The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

Don’t get caught in Google’s Inbox

October26

This is the beginning of a cautionary tale.

I am an Apple evangelist that loves Android. I really like my iPhone 6, and keen to test Android 5.0 aka Lollipop. I put Chromebooks into the hands of hundreds of students every year. I’m a Google Shareholder. While I prefer Apple’s OS X and iOS “Mail” email client, I feel that, ironically, Google’s Gmail for iOS App looks better on my iPhone than Apple Mail.

Email was created decades ago as a “dumb pipe” where a carrier exists to simply transfer information to-and-from between users without the ability to add services and applications or serve as a “smart” gatekeeper between what the user sees and doesn’t see. Thats called “mediation”, and its a key word. The idea behind email is that it’s an unmediated communications medium. Sending and receiving information. Simple for users. Not profitable for service providers.

This was the issue for AOL, Earthlink (Mindspring), and a host of others, and certainly, Google, with its (current) Gmail. Carriers want to resist becoming dumb pipes because there’s no money in it. A pipe is a faceless commodity, valued only by reliability and speed. In such a market, margins sink to zero or below zero, and it becomes a horrible business to be in.

inbox-appGoogle’s new Inbox App is a product by a company that holds a monopoly on Internet advertising (recall all the “evil empire” talk – that Google has squashed because it owns you and how you derive information from the internet). Inbox is an alternative interface to your Gmail account, rather than something that requires starting over with a new account. This is another attempt by the company to mediate your dumb email pipe which drives absolutely no value for Google. Google exists to mediate the unmediated. That’s what it does.They’re not in the business of improving the experience of email with a free product such as Gmail. They’re ultimately in the business of finding more subtle and effective ways to deliver ads.

Repeat: “recall all the ‘evil empire talk’ – that Google has squashed because it owns you and how you derive information from the internet”.

I can appreciate the brilliance of the “invitation” strategy introducing Inbox. It feels exclusionary; but it’s not. It is manipulative. They tried the same shenanigans with Google Wave (see below). I received six invites, and declined all of them, for now. Inbox strikes me as very similar to the new email test AOL (Boy… does that take me back. How many people actually still use AOL?) deployed almost two years ago.

That said, pinning-down the name “Inbox”, was insidiously crafty and well done on Google’s part. The name defines the product.

eMail presents us with a love-hate dilemma. We need it, but the process is time-consuming, and rarely fruitful. eMail “battles” are the worst. Almost as bad as the, “Starbucks Death Dance”, when it comes to networking (by the way… I’m boycotting SBUX because they won’t let me use Apple Pay). I noticed about three years ago that I text and chat (in various forms) with the people that I am most productive with.

The bottom line is that it’s a more radical mediation between the communication you have with other people and with the companies that provide goods, services and content to you.

The positive spin on Inbox is that it brings way more power and intelligence to your email in-box.

The negative spin is that it takes something user-controlled, predictable, clear and linear and takes control away from the user, making email unpredictable, unclear and nonlinear.

I’m sticking with Apple Mail and my Apple eco-system friendly array of iPhones, iPads, Powerbook Pro’s and iMacs, for now (but will use [current] Gmail in a back-up pinch). Gmail will eventually disappear like Google Wave, Google Reader – and, probably Google+. Apple Mail does what I want it to do. I don’t want to use an App that only lets me do what the company behind it will allow me to see and do.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

Calvin Coolidge and Instincts, Convictions, and Best Practices

August15

I was recently asked, “why would you care about someone like Calvin Coolidge?”

perhaps one reason the question was asked was because we were discussing Thomas Jefferson, and how the geo-political stage is so different today, set for Hilary Clinton (I’m just throwing that out there…), as compared to the era of our Founding Fathers.

earlier this week I published:

Instincts, Convictions, and Best Practices by brian patrick cork
Published on Linkedin August 12, 2014

it is dangerous to make decisions based on pleasing people. when we please the person in front of us and then change directions to please the next person we encounter, we’re not living according to moral convictions. we’re choosing what’s easy in the moment rather than being fully committed to righteousness.

for a vital point-of-reference ponder Revelations 3:16.

outside of Revelations here is a book that might find itself an example of my point, today:

Johnson, Charles C. (2013-03-12). Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President.

Excerpts and thinking:

with vital input from George Landolt.

it was the legislators’ “solemn duty” to “think last of themselves.” Otherwise their decisions would “lack authority.” Calvin Coolidge wished to protect the legislature from itself and to guarantee that a republican spirit would continue in the state’s government.

although he had stood fast against attempts to raise the salaries of legislators, Coolidge favored increasing them for schoolteachers, believing that bad teachers would imperil republican government by failing to teach the convictions essential for republican life. He also exalted good teachers throughout his career.

as vice president, he said: The standards which teachers are required to maintain are continually rising. their work takes on a new dignity. it is rising above a calling, above a profession, into the realm of art. it must be dignified by technical training, ennobled by character, and sanctified by faith.

so…

for the most part, every president has their own rap. some have rhythm, others a dark legacy. but, every man (until Hilary) got that office based on merit that was needed at the time. circumstances change, and that platform often creates an unkind legacy.

Coolidge was something of an intellectual. He was not interested in politics. he wanted to make a point. he had money and influence. he was probably more of a throw-back that values the role of a founding father. I suspect he was be a fan of Thomas Jefferson. thusly, he had few friends. that said, he was a champion for important threads in the fabric of our culture and society.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

brian and Nicholas and the current state of relevant Technology

June11

long-time readers of this blog are quite familiar with Nicholas Johnson.

I’ll share a recent email I sent him (well it was this very daily, in fact) in response to some advice I was seeking from him around a Chromebox. Nicholas is quite the Android afficianado, and technologist:

Good morning Nicholas.

Thanks for the link. I’m getting old in terms of many proclivities. For example I find myself less interested in what most people write, and my tolerance for poor research has ebbed to practically nil.

However, I’m keen for this exchange given our shared passion for technology.

So… I agree with you that the author of the piece you have shared with me strives for objectivity. I have an intellectual understanding of why Apple takes other companies to court. I just don’t like anyone using the judicial system as a blunt-edged weapon. So, I appreciate Apple’s efforts as a shareholder, but resent the ponderousness of it all. Having said that, I’m not convinced that either Apple or Google (or Samsung) are genuinely pioneering new technology. I used “pioneering” because my fingers won’t let me tap “innovative” (rats!) again. All three companies acquire, borrow or utilize technology from other sources. Their “job” (what word would you use?) is to leverage technology in a meaningful way that makes it appealing and useful to improve our quality of life and productivity. So, I guess it comes down to competition or packaging and presentation. All three companies spend a lot of money on R&D. And, it seems analysts are judging companies by their R&D budgets. If you combined the R&D budgets of those three example companies you could probably run economy of Great Britain.

There is a great deal of anticipation around the up-coming Apple iPhone 6. I’ve seen the working prototype and I want it more than I did the iPhone 5. In-fact, I use an iPhone 5C (my daughters have the 5S), and I’ve never really cared about it. The device works fine. As you know, I keep looking for someone else to come up with a device I like more. This includes HTC, LG, Samsung, etc. They make terrific hardware that is probably as good as Apple’s. My ONLY issue with those devices is that Android does not work for me. Its my sensibilities. I want it to work; and badly. Its just not there, yet. However, I know that eventually the Android experience will be on-par with Apple’s. And, the competition is terrific for consumers. Its also endlessly fascinating to me that the iPhone 6 will likely be a singular event that will push the planet off its axis. Its important for technology enthusiasts, shareholders, and people that care about how and why cultures work. A lot of people will buy the iPhone. It will generate record revenue for a company that sets the standard for profits (and margins). Its simply astonishing that a company of this vintage can raise its own bar again and again while setting the standard for best practices (or, perhaps that is precisely the point).

Circling back to pioneering/ innovation/ experience… I’m going to use the iPhone 6 as an example for my entire email thus far. Lets focus on the screen. Apple is finally delivering a device with a larger screen – something Android users have had options for going on roughly three years. I know that Apple could have delivered a larger screen as well before now but had concerns about pixel density, screen quality, and how applications looked on the device. With Apple, form, function and appearance (the experience) drive decisions – not the opinion of analysts. Also, Apple is constantly refining its products and incrementally reducing the cost without dropping quality (the recent upgrades for the Macbook Air and iMac are good examples). And, this brings into sharp focus the vital difference between the three companies I’m referencing in this email… Apple is the only one of that group that combines hardware and software in their unique mobile devices (I’m not counting Google glass in this example; but then, I don’t know who manufactures that hardware, anyway). Google and Samsung have an uneasy alliance that benefits one another. Apple stands alone. And, maybe thats another reason why the Apple eco-system still feels “tighter” and has a more “finished” feel to it. It also makes it easier to identify with a company that brings the whole package to a market. Google is close (I thought (really believed) it might happen with the acquisition of Motorola – maybe it still will given all the IP Google stripped from it), and that will take me to the ASUS Chromebox, shortly. And, Samsung is working diligently on its own Operating System (“OS”). That is going to make things VERY interesting. Combine their breadth of quality products with an eco-system and… well, …wow…

I talk about this stuff with people daily. Most throw the words Google, Gmail and Android about indiscriminately. They are the same (company/products), but different, right? I love Google. They frustrate me. I want the Android Operating System to be awesome. However, the fact is I am one of those people that will barely scratch the surface in terms of App usability (just like I am with Apple). In fact, other than texting, a flip-phone is probably better suited for me. So, when it comes to Google, I focus on Gmail, Google Drive, and related products. They really are “good enough”. My driving complaint with Gmail is I can’t use multiple email addresses and keep the emails separate like I can on Apple’s Mail or Outlook. Otherwise I would probably use it and do everything from the cloud. Mind you, it bugs me that I can’t use Apple’s iCloud version of Mail for other domain email- for example, brian@unsinkablebriancork.com – (that makes no sense to me at all other than realizing they don’t want you to use their mail on just any computing device). I REALLY wanted Outlook/ Office 365 to work. But, you can’t import contacts into it with contact images intact. That is jaw-dropping and a deal-killer. How is that possible in this digital age?  By the way… Despite goofy stuff like that, the company I’m really watching is Microsoft. I respect the CEO, a lot. More on that later. Possibly over beers.

I’ve just taken a pause, here, and am trying to come up with a reason for focusing on the three companies I have and just realized I’m at the risk of ending-up in a rabbit hole. Now I just had the comforting thought that I actually like and appreciate all three (really, four) of them (the companies). I value Google’s pioneering spirit; I appreciate the breadth, quality and visceral nature of Samsung products; and, I fervently love the Apple experience. Each company satisfies something in almost everyone. However, I have a feeling Microsoft and its evolving Windows is going to get cool (again). They are going to rise as a big turnaround story of relevance.

In any event, I discussed my recent experience with the ASUS Chromebox on Linkedin yesterday. I’ve cut-and-pasted below:

“I remain an Apple loyalist if not evangelist. Earning the mantle of “Apple Fanboy” is no easy task. It means you are expert. And, being expert includes understanding other company’s products. So, I’m exploring the ASUS Chrome Box. This is a VERY inexpensive desktop computing device with a small footprint with an all-Google eco-system. I connected it to a dated HP monitor with an HDMI cable and it fired up in roughly five seconds. It found my internet connection, bluetooth keyboard and mouse easily. I plugged-in my gmail information and I was set-up and in-motion. I recommend it. That said, I think the Apple experience remains superior.

There are several manufacturers of Chromebox. ASUS appears to have the best model. Samsung is getting involved. HP will. Dell did it with a very impressive fob-like device called WYSE Cloud Connect that is similar to the Google Chromecast, but gives you the same result as a Chromebook or Chromebox. Just plug it into a monitor or TV via USB. Very cool. Possibly innovative if part of the definition is usability, mobility and possibly the word, practical.

NOTE: I had a neighbor recently ask me what computer he should ship his daughter off to college with. I told him to purchase an HP Chromebook. She probably has a Gmail account and will use Google Docs for school work. Many/ most colleges leverage the Gmail platform. The Chromebook is sturdy and very inexpensive. Chrome as a browser and OS is fine. Its about a quarter the cost of a Macbook Air.

I am constantly trying to use Ubuntu. I have an Ubuntu box. I have a Lenovo Yoga (stupid name, but terrific hardware), and a Samsung all-in-one desk top. I spend a great deal of time banging around on all of them. But, I always go back to Apple products because they “just work” for me. Some how that is Apple’s differentiator. Others will say its advertising and marketing. But, I do think its our native ability to recognize quality. And Apple has figured out how to make the experience simple and elegant. As soon as someone else – probably Google, Microsoft or Samsung – can match the experience, the devices will all play nice together and all we will care about is the color of the device. But, as I just finished that last sentence, I realized the same argument exists for automobiles. I drive a rigged-up Jeep Wrangler (because I’m a poser) and tell everyone that in Milton, “the Wrangler is the new Porsche”. I also drive a bad-ass Ram 1500 (“El Rojo Grande” to my Lacrosse players). And, we could compare and make the same argument for technology devices as we do for high-end (or, any-end) automobiles. It comes down to style, taste and expectations. There is not a lot difference between cars by class. It comes down to performance and taste.

By the way… I add this with nothing but respect and admiration as my intention… The best strategy Google has deployed today is its mythology around recruiting people. They have created a desire for Google as a cultural phenomenon that is cult-like and unprecedented – creating a associative brand that is awe inspiring. Its cool to work at Google. Its hard to work, as in difficult, at Apple. Soon, its going to be important to work at Microsoft (maybe it always has been – Balmer was just a problem).

More later.

I appreciate you. Oh… And, I miss you as well.

- Brian

The aforementioned email from the indefatigueable, and certainly, redoubtable, Nicholas Johnson:
AreyoureferringtotheChromeBookortheChromeBox?  I believethereisonlyoneChromeBox – which is specifically designed for business.

As far as the Chromebooks go, I have the Samsung and love it, and I’ve implemented the HPs for a couple friends who have nothing but good things to say.  My wife had the Acer and hated it. The trackpad was all screwy. What’s the purpose of the device?
Also, I thought about you recently when reading an article about iOS and Android – http://www.androidauthority.com/real-secret-apples-success-389676/
I think it is fairly well done in terms of maintaining objectivity (difficult on a blog called Android Authority), and it highlights the reason for Apple’s success – unmatched marketing and promotion, not technical prowess.
I hope things are getting better for Joanne. Take care.

Thanks,

Nicholas T Johnson

[REDACTED] mobile

consider Everything Is Debatable

February25

in this case, LITERALLY, if not vocally.

consider Everything Is Debatable.

it’s an album generated by none other than Hellogoodbye.

Hellogoodbye-hellogoodbye-714517_1024_768I, for one, fell for this group while they were still pumping out ultra-catchy electro-smacked pop for a punk label, of all things, roughly a decade ago. Emma Jo was a new born, and Haley Anne would listen to almost anything I said, sang, or introduced to her, and with rapt fascination.

I fell harder yet when they managed to turn-down the beats and focused on more introspective acoustic-tinged tracks that remind me still of PlayRadioPlay!The Secret Handshake, and even Cute Is What We Aim For.

their latest effort is Everything Is Debatable that manages to refine their sound quite a bit with a baring-point middle ground between their collective past approaches. that said, the lyrical depth is rather a bit lessened. however, these songs will grab you hard after a few turns.

by way of example, test yourself with the following Youtube effort around, the tune Here (In Your Arms) from their not so aptly named album, Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! and More! from 2006.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

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What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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