Update

Well, seeing as how I will be stuck in the airport for an undetermined amount of time due to mechanical problems on the plane (oil leaking from the nose – What I am surprised about is that they let us board without noticing it). Oh well, it isn’t a TDY if you don’t have a delay at some point in the trip 🙂

Just wanted to take the time to let you all know that within the next couple of days, i will be launching a new blog with Marcos, a fellow Apple fanboy 🙂

It will be focused on tech-based news, obviously with emphasis placed on Apple. I’ll let you know when the site goes live, keep an eye out!

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Apple Customer Service Part II

Well, this is a follow-up to my original post of how great Apple customer service is.

I own a Time Capsule, which is known to stop powering on after approximately 18months, and true to form, my time capsule died. I tried plugging it in various outlets, and none of them worked. Apple recently issued a recall for it, but sadly, my time capsule did not qualify. I figure I would make an appointment and see if they would make an exception.

Went to the Apple store, and after some diagnostics, they couldn’t get it to turn on either. However, since it wasn’t part of the recall, they couldn’t replace it at the store. Undeterred, I decided to call Apple technical support and see if they could do anything about it; Ten minutes later, they told me that they could process it through my AppleCare on my iMac. Within 2 days, a brand new Time Capsule was at my doorstep.

I’m always amazed at how forgiving and accommodating Apple is. After dealing with Dell and Verizon FiOS customer support (I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, that is how bad it is), it is refreshing to communicate with knowledgable people who will help you out. 🙂

Apple, Technology, Coding, and Me

Though I haven’t shared it with a lot of people, one of my long-term “goals” for a while has been to write an iPhone/iPad app. Finding time to work on it is the hardest part, between work, school, and life in general. However, it is not like things are ever going to get less hectic, so I just need to slowly make time to learn Objective C, Cocoa, and everything else I need to make a successful app.

I won’t be doing this myself (met someone else who is as big an Apple fan as me, haha), so we’ll be tackling it together. It’ll take a long while, and we still don’t have a complete picture of what the app will be, but that is still quite a bit away.

Relatedly, we will also be starting up a blog more devoted to tech based topics and issues. The whole iPhone 4 antenna topic has motivated me to research and write my opinion on technical topics, so this will be a way to hone our skills. Currently working on the layout and feel of things (at least for an initial release), I’ll let you know here when it is ready to go.

It is exciting (maybe the app we make is the next big hit), and being able to program is certainly not a bad skill to have in this day and age.

This Webcomic…

Accurately captures how I feel whenever I try to read comments from all the clueless people who post on any article having to do with Apple:

XKCD: Duty Calls

Webcomic from XKCD: http://xkcd.com/386/

Apple to Hold iPhone 4 Press Conference

Well, now that is very interesting. Looks like Apple will be holding a press conference Friday at 1PM EST.  I’m stumped as to what Apple will announce (I still believe a recall is very unlikely).  Wonder what damage control they will employ to try and contain this situation and move on.

What I do know for sure is that tomorrow’s news cycle will be all about Apple and everyone’s predictions.  Until then, we wait and see.

iPhone 4 and the Antenna Issue

Ok, this antenna issue has gotten so far out of hand I feel the need to provide my viewpoint on the issue.  Let’s get the background information out of the way:

  1. I have had the iPhone 4 since launch.
  2. In their public release, Apple admitted that holding the phone in a certain area will cause loss of signal (true for most phones), and that the software governing how bars are displayed is not linear.
  3. Consumer Reports can not recommend the iPhone 4 (more on this later).

Let me start with my personal and anecdotal observations on the topic.  I have tried to replicate the death grip, and while I do drop in bars, my call and data quality have not dropped.  I literally held the death grip spot (and with a significant amount more force) than what a person normally holding it would use while talking on the phone for 30minutes.  While I was at 1 bar the entire time, my call quality was great, and did not drop the call once.  My findings are consistent with Anandtech’s testing.  Holding it in the death grip spot reduces it by 15-20dB.  I know quite a few iPhone 4 users, and none of them have experienced any problems.

I believe Consumer Reports took the opportunity to sensationalize the issue in order to get more web hits (Adding Apple to any blog increases your visitor count by at least 2-3 fold).  If you read the full report (which conveniently you have to pay for it), you will find a couple of interesting facts:

  1. Phoning and Message Quality – Very Good
  2. Voice Quality – Good
  3. Highest score out of any smartphone they have reviewed to date.

That is in conflict with their “Do not recommend” suggestion.  However, please do not misconstrue what I have written to mean that no antenna problem exists.  Because of the company Apple is, any slight fault is magnified to the nth degree.  Some points to consider:

  • Lost of reception does not mean that the iPhone is a “glorified iPod touch”.  In the real world, this affects a very small, yet very vocal minority.
  • The use of a case mitigates this entirely.  I know people don’t like to hear that excuse, but a majority of people use cases.
  • It will truly only affect people who are in areas with lower reception.
  • In a lot of videos, people are cupping it very tightly, which just isn’t representative of how we hold the phone in everyday use.
  • In the testing conducted by Anandtech, the iPhone overall has better reception, as it is able to better hold signals at lower signals.

Will some people be affected by this issue?  Yes.  Will a significant majority of people have improved call quality and reception?  Also yes.  Personally, I have noticed fewer dropped calls since switching to the iPhone 4.

Does that make me a loyal fanboy (even though I love Apple products)?  No (though the news would have you believe otherwise).  Like everything in life, there is tradeoff.  The superior OS, applications, video/camera, retina screen, and overall improved reception are more meaningful and mitigate the antenna issue.

Now, if you want to talk about how Apple handled the situation, I totally agree they dropped the ball there.  Apple is usually very good at PR, I’m surprised they have not said anything since their press release.  The talks of recalls are silly (this is not a safety issue), nor is comparing this antenna issue to Toyota or BP (read last paragraph) blunders even logical in the extreme.  Probably the best thing they can do now is either subsidize or give away bumpers to people who have purchased the iPhone 4, similar to what Nintendo did with the Wii controller.

Only Apple could release a highly successful product that sold 1.7 million units in 3 days (and easily over 2 million by now) and still be criticized to such extremes.  The truth of the matter is a significantly large percentage of users are happy, and for those that aren’t, if you are really that dissatisfied with the iPhone 4, RETURN IT.  Your 30 days are up on July 24, 2010.

Apple iPad Review

Well, it has been exactly three weeks since I received my 64GB Wi-FI + 3G model.

BLUF: The iPad is an amazing piece of hardware that I would highly recommend. While your initial thoughts may be “why do I need this in my life and how will it benefit me”, once you start using it, everything just flows naturally.

Note: For the non-military folk, BLUF is Bottom Line Up Front

As a general note, I’m not going to harp on flash (I rarely use it except for Hulu, see below), and multitasking (which is slated to be released in Fall 2010).

Positives:

1) Screen – I know a common retort is “The iPad is just a big iPhone”, but that statement misses the point entirely. The extra screen real estate compared to the iPhone is game changing, and though it is hard to explain in words, everything you view on it looks sharp. It changes the way apps (and eventually web sites) will be able to display content to the user.

2) Applications – Apple isn’t stupid, and knew going in that most of what was not going to be pre-installed on the iPad could always be filled by the App Store. Netflix, ABC Player, AirVideo, GoodReader, NY Times (just to name a few) all provide added benefits to the iPad. The best part: the longer the iPad is out, the likelihood that even better apps will be released.

3) Portability – I travel a lot b/c of my career (approximately 25% of the time), and the iPad is a much more portable system than a laptop. Longer battery, faster startup, and a more convenient size (plus you don’t have to take it out of your carry bag for security) make it a more versatile piece of equipment. Also, it alleviates a common problem I have when travelling – I save my iPhone battery and don’t have to worry about running out while taking connecting flights that total a 9hr+ travel day.

As far as typing goes, it does take some getting used to, but in landscape mode, I can type at roughly 80% of my normal typing speed. However, I don’t plan on writing a 20pg test report on it ever. The keyboard is perfect for what you will be doing on the iPad 95% of the time.

And of course, what it does best is watching Netflix while lying on the bed/couch. 🙂

Negatives:

1) 3G – I purchased the $30 for unlimited data for 1 month to try it out, and I find it to be slightly faster than the 3G on the iPhone. However, on principle it bothers me that we have to pay an additional fee to use 3G when both devices are under the same company (AT&T). They should implement a system that allows you switch the 3G access between the two devices (maybe by exchanging SIM cards?) or through some alternative method. There are rumors of tethering being allowed with the iPhone OS 4.0, so maybe someone will come up with a clever solution for this?

2) Hulu – Probably the only thing I’d want flash for. If more television companies released apps like the ABC Player (which frankly is Hulu for ABC), then this really wouldn’t be a concern. There are lots of rumors that the Hulu app will be coming (and will include a subscription that will allow much more access). The open question is how much and what exactly will it provide me. If it could provide multiple seasons of shows, Netflix + Hulu would be an incredible combo.

Note: I wrote this whole post on the iPad 🙂