Watching Apple

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | Opinion | No Comments

Apple finally announced their Watch this month, and it was some pretty exciting news. I have been using the Pebble for two years, and it really has changed my life. Now, the Pebble is very simple- just showing notifications, with some options to interact with apps. But that is powerful in and of itself. It may sound lazy, but its really efficient to not have to pull out my phone every time I get a notification. I can see a text, email, score update, Facebook update, or any other notification without twisting or turning to pull out my phone. While driving, its so much safer because instead of doing that twisting I can at a glance see the notification and decide if I should respond (at say a red light). The new Pebble Time looks even better, with a color screen and retaining the same week long battery.

But of course Apple’s Watch is so much more insanely great. Being able to talk and hear on the watch, as well as interact in so many amazing ways- well its typical Apple. I’m going to get the steel (no not the gold one!), but I haven’t decided on a band. I’m already looking forward to developing apps for it. I really think its going to be another game changer.

Today We Fight Back

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 | Company News, Opinion | Comments Off

Two years ago Volitans Software joined the internet wide protest against SOPA and PIPA. Today, we are joining another internet wide protest  against the NSA. The NSA threatens the security and openness of the internet, as well as the liberties of all Americans. They must be reigned in. Call or write your legislators today.

To find out more, go to the Today We Fight Back site.

Thoughts on WWDC 2013

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 | Opinion | Comments Off

WWDC 2013 was yesterday, and it was action packed. Apple has been unusually quiet the past couple months- usually they have an event for either OSX or iOS. But they have had nothing at all. It seemed to me that they were saving it all for yesterday. They announced iOS 7, Mac OS X Mavericks, the new Mac Pro, the new MacBook Air, and iWork for iCloud. (Here’s a good summary.) That is a heck of a lot for one event. A quick hit though on each one:

iOS 7

This is a complete UI overall by Jonathan Ive. I’m not sure if I like it yet- the icons look a little to playful for me. But I like the overall concept. The Control Center looks awesome. Multitasking looks vastly improved.  I’d really like to get my hands on it- but I’ll probably wait for Beta 2 to install in on my iPhone.

Mac OS X Mavericks

Yes, I keep the Mac in there. Not a huge fan of the new name- most people will drop the trailing ‘s’ because its so hard to pronounce. I don’t mind the convention, but they shouldn’t limit it to California. They didn’t release too much information about it but the power user features are nice. I love tabs, so having them in the Finder to reduce windows is great. I’m hoping to be able to test out SMART Utility on 10.9 shortly.

The New Mac Pro

Tim Cook said we’d be surprised at the Mac Pro, and he wasn’t wrong. Its a totally different beast than the previous one. Its now a black cylinder instead of a silver box- a form factor that actually went back to the PowerMac G3. It look really cool, and very powerful. The thermal core is a very interesting way of cooling it. I’m not all that happy about how the drives are set up- no drive bays.


Craig Federighi was brilliant presenting iOS and OS X. He had a great on stage presence, and he was very funny at times. Phil Schiller had the line of the presentation “Can’t innovate my ass”.

Overall a great event- and reminds me of the Apple of old, but still different. They certainly aren’t going away any time soon.

Mountain Lion is Out!

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 | Opinion, Reviews, Story | Comments Off

I’ll have a detailed post in the next few weeks, but I’ve been running the developer previews and its pretty nice.

Also, SMART Utility version 3.1 will be out next Tuesday will full Mountain Lion support. Right now it sort of works- but it doesn’t display the PASSED/FAILING/FAILED text properly and it doesn’t support GateKeeper yet.

So check back next Tuesday!

Update on the Benjamin-Talk Show-Gruber Controversy.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 | Opinion | Comments Off

So there has been more information revealed this week about the whole controversy which I posted about earlier. If you want a different summary, take a look here.

First, Gruber’s second episode of the Gak Talk Show he finally opened up about what happened. CandlerBlog has a post with a transcript that says

Dan, the co-host, is obviously very popular and extremely talented. He’s extremely good at what he does and I’m super proud of the work we did together. And I think we had lots of good shows and some great shows. Dan, the owner of a podcast network, I have longstanding disagreements with. Came to an end. Why did I take The Talk Show with me? Because I love it.

Candler is a little more deferential to Gruber, acting like now that Gruber talked about it everything is hunky dory. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

So what’s the disagreement about? Well, Gruber just posted a star story about the New Talk Show. In it he writes that he is selling sponsorships directly. As Space36 writes,

So it sounds as though the suggestions made at the time were pretty much accurate: a fundamental disagreement over the cut of sponsorship money, etc. with Gruber able to earn significantly more from the podcast by taking it to Mule.

CandlerBlog agrees. Which is interesting, but I think not that damaging to Gruber. While sad that Gruber was leaving behind a great show for more money, its not that rare, and in any case its not why this whole thing blew up. It was because Gruber and Benjamin said nothing when it happened, and then after fans starting reacting, Gruber and his cronies started attacking, insulting, and mocking the fans. That’s what drove people crazy.

Benjamin then pretty quickly put up a podcast response, and you can tell he he was blindsided and hurt by what was done. People latched onto that and the attacks and just went on the offense against Gruber. This lead to very bad iTunes reviews, and I’m guess poor sponsorship requests. The first two shows were sponsored without hearing the episodes, and most likely without the PR disaster surrounding the show. I know that Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software and Rogue Amoeba got hammered for their support (rightly or wrongly).

Since Gruber has shown he cares more about money than fans, this is a huge problem. So he was forced to respond for damage control. But just like any other scandal (think politician cheating, who denies it at first), responding this late makes it seem he only cares about fixing his image instead of sincerely caring about the fans. That’s what really damaged Gruber’s reputation.

If this post immediately followed up after announcing the new Talk Show, we all would have speculated, and if Gruber and his cronies did not respond harshly to the critics, this would have blown over in a day (which is really short in internet time). Instead, its almost two weeks late and its still being talked about.

This serves as a great lesson for managing splits and managing PR. Though it should be common sense, apparently its not. I think the three things to learn are:

  1. Don’t attack your own fans who support you, even via advertising
  2. Control the message yourself by releasing an honest statement, don’t let others speculate
  3. Control the message early, not waiting until its a big drama

However, I’m sure Gruber won’t be the first to ignore that advice.

Keeping Out of the Sandbox

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 | Company News, Opinion, SMART Utility | Comments Off

With the impending sandbox deadline coming up (FOR REAL THIS TIME, YO!), I thought I re-visit my decision to keep SMART Utility out of the App Store, when it was announced. This was both a political and technical decision. The technical part was simple- it would take a fair amount of work to rewrite SMART Utility to meet the App Store rules. There would be features left out, or features that would be restricted (the menu item for example). And even with all of that, it still may not have been approved. I found all of that completely unacceptable. The sandbox restrictions are just the icing on the cake.

The political part was a little more complex. I do not like the idea of somebody else approving apps and deciding what my customers are allowed to see. I feel that curated apps can be a good idea- but I entirely disagree with Apple’s rules for curation. I believe that they should put every app submitted up, except for ones designed to cause damage (i.e. trojans). They should not restrict based on APIs or ideas. I would love to use the App Store’s features (Software Updates for example), but not at the expense of features. That is bad for my product and my customers. I will not stand for that. I also do not like the lack of trials, as well as paid upgrades for apps.

The sandboxing issue has also lead to some developers pulling apps. Manton Reese has decided to pull Clipstart. He has a followup about the lock in with the App Store, which helps reaffirm my decision to stay out of the App Store. Atlassian (who helped prompt Manton to pull his app) has also decided to pull SourceTree. He documents many, many issues with sandboxing. And check out the comments for more complaints (hey comments can be good, surprise!!).

And not only are good apps not available in the App Store (which is big problem for Apple), but as Brent Simmons says, it has a chilling effect by stopping developers from even thinking or developing apps for the App Store. As Michael Tsai, you don’t know what the costs will be ahead of time. You could develop a great app, only to have Apple change the rules.

This is bad for customers and bad for developers. Apple needs  new way.


Another Silly App Store Removal

Friday, May 25th, 2012 | Opinion | Comments Off

From Rogue Amoeba: Apple Has Removed Airfoil Speakers Touch From The iOS App Store

Seriously? Apple needs to get out of the curated app business. All it does is give them bad press. If we had a GateKeeper type solution on iOS devices, this wouldn’t be a problem.

Apple Continues to Find Ways to Ruin the User Experience on iOS

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 | Opinion | Comments Off

This is just stupid. The link they are banning doesn’t even TRY to bypass the rules, but because it POTENTIALLY could, the apps are being banned.

Apple is going about this the wrong way. Now, to buy a Kindle book, I’m forced to use Safari, instead of the much better user experience of just doing it in App. What they should do, if they are so concerned about bypassing the In App Purchase system, is only allow paid apps to bypass the In App Purchase system. That way they make money and make the experience better, instead of the opposite now.

Apple Allowed to Intervene in Lodsys Case

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 | Opinion | 2 Comments

This may be a bit of old news at this point, but its still great news. Apple can now offer a defense to those developers being attacked by Lodsys. Hopefully they can defeat them, and then Lodsys will be out of business.

A sad note to come out of this is that some developers caved and started paying Lodsys. I understand the logic (saving money), but its only a short term gain. If they fought and lost, they would pay regardless. But by paying, they only funding Lodsys to go after developers like me, and that hurts the whole industry. And they also set a precedence for other patent trolls to come after small developers. Sure, its only 1% now, but when there are 50 companies asking 1% because nobody fault, then that’s a huge problem.

The Mountain Lion Appears

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 | Opinion | Comments Off

Apple announced Mountain Lion today, the next version of Mac OS X (I’m going to refuse to drop the Mac for now). I’ll get to the actual OS in a bit, but there was a very interesting quote in Gruber’s post on ML when he asks about this pre-seeding to journalists way of releasing OS X:

That’s when Schiller tells me they’re doing some things differently now.

I like that. I like to see they aren’t just thinking WWSJD. Apple without Steve needs to set out on its on path, and this new way shows they are doing that. Remember, Steve didn’t want iTunes on Windows, which is what really let the iPod take off. He wasn’t perfect.

Okay, back to the OS. ML looks real intriguing. The notification center seems like one of those things that isn’t that exciting until you start using it. Its not like in iOS where the need for it was dire. In OS X, it really isn’t needed, but I but its going to be awesome. Same with Airplay- I bet this is going to get a lot of use in schools. The Messages app is pretty nice, and it will be great to finally have one place for all messages.

Of course the iCloud integration is the biggest change. Luckily the old way of interaction with files is still there, but being able to sync to iCloud and access it anywhere is going to be awesome. I wonder what the means for DropBox (who will still be on PCs). But I am excited to see how far document management has come since the iPad first came out. Remember that? Syncing with iTunes to get Pages documents over? This is going to be so much better.

Finally, GateKeeper is scary and cool at the same time. Now, there are three permission levels regarding launching apps on the Mac: only from the App Store, anywhere, and App Store plus signed apps. I think a lot of people are worried that the Mac will be locked down like the iOS, but I have a feeling that its going to go the other way. I’d love to see this migrate to iOS. I like Apple has this right.

I’m excited about Mountain Lion, and of course I’m excited to get SMART Utility up and running on it. Check out the next post for more info on that.