Archive for the 'Tech' Category

Diversification And Legacy Data

May 23, 2014

I’m told that I’m a very loyal customer. That I’m loyal to Apple, Starbucks, Portland Fruit West, etc. — very few companies receive my business, and those who do receive my business receive a lot of it. Instead of making things complicated by buying from a diverse array of companies I keep things very simple by only buying from a handful.

There are many benefits to not diversifying yourself in computing platforms, and probably the most clear example of why it’s good to stick with one company is legacy data. Apple is what I know, so I’m going to try to stick to it for this blog post, though most of what follows can be said about other large companies which provide a wide array of services.

TL;DR: Through backups, my iPhone 5s and iPad Air have a data trail that dates back to 2006 with my MacBook Pro.

In 2007 I synced my brand new iPod touch with my MacBook Pro, and moved over .Mac mail, Calendar Events, Contacts, and Music/Movies. Every iOS device I’ve purchased since my iPod touch has been set up using backup data from the iOS device preceding it. I’ve actually gone through four generations of backups setting up new devices.

  1. 1. My iPhone 3G was just my iPod touch in a new shell.
  2. 2. My iPad and iPhone 4 were copies of my iPhone 3G in different shells.
  3. 3. My iPad 3 was a copy of my iPad.
  4. 4. My iPhone 5s, iPad mini and iPad Air are really just copies of my iPhone 4 and iPad 3, but they can also be considered simply grown up versions of my 2007 iPod touch.

(In addition, my iPhone 5s and iPad Air seamlessly share a remarkable amount of data with each other through iCloud.)

If I mixed things up with an Android device now and then, and if I used a different Mail service, 3rd party Contacts, Calendar, Notes, web browsers, office suites, photo management apps, etc., I could have moved over everything from device to device regardless of platform. The problem is it would require more work than I’d like! There’s beauty in simplicity.

Diversification is an important part of our development as humans. It’s great to travel and be around people who aren’t like you, who take you out of your comfort zone and force you to develop new ideas of culture and humanity. What I’ve learned traveling is that people are at a base level the same everywhere, although there are differences which have been imposed through the arc of time. When you immerse yourself in a culture other than your own, you can learn those impositions and adopt the ideas that you like, making yourself a truly unique individual.

Where diversification falls short of being important for development, is in our product purchases. You see people who have an iPhone, a Samsung Android tablet, and a Dell Windows PC, and use Yahoo! e-mail. This can be in the name of diversification, that different platforms have different benefits, and that it’s generally a bad idea to put all your faith in a single company in case it goes out of business.

As far as Apple goes, however, it’s very far from shutting down with its $151 billion in the bank and all. And the more companies you tie yourself to, the greater the chance you’ll find some services you rely on disappearing. It’s important to measure everything such as functionality, profitability, and how the company has handled product/service transitions in the past. From what I’ve measured Apple is the company I feel safe relying on.

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Wearable Computing: The Future?

March 21, 2013

One topic that has been plaguing much of the tech news cycle is how glasses by Google and potential watches by Apple and electronic shoes by who-knows-who are the next big thing. These devices — the real and the rumored — act as an accessory-type interface for the phones in our pocket, and the idea that it’s the future is nonsense.

The fantastic thing about post-PC devices is their reluctance to accessory-type interfaces like (hardware) keyboards and mice. Post-PC devices are free from the user-facing complexities that traditional computers have. Interface-removal is a trend that needs to continue, not reverse, which is what the people promoting watches and glasses oppose. What follows is my view of what the next wave of computing will be.

We do everything on our phones; The phone is the life, Mr. Renfield. So we don’t need new ways to do the things we already do with our phones; we need our phones to do what they do now with less user-effort. That requires our phones to be smarter and capable of learning what we want them to do. As an example:

At present, when I walk into my favorite Starbucks, my iPhone knows and a Passbook notification for my digital Starbucks card appears on my iPhone’s lock screen. I then swipe the notification and put my phone next to a scanner at the register, and my Earl Grey tea is paid for.

In the future, not only will my iPhone know that I’m walking into my favorite Starbucks, it will also know that I’m going to order a tall Earl Grey tea and it will order the drink for me over WiFi. I won’t have to stand and wait in a line, I’ll just walk into the Starbucks and my drink will be paid for and in the queue with absolutely no effort on my part.

That’s the near-future (10 years give-or-take a few) of computing that I see. I see our phones not only being the hub for everything we do, but also taking over our current responsibilities. It’s a future where our devices are invisible to us and not a distraction. Where most things are done without us even knowing that they’re done; the complete opposite of having computers strapped to our body which makes us see everything always.

A Familiar Interface

March 19, 2013

Tomorrow I’m going to upload an in-depth on my view of the future of computing, and what I don’t think it is, but it seems like a good idea to preface that article with this (albeit shorter) one.

On a public discussion on my Facebook page about the future of computing and interfaces, one of my friends proposed some ideas for what an Apple-made “iWatch” would do out-of-the-box:

1. Interface with Siri
2. Interface with Maps
3. Interface with Notification Center
4. Interface with the Phone app
5. Interface with Passbook

Apple already ships something with every iPhone that does most of the above, and more, and it utilizes our natural senses. Apple has actually been shipping this device for years: It’s the earbuds (now “EarPods”) which Apple includes with every iPhone.

Press and hold the middle button on the EarPod’s remote to activate Siri. Talk into the microphone (also on the remote) and you’re having a conversation with Siri. Ask her to take you somewhere, and she’ll tell you directions as you drive. You can also ask her to make phone calls for you, play music, send txt messages, set reminders and alarms, add calendar entries, and the list goes on. You can do all that without taking your phone out of your pocket.

Makes you wonder just how much of a void an iWatch could fill — notifications on your wrist, ooooohhhhhhhh — and just how future-thinking the idea is.

Apple already makes a wearable interface for the computer in your pocket. And Apple gives it away with every iPhone. It only differs from the rumored “iWatch” in that you wear it in your ears and not on your wrist. I hope this serves as food for thought.

Goodbye, Mac

March 18, 2013

Well, it finally happened. Prior to early last week I used my MacBook Pro probably once every month (at most) for solid FTP access for my self-hosted sites. That use case is no longer, as I picked up Diet Coda [App Store link] for iPad, which is abnormally fantastic. I no longer need my Mac to edit/upload files in FTP.

Diet Coda

Goodbye, MacBook Pro. It’s been a fun seven years. May you find peace in your shelf.

“Apple Is Doomed”

March 15, 2013

The sentiment that Apple is a failing company is expressed seemingly everywhere. Blogs, news sites, TV news stations, the water cooler; it’s hard to avoid the message that Apple is being obliterated by Samsung and Google. As a former Apple representative (at Portland State University) and current Apple fan and observer, all of this nonsense sometimes drives me insane. Apple isn’t flailing like a fish out of water, it’s one of the strongest companies in the world.

The iPhone 5 singlehandedly increases the U.S. GDP by .5%.

But.

IPHONE COULD GO WAY OF BLACKBERRY?

This narrative that Apple — the most profitable company in the world — is sinking into oblivion is a-series-of-words-I-shouldn’t-say-here.

However profit isn’t the only way to evaluate a company; we have to look at its accomplishments, too. What follows is a short list of Apple’s activity in 2012:

  • Two new 9.7″ iPads, introducing the most impressive display ever on a portable device.
  • An addition to Apple’s iPad lineup: the iPad mini.
  • A new iPhone with a completely new design.
  • Completely redesigned iPod nano and iPod touch.
  • Redesigned 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros featuring retina displays.
  • An extremely redesigned iMac.
  • Two brand new operating systems; iOS 6 and Max OSX 10.8. Three if you include iPod nano’s “nano OS”.
  • Even more updates to its software and services; iTunes, iCloud, etc.
  • Apple also designed and introduced a new processor, the A6 chip (and its A6X variant for the 4th gen iPad) — it also introduced the A5X for the 3rd gen iPad and a redesigned A5 for the reduced-price iPad 2.
  • And the MacBook Airs, Mac mini, and Apple TV received spec bumps.
  • And that’s just a top-of-my-head list. That doesn’t include things such as iTunes Store milestones, Apple’s strategic acquisitions, advertising, retail improvements, data-center-building, and everything else that Apple does with its money.

    Apple has been busy. It’s far from sitting on its laurels and letting its competition pass it by. The idea that Apple is doomed is outright maddening, and it would be nice for the nonsense to end.

    Divergence

    February 3, 2013

    When I picked up my iPad mini, my personal reasoning was that it would be the travel iPad and my 3rd gen iPad would effectively act as a desktop computer for me. Honestly, the idea was that I’d be able to shave even more weight off of me when I’m away from home.

    Whether fortunately or unfortunately, or both, my iPad mini hasn’t ended my 3rd gen iPad’s presence outside of my home. I now travel with both, so the initial goal was to shave off weight failed miserably as now my bag is heavier. 3rd gen iPad, iPad mini, and chargers for my two iPads and iPhone. It’s kind of mental.

    The more I use both iPads, the more they diverge in use cases, and the more it’s beneficial to carry around both.

    Apple advertises the iPad mini as just like a full-sized iPad, only smaller, which I’m beginning to think that that’s deceptive. The two devices are incredibly different in usage and complement each other to create a near-perfect computing setup. Some examples:

    The large iPad has a full-sized keyboard which is easy to type on. The iPad mini’s keyboard is too small for long form typing and that alone eliminates it as the traditional computer replacement that the large iPad is.

    On the other hand, the large iPad is too big and heavy for leisurely “consumption” of information. Whereas one can hold an iPad mini in a single hand for hours and scroll or flip through pages with the other, the large iPad commands two hands or a surface to support for long periods.

    Returning to productivity, the iPad mini is too small to effectively create big Keynote presentations, where the large canvas on the big iPad is perfect for manipulating objects. The exact same thing applies to spreadsheets, music creation, and drawing.

    If we turn to gaming, we also return to the fact that the large iPad is kind of relegated to tables or other surfaces. It’s fine at tabletop games like Monopoly, but one of my favorites, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy? The large iPad’s size makes it less fun. The iPad mini’s handheld-ability transforms the game into something super fun.

    In my line of hobby — writing — the iPad mini’s casual browsing chops makes finding news and inspiration a breeze. It outright speeds me up and frees up a bit of my time in each day. The large iPad alone caused me to be slower, and if I used the iPad mini alone I’d be an even slower blogger than that.

    But that’s just me. However if one assumes that the majority of people don’t do more than web browsing, email, office productivity stuff, and some games on the side, a large iPad and iPad mini is effectively the perfect computing setup. In the future when iPads get more horsepower and a Wacom digitizer built in, and more size options, two iPads combined will make the perfect computing setup for nearly everybody.

    What I’m most curious about is if Apple actually believes that the large iPad and iPad mini truly are “two of a kind”. Either Apple has its own ideas or it’s intentionally making the iPad mini seem like something it isn’t, which in my experience is a mistake.

    No News Today – Sorry

    January 29, 2013

    Stuff came up and I’ve been busy running errands, babysitting, cleaning up dog poop, and the works, so I’ve been unable to write an entry for today.

    That said, to any of you with an iOS device running iOS 6, on your iOS device there’s a present waiting for you in Settings > General > Software Update.

    Cheers!

    Montana

    21.5: We Got The Beat

    January 27, 2013

    Honestly the title has nothing to do with the following article, it’s just the song I’m listening to at the moment which happens to rock.

    I mentioned recently that I’m planning on outright removing traditional web browsers from my life (with very few exceptions), and I don’t think that I explained why. I hope that this entry can make my stance crystal clear so that we can have an understanding.

    I have a history of abandoning technologies and services that I view as being on the way out. Be it Adobe Flash, traditional computers (with exceptions), and even e-mail (with exceptions), I’ve consistently put my money where my mouth is. I’ve inconvenienced myself for a bit of time, but I’m vindicated with Flash and traditional computers.

    As far as I can see, e-mail too is on its path towards irrelevance, meaning that I need to find more dying technologies to get rid of. Based on my own observations the next thing to die is traditional web browsers. Dedicated service apps — from social networking to media to news — are the future and I aim to help show people why traditional web browsers are antiquated comparably.

    At the moment I’m thinking up a list of rules for myself and others to follow once written and published. Getting rid of traditional web browsers is so much more complex and harder than any other tech I’ve shelved because, at least at present, they’re integral to our lives.

    I’ve learned recently, however, that traditional web browsers slow me down in the face of apps dedicated to services like Flipboard. Finding news is so much faster with that than it ever can be using a traditional web browser; I’ve been a fool to avoid Flipboard as long as I have simply because of its dumb animation.

    The Flipboard, Tweetbot, TechCrunch, and Pocket [iTunes links] iOS apps are what make this blog possible. (slightly) unkommon was a slow-to-publish, aimless mess before I decided to start waning off of the Safari web browser to find information.

    Today I can A) find approximately 20 articles that interest me, B) narrow them down to nine, C) write a paragraph or two about each one, D) write a 300-to-500 word post about something random, and E) edit it all in less than three hours. I find that kind of phenomenal, particularly as a junior writer. I can credit having an iPad mini as a companion to my big iPad as speeding me up, but the real stars are the news and information apps.

    As always, the only way to usher in the future is to live in it prematurely. Be the change that you want to see in the world, and you can move mountains; at least that’s what I believe. And traditional web browsers will almost cease to exist in the future that I want to see.

    Apple Replaced My iPad For Free

    January 23, 2013

    fresh iPad

    Cracking your screen isn’t exactly covered under warranty, but a Genius at my local Apple Store sympathized and outright replaced my cracked iPad with a scratch-free new one.

    Unfortunately my iPad cracking kept me up all night and I got no sleep, so I’m going to get around to doing that now. Regular entries resume tomorrow, I’m back in business!

    Montana

    17.5: “Inexperience Required”

    January 20, 2013

    Nick Denton, Founder of Gawker:

    We’ve always prided ourselves on saving young talent from the spirit-dulling indoctrination of journalism schools and genteel media companies — and the conventional thinking, cosiness with sources and addiction to junkets that often go with them.

    The Deadspin exclusive shows what can be done by young journalists who don’t know better. There is another reason for this reminder. Newspapers and magazines — their ranks clogged by veterans with nowhere else to go — are not hiring. We are recruiting — and we value raw talent and attitude over the long resume — in not only Editorial but also our Technology, Advertising, and Operations teams.

    I have some friends who don’t particularly care for Gawker — I used to not be a fan myself — but this company impresses me more each day.

    Some of the best writing that I’ve seen on the web has been by people who never went to journalism school and are complete self-starters. People who have an opinion that they feel should be heard, and who sign up for a blogging platform and just run with it. I’ve become friends with many of these individuals and have been able to see them grow, which has been fascinating.

    So to make a potentially long story short, it’s encouraging to see at least one large media company understand that these kids are extremely valuable in the long term.

    Wannabe writers are the future and “professionals” should be afraid of them as Gawker probably won’t be the last media company that looks for inexperience. And heck, I’d wager that the media companies that do value the resume over the raw talent won’t be around forever.

    We live in a fascinating time.

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