West Boca 7-Year-Old Publishes on Amazon

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Niki Kawa, a 7-year-old girl and author from West Boca, is getting some publicity for her book, Quotes are Life. She just appeared on CBS 12:

And Niki also appeared on Newsmax TV:

Ms. Kawa’s father Larry is an orthodontist in Mission Bay Plaza. Niki is a student at Pine Crest.
Published on September 12th, the book is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats:
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We wish them luck from West Boca News.

Has Apple Fallen?

Something fundamental has changed at Apple. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because Steve Jobs is gone. I first noticed things going downhill a few months ago. But recent problems with iOS 7 and the new Mavericks OS for Macs have convinced me that it’s a big problem that will probably get worse. There was also a recent visit to Town Center mall in Boca Raton. We passed by the Apple Store and there were far fewer customers than we’re used to seeing in there.
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I’ve been an Apple fan since before the Mac. I started using computers back in the late 1970s, writing programs in BASIC on the Commodore Pet, and later played around with various Apple II models. When the original Mac came out in 1984, I was hooked. Over the years I used DOS and Windows as necessary, but I always preferred Macs. When my law practice started generating enough revenue, around 8 years ago, we went all in on Apple and haven’t looked back. Until now.
We currently have multiple iPhones and iPads in our family, along with three iMacs and a MacBook Pro laptop. And we have a couple older laptops and a recently retired iMac sitting around. I was also an Apple shareholder, but I sold my stock about a month ago.
The watershed moment was when I upgraded my iPhone 4S to the new iOS 7. The experience reminds me of the title of an old Rick Moranis movie, “Honey They Shrunk the Kids,” but with a twist. Honey They Stunk My iPhone. Before the “upgrade,” my iPhone worked fine. It was fast. It did all the things I wanted to do and did them well.
I didn’t upgrade right away. I waited to see if there were any news stories or other hints of problems, and until they’d had a couple rounds of bug fixes. In mid-October I upgraded to version 7.0.2, and I’m currently using the latest, 7.0.4. It took a few days for me to notice the problems.
The phone is much slower now, dramatically slower than it was with iOS 6. There’s something wrong with the caching. Under iOS 6, when I’d switch from one app to another and then switch back, it would usually retain the information on where I was. Now it’s much more likely to dump and force me to restart in the app when I come back. Certain actions that used to be nearly instant now take several seconds, which of course in our modern age feels like an eternity.
As an aside this reminds me of the Louis CK interview with Conan O’Brien – Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy:

There’s a tendency to think any problem you experience is bigger and as humans we often do not realize that such problems may be specific to us – that it may be a small problem and not widespread. In this case the speed issue does appear to affect many people. ReadWrite has a help article for iPhone 4 and 4S owners dealing with the iOS 7 slowdown, and there are a number of other articles on the subject. Just Google ios 7 iphone 4s slow.
Speed is not the only issue. There have been many complaints about various changes. Personally I find the Calendar app far less usable. I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s wrong with it, but it’s worse. Imore suggests some alternative Calendar apps for those who are frustrated. For other criticisms, see 15 most annoying things about iOS 7 or 7 misses in iOS 7.
As another example, the Mail app has become quirky. Here’s a couple things I noticed recently. In my inbox I have a bunch of messages. When I know I don’t want something I click on the edit option and I can delete messages without having to click into them. In the image below, you see the third message has a circle next to it, which allows me to check it and then delete checked messages. That circle does not appear for the top two messages? Why not? I have no idea.
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Also, you see in the above image a “No Sender” message. It is also something that can’t be deleted, and was apparently “sent” in 1969. Clicking on it accomplishes nothing. What is this? Why is my Mail app acting up?
Deep down this reflects a huge underlying problem for Apple. The company’s success has been driven by its obsession with user interface, commonly referred to in the industry as UX. I have loved Macs because their UX has long been better than Windows. I feel the same about the iPhone. They nailed the user experience on the original and had been doing very well on it up until now.
User experience is often a problem because the engineers who ultimately make everything work have different expectations than regular users. When Apple ran an ad campaign with the phrase “The computer for the rest of us,” my engineer brother sarcastically described it as “The computer for the rest of them.” One of the great things about Steve Jobs is that he was able to drive the engineers at Apple to make their products easy to use. With iOS 7 and other issues we’re all seeing, that’s clearly gone now.
My next phone will not be an iPhone. It will probably run some version of Android, especially if Amazon comes out with one. Jeff Bezos at Amazon is the current leader in the industry at delivering a quality user interface.
On the desktop and laptop front, I haven’t given up on Macs yet. We had a major problem with our newest iMac the other day. It was a very frustrating experience. I spent a few hours with Apple’s customer service and we were not able to get it fixed. It felt like the support person was going through the motions and really didn’t have the technical expertise to understand what was going on. On the bright side, the people I spoke with were clearly Americans working in the United States, and they stayed focused on me. With some companies you talk to someone in a foreign country, often India, and you get the feeling they’re handling two or three calls at the same time. Also to Apple’s credit, the same support person agreed to replace the iMac with a new one. I had to drive to the store to pick it up, but it was brand spanking new and a slightly newer model so in that sense they did take care of me. On the negative side, I still had to upgrade it to the new Mavericks OS myself, rather than it being preloaded on the machine. Mavericks was released well over a month ago.
On that visit I again noticed the Apple Store was nowhere near as crowded as it had been even a few months earlier. This suggests that Apple’s “buzz” is fading. For investors that should be a huge concern. And one aside, I wonder why Apple never built or bought its own search engine for all the searches that are done on the various iPhones, iPads and so on. That is a hugely successful business, in terms of ad revenue and big data. It seems like a business blunder.
Sadly it appears the Apple has fallen far from the tree it once was. Will it be able to get back up again?