Apple has lost their mojo

The first smartphone I ever owned as an Apple iPhone 3G. This came out at a time when smartphones were still pretty ugly and basically useless. Apple had really taken the smartphone market and turned it upside down with what it was doing. The first time I saw the phone I was completely blown away by how it looked and the way it worked. I became a fan of the product very quickly.

As time passed, I got more and more used to working with my iPhone and really came to like it. I upgraded to the iPhone 4 and it was like night and day as far as usability. The speed difference was awesome and I was quite happy with it. It was also around that same time that Android was starting to get better and become somewhatr useful. The early iterations of that OS were horrid but by the time the iPhone 4 came out things were looking better.

Earlier this year I upgraded to an iPhone 5 and was less than impressed. The truth is, it seemed pretty much like my iPhone 5 with a slightly bigger screen and Siri. Big deal. Then this week, Apple announced their latest phone, the iPhone 5S and the only big thing I see with it is a fingerprint scanner on the home button. Really?

I’ve written before about the Apple vs Android thing so I won’t get into the debate again but I will say that I have become less and less impressed with the “new” items coming from Apple. I mean, I really like and enjoy my iPhone, but it would be nice to experience some of that “holy crap” excitement from a new product again. Instead, it seems that Apple has decided that more of the same is now the norm. Instead of trying to find innovative ways to use technology, they really do seem content to milk the customers with the same tech they already have.

This isn’t going to instantly make me switch to an Android phone. I’m on my iPhone 5 for at least another year, but it does make me consider, at least a little bit, about what else is out there. I have a lot of money invested in my apps, but I’m no longer razzled and dazzled by their tech. Instead, I shrug my shoulders and figure it’s just easier for me to keep what I have and wait until something really amazing comes out.

However, I do suspect that in the world of phones, that is unlikely to happen. I think phones have been pushed as far as they can go as far as new and cool features. Until I see something that makes me go “holy crap” again, I’ll likely just stick with what I have and shake my head at the lack of creativity from a company who was once so innovative.

Categories: Computer Stuff | Leave a comment

Enough with the bilingualism signage BS

I read an article this morning about how apparently some French people are upset at the new Starbucks because their menu is almost entirely in English. You can find the original article here. The article goes on to say that the Green party is suggesting the government should step in and force bilingual signage in our city because we are supposed to be “bilingual”. I read these kinds of statements and honestly, it makes my blood boil in anger.

This entire thing happened awhile ago in Dieppe. Now there are literally language police who’s responsibility is to make sure signs are done right so that French is first and English is second. If you don’t have a sign done the correct way, you’re fined $140 in violation of the bylaw. Dieppe is primarily French so if they want to promote that identity, I get it. I may not like it or agree with it, but I get it.

Now a political party is suggesting that signage and menus and whatever other things in private businesses should be in both official languages. Is this really what the government wants to spend their time on? With a mass exodus of people leaving here, crappy health care with long lines and major job losses, unemployment higher than it’s been in a long time, and countless other issues, THIS is what the government wants to work on? Are you f*cking kidding me?

When Dieppe made this proposal before, I started thinking about the consequences of multi-language signs, menus, ads, and other types of print media. If this same sort of thing were to happen in Moncton, let’s take a look at some of the other cultures who choose to live here and do so just fine.

Imagine for a moment that you have a man who was born and raised in South Korea. There he’s spent a good portion of his life preparing and serving food to his locals in his own Korean restaurant for years. He then decides after living there for long enough to move his entire family to Canada, specifically to Moncton. Now, the only thing he’s known how to do for most of his life is make Korean food. So he decides to open up an authentic Korean restaurant in Moncton. Now, he is fluent in his native tongue, but speaks very poor English but he manages to get by. In wanting to keep his restaurant authentic, he puts all the signs and menus in Korean with English on the menus for the locals to understand.

Now, he knows that most of the people in Moncton do not understand Korean, but that there are Korean locals who do. He also wants to preserve the authenticity of his restaurant by doing as much as he can in his own native language. His staff is comprised of mostly his family. When you see this restaurant on the street, it looks very nice and very authentic because he’s replicated what he had back home to the exact detail.

Then the government steps in and says, well, you’re in a bilingual province which means all of your menus and signs need to have French in them. First of all, no one in his family understands French at all. Secondly, and this is the one that bugs me the most, by placing French on the menus and signs, it implies that people can be served in French at the restaurant. No one there will know how to speak it, but people will think they can because the signs are in French.

All this guy wants to do is have his authentic restaurant for people to enjoy, but because the government is stepping in and telling him how to write his menus and put up his signs, he cannot afford to make the changes, or hire bilingual staff, so he goes out of business, collects welfare/unemployment, and becomes another statistic to add to our mass unemployment problem.

This is a simple example of how a business owner should be able to decide for themselves how they want to conduct business. If that person knows that they may be excluding a certain portion of the population because of the way their menus are made, or signs are displayed, then that is at the discretion of the owner, not the government. What’s next, telling the same guy that he has to put fried chicken or steak on the menu because his food items aren’t appealing to everyone? It’s like the lady who complained about the fact that McDonald’s didn’t have enough “healthy” food items. Uhm, hello? If you want healthy food, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!

At the end of the day, if you don’t like what you see in a business, or don’t agree with their practices, THEN DON’T GO THERE! How is that a problem? You walk into a Korean restaurant and no one speaks French so you’re going to throw a fit at them? You walk into a Starbucks and there’s no French but it’s in the middle of a city which is primarily English and somehow you’re shocked? This exact same thing happened when the Casino opened. There wasn’t enough French staff so certain French people threw a fit about it.

When I am in Dieppe, I expect that most things will be in French because Dieppe is primarily a French city. I know that and expect that. I don’t like it because I don’t understand French, but I respect the fact that they have chosen to make their majority their highest priority. It’s the exact same way in many other cities around the world. I can be in the middle of Mexico where everything is in Spanish with a little English here and there. I need to accept the conditions of where I am. In doing so, it leaves me feeling a bit excluded, which is I’m sure what the French customer at Starbucks felt. The difference is that they were in Moncton, not Dieppe, and Moncotn’s primary language is English, not French.

I believe that if you own a business, you should have the right to operate and execute that business in whatever language you choose. It is not for the government to decide how you should print your signs, your menus, your advertisements. It should be up to the business owner.

Seriously folks, the government needs to stay the hell out of private businesses and let us run them, legally, the way we want.


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Enough With The Autism Propoganda

There’s an article currently circulating across Facebook regarding how a court has “confirmed” that vaccinations cause Autism. I’ve seen several people post it and assume everything they are reading is true. Honestly, I read it and it pisses me off to no end.

Andrew Wakefield is the guy at the center of all this. He was the one who supposedly made the link between the MMR vaccine and Autism. Since then however it seems that everything this guy did was questionable and no one has been able to definitively prove that his results were in fact correct. All of his research has been disproven time and time again but once the cat is out of the bag, that’s sort of it isn’t it?

Whether he was right or wrong doesn’t matter now. It seems that with the proliferation of the internet, and celebrities like Jenny McCarthy who insist that these things are real, people go ahead and blindingly believe whatever they read and hear on TV. Oh well Jenny McCarthy’s famous and she was on Oprah so what she says must be true. I read an article online that says if I drink apple juice while standing on my head, I’ll gain X-Ray vision. It was written by a guy named Dr. Von Dorstick so it must be true. Seriously people, stop and think about what you are doing.

You are perpetuating a myth which has never been confirmed or reproduced by anyone and yet people consistently believe this crap because of the over hype it gets from others. But the reality is, this happens all the time with plenty of other things. Does any intelligent and rational person actually think that some guy built a giant boat, put every animal from the entire planet on it, then sailed for 40 days? Despite the fact that there’s absolutely no trace of any word flood having ever happened, people believe this story to be factually accurate. And this was LONG before the age of the internet.

As far as I am concerned, if you have a concern about your health, your children’s health, or someone you love’s health, don’t go online and look something up and assume everything you read is accurate. It’s fine to do a little research, but don’t just blindingly assume people have all the facts when it comes to your health. THAT’S WHAT A DOCTOR IS FOR! Go see an actual physician with all of your questions and get real answers. Do not rely on the internet to provide you everything you need to know.

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Changing Yourself

Tonite I am in Miami Beach, Florida. It’s our yearly user’s conference and tonite was the final night with the big party blowout. Lots of people drinking, dancing, and having a good time. I found myself yet again, sitting at a table, watching people, and doing very little. In fact, I was kind of bored.

It got me thinking. At one time, I used to go parties, have fun, laugh, and enjoy myself a lot more than I seemed to tonite. The party started actually with a “mixer” of folks standing outside the main ballroom, drinking and talking. You know where people introduce themselves to new people and mix and mingle and “network” to make new connections. All something I am horribly bad at.

I can’t seem to strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know, or even get up and dance with someone when I’m invited to. Why is it that I sit at a table, staring at my phone, or a glass, or simply watching everyone else have a good time while I’m counting the minutes before I think it’s ok for me to leave.

I want to be that guy who has a good time and gets out and dances and acts silly and enjoys himself. Didn’t I do that years ago? How many times did I get dragged to a club and ended up dancing on stage. Spushing at countless parties, or making an ass of myself doing just the dumbest or funniest things around. Where’s that Matt?

Sadly enough, part of me thinks that if I was drinking alcohol, maybe it would be better. Maybe somehow those things that hold me back would be let free and I’d be able to enjoy myself a bit better. But yet I sort of have stuck to this no alcohol thing and at this point in my life I’m not even sure why.

The funny thing is, for my job, I have to be a bit more outgoing than I am in social situations. Everytime I have to deliver a new class, I have to meet new people, introduce myself, start conversations and be friendly. But as soon as it turns social, I become this very awkward and shy person. I mean even tonite, I’m still thinking about how a co-worker was inviting me to go out and dance and I just shook my head and said no, and then sat in my chair wishing I had gone out. But instead of doing anything, I sat there and did nothing.

In reading up on Introversion, it would seem that indeed this is what I am. I think perhaps I have always been this way but when I was younger I just went to the excess to try and cover that up.

I don’t like it. Tonite I’m sitting in a hotel room when I could be downstairs partying with people and enjoying myself but I have no idea how to do that. The psychological analyst part of me starts thinking that perhaps all of that bullying and teasing as a kid made me feel like an outsider and hence it’s stuck with me my whole life. When you spend almost 30 years acting and behaving a certain way, is it even possible to change that?

Do I need to go out and get hammered?

After tonite, I’ll go to sleep, get on a plane and come home tomorrow, and return to my normal life. A life I love, but I do wish I could find a way to change the things about myself that I’m not too fond of. I just don’t know where to start.

Categories: Boredom, Flashbacks | 1 Comment

Road Warrior Blues

It’s 7:23 on a Thursday night and right now I feel like the worst father in the world.


The photo above was taken on Dylan’s last day of kindergarten and guess where I was? On the road, again. Not only was on the road, but on the road for the third week in a row. I’m currently sitting in an airport lounge waiting for my flight so I can come home, be home for two days, and then leave again. For the month of June, I will have been at home for a total of about 100 hours. That’s it.

It’s extremely rare that this sort of heavy travel comes to me but this is the first time in my entire career I have had to spend this much time away from home and when I saw that picture, I just felt like I should have been there.

I mean, I know I am not a bad dad. In fact, I know I am a good dad. But right now I feel like I’m turning into my own dad in that I’m never around. I should be in that photo with my wife and kids and not stuck in a classroom for the third week in a row.

I know that my work has me traveling and I also know that there are times when there is no travel so I have a lot of time at home, but right now, despite knowing these things, I still feel quite bad. I’m very anxious to get home, hug my kids, and enjoy every moment I have before I have to go again. Thankfully after next week, I finally get a little break from the road warrior status.

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Confessions of a Business Traveler

I’m sitting here in a little hotel about a five minute walk from the Tower of London in London, England. I went out for a walk earlier and found myself a bit depressed as I wasn’t even sure where to go. This is the fifth time I have been to London in a year and I find myself wondering what I should go see or do. I also realized that in seven years of working for Whitehill, this is the most repeat travel I have had to the same destination. But here I am, in a city of amazing history, and I find myself bored. Many folks who wonder how that’s even possible.

Although I love to share stories of travel, I do find myself in recent times being a little less willing to open up about my travels. Mostly because I don’t want to come off as being some sort of douche who shows off about the places I’ve traveled to. I’ve been very fortunate that my work has taken me to some nice places but a lot of people don’t get to travel at all so talking about it can sound a bit egotistical. If I talk about how I was in London for a week to someone who’s never left Moncton before, it can sound a bit douche-ey.

However, when the topic does come up, people are always asking me what it’s like to travel all the time with my work. People always seem to say things like “Oh it must be cool to get to see all these different places”. Yes, it is cool. I do enjoy it, but for all the places I get to see as part of my job, there’s a side to business travel that folks probably know nothing about. Today, I’m opting to share what it’s like to be in a job like mine. There are some nice perks but there are also some things you might not have thought of. Let’s break it down into pros and cons.


Seeing The World

Let’s get this right out of the way. I get to see the world. I have travelled all over the United States from Los Angeles, to New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Atlanta, St. Louis, Tampa, Boston, Portland, Chicago, and Dallas. I’ve also traveled to London now several times (along with a trip to Cardiff, Wales), and got a rare chance to go to Sydney & Brisbane Australia last year. I’ve even had a couple of trips to Toronto and one to Vancouver. So all in all, I do get to see some pretty nice places as part of the travel. Make no mistake, being able to see these places is an amazing opportunity and I soak in as much as I can when I go somewhere new. I took extra time in Australia to see Cairns, and did the famous Sydney Bridge Climb as well. I’ll take any chance I can to see and do something cool.

Points To Freedom

Secondly, I get to keep my points. The company I work for is very gracious enough to allow us folks who travel to keep the frequent flyer points we earn when we fly. As a result, I can use my points to fly other places when I have vacation time. I went to LA, Seattle, & Las Vegas on points and even took Tamara with me to Vegas and Tampa. I even flew my mother-in-law to London with me for a week as a Christmas gift. I’m also racking my points up currently to take the whole family on a trip next year. Having the points helps cut the costs for flights and even hotels. I stayed in a Halifax Hilton for a night a couple months ago at no charge using points.

Making Connections

In a world that is far more connected than it ever was, I’m now making friends around the world the old fashion way. Putting faces to names and actually getting to interact with people instead of seeing their names on a computer screen. We spend so much time interacting online that sometimes IRL interaction seems antiquated. As socially awkward as I can be meeting new people, my job forces me to be a bit more outgoing and meet these people I train so I have met quite a few interesting individuals in my travels.


There are plenty of other minor little perks/pros to traveling for my job but those are the ones that stick out the most.



Missing The Family

There are a lot of cons to traveling for your job. Let me start with a big one. I’m not at home with my family. I am fortunate enough to have a wife who supports my career and me in any way she can. But that doesn’t change the fact that when I am gone half of the month, she’s the one taking care of the kids. Speaking of kids, the kids miss me and I miss them. Thankfully technology makes it easier for me to stay in touch (when wifi works that is) and my trips are usually only a week at a time, but it can be hard to be away. I am very lucky to have a wife that is able to handle my travel as I know a lot of people who wouldn’t be able to deal with it. But still, being away from home for extended periods of time can be difficult.

When Do I Get To See Anything?

The whole “getting to see the world” thing is actually not quite what people think it is. A lot of people seem to think those of us who travel in our job are on vacation when we are in these other places. There’s no sight- seeing like there is when you don’t have work obligations. I spend my entire day standing in front of a class of students who are paying attention (usually) to every little word I say. My days usually run anywhere from 9am to 5:30pm depending on the client. By the time I am done, I am exhausted, my feet hurt, and many times I’ve got a sore throat from talking so much. A lot of times the last thing I feel like doing is going out and seeing anything. I mean how do you feel at the end of a long hard work day when you get home? Do you feel like going out? Not likely. But, many times I feel I should go out and try to see something because I am often in new places I’ve never been before so I should go see something shouldn’t I?

Add to that the fact that most museums, galleries, or other interesting places to see (typical tourist stuff) is all closed by the time my day is done. That means that the only real time I get to see anything is on the day I arrive after I have checked into a hotel. If I am lucky, I might book a vacation day or two ahead of or after my work trip but those meals and hotels are on me, not work. So the amount of time I actually get to “see” anything is very limited because I spend my days working. Yes, work is paying for me to be there, but they aren’t paying me to sight see. The only time I might get extra days that are covered by work is when it’s an overseas flight and extras nights are cheaper than flights. A single day can make a flight $1000 cheaper in some instances. It’s kind of crazy.

Airports, Delays, Crying Kids, and Cancellations

For folks who don’t travel by air often, there’s a novelty of being on an airplane. After having been on what I am sure is more than 100 flights, the novelty has worn off. Business travelers typically want to get to the airport, get through security, get on the plane, and to their seat as fast as they can because the sooner they get in that seat, the sooner they can relax while the flight is underway. The problem is, business travelers have to put up with everyone else.

This might sound a bit weird, but I’ve become a bit of an asshole when it comes to air travel. It drives me nuts standing behind the dumbass in security who has no clue about what to put on the belt to be screened, and sets the metal detector off, making me stand there and wait. It pisses me off to no end standing in the jetway waiting to get on the plane because some asshat on the plane is taking his good old time to take his jacket off, fold it nicely, and hold the entire line up because he forgot to take his phone out of the his bag and now has to do it. Put your shit away, sit down, and let everyone else pass first before you hold everyone up. Flights get delayed by hours because of people like this. Delays cause missed connections and can seriously muck up an entire day of travel. I just get to my seat and then I hear the screaming baby. I’ve had the screaming baby. I have two kids and know what it is like to deal with kids who won’t stop crying. I can’t get my headphones on fast enough.

Then there’s the constant fear of flights being delayed or cancelled. I’ve had plenty of flights cancelled and gotten stuck in airports waiting for the next flight. I even had to sleep in the terminal because all the hotels were full and my flight wasn’t until the next day. It’s even worse when you are on your way home, in your seat on the plane, with the plane on the runway about to take off, and the captain announces the flight has been cancelled due to bad weather. They turn the plane around and head back to the terminal. That’s when I want to look for a gun anywhere I can find one so I can shoot myself. I just want to come home.

Air travel is great in that we can go great distances in a relative short period of time, but dealing with airlines who won’t give you good reasons for delays or cancellations is very frustrating. I once had a flight delayed because the toilet was frozen. A colleague of mine had his flight cancelled because the flight attendant didn’t have the demo seat belt to do the safety walk through. My first flight on my Galapagos vacation was cancelled because the pilot couldn’t turn a knob counter-clockwise. I kid you not.

I average about 8-10 flights a month depending on how busy I am. For June, I will travel on 16 different flights, to four cities, in two countries, with two other cities being used for connections. Dealing with security lines, delays, cancellations, dumb travelers, and countless other air related follies is something that is both physically and mentally draining. The stress of flying is hard on the head, and running your ass off from one end of an airport to another is physically tiring. The last time I had to run for a flight, I ran all the way from the US connections portion of Pearson airport to the Canadian side in about 13 minutes. It was bad enough that when I got on the plane, I actually had the flight attendants a bit scared for my health as I did not look very good. I was definitely having a hard time breathing and the sweat was pouring off of me. Speaking of which, I really need to get in better shape. But, to add insult to injury, after running all that distance, the plane sat at the gate for about 45 minutes before it left. Talk about infuriate me.

Time Zones, Jetlag, & The Return

Currently it is 8:47pm where I am. But back home it’s 4:47. In exactly 7 days, it will be 3:47 and a week after that it will be 1:47, and the week after that, it will be 3:47. In the span of four weeks, I will have gone from Atlantic, to GMT, back to Atlantic, to Eastern, back to Atlantic, to Pacific, back to Atlantic, back to Eastern, and then back to Atlantic time. The general rule is it takes your body about a day per hour of time change to get back to normal. Looking at my schedule for June, when the hell will my body know when to sleep? Seriously, the time zone shifts mess with your sleeping habits and I’ve become semi-addicted to anything that can put me to sleep early because I’m always in another time zone. It can be hell. Maybe I should start reading blog posts like this one to put me to sleep.

That being said, when I finally do get home and get to stay home, I usually am quite pissy. Usually because I’ve been on a plane for so long and am just tired. It puts me on edge and makes me grumpy. It’s very hard to actually catch myself from snapping at others but I do my best knowing that it’s just my body adjusting back to being home. Getting in at 3am and then going to sleep doesn’t help either.

Then when I finally get myself back to normal, I have a little while before it all starts again. It is exhausting.

So with reading those points, do you still think it’s so awesome to travel for your work? Ironically, given the cons shown on this post, I actually do love the travel. I don’t like the cons I have listed, but you only get to live once and I have been given an opportunity to see parts of the world I would never otherwise have seen. So, I tolerate screaming babies on planes, shake my head at the 192 year old woman at the airport security who thinks her teeth will set off the alarms, and I take in everything I can. I know that the annoyances are worth it because they help me be able to make dreams of mine come true. The job I have is the reason me and Tamara get to go to Egypt and Jordan in November. No, work isn’t paying for it, but I would not have been able to afford it if I hadn’t taken this job. So I take the bad with the good because the good will always be worth it.

The next time you hear someone say they travel for their job, try and remember that there are perks to it, but it’s not all long vacations in cool spots. I said I traveled to some cool locations but I left out places like Livingston  New Jersey, Omaha  Nebraska, Blue Bell Pennsylvania (where I spent several hours in a hospital passing a kidney stone), and Utica New York. Sometimes you get to go to cool places. Other times you wonder where the hell you are and why anyone would want to live there.

Categories: Rants, Travel | Leave a comment


It’s 1:29AM and I am awake. I’m awake because a couple of days ago I was in Los Angeles and fully adjusted to Pacific time. That’s four hours behind Moncton time which means in about 2.5 hours, I’ll be ready to fall asleep. Despite being home since Friday at noon, I still feel myself unable to get back into routine things here.

Today was the big Fundy geocaching event and as proud as I am of what we did for that event and for Fundy themselves, I am still tired and feeling a bit blah about the whole thing. I talked to Tamara a bit about my thoughts on things tonite and it kinda goes like this.

I’m not someone who is very ego-centric. I try to be more humble than anything although I do think I sometimes come off as a bit show-offy when it comes to my travel. But when it comes to the things I do for geocaching, I really do try to be a lot more reserved. That being said, I’m pretty proud of myself for the things I have accomplished through my work under Cache Up NB. I mean, it’s something _I_ started. I took it on and moved it forward and look where it is today. It’s kind of amazing really.

I think that’s why when the appreciation comes in on days like today, I really need to soak it in as much as I can because it’s only the large things that people tend to really appreciate. It seems that when it comes to geocaching, and the stuff CUNB does, most people have no idea what goes on outside of a little website. It seems everytime I turn around it’s something else that we’re doing for people, but not a lot of folks realize, or acknowledge it. That’s why on days like today, it’s nice to hear a thank you and people supporting the work we do.

That being said, there are also times when I’m kind of tired of it all. I really do like the things I am doing but there are times when it feels like all this geocaching stuff is like another job. I don’t have many hobbies so I tend to throw myself into the few I have and I think this is where my passion is right now. The problem is, there are days, like tonite, where I’m jetlagged and really beat, but just not able to sleep cuz my head is swimming in what feels like 100 different things to do. Add to that, I’m supposed to leave the house at 7:30AM to go back to Fundy for another event. It just feels like a lot going on for just having gotten home.

Which is another thing. When I travel, it usually takes me a day or so to get my mood back to normal. I’m kind of an ass when I first get home. Short tempered and not much patience for much of anything. That’s the reason why I usually try to keep a low key for a day or so until things are sane. I guess that will have to wait until Monday.

I’m starting to yawn and my eyes are getting sore, and my typing is becoming error prone so I think it’s time to try to go back to bed. Hopefully I can get a few hours sleep before the madness begins again.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Android vs iOS

I read a very interesting article today and I really enjoyed it. What I enjoyed most about the article was the fact that this guy seemed to really hit the nail on the head about what should dictate which platform you should choose. His point of view was very in the middle and he made a very good point.

The jist of the article is that if you don’t own an iOS or Android device yet, then the choice is entirely in the air and you can simply try out whatever devices you like and the one that you like the most wins. The other side was if you were already an owner of a device on either platform, it’s probably best for you to stick with that platform. Now, this isn’t always true, but the more I think about it, the more it made sense.

I’ve had discussions with friends who are big Android players and they always tell me about how my iPhone is crap because blah blah blah. It’s usually the same arguments I see all over the web about walled gardens and lack of openness and so on. I’m not going to get into that discussion but I would like to present a point of view that is a bit in line with what Mr. Kingsley-Hughes is saying.

I got an iPhone through work when the 3G was released. At that time, Android wasn’t even worth looking at. Even the most diehard fans of that platform can admit that the early versions of the OS was complete shit. Apple had a huge gain on anyone in the mobile market at the time and it took a long time for Android to catch up, and now perhaps in some areas, exceed what Apple had started at. Regardless, the iPhone 3G was the first smartphone I ever owned. That was around five years ago. Since then, I have upgraded twice to an iPhone 4, and now an iPhone 5. As a tech-head, folks might wonder why someone like me would stick with a device that seems so anti-customizable vs the open Android platform. In the end, it comes down to one very simple concept addressed in the previously mentioned article. I started with an iPhone.

In the roughly five years I have owned an iPhone, I have gotten used to, and enjoy the way it works. I’ve paid a considerable amount of money for apps on my own phone as well as my wife’s iPhone and the iPad. I’m in that world and have enjoyed being in that world for sometime now. Given that I have already invested a good chunk of money into that platform, and I’m quite content with the way it works, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to jump ship to Android because some people claim it’s a better platform. To give you another example, I present to you the very old argument of PC vs Mac.

In the world we live in today, desktop and laptop computers are mostly running Windows with Mac, Linux, and other OSes taking up a small portion of the market. Why do people choose PCs over Macs? I would bet that in most cases, it’s because that was the technology they were introduced to first. Many folks who own Macs have owned them all along and that’s the only thing they have worked with until they HAD to use a PC. For most Windows users, they have no reason to switch to Mac because for them, there’s nothing overly compelling that makes them want to switch. Those that do switch do so either because they have come to despise the Windows environment, or an application they need is only available on the PC. The same might be true for those who switch from Mac to PC.

The same is now true in the world of mobile devices. If you started with an iPhone, odds are you’ll probably stay with it and the same is true for Android. Yes, for some who feel Apple has fallen short on the innovation train (which I actually agree with) you may opt to abandon the platform, but I would bet by far and large, most people stick to what they know. I know this because the market share never ever went towards Mac. It stuck with Windows. There’s a reason for that. People like what is familiar to them. People do not like change and this is still true with their mobile devices. Yes, Microsoft won with their marketing of Windows so we saw it everywhere, but how many people do you know that started on a Windows computer, jumped ship and went to a Mac? It’s not a large percentage. I’d bet the number is even smaller of those who started on Macs that went to a PC. People stick to what they know and like.

The other point on this discussion for me has to do with actual reasons for switching. As someone who is fully immersed in the iOS world, for me to switch to Android, or any other mobile platform for that matter, there has to be a good reason to jump ship. Android lovers will always try to sell the idea that Android is an “open” platform so you can do whatever you want with your device as a reason to switch. They’ll talk about how Apple’s walled garden makes it “impossible” for you to do many of the things you want to do and that this should be enough reason for you to jump ship. Lastly, they’ll mention how much more advanced the hardware is for Android devices compared to iOS. A lot of the newer mobile devices have a lot faster CPU & RAM than many of the iOS devices and thusly, this should be enough reason for me to jump ship. Android fans will also list off “dozens” of features that Android can do that iOS can’t do, but will conveniently forget to mention the things iOS can do that Android cannot. In that regard I see it as being a level playing field but in the hardware and open platform debate, I can see their point. I however have a different view.

If I’m using a device I am comfortable with, the apps I run on it run very well and very effectively, and I am perfectly happy with the apps I have available to me, how does any of those “advantages” to Android actually help me? If I find the apps on my iPhone launch and run very fast and quickly, how is having a faster processor going to help me? Instead of it taking 1.5 seconds to launch an app, it takes 1.25 seconds. Does that really constitute a “need” to switch platforms? CPU & RAM enhancements are fine if you are running applications that require excessive CPU & RAM. I would argue that because Apple has such strict criteria on what apps can go on a device, they insure that only ones that will provide a quality experience pass the test and get approved. Therefore speed issues don’t really account into the equation.

A person has to really evaluate exactly what it is they use their device for and how well they use it. If I really like the way my device works and how I interact with the OS and the apps on it, any “new” device I get needs to be able to provide that exact same experience as good if not better than what I am used to. Beyond that, any new device has to “wow” me into wanting to change.

What I am really trying to get at is that if you take the best Android device and the best iOS device and put them side by side, much like what Adrian is talking about, they will compare quite evenly. Some things will work better on one vs the other, and some features will differ on each device, but at the end of the day, there’s no “killer feature” that exists exclusively on Android that makes a user go “WOW!” and their jaw drops and realize they NEED to switch today. Yes, I know that some of the Android phones support things like NFC which doesn’t exist on iOS, but since there’s no real standards for that in place yet, it doesn’t really help gain any credibility to Android’s support of them. And yes I’m sure some of the Android fans out there would point out other “features” that are nice that iOS lacks, but I would always come back and say that it’s more icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Little things are nice but if I’m going to abandon a platform I have invested a considerable amount of time, and money into, there better be a real good reason to do it.

Both platforms perform very well but there’s no killer apps or killer features. Think about the reaction the world had when the original iPhone was released. That was a game changer. Before then, smartphones looked like a Blackberry. Look where we are today? People saw what Apple was doing and went “WOW! We need to do something like that.” and now look at the mobile world. If all of a sudden Android phones came out with some sort of holographic projection phone calls, now THAT would be a WOW moment and something to consider jumping ship for. Letting me play my music or videos on certain models of smart TVs is not a killer feature. It’s called Airplay and iOS has had it for some time. It always seems that one platform releases a feature and then shortly thereafter, the other platform releases a similar app. The turnaround time is usually very quick. How long did it take Android to get to where iOS is today? It didn’t happen in a couple of months. It took several years. I’d love to see Android do the same to Apple because then I would seriously consider switching. But as it is now, it’s the status quo. Copy the same stuff your competitor made, say it’s better and now you’re even. Both Android & Apple are guilty of this but it still doesn’t yield the “killer feature”. When is Android finally going to do something that’s over the top and make people go “WOW!” like Apple did when the iPhone was released? If the feature is awesome enough, I’ll jump onboard.

Apple’s innovation has definitely died off in the last little while, but ultimately, I haven’t seen anything that jaw dropping from the Android community yet. If you want folks to switch from iOS to Android, you need to give them a killer reason to do so. Right now, it’s really just more of the same.


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My Displeasure With The UK Health Clinics

It’s Friday and in a few hours I start my journey home from Philly. I only had about 18 hours of being home last weekend after being in the UK for a week. To top it off, I was awful sick that week so it made for a horrible trip. However, the worst was a trip to a local clinic in an attempt to help myself. Here’s a little tale of my trip to London and how it made me physically ill.

It was mid-February and Tamara and the kids had been pretty sick. Somehow it managed to skip me and just hit them. But by the time Wednesday night came along, I was feeling it and waking up on Thursday I was definitely sick. Unfortunately because I had a training class to give that week, there was no sick days for me.

By the time Saturday came along, I was feeling a whole lot better but had to travel that day. I was headed to London via Toronto so I left Moncton at 7pm and thought all would be fine. My plan was to take a sleeping pill at 11pm and sleep on the plane and wake up in London feeling pretty good. Well, that never happened.

Instead, I landed in Toronto to find it in the middle of a blizzard. A freak storm hit the city and only lasted about two hours but was enough to completely screw up flights going out of the city. Delay after delay hit until finally at about 2:45AM, Air Canada cancelled the flight. Now, I fly AC a lot and I normally have no issues with them but what they did this time around was pretty sad. They didn’t bother to tell anyone the flight had been cancelled until after folks around got the notices on their phones. Then they refused to re-book everyone telling them they had to do it themselves. I then had to spend the next 6 hours or so sitting/sleeping in the airport to try and get back on the next flight.

After not being able to sleep in the airport, and not getting any rest, I felt the illness hit me again and by the time I hit London, I was a mess. I managed to get a little rest but I basically spent the entire week just barely pushing myself through my training class, coming back to my hotel, and going to bed. But after all of that, the one thing that irritated me the most was when I went to try and get some medical help from a local clinic.

I found myself at a clinic and got an appointment but was told that because I wasn’t a UK citizen, I had to pay a 50 pound fee to see a doctor. I expected this which was fine. But when I got into the dr’s office, he told me because I was Canadian there was nothing he could do for me and more or less told me to get out. I had paid 50 pounds (about 78 dollars CDN) for absolutely nothing. I WAS PISSED!

I was not able to get a refund but wrote a VERY nasty review of that clinic on the NHS website and have also written them a letter telling them they are nothing more than scam artists sucking money out of people who aren’t from their country. I never felt like such a second class citizen. I can tell you that this experience has seriously dampened my opinion of London. I always thought of it as kind of a cool place but after going through that, my opinion has been tainted.

I have two more trips there this year and trust me, if I have to see a doctor there again for any reason, I’ll be damn sure to get the facts straight before I go anywhere.

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The Decline of Microsoft

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile  but I only decided to sit down and write about it now since I’ve kind of need a break from my work writing. This time around I want to take a little jab at a company that used to make a difference in the tech world: Microsoft.

Back in the days when I was in college, Microsoft was a company that everyone both hated and loved at the same time. This was a company that owned the operating system market as well as the desktop office application world. I remember the days of me and my friend Chris saying that Bill Gates was the devil because his software was everywhere. NT4 came out and eventually lead to Windows 2000 and beyond. Many corporations were moving away from Novell and taking on the Microsoft platform and it just seemed like they were a big company that was never going to go anywhere.

Then, in 2000, Bill Gates stepped down as CEO and took a back burner to new CEO Steve Ballmer. Gates remained in some capacity for a few more years until eventually giving up his controlling interest to allow Ballmer to do more on his own with the company.

Now, Windows XP was released in 2001 and this is an OS which quickly became the standard for all desktop PCs. Everywhere you looked there was XP. This was the first desktop OS to be released after Gates had stepped down as CEO. Now given that Gates still controlled some of the direction of the company, XP came out of that. That was also the same year that the XBox came out. Yes, there were other software releases as well but those are definitely two things that stand out as perhaps the last big things to hit while Gates still had some control of the company.

After that, the next “big” thing to come from Microsoft would be in 2007 with the release of the much anticipated new desktop OS, Vista. This would be the first major desktop release under Ballmer’s stewardship. After suffering an onslaught of delays, code changes, feature changes and removals, the software hit the shelves. This was supposed to be the replacement to XP and was supposed to be the next greatest thing in desktop OSes. It fell flat. Considered one of the biggest blunders in Microsoft’s history, the flack they got over Vista was enormous. Many machines wouldn’t boot, wouldn’t activate, and countless supposedly supported hardware didn’t work with the OS at all. It was a complete and total disaster.

It would take two years for Microsoft to finally admit that they had made a mess and fixed it with Windows 7. Ballmer himself even admitted that they dropped the ball on Vista. But that was just the beginning.

Microsoft released Office 2007 with what was considered the single worst UI “improvement” in Office’s history. The “ribbon” incorporated into the product was abhorred by users everywhere. Countless requests and calls came in for that feature to be pulled and changed back to what was working just fine before.

Since then, Microsoft has released several versions of it’s mobile platform, which has never really gone anywhere. Their tablets have shown to be subpar compared to what Android and iOS are doing. They released their long awaited follow up to Windows 7, Windows 8 (gee that’s original) which has been somewhat panned by critics as being a miss of tablet attempt vs desktop overhaul.

It seems that in a world that is now moving away from the PC, Microsoft is sitting in the back waving it’s hands and saying “Hey!!! We still matter!!!” while not bothering to put out anything of actual use.

I find myself wondering where Microsoft will be 10 years from now. At one time I would have thought that this is a company that wasn’t going anywhere. But now it seems that everytime they release something new, it just seems so out of date compared to what other companies are doing. They continue to play catch up and aren’t really doing much in the way of innovation. Their inability to understand that the mobile market is really where things are moving is going to be their undoing. Unless they find a way to successfully transition the traditional PC desktop to something more mobile, the days of Microsoft’s king of the hill status are numbered. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Microsoft one day end up much like Word Perfect did so many years ago. Pushed out of the way by other products who had a much better mass appeal.

Personally, I think Ballmer needs to go. Microsoft is falling behind and the best way for them to restart is to pull the plug on the man who brought us Vista.

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