I knew that my Treo was suffering from age-related weaknesses, but I felt a twinge of sadness when it finally gave up its ghost and passed on to that graveyard of yesterday's technology. Although it still powers on, it presents me with its stylus calibration screen, requiring that I tap an X in one corner, then an X in another, and finally an X in the middle of the screen. Unfortunately, although I tap the X's it returns to the initial screen and tells me to try it again. I expect it is a hardware problem, somewhere within its touch-sensitivity equipment, possibly the screen itself. I lost some pictures that my daughters had drawn, but there wasn't much I could do about that because the software they used did not let me export their pictures. I installed a drawing app on the iPhone which lets you export its pictures to the iPhone photo application, but my youngest daughter remarked that she missed the wide variety of colors on the Treo app. A bit more disappointing with the loss of my Treo is the loss of some passwords. That's still one of the major missing apps on the iPhone, even a simple authentication storage system for Safari. However, 1Password lets you export your passwords into a bookmarklet, which is most of what I am looking for. Once Apple releases its SDK, I am confident that 1Password or another app will provide greater functionality.
Apple continues to lead the way with performance, with Quad-Core Xeon
processors running up to 3.
One other disappointing thing: no word about HD DVD or Blu-Ray support. It looks like Blu-Ray is taking the lead, with Warner Brothers now throwing its support behind that format (good for Sony and Phillips, not so good for Toshiba and Hitachi), and Apple has been on Blu-Ray's Board of Directors for some time. Perhaps we will hear something at MacWorld about it, but then, why announce and ship new Mac Pros with no mention of Blu-Ray? Perhaps Apple is reserving such devices for consumer-oriented machines, or perhaps a home entertainment machine. We will soon see, if Apple announces something in a couple of weeks. But whether or not Apple announces support for one system or the other, we the consumer will still suffer. Both Blu-Ray and HD DVD include highly restrictive copy protection processes designed to protect the entertainment industry but interfere with flexible use of the movies we buy. The High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection system (HDCP) requires and end-to-end encrypted channel to play back high definition content, and if any device in the chain isn't compliant, the best it will play is DVD quality. In order to play one of these high definition discs, you need an HDCP compliant player and HDCP compliant display. From my perspective, I am quite content with regular DVD quality, and transcoding my discs to, for example, DiVX or recompressing them into simply smaller MPEG-2 format is fine for now.
I must admit, having used the iPhone for a while now, the iPod function in it is dreadfully bad. Yes, it plays audio and it plays video, but most everything else about it is simply bad. I find the navigation flow between albums and songs awkward. Scrubbing inside songs is downright painful--unlike my iPod nano with its ring control, I cannot skip forward or back just a little bit. I end up jumping way ahead or way behind where I want to be. Terrible! And am I the only person who thinks that Cover Flow is awful? On a computer in iTunes, it isn't bad. I can see some pretty pictures and beneath it are my songs. But that's not what I see on the iPhone. In Cover Flow, what you see are the album covers, and you only see a list of the songs if you tap a small icon in the upper right of the screen. And even then, you only see the number of the song and its name. In iTunes, you see a host of information, and you can customize it as you wish. When looking at podcasts, I cannot tell which ones I have heard before. Useless! The problem is the screen size, really. Although large for telephones, the iPhone cannot compare to a regular monitor, and so Apple decided to sacrifice functionality for coolness. If it just replicated the interface of my nano, I would at least be satisfied with that. Perhaps the next version will improve things.
Speaking of newer versions improving things, I use OpenOffice on
Windows on those rare times I need to format a document or work on a
spreadsheet, so I don't pay much attention to Office problems. But one
interesting one came to my attention, concerning the recently released
Office 2003 Service Pack 3. Unannounced and largely unknown to the
user base, that Service Pack blocked a large number of file formats,
preventing Word from opening them. The list is long and widely varied:
less than but not equal to Word 6.
Microsoft deserves praise for trying to make the situation right, but
of course, it really should not have come up to begin with, should it?
I remember reading a paper by a person at Pixar talking about the
fragility of our data, that not only are the disks and CDs and DVDs
that we store it on fragile and prone to loss, but so are the file
formats. For example, one of my favorite science fiction television
shows, Babylon 5, came out over ten years ago, in the early 90s. They
used NewTek's Lightwave (on Amiga machines in the first season!) to
create many of their terrific graphics, but when it came time to
release the series on DVD they wanted to update them. However, the
original files were gone, lost in the sands of time, and they could do
little to update them. Although the live-action scenes were filmed
using Super 35mm film in 1.
I suppose you could call me a journalist. But I think of myself as
someone who really loves technology and is simply lucky enough to have
a place where I can express that interest, to point out some
absurdities and praise creativity. With the growth in popularity of
"blogging," now lots of people can express themselves and be read by a
large audience, but are bloggers journalists? This has become a bit of
a question here in the United States because some people feel that our
First Amendment "right to free speech" is only for journalists, and
bloggers, not being journalists (they say), are thus not entitled to
the same legal protections as journalists. To me, America's First
Amendment applies to all Americans, not just people who are or claim
to be "journalists." Of course, you still need to behave yourself in
your writings. You can certainly present your opinions, but you can't
lie or make false claims or accusations, or otherwise cause undue harm
to another. Perhaps that is why bloggers aren't really considered
"proper" journalists yet, because some of them don't restrain
themselves. They make wild statements and present opinions and
"might-be's" as rock-solid facts. And then there are other bloggers
who just do stupid things, like one or more bloggers at gizmodo.
Speaking of CES, Sony announced a new introductory-level digital SLR
camera, the Alpha DSLR-A200K. It has some image stabilization built
in, but otherwise seems not particular innovative compared to the
older model. I recently bought a new dSLR, and fretted a bit about
what kind to get. We have had a Canon 3.