The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

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

connecting the .com’s

January6

if you care about synchronizing contacts and calendar events across, Apple’s iOS, Android and Microsoft’s Outlook(s), rejoice.

take note of, http://www.markspace.com.

I’ve been complaining for eighteen months (and bitterly so) to just about anyone within hearing-range about Microsoft completely dropping the ball with importing contacts intact with pictures. Microsoft stiff-arms vCard formats and will only accept .csv files. that essentially means NO contacts pictures.

this is ludicrous in the digital age. and, everyone uses vCards.

I only really care because the deficiency strikes me as shoddy and inefficient. the idea is good, but it’s lacking for polish.

this is an obvious barrier for anyone that might want to move productivity efforts over to Outlook, Outlook.com, and Office365 (they are now essentially the same).

Microsoft appears to set the poor standard for innovation. by the way… what’s very telling is that it’s almost impossible to get Microsoft to answer questions unless you want to buy something. I drove all the way down to Lenox Mall to the windows store to see if someone there had any insight. NO THERE EVEN KNEW ABOUT THE PROBLEM.

…most of them use Gmail.

however, I am coming up with solutions – Gmail just about gets us there, but when contacts go over to anything Microsoft they are stripped of pictures (that csv vs. vCard matter). but, the aforementioned Mark/Space, Inc.’s “MissingSync” makes it all come together.

all that said, a real epiphany occurred today with my discovery that you can sync contacts, calendars (even email) between Macs, Android devices, and the Outlook(s) using the sync tools found on the Linkedin interface!

solution:

once logged onto Linked, go to “Contacts” (under “Network”), then “Settings” (look for the cog wheel in the upper right corner).

timing is important. first, link Gmail with Linkedin. you will have some duplicates but Gmail makes it simple to merge them. that then syncs back to Linkedin.

note: I found that I had contacts for some people that I was not Linkedin with. in some cases I realized I was Linkedin with people I did not need to be connected with (more on that later).

with that accomplished, if you have [the] Outlook(s) lined-up you can sync those with both Gmail and/ or Linkedin.

at this point all three platforms should have synchronized contacts (and calendars). it looks like you can now sync all of this with Apple’s iOS (mobility) as well. that means iCloud will indirectly sync with the others.

Diane Poremsky, if you are reading this, I can now get off your case.

this is very cool. well done, Linkedin.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

Steve Jobs single handidly killed the Symbian Army to save Microsoft

October11

this has nothing to do with Patricia Hearst.

in an indirect way, it has A LOT to do with Steve Jobs.

point of reference: when Jobs started talking about the iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, he said, “This is a day I have been looking forward to for two and a half years.” Then he regaled the audience with myriad tales about why consumers hated their cellphones. then he solved all their problems – definitively.

Steve Jobs and Apple essentially wiped-out the “Symbian Army”.

and, that’s what makes the rest of this post all the more interesting, if not noteworthy.

there is a place in this world for old success to be part of a great come-back story. players in the potential drama can include Blackberry, Microsoft, and Nokia. but, mostly Microsoft and Nokia. Blackberry is currently an interesting historical footnote.

…seriously.

Stephen Elop, give me back my legions! while I’m not predicting, or even anticipating a re-imagined Symbian (I’ll avoid saying Nokia) come-back, I do suspect Microsoft is pondering a dramatic and evolutionary step. Microsoft piled $7.2 billion dollars into Nokia for the acquisition of it’s mobile unit. and, with that comes an emerging handful of intrepid entrepreneurs looking at establishing something of an Symbian support eco-system that could eventually become another acquisition play. it’s those, otherwise, imagineers that I’m working with.

consider this… for years, Symbian ruled mobile. at its peak, Blackberry was a scrappy underdog at best. then Jobs made a historical move and signaled the end of Nokia with a demonstration of five buggy iPhone prototypes. you can read that very cool story, here:

And Then Steve Said, “Let There Be an iPhone”

Symbian fans lament the loss of a veritable colonial empire. they once ruled the world, yet lost it by taking a nap. it can be argued that incompetence by lack of open-mindedness led to the collapse. NOTE: Blackberry fans are (they remain) like Fascists or Marxists; they never ruled the world, and they are lamenting the unfulfillment of potential, of how they could have won, but never did. NOTE: for what it’s worth, Ernest Hemingway would have carried an iPhone to defeat the Fascists in his beloved Spain. yet, ironically, many sense that Blackberry may live on in some enterprise fashion. and, here we have the Symbian underground coming to light.

in any event, with Symbian, we could argue that if only Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo got kicked out in 2008, the liberated loyalists would still have an empire stretching from the islands of Japan, to the frigid tundra of finland. like Blackberry fanatics, they may comment on lost opportunity, if the strategy was actually good, than maybe, just maybe their global market share could have overtaken Windows Mobile.

…wait… maybe that’s the plan. more later.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

yeah yeah yeah Memorial Day Microsoft and various HEROES

May27

I get inspired and motivated by all manner of things.

and, I tie them all together over the course of years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds.

happy Memorial Day, everyone.

and, this is just one more reason to honor you, Dad. I sure wish you were here to hug the girls. however, I did take Emma Jo kayaking yesterday and told her stories about you. all of it was mildly interesting to het for about fifteen minutes. then she was hot and sweaty. not much fun for an eleven year old girl that was more excited to learn she is bound for a shopping trip to Dallas.

in a playful mood, at one point along the river, I did ask her if she thought we were being watched by “wild indian”s. I got an over-the-shoulder no so amused glance for my efforts. so, in typically goofy-Dad fashion I followed my question with, “how about some-what wild Indians”, then, “mildly irritated indians”. of course I had to go down a long list of options, and finally, “impossibly flatulent illegal aliens”. that earned me an, “can I call Mommy”.

meanwhile, I was asked Saturday why I’m so good at coaching kids in youth sports, Lacrosse and Soccer, to be specific. I had to think about that one. while my teams tend to win, and the players improve, I’d don’t think of myself as being a “good coach”. the truth is I think I’m valuable as a motivator. it gets dicy after that. all that said, we were at the Union Hill Polo grounds Saturday and I met a strapping young fellow all of seven. he has just started playing Lacrosse. when word got out that I’m in the Milton system many of them figured out who I am and it started to look like a lacrosse game was inevitable.

I’ll dodge that part of the story and get back tot he core question. I’m certain I can coax girls into playing great and successful Soccer because I convince them to believe in themselves and play as a team. most girls are not raised that way. while that is a blog post worthy of its own merits, I’ll run with it another time. but,I  believe I have a fair amount of success coaching boys in Lacrosse because I understand them better than most of their own Dads, especially if football has ever been involved. I relate to them. I probably think in similar fashion, and see the world in much the same way. my wife says I’ve never lost my sense of wonder and naiveté. I get VERY excited over “gear”.

haloin any event, all of this is a preamble to a brief discussion over Halo. going back to 2005 we had a shot at a movie with Peter Jackson (Hobbit movies) at the helm. but, Microsoft (owns all rights to Halo – and deserves a lot of credit for ONLY that), the best example of the evil empire itself mucked it all up by being greedy. its true, read more about that here:

How Peter Jackson’s Long-Awaited ‘Halo’ Movie Morphed Into Steven Spielberg Xbox-Only Series

 

Halo could have been a blockbuster similar to Avatar. but now it’s destined to be small-screened on the forth-coming XBox-TV.

this is classic Microsoft being stupid and stodgy and turning a great concept into frustrating irrelevance.

for perspective, Microsoft has come up with Office 365. but, you can’t import contact pictures up to it. so, in our social media networked business community that is another VERY stupid mistake.

so… that’s just par for the ill-kept course with Microsoft.

I want to buy more Microsoft stock (I bought a lot in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s). however, I keep having to ask myself how could a company that is so relevant be so goofy with its execution? kind of like Dad’s with sons that don’t understand what Lacrosse means.

it’s all tied together.

more later. we are off to the club today for a pool party. my Jeep driving Haley Anne might just join us. I am grateful for so much. I have been training hard of late and I am craving a hamburger.

today, in honor of Microsoft, and that of our Military heroes, I am listening to Despair by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. you can watch it here:

peace 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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