Posts From January 2012
This year marked my first time to attend the Macworld Expo. Rumors on the show floor were that roughly 20,000 people were in attendance. I met one gentleman who had been coming since 1987.
The event has undergone a lot of change just since 2009. After Apple’s last attendance that year, Macworld moved the traditional January date back to February in 2010. Then in 2011 they moved the event over to Moscone West. And for this year, 2012, they changed the name to “Macworld | iWorld”.
Nobody I spoke with liked the new name, “Macworld | iWorld”. It’s a bit awkward to say and to type. Pretty much everyone just called it “Macworld”. But the new name, awkward or not, is fitting. It goes hand-in-hand with what was happening on the show floor and with what has happened to the Apple ecosystem in general.
At the expo, the vast majority of the 250 booths were somehow related to iDevices. Many booths were selling iPhone and iPad cases, an entire section of the show floor was dedicated just to iOS apps, and I’ve never seen so many people using iPhones in my life. I even overheard a conversation about one lady who had just bought her first iPhone and was at Macworld in order to discover some new apps.
In years past, the entire event was dedicated to the Mac and to desktop software. Then the iPod-related booths began coming in, and now, just five years after the iPhone was announced, the OS X section of the show floor (though it was one of my favorite sections, filled with booths by many of my favorite 3rd-party devs) finds itself back in the corner of the Exhibit Hall. OS X and desktop software will always have a soft spot in my heart, and so in a way it was saddening to see such a relatively small amount of space relegated for what was once Apple’s flagship operating system.
In short, Macworld | iWorld mirrored what the charts have been saying for quite some time: iOS is the future of Apple.
The Macworld brand holds too much history and clout to be dropped altogether (I assume). But if it did not, then I could see the next change for this event being to change the name altogether to just “iWorld”. Surely the day will come when the majority of attendees at the Expo will own an iPhone and/or iPad, but not a Mac.
In addition to being my first Macworld event, this was also the first time I’ve spent any significant amount of time in Moscone West.
Moscone West is a beautiful building. It is large and open, full of natural light, clean, and easy to find your way around in. When I walked into the Exhibit Hall on Thursday morning, the whole room smelled like a newly-unpacked Nintendo Entertainment System — you know? that fresh gadget smell?
The show floor was lined with wall-to-wall blue carpet. The vendor booths were arranged side-by-side and back-to-back in order to create the 9 aisles that attendees walked up and down. It was jam packed with people every time I was in there.
I had an iFan pass that got me access to the show floor and to the panels and sessions being held upstairs, but only a few piqued my interest enough to pull me away from meeting with people downstairs in the Exhibit Hall — like most attendees, the majority of my time at Macworld Expo was spent walking the show room floor. Moreover, many of my favorite panels were held on the Macworld Live stage, which was located in the back of the Exhibit Hall.
The three sessions I did catch were: - 40 Tips in 40 Minutes with David Sparks, Merlin Mann, and Brett Terpstra; - The State of Apple live panel with Jason Snell, Andy Ihnatko, and John Gruber; and - Less Than Perfect Apps live panel with Lex Friedman, John Gruber, Dave Wiskus, Guy English, Glenn Fleishman, and Paul Kafasis.
Each of these sessions were packed with standing room only. We arrived about 30 minutes early to each session in order to get front row seats. After each presentation ended, it was always an honor to shake hands with some of these guys for the first time.
Additionally, many of my favorite 3rd-party developers were there as exhibitors: Smile software, Studio Neat, Realmac, Flexibits, BusyMac, Omni, Rogue Amoeba, and others. It was great to meet these guys as well.
According to the event guide, there were roughly 250 booths. The first booth I noticed when entering the Exhibit Hall was the Omni Group booth. They were right in front by the main entrance and basically had a small OmniLivingRoom set up with tables, iPads, iMacs, and a giant Samsung TV. Their booth was filled with Omni employees that I had the privilege of talking to, and they regularly had guests give software demos via the television. They were passing out Omni-branded M&Ms, utility notebooks, and large manilla envelopes the size of an iPad 2.
For each booth I visited, one of the default questions I would ask was how the show is going. Every exhibitor replied that it was going great. Many of the booths were selling physical goods — such as Doxie, Studio Neat, and the ōlloclip guys — and a few exhibitors let me know that they had more than paid for their booth space through retail sales. A lot of booths even sold out of their inventory.
To me, the best booths were those staffed by the actual owners or developers. I got a demo from the guys at Rage Software and left impressed by one of their SEO apps. Nik Fletcher gave us a demo of Clear. Dan and Tom were manning the Studio Neat booth and selling Cosmonauts faster than I could write this sentence. And I got to meet Greg and Jean at the Smile booth; it’s nice to shake hands with someone who’s awesome software has literally helped you shave hours of your work week.
The Polk Audio booth became my default conversation starter. They had a giant section in the middle of the showroom floor in order to sell their new sports in-ear headphones and had a skier, a snowboarder, and a gymnast all doing tricks and flips on a big trampoline. It was a blast to watch.
Macworld Expo placed a strong emphasis on apps and products that were launching that weekend during the event.
Among other great products, the most notable Macworld announcements in recent years have been the iPhone and the MacBook Air. However, now that Apple is no longer in attendance at Macworld there is not nearly the same large draw for people around the world to look to Macworld for announcements about what is new.
In the Event Guide, on the page listing all of the exhibitors on the show floor, a special “First Looks” icon was placed next to each exhibitor’s name if they were launching a product at Macworld | iWorld. From the brochure:
The Macworld | iWorld First Looks Program is all about highlighting new-to-market products that will debut at the show, and helping attendees and the media learn more about them. During Macworld | iWorld, First Looks product walls will be on display throughout the Moscone Center to help attendees identify and locate the products being introduced. Be the first to see and test all the new products launching at Macworld | iWorld.
I didn’t see the product walls during the event, but it did seem clear to me that Macworld was making a concerted effort to reward companies who launched something new during the Expo.
In addition to the First Looks stuff, I learned during the event that for an app or a product to be eligible for a Macworld Best of Show award it had to launch during the event. Exhibitors with booths at Macworld who had launched a new app last fall were, unfortunately, ineligible for the award.
It’s important for Macworld | iWorld to be more than just a consumer-facing exposition event, and encouraging vendors to launch new products at the event is a great way to keep cultivating Macworld as a seedbed for breaking news.
From a professional standpoint, attending Macworld was a no-brainer. As a writer, meeting peers in my field and developers whose products I write about was invaluable. Relatedly, I didn’t crack my MacBook Air open one time during the whole event. All the notes I took, all the links I posted, all the writing I did, I did from my iPhone. How fitting, eh?
From a personal standpoint, the conference felt more like a vacation than a business trip. All my time in San Francisco was spent with friends and peers. Either hanging out and walking the exhibit hall, sitting in on panels, visiting the Apple campus, or sharing a meal or a coffee.
I had many conversations with exhibitors, attendees, and press folk, and nobody I met or spoke with was disappointed that they were there. In short, Macworld 2012 was a fantastic show filled with fantastic folks. I’ll see you again in 2013.
As an indie tech writer, I mostly communicate with my peer community through tweets, emails, instant messages, direct messages, Instagrams, and text messages.
That’s why I’m in San Francisco this week for Macworld. Though I will surely write about the event and what transpires this week, that’s not my primary purpose for attending. I’m not here as a journalist with the goal of covering this Apple-centric event so much as I am here to meet the Mac nerds I am privileged to work alongside all year long.
A handshake and a “nice to meet you” is worth so much more than an @reply. A conversation over a cup of coffee is better than two dozen emails.
I’m not here for the event, but for the folks who’ll be filling the sidewalks and the Expo Floor. Putting faces to bylines and building real-world relationships with those who I read and write about make my job back home far more enjoyable.
There are four primary components to publishing a book:
Writing and Editing: The first and most important component to publishing a book is the actual writing of it followed by the editing of that writing.
Distribution: How will you sell it and distribute it?
Medium: Will it be a PDF, an eBook, a physical book, or any combination? And now there is a new medium: an iBooks book. This is more akin to book-app combos such as Our Choice by Al Gore and Push Pop Press.
Our Choice is a deeply interactive book that shipped as a standalone iPad app. However, version 2 of iBooks now supports books like this natively. If you want to make a powerful, interactive, unique-looking book you can do so via Apple’s new tools, and then you can ship and sell them as books, not apps.
Design / Layout: Until today, if you wanted a book that worked like Our Choice then you needed to hire an iOS developer to build your book in Xcode. If you were designing a PDF or eBook you could do it in Microsoft Word or Pages, or for more control of the design you could use Adobe InDesign. The cost of these tools ranges from $19 (for Pages), to hundreds of dollars (for InDesign), to thousands of dollars (to hire iOS devs).
But now, if you want to make an attractive and interactive eBook you don’t have to hire an iOS developer to build you a dedicated app. If you are even remotely familiar with Pages then you’ll be able to take what you’ve written and turn it into a good looking and interactive book for the iPad and then distribute it on the iBookstore to an audience of millions of iPad owners who can buy it and download it with one tap.
In short, the iBooks Author app is a huge breakthrough for the independent writer and publisher. In this author’s humble opinion, this new and free app from Apple was the primary announcement of Apple’s education event today.
iBooks Author is the iPad SDK for writers and publishers. And it’s been simplified so it’s as easy to use as a word processor.
The Web is the most empowering tool for organized, creative folks in the history of the world. If you have an idea and you are willing to work hard, then you can ship something.
Between the inception of an idea and its advent there is a great deal of hard work and many opportunities to quit. It takes skill and character to push through and ship something when you’re afraid of failing, or of being embarrassed, or even afraid of succeeding (What if this actually works!?).
However, courage isn’t the only character trait needed when it comes to turning our ideas into something tangible…
I suspect many of you can relate to the dilemma of having more ideas than time. Which means that, in addition to endurance, we also need discernment to know what ideas are worth pursuing and what ideas we should let go of.
Discernment is anything but an exact science, but I do have a bit of a routine that I find myself acting out every time one of my ideas seems to have an extra amount of energy behind it.
The first rule of ideas is that they have no rules. They can strike at any moment, but they prefer awkward locations when we cannot write anything down. Such as: when mowing the lawn, taking a shower, driving to the airport, or working out at the gym.
The reason ideas love to pop up at these times is because when our mind is at rest doing a mindless task or routine (such as showering), things are free to float to the surface. Not only do new ideas come to us at these times, but also solutions to current problems. As Paul Graham says, what one thinks about in the shower in the morning is quite important.
My first reaction to a new idea is to write it down as soon as I can. Since the idea is still organic and fresh at first, it’s important to jot it down in its purest form. Also, by writing the idea down it clears my mind to continue thinking about the idea some more and even exploring its grander scope. Or sometimes, after I’ve written the idea down I have nothing more to think about and my mind is clear once again.
This is why I keep a waterproof notepad in the shower, I have a Keyboard Maestro shortcut key that brings up a new TextEdit window in a split second, and I keep DropVox close by on my iPhone’s 2nd Home screen.
Once I’ve written down the idea, I let it simmer. Sometimes I keep thinking on it over the next days, weeks, or months, and sometimes I forget about it altogether.
If I find that it keeps coming back to me, I’ll bring it up in conversation during dinner with Anna to see what she thinks about. And, if I’ve already thought of a cool name for this new project or venture then I’ll buy the URL as well. (More ideas than time, but also, more URLs than ideas shipped.)
If Anna likes it even a little bit, then I’ll start crunching the practical details and asking myself a lot of questions:
- If this idea were to turn into something tangible then what does that look like?
- How will the website work?
- How will I market it?
- Will I be proud of it?
- How much of my time will it take to build and ship it, and then how much time will go into maintaining it?
- Will it be worth my time? What is the expected return on my investment of time and money? (And that return doesn’t necessarily have to be a directly financial one — sometimes new projects have indirect financial returns through other means.)
If all of the above seem viable, then I begin pitching it to some trusted friends in order to get their feedback. I ask them to shoot holes in the idea and tell me why the name (and thus the URL) is dumb. I ask them to tell me what they do and don’t like about it and if they think it could work.
And so, if everything seems to add up and the idea just won’t go away, that is usually when I decide to go for it.
Going for it doesn’t guarantee success. But to me, that’s not entirely the point. I want to take risks, try new things, and continue to build and create. If I was guaranteed to succeed then it wouldn’t be called a risk. And if I waited for the can’t-fail moment, then I would never try anything new. The key is discerning what’s worth going for and what’s worth shelving.
They say good is the enemy of great, and I agree. Some ideas, as good as they are, should be left alone so that when a great idea comes along there is a place for it. Discerning the difference between a good idea and a great one takes practice and the support of trusted friends and advisors.
Dustin Curtis, while giving Vizio a hard time about their marketing, hits on a very important and relevant issue:
People stopped buying computers based on specifications and features years ago. All computers sold now are practically identical in functionality. Today, people are increasingly buying computers the same way they buy cars: to define themselves.
That’s an interesting and very touchy thought, and I mostly agree with Dustin. I realize this is a very deep and personal topic and I am not going to give it the justice it deserves in this one post, but it is a topic worthy of consideration. It is the topic of people trying to be defined by their stuff. It is the consumerist culture. It is something that Chris and I talked about on his latest episode of Creatiplicity, and it is something that came out strongly in Mat Honan’s vulnerable CES article.
You can tell a lot about a man by looking at the sort of car he drives, the grill in his back yard, the phone in his pocket, or the computer in his office. But there is no right or wrong answer here — bigger and more expensive stuff is not at all synonymous with good character and high moral values. In fact, sadly, often the opposite is true.
Instead, look at how he (or she) treats his family. What is his character like? Look at his relationships and his beliefs and how he spends his time. These things — the metaphysical, the intangible — they are the true extension of the soul.
I may drive a Jeep because I’m a Colorado boy at heart, and I may own a charcoal grill because I like things “pure”, and I may own Apple gadgets because I have an affinity for fine software. So yes, you can tell a lot about me by the things I own. But they are just that — things. They can be stolen, broken, taken, and lost. They should never become distractions to the things that matter most, nor should I ever allow them to define my character, my relationships, and my beliefs.
Sadly, most of the junk mail I get these days is from companies I already do business with.
I’ve been with my bank for a decade. I run my business finances through them, my personal checking account, a savings account, and my home mortgage. About twice a week I get a letter in the mail from them trying to sell me a new credit card or insurance package. Last week I got an application for a debit card rewards program that I am already enrolled in. Alas, as a customer, I’ve been told I cannot opt out of this junk mail.
I’ve been getting my internet service from Time Warner Cable for 9 years. They provide the fastest internet in my neighborhood and I have always subscribed to their top-of-the-line service plan. About once a month I get a letter in the mail that says “Urgent Customer Information” on the envelope. Yet I open the letter only to find that it is junk mail, trying to up-sell me to a phone and TV package as well.
My wife and I have been AT&T customers since 2007. We have a family plan with unlimited texting, and the expensive data plan for our iPhones. For years they sent me junk mail trying to get me to sign up for their U-Verse services. One day I finally called to look into it only to find out that it wasn’t even available in my neighborhood.
Getting junk mail and advertisements from companies I don’t do business with is annoying enough. But getting it from the companies which I have been a long-time and deeply invested customer is quite annoying.
I understand the need to make known new services and new promotions to your customer base. If TWC gets a newer and faster internet service I want to know about it so I can consider upgrading.
You would think that at the bare minimum a company would let me opt out of their junk mail, would not cry wolf by pretending their junk mail is urgent when it’s really just and ad, and would not waste our time by trying to sell me something that I can’t even buy.
Alas, these companies are not targeting me with a relevant promotion. I am simply a name on a database that they know is up-to-date because I paid my bill last month.
Blanket marketing is easy because all it takes is money — you design a flyer and send it to as many addresses as you can find. It’s like throwing spaghetti at your customers to see what sticks on who.
Relevant marketing, however, is hard because it requires thought and planning.
Five years ago, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, he said the software was 5 years ahead of what was on any other phone:
Now, software on mobile phones is like baby software. It’s not so powerful. And today, we’re going to show you a software breakthrough. Software that’s at least 5 years ahead of what’s on any other phone.
This is a tough thing to answer because you can’t just set iOS down next to Windows Phone and webOS and Android and make a clear cut judgment that yes they have finally caught up to iOS or that no they haven’t.
Dan Frommer takes a swing and writes some good thoughts:
So, was the iPhone really 5 years ahead of everyone? Have any of Apple’s competitors caught up to the original iPhone, let alone today’s?
Yes and no.
It’s true. If you were to compare feature to feature only, then Android and iOS come out pretty much even. They are both touch-screen operating systems. They both have scrolling list views, Web browsers, and email clients. And they both have an app store.
But in many ways, iOS and Android are on two different planets.
The user experience is certainly different between the two. And while Android is much more responsive in version 4.0, there are still no killer 3rd-party apps, and Android still feels a bit awkward.
And that is what I think Steve Jobs was talking about when he said that the iPhone was at least 5 years ahead.
For Steve and for Apple, software is not just about the feature set. It’s about the entire user experience. The fact that the original iPhone didn’t have copy and paste is a testament to how Apple sees the user experience as more important than the feature set. In that regard, 5 years later, iOS is still ahead.
You can use Apple’s ideas and you can copy their products, but you cannot copy the time and energy they put into those products, and you cannot copy their attention to detail. Those you have to do on your own. Five years later, some companies still haven’t figured that out.
Who are you, what do you do, etc…?
I am Brian Stucki. I live in Las Vegas with my wife and 2.6 kids. (We’re due in April with our first girl.) I’m a fan of history, travel and golf. Though, I’m so bad that my golf game probably deserves to be history. Most of my stuff is located at BrianStucki.com and I’m @BrianStucki.
I enjoy starting new projects, building them out, and then selling them for funds to invest in something else. My first time was my golf club cleaning business when I was 11. I had 6 customers that would golf then leave their clubs with me to clean up and have ready for them. More recently it’s been blogs about software, TV show fansites, and even a successful iPad app. The projects have all been great reasons to learn new technology and improve business acumen.
I own Macminicolo, which is my main work focus. We’re turning 7 years old soon. When we first introduced the company, there was quite a bit of doubt (Hi, slashdot friends) but now thousands of minis later, the little machines roll on more powerful than ever.
What is your current setup?
I work from my home office nearly all of the time. I have other locations to be “more business official” but the truth is that seeing my wife and kids often is really important to me. In my home, my office is at the end of a long hall where I can close the door and have quiet. (There is usually James Taylor playing to keep me focused.) However, I’ll regularly step away from the desk to play some catch or color the super-hero of the day. I think this balance is critical.
When I’m in my office, I’m working on a black-brown Galant Desk from Ikea. By design, there is a lot of desk space, and it’s nearly always clean. I really, really struggle to think when surrounded by clutter.
For office hardware, I use a Mid-2011 27″ iMac with 16GB of RAM and a 2TB SATA Drive+256GB SSD combo. Sitting beside the iMac is a 27″ Cinema Display, an iPad 2 16GB+3G, (AT&T because coverage is quite good in Las Vegas). I use an iPhone 4S (AT&T). I use an Apple Wireless Keyboard, An Apple Magic Mouse, and have a Magic Trackpad stuffed in my drawer that I used for twenty minutes and haven’t touched since. I use an Airport Extreme to spray wireless throughout the house. I back up to a media Mac mini that’s hard wired to the router, making up one-third of my tri-approach to backups.
For the Macminicolo data center, it’s minis, minis and more minis. Within the next month, there will be one thousand operating Mac minis in the data center. We have some minis that have been here since day one serving for seven continuous years. (1.25 G4 with 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive). And of course, the new i5/i7 machines have been very popular. (1.5TB disk space, 16GB of RAM.)
While in the data center, I use a Mid-2011 MacBook Air. It’s the base version with 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 2GB of RAM.
Two non-Apple hardware items that I use all the time for work and couldn’t function without are a ScanSnap S1500M and a base Kindle. I document all of my travel in the Field Notes County Fair Box Set of all 50 States and keep a good supply of my favorite pen.
Why this rig?
I love the HDD/SSD combo. Nearly all of my everyday stuff is on the SSD (Mail, Apps, iPhoto, etc.) and then I symlink to the HDD for the large data items (iTunes music, iMovie footage, software disk images.) But the best use of the HDD is a nightly place to clone the SSD boot drive without having to have a hard drive plugged into the back of the iMac. It keeps things clean, and keeps me with a bootable backup.
I purchased the 27″ iMac and 27″ Cinema Display because I think any cost in desktop space is proportional to increase in productivity. The iMac screen is showing whatever I’m working on right now. On the Cinema Display, I keep my staple apps open and viewable (i.e. Mail, Twitter for Mac, iChat Buddy list, etc.). Easy to view, quick to reply with customers, etc.
If I am sitting at my desk, the iPad is usually streaming that day’s Red Sox game. When I have a full desktop at my fingertips, I prefer to use it. But if I’m in a meeting the iPad is my main tool. It lets me control Mac minis in the data center, and keep up with all news and messages. I intended to tether my iPad to my iPhone when on the road but that hasn’t happened. It turns out that I still have not disabled the 3G on the iPad itself. It is too convenient to have it always on.
If I am on the move or traveling, my iPhone is nearly always the only technology I have on me. I use to bring around a laptop, and then the iPad, but I later realized that the iPhone can hold me over for an extended period of time. I had an iPhone moment the other day. As I pulled into a parking spot at the store, I was: (1) streaming music to my car via bluetooth; (2) controlling a Mac mini in the data center with Screen Sharing; (3) seeing Twitter notifications drop down; and, (4) beaming my location to my wife (via find my friends) as we were meeting at the nearby restaurant. From a phone. Seriously.
I purchased this laptop for use in the data center. I wondered if the 11-inch screen might be too small but that has proven inaccurate. With Mission Control, full-screen apps, screen sharing, and an incredible battery life, it has been a perfect tool.
I do not think it is possible to list all the activities that the Mac minis are being used for in the data center. We have popular iOS developers hosting here (Bjango.com), numerous Apple employees (who shall remain without name unless they so choose), quite a few Filemaker resellers and small businesses/tinkerers in 47 different countries around the world.
When I say the Mac mini is a great server, I practice what I preach. Our main site, our support site, and our stats/monitoring all run on Mac minis here. I also have some other services running on minis that you may have used in the past Fireballed.org (a mirror for DaringFireball.net), DayliteHosting.com, and our lesser known iPadcolo.net.
What software do you use and for what do you use it?
I suppose it’s easiest to break this up by product line.
Lion: All my machines are using the latest Lion operating system. I still hear of hesitation to upgrade, but I think it’s been quite stable.
Day One: I have kept a journal for 12 years. I am nearing 5000 personal entries spread across paper, books, and applications. It is an absolute treasure to look back on so many important moments of my life. Recently I have moved to Day One and I have found it incredibly well done. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to start a journal.
Money: Of all the money apps on Mac and iOS I think this one is best designed across the board. It is clean, and works well. It falls short when it comes to syncing a high number of entries, but they are introducing iCloud for Mac/iOS soon and that will be great.
1Password: Such a time saver when one tries every new online service and network and has to keep the credentials straight. A little part of me cringes every time a Mac user hand types a password into a site. I also love that it will auto-populate as you log into sites for the first time.
Twitter for Mac: I think Twitter does well with their official Mac client. My only wish is that you could have a separate window for each Twitter account.
Smultron: My favorite text editor. It was free for a long time, but even at its new price , I think it is worth it.
SuperDuper!: I mentioned earlier that I backup my SSD to my internal HDD. Once a week, I clone the 2TB hard drive to an external drive with this app, then take that down to the data center for safe storage. All these years and SuperDuper has never failed me on a bootable backup.
Caffeine for Mac I’m not a coffee drinker (surprisingly Shawn still calls me a friend) so this app is nearly all of the caffeine in my life. It’s a Menu bar item that prevents your Mac from going to sleep or screen saver. If I’m doing other work at my desk and just keeping an eye on the Mac, this prevents the constant mouse jiggle.
Reeder: Sometimes RSS feeds can be a time drain, but I get a lot of new ideas from reading the intelligent posts of others. Reeder makes it easy. The ability to send to Instapaper and other services is second to none.
Tweetbot: The great thing about this app is the design of every little detail. Swipe left to see replies. Tap and hold the icon for options. So intelligent.
Golfshot: Do not waste your time buying and testing other golf apps. Even at the higher price, this one is the best. GPS is accurate. Scoring is thorough. I consider this an essential work app. Everyone needs a place they can clear their mind to think, and the golf course is my place. (I had a roommate in college who thought best in the shower. iPhones are not much use in there.) If I’m struggling with an issue or brainstorming a new business idea,I am usually hitting golf balls somewhere.
Find my Friends: So often, people assume the worst when you and your spouse use this app to keep track of each other. That is too bad. I have complete trust in my wife, and she in me. Whether she is driving home from vacation, or I am waiting for them to meet me at Grandma’s, this app helps us “communicate” without having to distract while driving.
I do wish that you could set a recurring “friend” in the app. In other words, all the MMC staff would share location during business hours on weekdays, but not other times. That’d be very convenient.
Trackthepack: There are a lot of Mac minis flowing in and out of Las Vegas. This iOS and web app has proven perfect to watch them. I like that you can forward shipment emails to the site and it will automatically add it to your account. (And people wonder how we receive a Mac mini and then have it installed within an hour or two. This app is our secret.)
iTeleport: I try all the VNC/Screen Sharing apps in the app store. There are many good ones, and some are better designed, but this one has proven most reliable for me.
Lithium: We use lithium to monitor all bandwidth and traffic on the Macminicolo network. The Lithium Core runs on a Mac mini in the data center and there are Mac/iOS apps to keep an eye on things from afar.
Boxcar: If there is an issue in the data center, we know about it right away thanks to this app. Sends all sorts of notifications. In a more common (and more fun) occurrence, each time a new customer signs up we get a “Cha-ching” notification. It is like my personal Pavlov experiment.
Backpack: We coordinate all Macminicolo happenings with Backpack. I will try every new todo application to run the company, but always seem to come back to this great product. It is a shame that no great iOS clients are available for it.
GoSquared: They have a great dashboard (and a nice free plan) to keep an eye on where your traffic is coming from and going.
Pastebot: Even after all these years, I still prefer the sales emails to come straight to me. I enjoy that interaction. I like to be there when they start getting ideas for their new mini servers. However, there are definitely some questions that I have received over and over. Pastebot is invaluable to give good thorough answers quickly.
How would your ideal setup look and function?
There is no doubt some overlap in my Apple products. I have reasons for picking each (which I’ve tried to list) but it’s clear I could do without one or two of them. The truth is, I don’t want to. I’m not wealthy, but technology is the one place I’m comfortable to splurge a little with money. My shoes are usually a couple years old, I’ve worn the same brand/style of clothes for 20 years, I’m fine with grilled cheese and a pickle for dinner. Like a lot of you, it doesn’t take many possessions to keep me going. But, I do like cutting edge technology, and I like learning what it can do.
So ideal? I suppose it’s whatever is coming next. And I’ll use it while wearing my old clothes and eating my sandwich dinner.
More Sweet Setups
Brian’s setup is just one in a series of sweet Mac Setups.
Macminicolo has previously been a sponsor of the RSS Feed here, but this Sweet Mac Setup post is in no way related to that sponsorship.
As you know, Federal guidelines require tech writers to give wild and hair-brained predictions about what new things they expect to be announced in the near future. As a strict rule follower, I am here to do my duty of predicting what I think we’ll see this year.
The long and the short of it is, I expect 2012 will be a great year for new tech.
The third iPad
Though I doubt it will be called the iPad 3 (probably the iPad HD), I am confident it will have a Retina Display, a better camera, and Siri.
And, I hope, it will be easier to hold in one hand. The biggest culprit to using the iPad with one hand is its weight and the slippery aluminum back. This is a problem I don’t know how to solve without either shrinking the iPad’s size or going to a more “grippy” plastic back. But even the HP TouchPad, which had a plastic back, was not easy to hold with one hand. And we all know that the iPad won’t be getting any smaller.
Perhaps the iPad will simply not be easy to hold one handed for quite some time.
I think the smart cover is here to stay. It’s a winner, in that it’s elegant, clever, and useful.
Also I think Apple is going to sell more of the 3G models. Just a hunch, but as people start to realize that their iPad can serve as a primary computer then an extra $129 to get 3G becomes a valuable upgrade.
The iPad’s wild card is that we still don’t really know what the common upgrade cycle is. For phones they are every 2 years. For iPods they are every 5 years. For computers they are every 3 – 4 years. But what is the iPad’s upgrade cycle?
My hunch is that for most people, the iPad’s upgrade cycle will span out to be once every 2 years. It borders on being as useful as a computer, but it is much more affordable.
A casual poll of my Twitter followers revealed that the vast majority of those who currently are using the original iPad also plan to upgrade to the iPad 3. Especially if it has a Retina Display.
I think the iPad will have a new case because it will accommodate the new internals that make the retina display possible, and also because I think the iPad is still flawed at being easily hold able with one hand.
The Sixth iPhone
It seems to be commonly referred to as the “iPhone 5″, but the 4S is the fifth iPhone. The next iPhone will be the sixth iPhone. But I don’t expect that the next iPhone will be called “iPhone 6″. No doubt they’ll return to just iPhone one year. Maybe this year?
Will the next iPhone have a new case design? Possibly. But only if it’s an improvement. Change for change’s sake is pointless. I don’t think the next iPhone needs a new hardware design, and honestly I would not be surprised if it stayed relatively similar to the current design.
You’ve basically got two theories or trains of thought going one way or the other regarding the next iPhone’s hardware design:
Theory Number 1: This camp says that the iPhone is on a two-year development cycle that started with the 3G. There was the 3G and then the 3GS. Then there was the 4 followed by the 4S. Next will be the iPhone [whatever] followed by the [whatever]S.
This theory is proven by the past four years and two development cycles of the iPhone. It’s an easily identifiable pattern, and it makes a strong case for why the next iPhone will have a new hardware design.
What else make sense about this development cycle is that it does well to help keep current iPhone users happy. Those who upgrade once every 2 years (from 3G → 4 or from 3GS → 4S) don’t feel like they’re getting left out too much in between their upgrade cycles, and those who are hard core enough to upgrade every year still feel that there is something worthwhile to upgrade to.
Theory Number 2: This camp says that the iPhone 4 is the iPhone that Steve Jobs wanted from the beginning, but it took 4 years of iteration for Apple to get there. I don’t know that I would say the hardware design of the iPhone 4S is perfect, but it is darn close. It’s robust, attractive, feels great, looks great, has a killer display, a great camera, long battery life, and strong cellular reception.
Moreover, Apple is still having trouble keeping up with consumer demand for the iPhone. Keeping the same hardware design will not only allow them to further improve upon their production times, it will also allow them to focus more energy on the internals of the phone. Hopefully bringing us faster mobile data speeds, faster processors, longer battery life, and who knows what else.
But the wild card is that in 2007, when Steve Jobs first introduced iPhone, he said that it was 5 years ahead of any other smartphone. It has now been 5 years. I could see the next iPhone being continued iteration because that’s how Apple rolls. But I could also see the next iPhone being something huge, something for the next 5 years.
I’ve only got 2 guesses as to what we’ll see in iOS 6.
Updated Maps app with voice navigation. When I was using the Galaxy Nexus, this was by far one of the coolest features of Android. Comparatively, iOS maps and navigation are sorely lacking.
Significant improvements to and the expansion of Siri. As I’ve written below, I expect Siri will already be available on the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 before iOS 6 ships. But I don’t think the current functionality of what Siri does will be expanded until the next major release of iOS. Then I think we’ll see more options (such as the ability to launch and control apps with Siri), and allowing 3rd-party apps to utilize Siri via the iOS 6 SDK.
I also think iOS 6 will be one step closer towards the semi-amalgamation of iOS and OS X. With Lion, Apple tipped their hand that this is where their operating systems are going. I have a hard time picturing the two operating systems being literally identical, but in terms of the front-end user experience I think there will be only more and more similarities.
Put another way, Apple wants OS X to be as easy and safe to use as iOS is.
Speaking of Siri
I have no doubt that in 2012 Siri will branch out to many more Apple products this year, including the iPad 2, iPhone 4, and the latest iPod touch.
And I think we all know it’s only a matter of time until Siri comes to the Desktop. When that time will be, I have no clue.
Hopefully we’ll begin to see 3rd parties coming out with external hard drives, microphones, USB/Firewire hubs, and other Thunderbolt peripherals this year. One thing I do know for certain is that I’m not buying any of the aforementioned peripherals until I can buy one with Thunderbolt.
15-inch MacBook Air
Before I bought my 13-inch Air I was in want of a 15-inch Air. I loved the screen real estate on my 15-inch MacBook Pro and didn’t want to give that up. What I did want to ditch was the Super Drive and the extra weight. Of course, as you know, I bought a 13-inch Air last summer and I’m glad I did.
Not yet. I think we’ll see moderate improvements to the current Apple TV’s software (such as the addition of access to our purchased movies), but I don’t think we’ll see the Big Whopper until 2013. There’s not hard proof that Apple is even planning on making a television, but where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. And there is a lot of smoke around this topic.
My reasoning for why an Apple Television (iTV?) won’t be introduced until 2013 is totally random. In short, I’m guessing that 2012 will be a very big year for Macs, iDevices, and iCloud. I see these things laying a stronger foundation for what an Apple television will offer and how it will integrate with all the Apple stuff folks already have, and so this next big thing will ship after this year.