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Communications 107 years ago – atoms not electrons

We found an old postcard sent from a friend to an ancestor at 9:30am on 22nd April 1910 – 107 years ago today. It depicts a football match between Scotland and England played twenty days earlier at Hampden Park, Glasgow. The score was 2-0 to Scotland, yes we used to play and win football matches against the ‘auld enemy’! The attendance was 106,206 which raised £4,427 in gate money, but this is not what’s cool.

The sender was informing the addressee that they would pay them a visit the next day. Imagine back in the toddler stage of 20th century Britain when Internet or mobiles did not exist and the telephone was new fangled and rare. The only form of communication possible was handwritten postcard, taken to the nearest Post Office, payed with a half penny stamp then dropped into the clutches of the state’s postal service to deliver on time.

One hundred and seven years later I doubt that same postcard would reach its destination in time with the same confidence. However we can communicate over telephone, mobile phone, email, text message. Heck you can summon the muscles of Apple et al to hold a live two-way video call wherever you are right now…cool!

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Hold still, until my iphone reboots

Ever the photographer I’m keen to capture family events big and small, I ask my youngest child to stop hugging his mum goodbye and stand in front of his departing ski bus. A few friends join the line-up as other parents whip out their smartphones and get their shot. I can’t.

I  ask the kids to wait a second as I fumble with my iPhone 5S. I get taunted “Come on dad, hurry-up”, but I can’t.

“My phone is re-booting”

Not since having an HTC Tyan Window Mobile 6.5 phone reboot mid-call have I ever tasted such a halting bitter technology fail. And there is more.

On Sunday I was listening to music on my iPhone, it was a half-hour into Penthouse and Pavement (Heaven 17) when the music and screen died. Jabbing the on/off and home buttons did nothing, then the white bitten apple appeared. Another reboot.

The cause is the hidden system Springboard or application launcher within iOS7 which is failing and what you see is the blank screen for 20-30 seconds as springboard reboots or worse a longer device reboot. My fail rate is 2-3 reboots per week on iPhone and 1-2 on an old iPad 3 and has worn me down from anger to tolerant friction. In December while going through photographs springboard bailed. Blank screen. Anger. Immediate 2m walk from Starbucks to Genius Bar across the street. I knew this was just flaky iOS7 software, the genius did too, but he was so irritating using that Genius-speak. The sort of language that cannot acknowledge:

  1. Our product or service has a fault.
  2. The fault is out with specification.
  3. Our bad, sorry.

After testing he declared “this is normal”

“Aye right” was my reply.

Since iOS 7 launched many have suffered and the fix is coming in 7.1 (currently in beta testing). Despite my iPhone wanting and getting the China only (!) iOS 7.0.5 patch, problems continue. What is unacceptable is the length of time Apple has left Customers with such a severe and highly visible bug.

What made me write this was opening up iMovie (latest desktop version) to create a short portrait of someone only to discover it can no-longer split media clips (10m+ video clips) since the last update.  Back to Adobe Creative Cloud.

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“This is unacceptable”

Most things have limits. Speed limits on roads, how often a razor blade is used, the expiry date of fresh fruit.

In an earlier life as a young Engineer in ’91, I noticed how different management styles affected the behaviour of staff. One of my favourites was Randy Ziffer. A spirited young Director of Manufacturing at Sun Microsystems’s only non-US plant in Linlithgow, Scotland.  I recall one troublesome period when SparcStations we were making were being rejected by a Japanese OEM for cosmetic reasons. While Engineers asked Operators to use the detailed visual Specifications and Managers to read it, rejects continued.

It became a hairball of finger-pointing and Specification bashing until Randy heard the noise.

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