Monday, January 23, 2012

iSay No

     Apple's latest revolutionary and magical contribution comes in the form of digital textbooks, dubbed iBooks 2.  Available for iPad only, iBooks 2 has been promised to revolutionize education with its interactive interface that allows students to watch videos and take quizzes direct from their iPads.  The books will be sold for around $15, but there's a couple problems.  First, they're only available on iPads.  That's it.  So for iBooks to truly "revolutionize" education, the school district will either have to provide iPads for its students, or the students will have to buy iPads for themselves to access their textbooks.  And since these textbooks are so feature-rich, I don't think they would be compatible with normal textbooks.  But the worst part about it is their license agreement.  Part of Apple's EULA for iBooks 2, from

  •  (i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;
  • (ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or
    service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.
And then the next paragraph is bold-faced, just so you don’t miss it:
Apple will not be responsible for any costs, expenses, damages, losses (including
without limitation lost business opportunities or lost profits) or other liabilities you may
incur as a result of your use of this Apple Software, including without limitation the fact that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple

Basically, Apple is saying that if you make anything in their iBooks Author program, you must sell it through iBooks, and you cannot sell it anywhere else.  If Apple doesn't like it, you have a brand new interactive textbook on your hands, and nothing to do with it.  Sure, you can give it away for free, but I don't see many people just giving textbooks away, especially ones like these.  Its format may not even be compatible with the industry standards of ebooks today (EPUB). Apple is being very Apple-y again with their limited and closed policies.  Unfortunately, I can't say I'm surprised.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Return of the (Android) Jedi

     Sorry about the hiatus, folks.  Now I'm back, and hopefully I'll be able to stay, what with robotics and all.

     Apple has really showed how afraid they are of Android in this move.  They're going up against the Samsung Galaxy Nexus for its "slide to unlock" feature.  Ridiculous.  Take a look at these two photos of their lockscreens.  

As you can see, the lockscreens aren't even close in either looks or functionality.  The iPhone's lockscreen is locked into a straight line, while the Nexus' screen allows the circle, which isn't an arrow in a rectangle, to move anywhere inside the larger circle that encompasses the carrier label and the lockscreen options.  You're also able to access the camera on the lockscreen without pressing any extra buttons.  you can access the iPhone's camera from its lockscreen, but you have to double tap the home button, which in my experience doesn't exactly work well a lot of the time.  Apple is trolling really hard right now, and there's almost no chance that they'll win this in any court.  The trial is scheduled for March 16, and it'll be fun to watch Apple be dismissed from yet another stupid patent claim.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Battery Life and other stuff

The battery life on the iPhone 4S has been in the news lately for being exceedingly poor.  The 4S has 200 hours of standby time and 8-14 hours of talk time, depending on if you are on 2G or 3G.  I felt compelled to point out that the original iPhone had 250 hours of standby time and up to 8 hours of talk time.  The poor battery life has been attributed to a possible bug in the iPhone's location software, but nothing has been confirmed yet.  I think it might be another bug in iOS5.  I say another bug because my Aunt Fran has an iPhone 4 that she just upgraded, and it would shut off by itself, have trouble finding a data connection, and basically became unusable until she took it into an Apple store and restored it to its factory settings.
     There have also been rumors going around that Apple has bought C3 technologies, which is a sort of offshoot of Saab.  Apple also acquired C3's map technology that is supposed to blow Google Maps away.  As much as I love Google, I've watched some of the demos of this map program, and it is amazing.  Unlike Google Maps, it lets you view everything in 3D, and the quality is stunning.  It's like watching a movie throughout the earth.  Google is trying something new with their maps by showing the insides of businesses in street view if they volunteer, but it's nowhere near as cool or compelling as Apple's maps.  Google is going to have to step up their game, and they're going to have to do it fast.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are Macs Really Better?

Today I come to you with a question: what makes a Mac better than a Windows? A lot of people say that Macs are better, and there are three big reasons: They don't get viruses; they have a better user interface; and they come bundled with things like iMovie and iPhoto.  But is it really worth it to spend thousands of dollars on a Mac just to get these bonuses? 
     The first reason isn't even valid.  True, Macs are less susceptible to viruses, but they can still get them.  Hackers just don't bother making viruses for Macs because Apple only has 6.45 percent of the global market share, while Microsoft owns 90.3 percent with Windows XP, Vista and 7 combined.  
     The user interface issue is somewhat valid for now, but looking at Windows 8 and its Windows Phone look, it seems like the interface is going to be a lot more user-friendly than previous versions of Windows.  Even if you don't look at Windows 8, Microsoft has made huge strides since the release of XP.  Apple may have had the upper hand in the XP years, but the Windows 7 revamp brought larger icons, an easier start menu, and a generally more visually pleasing experience.  Macs can't really claim this as an advantage anymore.
     A draw for some people towards Macs is the fact that they come with powerful, preinstalled programs like iMovie.  This helps temper the initial displeasure at finding out how much a Mac is when you go to buy one.  However, you could buy a Windows machine and then buy Adobe Photoshop and Elements and still come out under a Mac's price tag (albeit barely, depending on the quality of the computer you buy).  Photoshop and Elements are a lot more capable than iMovie or iPhoto, too.
While a lot of people claim that Macs are better than Windows, once you dissect that claim, you can see that they're really about equal.  While a Mac's UI is still a bit easier than Windows, you can expect that to change with the possible release of Windows 8 late next year.        

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is just my tracking code for FeedShark... no content here. 
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Ridiculous Fanboys

It's amazing how staunch the masses are in their support of Apple.  I brought up some points at school today from the article I posted earlier ( if you missed it), and the reaction I got was astounding: "He had to be like that to be successful," or "He can do that because he is Steve Jobs," or, my favorite, "They planned the book to be released after he died so he couldn't come back at it."  Jobs' biography was being written in 2009.  It would be very difficult to plan a book release right after someone died on purpose... unless Steve knew when he was going to die because of the psychics he talked to.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Steve Jobs Exposé

An incredibly interesting and enlightening article from MSNBC...
     The real Steve Jobs was not the one portrayed by Apple.  He was really a big jerk who fathered a child at 23 and didn't even acknowledge her until she was 14, forcing the girl's mother to rely on food stamps to survive – even after Jobs became a multibillionaire.  There's more in the article, but I warn you, be prepared to be shocked.