Apple’s Underwhelming Event

Apple TV, Image: Apple

Where’s the Apple TV update? Image: Apple

 

I can almost understand why Apple avoided video streaming yesterday’s event. There was so little to announce. The only real announcement was the two new iPhones, exactly as rumored, with one massive exception. The so-called “c for cheap” phone aimed at developing markets was anything but cheap.

Slate, which had an excellent analysis, presented the hitherto situation this way:

Every year, the company makes only one new model, a phone that represents Apple’s platonic ideal—the one phone it thinks everybody ought to have. Apple usually sells the new phone for around $650, and wireless carriers sell it to customers for $199 with a two-year plan. To hedge its bets against low-priced competitors, Apple also keeps selling its previous models, reducing the price of each by $100. Last year, when Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, it kept selling 2011’s iPhone 4S for $550 ($99 with a contract), and the 2010 iPhone 4 sold for $450 (free with a contract).

The 5S announced yesterday followed this pattern. Instead of dumping the price on the 5, Apple released the 5C in masses of plastic colors. But instead of a super cheap price all they did was discontinue the 5, and slot the 5c into the price range that would have been for the 5. At $550 it is way more expensive than what was needed or expected. Slate details why they think this has happened.

The event was also disappointing because there was no mention at all the much-rumored iWatch (obviously because it isn’t ready) or the Apple TV.

The idea that Apple would make a TV set is rather silly, but there is lots of room for them to improve the little set-top box. Even if they don’t offer new hardware, the interface could use an update, there need to be more TV channels available, and, what would be really wonderful is if there was a proper Apple TV app store, so developers could make their own channel apps available.

If I want to watch a live pod from Twit.tv now, I have to play it on my iPad ior iPhone and Airplay it to the Apple TV. All that is available in the Apple TV’s podcast app are old editions. There ought to be a live streaming Twit app, but under the current system Apple has to implement it.

Apparently, there is a small update to the Apple TV software being released at the same time as ios 7, on September 18. But Tim Cook and company seemingly didn’t think that was even important enough to mention. Hopefully it will offer more despite this slight.

Nor did they mention the introduction of iTunes Radio (probably that same day?) which was massively hyped in the last event. It will be a major upgrade, Apple taking on the likes of Spotify and Pandora, and linked directly to sales from the iTunes store. That ought to have been worth a mention.

Pundits have said Apple didn’t want to announce the coming new iPads yesterday because they didn’t want the iPhone and iPad announcements to clash and detract from each other. But there was so little announced yesterday, that they might as well have presented the iPads as well, rather than wait another month. One big event rather than one disappointment and one unknown.

 

Farewell Amelia Peabody, Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Mertz

I’ve just learned that Barbara Mertz, who wrote the wonderful Amelia Peabody books under the name Elisabeth Peters, died one month ago, at the age of 85.

Those books gave so much pleasure, and inspired and guided our trip to Egypt several years ago.

Most selfishly, I’m disappointed we’ll never see the book “The Painted Queen“, which she wrote that she was working on two years ago.

“How do you feel being a criminal?”

I didn’t record, but Jerome Segura of Malwarebytes did!

Just got called by “Windows Technical Department”. This is the gang somewhere out in the world who pretend to be Microsoft, and get people to download malicious software (obstensibly to fight viruses). After which they take over the computer and steal information like bank logins, etc.

Sadly after I asked if they enjoyed being a criminal and “do you steal money from a lot of people every day?” they hung up.

Wish I could record calls at home.

Update: According to this article from Wired UK, they don’t steal your info, they sell you a massively expensive “virus protection program”, then delete all your files.

What Happened to Getglue?

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When it came out a couple of years ago, I really liked Getglue. It was like Foursquare, only instead of posting that you were at a cafe or store, you posted what books you were reading, TV programs or films you had watched, radio programs listened to, or, if none of that quite fit, a topic that interested you at the moment.

Not only did they reward posts with virtual “badges” they even promised to mail stickers of the badges. (That last was a bit iffy, I think out of five or six promised sticker mailings, I only got two. But they were still free, so hard to complain.)

Getglue was always very America-centered, so they didn’t list things like BBC radio programs. And sometimes the book database was flakey, if I wanted to post that I was reading a brand new book, it often wasn’t there.

But in recent months the service has deteriorated significantly. Suddenly radio, topics, and even books are gone, even current best-sellers like Dan Brown’s “Inferno”. All that’s left are movies and TV. Worse yet, there is an apparent new censorship. In connection with recent events in the Middle East, I wanted to post that I was watching the very excellent Al-Jazeera English. But even though I had posted about Al-Jazeera before, and could find that post in my feed, you can’t post about Al-Jazeera any more, it is gone from the database.

Yet the far more biased Fox News is still there. This is a very troubling sign of censorship, social media should not impose their political positions on users.

Britain Misses the Real Tobacco Legislation

I don’t get it. While the  EU Parliament has bern enacting the Tobacco Products Directive:

10 July, Brussels – Today, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have taken a significant step forward in the race against the massive harm that smoking causes to millions in Europe. In a vote on the revised EU Tobacco Product Directive (TPD), the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) supportedstronger measures to prevent young Europeans from taking up smoking and encourage millions of smokers to quit.

(Something which has had important repercussions for Sweden.)

…the British Government and Parliament seem to be on a totally different planet as they discuss completely separate rules:

The government has denied claims it has caved in to the tobacco industry after plans to introduce plain cigarette packaging in England were put on hold.

Where the EU is concerned, Britain seems to live in an alternative reality, as if the Directive that applies to the other 27 does not exist for the UK.

EU Wants Sweden to Review EU-mandated (?) FRA Law

Against the background of the PRISM revelations, European Parliament News reports:

 

Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee will conduct an “in-depth inquiry” into the US surveillance programmes, including the bugging of EU premises and other spying allegations, and present its results by the end of this year, says a resolution passed by the full House on Thursday. Parliament’s President and political group leaders formally confirmed the launch of the inquiry. MEPs also call for more protection for whistleblowers.

But the story goes on:

 

Parliament also expresses grave concern about allegations that similar surveillance programmes are run by several EU member states, such as the UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany and Poland. It urges them to examine whether those programmes are compatible with EU law.

In Sweden’s case, this has to be a reference to the infamous FRA Law, which allows Sweden’s counterpart to the American NSA to spy on all data traffic going into or out of the country (which effectively means most traffic within the country as well).

Yet, in forcing through the legislation, the government argued it was mandated by an EU directive. Something doesn’t add up….