iOS 8 Preview

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Introducing iOS 8, the next evolution in Apple’s mobile operating system. 

“We found that the letters, numbers, lines and symbols of iOS 7 were getting in the way of the clean, sleek, white design,” said Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple, Inc. “The beauty of iOS 8 is in its simplicity. Just white. No colors. No shapes. Nothing to distract from its pristine beauty.” 

When asked how users might be able to view content if white was the only thing that iOS 8 displayed, Ive pointed out that he was a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, whose insights should not be questioned.

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Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.

 URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com

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Why Windows 8 is Flat and Ugly and Why iOS 7 Should Not Follow

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I used to love Windows.

Windows 7 was beautiful. It had style. It had texture. It seemed alive. When one of those gorgeous glass-bordered windows opened, it felt like a forgotten treasure submerging from the calm surface of a pond.

Enter Windows 8, Microsoft’s Post-it Note inspired operating system. Those once-stunning transparent-edged windows are replaced by flat, lifeless lines, as if Windows 3.1 had risen from the grave. Gaudy, flat tiles and primitive graphics attempt to dazzle us, but only succeed in getting in our way.

Many think Microsoft’s design choice was a matter of aesthetics. That is not so.

Recognizing the popularity of the iPad, Microsoft knew it had to make an entry into the tablet market or risk irrelevance. Ignoring 99.99% of their customers, who use laptops and desktop computers to get their work done, they designed their Window 8 operating system around a non-existent market: The Windows tablet.

In order for a Windows tablet to succeed, Microsoft knew tablets sold with Windows 8 would have to match, among other things, the iPad’s long battery life. But how could they do that? Microsoft makes software, not hardware. It would be impossible for Microsoft to force PC makers to match the engineering marvel that is the iPad.

If they can’t make hardware, they can control the operating system. They realized if they dumped the beautiful Windows 7 Aero Glass for simple, Windows 3.1-like objects, it would require less processing power to draw those simple objects on the screen. Less processing power means less battery draw, hence a longer battery life.

Thus, Microsoft unilaterally declares that Windows 7’s look and feel is out of style and replaces it with the unappealing, two-dimensional display that we have come to loathe; and, like every other Star Trek movie, Windows 8 proves to be a disaster.

Personally, Windows 8 made me jump from a PC to a Mac. And, having made the conversion, I absolutely love it. I have never been happier. Thanks, Microsoft, for screwing up so badly that I left.

I was therefore stunned to learn recently that Apple has redesigned their gorgeous iOS to make it flat and lifeless, too. Defying all reason, Apple has decided to steal Windows 8’s flat, lifeless design and put it in their iOS 7.  (If you were going to copy answers from your neighbor, you wouldn’t cheat off the F student who never gets his homework done, would you? Read: Microsoft. No, you would cheat off an A student like, I don’t know, Apple maybe.)

It’s true that many iPhone and iPad users, myself included, have been clamoring for Apple to innovate its stale looking iOS 6 with its boring grid of icons. Yet no one complained they didn’t like the look of the display; we only wanted more functionality and interconnectivity with our apps. Maybe throw us a widget or two.

By following Microsoft, Apple is blowing a huge chance to differentiate itself in the market. Don’t like the primitive, childish objects in Windows 8 or the minimalist design of your Google phone? Come on over to Apple. We’ll give you something to show off on that beautiful Retina display of yours. If iOS 7 looks like everyone else’s phone, what’s to stop consumers to from switching to phones with larger screens, or to manufacturers that update their hardware more than once a year?

What is Apple thinking?

Many years ago, Apple founder Steve Jobs left the company. What followed was one deplorable decision after the next, resulting in Apple’s near extinction. Jobs eventually returned to Apple, not only reviving it but taking it to heights previously unimagined.

With Steve Job’s tragic death in 2011, investors and consumers have been holding their breaths, waiting for that first really bad decision to come out of Apple that would spell the beginning of the end for its dominance in the market.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it looks like that bad decision has arrived.

iOS 8 Preview

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Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.

 URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com

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The Elusive Retina Display

I fell in love when I was in New York.

Her name? iMac. Apple’s 27″ iMac to be more precise.

I used to be a Mac guy back in the days when they were called Macintoshes.  The last time one of those creatures sat on my desk, Apple had just released OS X version 7.2. The big innovation then:  Color built right into the operating system.  It can’t get sweeter than that, can it?

At the time I found myself coveting the newly released Windows 95 machines with all the bells and whistles. Windows 95 had texture. Windows 95 had dimension. Windows 95 seemed to rise out of the monitor, where the Mac OS was flat and lifeless. And then there was all the Windows 95 software that I wanted but couldn’t get for my Mac. And the games!

At the time, Steve Jobs had left Apple to start NeXT and Apple, without him, had dropped the ball.  Six months after Windows 95 came out I made the switch and never looked back. Not until now.

In the intervening years Apple loyalists picked up the name “fan boys.”  I used to see their comments at the bottom of articles, slamming the latest Windows offering as if they were personally offended by them, like a guy with a short man’s complex spoiling for a fight.

Then two things happened. First, Apple got back on its game. The iPhone was born. Then the iPad. The way humankind interactive with technology suddenly changed.

Second, Microsoft developed the cluster f#@% that is Windows 8, with its crappy, awkward design and its flat windows, like the old Apple OS circa 1996. And suddenly I’m finding myself coveting software on the Mac, trying to make my PC more like a Mac, and recoiling at the thought of where Microsoft is trying to take it’s users, kicking and screaming, toward crappy Windows 8 Tablet Land.

It only took about twenty minutes standing in front of that 27″ iMac in Grand Central Station to be convinced. As I played with the software, I felt a little of the old Mac magic from back in the day. It was like saying hello to an old friend.

Now that I know what I want, here’s my question: When do I pull the trigger? The current iMac’s haven’t been refreshed in well over a year. Internet rumors have pegged an iMac refresh for September. I feel like I have to wait for the new Ivy Bridge processor at the very least.

Then there’s talk of a retina display iMac in 2013.  Rumors, of course. But what if they’re true?  It seems inconceivable now to wait another year+ for a retina display that might never happen. Yet I’d also hate to buy one and drool next year should they suddenly appear.

I think the current display is stunning, but I did notice a little pixilation around the text.  Who knew that a few months with the retina display iPad would make me such a snob? But it seems like a 27″ retina display would likely be hugely expensive. And the processing power to update such a huge display…  It would have to be monstrous. Try playing games on such a beast. Forgetta ’bout it!

So, I’m thinking September, if the iMac is refreshed with new hardware. But I’m still wavering. Does anyone have any thoughts or advice? I’d love to hear it.

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Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.

 URL: www.brianmercerbooks.com

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