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This is how you're going to reach out and get a hold of me unless you already know me, in which case... why are you here, just pick up the phone. 

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Ottawa, Ontario

Just a little corner of the interwebz where I occasionally jot down a thought or two. Why do I do it? Partly to communicate in some way with you, the reader, and partly because it's some sad way of leaving a legacy of some kind I guess.



do it again

Jonathan Tom

It's taken me a little while to gather my thoughts on the recent events in Las Vegas. I've come to a revelation and had some thoughts. Firstly, I feel like this happens all too frequently and I would rather not have thoughts be triggered by senseless acts of violence or natural disasters where people get hurt. That being said, with all of these things going on where we all proclaim "prayers for xyz" we have to ask ourselves if prayers are enough anymore?

I may not be a particularly religious man (although I would consider myself spiritual) but shouldn't we be taking a long hard look at the root cause of these events? Climate change and gun control seem to be the major issues on the table here. Climate change has been addressed ad nauseum so I don't feel the need to address it here but suffice to say that if you still believe that mankind has negligible impact on climate change then perhaps you should stop following me right now.

Australian comedian, Jim Jeffries has a good segment on guns (full transcript here):

There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I like something. Don’t take it away from me.” But don’t give me this other bullshit. The main one is, In American accent “I need it for protection. I need to protect me. I need to protect my family.” Really? Is that why they’re called “assault rifles”? Is it? I’ve never heard of these fucking “protection rifles” you speak of. Protection? What the fuck are you talking about? You have a gun in your house, you’re 80% more likely to use that gun on yourself, than to shoot someone else. And people think, “Well, that’d never happen to me.” You don’t know that, because you know what? ♪ From time to time We all get sad ♪ ♪ One day you’re happy Then you’re sad ♪ ♪ And then, uh-oh ♪

Faith is all well and good but at some point we, as a species, need to step up and take action to ensure the safety of our fellow human beings. So today, make eye contact, smile, say a kind word, or do something nice for someone; and tomorrow, do it again.

show us your home screen

Jonathan Tom

iPad Edition


what are some of your favourite apps?

On the iPad I would have to say that my favourite apps are Flipboard, Facebook, Tweetbot, and Photos. I use at least the first three of those every day. Flipboard as my digital newspaper and the other two to feed my social addiction.

which app is your guilty pleasure?

I spend far more time than I care to admit with [Carcassonne] - it’s a great way to keep the strategic part of my brain sharp and it’s fun too (although I firmly believe that the AI cheats). Aside from that I use Flipboard quite a bit as well but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a guilty pleasure.

which app makes you most productive?

[On my phone] I definitely go with Slack but as far as my iPad is concerned… probably GoodNotes or Todoist. While having meetings it’s useful to use GoodNotes along with the Apple Pencil to jot down ideas and reminders as they come up. I’m not going to lie though, I still keep a moleskin and a pen handy too. There’s just something about that analog feel of writing on paper.

EDIT: I change my mind - the first answer here needs to be [Duet Display]. Given the size of the iPad Pro it essentially gives me a second full sized monitor for my MacBook Pro.

what app do you know you’re underutilizing?

This has to go to DEVONthink for the same reasons as I mentioned for my “[Show Us Your Home Screen]” article. Basically I need to get a system down for it similar to what I had with Evernote.

what is the app you are still missing?

I’m not sure I’m still missing anything - a while back I would have said a good replacement for Zite but since then I’ve grown accustomed to Flipboard.

how many times a day do you use your iPad?

Probably 3-5 times a day - for extended periods mind you. Most of that time is in the evenings since the iPad is a great device for sitting on the couch.

what today view widgets are you using and why?

I don’t really make much use of today view on the iPad. So… yeah.

what is your favourite feature of the iPad?

I love the screen size of the original iPad Pro.

if you were in charge at apple, what would you add or change?

I always struggle with this type of questions since I don’t really follow the politics of the Appleverse. For the most part I just enjoy Apple products.

what’s your wall paper and why?

It’s just a stock standard Apple Wallpaper. My lock screen, however, is the Hufflepuff crest from Harry Potter. I haven’t yet found an appropriate Ravenclaw crest so until then… it’ll be Hufflepuff.

a thousand dollar phone

Jonathan Tom

The big question I keep hearing since last week’s Apple Event is all about the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone ten, but more on that later), “do I need a thousand dollar phone”? IMHO, the answer is no, especially if you’re asking the question. While I am, what I would call an Apple Fanboy, I am also strongly of the opinions that (a) you should use technology that you agree with, and (b) you should use technology that meets your needs.

Will I be getting the iPhone X? It’s pretty likely going to be ‘yes’. Do I still have some concerns with it? Also a ‘yes’. While the technology itself isn’t new, it is new to Apple products and that makes it somewhat volatile. On that topic there are a few of my more troll-like friends who like to point out that Android devices had most of this technology first. While ‘first’ is great and all, I’m happy to wait a little while for ‘right’.

So who is this phone for then? In short, I suppose it’s for people who want the top of the line, cutting (or bleeding) edge device. It goes without saying that these are people who have to be able to afford that kind of financial hit too. I think Apple realizes this too which is why they have the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus or even the older 6/6Plus and 7/7Plus available at lower price points.

an apple event

Jonathan Tom

The big Apple event has just wrapped up and I have a page full of copious notes to help me write this post. Let’s be honest though, there’s no shortage of places to go and learn about what was announced. I’ll have some of that information, of course, but you’ll also get my thoughts on them. As those who know me are more than aware, I am an Apple fanboy so my views will be skewed towards all things Apple but I’m a firm believer that you should go with the products that work best for you. So let’s get on with it shall we?

apple watch

I’m a little out of the loop on this subject as I’m still rocking the Apple Watch series 1 from when it was first announced. According to the event announcement it’ll do a better job of monitoring your heart rate and offer more insight into your health by giving you statistics on resting heart rates and recovery heart rates. Additionally the watch will monitor your heart rhythms and, in conjunction with heart rate, it may be able to offer you insight into otherwise undiagnosed issues.

The new Apple Watch (series 3) will also have built-in cellular service which will be tied to your phone. This means that you’ll be able to leave your phone at home when going out on errands, for a swim, for a run, for a hike etc. You’ll be able to access Apple Music as well which is nice for those that use that service; personally, I’m more interested in knowing when Spotify will work with this service. Given that they are a competing service I wouldn’t hold my breath on Apple opening things up to them. Along those lines, you’ll be able to make and receive calls on your watch - initially my thoughts were “this is cool, I’ll get to be more like James Bond” but then I realized how ridiculous that would look to anyone witnessing this - almost as dumb as people walking around wearing those old school bluetooth ear buds for phone calls. Never say never but I think that’s a feature I won’t be making use of unless I’m alone in my home!

The new watch is pretty much the same size as the series 2 watch (it’s .25mm thicker in the rear face), which is impressive considering how much more stuff needs to be inside the watch. There will be some new bands and it will be available in gold, space grey, and silver. Prices will start at US$399 for the cellular model and US$329 without - it should be available September 22nd.

apple tv

After having just received a second Emmy for the Apple TV they are introducing the Apple TV 4K. Obviously this means it will support 4K resolution (four times higher resolution than HD), but it also supports HDR. Now this does mean that your television will need to support both 4K and HDR (mine is only 4K) but if you’re one of the lucky few then your videos will look pretty impressive. Any purchased HD content will be automatically upgraded to 4K HDR for no charge; also, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are expected to offer their 4K services soon.


Let’s be honest, this is what most of us watching were waiting for; it’s been ten years since Steve Jobs stood on stage and announced the first iPhone. Now Apple is announcing “huge iPhone news” and it comes in the form of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The new form factor looks like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus: it’s water and dust resistant, has a retina display, and it’s available in silver, gold, and space grey. There is a new chip in this phone though, the A11 Bionic which brings 6 cores and a 64-bit design which makes is 70% faster thant the A10.

The camera is a 12 megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization. They seemed to indicate that this was available on the iPhone 8 as well which will be good news for people who wanted this feature in the smaller phones. The iPhone 8 Plus lenses are f/1.8 and f/2.8 respectively and features an improved portrait mode which will offer better bokeh and improved performance in low light. A new feature, called portrait lighting allows you to compose a photo, have the camera analyze the composition and make lighting options available in real time. What impresses me with this is the ability to make these changes to portrait lighting available after the fact as well. I’m interested in the improved video as well - it will offer better low light and 60fps shooting for 4k video and, for slow motion, it will handle 1080p at 240fps.

Big news, for me, is that wireless charging is finally coming to the iPhone using Qi technology. Qi, for those who don’t know, is commonly available and, now that it’ll be in an iPhone, will likely take off even faster. The iPhone 8 will be available in 64Gb and 256Gb, prices will start at US$699. The iPhone 8 Plus will be available in the same sizes but start at US$799. Pre-ordering will start September 15th and shipping September 22nd.

In a nod to Steve’s classic line, Time announced that they had “one more thing” and this was the ticket that people were expecting to hear about. The iPhone X (pronounced iPhone ten), is all screen with the exception of a notch in the top centre where quite a few sensors are hidden.

With glass front and back, dust and water resistant at a microscopic level, and available in gold, silver, and space grey, this device is really all about the screen. The screen is what they are calling a “super retina display”; at 5.8” with a resolution of 2436 x 1125 px (2.7 minion pixels) and weighing in at 458 ppi it’s spec’d to give us a pretty impressive OLED screen.

Waking the iPhone X is as simple as raising the phone or tapping on the screen. With no more home button I was wondering how we would be unlocking the device or how we would go back to the home screen. Turns out going to the home screen is as simple as swiping up from the bottom of the screen. Multi-tasking is accessed by swiping up from the bottom and pausing before releasing; it looks pretty simple. Siri can be accessed in the traditional way by saying “Hey Siri” or by double tapping the side button.

Unlocking the iPhone X is where things get (more) interesting; Apple is announcing what they are calling Face ID. Gone are the Touch ID sensors and now, in the aforementioned notch at the top of the screen, lie several new sensor which allow the phone to recognize your face. IR cameras, dot projectors, and other technically in depth components allow this to be possible. The bottom line is that it will still recognize you if you are wearing glasses or a scarf, or a hat and it will track any gradual changes as well including growing a beard . Being this flexible makes me wonder how hard it would be to spoof but it turns out, somewhat unsurprisingly, that this is something Apple has put a lot of thought into. It can’t be fooled by photographs or even masks and prosthetics. It’s smart enough to know when you’re looking at it too so it won’t unlock if you have your eyes closed or if you aren’t directly looking at it.

The cameras on the back are 12 megapixel with f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures respectively. Both cameras have optical stabilization and have access to a quad LED true tone flash (the flash matches ambient colour temperatures to make things feel more natural). The front side camera will also support portrait mode (and portrait lighting) so your selfies will look even better.

The iPhone X will sport all the same cool tech that the iPhone 8 has including the new A11 Bionic chipset and the wireless charging. They also offered a little sneak peek into something that they are working on called Air Power which is a charging mat that will be able to charge the iPhone, Apple Watch (series 3 and later), and Air Pods (with a new wireless charging case). Air Power is projected to be available next year.

The iPhone X is will be available in 64Gb and 256Gb starting October 27th (shipping November 3rd) and it will set you back starting at US$999.

When Steve announced the original iPhone he closed with a Wayne Gretzky quote and it seems only fitting to end here with the same quote. Steve said this was what Apple did in business:

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” - Wayne Gretzky.