icePad

It has been very chilly lately but it is returning to a normal temperature today – which should please the iPad…

iPad screen reporting that charging is paused due to cold temperature.

The Vanquis App Disaster

It is not clear what has happened with the Vanquis app and they are certainly not going to admit to anything untoward. I have an image of a disgruntled employee handing in their notice and hitting the delete button on the way out. Whatever it is it is amusing to sit back and watch; but I have a zero balance – it will be considerably less amusing and more frustrating for users who actually need to use the app to make payments etc.

The average banking type app gets four or five reviews a day. The Vanquis app gets around fifty five star reviews every day. These are clearly fake reviews and are there to drown out the one star reviews from frustrated users. Several of the one star actual users have commented on the fake reviews and ask that they be reported to Apple. I have done so but what Apple could or would do remains to be seen. Who would not take time out of their day to say something was “Easy to use”?

Fake five star reviews of the Vanquis app

Well Mr Christopher Johnson (or the less than BrillentAJ) for one and anyone else who was not be paid to do so. Of course there will be the inevitable glitch and user 260446 failed to read the instructions and gave their “Easy to use” review a one star rating.

Mostly real one star reviews of the Vanquis app.

Although the app (and web site) was broken before the recent update to iOS 16 many users noticed it after updating and so attributed the malfunctioning to the iOS update but there is a wave of frustrated users on Android devices too which suggests the problem is systemic at the Vanquis end rather than on individual devices.

Android reviews of the Vanquis app

But, let us whisper it, the Internet was not designed to do any of this stuff and so you have layers of complexity added to it to give the illusion of usability and security when a peak behind the curtain reveals the whole thing is cobbled together with bits of string and blu-tack and can start to fall apart at any moment. That message from your bank about their online services not being available overnight due to important maintenance should say “we have found yet another hole large enough to drive a bus through and are frantically trying to patch it before anyone notices”.

At least it is not as bad as all the crypto/web 3 nonsense. Even Safe Hands Sunak could not resist joining the imbecilic gold rush.

Excluded by the defaults

While everyone is pushing for their rights as an individual can I stake a claim for those of us who do not have a passport? There seems to be an assumption that everyone has a passport.

The 2011 census recorded nearly nine million people in England who did not have a passport.

One could just ignore the prompt and type in your first name but it is a growing problem that is setting a default which results in people not getting housing or employment because they are unable to tick the boxes and meet some arbitrarily imposed requirement.

Restoring sounds to the iPad via memory lane.

I was confused as to why the iPad would play music and the sound on videos but fell silent while playing games. I eventually realised it was in Silent Mode. Swipe down from the top right corner to open the Control Centre and tap the Bell icon to toggle Silent Mode on and off.

Best of all – this also restored sound to the wonderful SoundForest app which had been silent for a while. Created by Justin Alexander it seems to have been abandoned but still functions on the latest devices.

Many (many!) years ago I wrote a little thing for the Amiga called Beat Sheets which triggered brief sound samples. It was part of a series I created for children called Kids Disk, which were distributed on floppy discs for free from Public Domain libraries via snail mail. It was written with AMOS, which was pretty fancy for the time, probably in 512 kilobytes of memory. I did add a hard drive to the Amiga at some point which added 20 megabytes of storage – which I described at the time as “like having a vast empty warehouse to store stuff”; for context the SoundForest video below is 155 megabytes.

Lo and behold (isn’t the Internet wonderful?) someone had a video of Beat Sheets in action which they seemed to be running in an Amiga emulator…

Beat Sheets on the Amiga 1993

Fast forward several decades and SoundForest is a far more sophisticated app, downloaded from the App Store and running on a hand held device with a terabyte of memory. It follows the same idea of tapping sound samples into a grid. You can extend your song by swiping to the left for a fresh sheet. Tapping the top bar stops and starts the player and double tapping changes the speed. Different sounds are available in the various environments – jungle, desert, ocean etc. Great fun.

All original content may be freely copied. Illustration on packaging may not match content.
Batteries not included. Suitable for vegetarians. Open at the other end.