Following a legend is hard — at apple or anywhere else

December 18, 2008 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Business | 1 Comment
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There’s a lot of talk lately about Steve Jobs. Here’s a representative post of many that I have seen lately. However Apple handles this, I think it’s nearly a no-win situation for the next person who is going to take over.

This is a huge problem in sports. Following a legendary coach is tough for several reasons:

1) If you succeed, it wasn’t really you… it was you just riding the coat tails of the guy before you.

2) If you don’t advance the organization, it’s all because of you and the guy before you would have certainly done better than what you produced.

3) Your comparisons to the legend will only get worse because his image will grow in lore over time.

4) In some cases, the legend hangs around in the shadows just enough to never quite let you step out of his shadow.

So what is Apple to do? It will be interesting to watch, but my bet is that they will go through a lull of sorts when Jobs decides to step down. For me, following a legend is a tough situation with very little upside. I’d rather step into a disaster and build it up or start afresh somewhere. But that is a personality thing. Someone will definitely be ready and willing to take over for Jobs. Will be interesting to watch when it happens.

why did I buy a Mac?

September 3, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | 2 Comments
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By almost any measure, the Mac buzz and adoption seems to be rising, thanks in part to people like me who have bought one after years and years of being in the PC world.

The commercials are good, but the commercials have been good for a long, long time.

The iPod and iPhone are good, but that had nothing to do with my decision. (in fact, I LOATHE iTunes)

From a product differential standpoint, I would argue that the Mac has held even greater differentiation in times past than it does now.

I have known all of this for at least 15 years, but I only now bought a Mac. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why because I believe there is a larger business dynamic involved.

I think I bought a Mac primarily because the personal computer (both Mac and PC) is becoming largely irrelevant to my “personal” (read: at home, non-work) computing, which actually freed me to make a more specialized purchase.

See, when I bought my Mac, I was kinda worried about all of my Windows apps. But then I realized that my work laptop is never more than 4 feet away and when I thought about what I did that was dependent upon Windows that wasn’t work related, it didn’t seem like much.

Turns out I was right.  I didn’t miss hardly any of my Windows apps when I made the switch. In fact, I was downright stunned at how much time I spent in my Flock browser more than anywhere else. I haven’t used a fat-client email program for personal use in years. I am using Google calendar more as of late. When I do need to read a Microsoft Office doc (which is getting less and less frequent in personal use) I just open it in OpenOffice and I get by just fine.

Because I no longer *needed* the personal computer for “personal” home use, I was free to make a purchase based on a specialized need–in my case, making DVDs of the kids. I think equally so, users who have wanted to try and find out what all this Mac stuff was about, are now more free to try it without worrying that they will be cut off from the lifeblood of apps that they use regularly. Facebook, MySpace, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Twitter, OpenOffice, Adobe PDF files, YouTube… none of them care what OS you run.

If I’m representative of a larger market demographic, then this is a shift that is going to continue to have large market and technology implications. More to think about on this one…

Mac update — top good and bad things I’ve seen

June 30, 2008 at 7:48 am | Posted in Technology Trends | Leave a comment
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First, I must say I’m glad I got a Mac for at least one reason: It has come up in 3 business conversations in the past few weeks.  Mac seems to be making more inroads into organizations via executives.  Interesting.  So, that allows me to post it here under technology trends.

For those that care, here’s an update on my experience after a few weekends of playing with my new iMac.

my last post on my Mac generated a lot of conversation and I’ve even made a few new cyber friends, whom I promised updates from time to time.  Right now, there’s more good than bad about my Mac experience.  Here are the top 5 things that really impress me:

1) Resource management.  I can multi-task some seriously intensive activity with pretty amazing results.  Even thought my i/o and/or CPU seems pegged, the ability to still navigate with reasonable responsiveness seems far superior to Vista.  (I have a 6-mo old vista machine on roughly the same level of hardware levels)

2) Spaces.  Should be a requirement for any graphical interface.

3) Installs.  Drop a file into a directory.  I was hearkened back to my first experiences with Oracle when I realized how easy it was to install multiple database instances on a Unix box.

4) Uninstalls.  Delete the file.  Ahhhhhh.  Gotta love that unix.

5) Webcam/photo booth.  The quality of the built-in webcam on the iMac is really top notch.  does great in low light, which every other webcam I’ve had does not.  And Photo Booth is an amazing hit with my kids and their friends.  They crack up in tears when I let them take shots of themselves with all those distortion effects.

Top negative things

1) I hit the Mac version of the famed “blue screen of death”.  Mac’s was prettier, and multi-lingual, and gracefully washed my screen dark grey before the error, but a fatal error nonetheless.

2) Mighty Mouse.  Probably pure preference, but killed my index finger (how wimpy is that?)  Switched to my logitech and all is well.

3) Keyboard shortcuts.  I use the mouse very little when typing.  I do all highlighting using keyboard shortcuts, but the ones on the Mac don’t always work on non-Mac native software apps (like in a web browser).  Things like “quick highlight to the end of a line” can be frustrating.

4) Time Machine drive setup. This post says it all.  The company who once ran a great ad busting on MSFT for the whole “c colon backslash” thing is talking about GUIDS and Partitions?  Ouch.  Need to find a way to make it more intuitive given who they are.

5) Quicktime, AIFF, mac formats.  Not their fault, but proprietarily frustrating nonetheless.  Can’t we all just get along? 😉

On balance, I’m much happier now than I was a couple of weeks ago and am glad I made the purchase.   When I get my copy of Final Cut Express and have time to mess with it, I’ll post back on that experience as that is the real reason (video editing) I bought it in the first place.

wanted: wade-through-mountains-of-data-o-matic-thing

June 28, 2008 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | 4 Comments
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In commenting on my post about choice (thanks to EGM for that video, btw), kbarrette said:

There’s a skill to eliminating choices from consideration to reduce that sense of overload.

Ain’t it the truth. I think we’re all pretty good at it within our areas of expertise. For example, when we would go to coaching clinics, we’d be faced with dozens and dozens of presentations by experts on various systems to run and coaching methodologies. But the longer you coach, the easier it is to get there, scan the list, and know what will be applicable to you. Voila. Instant choice narrowing occurs.

But take something I’m not experienced at like my Mac. Which thanks to a free iPod Touch, also led to the chaotic, satanic, underworld of darkness known as backing up your DVDs. No, I’m not talking about stealing. I’m talking about my own videos. The ones my kids lose, and scratch, and leave behind on trips. Those. Mine. The ones I *bought* and *own* and just want to backup to a medium I can play in other places than the DVD player. But that’s a whole other post. Check that. That’s a whole book.

To the point here, the THOUSANDS of hits I get back in Google when searching for anything related to my backup challenges is overwhelming. And I don’t have the expertise to quickly wade through them to the ones I need. And, joy of joys, nothing like seeing a post that you think is perfectly on the mark, only to realize it was published in 1994 with version -0.2 of your software package that is now at version 12.5.

Internet search is awesome, but man is there room for improvement.

apple’s little monopoly?

June 22, 2008 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Technology Trends | 12 Comments
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I know, MSFT is the evil empire. Apple is the loose-hangin’, freedom lovin’, artistic genius company that will save us from the Orwellian future that MSFT will lead us to. So, to be a non-conformist, I bought a Mac last week. An iMac to be specific. Seriously, the real reason is that I was tired of fighting my video editing programs. After a week of being on my iMac… now I’m tired of fighting my NEW video editing programs.

There are things I like about the Mac over the PC. No doubt. But as my friend put it, there is a bit of “the Emperor’s New Clothes” going on in Mac world, let me tell ya. Bad on me for not doing my homework better, but turns out that Apple is using a bit of its proprietary leverage on its customers to wrench them into upgrades. Do a search on “iMovie 08” and “chapters” as an example. Or “Final Cut Express 4” and “soundtrack”. Mac has evidently taken to REMOVING lots of key functionality from “upgrade” releases, but fear not, they are still available in the higher-end packages, which cost significantly more.

So right now I’m left with a really lame movie making package (iMovie) that omits even some of the most basic functionality like creating chapters. I know I can do it in Garage Band, but c’mon… seriously. I mean, CHAPTERS! We’re not talking about making Star Wars here, just some home videos that allow easy navigation. Used to be in the old iMovie, but not in the new version.

I could go site some other examples, but the bottom line is this: Mac users are so loyal to the goodness in their products that they really put up with a lot of stuff that I’m not sure Apple could get away with if there were more competition in terms of software on the Mac. But because most everything is so proprietary, it seems they can get away with it. It seems to me, a newcomer, that they are definitely exercising their “monopoly” over their base. Not saying this is a bad thing, but coming into it with a fresh set of eyes, it looks that way from here.

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