¶ Last Minute Watch Thoughts

I've posted very little — if anything — about the Apple Watch. I'm pretty excited for it as I can see some areas it would be useful for me. Admittedly, I hadn't really considered the Watch much until two things happened in the past few months.

  1. My parents bought me a Seiko 5 Automatic watch for Christmas (thanks Mom & Dad!).
  2. I lost my Fitbit One.

I hadn't really worn a watch since around 2004 when I started using a laptop as my main computer. At the time, the watch strap on the watch I wore dug into my wrist as my wrist rested on the laptop while typing. I was in college at the time, and was typing pretty much most of the day every day.

The strap on the Seiko 5 is fabric, and I don't have this problem. It's a simple watch, and I've loved wearing it. I could go on more, but I'll save that for a future article.

Losing my Fitbit has been the biggest impact. Yes, I could go buy another Fitbit. But for kicks and giggles I started using the M8 motion coprocessor in my iPhone 6 to track steps. All this gets recorded into Apple's Health app, which fascinates me. However I am mainly using Pedometer++ to visualize the data. I also still have the Fitbit app tying into the M8 with its MobileTrack function, and I also tied in the Nike+ Fuel app to it to complement my Nike+ Running app.

The experiment with the iPhone 6 for step tracking has been great. And adding the Apple Watch to that as an additional set of sensors for that ecosystem is very enticing.

But I also had a couple thoughts this morning of What If… that would make the Watch even more compelling.


What if the Apple Watch could be used a token of sorts to unlock your Mac when you are near it and lock it when you walk away. I like to think this would work much like how the Watch will work with Apple Pay.

For Apple Pay, you must have the Watch in contact with your skin, and authenticate it with your iPhone. Break the skin contact, and a re-auth will be required.

What if you also had your Watch paired to your Mac, and have to log in with your password once on the Mac to authenticate, and then the Watch serves as a proximity token as long as skin contact is maintained.

It's just a little thought, but I can see that being yet another compelling selling point for the Apple Watch.

¶ Regularly $19.99

Cultured Code makes a fantastic Getting Things Done (GTD) app aptly named Things. I used it myself for a while though I did eventually find OmniFocus to be a better fit for me. That's a story for another time.

Things is a premium app. It runs $9.99 for iPhone, $19.99 for iPad, and $49.99 for Mac.

The prices until Thanksgiving day are free, free, and $34.99, respectively. Why? Because the two iOS apps are Apple's Pick of the Week, and the Mac app is on sale from Cultured Code to celebrate it.

I don't think I have ever seen a $20 app be the Pick of the Week. Seriously, Things is a stellar premium app with a premium price and it is going for free right now. And Apple wants to show off how great of a deal it is by plastering the value on the App Store.

Regularly $19.99.

As someone whose livelihood is sustained by sales of a premium app with a premium price, I am both delighted to see Things receiving this attention and terrified what dropping it to free means for public perception of the value of the app.

It is good that a premium app is being thrust in front of millions of people, letting them know there are high quality apps out there. It is also good for people learn that high quality apps cost a more than a buck.

What gives me hesitance is the app being reduced to the cost of nothing — even temporarily. I worry that people will look at it and think Things should be free. That even though it exudes polish and talent and quality people will come to expect those characteristics in exchange for nothing.

I worry that giving away a premium app reinforces the entitlement many people display towards apps. I worry someday the App Store will be void of fantastic apps because no one was willing to pay for them.

I am left wondering what kind of star ratings will appear for Things once the price returns to being regularly $19.99.

¶ Bigger than bigger

The anticipation before last week's Apple event was at the highest since the 2010 iPad announcement. The hype in the air was palpable, and everyone knew this was going to be a big event.

The event itself was amazing, but it wasn't without its hiccups for the folks watching from home.

The Livestream

As if there wasn't enough hype surrounding the event from the media alone, Apple fanned the flames a bit higher by tossing up a giant countdown to the beginning of the event showcasing a lifestream of the event. In recent years, Apple has done these lifestreams more and more, so I usually dispense with following a couple liveblogs in favor of just catching it live.

This year was a disaster on this front. The lifestream kept crashing, then showing a test image with the media team's schedule. When it did seem to work, you could hardly hear Phil Schiller because of the translator being piped into the same audio stream. Things didn't start coming together until we were well past the iPhone announcement.

Issues with the livestream aside, the event it self was great. Especially if you went and re-watched it later after the proper fit and finish of production quality we know and love was added.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

The first 10-20 minutes of a keynote are usually dedicated to talking about the health of the retail stores and the various other numbers Wall Street is interested in. Not this time. Tim Cook dispensed with the pleasantries and 7 minutes into the show the new iPhones were revealed.

As all the rumors suggested, Apple brought out larger iPhones. 4.7" and 5.5". The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, respectively. The two phones are identical in features in every way except two:

  1. The iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization, instead of just digital stabilization like the iPhone 6.
  2. The iPhone 6 Plus has a nifty landscape mode that is similar to the iPad, where apps like Mail and Messages will have a split column appear.

Pre-orders went live yesterday and I promptly ordered two, one for my wife and one for myself. We both went with the iPhone 6, space gray, 64 GB on Verizon. I was really glad to see the mid-tier price point jump from 32 GB to 64 GB this year. The high end went to 128 GB. I am baffled as to why Apple kept the low end at a paltry 16 GB instead of bumping it to 32 GB.

The one thing I always love the most about a new iPhone is the camera improvements. In that regard, I was bummed that the iPhone 6 did not get the optical image stabilization, but I do not want a 5.5" phone. That is so big you could serve a lunch on it.

Speaking of the iPhone 6 Plus, every non-techy person I have talked to this past week is flat out excited for it, and declared they will be getting the 5.5" phone. I do think the iPhone 6 Plus will prove insanely popular. It turns out people really want a really huge phone. It certainly isn't in my taste, but it is clearly the preferred trend.

And the pre-orders backed that up. The iPhone 6 Plus sold out just about everywhere very quickly. While I do think it likely had more limited quantities than the iPhone 6, I really think it is the preferred device among the masses.

Apple Pay

Another great feature of the new phones is the built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) chip and antenna. NFC is the standard for contactless payments. If you have a credit card with the little pay wave symbol on it and you can just wave it close to the checkout terminal, it is the same technology.

Apple is integrating a new service into the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus called Apple Pay. The idea is that you enter your credit or debit card into Passbook (by taking a picture of it). Apple verifies it is indeed your card. You then see one of these pay wave enabled terminals at a store, and you hold the top of your phone up to it and rest your thumb on the Touch ID sensor. The iPhone authenticates it is you authorizing it to pay, and does the payment.

What is neat about Apple Pay is the security behind it. The merchant never sees your card number, your name, nor your address. Instead, the iPhone generates a one-time payment code, and that is used to reference your card with the bank for the payment. Apple also never sees where your purchase was made, what you bought, or how much you spent.

And if the merchant is ever compromised (think Target and Home Depot in the past year) all the thief gets is the one-time code, not your card info. So you don't have to get your cards re-issued.

And if your phone gets stolen, you can disable it for payments from Find my iPhone on the web or another device. Even if you can't get to that right away, the phone can't authorize a payment without your fingerprint.

All around this seems like a welcome improvement to making secure payments to a system that is rife with insecurity. I mean, come on, when you hand a check or your credit debit card over to someone else for payment, everything needed to make fraudulent transactions is right there printed on the check or card.

Apple Pay also has a component that can be used in-app to make easy payments using Touch ID.

Apple Watch

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I don't have to be typing iWatch for the years to come. Honestly, Apple Watch isn't much better, and it is more to type, but I just thought the iWatch name sounded weird.

Apple's first intentional take at a wearable device comes in the form of a watch. There are three different models, with two sizes each, and 6 different bands (in two sizes each). That makes for quite a few different combinations.

The Apple Watch has a color touchscreen, a single button reminiscent in appearance of the iPhone's sleep/wake button, and a new Digital Crown, which is used for zooming and scrolling depending on context, and as the home button when pressed.

The Apple Watch doesn't do much different from other smart watches already on the market. It tells the time (obviously), displays notifications from your iPhone, allows brief interactions and responses largely using voice, and has some app integration. But it appears to do all of those much better than other attempts at smart watches. The smoothness of interaction is fluid.

One thing the Apple Watch is adding in that I haven't seen a great deal of in other smart watches is the health & fitness aspect. Essentially, it has all the hallmarks of a Fitbit that is enhanced further when paired with your iPhone. I think the fitness aspect will be huge for the Apple Watch.

From a looks department, it is a handsome timepiece. The digital crown really helps to give it the watch look & feel. And it is certainly the best looking smart watch yet. However, to me it does look extremely 1.0. I can't help but be reminded at the drastic difference in aesthetic, style, thickness, and weight between the original iPad and the iPad 2. It was night and day.

I am planning to hold off on the first crack at the Apple Watch and see what Apple does with a second go at it. I am certainly excited by the concept of the Apple Watch, but at the same time I have questions about how yet another device fits in my life.


As is normal with Apple's big Fall event, they close it out with a musical performance. This year was the band U2, who I actually like. I grew up listening to their albums as my parents had them.

After the performance, Tim Cook and Bono had a very rehearsed , sometimes awkward, exchange about U2's upcoming album, and after beating around the bush, announced that the album would be a free gift to every iTunes account holder for through mid-October.

Tim and Bono did a little countdown from 5 and then Tim said that it just went live. Amazingly, for as many technical issues as the livestream had, the album was in my purchase history within a moment and I had it downloaded a moment later.

As odd as the whole exchange on stage was, I have to hand it to Apple for giving away an entire new album to so many people so quickly. It was a pretty neat experience.

Only Apple

This event was simply jam-packed with great announcements. Not one, but two new iPhones, the new iOS 8, a new, secure payment service that looks like it will be fantastic to use, the Apple Watch becoming a reality, and the largest and fastest rollout of a new album in music history.

Tim Cook has said at the close of the last few events "only Apple" could accomplish all that it does. And I think that is incredibly true. Apple makes the hardware, software, and the services that bind all of its products together into a way that makes experiencing technology almost life-enriching. It is because they sweat the details of all those areas that only Apple could pull all this off.

¶ Anticipation

In a few short hours Apple's giant countdown clock will reach zero and Tim Cook and his pals will show us what they have been working on for a while. The buzz around this particular event is palpable. I mean, not only is there the aforementioned countdown clock, but Apple has built a significantly sized building at their event venue. And that venue is the Flint Center, where the original Macintosh was revealed 30 years ago.

Everything about this event is exciting so far. iOS 8 is bringing app extensions and TouchID everywhere. OS X Yosemite is bringing a new look and Continuity with iOS.

New, larger iPhones (yes, plural) are a shoe in at this point. I have a 3D print that a friend of a friend made for me of the 4.7-inch model. While it is still pocketable for me, it does seem a bit too large. My thumb does not travel across the screen area well. I'm reserving judgment until I can use an actual device, though.

Those are the knowns, and they are exciting enough in their own right.

It's the unknowns that are really driving the hype. What is in that structure they are building? Some have suggested it is a mock home to showcase HomeKit enabled devices. The wearable (I refuse to call it an iWatch right now) has enough smoke that there has to be a fire. What will the wearable do? Is it simply a Fitbit replacement, or is it going to tie our other devices a bit closer to our lives?

Whatever is going to happen tomorrow is going to be big. Between the rumors, the venue, and that mysterious building, I'd say whatever happens tomorrow is going to set the stage for Apple for at least the next half decade — or maybe even the next 30 years.

¶ Hopes & Dreams for WWDC 2014

I've been meaning to write up my usual WWDC predictions but have thus far been uninspired to do so. I mean, any self-respecting Apple nerd with a website is supposed to write up their prediction list, right? It's written right there on the membership card.

I've just been distracted lately. My free time has been taken up by kiddo activities, church stuff, homeownership stuff, husband stuff, daddy stuff, stuff stuff, and more stuff.

And let's not forget that I have had a terrible track record for previous prediction lists. So call me a little jaded.

So here I am on eve before the keynote not wanting to write about predictions that will likely be regurgitation of all the rumor blogs, or dead wrong. Or both.

Instead, I am just going to share the hopes of what I'd like to see announced. After all, S stands for hope. So let's go pick some low-hanging fruit from the Apple tree.

iOS 8

Everyone's favorite mobile operating system is due for its annual upgrade. Last year was a big change, at least visually, for iOS. This year I hope to see a lot of refinement to the design and existing feature set.

  • Bake the code before shipping. Let's not repeat the fiasco of constant crashing between 7.0 and 7.1.
  • While I love the overall design direction in iOS 7, there are some areas it could stand to be dialed back a bit.
    • Making navigation buttons just text was a mistake. In iOS 7.1, the Accessibility part of settings added Button Shapes. Unfortunately they are hideous. Apple should take a cue from the the blue outline of the price/open/update button in the App Store. Use that thin blue outline for the button shapes.
    • Flatten that silly, glossy Game Center icon. Or better yet, get rid of the standalone Game Center app. Who actually opens that thing?
    • The "missed" tab in Notification Center makes zero sense. Get rid of that.
  • I really want Apple to bring its A-Game for modernizing its already-existing features.

    • Maps needs an adrenaline shot to the heart. The data is just terrible. A few things (very few) that I have reported issues on have been fixed in my city, but there are entire city blocks and neighborhoods that are mislabeled or even missing. And for some reason, if Apple isn't sure what a street name is, they just label it as O Ave. Now, there is a main road named O St, but there sure seem to be a lot of residential streets in Apple Maps named O Ave.
    • I'd also love to see Siri gets a lot smarter and useful. Google is downright shaming Apple with Google Now inside their iOS apps (and even more on Android phones). I shouldn't need to hold down a button to activate Siri in 2014. I should be able to use a phrase like "Hey Siri" to her it to listen up. Much like "Okay Google" for Google Now or "Xbox" for the Xbox One.

      A friend was telling me today how his Moto X knows he is driving and puts everything into a handsfree mode automatically. When he received a text message, it automatically piped up and told him a new text had come in, and asked if he wanted to listen to it. He didn't have to prompt his phone first.

      Siri has constantly felt like the failed promise of the almost conversational Star Trek computer. Google is getting this right on making the assistant part actually, you know, assist you.

    • Hail Mary Hope: A Siri voice store. I'd gladly pay to have Siri sound like Jarvis from the Iron Man movies.

    • An end to the multitude of modal dialogs asking for permission for everything on the first launch of a new app. I like what iMore came up with in their Privacy Sheet mockup.
    • I'd like Calendar on iOS to get the Travel Time integration that the Mac has. It is incredibly useful information, but not so much on my Mac. This is needed on my iPhone more than anything.


If the rumor mill is to be believed, OS X is now up for the major interface overhaul like iOS received last year. While I really like OS X as is right now, I am entirely open to change. No matter what happens visually, there are a couple things I want OS X to get this year.

  • I adore AirDrop on iOS. It is simple and fantastic and just plain works. OS X's AirDrop has always been…complicated. And the fact that it is not compatible with iOS' AirDrop in any sense is maddening. I'd like to see OS X's AirDrop mimic the simplicity of iOS, and become compatibly with its mobile sibling.
  • Since I went on about Siri ad nauseum earlier, I won't do so again, other than to say why do we not have Siri on OS X yet?
  • Kill Dashboard. It's a relic and hasn't changed much since OS X 10.4 Tiger.
  • But keep things like weather integration, but just toss it in Notification Center for easy access.
  • Break iTunes into smaller apps. Have a Music app that does handles music playback and purchasing. Merge the iOS App Store into the Mac App Store (especially since the MAS is already named App Store). Bring back the iSync name for an app for iOS device management. Make a Videos app to purchase and play your iTunes videos.


Ah, iCloud. So much promise, so many headaches. This list could easily get carried away, but I'm going to keep it to just a few points.

  • More free storage. In 2014, 5GB is paltry. The competition gives a lot more away for free. At the very least give us 5GB per device on our account, instead of 5GB for all of them to share. And give us more bang for the buck on the extra storage options.
  • Fix Photo Stream. I don't know how to do it, but do it. It is one of the most confusing aspects of iCloud as a service today.
  • Help me to trust iCloud sync by making it easier for developers to support it. Right now it is a black box to developers that they are supposed to trust. That's fine and dandy until it breaks and my data ends up hosed, and developers don't know what happened. Transparency is key here.

Whew, that really did feel like an airing of grievances, but it isn't without merit. Apple's hardware has remained top notch, but there are many aspects of their software and services where things have languished. I think a lot of this is the rigidity of the once-a-year updates. That is an incredibly long time for software, but even longer for services like iCloud.

In a dozen hours we'll see what Apple's engineers have been laboring over. I'm super excited, and can't wait to see if some of the above items come true.

¶ iPad Second

In the early days of iOS app development, there was one screen size to worry about. A simple 3.5-inch screen at 320x240 pixels. The retina display in the iPhone 4 was the first added complexity to designing iOS apps, as the resolution doubled to 640x480 pixels, but stayed at that 3.5-inch screen.

The original iPad is what really shook things up. A much larger screen at 9.7-inches, and a different aspect ratio with 1024x768 pixels. While an existing iPhone app could be run on it, it wasn't pretty. Apple's solution was to have either apps that ran only on the iPad, or to have what they called universal apps, where the iPhone and iPad interfaces were bundled into a single app.

This was a great opportunity for app makers to reimagine their apps for a new class of device, however, those who wanted to be first to the iPad only had weeks to completely redesign their apps for a device they had not yet held.

Everything was experimental.

Naturally, this was a little risky for app makers. I recall many of my favorite apps coming to iPad as separate apps from their iPhone counterparts. It made sense, as no one knew whether the iPad would be a runaway success1, or if would be derided as "just a giant iPhone."2

As time has gone on and the iPad has found its place in the world, many apps that had separate releases for iPhone and iPad released major updates as universal apps.

There were inevitably some apps which targeted the iPad first. There is even a site dedicated to celebrating apps that ship for iPad first, though it doesn't appear to have been updated recently. One app that comes to the forefront of my mind is iA Writer. The iPad app shipped first, and an iPhone interface was added later.

These days I can't say I see too many apps debuting as iPad first. Most are universal at launch, or start out on the iPhone first.

What is more interesting to me is not the initial launch, but rather the order in which features are added. For the rest of this article, I want to focus on universal apps.

I prefer universal apps. I switch between my iPhone and iPad constantly, however the mood or situation strikes me. One thing I enjoy is that when an app is universal, it is simply there for me no matter which of the two devices I pick up. This leaves me with a certain expectation that the feature set between the iPad version and iPhone version of a universal app should be pretty on par.

Unfortunately that rarely seems to be the case. Too often these days I see universal apps gain new features and designs and layouts on the iPhone first, and the iPad side of it just lags behind.

Let's call out some apps that do this. Twitter is one of the biggest offenders. They consistently roll out new features to the iPhone first, and maybe someday bring them to the iPad side. I've seen Twitter drastically overhaul the interface of the iPhone before, and leave the iPad interface to languish for months.

Facebook is another one. They usually roll out design and feature updates to iPhone first, and iPad sometime later.

Even some apps I love dearly do this. Day One, as much as it pains me to say, has done this. They will roll out a feature on iPhone, then bring it to iPad. Thankfully, they are usually quick to bring things back into feature parity, but sometimes I'd rather just wait a couple extra weeks for a truly complete update to a universal app, rather than a staggered rollout.

I don't think this practice would bother me so much if the app in question were not universal. To me, universal does not just convey that I pay once to install on both device types. It conveys that the two interfaces should be maintained in parity.

Apps that have done this right the past couple years have been Twitterrific, Paprika, Byword, 1Password 3, and others. These apps continually release feature parity as universal apps across the two interfaces, without feeling like the iPad version is "just a bigger version of the iPhone".

I am delighted that many smaller development companies sweat the details to make sure their universal apps always feel universal in every way. My fear, though, is that some of the bigger companies like Twitter and Facebook are setting a trend where the iPad is an afterthought for universal apps, and that the iPad will become a second class citizen in app development, instead of a joint-heir with the iPhone.

  1. Spoiler alert: It was.

  2. That happened, too.

  3. Disclosure: I work for AgileBits.

¶ Making Things "Right"

I have long been a fan of Realmac Software and many of their various apps over the years. They are a fantastic company and some of the most talented developers and designers in the Mac & iOS industry.

But man, do they sometimes make some strange decisions.

For context, late last year Realmac released a new version of their to-do list app, Clear. This new version brought with it an iPad interface and a few other enhancements. They released it not as an update to the existing Clear, but as a whole new app, and they were charging money for the upgrade.

I, personally, fully support this approach. Businesses need money to survive, and making great apps is not cheap. I have absolutely no qualms for paying for a great upgrade to a great app. I am even okay with paying full price for it.

That seems to be Apple's preferred approach for app makers to take in the App Store. They did it themselves with the latest major upgrade to Logic. New app, full price.1

But, it appears that I am in the minority here. Presumably Realmac felt a pretty hefty backlash with the new version of Clear. So, they updated the old app with the enhancements they had made to the iPhone side of things, left out the iPad stuff, and put the old one back on the App Store. Then they made the new app known as Clear+, and its draw was that it has an iPad interface.

I honestly thought they should have weathered the storm and stuck to their guns, and it all would have died down eventually, but, I saw this as a fair compromise, as well. Existing users of the original Clear aren't left out in the water, and those who wanted an iPad version could pay for the new app.

But the drama didn't end there. I guess users still were not satiated, and today Realmac backpedaled. A lot.

They released updates to Clear and Clear+. The Clear update made it completely like Clear+, iPad interface and all. The Clear+ update made provided a way to go back to Clear if the user wasn't using iCloud sync. And it sounds like Clear+ is riding off into the sunset.

Realmac says they are making things right. The users who supported them with Clear and Clear+ paid twice to get shuffled around over a couple months. The users who complained get a freebie.

I'm not sure I agree that was the right move.

I really don't care about the money. It was a few bucks, and I love the folks at Realmac. I'm happy to support them.

What I take issue with is that for great developers to keep making great things, it is obvious that free updates forever is unsustainable. Apple is not going to give developers a way to give previous users a discount, that is abundantly clear. 2 And Apple led the way by example with a major Pro app of theirs. That example was to release a new app and charge money. Simple.

And Realmac seemed to be on board with that, as well as many other developers. It will be rough to train the pricing model that has been used for years out of people. And I don't think it will take long if many developers charge for major upgrades. People will realize the new world order of the App Store.

All that this backstep with Clear has accomplished is reinforcing the entitled folks who complain the loudest and longest that they can guilt developers out of a livelihood.

  1. And quite frankly, software is pretty much the only industry I know of that does upgrade pricing. I've never been given a discount on a TV because I owned a previous model.

  2. No pun intended.

¶ My First Mac

My first Mac was technically not my own. It was my parents', but it belonged to the family. The year was 1990. I was 5 years old. The Macintosh Classic was its name. It sported a 9-inch grayscale screen at 512 x 342 pixels, a 40 MB hard drive, and 1.44 MB diskette drive. It was the first Mac to cost less than $1,000.

Yeah, baby.

I was enamored with it. It seemed light years ahead of the black screen and green text IBMs my school had. I could play Wheel of Fortune on it. By far my favorite thing to do was to open AppleWorks and make a new drawing document and begin using a digital canvas to create a city with that big clunky mouse. Then I'd select this tool that looked like a tornado to send pixels flying!1

That little Mac was the beginning of my love for technology. When my folks upgraded to a Power Macintosh 7100 a few years later, the Internet was also just gaining traction with the public. My folks were always early adopters, and so we of course had the Internet.2 I remember adding USB to the Power Mac, upgrading the processor to a G3 processor from Sonnet, and how lightning fast it felt when we switched out the 14.4k modem for a 28.8k.

We got a full decade out of that machine with all the upgrades, and it likely could have gone more.

Then came the eMac I got for college. This was truly my first Mac. I quickly found out that a 50-pound behemoth was not ideal at college in 2003. This was my first experience with OS X. I hopped on the bus with 10.2 Jaguar, and 10.3 Panther was released just a couple months later. Safari was at version 1.0, and I haven't changed my default browser since. I used the eMac my freshman year, then it went to my parents to replace the old Power Mac.

My sophomore year I went with the 14-inch iBook G4. I used this through most of college and wrote many papers on it.

My senior year I treated myself to the black MacBook while I still had an education discount. That thing was lovely. I still kind of miss it, as it just looked fantastic. I would love for Apple to make a black space gray MacBook Air.

A few years later I got the first unibody MacBook Pro, 15-inch. This felt like a dream computer. It had real horsepower and was the fastest & thinnest computer I had used yet.

And, just about a year ago, I went to the MacBook Air. The Air is just plain fantastic. It's fast, it's battery lasts ages, and it is light. When you want to close up and go, you can do just that.

The Mac has been a significant part of my life for the past 23 years. It sparked the curiosity of a young boy and challenged me to learn more throughout the years. And these days it is integral to my way of life, not only in how I accomplish my own goals, but also to how I am able to provide for my family. Right now, I simply could not do what I do without the Mac.

Happy 30th birthday, Mac. Here's to many more.

  1. And they were pretty big pixels when you think about it!

  2. "You’ve got mail!"

¶ The Nest Acquisition

A few weeks after moving into our first house last summer, my wife and I bought a Nest thermostat and installed it. It…didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped. In fact, it wasn't working right at all.

I had done my homework, too. I had checked and re-checked Nest's compatibility guide, and I even called in to their support, talked to a rep for a bit, and he even had me email him a picture of our current sucky thermostat and the wiring, and gave the green light that Nest was 100% compatible. So I made the order on Amazon and 48 hours later UPS dropped the box off at my front door.

It was super easy to install, but it just wasn't operating correctly. Another call to Nest, a few more pictures of the wiring, and two levels of support later, I had a workaround solution of putting certain wires into differnt terminals on the Nest, and the support rep told me Nest was going to set up a certified tech to come out on their dime and make sure it works right.

Two days later a guy from a local company that was Nest certified came out, and started testing the Nest and my HVAC system. Everything should have been working, so he investigated deeper. Turns out there was a fault in the wiring between the HVAC system and the Nest. The tech pulled out the bad wiring and ran brand new wiring through my basement's suspended ceiling and up the main floor wall.

This was not a problem with the Nest thermostat at all, but Nest footed the bill to make sure it worked. I never found out how much the job costs, but Nest paid it all. I have to imagine it was either close to, or surpassed the $250 I spent on the Nest.

This is right up there in my top 3 best customer support experiences ever. It solidified my love for Nest as a product and as a company.

Fast forward to three days ago when Nest founder Tony Fadell announced Google's acquisition of Nest. When I read it, my heart sank a little. I used to love Google, and for some things, I still think they do an exceptionally great job. But Google got a little weird when their romance with Apple took a turn. Their "don't be evil" moniker started to feel hypocritical in some aspects.

Then Google+ happened, and they became so obsessed with promoting their new social network that they became downright creepy about all the data they have on each person that uses Google services.

So here I have a service that I used to love that went mad with power, and a product/service that I love that just sold out.

Rock, meet hard place.

I have friends seriously considering ripping their Nest off their wall over the news. Let's face it, Google doesn't have the greatest reputation anymore, at least with nerds.

Will I be removing my Nest Thermostat? Not yet. It did cross my mind, though. As silly as it is when folks snark that Google now has the ability to know when you are home, when you're not, what temp you prefer, and the movements you make you're asleep — well, it sounds silly, but I can also see that totally being a reality.

I'm just not ready to give up my Nest yet, especially since there isn't a comparable product to replace it yet. But I'll be keeping an eye on it, since it isn't all that impossible that it may be keeping an eye on me. 1

  1. Funny side story: I named my Nest HAL when I installed it. Seems a little apt, now.

¶ Frequency

Back in the day when iPhone OS iOS was still fairly new, we received a fair amount of frequent updates. Not just bug fixes, but feature updates. There would be the March or April preview of a new version of iOS, a June or July release shortly after WWDC, one or two bug fix updates right away, and the big x.1 release with some new feature or significant improvement in the fall when the iPods were updated.

If my memory serves correctly, this trend continued through iOS 4. I remember iOS 4.1 brought HDR images to the Camera app on the iPhone 4. And of course iOS 4.2 brought AirPlay and unified the iPad and iPhone/iPod version numbering. And iOS 4.3 brought better AirPlay, Personal Hotspot on the iPhone 4, and iTunes Home Sharing.

One important thing to remember is we received these fairly frequent updates in a time before delta updates and over-the-air. These were big features and steady bug fix releases that required to to cable to your computer and download the entirety of iOS all over again like a barbarian.

Then iOS 5 came out and brought those delta and over-the-air updates. I thought for sure we'd see even more frequent releases — at least for the bug fixes — now that they could easily be pushed to everyone and would take far less bandwidth.

I was wrong. More or less, the x.1 releases (5.1 and 6.1) were essentially bug fix releases with little to no new features. And we haven't been seeing x.2 releases.

It has seemed these past two years that Apple has done the one big iOS release, and goes a long way between even fixing bugs in it.

One thing I am hoping for in iOS 7, since it is such a drastic change, is that we'll see Apple quicken the pace of improving iOS. I don't want frequent updates and fixes and possibly a new feature here or there for the sake of frequency, but rather to keep Apple on its toes and in the game.

One big release per year may work fine, but keeping the improvements coming between the big releases helps to keep things feeling fresh. I can't imagine Apple implemented these delta and over-the-air updates to just download a gargantuan file once a year and then a couple things here or there in between. That whole system feels like it was made for keeping iOS fresh and at its best.

iOS 7 is a new beginning for just about every aspect of iOS. Refining the details through frequent updates is an old beginning that I hope becomes new again.