About a week ago, my MacBook (mid–2010) finally died. It can’t find the system file and Apple’s restore function can’t repair the disk nor reinstall MacOS. I am not exactly sure what my next steps will be though my laptop is out of the commission for the immediate future. It will probably involve trying the wipe the drive and reinstall the OS or pulling the old drive entirely and replacing it. In either case I would have been in a panic if I didn’t have a back up. All my files and photos are backed up in the cloud and also on local storage so I should have minimal data loss after this event. This is my reminder to back up regularly as the above can happen to anyone and it is best to be prepared (or prepared as you can be).
Friday, December 1, 2017
Sunday, November 12, 2017
The Guardian recently authored an article on whether or not further books in the series get a limited or even get printed due to ebook privacy. I am firm believer in a artists getting their fair share for their creative efforts and pirating ebooks does have an economic impact.
If the financials cost your concern a great source of free and legal ebooks can be your public library. The ebooks are accessible via your library card and be downloaded from anywhere onto your smartphone or tablet.
Both allow you to download ebooks directly to your smart phone or tablet and are great source of content that simply part of public libraries’ offerings.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
I am excited about Apple Pay Cash is getting closer to release. There are several competing services like Venmo, Square Cash and PayPal though the trouble is always making sure two parties are all on the same system (i.e. Apples to Apples). Given the iPhone install base I am hoping that Apple Pay Cash can help provide a single system that is simple to setup. (Also, there will hopefully be no social feature like Venmo; not everything needs to be social.)
Friday, October 13, 2017
Announcement: As Apple recently had their September announcement and then the most recent version(s) of the their operating systems dropped for the general public so I have been thinking about where Apple stands this year as a company. I like to watch the Apple Keynotes and see what is new in the pipeline and have been watching them since Apple has been streaming them/launching them as a podcast. This year’s keynote proved as well polished as the prior iterations though with the added bonus of being the first event in the Steve Jobs theater on the new Apple campus. I think there was further emphasis on this year’s session as it marks the iPhone’s ten-year anniversary, which propelled the smartphone into the public conciseness. Since that fateful keynote the Apple users/watchers (like myself), pundits, financiers, and technologists have watch Apple march itself to the record levels of cash reserves and the most valuable brand in the world.
I thought the announcement for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X was inline with the steady choreography we’ve seen for the iPhone in recent years. They have integrated the chips and storage to create a better, faster model, and improved the camera with the iPhone X showing further evolution with FaceID and the Home buttons removal. The iPhone X changes the functionality around how users interact with their phone though it doesn’t revolutionize the phone experience at a high level. For anyone looking for an announcement akin to the first iPhone it would be disappointing, though I wasn’t expecting that level of announcement (at-least not for the phone).
The new Apple Watch series 3 was the natural next progression in the design with the inclusion of an LTE chip making it less of a direct halo product for the phone and more a standalone product. If it was not clear before it seems crystal clear now that Apple is positioning the watch as their next vertical product. It also explains why Apple didn’t follow a similar product rollout as the iPod with the iPhone (i.e., they create a model for every price point from the iPod touch down to the iPod shuffle so they slowly pulled the gravity in the entire vertical to their product line). Conceivably, someone who needed a simple phone (akin to a flip phone back in the day) could look at the series 3 Apple watch and it is being positioned as both a fashion accessory as well as functional tech. The mobile phone has become deeply personal (the D&D nerd in me looks at it akin to a wizard looks at their familiar) and the watch is just the next iteration on technology assuming such a personal role in our lives.
I can remember when the Apple TV was classified as a hobby (back in prehistoric times in tech years). Since then the living room hub has become a larger focus for the industry (re: post-pc era/internet of things). I don’t own an Apple TV as my family has bought heavily into the Amazon ecosystem and that content has been absence from the Apple TV (though that is changing in the near future so who knows Apple needs to be in this space and it makes sense to push forward with 4K video.
iOS 11 and High Sierra: When the new iOS version dropped I downloaded it for my iPhone 7. The download went smoothly and I had only a single issue with an app breaking (Facebook Messenger), which has since resolved itself. My phone has felt a little buggy at times with some other random app crashes and also odd UI breakdowns (keyboards not springing up, odd quirks around message fields) though overall it has been a fine release. I am not a huge fan of the changes in Control Center. I like how the they have leverage force touch to allow for expanded access to settings like Wifi, Bluetooth etc though I find the change in the buttons functionality disappointing. Now when you toggle the wifi and bluetooth buttons it disconnects to you rather than actually turning off the service (See this Verge article on the basics and then the Apple support page for the specifics. This is an unfortunate UI choice as it diverts entirely from the prior functionality, which causes confusion. Not fully turning these services leads to further battery drain at best and potential vectors for nefarious actors at worst. If Apple wants to change this functionality it should be as an option in settings rather than hard switch. My personal hope is that they will implement this option (or simply revert to prior functionality) via a software update as they drawn criticism from many quarters including the EFF. I don’t have an iPad new enough to run iOS 11 though from the reviews it seems like the iPad is the real benefactor of the upgrade. (I do LOVE the markup tools, which are fantastic and make taking screenshots so much better.)
My MacBook Pro is a dinosaur and barely has specs to run High Sierra so I haven’t upgraded yet. I am on the fence as I don’t have an SSD drive though I use Photos as my main photo manager so the increased functionality is tempting (increased editing options, third-party plugins etc). I have heard that many pundits draw the comparison between High Sierra and Snow Leopard; an update that is more about refinements than new features. I think that is apt description from what I’ve heard though I won’t know for certain till I install.
Pixelation: I would be remiss if I did not mention Googles recent announcements on the Google Pixel 2 and Pixelbook, which Google had launched at their recent Pixel event. The Google flagship phones have long been Google’s Android answer to the iPhone and the specs in the Pixel 2 make it a contender. Also interesting is that they’ve removed the headphone jack and made it so that the Pixel auto-tethers with the Pixelbook creating a halo affect between the two products. Apple has long made the “ecosystem” part of its selling point and it seems like Google is following Apple’s strategy. Apples continues leverage on their hardware and software synergy with Microsoft and now Google trying to build their own device ecosystem.
Final Thoughts: Apple continues iterate on their hardware though they have not announced anything that is completely game changing. I don’t think I will go for an iPhone X when I upgrade as the iPhone 8 has every feature I could need though frankly my iPhone 7 is still fantastic. I still haven’t tried High Sierra and I will have to see if I decide to install it on my machine (if I do will let you know). I am now looking forward to the next WWDC.
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Today on 9to5 Mac Ben Lovejoy writes about how Apple Music’s market share is last among streaming services overall though 1st among the 18–24 market. Furthermore, the overall rankings data included the free tier for other services such as Spotify and Pandora. Apple does not offer a free tier so you’re really comparing different data sets. When you look at the paid services alone the article shows that Apple leads the market among the 18–24 market as well as the 25–34 market, and it is tied for the lead amongst the 35+ crowd. This has been where Apple has always enjoyed being in this place the past concerning their products (see the Mac which had a small market share compared to the PC though generated more money per unit sold.) Apple has never needed to be the biggest in anything and seems to focus on providing value. The added bonus is the continuing growth in Apple’ services revenu.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Though embedded in the article though was small note about the number of phones running the latest Android version and its 13.5%, which makes the newest features for Android moot for the majority of users. Anecdotally, I doubt this is from users not wanting the latest release and that many budget android phones don’t have the capacity to run the system, loading the update requires rooting the phone and/or the manufacturer/carrier has delayed the update for a specific reason. (For contrast, the article also states iPhones running the latest software are around 87%.) As I said in my prior post, that is one of the main reasons I am sticking the iPhone (also at this point I have I invested a ton in apps, iTunes music, and other hardware in the ecosystem beyond the phone).
Since the last post though I had a fantastic colleague recommend the Moto G5 as a great android phone that has stock Android phone with stock Android (which makes sense given as Motorola Mobility was owned by Google briefly before sold it to Lenovo). I have also heard accolades for the recent Blackberry phones running Android (not sure on specific phone model; though I guess it is more of another company licensing the Blackberry name, which may explain why it has left the Blackberry behind.
If you have an Android phone you enjoy or think is particularly awesome I would love to hear about.
Saturday, August 5, 2017
It has recently been reported that Lenovo will be switching from their custom UI to stock Android for their smartphones. This gets to the root of the issue of why I prefer iOS over Android: fragmentation. Apple controls the whole experience so you get a synergy between the hardware and software. Save for the Google phones you have a different company making the hardware and software across the Android environment. Apple may have fewer phone options though that control leads to better phone and software integration. If I were to be interested in switching to an Android phone I would focus solely on the stock Android models(which is a reason I believe Lenovo made the switch too).
Sunday, July 2, 2017
Virgin Mobile (in the US) recently announced they will be moving to an iPhone only network and offer heavy incentives to entice users to join the network. The company is an NVNO operator (a virtual network where they lease time on another network, which in this case is Sprint)
As rumors swirl around Apple acquisitions continues given Apple’s large pile of money I continually think about Apple buying their own cellular network to further data connections into their devices, while keeping their privacy promises. As talks about a T-Mobile and a Sprint merger rise up again it seems like an even more appropriate time for Apple to leverage their resources to pick up a carrier.
Too often companies or other organizations spend good money on a database system that is supposed to solve all their troubles yet once the confetti and fireworks clear after rollout those same problems still persist. Is the tool at fault? Maybe. Though more often there has been little effort made to develop the processes and culture for using the tool. A system is only as good as the data it holds and if no one is entering data or worse bad data is being entered then the tool is a ghost ship at best.
Rather than investing in the database tool alone the organization needs to invest in the local talent to help manage the system, troubleshoot issues for internal users and help make processes that work with the systems strengths. They need a database champion.
A database champion dedicated building relationships with users, building out the capacity for the system and working with the vendor to optimize it for the current use case. Too often database expertise is wrapped up in a frontline role (i.e. Sales) with a power user, which leads to that user doing the database support on top of their principal work. This can lead to the system being built out enough to “work” though not implementing a true optimization to really figure out how to leverage the system for the particular use case. Plus the principle is drawn away from their task, which is in the inverse of what any database system should provide: more time for users to focus on their core pursuits without managing bits of data.
Any database champion needs to understand the tools at use in the office and also the office culture. In order for a tool to used to the fullest an office culture audit needs to be completed so processes can be aligned with users and their workflow points of pain can be understood. If the principals don’t see the value in the tool then they already don’t want to use the tool. It is a partnership though if managed correctly then having a full time employee to manage any data system provides a huge return on investment.
A database champion can manage any/all of the following topics. * Build content templates * Troubleshoot database issues * Audit data * Categorize/organize data * Train users * Liases with other departments on data issues
By taking issues away from principles they are able to focus on their main roles and provide even more value to the organization.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
This weeks marks the start of WWDC 2017, which is Apples developer conference. As with past developers conferences Apple holds a keynote laying out the plans for their major platforms and even releasing product information.
I found the presentation the most interesting during the hardware sections: iMac Pro, iPad Pro and the HomePod. The iMac Pro shows the continued attempt by Apple to woo the professional community, which had felt abandoned with the dwindling support for the Mac Pro. I think this is a great move as “Pro” users needs vary and an iMac Pro could fit that niche between a regular iMac and Mac Pro. I had heard the Mac Pro was going thru a complete redesign, which was needed so we shall see how the two systems compare once the Mac Pro is complete. Apple may be largely a consumer phone company these days thru mindshare it is the Pro community that I think really pushes at they have their hearts set on the bleeding edge.
The iPad Pro is not a device that I have a use for in my workflow. Though I have seen it used to great affect in doctors offices, which I think is a perfect environment. The iPad Pro provides a laptop-light product for users need a screen and acccess to information though not necessarily a full laptop. It may be the largest maket though it is important for Apple to be in the market.
With the Google Home and Amazon Echo Apple needed to release a product like the Homepod though at the current price and the focus placed largely on music I wonder if it is too little too late.
What did y’all think about the keynote?
Sunday, March 5, 2017
On one of the more recent episodes of ATP they were discussing the report from Apples latest earnings that iPad sales are continuing to fall. They are not the the only ones to mention it either as Recode and Business Insider as well as other news sites have mentines the decline in Apples tablet.
There is much speculation across the punditry on why this is happening (lack of ability for a tablet to do real work, bigger phones have more portability than a tablet with a big enough screen for movies, reading etc).
From peronal experience, I can say that my tablet is several years old and still runs great so I have intention of upgrading in the near future. It is a complementary device to my Mac and iPhone that I use it for consuming media while reading or watching a video. The tablet could not replace my laptop in terms of power or computing flexibility nor my phone in terms of mobilty (and camera). I enjoy my tablet greatly though I can understand greatly while sales have slumped (though by no means are the sales bad; it is just compared to the rarefied sales of the iPhone it is hard to not see the differential.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Email has been having a renaissance lately via the newsletter. As social media becomes more fragmented and noisier users are turning more toward newsletters for curated topic specific content. Among knowledge peddlers like writers, artists, pundits and industry leaders it allows creators to aggregate their content for diehard fans as well as provide new content to readers in a curated form. Social media is often about the moment while a newletter allows for long form, indepth content delivered in an easily read format without any platform requirements. (Email is fairly ubiqitous as enough compnies provide free email services that there is no barrier to get an address.)
In the early 2000s, email was a marketing tool though the new wave of email newsletters have moved beyond simply selling. Most email newsletters are looking to establish a rapport with their readers thru adding value. The newletter may be selling someting to their readers though funding for newsletters is also accomplished thru donation, patronage, and sponsorship. I have shifted some of my readership away from RSS feed to newsletters and I have enjoyed getting the regular emails in my inbox.
In MPOW we leverage email campaigns for communication so I have been investigating the different tools that are availiable in the market. There are tools aimed at every level of complexity with those aimed enterprise customers with analyticas and reports and also those aimed for more hobbyist users.
Revue (https://www.getrevue.co) - Revue is s start up based in the Netherlands that focuses on making rich personal newsletters with embedded links and full feature text.
MailChimp(https://mailchimp.com) - MailChimp is the industry leader in terms of mindshare in the email marketing space. They are integrated into platforms (IFTT), which is great if you want get your contacts into your CRM.
TinyLetter(https://tinyletter.com) - Tiny Letter is campaign tool from Mail Chimp (acquired through acquisition focused on non-business users who want to create a letter along the lines of a paper zine or family newsletter.
Zoho Campaigns - A tool from the ubiquitous cloud computing service provider that provides SAS services across a large product line and verticals (CRM, Email, Invoices).
Newsletters in the News
O’Hare, Steve (2016-Dec–13) Revue makes email newsletters personal again Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/13/revue/ on 2017-Jan–27
Wayne, Teddy (2016-Nov–12) What is a TinyLetter? Like Ye Olde Blog though Less Public Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/fashion/tinyletter-newsletters-the-new-blog.html on 2017-Jan–27.
Nelson, Jess (2016-Dec–28) Newsletters Most Common Email Marketing Tactic Of 2016 Retrieved from http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/291955/newsletters-most-common-email-marketing-tactic-of.html on 2017-Jan–27
Rupp, Shannon(2017-Jan–2) Subscription Newsletters, Booming Like It’s the 18th Century Retrieved from https://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2017/01/02/Subscription-Newsletters/ on 2017-Jan–27
Finley, Klint(2015-Sep–25) Sorry Ello, the Real Anti-Facebook Is Good Old Email Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2015/09/sorry-ello-real-anti-facebook-good-old-email/ on 2017-Jan–27
Friday, January 27, 2017
Apple is reporting a decline in Mac sales, which is interesting as while the entire vertical suffered PC gains were made by some manufacturers. I think this is resulting from a combination cultural shifts in computer usage and the changes in product strategy for the Mac. I’ve written about my conflicted thoughts on the new MacBook Pro though there is also what is seen as the abandonment of the true high end pro market with the Mac Pro. While Tim Cook has assured Mac users that they have an exciting Mac road map many diehard users have been disappointed. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next year.
I think another factor is that many users don’t need a computer for many tasks these days. People are living on their phones (particularly since iPhone 6 introduced the extra large screen). I find myself doing more my phone (including writing), which means getting a ultra new Mac isn’t necessarily top of my list. I still want a new Mac (ever with my consternation over the new laptops) though it has a different level of urgency.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
The anniversary of the year when I first landed on this rock that is spinning around Sol is quickly approaching and my amazing spouse asked if I would like a pair of Apple Airpods to celebrate the event.
My initial response was “YES” though after I thought about it I heistated. Not for any lack of desire but more because I know myself. I go through A LOT of headphones; they are washed, dropped, crumpled, folded over and otherwise subjected to an amazing amount of punishment. (Around this point my spouse found my audio jack to lighting adapter for an old headphone set in the wash, which sealed the choice to NOT get the AirPods).
I still wanted a set of wireless headphones so the questions remained if not the AirPods they what set? The Wirecutter, which I love has a great section on wireless headphones and recommends the Anker Sport Soundbuds IE20 as a great set for under $50. 9to5Toys Mac also did comparisons for wirless headphone alternatives to the AirPods and clearly calls the AirPods the winner, which was too helpful.
I have decided that I want earbuds as I often wear them at my MPOW to listen to podcasts while I crunch data and it is easier to only have a single earbud (so I can still hear my coworkers) than an on ear set. However, I would still worry about losing a single earbud so I would want ones that are connected. I check a coupe of other sites, CNET and PC Mag, though I was not convinced and decided to go with the Anker IE20s. I’ll let you know how they work.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
I have been writing more recently about the Mac and my opinions on the recent release of the Macbook Pro. Since then Mark Gurman published an interesting article on Apple leaving the Apple loyalists behind, which proved to be an interesting read following up on the consternation provided by the Macbook Pro launch. I then listened to the latest Accidental Tech Podcast, which provided great perspective on Guramn’s article and helped me come to terms that I am officially a cranky Mac user.
(If you’re looking for more information on which MacBook to buy you should check out the article from the Wirecutter.)
Monday, January 2, 2017
I have just hit my year anniversary at a new Day Job(TM), and am further bullish on embedded librarianship. I think it is a power future for the profession and also provides real value to organizations. Knowledge workers continue to need support while completing their everyday work and any information/data system requires a champion/expert to help manage the informaton and the tool. Too often practioners are asked to manage the tools they use (or there is no overall management) and spend time managing/finding information where they should be making widgets (i.e. whatever their core function). Having a librarian on staff on help manage the tool and also free up principals to focus on their main duties. I had the chance to speak about being an embedded librarianin 2015 and would love to chance to to speak again on the topic.
I have a few new projects lined up in the New Year (more on that later) though in the meantime you can find me on the following services:
I can also be found via email at george (at) this domain dot com if you’re looking to contact me about a project etc. Happy New Year!