Monday, December 30, 2013

What's Next For FaceTime?

It's great that we now have FaceTime Audio.  It is a feature that should have easily come along with the video chat feature but I figure it's likely that Apple did not include it in the beginning to avoid roughing too much weathers with the carriers.  Now that we have it, great.  What's next for FaceTime?

It's important to remember that we humans are social creatures.  Most of us are anyway.  Most of us not only want social interaction but need it.  FaceTime has allowed many people to stay in touch over the years from vast distances - fostering and retaining relationships.  And let's not forget how many parents and grandparents are able to keep in touch with their families because of it. 

Now I ask this:  what is next for FaceTime?  What will Apple do to take FaceTime to the next level to make it a more robust mean of communication?

I like to be able to see a conference feature - allowing more than just the one-to-one chat available now and expand on that into a group chat.  It would be great if we can do this with both video and audio.  On top of that, I like to be able to record chats - both audio and video as well. 

Personally, I think those features are forthcoming.  We already know that this is possible on the Macs because other chat services like Skype and Google Hangouts are already possible.  And with the new 64-bit chips the iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina Display all have powering iOS, maybe that's what Apple will finally let loose what FaceTime is meant to do. 

On top of this, FaceTime conferencing would be a powerful feature that businesses can use to stay in touch with its own people as well as clients.  This could be one singular feature that Apple can offer that none of its competitors can hope to match. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Social: Twitter Briefly Blocked Pro-Duck Dynasty Fan Site

Source:  Fox News., a pro-Duck Dynasty website, had its tweets blocked by Twitter. Bias? Well, if we are to trust Twitter, and there is no reason not to, it mistakenly thought the site was a spam site. Personally, without knowing what it's about, I will not, and probably would not even if I did know what that site is about, visit the site.

I get enough cookies and trackers visiting me from more mainstream sites already.  I doubt there was any intentional attempt by Twitter to block pro-Duck tweets in this instance or another.  It's not really news except it is interesting to consider if any social sites would ever take sides in this current debate regarding what the elder Duck guy said in an interview regarding homosexuality.

Regardless of which side you take on the issue, I only suggest this as I've mentioned elsewhere on social networks and in conversations.  Would it not be better if you now know how Phil, leader of the Robertson clan, feels about social issues than not?

How he feels about the gay community and his opinion that black people never sang the blues?

A couple of days ago, I was flipping through the channels at a friend's house and came across A&E, the network that broadcasts DD.  I sat through a segment of it.  I don't care for reality shows.  I don't get why anyone cares how a family lives, how a group of spouses secretly plot against one another, or who is backstabbing how.

And after that segment, my opinion remains unchanged.  We know that there are people with extreme views on both ends of the social or political spectrum.  We don't need someone on television who really have no relevance in our lives to affirm that.

New Mobile Device On Christmas? What You Need To Do

Source:  CNET.

Got a new smartphone or tablet?  Well, let me be the first to welcome you to the mobile rank.  You're about to be more connected, productive, and in a few days or weeks, you'll forget your old life or wonder how you managed with your new trusty sidekick.

CNET has a post that suggests six things a brand new mobile warrior should do with his or her smartphone or tablet.  Personally, I think the first thing you should do is a happy dance.  Then after that, take a deep breath.

If it's an upgrade, you already know what it is like being a member of the mobile society.  If you're a brand new mobile warrior on the 25th (or later if UPS or FEDEX happened to still have your Christmas present), you've stepped into the future.  Future because of how fast the mobile market is moving and you better be ready.

Even before you follow CNET's suggestions, I think you should do the following:

  1. Gather all your e-mail and social credentials.  This could save you some time. You don't want to be in the middle of setting up your e-mail or chat account and have to stop to go find your passwords.
  2. Consider carefully what new services you'll need versus what you'll end up signing up for in all the excitement.  Some devices have their own crapware that you don't need to worry about and can likely ignore.
  3. Check the Web for information if you need.  Or go to the manufacturer site if you're not sure.  And if you think you did something you should not have, don't worry.  You can probably go back and undo it at some point. 
  4. You'll probably want to go to the app store and load up on apps.  Here, I'm gonna recommend you take another deep breath.  It's fun to download apps like games for the first time but you want to be sure it's safe - regardless of whether it's Google's more open Play Store or Apple's iOS app store.  Do some research first.
I'm not sure I care for CNET's suggestion to download app launchers or new wallpaper apps.  I almost never do that because I am just afraid they're black holes for user information.  What I do agree that you see if there are any update from the manufacturer.  Sometimes, an upgrade could mean new features or security updates.

So again, welcome to the mobile rank.  You've stepped into the future.  Have fun.  Be safe.  And enjoy your new mobile life.

Sex Toys - Mobile and Social Coming to Android Devices (They Mentioned Apple But I Doubt It)

Source:  Android Guysindiegogo.

I'm surprised we haven't seen more of this or mobile and/or social sites haven't given this more attention.  Sex toys that the mobile and social environment we now live in should allow two people vast distances away to "connect".

Lovense, as they've stated in the Youtube video, provides sensation from one partner to another using your good old sex toys.  Honestly, I've never seen one or held one in person so I've got no idea how it already works and how much better it will be now that there will be feedback and "sensational" input from a remote sex partner.

The idea is simple.  Feedback from one partner's device will be felt on the sex toy belonging to the second partner (or maybe even partners?).

Oh, and if you're just alone or your partner needs to charge his or her device or mobile device, well, there is still a way for you to entertain yourself.  In fact, it could move to any music you have in your library.

It's not a product you can buy yet.  The Lovense developers need your help!  With 18 days left, they're only little more than 1/3 of the way there to the $50,000 they need to fund the project on indiegogo.

What's also of interest to possible backers is that the Lovense engineers are working to optimize algorithms to provide the best experience possible.  Perhaps, who knows, there could be future firmware updates as well?

Based on the types of fundings, most backers are interested in rewards for both the male and female toys.

The backers claim that it'll work with iOS devices.  Okay, Android I get but I have my doubts whether Apple will approve Lovense apps for the app store.

Note:  So far, all the comments appear to be very generic.  Like, you know, those written by those from the company.

Social: Waiters Have Their Own Languages

Source:  WP.

Anniversary.  Birthday.  Types of Water.  Bread.  Help.  These are all signs that servers in a restaurant use to indicate to each other when they need to communicate or request help.

Of course, there are other formats used by high-end restaurants to keep track of service and customers they have gotten to know better.  Of course, I'm not talking about the same when with my local taco shack.  They know me but hardly anything sophisticated as a hand gesture is required to let the cook in the back know exactly what I know.

The Washington Post article called it "wordless routines".  And if you consider it, there are other service-based businesses that could use wordless routines that involve some form of hand-based communication.  And if not, they should.

In fact, I've done retail work where we have simple nods or gestures that allowed us to communicate with each other to save trips to the counter or having to walk across the store for something.

Whether it's a small store or a high-end restaurant, know what each server or salesperson is doing and being able to communicate it provides the appearance of seamless and efficient services being provided even if the customer isn't aware of it.  And they're not suppose to.

Next time I go into a restaurant, I'll be watching out for these signals.

Security: Leave The Hacking Or Online Hoaxes To The Professionals

Source:  NBC.

I came across this story about a Harvard student who called in a bombing hoax just because he didn't want to take an exam to a class which I presume he was not doing well in.

Based on the story, it sounded like he did not know what he was doing.  Maybe he googled what he needed to do but neglected to heed any step to cover his track.  Personally, I'm not versed in any of these things.  I can barely keep my own privacy in check from Facebook and others.

So, my advice to would be hackers or hoaxers who don't know what they are doing.  Don't.  Face the music, learn from whatever fail or debacle as a life lesson, and try to make sure you don't repeat your mistake.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mobile: External Batteries Popular in Asia

Battery issues are something I write significantly if not almost weekly. I've bought myself a couple of 10,000+ mAh batteries that has more than once saved me. And currently overseas, they're getting the workout that they were meant for. I thought I would be one of there few folks who carry around a battery pack or two in the US and even less so in Asia.

Boy, was I surprised. In fact, I think one out of every three mobile warriors here could conceivably be carrying a battery pack with them.

In fact, it is very common to see battery packs of all capacities bring sold right in phone stores, 7-11 stores (there are a freaking lot of these), small convenience stores, markets, and public transportation stops.

It goes to speak about the state of mobile in Asia and the dismal state of the battery technology. Be it the iPhone, HTC, or Samsung, there simply isn't enough battery life in these phones to sustain the growing role of mobile devices in our lives.

And the race to making devices lighter and thinner isn't at all what mobile warriors want. As I walk around, ride on trains, wait for rides, practically everyone has their eyes on their phones. Some are testing, updating their Facebook statuses, chatting or talking, or streaming videos (which is very popular here in Taiwan because their 3G services are fast, unlimited, and, as far as I can tell, not throttled).

As for who makes these battery packs, there are many generic brands that I've never head of before. Some have no labels beyond what is required by law here. But in the phone stores, you can find batteries from Samsung and Sony.

In the US, I don't see a huge market for external battery packs since most of us either drive or are on our offices - both places offered plugs when we need them.

I'm hoping manufacturers will run into barriers that prevent further thinning of devices and use whatever space savings they get to pack more battery into them.


Wonder Woman - Just Google And Sit Back

We've got our Wonder Woman for the next DC superhero movie staring none other than Batman fighting it out with Superman. Got the news from friends via texting, other social apps like Twitter, and emails.

I think gal Gadot is a good choice but one of my friends suggested Jamie Alexander. I'm with him on it. Both actresses have the look and build. And obvious the toughness of an Amazonian goddess.

I'm guess Alexander didn't get the role because of her involvement in Thor.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Social: Apple Gets Into Social Data with Topsy Buyout, What It Could Be Used For, Should We Worry

Source:  Macrumors, WSJ.

A couple of weeks ago, the big news was that Apple acquired a motion sensing company, PrimeSense (On Apple) that once made sensors for Microsoft's Kinect for the Xbox.  Late today, we learned that Apple has made use of its billions with another buyout: Topsy.  This one is just as significant and targeted as are other Apple buys.

According to reports, Topsy is a search (interesting) and analytical company indexes social data - like being in business with Twitter since 2006.  Now, in the past, people have suggested that Apple buy Twitter.  It's common sense that it would never happen.  So why buy Twitter when you can buy the tweets?

Does that mean that Apple will begin spying on its own ecosystem - iOS And Mac users?  Not likely.  However, it's possible for Apple to push ads, apps, contents, and whatever else in its ecosystem based on user tweets or just general trends based on all the information it already has collected about its users.

Interestingly, Topsy has data on Google+ as well (Facebook not mentioned which is not a surprise).  We'll see how long Google allows this given the change in Topsy management.

What is of interest from the privacy side is what Apple will be sharing, if any, with advertisers that utilize iAds and iTunes Radio.  In the past, Apple has blasted, without naming Google, of how the search and ad giant collects data from Android users.

Now, let's having fun with this.  Apple's very own search engine?  Probably not.  But it would be interesting to see just how Apple can go about creating one and how effective and accurate it can be if it ever wants to stop relying on Google, Microsoft, or anyone else.

I want to go down this unlikely road because, according to WSJ, this deal would not have gone through had Twitter not given Apple and Topsy its blessing.  A search engine filled with tweets would be an effective tool against Facebook and Google for Twitter.  Furthermore, it would allow better information to be collected and monetized that would be beneficial to Twitter's bottom line.

It is also possible that Apple is more interested in the technology behind Topsy.  With this $200 million acquisition, Apple likely bought itself a top notch social data and search apparatus as well as some valued engineers and analysts.

Furthermore, it could beef up Siri's own database and responses to user inquiries.  It'll be interest to see how Siri would utilize social data.

While I'm excited about this acquisition by Apple (most Apple acquisitions generate a great deal of attention), I am concerned about the possibility that Apple might share iOS and Mac user data with third parties.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wireless: Wi-Fi Blanket in Taiwan, Whether It Can Work In the US

I'm currently in Taiwan.  On vacation and visited work for a short while.  During the trip so far, it's been fun.  I've also suffered from food poisoning.  Better now.  One of the things I've noticed about Taiwan is the great mobile service.  Great single and decent plans.  In fact, I got a 3G sim card for my iPad.  It costs about $20 a month and it's data you want.  Unlimited.

And as far as I know, I have yet to encountered any throttling.

However, there is one issue that I found perplexing.  Wi-Fi isn't free.  I walk into a Starbucks expecting the same complimentary free Internet access in the US was no where to be found.  I was met with a Chinese mention that requires a paid log-in.  (I was told the local Starbucks here, and maybe elsewhere in the world, are not wholly-owned by Starbucks and are franchises.)

Then I was told that in the capital city of Taiwan, Taipei, blocks of the city is blanketed by a Wi-FI cloud.  That is, in fact, free.  Where I live here in a part called New Taipei, that service has not come here yet.

So, 3G but no Wi-Fi.  How about the US?  There are cities that have free Wi-Fi services.  I'm curious to see how it works when I get a chance to go into Taipei and see just how far the service is extended.

Supposedly, there are 57 cities in the US that provide municipal Internet access (wiki).  These municipal wireless networks are key to business and educational developments, and in some instances, bring Internet services to those who are unable to pay for them.

In general, I'm pretty optimistic about blanket Internet services because of how they can be used to augment cellular data networks by offloading access to other networks, taking the load off the cell towers and limited bandwidth and spectrum.

Furthermore, while it has been slow going in the White Spaces market, I'm optimistic that it will be key to the next generation of wireless access. Google has been a big proponent of White Spaces and recently opened up its database to others (Gigaom). The database will allow builders and developers to make products and services in spectrums not used by licensed users and to make sure that there are no disruption with existing services like TV signals.

More on White Spaces later as a lot has changed since we talked about this more than a year ago. Suffice to say, things are looking up in general for better and more reliable wireless access.  However, a wireless utopia is still decades away.

Social: Emergingadolescence, I May Be Suffering From It As Well

Emergingadolescence is a term I suspect will become more prevalent in society in the years if not decades to come.  It's a condition, maybe, in which people in their twenties or thirties are delaying adulthood as much as possible, for the most part, avoiding responsibilities that comes with their age, profession, or social activities.

I'll admit this.  I feel at times that I have not grown up to the extent that I should as well.  Maybe it comes from my environment where many of my friends are still single and we are uncertain about what we want from having a family.

Many more people are in fact staying single.  However, the extremes suffered by the people mentioned in the post from Slate about millennials are exactly issues that I've begun to see back in the early 2000s.  

There is an attempt by some to say to these kids (I say kids because of this perception) to just "suck it up".  However, I do believe this is a real change in society that adds pressure that previous generations have not had to deal with.

College degrees, particularly a mere bachelor, is like a glorified high school education.  Only a decade ago, this was enough to ensure financial and professional stability.  What'll be enough?  A master?  Hardly.  And only the right PhD will matter.

I'm sure many of us have parents who have college degrees that almost guaranteed them the ability to raise and provide for their families.  Today, dual incomes is barely enough.

All this has increased in the number of mental health cases - many are attributed to narcissistic personality disorder. Fairly or not, that is the case.

One would think that in the age of social networks should help with the process and bring like-minded millennials together - sort of a support group.  Even as they post and expose their privacy to advertisers, they are still unable to shed some of these darker feelings and fears for all to read.

The Slate post is a worthy read.  It summarizes the basics of the state of social norms and what pressures faced these "adult children".  It doesn't offer a solution as it should not.  

In a note related to this, I think some parents suffer from the opposite, unwillingness to accept the fact that their children have grown up enough to leave the nest. I don't know which is worse.

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...