Michael Olivero
The official blog of Michael Olivero, Software Architect & Humble Entrepreneur

Apple Siri Commands - Friends

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 20:44 by Michael Olivero

Here are some Siri sample to interact with Friends

Checking Up on Friends

  • Where's Mike?
  • Where is my sister?
  • Is my wife home?
  • Where are all my friends?
  • Who is here?
  • Who is near me?
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Apple Siri Commands to interact with the Address Book

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 18:51 by Michael Olivero

Here are some Siri sample to interact with the Address Book

Query Contacts with Siri

  • What's Michael's address?
  • What is Mary Jane's phone number?
  • When is my wife's birthday?
  • Show Rick's home email address

Finding Contacts with Siri

  • Show Jason Smith
  • Find people named Rick
  • Who is Michael Rodriguez

Relationships with Siri

  • My mom is Martha Smith
  • Michael Smith is my brother
  • Call my brother at work
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Cross Multiply Mental Calculation iPhone App

Friday, 27 April 2012 19:42 by Michael Olivero

Update 5/9/2012:

 

-------------------------------------------------

Yusnier Viera, a former co-worker and current world record holder in calendar mental calculation, brought to my attention the concept of cross multiplying.  After learning the basics and practicing over time, I have been able to successfully multiply upto four digit by four digit computations in my head.  Since the exercise is stimulating and to a certain extent entertaining, I decided to build an iPhone application to easily practice.

Unlike paper and pencil, using an iPhone app allows for immediate feedback while entering the answer.  I've been learning how to develop iOS apps for both iPhone & iPad and I am on the verge of releasing this application.  Since I'm anxious to get it out to the world, I have defer creating the tutorial, the statistics page as well as game center integration, until future updates.

I decided to give the app a representative iconic person, so Einstein fit the bill.

 

Once loaded, you are presented with the home screen where you can link out to a video tutorial or simply start the app.

 

 

Once started, you can interactively create up to 4x4 multiplications to test your mental calculating abilities.  In a future update, I'll hook it up to game center and keep track of best times for each type as well as increase the scale up to 8x8.

 

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iPad3 WiFi connection issues resolved

Thursday, 5 April 2012 21:51 by Michael Olivero

I believe I have a solid work around for the the wifi issue where disconnects occur. First it appears only to happen when connecting to wireless-n connections. Wireless-g doesn't seem to have any problems.  Note this is only for the repeated disconnects and has nothing to do with the low signal issue some have mentioned. For the record, I have a 32gb Verizon iPad.

The symptoms are as follows.  

Symptoms:

  • You connect fine and surf fine. Put the iPad to sleep or come back to it later after sleeping automatically and your wifi is not connected.
  • When tapping the previously connected wifi to reconnect you are usually asked to enter the password again.
  • When you connect the first time, it says failed to connect but re-tap the join button it connects.
  • If you turn off wifi and then turn it back on  it doesn't reconnect.
  • Once connected to the wifi, if you click on the right arrow to go to the details you will NOT see the "forget this wifi" button even though you are connected.
 
 

If you fall in any of those scenarios, this WILL solve your problem in the interim until Apple updates software. In short it seems as though the wifi is not stored or remembered.

 

Solution:

Configure wifi manually, explicitly typing your wifi's broadcast name, explicitly choose the security your wifi is using (wep, wpa, wpa2, etc. ) and then proceed to enter your password. Once connected if you go to the details of the connection you should see the "forget this wifi" button. If you do, you can now rest assured it will allways reconnect and  the above symptoms can no longer be reproduced.

4/12/2012 Addendum:

Not sure if this is related or not, however I have the "Ask to Join Networks" feature off in the wifi settings too. 

 

4/13/2012 Addendum:

Here I show how easily I can reproduce the automatic disconnects because the iPad doesn't remember the wifi connection.  My solution, and working now for weeks without a problem, has been to set it up manually.  Interestingly, after setting it up manually, I haven't had to set other networks manually as they connect and remember fine.  It's only the first one it seems or my home one.

5/2/2012 Addendum:

Updating the router firmware has resolved this issue in two separate situations (my home and a friends home).

Good luck!

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When to buy Apple products?

Monday, 26 March 2012 17:05 by Michael Olivero

All electronic devices, with few exceptions, decrease in value over time.  With Apple products, this is notoriously accelerated because Apple tends to release products on a yearly basis across most of their product line.  Take for example iPhone and the five releases thus far from 2007 to 2011.

ModelRelease Date
iPhone June 2007
iPhone 3G June 2008
iPhone 3GS June 2009
iPhone 4 June 2010
iPhone 4S Sept 2011

Apple traditionally upgrades the specifications of their products while keeping the pricing the same.  So a new iMac 27" may still be $1699, however this year's model has a much more powerful video card and larger capacity hard drive.  Apple rarely, only once that I can recall, adjusts their price prior to a new model announcement -- and when they did this, with the original iPhone, it created an uproar in complaints from early adopters despite the price being reduced.

Since Apple normally doesn't adjust the price on their products and is almost guaranteed to have a new model 12 months later, one could argue you get the best bang for the buck buying the product as soon as it's released.  Buying it 6 months later or near the next release sets one up to either delay the purchase again for the next release while at the same time remorse the previous purchase under the pressure of desiring the latest innovation.  It is true there are times where one doesn't want the new one because it is not incrementally more valuable to justify.  I for example didn't move up to the iPhone 4S having the iPhone 4.  Yes, I desire Siri, but I decided to hold off.  In doing so, I went ahead and purchased the Apple care warranty and guess what?  Since i purchased it on launch day, my warranty expired roughly around the time  as the iPhone 4S ( arrived and the extended warranty will cover me through a whole year until the next model arrives.  The warranty purchase couldn't have been more efficiently calculated -- and it was only possible because I purchased as soon as the product was released.

In summary, you'll get the best bang for the buck and the best options when buying right away.

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Is China a twisted form of capitalism? -- the world will take notice with Apple at the frontline

Wednesday, 15 February 2012 22:26 by Michael Olivero

Since the reforms some years ago, the general rule of thumb prevailed to all citizens was "don't intervene in our leadership and we will not intervene in your business endeavors".  This started what many consider the biggest boon of domestic growth and prosperity in modern history and fueled into overdrive with president Clinton's signing of the China Trade bill back in 2000.  The trade bill opened mammoth Chinese markets to US business and would be the prequel for China to join the World Trade Organization.  Over a year later, on Dec 2001, China became part of the WTO.

My college professor in database systems, Dr. Wei Sun, even took a sabbatical and left to China foreseeing the vast opportunities -- he never returned and even eventually relinquished his tenured position.

So this is allegedly positive for all, after all free markets cultivates innovation and survival of the fittest making better products accessible at an ever more affordable price.

So what's wrong?  Fast forward to today, we have had enough time to realized China true ambitions in becoming an influential world power  In the last decade, we've seen China launch humans into orbit, built their first aircraft carrier, & even recently launching their own global positioning satellite system similar to US' GPS and Russian's GLONASS.

From an outside perspective, this is all good and compares similarly to the benefits of local capitalism -- except at a world level.  So what's wrong then?  In a nutshell, by observation, China's goals seems to be:

  1. Securing and maintaining party rule (at all cost)
  2. Maximizing opportunities and employment for all citizens abiding by the ruling party (e.g. government is on your side if you abide) 
  3. The dishonest control of their currency rather than letting it float freely in the markets
  4. The squelching of anything deemed a threat to either
  5. Long term becoming a world power with influence both politically, militarily, & monetarily.
And Apple is a victim of these goals and their recent spat with iPad trademark infringement as concluded later on in the post.  Lets first discuss each of these points with some additional detail.
 
Securing and maintaining party rule at all costs.
It's clear China is extremely concerned about freedom of speech and expression.  They incarcerate those who rally against the government.  They force companies to censor sensitive topics such as Tianenmen square revolt.  At one point this even clashed with Google's principle of don't be evil and consequently having to filter search results became more and more contrary to Google's principals of free and accessible information.  The Google vs. China escalated to the point where Google redirected services from mainland china to Hong Kong servers (which are not restricted politically) however this didn't fare well with China and ultimately Google decided it was best to pull out of China all together.  China currently disallows twitter, youtube, Facebook, & a whole slew of services which may help or empower unionization and eventual opposition to current government rule.  The issues is so tightly controlled whereby China had sophisticated internet routers custom configured so they could control internet traffic -- effectively blocking any web site or service, country wide, with a flip of a switch.  A prominent voice by the name of Liu Xiaobo (1) was almost the equivalent to the Chinese as Marin Luther King was to african americans. China incarcerated him on frivolous charges.  The world, long aware of China's human right violations, took notice and even award Liu the Nobel Peace Prize.  It was a defining moment in history when he was not able to receive personally the peace prize award; intentionally putting China on the spot internationally.  His wife was also house arrested and was able to tweet for some time until she was also cut off from communication.  I haven't followed up since then to see there status, but incidentally, internal China news media didn't mention the awarding and simply became another topic of suppression.  China arrogantly decided to start their own peace price initiative months later and awarded Vladimir Putin the first Chinese peace price -- perhaps as an indication of how irrelevant these awards mean(2) or simply to obfuscate the the headlines a bit.
 
Maximizing opportunities and employment for all citizens abiding by the ruling party
Again, the government favors and even protects, as promised, those who express allegiance.  As a consequence the ability to "making a living" has little boundaries and the government typically turns a blind eye to such violations such as copyright & trademark laws -- particularly intellectual property, music, software, and most forms of digital content.  Software piracy at 82% (3) is just a subtle example. There are businesses literally officially open and selling copied movies, music, etc. in major shopping areas.  This "do what you please and we won't bother you" mantra reached a whole new level when duplicate non-official Apple stores started popping up in many parts of china.  These stores were a complete rip with Apple logo, employees dressed in the typical blue jerseys, identical floor layout and even identical product branding and marketing throughout (4).  Go ahead and take a look yourself briefly before you continue reading:
 
 
Clearly the enforcement of trademarks and copyright are very lax if non-existent otherwise entrepreneurs would not take the capital risk in setting these stores up as they did.  Put simply, China doesn't care and will even promote and help business sell and make a living.  Promotion?  Well, take this for example.  Go on eBay and search for some items -- say an iPhone bumper case.  Among all the listings, you'll see what looks like legitimate Apple bumper cases among them -- complete with the metallic buttons and all.  Originally you could find both the white and black versions -- the ones Apple themselves sell at the Apple store, however as of late you can find all color variations except those two solid black and solid white ones.  In either case, the same manufacturer who makes the bumper for Apple is directly or indirectly dumping inventory on eBay and making a killing.  What I find striking here is how cheap the shipment direct from china is -- just 99 cents.   You might think the price of the bumper subsidizes the shipment but I'm not sure how much room there is for subsidizing when the price of the item is also 99 cents.  So, yes, you can buy a full iPhone bumper case for a mere $2 rather than the $30 at the Apple store.  When the package arrived, it was indeed shipped via air mail directly from China.  I really don't understand how any company can cost effectively make and ship a bumper case from half way around the world for $2.  In my humble opinion we have government subsidizing somewhere in between -- all in the spirit to maximize opportunity and employment for Chinese citizens.
 
These are iPhone4's incased in original Apple bumper case and eBay 99 cent version.  There is no discernible difference in build, craftsmanship, measurements, etc.
 
 
 
As another quick example, I ordered some new head phones on eBay recently, rather economically at $35 rather than the retail price of $99.  The auction however has a "Make an Offer" option.  So I did, at $30, and promptly received my headphones a few days later.  This time however a note was included to buy them at another web site as ebay has closed their account for unspecified reasons.  I'm presumably assuming the original manufacturer of the headphones is cracking down on illegitimate sales of their headphones.
 
In overall summary, China is allowing these products, manufactured for companies abroad and cranking up the assembly line to build extra for dumping on alternative channels of distribution for themselves.  Here is a photo of the headphones and letter with enough resolution to read the letter if zoomed in.
 
 
There is no stopping blatant copyright and trademark infringement and China doesn't do much about it -- first in the digital world with music, videos, & software and now in the physical world with the dumping of these products on alternative distribution channels.
 
Part two of this post covering the items below will follow shortly:
The dishonest control of their currency rather than letting it float freely in the markets
The quelching of anything deemed a threat to either
Long term becoming a world power with influence both politically, militarily, & monetarily.
 
 
All references as of 2/14/2012
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Johnny Ive to leave Apple soon?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011 12:49 by Michael Olivero

Apple in October, shortly after Jobs passing, promoted Eddie Cue to SVP awarding him 100,000 shares.  In November, they distributed an additional 1 million shares among all the SVP and key players.

  • Peter Oppenheimer
  • Bruce Swell
  • Scott Forstall
  • Philip Schiller
  • Bob Mansfield
  • Jeffrey Williams
  • Eddie Cue

All of them received 150,000 shares with exception of Eddie who received 100,000.  So where is Johnny Ive?  He's a SVP also, and a very important one.  My hunch is either he will receive a separate award, a hefty one to convince him to stay, or he has indicated his intention to return to England as rumors claimed a year or so ago.  Previous rumors indicated he asked to work from England to have his family grow up in their native town, but Apple's board allegedly did not approve as being close to headquarters was more important.

The shares provided were restricted, so they are not issued until a certain date.  In the case of the above shares, half vest in 2013 and the remainder vest in 2016. So with Johnny Ive missing from the list, there are only three possibilities:

  • Johnny Ive is on the verge of resigning.  His intentions of leaving to Britain as was rumor some time ago with the desire to raise his family
  • the board is creating a special, too good to deny, package for him to stay and didn't want to delay the package for the other SVP
  • they are currently negotiating other more complex options such as having him work from Britain, possibly even relocating his lab, etc.
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iOS5 battery issue with iPhone4

Thursday, 20 October 2011 20:40 by Michael Olivero

Battery Life Resolved

I was extremely delighted with my iPhone4 battery life.  With my work exchange mail and gmail set to push and normal use, I could go about two days sometimes without needing to charge.  I would go to bed with say 60% charge and wakeup with 58% remaining.

When I installed iOS5, this all came to a crashing halt.  Initially I though it was the new iCloud stuff doing an initial sync or backup, but after a few days the drain continued.  I tried the multitude of things from rebooting, to turning off location services, removing some unnecessary items from the notification center, pretty much everything in the book.  While this alleviated the situation partially, it was nowhere near what it was pre-iOS5.

I read through most of the postings on the Apple forum regarding this issue ( https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3387864 ).  One posting in particular mentioned a process taking up 50% cpu.  I'm not sure how he measured this process, but it dawn on me to cold boot the phone rather than warm boot.  Unlike a computer, warm booting (sliding the red slider after holding the sleep wake button a few seconds) the iPhone saves the state of the apps and presumably the running processes and returns them back to the original state after the phone starts up.  If you don't believe, try warm booting and then go into to running tasks (double clicking home bottom) and you'll see all your previously launched apps still there.

To make a long story short, while I did turn off some features (I'll list them below in case it helps some folks) I feel the cold boot is truly what returned the iPhone back to its pre-iOS5 battery consumption.  Cold booting is simply holding the home button down while simultaneously holding the sleep/wake button for a few additional seconds after the red slider to shut off appears until it turns off on its own and then pressing the sleep/wake button to turn it back on.

Today it charged to 90% while driving to the office and by lunch time it was 87% -- now that's definitely pre-iOS5 battery life!  During lunch, I used it for a while dropping it to 83%.  By the time I arrived home in the afternoon it was 80% (I didn't use it much for the remainder of the day).  Once home I did a 20 minute jog with RunKeeper gps-tracking me all the time while listening to streaming podcasts via stitcher.  Looking at my phone now after a few hours after the jog, its at 69%.  So I can claim with certainty, the pre-iOS5 battery life has returned.

So, first thing you should try is cold booting the phone.  Just in case it's another culprit, I'll list a few of the other changes I made.

I'm going to reactivate some of the features below one by one over the next few days, even though I do not believe they are the root cause but here they are anyways:

  • turned off location services for the weather
    • (since it's on the notification center, it's probably always checking location)
  • turned off all iCloud features except the features I like the most:  contact sync, find my iPhone, photo stream, documents & data, & iCloud backup
    • (i thought bookmarks where probably the culprit after realizing the bookmarks are constantly in sync and it coincidentally has a history folder I presumed was syncing constantly as I surfed on my work and home iMacs).

Is Apple another bargain when the stock opens 6% lower from the previous close?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 00:05 by Michael Olivero

Imagine if Microsoft, a similarly comparable large company like Apple, would all of a sudden gain 54% in profit. Would its stock tank 5 or 6% because they didn't sell as many licenses of Windows as economists had projected?  No, on the contrary it will rise like 10% on such profound news for typically lethargically large companies of their size.  The funny thing, this is not a one time event, this is a continual event every quarter for sometime now and will continue for a few more as the world settles into the iPad as they did with the iPhone and of course the App Store, the only place you can legitimately buy apps for it, will continue growing too.   The 4th quarter is going to be that much more of a smashing success with iPhone projections as the 3rd quarter wasn't because the sales of iPhones, which dropped in 3rd quarter due to lack of product launch in June, will fall over to 4th quarter from the iPhone 4S product launch.  So of course, when comparing Q3 2011 to Q3 2010, there is inevitably going to be some differences -- especially with the successful iPhone4 being the growth factor then.

To blatantly compare Q3 2011 with Q4 2010 in gross iPhone sales and fuss over the unsatisfied expectations has got to be the most misconstrued news I have ever heard.  This only reinforces Peter Lynch investment style of investing in what you know and you'll beat the analysts every time.  No matter which way you slice it, AAPL has 81 billion in the bank accruing at 6.5 billion per quarter, no debt, 54% increase in profit and product portfolios which are no where near becoming stagnant.  New product revenue lines like App Store, iPad, & strongly increasing revenue from existing product lines like iPhone, MacBook, iTunes (#1 digital music store) -- it's a 100% no brainer this stock will continue to push upwards for the near future.  Any drop should be considered a discounted buying opportunity.  

Oh, and this is before the announcement of their touch based iMacs which will lay slightly inclined on your desk similar to the iPad, still with a slide out keyboard for keyboard dependent apps , and any other new upcoming product line.

I'll write again when the price is at 500 and I'll reassess the situation then to see if we can expect more.  Buying now will give you roughly a 25% return from 400 to 500 within 12 months.

 

 

UPDATE 11/28/2011

Apple Stock today closed at 376.12.  It's an extreme bargain.  I just read various articles which simply justify my gut feeling.  One reported iPhone4S sales so large in Britain, it became the #1 in sales, even beating Andriod -- a feat many people thought was impossible given the diversity of Android devices at various price points.  Another article, states teens have listed iPhone & iPad with the same level of desire as cash and clothes on their holiday wish lists.  Yet, another, from a financial perspective, compares Apple stellar performance in comparison to it's current stock price.  Every financial metric used to value the stock have it as extremely undervalued.  Anyone buying at today's price will reap an easy 30% gain on the way up to 500.  Lets just hope the financial crisis doesn't bring a general recession/depression -- the only thing which could drag down the stock.

ExFAT filesystem with Mac OSX and Windows7

Thursday, 22 September 2011 15:35 by Michael Olivero

Do you have a drive partitioned half NTFS and half OSX format just so can utilize the drive on both operating systems or resorted to the unreliable FAT or FAT32 for the convenience?

FAT was never designed to scale to the large storage systems available today. so modern operating systems evolved their own sophisticated file systems (Linux Ext3, Windows NTFS, & Mac HFS+) with various features to handle not only the enormously large capacities, but also provide fault tolerance among other valuable features.  FAT, once ubiquitous, still survives today as the defacto file system for flash cards and USB drives. So why is a new file system called exFAT necessary?

It turns out, the modern file systems have significant overhead and are considered to be an overkill for flash drives -- some times making them slower.

exFAT (Extended FAT) was devised specifically to address these issues and more.  Since the latest versions of Microsoft and Apple operating system support exFAT, it coincidentally serves as a great file system to interchange data between the operating systems too!

On OSX's Disk Utility application, you can easily select exFAT during the erase process and similarly on windows as shown:

In summary, exFAT borrows some valuable features modern file systems such as transactional file system TFAT among others.  I'm personally using this as the filesystem for my external USB drive, however I did notice some applications on the Mac side, which rely specifically on Apple's HFS+ file system, are disabled.  For example, I cannot move a Final Cut Pro X project to my external drive to work remotely -- it simply doesn't let me drop it there as it would an HFS+ partition.

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