How would you like your shiny new iPhone to last days before needing a recharge?

iPhones

I am guessing you would like that idea very much! Well, two developments may mean that our wish might come true sooner than we realise. At the University of Texas scientists have discovered a way to not only double the power of lithium-ion batteries but also reduce their size and the costs of manufacturing them.

Now if that wasn’t enough, there is even more good news as far as power consumption by devices such as our iPhones and iPads is concerned. By refining the software that runs on our devices, scientists are able to reduce the power consumption, holding out the promise that even though smartphones are getting smarter, their power requirements would reduce.

It’s all to do with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and search-based software engineering that helps find redundant code. This could offer up to 70% reduction in cpu power requirements, which together with advances in lithium-ion battery technology from University of Texas and elsewhere could mean that in the next 3-5 years we would only need to charge our devices maybe once a or twice a week. Together with the possibility of cheaper, lighter and smaller batteries this could make our digital lives a whole lot easier. It could also impact other areas such electric vehicles having greater range due to decreased weight and longer lasting batteries, or in making medical devices such as portable defibrillators or fridges smaller, lighter and longer lasting too. That would be a huge step forward when dealing with disasters or medical emergencies in areas where there is reduced or non-existent power available.

Check out these two articles on TechXplore website:

Never mind the iPhone X, battery life could soon take a great leap forward

Engineers develop new material for better lithium-ion batteries

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What is happening at Apple?

Apple's new iPhone 4S

As I die-hard fan of Apple I often find myself wondering about what Apple is up to, don’t you? Take the latest iPhones for instance. The iPhone X is their most expensive ever and it’s sooo expensive to repair. That shiny new OLED screen, for example, will cost you $279 to get fixed! The screen on their shiny new iPhone 8 Plus screen costs the same to repair as the one on the iPhone 7 Plus at $179. It doesn’t stop there either. Other repairs will cost you $549 which is breathtaking!

If you are not a US citizen then the current rate of exchange gives Apple the excuse to charge us Brits for example £286 to repair the iPhone X screen. The current rate of exchange means $279 + £212.52, which means us Brits are paying an extra £73.48! There is no way Apple can justify this. Its a similar situation with it’s other charges. This is particular galling in light of the billions of unpaid tax that Apple gets away with by using offshore banks to ‘launder its money’. Yes, you heard right, I said ‘launder its money’. Now normally the term ‘money laundering’ (which I didn’t use – take note any Apple lawyers reading this) is used to refer to criminals cleaning their ill-gotten gains through the use of complicit banks or supposedly legitimate businesses.

So, let’s be clear here folks, I am not accusing Apple of ‘money laundering’. I am saying however that its business practices as far as paying it’s fair shares of taxes in countries where it operates is as bad as those of criminals who do commit money-laundering. I say that because when a company doesn’t pay it’s fair share of taxes and instead uses all sorts of financials shenanigans to avoid doing so, it is not that dissimilar to my mind to the way a criminal organisations carries out it’s financial dealings.

It pains me to say that I have lost faith in Apple (and Amazon & Google as well) and no longer see them as some sort of benevolent organisation dedicated to bringing tech into the world that makes life better and does so without harming the environment or the communities it impacts. Unfortunately, all of us as consumers face a dilemma when it comes to the likes of Apple. Amazon and Google. We have become dependent on the tech they provide us with or use to provide their services to us. It’s difficult to see how we can extricate ourselves from this without significantly changing our lifestyles.

During Steve Job’s reign at Apple there was a feeling that the company was different from all the rest (Dell, IBM, HP and Compaq etc), that it’s ethos was altogether different. Now Apple is worth $752bn and has sales of $217.48bn a year. According to the IMF, it is, in fact, larger than the annual gross domestic products of every country on earth, bar 19 of them (based on GDP in US dollars, according to International Monetary Fund data for 2014). The truth is, companies like Apple, Amazon and Google are so big and so powerful that we can no longer think of them as benevolent companies who only seek to do good. Remember Google’s motto: “Don’t be evil“? Well, I am not sure anymore that any of these companies don’t do evil, in the sense that if you are not manifestly ‘doing good’ then you must be, even if only by omission, doing the opposite to some extent. Do you recall the quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It was Edmund Burke who said that. He was an Irish statesman born in Dublin, as well as an author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher who, after moving to London, served as a member of parliament for many years in the House of Commons with the Whig Party. [Wikipedia].

So, coming back to my original question:”what is happening at Apple?”, I don’t really know but they say that you can know a tree by it’s fruit and for me, I can only see bad apples are starting to make up more of the crop from their particular tree. It’s not just about money (well it is, mostly) but also about how materialism, consumerism, capitalis – whatever ‘ism’ you choose -are impacting our lives, fuelling our desires for more expensive tech. Examples would be the scheme where you can get a new iPhone every year. This is consuming so many resources and I would doubt that all the energy and resources spent on fuelling this are recovered through recycling. So, whatever the degree to which the iPhones over 1 year old are recycled there will still be a net cost to the environment. At the rate Apple is growing this must be unsustainable and frankly someone needs to hold Apple to account. I know that I won’t be jumping on that particular bandwagon. I am keeping my iPhone 6 Plus for at least another year and then I will make sure it gets recycled. Who knows, I may continue to use long after Apple brings out the iPhone XI or whatever they will name it.

Oh, in case you are wondering, I am writing this on my Mid 2014 MacBook Pro. I also have a Mac Pro made in 2009, which I regularly use. It has a graphics card that is almost as old. Believe it or not, I even have a G3 in the shed that last time I dusted it off still worked and ran OS 8!

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New life for an old dog?


Apple introduces the Mac Pro 12 Core DesktopI have two Macs – a Macbook Pro and a Mac Pro (2009 4-core). My laptop is reasonably new (MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014) but my Mac Pro is  getting a bit tired, to say the least. I did update the graphics card with an AMD Radeon 4000 series pc card and boosted the RAM to 16GB. I also installed additional drives inc a SSD. However, I do see too much of the spinning beach ball these days. That may be to me running Windows 8.1 under Parallels but even when just running OS X alone I still see the beach ball spin far too often.

The question is, is it time to retire the old dog? Shall I invest in a shiny new iMac 27″ all-singing, all-dancing Skylake super computer? Thoughts anyone and if you know of a cost-effective to squeeze more life out of the old dog do let me know.

“Hey Siri, give us a hint.”


“Hey Siri, give us a hint.” So Apple has decided to tease us all again with a hint about the announcements to come on September 9 at 10 a.m. PDT.

Apple Event Sept 9th 2015

Speculation, as always, has been rife about exactly what is to come. Most commentators agree that it will be a new iPhone though no-one can agree if it’s effectively an iPhone 7 or an iPhone 6s. However, the reference to Siri may mean that Siri is going to get an update (none to soon either for some of us). Microsoft’s Cortana is impressive and Apple needs to pull something special out of the bag if it’s to regain its crown.

Other mooted announcements will an option to have the new iPhone in Rose Gold, along with Force Touch, brought over from the new MacBook. There are rumours too of an improved camera. Another expected announcement is an update to the Apple TV, which is also in need of an update. However, no-one really expects an actual Apple Television. Finally, the next big thing that is a possibility is an iPad Pro, with a larger screen, somewhere around 12″.

However, we don’t have long to wait and I for one will be watching the Keynote live.

Windows 10 on my Power Mac?


Well, as I run Windows on my old 2009 Power Mac (using Parallels) I decided to take advantage of the free upgrade to version 10. However, not on my Power Mac but first a trial run on my old PC laptop. So far I much prefer version 10 of Windows to version 8. Not sure yet if I prefer it over version 7 though.

I will keep you posted on how it goes. If and when I feel it’s bug free etc I will update Parallels to latest version and install it on my Power Mac. Looking forward to updating to latest OS X too but unsure of which to do first – Mac OS X upgrade or Windows 10? Any thoughts?

Update on iPhone 6 Plus


Well, I was really enjoying my supersized iPhone 6 Plus, that is until the screen started playing up! The bottom third of the screen developed a fault and started displaying a striped pattern (similar to a barcode on acid!) that made if difficult to see the icons etc below. Straight away I was onto EE (whom I bought the handset from). After some discussion it was decided that as it was still under warranty and because Apple provide such good customer service (in my experience that is true), I range them. After going through some hoops (backing up, resetting the phone etc) they agreed to replace it and in a few days I had my shiny new replacement. A few days later UPS picked up the broken one.

So, now I am once again enjoying my iPhone 6 Plus. Lessons to be learned – make sure you regularly backup your phone (if its an iPhone then this easily done via iTunes).

iPhone 6 Plus User Review

iPhones

For a few years now I have been using the iPhone 4S as my smartphone. After my business contract with Orange came to an end I managed to negotiate a cut in my monthly bill by more than half for a better package. Instead of £35 pcm (plus VAT) I managed to get unlimited everything for just £15 pcm (plus VAT) for a 12 months contract. This was because I was keeping my old phone (2 years old by then) and had threatened to move networks for a better deal.

This was a pretty good deal but when the opportunity came round to switch I started looking around for a better deal. Truth is, I really wanted a new iPhone and the question was, ‘which one?’ Did I get an iPhone 5 or did I get the new iPhone 6, and if so, did I go for the Plus or not? Decisions, decisions, decisions! After checking all the various websites for the best deals around, inputting all the info into a spreadsheet (a must in my book) and checking was it better to buy the phone outright or get another deal where I paid something up front (but not the full price) but paid more per month. After several days of shopping around, talking to EE (Orange and T-Mobile are now part of EE – Everything Everywhere), I worked out I would be better off buying the phone outright and getting a 12 month SIM-only deal.

So, off I went to the Apple Store online and tried to order my new iPhone 6 Plus. However, there was a 3-4 weeks delay for delivery. I even rang them up and asked was that really the case but they assured me it was – no explanation given – so that was it. Do I order now and put up with the delay, or do I find somewhere to buy it in person. I decided to call into my local EE store and ask. Turns out I could get it that day (as long it was the 64GB Gold version) but it was £10 cheaper than on the Apple Store! However, I had to buy it with a SIM and £10 of credit! Even if I got a 12-month contract with unlimited texts and messages, along with 2GB Data (so-called double-data even) I still had to buy the other SIM with the £10 credit – crazy or what!

So, in the end I bought it with the 12-month SIM-only deal (and have kept the £10 SIM for an emergency) and walked out the same day with my shiny new iPhone 6 Plus. I still had to arrange to carry across my existing number (too much hassle to notify everyone of a different number), as well as order a nice protective case and screen protector (from ZAGG) – more of that in another post. However, I was happy and couldn’t wait to get home and set up my new brick of an iPhone.

How am I finding it? Well, its certainly big – very big! But, you know what, I like the fact that it is big. I am a middle aged bloke who has fat fingers (from playing guitar and arthritis!) and in comparison the iPhone 4S screen is tiny. This always gave me problems especially when trying to type notes on the darn thing. Now its so much easier with all the room on the larger screen – many fewer mishits it has to be said. Also, the new model is really light and I love the longer battery life – very noticeable in my personal experience. I also love the extra storage and I think, personally, the price is not too expensive considering I am getting 64GB compared to the 16GB of my old iPhone 4S, as well as a 4G capable smartphone

Well, in the couple of weeks or so I have had it I am very happy with my iPhone 6 Plus. It may be too big for most folk but I am not interested in my iPhone as a fashion accessory so size isn’t so much an issue as it might be for some folks.  In fact, I was thinking of getting an iPad Mini and an iPhone 5S but in the end I am happy with just the iPhone 6 Plus – I can do most things on it that I would have done on an iPad and this way I only carry around 1 device instead of 2.

I will post about my experience of using it long-term at a future date but I can’t honestly see me regretting my decision. Before then I will post about my experience of buying a case for the phone and a screen protector.