Keynote presentation power users: Don’t upgrade to Keynote 6 until you’ve read my experiences with the new version. You’ll save yourself much grief. (The news is not all bad).

It’s now been a few days since the October Apple keynote announcing new products and services. Much to many Keynote presentation software users’ initial delight, Keynote 6 was announced, almost five years after the last significant update.

I write “initial” because for many, to judge from Apple’s own discussion support groups, and others on Yahoo, this update feels retrograde, with too many existing elements cast out, and insufficient hoped-for new features added.

Indeed, some expected they could open their existing and in some cases very complex Keynote 5 files and expect them to somehow be transformed magically into something ethereal. Or at least just work.

I did this too, only to watch a shopping list roll down before my eyes, of missing builds replaced by a default “dissolve”, missing transitions – ditto – and missing fonts.

This of course was the same experience I “enjoyed” when I opened Keynote on the iPad the first time in July, 2010, again with the hope of full compatibility.

When that didn’t happen, and another year went by with no upgrade to Keynote (but numerous updates to the iOS version), Apple’s intentions for iWork became clear.

So, before you go installing iWork – actually the three apps that used to be referred to as iWork – please bear the following thoughts I have previously cast on this blog in mind. And then I’ll make some recommendations. Don’t rush in – I did before the free update for iWork DVD installed apps actually became free (it took about 24 hours after the October keynote), and paid $40 for Pages 5 and Keynote 6.

On this blog, I have suggested, not based on insider knowledge, but a long time user and observer, that Keynote 5 would not receive an update until there could be parity between iOS and Mac OS versions.

With the A7 chip and Mavericks, and the maturing of the “iWork in the cloud” beta,  that has come about. It’s a distinct poke in the eye to Microsoft and we long term power users of Keynote are the poker. We have been sacrificed on the alter of “progress”, parity, and another nail in the Microsoft hegemony/monopoly/”we control the vertical – we control the horizontal” – attitude to the consumer.

But I also predicted much gnashing of teeth from said Keynote users would parallel our colleagues in the Final Cut Pro sector who had hoped for further evolution of their professional “It pays the bills” software, only to be rendered (ahem!) Final Cut X. For some it felt as if an iMovie Pro had been thrown at them: They were insulted as power users. The same can be now said to be happening to Keynote power users, who’ve been with the program for a decade.

Many in the Final Cut Pro world of course left for seemingly greener grass and the open arms of Adobe and Avid, who facilitated this unexpected gift from the gods. But those who stayed with the Apple program have apparently received their reward as FCP X has matured, and now we see it matched to the Mac Pro. One can reason with some predictability that the same  iterative process will happen with Keynote given how well it had been selling on both desktop and iOS devices, and especially for the latter, the generation of schoolchildren with iPads who will never touch Powerpoint.

For now, I am following my own advice:

1. Install KN 6 (and Pages 5) on the Mavericks partition on my Macbook Air (Haswell). Do not install on the Mountain Lion/Keynote 5 partition. KN6 does not work under ML. (I have a developer license for Mavericks). Make sure your Time Machine has been put to good use.

2. Duplicate mission critical keynote files and transfer them to the Mavericks partition, and convert them to KN6 and see the tragedy that unfolds…. dissolve, dissolve, dissolve…

2a. IMPORTANT:  If you have installed Mavericks on a single partition  and now have KN6 and KN5 on the same hard drive as your KN5 files, don’t double click these files to work on them. They will open in KN6, which will try to convert them. If you want to work on them in KN5, rather than play in KN6, first open KN5 then either use the “Open…” menu item or drag the files you wish to use onto the KN5 icon in the dock.

Mavericks sees KN6 as the default for ALL Keynote files. You’ve been warned.

3. See if some of my proudest achievements in Keynote can be fixed in KN 6 (e.g. shaking book) or at least repaired or even improved; hey, you never know. (Have Kleenex tissue at the ready). Update: there are improvements to be made, and even less clicking in some cases. I will post later how I fixed and improved the Shaking book effect. I do believe Apple was inspired by it via the inclusion of a new “jiggle” effect, as well as a new “pulse” build.

4. Explore which of my third party KN stuff, from developers like Jumsoft, etc., remain compatible, including motion background themes (QT looping) movies. Monitor their websites for signs of life.

UPDATE: Sadly for now, Quicktime movies with transparent backgrounds which I like to use a lot are currently broken. Much unhappiness in the 3rd party add-on industry over this. For many,  this will mean staying with Keynote 5 not just to keep doing what they’ve been doing, but even for creating new presentations from scratch. If you open these same files with their transparent QT movies in KN5 in Mavericks, they work. Below, an example of a beating heart from Jumsoft, and what happens in KN6.

5. Check out how my helper apps may have been affected, e.g. Doceri for annotating slides, and whiteboarding in Keynote. UPDATE: Doceri is fine – phew! OTOH, Animationist with its beautiful titling effects, will suffer for the same reasons as listed in 4., above: transparency loss.

6. Keep reading blogs and Apple discussion lists for hidden gems (yeah, right! Much gnashing of teeth currently. Most major websites such as Ars Technica, iMore, CNet currently all carry mainly strongly negative “what were they thinking/smoking” jibes at Apple’s iWork engineering team.

7. Watch for KN 6.0.1 to address some of the shortcomings, bugs, etc. This has got to be a long term process and will surely test many long term users resolve. Prezi will welcome them, some will return to the bosom of Powerpoint (“The herd may stink, but at least it’s warm”) while some like me will divvy the work between KN5 and KN6 in the short term.

8. Stick with my day job as a clinical psychologist, and presentation skills trainer where even current KN on the iPad is better than how most use Powerpoint on the desktop – seriously. That’s not to say Powerpoint on Windows doesn’t have a hugely impressive feature set – it does. But 95% of presentation only ever use 5% of its capabilities – in other words, dull, or replete with the most awful “art text”.

9. My guidance to you: If you’re doing mission critical presenting right now, stay with KN 5 even on Mavericks. Only if you’re starting a new project from scratch, or have the time and energy to update your older files to KN6 (and learn what repairs you’ll need to do), do you employ KN6.

10. There are some immediate disappointments. I am unhappy to lose the Fall transition; the lack of a timeline for precision build timings appalls; while item grouping has improved (more on this in a later blog article), multiple grouped items are all still named “Group”, making it difficult to navigate busy files with numerous groups needing to be layered. Smart builds, like those rotating turntables and object swapping has been dropped. The Keynote engineering team were always disappointed in their take-up, even though they had a huge splash when Steve Jobs first showed us the iPhone. Remember the spinning elements: “It’s an iPod; it’s a phone; it’s an internet communicator – are you getting it yet?”,  created with Smart Builds.

UPDATE: The loss of hyperlinking within a KN file, and between KN files is for me, a serious one. It will change some of my conceptualisation of knowledge transfer, and my attempts to be more immediate and less linear in my teaching.

One must remember that KN1 initially did not have hyperlinking, and it made its first appearance many years later. It’s not the most used of its features to judge from Keynote workshops I have conducted; of course, after I showed what it could do in terms of audience engagement, I’m sure many explored it further. I do expect it to return in a KN6 update.

FURTHER UPDATE: It’s there in KN6. But buried. I am working on a new blog article about it.

11. Slide editing of Quicktime movies remains the same: Imprecise, and only one “In” and “Out” point for each movie. I would have hoped how movies can be edited on the iPhone might have made its way into Keynote, but it will surely come later.

So, in summary, it’s not the gee whiz, pull out all the stops, show us what you can really do Apple upgrade starved Keynote artists had been hoping for after five years. Our imaginations filled the void, ignoring where Apple is making its money, with iOS devices.

But now that we see a road ahead, powered by A7 chips in iOS devices which will no longer be referred to as toys, or media consumption devices (go back and rewatch the Apple video showing the diversity of iPad uses which starts with the wind energy generators), these content creation devices will drive Keynote further.

There may be a surprise awaiting us with a Keynote Pro with a look and feel of Apple’s Pro software like Final Cut X and Aperture (we can dream), but for now there is a workflow for power users, and that is to keep doing what you’re doing with Keynote 5, and find the time to play with Keynote 6 and become curious and explorative. There are some hidden surprises I will blog about soon.

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Apple’s iPhone 5C and S event: Did it reveal new features of a Keynote software update due very soon?

For presenters and especially Apple Keynote users, last week’s iPhone 5C and S keynote contained some hints as to Keynote’s roadmap.

While many Apple observers lamented the lack of surprises at this event, there were several unexpected signs that desktop Keynote hasn’t been forgotten, given its last significant update was January, 2009.

1. I’ve been saying for some time now that much of the iWork team’s resources has been spent on iOS versions, to the neglect of desktop iWork. Far from being almost an afterthought with the introduction of the iPad, Keynote on the iPhone and iPad has proven itself a very worthwhile addition to those presenting in schools, colleges, government agencies, and corporate settings. Apple has acknowledged Microsoft’s failure to compete in the Tablet sector, as well as its recalcitrance to port its cash cow Office to the iOS ecosystem. It has done this by releasing iWork apps to all newly sold iOS devices, free. With iWork for iCloud also having moved out of beta allowing those in the Windows ecosystem to see and create with Keynote, rather than using Powerpoint, it’s another potential nail in the Powerpoint coffin. (It will need lots of nails to seal that coffin!)

2. The employment of the A7 CPU in the iPhone (and one might expect in upcoming iPad refreshes), one of the main complaints I’ve had of Keynote on the iPad – it’s lack of desktop feature parity – may well be overcome. I’ve said for some time that once Keynote for iOS can match the features and power of desktop Keynote, then the latter will received its much anticipated update, making transferring files between the two UNIX-based platforms seamless.

3. While many Keynote users watch these product update keynotes for hints of what the next version might bring, our patience is often tested and unrewarded. But it’s just possible we did see last week a hint of what the next version of Keynote might include.

I’ve been thinking for some time that it’s taking a very long time for presentations to shift to a much more visual style. I’m working on a blog article about that, especially for those in the sciences and medicine, but I think it’s safe to say one of the most egregious mistakes presenters make is their inclusion of too much text on a slide. It’s as if all they do is write their paper in Word, then dump the text on a slide, denuding it of grammar, and adding the obligatory bullet points and sub-sub headers.

Clearly, helping presenters move away from such slides is a major challenge, so perhaps the task is to meet them half-way, especially for those where text is central to their presentations such as the law and regulatory agencies. So I’ve even been thinking that rather than adding new themes (backgrounds), transitions and builds, Apple’s next Keynote will feature some major text builds, including call outs, highlights, and other ways to acknowledge the importance of text, while still delivering animated, engaging presentations.

What follows below are screenshots from last week’s iPhone event, which you can download in iTunes or watch via AppleTV and its Apple events app. It’s possible that I will show was created outside of Keynote, but here’s hoping it’s evidence of a new upcoming text feature. You can also view the keynote via YouTube, which Apple has recently posted:

1.  We start where Apple CEO Tim Cook announces that Apple will release not one but two new iPhones, which we see as outlines.Image

and hands over the slide controller to Worldwide Marketing VP, Phil Schiller, below.

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Before he says a word, Schiller clicks the slide controller below,

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and we return to the outline of one iPhone.

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Them Schiller launches into his announcement about the iPhone 5C. What comes next is difficult to describe in static pictures and words, so a viewing of the Quicktime movie of the event is recommended. But let’s have a try, anyway.

As Schiller sets up the iPhone 5C announcements, the iPhone outline, together with the circular home button icon, begin a wipe build out. Not your usual one with Keynote 09’s limitations, but they seem to follow the lines themselves, rather than top to bottom, or left to right, etc., below:

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More progress showing the lines being wiped:

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Until there only remains the right side of the outline, and a small crescent of the Home Button. But the animation  then continues, and we see new shape forming in a continuous sequence:

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as the letters iPhone 5c begging to build in as a random letter wipe:

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and continues:

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until we almost see the whole word:

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Later, when Schiller introduces the 5S, he repeats the same build-in style:

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Now I’ve tried to replicate these builds using the current complement of Keynote elements which is my wont when I posit Apple has snuck in a new feature, but without success – perhaps you will find away to duplicate it. So it seems this is a new text build, which is likely extended to line, shapes and images such that outlines can be built in other than with wipe builds.

Later in the keynote, when the iPhones’ release dates per country are spelled out, there is another text effect, but this time it can be easily duplicated with the existing features, using scale and move builds. It occurs when Schiller highlights China in the list of the first tranche of countries to receive iPhones, September 20th.

Here’s the sequence:

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And we see China enlarge moving the other countries away:

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I tried to simulate this textual effect using Magic Move over two slides, but it turns out you can use one slide giving the first three countries atop China their own text box, then China in its own box, then the remaining countries in a third box. One simply moves the last group of countries down, scale and move China, and slightly elevate the top three countries with a move build, and you’re done. Here’s my version:

It’s certainly a good lesson in calling out specific words in a heavily text based slide, rather than using colour, movement or – please, no! – a laser pointer!

When might we see a new Keynote?

Apple has at least one major event to come this year, likely October with Macs, Mavericks, and iPads the feature artists. I expect that when new Macs and Mavericks (OS X 10.9) is officially released, which will finally allow AppleTV to utilise Keynote’s Presenter Display and allow complete untethering of your MacBook Pro, this will be a great time to show a brand new iWork. I expect, at least for Keynote a very significant upgrade with a bountiful supply of new features to take advantage of Mavericks and Keynote on 64-bit iOS devices. (I also expect some kind of mid-level database to be added to iWork, what with the demise of Filemaker’s Bento).

In the next week or two. I’ll publish on this blog a new post regarding scientific presenting at conferences, as well as seminars and in-house symposia to address several traditional presentation errors which have ossified for too long, and where change is vitally necessary.

Hoping to see new Apple products announced Monday? Well, there’s a legion of Apple’s Keynote presentation software users who’ll be hoping to see evidence of a major update

It’s that time of the year again.

The time of the year when expectations for new Apple products and services reaches a fever pitch. This year it’s especially intense because expectations seem to be so high following a very long time between drinks. The drinks in this case being Apple’s entry into a new product field where, as it has on memorable occasions in the last ten years, allegedly mature technology domains are ripe for disruption – only they don’t know it yet.

Recently, the “pundocracy” have been alleging that with Tim Cook at the helm, Apple’s streak of innovations have come to an end. The Samsung range of cellphones, especially the S4 has been cited as an exemplar of Apple being left in the innovation dustbin. Mooted devices such as an iWatch and AppleTV – not the current box, but a real screen device – have not realised, and this has only added to the frustration of Apple watchers and investors.

So this Monday (Tuesday in Australia), many will be observing Apple’s offerings, some superficially so, eager to get their hands on newly announced products and services. A heady proportion will be announced for release that day or week, others for later in the year, since this is after all a developers’ conference for the purpose of showing new software with plenty of lead time for a developers to release their wares in September or October.

But there will be a group who will look beyond the products on show, at those Apple crew and guests making their demos and announcements. They’ll be looking not at what Tim Cook, Phil Schiller and maybe Jony Ive announce, but at how they make their announcements.

Since 2003, Apple has used its keynotes to secretly demonstrate new software for those who looked closely enough. Starting that year, when Steve Jobs spoke of being a beta tester for Keynote, Apple’s presentation software which was designed to take on Microsoft’s Powerpoint, Apple has shown advanced editions of Keynote as the tool to show new official products. Powerpoint itself had been Microsoft’s first software purchase (apart from the initial Desk Operating System from Seattle Computer Products for use in IBM PCs), intended for the Mac Plus/SE to make black and white overhead slides – foils – using new Laserwriters. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 a five year deal was struck with Bill Gates to have MS Office for the Mac continue in production, with Internet Explorer becoming the de facto web browser for the Macintosh.

It’s not surprising then that the same year Keynote was released, Apple’s own browser was released too, in the form of Safari. And it was ten years ago, at the same Macworld at Moscone where Monday’s keynote will be held, that Apple introduced 17″ and 12″ Powerbooks. And it was there that Apple told all those who would listen that a post-PC world was on the horizon, with predictions that laptops would soon outsell desktops, much like tablets will soon outsell laptops, leaving desktops to do the truck-like heavy lifting, such as scientific number crunching, animation rendering and the like.

In the ten years since Keynote 1.0 was released, Apple has added new software to rival Office, such as Numbers (Excel) and Pages (Word), and brought those same OS X apps to the iPad in iOS form. The introduction of iCloud was meant to provide synchronisation between the platforms in the same way one can with Evernote, and it’s hoped that WWDC on Monday brings major improvements and developments in cloud computing from Apple.

There have also been incremental updates to Keynote along the way, bringing it from a functional but anaemic software which was hardly a match feature-wise for Powerpoint 2003, to an outstanding platform for helping transform a presenter’s implicit knowledge into a format to help transfer that knowledge to others.

Powerpoint 2010/11 has transformed itself too and on superficial inspection looks a lot like Keynote. Power users can make it do great things, but for a ten year veteran of Keynote like myself who coaches others in presentation skills across both platforms, Powerpoint for all its features remains clunky and Keynote easy on the eye and the hand.

That said, Apple has treated Keynote with seeming disdain, last updating it with any significant feature improvement in 2009. I have it on reasonable authority that in the time since that last official update, Apple was preparing to release a significant update, but pulled back at the last minute. Keen observers of Apple’s keynotes, such as WWDC, will occasionally report feeling as if there was a glitch or oversight in the narrative, as if there was a last moment change. Perhaps because a product didn’t meet quality standards or deals weren’t signed in time.

In the case of Keynote, Apple’s unexpected success with the iPad, and then the development of iBooks, has seen resources thrown at iWork for the iPad, much as we have heard stories of the OS X team being diluted to provide crew for iOS 7, which many commentators have asserted needs an “urgent” facelift.

Thus, keen eyes will be observing this week to see if Apple either hints at an iWork update via new features on display in Keynote (to tell Apple’s story of new services and products), or perhaps a section devoted directly to iWork updates, perhaps with the inclusion of a new software to the suite.

Why an update to Keynote feature set urgently needed

In the fours and a half years since Keynote’s last sprucing up, much has occurred in the world of presenting, leaving aside Powerpoint’s updates.

We have new platforms such as Prezi, an effort to move away from the linearity of the standard slide show paradigm.

We have online services such as Slideshare, and Presentate. And we also have iPad based iOS apps for specialist analysis, such as performed by Asymco’s Horace Dediu in the form of the free Perspective app.

But in the years after 2009, there has been another disruptive technology introduced which I fear Apple has neglected, worth billions, which it can now be a part of… and that is MOOCs, or Massive Online Open Courses which are seeing colleges and universities scrambling to adapt to, including developing their own. Apple provides a conduit for courses too, using its iTunes U app and services.

There is also a massive swing to online continuing education within industries, professions and vocations, where the old linearity and style of Powerpoint simply won’t cut it anymore.

That style, which I personally have always thought was incredibly overused and abusive of students in tertiary settings, much less business meetings (you know, all text and pixelated images), will simply not cut it for either MOOCs or Continuing Education.

Those online trainings, where individuals work through a series of modules at their own pace – but which need to be passed at a certain level of competence before moving to the next – require high levels of quality multimedia production to maintain viewer engagement. There is a great deal of competition for attention on both the screen and in their pockets via smartphone distractions.

I’ve already seen one business-oriented training course, for which I used Keynote to create the visuals, change midstream from a “stand and deliver” live course, to an online course, with minimal changes to the Keynote files, since they weren’t the usual Powerpoint in the first place.

You can see some demos at the site, http://workmindset.com, and the voiceover is my work as well (yeah, multi-talented, huh?).

Here’s where an opportunity exists for Apple to become disruptive in another game, one worth billions. To do what I did with the online learning program, I had to go outside Keynote’s limitations, something its users have learnt to do since version 1.0.

I had to use two screenshot apps, Voila for stills and Screenflow for movies, as well as third parties for images and movies requiring payment of royalties. I also incorporated animated backgrounds featuring professional looping Quicktime movies to bring some “energy” onto certain slides, as well as themes from third parties which better suited my purposes than Keynote’s default themes.

I had to be inventive with callouts, where certain areas of the slide were highlighted and other areas backgrounded since there is no laser pointer to show the way (ugh!). And I had to use Screenflow to record quite complex builds where I needed exquisite timing of visuals and sounds which Keynote could not provide with sufficient precision, showing in glaring spotlight its major deficiency with respect to a timeline. We see these in all manner of Apple software from Garageband, through iMovie, onto Motion and Final Cut X.

The last two also incorporate third party modules to enhance their capabilities and the reader is referred to Noise Industries‘ FxFactory for examples which could find their way into a Keynote Pro should it adopt such a modular system. While it’s nice to see a supporting ecosystem of themes, images and movies for Keynote, none so far add to the workflow the way FxFactory and its ilk bring extra competencies to Final Cut X or Motion. Indeed, some have remarked to me that a Keynote Pro would see a merging of the simplicity and ease of use of Keynote with the professional capabilities of Motion.

I want to make a reference to two more third party applications and resources which I am exploiting more often, especially to improve upon Keynote’s text and graphic effects. The first is an application from Synium, called Animationist which allows wonderful moving and changing text, exported as masked Quicktime movies. Only in version 1, the sooner Apple buys this and brings it into Keynote the better. When you download the demo, note its ease of use of a timeline. Here’s a YouTube video to tempt you with:

The second is a bespoke service from India which I discovered via a Google search when I was under time pressure and needed some ready-made visuals, rather than creating them from scratch. It’s an Indian company called Chillibreeze, and their Keynote service is called Muezart. I found them delightful people to do business with. I needed a way to show change over time, moving from low level abilities to high.

Here’s the “tachometer” effect I ended up with ($4.99), for the launch of the workmindset.com program last week (wait until the very end to see all the components in the tachometer I purchased):

In Conclusion:

So come Monday, there will be a legion of Keynote users who will once more look past the content of the keynote (although we will no doubt be very interested in what’s on show) to look at the process of Keynote.

Will we see at long last an update and will we hear of new products and services Apple will be releasing to disrupt yet another billion dollar marketplace ripe for the picking?

From “beleaguered” to “secretive”: how the tech media distorts how Apple operates. But substitute one other word, and you’ll “get” how Apple really operates

When I’m not giving workshops on presentation skills, or on IT for health professionals, I’m working one on one with patients who wish to better manage certain unwanted behaviours and feelings. The bread and butter work for clinical psychologists in private practice, as I am, are the anxiety and depression or mood disorders.

The methods for change most found to be evidence based are those which feature “doing things differently” based on “thinking differently“.
Apple, in one of its most successful advertising campaigns which commenced soon after Steve Jobs’ return to the company he founded, used the phrase “Think Different” in an effort to suggest the Macintosh was not a Windows PC. And that its user base thought – and behaved – differently when compared to those who use Windows.
Returning to the evidence of what works in therapy, there are two factors for how my reading of the scholarly literature informs the way I work:
1. Develop a therapeutic alliance so patients come to therapy hopeful change is possible, even when the going gets tough, because the therapist has trust in their abilities and theories of change, mixed with interpersonal qualities such as respect, genuineness, warmth, and empathy.
2. Giving time and effort to the centrality of helping patients shift their thinking from reflexively negative to a more “can do”  estimation of current and future activities, by a process of reappraising their beliefs and experiences. Changed thinking is consolidated by behaviours practised as if those thoughts were true, rather than waiting for enough evidence to become convinced of their veracity. In other words, it’s OK to think and act differently even when it doesn’t feel right. That comes later.
In effect, words are important!
There was a time before Apple’s resurgence, slowly starting with the release of the iPod in 2001, then building quickly with the release of the iPhone in 2007, when the word – an adjective – most often found expressed of Apple in the technology press was “beleaguered”. Apple had been against the wall, with many continuing to assert that without Microsoft’s financial input Apple was doomed. It remains a false assertion, but the tech world has moved on since that time and new words and sentiments have emerged.
The word “beleaguered” is now being applied to other tech companies, whom some pundits previously expected would put Apple out of business. It still gets occasionally trotted out but no longer about Apple’s survival, but its management of the contemporary challenges it faces, such as its manufacturing base in China or the competition from Samsung or the way the media writes about Apple and its “dire need” to bring to us the next big thing.
In fact, in more recent times, with Apple’s share price seemingly in freefall even while its profits are in ascendancy,  the word that now most often precedes the mention of Apple in the tech press is “secretive”.
A Google search of the phrase “secretive Apple” reveals at the time of writing more than two million results.
The notion that of all tech companies, Apple is the most secretive has been seen as praiseworthy by some, and an extension of its founders’ paranoia by others. The culture the latter leads to has been said to possess poor morale, loss of hunger to innovate, playing it safe, and disrupting Apple’s entry into the enterprise considered by those who see a lack of transparency and public roadmapping as suicidal.
Let’s have a look at some of the quotes from the Google results to place Apple’s “secrecy” into a variety of contexts:
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There are dozens upon dozens of Google result pages similar to these, often repeating the same stories but on different sites.
Just a few more:
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The essence is much the same: Apple’s secrecy is costly to the company and its employees.
Now, choose anyone of these results and when you see the word “secretive” used as an adjective, change it to this one word:
PATIENT.
Here’s how Apple’s built-in Dictionary app defines “patient” (click to enlarge):
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Now look to the Thesaurus offering which is even more pertinent, using words like “uncomplaining, tolerant, long-suffering, stoical….
Secretive might be the word that most describes Apple’s “personality” for those whose job is perceived to be the liberation of secrets – to be the first with a breaking news story or to share a trade secret with Apple’s competitors for commercial advantage.
But to those of us who have watched Apple over the years as it’s transformed from the late 1970s highly successful start-up through to mid-1990s beleaguered, through to now being pilloried for its “secrecy, we have adapted to reaping the rewards of Apple’s patience with great products and services. (albeit with the yet to be explained blind-spot of cloud and social media services)
Apple’s patience can best be summarised with this quote of Steve Jobs whose personality and preferences I believe still pervade how Apple operates, for better or for worse:
“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” ~ Business Week, October 12, 2004
When you say NO rather than rush to manufacture with a collection of YESs or “why not – someone will find a use for it” you end up with a compromised product, whose codename might as well be BLUNDERBUSS.
I expect Apple followers who understand Apple the way I have described it here will be well-rewarded for their patience later in the year. It’s “wait and see” pie time. Or if that is not your preferred food of delayed gratification, try marshmallows.

If a dumb shmo like me sitting in far away Australia got it so right about the iPad in 2010, why didn’t those smarties on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley see the future too? And still can’t…

Three years ago this weekend, the iPad was released for sale in the USA. In Australia, it came in July, with the 3G configuration.

I went back to what I wrote about the iPad after its announcement at an Apple keynote in January 2010, and then in the days before its release. It makes for edifying reading given the tech punditry who got it so, so wrong, as evidenced by Asymco’s Horace Dediu here.

Blog entry of March 21, 2010:

How I know the iPad will be a success – unusual sources of evidence: potential users

Snippet:

“The second thing: There is one game displayed where what looks like a jigsaw where pieces of yellow cheese are assembled into a one piece, about 21secs into the video. Here’s a stillshot:

When I first saw this clip, I was reminded of a widely-used IQ test, known as the WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children), which contains a series of tests, some timed, which measures both verbal and non-verbal aspects of intelligence.

The equipment comes in a box and is several thousand dollars. Several of the tests use jigsaw-like elements asking the child to assemble the elements into a gestalt. At first, the child is told what the final assembly looks like. More challenging elements see the child merely told to assemble the pieces without knowledge what it is.

There are also small individual squares (3″ x 3″) containing elements of an illustrated story for which there is one best way to place them in order. The child starts with just two pictures and it’s very easy to place them in linear order of occurrence. The stories get more complicated and take longer as the child progresses.

As I was showing the Redfish video a second time, I asked the audience to consider how the WISC could be almost entirely performed on the iPad, together with a stopwatch function which could then automatically time and enter scores without the manual being needed for norming the results. There is one block test that requires small blocks to be laid out according to an illustration that may not be doable on the iPad, but if imagination is allowed to reign, the next generation of children could be tested with a WISC specifically designed to be performed on the iPad with a new block test normed for a new generation. Readers should bear in mind that psychologists don’t simply gathers scores, but also look keenly at how the child goes about the task, how he or she deals with frustration or failure or success, things that aren’t normed but important clinical indicators nonetheless.”

But all this is a digression for certain interested readers, away from the point I wish to make in that this was a natural small experiment into the appeal of the iPad for certain groups: one with concerns about adapting new technologies who understood my enthusiasm for the iPad and where I think it fits in professionally; and the second of course were the young boys who ignored their DVD which had so occupied them to stare gobsmacked at the iPad Redfish video. You could almost see them aching to get their hands on one, and play the same game, one of many Redfish will be releasing for educational purposes.

I have every confidence their excitement is the tip of the iceberg, and naysayers will be looking very glum in a year’s time for their shallow prognostications.”

UPDATE: The huge publishing house, Pearson, with whom Apple has done deals for textbooks on the iPad, (see here), has the rights to the WISC and the Adult version, the WAIS. I am now beta testing these tests which utilise two iPad 4’s which through bluetooth allow the clinician to see what the test subject is doing. Pearson “got it” when others didn’t.

Blog entry of March 25, 2010:

Thinking about the iPad in a professional psychology practice – in response to a fifteen year old’s dissing of it as useless

Snippet:

“So here are my thoughts, without yet getting my hands on it, as to how I might use the iPad in a professional psychology setting, as well as (as an addendum to be added to once I actually see how Keynote works) how to use it as a Presentation tool.

1. Intake: Patients waiting to meet me can fill in questionnaires or biographical information (much of it radio buttons or tick boxes) or using the built in or outrigger keyboard. In the future, a pend device for handwriting might become available.

2. Billing: As of now, many patients make direct payment using their internet banking or via PayPal if using credit cards. Just like iccpay.com, I imagine we’ll see similar instant credit card payment systems evolve for the iPad.

3. Patient database management, using an evolved form of Bento or a specific Numbers template which is easily transferred back to the Macbook Pro.

4. Showing educational movies, either on the iPad itself or via a USB or wireless connection to a TV or data projector.

5. Testing: I can see a number of specialist psychological testing outfits developing normed tests for use with children and adults on the iPad.

6. Distractor for children: Sometimes, a child in a session needs to be kept occupied when parents are the subject of interview, and the iPad with its games will be great for this. The last thing I want to give them is my Macbook Pro.

7. Information to read about their disorder or malady, which can then be printed out at will. Yes, it can be done on the Macbook Pro, but it’s always hooked up to monitors, backup drives and my iPhone and isn’t moveable during a session. Much easier simply to give a patient the iPad to read.

8. Make audio recording of the session. I record all sessions (patients remember about 10% of a sessions content) and from the iPad the AAC or mp3 file is emailed to them. Again, it can be done on the Macbook Pro using an external microphone like a Blue Snowball.

9. Specialised measuring tools, such as biofeedback devices like the emWave I now use to monitor heart rate variability, useful in stress management and arousal modulation. If patients get their own iPads with the software (possibly in development now), practise the techniques I’ve taught, and theit data can hopefully be transferred to my main database for comparisons and expose improvements over time.

10. A miniature whiteboard using Keynote to highlight ideas and demonstrate concepts.

These are just a few ideas thrown together without too much effort. Once the ball is rolling and the first of a new generation of apps of released, no doubt surprising us with their look, feel and innovation, the ball will start rolling and the penny dropping. For myself, I can see workshops ahead for using the iPad in professional health consulting, and hopefully hooking up with developers with a psychology interest to create new apps.”

Current Status: My accuracy record for all these predictions, before even getting my hands on the iPad:

100%

I am particularly proud of #9, the emWave heart rate monitoring device. After Macworld 2009, I visited the developers of this program in Santa Cruz, and implored them to develop for the iPhone, instead of their dinky portable device. They refused, citing exhorbitant development costs. I told them flat out they were wrong, the iPhone will surge in sales as more developers came on board, and if they didn’t develop, someone else would.

In March this year, the emWave for iPad and iPhone was released, known as Inner Balance (review coming soon). The US Navy, in an effort to increase mental toughness and reduce PTSD in its corps, is experimenting with the iPad and such a system.

#10 was achieved through another app I am a beta tester for, Doceri. It has now been taken up by UPenn for a 1000 seats its lecture theatres.

Blog entry for March 28, 2010:

While the 3 year old will yelp with delight when they discover the iPad’s games, the 80 year old will quietly say, “I get it. This is what computing’s about.”

Snippet:

“Seated at the same dinner table last Friday were students who entered the course after I had completed my studies, and whom I’ve met at other functions organised by this very social graduate group. One, Winston, works for a very large car manufacturing company whose world headquarters are in Detroit, and was in receipt of bailout money in recent months. The company has been part of the Australian manufacturing sector since the 1940s, and their vehicles remain very popular with Australians.

Somehow, the discussion moved to the iPad, perhaps after I had excused myself from the table to answer my iPhone, and Winston suggested on my return he was interested in getting an iPhone too. I suggested he wait a little while, perhaps June or July, when a new model might become available, and from there a discussion took place about the iPhone’s place in business now that Microsoft Exchange could work with it. It was a quick skip to speculation about the iPad.

Winston put me on the spot to pronounce why the iPad was a better choice than a netbook, which in Australia would be half the price and pack more features, such as a camera, “real” keyboard, iPhone tethering, and the full Microsoft Office suite.

My response was to suggest that the iPad should better be considered not as a computer in the common use of the term, i.e. a notebook or desktop device, but as a knowledge management tool in its own right, and rattled off the sort of apps it would inherit from the iPhone as well as those likely be designed to take advantage of its speed and screen size.

I suggested to Winston that the iPad would have limited initial appeal to computer wonks who wanted merely a smaller form factor for Windows-based computing. It would fail their needs. But I then suggested that there would be huge numbers of ordinary people with very limited knowledge of computer innards and workings – that is, the vast bulk of the Australian population – for whom the iPad would elicit the spontaneous remark:

So this is what computing should be!

No menu bars, no operating system to fiddle with, instant on and ready to use at the simple touch of one button, yet also have powerful business applications such as iWork and Bento and Evernote should this group of users work its way up the skill and learning curve.

When Winston said he had elderly parents who had never touched a computer but had expressed interest in what their use might bring to their lives, I asked him in all honesty which he would buy them: A $400 netbook running Windows Xp (then add the cost of Microsoft Office 2007) or a $650 iPad plus the $50 for iWork + Bento?

The picture of 75 year old mum and dad sitting on their couch wrestling with a netbook with its tiny keyboard and poor resolution screen was enough to observe Winston momentarily pause in his tracks to reconsider his options. Yes, for him, with his background in engineering, a netbook was a no-brainer. A good match for the problems he wished to solve.”

Current Status: Totally nailed it!

Blog entry for March 31, 2010

Where to go to find people using iPads this weekend? In all sorts of interesting places!

Snippet:

We’re just a few days away from the iPad falling into users’ hands, in time for Spring Break, Easter, and Passover.

So where might you go and find iPads if you weren’t lucky enough to order one for yourself? Well, as the video below shows, a whole variety of places, perhaps even at the White House Passover seder hosted by Barak and Steve himself!

Enjoy!

A question for you: If a dumb shmo like me sitting in far away Australia can get it right, why didn’t those smarties in Wall Street and Silicon Valley see it too? And still can’t…

Updating the Shaking book effect – better or worse than the original?

I’ve had sufficient comments and time on my hands to play a little with this opening slide for most of my presentations.

I altered the video’s outline to be less “ripped”, made it tumble rather than pop out of the book, and gave it a landing “splash” using the Anvil build (can you work out how I did that?) What do you prefer – the original, or this modification?

The Shaking Book effect in Keynote

Thank you to all those who’ve come by to visit my website following the podcast with David and Katie over at the Mac Power Users’ site.

I thought as a reward I would post a video of the “Shaking Book” effect as I call it, which I discussed in the podcast. I start most of my workshops, no matter the subject, with it. It follows my first slide which is usually just the title of the presentation du jour. The point is to inform the audience that no matter what they may learn on the day, I’m hoping they walk out happy they attended, and this is indeed what I actually say.

But the other unspoken message of showing the shaking book slide, right up front, is several-fold:

1. This will not be your usual dull, disengaging Powerpoint.

2. Even if you’re an old hand at presenting, and have attended lots of such trainings, you ain’t seen nothing yet = raising expectations (Contrary to Barry Schwart’z message)

3. Stamps my authority as an expert Keynote user since the effect is not one you can merely select but must create yourself, thus displaying a depth of knowledge of what Keynote can accomplish.

So, here’s the video, and beneath it, the Keynote slide and the Inspector so you can go figure out how it was done.

Now, there is a little more to this video than first meets the eye. Go back and have a second look. Note that the video seems to come between the open pages of the book, not from behind. Your mission, Mr. Phelps, is to figure out how that was achieved.

And here’s the Inspector (click to enlarge):

Image

There is a little more to it in terms of what all these elements in the Inspector achieve but I’m sure you can figure out some of the magic for yourself!

PS. I will not be returning to Macworld 2013 next February. Perhaps in 2014 depending on the direction Macworld heads.