It seems like only months ago I wrote this entire article in one sitting after pulling out comments I made to Mark via email on Josh’s views. Then had to mercilessly cut out about a third of it and rewrite parts over the next few days. But that’s because I’m old, and going off on tangents is the law. That or I have a lot to say about UI. So, what do I touch on (no pun intended) in part 2? You’ll have to read it to find out.
I was initially very hesitant to start a blog. Who the hell cares about what I think or what I do? The only people that might care, I talk to in person or via IM, regularly. But a funny thing happened since I established my first blog years ago: I realize that things obvious to me regarding technology and its proper use and abuse, were not so clear cut to others.
I have always seen over the next hill when others are staring at the road, and a few are looking at the top of the hill as far as where tech is going. I know the ultimate purpose of technology that practically everyone seems to forget. I know that all the current mainstream interfaces will eventually be replaced by things that are only in laboratories now. And I recognize that even those could be superseded by more refined technologies that would look like magic to anyone not paying attention.
Apple Geniuses are Limited, By Policy
One thing that always strikes me on each visit to an Apple Genius bar is how little the employees can actually tell a person because of Apple policies. A number of times in the past 6 years, I have considered getting various Apple certifications, but the one thing that always stopped me was the conflict of interest it would cause. With the increased access to the inner workings of the OS and the hardware it runs on top of, there is a significant burden of what one can and cannot say. I have always worried that the best interests of a customer preserving data would go against official policy just to keep a certification. Because of this trade off, I have not pursued any Apple Certifications, even though I could probably have written half of the OS X certification book. (Holding down the option key is a great way to find hidden features…)
I witnessed first-hand a customer being told he would have to wipe his drive if Disk Utility didn’t work to fix his problem. I mentioned that Disk Warrior might be an alternative if the problem was directory corruption. Since the person did not have a backup, I mentioned it. The employee responded that Apple employees are not authorized to even use it. I told him that I could, and pointed to my bag.
Also, unless a person already knows the name of a product that would suit their needs that isn’t on Apple’s roster of approved devices, an Apple employee cannot even mention its name. In another case, months ago, I mentioned needed more than 1TB internally, and an employee hinted there was an alternative. It wasn’t until I told him that I was considering getting a DataDoubler sled and swapping out the optical drive that he could even say anything more.
I do not expect regular in-store support personnel to know much beyond the basic features of devices they sell. A few do know more, but in most cases, Apple Policy makes actually helping people meet their needs more difficult. I have overheard Apple employees not mention how to backup an iOS device manually even though I know it is part of their training. They seem unaware that there are dock extension cables that are iDevice certified. A customer had a question about his iPad not charging, or charging very slowly. He was told to purchase an iPad specific auto adapter, instead of being told to just make sure the 12volt adapter can output 2.1 amps. Another asked a similar question about quick charging an iPhone. Again, the employee that person spoke with neglected to mention hooking the iDevice up to a 2.1A charger to charge it quickly.
In general they do not mention alternatives that would meet a person’s needs simply and easily. The unifying principle behind this is to keep things consistent and simple. But simple does not equal easy, nor does it mean inexpensive. For example, one customer asked a simple question about getting the best sound out of iTunes. The answer was painfully obvious to me, but the customer was not told to rip the CDs in a lossless audio codec.
But this isn’t just Apple. When I had Microsoft Certifications, the agreement a person has to sign in order to receive even one, is to agree, under penalty of law, not to say anything disparaging about Microsoft products. I am not sure if that clause was enforceable, nor if it is still in the certification legalese. I realize that almost none of the certificate wielding professional followed this rule. Still, I always thought signing away your freedom of speech, should not even be legal.
This is yet another reason I no longer shop at Amazon:
A few months ago, one of the feet on my laptop fell off. I called Apple hoping they could send out a replacement, but AppleCare personnel insisted the foot was attached at the factory, and I couldn’t do my own repair. So, after a few calls, insisting that I have been disassembling laptops for over a decade, I relented and took my machine in for a bottom case swap. At that time there were no other problems with the laptop. When I got the machine back, the next time I used the optical drive, it no longer worked. I had to take it in again and have that swapped.
My piece on the new iPhone (“iPhone 5” or whatever the hardworking people at Apple call it) is now live at Dice News. Speaking of Apple, I have to do a 180 on my piece slamming their support. Recently, I was treated great by both phone and in-store support. But that’s another story…
Not much was actually cut (and I did all the cutting of actual points made) from this short article since I had a discussion with my editor about the difference in format between my stream of thought ramblings here in a personal journal format and a news/opinion article fit for mass consumption.
Popping open Scrivener right now, I see the first snapshot of the first draft mentioned that I was streaming music via bluetooth when I wrote the part about bluetooth A2DP, and this:
(*“The New iPad” doesn’t fly with me because—as my CL buddies and I know—naming anything “New …” is a bad practice. After 5 years, another thing supersedes it, and “New New…” sounds like something out of Futurama and/or Idiocracy.)
I really liked this aside, but the article was already over what most people have the patience to read. There are enough inside jokes in the article anyway. My favorite is the coining of the word “portamanmeme.” When I made the nyPhone image it took about 5 minutes to remember how to do it in Pixelmator having always used Photoshop for the slick masking, etc. Even before I made it, I thought that it would have ended up cut for sure, but nope, it made it in! Sure anyone can spew out bad jokes and tech commentary, but usually not at the same time (unless you are @mosspuppet).
I also cut this part about what we will be doing in the future with monitors and 802.11ad:
And next year I will be talking about how awesome direct point to point 802.11ad is at 60GHz with its currently mind-blowing 7Gbps throughput (and yes I realize the actual throughput will probably be less than half that, but an average of even 300MBps on 802.11ad with no physical connection would make me happy). The idea of being able to pull a monitor out of its box, turn it on, and then simply route your laptop’s video to that seamlessly, with no loss in quality is very appealing.
I also have the second part of my TouchUI article coming out, but with all the tech news, it has been pushed back since it is not something time sensitive.
Welp. Go read it, and then link the article to your friends so they can enjoy nyPhone as much as I did.
Yet another major version release of OS X is out, and I have talked to a few people about it. For the most part, aside from a few “.0” bugs, the response has been pretty positive. I decided to upgrade after I noticed a vast majority of the apps I use regularly released updated Mountain Lion compatible versions within days of its release. Also, there were no reports of data loss (not that I have to worry about that because of the religious fanatic level of backups I have) or any major problems from people that upgraded right away.
My Advice for Upgrading to Mountain Lion: 10.8
So, I followed my own advice previously posted about upgrading. I’ll recap it here. In short: