Particle Debris (wk. ending 10/28) Video Skewers and Great Defense

| Particle Debris

This week’s edition starts off with the concept of “skeuomorphism.” It refers to adding “kitsch, sentimentality, and ornamentation for its own sake” to software. A good example is the leather trim in Lion’s and iOS’s Address Books. That embellishment seems, to some, as an attempt to patronise us by relating to physical objects in the real world when there is no need. How does the leather help us better utilize or understand the app? James Higgs explains it all nicely in “Apple’s aesthetic dichotomy.” A good read.

For a few weeks now, we’ve been inundated with the media coverage of the passing of Steve Jobs. Some of it is very serious and appropriate. Some goes overboard. But this one is fairly unique. It is, I believe, an unaired SNL skit that’s a spoof on The Charlie Rose show. The angle is ostensibly a tribute to Steve Jobs from guests Mark Zuckerberg, Arianna Huffington, and Reed Hastings. But the really cool part is how Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis hilariously skewer their corresponding characters, especially Sudeikis/Hastings. You just have to see this SNL segment. (Requires Adobe Flash. I know, I know….)

SNL skit

SNL ski: Source: Hulu/NBC Universal

I think most of us have tavelled at one time or another and suffered with hotel Wi-Fi. I theorize that awhile back, hotels found it too expensive to pull Ethernet cable, and so they came up with the brilliant idea of a Wi-Fi station on each floor. That way, when customers complained about the terrible service, (caused by the cheap 256K DSL line out of the hotel) the hotel could blame it on all the other customers. Of course, some hotels have done a better job and provide adequate service, especially those that cater to business travelers. In fact, according to this story, “iPads change economics, and speed, of hotel Wi-Fi,” some hotels that had been upgrading, perhaps minimally, are now feeling the new effects of iPad travelers.

Why pay $9.99 for a hotel movie when you can watch one free on your iPad with Netflix? It’s another example of how the iPad is not only changing our technology life but dramatically altering the economics of books, movies and now hotel Wi-Fi. I think the next iPad I buy will have 3G just because of this kind of change.

The Hal 9000 computer from the movie: “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Siri are similar interesting ways. Hal was plugged into every system of the Discovery, and Siri can leverage the entire Internet. We carry on a conversation with both. Well, maybe just Q&A with Siri. So it’s only natural that Siri makes us think about what’s coming in our technical future. How many years will it be before a supercomputer on the Internet is able, behind the scenes, to carry on an extended conversation with us that passes the Turing Test? With Siri as our front end. I’ll bet on five years.

We’ll have to wait until 2012 to get it, but, here’s a speaker/microphone combination accessory for your iPhone 4S, in the image of the Hal 9000. It’s called the IRIS 9000. It could make a great Christmas present. Regrettably…next year.

IRIS 9000

IRIS 9000

It’s official. Hell has frozen over. How did that happen? Blame it on halos.

This week, I ran across this video from 2002 that brought back memories. It’s one of those charming pieces of Apple lore that we sometimes forget about, then smile when we see it again after almost a decade. Gentle readers, I present you with… Ellen Feis. (Can you believe that Apple aired that ad? I suspect Apple is far too buttoned down today to run an add like that.)

We all familiar with the concept of Android fragmentation. It affects developers because there are so many different hardware and software combinations to support. But a related issue is OS upgrades. How current is the OS on the Android phone you bought in 2010? Can it even be upgraded?

Michael Degusta was curious: “I went back and found every Android phone shipped in the United States1 up through the middle of last year. I then tracked down every update that was released for each device — be it a major OS upgrade or a minor support patch — as well as prices and release & discontinuation dates. I compared these dates & versions to the currently shipping version of Android at the time. The resulting picture isn’t pretty - well, not for Android users.”

Check out Mr. Degusta’s fascinating color chart: “Android Orphans: Visualizing a Sad History of Support.” If Google’s Larry Page could have traveled forward in time to see this chart, would Google have done anything differently?

Finally,there are analysts and technical columnists who are betting that Apple will never come out with its own branded high definition television set. Would you bet your own company on that? Having seen how Apple has disintermediated other whole industries in a single bound, would you cover your bets? How would you do that? One way is to use Apple’s technology against it. Clever, I think.

Namely, on Thursday, DIRECTV released a new version of its iPad app that allows DIRECTV customers to watch selected shows right on the iPad. At no extra charge. (There are some broadcast rights issues that affect many of the channels. But USA and SyFy have opted in.) And top this. It supports AirPlay too. Holy crap. You have to hand it to DIRECTV — in this particular area, they aren’t just sitting around, waiting to be put out of business by Apple. It’s great offense with defense.

DIRECTV iPad app

DIRECTV iPad app. Also supports full iPad screen mode.

I’ve tried this new version, and it works beautifully. I’d love to meet the developers of this DIRECTV app. Damn, they’re good.

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Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Andy Samberg. Famous for such lines as “if there’s a honey in the middle, there’s some leeway”.

Lee Dronick

From the link to Apple?s aesthetic dichotomy

“For me, the most interesting software interface design is being done at Microsoft with Metro on Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8. Here there is no effort to offer spurious concordance with the legacy technologies the software replaces. It is digitally native design.”

That is for him, I disagree. A digitally native design that looks like a Soviet apartment building complex? No thanks, give me art, give me beauty, give me poetry, give me soul.


It?s official. Hell has frozen over. How did that happen? Blame it on halos.

John ~ Did you mean,“blame it on “HEROes?”
I could find no reference to halos in the linked story.


If Android phones have fewer apps and only rarely have the OS updated, why are people buying them?

Is it a lower price on the phone or lower monthly cost? Or the appearance of “good enough”? Is the iPhone not available to some?

And is it really “marketshare” if carriers give away the phone?

John Martellaro

iJack: I meant halos. The “halo effect” from the iPhone is widely believed to have had an effect on I.T. managers. As more and more people adopt the iPhone and iPad personally, the Macintosh becomes better regarded in the enterprise.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@ibuck: As someone who had and enjoyed the iPhone before Steve went all content Nazi on us, and then switched to Android, here’s my answer… Android is a better phone. Having multiple manufacturers and a range of choices in phone sizes, features, price points, etc. means that there is probably a perfect Android phone for you and a perfect one for me and it’s OK if they’re different. They’ll still run most of the available apps the same.

The phone market and apportioned shares encompass more than just handset manufacturers and end users. Carriers and resellers play a part too. So to dismiss subsidized or free phones is to simply ignore how the market works.


James Higgs is an ass. He either doesn’t get the whole concept or, and I think this is more likely, he’s trolling for hits. Tying apps to real world objects has been the core of Apple’s OS designs since the first Mac in ‘84. I LIKE the little touches. The leatherette look, the stitching, the torn page corners. I find they both keep the device from feeling cold and impersonal and they let me know that a real person coded this.  I’ve used digital library systems that just list titles and authors. I’ll take the “wooden” bookcase. It’s just a bit more pleasant to work with.  Maybe James Higgs wants to go back to a dark terminal screen with green letters. That would be even “cleaner”.

FWIW in my last job I did a couple of WiFi deployments for our resorts.  Our general rule was one transmitter in every other room. For example fourth would have transmitters in 401,403,405, 407 then fifth would have them in 501, 503, 505, 507 and so on throughout the building.  Two floors would go into a switch. The lines from the switches would go down to the basement. There we had several Gb feeds coming into the building. One for secure corporate use and one for each tower. We never had complaints about speed.


The ?halo effect? from the iPhone is widely believed to have had an effect on I.T. managers.



Bosco: Having multiple manufacturers and a range of choices in phone sizes, features, price points, etc.

So your mobile phone choice relies on price and how many sizes and/or features are available, and the the idea of fewer restrictions. Even if, over time, there are fewer apps and less chance of updating the phone’s OS?

I wonder if other Android buyers, many of whom say their next phone will be an iPhone, have the same criteria, or if cost (over the length of the contract) is the biggest issue. Or if they were persuaded to Android due to sales spiffs and the larger number of features Android offers over feature phones. Or some mix of these factors?


a, or if cost (over the length of the contract) is the biggest issue

I wonder if the cell market is not as simple as some make it out to be. It isn’t really a measure if whether iPhones or Android phones or whatever is “better”. There is a huge distortion due to the contract. A lot of people will take a phone that is less that their ideal if they can get it free, or even two of then for free as long as they sign a contract. For a lot of people this is far more enticing than a better OS, AppStore, and hardware.

It would be interesting to see a breakdown by manufacturer or OS of smart phones for people who buy off contract, that buy the phone outright and then go month to month. This group would be a better measure of the customer appreciation of the OS and hardware.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

So your mobile phone choice relies on price and how many sizes and/or features are available, and the the idea of fewer restrictions. Even if, over time, there are fewer apps and less chance of updating the phone?s OS?

Meanwhile, the iPhone 4 you purchased a year ago and have a year left on contract can’t do Siri because Apple won’t even sell it to you. Whatever.

I would caution against relying on surveys of what people say they will do to prop up your esteem about your platform of choice. This same survey has been going on for two years now, since before the first Droid came to Verizon. And guess what. In that time, Android has gone from a blip to more than 2x market share and new sales as iPhone. Do you remember how the Verizon Unicorn was going to change everything? Sure, they sold millions, but all it did was help Apple tread market share water in a growing market. Meanwhile, for example, there are a plethora of bigger-screened Android phones that are just plain easier for people 50 and over to read and use. You can buy your Android phone now and add a 32 GB SD card later rather than absorb the storage costs up front to the tune of $100 or $200. You can stick widgets on your home screen. You can replace your home screen. I could go on and on. And despite what Apple proponents say about these being nerd features, they are things your Mom could probably handle and be delighted by.


Just a quick response to the IRIS 9000, I have got to get one these!

It is now officially on my wish list.

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