Tilly, captured on her afternoon walk by my iPhone 6. It’s a pretty good camera in the right conditions, given the size of the lens. Click to see more detail.
If this shot looks vaguely familiar, you might have seen this one a couple of years ago.
You might think that, of all the household devices that could be connected to the ‘net, a washing machine would be amongst the least useful, except perhaps for the purposes of energy monitoring or service diagnostics.
So I was particularly impressed with Berg’s Cloudwash demonstrator, which emphasises the user interface aspects of connectivity. It’s always struck me that washing machines tend to have particularly awful user interfaces. Until very recently, for example, we had one where program ‘4’ was the one we used all the time. We needed to remember that, and on the rare occasions when we needed a different program, we had to look it up on a card.
Often, by giving a device connectivity, you can also give it a better user interface, even if that’s only used to configure the buttons on the front.
Apple users, especially those with iPhones or iPads, will know about the Photo Stream cloud service that makes your recent photos available on all your devices. You can take a photo on your phone, open up your laptop, and find it already available in iPhoto or Aperture.
But what if you don’t use iPhoto or Aperture? (I’ve recently switched to Lightroom and found myself missing this feature). Or you want to do something automatically with every photo you take, like emailing them to Granny?
Well, then you want Laurent Crivello’s Photostream2Folder utility, which polls your stream periodically and simply puts the recent photos in a folder on your disk. Very handy.
This came out a week ago, but I think it’s worth noting for those who missed it. There’s a piece in Business Insider based on an interesting fact first noted by MG Siegler. It’s this:
Note, not Microsoft’s phone business. Not Windows. Not Office. But Microsoft’s entire business. Gosh.
As the article puts it:
The iPhone did not exist five years ago. And now it’s bigger than a company that, 15 years ago, was dragged into court and threatened with forcible break-up because it had amassed an unassailable and unthinkably profitable monopoly.
My name is Ozzie-mandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair…
Keen though I am to reduce the amount of paper in my life, I am still hesitant about switching all of my utility bills to electronic form because they are often useful, in the UK, as proof of your residential address.
Mobile phone bills, however, tend to be excluded, and since almost every gadget I buy comes with a SIM, I now have quite a few of these! But there’s a different problem when it comes to switching many of these to paperless billing, as illustrated just now by my iPad contract with Vodafone. How do you do it?
Well, you go to Vodafone’s site, and register for an online account. The first thing you need to do is enter your phone number. What is the phone number of my iPhone? Fortunately I had a recent bill handy, so I could look it up, never having needed it for anything other than this before.
Then you hit a second problem. They send you a text message with a security code in it, which you need to enter into the web site. Except, as they well know, this is an iPad, on a special iPad-only contract, and it sadly has no way of reading text messages. (Nor does my Mifi. Nor my 3G dongle, at least with a Mac.) Mmm….
OK, well, SMS messages are sent to the number identified by the SIM, not the device, so I can take the SIM out of the iPad and put it in a phone. (As a matter of course, I always have all my devices unlocked whenever I possibly can, just to make this sort of thing possible.)
Then you hit the third problem. My whopping great iPad has a micro-SIM, while my decidedly smaller iPhone has a regular sized SIM. Fortunately, you can buy adapters which convert one to the other. (If you need to go the other way, you can do so with a pair of scissors, or with a special cutter.)
So the process becomes: move SIM from non-SMS-receiving device to receiving device, having previously unlocked the latter if they’re on different networks, and making use of cutters or adapters as required, then register on first device’s network website, noting and entering any codes that may be texted to you, then restore everything to its previous state afterwards. In the States, where there’s a reasonable chance that your different devices wouldn’t have compatible radio circuitry, it would be even worse.
One feels that this might be a bit of an oversight on the part of the service providers…
© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser