Goodbye Steve

Brian in Opinion | 0 Comments October 6, 2011

Like many, I was shocked to hear of Steve’s passing yesterday.  Twitter, Facebook, all the major news outlets and even the president himselfpoured out heartfelt thoughts and condolences to his family.  I work for the other team so I shouldn’t be as sentimental as those who live or die by their Apple products, right?  Wrong.  I’m surprised by just how moved I am.

I experienced my first Apple product just four years ago.  Sure, I’d seen (and even touched!) Macs, iPods and even the occasional Apple II in high school.  But nothing had ever really struck me as something I had to have.  Then the iPhone was released.  At first I didn’t believe the hype or the videos of it in action.  How could they make the UI so fluid?  How could it be so thin?  It had to be a mock up.

So I bought one.  I walked into an Apple store and walked out a mere ten minutes later, iPhone in hand.  When I got home it turned out to be everything the hype said it was:  it was revolutionary.  It wasn’t the hardware or the software.  It was the whole package.  This is the magic of Apple:  from my first Apple store experience to my first product unboxing to my first usage of my shiny new iPhone, my whole expectation of consumer electronics had permanently changed. 

The experience matters.  The whole experience.  Apple carefully planned my entire iPhone experience from the moment I set foot in the store all the way through to buying my next iPhone.  They are experts at sweating the small stuff.  Because Steve was an expert at sweating the small stuff.  Steve taught the world that it matters how things feel in your hand.  It matters what kinds of materials are used and how durable something is through day-to-day use.  It matters how you’re treated when you walk in a store.  It even matters what color the box is.  All of these thousands of small details add up and create something larger than the whole. 

I know Apple will go on sweating the small stuff.  I’m sure that’s one of the thousands of small details Steve attended to before he left.  But the computer industry and the entire world has lost a very rare and unique visionary.

Souring the Honeypot

Brian in Opinion | 2 Comments February 11, 2011

The web is all a twitter (pun intended) over claims by Google that Bing is stealing their search engine results.  I won’t re-hash it – this link has plenty of reading material.  Google’s honeypot trap got me thinking.  What if, after installing the Bing bar and accepting all the “would you like us to track your links to improve Bing” options like Google did, you clicked on incorrect links to make the wrong associations?  Would Bing learn those associations?


WinFX Effect

Brian in Opinion | 8 Comments October 1, 2004

When I came back from vacation all hell had broken loose. You see, a few days before I came back, Microsoft decided that WinFX, or at least the bits that remained after the latest round of Longhorn cuts, would also be supported on downlevel platforms. To a guy deeply entrenched in the development of Windows Forms, this is fairly impactful news as a key part of WinFX is Avalon.

Not that the news wasn’t welcome. I’d been lobbying the powers that be for months that this is the right thing for customers. People buy Windows because of the apps they can run on Windows. Developers write apps for Windows because it is the most pervasive platform so they get the broadest reach. Producing a brand-new API and only exposing it on a version of Windows that no one has does not encourage developers to spend valuable time writing apps for it, especially if they can write to an existing API and support both the old and new operating systems.


Hey, We Are Making it Better

Brian in Opinion | 1 Comments March 17, 2004

One bad aspect of my job is that I always see the bad stuff. I’m always on the lookout for what we did wrong, what we didn’t do yet, and what we could do better. That kind of environment makes it hard to remember the good stuff we’ve already produced. Last weekend brought a smile to my face, however.


Engineering, not Art

Brian in Opinion | 0 Comments May 15, 2003

From this article on msn about T-Mobile dropping Microsoft's smart phone:

"T-Mobile announced in February it planned to introduce the Microsoft phone this summer in a move analysts saw as a blow to mobile handset industry leader Nokia .

But industry sources said the phone software of the world's largest software maker still had "fundamental problems" leading to high failure rates.

Microsoft was not immediately available to comment."