Monday, August 27, 2012

Implications of Apple's lawsuit win over Samsung

It is a sad day indeed when  anyone can claim copyright over how a device or an appliance looks and operates. Take the case of Apple's lawsuit against Samsung. These are what Apple claims copyright ownership, for which Samsung has to pay US$1bil:

*(i) Apple’s bounce-back effect when a user tries to scroll beyond the end of a list or image; (ii) Apple’s pinching and zooming scroll feature; and (iii) Apple’s tap-to-zoom feature. Regarding design, Samsung infringed: (i) Apple’s iPhone’s face, screen and speaker slot; (ii) the ornamental design and shape of the iPhone’s face, rounded corners and bezel; and (iii) the icon arrangement on the home screen. 

Computerworld has a good article** on the implications of the Apple win over Samsung. I'd like to echo the same sentiments here. As a consumer, I like to see standardization. It actually promotes competition more than it stifles creativity. We are able to readily drive different cars because the brakes and pedals are all in the same place, to quote the Computerworld article. We are not locked in to any one brand of electrical appliances when they all look and work in a similar way. For Apple to claim copyright over how its iPhone looks and operates, this certainly violates our freedom to choose, and it creates a precedence when non-standardization becomes the norm. 

With Apple's win in mind, when you walk into the electrical shops next time, try to spot ANY appliance that does not in one way or the other imitate one another in looks and operating mode. How dare Apple! Perhaps we should all boycott Apple products. It has finally met its match and it wants to stifle its competitor, by hook or by crook. Such a company should not be allowed to exist. Shame on you, Apple.



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Notes to myself: How to unlock the Pocket Wifi

I have a Pocket Wifi E585 which had been locked to Vodafone. I have managed to unlock it using the procedure listed here: . I won't rehash what the author has so well documented. I'll just list down the difficulties I encountered and how to overcome them.

First of all, the steps documented in the given website are full and complete. This is my first attempt at unlocking a mobile device and I succeeded, thanks to the precise documentation given.

The only problem after unlocking was the constant connecting and disconnecting that happened over and over again, making it impossible to start using the wifi. A quick google search shows that the key to this is to set the correct APN (Access Point Name) on the Pocket Wifi settings. One of the many useful threads is this:

The website to get the correct APN for your service provider is: For example, for TPG Mobile, the APN is "internet". For Telstra, it is "telstra.internet"

Knowing what the APN is now, go back to the Pocket Wifi dashboard on your PC (with the Pocket Wifi connected) and set the APN in the Profile Settings and Connection Settings. You can set more than one profile. Apparently, only the correct one will be automatically selected and used. I had to do the APN settings many times before I finally got the right one to work. So don't give up if it doesn't work rightaway. You probably did not get the right APN into the right place.

Here is how I did my Profile setting (See image. Click to enlarge)

Notes to myself: Installing a micro SIM to an iPad

When I inserted my TPG micro SIM card into the iPad, I expected it to work right-away when I turned "Cellular" to ON in the iPad "Settings". However, it was not quite so simple.

First, I had to go to my TPG account, click on Mobile Service Control Panel for my designated phone, and ensure that "GPRS (data)" has been enabled.

Next, on the iPad cellular settings, I had to enter the APN, as well as the correct ID and password for my TPG account. APN stands for Access Point Name. For the different service providers in Australia, refer to: The APN for TPG is "internet".

(Disclaimer: I do not know if the above is repeatable. I got to this point after I successfully unlocked my Pocket Wifi E585, which had been previously locked to Vodafone. In the process of getting the Pocket Wifi to work, I also managed to get the iPad to work using the same micro SIM card.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What it really means to love Christ

Who do you think of when you try to imagine what a Christ-loving person is really like? What does it really mean to love Jesus? In some of the contemporary Christian songs (e.g. In Moments Like This, Lord I Give You My Heart, Draw Me Close To You, and Hear These Praises (Love you so much)), the lyrics sound like a person singing for his or her lover. This can lead one to think that to love Christ is to be in love with Christ.

Here is what Christ himself says about loving him. It is so important to get it right that he mentioned it several times in John 14. In this chapter, Jesus was comforting his disciples, knowing that he will soon be leaving them (to be crucified).

John 14:15: (Jesus said) "If you love Me, keep My commandments"

John 14:21: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me....."

John 14:24: "He who does not love Me does not keep My words ....."

From the above, Jesus clearly says that loving him is not just about saying "I love you". It is about keeping his commandments. He emphasized that to his disciples several times during the same session. Clearly, a person who loves Christ is a person who has Christ's commandments and keeps them. It is not a person who adorns images of Christ all over the place, who sings romantic love songs to his Saviour, and who has that love-struck look in his face.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My little camera shootout

I passed by a Harvey Norman shop last week and I saw an attractive looking camera on sale for AUD$52. I was really tempted to buy one just because it was too good to pass. I thought about this the whole week: how many people really need to have anything more than just an ordinary camera for 99% of their shooting needs? I am talking about happy snappers, of course. Think of people on vacation, parents photographing their babies, and grandparents recording every visit of their grandchildren. In such cases, will a very entry-level digicam suffice, or does one really need a mid-range or a high-end camera?

To satisfy my curiosity, I used three different cameras to shoot the same image under the same lighting condition. This is not a scientific experiment. I simply put all the settings to auto, focused on the same point, and tried to maintain the same focal distance and viewing angle. All the images shown here have not been post-processed or cropped in any way. They have only been sized down for posting to this blog.

Conclusion: All three images are sharp and the colours are good enough, although I must say the image from the 7 year old Canon Ixus looks less vibrant than the other two. I am satisfied now that I have a good reason to believe that most people do not really need anything more than a simple camera these days.

Image 1: Nikon D90 with kit lens (introduced 4 years ago)

Image 2: Samsung Galaxy S2 (introduced 1 year ago)

Image 3: Canon IXUS 50 (introduced 7 years ago)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pictures for instant gratification

It is fun to add effects to an image. The original shot is the one in the top left corner, shot using my Galaxy S2 phone. This is followed by the other Instagram-like images, which were made using Pixlr-o-matic and Aviary I like to use Instagram too, but it is not unique. In this particular case, the other apps did a better job. (Note: Click on the image for magnified view)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Christian love - is it boundless?

The following verse is often quoted about loving other people:
Matthew 5:43-44: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Christians are taught about unconditional love, sacrificial love, turning the other cheek, love is patient, love is kind, etc...... This is ingrained so much that we see Christians all over the world failing to take a stand when Christians are under attack for their belief. We also see charitable acts of Christians being blatantly taken advantage of (love is blind?).

The other day I came across this in Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV):
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

The Message bible translates it this way:
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

So, is Christian love boundless? It is my belief that Christian love is indeed boundless and free. However, it is important that the CARRYING OUT of Christian love should be guided and not be blind emotion. Inwardly, the Christian himself must be pure, blameless, and be filled with the fruit of the spirit in the way he loves.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Android camera, anyone?

A quick search for "camera" yielded me 31,575 apps in the Android market alone. That is an awful lot of cameras and camera-related apps. Imagine what you can do if you have an ordinary point-and-shoot camera that can be installed with any of these apps....

Let's suppose we take an ordinary point-and-shoot camera and build it on the Android platform, complete with built-in wifi for uploading to a sharing website. We would then be able to install any app to our hearts' content, and turn an ordinary camera into the most delightful companion that any photographer can ever dream of. Just keep installing a new app and you can turn your camera into an HDR camera, a pano camera, or a retro (effects) camera. You can also do on-camera post-processing using one of the countless number of processing apps. At the same time, the basic features of a basic camera are retained, such as a good flash unit, a good-sized sensor, an image stabilizer, good battery life, dedicated shutter-release button, and movie button. Perhaps, one can even include a fully manual mode for good measure.

Out of curiosity, I googled to see if an Android camera is already in existence. To my surprise, Polaroid actually introduced an Android camera named the SC1630 (see pictures below) at the CES tradeshow in January 2012. It actually does pretty much what I have outlined above. However, not much has been heard of this camera since, which is a pity.

Personally I don't like the SC1630 design. I would like my Android camera to look more like a typical point-and-shoot camera and less like a mobile phone (for e.g. Canon SX20 and such). I would like it to have a with a large high res LCD screen. I would like it in the $300-$500 price range, so as to have a reasonably good quality lens and body. Er...., is Canon or Nikon listening?

(I have a number of camera apps on my Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone, such as Camera Zoom, Aviary, Cartoon Camera, HDR Camera, Instagram, SilentCam, PhotoFunia, Night Vision, Lab, PicSay, FX Camera, and Panorama. In addition I have other related apps such as  Picasa Tool, QuickPic, Posing App, Photoshop Express, Photo Tools, Touchnote and Videomaker. The only reason I am not installing more is because there are simply too many good ones to choose from!)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Apple v. Samsung trial

There is an ongoing court battle with Apple suing Samsung for copying the design of Apples smartphone. Apple's lawsuit against Samsung is totally absurd. Can anyone claim copyright over the looks of an electrical or electronic product?

When I walk into an electrical shop, all the TV's look the same to me. I cannot tell a Samsung TV apart from a Sony TV unless I go near enough to look at the label, or unless I already know what subtle differences to look for.

When I go to the laptop section, again all of them look the same to me. Even Apple's laptops are not much different from others and I wouldn't be able to tell them apart if they were not displayed in a different section.

The same argument for receivers, DVD players, house phones, etc. So, how can Apple claim exclusivity in how their rectangular tablet and mobile phone looks? I used to admire Apple as a technology company, which can magically conjure up the most innovative products. But if creating a new product line means nobody else can follow (note: not copy; not pirate), then PLEASE, the world will be better off without Apple.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Glympse; a very revealing app

You won't be lost if you have a Glympse. I just came across this app a few minutes ago and I already love it. It is simple and it works without any complicated setups. This is what it does. As soon as it is installed, you can view your own location on a Google map. Next, click "Send Glympse", and you will be able to send a link to this map to anyone's email or smartphone. The receiver will be able to view your location continuously on a PC or on a smartphone. You will need to set an expiry time for viewing your location; anything up to 4 hours. It works even when your phone is in sleep mode. The other person can still see where you are.

This application is very useful if you are going to a place where there is a tendency to get lost in the crowd, such as a market or a fun fair. It can be used to let your loved ones keep track of your movements when you are traveling somewhere. For example, if I am driving to Adelaide my family can see where I am at any one time. I only wish that the Glympse creator had thought of providing a more flexible expiry period. For instance, if I am away from home for several days, I wouldn't want to keep sending out a Glympse message every 4 hours. And for anyone with the Alzheimer's disease, someone will always be able to find out where the patient has wandered to.