BentoStack Charge

BentoStack is back, and this time it’s bringing wireless charging to your workspace. Inspired by the modern Japanese lunchbox, the BentoStack Charge is a delightful storage case designed specifically to hold Apple accessories and keep them energized when you’re out and about. With a Qi-certified wireless charger and 5,000 mAh battery built into the Top Cover, you can keep your iPhone, Apple Watch, and the like powered up without hunting for an outlet. Bring the whole box when you’re traveling around or just take the Top Cover for a quick jolt on the go… More here.

Sometimes it is the design that makes a product.

Uber

Its creators had forbidden the car from slamming on the brakes in an emergency maneuver, even if it detected “a squishy thing” — Uber’s term for a human or an animal, sources told Business Insider. And the NSTB report said that Uber had deliberately disabled self-driving braking.

The car’s creators had also disabled the Volvo’s own emergency braking factory settings, the report found and insiders confirmed to Business Insider… More at BI.

The tech may be at fault, but as ever this is a story about human failure. A quite shocking story.

Apple SSD prices have gone up!

I was looking at Amazon.ca yesterday and saw a SanDisk 1TB SSD for $160Cdn. Yes Canadian, so it would be cheaper in the States and cheaper still in the place of origin. So out of curiosity I took a peak at Apple’s SSD upgrade. On a MacBook Air, going from a 128GB SSD/Flash to a 1.5TB SSD is $1500Cdn. They don’t even offer a 1TB option. That’s price gouging pure and simple, especially because there’s no way to retrofit an SSD. I hate to think it, but a much more viable option is to get the minimal SSD internally and get a USB-C external SSD. That flies for a desktop, but not really for a laptop. I know Apple’s always been pricey, but there’s got to be a limit…

…I went all out back in 2014 and got a 1TB SSD on my iMac. As I recall, it was about $700 to get that instead of a regular hard drive. So apparently, Apple SSD prices have gone up! If I was buying today, and had to make the choice final because of not being able to upgrade, I’d probably go with a 512GB drive and use more external space. Even with USB-3, a good external HDD is fast enough for most things. On the other hand, having the extra space means being able to run virtual machines or BootCamp at SSD speeds. Bob

I agree with Bob. I have always eulogised Apple products for their quality and explained to many people that the initial price is almost always retrieved by extended periods of reliability in products that work as they should for many years. However, there are areas where Apple prices things way above the competition and it can seem like taking advantage of the loyalty the company has grown to date.

The clock that cost its inventor millions

One of the world’s first digital clocks, which was made by a man in his shed, has been sold at auction. Thomas Bromley, an engineer and amateur inventor, created his Digitron Electric Clock in 1961 at his home in Hull.
He held the patent to the design for three years but chose not to renew it – potentially costing him millions. The prototype sold for £460 to a UK buyer, more than the £400 it was expected to fetch, when it went under the hammer in Beverley, East Yorkshire… More here.

That appears to be a very low price for something so significant.

Conflicted about retail

I spent some time in Waterstones today with my wife. It’s a beautifully presented shop and the experience is always welcoming, friendly and educational if you have a question.

We spotted two books that would make good Christmas presents and so we went to purchase them. The price was not cheap at £50 for both books so I said to my wife that I would check Amazon just to be sure they were not too expensive. I didn’t want to as I love Waterstones and she didn’t want to either, but when you see £24.97 for both with free delivery and arriving tomorrow what are you to do?

As much as I love the bookstore and as much as I worry about many aspects of Amazon (workers treatment etc) there is a harsh reality that hits home quickly when you realise that you are about to save £25.03 with no extra hassle.

Sorry, but how is the bricks and mortar store going to survive when even loyal customers have to go elsewhere?

Apple only accepts complaints by ‘letter’ (update: and by email?)

20th November: I should update this article following a call from Apple Executive Relations today. Apparently you can ask for a complaint to be logged without sending a letter, which I sent this morning as it happens, and the lady who advised me that the Apple Watch was ‘very fragile’ will be spoken to (I feel bad about that). Anyway, I have to send photos of my wife’s Apple Watch and we will see what happens from there. Must say the lady I spoke to today was very professional and allayed some of my concerns, but I remain skeptical about the strength of my wife’s particular series 4 watch.

My word. I have spent many £1,000’s on Apple products over the years and have had the occasional problem with iPhone and Macs, but on the whole the support I have received has been way above what I have experienced from any other company.

A tipping point over the weekend, however, was reached when I was advised that to get a response to a complaint I had to write a letter. Yes, a letter has to be sent to the biggest tech company in the world to achieve any kind of response. For those of you who are unaware of what a letter is it would involve typing or writing some words on a piece of paper, folding up the paper, putting it in an envelope, buying a stamp to stick on the envelope, finding a postbox (that is a red thing that you may see very occasionally) and then putting it through the slot at the top. At this point it will be collected by the Royal Mail, driven to a sorting office and it will then presumably find its way to Apple where someone has to open the envelope, read the letter and then move it to the correct department. The biggest technology company in the world…

My complaint surrounds the problem my wife is having with her series 4 Apple Watch, detailed here, and the fact that to return the watch I have to pay up front (£269). This presumes that the reason the watch has broken is definitely user error and that it could not possibly be a failure of this particular device, or what is in my opinion a design fault.

My anger was not helped by the support agent I spoke to repeatedly telling me that the screen is ‘very fragile’ and that it will break if dropped. I am sure that she was trying to make me feel better, but it had the opposite effect. It should not be fragile and especially as Apple touts the use of Ion-X strengthened glass. No other watch, not one that I have owned and I have owned many, would break in the same circumstance and so I remain perplexed as to what Ion-X strengthening really is. I guess it sounds good in the marketing, but I am seeing little evidence of the benefits.

The end result is that I am returning my stainless steel Apple Watch, scared to wear it now if I am honest and won’t pay AppleCare+ for the privilege, and my wife’s watch will sit on a shelf until it is needed for freelance etc. It’s sad, but my faith in Apple has been knocked in a big way.