Dragon Power

In honor of the amazing (2nd to last) episode last night of Game of Thrones…

I am posting this artistic Dragon. 

That dragon last night sure was able to do a lot of damage. 

It was a very dramatic and sad episode. 

I won’t give it away. 

But an air force of dragons can certainly do quite well. 

Dropping some serious firepower is what they do.  😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Terrible TV

IMG_4280.jpg

So we bought a new big screen television. 


That’s exciting, right?


We brought it home from Costco. 


And we gave our prior model away to a family member. 


It was a shlep to move that $2,000 Panasonic behemoth from 2007!


By the time we got back home and connected our new LG TV, oy vey what a disappointment. 


It had this brilliant display in “test mode” that when hooked up to the cable box looked dark and worse than lackluster. 


Even when fidgeting with the settings to offset the dark screen, the gorgeous test display mode still came out looking like crap in actual tv mode. 


But the worst part was that there was a black line down the middle right of the screen. 


When we looked it up on the Internet, it was a known error. 


The instructions said to call LG and make a service appointment. 


WTF!  To heck with this sh*tty TV–it’s supposed to be brand new and actually work–so it’s going back to Costco where this crappy product came from. 


I dragged this widescreen TV back to the store and put it on one of their flat wide carts. 


The problem was that the wheels on one side of the cart were busted, and it kept turning into the fence, store shelves, and wall.


When the lady behind the returns desk called me for my turn, I tried to push the cart and it wouldn’t move. 


Not being able to budge this thing,  I gave it shove forward and the TV went flying from upright to horizontal–SMASH!


The lady behind the returns counter goes to me sarcastically:


“So what was wrong with it BEFORE you just knocked it over???”


Well to make a long story short, I returned the lousy LG television and got a refund. 


And instead ordered a new Samsung curved TV from Amazon–hope this one works!


As for the horrible quality control of today’s electronics–it’s a shame that they can’t seem to make them without problems–they’ve only been making televisions for like 100 years or so. 


In fact, we recently bought a Dell laptop and within like 5-6 weeks, the motherboard died.  


As you can see, the vendors are wringing profits from the products they are making at the customer’s expense. 


There is no quality control to speak of–instead be ready to return the junk electronics to the garbage vendors that make them. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

tURNING yOUR dEVICE aGAINST yOU!

Eavesdropping
So interesting article in BBC about the Samsung’s “Listening TV.”



This TV has voice activated controls and they don’t just take commands, but…



“If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”



So aside from hackers (and spies) being able to turn your phone and computer mics, cameras, and GPS location data on and off to surveil and eavesdrop on you, now the dumb television set can listen in as well. 



You can be heard, seen, and found…whether you know it or not. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal with eyes and ears from here and here with attribution to Firas and Simon James)

Why Innovation Is On The Decline

Light on off
You’ve experienced it firsthand, innovation is slowing down (and yes, it’s quite disappointing!).  



Do you feel compelled to get a new smartphone, TV, or just about anything else…or do you already basically have the latest and greatest technology, even if it’s a couple of years old now?



But imagine, if something great and new did come out…we’d all be dancing in the streets and eager to buy. 



That’s right, innovation is not what it was…according to the Wall Street Journal, there is “An Innovation Slowdown At The Tech Giants.”



The question is why is this happening?



No, the tech companies are not copying Washington politics (sleepy, sleepy…)! 



But instead, we may have become our own worst enemies to our ability to innovate anew. 



The New York Times today explains that our minds have a toggle switch between being focused on a task and being free to let your mind wonder and innovate. 



You can’t do both at the same time, no you can’t.



And these days, we have so flooded ourselves with information overload with everything from 24/7 work and “big data,” email/texting, social media, and thousands of cable stations and billions of YouTube videos, and more that we are forever engaged in the what’s now, and are not allowing ourselves to rest, recuperate, and think about the potential for what’s new. 



If we want more from the future (innovation, creative problem solving, and sound decision making), then we need to allow some space for our minds to restore itself.



Whether that means daily downtimes, weekly walks in the park, monthly mediations, or semiannual vacations…we need to stop the diminishing returns of constant work and information arousal, and take a little mind breather. 



Instead of chugging along our insane nonstop routines of endless activities and firehose information engagement, we will do ourselves and our children and grandchildren a great service by pulling the train over for some rest and relaxation…and only then will real innovation begin again. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Innovation Infertility

The 7 Skinny Cows

Many of you may have probably the seen the movie, “Children of Men,”–it is themed around a time in the future when women are infertile (because of pathology, pollution, drugs, or whatever) and the world is in chaos–for what is life without children to carry on?

Fortunately, in the movie, after 18 years, one woman does get pregnant and bears a child and there is hope in the scientific community for a resurgence of humankind.

Unfortunately, we are now in a similar period of technology, where big innovation of yesterday has come grinding to a miserable saunter.

When the biggest news leaking out of superstar innovator, Apple is the potential for an iWatch–uh, not exactly earth shattering, we know we are in innovator’s hell!

And vendors from Apple to Samsung and Sony trying to come out with some sort of voice activated television–again, who doesn’t hate the TV clicker, but really this is not going to revolutionize our entertainment center days.

With hundreds of thousands of apps available for everything from social networking, eCommerce, gaming, and more, it seems like there are more copycat apps then anything else coming out these days–where’s the real wow factor?

Microsoft can’t find it’s way in a mobile world, the mighty Intel has been supplanted by ARM with mobile chips, Marissa Mayer is trying to figure out how to remake the jump for joy, Yahoo, relevant again, as are the Vanderhook brothers and Justin Timberlake trying to do for MySpace.

With the overemphasis on the form factor making bigger and smaller sizes and shapes for computing devices, we seesaw between iPod Classics and Nanos and between iPads and Minis. But where are the great functional enhancements? Yeah, ask Siri.

Similarly in computing architecture, we have latched unto cloud computing as the next great savior of IT-mankind, ignoring the repackaging again of the mainframe into a cool new computing model again, and relegating the prior go-to architecture of distributed computing as the evil twin. Sure, we can save some bucks until the pendulum swings back toward more decentralization and agility again.

In social computing, with Facebook what can you say–it’s got a billion users, but virtually not a single one would pay a dime to use it. If not for marketers scooping up our personal information online and advertisers annoying us with their flashing and protruding pop-ups, we continue to trade privacy for connectedness, until we lose too much of ourselves to identity thieves and snooping sources, and we fall back clamoring for more protection.

In security, we are getting clobbered by cyber intrusions, cyber espionage, and cyber attacks–everyday! We can’t seem to figure out the rules of cyberspace or how to protect ourselves in it. We can’t even find enough qualified people to fight the cyber fight.

I was surprised that even magazine, Fast Company, which prides itself on finding the next great innovation out there, states this month (April 2013), “Growing uncertainty in tech is creating chaos for startups, consumers, and investors…nobody has a non-obvious new social business model that can scale.”

As in the movie, Children of Men, we are suffering from an infertility of innovation–whether from burnout, a focus on short-term profit instead of long-term R&D investments, declining scores in STEM, or a lack of leadership–we are waiting for the next pregnancy so we can have hope again, but are disappointed that so many are false positives or overhyped prophets.

One of the things, I am most excited about is Google Glass and their concept of augmented reality, but the glasses are geeky and will need to be package in a lot more eloquent solution to really be practical in our futures.

The next great thing will come–life is a great cycle–but as in the Bible with 7 fat cows and 7 skinny cows, leading to the great famine in Egypt, we are now seeing lots of skinny cows walking around and it is darn scary. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

Hello From Moon Colony

Moon_colony

What can be more thrilling than the promise of space exploration and the virtually limitless possibilities that it holds.

 

Since the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, the first manned mission to land on the moon, we have dreamed of the next step in terms of an actual colony of humans living there.

 

In 1975, the science fiction TV show Space: 1999, that many of you may still remember, envisioned what this space colony could look like (until a nuclear mishap sends the colony hurling through space).

 

From 1984, you can see attached, a NASA’s artist rendering of a colonized moon along with astronauts and lunar rover.

 

Now in 2012, with the presidential campaigning in full swing, we are hearing the promise of such a manned lunar colony once again and it is still just as exciting as ever.

 

One candidate, called for the lunar colony to be bustling with commercial activity by 2020–wouldn’t that be amazing!

 

While it was funny when this candidate said that once the colony reached 13,000 American inhabitants, they can petition to become a state, it also somehow brought it into a new perspective and made it so real–like could this really happen one day?

 

The idea of expanding beyond our limits here on Earth, making new discoveries, tapping into potential new resources, and harnessing ever greater innovation from such exploration can bring hope of a better, brighter tomorrow to all.

 

Note to self: must haves for a lunar colony–aside from a place of worship, a great fitness center and some nice restaurants, we’ll need the Internet, iPhone, Netflix, and Xbox (and Facebook would be a plus) 😉

 

(Source Photo: here)