Category Archives: Mac

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The only Un-Apple, Apple Experience

Is their retail stores. Well at least mostly. If you want an iPhone case, know what you want and where it is, it actually is a very very Apple like experience. But god forbid you take your shiny Macbook Pro in to the genius bar….

Here begins my tale of frustration and rejection.

Last week I had business down in Tech Center, so since I was gonna be down there I booked an appointment with the Park Meadows Apple store because well look at the screen shot.

I’m a little over a month from my Apple Care Warranty expiring and clearly my battery isn’t working right. Figured I’d scoot in and get a new battery installed.

I made my appointment online, easy peasy. Showed up 20 minutes before my alotted time.

Chased a blue shirt down to check in. “Go stand around over there” Ok cool.

Another blue shirt comes up, “You can grab the spot at the bar you should be coming up soon” Ok cool. I set my laptop down on the bar and sit.

And sit. And Sit. The Genius 1.5 feet from me wraps up his customer. Rather than look to the unattended customer sitting patiently at the bar, he walks around the bar away from me and whispers my name. At least I think he does. By the time I hear what I think is my name, another schmoe has claimed the space, sat down and started talking. I could be a dick and butt in but since I wasn’t 100% sure I didn’t.

I wait. And wait. And wait. 30 minutes later I flag a blue shirt down “Can we make sure I’m in the queue and didn’t get skipped?” Of course.

“Oh looks like your appointment was started and wrapped up. Someone marked it as ended. But you haven’t even been helped?” Nope.

To their credit they scrambled around to find a Mac genius to help me. Oh at first my guy asked another guy for help on the situation, his answer was I needed to make a new appointment… WTF. Thankfully my Blueshirt didn’t take that answer.

Unfortunately the timing of my appointment coincided with wide spread reports of Mountain Lion being a battery drain on laptops. Maybe it is, but my issue pre-dated that, and since the batteries health and capacity weren’t 100% you’d think it would be treated differently. You (and I) would be wrong. My genius preceeded to tell me to wait for 10.8.1 When i asked if once the “fix” was released and my issue was still there I’d be allowed a replacement battery her answer was, “you should buy the Apple Care Extended for $350”

2 hours of my life I’m not getting back. Thanks Genius Bar.

So, that said, Yeah I think the system is broken, but there’s so many easy fixes.

  • Leverage those fancy big displays above the genius bar to show the queue and who’s next. Dont’ walk around, let us come to you.
  • Be loud when calling names? Whispering “John Wilker” in an apple store is like not speaking at all. Shout my name
  • Give me an damn pager device like a restaurant to summon me to the bar. Heck make it Apple, and use an iPhone or something.
  • Use the fancy apple store app, which knows i have an appointment as said page and have it notify me when my turn has come.
  • This one is least likely but would be most well received I think. Have two Genius bars. one for muggles and one for everyone else. I saw 2 sticky iphone buttons. 1 “how to i migrate from this busted iMac to this more busted macbook” and 2 “What’s iPhoto”

I love Apple and most everything they do, but it’s apalling that they’ve revolutionized; computing, movies, TV, books (meh I use my Kindle), etc, but simple queue management in a help desk setting is so broke as to make me wanna start murderin’

So yeah. My monday sucked, and what’s best I get to look forward to doing it again since I didn’t get a new battery. I hope Apple “fixes” the issue fast.

Why I moved to Mail.app

I’ve been reading the news and opinions about Sparrow’s acquisition (good for them!) It’s funny how these cycles go, and it’s almost always the same.

First is the news of the acquisition and almost always death of the much loved product.

Then there’s the “OMFG I Hate them, they sold out

Then there’s the “You entitled pricks are pricks and aren’t owed shit

Then there’s the  “We aren’t owed things, but there is a sort of unspoken contract

I think all three are valid. Some folks just felt mad they paid money (whether the amount is significant or not is in the eye of the spender) for abandon-ware. Some  like to take the enlightened I’m-smarter-than-you approach and some like the look at things objectively. Each has it’s merits.

This is an interesting post as well on the subject, especially on the topic of money.

My initial reaction (as tweeted) was good for them, bad for me. I loved sparrow. I bought it. I bought the iOS version, though without push I never used it. I bought it because I think the only opinion that matters is my wallet. I bought it to show the developers that I supported them. Maybe that kept the lights on 10 minutes, who knows, but I’d guess the volume of us showing our support kept the lights on a lot longer. I also bought both versions because I wanted to support and encourage updates. I was ready to buy the iPad version as well.

It’s that last point that’s the reason I moved to mail.app. As someone said to me, Sparrow works just fine as is. Yes, yes it does. But why invest another minute of my time on something that will become more and more outdated? That’s why I stopped using tweetie. It was fine, but slowly got left behind in features. Why would any user of any product (ok, except cars) want to continue to use a product that is done with, dead. Yeah it’s fine now, it’ll be fine in six months. If you want nothing more than what sparrow does right now, you’re fine, use it for 10 years. If you want new features, like push in the iOS apps, the teased  iPad app, dropbox integration, etc you’re out of luck. What it is today is what it will always be. Enjoy

Do I hate the sparrow team? no I envy them, I’m happy for their success. If someone came to me and offered me a bag or two of money, I’d take it, we’re all lying if we say we wouldn’t. Am I bummed I didn’t get more mileage out of my spend? Yes, very much so. I agree and disagree with Matt that for $10 bucks or whatever Sparrow cost, you have no right to be mad. Money is money, i’d have paid $30 for sparrow. They set the price, so really what I paid is what they wanted. It’s a slippery slope argument about some mysterious point at which the amount you spent on a product entitles you to an opinion.

Whether it’s $10 or $50 every spend means something, every spend has an opportunity cost, I could have supported another indie developer with that money.

 

I liked Rian’s post because really that’s why I buy most of my software. Two things come into play. Is it good or can I use it? and does it support an indie developer. If both answers are yes, I buy it, shoot, even if the first answer is no, I buy it. I’ve spent a good chunk of money on apps I’ll never use because the purchase supported an indie developer. So in that respect it feels on a not-conscious level like a betrayal of my support. I supported you with my money, because you’r indie and rocking it and not only do you get acquired, but you let the acquirer kill the product that everyone loved and supported you by purchasing. It’s kind of a chicken an egg thing. Sparrow wouldn’t have been acquired if the app sucked and didn’t do well. If the app sucked and didn’t do well none of us would have bought it. The didn’t suck, and did do well, and made sparrow an attractive acquisition.

 

So yeah. Good for Sparrow, they made a great app and someone rewarded that by acquiring them. Bummer for those of us that voted with our wallets and supported Sparrow because it was awesome and had tons of potential, and now we’re left with no future updates, and a few unfulfilled promises.

Oh yeah and the reason i moved to mail.app…. I know the odds of it becoming abandon-ware are next to nil, and it’s always going to get some improvements, even if only incremental.

Startups, who’s in to be Apple?

Like most of Nerd America I started Reading the Steve Jobs Biography last night. I got in some good reading at the gym this morning and started thinking. I haven’t made it to the Apple years yet, but as I was reading it, thinking about Apple, about Jobs, startups and about death, a notion started forming.

Who’s going to step up and be Apple? Heck, where are our Hewlett and Packard? Our Michael Dell?  Bill Gates?

I work in a space with a fair amount of startups, and being so close to Boulder I hear about a lot more of them, and of course I’m in the Silicon Valley for events a fair bit too, and of course I follow my friend Eric Norlin. So I’m not uninformed when it comes to startups.

I know there’s awesome startups out there doing cool things (like Bloom). I work in the same building as one. But in looking at them and at most other startups, I wonder, who’s solving tomorrow’s problems? Who’s working on making the next big thing? NOT the next thing for AOL or Google to acquire. It seems that most startups are starting to be bought by someone, existing more than 5 years isn’t in the plans. That certainly is the exit that makes the most financial sense for their backers, and the founders even. I wonder sometimes if our VC and Angel worlds are so wrapped up in ‘quick bucks’ and early exits, that they’re encouraging young founders to not focus on building companies that can or will be around 20 or 30 years. Let alone build companies that are focused on tomorrow’s problems. Sure messy contacts, old school comic readers, and lack of robot balls are problems worth solving, that’s not my point. My point is there should be a balance, and I don’t see it.

Looking at Techstars and Ycombinator I see awesome companies making cool things like gMail plugins and robot balls with LEDs in them, and new takes on training sites, sites about treating musicians like stock, and such. But I wonder will any of them exist in 5-10 years? I suspect not. They’ll either have folded up and moved on, or been absorbed into some other larger thing. And that’s ok in it’s own right, but where does that leave us? The Country of Dell and HP and Apple and Microsoft? I feel like it leaves us with a sad lack of innovative long term tech companies. VCs are bitching about immigration policy not letting tech founders into the country in high enough numbers. I’d argue the gov’t should be looking at these VCs and asking where the companies that will lead innovation are and why they aren’t helping build them? I’d be thrilled to let the next Bill Gates in on a Startup Visa, but not if he plans to simply build something he can sell to Microsoft for a quick buck.

I know in startup circles and no doubt in VC circles getting acquired is a win. In my book it isn’t. I remember sitting around beers with some friends talking about a company in Boulder that was bought before it even left private beta. To me that was a fail. Sure they made out like bandits, everyone got paid. But they were barely a business, they had maybe a few customers, maybe a few hundred, but they were beta testers not paying customers. I suspect that’s why I’m drawn towards brick and mortar style businesses. Conferences, coworking, etc. Because those businesses are immune or less politely often excluded from the hub bub of tech investing. Therefore for the most part they require bootstrapping which it seems so many startups can’t or won’t do. I’ve seen ideas live and die based on acceptance to Techstars. While I have no doubt Brad Feld and co. know a winner or at least a good horse when they see it, I’m sure they’d agree they can’t see all the winners (or losers) all the time.

That kinda brings this all back around for me. I’ve never asked for money or (at least yet) taken out a bank loan for 360|Conferences or Uncubed. I live and die by what I can do on my own (or with partners as the case may be). In both cases i think to myself often, are these businesses that will be around in 10 years? Can they be a legacy, can I actually do something good with them? I think both can. I don’t know if either will, but I think both can, and I’m happy to try and find out. I think both started for the right reasons. Trying to change systems that exist, for the better of the communities they exist in,  which to me is the right reason to start a business. Will I get rich? be acquired by someone? Probably not on both counts, but that’s ok because that wasn’t and isn’t my motivator. I like money don’t get me wrong :) I want to live a comfortable life, but that’s the extent of it. I don’t need to make something someone else wants to buy so I can pay back investors and retire at 35.

I wonder if startup founders go to bed at night thinking about the future. Not the future where they get bought, where tech crunch writes them up and they secure yet another round of funding. A future where they employ thousands. A future where they and their product/service are shaping lives. A future where they make a difference for more than a year. Sure payroll next month is important, press is important I’m not discounting that, but if they’re not thinking about 10 years from now, I’d say they’re doing it at least a little wrong.

 

What I hope to see at WWDC

Blah blah, i know it’s that season (I think I said this last year too) but I was thinking about Devin’s post about possible retail store products for their 10th anniversary and figured I’d throw out my best guesses for the WWDC keynote. Not retail store product options, Devin covered those as well as I could. But really honest to goodness possible products.

The rumor mills are going nuts over the iPhone 4s-5-superDuper, so who knows, and I’m not gonna bother speculating there.

But what about Apps for AppleTV? We know it’s running some type of iOS, why not a subset of the full app catalog for media apps? Hulu? CBS? HBO GO, etc. How awesome to integrate an app store model into the AppleTV. Heck, with a magic trackpad paired, even iOS games could be viable.

 

Or maybe iPod Nano Touch 2nd Gen? I love my iWatch, and I’d love even more for it to do more, though I hope a camera is not one of those things. Cameras are like netflix apps, every device has 2 or 3.

Maybe take a queue from the metawatch movement? If anyone could make it a clean user experience it’s Apple. Why not have my watch show me the SMS that just came in, or my most recent push notifications? I’d love to glance down and see where certain friends are without pulling my phone out of my pocket.

Maybe even an SDK for basic apps? watch faces? etc. That’d be awesome.

This is a bit out there, at least this year. But, SSD only laptops. No optical drive, either 2 drives used separately, boot to the SSD, store data on the HDD, or 2 SSD’s in a RAID array. I’m running the former configuration right now in my Macbook and love it. Booting into Lion…erp Rawrdacted sorry, is cake. Certain features in that OS really really benefit from having an SSD as boot drive, and with the Mac App Store, who needs DVD drives anymore? Even OS X is distributed through it, and new machines can have the OS recovery on a USB drive like the Macbook Air. So why not use that space for something else? Something better.

 

That’s it, pretty simple, nothing too pie int he sky. Ok maybe the iWatch part, but I can hope, everything is in the realm of the possible, maybe not this year but next or the one after.

What do you think we’ll see at WWDC in a few weeks?

Dear Google and Motorola, you’re doing it wrong

My friend Justin tweeted this and it really called out something I had noticed the first time I saw the Moto Xoom commercial. Motorola (and by extension Google) are doing advertising WRONG.

Below are the commercials for the Xoom, and the iPad. Notice anything? Motorola spends their time with spaceships, and flashy weirdness, some dude looking around the cockpit of a space pod, talking about technology specs (as a geek this appeals to me, but I’m the minority. I don’t need an ad to decide to buy something) and showing perhaps, 10 seconds of actual device screen, and most of that is a game. I get that the commercial is aimed at showing the game playability of the Xoom. Great, that commercial should be 3-4 down the line. Establish the device as usable first, then highlight game play (if you have to)

Now look at the iPad commercial.

Notice anything? It spends the entire time with nothing but the device. The hands belong to someone, but we don’t need to see him, nor do we need to see him approach the chair, look bewildered about the iPad just sitting on the chair unattended and then sit down, look around some more, be amazed at the quality of the chair’s leather, appreciate the stitching, etc, etc. We see hands using the iPad to do a number of things. Not one thing, many. Sure IMO they’re mostly stupid things I almost never do on my iPad, but the point is, they show how to use the iPad.

Motorola, fire your ad firm. Hire someone who’s at least used an iPad, and hopefully someone who’s used a Xoom. I know there isn’t a lot of apps made just for the xoom, that’s fine, the iPad commercial focuses on all built in apps. Sure later ones have focused on third party apps, but launch commercials are just the apps Apple shipped it with. Surely there’re enough built in honeycomb apps to make a 30 second commercial. Heck look at Apple. Photo viewer, video player, maps, calendar, etc. Nothing crazy, nothing flashy or “OMG THAT APP IS ON A TABLET!!!!” just everyday use apps.

 

I almost wonder if Motorola hired the same firm HP did with the pre commercials? I’m sure some ad wonk Don Draper wannabe will explain the ad is less about the device and more about the futuristic feel of it, or some ad wonk bullshit. That’s not what sells things in 2011. Maybe it did in the 70s and 80s when consumers (no offense mom and dad) were a bit more stupid and easily confused, but that’s not how it works now. LEARN OR DIE.

 

The Wrist, Valuable Realestate

I was reading this article the other day, and it pretty much jived with my review(one and two) of the ‘iWatch’

There’s plenty of “I just use my iPhone, why would i want a watch?” people, and that’s fine, as with all things, it takes all kinds. I have a nice large watch box, full of nice analog and digital watches, and now my iWatch. I’ll probably wear watches forever, or I should say, something on my wrist.

 

I’ve joked with friends, but from the moment i got my first iPod Touch, I’ve been on the look out for something that would make it wearable on a wrist. iOS doesn’t really lend itself (sadly!) to landscape orientation, but android (mostly) does. I wouldn’t care that I’d invite being beaten up.

I hate talking on my phone, I dread it. I’ve thought, and still do about ditching my iPhone, getting an iPod Touch, and just having a blackberry or android phone. I really want a multi purpose computer, that’s easily accessible, always on me, etc.

A watch, or watch like device is the perfect thing. Easy to type on (though obviously not a replacement for a phone if you’re a lotsa email, texting type of person, but for firing off a quick “Im here” sms, etc.

I think the first step will be a connected watch type thing. As mentioned in the article, a watch that lets you accept/decline phone calls, shows your calendar, etc. Either from a connected device from Bluetooth, or with it’s own connection to the internet.

But I do think eventually we’ll have a device, the size of an iPhone or so, that fits comfortably on a wrist, has a camera for facetiming/skyping, etc. I’ll be glad when that time comes. I’d love to not worry about where I sat my phone down? Did I leave it at the bar, or at home? etc.

A device like this, if it’s where my watch would be, becomes less a gadget and more a part of my life, something I grab when I’m getting dressed.

 

Can’t wait!

iWatch Review Part two: The Lunatik

I’ve already reviewed the iPod Nano as a watch, this review is an addition to that. Primarily for the Lunatik, watch enclosure. Or “Multi touch watch” as they call it.I got in on this awesome kickstarter project very early, well before they even met their minimum funding level. You can get more info at the new site, and actually purchase this awesome kit.

This kit pretty much takes the “iPod on a watch strap” and makes it iWatch. It’s likely the iPod will never leave this enclosure except possibly if it does and needs to be replaced.

This is now a watch. Which rocks!

now if Apple would just release an SDK, so folks can create awesome watch sized content I’ll be happy.

Pros

Much safer than being clipped to a band.

More watch-like so it can be in my collection of watches

Essentially stops being an iPod and is a multimedia capable watch

Very adjustable strap

Cons

The band is very prone to getting dirty. I’m hoping that as the silicone material of the band ages a little and gets worn, it’ll stop attracting so much dirt and dust. If not I’ll be looking for an alternate strap. Maybe my previous strap, though it’s not wide enough really.

This isn’t a surprise, but it’s still a pretty bulky watch. It’s a trade off for sure, I’m less worried about my iWatch getting busted by an accidental wall bash, but now it’s a very visible part of my wrist.

All in all I really like the LunaTik, and would recommend it to anyone looking to watch-ify the iPod Nano Touch.

I will say that at the gym I’m much less worried about yanking my headphone cord now, which happened a few times, and took the iPod off the strap and sent it flying. Not sure which is better but the iWatch is definitely gym ready in all that aircraft grade aluminum.

Dear Apple,

I’d love some apps for this. Not all of course, not the full app store experience, but still. my fitness app would rock, a slim down interface for rep counting, Alternate watch faces, etc.

Without Wifi (maybe a dongle? or future version) there’s a lot that would be pointless or require a sync to accomplish but still, it’d be nice!