Sunday, June 12, 2011

If you are not using Apple, then it must be a bug

Failure to launch
Yesterday I could not launch iTunes on my Windows 7 PC. Nothing would happen after clicking on the desktop shortcut. After spending a few hours debugging (won't bore you with the details), the issue was resolved when I uninstalled every Apple program and service on the PC, and installed the latest version of iTunes (64 bit).
This is no biggie, because stuff happens in the software world, and on Windows stuff seems to happen quite frequently.

Houston, we still have a problem
Today when I launched iTunes, the following message was displayed:
Visiting the Default Programs control panel confirmed that iTunes was already the default player for the music files in the iTunes Library. There were however some file types (eg: AIFF) that were configured for a different media player. Again, no biggie, but I still found the message to "fix this" a bit disturbing.

iTunes not being able to launch on the family PC was something I had to fix immediately unless I wanted to subject myself to serious nagging from the kids. But are AIIF music files being played by Windows Media Player something that requires a fix?

Meet the new boss....
Is Apple implying that "proper condition or working order" is achieved only when their application is the selected default player for a non-proprietary media type? Is this simply just arrogance or a sign that the next revolution is overdue?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why iPhone Personal Hotspot is transformative

Buried in the splashy announcement of iPad2 and iOS 4.3 was the release of Personal Hotspot for the iPhone. Basically Personal Hotspot enables a Wi-Fi hotspot on an iPhone4/3G running iOS 4.3 for up to 3 devices.

My initial reaction was "cool, can't wait to try that out". Configuring it was dead simple. My two kids (age 9 and 11) were able to connect their iPod Touches the first time without any assistance. But what surprised me was the number of different situations in which I used Personal Hotspot and their frequency. A few samples include:
  • sales demos and consulting engagements with my laptop and/or iPad at customer sites where Wi-Fi and LAN access was not permitted for visitors
  • an unplanned week long Internet outage at my home caused by renovations
  • airport lounges where only expensive Wi-Fi was available
  • a surprising number of places that did not have Internet access when time critical workflow approvals (expenses, invoices, travel etc) had to be executed from my laptop
  • situations where secure Wi-Fi was available, but I could not successfully connect on my Windows XP 64 bit laptop (don't get me started on some of the issues with 64 bit XP)
Within weeks some purchases I was considering were dropped, including:
  • a 3G USB stick for my laptop
  • going with the 3G option for an iPad 2
  • a Boingo Wireless unlimited plan
To say that Personal Hotspot is a good app would be a deceptive understatement. A more useful description would be that it is a transformative app. What  is the difference?

A good app is a better mousetrap. A transformative app is a brand new weapon that extends capability, increases productivity and eliminates the need for other technical solutions to solve problems. Good apps improve the way we do things, transformative apps improve our lives. While it is nice to add good apps into our toolkit, it is critical that we incorporate transformative apps to accomplish our stretch goals.

Of course Android has had Wi-Fi hotspot capability long before  iOS 4.3 shipped. Unfortunately I don't have an Android phone. Well, not yet anyways :-)