technology

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Okay, since tech journalists far and wide love speculating, and taking the whiff of a rumor and exploding it into fact, that is picked up ad nauseam until when said fantasy feature is not announced people, including the same amplifying pundits, have a rage quote episode and decry how Apple’s ship is going down. How I truly hate that continual churn of stupidity. Let’s not include the fact that many of these predictions are not rooted in technical understanding nor have a solid idea of what a product really needs. And to be clear: any product needs to fill a gap, by making things either easier than before or make something that was impossible, possible (with minimal fuss in the case of consumer products). 

With that said, here are my completely baseless predictions on what Apple will reveal in about 9 hours presented to you in pseudocode-o-vision. Make no mistake: none of these have any basis in any current rumor or factoid about what parts assembly lines in Taiwan are missing this week, and all of the numbers (even the number of the new iPhone and OSes) are made up. 

1: Apple will slightly redesign the outside of the iPhone 5s, not that it matters because any tweak might look nice but be a literal pain to hold more than a few minutes at a time. (Chance of this actually happening? Meh; var Meh= ~10%; [note: all numbers are also completely made up.])

1.25: Apple will offer a 128GB iPhone 5S. if(anyoneAtAppleHasAppsGoneFree){Chance(Meh *5)};

1.5: Higher Res Camera (~10MP), a 720pixel display, a brighter LED flash, a bigger ~1.8Ah battery for a few more hours runtime (~10 hours on mobile data) . {Chance(Meh*7);}

1.75: The new iPhone will have a new improved accelerometer that registers fewer false tilts. Absolutely no dat that makes me think this can happen if(iPhone5s->DoesItNeedIt(Accelerometer++)){Chance( Meh% *√3.14159…);

 

/*By the way here’s a fun bet: 

Noivad:“I bet I know the last number of π!”

Patsy:“No way! π is infinite!”

Noi:“Yes but if it wasn’t what would the last digit be?”

PatsyCline:“No way you could know that!”

Noi:“Do too! wanna know why?” 

Patsayjack[SIC]:“Why?” 

Noi:“’Cause it’s Zero! XD” 

PatBucannan:“Grrrr!” 

Note: this joke requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, much like Green Lantern did… not because of the idea that an imagination ring that granted flight and super powers is really out there, but for the mere fact that Data for an Alien Autopsy was handing over on a 3.5″ HD in a lab that had the spare change to mount Neon Lights and unnecessary lifts everywhere & a super top secret drone fighter had a release party with press, cameras and a super top secret drone on display in the center of a fountain.*/

 

2: Apple will Retiring the MBP13″ in favor of New MacBook Airs (11 & 13) with better graphics and larger active and storage RAM, an updated iPad mini, and iPad Macro. Your truly will shed a single tear then buy 1 or 2, 2TB 2.5″ HDs for his MBP13, and some sort of bullet proof case, and clean its fans out more often. {Chance(Meh*2.5)};

 

3: iOS 7 & OS 10.9 will get a facelift. Why? cause that cute little WWDC poster with the translucent icon borders, and some mysterious new guy at iOS’s helm (whom I will refer to simple as JIve) who loves clean design. { Chance(Meh * 10);} //again completely made up.

 

4: Apple will open up iOS 7 to allow changing things such as the default browser, mail client, navigation client, contacts and calendar app to third parties and allow better interaction with Apple’s iCloud. Apps will simply have to be updated to register themselves as a calendar, a browser, a navigation app, etc. To show up in the list of other default clients. 

4.5: Siri will be able to pull up locations in Apple Maps or the third party registered nav apps. if(OS7->Siri > OS6->Siri) {Chance(Meh+75)}  //Yup, you guess it, another made up number. But it’s a feature I would love to see.

 

5: Siri will finally be let out of the box more. Siri will be able to set up appointments just by saying: “Meet with legal the week after WWDC to prepare my defense for this article,” and Siri will look up WWDC’s date, a legal contact (if you have it in your contact’s notes or any field with “legal” in it), and ask “will this be at legal’s offices?” I’ll whine, “yes,” and Siri will schedule the appointment. If I’m lucky, Siri will also set my alarm to tell me when to hit the road and send the location to my registered Navigation app, Waze. Siri will be in OS X 10.9 as well, and allow me to activate it with a control-space by default. I’ll tell it to “push this (by this I mean the document that has focus on my system) to my blog on Wednesday at 9AM,” and Siri will scan it and offer tags for the article, such as “Mea Culpa” and “Oops, I got sued again.” The reasoning is simple: since both OSes are under the control of JIve, teams will naturally start exchanging ideas and bring them closer to feature parity, and leverage the installed base of iOS devices to pick up Windows 8 defectors who decided to get an iPad instead of a SMurface Pro, after upgrading their desktop or laptop to Windows 8 and being horribly confused. if(OS7->Siri->GetsLove(AppleFocus)){Chance(Meh + 40%);} 

/*I would love it but the cool engineers at Apple (you guys know who you are) probably have their hands full actually making Siri distinguish between “Pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow at six,” and “Pick up my dyke leaning tomato axis.” Don’t ask me why Siri thinks I have anything to do with flood plane repairs near fruit gardens….*/

 

6: Better iOS <> OS X data exchange via iCloud. Set a reminder on my iPad or iPhone to pay my Netflix bill via paypal on the 10th with Siri, and my “maintenance” Reminders list on my OS X machine will open up my browser to hulu.com at 9AM on the 10th. It will also check my Queue and notice that A movie in my Queue will expire in 2 days and add that to my “downtime” reminders list. My “business” reminders will also remind me it is time to do a full backup with MySQL Workbench of my personal projects server and offer to trigger that script lying around ~/Documents/Dev/mySQL/Scripts that I never got to setting up a CRON/Launch agents action for. if(iOS7->dataPayload == iOS->dataPayload){Chance(Meh+65%)}; other fantasy automatic reminder features: if(iOSX->date->autoscan){Chance( Meh)};

 

7: iOS7 will offer an improved Bluetooth Manager that allow Airplay-like connect/disconnect options in any apps that support BT audio or connections because some bitchy customer (Me) told the AppleCare rep how stupid it was that you had to turn off BT to disconnect one device from an iPad, and then reconnect the other devices that you didn’t want to disconnect but has to, in order to release that one device for something else to hook up to it. if(AppleMonitorsSupportCalls){Chance(Meh*.2);}

 

8: iOS7 will offer multiple user Accounts, so each person that shares an iPad will be able to keep their Pandora account separate from their Kids and we have no more psychiatric admissions because Dad found out he was accidentally rocking out to One Dimension [SIC]!  Also, How many of use would rather keep our Browser free of links to <Insert This Quarter’s Teenie Bopper Idol Here> and home screen free of that clutter of time wasting games? Not to mention accidentally leaving your device with the store password entered right before the kids decide now is a great time to stock up on in App Purchases costing a few hundred dollars? if(AppleActuallyCaresToSeeHowTheirProductsAreUsedInWild){Chance(Meh *3 );}

 

9: OS X 10.9 will be more secure requiring people to mess with CLI defaults to install software that is not signed. Shortly thereafter 3 or 4 free and paid apps will be able to toggle this setting with one click.

 

10: iOS 7 will come with an upgraded Weather app, that allows you to control the temperature, cloud cover and humidity within one mile. Things will be great for about 5 minutes until people start overriding each other’s settings and cause tornados, flash floods and other events eventually leading to earthquakes and tsunamis before Apple engineers can turn off the iWeather server controlling it all.

 

While I am making predictions, I will take this opportunity to complain for a paragraph about the backslide companies such as Apple are making with their products: Hey how many people know that the Kensington Security slot is not present on the new Retina MBPs and the MBAs? And how many people even know what that is? Well, there goes physical security for those who care about it! As it is, Kensington is one of the few manufacturers who makes a case for the iPad with a lock for end users. Aside from them, I am not aware of any security cases for the iPad that are not meant for Kiosks and Register applications of the iPad… Apple’s design team apparently never takes any of their products out in public? Case Designer: “I got rid of that ugly slot on the side! It was really annoying, and no one knew what it was for!” Apple Exec that approved it: “Good job! That little slot was really annoying us with the extra 30 seconds it took the C&C machine to carve it out!” But whatever, a friend pointed out that Mac laptops are becoming disposable products with the tendency to use glue instead of screws in more products. 

Okay, well I thought I was going to write wild predictions about iOS7 offering to do your laundry at Lundry Locker or being able to point the camera at your eggs and it telling you the exact time to take them off the stove, but I guess I got too serious and just injected my wishes for Apple Products.

Well 2013 is here and either we are just the holographic debris on an event horizon of a black hole, or reality is relative. I wouldn’t have minded being the Mayan Calendar maker who made the last calendar, because then when finished, and asked …

King: “What happens when we reach the end of thew calendar? This think will not work after that.”

Mayan Calendar Maker: “By then I hope we are using a better system.”

King:“But you said your system was great?”

Mayan Calendar Maker: “There is always room for improvement.”

With that said, (as I actually said when someone asked me about databases I created in the mid 1990s about Mac OS’s Unix calendar running out in 2038) I wanted to write about a few things, but a project has been eating time like the Cookie Monster with a box of chocolate chip cookies. (Cookie & Count were always my favorite.)

So, I will mash up a few things, left and right… Read of to find out about a new Bluetooth audio headset, a product warning, and whatever else comes out in this unedited memory dump:

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I got a ton of flack from people on Ars when I commented that CD quality audio lost a lot of information that greatly affected a listener’s perception, and MP3 and other compressed audio formats simply made a bad situation worse.

I over-simplified my argument to keep it approachable, and had some wannabe audio experts quoting the Shannon-Nyquist theorem. They must have read ahead or did not understand the geek-speak for what needs to be true for the theorem to be valid. I figure they didn’t even read the prerequisites needed, and do not understand music enough to know that pretty much no music falls into the prerequisite category — having a constant frequency.

Apparently, Neil Young agrees. I was unaware that his hatred of MP3s is probably greater than mine until he announced Pono. Young has been on the road showing off and evangelizing better quality audio. There has been a lot of buzz about it — not just because he is such an iconic figure in music, but because the 3 big music companies (Warner, Sony and Universal) will sign up to support the better quality format.

In my post: 44kHz is not enough. I decided that a good compromise between file size and quality would be 24bit, 128kHz. But Young has decided that the studio quality digital audio woule be supported which is typically 192kHz/32bit. (Apple’s ALAC actually supports up to twice the sample rate, but it is probably future-proofing the format.) My hope is that this will not be yet another failed better quality audio format. The reasoning is two-fold:

  1. I want higher quality audio than what is currently available.
  2. I want the influx of bandwidth consumption to wake up consumers, and have them apply pressure to the communications companies* to increase speeds so that even a slow connection could stream 1–2MB/s.

See http://techland.time.com/2012/10/01/pono-neil-young/ for an article and video of Young and Letterman talking about Pono. So all in all, this is good news.

Update: I have since found bandcamp for the lossless CD quality audio, which will have to do until more albums from artists I follow are available on HDtracks.

*The telecoms monopolized our internet access landscape about a decade ago, after G.W. Bush overturned the laws that prevented de-facto monopolies. The laws that were repealed forced the telecoms to open up their lines (the cost of installation was funded by the government in many cases) thereby flattening the bandwidth speed increase curve. This lead to many smaller ISPs dying and fewer jobs in every region of the country. In turn, since there was little to no real competition, there was little-to-no incentive to increase internet speeds. The same 6Mbps connection has been offered for $40 or more the last half decade. But that is another topic.

It seems like only months ago I wrote this entire article in one sitting after pulling out comments I made to Mark via email on Josh’s views. Then had to mercilessly cut out about a third of it and rewrite parts over the next few days. But that’s because I’m old, and going off on tangents is the law. That or I have a lot to say about UI. So, what do I touch on (no pun intended) in part 2? You’ll have to read it to find out.

http://news.dice.com/2012/08/21/touchui-misunderstood-paradigm-2/

I was initially very hesitant to start a blog. Who the hell cares about what I think or what I do? The only people that might care, I talk to in person or via IM, regularly. But a funny thing happened since I established my first blog years ago: I realize that things obvious to me regarding technology and its proper use and abuse, were not so clear cut to others.

I have always seen over the next hill when others are staring at the road, and a few are looking at the top of the hill as far as where tech is going. I know the ultimate purpose of technology that practically everyone seems to forget. I know that all the current mainstream interfaces will eventually be replaced by things that are only in laboratories now. And I recognize that even those could be superseded by more refined technologies that would look like magic to anyone not paying attention.

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My piece on the new iPhone (“iPhone 5” or whatever the hardworking people at Apple call it) is now live at Dice News. Speaking of Apple, I have to do a 180 on my piece slamming their support. Recently, I was treated great by both phone and in-store support. But that’s another story…

Not much was actually cut (and I did all the cutting of actual points made) from this short article since I had a discussion with my editor about the difference in format between my stream of thought ramblings here in a personal journal format and a news/opinion article fit for mass consumption.

Popping open Scrivener right now, I see the first snapshot of the first draft mentioned that I was streaming music via bluetooth when I wrote the part about bluetooth A2DP, and this:

(*“The New iPad” doesn’t fly with me because—as my CL buddies and I know—naming anything “New …” is a bad practice. After 5 years, another thing supersedes it, and “New New…” sounds like something out of Futurama and/or Idiocracy.)

I really liked this aside, but the article was already over what most people have the patience to read. There are enough inside jokes in the article anyway. My favorite is the coining of the word “portamanmeme.” When I made the nyPhone image it took about 5 minutes to remember how to do it in Pixelmator having always used Photoshop for the slick masking, etc. Even before I made it, I thought that it would have ended up cut for sure, but nope, it made it in! Sure anyone can spew out bad jokes and tech commentary, but usually not at the same time (unless you are @mosspuppet).

I also cut this part about what we will be doing in the future with monitors and 802.11ad:

And next year I will be talking about how awesome direct point to point 802.11ad is at 60GHz with its currently mind-blowing 7Gbps throughput (and yes I realize the actual throughput will probably be less than half that, but an average of even 300MBps on 802.11ad with no physical connection would make me happy). The idea of being able to pull a monitor out of its box, turn it on, and then simply route your laptop’s video to that seamlessly, with no loss in quality is very appealing.

I also have the second part of my TouchUI article coming out, but with all the tech news, it has been pushed back since it is not something time sensitive.

Welp. Go read it, and then link the article to your friends so they can enjoy nyPhone as much as I did.

I have been following Dalton Caldwell on Twitter and reading his blog posts for sometime now. A vast majority of the time, I am nodding along to each of his points, as he points out a company or industry’s fundamental breach of trust or lack of sense in some new strategy that will revolutionize the industry.

This time Dalton is trying to kickstart a new social network with a twist: App.net. Instead of selling you, the user, and having you do all the work by posting content and telling the company what you like, only to have them turn around and sell your data to marketing and advertising agency. So, they can resell it to businesses looking for people in your demographic as a higher priced “targeted ad,” he aligns the social network with users by having the money come directly from the users. Dalton—being a “very smart guy”—knows the idea of paying for a service that is usually free in order to get better treatment has come.

When live journal, tribe, friendster and myspace were all trying to figure out how to monetize their social networking sites, the public at large, didn’t understand how valuable having a way to broadcast to the internet was. Now, that the public has had a taste, the idea and acceptance of social networks being a valuable way to communicate with friends has allowed people like Dalton to finally offer a service that people know the value of paying for. Tribe, Friendster, MySpace, LiveJournal, etc. were all trying to ride the wave when it was still out at sea while also getting towed be boatloads of advertising cash. Facebook, Google and Twitter are now trying to catch a line from the advertising boat, and alienating some of the people generating the wave.

They could easily turn around and offer a paid, ad-free service, however the real damage is with their selling and sharing of your data—things such as you email address, name, age, sex, address, zip code, etc. Once sold, the Facebooks of the world cannot redact any of that information. There is no mechanism to pull your data once it is let out to a third party app or game a person tries even just once. While FB’s compliance policy says the app maker must delete your data if you remove their “free” game, there is no enforcement, nor any auditing to make sure this is actually happening. So, really, it is time for a new entity with a clean slate to start with a center that is based on serving the people who pay for the service rather than the advertisers and companies that pay lip service to privacy concerns.

The saddest part is, even when a big company such a Google or Facebook adopt practices that are gross violations of privacy or make errors that would land a person in jail, they get what amount to a slap on the wrist, and publicly apologize, saying, “it will never happen again.” But we all know that their profit-margin from either alleged “mistakes” such as bypassing a DO NOT TRACK header, or sneaking persistent ID cookies in there to follow your browsing habits far outweigh any penalty once they get caught.

For instance an executive at BP could have sat in his office knowing full well they would be forced to cough up up to 2B for gross negligence (as long as they kept their mouths shut and never admitted wrongdoing), but also the net profits will be up 50% to 15B. That 2B dollar fine is just the cost of doing business and still a 30% jump above last year. (All of this is speculation, and I haven’t even checked their numbers, but you get the idea.) The same could go on every day at a large company in the social network space as well. An executive could weigh the risk-reward ratio of any illegal action, and figure that with enough spin, plausible deniability and legal fees and decide that the penalties are far enough down the road, and that public scrutiny only lasts so long.

I see BP gas stations today and they are doing business as usual with pump prices holding steady a lot higher than before the explosion in the Gulf, because people don’t care unless it is convenient for them to. If it is inconvenient to not use a product or service that they know is from an ethically deficient company, they generally make excuses or just admit, “I don’t care” if they are a more honest person. In fact as long as their interests align, they are willing to put up with a few questionably ethical practices.

The thing is, if one of these companies deices that their quarterly profits are worth more than a permanent injury to a group of people (such as their identity being stolen and their credit destroyed) or the environment (such as sea life mutating thanks to oil dispersants used in concentrations that would affect cell replication), then you or the victim of their risk-reward calculation are fucked. Because all that will happen will be a slap on the wrist, and lip service. There is no such thing as a corporate death penalty for accidents, nor gaming the system. But there should be.

That’s why I hope Dalton succeeds. If his service takes off the ground and holds to its ethical center of “people over profit (but a profit is needed)” then companies like his will take care of killing the parasitic companies and the sociopathic companies for us. So, while I haven’t backed the project yet. I will definitely earmark part of my budget for it, and help by telling people. I do the same for any company that “gets it,” such as duckduckgo.com: because face it, Google’s “‘do no evil’ mantra” has evolved into (as George Carlin would say) “pure bullshit.”

I am not against making money, but I think no company should ever place the basis of their revenue stream at odds with sound ethical practices. If their is ever a question, then obviously you are in the wrong business or talking to the wrong people. Advertising and marketing are usually at odds with maintaining honesty and privacy, and those are the areas I would never work in. For instance: What would I say if asked to develop a system to help people find information when they want it? “Great!” Develop a system to monitor what people are doing with this tool? “Fuck off.” Why? because it’s a basis of freedom, and the word “freedom” does not mean “We will monitor what you do, so only do what we want you to.”

So, yeah, I have $50–$100 for dalton because I value people who put their business practices inline with my concerns for privacy and ethical behavior. Do you? Ask yourself if you really do too. Are you concerned enough to pay someone for this so they can erode those that are paying the numbers with your health, safety and security as their poker chips?

A few days ago I was in a Costco and I came across a display of solar portable panels with a company representative giving demonstrations to whomever would stop long enough to speak to him. Me, being always curious about the current state of various technologies, stopped to speak with him. After discussing the power output per panel, how many it would take to power my laptop (4) and how the system worked, he asked what sort of engineer I am. I admitted to him I wasn’t an engineer (at least in the sense that he was thinking), but I knew a bit about pretty much anything with electrons running through it.

Last week, Dice’s Mark Feffer sent an email to me asking what my specialty is. Meanwhile, I have met at least 3 other people in the IT field this past week and a half. All of them eventually asked what my specialty is. The thing is, my specialty is actually the opposite of a specialist: I know most if not all of technology available, what is coming and what is possible now to integrate them. This allows me to do my job of recommending electronics and computer technology pretty well.

How do I do it? Read on to learn what resources I tap every time it is time to buy any electronics…

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A few times a week someone asks me about something related to computers or technology. I like answering the questions for several reasons, and I give advice for free for one very good reason.

First: I like answering because it’s an exercise for the brain. It makes me take all my knowledge and apply it to a specific instance with its own parameters and limitations. Second, if I do not know the answer off the top of my head, I am forced to find out by doing a quick search or two and reading what has been written by experts and people much more familiar with the matter. Thus, it expands my knowledge base.

The single “very good reason” for giving the advice free is simple: Having no vested interest in either selling them a product nor my services, I can give advice free of bias. I do admit my bias toward products I think work well, but I would imagine that would be a desirable bias. If I gravitate toward ease of use or advanced features I can adjust for the sophistication of the person asking. If a product has both ease of use chops and advanced features either buried or easily accessed, it makes my job easier. However, one of my first questions is: What is your budget? That let’s me know whether to recommend an open source application/hardware platform or a competent commercial application.

Either way, If the person is very technologically naïve can let them know if they’re on the right track, and steer them toward resources so that if and when they spend money or allocate resources, they can feel more confident doing so.

BTW Sis: the answer currently is a WD Live box… but that is subject to revision next product release cycle.

I just looked at my almost 1800 word opinion piece I submitted to draft status on Dice this morning, and I feel guilty that my editor will have to read it all and whittle it down to a more usable format. I am pretty sure my wanton dreaming of a new set of UI conventions: “STIG” will hit the cutting room floor. If that happens, look for it here next week.

Stay “tuned” for my thoughts on Touch User Interfaces. (link forthcoming…) My tentative title for it is “TouchUI & The Misunderstood Paradigm.” I think it’s catchy, but SEO might not. :) If you read my blog posts you already know where I stand, this is just more elaboration on how I would make a Touch User Interface, the “SOOMY Tao” Rule and how far we still have to go. In my humble opinion user interfaces have barely scratched the surface of what they could be.

Speaking on Phase 2.5: At some point I will probably write about a new yet old interface that recalls a toy of decades past, that just needs a bit of an update: some styling love and sophisticated circuitry running XLP hardware. It could probably by developed and sold for less than $100. It could also be discreetly embedded in discrete common products to whittle manufacturing costs down to just the chips, circuitry and sensors needed. If you actually included kinetic energy generation you could conceivably power the device primarily through movement. Yup more wanton dreaming… Inspired by SciFi Books and Childhood dreams of Asimov’s “Significantly Advanced Technology.”

UPDATE20120507: The Article has been split in two, and will be run soon.