Robert’s Ramblings

Robert Alonso’s Thoughts on Technology and More…

Archive for September, 2008

September-12-08

Sway

Posted by Robert Alonso under Books, Opinions

“Sway – The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior” is an excellent read for all business people. When you finish the book, you’ll get the feeling of having experienced many of the sways that are discussed. It is very easy to get caught up in behavior that is detrimental to one’s business and personal life. The book explores many of the ways that we sabotage our relationships and suggests indirectly how to avoid them.

Each chapter is dedicated to one form of irrational behavior. This keeps things simple and makes the book easier to read and digest. The authors are two brothers; Ori and Rom Brafman. Their writing style is enjoyable and full of examples from real life studies that are easy to relate to. One of these involves first round NBA picks and how they are likely to perform versus other players with identical skills who are not first round picks. The answers are quite revealing and will teach you that it is important to be a better judge of skills and character.

Other examples in the books show how compensating people with bonuses can sometimes be detrimental to achieving the desired results. It turns out that we are more willing to help someone for free than we are to help if we are offered a token of appreciation that we do not value much. The authors and the studies that they cite contend that the brain processes altruistic responses in a distinct part of the brain that is often at odds with the part of the brain that wants compensation or pleasure. They maintain that these two areas of the brain compete when something is perceived as both altruistic and rewarding.

I recommend the book. You can get your copy at Amazon or other book stores everywhere.

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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September-6-08

iPhone Issues

Posted by Robert Alonso under Hardware, Opinions, Service, Software

Those of you who have been reading this blog know that I have become a big fan of the iPod Touch and iPhone 3G software. The base software on these devices is a remarkable feat of software engineering. There is no denying this–especially after you have used Windows Mobile on a phone or some of the other music players that are available.

As you might expect, all is not perfect–it never is. Apple has demonstrated remarkable greed with the release of the iPod Touch and iPhone 3G. One example of this is that many of the cables that worked with previous iPods do not work with the new iPod Touch or iPhone. These include car chargers and USB docking stations not sold or licensed by Apple. The iPod Touch and iPhone do not have a way of outputting video to a TV set without an Apple purchased cabled that plugs into the flat connector at the bottom of the unit. The standard AV mini plug only outputs audio. Previous iPod generations sent audio and video out through the jack. The cables were swapped around to encourage people to pay extra for the Apple branded cable. The new setup apparently checks for some Apple chip or signal and requires the Apple part. This is just greedy on Apple’s part.

The cable situation made a video cable that I owned, a car charger and travel charger obsolete. Needless to say, I am not happy about this. Since I have owned several iPods over the years, I also own a Bose SoundDock for listening to music in my kitchen and dining area. It also has served as a charger for the kids iPods and my wife’s iPod. Unfortunately, the new iPhone will not charge on the Bose device. It says that it is not a compatible device. This is one of the premier third party products for the iPod line and Apple has now made it less useful to me. It can play music from my iPhone, but will not charge. Again, this is Apple greed.

One would think that Apple would not have made the Bose SoundDock user base experience any problems, since they now resell the dock on their web site. Perhaps newer models do not experience the issues that I am experiencing. These signs of Apple greed will make me think twice about further purchases from the company.

Other issues that I have experienced with the iPhone include poor data connectivity and no signal for calling. At seemingly random times, I cannot access web sites or my e-mail through the device. It often seems that it is not the connections, but instead some sort of DNS resolution issue. DNS resolution is when a server is called upon to convert a web site address like alonso.com to the numeric address for the server on which it resides. The “no signal” issue has plagued the iPhone from the very first day that I had it. I will get a message that there is no signal and will need to restart the device for it to find a signal. This is reminiscent of restarting a Windows PC that is running a bit slowly.

Although every issue I’ve mentioned so far takes away from what could otherwise be a perfect product, the one issue that really rankles me the most is that you cannot buy applications from anyone other than Apple. This was presumably done to guarantee the quality of the applications. I can tell you that having downloaded dozens of applications (some of which I have removed now) most of them are full of bugs and crash all the time. I use the New York Times application to read articles from the paper on-line and have to load it at least four times to get through a lengthy article. It continually crashes without any error message. Apple is not delivering a quality experience with the third party software. Unlike music which you can buy from Apple or from any third party and then install on your iPod with the iTunes software, the applications have to purchased and downloaded from Apple. This give Apple the ability to prohibit certain types of applications. One application that was released on the Apple store–presumably by mistake–called Netshare was removed and has not been seen since. It enables an iPhone 3G owner to share the 3G connection using WiFi so that a laptop can connect to the Internet through the iPhone. I managed to get a copy while it was listed, but now have no way up getting upgrades. This is horrible market control and should be investigated by the Federal Trade Commission.

Now it is up to you to decide whether you can live with Apple’s greed and ridiculous control.

Robert Alonso
Alonso Consulting

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