BlathrWayne Lorentz

Blathring in January, 2023.

How many notes per unit?

Saturday, January 21st, 2023 Alive 18,897 days

A screenshot from iTunes

It may be a symptom of age that I looked at this album on iTunes Japan and thought, “Eldo is the better song, but Halo is over six minutes long for the same price!”

For what itʼs worth, Eldo costs 2¥ per second, while Halo costs a little over ½¥ per second. So Halo is clearly the better value, even though Eldo is more popular.

Disgusted with myself, I bought neither.

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Donʼt sweat the details

Friday, January 20th, 2023 Alive 18,896 days

Silicon Valley tech companies gotta Silicon Valley. Amirite?

Apple has a new version of its HomePod device available. Much like most of its previous devices, itʼs built for people who live in the greater San Francisco area, where the weather is largely placid, boring and uneventful. In other words — entirely unlike most of the rest of the planet.

The web page about the new HomePod includes this footnote about its temperature and humidity sensors:

Temperature and humidity sensing is optimized for indoor, domestic settings, when ambient temperatures are around 15°C to 30°C and relative humidity is around 30% to 70%.
https://www.apple.com/homepod-2nd-generation/#footnote-9

Well, 15°C is 59 degrees. How often do people let it get down to 59 degrees in their homes? All the time.

There is no shortage of basements in places like Green Bay, Minneapolis, and the entire nation of Canada where people have a basement that has been kitted out as a family room, or a den, or a home office and that remains unheated most of the year. One of Appleʼs scenarios for using the HomePod temperature sensor is that it can be paired with other HomeKit gear to automatically turn on a heater if it gets too cold. Great. Except that if your chosen temperature for activating the heat in your unused basement or attic rec room is below 59°, Apple admits itʼs not going to be reliable.

On the hot side, OK, itʼs unusual to have an indoor temperature above 86°. But Iʼve had it in my house many times when the humidity was low and I lived in the desert. Many days in the spring and fall when Iʼd have the windows wide open enjoying the warm breeze and low humidity, the indoor temperature would get to 86°. If the cat was sleeping, that was fine. Sheʼd eventually wake up and start complaining, and Iʼd have to close the windows and bring the temperature down to 80-ish for her. But thatʼs to be expected, since she wears a fur coat. If I didnʼt have the cat, Iʼd probably have the temperature higher. And Iʼm not alone. Thereʼs a reason millions of people retire to hot places.

The humidity range is oddly narrow, too. Iʼm sure that 30% humidity is bone-crackingly dry in Cupertino. In Nevada, itʼs a bit clammy. When I lived there, the outdoor humidity reported by the National Weather Service was regularly in the single digits. And both of my indoor humidity sensors almost always showed readings well below 30%. Both of them appeared to have the same sensor under the hood, since they both stopped reporting humidity at 10%. These werenʼt expensive high-tech scientific humidity sensors. One I bought at the Apple Store for about $100. The other came from the supermarket, and cost about ten bucks. But it was perfectly happy reporting humidity far lower than what Apple considers reliable for its equipment.

Living in the Bay Area, Apple employees canʼt possible envision indoor humidity above 70%, but guess what — thatʼs a perfectly ordinary occurrence in most of the southern United States, including Florida, New Orleans, and Houston — the fourth-largest city in the nation. According to my HomeKit-connected humidity sensor, the humidity inside my house has been over 80% five times in the last two months.

All of this continues a pattern at Apple of designing products that only work well in the very specific, very ordinary weather conditions of Silicon Valley. Things like iPod headphone cords that get brittle in a Chicago winter, and iPhones that shut themselves off in temperatures that are common for millions of people who live in desert environments.

Apple has the money, the resources, and the people to do better. Why it chooses not to remains unclear.

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Saturday, January 7th, 2023 Alive 18,883 days

A page from the January 7, 2023 Houston Chronicle

If thereʼs a feature article in the newspaper about how debutante balls have changed over the years, you may live in Texas.

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