Good Design Is Efficient

Fortune shows us just how much more productive Apple is than the rest of the tech industry:

In the quarter that ended in September — not its best, mind you — the company generated sales of $28.3 billion and net income of $6.62 billion, or nearly $110,000 profit per employee.

Yes, Apple’s products are great, but that’s just part of the story. They’re also extremely efficient at how they go about creating those products.
Good design is efficient (this should really be in Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles for Good Design).

It Should Know

When I come across links I want to comment on and post to this site, sometimes I’ll email them to myself from my iPhone. It’s not the most elegant process, but it’s simple and it works.
The problem comes when I open said link on my laptop.
This is what I see.
I was listening to an episode of The Talk Show with John Gruber and Dan Benjamin earlier this year and Gruber made a great suggestion. He said in the same way a regular webpage knows to serve you the mobile-optimized version when you’re on your phone, the opposite should also be true – when you open a mobile-optimized version of a web page on your desktop computer, it should know to redirect you to the regular version.


This is why I always wait to buy my latest gadgets, even from Apple:

Today, my iPhone died after about 8 hours–not even enough to get me through a full day without recharging (and this is typical). This was not 8 hours of constant use (unless you count the constant pinging of notifications, which may be the culprit). It was 8 hours total from the time I unplugged it in the morning and took it with me until the screen went black at around 4 PM. According to the specs, the iPhone 4S is supposed to get 200 hours of standby time, 8 hours of talk time, and “up to 6 hours” of Internet use on 3g. During the day, I made half a dozen calls less than 5 minutes each, used the Internet for an hour on the train (email, Twitter, light Web browsing), and then maybe another 90 minutes throughout the day.

My rule of thumb when upgrading operating systems for my desktop Mac and my iPhone and when buying new hardware is to just wait. There’s no correct number, but most of the time this means waiting 3-6 months.
Usually in that timeframe bugs have been fixed software patches have been released.
Most of my non-techie friends automatically assume I’m first to get any new Apple product. While I’m aware of the latest developments in the tech industry on a daily basis, I wouldn’t call myself bleeding edge when it comes to purchasing gadgets.

Microsoft Has Great Vision

So Microsoft has decided to thrill us with another future vision video. They want to show us what the future is like.
I wrote about this in 2009 when they released their future vision piece for 2019. Everything I said then applies now.
This is why it’s taken so long to get their new mobile phones and tablets to the masses – they’re too busy planning our future! Cut ’em some slack!

Steve’s Plates

I always wondered how Steve Jobs remained above the law with his license plateless Mercedes.
iTWire has the story:

Steve (or someone close to him) spotted a loophole in the California vehicle laws. Anyone with a brand new car had a maximum of six months to affix the issued number plate to the vehicle.

So Jobs made an arrangement with the leasing company; he would always change cars during the sixth month of the lease, exchanging one silver Mercedes SL55 AMG for another identical one. At no time would he ever be in a car as old as six months; and thus there was no legal requirement to have the number plates fitted.

I could never do this. When I get car, I get it for the long haul. I want it to become an extension of me. But I guess if you don’t have a passion for cars, this is no big deal.
via The Loop

The Yukon In Your Brain

My brother Mark has great nuggets of culture and imagery over at his site, Twurts & Geekery.
I especially liked this quote he dug up:

I find it quite fucked up that the most outlandish thoughts can pay for your existence. The most bizarre thoughts you may have had in 1994 on an Ecstasy tab can turn into money, which turns into houses, which turns into cat food. It’s the Yukon in our brain, it’s a gold rush, it’s all sitting there, and it’s worth money.

-Grant Morrison, comic book writer

Primitive Internet

From the Boston Globe:

On Oct. 24, 1861, with the push of a button, California’s chief justice, Stephen J. Field, wired a message from San Francisco to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, congratulating him on the transcontinental telegraph’s completion that day. He added the wish that it would be a “means of strengthening the attachment which binds both the East and the West to the Union.”


Sun and iClouds

Katie Fehrenbacher for GigaOM reports that Apple is building a solar farm for it’s data center:

Apple has been laying plans for a solar farm next to its massive data center in Maiden, North Carolina, according to The Charlotte Observer. The solar project — dubbed Project Dolphin Solar Farm — will reportedly be built on 171 acres of land across the street from Apple’s planned $1 billion data center, which had the code name Project Dolphin, but is now being called iDataCenter, and will likely partly serve the Apple’s cloud-based service iCloud.

It’s great to see they’re investing in solar.

I don’t know where your keys are, Grandpa.

Terrence O’Brien for Engadget on the retirement of Windows XP, or lack thereof:

It’s hard to believe that it was ten years ago today that Windows XP first hit retail shelves. It’s even more astonishing when you realize that it was still the most popular operating system in the world until the beginning of this month.

Windows XP is like when your Grandpa still has a legit driver’s license but you and all your family know damn well he has no business on the road. So you end up hiding his keys for him and offer to take him where ever he needs to go.
“I don’t want you to drive my ass, I just want my damn keys!”
It’s time someone took XP’s keys away from him.

iCloud – At Least the Foundation Is Solid

Dave Caolo vents about iCloud in iOS 5 (via The Loop):

iCloud’s Photo Stream feature is handy, in that it pushes photos shot with a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to Apple’s servers and then back to other authorized devices. Meanwhile, iOS 5 has tweeting built in, so there’s a temptation to shoot photo with Apple’s Camera app and then tweet it from the Camera Roll.

That’s fast and convenient, but also a hindrance. Specifically, my iPhone, iPad and Mac are now cluttered with space-hogging one-offs I shot for the sake of a tweet or a Facebook update. 1 What’s worse is that you can’t delete such throw-away photos from your Photo Stream with an iDevice. Instead, you’ve got to visit and click “Reset Photo Stream,” which nukes the lot, good and bad. That’s why I’ve started using Camera+ again for tweeting pictures.

I’ve noticed this too as someone who recently upgraded his first gen iPad and iPhone 4 to iOS 5.
The chain of my reactions to said iCloud issue/feature/bug has been:
1) Awesome! Everything is synchronized!
and then:
2) Shit, everything is synchronized.
The glass-half-full side of me sees this as the iCloud ‘1.0’. Which it is. Like iOS 1.0 (aka iPhone OS), iCloud has issues. It’s missing features, but as far as this specific gripe about synchronization, from the Apple side of things, this is great. Everything is working as it’s supposed to. The foundation has been laid.
I’m not trying to spin things as iCloud being perfect, because it’s not, but things could be a lot worse. This could be MobileMe all over again. Remember, we just learned in the last week of Steve Jobs trying to buy Dropbox in 2009 and being turned down. This meant Apple had to figure out file synchronizing on their own.
So yes, things are very raw right now with iCloud and how it handles photos, but improvements are en route.
I guarantee it.
Remember, that’s how Apple rolls.