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Posts Tagged ‘iPhone

What will your verse be?

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I’ve spent most of my life living multiple directions at the same time.

I went from being a kid performing artist as a classical musician to teen jazz musician – while studying photography and literature.

I went from industrial engineering to a major in English literature – after switching to a 12-string guitar. And stopped racing cars, legally or otherwise, which included a very short stint driving for a bootlegger.

There’s more – especially political struggles over the last half-century or so. But, if you’re a regular visitor to this blog you’ll bump into those tales, the pleasure I experience from materialist philosophy and dialectics, science and society.

But, the arts in one form or another should be part of everyone’s life. Today’s technology brings ease and experiment into everyone’s life. Music, photography, writing, reading, experiencing all the wonder of human creativity and nature’s reach can be in the palm of your hand.

The shared experience of seeing a scientist in Alabama – or a technology and business journalist in San Francisco – become really skilled with the digital tools they have chosen to describe the beauty of existence makes me one of the happiest critters on Earth.

When a company chooses to sell their wares on the basis of this capability adds to that enjoyment.

About these ads

Written by Ed Campbell

January 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm

GM and Ford open their cars and trucks to app developers

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Chrysler’s new hood ornament

Auto companies have experimented with software that connects phones and cars, but Ford and GM are the first to open the way for any software developer to create an app that runs on a vehicle. The move is intended to make cars more attractive to younger buyers. But giving third parties some control over the driver’s experience isn’t without potential risks to driving safety and to security.

Ford was the first to make its pitch to app developers at a press conference on Monday. The program is an expansion of the company’s Sync software, which is already found in many vehicles and was developed in collaboration with Microsoft. Up to now, the apps created for Sync were made with close partners of Ford.

The new system is closer to Apple’s App Store. Anyone can access the tools needed to create a Ford app and submit it for approval and distribution through Ford’s store. Unlike Apple, Ford makes those apps available free.

Apple’s App Store hasn’t any free apps?

GM announced a similar program soon after Ford, saying that apps made by third-party developers would appear in an “app catalogue” that will be available for GM cars in 2014. Ford and GM will allow apps to interface with cars’ audio and display systems and to access some data from the engine, such as mileage and speed. They will access the Internet through a tethered phone or a car’s own Internet link.

Both Ford and GM demonstrated some prototype apps at CES, including radio apps TuneIn and iHeartRadio and a Weather Channel app…

An example of a mobile app suited to cars was provided by Glympse, whose app is already available for Ford’s Sync system; it lets drivers share their location with family or friends with a single voice command or the press of a dashboard button. “We knew that with the right experience it could be more intuitive and easy to use in the vehicle,” said Brian Trussel, the founder of Glympse. User data shows that many people already use the app while in the car, he added, and a version integrated with the car is safer to use that way than one on a mobile device. Both Ford and GM also discussed the potential for apps that recommend nearby businesses…

Predictable worry-wart commentary appears here and there in the article. Questions of security are as relevant as they are in any communications system. Nothing new.

Questions of distractions while driving are more to the point. People stupid enough to text while driving will have to limit themselves to their cell phones. I doubt if anyone in the car biz will put that facility into their software. My wife has a new Ford and she’s more bemused by cruise control – a new experience for her. Though the new and improved Sync does everything it’s supposed to do – and very well. Voice control works as advertised.

Written by Ed Campbell

January 12, 2013 at 2:00 am

Keep tabs on your baby via an iPhone or iPad

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Belkin has announced the launch of its WeMo Baby device that turns any iOS device into a digital baby monitor. Comprising a Wi-Fi connecting baby monitor and an accompanying iOS app, the WeMo Baby lets anxious parents listen to high-quality audio from their baby’s room whether they’re in the next room or the other side of the world … though it’s probably not a good idea that the baby is left that unattended.

Once the inoffensive-looking device is installed in a nursery (or anywhere you want to listen to for that matter), users download the free iOS WeMo Baby app and connect it to their existing Wi-Fi network. They can then use an iPhone or iPad to listen in to streaming audio using 3G/4G or Wi-Fi.

There’s no video like we’re seen previously on the iBaby monitor and BabyPing, but there is a visual indicator of baby noise, complete with a dial going from a contented green to ominous orange. Because there’s no range limit as is often the case with traditional baby monitors, and listening does not require an additional receiver, it’s claimed the WeMo Baby will allow parents to travel further afield while their little-ones sleep…

The Belkin WeMo Baby will support up to six users. It is “Coming Soon” and it will sell for US$90.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 25, 2012 at 4:00 am

Want to know when political ads are lying – and who paid for them? There’s an app for that

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What if every political ad came with a “truthiness” disclaimer? That’s essentially the goal of the Super PAC App, a new project from former students at MIT’s Media Lab.

Their free iPhone app…listens to political advertisements on television and matches the ad’s audio waves against a database — much like the Shazam app identifies music. It then tells the app’s user who paid for the ad and how much they’re spending on the campaign before pointing them to nonpartisan sources — PolitiFact, FactCheck.org and others — to try to verify the ad’s claims.

The app is free of advertising and is funded in full by a grant from the Knight Foundation, according to Dan Siegel, one of the app’s co-creators.

The fact-checking process is especially important this year, said Siegel, because Super PACs for the first time can spend unlimited funds on presidential campaign ads. In recent weeks TV airwaves in battleground states have been full of ads making negative claims about both President Obama and his rival Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee…

Useful, in your own mind – and you can dazzle your peers with information and understanding which runs counter to the very premises of American politics.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 28, 2012 at 6:00 am

Obsessing over iPhones won’t cure imagined ills

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On June 29, 2007, the first iPhone went on sale…Apple has since sold more than 217 million iPhones worldwide and sparked a commercial, cultural and — most surprising — behavioral revolution…

According to a study of medical workers at the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, 76 percent said they’ve experienced “phantom vibration,” that insistent buzz from an imagined text or phone call. Scientists speculate it’s the result of random nerves firing, biochemical noise that our brains tuned out until they were reconditioned by the iPhone.

“The iPhone has changed everything about how we relate to technology, for both good and bad,” said Larry Rosen, a psychologist and professor…According to his research, almost 30 percent of people born after 1980 feel anxious if they can’t check Facebook’s website every few minutes. Others repeatedly pat their pockets to make sure their smartphones are still there.

Indulging those tiny, persistent urges brings us only a brief respite…“The relief is not pleasurable,” Rosen said. “That’s the sign of an obsession…”

The App Store’s 650,000 offerings help people massage Excel data on the go, monitor their blood sugar and entertain their kids. More subtly, the iPhone’s tremendous commercial success has made “user-centered design” a buzz phrase in business…

The latest iPhone-inspired cottage industry has nothing to do with old- timey photo filters. It’s books that examine the device’s biological and societal effects…“The great thing about the iPhone is that we carry it with us all day long,” Rosen said. “The bad part is that we carry it with us all day long…”

For every feel-good story about an autistic child lighting up at the sight of a new app, there’s a story like that of actor Alec Baldwin getting kicked off an American Airlines flight for refusing to quit his “Words With Friends” game.

The big question: Is the iPhone a “bicycle for the mind,” as the late Jobs said about the first Mac, or a crutch that does too much of our thinking for us and increasingly takes the place of real human connections?

Yes, the article is mostly whining about neurotic behavior, worrying about whether or not we should be whining about neurotic behavior. Which is a reasonably neurotic symptom on its own.

I believe I’m standing on firm ground when I conclude that when borderline neurotics get more and more neurotic – don’t blame the object of their fixation. If it wasn’t an iPhone it might be Reality TV. If it wasn’t Reality TV it might be extraterrestrial visitors. It might even just be worrying over the cost of paying for your shrink.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 23, 2012 at 2:00 am

Arrests made in kidney-for-iPhone transaction

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Authorities have indicted five people in central China for involvement in illegal organ trading after a teenager sold one of his kidneys to buy an iPhone and an iPad.

The case has prompted an outpouring of concern that not enough is being done to guard against the negative impact of increasing consumerism in Chinese society, particularly among young people who have grown up with more creature comforts than the generations before them.

Prosecutors in the city of Chenzhou charged the suspects with intentional injury for organizing the removal and transplant of a kidney from a 17-year-old high school student surnamed Wang, the official Xinhua News Agency said…

The defendants include a surgeon, a hospital contractor, and brokers who looked for donors online and leased an operating room to conduct the procedure…

Xinhua described one of the defendants named He Wei as being broke and frustrated over gambling debts. It said he asked another defendant to look for organ donors in online chat rooms and someone else to lease an operating room for the transplant, which took place in April last year.

He received 220,000 yuan, or $35,000 US for the transplant, gave the student 22,000 yuan ($3,500) and shared the remaining money with the other defendants and several medical staff involved in the operation, Xinhua said.

When the student returned home, he was asked how he could afford a new iPhone and an iPad and he told his mother that he sold one of his kidneys, the report said.

Needless to say, Mom went ballistic.

The story has spun in any number of directions – from the lack of interest by the general public in participating in organ donor programs – which will be exacerbated by the government’s recent decision to halt the harvesting of organs from prisoners who die either of natural causes or capital punishment.

Which, frankly – I thought was rather a good idea. Giving a little back to the society you screwed.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 8, 2012 at 2:00 am

Half of all American households own an Apple product

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A recently-conducted survey found that there is an Apple product in over 55 million U.S. homes, and one-in-ten households that do not fall into that category plan to make a purchase in the next year.

According to CNBC’s All-America Economic survey…the iPhone maker’s products have a unique momentum as the average Apple-owning home has three such devices…“It’s a fantastic business model — the more of our products you own, the more likely you are to buy more,” said Jay Campbell, a vice president at Hart Research…

Unsurprisingly, the most saturated Apple demographic makes over $75,000 a year, with 77 percent of these higher income buyers owning at least one device. On average, high-earners own an average of three Apple products. This is contrasted by a 28 percent ownership rate for people earning $30,000 or less.

Some 63 percent of survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 said they were Apple users, which mirrored the answers of 35-to-49-year-olds. Ownership fell off moving further up the scale, with only half of 50-to-64-year-olds and 26 percent of those aged 65-and-up using a product made by the Cupertino, Calif., company.

Apple devices seem to be popular with children as over 61 percent of households with kids own at least one, which is 13 percent more than homes without 17-and-under family members.

Finally, the products have a bi-coastal appeal, though west-coasters have a significantly higher adoption rate with 57 percent of households counting themselves as users compared to an average 47 to 51 percent for the rest of the country.

Our family’s geek background enters the equation from a completely different direction. Most Apple owners in our family came into using their devices rather analytically – looking for best use in the category whether it be portable music, smartphone or computing device.

In my case, I bought an Apple Mini when they first came out just to experiment with OS X. After 25 years in Microsoft, IBM and other computing environments, I discovered how easy computing as a utility could be. Then Apple seemed to be reading my mind when they began a convergence with entertainment systems. Easy as pie.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm

UK schoolchildren adept with iPhone — can’t tie their shoelaces

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Future tree

British schoolchildren are more confident using a DVD player or iPhone than tying their shoelaces, research claims

As many as 45 per cent of children aged between five and 13 can’t tie their shoe laces – but 67 per cent can work a DVD player, according to a poll. The study showed a large proportion can log on to the internet, play on computer games, use an iPhone or iPad and work satellite television services like Sky Plus.

But 65 per cent can’t make a cup of tea, while 81 per cent can’t read a map and 87 per cent wouldn’t be able to repair a bicycle puncture…

And when asked if they cared about the environment a third said ‘no’ – with half of these saying it was because ‘in the future we’ll be able to live in space.”

Survival expert Ray Mears said he was shocked by the findings, from electricity provider npower. He added: “I can’t believe our young people are so ill-equipped when it comes to practical skills…

“Simple skills like putting up a tent can teach you important lessons that can’t be learnt without doing them yourself. “You learn how to work in a team and communicate with your peers as well as how to work under pressure and use logic. Most importantly, you also learn how to look after yourself and know your strengths…”

Working with Mr Mears, the company hopes to inject a passion for the great outdoors back in to the heart of the country’s children.

Clare McDougall, from npower, said: “These figures show that there has never been a better time to teach our young people some great new skills. “We really believe that if young people spend more time outdoors they will learn to love and respect the environment and they’ll want to preserve it for future generations.”

RTFA for the top 10 things British kids can do – and can’t do.

Reflect upon your own children, kids in your neighborhood. How well do they stack up?

Written by Ed Campbell

March 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

“There’s an App for that” = 500,000 jobs

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It’s no secret that the rise of smartphones, tablets and social networking has fostered an entirely new market for app developers, but a freshly released study has now attempted to quantify this impact, in terms of real jobs.

According to TechNet, a bipartisan network of tech execs, the so-called “App Economy” has created an estimated 466,000 jobs since 2007, when the iPhone was first unveiled.

The report specifies that this estimate includes all jobs at Facebook-focused companies like Zynga, as well as dev gigs at Amazon, AT&T and Electronic Arts, in addition to the obvious heavyweights, Apple and Google.

As far as geography goes, California leads the way as the most app-friendly state, though New York City tops the list of metropolitan areas. It’s not an entirely bi-coastal affair, though, with some two-thirds of all app-related jobs located outside of California and New York.

TechNet acknowledges that the App Economy “is only four years old and extremely fluid,” so it’s likely that these numbers will fluctuate in the years to come, though the organization says these numbers underscore a fundamental principle: “Innovation creates jobs, and in this case, lots of them.”

You can read the full report at technet.org.

And don’t get your shorts bunched figuring the numbers are going to diminish or decline. When it comes to the predominance of the mobile web – you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 12, 2012 at 6:00 am

DARPA start-up builds iPhone sized X-Ray machine replacements

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X-ray technology, which first appeared in the late 1800s, hasn’t changed that much, aside from shrinking the size of X-ray machines down to the size of large handheld drills that cost some $40,000. Now, a Los Angeles-area start-up is steaming ahead with a more affordable, ultraportable X-ray machine that utilizes a brand new technology built off focused static electricity.

Tribogenics, which spun out of DARPA-backed project at UCLA, announced today it has raised $2.5 million from Flywheel Ventures and other angels to build its portable X-ray machines, which should be available in the next year or two. The company said it’s hoping to disrupt the existing $12 billion X-ray machine industry, improving the way other existing industries such as mining, medical devices and security screening lean on the technology and enabling much broader use of X-rays by consumers.

The technology is built off a discovery made by UCLA researchers Carlos Camara, Juan Escobar, Jonathan Hird, and Seth Putterman who found they could create X-Rays bright enough to produce images from peeling adhesive tape. They were able to recreate this tribolelectrification by using an actuator that brings an epoxy surface in and out of contact with a silicone membrane. This ionizes the air and when captured in a vacuum, can create X-ray radiation. This approaches eliminates the need for high voltage, which has previously limited how portable and small other X-ray machines can get.

What Tribogenics has done is turn this whole process into a handheld product called Pocket XRF about the size of thick iPhone. It doesn’t create an image like medical X-ray machines. Instead, it’s designed to send a burst of X-rays into an object and stir up the atoms inside. Then it reads the various fingerprints of the materials inside and presents the results on a graph. That means a jeweler can tell what metals went into a ring or a safety inspector can see the lead content in a product. Miners can see if there are precious metals in a sample. And security screens can inspect objects quickly.

Reflect upon how a technology like this might be used, how many complex expensive procedures might be simplified and costs reduced. These really aren’t X-Ray machines as we understand them; but, machines that excite atoms in similar fashion and allow recording and analysis – without the dangers attendant upon using X-Rays.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm

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