Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The ultimate Apple I/O death chart →

[…] You can see that all of the heralded “Apple kills X” products like the iMac really just set the stage for Apple to slowly transition various tech out of its lineup. So while the iMac killed ADB, SCSI, and the floppy drive, Apple still shipped all those things in various other (mostly pro) machines for another couple years, because it had lots of customers who wanted those things. That gave the market for USB devices time to mature — creating temptation for those same pro customers to upgrade to newer machines that could take better advantage of all those USB devices.

Nilay Patel (author of the controversial “Taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid“) came up with a chart of I/O things Apple obsoleted over time. The “death chart” is quite interesting. As he observes, most I/O standards last about 15 years. If we put this together with other things Apple “killed” over time (like Flash*, which is worth mentioning), it should offer a perspective of the company’s vision of the future.

Moreover John Gruber mentions the Ethernet port is missing from that chart. Both Macbook Air & Pros lacked Ethernet for awhile now. Macbook laptops’ battery life is one of the best I’ve seen in laptops, so having a truly portable, cable-free laptop that can last for a whole day is a great achievement.

The more I think about it, the more I realize the trend isn’t just toward eliminating ports on devices — it’s about reducing the number of cables you use.

John Gruber

Read Gruber’s comments here: http://daringfireball.net/linked/2016/06/29/patel-io-death-chart

However, I do agree that if you replace something, you need to come up with something better. Time will tell if killing the headphone jack outgrew its convenience and ubiquity. Let’s give it a few years, shall we? After all, they haven’t killed it yet.

*Steve Jobs dismissed Adobe’s solution in his piece “Thoughts on Flash”. He called out Flash for being a major battery drainer on mobile devices, as well as its reliability and security. As it turns out, he was right. It’s 2016 and everyone hates Flash. If we think of laptops as mobile devices too, it’s easy to see why with macOS Sierra, Flash will be disabled by default.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

A Perl toolchain for building microservices at scale

The guys at Semantics3 explain how they came with a workflow that was tuned for micro-services and capable of scaling up with the team. Here are the problems they needed to address:

  1. Each code artifact (a library, script or service) should be owned by one engineer. It should do one thing and one thing only (Unix philosophy).
  2. Each code artifact must be checked in to its own VCS repository and must have tagged releases with semantic versioning.
  3. The experience of authoring a code artifact must be both seamless for an individual developer and uniform across the team with tooling present to take care of scaffolding boilerplate code, identifying dependencies, packaging, testing and releasing. The tooling available should enable a single engineer to own multiple code artifacts easily.
  4. Private libraries that we write must be installable from services in exactly the same way that third-party libraries are.
  5. Each code artifact must declare its dependencies (code and environment) explicitly i.e. clean contracts. Ideally, any developer must be able to run any script/service on their development environment easily.
  6. An engineer’s development environment must be as isolated as possible so that we don’t step on each others’ toes.

Why Perl?

Comprehensive article explaining why Perl (a question I’ve received a few times myself as well) and how they managed to resolve their issues using Pinto, Minilla, Carton, Perlbrew, Github and Mojolicious. In my job I use Plenv instead of Perlbrew, however they address the same problem. One thing I came to realise over the last year is Perl is a lot more present and capable than many think it is. Look at many solutions hosting providers offer, for instance, cPanel. That is Perl. Moreover, glad to see Mojolicious making the cut, as that is my go-to framework now. And I like it so much that I’ve decided to write a Beginner’s Guide for it. More on that soon.

Monday, 20 June 2016

iOS 10 Photos App

Behind Apple’s Advanced Computer Vision for Photos App→

Photos app recognises and distinguishes the following 7 facial expressions. Expressions are distinguished after forming a “faceprint”. These distinction are used for searching. They are also rated and indexed for generation Memories and montages.

Greedy, Disgust, Neutral, Scream, Smiling, Surprise, Suspicious

Photos app will generate Moments that falls within the following 33 categories. Default name of the moment will be automatically generated using metadata from the photos and tags from analysis of photos.

Memories from areas of interest, Best of past memories, Memories that break out of routine, Celebration in history, Contextual memories, Crowd, Day in history, Holiday in history, Location of interest, Nearby, New contextual memories, New memories, Person’s Birthdays, Person’s memories, Recent events (calendar, crowd, holiday, people, person, social, trip, weekend), Region of interest, Social group memories, Sometime memories, Special memories, Favourited, Trips, Week in history, Weekend, Year summary, Last week, Last Weekend

Kay Yin

I’m impressed to see what the Photos app is able to generate and distinguish, only computing data locally. The Photos app is also pretty accurate when recognising faces and objects. This compliments nicely the memories it is able to put together in nicely theme-matched videos. In addition to the above, Kay also provides a complete list of things the Photos app can be queried for as well as the categories to which they belong to. This list will continue to grow over time and it could easily be part of OTA updates. As Craig Federighi said in John Gruber’s The Talk Show (53:40)

There is this idea that if you don’t have the data, how would you ever learn? As it turns out, if you wanna get pictures of mountains, you don’t need to get it out of people’s personal photo libraries.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

First impressions of the new Apple TV

First impressions of the new Apple TV 4 after I played with it for 2 hours

I really wanted to give the new Apple TV 4 a test drive and for those who didn’t have a chance to play with it, here are my impressions after fanboying about it for awhile and spending two hours in an Apple Store playing with it.

Overall

The new Apple TV 4 is a great piece of hardware, a lot smaller than I imagined it to be, although I know it’s thicker than the older generations. Siri is great and really capable, except when it’s not. The true potential on this new device is the Siri universal search and the apps and I can see how this can and will become a great asset to go along your TV.

Siri

I put Siri through a lot of stress tests. I asked her many many questions and I came to the conclusion that movies and TV shows/series wise, it does about 70% of what you’d expect it to do. But it still isn’t what you want it to be. Examples: I asked Siri to Show me movies with Kristen Bell. It was successful. First movie that showed up was Frozen. Really loved Frozen, but there were a few animated movies in that list so I decided to get rid of them. Not the animated ones – well here is were basic logic falls apart. Instead of filtering and showing me just live action movies, Siri showed me JUST the animated ones. There were also multiple instances when I said Just the action movies or Just the highest rated ones and she understood Does the action movies and Does the highest rated but I will blame my accent and the loud noise in the store for that. Another example is while looking at a TV Series card like Mr. Robot I asked Who stars in this. To my surprise it came with with I don’t have this information right now, although if I swiped down a bit I could see the cast. Or asking for Sci-Fi TV series (with Sense8 or Orphan Black in mind) got me the same I don’t have this information right now. Specifically asking for Sense8 got me I want to watch sensate which again failed so I had to pause between sense and specifically say eight for it to catch it and show me Sense8. Asking for Movies with Meryl Streep worked fine, but I wanted to see the highest rated ones. That again got me I don’t have ratings for these movies or something similar along the lines.

On another hand Siri is pretty good at getting you at the right episode with a particular actor. The Apple employee demoed a few like Show me the Friends episode with Danny DeVito and it worked like magic. Or Show me BBC Sherlock which is on Netflix and it opened the Netflix app at the right screen for me to start playing it. It is also pretty good when you ask for movies in which star multiple actors Show me movies with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway correctly showed me The Devil Wears Prada.

So great potential, really enjoyed trying lots of things with Siri, but still lacks context at times. Also wish it was able to perform searches on Apple Music. But that’s coming. The Apple employee also mentioned that they will also introduce a feature to ask “Who is that?” while a movie is playing and Siri will be able to tell who the actor is, but as all Apple fanboys know this is not confirmed or even not even a rumor and we might not see this until maybe next year with tvOS 2. It might also have been to convince some people to buy it, or just his personal opinion. I wouldn’t take this as a certain thing that will happen.

Apps

Well, there were just 16 apps or so to play with and I tried them all. I couldn’t download more from the App Store as it said it was a Demo Unit. I love to cook and travel so the AirBnB and Kitchen Stories look amazing on TV. Craftsy looked like a nice thing to do in your weekend as a family activity and for those who are nerds and geeks (maybe like me) and love comic books Madefire is absolutely stunning. Reading comic books like that is a fantastic experience. Beat Sports didn’t quite catch me, but this guy says it’s great fun.

But what really stressed me out was how unintuitive was to input my email and password on the Netflix app by just using the remote. Awful! I really hope they will update the remote app to support typing in using the iPhone because I can see how this can cause a lot of stress.

Another interesting point is I am surprised how many apps are already available for the Apple TV, given it’s only been a week since they launched it. But the frustration comes when you’re searching for them or when you want to discover new apps. The App Store looks nice, but it lacks categories, and searching for apps that you don’t know exists is actually frustrating. I know this has been mentioned before though. Maybe with more apps coming up they will introduce categories too and hopefully Siri App Store search.

First impressions of the new Apple TV's user interface
User interface is stunning, but can be improved | Source: apple.com

UI

I really love the UI, and the nice effect you get when you hover over app icons. It’s not just a nice touch, it’s mesmerizing and fun. It’s parallax and it shines and it’s very satisfactory to feel it at your fingertips. The screens for showing movies info and the cards are also very nice. Transitions are nice too.

But sometimes you wish it supported 4K and the movies info cards were better. For instance I was looking at movies with Meryl Streep and decided to check out the August: Osage County and the Sandra Bullock in the back was so pixelated. I was standing fairly close to the TV, but it wasn’t that, it just looked like a very compressed JPG image. And I think that’s a bit unacceptable. The App Store had app cards but unlike on the iPhone and iPad some rows you could see you can swipe to see more, but some didn’t. So I had to guess I am able to swipe on that row to get more of the same Apps. So a bit of inconsistency there.

Overall, really liked the UI though.

Siri remote and extra controllers

Siri Remote
The Siri Remote is nice, but not the only thing you need | Source: apple.com

The small Siri Remote is great, small and comfortable, but it takes a little getting used to it and I was a bit afraid it would slip. Shadowmatic is a lots of fun, once you get how to play with it and rotate things using the edge of the remote. I think most of you know, but maximum number of devices you can pair with the Apple TV is 3. First is the Siri Remote, and 2 extra devices, either iPhones or any MFi controller. Playing Asphalt 8 was pretty nice with the remote, but the when I tried Breakneck I felt the remote was either not calibrated or the app not properly optimized. WAY TOO sensitive when it shouldn’t be and a lot of late input when it should have been quick. I hope it’s not the sensors in the remote though.

Once you get used to the fact that the MENU button also acts as back button and the TV button is like a Home Button on the iPhone, but for the TV, the whole interface is quite easy.

Personally I think it’s a very nice toy to play with, but given that I barely watch TV and I only have a Netflix subscription, I wouldn’t get it for myself, at least not at its current state, and not for £129/$169. Perhaps with time, the apps will increase its worthiness as a casual games console. Also I just wanted to point out that I am by no means an expert or a reviewer whatsoever, just an Apple fanboy with great expectations and a pretty tech savvy person. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Free Student Software while you're a student

20+ paid products you can get FREE right NOW if you’re a student

Get these free student software or services while you’re still in uni! Over 20 products, applications or services just because you are a student!

Being a student comes with a lot of responsibilities and deadlines, you have to study and go through projects and exams periodically, not to mention the price you have to pay for the university. But I was very excited to find out that there are deals and offers for students out there and if you look for them, you can find some really good deals of free student software. I want to share these 20+ premium products you can get for free right now if you are a student. I am saying more than 20 because some of the products are really a pack with many more products and they are great free student software.

Office365Logo
Office365Logo

Microsoft Office 365 Subscription

Up until a few months ago, this offer was only available to students in the USA, but Microsoft has expanded the offer to more countries, and that includes the UK. The subscription gives you access to the entire suite of online applications, desktop applications and their mobile versions. This has proved really beneficial when working on a portable device and then picking up where I left the document on my laptop.

If you want to see if you’re eligible access this link:
http://products.office.com/en-GB/student/office-in-education

GitHub Education Pack
GitHub Education Pack

GitHub Education Pack (with over 14 products and services included FOR FREE)

I am sure most of you have heard of GitHub, but for those of you who haven’t, GitHub is a Version Control System, which if you code, is probably one of the best things that exists when managing different versions or deployments of your code/software etc. It even helps when more people contribute to the project because it stores every iteration of your code so if you do something wrong you can always go back. That is why it is a version control system (or better yet a revision control system). Anyway, they have put together this amazing pack which includes a lot of goodies:

  • Free GitHub Micro account (which allows 5 private repositories)
  • Free .me domain and hosting for a year from Namecheap
  • Increased number of emails to use for free with Sendgrid (email marketing service like Mailchimp)
  • $25 credit to use for seeking help with coding questions from professionals on
  • Free bitnami Business 3 account to store your cloud applications (usually $49/month)
  • Access to CrowdFlower platform for crowdsourcing (usually $2500/month)
  • No transaction fees on the first $1000 when using Stripe
  • Access to Unreal Engine while you’re a student
  • Much much more

If you want to signup for the pack you can do so here: https://education.github.com/

Autodesk Apps Suite

If you are into graphics, an architect, a game designer or just interested in how to create models, you must have heard about AutoCAD, 3Dsmax or Maya. And you probably also know how expensive they are. Well you guessed it, Autodesk gives these all free to students and a lot more.

http://www.autodesk.com/campaigns/edumicrosite

Do you know more products that are available for free for students? Let me know to include them here!