Advice for Apple

Can You Hear Me Now?
On the off-chance that Apple customer relations and marketing give two tugs on a dead dog’s dick what their end users are thinking about their product line, I will toss this post into the hat for consideration.

AirDrop’s major limitation is that it does not support data transfers between iOS 7 devices and Macs.

That’s it.  I can live and prosper with the rest of their wacky intraworld, but if they don’t get this fixed pretty soon I’m going to be doing to them what Microsoft forced me to do. I’m going to buy a different O/S (think Android) and educate myself on that platform so I can get this ONE function that I ought to already have had on my Apple products for quite awhile now. I might then find a whole new ‘other’ world of functionality I didn’t or hadn’t considered.  Then I’d be ‘off Apple” and I don’t think that’s what they are striving for in the long term.  Now to be fair, I don’t even know if the file transfer function I am looking for even exists in the Google world, but I bet it does.

I wonder how many of us Apple fans are out here in the real world, with the same issue and thinking the same thing?  I bet I am not alone.  There are work-arounds to this and I am currently using them.  This in no way negates my continuing frustration with what I can only deduce, in the era of supercomputing smart phones and multiple wireless transmitters, to be a self inflicted limitation being forced upon me for no reason at all.

Why is Apple trying to frustrate me and others out of their operating system? The lack of universal file transfer functionality is pure and utter hubris on their part and it doesn’t sit well with anybody who is paying any attention.

Enjoy.

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Sony QX10 First Day Impressions

Happy Days Are Here Again

Sony DSC - QX10 Cybershot

I received my Sony Cybershot DSC-QX10 camera in the mail yesterday afternoon.  I was immediately intrigued by this innovative Sony camera when I first heard about it early in 2013.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing (i.e. nothing, AND my current iPhone) will ever replace the delicious sweetness of the release of the Sony TPS-L2 Walkman back in 1979, at the dawn of the “rare Earth” era in tech development.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, even as I slowly approach middle-age, I get an echo of the tingle in my nether regions for this new camera the same as the original Sony Walkman used to inspire in my succulent youth.

Another Something New

QX10 riding shotgun

Sony has engineered this camera to ride “piggy back” (literally and figuratively) on your existing smartphone. By utilizing the existing screen of your phone as a viewfinder, and the phone itself as the camera ‘body’, Sony has pioneered an entirely new concept in portable consumer photography. It should be noted that when connected with iPhone via the App, there’s no requirement that the lens be attached (mounting bracket included) to your phone.

Creative Possibilites

I know there will be crowded situations where I’ll want to raise the lens over my head with one hand to get a clear shot and it’ll be nice having the camera control and framing views on my iPhone in my other hand.  You can easily set the camera on any flat surface since the otherwise cylindrical QX10 has a flat spot on the bottom, where a tripod mount is also provided as an optional method of off-phone mounting.

Sony Does the all the Driving

The manual control options on a QX10 are sparse. Consider you’re locked down to fully auto mode unless the software is upgraded to allow more flexibility to the QX10 in the future.  Sony does allow a bit more manual control via the PlayMemories app on the upscale model QX100 (and could probably offer same on QX10 through a simple app upgrade if they desired).  On the other hand, all the extra bells, lights, buzzes and whistles translate to more hassle and less simplicity of use.  If you enjoy fiddling about with a lot of manual controls, but are in love with this new camera’s form factor, even the fancier QX100 is going to be harsh your mellow in that regard.

Welcome to Tomorrow via Yesterday

When Sony pioneered the Walkman, the earliest version(s) lacked a lot of the features available on the later models, but at the end of the day, if you wanted to be the first to own one, you were forced to make some compromises (no Dolby noise reduction, auto-reverse or solenoid controls, e.g.).  And just like the original Sony Walkman, which many of you probably remember as a runaway instant success, Sony had to finesse and grow that market before it eventually exploded so widely you could buy an off-brand Walkman clone at Kmart for twenty bucks.  They were so plentiful and cheap by the end of the Walkman era, you’d see them hanging in the checkout lines of grocery stores as impulse purchases, right along with the disposable single-use film cameras of the pre digicam era.  I would not be the least bit surprised to see the same kind of product life cycle run it’s course again.  There’s still room for improvement, and the built-in camera on smartphones has come a long way.  You can decide for yourself from the comparative shots between my iPhone4S and the Sony QX10.

Commando Mode

The camera can be used without the phone involved at all, if it’s holding an optional memory card to store pix and video. The lens has physical zoom, power and shutter buttons but you’d be shooting completely blind with no framing reference without involving your iPhone in the process.  You would then transfer the photos from the lens directly to your PC via USB cable, just as is required for video retrieval if you lack a separate card reader.

Jumping Right In

Note: All the unboxing photos in this gallery were taken with my iPhone 4S camera.

Non Spontaneous Foreplay

Sony PlayMemories App

First thing I did after breaking the seal on the QX10 box (kudos to Sony Marketing on the studly packaging) was download the Sony PlayMemories App (free) off iTunes onto my iPhone4S. I knew it was necessary andI would have already installed it earlier, but it isn’t good for anything other than controlling and communicating with the Sony QX10 (and QX100) cameras, so it wouldn’t have been doing anything but taking up space on my phone and mocking me every time I glanced at the icon on my phone while impatiently awaiting the arrival of its material mate to arrive via post.  Plus, there’s no waiting in line at the app store and it’s always open.  The app downloaded in the background while I took the unboxing photos shown above with the iPhone4S built-in camera.

The App’s Not Crap

If you read any of the reviews about the PlayMemories App you know what a horrible buggy piece of garbage it must have been before the recent (and desperately needed) Sony upgrade.  I am happy to report that my initial experience with the app on my iPhone4S has been quite pleasant.  In switching back and forth between the iPhone internal camera and the Sony QX10 to take the comparative shots below, the app was quick to re-establish connection with the external lens. The camera and iPhone set up their own ad-hoc wifi network so you don’t have to be on a local wifi network or shared router.  It seems like a no brainer, but I’ve seen a lot of people ask about that in other reviews.  It’s not a spontaneous connection, nor as smooth an experience in operation as a wholly separate pocket-sized point and shoot of similar cost, but it seems wise to take all those rather dated (in internet time), negative app reviews with a grain of salt, as the software performed up to my expectations.  I would imagine the faster processor ratings of the newer iPhones would be even better, but that is not something I have the hardware to test.  I’m hoping to ride my iPhone4S until the release of the iPhone12 if providence sees fit.

Time Is On Your Side

I used to say, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it but then Apple dropped iOS7 on us and for me at least, once I got over the demise of my beloved skeuomorphs, iOS7 has been terrific.  Expect to see further refinements in the Sony PlayMemories App if you purchase a QX10, or it’s hellishly expensive snobby upscale sibling, the QX100 ($500ish).  Sony has already announced more app improvements are on the way.  I love how you buy electronic devices nowadays and they keep adding features via software, making them better than they were when you first got them.

A Softspot for the Hardware

The one thing that reviewers were nearly unanimous in lauding, even as many muttered obscenities under their breathe as they struggled with the early beta versions of that buggy app?  The camera itself.  There’s a lot of praise for the of optics and picture quality of this camera/lens and I concur.  The QX10 is basically the rejiggered guts out of one of Sony’s more successful point and shoot pocket cams, which adds some historical provenance to the QX10.  The ten power true optical zoom and low light capabilities of this camera put my iPhone to shame, which is good, since there is no way to use the iPhone camera flash with the Sony lens and it doesn’t have one built into itself.  If I want a crappy flashed-tout look to my photos, the iPhone has it, but I dislike flash enough to abstain from it altogether.  Bottom line is that you can’t approach the picture quality the QX10 offers with your iPhone because, physics. I suspect the early negative app reviews led to the discounted price I paid for this camera, 144 euro ($196 USD), down from the original price of $250 USD, though I’ve still seen it being listed on many US websites at $250, give or take a buck.  Waiting for the app to be overhauled resulted in me getting a much better discount on this innovative camera than I did when I jumped in on day one and dropped full retail ($200) on the aforementioned Sony Walkman (I’d have paid more!).  It’s good to remember that way back in 1979, a dollar was still worth something.  Around sixty seven cents if memory serves me correctly.

Ready Aim Fire

With the app installed and the camera and phone WiFi synced, it was finally time to test out the fancy smazz optical zoom.  Here’s a set of three pictures taken from the skylight window in my living room. The sky is overcast limiting illumination somewhat, but I was impressed at the results.

It’s important to note that the three sample zoom pix posted, as well as all other QX10 sample shots through to the end of this review are taken in the LOWER of the two options provided in the PlayMemories app.  I have not even explored the larger file output option.  Most of the pictures I take are for web posting or social media posting and I don’t want or need a huge file size for a minor improvement in quality.  Since the files are being transferred one at a time via wifi from the camera to the iPhone after each shot, it’ll also slow down your shooting since you have to pause between each photo to allow it to transfer back to the iPhone. Once it’s on your phone (QX10 saves to your regular camera roll!) you are then able to move pictures freely onto the social media site or cloud storage service of your choice quickly and easily via your usual photo sharing apps.  I believe the PlayMemories app has some sharing functions built in, just like every other camera app seems to be including these days, but I have not tested those yet.

Test Shots and Iphone Comparison Shots

Sunday Morning Services

Good morning everyone!  Today we are giving thanks for the arrival of the new iOS7 Apple operating system, due to be released into the wild on September 18th. I know it’ll be a breath of fresh AirDrop for me.  Moment of silence for the late Steve Jobs please.  Party on.

Prelude to Services

Accompanying the Choir – The Verve

The Verve Continue reading

Wednesday Tech – Part 5S

iphone-5c-colorsThe iPhone 5s and 5c have arrived.

Meanwhile, my iPhone 4 is still going strong, and if I’m lucky, by the time it blanks out, Apple might be shipping the iPhone 7. In the meantime, I’m excited at the prospect of moving to iOS7 in the next couple weeks whenever Apple drops the final consumer release to the public.

Technicolor

There have been numerous tech improvements since the iPhone 4.  Processor and camera-related upgrades are de rigueur.  Now we have colors, though to be honest, it’s a brave soul who doesn’t already armor their iDevices in some sort of protective colored condom.

It’s market genius for Apple to promote customers NOT using a case in order to show off their fancy new colored gadgets.  Lots of broken phones to be replaced means more profit. You pay your money and you take your chances.

Aside from the fingerprint reader, the beltway press seems dinterested in the latest chip improvements or hardware advances in Apple’s new offerings, and much more interested that they didn’t drop the price of the colorful plastic model (5c) enough to make a dent in the Android-awash smartphone markets in central Bangladesh.  That’s something I never would have wondered about, let alone contemplated happening, but then I live on planet Earth and don’t get paid big bucks to write deep insipid analysis like Farhad Manjoo.

Tech Thoughts

To be fair, tech improvements beyond the iPhone 4 are far less critical to me than the operating system that runs on it (and the app environment it supports). For most of the world, anything beyond the iPhone 4 is more than adequate technology. That level of tech has now dropped to a zero price point (on contract).  If you want the added bling of color or the latest in Apple smartphone tech it’s available for a couple hundred bucks more.

I’m hard pressed to come up with a defensible reason why upgrading to the latest model iPhone, just to get the bells and whistles of fingerprint scanners, faster chips and camera magic is worth it.  The camera upgrade intrigues me, but I’m savvy enough to know from experience that at the end of the day, it’s still a “phone cam”.

Enjoy

Good Bad and Ugly of iOS7

The Good

ios-7

I’m sure I’ll grow to love the iO/S improvements, just as I’m sure that many of them were probably available long ago on some small fractured percent of properly updated Android phones. For that matter, I don’t doubt that simply jail-breaking a current iPhone allows for some of the features in the upcoming official iOS7 release.

I’m too lazy to jailbreak my iDevice, so you know I’m too lazy to fool with learning any new O/S, let alone the jumbled mix of Android “flavors”.  No disrespect to those who do, since I could have done so myself under different conditions.  I could easily  have been one of “you”.

There was a time in my life where I wanted to tinker “under the hood” of every electrical or mechanical device I owned. That time is long past. Now I just want my gear to work when I turn it on, and I want it to engage and function without me having to remember a list of coded steps akin to the Up,Up,Down,Left,A,B,X cheat codes of yore.

The Bad

phone

I may grow fond of having my iPhone look like cross between a 90’s MySpace page and a “My Sparkle Pony” commercial, but I can’t be the only person who likes skeuomorphs and wish they were an option.  I want my phone icon to look like it is still mounted to the wall at the Shady Rest Hotel in Hooterville.  I want my mail icon to resemble one of those pneumatic tubes like they use to shuffle mail around in the old days.  Give me a flashlight icon that mimics a coal miners lantern ferchrissakes!

The Ugly

maxwellsmart

Your preferences on icons may not reflect my steam-punk sensibilities, but isn’t that suppose to be a part of the “big win” of all this new technology?  Isn’t it a bit unnecessarily Orwellian to lock us all down on the same icons or is there some National Security letter somewhere forcing Apple to unify the look of the device the NSA most covets to spy on us?  I dunno, and Siri and Google seem particularly jumbled in their responses.  If any of you happens to see a distressed twenty something American wandering about Hong Kong, maybe you could ask him and give the rest of us an update.

Enjoy.