The Smoking Gun in Apple v Samsung


Well, it looks like Samsung really did deliberately copy the iPhone feature by feature. Of course anyone paying attention at the time leading up to and immediately following the iPhone’s release should know how all the other cell phone makers went back to the drawing board to change their devices after it was clear the iPhone wasn’t a flop.

I’m guessing that a lot of the people who mistakenly think this lawsuit is about patents on rounded corners didn’t own pocket PCs and smartphones prior to 2007. For those of us who did (me: Handspring Visor Edge, Toshiba e330 Pocket PC, Sidekicks), it was clear as day how much the iPhone changed everyone else’s devices.

It was no mere coincidence, as Samsung claims, that iPhone-like devices were going to become the norm without Apple anyways. That is absolutely ridiculous.

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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Technology


@Forbes Why the Nexus 7 is NOT Google’s ‘Waterloo’

napoleon-dunce-capGene Marks’ trots out the dead corpse of an idea that catering to business customers, with gadgets and corporate services, is the long-term future for tech companies. So he thinks Google will fail because they’re expending too much effort targeting consumers. And while they’re distracted Microsoft will destroy them because the upcoming Surface will be nice for consumers but be a god-send for businesses.

The big problems with this argument are:

  • An entire movement called “The Consumerization of IT” – the most successful devices right now are those that resonate for consumers firstly, and these people are either bringing their personal gadgets into work or demanding them from their corporate IT staff. This is a widely accepted fact.
  • Specialized software and services that cater to businesses are no longer essential. Although Google Docs hasn’t given Office any major competition, there are myriad cloud services that sync my documents to my laptop, iPad and phone – all of which work for business or personal stuff. Why would we need a separate “corporate-centric” version of these services?

But the biggest reason this theory is DOA? The prime example of a company that focuses more heavily on the corporate market in the tech product and services space is RIM. It was recently estimated by comScore that The BlackBerry, once an essential tool for “serious” business people, has now slipped below 10% market share. And they repeated this same platitude all of the way to the bottom.

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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Technology


Magazine of F&SF, June 1972 – Review

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1972 (Volume 42, #6)The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1972 by Edward L. Ferman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I regularly find a lot of different issues of Fantasy and Science Fiction in bookstores and I’ve always wondered what I might discover if I only had the time and conviction to go through all of them. I came across this issue and purchased it immediately after seeing Gene Wolfe’s name in the contents. 

While his story was worth the $4 I paid, there were some bonuses too, listed below. One of the bigger surprises: The film review just happened to cover Night of the Living Dead!

Tarzan of the Grapes by Gene Wolfe: 
This is an enjoyable, if slight, story; tongue-in-cheek and having a very “meta” concept. This is only the second story I’ve read of Wolfe’s but I am anxiously awaiting the day I make it to the Book of the New Son that sits at the end of my to-read shelf. If these couple of glimpses are any indication, then an reviewer’s comparison of him to J. L. Borges is not inappropriate.  

Affair with a Lonesome Monster by Paul Walker:
Well-written story about a couple of psychic aliens that wage their final battle in a gay teenager’s mind. The setting and the frankness of the boy’s sexual orientation makes me really curious about how commonplace the topic was in popular culture at that time. Perhaps F&SF was still so marginalized that it was one of the safe places to write about that. 

The Week Excuse, by Isaac Asimov:
This is a well-reasoned essay on the failures of the Gregorian calendar and how it could be improved. Well it seems well-reasoned, I wasn’t able to follow it completely. It seems comically fitting that the first Asimov I’ve ever read would be this. Foundation is next, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it much more than this dry diatribe.

Variation of a Theme by Curt Siodmak:
Well-told short tale of a man trying to get rid of an actual halo that appears around his head. Perfectly paced, most likely due to the fact that Mr. Siodmak was a prolific screenwriter (turns out he penned the script for The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney and the 2010 remake). 

Son of the Morning by Phyllis Gotlieb:
I had to force myself thru the first half of this one.  It got way better after that. Giant, psychic red tigers from outer space prevent a ball of pure energy from instigating a pogrom in a small village’s synagogue. Yes it’s crazy, but you’ve got to love those really absurd concepts. Apparently Ms. Gotlieb was a somewhat popular Canadian scifi author. I probably won’t seek out her other stuff, out but I can see why plenty of other GR users like her. 

View all my reviews

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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Books


I Hope They Make Another

Found this gem today:

…it’s not a classic but it’s on its way to becoming one, and I want to talk about it here because it received minimal notice (like none) when it first appeared. By now it is a prize example of the film that builds a reputation only by word of mouth, without even the benefit of TV exposure, because it’s too rough to be shown thereon. Readers who live in cities or college towns, or who read the underground press…will know that I’m talking about Night of the Living Dead.

…I attended a midnight showing, the audience of which was primarily hip kids in their 20s come to laugh it up. Instead, I haven’t heard that kind of authentic audience response in the way of screams and gasps since the old days when an audience really did scream and gasp at horror movies.

…it concerns a night when the recently dead are reanimated with a hunger for human flesh.

The film combines suspense/terror … with gut, shock horror (extreme graphic cannabilism) more successfully than any other I can think of. Presumably George A. Romero (director/photographer) and John A. Russo (writer) deserve credit for the extraordinary film. I hope they make another.

– Baird Sales movie review in the June 1972 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Books, Film


Celebrate Your Geekiness Day

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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Humor, Personal


New Glasses

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Posted by on July 12, 2012 in Personal


Jeff Bezos Spends Free Time Finding Apollo 11 Boosters at Bottom of Ocean

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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Why Android Tablets Have Failed and May Continue to Fail

Android tablets have so far been a failure in the market – even by Google’s own admission. I think there are 3 primary reasons this has happened:

1. Honeycomb

2. Consumer freedom

3. Apps (and not just the quantity)

First, Honeycomb was the initial tablet-ized version of Android and it has a pretty awful interface. It’s buggy, laggy and user-unfriendly. That will be fixed later this year when the majority of Android tablets are running Ice Cream Sandwich (ICE). But by then it may be too late.

Secondly, It can be argued that Verizon’s lack of an iPhone for the first five years of its existence was the primary reason Android was able to gain a foothold in the market. Verizon was the largest carrier in the US and Americans were asking for iPhones. Instead of sitting still and apologizing, Verizon and Google went on the offensive. They poured money into advertising that drove awareness in the public that there was an alternative to the iPhone. Verizon’s sales people were given training on exactly how to answer their customer’s questions about wanting an iPhone. So instead of walking into a Verizon store, asking for an iPhone and walking out empty-handed and disappointed, customers were shown a similar-looking device that seemed every bit as good as an iPhone. This went on for years, in fact some Verizon sales people still push Android phones over the iPhone, even since the carrier started selling it. So if you were a Verizon (or Sprint, or T-mobile) customer, and you didn’t want to switch to at&t for a smartphone, you got an Android phone.

The same is not true of iPads. Anyone can get an iPad because you aren’t required to sign a two year contract to buy one. Because of this, iPads may dominate the market just like iPods did previously. It was mostly carrier lock-in that opened up an opportunity for a competitor to emerge. And Verizon really capitalized on that chance, even calling Android phones on their network ‘Droids.’ I still know people who look at you funny when you ask how they like their ‘Android’ phone and then they respond with “Oh, you mean my Droid?”

Lastly, there are very few tablet-dedicated apps. Android market has something like 200 tablet-specific apps. Apple’s iPad has over 140,000. This is a gaping hole in a chasm that’s essential for any mobile platform to cross. And apparently Google’s not focused much on changing it, at least not in the way that you might think. In a recent interview with, Google’s Android chief Andy Rubin said this about the dearth of tablet-specific apps on Android:

“Android’s unique in that it’s a single platform that spans device types,” including tablets and TVs, Rubin told me. “Fundamentally you shouldn’t have to have a third-party developer build his app twice.”

As soon as I heard this I immediately recalled Microsoft’s previous failure to popularize Windows 7 on tablets. Redmond’s initial attempt to compete with the iPad was to simply have all the manufacturers install regular Windows 7 on all of them. The outcome should have been obvious: the Windows 7 interface is not a good fit for a tablet’s screen size and usage. They’ve now abandoned this strategy and are now focusing on Windows 8, due this Fall, which has an entirely new interface designed with touchscreens in mind. If it’s as good as Microsoft’s recent work on smartphones (called Metro), then they may very well have a winner on their hands. And that’d be good because Microsoft is sorely in need of a win in mobile right now.

So Google’s approach to tablets in 2012 is the same one-version-that-runs-everywhere tact that failed MS just a couple of years ago. Tablets are their own unique form factor and require apps that are specifically developed for them. Anyone who bought the first iPad on launch day could tell you: phone-sized apps just ‘zoomed up’ on a larger screen don’t work well. Facebook for iPhone looked really stupid on an iPad until Facebook finally got around to releasing their iPad-specific version.

Obviously no one knows for sure what will happen with Android tablets but we’ve seen an eerily similar story before and it put Microsoft a few years behind in the tablet market. Maybe next year Google will be pulling a Microsoft and paying developers to port their most famous apps to tablet-specific versions. But if the next two versions of the iPad sell as well as the first two, it might be too late, just like Microsoft’s Zune was way, way too late to make a dent in Apple’s share of the portable music market.

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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


How Apple Can Release Only an iPhone 4S Tomorrow and Not Totally Disappoint Everyone

It seems like everyone is expecting Apple to release a brand new iPhone – the iPhone 5 tomorrow. Alas all we know for certain is that a slightly upgraded version of the iPhone 4 – an iPhone 4S – is being shown off. Hopefully Apple has some other things hidden up their sleeves. Here are a few possibilities that could sweeten the bitterness of an MIA iPhone 5 tomorrow:

1. Surprise new features in iOS 5 (the next release of the iPhone software due this month):

a. Voice control and recognition system-wide. This would ape another Android feature but if the rumors are true, Nuance is involved. Nuance is best known for Dragon Dictation software but if they’re involved, it could be a game-changer.

b. Apple=branded maps and navigation. Aping yet another feature of Android, although given the typical Apple polish this could also surpass its predecessor.

2. NFC – Near Field Communication for purchases with just your cellphone. We know Apple’s been working on this (due to patent fliings) and Google has already begun their (very limited) test of NFC with Android.

3. iCloud music streaming. As announced (and as currently running in beta), Apple’s “iTunes-in-the-cloud” service only allows users to re-download previously purchased songs :( But if they allowed streaming, this would realize its full potential. Otherwise they’re not even competing with Google Music and Amazon’s music locker.

Unfortunately at this point it seems likely that only one new iPhone will be announced tomorrow. I hope I’m wrong. But if I’m not, there’s going to be quite a chorus on “mehs” afterwards.

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Posted by on October 3, 2011 in Technology


Future of Apple Revealed in 1997 During Q & A Session with Steve Jobs

This is incredible: a recording from Apple’s 1997 World Wide Developers Conference.  Specifically, the post-keynote Q & A session with Steve Jobs where he takes questions from anyone in attendance for over an hour and revealing the present future of the company and its products today – over 10 years later.

In this exchange he reveals his vision for the things that eventually materialize as iCloud, mobile apps and simplified application development and more.  He also sports some awesome 90s jeans with patches.

The juiciest spots:

6:30 – Media over-blowing effect of so-called Brain Drain as Apple managers leave and the company (particularly prescient for the last couple of weeks)

14:10 to 17:10 – iCloud (network-based storage and backup)

19:00 – Having integrated software and hardware is not a liability, it’s a key benefit as it allows fast transitioning to new technology (WinTel = 93-headed monster)

24:50 – Apple’s need to promote apps through marketing (became foundation of iPhone marketing)

52:23 – Philosophy: start with user interface then work backwards to the technology (customer’s needs first, then engineering, instead of beginning by asking engineers ‘what can/should we do?’)

1:01:10 – iPhone foreshadowing: Newton sucks and will fail because it’s a 3rd set of system software BUT it missed the boat by not being connected to the internet.  Otherwise it’s just “a little scribble thing”.

1:10:05 – Embrace change at Apple and support it with app development because Apple laying groundwork to be able to zoom ahead of the rest of the industry (which has been true to Apple’s sales alone for the past few years).

[via John Gruber]

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Posted by on June 26, 2011 in Technology

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