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Foxconn’s legal problem, reported this morning, is also Apple’s problem.
Apple has long worked hard to ensure suppliers like Foxconn comply with labor regulations, conducting regular audits to ensure underage workers are not employed, and enforcing Apple’s own rules on things like maximum overtime hours.
However, there is one breach of China’s employment laws that would seem almost impossible for either Foxconn or Apple to resolve, at least in the short term…
It’s been reported this morning that Apple has admitted that Foxconn is in massive breach of one law in China.
The Chinese Labor Watch group released a lengthy report alleging several violations of Chinese law against Foxconn, the key iPhone assembler. Apple said it investigated and denies most of the allegations but did say that it found Foxconn’s iPhone factory workforce was made up of 50% temporary labor, way above the 10% rule according to the law.
Apple said that it is working closely with Foxconn to resolve the issue, but Chinese Labor Watch claims that Apple is allowing Foxconn to continue using the workers, despite it technically breaking Chinese law.
That’s a tough one to solve.
iPhone assembly is the very definition of seasonal work. If you look at Apple’s iPhone revenue (courtesy of six colors), there is a completely consistent pattern, exactly as you’d expect:
A step up when new iPhones go on sale in the last week or two of a quarter
A huge jump in the following quarter, when most new iPhone sales are made
A drop in sales afterwards
A slump in the quarter leading up to next year’s models
It doesn’t matter whether Apple launches one, two, or three new models each September — that pattern isn’t going to change. And when demand in fiscal Q1 is around twice that of fiscal Q3, there is no sensible way to meet production requirements without taking on a massive influx of temporary staff. Foxconn’s legal problem seems almost insoluble.
I can see only three logical options for compliance, two of which Apple would never support.
Option one would be unethical behavior, like making conditions so unpleasant for staff during the off season that they choose to leave. A company of Foxconn’s stature isn’t going to consider that, and even if it were willing to do so, Apple would shut down any such initiative within a heartbeat.
Option two is to technically comply with the law while flouting its intent. The obvious example here would be give all the temporary staff “permanent” positions, then offer them financial incentives to resign their posts afterwards. Or create subsidiary companies that are formed when demand is needed and dissolved when it isn’t. But I can’t see Apple permitting that type of sketchiness, either.
Which leaves option three: to remain at peak employment levels throughout the year (or within 10% of same). That would be legal and ethical — but it would massively increase labor costs just to have a lot of staff twiddling their thumbs for much of the year.
The problem can be solved in the long term. Foxconn is moving increasingly replacing human workers with robots, and its end goal is completely automated factories. No labor, no labor law problems.
Medium-term, Apple can also continue to open up production facilities in other countries, whose governments may favor temporary work over no work at all.
But in the short term, I don’t see what Foxconn and Apple can do, other than option three. And at a time when Apple is already having to absorb the costs of US tariffs on some products entering the country from China — and will have to do the same with iPhones from December — a substantial additional production cost is something the Cupertino, California, company really doesn’t need.
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I Can’t Wait to See the Wii 2
At the E3 gaming expo later this year, Nintendo will take the stage and finally unveil its long-rumored (and much-needed) Wii successor. Over the last couple weeks, we’ve been hearing quite a bit about the device, including the possibility of it coming with more powerful specs than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Rumors also suggest that a new controller is in the works that could feature a 6-inch display.
Exactly what the device will actually deliver when it’s released next year is anyone’s guess. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see the aforementioned, more powerful platform and unique controller. After all, that’s what Nintendo will need to offer in order to be successful.
Since I first started hearing rumors about Nintendo’s upcoming console, I’ve been excited. I see the device as a fresh new start for my relationship with Nintendo. And if the console offers the features that the latest rumors suggest it will, it might just be my favorite console yet — a feat that the Wii was never able to reach in my home since it first came through the front door.
I don’t like my Wii. In fact, after not playing it for several months, I disconnected the platform and left it in my closet; it has sat there ever since.
My main issue with the Wii is actually quite simple: I don’t like motion gaming. I’ve found that throwing my hands around to play a video game is tiresome and best for a party. When I’m alone or with another person, I want to sit down on the couch, hold a controller in my hand, and play through a title. Call me old school, but that experience, which is delivered by both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, is far more appealing.
I should note that I have one other issue with the Wii: there are far too few games available for the platform that I would even consider playing. I do enjoy Nintendo’s first-party games, but other than that, I’ve been generally disappointed with what I’ve found on the platform. The Wii’s audience is made up of casual players looking for casual games. And developers have been delivering that. I, on the other hand, want more “hardcore” experiences. And so far, the best hardcore games have been released on the the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
So, I’m excited to see what Nintendo has up its sleeve. For too long, I’ve been looking at the company’s gaming strategy and wondered what it’s thinking. And its investors, who have watched its revenue and profit figures decline over the last year have probably been wondering the same thing.
If Nintendo is smart, the company’s next console will acknowledge and accommodate casual players, but not rely so heavily on them. Instead, this upcoming platform should be the device that people like me have been waiting for, boasting high-end specs and high-end gaming experiences.
Enough with the Wii-like gaming, Nintendo. We’re looking for something truly groundbreaking.
I spend plenty of time using the free trials that many software and service makers offer. But here’s a little secret: I rarely continue using the product when the trial is up and it’s time to pay. Sanebox, though, is one exception to that rule. This simple service, designed to save you time by bringing order to your inbox, works so well that it’s easily worth its $5-per-month asking price (after a 30-day free trial).
Sanebox is a cloud-based service that works with any IMAP-based email service. You simply enter your email address on their site and give the service permission to access your account; then it goes to work analyzing the contents of your inbox. You can connect social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter in order to give Sanebox more information on which to base its decisions.
And those decisions, about which emails you need to see now versus which ones can wait until later, are important. That’s why I granted the service access to those three social networks and my Gmail account. Then, I sat back and waited.
After about 15 minutes, Sanebox had cleaned up my Gmail account. It had taken an account with 32,000 messages (1,000 of them unread) and whittled it down to 1,200 messages (100 of them unread). The rest of my messages weren’t deleted; instead they were placed in newly created folders, such as “SaneLater,” “SaneArchive,” and “SaneNews.”
Instead of feeling relief, though, I instantly felt panic. What if an important email had been filed in the wrong place? That same feeling lasted for the first day or so that I tested Sanebox. I was used to receiving hundreds of emails a day and having dozens of unread messages in my account at any time. Now, I was receiving maybe two dozen messages a day, and my unread messages were in the single digits. It seemed too good to be true.
But it wasn’t. Sanebox does a remarkably good job at making sure the messages I need to see are delivered to my inbox most of the time. And on the occasions when it stumbled–sometimes delivering important billing statements or personal messages I’d like to see immediately to my SaneLater folder–the error was easily fixable. Sanebox delivers a regular digest email to your inbox, alerting you to the messages sitting in your SaneLater folder, so you can quickly scan it to see what you’ve been missing. You can use this digest to train Sanebox to deliver those messages to your inbox in the future. You also can peruse your SaneLater folder at any time, simply by opening it, as it appears on any client that you use to check your email account, including your mobile device.
Sanebox offers plenty of additional tools, including a SaneBlackHole folder, which kills any annoying messages and newsletters you don’t want to receive. Drop a message in that folder, and you won’t receive anything from that sender again; future messages from that sender are hidden from your view. You also can opt to defer emails until later, using SaneTomorrow or SaneNextWeek folders, or one with a timeline that you set.
Sanebox promises to save the average user two hours per week. I was skeptical of that claim when I started testing the service. Now, after using it, I think it may have saved me even more time than that.
Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can register to use this Web-based software.
Since Apple Music first launched in 2024, one of the most common requests from Mac users has been for Apple to separate the streaming service from the rest of iTunes. Despite several macOS updates since then, however, Apple has not yet made such a move, with Apple Music still locked inside iTunes.
Last week, we saw the second third-party version of Apple Music created for the web. It’s this app that really showed me how great Apple Music could be if it weren’t buried in iTunes.
Right off the bat, let me say this: I don’t want Apple’s solution to breaking Apple Music out of iTunes to be a web app. Instead, I want a full, dedicated macOS app. Similar to how Books is its own app, Apple Music deserves to be a standalone macOS app.
If we look at the Musish web app, however, there are several good examples of the benefits that come from dedicating user interface space all to Apple Music. The app puts the “For You” interface right up front, making it easy to access your recently played content and other curated playlists.
Further, Playlists are also much easier to access, with your personal playlists and Apple Music-created playlists always available along the right-hand side.
iTunes on the Mac is messy, and it’s only set to get messier as Apple focuses more on Services and prepares its own streaming video service. iTunes hasn’t seen a major visual overhaul in years, despite the addition of such a major new platform in Apple Music.
I’m not a fan of the menu interface for switching between different media types like podcasts, movies, and music. If we’re being honest, these features – especially podcasts, should be broken out into their own individual apps as well, but that’s an argument for another time.
Accessing various parts of Apple Music through iTunes is clunky at best. For instance, going to the “For You” tab along the top completely takes over the interface. This makes it difficult to access things like the full album of what’s currently playing, your playlists, and more.
Of course, one possibility is that Apple plans to use its ‘Marzipan’ initiative that brought apps like Home and News to the Mac from iOS. I truly hope this isn’t the case, though, as those apps aren’t especially great on macOS. The iOS version of Music also isn’t perfect, so the solution isn’t to simply bring that interface to the Mac. Apple Music interfaces all around need some attention.
Finally, giving Apple Music its own dedicated macOS would also – hopefully – mean things would load significantly faster. Because of all of the features crammed inside, iTunes is infamously bogged down and prone to slow performance, crashing, and more. Apple Music could be dedicated to one thing, and be far more lightweight.Wrap up
Nearly four years after launch, it’s time for Apple Music to become its own dedicated app on macOS. This would bring performance enhancements, a far more accessible interface, and various other improvements. iTunes on the Mac wasn’t designed with Apple Music in mind, and that is really starting to show. Features are hard to access, performance is bogged down, and even the simplest of tasks are cumbersome.
Ideally, a standalone Music app on macOS would integrate Apple Music, as well as all of the content from your iTunes library, much like on iOS.
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As part of my job at the company where I work, I basically “taught myself” how to do SEO.
It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight.
I don’t claim to be an absolute SEO expert, but I have learned a few tricks and shortcuts – I’m talking about ethical, effective, SEO strategies and tactics – not the sleazy and self-defeating kind that gets your site banned by Google.
Unfortunately, I gained this knowledge from hard-earned experience – by having a few run-ins with unqualified, unreliable SEO vendors.
The fact is, there are too many bad SEO firms out there who make unrealistic promises, use weird and shoddy methods, and cause more harm than good.
Especially a few years ago, the field of SEO services was kind of a Wild West, with too many fly-by-night firms claiming to be able to deliver results that were ultimately unsustainable as Google tweaked its algorithm.
The good news?
Good SEO matters and it makes a difference in your business results.
It is definitely possible – more than ever – to do SEO the right way to drive better search results and get more traffic to your site, without doing unethical tricks to game the system and without making your site sound like a robot wrote it.
Here are five things I wish I had known before I hired my first SEO vendor.1. SEO Guarantees Are Often Unrealistic
If an SEO firm is promising you “top 10 search results on Google,” just run.
It isn’t realistic.
In fact, it’s impossible to guarantee a top spot on Google, especially for some of the more popular and competitive search keywords.
It takes a lot of time and work to get your site to climb the ladder on Google.
Don’t expect it to happen overnight, and don’t trust anyone who tells you they can do it.2. SEO Takes Time
SEO is not something where you flip a switch and watch the results pour in – it’s an ongoing process.
You need to constantly tweak your site and adjust your SEO strategies, and then wait to see how Google views your results.
It’s like planting a garden – you have to plant the seeds, see which ones sprout and grow, and then you have to tend the garden over time to maintain the progress you’ve made.
The Google algorithm is constantly learning and adapting, so your SEO strategies need to keep up.3. Don’t Worry About Keyword Density
My first SEO vendor tried to get me to rewrite the content for our site as if a robot could read it, and put way too much focus on including a certain percentage of keywords within the overall text.
After a certain point, keyword density just starts to sound ridiculous – it changes the whole voice and flow of your content, and makes it feel like you’re writing for a robot.
Maybe this worked back in 2009, but Google has gotten smarter since then.
Google tends to reward websites that have higher quality content, where the website actually is “about” what it claims to be about – you can’t just stuff your website full of “business” terms and expect Google to send customers to you.
By all means, include keywords and try to target the keywords that are important for your business, but don’t go crazy with calculating keyword densities.
Write with humanity, for a human audience.4. Quality Links, Not Quantity Links
The SEO game used to be all about getting lots of links back to the site, even if you had to pay for links from shady link farms and other dark corners of the Internet.
The truth is: low-quality links are a loser’s game.
It isn’t about getting tons of links from lower-ranked sites; in fact, that’s bad.
Today, you want really good content that people want to read and share.
It’s better to work harder to get a few good links from well-respected sites (like Search Engine Journal) than to scrape the bottom of the barrel with an outdated link-building strategy.
Google judges you by the company you keep. If too many low-quality sites are linking to your site, your Google results will suffer.5. Want Quick Results? Use Google Ads
If you need an immediate boost in your SEO, buy Google Ads for your most important search terms. This puts you at the top of the listings right away.
Check out the Google Ads Keyword Planner tool to get started.
Keep experimenting and learning.
Try new things and see what gets results.Conclusion
SEO never ends, so you must commit to it as an ongoing process.
Spend some time every week or every day on doing some of the simple everyday things, such as:
Creating new content.
Updating your website.
Posting links to your site on social media.
All of this will help you build a sustainable, long-term SEO strategy.
Intel’s original Ultrabook concept referred to ultraportable, ultraslim Windows laptops with a premium design and strict constraints on thickness and specs. But these days, vendors seem to label every semislim ultraportable they sell as an Ultrabook, and Intel has stretched the definition to include laptops that aren’t in the same aesthetic league.
Our review model Inspiron 14z, priced at $900, carries a third-generation Intel i5-3317U processor, 8GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon HD 7570M graphics card, a 500GB hard drive spinning at 5400rpm, a tray-loading DVD-RW drive, built-in Wi-FI 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0, and the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.Performance
The Inspiron 14z Ultrabook performed well in our WorldBench 7 benchmark test suite, with a score of 120, meaning that it as about 20 percent faster than our reference model, which packs a second-generation Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. The 14z also delivered creditable overall performance, as the following chart indicates.
The other three models listed here–the Toshiba Satellite P775D-S5172, the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3-581TG, and the Dell Latitude XT3–are all-purpose laptops, a more natural competitive set for the 14z in view of it heaviness, its optical drive, and its discrete GPU.
The Inspiron 14z’s discrete GPU raises its gaming capabilities somewhat, and the laptop can even deliver smooth 3D performance. In our Crysis 2 graphics tests, the 14z delivered an acceptable frame rate of 42.1 frames per second (at 800-by-600-pixel resolution and low quality settings). The 14z isn’t a match for big-time gamers or graphic designers, but its discrete graphics card offers significantly better performance than you’d get from Ultrabooks that rely on integrated graphics.Design: Chassis, Keyboard, Trackpad
The 14z’s keyboard is spill-proof–and thus perfect for jittery coffee drinkers–but its island-style keys are too small, too widely spaced, and too soft to the touch. In effect, you sacrifice speed and accuracy for quietness. Another shortcoming: The Function keys on our test model worked only about 65 percent of the time.
Four buttons are located on the keyboard deck: the power button, a settings button that takes you to Windows Mobility Center, an audio button that opens Dell Audio software, and a programmable hotkey.
This Ultrabook offers only two USB ports (though both are USB 3.0), an HDMI port, an ethernet port, and a combination microphone/headphone jack. The ports on the left side of the machine (one of the USB ports, the ethernet port, and the HDMI port) are covered by little flaps, which are mostly just annoying.Screen and Speakers
The Inspiron 14z’s glossy 14-inch screen has a native resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. The screen looks generally good, with bright whites, slightly grayish blacks, and good color representation, but overall it’s a little too dim, even at the highest brightness setting in a darkened room. On a more positive note, the range of acceptable viewing angles is pretty impressive, with little darkening or washing out when you move a few feet to either side of the screen.The Bottom Line
The Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook is actually a thin, light, general-purpose laptop with Ultrabook aspirations and an optical drive. Thanks to its Ivy Bridge processor, discrete graphics card, and 8GB of RAM, the Inspiron 14z delivers respectable performance, but Dell surrenders style and hardware integrity in the bargain.
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