Archive for the ‘Apple’ category

Customer Support – Not!

May 29, 2011

I recently spent some quality time on the phone with Microsoft customer support in the far east. I’ve used Microsoft mice for years, but I needed to temporarily uninstall their mouse driver. I ended up speaking to five people including a supervisor and the supervisor’s supervisor. None had any Macintosh experience. There is apparently no such thing as Microsoft Mouse/Keyboard support for Mac. After two callbacks, the supervisor’s supervisor finally informed me that the uninstaller exists in the my Utilities folder. It doesn’t have the same name as the mouse driver, but there it is. Time wasted — two hours.

I’ve had similar experiences with Adobe tech support for its publishing program, In Design, where it often seems that all problems can be solved by reinstalling the application or trashing your preferences. If that doesn’t work, then the bug you found is actually a feature.

We’ve all had these experiences. And painful as they are, they are one thing when they relate to your phone bill, and another when they’re about a piece of software you depend on to make a living.

Two weeks ago Avid took over the AlphaDogs Editors Lounge event with a series of simultaneous, small-group meetings where customers could get up close and personal with key Avid personnel. CEO Gary Greenfield was on hand, along with the principle Media Composer product managers and engineers. Anybody present could pose questions to the key decision makers at Avid and get honest answers.

Contrast that to Randy Ubillos’ impressive Final Cut X demo at the NAB Supermeet. He showed off lots of intriguing technology, and the crowd cheered. But no questions were permitted.

Avid and Apple are playing to their strengths. Apple is once again democratizing the market, making it possible for more and more people to edit, and hoping for customers numbered in the millions. Avid is building on its deep roots in the professional community and keeping those relationships as close and current as possible.

I’m glad both companies exist. They’re doing different things and both are important. But when it comes to customer support, I’ll take the up close and personal kind, any day.

Apple Said to Aim FCS at Prosumers

May 18, 2010

AppleInsider is running a story that indicates Apple is re-targeting Final Cut Studio at home users and prosumers. The company has posted two job openings: for a Senior Visual Interface Designer and a Senior Human Interface Designer, both for Pro Apps. Key quote: “Apple’s Professional Applications Design Group is seeking a passionate senior human Interface designer who also understands the intricacies of non-linear video editing.” The remainder of the posting might imply that they are planning a wholesale reexamination of the FCP UI.

Not much hard evidence, but tantalizing, to say the least.

Apple scaling Final Cut Studio apps to fit prosumers

Editing on an iPad, Anyone?

March 24, 2010

Call me slow, but I finally watched Steve Jobs’ iPad keynote last night (it’s now available on Apple’s home page — or here). The iPad looks like it’ll be a very nice way to watch movies or read digital books, and Jobs offered a typically masterful demo of those capabilities. But what I didn’t expect was the focus on content creation. That came from Phil Shiller, who showed Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

Apple made a radical decision with the iPad, focusing entirely on a touch interface. That may seem like a natural extension of the iPhone, but you’re going to do different things with an iPad, and your fingers work differently than a mouse. A mouse is way more accurate, but it’s monotonic, with only one active region at a time. With multi-touch, you lose precision but you gain the ability to track gestures and activate multiple contact points. In terms of human-machine bandwidth, it’s probably a wash — but to make touch work you need an interface that’s tweaked differently. So Apple has quietly redesigned all of its core applications with bigger buttons and new interaction models that let you quickly do what you want with your fingers. There’s a focus on presenting you with exactly and only the tools you need for any particular task, and that ain’t as easy as it looks.

Watch, for example, how Shiller selects multiple slides and moves them around as a group (at about 1:01:00). Or how he matches the size of two images by touching them simultaneously. Or does live wrapping of text around an image (at 1:05:00). Or moves columns of figures, or uses a soft keyboard with just the symbols you need.

There’s no version of iPhoto for the iPad yet — editing an image will certainly take some unique UI work — but it seems clear that we’ll see one soon.

And so, we come to the question of post production. Would the iPad work for heavy duty editing? Unlikely. The screen is way too small, and there’s no disk interface, no Finder. But for putting together home movies while on vacation and uploading them directly to Youtube? It seems like a natural.

The question is what might happen when pros start playing with an interface like that. As the song says, once they’ve seen gay “Paree” — how ya gonna keep ’em down on the farm?

Final Cut User Group Videos

December 12, 2009

Video from the LA Final Cut Pro User Group meeting I spoke at is now available for download via the Open Television Network. The meeting covered new features in MC 4.0 and featured presentations from me, Walter Murch and Shane Ross. Details are in this post. The video has been divided into three parts, one for each of the presenters. It’s not free, but the prices are minimal and the quality is excellent. Go to the LAFCPUG page on the Open Television Network and enter your credit card information. Click the link to subscribe to the feed via iTunes. Buttons for all recent episodes will appear in the iTunes podcast page. Take a look at the free previews or download each segment in full. It sounds like a hassle, but it worked well for me and only took a minute or two. You’ll get a signup discount of $5, so watching all three parts will cost you a whopping $2.47.