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Best Buy vs. The Apple Store

Jason Fried at Signal v. Noise:

But in the last few years, the stores have really turned me off. I don’t like stepping into them. They don’t make me feel welcome — rather they make me feel like I need a good reason to be there. Of course I have a reason to be there, but I don’t like the fact that I have to declare it upon entry.

At the door you’re often met by a bouncer who asks you what you need and then directs you here or there. “Please wait by that table over there for a guy with glasses and a blue shirt.” And so you go, awkwardly waiting. Not sure if you can leave your station, lest you miss your opportunity to talk to who you were directed to talk to. Then what?

I find the stores packed with so much Apple staff that you often have to break up a conversation between two staff members in order to ask a question. Now I feel like I’m interrupting someone just to buy something.

This is the second time I’m hearing complains about the Apple Store experience in the past few weeks. Previously Casey Liss on ATP #197 made some other remarks about the whole shopping experience at Apple.

His point was about the lack of a separate checkout area, as in you can’t line up in an obvious, well, line to pay for something. This results in a random crowd waiting for someone to serve you.

Sure, the Apple Store app in certain circumstances can make that experience easier, but that’s not always an option.1And you feel like a thief the first few times using it and „just walking out” with a thing.

Sometimes the lack of friction will add more friction somewhere else. Apple removed the dedicated checkout areas and the wait in a line, but what you get in return is an uncomfortable feeling while waiting for a person to finish helping someone else.

References

References
1 And you feel like a thief the first few times using it and „just walking out” with a thing.
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An oral history of ‘Get a Mac’

Douglas Quenqua at Campaign US:

To mark the 10-year anniversary, Campaign US asked members of the creative team, the crew and the actors to share the untold stories of how the campaign came to life. What follows is their recollections—inconsistencies, errors, biases and all—lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Remember the ads with the „dorky PC” and „hipster Mac”? Here’s some compiled history how it all came to be. Can’t believe it’s been more than 10 years since they first aired (2006 – 2009).

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Alto’s Odyssey is coming in 2017

Can’t wait!

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Milking the iPhone

Neil Cybart at Above Avalon:

It feels like cracks are forming at Apple’s edges. The company is straining to push out hardware updates. Supply issues are getting worse. Apple is reportedly moving away from selling beloved products like stand-alone displays and wireless routers. Meanwhile, Microsoft, Amazon, and Snap are gaining buzz with new niche hardware while Apple appears to be hanging back and resting on its laurels.

Something feels off with Apple, and the blame is increasingly pointed at Tim Cook. I suspect these feelings are a result of Cook betting now is the time to milk the iPhone. Apple is doubling down on the iPhone to build one of the world’s most formidable tech ecosystems, and few are taking notice.

Keep reading.

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Apple is sorry about your iCloud spam, and working on a fix

Apple’s statement about the recent increase of iCloud calendar spam to Rene Ritchie:

We are sorry that some of our users are receiving spam calendar invitations. We are actively working to address this issue by identifying and blocking suspicious senders and spam in the invites being sent.

https://twitter.com/reneritchie/status/804081476904042496

Not sure “identifying and blocking suspicious senders and spam in the invites” is enough to get rid of this problem. The whole idea of being able to freely send calendar invites to anyone with an email address – or abuse Apples iCloud Photo Sharing – is frightening. I’m actually surprised it took the spammers this long to finally find this opening.

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San Francisco Subway Hackers Now Threaten to Publicly Dump Data

Joseph Cox for Motherboard:

Over the weekend, riders of San Francisco’s municipal transit system (Muni) were allowed to travel for free because hackers had infected subway computers with ransomware. According to CSO Online, the attackers have demanded some $73,000 worth of bitcoin.

Now, the hackers have made a new threat: the release of 30GB of databases and documents belonging to the San Francisco Muni, including contracts and employee data, if they don’t receive payment.

https://twitter.com/josephfcox/status/803356374398857216

Update: According to SF Gate Muni fixed their systems and are back up running without even communicating with the attackers.

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Apple Needs to Clean Up the Mac App Store

Justin Pot for How-To Geek:

Last year we outlined how the Windows Store was a cesspool of scams, a problem Microsoft has since been tackling. Apple, for their part, is making an effort to alleviate fake applications for iPhone and iPad users: the iOS App Store is currently being purged of outdated and broken applications.

But anyone who browses the Mac App Store regularly knows that this platform needs cleaning out too. Seemingly official applications of dubious value are way to easy to accidentally find by searching. It’s understandable that Apple wants the App Store to appear full, but leaving things seemingly designed to deceive people is hardly an answer.

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The new MacBook Pro is kind of great for hackers

Adam Geitgey:

A million hot takes have been posted about how the late-2016 MacBook Pro with USB-C is the undeniable proof that Apple doesn’t care about developers anymore. They took away all the ports! No Esc key! It’s just a more expensive MacBook Air!

But in some ways, the new MacBook Pro is the most techy and expandable laptop Apple has ever made. They are trusting their pro users to wade into murky USB-C waters in search of the holy grail of a universal, open standard for moving data and power between devices.

I’m not here to change your mind about the MacBook Pro. Yes, it’s probably too expensive and more RAM is better than less RAM. But everyone posting complaints without actually using a MBP for a few weeks is missing out on all the clever things you can do because it is built on USB-C. Over the past week or two with a new MacBook Pro (15in, 2.9ghz, TouchBar), I’ve been constantly surprised with how USB-C makes new things possible. It’s a kind of a hacker’s dream.

I personally don’t mind the choice of Apple going USB-C only either. The 2016 MacBook Pro is the best computer I’ve owned to date. But, yes, I’ve had that moment when I realized “Oh, wait, this doesn’t plug in natively anymore.” It was my YubiKey (Yubico is currently planning to release USB-C versions).

Once you get the usual cords as native USB-C versions, e.g. USB-C to micro USB, there are no dongles necessary anymore. Of course, for some devices, like mice or keyboards, you’ll have to go with a 10-Dollar-dongle until you eventually replace the device.

I began looking for USB-C accessories a while ago, ever since Apple started adding the ports to devices like the MacBook – or even Apple TV. For example when choosing a portable battery pack, I chose one that also had a USB-C port. It’s well-known that Apple doesn’t have any issues killing off ports of any sort no matter how old or how prevalent they are.

This brings me to one of the beauties of USB-C: It’s no longer a proprietary port like MagSafe was. Anyone can now make a power source for the MacBooks. Adhere to the USB standard and provide enough power and you’ll be able to power your device. You can now charge your MacBook from an external battery and don’t have through some weird hoops that were there for charging via MagSafe. For the record: Yes, I miss the break-away nature of MagSafe, but I bet there will be magnetic adapters that provide enough power to even the 15″ MacBook Pro.

I also wonder how many people actually plug things – besides the charger – into their computers these days. When I look around the co-working space I work at some may plug in an external display – with provided dongles that adapt from HDMI (or Mini DisplayPort on newer Macs/PCs) to the VGA/DVI port these older displays use. Aside from that it’s maybe a mouse or keyboard, but that’s about it.

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Sal Soghoian leaves Apple

The macOS Automation Sites:

Q. I hear you no longer work for Apple; is that true?

A. Correct. I joined Apple in January of 1997, almost twenty years ago, because of my profound belief that “the power of the computer should reside in the hands of the one using it.” That credo remains my truth to this day. Recently, I was informed that my position as Product Manager of Automation Technologies was eliminated for business reasons. Consequently, I am no longer employed by Apple Inc. But, I still believe my credo to be as true today as ever.

Q. What are you going to do?

A. Effective December 1, I will be considering opportunities and available for consulting. In the meantime, sign up to receive User Automation news, and I will keep you posted.

A sad day.

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Linkblog

Stop Twitter from destroying your links

Rene Ritchie on iMore:

If you use Tweetbot on the Mac, and Safari is your default web browser, clicking on a Twitter link—which the company insists on shortening to t.co—can result in errors, hangs, and general misery. Luckily, there’s a workaround that can help make the process seamless again.