Friday, August 31, 2012

School Starting Soon? Ask The Polar Bears How They Feel About That

I saw this on Facebook so I thought I'd share it with folks still in school.  You know, with school starting soon and all.  It's in Chinese but I'll summarize at the bottom.

Three pictures:

  • The first one is during summer break.
  • The second one is two days before school starts.
  • The third one, you guessed it, is after school has started.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Green/Mobile: Kickstarter-Based Solar Charger Promises Results As If Plugged Into An Outlet

Source: Mashable.

A solar charger for mobile devices that doesn't suck.  Well, here we have it.  And I don't know it will suck or not but I think I'll be funding this Kickstarter project because it is the closest to the Holy Grail of mobile solar charging that I have ever seen

The SunVolt Solar Power Station charger offers the ability to charge devices via the sun (on a clear day) as quickly as if you had your mobile devices plugged into a regular old socket.  Obviously, others have promised similar performances but results have varied - generally from not working to very slow at best.

What I like to be able to do is to plug this also into a portable battery that I can use as an emergency when I don’t need to charge my devices at that moment. Obviously, having a backup battery would be very useless in many situations. Personally, I thought of a few right away: a wind or rain storm that knocked our our power last November, this past weekend, I was at a Hawaiian fair where electricity was hard to come by at times, and, of course, during a zombie war or vampire infestation when you fear treading out at night.

I suggest you head over and check it out at its Kickstarter page.  I'm looking at the $180 level so I can get two chargers.  And if this works as advertised, I'll get more later for family.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Samsung: Note Success Likely Mean More Successful Tab Penetration

Source:  Information WeekThe Droid Guy.

I've seen plenty of promising iPad challengers come and go. If you're even a remotely interested observer of the tablet market or have walked to Staples or Office Depot here in the US and see dust collect on the selection of  Android tablets, you'll know what I'm talking about.

However, Samsung is persistent.  Very.  And with the Galaxy Note 10.1, losing the, perhaps cursed name, "Tab", it could see better success.  Android needs this.  Google needs this until it can come out with its own Nexus 10 to compete with the iPad.  And let's never forget that Surface is just ready to pounce on the tablet market.

The Galaxy Note has done well - to the tune of 10 million sold world-wide.  Perhaps, it could translate into success for the 10"1 version.

And just as this all starts, we're looking for Apple to assault the 7 to 8" tablet segment of the market in a few weeks.  As a mobile fan, we can't wait to see just how Apple, Samsung/Google, and Microsoft fight over for our hard earned money.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Just Grow Up Already: Awesome And Motivational Words - PInterest of All Places

I saw this on my friend's Facebook page and I googled and found this Pinterest link good enough.  It's from a youth judge to teens about what they ought to be doing with their lives.  I think it applies so not just our youth but also to me, people who yet to grow up.

In case you're having trouble reading it, here is what the judge said:

Always we hear the cry from teenagers:  "What can we do, where can we go?"
My answer is this:  "Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you've finished, read a book.
Your town does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy, and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again.
In other words, grown up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone.  Start behaving like a responsible person.  You are important and you are needed.  It's too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday.
Someday is now and that somebody is you.


iPhone: 3D Mockup of What Next iPhone Should Look Like

Source:  Cult of Mac.

Here's a 3D mock-up of what the next iPhone could look like based on a lot of credible information coming out of very good sources, sources that are traditionally Apple's leaks.

If you're looking for something dramatically different from the iPhone 4 and 4S, you'll be disappointed.  Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to like about the new iPhone if it's anything like what we see in the video. Bigger screen, bigger battery life, improved insides like CPU and perhaps LTE.

It may even be thinner as well.  And just a critical note about this iPhone and not what Apple might give us:  it does look a bit awkwardly long.

But from a fashion sense perspective, there is not the change from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4 in terms of the form factor.  But hey, it's probably not gonna stop me from upgrading my iPhone 4 to what is sure to be another insanely great product from Apple.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Batman: Fan Flick Faces The Dark Knight Against Bane and Jokers (Yes, Plural!)

Source:  Blastr.

First, you can never get enough of Batman, especially the latest Dark Knight Rises.  Seriously, you just cannot.  So, some fans decided to take it upon themselves to make a short using action figures (fine...collectibles.  Happy?) and punched some a most excellent video.

See for yourself.  Actually, after watching this, I'm more enticed to want to go back out this weekend and watch DKR again.  You just can't get enough of it.

Did I already say they did a great job?!

Mobile: Square And Starbucks Team Up - Will Benefit Android and iPhone Users And Just Start Mobile Payment In General

Source:  Square.

Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks is going to be working with Square, you know those guys with the mobile payment reader, and even investment some large sum in the company.  Just what they'll be working on together is something that I am not too sure about just yet.

It's not like Starbucks needs Square's credit card reader because Starbucks already have those and even mobile apps for users to charge their drinks on.

However, Jack Dorsey, founder of Square, specifically mentioned that Starbucks will integrate a directory to allow local businesses with Square support to be listed.  Interesting and it remains to be seen just how effective this will be.

In fact, I had always thought of Square a company that builds the credit carder for the iOS devices.  However, I didn't know that they have an app for consumers as well.  Though I've never used it, I suspect it's a lot like Starbucks' own app or even more simple to use.

And judging the all the attention this is getting on Twitter and Google's search, I suspect this is a very big deal - could be the thing that dislodge the conundrum of mobile payment that Google Wallet and other mobile payments have not been able to get users to use.

And what's awesome is that whatever Square and Starbucks are planning, we should see this on most of the major platforms - namely, Android and iPhone.

Also, Starbucks' current payment system will still exist only that Square's own will be added on top of that.  Choices for consumers - what a grand innovative concept (being sarcastic here).

Still how does it work?  Mother Nature Network has a decent write-up.  I'll let you click through to it. What I like most about the Square app is the ability to leave a tip, something that is woefully lacking on Starbucks' own app.  And by using Square's app, you can get rewarded if the businesses you frequent offers them.

Man, I can't wait.

iPad Market In China: Android Second But Watch Out For Surface

Source:  Appleinsider.

So far, it looks like it's an Apple's iPad market in China.  In the last three months ending July with Apple only beginning to sell the iPad 3 in late July, the iPad has a 72% market share compared to everyone else with mainly Android tablets bringing up the rear.

It'll be interesting to see where Surface sits when it begins selling in China.  Windows is very popular there so it's possible that Microsoft could have a shot at second place down the line.

Regardless of what happens, the iPad isn't likely to have such a dominating share as other tablets with newer devices like cheap 7" versions hit the market.  However, the Chinese market is huge so there is plenty of pie for everyone.

The question is where devices like the Nexus 7 will fit into all this and if Google, Microsoft, and Lenovo can afford not to take some risks to gain sales quickly.  Let's see how Surface or a variant from an OEM does there against the Android tablets.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Green: US Heat Waves, Hunger Games, And Global Warming

I was looking to increase me donation to the World Food Program this Sunday morning as I comfortably sit on my house steps this morning sipping my coffee and eat away jalapeƱo Cheetos, trying to do nothing for the day. But after reading about the droughts in the US and kinda all over the world, an "aging" old question regarding climate change and warming popped up agains and I cannot figure out the answer.

Why are we still denying there is a dramatic change in our atmosphere, regardless of whether this is man-made or not? Regardless of whether if the planet is actually warming or not, why not error on the side of caution? Why not stay conservative on this issue and conserve, go green, and generally appreciate the great blue dot that God (or whatever deity you worship or not) had granted us?

So this is a map from the WFP that I was looking at from a post regarding the drought and food crisis of Sahel region of West Africa. Huge area with tens of millions of people who live there without the much needed water.

And here in the US, we are going through our own problem with a persistent heat wave that has created a lot of short-term problems. However, they are dwarfed by long-term ones that could get worse and worse over years. But with the US being the US, we are likely going to get through it better than most other countries or regions. Still, there could come a day when the tipping point is reached and the climate really does to heck on such a regular basis that life as we know it on this planet will change forever.


Mobile: Apple's Range of Products and Pricing Suck Up Demand From Mobile And Laptop Competitors

Tim Cook is a master of the supply chain as many attributed Apple's ability to move quickly to new technologies while managing to scale relatively quickly to meet demands and keeping its profit margins high.  But Apple's long-term strategy to provide mobile warriors with a wide selection of devices covering a a range of prices could be what will lead the company to eventually dominate the mobile market - and I'm talking about mobile devices like tablets as well as laptops.

Here's is some of why this could happen as discussed in this CNET post.  The gist is that Apple has the high-end covered with the Macbook Airs and the current price range of the ultrabooks of $800-900 occupied by the ultrabooks also sits the high-end iPads.

Obviously, ultrabook buyers will go with the Intel-based laptop because they need something that is more traditional than just the tablet but the iPad is increasingly gaining traction as a producitvity device.  And sales of Windows laptops are affected by the rising waves of iPad adoption at work, home, and school.

On the low end where $200 tablets remain unharassed by the iPad, it likely won't be when Apple does release a device to compete in that $200-$300 range.

Personally, I am quite content with my late-2010 Macbook Air and the only reason I'll have to upgrade in a couple of years is if OS X moves beyond what my little workhorse can handle or there are few features in new Macbooks that I absolutely need.  Oh, and longer battery life.

Until then, I'll likely look to upgrade my iPad and pass my old one onto some lucky relative.

So, it is becoming very clear that Apple has build a system of apps, media, and hardware that are so closely knitted together that once you get a foot in the door, you will find it hard to pull back.  And Apple has price things so perfectly that it provides for the need of a wider range of consumers while making it very hard for competitors to complete.

Mobile: Patent War Fatigue - Almost Over? And Why Not Just Innovate

Pull to refresh is a feature that we can't live without on our mobile devices.  Also, inertial scrolling.  Boy, is that useful.  And double tapping a screen to zoom in?  Awesome.  I use this feature everyday.

As a matter of fact, I use all of the three mentioned features above on my mobile browser and apps just about every time I hold up my phone or tablet.  And yet, Apple down the patents for the latter two features. And this is also the issue among a few that is going on now between a patent lawsuit between Apple and Samsung.

Last week, Google said that some of Apple's more valued (by Apple) should be open for all to use, maybe with a small licensing fee.  Obviously, Apple disagree.

I'm kinda torn about this.  On one hand, I'm not sure about patenting features like these.  On the other hand, some very smart people did figure out what the best touch UI features that they feel work best and it doesn't necessarily mean it is more natural.  I am sure with a population of 7 billion on this planet, there are folks out there that will one day figure a better way for scrolling or tapping to zoom.  Even better UI than pull to refresh.

Also, given the charges Apple has levied against Android hardware makers, I wonder what features Apple copied and why they haven't been sued for it.  The pull-down menu for notification comes obviously to mind.

Anyway, the patent war rages out but we could have some resolution soon.  I'd say no one copy anyone and we should be okay going forward.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Green: Video of A Huge Wave Created By Falling Ice Into Water

Source:  Our Amazing Planet.

Get ready for an adrenaline rush bit time.

Nothing like seeing your life flashed before your eyes, eh?

Well, apparently folks already live in or near around Greenland (I guess we're kinda everywhere now. you know, humans) so this dude in the video is all for a big rush.  Well, he got it as you can see.

He caught the video of the ice falling into the water at the right time and filmed its awesome aftermath and dude's uncle wisely turned to ship around and ran.

But it was over, not quite so you'll have to click through to find out.  As we've said before, global warming is having a huge effect on ice sheets and glaciers all over the planet with an unprecedented 97% of Greeland's nice turned into mush.

Curiosity's Successful Landing On Mars Explained: iPhones, iPads, And, Of Course, Macbooks

Aside from the hard work and dedication of the scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern Calfornia that accounted for the successful landing of the Curiosity rover on late Sunday night, there is another factor for it.

Apple gears.  And just about every device was well-represented inside the control room.

The pic says a lot doesn't it?  Now, I'm wonder just what future rovers would look like if Apple's world-class designers and engineers were to be asked to design the next generation of rovers and spacecrafts and how Samsung would try to copy that.

Source: Appleinsider.

Curiosity Scientists And Engineers at JPL Get The Gold Medal

Here's a very good post about the Curiosity and what it's all about in case you missed (like I did but for a good reason) the landing and where we go from here.

USA Today's report also include a pic of the sheer size of the newest rover.  Life on Mars about to be found?

You can find more information (and you should) about the Curiosity and the rest of the Mars mission at JPL.

Those scientists and engineers have really shown just what the US space program can do when we put our best folks on it.  I just hope the successful landing and subsequent discoveries about Mars will allow those idiots we send to Washington to begin thinking more about the future of humanity in space rather than what's good for their parties.

Yeah, I just had to give the JPL guys a plug and a shot at Washington.  Force of habit...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Movie: Starship Troopers Invasion

One of the better scifi movie that came out of a book that was also better than the book was Starship Troopers.  You might disagree with me but I think the movie took the idea and did one better than the author.

Since, the first movie, we have seen others that followed up.

And on top of that, was was a computer-generated cartoon version that was quite awesome for its time and even today.

Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles tv show photo

Now, get ready for Starship Troopers:  Invasion.  I've already pre-ordered it.  You can see for yourself why.

Release is mid-August thereabout.  I can't wait.  Maybe if this movie does well, we'll see a new series for TV or even mobile games for the iPhone and Android.  Obviously, there is a large contingent of fans who can't get enough of these bugs and their human exterminators!

Mobile: Some Colleges Unable To Meet Wireless Demands Despite Increasing Tuition

Source:  Mashable.

Interesting post on colleges having trouble meeting the wireless demands on their networks.  The thing with this is that those colleges without adequate wireless Internet services should be pointed out because our students need them - it's practically as important as having oxygen.

US News And World Report does an annual ranking of the best schools.  Maybe they ought to include a section for schools best able to meet the mobile and technological demands of their students.

More than 3/4 of US higher education institutions have problems meeting their students' wireless needs.  This is absolutely horrible.  And the thing is that it'll get worse quarter after quarter, sememster after semester, not just by year.

And not just with students armed with smartphones and laptops but tablets will increasing become an integral part of their learning process.  Here are some disturbing information:

  • Only 68% of schools offer unlimited connectivity.  I don't know what the other 32% are thinking by keeping its student population from downloading notes or its researchers from...well, researching.
  • Little more than 1/2 of schools can claim go have 80% of residential area covered.  
  • Only 1/3 of schools offer 500Mbps speed.  
  • 64% Of students consider moving because their Internet is slow or nonexistent.  I would.  
Here is another fact that highlights just how schools are slow in adapting to the needs of their students.  9 Of 10 schools think it'll get worse as tablets flood the campus in the coming years.  Dude, they're coming this fall, in like a few weeks.

Higher education remains one of the crown jewels in the country and students here learn to prepare and compete in an increasingly sophisticated and wired global economic system.  It's the best opportunity our future gen has to continue to do well.  And wireless tech is now a part of the process regardless of whether archaic school administrators want to face it or not.

What Does Apple Hope To Gain With Its Own Maps App?

Interesting Appleinsider post here about how Apple will use its own maps to replace Google Maps and deny Google valuable information about iOS users.

I have to wonder if all this matters much in the long run.  It isn’t as if Google, with only location information data from Android users, arguably with a larger installed base than iPhone users, won't be able to create awesome new features and services.  In fact, Android users has had better mapping services from Google for years.  And it’s not as if Google Maps will suddenly disappear from the App Store either.

It's only with iOS 6 that iPhone users will gain some parity with Android map apps from Google.

Whether it is Apple, Google, or even Microsoft, their services has to provide value in ways that is unique it its installed base.  Maybe that’s what Apple is hoping to do.  However, last I check, there are quite a few Google developed apps and they’ve enjoyed a lot of downloads.

Anyway, competition is good for all mobile warriors so I’d say bring it on.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mobile: "Metro" Is Dead, Now Called "Windows 8-Style UI" (Yikes...)

Source:  Arstechnica

.Metro style apps running on different devices

Microsoft will be abandoning the "Metro" name and in its place, the UI will be called "Windows 8-style UI". Talk about a mouthful.  Why the change?

According to Ars, it's because a German company threatened to sue.  With Windows 8 launch happening soon, Redmond figured it would be easier to just work around it.  Unfortunately, while Microsoft put on a brave face about how "Metro" was only a code-name, a look around its website shows that Microsoft had long term plans for "Metro".  I mean, it's all over the place.

Hope this doesn't trip things up for Surface and subsequent tablet and phone launches.  We general mobile fans and consumers need a strong Microsoft to compete in the market place.

Scary Trailers (Paranormal Activity 4, The Possession): I get Scared Easily But...

Source:  blastr.

I get scared easily but I love it.  Having said that, after watching Paranormal Activity 3 in a theater with a friend, and there were just the two of us in there for the matinee, we went back home and rented Paranormal Activity 1 and 2 to catch up.

Needless to say, I did not sleep with the lights off for nearly a month.  It was only a powerful windstorm that knocked out power for three days that I had the lights off at night.  And my house is freaking filled with mirrors and very reflective windows.

Well, Paranormal Activity 4 will soon be upon us.  And here is the trailer.  The only reason I was brave enough to watch it is because I'll have a house guest with me for a couple of weeks.

See the end of it?  Puts a whole new perspective on using Facetime, Hangout, or Skype.

Also, here is another movie, The Possession, that...sigh, I don't know why I do this to myself.  Yes, I look forward to scaring myself when it's released too.  It's from Sam Raimi.

Oh, it's based on a true story...


LinkedIn Tops Expection, Like Yelp, Networklets Run Circle Around Facebook

Source:  Yahoo.

I'll make you click through to Yahoo but know only this:  LinkedIn, like Yelp yesterday, topped Wall Street expectations (which doesn't say much).  Only only that, LinkedIn also raised outlook.  So, counter to what Wall Street likes us to think, social networks can make money, unless, of course, its Facebook.

And with Facebook's stock being beat up, I had always thought it has been unfair to lump everyone else in along with it.  Zynga is the exception because it depended on Facebook to make a large portion of its money.

Once the novelty of playing games and paying for fake money came up and went, well, you know how the story ended.

Networklets, like Yelp and Foursquare, even Twitter, are able to generate revenue and largely succeed in mobile because they geared towards a specific need and provides invaluable services.  On the other hand, annoying ads on Facebook just doesn't work.  We've been trained for a better part of a decade to ignore ads.

On top of that, if you're on Facebook apps for Android, iPhone, or another device, you're now seeing sponsored companies for you to "like".  Another annoyance from Facebook that we simply flick away.

While LinkedIn isn't big on mobile like other networklets, it is geared towards a specific segment of the social landscape and provides needs beyond just staying in touch with friends and families.  Hence, LinkedIn is more capable of generating than Facebook.

Not only that, LinkedIn is profitable now.

Mobile: Dumbass Texting While Driving Off Clip (He Lived)

Another example of (stupidity) why texting and driving don't mix.  It should be in the came category as drunk driving as far as I'm concerned.

The idiot in the case lived but I hope they billed him for all the clean-up.  I might sound harsh but what if he had drove head-on into a family of four with young kids and killing them all - one of the kids could one day become a great doctor who find a cure to a disease or solve our energy problem?

It's a must watch video.

Next iPhone: What Kind of Camera?

While there has been a lot of speculations about the screen of the iPhone, whether it'll have NFC (near field communication) chip to go along with Passbook, and how thin it'll be, I have wondered about what kind of camera it'll have.

It's conceivable that Apple could go with the same camera as the iPhone 4S because of all the above features I've mentioned.  It could be that there will be enough new features and a form factor for the next iPhone that Apple doesn't see any need to upgrade the camera this time around.

On top of that, let's not forget the CPU upgrade that the iPhone is likely to get.  

Another factor that I think Apple might keep the camera at 8MP with marginal improvement at that is because of storage.  Let's say Apple goes ahead with a 10MP or 12MP camera upgrade.  The storage could be an issue for the 16 GB version of the new iPhone.  Then again, it could be because of the added storage requirement for photos that will drive users to go with the 32 GB iPhone instead.

This is just something that came to mind as I ponder about the camera upgrades for the iPod touch and the unicorn iPad mini.  Oh, and let's not forget that Steve Jobs had met with Lytro's CEO in the past.  Believe me when I tell you that Jobs doesn't meet with just anyone and certainly not for idle chitchats.

Obviously, it's highly unlikely that Apple's engineers will be able to fit that inside the iPhone but the discussion could result in sparking some new innovative juice for the camera.  

Anyway, I just thought it odd there's been no word on the camera.  It's been pretty quiet on this rumor front.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Social: Yelp's Earning Result Shows Networklets Can Make Money (Facebook Still Spinning)

Source:  MW.

Lately, stocks of social network companies haven't done all that well.  And you can point your finger squarely at one specific IPO that failed miserably:  Facebook.  And while Zynga, a Facebook's "friend", has seen its fortune fall with Facebook, I can't say anyone else should be lumped into that same group.

Yelp's earnings today reflect that belief.  Yelp, a networklet as I like to call it, isn't a full blown social network like Facebook or Google+ but it is focused on one thing:  helping mobile users find reviews and places to go.  And it does it very well.

Yelp is still losing money but it does so because it wants to in order to lay the groundwork for maximizing profit later.  Again, this isn't something that Facebook can do well - Facebook is finding that doing mobile isn't just simply putting out an app.

The key for Yelp could be its location-based revenue and user-generated content.  Facebook just has a bunch of useless updates that don't bring value at all.

Cloud: On Nov 6th, We’ll Know If Twitter’s Election Index Is Correct

Source: Gizmodo via Twitter.

Twitter thinks it can predict the election.  It isn't saying it quite like that but I think that’s what they want to say with their new election index based on tweets from its users.  I think it’s cool if the sampling truly reflect the population of the electorate that is likely to go out and vote on November 6th.  But I doubt it.

Essentially, the number index given to each candidate, President Obama or Governor Romney, reflect the percentage of positive tweets about them of all tweets.

Twitter didn’t just come out with this on their their own, obviously.  They teamed up with some research firms to develop the index.  According to Twitter, they numbers for the index could be more accurate than poll numbers.

Twitter pointed out that while the index and Gallup’s numbers were close, the index could better reflect a change in mood towards a candidate faster than polling samples. The example they provided was that after getting rid of Osama Bin Laden, the Twitter index changed to show usersmoved on to economic issues that resulted a drop in President Obama’s indext number while poll numbers were slower to reflect a drop in the President’s ratings.

It’ll be interesting on November 6th if Twitter’s election index is right or not.

The implications of this goes beyond just elections.  Brands, policies, celebrities, and anything that depend on public opinions could greatly benefit from this if Twitter can get this right.  It'll be a source of revenue and allows Twitter act as a collective brain that could not only reflect the public but possibly shape everything that affects our lives from government policies to what reality TV celebrities we hate the most.

AT&T Might Not Be Asking Reps To Stieer Customers Away From iPhone But Competitors Might

Source:  BGR.

AT&T is disputing a post on BGR that its managers are telling store reps to steet customers looking for iPhones towards competing devices on Android and Windows Phone.  I don't know if AT&T is necessarily the ones doing it but I reckon Apple's competitors might provide incentives for them to do that while AT&T turns a blind eye.

No one would put it past AT&T and its Apple's competitors to employ such tactics.  There's nothing wrong with that by the way.  However, you can just feel the intense feelings and regrets coming from AT&T for giving Apple so much power over its customers back in 2007 when the iPhone first came out.

Seriously, otherwise, why would AT&T put so much money in trying to help sell the Lumia devices from Microsoft and Nokia?

Anyway, AT&T disputed the assertion but it doesn't say that its competitors are not behind it.  In the long run, it is hurting only itself and its customers.

Apple Should Prepare to Leave China (There Is Still Time To Execute Such A Plan)

At first glance, you might think that the title of this article is a clickbait considering that China is the second biggest economy in the w...