Apple Published an Expensive Book with Pictures of Its Products, and Apologists Defend the Ridiculous Price

Apple went and did it. In one of their most arrogant moves in a long time, they have published Jony Ive’s latest vanity project, a book called Designed by Apple in California. At $300 (or $200 for the mini version), this is in insultingly expensive book. It’s also a bit odd for a company to produce a book containing photos of its products with nothing more; no context, no explanations of, say, why certain design choices were made.

Designed by apple

Parallels have been made with the book Iconic, which contains photos of Apple products, but also some context and explanation. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) This book retails for $75, so comparisons are inappropriate.

John Gruber, writing on Daring Fireball, tries to justify the price, comparing it to a “collector’s edition version of The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”” which cost $1,250, or “The James Bond Archives,” which he paid $200 for, and which is now discounted at $70 on the publisher’s website. The Kubrick was a limited edition, and the James Bond book, well, it’s now discounted…

This reminds me of the apologists for the ridiculous pricing of the Apple Watch Edition, comparing it to the prices of real luxury watches (real, as in they’ll work for more than a few years, and don’t have batteries that die and software that will eventually be useless).

These people clearly don’t know much about the premium book market. If the Apple book were a limited edition, then the price would be reasonable, and if it were a signed limited edition, with a small limitation, then it would cost much more (probably $1,000 or so for a signed edition of, say, 1,000 copies, if it were signed by Jony Ive). But it’s not a limited edition, and the paper and ink are not that big a deal. I have a small collection of limited edition books, including some with very small limitations (fewer than 100 signed, numbered copies) and many of them are cheaper than Apple’s book. You’re paying for a number of things when you buy a premium book. If it’s an art book, you’re paying for the production; Apple’s book would probably sell for $75 to $100 based on the way it’s produced. If it’s a limited edition, and especially if there’s an author’s signature, then you’re paying for rarity, and the autograph on the title page.

Sure, there are art books that cost more; Taschen’s beautiful Bob Dylan: A Year and a Day lists for $700. It’s an oversized book (31.2 x 44 cm), and is limited to 1,765 copies. Its price is in line with the market for that type of book. But it’s much bigger than Apple’s book, and is a limited edition.

It’s a shame that Apple didn’t make this a project for charity, rather than just dumping an overpriced book for fanbois. But, hey, it’s a product they have announced that they can actually ship this quarter, and no adapters are needed.

The Lost Virtue of Cursive – The New Yorker

The laminated papers with cursive-writing instructions, taped to every one of the tyke-size school desks with the sweeping attached arms, were sad and beautiful at once, in the special way of obsolete educational technology, like the Apple IIe, or the No. 2 pencil itself. For me, a writer of strong fuddy-duddy credentials, the sad dramatic irony really was too much. You see, cursive isn’t being taught in my daughters’ school anymore, and hasn’t been for at least six years, as long as I’ve had children in the public schools. Who would tell the cursive that it was no longer needed?

I wish I would write cursive. Naturally, in my line of work, I type a lot. I touch type, and can type fairly quickly. (According to TypeIt4Me, 83 wpm.) But I like the tactile nature of handwriting. I always keep a pad on my desk to take notes, and record notes in notebooks. But my handwriting is ugly; even I have trouble re-reading it at times. It’s always been that way; I never really learned cursive, and have always use a sort of printing that, while efficient, isn’t very attractive.

Source: The Lost Virtue of Cursive – The New Yorker

The Disconnect Between Tech Savvy Users and Average Users

I write about technology for a living. I explain how technology works, and I write for self-described tech geeks, as well as for “average users,” and even technophobes. Naturally, not all of my articles or books are targeted at this broad an audience. In my Macworld articles, I may write, say, about how to manage Apple’s Time Machine backup feature using the command line, or I may answer reader questions about simple features in the iOS 10 Music app.

Here on Kirkville, I also cover a wide range of topics. Not every article I write is for everyone. (And I don’t only write about technology, but right now, I’m discussing my articles about Macs, iTune, iPhones, and more.)

I allow comments on this site; something more and more people are terminating. I feel that a good discussion is useful, and commenters often provide useful information, telling me about their experiences, or correcting me when I’m wrong. Most of these comments are polite and helpful; some are angry and hateful, and are a symptom of the problems with comments on major websites. Anonymity allows people to hate very easily.

I rarely delete comments: I do so only when the commenter’s vocabulary is unacceptable, or when comments are simply hating. One thing I notice is that most of the comments I delete are from people who think they are better than me, and better than average users. Who suggest my opinion is stupid, because I don’t know enough about computers. And that they know so much more than me, and let me know, often in great detail.

A recent article entitled Apple Is U2ing macOS Installers to Users Running Older Versions of its Operating Systems drew a number of such comments. There are comments about that article right now that disagree with me, but do so politely. Some slightly less politely. And I’ve had to delete several that were just insulting. But what these comments show is that their authors have no understanding of what it’s like to be an “average user.”

The most popular article on my site for the past couple of weeks has been How to Sort Songs in the iOS 10 Music App by Title. I’ve gotten more than 100 emails about this issue, showing that it is indeed a widespread issue. It’s not hard to fix, but you need to know where to look. This small change in iOS 10 has confused lots of users. Mostly “average users.” Not the computer geniuses who comment on articles saying how stupid it is to complain about a feature that confuses “noobs” but not them.

I try to help all users. If an article I write is too simple for you, there’s no need to send in a hateful comment; just close your window, move on, and go read Reddit or something. And if you don’t like my opinions, then don’t read my articles. But at a minimum try to recall what it was like when you got your first computer, when you needed help to understand how to do some of the most basic tasks. Because there are lots of people in the world who aren’t as smart as you. Remember that we technology journalists don’t always write for the tech-savvy users, but write for everyone.

Clear Up Tech Misunderstandings with This New Book, Are Your Bits Flipped, by Joe Kissell

Bits flippedIn the same way that the best-selling book Freakonomics explained the riddles of everyday life and Predictably Irrational revealed our unexpected economic behavior, Are Your Bits Flipped? tackles the tech misconceptions that trip up so many of us. In this engaging and conversational book, author Joe Kissell debunks common myths surrounding the high-tech products and services we all rely on every day.

Just as a single “flipped bit” in a piece of computer code can bring an otherwise reliable app crashing to a halt, a single misconception in your understanding of personal computing technology can cause all manner of problems — including lost data, wasted time, and constant frustration as you live and work in today’s increasingly digital world.

Eliminate tech misconceptions and you’ll:

  • Avoid common errors that waste precious time or result in data loss.
  • Make better decisions based on understanding how things work.
  • Find yourself asking for — or paying for! — computer help less often.
  • Have clear explanations on hand when others ask you for help.
  • Make a stronger impression at a job interview, user group, or wherever your tech skills may be judged

Joe also delves into topics of trust, fear, privacy, security, reliability, and productivity to answer questions like these:

  • Can you trust services like iCloud or Gmail, or password managers?
  • How do you evaluate privacy when a Web site asks for personal info?
  • Should you worry about enabling Java and JavaScript in your browser?
  • How many cloud services (like Dropbox or OneDrive) do you really need?
  • Are you relying on a backup strategy that may leave you in the lurch? 
  • Are you spending more time searching the Web than is necessary?

You’d be surprised what false impressions may have crept into your view of the tech world, but if you’re well grounded, would you do us a favor and forward this to your friend, relative, or colleague who persists in using a single password, has never tested their backups, or still believes all Web URLs must start with www? 

Get Joe Kissell’s Are Your Bits Flipped?.

The Really Big One – The New Yorker

When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. […] The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable.

In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America.

Kathryn Schulz won a Pulitzer Prize for this article in the New Yorker. The magazine highlighted this again on Facebook. I recall reading it the first time and wondering: has the tech industry in the United States developed contingency plans for an event like this? An earthquake of this type would decimate the industry, which is all concentrated in a small area.

… we now know that the Pacific Northwest has experienced forty-one subduction-zone earthquakes in the past ten thousand years. If you divide ten thousand by forty-one, you get two hundred and forty-three, which is Cascadia’s recurrence interval: the average amount of time that elapses between earthquakes. That timespan is dangerous both because it is too long – long enough for us to unwittingly build an entire civilization on top of our continent’s worst fault line – and because it is not long enough. Counting from the earthquake of 1700, we are now three hundred and fifteen years into a two-hundred-and-forty-three-year cycle.

This 243-year cycle is an average, of course, but still…

I hope we don’t see this in my lifetime, but if we do, it won’t be like in the movies.

Source: The Really Big One – The New Yorker

The End of Solitude

What does the contemporary self want? […] It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook.

[…]

If boredom is the great emotion of the TV generation, loneliness is the great emotion of the Web generation. We lost the ability to be still, our capacity for idleness. They have lost the ability to be alone, their capacity for solitude.

Food for thought. Everyone should read Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) the paean to solitude.

(Via The Chronicle of Higher Education.)