That iPhone is Outmoded

Shout to Squagles!  Square Bagles!

The iPhone won’t make it to the future.  Sure it’s Apple’s cash cow right now but I see it going away in importance over the next couple of years.

Think about Apple current main product categories:

  1. smartphones (iPhone)
  2. tablets (iPad)
  3. wearables (watch/iPod/headphones)
  4. set-top boxes (AppleTV)
  5. macintosh laptops and desktops

All of those work together in the apple ecosystem. Assuming you have them hooked into your Apple account, they all work together, and can handoff all sorts of tasks between them. They continue to add iCloud features that make the lines blur more.

#2, 3, and 4 above will be the focus over the next 5 years. The smartphone will continue to become less important in the mix.  Several factors are leading to this.

  • There is almost nothing the iPhone does that is unique from the other devices. It did it first, it does it from your pocket/purse, but it’s not the only device to do those things anymore. You can call people, take pictures, stream, and do all of that from other devices now.
  • Over the last 8 years, competition has caught up to many of the physical iPhone specialties – thinness, glass quality, battery life, feature set.
  • Apple’s sweetheart deals with phone carriers which helped to launch the iPhone in it’s first 5 years are gone and not coming back. iPhone is an expensive rig no matter who you go through.
  • Automobiles and transit are beginning to roll out wifi services and built-in GPS
  • Everyone has a smartphone and you only need one max, if one at all.

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I see the mobile phone of the future going back to what it was originally used for in the 90’s – safety and vanity.

Safety is for the kids, the travelers, the person needing a lifeline no matter where they wander or work. The rest of us are on wifi 95% of our day and don’t need a cell radio at all.

Vanity is for the rich, the teens, the geeks, to impress us with an I don’t need wifi stance.

Perhaps security can be in here too, but it’s really hard to predict the future there. I can imagine a private cell network being more secure than a public wifi spot but there are many variables there.


We will all have tablets for the next 50 years, but the tiny pocket tablet is going away in importance soon. The wearable watch or badge or wallet will contain our cell radio (if needed at all) and all of the other devices already have wifi and location awareness.

Screen size is critical here. Walls will be screens wherever you can project onto them, so perhaps the iPhone has a future life as a pocket projector?


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The design model for the future iPhone. If this thing had a cell radio, wifi, iOS, and a projector that could turn anything in front of you into a display….. well there ya go. Goodbye iPhone, hello iPin.


I guess it comes down to the iPin. This baby will have all of the iPhone’s location and connectivity features without that tiny glass screen in your pocket. If it can’t project to or take over screens in your vicinity then it will operate with voice or hand gestures.

I better get to go on a star ship. Maybe that’s why Apple cancelled the car project…?

[Squagles starts at 3:24]

Humanity Becoming Pixelated

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Oh the humanity of a hand puppet, fake blood, and animal entrails.


The tech takeover is something we’ve been watching for decades now, and with regards to audio production and socializing I get preachy about how much we’ve lost.

Here’s a great article sowing the same seeds but covering the movie industry. By inundating us with CGI the overall effect of images being shown to us has declined.

Pixels Are Driving Out Reality

Well written stuff there, and much of it translates to audio/music consumption as well.

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The Logical End of Social Media

Tribalism based on opinion and politics. It’s inevitable.

It could abolish the economy. It could crush the democracy. It could trample on the constitution and bill of rights.

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30 years ago I was fascinated by the internet and what it could bring. A new age of enlightenment. I studied and dreamed.

20 years ago I was in the middle of it, working at a dotcom advertising agency, building the groundwork for it.

About 10 years ago I decided I didn’t want to keep playing this game with my personal profile. I’ve been online all day and most nights for 20+ years now, so I figured if my actual name was posting things about all of my interests both work and privately, well, my privacy had no way of surviving. Anyone in the future could search and learn every single thing about me without ever meeting me. This was unsettling, so even though I continued to use services I had to, I try to use aliases and anonymous services when possible, and still have never had a Facebook account.

For the last 10 years I’ve been watching Facebook, Instagram, Google, Xbox, even Apple gobble up every single datapoint they can about their users. They get plenty from me even after efforts to minimize it.

So where’s it all going?

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Analytics. Refined data at our fingertips. All to be an informed consumer, right? How much will you pay for that information?

This is big data + the cloud + commercial interests + human vanity and fear. This is our future.

Who just posted a comment? Who just read my post? Who are they? What do they like? What do they own? — We’re here already, especially if you are in advertising or know how to dig.

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Next step – I want to buy something. Show me the stores nearby. Now filter to the stores locally owned. Or only certain types of neighborhoods. Or with ownership of a certain ethnicity.

Next step — [after filter to local owned] – none found. OK show corporate stores nearby that donate to a certain political cause or party.

Next step — I need a contractor. Search by political affiliation and ethnicity.


This is why people don’t put their Facebook name on Craigslist.


The logical end of this tech, once the weak privacy and fairness laws are obliterated, is total knowledge of all affiliations, history, likes and dislikes of every single person and corporate entity you encounter in your day.

pfft

Unless we are all batshit crazy before then and never make it….

Music Hoarding Future

OK I’m doing some serious internet-style scientific research (aka asking friends) on the future of buying music, discussed in this post. Here’s a few ideas so far on the future of music product packaging:

Idea 1-  The “All of the Above” set — for $40 you buy the release and receive a vinyl record, a CD, and download codes for both HD and MP3 digital files. Nothing new here but it’s a nice spread of the existing formats and gives you redundancy and multiple formats for different locations, loaning out, etc..

Idea 2-  The “21st Century” set — for $30 you buy the release and receive a Blu-Ray disc and also download codes for all of the content. The disc contains the stereo mixes and 5.1 mixes (if available), and plays in a standard BluRay setup. The data portion of the disc contains the HD and MP3 versions of the stereo mix. The download codes are for those without a BluRay drive in their computer. This gives you a new format (5.1) and doesn’t include any vinyl or CD’s. The entire thing can also be sold w/o a disc (dl only) for $20.

Idea 3- The “Sponsor/Crowdfund” system — this isn’t a product per say, but a new twist on an ancient system for funding music. For maybe $100 you become a sponsor/superfan/investor/subscriber for the artist for a period of time, maybe 2 years. In that timeframe you receive a few things: their new musical output for nearly free (maybe just cost of materials and shipping, or free online); free tickets to any of their shows in your region (you will drink alot that night and the venue will make money); some usual fan club stuff like stickers, swag, and behind the scenes stuff, and a more personal relationship with the artist.

An artist would have fans that were invested in their art and it’s output, and the fans just wouldn’t renew if they weren’t feeling the value of that relationship. 10k facebook likes could be 1 million dollars, which would fund many mid-sized artists for 2 years and cover the shipped product, and doing 25 shows around the country has the potential for 400 fans per gig before you even show up.  Those people bring friends, the place is packed, everyone makes some money, and music lives on (and everyone gets laid that night :-)).

Also, because you want them to succeed and make more music for you before your subscription expires, the artist is invigorated by this direct correlation between output and revenue and the fans demand excellence. A really amazing release where the artist pushes farther and better than before would up their capital immediately. Lazy and misguided artists would find their capital dwindling.

 

Each of these have pros and cons but I thought it would be fun to start thinking about such things.

 

Human Touches Computer, Computer Reacts

We all see pictures & commercials about smartphones. Some of us read specs and/or post opinions on the internet about the phone market. But very few study how we interact with the machine. People studying human-human interaction probably outnumber people studying human-machine interaction 1000:1.

Right now in the “smartwatch” (or wearable, or wrist computer) market there are 2 early interface models: Google’s Android Wear and the subset of iOS running on Apple Watch. Google went with very simple displays and relies on a combination of touch and voice to operate, for a total of 2 input methods. Apple took a more ambitious path by giving their Watch 2 more input methods: haptic (movements/touch+) & scroll/click using the wind dial, which Apple is calling the “digital crown”.

I don’t agree with this concept that Google’s simplified Wear interface is better than Apple’s upcoming WatchOS. My bet is on Apple using past experience and marketplace victories to develop a more cohesive, useful, and friendly wrist interface.

Apple Watch combines scroll/click, single home button, & multi-level touch gestures – three input methods perfected by Apple over the last 15 years and accepted by millions of users of all ages and types. To that they’ve added Voice control and Haptic input (rolls, shakes, vibrates). It will be interesting to see how much the user can do with each method.

Apple Watch OS input methods:
Input method 1 – Scroll & Click Dial
Input method 2 – Multitouch screen with 2-layer clicking
Input method 3 – Haptic (movement like shake or turns)
Input method 4 – Voice, interacting with Siri

Some mixing will be required for total operation, but will the user be able to pick an input method that suits them at that moment and use it for their entire task? The perfect UI would have all of those options completed, or at least have 1-2 input methods that allow you to control the entire device without relying on other methods.

Some example task chains:
Task1 – control Apple TV
Task2 – read and reply to a message or email
Task3 – read and interact with twitter feed and facebook timeline
Task4 – google something that leads to directions
Task5 – view calendar, accept invitation to meeting then get directions
Task6 – monitor your workout and sync workout data to your running totals
If the user needs to mode-change between the input methods to accomplish these types of tasks it could be clumsy, or worse, unusable. Imagine having to touch the screen, then scroll the dial, then touch the screen again, then click the dial button to get something done. No thanks.

To achieve pain-free human-computer interaction requires the software and hardware working together to make task completion simple and stable. This is Apple’s specialty and they will keep their methods a secret until it ships so we will just have to drive it ourselves in a few months to answer the usability questions. I bet they are deciding some of those things now, and the WatchKit API they announced is incomplete at this point.

Battling screen size limitations (about the size of a fingertip), 1 hand operation, plus major battery and space limitations is making designers on this new platform cut corners. The google watches look like beta’s to me, and Apple’s watch looks very version 1.

Look back at iPod version 1 and iPhone version 1 for the model. Apple is following their script perfectly. That watch platform will probably get more updates in the first year than AppleTV has gotten in 5 years.

IMHO The smart watch could be the 21st century object of choice if it’s designed properly. We have predicted it coming for decades. A phone is still just a phone, and a tablet is great but it’s basically a digital book which is different than your personal sensor array on your body.

This could become our communicator pin, and it will become our safety net, our recorder of choice, our interface to the cloud when not in front of a large screen.

I think the concept of a “phone” on every person is long in the tooth. Robot calls, telemarketers & bill collectors that don’t really want to be paid are on the phone lines. Business is more and more done over text, email, facebook, maybe with a quick voice confirmation that VoIP can handle.

BTW — do Google watches really only have touch & voice for input? Touch is nearly useless when the screen is the size of your pointer. I would think the dial would get the most use. I wonder if Apple’s dial will accept 2 types of clicks, like a select click and then the home click? I don’t want to talk to my watch and I don’t want to have to move my finger out of the way every time to read something to click. That’s crazy if that’s how they work, i’ll have to watch some demos of the android watches.

iPhone as Medical Tricorder

The future is all around us. Our cars will probably never fly, but man we are getting some interesting tech in the last 5 years, driven largely by the worldwide adoption of iOS devices loaded with sensors and the software framework to exploit those scanners. Apple themselves are about to push their “HealthKit”, an API (application programming interface) to access and share health data as collected and processed by the iOS device.

The interesting twist isn’t on the tech side, it’s on the business side. But before delving into that, can you imagine the various advantages to tracking your body health datapoints in real time – how is your sleep this week, your protein intake, your blood sugar, your physical activity? I think we all inherently understand alcohol hangovers, but most of us don’t further tie our moods to our diet & physical health. If my device monitored 5-10 daily levels and I was really having a shitty day, I’d be curious to know what that looked like to avoid it in the future. Think sugar crashes, how much spicy food, hours sitting, lactose intolerance, miles pedaled, acid reflux, body fat, and more serious stuff like peanut allergies, HIV, and other human issues that some of us must manage.

The twist is that Apple, flush with money and influence, is trying to modernize the health insurance market in the US by working with major health providers and insurers. They have made key hires from that industry and have been working for years laying the groundwork. The end result being that HealthKit apps might actually share data with your healthcare providers, allowing them more accuracy, efficiency and hopefully better care.

If you are outside of America, this must be obvious. Who needs your health data more than your doctor? But in the states nothing medical is shared. Everyone has a data silo (which translates into a revenue source), backed up by a federally enforced rule known as HIPAA, and the patient is left to suffer. Yes, we often receive decent care and plenty of scans by expensive cameras, but it comes at a HUGE personal cost, much frustration, and there are many cases of misdiagnosis because of the lack of data sharing.

Apple knows “the iPod model” will keep working – make a device easy and portable enough, add features that actually work at a core level (not marketing me-too fluff like samsung), market it properly, and watch the thing take off. This healthkit thing, if done right, will make our iOS devices our medical iPods, and perhaps the waiting room dance will become as easy as checking into a flight with your iPhone.

I think we are about to get alot more physical with our phones, which is why I think I want a wrist iPhone instead of a pocket iPhone.

Now we can all scan B’Lana. I know I was scanning up and down back then. Hottest Klingon?

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Your Password Or Your Soul

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Will there be life after passwords? We are currently drowning in them – some more than others. A fella like me might need to enter 50 different passwords of increasing complexity just to get by a week in 2014.

It’s a growing problem because hackers and their security breaches, accompanied by the illegal market for passwords farmed from cracking programs, has made it difficult to stay secure, even with such complex passwords. Putting spaces in them helps but it’s not really simplifying anything.

So what to do about it? Is there a world in which we can live with all the technology minus all the passwords? DARPA (the peeps who started the internet 40+ years ago) is working on it, and their studies are fascinating. Here’s some potential replacements for the password (aka “user authentication”):

  • Your heartbeat vibrations, as recorded by your phone
  • The way you respond to error and system messages (a personality test)
  • How your hand shakes as you hold it. Grandpa method.
  • How you write texts and emails, based on slang and favorite phrases.
  • The “visual fingerprint”: both camera inputs and the screen activity on the phone. The phone needs to see daddy (or his pocket) to turn on!
  • How you walk (your gate) as recorded by your phone over time. Walk to unlock?

Read about these programs here.

This is pretty amazing tech, with many of these methods already working on modern phones using no added hardware.

But the flip side as I see it at first blush: we are giving up our anonymity even more, giving that much more power to the machines. If my phone needed to know it was me to use it, no matter what, while that is secure it just isn’t practical. A spouse, business partner, tech support, small business, children and friends are all potential password sharing situations.

If we have to prove we are allowed into the machine beyond ways that we are able to share through human methods, then we have lost that much more control over the machine world.

But yay! The future sure will be fun! If my machine must know it’s me for security purposes, it will know it’s me for other less critical purposes.

 

HUD FUD

Heads Up Displays: Fear Uncertainty & Doubt. Seems as though the future is here now, and it kinda sucks.

We have predicted in-eye HUD’s for decades now. But it was for fiction and hollywood visuals, not day to day life. Regular people simply don’t need a data stream in their eye, we already have it at our touch and it can thankfully be put away.

Does anyone really want HUD’s on them while they work? Lack of concentration is our biggest problem and this is another distraction.

Unless these HUD displays were really giving us interactive and visually clear assistance, why not a poster, a tablet, an HD monitor, a book, or (gasp!) your memory to assist you?

I see a small yet critical market like Linemen and people working at high/dangerous locations, using specially built vertical-apps in their HUD, not wikipedia or google. Climbing all the way up there to be greeted with a surprising part # would lead them to wanting the proper schematic and not having a free hand to click and call up the information.

I also see law enforcement loving this – here’s comes big brother officer, able to “run you” (not just your plates) using facial recognition. This has positives of course, depending on who is the good guy and bad guy at that moment. Cops will become walking video cameras, ID’ing and storing every human interaction they have. Robocops soon thereafter.

All hail the wise ones, our robot masters.

Is This The iPhone Replacement?

Another good iWatch story, talking rumors and potential developments. Here’s my previous thoughts on it from last year.

I think the golden era for the smart phone is dwindling. They will probably never go away but (given skype, facetime, google hangouts, webex, join.me, etc.) phones have already stopped being the only/best way to voice communicate with people.

Aple iWatch concept

Now that’s a watch I’d wear proudly. I want my pocket back! Hey Rosie, why aren’t you picking up? I want my Funk.

If Apple gets even 50% of the existing iPhone functionality into a watch I’ll be a customer. I want my pocket back. All of these new features that an iWatch might do are just extra. I’d love to have a heart monitor, workout computer, and bike computer on my wrist at all times. I’d love a small shock or silent vibration to notify my inner wrist. I’d love to be able to do basic button controls on the face and use voice to handle large text entry. Hopefully they also make some slick, nearly hidden bluetooth headset.

I actually could see apple going more sci-fi and not calling it a watch at all. They could be working to “reinvent” the watch, much like they reinvented the PC, the walkman, the smartphone, and the tablet computer. It is becoming much more of a Star-Trek like communicator and tri-corder than a phone or watch.

1980's Star Trek communicator badge

“I wonder if I can click this thing and get out of here without those guys seeing?”

The Star Trek “Communicator Badge” responded to voice control and acted as a general health and location monitor. The iWatch would do all of that and more. Come to think of it, the current iPhone is becoming more and more like the Star Trek “tri-corder” from the 80’s, which gave it’s user a strong sensor and visual array to supply data readouts needed for space crew people – structural, gravitational, air-quality, language translation, and ambient readings.

Since we aren’t on a spaceship meeting alien races we don’t require some of those, but many of them are available from the internet with a properly configured smartphone. Trek had great technology, but they didn’t have GoogleMaps, WeatherUnderground, Wikipedia, Foursquare, Twitter, Youtube, Skype, and Flash bootleg sites. Their versions appeared to be closed and military-based (supplied by the institution and programmed by the institution). So much of our data is open-source or crowd-sourced, and ad-supported. But it’s there and in 2014 we are finally getting close to sci-fi of the 1980’s.

Uglier than Androids!

Tri-corder models for many purposes. Not much uglier than non-Apple phones.

Facebook Is Also Tracking What You Don’t Do

It’s kind of obvious at this point that Facebook is storing, packaging, and selling every bit of data you give them while you use their “free service” to connect with your family, friends, and whatever.

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I think most people get this and many don’t care. I personally think it’s a very dangerous precedent to allow someone else to profit off your private business, especially since they will continually sell you out to new and interesting ways to exploit you. That cost to my entire future life is not worth the “service” that Facebook offers.

But now it’s really getting interesting. Facebook is leading the study of collecting and analyzing what you don’t do. See, non-actions are actions in the Facebook world, and once they started profiting off your posts they can’t keep that addiction going (and profits up) if you don’t post more and more. You need to feed the beast, there’s lots of shareholders out there.

But now the beast is watching who you don’t reply to, who you don’t friend, where you lurk, how long you stay, and most creepily – what you don’t submit!

If you type into a form text box anywhere on Facebook and don’t hit submit, close your browser, or let it sit there, Facebook has already read it. And they are giving those messages more priority in a creepy “we know what you are really thinking” way.

If you use Facebook to login to other sites, guess what – they aren’t commenting on whether they can track your non-activities on external sites. Since we know they are tracking views and clicks and how it all connects to your ‘social graph’ (your Facebook account), I’m pretty sure they can build that out soon enough.

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Also, don’t forget that Facebook’s software is constantly building your political profile, not to mention you other hobbies, interests, and opinions. Police are making arrests through Facebook, employers are running Facebook-based “background checks”, and soon enough you’ll be able to get a full workup of someone’s entire digital profile just by ID’ing them. Straight stalker style. Weird future times, indeed.

Big Dumb Droids

Those giant Android tab-phone things with the super bright low-res screens are pretty annoying. Everyone thinks they are the UPS guy walking around with those plastic monsters.

Choice is good, so I don’t want everyone with the same kind of phone. But I laugh when I see those monstrous boxes full of half-working software and average hardware. They aren’t quite as ridiculous as the ‘convertible’ laptops that want to be tablets, but they are close.

In the states people get these droid phones for almost nothing, and spend most of their time trying to figure out how android works (or what android is) and where their data just went. They break often and get a new one of a different brand and start over. Droids are the new wannabe phone, with Droid users often seeking approval or even adoration from iPhone folks. It’s 24/7 tech support and staring at that giant thing, no slipping it in a pocket.

Usage style/case is my sticking point. A “phone” is a portable communication device, usually pocketable or in a purse. It is designed specifically to be used while in motion – standing, driving, etc.. You can pack a lot of features in there these days, but holding one to your ear and comfortably talking should be the primary one.

A tablet is a portable screen that can do most/all of what a smart phone can, plus a screen that’s just big enough to make it a usable from 5-15 feet away. Those of us with good tablets (iPads) know that they get used in every room of the house to bring internet, gaming, newspapers, ebooks, email, etc. to wherever you happen to be resting in the house. Mine does probably 100 things a day, some pretty important.

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Apple went down this route and has been very successful – a phone is for your pocket/purse and your viewing only, a tablet is book-sized, displays, and travels. A laptop/desktop is for production or power-user work. These are 3 usage cases.

I think Apple might stick with 3 modes, but I think the iWatch could take the slot from the iPhone if they can get enough battery life out of it. The days of a private viewing slab that lives in your pocket might be ending. If the watch device holds the cell radio, using wifi or bluetooth it could go back to being the personal communicator device, and the iPad mini or biggie becomes your screen for general purpose use. Hopefully Apple people won’t put iPad minis to their ear and look nearly as stupid as giant droids.

More on these ideas later.

ACLU Study Says Police Cameras Create Database of Our Movements

Ah great:

ACLU Study Says Police Cameras Create Database of Our Movements – Slashdot.

The Cops Are Tracking My Car and Yours – Ars Technica.

I always wanted to see someone (else!) do an experiment with the traffic cameras: go stand in the view of one, smile for the camera, pull out something illegal and use it, and then walk away. Perhaps to somewhere close by.


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Would police come investigating? How soon? Would someone attempt to ID you in the video? Would they be able to pursue you and arrest you for the crime? Is there an expiration time (statute of limitations)? Does it matter that you are not on the road or in a vehicle?

I know these laws would be different from country to country, and I assume even from state to state or city to city. This bears watching, because once they hook the police, facebook, google, and “security” camera databases together we are definitely dealing with Big Brother.

Pippin 1996 Time Machine

17 years ago Apple tried to combine a computer and a video game for the living room. It sold nearly 0 copies although it was an interesting attempt. Check out the early tour of the machine:

Check out the full web browser for the TV. We still don’t have this worked out with 2013’s Apple TV/Roku type device. Supposedly the thing printed too!

I think Apple’s going back to the living room next, with a new AppleTV product that runs apps (games) and browses the web, in addition to it’s current media streaming features. There’s just a few tweeks needed to iOS to make it an amazing wall/surface display, and every screen you have in your house that has an AppleTV box hooked to it will become your iOS interface.


Pippinfront

Does It Talk?

Mac Pro

I want one and so does the rest of the family.

The new Mac Pro has been teased. It’s been nearly 10 years since they’ve come out with a new case for their most powerful workstation, and they didn’t disappoint with the design elements on this one. Whether this spinning cylinder is the future of workstations or the re-hash of the low-selling G4 Cube, time will tell.

I know they are cramming that little R2D2 looking thing with alot of horsepower: Up to 12 processor cores, dual GPU’s, Fast SSD, lots of ram, thunderbird 1 and 2 connectors, and all burning under 1 fan. Most builders don’t put that much heat in such a small case, but this is Apple and the thing is designed like a little turbine.

Personally I would like to see the design be more rack-friendly. This is definitely a desktop machine, whereas audio studios would like to rack mount the thing for safety and security. But this looks pretty bad-ass, can’t wait to see it in action this fall. Check out Apple’s site for more teasing.

Happy 30th Internet!

Happy belated 30th birthday to the modern internet!

In 1982, Vint Cerf and his team at ARPANET had a problem. They had roughly 1,000 servers spread around america trying to network with each other. The addressing and networking protocols they were using were failing at that scale. So they set out (with US Department of Defense funding) to develop a far more robust protocol.

Their new system was called TCP/IP and it’s the core of the internet to this day. They installed it and turned it all on January 1, 1983. Now the network could scale, and it grew quickly through the 80’s.

By 1989 a professor named Tim Berners-Lee was finishing up his design on the http hypertext protocol so he could share his editable research notes with colleagues overseas. This became the www by the early 90’s and we haven’t looked back since.

30 years of internet and look how far we’ve come. Try to imagine the internet in 2043!

Robots and Shredded Books

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That and more are predicted for the year 2000 in a fascinating postcard set illustrated around 1900. French culture at the time was intrigued by science fiction and futurism, so a company commissioned a few artists to draw 100 years into the future. Funny thing is – the postcard set was not released until it’s discovery a few years after 2000.

Check it out for yourself. Some cards are very close to our current tech (in concept if not method), while others are still literal flights of fancy. Fun stuff either way.

I would like to see the set of illustrations being drawn these days showing us what 2100 will look like. My usual future-predicting-skills top out at about a 30 year range.

I Support Pono

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Neil getting full balanced goodness into his ears

I love this idea.

Neil Young finally got his wish to attempt to restore audio fidelity to our lives. They are calling the thing Pono and most of the press reports on it present it as a battle with Apple’s iTunes world (which is currently living on the 256k mp4 format).

But most modern ears miss the real battle Young is waging – Continue reading

In The Future There Will Be Quiet Riots

Aw yeah get your 1985 hairspray out, I’m going on a cheese binge! These guys were the best hair metal band of all time, great musicians, decent songs, good sense of humor…


I think since the lead singer Kevin Dubrow passed a couple years back, and more and more cover bands try their hand at these songs, people are discovering that underneath alot of the goofiness of the 80’s there were some decent bands and vocalists working. Not a ton, but some.

Surface Thoughts

Lots of discussion around about the new tablet coming out from Microsoft. They are calling it the Surface and while competing with the iPad, they are taking a fundamentally different approach to the device.

Philosophically, MS has shown their usual penchant for completely missing the point. Anyone who has enjoyed using an iPad, especially lately, should find the Surface confusing and clunky. Anyone who has avoided the iPad and calls tablets toys to discount their use will probably be surprised at how ackward both the hardware and software is on the Surface. Here’s why:
Continue reading

Facebook and the Rise of the Idiots

Snark. Smart ass. Quick. Whoa. Fail.


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Anyone who runs their personal life through facebook is kind of an idiot. Break the grip of the snarky randomness! Try actual content and contact again. Keep your business private! Pick up your damn phone!

Come on America it’s getting pretty weird out there. We invented the internet and now some of us are overdosing on it.

Mobile Crystal Ball

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OK, quick hit, how I see the next 2 years playing out in the critical mobile OS area:

Microsoft buys or otherwise takes over Research In Motion and quickly picks up corporate market share by building a direct bridge from Blackberry to Windows Phone 8. Consumer use of Win8 still lags overall by usual Microsoft standards but they turn around this backslide of the last few years with solidly designed products. First Surface tablet is deeply flawed but gets some things right, and gets their toe in the tablet space.

Apple holds their ground. iOS is up to version 7 and unless your politically against Apple, is the standard-bearer in both design, app development, and the ever important PROFIT per app and per phone. The AppleTV grows to be a new voice/arrow controlled interface into iOS and your personal apps, running on every big screen in your possession if you are an Apple person. Apple people will continue to buy any and all Apple products and being in someone’s presence, and especially residence, will make it clear if they are ‘Apple people’ or not, sort of like religious or being into a particular cause or lifestyle.


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Google continues to stumble with Android except in the area of total units shipped. Basically every free phone in existence runs some variation of Android, and there are thousands of variations by then. Google doesn’t care much because it profits off the chaos. Remember all those Android users and developers needing to google how to upgrade their phone or how to troubleshoot. Android is the new Windows95 – no one likes it but it’s everywhere. The real winner here is Linux, as the nerds continually take (back) over the Android world.

Don’t see any newbies making major moves. There’s always the game systems but game systems are game systems. If you run your life through a game system I don’t think you have lots of recurring income.

If we agree that market share in the US today is 40-30-15-5 Apple-Android-Blackberry-Windows, I can see a market in the US as 45-20-35 Apple-Android-Windows

On The Surface

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On the surface the new Microsoft tablet announcement is intriguing. Called “Surface”, it’s going to be made by Microsoft (like Zune and XBox), runs Windows 8, comes with a built in film-keyboard cover and kickstand, and has a standard USB port. Like iPad it runs on ARM chips and has a multi-touch screen. It’s not plastic and doesn’t look that bad, but still not as slick and durable looking as Apple’s finest.

Digging deeper into the announcement starts posing questions, however,? Continue reading

My First Apple Prediction

Ya right, but it is one of my first published. Just off the top of my head, I’ll post my announcement prediction before they get to announcin’:

  1. iOS 6 will ship this summer. New features include Apple-built mapping with some industry-leading bells and whistles, extensive AirPlay integration with everything Apple, a new iPod music app, more Siri integration with other databases (both local and network), new iLife iOS apps with some whiz-bang features, and something on the digital wallet front so we can pay for things with our iPhones.
  2. OS X Mountain Lion is ahead of schedule and shipping soon, digitally only. Those of us on Snow Leopard will be screwed again. It’s getting harder and harder to use professional software on the Mac because Apple is forcing your hand on software upgrades and the developers make the user pay. But most of us will upgrade anyway because Apple is still 10x better than the alternatives.
  3. Apple TV is real and it’s a compelling product. It’s basically a big screen TV running iOS through the TV and voice interface (as opposed to the touch interface). This screen can do everything the current AppleTV and Roku products can do, such as stream HD from hundreds of sources served through a ‘Channel Store’ / ‘App Store’.But it can do so much more: go full-screen using voice control on your personal database apps like Address Book and iCal; run iOS apps that list information such as recipes and study guides, display iBooks interactively, query the web using Siri, browse with a TV-friendly Safari, play your movies, photo slideshows, and even Youtube, and yes, play real iOS games adapted for the TV interface. Basically a 6 foot wide iPad you talk to (or use the remote when you are sick of yelling at the wall) – most Apple users will start saving for one immediately.The killer feature of the iScreen might be buried though – it features a universal video search much like the current iOS does left of the Home screen. This search will be the google of video, both live and archived, both privately owned and publicly shared. For example – type your favorite band name into this thing and you will see every TV appearance, every DVD, every Youtube bootleg, every film appearance, every MTV and VEVO video, even if they are going to be on HBO or NBC this week – basically every instance of video past, present, and future on the subject.So this thing will hang on your wall, possibly not replacing your current TV, but forming a new place in the house – like the kitchen or dining room, a home office, even over the mantle. Wherever it is you can talk to it or remote control it. Yes the future is now – walk into your house, say what you are thinking, and up comes a screen full of every type of video imaginable on the subject. Say “next” or “back” to select, “play” to load, and “pause” to go grab a drink. While watching a movie and you forgot to check something: “pause movie, go to web, my blog, resume movie”. My favorite – live playlist creating: while playing a song in the music app “create playlist, add all 2MERICA, save as Ego Trip” and so on.Nothing like this has been done before and I really don’t know how Apple would get access to all of that data, but this is just what I feel they are working on.

That’s it. I’ll have to tune in in 24 hours to see how?prescient?I am.

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Facebook Sees The Shark

I have been observing the growth of Facebook in the social space for years now, and after growing more and more frustrated at the ‘facebook effect’ taking place online I’ve decided to start posting about it. My fear is that facebook will become the defacto internet login ID which will cause your entire online self and your privacy to be tracked and sold to the highest bidder.
Continue reading

Sandbots!

Imagine if each tiny little block of something was actually a smart object (meaning it has a CPU, input & output), and that these blocks worked as a group to reposition themselves. Sort of like lego’s that build themselves. Cool huh? Real.

Granted these things are not sand sized yet, with some serious miniaturization still needing to take place, but the fun work of the low-level system logic and control design is underway.

The idea is much like a replicator on Star Trek, in that you could provide this system with a 3D item to scan (or a wireframe image of one) and it would send the design to the sandbots. The software in the sandbots would work to position and lock themselves into place, ultimately creating a reasonable facsimile of the object’s shape.


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Stop Using Facebook To Login To Other Sites

If you love or hate Facebook, never visit or live on it – that’s fine by me. Waste your time however you see fit. But please don’t contribute to Facebook ruining the internet as I know it. Using a Facebook login to access other sites is a huge security risk. Big surprise, huh? (same thing with Google+ and other shared-login concepts).

Not only can your private information get stolen by unknown 3rd party ‘advertising’ companies (something you probably don’t care about if you are using Facebook in the first place), but from my perspective, it’s much bigger than that. The issue is not about your indivdual Facebook security, it’s about Facebook’s attempt to become the defacto ‘internet ID’ that we all need to use the world’s information networks.

Some of you might be fine using one profile tied directly to your legal name, your family, your job, and your life as you surf around the world wide web, but this is not how the system was designed and not how it grew to such prominence. Anonymity, or at least misdirection, is an important part of information sharing on the internet.

The only way to stop a bandwagon is to jump off it. It might still crash and burn down the road with some riders, but you’ll be safe and sound with just small scratches.

So don’t use your Facebook login to interact with other sites. Doing so will ultimately kill the original purpose of the internet and turn the whole thing into a big, even less secure, Facebook. Not to mention all of your posts, likes, and views during all of your browsing exploits — even that one night where you drank that whole bottle! — will be available for future employers to review. Think about it.

A single internet ID, controlled by anyone (Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) ?will kill the internet. Do not kill the internet.

An Update On The Human-Robot Competition

Hello humans. I have two items I’d like to brief you about. As always – be vigilant. Robots are not to be trusted.

The Squishy Robot has no skeleton and can crawl (shimmy?) underneath small spaces.

Then there’s this scary monster that can solve Rubik’s Cube in 5 seconds, using a smart phone as it’s processor and a bunch of specialized arms.

Perhaps we get these two together for a robot night out and make a baby bot that would crawl under the bed and solve the puzzles it finds?

Data Mining Your Past, Present, & Future

Lots of privacy-politics news lately: First off our good buddies at Facebook want even more information, and will happily put it on a timeline and sell it to the highest bidder for you.


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If you find this a little ‘big-brother’ish, imagine if your car’s position and status were constantly tracked and sent to the federal government computers, then sold to outside parties.

This is what is happening now in the US when driving a GM with OnStar. In the name of safety you are being tracked even if you cancel the service, and by tracked I mean having your entire positioning and speed history stored in a permanent database and sold to the highest bidder.

The government connection? GM is currently owned by the US Government as a result of the bailout a few years back.

The Microsoft Copy Machine

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I’ve been following the Windows8/Metro debut online and it struck me that this is one of the largest examples of Microsoft being a “me-too” type of company I’ve seen in a while, complete with a fatal flaw in their copied version. My rambling thoughts:

First, the basics (if you haven’t watched the previews yourself): Windows 8 is coming, perhaps by the end of 2012. Unlike Apple, MS likes to show things off way before they are finished, and they are focusing on previewing their new touch-based Windows shell called “Metro”. I call it a shell because it runs inside of/on top of traditional windows and doesn’t appear to have it’s own boot routine, networking, filesystem, security, or hardware driver layer. Those sorts of things appear to still be handled by Windows. Of course it has a snazzy modern-looking interface and can be touch manipulated. Like Apple’s industry-leading iOS, it also has a curated application environment (aka a company AppStore). Continue reading

Touch the Music

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Here’s a nice overview article on some of the tech that’s changing music making, particularly the iPad. As someone who’s produced several tracks with just a laptop, an interface, a mic, and a midi board, this is a big change. 8 years ago when I would show up with the above parts some people didn’t believe I could do quality remote tracking with so few items. The iPad with a few good apps and the right cords ends up replacing a few more pieces. Continue reading

The Self-Powered Future

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Self-powering feels good. Sustainability feels good. It’s not always easy or even cheaper, but it does feel good to *not* waste. I get that buzz when I ride my bike. People who farm/garden/build their natural environment feel it. I’ve never seen a lazy person on a bike or someone needing instant gratification growing flowers or vegetables.

Surrounded by electronic gadgets, pervasive internet, and 18-hour on-call workdays makes finding a few minutes to accomplish something with just your hands/body critical. Some of the most amazing programmers I’ve known were very physical at something beyond typing. Your body and mind are far more connected than couch surfers care to admit.

So here ya go iPads and Androids — soon you will be able to charge while you walk! That nice rubbery bounce you get when you pivot your poundage can now generate a small electrical current, and the designers just patented the idea and are working to design the first shoe that gives you an electrical charge just for walking in it!

There’s no such thing as free energy, we know that. But every time you move you are directing energy, so good call on capturing some of that energy used to pop back into our gadgets. This goes up there with wave power in my mind as an excellent future power source.

Progress, Washington, Same Sentence

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Obama just did this: More than doubled the required average fleet MPG by 2025 for US automakers.

Lots of info there —basically each car company has a range of vehicles. Those vehicles all have a miles per gallon score. The entire company’s fleet then has an average MPG. The federal government requires the average to hit a target, and this is how they press for innovation. This is the regulation that republicans dread.

Our past oil loving presidents held the required average in the 20’s, leaving the market stagnant (way more SUV’s sold than Prius’). Obama has now ratcheted up the standard twice since taking office. Automakers will have from 2012-2017 to meet the first set of standards, then 2017-2025 to reach this 56 MPG average. This might actually bring us a cleaner future, with SUV’s getting 40 MPG and the rest of us getting 80+. Nice.

Note that this is for passenger cars and SUV’s – pickup trucks (even light trucks) are not exempt but do have lower standards to meet.

Of course, GM and Chrysler are on board since they are still taking marching orders from Washington, but Ford, Honda, and Hyundai are reported to be supportive as well.

Don’t let the news whores fool you – good work is getting done in Washington by this administration. Progressive, intelligent, actual strategic work is getting done, as opposed to the flashy, ignorant, sound-bite politics of the last administration. Don’t be fooled by marketing and lowest common denominator politics when it comes time to vote.

Crawling Into the 21st Century

The old industrial city where I was born hit it’s industrial peak anywhere from 40 to 100 years ago, depending on who you ask and how you count.

Regardless, it’s been a while since this place has cracked the Top 15 amongst US cities in any categories considered economic growth. But it’s a cheap place to live, the weather is as amazingly varied as anywhere on the planet, and the residents have lots of culture, parks, and choice of neighborhood style (at least for an American city).

Here’s a time-lapse video of the big research university in town putting up it’s 1st wind turbine on campus:

This one is actually the 3rd in town (there’s one at?The Great Lakes Science Center and one owned by a private business) but this turbine is symbolic because this university could be the hub of renewable energy R&D in this part of the country, and is one of the forces behind getting the first wind farm on the US Great Lakes – the Lake Erie Wind Farm being designed off the shores of Cleveland.

Pretty cool stuff! This is all over northern europe but those governments are far more progressive (and government-controlled) than the good ole usa. At least we are trying to move forward. I know that Cleveland knows it can’t go back to manufacturing steel parts for the half of the world, but we do have the infrastructure to build whatever we choose.

Why iRight on iPad

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I said “Wow those things are gonna be everywhere”, and just a year later I think about half of my extended family has one. And these are people who are not necessarily mac people, some not even technology people in general. I’m amazed. Sadly, still not a shareholder.

The Android verse iOS battle is good theater and good for the industry, so I keep tabs on it and occasionally argue with my geek friends. But the debate that gets me annoyed enough to post up here is the one about tablets in general.

You may have noticed that some people on the nets still see tablets as a fad, nothing more than the latest toy. Statistics and their own eyes tell them otherwise, but I’m old enough to remember when GUI’s were for toys, when color was for toys, and when plug-and-play was for toys.

So to these latest skeptics I present my “Why the iPad* is better than your non-tablet computing device” test:

1. Stand up. Stretch.

2. That’s it. If you are still reading this you are uncomfortably leaning over your non-tablet, or comfortably holding your tablet after a nice stretch. Or perhaps you are on your phone, holding it near your face with sore triceps and squinting eyes, wishing you had a bigger screen (and a more concise author).

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Still not convinced? Pull up some recipes on your non-tablet and set it on the counter while cooking. On the counter or in most places not your hand, the phone disappears and a laptop is foolish. Don’t get too excited and try to hold a laptop like a tablet, you get cracked frameitus. eBooks aren’t just for fiction — any PDF you own or want on your slate at all times. Print? have on you at all times. Hey! your toddler is screaming for speed, show him speed.. and Mater… and that pimp car one. Good boy, now go play with your Transformers and let daddy play with a real transformer.

[By the way, I do think they hatched the plan for the iPad around 1999 when they were shipping a version 0.01 of the iPad known as the iPod, and then set about building all the infrastructure for it over the years. The patience to wait until everything was ready (including the supply chain) to then turn it all on is impressive.

Once they turn on full iOS capabilities in AppleTV and license Airplay to other manafucturers — If you go all-in with Apple and get your PC’s, mobiles, TVs, and stereos talking the iTunes talk, welcome to the afterfuture, people. ]

*oh that, just saying this test would work with a xoon tablet too, but iPad 2 is the top of the class right now. it’s about the tablet form and the touch interface, not the branding.

These Are Not The Droids You’re Looking For

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{( WAVE ?)}. ?Jedi Magic or Near Field Communication? We shall find out soon.

I already have friends calling me my mispronounced Apple-Speech name so it should be something to see the rollout – nothing like a misfire on your paypal account to ruin a week.

I gotta say one big thing I think Star Trek missed is how all this cool gadgetry will be used for games and diversions.

Instead of the complications of building (and scheduling) an actual holodeck, seems like we will just bring the virtual reality right into real reality with us.

Foursquare, Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, etc. all tracking where we are and hooking us into a fully location-aware, environmentally aware, internetly-aware, and personal-life aware device sitting right on our bodies at all times. We want our Hulu and Youtube and www and navigation and social boards/walls/twitters and all they really want from us is the ability to pry more $$ out of our accounts without us realizing it.

It’s cool though, welcome to the 21st century, one of our own making. I know mother nature could still shut it all down and start over so we just have to progress to the next level.

Touching on the Pad

The ipad is gonna be everywhere in 1-2 years. All those people saying “how could I replace my laptop with that” are lying about how much work they do. Most people I know spend at least 75% of their time in front of a computer doing exactly what the ipad is made for – consuming/sorting their media, browsing the web, and reading or composing short text blurbs like IM, email, and internet postings. I personally produce music and develop software – 2 things iPad v1 can’t do. But that doesn’t mean everything else I do with my mac can’t be more conveniently done wherever I want with the pad. And look at iPod/iPhone as a model — you know iPad v3 will add the missing features of earlier models (like a camera, the phone app, hulu, an outlook client, and theater sound to list a few).

Think work. Think any job that doesn’t keep you in a cubicle all day. Think about a private app store for an enterprise, stocking only their approved apps. Think about your work database, your POS system, your customer list, etc. being on a pad being carried around the office or around the neighborhood/route. Ever walk with a laptop or a netbook? It’s the UPS brown-tablet for the rest of us, doing things way more exciting than collecting our signature.

Think about presentations without a $1k projector. Ever pass a laptop around a large room or conference table so everyone can see up close? Yeah right. The pad will be there making laptops look like corded phones. Oh it’s so sensitive looking with that thin screen, better not get too close or lean near it! I love my macbook pro, but clamshells have never been cool unless you are baking them.

Oh yeah phones… yeah, think of all those people grabbing their iphone to do everything. Can’t get that damn thing out of their hands! Yes the pad is like a larger iPhone. Think about that, it’s not an insult. The only real thing hindering the iphone now is screen space. So the iPhone goes back to pocket-mobile only, and the iPad becomes local-mobile. You are not gonna write or browse on an iPhone if an iPad is nearby, but to me crouching in front of a laptop on a table is starting to remind me of getting up to change the channels.

I think security and deployment software will be needed on the iPad, and I’d consider investing in carrying cases, handles, sterile stylus’ and cleaning products. There’s a ways to go, but just like the iPhone, entrepreneurs should lead the way with software and hardware to bring the 21st century to us (finally).

But it will be everywhere, and like the iPhone it will take other companies 2 years to even come close to it. I predict it being a complete lifestyle changer, like the web itself. Remember when people would try to live using the internet only? Same thing for the iPad — it will do so much so easily we won’t ever go back to before it.

10 Years Later…

There is something beyond the base –
Perhaps it is simple math
done by moving the decimal

Maybe it is as obvious as the 10 digits hanging
at the end of our arms when we are born.
Does someone missing a finger work better in nines?

Point being the term “decade” and it’s intrigue.
When freed from the VH1 confines
of loving the 1st integer and ignoring the rest
a decade can prove to be even more interesting
Did music change more from 1980 to 1990
or 1984-1994?

Music talk is for arguing. What about your life?
Surely no one’s life is tied to 0-9
but we can change dramatically in 10 years.

Perhaps we just like grouping things
in ways we can handle
We might live 80 years but 80 is too far out there.
Tell me 80 phone numbers from memory.
80 books you’ve read, 80 basketball players,
80 stories about your cute and hyper-intelligent kid(s)
Even our favorite topics don’t usually go 80 deep
Nor would you carry general reviews of each of your 80 years with you…
See 1983 was different from 1985 in many ways….. yawn….. ok grandpa.

A decade though? Well even the best of us won’t see more than 10 of those
More like 5-6 full of memories for most of us

So yeah, grouping things in 10 doesn’t bother me in the least
I just ask that you consider sliding your start and end points
and seeing what you find
I just found this, written about 10 years ago. Prescient, eh?

[“Synthesizer Man”, words by Andre Benjamin]

synthesizer,
microwave me
give me a drug
so I can make seven babies
pump my breasts up
can you suck the fat up?
please make my life appear
like ain’t no such thing as bad luck
my nose ain’t right –
think I need a new one
just take your pick
a yellow, red, black, or a blue one
virtual reality?
virtual bullshit
synthesizer preachers can reach you
up in the pulpit
who a bitch?
give me my gat
so I can smoke this nigga
tell his momma not to cry
because they can clone him quicker
than it took his daddy to make him
nigga’s bitin’ verbatim
thought provokin’ records
radio never played ’em
instant quick grits, new, improved
hurry hurry, rush rush, world on the move
marijuana illegal but cigarettes cool
I might look kinda funny but ain’t no fool
now if you wanna synthesize I empathize,
now if you wanna synthesize I empathize
but if you synthesize
I will understand
your synthesizer man

 

 

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