Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Apple acknowledges MobileMe migration issues, gives 30-day extension to subscribers

The transition from .Mac to MobileMe was, and I don't know a better way to describe this, a catastrophe. Today Apple sent out the mail below, which admits to the problems, and does right by customers by giving them a 30-day extension to their subscription for essentially a 4-6 day outage. The last service I subscribed to, World of WarCraft, provided day for day subscription extensions, even in the worst of times that were the launch period, so this feels pretty generous.
MobileMe services are now available. We have recently completed the transition from .Mac to MobileMe. Unfortunately, it was a lot rockier than we had hoped. Although core services such as Mail, iDisk, Sync, Back to My Mac, and Gallery went relatively smoothly, the new MobileMe web applications had lots of problems initially. Fortunately we have worked through those problems and the web apps are now up and running. Another snag we have run into is our use of the word "push" in describing everything under the MobileMe umbrella. While all email, contact or calendar changes on the iPhone and the web apps are immediately synced to and from the MobileMe "cloud," changes made on a PC or Mac take up to 15 minutes to sync with the cloud and your other devices. So even though things are indeed instantly pushed to and from your iPhone and the web apps today, we are going to stop using the word "push" until it is near-instant on PCs and Macs, too. We want to apologize to our loyal customers and express our appreciation for their patience by giving all current subscribers an automatic 30-day extension to their MobileMe subscription free of charge. Your extension will be reflected in your account settings within the next few weeks. We hope you enjoy your new suite of web applications at, in addition to keeping your iPhone and iPod touch wirelessly in sync with these new web applications and your Mac or PC. Thank you, The MobileMe Team
On the issue of "push", I do find it amusing that my iPhone notifies me I have mail far quicker than

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Introducing iTimeZone and Tangerine Element, Inc.

iTimeZoneToday I am announcing the launch of my new company Tangerine Element, Inc. and its flagship iPhone and iPod Touch application iTimeZone. Technically, the application launched on Thursday July 10th when the iTunes App Store went live, but for a variety of reasons (which I will perhaps detail when I have more time) I wasn't able to blog about it until now. The real site for Tangerine Element, or Tg for short, was launched late Friday or early Saturday, I can't remember when we finally got it out, the last few days have been a real blur.

iTimeZone - The world clock where you control the time
It took me a while to come up with that succinct summary, I was going with See the future, any time for a while. It finally hit me sometime this past Saturday that The world clock where you control the time was the shortest possible way to explain the core functionality, and my first "elevator pitch" wasn't going to help explain the application to anyone. For more detail, please look at the Tangerine Element iTimeZone product page or the iTunes App Store product page.

Tangerine Element, IncTangerine Element - What's in a name?
Back in April when I bought my new car, I never dreamed it would become the basis for the name of my new company. I was pretty settled on Murlon, Inc, but it never sat right with my business partner (who also happens to be my wife). I invented the name because we love Battlestar Galactica, and it seemed like mashing up the part of our last name and Cylon had the Sci-Fi angle we always thought we wanted, no needed, to launch a company. Then something unexpected happened. Over the 4th of July weekend, I spent most of the car ride up to Vermont from NJ and back down debugging (and *cough* adding features to) iTimeZone. My wife said we should name the company after the "roving office". She, a consultant (OK, a good friend), and I brainstormed out possible combinations of orange or tangerine and element. Finally, like a lot of things, domain availability dictated the selection of Tangerine Element, and that as they say is history.

Tangerine Element, IncThe big reason that I gave up on Murlon as a brand was because I couldn't think of good branding that was within my graphic design skill level. Tangerine Element had obvious branding potential that I could bang out pretty easily, in fact the large logo above was done in about 20 minutes in Acorn. Then I started scaling it down for use in a number of places and the text would never come through, so I created the miniature version on the left. I of course wanted to use Te as the compact brand, but that is a real periodic table element, Tellurium, so I used the next best thing.

What's next?
We are going to get to work on iTimeZone 1.1 and then 2.0, which is as far as the roadmap extends right now. We haven't really decided how open or closed, or somewhere in between, we are going to be with future product plans yet. I'll just say that expanding the list of searchable places you might want to see the date and time for are top priorities, as are UI niceties like adding more animation.