Life is a series of rituals. This is ours. This is our Friday.
Frances and I spend the day together and walk in Bahrain City Centre normally – for those not from this area, people can’t walk outside especially in the summer, and malls are big enough, interesting enough, and very importantly are air conditioned so it makes the exercise worth it. While walking, we enjoy talking, window shopping, shopping and meeting with friends we encounter. It’s a nice few hours spent together.
The film was shot entirely on an iPhone 7. It turned out that its auto focus is challenged in this shooting environment. I chose to shoot through the main camera lens rather than the front-facing one. The phone was mounted on a selfie-stick or hand-held. With filming through the primary lens, there is no way for me to see the screen so I had to best guess or trust the system would focus properly. That didn’t work, but the results are acceptable enough.
In the future I’ll have to find a way to lock focus or get a cameraman to do those required shots. I did ask a couple of people at location to help and their shots (OTS, the two of us walking away) were obviously much better than holding the phone at an unknown angle on a selfie stick facing backwards.
The latest version of the Filmic Pro application, version 6, is amazing. It is very intuitive to use and as importantly opens up a whole host of features and resolutions to iPhone filmmakers. The new version is capable of going up to 4k resolution on iPhone 6S series and above. Unfortunately older phones are limited to HD due to hardware.
However, as I discovered, if you had saved a higher resolution setting from a previous version of Filmic Pro, that setting was available on my older iPhone 6+ and was able to record in 3k without audio. Here’s my test:
The clarity is astounding! Crank up the resolution to 4k (it should’ve been 3k at 1728p but YouTube prefers 4k it seems) and put it on full screen and enjoy.
Some friends have started to demand that before any conversation takes place, even when the chat is really about nothing but mundane and insignificant things, that all our mobile phones are not only switched off, but have their batteries removed too. Some go further by demanding that the offending instruments be placed outside of the vicinity of their gathering.
The claim, of course, is that someone somewhere could remotely activate a mobile phone’s microphone and listen in to a conversation without any outward sign that this is actually happening. I thought that this was a wee bit over the top and a James Bond gone completely mad syndrome. Or maybe, it’s the sign of the times in Bahrain, where trust seems to have been completely and utterly eradicated and people are reportedly afraid of being fingered, owing to the continuous arrests and perceived witch hunts taking place. Unfortunately, people are said to have become afraid of voicing even harmless comments, or get terrified due to unfortunate verbal outbursts said even in privacy when sometimes one’s passion overcomes reason. Hence the insistence on disabling mobile phones before any conversation could take place.
I decided to find out if there was any merit to those claims.
I am absolutely shocked to have found out that that this has been going on for some time and the fears of remotely activating various features of mobile phones quite substantiated. The first article I came across set the tone quite adequately:
FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool
The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone’s microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.
The technique is called a “roving bug,” and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.
Damn! And this has happened in the States six years ago! Can you imagine the state of that technology now with the huge advances in modern and relatively cheaply available mobile phones like the iPhone and the Blackberry? I bet the tools available now will not only be stealthy that one would never know that they’re actually installed on handsets, but also be able to transmit the full gamut of the phone’s features, including address books, text messages, installed apps stored data, audio, location information and even video too!
I decided to see how available such applications are. Another quick search resulted in quite a number of readily available applications. These include apps which turn your phone to a mobile and undetectable security camera while another much more pernicious and invasive application which turns your phone into a remote and an undetectable microphone as well as enable call logging, call interception, email relay amongst many other functions limited only by the actual capabilities of the mobile phone.
Are you scared yet?
You should be.
There are ways in which you can probably detect that your phone has been tampered with or monitored, but it will probably take an expert in the field to really find out if it has. It apparently only takes minutes to install an app if it’s off the shelf, but that’s not the only way to ingest such code though. Home brewed applications from the hacking world have many more methods to invade your phone without you ever clicking on to your own culpability in helping such an invasion to happen. One can’t be too careful, really. So, until you have access to an expert to go over and test your phone for an infection, here are some tell-tale signs that your phone might have been bugged:
You have noticed strange sounds or volume changes on your phone lines.
You have noticed static, popping, or scratching on your phone lines.
Sounds are coming from your phone’s handset when it’s hung up.
Your phone often rings and nobody is there, or a very faint tone, or high pitched squeal or beep is heard for a fraction of a second.
Maybe a good piece of advice might be to stick to an old brick of a phone with minimum functionality if one really wants security; however, even then one can be pin-pointed to within five meters of their location by the telco using simple triangulation methods.
There is really no escape…
But I’m offering my iPhone 4 for immediate sale… any takers?
Update [email protected] The plot thickens, the Guardian has an article detailing how the iPhone on iOS4 records locations in a secret little file and someone’s written an application to not only extract that file, but show you directly where you have been with your nice little iPhone on a world map with dates too. The iPhone (and other smart phones) are God’s gift to security agencies the world over!
What do you need to broadcast live video and audio? A truckload of equipment? A staff of highly technical personnel complimented with nice eye-candy to man the front end all with salaries in the thousands?
The limitations is that if you’re doing it on Zain’s 3G network, don’t get too excited. It’s as slow as treacle and you will get plenty of drop-outs at the higher frame resolution, I suggest you reduce the resolution to 176×144 rather than 320×240. I would love to hear from anyone with the other operators to compare.
This, my friends, is a game changer.
But the real question is, how long will this take our informed and illuminated Misery of Information to block this service “because it’s not commensurate with our moral values as Bahrainis”?
Not too long I don’t think. At least let’s enjoy this technological innovation while it lasts.
Given half a chance, I’m sure that every single village in Bahrain will have several streams going in no time at all to broadcast everything from religious precessions, weddings, community issues and even their own local news channel covering topics which interest them.
Given half a chance, we will have hundreds of broadcast stations with thousands of highly trained and talented people running them, opening a complete new stream of highly lucrative job creation opportunities in TV, broadcast and new media.
Given half a chance, we can innovate and show the world our capabilities.
It’s cool being in Italy not just because it is truly the most beautiful country on Earth, but it’s laws also prohibit the likes of Apple to dictate their terms on and in their country. It is therefore one of the few countries on Earth that you can legally pick up an unlocked iPhone without a contract any time you like…
And that is exactly what I did on the 2nd day of being here. I purchased two, one for my son and the other for me; 2x 32 sweeties! And after almost a week of using it, I can tell you the experience is worth it; twice the speed or even faster compared to the old one, and a host of features which I’m not going to go through at the moment as Apple’s own site as well as many others could furnish that information much better than I could. Suffice it to say that the Compass feature is bloody good especially when trying to navigate the narrow and utterly confusing Roman streets. The camera IS much better and helloooo video, at last! I finally can do video after more than a year with the predecessor. Oh how I missed thou!
To those wavering on the decision to get one, waver no more. Just plunge in and thank me later.
I’ve not really been an advocate of the iPhone at all, happily concentrating on the negatives rather than recognising the positives. Well no more. I decided that as I have started to hate the newly bought Sony Ericsson C902, it’s time to just accept the call of lust and go for the iPhone 3G and give that a go.
Fortunately, a reader of this blog had become adept at securing reasonably priced units – don’t ask how, that would be the secrets of the trade – but as it comes with a bona fide box, albeit bashed and battered and copiously taped with Aramex 2-inch special, it does contain all the bits and pieces as His Royal Majesty Steve Jobs required.
That; though, was not the end of the story. To get it to work in these here climes, the gentlemen came with a tailor-sized pair of scissors and an old-school shaving blade! It doesn’t stop there either, yes there’s more!
Out comes the magic adapter, a tray and my massacred and ‘reshaped’ SIM card gets cajoled into being sandwiched between the adapter and the tray all of which get judiciously inserted into the slot. A restart and it comes alive and connected to the Zain network.
I – am – in!
It was jailbroken unit too, but as I want to experience the “pure” 3G experience first, and as I am always a sucker for the latest releases, I came home and immediately plugged it in at which time iTunes came up with a resolute objection: “You have no right to use this phone!”
The SIM, it declared, was not on the authorised list, one which was blessed especially by His Royal Majesty, and a state of semi-panic sets in. If this is the start and if I can accept the currently installed version, how am I going to sync my contacts and get my email and ical appointments – which is one of the major reasons why I bought it in the first place?
A call to the intrepid suppliers and after a brief panic-filled moment, they duly informed me to eject the magic tray and connect it. Sure enough, that is exactly what I did and iTunes – now assured that I shall not have the temerity of using it on a network not fleeced by the King, acquiesced to my request and started downloading the latest software release in order for the iPhone to be restored to a factory default virginal 2.0.2 release. That – iTunes tells me – will take about 3 hours to download (at 2Mbits and about 250MB of data). So, I shall leave it as it is for now, and shall continue to look forward to explore and play in the morning.
Thank God for weekends!
Update 080904: That was a short lived experience. I opted to return it to the seller who accepted it and offered a full refund. Time to get another phone, so your suggestions are most welcome!
Notice that the word “Phone” does not have an “i” in front of it? If you did then well done, because I just came back from Geant where I bought the new Sony Ericsson C902i, thank you very much!
Reason? It’s unlocked and I’m not beholden to anyone. It’s got some nice features, the most important of which is a good quality camera which is supposed to be 5 mega pixels, but I don’t believe that it’s that good by comparing a few pictures I have already snapped with it.
It being new, iSync didn’t like it, so I had to pay UKÂ£1.50 to buy a plugin to enable iSynch from feisar.com and a few minutes later it was up and running while singing and all dancing. I do find that the addressbook and responsiveness of the phone generally after syncing my calendar and addressbook a bit slow, which too is disappointing.
The form factor of the phone (more than half the thickness of my older K800i) is a pleasure, but as my mitts are not so used to it yet, it did almost drop out of them a couple of times. Another gripe is the oddly shaped buttons, chopped and sloping downward which makes the contact a bit awry.
Yes there are quite a number of gripes so far, true, but still much better than the iPhone by miles simply because it is sold everywhere without having to disclose your most intimate details together with convert to another religion to be able to own one!