Category Archives: Geek

Apple and the Great SKU Problem

I know I list problem solver as a skill in my Linkedin profile but this one’s a doozey and has been bugging me for a while now.

Apple has too many iPads.

I know it is considered sacred to not criticize all things Apple but I really believe they just aren’t doing the right thing here. Ok so hear me out…

Ever since the iPad was introduced, there have been two many over lapping iOS devices and too many choices. I know that choice is a good thing but in this case there is just too much.

Try this scenario for instance. A person, (how about Alex, sounds like a good name right?), walks into an Apple Store, presumably to replace one of those still in use old PC laptops that Apple says folks are hanging on to. Also remember Apple loves to remind us how 50% percent of all visitors to the Apple Store are new to Apple purchasers. So Alex has heard of these iPads, maybe even has a friend of two who has shown them one or let them used it before. Alex likes to look around first so politely tells the front store greeter this and then walks over to the iPad table. Alex is then presented with this lovely graphic, or at least the real world equivalent of one.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 8.37.43 AMRight away, Alex has five models to choose from. Apple thought of this though and offers a handy Compare button on their website. I can only hope the employees in the store have an equivalent.

However this is the comparison…

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 8.40.26 AM

Not exactly inspiring now is it? I see one big, two mediums, and two smalls all with the same back. Looks like it’s also in some different shades of color as well. Watching my kids watch Sesame street and I know how this game is played. Aah Aah Aah, I love to count. 1, 2, 3, … 14, 15. 15 options for iPads.

But wait, there’s more!

Alex decides to check the tech specs because hey, more numbers means it’s better right?

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 8.45.27 AM

Or maybe not. In fact, on the website, Alex has to scroll through 16 more comparison sections. SIXTEEN, holy buckets people. On capacity and price alone there are 25 more options. And of course not all color options are available on all configurations.

Hang on a second here, let me go ask my NASA scientist wife to do some of those white board calculations and I’ll get back to you.

Ok I’m back and we calculate there are a total of 77 Apple SKU’s in this one product category alone.

Know I am no expert here but I am pretty sure our friend Alex would but like WTF Apple? You are supposed to be the easy company. Hey I know Alex, maybe like a responsible American citizen, you set aside a specific budget for this lovely new iPad and went to shop based on price. You will see there are prices ranging from $269 all the way up to $1229. So since this is your first iPad, maybe you decide you want to be a little on the simpler side and you decide $399 is what you saw in an advertisement and thats what your friend said he spent on one. This is going to be so easy now. Just give me the iPad that costs $399.

Oh. Wait.

There are three models that are $399. Oh for frak’s sake.

Ok so everyone now see’s that maybe Apple isn’t making this easy on anyone. Maybe they could do better. Being the problem solver that I am, here is my solution.

Apple should have three SKU’s. Yeah thats right you head me. I said three and I mean three.

I present to you the new and improved Apple iPad line up.

iPad s, iPad m, and iPad L. Yup, we all know what small medium and large means. Hell we buy clothes this way, french fries this way, and even Apple has always been a fan of the good, better, best model.

The iPad s.

This is what was the iPad mini 4.

The iPad m.

This is what was the new iPad Pro 9.7 inch

The iPad L,

This is what was the new iPad Pro 12 inch.

All iPads should be have cellular. All iPads should have all the same stuff in general. All the same size 64 GB space, all in silver or space grey only, just pick one Apple. They make more money of the colored cases and keyboard cases anyways. They should all have the same chip, the same general battery life, the same quality display, cameras, Touch ID, Apple Pay etc. Software is software, it naturally should also all have the same features.

And here is the kicker, they should all only be a fixed price difference for the display difference. I’d vote for $399, $549, $699.

And ok so you want a super, whiz bang, all the features model. Fine, Apple can add one more SKU and make a 12 inch with 256 GB and some slightly faster chip and make it rose gold (or better yet, ProductRED) for all I care. Have it automatically come with the keyboard and mouse and what have you. Sell it for $999 and be done with it.

So thats it. Four SKUs. No more of this 77 choices thing. What do you think? Doesn’t three, okay now four, choices make for a lot simpler experience. I’m sure that first time customer Alex would love it and I know I would.

I like Windows Phone 8 and the Nokia 920, but I didn’t make the switch.

So I recently got my hands on a new Nokia 920 with Windows Phone 8 and got to use it as my primary phone for two weeks. Before this I was using an iPhone 4s that I have had for about a year. So here’s my review.

nokia-lumia-920-black-front iphone-4

I like the phone. It feels solid, works well and just feels like a nice device. I did feel like it was too big to hold comfortably one handed though which is a common complaint of these phone with larger screens and the 4.5 inch display here is certainly large, especially compared to the 3.5 inch one on the iPhone 4s.

 

 

Things I liked – Hardware:

  • The larger display made taking pictures easier as it was much easier to see what I was shooting. 
  • The volume controls give you a much wider range of choice which I found useful for finding a more comfortable volume when listening to different styles of music.
  • Default 32 GB of space meant I didn’t have to worry as much about what to put on the phone or if I would run out of space while recording video.
  • The camera button does have a hold down halfway to auto focus feature.

Things I liked – Software:

  • The people app acts much more like a customized feed reader from common sources like Twitter and Facebook in addition to being the contacts app. This is actually a really great feature as I can effectively read Facebook without al the ads, fluff, and stupid posts that clutter my feed. The weird part here was that it took awhile to understand this feature and concept until I was actually playing with the phone. 
  • Live Tiles are surprisingly useful. That and coupled with the ability to change the size of the tiles really does make it feel more customized for me and what I wanted to see.

Now I admit I was surprised at some of the nice ideas and things that were different from my iPhone. However as the title suggests there were a few things I didn’t like as well.

Things I didn’t like – Hardware

  • The placement of the buttons on the side. There was no way to hold this phone without feeling like I was going to accidentally hit the sleep/wake button or camera button. 
  • I had to adjust holding the phone constantly in order to use it with one hand. (Seriously I actually felt I was starting to develop pain in my hand because of this thing)
  • Going back to my iPhone I really felt how heavy this thing truly is. (I can’t really say if this is good or bad but more just a very noticeable difference)

Things I didn’t like – Software

  • Games seemed more expensive. Most of the major title games were all going for more then the seemingly common $0.99 that iOS apps are. And the selection of free games seemed very “Eh” at best. 
  • No built in free messaging. Granted I was able to download and install Skype and WhatsApp messenger but both are somewhat clunky and I didn’t realize how much I would miss iMessage and Google Voice.
  • Speaking of Skype, if I logged into my phone with a MS account, you would think it would ask me to auto login with same Skype account. It didn’t.
  • The few apps I used on a regular basis (GroupMe, Skype, WordPress, WhatsApp, GunBros) didn’t really work all that well. Occasional crashes and deleted data etc. really provide for a overfeeling of just being half baked.
  • Lots of extra menus or gestures to being up info. Hey I like whitespace as much as the next person but with such a large screen I just found it annoying to have to go though extra taps or swipe. Especially the menu bar at the top. Just permanently leave it there for the love of all that is good in the world.

So overall that biggest impression I had was that while this is a nice phone and OS, I had no reason to switch whatsoever. I suppose if I had never used a smart phone before then maybe I might consider this phone along side an iPhone or Android device but as an upgrade it just made no sense. There were plenty of little annoyances and no feature or functions that would make me want to switch. I always thought that when it comes to competing in a market you have to do three things… 1. Do everything the competition does. 2. Only better. 3. And then some.

A few questionable design issues, and nothing I can’t already do on my iPhone, I felt no reason to switch.

Music makes the world go funky

I like music. I know it’s hard to believe but there it it.

In high school, I was that guy who liked a ton of music. I had a bumping car stereo with obscenely loud subwoofers and I liked school dances. The reason I think about this lately is that I have spent many an hours on the train commuting and it’s nice to put on a pair of headphone (in this case a pair of Sennheisers) and completely block out the world and enjoy some great tunes. It’s nice to catch up on old music from when I was a kid and discover new music too. For as much “garbage” music there is, there is also a lot of hidden gems. I download the free iTunes single of the week every week and a lot of times I find a good song that sure enough ends up on the billboard hot 100 at some point in the future.

I am also relearning about sound quality. I have spent so long listening to MP3’s, AAC, or other compressed formats that I find I have forgotten how good CD quality sound really was. I have always been able to tell the difference between the compressed and uncompressed versions and it has become more apparent as I listen to some old cd’s. This of course brings me to a really interesting observation. There has been this resurgence of over the ear high quality headphones. Beats by Dre being the seemingly most popular. However I can’t for the life of me fathom why people would by “high end” headphones at $200 to listen to crappy quality music. By quality I mean compression ration, not taste is music because Lord knows that debate could range to the end of time and then some.

So this has led me to a new project for the year. I am going to re rip my entire 400 some odd cd collection into full quality AIFF format. This is the format that the file actually is on the CD. (Give or a take some quibbles) I have an unused 1 TB hard drive for this purpose and I look forward to enjoying all that music again in a high quality format. Of course this means I might have to go to a *gasp* CD store and actually fill in the blanks of some of the purchased stuff from online.

So compressed of not, I recommend starting off the new year with a rediscover of all that old music you love. So turn it up and get down with your bad self.

Really YouTube, I don’t think so.

So awhile ago I made a little video because I was bored and I posted it on YouTube.

Here it is in original form in case YouTube decides to get all uppity about it.

[stream provider=video flv=x:/weirdguy.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/OreoTripleDouble.mp4 embed=false share=false width=640 height=360 dock=true controlbar=over bandwidth=high autostart=false /]

Now after this I received an email from YouTube informing me of a copyright violation. I  thought this might be because my video clearly shows some logos for Oreo and what not. I was wrong. It was about the music. Here’s the email below.

“Dear djpoing,

Your video, Triple Double, may have content that is owned or licensed by INgrooves.

No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.

Sincerely,
– The YouTube Team”

The music in question they are referring to is FanFare of the Common Man by Aaron Copland. I looked it up referring to the link they provided and followed up on the company that supposedly owns this music. They don’t have it listed on their site as available for license. Likewise on the YouTube page with this video, it lists a different company and artist as the soundtrack. And the worst part of all this is that the song is over 60 years old which means it is technically part of the Public Domain and therefore available for use for everyone. But it is even more trickier then that. See you can renew a copyright to a performance of the music. Of course this particular piece of music is played by every high school and college band a hundred times every year.  And sometimes the recording rights can be sold, transferred or reapplied to a different version of the recording. And this is why I am really beginning to hate copyright and or patent law. Definitely broken.

In other news Oreo did indeed release a Triple Double cookie. It tasted good. (and yes I know I need to go on a diet)

OS X Lion Tip & Trick #1 (updated)

This is actually more of an annoyance then anything but I will point it out anyways. Apple has introduced a new version of scrolling in their latest operating system. It is designed to mimic the scrolling on the iPad. This is fine except for 2 reasons. Reason #1 is that they turn this behavior on by default. You would think after 20 something years of people scrolling the other way they would leave that the default and give you the option to turn it to the new way. Reason #2 is that if you are using a third party mouse on your Apple desktop, say like a Microsoft or Logitech with a few buttons on it; there is no way to turn this new scrolling off. Yup thats right. Apple has made a programing change to the operating system that requires you to have an Apple branded mouse or tack pad in order to change the settings. Since I just so happen to have had an Apple mouse, (that I had to dig around to find as it was in the garage) I did find that once you turn the scrolling behavior back to it’s normal default you can then un plug the Apple mouse and continue to use the mouse of your choice. Still this is really annoying.

 

Yeah see the part that says “Move content in the direction…”

Mouse System Pref Pane for Lion
It doesn’t show up unless you have a Apple mouse plugged in.
Way to go Apple. (sarcasm)
I will have a more thorough review of Apple later so stay tuned.


UPDATE: After poking around on a few forums and talking to some others it appears as though this is a random incident depending on how old your mouse is. Some folks are reporting that their Logitechs are working just fine. So your mileage may very.