Sep 21

There is a difference between a gimmick and a feature

If there is one thing that fries my burger it is twenty somethings using the word ‘like’ as if it were a comma!

Please stop!

But the other thing is when Apple bring out a product or feature and someone pops up and says “Oh well, you know – like – Samsung did that years ago” or “Android has done that for years”. Then they sit back down and continue to try and figure out why the Russian mafia now has their credit card numbers from a copy of Skype they just downloaded from or some other wild west show of an Appstore.

But I digress!

So, in case you feel like you made the wrong decision buying an Apple Watch or an iPhone, allow me to arm you with some facts about Apple and why they are sometimes the slowest at winning the race.

The fact is Apple never rush into anything until they are sure they are doing it right. Or at least as right as it can be with the limitations of the technology or their own market focus.

It is true they weren’t the first to come out with a music player, but they were the first to come out with one that held 1000 songs and didn’t skip tracks while you jogged with it.

It is also true they didn’t invent the smartphone, but they were the first to have a full touch screen with no keyboard, stylus and an internet experience that actually worked. I had an Ericsson phone that had internet capabilities and the one and only time I tried it I was ready to pull my bottom lip over the top of my head and swallow myself. It was excruciating! Apple made it work before releasing it onto the general public.

In more up to date news, face recognition is something that has been around for years but until now it has been a mere gimmick. For Samsung it was something flashy to say when the Galaxy 8 arrived but it was soon exposed as useless. In someways it is a lot like the ‘smart’ features on their ‘smart’ TVs. 3D and hand gestures all sound wiz bang but none of them work in the real world and are quickly turned off or used only once.

Their smart watch was also not the first to enter the market. But it was the first to blend – some – kind of style to the genre rather than looking like a house arrest bracelet. It was also the first to have accurate heart rate monitoring and it is now the first to have real telephony that works independently. Yes, again, Android “touted’ these features but none of them worked well -or at all – because it was enough to ‘say’ they had these features because that was the hook to buy it.

Apple have, in the past, integrated a feature into their OS that was a feature on Android or Windows previously. But again, rather than just ripping it off, they generally make it work better or at all. It is a real feature not just a tag line that sometimes doesn’t crash or phone. When something truly innovative comes out I wait for two things. First, wide public reaction will always give me the real story – yes, HoloLens works, Galaxy 8 Face recognition doesn’t, and a Tesla will drive to Sydney on a single charge.

The second is to wait for Apple to do it.


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Sep 13

Phones, watches and TV. Oh my!

I have said it before, Apple products remain the best and the finest examples of what is possible in the consumer space but it is sad that all the excitement has gone from the Apple seminal presentation.

Don’t get me wrong… this isn’t their fault. They continue to be funny, slick and awe inspiring and their message is as clear as ever before. But gone are the days when all we knew was that “something new” was coming. We didn’t know what is was or what it looked like and we’d have to wait until the following day, with images chunking into view over a dial up connection, just to see what it was.  For an Apple nerd, Christmas came four times a year and nothing typified this more than the launch of the original iPhone 10 years ago. No one outside of Apple knew what was coming and when it was announced to a great deal of excitement and anticipation we were all blown away. No one, aside from perhaps Jobs, knew how significant this day was to be and we were all left shell shocked at what this might mean for the future. We were all better for not just the product, but the wonder it left us with when the curtain fell. These days every YouTube blogger, internet sage and newspaper has leaked the look, the feel and the specs of every product and so all we are left with is the slightly anti-climatic announcements on the day. All I can say is thank God the presenters and the staging remains top hat… at least thats something to look forward too.

Anyway, with that slightly self indulgent “back in my day” rant out of the way… what about the new products announced on the  13th Sept 2017.

As this was the 10th anniversary of the iPhone we always knew that this was going to be something special and, certainly in the mobile phone arena, they did not disappoint.

As Apple started with the new Apple Watch, this is where I will start this article –  for the purposes of recollection if nothing else.

Apple Watch Series 3

The Apple watch Series 3 is everything the first edition should have been from Day 1 but couldn’t have been because the technology wasn’t there yet. Yes, I am sure your neighbour will tell you that his Android watch has been doing this for years but I can assure you this was a gimmick to stick on the box that never really worked so it doesn’t count. So now that we all know how good your current Apple Watch is, we can look forward to the awesome thing that it became today.

As I alluded to above, the Apple Watch is now independent from your iPhone. This means that you can now use Siri, send texts, take and make phone calls when you are out of the house and your iphone is at home. The demonstration of this was done between a man on stage talking to a woman standing on a paddle board in the middle of a lake. The call was as natural as you’d imagine it would have been had she been using a handsfree phone, so I can only assume that they have vastly improved the speaker in the watch… something that prevented me from taking calls on the old one. For myself, the real world implications to this new feature, are vast. I often exercise with my watch (duh) and since pairing wireless headphones to the watch I can listen to music as well. Added to this I have ApplePay on my watch so a walk to the shops can be me, my backpack, my headphones and my watch… no wallet, no phone, no worries. Of course in the past this caused issues if I needed to be reached or make a phone call of my own. Personally this means my wife can call me and give me last minute orders on what to purchase and, because she formulates her wishes in stages (sometimes lasting minutes) this can be an issue when she cannot update my list en route. But in a more serious vein, being free of your phone when walking or swimming or shopping and being able to call in times of distress is a real bonus.

Of course this isn’t the only knew feature… it also comes with better heart rate monitoring and workout settings and a much faster processor.

WatchOS 4 was given a brief overview, having already been showcased at the WWDC, but it is enough to say here that the new software with its new goal settings, encouragement reminders and new watch faces, makes using the Watch even better and with the new hardware it’s an all round winner. As you might recall, I bought the very first watch but skipped Series 2 because, while I can continue to use the the new WatchOS and all its features, the water proofing and speed enhancements didn’t grab me enough to spend the money. This time however, I will be pre-ordering as soon as possible.

Apple TV 4K

Next up was the new Apple TV. Now I am a huge Apple TV user and it must represent at least 98% of the content I watch on TV. The new Apple TV looks the same as last revision but comes with the ability to watch content in 4K. If this kind of thing is of interest then this is a worthwhile upgrade because content really does look fantastic in 4K on a large telly. However if you are like me and find HD just fine then your current series 4 box is just fine as it is. As a side note… if you’ve purchased any movies in HD they will be automatically converted to 4K at no extra charge… so that’s nice.

iPhone 8

Then the presentation turned to the red headed stepchild of this event  (I’ll explain later)… the iPhone 8.

As expected the iPhone 7 was replaced with the iPhone 8, skipping the “s” series for the first time since the iPhone 3G. The iPhone 8 has the same form factor as the 7 but comes in fewer colours. However the body is all glass  – toughest glass available – allowing for wireless charging. As predicted the camera is better – isn’t it always – and the internal CPU faster and the memory greater. Had it not been for what came next there surely would have been cries of “Apple’s lack of innovation” or “tired format”. But what came next simultaneously changed the iPhone and doomed the 8 to the iPhone time will forget.

iPhone X

The iPhone X, from the back, looks a lot  like an iPhone 8 and as it turns out has pretty much the same cpu and memory capabilities… but that is where the similarities end. The screen takes up the phone front of the iphone, dispensing with the bar at the top – mostly, it now has a notch – and bar at the bottom taking with it, the Home button. Now this immediately strikes you as awesome and worrisome in equal measure. Firstly the screen is gorgeous and the real estate that comes with losing the black bars is fantastic. But what about the Home button, that place that you could always turn too when you wanted to get out of an app and return to the home screen? What about TouchID and ApplePay?

The lack of home button is going to bewilder low vision or blind customers in the beginning because this little physical depression was always a cue for them to orientate the phone correctly. I am guessing now it is the earpiece at the top or the speaker grill at the bottom that will give them a sense of the phones position in their hands.

Touch ID, at least on this phone, is a thing of the past. Access, other than a pin number and as a quick to access ApplePay is now done via the new FaceID. Now face recognition has been tried before on other platforms and has been a disaster. The Galaxy 8 touted this as a key feature but it was defeated easily and was so useless that even Samsung themselves told buyers that their face recognition system should not or could not be used for security related services. So it was through suspicious slits that I watched Apple sell us on the concept that their face recognition system was actually more secure than TouchID. As the iPhone X will not be in serious use until October or even November we won’t be able to fully test the claims that this face recognition system – unlike all the others – is as safe as a finger print. If the lengths Apple have reportedly gone too make sure it cannot be faked out with a photo, a Hollywood special effect quality face mask or video… I’d like to think we are in pretty good hands. It will also work, we are told, if you are wearing sunglasses, grow a beard (that’s my mum covered) and change your hair style or colour.

But even as early testing suggests it might work as advertised more people are worried about how easily a thief or law enforcement might be able to open a phone by simply showing the stunned user their phone and then run away with an unlocked phone.  Well it turns out that you have to actually be looking at the phone and stare at it, so even looking away for a microsecond will make your face unworthy. Mind you, some might even say my face is already unworthy and I am not sure i can disagree with that sentiment.

My advise, at least the advise I am following, is to wait until the iPhone X is out before making a decision about it or the iPhone 8 as your next phone. It has been a week since the iPhone 8 and X were announced and while I initially thought that the iPhone 8 would be relegated to the back shelf of history’s bar fridge, some reports are suggesting this might not be the case. After all it has TouchID, it looks familiar and feels good and it has the same internals as an iPhone X. It has also been reported to be actually a tad faster in benchmark testing? But on the other hand the full screen is glorious and FaceID is intriguing so I will want to feel it in my hands and unlock it with my face  – as well as having it fully tested by real people – before I give up my beloved iPhone 6S.

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Sep 10

See if you have been hacked or not


Mac or Windows, ACT or interstate, you might want pass this post onto your friends.

Most people take their security very seriously. They lock windows, they don’t leave keys in the front door, they slap a password on their Mac and a pin code on their iPhone.

We have all heard the mantra “don’t open unfamiliar emails” or “don’t click on suspicious links” and it swims around inside our heads every time we interact with technology which is, these days, constantly. For these reasons very few of us are victims of foul play and so the maggots that want to steal from us resort to telephone scams instead.

We continue to watch ourselves and our friends but no matter how careful we are, if we put our details into a website – whether it be to buy groceries on line or dabble in the stock market – we are relying on that website taking our security as seriously as we do. Sadly, this is not always the case or possible.

Over the years there have been a number of high profile hacks that have seen our user names (usually our email addresses) and passwords for that site exposed. In short, despite your best efforts your security has been comprised.

So, what to do?

Well, for starters this has to be the best argument for not using the same password over and over again. If Mr Slime-bag has your email address and a password, it might very well try these details in other popular websites or services to see if the same combination has been used elsewhere.

Before you know it, that one hack has lead to several hacks.

The second thing would be to use any form of two-step authentication on offer. Google and Apple have, for years now, offered a system where by everytime you log into your account a code is sent to your phone that you must enter before proceeding. If you haven’t done so already you can set up two-step authentication on your Apple account here and google here.

Unfortunately we have now come to the icky part… namely, have you actually been hacked. Or more specifically, has a business you’ve sign up too been hacked. One of the best ways to find out is to go to which in itself sounds dodgy but I promise you is legit.

Go here and type in your email address and/or user name that you have used in the past.

If you have been hacked you’ll get a list of the websites or services affected. From here you can do a couple of things:

  1. Login to that website and change your password. (chances are you’ll be forced to anyway)
  2. If you believe the password you used at this site is the same as other, as yet unhacked sites, log into those and change those details.

But before you get carried away, make sure these are sites you’ve actually logged into in the past. As a test I typed in “renny” and found I had been hacked on and a Vista website neither of which I have ever been on.

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Aug 21

Key Commands


Legend has it that the mouse was always meant as a ‘learning’ tool and eventually we were meant to graduate to key commands. Well that didn’t work out so well did it!

The mouse is vital, I think we all agree, but there are a number of very useful key commands that can be used in combination with the mouse to help speed things up.

Here then, are some useful key commands that can be used to speed up your day.

Lets start with the Finder, that smiling Face icon in your Dock that controls how the Mac actually administers files, menus and windows. (that’s windows with a small ‘w’ not Windows – that OTHER operating system) then I will move to other applications.


Shift-Command -Q will log you out but you’ll be asked to confirm this is what you want to do.

This is instead of: Clicking on the Apple menu and choosing Logout

Option-Shift-Command -Q will log you out without asking.

Command-Tab will let you cycle through all your applications. Keep pressing the Tab key until the application you want is highlighted then release and the application will come to the foreground.

This is instead of: Moving down to the dock and clicking on the application you want.

Command-spacebar will bring up Spotlight search.

This is instead of: Clicking on the Spotlight menu icon in the upper menu.

Pressing the Esc key or command-spacebar again will make it disappear.

Command-N will bring up a new Finder window.

This is instead of: Clicking on the File menu and choosing New Finder Window

Command-Shift-N will create a new folder on the desktop or open window.

This is instead of: Clicking on the Finder menu and choosing New Folder.

Shift-Command-O will open the Documents folder.

This is instead of: locating the Documents folder in the sidebar or drilling down though your disk to find it.

Shift-Command-A will open the Applications folder.

This is instead of: locating the Applications folder in the sidebar or drilling down though your disk to find it.


Command-N will open a new mail.

This is instead of: Click on the File menu and choosing New Message.

Fun Fact… you can press the TAB key to move to Subject and then TAB again to the message field and start typing. Then…

Command-Shift-D will send the email.

This is instead of: Clicking on the Send Mail icon.

Command-Q will exit the application. (This is true for all applications )

This is instead of: Clicking on the File menu and choosing Quit.

Any Application

Command-Q will exit the application.

This is instead of: This is instead of: Clicking on the File menu and choosing Quit.

Command-P will print the open document.

This is instead of: This is instead of: Clicking on the File menu and choosing print.

Command-S will save the document.

This is instead of: This is instead of: Clicking on the File menu and choosing Save.

These are just a couple of my favourite and most often used key commands. There a heap more and a good list can be found here on the Apple website.

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