April 17, 2015

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via IFO Apple Store: Gary Allen is stepping down from daily blogging and leaves us with this

My final advice is: don’t overthink Apple. Instead, remember Steve Jobs and his boundless enthusiasm and joy—especially  on stage—for what the products can accomplish and make possible. It’s fine to speculate on sales numbers and stock price. But it’s more pertinent to wonder how FaceTime or other Apple product feature can bring distant people together, to help diverse cultures understand one another to make a better world. I know. I’ve been there, talking to strangers at 1 a.m. in front of a new Apple store about human rights, answering questions from eager Apple enthusiasts about Steve and Tim, sharing my views on how technology might bring improvements to this earth’s vast human community.

I can honestly say that I’ve been a subscriber of this blog since around 2002. Gary doesn’t post regularly but his posts and retail updates were always well written, well researched and factual. I really enjoyed his style and I’m pretty we met at some point.

His contribution to the Apple Community will be missed. No one else covered retail like him. I’ll remain a subscriber of his site for those periodic updates that may come at some point.

April 17, 2015

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via Disney Research:

We propose the problem of automated photo album creation from an unordered image collection. The problem is difficult as it involves a number of complex perceptual tasks that facilitate selection and ordering of photos to create a compelling visual narrative. To help solve this problem, we collect (and will make available) a new benchmark dataset based on Flickr images. Flickr Album Dataset and provides a variety of annotations useful for the task, including manually created albums of various lengths. We analyze the problem and provide experimental evidence, through user studies, that both selection and ordering of photos within an album is important for human observers. To capture and learn rules of album composition, we propose a discriminative structured model capable of encoding simple preferences for contextual layout of the scene (e.g., spatial layout of faces, global scene context, and presence/absence of attributes) and ordering between photos (e.g., exclusion principles or correlations). The parameters of the model are learned using a structured SVM framework. Once learned, the model allows automatic composition of photo albums from unordered and untagged collections of images. We quantitatively evaluate the results obtained using our model against manually created albums and baselines on a dataset of 63 personal photo collections from 5 different topics.

Basically, this allows people with multiple cameras the ability to place photos in order based on various aspects of the photo so you have a full stream of images throughout a trip without issues.

Question: Why can’t you just order photos by time-stamp? I have 4 cameras, each set to the same time so when I import them all into iPhoto, I organize by Date Taken and they all show up in order. Am I missing something?

April 17, 2015

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via Anandtech:

Compared to the tablets on the other hand the MacBook is still well ahead of any of the tablets – as it should be with Core M’s greater power consumption and the larger chassis – but there’s no denying that by scaling down the MacBook so far, the performance gap between tablet and laptop has shrunk significantly. The MacBook is less than 2x faster than the iPad Air 2 in both benchmarks, which means that within a couple of generations it’s likely that the iPad will exceed the current MacBook’s scores. 

Maybe I’m completely full of it but I don’t see GeekBench score of 4500 as impressive for people who actually do real work. As most people know, the Internet to some people is Facebook. For those people who use Gmail, Facebook and maybe iMessage, well an iPad or ChromeBook is all they need. No, the new Macbook isn’t for me but it is for a lot of people. 

I don’t think that comparing the slowest available computer that Apple makes with the fastest tablet that they make is Apples to Oranges. When the iPad can truly multi-task, allow typing speeds as fast as a full-size keyboard and allow me to work within multiple-windows, applications and get things done, then the speed will matter. My Macbook Pro scores 14,000 on GeekBench or 3.5 faster than the brand new MacBook and 4 times faster than the iPad and when I’m editing RAW images and 4K movies, it struggles to keep up. I’m still wanting a faster computer. I was manipulating data in a 25 megabyte Excel document last night. Why would I use a slower computer (tablet, phone) to do that?

I simply don’t think there will be a time in the next 20 years where iPhones will take SLR quality images or tablets will be able to do everything a MacBook Pro w/ an external 4K monitor can do. It’s physically not possible with the farthest out technology pipelines and this is coming from a guy who has every single piece of hardware that Apple makes. My iPad is for YouTube, reviewing my calendar, taking 2-3 lines of notes in a meeting and reading books. The iPhone is for navigating, reviewing emails, checking into beers on Untappd and controlling my AppleTV. I even use an iPod Classic for music playback because of iTunes Match eating through 12 gigabytes of data in a month due to user error. I’m not going to make that mistake again. That’s as far as they go for me not because I can’t edit photos, movies or write a blog on today’s iOS devices but because the 15” MacBook Pro and iMac do a much better job and are much faster and easier to use and switching over to Safari to copy text and paste it back into MarsEdit (which is what I use for blogging) is much easier on OS X.

Here’s the thing, Apple doesn’t care that I don’t use the iPad for getting work done. They just want to move units and they are…..by the millions. They’re not framing the iPad and MacBook as similarly specified (putting GeekBench scores in their narrative). The bloggers are doing this and I hope people out there aren’t buying iPads expecting to do everything a MacBook Pro can do as fast, efficient or as easy. iPhoto for iPad is really nice but if I had to choose, I’d grab my MacBook Pro.

Just wait for Apple Watch 3 when bloggers are saying its GeekBench scores are as fast as the 2012 MacBook Air. How stupid will it sound when people say you can do everything you did on your ’12 MBA? Pretty dumb and that’s how I feel about the people trying to sell normal users iPads in that way. The new MacBook is awesome for the Facebook crowd and I’m sure they’ll sell tons of these things. It’s one of the first times a new notebook from Apple comes out that I’m not buying. They are really beautiful though.

April 16, 2015

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via Asymco:

These benefits were priced modestly but as the quality and breadth of programming increased, prices rose. An average cable bill of $40/month in 1995 is $130 today[2]. Some of that revenue went into upgrading the capital equipment in use (the plant) and some into paying for the higher production values. Yet more went to the sports leagues and their players whose business models increasingly depended on broadcast rights.

Cable is very expensive. The problem is, content is not free. As cable fails and on-demand streaming content takes hold, almost everything you hated about cable will return. Commercials, previews, suggested shows you don’t care about, huge banners / tickers on the bottom of your screen and you’ll be paying for the privilege to be bombarded with crap you don’t care about.

There might be a day where we wish we were back in the days of cable…paying one price every month and using the DVR to fast forward commercials. Uninterruptible commercials are going to ruin streaming.

The only advantage to streaming over cable? the problem of 200 channels and nothing to watch is going away. Some people actually enjoy channel surfing and that’s going away which I fully support.

April 15, 2015

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via Gizmodo:

At first glance, the new S6 and S6 Edge appear to be less cluttered, but you’ll actually find some 56 applications pre-installed. That’s 6 more than the 50 you’ll find on the Galaxy Note 4! Between the Google Apps you’ll find on every phone (Play Newstand? Come on), Samsung’s apps like S Voice and S Health, the new Microsoft apps like OneDrive (intended to soften the blow of no microSD slot), assorted social apps like Whatsapp and Instagram, and carrier apps (6 on T-Mobile), there’s a ton of cruft. A Moto G I have hanging around—which runs near stock Android—starts with just 33.

This is not how you strengthen customer satisfaction.