even Force Touch works very well, but I was most impressed by how simply signing into iCloud brought all of my favourites and so much of my data over to the point that I could start working immediately.

When I compare the above to having to jump through hoops just to download updates and apps on Windows I knew I had made the right decision. Windows 10 may be much better than Windows 8.1, it really is good, but still the same old problems remain and still the MacBook and Mac OS X remain a cut above. What else was I going to buy?

Apple Pushes Privacy Beyond The Limit

Method and system for targeted advertising of goods and services to users of mobile terminals, based for example on the users’ profile. Goods and services are marketed to particular target groups of users sharing a common profile which may be selected to increase the likelihood of the users responding to the advertisements and purchasing the advertised goods and services. The common profile of users may be based on the amount of pre-paid credit available to each user. An advantage of such targeted advertising is that only advertisements for goods and services which particular users can afford, are delivered to these users.

The above article from Forbes is somewhat presumptuous, but the general point that Apple is not all that it seems remains. Thanks to David.

The BBC is vital

You’ve probably noticed that the BBC is under fairly constant attack these days. It’s easy to sound paranoid about this, but let’s be honest here, the right-leaning press doesn’t care for the BBC. Papers like the Daily Mail in particular find the existence of a publicly-funded broadcaster especially distasteful.

The good news is that the BBC is happy to call out the Daily Mail on its nonsense and use facts to clearly demonstrate that the paper is at best misrepresenting facts and at worse making up things that aren’t even true.

But the threat to the BBC is real. In a world where we have Netflix and Sky people are wondering why they’re forced to pay for the BBC. I still believe that we need the BBC in this country, but let’s take a look at some of the arguments against it, and why it’s important to keep the nation’s broadcaster.

Good article from T3. The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Telegraph, Sky and so many other organisations are so obviously controlled by the right and other publications such as The Mirror by the left. The fact is we need the BBC more now than we ever did and it really is not expensive at all. The only people I know who don't like the BBC are the ones who say it is left-wing. It isn't, it just isn't right-wing enough for those who believe that if you do not have right-ring views, you must somehow be a left-wing loony. 

Apple Watch Demand Slides Significantly

The report claims that Apple is now selling fewer than 20,000 watches per day in the United States, and fewer than 10,000 on certain days, while the logarithmic chart above indicates that sales dipped to as low as 4,000 to 5,000 units per day in late June. The data does not account for sales in Canada, Australia, United Kingdom or the twelve other countries where the Apple Watch is sold outside of the United States.

Slice Intelligence claims that two-thirds of Apple Watches sold to date have been the entry-level Sport model, far outselling the more expensive stainless steel Watch and 18-karat gold Edition models that start at $549 and $10,000 respectively. The research firm estimates that Apple has sold fewer than 2,000 luxury Apple Watch Edition models in the U.S. through June.

Well, that's a surprise... More at MacRumors.

Apple Music is surprisingly brilliant

I have already reached the point where I can't imagine my iPhone without Apple Music. It has become much bigger than it actually is to me and feels like a door to all of the audible entertainment I could want.

This is obviously unusually positive for me, but my recent few weeks with Spotify showed that I can live with streaming and the human factor in Apple Music is not to be ignored. Beats 1 doesn't necessarily cover what I tend to like, but my tastes are vast and I have discovered some decent artists already.

The spot by St Vincent brought some other artists to my attention such as Angel Olsen (check out the video above) and The Antlers, and I have also discovered many rare demos from the likes of Roy Orbison. I don't quite know how the app is doing it, but I am finding new music all of the time and it is broadening my musical horizons.

It is still a bit of a mess in my opinion, especially the 'My Music' section, but maybe that it part of the appeal? Just maybe the chaotic and cramped interface works in a backwards way to make the app and service somehow feel bigger. Just maybe it is needed to give a sense of the vast resources the app offers and to show you that there is no end to what is available.

One aspect I don't particularly like is a hidden focus on only playing a track once. Through the radio stations you can only move forwards and when playing an album, the previously played tracks are hidden until you access it again. Discovery is great and many people, particularly those like me who believe that their music tastes have reached a static point, probably need a push, but good music deserves to be played over and over again to truly appreciate every aspect.

Apple Music will succeed purely because it is Apple, but potentially it also has the ability to make radio popular all over again. It has the potential to make money for artists (seriously not convinced of that) and it has the potential to become one of Apple's biggest successes so far. At this point I cannot imagine cancelling the service after the 3 month trial. I really can't.