Sanely Great

Google Play Music In Romania: Finally here!

Happy happy, joy joy! Got some very good news today: there finally is a good streaming service available in Romania. Google Play Music is here!

I know, there was already the French service Deezer, and a local flavoured one called Zonga, but of course no Spotify, Pandora, Rdio or even iTunes Radio. So Google Play Music was a more than welcomed addition to this barren field. I signed up immediately for the 30-day free trial and I’ll probably end up subscribing to the All Access music service.

Of course, still no decent movies/tv shows streaming option in sight. No Netflix, no Hulu, no Amazon Prime or even iTunes movies. Still a long way to go there. But today’s first little step has the potential to be a stepping stone towards future launches of good services. Fingers crossed!

Long time no see

Whoah, it's been a while since I felt like putting words to (virtual) paper. Life kind of got in the way and I just kept my thoughts to myself – it's not like anyone else would have thoroughly missed them.

I don't wanna put on pressure and call this a new beginning, but my 10pm revelation fueled this desire to maybe start posting again. A revelation brought on by Gina Trapani's short-form blogging manifest. It made me realize that the main obstacle for my writing comes from the normally accepted criterias for blogging. Number of words, theme, keywords, visitors, social sharing and so on. All that clutter made me ever-reluctant to write anything, for fear it wouldn't be perfect, or have enough time for it, or even seen by anybody.

You know what? I don't care about those things anymore. I can write 10-words posts or 1000-words novels, whenever I want, wherever I can. Turn this into a digital personal journal instead of a website with target and traffic. The reader – my amazing self.

Sometimes the simplest of ideas can have the most impact. So thanks, Gina, for the virtual push. Let's put it to good use.


A few thoughts on iOS 7

I’ve updated both my iPhone 4S and iPad 3rd gen to iOS 7. So far, I both hate it and love it. It’s significantly better on the iPhone than on the iPad.

Let’s just say that on the iPad I’m anxiously looking forward to iOS 7.1, after experiencing several crashes and restarts and an approximate 20% reduction in battery life.

I see this version as a global access to an iOS beta – it’s probably the most unfinished OS version ever launched by Apple. The potential is there, it’s obvious everywhere you look, but… It’s nowhere near the level of polish and flawlessnes we’ve come to expect from Cupertino.

Having said that, I do have high hopes for this new OS. We’ll see how it feels after a couple of updates.

Idea for improving Amazon’s Kindle eBooks

Here my concept: automatical conversion of units in ebooks, based on reader’s location.

Now let me expand on that.

First of all, I’m using Amazon as an example as it’s the largest provider of ebooks (I think), but the concept also applies to Apple’s iBooks store and other publishers of electronic books.

The concept comes from trying to solve one of my frustrations with reading English written books: I’ve no problem understanding every little word and phrasing, but I do ocasionally get stuck when reading portions using imperial units (as I primarily am accustomed to the metric system used in Europe).

Just to give you a quick example: I’m currently reading Tim Ferris’s amazing book The 4-Hour Chef and this units conversion stuff is constantly slowing me down and dilluting the overall experience. When I read “230-lb” my mind has to translate that into “104 kg”, and that’s something that shouldn’t happen, it breaks your reading concentration and the understanding of the content. Trying to make sense of recipes and ingredients’ quantities (after all, it’s a cooking book at its core) is made easier by using both oz and mg, as well as Celsius next to Fahrenheit, and that’s a damn good thing done by Tim when writing the book.

But my point is: not all imperial units were translated into metric ones and, most important, this shouldn’t be Tim’s job to begin with.

This should be something done automatically by Amazon. And it can be accomplished in more than one way:

– you could be asked when you’re buying the ebook if you prefer imperial or metric units and, upon choosing a variant, be provided with the appropriate ebook containing only the units of your choice

– the Kindle reader app could detect your location and switch automatically the content version of the book to match the ones used in that country/area

– I’m sure there are other ways that developers could come up with to try and solve this annoyance

Here’s me hoping that I don’t have to do math in my head when trying to enjoy a great book. Because I suck at math.

“Progress is made by lazy people looking for easier ways to do things.”

Apple’s Rich: Should I Be Happy About It?

There’s no secret that Apple’s the richest company in the world. Through its stock value (although this fluctuates somewhat, depending on the stupid rumour of the day) but foremost through its enormous cash in the bank reserve: over $100 billion.

But how did Apple get to have such a huge amount of money in its pockets? First of all, their products are great. They’re designed and engineered to be the best and people are buying them like crazy. That’s common knowledge. But there’s also something else that sets Apple apart and enabled them to reach this high level of financial health: their huge, way above industry average, profit margins.

Though margins for the Mac line, for example, are just above 20%, the biggest cash cows are now the iPhone and the iPad, with profit margins above 40% and even reaching into the low 50% at times. To give you a comparison, Samsung (who is Apple’s closest competitor so far) has a profit margin that’s only recently reached 20% for its phones division.

It has long been Apple’s philosophy to go for the profit margin rather than for the market share. And the latest reports have consistently shown Android gaining more market while Apple keeps on raking in the lion’s share of the money. Which strategy is the right one? Well, so far Apple’s thinking has brought the financial results to which a company can only dream of.

Naturally, there are two opinions at hand here: “Android is winning” and “Apple’s still winning”. The “market share” argument is always brought about by the Android fans and the Apple-hating part of the tech press (and since hating Apple always produces the most pageviews, this trend has caught on real fast in the online press world). And the counter-argument here, coming from the Apple tech writers and bloggers, is pretty obvious: since Apple is still making the most money, they’re still the king of the hill and Android will never beat it.

Since I am somewhat a part of the latter world, I tend to agree with the conclusion: Apple is still very much in the driving seat of the tech car. But what I cannot understand is the undisimulated content from the Apple suporters when their argument regarding Apple’s money supports this cause. Here’s my problem with this: I know Apple’s making all that money, that they’re a more than healthy company because of this and they’re constantly producing beautiful products; but why in hell should this make me happy?

Unless you’re an AAPL stock owner (which most of the people aren’t), I see no reason to be this excited when I’m arguing that Apple’s money making ways are something good. Why? Because Apple would be a rich company if they’d have a profit margin of, let’s say, 25% for their mobile devices. That’s approximately half of what they make right now.

You know what would make me happy? If I could buy the cheapest retina iPad for $375 instead of $500! Apple would still make $125 on the deal and I would be able to buy these more often than now. Everyone wins. Now that would be something to be happy about; as opposed to being content to pay much more and smilingly argument your article about how Apple’s winning because it makes the most profit out of all the companies in the tech world.

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