September 2017

Battery always fully charged

by Volker Weber

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It‘s so good to finally have inductive charging on the iPhone. My Lumia never ran dry because I had Qi chargers around the house. The same happens with iPhone now.

The battery on the Watch also holds up well. It‘s at 71% after 13 hours, with about one hour of LTE standby. I did not place any calls though.

vowe.net

Nine months #dontbreakthechain

by Volker Weber

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First nine months of 2017 are completed. Are you still with me? My interesting challenge ist 1000 days. I am 854 days in, 146 to go. Feb 22 is the target date.

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And this is how you evolve a design

by Volker Weber

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These are three generations of Apple Watch. Do you notice the difference? There is none. Apple got the design right on the first product and they have been iterating the internals year after year. They have re-assigned the buttons since they did not get the software right in watchOS 1 and 2. But they kept a steady hand at the industrial design. Your first Apple Watch does not look different from the newest ones.

The Aluminium case comes in Gold, Silver and Space Gray. The Steel case is available in Stainless and Space Black Stainless. The Ceramic case comes in gray and white finishes. Watches can be 38 mm or 42 mm and bands are available in lots of materials and colors. There are special models in cooperation with Nike and Hermès. All of these options allow you to express yourself and to spend anywhere between 269 € and 1499 €.

But no matter what you spend, you will get an Apple Watch.

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Apple Watch LTE :: This is seriously cool

by Volker Weber

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Oh dear, this reminds me of my very first mobile phone, a Motorola 3200 International. Phone calls on the go, without a landline. Connected everywhere, without much effort.

Now I can do the same. Without a smartphone. This feels so weird. I am always alert because I don't feel my phone on me. Did I forget it somewhere, did I drop it? We are so used to always keep that phone safe, that it is almost second nature.

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It looks strange when you raise your wrist to accept a phone call. But with your AirPods it's completely natural and you cannot hear a difference to an iPhone call. It's not only phone calls. You can also send texts and iMessages. And you can reply to WhatsApp messages since they arrive as push notifications. iMessage stickers also work but show some artefacts from other frames.

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I may have to go back from using Outlook on the iPhone to the native messaging app. Outlook does not seem to work well over LTE, if at all.

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eSIM für Apple Watch Series 3 aktivieren

by Volker Weber

Das klingt eigentlich ganz einfach:

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Also habe ich da mal angerufen:

Da sehe ich Verbesserungspotential.

Wenn man dann mal durchkommt, geht alles ganz einfach. Der Kundenberater fügt dem Account eine Multi-SIM hinzu. Dann meldet man sich einmal ab und wieder an. Auf der Startseite findet man unten einen Eintrag mit einem Aktivierungslink.

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Klickt man auf diesen Link, zeigt das Kundencenter einen QR-Code an. Man wählt auf dem iPhone die Watch App und dort die Option Cellular. Dann kann man den Code einscannen und die App lädt das Profil in die Uhr. Fertig.

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Ab jetzt geht eigentlich alles automatisch. Die Watch verbindet sich nur dann mit LTE, wenn keine Wifi- oder Bluetooth-Verbindung möglich ist. Man kann LTE aber auch im Control Center der Watch abschalten.

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Apple Watch LTE :: All the notifications, not all the apps

by Volker Weber

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Apple Watch is designed to work with iPhone. On the App Store you will find iPhone apps that support the Watch. In watchOS 1, apps would execute on the iPhone and display on Watch. With watchOS 2 Apple released a native SDK that allowed apps to execute on the Watch itself, which sped up things considerably. Just by looking at App Store you cannot find out if an app runs natively on the Watch oder on iPhone.

Watch, Watch Series 1 and Series 2 can talk to iPhone via Bluetooth or WiFi. Watch Series 3 adds (optional) LTE. When your iPhone is on and has a network connection, you will get all notifications via WiFi or LTE. Rule of thumb: if your app can connect via WiFi, it can also connect via LTE. The app developer does not have to do anything for LTE to work. His app inherits LTE support from WiFi support.

Twitter just removed Watch support from their app. I have a hunch that happened because they don't support the WiFi connection and don't want LTE users to yell at them. I will have to find out one by one, which apps support this connection.

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iPhone 8 Plus :: One phantastic camera

by Volker Weber

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I don't look at cameras the same way as pixel pushers do. The only thing that counts for me is how photos turn out. This is a split second snapshot I made this morning. It's not the best of a series. It's just one single attempt at getting it right. And boy, the camera delivered. For this kind of result I used to get the Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm f/1.4 glass. Megapixels don't matter. If you just compare iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus on megapixel count, you might come to the conclusion that both have 12 megapixels and should render the same results. And you would be very wrong.

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Apple Watch :: Do you need to upgrade?

by Volker Weber

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There are three generations of Apple Watches:

The photo above shows an Apple Watch, an Apple Watch Series 2 and an Apple Watch Series 3. I do not have an Apple Watch Series 1. Forget about the material, because that isn't important. It's just a matter of personal preferences and how much money you want to spend.

What you see is that the Apple Watch does not get thinner. It gets thicker. But trust me, it feels the same. The body itself does not get bigger. It's the sensor thing sticking out the back that is getting thicker. It is growing ever so slowly that you do not notice. Since the steel Watch on the left is heavier than the aluminium Watch in the middle it actually feels more substantial than the thicker Series 2.

What is important is that the Watch is getting faster and more capable. Series 2 adds GPS and a better display, Series three adds LTE with the exception of entry level aluminium models. The more expensive ones all have LTE. The thing you cannot see is how much faster it got. And I don't want to give you any numbers. It's very simple: if you only want notifications and simple activity tracking, Apple Watch and Series 1 are good. If you want to track your runs with your route, you want (or keep) Series 2. But if you want to use any additional apps, Series 3 is a great upgrade. This thing loads apps so much faster.

I can say with great confidence that you should buy a Series 3 and don't save some money by going with Series 1. You don't have to invest in fancy bands. Put everything into the Watch and go with the simple Sport band. I love the Nike band, but the new Nike Series 3 isn't out yet.

And then there is LTE connectivity. I made a couple of adjustments to my Telekom plan and will add the Watch Series 3 soon. This needs further research.

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iPhone 8 Plus :: Design

by Volker Weber

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You may have seen a lot of hands-on videos about the new iPhone 8 and some of them have stated that the new devices were only marked with an Apple logo and the iPhone mark on the back. No, FCC markings for instance. If you were looking forward to a clean iPhone back, the European model might leave you disappointed. It adds the CE mark and the don't dispose mark. Rules are rules. To soften the blow, Apple also put two lines of text on.

Most people will never know since almost all iPhones live in a case. Mine do since I drop things all the times. iPhones don't respond well to that. The iPhone 8 now has a glass back like the iPhone 4 did, which is still my favorite design. Apple says the glass is really tough, but you cannot make surface scratch resistant and impact resistant at the same time. If you are like me, I'd recommend a case. Apple has made their new cases a wee bit larger to accommodate both the iPhone 7 and 8. The old cases fit, but they are very tight.

If you are like Ute who never ever drops anything and is extra careful with things, you will probably enjoy the gold version of the new iPhones. The back isn't white but cream, which goes very well with the gold frame. It's not a style I prefer but it is indeed really really nice. I am not particularly fond of the Apple space greay color palette. It's not even a single color. Last year we discussed black and jet black. I had a black iPhone 7 Plus and that turned out to be much more slippery than the jet black one. You can try this with any aluminium back iPhone. They are less slippery if you hold them with the screen in your hand instead of the back.

And that's the less reported good news about the iPhone 8. The glass back makes you less likely to drop the phone.

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iPhone 8 Plus :: Qi inductive charging just works

by Volker Weber

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Every single one of my Nokia Qi chargers works with the iPhone 8 Plus. Through the Apple case. It’s good to have standards.

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A day to remember

by Volker Weber

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I am not a frequent flyer. I once was, but I have been cutting my CO2 footprint a lot. Most of the events are live streamed today. But once in a while it's good to talk to real people, especially in individual one-on-one meetings. Yesterday was a day I was going to fly into London for two hour meetings. My plan was to go in on LH 928 scheduled to arrive at LCY at 8:40 local and to return from LHR at 15:30, both on Economy Light without checked baggage. Meetings from 10:45 to 12:45 with some breathing time before and after. Little did I know that nothing was going to go according to this plan. But then it did, thanks to Robert, Flo, Martin & Ute.

As I arrived at Frankfurt Airport 7:10, already checked in for a flight leaving at 8:10, I got an SMS from Lufthansa. My flight was cancelled. I approached a desk and was told that I had been reschulded to LH 906 leaving at 12:00. That was too late for my meetings and I asked to be put on an earlier flight. There were no seats available for regular travellers. I asked to be put on standby for LH 900 leaving at 8:00 for LHR. That is a lot further out, but since I had some additional time planned, I would have made it for the meeting.

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LH 900 was fully booked with quite a few people on standby. After everybody had boarded and all the other people from the waiting list had disappeared, the ground crew was missing one passenger with checked baggage. If this passenger would not be found on the plane, that seat was mine. But it should not be. While I was waiting a new player showed up: a status flyer that would bump me off that flight, because she was exercising her privilige to be put on an earlier flight.

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The Lufthansa ground crew was stellar. They put her on that flight, but in the very second they took her off LH 902 they put me into her place. Now I had a confirmed seat and a boarding pass for LH 902 scheduled to leave at 9:00 and arriving at LHR 9:40 local. This was only 50 minutes after my original departure, but in a more remote destination. It would be a tight squeeze. If the flight would only arrive a few minutes early I could make my meetings via Heathrow Express to Paddington and the Tube to my destinationin Soho. Ten minutes later LH 902 was delayed by 30 minutes, and then by another half hour. I arrived about the time my meeting was going to start, still an hour away from the location.

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But I was safe. Before I even boarded Heathrow Express Martin had rescheduled my meetings. Meanwhile LH 909 leaving LHR at 15:30 local was cancelled. I did not know about that but Flo rebooked me on LH 911 an hour later. Lose an hour, win an hour. I still had those two meeting hours I had planned for.

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Back at the airport at 15:00 LH 911 was delayed to 17:00, then to 17:45. I was anxious it might also get cancelled but it eventually left LHR at 18:55 wheels up. Back in Frankfurt one hour later at 21:00 local Ute picked me up. I was home more than 15 hours after I left. Frau Brandlinger was thrilled to see me.

I have to thank everybody who made this happen, despite all the difficulties. You are stars!

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Trust is built in drops and lost in buckets

by Volker Weber

There was a Sonos leak yesterday, and it bothered me. It bothered me a lot.

Why did it bother me? The information was leaked by a person I would have trusted. A person who knows exactly what he is doing. Somebody who knows about NDAs, has signed many, and still goes ahead breaching one because he did not sign it himself.

If you trust me with information that should not be published, I will not publish it. I never did, I never will.

And that is why you never need me to sign an NDA.

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init - der Wochenausblick: von Ignite bis ABBA

by Volker Weber

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Nach der Bundestagswahl müssen alle erst mal tief durchatmen. Vox Populi hat gesprochen und es wurde erwartungsgemäß Vox Rindvieh. Aber die IT-News lassen sich davon nicht aufhalten

More >

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iPhone 8, die kleine Schwester des iPhone X

by Volker Weber

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Wer mag schon das zweitschönste Auto oder das zweitbeste Essen? Deshalb warten die Apple-Fans auf das iPhone X. Dabei liefert schon das iPhone 8 bemerkenswerte Ergebnisse, vor allem in der Kamera-Software.

More >

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Stuff that (suddenly) works :: Eve Weather

by Volker Weber

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It's been almost two years since I gave up on the Eve Weather. Or I should say almost gave up. I just left it where it was, exchanged the batteries once, and it kept on doing its thing. Sometimes I would open the app and let it fetch weeks of data, but I did not care much about it.

Boy, have things changed.

Elgato fixed the barometer settings, Apple fixed HomeKit, and with iOS 11 Apple also fixed Bluetooth. And suddenly Eve Weather works as it always should have. Elgato was early in on HomeKit and I believe they hurt themselves big time. But finally things start to improve. More HomeKit gear is showing up, not the least because Apple went from hardware based authentication to software based, which makes it a lot easier to build HomeKit gear.

I am glad I held onto the Eve Weather and that I can reverse my judgement.

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Thinkpad 25 Anniversary Edition

by Volker Weber

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Winfuture has leaked images and specs of a 25 years anniversary edition Thinkpad. It looks to be based on the current T470 model. Look at all the ports! Fullsize Ethernet!

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I am a very early ThinkPad user. I actually have one that is already 24 years old. Will need to post some photos. It looks like this.

More >

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Update-Zyklus: iOS 11 hängt Android 7 und 8 ab

by Volker Weber

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Zwei Tage nach der Freigabe von iOS 11 hat das neue Betriebssystem prozentual mehr Endgeräte erreicht als die neuesten Android-Versionen 7 und 8 in einem ganzen Jahr.

More >

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Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + LTE

by Volker Weber

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Ich habe sehr viele widersprüchliche Reviews zur Apple Watch 3 gelesen. Dabei blieb mir genug Zeit, diese Informationen zu ordnen und ich will gerne weitergeben, was ich gelernt habe.

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watchOS 4 ist einfach besser

by Volker Weber

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Eine bessere Auswertung der Herzfrequenzmessung oder ein schnellerer Zugriff auf die Musiksteuerung, hier Spotify mit Sonos. watchOS 4 ist an vielen Stellen verbessert, ohne dass auch die ersten Apple Watch ausgebremst werden. So entwickelt man ein Produkt sauber weiter.

Apple beweist bei der Watch eine ruhige Hand.

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After the iOS 11 Upgrade :: Choose your file formats

by Volker Weber

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iOS 11 uses new container formats for photos and videos. For the time being I prefer the old more ubiquitous formats, although they are larger. Set in Settings/Camera/Formats.

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Samsung finally starts addressing their Clippy-problem

by Volker Weber

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Bixby is Samsung's Clippy. An annoying assistant nobody really wants, besides Samsung of course. If you bought a recent Galaxy S8 or Note 8, it comes with an extra button that summons Bixby. It was the single most annoying feature when I tested the Galaxy S8.

You can finally disable the single press on this button. Holding the button will still open Bixby Voice. Imagine you could assign this button to something useful. Like Google Assistant for instance.

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Neu auf Heise Online: init - der Wochenausblick

by Volker Weber

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Ich habe etwas neues auf Heise Online begonnen. Montags erscheint jetzt regelmäßig ein Ausblick auf die Woche. Das muss sich erst noch ein bisschen einüben. Gerne nehme ich Tipps für zukünftige Folgen entgegen. Das sind die beiden ersten:

init - der Wochenausblick: Deutschland wählt und der IT-Herbst beginnt
heise online, 18.09.2017

init - der Wochenausblick: Zwischen iPhones und Elektroautos
heise online, 11.09.2017

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Can you see where this is going?

by Volker Weber

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I used to say that before you marry a girl, throw her in the pool. Only if she comes out laughing trying to throw you in, you found the right one. I no longer say that, because everybody is carrying a smart phone, all of the time. Chances are, you are going to not only ruin a perfectly good phone.

Do you think this will go on forever? I find myself leaving the phone behind more often. But when I do that, I am completely off the grid. The Apple Watch has given me an opportunity to catch important notifications and even answer a phone call. But I have to be close to the phone. This will change.

Everybody is reporting that the red dot model, the one with LTE, lets you make phone calls without your phone. That's only for emergencies though, since the LTE connection eats into the battery. Even a fully charged watch will not survive a single conference call. But the Series 3 watch adds more, for instance a faster CPU. Siri can now talk back to you. Add your AirPods, your Apple Music streaming, and that NFC connection to leading gym equipment, and you will go to the gym without your phone.

If your draw a line from where the Apple Watch started, to the Watch Series 2 which added GPS, and the Series 3 that adds LTE, I can see where this is going. When (if?) Siri gets smarter, as LTE gets replaced with less power hungry 5G, we might be wearing our morst important connection to the digital world on our wrists and not grasping it with our hands always afraid to drop it. We still need a large display, we still want a camera. Just maybe not all of the time.

And, isn't this pretty? Everybody I know who has a Nike Sports Band loves it.

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And what about the iPhone 8 Plus?

by Volker Weber

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I am an iPhone Plus user. I like the large display and the dual camera. I can tolerate the huge size, since it also has a larger battery than the smaller model. I find the regular iPhone easier to handle, but it has neither of these features. If you have an iPhone 6S Plus or a 7 Plus, there is no immediate need to upgrade to an 8 Plus, but there are some interesting differences to look at.

The size is almost identical, the buttons are in the same place, the existing cases should work. Almost means that the iPhone 8 is a fifth of a millimeter larger in all three dimensions, and the weight goes up from 188 to 202 grams. The glass back enables wireless charging with Qi chargers. This works with all existing Qi chargers and also works when the iPhone is inside a (non metallic) case. There are no black options anymore, you only get silver, gold and space grey. The space grey one has a black front, the other two are white. I have a strong preference for the silver/white body, just like I do with the iPhone X.

The most interesting difference to me is the new camera. It's still 12 MP, but the sensor is larger, and the new A11 Bionic chip has new capabilities. You can now record 4k with 24, 30 or 60 fps, where the iPhone 7 Plus only had 30 fps. Slow motion videos can now be recorded in 1080p with 120 or 240 fps, where the 7 Plus had to reduce to 720p for 240 fps, which isn't good enough. I only ever used 1080p/120fps.

When shooting photos, the 8 Plus has two new tricks. It can now use slow sync flash, which means it keeps the shutter open longer and uses a strobe light for a more even illumination. With a quick flash you can't capture as much of the background as you can do with a slow sync. Finally, to complement Portrait Mode, Apple releases Portrait Lighting in beta for the 8 Plus. Both modes are only available in the dual camera models.

iPhone 8 Plus adds a True Tone Display like the iPad Pros have. It adjust white balance to the ambient light. If you put an iPhone 7 next to an iPad Pro you can see a big difference under artificial light. While the iPad Pro looks normal, the iPhone display is blue-ish. With the iPhone 8 Plus Apple now also supports Dolby Vision and HDR10. That means much more colorful videos, that you would probably be enjoying more on larger displays.

Finally, the 6-core A11 Bionic chip is as fast as a current MacBook Pro. We don't know yet what we can do with that much power. All we know today is that this new iPhone generation leaves everything else in the dust. There is no competing product with this level of performance.

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Nigel Stanford :: Automatica

by Volker Weber

More >

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Second monthly update for Moto Z2 Play

by Volker Weber

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I am seeing a pattern. OK, its August update in September, and July update in August, but Moto is on a monthly and not a quarterly update cycle. Much better than Huawei for instance.

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iOS 11 Control Center is customizable

by Volker Weber

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I added the icons in the last row, amongst them the TV remote.

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vowe.net outage :: This was a big one

by Volker Weber

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A bit of history. The site used to run in shared hosting at 1&1. When that broke, Stefan let me host on his server. The site got faster, much faster actually, and he added SSL via LetsEnrcypt.

Once in a while the site crashes. When that happens, Stefan has to restart it. If it happens at night or while he is working, it may take a few hours, but then it's coming back. I like to phrase it as "vowe.net is taking a bath and will come back squeaky clean".

Well, not this time.

The server hardware was failing. More precisely, the storage was failing. It’s a simple RAID 1 setup. Two drives, one holds a copy of the other. When a drive fails, which does happen more often than you think, you just replace it, the data gets synced back and everything is back in good shape.

Well, not this time.

While the RAID was rebuilding, the other drive failed as well. Again, this is more common than you might think, especially if you have Seagate Barracuda drives. (Hint: not recommended). Rebuilding puts a lot of stress on the old drive, and this time around it failed. If you followed along, that means catastrophic failure. Everything is lost.

Not, if you are Stefan.

Stefan has been doing server farms for more than a decade, on a very large scale. When a RAID drive fails, you don’t replace it. You take it offline so that nothing writes to it. Then you make a fresh backup. Only then do you start replacing the failed drive and rebuilding the RAID.

So this happened. Both redundant drives failed. Both have been replaced. The RAID synced. The hoster put on a clean o/s. And then the real work started. Stefan installed all the server software and moved some 70 GB of data from his home back to the server. He is still ironing out the details. That sounds easier than it is, if you are already living a 25 hour day.

The real hero here is Stefan. Under normal circumstances, this site would have died this week.

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iOS 11 camera has automatic QR scanner

by Volker Weber

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Just point at a QR code and it will scan it and offer the action therein. Game changer.

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What happens when vowe.net goes offline

by Volker Weber

When vowe.net goes offline, a number of things happen:

  1. Stefan and I get robo messages every 30 minutes, telling us the site is down.
  2. I send Stefan a text, just in case.
  3. Many of you send me many emails, texts, whatsapp, etc. asking me if I know that ...
  4. When Stefan is not sleeping or not at work, he fixes the problem. It's his server. I am only a guest.
  5. When the server is back up, we get another message telling us the site is online.

Often these problems can be resolved with a reboot. If the site goes offline at night, there is nobody to wake it up until the next morning. If the problem cannot be resolved with a reboot, it may take longer to fix. As it did today.

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There are two Seagate Barracudas in the server, and they are both dying. First thing you do is to no longer write to the disks and make another backup. Stefan has done this. Now we are waiting for the disks to be replaced. That means the site can go offline again. If that happens, don't worry.

Don't mail, text or whatsapp. Yes, we know. :-)

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Ganz schön teuer

by Volker Weber

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Das iPhone X ist schön. Und teuer. Ich denke, das löst ein Apple-Problem nicht: Die iPhone X sind extrem rar. Aktuell soll die Produktion nur 10.000 Stück täglich hergeben. "Nur 10.000", das muss man sich mal vor Augen halten. Aber wenn Apple in einem Quartal mehr als 40 Millionen iPhones verkauft, dann würde es bei dieser Ausbeute 4000 Tage oder etwa 11 Jahre dauern, diese Menge als iPhone X herzustellen. Ein hoher Preis drosselt zwar nach der Preis-Absatzfunktion die Nachfrage, aber das gilt nicht im Luxussegment, speziell dann nicht, wenn die Ware nur schlecht verfügbar ist.

Und nicht vergessen, da treten Käufer auf, die bei ihrem Auto mal schnell ein Kreuzchen bei der gewünschten Farbe machen. Und noch viele weitere.

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Upgrade your old Apple Watch to Series 3 GPS+LTE

by Volker Weber

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Well, not really. ;-)

More >

[Thanks, Max]

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Another reason to not buy from Samsung

by Volker Weber

There is a new attack vector for Bluetooth. It affects almost all devices. This is how vendors reacted to it:

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Google issued a security bulletin and a fix for Android a few days before the disclosure. We all know how long it may take to get this fix into OEM Android devices. Microsoft fixed Windows months ago. Apple had already mitigated the problem. Linux is just updating.

And Samsung? They did not give a sh!t. Samsung makes great hardware and terrible software.

[Thanks Max & Ragnar]

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The moment Face ID appeared to fail

by Volker Weber

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Face ID works extremely fast. Unless it doesn't. When Hairforce One demoed the iPhone X one hour 36 minutes into the keynote, it wouldn't immediately unlock. He tried again and quickly gave up. "Let's go to backup". You cannot debug an unexpected situation when presenting at high pace. This has all been rehearsed many times.

If you look at the screen though, you will see it didn't fail. It just asked for the passcode to enable the feature. It's the normal behaviour. Well, of course Apple could have rebooted the device before the presentation, triggering the passcode prompt for that particular day. I am sure they will next time. ;-)

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A few thoughts on the Apple keynote

by Volker Weber

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This has been a very enjoyable event. Tim started with a beautiful nod to Steve Jobs. He also addressed the American soul with mentioning an effort to help the victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He was followed by a rather uninspiring segment on Apple retail by Angela Ahrendts before kicking it off for real. Here are my thoughts, not in chronological order:

I am upgrading my devices to iOS 11, watch OS 3 and tvOS 11 golden masters before they become available. A week from now all Apple customers with iPhone 5S and newer, with all Watch models and Apple TV 4 will get software upgrades, on the same day for everyone. This week is meant for app developers to check their software for last minute bugs, but I am taking the risk now. We test stuff so you don't have to.

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PS: My prediction regarding iPhone branding was complete nonsense. Apple is keeping the number scheme. X is pronounced 10. Which makes next year even more interesting.

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From my inbox

by Volker Weber

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Ich liebe diese Überraschungen. Danke Christian.

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No more upgrades for the BlackBerry PRIV

by Volker Weber

Alex Thurber, who is responsible for the mobile business at BlackBerry, has confirmed what I told you long ago: no upgrades from Android Marshmallow for the PRIV. This particular phone already received one upgrade from Android Lollipop. Alex evades questions about the DTEK phones, but I am pretty sure they will also remain on Marshmallow. BlackBerry is out of the phone business and their software customers who may have bought DTEKs, aren't really interested in upgrades. They want monthly security updates and that is what Thurber promises to provide.

The KEYone is a different story. That already ships with Nougat and will receive an upgrade to Oreo. Once it is there, it will be easier to provide updates and even more upgrades. And BlackBerry Mobile (TLC) has new devices in the pipeline. I supspect they will ship with Nougat and upgrade later.

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SmartMoof

by Volker Weber

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Remember my test ride with the VanMoof Electrified S? This bike has lots of smarts, and it also comes with an app. Which unfortunately isn't really good. That is why Max, who owns this bike, wrote a better app.

The app provides comprehensive information about the bike, the most important one is the status for the two batteries. One drives the motor, one drives the lock and the onboard computer. The bike itself only has a four segment instrument. Two segments lit means your drive battery is between 26% and 50%, which makes a huge difference. SmartMoof tells you the exact charge level, even if you are away from the bike. It also displays your current charge level and your speed if you mount your phone to the handlebar of your bike.

There is lots of other information. You can reset two odometers, maybe one when the battery is full, the other one when you start your trip. You get a better understanding how far you can go on that charge. I won't bore you with the rest, but the app also contains the vital unlock command. Walk up to your bike, and as you get out your phone you can release the lock.

The next step is quite obvious: provide the unlock on an Apple Watch. That's not here yet, but I am pretty sure Max wants that too.

Before you buy the app, make sure you have a VanMoof Electrified S bike. Or buy the app anyway, just to support a young student.

More >

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Liveauskunft beim RMV

by Volker Weber

Frankfurt. HERE Technologies integriert in seiner Smartphone-App HERE WeGo jetzt Live-Auskünfte über Bahn- und Busverbindungen im gesamten RMV-Gebiet. Dadurch sind die Nutzer der kostenlosen App bei ihrer Routenplanung auch immer über kurzfristige Fahrplanänderungen in Echtzeit informiert. Entwickler, die mit der Programmierschnittstelle für den öffentlichen Nahverkehr von HERE (HERE Transit API) arbeiten, profitieren ebenfalls von dieser Erweiterung des Angebots an weltweiten Informationen zu öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln.

Google Maps und Apple Maps sind für die meisten Leute die Standard-Apps, wenn es um Karten auf dem Smartphone geht. Ich habe aber aus Nokia-Zeiten eine andere Vorliebe: HERE WeGo. Und das bietet im Rhein-Main-Gebiet nun Live-Auskünfte. Das heißt, dass die App genau weiß, wann ein Öffi die Haltestelle anfährt. Das führt zu besseren Routen und zu weniger Hektik. Damit sowas funktioniert, braucht man Schnittstellen:

Die Einbindung der RMV-Verbindungsauskunft in Navigationsdienste wie HERE WeGo wird ermöglicht durch die OpenAPI-Schnittstelle des RMV. Diese steht allen Entwicklern von Apps und weiteren Mobilitätsanwendungen offen. Neben HERE haben sich bislang rund 50 weitere Unternehmen und Entwickler unter https://opendata.rmv.de/ für das Angebot registriert.

So richtig gut wäre es, wenn nicht jedes Gallische Dorf eine eigene Schnittstelle bräuchte.

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Logitech POP :: First Impressions

by Volker Weber

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Woah. This was the easiest and best home improvement ever. And I have been meaning to do it for a year.

As you assemble more smart things in your home, life can become complicated. When we built our home, I decided for simplicity over flexibility. Pressing a light switch turns on a light. It does not ask a computer in the basement to please turn on a light. I have too much experience with software and obsolence to use cutting edge installations. I'd rather add them on top. That is why I did not put in smart switches, smart outlets, or other home automation systems. I do however add components on top of that dumb infrastucture. The biggest items are Sonos players and WeMo switches. Both have their own apps.

Sometimes you don't want to use an app to switch on a Sonos player, or a WeMo switch. You can walk up to the Sonos player and press Play/Pause, a WeMo switch also has a button that toggles it on and off. But what if you want to switch off all lights at once, or silence all Sonos players? What if you want your kitchen Sonos player to tune into your favorite radio station with the press of a button? That is where Logitech POP comes in.

POP is a versatile HomeKit-enabled platform. It also lets you directly control smart lights from Philips Hue, Insteon, LIFX and Lutron. It works with Sonos and platforms from SmartThings, Bekin WeMo and with IFTTT. It also ties into the Logitech Harmony system. (That's next on my list.)

Each POP button has three events: press, double press, long press. Each of these events can trigger multiple actions. I have programmed one button for Play/Pause on my living room Sonos setup, tuning the kitchen Sonos player to Ute's favorite station, and silencing all Sonos players throughout the house for those three events. Another button turns off all lights, turns on a certain set of lights, and tunes my bedroom Sonos to a particular Spotify playlist.

This elaborate setup took only a few minutes. Plug the bridge into a power outlet, no messy cables. Load the POP app on my iPhone, let the bridge connect to my Wifi and scan for all my devices, pair the two POP buttons, and then assign the actions. Easy peasy.

POP can also join your Apple Homekit setup. If you do that, you can trigger your Hometkit scenes without fetching your iPhone. To get started you need a kit with the bridge and one or two buttons. You can add more buttons later. Recommended!

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IBM Watson :: When marketing and reality collide

by Volker Weber

A fascinating and long read about IBM Watson

It was an audacious undertaking, even for one of the most storied American companies: With a single machine, IBM would tackle humanity’s most vexing diseases and revolutionize medicine.

Breathlessly promoting its signature brand - Watson - IBM sought to capture the world's imagination, and it quickly zeroed in on a high-profile target: cancer.

But three years after IBM began selling Watson to recommend the best cancer treatments to doctors around the world, a STAT investigation has found that the supercomputer isn’t living up to the lofty expectations IBM created for it. It is still struggling with the basic step of learning about different forms of cancer. Only a few dozen hospitals have adopted the system, which is a long way from IBM's goal of establishing dominance in a multibillion-dollar market. And at foreign hospitals, physicians complained its advice is biased toward American patients and methods of care.

I would think that there are different Watson products, where marketing and reality collide much harder.

More >

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Rot oder weiß :: Und es geht nicht um Pommes

by Volker Weber

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Heute ein paar neue Kicks eingefädelt. Dabei waren Schnürsenkel in weiß und rot. Weiß ist klassisch, rot aber auch nicht schlecht. Ich war unentschlossen, und habe abstimmen lassen. (Nein, wer den normalen Twitter-Client nicht hat, kann das nicht.) Das Ergebnis war eigentlich eindeutig. Wenn drei Viertel der IT-Fuzzis sagen, weiß ist besser, dann nimmt man rot.

Richtig bescheid weiß aber nur Daniela: Man lässt sie ganz weg.

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Stuff that works :: Moto Mods

by Volker Weber

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Ich war wirklich sehr skeptisch, was die Moto Mods angeht, als ich sie letztes Jahr kennen lernte. Ein modulares Smartphone? Papperlapapp.

Aber nun benutze ich das Moto Z2 Play parallel zum iPhone und meine Meinung hat sich geändert. Zwei Mods benutze ich dauernd: das TurboPower Mod und das JBL Soundboost. Nach einem langen Tag war gestern das iPhone so leer, dass es abgeschmiert ist und auf die udoq-Schiene musste. Das Z2 Play konnte noch, am zweiten Tag immerhin noch halb voll, einfach weil ich es nicht so viel nutze. Aber dieses Gerät kommt auch niemals ans Ladegerät. Einfach das TurboPower Mod hinten drauf und nach gut einer halben Stunde war es wieder voll, ohne dass ich es aus der Hand geben musste. Sowas ist einfach sehr entspannend.

Screenshot 20170906-233442

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Logi Circle 2 jetzt mit HomeKit-Unterstützung

by Volker Weber

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Seit Apple es einfacher gemacht hat, Produkte für Homekit zu zertifizieren, tauchen immer mehr Updates auf. Heute die Logi Circle 2. Ein Firmware-Update später ist die Kamera integriert.

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Mooooment. Ganz so einfach ist das nicht. Man geht zunächst in die Settings, dort in die Smart Home Integrations, Apple Homekit. Wenn man den Homekit-Support dort einschaltet, reagiert der Slider sehr verzögert. Er versetzt die Kamera nämlich in den Pairing-Modus. Sollte ab jetzt etwas schief gehen, muss man die Kamera einmal neu starten. Im nächsten Schritt öffnet man die Home App und fügt ein neues Accessory hinzu. An dieser Stelle kommt der Stolperstein. Man braucht nämlich den identifizierenden Homekit-Code. Und den findet man nur an zwei Stellen: im Quick Setup Guide und auf der Rückseite des Kamera-Moduls. Auf Anhieb habe ich gesagt: fehlt hier und da.

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Aber dann habe ich das Kamera-Modul mit der Lupe untersucht. Tief verborgen in der Rille zwischen dem weißen und dem schwarzen Bauteil sind auf dem schwarzen Bauteil sämtliche Nummern aufgedruckt, etwa Seriennummer, MAC-Adresse und eben dieser Setup-Code, der etwa so aussieht 123-45-678. Sieg!

Wie schwierig ist das zu finden? Eine andere Perspektive mit einer Ein-Cent-Münze zum Vergleich:

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Fritz!OS 6.90 ist da

by Volker Weber

AVM FRITZOS Die neue Mesh-Verbindungsgrafik

Es passiert nicht so häufig, dass ich mich auf eine Beta-Version in meiner kritischen Infrastruktur einlasse. Aber das Fritz!Labor zur Version 6.90 hat sich gelohnt. Und jetzt bin ich froh, dass die Updates erst mal ausbleiben. Aktuell gibt es die neue Version nur auf der 7580 und der 7560 sowie einer Menge einfacherer Komponenten: den Repeatern 1750E, 1160, 310 und 450E, sowie den Powerline-Geräten 1260E, 1240E, 540E und 546E. Weitere Modelle wie die neue 7590 und die 7490 sollen folgen.

Bei mir läuft das Release auf meiner 7580 und zwei 1750E. Das 7590-Testgerät habe ich erstmal wieder stillgelegt.

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How much stuff do we really need?

by Volker Weber

Sketch

Recently I said that most people don't really need a private PC. Today I received an interesting comment making a point that if he only knew how to solve backup, he would not need a PC and would be fine with an iPad. Since I live on many machines, literally dozens, I had to solve this problem a while ago. But before we get there, let's take a detour into the physical world.

Sometimes I marvel at the simplicity of a dog's life. The only things the dog needs are on its body. Go for a walk? Sure, right away. Nothing to pack, nothing to drag along, just go. It does not even need a bar of soap or a tooth brush. Zero luggage. As humans, we cannot afford this luxury. Without some clothing or shelter, we won't survive long.*

We start hording stuff at a very young age. But we arrive on this world naked and we leave it behind in a similar fashion. Your last shirt does not have pockets. All the stuff we accumulated and did not get rid of in time, is either a heritage or a burden. And unless you were a really good person or a really bad one, in 200 years nobody will know that you even existed.

Of all the stuff you have, what is your most precious possession? What is it that you would grab in case of a flood or a fire? Chances are it has a heartbeat. And then some papers. And photos. Because photos link to memories in your brain. But all that junk in the attic? That is for the next generation to take care of.

Back to the digital life. Go through your data, your old office documents, your music, files you don't even know they existed. When you make a backup, you will back up all of them, indiscriminately. They all appear to have similar value. But they don't. I have 20 year old files I cannot even read anymore, since I don't have software that understands them. (Notes databases, ahem).

Now we go full circle. What is really important? What do you grab in case of fire or flood? From the top of my head, the most import data is unfinished business. Stuff I am working on and that I owe to somebody. As somebody working on a doctoral thesis, that would be your research, your literature, your manuscript. Once you have your PhD, that data becomes almost irrelevant, unless it is a foundation of your further career. But that is work-related. I was asking why you need a personal PC, a machine to keep your personal data.

If you watch Casey Neistat's most recent video, you will find him traveling to Houston where his inlaws' house was flooded. What are they saving, apart from valuables? Photos, photos, photos. For most people those are their most precious possessions. "This is Candice in middleschool. Gross." They are not of monetary value, but they mean a lot to you because they bring back memories. Talk to elderly people. Memories is all they care about. And that is what you give them as a gift. Memories, not stuff.

Which leads me back to the storage question. Besides the unfinished business, what is really important? I'd wager it's photos. They are on your phone, there may be copies on a computer, on multiple storage media, and there is too many of them, way too many. You really don't need a hundred thousand photos, but there is a shoebox of photos burried underneath that pile that is really important.

For me that means, every unfinished business is in the cloud. I can access it from all my machines. Each photo I want to keep is also in the cloud, actually in multiple places. My machines replicate that data, but they can break, die in a fire or a flood, and I still have all that data. If I am testing new gear for a few weeks, I can get at that data. And before I return the machine, I can wipe it clean without losing a bit of information.

Yes, there are business records I need to keep, but most of them are on paper, and the few electronic ones fit on a thumbdrive. Once in a while I go through my mailbox with a simple command: delete every email that has a photo or a video larger than 2 MB embedded. If that photo or video was of any importance, it already is in the cloud. It's actually a lot of work to get rid of stuff. All those mp3 files I ripped a few years ago? I never touch them, my music streams from the cloud.

Office 365 gives you a terabyte of storage. You can pay Apple for two terabytes of storage. All of that is cheaper than running your own IT operation.

My theory is that you will one day lose your unfinished business data, the stuff you are working on, because it was not continuously backed up into the cloud. And you also will one day lose your most precious photos for the same reason. But once you liberate yourself rom protecting local storage, your life becomes more like a dog's life. Not much to worry about.

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*) I never travel with more than 8 kg including the bag, which is the weight limit for carry-on luggage. I have done as little as 5.1 kg for five days, including the little gear I travel with.

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KEYone screen is easy to replace :: the battery not so much

by Volker Weber

The screen on the KEYone is very easy to replace, as Jerry show in this video. As he has shown in a different video before, it either comes off almost by itself, or you have to use brute force to remove it. But once it is out, you just have to remove the backplate, unfasten a few screws and replace one ribbon cable. The part itself isn't too expensive either. You also get an idea on how to fix a screen that falls out, after the warranty runs out.

The battery however is glued in with a large piece of adhesive and almost impossible to get out. Bending or puncturing the battery can quickly lead to a substantial fire.

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Hip, hip, Huawei

by Volker Weber

Kollege Volker Briegleb auf der IFA, mit einer Spiderweb App auf seinem Huawei Mate 9. Au Backe, das kann vielleicht nicht jede Handy-Butze reparieren. Aber Du ahnst es nicht: Huawei hat vor dem Pressezentrum ein Repair Center. Wie schlau ist das denn?

Das Huawei P10 macht übrigens einen Riesenspaß. Und die Chinesen "teasen" schon wie verrückt ihren nächsten Mate-Launch am 16. Oktober in München. Der Kirin 960 im P10 ist verrückt schnell. Ich hoffe sie vermasseln jetzt nicht den "KI-Prozessor" Kirin 970.

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Laptop für @froileinmueller

by Volker Weber

Anna-Lena arbeitet bis Ende Oktober bei Microsoft und ich mag sie sehr. Auf Twitter fragt sie nach einem Laptop, den sie sich selbst kaufen will. Starker Favorit bei vielen Kommentatoren ist das MacBook in 12", immerhin 1499 € teuer, oder gleich das MacBook Pro für 1749 €.

Ich würde nur ca 1150 € ausgeben und habe dafür mehrere Alternativen. Dabei mache ich verschiedene Annahmen: Touchscreen (findet Anna-Lena gut), vielleicht Pen, 256 GB Speicher und (bei Windows) 8 GB RAM. Und chic sollen sie auch sein. Meine drei Favoriten sind iPad Pro 10.5, Surface Pro 4 und Lenovo Yoga 910.

MPTL2 AV2

Die meisten Menschen brauchen keinen Laptop. Ausnahme: Softwareentwicklung. Für Anna-Lena fände ich einen iPad Pro mit dem Apple Keyboard perfekt. Das ist das leichteste und kleinste Package, mit dem man noch kommod tippen kann. Und wenn man sich einen Pencil kauft, eröffnen sich ganz neue Möglichkeiten.

iPad Pro 10.5 256 GB 829 €
Smart Keyboard 179 €
Pencil 109 €
Gesamt 1117 € (Listenpreis)

SP4 Typecover Red AngleView V2

Etwas konservativer, ein "richtiger" PC. Ich würde das Surface Pro 4 nehmen, weil das als altes Modell viel günstiger ist als das neue Surface Pro. Auch hier wieder mit Pen, der schon dabei ist. (Als Msft-Mitarbeiterin kauft man vielleicht auch ein neues Surface Pro oder Surface Laptop günstig ein).

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 i5/8/256 mit Pen 999 € (Cyberport Sale)
Surface Pro Type Cover 132 €
Gesamt 1131 €

lenovo-yoga-910

Wenn es ein Laptop sein soll, den man wirklich auf dem Schoß nutzen will und es keinen Pen braucht, dann finde ich die Lenovo Yoga Serie sehr nett. Hier wieder wegen des Preises ein altes Modell, der Lenovo Yoga 910. Der hat nur zwei Fehler: die Kamera unten knapp über Scharnier und eine unglückliche Cursortaste neben der rechten Shift-Taste. Aber das lernt man.

Lenovo Yoga 910 i5/8/512 (Cyberport Sale)
1149 €

Alle diese Maschinen sind sehr, sehr hochwertig. Kein billiger Plastikkram und entsprechend langlebig. Wenn man keinen Touchscreen braucht, dann taugt ein MacBook Pro oder ein Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon. Aber die sind gleich 50% teurer.

Das iPad-Erlebnis kann man billig nachbauen mit einem 128 GB 2017er iPad und einem Logitech Slim Folio für zusammen weniger als 600 €. Nachteile: Einfacherer Bildschirm, Pen geht nicht und die Tastaturverbindung ist per Bluetooth. Aber im Prinzip macht man damit die gleichen Dinge.

vowe.net

Do you use Alexa, Assistant, Cortana or Siri?

by Volker Weber

Sketch

The first thing I do on Windows is to set the language to English and the locale to Germany. This throws off Cortana, because nobody at Microsoft assumed that Germans would like English as their first language. I never use Siri on my Mac or Google Assistant on Android. I have played with Alexa, but she appears rather stupid. I use Siri to set alarms or timers on my Apple Watch, and I use Siri Dictation on the iPhone to spare me from thumb typing. I wish it would know when I am speaking German and when I am speaking English without me switching the language first.

The maturity of voice assistants is at about the same level as the Apple Newton was understanding your handwriting. So it does not matter to me at all how long Sonos needs to ship Alexa on Sonos. I expect severe disappointment when people start actually using it, especially when asking for English music with a German locale.

What about you?

vowe.net

Lenovo finally gets the Yoga right

by Volker Weber

360-degree hinge on Yoga 920

There has always been a "but" when it came to the Yoga 900/Pro series. My original Yoga Pro had an extra column of keys to the right and too much space above the keyboard. The 900 moved the keyboard back towards the screen but still had that extra column of keys. The 900s had a horizontal Enter key and moved the pound key one row up. The 910 got it almost right but had an arrow key left of the right shift key. That can throw you off easily.

Thin & light Yoga 920

One quick look at the 920 and I can see that Lenovo has finally got everything right. The arrow keys are just the same as they are on the Surface or a Macbook. I could jump right in without any adjustment. This machine is just beautiful. Up to 15 hours of battery for the 1080p version, more than 10 for the 4k screen. It's big and it's not the lightest around. 13.9 inch screen, 1.37kg total weight. But it has USB Type A and Type C ports, the camera is back at the top and it supports an active pen for Windows inking and Windows Hello for secure and fast login.

Write, sketch & take notes on Yoga 920

Fair warning to Lenovo: if you send the Yoga 920 to vowe's magic flying circus, it's gone for two years, not two weeks. This is the first machine that can challenge the Surface Pro.

vowe.net

Ein Gruß aus Berlin

by Volker Weber

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BlackBerry delivered in August

by Volker Weber

I am still watching BlackBerry and their Android security updates. In the month of August all BlackBerry Android devices received their updates, that means they are all on the August 05 patch level. DTEK60 had skipped the July update but it has now caught up to the DTEK50, PRIV and KEYone. PRIV is the oldest of them and launched 22 months ago. It received one software upgrade to Marshmallow. Both DTEKS shipped with Marshmallow. Now that BlackBerry has moved on, I don't expect software upgrades to Nougat or Oreo, but security updates should be continuing.

BlackBerry Mobile (TCL) is bullish about the KEYone and wants to upgrade it from Nougat to Oreo. They are also preparing the launch of an all touch BlackBerry device with dust and moisture protection. I expected this to happen at IFA, but it hasn't.

Just for comparison, the Moto Z2 Play has received a single update and is now on a July patch level, up from April, the Huawei P10 has received multiple and is still on May with a July update being rolled out.

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Ceci n'est pas un blog

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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