Apple – Let the Pain Begin!

After yet another flurry of untested and buggy software releases in the form of iOS and Yosemite, Apple was no longer concerned about the less than 50% adoption rate of iOS 8 at yet another boring event with lame jokes. They appeared to ignore the fact that even the close to 50% adoption rate for iOS 8 was primarily driven by the new iPhones.

The entire ecosystem that made Apple what it was while Steve Jobs was around is steadily crumbling. Personally, I think Apple made too much money to be bothered about quality, user experience or the identity the company had under Jobs.

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Public Beta of Yosemite is available now!

All those who signed up for the public beta can log in to the beta site and download OS X Yosemite now. The download is around 5.07 GB and seems to be newer than the earlier developer preview.

For people interested in checking out and participating in the public beta of Mac OS X Yosemite, you can sign up for it on the OS X Beta Program Site.

Only the first one million sign ups will be accepted. So, hurry up if interested!

EzeeCube – Great add-on for photos and videos

EzeeCube seems to be a must have for most homes today.

We all have tons of digital photos and videos from our phones that really need to be organised and sorted out. This stackable, and therefore extendable gadget does it all.

No need for any Internet connection. It’s all locally done, right in the comfort of your home network at blazing speeds unlike the relatively slow Internet speeds.

Check out the IndieGoGo page where this gizmo has already been over-subscribed.

There is also a very nice video and a writeup from EnGadget which is worth looking into.

I hope to get my hands on one of these sometime soon…

iTunes U 2.0 with custom classroom support released

Apple released iTunes U 2.0 with support for creating and sharing courses a few hours ago. Although it is too early to figure out the actual impact and overall usage and adoption given the high price of Apple devices, it does look promising.

To create a course, you need to have an iPad and have to register with an Institute name and profile, which, can be edited later. I guess details will emerge as and when people start using it.

A brief description from the application is as follows:

  • The new iTunes U makes it simple for students participating in private courses to pose questions on the course or any post or assignment
  • Other students in the class can jump into the discussion and ask more questions or provide answers
  • Teachers and students can keep up with the conversation when they receive push notifications as the discussion progresses

Create courses on iPad

  • Teachers can now create and update their courses using the iTunes U app on their iPad—getting started is fast, simple, and completely free
  • Provide every student a course outline, write posts, distribute assignments, upload class materials, easily track participating students, and much more
  • Take advantage of the built in camera on iPad to easily capture photos or videos and upload them for course assignments
  • Create materials using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote—or other apps from the App Store—and add them to your course by using “Open in iTunes U” from within each app
  • Teachers affiliated with qualified institutions have the option to publish their courses to the iTunes U Catalog—making them available to everyone for free

 

iOS 7.1.2 and Mavericks 10.9.4 Released – A preliminary look!

Apple released iOS 7.1.2 and Mavericks 10.9.4 a few hours ago. Once again, at least the iOS update appears to be untried and untested. There is also an update for Apple TV, 6.2, although I did not see anything new or different in the brief look I had after the update.

Those attempting to update iOS using iTunes might be out of luck as the update might get stuck after a while. The OTA update seems to work fine on a few devices that I tried.

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WWDC 2014 – iOS 8, OS X 10.10 – Apple opens up iOS a bit more!

Well…Not a very exciting event from Apple, but, there are some points that could stretch Apple’s lead in the mobile and desktop market to some extent.

  1. Apple has opened out more APIs on the iOS side allowing app functionality, officially, that was previously available only on jailbroken devices. Given the wide developer base, we could see some exciting apps coming up in the near future. iOS 8 Enterprise features have also been enhanced and could spur wider enterprise adoption.
  2. The introduction of a new programming language, Swift, which could accelerate the development on iOS and OS X platforms far more than ever before.
  3. The integration and extension of the functionality of the 10+ year old Nokia PC Suite into Yosemite is a welcome addition. Most people using iOS devices would probably understand that this could be quite useful on occasion. This page has details.

A word of caution for early adopters. Do not attempt to try iOS 8 just as yet on your primary phone. Most of the current applications will not work as expected and a vast majority would simply crash, including the stock apps. Yosemite, although usable, is quite laggy and slow, which is to be expected from a developer preview. The same applies to Xcode 6 beta.

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Setting up a new iPhone/iPad? A brief How-To…

Back in 2010, I had listed out some of the apps I was using and recommended the same. A lot has evolved since. It’s not just the apps, its also the devices that have changed giving rise to better and more powerful apps. I will try to cover the basic setup options for a new iDevice running iOS 7. iOS is currently at version 7.1.1 and, ideally, one should upgrade to this version, if not already on it.

I will focus on the iPhone here since that is the most commonly used iDevice. Most of the following also applies to the iPad. You can find tutorials for the iDevices on Apple’s site as well as YouTube, if needed.

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Windows Phone 8 GDR3 Update!

Now that I have my Nokia Lumia 822 in working condition, I was waiting for the official GDR3 update. It seems that Verizon will probably take quite some time to approve GDR3 before I can officially update to the same. For people like me, want to update now, there is an alternate way.

I managed to update to GDR3 thanks to this post. It did take a couple of hours to figure out a bug on the Microsoft site related to my ID and then update. The Microsoft site kept showing an email ID that does not exist anymore and was not in my profile. I finally found that it was the first one in my own contact. Even after removing the same, resetting the account, the bug was persistent. I gave up trying to fix it after a while and went ahead with the update.

The update download was flawless. Then it started preparing for installation. The progress went up to 99%, rolled back to 95% and then finally went to 100% and was stuck there for some time. This time around, the “clueless” update did go through and I finally landed up with a working update.

GDR3 now asks for connections before prompting for the Microsoft Account ID. YouTube videos also play, but, the free app opens videos in the browser. The contacts and calendar sync on adding the Microsoft ID now. Still need to find a way to get my current contacts into the Microsoft ID account. The UI/UX remains as pathetic and unusable as earlier.

In case you change any language, or add a keyboard, the phone will require a re-boot and will insist on migrating your data for 5-10 minutes every time.

Just to be on the safe side, I reset the phone right after the update to make sure it was still functional. To get updates for the stock applications (and betas), you would need to install a 3rd party application which would check for the stock application updates.

External Drive Issues after installing OS X Mavericks?

HDD

When this first happened to one of my external backup drives, I was at a loss. The drive would not show up in Finder, but, I could see it in the “Disk Utility”. Attempting to repair the disk from Disk Utility, resulted in the message above.

Naturally, I Googled around and found that this was a very common issue and quite a few people had posted similar issues on Apple and other forums. Mostly people put it down to WD hard drives and some had even written to WD about the same.

After some experimenting, I found the solution to be surprisingly simple and pointed to yet another bug in Mavericks.

I tried this on different external drives of different capacities by simply pulling out the USB without ejecting the drive. Sure enough, I got the same issue and message after running disk utility on almost all occasions.

The solution, for me, was quite simple. Let the “Disk Utility” try and repair the drive and come up with the message shown above. Then remove the drive and plug it back in and it will work. Just run repair on it again to make sure that all is as expected.

Keep in mind that it might take around 2-10 minutes for the drive to show up in “Disk Utility” for the first time and it will not auto-mount and show up in Finder. Keep the “Disk Utility” running. After that, it’s simple. Run repair. Ignore the error. Re-plug the drive and run repair again.

I have tried this on 3 WD and 2 Seagate drives with HFS and ExFAT, all work. Hopefully it would work for some others who have similar issues.