The Stochastic Game

Ramblings of General Geekery

Posts tagged with apple

Apple Headphones

The “Apple removing the headphone jack plug” story is warming up again.

The 2 best arguments against removing the jack plug in favor of a digital port, in my opinion, have been put forward by Patel and Streza in the previously linked articles:

  • Opportunities for audio DRM.
  • Necessity to move the DAC and amp into the headphones – which will most probably sound worse than before on average, or raise the price of headphones in general.

I can add one more that I haven’t seen yet:

  • A shared connector like Lightning or USB (as opposed to a port dedicated for headphones) means a connector that will change in a few years. Some of us buy expensive headphones that we expect to last for 10 or 20 years – well below the life expectancy of those digital ports.

The interesting thing though is that pro-removal people often make a weird logical leap. For instance, Gruber:

Should the analog headphone jack remain on our devices forever? If you think so, you can stop reading. If not, when?

He does his best to compare the jack plug to floppy disk drives, and how eventually it will all work out and Apple will once again be proven right in their forward thinking awesomeness… but the floppy disk drives weren’t replaced with a proprietary Apple device. They were replaced with USB sticks and downloads, all of which are superior in every way to floppy disks. It’s definitely not the case for the Lightning port – to quote OSNews' Thom Holwerda: “_as far as I can tell, there are only downsides_”.

The whole point isn’t whether the jack plug is up for grabs or not – it’s debatable whether it should be right now, but nothing is sacred in technology. The whole point is that the replacement needs to fulfill the basic requirements that we expect from something to use headphones with. The Lightning port fails so many of those requirements (“standard” being probably the most important one) that it’s a really bad and, yes, user-hostile choice.

It’s a great choice for Apple however. It grows their accessories revenue, strengthen their hold on their users, and generally speaking puts them even more in control. It’s such a great idea for Apple that I can actually totally see them doing it. A lot of people will complain, but pretty much everybody will put up with it, as the cost of switching is much higher than the cost of tagging along. And what does it matter if it splits the audio market in two because of the proprietary port? It’s not like Gruber and other Apple bloggers are very sensitive about life outside of the walled garden anyway.


Simple workaround for the iPad's smart cover's design flaws

I recently got an iPad (more on this later), and with it I got the much hyped smart cover.

IMG_4353.jpg

I loved the simplicity of it, and how quickly you can take it off and put it back on again… However, I quickly realized that I probably had more dust on the screen while using that thing than if I didn’t have any cover at all. Among the problems I had the infamous “dust lines” – those three lines you get on the screen at exactly the same spot as the cover’s folds.

The problem was pretty obvious: the natural way to fold the cover, and the way Apple advertises it, is as follows:

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But this results in the following situation:

IMG_4354.jpg

The iPad rests on the folded cover as expected, but the outer faces of that triangular stand are the faces that go against the screen when the cover is closed! They would therefore pick up dust and other particle directly from the table and all around, and put them back onto your screen as soon as you walk away… I don’t know where Steve Jobs used to go with his iPad, but my house is not always spotless clean, and neither are any restaurant tables or office desks that I want to put my iPad on.

An easy workaround for this problem is to fold the cover the other way:

IMG_4355.jpg

This way, the faces that go against the screen are actually inside the triangular stand, where they’re very unlikely to pick up any dust. This way of folding is a lot less intuitive, but once you get the hang of it, you can actually close and open it as fast as before. I haven’t had much dust on my screen ever since I started using this technique.

There’s just one big caveat to this workaround: it doesn’t work with the “stand up” mode.

IMG_4358.jpg

If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll notice what’s wrong: gravity alone can unfold the cover and make your iPad fall down on the table. In my case, the magnetic strength of the cover is barely enough to counteract the iPad’s weight and make it stand on its own, but the slightest touch can make it crumble down like a house of a couple of very expensive cards. However, I don’t care because I’ve never felt the need to use that position so far.


Some similarities between Apple and Steve Jackson Games

Apple is company whose boss is a guy named Steve who is, by reputation, quite charismatic but also a real asshole when it comes to working with him and using his intellectual property. Their main product gives them only a small fraction of the market, and its core of devoted fans can be loyal up to a rather fanatical point. This product is always set against the more popular product, which is seen as outdated, inferior, over-marketed, and riddled with product updates that break compatibility with silly new features. Flamewars about which product is better are frequent. Apple’s product supposedly covers everything you may need, although fans still usually spend large amounts of money to get add-ons and accessories. However, the other product is still the dominant one by far, and most beginners start with it. Ironically, Apple’s most successful product is a small and fun “side” product. It has seen several iterations and lots of additional products are available.

Steve Jackson Games is company whose boss is a guy named Steve who is, by reputation, quite charismatic but also a real asshole when it comes to working with him and using his intellectual property. Their main product gives them only a small fraction of the market, and its core of devoted fans can be loyal up to a rather fanatical point. This product is always set against the more popular product, which is seen as outdated, inferior, over-marketed, and riddled with product updates that break compatibility with silly new features. Flamewars about which product is better are frequent. Steve Jackson Games’ product supposedly covers everything you may need, although fans still usually spend large amounts of money to get add-ons and accessories. However, the other product is still the dominant one by far, and most beginners start with it. Ironically, Steve Jackson Games’ most successful product is a small and fun “side” product. It has seen several iterations and lots of additional products are available.