Tagged: technology

14 Steps to Hating Amazon Music

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The Fox has mentioned it before. The words flow from his pointy mouth quite easily.

“Don’t buy music from Amazon.”

It’s a pretty specific statement. Not much room for interpretation.

But sometimes his wife can only find some obscure song she’s looking for on Amazon.

And then it begins.

Not that iTunes is any gem, but iTunes generally behaves in expected ways and doesn’t get in the way when the Fox is trying to do something.

There appear to be some philosophical differences at Amazon.

Mrs. Fox generally hates computers, so after hunting down the song she’s looking for, she enlists Mr. Fox to go kill it.

This should only take a minute. Except it doesn’t. This does.

  1. On the Amazon website the Fox clicks the clearly marked button “Buy Now” next to the song. (Super easy! +5 points.)
  2. A pop-up window is displayed stating that to buy the song the Fox must download the Amazon Music player app. The Fox is not amused. He only wants to download an MP3 of the song he just bought. “Not so fast”, says Amazon. “We have an entire music playing application that you must have to get the most satisfaction out of that song.” (This is dumb. -5 points.)
  3. Reluctantly, the Fox clicks the clearly marked button to “Download the App”. (This is also dumb…of the Fox. He should have just quit right here. -3 points.)
  4. The app installer downloads and the Fox gets to experience the always exciting application installation process. This wouldn’t be terrible if the Fox was in the market for a new application. He’s not. (Total waste of time. -10 points.)
  5. The new Amazon Music Player app instantly and automatically (read: without the Fox’s desire, consent, or prompting) detects his giant iTunes library and automatically starts importing all songs. The Fox frantically looks for but can’t find any way to stop this. (Automatically doing things the Fox doesn’t want done is not helpful while also inducing anger like symptoms. -20 points.)
  6. Ignoring the annoying import taking place against his will, the Fox begins to look for the song that he just purchased. Surely it’s right here front and center. It’s not. It’s not anywhere. He searches, sorts, filters. Nothing. (This has quickly turned into an exercise in torture. -150 points.)
  7. The music player then alerts the Fox, via pop-up, that he must agree to the Terms and Conditions to use this new app that he never wanted in the first place. The only provided link in the pop-up says “View Terms and Conditions” and…wait for it…clicking the link launches Safari and opens a WEB PAGE! That’s right. The Fox has been thrown out of an app he never wanted into another app he wasn’t expecting to read a web page he never wanted to see. Oh to have been in the room while this experience was cobbled together. (Moving into the realm of pure disbelief. -1,789 points)
  8. The web page has one single banner talking about how awesome Amazon Prime is and how the Fox really needs to use Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime is really great and only losers don’t use Amazon Prime. At the bottom is a small link to view those terms and conditions he was told about, then a rather prominent button that says “Try Amazon Prime”. Now, read carefully. Under the prominent “Try Amazon Prime” button is text that says something like, “To agree to the terms and conditions, click the Try Amazon Prime button.” What? The Fox is stunned, feeling like he’s wandered into some 90’s era Gateway store full of cow-print boxes and Microsoftian crap-ware and devious up-sell quotas. How did I get here. Where the heck is that song I bought? Why can’t I speak in 3rd person anymore? (Dazed and confused -1,345,449 points.)
  9. Desperate to regain some slim grip on reality, (and out of some masochistic curiosity) the Fox clicks the “Try Amazon Prime” button feeling certain he can cancel whatever fee trial garbage he has unwittingly signed up for. The web page closes and he’s back in the Amazon Music Player app that is chugging away on his entire iTunes library, but still has no trace of the one single song he purchased through Amazon. (Do the points even matter anymore?)
  10. But wait, there’s more! The horrendously unhelpful music player has noticed that the Fox bought a physical CD for his dad six years ago via Amazon, and while the Fox was getting scammed into signing up for Amazon Prime, the app decided to start automatically downloading the entire album digitally. Haven’t we already had the talk about doing things automatically? What the heck is the Fox going to do with 21 The Best of Hank Williams songs? Certainly not play them.
  11. Still disillusioned, the Fox finds himself typing away frantically in the search bar to find the ONE AND ONLY song he cares about at all – the ONE SONG HE JUST BOUGHT. Nothing. The song doesn’t exist.
  12. Out of a maniacal compulsion to complete the full 7th circle of hell he’s wandered into, he goes back to Amazon’s website and actually…buys…the song…again. That’s right. The Fox has become more than willing to pay twice the price to somehow extract himself from this Amazonian technologist’s Rube Goldberg machine.
  13. Upon the second purchase attempt, Amazon’s website recognizes that the Fox already has the Super Crappy Amazon Music Player App that He Never Wanted TM and prompts him to download the song into said app. The Fox mashes the “Download Song” button with a ferocity that nearly shatters his mouse, the desk and the universe.
  14. He’s taken back to the Super Crappy Amazon Music Player App He Never WantedTM and his purchased song is displayed front and center.

As of this writing, the Fox has no idea if he actually paid for the song twice or just experienced Amazon’s standard music buying process.

With all the politeness the Fox can muster, he calmly tells Mrs. Fox they will never buy music from Amazon ever again. Ever.

Impossible to Hide

joeyL_in_india_2007

Joey L. received a cryptic tweet from one of his followers asking if he was in India in 2007. In fact he was, and the story from there is quite incredible.

As we head toward taking over 800 billion photos in 2014 alone, the Fox imagines these encounters will become much more common – and it will become impossible to hide.

I Was Hidden on This Guy’s Hard Drive for Over 6 Years

Trey Ratcliff and His Photography Drone Visit China…and a Police Detention Center

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Image Via Stuck in Customs

My assistant is this 28-year-old female who was kind of cute and quite bubbly named Ady. I say this because it comes into play later in the story. One other thing I can tell you about her is that she was absolutely zero help in warning me that I was about to fly the quadcopter over the Chinese NSA and FBI buildings. That’s one of those things I would have liked to know.

Definitely would have been some good information.

Anyway, I went out to get my batteries and walked back. I saw Ady still standing by my quadcopter with a rather surly-looking female police officer. I was getting a bad vibe. As I approached, the surliness seemed to increase, and it was really harshin’ my mellow.

What happens next is totally worth the read. If you and your drone are planning upcoming travels to China, you should read this first.

Beijing From Above, Aka The Story Of How I Was Detained By The Police For Flying My DJI Quadcopter

Sony’s Run at Pro Photography Is Real

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By the end of 2008, the Konica Minolta heritage still shone strong in Sony’s Alpha DSLRs (not that this was a bad thing); however, it was benefiting in a major way from Sony’s superior marketing capabilities and brand recognition. It was the fastest growing brand in the DSLR market from 2006 to 2008, and seized the third largest share of the market, behind only Canon and Nikon, within two years of the introduction of the A100.

Unlike the giants like Canon and Nikon which have been building their products for decades, in just 8 years Sony has turned their purchase of Konica Minolta into a significant range of pro-sumer cameras that can really stand on their own.

While many other companies have been satisfied with slapping incremental improvements onto faux-retro bodies and calling it innovation, Sony embodies the “try anything once” mentality. In a matter of just eight years, Alpha cameras sped through their awkward Dad-driving-you-and-your-date-to-prom teenage period, and developed a spirit and character all their own, based largely on embracing the technological cutting edge.

Judging by the reviews of the A7 and A7s, I anticipate many new photographers and even some of the Canon and Nikon pros will take a serious look at Sony.

Alpha Dog: How Sony Created the Most Innovative Camera Brand in Under a Decade

Insatiable Curiosity

Amar Bose never intended to start an audio company that just made the best speakers on the planet. He wanted more. He wanted a place to play.

And it’s safe to say he succeeded. Beyond creating high-fidelity speakers synonymous with pristine home theater audio and luxury cars, Bose has unleashed breakthroughs across such broad disciplines as aviation, defense, and even nuclear physics.

So how does one create such a far-reaching company?

Insatiable curiosity. And an unwavering focus on the long term. (The Curious Genius of Amar Bose)

“That’s a big problem now in this country,” Bose says. “The average automotive CEO stays on the job for only 4.7 years, so he is not likely to invest money in long-term research. The consequence is that this country, which should be on the frontiers of research, is losing its technological leadership.”

Amar Bose

And that’s not just lip service coming from Bose. In 1994 Bose’s Live Music Technology Group unveiled the Bose Auditioner program, a software tool that allows acoustic engineers to hear precisely what a proposed audio system will sound like from any seat in a large venue, before any building construction begins. It’s been used to build PA systems from the Staples Center in Los Angeles to the Sistine Chapel.

Ken Jacob, Director and Chief Engineer of the Live Music Technology Group worked with his team for 10 years to develop the tool.

On the day that Jacob unveiled the project, Bose admitted that he hadn’t expected it to succeed. “He let me work on that with a team of five engineers for 10 years—most of the time thinking that it was impossible,” Jacob told me, shaking his head in disbelief. When I repeat Jacob’s quote to Bose, he grins. “I thought the computational power wouldn’t be there,” he says. “But the problem was tough enough and the team was talented enough that I thought their research would yield something good.

Bose encouraged a team to continue development on a tool for 10 years! That’s a lifetime in the business world. A world that seems to be speeding up every day.

And yet his most audacious project to date, to revolutionize car suspension systems, has been in development for over 25 years. That’s right. Twenty-five years.

Unveiled in 2004, the Bose suspension replaces typical automotive shock absorbers with ultrafast linear electric motors, isolating the passenger compartment from bumps and dips while also eliminating pitching and rolling during turns and braking.

The secret program began in 1986 with five years of mathematical research and analysis focusing on high-power linear motors and amplifiers using extremely complex control algorithms run by high speed supercomputers – none of which even existed.

This is not your normal company.

Vice president Bob Maresca remembers the day, in 1986, when Bose told him about the then-secret project, which was code-named Project Sound.

“Amar was very excited,” Maresca says. “He said a car with this suspension could corner as well as any racecar, but it would have a smoother ride than any luxury car. He said it could crouch down and leap like a leopard, then it would put its paws out and accept the landing. I thought, ‘What an intriguing and exciting fantasy—but impossible, of course.’ I knew better than to tell him what I thought, because the more people say it can’t be done, the more excited he gets.”

How is it possible that Bose has been able to focus so much time into research projects when every other company seems to be racing to the next innovation at lightning speed?

“One of the best decisions I ever made was keeping the company privately held, so we can take short-term pain for long-term gain,” he says. “Public companies have to look good every 90 days to please the markets, so they can’t do that.”

Counter to our fast-paced start-up culture where making money and going public are the Holy Grail, Bose made the very intentional decision to keep his company private. The Bose company has been driven by a different vision than any of their competitors. Putting innovation as the key ingredient of the company meant taking longer to produce more revolutionary products.

“I would have been fired a hundred times at a company run by MBAs,” he tells me. “But I never went into business to make money. I went into business so that I could do interesting things that hadn’t been done before.”

In 1987 Bose won the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation’s Inventor of the Year award for the Bose Waveguide system used in the Bose Wave radio, a product that he readily admits took 12 years to develop.

Bose clearly sees the world differently than most.

His son, Vanu, remembers driving in a rainstorm with his father, who squinted through a windshield streaked by poorly performing wipers. “Most people would just complain about how the wipers don’t work right,” Vanu says, “but he was analyzing why they didn’t work and thinking out loud about how to make them better. A few weeks later I saw on his desk a patent application for a new design for windshield wipers. It was only later that I realized that not everyone is always looking for ways to do things better.”

Amar Bose passed away on July 12, 2013. If I had to bet on a company that will outlast its founder and still be relevant in 50 years, I’d be all in on Bose. Watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8sVDenpPOE

Fox Tip: What is your curiosity driving you to make better?