October 16th, 2012

christmas 2008

Some thoughts on iOS 6

The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system has been out for nearly four weeks now; I've been using it for that long, having downloaded it to my phone as soon as it came out. For the most part, it's the same as the previous edition. There are a few changes worth writing about.

The Apple vs. Google unpleasantness. Everything has been focused on the new Apple Maps application, which has been pretty much universally panned. That has very little effect on me, as I don't use my phone to navigate. I have a separate Garmin unit for my car, and it has proven reliable every time I've needed it. The extensive consternation over the new Maps is all the more reason to hold steady with the Garmin. A friend also pointed out a notable aspect of the icon for this new Maps application - the route shown in blue isn't exactly one you'd want to do in an actual car. Departing from the Apple campus, heading north on De Anza Boulevard, it isn't the best idea to hang a hard left to enter northbound Interstate 280. You might want to consider using the entrance ramp.

Maps isn't the only thing affected by Apple's falling out with Google. I went to watch a video on YouTube a few weeks ago when I discovered, all of a sudden, that the native YouTube application had disappeared in the iOS upgrade. This was easily fixed by downloading a new YouTube application, but still a slight pain.

The Podcasts application. This is the thing about iOS 6 that I've noticed the most. I listen to several different podcasts, and this new app has much improved listening control. There's a separate list of unplayed podcasts; it's really nice to have one flow seamlessly right into another. There are also jump forward and jump back buttons (-10/+30, and -15/+15 on the lock screen). These are great for me, because I have a tendency to "fat finger" the screen sometimes, and accidentally hit the wrong control, and presto! I'm all the way back to the beginning of the podcast, and I have to manually find the place where I was. The one drawback - and it is significant - is the penchant for previously played podcasts to show up as unplayed. Last week, I got back from my walk to see that I had 293 unplayed episodes (every episode of four of my seven podcasts). At least in that case, I only had to go in and "mark all played" four times. Compared to the god stuff, I can live with this small inconvenience.

Stuff I haven't used yet. There's two big ones here. The first is the Panorama feature in Photos; this represents one of the few instances in which I actually learned something useful from a television commercial, specifically the small type at the end where it says Panorama "also works on iPhone 4S." There's a view of Eaton's Neck and the power plant's smoke stacks from the edge of "The Pit" that I think would make a really good cover photo. The second such feature is Passbook, which has various participating vendors associated with it, including Target and Walgreens. At the bottom of the list of applications, it shows the amount of credit remaining on my Apple ID for the iTunes Store. Could that possibly mean that I could use that balance for purchases made through Passbook? If so, that would be very awesome.

What's being left behind. Only one of my two iOS devices got to move on up to iOS 6. The first generation iPad, which I have owned since Christmas 2010, remains with iOS 5. At first, I didn't understand why this was so. I had speculated in a private e-mail that Apple was doing this for the same reason a man and a mog saved a princess from the Spaceballs. But a much more sensible explanation appeared in my Twitter feed a couple of weeks ago - there are significant hardware and software limitations on the original iPad, and if iOS6 were pushed out to it, the device would slow down to a crawl. And keeping the earlier operating system on my iPad isn't all bad - after all, it still has Google Maps.

There are also some smaller performance updates, such as the checking of mail being faster. Overall, I give this new iOS a thumbs up, and I expect it'll be further improved once Apple sorts out its mapping problems.

christmas 2008

Debate day links

I always enjoy Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column at ESPN, and today's edition is no different. TMQ carries not only football but political content; today we get a look back at how Ray Lewis changed his public persona after his serious legal troubles, as well as a item about gerrymandering in Maryland - and sure enough, I had no idea such gerrymandering was even taking place before I read this piece.

A little heresy is never such a bad thing, and Jerry Beach serves some up on a silver platter over at Defiantly Dutch. Perhaps the purported benefits of hosting a presidential debate aren't worth the costs? (Similar post from 2008.) In that first link, you might notice a link to a New York Times article about the positives an event like this bring to the university. That NYT piece said the following of Hofstra's now defunct football program: "the team turned in lackluster seasons, drew few fans and delivered no revenue..." Suffice to say that Beach refuted all three clauses as part of a Twitter rant. As I wrote nearly two years ago, there exist multiple morsels of evidence that the entire process leading up to December 3, 2009 was driven by the vision of one man - a man who you might have caught a glimpse of over these last few days.

Speaking of that man, I wonder if he saw Michael Weinreb's piece at Grantland today about Rutgers football. The Scarlet Knights are another college team trying to make it in this town that's oriented toward the professional sports, trying to "build the brand," as it were - but now facing serious budgetary pressures. Mr. President Rabinowitz might like to point to the Rutgers experience as evidence that the decision he and the Board of Trustees made in 2009 was the right one. But the argument doesn't hold. Hofstra would not have needed the kind of cash infusion that Rutgers's former administrators insisted on providing. All it needed was for the budget to be maintained - and more importantly, for institutional support all the way through to the top (which existed at least until June 2001). The more I think about this, the more tempted I am to lump President Rabinowitz in with Roger Hull, the former president of Union College, who had a similarly blase attitude about the (non-flying) Dutchmen men's hockey team.

Last but not least, we can't forget Reason's debate drinking game! And I'll close with this comment on Facebook from my high school friend (and fellow trombonist) Elizabeth: "Tonight just might represent the most important showdown that Hofstra University has seen since the Great Northport-Seaford Marching Band Standoff of 1996."