Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Quick Commentary: Why Apple Won’t Drop The Lightning Port Anytime Soon.



I’ve seen lots of commentary over the past few years that Apple should (or is about to) drop the lightning port from the bottom of iPhones.

This speculation was furthered by Apple’s switch to USB-C on new iPad Pros (and in theory by means of Thunderbolt 3 on MacBooks).

The thing is, MacBooks & iPads don’t “transmit” CarPlay to car stereos. Higher end premium package cars are only recently coming with a wireless CarPlay option - even though wireless CarPlay has been available for several years now. Wireless CarPlay has also been available in aftermarket car head units for more than 3 years but the price has been prohibitive - exceeding $1000 for a quality installation.

Wired CarPlay is relatively inexpensive to implement and a  major selling feature for many cars sold nowadays. Wired CarPlay is a huge driver for sales of iPhones for Apple. After all, you have to have an iPhone to have CarPlay. 

I personally have an aftermarket Pioneer head unit replacement in my 2013 Scion iQ with wired CarPlay. I recently purchased a wireless dongle from a third party called “CPlay2Air”. This dongle tricks the head unit into thinking the iPhone is plugged in. The dongle was pricey though - $120. I don’t see Apple selling such an adapter. Wireless CarPlay doesn’t always provide the most seamless experience - even if it’s factory installed and on a fully updated head unit and iPhone. Wireless CarPlay requires more proactive updating and tech savvy than Apple likes to place on users. Wired CarPlay on the other hand, just works and has the added benefit of charging your phone through the lightning port.

As car sales are boosted by Apple having a charging port and Apple’s sales of iPhones are boosted by desires to have CarPlay, I doubt the lightning cable is going anywhere soon. I also doubt iPhones are going to make the switch to USB-C on both ends of the cable - maybe on either end as so many cars sold 2016 onward have standard USB 2.0 ports. Placing such a cable in the box as standard would only serve a narrow niche of the newest, more premium car buyers - and for that matter - home users and home or office computer setups. 

As an IT admin, I know that I wouldn’t want those in my office to have access to wireless passwords just to sync their phone. No matter how good the security of the iPhone is, a host of security concerns arise in data syncing a phone with contacts, personal data, and banking apps on it.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Lowes Doesn’t Know



Today I’m sharing a letter that had no resolution with Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores.


I called once and was told I’d get a call back from the local store. No call. I shared with Lowe’s in private message on social media. I got the run around being told I would get a definite resolution three times over the course of 40 days. No response to address my concerns.


Dear Lowe’s,


During a recent sales promotion from March 16-19, 2020, your “Lowe’s Knows” ad campaign was really put to the test for me. 


For the past few months, I’ve been building up Lowe’s gift cards to use at an event that was being held nationwide March 17-19.


5% off any way you pay 

10% off for Lowe’s credit card holders.


A few weeks before the event, I started having paper flyers deposited into my Lowe’s shopping bags advertising said event. I frequent Lowe’s quite a bit and prefer Lowe’s over Home Depot.


Three weeks before the event, I went by the help desk at the Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia store to clarify the terms and conditions of this sale - that 1) it was an unlimited discount with no caps on amount of savings and 2) what exclusions applied. 


Oddly, the help desk knew nothing about the sale that was being advertised BY DEPOSITED FLYER in my bag. I showed them the flyer. The help desk associate went through a binder and read about the sale and clarified that I would be able to get 5% off any item in the store INCLUDING water heaters and also no limit on amount I could save. I asked, “If I spent $1000, I’d get $50 back?” Yes. If I spent $3000, I’d get $150 back?” Yes.


One other significant aspect of the sale terms I was told I had “to make sure you ask for the discount”, the flyer even indicated that the 5% / 10% wouldn’t be automatically deducted from my total.


I was told the main exclusion was custom orders. Example, if I had wire cut to length or paint mixed.


Due to complications of schedule adjusting due to the Corona Virus, I was unable to go to Lowe’s the first day of the sale on the 17th. On March 18, I went into the Fort Oglethorpe store at 9am and purchased $1500.00 worth of merchandise - covering 37 items. None of these items were custom - just standard off the shelf.


Over the course of the next two days I went to the Chattanooga Tennessee Lowe’s location and spent another $2300. None of the sales associates at this store knew of the sale either. I went to the management and they didn’t know. In fact, at this location they stated they had forgotten to advertise it and had placed flyers underneath each register but forgot to tell employees. 


During March 18-19 I had to go back and forth to Lowe’s quite a bit as my contractors, family, and myself needed items as we worked on the house:


The lack of knowledge about the sale got to be so maddening that I just skipped trying to get the discount and delayed buying some items.


As you know, lockdowns came into place and now I became stuck not completing my house projects in the accelerated (and discounted) timeframe I had originally planned.


All in all, I missed out on $78 in additional discounts because of this.


I had planned to purchase my entire raised garden build and supply with plants . Yesterday I went and got supplies in masks and gloves for $170. I had intended to spend over $300 on this project during the sale but I opted for a quicker, cheaper blue bucket container garden instead.


During this visit, I saw no employees with gloves, masks. All I saw was social distancing  marks and an intercom voice warned about social distancing, but that was it.


I’m very disappointed in Lowe’s and I’m hoping this letter finds the reader and management healthy and well. I also hope there is something you can do to restore confidence in my support of Lowe’s going forward.