@ZJEmptv, it’s time to pick better battles to fight.

Maybe it’s a part of growing up, but I just no longer have the interest in arguing about certain things I used to love debating/arguing about at length (i.e. OS X’s superiority to other operating systems).  It is with a little bit of this wisdom that I see a little bit of myself in ZJEmptv on YouTube, a.k.a. Zinnia Jones, the “Queen of Atheism” (note: ZJ is actually a guy, and no, he isn’t trans, though given his look, he’s happy with being referred to as “he” or “she” and I may mix genders of pronouns in this post as it feels right).

(UPDATE Feb 2013: ZJ actually did come out as trans since I wrote this. Keeping gender pronouns as they were for posterity)

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ZJ covers a wide variety of topics, but her two biggest topics are queer-related topics, and topics related to atheism.  In the earlier videos, you’ll find a spunky teenager with unkempt hair with a bad attitude telling you about his dick (seriously), but there’s been a gradual transition to longer, better kept hair, some makeup wearing, and sadly, her videos are now very monotone; in a quest for better eloquence, she’s now writing out her video transcripts and reading off of them.  It feels lacking in emotion and unhuman, but they’re her videos, not mine, and I won’t judge.

In any case, despite being a high school dropout and never having gone to college, ZJ is a fantastic debater, carefully picking apart opponents’ arguments and meticulously destroying them.  ZJ is also no slouch academically, usually being quite knowledgeable about any subject he tackles (now I feel sexist, referring to ZJ as a boy when talking about his intelligence, but referring to her as a girl when talking about how her videos are robotic sounding… my bad) and being generally very well-informed.

To me it feels like such a waste of greatness to see him on YouTube.  Have you ever read YouTube comments?  I usually think twice before posting one myself, because I don’t feel idiotic enough to belong in the ranks of the people who leave the worthless drivel they call comments.  And here ZJ is trying to win people over to atheism (an evangelical atheist?).

ZJ, this post is for you, and I’m giving you this advice out of pure admiration.  If you’ll forgive the irony, you’re preaching to the choir.  The religious people you try to reason with are not going to be convinced to abandon religion after seeing reason, and if they do, they’ll get there on their own.  People don’t become religious because their minds followed a soundly logical path.  Most of them just had it presented to them as fact at a very young age, and went with it.  Others are looking for something to follow.  Whatever the case, people who are sticking with religion are not doing so because it’s the logical thing to do.  They’re doing it because they’re putting blind faith in the belief system, and the belief system was cleverly constructed to “reward” you for your blind faith.  With an ingenious system like that, no number of YouTube videos will win people over.  They’ll have to see it and realize it for themselves, just as you did at one point.

It’s sure frustrating, though, isn’t it?  It’s frustrating to be a second class citizen because people want to turn their belief system into a law that applies to you.  It frustrates me that I went through school thinking the US has cleared up all its injustices, only to realize after I came out of the closet that this was far from the truth, and it’s still socially acceptable by many to hate me for my orientation.  It’s frustrating to see Australia, where gay marriage was overturned by a landslide vote.  It’s frustrating to see the African countries where citizens cheer on the execution of gay people.  It’s frustrating to see that anyone who believes in a religion is already 99% atheist because they don’t believe in any of the other religions, but are convinced that theirs is the right one.

In addition to the frustration, there are the true dangers of religion, which you point out.  Humans are very prone to following authority, and you start to find that religious people become okay with genocide under the right circumstances (remember what other group of people became okay with genocide?).  Religious people become complacent about child abuse under the right circumstances.  Religious people make the connection that the war the US is in is somehow its punishment for not treating gay people badly enough.  It’s enough to make you want to curl up in a ball, repeating to yourself “this isn’t the world I want to live in.”

So what do we do to spread the good word of atheism?  Well, if I was convinced that you could convince people out of religion by the logical reasoning you use in your videos (even if it was just a few people), I’d say keep doing that.  But as I said, if someone’s smart enough to connect the dots, they’re going to do it with or without your help.  But look at the trends.  The US is getting more secular with each generation, and despite religious people’s fighting, religious faiths are dying down.  Religion is fading away, albeit at a pretty slow pace, and people are going to start treating each other better because of it.  We have to push for better educations for people, and to equip people mentally with the bullshit detectors that will eventually go off one day when they’re sitting in church.  We have to come out of the closet (I know, we did that once already, isn’t that enough?) as atheists.  As more and more people start identifying publicly as nonreligious, people will start to realize that nonreligious people aren’t the savages religion makes them out to be.

So, ZJ, in conclusion, I love your spirit and your intelligence.  Use those in a way to make a difference; to enjoy your own life and enjoy the mental freedom you get as an atheist who rejects gender boundaries.  And I’d love to hear your take on my thoughts here, too.  You always do have a way with breaking apart arguments.  And if I don’t see a video or blog post about this, I’ll safely assume you couldn’t find flaws in my logic and I’ll assume I’m right.

Much love,

Aaron

EDIT: ZJ did respond quite promptly.

He must have skimmed my post

 

 

And here’s the video:

I think some very fine points are made by him.  Certainly there is something to be gained through a healthy debate or discussion.  My jadedness comes from seeing ZJ trying to reason with people who are either clearly idiots (like the kind you see holding up misspelled signs at Tea Party rallies) or they have some intelligence, and they try to come off as being really smart but end up throwing in a bunch of gaping logical fallacies.

For further irony, I often live by the serenity prayer in that sense, in that I’ve learned to have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (i.e. people who are trollishly religious on YouTube), the courage to change the things I can (working to make the world a better place), and the wisdom to know the difference (rules like “if it’s a YouTube comment and it’s a large run on sentence with no punctuation marks involved at all, ignore”).

Thanks, ZJ, for your quick comment, and if there is a response, I look forward to watching/reading.

The Cognitive Dissonance of Being an Apple Fan

Back in the 90s, fanatic Mac users were regarded as a very small group of benign followers of an underdog company.  Though Steve Jobs had long been ousted and was pursuing other projects for much of the decade, the sense of culture he instilled into Apple had long set in with Apple’s customers.  And it was a special thing to be a Mac owner (outside of a school).  If you saw someone with an Apple sticker on their car, you’d strike up a conversation with them.  You’d make friends with a PowerBook-wielding stranger you saw on the train.  And people surely poked fun at Mac owners, but you couldn’t help but feel a little bad for them, standing up proudly for the dying fruit company.

I’ve used Apple computers all my life myself, though I didn’t buy one of my own until 2003.  Though Apple was clearly on the rebound at this point, it was still very much an underdog company, and I was in a relatively small minority of users.  At this point, Mac users were kind of annoying and preachy about how great their Macs were, but there weren’t that many of them.

Fast forward to the present.  Douchebags on Digg coined the term “fanboy” a couple years back (which has got to be the weakest derogatory term for someone I have ever heard and just screams “white nerd made this one up”), and Macs are a mainstream product.  Apple’s got enough cash to fill an Olympic sized pool with $100 bills and just swim in it a la Scrooge McDuck.  It’s no longer special to be a Mac user.  What’s more, there’s a huge amount of aggression against Mac users, and usually any criticism of Windows on a message board immediately turns into some long drawn out bitchfest about how being a Mac user means you’re some soulless individual who spends his free time fellating Steve Jobs.

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But it’s deeper than that.  It’s a really interesting struggle facing Apple gadget wielding tech enthusiasts.  Apple is not the friendly fruit company it was in the 90s, where it was kind of adorable to see the small cult following of fans.  It’s a giant corporation and it’s been dominating every new market it enters.  It’s even dominating the personal computer market in certain areas as well, such as the market of college students.  I read recently that 70% of incoming college freshmen in the US are bringing Macs with them.  Apple is mainstream now, and rooting for them is like rooting for Jeff Gordon in the 90s, or the Yankees, or Wal-Mart.

But there’s more at play here, too, and that is the part where I get to the cognitive dissonance.  I’m referring mainly to a fundamental shift in Apple’s culture.  And by shift, I mean a full 180.  And it makes being a Mac enthusiast a bit more difficult to swallow.

You remember that counterculture thing I was talking about a couple paragraphs ago?  Well, this was started by Steve Jobs back in the 80s as trying to market Apple as a counterculture against “The Man” that was (back then) IBM’s behemoth of a corporation.  IBM was made out to represent the status quo that this new generation of youngsters wanted to change.

In addition to this counterculture revolt Apple was pitching, they also were one of the earliest pioneers of an advertising style called lifestyle advertising, which was first started by then CEO of Pepsi John Sculley, who Steve Jobs snatched up.  I like to think lifestyle advertising is very effective on a subconscious level, and it helps you sort of build a user base that is what you want it to be.  And Apple has been big on lifestyle advertising even up to today (though they’ve slowed down with it since iPhone).

And all this time, Apple is painting its users as the rebels of the worlds, the crazy ones, the rule breakers, the ones that thought they were crazy enough to think they can change the world.  Mac users are the creative ones.  They’re often the artists, and the ones who develop revolutionary new things.  In the advent of OS X the Mac became a programmer’s toy box, and OS X was once touted on Apple’s own website as being “hackable” (in the literal sense of the word, not the colloquial, of course).

Apple’s admittedly slowed down on that rhetoric in the past few years, but probably only because they realized what incredible hypocrites they’d look like if they kept that up.  Instead now, Apple’s the company that is running the iPhone App Store in a most Orwellian fashion, it has a hypersecretive culture, and product introductions by Steve Jobs really remind me of that 1984 commercial in all the wrong ways:

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This is the cognitive dissonance Apple fans face.

 

So, what do we Apple fans do about it?  Do we leave behind our lives and identities as Apple gadgetry lovers?  A few have done this, but often came back when they realized what the world of non-Apple tech is like.  Do we try making sense of Apple’s moves and defending them?  I’ve done this quite a bit myself, understanding a lot of the philosophies behind why Apple does things the way they do.  But then doing this gets you labeled as some sort of Apple apologist (which I am definitely not; there are a lot of things Apple has done that have pissed me off and I don’t defend).

To really come to terms with being Apple fanboys and girls in a world of a changed Apple, we need to do what Steve did when he returned to Apple in 1997.  We need to take inventory of what we love about Apple, and why we aren’t busily using PC products.  We aren’t locked into the Apple ecosystem by any means for the most part; our files will mostly work fine on another platform, and software is available to suit all of our needs.  It’s not cost, because Apple stuff tends to command a premium price.  It isn’t apathy or laziness either, because most of us Apple fanboys and girls are quite energetic about our tech stuff and aren’t ones to just use whatever device they happen to have and live with it.  There are things that keep us attracted to Apple.

It’s their products and their intense focus on making them great.  When you unbox an Apple gadget, everything has clearly been touched by Apple hands, right down to the charger and cords.  Devices are incredibly well built, not slapped together like most common digital appliances.  The user experience as a whole has been scrutinized by people who are borderline obsessive compulsive about minute details, because they want to get every last thing just right.  That sort of attention to detail is rare, and you’ll definitely never find it elsewhere in consumer electronics and consumer software.  That is the New Apple® culture that Apple is radiating to its consumers.

This culture of superlative excellence permeates through the whole Mac ecosystem.  Software makers like the Omni Group get it.  Use their software and if you’re observant you’ll notice tons of nice little touches to how the software behaves and feels that you’ll only find in software where the developers were obsessed with perfection.  Though the mass appeal of iPhone has gotten it a lot of crapps, you’ll find lots of beautiful, professionally designed games from firms like the Iconfactory.  There is still a vibrant community of people who focus heavily on details, and that is ultimately the sort of thing it makes sense to focus on as an Apple fanboy nowadays.  And you don’t even have to feel guilty about it.

seriously, iTunes?

I’ve used every version of iTunes since 1.0 (even that short-lived version 5), and traditionally, it’s been one of Apple’s real software assets.  Nice, simple management of your music library.  When iPod came along, things got even better because things synced up so beautifully and simply.  But the software just hasn’t managed to stay this spry since those golden days.  It’s still definitely a leader in managing your media library (and really doing a hell of a lot more than that now), but that speaks more to just how awful iTunes’s competition is.  I’d like to share with you my biggest iTunes pet peeves.  Feel free to leave our own in the comments!

1. iTunes, you’re starting to get a little fat.

I feel a little hypocritical making this criticism, since i’m not exactly thin and light like most of Apple’s products (and their CEO… too soon?), but there was a day when iTunes was just a few megabytes in size.  Now, you’re looking at upwards of 150 megabytes for the app.  That’s kind of pathetic considering that iTunes is piggybacking off of a lot of OS X technologies.  Honestly, I don’t really care how much space iTunes takes up as long as it is good at what it does, but as you’ll read in my next complaints it isn’t really good at what it does, and maybe, just maybe, there’s some bloated code here.

2. Use some freaking threads!

This one truly baffles me.  Apple is constantly developing all these new technologies and APIs for developers to use in their apps, and is always pushing developers to use the latest technologies or get left with an app that won’t run in OS X’s next release.  Yet, Apple apps tend to be the worst offenders about using old APIs and frameworks in their apps.  I guess there are perks to being the ones who are writing the OS.  One of the worst offenders of not using new technologies is iTunes.  And there aren’t many apps I can think of that would be better candidates for using more of these modern technologies like, say, doing more than one thing at a time.  Also, iTunes, there isn’t a god damn thing you need to use modal windows for.  Get rid of them!

3. What the hell is this?

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If iTunes is doing multiple things (and isn’t choking up trying to do these multiple things at once) this is the…. thing you interact with.  And instead of being able to see all at once what all’s going on, you have to click this stupid little arrow button to go on to see the next progress bar.  It’s asinine, and surely there’s a better way of doing it.

4. What were the UI designers who designed the iTunes UI for managing apps on iOS devices smoking?

I can’t really capture how asinine this UI is with mere screenshots.  All I can say is just try using it yourself and you will realize what a freaking clusterfuck that UI is.  I am pretty well convinced that Apple worked aggressively to optimize the design of that interface so that it was as antagonistic to the user as an interface could possibly be.  Seriously, I have never in my life seen an Apple product be so unnatural to use.  I don’t even think Microsoft could have made that interface worse.

5. Home Sharing is kind of half baked.

Maybe I’m not the target market for Home Sharing.  Maybe it was designed for households that had multiple different people who wanted to get each other’s music.  I just wanted it so that I could (try to) keep my work PC and laptop’s music libraries in sync.  And by “in sync” I mean fully in sync, complete with same ratings, play counts, everything.

Even if that wasn’t something you wanted to do, you could have done your current feature set a lot better.  Using it to download each other’s music is kind of kludgy and not that natural.  Granted, a lot easier than what you’d have to do before, but not that great.  And I’m not a big fan of the iTunes store hoops you have to jump through to do Home Sharing.

6. No lyric fetching?

Seriously, what is this? I’m sick of needing third party software to accomplish something iTunes would be much better at doing itself.

7. Time to cloud things up.

Plugging my iPhone into my computer to exchange information seems so… last decade.  My iPhone and iTunes feel so disconnected from one another despite the fact that both are connected to the web.  It’s time for iTunes to get more web based.  Let me sync over the air.  Create an online service similar to Pandora or last.fm that integrates with my iTunes account and lets me listen to all sorts of tunes and share them with friends.  Apple, you’ve got a golden opportunity to fundamentally change the way people share and discover music.  You’ve killed off radio by turning people onto having their own music collections in their pockets.  But you failed to really delve into the music discovery thing.  I rely heavily on friends and word of mouth to find new songs.  Genius is trying to help, but it’s only getting me so far.  Services like Spotify look really enticing, but the iTunes ecosystem is tried and true, and people will trust a subscription based system from Apple to stick around.  And the prospect of (legally) just sending my awesome playlist to my friend instantly to have him listen to it is a really cool concept.  There is so much freaking potential here, Apple, and you aren’t seizing it.  And Apple can get away with that for awhile because they’re one of few leaders.

 

All right, readers (both of you).  That’s about enough complaining from me.  What pisses YOU off about iTunes?

AT&T’s real problem

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Everywhere you read about technology, the chief complaint about AT&T seems to be its dropped calls in big cities.  And while that’s a very valid complaint and all, AT&T has a much bigger problem on their hands.

It’s their coverage map.

Ask any AT&T rep about their 3G coverage, and one who is well-versed in bull-shittery will quickly point out that AT&T’s 3G network reaches 75-80% of the US population.  Wow, you think.  That’s pretty reasonable.

Unfortunately, that’s just a really flattering interpretation of a pretty lousy 3G footprint.  Much of the US is crammed into some super densely populated areas, so you can reach 75% of the US population without covering much land.  And maybe if you live in a large city that is blanketed in AT&T 3G, it’s not a big deal to you that 3G isn’t available out of your bubble.

However, when you pay your inflated wireless bill, you’re paying for a nationwide wireless network.  You’re paying for a promise that you can go out to these far out places and have some coverage.  You’re paying for a promise that you can be traveling down a highway in a place you don’t know and call up a friend for directions because you’re lost.

But that’s not really something you can do with AT&T, because they just don’t put forth the effort.

I live in the Madison area, and I often travel to Iowa via 151, which is a four lane highway all the way into Iowa.  If I made a phone call starting when I got on the highway and tried maintaining a call all the way into Iowa, my call will drop several times, because the towers are spaced too far apart.

But to AT&T, this is acceptable.  After all, why put the money into an area that isn’t very densely populated?  After all, it doesn’t give you much of a return, so why bother having it there for customers to use?

Again, it all comes back to the promise of a nationwide network.  When you’re paying your bill, you’re not just paying for infrastructure in the area your billing address is.  You are paying for a network to be there when you happen to be on this random road and you break down.  You’re paying to have service to make calls when you’re staying at a friend’s house in some podunk town.

For sure, AT&T needs to address the issues in its big cities.  And they can afford to do so, because they have a lot of subscribers per square mile.  But they also need to start taking more rural areas seriously.  Even EDGE coverage is acceptable here (though they could put up 3G towers and make a handsome profit selling internet service to people out in the country), but there needs to be some coverage.  Verizon has AT&T beat by a long shot, and their network is 3G across the board. And if AT&T wants to keep customers like me, they’re going to have to put forth the infrastructure, or I’m leaving in 2012 when Verizon LTE iPhones are available.

The Verizon iPhone isn’t coming any time soon. I promise.

Is there a bookie that will let me place a bet that AT&T will remain the exclusive iPhone carrier for a period of time?  If so, I could be sitting on a gold mine.

You don’t need me to tell you that Verizon iPhone rumors are a dime a dozen and that they’ve been around pretty much since iPhone was announced (but I guess I just did  tell you).  The rumors are all absolute crap until at least 2012.  It was confirmed in 2007 (and it was re-confirmed in 2010) that iPhone would be exclusive to AT&T by USA Today.  And here’s an Engadget article confirming this.

If you think that your early termination fee is high, you can bet that the early termination fee for the contract Apple inked with AT&T is much steeper.  And surely AT&T deserves a great deal of credit for letting Apple get its foot in the door for a revolution in how we deal with mobile phones in the US.  Now, the phone maker controls the user experience, instead of the carrier.  This leaves the carrier to focus exclusively on providing a great network for users, which is great, because AT&T needs all the time they can get to focus on making a better network.  Plus, canceling the exclusivity contract without AT&T’s blessing would put a damper on Apple and AT&T’s relationship, which for sure would need to live on after the two are no longer exclusive.

The relationship between Apple and AT&T right now sure as hell isn’t very good, though.  Wired had a great article about the strained relationship between Apple and AT&T, but the talk about Verizon iPhone is either the journalist making up shit as link bait (any article mentioning Verizon and iPhone is sure to get a lot of reads) or the Apple contacts were just fucking with them (which actually would be a really fun thing to do if you worked for the fruit company).  I knew for sure it was pure myth when I read the part where Apple allegedly dropped the Verizon iPhone plans upon realizing that the CDMA radio chip was too big and would require a nontrivial redesign of iPhone’s innards.  Apple’s influential enough to get Intel to redesign chips for them and let Apple have them early; to say that Apple couldn’t either modify iPhone’s design for CDMA chip or get a smaller chip is just dumb.  And even if a CDMA iPhone wasn’t a choice, Apple could have sold the iPhone unlocked or to other carriers in the US, but isn’t.  It isn’t that Apple doesn’t want the extra customers, it’s the exclusivity agreement.

Now, I’m sure there are clauses in the contract between Apple and AT&T that would allow iPhone to go non-exclusive.  For instance, there is probably a clause for low sales.  As you’ll note, iPhone’s sales surely haven’t been suffering, so no chance that clause will save us from the wrath of Ma Bell.  And since we didn’t really have phones using data back in 2007, Apple was naïve and didn’t bother putting in a network performance clause.  After all, we had never really seen cell networks get congested before iPhone, so how were we to know that cell networks were so vastly unprepared for us to actually start using data?

The bitter truth here is that US Americans using iPhones won’t have access to good… maps, like Verizon’s… until 2012.  Assuming that efficient enough radios exist by then, we’ll likely see iPhone jump straight into LTE, which happens to be what Verizon is starting this year.  By 2012, their LTE network should be nice and well developed, and the LTE iPhones will work around the world.  Man, I look forward to these days.

 

 

The angry queer: an open letter to straight people (in the US)

Dear straight people:

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I have to often hold myself back every time I hear someone start on a “I’ve got nothing against the gays, but why do they have to flaunt their homosexuality like that?” rant, and it happens all the time, and I’ve even seen this mentality come to be accepted within the less flamboyant part of the queer community, and this pisses me right off.

You know why?  It’s because straight people flaunt their sexual orientation all the time too, if not more than gay people, because they’ve identified their sexual orientation as the dominant one.  The bulk of US culture is centered around being heterosexual, setting expectations for men and women from a young age to adhere to a life of heterosexuality.  It’s okay to be hetero, though, if that’s what you are.  You’re just being yourself, and I don’t fault anyone for that.

But when gay people want to be themselves, then it’s a whole different story, isn’t it?  When gay people start being themselves, it’s no longer being themselves.  Instead, it’s flaunting.

This is a huge problem.  You can’t just say you’re accepting of the way other people are, but only if they want to look and act just like you do.  That’s not what freedom is about.  Freedom is about having the peace of mind that you can be yourself because you have the integrity to let your fellow people be themselves as well.  It’s a shared thing.  We have gay parades where we show off our own subcultures.  Straight people have their parades where they show off things that are important to them.  And I go to both, and I think it’s great if straight people come to our parades. You’ll be loved for showing your support for us!

Straight people, you need to get over the fact that we’re different.  We’ve come to terms with that now, because you’ve been reminding us that our entire lives.  Next time you see that flamboyant guy or the butch woman, don’t feel like you’re threatened. Feel reassured that you’re not living under an oppressive regime that pushes for everyone to be the same.  Feel happily reassured that it’s okay for you to be you.

And for fuck’s sake, get off your religious high horse and quit trying to tell other people how to be morally correct. You’re in the United States, where you get to choose your own faith.  So if you choose a faith that says being gay is bad, then be reminded every time you see a gay guy that you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where you can follow the faith that works for you.

Much love,

Aaron

Evernote Feature Requests (that really are thinly veiled complaints)

One software program I use every day and would be lost without is Evernote.  I use it as my second brain and it faithfully stores all of the information I gather throughout my day that I find worth keeping for later.  The best part of it is that Evernote’s available for pretty much any platform.  You can get it for OS X, Windows, Linux (via the web, but someone’s developing a native app), iOS, Android and Blackberry.  Possibly even for webOS.  By being available on all of those platforms, it’s very likely Evernote is always within an arm’s reach for you, which is the beauty of it, because that makes it very easy to quickly capture some piece of information you’ll need later, saving you from having to scramble for a scrap of paper, then wonder where you put it later.

 

Recently, Evernote got me really excited by saying they were going to unveil a new, secret thing this week that would change the way I thought about Evernote.

 

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I was pretty excited.  What could be under that red velvet (maybe even velour?) cloth?  Of the many feature requests I have, I figured the odds were pretty good that this surprise announcement would give me one of those features.

 

It ended up giving me none.  But, at the same time, it kind of gave me all of them.

 

You see, instead of actually implementing much desired features and putting them in Evernote, Evernote is now becoming a platform instead of a tool that holds its own.  Evernote launched a service called Trunk which is basically a collection of services that can be used in conjunction with Evernote.

 

There are two problems I am seeing so far with these programs and services:

  • They often cost money on top of my Evernote Premium subscription (and are often subscriptions themselves)
  • Many don’t offer very meaningful integration with Evernote.

 

Here’s an example one:

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Ooh, I can save my PDF into Evernote?  Wow, adding that option must have required oodles of effort!  And think of all the work it’s going to save me now!  Instead of saving my PDF and dragging it into Evernote, I can just save into Evernote!  Wow, if I do that enough times a day, that could save me… minutes in the long run.

And sending to Evernote is the extent of its integration.  If you wanted to open a PDF already in Evernote and annotate it or mark it up or edit it, you’d have to send it to Evernote again.

 

Here’s one that made me laugh:

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It’s a paper notebook.  No, really, that’s what it is.  And its “integration” with Evernote is that you can just scan those pages right into Evernote when you’re done!

 

There are a few diamonds in the rough (Egretlist looks really promising), but fundamentally, I want to see Evernote get more cool features to let me use it in new ways, and seeing that Evernote developers are pushing Trunk is sending me a message that Evernote’s not interested in actually adding new features to Evernote.  Instead, they want others to do that work.  And being reliant on other companies for your own success is just not a good position to put yourself in.

I want to see Evernote investing in making new features.  They’ve got access to their core elements and can make those kinds of fundamental improvements.  They can change the mobile versions of their apps to do more (iPhone apps can’t really have third party plugins).

So, here are my Evernote feature requests:

  • You know how Evernote can OCR images (which is amazing)? Why not transcribe audio recordings?
  • Evernote has the ability to make things to-do items.  Improve upon this!  Minimally, let me specify due dates and give me some ways/views to manage the things I have to do (controlling that by location would be spiffy)
  • Make search work with characters that aren’t alphanumeric.  Seriously.
  • Let me doodle on Evernote in places other than the Windows version of Evernote.  Doodling in iOS version of Evernote would be sweet.
  • Let me record audio while also editing a note in another way (like typing or drawing).  And while you’re at it, keep track of when I write certain things so that I can go back to that part of the note and play back the audio, so I can remember context and maybe catch what I missed the first time around.
  • Instead of making me highlight text to clip from the web, let me select a box and capture that, similar to how LittleSnapper handles it.
  • Let me annotate web pages right from my browser, then save those annotations in Evernote.  This would go great with the web site memory feature.
  • Give me the ability to link to other sections of my notes and other notes in Evernote.
  • Give me some drawing tools so I can circle important things, make diagrams, etc.
  • Create a watch folder I can save stuff to that will auto-import into Evernote.
  • Give desktop versions of Evernote feature parity.
  • Give mobile versions of Evernote feature parity.
  • Fix image drag & drop in OS X so that I can drag images from notes into an Open dialog box and get the image.
  • Work harder on improving performance of Windows Evernote.  It’s a little pathetic.
  • Let me edit notes in the mobile version of Evernote.
  • Sometimes I like to keep code snippets in Evernote.  Let me define notes as being plain text, then let me edit them in my favorite text editor.

 

 

Apple’s iPhone 4 Death Grip Press Conference

My first blast from the past is from a few hours ago.  Enjoy!

death grip.png

So, everyone’s been talking about the iPhone’s “death grip” issue–that is, the issue in which holding the iPhone 4 in a certain way causes you to lose your signal. Of course, none of the people making these complaints actually own an iPhone 4. Well, I am both left handed and I actually own one, so I’d like to explain what the issue is, why it’s not really an issue, and we should probably talk about Apple’s press conference they held today (in a word: wow).

So, first off, I will say that yes, if you hold the phone in a certain way, reception will drop a couple bars after a few seconds. 

But you probably don’t hold it that way.

I don’t hold it that way.

And my iPhone 3GS lost signal when I picked it up if I was in an area with poor signal. It’s just that there weren’t steel bars to make it easy to notice where to touch it to make the signal degrade.

The thing is, iPhone 4 has an issue that previous iPhones (and other phones) have. The problem can be manifested in a way that perhaps is more noticeable for people holding it a certain way. But iPhone 4 gets better overall reception due to this design change. So, Apple is sticking with the new design.

And, if you’re still not happy with that, Apple’s going to give away bumpers so that you can hold the iPhone in that forbidden way and not be affected. It seems like a kludgy solution, but then again, you can’t accommodate every single way a person wants to hold the phone. This offers something for that user who wants to hold the iPhone in that (really weird) way. 

But I don’t think Steve Jobs was really the best person for this situation. And I really don’t even think a press conference was appropriate here. Apple would have been much better off had they just e-mailed customers saying what they were doing. Because Apple used this press conference to try to tell the press that they were being dicks, spreading misinformation, while at the same time feeding out cherry picked statistics about the issue to try to tell people they’re wrong. And seriously, Steve Jobs? What is some of the random crap you’re saying here? My two favorites are when he mentioned that Apple built over 300 retail stores out of love for customers (apparently not to sell Apple stuff), and he made some odd comment saying “would you rather we were a Korean company?” I didn’t understand that one.

Steve did point out that over 3 million iPhones 4 devices have been sold so far. And that, to me, is a real sign the media’s blowing it out of proportion. If there really were a problem, people WOULDN’T BE BUYING THE DAMN THINGS. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that Steve Jobs isn’t one to fess up when he did something wrong, except during that backdating scandal when he was potentially facing jail time, at which point he was quite candid in admitting that illegal things happened under his watch. But if Apple has truly screwed something up, you can bet your ass they aren’t saying a word. Remember when all those iBook G3s had dead logic boards? Not a word from Apple besides silently extending repair programs. Such has been the case with a number of hardware failures Apple has had over the years. 

But you’ve got to admire their style. Apple isn’t the ass kissing kind of company. In fact, they’re quite the opposite. And that’s why I am a happy customer of theirs. They don’t do focus groups. They don’t ask customers what they want and implement whatever got the most votes. Instead, they focus on the whole experience, and they find smart, thought out solutions to problems. And they stick by their guns about it.

First!

Hi, I’m Aaron.

I’ve been writing lots of posts on the web, but they’ve mostly existed in various places and didn’t get to be viewed by the world at large.  I’ve got nearly 200 Facebook notes right now, and I’ll be moving in some of my older, more awesome posts on slow news days when I don’t have anything else to say.

These first posts are always kind of lame, because they never really have any content, and usually about 95% of these first posts end up being one of the only posts that get written.  Well, I like to rant a lot about things, so don’t worry; this won’t be the only post here.

But, I’ll not drag this post on too much, because it already sounds lame, boring and dry.  You’ll learn about my kind of wide array of interests soon enough, but here are some quick facts about me:

  • I’m a Mac evangelist, but I use Windows a lot too.  Also a Linux enthusiast from time to time.
  • Love mobile OSes, particularly iOS and Android.  The rest don’t really have much of a future.
  • I’m a gay rights advocate, and I love having discussions about the theory of being queer, and gender related topics.
  • I enjoy discussing fundamental political philosophies.
  • I’m more existentialist than religious.
  • I work in the healthcare IT industry, and healthcare access for all is very important to me.
  • I love art, but am not good at it.
  • I’m a little eccentric.
  • I’m interested in sustainability and the environment.
  • I kind of have a thing for the 90s.

I hope this doesn’t become a place where I broadcast my thoughts for you to absorb (which admittedly sounds a little sexy, albeit kinky), but rather, I hope my posts can be the seeds of discussion, and I hope I can form relationships with my readers (also kinky).

So click that RSS button in your browser, because this is going to be fun.  Go ahead, click it now.  I’ll wait.  You know you want to do it.