Old School Mac Evangelist

My friend Michael Guinn has been running a concierge Mac support and repair service in Santa Barbara and just celebrated 8 years of business. As an Apple Certified Consultant, he makes, “Apple Certified House Calls and Repairs.”

Michael Guinn

His newsletters are folksy and remind me of the old TidBITS updates from the early 90’s. Mick is an old school Mac evangelist sharing the joy of making people’s lives better through technology, not using it to one-up themselves and lord over others.

At Mick’s Macs, we don’t see our clients as “customers.”

Although appropriate in other business models, I’ve never liked that word for ours. For me, “customers” denotes a shopping experience, one less personal than the service and support we provide. When people become our client, they’re never a number. Never. It always makes me smile when people call and begin to remind us who they are and when they last worked with us. It’s one of the rare times I interrupt them with something like, “Tom, of COURSE we know who you are! We upgraded your MacBook Pro last year. How are things?” With caller ID, most of the time we answer the phone calls from existing clients like this: “Hi Kathy! How are you? How can we help you today?” Clients seem to really be happily thrown by this.

Congratulations Mick! If you are in Southern California and need your Mac, iPad, or iPhone checked out, Mick’s Macs.

Apple Watch on cover of Vogue

Apple Watch on Vogue

MacRumors posts that Chinese model Liu Wen will feature the Apple Watch on the cover of next month’s Vogue magazine (wearing the gold Edition model of course).

It is telling that Apple picked China to be the first country to feature the Apple Watch in a commercial fashion publication and, after the pop-up appearance at the Paris Fashion Week.  This is the beginning of what is certain to be a well-scripted product placement campaign for the new device.

While pricing for the base model has been announced at $349, the higher end models are still unknown but pundits are already guessing.

shinkansen

A tale of two incentives

Meanwhile, the bullet train has sucked the country’s workforce into Tokyo, rendering an increasingly huge part of the country little more than a bedroom community for the capital. One reason for this is a quirk of Japan’s famously paternalistic corporations: namely, employers pay their workers’ commuting costs. Tax authorities don’t consider it income if it’s less than ¥100,000 a month – so Shinkansen commutes of up to two hours don’t sound so bad. New housing subdivisions filled with Tokyo salarymen subsequently sprang up along the Nagano Shinkansen route and established Shinkansen lines, bringing more people from further away into the capital.

- How the Shinkansen bullet train made Tokyo into the monster it is today, The Guardian

It is standard practice for a Japanese company to pay for an employee’s commute expenses. The government will not tax the company nor will the employee be taxed for the cost of their monthly commute pass. In a sense, the government bears the cost of transporting a company’s workforce, which allows them to spend their resources on locating themselves as close as they can to their customers and vendors who are, mostly, in Tokyo.

As the Guardian article points out, this has allowed for a network of “bed towns” to spring up along the spurs of each of the high speed rail lines to branch out from Tokyo supporting further centralization of the city. Think of Tokyo as a the capital of government, entertainment, media, finance, and business all rolled into one megalopolis. The equivalent of Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago all rolled into one. It is very difficult for a business to be located outside of this center and succeed and, with the commute subsidy, very little reason to do so.

The Japanese commute expense subsidy gives incentives for people to use the public transportation industry so, as a result, Japan has one of the best public transportation systems in the world.

Contrast this with how the tax incentives in the United States work. Mortgage interest is by far the biggest deduction you can apply to your income which supports the housing industry and, more directly, the banks. While this has allowed for distributed population centers to pop up around the country where ever people decide to invest in their home but has also contributed to successive housing bubbles.

Which would you rather have? A kick-ass public transit system that efficiently gets you where you want to go or an over-valued ranch house in the suburbs and an hour commute by car each way into work?

Aaron Swartz’s “crime”

If you haven’t seen the documentary, The Internet’s Own Boy – go watch it. Reminders of Aaron’s spirit are everywhere and just today, while searching for something else, I came across this post from Alex Stamos, Chief Information Security Officer at Yahoo.

If I had taken the stand as planned and had been asked by the prosecutor whether Aaron’s actions were “wrong”, I would probably have replied that what Aaron did would better be described as “inconsiderate”. In the same way it is inconsiderate to write a check at the supermarket while a dozen people queue up behind you or to check out every book at the library needed for a History 101 paper. It is inconsiderate to download lots of files on shared wifi or to spider Wikipedia too quickly, but none of these actions should lead to a young person being hounded for years and haunted by the possibility of a 35 year sentence.

The Truth about Aaron Swartz’s “Crime”

Apple Watch

Apple Watch Pricing

Model Price Source
Apple Watch Sport $349 Announced
Apple Watch $449 Ewan Spence
Apple Watch Edition $549 The Register
Apple Watch Edition $749 Ewan Spence
Apple Watch $749 Ben Taylor
Apple Watch $999 John Gruber
Apple Watch Edition $999 Brian Blair
Apple Watch Edition $1,200 TechCrunch
Apple Watch Edition $1,499 Ben Taylor
Apple Watch Edition $2,000 The Street
Apple Watch Edition $4,999 John Gruber

John Gruber posted one of the most thorough estimates of what he thinks might be the price of the other two Apple Watch models. In anticipation of the flurry of counter-estimates, I thought I’d keep a running table showing what other pundits are putting down as their best guess and update it as I get new estimates via Google Alerts.

But no need to keep others from joining in on the fun. What’s your best guess for the price of the gold Apple Watch Edition?

Apple Watch Edition

Microsoft Buys Minecraft, 3 perspectives

How much money was the company bought for?
Microsoft acquired Mojang for a smooth 2.5 BILLION dollars.
Mojang blog post

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.
Notch, on his personal website

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire Mojang for $2.5 billion. Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis. Subject to customary closing conditions and any regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close in late 2014.
Microsoft Press Release

a blog by Ian Kennedy