Journalists are happy. They can use the “beleaguered” word again.

Journalists are wetting themselves with the news that Apple’s sales have dropped 30% year on year. They think it’s the end of innovation at Apple, they think it’s that people are sick of upgrading or just don’t need new features.

Really?

It’s a couple of factors.

Firstly, Apple has said multiple times that their growth market (China) remains very soft due to a continued weakness in the market but the trend for smartphone sales are down across the board (6% drop). Huawei might be on a rise (50% increase) but Samsung, Xaomi are all down too.

Secondly, this is Apple’s plan. They know that the appetite for new phones is changing – they’ll still produce premium phones for a premium market but they are really taking notice of the inheritance market – where a premium phone is handed down to another family member. This is why ios12 focused on performance – bringing the iPhone 5s (and later) back to life and offering cheap battery replacements. The 5s was debuted in 2013. There’s no other vendor treating aged phones like this. Apple finally realises that services – such as Music, TV, Pay…are the real growth regions globally.

The downturn in sales for other vendors with their short term upgradability and poor quality hardware will hurt them in the long run. But their sales will look good because people are forced to buy new. Their profits on the other hand…

e.g.

Apple profit for this quarter was $11 billion (down about 10%), Samsung was down 60% to $5 billion. And Samsung’s profits on their mobile business was considerably worse.

Journalists know that Apple stories are excellent clickbait. Apple fans always go to read and Android/Windows fans often go to gloat.

AirDrop – halfway there

Jason Snell writes on SixColors:

With AirDrop, Apple has come up with a simpler way to pass files around. In doing so, it’s made traditional file sharing seem old and fussy. So my modest proposal to Apple is to take AirDrop and expand its powers. Let people in homes and offices use it to drop files to each other, even if they’re not fortunate enough to be sitting right next to each other. Apple, you did your job and you did it well—I’ve utterly embraced AirDrop. But now I want more.

AirDrop is definitely half-baked.

Not only should I seamlessly (and without any need to accept) be able to send a file to any Apple device that I’ve got an iCloud login active – no matter where they are in the world, but I should be able to add iCloud IDs to my favourites list and send direct to people because I know their ID.

I try to avoid sending photos through email so I currently use iCloud Photo Sharing with the family – which is a workaround. I’d much rather have address book groups that I could iCloudShare to my hearts content.

And can we have Back To My Mac working again? Maybe add Macs to our locations in Files? I wanna be able to root around in my archives for files. Or put files in other folders other than desktop or documents in a simple interface.

Yeah, I’d like this on iOS but I’d be happy with it being in a new productivity focused padOS considering that I’ve moved my Mac from a slightly creaky MacBook Pro to an even freakier iMac 27″ since I got the iPad Pro 12.9. (Apple may not be pleased with me as I’m finding it hard to justify a Mac when the iPad does 90% of everything I need).

So, come on Apple. Help me get my productivity up to 100%

Some things I don’t understand about the Knowledge Economy Report

And so maybe someone else can explain it to me.

I love the team down at Catalyst. For as long as I’ve known about them, they have been fighting the good fight in the face of overwhelming bureaucracy and mediocrity from government. Catalyst succeed in spite of government, not because of it.

But….

The End of the Oil Age

Oil is a naturally occurring liquid found within rock formations. Oil has been used for over 5000 years by humans but only where it was easily accessible. The growing energy demands of humans were met previously by wood, coal and whale oil.

In the 1850s, the world saw the first successful use of a ‘modern’ drilling rig on a well drilled specifically to produce oil. If it weren’t for this, there probably wouldn’t be any whales left in the world. We would have massacred every one to light our homes. And that’s where the benevolence of the ‘oil industry’ starts and stops.

In the 1980s, I first heard of the term ‘peak oil’. It was the idea that the mining and refining of oil would get to the point where it could become uneconomical to produce petroleum products. As it happened, government subsidies and vast increases in price meant that peak oil was met, passed and reclassified. We would just pay more for fossil fuel; we were fossil fuel addicts.

Modern oil drilling only started in the late 1850s on continental North America. Now, 160 years later, we can see the end of the “oil age”. You only have to look at the pumps here in the UK – rising more than 30% in less than 5 years.

I would encourage everyone to look at lower consumption technology – not just transport and heating but also computing. Solar panels have dropped more than 80% in cost in the last five years (per Watt). A house can be cheaply kitted out with solar panels and a wind turbine to provide the majority of a household energy needs (storage is an issue, but distribution is not). Solutions for storage will evolve.

On Prayer

Some friends might feel offended by this but this is my thoughts and I’ll do my best to explain them. I’m not criticising people, but behaviours.

Someone recently said that they’d pray for me. We had shared a few conversations about my recent past and my current path. And I appreciate the intent. It’s explained to me that someone saying they will pray is really just them saying “good luck with that” or “I hope it works out”. And that’s a lot better. Or it sits better in this atheists craw.

But really I don’t want prayer. Or hope.

Last week at an albergue in Grañón I attended a “meditation” session where there was a little bit of God talk but we were asked why we were doing the Camino. I gave my answers.

I’m still the “walking wounded” even after nearly three years. I gave up something amazing “for the best” and I regret it every day. There’s no peace in my heart and mind as a result. I don’t think for a second that 500 miles of blisters and tendonitis will resolve this so it’s not really for resolution that I walk. It might be for something else. Paul says that the Camino will put something in my way for the best. And sometimes I wish I had his faith.

The Camino itself might look like a holiday but its hours of walking on hot gravel, lying in a bed in the afternoon feeling shooting pains from the bone bruises in your feet, trying to sleep while the room filled with snorers attempts to cause the roof to fall in and being endlessly patient with other humans when sometimes all you want is silence and solitude. We bear it all with a smile because these annoying humans we walk with are actually just as wounded as we. And as a Humanist I think humans are wonderful anyway so, I guess maybe that has to rub off. In the middle of the night I may swear under my breath at the snorers but I’d give them my portion of bread and water the very next day. Such is life.

But back on the subject of prayer.

Don’t pray for me. Or hope for me. When I’ve been at my lowest ebb, people have generally avoided me. Not reached out. Not done anything practical. And some took the opportunity to kick me further.

If you really wanted to help, you’d help. Not just stand around offering hopes. If you bleed, I’ll get out my first aid kit. If thirsty my water. Hungry my bread. Cold? Have my blanket. Phone running low? Have a battery. Lost a cable? Borrow my spare. Pack too heavy? I’ll carry it.

This is my Camino. To do my best for my fellow humans.

Those closest to me know what I want more than anything. I’m bleeding and they pray. My burden’s too heavy, so they hope.

This is my Camino. To endure what has been put before me.

I don’t expect anyone to change. Or do anything more than hope and pray. And even if they did, it’s too late. Three years is too long. And a lot of water has passed under that bridge. But I dream of what could happen if they acted rather than hoped. If they did something other than pray.

This is my Camino. To expect less of others.

My pack is heavy, my feet sore. My brow furrowed, my arms and neck brown. My hat is soaked with sweat, my shoulders cramped.

Don’t ban scooters. Redesign streets.

[Read the article]

Of course, some of us have been saying this for years.

Remember when the Segway debuted? There was a reported conversation that everyone derided. Apparently Steve Jobs, on viewing the prototype Segway with Dean Kamen, said that we would design cities around this thing. It was backed publicly and financially by Jeff Bezos.

How the media laughed.

And now the media are calling for us to redesign cities to cope with new PEV (personal electric vehicles) designs. Of course, all of this is a little moot for the UK as the Tory government failed to deliver an election promise on licensing for LEVs and PEVs and of course, our government couldn’t do it because we don’t have one.*

But watch this space because things are afoot. They’ve extended the bus lanes on one of the busiest roads in Belfast. They’re introducing a new bus called the Glider which will, like this recently multi-million investment in dumb ticketing machines at major stops, will be utterly underwhelming. They’re going to close the area around Belfast City Hall to private traffic. They’re going to invest massively in the Westlink-M2 exchange yet not actually address the cause of queues in the morning. But that’s because …. I don’t know. I’m sure they have great reasons.

*and do you ever notice that when change is needed, politicians decide on whether it’s a devolved matter or not depending on how close it is to lunchtime.

Today it costs more to compute.

I really dislike fossil fuel vehicles.

A couple of years ago, the price of petrol and diesel took a small fall, pushing it to around a pound a litre. Some people, wedded to their cars, swore to me this was the death of Electric vehicles. It seemed to me it was an anti-fracking price way between the US and the Saudis. US pumps were working harder than they had in the previous 30 years. Suffice to say the madness ended and the price shot back up to £1.20 a litre.

A 20% increase.

Imagine if your computer usage pricing went up by 20%. Or if I increased my prices 20% just because I fancied more money.

But because it’s crazy we let them get away with it.

Strong Opinions, Loosely Held

John Gruber wrote these words regarding Steve Jobs.

That’s probably the most concise thing I could use to describe how I approach life and especially technology. I think it’s how every rationalist should approach life. Be strong in your opinions and be prepared to defend them. But when you’re not winning or you’ve just been proved wrong, apologise, adapt to the new information and move on.

I remember being told that I needed to apologise more by a person who, in my entire time of knowing them, never once apologised for anything. But I persevered because sometimes it’s important never to sweat the little details and every person you meet helps shape you into the person you’re becoming. I do apologise, especially when given the chance. I try and adapt to the new information or the new status quo, and I try and cope with the aftermaths. This is how we handle change. It was Charles Darwin who said:

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

And so interpersonal relationships and the ability to maintain and repair them must be important.

I hear a lot of people talking about Steve Jobs as if he was a monster. But that wasn’t my impression. I met him once at Apple Expo and he was warm and welcoming (as you might not imagine a powerful CEO with a reputation as a mercurial monser meeting a tiny, inconsequential customer to be). I conversed with him over email in September 2001 to explain that it was important not to let terrorists dictate the future (Lessons learned from Northern Ireland!) and his reply was one of the deepest concern for the safety of his employees and customers. Much more human than could be imagined. And so I’m left with the impression that Steve was human, that he loved and disliked like any human, but most importantly that he was loved – not just by his family or the whirlpool of blind hordes but by colleagues, peers and co-workers.

After a day of working with performance and intolerance (actually a performance of intolerance inspired by Augusto Boal and the Theatre of the Oppressed), I am moved to think of the microaggressions that plague us. Whether that’s disparaging a man you never met, or refusing to hear out someone who’s trying to apologise; the effect is the same. Boal wrote:

“Dialogue is defined as to freely exchange with others, as a person and as a group, to participate in human society as equal, to respect differences and to be respected.”

I’ve been ruminating on these words.

One of my favourite movies, Serendipity, has a powerful quote which inspires the remainder of the Heros Journey. I doubt there is any evidence to the veracity of it, but it rings true for me at least.

You know the Greeks didn’t write obituaries. They only asked one question after a man died: ‘Did he have passion?”

Well? Do you?

I do.

John Wesley wrote:

“When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn.”

And whoooo-boy that’s true.

When I burned, everyone turned up with marshmallows. And really I don’t blame them. There was immense entertainment in watching someone engulfed, I’m sure. The same sort of hecklers who gloated that Steve struggled with his personal beliefs on clean living before succumbing to his cancer. The same sort of lovely people, many of whom would be fine, upstanding pillars of the community, who rejoiced when Christopher Hitchens was succumbing to his own cancer, wondering loudly what he would do after a lifetime of denying God. Crikey, 2011 was a sucky year for my heroes.

So, in short, be kind, forgive, be passionate about your ideas but hold them loosely.