(Kind of) Giving Up on Apple

Right now I’m writing this on a Dell Inspiron 11 inch notebook with Windows 7. Which is light green, because, as you might or might not know about me, I have a thing for light green. I’m also waiting for the Android app for Squarespace for my Motorola Milestone (or Droid for the US readers).

Which is another way of saying: I do not really use a Mac notebook and I don’t have an iPhone.

On the other hand and to be fair: I do own a three year old MacBook and I also do own an 2nd generation iPod touch.

However, when lately I had to make a choice what kind of new computer I wanted to buy and what smart phone I wanted, I did choose a Windows laptop and an Android phone.

There are a couple of reasons why I didn’t go for the obvious choice of buying Apple products.

1. I never hated Windows. Sure, I’ve seen my fair share of computer crashes and blue screens of death, but I never had the system fail completely on me. I grew up with Windows using it since I was in my teens and so far I’ve been fine with it. And I kind of dig Windows 7.

2. More than that, I don’t believe that you have to be either or. I can see the merits of an Apple computer (mostly because I have one) and I love my iPod touch. But that doesn’t mean that I have to stick to Apple. The surprising truth is: You can have both! What a concept.

3. I use a Windows system for work and I like to play around with some stuff away from work which I can’t do on a Mac OS. (I know that I can run a Windows OS on an Apple PC, but to me that seems like an option I would consider if I absolutely wanted a Mac. Which I don’t.)

But there are a couple of other reasons, too.

4. Apple products are expensive. An unlocked iPhone still costs around 600 to 700 Euro and you can’t even get one in Germany as far as I’m aware. MacBooks got a bit cheaper, but the smallest ones are still costlier than some of the better equipped Windows laptops.

5. Currently, the iPhone in Germany is attached to T-Mobile exclusively. And the data plans suck. I know, because my husband has an iPhone. He pays about twice as much monthly than what I pay. Admittedly his plan includes a few extra options that I miss and his connection speed is a bit faster, but it still doesn’t justify the price difference for me.

6. I wanted a small simple laptop with acceptable speed and performance and no frills, other than being light green. Basically I wanted something to carry around all the time. An 11 inch screen is perfect for me. It’s big enough to work as a screen for most of the tasks and I can still connect it to a bigger screen on my desk. The smallest MacBook is still a 13 inch which was just a tad too much.

7. The restrictiveness of both the Mac OS and the iPod started to bug me. Maybe I never got around to really learning my Mac skills, but it was a feeling that repeatedly left me frustrated.

8. Slide-out keyboard. Just saying.

So far I haven’t regretted my choice. I’m absolutely and completely in love with my Dell notebook. It’s with me all the time and I use it all the time. Windows 7 also is a great OS to work with. No complaints here so far as well.

Coming from an iPod touch it took me a while to switch to the Android (not as a phone, but as a small computer). I still use the iPod for music and videos, but that might change in the future, too. I even started to play around with Android development, which seems like a developer’s dream compared to my short-lived experience with iPhone development.

I plan to write more about the actual advantages and drawbacks of each system. For now, just leave it at: I have a Dell notebook and a MacBook laptop as well as an Android phone and an iPod touch. I am neither an Apple fangirl nor am I a Windows or Google groupie. And that’s totally fine with me.

The Long-Lasting Effects of Scrum are Not Yet Known

Recently I moved from a Scrum team to a non-Scrum team. I was kind of aware that after nearly a year of doing Scrum (a total of eleven sprints) this would make a difference to me, but only now can I say for sure how that affected me and my perception of work in the first days after switching from Scrum to non-Scrum.

Frankly, it’s kind of terrifying. This is even stranger since for the most part of my work experience so far I have worked in non-Scrum environments. It seems like the Scrum-experience is indeed a bit intense and has an effect on you that you might not expect.

The way I work now can be loosely described as „there is no defined process“. In other words, there’s work to be done and the goal is to get that work done on time. That’s it.

During the first week I was confused by the lack of daily Scrums. We had daily Scrums at 11:30 am and I noticed that around that time I got slightly nervous and had to remind myself that there was no daily scrum. No more. I could just keep on working. Similarly the lack of daily feedback irritated me. How would anyone know how far I’d come since yesterday? How would I learn what everybody else was doing? (The answer, of course, is simple. They could ask me. I could ask them. Done.)

Apart from that, the lack of tasks is even more irritating and it still gets me from time to time. How long am I supposed to work on this? When is it done? When I should I start worrying about how long it takes? How long is it supposed to take anyway? Help!

Fortunately, I think these are just minor withdrawal syndroms that I will get over soon. But still, I find it interesting how the way Scrum works and the way you work with Scrum can affect you, especially if suddenly you find yourself NOT doing Scrum anymore. The bottom line is, Scrum provides a safe (or seemingly safe) environment for the team to work in. Things are clear. There are rules. There are numbers. There are timeframes. There are commitments. There are dates. There are times.

With all these things gone, you feel lost. (You really do.) The challenge now will be to create a safe environment to work comfortably in without all these fixed things surrounding you.

I will be working on that.

Renting Movies the Easy Way

After my husband’s return from Sydney we somehow got a little crazy and upgraded our living room with a new TV. We already had a BluRay Player with a 160 GB HDD which we got primarily to be able to record off the TV rather for the BluRay. Our old TV was one of the very few flatscreen TVs with no HDMI connection, which seemed even more ridiculous after we got the new player and couldn’t even use its BluRay feature. A

Anyway, we upgraded our old 32 inch HDMI-less TV for a fancy Sony 40 inch all inclusive TV. Naturally, it didn’t stop there because what’s a huge TV and a BluRay player without a fancy sound system? So, we got that, too.

We got a couple of BluRays to get us started, but looking at the shelves full of DVDs we already have I didn’t want to make that same mistake again. I wish it was different, but fact is, most of the movies we have there, we haven’t watched more than once. So I thought it was time to sign up for an online BluRay (and DVD) renting service here in Germany. I did some research and finally settled for lovefilm.de which is associated in some way with Amazon.

(There is no Netflix in Germany (yet?), so that wasn’t an option. Online streaming also wasn’t convincing with movies still costing up to 4 Euro per rent and without the advantage of full HD quality.)

In the last two weeks or so we got five movies from Lovefilm. The way it works is pretty easy. We get the movie delivered to our home address, can keep it as long as we like, and when we want to return it, we can use the same envelope it came in, throw it in the nearest mail box and wait two or three days for the next movie. You need to keep a list of movies you’d like to have which you can prioritize.

Here’s why I think it works for us and will continue to work for us:

1. There’s not much to procrastinate. The envelope already has the return address printed onto it and is stamped as well. I don’t have to go to the post office to get stamps, I don’t have to do anything, but to put the disc in the envelope seal it and bring to the next mail box – for example on my way to work.

2. You can just add and delete stuff of your movie list in between. As long as I have a long enough list I don’t have to worry about what movie to rent next for quite some time. I can just update the list when I feel like it.

3. We can keep the movie as long as we like. If we don’t feel like watching a movie for a couple of nights, we don’t have to pay extra. Sure, we will get less movies in a month for the same monthly fee, but at 12 Euro a month the system even pays off with as little as two movies a month.

4. You don’t have to worry about just getting great movies. When buying movies, you really want to get your money’s worth. There are a lot of movies that I’d just like to watch once and don’t expect to want to watch it again and again. Buying such a movie seems like a waste of money. But, to be fair, even the movies I do like a lot, I hardly watch over and over again. Now I just add them to my list and don’t care whether they’re brilliant. Already, we have watched a couple of movies that I’d never considered buying but turned out to be pretty good.

The thing about renting movies the painfree way is this: I am lazy. When I’m home after work I might not want to get out, go to the video rental, decide on a movie, get back, and remember to go back there the next day. I also don’t want to go to the post office more than I absolutely have to. (Although, to be fair, the guys here at my post office are really nice.)

After the first weeks of using Lovefilm I have the feeling that this might work out for us. It’s easy, it’s painfree and it doesn’t require anything more from me than keeping my movie wishlist up to date from time to time and walking an extra twenty meters to the mailbox on my way to work. That’s it.

(By the way: Any movie recommendations for me? I can always add more movies to my wishlist to keep them coming.)