Saturday, May 31, 2014

What is the difference between internet radio vs "streaming services"?

I have been using Pandora and iTunes Radio, and have heard about Spotify.  Apple's soon-to-be completed purchase of Beats Music intensified my interest in understanding and communicating the difference.

Pandora and iTunes Radio enable users to create the equivalent of a radio station based on a song or artist.  With both, listen to ads or pay to listen ad-free.  This means that a playlist is made for users.

Spotify enables users to play specific desired songs at will, in playlists.  The users make the playlists.

Beats music is like a modification of Spotify, with playlists to let users explore and get familiar with musicians that are all built by humans.

I buy most songs I want, and make my own playlists.  However, services are great ways to explore music.

Time magazine has a decent article describing the features of many online music services.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Apple and Apple TV - is a revolution possible?

The future of Apple TV... This is a defining moment for the future of Apple and Steve Cook.  There is absolutely HUGE excitement about the idea of a truly revolutionary TV experience.  But why?

I look at Tivo.  Tivo was so revolutionary, when compared to a VHS recorder.  VHS.  VHS is a relic, and that is what I have to compare to Tivo.  They innovated, and stopped, from my perspective.  We have the experience that could be described by some as exactly the same decade later.  What are my chief Tivo complaints?

  • The remote.  I can no longer control volume - the volume controls are worn out!  I keep buying replacement remotes...
  • Why does it seem to take 50 clicks to get to content?
  • Skipping commercials is... still too hard.  And commercials are too loud!
  • Watching recorded content is too limited.  Why can't I watch on my computer or iPhone or iPad and have it extraordinarily easy to navigate?
  • It costs a lot for what I get.
What complaints do I have about the Apple TV?
  • Why can't I control volume?
  • Why can't I search other content sources - like netflix?
  • I have to have an iTunes server in my home to get the most from Apple TV.  This is a barrier to many new users.
  • Why does it take so many clicks to go from my TV show playlist to get to a movie, and back again?
  • Why do I still end up with letterboxed HD content on my HD TV through my Apple TV?
So what would make for a revolutionary apple TV to me?  Some comments assume that the next version would have a screen or additional control over an attached TV.
  • iTunes Match for all media - audio books, movies, tv shows, and even books.  This would make a need for an iTunes server gone - let Apple run the iTunes server!  I could sync all media to my iOS devices without plugging into a computer.
  • Help us, let us control the volume.  If Apple controlled the TV, the entire TV, this could be done even if I use a FireTV, Roku, Tivo, over the air digital TV, or a cable/satellite TV box.  There seems to be zero will or interest in the TV industry at fixing this very broken feature.
    • do that from my computer, iPhone, or iPad - then my remotes to change the volume do not always eventually break!
    • set minimum/maximum volumes
    • reduce dynamic range for TV commercials - I'd love it if a loud commercial was nearly muted!  A button and/or learning capability using my input to help improve this would be welcome; consumers are ready to help.
    • automatic reduction of dynamic range for movies - all movies these days seem to have quiet whispering moments you cannot hear, and ear-crushing loud times that wake the whole house during late-night movie watching by other family members.  The ability to adjust the range acceptable for me would be helpful.
    • let me use headphones in my iOS device to listen to my video on my TV, and mute my TV if I want.  How would I use this?  When I go for a snack or break and other TV watchers do not want to pause, I can continue to participate!  Also, I can listen and mute the TV and let the room be silent for others.
    • If I could put a microphone in my baby's or child's room to prevent the volume in my room from getting loud in the child's room - that could be awesome!
    • Hooking in a baby monitor to AppleTV could be awesome.
  • Search/Navigation
    • Give me the equivalent of iOS multitasking - a home button to switch from one content piece to another, so when I stop watching a TV series in the middle to watch a movie, it is only a click or two to get my place back.  If this could work across content sources, it would be best.  Imagine clean navigation directly from a specific TV series in netflix, to a movie in netflix, to a TV series in iTunes
    • Let me search and find content across different providers.  Netflix search is ok and all, but it is just not that useful at this point.
    • OK, let me search at all!  When I am browsing movies, I need the option to search by name (other than by scrolling through the list)
    • Voice search could be awesome.  The concept of voice search through the remote might work.
    • Give me a way or ways to skip ahead 15 seconds or a minute (and back).
  • Black screen
    • The ability to have a truly black screen with zero light but letting me continue to listen could be very powerful for those who listen to TV as they go to sleep.
  • Gaming - of course, there have been many rumors that Apple TV will support games in the future.  I am interested to see what happens in this space.   Something more than airplay of iOS gams to Apple TV could be welcome.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

My favorite Apple reporter - Daniel Eran Dilger

Update 11/1/14:  I cannot find a good index to Mr. Dilger's articles.  Much to my surprise, Apple Insider provides no such index!  So when I feel like it, I will update this blog post with new articles for my reference, and yours.

Original 5/25/14 blog post:

I admit that I had all but given up hope that news reporting about Apple would forever be completely anti-Apple.  With a bias so clear and strong, ignoring so many facts, I could not understand how the industry could stand.

Apple re-invigorated the tech industry and much of the media industry.  Without Apple, Android would not be what it is today.  Without Apple, Samsung has admitted that it would not be what it is today.  Without Apple, cellular companies around the world would not be where they are at with technology and sales.  And music sales would not be what they are.  Apple has created whole new industries too.  App sales are one example.  Alternative TV content distribution boxes are another.

The only consistent reporter and editorial author with a view that looks to examine facts others ignore or distort is Daniel Eran Dilger.  He authors numerous lengthy pieces with insight and analysis into all things Apple.   I want to credit Phillip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune's Apple 2.0 who has consistently reported on Mr. Dilger's editorials.

Mr. Dilger writes for,  also has an online magazine,  He has also been a frequent guest on

Articles list:

Searching AppleInsider for Daniel's articles, well, it kind of sucks today.  Many other authors quote him but link to articles not by Mr. Dilger.  Here is a list for reference, as complete as I was willing to make it by hand.

January, 2015:

December 2014:

November 2014:

October 2014:
September 2014:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Apple websites, blogs, and news sites I use

I looked back on my pre-iPhone days to a Treo650 blog I once ran.  I found a very useful blog listing the many Palm/Treo websites I used frequently.  It is high time to list some sites I use with frequency now:
Apple Insider -- My favorite Apple reporter, Daniel Eran Dilger, is a regular.
ArsTechnica Apple - sometimes long insightful articles
CNN Money AKA Fortune Apple 2.0 - Phillip Elmer-DeWitt
Daring Fireball -- John Gruber - There is also a Podcast "The Talk Show With John Gruber"
GigaOM Apple -- Om Malik has put together a great team.
Mac Observer -- John Martellaro
Mac Stories -- Interesting thoughtful articles
Macworld -- Kirk McElhern, iTunes Guy
slashdot Apple
Taste of Apple Tech
TidBITS -- Managing Editor John Centers
TechNightOwl - Gene Steinberg's "PC news" program.
  • I now mostly just get the audio podcast every week.
  • Not strictly about Apple, but often is very Apple focused.
Sites I'm looking into:
iMore -- Managing Editor Peter Cohen
TĂșaw -- has a daily podcast and a weekly podcast I'm checking out also.
ZDNet Apple
CNET Apple

Do you have a favorite Apple website or podcast?  Do you have further comments about these sites?  Leave a comment.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Apple Mavericks 9.3

Really known as v10.9.3, this update has been in the news quite a bit.  As you read on, you will get the point that it is all about security fixes.

I'm here to say that there are many features I cannot comment on, do not use, and will not be testing now:
  • 4K screen support
  • 15" macbook pro retina screen support
  • better support for smb shares, network home directories, AD (Active Directory) groups - not something I'm dealing with at this time
  • better IPsec VPN support - I use one, but had not seen problems and still see none
  • Post Script Type 1 fonts
  • added (back?) syncing calendar and contact via OS X and iOS - I use iCloud, so, I do not do this.
  • More data about security updates are not yet posted - I look forward to reading it when available: Apple security update list page

What is in there?
  • Safari 7.0.3 -- This is all about security updates.  I am not testing at the level needed to verify; I will just enjoy better security for these issues.  They are critical - arbitrary code execution fixes always are.
  • iTunes 11.2
    •  It is reported to have security fixes that stop people who could have gotten your iTunes credentials - see here.
    • A hangup while performing Genius updates is supposed to be fixed.  That is very welcome
    • This update seems mainly about an improved podcasts interface.  There are buttons when looking at the podcast view to see what you want, and another improved settings interface accessed with a button.
      • View: Quickly find unplayed episodes
      • Settings: Save episodes, Auto delete episodes that have already been played
My first use of iTunes 11.2 meant that hitting the iTunes store was very very slow.  I believe this was due to an attempt to download a ton of podcast content I had just set to not be downloaded... I mostly do podcasts on my iPhone; I don't need them on my computer.

After getting in, I hit up an ad for the new Coldplay album, Ghost Stories, via an iTunes Radio feature, First ->Play.  This is not really a 10.9.3 thing, but it is the first time I happen to have seen this.

UPDATE: check out this article if you cannot find /Users in finder: Apple Insider - 4.9.3 bug and work around

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Too many pundits, not enough happy people

I harken back to the Treo 650 from Palm as I gaze at my iPhone 5 and think about how far things have come in 10 years:

  • No junkware on my phone
  • I can talk on the phone and use my cellular data plan at the same time
  • Visual voicemail - so much better than "press 4 to hear the message again"
  • A revolution in data plans - they do not have to cost an arm and a leg, and were even unlimited usage for a while.
  • Sane mobile management of media - I could watch movies on my Treo 650, but it really was a novelty.  Now I have music, movies, audiobooks, podcasts, books, magazines... wow!
  • Usable decent camera, with a flash no less!  They used to actually be hard to use...
  • Small, with no antenna!  I once had 3 in a front pocket...
  • No more butt dialing!
  • Worldwide development of apps, in an app store where things are safer than on the net in general.
    • Games!  Wow.
    • Auto-updating apps!
  • Easy access to buy media, wirelessly!  And I can access my entire music library without having it on my phone.
  • Security - encrypted phones!  Regular updates including security fixes when needed.
  • Sensors - enabling mapping, brightness that adjusts intelligently, fitness applications (even without an external device), and enabling mobile gaming
  • Apps that integrate with other systems:
    • remote management of my Apple TV, Keynote on my computer
    • Thermostats
    • integration with fitness/health devices
    • remote payment or payment integration via passbook or applications.  I pay for local parking meters with an app.
    • Anything/everything in the future, it seems
  • Productivity apps on tiny devices that make sense - I can make a movie and edit it on my phone?!?
  • My old phone is plenty good enough for someone else to use it for a long time - the longevity of utility of an old iPhone is huge.  My old iPhone 4 from 2010 will be happily in use probably for another year.


Dear Apple, please fix these things

I have been happily using my Apple products for quite some time.  However, there are a number of features and characteristics of working with Apple that many users and I would like Apple to fix or make operate differently:

  1. Put back chapter use/browsing for audiobooks in IOS.  Lots of us miss this feature.
  2. Honor start/ending time settings set in iTunes for movies in IOS and AppleTV.  It used to work.  It still works in iTunes.
  3. The movie browsing and playlist browsing interface should be similar in IOS and AppleTV.   I would like to search genres and play movie playlists on my iPhone and iPad.
  4. IOS movie images are wrong, sometimes.  Fix it.
  5. Sometimes loading my movie library list into my iPad fails.  A reboot of the iPad typically fixes this problem, but go back to that not being necessary.
  6. The new 'cover flow' replacement on iPhone really gets in my way and gets me turning on screen lock;  this feels like the clumsy interface features of non-Apple devices.  I'm listening to an audiobook, turn my iPhone sideways, have a stray finger press, and now I am many many clicks away from listening to my audiobook.   The same is true listening to a favorite album!  There is no sense of context, of place in the new  cover flow replacement.
  7. Put logging and controls in the Airport Extreme.  I would love to graph utilization, block websites, and more, without jailbreaking.
  8. I bought 2 iPhone 5 phones a few months shy of 2 years ago.  AppleCare is not showing up for one of them.  However I can only look up orders a maximum of 18 months old.  Thankfully online searchable Google Mail saved the day during my appointment.  3 years would be much better for your customers.
  9. I used to be able to listen to a movie on my iPhone with the screen locked.  It was great when I was on the go, and when an accidental screen touch might completely disrupt my listening pleasure.  This no longer works!  I think it was broken with iOS 7.
That's my short list.  What is yours?