Archives

Sep
22

How Is Apple On The Environment?

One of the greatest concerns in the age of technology is the affect that these amazing inventions will have on the health of human beings and the world that we live in. So how does a company like Apple, which is so vast and broadsweeping, do when it comes to taking care of the environment and people?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged to regulate chemicals and protect human health by safeguarding the natural environment: air, water, and land.  It monitors companies and other agencies to ensure that businesses in the U.S. are seeking to keep people and the natural environment safe.  According to MacObserver, “The EPA rates Apple Computer highest amongst producers of notebook computers, and fairly well compared to producers of desktop computers and LCD displays.”

Other organizations however, such as GreenPeace, have scored Apple low on their environmental care scale. They claim that, “Despite being a leader in innovation and design,” the non-profit organization said, “Apple has made absolutely no improvements to its policies or practices since the ranking was first released three months ago.”

So which is it? Is Apple a leader in environmental care or a deceitful international company that destroys the earth and humans while making money from them? Is GreenPeace target large corporations simply to bring them down and is the EPA turning a blind eye to the issues with Apple?

I would say that most likely the answer is, ‘Yes’. Somewhere in the middle, Apple is both having a negative effect on our environment and seeking to better it. This is where we, the consumers, play an integral role. It is the spending and living choices that we make that determine how companies like Apple reac to environmental issues. It is the suggestions that we make and the way in which we ‘speak with our wallet’ that shape the policies of these major companies.

At the risk of sounding optimistic and democratic, the consumer system is based on serving the needs of individuals and their spending habits. Therefore, if you and I are seeking to buy products and support companies that are environmentally minded, and are informed as to what that means, then perhaps we have a chance at keeping companies like Apple and others accountable.

Its something to think about.

What do you think?

Sep
15

The Evolution of iTunes

In 9 years we have seen possibly one of the greatest transitions in music media history. In 2001, Apple debuted their new product, iTunes, a place to store and organize your music on your computer. 8 years later, Apple has rolled out iTunes 09, a program that has advanced and improved music and media to a whole new level. iTunes has moved to a product that handles music, movies, TV shows, music videos, podcasts, audiobooks, iPhone applications, iPod games, ringtones, and Internet radio. It supports purchasing, renting, and importing. It manages iPods, iPhones, and the Apple TV. It coordinates the syncing of contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, mail accounts, and even photos. And it manages wireless streaming to remote AirPort and Apple TV units. This is a long list of features and the updates are growing as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Event of last week introduced new features that have been on wish lists for some time now. Here’s a look at a few updates:

-Trying To Get The Interface Right-One of the most difficult parts of any program is getting it to interact properly with its users. iTunes is trying again with new ways to explain how to get music if you don’t have any, as well as easier ways to categorize and browse the music and movies that you do have.

-Working with the iPhone-is one of the newest features that iTunes promotes. When you select the Applications item in the iTunes sidebar, you can now view your purchased iPhone apps in list, grid or Cover Flow mode. But the most exciting part of the iTunes/iPhone relationship is the chance to control the new tools for managing what gets synced to your iPhone or iPod touch and how those apps are organized on the device.

-Syncing new music-iTunes 9 also improves the options for choosing which media are synced to your iPhones and iPods. For example, the Music tab now lets you choose to sync any combination of playlists (Genius mixes and playlists included), artists, and genres. So, for example, you can easily copy just your favorite three playlists, along with everything by your favorite band, and all tracks classified as Alternative; there’s even a search field for the Artists list to make it easier to find particular artists.

Check out macworld for more on the iTunes9 updates.

Sep
09

What Will Today’s Rock’n'Roll Event Bring?

lets-rock1

Apple is planning a special, invitation only, rock ‘n’ roll event today to roll out new products and innovations. The event will take place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, Calif., located in the same complex as the Moscone Center, site of Macworld Expo and Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). It will occur at 10:00 AM Pacific Time on Wednesday, Sep. 9, 2009.

In the past, these special events have been used by Apple to renovate its music products, iPods and iTunes to name a few. Look for similar trends to continue today as the ‘big holidays’ are just around the corner. Here’s three things that we hope to see.

1. iTunes Upgrade: The increasingly complex and cutting edge way to store and play your music is in need of a new edge. While the ‘genius’ feature and other gadgets on the iTunes are cool, we’re looking for the next neat feature.

2. iPod Touch Facelift: This product has become on of Apple’s most important for revenue stream. It’d be nice to see similar upgrades to the Touch as occur on iTunes.

3. The Touted Tablet Device: The Device has been long-rumored and is becoming long-awaited. A new type of device that will be cutting edge, as Apple usually is, allowing iPhone like movement on a computer apparatus. This thing would be sure to be a must have by Apple lovers this fall.

The party’s about to start! Get ready to rock’n'roll! Check out macworld for live updates.

Jul
29

Texting Dangerous To Drivers? No Way!

cellad41

A recent study was released stating that texting while driving is 23 more times dangerous that not driving while texting. I love these studies that come out with things that we kind of already new were true, but didn’t want to admit. I myself am a culprit of texting while driving. With Oregon’s new ‘no cell phones while driving’ rule passed and being implemented soon, I am frustrated that all I’ll be able to do when I drive is sit and look at the road.

We’ve developed a society that is so rushed and bent on multi-tasking that we ought to be skilled enough to drive and text at the same time. Perhaps driver’s education classes ought to begin teaching students how to drive while texting or talking on the phone? Maybe if we gave students enough practice of texting while driving than they would be less likely to get in a fender bender with the car in front of them while sending an ‘lol’ to their friends?

Furthermore, Facebook could take see a serious drop in status updates if texting is disallowed while driving. I know there have been countless times that I have had the chance to tell people what I’m doing every second by updating my facebook and twitter while driving. My wife LOVES it when I text while driving. It gives her a chance to watch the road and get an adrenaline rush. Its my gift to her while we’re on the road.

I am appalled that our government would try and regulate our cell phone use while driving. The cell phone is a symbol of American independence, proof that were are not burdened or addicted to technology, but using it in powerful and transforming ways. The amount of meaningful text conversations throughout the country would make George and the other founding fathers proud of what we’ve become!

So in conclusion, texting may be dangerous while driving, but only because we need to train our drivers more thoroughly, giving them the proper tools to function in this ‘high-octane’ society. Learning how to multi-task by driving, texting, listening to music, talking to friends and combing their hair, all at the same time.

Here’s to making the roads safer!

Jul
21

The Smell of Books Slowly Disappearing

Books are fun to read, but they’re even more fun to smell. I love heading into libraries or old book stores and smelling the richness of history and adventure. The smells of tales told over the centuries, of poetry and prose, mystery and drama, psychology and world thought. What will happen to the smell of books as the world continues to move faster and faster into the world of technology. Companies like Barnes and Nobles are attempting to break into this world of technology and make a profit by promoting ebooks.

“Monday, we got the first insights to Barnes’ digital strategy with the company’s two-prong announcement of the Barnes & Noble eBookstore and its e-book reader plans—including the company’s partnership with Plastic Logic to produce an e-book device. The eBookstore, launched Monday, offers 700,000 titles according to Barnes & Noble’s press release, but in a conference call after the release went out, Barnes & Noble clarified that it includes Google’s 500,000 free public domain books as part of that number.”

Barnes and Nobles competes against Amazon and its new ebook reader the Kindle. Barnes and Nobles alliance with Plastic gives it the opportunity to challenge Amazon.

So what will happen to those dusty old libraries that breathe history and adventure? Will they instead be contained in our computers and cell phones? Will the adventures be the same, the drama have its power? Is it the words on the page or the media that presents it? It will be fun to watch this new breed of technology blossom in our quickly growing world. I hope that the love of reading and culture of books will never best lost.

Jul
14

CPR iPhone Apps Could Save A Life

first-aid

The iPhone has come out with a new app giving users aid on first aid. CPR Buddy and other iPhone apps provide a handy way to refresh a memory that’s gone blank in the face of an emergency or to provide first-aid knowledge you never thought you’d need.

So often in emergency situations people struggle with remembering what to do in those situations. The iPhone can once again come to the rescue and provide audio and informational clues as to how to respond. MacWorld reviews four different iPhone apps on CPR and First Aid.

My favorite is the ResQr First Aid and CPR Coach from Think Safe. It “is a great layperson’s tool for emergency situations. The navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen let someone look up CPR instructions, call 911, look up the nearest emergency room, or get quick instructions on treating injuries.

When you click the $6 app’s Injury button, a graphic, color-coded group of icons comes up—again, perfect for helping panicky people find the information they need quickly. Once the user clicks on the injury category—Breathing, Choking, Drowning, for example—the software asks yes and no questions (“Is the victim breathing?”) and displays treatment instructions depending on the input. This is a great way to walk people through performing unfamiliar tasks in stressful situations.

Any reference work can be puzzled through when the user is calm; a portable first-aid guide needs to provide information to its users in the middle of stressful situations. ResQr First Aid and CPR Coach is a reference guide that Red Cross card-carriers and rookies alike can appreciate.”

Jul
08

Aiming for the Big Guys, i.e. ridiculous lawsuits

10870-blue-man-aiming-a-bow-and-arrow-at-a-target-during-archery-practice-clipart-illustration

Its tough being on top and even tougher to stay there. Not only must you be on the cutting edge of technology and advancement, advertising and marketing, but all of the little guys in the pond are trying to take you down or get there cut. Hence seems to be the case with California based company named Shared Memory Graphics which is reportedly sueing Apple and other major companies over a two graphic accelerator systems patented by the company.

According to MacWorld, “The two patents, originally owned by Alliance Semiconductor, describe ways in which microprocessors fine-tune graphics by balancing the flow of data from various sources.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the suit was filed at the U.S. District Court of Arkansas and demands unspecified monetary damages.

The plaintiff’s attorneys are fighting for a “reasonable royalty” from Apple, Sony, Nintendo, along with enhanced damages from Sony.

Apple had no comment to make on the lawsuit filed late last week.”

Whether or not the small business has a legitimate claim against Apple and others, it will be interesting to see how the story unfolds, and whether or not Apple and the other companies will simply settle out of court with the plaintiffs so as to avoid any media attention, or if they will go to trial and risk exposure or something else.

Personally it seems silly that companies like this are allowed to file suit against major corporations simply to try and settle out of court and make a fast buck. While companies like Apple can withstand this small attacks, our legal system seems broken in allowing the overuse and abuse of sueing and patent conflicts.

Jul
07

What’s Your Method of Communication?

direct_communication_marketing

We live in a world that is intricately connected. Due to technology there are thousands of ways that we stay informed and connected to the world and people around us. From Yahoo to Google, the iPhone to the Web, we have information at our fingertips like no generation ever has had before us. So in an age where there are so many options, how do we pick and choose the methods that work for us to communicate? Is there a pattern or trend that dictates how we communicate or in what form? In what way does the media factor into our communication decisions?

Undoubtedly, new advancements play an important part in how we communicate. Technology is constantly improving and creating more efficient and easy opportunities for us to communicate. Text messaging and tweets provide multiple opportunities for simultaneous communication and status updates on facebook allow us to tell all of our thousands of friends what we are doing in an instant.

The Media also plays a role in how we communicate. Movies and commercials displaying iPhone use or certain types of cellphones or bluetooths influence our consumer choices. Word of mouth from friends on particular products and their reliability and functionality also influence in what ways we communicate.

Jobs and professions also affect our methods of communication. I recently took a graduate class that required me to tweet at least three times a week on twitter. My other job as allows me to communicate with students through facebook and text, as this is the fastest and most accessible way to advertise and reach students.

So with all of the factors that influence our methods of communication, what methods do you prefer? Which do you use to communicate the moments of your life and why do you think that is? We are very curious what you think. Let us know your method in the comments section of this post.

Jul
06

Apple Computers Exempt From Filter in China…Or Are They?

grnw

A recent article at MacWorld states that the program, Green Dam Youth Escort, that blocks pornography and some sensitive political content online, is being bundled with PCs and with all computers sold in the country.

However, no Apple software program comparable to Green Dam has been created and Apple computers are not being bundled with the program. Lenovo will ship the software only with “applicable” PCs, meaning those that support Windows and other technical requirements, the spokesman said. Lenovo PCs that use Linux will not come with the program, he said.

Apple will still pre-install the program in accordance with the government mandate if a Mac version comes out, the sales representative said.

The Green Dam program raises issues of security and filters within the Chinese government and its people. China works hard to monitor its apparent problem with pornography, as well as controlling, politically sensitive material, but at what point does freedom and filtering meet and who decides the standards? Could the filters be used to control media or block news that is harmful to China’s government? Is their any oversight committee protecting the rights of the Chinese people, or is our American concept of ‘freedom’ foreign to the developing world power? We’re curious what you think. Let us know in the comments section.

Jun
26

Welcome to Apple, How Can We Help You?

prettyblondcsr

The mac/pc commercials are growing in popularity and comedic ability, and a recent study illuminates that the public relations and customer service of Apple is also becoming improved and more popular than its competitor, the pc.

According to macworld, “Vocal Laboratories has published the results of a study that shows Apple leads other PC makers in telephone-based tech support. The study said that 58 percent of Apple customers reported that they were “very satisfied” with the results of their call, compared to 46 percent of Dell customers and 43 percent of HP customers.

The study determined that customers of each company were “generally satisfied” with hold times, the ease with which they reached a person, and the professionalism of the customer service personnel with whom they worked.

But Apple shone when it came to actually solving the problem, compared to the competition—53 percent of Apple customers reported their problem had been resolved on the call, while 45 percent of Dell customers and 39 percent of HP customers reported the same.

The Vocal Laboratories study featured 1,147 consumers surveyed immediately following a support call. The results cover the year ending May 31, 2009.”

Apple is continuing to strive to be the best in the industry, and they understand that customer service is a key component to its success. During my time working as a Best Buy Customer Service Representative, there were many times where I noticed that customers chose products based on how well they thought they worked. And some of the older, less technologically experienced customers were very concerned about how effective the help lines were going to be in helping them with computer related issues. Knowing that Apple is working hard on its effectiveness over the phone will continue to improve the marketability to the wider consumer population.