Apple devices obsolete after 18 months?

The original IPad was the current model until superceded by the iPad 2 in March 2011. 18 months later Apple are no longer providing IOS updates for the iPad 1 and app updates are appearing which require a minimum of IOS 6 and cannot therefore be installed.

I appreciate devices can’t be supported for ever but making devices obsolete after 18 months is totally unacceptable.

Will you buy an Apple device now that you know it may not be fully functional in 18 months time?

Wot, no blogs? Teaching and the fun of the Fair

The eagle-eyed will have noticed a distinct lack of blogging here since November and some have even phoned to query the lack of activity. I can confirm I am alive and able to type but some consultancy, web site coding, Christmas, New Year and other excuses have all contributed to the blackout.
Since we last ‘met’ I have been asked to teach IT for Sutton Library Services and ‘standing in the wrong place at the wrong time’ has also lead to my appointment as Organiser for the 2012 Cheam Charter Fair.
Teaching IT has proved to be interesting and rewarding, allowing me to pass on over 38 years of IT experience to those starting out. It also provides an opportunity to meet new people and network with other Council staff.
In rugby terms the Fair role could be described as a ‘hospital pass’ but it is likewise providing an opportunity to meet people and network. In addition it has also required me to hone my WordPress, marketing, Social Media and diplomacy skills. With my background it was inevitable that IT would be at the heart of the job so within four hours of accepting the pass role I had bought a domain name, set up a web site and created accounts for Facebook and Twitter. The use of Social Media for the Fair has confirmed its power but also reminded me there are still organisations and individuals out there who can’t be reached via the Internet, and are losing out because of it – an interesting link back to the teaching role.

iPad, out on Safari

What, no zebras? Sorry for those expecting some heavy-duty wildlife gracefully chasing across the African plains but I’m talking about the Safari browser on Apple mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone.
Have you ever typed something into a form on a web page then nipped off to get some information from your contacts then returned to your browser to find all your typing has disappeared? I have lost count of the number of times I have suffered from this on my iPad and iPhone, although my neighbors may have a count as they hear my screams of anguish as I lose half an hour’s work.
The last time it happened I finally decided to look into what was going on and see if I could solve the problem. After almost 40 years fighting with computers I should have known better.
Having done some research I came to the conclusion that this problem, or ‘facility’ as Apple might phrase it, is caused by the device having insufficient memory to store all the information within the various browser tabs you have opened. The wise people at Apple therefore decided they would throw everything away when you move away from Safari then read it all again from each web site when you return. A cunning plan, except, anything you typed on a form in your browser, but hadn’t submitted to the web site, is lost! If you are on a mobile connection it will also mean delay and a higher data bill.
OK, I now know what is happening but how can I get around it? A look around the App store and a wander around the Internet led me to install three other browsers on my iPad. These were chosen because others seem to think they are worth a go, and they are free! I don’t mind paying for something but I do object to paying to try something out. Come on App writers, give us a free ‘Lite’ version so that we can try your App out before committing to a purchase.
First I tried Opera as it has been around for a while so should be reliable. Bad start; I decided to fill in an online form relating to a planning application which, after much typing, failed to work. So, back to Safari, made sure I didn’t leave the page and all worked fine. Bye, bye Opera, the fat lady has sung.
Some good reviews for the Diigo browser, it looks like Chrome, result! Well no; I was starting to like it but after a while I realised it has the same problem as Safari, it reloads the pages each time you return to the browser.
Finally I tried the free Lite version of Mercury which is limited to two browser tabs if you don’t want to pay. This doesn’t seem to reload pages and otherwise seems fine so I have a candidate for Safari replacement!
Er, no I haven’t, this is of course IT and in particular Apple IT so real world rules of logic don’t apply. If you click on a link in an App such as Mail, Facebook or Twitter it will conveniently let you open the link in a browser, any guesses which browser? Well done the lady at the back, the answer is SAFARI! Can I adjust a setting to convince it to use Mercury instead? Of course not, in Apple land you do things their way, so unless you want to ‘jailbreak‘ your device you are stuck with Safari and losing work if you dare to nip over to another App.
My current ‘halfway house’ plan is to use Safari when it makes me and Mercury when it doesn’t but please let me know if you have a better idea.

It’s good to talk, but how?

I say ‘talk’ but I was actually thinking about sending messages electronically rather than getting the vocal chords vibrating; the title just didn’t seem to work with ‘message’. So, to get to the point, I want to send someone a message from my iPhone, how should I do it?
Well, I could send a text and as long as the intended recipient has a mobile phone we are in business. The down side is it will cost me money and, from experience, they may not get the message until tomorrow or they may not get it at all.
How about Facebook Messenger? I can send a message, and even a photo, plus we can all get together and have a group bonding messaging session. Ah, my friend doesn’t use Facebook, back to the text.
Hold on though, after wasting a couple of hours of my life I installed IOS 5 on my phone yesterday; part of the reason I had no time to blog. This shiny new version of my phone’s software includes the new Apple iMessage facility which allows you to send messages! Oh no it doesn’t, unless the person at the other end has an Apple device with IOS 5 on it.
I could spend ages working through the various messaging options available to me but it seems whichever I choose I will need to know more about the person at the other end than I actually do. Is Great Aunt Eric on Facebook or IOS 5, does she (or he, I’m not even sure about that) use Google Messenger/talk/chat or whatever it is called?
We now have numerous ways to send messages to people IF we know what THEY use, otherwise it seems we are stuck with a text – I just hope it arrives!

Cloud without a silver lining

Many international IT companies are changing their business model with the aim of selling their software and services using a Cloud Computing model and others are providing server farms to support this strategy. As an example Microsoft are trying to sell us their Cloud based Office 365 service as an alternative to buying copies of Microsoft Office for installation on our office or home computer.
Cloud based services are, in theory, a great idea but they are dependent on the end user having a suitable internet connection to the computers of their service supplier. Here is the major flaw in what should be a perfect solution, the internet connection.
In the UK we generally have a choice between an ‘up to a lot’ megabit Broadband service which often delivers ‘not a lot’ (have you tried broadband in rural areas?) or a solution based on the mobile phone network. The mobile phone network may provide reasonable speeds if you are stationary and in an area with good network coverage but move around and you will find how patchy the coverage really is.
Both types of broadband connectivity are likely to have a poor service level agreement (SLA) so be prepared for you network connection, and therefore your access to your services in the Cloud, to be missing for days at a time if things go wrong. If you have lots of money you could go for a fibre connection with an SLA appropriate for your needs but I suspect the the numbers who are being sold Cloud solutions are lower than those who have appropriate Internet connections.
So, where does that leave us? Good question, but the answer is less easy. In reality we probably have a lot of sellers of Cloud solutions who won’t meet their sales targets, customers who will have to live with enforced multi-day holidays while they wait for their broadband to be fixed and broadband suppliers who will be under increasing pressure to get their act together to supply the service their customers need at a realistic price.
So, before you float off into the Cloud, away from PC based solutions, make sure you have a cunning plan that will stop your business grinding to a halt while you have no broadband connection.

I want to be a fly on the wall at Apple

It has been interesting watching the build up and launch for the new Apple iPhone. Web sites have been ‘leaking’ the launch date for months, and getting it wrong, and we have been told of the new shape of the phone and its cases even though the body has stayed the same as the iPhone 4.
I’ve always felt the iPhone 4 body was a good design and didn’t need much change so Apple’s decision to keep the same shell for the iPhone 4S but improve what’s in it seems a sensible decision. But (and it is a BIG but) after a longer than usual wait consumers were ready, credit card in hand, to buy a sexy, leading edge iPhone 5 not an iPhone 4S. From a marketing point of view I find the launch of the iPhone 4S rather puzzling, and from Apple’s point of view, very risky.
Coming to the title of this piece, I really would like to have been that fly on the wall at Apple towers so that I could find out WHY they took so long and such a huge risk in going for the ‘sensible’ 4S rather than the sexy, leading edge iPhone 5 that the industry and consumers had expected.