Apple’s MapGate: Fallout

The person in charge at Apple for their latest iteration of Maps has been let go as per This Story, but there is still a long way to go until “Maps” is ready in my opinion. Here is my first-hand account of using maps, when compared to many others, of which I’ll be posing a comparative later this week or early next week about several mapping apps.

First, folks complained about [Apple Maps] 3D version being all screwed up, and I mean yeah, those kinds of things suck, but I’ve had a lot of problems where I expect maps to be able to tell me and it hasn’t been working. In the field, like in Manhattan, there are *tons* of problems (Penn Plaza anyone?) and in NJ while looking for a gas station, or something like it, has been a huge pain. i.e. BP is a gas station, and a business. Looking for corporate headquarters told me it was a gas station, while the gas station was in-fact the headquarters. Trying to meet someone for a meeting when time is tight has caused me some hair-raising moments with regard to timeliness.

Simple, stupid, blatant issues like these, of which there are tens of thousands at least, (look how long google has been at it and there are still mistakes), not to mention in NYC you no longer have the subway schedules, in NJ no more NJT schedules(sometimes, depends on the day 😉 ), poor directions for walking versus driving, lack of efficiencies (telling you to drive up 3 miles to find someplace to turn around to come back almost 3 miles to the “correct side of the highway” so you can go the right way when you could’ve gone .1 mile south and done the same thing.)

I’ve been giving it a fair shot and driving on major roads has been fine, but it’s going to all those places not on the main strip that tends to suck and when you sold however many *million* phones, you have that many users with a potentially crappy situation where maps is concerned. At the very least a huge embarrassment for Apple, at the worst lost mind share for the quality they hold dear resulting in lost customers or revenue streams from partners.

When you look at the immediate impact they have by rolling out a sub-standard maps application like they did there are very real business implications from reputation to valuation and that is why Williamson was let go, not just that “maps sucked too bad.”

It’s because of these issues I still have 3 other mapping tools on my iphone and 4 if you count google maps web link!


FaceTime on unlimited

FaceTime over cellular has long been a sticking point for many of us on AT&T but as of the last few days there appears to be some sort of lift on the ban they had previously held. Reports have been coming in from several sources around the Internet. Here is one example, a tweet by @macrumors:

@MacRumors: AT&T Seems to Be Extending FaceTime-Over-Cellular to All Customers

I myself have tested this on my iPhone 5 on AT&T and it works after a reboot and you must be on ios6.0.1 or higher!

Update: while this was working yesterday, this feature is again restricted today. That’s either really stupid or just sad. Anyone else see it work and disapear?

Why multi-booting Android on PCs is wrong headed.

The Android operating system has a lot going for it and has become a very useful player on the mobile device landscape. With recent advances leading up to the 3.0 (honeycomb) version, the OS has been able to go from it’s simpler, sometimes shoe-horned type of one size fits all, into a one size that fits all because it is truly meant to, sort of.

Now that 3.0 has arrived, and has finally been delivered to consumers on tablets, phones, and other interesting mobile devices, many companies are even suggesting it should boot on PCs too. This is truly a mistake. It’s fine for hobbyists to have access to the OS to boot on their PCs, but it would be much the same to dual-boot, say … WebOS on a PC. Really kind of pointless except for marketers at these companies to say “we have our own flavor of Android or some OS and it comes with every PC we sell.” It’s a good marketing game, but in the end it offers no true benefit to consumers as nothing has changed with the delivery of this OS except more pre-used space on a bundled PC from a branded PC maker.

Adding touch capabilities definitely makes Android 3.0 much better and up to date, as well as all the other speed, graphics, and many other optimizations, like increased hardware support, etc. that this new version offers. So you’d think that dual booting in a touch screen PC like the HP TouchSmart might make at least a little more sense. Personally I still say no, not even for the recently acquired WebOS.

The reason I’m saying this is wrong is very simple indeed, and it comes down to one word: Revolution

The addition of such OSes is just that. Extra. Fluff. Flab. Superfluous. Much like our appendix has been considered in our bodies, overall doesn’t make much sense, causes us problems if it gets messed up, and ultimately has to be removed if it does cause problems. Dual booting PCs to the other OS that customers didn’t order will surely expose them to it, but the problem is are we exposing them much like those who ride on a packed subway car near someone with the flu or like our children when we take them to a museum and provide a lot of explanation and hand holding.

Adding another OS to the PC landscape is a great idea, but an idea which has surely been rushed. Consumers and PC makers will both have to make an adjustment to the OS once this starts happening, but if it fails in the slightest, this type of integration will be viewed as a failure the same that most of us still run Windows and Mac OS today, and not Linux. That’s not to say that North America doesn’t have a pretty large base of Linux desktops. But the average consumer will stick with familiarity and ease of use, often one in the same.

So what can these companies do to get it right? I think it’s simple, but I’ll say it here: Start a revolution. Don’t just say how cool this OS is, or what it can do, but use that old Apple motto to seize the opportunity and “think different.” Go another direction and actually innovate, invent, and discover things that you can offer to people to make our lives easier. Not this “add a different topping on the same sandwich” approach and call it better or disguise it as choice. It isn’t. I don’t usually rant too much about this kind of stuff, but like so many example before, we live in a time when there is another opportunity to change how people that use computers and devices think or how those that don’t might be enticed to. Alternatively those people will change anyway and these companies will be left behind trying to catch up, a decade later.

The ball is now in your court HP, DELL, IBM, SAMSUNG, MOTOROLA, and the countless others out ere trying this approach. Bring real changes, or the world will change without you.

[UPDATE] Mac Office 2011 SP1 not installing on some systems?

It appears that some installations of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 are either bitten by a bug, or the SP1 installer is faulty in that both the DMG and the auto-update versions fail to install stating the proper software was not found for updating. I attempted this on an iMac and hackintosh pc with 10.6.3 and 10.6.7 with the same result. I have previously updated Office 2011 without issue, but this SP1 seems to be broken. Has anyone else experienced this?

[Update 1]

I found this very (un)-helpful link that also shows this is happening to others:

Look Here: Implementing the cloud – what not to do.

Over the course of the last couple of years I have been looking into finding the right way to use “The Cloud” and have had the pleasure to be entertained in a small way at least, to watch everyone approach an idea as broad, dynamic, and vaporous (pun intended) as “the cloud.”
For example, Microsoft wants you to ink that the cloud is this *place* you go to do things with stuff, much like one commercial depicting a more trying to get a good picture of her semi-dystopian family by taking lots of them, going to the cloud, and in a few clicks, the image looks as she had envisioned. This is something that someone any tech savvy could accomplish with Adobe Photoshop Elements. Another ad shows a stressed couple whose flight is delayed and by accessing ‘the cloud’ again, they are able to watch recorded tv. Something that Time Warner Cable customers can do today on their iPads, but even better, they can stream some content live. So again, the concept of the ‘cloud’ is being overloaded in these contexts.

So why is any of this “not” the cloud? Well, I for one believe a true cloud must have the following elements:
1. Always on, resilient, uninterruptible and virtually unlimited storage capacity which allows the capability to share, retrieve, backup and access stored data anywhere on ANY device that has an internet connection.
2. Capacity to interface any application, on any device to multiple storage paradigms. ( block level, object based, file based, etc) with the seamless ability to share/unshare with unlimited specificity to any device, anywhere, so long as it is Internet connected.
3. Capacity to not only interface said applications, but to move and run applications into and out of e cloud as needed depending on user feeling, requirement, or automated profile preference.
4. The ability to automatically and manually create profiles which help determine the intelligent storage processors how applications should be treated as far as streaming, run from the cloud, mounted like a filesystem, added to like a directory, treated as a bulk file to be downloaded and decompressed then run, and by whom, on which device, etc.

#4 is crucial because this type of automated profile will seamlessly enable preferences that users of devices will be allowed to take for granted, and thus, do not have to posses specific knowledge aside from perhaps a password. Grouping of these profiles to like devices between family members (grand parents, etc) would extend the ease and simplicity with which this data is accessed.

5. No one should have to know *how* to access the ‘cloud’ or specific ‘services’ to be useful, as much as smart devices, mobile devices, etc are “always on” the cloud is accessible in the same way. Likewise all current operating systems would have to be enabled with this functionality to extend their usefulness, or be alloed to use new smart cloud enabled devices as a gateway. Remember, accessible all the time.

Failing to meet any of these paradigms in some form will just fracture the fragile cloud model and the ultimate usefulness of what the cloud “could” be is immediately undermined.

Comparison: Apple TV (2010) vs Roku HD-XR TV Media Players

This piece is for one of my friends whom I work with and recently, upon hearing the new Apple TV announcement decided to pre-order. And in my opinion, that’s just fine cause overall, I think the new Apple TV kicks butt. Though I do have experience with the Roku first hand and think it’s very cool too. So what is a technophile to do? Buy one? Both? None? (that last one isn’t really an option I know, but still, had to put it in there.)

So, I have done one of the most basic things you can do. I decided to compare the two platforms on a one to one basis, or at least as closely as I could.

First let me give you the specs on the Roku. This comes directly from the web site:

Roku HD-XR Specifications
Roku HD-XR Specifications

And here are the specifications for the new Apple TV. This was taken directly from the AppleTV web site:
Apple TV 2010 Specifications

Now in my opinion, this might be a bit excessive to easily compare, but at least their on the same page. But to make things easier, I’m going to break it down to make it easier to compare. So without further ado, here’s a quick comparison of what each respective company website says about each player. I would like to point out that Apple puts the processor information on their device specs, but we don’t see them on Roku’s site. Another consideration is the iTunes/iDevice compatibility that the ATV has. Enjoy.

Media  Player Comparison

Roku Player

Apple TV (2010)

Height 1.75″ 0.9 “
Width 5″ 3.9″
Depth 5″ 3.9″
Weight 0.7 Lbs 0.6 Lbs
  Component X
S-Video X
  Composite X
Audio Out Stereo X
  Digital Optical Digital Optical
Video Resolution 480i 480i
480p 480p
  720p 720p
Stream Services NetFlix NetFlix
  Flickr Flickr
YouTube YouTube
  From Computer From Computer
X To iDevice
  X iTunes
Network Connection WiFi (a/b/g/n) WiFi (a/b/g/n)
  10/100 RJ45 10/100 RJ45
Power AC Adapter Power Cord
  12.5watts 6watts
Video Format ? H.264
  ? MPEG-4
Audio Format ? HE-AAC
  ? MP3
  ? Apple Lossless
  ? WAV
X = does not
? = not
listed in spec per web site

First Look: Flipboard for iPad

There are already lots of opinions on places like iTunes for Flipboard for iPad. If you were looking at some of them in the first week, users were pissed. I was so freaking excited to get “my” content on my Flipboard, I just had to wait a while. So after about 3 days i was finally able to get it all setup and it was over the weekend, so the folks who developed Flipboard were indeed working on adding capacity. (hey, I used to be a systems architect for a similar model, I know what it takes, and so far, so good for you guys.)

Anyway, let’s talk about what I think Flipboard can do. I think the best way to describe Flipboard is that it is a media aggregator. It is completely configurable with up to 9 sources which you then flip through to read much like any digital magazine and it even has a page flip animation which overall, is nice, simple and makes good use of the iPad screen. Reading can be done in landscape or portrait mode. I will point out that the sources are a bit limited but Facebook and Twitter feeds are among the top possible choices so getting used to seeing your own media inside Flipboard is pretty easy and quite interesting given the layout of the data displayed. You can also easily repost to any configured services or forward/browse stories and links to share something which crossed your path.

Now for what Flipboard doesn’t do. There is no reload button, so when trying to browse on a slower connection, it can certainly be frustrating. And by slower, I don’t just mean 3G vs WIFI, but more like 3G vs Edge. Edge seems to be the killer but without a reload button, and some kind of Edge aware caching, I don’t know if the reload button would help, but I still feel this is necessary.

Another thing is the current lack of RSS support, but the folks at flipboard are currently working on , or are about to be, that feature. There is also no text only or low bandwidth mode, so speed, even across 3G, means there may still be some waiting depending on the number of images being loaded. There are also no groupings of data that can be configured. You’re stuck at 9 configurable inputs and that’s it. One thing it does do though is that Flipboard not only aggregates the data you want it to, but you get to share and reply to things you see. I’m just pointing that out again though I mentioned it earlier, I think this aspect needs to be reinforced. It’s not just a hews reader with a pretty face, though it does have one of those, it is a communications application to help us manage our social data. So head on over to iTunes and grab yourself a copy and try it out and en give feedback to the flipboard folks as they sure seem to be listening (@flipboard on Twitter). Likewise you can check out the feedback forums and tell them what you think.

Overall a great app with a lot of potential and great built-in feeds which can be replaced with any protocol they support as well as preconfigured feeds which you may also like. I do recommend this app, and have yet to see anything quit like it in the app store to date. I just hope they keep the pace with the user issues and balance that with good clean technology as they continue to work through features and bugs. Don’t forget, if your trying it now, you’re on the bleeding edge of this technology so understand there will be changes and issues along the way. So be sure to utilize their feedback forums!