Apple Tech

Should the CIA target Apple?

Something worth thinking about. There is spying that we denounce, such as the mass spying revealed by Snowden, but there is also some that we should come to expect, whether we agree with it or not.

Because That’s Where the Intelligence Is — As a taxpayer, if the CIA and every other U.S. intelligence agency doesn’t target Apple products, I want a refund.

Our instinct is to express outrage at U.S. intelligence agencies targeting the products of U.S. companies, but this is far from the first time it will happen, is far from the last time it will happen, and is absolutely essential for those agencies to do their jobs. As the entire world relies completely on technology for all forms of communication, tapping into that technology is critical for intelligence gathering.

via TidBITS

Apple Tech

Tablet buying tips

When someone asks me which tablet they should buy, there are few questions that I usually ask in order to help determine what they should buy. I’m going to run through them here with the hope that it helps you decide what to buy.

A few things to note:

  • This is my personal view of things, so don’t blame me if you still end up with the wrong tablet.
  • This guide is written in Q4 2014, so things might have changed by the time you read this.
  • I wrote a tablet buying guide back in Q4 2012. Some things have changed then, but the core concepts have not changed, so there will be some overlap.
  • I’m going to try and keep things as simple as possible, so if it sounds short, it’s by designe.
  • I wouldn’t say the tips below are definitive, but I intend for them to get you thinking about certain key points before you make your purchase.

So here are the few things you should look at:

  • Price
  • Usage pattern and purpose
  • Operating system
  • Your mobile phone and computer
  • Your apps
  • Support


To put it simply, the cheap tablets are horrible. I’d skip them. If your budget supports it, check out Apple’s iPads and the higher end Android tablets.

Usage pattern and purpose

How do you plan to use your tablet? If you’re always on the go, it might be a good idea to consider a smaller tablet and one that also supports a data SIM card. If you’re using it as a desktop replacement, you might want a larger screen size.

Operating system

Do you have any specific preference for Android or Apple’s iOS? If you prefer one platform over the other, then it’s best you stick to it and not deviate due to price or promotion.

Your mobile phone and computer

Devices are increasingly connected with each other, with the caveat that they’re on the same ecosystem (Apple’s, Google’s, or Microsoft’s). So if your mobile phone and computer are already on the a unified platform, you might have some additional benefits to one ecosystem. Perks I’m talking about include better photo syncing, file transfer, etc.

Your apps

Do you have any essential apps that are key to your workflow? It may not be available or works terribly on other platforms. Make sure you check through the respective platform’s application store first.


Who do you usually go to for support? The Apple Store? Your neighbour? Me? It’s good to make sure that whatever you buy, you have someone to help you when you need support.

In conclusion:

Buying a tablet isn’t that hard. I would recommend you decide on a platform first (i.e. iOS or Android), and then see which tablet hardware to buy.

Good luck! Leave me a comment below if you found this helpful or need further clarification.

Apple Thoughts

On the iPhone 6 Plus

Oh boy. While I’m doing my best to focus on minimalism, there is a huge temptation that just landed, and I mean literally huge. Yes, I’m talking about the iPhone 6 Plus.

I hate being the hypocrite, but phones have always been my main weakness. Since selling my iPhone 5S, I’m rocking a beat up old iPhone 4, which along with a carrier subsidy, should give me enough reason to drop the cash for the iPhone 6 Plus (64GB, silver, if you must ask).

Being totally honest with myself, ignoring the odd bendgate article that pops up, I guess I’ll eventually cave and buy it, but until that happens, I must say I’m surprised that I’m enjoying my iPhone 4. It’s a beat up old thing by this point, especially since my mom dropped it and cracked the display, but I’m having a kick out of using it minimalist style, similar to how one might enjoy your favourite cassette mixtape on an old Sony Walkman that you dug up.

Apple Travel

Using Passbook at KLIA and HKIA

I’ve been itching to use Apple’s passbook ever since it was announced, as it’s an ideal solution for digital tickets. The lack of support from local cinemas so far means that I haven’t found a good opportunity to give it a go. Fortunately as I was checking into my Cathay Pacific flight online, I noticed that there was an option to download the mobile ticket, which was supported by Passbook, so this was a good excuse as any to test it out.

There are a couple of places where you’d usually need your boarding pass, and this is what happened:


  • Check in counter: I was allowed to bypass this step, since I had no check in luggage and my boarding pass was already on my phone.
  • Document check before entering the immigration area: Passbook barcode was scanned using the same scanner that scans the printed boarding pass.
  • Boarding gate: Surprisingly the lady needed to take the extra step to manually verify my digital boarding pass here, though there wasn’t any issue.
  • Boarding the plane: The crew usually asks to see your boarding pass when your get on the plane, but if you tell them your seat number directly, they let it slide, so I didn’t need any boarding pass here.


  • Check in counter: I had already checked in online using the Cathay Pacific mobile app, and I had no trouble when I was purchasing my ferry ticket to HKIA, but the lady wasn’t too sure if I’d run into issues without having a printed boarding pass, so she printed one for me, just in case.
  • Entering HKIA via ferry: There is a security check before entering HKIA by ferry and I made the mistake of handing the the security personnel my passport with the printed boarding pass inside (because that’s where I usually store my boarding pass), so she stamped that and let me through. My assumption is that I could get past this with just my Passbook ticket, but I guess I can only verify this on my next trip. Update: They don’t accept Passbook here. So you’ll need a printed boarding pass. Damn.
  • Boarding gate: No problem.
  • Boarding the plane: No problem.

Things I noticed

  • While the gate number was supposed to automagically update to my Passbook boarding pass, that never happened. The gate number did update after I did a manual pull-to-refresh though.
  • Having the option to have the boarding pass displayed on your lock screen is very useful, since it gives me quick access to my boarding pass.
  • Shopping at the airport usually requires your passport and boarding pass, I managed to make it work with Passbook and my boarding pass.

It’s good to see Passbook support increasing. I know that Malaysian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Airbnb already support it. I’m definitely looking forward to more services supporting it, especially the local cinemas, since I’m not overly fond of their mobile apps.


iCloud sync is still way too slow

I recently switched my calendars, contacts, notes, and to-do list back to iCloud.

My original set up was:
Calendars: Google
Contacts: Google
Notes: Simplenote
To-do list: Wunderlist

After the switch it looked like this:

Calendars: iCloud
Contacts: iCloud
Notes: iCloud
To-do list: iCloud

After about a week of this, I’ve made the following observations:

  • I’m much happier with my calendaring and contacts on iCloud. This is especially true when I’m using a shared calendar with my wife. It just feels like a better user experience.
  • iCloud sync is still horribly slow. This is the major killer. It’s slow! This lag causes conflicts and information loss. It’s less of an issue on contacts and calendars since I can wait for those to sync, but on note taking apps and to-do lists, that’s unforgivable. I’m pretty close to switching back to Simplenote and Wunderlist for my notes and to-do lists respectively. The sync on those two services is almost instantaneous, and works seamlessly. In 2014, there is basically no excuse for such a core service such as iCloud to be syncing at the speed it currently is. The added fact that Wunderlist 3 was just launched a few days ago with Real-time Sync just makes me want to switch back even more.

I’m doing my best to continue with this experiment of staying within Apple’s ecosystem, but I suspect I’ll be back on Simplenote and Wunderlist before the month is out, which would be a disappointing result. I’m going to sacrifice some battery life to enable push-syncing of my iCloud services to see if it helps, but I really shouldn’t have to, and I doubt it’ll help much.

Apple really needs to buck up on its web services.