Technology, Philosophy, & Sometimes Both

Thoughts on the World by Jack Umano

Archive for March 2011

Dropbox “Shared Folder” Makes Everyone Pay for the Same Space

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Dropbox is a service that gives you online space for synching files between services and sharing files with other dropbox users.  But, when sharing, it’s as if each of the users pays for the same space.

Let’s say you have a team of 8 people who want to share 10 GB of space.  Dropbox offers 50GB of storage for $9.99 /month.  But for each of those users to access that space, they ALL have to pay $9.99 every month.  So, that’s going to run $79.92 each month or $959 per year.

A thousand dollars a year for 8 people to share 10 GB?  I’d say Dropbox needs to work on their pricing for shared folders.


Written by Jack Umano

March 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Technology

Mac or PC 2011

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Recently, I was asked by someone whether they should buy a PC or a Mac. Wow. This charged question has ranked up there with Republican or Democrat. Beatles or Stones. Red Pill or Blue Pill.

Personally, I like PCs. This article is for non-technical people who might still be making this decision for the first time.

Apple seems to take the position that things should be done their way. If you don’t want to do things their way, then Apple doesn’t care
about you.  Apple has a very “locked in” feeling.  You have very few choices.  This goes for the way software works as well as what
hardware is available.

I like that I have an HP monitor and a Dell monitor both hooked up to my PC.  My speakers are made by another company called Altec Lansing.
My mouse is made by 3M and my keyboard is made by a company called Goldtouch.  I have selected all the components based on what’s
important to me.  With Apple, you buy the Apple mouse, the Apple keyboard, and the Apple monitor.  If you don’t like they way they work
– tough, Apple has decided what is good. (Actually, there are components made for macs, but they are crazy expensive and companies are forever chasing Apple’s unilateral decisions on the way things should connect – but let’s not get too far into it.)

I have recently replaced my Apple iPhone.  Again, I didn’t like being locked into the Apple software called iTunes to manage the music
that’s stored on the phone.  With my new Android phone, I can use whatever software I want to manage my music.  My old iPhone only allowed me to use the applications that they approve on the phone (seriously! it’s in the End User License Agreement). They enforce this by only allowing software to be loaded through iTunes.  Oh, and they get a 30% cut when I buy software (not really fair to the people who wrote the software). With my new phone, I can put whatever software I want on it.

Of course, many people like living in the “Apple universe”.  Apple makes quality products.  If you don’t have strong opinions on what you
want, then the stuff they make is probably good enough for most purposes.

Here is a comparison I found online that seems fair:

Written by Jack Umano

March 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Technology

4 Ways that iTunes, iOS has Slowed me to a Crawl

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Nothing in life wastes more time for me than iTunes.   If I didn’t have to synch my iPhone with iTunes, I wouldn’t.  It seems like almost every time I plug in my iPhone, iTunes says, “stop! we have another update.”  I just want to synch the podcasts this morning but now it’s going to be a 20 minute cycle of downloading, accepting EULAs, installing… then try again to do what I wanted.  I don’t have 20 minutes to spare in the morning so I guess it’s no podcasts for me today.

Here are some of the ways iTunes wastes my time:

  1. iTunes software updates – I can’t think of a single way that iTunes has improved over the last 5 years.  But, there have been so many updates to the software.  And, each update is a huge file (100MB, really Apple?).
  2. iOS updates – These operating system updates only seem to make my iPhone worse since I don’t have the latest version of the iPhone.  My iPhone gets none of the benefits but is now slower because there’s a newer, more needy operating system.  And again, I have to download, wait, accept, wait, install, wait…  Oh, and I forgot to mention, “You should backup your system before installing this update”.  Egads – I’m just going to skip that.  I don’t have an hour to spend on this today.  Do you?
  3. Software updates – now that the operating system has changed, all my software needs to be updated to be compatible with the new operating system.  More time wasted managing the iPhone.  Again, this third party software is telling me to backup my data before installing the update.  My time is more precious than this data!
  4. All these have slowed down the iPhone itself – All those updates have made it slow at doing everything.  This is the  final insult.

Honestly, after they added cut-and-paste functionality, I can’t remember anything that made me want to update the iPhone.

It has been suggested that Apple gradually makes the old phones not work well intentionally to get you to buy the latest iPhone.  Or, that they just don’t care about old users and figure, you’ll update to the new one to keep up.  Well, if that’s true, it’s going to backfire.  My next phone will not be an iPhone.  Hello Android.

Written by Jack Umano

March 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Technology

Pledged Appointments – An Idea for Doctors (and all who schedule appointments)

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Do you hate waiting rooms?  Suggest this to your doctor: Pledged Appointments.  Pledged Appointments could provide a way for doctors to satisfy patients for whom time is most valuable.

The Problem:

Here is the dilemma that doctors, dentists, and others face.

  • Doctors don’t know how long each appointment will last.
  • Patients are occasionally late.
  • Patients occasionally don’t show up

If doctors are on time and patients are late (or absent), the doctor would waste time waiting for the next patient. Waiting for a patient is a money loss for the doctor.

The solution most doctors seem to choose is to overbook.  Overbooking will mean the doctors are never sitting waiting for patients.  However, when all patients show up, or appointments run long, or patients are late for an appointment it pushes all the following appointments later.  As the day wears on, the stacked up lateness can push appointments to start very late.

In a New York Times article The Hidden Cost of Health Care: Patient Time, it was calculated that Americans collectively spent 847 million hours waiting for medical services in 2007.  Patients are fed up…

Maybe you’ve heard about the doctor who received a bill from the patient.  The patient was a lawyer who billed the doctor for the time spent – after he waited in the waiting room too long.  I don’t know if that’s true but people are working on Punishing Doctors Who Make You Wait – punishments including everything from getting money back to scathing online reviews.

My Solution:

Doctors should present patients with an option for a Pledged Appointment.  Here’s how it would work: The patient would pay a deposit for their Pledged Appointment time.  Doctors would offer this kind of appointment in the morning or at some time when they knew they wouldn’t be delayed by earlier appointments.  Then, if the patient was on time for their appointment, they would get their deposit back.  If the patient was late, they would forfeit their deposit.  That money would compensate the doctor for his time which could have been spent with other patients.

Since Pledged Appointments are scheduled at times when the doctor is in the office already and would not be delayed, the doctor should have no trouble making the appointment.  However, if the patient pays a deposit to promise that he will be there on time, then the doctor should offer compensation to the patient if the patient is there on time and the doctor was not available at the appointment time.

This would offer both doctor and patient incentive to be there on time.  Of course, this is not for emergency rooms, or doctors who often get called away for childbirths, etc..  But a dentist, optometrist, and many others could certainly do this.

And, by the way, to make the patients happy with a Pledged Appointment, a doctor should avoid putting a patient in the examining room at the appointment time and making them wait there for 15 more mintues.  That would violate the spirit of it.  If anyone tries this, let me know how well it works.

Written by Jack Umano

March 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Posted in Ideas