Sunday, January 15, 2012

iTunes saga 5.0.1

I went through a painful iTunes experience. Had to. I try to avoid iTunes as much as possible, but since I wanted to update iOS version on my iPad, it was not possible to avoid it. The bottom line is that it sucks as a device management tool. Here's why:

iTunes is not a device management tool

It is a media management tool. It was made to put music and videos to iPod which started as an MP3 player. Some say it sucks there as well. I don't care. I copy photos as files, I transfer music with MediaMonkey and use mail and Dropbox to manage documents.

iTunes is patched to be a device management tool with key functions obscured by the media-optimized interface.

Sync doesn't

One of the most scary checkboxes in the Apple universe is the "Sync Apps". User is warned that if selected, all apps installed by the user on device will be removed. And they are. The trick is that before one does that, it makes sense to "transfer purchases". So that after "sync apps" removes them all, you can put them back. They get rearranged on the springboard pages but after a few minutes' work things are back to normal. It seems. It is still scary!

What sync should do to justify its name is to really sync - compare content on the device with content in iTunes and allow for both to be the same after the process. Actually I see no point in syncing stuff - apps are installed via WiFi anyway and purchases remembered by the AppStore in case one deletes them by mistake. But I decided to sync, because:

Backup doesn't

Before upgrading to iOS 5.0.1 I backed up the iPad. Upgraded. But when I restored it, there were no apps installed, just some 5 GB of memory was occupied with "other". Some backup! I would expect a backup to backup the device. Perhaps Apple would care to offer a selection of what to back up. Like system settings, apps, apps' settings, apps' data, music, videos ... But no. It seems only the things are backed up that are synced!

So I installed the iPad from scratch. Which is not a bad idea every now and then. Get rid of all the junk and dead wood and start clean.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Managing the Eurozone


Reading about Sarkzoy, Merkel to invite Van Rompuy to head Eurozone I must say I liked the idea 18 months ago. From a paper published in European View Volume 9, Number 1, 79-92, DOI: 10.1007/s12290-010-0117-3.
Enhance economic coordination. This is a logical requirement to maintain monetary integration. The crisis has shown its mechanisms should be taken much more seriously. In the enforcement of the Stability and Growth Pact the Commission should take advantage of the new provisions in the Lisbon treaty. The pact should be extended with supervision of private debt and the balance of payments. Because economic coordination calls for measures in the member states, the European Council should take the lead in shaping coordinated economic policy and the Commission in overseeing it. The coordination in the Monetary Union should be particularly strong and take place at a prime ministerial level (underlined today).

At the time (and now as well) the Monetary Union was handled by an almost informal meeting of the finance ministers of the Eurozone the evening before the meeting of ECFIN.
 
Today I would just add that economic policy coordination and budget supervision will solve little on the long run. It is an accounting measure. People will have to flow from regions doing bad to regions doing well, and money - in the form of investments rather than loans - will need to flow from countries with surpluses to countries with deficits. To do so the PIGS (and a few others) will have to set up an attractive business environment, because there are places outside of the EU where one can invest.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The World is Going to Hell and We Call it Magic

Yesterday, I decided to upgrade my iPhone form iOS 4.1 to iOS 4.2.1. The process nearly bricked it. It would not even restore (Figure 1). It took me some three hours to make it work again. Something to do with the etc/hosts file. The good thing was, I had phone silence for a few hours.

Figure 1: And BTW, it is not an unknown error. It is error 1013!

I do not get intimidated by gadgets

Today, I decided to upgrade my iPad from iOS 3.something to 4.2.1. There are quite a few new apps that want iOS 4.2 and there is a long weekend in Slovenia, Tuesday being the Culture Day. Time to do a complicated and lengthy surgery.

Remembering what happened yesterday, I decided to do a backup of the iPad first. I would really hate to reinstall and reconfigure all the apps or lose documents, slides, magazines, books, movies ... The backup started, but did not look like it was doing anything. The progress bar was not moving at all (Figure 2).

Figure 2.

On a side note: these guys at Apple are supposed to be some kind of GUI fanatics ... would Steve Jobs really kill anyone if the thingy would include some kind of a counter that would say: "Your backup would be finished in three weeks, seven hours, forty five minutes and five seconds". Well, not Steve Jobs.

Seriously, if it wasn't for the animated icon (Figure 3), the iTunes could just as well be frozen. I plead guilty, it is the first time since I bought the iPad in April last year, to do the backup, but what the heck: 11 gigs take 10-15 minutes to push over the USB on my notebook, so how long could this take?

Figure 3.
The answer: 27 hours! Theoretically.
 
I fired up some system tools that showed that the data transfer rate between iTunes and iPad is at some 1 megabit per second. I assumed 8+1 checksum bit per byte and did the math. 99000 seconds to back my 16GB 3/4 full iPad! The beauty of this is that the battery lasts some 10 hours and that the iPad is not charging via MacBook's USB port. Isn't this just great?

But Google is your friend they say.

Lets find some tips how to make the iTunes backup faster. I would not be writing this if it wasn't for those tips. And the wise words from my friends on Twitter. The best advice to speed up backup is to delete the stuff you would like to back up. A whole PhD is written on how to identify which app is the one taking up a lot of space, because there is no iPad/iTunes tool to find out.

Am I the only one to see the idiocy of this advice? I mean, if I would not care about the stuff I want to back up, why back up in the first place? Yes, delete the movies, the books, the magazines, the photos, whatever data you might have ... and then, when your iPad is empty, the backup will be fast. Revolutionary?

It will not be fast, you morons, it would be the same 1 megabit/second, it would just be less of the bits and therefore fewer seconds! It is like an advice for safe sex that would say, don't have sex!

It is amazing what our IT industry gets away with these days. Devices sync at a rate which is slower than the rate at which they empty the battery. They get away with advice that in order to do backup faster, you should first destroy what you want to back up! Enough is enough.

An hour later.
They have the nerve to call this device - the iPad - magical. Indeed, it takes a fool to believe in magic. The IT industry believes we are all fools, and they are making a lot of money on this assumption! The real magic is that we are so enchanted with these gadgets, that after the troubles are over, we again think the iPad is the best thing since the screw off beer bottle top.

PS. While I was doing this, my daughter announced she needs a new external hard disk. I had an old 300M and a new 1T to spare, so I asked, what size she needed, what size are the ones she had. She had no idea except that it is full. She is in the 2nd year of grammar school, they have computing courses, and obviously they are raising good customers for this industry.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Assange on Žižek?

That Slavoj Žižek writes with sympathy about the digital Che Guevara is not a surprise. What is surprising, though, is that Assange had a lucid opinion on philosophers even before he read Žižek:
It has often been said that mathematics is the cheapest university department to run, for all one needs is pencil, a desk and a waste paper basket. This is not so. Philosophy is cheaper still, since in philosophy we do not even need the basket.
- Julian Assange

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wishlist for iPAD II

Now that I got everything I wanted from Santa, let me write down what I want in iPad II.


Software
  1. Shared file system for (some) apps. This has in fact nothing to do with iPAD. It is an iOS thing. As it stands, iOS is lobotomized. Each app only has access to its own files. I want for example Dropbox app and Pages app to have access to the same files. I will use one to read and write documents and the other to sync them with the could.

    Is this really too much to ask? I mean, really!
  2. Decent Safari. I want Safari to work with "destkop" versions of Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar etc. This has nothing to do with new hardware either. It is just a wish to make iPad a better client for the cloud services.
  3. More iPAD specific features in the iOS. iPad has a larger screen. It could be managed differently then the iPhone. Like switching among apps Expose style, for example.
  4. Keyboards with smaller keys, but more of them. It is really a pain to type anything that is not an US-ASCII letter.
  Hardware
  1. Better screen. It is an eyesore to look at iPad scree after reading something on the iPhone 4. 1920x1280 would be nice, but not very likely at the 9" screen size. But I would be disappointed with anything less than 1200x1600 pixels.
  2. USB host port. It's really a pity that I cannot give a presentation stored on my iPad on a stick to the guy who manages the projector at a conference.
  3. Keep (or increase) screen size and battery life. There are some rumors that Apple might reduce the size of the screen to be able to claim "retina" resolution and make battery smaller to reduce weight. I would hate this. Actually I would not mind a 10" screen. At better resolution one could read slightly reduced A4/letter sized pages that this civilization found as a good size for our eyes and brains.
  4. I could not care less about a camera, SD card slots, memory, processors etc.
Am I forgetting something? What would you like?