Showing posts with label Apple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Apple. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


In an otherwise banal and factual news dispatch taken up by the UK Telegraph, the verb "award" is somewhat surprising:

Apple is expected to award a German iPhone distribution deal to Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile and a French deal to France Telecom's Orange later this week.

It's a little like Apple is henceforth giving out prizes to the best students in the class, where the "class" is neither more nor less than the global European telecom infrastructure.

Asked to respond to allegations that he might have disturbed European mobile networks by playing them off against each other before choosing partners, Steve Jobs said: "It's kind of like getting married. We dated a few people but didn't get married to them. I guess there are a few upset girlfriends out there." Funnily, that's the same metaphor I used in my previous article.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Europe versus Microsoft

At a professional level, I used to be in close contact with Microsoft. Once upon a time (in the early '80s), their spreadsheet tool was called Multiplan (inspired by the grand ancestor VisiCalc). In the context of my initial contacts with Apple France executives Jean-Louis Gassée and Daniel Blériot, I was asked to produce a demonstration floppy (non-rigid disk) of Multiplan on the famous Apple II computer. Shortly after, this primitive hardware/software tandem was replaced by the revolutionary Macintosh and Excel.

Several years later, I wrote stuff about Microsoft tools running on the Macintosh. This work must have been appreciated by the French branch of Bill Gates's corporation, for they offered me a helicopter ride to a journalists' get-together in a fairy-tale castle near Chartres.

That was the time when computer users everywhere were delighted to discover that Microsoft's word-processing tool, named Word, was totally (and no doubt deliberately) unprotected. That's to say, anybody could start using it freely on their PC or Macintosh. That was the ingenious marketing trick that got a whole planetary generation addicted to Word. It was the computing equivalent of free marijuana.

It could be said, retrospectively, that this pioneering epoch of personal computing was an essentially macho affair. For reasons I can't explain, neither the managerial nor the technical levels of the PC revolution seemed to put the limelight upon any outstanding females.

Today, I find it ironical that Bill Gates's arch-enemy in the Old World is a brilliant 66-year-old Dutch woman, Neelie Kroes.

In her powerful role as the European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes doesn't want Europe to become a capitalistic jungle, where the strong devour the weak. In 2004 she set out to bust the Microsoft trust, by accusing the US corporation of failing to implement system-level interoperability, thereby condemning all competition. A European law court has just confirmed that Microsoft's fine of 497 million euros was justified.

Here in France, to verify that Microsoft is not yet playing the game in the sense implied by their European condemnation, you merely have to wander into a retail store and say that you want to purchase a PC without the Windows software. As a surprised salesman pointed out, that request sounds a little like wanting to buy an automobile without a motor. The analogy, though, is stupid. It's silly to try to compare computers with old-fashioned machines such as automobiles. The motor in an automobile (essentially hardware) is not at all the equivalent of software in the context of a computer. Somebody who wants to buy computing hardware without imposed software is more like a guy who wants to get married without having others choose his wife. But we no longer need such metaphors to get the message across. Today, almost everybody is aware that it's perfectly feasible to envisage buying a PC and installing Linux on it. So, to put it metaphorically, Bill Gates should pull his finger out.

This whole affair might, of course, turn out to be a non-problem... if Europeans were to wake up to themselves, and decide massively to buy magnificent Macs.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another iPhoney display of Antipodes

I'm impatient to discover whether or not Antipodes will be readable, in reality, on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Readers may have noticed that, in yesterday's article concerning the restoration of the façade at Gamone, I employed the same display technique that I used in my son's photo website [display]. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in my earlier iPhoney article [display], it will not be possible to exploit this Flash-based display technique on the iPhone or the iPod Touch.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

iPhoney gadget

For people like me who don't yet have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, a software gadget called iPhoney makes it possible to see what such-and-such a website would look like on the real device. I now know, for example, that this is what my Antipodes blog would look like when displayed on an iPhone or an iPod Touch:

I'm disappointed, of course, to discover that Flash stuff simply doesn't get displayed at all on these devices. In any case, it's rather senseless to display graphic websites on such a small screen.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Soft Apple touch

When Apple's cutting-edge iPhone appeared, a few months ago, I had the impression that its least interesting aspect was the fact that you could use it to make phone calls. To put it bluntly: Who wants to make phone calls these days? It's so much more fulfilling to communicate through the Internet. Besides, I already possess a perfectly satisfactory portable phone, which I don't really need to replace. Consequently, I was thrilled to discover that Apple has just put out an extraordinary iPhone that doesn't make phone calls. They call it the iPod Touch.

To be truthful, I believe I'll probably be able to survive for a month or two without this lovely gadget, because I'm not really the sort of old guy who jogs around the countryside like Sarkozy wearing earplugs. In fact, my forthcoming purchase will be a new iMac, but only after the release of the Leopard system, next month.

I've believed for ages that smart personal computing is a strictly Apple affair. Today, I have the impression that it's almost a societal misdemeanor that uninformed people should be allowed, let alone encouraged, to purchase computerized products of other origins. I'm happy to announce today that, beyond Apple, there's nothing more than a prickly desert full of serpents and scorpions. Believe me! Or rather: Believe Steve Jobs. Better still: Just believe!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Unlocked Apple iPhone

Hey, this is my 400th post to the Antipodes blog!

Ever since its arrival on the US market at the end of June, Apple's iPhone has been associated with a unique phone company: AT&T. Consequently, it has been out of the question for a visitor to purchase an iPhone in the USA and bring it back home to, say, France or Australia. And, as I said in my recent article entitled Apple's iPhone will be Orange in France [display], it appears that France's Orange phone company has been chosen to play the role of the unique iPhone supporter here in France.

Needless to say, over the last two months, the challenge of unlocking the iPhone has preoccupied hackers day and night. A young guy became a celebrity, a few days ago, by announcing that he had succeeded in unlocking his iPhone by means of a hardware approach: that's to say, involving the use of a soldering iron. But, as somebody said, nobody likes the idea of a solution that consists basically of brutally "wreckifying" your precious little gadget in order to unlock it.

The following high-tech website [click the banner] has just revealed that a purely software approach to unlocking the iPhone now exists:

Naturally, people are wondering how Apple and companies such as AT&T and Orange are going to react to this news. A little common-sense reasoning makes it clear that Apple is unlikely to grieve about this unlocking possibility. It was nice for the computer manufacturer to have established juicy exclusive-licensing contracts with the world's great phone companies in order to launch their device, but we should not forget that Apple's main business consists of selling elegant electronic machines... such as the iMac, the iPod and now the iPhone. So, the concept of an unlocked iPhone (unlocked, not by Apple, but by third-party hackers) is obviously great for business, because it will increase the demand for iPhones. So, AT&T and Orange might complain bitterly about the unlocking hack, but I wouldn't be surprised if Apple were to refrain regally from making any comment whatsoever about this news.

Monday, July 2, 2007

When is an Apple store not an Apple store?

The answer to that apparent metaphysical question is simple: In France, when it's an outlet of the celebrated chain of retail stores named Fnac [pronounced as two syllables: feu-nac].

The Fnac's so-called Apple Shop in the Latin Quarter of Paris, named Fnac Digitale Odéon, with an area of over 300 square meters, certainly appears to look and taste and feel like an Apple store... except that it ain't. This shop is part of an ordinary retail chain, founded half-a-century ago by French Marxist militants named André Essel and Max Théret. The latter gentleman was even a personal bodyguard of Trotsky. How's that for professional reconversion?

Personally, as a Macintosh enthusiast and a Fnac customer, I look back with delectation upon all that has been happening in the Apple domain ever since that delightful day in the early '80s when Jean-Louis Gassée, the charismatic chief of Apple France, placed a personal computer in my hands and told me prophetically: "William, this machine is going to change your life."

Friends have often thought that I like Apple in the simple way that a French automobile owner such as me might prefer Citroen to Renault. No, my association with Apple is far deeper than that. It started when I was confronted with a bulky paper document containing instructions to software developers. I was enthralled to discover that the Apple company was determined to enforce principles concerning the quality of human interfaces with their computers. In other words, if a would-be creator proposed software with a shitty user interface, Apple would simply disallow it. Under the inspired guidance of Steve Jobs, all the rest followed. Shitty software was simply prohibited. A nice simple idea. That's Apple.

Today, I'm immensely proud of my three antiquated Apple books:

They demonstrate retrospectively that I'm not simply climbing onto a bandwagon. I really believed in this firm right from the start. And I still do, more than ever. Apple thinks differently and knows how to get computing right.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

All-purpose hi-tech gadget

Seriously, the initial iPhone feedback from US technical journalists [which I won't attempt to summarize here, since it's all on the Google news] is not bad at all.

Furthermore, I have the impression that we Europeans might be in on a good thing, as the saying goes. During the forthcoming months, US users of the iPhone will be faced with inevitable teething problems. Hopefully, Apple engineers will clean up these problems, as they become known, and the iPhone model that will be offered to us Europeans towards the end of the year will be faultless! Normally, the future European iPhone should be more rapid than the initial US version. There are even rumors that we might have a GPS dimension.

I'm disappointed to learn that the iPhone doesn't run Flash stuff, because most of my web work over the last few years has been based upon this approach. So, you won't be seeing my websites on your iPhones. Happily, though, the iPhone doesn't aim to replace the time-honored phenomenon of ordinary computers connected to the Internet, no more than the iPod has replaced music blaring out on a hifi system in the living room...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Countdown iPhone minus one

Unless you're living like a Neanderthal in a limestone cave at the foot of the cliffs in a remote place such as Choranche, you're aware of two front-page media items: first, Paris Hilton is out of jail (for the moment), and second, Apple's iPhone is coming (at least to US customers) tomorrow, Friday. The excitement generated by these two events means that poor old Gordon Brown has chosen a difficult week (in reality, the poor bugger didn't choose anything; the choosing was done for him by friends) to hit the headlines with stories about his ascension to the top job in the UK. Fortunately, neither the Kiwis nor the Swiss can win the five required America's Cup match races until a forthcoming day in the AiP (after the iPhone) era: at some time between AiP 2 (next Sunday) and AiP 5 (next Wednesday). So, there's no danger of that victory interfering with AiP 0 (tomorrow). There's also little likelihood that George W Bush will be choosing one of the early AiP days to announce a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, because he wouldn't want to be forced to share his limelight with Steve Jobs. So, apart from the coming-out of the iPhone, I think we can safely say that nothing important is likely to happen in the universe in the next few days. On the other hand, we are indeed likely to see TV footage of the glamorous ex-jailbird using her new iPhone to talk to her boyfriend about the respective hardships and joys of life as an inmate. Meanwhile, I strongly recommend Apple's excellent guided tour of the functionality of the future beast, which you can see by clicking on the following banner:

Monday, June 11, 2007

Only in Leopard

Coinciding with their annual developers' conference, Apple's website has been redesigned with a sophisticated black cosmic look. Above all, the site includes a lengthy description of the future operating system, named Leopard, which will be available in October. [Click here to display it.] It looks like a fabulous system, with several powerful new devices, such as Stacks [for partitioning projects on the desktop] and Time Machine [to find ancient stuff in personal archives, created automatically].

I have the impression that, next year, smart folk everywhere will be working and playing with a pair of machines from Cupertino: a Leopard-equipped Macintosh and an iPhone.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Why do we talk so much?

I've just heard that it's coming soon in the USA, on 29 June 2007: Apple's revolutionary iPhone! [Click here or on the image to visit their excellent website.] Up until now, I've been a total phone philistine, maybe because I don't live in an urban environment where lots of friends are calling me continually to invite me around for a drink or dinner, or to talk about going out somewhere. Gamone has never been that kind of world. Even my dog Sophia rarely gets phone calls. Like me, I assume she prefers the Internet. Well, on the iPhone, we'll have both. So, I have a feeling that my phone world might change radically for me—and lots of other folk—when this little Apple gadget is released. Between now and then, I'll have to look into the idea of maybe extending my list of people who might be prepared to talk to me. [Poor lonely soul!]

I've always been amused by the words of an unnamed critic, back in the days of the Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who took out a patent on the telephone in 1876. "That gadget won't last for long. People will soon run out of things to say to one another."

It's a bit the same with blogs. This will be my 257th post. Now, six months ago, if somebody had asked me whether I would be capable of publishing an article a day, to ramble on about anything and everything, I would have replied: "No way. I'm simply not that talkative." It's true that I prefer to write about a precise theme, in a well-specified context. Here, that's not at all the case. From one day to the next, I have no idea whatsoever of what I'm going to write about. And above all, apart from a handful of personal contacts, I don't even know who's reading my stuff. So, I guess I have to admit that I might even be a naturally talkative fellow. Add that to the fact that I speak in such a loud voice (I've always been slightly hard of hearing) that I'm capable of waking up the neighbors of my aunt and uncle in Sydney, and you'll gather that I'm definitely not the kind of guy to invite home... which is probably why nobody phones me on my portable.

I've observed the frenetic way in which today's adolescents use and abuse the portable telephone. In Sydney's suburban trains and buses, the situation was even worse still. "Hi. It's me. I'm on the way home. See you soon. Bye."

Why do people do so much talking on phones, on blogs, etc? It's time for another plug concerning the fabulous book by Susan Blackmore, The Meme Machine. [Click here to see my article of 4 March 2007 on this subject, entitled Imitation.] Let me just repeat the gist of the subject. Darwinian evolution transformed us into big-brained naked apes, of whom one of the earliest and dearest specimens was our Mitochondrial Eve, celebrated in yesterday's article. But this style of progress is henceforth—as they say in French—a little has-been. We need something bigger, better, faster and more modern in a human sense than old-fashioned genetic evolution. The new stuff is called memetics. And, if you read Susan Blackmore's book, you'll see that we humans talk a lot (well, at least those of the talkative kind do) for the simple reason that we're constantly transmitting and receiving memes.

I hope I've talked you into reading this great ground-breaking book.