Apple: Reward For The Disenfranchised

AppleReporting from the trenches on this one. I was at the mall today. I don’t go to the mall very often.  But as it was attached to my optometrist’s office, I thought I might reward myself with a trip to the Apple store following my appointment.

The store was hopping. I couldn’t get close to the Air to run the demos, so I sauntered over to the music docks and enjoyed a little quality time with the B & W Zeppelin. When I tired of listening to Monk, Straight No Chaser, I moved up the rows and stopped to ogle the headphones.

In short order, Brandon, the Apple Dude, approached. He offered to answer any questions and we starting discussing head sets. One thing lead to another and soon we were chatting about Apple. He talked about the company with all of the fan boy zeal one would expect from a young geek working for Apple. We jawed about Steve Jobs and Cupertino and some of the changes Jobs made back in 1997.

I then commented on the number of people in the store. He rolled his eyes and told me that the store was in a lull at that moment, that it had been busier earlier and that he expected it to get even busier later. I looked at him all the incredulity a raised eyebrow can command: hadn’t the economy hurt high-end retailers like Apple? No, according to Brandon. In fact, he believed that more people were shopping at the store of late because of the bad economy. He said I would not believe how many customers were coming in with a tale of woe about being laid off and being forced to make changes. These changes invariably entailed purchasing a new computer to support a new career, new business or a return to school. Brandon also spoke of parents opting to purchase iPods for their children instead of the expensive trips to Disney World that previously were on the agenda.

I found it fascinating that people who no longer had an income stream were opting to purchase the Aston Martin of computer equipment to support new ventures. Why wouldn’t they instead scour the overstocks, refurbs and eBay listings to save as much money as possible? It then occurred to me that I was my own living answer to this apparent irony. I was in the Apple store rewarding myself for making it through another doctor’s appointment, another week, another month in the trenches. In order to sweeten the bitterness of enforced change, Apple’s customers were taking the lemons and making lemonade by adding a shiny new Mac to the mix.

Flocks of new Apple-ites fresh from the unemployment line may not be exercising the greatest fiscal responsibility. I still give them high marks for shoring up flagging self-confidence with quality hardware. And I wish them all the very best in their efforts to employ that hardware to better their lives and, maybe, better the rest of us through their new ventures in the process.

FireFox Goodies: UrlbarExt

One of the very best aspects of FireFox is the broad selection of plug-ins or extensions available to customize and streamline your browser experience. Highlighted today for your Saturday morning pleasure is UrlbarExt, an add-on that greatly enhances and streamlines your browser cutting and pasting efforts.

UrlbarExt extends the location bar with a set of commands to shorten the url via TinyUrl, copy the url, search using Google within the current site, navigate through subsequent urls, view a page-cached version, unblock a site and several other features. UrlbarExt essentially shortens the tasks by several keystrokes. After you download the add-on, your address bar will show icons next to the address that access the features with a click:

UrlbarExt

You can see these icons to the right of the address in the box above. The plug-in does not offer anything in the way of user-defined settings, but the default tasks are certainly sufficient to make your browsing life easier.

If you haven’t made the switch to Mozilla’s Firefox, you should consider it. Plug-ins like UrlbarExt will make you feel like Norm Abrams to IE’s Bob the Builder.