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Archive for March, 2013

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 phone coming out, Apple has countered by … coming out with their own new model? No. Instead, they issued an ad. This pitch attempts to re-convince the world that the existing Apple iPhone is what we really want. Intended message: please please please don’t run out and buy one of those Samsung Galaxy big phones with their ever increasing big share of the market.

(Please note that I am a long time Apple customer, and like them so much that I built my own Mac-Pro-like “Hackintosh” computer, which had the side effect of Apple making almost zero money on that computer. Oops.)

The ad provides “talking points” for you to use, both when talking to Galaxy phone owners, and when engaging in self-talk because you’re being tempted once again to buy a Galaxy for yourself. I will give some pointers on how the talking points are supposed to work. Click/tap HERE for the love-iPhone ad. And be prepared to fall in love all over again.

Feel the (iPhone) love

Apple is sensitive to the larger size of the Galaxy phones, as it seems to have taken them by surprise that everyone wants one. So among the ad features is the claim to the ‘Retina 4’ display. This can be used as follows:

Galaxy owner: “Wow, I just watched another movie on my phone’s theater-sized display. It was great!”
iPhone owner: “But does your phone have a Retina 4 display?”
Galaxy owner: “Huh?”
iPhone owner: “Ah-ha! I thought so! You didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as you could have!”
Galaxy owner: “What’s Retina 4?”
iPhone owner: “No idea, but who cares? My phone has it. Right here!”
Galaxy owner: “Where? Oh, you mean that little thing is a phone? How cute.”
iPhone owner: Urggh!

The ad also mentions other nice features like Siri, the female robot that lives in the phone, dines on quarks and electrons, listens to you talk, and then helps do things. For example, on a number of occasions I’ve told Siri to dial phone calls for me, and have talked to several different people that way (even though I was only trying to call one of them).

Anyway, I think Apple failed to highlight the important and poignant features that would remind current users to stick with iPhones and draw in new customers. I offer these free of charge.

Swype-free: As you may know, Swype is a method of using the keyboard to form words just by tracing your fingers through the desired letters, instead of pecking at each one. It’s one of those miraculous technologies that you know can’t work until you try it and see that it does.

That swype either spells 'quick' or 'qwertyuihgfcvbnjk'

Quickly swyping the word ‘quick’

iPhones don’t support Swype, like Android-based phones do, although you can get a Swype-like app on your iPhone that allows swyping. But only in that app. So you can make swype-words that you can’t do anything with in a practical way. When you want to send a text message, it’s back to keyboard pecking. This is surely clever, for reasons we haven’t quite worked out; but that’s to be expected because Apple is smarter than us. We all know that.

That swpye doesn't spell anything on the iPhone

I think I may have identified an angle Apple could exploit. Imagine (try!) that it could be possible to get cancer from using Swype too much (research has not ruled this out yet). If that were true, then anyone who stopped us from doing that and therefore stopped us from getting cancer would be doing us a big favor!! I think a sales slogan that would probably withstand most legal challenges, because it’s technically accurate(-ish), is along these lines:

Swype-prevention feature stops potential associated injuries,
including cancer and agonizing death.

In these Obamacare days people are surely worried about medical issues. Apple should capitalize on this, but just needs to be careful not to mention anything about frustrated Swype-wannabes who bang their head against the wall or throw their iPhone at the window when they realize they’re limited to keyboard pecking.

Out-of-this-world Camera: 

I don’t want to go into great detail here, but as I posted previously, my iPhone allowed me to capture a rare shot of our binary sun system. Really. (As far as I can tell.) Enough said on that.

Rounded corners:

Apple went to the trouble to sue and at least partially beat Samsung for violating some of their patents, which include their rounded corner case designs. For crying out loud, let’s not leave that one on the table — it needs some media coverage! One possibility is to use this to expand on the medical benefit angle:

The iPhone rounded-corners case design:
Specially engineered to prevent inadvertent lacerations
and accidental stabbings.

I don’t see how that can be anything but a big winner.

Sharp looking corners!

Apple Maps: This is clearly an underrated feature because, very literally, it takes you places you never imagined. That is something special that should be shouted from the rooftops, not hidden away like a dirty secret.

iPhone owner: “I had an amazing day today! I drove to Nevada. And then back through Montana.”
Other person: “Really? Where were you going?”
iPhone owner: “To the grocery store across town.”

I had my own fun with this one day, when I first went to use Apple Maps. I figured that the problems other users had been reporting were just obscure cases by a bunch of whiners that could never happen to me. [Cue spooky music here.]

Apple maps took me to a place that was almost where I wanted to go, and confidently announced I had arrived where there was no house anywhere in sight. My first thought was obvious: pull up Google Maps and get myself over to where I was supposed to go. But unfortunately this in was a remote location where the only service anyone’s phone could get was the GPS signals being used by Apple Maps to get us to our “destination.” We had to drive 10 miles back toward civilization to pick up service and find my way back to the real address.

Will the real 2nd Creek Rd please stand up

2nd Creek Rd mysteriously relocated

The many marketing possibilities just about leap from the page:

“Unanticipated Adventure!”
“Enhance your problem solving skills!”
“See the world – by surprise!!”
“Character growth through handling adversity!”

Wide screen, and then some:

When the big Galaxy phones first started cutting severely into Apple’s market share, the user community was eagerly waiting the response that the iPhone 5 would bring. Apple delivered a surprise, all right, when they increased the phone size by making it about one-third of an inch taller, and no wider. Wowza! This was such a clever engineering move because hardly anyone could tell that the screen had actually been made larger.

Apple has apparently stuck to a philosophy that people want a fairly skinny phone and are willing to have widescreen (when turned sideways) as long as it doesn’t lose that skinnyness.

This makes us fairly confident that the following prototype is what the iPhone 6 will look like. This model, which goes by the code name “iSwizzle,” was found left in a bar, where it apparently was also used to stir drinks. This aspect ratio indicates that Apple will be first to support upcoming very-very-widescreen movies — yet another game-changing move.

Perfect for panorama movies

Water Sensor:

A feature you might not be aware of in the iPhone is the moisture sensors in the phone. This one has surprising potential, yet so few are aware of it — but I’ve seen it unleashed. You bring in your non-working phone to the Apple store, and the technician feeds in a little scope to take a look at these concealed sensors inside the phone. If you accidentally did something like dropping your phone in the toilet, these sensors will remember it. And Apple may be suddenly very reluctant to help you out.

Well it’s all about how you spin it, and I think this one might work:

The Apple iPhone:
Finally, a smartphone smart enough
to know that it’s been in the toilet

Reach in and call 911

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Recent evidence indicates that Earth may unexpectedly be orbiting a pair of stars, instead of just the one that most people call the ‘sun.’ And since we exist on this planet, there’s a reasonable chance that such orbits can yield habitable planets. The picture below was taken at the Charlotte, NC airport and appears to clearly show the two stars out on the morning horizon. This is an un-retouched photo — it’s just as it came out of the iPhone camera. (OK, the bottom part was cropped out.)

When will the textbooks start including our other sun?

Morning photo over downtown Charlotte, NC

Binary stars — with two suns orbiting each other — were first discovered (in public consciousness) in 1977 in the first Star Wars movie, as Luke Skywalker gazed out from the planet Tatooine at the two stars in his solar(s) system. Since then, scientists have discovered that binary stars are actually fairly common in the universe.

Luke and his two legitimate suns

Many stars are in binary (dual) or larger systems — perhaps one-third of star systems are binary (or more), meaning (do the math) about half of the stars are in these systems. But there is some controversy, that lots of little, harder to see stars are singles and thus binary stars are not quite as high a percentage. (Pretend to care about that for a moment … OK, done.) A visible-to-the-eye case is the second star in the handle of the Big Dipper, which has in the past been used as an eye test. It also turns out that the North Star is part of a triple star system (but two of them can’t be seen with the naked eye). Here’s how that works, using the Alaska flag for convenience.

Alaska flag with Big Dipper and North Star

Alaska flag with Big Dipper and North Star

There has been a fair amount of calculating going on, trying to figure out if a planet can orbit a binary star system in a stable, life-friendly way. A quick survey of the literature indicates that the definitive answer is: maybe yes, maybe no.

Some folks claim that if things are just right, like if two closely placed stars are about 80% as big as our sun (the one you read about, not the other one in the first picture above), then there could be some places where a planet could sneak in and orbit stably and comfortably for life to exist. There are, unfortunately, a lot of ways a planet in a binary system could try to orbit that would alternately freeze its local residents to death, followed a little later by cooking them to death, due to odd shaped or perturbed orbits (such as ones that eject the planet from the star system). Try this link for the hopeful story. Some other pictures here.

But another article studied this problem and, not to give things away or anything, they put the word ‘pulverized’ in their title, as in “Planets Pulverized in Double-Star Systems.” If you want to live there, at least housing should be affordable, and you should ignore any analysis of the planet’s orbit that includes the phrase, “Something chaotic is very likely going on.” Why worry about things you can’t affect?

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