Technology Disasters

No matter how hard we try, we cannot stop all technology issues from occurring. We have all had our share of technology disasters. Through the years, I have had my own share. I have managed to lock myself out of countless computers, and I have even managed to delete some important files, this last one we have probably all experienced from time to time. One of the things that I do is take care of my devices. I cannot say that I am perfect with my gadgets I have had my share of issues.

I have managed to ding a couple of devices, most notably my original iPad, a cracked iPhone screen, and a scratch on a Series 0 Apple Watch. There is one product where I have had worse luck than others: the iPod nano. Besides experiencing the scratched front of the first iPod nano, I have managed to One of the other things that I have managed to do is lose an iPod. This was also an iPod Nano. Maybe I just have bad luck with iPod Nano. I have yet another story to add to the already existing list.

The Ordeal

So last Wednesday, just after 9 a.m. I went and used the restroom. After I was done and the toilet was flushing, I leaned over and I managed to lean over just a bit too far, and my AirPods fell out of my shirt pocket and straight into the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. And before you think anything, the water was clean.

At first, as with most other times when something similar happens, you go “Wait, really?”, and I quickly tried to grab them out of the toilet. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. If I would have been at home, I might have had a chance, but since I was at work, there was no hope due to the increased water flow. After realizing that what I hoped did not happen, actually did happen, I washed my hands, and went back to my desk.

If a single AirPod had dropped down a sewer or elsewhere I could have contacted AppleCare and paid for a replacement, or if I was able to reach it, I could have used a magnetic screwdriver or other magnetic tool to grab the AirPod, sadly that was not the case.

I already knew that getting a new pair of AirPods would not be very likely given that Apple’s own shipping stated a 6 week order time. I had resigned myself to not being able to get a new pair anytime soon. I went looking on all sorts of websites to see if I could find any in stock, or relatively in-stock soon. This included the usuals: Amazon and Best Buy. Then I thought about it for a minute and realized that there was a site, Is In Stock and I looked there. As suspected, they said “Notify When Available”.

I took a chance and looked at each of the sites listed. All of the sites either said “Not Available”, or “add to cart” with delivery at a future date. I took a chance and ordered from one of the sites. An hour or so after I ordered, I contacted their chat help to see if they had any in stock. Lo and Behold, they did infect have “an stock”. I take it that either the chat representative mistyped or English is not their first language. At this point, I was pretty confident that I would be getting my replacement AirPods this week. Luckily, they actually arrived on Saturday, so I now have another pair of AirPods. Even though I only spent a few days without them, I do have a few observations about having to return to using the wired EarPods.

Observations

During my few days having to return to using wired headphones. First off, wires are evil. They get tangled too easily in things, they are a hassle, and without an adapter, you can’t charge and listen at the same time.

Of course, the EarPods do have some benefits, most notably that you can continue listen if you take an EarPod out, however, I have become accustom to it stopping when I remove an AirPod, so this behavior was a bit different to have to return to.

Having my Beats Solo 3 as a backup came in very handy. While the AirPods are very convenient, the bigger battery of the Beats Solo 3 Wireless allows them to to last for a quite a while. If I had not had them, I would have likely run home during my lunch and retrieved a pair of wired EarPods.

Once you become accustom to the AirPods, it is difficult to go back to using wired headphones.

Final Thoughts

I fully realize that me losing my AirPods is 1) entirely my own fault, 2) a “First World Problem”. I will not deny either of them in the slightest. Strangely, I had the AirPods for exactly 120 days, this came out to about $1.33 per day. Was it worth the price, yes. However, I do wish the cost per day would have been amortized over the course of a couple of years, not 120 days.

I am glad that I was able to get another pair so quickly, otherwise it would have been tough to deal without them. Even in the short time that I have had them, I have come to rely on them. One thing that I will no longer be doing is putting AirPods in my shirt pocket. Instead, they will go in my side pocket or I will leave them somewhere else. If you are interested in the AirPods, now is the time to order them since it may take up to six weeks to arrive.

Recent Changes for Apple Developers

While it is possible that Apple makes changes for developers outside of their World Wide Developer Conference, it does happen. Apple has made a few changes over the past two weeks that directly affect developers. These revolve around TestFlight, Search Ads, and Photos.

Test Flight Changes

Test Flight was acquired by Apple in February of 2014. Prior to purchase, Test Flight was capable of testing both iOS and Android applications. To no one’s surprise, Apple quickly removed support for Android. As of February 2015, Test Flight, in its standalone capacity, was shutdown. Since then, Apple has slowly added some new features, but they have been modest. The most recent changes expand the service’s capabilities.

One of the downsides that many developers have brought forth include the limitation of only allowing one build to be available to testers. While this approach may work well for testers outside of a company, inside the company it is often more beneficial to be able to test more than one build at a time. Test Flight now supports multiple builds, for both internal and external testers. When this is enabled, testers will be presented with multiple builds. The testers will need to choose which build to test, but the option is now available.

The second change for Test Flight revolves around testers, specifically grouping testers. As mentioned above, there are often times when a developer would like to be able to test multiple features. With the new multiple builds option, it is possible to test multiple builds, however each user who wants to test a specific build would need to be manually selected each time that a new build is to go live. This is no longer the case. Test Flight now supports grouping testers.

The grouping of testers now means that when there is a new build of an application, the developer can simply assign that build to a specific group. This streamlines the process that developers must go through when they wish to submit a specific build to a set of users.

The primary function of Test Flight is to allow developing of an application. Once an application has gone through the testing phase, the final step is to release the build into the App Store. When this step occurs, the test build that was running no longer runs. This behavior has changed. Now, when an application that was being used with Test Flight goes live in the App Store, the Test Flight build can continue to be used. The primary benefit of this change means that there should now be minimal interruption when an application goes live.

These are all of the changes that have been made to Test Flight, but these are not on the only changes that have been made. Next let us look at Search Ads.

Search Ads

Search Ads were introduced last June, the week before Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. Search Ads are advertisements that developers can purchase and appear within the App Store application. At their launch, Search Ads was available only in the United States. As of Tuesday, April 25th, Search Ads will be available in a few more countries. These countries are the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

While the number of countries that are included is still small, being able to work out the bugs in the system, before doing a wider roll out makes sense. It is entirely possible that this is Apple’s strategy. Alongside this, different countries will possible require different layouts given the difference in character types, as well as widths. This is a good start for future expansion.

Live Photos

At their September 2015 event for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, Apple introduced a new feature, Live Photos. Live Photos are photos that allow motion. In reality, these are quick movies that have some photos on each end of the movie. One of the issues with Live Photos is that they do not work on anything other than iOS and macOS. This is no longer the case. Apple has released a new Javascript Framework, LivePhotoKitJS. This framework allows any website to be able to load and play Live Photos.

What this ultimately means that sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can all display any Live Photos that have been taken to other users. Once these sites do add this ability, it will go a long way to do making Live Photos available for everyone. Besides having big developers implement the feature, this is a way for other non-Apple developers to be able to display Live Photos within their applications as well.

If you go to developer.apple.com/live-photos/ you can see an example of the Live Photos Javascript framework in action. Apple has used it on their own website to show off a couple of Live Photos. Full documentation is also available at developer.apple.com.

Final Thoughts

While these changes only affect developers directly, there will be some smaller benefits to all users. With the Test Flight changes, this means that developers can focus on more than just one feature or update at the same time. With Search Ads, more developers will be able to get their applications in front of more users. With Live Photos Framework, the richness of the web has been expanded to allow an even better experience for everyone.

Changes to iWork and iLife Apps on iOS and macOS

Apple makes a significant portion of its money off of its hardware. The gross margin across all of their hardware products is roughly 40%. When you sell millions of iPhone in a quarter, you generate huge amount in profits, enough to be the most profitable company in the world. With hardware being such a significant portion of Apple’s profits, this means that a much smaller portion of their profits.

The best way to sell an even higher number of hardware devices is to provide good software. Apple began doing this with their iOS devices from the beginning, and allowed 3rd party developers to create software in 2008. By doing this, Apple has created a vast ecosystem of applications. This strategy has been so successful, that there are over 2.2 million applications available.

In order to provide an even better experience between their devices as well as provide an even more consistent experience, Apple had made a few of their applications free. The list of applications includes:

App iOS Price macOS Price
iMovie $4.99 $14.99
Garageband $4.99 $4.99
Pages $9.99 $19.99
Numbers $9.99 $19.99
Keynote $9.99 $19.99

Previously, these applications were only available when you purchased new hardware. For instance, if you purchased a new Mac you could get Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for free. Similarly, if you purchased an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you could receive them for free as well. If you did not receive the applications for free they would cost between $5 and $20 each.

The rationale behind making these applications for free is not entirely known, but there may be a few possible reasons. The first is that by providing the applications for free, Apple is able to provide even more value for the amount already expended for hardware. Most particularly, this strategy may provide a boon to iPads. In particular, if a user purchases a new iPad having professional-level applications available will make the purchase even more worthwhile. Additionally, by providing the applications for free on both platforms the experience when going between both iOS and macOS will be even more consistent.

Given that Apple does make so much money from the hardware, it seems like a rounding error to provide these applications for free. If you decided to not purchase them before, you can now go ahead and get them for free.

Apple and their Pro Users

As most may be aware, Apple is a very secretive company. Apple prefers to keep to themselves until they are ready to announce a product. There are only a few times when Apple will reveal a product before it is available. A few of the product that they have done so include the iPhone, the Apple TV, and the 2013 Mac Pro.

It is not often that Apple reveals what they are working on. However, Apple has done just that, although not as explicitly as they did with the iPhone or the Apple TV. Apple invited a handful of journalists to visit their “Machine Lab” on Apple’s campus across from One Infinite Loop. Apple did not show off any physical product, but they did describe what they are working on.

In June of 2013, at their World Wide Developer Conference, Phil Schiller unveiled that Apple was working on a revolutionary design for their high-end Mac Pro. This came on the heels of many “pundits” indicating that Apple lost its way. This lead to Schiller giving the infamous “Can’t innovate my ass” quote. This is when Apple unveiled the all new Mac Pro.

The design of the Mac Pro is a very customized design that had not been tried before. The thermal core of the Mac Pro is triangular. The Mac Pro has dual graphical processing units occupying two sides of the triangle thermal core. The third side has the processor. The thermal core is designed to move all of the heat up through the central core and out of the top of the Mac Pro.

The exterior of the Mac Pro is smooth. However, from Apple’s own wording, the interior design, while ambitious, has ultimately not worked out as well as they would have hoped. In reality, the tolerances for the thermal core were too close and if Apple changed any of the internal components, the Mac Pro would not be able to work properly.

Due to the tight tolerances, the Mac Pro has lacked any upgrades since its introduction in 2013. Apple has made some slight upgrades to the Mac Pro. In reality, they are not upgrades as much as a better value for the same price. The new base model comes with dual AMD D500 GPUs, and a 6-core processor. This is up from the 4-core and AMD D300. The higher-end model comes with an 8-core processor and the AMD D700s. This is up from the 6-core and AMD D500 processors. For now, these are the only changes to the Mac Pro.

At this same meeting, Apple did provide some details on their new Mac Pro. Apple is currently working on a new modular Mac Pro. The modularity is not necessarily end-user modularity, but more likely, for Apple to be able to upgrade the Mac Pro on a more regular basis, but it will not be with the current form factor. Apple indicated that this new Mac Pro will “not be available this year”.

Alongside the new Mac Pro, Apple also indicated that it is working on a new display. This goes against what some reports indicated before. Previously, it was reported that Apple was completely out of the display game, since Apple partnered with LG to work on the LG Ultrafine 5k Display that was introduced in the fall with the MacBook Pro with Touchbar.

Apple did not give any more specific information about the Mac Pro. However, they did mention that they are working on a new iMac model that is geared towards professionals. What this entails, is not entirely clear. It is entirely possible that Apple will have even more powerful processors, and possibly even higher maximum amounts of memory. One of the better items that Apple could put into an iMac Pro would be a 6 or 8 core-processor with the possibility of having 64 or 128GBs of memory.

All that we know is that Apple is working on these items. There is no information as to when the redesigned Mac Pro or the iMac Pro will be released, but it is only a matter of time before the new Macs are released. One thing that I would like to see is any new information about a new Mac Mini, but there is no new information about it.

A Smattering of Apple Updates

Earlier this week Apple released a few products. None of the released hardware products are new, however they all have some upgraded internals. Let us start with two upgraded iPhones.

iPhone SE

The first upgrade was to the iPhone SE. The iPhone SE was released about a year ago in March of 2016. The iPhone SE has the same internals as the iPhone 6s. This includes Touch ID, an A9 processor, M9 motion co-processor, and 4K video recording at 30fps. All of this in a 4-inch Retina screen. When the iPhone SE was released, it came in two sizes, 16GB And 64GB models.

The upgrade increases the two model sizes. They are now 32GB and 128GB models are the same price, $399 and $499 respectively.

This upgrade indicates two things. The first that the iPhone SE is not a one-off, and is likely to be continued in the future. It will likely be a phone where the internals are upgraded every two years. The second item is that the 16GB Model of iPhone is officially retired; except for maybe refurbished phones. The updated iPhone SE is not the only iPhone with a new model.

PRODUCT(RED)

PRODUCT(RED) is a program that raises awareness for, and provides funds, to help eliminate HIV/AIDS. Apple has been supporting (PRODUCT)RED since October 2006 when they unveiled an iPod Nano. Since then, Apple has added many other PRODUCT(RED) items over the last 11 years. The latest release is a particularly important one for Apple.

Apple has released an iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus that is Red and White. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are the same exact specifications as the Black, Gold, Rose Gold, and Silver models; except for one aspect. The PRODUCT(RED) iPhone does not come in 32GB, just like the Jet Black model. It does come in 128GB and 256GB models.

The 128GB iPhone 7 model is $749, the 256GB is $849. The 128GB iPhone 7 Plus is $869 and the 256GB is $969. This is the same as the Jet Black iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

The PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available for order on Friday, March 24th, at 8:01 AM Pacific Time.

iPad

One of the most anticipated products is a new iPad Pro, in particular the 12.9-inch model. Unfortunately, there was not a new version of the iPad Pro being released. There is a new 9.7-inch iPad.

The new iPad replaces the iPad Air 2 and is a slight upgrade. The new internals of the iPad include an A9 Processor, this is the same processor that is in the iPhone 6s. There is also the same Motion co-processor, the M9. This is the same as the iPhone 6s.

Besides the internals, the iPad is slightly heavier than its predecessor. The updated iPad is 1.05 pounds, versus 0.96 pounds. There are a couple of things that are no longer on the iPad. The fully laminated display and antireflective coating are no longer on the iPad. This is not the only thing has been dropped from the iPad.

The price has been dropped. The 32GB Wi-Fi Model is now $329, while the 128GB model is $429. This is down from $399 and $499 respectively. The Wi-Fi + Cellular models are $459 and $559 for the 32GB and 128GB models. This is down from $529 and $629 for the 32GB and 128GB Models.

The iPad will be available for order on March 24th, at 8:01 AM Pacific Time.

Accessories

Apple considers itself a fashion company. One of the ways that Apple keeps ups with fashion is by adding colors to some of its accessories. There are a few areas where this is the case. The first is with new iPhone Cases. There are a few new cases.

Cases

For the various iPhone models here are the new colors:

Leather:

iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus

  • Berry
  • Sapphire
  • Taupe

iPhone SE

  • Saddle Brown

Silicone:

iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus

  • Azure
  • Camellia
  • Pebble

Watch Bands

While iPhone Cases provide some fashion, the Apple Watch bands do allow individual expression.

SportBand

  • Azure
  • Camellia
  • Pebble

Nike Bands

When Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Series 2, one of the models that were not immediately available; the Nike+ Model. There are two distinct aspects to the Nike+ models. The first aspect is a custom watch face that is only available on the Nike+ models. This is still the case. However, the second distinct aspect is the watch band options for the Nike+ Watches. These watch bands are now available on their own.

The watch band options are:

  • Black/Volt
  • Anthracite/Black
  • Pure Platinum/White

These bands are available for $49.

Woven Nylon

When Apple introduced the Woven Nylon bands, many of them are two colors. The majority of the band is one color, while a second color is an accent color. The Spring 2017 colors are below.

  • Berry
  • Tahoe Blue
  • Orange
  • Red
  • Pollen
  • Midnight Blue

All of the colors, excluding the Midnight Blue, are tai-colored. Each of these bands are $49.

Leather

One of the more chic materials for watch bands is Leather. There is a new Classic Buckle design for Spring. There are some new colors as well. These are the colors that are available:

  • Berry
  • Black
  • Midnight Blue
  • Red
  • Saddle Brown
  • Sapphire
  • Taupe

These bands are available now and cost $149.

Hermès Bands

When Apple unveiled the Apple Watch, one of the companies that they partnered with is Hermès.

There are a few new Hermès bands available.

38 mm versions

  • Fauve Barenia Leather Single Tour
  • Fauve Barenia Leather Double Tour
  • Bleu Zéphyr Epsom Leather Double Tour

42 mm versions

  • Lime Epsom Leather Single Tour
  • Colvert Swift Leather Single Tour
  • Fauve Barenia Leather Single Tour

These bands are available for $489 each.

Software

Beyond the the hardware updates and accessories, there were some software updates released as well. The first is everyone’s favorite software product, iTunes.

The new version, 12.6, has one new feature, ‘Rent Once, Watch Anywhere’. This new feature will allow you to rent a movie on your iPhone you can watch it on your Apple TV.

While in theory this should have been the way it worked before, but it was almost never the case. This requires iOS 10.3 or tvOS 10.2 in order to work.

Clips

One of the more modern change to the Internet, in the last 13 years, is the rise of social media. There have quite a number of social networks that have gone bust in the last 15 years. Some of these include Plurk, Friender, Peach, Orkut, and Pownce.

Apple has attempted to create a social network, with Ping. Apple eventually realized that their attempt at a social network was not going to work, so they ended Ping. Instead of attempting to build another social network, Apple has done what they are good at, building applications. Apple has created a new application called Clips.

Clips is an application that allows iOS users to create videos that have special effects. The application is very like other applications that are available. The key to Clips is that you can share the clips that you make with individuals through Messages, or by posting to Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, or even YouTube.

If in one of your clips, a face from your Photo library is recognized, Clips will automatically suggest that you send the clip to the subject of the video.

Clips will be available in early April on iOS. It will be a free application.

Swift Playgrounds

The last update, which is a minor one, but one that is much appreciated for some developers. Swift Playgrounds is now available in five more languages. These languages are:

  • Simplified Chinese
  • Japanese
  • French
  • German
  • Latin American Spanish

The Swift Playgrounds update is available now.

Final Thoughts

These updates, while minor, are great updates for each of the product. This may just be a prelude to more announcements that may come in a few weeks.

WWDC 2017 Scholarship Information Available

When Apple announced their World Wide Developer Conference they announced that information about their scholarships would be announced later. Apple has now announced the Scholarship information.

Apple’s WWDC Scholarship program is designed for those that are 13 years old, as a registered developer and enrolled in a course of study, or an alumni of STEM organization.

There are a few requirements for applying. They are as follows:

  • Personal Information
  • School Information
  • Create a Swift Playground

The Personal Information must include your Apple ID, and a PDF, PNG, or JPG, that includes your membership information.

If you are a student, you will need to provide a current copy of your schedule in PDF, PNG, or JPG. If you are a member or alumni of a STEM organization, you will need to provide a PDF, PNG, or JPG of your membership information as well as your local leader’s information.

The biggest requirement is that you will need to create a visually interactive scene in a Swift playground that can be experienced within three minutes. This could be just about anything, but it is a requirement to be awarded a scholarship.

The requirements for the Swift Playground are:

  • The Swift playground you submit should be created entirely by you as an individual. Group work will not be considered.
  • The Swift playground should be built using Swift Playgrounds on iPad or Xcode on macOS.
  • The Swift playground should function properly and run on the latest releases of Swift Playgrounds and iOS or Xcode and macOS.
  • All content should be in English.
  • The .zip file size should not be more than 25 MB.
  • Any resources in the project should be included locally in the zip file that you provide, as your Swift playground will be judged offline.

Scholarship recipients will receive a free ticket to Apple’s WWDC 2017 conference as well as free lodging. Applying for a WWDC Scholarship will be available on March 27th, the same day that entry into the WWDC lottery will begin.

Apple Campus 2 to Open

When one thinks of Silicon Valley, one aspect that they may think of that is companies often need to expand. Traditionally, when this is done, existing office buildings are purchased by companies and employees are moved in. As one might expect, Apple likes to think a bit different and wanted to not continue the practice of buying up buildings. In 2011, one of the last public presentations that former CEO Steve Jobs did was to present the Cupertino City Council in support of their new Apple Campus. Apple has given a name to their Campus 2. They have named it “Apple Park”.

In 2010/2011, Apple purchased approximately 150 acres of land. The land was previously owned by Hewlett Packard’s computer division, which is where Steve Jobs also held one of his summer jobs.

One of the features of the Campus 2 is that houses 12,000 employees all within one building. As Steve Jobs stated within his presentation to the Cupertino City Council, the traditional Office Parks that are around the Silicon Valley area are drab and just a bunch of buildings. This is not what Apple had envisioned for their new Campus.

20% of Apple’s current campus at 1 Infinite Loop is landscaping. With Apple Park, approximately 80% of the 150 acres is landscaping, including a giant courtyard in the middle of the building. The number of trees at the 1 Infinite Loop Campus is approximately 3700. With Apple Park, it will be around 9000. Some of these trees would be Apricot Trees, which used to be on the land when HP bought the land.

One of the Council members asked if the city would get “Free Wifi”, and Steve Jobs mentioned that Apple offers more than just free wifi, although if Apple would get out of paying taxes, then they would be happy to provide free wifi to Cupertino.

Apple has announced that their Apple Park will open to employees in April. One of the features of Apple Park will be the 1000 seat theater that is at one of the highest points of the campus. In honor of the legacy that Jobs had on the company, the new theater will be called the “Steve Jobs Theater”.

It is not known when Apple Park will open for the public. There is an Apple Store, cafe open to the public, and a visitor’s center. It is likely that Apple will hold a presentation at Apple Park at some point in the year.

If you have a chance to visit Apple Park when it is open, it would be a site to see.

Thoughts on Man in the High Castle

One of the upsides to the way that many shows are released these days is that you are able to consume an entire season/series of a show without having to wait for a new episode to be released every week. One of the downsides to this method is that it is as lot easier to not pick up a show after you have consumed it. For me, this has happened with a few shows.

  • Lilyhammer – stopped after season 1
  • Newsroom – stopped after season 2.
  • The Walking Dead – stopped after season 5.
  • Fear the Walking Dead – stopped after season 1.
  • House of Cards – stopped after season 3, episode 10.
  • Game of Thrones – stopped after season 3.
  • Orange is the New Black – stopped after episode 3.
  • House
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Lost
  • Sopranos

Contrast the list above with the list of TV shows that I have seen in their entirety more than once:

  • West Wing
  • M*A*S*H
  • Life
  • Alcatraz
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
  • Planet Earth

There are likely more shows, but I cannot think of any more at the moment. Given the popularity of the shows above, you would think that I would finish them. However, this has not been the case. So it may be surprising to learn that I have completely finished Season 1 and Season 2 of Amazon’s Man in the High Castle. I have some thoughts and questions about the show.

NOTE: There will be spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

The Background

The series is based on the novel Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick.

Man in the High Castle is an alternate reality story. One that is based on the United States losing World War II. The country was divided up between Germany in the East, with the “Greater Reich” and Japan in the West with the “Pacific States”. There is a neutral zone that stretches between the two regions. This is where a portion of the story takes place, in particular Canon City.

No, Seriously, beyond this is spoiler territory. This is your last chance to turn back

Frank Frink

The story arc of Frank is an interesting one. In the first episode, he insists on bringing Juliana to the Police Station to turn in the film that Trudy had given her, and that she needs to tell them that she’s a loyal citizen. However, by the end of the second season Frank is right in the thick of the resistance, planning and offering to go cause major destruction to the Pacific States headquarters.

Trudy

One of the plots throughout the series is how Juliana is carrying forth what her half-sister Trudy started. Early in the series, Trudy is killed by the Japanese for trying to evade the Kempeitai and for trafficking the films. The last shocker of Season 2 is that Trudy is not actually dead. This bombshell leads to so many questions.

  1. When Juliana’s Mom says that Trudy is not dead, because she can feel that she is not. Was she right?
  2. From the ending of Season 2, it is presume that she is correct that Trudy is not dead.

  3. Did Juliana actually see Trudy in the market?
  4. Again, from the end of the Second Season, it may be that she actually did see Trudy in the market.

Joe Blake

One of the primary characters is Joe Blake. Joe is also one of the first characters introduced. The character of Joe Blake is an interesting one. Joe’s allegiances vary throughout the show. At first he is working for Obergruppenführer John Smith. His first assignment was to bring a shipment of coffee makers to the neutral zone, from New York City. During this long haul, Joe get suspicious and begins looking at the truck and realizes that something does not seem right. So, right from the start, Joe questions his loyalty.

In Episode One, Joe states “I want my country back”, when he getting the job from Mr. Warren, and insists he is not a spy. However, as the series progresses, it turns out that he is indeed working for the Greater Reich. He is a spy for the Greater Reich. It is not entirely clear where his actually allegiances lies.

A fact that comes in Season 2, is that Joe is actually leibensborn, or part of a German program to create a superior race of germans.

The Films

The biggest thread through the series is the films. These films, as one can surmise, show a different world. Some of these films are ones that depict what actually occurred in World War II. Within the Pacific States of America and the Greater Reich, owing a film is considered treasonous and punishable by instant death, as Frank tries to tell Juliana in episode one.

The entire story behind the films is not fully flushed out. The theory is that the Man in the High Castle is the one manufacturing these films, but very little is know about the Man in the High Castle.

The Man in the High Castle indicated that all of the films end up with San Francisco being annihilated by a bomb, except for the one that Julianna gave to Joe Blake, that was subsequently given to Adolf Hitler. It can be presumed that this is the most important film of them all since it may show the only way to not have the entire world destroyed.

Obviously Hitler wants the films destroyed, as is stated in episode one. However, obviously there is a huge cache of them as discovered by Obergruppenfuhrer Smith at the end of Season 2.

The Trade Minister

One of the main Japanese characters is Trade Minister Nobusuke Tagomi. One of the ways that the Japanese divine answers to things, and anticipate what will occur, is through a 5,000 year old book, called the “Oracle”.

You may not understand this. I live by a 5,000 year old book. I ask it questions as if it were alive. It is alive. It tells me you have a purpose. It says superior person in an inferior position, accepting a task graciously brings good fortune to all.

One aspect to Tagomi’s story is that he goes back to the house that he and his deceased wife owned, or would have owned that part is unclear. When he returns his wife is on her way out, and he finds that she has filed for divorce; or one presumes that. As I do not read Japanese I cannot say for sure.

At this point, Tagomi’s story takes us into an alternate reality. Tagomi’s alternate history takes place in the timeline where the United States wins the War. During these sequences he sees his son. In this version, his son marries Juliana, and they have a child. It is presumed that in this timeline that there is a strain within his family. He is still on decent speaking terms with his son, and Juliana, but less so with his wife. With this timeline, I am presuming that he is an alcoholic because his son mentions his father’s “benders”. It is presumed that in this alternate timeline, Tagomi is an alcoholic.

Upon the second viewing, when Tagomi is repairing the broken cup, it symbolizes his attempt to repair his relationship with his family; at least in the alternate timeline. It may seem like a small gesture, but Nori does put it in the baby’s room and allow Tagomi to enter the room and hold his grandchild, so it is a powerful gesture. This, I believe, allows Tagomi to do what comes next.

In this timeline, Juliana is having a get together at Tagomi’s house where they are creating “Ban the Bomb” signs to protest the Nuclear bomb. During this time, she shows a video of a Hydrogen Bomb test that was conducted on the Pacific Atoll. After showing this film, Tagomi tells his wife: “There is something that I must do.” Her reply, “Safe Journey.” Right after this, Tagomi asks Juliana for the film. The following dialog takes place amongst some Cherry Blossoms.

Juliana: “Why do you want this?”
Tagomi: “Proof, that something like this should never happen again.”
Juliana: “I don’t understand.”
Tagomi: “You have all made me happy. Happier than nI have been in a very long time. There are somethings that are more important than happiness. I have duties elsewhere tat I can no longer neglect.”
Juliana: “Are you leaving?”
Tagomi: “We will see each other again. Of that, I am sure.”
Juliana: “Ok, don’t go, I’ll be right back.”

Here is where Juliana begins to leave, she pauses, and when she turns around Tagomi is gone. In the next scene we see Tagomi back at his desk. This is the location where my questions begin.

  1. Was that whole sub-plot just wishful thinking on Tagomi’s part?
  2. We can presume that he thinks of Juliana as a daughter figure, first by providing her a job when she refuses to “perform special tasks” for the general, but through this sub-plot. In particular, when Tagomi tells his son that he is proud to call her his daughter.

  3. Did Tagomi actually travel to the alternative timeline?
  4. It is easy for one to infer that this may be the case, since we see Tagomi back at his desk with the film in hand. Maybe I missed it, but I do not recall him getting this by any other means. At least not that film.

    I have some theories about it all.

The Smiths

Of the entire Smith family, the one character that we are exposed to most is Obergruppenführer John Smith. The Smiths are based in New York City. With the Reich taking over the Eastern United States, it appears that John Smith is the most powerful person in the Reich

The plot with Thomas, which includes Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith, is an intriguing one. In Episode 6 of Season 1, Thomas reveals that he wants to make his country proud, and that there are many places that he would like to go. The statement of wanting to make his country proud. In his eyes, this is exactly what he does at the end of Season 2 in one of the last scenes of the season. In this scene Thomas turns himself into the Greater Reich Hospital because he is a “degenerate” due to his neurological condition.

It should be no surprise that Smith would take the doctor out of the equation, given that there are only three people who actually know of Thomas’ condition. The doctor, Smith, and his wife Helen. The means of which he kills the doctor was one that some could predict. It does show two different sides to Smith. The first being a father that would do anything for his family. Yet, Smith is willing to do what it takes to protect the Reich, and has no problem using people for his own personal reasons, like Joe Blake.

In order to save Thomas, or so they think, John decides to make a ruse and had a letter sent to Thomas indicating that he was picked to go on an expedition. At first Helen is reluctant, since she knows about his condition. She confronts John, at work, and John informs Helen of the entire plan. Ultimately, she decides it is for the best and informs Thomas that he will be going to South America.

Thomas: So you’re letting me go?
Helen: We’re letting you go.

This double meaning has so many implications for the Smiths, and Helen in particular. The way that Helen states it, most would pick up on; but Thomas, both being excited, and only a teenager, does not pick up on the subtly and double-meaning of the sentence.

Even though John Smith is a loyal Senior Officer for the Reich, he disobeys a direct order by acting Chancellor Heusmann and leaves New York to unveil a conspiracy that killed the Crown Prince of Japan a well as Adolf Hitler. Also, he hides all evidence of Thomas’ illness. This includes killing Dr. Adler, as well as confiscating the tapes that implicate that his son has a defect.

It is clear that when John is at the Reich Headquarter in Berlin, and is being praised within the volkshalle for his heroism in saving the Reich, that he is quite uncomfortable. Short of Himmler, John is probably the second most powerful person in the Reich, after Heusmann and his co-conspirtors are removed. This is likely due to his betrayal with his son and hiding his defect.

The Bombing

One of the main plot points is that there is a resistance that is trying to actively work against the Japanese in the Pacific States of America. The bombing happened late in Season 2, and was intended to cause confusion. One question I have is whether Sara and Frank made it out, just like the Inspector Kido managed to. My gut is no, but it would not be surprising if they did, given the unveiling at the end of Season 2. More on this a little later.

Theories

This is my theory on the whole story; thus far anyway. It involves the ability for certain individuals; Those who study the 5000 year old book, and follow what it says, have the ability to enter into, and bring items back with them, from the alternate reality. This theory fits quite well with how the Reich was obsessed with the occult. This would also mean that the Man in the High Castle follows what the 5,000 year old book says as well; hence how he is able to bring Trudy back from the dead. This is similar to how Tagomi can bring the film back with him when he leaves the alternate 1962.

The ability for certain individuals to travel between the timelines is why Hitler wants the films. Given that there are so few individuals who can do this traveling, it is imperative that Hitler gets the films.

This is reaffirmed when Tagomi is talking to Kotomichi, and realizes that Kotomichi is not of the 1962 that exists within the story, but from the alternate 1962. Kotomichi has burns from the bomb dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Furthermore, It is possible that Abendsen is able to travel between the two worlds, at will. This is how he is able to get the films, destroy them whenever he wants, and yet can always end up having more films, even after they are burned.

The films complicate any rational idea behind the storyline. The best theory that I have is that there are multiple simultaneous timelines. The evidence for this is that how the Trade Minister obtains the film with the bomb testing on the atoll. In particular, since he disappeared when Juliana turned around, after giving him the film.

This is further evidenced by the fact that the Trade Minister has the visions of his deceased wife as well as his son. We know that his wife is deceased since Juliana brought it up during one of her meetings with Tagomi.

The idea of being able to bring the films back, may also extend to being able to bring individuals between the two timelines as well. This may be how Abendsen was able to bring show Juliana that Trudy was not in-fact dead. This is how Juliana’s mother felt that Trudy was not dead and why Juliana saw Trudy in the market; because while the “true” 1962 Trudy was indeed dead, the alternate timeline Trudy was brought back.

Season 3 Plot Ideas

I do not think that both Frank and Sara are dead, even though they appear to be so. It is possible that one of them was killed in the blast. If I had to put money on it, it would be that Sarah is dead. However, a more unforeseen option would be to have Sara survive and Frank not.

If Frank is indeed dead, it would not be surprising if Ed and Juliana ended up getting together. This theory is based upon Season 2, Episode 9, where there is the flashback to when Ed first meets Juliana. It is clear that she is flirting, at least to some extent, with Ed while Frank is off getting the glasses.

I think in Season 3, Juliana will learn that she also has the power to travel between the timelines, or at least the existence of the ability to travel between the timelines.

Other Thoughts

  • I love the little touches that show the alternate reality, like “Ranger Reich” instead of Ranger Rick. Along this, the signs like “U-Bahn” for Subway, while within the Greater Reich.
  • While Stephen Root (Milton from Office Space) does a really good job as the Man in the High Castle. If he were still alive I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman would have made an even better Man in the High Castle.
  • Given that the year is 1962, the Concorde is still flying and super fast travel is still attainable. Having the capability of fast travel like that would be nice to have, even today, but only if it were financially practical for people.
  • I do like the quasi refrigerator that the Smiths have. I honestly would not mind having one similar myself.
  • Can I have a few of the cars that are shown in the show?

Final Thoughts

It is not often that I end up watching an entire series of a show. I have now watched the entire series twice and enjoyed it even more the second time around. You may miss things the first time you watch it, but that is typically how things happen when you watch any sort of media.

There are a breadth of characters, both primary characters and secondary characters. It is easy to get lost within the story, which is why it is best to really pay attention to everything. It is too bad that Season 3 will not premiere until the end of 2017. It would be nice to have it sooner, but I like the quality thus far.

If you enjoy alternative-reality stories, then Man in the High Castle would be right up your alley. It may start off slow, but it will be well worth seeing it in the end.