Archives For Apple

Apple Innovations…

September 9, 2014

2014-09-01_09-28-00The new iPhone will make mobile payment easier by including a near-field communication chip for the first time, the person said. That advancement along with Touch ID, a fingerprint recognition reader that debuted on the most recent iPhone, will allow consumers to securely pay for items in a store with the touch of a finger….

“Love it or hate, Apple drives a lot of standards in the industry,” Bajarin said in an interview. “They are the mover in these markets. When they do something, the industry seems to follow.”

SOURCE: Apple Said to Team With Visa, MasterCard on IPhone Wallet – Yahoo Finance.

Today being the day for the “big” announcements from Apple almost necessitates that it also be the subject of this post.

A couple of years ago I downsized the wallet I used to have from a one inch behemoth that bulged from my back pocket to something less than a half-inch and the size of half a dollar bill and I found out I don’t miss all that other stuff I used to needlessly haul around. I have been waiting to move to the next stage and that is to chuck the whole wallet. It looks like with the latest Apple innovation I might be able to do that sooner rather than later. Of course soon is a relative term when it comes to our electronic gadgets.

Over the years I have seen quite a bit of miniaturization in the world around me. The doctor’s office, of which I seem to spend more and more time lately, has finally  gone totally digital. The dozen or so ten foot high by twenty-foot wide racks of patient records now reside on laptops carried around by the nurses. The doctors for the most part still stubbornly resist having to use “those things” so they relegate that responsibility to them.

I used to get about ten different paper magazines a month in order to keep up on what is happening in the world and to follow the hobbies that interested me.  I am now down to one weekly magazine. Everything else is on-line. Let’s face it the digital world saves trees and since trees give us our oxygen that is a good thing. :)

Our world is becoming smaller each year and it is about time to chuck the old wallet of the 19th and 20th century for a digital one. I am still using a three-year old iPhone but will upgrade to the iPhone 6 after the hoopla dies down. When that happens I will move as much as possible to digital transactions. Thanks Apple for giving us 21st century solutions to our daily challenges. I certainly look forward to your announcements this afternoon.

 

2014-01-31_08-57-01First, Google cracked the code on Internet search. Then the company used its search platform to build the world’s largest online advertising business. Now, the Silicon Valley icon is turning its attention toward streamlining its business to focus on next-generation hardware and services, particularly in the mobile space. Judging by Google’s latest earnings report, the company’s core business remains robust, as the Cupertino, Calif.-based cash machine posted strong sales and profit growth on Thursday, sending its stock price surging more than 4% in after-hours trading to an all-time high for the second consecutive quarter.

SOURCE:  Google Is Making Itself a Lot Leaner and Meaner | TIME.com.

I don’t know how many of my readers realize just how earth-shaking the search platform that Google developed was. Before that time it took sometimes hours to find some of the most basic info on the Internet.  Let’s take a quick look at what Wiki says:

Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University. Together they own about 16 percent of its shares. They incorporated Google as a privately held company on September 4, 1998. An initial public offering followed on August 19, 2004. Its mission statement from the outset was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, and its unofficial slogan was “Don’t be evil”. In 2006 Google moved to headquarters in Mountain View, California, nicknamed the Googleplex.

Simply speaking Page and Brin made the internet what it is today. Never mind that Al Gore invented it ( :) ), they changed it from a complex military network into an everyday appliance.  For that reason I am an avid fan. Even if I don’t use their browser or some of the other tools they make available. The above article is about how they have grown in the last ten years and where they might be going in the next ten. Will they go the way of Apple or the way of Microsoft?  That is a basic question that needs to be answered and I’m sure they are very aware of that difference.

Most of us old guys, especially the techies among us, know that Microsoft and Apple  happened at about the same time. Microsoft developed a user interface that totally dwarfed the FORTRAN language that was used to program the IBM mainframes. When I was in college desktop computers were still just a dream. Even in college I realized that computers would be a big part of the future so I took a couple of classes to build an initial foundation.  I spent hours writing up a very foreign code and then typing it out on punch cards which were used to put the code in the mainframe very early the next morning. Of course there was always that one card of out hundreds that I misspelled something and therefore the whole lot was rejected.

Thanks to Google, and yes Microsoft and Apple, the initial experiences of new users are vastly different from my own.

2013-11-09_08-49-52Safety

Android is the Wild West of phone operating systems. Stock devices largely come unprotected from attack. Sure, Google checks apps and viruses for malware on the Google Play store, but threats can come from anywhere – even via unsecured Wi-Fi locations. The phones are so vulnerable, in fact, that 32.8 million Android devices were infected with malware last year alone.

SOURCE:  4 Reasons Why You Should Pick Apple iOS over Android | TIME.com.

This article contains four reasons why Apple is better than Android. Yes, I know there are strict loyalties among both of these brands but when it comes to viruses and such that should fall by the wayside to some degree.  Android is much like Windows in that its source code is pretty much available to any nuanced hacker. That is why Windows produces almost daily updates to fight off yet another hack.  Apple on the other hand protects their source code as seriously as Coke does their formula.  Without that info hacking into an Apple product is almost like trying to decipher a well designed passcode.

It surprised me that Android had almost 33 million malware infections last year and there seems to be no uproar?

Apple CEO

A Senate panel late Monday accused Apple (AAPL) of using what it called a “complex web of offshore entities” to dodge billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes.

via Lawmakers say Apple dodged billions in taxes – CBS News.

If we could just manage to get a Centrist party in control of those folks in Washington one of the first things I would want them to attack is our bloated tax code. The 10,000 plus pages of rules are at the core of the above article. Of course businesses want to minimize their tax load in order to increase their profits.  That is, after all, what the free enterprise system is all about. Profits are the sole driver.

One of my major themes in my life lately has been around the word “Simplify”. Our world is just getting too complicated when it doesn’t have to be. Let’s throw out those 10,000 pages and replace them with just a handful. Let’s take away the means for corporations to move massive amounts of their income into tax exempt entities.

Let’s just make income well, income. If it comes in it is income and you pay a certain percentage of it as taxes to support our government and its business. For the individual that means you pay the same rate for income for profits from your investments as you do from the sweat of your brow. That means if you inherit income you pay your taxes on that amount in order to pass part of your windfall on for the common good.  You didn’t earn it so it is taxable income to you. For corporations money coming in is income; doesn’t matter if it was from a foreign sale or one in the U.S.

Lets Get a Centrist party in power and direct them to simplify our tax code. After they accomplish that then I would want them to give us “real” universal healthcare; not that pretend extremely watered down version called Obamacare. But first things first I guess and that is getting centrists into power in our government. Click on the logo below to see more about that.

Centrist Party

Source: Windows 8: We kick the tyres on Redmond’s new tablet wheels • The Register.

Why is it that the once innovative start-up companies turn into stodgy of slow-moving monoliths? Of course in my mind Microsoft is currently at the front of this pack. I remember when Windows first came out to compete with Apple products.  They were a young and brash bunch back then. They actually started the business by writing an operating system for the current monolith called IBM. The stories about how all the Microsoft guys would dare to show up in meetings between the two companies without suit and ties was the topic of the day back then. The Microsoft guys just didn’t play by the same rules as those stodgy IBM “suits”.

It’s funny how one company can go one way and another a different path. As I mentioned Apple and Microsoft pretty much started at the same time but have taken very different paths since then. Apple continues today to be the innovator to watch while Microsoft who now imitates others and is watched mainly to see when they will fall from dominance. They have now become the IBM that they so loathed back then while Apple, at least for now, continue to bring out new innovative things on a regular basis.

Will there come a day when Apple will also go stodgy? Is the death of its founder Steve Jobs a beginning of that process? Maybe, maybe not.  When the business sector fully embraces Apple products and they are doing that with the iPad now, Microsoft’s dominance in the operating system and business apps will wither away.  Someday I would love to tell the folks at the large communications company that forced our engineering division from Macs to Windows PC “I told you so…” but given how slow big business moves even now that time may well be years away.

The “start-up kids” growing into major corporations is on the wane now due to the cash rich companies like FaceBook and Microsoft who gobble them up while they are still infants in the industry.  But someday again their will be a brash kid who says no to all that money and becomes the next radical leader to take over an industry. The future economic health of our country, as in the past, depends on that happening.

To close will the Microsoft tablet which is “almost as good as an iPad” become a success. Given the recent history of the company I kind of doubt it….

The next iPhone …

June 11, 2012

Source:Rumor roundup: The next iPhone – Gadgetbox on msnbc.com.

I will state up front here that after several failed attempts at having a cell phone I finally got and iPhone last October. It is everything I hoped it would be. My previous attempts at owning a cell phone proved less than expected. Since I am deaf almost all of my communications via cell is with text messaging. Sometimes my wife uses my phone for voice calls but not often.  One of my previous phones was so slooooow.., another insisted on losing its signal daily and then went into a battery draining ten minute reset!

I do use my iPhone to check on news and weather and even play games on it when I am waiting for my wife at the mall. I should have learned my lesson earlier when all the competitors kept saying “we are as good as an iPhone”. I was a Mac guy in my professional life until “corporate” declared them off-limits to all us engineers. So I knew Apple’s reputation for ease-of-use and innovations were well-earned.

But having said all this I am not really interested in the next generation of iPhone other than just curiosity. This is until the “new thing” is really revolutionary. Until it is obvious that it will improve my life. I suspect I will have this one for several years now. There is a huge after-market for used iPhones so I know probably millions trade-up on every new model. I may not always have the latest iPhone but I expect I will always have a iPhone going forward. So, I guess I am now one of those Apple snobs who turns up their nose at all the look-a-likes out there. If I am going to be a snob then I am glad it is in the gadget area. I would never every be a snob when it comes to people…..

Source: Apple scores with digital textbooks and app – USATODAY.com.

To encourage development, Apple launched iBooks Author, a free authoring tool for the Mac that encourages anyone to produce their own iBook textbooks, cookbooks, how-tos and other works. Apple says more than 600,000 copies of the tool have been downloaded since launch. Authors can distribute the books for free. But if they put the iBook textbook up for sale, they must do so through Apple’s iBookstore. (Authors can use the content in other digital and print formats, Apple says.)

Who among us, especially us bloggers, doesn’t want to be a published author. Well, now Apple has made that a distinct possibility and it is easier than you think. I recently downloaded their iBooks Author app and it is an impressive tool!  I am including a few snapshots here.

I have not had the time yet to thoroughly analyze this tool but upon a cursory look it seems to I be very user-friendly.  But, of course user-friendly is the rule rather than the exception with Apple software. :) I will let you know more about the tool in a future post.

It was once quite an ordeal to have a book published but in today’s electronic world with e-books becoming the norm it is getting much easier to do. One reason is that a factory line no longer needs to be dedicated to producing a bound document. E-books will of course result in a proliferation of new novels and such. With this much easier method of becoming a published author will also come with an increased responsibility of marketing your own material.  To those familiar with the myriad of social sites available today that job is also easier than it used to be.

If you want to be a successful author you have to determine if anyone out there will actually pay to read your material. This is where the well prepared vs. amateur will shine. A good way to find out if you have an audience for your topic is to start a blog about it and then grow it into an e-book if there is interest. So, if you are fortunate enough to have an Apple computer grab a free copy of iBook Publisher and give it a try. Before long you may just be a “published author”.

via Apple To Announce Tools, Platform To ‘Digitally Destroy’ Textbook Publishing | Epicenter | Wired.com

MacInnis sees Apple as possibly up-ending the traditional print publishing model for the low-end, where basic information has for many years remained locked behind high textbook prices. Apple can “kick up dust with the education market,” which could then create visibility for platforms like Inkling. This could then serve as a sort of professional Logic-type tool for interactive textbook creation complement to Apple’s “GarageBand for e-books.”

“There will be a spectrum of tools and consumers, and we will continue to fit on that spectrum,” MacInnis opined. “I don’t know if the publishing industry will react to it with fear or enthusiasm.”

Everyone who has any concept of the future knows that e-books are coming. They are the next logical step into the digital future. Of course there will be those who do everything they can to block this from happening. Leading that charge will likely be the current textbook publishers who earn more than $8 billion per year making the paper version. Where e-books are available today they are generally about 10 -15% of the cost of the paper versions. When e-textbooks become widely available what will happen to those dynasties? Will they go the way of the buggy whip manufacturers or will they get on the e-book trend instead of fighting it. That is anyone’s guess. Another industry that might take a hit with this change will be the backpack manufacturers and future chiropractors.  Jimmy will no longer have to pack twenty pounds of books to school everyday. :)

One of the scariest parts of this industry is the control that such a small group has on textbook content. What your grandkids learn is currently pretty much up to a handfull of powerful people from Texas. When e-book publishing, which I think Apple will be addressing, becomes much easier the choices in each educational area will expand dramatically. This will be a good thing for local schools. Having a choice is never a bad thing.

The biggest complaint about e-textbooks from their potential users are that they are currently mostly in the .pdf version and therefore you can’t highlight or otherwise mark on them. The other is the glare and eye strain from the brightly lite screens.  I have a feeling that by the end of this week those two complaints will be history. Apple, who has shaken more than one industry, will according to this article be shaking up this one also.

E-textbooks are coming, it is just a matter of when. Like everything else that has gone into antiquity there will be those who mourn their demise  and do everything they can to prevent it from happening, and there will be those who jump on board to make them better and even less expensive. I hope that the U.S. is a leader in this in new field. We need the jobs.

Don’t be afraid of change, it is your friend….

USA TODAY’s notable tech products from 2011 – USATODAY.com.

If you seniors out there want to learn about some of the tech innovations in 2011 I would suggest you read this article.  There are about a dozen significant things that surfaced in 2011 on the new technology front.

One of the first things I noticed in this article is that the author constantly mentions that some of the new products coming on the market are almost as good as Apple products. That seems to be a common mantra the last few years. I finally realized that if it is “almost as good” then why not just buy the Apple product.

Here’s to you Steve….

October 7, 2011

I guess everybody who has looked at any news source yesterday know that Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple Computer, passed away this week of pancreatic cancer.  He was only 56 years old.  Steve was definitely not one who was afraid of pushing the envelope of life and particularly our technology life. In that regard he was a hero of mine. I myself pushed the status quo a few times in my technical life but nothing compared to him.

In 1970, when Steve was fifteen years old, I started out my career as an electric engineer. Then in the early 1980s desktop computers were coming on the scene. I quickly latched on to one and spent hours writing programs for it. Soon after we “young” engineers had Apple Macintosh computers sitting on our desks.  The computer center frowned on them but basically ignored them. They said they were not real computers. It wasn’t long before we managed to network our computers by stringing wires in the ceiling. About then I started to write programs that my fellow engineers found useful in their work.

Fast forward a few more years and I was spending almost all of my work life developing applications for our “unofficial” Apple network. As the years went by the computer center folks finally gave in a declared that maybe this Macintosh stuff was here to stay and reluctantly agreed to start supporting our “outlaw” network.  That is when my official transition from electrical engineering to information technology took place. I was never too happy with my EE hat but couldn’t get enough of the computer stuff. I felt like a kid again!  If it hadn’t been for Steve I might have dredged through thirty years in the electrical field instead of finding my true career path.

In the early 1990s an edict came down from corporate headquarters that everyone would be moving to Windows PCs. It was quite a fight with us in the engineering division but of course the big bosses won out and we said goodbye to our Macs. I have been using Windows PCs since that day but have recently decided to move back to a Mac.  I think it was Steve Jobs who called the Windows PC a “giant hairball” and there is certainly some validity to that statement.  Due to having an open architecture and having to support many versions of computers and software the Windows operating system is indeed a very complex hairball.

Steve Jobs and Apple chose a different route and that was to maintain control of their own software and to let old legacy computer go to their natural death. For that reason there are basically no virus issues with Macs today. I look forward to once again being able to leave my computer on for days at a time without having to do a system reset or a check for the latest virus software. So, here I am a previous “Mac” guy getting ready to return to the fold. I continue to be somewhat of a renegade today so Macs fit right in with my rebellious personality. So, here is to you Steve for making my life a lot more enjoyable even in my senior years.