Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Passenger Strips To Protest Screenings

Samuel Wolanyk, I commend you!

We all need to take security seriously, but the reality is that this will do little or no good at preventing ill-intentioned terrorists from boarding aircraft.

For a good laugh, also check out this post for more images like the above:

3 reasons why it’s finally starting to sound like the 21st century

We’re on our way to invisibility:

Prototype cloaking device removes you from spacetime

There’s bacteria that can fill cracks in concrete (yes, intentionally):

BacillaFilla: Fixing Cracks in Concrete

We figured out to make graphene out of cheap materials, cheaply:

Sweet way to make graphene – just add table sugar

Apple should embrace jailbreaking to maintain market share

IDC released their worldwide quarterly numbers for mobile device operating system market share last week, and whether you look at the current market, or the predicted 2014 market, it doesn’t look good for Apple.

The skinny: Android is kicking Apple’s ass.

To figure out why, let’s go back in time, to January of 2007.  Apple releases the original iPhone, and the usual suspects of Apple-loving zealots (the crowd that buys and loves *EVERYTHING* that Apple makes) buys one, and shows their friends.   Some of these friends end up being real people, not already drinking the Apple kool-aid, and they realize pretty quickly that Apple was onto something big here.

Much like they did with the iPod, Apple entered the mobile phone game at a time when the technology had matured enough to truly make a “smart phone”, where some tasks that we previously relied solely on our PC’s and laptops for, started to make sense in our pockets if done right.  The iPhone did them right, from the web to rich email, youtube, maps, and eventually: apps.

Within a year, since Apple successfully proved the fees-ability of a “smart phone” to the mass market beyond early adopters and business users, everyone and their brother in the carrier and handset business tried to copy their success.  They all failed.  .  .  miserably.  Why buy the imitation handset, with imitation OS tied to it, when you can buy the original.  Google however, in their infinite wisdom, and with their deep pockets attacked from a different angle and started developing Android, a mobile OS that would run on not just their own hardware, but hardware from other vendors that chose to license it (or license the functionality of a “store” for apps, etc.)  By this time, Apple had amassed zillions of apps in it’s own app store, and had a pretty damn big chunk of market share.  The general public, if they could afford it, had totally adopted the idea of “smart” in their pocket, and everyone wanted an iPhone.

In October of 2008, Google rolls out Android, and all the “Apple haters” that secretly wanted an iPhone, but wouldn’t be caught dead with anything Apple-branded, instantly buy an Android device and start consuming/writing Android apps.  It takes a while, but adoption gains traction, and the UI becomes friendlier, more stable, and more standard.   Most important of all, carriers and handset vendors, still licking the wounds from their failed-iPhone-copycat-devices start seeing that you CAN compete with Apple’s iPhone, you just have to work together.

Fast-Forward to present day, late summer 2010.  Apple had a rocky iPhone 4 release (antennagate, pre-order hell, etc.), and the folks that bought an iPhone, but aren’t married to Apple otherwise are starting to get sick and tired of Apple telling them which apps they can and can’t run.  This didn’t matter so much when they were the only game in town, but now there’ s competition, and it’s looking a whole lot more “open” on the other side of the fence.

Need proof?  Here’s the chart from IDC:

Let’s just concentrate on the 2010 column for now.  Android commands 16.3% of the market, while Apple holds 14.7%.   Symbian, the 800lb gorilla here is almost irrelevant since the 40.1% they hold reflects folks with std. handsets no different that what’s been out for the last 10+ years.  I view all of these as consumers that will eventually be buying Android devices, iPhone’s or Windows Mobile devices.

What about BlackBerry?  Personally speaking, I think they’re on their way out.  Their time has come and gone, and unless they do something drastic like re-write their UI to run on Android, and license the Android app store. . goodbye.

Windows Mobile has probably the best shot at gaining some of that Symbian market share alongside iPhone and Android.  Their previous mobile OS’s have been such shit, that at this point the fact that they’re brazen enough to even release the next version has a lot of people convinced they’ve done their homework this time.  I guess the jury’s out until Windows Mobile 7 is 3-6 months into release and the numbers talk, and we see if they can carve out a space for a 3rd app “store”.

Apple biggest strength in this game is their biggest weakness.  It’s their private, locked-gate community built atop their closed OS and tightly-controlled app store.  While cautious parents, and technology illiterate consumers love the ease of knowing that most of the apps they can buy are reasonably safe, the savvy folks that bought iPhone’s for their sleek industrial design, quality, and hardware features are fed up, and in many cases going underground for what they want.

Jailbreaking has started to become mainstream on  iPhone’s and the latest news of a jailbreak based on a HW-level exploit is just fuel on the fire.  With each release of iOS, Apple closes the old exploits, the jailbreaking community finds new ones, and life goes on.  Why jailbreak?  Jailbreaking let’s users run any application they want with or without Apple’s approval.   In the past, the jailbreaking community was looked-upon as a bunch of shadowy figures operating outside the law, but on July 25th, 2010 the Library of Congress ruled that jailbreaking was explicitly exempted from provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, making it now more mainstream than ever.  Apple, undaunted by the ruling, maintains jailbreaking is naughty, continues to close exploits, and refuses to support jailbroken iPhone’s in any way at all.

Let’s look at that chart again (scroll up if you don’t have photographic memory).  As you can see in the 2014 column, the tech-savvy folks not joined to Apple at the hip have moved on and bought Android or Windows Mobile devices.  I don’t agree quite as enthusiastically with the chart regarding uptake on Windows Mobile, but hey, if they finally get it right, it could happen.  Like all closed-gate communities, with tight rules and regulations, there’s only so many people that WANT to live there, and as the smart handheld device marketplace gets better overall, more folks are willing to live on the other side of the fence.

The solution?  Apple needs to embrace jailbreaking.  Now, I’m not suggesting they open the app store to ANY application, or permit any OS to run on their hardware, but what if you had a choice?

Take the blue pill, stay inside the gated community, and run the apps Papa Steve says are good.  Unsigned code doesn’t run, you go to Apple heaven at the end of your life, and the geniuses at the Apple bar are happy to help you with every little thing.


Take the red pill, accept the long winded agreement accepting the risk of running un-signed code, etc, etc. and unlock the ability to use other non-apple app markets or stores, and your support is limited to the hardware itself.   Direct all other complaints straight at yourself.

The consumer still gets kick-ass Apple hardware, with the choice of living ultra-safe, or taking a few risks and increasing the usability of their devices, while Apple can quit wasting money on thwarting jailbreakers and keep their support costs low.

BAM. Everyone wins.


The photograph to the left is “against the rules”.

That’s right, I took it in the Lehigh Valley Mall, which expressly prohibits any and all sort of photography on mall property.  I know this, because I’m the photographer in this case, and while wielding my iPhone 4, a mere 12 inches from my daughters face, I was approached by mall security and told to immediately cease what I was doing.

Shocked, I asked for an explanation, and was told all forms of photography and videography have been illegal in the mall since “9/11″, with security instructed to confiscate film and delete photos when witnessed.

That’s right, a couple terrorists, upset at our freedoms and beliefs managed to get photography banned in a mall.  I think I could have let it go if she said folks had complained about creeps following them around with 500mm lenses or something, but no, the reason given was “9/11″.  We’ve got men and women thousands of miles from home, giving their lives everyday to protect basic freedoms, but I can’t take a picture of  my daughter from 12 INCHES away in a mall on a Saturday.

I guess I didn’t look to pleased with the explanation given, since the security guard went on to state that they had found friends posting pics of each other in the mall on Facebook, flickr, etc. and it’s “just not right”.   Yeh, I agree . . .  It’s “just not right” that those kids, pockets full of their parents money and plastic would want to go to the mall thinking it’s trendy and chic like everything else they do because they saw it in a picture on Facebook.  Thank god the brick and mortars of the world aren’t willing to embrace the free benefits of social networking.  The online business of merely tracking the effect of social networks on purchasing decisions across all age groups per day is probably larger than what the entire Lehigh Valley Mall  grosses in a year.

I love this country, and it’s rich history chock full of freedom and independence, but common sense, today, is all to often lacking.

3-D Movies Meeting With Resistance

If you can’t make it good, make it 3-D”!

That’s becoming the popular phrase around Hollywood since everyone on the inside knows people are willing to flock in droves right now to anything that’s 3-D.  A 2-hour documentary about the invention of the paper clip could probably gross as much as your typical run of the mill romantic comedy if it was released in 3-D.

While casual moviegoers may not be wise to the driving force of 3-D: profit, the talented folks on the inside that make up the creative force behind the movies we love, are.  Folks like Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams have gone on the record with statements like, “When you put the glasses on, everything gets dim”, and “3-D technology does little to enhance a cinematic story”.

I wholeheartedly agree.  I think 3-D in movies, at least as implemented today, is nothing more than a parlor trick that hinders and in many cases blocks the creative shooting and production techniques used to convey the spirit of the feature to moviegoers.  Maybe that sounds old-fashioned, but in my opinion, movies have been 3-D since the beginning.  It’s called depth of field, and it’s controlled by what aperture the director chooses in a given shot, and what point within that plane is focused on.

Just say no to nerd glasses, higher ticket prices, and parlor tricks that are as old as the 3-D photograph. . cuz hey, we all now how well stereoscopes for 3-D photos caught on right?

100 Million Users Facebook Personal Info: Exposed Permanently

As detailed here:

100 million facebook users have had their info compiled into a single dataset which has been published online.

Sure, the info was freely available as of when it was compiled, but this means people don’t get the option to adjust their facebook privacy controls to prevent access to this info today, tomorrow, or anytime, since your info is now available in a torrent that’s hit all the popular torrenting sites.

Bottom line: if you don’t want information to be public now or EVER. . don’t put it online.

NPR: Two types of managers

Heard this on NPR, and it really rang true in a lot of ways.  Over the years, I’ve definitely worked with both types of managers, and it’s truly a blessing when someone is a “multiplier” as this transcript describes:

Apple’s image cracking under iPhone 4 antenna issues

Steve, it’s time to concede the iPhone 4 isn’t quite a flawless home run.  It’s like cutting the video to black just short of seeing the hitter round 3rd and trip, heading face first into the sand.  Stop calling it a “stumble”.  It doesn’t matter if the ball is already outta the park.  Take the fall, get up, brush off and talk about how Apple is going to resolve this issue, and then make it happen.

The longer you wait, the bigger the roar of unhappy customers that are figuring out their recent increase in signal issues isn’t just a coincidence.

I’d love to see some charts from AT&T that show trending for signal degradation across handsets, specifically the iPhone line.  I bet the iPhone 4 leads the pack in sudden degradation.  Who knows if they trend any of this already, but I can guarantee you’ll never see any of it made public.

Apple stock is down, and Consumer Reports, while offering a GLOWING review based on features/functionality is recommending against purchasing until the issue is resolved.  Even devoted fans are cursing their phones due to dropped calls and degraded signal.

Personally speaking, I’ve noticed the issue somewhat intermittently, and believe that, like so many other variables that affect wireless performance, it’s not an issue that by itself can bring the signal to an unusable level, but drastically exacerbates the other pre-existing variables.

What do I mean? Well, think about it.  .  .with any phone, your signal often seems to rise and fall for no apparent reason at all.  Maybe the tower is a bit overloaded, maybe the weather is changing, maybe your “dome” is blocking some of the signal as you move around.   There’s literally thousands of reasons wireless signal may degrade.  If none of these are impacting you, and you degrade your signal by shorting that gap on the iPhone 4, all is well, even if it cuts your signal by up to 50%.  However, if you were in a low coverage area to begin with, or any of the aforementioned issues are affecting you, goodbye call.  This makes it really hard for the end user to identify what’s really causing the issue.

Consumer Reports did their test in an enclosed area with special equipment to virtually eliminate other variables, and determine the real impact of signal attenuation alone.  Guess what?  They’re suggested fix is a piece of tape over the joint to stop attenuation.

Wake up Apple, we want a fix. . a REAL fix.

NO, I don’t want to be your neighbor in farmville.

No, I don’t want to be your neighbor in “farmville”, your friend in “cafe world”, or you’re hooker in “pimps”.  Yeh-yeh, that last one doesn’t exist. . .*yet*.

Social networks are all about repeat visits.  I get that.  If people don’t come back, they don’t see the new ads, they don’t see what everyone’s been up to, and your user base shrinks like ku klux klan sign-ups during a sheet shortage.

Games like farmville get people to come back, again, and again, and again, and again.  People with addictive personalities are especially useful gamers to social networks because they’ll actually HOUND their friends to come play to if it somehow benefits their own progress/success and the cycle repeats.

Think about this: The bigger the userbase, the higher the number of visits, the bigger the “value” of the social network.  What am I talking about? Well, Facebook has an estimated annual revenue of $1.2 billion and 400 million users.  That means each of  you reading this, that are members of facebook, are worth about $3/year.  Some of it comes from ads, some of it just from growth of the co., but roughly speaking, each person that “joins” facebook brings the company~$3 in annual revenue.

Are you starting to see the big picture yet?

I have nothing against the concept of a social network and sites that are designed to connect people, but I have a problem with the idea of turning everyone into a button pushing George Jetson to speed up the growth and value of a company and calling it a “game”.  Games usually involve skill or chance, and I see neither in the current crop of popular social networking games.  The greatest factor driving your success in any of these “games” is your willingness to come back, over and over again.

Count me out.  I’ll stick with “Call of Duty”.  Call of Duty never sends me messages reminding me to come play it, I can play as much or as little as I want, my success is tied to my skill and strategy, and nobody wants to be my neighbor.

Boston rocks, iPhone 4: woes, wins & humor, & Why can’t pet AT-AT’s be real?

Back from Boston!  Ok, well, I got back late last Friday night, and I’m just posting now, but I’ve been B-U-S-Y.

Boston rocked.  Complete 180 from other big cities I’ve been to.   There’s open space, richer history, and the atmosphere is just calmer and more cohesive.  NYC, for example looks recycled, regurgitated, and temporary in comparison.

Trip Pics

Boston seamlessly blends “trendy new” with cobble stone, granite, brick and nature.  It’s got it’s skeletons and armpits too, but hands down, my favorite urban blend.  If I could change one thing it’d be the time chit closes. . .   On a FRIDAY night in the SUMMER, half the bloody city shuts down at 6pm, and the rest is closed by 9pm.  No, I don’t mean there’s a curfew, but good luck finding anything open.  I literally couldn’t find an open Startbucks at 9:45pm.  No joke.  If you’re a night owl, stick to NYC.  In comparison it literally is the city that never sleeps.

Got home late Friday night, and low and behold by iPhone 4 had arrived while I was gone.  In fact, it came Wednesday, a full day before the official release. Go AT&T.  You mind-fucked me with your nonexistent status and bullshit answers when I ordered, but a full day early . . . rock-on.

Saturday morning: Wake up, activate iPhone, call AT&T to swap #’s around (had to purchase on my wife’s number originally to get the upgrade pricing) and wow, kickass features in order of importance:

1) Amazing screen

2) Kickass screen

3) Jaw-dropping gorgeous screen

4) STFU and look at the screen

5) Everything else

The “retina” display is truly remarkable.  It’s mesmerizing to look at stuff on it.   It’s “realer” than “real”.  In fact, MOVE over real, the new real is whatever I’m looking at on my iPhone 4 screen. Real is yesterday.

Sunday morning: I wake up,  grab by phone to catch up on the news until my daughter wakes up, and 10 minutes in, the screen flickers like a campfire in the wind, splits into double vision, fades to white, fades to black, fades to sparkly silver, and finally: fades to black.

Power button = no response.

Home button = no response.

Hard reset = no response.

Hold down home button = voice dial prompt!, but screen still blank, so obviously the screen had gone off the deep end.

I call AT&T, who has me step through the usual hoops and perform the usual steps, and after 45 minutes they pronounced the screen dead.

What now?  Well, AT&T offered advanced replacement with  a ship date of 5-6 wks.  No thanks.  Other option was to show up at Apple, and give them the case #.  A quick call to Apple yielded a 3:15pm genius bar appt the very same day, and the expectation of  a “replacement phone”.  Surely this sounded a little nuts since I know damn well they’re sold out, but I figured worst case scenario I could at least get a 3GS loaner until more 4’s are on the shelves.

Arrived at Apple, and lo and behold, they maintain a seperate stock of replacement phones and they had 1 16GB 4 left!!!!  YAY, back in business.  I’ll spare you the part of the story where I went to 3 different places shopping for a case, but they turned out to be as scarce as the phones themselves.

This video, while bashing the iPhone 4 pretty much sums up why:

. . .and while you’re at it, check this one out too.  If you don’t want a pet AT-AT after watching this, you’re broken: