SAEM S7: I found my ideal iPhone 5s case

SAEM S7 iPhone case The best case I found for my iPhone 4 was a simple snap case design from Incase. It had that soft rubberised plastic and left the top and the bottom of the phone almost completely exposed, which looked really nice. While I like to use a case, I don’t like it to be particularly bulky.

When I bought my 5s I just went for Apple’s own case, which I do like a lot. However it’s tricky to take out, which I do fairly often.

Later I saw the ‘Incase Pro Snap Case’ for the 5s and bought one, only to be very disappointed. It feels very cheap, with sharp edges and for some reason it has a larger than necessary hole for the camera. I think they designed it that way to show off the detail which judgmental strangers will be looking for that proves you’re not some schlub using last year’s model. I just think it looks ugly. The worst aspect of this new case though is that the top creeps further up the back, meaning you have to hook your finger over the case to hit the power button. Yeah I know, #firstworldproblems, but it annoyed me enough that I went back to the Apple case.

The SAEM S7 iPhone 5/5s case

Today I found this rather snazzy case made by SAEM:

Yup, it has a small 8GB USB memory card in the back. I’m honestly not entirely sure what I want to use that for, but it’s cool nonetheless. That in itself is a novelty that I could have passed up, but at £20 this case doesn’t cost any more than the other extortinate cases without a USB drive! (Having said that, they seem to have a SRP of £35 on the manufacturer’s site, and I spotted them for even more on Amazon.)

Mostly though I’m happy that I’ve found a case that looks as nice as the old Incase thing I liked so much. Of course, I’ve only had this on my phone for a matter of hours so it may fall apart, scratch the phone, set my flat on fire or something over time, but my initial impressions are very positive.

If you happen to be in Brighton, you can get this case from Zoingimage for £20. They had them in black and white and for the 4/4s and 5/5s iPhone models.

The apps that Apple really does not want you to use

The Telegraph’s Richard Gray has compiled a list of ten apps that Apple does not want you to use. In my view, half of these apps are dumb gimmicks that any curated app store wouldn’t want: A game where you throw your phone as high as you can; titillation apps featuring ‘interactive’ girls in bikinis; an app that did literally nothing except cost $1,000.

However, some of the other rejected apps represent far more serious acts of censorship and monopolistic behaviour on the part of Apple, like the Wikileaks app that let users read the Iraq war logs, or Scratch, an MIT project to help teach children programming. I thought it would be worthwhile to compile a more serious list of apps banned by Apple.

Sweatshop HD

These are the apps that Apple really does not want you to use →

Minimalistic iPhone 5 wallpapers

I was asked on Twitter today if I would mind updating my minimal iPhone 4 wallpapers to the new iPhone 5 size. It turns out that I would not mind at all, so here they are:

Read the fun CC licence!

Fixing film and TV distribution

Guy English has some suggestions for Apple. If Apple aren’t working on fixing film and TV distribution, I hope someone else is working to make this vision a reality:

[…] If I watched the first season of Community via Netflix streaming and now want to rewatch it on my TV as fed from an Apple TV? Make it work. I don’t care how. If you want to pop up a dialog thats asks if you’ll charge me $4.99 to $9.99 for the privilege, I’d pay. Let me pick what I want to watch, regardless of the source, and let me watch it. I have very little allegiance to the network that funded the show — I want the content. Figure out how to make that work.

If you can’t figure out how to make that direct connection to the creatives then you’ll always be stuck with a middleman that doesn’t have to be there. If there’s a syndication avenue you can explore then do so.

Fans want to watch their shows. They’ll pay to make that happen. Everything else is mired in entrenched interests. Find a way to make that happen and we’ll all agree that Firefly jumped the shark during its seventh season.

Films and TV shows need to be apps and websites, primarily. I’m never going to buy another cable package and pay for hundreds of channels I don’t care about to get the few shows I want, with adverts, weeks or months after they have already been broadcast elsewhere.

I just want to watch my show.

Taiwanese animated news NMAtv report on Monmouthpedia

The Monmouthpedia project has been getting a lot of coverage lately, but you know they’ve made it when Next Media Animation feature them:

Monmouth is now a “Wikipedia town,” which means it’s riddled with QR codes that bring information to smartphone users with the click of a button. Monmouth, birthplace of King Henry V, is the first town to play host to project, hence the title, “Monmouthpedia.”

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said he was excited about the project. “Bringing a whole town to life on Wikipedia is something new and is a testament to the forward-thinking people of Monmouth,” raved Wales.

The QR codes are printed on long-lasting plaques to ensure they’ll be around for a while. Wikipedia will be using QRpedia, a mobile Web based system that uses QR codes to deliver Wikipedia articles to users. As articles can be instantly edited and updated, some believe this will be a good replacement for tour guides and maps.

Previously on Halfblog.net

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Welcome to Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers by Tom Scott:

If you liked this, you may also enjoy two novels that provided inspiration for it: Jim Monroe’s Everyone in Silico, where I first found the idea of a corporate-sponsored afterlife; Rudy Rucker’s trippy Postsingular, which introduced me to the horrifying idea of consciousness slums.

Lawyers and marketers, I’d say. I can totally see this happening.

Apple insecurity questions

Apple has been prompting me to add some additional security to my account for a while now, and I’ve actually put off some purchases simply to avoid answering these questions…

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The Russians used a pencil

Fisher AG-7 Space Pen

Fisher AG-7 Space Pen

“In the 1960′s NASA spent many years and millions of taxpayer dollars developing a special ‘space pen’ that uses nitrogen-pressurized ink cartridges to work in zero gravity, in a vacuum and at extreme temperatures ranging from -50 F to +400 F.

“The Russians used a pencil.”

This story keeps cropping up as an example of bureaucratic waste, or specifically as an example of what a colossal waste of money the space programme has been. It has been circulating the internet as fact since the mid ’90s, and even fictional White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry made the claim in a 2002 episode of the West Wing.

This Million Dollar Space Pen story is a pure fabrication however. The space pen was developed not by NASA, but by businessman Paul C. Fisher. It was only adopted by NASA after years of testing and the costs of developing the pen were never passed on to the US government. Furthermore, detritus from wooden pencils presented a potential hazard in microgravity, and Soviet Union would later adopt the Fisher space pen also. Continue reading

QArt codes

By now everybody knows that it is possible to slap a logo in the middle of a QR code and — provided enough redundant data remains — the result will still be readable.

It seems it is also possible to engineer the encoded values to create a picture across the entire QR code. This technique not only produces a highly distinctive code image, it also produces completely legitimate codes.

Russ Cox calls these QArt codes, and has developed a web tool for producing them: QArt Coder. All the source code is hosted at code.google.com/p/rsc/source/browse/qr.

Retraction

This American Life are this week dedicating an entire episode to retracting their earlier episode “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” (an episode that became the most popular podcast in their history).

Ira writes:

I have difficult news. We’ve learned that Mike Daisey’s story about Apple in China – which we broadcast in January – contained significant fabrications. We’re retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth. This is not a story we commissioned. It was an excerpt of Mike Daisey’s acclaimed one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which he talks about visiting a factory in China that makes iPhones and other Apple products.

Mike Daisey has employed the ‘I’m not a journalist‘ defence: “My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had it on your show as journalism, and it’s not journalism. It’s theater.”

The blame really does lie with the journalistic entity though, and in dedicating literally a whole episode of This American Life to apologising for and explaining their mistake, they will surely not lose, but gain trust and respect. Continue reading

MPlayerX: A superior alternative to VLC for Mac users

The best thing about the poor VLC 2.0 is that I’ve discovered the much nicer MPlayerX (free in the Mac App Store).

MPlayerX logo Like VLC, MPlayerX is open source and plays a large variety of file formats, but unlike VLC it looks like it belongs on a Mac. In fact, it looks and behaves a lot like QuickTime. I especially like that all the chrome fades out when your mouse is off the window, leaving just the video.

There are other features that I didn’t realise I was missing out on. For example, it remembers where you are in a video when you close the app so you don’t have to go searching for your place next time you start it up. Also, if you are watching a series that is logically named, it will automatically start playing the next episode for you. You can turn that off, but it’s a feature I appreciate. So far, my only annoyance has been the limitation that you can only resize the player from the bottom-right corner. Still, at least it respects the media’s aspect ratio — something VLC can’t do any more!

MPlayerX screenshot

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Solar updraft tower

Arizona should be getting some of these sci-fi eco monsters in 2015.

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Solar updraft towers combine three technologies to produce power: the greenhouse effect, the chimney effect and wind turbine. Sunshine heats the canopy at the base of the tall chimney causing air to flow upwards towards the turbines at the base which then convert that flow into electricity. The solar tower requires low maintenance, no feed stock (uranium, coal etc.) and emits no pollution.

(via Arizona getting colossal solar updraft tower in 2015 – digitaltrends.com)

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Physibles: Data objects for 3D printing.

We believe that the next step in copying will be made from digital form into physical form. It will be physical objects. Or as we decided to call them: Physibles. Data objects that are able (and feasible) to become physical. We believe that things like three dimensional printers, scanners and such are just the first step. We believe that in the nearby future you will print your spare sparts for your vehicles. You will download your sneakers within 20 years.

(via thepiratebay.org)

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Superstitious users and the FreeBSD logo

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Beastie the BSD daemonAn amusing story from the FreeBSD mailing list:

Everyone:

I just got a call from the owner of a hotel for which we provide hotspot service. She says that a guest spotted the “Powered by FreeBSD” logo at the bottom of the login page, and was offended; the guest was convinced that either we or the hotel management “worshipped the Devil” and refused to stay at the hotel unless the logo was removed. The owner could make no headway by explaining that the besneakered mascot was a cartoon character and was a daemon, not the Devil. And she feared upsetting the guest even more if she said that large portions of the same software are inside every Mac and iPad. The hotel stands to lose more than $1000 if the guest, who had originally planned to stay for a long period, moves out.

One of our tech support people also got a call directly from the hotel guest, who claimed that having the logo on the page constituted “abuse.” The guest also claimed to be “losing money” because she wouldn’t use the hotspot if there was a “devil” on the splash page. He didn’t even realize what she was talking about at first…. He couldn’t imagine why on Earth this person was calling him and going on about devils.

Attempts at misguided religious censorship notwithstanding, I don’t want to see one of my ISP’s customers lose business. And I’d like to keep a FreeBSD logo on our hotspot page. Is there artwork that doesn’t include horned creatures that might offend the ignorant or superstitious?

–Brett Glass

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“Linux and the Internet broke everything wide open. It’s taken 20 years to get a lot of it boxed back up again.”

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Matt Haughey interviewing CmdrTaco:

Matt: What’s your biggest disappointment in the tech world these days?

Rob: The internet is simply not as free as it was when Slashdot began. Government is increasingly legislating away our rights and criminalizing actions that are impossible to regulate. I know it’s inevitable, but it’s still disappointing to witness. The joy of logging in to an IRC chat room in the early 90s, to talk to people who were innovating powerful technologies simply for the sake of it was absolutely intoxicating. To be able to talk to the guy who was responsible for some component of your system. We were all pseudo-anonymous strangers brought together by the technology that we loved, and the belief that an open future was spread out before us. The future will be exciting for my children, but I’m afraid that their technology will come in boxes welded shut at the factory. Their software locked down. Linux, and the Internet broke everything wide open. It’s taken 20 years to get a lot of it boxed back up again. I hope there are still air cracks by the time my kids are old enough to jam screwdrivers in there.

Rob “CmdrTaco” Malda – interviewed by Matt Haughey – webstock.org.nz