Category Archives: Apple

Apple TV multiplayer and 3-D games list

Since I have had no luck finding such a list online, I plan to start a new Apple TV page that will cover the various multiplayer and 3-D games.

Multiplayer implies more than one player at the same time. There is no category for this in the app store, so unless the developer puts that word in the description, you won’t find these games with a search.

I was very surprised to find that the new 4th generation Apple TV supports 3-D content. The Pangea Software games (some of which I’d played on the Mac years ago) are the only ones I’ve found so far that work in 3-D. Really neat.

Check out the page.

More tech whiners: Dongles

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana

Tech pundits are complaining about new Macs that only come with a USB-C port. “We have to have dongles for everything!” And the sky is falling.

I think back to 1998, when the original Bondi blue iMac came it. It had no floppy drive. It has no parallel printer port. It had no RS232 serial port. It had no ADB (some kind of Apple port; I never had any Apple stuff before the iMac so it meant nothing to me).

To hook up a modem, you needed a USB adapter (much more than just a dongle).

To hook up a parallel printer, you needed a USB adapter.

To hook up a SCSI hard drive, or a serial mouse, or an ADB accessory, or anything else … you needed a USB adapter.

And I remember that the Tech Whiners whined about this back then, too. And there was pain. USB adapters were expensive and sparse.

But today, USB is on everything. No more dongles are needed.

You know what I bet? I bet USB-C will do that same thing, and soon everything will just be USB-C.

We’ve been down this road before, folks.

Can you imagine how many different ports you’d need on your Mac (or PC) if this had not happened? I guess that’s what the Tech Whiners want…

Next time … keyboards.

Apple’s hold music, and Apple Care+ procedure.

Many things that are very simple and obvious ideas were, at one time, uncommon or non-existent. Obviously a touch screen display makes sense today, but perhaps not so much before the iPhone was introduced in 2007. Anyone who ever used the then state-of-the-art World Key Information kiosks at E.P.C.O.T. in 1982 knows that touch screens have been around for decades, but multi-touch was one of those breakthroughs that we take for granted and expect today.

I recently called Apple and ran in two things I had not encountered before but was such an obvious idea I expect everyone is doing it this way and I just did not know.

First … Their automated system, when informing me there would be a short wait for a representative, gave me a choice of three types of hold music, or silence. I could choose modern pop songs, classical, or jazz.
I know I am not the only one who has made jokes about lousy or annoying hold music. By giving the caller some choices (including “none”), that problem has disappeared.

I don’t know who invented this now-obvious concept, but I will now always associate it with an Apple experience.

And second … After speaking to the representative, instead of him asking me for a credit card number (which I always hate reading out aloud in a public space), he informed me that a link was sent to my e-mail and I could complete the process securely through the website.

What? No more whispering trying to read a credit card number quietly so my cubical neighbor can’t write it down and order pizza using it? What an obvious idea when calling in about a device that does e-mail.

I expect everyone does it this way, now, and I have just been under a rock. Or maybe this is new and exciting. Either way, hold music and phone transactions will never been the same for me moving forward.

On a related side note, the Apple Care procedure is very streamlined these days. To verify a device’s qualification, you can read the serial number to the automated robot, or key press in the EMEI number (if it’s a phone/data device). That let the system know about my device and tell me it’s warranty status over the phone. When the rep answered, they already knew what device I was calling about. And, when they wanted to see if my device was qualified, they had me go in to a Settings/Privacy section and a new link appeared (initiated by Apple support) which let me run diagnostics and (with my approval) share it with Apple. They were then able to tell “stuff” about my device – probably if it had detected drops or damage.

Fascinating.

I’m going back to my rock now. All this change in one phone call is more than I can handle right now.

Another Apple difference…

I was shocked when I found an item from Apple that appeared to be in one of those plastic blister packs. I absolutely hate these things — it seems I have to tear the cardboard apart to get the memory card or whatever out of the package, forever ruining it. For anything pricy or significant, I like to keep the original packaging around so I can still have it when I sell the item later on e-Bay 😉

Why would Apple do this?

Is Apple really using a "blister pack" style package that you have to tear apart to get the product out?

Is Apple really using a “blister pack” style package that you have to tear apart to get the product out?

Before I began to tear in to the cardboard, I flipped it over to see what I was up against. It appears Apple had a better way. On the back was a hole to get the item out with a piece of plastic covering it. There was a small tab on one end which made it easy to pull…

Flipping the package over reveals Apple included an access hole, covered in a small sticker with a tab to use to pull it off.

Flipping the package over reveals Apple included an access hole, covered in a small sticker with a tab to use to pull it off.

The plastic cover could be rolled back easily, or removed completely.

The tab can be pulled out of the way, or removed completely, and even stuck back if you want to put the item back for safe keeping. Nice.

The tab can be pulled out of the way, or removed completely, and even stuck back if you want to put the item back for safe keeping. Nice.

Someone at Apple knew the frustration with this, and designed a better way to do it. I was impressed by this.

Anyone who has experienced a high end restaurant, custom tailored suit, or luxury car already knows there are fine details you get at the higher end. I, myself, don’t really care. They never seem to be worth the extra money for the extra “goodness” you get. But with Apple, the bits of polish seem to be everywhere – from the boxes the products come in, to the interesting ways they design their booklets or even cable straps.

I don’t know what impressed me about this silly little plastic tab and made me want to write this article, but … it did.

Another Apple Maps win over Bing and Google

One of my hobbies is bicycle riding on my nearly 20-year old Trek bike. Today, an article popped up about a local bicyclist who was hit by a car. A location was given (63rd and Tyler Avenue) and I was curious if that was anywhere I frequently ride.

I have been using Bing rewards lately to earn gift cards ($5 so far; let me know if you want to sign up and you can use my referral link) so I headed to Bing Maps to search. Tyler Avenue was not found.

I checked Google Maps next and it also couldn’t find the location. When I tried to just find the street (Tyler Avenue), Google could find no reference at all.

I then loaded Apple Maps and it located the spot immediately.

As I go to type this up, I am redoing my searches. Now, Bing is finding it with no problem (which seems odd, unless it has adjusted from people searching for it today due to this being all over the news). Google doesn’t even show the road that both Bing and Apple maps show (no wonder Google can’t find it). Amusingly, the street sign is clearly in the Google Streetview image from the intersection.

At this point, Bing and Apple maps both can find it, but Google cannot. I am puzzled why Bing could not (unless it had something to do with me searching on a mobile device earlier in the day, versus desktop later).

I am glad we have choices. A month ago, I would have just searched in Google and if it wasn’t there, I’d assume the article was wrong.

Now if Bing and Apple could add bicycle trails to their maps, maybe I wouldn’t be using Google maps at all these days.