Saturday, June 29, 2013

Madonna of the Trail: Statue of The Pioneer Woman

There are twelve of these statues that were commissioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution.  I've been near several of them and did not know that they were there, save one which I saw once a week.  I've taken it upon myself to photograph several of these and I have been to seven locations in seven states
Springfield, Ohio
Beallsville, Pennsylvania
Wheeling, West Virginia
Richmond, Indiana
Vandalia, Illinois
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Springerville, Arizona

Upland, California

They depict the struggles of the pioneer women as they crossed the fledgling country with no highways.

Update 2016.04.23: I photographed the statue in Upland, California on February 1, 2015, but I forgot to update this blog entry until now.  I also tried to find the one in Maryland, but the location I had was the preliminary location and it was changed to be closer to Washington, DC.  However, this gave me the opportunity to see the starting point of the National Trail instead.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Are you confused about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera?

I'm a little shocked at some of the searches that have led to my blog entries.  If you're trying to compare the Nikon D600 or Nikon D300 to the Pocket Cinema Camera, you're way off.  It's not a stills camera.

If you're interesting in making films (motion pictures), it looks a good starting device.  For the price, you could buy a couple and lenses, of course, and start your fledgling (amateur) film studio.

Is the Super 16 sensor big enough?  For beginners, I'm sure it is.  For those in the business who want a more personal look to their work without making it look craptacular, I'm sure it's a good size.  You could use it on the street without attracting undue attention.  For those who are saying "but it's not full frame!", you don't understand about film or video at the moment.  Here is a fact: 4K video can be shot on a small sensor because it's 3840x2160 resolution.  That's not huge.

So, if you're looking for a stills (or even a hybrid stills/video) camera, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera isn't likely for you.  Go buy a Panasonic GH3 for a great hybrid camera body at a similar price.  If you want a great stills camera with a bit of video, buy a Nikon D7100.

Update 2014.03.02: I still haven't done enough video to warrant buying the Pocket Cinema Camera.  I want to do some serious video work, but until I'm past the basics, and my GH3 will get me way past the basics.  I still feel that the PCC would be great to capture documentary type footage for high school athletes to show their skills to potential recruiters.  Most parents use some inexpensive video camera which doesn't do a great job, and then, they use the cheapest editing software that they can find.  Building a multi-camera portfolio for an athlete through high school would be an amazing way to introduce that athlete.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Home again, Home again, jiggity jig

That's something my parents used to say, though I don't know why.

I hope you're all having a great weekend.  It's almost finished and I've spent a lot of it driving, some of it eating, some of it sleeping, and too much of it complaining.  :-D

I really miss Philly, but I'm not missing the drivers along the way.  It's no wonder there is a law in Florida about camping in the passing lane.  So many people are oblivious on the road.  The worst was a business van for Automation Logistics--from Florida.  Of course, I remember the traffic reports in Philly where they said "check your rear view mirror.", which I thought was silly since everyone should be doing that already.  What did I know about driving?  :-D  (It's about the same as I know now--you need to pay attention to the driving.)

Pennsylvania has the most gorgeous scenery, no matter what people say about Vermont, Colorado, or Oregon.  Pennsylvania, especially eastern PA, has great food.  I would say that food from Philly, New Jersey, and New York is the best in the country overall, but you can find specific dishes is various parts of the country that have no equal.

When I was leaving on Saturday morning, I found another filling station and they had a good number of diesel pumps, which is important since the car takes diesel fuel.  After that, I headed to Wawa, the convenience store (they don't sell diesel apparently), and filled up on iced tea, and got a double pretzel.  I feel like such a glutton.

More later...unpacking to do.

The midwest is so full of wonder, such as, I wonder what I'm doing here or I wonder why the family wanted to move here or I wonder why this area is so backward.  Oops, did I say all that?  There are a lot of great people here, but they're not where I am.

I was so happy to have spent time and money to return some eastern Pennsylvania goodies to a couple of people I know here because they ripped open the bags without "thank you" or "these are good" or anything to signal that my effort was appreciated.  I'm glad I didn't spend bunches of money.  It's been almost 4 days since then, and still nothing.  It makes me wonder about humanity's future.

In any case, I've returned to being my unsettled self, unfortunately.  I'm just not good here.  Maybe, I can use that discomfort to finish my house and get it sold.

The heat is good but the migraines (again) are not.  At least, we're having enough rain to keep away the brown grass and drought conditions of last year about this time.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Still Trippin' in Jersey and Philly (updated with photos)

Yes, I'm still on my trip to Philly and New Jersey.

Tuesday, I headed over to a Central New Jersey beach at Point Pleasant, hoping to see a friend, if the timing was right.  Hurricane Sandy devastated so much, I wasn't sure what I'd find.

The town seemed to be in good shape, but when I got to Jenkinson's Boardwalk, I saw some damaged homes, one was being raised to be approved for flood insurance.  That's just sad, but living so close to the water has always been a dangerous thing.  I watched the hurricanes tear through Florida in 2004--some on the TV set, and some outside my door.  It was a difficult year but I didn't see any devastation, although many did.

A few nights before that, my buddy sent a Twitter message asking for sandbags.  The day I was there, it started to rain--and flood.

In any case, I spent some time on the boardwalk.  It had the typical games and restaurants, and there were rides away from the boardwalk.  I managed to get New Jersey-style frozen custard from Kohr Bros. of Atlantic City.  When I lived in Florida, they had at least one store, although even that is gone now.  I'm not an expert on frozen custard but it's the best I've had, and it helped my day.

After taking some photos, I went to get lunch at Surf Taco.  Someone commented about how the fish tacos were just like those from California.  I hate to think where that person ate.  I became sick after eating the first one and went to the rest room.  When I returned, I grabbed the drink and food and I emptied the basket into the trash, throwing away most of $11.00.

I ended up at Burger King and got a very plain cheeseburger.  I was amused by the map, as I was between Richmond Avenue and Cincinnati Avenue--I happen to live in Richmond and travel to Cincinnati frequently, so I'm often between the two anyway.

My buddy ended up with zero time, so I ended up a bit empty.

Wednesday, I went to another diner that had been around the Clifton Heights, PA area for quite a while, unlike the former Steak & Ale on Tuesday.  I'd also been to Olympic Diner a few times, so I knew that it was a quality joint.  It didn't disappoint, nor did it make me ill.  Not only was the food great, but the characters in the place made me smile.  It felt like I was home again.  I love Philly (even though Clifton Heights isn't Philly--it's a suburb).

I had some business I'd planned to do today, but I couldn't find the paperwork I needed, as if I left it 600 miles away, at home.  (Tonight, I found it, thankfully!)  I did some window shopping, and just doing things I would have been doing had I been living here again.  When I returned to the motel, I saw huge marks on the car I had somehow missed earlier.  Apparently, an SUV had damaged it in a parking lot while it was parked.  There were marks on it up high and down low, but on the rear driver's side door and fender and wheel.  In February, I had a mirror replaced because it had been completely knocked off the car.  All I can think is that the person was too busy on their phone to notice anyone else and didn't bother to check anything, as they pulled out from the parking space.  I'm betting that they had insurance, but it was used so often--and car insurance is terribly expensive in Philadelphia and Delaware counties that the person wasn't about to admit to anything.

So, the trip has been interesting, but not terribly happy, so far.  I still have hopes--maybe the passenger side of the car will be damaged before I return home, so I'll have a matched set.

Yelp seems unhappy to absorb all my new photos and reviews but they are few for the Philly metro area.

Still uncomfortable with traffic but the trip has been energizing.  I've talked with so many people all over the place.  It's as though I belong here...again.

I returned to the same pizza place where I got my Italian hoagie the first night and I got a cheesesteak as my final meal here.  I haven't had a real one since 1996, I'm sure.  Even the trips in 2005 and 2006, I ate sparingly.  Strangely, I feel no heavier but having two breakfasts this week should have tipped the scales.

I went into Center City this morning and retrieved my mum's ring from the jewelers, surprisingly.  I figured that they would say that they'd never had it.  I had plans to fall apart.  I considered dropping my camera on one of the cases, but put my camera away before they even talked to me at all.  I didn't want to be tempted.  The jeweller sort of remembered and they had removed the main stone but they found everything within a few minutes.  Some of my faith in humanity has been restored today.

I was surprised at the new Visitors Center in the Independence Hall area.  They had a little building on Third or Fourth Street previously and there wasn't much room for anything.  The Route 76 bus would stop outside and they had a pamphlet or two.  Now, they have a huge building with many displays and artwork, guides, and businesses, plus there is now a Constitution Museum.

I'm shocked at how much governments have spent locally.  They don't have the money for all this, even with the tourists paying some small fees.  On the other hand, the Philadelphia Parking Authority charged me $17.00 for 3 hours, 15 minutes of parking.  The other day at Point Pleasant, NJ I paid $4.50 for 2 hours.  Something about a union comes to mind, unfortunately.

I'm on my way home now--at Washington, PA already.  Found another Madonna of the Trail statue and photographed it.  That makes 4 and the one in Wheeling tomorrow will make 5, if I can find a place to stop.  I really miss Philly already, bad stuff and all, because there is a lot of good stuff there.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Taking a little trip to Philly/Jersey

I'm totally amused by the idea of being able to drive from here to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is about 600 miles/1000 km on one tank of diesel fuel.

Now, I'll panic early and want to fill the tank before I get that close, and I'll probably want to stop at Wawa as soon as possible to get an iced tea.  Still, it's amazing thinking that, if I had to do it, I could do it.

Thinking about previous trips with 3 different Volkswagen gasoline-driven models, I usually made 3 stops for fuel.  I didn't have set places but I would almost have to stop at a PA Turnpike service area since there wasn't any other place, especially when you're driving directly from A to B.

I would enter the PA Turnpike at the New Stanton (exit 11, I believe, but that's the old designation) and I would leave the Turnpike anywhere from Downington (PA route 10) to Philadelphia (U.S. 1), depending on where I lived at the time.  If I had time, I'd often stop in Lancaster County to enjoy the ride a bit more and stop at restaurants along the way.  If you haven't travelled U.S. 30, you're missing out on some great local stuff, along with some awkward traffic around the outlet malls.

I can't wait to see the Atlantic Ocean again.  It's been too long since it last waved goodbye to me.  I'm also looking forward to Mitsuwa Marketplace, a Japanese mall plus the usual hoagie, cheesesteak, and Italian restaurants that you can find all around Philadelphia and New Jersey.  No, I'm not looking to become obese but I am looking for some flavour.

I wouldn't mind looking at the museums again, since it's been too long since I've been there.  I don't care to run up the Art Museum's steps like Rocky again, mostly because I would like to have my car close and you can't drive up the steps.

I was thinking about going to Adorama's street fair in Manhattan on Sunday, 23 June.  I've done quite a bit of mail order but I've never seen the store.  I wasn't that close to it my last time in NYC, starting and ending at Penn Station.

I think the fuel will definitely be the least cost of the trip.  It should be interesting to see the range of prices on the way.  While the local Indiana/Ohio prices have held steady around $3.989, I saw that they're handling diesel at one Sam's Club and it was $3.699.  This is especially significant when gasoline is over $4.00 per gallon in this area--the old Memorial Day to Labor Day gouging, probably.

I look forward to the trip and to see how the engine responds on a long, uninterrupted cruise.  It used to take me around 5 hours, 50 minutes through Pennsylvania.  I wonder if that will change because I won't need to stop for fuel, although I'll need to stop for human necessities.

On the way back, I'm planning to photograph two Madonna of the Trail statues, to add to the other three I've already taken.  It's probably weird, but I'd like to go up to the little town where they filmed Super 8.  I've been wondering how it is to live near a bigger river, and I've been to a few points along the Ohio River in the past year.  It's a trip.  I might as well indulge myself.

I arrived in the motel in Bensalem, PA just minutes outside Northeast Philly.  Sprint's WiMAX is working at 9.9 Mbps accord to the test I just did, which is better than what Red Roof Inn is providing.  I'm glad to see that a technology that people call "useless" and "old" and "pathetic" is doing so much better than the up-to-date technology I don't have.

The car topped out at 48.8 mpg.  I filled up at London, OH, about 80 miles from home, and the car showed 500.2 miles with nearly 1/4 tank remaining, which suggests 664 mile range, instead of the 592 mile range based on the EPA rating of 42 mpg.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Google is not the salvation of humanity

There are so many fanatics on all sides.  I understand enthusiasm but fanaticism really hurts everyone.

I continue to see how Google has virtually saved humanity by offering their products for free and not asking anything in return.  It amuses me.

Google put together Chrome for one good reason--to sell services.  Yes, you can use it to view web pages but they really want your business to work through Chrome to make documents and spreadsheets and whatnot through their web-based applications.  Services are cash-worthy, as is advertising.  Google is a business, not a philanthropy.

I still remember how Google were turning dissidents over to the Chinese government, as were Yahoo!  I suppose those actions will always remind me that some people favour business over life any day.  I'm not an activist but I value people's lives.

Google often engages up-and-coming developers in their "Summer of Code".  It's good for the community, but they also get free help and new ideas.  Since they engender the trust of so many, they help themselves to code which would otherwise cost them money to create.  That also saves them human resources to work on projects which do bring money to the company.

If there is one positive thing Google has done, it's done something to erode Microsoft's grip on the world.  It currently appears that Android is displacing Windows as the sloppy operating system that is widely used--what I used to call the 65% solution.  (Microsoft's developers spent 100% of their time working on 65% of the problem, leaving people to fend for themselves and work through the problems.)  Android's problems are rather widely known and developers attempt to work through them, supporting device after device incrementally because the hardware abstraction isn't very good.  Pity the poor developer struggling with the angry customers because their software doesn't work on some device.

I really thought that Android 4.x would be a great fix for the mess, but apparently, it isn't.  What's more, Android versions 2.3.3-2.3.7 is still in use by a rather large group of active users.  I suspect the LG Optimus One (and now 2) and variants were quite the success, given that the price was about the same as a high end feature phone.

I'd love for businesses to become the salvation of humanity but I suspect that they will not because they're--businesses.

Monday, June 10, 2013

WWDC -- iOS 7 -- 1984 is back!!

I'm both shocked and amused at the visual changes to iOS with version 7.

The technical changes are of more interest to me, but I was rather shocked looking at the revisions to what is usually eye candy.  It feels as though the original Macintosh operating system interface has been given a renewed life.  Back in 1984, we had a white with black interface, but iOS 7 is getting a white with colour interface, for whatever reason.

After seeing it, I can say that it's not blue and it's not silver/brushed metal/whatever.  The huge emphasis on blue since the original Mac OS X public beta in 2000 drove me mad.  If you're going to use a colour, use one that I want.  i.e., make it flexible to my whim.  However, Apple only once was ready to give us that ability and they pulled it away from us after displaying it--Themes in Mac OS 8.x.

Monday's announcement and images show us something different.  They said that they ran out of green felt for Game Center.  Okay, we get it, you didn't like trying to mirror real life because it would only be a pale (or perhaps, over-saturated) comparison.

The variety of colour in the latest screenshots make me wonder if Apple will be supplying iPhone in multiple colours to match iPod touch.  What I've seen doesn't seem completely good with the current black or white phone bodies but might be considered sufficient with a variety of colours, and black and white.

I read that Apple put their marketing people in charge of the new icons somehow.  I thought that they either hired the laid-off Nokia artists who made the child-like icons for their phones prior to Windows Phone or Apple copied elementary school children's art work.  They've said that it's a work in progress.  The last time I remember knowing marketing people who were in charge, our product was named Computron 7000.  Never, ever let marketing people do anything unattended!

I'm not sure about the rest.  Control Center sounds good but how do they know what we need and will it be flexible?  I don't care for their calculator, so if it cannot be replaced, I'm probably going to go to mine.  I already have a flash light app, so I could go to that also.    My point is that Apple, in their desire to provide the best experience (and that's important) for the majority of the people, don't always get it right but they, and we have to live with their decisions.

I'm thrilled that they've figured out how to put more things in a folder 6 years later.  It feels a bit like they're making the same mistakes over and over and over again, from Apple II to Mac OS to Mac OS X to iOS.  It's good that they've re-worked Notifications.  I'm still getting notifications hours later, after I've seen them and dismissed them.  I may be assuming too much, but I'm guessing that iOS 6 will never be fixed.  I wonder if iOS 7 will just give us a new nightmare.

This might sound incredibly negative.  I'm actually pleased that they're making progress but adding things like multi-tasking for all apps, support for game sprites in 2D games, and an official set of APIs for physical game controllers.  I'm thinking that Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall stood in the way of functionality.  I'm with Steve Jobs that the customer should have a great experience, and the user interface needs to be honed, but without progress, you will find your competition winning at something you hold dear.

Update 2013.09.25: I've had iOS 7 on my phone since two days ago.  It really reminds me of the early Macintosh days when everything was white and black, but with a bit of color added.  Of course, flat means that graphics can be rendered more quickly than detailed, more 3D graphics can be.  Also, ending the fuzzy green card table look in Game Center or the leather-bound calendar or the notepaid with poor perforations helps to make things go more quickly.

The experience is better and will eventually be smooth once version 7.1 is out, but it looks like crap on my iPhone 4S.  It looks like the first release of software, not the seventh version.  The slide down notifications works a bit better and the slide up Control Center is somewhat convenient.  However, the grab and pull down method of getting a search window seems inconsistent.  Funny, I complained about all the blue and now, it's all the white.  It's like a device they'd designed for the movie THX-1138.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

WWDC Monday: turning 2012 obsolete

We all know it's coming as soon as we buy something: it's turning obsolete as soon as it has been released.

A car depreciates the moment you sign the paperwork and drive off the lot.  An electronic gadget starts toward obsolescence the moment it arrives in the real world and can be bought.  Even humans and other living things start to decay after they're born--we live to die.

So, it's no mystery that once new laptop computers are revealed by Apple at WWDC on Monday, mine will be the previous generation.  Oh, no!

As I had said when Apple released the first MacBook Air, the company would develop all of their laptop computers in a similar form for the long term.  They've accomplished some of that but they're still holding on to an earlier type.  I suspect it won't be until 2014 when they cut all ties to past laptop computer designs that are still current at this moment.

More than that, they desperately need to replace the Mac Pro--the tower-encased work horse created for the most professional pursuits of creativity.  Will they still have Xeon processors?  These processors have kept the price abnormally high, but have kept the performance equally high.  Will they be replaced with simpler, 8 core i7 processors?

I believe they must.  Apple have been working toward more reasonable pricing lately.  No, they aren't going into budget-class territory.  There is no reason to fight for the bottom end.  However, they can bring more power at a lower price.

Intel boasts the Haswell series of Core i processors as being less needy for power.  Certainly, whole systems seem too needy, especially when it comes to graphics hardware.  We've gone from 300 watt power supplies to much more than 650 watt requirements for many middle class graphics cards fit to a system.  As the CPU becomes less thirsty, will the GPU just soak up the rest?

When the various Macs were using G4 processors, they needed very little energy to survive, in contrast to the Pentium 4.  Even the PowerPC G5 wasn't incredibly ravenous.  It would be good to see a laptop computer that supposedly can last 7 hours on battery last more than 12.

I was reading something about nVidia's 600 series GPUs being re-badged with higher numbers for 2013.  Whatever Apple decides to use, I'm sure they'll be somewhat more powerful, but careful to conserve battery life.  The 650M graphics hardware in my machine can drain the battery so much faster than the Intel HD 4000 hardware, but then, there is so much difference in performance.  The HD 4000 uses less juice, but is it nearly as efficient?  I'd think it isn't.  Intel bought a third rate graphics hardware company to "help" the industry and they haven't really made a lot of progress with it.  It's still quite laughable.  How AMD/ATI and nVidia continue to dominate without tripping over the patents of each other is amazing.

So, when Monday afternoon (GMT-4) arrives at 13:00, will I cringe that my computer has suddenly shifted into the past?  No, it's quite powerful and will be after any announcement.  It's all perspective, of course.  If you live for tomorrow, you'll miss today.

I've seen the details now and I suspect that my MacBook Pro is safe--there was no replacement today.  The MacBook Air people should be feeling the strain, as those machines were given the newest Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) Haswell processors.  The battery life on the bigger machine has improved to a rated 12 hours.  It's not as good as I would have expected but it's very good.  Once the new (Mac) OS X arrives in autumn, that should help also.

 Speaking of which, OS X Mavericks is the first Apple operating system to make me smile for a while.  They've actually been working on the functionality, instead of spending most of their time on eye candy.

Virtual Memory has long been a problem for Mac OS X.  Considering that Mac OS X has had its roots in the Mach (micro-)kernel project and BSD UNIX, it's a wonder that Virtual Memory would have ever been a problem.  The various BSD-based operating systems (OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD) have been really stable.

Apple, in their infinite wisdom, thought that they could fix the world with an enhancement and it's been hell ever since.  I used to be a PowerMac user with the fastest (Ultra) SCSI hard drives and the virtual memory swapping was always at the wrong time.  I suppose for most people using a web browser and e-mail client, it wasn't a problem.  However, I've been at the edge of free memory far too often--even on my newest machine with 16 GB of RAM.

I'm hoping that this new Memory Compression technique will put things right.  It says a lot about processor power when they can do such a thing.  Back when the Motorola 68000 series processors were new, virtual memory was something only big business machines would do.  Motorola came out with an add-on that allowed virtual memory, but when you consider how slow all of the components were, it was much better to limit memory space to available RAM--16 MB or 4 GB.  Of course, the 16 MB limit of the 68000 was rarely used.  It was more likely restricted to 4 MB by an artificial limit.

Replacing the networking hardware was an expected change, as they were a bit behind the times already.  It's not that everyone has been running to stores to find 802.11ac (Gigabit WiFi) equipment, but the major vendors already have it out there.

In any case, Apple are finally pushing toward the future again, having put it on pause earlier.

Update 2013.07.21: Apple are in the middle of a Back-to-School clearance, so there is no new iPhone, iPod touch, Mac Book Pro, etc. until supplies are exhausted.  I suppose it's good for all involved but once a year changes aren't really enough to keep up with other companies.  I thought that Apple were trying to be more flexible.  Hopefully, they'll also have enough displays for a high density iPad mini, but I wouldn't bet on anything, given all the delays.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

(Mac) OS X 10.8.4 seems to be much better

Call me a skeptic and call me cynical but I've been deceived so many times that Apple has fixed things that I don't believe anyone else.  It's my belief that by 10.x.4, the version of the operating system is finally stable.

Mac OS X 10.3.4 finally had a decent amount of functionality and stability that I could abandon Mac OS 9.x, for instance.  10.4.4 and 10.5.4 signalled some great stability, although 10.5.x was a step backward for PowerPC-based machines.  The speed and stability was in 10.4.10.

I pretty much considered Leopard (10.5.x) a disaster.  It improved the pathetic performance on Intel-based machines to fair, while ruining it for PowerPC-based machines.  It was about this time that Avie Tevanian left the company.  If he was frustrated with Scott Forstall, I could understand that.

Snow Leopard (10.6.x) for Intel-based machines only, was a step in the right direction, as it seemed to make one faction happy--the new (often iPhone-related ) Mac buyers, who had no legacy equipment.  I have a 2009 MacBook that works pretty well with it, especially compared to my hobbled late 2004 PowerBook on Leopard.

Blah blah blah...I'm trying to establish some background but I write too much that may not interest anyone.  Sorry!

Anyway, Apple developed Lion to be a little this, a little that and Mountain Lion to improve on it.

I'm still a little uncomfortable with Mountain Lion because as soon as I connect my trackball the interface changes and some applications have a dual mode to deal with the new scrolling and scroll bars, etc.

My number one gripe with Mountain Lion is the delay.  I've got a 2.6 GHz i7 processor with 16GB of RAM and a 480 GB SSD.  It's nearly as fast as you can go--and there have been huge delays from 10.8.0 to 10.8.3.  There have been delays starting applications and delays quitting them.  10.8.4 seems to erase the delays.  Update 2013.06.10: talking to a buddy with a MacBook Pro with nVidia 320M graphics hardware, there is no noticeable enhancement.

I'm interested to see how it handles when I have 1000 photos to transfer from a CompactFlash or SD card and then, attempt to process them.  Usually, the fans start running and the temperature rises to near 100 degrees C--too hot--unless it's iStat Menus that can't count.  That was with the cooling pad running beneath the machine.  I switched to a 3 fan cooler from Targus and it helps a bit more.

I suspect that this is next to the last update for 10.8, since WWDC is next week.  I wish they'd fix iOS 6.x because I hate seeing notifications that show up 13 hours later.  Instead, they'll foist an additional set of problems upon us, and those who can't upgrade will be lost without security updates even.  I'm not being cynical--that's just history.

Update 2013.09.03: Geez, waiting for an update to anything, despite security issues, can be hell.   It's been about three months, and I see weekly reports about 10.8.5 but nothing.  There have been a couple of security updates, but nothing much to fix bugs.  I've been finding more and more than the 2012 MacBook Pro and 10.8.4 won't work with my USB thumb drives.  There seem to be conflicts with USB drivers that weren't there before the 10.8.4 update.  As a backup, I tried the same thumb drives with 10.6.8 on the 2009 MacBook and it worked just as well as it did previously.  I just need to make the data available to multiple machines.

It shouldn't be a surprise that an operating system fix breaks as many things as it fixes.  In any case, September 10th is coming, and there is an expected announcement of the new iPhone models, but computers (other than MacBook Air, already updated) should be updated and operating systems should see updates.  There will likely be iOS 7.0, as there will be new devices, but (Mac) OS X 10.9 should be available also, and possibly 10.8.5.  I certainly need fixes.

Update 2013.11.25: Time has come and gone.  10.8.5 and 10.9 and iOS 7.0.4 are all out.  Updated devices came along and 10.9 will help immensely with battery life.  10.8.5 will help with overall stability.

I've been considering a change to 10.9.x but I want to wait until it's fairly stable, especially when doing such a large download.  I might put it on the 2009 MacBook.  It's supposed to be a bit more conservative overall, so it might work better than 10.6.8, though I have my doubts.  I'd rather test it on a not so critical machine than to upset my workflow, even though Mountain Lion could use some fixing.

Apple's iOS Maps fixed?

In the last few weeks I've used Apple's maps a few times.  The only time they failed me was when they were given the incorrect address.

When I originally used Apple's Map app with Google maps, I was doubtful about Google's maps because the directions Google had given me previously often put me several blocks away of my destination.  So, when I switched to an iPhone, I went with a Telenav app because their apps on my various phones got me where I was going.

However, I was confused when I first used their app on the iPhone.  I was getting strange directions and a couple of roads were called "country road" instead of their names.  I realized something--the Navteq that I saw in my feature phone versions of the Telenav GPS app now said TomTom.

I was trying to get to a shopping center in New Jersey, just south of the George Washington Bridge but I hadn't been there for several years and I took a wrong exit in Fort Lee.  I started the Telenav app and it immediately told me to "turn around", which always seemed its favourite thing to say.  I worked out where I was and found the road, but the app wouldn't shut up, even after I closed it.

So, I tried other apps like Waze trying to find something that worked for me.  Waze was cute and was helpful in avoiding trouble but wasn't helpful in navigating.  It was better as a live map to view traffic backups.  However, it would ask me if I was in heavy traffic when I was at a red light.  Once I finished my trip, I removed it and have never used it again.  Here is an interesting tidbit: Google supposedly has bought Waze and Apple never bid too seriously on the company.

Telenav and my memory have worked pretty well, but I hesitated to subscribe again.  Since my new car and Bluetooth connection, the audio doesn't seem to work, which is most of the reason for the subscription.  Of course, Telenav doesn't have a problem...ever.

That brought me back to the Apple app.  It uses the same TomTom maps, which is both a blessing and a curse.  It has given me easy audio directions, plus an easy to understand display that doesn't shift with the orientation of the phone.  It has worked well and got me where I needed to go without trouble.  The roads now have the correct name.  The best thing about it is that it works well with a 2G data connection.

What's that mean?  Too many times, I've been between cities and I get slow map updates or none at all.  The GPS knows exactly where I am because that's independent of cellular data, but figuring out where I am (other than "here") is impossible.

I suppose Apple has forced TomTom to get their act together and that's a good thing for anyone using the TomTom maps.

Update 2013.06.17: Since I've been back in Philly and Jersey, I've been using navigation more.  I think TomTom's maps in Jersey are just not very good.  I can't blame them for not being able to handle jughandles, but they need to get me into the correct lane before the intersection, not when I'm unable to switch.  I had quite a bit of fun getting from Freehold Raceway Mall back to Northeast Philly via Trenton but it did save me the bridge toll.  If I'd been using gasoline, I'd probably have burned up the money I'd have spent on bridge toll looping around the bridge, though.

I used Waze on the trip from Ohio to Philly and into Jersey.  It finally knows about stop lights!!  I complained when I first used it last year that it would ask me why there was a slowdown but there was no red light button to tap.  Now, it shows the stop lights.  However, it still asks the same question about slowdowns where a stop light has not been added at an intersection and there is still no button to tap.  Recently, at a major intersection in Ohio, it asked if there was a slowdown while I was sitting at the red light.  I replied "stop light" in the comment.  I got an e-mail later that it was unresolved "The map problem you reported on Waze on Jul 7, (stop light) has been reviewed by benjaminmeyer2013 but wasn't resolved, most likely due to insufficient information or non-exact location."  They pointed me to the position on the map editor, but I have no way to add stop lights.  smh  Why lesser intersections show stop lights and that one doesn't--I'll never know.  I have somehow activated the voice recognition a number of times but I'm not sure how to do that.  It never seems to work when I want.  It must be me.

Update 2013.08.18: Having been 5702 miles to San Jose, California and back, I've had a chance to use Apple's Maps and Waze more extensively.  Both become confused and apparently, there is also a problem with compass interference with my iPhone 4S, as it regularly switches directions when I stop--or an app complains about compass interference.  This could be my substantial electro-magnetic field or just some typical flaw in circuitry.  Who knows?

For the most part, the apps worked well and either could get me where I wanted to go.  I thought that the Apple/TomTom data was somewhat more reliable and straightforward, especially in San Jose.  I tried using navigation for a few miles and a few hundred miles.  When there were more intricacies on city streets, Apple/TomTom got me there but with the compass interference, I had to ignore some of the instructions when stopped.  Waze was better at ignoring the compass interference, but maybe because it decided on odd routes.

I never did really get the hang of walking navigation until it was too late.  I really had trouble in San Francisco and I might as well have been using a paper map.  That said, I got to see a lot of the city that was interesting, but my feet got more action than they should have.

I still don't understand why Apple didn't purchase the company behind Waze.  They're apparently working on this crowd-sourced information anyway, so it would have been a quicker step, but as quickly as Google has integrated the information into Google Maps, I'd think that they were working with Waze for a year beforehand, and the purchase was just the formality of it all.

Update 2014.02.22: I was using Yelp, which uses Apple's Maps application.  The Maps application told me to turn a certain way onto the highway.  The only problem is that there was no entrance there.  I was in a shopping mall parking lot a few hundred feet from the road, and I had to go the opposite direction to exit the mall.

Since the last update, I bought an iPhone 5c.  Today, I noticed the same direction switching.  It doesn't happen nearly as often.  It happened twice, rather than at every intersection.

Apple has bought several transit mapping companies, including the people behind the Embark apps.  I was using one in California.  I still don't know if they've made any progress with their Maps application but it was amusing today. 

Update 2015.12.08: I just saw article-after-article about Apple Maps being the dominant maps on iOS.  Obviously, Google Maps are used more overall.   That shouldn't surprise anyone since Android is in many more places.  There are certainly quite a few US$50.00 and cheaper Android-based phones for prepaid service.

I don't use Apple Maps that often.  Usually, I'm using Waze, which is owned by Google.  Waze is somewhat problematic, thinking that I want to head into freeway traffic jams, rather than faster local roads.  Apple Maps has been particularly bad about not having shopping center entrances mapped and telling me to make a U-turn at the next street.

They're both a pain, in that they lag enough that they don't tell me in time, when I'm leaving a parking lot, to be on the opposite side of the road for a maneuver.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sad to see the Camino browser ended

Camino, the Mac-only web browser has been around since the early days of Mac OS X, when it began as Chimera.

It was the inspiration for Phoenix, which became Firebird, which became Firefox.

For those who don't remember, Netscape Navigator became Communicator with much more than just a web browser, and is now Sea Monkey.  It became bloated with version 6, as they tried to create a better way to handle the web and its changes.

Camino came along just in time for many early users on Mac OS X.  We had the laughable Internet Explorer 5.x, based on Spyglass' Mosaic, that wasn't really compatible with Internet Explorer-focused sites even.  The OmniGroup brought us OmniWeb, which had been on NeXTStep for quite a while.  That platform being where the web started.

Camino gave us Mozilla/Netscape compatibility in a very responsive browser.  It was everything a Mac application should have been and showed the potential for the platform in ways that Apple's development never has.  Of course, as the years have passed, there are very good releases of Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome to supplant Camino.

I often tried Camino but as of Firefox 2.0, there was no further need for me.  Yes, it was incredibly responsive in comparison to all of the other available browsers I tried, but stability was a major issue for me.  As the team integrated changes from Firefox, Camino tended to crash more.  Firefox wasn't incredibly stable at 2.x but it was better overall.

I tend to keep Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome on my system and updated because there will be incompatibilities, even though they're minimal now.  Firefox to me is as good as they come, but Chrome works well and Opera is no longer weird, and Safari is a browser you need to keep but may not ever use, except to change preferences for the browser.

In any case, I salute the developers and various testers of Camino.  They made Mac OS X life so much easier way back when.  May they find something even more interesting to keep them busy.