Categories
quickie tech

Amazon makes the checkout chick redundant

I mean, even more so than previously:

I wonder where people are going to get the money to pay for these fancy computer monitored grocery stores.

Categories
tech

Sony’s Design History

This collection of photos from Sony’s design history is beautiful and demonstrative of some amazing stuff that came out of Sony over the years. Always loved their gear. So much seemingly definitional and advanced stuff they made, and it all seemed to end with Howard Stringer’s time at the helm.

(partly also thinking of the story of how Steve Jobs appreciated Sony’s designs, and how that talks about the relationship ending with Stringer’s time as CEO, and how with Apple’s increasingly consumer-neglectful design changes, I don’t have Sony’s designs to fall back on…)

Categories
tech

Douglas Adams lays out the roadmap for technology

I’m an avowed Douglas Adams fan, and this is just pure evidence that he died way, way too soon – written in 1989:

All I want to do is print from my portable. (Poor baby). That isn’t all I want in fact. I want to be able regularly to transfer my address book and diary stacks backwards and forwards between my portable and my IIx. And all my current half-finished chapters. And anything else I’m tinkering with which is the reason why my half-finished chapters are half-finished. In other words I want my portable to appear on the desktop of my IIx. I don’t want to have to do battle with cupboard monsters and then mess about with TOPS every time I want that to happen. I’ll tell you all I want to have to do in order to get my portable to appear on the Desktop of my IIx.

I just want to carry it into the same room.

Bang. There it is. It’s on the Desktop.

And when someone asks why Apple’s “Continuity” feature and seamless “it just works” stuff is exciting when you could do it yourself, this is why.

(The whole piece is brilliant, just the lovely Adams ramble that brings so many wonderful images to the fore and yet is really a rant about Adams not being able to find the right cable for his laptop (back before there were such things as “laptops”))

Categories
asides tech

iPhone Photography

Beautifully presented comparison of the photographic capabilities of every iPhone to date

Still love the colours/textures from the 3GS there – was a big step up for phone photography all those years ago.

Categories
tech

Can you hear the difference?

Blind test: can you hear the difference between uncompressed WAV, 320kbps MP3 and 128kbps MP3?

I got an awful 2 of 6 for picking the WAV, though thankfully I never picked the 128kbps MP3… but it’s a close run thing.

Categories
tech

A.I. is coming

Google (where else) develops computer program capable of learning tasks independently, is training it on computer games from the 80s (so far). I’m… really not sure that’s a great idea to start A.I. learning the most efficient methods to get high scores on games that will often involve killing… (nobody say Skynet!)

Categories
tech the daily column

Subscribing to Wikipedia

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet has free access to the sum of all human knowledge. — Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia

When you think about how many sites around the web are entirely powered off the back of advertising rather than direct money, it’s kind of astonishing something as frequently and widely used as Wikipedia runs without any advertising and serves up dynamic pages as quickly as you can imagine. There’s media and text and an ever-growing reference and resource that has proven invaluable over the years.

Think about how many times a day you use Wikipedia – whether it is because you’re a student and it’s the world’s best secondary source, or whether you want to check up a fact, or whether you’ve just gone to look up one thing and found yourself taking a wiki-walk to discover all manner of trivia. I know I look it up at least 2-3 times a day, often more.

Wikipedia from time to time runs fund-raising drives to try to pay for the upkeep of servers and suchlike, and presumably they’ve been raising enough whether directly or indirectly to keep the show running. I’ve contributed every so often over the last three years, recognising its role in the internet, but what has recently been brought to my attention is that Wikipedia offers an option to have a monthly payment.

“Subscription” was the first word that came to mind, in the magazine sense, or in the sense used these days for software offered on a timed basis, something increasingly common as a way to keep a revenue stream.

However, for Wikipedia, it’s almost more sensible to call it being a patron – in the old school, patron-of-the-arts style, enabling the people behind Wikipedia to do what they need to. I’m telling you all this to try to sell you the idea of paying for Wikipedia – it’s a resource we don’t want to see fail, the most visited site on the internet, all running for free and all built off the contributions of the visitors.

I’m a patron of Wikipedia, all for the miserly sum of $5 a month. You can be one too from as little as $3 – just head over here and sign up to support the best volunteer project in the world.

(And even if I haven’t sold you on being a regular contributor, I should’ve guilted you into throwing a little bit of money Wikipedia’s way, to make up for all those assignments it helped you pass, after all.)

Categories
asides tech

All Roads Lead Back to WebOS

All mobile OS roads lead back to WebOS:

While WebOS is dead, the cards interface has flourished. Windows Phone, Android, and iOS all adopted a very similar multitasking view. In addition, safari and chrome replaced their tab view to a cards view with the same gestures as well. Frankly, it would be a lie to say that these OS’s were not influenced by WebOS.

I really wish the Palm devices had been available in Australia, because I thought it looked years ahead of any competition. That the design choices have made it into iOS, Android and Windows Mobile is testament to the fact that – much like Xerox’s OS that influenced Mac OS and Windows on the PC – some ideas are too good to die. Just a shame Palm got swallowed by HP and then booted into the ether.

Categories
tech

1×1.gif

Only 90s web developers will get this:

Towards the end of the golden era of HTML, CSS appeared on the scene, promising a world of separating content from style, and we’ve been dealing with that disaster ever since.

The absolute first thing we did with CSS was use it to stop underlining links. Overnight, the entire internet converted into this sludge of a medium where text looked like links and links looked like text. You had no idea where to click, but hell that didn’t really matter anyway because we had developed cursor effects (you haven’t lived until your mouse had a trail of twelve fireballs behind it).

So many HTML/CSS memories here. I haven’t kept up in the last 2-3 years as my work shifted away, but looking back, there was some dirty, dirty kludges being used. And the memories of optimised for Internet Explorer? Yikes.

Categories
asides tech

Failbook

Bronte Capital on the ‘Failbook’ IPO:

The Wall Street Journal… derides Michael Grimes (the Morgan Stanley Banker) for not standing up to David Ebersman (Facebook’s CFO) and allowing Facebook to sell too many shares at too high a price. This is tits-up-backward. David Ebersman in this context is the client. He paid the fees. Michael Grimes had a duty to act in Ebersman’s interest. Ebersman wanted to sell more shares at a higher price. Michael Grimes and Morgan Stanley obliged even at the cost to their own franchise.

And for that he is being pilloried in the press.

What we have here is an investment banker acting ethically. And the whole financial press is a twitter about it.

And the SEC is investigating.

The financial world is slowly sinking into a circle-jerk of farce. (via)