Particle Debris (Week ending 12/12) What Apple Learned from Kodak and More

We tend to think of Apple and Jonathan Ive as hip and modern, but some of the industrial design principles for consumers items go way back. And they can be exploited for good purpose if only one is aware of design history.

Last last week, BusinessWeek posted a story about how in 1926, Kodak launched their Vest Pocket camera line and asked designer Walter Teague to make the cameras appeal more to women. The color scheme he came up with is startlingly familiar to Apple's original iPod mini lineup. (See the picture below.)


Kodak Cameras, 1926

 Credit: BusinessWeek

It just goes to show that, in any field, professionals who pay attention to what has gone before can appear to be extraordinarily innovative when they're really just being ... professionally trained.

On Sunday, ars technica pointed to some research from the Sandia National Laboratory (near Albuquerque, NM), that suggests modern PCs don't have the memory bandwidth to effectively support more than 16 cores. That's because, as we've been forced to add more cores rather than up the clock speeds to obtain higher performance, memory bus latency and throughput haven't kept pace.

In the recent past, Intel has told developers to get ready for a lot more cores, but perhaps the company is already anticipating a technique that will help: stacking memory chips on the processor. Sun and IBM have also looked into this. In any case, we have some time -- as developers learn how to properly exploit the cores they do have: 2, 4 or 8.

On Monday, there was a nice recap of the situation with DisplayPort and HDCP at tgdaily It's a complex subject, and one needs lots of different sources to sort it all out. This one has some additional technical background of interest to Mac customers.

On Tuesday, I saw a truly dreadful, sick, and disturbing story at Multichannel News about how TiVo is planning to add sponsorships (ads) during the pause mode of TiVos. Initial customers are Mercedes-Benz USA and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

It would seem that TiVo, having just picked up over US$100M from its lawsuit against DISH/EchoStar wouldn't be so desperate to infringe on the sensibilities of its customers. One of the reasons Apple doesn't install crapware on its Macs is because they products are desirable in themselves. Apple doesn't have to grovel for pennies.

TiVo, in my view, should spend more time being innovative and pleasing its customers As it is, TiVo, desperate to avoid oblivion, has sold its soul to Hollywood, and we can only expect more of this. Hey, TiVo! How about going over the top again and charging an additional monthly fee to keep the 30 second forward jump activated.



Credit: Multichannel News

Also on Tuesday, Sprint announced that it's preparing an SDK so developers will flock to them to build mobile phone apps. Just one problem. Well, perhaps lots of problems. No iPhone, and they're 10,000 apps and 300 Million downloads behind. Go for it Sprint!

Meanwhile, I was pleased to see at CNN on Wednesday that President-elect Obama is considering a Nobel Prize winner for his Energy Secretary: Dr. Steven Chu, the current head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laborarory. Amongst many other good fallouts from this, the choice will will definitely be good for supercomputing in the United States.

Anyone who's seen the movie Lars and the Real Girl will appreciate a story on Thursday at The Sun about inventor Le Trung who spent US$21,000 creating an android wife which he calls Aiko.

Aiko is in her "20s," has a 32-23-33 figure, works 24 hours a day, and "is the perfect woman," according to the inventor. She even goes on a drive with him. And with some minor upgrades could become a sexual partner.


Credit: The Sun

Sure beats having a Roomba.

Finally, on Friday, another company has waded into the treacherous waters of Apple's Legal team. These guys think they'll be off the legal hook with their high performance computer system that enables Mac OS X to run. We shall see -- after Apple disposes of Psystar.

Have a great weekend!