Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Apple iPad makes me want to Vomit

A few days ago, Steve Jobs stood proudly on stage and announced the new product that everyone in the industry had been lusting for and that he and Apple Computer hope will bring sexy back to the mobile computing space. Amid rounding applause and wolf whistles, Jobs extolled the virtues of the new device, called the iPad, and tried desperately to position it as the next 'Big Thing'.

I have to admit that, as I watched the announcement, I was impressed. I found myself really wanting an iPad and justifying to myself all sorts of reasons why the device would be a well spent $500. But, as I continued to watch the presentation, it dawned on me that the iPad is really nothing more than a cleverly packaged, greatly hyped, much larger and less convenient, version of the iPod Touch with a feminine product sounding name.

As the days wore on, I realize just how big of a fraud Jobs was perpetuating against the electronics buying public. Here was a device that was a repackaged version of another device but made bigger and less portable. Now, only a few days of hype later, hearing the very name of this useless piece of electronics waste simply makes me want to vomit.

Yes, I'll say it: the Apple iPad is useless. It's not portable, it's not innovative, it's not convenient, it has no standard USB ports, and it forces you to run everything through iTunes before it can be installed on the device. Oh, just to make it more fun, they didn't include a camera either - not even a crappy one that takes blurry photos of drunk college girls on Spring Break.

Still, all I see on Twitter is how "innovative" and "game changing" the device is. How? What does it do that the iPod Touch doesn't do? One would think such a sexy, cool, and game changing device would at least, oh I don't know, have handwriting recognition? You would think it would have some new take on the technology laid down by the iPod or maybe have a ubiquitous data connection like the Amazon Kindle does. Something, anything that sets this apart and makes it better than just a sexy design.

You would think that, being an Apple product, one of those statements would be true. But you'd be wrong. The only thing this device has on its side is the battery life and the built in graphics. And I'm not so sure about the graphics.

If I had not seen it with my own eyes and only read the specs, I'd say the iPad was a clever hoax designed to play against those who will eat up any kind of Apple propaganda; that Steve Jobs was sitting back with his feet on his desk and saying "Got em!". The sad fact is, that's only half true.

Jobs is indeed sitting back at his desk saying "Got em" but the joke isn't just on Apple fanboys. No, this joke is on the entire industry and we're all seemingly buying into the Jobs dog and pony show without any question or challenge.

Want a real modern tablet? Look at the stuff from Dell or Acer or HP. Those are the true innovators in the space. Those are where the sexy devices are. Compared to them the iPad is just one big iWannaBe.

Don't get me wrong: I want to love the iPad. I want to write glowing reviews about how everything is different now because of the device. But how can I? This device has already received this sort of press - 3 years ago when Apple introduced the iPhone and iPod Touch.

The only difference this time is the Jobs hype machine is in better form and more people are willing to buy the dream.

In reality, there's nothing to see here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Google releases new Chrome extension for Google Voice and it rocks

On yesterday, Google announced the official release of a new extension for their Chrome browser aimed at making accessing content in your Google Voice account easier. The extension, which requires the latest version of Google Chrome in order to work, makes interacting with your Google Voice number incredibly simple and puts just about everything right in the browser. It also supports 'click to call' functionality that works similarly to the way Skype's Firefox extension does.

Since the introduction of Voice, Google has proven that it takes telephony very seriously and that the company intends to compete in the space very aggressively. Voice boast free calls to any number in the United States, unlimited incoming and outgoing SMS messaging, and a host of other features like call hunt that make this service an absolute necessity for anyone who uses a phone for more than basic calling.

Until now, the only annoyance I could find with Voice was why I had to visit my inbox to send and receive messages, listen to voicemail, or even check how many messages I had. While I long for the day when Google integrates this functionality into Google Talk, this extension is an impressive and needed step in the right direction.

Using the Google Voice extension, you can:


  • Send SMS messages and make calls without having to go to your Inbox

  • See how many messages you have waiting and read voicemail transcripts

  • Click on any phone number in a web page and call that number

  • Listen to your voicemail without going to your inbox (coming soon)



While I'm often critical of software makers, I have to say that Google certainly has a way of getting things right. The company knows what is useful, fun, and cool, and knows exactly how to package it in an attractive package then go about making it even better quickly. Google Voice is no exception to this and I look forward to what Google has planned for this young product.

If you don't have a Google Voice number yet, go to http://voice.google.com and sign up for an invite. Alternately, if you have a friend who's a member of Google Voice, you can ask that they send you an invite which might be a little faster than waiting on one from the company. But, whatever you do, get yourself on Google voice and start taking advantage of one of the most advanced calling platforms on the planet.

Once you go Google, you never go back.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Recovering Conservative's Story

"Hi, my name is Anthony, and I'm a recovering conservative".

While I've never actually spoken those words, they are the very words that define the shift in my political ideology that's happened over the last few years. I used to be a proud conservative. I worked the campaigns, attended the rallies, and did everything in my power to ensure whatever conservative candidate was running beat his 'evil liberal' opponent because, after all, the right was right.

That's all changed over the last few years. I no longer feel comfortable defining myself by such a politically and socially charged label. Moreover, I no longer feel comfortable dismissing people and ideas simply because of the political labels attached to them. The fact of the matter is that there are good people and good ideas on both sides of the political isle and I refuse to attack or dismiss any idea based on the political leanings of the person who presents it.

There was also a time when I closely identified with the conservative movement because of their social leanings: conservative, non-progressive, status quo society made sense to me. But then I realized that, many conservatives, use their politics and beliefs as a way to discriminate and exclude. You're a good person if you're white, straight, and Christian, but we're largely not interested in you if you're any color of brown, gay or lesbian, and non-Christian". Again, it's the dismissing of people and ideas based solely on labels and it's just not something I could participate in and keep a clear conscious.

So for a number of years, I've chosen to label myself a 'moderate'. It's a label that affords me comfort in whatever group I happen to align myself with politically or socially. It means I can be as comfortable and accepted at a rally for a liberal Democrat as I am at one for the most conservative Republican. It means I see good ideas in both liberal and conservative thought and that I don't want a society that only embraces one because, more than anything, I want social and political balance.

I do not believe President Obama is the black Messiah, nor do I believe he's the Antichrist. I see good in much of what George Bush did and I see a lot of damage and death because of him as well. I believe everyone has ideas and policies that fail miserably as well as those that make them a hero.

I've been toying with writing this post for a few days now and a friend asked why I felt the need to do so. I suppose it's because we live in such a politically charged environment, I wanted to let others know that it's OK not to pick a side and be fluid in your thinking. It's OK to agree with the Republicans on one thing, the Democrats on another, and neither on yet another. That fluid, pick the best from everything and put it together to form a whole, way of thinking is one of the things that makes this country great.

And I refuse to allow Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, or Rachel Maddow to tell me what I should think or why I should think it.

I choose to make up my own mind free of political ideology.
I see the value of all thought and every idea.
I am a moderate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Rules for 2010

With all the horrible things going on in our world, it's important that we not allow it to cost us our sense of humor. While things are tough all over, remembering to smile every now and again can often change your entire day.

I came across these 'new rules' on another website and they made me smile so I thought I'd share them with you.

Enjoy!

NEW RULES FOR 2010

New Rule:Stop giving me that pop-up ad for classmates.com! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the basketball team is doing these
days--mowing my lawn.

New Rule:Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to
contain?? Trout?

New Rule:Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: lucky bastards.

New Rule: If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're a dope. If you're a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men.

New Rule:Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.

New Rule:There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That's your flavored water.

New Rule:Stop screwing with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that's square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, his ass will be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.

New Rule:The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf Grande half- soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one sweet-n'-Low, and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge asshole.

New Rule: I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing "Enter," verifying the amount, deciding no, I don't want cash back, and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.

New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to "beef with broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.

New Rule: Competitive eating isn't a sport. It's one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the U.S. Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What's next, competitive farting??? Oh wait!? They're already doing that--It's called "The Howard Stern Show."

New Rule: I don't need a bigger mega M&Ms. If I'm extra hungry for M&Ms, I'll go nuts and eat two.

New Rule: If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other show

New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's the white people
version of looting.

New Rule: No more bathroom attendants. After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint like I just had sex with George Michael. I can't even tell if he's supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your web cam, dude. I just want to wash my hands.

New Rule:When I ask how old your toddler is, I don't need to know in months. "27 Months." "He's two," will do just fine. He's not a cheese. And I didn't really care in the first place.

New Rule: If you ever hope to be a credible adult and want a job that pays better than minimum wage, then for God's sake don't pierce or tattoo every available piece of flesh. If so, then plan your future around saying, "Do you want fries
with that?"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What can IT do to support Haiti

As the crisis continue to unfold in Haiti, the most important thing we in the outside world can do is donate money. The Haitian people are in desperate need of potable water, food, medicine, and basic medical supplies. However, I believe there's more those of us who live in the IT world can do to offer this devastated people our support: infrastructure.

Most of Haiti's infrastructure was destroyed during the earthquake this weekend. Phone don't work, what little Internet access they had within the country is now either non-existent or spotty, and mobile phone, without electricity to charge them, are starting to fail after nearly 72 hours without reliable power. This is an opportunity for the IT community to truly step up and show that we're much more than bits and cool web services but that our profession can truly benefit the common man who might not ever even know what an email looks like.

I'd like to encourage anyone with IT skills to think of creative ways they can help the people of Haiti. While you may not be able to go to Haiti yourself, many organizations are already on the ground and need remote workers to help set up equipment, manage networks, and provide IT support to field workers.

Right now, I'm in touch with three seperate companies to get donations of computer and satelite hardware that will be used for public telephone and Internet kiosks throughout Port-au-Prince. This will allow the population to interact better with the outside world, make and receive calls to loved ones abroad (possibly including video calls depending on bandwidth), and hopefully feel connected to those of us who care so deeply about them.

Everyone can do something. Perhaps you can convince your company to donate money or equipment, perhaps you can provide remote field support, or perhaps you can even go to Haiti as part of the relief effort. Regardless of your job, we are all in a position to help and it is our absolute duty to our brothers and sisters there to do whatever we can to make sure they have the supplies and support they need - both emotional and physical.

What can you to do help?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why Apple should kill its tablet in the womb

Over the last few months, there’s been a lot of talk about an Apple branded tablet PC and how it might effect, change, or even set the market.  Personally, I think it’s much ado about nothing and Apple introducing a tablet PC won’t even make a ripple in the market.

Tablet PC sales are small compared to notebook, netbook, and desktop sales and the only people who are truly interested in tablets are businesses that require their employees to be lightly mobile. Think hospitals, delivery services, doctors offices, that sort of thing.  The average home user has no need for this type of technology and, while sales might be strong to begin with, the devices will soon be relegated to the ‘used to use’ pile and sales will flatline.

It would be a much better investment if Apple were to work on an affordable, sexy, netbook. Something that had all or most of the features that a MacBook had but a slower processor, less memory, solid state hard disks, and a smaller form factor. People would be interested in that sort of technology and there would be an actual market need for it. A netbook: huge success, a tablet: total waste of money and time.

My prediction is that the Apple Tablet will never see the light of day.  It’s going to be one of those things Steve Jobs hypes at conference but kills in production. If it does survive the assembly line, I don’t believe it’ll see its first anniversary before being pulled from the market.  There’s just no need.

For everyone’s sake, I hope Jobs is smarter than this. I hope Apple is sexier than this too.