Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘technology history’ Category

iPhone Shmyphone

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Apparently I missed the whole iPhone 10-year anniversary celebration thing yesterday.

Judging from my RSS feeds, though, there was a lot of fond remembrances of how much the iPhone changed the world, even if the original 2G phone connections were lethally slow.
In 2007, I was still a diehard BlackBerry user — my Bold took me around the world and back again, and it did email really, really well (and worked in just about every country I flew to).

But eventually I pried my cold, live hands from the BlackBerry keyboard and migrated to the iPhone. I’d already been a Mac user since…well, I won’t say when…and it only seemed logical.

I’m not one of those who holds the iPhone up on the altar of technology worship. Nor do I denigrate the iPhone because it’s presence has led to no end of human folly and absurdities due to its use or misuse. And don’t ask me to name any of them, because I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

No, for me, the iPhone is a tool, plain and simple. A wonderous one, one that allows me to stay in touch with people all over the globe at the touch of a button.

One that allows me to watch human calamity in real-time from afar.

One that allows me, for good and bad, to respond to work email from anywhere I have a data connection (which is almost everywhere, but not completely).

One that allows me to learn new things, entertain myself, buy stuff, take pictures and videos….we all know what it does for us, personally.

What it does for culture and society and the broader world? Well, I can make a strong argument that it brings us all closer together, but others would argue it does just the opposite, that it takes us further apart.

As with anything, and as with any technology, it’s really all relative and depends on your point of view.

As I look back on the first ten years of the iPhone, I force myself to remember that these devices are called “smartphones.”

Whether or not the iPhone (and subsequent smartphones) have made us any smarter is probably still up for debate.

Whether or not I would pretty much be lost without my own is not.

Are you paying attention to me? Are you still reading this?!

Look at me and stop looking at that damned phone!

: )

Written by turbotodd

June 30, 2017 at 9:06 am

A Mobile Summary

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I’m going to have to start naming this “Mobile Monday.”

Because on Mondays, it seems like there’s always something of import to occur within the mobile space.

I guess one could say that for every other day of the week, and maybe it just seems more notable to me on Mondays.

In today’s case, it was Yahoo’s announced acquisition of Summly, a mobile app that has a unique algorithm which helps summarize news stories and which was started by a 15 year-old programmer, Nick D’Alosio.  The Summly took Apple’s “Best Apps of 2012” award for Intuitive Touch capability.

So of course the first thing that will happen post acquisition is that the app will be REMOVED from the App Store starting today.

Does that seem counterintuitive or is it just me?

Kid writes app, app receives a gazillion downloads, Yahoo buys app, makes kid rich, Yahoo removes app from App Store.

Only in the tech industry.

The idea, of course, being that someday soon the capabilities of Summly will find themselves embedded in other Yahoo apps.  Yeah, and I’ve got some great swamp land in south Florida that I’d like to show you.

Turbo recently shelled out a little over a hundred bucks for the daskeyboard Professional Model S. This keyboard features Mac-specific functions such as media controls, brightness controls, command and alt/option keys, eject and clear keys. The Professional Model S for Mac is “plug and play” with your Mac computer and updated to also include media controls.

Turbo recently shelled out a little over a hundred bucks for the daskeyboard Professional Model S. This keyboard features Mac-specific functions such as media controls, brightness controls, command and alt/option keys, eject and clear keys. The Professional Model S for Mac is “plug and play” with Mac computers and updated to also include media controls.

On the topic of mobile, nobody’s ever really created a good mobile Bluetooth keyboard that’s portable and, preferably, folds up…and I’ve tried just about all of them…Kickstarter, anyone?

But I am VERY happy with my new daskeyboard keyboard, which I’m going to tell you all about now.

When I’m working at home, it’s like hearing a machine gun emanating from my office (They don’t call me Turbo for nothin’, and it mostly had to do with my typing speed…How else would you expect me to be able to generate all these blog posts!?)

I saw daskeyboards for the first time last year at SXSW, but I was able to contain my credit card.  This year, I decided to jump in headfirst.

With a discount, I was able to get the daskeyboard Pro Model S for about $100, and though that might seem like a lot for a keyboard, when you spend as much time every day in front of a computer as I do, it seemed like a pretty good investment at the time — and that turned out to be the case.

Remember those original IBM AT and XT (and later, PS/2) computers where you could use those clickety-clack Model M keyboards? Well, daskeyboard has reinvented that PC keyboarding past, and you can now go clickety-clack at 90 words per minute with the lightest, softest, but clickiest touch you can imagine.

Only this time, you can do it on both Macs and PCs, and you can do it all in black.

Written by turbotodd

March 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Spaceships, Aliens, And Androids: The Scott & Todd SXSW 2013 Podcast Debrief

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Scott Laningham and I first met around six years ago at SXSW Interactive.  Scott was already well known for his developerWorks podcast series and blog, and he was walking around the conference talking to people, so we decided to sit down and do a podcast discussing all the cool things we’d seen and learned about during the conference.

It was the beginning of a wonderful and still ongoing collaboration, and since that time, Scott and I have shared the stage at numerous IBM conferences, interviewing industry luminaries, IBM executives and business partners, and other thought leaders.

But we always come back to SXSW Interactive. And so it was with 2013.

Scott and I sat down on Friday via Skype and chatted for nearly 30 minutes about all the interesting things we heard and learned about at this year’s event, the first time it reached over 30,000 attendees.

Some would say SouthBy has jumped the shark. I’m not so sure. I joked early on in the event last week that perhaps it had jumped a few dolphins.

Has it gotten a lot more crowded?  Absolutely.

Has it stretched the outer limits of Austin’s hotel and transportation capacity?  Without question.

Do you have to wait in long lines stretching halfway around the Austin Convention Center just to see a keynote?  Yes yes yes.

And to my mind, it’s still worth every minute.

P.S. Scott has also established a new blog, which you can find right here on WordPress.

Written by turbotodd

March 18, 2013 at 9:35 am

Send A Fax

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Greetings from the Big Apple.

I’ve been here for several days now, after a fun adventure with Jet Blue trying to get here, and I’m pretty sure I’ve already gained several pounds, what with all the pizza and Italian cuisine and sushi and gyros I’ve consumed.

Of course, sitting in all day meetings hasn’t helped, so it’s a good thing I’ve gone out and run the NYC marathon course every evening to get some exercise.

That was a joke, of course.  The last exercise I did in NYC was when I was a NYC bike messenger, and the last routine I perfectly executed there was a pirouhette from the seat of my bicycle into the cab door, and on down onto Park Avenue and into the back of an ambulance to Bellevue hospital.

That was in July 1986, about the same time that the fax machine started the long, slow decline of the bike messenger business in NYC and beyond.

Eventually, we also saw the long, slow decline of the fax machine.

Everywhere in the world.

Except, according to this morning’s New York Times, in Japan, where the love affair with the fax machine continues to this date, despite the advent of the Internet and smartphones.

I’ll leave it to you all to read the piece.  It’s quaint, and culturally intriguing.  But I think it also goes a long way towards explaining the decades-long now economic slump in which Japan continues to find itself.

Then again, I guess it’s a lot easier to hold on to the past if you can hold a piece of fax paper in your hand.

Written by turbotodd

February 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Scrolling Down iPhone Memory Lane

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I heard it was the 5th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone, which, first of all, just freaked me out, because how could it have been five years already!

But, once I was over that, I realized I have a record of my thoughts and observations back them in the form of this blog.

So, I went back and weaved together the following based on my observations in and around that year on the topic of the iPhone.

Read at your own peril. Accessories not included.

June 4, 2007 (25 days prior to the iPhone Launch)

Headline: Why I Won’t Be Getting An iPhone

Well, at least not yet, anyhow.

First, as I think I’ve explained in the past, I’ve been burned too many times on early adoption.

The only early adopting I’ll be doing moving forward is for small canine creatures I keep as pets.

Second, I just got my Blackberry Pearl.

It seems to do most everything I need it to do, for now.  Everything except allow me to successfully browse the Internets.  It used to do that, too, until the IBM internal software installation corrupted the browser.

They tell me I can fix it by wiping the Blackberry hard drive and starting from scratch.

Let me get this straight: I bought a Blackberry so I could check my corporate email and calendar (which I can successfully still do) and to surf the Internet.

But in order to successfully surf the Internet, I have to wipe the Blackberry hard drive and reinstall from scratch, in the process giving up my ability to successfully check my corporate email and calendar?  And this is supposed to be productivity enhancement???

Three, the iPhone costs in the neighborhood of $600.

My Blackberry Pearl cost me $99.  I can think of another $501 reasons I’ won’t be waiting for a new iPhone to ring.

Four, I don’t like grovelling or begging, nor do I like sleeping overnight on sidewalks outside the Cingular store, not for concert tickets and certainly not for a new cell phone.

When I bought my Pearl, I called ahead, had ’em charge the Pearl in advance of my getting to the store, and by the time I arrived, simply did a quick run through and check out.  I liked the Cingular retail people veddy much.

On June 29th, I will be staying as far away from the Cingular Web site and retail stores as is humanly possible.  The core Appleites (pun intended) will be out en masse, they will be single minded of purpose, and they will have great anxiety over whether or not they’ll be one of the lucky ones to win the iPhone lottery.

I will stay as far away from them and their mob as is humanly possible.

That is, unless they are willing to give me a personal tour of their new iPhone, in which case I’ll be happy to oblige their momentary lapse of reason.

June 18, 2007 (11 days prior to the iPhone Launch)

Headline: Eight Hours Of Apple Talk

Me, I’m still trying to recuperate from my U.S Open anxiety, but the rest of the blogosphere is all Apple iPhone talk all the time, apparently now eight hours at a burst.

The latest headline: iPhone is expected to deliver up to eight hours of talk time.

That’s a big deal, at least in terms of expectation setting, because there’s been tremendous criticism about the built-in battery that a user couldn’t replace with an already charged backup.

It also helps if you got yourself a long-winded teenager stuck at the mall…be sure to upgrade that ATT plan!

Me, I hope never to have to abuse my Blackberry Pearl with an 8-hour conversation, but then again, nobody really wants to talk to me, and I can always buy a backup battery, so this isn’t an issue pour moi.

As if Apple and the iPhone wasn’t already sucking up all the oxygen on Planet Earth (what’s left of it), and if you’ve not read or heard enough about the cult of Steve Jobs lately, New York magazine has a great feature by Silicon Valley journalistic hit man John Heilemann entitled “Steve Jobs in a Box.”

“Steve!  Are you in there!?  Steve??!  Do you need help getting out of the box, Steve?!!”

It’s juicy, long format, going-deep-into-Steve’s ego id and psyche kind of stuff technojournalism, complete with Heilemann’s breaking out Jobs’ career into three “acts.”

Could there be a Metropolitan Opera version waiting in the wings, complete with Bill Gates starring as the Devil himself?

Wait a minute, this oughta be a Pixar/Disney film, NC17 edition.

Oh well.  You’ll just have to head over to New York mag online for the current installment.

June 25, 2007 (4 days prior to the iPhone Launch — I was on a business trip out in Silicon Valley, and actually visited the Apple campus just a few days prior to the iPhone debut)

Headline: I Want My iPhone

Rumors abound of Apple employees publicly flouting units from the first manufacturing run, and I have no doubt the lines will start forming at the AT&T stores for we plebes sometime today.

You can get your first reality check and low, lowdown on the iPhone around 6 P.M. Pacific Standard Time this evening, which is when Walt Mossberg’s and David Pogue’s first reviews are expected to strike.

Word on the Business2.0 blog street is the early reviews are “generally positive” but that “downloads are sluggish” over AT&T’s current cellular network and that there are “typing difficulties.”

Well, uh, yeah.  There’s no friggin’ keyboard on the thing (well, not the keyboard as we typically have known it)!

That’s like saying there are steering difficulties on a Lamborghini with no steering wheel (and on Highway 101, I’m certainly beginning to wonder if a steering wheel is really even necessary).

This is a whole new computing paradigm, people, and, it’s from Apple: You have to will the thing to do what you want.

It’s all about the human mind telepathic connection interface!  Don’t you get it??!!

June 29, 2007

Headline: The New Chic: Geeks Waiting In Line

First off, this post is NOT being written while waiting in line at an Apple retail outlet, an AT&T store, or elsewhere.

Second, thank Heavens, I was rescued from out of the heart of Silicon Valley, where iPhone fever has reached new heights (remember when people waited in line for Windows95?), and safely back in Austin just in time for the flooding to recede.

But clearly, I’m in the minority.

Supergeek blogger Robert Scoble is waiting in line with all his other geek friends (see the pics here….wait a minute, doesn’t Scoble qualify as Mr. Supergeek Celebrity to get a free iPhone in advance?).

Kevin Rose and the Diggnation crowd were podcasting in line.

Just in case you wanted to read about or listen or watch what it’s like to wait in line to get an iPhone.

I know I was wondering.

Which makes me wonder something else: Maybe waiting in line for the latest geek gadget is the new chic.

Pulling an old Coleman sleeping bag out of the closet and investing in a solar battery generator to keep the G4 crowd in power, maybe this is the thing, and the iPhone is just part of the overall package, almost a mere afterthought to the status reserved for those who waited.

I wait, therefore I am.

“Dude, what did you do Friday night?”  “As if, dude.  What do you think I did??  I was waiting in line to get my iPhone.  Where the —- were you?!!”

Wait not, want not.

That sense of Burning Man iPhone collegiality is the only thing that explains this phenomenon.

Because here’s the deal: The thing goes on sale online at the very same moment it can be bought in the retail  outlets and, guess what?  Regardless, it has to be activated online through the iTunes store to get the service up and running.

Until such time, you’ve got a really pretty Apple artifact.

But who’s to argue with reason.  I wish them all well and the very best of luck.

Me, I’ll be sitting in my nice air-conditioned condo, doing some work, maybe throwing on a little AppleTV in the background.

On second thought, maybe I’ll go out and join ’em.

Not to get an iPhone, mind you.

Just to hang out with the geeks where I belong.

December 26, 2007

Headline: Year of the iPhone

Looking back on 2007, there’s but no question in my mind that Apple’s iPhone dominated much of the tech conversation.

I opted for a $99 Blackberry Pearl instead (partially because of its form factor, partially because it’s what allows me access to needed IBM resources like email and calendaring), and it’s done me just fine — especially considering it was about 5X cheaper than the iPhone.

But, the iPhone cultural phenomenon and technology footprint couldn’t be escaped, nor questioned.

I was at the Apple campus in June visiting with a friend, just before the first iPhones went on sell, and I didn’t see a single iPhone unit while on the Apple campus (allegedly only top execs had them prior to the launch), they were so tightly held.

No big surprise, considering Apple’s tight grip and embargo on its launches. But the phenomena that was the pending iPhone couldn’t be constrained.

Months prior to the launch, Google and other search engines were inundated with search inquiries about the iPhone…blogs were abuzz about the product features…podcasts explained its virtues…the mass media mass brainwashed the masses about its planet-saving capabilities.

For weeks after, the halo of the afterlaunch melted into the tech landscape, complete with new tech lore about being the first in line, or waiting in line with one’s Apple brethren, or etc ad nauseum ad infinitum.

When was the last time you bragged about waiting in line?

I succumbed to the hype myself, long enough to go into the store and touch an iPhone firsthand.

It was all I could do to leave the store without buying one.

But then I came back to my senses and started thinking logically about the problems that an iPhone would or would not solve for me personally (what a concept! Purchase a product only because it actually solves a problem!), and the Blackberry Pearl would do just fine.

And it has.

So I wouldn’t be the coolest kid on the cubicle block…so I wouldn’t be able to personally extol the virtues of the new touch screen interface…so I wouldn’t be able to becoming a walking, talking Apple salesperson in my spare time, despite all the constant complaints about the lethargic AT&T Edge network (which never seemed to slow me down much with the more text-oriented Blackberry).

Life would go on.

And it has.

But the milestone it demarcated would be clear.

Because the real phenomena behind the phenomenon for me around the iPhone was not the device itself, but rather the notion that mobile IP-based multimedia computing was finally coming into its own.

After years of the U.S. lagging behind the SMS craze in Europe (which launched well before most Americans knew what a text message was), or the DoCoMo iMode craze in Japan in the late 1990s and early 2000s (which was how many Japanese first experienced the Internet), I felt as though the U.S. was getting a clue and catching back up.

If nothing else, the iPhone demonstrated what was becoming possible at the intersection of mobile data and voice, of mobile computing, after years of overpromising and underdelivery.

That a cell phone didn’t just have to be a cell phone, but that it could evolve into a true multimedia personal information manager and portable computing and communications device, using an interface that we mere mortals could understand and learn quickly.

It was the opportunity presented by the possibility of a nuclear intersection between computing, communication, collaboration, personal entertainment, and mobility.

That we could use it to communicate and get directions and do work and listen to music and watch videos and find somebody’s phone number.

No, for my money, the iPhone was only a starting place, the beginning of something much, much bigger to come. A mile marker on the way to a much more promising land.

It was the Star Trek communication device brought down to reality here on earth.

“Beam me up, Steve.”

It was a great start, but it was only that.

So, go ahead, use your index finger to scroll down. It works well enough.

Me, I can’t wait to see where that scrolling finger might take us next.

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