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The Committed Podcast Talks iPhone

The Committed Podcast Icon 1400x1400 01On this week’s episode of The Committed podcast, Ian Schray, Rob Griffiths and I talk about the iPhone 6. Not much else. Because the iPhone 6 was the news of the week. As we were recording, iOS 8 was released, so we didn’t talk much about that. But we did talk about the iPhone 6. And phone contracts, unlocked phone, and the iPhone 6.

Listen to The Committed, Episode 50: Nonplussed.

And on next week’s episode, Ian and I should each have received an iPhone 6, and we’ll talk more about the iPhone 6, this time with some hands-on discussions. Rob, having ordered an iPhone 6 Plus, won’t have much to say…

Hide Recent Contacts or Favorites in iOS 8 App Switcher Screen

One of the new features in iOS 8 is the ability to see little icons for favorite contacts and recent contacts in the App Switcher screen. You display this screen by double-tapping your iOS device’s home button; you’ll see these icons at the top of the screen, first Favorites – which you have marked as favorites in Contacts – then Recent Contacts.

I don’t like this idea, and I’ve found, judging from some Twitter conversations today, that I’m not alone. So here’s how to disable the feature, wholly or partially.

Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts & Calendars, then scroll down to Contacts. Tap Show in App Switcher, then you’ll have toggles for Phone Favorites and Recents. Turn off either or both.


2014-09-18 15.35.35.png     2014-09-18 15.35.37.png

Do this, and you won’t be bothered by those annoying icons at the top of the screen any more. I like having my favorites display; it’s a quick way to make a call or send a text message. But I really don’t want to see all my recent contacts. In most cases, these are not people I need to contact again, at least right away.

Change Screen Resolution on Headless OS X Server

I recently set up my old Mac mini as a server. I replaced it a few months ago with a Mac Pro, and wanted to muck around with OS X Server, taking advantage of some of its features, especially centralized Time Machine backups and software download and update caching.

I set up the server, but, since I’m running it headless – with no attached display – I could only view it in one resolution using OS X’s screen sharing feature. If the Mac mini runs headless, the GPU, not detecting any display, doesn’t activate.

There’s a way around this, however, and it’s pretty simple. I bought this CompuLab HDMI Plug with Remote Desktop Access, or 4K Display Emulator (the name is different on the two Amazon sites, Amazon.com and Amazon UK). This $25/£21 dongle fits in the Mac mini’s HDMI port, and emulates the presence of a display. With this attached, there are a number of different resolutions, from 1360 x 768 to 4088 x 2304.

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I’ve chosen a low resolution, since running it at, say, 4K resolution makes interface elements so tiny that I can’t do anything. The only downside to me is that all the resolutions are 16:9; I’d have preferred something with less width.

This is a really simple solution to an annoying problem. If you’re running a headless OS X server, you should definitely get one of these. It will make your life a lot easier.

Apple Working on New Music Format with U2? Take Such Rumors with Many Grains of Salt

u2_timeintcover0929.jpgTime is reporting that Apple is working on a new music format with U2.

Bono tells TIME he hopes that a new digital music format in the works will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music—whole albums as well as individual tracks.

Any comment such as this should be taken with many grains of salt. A “music format” is something such as MP3, AAC, FLAC, or other codecs used to create digital files from music. There are no good reasons to create a “new” music format, and many downsides to doing so. As the article says:

The point isn’t just to help U2 but less well known artists and others in the industry who can’t make money, as U2 does, from live performance.

This seems to have nothing to do with a new music format, but rather some new way of packaging digital music, similar to the iTunes LP format, which, for the most part, has been ignored.

I can’t fathom what sort of packaging of digital music would help artists who don’t make money from touring, but don’t count on it being anything like high-resolution music.

Who’s Going to Make a Dvorak Keyboard for iOS 8?

Just curious. If anyone’s got plans, get in touch. I’m a long-time Dvorak user on my Mac – getting on 20 years – and it’d be great to have a Dvorak layout on iOS.

Update: iOS 8 is out, and I don’t see any Dvorak keyboards yet. Reviews of the Fleksy keyboard say that it can use alternate layouts, including Dvorak, but nothing in their horrible documentation explains how to do this, and I don’t see anything in the settings. Has anyone figured out how to change the layout in Fleksy?

Kindle Family Library: Share Your Kindle Books with Family Members

One thing that has kept me from buying more ebooks is the inability to share them with my partner. In the US, you can share Kindle ebooks, on a one-off basis, but it’s not a simple process. Here in the UK, there is no such feature.

I noticed a new feature listed on Amazon’s Kindle Voyage page called Family Library. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

Safari001.png

This is something I’d been hoping for for quite some time. Now, if one of us buys a Kindle ebook, the other can read it. It’s not yet clear if this means we can both read it at the same time, but I would guess that it will function like that. It’s also not clear if this is specific to the Kindle Voyage; I don’t think it would be. But with this feature, I’m more likely to buy ebooks in the future.

My Kindle Paperwhite’s Cracked Screen Has Healed Itself

I couple of months ago, I cracked my Kindle Paperwhite’s screen. I tossed it on my bed, one day, and it landed on my iPhone, making a nasty crack with spidery lines extending a few inches. It wasn’t broken, but there was no way I could read on that device; it was too distracting.

So, I put it aside and bought a new one (in part, thanks to Amazon offering me a 20% discount, after I inquired whether the Kindle could be repaired). Today, I went to check it out, thinking that my partner, who is happy to read a non-backlit Kindle, might want to use it. The cracks only showed up when the light was on, so I thought that she might want to use it with the light off.

I charged it for a bit, entered my PIN, then, much to my surprise, the crack is gone. If I look really close, I can see a whitish spot where the contact point was, but the rest of the crack is gone. I don’t know why this happened, but my guess is that whatever liquid is in the screen filled the spaces, and did so seamlessly, hiding the crack. I don’t know how long it took for this to “heal,” but it’s been a couple of months. (I regret that I hadn’t taken any photos of the screen to be able to show before and after views…)

So, if you have a Kindle Paperwhite with a cracked screen, hold on to it. You may find, as I did, that it will self-heal after a while.

New Kindle Voyage Offers Higher Resolution; But Will It Have Better Fonts?

Kindle voyageAmazon has announced a new Kindle, the Kindle Voyage (odd name…) that is due to ship in November. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) A bit smaller than the Kindle Paperwhite, this device boasts a higher screen resolution (300 ppi compared to 212 pip for the Paperwhite), and an adaptive light, so the screen light will vary according to your ambient lighting. There are also page-turn buttons in the device’s frame, on either side of the page, which provide haptic feedback.

This device is a bit lighter than the Paperwhite, but also more expensive: at $199, that’s a big step up from the $119 Paperwhite. (The difference is less here in the UK; the Paperwhite is £109, and the Voyage £169.) It’s not clear whether many people will pay $200 for an ebook reader, but I’m pretty sure that there are enough die-hard Kindle users who will welcome the new device.

One question I have is this: will it have better fonts? I’ve written about how I’d like to see more fonts, and sizes, on the Kindle and in Kindle apps, and seeing the company making a screen with a much better resolution makes me think that this will, for the most part, be wasted if they continue using the same clunky fonts.

We won’t know for a month or so, but I sincerely hope that Amazon makes e-reading a better experience through improved fonts. It’s one of the things I dislike about the Kindle; the fact that the fonts just aren’t very book-like.

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