Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back to Mac 2010 Predictions

Since the hacks are putting out really lame predictions for the Apple's October 2010 'Back to Mac' event, I'll give a few good ones (in no particular order):

Mac
  • eSATA - atleast Mac Pro's should get this, preferably the entire lineup (perhaps the laptops will not get them for a longtime or ever). But desktops should. 3 Gbps (and 6 Gbps later) is pretty useful for backups and transfer of large files to external harddisks.
Lion / Mac OS X 10.7
  • FaceTime + iChat (fairly obvious, also FaceTime API for others)
  • Apple TV / FrontRow update - make FrontRow on Mac's run just like the new Apple TV.
Others:
  • Less sharp laptop edges! All Mac laptops have really sharp edges where the hands rest on the keyboard and it hurts after a while. Be nice to get them slightly curved.
  • Black MacBook Pro. The white and aluminium are nice, but the black one was very cool.
  • 7 inch iPad is also very welcome. Beware, I may get a manpurse if this happens, or really baggy jeans atleast.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Product Design

I'll continue to write about this over time as a way to jot my thoughts on product design as a way to learn and improve myself in this area.

Design Rants (easy to do, I'll try to be constructive also)
  • Phones Handsets/Cradles
Everybody's got the new fancy VoIP phones with a jillion features. The main complaint is how the handset sits on the cradle. In the old timey phones you can close your eyes and just place it on the cradle, or you can slam it, and the baby will stay in there. Also the old timey cradles were horizontal so you didn't have to turn your wrist in an unnatural way, the new timey ones are 'vertical'. In the new shamncy phones its like a ballet to place the handset back: if you don't delicately place it in the right way... the damn thing will fall off (done it way too many times!). Plus you can't slam it after an annoying person calls you. If you slam, the whole phone goes flying because the cradle is on the right or left edge! And your IT guy's not going to be happy about that either.
  • Car Keyfobs
Please just make it of a shape that I can hold properly and not drop it. Not round or oblong things, but cylindrical or narrow things that can be easily gripped by fingers and held in the palm.
  • Software (there's just too much in there... lets wait a while)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sales Tax on Unbundled Price of iPhone 4

Most people who tried to check for the iPhone 4 upgrade eligibility must have seen the following message : "In CA, MA, and RI, sales tax is collected on the unbundled price of iPhone."

It means that you have to pay a 9.75% (in CA) sales tax on the unbundled price of iPhone 4 ($599 for 16GB version) even though you'll be paying only the $199 upgrade fee. That is $57.xx instead of $19.xx.

The reason given is that the state of California should not lose sales tax revenue because the actual price is $599 and AT&T is subsidizing $400 of the price that it will make up by having us pay the monthly service charges.

Fair enough. But consumers also pay a sales tax (among other things) on the service taxes! Seems like double taxation.

Any better ideas, explanation...
  • and why are CA, MA and RI the only ones?).
  • What if I (as a CA consumer) purchased my iPhone 4 from an Apple store in Arizona? Would they pull up my ATT record (which they will to verify credit & eligibility) and ask me to pay the extra/CA sales taxes? Don't think they can because the sales tax would have to go to AZ. They can't split it and say $19 goes to AZ and the rest to CA!

Monday, February 22, 2010

iPad

A few thoughts:
  • The positioning of the device between a mobile/smartphone and PC, and better at music, video, web,... are key to explaining its intended usage. Thinking of it as a bigger version of iPhone/iPod Touch is too simplifying. The experience of a larger touch screen in reading and watching video is enormous. That said, it still feels primarily like a "media consumption" device. The creation parts will depend on well developed custom apps like iWork.
  • The iPad keynote did not show a more than a few seconds of editing or typing. For a lot of potential users, the iPad is likely to replace their notepad/folio where they take meeting notes, jot down thoughts, make lists etc. So ability type fast and comfortably will be key. And the true test for this will come during the in-store tests. I know a few people who are aching to do so!
  • Women, large man purse carriers and those with messenger bags will love the ability to whip it out and quickly look up something (what time's my flight, check a map, read a document or book...). Ofcourse, you can do all of this with an iPhone/iPod Touch, its just better now.
  • Apple should really think a way to physically secure it to the owner. If not a Kensington slot, something else to attach a lanyard (or Velcro strap) that can be wrapped around the wrist or tied somewhere (don't know if you want to hang 1.5 lbs from your neck). I am always paranoid about dropping my iPhone or having it swiped away in crowed places. Same will happen with the iPad. Imagine dropping your sleek $800 iPad on a pavement.
Other thoughts:
  • If the iPad were a little smaller in XY size you could almost wear it on one hand's palm with a strap and use it with the other hand! The first commercial wearable computer.
  • Industry specific usage, like healthcare, sales, insurance, and any mobile work environment, is going to be enormous. And, when can I get this integrated into my car's entertainment console?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Look Under the Hood of Tesla Motors

Re: A Look Under the Hood of Tesla Motors

I remember when the Tesla was first unveiled in 2006, I ran (drove) to the Petersen Museum to see a prototype in person, and it was gorgeous.

Regarding the NYTimes blogpost, Tesla does not have other income sources it is much more committed to creating and selling electric cars sooner than the big companies which can take their time to do so. It is a matter of survival for Tesla. Ultimately their success will depend on their (and partners') ability to make the technology leaps and their management ability.

As such the giants also have learned to deal with such disruptive innovation by creating launching new vehicles (BMW MiniE, Nissan Leaf...), but not separate groups/divisions/companies that deal with all electrics while being aligned with the market. And the giants target the mainstream/existing usage market right from outset, while Tesla and others will start with specialty markets (like sports cars, golf carts...) that allow the technology to develop while giving themselves cashflow to survive and establish position (standard disruptive innovation theory you can say).

But it has taken a lot of time for Tesla to sell more of their Roadsters and the giants seem to be catching up a little - but they are still going for the mainstream market where the technology is atleast 3 to 5 years away from being mature for regular usage. The mainstream usage technology may not be ready for a while and it will be interesting to see how long the giants continue their "investment". It may give one of the all electric companies an equal or better chance of beating the existing giants or just vanish!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Air Travel Sucks! Trains Rule!

Why air travel sucks:
  • Airports are damned far away. Planes are noisy and so usually outside or far from cities. So travel by car, metro/subway, bicycle... takes time, especially during the morning rush hour (I just missed an 8:50am flight even though I started 2 hours earlier from home [which means I woke up at 6am]- so I shall complain!).
  • You have to arrive atleast 40 minutes in advance or they will not issue you a boarding pass because you may not clear security in time. (once they give you a boarding pass they have to wait a few minutes past departure time if you don't board - I believe).
  • Severe restrictions in the number and size of luggage. (I sometimes have 2-3 laptops and you will hate me when you're behind me in the line. I know of someone who flys every week and has a metal plate in his knee/jaw/somewhere... he has spent more time flapping his arms in a single year than a normal human does in their lifetime).
  • The security rules on what you can/cannot bring are always changing or are different in every country/airport so even seasoned travelers can be caught off guard. Take your shoes off, don't take 'em off; no lighters, but matches are ok; remove belts, don't remove belts; only 1 carry on allowed, including purses & laptop bags (come on Luton... you can't be serious), or $25-50 for an extra bag (go to a different queue to pay for that if you didn't in advance - 'thanks Easyjet, you make it real easy')... I am almost in favor of the full body scanners where they can see everything over/under your clothes/skin/bones. There is little privacy anywhere, everybody's beach photo's are online, young people wear skimpy clothes anyway... 'why so serious' about this?
  • Road warrior, not! Plus a lot of passengers are casual travelers so they don't know the rules and at 7am in the morning everyone is going to be stupid . 'madam, take your jacket off'; Lady: 'huh?'; 'put the toiletries in a clear x ounce bag' (I really pity the guy/gal who has to repeat this a 1000 times everyday and still be vigilant); 'put your laptop in the tray, put the shoes separately'; 'don't put the jacket on top'...
  • For a 1 hour flight, here's the total time spent: 1 hour of driving to airport + 1 hour in checkin/security + 1 hour flight duration + 30 mins to collect bags + 1 hour driving away from airport = 4.5 hours. Talk about efficiency!
  • Congested seating... its not that airlines are now like buses, they are worse! If you are a premier/gold member (thank you Austin Powers)... you get 5 extra inches! or pay $50 for that privilege. 3rd class has just been re-introduced!
  • Germ factories... 100's of people in a confined space: breathing, sneezing, touching, kissing... for hours. Have fun CDC! (and perhaps Joe Biden was right atleast about airplanes... hard to stand those who put on no deodorant and those who put on 2 liters of their favorite eau de toilette - just do the literal translation)
  • Crappy service. Budget airlines have proliferated and lowered the rates and services. So for business travelers at small to medium companies (which have way more employees than the F500 biggies) there is no choice... since everyone is trying to save, the dept admin will book your travel on the cheapest one. And crews at budget or traditional airlines, with some exceptions, are just tired of unruly/rude passengers, nearing retirement, hate their job, dream of days gone by...
  • "Please switch off your electronic devices... we are going to take off/on/up/down/sideways...". Has any of this been proven with scientific testing... or we've decided to just bore everyone? Shutting down communications is welcome (during the entire flight), but why can't I listen to my iPod, watch video or read my Kindle ebook or write an email (offline)?
  • Disgusting food or whatever it is. Almost everyone has no free food (fine, no problem), but the ones that sell you food... what am I paying for? (Air Canada sells 6" Subway sandwiches for $5. When someone opens a 2 hour old sandwich like that... there are going to be sick people).
  • I've got plenty more... but am preserving my fingers for the next section.
Why trains (like in Europe and parts of east coast US?) are awesome!
  • Show up 5 minutes before departure! Yeah, it only saves 55 minutes in the morning... but at that time of the day every second counts.
  • The train station is in the city and connected to the local train/subway station! Sweet! Takes only 30-40 minutes to get there. They have a park-n-ride or bike stand (good luck at the airport) and other options as well.
  • Full-sized bathroom!
  • Cafeteria/bistro/dining car! Wow... decent food, real espresso... freedom of movement!
  • No body searches you! And nobody needs to see what toiletries you you use.
  • Bring as much luggage as you can lift/push around! Nobody's stopping you.
  • Walk around... jump around, sleep... play music, video...work whatever you like!
  • Stretch your legs in a real human sized seat!
  • If the train is late: just sit around & relax, eat a banana, read a book... (If a plane is late you sit on the floor near the gate with a million people cursing or worse on a cramped airplane).
  • I could go on... but this is a first draft.
Anyone else with opinions on this?
Someday when I have more time to waste than this post... I'd like to survey which one of the above is the most hated thing about air travel. I can't blame Michael O'Leary for trying to run a profitable business, but no thanks... ('yeah, Mr. Expense Report Checker... that's 50 cents for 1 visit to the loo', 'What? You want a receipt?' BTW: lots of train stations in Europe charge for using the loo) I don't object to flying his particular airline or any particular company mentioned in this post/rant or even charging for toilets (just put it on my tab when I buy the beer). I just object to flying until they fix this mess (and please bag OBL meanwhile, someone).

Anyway, this is more of a rant than a blog post. But it's time someone fixed this mess.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Paris + WiFi = Free

Here's the Google Map of all the 260+ accesspoints:
(And the above website has loads of information on what else to do in Paris, with some information available in the English version of the website as well).

And here's how to signon :

Ok, if you needed help with that... here's the Google Translate output on the useful part:
1. Identify signage Paris Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi logo Paris
This indicates that you are in the area (of) an oasis Paris Wi-Fi
2. Turn on your Wi-Fi equipment
3. Select the Orange network.
4. Start your regular internet browser and type any website address (eg http://www.paris.fr).
5. Select your pass Paris wi-fi 2h offered by the City of Paris and the Ile de France
6. Now you can surf freely on the Internet, send and receive emails, and all this without needing to be connected in any way!