Design Fail

05/10/2013 § Leave a comment

fail

As I get older in my old age I get very short with things. I don’t mean things & people in general, I’ve always gotten short with them, I mean things. Products. And I mean products that anyone might buy, rich or poor, so I’m speaking about products of average quality, or what should be average quality. And I don’t nessessarily mean quality of materials, I’m talking design.

These are failures that happen even after what is supposed to be some pretty extensive quality assurance testing, especially in the tech field. This is the product that causes my current ire:
mytouchThis is a T-Mobile-branded portable USB device recharger, I think the product line is called “MyTouch” or some such nonsense. I had a small Duracell recharger that I got a lot of good use out of, it was Well Designed, but too small, I needed something with more oomph, more amps, man. So the last time I was at my T-Mobile store picking up some screen protectors for my phone I noticed this thing and told the sales droid to put it in with my purchase. Bad descision. It has one major design flaw.

It looks and works great sitting on a desk. I wonder if that’s what the design team on this turkey was going for. Unfortunately that’s not a usefule feature in a PORTABLE CHARGER. The flaw is an obvious one too, I can’t believe this thing went through any quality control, it was probably made in China where I notice no one tasted the baby formula before it was shipped either.

This thing is most useful going with you somewhere out in the wide world. But the designers have thoughtfully added a really great feature; a charge meter, that is ok when you want to know how much charge is left in the thing. Actually, its really only useful for telling you if it has charge or not, I can’t imagine four LED’s can tell you much beyond “yes” or “no” charge in a recharger. I guess knowing that its approxiately half-charged is ok. To activate the meter you press on the top of the case. It doesn’t take much effort either for the pressure of a pocket inseam, netting of a backpack, or papers of a breifcase, to activate the damn thing. ANY PRESSURE ACTIVATES THE METER. Meaning by the time you get around to needing a recharge on the road its already been DEPLETED BY THE CONSTANT ACTIVATION OF THE NEARLY USELESS METER.

Its less than worthless, a portable recharger thats always needing to be recharged. The only way to avoid the constant depletion of this stupid gadget is to leave it alone on your desk at home, encased in acrylic, safe from the harm of the real world. This could easily have been eliminated with the addition of an on/off slide switch, which would prevent the meter button from activating the meter and depleting the charge. Thus I bestow upon the T-Mobile MyTouch USB Portable Charger design fail of the year.

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Tina Fey Hates You (On Twitter)

03/10/2013 § Leave a comment

Tina-tina-fey-2388003-1707-2560Fey at another award ceremony that actors give each other like pez

Not long after the first presidential debate in October 2012, the (now) re-elected President Obama remarked to the press that he was somewhat taken by surprise by the adversarial tone pretender-to-the-throne Mitt Romney had taken with him. It seems that the President had been surrounded by Yes Men (and Women) for so long when some one finally was in a position to tell him “no” he was taken aback. I get that, easy to understand, and the President was of course intelligent enough to recognize this personal failing and snap back. By the next debate he was in top form.

What is the internet but a huge public platform that anyone can have access to? South Korean pop star “Psy” shows us that any no-talent, America-hating hack can suddenly have a flash of pop brilliance and become a sensation. I wonder what Psy thinks of America now?

Tina Fey is a talented comedic writer and actress, no doubt about it. Unfortunately she appears to suffer from the same myopic sickness that the MPAA and the 5 major record labels seem to suffer from; that is, the-cost-of-media-production-is-too-lowitess!!

The cost of mass media prodution in all sectors (film, audio, paper, all transmission, all forms) has dropped like a rock. As well the real price of fame has plummeted. Since the turn of the 20th century the cost of mass media production has fallen making fame well within the means of even the most modest of fame seekers. Before 1900, for centuries, entertainers were not the upper strata of society. In fact, actors, minstrels, dancers, anyone employed in the arts were considered the lowest of the low, pretty much on par with theives & beggars. It really wasn’t until the 18th century when opera was considered (and still is of course) among the highest of performing arts, and playbills advertised the skills of the top divas of the day. As the price of printing (media production) fell the fame of the actor rose, pretty much in direct proportion to the cost. Finally by 1900, with the advent of celluloid and the rise of the fan (or gossip) magazine, we see the emergence of American Royalty, the Movie Star. But media production continued to drop like a rock. Finally, in the 21st century, anyone can create nearly any kind of media unit and get it distributed to everyone for the price of a 6-pack.

It seems Tina Fey doesn’t like that. I noticed her comments on Twitter last month and promptly ignored them, but her arrogance kept nagging at me. Finally, I saw her speak on some peice of news fluff last week and my mind wandered back to that Twitter comment, and I decided I just had to poke the clown with a stick, even as tiny a one as I can manage. Don’t cost nothin’…

What Tina Fey does is certainly worth money to people who are in the business of media production. Some people call it “art”, and some of it certainly is, but unlike a cure for cancer, which either works or it doesn’t, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, making performing art much more subjective. If I have terminal cancer, I will die without a cure. If I lack the funny bone that makes Tina Fey the most amusing and interesting media personality in the world, I will live on to not laugh another day. NOT ONLY THAT but it severly diminishes her worth to me and people like me who don’t find her very amusing.

She is talented, no doubt. But she, along with Gwyneth Paltrow, has that attitude Obama recognized in himself as a flaw, that elitist “something”, only Fey has no idea that its not a good thing. Rather than celebrating those who acheive something good in the mass media industry and the abilbity to access it that low cost has given them, she’d rather throw the baby out with the bath water and see people jump over some kind of bar to get that access. It was a flip comment, to be sure, but its just plainly obvious where Fey’s beliefs are. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even me. I suppose its to the credit of the American Media that when the market takes a tumble becuase another bank was found to have laundered 1.5 billion dollars of drug and terrorist money with the help of the Treasury Depertment they don’t immediately turn to Tina Fey to comment.

Tina, your a valued contributor of the arts and a terrific pop icon. But when it comes to the technological aspects of new media, in the words of Eddie Murphy, go have a coke and a smile and shut the fuck up.

I love that Paltrow doesn’t even seem to be phazed or hurt by the concept that saying bad things about your customers should be frowned upon. I guess even elitist assholes are right twice a day.

The Dating Scene

05/25/2012 § Leave a comment

One day while I was young, I believe just after I entered puberty and had those emerging thoughts of sexuality and relationships, I had an interesting notion; I remember it quite clearly. I was, for whatever bizarre reason, peicing together my future. And, again, for whatever reason, I landed the difficulty between putting together a career, and a life partner to go with it. And, for some bizarre reason, I came to the conclusion that it will be more difficult to find a good job, but that getting married would be a peice of cake and I would be able to share my life with some one until the end of my days. Then I probably ran out to play D&D with my friends or do whatever the hell I did then. It wasn’t until I actually got into the game that I found how increadilby difficult and challenging meeting appropriate potential spouses would be. Maybe that’s me, perhaps I’m ill-eqipped.

My wife died last year, and at the risk of sounding a bit numb I have to say I’m ready to move on. I also turned 49 this year, which leads to a number of interesting problems. Love is deffinately a young person’s game. Our rediculous consumer culture is based on youth. All marketing is directed at the younger market. One of the worst things this culture has done to itself is turn Christmas into a marketing campagin, I think the same could be said of romance. So there are a plethora of websites devoted to connecting singles with each other, plus others specializing in sexual hook-ups, enabling spouses to cheat, and I dunno, I imagine a bunch more I’m not even aware of.

Of special note are the large number of sites specializing in geek matching; ie, those whos specialize in matching people based on interests in technology, gaming, and other nerdly pursuits; They are all universally bad. The user interfaces and layout are bad, I don’t see any thought put to the collation of the information entered by its members, and I see no real effort put into the matching algorithms.

Craiglist, the popular and totally free adlisting board has a number of sections divided by metropolitain area, and I like the way its organized, but it comes in dead last on this list. Regardless of the success stories I’ve heard I have a hard time believing them, the only responses I’ve ever gotten from ads placed there are from professionals, and I’m not in the market for that, so I found the responses highly innapropriate and utterly useless.

Being a topic of particular interest to me right now, I thought I’d list and review the ones I’ve tried, with an eye as a software engineer and a single american-irish male.

  1. OK Cupid.com – Easily the best “free” (as in “free beer”) dating site around. Allows all sexual persuasions but its not adult oriented, as least as far as I could tell. The UI on this is very nice, the site is easy to navigate, and its controls are simple and intuitive enough while still allowing you to search for potential mates using a quite large number of criteria. The matching algorithm involves an index of the answers to a huge number of questions, you can answer as many or as few as you want, but the more you answer obviously the more accurate the matching algorithm will be. I havent met anyone using it yet but I think I will continue to use it, I might even register as a paying user I like it so much.
  2. Match.com – A very good site, but pay. I used this service years ago, interesting to note that its still around. I seem to recall tv ads for it back then. I also recall actually meeting 2 or 3 women through it. It was a good service then, although its gone through some changes. I haven’t been able to use it yet fully, but I went through its new registration process and it looks good. More as I use it.
  3. Plenty Of Fish – ALMOST as good as OK Cupid, and certainly doesn’t have the number of options that the previous does, but it does work in free mode. I don’t believe it will allow all sexual persuasions. I actually met one nice gal on it so far, but no solid relationship material, unfortunately. Perhaps time will tell on that.
  4. OMG POP– interesting site where, supposedly, you can play games for the right to connect up with the member hosting the game, or something. Members can host games in subgroups of up to around 5 players, picking from a fairly large list of games. One of the games is a pretty cool implementation of Draw Something. Honestly, most of my time has been spent playing the games rather than connecting, I don’t know if I’m just not doing something right or if the site is simply useless for the stated goal. I do however enjoy playing the games so I’m rating it fairly high on the list. Interesting concept, I just think they need to make it a little clearer how one actually connects up with the hoster.
  5. eHarmony.com – I remember the charming ads on the TV for this one, but I checked it out and you can do nothing useful without a membership. Grew tired of it quickly.
  6. Video Gamer Perconals,Geek Dating Service,Geek to Geek, many others. These, as another blogger put it, are made of epic fail. All are universally bad, they reek of site mill construction, quickly thrown togther with very little thought put behind them, and are simply worthless. Interestingly I think a geek dating site could be the most lucrative type of site to have. As a geek myself when I landed on the idea of seeking geek dating sites I really figured there would be a plethora of sites to choose from. There are, but they just suck. Some are cute, a site catering to trekkies is some what charming, but still rather terrible in implementation. Others are just weird, there is one I saw that mentioned furries a lot. ~shudder~. Another one uses the google geolocation api, interesting if your fetish is to roll to your date as Dr. Strangelove.
  7. Cupid.com – Last place mention is this one, complete waste of time, all they do is spam you with “letters” from “girls” (bots) who are competly out of your age range.

I’ve also tried a number android apps, none of them appeal to me. They appear to try to pack the functionality of their parent sites into the phone app. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make the phone app a communication extenstion of the parent site? Maybe search and chat funtionality only, a little geo location gimmick as well.

Geek specialty sites are a great idea. If I were to do a site I’d knock off the cute aspects and concentrate on the technology. Twitter feeds, geo location (but not creepy), phone apps specifically tailored to the site, fan convention information, activities, etc. Some of the geek sites do some of these things, but I didn’t see one with any twitter feeds, amazingly enough. Perhaps I’ll code a site. Hmmmm….

Industrial Automtion News

04/25/2012 § 2 Comments

Its been a minute since my last post but I wanted to get something technical in, and as “something” of an insider in IA space I thought I’d bleet about this. The above picture is a PLC control system, a DIN rail mounted “rack” containing an Allen-Bradley (Rockwell Automation) logic controller and some ancillary stuff for communicating with various “things”, usually machines that make products. A production line does things, and the PLC controls that process. They’re vital to industrial processes all over the globe and control everything from baby bottle manufacture to petrolium processing and and the production of nuclear weapons.

There are many manufacturers but the big players are Rockwell Automation, Siemens, & Schnieder Electric, with runners up in Sony, Sanyo, and a host of other shops making specialized controllers, cheaper ones, etc.

The thing about the IA industry, like many, we all know, is it condsiders itself a club. A big, geeky, old boy club. And the price of admission to that club is a distributorship. If you’re an Encompass Partner with Rockwell, for example, you’re riding first class, more or less, on the SS Rockwell, a huge, lumbering, coal-fired, PLC powered steamer for warm waters. Coal-fired? Well, allegory for the way business is done, get it? Its a slow, but huge and powerful ship

Its not always possible to turn that ship on a dime. Why? So when ethernet hit the masses in the 80’s Rockwell et al had already invested their life’s blood in the existing communication infrastructure, which was serial based. That’s right. All digital controllers and their little worker gnome comm devices that were connected to things like vats making rocket fuel and heart medicine were all talking to each other using very simple serial protocols, and they liked it. They liked it just fine. 9600 baud is enough for anyone. It was enough becuase PLCs up to that point used data in very disrete amounts, bits (coils) and words (16 bit). And in real time, if you have a plant going off its hinges and you need to hit that stop button it has to happen lickity split! Right then.

Serial is capable of deterministic states; when a state in a machine changes that state is reported immediately to another machine right away, even at 9600 baud. Of course there are limitations, an RS-232 link can only be so long… plus you have cables all over the goddurn shop floor, or in overhead rails, or wherever you can stuff them. Ethernet had the “problem” of being non-determnistic, the idea behind ethernet is you send off a packet and pay no mind after that; it’ll get there when it gets there and by any means, depending on network load and the disposition of the routers along the way it could get to its destination by 1 of 100 routes, depending on net work topology. That’s no good for a real time system.

But advances where made; real time ethernet systems have been developed, and that argument doesn’t really wash anymore. Plus ethernet has a host of other benefits; built-in redundancy, easily added to and expanded, can travel a much further distance than a serial packet, and it can connect to the internet.

Woah, hold on, connect to the internet, you say? Yep. you can take your process’ data and spit it on to a database, another part of your process in China, all that stuff. Pretty valuable. This transition is still happening, slowly. It was going on when I was still involved in the industry less than a year ago. Its kind of a dark secret that the industry is still using machines and protocols developed when lionel trains were hitting their stride, back in, say, the 50’s? But its understandable; these systems are difficult to manage, and once in place, as long as they’re working, plant managers have no incentive to change them. Upgrades are a hard fight, I would hate to be a IA sales executive. Slow to adopt technology, slow to change. The above picture is an example; this is an Allen Bradley 1756 PLC rack with assorted modules to the right. One of the modules is an ethernet adapter with a gold BNU connector sticking out of the bottom. I got this off of Allen-Bradley’s own website, and its their current, top of the line family. Does ANYONE still use 10-Base-T?

But the internet has changed all that, and its obvious that the industry has to change. One of the effects of being able to deliver real time data to the outside world (a good thing) is that the outside world can get in (a bad thing). If you’re generating electrical power, say, well, what could happen if criminal elements hacked into your infrastructure? PLC’s have minimal security support. They have minimal everything, they’re designed to do what they do and that’s it. But that picture slowly changing. The big players are putting more security in to their products. But then come back to the lowly plant manager. Its often the case that ONE GUY will be the plc guy for that plant. Hopefully that engineer gave the manager the keys to the palace, ’cause if he dies, the plant is screwed. Hopefully there’s a whole army of staffers of one kind of another who store that kind of data carefully and redundantly. Of course, redundantly means its been copied. More people with THE passwords. More vectors of compromise. But still, that’s how we need to go there. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on site to do a commissioning (install the PLC program) and the client wasn’t ready with the keys to the cabinet, or the ip address of the router we needed to assign the PLC, or Jimbo wasn’t there to give us access to the cream hopper the PLC needed to control to make delicious ice cream.

So configurations are left alone as much as possible. Before Jimbo retired he showed Bucky how to turn on the line ‘puter to start production, and that’s all Bucky knows. Don’t start asking him about IP addresses and passcodes and routers. Bucky just knows to pull out the Stop Button. Lack of security is a creeping feature, see?

Point of all this is, why is RuggedCom putting a back door in its controllers? Could be a “feature” to keep the previous scenario from happening. Could be. Could be they’re a Chinese-connected outfit ready to whole-sale harvest a bunch of technology (again) from the US. We did invent this stuff. Process automation is big business and the US is a leader. But not for long if people keep pulling this crap.

UPDATE: RuggedCom has decided to fix their back door issue. Read about the backstory to all this here.

Product Evangelism

03/28/2012 § Leave a comment

Famous grinning poster seen in many parts of the 2nd act of “Full Metal Jacket” is an actual Vietnamese toothpaste ad of the period.

I think I would be good at evangelism. I’ve seen ads from companies asking for people to fill these roles from time to time, and I’ve ignored them, chiefly because I don’t really see myself as a marketer, and product evangelism is a form of marketing, really.

But I’ve been re-thinking that logic over the last few days. I’m not so sure that handshaking and deal making is my forte, but I think being a technology booster might be. I get excited about technology and enjoy talking about it. Could I walk into a Strength Through Technology rally and get people nuts over a particular product? I don’t know, never done it. I see myself as being willing to try it though. I think writing about it is one of my strengths, certainly. I’ve done that to a small extent having written manuals and some marketing literature from a technical perspective, this was for a number of industrial automation products in the past. It’s certainly something I think I’d like to try.

Steve Jobs was the most notable and probably the most successful evangelist ever. It helps to be a founding member of the company, sure. But all that does I think is strengthen the belief he had in his product. You have to admire the guy, he brought a subtle sense of style to the Apple product line. Before he re-joined Apple one of their most innovative products was the Newton PDA. I had a chance to play with it, and it was a pretty nifty machine, one of the more remarkable features of the Newton was its handwriting recognition. It actually worked for me, although I know it was roundly mocked in the media. It was cancelled a little over a year after it was introduced. Two years after the Newton was cancelled and Jobs rejoined the company the first iPod was introduced. Although a rather different function; audio media playback only, it featured a smaller, sleeker design and and a slick ad campaign that has typified Apple’s marketing since. That was Jobs.

Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. I wouldn’t deign to suppose I could be a visionary on that level, but that’s certainly a model to aspire to. Every successful technology has some aspect that makes it interesting, otherwise it wouldn’t be successful. I think the trick is getting everyone excited about it. A good evangelist finds ways of achieving that goal. That’s a challenging goal, and one that interests me.

Into the Valley of the Shadow of Google

03/16/2012 § Leave a comment

Unless you hang under a rock you’ve no doubt noticed the higher volume of chatter regarding privacy, and Google. The deal you make with Google is in return for more relavant hits that line up with your search terms Google promises to track your use of the web and any personal information it can glean from it including your spending habits, lifestyle, anything about you it deems marketable.

Although consciousnessly aware of this faustian bargain I implicately have made with the search giant, I’ve gone ahead and used Google to find the information I needed. It was (and probably still is) the best way to find anything on the net. I’m starting to be more and more aware of the eyes over my shoulder however and as a consequence I’ve started using duckduckgo more and more.

One of the things that has changed in the world of marketing with the tech age has been an dramatic access to a new wealth of tools for analyzing user habits. These unabtrusive technolgies have really put the advertiser in the driver’s seat without putting an actual physical poll taker anywhere near the subject. I put Google first and formost on top of this cable of marketing spys however; it still stands behind its philosphy although I think there’s a real perception problem out among the unwashed masses. I feel for a company like Google in some ways, its difficult to do something well without getting back some measure of the effect your methods are having your target. I will not however exchange understanding for acceptance. There are alternative methods for gathering the data a marketer needs to understand and improve the process. No, I’m not going to research and list the alternatives, I’m not a marketer, and I don’t do that kind of work. I just know they exist.

With Google and its war chest its plainly obvious that if you want to be a successful online marketer it would pay to create the tools Google wants. If you’re like me and not interested in participating in helping the cabal swap your own personal information with each other like a used car though, there are some things you can do to make life much more difficult for them.

Be sure to install the tools listed here (scroll to the bottom of the page.) Most have plugins for the more popular browsers.

I particularly like Ghostery, its highly effective agianst javascripts and can block the entire domain they are served from. For main domain hosted scripts you’ll need to rely on NoScript. Ghostery also provides links on the domains it blocks that lead to information in the outfit whose script its blocking. Here’s some of the more egregious offenders by domain:

  • scorecardresearch.com – Full Circle Studies is a market research company that studies Internet trends and behavior. They work in conjunction with distributors and content providers to develop an anonymous, census-level analysis of Internet usage. Using data gleaned from its content provider partnerships Full Circle Studies constructs a census type view of visits to that website, which it uses to develop an understanding of broader Internet usage patterns.
  • effectivemeasure.net – Effective Measure is a web analytics company that provides data about visitors to a website. Their patent-pending Digital Helix technology addresses cookie deletion issues and unique visitor audience calculations. This allows advertisers and publishers to define and measure audience numbers accurately without duplication, and track data points over a specific time period.
  • pro-market.net – Datonics (formerly Almondnet) is an aggregator and distributor proprietary behavioral purchase intent, life-stage and demographic data. Datonics’ provides custom keyword-based segments to facilitate the delivery ads to online consumers.
  • media6degrees.com – Media6Degrees is a socially targeted advertising company. Powered by social media, they customize audience segments for advertisers, through social graph data gathered across social media platforms. Media6Degrees provides marketers with ad targeted delivery inside and outside of social media sites.
  • bkrtx.com – BlueKai operates an auction based, online data exchange. Unlike ad networks, BlueKai does not sell ads or impressions but provides on-demand data to networks, ad exchanges, agencies, creative optimizers, demand and sell-side platforms. Marketers and networks utilize BlueKai’s aggregate shopping and research data to improve ad targeting, while publishers can earn revenue as intent data providers. BlueKai partners with data solution companies including datalogix, TARGUSinfo, Experian, Bizo, Nielsen, Acxiom, and Polk to aggregate a large source of high performance intent data.
  • exelator.com – eXelate Media provides a marketplace for publishers to sell their anonymous data to advertisers for ad targeting. Aggregate data is sold to advertisers through its exchange and affiliate partnerships with ad networks and publishers.
  • cpxintereactive.com – CPX Interactive is a global marketing company. They provide advertisers and publishers reach, content and premium networks. They ensure advertiser success while monetizing 100 percent of publisher premium to remnant inventory. (What does that even MEAN???)

All of these services are delivered by external javascripts which connect and deliver usage metrics to the domains they originate from. With what I consider to be minor variances they all swap your personal information around like merchants at an oasis bazaar. While I was pondering how Ghostery worked I thought how nice it would be to simply put a list of domains I didn’t feel like snooping around my browsing in something that would block them. Well, that’s easily accompilished. Linux has a host of firewalls, I think ipchains is installed by default on many distros. But for this task a firewall configuration is a little bit overkill. I was thinking of something a little less overbearing to give me control of the domains that get connected with the requests I send out to search engines. So while looking at my systems tools I noticed MintNanny. Although not to be confused with Net Nanny, which is similar but a pay service, MintNanny can be used to peform the exact function I was looking for. And its fantastically easy to use. I’ve configured it to block this list of domains.

I probably sound like I’m wearing a tinfoil hat. But as an exercise fire up wireshark some time and take a look at the information flowing between you and google, or any other web service. The sheer amount of chatter is astounding. So if this growing concern is eating at you, one option is to simply stop them in their tracks.

New Face of Evil?

03/12/2012 § Leave a comment

The Dark Lord of Design looks over customersImperial Governor Ive (center) looks out over his customers with two high ranking storm troopers from the bridge of Apple Death Star San Francisco

Although I’ve strayed, I don’t use Apple products as a general rule. I broke down last year and bought a MacBook Pro though, as I needed a machine more powerful than my trusty but slightly underpowered Gateway-branded Asus net book; I had a need to run some very heavy-weight programming software from Rockwell Automation and some games I like, which meant running Windows. So I settled for the Mac. It was the most bang for the buck in the store. 2.2 GHz dual-core i5 processor with the ability to over clock (or more like step up) itself to almost 3 GHz, and 4 Gigs of ram, it was the best I was going to do. I was shown a lap top that was rated at over 3 GHz, but it was bulky and I’m a real nut about weight and space, and the Mac was much sleeker and lighter.

Well, I regret that decision now. Later in the year the excellent line of Acer S5 ultrabooks were introduced, and I even found a different ultrabook (make escapes me) that featured an i7 processor running at 1.7 GHz. Plenty of power for what I needed. I thought briefly about a MacBook Air, but I didn’t like that you can’t replace the SSD, apparently its some sort of static assembly within the Air.

But I needed a machine right then, so I walked off with a BRAND NEW, not a refurb, MacBook Pro. And it worked great, for about 6 months. Then the power supply self-destructed. I’ve since removed the HD and recovered my more important files, but seriously? After 6 months?

Before that incident hailing my first and last little fling with Mac products of any kind, I steered clear of Apple for a history of reasons; my first issue was the cost. I would loved to have gotten a Macintosh II personal computer when they came out in the mid 80s, but couldn’t afford the steep price. The Atari ST was a much better deal and one could get a dandy C compiler for it, something called Laser C. I loved that set up. Then the iPod came out, which I ignored for a long time becuase I already had a PMP, a Creative Nomad II, which worked fine. Then Bluetooth came out, and I knew I had to have it. Earphones without a cord seemed like a revelation to me. but the iPod wasn’t getting bluetooth anytime soon. Still, to this day, if you try to listen to audio output via A2DP you’ll get nothing. You have to buy an external USB bluetooth adapter and stack to get hi-fi audio output from your MacBook Pro.

I actually found an inter-company memo, supposedly from the Steve himself, on the net somewhere saying to the effect that “we make too much on third party licensing to build the iPod with bluetooth”, but I don’t have a url for that. Later my live-in girlfriend at the time bought a Macintosh, and I tried to learn the API but didn’t get very far. The tools I found were some Pascal tool chain from the same people that later become Code Warrior, and it just didn’t feel right, and I stopped bothering with it. I didn’t much care for the “love” I was feeling from Apple with regard to their customers, developers, products, the whole schmear. So I never really bothered with any of their offerings after that, until the MacBook Pro.

I suppose I should simply send take it to the nearest Apple Genius Bar and see what they have to say about fixing it. But its not like I dont have a life, so it sits under my desk

In the article I swiped that pic up top from, Apple’s Sr. VP of Industrial Desgin Jonathan Ive discusses his design philosphy. Its boils down to being a collaborative effort.

Wow, there’s a revalation. I’ve been in many organizations during my career. Mavericks who aren’t successful at being a maverick are quickly shown the door. EVERY effort I’ve been involved in where I wasn’t a contractor was certainly a team one. Apple’s enlightned “new” approach to working with design resources isn’t new, its simply logical. What they did have was the Steve himself, and for whatever I might think about the man there’s no denying that he had a different approach to product design and marketing.

Now that the Steve is gone after building a up a mighty empire by carefully choosing what technology goes into the company’s products, can Apple continue to be dominant? Jobs obviously had very tight control over all the aspects of product delevopment. He had total control over the direction of the company. Now that he’s gone it will be interesting to see where Apple goes next.

But I’m still not buying any more of their products.

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