Posts Tagged ‘tech’

Why The Heat About Wearable Computing?

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

There are a lot or people generating a lot of heat about Google Glasses and “smart watches.” The rumored Apple iWatch, not a real product (yet), has a lot of people claiming it an inevitable failure.

And yet, these same people, friends of mine included, don’t seem to realized that they already have, use, and love wearable computers.

A computer in your pocket, on your belt, or in your bag, is by its very definition, wearable.

A smartphone like the iPhone is very powerful computer, far more powerful and capable than most of the computers that I’ve used in my lifetime (and far more powerful than most people realize). With it in my pocket I’m equipped to do amazing things. I can find out facts, locate places, and take amazing photos and videos. I can create, write, compose, and illustrate. I can connect.

Is there really that much difference between that and having something on my wrist, projected before my eyes, or plugged into my ear?

The future of computing interfaces is uncertain. I have a particular vision that I think would be interesting, but I’m not so arrogant that I believe that it’s the only way for us to use computers. There is one thing that I do believe, however. It’s that computing will become ubiquitous, everywhere, and completely natural for people to use. It may not need to be implanted for that to happen (and I would prefer that it not be). But for it to be everywhere and natural to use, it will PROBABLY be wearable in some form.

Wearing technology is just one prototype of the future. It may or may not work for many people But I think that it will be very interesting to try.



Tech Buying Tip #13: Clear Out Unused Tech

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Even if you’re good about reselling or giving away old tech I bet that you’ll find a graveyard of forgotten gadgets, cables, accessories, and power supplies, somewhere in your home. I have two separate boxes that are more like a historical exhibit than tech parts storage. The last time I checked I still had some PhoneNet connectors and at least one SCSI drive (pronounced “sku-zee” to you young’ns).

It’s good to save a few parts and pieces, but there comes a time where you just need to let them go. You might find a local charity that refurbishes computers that you could offer your collection to, but they might not even want them. At best, do a quick check on eBay to see if there’s any value left in these items and if there’s not, responsibly recycle and dispose of them.

These things do more than take up space. They create confusion in your mind over what you do and do not possess. It’s very useful to know exactly what cables and parts you have. It’s very frustrating to think you have something, but then to look and find only a pile and tangle of other useless crap. More than once I’ve purchased a needed cable only to find I already had one somewhere in the tangle.

Clear it out. Know what you have. And review the pile at least once a year to cull out the obsolete and useless. Better yet, whenever you purchase a major new gadget, review your tech pile and cull it with extreme prejudice.

You’ll feel better and be able to find what you actually need faster and more easily.
Here’s the complete list of Tech Buying Tips.


The Foundation Of The Future: Isaac Asimov, Steve Jobs, and What’s Next

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

I hope you’ll allow me this momentary hyperbolic flight.

Isaac Asimov wrote a very interesting series of novels called “The Foundation.” In them, his character, Hari Seldon, developed a science called psychohistory, with which he was able to accurately predict the large scale course of human events. It’s a great series, and was added to by some other popular science fiction writers over the years.

This idea, that one man could both predict and influence human events, is both fascinating and incredible.

And yet we have our own Hari Seldon. It’s Steve Jobs.

Take a moment an look at the technology on your desktop or in your hand. No matter what manufacturer you bought it from, it was touched by Steve Jobs. The man is no messiah, no guru, and yet his insight, taste, and drive has changed more than just products. It has created wealth, shaped professions, and influenced nations. He’s changed how we work, play, entertain ourselves, and to a surprising degree, how we perceive the world.

I imagine that somewhere in the halls of Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino that there’s a secret locked boardroom. The walls are covered with whiteboards. Written on them, if you could somehow get in, you’d find notes and flow charts that were first created in 1996, when Jobs returned to Apple. The vision it expresses marched forward twenty years from its own creation. It’s been updated and expanded over the past few years, but it predicts remarkably well where we are today. It plotted out how to transform the “beleaguered” Mac into the most successful and and profitable computer platform on the market. The plan stepped through the introduction of a personal digital music playing device, the revolution of the recording industry, and the eventual and inevitable creation of handheld and portable communications and computing devices. It foresaw and planned for the elimination of physically-based music media sales, then of movies and television, and now of software.

And this vision now stretches another twenty years into the future.

Companies would spend untold millions for a peek into that room. It’s the future of not just Apple, not just the technology industry, but of how people will live and work. It’s both thrilling and frightening.

I’ve imagined standing in this room and following the flow back in time. It’s easy to do when you take all of the current products and look back each step, all the way back to the candy-colored iMacs. I imagine that if I could get into that room I’d be able to touch the next three iPhones and iPads. They’re sitting there, just ready for final tweaks before being released, once a year, without fail. And the walls include the plans for not just the next revolutionary product category, but the next ten.

And someday soon, when Apple creates its new “mother ship” headquarters, a circular building with 2.8 million square feet of space,there will be another, bigger room, somewhere deep in the bowels of the behemoth. Very few will ever see it, or know it exists. This one will plot out the path for Apple for fifty, maybe one hundred years, maybe for millennia.

Someday, hopefully many years from now, Jobs will move on. But it won’t be the end of an era. No, it will only be another point on that white board, anticipated, planned for, even desired. It’s not the end point. What comes after, what comes next, will surely be amazing.

Writing Assignment: Justify Your Latest Tech Purchase

Friday, July 29th, 2011

If you can write well you have a tool you can use to get what you want — sometimes. Or at least you can soothe your conscience about why you should acquire the latest gadget or toy.

“Words are wind.” A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Spoken words, the kind referred to here, may be only wind, but writing is evidence. When you write out your ideas you can test them and so can others. They can be judged, fairly or not, but judged. And writing can be retained and reviewed long after an action to test your statements again and see if the action resulted in the desired results. Or not.

Today’s assignment is for you to write a brief justification of a recent tech item purchase. State your case clearly, listing the reasons for the purchase, what this new item will provide, and how it will be worth both the cost and the effort. You may use emotional reasons, but do not rely solely on them.

Here’s my example:

The new laser printer, the Brother HL-2270DW, will make a big difference for us. Even with the Kodak inkjet that we have, we still spend a lot of money on ink. And the Kodak is monstrously slow. And a recent incompatibility or breakdown means that I have to physically push the OK button on the printer for each and every page.

But the new Brother printer is wickedly fast, literally shooting out clean, clear black and white pages, one after the other without pause. When I’m working on longer documents it can output them two sided, which is a big saving in paper. When I recently printed 2 copies of a 300+ page draft novel at a local shop (I wouldn’t even try it on the Kodak), it cost me over $70. I could have done it for under $5 using this printer.

Not only do I like this printer a lot, it will save me more than I paid for it very quickly. As I have to print several copies of a revised play soon, the cost savings of that alone will fully cover the cost of the printer.

You may leave your completed assignment in the comments section below.

Click here to view and complete previous writing assignments.

And buy a copy of the Writing Assignments book!

Tech Buying Tip #8: Avoid The Big Box Stores

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

I must admit, it’s fun to go to those huge electronics store and see all of the goodies. So many toys.

But spend any time there and you quickly discover that the staff is only present to sell you stuff. They really can’t help you make an informed purchase and they certainly can’t help you decide between models, manufacturers, or options. And what they want more than anything is to sell you extremely overpriced cables and extended warranties. Go to to buy your cables and think long and hard before buying an extended warranty and see my advice from last year.

It is useful to actually to see and touch new gear. Touching can help you identify poorly designed and made items or reveal true quality. Seeing options side by side can be enlightening (tell the Blue shirts, “Thanks, just looking”). I even recommend looking at gear that you’re not considering, just to make sure you’re making a fully informed buying decision.

There are plenty of better options for purchasing. Seek out smaller, specialized stores. Yes, buy online. You can even check with the manufacturer to see who else carries and sells your desired item in your area. And consider buying refurb.

As for the superstores, go and look, but leave your money at home.