Cuba Is NOT Covered in Your T-Mobile Data Plan!

But over 140 other countries are included at no charge and wow, thank you T-Mobile for this honest and useful text message!

It is amazing how mobile communication has unified the world. A T-Mobile customer can take their phone from Argentina to Venezuela in South America and from Bahrain to Zambia in the Middle East / Africa enjoying free 2G data and texting at no charge. Voice calls are only $0.20 a minute.

To be fair, T-Mobile has its share of problems. Some truly terrible customer service, overloaded networks, a lack of coverage outside of major cities, and a load of salespeople in stores that could benefit from adult supervision top the list, but overall they are pushing the industry toward more open and fair access for all. They have also forced the duopoly of AT&T and Verizon into cleaning up some of their horrible business practices.

Some people think the world gets worse and worse every year, but in truth some of the changes brought about by technology are for the better. Global communication is one area that is critical to creating a better world. On a side note, one of our fellow travelers pre-paid AT&T $5,000 for unlimited voice / data service in Cuba. Ouch!

Acoustics – Apple’s Future is ‘Ear’

Last month’s recap ended by citing one expert’s opinion (John Kirk) that the future of Apple is potentially intimately entwined with acoustics. His article, “Apple’s Future is Ear” from Tech.pinions provided a detailed analysis of the historical and current events leading to his conclusion. It’s obviously a clever title. To summarize, the author thinks that Apple is paving the way for an audio user interface accessed through the soon to be released Apple AirPods. This is not as far fetched as it sounds. Siri had an early lead in this area and currently Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Now personal assistants are gaining popularity. What didn’t do well was the visually based system called Google Glass. Due to its invasive nature, people who wore them became known as “Glassholes.”

With all the negative press about Apple these days, I was concerned that Kirk’s lengthy analysis might be fundamentally flawed so I took the time to carefully reread the almost 7,000 word post. I came away even more convinced that the naysayers do not understand Apple’s core values when it comes to innovation. Buried right in the middle of Kirk’s article is the section called “Socially Awkward.” In it, he says “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that resistance to the new AirPods is anything new. There has never been a meaningful change that wasn’t resisted by self-righteous, holier-than-thou, know-it alls” and goes on to list the “technologies” that have fallen into the same category such as the cell phone, Walkman, radio, automobile, bicycle, phonograph, and kaleidoscopes, and books. “Novels were considered to be particularly abhorrent. In 1938, a newspaper ran an article with some top tips for stopping your kids from reading all the time.”

It’s true that Siri is not up to the job yet, but as Kirk points out, Apple has always had a long-term plan and the benefits would transform the technology world… again. A few of the benefits of an AirPods based interface could include:

  • Walking instructions – Which are in their infancy, but on their way… It’s not a good idea to look at a screen while walking.
  • Spatial awareness – They’ll remind us to take the mail with us when we leave the house, and to buy toilet paper when we pass by the local supermarket.
  • Contextual awareness – Sensors in the device will know if we are in conversation and will break in only with the most important verbal notifications.

Kirk mentions many more and the quotes he uses to support his assertions are wonderful. The entire piece is a far cry from the negative knee jerk reactions that are filling the Apple news outlets lately. Overall, the Tech.pinions website seems to be true to its name. It has “the singular vision of providing the technology industry with quality opinion based columns.” They also explain that they “only allow contributions by those who have credible, respected, original, authoritative and informed opinions on the technology industry.” From the balanced, high quality articles they post, I believe them.

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The Rise of the Incompetent Experts

Recently, the backlash against Apple has become relentless. Even the more mature, balanced sources for news from experts have begun to take potshots.

donglesOne reason for this is related to the growing number of “Incompetent Experts” online, also known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. As Wikipedia explains, the D-K effect is “a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.” It has become so prevalent recently that ArsTechnica published an excellent post on it called, “Revisiting Why Incompetents Think They’re Awesome” based on the original APA paper “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments (PDF).

Of course, when it comes to technology, Reddit has the largest number of incompetent experts. The Verge article mentioned above was only five hours old when I wrote this and it already had almost 500 comments on Reddit. It’s hard to understand the haters. Apple transformed the personal computer first with the Apple II, then with the Graphical User Interface in the original Mac, the music industry with the iPod / iTunes, the mobile phone with the iPhone, the laptop with the MacBook Air, and tablets with the iPad. You would think by now people would give Apple the benefit of the doubt, but these so-called experts have proclaimed (again) that their newest products are flawed in a huge wide variety of ways.

One corollary of the effect is that it is hard to tell who is really an expert without a basic level of expertise. Also a true expert opinion might be “context sensitive,” i.e. an expert with an opinion that helps one person might be completely inappropriate for a slightly different person or situation. The article explains this in detail in sections entitled, “Context is everything,” “Culture complicates things,” and “Education and work.”

Of course, this effect not only applies to Apple: In the first paragraph of the ArsTechnica article, the author points out tongue-in-cheek, “Another election day in the US is rapidly approaching (Tuesday, Nov. 8—mark your calendars!). So for no reason in particular, we’re resurfacing our close examination of the Dunning-Kruger effect from May 25, 2012.”

Resumen Mensual: Bienvenidos a Apple Vía Santa Fe

En Septiembre cerca de 200 empleados celebraron la apertura de Apple Vía Santa Fe en México. Fotos como esta demuestran la forma en la tecnología puede salvar las diferencias culturales. Esto es especialmente importante hoy cuando parece que el mundo se ha vuelto más dividido.

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Translation: In September about 200 employees celebrated the opening of Apple Via Santa Fe in Mexico. Photos like this show how technology can bridge cultural differences. This is especially important today when it seems the world has become more divided.

Even the website for the new store has that familiar Apple look and feel with the same kinds of support services and workshops. Several years ago, the region I managed included Mexico and I found professionals in that country to be very similar to the US. The biggest difference was the way they treated their equipment. With fewer resources and higher prices, equipment that was decades old looked brand new despite constant use.

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However, the new Apple store in Mexico and the two year old store in Brazil are the only two stores in Central / South America (versus 286 stores in the US). While the reasons for this are based on complex economic, cultural, and political issues, it still highlights how technology can create a common ground that transcends perceived differences. Obviously Apple is only a small part of this, especially when Google’s estimated 80% worldwide mobile operating system market share and Microsoft’s desktop dominance is factored in. Also, Google’s amazing “Translate” capability is rapidly breaking down barriers to global communication. I’ve added the Google Translate plugin to the right hand column of this website if you’d like to try it.

What is needed next is awareness of global issues. It’s an especially critical issue in the United States where xenophobia is widespread. Less than 50% of US citizens have a passport! Earlier this month, the post “Apple Watch: Don’t Forget to Breathe” explored the contribution that the new “Breathe” app for the Apple Watch is making. It reminds people to take a minute for “mindful breathing” a couple times a day. Now imagine if global mindfulness were added to the equation. It’s certainly something we all share as humans. As the immortal John Lennon wrote in his eponymous song, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.”

Apple Watch: Don’t Forget to Breathe

Back in May, investors were angry about the lack of innovation from Apple. The stock price had hit a two year low and many had sold shares, except for Warren Buffet who bought $1B more! Then the iPhone 7 was released. Suddenly the controversy shifted to the headphone jack. The news was filled with stories about the “Apple Conspiracy” surrounding removing this 19th century technology. There were multi-page analyses written on the reasons and results of this decision, positive and negative. People threatened to switch to Android, but Samsung was nice enough to discourage that switch by releasing a phone that tends to unexpectedly explode into flames.

What a difference a week makes! Now the current problem is lack of availability. The iPhone 7 Plus and Jet Black color for both new models are already sold out, “Anger Consumes iPhone 7 Queues at Apple Stores.”

breathePlease everybody, stop and take a deep breath! Luckily, the Breathe App is one of the best new features of the Apple Watch. You don’t even need to buy anything. Watch OS 3 has Breathe built-in, turned on by default, and it costs nothing to upgrade. Sure, there were apps for this before, but making it part of Watch OS is a powerful statement.

So thank you Apple for not only encouraging us stand-up every hour, but also taking it a step further by adding mindful breathing every five hours. Maybe that minute of reflection a couple times a day will help drop the collective stress level. Now THAT would a true innovation!

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