The Almost Perfectly Priced Writers Tool For Mac

There must be a reason the Mac App Store and iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad have so many different writing and notes tools available. People love to write (or, maybe they hate it, but have to write anyway). At the high end is Microsoft Word which comes with nearly every feature imaginable. At the low end is OS X’s built-in TextEdit app which you might dismiss as being somewhat minimalist in nature, thin on features, but priced right.

If you’re a writer who prefers minimalist then TextEdit truly is anything but. Compared to Zen, TextEdit takes a full semester of instructions to master. Zen may be the easiest writing tool you’ve ever used. Ever. The real question is, “Should I use Zen to write anything?” Fortunately, there isn’t much to learn, so there’s less to forget when you stop using Zen, and I predict you will. From the app’s developer:

Zen Screenshot

Zen is a minimalist writer’s tool. I hesitate to call it a word processor, because it’s not really processing anything. There’s no toolbar, no way to format anything except fonts. Size. Color. Background. That’s it.

Zen is so bare, so spartan, so less than whatever is lesser than less, that it’s surprising it even has a Preferences setting, and all that does is let you change the font size and color, change the screen background, and use a simple slider bar to adjust visibility.

Wait. Zen comes with Fullscreen mode, right? That’s all the rage these days. Actually, Fullscreen mode is built-in to OS X. Just click the green button in the top of each app screen (most apps can go full screen these days).

One must assume that the zen in Zen is for simplicity, elegance, and an absence of distractions, though you’re likely to be somewhat distracted by trying to find and use additional features that most writers expect. Don’t bother. Zen adheres to the less is more, small is beautiful mantra, especially where minimalist is a euphemism for no features. Alright, if TextEdit is just too complicated for you, and you find the toolbar and options to be an over the top distraction, Zen might be just what you need and you’ll be willing to part with 99-cents (a better price tag would be free, or maybe a $5 contribution from developer to user).

If you truly need a spartan writing utility but with truly useful features that don’t distract, may I suggest you take a look at my friend Barbara Marie Brannan’s review of Simplenote. It’s free, much simpler than TextEdit, there’s a version for iPhone and iPad, and it syncs notes and writing projects between devices.

Did I mention it’s free?

Google’s Political Pandering

Yes, the Obama Administration is the most transparent White House in years. Uh huh. Sure. They even disclose who visits and how often, but not why. Brody Mullins includes Google on the list.

Since Mr. Obama took office, employees of the Mountain View, Calif., company have visited the White House for meetings with senior officials about 230 times, or an average of roughly once a week, according to the visitor logs reviewed.

How many times have Apple’s executives visited the White House to gain favor?

The Unfriendliest City In The World

Everyone has a list of the good and the bad. 2,005 people survey in the US came to the conclusion that the Golden Rule is absent in at least one American city. Brittany Jones Cooper on which cities topped the list:

New York City has long had a reputation for being a rude place, with overzealous fans (Go Yankees!) and annoyed locals darting in and out of crowds of tourists. But it’s not just the East Coast getting a bad rap: 15 percent of respondents pointed to Los Angeles as the second-unfriendliest city in the world.

Of course, the assumption is that those who participated in the survey had traveled to many other countries to make an objective decision. That might explain why Paris, France came in third on the list.

9 Jobs Where Women Out-earn Men

So much for equal pay for equal work. The US Census Bureau has a list of the pay gap between genders; specifically where women out-earn men.

  • Producers and directors
  • Vehicle cleaners
  • Wholesale and retail buyers
  • Security screeners
  • Human service assistants
  • Special education teachers
  • Distribution managers
  • Dishwashers
  • Counselors

There wasn’t much difference in the annual average pay rates, though.

In the tiny fraction of jobs in which women earn more than men, it’s by a nearly inconsequential amount. But when men out-earn women, it can be by a significant amount.

The differences between what men make vs. what women make is substantial in these areas.

  • Financial industry
  • Farmers
  • Morticians

The financial industry, with few exceptions, is a man’s world.

The Mac And Apple’s Product Migration Pricing Strategy

There’s a science to selling and pricing products and few companies do it as well as Apple. Up and down the product line– from Mac to iPhone to iPad– Apple builds in a pricing strategy that gently urges customers to migrate from whatever they can afford to another model that’s priced higher.

The Mac represents a perfect example of product migration pricing.

Apple’s new MacBook starts at $1,299. ‘That’s outrageous,’ say many critics. The MacBook Air starts at $899. A MacBook Pro starts at starts at the same $1,099. How can Apple justify a $1,299 price tag when similarly powered models, the MacBook Air, are priced hundreds less, while the much more powerful Pro model is also priced less.

Product migration pricing is all about tradeoffs.

That 13-inch MacBook Pro is much heavier, doesn’t have as much RAM, far less battery life, and no Retina display. The entry-level MacBook Air is heavier, too, doesn’t have a Retina display, has half the RAM and half the SSD storage. A MacBook Air that’s comparable to the new MacBook model with Retina display is priced $100 less (and still doesn’t have a Retina display). A MacBook Pro with similar RAM, similar SSD storage, and a Retina display, starts at $1,499, $200 more than a new MacBook, but it’s much heavier.

Apple prices products to make sure that the features that are the most wanted and needed always costs $100, $200, or $300 more; seldom out of reach, but priced so that a migration from one to another is guilt free, simple to understand, and attractive.

If you want a Mac notebook with a Retina display, regardless of RAM, SSD storage, or power, the price starts at $1,299. If you want a Mac notebook with the lightest weight possible, the price starts at $1,299 (the new MacBook). If Intel Core i5 CPU power is your primary motivator, but you must have a Retina display, the 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299.

That’s where the migration begins, but it does not take long to go from $1,299 for an entry-level MacBook Pro with Retina display to a 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.8Ghz quad-core Intel i7 CPU, maxed at 16GB RAM, with 1TB of SSD storage– at $3,199. That’s a far cry from $1,299 but the migration steps to get there are not easy to ignore.

What do you expect from your next MacBook Air or Pro? If you want a Retina display and long battery life, pricing starts at $1,299. If you prefer a Pro model with more CPU horsepower and a variety of legacy connectors, pricing starts at $1,299.

Bargains are available even within Apple’s product migration strategy. There’s the entry-level MacBook Air, non-Retina display, low power, long battery life, and a few ports, starting at $899. More power gets you a 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Retina display, but only 7 hours of battery life, starting at $1,099. That’s the low end of the Mac notebook product line, and a few hundred dollars more gets you the latest and greatest. And a few hundred more gets you more, but it’s always $100 to $200 more to get more.

Few companies price products as well as Apple.

14 Amazing Things Apple Watch Can Do

Amid all the noise and criticism for a use case or value proposition for Apple Watch, Lisette Mejia came up with a list.

  • Comes with different faces that you can customize by design; can also choose what information displays (like weather, calendar events, etc.)
  • Swipe up for Glances, which are summaries of the information you use most.
  • Use the Now Playing Glance to control your music right from your wrist.
  • Taptic Engine alerts you of notifications with a gentle tap.
  • See who’s calling and answer (and make calls) right from the watch using the built-in speaker and mic.
  • Use Digital Touch to send a sketch, a tap, or even your heartbeat to other people wearing Apple Watch
  • Get a snapshot of your all-day activity plus daily Move goals based on your previous week’s activity. The watch will also encourage you to sit less and move more.
  • Compatible with Apple Pay and Siri
  • Connect to social media and receive notifications; you can scroll through and like images on Instagram right from your wrist.
  • Lets you scan news headlines
  • Can request a ride on Uber with Apple Watch and get a notification when your car is arriving
  • Will pull your boarding pass from Passbook when you’re near the airport
  • The SPG app lets you check into your hotel and unlock your room
  • Has all-day battery life — up to 18 hours

The Right Way To Use Toilet Paper

There’s a patent for toilet paper so there must be an official way to use it. Jenny Che with the dirty details.

According to an 1891 patent by New York businessman Seth Wheeler, the end of a toilet paper roll should be on the outside, or in the “over” position. (Advocates of the “under” position, take note: better flip that roll over when you get home.)

Wheeler described the important details himself.

My invention … consists in a roll of wrapping paper with perforations on the line of the division between one sheet and the next, so as to be easily torn apart, such roll of wrapping paper forming a new article of manufacture

No word on how many plies should be used?

RIP Internet Explorer

Microsoft’s venerable, much maligned, and often hated Internet Explorer browser is about to become a footnote in the internet’s history. Dan Tynan wraps it up.

Microsoft Internet Explorer, a browser familiar to many and loved by few, passed away today after a long illness. It was 19 years old.

Bowing to the inevitable, Microsoft admitted today that it had decided to remove IE from life support. (IE will, however, continue to receive tech support through at least 2016.) IE is survived by Windows, Office, and the Microsoft Mouse.

Unfortunately, IE remains something of a zombie and will be around awhile. It’s easy to see that browsing the web would be a better experience had Microsoft adopted Google and Mozilla’s ongoing efforts to upgrade all browsers frequently.

Flight Attendants Have A Secret Language

I travel often across the U.S. to Europe and back often, and I can vouch for this piece from former flight attendant, teacher, and burlesque performer, Blissom Booblé. Here’s a sample.

Lips And Tips

A reference to a flight attendant’s matching fingernails and lipstick.

Hot Room

Otherwise known as on premise reserve, standby reserve, and “the couch,” but most accurately described as hell. The hot room at the airport is where they stick reserve flight attendants for a block of time so the airline can use them at will.

Senior Mama

An affectionate term used to describe veteran flight attendants.

My Totally Free, Almost Foolproof, Nearly Ultimate Security Plan For Mac, iPhone, And iPad

We have a right to be paranoid about personal security, what with government spooks, advertisers, and hackers from all over the world trying desperately to crack into our Macs, iPhones, and iPad, or track our every move online. Since security is such an important issue, I thought the world could benefit from Kate MacKenzie’s Totally Free, Almost Foolproof, Nearly Ultimate Security Plan For Mac, iPhone, And iPad. I hereby bequeath my plan to Apple Inc to be incorporated into future models of the aforementioned devices.

What’s the plan?

We want out devices to be secured from prying eyes and snooping snoops. We’ll let Apple continue to provide the security for iOS and OS X, but Apple could use some of what already exists in every Mac notebook, iPhone, and iPad to lock down devices from thieves, family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

Each device comes with a built-in camera, a microphone, and a keyboard. Future Macs and all iPhones and iPads will also have TouchID’s fingerprint sensor. How about if Apple combined all those items into a multi-layered security app. I’ll call it Apple Security. Clever, no?

Here’s how Apple Security would work.

First, facial recognition. Each device already has a built-in camera, so Apple could easily incorporation facial recognition into the security app. Capture a photo or movie of you staring into your Mac, iPhone, or iPad for reference. That’s the first layer.

Second, voice recognition. Each device already has a built-in microphone, so Apple could easily incorporate voice recognition into the security app. Capture your voice speaking a word or phrase that only you know. That’s the second layer, but made stronger by working with the facial recognition option.

Third, Touch ID. Except for the Mac and iPad mini, most of Apple’s popular devices (iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus) have Touch ID built in, and it’s a quick and convenient way to unlock the devices, pay for purchases, and open locked apps. Put Touch ID into every Apple product and security will increase to another level (Touch ID in an iMac or Mac Pro or Mac mini keyboard would suffice.

All three, in concert, then combined with File Vault for file level protection, would result in a very secure product.

Finally, complex but easily entered passwords. But instead of the standard digit password that’s the basis for security on iPhone and iPad, Apple could incorporate a typed word or phrase as the master password, but with multiple layers of complexity (longer passwords with symbols, upper and lower case letters; hence, more security).

All four together would provide for far greater security than we have now. Here’s a scenario. Pull out the iPhone (or, iPad, or sit down in front of your Mac), and speak the device’s name (a name you choose). The device awakens but awakens in security mode, awaiting facial recognition, Touch ID, and the right voice recognition command. Speak the security phrase while pressing the appropriate finger on Touch ID. Your device scans your face, recognizes your finger, and checks your voice. That alone could be enough to unlock the device, but if your device can sense where you are, the tougher password phrase could be incorporated, too.

See? If Apple would simply tie together all the components that already exist, The Kate Mackenzie Totally Free, Almost Foolproof, Nearly Ultimate Security Plan For Mac, iPhone, And iPad would help to secure your Apple device like never before.

Of course, nothing is completely foolproof because fools are so ingenious. Hey, wouldn’t this idea make a great Kickstarter campaign?

5 iPhone Secrets

A nice list of reminders from Zach Epstein on five things you probably didn’t know you could do on your iPhone (or, probably forgot, or, probably use all the time, or…).

If you’re an enthusiastic, tech savvy iPhone fan, the odds are pretty good that the iPhone is an open book for you. From top to bottom, all of the device’s features are like second nature to you, and you’re constantly helping friends and family discover new features on their own iPhones.

In other words, the one-percenters. Here’s the spoiler alert list.

  • Block Numbers and Mute Conversations
  • Head Gesture Controls
  • Help Siri Pronounce Names Properly
  • Show You Everywhere You’ve Been
  • Use a Physical Camera Shutter Button

‘Right To Work’ And ‘Internet Freedom’

New items to hit the news in recent weeks include so-called Right to Work laws and the Internet Freedom Act. Ryan Cooper on the former.

A major plank of the conservative agenda these days is so-called “Right to Work” laws, something Scott Walker recently passed in Wisconsin. Such a law makes it illegal for an employer and a union to enter into a contract ensuring any new employee will be automatically enrolled in the union or its dues program. Conservatives often insist that this is neither a pro- nor an anti-labor position, but merely a question of individual liberty and economic growth. Unions are okay, they say, but justice requires that people not be “coerced” into joining a union just to get a job, which hurts workers’ incomes by choking off growth.

What’s the problem with that?

Unions are already nearly dead in most of the country, and “Right to Work” is basically just stacking a couple bricks on the corpse in case Jesus happens by. But if you look at unions as a whole, especially historically, the benefits for workers are obvious and undeniable.

‘Right to Work’ also seems to mean a company can fire an employee for any reason.

What about ‘Internet Freedom?’ Jon Brodkin covers it.

US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) this week filed legislation she calls the “Internet Freedom Act” to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s new network neutrality rules.

The FCC’s neutrality rules prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling Internet traffic, prohibit prioritization of traffic in exchange for payment, and require the ISPs to disclose network management practices.

These rules “shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule in substantially the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act,” the Internet Freedom Act states.

The ‘freedom’ then has to do, not with internet access for individuals, but for internet access to be controlled by giant internet service providers, such as AT&T which provided campaign money to Blackburn.

So much for internet freedom. This seems more like freedom for large companies to buy politicians to do their bidding.

What Every Woman Needs to Know Before Shaving Her Face

From Cosmo:

On top of marrying multiple rich dudes, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor had something else in common: They both shaved their faces and had amazing skin because of it.

Uh oh. Can shaving a woman’s face be a good thing?

Dermaplaning (the clinical term for using a straight-edge-like facial razor on skin to mechanically — not chemically — exfoliate it) has many beautiful benefits, as Monroe and Taylor knew: It removes deep layers of dead skin cells thoroughly (rather than moving them around on your face as you exfoliate, which can happen with scrubs); it’s a fine exfoliation rather than gritty (think of it as wearing ice skates rather than golf shoes on an ice rink… and it gets rid of the vellus hairs (the tiny peach fuzz that covers your face) that can make your complexion look lackluster and can even contribute to clogged pores that break you out.

I gotta think about this one.

Apple Watch: What It Is. What It Is Not.

Few Apple products in the 21st century have been sliced and diced by fans and critics as much as Apple Watch. Some critics ask what seems obvious to them but not others.

What problem does it solve?

Having to ask that question says more about the critic than it does Apple. Other critics take a stand against the devices potential.

Apple Watch will be a flop.

Of course it will. Everyone knows that. Making that prediction is easy. Apple Inc. is all about that gargantuan sales machine, the iPhone. Anything that does not sell in equal numbers will be considered a flop. You know, like the iPad, which only sold 21-million units last quarter.

Total flop.

Wait. What?

Didn’t the Mac sell just over 5-million units last quarter? And wasn’t that a sales record? Perspective is reality, so if one views a product from the perspective of another– Mac vs. iPhone– then one is a success and the other a failure. Watch will not be a failure, both because of what it is, and what it is not, but also for what it may become.

First, Watch won’t sell in numbers that approach the iPhone’s success. Get over it. That won’t happen. Second, Watch will sell in numbers sufficient to make it the most profitable watch line on the earth. Finally, the future isn’t that far away and it’s likely that Watch will take more and more functionality away from the iPhone, just as the iPhone and iPad took functions away from Macs and Windows PCs.

Apple Watch is a watch. But it’s also Apple’s most complicated product. Complicated? People will buy it for different reasons. Watch is ornamental; a luxury item for some, a fitness tracking device for others, a health monitor for a few, and a way to keep the iPhone in your pocket or purse or bag or backpack when you need it most, but it’s inconvenient to find it and use.

Simply put, Apple Watch is an incredibly convenient device; an easy way to keep in touch without whipping out the iPhone; to glance at messages, to receive alerts, alarms, and notifications in the most discrete way possible, to buy without doing much more than waving a wrist in the air, to talk or listen and respond with efficient ease. Watch is a more convenient window to everything the iPhone does, without the usual and cumbersome locate, unlock, find, read, use, respond tied to the iPhone itself.

The original iPhone was described as a Mac in your pocket; a powerful computing and communication device that was fully mobile, obvious in its capabilities, worthy of praise and usage from the masses. Apple Watch can be described as your iPhone on your wrist, a device taking over many of the same functions, yet in a stylish, visual, incredibly convenient way. Over the next four or five years we’ll see more app functions move from the iPhone to Apple Watch.

My only complaint with everything I’ve seen of Watch to date is the product life cycle, which I suspect will be more like iPad and Mac than iPhone. That explains why most Watch models are priced well under $1,000 except the luxury versions which can easily exceed $10,000, and for those customers a product life cycle of a few years is meaningless.

There’s no flop in Apple Watch. It’s the future of the iPhone.

New Apple Watch Coming This Fall?

So says one of the more accurate Apple analysts, Ming-Chi Kuo. Neil Hughes dishes the deal.

Kuo said he expects at least one, but as many as three, new casings to go into production in the fourth quarter of calendar 2015. Those new models, he said, could debut as soon as this fall.

How about a round case to match the rectangular Apple Watch case, with with the same set of watch bands (already very complicated)?

The rumor comes on the heels of a separate report which indicated that Apple experimented with platinum casings for the Apple Watch. Platinum watches can often sell for triple the price of gold ones, which would make such a model even more premium than the $10,000-and-up Apple Watch Edition announced this week.

Uh huh. Sure. And why not white gold, titanium, ceramic, carbon fiber, or whatever else watches are made of these days. That would make Apple Watch an inventory nightmare. Ming-Chi Kuo’s track record for predictions is better than most.

No One Is Buying Amazon’s Fire Tablets

Shocker. So, it’s not just Apple that is having trouble pushing tablets in an era when smartphone phablets are almost as big and do more? Sam Mattera explains why.

Amazon was still the world’s fifth-largest tablet vendor in the fourth quarter, according to IDC, shipping 1.7 million tablets. That’s down significantly from the same period last year, when Amazon shipped 5.8 million tablets. To make matters worse, the next largest tablet vendor, Asus, shipped almost twice as many (3 million).

Poor Apple. They only shipped 21-million iPads last quarter.

Amazon’s early success with its Fire tablets appears to have been predicated almost entirely on the fact that it was first to market with a cheap device — when it unveiled the original Kindle Fire in 2011, there was no iPad Mini, and the few Android tablets that were out there were barely competitive. The competition has clearly caught up, and though Amazon has made vast improvements to its own devices, it obviously hasn’t had the desired effect.

Tablets have a place, but there isn’t much more a company can do to make them more compelling. They last for years. There’s not much there but a screen to apps or websites. And they can’t do the heavy lifting still required of notebooks and desktop PCs, even with a keyboard.

The Website Walmart Hates

The company that many people love to hate found a website it loves to hate. It’s called walmart.horse. Hayley Peterson with the details:

Wal-Mart is specifically upset over the website’s domain name — www.walmart.horse — according to the site’s creator, Jeph Jacques.

On his personal website, Jacques says the company sent him a cease-and-desist letter accusing him of trademark infringement for using Wal-Mart’s name in the URL.

It’s difficult not to find this kind of parody amusing, and therein lies the issue. Parody.

walmart.horse

Walmart’s official response to what is obviously a parody (Walmart won’t win this)?

“You have registered, without Walmart’s permission or authorization, the domain name(s) ‘walmart.horse,'” the letter says, according to Jacques. “The Domain Name incorporates the well known Walmart mark in its entirety, and, by its very composition, suggests Walmart’s sponsorship or endorsement of your website and correspondingly, your activities.”

The letter orders Jacques to immediately stop using the domain name.

In a response to the letter, Jacques argued that the website was an “obvious parody” and fell under fair use.

The question I have is why is there a top level domain .horse?

Fox News And Bill O’Reilly

Sophia A. McClennen on an issue near and dear to my heart. Accuracy in news. Or, rather, lack of it.

Much has been made in the last few weeks of the factual nature of the news. Amidst allegations that NBC News anchor Brian Williams was less than accurate in claims about his experiences in Iraq, we now have an emerging controversy over the repeated lies of Bill O’Reilly. But the real story here is not just the decline of truth telling in television news, it’s the way that the truth has been replaced by fear.

Fear? What do Americans fear? Poor economy? Old age? Fall from power?

Rather than offer viewers accurate information, TV news increasingly depends on developing a fearful audience. As Psychology Today notes, “Fear-based news stories prey on the anxieties we all have and then hold us hostage.” O’Reilly, for instance, tells viewers that they have much to fear, that the world is filled with evil, and then offers personal stories that suggest he has unique insights into the way that violence operates in the world. Again, to quote Psychology Today, “[t]he success of fear-based news relies on presenting dramatic anecdotes in place of scientific evidence, promoting isolated events as trends, depicting categories of people as dangerous and replacing optimism with fatalistic thinking.”

People who are fearful fell disadvantaged and seek out simple solutions to complex problems. Among others, Fox News doesn’t help set the record straight but the network is not alone is fear-mongering.

A Few Words On The Apple Unicorn

Monday was a good day for Apple. The company introduced a number of new products, lowered the price of Apple TV and added a bit more content, announced prices for the long-awaited Apple Watch, and even ‘reinvented the notebook‘ if you don’t mind stretching the word ‘reinvent‘ beyond what a notebook is and remains, and despite Apple’s latest and greatest improvements.

Apple TV costs less but does more, but not much more unless you’re truly in love with HBO Now and are willing to cough up $14.99 a month to get it. Now. Otherwise, nothing new on the Apple TV front.

Apple Watch watchers got what they expected, but maybe not what they were prepared for, and it won’t matter anyway as those who can afford a $17,000 gold Watch Edition are not likely worried that the device (not the gold) will be outdated in five years. Apple Watch starts at $349 for the smaller 38mm version, ostensibly for women who prefer smaller watches, so I worry that Apple might be profiting from the differences in anatomy between men and women. Many other Watch models move the price tag toward $1,000 rather quickly, but that seems to be a small price to pay for the smartest of smartwatches which Apple refuses to call a smartwatch.

What about the Apple unicorn?

Unicorn? You know, a product that everyone envisions, that many of us want and would stand in line to buy, but one which Apple is unlikely to make.

On the list of Apple unicorns is a less expensive iPhone, a less expensive Mac, a 12-inch iPad, and a driverless electric car. Add this to the official Apple unicorn list. The MacPad.

Apple’s latest Mac fits between the entry-level 11-inch MacBook Air notebook, starting at $899, and the 15-inch but powerful MacBook Pro which can top out over $3,000. The new MacBook starts at $1,299 and comes with less than the MacBook Pro and less than the MacBook Air.

You get less, but you pay more. Yes, Apple’s still got it.

Alright, back to the newest unicorn, the MacPad. The MacBook model is so thin and light it might as well have an iPad instead of a Retina display. Think about it. A 12-inch iPad, ultra thin, with Retina screen and everything about it that screams iPad, but as the detachable display for a thinner, lighter MacBook.

The MacPad Unicorn model would be the best of both worlds. Small and thing and light; just like the new MacBook. Yet, detach the screen and you get a big iPad. Attach the screen, and the screen becomes a Mac with OS X.

How is that not just like a unicorn?

And Now, New Adapters

When will our cable and adapter nightmare every end? Answer. It won’t. John Callahan tells the story about USB-C adapters coming to the new MacBook which features a single connector to handle battery, USB, and video out.

(Apple) shows both a USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter and a USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, priced at $79 each.The VGA adapter also has a standard USB port for connecting more devices along with a port for a charging cable to power the new MacBook. The Digital AV adapter has both the USB and charging ports along with an HDMI port for connecting the MacBook to a large television… Apple has also listed a Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter for $49 and a two meter USB-C Charge Cable for $29. Finally, it shows a USB-C to USB Adapter for $19. Apple does not list a USB-C to Thunderbolt adapter on its store page. None of these accessories are actually on sale yet.

Advancing the state of the art results in some uncomfortable cruft. More cables, cords, and adapters.

On Respecting Apple

Jim Dalrymple on Apple’s new ResearchKit, introduced during Monday’s ‘Spring Forward’ event. Name another technology gadget company that does this.

ResearchKit is a software framework that allows doctors and researchers to gather data more frequently and accurately than ever before. It’s a way for those people to help find the causes and cures for the diseases that haunt humanity.

As I sat listening to Jeff Williams talk about ResearchKit, I thought to myself, this is why I love Apple—they care. They don’t just talk the talk and put out press releases about massive donations they make to charities, they are actually making a difference and putting the power of the most successful company in the world behind what they say.

ResearchKit benefits Apple, yes, but the company made the project open source so everyone benefits, regardless of device.

What You Wouldn’t Like About An iPhone With More Battery Life

I’m not going to grumble about my iPhone 6 Plus battery life. I can get two to three days with average use, and more than a full day with crazy heavy use (calls, FaceTime, games, photos and movies). Apparently if the iPhone had better battery life then we wouldn’t like it as much. Liam Tung explains.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Ive makes no excuses for building a device that keeps you tethered to the wall sockets. Instead, he believes if you’re recharging your iPhone frequently, he’s succeeded in making a “compelling” device. The way Ive sees it, the reason people love using their iPhone is because it’s so thin and light and therefore the battery gets depleted frequently.

If Apple upped the battery life, the device would be chunkier and people would love it less, Ive told the FT, despite the fact they’d need to charge it less.

On the flip side, if the iPhone stayed the same design but had better battery life would we love it more?

Can Samsung Galaxy S6 Win Back iPhone 6 Users?

Let me invoke the MacKenzie Law of Headlines on Computerworld. If a headline ends in a question mark, then the answer is ‘no.’ It’s just that simple of a rule and it works most of the time.

Here’s what James Henderson wrote.

With the S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung is directly attempting to win back iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users – and looks likely to succeed.

First, the statement itself is ludicrous and assumes that Samsung’s disappointing Galaxy S5 sales were the result of Apple’s success with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Galaxy S5 sales were hurting long before Apple introduced the iPhone 6 line.

Second, the premise is false because it’s unlikely that iPhone 6 and 6 Plus customers are going to dump their new iPhones and rush over to a new Samsung model that more closely mimics Apple’s iPhone line than ever before.

Finally, Henderson does not seem to understand that differentiation is key to a product’s success and the new Galaxy S6 is anything but different than an iPhone 6. The Galaxy S6 is more like an iPhone than any previous Samsung smartphone.

Samsung took out the microSD card, took out the removable battery, took out a bunch of crapware apps of nominal value, added a fingerprint ID sensor much like iPhone, smoothed the rounded edges, and in a failed attempt to flatter Apple’s designers and woo customers away from iPhone or back to Galaxy, made the S6 look much like an iPhone with a Samsung logo on top.

Here’s the problem and why neither iPhone 6 customers nor other Android smartphone customers will flock to the Galaxy S6 line the way customers have lapped up Apple’s iPhone 6 line. Samsung hasn’t figured out the basics of product marketing and branding.

The Galaxy line still runs Android OS, just exactly like the cheapest plastic smartphone knockoffs. Why spend $600 for an expensive Samsung when Brand X costs $100 and runs much the same software. Also, Apple is known as a premium brand and never dilutes that brand by selling inexpensive products to compete against the low end of the product spectrum.

It’s much like what happened to Volkswagen’s expensive Phaeton, a luxury model which VW dubbed their ‘premium class‘ vehicle (a friend who works with my father bought one; he loved it but wouldn’t buy another. Why not? It’s a Volkswagen). The Phaeton didn’t sell too well because people don’t want to spend the same money on a Volkswagen as a Mercedes.

If Samsung wants to be a player in the premium space and compete against Apple’s iPhone line, then it needs to build a better phone than Apple builds, and sell it at the same price, or build exactly the same level of quality and capability into the phone and sell it for much less.

By summer you’ll be able to buy two Samsung Galaxy S6 phones for the price of one. Sure. That’s success.

Apple Maps Alert

Zac Hall with details on an Apple patent that notifies you when the cell phone signal is weak.

The USPTO awarded Apple with a patent to analyze routes between two locations and “employ an algorithm that considers wireless network signal strengths along those routes.”

In other words, because your iPhone can collect and measure cellular signal data and many iPhone users anonymously share travel data with Apple, there’s potential for Maps to know which routes problematically contain dead zones and suggest lengthier routes with better signal.

That could come in handy in the city where bandwidth and connectivity vary within a block.