Consumer Technology, Wearables

Thoughts on the Apple Watch

applewatch

I’ve written before on my thoughts regarding wearable technology, and the short version of that post is that wearable technology seems to be ugly, expensive, and lacking any real use.  Of course, I hinged that post on a question: what is Apple going to do with their watch?

Now, four months later, I have an answer.  It’s not particularly different from other smartwatches, and it is unfortunately square.

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Entertainment

Check this book out: “The Martian” by Andy Weir

“The Martian” by Andy Weir is a story about astronaut Mark Watney who, due to an unfortunate series of events, is stranded on Mars The Martianduring one of humanity’s first few manned exploration missions to the red planet.  The story is told mostly through a series of log entries filled with fascinating bits of technology and science, chronicling the astronaut’s struggle for survival as the sole person on the planet with limited supplies and no way to communicate with Earth.

Oh, and did I mention that everyone else thinks he’s dead?  Because they do.

Yet, despite these dark circumstances, Mark has an unusually jovial attitude, which results in some humorous exposition as he recounts day-to-day activities in his log.

As a story, it is engrossing, and no doubt a hard book to put down.  This is made more incredible given the novel is the first published by Andy Weir, who is a software engineer by trade.  “The Martian” was originally self-published, and later picked up by a publishing company.  And, get this:  Ridley Scott is making a movie adaptation of the book, slated for release in late 2015.

Pretty good for a first book, I’d say.

For more information, check out the author’s site.  I would only note that the book (excerpts of which can be found on the site) contains strong language.

Cameras, Consumer Technology

Dyson is watching your room.

Dyson announced today their first foray into the “robot vacuum” market with their 360 Eye robot.  This is the first vacuum with a 360 degree eye, that allows it to see the entire room at once, and orient itself based on objects. That also allows it to take as many pictures as it wants and gives it free access to the T.V. or refrigerator once it becomes sentient. Find out more about this cool little robot over at the 360 Eye Website.  Really check out that website, because the website by itself is awesome – it could probably make mundane things like paper towels look futuristic and cool! Anyway… no release date for this little wonder in the U.S. yet – but Japan gets it next spring.

Consumer Technology, Green Energy, LEDs

IKEA’s New “Light Tile”

IKEA-bendableLightingIkea furniture has played a somewhat influential role in my life for the past 15 years or so. Lot’s of cardboard boxes at the street. Dozens of hex wrenches, dowels, and locking cam screws – good or bad, my wife and I have been surrounded by Scandinavian design. We’ve rotated a lot of the furniture out but the lighting seems to stick around. They’re good at that and it’s about to get more interesting with their recent investment in Scottish company, Design LED Products and this slick new “Light Tile.” Flexible, low energy light – the possibilities for a design heavy organization like IKEA are limitless.

Thanks to FastCODesign for covering this topic – read more here.

Computers, Consumer Technology, T.V.s

Twitch and the Rise of the Now

Twitch_Website_MainPage

Image via Twitch.tv

Twitch is a live streaming service created back in 2011 – since then it has grown to become an interesting subculture, one where “younger generations” (or “whee whippersnappers” as I sometimes refer to them)  are watching other people play games instead of playing themselves. These “other people” have now become almost famous in their own right, attracting thousands of live viewers at a time, while live events can garner tens of thousands. For those that still deny that this is a new form of entertainment – Youtube is allegedly buying twitch for 1 billion dollars. That’s million with a ‘b’.

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Moment of Zen, Throwback Thursday, Windows Tablets

Old School Glory: Microsoft.com Circa ’94

MicrosoftHomePage1994The web looked amazing in 1994! Limited color palates thanks to low resolution VGA. HTML that was barely capable of a multi-column format and yet – Microsoft brought it with a half-moon design that included text in the round. These were exciting times. Full of hope. Microsoft PublisherThe newness was enchanting and I distinctly remember, regardless of how primitive, one of my first websites was poised to change the world – made using a Microsoft product nonetheless. Believe me, I would share a screen capture if I could remember the web address… hosted on Homesites.com or something similar. Obviously, it didn’t change the world. 

We have new frontiers these days – Apps, Alternative Energy, Wearable Tech, etc. And one day, we’ll look back on 2014 with the same fondness for our past and appreciate the future’s true potential.  

Consumer Technology

The T-Mobile Test Drive Experience

Image courtesy of t-mobile.com

Image courtesy of t-mobile.com

 

 

 

 

I have been interested in T-Mobile ever since they started rolling out their “Uncarrier” initiative.  I don’t have any particularly strong grievances toward my current carrier’s service, but I appreciate what T-Mobile is doing, and thus had an innate curiosity about their service.  When they introduced the Test Drive program, I was immediately interested.  An iPhone 5S on their network, unlimited talk/text/data, totally free, for one week?  Sign me up!

Obviously, your coverage level will depend on where you live, but in the city, I actually had really good data speeds and coverage.  I probably picked a bad week to test, as I had zero plans to leave city limits, but judging by the coverage I recently got on my Nexus 7 while traveling with T-Mobile’s free 200 MB tablet data plan, data on the interstate is spotty.  I wouldn’t trust it to be available for navigation purposes.

Really, the most impressive part of the whole experience was the call they make on your second day with the phone to make sure everything is okay, and the drop off process at a T-Mobile store.  I was expecting to be pestered, given sales pitch after sales pitch to switch over to them, especially while returning the device, but surprisingly, it was hassle-free.  I handed over the device, the associate asked how my experience was, and that was it.

The bad news is that with my grandfathered voice and data plans on my current carrier, it’s cheaper for me to stay where I am.  Every major carrier these days requires you to pay for unlimited minutes, which, let’s be honest here, is a waste of money since most of us don’t talk on the phone anymore.  But if you don’t have a grandfathered plan to worry about, T-Mobile’s offerings are actually pretty cheap compared to other carriers.

If you’re curious about T-Mobile, give their Test Drive program a shot.  Being hassle-free, and at the low, low price of “free,” it’s hard to say anything bad about it.

Consumer Technology, Displays

Microsoft’s Hyperlapse Project: A new Timelapse Perspective

When people create timelapse videos – there is normally a single object in focus – allowing you to see, for example, a flower blooming. Trying to actually look at timelapse footage of the camera panning, or moving in any way can be painful. Enter Hyperlapse technology – which aims to smooth timelapse footage taken with mounted cameras, effectively allowing you to watch quick first person videos of mountain climbing, swimming, or even biking. Heck – this could work great with the Skully AR-1! If you are interested in knowing more about how it works – the guys over at Microsoft research put together a great explanation over on their page.