Author Archives: Kristian Tapaninaho

iPad Air will most likely sell for £249 ($299)

I’ve been sitting on this screenshot for a while. Since the iPhone 5 announcement event, in fact.

It’s from the first few minutes of Apple Store UK coming back online after the event. Look at the iPad section and ‘from’ price. At the time, and still today, iPad pricing starts at £329 for the iPad 2. I think the screenshot shows the price that Apple at least at the time was thinking for the yet-to-be-announced iPad Air. £249.

(For the record, you can download the screenshot that was taken on my iPad, here. That’s the untouched, RAW file downloaded using Image Capture.)

Couple of things. First, how could Apple accidentally update the iPad ‘from’ price to a wrong one? It’s probably because they at some point might have planned on announcing the iPad Air in September and this price got stuck on one the website content templates that were consequently activated on the 12th September. Easy mistake to make.

But £249? Isn’t that more than what Google is selling the Nexus 7 for and what Kindle Fire costs? Yes it is and it doesn’t matter.

When has Apple ever intentionally competed on price? Never. After the original iPad came out, other tablet makers were unable to either match Apple’s spec or the price. The iPad was, and still is, unbeatably cheaper but I don’t think this is what they are going for; the price is a side product of an immaculate design and perhaps more importantly, the amazing scale they’re made at.

iPad Air isn’t trying to get into the sub-£200 game but it will establish what consumers are to expect from a sub-8 inch tablet.

Why Apple should buy Vimeo

With iOS 6, Apple is getting rid of yet another link with Google; the Maps app which has always been made by Apple but uses data from Google Maps will start using Apples own proprietary map tiles and directions.

Still, one well known Google property remains on the first home screen: YouTube.

Signs were there early on in February when Mountain Lion was first previewed to a few journalists. OS X is taking good part of iOS and one of those elements is the share button. In ML you’ll be able to share content to different services much like you can on an iPhone or an iPad. But videos, you can only share to Vimeo, not YouTube. This might obviously change by the time 10.8 is released but I think it send a pretty stern message: there is nothing Apple needs from Google.

After becoming a father just over a year ago I’ve shot a lot of little videos of our son. Email isn’t great for sharing files like that so I most often just upload them to YouTube as an unlisted video and send the link to my family. System supported service for uploading videos to is essential, even more so than for photos.

What’s stopping them? I don’t think Vimeo ‘is not for sale’. Any venture capital funded company that doesn’t have a clear path to turning large enough profits to bring a good return for its investors, is for sale. At the right price.

Biggest problem there is is the sheer scale of iOS; 365 million users* would definitely put an unpresented strain on the service. What better way then than to test how well it scales by incorporating it in a smaller product like OS X Mountain Lion?

UPDATE: After reading this again, I realised I didn’t clearly answer the question. Reasons are that 1) Vimeo on its own won’t be able to scale fast enough and 2) Apple is all about integrated services that it has full control over.


*Devices sold as of June 2012

Why did Apple wait until now before including USB 3.0?

I sometimes get into–let’s call them debates–with someone* about Apple. His comment was this:

Oh, Apple is caving in and adding USB3. Guess Thunderbolt was the failure it was made to be. Well, I’m happy: Less peripheral connection standards, the better of everyone is.

(He did compliment Apple for now including a USB port on both sides of the new 15-inch MacBook Pro.)

Let’s start in order, one by one.

Why did they wait until now with USB 3.0? Were they never going to include it or was this their plan all along? My guess is that they kind of knew they’d end up including it eventually but wanted to give Thunderbolt a head start. Let’s call it a strategic delay. As a standard, Thunderbolt is superior (more on that later) but to get peripheral manufacturers to adopt it they wanted to have on the market a good number of computers that only supported TB, Not USB 3.0.

If you look at the PC industry in general, you’ll notice that it’s pretty conservative when it comes to killing off legacy technologies. Don’t believe me? Sony, Dell and Toshiba have just launched new laptops and all three include a VGA port (via John Gruber). VGA ports? Yes, VGA ports. VGA was probably revolutionary when it was invented but that was literally 25 years ago. It’s time to move on.

I feel embarrassed using this analogy but heyho.. “If Henry Ford listened to his customers, he would have made a faster horse“. In other words; Don’t sell your customers what they want, sell them what they need.

Is Thunderbolt a failed standard? It can fail in two ways. 1) it’s a useless, badly thought our standard that doesn’t do what it’s meant to and/or 2) it doesn’t achieve wide enough adoption to be considered an industry wide standard. Number 2 remains to be seen, but at the moment things don’t look that bad; at least Western Digital, LaCie and G-Tech have external hard drives that support it. While Apple seems to be the only one having a Thunderbolt port on a display, you can use a Thunderbolt to DVI adapter and have the screen as the last node of linked devices.

This neatly brings us to why as a technology Thunderbolt is so great. To simplify this, it is basically like connecting something straight to the motherboard via a PCI Express. It delivers speeds up to 10Gbps which is so fast that you can’t find a single hard drives fast enough to take advantage of this (You can make a RAID array of SSD drives to do this). Unlike USB 3.0, it supports daisy chaining devices. You can have three hard drives, a Blu-Ray drive and a display hooked to the same port and use all of them at the same time. What’s not to like?

Finally, with this in mind, if you want less connection standards Thunderbolt is the one to have. I don’t mean the industry should completely abandon USB, there’s still lots of good uses for that, not least because it is so widely accepted.


*As the conversation happened on Facebook and the original status wasn’t public, it’s not my place to say who this person is.

Facebook, Social Games and Real Achievements

“I just spent $1 on a box for a turd that looks like a duck. I think it was worth it.”

-John House, a casual gamer on Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook (BBC 1, 4 Dec 2011)

At first, this sounds preposterous. Spending actual real world money that you have to earn in a real world job on a digital box to keep a digital shit in? Makes little sense. But on the other hand, it’s just part of the over all cost of entertainment. Regular PS3 or Xbox game costs upwards of £40, most games on Facebook are free but to enhance the experience you spend money on extras or to get further, faster.

No, above isn’t the problem, the problem was exemplified by Michelle Maruyama who has played Restaurant City for two years:

It’s definitely a chore and it definitely cuts into your spare time. Like I know that I used to read the New Yorker pretty much cover to cover every single week and I know that I absolutely do not do that anymore.

The real cost of social games isn’t the money that is spent, it is the time that these games take away from other meaningful things we could be doing.

I guess that applies to all ‘pure’ entertainment that doesn’t offer knowledge as a side product. How can I argue if an hour spent on MafiaVille is somehow less well spent than an hour for spent on ‘watching TV’? But I can argue that fragmenting ones attention and concentration multiple times a day by having to make sure your crop doesn’t spoil can’t be good.

Watching TV or reading a good article is a satisfying experience that when you get to the end leaves you with fulfilment. These social games are more like smoking. They fill you with anxiety. As soon as you finish one session, you’re waiting for the next opportunity to [insert social game verb here].

Where’s the attraction then? I think it’s in our primal need for feeling of achievement, success and pleasure. These games offer a quick fix for that. You can make real FarmVille profit in just a few hours. It is the buzz one gets from making something, no matter how virtual or imaginary it is, out of nothing. In the real world, only few people actually sell anything apart from their time to their employers. (And with that I don’t mean you can’t get pleasure out of a job, of course you can, but it’s not a coincidence that the maker movement is gaining momentum.)

And the kind of achievement social games offer is different to other video games, too. In a normal video game going forward requires time, yes, but also trial and error and learning from your mistakes. In many social games, going forward only requires time and repetition. The is very little learning involved.

I’m not trying to argue benefits of ‘real’ video games but I’ll share two facts. In Finland, boys often have stronger English skills due to playing video games. Another is that studies have found that surgeons who play video games perform better than their non-gamer colleagues.

I think people should be wary of the time spent on tasks that offer very little in return. That goes for anything but especially FarmVille and most other social games; after all, it’s not just time actively spent playing them that is consuming.

That’s So Finnish

Nokia used to be a Finnish icon. Torchbearer of innovation, engineering and design.

Then, in 2007, Apple released the iPhone and denied Nokia the opportunities to be innovative, continue to create iconic designs or even engineer decent phones. If there’s anyone to blame for Nokia’s misfortune, slide in profits and marketshare, in the recent years, it has got to be the iPhone, Apple and their creator, Steve Jobs. Right? If only Nokia had invented the iPhone, all would be well.


Too many newspaper and magazine articles in Finland about Apple are blaming them for single handedly reducing Nokia from being one of the largest companies in the world to one which future as an independent company is no longer certain. (Microsoft could have bought them twice over with their cash holdings.)

Here’s David J. Cord for Helsinki Times: “[Steve] Jobs has probably been directly responsible for thousands of Finns losing their careers at Nokia or its subcontractors”.

Here’s another quote from Kauppalehti (to call them Financial Times of Finland is giving them too much credit but for the sake of familiarity, that’s the role they play there): “It is widely assumed that the [24th October] release date of Steve Jobs’ biography is timed to take press coverage away from Nokia World [which was on 26th Oct in London]”

Both quotes, I believe, represents the populist views that the press in Finland are eager to imbue. It’s easy to blame Nokias misfortunes to an outside force rather than be critical of the Finnish icon.

What’s worst in this is that this misguided view is mostly only held by the press and some of the public. Nokia management knew the ship was going to run ground unless the course was changed. They tried to change it but were not able to.

One personality trait that Finns have is a fear of failure. When you’re biggest fear is to fail it becomes near impossible to talk about it and accept it when you have failed. Nokia has been much more than just another company to Finns.

But that was in 2007. Now, in 2011, it’s high time for the press in Finland to grow up and 1) report on lessons that can be found in what went wrong with Nokia and 2) give a fair treatment to innovation that comes from outside the borders.

Challenge: Once a Day

Almost three years ago, I challenged myself and three friends to the 300 km challenge. Aim was to run at least 300 km between 23.8.-24.12. All of us made it. And at least for Ville and I, it rekindled our passion for running. Since then, we’ve both ran marathons and half marathons.

Running is, of course, still a big part of my weekly routine but currently with a small baby, it’s difficult to find time for it more than a couple of times a week. I’ve been trying to start doing more press ups and stomach crunches to build a bit of strength and see if it could also help my running. Trying and failing.

And because of that, it is time for another challenge. It’s called Once a Day. The aim is to just do something physically active everyday for the rest of the year. Something that doesn’t necessarily take that much time and is easy to do where-ever you happen to be.

Few rules:

  1. Walking doesn’t count unless it’s purposeful, raises your pulse and is at least about 40 continues minutes. In other words, 5 minute stroll to the shops doesn’t count.
  2. Sick days are off days (harsh, I know).
  3. If you’re to do ‘fitness circle’ moves like stomach crunches, there has to be at least two other moves to accompany them.

Counting starts on 1.8. and ends on 31.12. That’s 152 days. Are you with me?

The Post About Backup, Part 1

Macbook Pro, Western Digital Studio, Backblaze, Chronosync backup system explained

Click to enlarge

Let’s imagine a scenario.

You’re working on your laptop in the safety of your own home and your best a friend comes around for a coffee. Your sitting around your dining room table, having a coffee, eating cake and chitchatting about life and everything else. You then show some of your latest illustrations, web designs, lesson plans, music video, spreadsheet, short story, novel or the 3-D model of the TV cabinet you’re secretly building in your shed.

Then the inevitable happens; you bring a whole half a litre glass of orange juice for your friend. The glass slips our of your hand, on to the computer. All of the juice filters through the innards of your two year old MacBook Pro. The juice shorts the circuitry and from a puff of smoke, you know, that your laptop left this world and returned to Infinity.

What happens next? Do you:

a) Panic and whack your friend with a clenched fist (after all you wouldn’t have dropped the juice if it wasn’t for him)?

b) Start crying.

c) Calm and collected, you call your insurance company and tell them to send you a new laptop. Tell your friend that it’s OK, everything has been backed up to the moment he arrived.

If you chose ‘c‘, you can stop reading and pass this on to your friends. But if you chose ‘a‘ or ‘b‘, keep reading and pass this on to your friends.

Maxims to keep in mind:

  • If a hard drive hasn’t crashed yet, it is about to.
  • Backup has to be automatic, otherwise you will not do it.
  • Keep three copies of each file. Two onsite and one offsite.
  • Backup is not an archive.

In this post I’ll first explain how I handle my own backing up procedure. In part two, I’ll give you tips on building your own backup strategy.

My data mostly live in two places; on the hard drive of my MacBook Pro (MBP) and on two Western Digital Studio 1TB (WD Studio) drives. My data accumulation rate is probably about a gigabyte to one and a half per day on average. Not an inconsiderable amount but not unmanageable either.

First, my laptop is backed up hourly with Time Machine (TM). This means that if I’ve been out shooting for a day and importing images into Aperture library, they’ll most likely be backed up by TM before they get moved to my main library on the WD Studio drive. TM can’t at the moment backup external drives but at least the files will be duplicated there for few months even if neither of the work drives are backed up immediately.

Time Machine has its downsides. Biggest issue for me with it is that it takes up quite a lot of processor cycles and read bandwidth of the internal hard drive while it’s backing up. This can be a problem if you’re trying to edit photographs or video at the same time. I find myself quite often cancelling the backup and restarting it at a more convenient time. (There is a Time Machine script you can use to schedule the backup but I don’t use this at this time.)

Best thing about Time Machine is its simplicity. Plugin your backup drive and it takes care of the rest. And it’s very easy to recover from data loss, just plugin the Time Machine backup drive to your new computer and few hours later your back where you were.

Most of the photos and videos that I work on, when I’m in the office, live on the WD Studio drives. They offer faster read/write speeds than the internal drive and have a lot more space. Those drives get backed up every few days on a barebones 2TB drive using Chronosync. It’s a $40 backup utility that allows you to do all sorts of clever tricks and schedules for your backups. It handles exclusions well, and dissects library folders—such as Aperture and iPhoto—so only changes to those libraries will be backed up.

Then there’s offsite backup. I’ve used Backblaze for almost two years now and today have over 1.1 TB backed up to their servers. Backblaze takes all your personal files (this excludes the system and application files, which are easy enough to replace) from your internal and selected external drives and uploads them via your broadband connection to the data centre. Of course, how fast this happens depends on how often you leave your computer on and, especially, how fast your upload bandwidth is. Our actual peak bandwidth is about 200 KB/s. That translates to about 17 GB per day but–realistically–I can expect about 12 GB to be uploaded in a day if the computer is left on all day.

Backblaze, or another offsite backup service, can also be used to access files when you don’t have access to your computer. For example, one time I needed to edit a Pages document that was on my laptop. Only my laptop was in London, I was in Pyhäsalmi. Not a problem, I went online to the file restore page and in couple of clicks, I had the file sent to my email.

I wouldn’t trust an offsite backup as my only backup for two reasons. One, it might often take a few days for new files to be uploaded (or a few weeks as it did after we got back from Japan). And two, if I needed to recover every single file from the backup, it’d be a choice between downloading over 1TB of data or waiting until they send all the data on a hard drive. Either way, it might take a week or two.

That’s more or less it. In part two, which will be out in weeks time, I’ll go through the steps you need to take to start backing up. You wont need to wait for it if you can trace back what I do but I’ll offer some further tips deciding what’s the best strategy for you.

As they say, you can’t get it back if you don’t backup.

Niçoise Salad

Having been on this low-carb, high protein diet* for the past month or so, I’ve been more experimental with my lunch and dinner selections.

Niçoise salad has become one of my favourites. It’s quick and easy and very tasty.

Ingredients:

  • Salad leaves
  • Tomato
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Olives
  • Anjovis
  • Tuna chunks in olive oil

You sometimes get this with potatoes but I, for an obvious reason, omit these.

* Basically it’s the paleo diet or caveman diet with the exception that I do still have a little bit of carbs and haven’t stopped using milk in my coffee.

Slight Sense of Panic

Somehow it’s managed to creep up on me, only 28 days till the Athens marathon. I do feel a lot better about it today than I did a week ago. Then my thinking was along the lines of “I’m now as fit as I should’ve been four weeks ago, not good”. Since then I’ve managed one set of 5*1000m intervals and a 29k long run. Both of which went as well as I could’ve hoped.

Still, there’s only so many days left and I need some drastic measures to make sure everything goes OK. 1) I need to make sure I wont fall ill again just before the run, which is what’s happened before last two marathons I’ve signed up for* and 2) that I’m fit enough to run uphill for 30k.

Here’s the plan. I’ll concentrate on three different types of runs: interval runs at 5-6*1000k and steep, slow up hill runs with about 6-8 repeats. Both are great for breathing and intervals are good for those fast twitch muscle cells. Then there’s time for just two long, up to 30k, runs. I’d like to do three but it gets too close the race day.

Last seven days will be crucial as I don’t want to fall ill but I can’t train too hard either. I think it’ll be ok. Just need to be careful.

Apart from not training enough over the summer, another cause of slight panic is my lower back and both knees. I had some back pains before Edinburgh but never had any problems with my knees which is quite worrying. One reason could be the couple of extra kilos I put on after the wedding and munching sashimi in Japan, where we went for our honeymoon. To combat this, I’m quitting beer, candy, croissants and cakes until the race. My aim is to loose 4 kilos in the next 4 weeks. Very doable and will make a massive difference in the race.

That’s about it, I’ll try and do another update in few weeks time to see where I am at.


*I had to pull out of running in Athens last year and this year before running in Edinburgh, I was still ill on Wednesday (race was n a Sunday). I think it has something to do with tapering down my training too early and too much. The body just gives up thinks now it’s ok to be ill. (Similar to why people are often ill on weekends and on holiday.)