Software, Hardware, More, Oh My…

I have missed a few stories here but we were in the middle of training for our sectional appearance after winning district.  However, our season came to and end last night with a 13-point loss.

But today seems to be a lull in between two Apple high’s.  The week began with rumors of Apple dropping 4.3 on Tuesday.  However, that was not the case.  Then comes Wednesday where all seemed to be quiet until about noon CST.  Apple finally dropped 4.3 for iPhone, iPod and iPad customers.  Then 4.2 for Apple TV dropped and 5.02 for Safari joining in the fun.

Wow, what a day of software.  Today is supposed to bring iMovie and Garageband in the App Store for iPad 2. And Friday March 11th iPad 2 will drop in Apple stores, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and AT&T as well as Verizon to name a few. I suppose I missed my chance to win one at www.tipb.com and I don’t think you will see me in line to pick up a new one.  While I would like to have one, at this time I cannot justify spending another $800 on a 32GB 3G version iPad.  Apple did some cool upgrades but I think I will wait for the iPad 3 lines.  Maybe I will find some more contest and win one there.

So what does all this software bring?

4.3 – for the iOS devices brought some new features I may use and some unexpected problems.

  1. Personal Hotspot: (iPhone 4) Probably one of the most talked about features of 4.3 because it was one that the Verizon iPhone already had and one that customers were unsure if ATT would allow their patrons to use. This is one feature that I will not see the opportunity to use.  Being an iPhone unlimited data customer I would have to give up my unlimited data and defect to a $25/$15 plan.  I understand ATT’s point here but you would think they could come up with something to allow me to have a 2GB bucket or data when the hotspot is one or something and retain my unlimited.
  2. Enhanced AirPlay and Home Sharing: This is a feature I like so far.  Once the new software is installed you navigate into Settings > iPod > and you will see a new section where you enter your home sharing username and password.  There is no save button so back out and go to Video or iPod App and navigate around (under iPhone’s iPod the new sharing feature is in More…).  You will find a sharing feature that allows you to see shared iTunes movies, music, etc.  I see using this feature when I forgot to add a movie or did not want to but my wife and I want to see a movie while in another room in our home.
  3. Message feature: Apple seems to always add in features that they leave to the user to find.  This feature allows the iPhone users to extend the number of reminders to 10.  So if I am away from my phone or in a noisy environment which is often the case for me I can be reminded of that text up to 10 times.  Surely, I can answer it by then. In addition, many users complained of the long text tones Apple added during the last major update calling then useless.  Well Apple has shortened most of them.  They also changed the vibration to two short bursts of vibration goodness rather than a single vibration matching the tone.  But and this is a big one, when is Apple going to allow users to create their own text tones in Garage Band like they do with ringtones?  This annoys me!

4.2 for Apple TV:

Apple TV was not left out yesterday as it got some updates as well. I have included a screen shot from the “what’s new” screen that’s pops up after installing.  For me just the ability to show videos shot with my iOS devices makes me happy.  I would like to see videos and apps displayed but it appears that feature is up to the content provider.

Thursday March 10, 2011 – is rumored to bring iMovie and Garageband for iPad 2

Friday March 11, 2011 –is the best day.  Not for the release if iPad 2 but because I’ll turn 40.  I plan to be at the closest Apple store some 2 hours away.  Not to get my new iPad 2, although that would be nice but to have them look at my original iPad for a mail issue.


Apple Experiences…The Advantages

So there has to be some enormous advantages to make everyone join a cult like following behind a single man who heads a technology company.  Well they are quite simple but very important issues that most businesses do not seem to have.

For me, it is not about Steve Jobs it is about the company he runs.  He is jus the figure that I associate with.  I would compare him to something like Paul Harvey.  If you have ever listened to Paul Harvey and his “the rest of the story”, no one can ever make the news happen the way Harvey does. You listen to Harvey and then one day he is on vacation and it is just not the same.  I think this is the same way with Steve Jobs.  Steve is a great speaker at the Apple announcements.  There have been studies of his positive word placement while he announces new and updates products.

But some would say Apple fanboys would by anything that Apple puts out there.  That the systems are no better than Windows machines and they cost far more than they are worth.  That a man who speaks well is only hypnotizing the people who follow him into these purchases.

To them I say, I was a Windows user and I think that Windows 7 is defiantly a great product.  I also think that Office 2011 for Mac is a great product for the Mac.  I say I still use Windows 7 (on my Mac) and bought my daughter a Toshiba for Christmas.  I learned to use a computer on a Windows Machine.

But where I think that Windows and Mac depart are services offered by the two.  When I used a Windows computer as a daily machine I remember pain.  I first owned a Compaq laptop the held a 4GB hard-drive and 256 RAM and it was maxed out. I then went to Gateway machines as well as eMachine which was owned by Gateway.  There was two commons among all those machines. When I had a problem and called support they told me to restore the machine or that it was always someone else’s fault.  It had to be some software issue, or something I was connecting to my computer like a printer so I should restore my computer back to factory.  Back to something that was essentially unusable in my daily life. I should undo all the programs I spent time installing so I could use this machine.

My last story about a Windows machine goes like this.  My wife and daughter spent several hours in the cold on Black Friday to get a good deal on a Toshiba laptop.  It was one that my daughter wanted for Christmas.  They got this machine and knowing better than to let the machine sit in the box that long and let my 30 day return policy expire I un boxed the laptop and set out to add programs she needed and others like virus protection etc.  While doing so I noticed that my wireless internet connection was not staying connected.  It would drop frequently and I would get the standard error webpage.  So I called Toshiba.  Within 5 minutes I had my answer.  “Well it is connecting, isn’t that good enough?” I hung up, I was done. I contacted Best Buy, where we bought it and they were nice enough to exchange it for me.  We stayed with the same machine and it appears that there was an issue with the wifi radio.  But the service Toshiba offered was horrible.

Now my Apple story.  There are two story’s I would like to share.  Since 2008 when I owned my first Apple machine I have have only made one call to Apple where the service agent was rude.  And yes I call every time I need help.  On that call I hung up, called back and got someone who was willing to help and apologized for the previous person.  I usually carry Applecare on everything I own so I can call and get support.  Some think that the service is not worth the price but I recommend it for almost everything.  Apple has issues with their devices too but where Apple excels is they are willing to help.  Windows machines have gotten so cheap they have taken support out the the mix.  They let others build products they label where an Apple is an Apple.  The support is kind, friendly and willing to help. Sometimes they may not know how but they try and will advance you up the support ladder until someone can help.  Since 2008 I have been asked to restore my Macbook Pro one time.  I have had help from Apple with my HP printer as well as my Windows machines.

I also have been very proud to call myself a fanboy as recent as last week.  I have two instances where Apple reaffirms my purchase was a good one.  In the spring of 2010 my first Mac began having issues.  Every time, Apple sent a box, overnighted my Mac both ways and within days I had it back.  After a few months a number of times having issue with this computer I was on the phone with support troubleshooting an issue and the screen went white. The agent put me on hold and came back offering to fix this one or replace it with a current model Macbook Pro.  I was set back.  I had heard they did this but this was a first for me.  I had this happen with Windows but my machine was replaced with a like model, which I still had issues with. I opted for the brand new 2010 Macbook Pro.

The most recent was my 5 year old son’s iPod touch. We have had every model touch.  And for every model we have carried square trade warranty for the ADP. We know he is 5 and accidents happen so we wanted to be protected.  Until this time he has never had an issue but it only takes one.  On a recent Friday he dropped his iPod into water.  We tried the iPod in the bag of rice trick for 3 days and the iPod came back up but quickly died again.  So we contacted Square Trade and initiated a claim. We had no issues with this claim.  They said they would send me a check. So we called Apple and was prepared to buy a new iPod.  To our shock after asking some questions and telling them what happened they talked to a senior advisor.  They came and told us to take the number they were about to give us and go to UPS, they would box up the iPod, send it back and when Apple received it would send up a new iPod.  That’s exactly what happened, within days we had  new iPod touch.

I know that everyone has different experiences and some may have had issue with Apple.  I have heard of people who called for support and got that rude tech or were not able to be helped.  I don’t know their situation. I just know mine.  For me, when I can afford an Apple product that I need I will buy Apple.  I know they are more expensive than the Windows machines with comparable specs but where I think they part is Apple just works.

Apple Experiences…cont

I opened the plain brown box to be greeted by the usual white Apple packaging feature a picture of what was inside.  I quickly opened the MacBook pro, plugged it in and turned it on. I saw the screen, that beautiful screen inviting me to play take control.  I had to enter some information for set up and then I was on to using my new device for the first time.  Our relationship was both frustrating and welcoming at first.  All the usual commands I had learned to operate my windows machine had to be relearned because Apple keys are not like Windows.  But it did not take me long as I could not put this machine down.  I wanted to know more about how it worked.  I tried this and read that until I finally found myself using it like it was the machine I learned on. But it did not stop there.

I read more about the eco system; I was slowly getting hooked on Mac.  I read more about iPods, iMac’s and subscribed to podcasts, blogs.  I had never owned anything beside the iPhone that played media.  But it was all so expensive.  Apple charges a premium for their devices.  You could honestly end up with a bill for thousands on a new laptop and tens of thousands on their desktop equivalents.  I am by no means rich so I could not afford to buy all my eyes could take in.  But I bought sparingly and got my kids and wife into iPhone’s and my five year old an iPod touch around the age of 2.

I saw the iPhones as a means to communicate through the cloud and Mobile Me did that for me.  My wife and I actually like each other.  We love to be together and do things together like couples should.  We don’t have a lot of friends so we shop for everything from groceries to clothing together.  We watch movies together and listen to music together.  So Mobile Me made sense for us.  We use it a little different probably, we have a standard account and have his, hers and family calendars that each of us control as admins.  She can add an event to mine and I hers and both can add an event to our Family calendar.  While the Mobile Me mail is mine and I set her up with Gmail, which has grown over the years too, we pay for Mobile Me because it works for us.

Over the years we have had several iPhones with each new announcement, iPods, MacBook’s and an iPad.  And it is not just I.  I bought my wife a MacBook from eBay because her Gateway was out of space and had been restored many times after calling support for issues we faced all the time.  She too, fell in love with her white plastic MacBook. So for both of us the move to Mac was one that while we were scared to do, we overcame and now see the advantages, even why we pay more.

Next….The advantages….

My Apple Experiences…

So there are many of you that talk about Apple fanboy’s.  An Apple fanboy definition can be found here at Urban Dictionary. We are talked about as people who are similar in nature to a cult of followers who believe anything that Apple tells us.  We are to believe that we do not have minds of our own and cannot assimilate a rational thought.  We stand in lines without expressions waiting for our worldly leader the Jobs to hand us our next ration.

But let me say that while I write about Apple and all its glory I come from a Windows background. My first computer was an eBay special; my first laptop was a Compaq with a 3GB hard drive.  Then I bought into Gateway an then another then an eMachine desktop.  So I know about Windows and what to expect there.  I remember the excitement of getting each machine and the disappointment when something would happen and they would ask me to restore the machine every time.  I had accumulated software that I used and stored photos only to have to begin over reinstalling everything from contacts to papers to software.  It was always a pain.

I have always been into technology and have slowly converted my family into this following.  For me it was the iPhone in 2007.  I was a hold out as the iPhone came out in June or July 2007 and I did not purchase one until August.  I remember that day clearly.  My wife and I were in town and I had been talking about buying an iPhone and I could not stand it anymore.  I stopped by AT&T and went in. I did not know she thought I was going in to “talk” to them.  Imagine my surprise when I got back into the car with a new $500 phone.  I got the usual talking to that I have become accustomed to in the beginning.

But for us that was the changing point.  Prior to that I had Windows computers and phones like the SLVR, the Pearl and the Curve to name of few of the most recent predecessors.  But the iPhone was a game changer for us.  The more I used it the more I wanted to learn about Apple.  I watched videos, I visited Apple stores and I talked to their sales and others that knew the Apple eco system.  I heard the entire pro’s and cons.  How great a machine they are and how limited they were in the software realm.  If I bought a Mac, I would have a machine that lived in a Window’s world.

It was not until late summer 2008, after using the iPhone and my discoveries that I choose the take the plunge.  I ordered my new MacBook Pro just before I went on vacation to Disney.  I was so excited I wanted it shipped to the hotel but was afraid it would not arrive while we were there so I shipped it home.  But that created anxiety of its own, as I was at the most magical place on earth and I wanted to be at home when the package arrived.  I remember checking the tracking information everyday.

When we arrived home the package had been picked up, at my request, by my mother, was the first thing I attended to.  Unpacking could wait; I had to see this machine.  I had petted them in the Apple stores but this one was mine—to be continued…

Squaretrade vs Applecare

Obviously I am a fan of electronics and as everyone knows hobbies such as this can beexpensive to keep up with.  But when you add in a 5 year old young man it can be quite expensive.

I have four children from 5 to 20 years old.  All of them have their own unique qualities and very different personalities.  My 20 year is a lot like me in never being satisfied with the current things she has.  I always want the next, latest and greatest thing and she does too.  My youngest daughter is similar but has a drive like no other although she does find herself spinning in mud sometimes. My step-son is very intelligent, sometimes too much so, that he thinks others are beneath him. But he is smart enough that learning actually comes easy for him.

My 5-year-old, whom I have stayed at home with since he was 3 months old is like my best friend.  His need for information and friendship is quite unique.  Since I coach basketball at a local high school he goes with me and he likes to hang out with the high school students.  He can retain information like a sponge and is into technology as much as I.  He has had an iPod touch since he was about 2 years old.  While some parents talk about the dangers of technology we embrace it.  For our son we added any book, learning app we could afford.  But all this comes at a cost.

With every iPod we have struggled with purchasing Squaretrade or Applecare.  We love Applecare support because if there is an issue with the device not working we can call Apple outside the 90-day call support warranty. You actually get 1-year support but after 90-days but you need to live near an Apple retail store for the best service or have the willingness to travel to one.  They offer a mail in service during that one year but I have found it to be more than difficult trying to talk to someone about setting up this type of repair.  And of course Applecare only covers defect with the hardware that is not caused by abuse or accidental damage.

That is where Squaretrade comes in.  They offer accidental damage protection add on to their normal hardware warranty.  This usually adds about a third more to the cost.  We have many Squaretrade warranties but have never had to use one until now.  Normally they just sit there unused. Normally we carry Applecare on our Apple products.  But this time we choose to wait and maybe purchase it later.  Apple is gracious to give you one-year to purchase Applecare.

Since the initial iPod touch our son has had the 2nd, 3rd and now 4th generations.  The 2nd, we thought mom left it at a basketball game but 8 months later found it in a couch.  We replaced it with the 3rd.  Last December is disappeared suddenly and we have yet to find it. So we replaced that with the 4th gen.  Now, last night our son dropped it in the potty.  He claims that he forgot to set it down before he got up which he is usually good at, turned and it slipped.  Obviously he did not mean to drop it. And now he is heartbroken.  He is a big HeyTell user, plays some games and watches many videos.

Thankfully we chose to get Squaretrade on this iPod.  This will be my initial dealing with them warranting out a device.  I will report back and let you know how well the transaction went.  I am hoping that everything I have heard about Squaretrade is correct and this transaction goes over well.