Category Archives: IT

The timeline of the World Wide Web

If you are going to talk about the Web or the Internet, it pays to know the history of it. The people at Pew put together the key dates and events of the World Wide Web here: Web History Timeline | Pew Research Center. Of course the history of the Internet is even older.

A very useful thing to consult whenever you read some think piece on “The Internet used to be X or Y”.

Thinking of getting a 4K TV? Read this.

This popular science is a good primer on the TV:  Will This Be The Year 4K Catches Fire? | Popular Science. As well, it talks about the direction of TV resolution, including 8K. (Yes, 8K!) Before you buy a new TV, check this article out.

It’s not A.I. or robots that are taking away jobs. It’s you.

A year or so ago, a parking lot I use had a human in a booth to take tickets and provide other  services. That human booth was replaced by the thing in the photo above.

It’s not a robot and it’s not A.I., but it is replacing humans.

Stories about A.I. or robots taking over work makes them interesting. It’s also secondary to the real story. What is really taking people’s jobs is a willingness of others to use technology, and a willingness of companies to replace people with technology. People are not afraid to use technology. If anything, sometimes they prefer to deal with technology. This makes it easier for companies to go with technology as compared to using people, and if companies can save money or make money, so much the better.

It is happening in all sorts of industries, from food to sportswriting. The technology isn’t the driver of this: it’s the willingness of people to prefer technology that is the driver.

Thinking critically about robots. (Hint: think vending machines)

The following is anuncritical and hyped-up analysis of robots, from Wired (On Cyber Monday, Friendly Robots Are Helping Smaller Stores Chase Amazon). A key quote from it is this (highlighting by me):

… (Amazon) is relying on more than 100,000 temp workers this holiday season to supplement its already massive warehouse workforce, the advantages of offloading more of that work onto machines are easy to see. Robots don’t slow. They don’t tire. They don’t get injured or distracted or sick. They don’t require paychecks or try to unionize.

Now check out this robot:

Once you get over the word “robot”, you can see it resembles alot of the other machines you see in workplaces. Machines like high speed printers, scanners and even vending machines.  All of those things don’t slow, don’t tire and don’t unionize. They don’t get sick, but they break down alot, which is just the same. They don’t require a paycheck, but they do cost the organizations that use them. Sometimes they perform their function so poorly that people bypass them altogether.  As well, robots need others to take care of them. An army of robots just doesn’t show up: there is an entire process of testing, deploying, fixing and replacing them that is costly and non-trivial. There is a process for deploying human resources, too, but to say that that is costly and the process of deploying robot resources is not costly is wrong.

Robots will take over some functionality in workplaces, be that function blue collar or white collar. But that is no different from alot of other machinery already in place. The difference with robots will be that they are mobile. That’s it. We should get over the notion of robot as some magical creature and just accept them as another machine.

Are you getting charged for monthly subscriptions from Apple apps? If so, read this

This is for a particular app (MLB At Bat monthly subsciption charge will continue until you turn it off), but it should work for any app you have that is billing you monthly.

It may not seem much a month, but like any slow leak, the cost adds up. Best to seal it right away.

You got a new iPhone for Christmas. What you want to do next is….

What you want to do next is head over to Mashable.com and read this: The 100 best iPhone apps of all time. Apps make your iPhone much better. While you likely have heard of a certain percentage of them, but most you have not. Get them and make your phone better.

On the future of Apple and the case for an Apple car

Well-respected Apple analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray gave a presentation on the company’s future at Business Insider’s Ignition conference and it’s really good. The entire presentation is here and worthwhile: Future of Apple presentation by analyst Gene Munster at Business Insider Ignition – Business Insider.

Earlier I wrote about how I don’t think Apple will get into the car business. However, after reading what Munster said, I can see how others think Apple will get into cars. Specifically, here’s are the pro-car points he makes:

  • Apple could align with and compete in the BMW market: BMW sold 1.8M cars in CY14.
  • If Apple priced them at $75K, 1.8M cars is $135B in revenue
  • Apple could start small: sell 30K in first year (similar to Tesla’s 35K in CY14)
  • In a market of 88M cars in CY15, 1.8M cars is nothing

The approach laid out in those points is a similar game plan that Apple followed in the smart phone market.

The more I thought about it, the more I am leaning towards Apple getting into the car business, at least in a limited way. The bulk of the market would not be Apple and there likely would still be lots of car manufacturers after Apple jumps in, just like there are many smartphone makers. But Apple would take over the most profitable part of the car manufacturing marketplace.

Read the analyst report: you will get great insight into where Apple is heading.