2014 The Bad News Goes On

Bad News

What a 2014 it’s been as the world continues it’s descent into madness.  


If Ebola, the War with Hamas in Gaza, the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 killing 298 including 80 children and 15 crew, the intransigence of Iran on Nuclear Weapons, employment still near a 30-year low, the National Debt hitting over $18 trillion (and growing $2.43 billion a day!) and the suicide of comedian, Robin Williams wasn’t enough…


– Criminal Records: 1 in 3 adult Americans (i.e. 80 million people) now have a criminal record…hmm, if the average family has around 2.5 people then just about 1 person per household has a criminal record. Are you starting to look around you now?


– Economy: Uber, yes, it’s a online “ride-sharing” (i.e. taxi) service, but after it’s recent IPO, Uber is worth over $41 billion dollars (more than Delta, Charles Schwab, Salesforce.com, and Kraft Foods). Someone’s getting taken for a ride. Is this even surprising considering the S&P is priced over 27 times average 10-year earnings (while the historical average is only 16), the result of pumping the economy with short term easy money policies.  


– Cyber Attacks: After a blithering cyber attack by North Korea, Sony withdraws the release of the movie, The Interview, surrendering to cyber terror, and putting us all at greater risk in the future because cyber crime does pay!


– Islamic Terrorism: While ISIS advances in Syria and Iraq, 132 school children (mostly ages 6-18) plus 9 adults massacred by the Taliban this week in Peshawar, many shot in the head and others lit on fire with gasoline and burnt to death so they are unrecognizable. This only 9 months after the April kidnapping by Boko Haram of more than 280 schoolgirls in Nigeria, which was repeated this week with the kidnapping of another 185 woman and children.


– Russian Militarism: The Great Bear is back with a vengeance as Putin continues driving Russian nationalism and buildup of advanced weapons, including WMD (e.g. nukes), aircraft, submarines, and ICBMs to counter alleged “Western Aggression.” And despite, the rubbles’ massive decline, Putin promises an economic comeback within 2 years–he’ll wait out the West and hold Crimea hostage and spoil it for everything it’s worth


So where are we going next–more hell on Earth or at some point a turnaround towards heaven again?   


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Sony Wig Nut

The Sony Wig Nut

Sony has so missed the mobile technology revolution.

In desperation, Sony has filed a patent for the SmartWig.

How incredibly useful (uh, not)?

Your faux hairdo can dial your hairdresser and make your next appointment for you.

It can locate via GPS the nearest salon.

And the SmartWig can even take selfies while you admire yourself in the mirror.

While Sony is goofing around again, and hasn’t had a hit since the to die for Sony televisions of yore (and let’s not forget the Walkman from 1980s), Google is moving out with bravado on Glass.

Google is getting display space for Glass in eyeglass retailers, and working with opticians to make prescription lens eye-Glass.

Let’s just say one company gets wearable technology and the other is hiding under wigs in The Technology Hall of Shame.

Then again, one customer may be interested in talking with Sony—the CIA for undercover operations.

Maybe a Smart Groucho Marx mustache that automatically shakes out the soup after you eat would be a cool new product, as well–go for it Sony!

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Annetta)

They Aren’t Smartwatches…they Are Dumbwatches

They Aren't Smartwatches...they Are Dumbwatches

The Wall Street Journal asks “Is it Time for Smartwatches?”

With the arrival of the first generation of smartwatches–Samsung Galaxy Gear, Pebble, and Sony Smartwatch–we have hit the rock bottom in innovate and design thinking.

These watches look cheap–flimsy plastic or ultra-thin aluminum or even stainless doesn’t cut it as a fashion statement when larger and substantial is in.

The screens are too small to be user-centric–let along there being any room for a physical or soft keyboard.

You can’t really read on it and you can’t type on it (any significant form of email, texting)–except by voice command. Ah, let me talk into my wrist, no!

Also, for videos or gaming, the small rectangular screens aren’t of any useful function–how much of Madonna’s new wild getup can you see or how far can you fling that angry bird on your wrist?

Downloading music on the Gear, uh, also no.

Taking photos with a 1.9 megapixel camera on the Galaxy Gear at a time when the 8 megapixels on the iPhone is running way short is good for maybe a James Bond, but not anyone else.

Plus for smartwatches like the Gear, you still need to pair it with a companion smartphone for it to work, so you now have added expense (between about $150 for the Pebble and $299 for the Gear smartwatch) with no significant added benefit.

For the Gear, you also have a separate charger because the watch only has a battery life of about a day, while for the Pebble and Sony Smartwatch 2, you have between half a week to a week.

And believe it or not, the Galaxy Gear is not compatible with their own Galaxy S4 smartphone–oh, so very smart.

My 16-year old daughter said, “If they had this 10 years ago maybe, but now, who needs it!”

No, Google Glass has it right–concept yes, fashion still to be worked out–and the smartwatches for now, have it wrong, wrong, wrong.

If you buy it, you’ve bought yourself a very dumb watch.

Maybe the iWatch can save the day? 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Nathan Chantrell)

Sony, From Hipster to Nerd

Sony, From Hipster to Nerd

Gone are the days when Sony made innovative products like the Walkman and great products like televisions that you willingly paid top dollar for.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18-24 February 2013) reports on Sony that “after eight years of losses in the TV business, it projects a $215 million profit this year–only after selling its New York headquarter for $1.1 billion.”

LA Times reported last May that Sony announced its largest ever loss for year-end March 31, 2012 of $5.6 billion, nearly double its prior-year loss of $3.2 billion. They also announced layoffs for 10,000 employees.

Sony is reorganizing and shedding businesses (displays, chemicals, etc.) and according to Bloomberg looking to generate 70% of sales and 85% of profit from just 3 remaining businesses–cameras, smartphones/tablets, and gaming.

However, Sony has lost its way…

Maybe it started in the 80’s when Sony lost out in VCR (videocassette recorder) format wars with its Betamax to VHS, and it continues today with a lack of innovation in the mobile technology marketplace. Anybody want to buy a Sony Ericsson phone? Ah, no!

Additionally, if you have ever been to a Sony retail store–probably not–they are a truly sad imitation of Apple and virtually nobody is in there. Hello–echo.

Sony is not only losing the technology war, the retail war, and the market share (it has only 4.5% of the phone market according to the Wall Street Journal) and earnings war, but also the branding war and they have just become plain uncool.

Sony’s products have names that are unrecognizable, unpronounceable, or just plain alphabet soup.

Do you want to buy a MacBook or a Vaio, iPhone or Xperia, Kindle Fire or PRST, a Sharp Elite or XBR, an Xbox 360 or a PS4?

The answer is obvious to everyone but Sony. 😉

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

>Blu-ray and HD DVD and Enterprise Architecture

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User-centric EA focuses on providing useful and usable information and services to end-users and in satisfying user requirements.

In the high definition format wars, the sense of User-centric EA seems to have been lost, as Blu-ray and HD DVD has been set as the new target architecture for optical disc formats. As Stephanie Prange, Home Media Magazine, editor in chief states, “the battle has confused consumers…[and] many people don’t [even] see the need for high-definition anyway.

What is Blu-ray and HD DVD?

  • “Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD), is the name of a next-generation optical disc format jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of the world’s leading consumer electronics, personal computer and media manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson). The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. This extra capacity combined with the use of advanced video and audio codecs will offer consumers an unprecedented HD experience…seven of the eight major movie studios (Disney, Fox, Warner, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) have released movies in the Blu-ray format and six of them (Disney, Fox, Sony, Warner, Lionsgate and MGM) are releasing their movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format.” (http://www.blu-ray.com/info/)

  • “HD DVD delivers true high definition video content on the next generation optical disc format approved by the DVD Forum. With up to six times the resolution of DVD, HD DVDhttp://www.tacp.toshiba.com/hddvd/) offers a superior video experience.” (

So what is the conflict between Blu-ray and HD DVDs?

HD DVD is currently in a ‘format war’ with rival format Blu-ray Disc, to determine which of the two formats will become the leading carrier for high-definition content to consumers.” As of November 27, 2007, 344 HD DVD titles have been released in the USA. As of November 25, 2007, 415 titles had been released on Blu-ray Disc in the United States (Wikipedia). Not only have more titles been released in Blue-ray, but Blue-rays have outsold HD DVDs by 2-to-1 in the U.S. last year. (Reuters)

On 4 January 2008, Warner Brothers studio announced that “it would exclusively release high-definition DVDs in Sony’s Blu-ray format, a big blow to Toshiba’s rival HD DVD technology.” (Reuters) Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Disney have earlier done the same. Of the big American distributors, only Paramount and Universal Pictures continue to release for HD DVD. (Wikipedia)

So for now, Blu-ray is looking to be the winner in the HD format war.

How are consumers being affected?

Consumers are asking is whether they will have to dump and replace all their DVDs (something that the movie studios are hoping for)─this is similar to all the record collections that went in the trash after CDs were launched. I found the question online with a favorable answer for consumers.

“Will Blu-ray be backwards compatible with DVD?

Yes, several leading consumer electronics companies (including Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Pioneer, Sharp and LG) have already demonstrated products that can read/write CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs using a BD/DVD/CD compatible optical head, so you don’t have to worry about your existing DVD collection becoming obsolete. In fact, most of the Blu-ray players coming out will support upscaling of DVDs to 1080p/1080i, so your existing DVDDVD, the format is far too popular to not be supported. The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) expects every Blu-ray Disc device to be backward compatible with DVDs.” (http://www.blu-ray.com/faq/) collection will look even better than before. While it’s up to each manufacturer to decide if they want to make their products backwards compatible with

What is wrong with the new high-definition format release of Blu-ray and HD DVD from a User-centric EA perspective?

While the new Blu-ray and HD DVD technologies may be a leap ahead from a technology perspective, the introduction of these products has been dismal from a User-centric EA perspective. Consumers have been caught up in the technology tug-of-war between these high definition formats─similar to the way consumers were ping-ponged between the old VHS and Beta formats. Additionally, the marketing and communications to consumers of why they need Blue-ray or HD DVD has been ineffective if not more or less absent. Finally, aside from the studio and technology companies wanting to make more money on replacements of DVDs, it has been unclear whether there is even user demand for the new format. This has been another “technology for technology’s sake” initiative by Sony and Toshiba, rather than true business needs driving technology.