29 April 2019

CNBC: “5G: Why Apple had to settle its dispute with Qualcomm”

In the end, Apple had to choose the lesser of all evils:

Option one: Settle with Qualcomm, the leader in 5G chips. Qualcomm’s 5G chips are already shipping in some devices today, with more expected as the year rolls on.

But Apple has seen Qualcomm’s business model as detrimental to the entire industry since it uses its dominant position to squeeze large fees out of each company that uses its chips and patents. Hence that nasty lawsuit. Apple CEO Tim Cook made his disdain for Qualcomm’s practices known in a January interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, and even blasted Qualcomm’s decision to hire a PR firm to write fake news stories about Apple, which Business Insider reported.

Steve Kovach

In other words, company that squeezes monopoly profits out of its customers and app developers (and more recently newspapers) doesn’t like being squeezed by another company’s patent rights. Hard to see how Apple could have won this one, and others have said it much better than I could:

27 April 2019

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ (CBS, season 1)

in Bucharest, Romania
Star Trek: Discovery - Season 1

On the outskirts of Federation territory, the USS Shenzhou stumbles upon an ancient Klingon ship – and a secret meeting where a new religious leader aims to unite the feuding Klingon Great Houses and restore glory to their empire in the name of Kahless. In the ensuing battle, Captain Georgiou is killed and her First Officer, Lt. Michael Burnham is charged with treason and condemned to life imprisonment. Unfortunately for the young United Federation of Planets, the Klingons are a formidable force, attacking relentlessly and soon threatening core Federation worlds. Eager to find a weapon to turn the tides of the conflict, the crew of the USS Discovery is experimenting with a revolutionary propulsion system, and Michael Burnham soon joins its crew, at the request of its captain.

I’m very much behind with my reviews, and while I don’t plan on writing about each and every series that I watch, some merit special attention. I’ve been a big fan of Star Trek since adolescence – unlike many Americans, I’ve discovered Star Trek through The Next Generation, and I don’t have high regard for the original series – so I wasn’t about to let this revival go unnoticed. Season two just about finished airing and it’s probably next on my watch list, so this would be a good time to write down a few thoughts about the first one.

There was considerable controversy around launch, especially about the new look of the Klingon race. For me, the outside differences haven’t stood out too much, and naturally much of the changes can be attributed to the limited resources available to TV producers in the ‘70s for portraying alien races. Even to this day most aliens on TV are humanoids, although this is highly unlikely from an evolutionary standpoint. I’ve been impressed that Klingon dialogue is spoken in their own tongue, which lends a more authentic feel to their scenes.

15 April 2019

Post-Game-of-Thrones stories

Now that the final season of Game of Thrones is about to begin, I’ve had some fun imagining how Westeros might look like after it finishes (I have yet to watch the first episode, so the thoughts below are completely independent of the show). Assuming that the White Walkers are ultimately defeated, of course…

10 April 2019

Dustin Abbott: “Canon EOS R Review”

Like most new Canon cameras, the initial reaction for many is to be underwhelmed. It is sometimes easy to overlook the areas where Canon is quietly innovating (the sensor protecting “shield” and control ring on the RF lenses/adapter are genuinely useful innovations) because of the obvious areas where Canon is lagging (no IBIS, video quirks, lower frame rate, single card slot). Typically Canon cameras prove to be better cameras than their specs, however, and I do think that will be the case here. What’s somewhat atypical, however, are the ergonomic fails of the EOS R, as that is typically an area of strength for Canon. In this case an attempt to be innovative (the touch bar) actually proved to be a fail (at least from my perspective). If you are using a camera on a regular basis, however, you typically learn ways to get it to do what you want it to do, and Canon has allowed for a higher degree of customization on this camera than is typical for them. The excellent touchscreen also helps in this regard. I also think that Canon has implemented the best grip I’ve found in a mirrorless camera yet.

Dustin Abbott

Sharing this on the blog feels a bit overdue, as I’ve read this extensive review of the Canon EOS R back in January, around the time I’ve linked to the article about disassembling one of the new lenses in the RF system. But I think it touches a lot of great points and it’s balanced in evaluating the negatives and the innovations of the new system, compared to other reviewers I’ve seen. In this article I’ve first learned that the lens adapter supports not only EF lenses, but also EF-S lenses. This opens the opportunity for many amateur photographers, who own EOS crop sensor cameras (including myself), to switch to this mirrorless body without needing to spend money on upgrading lenses from the start – something that I’m sure Canon considered while designing the new mount and adapter.

09 April 2019

Fast Company: “26 incredibly useful things you didn’t know Google Calendar could do”

If you rely on Google Calendar like I do—or even if you just use it casually to keep track of occasional appointments—you’ll get more out of it once you’ve discovered all of its advanced tricks and time-saving possibilities. And if you’re too busy to tackle this right now, no worries: I happen to know a spectacular tool for setting reminders and making sure you never forget anything on your agenda.

JR Raphael

‘26 incredibly useful things’… and not one of them is being able to send birthday reminders for the people in your address book!

After switching to Android last year, this is possibly the most frustrating and baffling missing feature I’ve encountered. There are forum discussions requesting this going back to 2013, and there’s still no sign of solution on Google’s part. It doesn’t work in their web interface, nor in the official Android app, not even in third-party apps like Outlook! The only viable workaround for the moment is to set up an ifttt recipe, but I would hate to rely solely on that, given how Google can, at any point, restrict access rights for third parties – as it has recently done with Gmail.

Beyond embarrassing for Google!

08 April 2019

CNBC: “Bezos hired a SpaceX vice president to run Amazon’s satellite internet project after Musk fired him”

Project Kuiper represents Bezos’ plan to launch 3,236 small satellites into space to provide high-speed internet to anywhere in the world. The plan puts Amazon in the middle of a race among at least five other companies aiming to launch next-generation satellite networks with global broadband coverage.

Badyal previously ran the “Starlink” division at SpaceX, which launched its first two test satellites last year. SpaceX initially planned for the network to consist of a similar constellation of 4,425 satellites in low Earth orbit. Late last year, the FCC approved an addition of 7,518 satellites to the constellation, bringing Starlink’s planned total to 11,943 satellites in orbit.

Michael Sheetz

I’ve read last week about Amazon’s latest project and immediately thought: ‘oh well, so much for SpaceX’ plans to make money by selling Internet access from space!’ There’s no way the company, by all accounts not yet profitable and dependent of government contracts, will be able to compete with Amazon, with more resources and a steady inflow of cash at their disposal. And the scoop above just goes to prove what many have said before, that Elon Musk is SpaceX’ (and Tesla’s) biggest asset – but also their greatest liability, through his inability to retain talented people.