Apple Is Giving Us The Finger

Apple Is Giving Us The Finger

As I always say, I love Apple–and they still have the best darn Smartphone on the market–but they continue to disappoint with anything new.

This week, with the introduction of the iPhone 5S, Apple had the opportunity to introduce something new and exciting, but instead what did we get?

– A faster processor and Touch ID fingerprint reader.

In nutshell, since Steve Jobs untimely passing, Siri was a bombshell, actually just a big consumer product bomb.

And now with the fingerprint reader as the big newcomer add-on to the iPhone, it’s as if (sorry to say), Apple is giving us all the proverbial finger.

While the fingerprint reader is cute and a faster logon, it is really not a must-have or a game-changer.

The only thing less exciting than Touch ID is the new Yahoo logo.

In the last two years, Apple has taken a mighty innovation lead and squandered it.

Still, no one can touch their highly integrated iPhone product.

However, if much more time goes by without something meaningfully new and innovative, they will be in trouble.

Rumors of an iPhablet (iPhone/tablet) with a significantly larger screen (ranging from 4.8 to 6 inches) will be more like the Samsung Galaxy S4 with 5-inch screen rather than than iPhone 5S 4-inch screen, and would have attraction for people who like to read or watch on a larger, better display.

Of course a significantly better camera would be helpful too–need I say more?

Some interaction with wearable technology, like a Google Glass with augmented reality would also be a winner.

And a fully ruggedized smartphone, similar in concept to a Panasonic Toughbook–and up to military grade specs–that withstands drops, spills, dust, and lots of everyday field use punishment, would be way cool for the action-adventurer in all of us–and maybe then we wouldn’t need all the silly looking cases.

In the meantime, put your index finger on the home bottom, while Apple puts their middle finger up at you, the consumer.

Steve Jobs, where the heck are you? 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to CNET)

When GPS Takes You Down The Wrong Path

When GPS Takes You Down The Wrong Path

Mashable is reporting that a team of university students from University of Texas at Austin were able to spoof the GPS receivers on an $80 million yacht with false signals and make it veer off course without anyone even noticing!

I remember a couple of years ago, I was heading to an offsite meeting for work.

It was planned for a location that I wasn’t extremely familiar with.

Of course, I turned on my GPS device in the car and set the destination.

It was a cold snowy day–the roads were iced–and it was already treacherous driving.

But I followed the GPS directions to a T.

I ended up in someone’s backyard–at a dead end–practically in the middle of a cornfield.

I’m thinking to myself Crap!–what type of crazy GPS is this?

Thank G-d, I had my smartphone in my pocket and I opened up the GPS app on it and set the destination again.

Sure enough, it takes me off and running to the meeting location–about 10 minutes away!

Some things I learnt:

1) OMG, we are so very dependent on our technology; with technology gone wrong, I was stuck in nowhere land USA; with it right–I got out of there and to the correct location and thank G-d.

2) GPS is a capability that is critical for everything from getting us to where we need to go to getting our missiles to hit on target. Take away or mess with our GPS and we end up missing the mark–potentially big time and with devastating consequences.

3) Always have a backup, plan B. One GPS can be wrong as in this case, while the other GPS was correct. Redundancy and contingency planning is a must have, period.

4) When you’re heading down the wrong road (or you’re off course in international waters), man up and admit it and make a course correction. You don’t win any brownie points for continuing to drive into the cornfields. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

We’re All Digitally Distracted

We're All Digitally Distracted

Focus, focus…forget it!

With smartphones, social media, email, texting, phone calls, meetings, and more…it takes a lot of discipline to not get distracted and actually get things done.

The Wall Street Journal (11 December 2012) laid out half jokingly that most people wouldn’t even be able to finish the article because of all the technological and people interruptions in our daily lives.

There are various aspects to this problem:

1) Digital Addiction–We love and are addicted to the information, connectedness, convenience, and entertainment that computerization, digital communications, and the Internet provide. Loneliness be gone!

2) 24/7 Expectations–Employers, family, and friends expect that we will be available to them around the clock. We are tethered to our jobs and each other with computers, smartphones, Blackberries, telework, social media, and more. If I can’t get to you, it’s because you don’t want to be gotten!

3) Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)–One of the concerns we have about getting off our devices is that we may miss out on something–that critical phone call or email may be regarding an important event, a special sale, a job interview, a long lost friend or lover, someone who needs help, or whatever. But if you shut yourself off, then you may just be missing the opportunity of a lifetime!

For most people the smartphone is the last thing they look at before going to sleep and the first thing they look at in the morning…assuming your significant other doesn’t intervene.

Even going on vacation, for many, means checking work and personal emails and voicemails…a vacation is no longer a real vacation, just perhaps less work than going into the office.

On one hand, we have more information and connectedness at our fingertips than ever before, but on the other hand, we are living in virtual, and not physical, reality.

One example is how we sit with our families and friends, but every one is on their device and no one is interacting with each other in the room.

No wonder there is a movement now to “Turn it off!” or “Leave it at home (or work)!”–We are desperately trying to balance between cyberspace and personal space.

We can’t afford to be distracted or to distract ourselves, incessantly–we need to focus on what’s important, what needs to get done, and on those who love and need us.

Whether you do a zero email day or just leave it all behind vacation–everyone needs some time be human with each other again. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Shocking Bra To Stop Attackers

A Shocking Bra To Stop Attackers

In the medieval times, to help ensure fidelity of partners and protect against rape, they invented something called a chastity belt–I am sure you get it.

There is one for women and there is another one fitted for men.

Now in light of the horrible rape attacks in India, 3 female students in India’s SRM University have developed an anti-rape bra that literally shocks attackers.

The bra is called “SHE” (for Society Harnessing Equipment) and unlike the chastity belt of the olden-days, this bra according to Popular Science delivers 3,800 kv to attackers.

Women can activate the bra when they feel unsafe and it is pressure sensitive and is calibrated to be able to differentiate say a hug from something more violent.

The woman is insulated from getting shocked by a polymer lining on the inside.

The bra is also being outfitted so the pressure sensor sends a Bluetooth signal to your smartphone to send text message alerts to family or friends and the police with your GPS location.

I want to end with a quote from one of the students as to their inspiration for this innovative anti-rape bra:

“Studying in a convent girls school, we were always taught to be good to everyone and bear a cheerful smile. After stepping into the real, cruel world, we realized that our smile could not last for long as the threat to our purity and integrity always lingered on…Hence, we have initiated the idea of self-defense, which protect the women from domestic, social and workplace harassment.”

While I hope these students don’t believe that everyone in the world is cruel, I applaud these young women for doing something positive to help protect women worldwide.

I don’t know how practical this anti-rape bra will end up being (i.e. wearing something that produces a dangerous shock), this is a good step in thinking about how to make women less of a target and increase the risk to any would-be attacker. 😉

(Source Photo: adapted from here with attribution to Nicolas Sanguinetti)

Jumping Jean Saves The Day

Metro

This was beyond my belief this evening–it is a true story!

As I was getting off the train, my iPhone slipped out of the OtterBox clip on my belt and fell…but it didn’t just fall down, it fell at the precise moment that I was disembarking the train and it fell perfectly vertically right between the small space between the train and the platform. 

I couldn’t believe it–I don’t think I could drop it through that way myself even if I tried. 

Sure enough the phone is laying in the rock bed on the tracks. 

As the train pulled out, I was sure it was a goner, but apparently it survived not only the fall, but also the train running over it as it lay there.

A woman next to me, saw the whole thing unfold and she says to me after the train pulls out–“if you’re going to get it, you better hurry up and do it now!”

I must’ve looked completely astonished when she said that as I peered over to the signage that said the next train was arriving in literally 1 minute!

I looked around for someone from the Metro to help, but no one was there. 

Out of nowhere, a young man rushes forward and says, “I can get it” and before I know it–he jumps into the tracks with the train approaching.

He did it so fast, picked up the smartphone, and jumped back out onto the platform, all in the nick of time–I’ve never seen anything like it–it was completely amazing. 

I was in disbelief that anyone would do something so crazy as to jump in front of an oncoming train to get a dropped phone that didn’t even belong to them–simply to help a fellow human being. 

I tried to help grab him onto the platform, shook his hand, thanked him profusely, and offered him a reward–he refused to even take that. 

On the train we sat together, and he told me about how he came from Cameroon where he had little opportunity and was working two jobs here, including helping seniors and working at McDonalds. He told me how he liked to help people–and that was more than evident to everyone who witnessed this. 

In the end, the iPhone was still working and Jean strengthened my faith in good people still out there. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal from a prior Metro ride)

G-d’s Creation and Man’s Adaptation

Technology_everywhere

I took this photo today at the East View of Sugarloaf Mountain.

This guy is sitting on the rocks towards the summit of the mountain and doing of all things…technology–it’s REALLY everywhere!

He is nestled away in the brush and trees on this rock–off the mountain edge–and is typing away on a laptop computer.

Not what I was expecting in the middle of all this nature, but then again I was guilty of bringing along some of my tech toys too.

And at one point–on this–what felt to me–like a near vertical climb (but it wasn’t)–and standing lopsided on these protruding rocks, all of a sudden my smartphone rings.

“Hello,” I say grabbing onto a branch of a nearby tree.

On the other end, “Yes, the is so and so from Dr. whatever’s office, and your test results came back as this and that…”

No, it wasn’t bad news, thank G-d, but it was just so awkward getting this call up on the this lush mountain and in this way.

I thought for a moment–maybe, I shouldn’t have brought my phone and other technology stuff on the hike–then it would be just me and the beautiful nature–man and mother Earth–alone and as one.

That thought lasted about a full split second–yeah, that’s truly nice–but like Adam in the Garden of Eden without his fig leaf, I feel truly naked–without my technology.

The garden is a lot more inviting when I know the rest of the world is just some personal technology away.

Like the guy reading and working on his laptop nestled on the mountain–maybe what we have is the best of G-d’s creation and man’s adaptation–a beautiful marriage–good for the body and the soul.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

iPhone With Ears

Iphone_with_ears

Here’s to a very stylish iPhone case.

As you can see it has bunny ears, and in pink nonetheless.

No, the rabbit ears are not like on old televisions of yesteryear where they served as the antenna that you moved up, down, and around and still couldn’t get any decent reception.

These ears are not for listening, but rather for e-f-f-e-c-t–style that is.

This is some Washington D.C. cool right back at you! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Better A Rock Than A Pebble

Pebble is coming out with a Smartwatch that connects via wireless Bluetooth to either iPhone or Android devices.

It can be used for getting messages, including from Twitter and Facebook, as well as for caller id, music controls, GPS, and more.

And you can download more apps from the watch app store.

Pebble uses a high resolution ePaper display technology, has a vibrating motor, microprocessor, accelerometer, and the battery can run for up to 7 days.

It has been crowdfunded through Kickstarter website and has since April sold, pre-order, approximately 85,000 watches at a $115 pop.

While I like the idea of being able to get information in more convenient form factors whether as a watch, glasses (like Google is working on) or other device configuration, I think the Pebble has a way to go in terms of it’s particular design.

Honestly. the Pebble looks cheap and chincy to me. The device looks too plasticy. The colors seem more geared towards kids.

Additionally, the screen looks way too small to be very useful except for the most basic alerts, but maybe this is all to make lighter and more mobile.

I plan to wait for something a little more substantial and with a larger screen.

A ruggedized version would be especially appealing including water, shock, and dust resistant and so on.

Perhaps the crowdfunding model has worked for this smartwatch for people looking to get the latest technology or even make a fast buck, but I think a little more crowdsourcing, in terms of customer requirements and feedback, would make an even better product for all.

iGlasses, Your Next Smartphone

Yesterday, a hyped-up video came out by Google on Project Glass.

Basically this is Star Trek-type glasses that provide everything that’s on your smartphone plus some augmented reality, where real world sensation is augmented with computer-generated information.

The video shows the glasses integrated with functionality for email/messaging/phones calls, photos/videos, music, reminders, weather, maps/directions, transportation updates, and more.

Aside from the integration into the glasses themselves, they really didn’t demonstrate any major new technologies–and was sort of disappointing actually.

It reminds of Google+, which came out and didn’t add anything much new over FaceBook, and hence hasn’t really caught on–copycatting just isn’t enough in the high-tech industry, where real innovation is what’s valued.

While I like the idea of more and better ways of getting the types of information and functionality that’s on your smartphone, I really don’t think glasses is the way to go.

Frankly, after having LASIK surgery more than 12 years ago, I am so happy not to have to wear those obtrusive frames on my face anymore, and I certainly wouldn’t want to go back.

I would envision having these functions either built microscopically into contact lens or projected by mini-wearable cameras in front of you as a true reality overlay–and I think Minority Report thought of that one first.

The only way that I would even consider wearing glasses for this was if Apple made them and called them iGlasses. 😉

Robot Firefighters To The Rescue

Meet Octavia, a new firefighting robot from the Navy’s Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR) in Washington, D.C.Octavia and her brother Lucas are the the latest in firefighting technology.These robots can hear commands, see through infrared cameras, identify patterns, and algorithmically make decisions on diverse information sets.While the current prototypes move around like a Segway, future versions will be able to climb ladders and get around naval vessels.It is pretty cool seeing this robot spray flame retardant to douse the fire, and you can imagine similar type robots shooting guns on the front line at our enemies.

Robots are going to play an increasingly important role in all sorts of jobs, and not only the repetitive ones where we put automatons, but also the dangerous situations (like the bomb disposal robots), where robots can get out in front and safeguard human lives.

While the technology is still not there yet–and the robot seems to need quite a bit of instruction and hand waving–you can still get a decent glimpse of what is to come.

Robots with artificial intelligence and natural language processing will be putting out those fires all by themselves…and then some.

Imagine a robot revolution is coming, and what we now call mobile computing is going to take on a whole new meaning with robots on the go–autonomously capturing data, processing it, and acting on it.

I never did see an iPhone or iPad put out a fire, but Octavia and brother Lucas will–and in the not too distant future!