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Would You Type Business Email On Your iPhone?

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Apple, Mobile Devices | Posted on 28-02-2008


Several web sites today are reporting that Apple is gearing up for a business release of sorts for the iPhone and possibly competing with the RIM or Windows Mobile and direct push.  So here is the question.  Would you type business email on your iPhone?

I don’t own an iPhone but I have a good friend who has one and every time someone picks up my Blackjack II phone to admire it he suddenly jumps in and exclaims, “Baaaaa, you don’t need that low level brick!  Get a real phone!”.  He then whips out his iPhone (which actually weighs more than my phone) and continues into a rant about his iPhone.  By the way, this same friend is also known to have a new disease I have identified as “Political Tourettes Syndrome”.  Just the mention of a Republican candidate will drive him to insanity.  He’ll start foaming at the mouth and start shouting anything he can think of.    Anyway.

I propose this question today because I have played with his iPhone numerous times.  I like gadgets just like the next geek but my problem with the iPhone is I can’t type on it.  One day sitting in the bar we raced sending a text message.  I finished way faster, basically he never even got off the starting line before I finished.  I have never benchmarked myself typing on my phone but using the iPhone numerous times I feel I have to resort to chicken pecking. 

If Apple is really trying to enter the market place with their iPhone will users adopt it that have to respond to email or will they keep their Blackberry or Windows Mobile device?  I’m sure some will struggle through it regardless but will the real hard core power users who rely on email heavily be able to stand the non-existent non-feedback keyboard on the iPhone.  What do you think?

I’m Too Poor To Afford Apple So Stop Telling Me To Buy One Before I Go Postal

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Apple | Posted on 14-02-2008


image In 2001, or maybe it was 2000 2002 I purchased my first Apple computer. I bought a Powerbook 15inch with the G4 867MHz processor. Some of you know the model I refer to or even have seen me with it before in the past.  Not long after I purchased the Powerbook I got the wife an iBook 12inch notebook.  She got a lot of use out of it but it started showing its age.  Honestly the machine got to be so slow I couldn’t even stand to help her with her problems.  Remember the commercial about the Slowsky’s that like DSL over Comcast because it is slower?  Well they would have loved this machine.

Which One?  Apple or PC?

For several weeks I shopped for her a new notebook.   Quicken Loans offers a nice perk whereby team members can get a $1500 computer loan that is auto-deducted from our paycheck.  Since my last computer loan was paid off last January, and the computer I built myself a few years ago is still working very well I decided to upgrade the wife’s aging notebook.  Call it a “back to school” gift before she started teaching college again for the fall semester.

My wife is a creature of habit and hates change.  She’d rather hobble along than get something new.  This is a blessing and a curse.  When I first got her the iBook she hated it.  She didn’t understand it, couldn’t use it and wanted Windows back.   Since she didn’t have a choice she eventually accepted it and moved on but it took years for her to stop saying she wanted Windows back.  Now that I am looking for her a new computer she of course is used to the Mac so wants to keep the Mac (creature of habit).  To make her happy I started looking at what Apple had to offer and was extremely disappointed in their prices compared to PCs.  I first pulled up the choices for the MacBook and here is what I saw.


So for my $1500 and some change I could get at 13inch notebook with 1GB of memory and 160GB hard drive.  I wasn’t very thrilled spending all of the money on one thing and not getting her a new scanner which she also wanted.  A day or so later I was in Circuit City for something and decided to hit the computer aisle.  Browsing around I found an HP 17inch notebook model Pavilion dv9548us with the following specs:


  • 2.4Ghz
  • 2GB
  • 200GB – 2 x 100GB hard drives (nice, data in one, operating system in another)
  • DVD / CD Burner with Lightscribe
  • Finger scan authentication
  • 17inch XGA display
  • 512MB Video
  • Built-in TV Tuner for Media Center
  • HDMI outputs
  • Built-in video conferencing camera (which we use while I travel)

There were other features on the notebook but you get the idea, this thing was a beast of a notebook.  It is a true desktop replacement and with a 17inch screen my wife could finally stop squinting when she used the computer.

A day or so later I got a Circuit City ad and the notebook was on sale for $1199.00.  No mail in rebates or anything, just flat bottom price.  I took her to Circuit City to look at it and she was very impressed with all the features and loved the fact she could get a new scanner, wireless keyboard and mouse and carrying case all within the budget so we bough it on site.

At the end of the day we got a much better computer for her than we could have gotten from Apple.  I’m sorry Apple I just can’t afford your high priced hardware no matter how shiny you try to make it.  It is amazing that HP can sell the same components put together at such a drastic cost. 

How The Hardware Industry Works

I don’t know how much everyone knows about tier 1 manufacturers but I used to run a hardware company (one day I’ll write a book about all the things I have done) and when it boils down to it, the tier 1 manufactures don’t really pay that much for Windows as some might think.  HP is an example of a tier 1 manufacturer as is Dell so those of you trying to calculate the cost to build this HP laptop without Windows, trust me, HP isn’t paying that much for Windows.

Mom and Pop shops or local PC builders are the ones that really don’t get a discount on Windows.  To be “legit” and not get their doors closed by selling illegal copies (yet another story I’ll tell about one day) of Windows they must buy their copies from distributors like Tech Data or Ingram Micro.  These distributors sell items based on volume so if for example you are a local PC shop trying to build computers you might pay $189 for Windows yet you are supposed to sell it to the end user for $199.  Obviously there is no money to be made in the operating system so you make it up in the hardware, service, warranties, upgrades, etc.  However, with a tier 1 manufacturer like HP that has direct connections to the suppliers like Samsung, Seagate, Microsoft, Western Digital, etc, they have a lot more weight to throw around.  Think about it.  Would you rather loose the Mom and Pop local PC store as a customer or HP?  Pretty simple eh?  What keeps the local PC builder in business is the low cost of PC parts.  The low cost in parts off sets the cost of having to pay more for Windows and still makes them competitive for the most part.  If you don’t believe me, look around at the developer machines on blogs that are built that only cost $1500 that would completely rival any Apple desktop costing $3000 or other manufacturers. 

Any tier 1 manufacturer if they want to can squish a local builder though.  It is just fact.  If you don’t believe me, go to Best Buy or Circuit City and try to build out that computer that comes with a monitor, printer and scanner for $299 after rebate.  There are some deals out there in the PC market because of the competition.  This is why Apple can put whatever ridiculous price they want on their hardware, they don’t have any competition.

This is the #1 reason Apple has no thought or care to allow OSX to run on standard PC hardware, they would be out of business because of the cut throat PC business.  Trust me I know, I left it years ago because of this fact.  For those “new Apple fans” that keep telling me to buy an Apple at every corner Apple has already tried this.  Years ago there was a company called Power Computing  that built Apple clones.  If you wanted to buy an Apple, more than likely it was going to be a Power Computing built clone.  They were in local stores, catalogs and online.  The crazy thing is they built better and cheaper computers than Apple and when Steve Jobs took over he squashed them.  Don’t believe me?  Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

Power Computing released upgraded models until 1997 with revenues reaching $400 million a year. The Mac clone business was killed after Steve Jobs returned as interim CEO of Apple in July of 1997. In September, Apple bought Power Computing for $100 million in Apple stock and shuttered the Mac cloning business.

And then to top it off with a cherry:

“Apple has to let go of this ghost and invent the future, Mr. Jobs said. Instead of expanding the share of the market that used computers based on the Macintosh system, the decision to license clones simply ate into Apple’s own sales of hardware, he said.[3]

Why Apple doesn’t reflect the true market value of hardware costs I have no idea. I have known for years they were overcharging people and obviously some people are willing to pay for that extra price because they feel they have something other people don’t. And to that accord they would be right, they are in the top 10% of the world, or the bottom 10% depending on how you look at it which means 1 in 10 people they come in contact with doesn’t own one. I think that makes the Apple owner feel somewhat special and feel good like “hey you should buy one too”.  And believe me out of the hundred people I know, the 9% that own one tell me every day I should buy one in one comment or another.  If I get told to buy another Apple I’m going postal!

Honestly when you break the parts down at the manufacturer level, Apple is making no less than 50% margin, maybe 40% which is a ridiculous markup compared to what Dell, HP and other places are making  but hey, people are paying the Apple tax. God bless ’em, I’m too poor to afford one.

Make no mistake about it, Apple loves their markup. So much in fact they have a monopoly.  Wait, didn’t people say Microsoft had a monopoly and sue them years ago?  Hmm, maybe I should start a class action law suit demanding the freedom to run the OSX operating on any hardware I want.  If any lawyers read this contact me, I’m in.

Stop Before You Respond

For those of you Apple fan boys that are about to start going on and on about OSX and how great it is, my wife could honestly care less.  She sits down at her computer to just work, that’s it.  She doesn’t play in iPhoto, iMovie, iCalendar, i this and i that.  She doesn’t have an iLife, she has an rLife (real life).  She writes email, does word processing, uses Powerpoint and during Christmas shops online for my presents.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  Thus, stop before you even start to write, I’m not listening, but if you want to buy her iBook or my Powerbook email me.  I’ll gladly part with both of them for a very large some of money (well, they are Apple’s right?).

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Visual Studio for Windows vs XCode for Mac OS X

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in .Net, Apple, Programming | Posted on 31-10-2007


The other day I was playing on my aging Powerbook and thought I’d investigate writing applications on Mac OS X using XCode.  I tried several years ago but honestly after reading some documentation on Apple’s web site I wasn’t any better off than when I started.  Instead of going the documentation route which didn’t work I thought I would try a different approach.  Today we have something we didn’t have years ago that is a lot better than documentation and that is called videos.  They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words.  Well a video is worth that times 1,000.  I jumped over to http://www.youtube.com hoping someone had put up a simple tutorial on how to build a sample application using Objective-C/Cocoa and XCode (Apple’s IDE).  My first search hit the jackpot.

The video I found created a sample Mac OS X application with a button on it that when pressed made a noise.  I expected the video to be a few minutes long but it was close to six minutes long.  Hmm, could it take that long to create a button and make the computer beep?   I watched the video and while I was watching it, my jaw was on the floor at the number of steps the developer had to go through for something as simple as creating a form and making the computer beep when the button on the form was pressed.  There were windows here, windows there, jumping around here and then to there, dragging lines from one window to another and more.  No WONDER I couldn’t figure this out by reading documentation!  For the record, XCode is developed by the same company that everyone praises for being the poster child of usability.

After I watched the video I was like, man, this is horrible and I am really glad I don’t write OS X applications.    I also thought to myself that I could do that same tutorial using .Net and Visual Studio and with A LOT less steps.  I decided to put up or shut up so here is what I did.  I created a video that does the same thing the XCode video does and uploaded it to YouTube.  You can watch both videos below.  I’ve been saying for years Apple doesn’t do anything to provide developers, especially those in the enterprise, a rich programming environment and I think the comparison in these videos drives this point home.   Enjoy!

XCode Tutorial


Visual Studio Tutorial

LiveBooks Tells Customers to Not Upgrade Mac OS X Leopard

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Apple | Posted on 31-10-2007


I just bumped into a LiveBooks support letter that tells their customers to not upgrade to Mac OS X Leopard.  Is it Apple FUD?  I don’t know, but it is there for all to read and form your own opinion.  What is Apple’s market share now?  5-6% market share?  We see these same type of articles when Microsoft releases a new operating system telling or discouraging users to wait for the first service pack.  Heck I’ve known people that won’t even touch a 1.0 version of a Microsoft product.   It seems the same type of things are now being said on the Apple side of the fence now.  This is the first time I’ve really seen a lot of noise around an Apple OS release.  Usually when a new version of Windows is released the first thing everyone has is driver problems.  I haven’t seen much noise around that from the Apple camp, mostly around incompatibilities or Apple leaving software out the community wanted.

Another thing that is coming full circle are blue screens of death.  Apparently third party software is to blame although the vendor denies it (Apples escape goat?)  To Apple all I can say is welcome to what Microsoft has had to deal with for years and it will only get worse as time goes on and market share grows.  Then again Apple doesn’t really embrace developers and has no presence in the enterprise so maybe they won’t have that problem since there are less third party products to install. 

Choose Apple In the Enterprise – Get Screwed

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Apple | Posted on 29-10-2007


That is the message Apple is sending to its enterprise customers with the release of its new Leopard operating system according to reports coming in from Java developers.  Apple isn’t supporting Java 6.0 on Leopard and there are tons of problems even running the IDE on previous version.  Enough to drive one Java developer away from Apple completely and others screaming when is Java 6 going to be supported.

image It makes you wonder what Dale Frantz (pictured left) is going to do as a CIO who switched his entire company over to Mac OS X as reported in Computer World back in July.  The plan as he described it was to write Java applications and have them run on Mac OS X.  Sounds reasonable, but ONLY if the vendor supports the same idea Dale!

Apple has been known to not care what anyone wants but themselves.  At least Microsoft is open to ideas from those in the community and try to at least listen and embrace what the community wants.  The other thing Microsoft does in this area is communicate its plan when products will be supported and when they will not.  It is VERY important for an enterprise to know if what it is doing today is going to be here tomorrow.  Imagine if Microsoft when it shipped Windows Vista didn’t support Java.  Can you imagine?  Or even worse, Microsoft decides down the road in 2009 to not support .Net 3.5 after a year or so.  Can you imagine the chaos that would spewed on the Internet?  I can’t.  Yet the “new evil empire” can.

For those of you *thinking* about switching your company over to Apple products entirely heed my warning and take it to heart. You WILL get screwed by Apple in more than one way.  Either you will buy new hardware right before new hardware is released which means you should have paid less, or you don’t get future upgrades, or they simply don’t tell you what they are doing to their products or they remove a language your developers need.  At some point they will cost you money.  Ask yourself can you sleep at night not knowing what is going to happen with the decision you are going to make.  Honestly you’d be better off using Linux over Apple but that is another topic.

Apple, I want to like you.  I have two notebooks of yours and I want to write applications for your platform, but until you pull your head out of your crotch I’m going to have to stick to writing .Net code and continue swallowing the blue pills.


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