Thursday, April 23, 2020

Should It Be Tim Cook Or Apple As A Company Be Applauded For Its Social Programs, And Would Apple Have Been So Generous If It Was not Apple or With Tim Cook As CEO

I was listening to a podcast today that focused on Apple and Apple products.  One of the hosts described Apple as being courageous in the face of the social and political pressures it had faced over the last three years both from the Trump administration, China's totalitarian regime, and others to today's pandemic raging through the world.  I wondered to myself if the host should have applauded Tim Cook himself or Apple.  There is no doubt that a vast majority of Apple employees share Tim Cook's social and political views.  So much of the employees agrees with Tim's actions and his positions.  And certainly, it has also helped that Tim Cook made many Apple employees very rich during his years as CEO and, hopefully, for many more years to come.

Still, I want to examine this question further:  Tim Cook the man is responsible for all the accolades that Apple has been showered with or should others in the company also share in it as well?  Think for a bit.  Okay, back?  It may not be just one or the other.  As with anything today, there is a scale with Tim Cook on one side and Apple on the other.  And I suspect who deserves the most credit is somewhere in the middle.  

Perhaps in the early part of Tim Cook's years as CEO, he lead the charge with many changes within Apple as a company.  And he had cleaned house during those years.  I don't need to go back and rehash all that.  And Tim Cook, while he appears to be a nice guy, was as certain as Steve Jobs was in that his vision for Apple be carried out.  There were a few rough quarters even as Tim has grown Apple during that time. Today, Apple is the most valuable company in the world that isn't a state backed entity.  All Tim's vision.  

If Tim Cook did not so openly share his political and social views and believe that Apple as a corporation not only have a responsibility to its shareholders but also a responsibility to the society in general, would Apple still be seen as a successful forwarding looking company that is also trying to change the world?  

I think Tim Cook deserved to be seen as the person who made it possible for Apple and other corporations to become more vocal in voicing opinions that in the past corporate boards would stay away from and doing something about it.  And that in turn has paved the way for its employees to more openly support similar efforts.  Okay, mostly liberal and left leaning positions but that is debate for another someone else to take up.

Whatever your political position, President Trump has declared himself a war president and companies like Apple have responded in kind - tens of millions of N95 masks donated, ventilators shipped to hospitals, and Apple even designed face shields for front line healthcare workers.  Apple and others are doing the right thing.  

Tim Cook's Apple, including himself, has stepped up during the world's time of needs.  

Perhaps, the host is right - Apple is to be applauded for its efforts.  After all, this is now Tim Cook's Apple.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Apple Watch and Ten Thousand Steps - Custom Metrics

Who here have not gotten started with a pedometer and than eventually graduating to a Fitbit or an Apple Watch to count the number of steps they’ve walked per day, probably with trying to hit the daily goal of 10,000 steps per day? And if you haven’t, you probably know someone who has a wearable device that counts the steps the wearer walks per day.  As an Apple Watch user, I would like to see Apple allow custom metrics in addition to the three circles many of us try to close on a daily basis.  And one of these metrics is the goal of hitting a specific number of active steps per day.

The calories ring means nothing to me.  Getting up 10 times a day is important to some folks who sit at a desk all day but for someone like me, who does sit at a desk all day, and I get up and move around 15 to 18 times a day, I rather have an alternative goal - instead of the standing metrics, I like Apple to give users an additional circle to close or to replace one of the circles with a set of other metrics. 

Maybe one of them can how many minutes of breathing you do (there is an app on the Apple Watch called Breath.  I find that to be a very useful app that I use through the day.  I rather have the steps goal as a metrics of my choice.  

Now, believe me when I tell you that the steps metrics is practiced almost like a religion among us who practice and live by it.  Why 10,000 Steps?  Probably social media. Or before that, it was what people tell each other or was told by someone at a gym.  Even before that?  Well, I would like to believe that it came from a bonafide medial study but it probably didn’t.  No one knows for sure but it might have originated from a Japanese pedometer in the 1960s that figured 10,000 in Japanese sounds pretty awesome and has cultural meaning.  

The adequate and minimum number of steps each person has to take varies.  It depends on the person, age, sex, diet, and the level of physical activity.  A friend has been doing 10K a day for more than 10 years.  Another friend practices months at a time, abandons it, and then picks it up again later and still came out to about 11K a day.  For me, as you can see from the screen shot I took from my phone, I averaged about 11.5K in 2019 and is almost 800 steps more a day in 2020 so far.  I found that I need to do an average of 12K a day to maintain or lose a pound here or there.  

On a personal level, hitting that 12K or more a day is uplifting.  And seeing my average go up as a result means more to me than standing on a scale trying to see where I am.  So, that why I guess Apple Watch wearers really try to close those three rings.  

If Apple wants to keep those three rings as they are now, fine.  But I would like to see an extra ring added for a customizable metrics.  

What do you think?  I think this is more feasible to do in the short run with a better return than wishing for the Apple Watch to have a week long battery life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Your Phone or Tablet Breaks While Trying To Survive This Pandemic

Source: Slate.

You're at home. You're also a cord-cutter.  You might have other human contact in the form of a spouse or family.  Or perhaps roommate.  Your only connection to the outside world is your iPhone, Android device, or tablet.  You're doing fine provided that your Internet connection stays stable.  Then the unexpected and unfortunate thing happens:  your mobile device dies on you.  Maybe it just gave out or the screen gets broken.

Now what?

First, I feel for you. I'm sure this is not that common but it is not as uncommon as we expect.  The Slate post is about a man whose iPad screen cracked during California's statewide stay-at-home order.  He could not exactly head out to the nearest Apple store or the local mall repair kiosk right now.  Not next week or next month.  Not for a while.  We have no idea when stores or malls will reopen.  And when it does, you can expected there to be a lot of distancing policies and restrictions on the number of customers who can visit.  

So, while you can get still your devices repaired, like sending it in to have Apple, Best Buy, or a third party repair company fix whatever issue is ailing your iPhone, iPad, or Android device, I would certainly not call it convenient.  I find a quoted 5-day turnaround to be pretty fast but it is still 5 days without your link to the world.  Maybe you have a TV.  Maybe not.  I did not have a TV for years after mine broke.  

For a lot of people, their phones are all they have.  And not use getting news but what if your phone or tablet what you're using to stream music and video to help you or your family pass the time?  Your devices becomes all the more indispensable.   

If it has already happened, sorry to hear about it.  Again, I feel for you.  For others, perhaps now is the time to do what you can you protect your mobile device.  - get a case it a good start.  And if you can, get a screen protector.  Those are absolute musts at this time.  

An alternative is to get a cheap device as a backup or to replace your broken one.  You can get a tablet these days for less than $100.  Phones as well.  Not an iPhone or high-end Android device like the Pixel or the Galaxy but if it connects to the Internet, it's all you need to get by.  And there are third party sites that offer older generation or refurbished devices at a reasonable price.  My iPhone SE is a refub as is my laptop.  

But do it while you can.  

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Tim Cook and Apple Stepping Up: Twenty Million Masks (And Counting) and One Million Face Shields A Week

The Tim Cook led Apple is filling the role of the federal and state governments as the pandemic crisis is weeks from peaking.  Apple has sourced and delivered over twenty million medical masks and just announced today, Apple has delivered face shields to Kaiser and will be delivering up to a million more per week.

As an Apple fan, I cannot help but be proud of this iconic American company.  

I don't know what the cost to Apple is at this point and while I like to say that cost is not the issue here and it's stop the coronavirus pandemic at all cost, Apple definitely has taken the cost into account.  And while it's not much given Apple's bottom-line each day, month, quarter, and year, the good will Apple has built cannot be priced.  No matter what, Apple and other companies and a vast major of us on Main Street believes we will come out of this stronger.  

There have been a void in leadership at the top in the US, other countries, and international health organizations, it's good to see that we have other leader who will step up.

iPhone SE: 2020 Version Is A Welcome Upgrade But I'm Sticking With My Original One

It looks like it is pretty much confirmed that Apple is release an updated iPhone SE in the iPhone 8 form factor. Gone will be the iPhone 8 immediately if not by the end of the next main iPhone upgrade cycle later this fall.  Now, Apple should be commended for still giving the smaller iPhone form an upgrade, certainly, we can definitely kiss the older iPhone 5 form factor good bye.  The question for most iPhone SE holdouts is if the new 2020 version is enough of an upgrade despite being a bigger phone for them to give up their current devices.

For me, not so much.  I have been using the iPhone SE since it came out in 2016.  I have gone through different ones since then.  I'm currently on my third iPhone SE.  Each time, I changed it not because it broke or the fault of the device itself.  Rather, I "upgraded" each time because I wanted more storage.  I went from 32 GB to 64 GB and eventually to the 128 GB silver version that I am using on a daily basis.  And while the processor and camera seem dated by today's standard, the SE works well enough and the photos are not that bad even by today's standard when you compare the quality to the midrange iPhones.  It does not have 2X zoom or whatever the new features on the XR and iPhone 11 have like better night photos, the daily photos I take are good enough. 

You cannot have an article about the SE without mentioning the size.  This is the main reason why the iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, and iPhone SE form is so popular and why the current SE continues to have a dedicated fan base.  Want to by one now? You'll have to time it right on third party websites for a new or refurbished unit of the choice you want. My silver 128 GB iPhone SE took almost six months of stalking a website that bought and sold old phones before they had one that works with my network.

iPhone SE - 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inch
iPhone 8/SE (2020) - 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inch

As you can see, the numbers show that there is a difference in the sizes between two phone sizes. Imagine using it with one hand. If you have the XR, Pro, or even just the regular iPhone 8, I would wager a vast majority of you cannot use it with one hand.  That's fine. We adjust and will adapt just like I will have to eventually. 

I am not some zealot for the 4" form factor.  I just like that the SE is light and easy to use with one hand for quick peaks at weather updates and messages.  And though dated by today's standard, the iPhone SE from 2016 is great for 90% of my mobile computing needs - emails, messaging, keeping up with the day's tweets and news, and some light gaming.  I use it as my main audio media player - music, podcasts, and audiobooks.  And if I need more, I'll go to my iPad mini.  And when I need even more computing power, I go to the MacBook just as I have been doing while I am working at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Any maybe it is the pandemic and having to stay at home for days speaking, but I am beginning to be much more appreciative of what I have.  And it was only four weeks ago when I was still out walking in a museum in West LA and walking the grounds of the Huntington Library. And all I had was the the photos and videos from my iPhone SE.

I'll upgrade eventually.  I don't know what I'll get when the time comes because it will depend on what Apple is offering at the time on the market.  For folks who will complain about Apple abandoning the 4" screen, let me say this.  I understand why Apple did it and why the vast majority of the market has also moved on.  The use of mobile devices has grown and changed since 2016.  Everything is bigger and faster and devices are more complicated because they can do so much more. 

The 4" form may not be enough for Apple to design an iPhone that can adequately work with the demands of today's needs.  Mobile warriors like myself are expecting our devices to do more than what we expected 4-5 years ago. 

But who knows what the future really holds.  Maybe someone at Apple will figure out how to bring back the 4" screen and it will release the iPhone V (Vintage) along side the SE, XR, and the Pro.  Okay, that'll never happen. Know this as a fact:  enjoy the Touch ID on the iPhone SE 2020 while you can.  That will be away someone day.  And the next SE may have a full screen using only Face ID as its main security apparatus.   

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Working From Home: Was Not 100% Ready

To start, I'm as productive as I have ever been and as productive as I can be compared to two weeks ago when I was working at my company's office.  In fact, I think I managed to get much more done in a shorter amount of time.  However, it has not translate to me "getting off work" at 3PM instead of 5:30 PM like I normally do.  The main reason is that I was not ready for working from home. 

Internet Connection:

First off, you are only as productive as your Internet connection.  And while my Internet connection, courtesy of Comcast (yeah, yeah, I know...), is up a majority of the time, the speed is kind "meh".  When I am doing mindless Excel calculations or setting up a new sheet, there isn't a whole lot of thinking that needs to be done.  So I like to have something play in the background - video from Netflix or one of my science fiction shows.  But that could slow things down at times if my wife is also streaming her own stuff, well, it's hit and miss.  Oh, did I mention that we have security cameras as well?  

All I can say is that it's 2020.  I got my first non-analog Internet connection in 1999 via DSL.  It's been 20 years.  I expect a minimum speed with 99.99% up time for the connection. I'm supposed to be 100 Mbps for what I paid for.  I'd be happy to pay the same amount per month at 50 Mbps if the connection doesn't drop and I don't have to reset the modem every other day.


I have a 2016 Macbook. A 2019 iPad Mini.  iPhone SE and XR.  I'm crunching Excel sheets with around thirty thousand lines and the formulas that took me a long time to set up that are linked to other sheets.  So I have multiple sheets open along with a browser, Outlook, the native Mail app, and the Messages open.  There are lags between switching apps at times and Excel not working when it's "thinking".  It's like that on my Windows 10 PC at work as well but it is faster with the work PC.  

At the time when I got the MacBook, I had not anticipated that I would use it as a work laptop.  I expected to be using for writing and simple content creation, and learning to code.  And if there was work that I need to do for my company, I thought I could use  iWork or use the online Microsoft Office apps.  I even thought I could use the mobile version of Office  as well.  Alas, iWork does not have all the tools I need.  Nor does the mobile or online version of Office.  Microsoft really should have called those versions "Office Lite".

If I had known that I would be using my personal laptop for work, I would have been more careful about the MacBook that end up getting.  Prior to my MacBook, I had a 2013 MacBook Pro.  I would have to be more careful about which Mac I get in the future.  However, who knows what Apple's road map is going to be in a couple of years.  There are rumors that Apple could move away from the Intel chips and use chips that it designed like the ones that power the iPhones and iPads.  I would except those Macs to be pretty juiced up to at least the same level of processing power as the ones powered by Intel.  

But that's a question and decision for another day.  I anticipate working at home for another month with the safer-at-home order being extended and will likely be extended in California through at least early May and my company being very adamant about keeping us at home.  After that, I may not feel that my MacBook being underpowered once I return to working from my office.  


I can work anywhere.  I'm one of those people.  I have something I need to get done today, I'll find a way to get it done.  I'm kinda Jack Bauer about it in that sense.  my mind starts running in different directions until I find a path that will get me there.  It's nothing special.  I'm sure most people are like that if you think about it.  We all manage, right?  Work, home, life.  All those things combine to make our lives interesting.

So, I can work on my bed, living room, backyard, or sitting on my steps outside my building.  Currently, we are working on the dining table.  We squished our laptops together, a small lamp for an ambiance, a couple of plants, a humidifier, iPad, an USB hub, and our phones.  And lots and lots of wire.  As I mentioned above, I have something playing in the background at times.  So, if it's something my wife probably would not listen to, I have a cheap Bluetooth earpiece that pipes the sound from the video or podcast or music through it.


Nah.  I was not ready at all.  Ideally, one I was given the instruction to work from home, I should have been ready from the start, right?  I have had to go into the office twice a week the first two weeks.  And once last week.  That's five times.  I would rather not go in at all.  I probably will not go in starting next week.  I still had to go in and get files.  When I did go in, I was working on transferring files to the cloud or scanning docs that I needed or thought I needed.  

This is very valuable lesson I learned as far as being mobile, not just working from home.  Before the pandemic, we were making plans to travel more.  We took a few short trips last year but nothing like being away from the office for the whole week.  And my iPad mini was up to the task.  Did not even think about bringing my MacBook.  

Bottomline - I was fine if I had to be away from the office for a few days.  But working from home never crossed my mind.  I pride myself in thinking ahead a lot of the time.  When it came to this, I really did not anticipate it.  I would not chastise myself and conclude that I dropped the ball but I certainly have learned from this experience.

All in all, I manage to get what I need done most of the time and my productivity has been up.  If work said that I could work from home forever, I would be very happy to do just that.  

MacBook Air M2 - I Love It And Any Laptop You Get Will Always Be Right For the Time

The 2016 MacBook sitting off to the side still has some value as I gleefully starting using my MacBook Air M2 that I got for a decent price ...