Monday, January 24, 2011

Is there a software switch proximity error on the iPhone 4?

A few months ago there was a lot of buzz about the proximity solution that was promised with the iPhone 4.  I have still not yet seen this.  I offered a tentative solution to this a few months ago, by showing that if you depressed the Home button, you can press the virtual speaker button on the screen or access other virtual buttons.    Alas, this is not a real solution to the problem.  Sometimes keeping the Home button pressed will also inadvertently bring up the Voice Command screen, something that you do not want while you are on a phone call.  It also defeats the purpose of being able to make a phone call with one hand.

This weekend, I was tinkering with an electronics set in my garage, working with something that I will write about at a later date, called ARDUINO.  It is a programmable logic board that enables you to use simple programming language to do a lot of things, such as turning LED lights on and off etc.  A lot of artists use ARDUINO boards to do light shows etc.  As I stated, I will write about the ARDUINO later.  But while tinkering with this, I noticed something strange.  I was able to use a light sensor to ring a bell.  Akin to a home alarm system that detects a change in the light source, occluding the sensor would ring the bell.  This whole thing is programmed into the ARDUINO .  Just then it came to me!  What if there is something in the IOS 4.0 software that is programmed in reverse?  In other words, what if when the sensor is blocked, instead of the virtual screen going blank as it does if you place the phone next to your face, the screen turns on?

To test this, I made a phone call and decided to keep my finger on the light sensor (located at the top of the phone screen, next to the telephone speaker).  Low and behold, the virtual keyboard showed up and stayed on.  However, when I placed the phone next to my cheek, my cheek kept on pressing keys during the conversation.   I tried it again and it didn't work.  But it worked again on the third phone call.

Of course this could be a faulty sensor, but could there really be millions of faulty sensors around?  The one support for a faulty sensor is the fact that not everyone is complaining about having a sensor problem, but everyone has the same IOS software.  But why would it only happen intermittently?  Is it the light source or is it a software issue?   Could it be that if the proximity sensor is covered from the beginning of the call there is no issue - as I noted with my three calls 2/3 times?  That would not be a hardware issue then, but a software issue in the ROM.   In using ARDUINO, albeit a rudimentary software/hardware platform, I am learning a lot about more complex circuit boards.  And as I state again, rudimentary is the operative word.  There may be a plethora of things going on that account for the sensor issue, but it would be nice if it was just a software glitch that gets fixed very soon. 


Addendum:  More testing shows that if I use the iPhone in a relatively dimly lit room, I do not get the flashing virtual screen problems.  This may mean a sensitivity issue in reading the data from the photosensor.   The question that comes with that is if this is correctable via software or is that a hardware (ie. capacitance/resistor) issue?   It would seem that software could compensate for this.  But if it isn't happening to everyone that brings up the hardware debate again.  If an update is released for the ROM, how would that affect people who do not have the problem in the first place?



Monday, January 17, 2011


3 short words of encouragement to the greatest innovator of the 21st Century.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Clarity on Aperture at $80 and Licensing Issues

So, during my investigation into this software I had two questions that I felt compelled to ask about.  The first, whether the $80 version of this professional grade application was the exact same as the $200+ version available from Apple in disc form?  And what kind of licensing did the downloaded version entail?

The Mac Genius looked up the information and informed me that this was indeed the actual version of the $200 software and not an Academic version either.  So it will be upgradeable in the future. 

In regards to the licensing agreements, he stated that according to Apple, if you - the license owner -  own more than one Apple machine ie. Mac Desktop and Mac laptop, you have the ability to use the program that you have downloaded on both machines without having to pay for the program again.   I asked if that meant that the Mac App store, in similar fashion to the iTunes store, would recognize that I downloaded this once before and not charge me another $80 for the software?  He stated that he was not certain about this, but stated that it should recognize it by the Apple ID.  He recommended downloading the software and networking it or placing it on a disc and installing it on the other machine.

You know, I may start liking this Mac App store after all.   I am not happy about giving up my freedom but there is a certain amount of clarity in this way of doing business.  For one thing, if this is as minimally restrictive as it sounds, I think that the App store will be another major hit for Apple.

I Won't do Mac Store...Oh Wait Did you say Aperture is $80?

Okay, so I was not going to download the Mac app.  Why? Well let's just say that I still like the old fashioned way of finding software, but this App store thing seems to be a compelling way to do business and to find software as long as it does not interfere with my ability to go outside of the box to find the same, say for a lower price point.   I am a really big fan of the Bundles - ie. MacUpdate, MacHeist etc.  For $50 you get about 12 programs (Apps to be politically correct :)).   What will become of these bundles remains to be seen now that the App store has arrived.  When I first bought my Mac in 2007, the Mac Bundles were an excellent introduction to software for my new OS. 

I have always waited for the V1 or first version of anything, ie. iPad, iPhone to pass before jumping in head first.  Not wanting to be on the bleeding edge (ie. iPhone 1 owners), but trying to remain on the cutting edge.  But APPLE knows how to nail you!  And what I thought was a misprint by Apple on the Mac App store has just NAILED ME!

I have been looking for Photo cataloging and editing software to advance from iPhoto.  I wanted to get something a little better than iPhoto which has become extremely bloated with our over 12,000 photographs.  I began this quest in 2009, but halted it after seeing the pricing for the two leading contenders.  Aperture, Apple's own version was over $200.  That was not chump change.  Lightroom by Adobe was about the same $245.  I listened to a number of photography podcasts and friends who were always in two camps - The Aperture lovers and the Lightroom lovers.  The Lightroom fans claimed that theirs was the only true non destructive editing platform with a plethora of third party plug-ins, with cataloging as a secondary feature.  The Aperture lovers would say that the cataloging features were superior and that the plug-ins were catching up to Aperture and that non destructive editing was on par, but Aperture's tight integration with all things Apple made it the superior choice.

Admittedly, I began leaning towards Lightroom due to the fact that many Windows users and a few of my trusted photography friends exclaimed that this was the de facto program for serious photographers.  I was planning on buying it this September, but never got around to it as other things kept on getting in the way.  In the end, I was still on the fence.

But yesterday something peculiar happened.  While scanning the "papers" for news on the new App store, I ran into the top 10 grossing apps on Fortune Magazine.  And there it was.  Aperture 3.0 selling for $80.  Not $200.  I checked the Apple website to ensure that this was not a typo that would soon be retracted.  It was not.  Aperture was $80.  Now, that is a game changer.  One of the things that my friends told me is that once you go to either Aperture or Lightroom there is no turning back.  At $80, did Apple want to make sure that all of its Mac Heads remained in the fold?  Was this another 1-2 sucker punch to Adobe?  If I went to Lightroom would it be possible that Adobe might stop supporting Lightroom on the Mac (ie. Microsoft not creating another Excel version until last year, leaving Mac owners to use a 2004 outdated version of the App for years or Adobe's Flash or Creative Suite issues with updating?).  Support has been my main concern.

So now I have to weigh the pros and cons of the situation.  Should I go to the App store and download Version 3.0* of Aperture?  My mind is telling me yes, but I now have to do more research to see if plugins will be supported and if there are as many worthwhile plugins as found in Lightroom.   Also what kind of licensing would this entail?  Can I install the App on more than one machine (Does the Mac App store make it impossible to "share" a disc on multiple machines in the same location for one fee)?  

Apple has created a compelling reason to stay the course.  A professional photography suite for $80 - that my friends was the introductory price of Adobe's Photoshop Elements on Disc, a rudimentary program that is not in the same league as Aperture.  Apple, you have made my decision making a living hell !  Thanks :).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

AppleTV a hobby? Don't count on it........

Perusing the Patent Universe and you will find a very real, very informative patent just given to Apple Inc.
Pop over to Patentlyapple to see how the patent office granted Apple a TV set top box patent.  Folks, this is no hobby!