National Coffee Day

That’s right. Today, September 29th, is National Coffee Day. Mmmm, coffee. Cup o’ joe. Drip. Mud. Java. Donut helper. So have a second cup. Or a third. Or a fourth or fifth …

Mmmm, coffee.

Jeter. So What?

If you were not aware that Major League Baseball was played before 1990, you might be forgiven for thinking that Derek Jeter is the Greatest Baseball Player In The History Of Ever Oh My God Break Out The Stars And Stripes!

Ugh.

Joe DiMaggio - an actual greatListen – the guy is a likeable player. Never gets in trouble, never says stupid or inflammatory things, clean cut, dresses well, doesn’t act like an NFL player or any other kind of criminal … it’s all good. But one of the greats? Hardly. The guy was a decent player, with average per-year stats who hung around long enough to end up with some nice totals. But he’s not one of the great hitters of the age – the dude strikes out more in a month than Joe DiMaggio did in two years. And as far as fielding goes he is mostly competent … unless you count the fact that he has cost his team more runs with his defence than any other shortstop in history. Then you might want to replace “mostly” with “barely”. Hell, his “signature highlight” is a play where he is so far out of position that you could use the footage as a training tape to teach little leaguers how not to play the infield.

So yeah. Yay Jeter for a nice career. But he’s not one of the greatest players of all time, not even close. Hell, he’s not even one of the greatest Yankees of all time. So can we please stop all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth now?

Jeezus.

Smartie 0649

0.018: The price (in U.S. dollars) that it costs the United States government to produce each penny.

iOS 8.0.1 Is A Complete Disaster

In case you have been sitting under a rock and somehow missed all the gleeful finger-pointing, the first update for iOS is a total dud. If you live in Canada (and hey, this is a .ca blog) you will probably have no issues, but it’s best to avoid the whole thing for now. For those of you in the USA who have already applied the update, however, your anger is palpable. And entirely justified. This turd is inexcusable and rightfully embarrassing for Apple. If they can’t get a repaired update out within the week, heads need to roll in Craig Federighi’s department. Including, quite frankly, Craig’s.

If there is any cold consolation in this, it’s that users have control of when and how they take iOS updates, and unless it is a top-number update most people don’t see to get around to it the first day. For Android users, who get their updates pushed to them whether they want them or not (when their carriers actually allow them an update, that is) this could have been beyond horrible.

The iPhone Sixes

You know what is ironic? And actually ironic, not just a “coincidence” which is what all of the examples in the Alanis Morissette song actually are? The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are the largest iPhones that Apple has ever made … and this will probably be the shortest assessment I ever actually write about a new iOS product. Why? Because both the good and the bad are obvious, top-level, and startlingly easy to quantify. Ready? Start your stopwatches …

The Good: The innards of the new iPhones are inarguably the most advanced in any pocket computer on the market. Period. It’s not even close. Designing and manufacturing their own chips has given Apple a massive advantage here, and I am continually amazed that the other handset makers continue to piss around with generic silicon. The reason is obviously one of money … the investment needed to get started down this road is staggering. But the gap in both power and utility is widening, and eventually the other players will eventually have to bite the bullet and get onboard or risk being slowly ghettoized as “discount” hardware.

That must be a 6 Plus!The Bad: The form factor. I don’t like anything about the shape and size of these phones. The iPhone 5S was perfect. Perfect size, perfect buttons, perfect flat edges that were wide enough to stand the handset on either the long side or the short … perfect. The 6 is too big, the power button is in the wrong spot, and the edges are good for nothing but letting the damn thing slip out of your hand. The 6 Plus is exactly the same, except for the “too big” part. Replace that with “idiotically large” and you are in the ballpark. I’m sorry, but when you have to build in a function to make the phone actually usable because of the moronically huge form factor, then perhaps you should re-think the moronically huge form factor part. It’s not quite as much of a joke as this, but it’s still pretty damn bad.

Ugh. Gimme the insides and throw the rest away. Not a fan.

Late To The Party. Again.

Hey! Look at our new phones!  Hello?  Anyone?In just three short days Blackberry will debut their last-ditch effort to get back into the handset wars … a nicely designed, extremely capable, and surprisingly modern product called the Passport.

Three short days.

Or, to look at it another way, five days after ten million people went out and spent their money on something else.

Perhaps Blackberry sees no pressing need to try and attract up to ten million customers with an attractive new product that has been ready to go – yet inexplicably kept under wraps – for the past month. Or perhaps they really have no clue.

Ten million. Zero clue. You do the math.

How To Speak Bloomberg, Part Deux

Last week we told you how to decode Bloomberg-ese – specifically how to recognize the difference between “writing something on behalf of one of my analyst friends who wishes this were true” and “just making shit up”.

This week one of the Bloomberg typists wrote a breathless piece about new iPads being released in October, including this telltale phrase:

Apple Inc. will unveil the next generation of iPad tablets around mid-October, a person with knowledge of the plans said …

You do the math.

Follow The Money – Apple Pay

Unless you have worked in retail or slogged in the trenches of a bank, you probably aren’t familiar with “swipe fees”. In a nutshell, every time you pay for something with a credit card the issuing bank takes a small cut of the total purchase price off the top … generally about two percent. Walk into a store, pay 10 dollars cash for an item, and the retailer puts ten bucks in the till. Pay for the same item with a credit card, and the retailer gets $9.80 … the other 20 cents is skimmed off the top and goes directly into the Giant Profit Buckets of the bank.

Actual Security Footage From An Average North American BankTwo percent might not seem like a lot … until you realize that there are $12 billion dollars in retail credit card transactions every day in the U.S. alone. If you aren’t up for the math, that’s $240 million bucks every single day. It’s not exactly chump change and one of the reasons you see so many commercials from the assorted credit card companies and issuers urging you to use your credit card for everything from groceries to junk food at the ball park.

Now then. Unless you just crawled out from under a rock somewhere, you are probably aware that financial institutions in general and banks in particular love money. Getting them to part with even a tiny bit of it is like trying to separate a six year-old from a chocolate bar. And yet, incredibly, Apple has somehow persuaded them to give up a cut of these fees as a part of the Apple Pay business model … without raising the fees at the retail end.

How? Who knows. It boggles the mind to far, far beyond the point of comprehension. Steve Jobs was rightly known as a legendary negotiator, but Tim Cook must be a whole new level of badass in the boardroom. If anyone ever writes a book about this particular business deal, I am the first in like to buy it.

Wow.

Apple Pay – First Takeaway

The biggest deal here is the security. The combination of encrypted storage and the “Secure Enclave” means that your credit card number is never stored anywhere that is accessible by, well, anyone … including you. When you pay for something the cashier doesn’t get to see your name, credit card number, or security code. The store does not have (or have a chance to lose, cough cough Target cough) your information. And if you lose your phone you can just turn off the payments system remotely – you don’t need to go through the rigmarole of cancelling your credit cards, because they were never lost.

Forget the convenience factor – the security is the real selling point.

UPDATE: The publication of the Home Depot security breach could not have come on a better day for Apple. At literally the same time that Tim Cook was standing on stage explaining that a key pillar of Apple Pay was that retailers will not get to see, handle, store, or process your credit card number, a major brick-and-mortar chain was admitting to why those selfsame retailers can’t be trusted with that information.

Two points that really stand out here: One, reading between the lines it appears that major banks have now infiltrated the skeezy underworld of fraudulent credit cards … they obviously have staff who are in deep enough that they can buy up enough stolen numbers to do a decent level of analysis on the product. And two, mainstream media outlets are finally starting to give Brian Krebs the credit he deserves when reporting this stuff. In the past you would see traditional publications report on incidents that were broken by Krebs without ever crediting him as the reason they started working on the story in the first place. Better late than never, I guess.

Apple Watch: First Thought

The money in aftermarket straps and accessories is going to be Fucking Huge. Capital F, capital H.