Category Archives: Tech

Found this terrific post on the emerging “peer-to-peer” economy and its potential problems. A lot has been circulating recently about Uber‘s service and others like it. Tom Slee has taken the time to uncover some of the issues that unregulated services bring with them:

In Peer-to-Peer Hucksterism Slee contrasts what the founders of AirBnB and who makes electronic cigarettes Uber are saying about “community” versus what they’re doing as a “business”. As P2P becomes more prevalent and becomes funded and backed by billionaire venture capitalists, it begs the question about how much regulation is needed. Especially in light of the tragic rape of the young Indian woman who was traveling on an unregulated bus.

It’s been a banner year for stuff. I admit, I like playing with stuff and testing, tweaking, fiddling, and generally exploring new devices and gadgets. Unfortunately, I don’t get free stuff to test out — when I “adopt” I am all in. Thank goodness I’m a Silver rewards member at Best Buy — I get the 45-day return option. For the most part, I end up stacking a lot of unused gadgets in the corner of my home office, however, there are a few things that bubble up and become indispensable. So as we close out 2012, I thought I’d itemize some of the stuff I got this year. Each one of these items, except one, landed a secure, comfy spot in my precious man-bag. Can you guess which item got tossed out?

iPhone 5

In September of this year, Apple released iPhone 5 — a complete overhaul of its flagship smartphone.

Pros: iPhone 5 was a big release (literally) — sporting a longer, larger screen and a new, zippy A6 processor. Add to that a top-to-bottom redesign resulting in the slimmest, lightest iPhone yet.

Cons: The new Lightning connector caused a kerfuffle with all the 32-pin accessories and cables I already had. And I won’t mention Maps…, yeah, no need to mention that.

 

iPad mini

The first new “product” released under Tim Cook without the approval of Steve Jobs, iPad mini is a lighter, smaller cousin to iPad.

Pros: Just the right size: fits comfortably in the palm, and can still maneuver the keyboard. Much better with the “lean-back” experience while reading, surfing and watching videos. All the almost 300,000 iPad apps work on mini.

Cons: No retina. Big mistake, Apple. Pricey. There are several tablet options with sharper screens at lower prices.

 

Microsoft Surface RT

Microsoft started out 2012 with a bang, moving aggressively into hardware. Their first flagship release is a complete overhaul of “the tablet experience” combining the best of a laptop with the best of a tablet in one form factor. If you are into productivity with a tablet, go Surface.

Pros: The new Metro interface is leaps ahead of anything best electronic cigarettes Apple or Samsung have come up with. An easy-to-use UI that screams to be touched. The Surface I got was zippy, responsive, and easy to navigate. I used it to present at conferences, create and edit Office docs and watch Hulu and Netflix movies.

Cons: Not enough apps. The Windows Store is like a Soviet Grocery store. There are two keyboard options: dumb and dumber. And you need a keyboard and a flat surface (literally). Not a real “lean-back” consume content type of tablet.

 

Leica X2 Digital Camera

Leica moved aggressively into the prosumer digital market with the release of the X2 digital camera.

Pros: With a 16 megapixel resolution and a Zeiss lens, this camera takes digital to the next level. Although it comes with a fixed 24mm lens, the shots are spectacular (and no need to worry about zooming). A stunning, 2.7-inch LCD display helps you to capture just the right composition for your shots.

Cons: Pricey at ~$2000.00. However, if you’re considering this camera, you probably already have gotten over sticker shock. The fixed lens means you’re kinda “stuck” if you find yourself needing a closeup or wide angle shot.

 

HTC Windows Phone 8X

HTC has historically been an Android specific phone maker. With the 8X, HTC has landed with a big statement to the Lumia: I’m gonna be lighter, thinner, and more powerful than you! This phone is the rockingest smartphone release of 2012.

Pros: Fast processor, great LTE speeds, hardly any bloatware and a nice comfy grip make this phone (available in several colors) a very close competitor to iPhone. I loved how the HTC would read me my texts while in my car. Say goodbye to Siri!

Cons: The power button at the top is too flush, making it a bit hard to turn off/on quickly. Call quality is not as great as iPhone.

 

Take a guess at which one got tossed out in the comments below. As for 2013: I look forward to acquiring a lot more stuff, but in my opinion 2012 was a banner year for us gadget freaks! Happy New Year!

It’s been quite a year. So many memorable moments across tech, politics, the economy, and so many other areas that it seems at times overwhelming to try and keep up with it all. When reflecting on the year, there’s a few things that stick out in my mind as top moments worth remembering. I’ve managed to keep the list to 10 items (barely) and yes, I decided to NOT add “Facebook goes public” or “Facebook buys Instagram”… as a matter of fact… Facebook isn’t on MY list at all! These moments mattered to me because I’m a tech junkie, a political junkie, and somewhat of a sports fan… Here goes:

Windows 8 is Released

There was a lot of talk this year about the impact Windows 8 is/will/may have on all of us as we move to more gesture-based computing. I see Win8 as a giant leap forward for mankind. While Apple twiddles with it’s tired-looking skeuomorphic software designs and its old-school looking Mac UI, Microsoft has shown us what the future of computing looks like. The Metro UI which easily adapts to multiple devices is the friendliest, easiest computing OS I’ve ever seen. Adoption may be slow, but in one big release, Microsoft has taken the lead in future-proofing our computing experiences across multiple devices.

Jim Lehrer Moderates the First Presidential Debate

By mid-year I think most of us were frustrated and tired with politics. Luckily, living in California, I wasn’t inundated with political ads. I heard from friends in Ohio that wanted the election to be over long before it really was because of the constant stream of ads they were bombarded with. As the debates approached, I was finding it hard to believe there would be anyone left in the country that hadn’t made up their mind already. However, the show wasn’t really over as Jim Lehrer proved. His performance was unexpected from such a veteran newsman. The halting lack of control over the candidates, the meandering miasma of his inane questions let a top-of-form Romney command the stage and made Barack look like he’d forgotten to do his homework. We have come to expect more from our TV news anchors, and Jim just had a terrible moment… really, a terrible 90 minutes.

David Byrne Tells Us How Music Works

I’ve been following David Byrne since he started blogging and posting online. Long before, naturally, I was a Talking Heads fan and I’ll never forget the day I bought the cassette of My Life In The Bush of Ghosts. So, sure, Byrne is a fixture for me. It’s fun to follow him online however, because he is leading quite an interesting post-Heads life. This year he released a book “How Music Works” where he takes us on a journey to the inner-workings of what music really is and what it feels like and how and why it plays such a big part in our lives. In addition to reading the book, I had the extra pleasure of seeing him in discussion about it in San Francisco with Bernie Krause. Along with a few quirky anecdotes, I got to experience Byrne giving a PowerPoint presentation filled with bird sounds. Yeah, Byrne and PowerPoint. What a great moment!

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the London Olympics

It seemed like when I was a kid, the Olympics were a much bigger deal. However, with the games in London this year, I thought I’d tune in and watch as much as I could… well that didn’t work out. What did work out was the opening and closing ceremonies. Man, do the Brits know how to put on a show. These events are becoming like the Halftime shows on the Super Bowl. Yeah, a tad over-the-top, but a visually stunning show all the same. And, oh yeah, the USA won the most medals (104)!

The Mars Rover Safely Lands

Yeah, yeah, the comparisons to Wall-E were rampant, but think about it. NASA designed and built a device that not only made it Mars, but made it in one piece with cameras attached to send us photos and videos. This still blows my mind when I think about it.

The Pope Tweets

Yeah, it’s a moment that matters. I’m not Catholic, however, the old man holed up in the fancy flowing robes in the Vatican actually sliding up to an iPad and tweeting is something to remember. I know it’s all symbolic… but just imagine how ubiquitous Twitter has become now when Da Popa feels the need to send out his own thoughts in 140 characters or less. This could have an interesting impact on those really long liturgies.

The San Francisco Giants Win the World Series

Yeah, the Giants won in 2010 as well. And that was exciting because it had been the first time since they moved to SF that they won a World Series. But it’s just as cool knowing my home team is the reigning World Champions again. And although I didn’t have tickets to the games, I had front row seating in front of my HDTV. And there’s nothing like baseball on a big-screen HDTV. And there’s nothing like the show the Giants gave us this year as well.

John McAfee Goes On the Run

I love having instant access in real-time to news. The Internet has given us an impatience with “breaking news” — we want to know what’s happening now! Late in the year, I discovered software pioneer John McAfee’s blog and the clusterf*ck drama he was embroiled in down in Belize. While he was on the run from the Belize law enforcement, he kept us all informed with constant blog posts. There’s nothing more warming to the geek heart than a guy on the run, but still able to connect and update via the Internet. Who knows how sane the man actually is, and who knows if he actually committed a crime… this was REAL reality TV unfolding before us as it happened.

Bill Clinton Tells Us Like It Is

I like Obama’s soaring, elegiac speeches. He’s kinda like a modern-day television evangelist when he gets all fired up. But, rosy and uplifting as he always is, it took Bill Clinton to paint a more realistic picture of where we’re all headed and what the impact of the election would have. His speech this year at the Democrats’ nominating convention easily captured for him the title of “Great Communicator” from Reagan. Clinton handedly laid out the pros and cons of the choice we faced between Obama and Romney and more than likely in that 49-minute speech single-handedly sealed Obama’s re-election.

OH, right… a 10th unforgettable moment. Well, I was going to add Newtown. But it’s so tragic that words aren’t coming. All I can hope for is that we as a nation have a good dialog in 2013 about the issue and try to come to some common-sense solutions to make sure our kids are as safe as they can be. Happy New Year!

I generally loathe predictions, so I won’t really refer to the following as “predictions” and instead refer to them as a “natural evolution for tech in 2013”… although “natural” may not be the best work either. However, these are some of the topics that I think will become more prominent in our lives in 2013:

Less Freedom Online
The Internet will become less open and more regulated by government agencies. Along with commerce on the Internet being taxed, governments will exert more control over what its citizens can access. The “foundational” period of an open Internet with no government intervention is dying. Proof is that just this month a  majority of the 193 United Nations member countries approved a treaty giving governments new powers to close off access to the Internet in their countries. China and Russia led the treaty because they realize that to continue to control their citizens, they must control the Internet, unfettered. So the Internet becomes geographical, like the rest of the world, divided in two camps: the open Internet and the closed Internet. The UN treaty takes effect in 2015, but the process of closing it off begins now.

The Cloud becomes De Rigeur
The cloud has already moved past the state of buzzwordiness and into practical integration in our lives. The only thing holding back the complete immersion into the cloud is bandwidth speed and device fragmentation. But even my grandmother understands “The Cloud” as a term now. It’s achieved mainstream.

The “Platform Curtains” Begin to Fall
As the big three (Google, Apple and Microsoft) compete against each other with their hardware/software platforms, they are no longer “playing friendly” with each other by continuing to support their apps and services across different platforms. Each company, to varying degrees, is lowering their “platform curtains” and walling their consumers in. Google just recently announced it will not develop apps for Windows Phone, and will curtail access to its APIs. Apple tried to boot Google Maps off its platform, and if it wasn’t for the debacle of its own offering, would have succeeded. Microsoft is the short-term loser here since its App Store resembles a Soviet grocery store: lots of empty shelves to stock, but very little bread on them. Consumers will be faced with choosing devices not based on hardware alone, but based on platforms. In the spirit of building walls, it will mean that sharing and connecting to each other will eventually be more difficult since your friend with a Windows online blackjack for two players Phone may have to jump over a wall to share a photo with your iPhone. Let’s hope common sense prevails and we don’t have to go dark and live in our own East Berlins for 50 years.

Online Access Inches Toward Ubiquity
I’ve always said Wi-Fi access needs to be like electricity. I hope someday we have a network grid similar to our electric grid. And maybe it should be regulated by the government as well. With Google trying out fiber-optic connections in the heartland, and Comcast providing Wi-Fi access anytime/anywhere to its subscribers, there are more options to staying connected as we move around our communities. Frankly, I’m tired of buying mobile devices with cellular connections just so I can be assured that if I desperately need to answer an email while waiting for the train, or if I just MUST have that new Taylor Swift single while riding the bus, I can get online to whet my appetite for digital bling. Although we’re being extremely over-charged for cellular connections, there are glimmers of hope that the providers know they can’t keep charging us like the 80s when we bought $25 CDs in cardboard long-boxes… they feel the pressure to provide faster service with less hassle. Now, if only we can do something about those $4 lattes in Starbucks…

Your Computing Experience Transformation Continues
Unabated, your options are many, and as you quietly and quickly move away from a state of tetherness, you still demand multiple devices to do different things. The hope of one smart device that you can hold in your hand to get everything done is anything but realistic, and not really what you want. You like 10” tablets for your lean-back experience. You like your smartphone tucked safely in your pocket, just two fingers away from you at all times. You’ve even found yourself sleeping with or near it. You like the e-ink lightness of that latest Kindle/Nook when you get all literary and actually read, and you like your big-screen TV to take you on those harrowing blu-ray journeys to far away places… and, yes, now you’re thinking that little 7” tablet would be a great gaming device. You’re not a one-screen kinda gal, but what you want is a seamless experience moving between all your screens. It’s getting better everyday, and 2013 will make that experience just a bit better although you may have to make some hard decisions about your own loyalty to one of the Big Three.

Yahoo! and Flickr have announced that if you’re new to Flickr, you can now test drive a Pro account for free for 3 months. Normally, a Flickr Pro account is only $25, but hey, if you’re fed up with Instagram for varying reasons, maybe you’ll want to try Flickr.

If you’re an existing Pro user, you’re daisy fuentes pokies not out of luck either. Your subscription will be extended for 3 mos from your renew date – but you do have to go click and participate in the promotion.

Just log into your Flickr account and click the banner at the top of the page.

You can also participate just by logging into the Flickr mobile app.