Steve and I are working with Robert Lachman of the LA Times on a Smartphone Camera Shootout, iOS 7 surprises, and Yadiel Sotomayor tells us about some of the iOS 7 blind accessibility improvements. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart takes us through Taming the Terminal Part 8 of n where he explains processes and how to track down the misbehaving ones.
Hi this is Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Mac Podcast, hosted at Podfeet.com, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias. Today is Sunday September 22, 2013 and this is show number 437. WE have a HUGE show today as you can imagine. I’m going to tell you first about a really fun thing Steve and I are working on, then I’m going to talk ONLY about what surprised me in iOS 7, not droning on and on like others have been. Then Yadiel Sotomayor will tell us about some cool blind accessibility improvements in iOS 7. I have a cool app review and George from Tulsa has another recording for us – but there’s just no time for them this week so we’ll leave them as a teaser for next week. in Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart takes us through explaining processes in Taming the Terminal Part 8, and it was so much fun we didn’t stop at our usual time. Let’s kick into gear then!
Smartphone Camera Shootout
This weekend Steve and I had a BLAST working with Robert Lachman, staff photographer for the LA Times on a smartphone camera shootout. I can’t tell you exactly which phones we compared yet, and I definitely can’t tell you the winner, but I can tell you that we spent 7.5 hours on this project so far – and we’re going to work again on it on Wednesday! It turns out that to do a reasonably good and fair job of it takes a heck of a lot of time! One of the questions we’re hoping to answer with all this work is if you have an iPhone 5, is the camera in the iPhone 5s enough better to warrant an upgrade?
The first thing we had to do was make sure that we actually knew how to get the photos off of Androids and Windows phones into our Macs. Between Apple’s Image Capture, Android File Transfer from the Mac App Store, and a few vendor-specific apps, we got it all working. That took us more than an hour testing the process on a few Macs and five phones.
Then we story boarded out what we hoped to accomplish in the end game. Robert had the vision that we could have a video with him and me discussing the phones a bit, showing some photos in the background of the video and explaining our findings. He also envisions this video being 2-3 minutes long, which makes it WAY harder than a long drawn out wandering video. He brought a giant green screen as big as the width of my living room, some stands and a cross beam to hang it, and some giant standing lights too. Steve did some test video with the green screen, and Robert showed him how easily he could remove the green background and insert anything he wants instead. It turns out you can drop a picture in, and have it be an insert (not just as the entire background). You can put a video behind you but that’s pretty distracting and that’s not what we’re looking for. It was super fun for Steve to learn this and I think Robert enjoyed revealing how fun it is to Steve.
Now we had to figure out what to shoot. The hardest thing to photograph in my opinion is red flowers. Ok, toddlers are probably harder but in terms of static images, red flowers always always always over saturate and lose definition when shot with a camera phone. We found some bougainvilleas, the brightest flowers around. Then we went to the marina to find some high detail with challenging reflections and high contrast. We found some brightly colored kayaks that looked like they’d provide a nice challenge too. Finally we tested the low light performance with and without the flash.
Now picture us walking along and we find something to photograph. Robert and I have pockets full of cell phones. Steve is doing b-roll video the whole time. Robert let me take all the shots, Steve did a lot of the directing and Robert was delighted to add advice on angles and to have help with this whole idea. He’d hand me phone after phone, and EVERY time I would fumble trying to figure out how to turn each phone on, and find the camera. After a while I got better at it, but it was really hard!
When we got back to the house, Steve and I dragged our computers and monitors downstairs. We lined up on one side of the dining room table, with Robert between us. Steve on the right with video, me on the left doing photos. Robert convinced me to FINALLY buy Photoshop Elements again (i’ve been away for about 5 revisions, using Pixelmator, but it’s only $80 in the Mac App Store so I can share it with Steve who never really took to the alternatives). So remember how I told you Robert was teaching Steve green screen? Well he had me on the other side teaching me keystrokes to speed up my work in Photoshop elements.
Now think about what we’ve done – we’ve got 2-5 photos each of about 7 different scenes, on 5 cameras – that’s nearly a hundred photos to compare! We pulled all of the photos into folders by phone name. Then I used filewrangler to rename the photos with the camera/phone name. Next, using Quicklook we went through the photos of each scene on each camera and picked the best for each camera. For example, we opened all of the bougainvillea photos for one phone, and picked the best, deleting the rest. Now for a single scene, we have five photos to compare.
This is where Robert’s talents really started to come into focus. He started pointing out scenes we’d shot that he could live without which as I realized how much work we’d need to do on every photo! We narrowed it down to 5 scenes but how do we work with them? First we opened them all up in Photoshop Elements and cropped the photos that were 16:9 down to 4:3 so they’d be more comparable visually. Robert got a great idea – he suggested we create a long film strip for each scene, with high enough resolution photos that people could understand our conclusions, but not so big that we’d never be able to post it online. Robert suggested a long black strip with five photos at 600px wide. Then he suggested that dropping the name of the phone on each image.
Then we got stuck because the text wasn’t standing out enough, so we needed a drop shadow. I started mucking about in the menus, but Robert said that one of the joys of using Photoshop Elements is that ANYTHING you want to know, someone has made a video about it. He said to search for Photoshop Elements text drop shadow. We found the FUNNIEST video telling us how to do it. We found InfoPuppet. You have to watch the video to believe it – it’s an animated puppet teaching Photoshop Elements. And the video is good, it taught us exactly how to do a drop shadow, laughing the whole time.
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We had a blast but after 7.5 hours we had enough material to START talking about which camera was the best at each type of scene…and then we got hungry…and thirsty…and Robert begged to be allowed to leave. We’ll get on the video part on Wednesday…we’re planning another 5 hours…hope that’s enough time! So stay tuned for the results of the epic cell phone camera shootout 2013.
Like I said in the intro I wanted to talk about some stuff that surprised me about iOS 7. Data gathered by online advertising network Chitika shows that 18% of iOS traffic was iOS 7 within 24 hours of iOS 7 going live. Seriously, 18% of all iOS users upgraded in one day. That’s nuts. it does explain why Apple’s servers were shall we say under a bit of a strain on Wednesday? To put this in perspective, Android Jelly Bean went live in October of 2012, nearly a year ago and as of right now, according to Google’s official numbers, Jelly Bean adoption is at 8.5% of the Android users. I asked the SMR Podcast guys about whether they thought Android might be less secure than iOS because users don’t/can’t upgrade as Bart said, and they didn’t think that was a root cause. They didn’t dismiss it out of hand but felt there were other problems that contributed more. I’ve got to say looking at this stat that 8.5% upgrading their OS in one YEAR vs. 18% in one day sorta says there’s a problem here.
I still can’t believe that many people upgraded though, can you? II was in my dentist’s chair at 9:45 and I told Dr. Stalley, “look, iOS 7 comes out in 15 minutes and I’m missing all the fun so get these four fillings done as fast as you can.” Luckily Dr. Stalley knows what a nutball I am about this, and they were just some composite fillings that needed to be sandblasted out and redone, no novocaine…so I waltzed in the door at 10:10 ready to join the iOS 7 party! But even though @Caspercdn said he’d save some of the iOS 7 goodness for me – he saved too much, it took Steve and me well over 2 hours to get iOS 7 onto two iPhones and an iPad.
I’m not going to go over all of the new features since it’s been over a week I suppose adoptions at 97.3% by now or something, right? I did want to highlight a few things though. NosillaCastaway Todd Olthoff (@tolthoff) created an excellent iOS7 installation process video and posted it to our NosillaCast G+ community. If you haven’t upgraded yet it’s a great way to see what’s involved so you’re ready when the dust settles.
Next I wanted to talk about just a couple of things that kind of surprised me (in good and bad ways) about iOS 7.
- everyone ends up with a nearly empty second screen because of a surprise app plopping onto their home screen called FaceTime. How about FaceTime audio? or as my son calls it, a phone call?
- exactly HOW do you get to spotlight? (the instructions do NOT explain it well enough for my taste, they said to swipe up on any home screen but they DIDN’T say to swipe from the middle).
- app switcher – instead of just icons at the bottom you get cards much like Palm OS, and just like that to quit an app you drag the card up (not the icon). Not as good for iPad, a lot of swiping.
- burst mode on camera – thought it was only on the iPhone 5s – but it happens if you hold down the camera button to do a selfie! Not sure I actually LIKE that though. I have enough extra photos in my camera roll as it is!
- Camera is definitely faster – really noticed it on Steve’s iPhone 4 (before he got his iPhone 5s on Friday! yay Steve!
- Seems that notifications works better – used to have trouble with G+ notifications, now it actually opens them properly
- Bad surprise – battery life seems worse – didn’t they say that the apps would all pile together on the same payload to the radios together instead of waking up the radio separately and saving battery?
Yadiel on VoiceOver Improvements in iOS 7
Hello fellow Nosillacastaways. This is Yadiel, and I’m back for another audio presentation.
Since everybody is talking and expressing their opinions about iOS7, I have decided to join the cult… I mean, join the crowd and talk about iOS7. More specifically, about some accessibility improvements for those of us who are blind..
Basically everyone is talking about the new look and feel of the new operating system. Numerous articles are being produced every second on how they love, or hate, how the OS looks. Articles praising, or screaming bloody murder, on how they changed the icons, or how they changed a certain application. I have seen articles ranging from the interesting and thought provoking, to just plane petty and stupid. I have not seen however, except on dedicated sites, a quick overview of accessibility improvements.
Now, before I do my VoiceOver overview, I need to make a small note here. I am just going to talk about VoiceOver improvements in iOS7. Being a totally blind person, and not having other disabilities, I feel I am not qualified to talk about improvements done in the areas of low vision, switch access, guided access, and alike. So please, feel free to send Allison recordings on these areas of the OS if you use any other accessibility feature in iOS7.
Now, to the meat of the matter. First, what is VoiceOver? VoiceOver is a screen reader provided by Apple, and available in all recent Apple products. If you want to learn more about VoiceOver, I encourage you to check out this page.
Now that you have done your homework and read about VoiceOver on the Apple website, it is time to highlight my top VoiceOver improvements in iOS7.
More High Quality Voices
In previous versions of VoiceOver for iOS, you could only have 1 high quality voice installed. Now, in iOS7, you can download more than 1 high quality voice. In fact, you could download all the voices in high quality. Which is perfect for me, since I work with multiple languages.
Typing on any touch screen is, for some individuals, a bit of a drag. With hand writing, found on General/Accessibility/VoiceOver/Rotor, you can substitute the virtual keyboard for hand writing instead. It doesn’t offer the same level of editing as the regular keyboard, but it is there if you want it.
New Braille Tables
For many blind individuals, including yours truly, Braille is an extremely important tool. With iOS7, Apple has added new Braille tables. You can now use United English Braille without switching any of your favorite voices.
Nemeth Braille code
In iOS7, Apple has added support for the Nemeth Braille code. A Braille code specially designed for mathematics and science notation. This theoretically could mean access to math text books for blind students. This is extremely useful, since previously, only devices that cost $5,000 or so, had support for the Nemeth Braille code.
Voice data available outside VoiceOver
I know, I know, allowing the enhanced VoiceOver voices to be used in other applications is not technically an accessibility feature. But being able to use any of the VoiceOver voices in almost any app that needs a speech synthesizer is pretty darn cool, you have to admit. I can see multiple uses, for speech synthesizers in, and outside, of the accessibility field.
Well, this is a really brief summary of the improvements in VoiceOver in iOS7. If you want to learn more about all the new and exciting things in Apple Accessibility, I suggest you go to Apple Vis and take a look. Without anything else to say, este fue Yadiel Sotomayor. Nos vemos luego.
Thanks a lot Yadiel – I love to hear this perspective on the improvements Apple is making. I’ll have to go look up what Braille tables actually are, I never heard of those before. I love that they’re including Braille code that lets the blind read mathematics and science notation. I never thought about that as a missing piece! Why should the sighted get all the science and math fun! I have to ask the audience one question, raise your hand if you spent at least a few seconds trying to figure out what on your iPhone, iPod, iPad or Mac was making that dinging sound while Yadiel was talking? My hand is up!
This week I’ve been experimenting trying to figure out if there’s a way to pipe the NosillaCast Live Show to Youtube maybe through Hangouts on Air or something. I did get myself approved through Youtube to go Live but I haven’t cracked the code yet on how to actually do the piping. It’s lots of fun of course. Rather than asking for help, I just started flailing around on the Internet looking for things and trying them out. I found something called Darwin Streaming Server from dss.macosforge.org that looked like fun so I started to install things. I also added QuickTime Streaming server to the mix just for fun. But before I started…I opened Clarify. I documented every step of the way as I downloaded and installed and configured the server. All I had to do was hit command-shift-2 on each step to grab a screenshot, so it hardly took me any extra time. By the way, nothing at all came of this experiment (I didn’t it to work…yet), but if it had, I would have been covered. I think it’s just become second nature whenever I start something complicated to whip it open to make sure I can remember what I did and also figure out how to reverse it if things go horribly wrong! If you ever do stuff on the computer (Mac or Windows) where you’re a little unsure of your steps, I highly recommend using Clarify from clarify-it.com to document what you’re doing even if you never show it to anyone else. Be sure to tell them Allison sent you!
Chit Chat Across the Pond
Important Security Updates:
- Mozilla release FireFox 24, which includes 7 critical security fixes (also releases updates to Thunderbird & Seamonkey) – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/09/18/firefox-24-available-now-17-fixes-7-critical/ (http://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2013/09/18/Mozilla-Releases-Multiple-Updates)
- Apple Releases a number of Security Updates:
- OS X 10.8.5 & Security Update 2013-004 (includes fix for the sudo bug) – http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5880
- Safari 5.1.10 – http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5921
- Apple is blocking all versions of Flash but the latest to protect against the nastiest of the Flash bugs that were patched – http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/apple-disables-flash-for-os-x-over-security-concerns
Important Security News:
- A nasty Zero-day bug in all versions of IE has surfaced – Microsoft say the bug is being exploited in the wild, and while there is no patch yet, they do have one of their ‘fixit’ buttons to implement a temporary work-around for you – if you will insist on using IE, be sure to apply the fixit ASAP, or better yet, stop using IE! – http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/09/microsoft-ie-zero-day-flaw-affects-all-versions/
- If you run a WordPress site, be sure it’s updated to 3.6.1 to protect against a nasty remote code execution bug – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/09/13/wordpress-issues-security-fixes-advises-update-your-sites-immediately/
- US moves closer to re-legalising phone/tablet unlocking: http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/09/19/phone-and-tablet-unlocking-us-government-nudges-it-closer-to-law/
- A nice analysis of Touch ID from Ars – http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/09/fingerprints-as-passwords-new-iphone-touch-id-gets-mixed-security-verdict/
- An interesting analysis from Naked Security on the security of Microsoft’s picture passwords – in short, if you want to be in any way secure, don’t use obvious gestures like ringing a face – http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/09/09/windows-picture-passwords-are-they-really-as-easily-crackable-as-everyones-saying/
- Introducing the USB condom – a very cool idea IMO – http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/166536-the-usb-condom-prevents-your-phone-from-picking-up-diseases-from-strange-charging-ports
Main Topic – Taming the Terminal Part 8 of n (Introducing Processes)
That’s going to wind this up for this week, many thanks to our sponsor for helping to pay the bills, Blue Mango Learning at bluemangolearning.com makers of ScreenSteps and Clarify. Don’t forget to send in your Dumb Questions, comments and suggestions by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on twitter and app.net @podfeet. Check out the NosillaCast Google Plus Community too – lots of fun over there! If you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to podfeet.com/live on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific Time and join the friendly and enthusiastic NosillaCastaways. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.