iPhone 7 RAW Test Shots

I’ve often wanted more out of the iPhone camera, the images produced by Apple’s processing were good but it felt like the camera had more to give. Fortunately, with the introduction of iOS 10, I’ve had a chance to experiment with all the camera has to offer.

A few of the results I’ve had are included below, you can click on any of the images to view a full resolution version.

Recoverable Shadow Detail

Original JPEG:

The original JPEG photograph from the iPhone 7 of the Palace Hotel in Manchester, UK showing massive underexposure and dark shadows.

Lightroom processed RAW:

Lightroom processed RAW photograph of the Palace Hotel in Manchester, UK showing the ability to recover shadow detail.

Fine Details

Original JPEG:

iPhone 7 native JPEG image of tram tracks in Manchester, UK.Crop of the native JPEG image showing terrible smoothing and loss of fine detail.

Lightroom processed RAW:

Lightroom processed RAW image of tram track in Manchester, UK.Crop of the Lightroom processed RAW showing more noise but far, far more detail across the image.

Difficult Lighting

Original JPEG:

Original JPEG from the iPhone 7 with difficult lighting conditions showing muddy detail within clouds.

Lightroom processed RAW:

RAW image processed in Lightroom showing much greater detail in cloud regions.

Giving Up On Google

I don’t hate Google, that would be a silly thing to do in public. After all, in the last twelve months they purchased an organisation that developed some of the world’s most impressive (military) robots 1 and have always developed impressive AI systems of their very own 2 - what could possibly go wrong 3.

But that hasn’t stopped me from giving up on them.

The main reason I’ve given up on Google’s services are the ever increasing feelings of becoming locked-in. More and more services coming from Google seem to be Chrome-only, or at least work far better in Chrome than anywhere else and I think this speaks to the future of Google.

There’s no denying that Apple products are a kind of lock-in, but I feel that Apple don’t rely on my data as a source of revenue so I’ll always be able to get it out if I need to - I don’t feel this way about Google.

Whilst this feeling has been building up over time due to factors like requiring a Google+ profile to make full use of YouTube, or Gmail never quite playing nicely with other mail clients; it came into focus more recently with the introduction of Inbox. There’s no denying that Inbox is a great service, it’s innovative and genuinely useful, but I can only access it though Google applications.

This particular lock-in isn’t fundamentally a problem in itself, I can still get at my data, but it leaves me fearful for the future of my email. In the future I imagine Google turning off all POP & IMAP support - access to my email will be via Google (or maybe an approved API) only and my email, my data, will be more ‘stuck’ where it is than I would like - and I imagine the same will be true of all of Google’s other services.

None of Google’s recent behaviour strikes me as ‘open’, Apple is hardly an open company either, but I at least feel like Apple is open with my data on a closed platform rather than, like Google, closed with my data on an open platform.

I’d quite happily pay Google to have better access to my data, but they don’t seem to have much interest in that - so I’m moving all my data elsewhere.

What Makes A Rich Internet Application (RIA)?

Disclaimer: This blog post may seem a little outdated, after all the term RIA seems to be slowly dropping out of the hype-o-sphere and been replaced with the “cloud”, however, rich internet applications are still the cutting edge of many an enterprise implementation, hence this blog post.


The internet is changing, connections are getting faster, web browsers are getting more advanced and the technologies behind the internet are being constantly improved & updated. Due to this rapid evolution more and more companies are offering services that run on the cloud, accessible anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

Virtually every application that an average use would expect to find on their desktop computer can now be found somewhere on the internet. These are the rich internet applications, applications that finally break free of the desktop into the word of infinite storage and always on availability. This blog post aims to discuss the factors that are required (in my opinion) to produce a rich internet application.

Definition

According to David Mendels (one of the group that coined the phrase ‘rich internet application’ at Macromedia) the most basic definition of an RIA is ‘no page refresh’ (or ‘single screen’ depending on your interpretation). But he himself admits that this was the definition ‘at the time’. [Based on a comment by David at RedMonk].

In the current web-sphere many websites appear to classify themselves as RIAs, this probably due, in part, to the rise of the term ‘rich internet application’ as a buzz-phrase among developers and technology publications. Many technologists involved with RIAs now argue that any website that requires some form of browser-based plugin can be categorised as a RIA, but in the a world of desktop-replacement web applications does the term still apply to websites that simply include a flash video or make extensive use of AJAX to prevent page reloading?

Redefining RIAs

After trawling through many of the different websites that consider themselves rich internet applications I fully agree with the original definition that an RIA must have no (or very little) page refresh, this is one of the factors that makes an RIA more like a desktop application in terms of user experience, you wouldn’t expect the application window in Excel to completely re-draw itself every time you switch work books would you, so why put up with it in web applications that you use.

Every website I came across that I would consider to be an RIA also shared another common attribute, the lack of full page scroll bars. Many of them contained scroll bars to navigate through subsections of content but none ever forced me to trawl through large pages and lose access to key navigational features. Again, this is reminiscent of most, if not all, desktop applications. A desktop application will nearly always retain placement of navigational features the most obvious of these being the menu bar at the top of a window (or screen).

The use of browser plugins and ‘rich media’ however were not present in the RIAs that I came across. Many created a more than optimal user experience through the use of JavaScript, HTML and a few images, features available in all modern web-browsers.

Personally I believe that the only websites that should be considered ‘rich internet applications’, the key word being ‘applications’ are those that most effectively simulate the desktop application user experience; this does not however mean that RIAs should only be limited to the functionality that a desktop application can provide. The World Wide Web offers far greater scope in terms of storage, processing, scalability, accessibility and social interaction, features which should be embraced in the creation of rich internet applications and can only serve to augment the user experience.

Conclusion

In this blog post I have discussed in very simplistic terms, what, in my opinion, makes a RIA. It isn’t the inclusion of media heavy content, or the ability to load content without re-loading the whole page. It is the ability of a website to simulate a desktop user experience, effectively allowing the user to easily replace any desktop application with a browser-based clone.

In the context of modern rich internet applications the browser should be seen, not as a way of ‘browsing the internet’, but as a shell that provides a user with access to the applications which they use every day. The web browser is the operating system of the RIA world.

Check back soon.

The Advantages Of Time Machine

I wasn’t sure about Time Machine when it was announced, sure it was great to have regular, up-to-date backups with no effort but I couldn’t believe that restoring would be as easy as Apple said it would be. Unfortunately I had a chance to test Time Machine to its fullest in the week just gone.

My iMac was feeling a little sluggish so I ran the cleanup scripts in a program called OnyX, the program has never let me down before but as the scripts were running I noticed the whole contents of my home directory beginning to disappear. I panicked a little but new Time Machine had just completed a backup before I ran the scripts.

First I tried restoring all my data from Time Machine piece by piece but it was taking far too long. The solutions was easy, boot of the Leopard DVD and select the option to restore my whole system from time machine, 45 minutes later the computer rebooted and I was greeted with my old system, all my files, back where they used to be like nothing had happened.

My Aperture library was backed up separately using vaults because Time Machine always insists on backing up the whole library, the restore for Aperture was another half-hour and all my photos were back too.

I couldn’t have asked for an easier restore, yet another shining example of Apple’s software. I won’t personally be using OnyX again but a word of warning, if you don’t use Time Machine, back up your system as frequently as you can afford to. You think data loss will never happen to you but more than likely it will and it saves a lot of trouble (and possibly heartbreak) if you have good backups.

Check back soon for more tales of survival.

How To Ruin Your Filesystem

It’s been a while since I last posted, and, as my iMac is currently ‘busy’ I thought now would be as good a time as any for my first post of the new year. First of all I have to say, Happy New Year, a bit late I know but better late than never. Now I can get to the true purpose of this post.

This post is a cautionary tale about external hard drives and, what I see as an error in Mac OS, more specifically, Leopard. In my endeavor to keep as many Time Machine backups as possible I have recently retired my old Western Digital My Book Premium 320GB in favor of a Western Digital My Book Studio 1TB. The hard drive itself is great, really quiet, large size. It is due to the large size that I am now in the situation I am in.

Because of all my new found space I realized I could keep Time Machine backups of both my iMac and my PowerBook on the same drive. To keep backups of the PowerBook my idea was to mount the WD drive over AFP on my PowerBook and Time Machine from there, this would have been the sensible thing to do, however backing up over 11GB of the network would have been time consuming so I opted to create a network, temporarily, with firewire, so it would be much faster.

It would appear however that firewire daisy chaining works in mysterious ways, when I connected the iMac and PowerBook with a firewire cable the WD drive was ‘passed through’ to the PowerBook and appeared mounted on both desktops. I thought this was a clever feature of Leopard and used it to my advantage & started the Time Machine backup.

The backup subsequently hung, so I stopped it, decided I couldn’t be bothered and I could live without Time Machine for my laptop. I tried using the drive again on my iMac, first deleting the image created by the PowerBook & received an error. Then after trying to verify the drive and finding it couldn’t be repaired, realized I had found what could be considered to be a bug & a combination of my own stupidity.

I am currently running DiskWarrior and the external drive if full of overlapped files. This is because the ‘pass through’ was not a clever Leopard trick, it was a result of the firewire implementation (that could have been blocked in the OS I am sure), and caused simultaneous writes to my external hard drive to occur.

Fortunately it only appears to have written off my Time Machine backups (it was Time Machine that started up on the iMac whilst the PowerBook was doing the same) and not the other data on the drive, which I managed to salvage (in case DiskWarrior fails) by mounting the drive in read only mode.

Take my advice, think before you do something like this, I should have realized this would happen but I thought Apple were good enough to stop me doing something this stupid.

Check back soon for more useful posts.

Anti-DRM

Well, today, or at least some time around today in GMT time is Anti-DRM day. As a sideline to my normal ramblings I thought I would have a go at making my position clear. By the end of this post my position will probably be about as clear as mud due to my lack of writing skills, bit I’ll give it a go anyway.

In my general opinion DRM is a bad thing, or at least having many different forms of DRM is a bad thing. I don’t think that anyone would be so against DRM if it was compatible across devices & softwares, for example it really wouldn’t bother me as long as I could listen to Windows Media DRM’d files on my iPod and iTunes DRM’d files on Media Player.

In the original formats used to distribute media the fact that they were physical objects with, at first, no way to copy them provided some sort of built in protection. You could lend an LP to someone but if they wanted a copy they would have to go out and buy it themselves. With the advent of cassette recorders bootleg copies could be easily made, but it wasn’t necessarily the nicest way to listen to the music. CD’s at first could also be copied onto tape, then onto other CD’s but it was time consuming and expensive. The internet and MP3 (generally) has however opened up a massive way to ‘share’ files with other people. The main issue though is this word ‘share’.

If sharing were truly what was going on then it wouldn’t be so bad. You could lend someone a file but after a while it would expire, essentially giving it back, much as it was initially with LP’s, cassettes and CD’s, but when people stop buying music then income for companies decreases.

We all know that in reality artists are paid too much but if music was just given away all we would get is cheap & shoddy bands with records no one really wants.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that DRM should really be unified and refined and until this happens, get rid of it. I want to listen to my music the way I want, without restrictions.