Why I Buy Apple

Over the years, there have been some articles looking at the differences between owning a Mac and owning a PC. Some people try to create a comparable PC to an available Mac. Others have noted the difference when it comes to enterprise support costs.

Over the last decade, I’ve had my share of laptops. Before I became an Apple user in 2009, I had used a Gateway and Dell portable. I still own the Dell, though I don’t use it anymore. Once I got my first Mac, a mid-2009 15-inch MacBook Pro, I knew I wasn’t going back. It was not just the hardware quality but also the software. OS X was such a change from Windows, and the features built into each Mac, whether with the multi-touch gestures or the operating system itself, meant I was never going back to Windows as my primary system.

Earlier this week, I had to drop off my current Mac at the Apple Store. In short, my trackpad stopped functioning as it should. While a minor issue in itself, proper use of the trackpad is required for me to use my computer on a daily basis. So, early Monday afternoon, I dropped off my MacBook Pro at the local Apple Store. Thursday morning, I got a call saying that it was complete and ready to be picked up.

Since being a Mac user, I’ve never had to drop off my computer for repair work. Having faith in Apple’s support system, I knew that my trackpad would be repaired. But that wasn’t all that they touched. Upon receipt of my computer, I saw the product repair summary, which had a total of three items:

  1. Top Case w/ Battery – The retina MacBook Pro is created with the trackpad and keyboard being part of the top case on the laptop. To fix the trackpad meant replacing that entire piece. So, this I expected. (Though the new battery wasn’t expected, but I’ll gladly accept it.)
  2. Bottom Case – According to the summary, there was a sign of a wobble in the enclosure. If there was some kind of battery issue that lead to my failed trackpad, I can see why this might come in. Wasn’t expecting this, but I’m glad they found it.
  3. Audio Board – While I typically use headphones with my Mac, I haven’t noticed any issues with the sound from the internal speakers. Yet, somewhere along the lines, someone checked my system and determined that there was distorted audio coming from my computer. This replacement was definitely not foreseen by any means.

After three days without my computer, I had it back with the issue fixed and with other items that I didn’t even suspect also fixed. And while the laptop is a mid-2013 model, I bought it refurbished back in September, meaning that it is still in the one-year warranty that comes standard with the laptop. So the cost to me for all of this repair work was nothing.

I realize that this is a typical Apple story. But for me, I have a prior negative story to contrast it with. Back in 2006, I was still attending university. I had a laptop I was working to death in my engineering courses. Going with the advertisements in the day, I ended up with a Gateway. While I don’t recall the specs of my device at the time, I do recall trying to get that laptop fixed.

While I had some experience with custom desktops, I had no experience with troubleshooting issues on a laptop. So, when my 1-year old laptop started taking over 12 minutes to come out of hibernation, I knew something was going on with it but wasn’t sure what it was exactly.1 I decided to bring it back to the place where I had bought it, Best Buy, and see what the Geek Squad could do. After a check of the system and hearing about the symptoms, they packed it up and sent it off to be taken care of.

After a week, I got the call that my laptop was ready to be picked up. So, driving to Best Buy, I excitedly picked up my laptop and brought it home. I wanted to see how much better it performed. Would it be just like the first day I turned it on?

In a word, no. The computer still took over a half hour to boot. What did they do when I had shipped it in? Investigating the paperwork and making a few phone calls, I found out what was fixed: the case protecting my laptop screen. The techs apparently saw a crack and replaced it. Of course, replacing my laptop case wasn’t related to the symptoms I was seeing. The techs did nothing to address my actual concern. It wasn’t until the 2nd time that I sent it in that I was able to finally get it addressed.

That one experience turned me off from computer support for many years. And it is also one of the things that I truly appreciate about Apple. I have a friend that once went through a handful of iPod Touches. Why? The home button stopped working. The device was in warranty, and each time he took it in, they would replace it with a duplicate device.

For me, being able to take in my MacBook and get it repaired to an extent beyond what I had even expected is the kind of support I would gladly pay for. And it was provided for free. Apple might sell their devices for more than the competitors, but their service is top-of-the-line. I can’t think of any other tech company that provides similar service. If there is any reason to buy Apple, this is it.


  1. Yes, it was the hard drive, though I do recall there were other problems with the laptop at the time. I wasn’t good with this stuff back then.  

“Hands free”

This week is turning into an impromptu test of my iPad productivity. After a hardware issue with my Mac, my main productivity driver, I’m now without it while it is sent away for repairs.

My day job requires the use of a clunky Windows PC and, while that still works, it’s not capable of the scripting that I occasionally need to do, nor does it create an effective way to work with my project tracking workflow that I had already set up through the use of my Mac as a second computer.

So this week, I’m channeling my inner Federico Viticci and trying to use my iPad to fill in the gaps. While acting as a second screen, it’ll also provide some limitations for me.

First, I typically would use my Mac to keep several items in full screen, including Asana, where my work tasks and our internal issue list is duplicated. While there is an iOS Asana app, it isn’t the same as having the full webpage available on my Mac’s external display.1

I’m also missing the coding tools that I enjoy working with during the week. Particularly, I’ve been working on an internal site project and my own iOS apps. With no Mac, I’m not only separated from my code (which is safely backed up via a full Time Machine backup), but I’m also without applications such as Xcode. It’s a time like this that I wish there was some form of Xcode for iOS.

With my day job requiring that loaned Windows PC, I’m still able to perform my day job. The data systems I interface with daily require Internet Explorer, sadly.  So my day job is still intact. But not having access to the little tools, scripts, and tricks that I would use to help me get through my work day is forcing me to make these changes this week.

All isn’t lost. I’m writing this post via mobile Safari, and there are some things that I am hoping to finish writing this week. So my writing ability is still intact. It just feels naked to be without my main system. But it doesn’t mean I can’t still save the world with a kettle and some string. And look at me, I’m wearing a vegetable.

 


  1. Yes, I do have it open on my work PC. However, Windows 7 (and Windows in general) is terrible at making it easy to transition from one app to another without breaking your workflow. I’m constantly distracted by trying to click and click just to see a quick note and come back to where I was at before.  

30 Weekdays of Commits

I’ve got some ideas about what I want 2015 to mean for me. From a professional standpoint, I have some development goals: Refresh and improve my PHP skills, create a couple of sites that I have wanted to create,1 and do more work on a couple of app ideas that I’ve had.

I haven’t had the chance to work with Codeignitor yet. A lot of my PHP history has been procedural instead of object oriented, and I haven’t worked with a framework like Codeignitor. So, that is one goal of mine that’s near the top of my list.

There are also a couple of scripts and processes that I want to provide for both myself and others but need to create some cleaner code for. For instance, I’ve wanted to create a new system to track my timesheet during the week. Thus far, I’ve been tracking it all in Numbers so I can graph the information, see my progression of hours each week, and how many hours I might be ahead/behind. But I’d like something a little more long-term than a spreadsheet plus the capability for more advanced reports.

This is all in addition to the apps I’m working on. I have some updates coming to Countr that I’d like to develop, plus some other app ideas I’m working on for Random Projects.

All-in-all, I’ve got things I can develop. So, I’m glad that I came across Colin Devroe‘s idea for 30 Weekdays of Commits. This is just what I need to get motivated and get back into a heavier coding swing. Starting on Monday, December 22, I’ll be pushing myself to commit code to at least one of the above projects every weekday.2 Who’s joining me?

 


  1. And update my site  

  2. Sorry, most of these will likely be to private repos on Bitbucket.  

Word Count Charts for NaNoWriMo

I was hoping to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. However, due to some priorities, I’ll not be able to do so. I wanted to share these documents, though, in hopes that some might find them useful.

I have tested the chart in Numbers. While I have provided an Excel link, I don’t know how it will work with Excel.

To use, simply update your word count in the “Daily Word Count” column for the proper date. Column “Words Left” shows how many words are left from that date. Column “Amount Ahead/Behind” shows how many words you would need to be ‘on par’ with the goal of 50,000 words for the month. If you’re ahead, it’ll be a negative value (and have a green background).

There’s also a chart at the bottom that shows your overall progress compared to the 50,000 word limit.

I hope you find these useful!

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 9.24.59 PM

Numbers: 

UPDATE: I have removed the Excel link for now. I’ll recreate the file if enough people ask for it. 

Countr, my first app on the App Store

It’s been many months since I last talked about app development. I’m a bit disappointed with myself, personally, and how much I haven’t shared. It’s been a fun experience as I’ve dived into Objective-C, Xcode, and learning how to develop things on my own. Since then, iOS 8 was previewed (and since launched), Swift was introduced as a new programming language, and more APIs and development tool updates have happened across the Apple ecosystem.

Well, I’ll be writing more thoughts about the development process soon. But first, I wanted to talk about the first app I’ve developed through to launch. That is Countr, a simple app to quickly take a count. I had wanted an app to help me take a count when I’m at certain meetings or assemblies. I feel this app does this excellently.

While the app was released in late August, I only just now announced it. Moving to Arizona took up a lot of time. Go figure.

Countr not only helped me learn the development process, but I got a nice overview of the app release process. I’m very grateful for the update to iTunesConnect, which has made it a much more attractive experience when checking on the status of my app.

In upcoming posts, I’ll talk about developing Countr, developing for iOS in general, and some other things that I thought were pretty cool.

I want to thank the few friends that helped beta test Countr before release. I got a lot of good feedback and, while it is a simple app, the others that I’m working on are not as simple. I made sure to use the same process with Countr that I would expect with a larger, complex application. It’s been insightful, and I’m ready to release more apps later this year.

Countr is available for free on the App Store.

My thoughts on multitasking on future iPads

Now that we have seen the new iPhones, my thoughts have started to move ahead to the next likely update: iPads. Typically updated on a yearly cycle, the iPad has continued to receive refinements that continue to perfect the device.

Right now, the iPad lineup is strong with the thin and powerful iPad Air and its smaller sibling, the iPad Mini with Retina. If we’re to make any predictions about what is to come, I think we can safely say the next generation of each of those devices with be iterations on the existing models.1

There’s also something new that is rumored to come with the next iPads (or a future iPad Pro): the option to run two apps side by side. Some have wondered how such a feature could operate. Now, I think I have it figured out.2

On the new iPhone 6, due to the larger screen size, Apple introduced something called “Reachability“. By double-pressing (not clicking) the home button, the top half of the screen moves down to within range of the user’s thumb. This is only possible due to the Touch ID sensor, which can respond simply by a finger being on the home button yet not clicking it.

On an iPhone, this makes sense, as the iPhone originally began as a one-handed device. But what about iPads? They have never been designed for one hand.  The next generation of iPads are rumored to include Touch ID.  Obviously, this could allow for increased security on an Apple, as well as the inclusion of Apple Pay. Could Apple also include a new feature for the double-press interface on the iPad? What could it be? Hmm…


  1. Very rarely does Apple introduce a device and not create an upgraded iteration in the same design.  

  2. Because, obviously, I know these things. Okay, no, I don’t. I’m just guessing. But am I close? I’d love to know!  

Prediction: Apple will hold a spring 2015 event

There aren’t a lot of rumors flying around Apple’s plans for 2015 yet, especially since everyone is busy with iPhone and iPad leaks. But there were two things that I’ve seen that make me think there will be an Apple event sometime this spring.

First, there are the constant rumors about an Apple wearable. Is it ready? Will it launch with a new iPhone? If so, why haven’t we seen any leaks yet? All of those questions keep getting asked each and every week. But because we haven’t seen anything, some feel that we’ll see it launch in early 2015 instead.

But that’s not my main reason for this prediction. Instead, it has to do with Apple’s new Photos app for OS X. Photos for OS X won’t launch until early 2015. I don’t think they would launch something like this without mentioning it at an Apple event, especially as it will replace two big name applications: iPhoto and Aperture.

I expect some kind of event in March/April 2015. Apple will do its usual updates, then talk about software and the Mac, release Photos for OS X, and then go into whatever their main event is about.

A Danger to Liking Everything?

Showing support? Like.

Think something is funny? Like.

Wish your cat looked as funny as that one? Like.

It’s so easy for us to like just about anything and everything on Facebook. Yet, there can be a negative to this, as Adam Oram noted while talking about an article by Mat Honan at Wired:

By reinforcing the Facebook algorithms via likes, you end up begin presented with more of the same. Your Facebook News Feed becomes increasingly niche as you continue to express an interest in the same things through your liking behavior.

As we know, Facebook provides a catered news feed based on what you view and what you like.1 But what will Facebook create for you?

Not only can you create a news feed that interests you, but you can also create one that overwhelms you with information, or one that even can reinforce your bad behavior.

Check out the rest of Adam’s article to read more about the potential impact your likes can have.


  1. How does this algorithm work? Backstrom explained that factors include: how often you interact with a friend, page or public figure; how many likes, shares and comments individual posts have received; how much you have interacted with that kind of post in the past; and whether it’s being hidden and/or reported a lot.” -The Guardian  

“The Apple World, the Android/Samsung World, and the Windows World”

Re/code posted an interview with Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly in which he talked about tablets, computers, and the current tech market. The interview itself is an interesting read, especially to see inside the mind of a CEO whose company has been affected by the global technological shift that we have seen across phones, tablets, and computers over the past few years.

One item that caught my eye was his response to a question about ‘stores within a store’. For a while now, Best Buy has had dedicated areas in their stores for Apple, Samsung, and Windows devices. When asked about those areas, he responded:

What we’ve done is, we’ve made Best Buy the place where customers can discover, understand, these different ecosystems. There’s these giant ecosystems: The Apple world, the Android/Samsung world, the Windows world. And so, for the customers, it’s a very unique opportunity to see it in one place, and in the space of half an hour, to be able to talk to our various specialists, and touch, feel, experience these products.

When it comes to Apple and Microsoft, each has created a very unique and identifiable ecosystem. Interestingly, in his comment, he included Samsung right along with his mention of Android. If you walk into a Best Buy store today, what Android device manufacturer is clearly visible? I’ve only ever seen Samsung with some attention.

I also thought it was an interesting response given how Samsung has come ahead, at least in mindshare, of other Android manufacturers with their devices, including their line of Galaxy devices. For some, when they hear Android, that’s the first thing to come to their minds.

When it comes to operating systems, it very clearly is Apple’s iOS versus Google’s Android. But with the iPhone competing against Samsung’s various Galaxy S phones, it’s easy to see why even Best Buy’s CEO would remark Android’s world as belonging to Samsung.

Spring Cleaning, Tech Style

It’s that time of year where most people go through their homes and clean things up. For me, I’ve felt the need to clean up my tech, too. I don’t mean in a physical way, though that is also important. No, I’m talking about going through all of those extra files and apps that have accumulated over the past year. My goal is to simplify what I’ve got and leave myself with a more clutter-free tech experience that will improve my productivity and help me waste/spend less time on my devices.

Clean Up 

The first thing someone may notice when looking at my iPhone or Mac: I’ve got a few too many apps. I had a bad tendency of grabbing free apps and giving them a test run but not deleting them when I was through. Now, it’s time to clean those up and keep the ones that I still use.

On my Mac, I’ve been using CleanMyMac to help remove unused applications and old data. It’s been a great application that I occasionally run to keep my system clean. It not only removes the .app file but also any data that might be found in ~/Library, too. If I don’t need a certain app anymore, why would I want to keep all of the associated data?

Another big thing I did on my Mac is clean up my desktop. I don’t like a lot of icons cluttering my desktop, so it was about time for me to remove what was there. I’ve now brought it down to one folder that I’ve called “To Sort”. In there, I put the occasion download or screenshot that I don’t have a place for yet (or can’t delete yet). This folder I go through regularly to keep clean. I could probably put it somewhere other than the desktop, but I’ll figure that out later. One folder on the desktop is better than a couple dozen icons.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.12.09 PM
So what if I have a lot of apps? They’re organized!

For my iPhone, I’m trying to limit myself to productivity apps, utilities, and games that I will definitely be opening in the next month. While I do make a few exceptions, I’m trying to trim away the extras that I just don’t need. Anything that remains gets organized in my current system: 1 page of utilities and other non-game apps, sorted by category into folders; 1 or 2 pages of games, sorted by type in folders. If I’m still unsure where to put an app, it sits on my last page, a sort of miscellaneous page that I try to clear out regularly.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.13.40 PM
I’ve got a few games, too

My newest change, though, is using a mostly clean first page. My goal is to limit this page to apps that I use every day. If there are certain actions that I do repeatedly, I’m putting those into LaunchCenterPro, which has its home on my dock. I don’t want to waste time trying to find something that I need; I’d much rather save time and simplify my workflow.1

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.13.14 PM
My much simpler home page

More Cleaning to Come

As I work on my workflow and cleaning up my apps, I’ve got even more to clean up this year.2

First, I’ve got a handful of email accounts. Most are for sites that I used to manage but don’t anymore. I don’t know why I even have some of them still. But I need to take some time and reduce that number of active accounts to just the ones I need.

Second, I’ve got a few websites and services I still run, whether personal like this site or others related to my business, that I need to update and clean up. Those I’ll be systematically going through and updating.

Other things I need to clean up: iPhoto, my Documents and Downloads folders, and (low priority) my contact list.

Got any suggestions for cleaning up your computer or phone this summer? What will you be doing for your spring cleaning? Comment below or tweet me!

 


  1. This is still a work in progress, and my workflow is currently in flux while I create something that works better for me. 

  2. I’ll be talking more about my Mac and iOS workflows in a later post.