Tag Archive: Apple


So, here we are, the newest iPhone is out, after so much noise that my head will still ache for a few days, and that I will laugh like a madman from time to time thinking about the die-hards who waited in tents in front of Apple Stores for days just to be the first to get the gizmo.

I’m sure that you’ll agree: nothing in the world is more important than being the first, worldwide, to have the latest iPhone.

Sarcasm aside, there is much more than the iPhone 5 to the latest Apple event at Yerba Buena.

Apple has released iOS 6. So far, so good. Everything is perfectible, and I’m not an expert (because experts don’t exist. Unless you are someone who knows everything and thus has nothing more to learn) so I won’t review it.

What was striking was not Cook’s cockiness. We are now used to it.

No, no, no. The most striking and frankly irritating point was… hardware updates.

Let me clarify:

Apple’s focus on form factors was great as far as the new iPhone is concerned, but it killed one product: the iPod Nano.

The new factor is detrimental to the Nano. The square form factor was absolutely perfect (only considering that hardware can be something near to any kind of eye-pleasing and usability perfection).

There was a potential outlet for wrist-held devices. They didn’t see it, or didn’t deem it worth any effort in this direction. This is playing safe, or being lazy.

The previous iteration proposed many different clock styles as backgrounds, while still being a touch-screen iPod (the wheel is getting old) with all the coolness Apple products may have, and although it could appear more like fun or childish than anything else, it was a step in a direction worth being explored.

Now we see ads for a “square form factor” product in an ubiquitous way. Ever seen this gadget called “i’m Watch”? Google it.

Back to the previous Nano, the gym rats’ best friend.

Let’s put ourselves in Apple’s hardware design teams’ shoes:

What is (was) the Nano?
Is it a gap-filler?
Is it an experiment?
Who’s the target customer, both for function and budget?
Is the Nano another also-ran?

Don’t you think all those questions could have been real questions? I think they could.

Now, if a product has only a short-term appeal potential and oversized ROI, is it worth it? Apparently, it was.

Today, it’s a bit of a messed-up product. Who is really, strongly believing that a 2″ screen and round icons will cut the mustard? Any cheapo spin-off could look and feel like the latest Nano.

Apple never did so bad. Granted, the Newton wasn’t a success, but the OS and programming language used for it proved useful in then future Apple products… Like the first iPhone, like iTunes, too.

Hardware and software are tightly integrated and always were for each Apple product. It seems like the new Nano is an exception to the tradition.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t stick to the past like if my life depended on it. I simply cannot understand the hardware modifications brought to the Nano.

Let’s examine the other risks ahead.

The iPhone’s form factor has reached a limit. Yes, it can still be held with only one hand while having a bigger screen, yet there is no more room for improvement. It will likely be a rectangle-shaped device with round corners for the rest of its life and iterations… The only thing constantly changing is its thickness and weight.

Will Apple make an iPhone as thin as a sheet of paper and as light as air? Is it desirable?

Hardware modifications are not limited to the screen. Apple once again ignores everything and goes its own way.

The new “lightning” plug (a word play with “thunderbolt?) is obviously the one thing irritating returning Apple customers.

While I applaud the reversible capability of the plug, I loathe Apple for making it harder than it ever was to get and stay up-to-date (think MagSafe 2).

I can’t help but thinking that “lightning” is the most shameless way to force customers with older products to buy adaptors, new docks and other accessories. Of course, the new iPhone’s performances couldn’t be what they are if the room needed for the plug wasn’t significantly reduced, I know that.

To me, this smells greed. How many iPhone users have upgraded to the 5? Enough to sell a ton of adaptors and make even more profit.

It is not a secret: Cook and Browett (retail SVP) are bean-counters. If they can maximize profit, they do.

While the whole IT world is working hard to agree on a standard plug size (an issue since times immemorial), Apple brings again its “think different” mindset.

This is stupidly “short-termist”. We’ll see if it is a really bad move. All I can tell is that the Apple communities and forums’ members are already complaining about the issues I brought in this post.

To Apple, I would like to say: “forget this think different slogan and think twice instead!

PS: I am not using form factor and hardware in a mindless way. One determines each other. To me, form factor and hardware are very tightly linked.

Apple’s shaking the Earth.

Behemoths are bulky and annoying. I don’t blame them. Humans are not much better.

So, what’s happening exactly? Maybe Tim Cook’s Burrito wasn’t spicy enough?
Do you think he was so upset that he trampled the floor, hence the Earth-shaking?

Sorry, Tim, I shouldn’t tease you. Burritos are overpriced, and you’re having serious financial issues.

Over with humor. My inner child is punishing me for having not let him speak for years. He’s now unplugging my self-censoring devices. I should have listened to him. We adults forget play. We’re so busy working, or thinking about working…

Things are getting really gruesome at Apple. I don’t talk about Foxconn. There is really no play and goofing around there!

Like if it was not enough to make sure supply chain workers are underpaid and overworked, now it’s time to have some egregious behaviour with Apple Store employees!

How do we do that? Easy. Train them for a month and pink-slip them. Be sure to give them a welcome letter before! I’m serious, look:

20120816-104455.jpg

Having been laid off before even being employed (true story, details available upon request, free to share), I feel their pain.

A few ago, a new SVP of retail was hired. He is “fixing” Ron Johnson’s dying marketing model.
Nothing lasts 11 years in retail. Time for an overhaul! Whoo!

Enter John Browett, a man I never heard of before.

Hell is here: more layoffs, hiring freezes, more reduced hours, promoting following by demoting, more profit-generating tricks.
I’m thinking of the brand new “self checkout”. Anything on a shelf that you can bring home today?
Just scan the product, enter your Apple ID and the product is yours.

That means that anyone can walk away with iPods, iPhones, iPads, without any human interaction. Only laptops and desktops will be considered and human interaction maintained.

No more human interaction = the best reason ever to lay off!

Up for a little Q&A?

Q: Are you telling me that Apple is laying off employees just before a major product release (the new iPhone and iOS 6)?

A: Yes.

Q: Are they crazy?

A: Yes.

There’s much more to the story than what I just wrote. I receive daily Google Alerts about Apple… It seems that they have opened too much stores (so, too much employees to pay) to keep up profit. Above a certain number, growth ceases. It even has the opposite effect! Adios sustainability!

Here are some links to blogs and articles about this issue:

TheNextWeb

TechnoBuffalo

Benzinga

iDownloadBlog

Please let me know your thoughts. There are articles about Apple’s layoffs and new retail strategy everywhere, but I get the best of it.

This is why I’m introducing Pathways, just to add up to controversy.

I’m perplexed, puzzled, baffled.

[Edit (August 16, 2012): Apple has issued a public apology about this. They say “we messed up“. I am sure that the guys who lost their jobs after just one month are really happy to know that.]

 

 

Apple Knowledge Quotient: 100%

An app told me…

20120815-234506.jpg

However, that’s just the beginning for me.

Thanks to the developers of the app. I hope you’re on WordPress as well!

(Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated or making money by posting this. I let my inner child call his bragging rights!)

20120904-075332.jpg

It isn’t going to be better anytime soon, even though I have some clues about the next-gen earphones: a mix of in-ear and standard earphones.

Hopefully a WAY better sound quality, too! The total lack of feedback from users befuddles me. Are they deaf, or happy with crappy mp3s?

(Google “24/96 recording” and you will understand).

Now…wait for the launch of “The new iPhone”.
(It makes sense to drop the number, as Apple dropped “Computer” from its name the year the iPhone came out.)

Well, back to the white. Back to marketing.

I love black (especially my coffee, and my metal), yet white doesn’t bother me.

It just bothers, then irks, then make me mad when there is too much of it in the ears of full-time bozos (censored version. The original one is too barbaric), barely scratching the surface even with their most impressive efforts.

They’re so superficial it makes me puke!

(Hospital PTSD, perhaps?)

More seriously, what baffles me is that, even though anybody can spot an Apple user a mile away, there is a real failure at going beyond marketing in the mind of those people: Apple users (I plead guilty of being one. Please call me Evangelist, but not “fanboi”).

Just a reminder. An ad is NOT all of the following, namely: spin, buzz, hype, clicks, getting the word out.

It is not, either, community/tribe, story and price. This is where marketers tell a story, and they all do.The WWDC is where communities are built, mostly. Any other Apple Keynote is the same.

NeXT® is another overlooked aspect: usability+support (Apple Stores are great for that, so why the hell do people fail to understand Apple and its targeted marketing?)

And next is the product, and the product alone. That is what I see when I see an Apple product.

Apple products have communication built-in. This is a secret of their success.

“Think different”©. Sure.

If only people could think at all…

The white earphones? Oh, it doesn’t matter that much. People matter… And I have a hard time willingly admitting my human peers’ lack of knowledge and discernment.

Arrogant? Nope. It’s just an Idealist-tempered viewpoint. It is having very high standards of quality regarding oneself. Of course it bleeds off on others.

Sure, you can still bitch about the lack of professionalism in my blog layout and my writing style.

Bitch away. I’m not a blogger for a living.

Well, did you get my point?

Superficiality and hollow minds versus built-in communication and meaning.

September is around the corner. Keep an eye on the product, not the show.

I always hear people complain whine because Apple boasts 200 new features per new iOS update, and they can only find a dozen of them: the most visible ones.

I call this being lazy and not giving a flying fuck about the work behind.

Here’s the reason why people fail to understand and see improvements :

Apple does not only cater to individuals .

I attended a live seminar about mobile device deployment and management in businesses.

I realized that the most significant features are aimed at businesses (which mainly already have a mobile device management [MDM] system and their own business-specific apps)

This is where improvements are to be found. Huge effort has been put there to address businesses’ needs. I applaud Apple’s efforts. It is no easy task!

Next time you watch a keynote, or a WWDC conference, think about the big picture.

There is a position at Apple which is “Expert”. It works both for regular people and for businesses.

One more thing: The Software Development Kit (SDK) is always updated and contains more Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

So… There are really 200, if not more new features for each new iteration.

I hope that you learnt something useful.
Please comment if you feel like it.

Apple’s Message Mapping

APPLE’S MESSAGE MAPPING

Product: MacBook Pro with Retina display

Headline: “It’s a whole new vision for the notebook.” (42 characters. Twitter-friendly.)

4 key elements in short sentences:

A. “Stunning Retina display.”

B. “All-flash architecture.”p

C. “Thin. Light. Powerful.”

D. “The rest of the MacBook Pro family is faster than ever.”

Product: iPhone 4S

Headline: “It’s the most amazing iPhone yet.” (33 characters. Twitter-friendly.)

4 Key elements in short sentences:

A. “Dual-core A5 chip.”

B. “8 MP iSight camera.”

C. “iOS5 and iCloud.”

D. “And introducing Siri.”

Product: The new iPad

Headline: “Resolutionary.” (14 characters. 1/10th of a tweet!)

4 key elements in short sentences:

A. “Breakthrough Retina display.”

B. “5MP iSight camera.”

C. “iLife and iWork for iPad.”

D. “Ultrafast 4G LTE.”

For each “key element”, there are (usually 4, sometimes more) “sub-key elements” which go into greater detail (and technical jargon, too).

Here’s for the three most recent “flagship products”, yet ALL Apple messages ( headlines or sub-headlines) are Twitter-friendly (140-character or less).

Why? Because the human brain has a very limited memory and a short attention span, so it is clever (and necessary, in Apple’s case) to cut the amount of facts to be reminded.

Here are some more Twitter-friendly headlines or sub-headlines. Let’s have a look again at the flagship products.

“The world’s highest-resolution notebook display.” (48 characters!)

“It makes quicker work of everything.” (36 characters!)

“There’s power behind every nanometer.” (37 characters!)

“The intelligent assistant that’s there to help. Just ask.” (58 characters…but a fragmented sentence, which is not a smart thing to do, as the brain loves simple, seamless things, without interruptions, even the smallest ones.)

“Even faster everything.” (23 characters! Notice the “everyday-blather” style.)

“It just might be the best camera ever on a phone.” (49 characters!)

“Years ahead and moving forward.” (31 characters!)

“Your content. On all your devices.” (34 characters…but another fragmented sentence.)

“It’s even more than meets the eye.” (34 characters!)

“Take your best shots yet.” (26 characters!)

“And 225,000 more apps from the App Store.” (43 characters. Beginning a sentence with “and” is not academic, if there’s nothing written before… Yet it may be acceptable in the circle of hipsters and hyperbole users.)

“Full speed ahead.” (17 characters!)

There are a lot more examples, but I will stop there. By now, you know what my point is.

Name the product, craft a twitter-friendly headline, highlight 4 key elements (if within your business, only as a “guidebook”, where you might consider “sub-key elements”, more technical) and voilà: here’s the message you always wanted and always needed.

Greats artists steal, so shamelessly steal Apple’s model!

For job-hunting people: consider using this model (you become the “product” in this case) and replacing your whole CV/résumé/cover letter with just one mapped message.

I won’t be held responsible if you follow this advice and don’t succeed. I will try it myself soon, and I’ll tell you in an update how it went. Yet if you are a daring soul, go ahead and tell me how it went. Your feedback is welcome.

Sunday’s recommended read

I’m “implementing” a new feature in my blog. I have mulled upon it for a long while, and it is likely that I will keep it running if you find value in it.

I may even suggest CDs in the future ( I’ve been CD reviewer for musesmuse.com long enough). Perhaps be an Amazon affiliate, too.

So, here is my recommended read for this weekend:

INSIDE APPLE

http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Apple-Americas-Admired—Secretive–Company/dp/145551215X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333873887&sr=1-1

(Sorry, it seems that the link doesn’t display as planned)!

I’m now in the middle of reading Lashinsky‘s revealing book “Inside Apple” (to be coupled with Steve Jobs’s bio by Isaacson, if you want the whole package)!

I don’t care about the naysayers. There is some value in this book you’ll find nowhere else. Really.

Tell me what you think, if you’ve read it. (Of course, not if you use it to fire start a BBQ)!

The book is available in Kindle format, audiobook, hardcover and paperback. iPad owners can read it with the Kindle app.

It isn’t expensive and, if you are like me, puzzled by how much rumors, bullsh’ and hype rule the social world… This is certainly a book you’ll like.

Yes, I love Apple, but I am not OK with everything they do. There is some scary sh*t in this book. It is not for the faint of heart! You’re warned!

What REALLY upsets me is…no more iDisk in June? Are you nuts, guys? (This is just a “sample rant”).

One more thing:

Happy Easter, folks, and thanks to all of my subscribers for following one of the most whimsical and uncompromising blog out there (shameless plug)!

For the last two weeks, I have tackled issues, and I’m still tackling new ones.

(Have a look at my past posts to know what I’m writing about).

Needless to say: it is exhausting.

I always find myself awake at 4:30 am, super energetic (it is usually my energy peak) , and I hate wasting energy.

So, I grab my iPad and read books nobody will. at least I think so.  Would you be interested in reading a book called “Inside Apple“? Unless your are a fanboi computer geek which is interested in HR and temperaments/personalities and their pros and cons, I bet you wouldn’t.

Not a safe bet.

My health has never been great, and I don’t want it to deteriorate.

There are a few tricks that I do before giving in (and I gave in once in my life: I had a lung infection and spent a few days in the coma. OK, I digress, but bear that in mind)!

Taking a shower after having triggered my mind with an insanely intricate computer science lecture, or an inspiring TED talk, is what I usually do.

Solutions and ideas appear when you least expect them. It is common sense.

The next Joe would say the same, but I’m not the next Joe.

When you let purposely your mind wander, it will certainly bring you where it wouldn’t if you were hyper-active and focused obsessed.

My weapon of choice is a simple shower, or a bath.

I soak my hands in warm water before playing keyboards or cello. Any tension disappears, and I can warm-up, then play confidently knowing that I prepared myself.

See… This is a borrowed parallel paradigm (a term I coined a few blog posts ago and didn’t use in a blog post)!

I use a “model” totally unrelated to the task at hand to solve it. I transpose it (sorry for the musical pun).

Well, it’s time for a new TED talk and to catch up on my Stanford lectures (I have a strong disgust for the C language, and we are comparing Objective-C and ANSI C. I want to move on to the next step, yet I know that my teacher is doing what we’ll need ten lectures later).

Oh, one last thing: nothing beats a cup of Yunnan tea.

One more thing: this is the post where my 666th tag will appear. I’m an unabashed metal freak, but in no way Satanist. I just find that ending my post with something less serious could release some tension!

Which are your strategies to kick out stress and burn-outs from tearing you apart?

Do you let your mind wander to find solutions, or do you keep working until you run out of gas?

 

 

 

Everything that goes through any of our senses is stored in our memory as a mental picture.

It uses our occipital cortex. So, don’t scratch the top of your head if you can’t recall. It happens behind your head!

Just google “visual memory” and countless search pages will show up with miracle recipes on how to improve it.

This is totally uninteresting to me. However, I often take a quick look at all those self-help things, then discard 99% of them.

What is interesting is how our brain works, and thorough studies, serious stuff won’t appear on the first search page. Go further.

I find it fascinating that our memory transforms everything into a mental image. Vivid, exaggerated, lurid, hilarious… Unexpected ways are to be expected!

One of the most important aspects of it, is that if you aren’t actively participating in memorizing, your “file” (memory) will be lost somewhere into some random place you can’t easily recall, or can’t recall at all. Unlike computers, we have no indexing and search option available to find where our file is.

Actively participating means “abstracting” the (usually) boring stuff. You’ll need to find ways to get mnemotechnic in remembering things. It will take some time and practice, but it is worth the sweat!

If you just absorb, you are not memorizing. You are listening, watching, smelling… but not memorizing.

When memorizing, don’t lay on a couch and repeat ad nauseam the same thing, hoping it will get into your memory. You have to add emotion to it to work properly.
Being on a couch is not what I call an emotional trigger (unless you get laid, but that’s another story).

Stand up. Read aloud. Repeat each syllable many times. Let the music come.

Don’t worry, your music will anyway be associated with a mental image. Not a mere image, but a mental one. Those are discrete things!

I hope that by now, you start figuring out why I called this post “our memory is a GUI”. Yes, it is a graphical user interface. Touch this icon / click on it, and it will react.
An icon is an object which has properties. Exactly like our memory.

I am still studying this overlooked aspect of our memorizing process, so expect an update or another post as soon as I have new and relevant content.

Meanwhile, know that nobody has a bad memory. If you want to have a really hard time remembering faces, events, sounds, etc, keep saying to yourself that your memory is poor, or bad, or that you suck.

I encourage you to do your own search. I want us to discuss and debate around this topic.

Well. I’m going to find ways to memorize five high-level programming languages. I’ll focus primarily on Objective-C.

The meaning, the syntax, the words or signs used all have some potential for visual memorizing. What can I do with @synthesize ? Split it into syllables and repeat them until I find a way to relate what is on my screen to what it means. Make music out of it (“synth” could already be “synthesizer”. Or maybe should I try to merge “sin”, “in”, “the”, “size and visualize a huge cock)?

I told you that the more exaggerated, gory or porn, the better and easier to remember. Summarize it into a vivid mental image (not an image like a photo) and link it to its meaning (meanings aren’t obvious in programming). That is why Stanford has a “programming abstractions” course, in my opinion.

Again, don’t merely absorb, but stand up (to stay alert) and actively participate in memorizing.

In those big “memory contests”, they give you energizing beverages. It is not a coincidence, is it?

 

What I mean by a “borrowed parallel paradigm” is that a paradigm out of my field of study or biz can help me shape – or reshape- my thinking and my doing.
It broadens my vision, or help me see the world through new lenses.

If I use Apple’s biz paradigm (mainly, a platform, to be studied) to improve my creative musician skills, it’s a win. However, it is not easy to draw parallel lines with those unrelated areas.

To create, to innovate, to shape, call it what you want, you need to borrow or shamelessly steal from unrelated industries, areas, businesses -even if the models are outdated- to make your very own product, be it a symphony or a startup.

That’s what Google does, what Amazon does, what a schmazillion of other successful people do. They succeed at what they aim for.
Success is not a one-size-fits-all word!

A pattern can be transposed successfully if applied in a clever way. If you stay in your area, you are likely to learn nothing. If you go where everyone else goes, you end up doing what everyone does. Is it what you want?

Picasso famously said that great artists steal. Is Picasso a great artist? This up to you to judge. The statement is true, though.

Today, the word artist has a broader meaning. A VP or a CEO can be artists, not because they are hobbyist painters or musicians, but because they -the succesful ones- totally pour themselves into what they do. Stravinsky used to say that a succesful piece of art is 99% work!

As far as I am concerned: I come from a very complex background.

I am a musician. That is the core of my being. 26 years of mayhem, and counting!

I sing, I play snare drum, timpani, vibraphone, drums, cello, viola da gamba, guitar, harpsichord, piano, organ… All those instruments have one thing in common: they require the use of fingers (in this case, parallels are drawn quite easily. Starting small is not a bad thing), and demand a very high degree of commitment.
I also produce, edit, mix and master. I started as a FOH engineer, but moved on to my comfy studio more as my back pain increased with FOH muck work. I am now settled.

However, I read business books, blogs about education, biographies, I love CDs and LPs artwork and do my own, I hang around with TED speakers, I study iOS programming and programming abstractions (courtesy of Stanford University). I read other people Ph.Ds’ stuff, too, no matter the subject.

How does all that relate? How does one model applies to the other to foster creativity? I’m diligently working on it.

Easy is not a word I can use to describe that task. I have to learn critical thinking, which is not taught at school/college.

I have to ask for mentorship, sometimes. I have to ask myself the right questions. It’s exhausting, and I already wanted to throw the towel many times. I didn’t, because I’m passionate about what I do.

Of course, it is easy to get lost into all those unrelated areas. Focus on your primary one and look around. How can you improve or change your existing model?

Borrow paradigms. Shamelessly. The more unrelated, the better.
Get the broadest scope you can get, yet keep in mind that you want to raise the bar of your primary activity, foster creativity and get smarter at what you do.

One last thing: don’t lose sight of your own goals.

I’d love to hear from you. You are encouraged to share your experiences and thoughts. Your personal info will never be shared.