Not a Van

Ben Brooks decided a car (van) metaphor was most appropriate to explain the limitations he felt with the Google Nexus 7 tablet, so of course this gets a linkup on Daily Exhaust:

Let me use a car metaphor for you (because you love it when I do that). Imagine you own three vans: a “normal” 7-8 seat minivan, a 10 passenger van, and a 15 passenger van. Odds are that the two most used vans are the smallest and the largest. The 10 passenger isn’t that much larger than the minivan and isn’t that much smaller than the 15 passenger van. And so the 10 passenger van only has a 1,000 miles on it after 10 years.

I prefer to keep with Jobs’ metaphor of (desktop) PCs becoming the ‘trucks’ of computing as society becomes more mobile and urban and now needs tablet ‘cars’ to get around. Not only because I hate the idea of comparing tablets to vans, but because I have no point of reference for van usefulness.
[Digression: You know how bad a decade the 80’s was for cars? It was so bad, I thought the A-Team’s black van—with it’s diagonal stripe up the side ending in a spoiler on the roof (???)—was badass. I (and many other of my generation) thought a van was a cool ride. Let that marinate in your head for a minute.]
Back to the Nexus 7. It sounds like the Nexus 7 is more like a Smart Car in my world where the iPhone is a Ducati motorcycle and my iPad is a Volkswagen GTI. Sure the Smart Car is smaller than my GTI, but my GTI still gets good mileage and I have no problem parking it on the street in the city. Plus, I don’t have nearly as much fun with the Smart Car as I do with with my manual shift, turbo-charged GTI.
[Sidenote: my father bought himself a 2008 GTI a few years ago. Something fun to drive on the weekends. One weekend the two of us took a ride together and he let me drive. We reached a stop sign before one of the main roads in my home town and before we I pulled out my father said, “Drop it into 2nd gear and floor it” I did what he said and the car yanked me back on my seat. My dad laughed. What a fun ride.)]


Another bit worth mentioning from Siricusa’s Mountain Lion Review regarding how Apple handles (or doesn’t handle) messaging in the new Messages applicaiton (it replaced iChat):

The new interface combined with the new protocol leads to an experience that I found confusing. Send a message using the Messages application and a window may appear on one or more Mac screens, a notification dialog (and sound) may appear on iPads or iPod touches, and someone’s phone may vibrate in their pocket. Oops, did you just mean to send a message to your colleague down the hall as he sat at his Mac? Or did you mean to send a text to someone’s phone and not cause an alert to appear on his iPad which is currently being used by his child to play a game?

This is going to be a tough nut for Apple (and everyone else making mobile devices) to crack. Many of us are living in a multi iOS device world and can benefit greatly when all our devices are data- media- and message-synced. But only once we have said synchronization do we realize all the rules needed to make such a feature useful.
The same thing happened with the photostream in iCloud. When I first set it up, I thought, “Great! Now I have all my photos on all my devices.” I was only after living with photo synchronization did I realize I didn’t want every photo synced on every iOS device I own. Eventually, Apple added the ability to remove photos from Photostream on a per-device basis.
I see the same thing happening here, it’s all about Apple’s baby steps. Get to core functionality down, then slowing layer in added controls and customizations. In this case, mirror messaging across all devices on a particular iTunes account and once messaging is working give people the ability to control what devices get what messages and when.
Remember, when Apple introduces a feature, they want to get it right the first time, like copy-and-paste. I’m willing to bet they’ve already been working on mutli-device message synchronization. It’s just not ready for prime time yet.

Sync Your Wife’s iPhone. Now.

Do me a favor. Make sure your wife’s (of girlfriend’s) iPhone has been synced and has an iCloud account associated with it. Right now. Do it.
I’m not saying this to sound like Don Draper. I’m saying this because most of women I know don’t sync their iPhones. Like my friend Frank, who texted me frantically this weekend because his baby daughter drooled all over his wife’s iPhone and then she plugged it in to charge it and it got ‘fried’.
Now the photos of their daughter’s first 6 months of life are gone.
Apple’s Genius Bar people said the only option they had left was to use a third party data recovery company to get their data back. Oh, and it would probably run them over $1,000 (*I told Frank to drop the iPhone into a container of dry rice. This helps suck out all the moisture from electronic devices and sometimes can save them from water (or drool) damage. It’s no guarantee but it’s worth trying.).
Some people are wary of iCloud. They’re wary of trusting all their data ‘in the cloud’. Frank’s wishing he had it right now.
Update: While you’re at it, you should also remind those non-techie friends of yours in finance to back up their iPhones too. And your Uncle Bob too.


This site, for the most part, is for thoughts I have to get out of my head. Hence, the ‘exhaust’ in Daily Exhaust.
If you’re interested in what I consume during Intake (if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, familiarize yourselves with the 4-stroke cycle of an engine), check out my Pinterest feed. Pinterest is great and gives a home to things not deserving of a post on this site. Expect to find lots of images of cars, vintage graphics, gadgets, cases for gadgets, beautiful posters, t-shirt graphics, some more cars and books I want to read.

Fine. Windows 8 is Fully-Baked.

At Ars Technica, Peter Bright has a review of Windows 8, and it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows:

Using the desktop with fingers is horrible in Windows 7, and it remains horrible in Windows 8. It will probably stay horrible until the end of time. It’s not a surprise to anyone that this is the case, and it’s precisely why we have the Metro interface and why Microsoft has stopped trying to get tablet users to use mouse-oriented interfaces. This isn’t just an issue with “legacy applications” or anything like that, either; even brand new interfaces, such as Explorer’s ribbon, do not work well with touch.

I take back my statement that the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8 are half-baked.
Microsoft’s vision for the future of computing is fully-baked, they just don’t know how to cook.
If you’re asking yourself why, go read the scathing article in this month’s Vanity Fair – Microsoft’s Lost Decade. When you see how they run things at that company, all this disfunction makes perfect sense.

Here’s to the hypercritical ones…

I’m about one third of the way through John Siricusa’s 24-page tome of a review of OS X Mountain Lion.

As is expected from Hypercritical Man, he did a thorough job. He discovered the icon for Notes application “includes the partial text of the narration (“Here’s to the crazy ones…”) from Apple’s Think Different ad campaign” (Page 7 of his review):


If you’ve seen the Think Different commercial before, go watch it again. Still as powerful as when it debuted.

Gardens Need Walls

Since Apple launched the App Store in 2008, there’s been an ever-increasing amount of attention paid to how it’s a ‘walled garden’. Most of the people who use this term usually say this is a bad thing and are proponents of Android’s ‘open’ platform.
The thing is, if there’s any place that needs walls, it’s a garden.
A few months ago, I carved out a garden in my backyard and had sod laid down so we could have a real lawn. Since I’ve started these two projects rabbits have been eating my grass like McDonald’s French fries and they’ve also snacked on the string bean plants which have finally started to sprout. My landlord gave me a gallon of rodent repellant that literally smells like shit but has garlic in it, and apparently rabbits hate garlic, like vampires. As far as I can tell rabbits are just as evil as vampires and only come out at night. And lets not even talk about the gophers. Oh the goddamn gophers. I’ve become Bill Murray’s character in Caddy Shack. I’ve tried smoke bombs and hoses down holes but the resilient bastards come back every day to bust open a new hole in my yard.
What made me think about all this App Store and garden stuff was a recent post by Matt Gemmell:

If you’re not in the mobile apps business to make money, then great – congratulations. This is your bus stop. Off you go. Have a nice life. I, however, am in business to make money. I write code because I like doing that, but the business part is about making money. Otherwise I’d be a hobbyist, and I’d be doing something else during the day. I’m thrilled to be able to do something I enjoy as a business, and I’m doubly thrilled to do it from the comfort of my own home.

Whilst the aforementioned story about the Android game didn’t surprise me, it did horrify me. Android is designed to be difficult to make money from, and the core issue is that it’s open – with the corrosive mentality that surrounds such openness.

So it dawned on me—I designed a garden (read: mobile app) for the rodents (read: pirates), not the me, the gardener (read: developer). I’ve set up a system where, by design, I have to constantly defend my property. I’m treating the symptoms of an open system, rather than the cause. The solution? A wall. It could be a literal fence around my property or putting my plants into those wooden planter boxes so they’re raised off the ground and harder animals to get at. You know why it’s called a green house? Because, well, everything is green inside and not a bunch of barren, chewed-down stumps.
Are walls the answer for everything in life? I don’t think so, but when you bring money into the equation, walls (e.g., vaults, fences, passwords, security) sure can help.
Apple’s ‘walls’ take many forms:

  1. An iTunes account is required to buy apps (even free apps)
  2. You can’t email or post app files to a server to share with people (see #1)
  3. You need to be a registered developer to create an app
  4. If you’re developing an app, it needs to be approved to be let into the App Store
  5. If you’re developing an app, you can’t use private APIs (see #3)

These are just a few of the examples of the types of walls Apple uses to create the kind of ecosystem where consumers can be confident they can find quality apps they’re willing to pay for and where developers can be confident they’ll be able to find customers for their creations.
So remember, a garden (and sometimes a lawn) with a wall is a healthy garden.