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Wall-E. WE-all.


After trying and failing, I finally managed to see Wall-E tonight at Tinseltown (http://www.cinemark.com/theater_showtimes.asp?theater_id=504).

Wall-E is nothing short of beautiful. Its message runs so deep and profound that when you piece everything together, you’ll be increasingly amazed the way it all fits.

On the surface, Wall-E is about a robot tasked with cleaning up planet Earth because humans filled it with rubbish and turned it into a toxic world incapable of sustaining us. He meets someone and has an amazing adventure.

At the intermediary level, Wall-E is our world taken to its logical conclusion – our world, and ourselves, got big and soulless, and civilization got so selfish that even when we abandoned our world, we were too fat and lazy to notice what had happened to it. And among those people that were aware of this, they were the ones with real power, but were too busy keeping us fat and distracted to retain that power and, ultimately, failed to consider the death of our own planet of any significance.

Then came the big message. It hit me on the sky train home.

Note: spoilers from here on out.

Wall-E. If you rearrange the letters in a plausible arrangement, you get: WE-all. The name is much too clear in its intent. The screenwriter spent 15 years making Wall-E. Nothing is in the movie without deliberate intent.

Wall-E is about love. Wall-E was a lonely robot who's curiosity brought him to love. EVE came along and lit the spark, filled the one void in Wall-E's life that can only be filled by another. But it was only when EVE’s purpose was entirely conflicted that she began to notice Wall-E’s devotion. Wall-E did to EVE what she did to Wall-E.

Such was Wall-E's devotion to EVE that his motivation conflicts with the society of the Axiom ship. In his haste to pursue EVE, he shuts off one of the "distraction chairs", and brings someone out of their 24 hour stupor of entertainment. The chase continues, and someone else gets disconnected. Two disconnected humans notice each other for the first time, totally unprepared, with no physical or mental barriers to stop them. And they find they're attracted to each other.

Wall-E pursues EVE all over the ship and, in time, comes to disconnect the Captain, and then eventually the entire ship as a result. Thousands of people, no ideas or memories of relationships, meeting for the first time.

The name of the ship where humans lived is Axiom, which by definition means 'a self-evident truth'. Wall-E’s message is dire. We are turning inward in this society. We put music in our ears, entertainment in our eyes everywhere we go. We drug up on a daily basis, we don't strive to understand the opposite sex. We behave like idiots with expectations and preconceptions that doom us to misunderstanding. We can't even forgive people. It's an axiom of our times. You need only look at the city around you.

Wall-E's message is about human potential. It says "put away the iPod, the Nintendo DS, the work-day and social drugs". Check people out. Smile at them. Find someone to start that spark with. Make whole someone else's life and, in doing so, find fullness to your own life.

And that’s why Wall-E is such a beautiful movie: it’s a 1 hour 43 minute piece of entertainment and distraction, with one of the most amazing messages I’ve ever seen put into a movie before. Ah, the irony – a cartoon with a message more powerful than any non-cartoon movie since Network.

I’m looking at getting a laptop these days, and decided to see if Apple had a laptop that would let me justify returning to the Mac. I don’t need the Pro, so the MacBook would be fine. Since I’ve been looking at a lot of PC laptops, I’m familiar with their feature set and prices, too. So I notice this:

 

MacBook

13-inch screen
2.1GHz Core 2 Duo

1GB memory

120GB hard drive1

Combo drive

Price: $1,149

 

 

HP 530 Laptop Computer

Intel Core Duo T2400 1.83GHz

1GB DDR2

120GB HDD

DVDRW

15.4" WXGA

Price: $660

 

This HP laptop has the same amount of RAM and HD, it has a SuperDrive (better than Combo), and it has a 15” monitor. The retail price for this is $660 and you get a $50 rebate on it right now, so $600. Even with that CPU, it’s no more than $800, versus $1150. That’s $350 more for a lesser product.

 

Possibility of me getting a MacBook: None.

 

This made me think – If Apple is this out of touch with one product line, it has to be out of touch with the other as well. Surely enough, comparing hardware, a Dell computer when matching the price of a Mac will absolutely destroy it, feature for feature. You can get a CPU 25% faster, you get 400% more RAM, you get 200% more storage, the graphics card is 200% faster. The only difference is a 19” monitor versus 20” monitor.

 

Apple computers are ripoffs. It’s 2008, Apple switched to Intel, Apple machines are supposed to be cost competitive – and yet we’re still back in the PowerPC days. It’s commodity Intel hardware, and Apple can’t even price it at PC clone rates. Utter BS.



Instant messaging is dead. There was the first-mover (IMO) ICQ. Then the incumbents entered with MSN and AIM, then YIM. After that, not in order, came the multi-protocol clients, the second wave of corporations like Google and Apple, and then the open source efforts. Now we have individual websites developing instant-messaging programs, fracturing the scene even more.

 

What we have today is an instant-messaging world that is utterly dead. ICQ is long gone, MSN and AOL stopped evolving a long time ago, the multi-protocol clients did that and nothing more, the second wave of companies like Apple and Google have failed to break out of niches, and the open source efforts haven’t gone anywhere. Even worse, there hasn’t been a shred of innovation in the instant messaging arena in ages.

 

These days, the de facto instant-messaging standard is the text message, it seems. It’s a universal standard, it’s added features are high-quality voice, there are no security risks associated with entering or storing passwords on open networks, it isn’t tied into other account services that are desired by scammers (i.e. email), and the format ensures that messages are simple and to the point.

 

If this is the case, it has an influence on my choices for portable computer and phone. It puts a lot more value on the N95 and K850 smartphones, and less on a device like a laptop. Rather, it puts the emphasis more on a cellular data radio. (Side question: we separate data radios for computers, why not for phones? Health and utility implications.)

 

I paused while writing this article to see what else might be out there and found this article: http://communication.howstuffworks.com/instant-messaging4.htm

 

After checking out the products, I last tried Qnext (http://qnext.com/), an interesting multi-protocol java app that also promises music sharing, something I’ve been wanting to be able to do for quite a while. Sure enough, Qnext lives up to its promises; it can stream music from your computer to your friends, which is a long overdue feature. Qnext is underdeveloped thus far, though, and is missing some features that would be handy, but if the team keeps innovating and marketing, they might do well. At the very least, I’m willing to switch, use, and endorse it. It also comes available for all three major platforms: Windows, OS X, and Linux.

 

As good as Qnext is, there’s still plenty of room for innovation in the IM field. For one thing, there are too many players, and that means people stuck with clients that aren’t up with the times.. If you want an idea, see (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_message#User_base). This list breaks down seventeen clients alone, without mentioning Facebook, MySpace, Qnext, and surely a few dozen other clients.

 

Unfortunately, consolidation is highly unlikely without cooperation amongst the large incumbents, so for the time being, text messaging remains the de facto IM standard. Perhaps Symbian and the phone companies can come together to deliver an IM standard that can be carried over to computer desktops and sort things out that way. Till then, I think I’ve got my sights on the Nokia N95.



 

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to upgrade the camera and change my photo-taking experience. My Canon Powershot S2 IS is an excellent camera and the photo quality is very good, but the camera’s full-size dimensions and use of AA batteries convinced me that a smaller camera would be much better suited to my every-day needs.

 

A couple other possibilities have come up with cameras recently. For one, cell phone cameras have finally eclipsed the 1.3 mp and 2.0 mp range. We now have the Nokia N95 and Sony Ericsson 850i, both with 5 megapixel sensors, and the SE model even comes with a Xenon flash and, from what I’ve read, holds a distinct lead in picture quality in a wider range of lighting than the Nokia. Unfortunately, the SE model doesn’t have WiFi and I don’t believe it uses a Symbian OS.

 

The Nokia N95 has a weaker reputation for picture quality, though there is word of some improvement with the recent firmware update. Recent news suggests that the phone starts quicker and enters camera mode quicker, which is usually a good idea. What the Nokia does have is WiFi and a Symbian OS, and with my plans to get out of cell phone contracts but good, I’ll need a communicator with WiFi. Also, the machine has the ability to play N-Gage games, and there’s an RPG game I’ve been meaning to get for it.

 

That leads to a dilemma. The N95 is a whopper of a phone, costing around $700 and up. That’s a lot of money for so many features in a compact place, and for the same money you can buy an original Eee PC and have plenty left over for a phone, or standalone camera.

 

So now that idea involves a sub-notebook, a standalone phone, and a standalone camera for another ~$300. The good thing is that with this setup is that the camera can be dedicated, resulting in higher quality, higher resolution images. And the phone can be a svelte one – the Samsung U100, at under 6mm thick, is the thinnest cell phone you can get in Canada. Yes, that’s 6mm. My friend has the next thickest one, at 7mm. No joke. It also means a laptop computer with a lot more power, a large screen, and standard web apps that don’t need to shrink content to fit.

 

This system is workable, but pretty complicated. Then there’s also video. Boris will tell you that the video that you get from cameras like Canon Powershots is very good. That’s true, but considering that at 5 megapixels, even camera phones should be able to capture HD-resolution video, getting 640x480 from a full-size, dedicated image capture device doesn’t cut the mustard.

 

Enter the Canon TX1. A hybrid camera able to capture 720p HD video and 7.1 megapixel images, in a very small form factor. At such a great price, it really is a stand-out product; it’s also incredibly small, about the thickness of a Powershot body, and cheaper to boot. It also has 10x optical zoom. For a tiny camera (see the Cnet review video, just mute it: http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras/canon-powershot-tx1/4505-6501_7-32314643.html?tag=prod.txt.1 ), it sure does pack a lot of features in. The one downside is battery life, which is rated for just 160 images.

 

There’s one obvious product that hasn’t yet been mentioned – the iPhone. Both the TX1 and the iPhone are at about a year, each, since their introductions, and there’s a lot of talk about updates for both. An updated iPhone would be welcome, but would Apple ever abandon the Marilyn’s Mole of a camera? Methinks Jobs is rocking the soap bar look a bit too hard these days to jive with the contours required of a decent camera lens the size of those on the SE K850i and Nokia N95, or better.

 

An update to the TX1 would be good, too. For one thing, the square box shape doesn’t work well with human hands. I really do anticipate the next iteration of this device. If Canon can manage both better still-frame and video quality along with an increase to 1080i resolution, better design, and longer battery life, they will likely find a new sweet spot for hybrid digital recorders. I, for one, would shell out in no time.

 

So overall, I think the setup that I like best is the Canon TX1 for high quality photos and video, the SE K850i for quickie shots and low-res video of decent quality, and a subnote PC to go wherever the phone goes to provide Wifi & Web.

 

Nice features to look for in the future:

 

-         full HD 1080i video

-         much longer battery life for the camcorder

-         an N95 with improved picture quality, and a larger screen for a lower price

 

 

We still have a long way for even substantial convergence on the mobile front…

The friction of closed systems.


There are a lot of interesting stories and happenings in the tech world of late. The latest seems to be Bob Cringely’s article on the merits of Apple’s purchase of P.A. Semi. This article really linked a number of areas that  I’ve noticed have been bumping up against a slow, but growing trend – open access to the inner workings of modern technology.

 

The first example, a claim of Bob’s, is that Microsoft spent $5 billion developing Vista. The second example is Apple’s locking out or down certain technologies in the iPhone SDK, things like Skype. The third is speculation about the future of Apple and PowerPC now that Apple owns PA Semi, a company known for low-power PowerPC chips.

 

First of all, Apple and PA Semi. Cringely’s forums were ripe with talk of Apple returning to PowerPC, and Cringely himself even supported the idea. Apple’s current line of computers is still pretty proprietary in terms of the code, but moving to PowerPC would even be a move against the Intel platform, a platform widely supported, for a closed system. The last time Apple offered PowerPC Macs, they were overpriced, missing key features, and cost Apple a good deal more money.

 

But Apple’s also in an interesting position because of the Vista news. Vista is a flop, despite the forced adoption in many cases. XP’s life has been extended, service packed, and ensured by the market remaining loyal to XP mostly out of fear of Vista and the nightmare stories.

 

If Apple supported open access, like it once did with Darwin, it could be in a much better spot right now with. It might have some decent drivers supporting a broader base of PC hardware. It would have a much healthier iPhone and iPod developer community. And if Apple had supported a philosophy of open access, it might well be in a position to eliminate the lockdown with OS X and make it generally available for purchase for generic PCs, offering a proven, bug-free alternative to Vista.

 

Microsoft is much in the same position. Even in 2008 Microsoft has never supported a single piece of open source software related to any of its monopoly pieces. Not Windows, Office, nothing. And yet just like computer chips, every computer chip has an operating system, operating systems are commodities as much as the chips they run on are. If it’s commodity, it isn’t innovative. And just as we’ve seen, the commodity can be outsourced, crowd-sourced, and made open because it isn’t a competitive advantage when it’s generic. So right now, instead of the install nightmares and lost data, Microsoft could have a solid operating system, smooth install cycle, and rapid patching of any glitches in that process, if the company had the courage to open source its Windows core, a core that offers no competitive advantage, but did include many hidden bugs and turned off hundreds of thousands of people.

 

The risk here is transaction friction: companies like Apple and Microsoft putting themselves at competitive risk because they don’t make the best of their intellectual property. So we go on with crippled software, crippled devices. The technology we buy, typically closed, benefits us in fewer ways than it could, reducing the value we get out of it and reducing the appeal it has in the market.

 

Ultimately, companies that embrace hybridization, sharing access to the inner works while maintaining overall control, will probably ensure their survival, and can out-compete companies that see only closed doors. I sure know plenty of companies that would be a lot healthier if they shared.

A reply to "Apple to the Core".


This article is a reply to this week's Robert Cringely article entitled "Apple to the Core", about Apple's purchase of PA Semi. The original article is here, and recommended:

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080425_004775.html

--------------------

Apple taking charge of its CPU destiny is something that would have benefited the company at many, many steps along the road. It's something I've been writing about ever since Motorola's 680X0 line stalled in performance compared to Intel around the time of the 80486 and word of that Star Trek variant of the Mac OS running faster on 486 went round the media, which back then was still magazines like MacWorld.

There are some issues with your argument, though, Bob.

1. You admitted in a past article that Apple was compiling OS X for PowerPC for optimal size, not for optimal speed. Worse, it was likely using the GCC compiler instead of the IBM compiler; it was believed that the GCC compiler was not nearly as optimized as the IBM compiler was. If Apple wants the best performance, then two of your comments are in conflict.

2. Why in the world compete with products like Intel's latest 45nm Wolfdale chips and the Power6 from IBM? If Apple can beat either one in top performance or performance-per-watt and with power-management technology nearly as sophisticated as Intel's, I will be hugely impressed. I doubt, seriously, that Apple could beat either company at either goal. DEC guys are gods, but PA Semi doesn't exactly have a reputation for churning out contemporary versions of Alpha CPUs.

3. Apple has bought companies in the past, and simply dissolved them. Remember Power Computing? Remember that graphics company they bought? Apple bought them, and scattered their ashes to the wind. Power Computing was the Dell of Mac clone manufacturers, and Apple strangled them with a golden parachute.

It's true, PowerPC has never needed instruction construction / deconstruction, being a pure RISC architecture, unlike the x86 which is still CISC at the software level. That right there is, apparently, a source of much efficiency.

Unfortunately, I've not heard a squeak about that advantage in years, not since the PPC 603 and 604 days. And clearly, Intel hasn't suffered. Apple switched TO Intel for power efficiency, because PowerPC didn't have it, and IBM / Moto couldn't do what Intel could. Can PA Semi beat Intel in performance per watt and overall performance? If it can't, then the purchase is a waste.

The other bad thing about PowerPC is that it means, once again, that Apple has to do its own motherboards and chipsets. And again, that means glacial upgrade cycles and Apple computers lacking features that Intel boards will have had for 6-12 months already.

And then there's also Apple and its own mistakes. It's in a perfect situation, and yet it still slipped up. Apple had Intel produce a custom chip specifically for the Air, and yet Intel had a more power-efficient chip already in the works! 15% more efficient at that.


Overall, the more I think about the PA Semi purchase, the less I am confident that I have any idea what the company is good for, to Apple. Apple was very wise to abandon CPUs and motherboards and keeping up with the Jones'. The only role I can swallow is Allerbe's idea - PA Semi doing "local translation" for Apple with licensed Intel hardware. Even then, Apple's custom x86 Air chip is a bad omen for what the company may intend to do with its new toy.

Someone send an urn to Cupertino, please.

Locality, and how we communicate.


Having seen J. Murphy’s presentation at DemoCamp 5 on Locality, it helped to coalesce a few ideas I’ve had on how we communicate, and intrigued me enough to write about the subject.

I haven’t seen the research mentioned in Mr. Murphy’s presentation (I’ll refrain from using his full name on the open net for now), but during the presentation it occurred to me that there are several things about how we communicate that I can list in this initial article:

-    All communication is done in a form that can be thought of as “messaging”
-    Messaging should be unified, not fractured.
  • Take MySpace IM, LiveJournal IM, MSN, Skype, SMS, and email, for example, and their issues:
  • Nothing but proprietary or closed-system messaging systems, with a few exceptions.
  • Done to capture keystrokes and stake virtual property
  • To communicate to people like this, we have to first think of which form that is best for the person.
  • Nobody should have to choose one system over another, be that person sender, or recipient.
  • At the very least, all systems should support multicasting
-    Messaging should bring content to us, we shouldn’t have to go to the content.

-    Building on Mr. Murphy’s ideas, breaking down communication by who is communicating is a great concept.
  • How about being able to view it by topic / tag, and then viewing a matrix of people vs topic?
-    Building conversations out of messages – great idea; no more 56kb emails containing 90% dead text.
  • Like an iChat conversation, you see each person’s messages in distinct colors.
-    But now onto something else, another way I visualize a better communication system.
  • I view communication like a pair of pneumatic tubes. One going out, one coming in.

Don’t have too much more time to think about an alternative to email, but it’s apparent, based on how we communicate, and ideals such as owning our own data, that communication sent to us should come to us, and communication sent to others should go to them. Nobody should have to enter a closed system to view their own data. I think Mr. Murphy’s ideas have a lot of merit and, hopefully, we'll see the Internet's first killer app take a

Macworld Jan. 08: Takeaways


So MacWorld has come and gone. The sound of a thousand people experiencing joygasm all at once has renewed Steve’s reputation as Mr. Mystère for another six months. If only telecom companies could figure out how to lock people in as long as Steve has…

Being a recovering Apple lust-geek (now in my third year), I still enjoy watching the miracles that the scientists at Apple can accomplish and love a good MacWorld presentation. After all, MacWorld is one of few hours in the year that may actually make noteworthy history, and we get to see it happen no matter where we are. I didn’t see the keynote live; getting up two hours early and missing 2 hours of sleep is no longer something I do without thinking.

And yet I decided to check out the keynote presentation that Apple is hosting, and here are some takeaways from it:


Time Capsule

Time Capsule is an Apple name for “We don’t get wireless NAS”. Apple introduces a wireless network-attached server and all it can come up with for use cases is file backup? Allow me to make Apple some more money:

  1. W-NAS server at Starbucks (remember that bit about the industrial-grade HDD?). Instead of just WiFi, now you can get Apple software updates straight from a hard drive at the thousands of Starbucks WiFi hotspots around the world. No more downloading, it’s all cached now.
  1. Wireless “dock” and update cache. Add an Apple-administered update downloader service so people can get large software files pre-downloaded on their home W-NAS server for when their Belle-Air or other Apple product get within range. Then add on all the ports, a SuperDrive, and plug in all the devices you would expect a Dock should connect to. Display-over-WiFi anyone? Forget 13.3”, how about a 30” Apple Display getting frames wirelessly from the Air? God I hate saying MacBook Air…. god I hate typing Air.
  1. The new and improved iDisk. Inter-net-work attached storage.


iTunes Movie Rentals

This service has been around for years now under the moniker “Video On Demand”. VOD is a digital service, digital cable terminals are IP network appliances, its all been done before. It must have been dirt simple to do movie rentals for Apple. The only thing Apple had to do was customize the UI, literally everything else about this service has been present for years now… even in Canada. And VOD gives you 24 hours to watch the movies, as well, and it hasn’t in any way been an inconvenience for people with kids, doubters.


The Air

The MacBook Air has been entirely misconceived. The product of drastic engineering efforts contributing to a narrow focus of no practical utility, the Air accomplishes everything Jobs outlined for the product, and as a result is obsolete by design. Two pounds and thin-ness mean nothing compared to value as far as the market is concerned. Someone said it right by calling Apple a boutique computer vendor. Might as well call this P.O.S. “Cube 2”.

Compare this to the EeePC; it’s fatter, less than a pound, and has crap for hardware. But this piece of obsolete hardware is 60% smaller than the Air, and has sold over 400k units at this point. Common, inelegant, light, Linux, cheap… it’s everything the Air isn’t. It’s a damn eMate. And it meets the needs of the niche. The niche is “small” Steve, not “thin”.


Non-Mac OS X

Macworld January 2008 was about one product in particular: OS X. Out of four products, five distinct announcements, just one new product shared the namesake of the convention and makes use of Mac OS X. The Time Capsule, Apple TV and iPhone are all non-Mac OS X products, but likely all OS X products. Apple is making heavy use of its petite OS.


Hardware

The other message from Apple at this Expo is hardware. Apple is definitely NOT abandoning the hardware business any time soon. When Apple is asking Intel to shrink chips for it a year in advance and is working on making record-setting form factors, it is saying “hardware” loud and clear. Hardware is a distinct and highly valued part of Apple’s overall strategy to grow the company.

 

Narrow Vision

This one troubles me the most. If Jobs is domineer, then this Expo reveals that he is slipping up. Time Capsule is so much more than Time Capsule, and yet Jobs clearly doesn’t see what it could be. “AirPort + HDD”… snort. Clearly, he isn’t keeping tabs on what Akamai is doing these days, or reading The Pulpit by Cringely. And the Air… it’s such an extravagant demonstration of a product. It smells like a an engineering exercise, not a genuine product.


50 Weeks

This was an interesting end to Steve’s presentation… talking like MacWorld was the tip of the iceberg. If MacWorld was the tip, it was the yellow snow. Apple’s market cap thinned out on the day of the presentation to the tune of 5%. But if Jobs really has anything else interesting in 2008, it could still be a tantalizing year if he gets it right from now on.


So MacWorld is just over a week away and today I thought I'd skim the rumor sites. I've never liked rumor sites, especially Apple rumor sites. They invent things and pass them off as "given by an anonymous source", and what's worse is people set their expectations based on what they read at these sites and criticize Apple for not delivering, rather than criticizing the rumor site for being wrong. I know, I've seen the lunacy in the forums after many a MacWorld.

That said, predicting what Apple will deliver is always fun, so today I was thinking about it and had the following ideas I'm predicting:

First of all, Bob Cringely has said that Apple will introduce a new device to replace the mouse. This I think is patently ridiculous, but sometimes Bob hears things through the grapevine that have some element of truth: what he's predicting is something new in the human-machine interface.

Secondly, Apple has recently applied for a patent relating to OLED display technology, so they may be working with it extensively.

Third, Apple has gone with touch-screen control surfaces with the iPhone and iPod Touch.

These three things form the basis of my main two predictions about MacWorld pertaining to Tablets and Laptops:

1. Apple will replace keyboards and trackpads with one large OLED gesture & touchpad surface. All laptops will feature full-sized keyless keyboards. Bob Cringely will claim that Apple is delivering Microsoft Surface before Microsoft delivers its own product in first article after MacWorld.

2. Apple will, in fact, introduce a tablet, despite my belief to the contrary. The tablet will be a clamshell with two OLED touch-surface displays that, when the clamshell is folded flat, will form a near-seamless 16:9 aspect ratio surface. You will be able to watch movies in “full screen” mode, or you will be able to watch them in half screen mode while using the other half for apps like chat, calendar, notes, etc. Gesture control and tilt screen are far more powerful when multitasking, and this device will realize some of that potential.

If Apple can deliver a working keyboard in under half the screen surface area of the iPhone, it can definitely do so on 1/4th of what will be branded as the new iBook, seeing as the book metaphor applies perfectly to such a design. It will stun the MacWorld crowd as they think “blah” at hearing what sounds like an established laptop design, and suddenly Jobs pulls a bait & switch, revealing the new device.

This is a risky prediction – OLED displays technology is new and expensive, and hard to get into a large format like a keyboard-sized display. But I bet Jobs loves it, sees a bigger possibility for something like the Nintendo DS dual-display, and will push this technology to market.

 

3. In a related step, Bluetooth will figure big into Apple’s new plans. Apple will deliver 95% of the capabilities of Microsoft Surface, plus a few interesting new capabilities, sans coffee table. Just about every Mac product will now have Bluetooth built in by default.

 

4. Apple will also introduce a beautiful all-OLED touch-screen keyboard that is 100% customizable. Apple can now ship one universal keyboard for all languages, and it will be a dream for media pros that want customizable keys for their apps. It will also save some assembly costs despite a rise in material costs, and Apple will get to lay some people off in Asia. It won't have any keys, and Apple will be almost universally criticized for it, except for the people that try the keyboard and realize it's as good as those with keys.

 

5. The entire line of Apple LCD displays will go LED-backlit. Jobs will say the word “green” in reference to being environmentally friendly at least once during this part of the announcements.

 

6. One thing most of the people who buy the rumors expect is 8-core Pennryn processors. This is a lingering deception of the PowerPC world us Mac aficionados once inhabited, where Apple could wow us with new processors. In the Intel world, this doesn’t work. Intel has many customers and considers Apple a notable, but small one of them, which means Apple has no clout to pull a surprise on the PC world. If Pennryn is around the corner, the long-established PC-observing media will have had previews and tests and all sorts of results from these processors already. As a PC user now, I know because I frequent these sites.

 

Mac users have to get used to the idea of Apple being an Intel VAR, and not Intel’s largest single customer. That said I wouldn’t put it past Jobs to dangle the i-appliance contract in front of Intel to try to win some exclusivity. Jobs loves exclusivity, and I bet the Intel people would multiple-joygasm at the thought of having its chips in iPods and iPhones. Intel negotiators will be left knee-knock-quivering and Jobs will be able to pull out one of the most insanely lopsided business deals in the history of free markets simply by saying “iPhone” every 10 words after that.

 

7. Thin laptops with solid-state drives are likely coming for Apple. Jobs loves eliminating moving parts like cables, keys, and free-standing displays, likely optical drives, and looks to do it at every opportunity. Jobs might do 16-32 GB in a small laptop, but the big ones will need 64-128GB to avoid justified criticism over coming with little storage. Jobs will have these drives tweaked for low power, and satisfactory performance, rather than HDD-besting performance and high power consumption, though, and this he will willingly put up with the criticism for.

I just wonder if Jobs will eliminate the optical drive, and/or make it an external plug-in drive. It would fit in the dock notion that recently got mention thanks to a diagram in a patent by Apple that recently got some news.

 

8. A cheap stand-alone Mac unit. Nope, ain’t gonna happen. Jobs got burned by the Cube and could have come out with a scaled down Mac Pro at any time; it hasn’t happened in 10 years, and it isn’t going to happen in year 11.

 

Now that I flesh out these predictions, it seems Apple is in a sort of “perfect storm” situation with OLED touch-screen displays, ubiquitous Bluetooth, and solid-state storage. Thus, my last prediction: Apple will have an insane 2008 and Jobs will be more exciting, passionate, and deliver better performances than ever. I just won't rag on him if he doesn't under a pseudonym in a backwater of the Internet.

DC4


Demo Ca
                      mp Four!


DC4 … very, very cool. For a long time I’ve checked out Boris’ Flickr photos, and those of KK. In fact, I met KK for the first time at DC3, as well as Megan, months after seeing their Flickr or Facebook pics. DC4 was just the same, but this time new faces and names leapt from the blogosphere into real life: Lloyd Budd, and Opa.

Opa… you’re a YF. :)

DC4 had fewer presentations than 3, but it was interesting to feel the collaborative potential come to mind. Here’s what I take away from DC4:

Presentations overall:

- We need a proper screen, and bigger picture if possible. :)
- What about updates from the last DC's demos? I'd like to hear how IndoChino and LiveVote are doing.
- Someone needs to help out Roland… did anyone notice his fanatic rendition of musical cameras?
- Oh PEER1… ok… ok, yeah… somehow prancing wooden Gazelles and bubble glass center pieces didn’t feel like the usual things to go with a techie event :)

AdHack:

- The iPhone ad example illustrates one of the issues you may face: retaining talent. If someone has a smash hit on AdHack, what will keep her or him coming back to the venue, rather than going it alone?

- Roll-your-own community? How about a tie-in with NetHooks.com? They’ll need the early buy-in users, and AdHack can get the community/social “hosted”, to focus on the value-add of its own site.

NetHooks:

- Facebook Search is definitely something to improve on, but so is facilitating new network contacts and communication. It's not as easy online, in my opinion, so solve that, and you can ask for a blank cheque.
- Young pros… remember not to be too selective of who makes your site catch on. Gotta attract the Opas… young, but with deep networks and the lines of wisdom and experience.
- I'm not sure about targeting all folks from the get-go. That's what the competition does well already, it's starting to specialize now.

Financial Models:

- The presentation needs to be tweaked, it was too info-dense with the tables and list of clients on such a small screen. Best to stick to large text, even if that -> more slides.
- Need a succinct 10-second explanation of services and the value you add, for the sake of clarity.
- What you do is valuable to folks that don’t know how to do it, but are you offering a service, or incubation? I’m not too sure just how many steps you’re involved in, besides designing the financial plan.

Momentum Magazine & Site:

- Looking for a Drupal Guru-pal at Demo Camp… smooth. :)
- What are your plans for distribution?
- What about electric love? Anything with 3 or 4 wheels? Scooters & urban atv? I don’t ride a bike, but would check out Momentum if it had anything on vehicles somewhere between bikes and cars.
- How are you going to promote the mag to both the existing, and/or new potential bike commuters?
- Like AdHack, what about doing online community on NetHooks?
- Very timely, what with Translink trying to privatize a part of itself.

DC4 was another great blast, many thanks to Boris and Megan and Roland and Tod Maffin and the many folks that contributed and came out. 

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