On Mac And iPhone Apps: When Small Is Beautiful, Less Is More, And Free Is Good

There’s no other way to say it. I’m an app hound. I love apps; especially those that play nice-nice with their counterparts on different devices. That’s what makes the Apple experience so good– Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Reminders, browser bookmarks, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote with iCloud all work well together.

Mostly.

Interestingly, Apple leaves out plenty of useful options, which opens up opportunities for 3rd party app developers to fill in the gaps. Anyone who’s used Fantastical or Things or SuperDuper will understand. Apple sets all Mac, iPhone, and iPad users up with a base level of usability; what I call table stakes is what others may call a barrier to entry which is what others might call the land of opportunity.

Here are some examples of options, utilities, tools, and apps that go slightly beyond Apple’s base line to make our lives a bit easier.

Itsycal for Mac.

This free utility lives in the Mac’s Menubar and does what the name implies. It’s an itsy bits calendar. Click and it displays the current month, and the next few calendar events.

Itsycal

My Mac, iPhone, and iPad are loaded with such utilities, tools, and apps– those that provide additional functionality beyond what Apple provides, or which do something easier and faster than a corresponding app.

Another example of small is beautiful, less is more, and free is good, is Mactracker. As much as I enjoy perusing Apple’s website, one must dig deeply to find information about older products. That’s exactly what Mactracker does, and it’s free.

Mactracker runs on both OS X and iOS and provides details for every Apple product dating back to the original Apple computers. Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods, accessories and much more– all available with a click or a search.

Mactracker

Another Mac app I’ve written about, also free, fills a need and yet fits into the small is beautiful, less is more, free is good category. It’s called Noizio– a free background sound maker.

Noizio lives in the Mac’s Menubar, and gives you options to mix and match 10 different background, ambient sounds– October Rain, Paris Cafe, Thunderstorm, Campfire, Winter Wind, Sea Waves, River Stream, Summer Night, Sunny Day, Deep Space.

Each sound has it’s own volume control, too, and the design is totally OS X Yosemite– simple, elegant, obvious.

Noizio for Mac

I have a growing preference for applications which run on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, but that won’t always happen. There’s no Photoshop for iPad or iPhone. Likewise, you won’t find good camera apps for the Mac, despite the fact that most Macs these days have an HD camera (what’s up with the 480p camera in the new MacBook?).

The next revolution in applications for our favorite Apple devices might be around the corner. I’m thinking Siri and some artificial intelligent personality and assistance. But for now, we are living in a golden age of application availability.

The Disease And The Cure

Smartphone maker HTC thinks both Apple and Samsung smartphones are diseases, but he’s found a cure.

While Samsung is widely known for its attack ads that fire shots at Apple and the iPhone, HTC often steers clear of the fray and focuses instead on being… weird. Every once in a while, however, the company veers off its standard path and throws a few jabs at rival smartphone makers. Of course, even the company’s attack ads are still weird.

And funny.

The ‘Go Everywhere’ NFC Chip

This should be in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Forbes:

For those who can bear the pain, biohacking, where computing devices are injected under the skin, provides a novel way to acquire real stealth to sneak through both physical and digital scans. That’s why US navy petty officer Seth Wahle, now an engineer at APA Wireless, implanted a chip in his hand, in between the thumb and the finger – the purlicue apparently – of his left hand. It has an NFC (Near Field Communications) antenna that pings Android phones, asking them to open a link. Once the user agrees to open that link and install a malicious file, their phone connects to a remote computer, the owner of which can carry out further exploits on that mobile device. Put simply, that Android device is compromised.

Ouch. And, ouch.

Obama vs. Lincoln and Washington

President Obama at the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner:

Just this week, Michele Bachmann actually predicted that I would bring about the biblical end of days. Now that’s a legacy. That’s big. I mean Lincoln, Washington — they didn’t do that.

That’s hard to top, but Obama had more. On climate change:

Every serious scientists says we need act. The Pentagon says it’s a national security risk. Miami floods on a sunny day and instead of doing anything about it, we’ve got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate

On the uncertainty of life:

For example I have one friend, just a few weeks ago she was making millions of dollars a year. And she ‘s now living out of a van in Iowa (reference to Hillary Clinton’s life change to the campaign trail).

On those lining up to replace him as president:

Galileo believed the world revolved around the sun. Ted Cruz believes the Earth revolves around Ted Cruz

Not to be outdone, Martin O’Malley kicked things off by going completely unrecognized at a Martin O’Malley campaign event

On Biden, Aging, and Dick Cheney:

I love that man. We’ve gotten so close that some places in Indiana won’t serve us pizza any more

I look so old [House Speaker] John Boehner’s already invited [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to speak at my funeral

Dick Cheney said I was the worst president of his lifetime, which is interesting because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime

Priceless.

Every Mac User Needs This Kind Of Noise

Noise is bad for us, right? Well, certain kinds of noise. Loud construction noise, factory noise, the constant road of an overly loud engine or even an air conditioner can be bad for your health. Yet, some noise can actually be soothing; white noise comes to mind, for people at home trying to sleep, or the piped-in white noise in a crowded office building.

Well, dear Mac users, rejoice. Here’s a free way to add noise to your Mac– the kind that’s actually good for you (although it can be disconcerting for nearby co-workers if you work in a cubicle farm; I do).

The free app is called Noizio. It’s a cute name for a remarkably pleasant Mac utility which pipes good sounds through your Mac’s speakers.

Officially, this is Noizio:

Noizio is an app that will drown out the noise of the street and allow you to concentrate on the work at hand, increasing your productivity. On the other hand, it can also set the mood for a romantic evening or lull you to sleep, ensuring that you will dream soundly all night long. An ambient sound equalizer app for creating a mixture of ambient sounds available for Mac OS X.

Unofficially, this is about as useful as a free app can get at helping you block out unwanted sounds by filling your Mac’s speakers with sounds that are soothing and beneficial, yet highly customizable.

Noizio features 10 basic ambient sounds, including October Rain, Paris Cafe, Thunderstorm, Campfire, Winter Wind, Sea Waves, River Stream, Summer Night, Sunny Day, Deep Space (think Star Trek). Each sound has it’s own volume controls so you can mix and match sounds to fit your workspace, home space or mood.

The app lives in the Mac’s Menubar so it’s available for adjustments within any app. Click to start, click to adjust the volume, click to adjust the volume audio mix for each sound.

Noizio for Mac

Noizio looks and feels like a good Mac app citizen; setting it up and using it takes barely a minute, but the sounds loop so it can play all day.

Here’s what’s missing (besides a version for iPhone and iPad)– an option to save sound mixes, and, a few more background sounds. Water, rain, and thunder are nice, but so are certain electric fan sounds. But those are nit picky thoughts to what amounts to a great bargain.

Face Off: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. iPhone 6

Zach Epstein:

Pitting a brand new octa-core monster of a flagship Android phone with 3GB of RAM against a dual-core iPhone with 1GB of RAM doesn’t seem like it should be a fair fight. As we saw in a number of performance tests ahead of the Galaxy S6’s debut and following its launch, Samsung’s new flagship smartphone crushes every other phone on the planet in a number of key areas.

I like the quad HD screen. Four times the pixels of my iPhone 6 Plus, but it looks the same.

Despite only having a dual-core CPU and just 1GB of RAM, the iPhone outperformed every single widely available Android smartphone across the board.

Ouch.

Samsung copied Apple’s overall iPhone design, but loads the device up with bullet point features that result in a weaker user experience. Quad HD screens, quad and octal-core CPUs, and triple the RAM are overkill, hence the lousy battery life and extra heat.

10 Stupid Vacation Mistakes

Gianni Jaccoma:

If you’ve ever lived in a tourist town, then you know that clueless visitors are often more trouble than they (or their wallets) are worth. And because you’ve likely tripped over enough clueless clods, you probably already know how NOT to be one when you’re the out-of-towner.

Spoiler Alert!

  • Making no attempt to blend in/trying too hard to fit in
  • Taking pictures of everything
  • Skipping local restaurants for the stuff you eat at home
  • Breaking the law
  • Expecting every shop to take credit cards
  • Complaining about how expensive/weird everything is
  • Expecting everyone to speak your language
  • Over-sharing on social media
  • Going someplace amazing and never leaving the resort

I travel to Europe on business half a dozen times each year. In general, the worst tourists are Americans.

4-inch iPhone 7c On The Way?

This might be from Ripley’s Believe It Or Don’t Future Files, but it makes sense on one hand. There’s still a market for smaller smartphones, hence the rumor that Taiwanese display maker AUO will be Apple’s screen manufacturer for the iPhone 7c.

iPhone 7c?

This is AUO’s first iPhone order. The company has transformed its L3A and 3B factories into Low Temperature Poly-silicon (LTPS) factories to manufacture iPhone 7C displays to be shipped by first quarter of 2016.

On the other hand, that’s a year from now. That makes no sense, especially since Apple already makes a 4-inch model in the 5s and 5c, and the latest rumor mill gossip says Apple might skip the 6s series altogether.

Industry insiders projected iPhone 7c will not be released on the market till one to two years later, since the release dates of iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and iPhone 7 have not been announced. The C series have always been the more affordable iPhone model, and considering how iPhone 5c sales were lower than expected, it quickly fell out of the mainstream. Hence, further observations are required for the iPhone 7c.

This sounds just like so much nonsense, and what happens when an infinite number of monkeys are given an infinite number of keyboards…

Try The Mac Photo Viewer App That Lets You View Photos (no borders, no buttons, no frames)

Apple’s Photos app on the Mac replaced iPhoto. Highbrow for the Mac is not a replacement for photos, but it’s a great way to browse and view photos and images in a totally distraction free visual environment. Say goodbye to photo borders, frames, navigation buttons, and anything else that obscures the photos you’re looking at or searching for.

My day job pits me against an increasingly ginormous library of photos and images. Through the years I’ve tried every sort of image and photo viewer and still cannot find one that combines simplicity and elegance with raw speed and no visual clutter.

Highbrow is close.

This inexpensive browser app uses every usable pixel on the Mac’s screen. No borders. No frames. No distractions. Not even navigation buttons. Highbrow resides in the Mac’s Menubar so it’s easily accessible from within any Mac app. If you want, you can even hide the Menubar from view.

Highbrow for Mac

Load up a single window on the Mac’s screen what however many photos or images you need– no borders, no frames. Or, load up multiple windows of photos. Windows are automatically proportioned to fit your Mac’s visible screen real estate.

Highbrow uses a simple sidebar toggle to browse through photos on each window. Photos can be dragged and dropped from folders onto the sidebar for instant viewing. Or, drag and drop photos or images onto the Highbrow icon in the Dock, and a new window is created. Photos and folders can be renamed, moved, copied with ease.

Highbrow Sidebar for Mac

Highbrow has almost no learning curve, yet it’s useful, easy to operate, and a distraction free way to view photos and graphic images on your Mac.

For an app that’s so elegant, Highbrow does have an extensive list of settings in Preferences, yet it’s mostly set it and forget it.

Highbrow Preferences

Although Highbrow costs only a few dollars and is worth the nominal price tag for anyone who needs quick and undistracted access to photos and images, the developer wisely created a try-before-you-buy version, too.

Get A Copy Of Your Google Search History

The right to be forgotten is all the rage in Europe these days, and that has Google working overtime to forget people in their search data. Steven Tweedie:

To download your Google search history archive, you’ll first need to head on over to Google’s Web & App Activity page.

Next, make sure you’re signed in to your Google account and click on the Settings cog and select Download. Once you’ve read Google’s disclaimer, click Create Archive and you’ll be all set.

Google will now email you a link for downloading your Google search history archive.

No forgetting. Just checking.

Keep Your Car Keys In The Freezer

I had trouble figuring out where the conclusion comes from, but if it works, it works; but I don’t think it works. Deanne Mayall on Nick Bilton:

How were they able to unlock my car door so easily?

When the police arrived, they didn’t have much of an answer. (The thieves didn’t get away with anything; after all the break-ins, we no longer keep anything in the car.) I called Toyota, but they didn’t know, either (or at least the public relations employee didn’t know).

When I called the Los Angeles Police Department’s communications desk, a spokesman said I must have forgotten to lock my car. No, I assured him, I had not. But his query did make me question my sanity briefly.

I finally found out that I wasn’t crazy in, of all places, Canada. [Emphasis is mine].

The Toronto Police Service issued a news release last Thursday warning that thieves “may have access to electronic devices which can compromise” a vehicle’s security system. But the police did not specify what that “device” actually was.

Someone stole a car. The top two suggestions on how to protect your expensive, high tech new car from theft?

  • Park your oldest car behind the new one, blocking it in
  • Keep your keys in the freezer, which will act to “hide” the signal

Keys in the freezer. I never would have thought of that.

The Big Bang Mistake

Science and the Big Bang are not what you think they are. Ethan Siegel:

The idea you must be able to extrapolate the Universe back to an initial singularity, is the biggest mistake we’ve ever made about the Big Bang. We can trace it all the way back to George Lemaître’s use of the term “primeval atom” back in 1927, and while this was certainly a reasonable extrapolation to make (particularly before 1992), is no longer a given. Yes, the Universe started from a very hot, dense, rapidly expanding state, where the entirety of our observable Universe today was compressed in a volume smaller than our Solar System.

In other words, the Big Bang theory is just that. Theory. Ditto for evolution. Both are good examples of the difference between scientific fact vs. the scientific process (which may not lead to scientific fact).

Apple’s Growing List Of Strange Bedfellows

The technology industry is almost as incestuous as the entertainment industry, and no one has a stranger relationship with friends and enemies than Apple. For many years Apple’s main nemesis was Microsoft and a diminishing number of PC makers. Since the second coming of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 1997, Apple has grown far larger and richer than anyone would have imagined a mere decade ago, and the number of friendly enemies has kept pace.

Frenemies?

Frenemies a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” that can refer to either an enemy pretending to be a friend or someone who really is a friend but also a rival.[1] The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical, and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions.

Apple has plenty. Start with Microsoft. When Steve Jobs returned he cut a deal with Microsoft to keep Office on the Mac for a few years. That, plus an investment of $150-million, helped to solidify the Mac for a few years. Today, both Google and Microsoft are among the largest developers for Apple’s iOS platform.

Old enemy Intel became the CPU inside the Mac when the PowerPC consortium couldn’t keep up with the times. Google became a friend and provided Apple with maps for the iPhone and Chrome for the Mac. Then Google became an enemy when Android was launched to compete with the iPhone. Samsung is a large component manufacturer and supplies Apple with a number of critical components; from screens to CPU manufacturing. Samsung also sells smartphones and tablets that compete against iPhone and iPad, and despite the billions Apple sends to the South Korean giant every quarter, the chipmaker doesn’t mind taking potshots at Apple in public.

That’s strange bedfellows, folks.

A peculiar alliance or combination, as in George and Arthur really are strange bedfellows, sharing the same job but totally different in their views. Although strictly speaking bedfellows are persons who share a bed, like husband and wife, the term has been used figuratively since the late 1400s.

The latest news says Samsung wants Apple’s display business (Apple has invested in several Japanese companies to build screens for iPhone and iPad) and has a dedicated team to make it happen. Apple, of course, goes to component makers it trusts to deliver high quality products at competitive prices.

If I were Apple CEO Tim Cook I’d tell Samsung to shut up, then put up. Stop the public trash talk if you want some of Apple’s business.

More Critical Thinking

Thought provoking piece by Steve Siebold on critical thinking and the need for more of it.

A middle school girl is scolded, embarrassed and banished from the classroom for refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance in Pennsylvania. And what makes this story even more disturbing is that she was refused medical care by a school nurse because of it.

This incident is another example of what a joke our education system is in the 21st century. We shouldn’t be teaching kids to accept anything they are told. We need to be teaching them to push back and punch holes into outdated rituals, dogma and behaviors.

It’s time to start teaching children to think for themselves and not be forced to adhere to someone else’s point of view. After all, education is about teaching kids how to think, not what to think, and the pledge is a form of indoctrination.

Amen.

Apple’s Big Fear: Stagnation

Take a quick look at Apple’s many competitors. What do they have in common? They’re not afraid to sell junk. They’re not afraid to hold onto the past. Their focus on products is often more about price and a laundry list of features than the user experience.

Now, contrast that with Apple’s approach to the customer. The user experience is paramount; even if it means the customer must wait weeks or months for a new product. Even if an Apple customer is used to an older and friendlier product, Apple isn’t afraid to kick out the old and usher in the new.

Apples biggest fear seems to be what often ails the company’s many competitors. Stagnation.

A good example of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ is the original iMac back in 1998. No floppy disk. That advancement, of course, was countered with the notorious hockey puck mouse that Apple included with the iMac, but that’s a different issue.

More recently Apple announced and then shipped the new Photos app for the Mac. There’s much to like in Photos, but it’s still a simple app to store tens of thousands of digital photos, make then easy to enhance and share. Along the way, Apple didn’t hesitate to drop iPhoto and Aperture from the Mac App Store.

Out with the old, in with the new.

One reason that PC makers, smartphone and tablet makers have difficulty competing against Apple is that the company doesn’t stand still for long. But it does stand still for awhile at times, and has been kind enough to overlap new product technologies. Witness the new MacBook line (silver, space gray, gold, thinner, lighter, faster but more expensive than entry-level MacBook Air models) which exists alongside the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

Apple’s product line is much larger than most competitors, customers, or critics fully realize. Look at the variety of iPhones. iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, iPhone 5s and 5c. The iPad has an even larger line. Two models of iPad Air, three models of iPad mini. The Mac line is even more diverse; MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac with Retina display, Mac Pro, Mac mini, each with a variety of options.

For all of Apple’s fear of stagnation and becoming like competitors of yesteryear, two things should be noted. First, Apple does stagnate (though one can argue that it’s more of a leapfrog stagnation). Two words: Apple TV. Sometimes Apple goes backwards. Two words: Mac mini (now with less power than previous models).

Second, Apple has done such a good job sucking the profits out of the PC, smartphone, and tablet industry segments, that competitors have become desperate to remain or become relevant. That means lower prices, and better products that more effectively compete with Apple’s product line.

Competing well against Apple in any product segment requires a competitor to adhere to specific basics. Stagnation is not allowed. Apple is a moving target. Build products that work as well as Apple’s products, but price them less. Build products that work far better than Apple’s products, and price them the same.

So far, not many company’s have been able to do either one, and while Apple may appear to stagnate on a product or two, or on certain features and functions, the company continues to raise the bar (check out the Force Touch trackpad on the new MacBook or 13-inch MacBook Pro, and then imagine an iPhone or iPad with similar full-screen technology).

New MacBook Is A No Show

I stopped by the Grand Central Station Apple Store over the weekend to check out the Apple Watch and noticed the new MacBook line was displayed nearby and some customers were upset that they couldn’t buy one. Mark Reschke on the new Apple. All show ‘n tell, no delivery.

The all-new MacBook was to be available for purchase – not just pre-order – on April 10th. Friday morning, I gathered in line at Portland, Oregon’s downtown Apple store. Upon entering it appeared that roughly a 1/3rd of the people in line were waiting to get their hands on the new MacBook. Unfortunately those hoping to make a purchase and walk away with the new laptop were sorely disappointed, because there were no MacBooks in stock to buy from the Apple.

Apple’s long lead times for new product availability is not a good customer experience. Online purchase shows four to six weeks shipping time for the new MacBook models.

Lizard Eating Cats In Florida

The only problem I have with this is geography. It’s unlikely that Florida’s lizard problem will make it all the way to my neighborhood in Brooklyn. There are plenty of cats to munch on up here. Guneet Bhatia on the Nile monitor lizard that loves cats.

The cat-eating species of monitor lizard, originally from Africa, is creating a havoc in Florida. The state wildlife officials are taking steps to locate and completely eliminate the Nile monitor from the state — particularly along the canals in North Miami — since the creature is posing a danger to the state wildlife.

According to the biologists, the Nile monitor eats up cats and other organisms, including fishes, owls and frogs.

This thing is up to five feet long. You’d think cats would be smart enough to get out of their way. But cats have an attitude of indifference and that makes it easy for them to become snacks. Fine with me.

The Two Sides Of Apple Watch: The Convenient Bauble, The Necessary Luxury

Apple Watch is out (almost) and the professional reviews are rolling in, mostly positive to gushing. Why? Just as Apple’s iPad hit the sweet spot between iPhone and Mac, Watch has a specific target in mind; those of us who can afford convenient baubles, or necessary luxuries.

Wait a minute. Isn’t that kind of the same thing? Yes. And no.

First, think about how Apple approaches a product. The company does not appear to think much about sales as much as the user experience; which results in growing sales, of course. But the focus of each product is how is it used, and how can it be made better.

Watch is no different.

Second, just as the iPhone has become a necessary luxury (most of us need a cellphone more than we need a watch), Watch can be described as luxurious bauble and convenient necessity. Like the iPhone, Watch is affordable, but borders on the premium side of the product segment. Like the iPhone, Watch is convenient– it takes some iPhone functions and makes them more usable, less obtrusive, easier to manage. That’s not at all unlike a TV remote control, or the steering wheel controls that used to be on a car’s dashboard.

Watch is priced, to start, at that sweet spot the begins the high end of the watch industry; around $400. Yes, there are a gazillion watches that are priced far less, and do far less, therefore are worth far less (yet, they still tell time). But the watches that make money for their manufacturers start at around $400. Those same watches cost more, but usually last longer, and the more money you spend on each one, the longer those watches are expected to stay in fashion and perform.

Therein lies the only issue about Apple Watch that I haven’t wrapped my head around. How long will Watch remain useful? For $400 one could expect to get a very good watch that would last easily 10 to 30 years. I have a beautiful bracelet watch that cost a mere $69 20 years ago. It still works, still keeps time, still is a fashion statement (needs a battery every year; a cleaning every five years).

Most modern technology items are not expected to last 20 years. I can keep a Mac notebook five years before handing it off. Most iPhone users upgrade their phones every two to three years, depending on carrier contract. iPad sales have softened the past year, mostly because the device is well made, still gets used, and because Apple hasn’t countered with a must-have reason for many users to upgrade.

What of Watch?

Will the average Watch user upgrade every couple of years? Or, will Watch perform well five years down the road?

For now, the answers to those questions are unknown, and time has a way of answering such considerations. For now, Watch will be a hit. A big hit. Not a hit in the sense of iPad or iPhone, but I predict more sales– far more sales– than Macs each quarter. The early reviews will be positive to gushing, and a growing number of Apple’s loyal customers will make appointments, try on a Watch, check out what it does when paired with their iPhones, and walk away about $400 to $1,000 poorer.

First Apple Watch Unboxing

That didn’t take long. Roger Fingas (with a video):

The first video debuted earlier today from Hong Kong’s Gadget Guy, showing a rounded rectangular box nestled inside a square outer one. The rounded box contains the Watch held on its side, with a buyer’s chosen band type already attached.

The outer box contains the inductive charger, a wall adapter, a polishing cloth, and an instruction guide. The guide is relatively brief, only going over the most essential functions such as button layout and included apps.

Extra Sport bands are packaged in a slim cardboard tube, which is not unlike an elongated version of the boxes Apple uses for its Thunderbolt adapters. The bands are clipped to a white insert, which also contains instructions showing users how to change the band.

Typical Apple product packaging. But no waiting in line anymore. Right. Uh huh.

Did NBC’s Brian Williams ‘Lie?’

More on the sad saga of one man’s memory from Pamela Engel:

Earlier this year, Williams said during an NBC broadcast that a helicopter he was flying in “was forced down after being hit by an RPG” in Iraq. Crew members who were on the helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade that day came forward to say Williams had been on another helicopter that arrived at the site later.

Williams blamed his mistake on “the fog of memory over 12 years.” He wrote in his apology on Facebook: “I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy. I feel terrible about making this mistake, especially since I found my OWN WRITING about the incident from back in ’08, and I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG in the tail housing just above the ramp.”

This is an interesting story because all of us remember the same events a bit differently; almost immediately after the event, and much more so over time.

Suicide Over A Buffet

If AT∓T doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘unlimited,’ how would a Las Vegas casino understand ‘lifetime free buffet pass?‘ Daily Caller:

John Noble, 53, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He purposefully chose the M Resort in Henderson, Nev., about 15 minutes from the famed Las Vegas Strip, as the scene of his death… Noble blamed his then-impending death on depression. He suffered from depression, he said, because employees at the M Resort had granted him a lifetime pass to free food at the buffet in September 2010 but later took the perk away — and, in fact, banned him from the resort completely.

Female employees at the M Resort thought Noble had been harassing them with attention and gifts, so the ban was instituted.

12 Insane Airports

From Answers (I wonder what the question was):

  • Congonhas Airport – Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Gibraltar International Airport – Gibraltar
  • Courchevel Altiport – Courchevel, France
  • Chubu Centrair International Airport – Tokoname, Japan
  • Kansai International Airport – Osaka, Japan
  • Madeira Airport – Funchal, Portugal
  • Princess Juliana International Airport – Simpson Bay, St. Maarten
  • Svalbard Airport – Longyearbyen, Norway
  • Ibrahim Nasir International Airport – Hulhule, Maldives
  • Jauncho E. Yrausquin Airport – Saba, Netherlands Antilles
  • Toncontin International Airport – Tegucigalpa, Honduras
  • Tenzing-Hillary Airport – Lukla, Nepal

I’ve been to four of the twelve and they were all scary.

Apple Watch Is Not A Simple Device

There should be little doubt that Apple will sell many tens of millions of the Watch. The company has half a billion iPhone customers, and a Watch is a convenient, useful, and fashionable extension of the iPhone. Unlike the original iPhone, though, Apple Watch is not a simple device. That explains the great pains Apple is going through to teach customers what the Watch can do.

Pains?

Last night I saw three 60-second Apple Watch TV commercials. The day before I viewed a number of Watch videos online. Whereas the iPhone and iPad were almost self explanatory devices, Apple Watch is not, and requires educating the masses of iPhone customers.

When was the last time you saw Apple devote 60-seconds to a TV commercial? What Apple product has benefited from so many different online videos which explain the product’s details (with more to come), and how to use the new controls?

Apple Watch might be a hard sell, somewhat akin to the controls which grace the steering wheel in your car. Are not many of those controls also on the dashboard control panels? Yes. But the steering wheel makes them convenient to use without removing your hands from the steering wheel, and without taking your eyes off the road. Apple Watch works much the same way. Alerts, alarms, notifications, communications, and other useful information– now the domain of our iPhones– will be more convenient to use on Watch. Once we learn how, and that will require a new user education process.

Apple already provides product handholding for newcomers to the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, so the company is perfectly equipped with retail stores and associates to provide the proper training to Watch customers. They’ll need it. Controls are different than Apple’s flagship products. Functions are different, too, and will require many users to elevate their learning game, and require Apple to elevate how a product is sold.

Will a customer receive the same sort of handholding for a Samsung Gear or Pebble or whatever wearable device hits the shelves at Best Buy?

I can predict with comfort that early adopters will love what Apple Watch does today, but what it will do next year and the year after is obvious, too– follow the migration path of improvements made to iPhone and iPad since their product launches years ago. I can predict with comfort that Watch will not sell as well as an iPhone. It cannot. iPhone has more apps with more capability and that is not likely to change ever. Screen real estate is important. But so is convenience and unobtrusive communication. Watch does what iPhone cannot. Be visually fashionable yet mostly unobtrusive while delivering a level of convenience that iPhone cannot.

Just remember that Watch is not a simple device and the interface and capabilities require plenty of education and handholding for the great unwashed masses of iPhone humanity.

Has Cable TV Peaked?

The answer, according to analyst Horace Dediu, is, well, yes, or, so it seems. There’s a comparison to another industry we’re familiar with, and what happened to the major players and what we could expect from the cable TV industry.

The premise:

And so over a period of about 40 years, watching TV went from free to quite expensive. More expensive even than a family’s communications costs (i.e. telephone service.) That’s quite an achievement at a time when technology diffusions caused huge price reductions in other goods and services. Consider that the TV set used to watch the programming improved dramatically while decreasing in price over the same period.

Meanwhile, some of the benefits began to be less relevant. Commercials are more abundant than ever. Ad buyers spend about $60/month per household to deliver ads[3] The quality of the TV picture is actually worse due to compression than one might get with over-the-air digital broadcast. Finally, the abundance of channels is beyond anyone’s absorption rate. Those channels which used to be “pure” became polluted and undifferentiated as each tried to be the other.

The result of market saturation and inevitable decline:

Users are cutting cords, the “uncabled” or “never-cabled” are a significant portion of the population. 13.5% of broadband households with an adult under 35 have no pay-TV subscriptions. 8.6 million US households have broadband Internet but no pay-TV subscription. That’s 7.3% of households, up from 4.2% in 2010. Another 5.6 million households “are prime to be among the next wave of cord-cutters,” according to Experian.

The same phenomenon occurred with mobile vs. fixed telephony. For several years it seemed that mobile was sustaining to fixed or that fixed was immune due to lock-ins. The fixed telephone incumbents insisted that the data was inconclusive. Then the trickle of abandonment turned into a deluge. The quality of service for mobile kept increasing and, with data, it became clear that the mobile devices could unleash unfathomable functionality and value.