Archive for June, 2009


June 30, 2009


YES I DO. Even though I may not do as well as I think I did, it was definitely a confidence booster after my dismal performance in GP yesterday.

Time to continue with my Chemistry revision.

Till next time,

iPhone OS 3.0

June 27, 2009

iPhone 3.0
There is no point in me going into the main features of the software update, TUAW got them covered pretty well here, but just for kicks, the best new features are probably Copy and Paste, MMS, Internet Tethering, Find my iPhone (for MobileMe customers only), Spotlight, Landscape keyboard in other Apple apps, Voice Memos, Bluetooth peer to peer connectivity, push notification, Notes Sync (for Mac users only – HA), OK, I should stop (bolded ones are the ones I really love). Speaking of Find My iPhone, let me point you to this interesting story which is definitely worth a read.

But the focus of this post is actually on the smaller refinements in the iPhone 3.0 that was not mentioned by Apple, but definitely there and welcomed.

Arrangement of App Icons
We might not have gotten what we wanted – a way to arrange our numerous apps on our iPhone through iTunes – but the arrangement of apps on the iPhone OS 3.0 is definitely way better than in 2.0. When you drag an App icon all the way to the left or right extremes of a page, the App actually slides to the next page. This makes it so much easier to rearrange apps than in 2.0, where apps simply refuse to slide to the next page and plant themselves firmly on the page. This may not be an issue for pages that are not full, as you can just “pick” them up again and slide to the next page, but when the page is full, the app on the bottom right is going to get displaced to the next page and so in the end, instead of shifting one app icon, you have to shift multiple apps (just like playing that puzzle game where you have one space and you have to move the tiles around to form a image).

Remembers your App Positions
I am quite sure this is a 3.0 feature. In 2.2.1, after restoring from a previous backup, the phone doesn’t remember the previous positions of the applications. However, in 3.0, it seems that it would actually remember the position of your applications on your home screen. A nice touch for sure.

More detailed Phone records
The call records in the iPhone 3.0 are definitely more detailed. For one, it now shows what number your contact used to call you – whether it’s their work number or their mobile or their home number. When you tap for the detailed call log for those with multiple entries, it actually shows you useful status information, such as whether the call is incoming or outgoing, cancelled or missed, instead of just a row of meaningless time under 2.0. See what I mean in the screenshot below.

Contact Sharing
I don’t think this was implemented in 2.0, but not only can you share contact cards via MMS, you can share them via Email too. This should come as good news to those stuck under carriers that doesn’t support MMS yet. (*cough* AT&T *cough*)

New Phone Features

GPS Pinpointing
In 3.0, when the iPhone GPS couldn’t pinpoint exactly where you are, it places a pin at where it thinks you are, with a translucent circle which shows the uncertainty in pinpointing, as compared to the large crosshairs in 2.0 that leaves you guessing where the hell you are. See what I mean below. (Note: the 2.0 screenshot wasn’t taken with my phone, it’s just an example of the crosshairs)

GPS Pinpointing

These were the ones that I could find and remember, feel free to share more in the comments.

School’s in. Starting with 2 weeks of exams.

June 27, 2009

Tomorrow would the last day of our month long holiday. Oh wait, what holiday? The Dictionary application on my Mac defines holiday as a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done. Festive? Definitely nothing festive about studying. Recreation? I don’t think studying falls under any form of recreation. I am not even going to go into “no work is done”.

These past 8 days were the worst. I suppose I can blame myself for not scheduling my study timetable properly at the start of the holidays but I prefer to blame it on the amount of tested syllabus. And when you find out that you are not going to even complete half of the required syllabus halfway through the third week, you know you are screwed. And so in these past 8 days, I have been trying to cram one and half years’ worth of content (across 4 subjects) into one week, adopting a completely different study strategy from my norm. And the drilling for the upgrading of the block of flats opposite mine definitely did not help. I have no idea how much I really internalized, and I am afraid to find out. Yeah, you can take a look at my study timetable for this week:
Study Timetable Straight from Hell
Such a schedule has definitely taken a heavy toll on me, both physically and mentally. Trying to stick to such a tight schedule is definitely highly stressful, and trying to absorb so much content pushes my mental power beyond its limits. And to keep to the schedule, my breakfast and lunch has been anything but healthy – 3 counts of breakfast at McDonalds, and almost instant noodles every other day. And the best part, I have no time for exercise – in fact, I had to give up my weekly morning ride with my cycling club to study Ionic Equilibria tomorrow morning.

But it’s getting late now, and I have got ionic equilibria waiting for me tomorrow morning. So, till next time,

This would be a more permanent home.

June 18, 2009

Alas, I think my server isn’t going to be revived any time soon. And I really feel like kicking myself for not keeping backups of my files on the server – now my entire archives (2 years worth of posts) are likely to be gone forever (I have asked my server admin to try to get me a backup of the files, but chances aren’t high). Hopefully, I would have another account on a new server, but meanwhile, this is going to be my new blog. Give me a few weeks to tidy up the stuff around here and start filling in the appropriate content – this is the middle of my exam preparation period after all.

Meanwhile, you can read my review of the WWDC Keynote [vid link] a while back. (Note: This was first posted as a note on Facebook, so the relative time is different.)

The much awaited WWDC 2009 keynote was presented by Phil Schiller (Senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing) about a day ago. It’s available as a Quicktime stream for now and should soon be available in the Apple Events Podcast Series. But for those that do not wish to spend 2 hours watching the presentation, here’s a rundown on what’s new at Apple.

Laptop Refreshes
The 13″ aluminum unibody MacBook has been promoted to MacBook Pro. Which kind of makes sense, since it looked really out of place under the MacBook line which are plastic-bodied. And now, the entire MacBook Pro line features an integrated battery just like the 17″ unibody MacBook Pro, which allows the battery to power the 15″ and 13″ laptops for 7 hours straight, up from the previous 5 hours. However, how the battery performs under real usage remains to be seen. And personally, I am no big fan of integrated batteries. Even though Apple claims that the integrated battery allows up to 1000 recharge cycles before it begins losing its charge, the inability to remove it means that it may begin losing its ability to hold charge before the 2 years (as claimed by Apple) if you constantly plug it to a power source when using it (such as when using it at home) as constantly charging a full battery would render it useless pretty soon (as I found out with my previous battery, and that’s the reason why I remove my battery when using my MBP at home). Another thing that bugs me with the MBP line refresh is that the base 15″ MBP no longer comes with a dedicated graphics card, which is quite ridiculous. Many users opt for the base 15″ MacBook Pro over a MacBook as it offers a dedicated graphics card, and removing it is not a good move. Of course, the dedicated card is still available in higher end configurations of the 15″ MBP, but really, it would be good to see it in the base configuration or even the newly promoted 13″ MBP. Other new hardware features include an SD card slot, replacing the ExpressCard slot in the previous 15″ MBPs, for both the 15″ and 13″ models. Smart move, considering that majority of the users don’t make use of the ExpressCard Slot, The 17″ model still comes with the ExpressCard slot so that Pro users can use it for high end audio extensions (as stated by Phil), but it sounds as though Apple was either too lazy or had no time to put the SD card slot in. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a product refresh with a SD card slot on the 17″ MBP soon as well (I am guessing it would accompany the ExpressCard, rather than replace it). And what lines refreshes are complete without a processor bump and a price drop? But the cool thing is that Apple decided to spread the joy to the MacBook Air as well, with price drops (rather drastic) and spec bumps. After the announcements today, I am thinking that it would be more practical to get a iMac/Mac Pro for work at home and a MacBook Air for mobile use, rather than just using a MacBook Pro.

Snow Leopard
This is one of the most anticipated part of the presentation – at least for me. The announcement of the next operating system in the Mac OS X series was done by Bertrand Serlet, the VP of Mac OS X team. I digress, but I find him very amusing, thanks to his heavy French accent and repeated jabs at the Windows Operating System. But anyway, the most significant updates in Snow Leopard are probably Grand Central Dispatch, Quicktime X, Safari 4, changes to the dock and Handwriting recognition for multi-touch trackpads.

Grand Central Dispatch
Such a grand sounding name (sorry for the pun) for something that is supposed to let the end user make full use of the multiple cores present in the processors. Nothing really interesting for the end user, though it means faster computing power if it is well implemented. But what’s more interesting to me is actually OpenCL, which is a programming framework that allows ordinary applications to tap into the raw processing power of graphics card. While probably not many applications would use OpenCL when Snow Leopard first launches, it could be a huge increase in processor efficiency once widely adopted (at least in concept).

Quicktime X
Quicktime X is the next version of Quicktime. The first thing end users would probably notice is actually the interface overhaul, from the metallic brush interface to a HUD like interface, with fade in/out controls and even title bars so that users could “focus on the content rather than the interface”. However, I am a little skeptical as to how the desktop would look like with a movie playing without a title bar. But beyond the interface revamp, they have apparently decided to let consumers access features that were previously only in the Pro version, such as trimming of clips etc. Some new features include integration with MobileMe and Youtube (making it a viable alternative to iMovie for quick and basic movie editing) and even HTTP streaming.

Safari 4
Safari 4 brings with it even better support for HTML 5 due to the updated Webkit version. But besides the change in the underpinning engines, it also features a few welcome changes for the end user. First of all, Top Sites. Top Sites allows you to easy access frequently visited sites from a beautiful panel – somewhat like Speed Dial in Opera, just a hell lot more gorgeous. As an added bonus, a blue star denotes that the site has been updated since the last visit. Next up, Full History Search and Cover Flow. With Safari 4, Cover Flow (Apple is really obsessed with this, and yet I don’t see it where it is needed most – iPhoto) is brought to Safari to make it easier to manage browsing history and favorites. However, I think that this is pretty much just eye candy, except the part where it integrates with Full History Search to provide a live preview of previously visited sites. Full History Search also allows you to search text within previously visited webpages, though I wonder if that would cause an excessively huge search cache. And of course, speed bumps thanks to the new JavaScript Nitro Engine. It is currently available, though it features an extra feature in Snow Leopard – plugin isolation to make it “crash-resistant”.

Changes to the Dock
2 major changes to the dock are in store. First of which is Expose integrated into the dock, which activates when the user presses and hold an application’s icon on the dock. I suppose this is Apple’s answer to Aero Peek in Windows 7. Definitely a welcome feature, and from the demo, it really smooth out daily workflows such as sending an attachment. The second change to the dock that is really nice is the ability for delve into subfolders in Stacks itself and scrolling support for folders with lots of files inside. Good thinking, Apple.

Hand Writing Recognition
Forget about using tablets to write Chinese characters. This can now be done with the mutli-touch trackpads included with the newer laptop models (one more reason for me to upgrade my laptop). And this is done with a nice HUD interface, very similar to the handwriting recognition interface on the iPhone.

All in all, Snow Leopard was actually kind of disappointing, compared to the amount of innovation and love that went into Leopard. It seems more like an extension to Leopard rather than a stand alone new operating system, and even Apple seems to be marketing it that way, with the low price for existing Leopard users to upgrade to the new OS. Contrast that with the upcoming Windows 7, which features lots of new innovative features from Redmond, Washington.

iPhone OS 3.0
This was actually announced way back in March, and a release date has been finally set – June 17th. In fact, a Golden Master build has already been released to developers (For the uninitiated, the commercial releases are often just clones of the GM Build). Nothing new really, pretty much just repeating what was said back in March. However, one feature wasn’t mentioned back in March (as far as I remember) is actually tethering, which allows your computer to share the iPhone’s 3G/GPRS/EDGE connection via either Bluetooth or the USB Cable, meaning that one can access the Internet pretty much anywhere with a cellular signal (with a hefty data usage bill unless you subscribe to a data plan). And Singtel is actually one of the carriers that would support the new feature upon 3.0’s release. Now is a really good time for me to get a proper data plan.

iPhone 3G S
I shall skim and save this section for another day. It’s getting late.

Anyway, I would be reviewing the Snow Leopard Beta Build and iPhone 3.0 (I would update when the jailbreak is available) soon, so watch out for that.

Till next time,