MonthMay 2011

Even Apple Oopsie

My colleague and I encountered an interesting little ‘oopsie’ in the iPad 2 today. To briefly introduce the idea for those unfamiliar, the iPad has a small switch next to the volume control which, when the device was first released, worked as a rotation lock. If enabled, the iPad would stay at the same orientation no matter how you held it. In a subsequent patch this was changed first to a mute switch, whose purpose was fairly self-explanatory and then to either a rotation lock or mute switch depending on user preference.

Which is why when we looked to one of our apps which was being peculiarly silent the first thing we did was try and unmute the device with the switch. It was set to rotation toggle, so we rejected that as an idea. It was a strange problem though, not even the volume control worked in-app.

We found that in some apps the volume control was available, in others it wasn’t. Oddly, the volume control was available only in apps that didn’t make any sound.

The result was unexpected. The device had been muted with the mute switch and then the switch’s function had been changed to rotation lock in settings and voila, we couldn’t unmute the device because we had no mute switch.

So if you’re having trouble even getting the volume controls to respond in an app or seeing a ‘No volume available’ message from an MPVolumeController then you might want to investigate the mute switch. It’s a gotcha.

Unpleasant Surprise

When I got the iPad 2 I have to admit I never thought of it as a camera. The camera in the iPhone makes sense, at least in the sense of the old saying “the best camera is the one you have with you”. It’s no match for an SLR with proper glass attached but it’s a crisp 5MP camera with one of the easiest interfaces I’ve seen on a phone camera. I’m expecting to see touch to focus and expose on dSlRs in future.

The iPad 2 camera, though, feels very like a phone camera from the late 90s. It’s a grainy sub-megapixel feeling camera with a huge digital noise problem. I know they put the camera in there for FaceTime and the front camera being bad at stills makes sense but with the luxury price tag on the hardware could they really not run to a better camera?

It’s a little bit of an unpleasant surprise to snap a photo on the iPad 2 and see the result. It does not mesh with the image Apple have tried so hard and succeeded so well in attaching to the device. It might not be a part of the device’s core functionality but it’s like an off-colour body part replacement on a super car. It’s like a cassette radio deck in the centre console of your BMW M3. It doesn’t fit the image, even if it isn’t what you bought the car for.

Monthly Search String Update: April 2011

This is something I used to do on a regular basis with my blog, way back when in the last millenium. Every month I take a look at some of the more amusing or interesting search terms used to visit my blog.¬†It’s a¬†humorous¬†insite into the nature of the internet.

  • w1s1 jack
    This one makes me sad, because it makes me sad that Jack doesn’t record W1S1 with us as often as he used to. Hopefully I can persuade him to join in from time to time. He was the original co-host and is still very much a part of W1S1 history.
  • krogan model
    I don’t think whoever typed this was thinking what I’m thinking. They were probably looking for some very useful information on 3d models of Krogan. Or perhaps some interesting facts about the biological models on which Krogan physiology is based. I, however, think of a fabulous dahlink Krogan strutting and I can’t stop.
  • star wry
    Awesome. But seriously, what?
  • i hate star trek voyager deus ex machina
    So say we all! But hey, Russel T Davis’ Dr Who deus ex machina endings were worse.

A Bit Of Pride Showing Through

Every now and then something comes along that is actually worth showing a bit of pride in. It’s just bragging, nothing but ego stroking, but I want this recorded for posterity. I want to share it. I’m, well, proud.

Tech it or Leave It is New and Noteworthy

If you look closely you might see a familiar podcast in the New & Noteworthy section right there on iTunes’ podcasting front page. That’s right, the tech show I do on a weekly basis with Richard, Andrew and guests made it to the front page. With some interesting results:

Tech It Or Leave It Reaches Number 4

Tech it or Leave It reached number 4 in the technology podcast charts!

Actually if I’m honest this is a bit chicken and the egg. Did we hit number 4 because we were new and noteworthy? Or did we become noteworthy because we reached number 4?

Wait a minute…

Who cares? The fact is both¬†accomplishments¬†are incredible for a podcast which launched with almost no marketing, no pre-launch press and was advertised no more or less than any Simply Syndicated show. Quite how we hit the zeitgeist I don’t know. I do know¬†subsequent¬†episodes haven’t quite managed the same trick. I don’t let that diminish what we accomplished, though. As I said to Andrew and Rich before and or during the show last night… “this is just us talking”. When having a chat once a week with your friends leads to results like this, well, I’m not going to complain.

State of the Undertaking

As some readers are no doubt aware I recently started a job that, given the amount of commuting it involves, has seriously affected my free time. As such, certain things have been put on hold until I’m able to move to Bristol. One of those things is my Grand Undertaking. It’s pretty much no longer possible to get all of Trek watched in a year so I’ve been having a serious think.

What I’ve concluded is that this wasn’t about getting all of Trek watched in a year so much as reconnecting with my most fondly loved TV franchise. I can still do that if it takes me two or three years to work through the works. So I’ll keep watching it and I’ll keep blogging it. It just won’t be done quite as quickly, is all.

In other words, watch this space. There’s more Trek coming.

On The Brink Of Something


Brink was a game that I had followed with some interest. Its’ setting and surrounding story could have been almost written with me in mind. Set in a dystopic future where a utopian floating city called The Arc has collapsed under the burden of the needy and desperate into out-and-out civil war. It’s reminiscent of the floating city state in Snow Crash.

Of course this is all set dressing. The grist of the game is the conflict between The Arc’s ‘Security’ and ‘Resistance’, the rag tag group who are forced to live in the shipping container and rusting-hull shanty towns that surround the city proper.

Then there’s the fact that what we’re looking at is an 8 vs 8, class-based conflict with staggered objectives through interesting and fascinating environments built with idTech. It’s not as special as the hype from Splash Damage and Bethesda may have had you believe, but it’s good solid gameplay of a kind I enjoy.

This all combined to make a game that seemed right up my alley. Then they revealed their parkour system. A button that when held down not only makes you character sprint but also enables them to freely traverse the environment, free-running style. I was a huge Mirror’s Edge booster and I’m a fan of the environment navigation in Assassin’s Creed. I was hooked.

Then I second guessed myself.

Continue reading


Technically that is only true in that this is my first post from my shiny new iPad 2. It is not my first post and I am far from the first iPad 2 owner. It is rather neat though.

Hopefully more on that later, but I am due down the pub in a few minutes.

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