Archive for the ‘iPad’ Category


iOS7 thoughts

September 22, 2013

I updated both my iPhone 4s and my third-gen iPad to iOS7, and everything worked fine. I think the default typeface is pretty light, making it a bit more difficult for those of us with older eyes, but it is a kind of a refreshing change…although it tends to look more “Windows-8-like” than I expected from Apple. But the apps seem to work fine. I’ve encountered no problems or speed hits.

But, I have one issue not really related to the update: I am going to move up to a new iMac soon from my aging Mac Pro. I’ve done the research on how to back up the iPhone first, and all of that, but the process still seems very tedious and fraught with potential disaster. Does anybody have a good, simple way to do this?


Stupid iCal tricks

May 29, 2012

I use the Reminders app on my iPhone and iPad a lot. I wish all the functions that are available in iCal were available on the phone, but I still use it without them. I actually use it more now that Siri adds them for me.

I created a new list because I had a bunch of things to do today, and I didn’t want to hunt through the long list. Then I moved the reminders from the default “Reminders” list to the new list. (I did all this on the iPad.)

When I opened Reminders on the iPhone, the new list was there, but the regular “Reminders” list had no entries! They showed up in iCal, and on the iPad, but not on the phone.

Searches through the intertubes didn’t help much, but finally, though, I found an old Apple forum post that said…you guessed it…turn the phone off and then on again. I figured it wouldn’t work since it described behavior from a previous iOS version.

Yeah. That’s all it took. Hold the Sleep button down until the red slider appears, then turn it off, then hold the button again until it starts up.

All my Reminders were there.

One the one hand, duh; on the other, why would you have to do that? I thought all this stuff was in iCloud and synced automatically? I had all the settings correct!

Anyway, they are in there, and that makes me happier. Not delirious, but happier.

Now I’d better get to work…


How I solved my iPhone 4 problem; the new iPad; and problems with iTunes.

March 17, 2012

First, a word to the wise: there are many people having problems with iTunes 10.6. I didn’t, but my daughter has, and so I did a bit of research and found that there were numerous reports of crashes in both Snow Leopard and Lion.

Here’s the link to iTunes v.10.5.3. If all else fails, just go back to the older version until Apple gets it all straightened out.

Now for the big deal…some weeks back my iPhone 4 microphone started to go dead in the middle of calls. It worked for all other uses, like audio recording software. It just didn’t work as a phone. I tried the Reset Network Settings trick (Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings). It worked for a while, then the problem would occur again. I even called AT&T and asked them to reprovision the phone, which they did; that didn’t seem to help at all.

The last couple of weeks the problem sort of went away. Now, I hadn’t been using the phone as much, knowing that it was unreliable. I was traveling back and forth from Illinois to northwestern Ohio every week for the last few, and it made me very nervous knowing the phone was, well, wonky.

So…how did I fix the problem?

I didn’t. My contract was up on March 9, and my wife, bless her heart, ordered me a new iPhone 4S. It arrived last Tuesday. It’s damned skippy.

I wish I had a better solution. I think part of the problem was a hardware issue after all. I did drop it on the concrete driveway last November and completely trashed the screen. I had it replaced at a local electronics repair shop in Naperville. I don’t think the replacement was original Apple issue. It worked fine but the screen always seemed a little bit less sharp and it picked up fingerprints more than the original.

Some of the reports I’ve read about problems like mine ended up to be a hardware problem located up near the headphone jack. I can’t tell you how many times I had headphones on and the phone dropped out of my pocket, leaving it dangling while the ‘phones stayed in my ears. (Ouch!) I could have screwed it up there, somehow. Still, there was no evidence of a mic problem in November. It didn’t show up until late January.

Oh, well. I have the new one in a Griffin Survivor case most of the time. I don’t know about the headphone thing. I use the phone a lot when I’m outside doing yard work. I’ve been using some Motorola bluetooth headphones lately. They didn’t work worth a nickel with the iPhone 4, but they work better with the 4S for some reason. Maybe the antenna redesign helped.

On the other hand, my Jabra Cruiser handsfree speaker won’t link with the new phone. It worked fine with the old one. More research required, I guess…

Oh, and my new iPad came yesterday. Apple is just calling it “the new iPad.” No number. That will be confusing. We had “the original iPad,” then the iPad 2. Now…what?

It’s beautiful, though. It has 1 GB of RAM, which is great, considering my old one had 256 MB of RAM and I ran into a lot of crashes because of running out of memory with some apps. I don’t expect that to be a problem – at least for a while!

The new display is gorgeous. The form factor is appreciated. The original iPad wasn’t heavy, but I always feared I would drop it, even when it was in a case. This one seems to be just more comfortable to handle. I don’t know about battery life yet.

More when I’ve played with it a little.


“Smash” episode 2 – “The Callback”

February 15, 2012
Katherine McPhee as Marilyn Monroe

Katherine McPhee as Marilyn Monroe

Caution – spoilers ahead!

I stand by my previous statements about “Smash” now that I’ve seen the second episode. I didn’t know the name Megan Hilty before, but I did my Wikipedia research since, and discovered that art sort of imitates life. (Yes, I know there are other sources of information. Some are even more reliable, I hear.) Hilty played Glinda in “Wicked” on Broadway and later for a while in the touring show. She has pretty darned good stage credentials. Katherine McPhee, on the other hand, has more experience in the pop music and recording world. Either McPhee is an extremely fine physical actress – and that could be the case, I suppose – or she really is a bit less comfortable with dancing. She really looked much less confident than Hilty, even in the dance segment where she should have it solidly rehearsed. I don’t have a problem with that, but I found it interesting.

The B story about Julia and Frank’s attempt to adopt a baby from China felt a bit flawed to me. First, the resolution of the conflict between the two resulting in Frank’s acceptance was awfully quick. It had that rushed feeling I get at the end of some CSI episodes, when the DNA match comes in and the killer is unmasked two minutes before the end of the episode. I did like the involvement of their son, however. Often teenagers are portrayed as selfish and emotional, and Leo seemed to have a better head on his shoulders than either of his parents.

As I said in my last post, I enjoyed the chemistry between Julia and Tom in the first episode, and I thought that relationship is developing nicely. They have differences of opinion, but they have demonstrated the kind of closeness and mutual respect that you hope to see in two professionals who have worked together for so long. I hope more of the interaction between Julia and Tom takes place on screen. I think a window into the creative process between a lyricist and a composer might be interesting to a general audience, especially if it can be done without being over the top. So far, the show is very subtle and kind of understated. I don’t know if the audience in general will appreciate that, but I sure do!

The scene where Dev expresses his upset with Karen because she didn’t make the dinner with the assistant mayor seemed forced, too. But then, both of them are young and driven. Again, Dev’s sudden change of heart was too abrupt for me. I found her reason for not calling him much more believable. She’s a young, inexperienced girl in the big city, being considered for a starring role in a Broadway musical by a womanizing, temperamental director. No pressure there!

I was so impressed with the pacing of the pilot that those little things bothered me. Many TV dramas today are written with condensed plotline timeframes, so many viewers probably didn’t even notice it. Reading what I just wrote, I feel like I’m writing a soap opera column. The show didn’t have that kind of feel at all. In my view they got it 95% right, and that’s far more than most any other new television drama I’ve seen in years. Theresa Rebeck, who created the series and wrote the scripts for the whole 15 episodes, is to be congratulated. Skillfully done. Kudos to director Michael Mayer as well.

No comment on the reveal as to who was selected to play Marilyn – I think that’s a feint; the star on opening night doesn’t have to be the one selected today.

I wasn’t able to watch the episode when it was broadcast. I was willing to pay the three bucks to get it from iTunes. The sound is great in the HD version, also, even on the iPad!


“Smash” – I think I’m going to like this!

February 13, 2012

Megan Hilty and male chorus in "the baseball number"

The new NBC television series, “Smash,” is an interesting little thing. First – and I’ve only seen the pilot so far – it has every stereotype and trope of the story-about-Broadway genre I’ve ever seen…but they are all handled with great skill by the songwriters, writers and actors. The result is a very enjoyable 45 minutes with enough little chuckles and uplifting musical moments to make want to see what comes next. Isn’t that what a pilot is all about?

Characters are well-drawn but the can be partly because they are so stereotypical. The ingenue from Iowa – yes, Iowa; the womanizing director, the gay songwriter, the struggling chorus girl.

Debra Messing plays her part as half of the songwriting team subtly and with great skill. Her chemistry with Christian Bole is delightful. (Okay, I think in the dictionary under the term “winning smile” there is a picture of Debra Messing.) In fact, I didn’t see a weak cast member in this episode. Even Emory Cohen, who plays Messing’s teenaged son, Leo, does a fine understated job with the few lines he has in two scenes.

Jack Davenport, as director/choreographer Derek Willis, channels his inner Alan Rickman and is the character you love to hate. I hope he can sustain the balance between genius and horse’s ass required of his character.

Katherine McPhee. I have to say, I never watch “American Idol,” so I had no idea who this young lady is. However, her audition solo piece in the middle of this episode show in less than three minutes why it was possible to build a television series around her. She really is a musician. Great sound, great range, with a subtle kind of control. Megan Hilty is a superb talent as well, but her performances just show how much better McPhee is. I’m sure they will be an interesting pair throughout the season – two driven, talented young women competing with each other. That will undoubtably be a major plot point throughout the series.

I realize I’ve been using more superlatives than I usually ever do…and now that I’ve watched it a second time, I stand by my statements. Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman wrote some fine songs, and they know the requirements of both Broadway and television, having experience that ranges from writing “Hairspray” for Broadway to multiple Academy Award and Emmy  Awards shows.

Angelica Huston does a credible job as the angel behind “Marilyn – the Musical,” but she is one of the reasons why HD television is not good for everyone – her makeup seemed heavy, designed to cover her age and creating an almost mask-like appearance. She’s still a more than competent actress – I’m sure having her in the cast will provide the writers with many dramatic opportunities later on in the show.

Students of television should study how this was done – how it was written, shot, acted, and produced. There was one flaw that I detected – the director has to give instruction to a dancer in rehearsal, and it was no more authentic in terminology than the portrayal of any musician in “Law and Order.” (Meaning not very…I loved that show, but dang, they really couldn’t portray a convincing musician or conductor to save their lives.) This show immediately made up for it by going right into “the baseball number,” which was enjoyable on so many levels. It reminded me a bit of the airline number in Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz.”  (Fosse’s alter ego, played by Roy Scheider, takes a campy and downright trite song about commercial air travel and turns it into a stunning, seductive piece full of sexual innuendo. And I mean that in a good way. You should check out that film.)

One cute trick: all the show-related computer users – songwriters, actresses, etc. – are using Macs. The one Windows laptop I noticed was used by Messing’s husband, who is definitely not in the theater or music business. Messing also gets to put in a little plug for the iPad early in the episode.

I’ll probably watch this pilot, or at least the musical numbers, a few more times. It was a real pleasure to watch. I look forward to how the story – and the musical – will unfold.


Halloween Angry Birds and more

October 26, 2011

I’m not a games guy, but I’ve found I can waste a lot of time very enjoyably playing Angry Birds – all three versions – on the iPad. Not on the iPhone, mind you – anybody who can do that has tiny fingers and great eyes. But I’ve caught the dang AB bug like millions of others. This image is from a pumpkin carving contest sponsored by TMZ. It doesn’t look like much carving was done to create it, but it’s cool anyway.

You can also get a stencil at that site so you can carve your jack-o-lantern this year to look like a portrait of Ice-T. Who doesn’t need that?

Ice-T is very unhappy!


Little stuff

October 12, 2011

I read this in a Tweet from Frank J. Fleming: it’s nice that Blackberry decided to have 3 days of silence in honor of Steve Job’s passing.

Speaking of Steve and Apple, today is the day the iCloud is open for business and iOS 5 is available. I started to download it for my iPad and iTunes said it would take 12 hours. The servers must be “a little busy.”

I’ve not updated either Mac to OSX Lion yet. I don’t know how involved the updates for applications will be and I don’t really need the upgrade to the OS as much as I need the apps. The iOS is different. It seems most everything I need should work with it. At least, I hope it will.

I looked at upgrading to the iPhone 4S. I only bought my iPhone 4 last fall, so I would have to pay the higher price for a new one from AT&T – a minimum of $ 450! Not going to happen. Not just for voice control and the few other big things, sorry. If it had been the rumored iPhone 5, with a bigger screen, it would have been different. Sorry, guys. I pass on this one. My wife is getting one, but she’s been using my old hand-me-down 3GS.

I guess the pretty weather is about gone. Too bad. It’s been really nice. I’m going to really miss it – I’ve gotten awfully used to near-perfect weather!



Steven Paul Jobs, 1955-2011

October 5, 2011

The “insanely great” Steve Jobs finally lost his battle with cancer. I figure what went on today was something like this:

St. Peter: Hello, Steve.

Steve: Hi! It sure is great to get out of that bag!*

St. Peter (checking Steve’s name off on his iPad): Go on in, man. We’ve been waiting for you. We’re glad you’re here!

*If you don’t get the reference, check just after 3:00 on this:

We’re sure glad you were with us, Steve, and that you brought us so much with your unique talents. I’m writing this on my three-month-old MacBook Pro. My life would not have been anything close to what it is without the vision and passion of Steve Jobs. There are millions of people like me out there now. We should all strive to bring even a little of that kind of vision and passion to bear in our own lives.

I’m sorry to see you go, Steve, but I know that you were in great pain. Now that pain is gone. May God be with you, and may He comfort your family in this time of their loss.



Jobs resigns as CEO of Apple, Inc.

August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs promo photo from the first issue of MacWorld when the Macintosh was introduced in 1984

Steve Jobs, who has revitalized Apple over the last 14 years and made it one of the most successful and most talked-about companies in America, has stepped down from the CEO position. He has been ill for some time, originally from pancreatic cancer. He received a liver transplant and has been treated in a variety of ways but he and Apple have been very close-mouthed about his health situation.

Tim Cook, COO, has been moved up to the CEO position. He had been running Apple since January when Steve took a leave of absence. Steve remains as Chairman of Apple’s board. He recommended Cook for the position in his resignation letter. This ensures a smooth transition and there should be little disruption in the day-to-day operation of Apple.

But day-to-day wasn’t Steve’s bit. Steve is the vision guy. Somehow – and nobody, probably Steve included, understands how – he has an incredible ability to pick winners. Apparently he pushed and pushed the design teams for the iPhone and iPad until he was satisfied…apparently he pushed them far more than other design teams at other companies do, as evidenced by their competing products. Historically he has been very demanding of his people, and very opinionated. He’s been able to do it because (a) he’s been mainly right, and (b) because he’s been right so often they make a lot of money. I don’t think he “invents” in the traditional sense of the word, but he “filters” – taking the ideas of others and determining which of those are the best and most marketable. That is a particular kind of genius.

If you read a biography of Steve Jobs, you will see that he had absolutely no training for such a thing. He’s a college dropout, was kind of a Seventies hippie – slash – tech geek, but he has something – something you can’t learn at Harvard Business School. I don’t know where it comes from.

I want to believe that without his guidance Apple will continue to innovate the way it has for the last decade and a half. The history of Apple from 1985 to 1995 doesn’t support that belief, of course. A parade of poor management almost destroyed the company. When Jobs came back, it was like a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t the design people who were at fault, but those who decided what direction the company should go in. In other words, the leadership. Somehow, Steve Jobs is a leader. He doesn’t fit most of the models that have been thrown out there the last few decades for what a leader should be, but you can’t argue with the numbers. He’s done the job, and far beyond. He deserves some time to rest and recuperate.


Book Review” “Outies,” by Dr. Jennifer Pournelle

January 21, 2011

Dr. Jennifer Pournelle

Dr. Jennifer Pournelle is an Assistant Professor in the School of the Environment at the University of South Carolina. She is a former US Army Intelligence officer and extensive experience and training in archaeology, especially in the Middle East. In addition to a bundle of scholarly articles, she has now written a science fiction novel. It’s set in the universe created by her father, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, and Larry Niven, in the landmark First Contact novel “The Mote In God’s Eye.”

A Motie Engineer

“Outies” is the term used for those humans who live on planets not yet formally admitted to the Second Empire of Man.The planet of New Utah is one such place, colonized by two Mormon splinter groups from another Empire world, and then also populated by religious groups from a variety of other places. Still, there’s a lot of open space on a planet, and the humans who have been on New Utah for only a few generations don’t all know what’s going on everywhere

The book is pretty well written, especially if it is a first novel. There are a few nagging misspellings and other editing errors that another careful reading would have cleaned out, but nothing that detracts from the story. The main characters are pretty well drawn, even though there are quite a few and at first it’s difficult to keep them straight.

I’d hate to give the story line away too much. I will tell you this – the story not only connects with “The Gripping Hand,” the sequel to “Mote,” (it takes place shortly after the events in that book), but to the events in “Mote” as well. It adds depth to the universe created by Niven and Pournelle the Elder and opens the possibility for more books to come, without this one being a cliff-hanger.

"Outies" cover illustration

The book is only available electronically. Right now it’s only available for B&N Nook and for Kindle, but you can use the Kindle version on a variety of platforms, so that shouldn’t be that much of a problem.I don’t doubt it will be available on print-on-demand eventually through Amazon as well. I’ve purchased several POD books through Amazon over the last year or so and the quality is very good. Any problems I’ve noted came from the original source document, not from the printing process.

By the way, I like the iPhone version of the Kindle app a lot better than the Nook app right now, and on the iPad I think it’s every bit as good as Apple’s iBook app, and searching for content is far easier.

If you’ve never read the other two books, I recommend you read them first, in the original order. “Mote” is not a short book, but as I said, it is considered one of the definitive First Contact novels, if not THE definitive one – even Robert A. Heinlein said so! There is an essay Niven and Pournelle wrote called “Building ‘The Mote in God’s Eye'” that can be found in Larry Niven’s short story collection “N-Space.” In it they explain how they created the Moties, and how the Motie biology dictated much of the plot of the story. They even talk about how a model kit of a fictional spaceship, the Leif Ericsson, was used as a starting point for the INS MacArthur in the book.

Chris Doll's magnificent "MacArthur" scratchbuilt model

As I said, it’s a deep and rich universe. The Second Empire of Man is a part of Jerry Niven’s future history series, which includes many of his novels describing the time leading up to the First Empire of Man. It’s all worth reading, but you don’t need to read all those to get the storyline of these books. “Mote,” “Hand,” and “Outies” work together very well to give you a very satisfying picture of a spacefaring civilization by the best hard-science fiction writing team (and now, daughter) in the business. The book, like the two before it, is very much recommended.