» Apple: falling from grace or rising to greatness?

Boy Genius Report has taken an interesting two-sided stance following the announcement of Apple’s iPhone 4S. One side contends that Apple is falling out of favor with both consumers and investors while the other believes that Apple has truly hit another home run.

Generally, I agree with the “rise to greatness” sentiment. In fact, one particular point that sticks out being that Macs do not receive an annual design refresh and there is no reason to expect the iPhone will be any different. I hadn’t really taken this into consideration and being that the iPhone 3GS did not include a design refresh, it makes sense that the fifth generation iPhone  would also not include a design refresh.

However, the “fall from grace” opinion is where I start to take issue. For example, Zach Epstein for BGR writes:

Apple was a company that could do no wrong. Phones that dropped every other call…

Any issue with calls dropping has more to do with the carrier that you are forced to use than with the actual phone itself. I’ve heard no complaints of such issues with Verizon users where call quality is far above what AT&T is able to deliver.

Location tracking scandals… Antennagate… A week or even a day later, all was forgiven and Apple would continue on its path.

Both of these scandals were only forgiven once Apple collected all of the facts concerning the issue that was reported after which Apple issued a statement that instilled confidence in consumers and investors. Both of these scandals were, in this writer’s opinion, blown out of proportion and were only so explosive due to Apple’s media attraction. Apple is likely the most scrutinized company in consumer electronics and if there was still a problem, you can be certain that the internet would be ablaze with page view-driving link bait.

The piece has several other points that are just as senseless, read on for my take…

Continue reading “» Apple: falling from grace or rising to greatness?”

» Year in review: 2008

2008 was a pretty busy year — a lot of things happened that made it quite a ride. I thought I would take a moment to go over some of the more notable events that have occurred in the last 366 days.

UPDATE: It took me almost three months to realize that last year was a leap year. My apologies to 02/29!

Continue reading “» Year in review: 2008”

» iTunes 8 and the ridiculous hardware requirements

I knew Apple hated you if your hardware was old, but I didn’t think iTunes hated you too!  Apparently, if you want to watch HD TV shows using iTunes you are going to need at least a 2.0ghz Core 2 Duo processor.  Now I don’t know about you, but 2 of my 3 Macs (purchased within the last 2 years) do not meet this requirement.  And to be perfectly honest, I’m a little offended!  One of the two is a 2-year old MacBook PRO.  The Applecare hasn’t even expired on that bad boy and already I need to upgrade if I want to watch HD on it.  Wow.

I plan on doing some further testing of this to verify, hopefully the dire warning is all smoke and mirrors.  If there is a true limit I may need to go ape on somebody’s face.

UPDATE: News of iTunes 8 ridiculous hardware requirements were greatly exaggerated.  I tested HD TV shows on a 1.83ghz Core 2 Duo Mac mini and a 2.0ghz Core Duo MacBook Pro and in both cases the episode played without issues.

» Green Plug, a really good idea

Green Plug featured here and here is a new technology from the up and coming startup of the same name.  It’s mantra “One Plug. One Planet.” is indicative of the eco-friendliness on which the company is found.  Green Plug wants to change the way consumers and manufacturers think about AC adapters, batteries, and basically things that plug into the wall.  

The general idea is that all devices will use a truly universal AC adapter and that this will cut down on waste.  Green Plug takes this idea further by making their plugs “smart”.  Essentially, a Green Plug would feature an LCD status display and when paired with a compatible device provide information about the charge status.  Further, because the Green Plug-enabled device would also be “smart” the Green Plug would cut the flow of power when the battery was fully charged and thus resulting in a reduction of power usage.

Currently there is a movement to standardize mini-USB as a power plug for many devices.  An unfortunate limitation of this tech is that USB simply cannot handle the load required by most devices larger than a cell phone.  Green Plug-enabled devices would be able to notify the Green Plug of its specific power requirements and in this way it is more intelligent and more capable than the USB-powered counterparts.

Green Plug is versatile and wants to be integrated into hubs, shops, offices and even homes.  Aftermarket AC adapter providers like Targus could use Green Plug to create hubs capable of powering multiple devices at a time.  The LCD read-out would provide status information for each connected device.  Retail locations and offices could implement Green Plug to save energy and allow anyone with a Green Plug device to sip some juice from the power grid.

A big benefit that seems to be over-looked is integration with Smart Grid technology.  Smart Grid is an idea being implemented by many major power companies to provide transparency to end-users regarding real-time pricing and usage of power.  In other words, Smart Grid aims to have a household’s appliances use more power when the price of electricity is low and use less power when the price of electricity is high.  Green Plug is smart too and could be integrated with Smart Grid to reduce load based on the information provided by the user’s power company.  Some devices can be charged less quickly by limiting the amount of power that is provided.  In this way it would be possible to charge a device and specify whether charging speed or energy savings are a priority.

While Green Plug has a lot to over come it has the right idea with its focus on energy savings and universal access for the end-user.  Green Plug’s Earth first principles have come at a great time when energy prices are constantly on the rise.

» Day 2 – some small fixes and more info

Utilizing my EXTREMELY limited (non-existent) knowledge of PHP I managed to create a Page.php template separate from the Articles.php template. This resolved one of my issues with this theme – specifically, since there was not previously a Pages.php template my About and Contacts pages were simply using the posts template – not attractive.

I also dugg into the CSS a little bit and changed a few colors around to suit my liking. While I was doing that I discovered some sidebar stuff that could (possibly) be tweaked to make it (and my search widget) less ugly. I know a TINY bit more CSS than I do PHP so I stumbled my way through rather than commenting-out random lines and crossing my fingers.

Here are some details about the site that might interest anyone who is curious… Since I am not financially capable (broke) I cannot currently afford paying someone else to host the site. It’s another monthly bill and I would rather buy a house. That being said I am hosting the site on my Mac mini using my business DSL line. Until I get a domain set up I’m using the free and awesome dynamic DNS service. It is particularly nice because for OS X there is a dashboard widget that updates dynDNS of your IP address.

I know you’re probably thinking “oh crap, if three or more people are on this site it’s going to crash” – well, you’re probably right. Actually, I have more faith in Apache, MySQL, and PHP on my Mac mini than I do my ISP’s ability to handle the bandwidth.

I consider this quite a feat because of two points 1) I know almost nothing about most web technologies – the fact is I’m a n00b. But I’m proud to admit it and determined to change it. I think that’s important. The reason this is a feat is because it was incredibly easy to set up using OS X.

The UNIX underpinnings in 10.5 make my Mac mini a fairly robust server for a fraction of the cost of an Xserve. Enabling Apache required me to simply check a box – that’s it. Granted there were a few other steps involved in enabling PHP and installing MySQL; but let’s be realistic, one is going to have to dirty one’s hands at some point.

Please pardon me if I’m sounding too much like a “fanboy”. In all honesty, I would install whichever OS made it the easiest – I’m not afraid of using a Linux distro. or installing Windows on a Mac. The fact is that OS X made it the easiest to accomplish the goals I wanted to accomplish.