500px Back on the App Store

After falling foul of Apple’s slightly suspicious boob aversion which they claim is on the grounds of taste and decency but which makes you doubt their claimed love of beauty, it appears that the 500px app is back on the App Store, with a minor update.


The only slight reference to the app’s disappearance is in the update notes; the main noticeable change is a ‘report image’ button which can be used by people if they feel an image is inappropriate – and would then presumably spark a debate over the exact difference between boobs as art and boobs as porn.


Outdated by Lunchtime 2.0

It has been, by my calendar, over a year since my last post on this blog.

Various things went wrong with it. In fact, various things went wrong with most of my blogs, save for my photography blog, which somehow took over my life and hasn’t since let go. Outdated by Lunchtime first began alongside that blog over two years ago, but it was photography that would become my main calling.

In June 2011 I joined an upstart tech blog called GrindGadget. It lasted for a little while, but it tailed off, especially as I got too busy to contribute with any regularity, and the site now no longer exists. I guess the handful of posts I wrote for them are now also lost to the sands of time – my own fault for not saving a copy somewhere I had control.

I’m not going to lie: I’m still pretty busy. But I look back on the days when I had for myself a handful of blogs to express myself, instead of the one that I currently maintain. So, I’m intending to improve on this, returning to talk about technology a little more than I used to. In the time since I last updated this blog it has become far easier to publish posts from anywhere, and yet I’ve not been. No more excuses.

So, this is Outated by Lunchtime 2.0. Let’s see where this goes.

Oh look, people are overreacting about something Apple has done again

As sure as the as the sun rises, water is wet, or cats will chose exactly the most inappropriate moment to start doing something, the tech blogging world is once again up in arms over something Apple has done.

We’ve had ‘Antennagate’, ‘Locationgate’, and now we have what must inevitably be called ‘PublishingRightsgate’, because the American media always attach the ‘gate’ suffix to things when they want them to sound serious (the British media just adds the word ‘scandal’ in as big and bold lettering as they can, and will usually find some woman in a low-slung top to personify the whole thing).

The story is this: anyone using Apple’s newly-announced iBooks Author app to create a book is limited to selling that book through Apple’s own iBookstore (‘iBookstore’ still looks like an overly cluttered word to me. It should be iBooks Store, as in iTunes Store or App Store. Crap, now I’ve written ‘store’ too many times and it doesn’t look like a real word anymore. Where was I? Oh yes, iBooks Author). You can only sell your book through Apple; you can’t also sell it through Amazon’s competing Kindle bookstore.

This has the tech world up in arms, it seems. TechRadar, MacRumors, and AppleInsider have all picked up on the story, not to mention numerous ‘independent’ bloggers.

Overlooking the current technical issue that the iBook format iBooks Author will export is not compatible with anything other than Apple’s own iBooks 2 app (although as it is all built with open standards there is the possibility of someone building a compatible reader for another platform), the concern is that Apple are once again restricting what people can do with their technology. It is akin, as some have put it, to Microsoft restricting what you can do with your Word documents.

Except, of course, that it isn’t.

There are numerous word processors out there. Most are, in one way or another, interoperable. The Word .doc file format is an industry standard.

For iBooks, Apple have spent the time and money to develop a new platform, and built an incredibly powerful tool to produce material for that platform, which they are giving away for free. Now, I may not have done Business Studies at school, but even I know that that, in and of itself, is not a solid business plan. The money has to come from somewhere. To do this, Apple are ensuring that if you are going to charge for your work, that you let them have a cut of the profits. If you are planning on giving the book away for free, you can do what you like with it; email it, put it on a website, upload it to a USB drive and throw it in the bin, whatever. Apple don’t want to people to be using their own software to benefit their competitors.

The overreactions from most of the blog world seem to revolve around authors losing the rights to their books. This is nonsense, and here’s why:

The contentious article of the iBooks licensing agreement reads thus:

B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:
(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;

(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.

Earlier in the agreement, the meaning of “Work” is also clarified:

If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.

Apple clearly state that a “Work” – that is, the product that they are exerting control over in section B of the agreement – is whatever is created by the iBooks Author software. What it is not doing, however, is staking a claim on the content of the book. In other words, there is nothing stopping you from creating a copy of the book with another publishing tool and selling it in another online retailer. The downside is that such a book might not be quite as full-featured as anything made in the Apple Software.

So, to sum up this current furore: Apple have spent who knows how long building a new textbook platform and a highly engineered publishing tool to facilitate said platform, and provided it for free, and all they ask in return is that if you create any books with the tool that they have a cut of any profits and are exclusive to their platform – despite the format not being compatible with any other platforms. You are still free to make and sell the same book with another tool or service – even as an app in the App Store – and you don’t lose the copyright to your book or its content.

And this is bad, apparently.


This image is doing the rounds today – now Acer have resorted to pinching Apple’s presentation slides for their cloud service (Acer’s slide is top, bottom is the slide detailing iCloud from back at WWDC).

What amuses me the most, that none of the other tech blogs seem to have picked up on, is that the font appears to be the old Apple corporate font from ten years ago.

When Apple claims their competitors are years behind them, they really mean it.

Why it’s been a bit quiet over here

You might have noticed, after a splurge of activity towards the tail end of last month, that the amount of posts on this blog seem to have dropped off a little.

There is a reason for this – a few weeks ago I was contacted by and joined the team at an upstart techblog called GrindGadget.

Truth be told I’ve not written a whole hell of a lot over there either. But that’s life for you.

What does this mean for the future of this blog? Well, I’m going to start dropping links here whenever I write an opinion piece over there so the few readers this site has (and I say ‘few’ optimistically) can keep up. I might also post articles here if I deem them inappropriate for G2.

If you are, for some reason I can’t quite understand, still hankering for what I’ve been working on, you can have a look at the posts I’ve written for them so far.



Google launches “What do you love?”

Google has launched a new service, called What Do You Love?. It has apparently been launched with little fanfare, with only reports from other blog sites announcing the new service.

Visit the page and you are greeted with a familiar Google Search style page with nothing but a search bar and a go button (with a heart on it, how lovely).

What differs with this particular search engine is that it only searches Google. Put in what you love and it will essentially advertise how you could use Google’s services to further your love of whatever it is you put in.

The idea of a Google-searching Google Search sounds like it might crack the fabric of the universe and bend reality in on itself. I’m not sure it won’t.

To test it out, however, I threw Google into this Google-searching Google Search to see what it threw up.

What I get is the options to watch videos of Google using YouTube, ‘scour the Earth’ for Google using Google Earth, search for Google-related patents (one of the two it brought up was a patent called ‘Stain-based optimized compression of digital pathology slides’, noted only because one of the inventors was a Mr Google), or even translate ‘Google’ into 57 languages (hint: it’s ‘Google’ in all of them).

Whilst some of the services offered by Google are not that well known, this meta-service can only be of limited use to most people, especially as a lot of the results are largely the same with your search term substituted for the default, and don’t provide quite as intelligent results as I would like. Ultimately this is just a gimmicky advertising tool for Google’s aspirations of world domination.

Still, amongst all of the options to search google blogs, or plan google events, at least there wasn’t the option to search ‘What do you love?’, as that would definitely have imploded existence.

Just sayin’: Android hits 500,000 activations a day

Google, apparently, is activating 500,000 Android devices a day. That is an impressive number by anyone’s metric. The last instance I can find with my (admittedly very brief) Google search was 230,000 a day, last September.

That isn’t the point of this post.

I couldn’t help but notice the wording on one of the blogs that reported on Google’s new activations landmark.

At Google I/O in early May, the company boasted that activations were up to 400,000 a day with 100 million cumulative device activations, representing 36 OEMS, 215 Carriers and 310 devices. The pace of growth has been staggering for Android, which hit the 100,000 activations per day milestone in May 2010. By December 2010, that number was up to 300,000 a day.

Now with Honeycomb (an Android variant) tablets hitting the market, the device activations are being supplemented by larger tablet devices, not just smartphones. Indeed, almost every company is putting out a tablet these days, most built off of Google’s Android operating system.

(emphasis mine).

Now, that’s a pretty ambivalent sort of comment, isn’t it? Sure, most manufacturers that are producing tablets are using Android in one way or another, but the vast majority of the tablets out there are still iPads running iOS. And I’ll bet the majority of the Android tablets out there aren’t running the tablet optimised “Honeycomb” variation of Android.

Just sayin’.

Part of the problem with Microsoft

I realised today what Microsoft’s main problem is. Simply enough, they don’t think things through properly. If it seems like a good idea at first they’ll run with it, and no-one will to have the courage to pipe up and say ‘hang on lads, is this really such a good plan?’ until after it’s too late.

Take their purchase of Skype, for instance. Is there anyone besides Steve Ballmer who thinks that Skype is worth $8.7b? Or the Kin phones, cancelled only six weeks after they were launched.

The Kinect too. It may be doing rather well, but as a gaming tool it is cripplingly ineffective compared to a good old-fashioned controller and the sort of games that are coming out are awkwardly twisted around this control interface. Impressive it may be, practical it isn’t.

Or, for instance, the Windows 7 FAQ. I took a look today trying to find out the system requirements for Windows 7 for work. One of the questions caught my eye.

Wow. So in order to find out what version of Windows you are running on your PC, you have to already know what version of Windows you are running. Fantastic logic, and a worrying sign of what to expect from Microsoft’s tech support. You’ll be on the phone for ages with the same cyclic argument.

A little further down, the section about drivers seems to be getting increasingly panicked:

In fact, what the heck is a computer?


It’s almost as if this is a transcript of an actual support call, where it is becoming increasingly apparent to the caller that they don’t know as much about computers as they thought they could get away with.

Knowing this planet however, that caller is probably an IT manager somewhere.

Will Thunderbolt come to the iPhone and iPods this year?

I had a thought today that perhaps Apple will be bringing the new Thunderbolt technology to its lineup of iPhones and iPods in their next generations.

This is purely speculation on my part, but let me outline why I think this is a possibility.

Firstly, it is increasingly evident that the new iPhone will not be here until August at the earliest, probably not till September. The new iPods are also in the same sort of timeframe, as I detailed earlier this week.

By that time, the entire Mac lineup should feature Thunderbolt, as the Mac mini, MacBook Airs and Mac Pro are all expected to be updated in the next couple of months and Apple has included Thunderbolt in each new Mac iteration since first announcing it in February’s MacBook Pro refresh.

Apple is also known to be hiring people for its Thunderbolt team, and it is obvious that they see the technology as the future ahead of USB 3.0 and even their own (still unreleased and of currently unknown future) FireWire 1600 and 3200 updates.

With the entire Mac range equipped with Thunderbolt by the time of the expected announcement of the next iPhone, what better way to continue pushing the new technology than by rolling it into their consumer electronic devices? With proven data transfer speeds of 827MB a second, a cabled sync will take seconds, no matter how much data was being transferred.

There are a few problems with this theory, however. The first is that rolling out Thunderbolt could potentially undermine the new WiFi Sync feature of iOS 5 – whether Apple will see this as a problem is another matter, and the two features are likely to speak to two different types of user.

Secondly, it is not known (or at least, I don’t know, which for the purposes of this article amounts to the same thing) how backwards-compatible a Thunderbolt iPhone will be with the vast majority of Mac users who will still need to use USB to sync. But then that loops me back to that first point – WiFi Sync could actually replace USB sync on these new iPhones with Thunderbolt as a feature there for ‘power’ users.

The only other hurdle I can think of is the expense of including Thunderbolt in a consumer electronics device which Apple is continually trying to reduce the cost of building, especially with constant rumours of a cheaper, smaller ‘iPhone Nano’ (which, it has been speculated, could possibly replace the iPod touch if it got cheap enough).

There have been currently no rumours on this front, which is why this post is entirely speculation. But Apple have a long history of dropping technology for the next best thing when it suits them, so maybe, just maybe, this will become a reality sooner than we think.

Note: whilst writing this post, AppleInsider published a story stating that the component cost of adding Thunderbolt to consumer devices was stunting adoption of the new technology. Whilst this may be true, Apple themselves are more familiar with Thunderbolt than most manufacturers as they were involved in its development and may be able to achieve compatibility for cheaper. Or, this may be part of what Apple was talking about when they speak of reduced margins at their earnings calls.