W3C, Big Media, Cats and Bags

The EME-DRM war wages on, while those of us who just want Flash and Silverlight to die long-overdue deaths and to continue watching videos in our browsers await our fate.

It’s difficult to imagine that any content distributors that are currently distributing unprotected media are going to start using DRM merely because there’s a W3C-approved framework for doing so.

The usually reliable Ars Technica.

Are you kidding?  That’s exactly what’s going to happen.  Big media companies are conscripting the mostly powerless W3C in their war to stuff the cat back into the bag.  And anyone who doesn’t think opportunistic content providers will take advantage of the destruction of the open web is dreaming.

Time will tell how this war plays out, but it looks to me like consumers will be the casualties.

The EFF has a good FAQ, for those who want to see what’s at stake.

All About the New Apple File System

 

“Once APFS becomes available, Apple plans to make the process of switching to the new file system incredibly simple. You won’t need to back up your data and start again with a fresh OS install, thank God. Instead, there will be an option to seamlessly transition all your devices without losing any of your files.”

Cult of Mac (who I still haven’t completely forgiven for this).

appleclassicApple (and those of us who rely on its products) needs a new, modern, uniform file system.  No, it’s not some sexy new feature.  But it is integral to the efficiency and future of the devices we use.  All we can ask is that the transition is as painless as possible.  So far, it looks like it will be.

Notes on Notes and a Farewell to Evernote

Evernote cites ‘building the Evernote of tomorrow’ as one of the reasons for the price increase. The problem is, we as users really haven’t seen much of a change in their service.  For example, using Evernote as a basic notetaker is still a fairly painful experience. Exporting and sharing documents from Evernote is not as easy as it should be. I’m all for innovation, but asking the users to pay for it before you deliver is going to be a tough sell.

Katie Floyd, long-time Evernote user.

That’s a really good take.  I’ve been a Premium Evernote user for many, many years.  But even before this latest price increase, I’d cancelled my auto-renew, and moved my Notes to Apple’s Notes app.  The Notes app needs a lot of work, but Apple is chipping away at it.  And the fact is, I don’t really need a lot of bells and whistles on my note taking app.  I need two things.

One, the ability to file, manage and find as needed pdfs and other files, as a digital file cabinet for my paperless archival system.  For a long time I used Evernote for this.  Over time I realized I don’t need a separate, dedicated app for archiving and accessing documents.  Finder on my Mac, combined with Dropbox on all my devices, does this as well or better than Evernote.  Sure, I have to pay for Dropbox, but I’m going to do that anyway, so Evernote feels like an unnecessary spend.

Two, a simple but reasonably featured note taking app to take and keep notes for quick reference and some projects-in-progress.  Apple’s Notes app does this well enough.  It doesn’t handle pdfs perfectly, but it handles them well enough for quick reference purposes, again with the heavy archival lifting done via Finder and Dropbox.  And as bad as Notes is with pdfs, it handles them way, way better than OneNote.  I tried for 2 weeks to take notes and manage project materials in OneNote.  It just didn’t work for me.  At all.

So my current workflow is based on my ScanSnap scanner, scanning to designated folders, viewed and managed via Finder and backed up and synced via Dropbox.  With quick notes and oft-used reference cards residing in the Notes app.  Oh, and Google Keep serving as a free and handy cross-platform clipboard as needed.

Before today, I figured I’d continue to use my free Evernote account for something.  But the 2-device limit makes that infeasible.  I’m not mad at Evernote for trying to make more money.  I understand.  It’s just that the price hike on the heels of so little feature advancement leads me to pass.

Good luck Evernote, we had a good ride.

macOS Sierra’s Best Feature

macossierra

That no one is talking about.

I’m pretty excited about Sierra the forthcoming new and renamed macOS.  I installed the developer preview on my MacBook Pro.  It’s my primary machine, so that was a stupid thing to do, and I don’t recommend it.

Citrix, a company guaranteed to be behind the curve on protocol deprecations, has not released a public beta of its Citrix Receiver, so I had to install El Capitan on a USB stick to boot into when connecting to my office.  My ScanSnap scanner software doesn’t work.  But otherwise, things are remarkably stable for the first (of many) beta versions.

9 to 5 Mac has a good hands-on video with many of the new features.

But the best feature, however, is that at long last

Zoom levels in Safari are sticky!!!  This will, at long last, allow me to switch from Chrome to Safari.  I’m very happy about that, because there are many advantages to working within the Apple environment.

Running without iPhones, Thin Pipes and Keyboard Hell

dont-leave-me-this-way

“When I take my iPhone with me on a run, my Apple Watch’s pace and distance estimates are highly accurate. Without my iPhone, it became so inaccurate it was useless.”

Source: Running without iPhone makes Apple Watch inaccurate | Cult of Mac

This is a giant problem.  Apple makes great devices, but more and more, Apple seems to be counting on our love of Apple to blind us to the things that these great devices inexplicably cannot do.

Bling is great, but you need to be at least as good at the basic stuff as the other devices you are trying to replace.  Sure, fitness is just one component of the Apple Watch, but if you agree with me that apps are not fun to use on the watch, then fitness and notifications are the primary things differentiating the Apple Watch from the watch John Cameron Swayze was hawking to the ladies the year I was born (I wonder how my Apple watch would like that dishwasher?).

When people ask how I like my Apple Watch, my answer is I like it, but don’t love it.  I (still) have to carry my iPhone with me when I work out, and I almost never open an app on it.  At least in my neighborhood, the Apple Watch is making slow progress in its efforts to claim the wrists of regular folks.  I’ve seen less than 5 in the wild.  I offered to buy my wife one.  She said no, because there are a ton of other options that do a better job of accurately tracking her runs.

Similarly, the new Apple TV has a lot of bling.  But under the hood, it lacks basic functionality (including, but not limited to, all those content deals Apple couldn’t get, and Amazon Prime Video), and requires far too much credentials keyboarding on the pretty but frustrating new remote.  Some of this (Amazon and other content) may not be Apple’s fault, but some of it is.  For example, on a slower internet connection,  my year old Amazon Fire TV still loads much faster than my brand-new Apple TV. That beautiful screen saver is awesome, but it’s not  why I bought the device.

If Apple wants us to continue to pay the Apple premium for new devices, those devices need to be mind-blowing, like the original iPhone and iPad, and not meh-inducing, like the Apple Watch and much of the new Apple TV.