Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blog #122: Race to the Finish Line

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May you have a good new year, Mr. President!

The Great Race to Finish This Week’s Blog

The great race is on. Here it is Friday already and I have not one word written towards this week’s blog, which I am committed to upload to Google Saturday morning. Will I make it? Good question.

First off let me give you the status of my computer. You might remember that I took it into my local Apple store to have the power supply replaced after it had shut down, rather than staying asleep, last Thursday morning. Before I took it in, I uploaded my blog to Google, figuring that I would more or less be without a computer for a few days, and would do better with an incomplete blog than none at all.

This turned out to be not the case. I was given my computer back on Saturday morning, after the Apple Genius who worked on it determined it had roaches, and Apple Genuises do not work on roach filled machines.

Along with my computer they gave me a 10 page booklet with complete instructions on how to open up an iMac computer, saying if I open up the computer and get rid of the roaches by spraying them with cans of air, I can bring the computer back and they will install the new power supply.

However, there was one major problem with this. At 83 years of age, I am completely incompetent in the opening up of an iMac department, and neither of the men who live in my household read Spanish, much less the English the instructions were written in.

There is a Windows computer establishment over on Gessner street. I got the idea of asking them if they would open my computer, and later close it. I assured them that I would deal with the roaches, and not in their store. The young man consulted the store’s owner, only to report back that the owner says their store “does not touch Apple products with a 10 foot pole.” What? A computer store which would not touch an Apple product with a 10 foot pole? What kind of computer store would that be?

There was still hope. I took my proposition to Micro Center, a store which does sell and service Apple Computers as well as Windows. The person I talked to told me she for such an unorthodox proposition she would have to consult with her manager, who did not come in until noon, but she assured me she would call me back. She did not call me back, consequently there was no way I was going to be able to get my iMac de-roached by the 9th of Jan, 2010, at which date my Apple Care warranty runs out.

The Interior of an Apple Store

Does this make me disillusioned about Apple Computer, and turn me from a fanboy into into a venom-spewing, anti-Apple enthusiast? No way, Josè, for the basic truth remains that Apple, more than any other electronics manufacturer, has its excrement together, and delivers by far the best experience whether you are into computers, or music players, or multi purpose smart phones. And later this month the rumor mill has Apple introducing a device in a category all its own, a tablet device which word has it will be called iSlate.

I’m sorry Apple’s Genuis Bar technicians won’t work on roach filled computers. In Houston it is very difficult to keep roaches out of our electronic equipment. And as I always say, if roaches were truly harmful to us then we citizens of Houston would all be be dead years ago. However, I can understand their reticence. I can imagine their consternation as the roaches in my iMac suddenly poured out of my computer to pollute every other computer in the store.

And so we will be forced to reluctantly take our chances. If my computer subsequently dies on me, so be it. It is just not to be, at this period of my life, that I am able to open up the computer of my dreams in order to put an end to its roach population. Next subject.

Steve Jobs looking out for you

Greenpeace Labels Apple Greenest of Computer Makers

According to Sam Oliver, writing in the Apple Insider blog, After falling prey to harsh criticism from Greenpeace over its use of toxic chemicals in products for years on end, Apple was honored this week with the environmental advocacy group's top ranking as the greenest electronics maker. "It's time for a little less conversation and a lot more action on removing toxic chemicals," said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International Electronics campaigner. "Apple is leading and HP is playing catch up, but the lack of action from other companies is ensuring that customers and the environment are still losing out."

The Cupertino-based Mac and iPhone maker received gold stars in all four categories identified in Greenpeace's latest electronics guide: desktops, notebooks, cellphones and displays. In each case, the firm said Apple's products were free of the worst hazardous substances plaguing modern-day electronics.

"Companies need to support legislative bans to ensure a consistent phase out of PVC and BFRs across all electronic products," Harrell added. "Sony Ericsson and Apple are already calling on EU institutions to support such a ban. Other big players, such as HP and Dell – who have so far been silent - and Acer, need to ensure the ban is passed in the European Union parliament."

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What Makes Apple So Great?

Just what makes Apple products so great? you might well ask. Well, I’m so glad you asked. Apple goes out of its way to insure that its operating system stays out of your way, insuring that the best possible experience awaits each user as he/she uses the equipment. People in the know would name Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, as the main reason for this. Steve has a lot of interesting quirks about him, included the highest bar of secrecy in the computer business, but it has been generally credited to Jobs the Apple obsession with creating the most user friendly environments for personal computers, music players, and lately cellphones.

It is not enough that Apple’s music players work from day one. With the iTunes store Apple has made the most easy-to-use environment for downloading music from the web. As a result the music industry has been saved from the perils of music piracy, and the online iTunes store has become the largest purveyor of music in the country, surpassing WalMart well over a year ago.

In setting up an environment for it’s iPhone users to be able to buy apps (applications), Apple has created an environment which has greatly extended the usefulness of their devices. And in the same way, Apple has created the most successful series of retail stores in the nation. It has done this in the face of Gateway stores closing down, and in a time of national depression. Apple created these stores because it realized that no matter how good their computers were, they would not get a fair shake in computer stores selling primarily Windows computers. And from the website iClarified come some interesting statistics concerning Apple Stores.

• Sales per store—$26 million, which is just below what Macy's, Target and Best Buy make per store. But, if you look at the real estate, it's a slightly different picture. Apple Stores do sales of $4,300 per square foot which is 5x the $872 per square foot Best Buy does.

• Over 100,000 applicants on file for jobs at the Apple Store worldwide. 10,000 people submitted applications for the new Upper West Side store. Just over 200 got a job.

• Apple realized they were going too small with their stores, so now all of their stores will be at least "three tables wide." In other words, they're going to be bigger. They're also going to be opening more stores next year, more like 50. More of them will be "significant stores," iconic ones like the Fifth Ave. store with the Apple Cube. And they'll be going more international, adding stores all over Europe, like the UK, Paris and two in Shanghai getting those "significant stores."

And so you can easily see that in spite of my own personal difficulties in relation to the Apple Stores, that as heart I am the same committed fanboy I have always been.

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Since I was not able to work on this week's blog until Friday morning, it is not surprising that I have run out of things to write about already. However, take cheer, as I think of things to write about I will attempt to add to this blog as the week rolls on. Meantime, you're reached the end of this week's rather Apple centered edition of Little Eddy. Check back later in the week to see what we've added. Meantime, hang in there. Health care is coming. The only question is will it be in our lifetime, or that of our kids? Bye bye.

The Real Little Eddy §

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