Apple have ripped me off again

Launched a new product and then one month later increased specs and dropped pricing on the related models. It’s a type of bait and switch – people (like me) wait for the announcement, then once we know what the new model(s) are we then make a decision to buy.

A month or two later, they then drop the prices and up the specs on the related models. This is not insignficant – 100’s of dollars off, and significant performance and spec improvements.

If they cared about their customers, they would announce the price and spec changes at the same time as the new models. Of course, they just want to clear their old stock – doesn’t matter. It still sucks to be a fan of Apple.

As a customer, I’ve felt ripped off by Apple’s behaviour on my last three purchases (my Powerbook, my iMac, and now the MacBook). I just wish there was a reasonable alternative… I wonder if this is the sort of thing to report to the ACCC?

Basecamp woes

We use Basecamp pretty extensively at work, and were quite annoyed to find the other day that the system was down for almost 2 hours for scheduled maintenance, without any form of notice.

I’m sure they thought it was fine and all given it was in the evening in the States, but over here, we were in the middle of a delivery. Very frustrating.

How hard would it be to delay launch 24 hours and send all customers an email? Or to put a notice up on the site for that time so that when we sign in we know it’s going to go down?

I know from reading their book that the 37signals guys play pretty fast and loose, but this is a paid service that becomes mission critical when you use it as heavily as we do.

The good news is that the update revamped the permissions model they had in place that was downright dumb in it’s implementation around todos. So in the end we would have been happy with the update had we received some kind of notice.

It’s simply not good enough to drop the system without notice like they do pretty regularly. (I figure there’s no point posting this to the forum because there’ll be no reasonable response – another thing that 37signals are not very good at…)

Email Standards Project

I originally posted this on the d.eskimo blog, but a glitch has meant the post isn’t currently up, so I’m reposting here in the interim… Update: it’s back live again

It’s been shown in a number of studies that HTML emails perform better than equivalent plain-text emails, so as a design agency we are often called upon by our clients to create HTML templates to support their online communications activities.

It seems like a simple task – create a newsletter design based on the website – a couple of hours work, maybe? Unfortunately, the task is deceptively difficult…

Owing in large part to the state of HTML support, and standards/CSS support, in the various popular email clients (software) that we typically need to support. Such clients include Hotmail, Windows Live Mail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook 2003 (and Express), Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, and more. And many of those are browser-based, meaning even further quirks on the basis of which browser the client is used in.

For those of us that have been working on the web for some time, the different compatibility issues that exist between clients is reminiscent of the dark days before web standards support improved dramatically (even with Internet Explorer’s issues). So far designers have been limited to clunky table-based layouts, deprecated font tags, and other “hacks” which result in very difficult to maintain HTML code. And they’re forced to do an enormous amount of testing to check under a myriad of circumstances.

All in all, this adds many $$ for our clients. And in our business, where we’re supporting a number of non-profit clients, this can be really frustrating – for us and, we suspect, our clients.

Our friends at Freshview, who have created two excellent web-based email list management tools in Campaign Monitor and MailBuild, have done the design community a valuable service by documenting support for standards in a variety of email clients. Things were looking better, until…

David at Freshview noted recently on the Campaign Monitor blog that the launch of Outlook 2007, far from improving matters, significantly degraded support for HTML in what is one of the most popular email clients, especially in the corporate world.

So, they decided, it was time for action. And thus began the Email Standards Project (which also has a Facebook group, of course). Similarly to the push for better browser support for web standards that kicked off during the dark ages of the browser wars (gee – sounds like something out of Star Wars!?), the Email Standards Project aims to establish a core set of standards that the design community wants supported, and then will encourage email client vendors to support these standards.

And of course, once those core set of requirements are supported, then we’ll move on to secondary requirements etc. 😉

The Project’s website is launching today – so keep an eye on it to see how the campaign develops, and how you can help…

Stability issues with Firefox

I recently upgraded Firefox to and I’ve been having all sorts of crashes – anyone else had issues? Seems the crashes happen while a page is loading and I try and open a new tab…

Dead in Iraq

This is pretty amazing.

More detail at SMH:

As the game [America’s Army – an interactive project funded by the Pentagon which it uses to enlist recruits] continues around him after he is killed – and usually under a hail of abuse from the other players – DeLappe types in the name, age, service branch and the date of death of each soldier.

Wal-Mart green electronics

EcoGeek reports: “Wal-Mart has announced that its electronic suppliers will have to fill out scorecards indicating the environmental impact of its products”.

It’s voluntary and un-scrutinized, but it’s a start. It would be cool if the manufacturers, or Wal-Mart, published the results on the web – though I doubt we’ll see that, except maybe from the ones that perform well…

Great intro to RSS

The video below is a great, no-fuss, easy to grok description of RSS and feed readers. [via Blogging Pro]

It focuses on web-based readers – for those on Mac I can also recommend NetNewsWire – my fave for a long time, or the free Vienna.

There are two types of Internet users, those that use RSS and those that don’t. This video is for the people who could save time using RSS, but don’t know where to start.

We made this video for our friends (and yours) that haven’t yet felt the power of our friend the RSS reader. We want to convert people; if you know someone who would love RSS and hasn’t yet tried it, point them here for 3.5 minutes of RSS in Plain English.