Posted tagged ‘Apple’

The Sovereign Republic of Apple

July 28, 2015

I have a profound admiration for Peter Thiel. There are a large number of brilliant thinkers walking the planet today. Peter Thiel, in my mind, is among them.

So, as the USA Freedom Act spins up and the Patriot Act spins apart and companies such as Apple plant their feet firmly, and rightly so in my mind, in the “strong encryption IS privacy” camp… I can’t help but pondering the societal tug of war going on when an AHA! moment hits. If corporations are people…

What if Apple Became a Country?

ala something like Seasteading which Peter Thiel has given considerable thought. Look at it on a couple merits.

  • Apple, as a country, has something like the 10th largest economy in the world.
  • AAPL could repatriate it’s own cash without the tax hit and reinvest in itself on its own tax terms.
  • Apple could…………………… (fill in the blank)

It’s a really wacky idea. Granted. And then there’s all that political baloney that comes with. But, a NEW country, founded on doing the right thing and iterating and deprecating laws like old, inefficient code. A concept like that certainly has appeal to me. Do countries even have to have soil any longer? The definition of so many things are being reframed that I wonder if the concept of a “border” is due for a change. Some Californians want to see a redrawing of their boundaries such that California becomes multiple new states. Interesting. Why couldn’t one of them be the Sovereign Republic of Apple? Yes, I know, it might be a different country surrounded by… The U.S. on all sides. The Vatican is a country. It’s surrounded on all sides by Italy. But, then, people might say, who would recognize Apple internationally? It wouldn’t be part of the U.N.! So, England isn’t part of the U.N. Either is Ireland or Scotland. The U.K. is. But, those countries are not.

See, what constitutes a country to many really… doesn’t matter. What matters is a modicum of international recognition and a declaration of independence. A governing law and a geopolitical boundary. My contention is “the ground” bit. How MUCH ground is necessary? Could the privately owned Apple Campus be declared “the ground”? How about an uncontested patch of dirt on Luna (our lunar neighbor)? Why do we HAVE to have a boundary? Nowhere does it say we have to have a capital city.

For a company that prides itself on Thinking Differently, I wonder if our buddies at Apple have ever thought of creating a new country of their own?

 

Apple Watch Upgrade Path?

June 3, 2015

I had the bright idea to stand in line to get the first gen iPhone. That device was magical (sort of) in an initial sort of way. Pull that phone out now and hold it up to an iPhone 6. The magic is gone pretty much upon startup.

But, I’ve since bought just about every version of the iPhone up to the 4S which is where I stopped being so eager to lap up everything. The pace of annual updates had picked up. I soured on spending so much on two year contracts and being bound to a specific carrier and their particular stupidity. So, I have a 4 and 4S on pay-as-you-go plans with a carrier that has really reliable service in my home town. I was content until last night.

The Apple Watch has me wanting to re-up. (And there’s the key for Apple.) It would be a pricey step up to say the least. I’d not only have to abandon my 4S, but I’d nearly have to commit to a 6 or 6+ (unlocked, off contract) and buy a Watch.

And for what?

Do I really want to send little drawings to anyone? No. My heartbeat? Nope. Are there any “can’t live without apps yet?” Um, no. Then why on earth would I want to just chuck all that dough out the window for a gen 1 product? Again!

I don’t have a good answer.

That’s about the most ridiculous thing I could have said. But, it’s precisely the answer. I’m not even interested in the Sports version. I’m more interested in the experience. I liken it to my going to the top of the World Trade Center in 1981. I was there. It was there. We hooked up and I had a great view for an afternoon.

Is this what Apple has become? Less a device maker. More of a desire maker? An experience.

The Swatch watch I have is about the size and heft of an Apple Watch. It has a good number of complications, a swanky faux leather wristband and a kick ass dial. I love that watch. Guess what? I don’t wear it except when I’m “going out”. I don’t wear it at work. I do wear it to work, though. I don’t wear it around the house. It’s a true accessory.

However, I can tell you I’m tired of my phone being such a large (physically and metaphorically) distraction. I do like the promise of being able to trim down the distractions of the day. Can a first gen product deliver on that?

Upgrades Concern Me

Like I said, I’ve bought a lot of Apple iPhones and iPads. AAPL likes that. AAPL thrives on precisely that.

But, I don’t want to buy a Watch 2s or a Watch 6s years down the line any more than I want to replace my Swatch.

So, what is the upgrade path? Is it like Tesla’s sedans and it’s going to be on the software updates for a good long period? The upgradeable car has a nice allure to it. That doesn’t jibe with the APPL year-over-year need for predictably innovative/lucrative product cycles, though.

How does this Apple Watch thing play out as a product line over the years? Because I don’t really want to buy this one and then find out next year they’ve added iSight and FaceTime hardware or Thuderbolt or some sort of wet neural networking that gen one can’t get. But, you know what? I don’t think most people think that way. It’s priced low enough (as Apple’s Items of Desire go) that things will turn out okay for Apple.

I suppose WWDC will be particularly interesting this year. Still, I wrestle with the whole first gen commitment and how long the danged thing will be relevant. What’s it’s lifespan? When does Apple stop supporting Gen One? These are the things blocking me… a (weary) early adopter.

GASP! Tim Cook is human!?

October 30, 2014

Who the hell coulda guessed THAT!? Tim Cook just came right out in front of God and everyone and admitted he’s… human!

Welcome to the party Mr. Cook. We proudly admit you to the human race. We accept your (misplaced) fondness of Auburn football. You must be one helluvan uncle. And furthermore, what you do with your private moments is your’s (not our’s). Keep doing what you do so well: inspiring us to be the best we can be in all our endeavors. We’re rooting for you and the company you love as dearly as we do.

“I Only See My Wrist”

October 22, 2014

Colbert surely twisted the shiv in Cook’s gut with that one. “I Only See My Wrist.” That was the money quote that day. Classic Colbert.

Yes, yes: Everyone’s waiting and anticipating the Apple Watch. Except, maybe, me. I do so enjoy being the odd one in the bunch.

I’ve played the latest Apple keynote through three times + the iPad Air 2 intro video this morning. I’m still perplexed at how the Watch fits in.

If THIS is Apple’s answer for the TV remote I’m not sold. Yet. I reserve the right to be sold later. But, just now, I’m not buying.

The Apple TV IS the undisputed battleground of tomorrow and Google, Microsoft, Amazon, everybody is going to be vying for the choice spot at the digital nucleus of the family. It simply makes a ton of sense.

In my house, Apple’s already won that battle. They don’t need to fight for the right to be my remote (I keep finding the damn things in my couch!). How many of those have I purchased as a replacement only to find it later? I AM looking forward to the day Apple gets it’s head out of the clouds and unveils the potential of the Apple TV: home security, home automation, home communication, home entertainment… Hell, Apple HOME right?

So, while Apple TV is coined a “fascination” of Cooks and technically a “hobby” of Apple’s… Why is Apple Watch being billed as something entirely Full Born? Shouldn’t Apple Watch be at the Hobby 1.0 stage? No? Hmmm. So, I’m left scratching my noggin wondering if Apple TV is going to be rechristened as something entirely different at some point. And billing it as something less than what it is to become is distasteful to Tim Cook. Possibly. I wonder if Apple TV will simply be discontinued. We consume so stinking much content on our iPads these days don’t we? It’s intimate. It’s personal. It’s a private window into whatever is going on. Five people can be watching five different things. AirPlay bridges the sharing gap nicely (Kudos Apple! Nailed that one). So, Apple TV doesn’t need Watch to make it a complete product. Apple TV needs a better interface and a better solution for content access. And, perhaps THAT is the rub. Apple TV is a “hobby” until Apple can perfect the user experience. Maybe they feel they have the Watch 1.0 experience pretty nicely tailored. At least well enough to warrant “non-hobby” status. I could hop on board if that’s the rationale.

Apple TV could be so much better. So much nicer. If Apple IS about a delightful experience, Apple TV falls short of their expectations and deserves the arm’s length relationship it has with mothership Apple.

REVIEW: My First 5 Minutes with OS X Yosemite

October 18, 2014

Holy Caw! This beast is… SLEEK.

I didn’t think I would like the non-skeumorphic icons. I’m not crazy about them on iOS. Yosemite will probably carry me over that hump.

Right off the bat I was concerned about app compatibility. We’ve all been stung by that with these updates. Yet, here it is 30 minutes in. I’ve launched all my go-to apps and I only have 8 requiring update via Software Update. Yet, they launch fine, docs open, save, reopen. Try THAT Windows!

I’ll run Yosemite for a while on this production machine before I take anything else past Maverick. But, there’s plenty of reason to appreciate the polish Apple has applied to this latest version of OS X.

First impression of the UI is the login screen after installation. That’s a really nice “Hello”. Very subtle. Very beautiful. Very elegant. Very… Jonny Ive (honestly).

Next, and particularly impressive, is Safari. I’ve nearly exclusively moved over to Chrome (and Firefox for one very specific site cpanel). Safari hasn’t factored for a long time in my daily use except on iOS. Th new OS X Safari *may* lure me back across the aisle. Realistically, I doubt that… I have too much configuration invested in Chrome at this point to really seriously a permanent move. Kudos to Apple for getting their browser tight and right though. (fwiw, I still miss RSS)

There are so many fresh new nooks and crannies to explore. I’m genuinely looking forward to this one. Those who know me well, know I just plunge into these updates with a reckless pursuit to see what’s waiting on the other side and know the price for that will (usually) be picking up the broken pieces of busted apps and such. And, usually, that’s apparent within the first thirty minutes. Judging by the stability, ease of migration and lack of core apps misbehaving I have to say right now, barely 10 minutes in this is going to be one of the easiest updates I’ve been through of all the OS X releases. It does make me wonder what Yosemite Server must be like. That hasn’t happened in a long time. Which also makes me wonder about ZFS implementation (or lack of) in Yosemite. More on that later if there’s anything to pass along. A boy can hope 🙂

Macs + Airsoft = An FPS Game

February 2, 2014

The craze among kids these days is Airsoft. Once the kids start blogging about Airsoft… it’s either on the rise or it’s jumped the shark. (Hint: it’s too early to have jumped the shark).

So, I’m trying to mashup my love for the Mac platform, my love for tinkering and coding and mash all that up with FPS and MMO gaming. I’ve found an FPS platform I think may be able to accommodate all of the above…

It’s been a long time since I “wrote” a game from the ground up. Think it was a move-based-game back in 1985’ish with my friends Russell and Erik. We banged it out over a weekend on a TRS-80 and wrote it in BASIC. Forget how many lines of code we laid out, it was a lot more than anything else we’d taken on before. It wasn’t what I’d call a shippable product. But, it was a more-than-solid beta with pixel collision detection (easy), variables for terrain “encumberances” – which simply meant groups moved slower across bogs and mountains than in flat terrain or ships on water. We even took a crack at group vs. group combat rules as I recall. It was an algorithmic attempt at allowing for large scale combative encounters.

The whole thing was somewhere between a digital Penté and World of Greyhawk. And now I’m about to be up to something equally entertaining.

Streaming Christmas Music (iTunes)

December 22, 2012

Apple could stand a better search interface for searching their “radio” streams in both iTunes and especially in AppleTV.

So, Merry Christmas from me to you… I’ve found a good number of the streams from within the various iTunes radio categories just for you conveniently linked below:

Snow FM Ireland (classic Christmas oldies, 128 kbps)
Classical 24/7 (classical instrumental Christmas muzak)
Big R Radio Christmas Classics (eclectic Christmas mix, 128 kbps)
Fresh Christmas (hodge podge of Christmas “hits”, 64 kbps)
Got Radio – Christmas Celebration (all-over-the-place XMas music, 64 kbps)
1.FM TM – Always Christmas (From around the world, 64 kbps)
Christmas – Sky.fm – (roll of the dice, ?? kbps)

These might work fine on iPhone and iPad (or not). I haven’t checked them yet. I have no clue how to get these “bookmarked” on AppleTV (don’t get me started on that line of griping). And, if I manage to get back to this post I may be able to add a few more before Santa’s big globe trotting spree.

Enjoy!

The New Apple TV Project

December 12, 2012

Apple’s always working to where “the puck is GOING to be” and so it should be no surprise they feel TV is next.

The iPhone wasn’t fully formed at birth. I don’t think we should expect the next-gen TV experience from Apple to be any different. So, when Engadget’s Lawler contemplates his navel over HDTV content deals… I can’t help but chuckle. We’ve been here before. He’ll, AC/DC is only just now joining iTunes. The Beatles didn’t come on until recently. Who the hell cares if Moonves is on board right this moment? Seriously!

We are very much headed toward a more tailored entertainment era. One where I can subscribe ala carte to whatever I want to consume. Radio. Books. Games. Video. I build what I see value in and then… Voila!

We’ve already chucked out Cox Cable. We are a purely AppleTV household. Apple, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube are our primary content portals now. We haven’t missed a beat. If anything we’re enjoying MORE of what we like in a time shifted kind of way. I don’t miss DVR. I don’t miss the cable bill and all the dumb ass fees that came along with.

My kids will never know a rotary phone or a tape based answering machine. They WILL think back on the day when we had that little box attached to the TV dad used to cuss at occasionally as a relic of days gone by. A simpler time. Funny to think in those terms.

They won’t give a rat’s behind if CBS was on board or not. There’s no shortage of content and its only going to get more crowded.

Where the problem is going to come is easily searching across all the available “streams”. It’s a serious pain in the ass to simultaneously search across Apple, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube on an Apple TV. I think it’s not possible today. So, to hear Jobs say, “We’ve nailed it.” Gives me hope their next big iteration of the interface addresses that sort of thing.

HOW TO: Grabbing Mac App Icons

December 9, 2012

There are a number of reasons to want a Mac App icon. Maybe you want to create a how-to document for a class. Maybe you want to customize a folder icon on your desktop. Maybe you want to create a header for a blog (like the one above). Who knows why you’d want the icons. There are a couple ways to do what you’re wanting to do though. I’m assuming you have OSX 10.5 or better.

To change a Mac folder (or document icon)

1) In the Finder, click ONCE on the document or folder icon you want to copy.
2) Press cmd-i (for “get info”). An informational window should appear.
3) In this new informational window click ONCE on the icon you want to copy.
3) Press cmd-c (to “copy” the image to your clipboard).

Halfway there!

4) Close the informational window and click ONCE on the document or folder you want to change.
5) Press cmd-i. The familiar informational window should appear.
6) Click ONCE on the icon you want to change.
7) Press cmd-v (to “paste” the image from your clipboard).

The nice thing about this approach is if the SOURCE image has transparent spots (also known as an alpha channel) in it… it will carry through to the TARGET file/folder icon. If you already have an image on your clipboard you can simply follow the second half of the instructions above and voila!

Copying App Icons Into Photoshop Layers

There are times when you may want to create a picture with a clean icon in it. Copying and pasting the “get info” icon doesn’t quite cut it for Photoshop. Yes, the icon gets copied. Yes, you can paste it. But the alpha channel gets lost and your icon comes through with a white background on the same layer as the icon you wanted. That may not quite be what we intended. Not to worry though. There is a better way.

FYI: I’m using Photoshop CS5 and think this applies to older and newer versions but reserve the right to be wrong 🙂 This is a little more involved of a process. The steps below are pretty straight forward. But, the video may be easier to follow for some. [Video added after the original posting] This procedure is for copying an APPLICATION ICON for use in an image editing app.

1) In the FINDER ctrl-click on the icon you want to copy. A contextual menu will pop up. Select “Show Package Contents”
2) A new folder will open and depending on the app you’ll see a “Contents” folder and maybe some others.
3) Open the “Contents” folder.
4) Inside that you’ll see a few more files. One of them will be a .icns file. Usually the one you’ll want is your App name + the icns suffix. For example: iDVD.icns
5) Open the .icns file with something like Preview.
6) There may be multiple “pages” to the icns file. Select the first page’s thumbnail.
7) Select “Export” from the FILE menu.
8) The format you want to export as is PNG and you definitely want the Alpha channel checked. Save it where you want and named as you like.
9) Now, simply open that file in your image editor.

You now have a super high resolution app icon with exceptionally crisp edges. Yes, you could have achieved something acceptably close with some of the image editing tools. But, this way you have edges every bit as good as the app author is using for their own purposes.

iCloud VIP list broken?

December 9, 2012

iCloud’s VIP lists seems to be malfunctioning or at the very least working in some cases and not others.

Web-based iCloud mail isn’t showing the last month or so of a certain VIP. Though my iPhone (latest rev of iOS) displays my VIP lists her properly. For reference this seems to only display properly on web back to early November. Then nothing in VIP newer than that displays correctly.

I’ve turned off all my rules based settings at iCloud.com.

I’ve double checked my iCloud contacts are set properly on iPhone settings.

I’ve removed all my VIPs and added them back slowly.

Nothing seems to have improved the iCloud VIP situation on the web-view of my email.

Any thoughts out there?