Made in the USA

Core77 has a nice post on a new Tumbler blog: Expletive-Titled Homage to American Made Goods. The new blog is FUCK YEAH MADE IN USA and it’s a brilliant idea.

More of us Americans need to attempt to do our small part by supporting and buying from companies that make products in the USA or who have decent working conditions for their workers. Good ran a piece on Best Practices: King Arthur Flour, Where Workers Are Owners and while King Arthur is a bit more expensive than Stop and Shop brand, we’ll be buying it from now on to support an American company that’s doing good by its workers.

In the early days of the Macintosh (1984), Steve Jobs built a plant in Fremont, California (east bay) that assembled Macintosh computers by robot. He did the same thing with NeXT computers. No doubt one of the reasons Apple products can be sold as cheaply as they are is the low cost of foreign production and Tim Cook’s sourcing genius, but how many of us iPhone users would pay a bit more for an iPhone that was made (maybe by robot, maybe by American workers) in the USA. I know I would.

Now that Apple is over the hump so to speak and doing very well, maybe its time to do an experiment to see how many Americans would be willing to support “made in the USA” vs low price.

Apple after Jobs

Who Needs Him?

Farhad Manjoo has written an excellent piece on Apple after Steve Jobs. Well worth reading.

But Jobs’ achievement wasn’t just to transform Apple from a failing enterprise into a staggeringly successful one. More important was how he turned it around—by remaking it from top to bottom, installing a series of brilliant managers, unbeatable processes, and a few guiding business principles that are now permanently baked into its corporate culture.

Under Jobs and Tim Cook—the former chief operating officer, now the CEO—it has mastered the global production process in a way that no other company can match. Apple makes more devices, at lower cost, with fewer defects than any other firm in the world. And it does this year after year, on a schedule so strict we follow it with the seasons (iPhones in the summer, iPods in the fall, iPads on the spring). As a result, Apple can now beat most of its competitors on price and profit.

Apple’s iPad Replacing Cash Registers at Major Retailers

Apple’s iPad Replacing Cash Registers at Major Retailers

At larger stores cash registers are connected to an inventory server either locally or in the cloud. At some point someone’s going to write an app that allows an iPad to hook into that system.

I’m reminded of what Apple does in their own stores: employees carry around small devices that allow the entire transaction (including credit card swipe and signature) to take place anywhere in the store wirelessly.

Then we have “near field communication” and the ability to pay for things with a smartphone by simply having an account and being near a terminal and saying “ok.”

This is just the beginning of a new way of transacting business, how it looks ten years from now will be quite different.

Jobs steps down, Cook takes over

Steve Jobs Resigns: Apple CEO Stepping Down

Tim Cook will take over the CEO position. This is a great move for both men. No doubt much more on this will be written in the next 24 hours.

PRESS RELEASE: Letter from Steve Jobs

August 24, 2011–To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Lion doesn’t “burp” my MacBook Pro

Lion no longer “burps” the optical drive when you wake your MacBook Pro up from sleep. This makes me very happy.

I’ve also noticed that the Bluetooth control panel’s control for allowing and disallowing bluetooth accessories to wake the computer from sleep is also working as it should. My MacBook Pro can now hibernate and sleep correctly while still using a Magic Mouse.

These are nice details that let me know what Apple kept track of a lot of small sleep issues in Snow Leopard and fixed them.

Mac OS X Lion: What you need to know

Mac OS X Lion: What you need to know

Macworld has a great overview of Apple’s next Mac OS update, Lion. How to buy it, what it will need to run, how to install it on multiple Macs, UI changes, the major new features, and more.

If you plan to upgrade to Lion at some point this is a must read or at least a must bookmark.

Here’s Apple’s Lion overview which is useful as well to give a visual perspective to the Macworld list.

[via Edward McKeown]

Empire State

Empire state

Lunch in New York with some friends. Took this walking from Grand Central diagonally across town toward Chelsea. I’m enjoying the Instagram filters even though stuff like this isn’t part of my “regular” (whatever that means) photographic process. I’m also noticing that my S90 isn’t coming out as much because it’s fun and easy to upload images from the iPhone from almost anywhere. I have no faith that even when digital cameras have this capacity natively (without adding an Eye-Fi card) it won’t be as slick and easy as Apple/iPhone/Instagram.

Empire state


If you use a calendar on your Macintosh you should try out Fantastical. It’s a small application that sits in the menubar and pulls information from iCal, Entourage, Outlook, Google or Yahoo calendars. I’m really loving it, one of the best applications I’ve found in a while, right up there with Reeder and Sparrow for simple, clean UI.

It looks great, works great and you can try it for free until the end of May and buy it until the end of May for $14.99. Note, it’s available both through the flexbits site and through the Mac App Store.

I may never open iCal again but if I do, I’ll probably do it through Fantastical.

Creation myth

Malcolm Gladwell Looks at Technology Innovations

Robert Siegel (All Things Considered) and Malcolm Gladwell look at the mythic story of how Steve Jobs toured Xerox PARC in 1979 and came away with the basic ingredients of the Macintosh computer. This is a brief discussion of a piece Gladwell has in the May 16th issue of The New Yorker.

PARC = Palo Alto Research Center. Xerox PARC was a think tank much like IBM’s Watson Research Center or MIT’s Media Lab and the folks at PARC developed some of the fundamental tools of personal computing but they never made these tools commercial, they were expensive prototypes that Xerox had no way to turn into products.

Some think Jobs stole the ideas but Gladwell (and others including me) think he took the essence of the ideas and simplified and improved them and found ways to engineer them so they were affordable.

Technically speaking, it wasn’t only Jobs who was on the tour that day, it was also Bill Atkinson who designed much of the original Macintosh user interface and underlying operating system along with other members of the original Macintosh Team at Apple. Atkinson has said numerous times that he got the idea for overlapping windows on the PARC tour but the way he did it on the Macintosh (the programming) was totally different from anything the folks at PARC knew about. This underscores Gladwell’s point about the difference between being first, and being first with a viable product.

Apple iPhone-maker Foxconn ponders big Brazil move

Apple iPhone-maker Foxconn ponders big Brazil move

Tech companies are keen to sell to Brazilian consumers hungry for high-end electronics, but gadgets are often priced out of the market because of high production costs and import tariffs. Apple’s cheapest iPad, for example, retails for about $860 in Brazil, versus $400 in the United States.

India had or still has similar stiff import tariffs making it prohibitively expensive to sell even low priced electronics there.

iPhone needs to be burped to find MicroCell

We put an AT&T 3G MicroCell in our house and we now have five bars on both iPhone 4s in and around the house. We did this because we have very poor coverage here in Warren, one or two bars in the house most of the time.

The problem with this set up is that when we come home our phones will not let go of the weak local tower signal and pick up the MicroCell automatically. We have to turn the iPhone’s cellular radio off by putting it in airplane mode, then turn the radio back on by turning off airplane mode to get the phone to pick up the MicroCell.

This is not a once in a while thing, we have to do it every time.

It seems to me that this isn’t a problem with the MicroCell but a problem with the iPhone’s ability to determine that one signal is stronger than another and switch to it in the background. No doubt many of us have experienced this with wifi signals as well; you’re sitting right next to a wireless router but your device (iPhone, iPad, Mac or other wifi equipped device) won’t drop a weaker one it was connected to.

Somehow this seems similar to the problem iPad 2 owners are having picking up Verizon’s signal but who knows?

We were and are hoping to use our iPhones enough with the new MicroCell to consider dropping our landlines but this is certainly a bump in that process.

MacBook Pro SSD sleep issue

As some of you know, almost a year ago I did an SSD upgrade on a MacBook Pro. And, if you’ve been following along, you know that I recently purchased a new MacBook Pro with Apple-supplied SSD.

I have two machines sitting here, one with an OWC SSD that I put in myself, one with an SSD that came from Apple.

On the older machine I had issues with sleep: the screen goes to sleep but the next phase of sleep where the motherboard, hard disk and radios go to sleep would not kick in unless I actively chose sleep from the Apple menu or closed the lid (screen). If I walk away from the machine, lid up the LED light by the latch is on but does not pulse. Close the lid, it pulses.

Pulsing = sleep.

On the brand new machine with Apple-supplied SSD the exact same thing happens: the machine does not go into deep sleep on its own without me doing one of many things to force it: Apple menu, power button, etc.

This makes sense, there is no spinning hard disk to spin down. One thing many considering SSD or talking about MacBook Airs don’t seem to realize is that an SSD (as opposed to the soldered on flash memory of a MacBook Air) is mimicking a hard disk: it’s in the same packaging and is a replacement for a hard disk in a computer. So, until the system knows the difference, there might be issues like this.

However, there are other things that get turned off when a machine goes to sleep and you can test this yourself if you have a wireless (bluetooth) mouse.

Leave the lid up but use the Apple menu to put the machine to sleep. Move a bluetooth mouse and the machine doesn’t wake up. This means the bluetooth radio is turned off. Same with wifi: deep sleep turns the radio off. Wake the machine up by hitting the keyboard and the wifi menu (the bars) may actually search for the network. You know the machine was sleeping if this happens.

On either of my machines: the old MacBook Pro with OWC SSD or new MacBook Pro with Apple-supplied SSD if the machine is left on its own, lid up, moving a bluetooth (magic) mouse will wake the screen up and the wifi menu is all lit up, it never turned off.

So, in case you’re thinking that it’s only third party SSD upgrades that are messing with the out of the box sleep modes on MacBook Pros, it’s not, Apple’s SSDs are doing it too.

And, “real” sleep is meaningful in that it turns the computer’s radios off and in so doing saves battery life.

I’m going to be calling AppleCare next week, less to complain, more to find out of they’re aware of this and what they’re doing about it. My guess is Lion will fix this although if enough people report about it maybe it will be fixed in a Snow Leopard update.

Anyone out there with a new MacBook Air who cares to comment I’d love to hear from you. The next time I’m in an Apple store I’ll test a MacBook Air to see about this, it’s an easy experiment to do.

This is definitely not a deal breaker on SSDs and it supports attempting to save money with SSD suppliers other than Apple. But, those using machines with SSDs and possibly MacBook Airs with soldered on flash memory, make sure your machine is really sleeping when you think its sleeping.

MacBook Air as primary computer

Truly, it is made of unicorns

The Air is leaps and bounds faster than my Pro, despite having a less powerful processor and graphics card. The speed gains must therefore come from the SSD drive. All computers (especially Macs) feel fast when they’re fresh out of the box. Over the months things start to slow down though, so it’ll be interesting to see if that happens with SSD.

Note to Jon Hicks: I had my last SSD equipped MacBook Pro for close to a year and it never slowed down. I doubt your Air will slow down at all. Enjoy.

SSD may be a bridge between hard disks and some other format for packaging flash memory. Frankly, I didn’t know the MacBook Air had a “traditional” SSD, I thought its flash memory was soldered on directly but either way solid state is the future.