About Arm MacBooks (again)

http://www.macrumors.com/2014/05/25/arm-mac-magic-trackpad/

In the past, I have said that Arm MacBooks would give us magical amounts of battery life and run cool. And while that may still be true, it’s also currently true of Intel’s offerings (which didn’t used to be the case). Apple’s longest lasting device is no longer the iPad, it’s the 13″ MacBook Air.

I’m officially changing my stance on these rumors to being real but fake “controlled leaks” to punish/scare Intel after they were presumably the weak link in Mac Pro production and the second gen retina MacBook Pros not being available at WWDC last year.

If Intel thinks Apple is serious about the 12″ retina MacBook Air being powered by ARM, Intel may be more willing to either fab ARM chips for iOS devices (which would put them a whole process ahead of Samsung and TSMC) or give Apple earlier processor access of x86 chips in exchange for keeping the Mac lineup entirely x86.

can you take a subcompact Prius c camping?

TL:DR Yes, 2 people, unless you’re one of those “brings the kitchen sink” types.
Prius c Camping

Here’s what I was able to fit into the “trunk” alone:

  • Two 10×8 Tarps
  • One 10×8 Tent
  • One 7×4 Tent*
  • Two Pillows
  • Two Fleece Sleeping Bags
  • Backpack with
    1. Real tent stakes
    2. Hammer
    3. Fishing Tackle + Rod
    4. Paracord
    5. Multitools
    6. Fire starters
    7. Water bottles
    8. Metal cups
    9. other miscellaneous basic survival gear

*the smaller tent fits into the larger tent for additional heat retention in case it’s 10°F colder than you packed for, or it’s too hot for the larger tent with tarps on and under it and you just need a bug-free space to sleep.

That’s pretty much all you’ll need for a typical trip at a state park where running water and fire pits with grills are provided, leaving the back seat available (folded up or down) for clothes and a cooler and whatever you choose to sleep on.

As far as sleeping IN the prius c. No. Regular Prius it’s very easy but the trunk and folded seats aren’t level in the c, and even then, their total combined length is insufficient for even someone as short as me. You can sleep in it as well as you can sleep in any car with reclining front seats, but you’re not getting a bed like you could with larger hatchbacks.

Panic’s Mac App Store Strawman

Panic has put up a whiny post detailing why Coda 2.5 won’t be on the Mac App Store because of growing pains with the sandbox.

That’s all well and good, except, well, read the “features” that need to break out of the sandbox. Namely, accessing files and folders on your local Mac you don’t have ownership over (have we forgotten how chown works?), its built in Terminal emulator (I’m on a fucking Mac, I have one of those already), and Get Info having chmod access to local files…

See a trend? It’s all regarding a bunch of local stuff I don’t need Panic to touch. Real world web development takes place on remote servers as much as locally. Even in the tightest sandbox, it’s not the end of the world to simply tell your local Mac to allow SSH and SFTP access to your web root. This, btw, is the only way to access your local mysql server in ANY app. You can’t just open its storage root and expect to update tables.

Panic, please stop whining about stupid features I don’t care about, and maybe try enhancing cool stuff, and maybe make the world’s first MSSQL client written in Cocoa and add value to your app instead of trying to blame Apple for wasting time on features I don’t need that you knew were going to be a problem.

Why did I call this a strawman? Because it sounds like they might be using sandboxing as justification for leaving the MAS when in reality it’s for economic reasons. That would be perfectly fine, just be honest about it.

/rant

Microsoft isn’t making Nintendo’s mistakes anymore

Microsoft announced it will support writing Android and iOS development right within visual studio. Sort Of. It’s using cross platform rather than native development. But still, this is quite different from the Microsoft of my youth, that outside of the Mac BU, simply didn’t acknowledge anything outside their own universe.

If you’ve looked into Azure, you might’ve noticed that one of your development choices is on a full LAMP stack; all 4 letters of LAMP, Linux, Apache, mysql, and php. It’s not php running through IIS on a Windows machine. The only Microsoft product involved is presumably Hyper-V at a layer outside your VM. Mac native apps Coda and Sequel Pro have no problem connecting.

Even Sharepoint 2013 “just works” on all modern browsers.

Office on iPad exists now.

Nintendo, by contrast, is still content to slowly bleed money on consoles that aren’t selling. Still content to live in the world of yesteryear where Nintendo is unquestionably vertical, rather than take advantage of the license to print money that official ports and emulators on other platforms could potentially bring them. They (sort of) seem to understand that graphics upgrades to their platinum titles every generation is what we want. They’re hit or miss on continuing those legacy titles with new games…

Accidental Camping Bag

I guess this counts as a box... she jumped in as soon as I unzipped it

I guess this counts as a box… she jumped in as soon as I unzipped it

On Easter, as I was showing off my Prius C to my family of Ford Grand Marquis owners, my nephew asked about the handful of survival supplies I had in the trunk; notably a telescoping fishing rod and a small folding chair backpack with Nalgene bottles in the pockets. He asked if I was going camping soon and I somehow came up with the response “no, it’s in case I go camping accidentally” (to which he could come up with several plausible scenarios; he’s a smart kid).

As I continue outfitting the bag (and a duplicate bag to keep in the other car) the term has stuck, which I like more than “bug out bag” or “survival kit”. I’ve tested a few supplies at home and in the wild already and will eventually list and review them here, starting with the chair/bag itself.

Disclaimer: I’m 5’6″ and my gear is intentionally minimal. The chair’s weight limit is in the low 200′s. Larger individuals my find this too small.

As a chair, it’s fairly simple. It doesn’t have a back, but it’s not the end of the world. You’re not going to nap or read in it for an extended period of time, but it does get you off the ground when you need to focus on activities like readying fishing tackle or sewing. One advantage to not having a back to the chair is you can sit on it either way. I prefer having the supports and backpack off to my side like a director’s chair. Chairs with backs “force” them in front and behind you.

As a backpack, it’s very wearable, at least on my frame. One nice feature that the chair adds to the usefulness as a backpack is that you can open the chair and it actually makes the backpack contents easier to access, rather than more difficult. The side pockets for water bottles are sized large enough to hold Nalgene bottles with steel cups on them (reviews for those coming eventually). The 48 oz bottles are almost as tall as the backpack so I hold the tops in place with a silicone hair tie, but I’m sure a lightweight carabiner would work well too and be easier to undo.

The backpack has a flap compartment that goes over the whole thing. It’s thin and can hold something flat-ish like an iPad mini or Kindle Paperwhite, but I just keep a few large freezer bags in it to increase the water resistance of the pack below it. Putting anything in this compartment, even the minuscule Kindle, makes the pack harder to get into. That’s why I prefer to use it just as a flap.

My goal is a for a filled pack (without water in the bottles but including the weight of itself, including the chair) to be well under 20 lbs, and so far that’s been vey easy, especially if you cheat and take the heavy multi tool out and put it on your belt.

Review: Sony FDR-AX100/B

Marketed as “4K for $2K”, is the first affordable 4K camera suitable for anyone other than bleeding edge early adaptors like myself?

Bottom: FDR-AX100/B, HDR-CX560V, HDR-HC9 Top: SPKCXB for HDR-CX560V

Bottom: FDR-AX100/B, HDR-CX560V, HDR-HC9
Top: SPKCXB for HDR-CX560V

A quick aside: buying a few generations of Sony camcorders has given me extra power adapters, which is cool, even though they also charge over USB. The proprietary connection to use the controls on the sports bubble is also less proprietary when it fits all your cameras. Just like having a house full of MagSafe adapters and Lightning cables…

A few little annoyances:

Rolling Shutter

For that jiggly, “Shot with an iPhone” look…

American trains aren't THAT fast

American trains aren’t THAT fast

In this shot, I'm panning with the slower commuter train. The effect is visible on the viaduct.

In this shot, I’m panning with the slower commuter train. The effect is visible on the viaduct.

No Onboard Storage / only one SD slot

Particularly annoying given that you need a 90MB/s card to not go insane waiting on this camera to start recording. My last camera had 96GB built in. Both of these have noticeable consequences. First, since there’s only one slot, you can’t start shooting until the camera finishes saving the still you just took. Even with the fastest card I could buy this is still a noticeable limitation. The camera does have some method of taking multiple shots while it’s still writing out to the memory card, but you can’t hit Record until it’s done.

The other reason this is frustrating should solve itself over time, and that is that as of right now you can only get a 64GB 90MB/s write SDXC card.

No GPS

I wouldn’t mind this if my previous camera, the Sony HDR-CX560V, didn’t have it.

What’s great about it

  • Excellent Manual Controls
  • Auto controls don’t over expose (white sky) as much as my previous cameras.
  • Minimal chromatic aberration
  • Good low light performance
  • Great 20MB stills
  • Shoots in .MP4; no “Importing” step in your workflow.

One final thought

Unless you have a 3-CCD camera (this isn’t), the frame size you get isn’t really “real” because of the (usually Bayer) filter used to get RGB out of a single CCD. This is why when you look at pixels 1:1 on cameras it looks like they’re a median blur. This has only a 20MP sensor, with a frame size of 5964×3352, which is only about 2984×1676 “real” pixels. A 4K frame would need 33,177,600 pixels (33MP) on a single CCD. So whether you can call it “real” 4K is up for debate, just like whether or not 1440×1080 wide pixel interlaced miniDV frames counted as “HD”… it never ends

2304 x 1440

The rumored 12″ MacBook retina with newfangled trackpad and “fan less” design is a rumor as exciting as the iPad mini. But there’s one thing I’m questioning about the reports: the 2304 x 1440 resolution. That would be 1152 x 720 logical pixels, and Apple’s smallest display in recent history. Even the original PowerBook G4 was 1152 x 768. Only 1024 x 768 displays have less room on them. The current panel used for the 15 and 13 retina models is the same dpi, and extrapolating the same dpi (they’re all in the 220-ish range), this proposed resolution would be too.

The non-retina 11″ Air currently actually has the highest non-retina dpi of any of Apple’s products, and doubling that from 132 to 264 still would be far below iPhone / iPad mini territory (although I would love a laptop at that dpi too). This wouldn’t account for the increase in size from 11 to 12 inches, which is especially interesting considering just how much bezel the 11″ has today. Dialing up from there just a tad to a dpi of 283 could give the same 2880 x 1800 resolution as the 15″, which would be definitely eek this product into “pro” territory, and most importantly offer “looks like 4K” as a scaling mode, which would be nice since my 20/10 eyes have no trouble with 1080p points at 12″. 3840 mode on the 15″ is just around 300dpi, so 283 would still be lower than that virtual resolution.

So, predictions from most to least likely for resolution:

  • 2x1280x800 = 2560×1600
  • 2x1440x900 = 2880×1800

I think the extra “inch” will be used to make the laptop taller and 16:10 instead of 16:9. I don’t expect any resolution we haven’t seen before because the math works out so well with the scaled modes we currently have.

My original 11″ Air and original 15″ retina are both fine machines in perfect working order, but I will continue to dream of a machine that combines the best of both worlds (the retina 13″ is what I’d call a ‘compromise’). I hope I’m not too disappointed this fall.

HDMI Dongles

As Amazon and Apple prepare new tv boxes that likely just spit out HDMI, there’s of course speculation about their form factor being an HDMI stick like the Chromecast.

There’s a few problems with this concept and this form factor in general:

  • Power over HDMI isn’t here yet, so an ugly USB or other additional power cable is necessary
  • Being behind the TV requires Bluetooth control. While IR is awful for many valid reasons, at least it doesn’t need to be paired. And yes, I do expect a real remote from an Apple device. The 6-way remote is what makes the AppleTV easier than a Mac Mini or an iOS device hooked up via HDMI.
  • Too easy to not fit. The original iPod Shuffle blocked ports or didn’t stick far enough into recessed USB ports. If the device isn’t too fat to be a problem, and the HDMI male end sticks out far enough for all TVs, it could still risk being too long. I have sets that barely fit the old Monoprice HDMI cables with ferrite cores on them (and those are flexible).
  • Apple likes their products to be seen. They want your visitors to see the black puck (in a prominent location because it needs to receive IR) and ask what it is. It can’t do that behind the TV.
  • Apple doesn’t need to shrink the puck so much that they can’t pack an A7X into it.

I’m still of the belief that the reason MFI Bluetooth controllers of the extended layout require player 1-4 LEDs is because games are coming to the AppleTV. At retina iPad resolution, the A7X is already driving games at sizes greater than 1080p (albeit with simpler assets than console games) and it’s probably only 2 generations at most from supporting a 4K rendering context (again, with simpler assets than console games… for now).

The AppleTV doesn’t need to get smaller. It needs to get more powerful and maintain a $99 or $199 price point. If Apple does go into the dongle direction, I’d say that will be the final nail in the coffin for an AppleTV app store.

More Emergency Power

Eton has apparently released, but not shipping, new Emergency products which are upgrades of sorts to the ones I’ve tried so far..

I’ve tried the Eton FRX2 and FRX3 Emergency Hand Crank and Solar radio, LED flashlight, and USB charger this summer and my biggest complaint with both of those models was the use of a tiny (usable replaceable at least) NiCad battery. The not-shipping-yet new models (FRX4 and 5) with similar form factor aim to solve this with Lithium Ion batteries. I couldn’t find a capacity listed anywhere, but it claims to be able to 50% charge to “most smartphones”, whatever that means. The FRX2 and 3 don’t technically support USB charging unless you’re actively using the crank. The MSRP’s are also around double… I hope it’s worth it.

Although I just use a lead acid 12V scooter battery and clamp on what I need with alligator clips, exposed wiring and alligator clips aren’t for everyone. The reason I’ve been following Eton’s products is because they’re something I can potentially recommend to my family members. Even with my family using only LED flashlights and lanterns, after the first four days power loss from Hurricane Sandy replacement batteries were getting impossible to come by, and my power stayed out for another week.

In other news, we’ve added a Prius c to our lineup of cars. The advantages of a hybrid drivetrain in emergency situations were meaningful – not burning gas idling for an hour in gas lines (yes, that happened), no worries of draining the bigass battery with 200 watts of devices plugged into it, the fact that a 9.5 gallon tank is 450+ miles of range… I couldn’t resist getting another. Unfortunately, neither my apartment nor job can accommodate charging for an EV or plugin hybrid, plus a straight EV would be quite screwed in a 2 week long outage anyway.

Update:
The FRX4 has a 1000mAH battery and the FRX5 is 2000mAH. Some iOS device capacities:

Device mAH
iPhone 5S 1440
iPad Mini 1 4440
iPad Mini 2 6471
iPad 2 6944
iPad Air 8827
iPad 4 11560

So should have no problem recharging a single iPhone with the bigger FRX5 on a daily bases on solar power alone. All other combinations of Eton and Apple devices will require cranking – not that that’s necessarily the end of the world. Alkaline AAA batteries (of which it accepts three) are typically 860-1200 so three is 2580-3600mAH total but I would avoid wasting non rechargeable technology for that and keep your AAAs for your Maglites.

Brief: Thoughts on SmartWatches

I’ve always been a wearer of face watches ever since fourth grade – cheap <$50 ones that became increasingly difficult to replace the batteries on. When one of my watches finally only lasted about 3 years, I decided to try using only my iPhone (then 3G) for checking the time. I remained like that until January of this year when heated speculation on “wearable computing” from Apple made me decide to get used to wearing something on my wrist again.

A month later, I’ve found I’m checking my wrist for things it can’t tell me: the current weather, and the Find Friends location of someone I’m expecting. I actually get a slight annoyance when I have to pull my phone out of my pocket to check these things.

So, is there room for some sort of device on your wrist with more info than a watch? Probably. But: it’d have to have superb typography (which is why I use a face watch), probably e-ink and a Paperwhite style backlight, and be really, really small – two reasons I’ve never even entertained the idea of the existing products on the market.

The screen size of the (6th?) gen iPod nano “watch” is the right size, but there’s too much device around; but not beneath it. This is actually the size of the Shuffle but 0 bezel on all sides is probably impossible. Without the clip it’s actually already thin enough and actually thinner than my watch. Still, I’d rather see a display similar in quality to the second generation Kindle Paperwhite rather than some magical LCD that works in direct sunlight without blowing out the battery.