The Experience of Searching the Web for a Photo Camera

I’ve been visiting for the past few days a corner of the Web that I never visited before, that is the photo camera reviews searches. What I’m finding here is a battle for the first page of Google that, in my thinking, could only be beneficial for the reader, or the information seeker. However, after spending some interesting time in these quarters, I reached an interesting conclusion: these reviews aren’t 100% accurate.

Let’s consider the new Canon G1X Mark II that yours truly found a keen interest in, and let’s take the Google results all the way from DPReview.com to the lesser Maxcnash.com. That’s four pages of reviews of the same photo camera. Do you think these reviews are slanted, biased, or objective? I would say that, on a scale of 1 to ten, they are at least one point more than they should be on the pink side. Since all these sites want you to click through through their affiliate links, they have all the interest in the world to put a camera in as good a light as possible.

Often times however, the little guys’ reviews are a great resource that gives you the little hints and pointers that you need, since they are not that much involved in the commercial politics that large sites get themselves engulfed in. What gives then? Take it all with the due grain of salt!

Audits, Attendance and the Mac Media

The folks at The Consumer Electronics Association, the people who put on CES each year in Las Vegas, sent out a press release to the media trumpeting their attendance figures for the show this past January. The numbers are staggering.

3,319 exhibitors (up 22% over last year), 5,000 media, 1.86 million net square feet of exhibit space and a record 156,153 attendees.

These numbers are from an independent audit of CES so it’s fair to assume they are accurate. Why is that important? Well, CES is going to charge any number of people, including exhibitors, based on those numbers. The higher the attendance figures, the more popular the show is, the more CES can charge vendors. Accurate, audited numbers serve everyone well.

Contrast that with IDG, the organization that put on the Macworld|iWorld show this past January. In the past, and only for a few years, IDG independently audited and announced attendance figures for the show. But as the show has become smaller, they have stopped doing those audits and only release rough guesses on the number of attendees. IDG claims an estimated 25,000 people at this past show.

My guess is that number is high if only because it’s the exact same number of attendees IDG reported for the show in 2011 even though the 2012 show was smaller and less busy.

Many people will say it doesn’t matter but IDG works the same way CES does – higher numbers means higher charges to exhibitors. If you were going to exhibit at next year’s Macworld|iWorld, wouldn’t you like accurate attendance figures to help you judge whether the show is worth your company’s hard earned dollars?

Before 2004, IDG management announced attendance figures moments after the show floor closed. Those of us in the Mac Media knew those numbers were pulled out of thin air and were “optimistic” to be generous. In 2004, IDG started auditing the numbers and, while attendence “fell” dramatically, we felt better knowing the attendance figures were more accurate. Unfortunately, they stopped in 2007.

Let’s see how many in the Mac Media follow up on the CES press release and ask IDG Management about independent audits of Macworld|iWorld attendance. I predict you’ll be able to count them on the fingers of one hand, if at all.

“iPad’s display is a challenge for manufacturers” Really? Got proof?

CNET (yeah…you know it’s going to be bad) writes that the “iPad’s display is cutting edge–and a challenge for manufacturers” - oh really? According to who,  Crothers?

“according to a display analyst.”

“three manufacturers that are pretty good at making displays and they’re having difficulty supplying it,” said Richard Shim, an NPD DisplaySearch analyst.”

“We know that LG is having some problems” but should begin volume production soon, Shim said.”

“LG’s problems are not as severe as Sharp’s,” Shim said. “We hear [Sharp] may switch back to amorphous silicon.”

None of the above is proof. None of the above contains any facts. But all of the above puts the manufacturers of Apple’s new Retina Displays for the iPad, in a negative light.

Crothers writes, “only time will tell if there is a supply crunch for the new iPad.” And I’m sure you’ll attribute any supply crunch to display issues and not simply demand.

Cause that’s the ONLY possible reason…

Did ZDNet ever write well?

I ask that as a serious question because, over the past few years, it seems their columnists just write whatever drivel pops into their heads with absolutely no thought, logic or common sense associated. Is there no one who reads their dreck and calls bullshit on what they post?

The latest is from David Morgenstern in “Backroom only for Thunderbolt cables”, he talks about how difficult it is to find cabling for his Thunderbolt-capable devices. Perfectly fine topic of conversation although I don’t know of how much real value the article provides. It boils down to “It’s hard to find new technology and it’s expensive”. No shit, Sherlock.

He ends his (mostly useless) article with a story of going to an Apple Store to buy a Thunderbolt cable. He can’t find any on the shelves so he asks staff to assist:

He said they were likely in “the back.” Another round of internal discussions ensued until the shrink-wrapped cable was finally brought out. $49. Could it be that these easy-to-shoplift cables are so valuable (or rare) that they must be left in the back room? Or is it that there are few sales of the cables and they don’t warrant a spot on the shelves? Could be both reasons.

REALLY? That’s the best you could come up with? If you had the common sense God gave rocks, you could have looked around the STORE YOU WERE IN to see if anything with a greater value than the $49 cable you were buying was on the shelves. Because….you know…that would be a data point for your idiotic shoplifting theory….

But you didn’t. Instead, you wrote your little screed and showed the world that, once again, common sense and logic are slowly dying…

Disingenuous? Moi?

After the Department of Justice filed suit against Apple, they took two days to come up with the statement sent to the media. They should have taken a few more shots at it.

Apple’s spokesman Tom Neumayr:

The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry.

I hope Neumayr was holding his nose when he wrote that. While it is true to a point, there’s no denying prices have gone up for consumers because of Apple and the other publishers breaking Amazon’s “monopolistic grip”.

Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging.

Irrelevant.

Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.

Again, true to a point but ignores the fact it allows, and Apple has actively encouraged, much higher prices for ebooks.

Don’t get me wrong – both issues, Amazon’s (potential) monopoly abuse and Apple’s participation in “agency pricing” – are of concern to any number of constituents. But Apple should not be allowed to hide behind the “we’re only thinking of the consumer” bullshit.

Spilling the Beans – Norton Identity Safe now available

In my day job, I get a lot of press releases announcing everything from the latest cool new products to dumb stuff like “we updated our web site with pretty new graphics!” The vast majority of them are of little interest but occasionally, a gem pops up that has to be commented on.

For those of you unfamiliar, companies will sometimes have embargoes – where they tell the media about their products days or weeks in advance but ask the media to not reveal the details until a particular date and time. You see it often with products from Apple. Ever notice how The Usual Suspects all get their Apple product reviews posted at almost the exact same time? It’s because Apple has contacted them and said, “We’ll let you use our latest toys but you can’t tell anyone about it until this date/time”.

The key is the method I described – the company contacts the journalist and asks if they would like to be involved but constrained by certain ground rules. This allows the journalist to decide whether or not to participate. But what happens when you have a company that sends you a press release with all the details and then tries to put you under embargo, without you ever having agreed to it? This…

Tomorrow [Tuesday], Norton will announce a new, free, secure password manager – Norton Identity Safe – that works on Macs and iOS.According to a recent survey by Norton, 70 percent of people have forgotten at least one of their passwords in the past month – not surprising, when you consider how many passwords we all have to remember on a daily basis, whether on our home computers, laptops or mobile phones. In fact, when given a choice of several challenging tasks, 40 percent of people indicate remembering all of their passwords is among the top three most difficult – more than those who selected balancing their checkbook.

As a result, people often resort to using weak passwords based on their pets’ or family members’ names or using the same password across multiple sites, leaving them at risk of identity theft and loss of personal information when a hacker cracks one obvious password and gains access to all of their online accounts.

Others keep a physical list of passwords at home – not much use for the 48 percent of people who access online accounts on the go from their mobile device.

The Norton PR person sending out the email then writes, “Below are the press release and screenshots of the product, under embargo until Tuesday, April 24 at 8 a.m. ET/ 5 a.m. PT.”

I never agreed to be embargoed. I have no prior relationship with Norton or this PR person. They never contacted me by phone, email, Twitter, smoke signals….From my point of view, I am under no obligation to “keep their secret”.

You can get this new product, for free, at Norton’s web site.

But contrary to their own press release, it doesn’t seem to be available for the Mac OS yet.

Why my next Tablet will run Windows 8 (Good. Stop writing about the iPad)

We are going to see a lot of these kinds of articles in the coming weeks and months. I encourage you to read them with an open mind and attempt to understand what the writer is trying to get at.

Just don’t start with this article from Tech.pinions.

Android and iOS tablets do a yeoman’s job when it comes to consuming content, but lack the software tools and hardware features needed to create content.

Garageband, iPhoto, iMovie, Pages, Keynote…Those are all from Apple. There are hundreds of others from dozens of other vendors – all very capable of creating content in all kinds of ways.

He doubles down with:

“Content Creation” as I use the term applies to a broad range of activities that includes tasks as varied as a student taking notes, a worker recording and distributing meeting notes, a club secretary assembling and distributing newsletters, a teenager spiffing up the audio from a band performance, a webmaster updating a website, and a mother preparing her annual Christmas letter.

Ah! That’s how he defines it. OK. Fair enough. HE’S STILL COLOSSALLY WRONG.

It’s OK to critique the iPad for any number of reasons. But try not to do it in ways that make you look, at the very least, uninformed and at the worse, setting up a straw man argument to make your premise look better.