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BOTW (Bug of the Week): iCloud synchronization that won’t

November 12, 2013 1 comment

On my iPhone, I have a guy, let’s call him “Laurent”. And I have his email address there. It looks like this:

Laurent

home: boo@baz.it

Then later I entered a contact on my Mac with full details (phone number, address, etc). I tried to sync by connecting the USB cable. I was naive. On Mavericks and iOS7, you can’t trigger a sync like this. It has to go through iCloud. Boy, do I feel secure giving all my contact data to Apple and the NSA, but that’s another topic. On the Mac, it looks like this:

Laurent

work: foo@bar.com

home: boo@baz.it

So now, after a few seconds, I see that it “sync’ed” something, because now on the Mac, I have the same email address twice. I.e. it looks like this:

Laurent

work: foo@bar.com

home: boo@baz.it

home:boo@baz.it.

Needless to say, I suppress the second address, right? You have to wonder why Contacts didn’t do it by itself. I guess it’s for my own good. So now on the Mac, I’m back to:

Laurent

work: foo@bar.com

home: boo@baz.it

Back to the iPhone, hoping that this time, it had sync’d the entire vCard. But no, it’s waaaay to smart for something that simple. Now, on the iPhone, it removed the email address, but did not add the rest. So my card looks like this:

Laurent

That’s a joke, right?

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The Grizzly vs. the Frog

The Grizzly vs. the Frog

Guess who wins when you put a frog in front of a grizzly.

As a french national and entrepreneur myself, I am a bit appalled at how little our government understands the basics of economy. The way French Minister Arnaud Montebourg dealt with Mittal or Titan shows this crass ignorance. It does not save jobs, it just pisses investors off.

Here is one: when a US company wants to buy a plant, you don’t tell them to speak with the unions first. What if Arnaud Montebourg visited the US to negociate a big contract with US airlines to sell them planes, and was told by the US department to get in line at the airport front desk to talk with a company representative?…

Boiled frog syndrom: France has to stop thinking that unions are representative in economic matters. They are only relevant as far as people matters are concerned. For economics, French unions like the CGT have repeatedly demonstrated their ignorance.

Categories: Uncategorized

The promise of glasses-free 3D – Dolby’s vision

The promise of glasses-free 3D – Dolby’s vision

The article is a little low on details. Based on the fact that the article mentions Philips displays, my guess is that this is based on the 2D+Z technology. In other words, the picture is split between a color map and a depth map.

The benefits of this approach is that it is easy to transmit over a regular channel, since the picture is basically the same size and format as a regular HDTV picture. The drawback is that the display has to reconstruct at least two images (and for auto-stereoscopic displays, several pictures) from the information.

It may seem simple to reconstruct the required pictures from a color map and a depth map. But in reality, it’s a bit problematic, because a single color map cannot encode both the color of the front objects and the color of the objects it hides.

Imagine for example that you have a plane in the front, and the sky in the background. The sky is blue, the plane is grey. Now, at the border of the plane, the gray hides the blue. But the two eyes don’t see this limit at the same exact location. It’s a phenomenon called parallax.

So what happens is that for at least one of the pictures, the system has to “invent” colors. Basically, it’s going to extrapolate the background color of the parts you can’s see based on the color of the parts you can see.

This is one of the drawbacks of the Philips approach compared to traditional stereoscopic and auto-stereoscopic systems that send all the pictures separately (meaning that they don’t need to invent colors).

This is not very visible on movies, if at all. That’s because borders of real objects tend to be a bit fuzzy. But for synthetic images as those created by Tao Presentations, this tends to cause relatively visible artifacts.

I wonder if Dolby solved that specific problem…

Everything is broken and no one cares

February 10, 2013 1 comment

Everything is broken and no one cares

This post from Dear Apple is just so true, and so clearly on topic for Grenouille Bouillie!

Have we reached the point in complexity where we can’t make good quality products anymore? Or is that some kind of strategic choice?

The original post is mostly about Apple products, but the same is true with Linux, with Android, with Windows.

Here is my own list of additional bugs, focusing on those that can easily be reproduced:

  1. Open a file named X in any of the new Apple applications, those without Save As. Open another file named Y. Save Y as X. Beachball. For every application. Worse yet, since applications often remember which windows were open, you get the beachball again when you reopen the application. It takes another force quit for the application to (fortunately) offer to not reopen the windows.
  2. A relatively well known one now: Type F i l e : / / / in practically any OSX application. Without the spaces. Hang or assert depending on your luck.
  3. Use a stereoscopic application like Tao Presentations (http://www.taodyne.com). Activate stereoscopy. Switch spaces or unplug an external monitor. Kernel panic or hang to be expected. Go tell to your customers that the kernel panic is Apple’s fault, not ours…
  4. If you backup over the network, set your computer to sleep after say 1 hour while on power. Change your disk enough that the backup takes more than one hour. Backup disk will come up as corrupt after a couple of days, and OSX will suggest you start a new one (and the cycle will repeat).
  5. Use the “Share” button. It takes forever to show up the window (like 2-3 seconds in general on my 2.6GHz quad-core i7 with 8GB of RAM). Since what I type generally begins with an uppercase letter, I usually prepare myself by having the finger on the shift key. But to that stupid animation framework, “shift” means “slow animation down so that Steve can demo it”. Steve is dead, but the “shift” behavior is still there.

I’ll keep updating this list as more come to mind. Add your own favorite bugs in the comments.

First update (Feb 13, 2013):

  1. Safari often fails to refresh various portions of the screen. Visible in particular when used in combination with Redmine. This used to be very annoying, but it has gotten much better in more recent updates of Safari.
  2. iTunes 11 no longer has Coverflow. It was a neat way to navigate in your music, which wasn’t even the default, why remove it?
  3. Valgrind on OSX 10.8 is completely broken. I have no idea what’s wrong, but it’s a pretty useful tool for developers, and Apple has nothing in its own development tools that is even remotely close.
  4. “Detect displays” is gone, both from the Monitors control panel and from the Monitors menu icon. Combine that with the fact that OSX 10.8, unlike its predecessors, sometimes totally fails to detect that you unplug a monitor. And you find yourself with windows stuck on a screen that is no longer there…
  5. That little Monitor menu icon used to be quite handy, e.g. to select the right resolution when connecting to an external projector for the first time. Now, it’s entirely useless. It only offers mirroring, fails to show up 90% of the time when there is a possibility to do mirroring, shows up when mirroring is impossible (e.g. after you disconnected the projector). It used to be working and useful, it’s now broken and useless. What’s not to love?
  6. Contacts used to have a way for me to format phone numbers the way I like. That’s gone. Now I have to accept the (broken) way it formats all phone numbers for me.
  7. I used to be able to sync between iPhone and Contacts relatively reliably. Now, if there’s a way to remove a phone number, I’ve not found it. Old numbers I removed keep reappearing at the next sync, ensuring that I never know which of the 2, 3 or 4 phone numbers I have is the not dead one.
  8. Still in Contacts, putting Facebook e-mail addresses as the first choice for my contacts? No thanks, it was heinous enough that Facebook replaced all genuine email addresses with @facebook.com aliases. But having that as the first one that pops up is really annoying.
  9. Now fixed, but in the early 10.8, connecting a wired network when I also had Wifi on the same network would not give me higher speed. It would just drop all network connectivity.

Updated February 28th after restoring a machine following a serious problem:

  1. Time machine restores are only good if your target disk is at least as big. But with Apple’s recent move to SSD, this may no longer be affordable to you. In my case, I’d like to squeeze 1TB of data into 512G. Time machine does not give me the level of fine-grained control I’d need to restore what I really need. So I need to try and do it manually, which is a real pain.
  2. Calendar sync is a real mess. Restoring calendars from a backup is worse.
  3. Spaces? Where are my good old spaces? Why is it I had spaces on the original machine, no longer have them, and find myself unable to say “I want 6 spaces” or to setup keyboard shortcuts for them as they used to be.

Information is …

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.

There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.

“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal — there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it — their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?

Aaron Swartz
July 2008, Eremo, Italy

RIP Aaron Swartz

Categories: Uncategorized

Steve Jobs on HP: “tragic”

According to an article on CIO Insight, the recent evolution of HP was described by Steve Jobs as “tragic”. How true.

Before his death, Jobs also expressed concern over whether his legacy would keep Apple healthy after he left. “Hewlett and Packard built a great company, and they thought they had left it in good hands,” he said during his last board meeting, according to the biography. “But now it’s being dismembered and destroyed. It’s tragic.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Steve Jobs is gone

There will be much rejoicing in Heaven, for he made everything with love. Love for his customers, love for his products.

Steve Jobs is a daily inspiration for me as we build Taodyne. I only wish I could get close to his passion for perfection and beautiful design.

Categories: Uncategorized
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