Scuff marked iPhone 5 deceptively promo as “finely crafted watch” precision?

Monday, 24 September, 2012

precision you'd expect from a finely crafted watch

iPhone 5 was launched yesterday to the usual Apple products launch frenzy. But already, there have been many iPhone 5 users reported they are having scuff marks right out of the box (brand new).

First of all, I will set the stage by laying out what Apple has claimed in its online marketing and promotional material. And then I will write about one particular Canadian user’s iPhone 5 experiences and what happened to him once he found the “scuff marks” problem and reported it. (note: see set of five scuff marked iPhone 5 photos here plus also posted at end of article) And then I will talk about cases of other users reporting similar problems. At the end, while I am NOT a lawyer I will briefly draw the readers’ attention to Competition Bureau Canada’s online resource “False or Misleading Representations and Deceptive Marketing Practices Under the Competition Act” in case they find they need some help to decide if the Competition Bureau can help.

Apple’s marketing and promotional claims

It is important to note that in Apple’s marketing and promotional page (design) for iPhone 5, Apple is claiming and advertising (emphasis),

“iPhone 5 is made with a level of precision you’d expect from a finely crafted watch – not a smartphone.”

You see, potential iPhone 5 buyers are actually told NOT to expect the level of precision of a smartphone but the of a finely crafted watch! I don’t know about you, but I have yet Read the rest of this entry »


iPhones Tracking questions to Steve Jobs from US Senator Al Franken

Thursday, 21 April, 2011

US Senator Al Franken asks the following questions in an letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs,

1. Why does Apple collect and compile this location data? Why did Apple choose to initiate tracking this data in its iOS 4 operating system?

2. Does Apple collect and compile this location data for laptops?

3. How is this data generated? (GPS, cell tower triangulation, WiFi triangulation, etc.)

4. How frequently is a user’s location recorded? What triggers the creation of a record of someone’s location?

5. How precise is this location data? Can it track a user’s location to 50 meters, 100 meters, etc.?

6. Why is this data not encrypted? What steps will Apple take to encrypt this data?

7. Why were Apple consumers never affirmatively informed of the collection and retention of their location data in this manner? Why did Apple not seek affirmative consent before doing so?

8. Does Apple believe that this conduct is permissible under the terms of its privacy policy? See Apple Privacy Policy at “Location-Based Services” (accessed on April 20, 2011), available at http://www.apple.com/privacy

9. To whom, if anyone, including Apple, has this data been disclosed? When and why were these disclosures made?

[HT Information Week “iPhone Tracking Only Tip Of Security Iceberg”]


iPad app review: Jibbigo English to Chinese speech-to-speech translation app

Saturday, 5 March, 2011

iPad app review: Jibbigo English to Chinese translation - Pix 2

What is Jibbigo?

Jibbigo is a “speech-to-speech translation app for your mobile device. You talk in one language, it talks back in the other. […] No data charges required–just your voice. Jibbigo is available in eight different language pairs on iTunes and the Android Market.

Apple iPad app:  “Jibbigo ” (link to iTune)

Price: US$ 24.99

Star rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

*** Background ***

Machine translation is a very difficult problem even for desktop/large computers. I see translation in three levels of difficulties, beginning with the hard problem of text-to-text translation, then speech-to-text translation, and the toughest one is speech-to-speech translation (the one Jibbigo tries to do). Why? Because speech-to-speech translation requires,

1) the original (e.g. English/Chinese) human voice be recognized and converted correctly into (English/Chinese) text;

2) the translation of recognized text into target language text (Chinese/English) be performed correctly (very hard in itself); and

3) the translated target text being read out in the target language correctly (should be easier but not always as you will see here).

I’ve spent days and many hours testing and exploring the Jibbigo iPad app (feeling like testing software in one of my previous jobs). The following is my review plus an edited video highlighting some of the tests I’ve conducted.

*** The Good/OK ***

* Translation of simple greetings (“Good morning.”, “Good Afternoon.” etc) were done correctly most of the time.

* Some simple English sentences were picked up and translated to Chinese correctly.

(e.g. “How much?” ==> “多少钱?”; “How about two million five hundred thousand dollars?” was translated to “2500000美元怎样?” (note: ; 2500000 was read as 2 million, 500 thousands); “Do you have orange juice?” ==> “有橙汁吗?”; “I live in Canada.” ==> “我住在加拿大。”)

* Jibbigo allows user to enter names and their Chinese translations. For example, I entered my name Kempton and my name in Chinese. Jibbigo was able to recognize my name “Kempton” in English and translated it to Chinese. Unfortunately, Jibbigo failed to pronounce my Chinese name correctly. More on this in the next section.

* Some simple sentences were translated somewhat correctly.

(e.g. “What time do I need to get up in the morning?” was translated to “我想要什么时候起床?” The translation missed the word “morning” “早晨/早上” and confused “need to” with “想要” (the word for “wish to”).

“Where can I rent a car?” was translated to “我在哪能租车吗?” . This Chinese translation is understandable but a better one may be “我在哪里可以租到车?” since the “吗” at the end is not really necessary. And being the picky me, I think “哪里可以” is stylistically better than “哪能”.

* To “protect” the user :), Jibbigo won’t display or translate profanities. So if you said “F*ck off!”, the Jibbigo will show it detected/picked up “<beep> off.” and actually create a beep and display “<beep>.” instead of doing any Chinese translation!

*** The Bad/Not-so-good ***

* The simple sentence of “Do you have steak?” was translated to the non-sensical “你有排怎么做?” instead of the correct one of “你有牛排吗?”.

“I am having steak for dinner.” was incorrectly translated to “我的牛排吗。”, missing the word/idea of “dinner” and adding the question word “吗” for no good reason. A better translation may be “我的晚餐是牛排。” or  “我吃牛排晚餐。”

* “The machine part number is 123456789.” was translated to “这个机器号码是123456789分。” The last word “分” is not needed and indeed confusing and misleading.

* “How much is your machine?” was badly translated to “你是多少钱?” meaning “How much are YOU?” Jibbigo missed the important word of “machine”. A better translation is “你的机器是多少钱?”

* “I need it next month.” was incorrectly translated to “我需要它。” missing the translation for “next month”. A better translation may be “我下个月需要它。”

* I think this one may be tough but important to crack. Jibbigo has problems with proper nouns. e.g. “China Airlines.” was translated to “中国航空公司。” when the proper Chinese name for this Taiwan-based airline is “中華航空公司”. Imagine, someone at the airport trying to fly “中国航空公司” and being told there is no such airline!

“How about two million Canadian dollars?” was badly translated to “加2500000美元吗?”, misplacing the word “加” (for Canada?) and missing the fact that it is “Canadian dollars” and not US dollars “美元”. The correct translation should be “2500000加元怎样?”

* When the Chinese tester said hello and her Chinese name (which was entered into Jibbigo), the app picked up, “你好。我交换怀孕。” and translated the words to, “Hello. I am exchange.” Jibbigo goofed badly because “交换” and “怀孕” are the words for “exchange” and “pregnant”, very far off from her name!

* “Bee” was translated as “啤酒”, the words for “beer”! The correct Chinese words for bee are “蜜蜂”.

* And for some strange reason, Jibbigo failed to translate the following list of words when they were said individually. “Talk, Speak, Speaking, Love, Month,

*** Software stability problems and errors ***

* When iPad went into sleep/auto-lock mode (I set my iPad to go to sleep in 5 minutes) while Jibbigo is running, it will crash and will fail to record voice/function properly when the iPad is woken up.

*** Concluding comments ***

As a computer geek and someone who wants to see Jibbigo‘s technology working, I am disappointed to find Jibbigo failed to work as advertised. Based on my extensive testing, I cannot recommend Jibbigo. And as one Jibbigo user commented in his review, “I wouldn’t dare use this on a trip for fear of getting laughed at or smacked!“. To be truthful, I don’t think he was being excessively harsh.

I think the Jibbigo English to Chinese translation app development team needs to spend some time in resolving the various translation and stability problems in the current version of the software (Jan 21, 2011, Version 1.12226). I wish the Jibbigo team the best of luck.

iPad app review: Jibbigo English to Chinese translation - Pix 3

iPad app review: Jibbigo English to Chinese translation - Pix 4

iPad app review: Jibbigo English to Chinese translation - Pix 5

P.S. The user can choose one of two language pairs, “English International <==> Chinese” or “English USA/Canada <==> Chinese”, I picked Canadian English.

iPad app review: Jibbigo English to Chinese translation


“Nokia, our platform is burning.”

Wednesday, 9 February, 2011

It is rare to see a CEO admit errors and that his/her company is in deep trouble. An excerpt from an internal, but now public, email from Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia (since September 2010),

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.

Over the past few months, I’ve shared with you what I’ve heard from our shareholders, operators, developers, suppliers and from you. Today, I’m going to share what I’ve learned and what I have come to believe.

I have learned that we are standing on a burning platform.

And, we have more than one explosion – we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us.

Will be interesting to see what happen in time.

[HT Wired]

***

Feb 11, 2011 Update: Too bad, “Nokia unveils Microsoft partnership


iPhone 4 users screwed

Friday, 21 January, 2011

Torstar “Apple tightening the screws on iPhone 4

“Apple stores are replacing screws on iPhone 4s brought for servicing with tamper-proof screws to prevent anyone else from opening the device.

Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit, a prominent Apple repair and parts supplier, said the purpose of the new screws is to keep people out of the iPhone and prevent them from replacing the battery. He said he noticed in November that screws were being switched.

“If you took your car in for service and they welded your hood shut, you wouldn’t be very happy”,” he said, comparing it to shutting owners out of their iPhones.”

iFixit, “Apple’s Diabolical Plan to Screw Your iPhone

iFixit, “Apple’s Latest ‘Innovation’ Is Turning Planned Obsolescence Into Planned Failure

****

Also check out this insightful article about lithium-ion polymer batteries, “Zen and the Art of Battery Life“.


Apple App store peddles stolen Chinese books?

Tuesday, 4 January, 2011

Anyone can submit apps for Apple’s approval in order to be available for sell at Apple App store. Now, I am curious what legal responsibility Apple has in ensuring the sellers actually have the proper rights? In particular, I wonder how does Apple ensure proper copyrights for foreign languages books?

I wonder if Apple simply asks all apps sellers to sign legal documents claiming they have proper legal and copyrights to sell whatever they try to sell and indemnify Apple in the process?

Apple App store peddles stolen Chinese books?

Apple App store peddles stolen Chinese books? (Ni Kuang 倪匡作品全集(简繁体712部))Apple App store peddles stolen Chinese books? (Yi Shu 亦舒小说集200+部(簡繁體))

Ni Kuang (倪匡) and Yi Shu (亦舒) are two famous Chinese authors in Hong Kong and many of their books are still in print and available for sell in bookstores. So it came to me as a big shock and surprise to see a collection of 712 (yes, seven hundred and twelve) of Ni’s books (倪匡作品全集(简繁体712部)) and a 200+ collection of Yi’s books (亦舒小说集200+部(簡繁體)) available for sell for only US$2.99 and $1.99 respectively!!!

Wow, $2.99 for 712 books and $1.99 for 200+ books, what a deal if it is legit?! From what I can gather, Yi’s books collection has been available for purchase at least since a Oct 30, 2010 update. And Ni’s books collection has been available for purchase since Dec 30, 2010.

Both ebook collections are being sold by a seller name “Jingang Chen”. I don’t know if this “Jingang Chen” person has the proper legal rights to sell the books collections or not, I do hope Ni’s and Yi’s authorized publishers can check and confirm if these two book apps are indeed legit.

Hate to see anyone selling stolen copyrighted materials so internationally and so easily.


Joe Weber FlyingWord CEO interview – “Treasure Island” iPad app

Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

FlyingWord - Treasure Island - pix 2

The following are video clips of my Skype video interview with Joe Weber, CEO and co-founder of FlyingWord, to talk about their Treasure Island iPad app based on the classic Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. (beautifully narrated for about 7 hours)

Also check out my FlyingWord “Treasure Island” iPad app review.

Here are part 1 of my interview with Joe.

Part 2

Part 3

Here is a promotional clip of FlyingWord’s Treasure Island,


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