What Are You On?

intel dongleWhat are you on right now?

Helaine uses a laptop. My dad is 100% tablet. I rotate through devices and touch close to a dozen keyboards or screens through the day.

Nearly everything you know about computing is about to change. The size is shrinking again.

If you have a recent iPhone or one of the high end Android devices, you know the brain in that small device of yours works fine for browsing and video. Why do we need anything with bulk?

We don’t.

There is a new class of dongles entering the market which are full fledged PCs. Plug one into an HDMI port on any TV, pair with wireless keyboard and mouse and it’s a computer that can do nearly anything! Browse the web. Stream HD movies. Skype. Whatever.

These dongles are quad core machines special image processing chips. Very low power, they need no fans. They are light on RAM and disk space, but are optimized for the tasks most people normally perform.

They’re not for making content. They’re for consumption.

At the moment (and we’re very early in this game) the Windows version is $150 and the Android $100. Expect those numbers to fall.

This is crazy. How far we’ve come. We’re not slowing down.

There’s This App

It’s one of those tools you never knew you needed until you realize you can’t do without it.

pushbullet_logo

I found an app that solves a real 21st Century problem. It connects all my screens. It has simplified the task of passing stuff between them.

When my phone rings a notification pops up on all my computers. I was surprised how often my phone and I are apart.

It works the same way with text messages. You can even reply from your PC keyboard.

If I take a photo it can be sent directly to my PCs with two clicks.

Addresses or links found at my desk now slide to my phone for cut and paste into a nav program or browser.

I’m using it nearly every day.

It’s Pushbullet. It works on Android and iPhones, Windows and sorta on Macs.

Pushbullet connects your devices, making it easy and automatic to share almost anything between them.

It’s one of those tools you never knew you needed until you realize you can’t do without it. And, of course, it’s free.

Ballmer? Really?

The NBA gets another schmuck as an owner. I see Ballmer behind Microsoft’s failure to innovate over the past few years. Even worse, I see his mean spirited imprint on most everything Microsoft has done.

Steve BallmerIt looks like the Clippers will go quickly. Published reports says Steve Ballmer, who recently left as CEO of Microsoft after seeing the writing on the wall, will pay $2,000,000,000. That’s an impressive number. Now I understand why Windows costs so much.

Donald Sterling, disgraced current owner, gets to laugh all the way to the bank. The value of his team seems to have doubled over the past few weeks. He can buy new friends.

The NBA gets another schmuck as an owner. I see Ballmer behind Microsoft’s failure to innovate over the past few years. Even worse, his mean spirited imprint is on most everything Microsoft has done recently.

But let me allow Steve to speak for himself. On the iPhone:

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”

Of Google’s Eric Schmidt:

“F**king Eric Schmidt is a f**king pussy. I’m going to f**king bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f**king kill Google.”

On Apple’s Macbooks:

“Apple gained about one point, but now I think the tide has really turned back the other direction.”

And, on business in general:

“That doesn’t mean nobody else ever thought about it, but ‘How do you make money?’ was what I got hired to do. I’ve always thought that way.”

After a friend posted this sale on Twitter, I replied, “Until Sterling, he was my most despised CEO.”

Good luck to all of us.

Technology Moving Too Quickly

garmin-nuvi-260w

Helaine is driving to Santa Monica this weekend. That posed a problem. The power outlet in her car, what in less enlightened times was the cigarette lighter, stopped working. Using her iPhone for navigation would be fine but somewhere along the way she’d run out of juice!

Time to fix the outlet. It wasn’t too hard. An old plug must have shed parts in the outlet, shorting it. A pair of needle nose pliers to pluck the old pieces and a spare fuse fixed it.

While doing my stint as tech support I cleared out the car’s center console and came across a Garmin Nuvi 260W standalone GPS receiver. It’s at least five years old, maybe older.

There are two roads within a mile or two of here which might appear on the GPS. Everything else is newer.

It’s possible to buy new maps, I suppose. But why? What this box did is now done faster, cheaper and better by Helaine’s phone.

I guess I should throw it out, but it kills me. Five years, that’s it.

Back Up At The Top Of The World

This was not a perfect photo day. Lots of Haze. No Santa Catalina. My still shots are a little washed out.

On the other hand, the sunset timelapse is pretty good. The GoPro was on a rock shooting a single frame every two seconds.

IMG_0795_9967My last trip to Top of the World was so frustrating I needed to get back. Tonight. Sunset. Better results.

This was not a perfect photo day. Lots of Haze. No Santa Catalina. My still shots are a little washed out.

On the other hand, the sunset timelapse is pretty good. The GoPro was on a rock shooting a single frame every two seconds.

While there I saw three kids trying to take a photo while jumping. It just can’t be done with an iPhone. It can’t!

I gave them my card. Whether they retrieve the shot is another story.

The Sad State Of American Manufacturing

Maybe it’s not slave labor in the traditional 19th Century America sense, but it’s the 21st Century equivalent.

There was a long article in Sunday’s New York Times, “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work.” It’s pretty sad because it’s really about manufacturing in general and our inability to compete in the world market.

Since the story was published I’ve seen some references to the ability of foreign companies to be flexible–turn on a dime to fit changing production needs–as the story’s takeaway.

“The entire supply chain is in China now,” said another former high-ranking Apple executive. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”

Red herring! Aggregating vendors around a production center could happen if American manufacturers wanted it. Unfortunately few really want to manufacture here.

Here’s why we’re losing business. Americans aren’t willing to set our way of life back 100 years. Take this story of Apple’s production change for iPhone glass screens:

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

Americans don’t want to compete if competing means living in dorms, eight strangers to a room while making pennies an hour! Maybe it’s not slave labor in the traditional 19th Century America sense, but it’s the 21st Century equivalent.

We (and by we I include me) encourage this race to the bottom by buying totally on price. I am morally disturbed every time I think of it, but I have no idea what to do.

I make the situation worse with each piece of Chinese produced electronics I buy. Without the Chinese today there is nothing.

How sad.