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.

Tested: Nike+ GPS for the iPhone Review

Nike+ GPS iphone app main menu view copy
Nike+ plus has been around since 2006 when it was first introduced as a peripheral for the iPod nano. It worked by having sensor in the sole of your compatible Nike running shoe which sent the data to your iPod. When syncing your iPod to your computer, you could then send your exercise data to the Nike+ website for storage and sharing. Main issue with the Nike+ sensor is that it’s essentially a pedometer, it counts steps. There’s nothing wrong about using a pedometer, you just need to be aware of their limitations. Don’t expect better than ±10% accuracy.

In comes Nike+ GPS for the iPhone. As the name implies, it uses iPhones (3G, 3G S or 4) GPD receiver to track your run and you don’t, obviously, need to buy any hardware. I ran over 140km split across 10 exercises with the app. It’s not masses but I’d say it’s enough to get a good idea of what the app about. Much of the review is about how I would use it and the kind of training I’m doing so keep that in mind. I didn’t test the features I couldn’t care less of.

The Good.

It’s only $1.99 (£1.19). Nike+ kit for your iPod nano is around £20. I think for that, anyone wanting a little bit of encouragement for your runs should get it and try it out. I really like the map view of the run with each kilometre (or mile) marked. What makes this even cooler is that you can switch to a ‘heat map’ view. This creates a gradient with green-yellow-red to mark the fast and slow parts of your run. Is that useful? I’m not sure. As it doesn’t take into count the effort you’re putting into the run, yellow or red might either mean your running slowly or you’re running slow because it’s an up hill (website has an elevation view as well but it’s only directional. Read: inaccurate). Nevertheless, it’s fun little feature to show off your run with.

You can also label your runs with your mood, weather conditions and write a short note to remind yourself how it went or what type of run it was.

If you’re Nike, you can have the likes of Paula Radcliffe and Lance Armstrong do voice overs for the app. So they did. Yesterday, Lance congratulated me for the fastest 10k I’ve recorded with it. Another time Paula said I just did more exercises this week than the week before. Nice touch.

I was also impressed with it not draining the battery too badly. I would leave for 3 hour run with a full battery and return with at least 60% left. Your milage may vary, I’m using it with the iPhone 4.

The Bad

Heat map display should have a way of increasing the contrast around the areas where you’re actually running. To explain. Say I’m on a 15k run around the streets of London. There’s bound to be places where I have to stop or walk for ten, fifteen steps. These spots are marked as your slowest pace for the exercise although they might only count ten meters of the training session.

If Nike is listening, I’d recommend ‘crushing’ those areas off of the scale and marking them in black thus leaving more contrast for the actual run. At the moment all of the heat track just looks a bit too similar all the way through.

The Ugly

For the past two years, I’ve done more or less every one of my runs with the Polar RS200 SD. It’s extremely accurate. On my last marathon in Edinburgh, it was only 300 metres off. That’s less than 0.5%. People who have tested these, say that it’s more accurate than the current GPS based running computers.

That said, I’m very disapointed with the accuracy – or the lack of – with the Nike+ GPS. It can be that the iPhone’s Location Services isn’t giving it accurate data but most runs it’s been off by a considerable margin.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Nike+ GPS iPhone app exercise heat map view detail 2 copy

Fig. 4

Look at the fig. 2. That’s a heat map of a run I did on 3rd October. Notice anything strange? Was I really running at 1:23/km pace? Pace faster than Usain Bolts pace on 100m. That fluke is caused by the GPS getting mixed up and it thinking that I’m in two very different places almost at the same time. The GPS tracking isn’t continuous, it pings the satellite every few seconds and if the location is very different between those two samples (see fig. 3), it wont think there’s something wrong. Instead, it’ll think I’m Clark Kent and thus capable of such speeds.

Not only does that screw up how the heat map is show. More importantly it throws of the total for the exercise. In the case above by almost two kilometres. Also, it’s not only limited to these large ‘once of’ inaccuracies. Look at fig. 4. At least when running in a city, there’s a constant jiggle on the route. This, over time, adds a fair bit into the over all distance. Trees and bridges are another weak spot. I think Nike could do a lot in software to improve the accuracy even if the GPS data isn’t perfect.

The last straw for me personally was yesterday. I was on a 10+10+10k run (cleverly to mark 10/10/10*) around my usual route through Tower Bridge and Westminster, when on the way back it stopped my exercise at around 24k mark without telling me it had done this. If you’re collecting data from your runs, nothing is more annoying than incomplete data.

Conclusion.

I think it’s OK for some runners. I wouldn’t recommend it to long distance runners or anyone wanting a reliable way of recording runs that are longer than 10k. If you’re a beginner runner and want some encouragement, go for it. Me, I’m sticking with the RS200 but will also give RunKeeper a try so stay tuned for another one of these reviews.


*Take this a step further:

Running 10+10+10k in training for a marathon is fitting as 101010 is 42 in binary and marathon is just over 42k. #running

(to quote myself)