Digixav Podcast 022: Searching For Pie

Accompanied by a surprise special guest, Xavier and Henry return for some discussion of Steve Jobs and the iPad Pro, before waxing lyrical about pie, podcasts, and the role of social media in the aftermath of the tragedy in Paris last week. Continue reading →

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Steve Jobs review

To describe me as a moviegoer would be more than a tad disingenuous. Finding the time to sit down and properly immerse myself in a film, let alone take a trip to a cinema to spend my life savings on a box of popcorn that I’ll regret within minutes, is difficult.

Nevertheless, I do tend to enjoy adaptations of books that document the lives of the modern world’s more perplexing figures. Two that come to mind are The Social Network, the Oscar-winning dramatisation of the origins of Facebook that helped us to realise that Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Cera were not actually the same person, and Moneyball, the Oscar-nominated translation of advanced baseball statistics and a hairy Brad Pitt to a mainstream audience.

The common link of these movies? Acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. His latest twirl of the pen, Steve Jobs, is about to hit UK screens, however those looking for another film of that ilk may be sorely disappointed. Directed by Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs claims to be based upon Walter Isaacson’s 2011 authorised biography of the late Apple co-founder, though is not afraid to abandon all pretence of historical accuracy bar the presentation itself.

Cinematically, Steve Jobs is perhaps the most intriguing film since Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar-winner Birdman. Set almost solely on location in three auditoriums, it is fitting that the movie has a trio of theatrical acts, each taking place in the immediate lead-up to product launches (Macintosh in 1984, NeXT Computer in 1988, iMac in 1998). Of course, by Sorkin’s own admission, it’s incredibly unlikely that Jobs would have had aggressive and fast-paced conversations with the same core of acquaintances at any, let alone all, of the three events, but this narrowed focus does help to entice an audience to persist through its prolonged 122 minute runtime. Unfortunately, it is where Sorkin and co. play recklessly with the facts that you would expect a film titled Steve Jobs to present that the movie begins to unravel.

Our three segments portray individual key concepts: Jobs The Heartless Bastard, Jobs The Manipulative Genius, and Jobs The Sentimental Hollywood Movie Character (not technical terms, I assure you). Each is extrapolated over the 40 minutes immediately prior to Jobs taking the stage. The first centralises around Jobs’ relationship with Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) and his daughter (much to his initial chagrin) Lisa, whilst the second expands into his business endeavours and that little stumble of being fired by Apple’s board. The final part, an elongated spectacle of sentimentality, grates tremendously, culminating in Jobs chasing his finally-a-daughter onto a roof to tell her he’s going to make the iPod and solve all their problems. Or something. Interest was waning by this point.

Our Jobs is Michael Fassbender, who plays his part exceptionally. It’s quite simple to forget how little he looks like his real-life equivalent as he oscillates between nit-picking details and heartless dismissal of his own children with chilling ease, and he does settle physically into the role as time passes. Early on, despite the movie and the character doing everything possible to encourage hatred for the man, Fassbender somehow creates slivers of empathy for the audience to grasp on to. If nothing else gains recognition come award season, his performance is highly commendable.

Other performances, however, drag the movie slowly beneath the surface. Seth Rogen, portraying a bumbling caricature of Steve Wozniak, takes to serious acting like a MacBook to water. His confrontation with Jobs, which is one of oh so many, introduces the audience to the concept of Xerox PARC and Jobs’ own ‘lack’ of contributions to the actual creation of the devices.

Various characters – such as Jobs’ right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), father figure and sometime Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels), and benevolent object of berating Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) – pop up throughout, regardless of their actual employment status at the times depicted, and take their turns to sound off at Jobs in a formulaic manner. Particularly in the final segment, all the movie is missing is a physical queue outside Jobs’ dressing room with a deli counter ticketing system.

To appreciate Steve Jobs is to appreciate Steve Jobs, not Steve Jobs. This is a decent movie loosely based on a set of real people, blatantly masquerading as a biopic for a mainstream audience that may not know better. Ignore the name, for this is not a biopic of one of the foremost figures in consumer technology. Walt Mossberg, who knew Jobs and interviewed him on numerous occasions, compared Steve Jobs to Citizen Kane, in which Orson Welles took liberties with the truth and repackaged it under a different banner to bring it to the world.

Fast-talking, confrontational, and frantic. Perhaps an accurate tricolon for the Silicon Valley of today, though not the formula for what is in essence a serious mockumentary to fulfil its lofty expectations. A fascinating work of fiction it may be, but Steve Jobs is not the Steve Jobs movie we’ve been waiting for.

★★★

Steve Jobs opens in UK cinemas tomorrow (November 13th)

Techslice: The new iPhone rumour mill

Techslice is a column by Ali Wilson. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

In October 2011, Apple released their latest iPhone: the iPhone 4S. A lot of people were disappointed with the result that came 18 months after the 4 and were expecting something a bit more, well, new. By sight, the iPhone 4S is the same as its predecessor, the iPhone 4. The only major differences for a year of development were a dual-core A5 processor from the iPad 2, Siri and 3 additional megapixels in the camera.

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So with so few differences in the last upgrade, we are expecting great things from the iPhone 5/iPhone 4G/iPhone 6/new iPhone. There has been a concept design released and, as you can see, it does look very different to the previous model.

iPhone 5

Straight away, the first thing we notice is potential design overhaul of the new iPhone. Apple may reverted towards their old curved design from the original models. The shape is a lot less square and is much more rounded, a lot like the new Samsung Galaxy S III. The screen size may increase from the current 3.5″, with rumours circling that Apple may enlarge it to a whopping 4.8″, although Steve Jobs would turn in his grave. He was in staunch opposition to larger screens as he (rightly) thought that they made the iPhone resemble an Android phone.

The sixth installment to the iPhone series is said to be being released just over a year after its older brother. It was thought that if it was released earlier, then the new iPad’s sales would not be as high. Apple have therefore left a six-month gap between the iPad and the iPhone’s release. It is rumoured for early October 2012.

So, if you’re thinking of investing in an iPhone 4S, think again. It should be worth the wait of (potentially) just six months, because Apple could change everything. Again.

Birdwatching: A bite out of the Apple

Bird Watching is a column by Eddie King. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

The Angry Bird has landed! I seem to be the latest contributor to this acclaimed site, and my specialty is getting very angry very quickly about the things that we all get bugged by. I rant and rage for your entertainment and interest so be bloody grateful. For a time I have been flying high, watching, waiting and searching. At last I have chosen a worthy target to reign down my feathery wroth upon: the enigma of the technological world that is Apple.

I first got passionate about Apple when my uncle bought an original iPod Touch back when America still thought it was a good idea to vote for a piece of shrubbery with a particular low IQ for their President. He would taunt me and only let me use it for limited amounts of time (this was back when I was very young as I say) and it was then I decided to prove that Apple as ineffective as a hammock full of cheese. Unfortunately it didn’t work. No matter what I tried or researched, Apple was seemingly brilliant in every way. At this point the rest of my close family had started believing my uncle and I found myself using Apple products loads. Despite this, Apple is still second to Microsoft and, to tell you the truth, it probably will stay that way for a very long time. This is why.

Firstly there is the price. The biggest complaint about Apple internationally is that you have to own several oil fields to be able to afford the parking space outside an Apple Store before actually trying to buy anything, which means at this point only Bill Gates could contemplate this without bankrupting himself. Usually I take the view that price is no object because if something is worth the quality then save a little and buy something that will serve better and for longer, but that is based on the idea that the other product will fall apart soon after you get it home. But let’s be honest – if you wanted to buy a 15” MacBook Pro for normal laptopping purposes you would have to spend at least a thousand pounds. Yes, you get a lump of beautiful aluminium and some impressive specs, but the same money could get you a Dell XPS, an HP Envy that is almost identical in appearance or even a highly customised Alienware M14x with a wallet-melting solid state drive, all of which certainly aren’t going to fall apart the moment you get them home.

The next problem is when you get it home and you start using it you will find that the entire world has a vendetta against your every wish. Compatibility is lots better than it was a few years ago, but even still you will have to get Windows programs such as Microsoft Office and you will have to re-learn most of what you know about computers because, despite OS X Lion (and the upcoming Mountain Lion) being awesome, being raised in a society that uses Windows means that the ropes once again need learning. It will add up. Then there are the over-stylised looks. In the beginning, they were just arrogant, and in the modern day they may be unique, but they are no longer the only good looking laptops out there as other companies are discovering the revolution of ‘metal’. They still look great but not for the excessive price.

To cap it all off, there is the lack of any gaming opportunities. The only games which you can play will cost too much, be out of date and won’t work online. Boot Camp is a convenient solution for running Windows software, but you still have to buy your own copy of Windows and experience torrid battery life, while additionally losing some of the awesome smoothness that has become Apple’s signature.

And yet even though on paper Apple looks to be to Microsoft what the iPad is to the iPod Touch. But, like the iPad, once you try it you seem to feel as though your life will not be able to continue. Apple are here to stay and will continue to be the overpriced thorn that sticks in every sane person’s side; and why? Because, as I found out all those years ago, it just has an annoying habit of working like a dream. Simple smooth and care free, Apple appeals to everyone from technophobes and graphics designers to designer people who want it to look good and those who are convinced that the internet is a little black box kept safe by some super nerds on top of Big Ben. Yes, you can’t play anything except Minecraft on Macs and you have to pay three times as much for the privilege, but, when you are playing the one game that exists, it will be better than most others. What started as an angry rant has turned into a feeling of acceptance. For all their faults no one in their right minds would dare turn an Apple product away. So the choice is yours, respect, a car, a girlfriend and a life, or a super computer made of adamantium.

New iPad out now, but not for £50

Announced just over 1 week ago, Apple’s new iPad is now available. The ‘resolutionary’ tablet sports a  2048 x 1536 display that covers 9.7″, doubling the pixel density to Retina levels. The processor has received a 200MHz bump to become a 1GHz dual-core chip, while the GPU from the PlayStation Vita completes the A5X chip. 1GB RAM, a 5MP rear camera that borrows optics from the iPhone 4S and support for ‘4G’ LTE and HSPA+ networks round out the change list.

Stores will be selling the new tablet from 8am on Friday in various locations, with the UK pricing starting at £399 for a 16GB WiFi model, before progressing up to £479 and £559 for 32 and 64GB respectively. To get LTE capability as well, expect to pay an additional £100, up to £659 for the 64GB WiFi and 4G model. Do not, however, expect to pay £49.99 for it. A technical blunder from Tesco, similar to that involving Argos and the Nokia Lumia 800, priced the high-end model at this bargain level, but orders were swiftly cancelled. A spokesman confirmed:

We like to offer our customers unbeatable value, but unfortunately this is an IT error that is currently being corrected.

Will you be getting one, or does the newly reduced iPad 2 still float your boat? Let us know in the poll and comments.