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Matt Fusfield
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The Google+ app could benefit from an iPhone 5 update...

Interesting observation: went looking for a Kindle Fire yesterday. 2 different Staples and Best Buy were out of stock. Both had iPad 2's in stock, though. Amazon doesn't release sales numbers, but clearly the Fire is doing at least "OK"!

Illustrative difference between iOS and Android:

Android: My mail client has three sliders (red, green blue) to adjust the color of the notification LED. After fiddling with it for 10 minutes, I use Google to find out the LED on my particular phone only supports white. Sliding all three selectors all the way to the right produces white, and my phone now blinks when I get email. (time spent: 15 minutes)

iOS: No mail notification light. (time spent: 0 minutes)

I had a few personal to-do items that I took care of this weekend, and they made me realize how far we still have to go in the "ease of use" department with various personal technology items:

1) My trusty Drobo, where I store my music and photos, acted strangely when I updated to Lion. At the time, I removed the dashboard software and just plugged it in via USB as Firewire 800 was causing the drive to disappear from time to time. Now that a few months have passed, the manufacturer has released updated software and firmware that fixed these issues. I downloaded it, installed the new dashboard, rebooted (yeah - on a Mac) and then had to upgrade the device firmware, before changing the connection from USB back to Firewire. I didn't have any problems - but it still took more than a half hour, and I'm not sure how easy it would have been for a non-geek to do.

2) I have a Verizon 4G MiFi, which provides an incredible amount of bandwidth to any WiFi device while in a 4G service area. Outside of those areas, I can still get slower 3G speeds. However, going between the two is a painful process. The "handoff" between 4G and 3G often resulted in a complete disconnect for 30 seconds to a minute before picking up a signal again. Even worse, sometimes when in 3G mode, it would never go back to 4G mode without a reboot. There is a firmware update, but after reading some feedback in the Verizon support forums, the Mac OS updater often bricks the device. The Windows version, however, works fine.

My only Windows PC is my work laptop, which is fairly well locked down, and the updater failed there. (ironically, it is my team's job to keep our machines locked down, so I am my own worst enemy here...) I cloned a Windows 7 VM in Parallels, and downloaded the firmware updater, and connected the device via USB to my Mac and patched the connection through to the VM. The update itself then ran and seemingly improved the performance of the device.

3) I keep a personal locked down Windows VM for running Quicken, since I've yet to find a good Mac OS substitute for my personal finances. My antivirus subscription needed to be renewed, but that also included a software update. 20 bucks and 30 minutes later, my machine had rebooted twice and had its software updated.

My point in writing all this is simple - I spent in total a few hours on this stuff, and got nothing new in return, except for products that should have worked this way in the first place. Why does it take an 11 page procedure to flash firmware onto a MiFi? How much hardware is released as "beta" since its relatively easy (for manufacturers, at least!) to have their customers spend time upgraded software and firmware? I like tinkering with new stuff, of course, but given the time and effort, I'd want to see new functionality, not just fixes to nasty bugs.

One of the things I like about the Kindle us that it isn't just a hardware device. Amazon went out of their way to make sure you could read content from the Kindle store on anything and keep everything in sync. Kindle reading apps exist for web, Blackberry, iOS, Android, etc, etc.

With the introduction of the Kindle Fire, I wonder if that will continue to be the strategy. While I don't see the Fire as an exact competitor to the iPad, it is a very compelling device. My hope is that Amazon is only making hardware, as they were before, as a delivery mechanism to the content that they sell and therefore also continue to deliver content to other platforms.

Taking that a step further, I really wish they would extend their instant video service to other devices in the same manner they've done for books. Apple has treated the iTunes store the same way Blackberry has treated BBM - if you want to use it, you have to use our hardware platform. What's stopping Amazon from going down the same path?

Thanks, Steve. Take care and best wishes.

I still use Quicken in a Windows virtual machine but have been looking for a suitable Mac OS replacement for a while. What do you recommend? Now that Quicken 2007 has been eaten by Lion, there must be some modern alternatives out there.

Attempting to brew my own iced coffee with a Toddy, we'll know the results tomorrow morning! Http://

So can Spotify play your iTunes playlists? They don't show up for me on the left even though it seems to have scanned my iTunes library

Cleaning up my iPhone a bit...apps that got the boot: Twitter (Tweetbot replaced it), MOG, RDIO, Hulu+ (not paying for it), HBO (replaced by HBO GO) Nike+, Walk Tracker Pro (replaced by RunKeeper) OnMyWay (replaced by Glympse), At Bat 2010 (not sure why it was even still there with 2011 next to it...) QuickMark, ScanLife, SnapTell (replaced by Google Shopper, Amazon, and Scan), StickyBits and (not sure...)
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