Friday, December 31, 2010

Doing the Right Thing

On Dec. 19, 2010, I ordered three items from the Canadian online Apple Store for my brother-in-law's Christmas present. The package was delivered on Dec. 22 to his home in Metro Vancouver. Unfortunately, one of the three items I ordered, an Apple Remote, was not in the package. Today I called Apple to follow up. The automated interactive voice response system took my order details, which I spoke in complete sentences as requested, then transferred me to a customer service agent, Stacy, who apologized for the oversight and arranged to have a free replacement shipped at no charge to my brother-in-law's address. The entire interaction was pleasant and took just a few minutes, consistent with the positive user experience Apple strives for in all of its products and services. Attention to detail is what sets Apple apart from many other organizations. It's yet another reason I'm a long-time Apple customer.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Almost Like New Again

The old is new again

Last week I made an appointment at a nearby Apple Store to resolve issues with duplicate contact and calendar data on my iPhone. The staffer who helped me noticed my late-2007 Macbook was missing a sliver of plastic from the front edge of the top plate that supports the keyboard and trackpad. According to him, certain MacBooks had quality issues with the plastic used for this part of the case, so he offered to replace the part overnight at no charge even though the computer was well past warranty and I'd bought it from the refurbished section of the Apple Online Store.I got my computer back today. The keyboard and trackpad—indeed the entire top plate—were brand new, as promised. The outer case had been cleaned and polished, so scratches and scuff marks from almost three years of daily use were gone. The display surface was also the cleanest I've seen since I first got the computer. The entire unit was returned to me in better physical condition than when I handed it in for repair.
I've been an Apple customer for 15+ years. Apple's not perfect, but it sure gets a lot of things right.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ignorant spammers - pathetic

Say what?
Today I received this email (note the grammatical lapses):

As a result of unusual congestion in our email servers system, there would be removal of all unused Gmail Accounts. You will have to confirm your login details below for proper verification and for us to confirm your account activeness. Please feed us back with your login information below after clicking the reply button.

Account Name:

Present Country:

Note: Failure to give Google Account Team your login information above will leads to suspension and elimination of your Account permanently. Your response with the required details is mandatory for your Account security.

Google Account Management.


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Two Weeks With an iPad

I ordered my 64GB 3G iPad on May 10, and although it was scheduled for delivery on May 28, a flight delay meant I got it on May 31. No biggie. It was good to have a (relatively) distraction-free weekend. So now I've had it for almost two weeks. First impressions: iPad is heavier than I thought it would be; its screen smudges more easily than it probably should; the onscreen virtual keyboard is not really suitable for extended typing.
It sounds like I'm dissing it altogether. Perish the thought. Although I'm still getting used to it, I'm enjoying the different interaction mode it encourages: anytime-anywhere access to information in the cloud or on the device–my 64GB is nearly full, with over 130 high-def TEDtalks. The inertial scrolling, with its subtle and refined acceleration and deceleration, is sheer joy to use. Yes, it seems like a cliché, but Apple hit one out of the park with the user experience on the iPad. Going back to a conventional mouse-windows-icons-keyboard interface on my Mac feels so...20th century.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What Motivates Us?

Most businesses get it wrong, according to Dan Pink. Watch, listen, and learn.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


The first TEDx conference I attended was an eye-opener. Two months later, my second TEDx event confirms that these gatherings are well worth attending. The notion of "ideas worth spreading" is too tame. Some of the ideas presented are life-altering — in a good way. So why does it seem that so many people still don't know about TED and its philosophy? How else can I explain the knowledge silos that persist in so many places, such as — and it pains me to say this — the organization I work for? I've worked at other large companies, and they all suffer internal gaps in communication. The key point I took away from today is the foundational role that storytelling plays in culture, for any organization or society that wants to develop some form of robust self-understanding. Data + analysis + presentation = actionable insight. I intend to apply this to my work. I've feasted at a brain banquet. Now, to digest.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A Future Where Usability is the Prime Virtue

(iPad image © Apple)
After months of speculation, rumour-mongering, and hype, the iPad was announced last week. A lot has been written elsewhere about it, much of it utterly wrongheaded, so I won't rehash any of that. However, some folks do seem to grok what the iPad is about — click on the links at the end of this post if you're curious to read what they say. In the meantime, imagine a near-future where computers are different — much more accessible and useful to non-geeks. First, a brief tour of where we came from, and how little progress we've made as computer
users, really — until now.

Jan 2003, self-explanatory:
From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM
To: Jim Allchin
Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how
Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don't drive usability issues
Jan 2004 - Allchin (who led the Vista team) wrote:
From: Jim Allchin
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2004 8:38 AM
To: Bill Gates; Steve Ballmer
Subject: losing our way...

I am not sure how the company lost sight of what matters to our customers (both business and home) the most, but in my view we lost our way. I think our teams lost sight of what bug-free means, what resilience means, what full scenarios mean, what security means, what performance means, how important current applications are, and really understanding what the most important problems [our] customers face are. I see lots of random features and some great vision, but that doesn't translate onto great products.

I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at point is about the philosophy that Apple uses. They think scenario. They think simple.


Feb 2, 2010 - developer David Alison looks back on his switch in 2008:
In relatively short order I went from having a MacBook to purchasing a Mac Pro, which replaced my primary Windows desktop. Whereas the MacBook was quick, the Mac Pro was-and still is-remarkably fast. With dual 2.8Ghz quad core Xeons and 12GB of RAM, I was suddenly able to run a huge number of applications seamlessly.

The bottom line is I'm really happy I decided to "try out" that MacBook two years ago.
Computing-as a software developer the place I spent a huge number of my waking hours-became fun and exciting again.
Former MS Business Development Director Don Dodge tries out Apple stuff:
The most obvious distinction between Microsoft and Apple is design. Apple is quite simply the best hardware / software design company in the world...You see the design ethic in everything Apple does. The Mac, iPod, iTouch, iPhone and iPad are just beautiful, elegant, and imaginative designs that provide a delightful user experience.
Feb 4, 2010 - Former MS VP **** Brass recounts Microsoft's self-inflicted woes:
When we were building the tablet PC in 2001, the vice president in charge of Office at the time decided he didn't like the concept. The tablet required a stylus, and he much preferred keyboards to pens and thought our efforts doomed. To guarantee they were, he refused to modify the popular Office applications to work properly with the tablet. So if you wanted to enter a number into a spreadsheet or correct a word in an e-mail message, you had to write it in a special pop-up box, which then transferred the information to Office. Annoying, clumsy and slow.
Which, when you think about it, describes most Microsoft products.

Contrast this with
what's coming soon for the iPad:
People should have confidence that their work is always preserved unless they explicitly cancel or delete it. If your application helps people create and edit documents, make sure they do not have to take an explicit save action.

Additional reading
Joe Hewitt: iPad
Fraser Speirs: Future Shock
Lucien Dupont: My Dad and the iPad
Mike Monteiro: The Failure of Empathy