5 Things - Week Ending 6/15/12

This is the 12th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

Facebook Ruined Your Birthday

Sam Biddle:

Your birthday used to be an event—now it's a notification. Thanks to Zuck & Co, nobody has to make any effort to remember it. Facebook became too helpful, and in the process, completely cheapened the occurrence it was trying to make easy. When the clock hits midnight on the anniversary of your womb escape, people you haven't seen or spoken to in years, maybe, trickle in to leave a perfunctory "happy birthday!" Maybe you won't even get an exclamation point. They're only doing it because Facebook stuck the event in their face like any other after-work drink, house party, or going-away party. It takes fewer than ten seconds to type out a salutation and hit enter.

During the February 9th episode of Football & French Toast (podcast that I host with my brother Chris and cousin Bobbie which is on hiatus until the late summer) we discussed wishing people Happy Birthday on Facbook. You can listen to our conversations below.

I summed up my thoughts at the very end of the conversation by saying this:

Unless you are going to actually call me, text me, or say something a little bit more than Happy Birthday on Facebook please don't waste your time and don't waste mine.

Three Takeaways From Today’s WWDC Keynote

John Gruber:

I have a review unit from Apple, and after just 15 minutes or so trying it out, it’s damn impressive. Much like with the iPhone and iPad, it’s not so much that the retina display looks good as that, after you’ve used it for even just a few minutes, non-retina display MacBooks look bad. It’s not just pixel size, either — color, brightness, viewing angles — everything about it is amazing. Best display I’ve ever seen, period.

I think John Gruber nailed it when he said that after using a retina display for a few minutes, non-retina displays look bad. I have been using the new iPad for the past three months which has a retina display and now when I use a client's iPad 2 it it amazing how poor the screen looks.

I have no plans to purchase the new MacBook Pro with a retina display because it's very expensive and way too much computer for what I do on a day to day basis, but I am very excited about the direction Apple is taking computers. I imagine that within two years all of Apple's computers will have retina displays and we will all wonder how we spent countless hours staring at the inferior screens on our current computers.

On the Keynote, Accessibility, and Apple's Commitment to the Future

“Wallet” symbol shown above is by Hakan Yalcin, from The Noun Project collection and can be found at http://thenounproject.com/

Harry Marks:

Think about it this way: Let’s say in the future, you have a grocery store rewards card loaded up in PassBook. You scan the barcode at checkout, and those three or four coupons that usually appear with your extra-long receipt detailing your purchase, your savings with your card, and a link to a survey to win a $1000 shopping spree are all automatically sent to PassBook. Now you don’t have wads of paper clogging up your pockets and the floor of your car. You also don’t have to worry about losing your receipt if you need to return something and those coupons are always with you for your next trip (more on this concept in a later post).

PassBook is a new app that Apple is bringing to iOS 6. I believe this is one of those features that you will find yourself wondering how you ever lived without it. According to Apple's website you will be able to keep track of boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more. The images that Apple has shown of PassBook also suggest sports tickets, gift cards, train tickets, and hotel reservations.

I know that I have way too many gift cards, membership cards, and other stuff to keep track of and I look forward to being able to carry it all in my pocket with PassBook starting this fall.

Skype Advertising Update

Sandhya Venkatachalam:

While on a 1:1 audio call, users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences. So, you should think of Conversation Ads as a way for Skype to generate fun interactivity between your circle of friends and family and the brands you care about. Ultimately, we believe this will help make Skype a more engaging and useful place to have your conversations each and every day.

Skype is now going to include advertisments while you are on an audio call if you don't have Skype credit or a subscription. I don't have a problem with companies trying to make more money by selling advertisements. What I do have a problem with is when companies try to spin that the advertisments are going to enhance the experience for the user.

I would much rather that Skype came out with a press release that said something like this:

We would like to increase our bottom line so you are going to see ads while using our service. If you don't want to see ads, stop being a free loader and pay for a subscription.

Verizon’s Share Everything plan is a hot-button subject

Julio Ojeda-Zapata:

Bottom line though, carriers don't really care about your convenience. All they care about is making more money. Don't make the mistake that the carriers care about you. They don't care about you, they want to make bucks.

I am not a huge fan of Verizon's new Share Everything Plan. I don't need unlimited texting and unlimited minutes and Verizon would be forcing me to have both and pay for it. I fully expect to see AT&T to follow suit in the next few months.

With multiple prepaid carriers starting to get high end Android phones and the iPhone, I fully expect more people to pay full price for their phone and get significantly cheaper plans to go along with them. I am very excited about Virgin Mobile offering the iPhone at the end of the month. $30 for 300 minutes, unlimited texting, and unlimited data.