Sunday, June 12, 2011

Apple Makes Life Easy

I've been using Apple products for a long time. In fact, 2011 marks the start of my third decade in my relationship with the company, which began with the introduction of a pair of Mac Quadra 950's to my daily work environment in 1991.

I love Apple's products because they are so well made, reliable, and yes, I'll unashamedly admit, stylish. I also love them because they are a great value. While they may seem expensive to initially purchase, the damn things last for years and years with minor upkeep. Just a couple years ago we just retired our home server, a 1999 Blue and White G3 350 MHz tower, not because it was broken, but because the CPU was not supported by the latest MacOS X release. We replaced it with an MDD G4 tower (kindly sent to my by my brother and sister-in-law), which should give us a couple more years of service.

Today, I could get a Mac mini with a server-class OS for cheap when the G4 (a PowerPC CPU) no longer is viable for our needs. I would expect this $800 or so purchase to last us at least 6 years, probably longer. That works out to about 36 cents per day, or less than it takes to run a light bulb every day for the same amount of time. That's a bargain in my book, especially since it makes life so easy, and requires less maintenance than something like a dishwasher, which lasts about the same amount of time. And the Mac would be far more useful. You want to talk about "being green" with your electronics? This is hard to beat.

But the real reason I love Apple stuff is because of Apple's philosophy, which to me is: The computing device itself is not the objective. What one wants to do with a computing device is the critical focus. Or to put it another way: The tool should not be an obstruction to, or distraction from, the goal of the user.

In my opinion, this is a realization that Microsoft has only come to in the last few years, and that the Linux community has only paid small attention. I do see signs of progress, however, but both have a long way to go to match Apple. Google "gets it" with Android, but Android seems to suffer from the same problem that plagues both Microsoft and Linux: A fractured and diverse set of hardware that needs accommodation and user attention. While I love Linux and find Windows 7 to be acceptable, I'm not interested in making sure all the dependencies are up to date and that I have paid attention to Patch Tuesdays. That's kind of like checking to make sure that my refrigerator's coolant is up to pressure every week. No thanks, I have a life to get back to.

And now on to what prompted this long post:

A recent conversation with a neighbor prompted me to decide to re-read all of Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation series this summer, but this time in the order that the Gentle Doctor recommended. So far, I have read (for the umpteenth time, and my favorite) I, Robot, and have just started The Caves of Steel. But this time, I am reading them on my iPhone and iPad rather than in book form.

I downloaded The Caves of Steel on my iPad, but didn't start reading it for a day. When I did start it, I read the first chapter on my iPhone. It took me a minute to realize what had occurred: I was reading a book on my iPhone that I had downloaded on my iPad. That right there was awesome! And I didn't even have to do any extra work such as run a sychronization, re-buy, or re-download anything! My devices made life easy for me.

And when I placed a bookmark on my iPhone, and then later picked up my iPad to continue reading, the iPad opened up The Caves of Steel to my iPhone's bookmark, as if I was still using my phone.

It's amazing to think of all the engineering and
-- not to mention the
processes -- that went into making these seemingly simple things occur.

And that's what I mean when I say that "Apple Makes Life Easy."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Help an Inventor

I thought this was pretty cool: A lens cap holder that connects to your camera's strap. It falls under the category of "Why didn't I think of that?"

I don't have a problem of losing lens caps myself, but I understand others do. My standard operating procedure is to put my lens cap in my pocket as soon as I remove it from the lens, which is a dusty and linty place.

With all the corners and crevices that make up the inner surface of a lens cap, a lens cap is a veritable dirt magnet. Invariably this dirt and lint ends up on the lens. Like I said, I don't lose lens caps, but the front element or protective filter gets coated with pocket debris through transference in short order. I need a better solution.

Yes, I know there are little thing-a-ma-jigs that tether the lens cap to the lens barrel, but having a lens cap swinging around on a string isn't a good solution, either. I take photos with the camera at all different angles, and pushing or pulling the cap out of the shot all the time would drive me bonkers. Having the cap in a secure and out-of-the-way place is a big plus for me.

The inventor, Mark Stevenson, is using to finance his idea. He needs $3900 to get the molds made to start production. Pledge just $15 to his cause and, if he reaches his goal, he will send you one of the production pieces in exchange for your help. You can pledge less, or more (and get several holders in return).

If you like this, help a Mark out with what appears to be a good idea. I have my pledge in! Do you?

Click here to go to the Kickstarter project!

Update, (June 10): Good news! Mark more than doubled his pledge goal, and as of this writing, he has $9904 pledged. Kickstarter says he will be funded on June 21. Hooray!