No need to feel lost after iPhone update?

I have a Google alert feed set up iOS and the iPhone. I know, ironic right, given Google mapping has been ripped from underneath it and we’re left with Apple junk. Well this article has shown up (http://bit.ly/Tap2LT), one of many that exemplifies how the mainstream media is missing the fundamental point on what’s broke in iPhone maps. Everything.

The problem with Apple’s mapping being broken isn’t one app, it’s about all the other things around it that are broken. For example, Siri used to know where “home” was and could set reminders when I arrived back. Since iOS6 its lost the plot, offers me the ability to specify “home”, then ignores it and just repeats the same list of options that include “home”.

Other things have also broken, any app that foolishly was using map services in iOS is now hosed if any type of address information is involved. The address to postcode or location mapping is fundamentally broken and it throws you anywhere in the vague area (within miles).

What really winds me up however is how Apple won’t:

– Admit the extent of the problem (and devs were reporting this six months ago in beta)
– Won’t say when they’ll fix it
– Claim you can just install someone else’s thing

Seriously? You’re the worlds biggest company and you’re more concerned with shipping an iPad mini before Christmas than addressing the goo that’s leaked out of your mapping.

Remember this is a company that doesn’t allow refunds, sells its products through contracts with other people and basically takes away all your rights through mandatory legal agreements, and has one of the most evasive anti-recycling policies in product design out there.

I’m sorry you have too much power, too little care, and saying sorry over and over again only gets you so far. In the end, you can keep your tech and your lack of empathy as this isn’t how such companies should behave and there’s better out there.

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iPhone 4s Quirks

Yes the iPhone 4s is a fun little beast but it’s not without its foibles.  Here are my discoveries:

WiFi Off = Bleating Location Services
WiFi On = Bleating Connection Services

Yeah you can’t win.  If WiFi is off then the location services moan that they’re not as accurate only running on GPS; I presume as it makes it harder in buildings.  However if you turn WiFi On then you’re constantly annoyed by WiFi networks you can’t connect to.

WiFi Off = 3G = Battery Issues
Personal Hotspot = 3G = Battery Issues

Over time I think I’ve narrowed this problem down.  The 3G data demands in the iPhone use a lot of power and generate a lot of heat in the process.  Too much heat.

There’s clearly an issue.  I had wanted to run my iPhone 4S exclusively on my unlimtied 3G data plan, and augment it with a Personal Hotspot however now I’m not sure if I’ll kill the phone if I do.  The phone can burn 1% of battery per minute on 3G if you’re not careful and that generates MASSIVE amounts of heat.  I hope we see a 3G data patch soon.

Stuck Siri / Deaf Voice to Text

I think this problem is triggered by unreliable WiFi.  For some reason my home ISP is having traffic problems; with large data packets the packet error rate rockets.  In particular unusual data rather than normal web traffic; Microsoft Messenger for example has bugged out for weeks.

It was while half-connected to my home ISP that Siri stopped working, along with voice to text.  Wherever I went afterwards it was all broken.  The fix however was equally bizarre as there’s no “Siri” app to force closed:

  1. Settings->General->Siri->Off
  2. Power Off Phone (hold power then swipe)
  3. Power On Phone (hold power)
  4. Settings->General->Siri-On

In short, it needs some work.  In fact, Siri and the location services need some work.  For example, telling Siri to remind me about something when home is often evaded by my home WiFi.  Disconnecting from it results in a location reminder then appearing.

Whatever is going on, unreliable links are not its forte.  It’s a classic example of creating a product in a sandbox and then totally underestimating the real world.  Still, its software and updatable, so hopefully Apple will realise and unravel these problems.

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Why I chose an iPhone 4s

I’m sorry Google, Samsung, Microsoft and Nokia. I really wanted to break out of one walled garden and explore another. None of your devices are truly free and none of your offerings truly perfect.

Originally I looked at my iPod Touch 64GB and lamented. If I ran a Personal Hotspot I could share a new phone with it and double-up on my experience using both Android or Windows Phone and iOS. However when I compared what was available I decided keeping things simple and converging my iPod and phone into one device made the most logical sense; less to charge, less to find and less to learn.

I did however do it grudgingly but lured by a simple fact:

I could sign up to a mobile phone contract for little more than my unlimited home broadband that gave me unlimited untethered phone broadband at least 2.5 times faster than I can get into my house.

The choice was just too compelling.

So it came down to swapping my very basic phone for something else; something Personal Hotspot capable and high end to cover the period of the contract. My options were diverse but I creamed the crop to:

  • iPhone 4s
  • Nokia Lumia 800
  • Samsung Galaxy S2
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Each had a compelling set of reasons to buy.

iPhone 4s

  • Small, good phone size, yet HD screen.
  • Proven technology from my iPod Touch, migrate everything without paying more.
  • First iPhone with 64GB (essential for me).
  • Won the Gadget Show power-use tests with 8 hours and beating all others.
  • Guaranteed at least two major firmware updates in its lifetime

Interesting to note, Siri was not on my list of advantages. Of the negatives:

  • Same, boring UI, not dated, but no access to technical content either
  • Some browser incompatibilities, yet I believe Apple is right to be Flash stubborn
  • Expensive and part of the Apple walled garden

Nokia Lumia 800

  • First real Windows Phone contender
  • Solid Nokia Design, small and phone like
  • Excellent camera and offline maps built in
  • Real early adopter platform leading to the Windows 8 future
  • Galaxy S2 level quality of OLED display

Negatively however:

  • No commitment to updates, not even Windows Phone 8.0
  • Functionally limited, although Microsoft is rapidly getting up to the leaders
  • 800×600 res display limited by Windows Phone OS; no new phones will be higher res until WP8
  • Small flash storage with unibody design and no ability to add more
  • No Personal Hotspot support yet (although vaguely promised by Nokia)

Galaxy Samsung S2

  • Amazing high spec phone
  • Great OLED display, excellent graphics acceleration
  • Dripping in features, including 5GHz, DLNA software, upgradable flash memory

Negatively:

  • Running Android 2.4 although version 4.0 now out
  • Rumours of 4.0 upgrade, but no official word
  • 800×600 res display, trumped by Nexus and iPhone
  • Somewhat large and unpocketable
  • Android Marketplace is like the wild west, and then paid software costs more than Apple

Galaxy Nexus

  • Concept phone developed by Samsung for Google
  • Latest Android 4.0, pure and not messed around with by Samsung
  • Jaw dropping amazing HD screen that knocks it out of the park

The negatives however are long:

  • Way too big to be a serious phone
  • Graphics processor is very slow compared to Galaxy S2
  • 5 mega-pixel camera is very poor quality
  • No flash memory upgrade and on-board flash is very small
  • Looked like a Samsung concept rather than a Galaxy S2 replacement
  • Limited Android Marketplace as new version just out

Conclusion
So in the end things just didn’t stack up. I wanted the perfect Android or Windows Phone and none could offer me that. Worse, none would commit to software updates to carry them forward over my contract, which was also a deal breaker.

I really wanted to be an early adopter with Windows Phone and I was prepared to take the negatives on the Lumia 800 if Nokia would commit to updates through to Windows Phone 8.0 and beyond.

So in the end, I decided that the iPhone 4s was a unique upgrade over the iPhone 4 and the one for me. Specifically because:

  • Had everything I loved in the iPod Touch 4G 64GB
  • No need to buy apps again, just restore from backup
  • Doubled the processor power and seven times the graphics speed
  • One of the few small high-spec phones left on the market
  • Gorilla glass on the front and back mean you can’t scratch it, finger print resistant coating
  • Apple rumoured to be releasing the iPhone 5 in a year with a unibody aluminium design similar to their laptops. I hate their unibody designs and their scratchy metal backs. The iPhone 3 was horrid
  • One device to rule them all

So there you go. I lamented, analysed, theorise and frustrated myself. However, a little grudgingly this is where I ended up. That said, I’m ecstatic with the freedom of being always on the internet, Siri is just awesome and the iPhone 4s is a peppy little beast perfectly suited for two to four years of use.

I hope that in a couple of years the hardware of a Galaxy S2, merged with a Galaxy Nexus, shrunk and built by Nokia running Microsoft Windows Phone 8 will be there to compete but sadly that time isn’t here now and as such I’m glad I’m not an early adopter to be left in the gutter.

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Goodbye Facebook

So I’m hovering over the delete button of Facebook button.  That in itself is impossible to find on the Facebook site and sort of sums up my whole mood on the issue.

A quick Google and I found this is a common desire.  Good, the world isn’t as mindless as I’d thought.

My problem with Facebook stemmed long ago from when I was in a supermarket.  I looked at a pack of sausages.  They were inviting me to friend them on their Facebook page.

Seriously?

From then on, Facebook has been like creeping rot to me.  It’s not appropriate to let companies worm themselves into social networks.  It stands in the way of why I even entertain social networking.

Many years ago it started as a magical place where you could do anything.  Vent, rant, complain, or get therapy.  Meet new friends, discover new things.  The commercial exploit of this space broke that as soon as the Mark Zuckerberg mothership landed.

Social networking existed long before Mark started his journey into the php cloud.  If there’s anyone whose killed that world though, its Mark.

Over time its been eroded into a privacy nightmare.  Marketing has overtaken its purpose.  Sure why not link your website to Facebook?  Why not use Facebook to log in to everything?

I’ll tell you why.  Because you’ve just surrendered your privacy without ever knowing.

From the moment you log in you’re tracked.  Everything you do, check, see is being data mined and drawn together in a tapestry of your life.  It sounds quite benign, flattering even, that anyone cares, but the reality is far removed from it just choosing to show you an ad for some soap you might like.

I have a big problem with privacy.  I really do.  I often (very often) hear people categorise privacy into:

– Nothing to hide
– Identity fraud
– How is my data being used?

The true answer is its sort of all these things.  The cold truth is that giving up this privacy right means you’re giving up the right to knowing how your data is used.  You have no recourse or defence until some sorry mess has been created; at this point you as an individual have to unravel what other people have done with data you didn’t even known they’d collected.

This is so so wrong.  You live your life in a innocent and free way, and other people then collate information on you, often incorrectly and then leave you to clean up when something breaks this.

It could be anything.  Medical records, a speeding ticket, a failed credit check, even the assumption you’re a social predator because you shopped for kids toys once for your nephew.  It’s a frighting and indefensible world, where in the end you need to be a forensic scientist to unravel it.

I long for the day where my identity isn’t known and that I’m free to speak my mind without repercussion.  These days, employers data mine social networks to evaluate a potential candidate; there’s no recourse or defence.  No ability to explain how your day was, or why you needed to let off steam.  Your entire life is being judged without your knowledge.

To me, that’s a horrid situation.  Privacy lost and the heady days of just being able to hang out on the internet long gone.

So I’m breaking a bond.  A key one, in reclaiming my privacy.  Facebook, with your ever growing insidious nature, isn’t going to be one of my links in the chain.

Facebook, goodbye.  It was rarely a pleasure.

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Welcome

So this is basically an experiment. I was originally hosting my blog from my home servers but two things are currently working against me.

#1 I’ve lost the password to my own blog
#2 I seem to be getting an unusually high volume of bot traffic

[2] concerns me the most, as such I’ve moved the blog here until I can work out what to do with the home server. Plus I can monitor the bots and see if they move away.

Fingers crossed. Things like this can be quite tiresome when there’s no time to work on / develop a blog.

:-J

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