Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
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Tagged apple

5 companies that hold a special place in my heart

For one reason or another—both personally and professionally—these companies can do almost no wrong in my eyes:

  1. Dell. I built my first computer as a freshman in high school. Overclocked it, modified it, loved it. Later on, I built several more for family members. And then made-to-order Dell took over the world by the late ’90s. I enthusiastically appreciated their customization, affordability, and no-nonsense style. A decade later, Dell officials hired me as a contract writer for three consecutive years. That engagement largely paid for the downpayment on my first and only house. Although they’ve changed significantly since the ’90s and I now compute on a Macintosh, I still admire them. Continue reading…

How brand loyalty will eventually bite you

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I’m an enthusiastic Amazon, Apple, Uber, and Google user because they make my life easier. I don’t think twice before upping my Prime membership. In fact, I like these companies so much, I’ve even willing to pay a little extra for the convenience they offer.

But obsessive brand loyalty will ultimately hurt us, argue two ivy-league economists for USA Today. “Each of us can do our part to make sure Amazon and others never get to the point of ubiquitous domination. It might introduce a bit of hassle and inconvenience into your life, but only a tiny bit. But by taking on this challenge, you’ll be doing the job that antitrust authorities, in an ideal world, might take care of on our behalf – ensuring that consumers and workers, rather than the owners of capital and algorithms – get a piece of the surplus that’s created by new business ideas.”

Make no mistake, I’m a proud American capitalist. But I like it even more when companies compete for my business. “Think about those credit card teasers we all get,” the authors add. “As long as we keep businesses thinking they need to chase after us to try to lock us in, they’ll keep on handing us value rather than using it to pad their bottom line.”

If you agree, consider shopping with competing companies and platforms from time to time to keep your favorite companies on their toes, hungry for your business, and willing to let you keep a greater share of the value.

Why I won’t buy an Apple Watch (for now)

Courtesy Apple

Courtesy Apple

Constantly checking your wrist watch is less rude and less distracting than constantly checking your smartphone. It might even improve your life.

Or so says a report from Wired on why Apple chose to manufacture the forthcoming iWatch, which serves as a second, more accessible screen for your iPocket, I mean iPhone.

“Your phone is ruining your life,” writes David Pierce, who, like many others, ignorantly blames the object instead of the abuser. Rather than setting boundaries on his technology, Pierce and others like him egotistically search for reasons to be elsewhere in thought and suffer the consequence.  Continue reading…

Either/or: How using the Internet affects our lives

Wired

Andrew White/WIRED

Ev Williams believes the internet is “a giant machine designed to give people what they want.” In a speech reported by Wired, the co-inventor of Blogger and Twitter added, “We often think the internet enables us to do new things, but people just want to do the same things.”

For instance, we want to socialize, entertain ourselves, learn, and make work easier. The internet does all four better than any other convenience of the last century.

It does this in two ways, Williams explains. “Big hits on the internet (think Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon) are masters at making things fast and not making people think… But the internet is not a utopian world. It’s like a lot of other technological revolutions.”  Continue reading…

Three reasons the iPhone is more dumbphone than smartphone

3gsAfter six (sometimes) productive years, I abandoned the sinking ship that is BlackBerry last week. In it’s place, I upgraded to the “magical,” status-enhancing iPhone.

As early adopters discovered a few years ago, it’s more than a phone: it’s the greatest piece of personal technology ever invented. Phone, texter, navigator, iPod, mini TV, game console, digital assistant, e-reader, and tiny computer all in one. Not only did it serve as the inspiration for the more popular Android clone, the iPhone is the more organic and less painful version of touchscreen phones, i.e. not unlike what Macs often are to Windows machines.

Of course, like all smartphones, the iPhone can be a total drag on your analog life if you don’t set limits. (In my case, that means shunning a data plan, turning off all alerts except for voice calls, staying away from it as much as possible on nights and weekends, and only connecting to the internet when I need it, as opposed to the more common always-on, always wired, and always distracting “push” internet mode. More on that in my forthcoming book.)

But the iPhone gets a whole lot more right than it gets wrong. In fact, I count only three usability flaws on the device: Continue reading…

Clever ad: Turning the tables on obsessive geek culture

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Using iOS is still less of a pain than using Android. That is, the form is still better.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the attached ad is incredibly effective in speaking to the majority of smartphone users who don’t appreciate, nor do they want to associate with, the millions of off-putting Apple fans parodied above.

In any case, wouldn’t it be great if phones could go back to being useful tools rather than modern day golden calves?

My shallow review of Steve Jobs’ official biography

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Assuming his biography well represents him, Steve Jobs was a jerk for much of his life. A work-a-holic with eating disorders, incredibly bratty, ruthless.

I’m sure a lot of devout followers will excuse his actions with “no one is perfect.” I prefer that justification, however, for people who are at least trying to improve their social skills with age, instead of sticking to their anti-social guns as Jobs did for much of his life.

Continue reading…

Great story about Steve Jobs

steve_jobsRead it here.

PS – Is it possible to build a company as influential as Apple without sacrificing ones’s personal health and well-being? I wonder.

PSS – I suspect this guy is right in his prediction that Jobs will continue to pull strings so long as he’s alert.

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Would you pay $430 for a browser-only Macbook Air?

samsung-srs5_chrome-glamor-open-lg

Because that’s what you get when you buy a Samsung Wi-Fi Chromebook.

Admittedly, it’s not a perfect analogy. The Macbook Air is skinnier in the front and capable of 1080p playback, whereas the Samsung Chromebook can only render 720p HD. The former is also made of industrial titanium, whereas the latter uses high-end Macbook-like plastic. And in terms of startup and resume times, the Chromebook is faster—near instantaneous. Continue reading…

My Chromebook is a fast tablet with a faster keyboard

chomebook

I’ve been using Google’s new Chromebook for over a month now. I use it a lot, often times reaching for it over my Macbook.

Why? It starts and stops faster. In a single second even. It connects to the internet faster. In seconds, mind you. The thing is quick and lightweight. Much like a tablet computer or iPad.

Better still, the Chromebook has a full-size but no-nonsense keyboard, making it the faster and better input device when compared to tablets. And it has a lot more “apps” than closed-system tablets.

Admittedly, the trackpad is finicky. But overall, I’m very impressed with the Chromebook, especially as it’s replaced some of the functions I used to prefer on either my desktop or laptop. It might be the best living-room laptop ever made. And it’s a great travel option as well.

If manufacturers price this thing under $300, I think it will make significant waves in the computing world upon release this summer.

Microsoft and Apple beware: Google on to something with new OS

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I watched the Google Chrome OS demo today and came away impressed. The product won’t meet the need of power-users, producers, and mult-media creators. But for everyone else, including power-users when they don’t need extra power, Chrome OS is the first legitimate consumer rival for both Macintosh and Windows I’ve ever seen. Much more so than Linux ever was (at least in a consumer sense).

Some highlights about Chrome OS, which has a planned release of “mid-2011” in select Acer and Samsung laptops:

  • “Nothing but the Web.”
  • Chrome OS features a fast and simple setup process, remarkably fast boot times and an instant resume feature to minimize wait time when the OS wakes from sleep.
  • Unified experience across Chrome on netbooks, desktops and more.
  • Multiple user support and guest mode — everything a user does in guest mode is private and history is deleted instantly when a session is ended.
  • Verizon Wireless cellular data connectivity (international options are available as well) in every Chrome OS notebook/netbook — no contracts, no activation fees and monthly plans starting at $9.99.
  • Updates are seamless — no user operations are required to update the OS or apps.
  • Most secure OS in the world — security is a major focus of Chrome OS; all Chrome OS data is encrypted by default.
  • Verified boot — core OS components are in firmware that cannot be modified.
  • Enterprise options — Google is working closely with partners like Citrix to ensure the enterprise market is addressed.
  • Google’s Chrome OS PCs get faster over time, not slower like other PCs.
  • Initial manufacturing partners include Acer, Samsung and Intel.

Will Chrome OS overtake the world? No. But I could see it becoming as ubiquitous as Google’s own Gmail, if not bigger. Which is huge.

In other words, watch this space. Desktop computing is about to change. If only in how we store an access many of our files.

See also: Will Google Chrome OS change computers?

Think your clients are unreasonable? Imagine dealing with this on a daily basis

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My brother-in-law works in a Manhattan commercial music studio, producing jingles and licensing original music for use in advertising. Apparently, he deals with this regularly. Favorite line: “That is insulting. We would go out of business if we agreed to terms like that.”

More proof that unrealistic buyers are everywhere. (Although I still think there is value in licensing consumer music in advertising, which this video seems to discredit in an effort to sell more commercial music. What’s more, if demand is this high for “rip off” commercial music, I imagine a supplying studio could really clean up.)

See also: I’m sorry we can’t make a deal. Please don’t heckle me.