Category Archives: Tech

Microsoft vs. Apple: It’s All About Experience.


Last night, my family and I went to our local mall.  My wife wanted a new watch band for her Apple Watch.

The Apple Store is always busy…and full of life.  They have tons of staff…some just stand around because they have so many.  But the store is always full of people.

My wife looked and found the band she wanted in the display case, but it was not on the shelf.  She asked an Apple store employee for help, and he immediately produced the band she wanted. He scanned the bar code, she used Apple Pay, and she was done. She was now the owner of a new Apple Watchband.  She put her new band on, right there in the store, and we were on our way.  Of note, even she did not have Apple Pay, she could have used our Apple ID account to pay, or a credit card, as all the employees have iPods equipped with card readers.

Excellent service, quick and easy.  The way I think a shopping experience should be.

Fast forward about 40 minutes.  My son had earned a gift from doing chores around the house.  We went to Gamestop, and they did not have the game he wanted. I remembered there was a Microsoft Store in this particular mall, so we headed there.

Microsoft Stores are nice.  They are setup well.  Lots of stations to try stuff out.  There were people playing Xbox One game.  It was a cool vibe.  He found his game and we looked for someone to help us.

That’s when the problems began.

It took us awhile to get help from one of the five employees.  When we did, he led us to a payment station.  He started the checkout process by telling us to wait a few minutes while the system booted up.

Yes.  He actually said that.

So, after all that, we were ready to pay.  I got my card out, and was standing in front of the reader.  I was ready to stick my card in the chip reader when he told me to wait, the system was not ready.  Then, he said wait for the screen on the card reader to go black.

It never did, and finally crashed.

We repeated this process one more time until he found a POS system that worked.  The entire process was about 15 minutes and I was extremely frustrated.  In fact, that was the first and last purchase I will make in a Microsoft Store.  It was too hard to buy something.

The two very different experiences I had last night are a perfect metaphor for Apple and Microsoft.  One cares very deeply about your overall experience, one just wants cash.

Given the market value of both the companies, you can see which philosophy is winning. And it is a perfect example of why I made the switch to Apple, and why most people hate computers and technology.  While I am sure that both Microsoft and Apple believe in technology as a tool to enhance our lives,  Microsoft continues to treat it as a means to an end, and that end is profit. NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT…in fact, I am all for making profit.  But Apple has solved the problem of doing both.  By investing time and money to making the end user experience “insanely awesome”, they have taken away much of the intimidation people feel about tech.

I know there are arguments to be made for Microsoft.  They use hardware from a lot of different vendors.  They have to make their OS work with all of them.  But Apple made a bet years ago do to all that themselves, and it has paid off in billions.

 

 

 

The Sad Tale of the PSVita


WHAT AM I?!?!

I just read a great article on the PS Vita.  It made me realize that I am not alone.

I hate the PS Vita because I don’t know what the hell it is.  And apparently, neither does Sony.

It really is a neat little thing.  Next Gen graphics on a nice hi rez screen. Some great games.  Wifi and Cellular data access. Email, web browser. Chat. Touch screen. It’s an MP3 and movie player as well.

Why yes, I did just describe most every hand held device.  Including the mega popular iOS devices from Apple.

So Sony really needed to knock this out of the park, and they haven’t.  So far, the only “cool” feature is being able to remote into my PS4 and play PS4 games on the screen.  Of course, this is only good up to about 40 feet, then the connection lags to the point of being unplayable.

And there are some Vita exclusive games that are worth it.  Uncharted: The Golden Abyss and Assassin’s Creed: Liberation are fantastic.  In fact, if you are a PlayStation Plus subscriber you can get Uncharted for free right now.

So the one thing that sets the Vita apart from every smart phone and tablet are the games. The problem is that no developer will touch the damn thing because it is not selling.  However you can download every Vita game via the PlayStation Store, and also a large selection of PSP and PSOne games.  That is awesome.

But it also shows another weakness of the Vita.  Storage.

The Vita uses proprietary Sony SD cards.  It ships with a 4GB card.  Every app you download ( yes there are Twitter and Facebook apps for Vita!) takes up space. The average PSOne game is around 500MBS.  The average Vita game is 3GBS.  You do the math.  And the prices for these SONY ONLY cards are ridiculous. The retail price for a 32GB card is $79.99.  You can get a 32GB USB drive for around $20.00

Then there is the game pricing.  Every Vita game costs the same as the retail counterpart.  Plus, you have to have space to download it.  So what is the advantage to downloading a Vita game? There is none.  If I am being asked to pay the full retail prince of $39.99 for a Vita game, I am better off to buy the thing and not have to give up precious storage.

And that brings me back to the PlayStation Plus membership.  Sony does give members tremendous discounts and even free games, but then you have to have space. It’s a benefit that is hard to enjoy on the Vita.

I doubt I will see any more MUST HAVE games for the Vita.  It is going to die, like the PSP before it.  It’s a shame, because having a portable Playstation is a cool idea.

I wish I had one.

Mac Mail has become a Wasteland of Ruin…but I fixed it.


   I like Mavericks.  I love the improvements to Finder, with tabbed browsing and tags.  And pretty much everything else.   But it raped one of my favorite apps, Mail.

It was discovered pretty early after the release that Apple had changed the way it was handling Gmail accounts. And this resulted in crappy performance and very slow message delivery.  News Flash: Apple hates Google now.

Granted, they realized they messed up and released an update shortly thereafter, but it still isn’t the same.  It is no where near as responsive as it used to be.

A few days ago, a buddy of mine told me he was worried that Mac Mail was becoming unusable.  He mentioned the slow delivery of messages.  I thought about it, and then I started to notice the same thing.

I am a devout Gmail user.  For me there is no better email service.  But, I like the functionality that a client gives me for working in other applications.  And you you work in the Apple Eco System, Mail is a must use app.  But it’s crap right now and I hope they give it some love very soon.

But back to the matter at hand!  My buddy and I had the idea of removing the accounts from our Mail App and starting from scratch.  And that is what you have to do, but you also have to take one, more drastic step.

Go into your MAC Library (if you don’t know how to get there, from FINDER>GO  and hold down the OPTION key, Library shows up) and delete the IMAP folders for all your Gmail accounts.  Go back to Settings, and add them again.  VIOLA!  Mail is fixed.  Messages come in again at the speed of light.

It will take some time to download all your messages again, but for now this seems to fix the issue.

 

 

Fun with Terminal Commands


Wanna have some fun with your Mac OS X system names?  Open up TERMINAL and try these commands:

scutil –set ComputerName “WHATEVER YOU WANT”

This will change the official name of your Mac to whatever you choose. 

What about the HOST name?

scutil –set HostName “WHATEVER YOU WANT”

Doing that will give your Mac a new name on the network and on the command line.

And to change the MAC name for Bonjour Apps and AirDrop, try:

scutil –set LocalHostName “WHATEVER YOU WANT”

 

Just a cool way to add some variety to your MAC and spice things up.  🙂

 

 

Why Google’s New Compose Window is ALL kinds of Awesome


Google is pushing out a new compose window feature for Gmail. This is a long time coming. And I love it.

Looking back, the original compose method in Gmail was, if anything, a workflow killer. And it has been one of the few chinks in an otherwise impenetrable armor. Since GMail is web based, when you clicked on compose, a new web page opened. A web page in the form of a virgin email form. You immediately lost access to your inbox. If you are like me, your emails usually include reference to other data in your inbox. In Gmail, once I committed to writing a new message, my inbox was gone.

Eventually I learned to RIGHT CLICK and OPEN IN A NEW WINDOW. However it was very cumbersome. Also I am a genius and many users never learned this trick.

Now they have added the New Compose window and it is everything i need and more. There are even new features that I didn’t know I needed, but now I can’t live with out.

The new window opens within your inbox, allowing you to maintain a visual on your stuff. And the best part is there is a fly out function. Thats right. Just click the arrow to set your compose window free! You can open another message. You can open your calendar…and still maintain your separate compose window. My workflow just flexed.

wpid-newcompose3-2-2013-03-8-16-07.png

But wait…there is more! You can also add photos directly inline. Also any files in your Google Drive. All with one button. I have been using Gmail since the beginning and this is, so far, the best update to the service. One that was long over due.

Smartphones: don’t be cheap


A family member contacted me today about what iPhone she should buy. I told her she should wait a few weeks for the iPhone 5.

“but I can get a really good deal on a 4 now” she said.

A good point. Saving money is normally a smart idea. But when it comes to something like a smart phone….any smart phone..it is always good to buy as much as you can possibly afford.

And she wants an iPhone. Good for her. But if she buys one now, with the knowledge of a new model in two weeks, why would you want to invest in a product that will be out dated in that time?

Apple will also be releasing a new version of their mobile OS. The new iPhone has been developed on hardware with that OS in mind. Developers will be updating and making apps with the new hardware specs. My wife (and by proxy, my kids) has an iPad 1. She is already getting told by several apps that they are not compatible with her iPad.

Why would you want to restrict yourself like that?

So if your contract is up, you are going to get a deal anyway. Why not invest your money in the best product available?