A positive image

Screenshot of apple.com on  12/12/13
Screenshot of apple.com on 12/12/13

For the true meaning of Nelson Mandela’s achievements and popularity, you’ll just need to head over to apple.com.

As much as I agree that Mandela was a true and popular leader the world hasn’t met since Gandhi, I wonder what it takes to qualify for this Apple benchmark and how companies in general are trying to leverage his positive image for their own brand.

Some notes

Somehow odd, and hence qualifying to be published as a blog post (instead of a tweet): pop-culture-wise, some of my offline friends (regardless of their age, btw) seem to be living under a massive rock. A rock so huge that they don’t seem to realize anything happening outside of their world.

Cosplay, src: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/11/just-the-two-of-us-cosplay/
Cosplay, src: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/11/just-the-two-of-us-cosplay

Am I the only one who experiences this? I mean, I have friends – good and dear friends – who don’t care about any contemporary cultural developments, like good music or other commercial art. You don’t have to be an online geek like me, follow any reddit/imgur posts or need to know any internet meme, you don’t need to follow the news / politics or know anything about the technological changes surrounding us. But something small….something would be most welcome.

When I talk to them, I have to make sure not to mention anything that might have been developed after 1980. Sometimes I need to explain basics like the meaning of “nerd“.

Some of these friends have an e-mail address. An inbox they check out once a month. To reach them, I need to call or send an sms. A short message (yeah!), because they don’t even have a smartphone.

These offline friends – I really like them. But still – they are odd. In a contemporary context, probably as odd to me as these Cosplay geeks may be to my mother.

The worst group out there, however, aren’t these “Offliners”, but instead the group in betweeen: the FB-haters who don’t post anything out of fear a future employer may track something embarassing; the FB-haters who keep on mentioning how their kids keep them busy and away from the keyboard (~ while there are a bunch of other mums and dads online who are oversharing); the social-media-haters who dismiss Twitter as a waste of time BUT at the time publish all their mental sensitivities via the offline backchannel also known as WhatsApp (!). The offliners who will overshare “funny” pics and videos you’ve seen on 9gag three years ago. On WhatsApp.

The same group may btw not even know what a BarCamp is all about.

And then there’s this group:

Another brilliant one via XKCD (src: http://xkcd.com/920/)
Another brilliant one via XKCD (src: http://xkcd.com/920/) (thx, Hinek!)

You’re having dinner with a few friends and then someone pulls out his phone and mentions, how he/she has recently seen a nice YouTube video and yaddayaddayadda… what follows is a prolonged YouTube session with uninterested parties sharing “funny” videos online. “Oh, have you seen THIS one….”.

And there you go wondering about Buzzfeed and Mashable sharing yet another “Best of…”, “the best [nominalization]…”, “Top 7 reasons why…” etc. post.

Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis

Bought this packet of “Dried Licorice Slices” from a Chinese shop today. Delicious stuff that I am using for teas and pure chewing pleasures. I also love liquorice (Dutch liquorice, that is), but this certainly is the low carb version and equally sweet :-)

Dried Licorice Slices

Now, as this comes from China, I keep on wondering about the conditions under which this liquorice plant (Glycyrrhiza yunnanensis) is cultivated. Where did it grow? How long has it been transported? How old is it? What kind of water was used to irrigate the plants? Where does the water come from? Is it contaminated in any way? And what about the packaging – what kind of plastic was used and which colours were used for the printing of the packaging?

On Windows 8.x

There’s probably a bunch of things that could be said about Windows 8 or the upcoming update Windows 8.1 – but as someone who has only recently been required to use Windows 8 on his new laptop, let me just say these two things:

1. The User Interface
The Metro UI new Microsoft design language (i.e. the tiles and the fonts) instead of the start menu – this probably makes sense on tablet computers, but for most other requirements (i.e. corporate), most people just want to stick to what they already have and which works for them.
The first thing I did on my Win8 machine was to install Classic Shell to get the tradidtional start menu back. I did this – not because I disliked the new tiles design – but because I missed a quick overview on all installed apps. That is, I understand the need for a clean cut and appreciate all efforts on user interface improvements, but for my needs – and probably a lot of other users too who have a dedicated tablet with its own OS – the old style just worked. Why change this?

2. Passion, or the lack of it.
I believe that Microsoft could be a great company IF only it would be a bit more passionate about its products.
To me and my perception of what they do, there is a huge gap between MS Research (which is really cool!), some good software products they have bought in the past and since killed or reduced in functionality, their focus on low hanging fruits when it comes to corporate IT needs (which would include the HTML rendering within Office since 2007, which is horrible), their bureaucracy and also their marketing approaches which are nothing but a collection of embarrassing spots and moments. All of this could be so sexy and they both have the potential and market dominance, yet what we’re witnessing here is so below the optimum. Too sad.

For professional reasons, I’ll have to stick to using MS-Windows and MS-Office most of the time, but I so often wish they would just make a giant step forward and tackle some legacy issues and also focus on what really matters to most users. Obviously, this does not include being innovative or marketing innovative technologies, so they should instead stick to optimizing on what they’re good at.

Windows 8.1 may be a good and much needed update to a Vista-like image of the current version, but in the end it’s great software tools (which “just work”) that will deliver revenue, imo. It’s a bit irritating that we’re currently experiencing so many cool apps on mobile operating systems, yet when it comes to desktop requirements, it still feels that we’re still stuck in 1999. I wish there could be a smart and flexible OS for my desktop needs that runs just fine and delivers what I need. Windows, OSX and most Linux distros aren’t delivering it – yet.