Tag Archives: Apple

Bing does Halloween Right

Bing Halloween 2017

Everyone knows I am a big fan of Microsoft. I always have been, even when their products were of questionable quality; what can I say, I like the company. But now, their products are masterfully designed and fully capable, a pleasure to use. Never mind they come with pricing to match, something that was once the sole domain of Apple (as were those other qualities, ahem).

Even so, I am not here to extol the virtues of Microsoft’s products or even software. No, I am here to compliment their masterwork on one of their services that, sadly, is often targeted for derision: Bing. Fan I am of Microsoft, and user of Bing, the fact is it simply doesn’t provide strong results when I do a search. It will give me results that are ten years old, not relevant to what I’m asking, or just plain bizarre. I’m no fan of Google, but I will say they do search better. So you’ll understand my elation when I can finally give Bing high praise for easily blowing Google out of the water at something search related.

Well not search related per se, but more their search¬†page. This year, for Halloween 2017, Bing absolutely nails what a Halloween page should be, and destroys Google’s feeble video in the process. Score one for Bing! Their (almost) fully interactive homepage shows living portraits hanging on a staircase wall, and most of them have, shall we say, a unique personality when you click on them. You can view the page at any time of year by following this link,¬†however if for whatever valid reason you have an aversion to Bing, you can also see it in the video below. Well done Bing! The fact you do Halloween right makes up for all the ineffective searches I’ve done with you over the prior year.

(I tried to research how specifically this page was created but found nothing. Probably because I searched on Bing. Still, I love the page, and I’ll always be a fan, Microsoft!).

Microsoft and Apple face harsh realities

microsoft-apple

It hasn’t been a good week for Microsoft or Apple, and difficult decisions will have to be made at both companies. I suspect Microsoft’s will be more difficult, but neither is off the hook.

First, Microsoft: Layoffs at the company are rare, with a one-time layoff of 5,000 employees back in 2009 the first major staff reduction the company had ever seen. With their renewed push into mobile, however, and the heavily-questioned acquisition of Finnish smartphone maker Nokia, as well as the appointment of new CEO Satya Nadella, layoffs are not as rare as they once were.

The new trailer for “Steve Jobs” is here.

Steve Jobs

There is yet another movie being released that is purported to tell the story of industry luminary Steve Jobs. Aptly titled “Steve Jobs,” it seems to tell the story we all know and love: He was a driven dreamer, with perhaps less-than-stellar people skills, who luckily had some help along the way to forming one of the most important technology companies ever.

There have been other movies made about him. There was “Pirates of Silicon Valley” which I enjoyed greatly, although it was more about Steve Jobs *and* Bill Gates. of course, Bill Gates was never part of Silicon Valley, but you get the idea. This movie is probably the best one out there, and is highly regarded, but there was also the 2013 release “Jobs.” This movie was not well-received, however I thought it was very good. Never mind that Ashton Kutcher is a dead-ringer for 70s-era Steve Jobs, and although I’m no connoisseur I felt his acting was fine, but the story, at least the parts it told, were accurate and it showed the rise and leveling-out of both Steve jobs and the company he helped found.

Jobs v. Gates: Go!

As a (virtual) card-carrying member of the Computer History Museum, I love anything that involves the history of technology or computing. Imagine my glee when I discovered the National geographic Channel has created a mini-series called “American Genius,” which focuses on famous rivalries throughout history. It also has a fantastic webpage you should really click over.

There are more than you might think: The series includes such rivalries as firearms manufacturers Colt and Wesson and publishers Hearst and Pulitzer. But the one I am most interested in is the one between computer luminaries Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

All the new Apple stuff

So now we know. The new Apple watch and MacBook – that’s right, just MacBook – have been officially announced at an Apple event a yesterday in San Francisco.

iWatch

The High End

The High End

The iWatch is clearly aimed at people who want a fashion statement as much as it is those who want a digital assistant, made even more evident by their 12-page advertisement spread in Vogue magazine.

The watch will come in two sizes, 38 and 42mm, and will cost from $349 for the more ‘sporty’ version, while people who have more disposable income can opt for the aluminum-band $1,049 version, or you can spec out an 18 karat gold version for $17,000. Hey, I don’t fault people for being rich or spending their money however they want.

It also provides iWatch-to-iWatch communication so you can send information between them directly, will interface with the Apple App Store, offers many different watch faces which I think is pretty cool, it has a sapphire crystal over the face (which is not unbreakable, just want to clear that up) and two buttons, one of which is a dial, and the face can recognize two different pressures. It can track physical measures, play music, the features just go on and on. It can even unlock your hotel door.

Techwise, it will use MagSafe charging in which you snap the watch against a magnetic plate and the watch charges. it uses Apple’s custom S1 system-on-a-chip, in fact the iWatch is the chip’s debut.

It’s an intriguing device, and with the installed and loyal iPhone base, will the iWatch take off? I honestly don’t know, but it has a lot of neat features and I wouldn’t be surprised.

MacBook

Silver and gold, silver and gold

Silver and gold, silver and gold

The MacBook was received a little less enthusiastically, mainly because of its single expansion port and price. It’s thin – very thin at 13mm max, you could slice a tomato with the edge of the thing – but has only a single USB type C port. It comes with a 16:10 Retina display, and uses Intel’s Core M (Broadwell architecture). It won’t be a powerhouse, but it should be pretty good. Feedback has been mixed on the new butterfly switches the keyboard will use, and the ‘taptic’ trackpad. We’ll have to see how it works out.

Oh, and it comes in gold, to match your $10,000 iWatch. Surprisingly enough, I like the finish.

Pre-orders start next month, so get your money ready!

Apple is worth a whole lot

On Tuesday, Apple became the first company ever to be valued at $700 billion, a number so big I can hardly process it.

As this post over on Fortune.com explains, that value was reached thanks to their share price reaching $122.02, which is then multiplied by the number of shares outstanding to reach total market capitalization. And that capitalization destroys even the companies who follow behind; The next highest market capitalization is Exxon/Mobil at $382 billion.

Apple posts best quarter ever, for anyone

It turns out that Apple recorded it’s best sales quarter in company history in the fourth quarter of last year. They sold 74.5 million iPhones during that quarter, significantly more than the estimated 66 million that was estimated.

That’s a profit increase of 37% to $18 billion. According to CNet they sold 46 percent more iDevices than their record-setting device sales from this time last year, and as CNN Money points out, “That’s larger than Gazprom’s $16.2 billion profit during the first quarter of 2011 — the previous profit record posted by a corporation.”

That’s good news for Apple, setting the largest quarterly profit of any company ever, and with the iWatch shipping in April that could be an additional boon for the company. On the other hand, the iWatch starts at $350, and will require – from what I can tell – an iPhone to operate. That will either be good for them, tempting all those new iPhone owners to invest in the watch, or it could be a downside if it requires tethering to the iPhone.

Apple_Watch

Additionally, you want as many people as possible to become tied to your ecosystem, which is the associated services your platform ties in to; In Apple’s case it would be things like iCloud and iTunes, because that makes it more difficult to leave the phone and the platform, even if you want to. With all of those sales and the upcoming release of the iWatch, they’re well on their way.

This all puts Microsoft’s good news in perspective.

It’s Cyber Monday

This is a weird Black Friday/Cyber Monday year for me. Usually the big tech companies have rolled out one or two things that make me say “I have to have that.” Last year it was the Surface Pro 2, which also made me the first customer at Fashion Show’s Microsoft Store. This year, however, for the first time in I can’t remember how long, there just isn’t anything that moves me or make me say “One, please” (If anyone finds sticks of 8GB Corsair Vengeance 1866Mhz dual-channel RAM on sale, let me know. That stuff never goes on sale. Get it together, Corsair! I need more RAM!).

There are smart watches and tablets and PCs and 4K UHD TVs and all sorts of fun things that will make your life better, easier, and make you a better person. 4K TVs, especially, are expected (by some) to be a big hit. They’re all great devices and I love to see the forward march of technology, but this year I’m happy with my status quo. Especially with the final nail in plasma’s coffin having been delivered earlier this year, I’ll hold on to my plasma ’til the end; you can pry it out of my cold, dead hands!

Ebay Lunacy

After the retro-ish post yesterday, I was inspired to see what was available on Ebay from the days of computing’s past. I was instantly reminded why I rarely buy vintage computer stuff on Ebay.

I used to, and once in the bluest of blue moons still do, but I would like to draw your attention to a few auctions that exemplify why I pulled away from it long ago.

It used to be that you could find fun vintage tech stuff on Ebay: Osborne luggables, IBM Convertibles, Northstars, all sorts of great stuff could be rummaged up.

Not any more.

I found one auction, the first one below, that so absurd in its price it spawned this whole post, but I decided to dig deeper and see what else was priced so ridiculously that my eyes would widen even further in disbelief. I arranged the auctions by price from highest to lowest, and I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, I was supremely disappointed.

Talk about an Apple premium!

Way, WAY back in the day I had an Apple IIe, and I loved it. So much so that I still have it, as well as a few other vintage Apples including a Power Mac, a Mac Classic, IIc, and the very rare Bell & Howell black Apple IIe. Here’s a picture of the Power Mac and the Bell & Howell in my garage, along with some additional Apple floppy drives and an old AT&T PC just visible on the right for good measure.

You can smell the vintage

You can smell the vintage

But I always wanted to get my hands on one of the original motherboards designed by Steve Wozniak in the Cupertino garage at the home of Steve Jobs’ parents, which, by the way, is right down the street from where I (and they) went to high school, and just up the street from where I grew up.