An Apple wish list for 2024 (hardware, software & services)

  • Apple TV store: TV shows on parity with films – e.g. offer 4K TV programme along with iTunes Extras for TV programmes (audio commentaries, featurettes, documentaries, and so on)
  • Apple Watch/Mac: Unlock Mac by having to double-tap side button of the Watch rather than simply just be within the distance of the Mac. I’ve locked the Mac and came back to find it already unlocked because it picked up on the Watch a while away. We need the double-tap to unlock to make (or at least feel like) the system is secure. Double-tap works already with the likes of 1Password – so why can’t this be implemented for unlocking the Mac when waking it up?
  • Apple TV store: Protection of purchased films and TV shows. If a distributor stops offering the film through Apple, Apple will gurantee to protect your purchase and make it available for streaming and download to your Apple devices even if it’s no longer for sale. This one is more of a legal/contractual issue with the studios and distributors, but an important one – especially in the age of streaming and fewer physical releases. I’m sick of getting screwed by third party distributors while my contract is with Apple (the film, Attila Marcel was removed from my Apple TV library after the UK distributor went bust – so I had to buy it on DVD instead).
  • Phone app: Better tools for managing nuisance/spam phone calls, including a global (or at least country-to-country) database of cold callers and spammers and filtered by reputation. Users have the ability to submit phone numbers as spam and the more reports – the greater the chance it’ll get blocked by phones everywhere. In other words, let’s apply RBLs and email fighting techniques to phone calls. This has become a real problem for me, and I’m looking to keep changing my phone number every few years as a result.
  • Phone hardware & Camera app: Give the iPhone multiple microphones and have the ability to record spatial audio in Dolby Atmos format. Add the ability to control the direction of the microphone, and reduce any background noises (like the camera operator’s breathing, etc.). Also offer the option to record HDR in different format other than Dolby Vision (e.g. HDR10).
  • External monitor: Cheaper (for them ~£1,500) Apple monitor that supports Dolby Vision HDR and at least 120Hz refresh rate. It’s embarrassing that barely any consumers can edit HDR video because of a complete lack of affordable Dolby Vision monitors.
  • Phone hardware & Camera app: I suspect this one is coming given the current rumours, but having a dedicated camera shutter button on the bottom right-hand side of the phone would be useful when shooting photos or video in horizontal mode. And even a camera shutter button on the top right-hand side in addition would be good too – for those that like to shoot vertically (or are left handed – the buttons should be treated like action buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max).

iOS Live Activities – great for public transport users like myself!

I’ve finally found an app that uses Live Activities under iOS. Available on both the lock screen and via Dynamic Island. It’s called UK Bus Checker and it’s one of the most useful apps on my phone. I paid the one-time fee of £3.99 to remove the ads and I’ve been using this thing for a good number of years. A bargain!

One of the most useful apps anyone that uses public transport should have

For the most part I just tend to use the Stagecoach app (where I can buy e-tickets for local bus services as well as get real-time information on where a bus is at any given time in my local area) and the South Western Railway app (again, for mobile e-tickets which I find more convenient than paper ones). While the Stagecoach app shows me real-time information for buses, it’s restricted only to the areas where they operate. The UK Bus Checker app works for practically every operator. So, if I’m in London, or visiting my dad, I can get up-to-date information right from the phone.

It’ll even check train times too!

In the example below, I’ve set the app to keep me informed of the 18:01 train to London Waterloo from Guildford. If that changes – a sudden delay – that’ll get updated accordingly. In the end I managed to get the 17:49 train which was on time…

After doing some shopping at the local Tesco’s, I set a similar notification for the next bus back to Woking. Here it’ll show the progress on the lock screen AND on the dynamic island:

Lock screen shows how long to wait, with a progress bar underneath
The Dynamic Island view shows the waiting time
As the waiting time goes down, the progress bar makes.. progress.

In the end, the bus turned up 2 minutes early. But the point is that having something like this is incredibly useful. You don’t need to keep unlocking the phone to see where your bus or train is. I’m surprised companies like Uber, Deliveroo or Just Eat haven’t implemented this yet.

Doctor, Doctor

Spoiler Alerts for the 60th Anniversary episode: The Giggle (and also spoilers for Star Trek: Picard)

You’ve got to admit, Russell T. Davies isn’t frightened to take a big gamble with some of the storylines on Doctor Who. And that’s why I like him (and Chris Chibnall who was the showrunner before him). You need to take big risks occasionally because the pay off – if it works – is enormously rewarding.

But there are always, always a few in the fandom that clearly have been satisfied with the fairy stories told to them as a child and probably berated their parents for the stories not being “canon” or realistic enough (“How did the wolf put on grandma’s clothes if he’s a wolf? And wouldn’t there have been a load of blood and left over bits when the wolf ate grandma? How did the wolf clean it all up in time?” and so on).

Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s good to switch your brain off and go back to the wonder of being told a tale that doesn’t make much sense if you try to look at it closely (or even mediumly – haha), but is full of wonder and adventure. The kind you got told as a kid but never questioned your grandma or your mum or dad. You just went with it. No holds barred.

Meeting the 6th Doctor at Guildford Comic Con

Doctor Who has been one of those shows. It’s “canon” and lore has been as fluid as water across the 60 years its been in existence. It’s had to adapt to the changing times from the 60s, to the 70s, 80s, 90s and so on. It’s about time travel through space and time, and anything that does that can alter the course of history and the future. So I fail to understand the anger when Chibnall or Davies makes adjustments to the show.

Colin Baker was an absolute gent. Me? Rabbit in the headlights.

Same for Star Wars. Or any other work of popular fiction. People get very worked up if things don’t go their way. It’s a bloody work of fiction. A fairy tale in space. Does it always have to make perfect sense? Does life itself make sense?

So the concept of “bi-regeneration” which has produced the 15th Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) keeps the 14th Doctor around the same time maybe new, but certainly not impossible within the confines of its fictional universe. What that means is David Tennant can return to the show at any time (either within Ncuti’s series or within his own), or the ending we see at the Noble’s house is simply left as is. Some have speculated that the 14th Doctor may eventually become “The Curator” in which Tom Baker made a small appearence in one of the Doctor Who specials with Matt Smith, John Hurt and David Tennant. It’s implied that the Doctor is capable (as we’ve seen in these 60th anniversary specials) of revisiting past “faces”. And besides which, given the time travel element, as well as the Doctor’s age, there are countless versions of the Doctor running around the universe at any given time (and space). Or that we might get a spin-off with the 14th Doctor remaining on Earth (like the Pertwee era) and helping UNIT defend Earth from the nasty evil space critters out there.

The Giggle demonostrated that (a) having international guest stars – especially from established scifi-dom – is a damn good idea and (b) gives the Doctor a good ending for a change – he’s been adopted by Donna Noble and her family and can finally find some sort of peace having defended the universe for centuries. At least for now.

This is very much like season three of Picard, in which throughout the three series Jean Luc Picard dies, is resurrected as an android, finds out that he has a son with Beverley Crusher, and once again defeats the Borg (before breakfast? Probably) – so don’t tell me that Doctor Who is highly far-fetched when far-fetchness is quite rampant elsewhere thankyouverymuch. The finale of Picard shows the former Enterprise crew all sitting around a table playing Poker, laughing and joking together as if they were a family, having once again saved the universe but are now free to settle down and enjoy life. Or at least until the next major disaster. Just like the 14th Doctor. But now the responsibility of saving the universe falls squarely upon the shoulders of the 15th Doctor.

Sometimes we need stories like this – no matter how insane or far-fetched they are. Reality can be just as weird, so just let yourself go and enjoy it. Or if you don’t like it, hold a chicken in the air and stick a deckchair up your nose.

The Games Awards 2023

While we didn’t see any new trailers for Death Stranding 2 at this year’s Game Awards, my employers released this trailer for the Dead By Daylight standalone game (which I must admit I haven’t played, but looks as if it’s playable via the Xbox PC Games pass on GeForce Now, so I really ought to give it a go to see what all the fuss is about):

And while there was no DS2 trailer, Kojima-san did reveal another new game he’s working on in conjunction with filmmaker Jodan Peele – OD (Overdose).

It uses Epic’s Metahuman technology (powered by Unreal Engine 5.2) which is really quite an incredible bit of technology. The whole facial animation is driven by an iPhone (which has also been used in controlling facial animatronics in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Big Bug). Anyway, this one’s going to be an Xbox exclusive.

The Wiki is live!

I’ve finally launched my own Wiki which is intended to be a place for notes that I make along the way when tinkering with stuff. Good to share what I know and have a single place to hold it all. At the moment the Tech Stuff shelf is live with articles under Mac and Linux. Windows articles are to follow, as well as Google Workspace tips too. Planning lots of other stuff as well – not just tech tips.

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Things happening in 2024..

  • Dropping EE. They may well have the fastest network, but none of that matters when it’s not backed up with consistently high support (sales or after sales). EE have somehow turned into Del Boy and willing to flog you anything and everything at every opportunity. They now ape the likes of O2 when it comes to separating the payments for your device and airtime. I’m still stuck on the old method until September 2024. But it’s all too late! Plus EE’s prices are extraordinarily high at the moment versus the competition. I expect I may move to either Three or Vodafone, and take out a new number – I’m being bombarded with scam and phishing calls every day and there’s little I can do about it because telecoms companies appear to be doing sweet FA to curb it. Phone manufacturers could also do much more to deal with the problem, but they don’t.
  • Dropping Sky TV. I really don’t watch that much TV these days, so paying £50/month for something that I don’t really watch that much doesn’t make sense. Sky Cinema doesn’t do much for me – it’d be cheaper to rent or even buy the films I want to watch. I don’t have a problem with the Stream device as such, but it’s essentially a glorified consolidator of existing streaming services. I already have that in the form of the Apple TV 4K box.
  • Dropping Netflix. It’s like gold hunting: having to spend considerable time to shift through all the crap to find that single nugget of gold. It isn’t worth it. They don’t care about the viewers, they don’t care about the people that make the content, and it’s all just low-grade shit now. If something good does come along, Netflix expects you to watch it almost immediately otherwise it risks cancellation.
  • Do more reading and listening to audio books. I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading – something that I used to enjoy enormously. But time pressures of work and commuting has meant that it’s slowly gone downhill over the years, and I barely complete a whole book a year these days despite owning the finest Kindle in all the land – the Kindle Oasis (which I wish they would refresh with USB-C like its cheaper cousin, the Paperwhite).
  • Do more travelling. I miss holidays. I’ve not taken a proper holiday since 2017 when I went on a P&O cruise to Iceland via Norway. I want to go back to York again – it’s such a fantastic city to explore – and even go back to my old stomping ground of Norwich. That looks to have changed considerably in the 23 years since I sold my home there and left for a small flat in Peckham with my fiancé (now ex-wife). Plus, the exercise will do me good.