Battery dramas fuel finger-pointing – but are they pointing the wrong way?
By David BRAUE
So, it's over 16 hours since I unplugged my brand-spankers iPhone 4S, and it still has 62 percent battery charge.
I have not, to be fair, set the battery on a course to self-destruction by loading 30 games and network-intensive social-media apps at once. Nor have I watched scads of movies in a row while furiously texting and browsing the Net to look up in-movie references.
No, I have, mainly, sent a number of messages, made some phone calls, done some Twitter reading on Tweetdeck, and tried – mostly unsuccessfully – to engage Siri in a bit of raunchy dialogue; I haven't had this many rejections since high school.
By all accounts, I'm among the lucky ones. If online reports are to be believed, the iPhone 4S is sucking down power like a WAG at an open-bar awards night – and doing it within minutes. The SMH, for example, quotes an anonymous Apple Store employee who says battery life on his phone was "dropping 10 per cent an hour even with non important location settings, Siri, Bluetooth, and other features switched off."
All batteries wear out eventually. How quickly, though, isn't entirely out of your control. [Pic: CC BY-SA 3.0]
Horses for courses, I guess, but I have Siri, Bluetooth, WiFi, Google Web mail, and iCloud set up, and nothing seems to have gone feral on my battery life. Which begs the question: what are those suffering bad battery life doing so wrong?
A post at Computerworld may shed some light: "It's getting to the point where a lazy blogger can't get through a night without their Sleep Cycle app lapsing into the land of Nod at about the five hour mark," journalist Andrew Birmingham noted.
Which is interesting, because Sleep Cycle specifically recommends that users run it through the night with the phone plugged in. Even older iPhones would struggle to run nearly any app for six to ten hours while continuously reading the phone's motion sensors and collecting data on the user's movement.
So, is the problem the phone, or what people are expecting it to do?
Some observers are suggesting the issue is not so much with the iPhone 4S hardware, as with iOS 5. This is entirely possible: any major software update invariably includes bugs small and large, and there's no reason to assume iOS 5 is any different. There is also, by the way, no reason to assume that other mobile OSes – Google's Ice Cream Sandwich, for example – will be any better.
It's always interesting to see how quickly users are willing to rush and attack the new device for which they slept out overnight, often failing to consider that it may be their own usage patterns causing the trouble. Vendors promise battery life based on observed milliamp draw mixed, one would assume, with the results of real-world testing – but every smartphone user worth his or her salt knows that closing non-essential apps, turning off unused wireless features, disabling location services for all but frequently-used apps, and other tricks can extend battery life.
It's also important to consider that the network may well be the problem: Mrs Carry, for example, recently brought her Optus-connected iPhone 3GS overseas and found the battery repeatedly running down within an hour while trying to lock onto a carrier signal. The phone, which was running iOS 4.2 and not the version being blamed on the iPhone 4S, simply tried over and over and over again, burning through precious battery power within about half an hour – but it then returned to normal battery consumption after it was brought back to Australia and its home network.
We love to blame technology for our problems, but it's also important to consider the implications of the way we use it. And while time may prove that iOS 5 needs a bit of tweaking to run optimally, there seems to be a lot of jumping-to-conclusions going on in this particular instance. As Eric Clapton famously pointed out: it's in the way that you use it.
How has your battery been going? Perhaps you've gotten battery problems on other platforms? And what tricks have you found to extend its life?
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From black & white to Blu-ray we have come a long way. So why aren't Microsoft tagging along?
By David HAGUE
Over the weekend, I had the joy of seeing video from both ends of the scale. A friend of mine has an elderly father who enjoys watching old war documentaries that he has on VHS and she had asked me to transfer a half dozen of them to DVD.
There are many solutions to this, but my option was to transfer to miniDV in my old but efficient Sony TRV 10E and then capturing those via Firewire into Sony Vegas. A bit of chop chop and all well and good. A render to DVD was around 2 hours per 1 hour of footage.
Next was taking some of my old footage of my European travels a few years back (shot on tape on my Canon XHA1) and transferring this to Blu-ray disc.
Finally was watching a Blu-ray video of “Paul” from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It’s a great and funny homage to lots of science fiction and other fillums (“My name is Agent Zoyle, but you can call me Lorenzo. Lorenzo Zoyle!”)
Without question, on a big screen TV (a Sony Bravia 52”) being driven by a Sony Blu-ray player, the image and audio is fantastic.
I now consider that Blu-ray is indeed the future, as much as there is one in this nutty industry. The big question is why on earth Microsoft won’t join it? That would make Windows Media Center the complete package and obliterate any opposition.
Can anyone at Microsoft get back to us?
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Google wants to look inside your business
By Ian GRAYSON
It sparked controversy when it first sent Streetview cars down city streets, but now Google wants to send its cameras inside where you work.
The company has launched a service called Business Photos which gives businesses the option of having the inside of their premises photographed. The photos will be added to the Google Maps service, allowing web searchers to see not only the outside of a business but also what it has to offer behind its doors.
The service is being offered in selected cities around the world. In Australia, businesses in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Darwin can apply for the special treatment.
Google has established relationships with professional photographers in each of the cities. A business can apply for inclusion and, if selected by Google, be visited by the photographer who will take the necessary images.
While any business can apply, Google says it is most interested in capturing the types of businesses that people are likely to be searching for. These include things like restaurants, hotels, shops, and gyms. If you're an accounting practice or a conveyancing firm, you're probably a little further down the list.
The move is an interesting one and will add yet another layer of data to Google's impressive mapping service.
Will you be offering your business up for a Google photo shoot?
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Quickflix all-you-can eat movies - the final frontier?
By Adam TURNER
Will the Quickflix movie deal open the flood gates on Australian subscription services?
I’ve long felt that all-you-can-eat subscription services are the way of the future, ever since I got my first taste of Rhapsody's all-you-can-eat music via the amazing Sonos player. I’d say such deals are one of the industry’s best weapons against piracy. Make it easier to pay for content than steal it and most people will do the right thing.
All-you-can subscription services have been pretty thin on the ground in Australia, I’d say primarily due to the difficulty in negotiating such deals with the movie houses which don’t see Australia as a priority. Now Quickflix is paving the way - coming to Mac, Windows, the PlayStation 3 and Sony’s Bravia Internet Video platform built into its TVs and Blu-ray players. QuickFlix is offering unlimited movie streaming to Australian customers for $14.99 per month, according to the SMH.
Sony already had the best internet video offering of Australian Blu-ray players, and Quickflix is the icing on the cake. Buying up Telstra’s old DVD rental customers looks like a smart long-term strategy. Now Quickflix can smoothly migrate them to movie downloads when it suits them.
There’s talk of Quickflix coming to the X-Box next year, and Quickflix founder Stephen Langsford has previously told me he’s even got his eye on the iPad. This is great news because hopefully we’ll see it come to other devices as well. Quickflix would complete the otherwise brilliant WD TV Live Hub and Boxee Box, not to mention the great IceTV-capable PVRs on the market from the likes of Humax, Strong, Topfield and Beyonwiz. It could even come to the Apple TV, considering it offers Netflix access in the US.
Meanwhile Fetch TV has struck an interesting deal with Optus that will see it in a lot more Australian lounge rooms. All of these new services will get a major shot in the arm when the NBN breaks Telstra’s strangehold while delivering faster internet access and multi-casting to most Australian homes.
Quickflix’s move into online movie rentals is a significant milestone in Australia’s move to embrace online content delivery. It's also another nail in the coffin for arrogant free-to-air broadcasters who still think they can dictate our viewing habits.
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Tsunami Trojan multiplies Mac malware misfortunes
By Stephen WITHERS
As if multiple versions of the Flashback Trojan (including one that disables the malware check built into Mac OS X's file quarantine system) weren't enough, security software companies ESET and Sophos say a new piece of Mac malware based on the Kaiten Trojan for Linux has been discovered.
Tsunami appears to be primarily a tool for mounting DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks, but it also has the ability to execute shell commands (effectively providing remote control of the computer) and to download additional files, which could include more malware or updates for Tsunami itself.
What nobody seems to be saying is how Tsunami presents itself - after all the nature of a Trojan is that it poses as one think while actually carrying out a completely different function.
So at the moment, we don't know what to look out for. Not a very satisfactory state of affairs, especially for those who don't use antivirus software on their Macs. At least Sophos offers its Mac software free of charge for home use.
Postscript: Intego describes Tsunami as a "hacker tool" that "requires installation" - something very different to a Trojan. Maybe that's why the other companies didn't describe Tsunami passing itself off as providing some other functionality, which is the defining characteristic of a Trojan.
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