Is Less More?

Is less more?Salesperson: “Hello Sir, Mobile XYZ here phoning about your mobile phone contract, we…”
Me: “It’s an iPhone.”
Salesperson: “That’s lovely sir, anyway about your mobile…”
Me: “They’re exclusively with O2, you’re wasting your time… and mine.”
Salesperson: “…”

It’s happened twice already.

In my vision of an Apple inspired future I hadn’t foreseen the welcome side-effect of the demise of mobile phone contract parasites (or that being scewed by O2 would have an upside) and it got me wondering what else in our lives would be better if we had less choice?

Do we really need to choose which company sends us a bill for our electricity, gas, water etc? If comrade Stalin-Brown nationalised the lot again we’d have less choice but we’d all pay exactly the same and we wouldn’t have to endure those pesky comparison website TV adverts.

Do we really need so many separate remote controls with myriad buttons we’ll never use? I don’t. Apple’s remote control is an marvel of self-restraint which everyone can use without a manual, it just works. There’s even an Apple iPhone App(lication) which lets me control iTunes from anywhere in the house. All we need now is some smarty pants to come up with a box of tricks which let’s me control everything from my iPhone and I can throw all my remote controls away – I see there’s already a company working on this, but I’d rather Apple took charge and did the job properly.

Less is more was always my favourite design philosophy but it hadn’t occurred to me having less choice might also be a good thing. I’m certainly losing brain cells quicker than I’m making new ones these days so working smarter is good but working simpler is where it’s at.

Given a free choice I choose less choice.

Apple iPhone iOS 2.0 Updated At Last

Apple iPhone iOS 2.0After my earlier rant I finally managed to upgrade my iPhone to iOS 2.0 at around 8pm Friday evening.
It wasn’t a good user experience and days later the MobileMe service is still a bit clunky so it’s hard to get a handle on how useful it will be to me.
I’ve just discovered there’s now a Windows MobileMe control panel to set sync preferences and now my email, contacts and calendars on iPhone, Mac and PC are all in sync which is cool.
I’ve just spent some time in my happy place (new tech toys to play with) browsing around the new Apple Apps Store downloading and playing with some of the excellent Apps.
Here’s my first thoughts:

The Facbook App The original web app was great and although this app doesn’t really offer anything new it feels more seamless and it’s cool to instant message with other online Facebook users.

Apple iPhone 2Shazam Load this up and play any piece of music and in around 15 seconds it’ll tell you the track, the artist along with links to YouTube videos and more – perfect for setting arguments and combating brain freeze. The only downside is this is a time limited version – so how much they want for it will decide whether it remains on my iPhone.

Remote Control your Apple TV and iTunes music libraries from your iPhone. It’s free and works really well but I also want to be able to play the music on my iPhone via remote speakers. There’s also a remote control web app which replicates the Apple remote features and I’d like to see these two remotes combined into one killer app.

Twittelator Twitter on the move from your iPhone and it will also update your Facebook status (if you have this set this up in your Twitter account preferences).
In addition to posting twitters you can add photos from your camera roll or take a snap. There’s a “panic” feature which posts your location along with a shout for help which is bound to save someone’s life before long.
There’s also Twitterific which is available as a free ad sponsored version or a premium version costing £5.99 which removes the ads but Twittelator gets the job done for free so I’m not sure there’s a future for a paid version.

Shanghai Mahjong I’m not into console games but I do have a weakness for Mahjong when I need to chill for half an hour. There are already 6 different Mahjong apps on the Apps store priced from £0.59 to £5.99 so I plumped for this version from MobileAge which cost me £2.99 and it’s an excellent implementation with some great features and a wide range of tile designs and backgrounds. I do need a zoom feature for this app because my eyes soon became tired of staring at tiny tiles.

iPhone Stuck In Hyperspace!

iphone stuck in hyperspaceThe problem with being right about the popularity of the new iPhone is I didn’t get one and now my 1st generation iPhone is useless too!

For me the trouble started with Apple’s decision not to sell the new iPhone online and I buy all my Apple gear from the UK Apple Store online and I didn’t want to queue at a shop for their PR benefit.

Then O2 sent me an text message upgrade invitation, excellent I thought, I can still upgrade online and get an iPhone delivered to my door this Friday morning.

Then the O2 website broke due to overwhelming demand (event though O2 had been testing their servers all week to cope with a 250% increase in demand).

By the time I managed to get a working website the O2 online store had sold out and I decided to wait and have a play with the new 2.0 iPhone software on my 1st generation iPhone since I do most of my browsing via WiFi at home the 3G and SatNav features are not top of my priority list.

So I kept trying to download the new software via iTunes and eventually managed to download it mid-afternoon only to find after backing up and restoring my iPhone that the iTunes upgrade activation servers are down so now even my existing iPhone is stuck in Hyperspace.

Way to go Apple to piss off one of your most loyal customers.

Barbados – Message In A Bottle

Barbados message in a bottle
I had several other working titles for this blog post:

“Barbados – The Pleasure & The Pain”
Pleasure because it really was a pleasure to spend time in the company of some of the nicest people around the affiliate marketing scene, some I’d known for years like Pete, Lee, Chris, Ian, Keith, J Lil with apologies to anyone I’ve forgotten and new friends Gulshan (my roomie), Nic, Meisha, Neil, Tom, Aldo, Elizabeth, Naomi, Hannah, James Avery, Mike, Sinéad, Siri, Ben, Sarah(s), Mark and quite a few others whose names I can’t spell until you get in touch with me. I think we’re all agreed Barbados is a beautiful island and it was a pleasure to explore and interact with the locals who are generally chilled, mild mannered, intelligent, respectful and delightful people.

Pain because I managed to badly sunburn myself the first afternoon. In my enthusiasm to go body boarding, one of my favourite things to do wherever I go in the world, I picked up some waterproof SPF50 lotion slapped it on all over but it clearly didn’t work as advertised because I ended up bright red for the rest of the week and now my skin looks like a contour map of the island! And there were the hangovers!

“Barbados – Mixing Business With Pleasure”
I can’t imagine any better way for a network to switch me on to their message than jetting me off to Barbados and Affiliate Future have evolved this winning formula over several years which works remarkably smoothly. There were no formal presentations, no hard sell, just plenty of suggested outings and things we might like to participate in. The only onslaught is alcohol which, as an affiliate, is beer off a ducks back. AlcOClock usually kicked off after breakfast with a poolside bottle of Banks, the local lager, followed by Rum & Cokes (Barbados is famous for Mount Gay Rum which has to be the smoothest rum in the world) leading inexorably to Happy Hour and strawberry Dacaries before heading out for the evening – and we had some great evenings.

My highlights of the week were:
Scuba diving: I was really nervous about scuba diving, I’m comfortable in the sea hanging off my body board but trusting technology to help me breath underwater is huge leap of faith and thanks to Andrew at Eco Dive and Frostie for making that leap a little less scary. We dived down to a shipwreck at around 15m and I also saw a sea turtle, octopus, shoals of fish, all in all a fantastic first experience and I can’t imagine a better place for a first dive.

Touring the island in a Suzuki Jeep: We hired a bunch of vehicles and headed off to explore Barbados which is just 166 square miles (by my reckoning about the same size as the Isle of Wight) which means you can get around the entire country in a day! We headed off to a silver sanded beach up the west coast, stopped for lunch at an excellent restaurant, then headed up to the Flower Caves situated at the most northerly point on the island before making a mad dash down to Crane Beach on the Atlantic coast where we arrived at dusk. Don’t ever follow Lee, or try to overtake him, which left me in an awkward catch 22 situation as he made an unorthodox maneuver just as a bunch of local schoolchildren started to cross the road off to my right. Ian shouted “KIDS IN THE ROAD” so I slammed on the brakes and stopped just a few feet away from half a dozen of them as Lee hurtled past in the opposite direction. Neither the kids nor Lee (aka “Team Fun”) seemed in the least bit concerned so we put the episode behind us and we had our very own catchphrase for the rest of the island tour.

Bodyboarding on Crane Beach: We organised a gang in a local Taxi for an afternoon of boarding therapy. The waves were very messy with no opportunity to do anything other than hang onto them and ride straight up the beach or get wiped out. These waves were really mean – I got dumped unexpectedly more times here than anywhere else and I ended up banging my head on the bottom for my troubles – not the best place for beginners to learn but I had a fab time.

Karaoke: In the spirit of doing something outside my comfort zone I ended up singing Karaoke in the hotel bar. I joined in with James Avery, Ian and Lee for an interesting variation on “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and after a succession of Mancunian anthems I roped in Ian, Tom and Lee for my choice of “Puff The Magic Dragon” and by the end of the evening there was incriminating video evidence on most of us.

Fish at Oistins: Great food after dark on the beach mixed with lively music and great company is my recipe for happiness and the Marlin and macaroni pie was the best food I ate on the island. I had planned to do a bit of shopping but I think it was Nic that put a stop to that with a bottle of Mount Gay rum and we started on Rum & Cokes. As I’ve grown older I haven’t really got any wiser and that evening I went for it. I don’t remember travelling back to the hotel, I do remember having a fab time in the hotel bar with Nic, Neil, Ian, Kieth, Tom, Sinéad, Chris, Sarah and Ben – who went to bed early and consuming a brain shrinking quantity of Rum & Cokes. I don’t remember eating street meat and I don’t remember how I ended up in bed face down with my clothes still on but it was a great night.

I also enjoyed a couple of drinking sessions at The Ship Inn and a Bajan evening at Harbour Lights where the “young bloods” of the gang really made a lasting impression – one I’m still trying to forget!

Anyway, I settled on “Message In A Bottle” partly because my blog posts have a running theme of song titles and I can imagine sitting on a secluded beach somewhere spamming the oceans with messages in empty bottles of Banks:

“Please tell Deb to come and join me and give our kids the site logins so they can pay their way through university.”

“THANKS to Affiliate Future for stranding me on Barbados and rescuing me from my daily routine”