Steve Jobs (2015) Movie Review — Michael Fassbender

Steve Jobs (2015) takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.
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The most important thing to know about the 2015 take on Steve Jobs is that the movie focuses almost entirely on his Steve Jobs’ personal life, which both helps and hurts the movie. After all, Jobs was a man of many facets and he arguably spent the least amount of time worrying about his personal life. This focus is also what makes this movie so interesting, however. Most people know the other sides of Steve – the self-destructive artist, the visionary and the businessman. So Steve Jobs (2015) decided to take a much closer look at the side we know less about.

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iPhone Users Listen Up: Keyboard Shortcuts (Autofill) are a Lifesaver!

If you have yet to discover the iPhone’s keyboard shortcuts, you are about to have your mind blown. This function, tucked away in the settings, has two awesome functions: to create shortcuts for strings of text you frequently type, and to serve as a dictionary override. The second use is a best-kept secret, so be sure to read on.

Shortcuts function can be found in Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts

Create Shortcuts for Frequently Typed Items

iPhone Shortcuts — Autofill

The primary use of iPhone shortcuts is as their name implies — shortcuts. Simply press the “+” button in the top right and enter the text that you frequently type as the “Phrase” and the shortcut for the autofill as the “Shortcut”. For example, you can enter your address as the phrase and have your email automatically filled in when you type in “myemail” if you set “myemail” as the shortcut (see image). This is particularly useful for those with long emails or for longer phrases like full postal addresses.

Other great uses of shortcuts are:

  • Addresses (“myaddress”)
  • Phone numbers (“mynumber”)
  • Stop texting me, you’re crazy! (“crazyex”)

Create Dictionary Overrides (Particularly Useful for Swear Words)

Do you find it super annoying that Apple tries to strip you of the colourful language you like to use? Worry no more! Simply add a phrase for the word that you don’t want to have autocorrected and leave the shortcut field blank. Voilà! Steve Jobs will no longer try to correct your exclamations to “Duck!”

Of course, this isn’t limited to swearing. If there are any words that you type that are frequently “corrected”, incorrectly, simply add them to your list of shortcuts.

Have you been using the iPhone’s keyboard shortcuts? If so, what are some of the shortcuts you have created?

iOS 7 Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The internet is absolutely loaded with 2 things right now: iOS 7 traffic as people download the latest iOS update and a billion blog posts reviewing iOS 7. I feel it is my job to fuel the fire with my own iOS 7 review.

Firstly, it is worth noting that there are a variety of opinions out there about whether or not iOS 7 is good or bad. Like many, however, I see the OS as taking a number of steps forward and several steps back (as well as some unnecessary side steps). Here’s the breakdown:

iOS 7 InterfaceThe Good

iOS 7 brings about the biggest visual change that Apple has ever put forward. Apple has redesigned just about every single interface and application — I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been redesigned. For those that embrace change (I fall into that camp), the update is very welcome and seems refreshing. For everyone else, many changes will seem arbitrary and frustrating. The good news is that after a week or so, most users will have adapted.

Upgrading was as easy as usual, not including a delay because of overwhelming traffic to Apple’s servers and almost all settings and app data made it across safely to the new OS. Unfortunately, for some reason, my apps did not. A quick visit to the “purchased” section of the App Store app allowed me to re-download the apps painlessly and thankfully all of my app data made the transition.

The best addition to iOS 7 is the introduction of Control Centre for quickly changing phone settings. Of course, this functionality has existed via jailbreak for several years now, but it is great to finally see it baked into the OS as a standard feature.

Based on this, I can finally say that a jailbroken iPhone is no longer an absolute necessity. I still miss my 5-icon dock though.

The Bad
iOS 7 App SwipeThe bad news is that many changes are not just visual and may have gone a step in the wrong direction. Apple decided to rethink many system-wide gestures — some that have worked out for the better and others that add prolonged confusion. Take the new swipe gestures in the default “Mail” application, for example. Apple has decided to change the “swipe for options” functionality from a left-to-right swipe to a right-to-left swipe. This was done, presumably, because of the new OS-wide left-to-right swipe “back” function. However, it just doesn’t feel natural to swipe right to left and is a harder action to perform.

The notification center, by default, has also been made worse. The new “Today” view has been declared terrible by many. Thankfully, you can return the notification center to the way it was by changing some settings.

The Ugly

Call me shallow, but one of my biggest issues with iOS 7 is the overall colour scheme. I call it rainbow unicorn vomit. The fact that Apple got rid of skeuomorphism is fantastic, and most of the menus are dramatically improved visually. However, most of the new stock icons look like off-colour candy and make the overall OS feel more like a children’s toy than a serious new OS.

Some of the biggest problems that you can immediately fix are outlined in a recent Lifehacker article: fixing iOS 7’s biggest annoyances. Some of these frustrating items are:

  • Parallax — the unnecessary, constantly shifting of home screen apps when you move the phone. Distracting and useless.
  • Disable Control Center when in applications — for some apps that require interaction towards the bottom of the screen causing users to accidentally pull up Control Center.
  • Improving battery life by disabling background app refreshing
  • Returning notification center back to its superior old self

iOS 7 Album Artist AnnoyanceAlso, a small but particularly annoying change has been made to the Music app. Instead of selecting an artist and then being presented with a list of albums to drill-drown on, you are given a list of all songs for all albums instead. This makes it much more difficult to get to a specific album since you may have to scroll through every other album before reaching the one that you want (see the screenshot on the left).

Overall, iOS 7 is refreshing seeing as the OS has retained the same look for so long. However, Apple has overdone some of the visual changes and made a number of changes that are unnecessary. Despite some on-going annoyances, most users will quickly come to terms with the new OS and enjoy some of the best features like the Control Center.

What do you think about iOS 7?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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Using Dictation (Siri) for Blogging and Texting

Using Siri for Dictation - BloggingDo you know what one of the worst things about blogging is? Not being able to do it (easily) from the comfort of your own bed.

For you lucky folks with tablets, this does not apply to you. The rest of us with our laptops and our phones are torn: do we awkwardly lay in bed with out laptop or type ever-so-carefully on our phones to make the blogging magic happen. This just in — there’s a better solution!

Ever since upgrading to the iPhone 5 I have been taking advantage of a number of new features such as Siri. Now, don’t get me wrong, Siri is mostly useless. Seriously. But for composing the odd text and, surprisingly, writing blog posts, Siri is great! Keep in mind that while I am referencing Siri, the same should apply to other dictation applications on other smartphones. Some apps like Dragon Dictation work across platforms and perform well.

It takes some getting used to, but once you learn to speak somewhat slowly and dictate punctuation, the process is very simple. I was very surprised to discover that I could write posts just as quickly by dictating them as I could typing them on a full keyboard. Fairly impressive considering my average WPM is about 86. It makes sense, of course. After all, speaking is surely much faster than typing — even for us fast typers.

The biggest issue is that it is hard to insert images and “pretty-up” a post from a mobile device (at least with WordPress it is). So I find myself having to hop on the computer to finish of the post. I usually finish it the next day or whenever it is convenient. That way all of the content is written when my creativity and motivation have peaked and the images and such can follow later.

If you are an avid blogger that doesn’t like to switch it up and be comfy while writing posts, I recommend giving dictation a go.

Google Maps for the iPhone (iOS 6)

There was a tremendous backlash against Apple when they removed Google Maps from the iPhone when they released iOS 6, and for good reason. Google Maps was an extremely polished app that single-handedly justified owning a smartphone. After weeks of struggling with Apple Maps and plenty of boiling-over hatred, Google Maps was finally re-introduced on for iOS 6 and calmed the masses.

“Yes I have all the Maps in the world at my fingertips and can get directions anywhere virtually instantly. Also, it’s very accurate (unlike Apple Maps).”

The first thing I noticed was the difference in speed. It was hard to judge how much of the speed improvement was as a result of the newly streamlined app, as opposed to the difference in phone speed in general since I had just upgraded from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5. Likely a little bit of both. The speed improvements are a result of Google’s newly incorporated WebGL technologies that dynamically draw the map instead of downloading new image squares every time you zoom in.

Click here to learn more about Google Maps with WebGL and discover how to enable it for desktop Google Maps as well.

A number of new features also came with the app — features that were once available only on the Android version. The biggest feature addition was turn by turn navigation. The TomTom’s of the world are in serious trouble now, as anyone with either an Android or iOS device can now use their phone as a full GPS. I have only used the feature a handful of times but it seems to be deadly accurate, unlike the ridiculous hilarity of Apple Maps.

I am still most impressed by the overall speed of the app. Zooming in and out happens almost instantly — an enormous improvement from the old days of watching giant gray boxes float on screen while the rest of the image squares were being downloaded. Searching for directions also happens instantly which has always blown my mind. To think that Google’s servers can receive the address information, match it up with their index and automatically suggest a route which is then draw in half a second on the app is beyond me. Switching transportation methods provides new directions just as quickly (mind explosion!)

Google Maps also provides several available routes each time you request a route. This is great because you can make on-the-fly decisions about different routes if there is a reason you want to avoid a particular street or area. I never find myself choosing an alternative route though, since the route it recommends is always the best — perfectly accounting for traffic, road speeds etc.

Having recently jailbroken my iPhone 5 and downloaded the new Google Maps, I am very content 🙂

Google Maps App iOS 6 Screenshots

The Social Media Saturation Point

Ping, Google Plus, Friendster

Analysts around the world have been predicting a second tech bubble burst for some time now. However, it hasn’t yet happened. In the age of micro-payments, even the most niche start-ups can find enough customers to stay alive. Social networks, on the other hand, are the true bubble.
You see, social media is everywhere these days and discussed incessantly, so hundreds of businesses have been built around these social networks. My Twitter bio contains words such as “business” and “marketing”, for example, I cannot go a single day without being bombarded by new followers claiming to help me “leverage social media” and “build my online following”. The question is, how many of these businesses can the market support?

I argue that the we have reached the social media saturation point. It started out as the next big thing, so of course everyone was very excited about it. Don’t misunderstand me, however; social media is as powerful as it ever was – for certain target audiences and certain uses and most importantly for established social networks.

New social media business has seen their glory days come and go. There was a time, several years ago, when it seemed that anyone could start a social network business and find success, but established social networks like Facebook and Twitter have tightened their grip on the industry.  The only company to truly pick up speed in the last few years has been Pinterest – finding a niche primarily with crafty women.

Even social networks backed by some of the biggest companies in the world have failed. A perfect example is Ping, a social network created by Apple that fell flat. They thought they had found an unserved corner of the market but turned out to be dead wrong – even after investing millions of dollars and baking it into a variety of its products, people preferred Facebook and Twitter to discuss music. Finally seeing that there is little room for a new social network, Ping was killed this year (2012).

We have reached the social media saturation point.

Another recent example is Google+. Google+ still remains active and claims success, however, most of us know better. Even Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, qualifies their success based on the challenge posed by the social media giants: “Google+ is doing better than I expected given the competitors in the market“. Except for a heavily-male group of computer scientists, Google+ has failed to draw the masses like Facebook and Twitter. Unlike Ping, Google+ will likely stick around for while, continuously fed cash by Google so that they can improve their search results via stats from a small segment of the market; perhaps one day seeing the light and calling it quits as well.

I love competition and choice as much as the next guy but until something that offers something truly unique comes along, I’m sticking with Facebook and Twitter. After all, a social network’s value is based on its number of connections and I have long thought there is too much division on the internet.

What do you think?

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Apple’s Product Obsolescence: Unfixable Macbook Pro

Apple products are high quality. They offer polished hardware and software at a hefty price. Apple products have been touted as long-lasting – so perhaps they are worth the investment. Now what if those same expensive products are slapped with an expiry date? Welcome to Apple’s newly introduced product obsolescence.

I like many Apple products, but it is no secret that many of Apple’s business practices really tick me off. So needless to say I was very . . . disappointed . . . to learn that Apple has decided to make their new MacBook Pro’s unfixable or upgradeable. This means costly Apple-only servicing. If your battery dies, you are out of luck. After all, Apple Care only covers manufacturer’s defects and the battery only lasts 300 cycles on average. So no more assuming your investment will last for many years without additional expenditure.apple-obsolescence-macbook-repair

To make things worse, because the entire notebook is sealed together tighter than Alcatraz, recycling is difficult. This is likely one of many reasons why Apple initially backed out of the EPEAT environmental standard. The aluminum used in the MacBook Pro is supposed to be highly recyclable, but sources indicate that because the glass is glued to the aluminum, recycling is particularly difficult.

Apple’s recent decisions certainly fit with its “buy it from us or die in a hole” mentality, but it is decisions like this that could cause consumers to wake up to the increasing long-term costs of owning Apple (on top of the very high initial cost of owning Apple). Good thing Apple has an untarnishable reputation – fanboys can’t even see the words I’m writing.

See the Wired article “The New MacBook Pro: Unfixable, Unhackable, Untenable” for more information.

 

P.s. no, I won’t stop hating on Apple – they have too much money to be allowed to make a single move that doesn’t benefit the end consumer.