Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘iphone

A Manual Start To The New Year

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Once again, I don’t think I’m going to make any New Year’s resolutions.

I find bargaining with myself like that to be somewhat whimsical, if not purposeless.

That’s not to say I’m not optimistic about the future. I just find that being practical…being realistic, if you would…has served me better over the longitude of time.

Another thing that has served me well is the very act I’m currently engaged in: Writing.

This blog is now well into its 8th consecutive year, and trust me, if I didn’t like to write, it wouldn’t have lasted this long.

So rather than come up with a list of grand technological projections and prognostications, this year, I’ve decided to go a little more Luddite on you.

Fear not, that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning all social media and going out to live in a cabin in the woods with nothing but a copy of Thoreau’s Walden, or, Life in the Woods and some granola bars.

God, live without Facebook or Twitter for a year, are you *&^@#$# kidding me?! How in the world would I know what was going on in the world, or whose friend’s cat just took its first bath?!

No, I’d never do anything that extreme.

But I did do this: I ordered a new ribbon for my old Royal manual typewriter.

For you kids in the audience who have never seen a typewriter, it’s a small portable machine we used to use to put down our thoughts.

It’s a contraption that…I know, get this…requires NO batteries or electricity (unless you bought an electric typewriter, in which case you were bound to the grid).

Now, again, I want to be straight with you: The typewriter didn’t have a “Like” button, so for many of you, I know, that’s a dealbreaker.

In fact, it had no share function whatsoever, other than taking the piece of paper you were writing on and mailing it to another person. So yes, it was essentially useless for any kind of crowdsourcing.

But, what it WAS good for was sitting down, thinking through an idea, focusing, and actually starting to tell a story or pull together a thesis with no interruptions (instant messages, Facebook messages, direct Tweets, SMS messages, smoke signals…) other than those created by your own imagination

I know, it’s a hard notion to comprehend, focusing, especially when you’ve never had to focus.

And the idea of doing one thing at a time…well, yes, it’s almost heretical in our multitasking times.

But that is one of the things I wish for in 2013.

Because I’ve seen what happens when people become possessed by the multitasking smartphone demons. They remind me of Linda Blair’s head turning round and round in “The Exorcist.”

It’s not pretty to watch, and yet there’s no priest you can call for smartphone demons. You just have to watch the poor person suffer until their multitasking becomes so overwhelming they just have to let their iPhone run out of juice.

Yes, that’s what I wish for in 2013: For people to have the opportunity to focus.

Instead of trying to do everything, and doing it mediocre, I wish to see more people do just a few things, or even just one thing, really, really well.

Come to think of it, at minimum, I’d like to see more people doing just one thing at a time (especially while they’re on the freeway).

Multitasking is highly overrated. There are very few humans who can do it and do it well, and the odds are pretty high you’re not one of them. And studies suggest that people who smoke marijuana do better at cognitive functions than people who multitask.

Put that in your iPhone and smoke it!

So my recommendation: Consider revitalizing American productivity by using a manual typewriter.

No, you won’t be able to directly enter that blog post into WordPress (although perhaps that’s a new widget Matt Mullenweig and his team can consider for future versions), but writing that first draft without electricity and with minimal interruptions will be good for the environment and your psychological wellness.

The other thing you might consider is to keep a journal. When I was traveling across America in 1987 in my Volkswagen bus, I used a manual typewriter AND kept a journal, and that period is one of the few times in my life I can actually go back and account for because there’s an actual record.

If you use a Mac, DayOne is a great journaling app that makes it very easy to journal and allows you to even synch up your entries into the cloud (if that gives you even a small sense of permanence).

It’s January 1st, and I promise I’m going to get started on all this just as soon as that new replacement ink typewriter ribbon I had to order off the Internet arrives via the mail.

Those things are harder to find than an iPhone 4 case these days!

Written by turbotodd

January 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Business On The Go: New IBM Mobile Computing Capabilities

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I’ve written numerous times over the past oh, I don’t know, few years about the ongoing mobile evolution (revolution?).

(On that front, which, I wanted to circle back and say how happy I have been with my purchase of the new iPad Touch (gen 5), which I bought instead of the new iPad mini. But I think I’ll have to write a whole separate post on that!)

The ubiquity of mobile devices is empowering consumers, businesses and their partners to more seamlessly communicate and build high-quality, meaningful relationships and transactions. IBM recently introduce a spate of capabilities intended to help organizations bolster their mobile enterprise strategies, which you can read in more detail about in the post below.

And it’s important to note, IBM has also been following this story closely, and responding accordingly.

And on Friday, the company unveiled a suite of new software and services that enables global organizations to build a comprehensive mobile computing strategy –- from securing and managing devices, to creating mobile applications and analyzing data.

These new offerings are part of a move by IBM to capitalize on the growing market opportunity for mobile that is expected to drive $130B in revenue for the IT industry by 2015, according to a recent study.

Mobile Becoming Integral To Business

As organizations increasingly view mobile computing as the next platform to conduct business, the market is evolving beyond just the device.

Business leaders including the chief information officers (CIOs) and increasingly chief marketing officers (CMOs) of global organizations such as airlines, retailers, governments and healthcare providers are among the businesses turning to IBM to ensure mobile services and solutions are readily available to constituents and in full compliance with IT strategies.

But, they need solutions that can be applied across any mobile environment and device — whether a laptop, smartphone or tablet — and can provide an underlying IT infrastructure that is always available, secure, effectively manages data, and integrates both front and back-end systems.

According to latest reports, more than 10 billion mobile devices are expected to be in the hands of consumers, doctors, sales leaders and the like by 2020.

Already, 90 percent of mobile users keep their device within arm’s reach at all times (guilty as charged!), and complete many kinds of transactions across these smart devices

New Mobile Software and Services Fuel Growth 

While the opportunities presented by mobile are significant, there are a number of challenges facing clients when adopting mobile computing.

This includes the management and security of devices and their underlying infrastructures, ensuring a quality mobile application experience for users across operating systems, new devices entering the market almost monthly, integrating data with the cloud, and analyzing insights captured in real-time.

IBM offers clients a variety of offerings to quickly adopt mobile technologies throughout the organization, from consulting services to software solutions and industry expertise, organic R&D to key acquisitions.

As global organizations struggle to keep pace with the opportunities that mobile computing can provide, IBM’s new suite of capabilities will enable them to overcome these obstacles.

Mobile technologies have significant potential to fundamentally change how businesses operate, and should be part of any multi-channel marketing transformation that helps CMOs make more informed business decisions based on this important shift in consumer behavior.

They include the following:

  • Mobile Planning and Strategy Services: Working with IBM consultants, clients can identify gaps and properly plan for the right mobile strategy.
  • Mobile Analytics: Through analytics capabilities, chief marketing officers (CMOs), e-commerce and app developers can gain real-time access and deep intelligence into customers’ online and app experience across mobile devices.
  • Endpoint Security and Management: With new software and managed mobility services, clients can embrace the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend by simplifying the processes to secure devices and empower employees to manage their own devices. These capabilities extend to the management and support of Apple (including iOS 6), Android, Microsoft Windows operating system (including Windows 8) and Blackberry devices.
  • Mobile App Development: Using the IBM Mobile Foundation will help clients better support native app development and make it easier to build apps that function in the absence of a network connection. New Lifecycle Management software will help clients quickly develop high quality apps across multiple platforms. New managed service capabilities will also provide organizations with support for deploying, implementing and managing their mobile apps and app stores.
  • Social Collaboration for Mobile: With new social business enhancements, an organization’s mobile workforce can use their mobile devices to blog, get live updates from their social networks, access and edit files. New remote data wipe capabilities also help protect company data in case a device is lost or stolen.

IBM has been steadily investing in the mobile space for more than a decade, both organically and through acquisitions, offering a complete portfolio of software and services that delivers enterprise-ready mobility for clients — from IT systems all the way through to mobile devices. This builds on IBM’s deep understanding of its clients and their evolving IT needs.

You can go here to learn more about IBM Mobile Enterprise capabilities.

Live @ IBM InterConnect 2012: A Q&A With IBM’s Steve Wilkins On The Asian-Pacific Economic Juggernaut

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Steve Wilkins is the vice president for IBM Software Marketing in its Global Growth Markets organization, where he is responsible for all marketing of the IBM Websphere, Tivoli, Information Management, Rational and Lotus brands, generating leads via advertising, the Web, events and direct marketing in Asia — Korea, China, India, ASEAN and Australia — and with colleagues in other growth markets in central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America.

IBM’s vice president for IBM Software Marketing in our Global Growth Markets organization, Steve Wilkins, has a unique perspective on the Asia-Pacific region, and was also instrumental in helping make the IBM InterConnect event a reality here in Singapore.

The last time I saw Steve, we were sharing a cab in Seoul, South Korea, comparing notes about our respective BlackBerry Bolds and various mobile travel applications we had been trying to help us maintain our sanity while on the road.

That was only a short two years ago, and the fact that neither of us continues to carry the Bold says more about just how fast the market is moving, in Asia and beyond, than can I! (We both carry iPhones these days, along with my newfound Nokia 1280 “global” phone acquired here in Singapore this week.)

I sat down with Steve here in Singapore to get the lowdown on the Asia-Pacific market. Steve offered insights ranging from the slowdown and structural shifts we’re witnessing in China (shifts that are creating massive new economic opportunity for individuals and businesses alike) to the ability of Asia-Pacific telecommunications providers to keep pace with the massive growth in mobile computing in the region!

Thanks again to Steve for taking the time to share his wisdoms and insights about this incredibly exciting area of the globe, one that offers massive opportunity but which also requires close attention be paid to the idiosyncratic needs and customs of the various countries that the region constitutes.

You can see our interview here.

Unleash The Lion

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Today Apple released the latest version of its operating system, dubbed OS X “Mountain Lion,” which includes a more robust messaging capability, integrated dictation, expanded integration of social apps like Facebook and Twitter, and over 200 other new features.

Today’s the day Apple unleashed another wild cat out into the digital wild, this time in the form of Macintosh OS X “Mountain Lion.”

This release could be characterized as a more minor upgrade than that from “Leopard” to “Snow Leopard,” but still bears mentioning, particularly for all you Mac fan boys and girls.

Apple’s Web site for Mountain Lion asserts over 200 new features, including a new “Dictation” capability, which allows you to “talk anywhere you can type.”

Though this may seem pedestrian enough, as a Dragon Dictation user, I’ll look forward to giving this new integrated voice capability a test drive (and it’s certainly a deal, considering the $19.99 price tag for the upgrade, compared to the $100+ cost of full dictation products like Dragon Dictate).

Other notable features are the new and more integrated social applications supporting Facebook and Twitter. Now, you simply sign in once and your Mac can share to Facebook. Notification Center and Contacts also are now fully integrated.

Mountain Lion has similar capabilities for Twitter, allowing you to Tweet from key Apple apps (Safari, Preview, Finder, Photo Booth, Quick Look), and to more easily share links and photos from iPhoto.

Also notable, the new “Messages,” which allows you to send messages to anyone who has an iPhone, iPad, or iPod using iOS5 or later (or another Mac running Mountain Lion). This will also allow you to send iMessages to a phone number or email address associated with an Apple ID.

MG Siegler with TechCrunch has been previewing Mountain Lion for several months and blogs that “notifications are the most in-your-face and probably best new feature of Mountain Lion,” explaining that we’re used to dozens of apps alerting us to things. The Messaging app streamlines those messages into a more unified stream.

The details: Mountain Lion is available here in the Mac App Store, and for the princely sum of $19.99, you’ll be able to upgrade ALL your machines to ML.

Me, I’ll suffer the delayed gratification of waiting for the bugs to get cleaned up before I throw down my Mastercard.

Written by turbotodd

July 25, 2012 at 3:55 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.

Google’s New “Jelly Bean”

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So did anybody else watch that Google I/O keynote earlier today from the Moscone Center in San Francisco?

Apparently, so, because at one point there were nearly 100,000 concurrent viewings on YouTube.

Yes, I said, 100,000.  Pretty impressive for a developer’s conference.

I’ll get to some of the key Android announcements momentarily…first, the show stealer, which for my money (and of which there’s not a whole lot), one-upped Apple’s keynotes in a way they’ll likely never be able to match.

As the team was preparing to introduce the much-discussed Google Glasses (which I hope, one day, I’ll be able to wear on the golf course and announce to my technophobe father exactly how many yards his shot is to the pin without missing a beat), Sergey Brin cut away to an airplane flying high over the skies of San Francisco, all featured in a Google Events Hangout.

I presumed the cutaway was Memorex, but soon found out differently.

The skydivers jumped from the plane, flew in their birdsuits a little ways, then opened their chutes and landed safely on a roof by or at the Moscone Center.

They delivered the Google Glasses to some manic BMX mountain bikers, who jumped a couple of roofs before handing them over to some dudes who were hanging by some ropes.

Before too long, they all came busting into the live keynote and up on the stage to deliver the glasses.

I’ll never think of my FedEx delivery guy the same again.

I guess everyone at Google Marketing and PR was pretty confident all their skydivers’ chutes would open and no Google Glasses were going to go splat along with their mules.  That, or they had a contingency plan to cutaway to poor voice-challenged CEO Larry Page trying to pick up the slack via ASL.

Like I said, the whole stunt got my attention.

There were a range of interesting announcements, including the Glasses (available to developers attending I/O sometime next year), the new Google streaming media player (Yawn), and Google’s own Nexus 7 (is that one step behind Windows8?) tablet.

But the new Android, 4.1, AKA “Jelly Bean,” was the storyline I found most interesting.

Google announced “Project Butter” as the new innovation in 4.1, which helps make transitions and animations in the Android OS run more smoothly (at a cool 60 frames per second).

Googlers also demonstrated more responsive widgets (I hate to wait on any mobile device app!), which users can drag and drop and move around on their home screen.

Android Heavens, open up and save me from thith mobile lag!

The Google voice recognition engine is now going offline, which means you can transcribe to your heart’s content without being connected to the Interwebs.

“Android, go beat up Siri and then send me some funny pics of such that I can view on my newfangled Android 4.1 home screen and share them via my non-lagging new Facebook app on Jelly Bean!”

The new “Google Now” was also a cool new feature, which allows you tor bring up new “cards” that contain relevant and timely information (“How tall is the Empire State Building?”).

If Trivial Pursuit ever makes a comeback, I want to play the Google Now-assisted edition!

Google Now also takes advantage of temporal and physical data it knows to make friendly suggestions to you.  For example, when it’s lunchtime, Google Now could suggest some local restaurants nearby and let you easily make reservations to go there.

I’d suggest you view the video below to learn more about Google Now, but despite my preference to stick with the Apple iPlatforms, me likey the new “Jelly Bean” and hope Apple responds with some similar features in a future iOS release.

Live From Pulse 2012: Turbo Interviews Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak On Life, Loss, & Android v. iOS

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I had about seven and a half minutes to interview Steve "Woz" Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, here during the IBM Pulse 2012 event. It just so happened it was the very same day, March 7, 2012, that Apple was introducing the iPad HD out in California. Steve indicated he may or may not wait in line all night this time around when the units go on sale next week!

There’s a lot of cool things about my job. But today had to have been one of the cooler opportunities I’ve had, and that was to sit down for a few minutes and chat with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

So many of us of my generation, and those that came after, owe a debt of gratitude to Steve and Steve and the revolution they helped create in computing. What they unleashed upon the world was nothing short of amazing, and it’s easy to take the technologies they and their company created and let it get lost in the fog of history. But I still remember the first Apple II I ever saw, on the campus of my home university. And I can still remember the first time I used an Apple Computer (a Macintosh SE) in 1987 for doing productive work. It was a thing of beauty.

And yet here we are, 25 years later, and I’m writing this blog post introduction on probably my favorite computing device of all time, an 11″ MacBook Air. That’s over a quarter century of innovation! So, after a brilliant keynote discussion between IBM’s Grady Booch and Steve Wozniak on the main stage here at Pulse 2012, I decided I had to take my allotted seven minutes before Woz fled for the airport, and really make them count with the questions I wanted to hear the answers to most. Nothing like the clock of a gun to your head to make the seconds count.

All this, on the very same day that Apple was out in California introducing the new iPad HD…Which is precisely where we started with on my first question for Woz:

Turbo: What in the world are you doing at an IBM event the very same day that Apple is introducing the iPad HD?

Woz: Everyday of my life is full of conflicts. It’s the problem with being popular, and they always want me to come and speak at all these different places. If you saw my calendar, you would die.

Turbo: I can only imagine.

Woz: I don’t know how I keep up with it.

Turbo: So I’m curious when you began this adventure long ago starting Apple, you and Steve, if you had any inkling as to the potential change you were about to unleash on the world.

Woz: We were just gonna try and start a little company just like anybody might, and we didn’t even think we’d make a profit. But we justified it as having a company having two best friends who had done so many things together. And then we thought well maybe we’ll have a company with this Apple II product, and we’ll make a million dollars or something. Well, our investor came in and said this is going to be one of those rare times when a product that’s gonna make a billion dollar company in five years.

I mean, he talked those big numbers, and I just assumed, well, you learn to talk those bigger numbers. But he really knew what he was talking about. And, it’s such an important part of our life…our total life is involved in our computers. Especially our mobile devices today…could we have envisioned that? No! We weren’t even talking about how a computer could have enough memory even for a song! So, where they (computers) went in the world was much greater than we ever thought, but we wanted to have a stake in it and we did.

Turbo: So my friend Noah wanted me to ask you what kind of wood did you use in the Apple I, do you remember?

Woz: No, because I didn’t build the case myself. My friend Randy Binghamton..his father or his brother built the case…but I am gonna say it was mahogany.

Turbo: Mahogany, okay. So flashing forward a bit, what are your thoughts on all these consumer-centric devices making their way into the enterprise? I use my iPad now inside IBM, for example, so Apple’s “disruption” seems to continue on and on.

Woz: Apple is…the technology is there for everyone to do it. But Apple sort of sets the direction so strongly with so many faithful followers because of one good product after another good product after another, that when Apple takes a direction, all of a sudden, all the other companies in the world are gonna go in that mode. And that lets a lot of things happen in our life that wouldn’t if all the companies were struggling to find a formula that would be popular enough. So Apple’s more of a standard setter. Moving to mobile technology coming into the workplace, it’s sooo much a part of our life. It’s like you get used to a certain kind of clothes, you kinda got wear those kinda clothes to work. It’s almost that ingrained.

Turbo: In Helene Armitage’s keynote this morning, that was one of the things she mentioned, that consumer devices are driving the way data centers are going to be.

Woz: Look at personal computers. All of a sudden, when the spreadsheet came out, you went into all these companies that had big huge mainframes and it took them forever to write programs and put them in punchcards into a window, and printouts would come back a day later, and all of a sudden someone had a little computer on their desk and could whip out answers very quickly and instantly, and it was like all of a sudden a little computer could do something a big one couldn’t: The spreadsheet.

And that’s sort of what these mobile devices have got. They’ve really given us a lot of abilities that didn’t make sense in a real computer. Even in my personal life, I still have a lot of apps on my iPhone that let me do things wherever I am. They’re important apps. They could be written on a computer, but they wouldn’t make sense, because when I’m by a computer, these aren’t when I need them. So that’s why the mobile explosion has changed our lives so much, and yet they’ve changed it in ways that we just expect everything in the world to work that way.

Now I finally have a computer in my pocket instead of a phone in my pocket!

Turbo: Speaking of which, you’ve talked about how you’re testing out Android. I’m doing the same thing, by the way. I had an iPhone 4 for a long time, and still do. IOS versus Android: Is it going to be a horse race? Is there a stalking horse we don’t even yet know about being built by some kid in a garage out there somewhere?

Woz: You can even go back and look at Macintosh versus Windows. And there wasn’t one way you could say one did something the other couldn’t do. Maybe certain pieces of software got written due to market share. One thing I’ve learned is you can’t go and say is “Oh my gosh, one platform is superior and the other is bad, and anyone that uses it isn’t very smart.” You can’t say that. They’ve both very good platforms. The guy that brought Android to Google, Andy Rubin, was a very good friend of mine. I served on his board at Danger, where they developed the Sidekick, which was like a smartphone before this era.

Turbo: I remember.

Woz: His thinking is so Apple-like! So much…like Apple DNA and Apple products, and that kind of thinking about human approaches to things that are really trust…in other words, they aren’t in the place that Microsoft was, which was trying to avoid the step toward humanism.

Turbo: You said in your keynote you want “answer engines” not “search engines.” I was wondering if you could elaborate on that.

Woz: It turns out that once I had certain abilities on my phone..of course, you’ve always got Google on your phone. You can Google it…you can even speak to it…but I want to just speak in a question and get answers. All day long, my wife and I…like, I think most educated people, that’s how they run their families….An idea comes up…what color is such and such…how high is Mount Everest…You used to look it up in an encyclopedia…now you look it up online with a search, that gets you a link to a site, that tells you the answer.

But I have so many questions that I just want the answer. “What are the five largest lakes in California?” I don’t want links to articles about lakes in California that don’t even have a list. I want my answer! So this is where something like Siri represents answer engines, and to some extent when you use Wolfram Alpha, and Google is more like search engines. So it’s almost like Apple is superior over Google. Except look at Google’s search engine. If I type in “What is Apple” in Spanish, it comes back with a whole bunch of links, but at the top, it gives you the answer: “Manzana” in Spanish. So, actually, Google is partly an answer engine.

Turbo: Okay, one last question, and this is kind of a bittersweet one. You said in the keynote you miss Steve, and I think a lot of us miss him, even those of us who didn’t know him personally but miss him through his communications. I was just wondering what do you miss most about him, and also, how much do you think the world lost by having had him be taken so soon?

Woz: I very much worry about the future of the great products that Steve was in control of and caused to happen. That if we stopped to innovate as much, that would be a bad thing in life. But I have personal things that I miss…just car rides that we took driving him up to college and things like that…and talks we did…and little pranks that we’d work on night after night…and little extreme things and almost being afraid we were going to get caught by the cops for things…those kind of personal stories…you know you’re going to lose every friend you have, too….everyone’s going to die.

Blogger’s Note: A very special thank you to Chris Drury and Mark Felix with the Drury Entertainment Group team. They make the magic happen at IBM events, and they always make the magic appear to make these kinds of interviews possible, even under the most challenging and pressing of circumstances. Thank you, as always.

Written by turbotodd

March 7, 2012 at 10:44 pm

The Turbo Android

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A few weeks ago I blogged about breaking up with AT&T, which meant my iPhone would become an expensive and glorified iPod.

Turbo debriefs on his recent transition from iPhone to Android...and buys the most expensive product he's ever acquired from a vending machine.

That’s okay, you can never have too many iPods lying around.

But, I also promised to come back and tell, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

So after AT&T couldn’t or wouldn’t offer me any relief for my cracked iPhone (which also froze for a full 24 hours), I broke up and decided to try something new.

Not because I didn’t like my iPhone…there were lots of things to like about it…except for the bill I got every month, one at an average of $90/month that yet had a cap for both phone and data usage.

I ended up heading out to Best Buy after first doing a little online research, and I decided that a no-contract phone was my best option, but there were several providers. At the Best Buy, a sales associate explained that he thought Virgin Mobile had the best deal, because for only $35 a month, I could get unlimited data (and 300 voice minutes), and if I so desired, could upgrade to $45/month with 1200 minutes and unlimited data, and $55/month for unlimited of both.

Where do I sign?

My fatal mistake, however, was to accept his first recommendation on the device, a Samsung Intercept that looked great, but was not less filling.  It was an early Android release, it seemed to have the RAM of a 1986 386 box, and I couldn’t even take phone calls on it reliably.

After two weeks of trial usage, I went back to the same Best Buy and explained what a piece of junk phone they had sold me, and that I wanted something better.  A new clerk helped me settle on a Motorola Triumph, which I’ve been very happy with (save for the anemic battery life — I have to charge it twice a day if I talk on it with any frequency).

No doubt, I was an irresponsible consumer when I decided so quickly and without much research on the new phone.  However, the shift to Android has been a blessing in disguise.

Let me explain: As much as I liked the tightness of the iPhone/iTunes platform, and the quality of the apps, I could feel myself becoming more and more confined. This isn’t about the device anymore: It’s about access to information and services in the cloud.

For as long as I can remember, mobile phones, smart or otherwise, have become a real pain when it comes to contact management.  With both Androids, that problem was solved on setup: I simply synched with my Gmail contacts, and I was done.  Now, I can add a contact to my phone and have it synched up with the Google cloud and not worry about where I’m going to enter the information.

Similarly, my Google calendar is now pervasive across all my computers, tablets, and, now, my phone.  Why? Simple, because of that cloud connection.  Yes, iCloud may NOW be providing some of these capabilities, but at the price, and with the promise of being in a more open operating ecosystem, I would argue I’ve become much more productive because these simple but often confounding necessities like contact management have become so much easier via Android.

Of course, that includes the synergy I have between my MacBook Air and the Google cloud as well.

As for Virgin Mobile, so far, I don’t have enough good things to say.  I’m able to “top off” my service using a credit card on a monthly basis, and, depending on my schedule, decide whether or not I want to spend $35, $45, or $55 for a month’s worth of service, as opposed to the $90+ my AT&T service was costing.

Furthermore, the Virgin Mobile web site makes it easy for self-service provisioning and account management.  I always liked the way Richard Branson did business — now I have proof why. From his airlines to his mobile phone service, he focuses on the consumers’ needs.

I was so pleased with Android, I stopped and purchased the single most expensive item I’ve ever acquired from a vending machine (this one from Best Buy), an HTC Flyer tablet.  Though it, too, has some battery issues, I’m finding it to be an also very useful and productivity-enhancing tablet experience. Not necessarily as “clean” as the iPad experience, but easy enough to master and use for everything from my corporate email to blogging to reading books to watching Netflix…And it’s only 7″, as opposed to my original iPad.

Geek that I am, I will likely continue using devices across both platforms — you’ll pry my MacBook Air out of my cold, dead hands.  But the Android smartphone experience is proving quite useful, and in the process I’m becoming more familiar with an increasingly relevant platform that, until a month ago, I was only vaguely familiar with.

And did I mention Madden NFL 2011 plays beautifully on the HTC Flyer???

IBM SmartCamp Finalist Profile: Skin Scan — Putting Some Skin In The iPhone App Game

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Sometimes you look at a mobile app for your iPhone and your Android, and you wonder, how in the world did they come up with that?

Victor Anastasiu, CEO of IBM SmartCamp finalist Skin Scan, has been an active contributor to the startup incubation scene in Bucharest, Romania.

That’s what Victor Anastasiu, CEO of Skin Scan, and his associate Mircea Popa, did once while sitting in Anastasiu’s living room in Bucharest a year ago, where they were chatting and having a beer.

They were discussing potential business ideas, and the idea of applying fractal geometry to the problem of skin cancer came up.

Hey, it’s just conversation, right?

Anastasiu explains that though there wasn’t a huge culture of entrepreneurship in Bucharest, he was a co-founder of an incubator hubb there called “Bucharest Hubb,” despite there being little access to the international entrepreneurial scene.

As they brainstormed and started to build an application that uses a mathematical algorithm to calculate the fractal dimension of a mole and surrounding skin, then build a structural map that reveals the different growth patterns of the tissues involved, they knew they had to find a platform that could be effective.

The iPhone was the perfect diagnosis, as it was much more homogeneous than the Android, and the app was perfectly suited to use the iPhone camera.

If Skin Scan processes the map and sees the mole has any abnormal development, it will alert the user to a needed medical visit.

SkinScan’s accuracy rate is currently at 70%, matching up to the average dermatologists’ diagnosis and suggesting that IBM’s own Dr. “Watson” could soon face some diagnostic competition in the healthcare realm.

Written by turbotodd

February 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Breaking Up With AT&T

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I have some really sad news.

After four+ years of a sometimes tumultuous, sometimes steady, relationship, I broke up with AT&T last night.

Break ups are always difficult, but this one really came from the gut and didn’t take a lot of doing.  It was an act of passion, if you will.

What led to the break up was this: My iPhone froze up.  I had dropped the iPhone over Christmas, and cracked the screen just mildly, but discovered to my chagrin when I went to the AT&T store that I had not bought the phone insurance.

I found that hard to believe. I ALWAYS buy that insurance. For my Macs, for my phones…it’s just generally been a good investment, at least for me.

No, nada.  Which meant I couldn’t get my phone fixed or replaced.

Fine.  I’ll live with the cracked screen.

But then yesterday, iPhone 4 froze up on me.  It wouldn’t unfreeze.  It was locked.  Like, frozen in time.  No off button worked. No reboot.

So I went surfing around AT&T’s site, and found I could get an iPhone 4S for like $500.  Or an iPhone 4 for about $400.

Are you kiddin’ me?

I called the AT&T guy. Hector, let’s call him.  Hector was very nice, but after looking up my information, explained I wasn’t due for an upgrade until April.

“Okay,” I said politely. What are my options?

“Well, what do you mean?”

Uh oh.  We’ve got an Einstein on the line!

“Uh, regarding my phone. What are my options? Can I get a replacement iPhone, can I get a phone to tide me over until I’m eligible for an upgrade, what?”

He explained my upgrade date wasn’t until April, and because I had no insurance, there was no way of replacing my iPhone without paying several hundred dollars.  Which I had already done.

“Are you sure there’s nothing you can do?” I asked.  I could feel myself stepping up to the precipice. Now the question was whether or not I was prepared to leap.  My blood started simmering.  All those iPhone apps I’d bought.  All that time I’d spent tuning the iPhone.

I didn’t care.

“How much would it cost to buy out of the contract?”

He paused.  “Mr. Watson, we don’t…”

“How much!?”

“$185,” he seemed to say reluctantly.

I was ready to jump.  I didn’t know what was at the bottom, but I didn’t care.  This wasn’t a rational decision, mind you.  But just this one customer experience, combined with all the other times I’d been put on hold by AT&T, asked to wait and wait and wait…No, we’re done, baby.  It’s OVER.

“Do it,” I said.  He tried to intervene.  “Do it now, please.”

“Yes, sir, Mr. Watson.”

Finally, some respect.

He assured me my number would be retroactively portable. I wanted to explain I would retroactively not be an AT&T customer again anytime soon.

So, it was time to go phone shopping.  WOO HOO, I get to go buy something new.  That always feels GREAT after a breakup!

I started hopping around Web sites: Verizon, Sprint, Tracphone…I was convinced I didn’t want a monthly contract anymore.  I was paying roughly $70 a month to AT&T, getting 450 minutes and 200MB of data. By God, I have more worth than that!

My one criteria was I didn’t want to worry about how much data I used.  I was ready to go on a data consumption binge!

Voice minutes, I didn’t need a lot of.  People really don’t like talking to me.

So I set out for my local Best Buy.  I needed some face-to-phone shopping time.

I looked in the “No Contract” phone section, and my only other demand was I have some sort of semblance of a smartphone.  I was checking out some LG Androids when a sales guy told me to go with Virgin Mobile.

“Why?” I asked.

“Unlimited data,” he said.  For $35 a month.  I almost started laughing right there in the store.  $35 a month?  Unlimited text messaging and Web data?

“Yeah, and if you want to top up and get unlimited voice, it’s only $20 more.  And no contract.”

Ah, I see. That’s why they call it the “No Contract” section!

Breaking up with AT&T was already paying for itself and I hadn’t even gotten a new phone yet!

For you MBA students out there, here’s what AT&T lost: A valued customer who had on several occasions spent more than $300 in roaming international data fees per month, who paid their bill regularly, and who spent nearly $100 a month for his phone service for years!

I figured all in, AT&T had generated at least $6,000 of revenue off me thus far, and averaging out at $70 month for the next 20 years, you were still talking about $25,200 in lost potential revenue.

Let’s call it an even $30,000.  They call it “lifetime customer value.”

That’s okay.  I call having no contract “Freedom.”

Freedom, of course, may not be entirely free, but’s one helluva lot cheaper at Virgin Mobile and it doesn’t come with any shackles!

As for what phone I got…well, we’ll just have to reserve that for another post.  I need to go spend some time alone…learning how to use Android.

Written by turbotodd

January 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm

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