Apple Releases Unchanged iPod Classic

October 5, 2011

This week, Apple updated its entire iPod and iPhone lineup. The iPod Classic, however, has remained exactly the same for the better part of a decade.

We asked a salesperson from Apple to comment on the complete and utter lack of innovation, but she was unable to find a part number for the item in her inventory. In fact, she seemed so removed from the device that she tried to operate it by prodding at the screen, instead of using the grossly intuitive “click” wheel that made the iPod famous in the first place.

Upon further investigation, we discovered that the the iPod Classic factory is suffering from a situation that resembles that of the Japanese World War II holdouts, who continued fighting in remote areas for up to 30 years after the war had ended. Due to a miscommunication, staff at the plant never got the memo that their product was to be discontinued by the end of the calendar year in 2006. Without further direction, have continued manufacturing and shipping it without question.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Staff members at the plant were astonished, and some had some difficulty accepting the news. When asked why he thought it would be reasonable for Apple, one of the world’s leading innovators, to manufacture an electronic device virtually unchanged for almost ten years he said, “We figured that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

It turns out that the only upgrade that happened in the past five years — a change in hard drive size from 80 to 160 GB — occurred only to keep up with demands after the previous part was discontinued by Toshiba. Demand for the product, however, was artificially elevated to 2006 levels and employees were shocked to learn that only 17 iPod Classics were sold by accident in 2011.

Apple has discovered a warehouse full of new, un-shipped iPods and is considering donating them to museums all around the world.


eBooks vs. Tree Books

July 26, 2010

Over the past several years the market has been flooded with newfangled reading devices called “eReaders,” and virtually every website, magazine, and newspaper from Engaget to The New York times has compared these devices. But for some strange reason nobody has thought about comparing eReaders to the ultimate standard: tree books. You know, those old fashioned collections of words and pages that  are made of dead plant matter. The ones that have filled libraries, bookshelves, coffee tables, and even washrooms since the beginning of time?

Ereading does sound like a great idea. I mean, who doesn’t want to have an “iPod for books” to carry around? Well, it might sound like another gadget is all you need to make reading fun and modern, but the market has missed the boat in a way that only a comparison can truly expose.

As such, let’s look at the innovation of recorded music. It all started around 1860 with crude recordings of live musical performances. At first the idea that one could listen to a performance without musicians was awe inspiring in itself, but over the past 150 years people have pushed the limits on recorded music, and the advancements have been astronomical. We have seen phonographs, records, 8 tracks, cassettes, CDs, SACDs Mini Discs, and now “virtual” media such as MP3s. The downside to such advancement, however, is that you experience the frustration of having to repurchase your entire music library every time such an advancement occurs to stay current. But the frustration and cost is worthwhile for many consumers, because each advancement is accompanied by a marked increase in performance, convenience, and quality. Music, you could say, is a technology where advancement is welcome, so long as the benefits outweigh the cost.

Reading is different. Books have existed in their current state for hundreds and hundreds of years, and the only real change was the transition from handwritten material to the invention of the printing press some 500 years ago. The printing press ushered in the modern era by increasing literacy rates and allowing the mass consumption of knowledge and ideas. Since then, the last real change to print material was the typewriter and personal computer, which increased the efficiency in which books could be composed and produced. So what does this mean? Well, after hundreds of years one can still open a book, understand the format, read the material, and take something away from the experience. Try doing that your proprietary Amazon eBook in just 10 years time.

One might think that after such perpetual sameness ebooks might seem like a welcome change, but there is a reason that they remained unchanged for so long. They worked, well! Regardless, the important distinction between music and print material is that “advancements” like the ereader are not a an improvement over real books. In fact, besides the ability to carry hundreds of  books in a small package, the technology truly limits the reading experience by providing numerous distractions; causing eye strain, reducing the efficiency of study or research (you can only view one book at a time), preventing the reader from sharing the material, and all but eliminating tactile interaction with the “book.”

Unfortunately, due to the success of the iTunes store, Books are being treated like music in every regard, but this could not be further from the truth. The brilliance of iTunes was that it allowed the user to import their current music collection from CD, and then slowly start experimenting with purchasing digital media. Once the more customers got used to “owning” non-physical media, they bought more, and it’s gotten to the point where physical media is on the way out.

The Amazon Kindle Store and Apple iBooks, however, make you start from scratch and, as mentioned, any advancements that might exist provide no incentive for consumers to replace existing books, much less their entire libraries. Unlike music, the costs do NOT outweigh the benefits.

If this is the case, then why buy ebooks? And are eBooks really an alternative to real books? Take a look at this (albeit somewhat satirical) analysis and decide for yourself:

The bottom line? Ebooks are no match for the real thing… yet. Books, unlike music, have been unchanged for hundreds of years, and ebooks are not cost effective, nor do they provide any real advancement over a physical book.

However, in a cost comparison, the Amazon Kindle does appear to be competitive when compared to purchasing hardcover material for casual reading. So, if you must, get an ereader for casual reading and traveling, but don’t expect to burn your books and get rid of that space-sucking bookshelf any time soon. If you’re truly serious about reading, and not just pretending to read while you surf Facebook ad infinitum, you’ll stick to real books, and avoid the iPad like the plague.


Christian University Prefers Jobs to Jesus

January 15, 2010


Abilene Christian University has officially hailed Steve Jobs as “the second coming of our Lord” after integrating the miraculous iPhone into campus life. The classy device, which is known worldwide for performing incredible miracles in the palm of one’s hand and being, in many cases, more omniscient and benevolent than the Lord himself, is spreading like wildfire with nearly 50 percent of students and 97 percent of staff using the device. University administration has (literally) hailed the invention to be “at least three times more miraculous than walking on water,” and implied that Steve Jobs would have been “stiff competition” for Jesus Christ had they been alive at the same time.

Some have argued that teaching creationism on a device that is the result of thousands of years worth of humanity’s progressive technological achievements might be difficult, but most students have asserted that the iPhone appeared to be “irreducibly complex” and must have been introduced to Jobs in a vision from the lord himself.

See here for more: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/12/iphone-university-abilene/

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Breaking news: I-D-Ten-T Errors common in the Mac community

January 4, 2010

A day in the life of an Apple Salesperson. Enjoy while I suffer, haha:

Sean: “Good morning, **** Computers, how can I help you?”

Customer: “Hi there, I’m doing some things in iWorks (sic) and when I enter stuff on the thing the paper comes out sideways all the time.”

Sean: “I’m a little unsure as to what you mean, could you explain further? Which program are you using specifically? Is this issue happening when you try to print or all the time?”

Customer: “I’m using iWorks doing iWorks stuff! Entering things… you know what I mean! Everything is sideways!”

Sean: “I think you are experiencing an I-D-Ten-T error. Please restart the machine, get a grade six education, and try again.”

Ok, so to be honest, I didn’t say that last bit, that would have been rude… but I wanted to! At work issues such as this are known as “I-D-Ten-T” errors, which cleverly spells “ID10T” on paper but sounds legitimate verbally. This lady clearly needed to download the latest OS updates for her brain and leave the Mac alone; I guarantee it’s fine!

Here’s another one. This lady did make me laugh, I’ll give her that:

Sean: “Good morning, *** Computers.”

Customer: “Hi there. I’m about to axe murder my computer and then axe murder my brother who convinced me to buy it and THEN the person who sold it to me. I’m hoping you can help prevent these murders.”

Sean: “Fair enough, how can I be of assistance?”

Customer: “The fucking thing won’t work!”

It turns out that all she needed was a printer driver. It seems like people are getting a little reasonable if you ask me… but that’s just my opinion!

-Sean.


Apple vs. PC war takes bizarre turn for the worst.

October 22, 2009


The rivalry between Apple and Windows is almost as old as time itself, but with Apple finally coming out on top as the superior system Microsoft is taking to some bizarre advertising techniques to keep consumers interested. In an effort to generate some hype around the release of their new Windows 7 operating system, Microsoft has sponsored Burger King Japan to release a seven (yes, 7) patty Whopper burger to celebrate. What’s next?! How about throwing a Windows 7 party to celebrate the features of the new operating system? What a great idea, so here’s a six minute “how to throw a Windows 7 party” video released by Microsoft: (Seriously, this is for real…?!)

YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cX4t5-YpHQ

I think I’ll skip the burger and party stick with an operating system that works, thanks! It is worth noting, however, that if Apple were to join in on this promotion they’d win again. Surely the sixth major release of Mac OS X deserves at least ten patties. Maybe even sixteen!

-Sean.

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Magic Mouse (UPDATE: and Image Fail #4)

October 20, 2009


Today Apple released a host of new products including a redesigned iMac, Mac Mini, and Macbook. However, the most notable product, for me anyways, is the Magic Mouse. It is the world’s first mouse that incorporates the multi-touch technology originally introduced and made famous by the iPhone, and was gradually incorporated into the notebook line as well.

(See the introduction video here: Introduction to the Magic Mouse – Apple.ca)

However, despite the innovative design, there are several major fails. Most notably, the way one interacts with the trackpad, iPhone, and now Magic Mouse are are all slightly different, which is creating a confusing environment for customers, especially those new to multi-touch technology. Here is a more thorough list of issues which I have noticed before even trying the product, or seeing it for the first time:

1) Momentum is present on the iPhone and now the mouse, but absent on the trackpad (!?). Will this be fixed in a driver update, Apple? I should hope so!

2) Pinch, an action that makes items/text/windows larger and smaller is completely absent from the mouse. This feature is irreplaceable when using Google maps, and in spite of Apple’s demonstration video, which tries to show the functionality of “screen zoom” being similar, it is just not the same!

3) Now for my biggest beef. Scrolling on the iPhone scrolling is incredibly tactile; the direction that you are “flicking” the screen is literally the direction that it is moving, and the document continues in this direction with realistic momentum. But this is not so on the trackpad and mouse. Furthermore, there is STILL no option for trackpad (and now mouse) inversion, so the direction that one flicks the trackpad and mouse is completely opposite that of the phone! To make things more confusing, the scrolling action is done with two fingers on the trackpad and iPhone, but performed with just one finger on the mouse.

Personally I would have preferred a wireless trackpad with inversion and momentum for my desk than a new mouse. Ironically, the most innovative new mouse may not be a mouse at all, it may be a simple glass surface that allows a seemless transition between the portable laptop and home computing experience.

UPDATE: It seems that the Magic Mouse has failed in another way… according to Apple.ca it is available for the low price of “XXX.” Hmm… I thought prostitution was illegal!

-Sean.

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Must-Have Free Mac Software #2

October 20, 2009


QuickSilver

Quicksilver is BY FAR my favorite free application that is available for the Mac, and it also happens to be the most useful. You can launch applications and utilities, websites, and find any file or folder simply and easily with a user-defined key combination (I use “Command + Option + A”). Although spotlight is integrated into the OS and has many of the same features, Quicksilver goes above and beyond its functionality and aesthetic, going so far as to have the option of using “Superflous Visual Effects.”

For more information and to download QuickSilver, see here: quicksilver.en.softonic.com

-Sean.

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