iPad Pro – a few months on

So how’s the iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil working out?

Well, I don’t use the Apple Pencil anywhere near what I thought.  But having bought an notepad app which can combine text, graphics and handwritten notes into one, I hope to make more use of it as the number of meetings at work increase.

The Smart Keyboard continues to work well.  I really do enjoy using it.  But there is still a bug in iOS where iOS seems to remember incorrect capitalisation and is a pain to correct it: one has to backspace more than needed to be able to switch a capital letter to a lower case letter.

The biggest problem continues to be the lack of app support for this device.  I cannot tell you how frustrating it is that there are still too many Google iOS apps that don’t support the higher resolution of the iPad Pro.  Google Docs is one such example (and still feels too slow when typing despite having a good 4G connection and the power of the A9X 64-bit processor).  YouTube has only just received iPad Pro support.  It’s a similar story for other media streaming services – we’re only now getting iPad Pro resolution support.  Also amazing the number of apps that have only just gotten around to updating their support for iOS 9 despite how long the mobile OS has been around in the wild.

I’m still waiting on Microsoft to allow us to have default zoom views for Word documents.  New or newly opened documents are zoomed too much by default.  Pinching and zooming in/out works, but it’d be lovely to save that view for reuse.

Facebook hasn’t updated its main app for iPad to support iPad Pro, thus the text and graphics are all enlarged and making the experience an ugly one.  The same can be said of LinkedIn.

If the rumours of a smaller 9.7″ iPad Pro being released (or at least announced) by the end of March are true, this will more than likely mean that it’ll have a similar if not better resolution than the 12.9″ behemoth.  How long before the app developers get around to supporting it?  At the moment it’s all rather slow and depressing.

Sky Q Installation part 1: “Openreach for the Sky, mister!”

[ Part One ] [ Part Two ] [ Part Three ] [ Sky Q Re-Install, 2018  ]

(Originally published in February 2016)

In a two, possibly three part, series of blog posts about the Sky Q installation, I’ll highlight the areas where it was fantastic and areas where it wasn’t quite so fantastic.  With the actual Q installation not far off, my biggest problem at the moment is getting Sky Broadband Unlimited working at home.

The Sky Q Hub –  the centre of the Sky Q universe

’tis a lovely looking piece of kit.  Black, and smallish, and with just two ethernet ports and an A|VDSL phone connect socket, it’s simple, but should offer a range of features that should pummel the Virgin Media SuperHub 2AC into submission.  Especially with built-in powerline support.

But alas! I can’t use it yet.  For you see, despite being hooked up to Sky Broadband at the local exchange, and I have Sky Talk activated and working (albeit for a lack of caller ID it seems – I need to check that out), there appears to be sweet nothing at all internet-wise between my house and the exchange, which leads me to think BT Openreach did something when I let BT Infinity 2 go last year.  Thankfully I currently have Virgin Media’s Vivid 200 package at the moment, but for me it’s a bit of an overkill.  I’m looking to eventually move to Sky Fibre Unlimited or Fibre Unlimited Pro (if it ever comes to my area).

Without Sky Broadband working, and without the Sky Q Hub talking to Sky Broadband, the Sky Q installation is about as much use as a dead pigeon in pigeon racing.  Nobody knows if Sky Q Silver will work straight out the box with a Virgin Media connection if Sky Q Hub isn’t working due to Openreach mucking things up – probably not within the installer’s remit if so.

The BT Openreach Problem

I spoke – at some length – to a lady at Sky who took me through all the diagnostic bits and bobs, including removing the faceplate from my former BT Infinity connection to test voice and data.  Voice works, data doesn’t.   She was exceptionally helpful and patient, and indeed, it was one of the best support experiences I’ve encountered with any company in ages.  So I was impressed with Sky’s support despite the problems – not that I’ve had to use it much over the years.  It’s generally Just Worked(tm).   So a Sky engineer was booked for the previous weekend.

The Sky engineer turns up, but does nothing.  Because he can’t, unfortunately.  The frustration with BT and Openreach is that non-BT/Openreach folk don’t have access to the cabinets to check and perform tests between the cabinet and the house it’s supposed to be connected to.   That’s where I reckon the problem lies.  After many phone calls, some of which were bounced about because my account is now with the Sky Q team now, an appointment has been arranged for BT Openreach to come out and get the problem fixed.

Further updates as they occur this week, but I’m putting my money on the cabinet.


No driving lessons this week..

.. due to work related datacentre issues beyond anybody’s control.

Well, except for the manufacturer of the power distribution board that caused us to have a tremendous headache involving power distribution and other fun things that could have involved fire, with the potential for servers being eligible for BBQing (along with fleshy, fleshy people).

Thankfully it had a happy ending.  Not a euphemism.

I’ll be honking the horn (also not a euphemism) again next week.

And on that bombshell: Inside the madness & genius of Top Gear

Until my employers Memset Ltd. moved to Dunsfold Aerodrome a few years ago, I had no interest in Top Gear whatsoever.  I still hadn’t learnt to drive, and the antics of Clarkson, Hammond and May were of no interest to me.

But then we moved into our big brick office, we were directly next to the Top Gear hangar-cum-studio and the Top Gear production offices and garages.  We were also overlooking the start of the Top Gear test track, with glorious views of Gambon corner.

Then they started filming.  VT pieces, then Star In A Reasonably Priced Car. Then I started watching the show because I was now very curious about the whole thing.  And you know what, it may be about cars, but as overall entertainment goes, it was very entertaining.  But I did, maybe, learn a few things about cars too.  If only I could learn to drive.

Watching the team film some of the crazier segments – including the “improved” ambulances (one of which was a Nuclear disposal vehicle) up close was fascinating.  It made you wonder what the actual hell are were doing for this week’s show (or one of the other weeks to allow for editing). They were clearly enjoying themselves but were completely professional at the same time.  Watching the BTS of Top Gear was a joy to behold, even if it was behind bars of a gated property.

As the shows continued to film, I continued to watch the shows as they went out.  All was well until one day Jeremy Clarkson decided to something completely stupid and caused the entire Top Gear format to go TITSUP (Total Inability To Support Usual Performance) and bring on the death of the much loved/hated show.

Which is why I bought Richard Porter’s marvellous book, And on that bombshell: Inside the madness and genius of Top Gear.  Richard was the script editor (amongst other things from time to time) during Clarkson et al. years, having also spent a little bit of time during the Pebble Mill era too.

The book is an amusing history of Top Gear throughout the ages – and I found myself chuckling a few times in public on my way to work as I read through the chaos of the specials, the mad antics of the trio during The Bollocks Hour (which is their downtime period before they start shooting VT links, etc. at the hangar-cum-studio at Dunsfold), and what they were doing with the number 14 Routemaster bus  (currently parked in the TG hangar – I see it every day) as a potential item, and as a party bus for the team after a particularly good season end.

Interestingly, Porter has quite a few good things to say about Matt LeBlanc, who has become one of the six presenters of the new, new, new Chris Evans fronted Top Gear.  All signs indicate that the new, new, new Chris Evans Top Gear will still be filmed at Dunsfold from what I’ve seen (after all, why change that if you’re going to change everything else).  Hopefully they will keep the Star in the Reasonably Priced Car – but then again, maybe they won’t.

Now I’ve finished the book, I’ve moved onto Perry McCarthy’s autobiography, Flat Out Broke: The Original Stig. Perry was the very first Stig (dressed all in black), and way before my time of watching Top Gear. I’ve not far in, but already enjoying McCarthy’s good humour and ability to tell a good story.

In other news – third driving lesson went well.  Didn’t get too horrendously confused with lane changing and signalling during roundabouts.  Managed with the three lane madness of Guildford’s one way system too.  So things are moving forwards quite nicely…