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  • 2016: The year Apple lost its magic

    Home Forums AskWoody blog 2016: The year Apple lost its magic

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      • #20560
        woody
        Manager

        A very pithy and well-informed look at what ails Apple, from Galen Gruman at InfoWorld.
        [See the full post at: 2016: The year Apple lost its magic]

      • #20561
        Sebby
        Guest

        Yeah, I’m afraid it’s probably true. I think the article is a little too negative in the outlook, but it’s also spot on with the conclusion that Apple simply doesn’t delight any more and that the products are, like political representatives, the “least worst”.

      • #20562
        David Redfearn
        Guest

        The “Apple is Doomed” article has a long history (both pre- and post Steve Jobs) and I suppose they will be correct eventually if we wait long enough. The problem for Apple is that everyone expects innovation, but nothing can change. This article doesn’t really discus the current issues very well or appreciate the business issues Apple needs to address these days. (The dependence on Intel has caused some of the MBP issues.)

        Woody has documented well the issues with Windows – a year after release 10 has not advanced much, if at all – and MS support for its users has been terrible. (I won’t describe my horrible experience updating from 8.1 to 10 on a 2 year old Dell XPS System – with no useful assistance from MS.). Given this mess you could argue that “MS is Doomed” – but the stock price is up (as it is for Apple).

        The Apple blog community has argued about these issues and not all views are so bleak. Most readers of Woody’s blog probably don’t care, but let’s see how this works out in 2017. My guess is that Apple will do very well!

        One note: the site now has a large message “If that helped, support Woody….”. This appears even when the post is a question. I see this and my reaction is “No, that didn’t help”. Maybe this could only be shown for more substantial posts.

        David

      • #20563
        poohsticks
        Guest

        @Woody,

        Thanks for raising larger issues regarding other operating systems —

        some of your readers will be using Apple as well as Windows,

        and some readers who only use Windows will be interested in learning more about the available Windows alernatives.


        On the topic of Patreon,

        one thing about Patreon that I’ve been wanting to suggest to you —
        I think that you used to have a button for it in the upper right corner (the “Support AskWoody” area of the right sidebar), but whether you did or not, now there is not a button for it.
        I would suggest to put a Patreon red button there, where currently there is only the word “Patreon” that is hyperlinked.
        Putting a button for it there would bring it more into line with the 2 other via-the-internet donation options, Amazon and Paypal.


        About 2 weeks ago there was a _Guardian_ newspaper article about how Apple isn’t cool anymore and Windows is now seen as the cooler operating system (ahem),

        but when I skimmed it, I thought,
        “Number one, this guy has no idea about GWX and the patchocalypse, which are, to right-thinking people, much bigger than ‘coolness’.
        Number two, much like 50% of the Guardian’s articles these days, this is more like a twenty-something’s not-so-interesting personal blog entry rather than a ‘real’ newspaper article.
        Number three, it heavily references a UK tv show that most Americans won’t have heard of (although it was generally, though not always, a funny show, and I’d recommend it for folks who have a certain sense of humor).
        So I won’t mention it on AskWoody.com.”

        But since your title here is about Apple’s losing its polish,
        if anyone is interested in the Guardian article, I’ll put the link here —

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/08/all-hail-clippy-with-apple-losing-its-cool-its-finally-microsofts-moment

      • #20564
        woody
        Manager

        I’ve been debating about how much real estate to give to Patreon. To date, I only have $20 pledged – and it seemed to be a waste of space. I’ll try again, if I can find the right code…

      • #20565
        poohsticks
        Guest

        If it were me, I might take away the large Patreon message from beneath each blogpost,
        and only mention it in the right sidebar with the other ways to donate,
        but give it a button there, so that it stands out to the eye as much as the Paypal and Amazon methods do.

        I think it will probably continue to make a minor contribution, since it’s not a well-known company.
        If it doesn’t cost you anything, it might be worth keeping. I think some people probably don’t like to use Paypal, and might trust Patreon more. It’s good to have options.

        —-
        While on the subject, of the “Support AskWoody” area of the righthand sidebar, would it be easy to slightly enlarge the dead space between the Paypal and Amazon buttons?

        There is slightly less space between those two items than there is between the other descriptions of ways to donate.

        They are both gold, like your background woodgrain, which doesn’t help to distinguish them to the eye.

        To further set the Paypal and Amazon buttons apart visually, I might put the Amazon button below the text about the Amazon method of donation, instead of above it.

        This is nitpicky stuff; I’m just making suggestions since someone else raised the Patreon area. 🙂

      • #20566
        Bill C.
        Guest

        I liked the article. It actually mirrors my feelings about new Win10 computers. They have some great hardware and performance muted by a mobile inflexible OS.

        I am not an Applephile, but am seriously considering an iPad for travel email, especially since it is similar to my iPhone, which incidently I find I can connect to wifi far, far easier than my laptops (have it set to only connect to certain ones, and to ALWAYS ask first for new connections.)

        Unfortunately, what I see is that too many of the improvements in the various device universes are smoke and mirrors. They really do not make what you are doing significantly easier or faster, they just add complexity and more importantly add layers of designed obsolescence to serviceable items or software, i.e., new for new sake (and hoped for shareholder value rather than user value).

        I found myself looking at a Mac desktop the other day, but the middling hardware specs and high price makes it a non-starter along with some software holes (equivalent software not available for Mac) compared to Windows 7.

      • #20567
        woody
        Manager

        How’s that?

        (And I’m nixing the Patreon link in the “reply” edit panel. Working it as part of the Lounge upgrade.)

      • #20568
        LD
        Guest

        Apple is seldom discussed in forums where there are few Isheep. This is still the case on most Microsoft centered forums even though Microsoft has shown its propensity to milk their customers with impunity.

        I read the linked InfoWorld article and found it represented the current Apple world as it is from a user’s perspective. It should be noted that Apple now makes more money from services like the App Store than it does from its Mac computer line, and it expects its services business to be the size of a Fortune 100 company next year.

        And yes, that is Microsoft’s stated business strategy as well – Services are everything! The Isheep and the M-cows are now foraging in the same paddock.

        Apple and Microsoft are already very much alike – two thirds of Apple’s revenue is from the Iphone and two thirds of Microsoft’s revenue is from the Enterprise. Tim Cook and Satya Nadella are not Steve Jobs and Bill Gates clones (respectfully). Hardware offerings are seriously over priced. Both companies spy on their users for profit. Both have poorly written OSs, both have major security vulnerabilities, both ignore their customer base.

        Android is the upstart that has offered new shiny things to a public that has been screaming out for more competition. I see them as Zebras (hard to distinguish one from another). Linux never got the polish at the user end, so sticking with ruminants, I classify them as Giraffes.

        FWIW, I am not bashing Microsoft and Apple. They see change as essential but more importantly as an opportunity. They are willing to aggressively embrace it. Both are looking ahead rather than back and hopefully the promised ‘delighted user’ will become a reality, sooner rather than later.

      • #20569
        woody
        Manager

        +1

      • #20570
        AlexEiffel
        Guest

        The problem is the same as Microsoft, except Apple is expected more than Microsoft to always put out revolutionary products. Bloat.

        When I saw Apple was preparing a Macbook Pro with a stupid touch bar, I was thinking, oh they didn’t look at the mess done by the Lenovo Carbon X1 gen 2 a few years ago.

        Lots of things didn’t live up to their promises. 3DTouch is one of them. I thought it would be great, but, no, it gets in the way of other functions and doesn’t offer anything of value worth the added weight and size.

        I don’t blame Apple for trying, but the thing is, I think most users are interested in a good product and all the fancy crap they add ends up making things more complex, less reliable and less secure. But then, if they don’t hype things, some people complain they don’t do enough. In terms of adding features I don’t care for, I think Apple has done their share in the last few years, they could slow down thank you. But at least, they make it easy to disable/not activate them when you upgrade the OS. When IOS 10 was out, about two hours later I was done analyzing all the changes and adjusting my install procedure (yes, it is not a desktop OS, but it is a good model to follow where all the settings are easily accessible and there are no secrets scattered everywhere).

        The thing is, it is impossible to always make a revolution. If I was selling a product, I would do with the complaints but still would issue the best product. I am sure it would continue to sell for replacement and have dedicated followers. At some point, you need to realize that is all that is accessible to you as a company. Almost nobody is going to change their Airpad Air 2 for the 9.7 inches Pro at the price you sell it and that is fine.

        So keep the product simple, powerful, elegant, don’t annoy people with stupid decisions like removing the headphones jack or adding a mandatory idiotic touch bar on high end models. Then, when faced with a choice between this Windows 10 nightmare of a laptop and this always the same but still better Apple laptop, I bet the decision won’t be hard for many Apple customers.

        The funny thing is Apple has become a bit what Microsoft should be in the sense that they offer the product that is the simplest to use and configure for a relatively safe, reliable experience. They are the one that are expected to be high end, cutting edge, more features laden, but they do the basics better than competitors in many ways, especially now that Microsoft is moving full throttle to let’s sell holographic 3D whatever that nobody uses and ignore what our business users really want.

        I think there is a huge market for a non spying company that just gets the basics right and right now, nobody is doing that, even some arrogant Linux fools who spent 20 years trying to convince people they knew better, but doing now similar things than their rivals by issuing two OSes releases a year while screwing up Samba, printers or network card drivers. I know some Linux works well, please don’t flame me, I make a rhetoric point because there are a lot of distros that goes out fast and not so polished, just for the sake of it.

        My point is we’ve lost track of the customer needs and that creates a business opportunity. I am always surprised that nobody takes it. I would rather own 80% of a replacement market than a lot less of the new product one and I would certainly not try everything I can to destroy the replacement market if I owned it by default of a viable alternative. Google might be trying to take a share of it, the only problem is there is no option to pay besides with your privacy.

      • #20571
        poohsticks
        Guest

        a. Good stuff with the Patreon button in the sidebar!

        —-
        b. I would recommend reverting to the simpler title of “Support AskWoody”
        for the name of that section of your sidebar, since the section is about 4 different ways to support the site, not just about Amazon.

        ———
        c. One thing that you might look at refreshing during your Lounge upgrade is the “Categories” keywords/labels for your blogpost topics.

        The categories listed under “Categories” in the sidebar are pretty generic, have a lot of overlap with each other, and are not very detailed.
        (see note below)

        The options of “other” and “uncategorized” are also a bit undefined.
        [Why have a category called “uncategorized”? 🙂 If you are stuck for a category to give to a blog post, just put it in “other”.]

        And if you could put a few line spaces between the bottom of your calendar and the “Categories” area, that would be good, because right now the change-month button bumps right up against the “Categories” title.


        Note:

        I actually can see now, when clicking on some of your blogposts and looking at their tags, that you have a lot of other tags that you use for more-detailed categorization, such as “vista”, “Group B”, “3172605”, and so forth.

        I had not realized that before.

        Would it be possible to round up all the tags that you use and to list them in the sidebar’s Categories section?
        (Or, create a “Topics” or “Tags” section for the sidebar where these could go.)

        If the reader doesn’t know those topic-tags exist, they aren’t useful.

        Given how poor the Search box is here, any alternative method of referencing that is accessible and easy to use will be a help to people trying to find specific information.

      • #20572
        poohsticks
        Guest

        Also, the sidebar spacing would look better if a few line spaces were put between:

        Chair section and Search section

        Search section and Recent Posts section

      • #20573
        poohsticks
        Guest

        Or maybe the norm is just one blank line between the other sections – I’m not sure if it’s one blank line or a couple.

        Whatever is the norm for the spacing between the other sections in the sidebar, that’s what I’m advocating for the sections which right now bump right up against each other.

      • #20574
        poohsticks
        Guest

        The “Links” section looks a bit bare, and is also stranded between two advertising sections. I’d let the ads sit together, and put “Links” to external sites at the very bottom of the sidebar, after “Categories”.

        I also question whether having the calendar there is useful, because you post on almost every day of the month these days, thus nearly every date is underlined,
        and I wonder if people come to the site and think, “Oh, I must see what Woody wrote on April 9”, for example, rather than looking at the blogpost titles to find topics they are interested in.

      • #20575
        woody
        Manager

        How’s that?

        I don’t have a lot of control over some of this stuff – for example, the Tags only appear as a “cloud” – but by and large I like what you’ve done with the place! 🙂

      • #20576
        poohsticks
        Guest

        Categories:

        Oh, that’s a snazzy drop-down box for categories!

        Could you remove the redundant text word of “categories” that is just to the left of the drop-down box?


        Tags:

        Even though I don’t like those “cloud”-type graphics generally
        (I’d rather see topics organized logically or alphabetically
        rather than by popularity or by quantity),

        I do like the addition of the Tags area because it provides an alternative way for visitors to find things here, and any improvement in the ways to find things here is a positive.


        Flow of sidebar, top to bottom:

        I would put the Categories and Tags sections next to each other, since they are of a piece.

        I would put the external Links at the very bottom of the sidebar.


        Amazon area at the top:

        I don’t know anything about creating links, but I thought I’d point out that when I hover over the “Buy from Amazon.com” button, the link that shows up at the bottom left of my screen (giving the full address of the link) looks different from the link that shows up when I hover over the underlined “affiliate link” hyperlink that is also there in the Amazon area.

        (I would have thought they would have the same address, since presumably they are both meant to do the same thing.)


        Powell’s Bookstore:

        It would be good if you could shoot them an image of your Win 10 book for its Powell’s listing.

        They have an easy way, I think, for anyone to “add an image to this listing”.


        Amazon star rating of 2nd Edition:

        Hey hey, I see that you’ve got two more reviews now (for a total of 5) which brings the star rating to 3.6,
        although the reality is that it would be more around the 4.2 rating of the first edition if enough people gave their opinions, it’s just that there are so few ratings now that a couple of low ones skew everything down.

        It would so help if the rating were 4 or above, that extra portion of a star makes a big difference in purchasing decisions.

        …At least we know for sure that the Dummies people and you are not ones to nudge up your book ratings by getting the babysitter, cousin-in-law, tax accountant, guy at the oil-change garage, and so forth to give some highly-satisfied 5-star reviews. 😉

      • #20577
        woody
        Manager

        I tried, couldn’t get some of this sorted, but by and large they’re great ideas. Some of it’s stuck – the URLs in the links, the redundant Categories – but it’s definitely better than it was this morning.

        Anything else?

      • #20578
        wdburt1
        Guest

        Spoken from experience: Confusion is rampant in declining industries. Just like rats fleeing a sinking ship.

      • #20579
        woody
        Manager

        There’s no doubt that the PC industry is a rapidly declining industry. Define “PC” any way you like.

      • #20580
        poohsticks
        Guest

        It is looking nice, Woody!

        ——-
        I’m taking a fresh look around this evening, and I would suggest:

        a. A line space can be put between the bottom of the Tags section and the top of the Links section.

        Currently they are bumped up against each other, at least they are on my view of your site with PeerBlock blocking ads, when the 4 little Amazon ads are not there.

        Okay, when I allow some Amazon.com IPs through my Peerblock, which lets me see on my screen your Amazon ad section entitled “Shop Related Products”, _that_ section is the one that is bumping up right against the bottom of the Tags section, and it would be those two sections that need to have a space between them.


        b. I would suggest to put the Amazon 4-little-ads section called “Shop Related Products” either directly below your Herman Miller ad section (so that all the ads are in a row right up at the top, which is the part of the page that will get the most reader viewing time)
        or to put it at the very bottom of the sidebar, underneath the calendar (which is currently the item at the bottom.)

        The reason I suggest putting it at the very bottom is that when people are reading a long thread and have gone down the page much further than any of the items on your sidebar extend (so that the sidebar is just the woodgrain background and nothing else), and then they scroll upwards on the page to either re-read your original blogpost, to find a contributor’s comment that they want to re-read and maybe do a “reply” to, or to navigate to another page of the site by clicking on a link in the sidebar, the last section of the sidebar disproportionately gets the most attention when it suddenly hoves into view when the reader is scrolling upwards on the page — so why not take advantage of that by putting the “Shop Related Products” ads there,

        (That was pretty longwinded but might still be unclear, let me know if it didn’t make sense.)


        c. Did you say that you will be removing the outsized Patreon “if that helped” section that shows up between each blogpost and its comments section?
        I think it would be good to retire that, and to let the Patreon button that appears in the “Support” section of the sidebar be the main announcement and conduit for donating via Patreon.


        d. Just my opinion, but the Categories drop-down box is indeed snazzy in itself (so to speak),
        but I’m not sure that it adds much in the way of extra utility or convenience for the site visitor,
        because having things hidden behind a drop-down box (that 90% of readers probably wouldn’t click the down arrow of) actually obfuscates the information rather than showing all visitors “this is what the categories are, this is how they are named, these are topics that have been tagged in this particular tagging scheme”.

        Not that I ever used the Categories area the way it was before, since the divisions it introduces are overly broad for the sort of topic-searches that I personally do on your site, but the chances of my using it as it appeared the old way would have been greater than the chances of my using it as it appears the new way —
        the way it looks now, with variations of the word “category” being repeated three times in four words, makes my eyes want to skip over it as perhaps being an “in progress”/”not yet built” area of your template, rather than making them want to alight there and think “what is this section about?”

        (…Hmmm, not that my eyes can independently think, but it’s late, and it seems that my brain isn’t independently thinking itself! So that’s the best way I can describe it now.)

      • #20581
        woody
        Manager

        I’ll try to make some of the changes. Busy day today….

      • #20582
        Jim4
        Guest

        I’m not that familiar with Apple, so I’m basing my comments on what I have observed, as well as on what was in the InfoWorld article.

        It is sad to see Apple stumble. They lagged behind Microsoft for so long, until they finally came out with two breakout products — iPad and iPhone. Finally they had something to offer that was a total end-run around Microsoft. It would be sad if they get only a few years of real success out of these products.

        I think the key here is that Steve Jobs was the inspiration for the Apple product line. Not only was he a visionary, but he also held it all together, keeping everyone on the same page. Unless they get another visionary leader like Steve Jobs, they will continue to languish.

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