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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Software stealthily installed

Software stealthily installed on most modern Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones secretly chronicles all user’s phone experience, ostensibly so carriers and phone manufacturers can do quality control, but chronicling includes for some mysterious reason even key logging, and all data is sent to the software manufacturer secretly.

Thinking I'm reminiscent of Orwell's 1984 ?  a little too paranoid ? Once again nagging about the significant impact cellphones can have regarding our privacy ?  

I'm seriously considering changing to anonymous pre-paid. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Apple is no longer smart phone vendor #1

Apple is no longer vendor #1 in the global smart phone market. Long live Samsung, the new king!

I always knew this day will come.
Every open-architectures believer knew it deep in his heart.
And yet, I - like many others - feared that the chaos which freedom brings along will make close-architectures the survivor of the fittest in this stage of the information revolution.

Happily, the late Steve Jobs was wrong, and freedom and openness won this round as well. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I used to think of major crackdowns as steps taken by law enforcement agencies against drug dealers, or other "blue color" criminals, involving police cars closing upon a scene, arrests being made and physical objects being involved.

A news item telling of the U.S federal authorities seizing more than a 130 domain names as part of an Intellectual Property crime fighting initiative, especially timed with the high tide of the holiday seasons shopping beginning, made me realize - once again - that times are changing. 

twine may computerize your furniture

Seven months ago, writing on the coming age of pervasive computing (all things computerized), I wrote that I don't think this age is here yet. I'm happy to say that I believe I was wrong.

A Techcrunch article taught me about Twine, an ingenious gadget, which may be the solution for making home equipment computerized.

Twine is a small rubber square which comes with WiFi connectivity and several possible sensors. It connects to a web app which enables programming the sensors to send messages when an even takes place. For example, you can glue the Twine to your laundry machine, and program the accelerometer to message that the laundry is over, when it no longer senses movement. Twine can SMS, Twitter, Email and send HTTP requests.

Techcrunch tells that "The basic Twine comes with an internal temperature sensor and an internal accelerometer, and the Twine guys are making optional external sensors including a magnetic switch for doors, a moisture sensor and a breakout board for those of you that want to create your own DIY sensor action. " There are clearly many possibilities for many sensors and many applications.

All of a sudden, it is not very complicated or expensive to make regular furniture and home equipment into computerized hardware. This is clearly not the whole solution. Developments in Robotics, electricity, electronics, communications, computing and above all - in design will make the computerized age much more an age of things being done than just data being transferred. But Twine is a clear step within the space of the pervasive age, and not just another leading to it.

Btw, you can be an early twiner. They are seeking funding on kickstarter

Friday, November 25, 2011

Siri vs. Tellme, an Australian technology website, did a very lovely comparison of Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Tellme, which put the voice-operation capabilities of representative competing smart phones to the test. This comparison is following a claim of Microsoft’s Craig Mundie (Chief Research and Strategy Officer) that Microsoft had similar capabilities in Windows Phone for more than a year. Viewing the video comparison  you are left with two possible conclusions-

  1. Microsoft's voice recognition technology still sucks. 
  2. Someone made an unfair comparison, and used a well-trained iPhone with an untrained Windows 7 phone. 
As I've been playing around with Windows 7 voice operation capabilities for a while (on a desktop), I suspect that both explanations are true. I've seen better performance from Windows than displayed in this comparison, and therefore I suspect there is a deep difference in the training level of both smart phones (training=letting the voice recognition system study your speech patterns). But I have seen it making some wonderful blunders, even after some training hours invested.... I can't say that Siri answered all the fantasies I've been developing hearing the hype around Apple's new development, but one has to admit that at least on this Video, it sure looked as one sexy technological advancement.  If I were in Microsoft's shoes, I'd be working harder than trying to sell Siri as a marketing mirage. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

is Facebook decaying ?

An interesting article by CNET's Molly Wood criticizes the new news sharing model of Facebook. As it happens frequently, the dialogue which developed in the talkback section is just as interesting and enlightening as the article itself.

Naturally, one cannot make serious conclusions based on public opinion as expressed in talkbacks, because you cannot get a reliable statistical sample. But just like other forms of opinion polls, that article and the people who felt a need to respond to it, mostly in a supportive manner, appear to wave a very important flag for Facebook: news feeds are become over loaded with irrelevant information and digital clatter. It appears that the same steps which were intended to get a maximum output from the Social Graph, might threaten the integrity of the social network.

Facebook has displayed so far an impressive flexibility and adaptability,  but once again, just like regarding privacy, a clear conflict of interests arises. While Facebook aspires for heavily-loaded news feeds, Users aspire for interesting and meaningful news feeds. A gentle balance has to be maintained, and as Facebook's IPO may be coming nearer, it might be that the pressure to display a nice financial display will make that balance impossible to keep.

But lets not be overly critical here. Facebook is in a sense one of the greatest scientific experiments going on nowadays. It might be a long term phenomena, just as computing. It might be a short term phenomena, Just like its predecessor, myspace (still alive, still declining). No one can really tell what is the best strategy for the creature called the-largest-social-network-ever, until after such a strategy has been tried and tested.

Time will tell... 

Monday, November 7, 2011

surfing the net

During a small unrelated research, I've suddenly ran into a question I haven't wondered about before: who coined the term "surfing the net". Another one of those terms which surprisingly did not rise of their own accord. It turns out Librarian Jean Armour Polly is responsible for the term, as she herself tells about it, it came to her while writing an article on the experience of using the young early '90s internet, and searching for a term that will express the fun, the skill and the endurance needed, as well as a term that would evoke a sense of randomness, chaos and some danger. Thus was coined the term "Information Surfer". 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Turns out Apple almost had Kinect..... but missed it ....

An interesting bit of ancient history (2008), tells how Apple missed an opportunity to purchase  the technology that is currently named Kinect by Microsoft.

One would claim that people in Apple were getting to rigid for their own good, but considering the work done in Apple at the time on the iPad, it is probably an example of an old principle: you can't do everything in the same quality. Focus, as a key to success, means there will be failures and mishaps and bad decisions.

At least for now, it seems that Apple's focus was better in those years than Microsoft. Will the future prove that Kinect was such a great miss? or was Apple's focus the better one?

Only time will tell...