Now I am not sure who needs this. But if you need a new lap top and you want something fancier, perhaps you need this new Lenovo leather bound laptop You can see it here.
Now I am not sure who needs this. But if you need a new lap top and you want something fancier, perhaps you need this new Lenovo leather bound laptop You can see it here.
I must say, the new Amazon wearable device looks nice. And so is the price.
That said, before you buy one, you might want to Google: Amazon Halo privacy
From a practical point of view, I think I will stick with my Fitbit wearables and my Fitbit Aria scale. The scale especially: why would one want to go through the trouble of taking photos of themselves to determine their body fat when they can just step on a scale?
If you want a bit more information on this device, here’s one link: Amazon Halo Health & Wellness Band | Uncrate
All you have to do is follow the instructions outlined in this piece by Anna Powell-Smith: How to Make Your Site Look Half-Decent in Half an Hour
The instructions are from 2012 but they still works really well! I took a bunch of the ideas from it to recently jazz up my web site, berniemichalik.com.
You don’t need special tools or deep HTML or CSS skills. Just follow along and you will have a much better looking web site in..well…30 minutes.
A long time ago, Sam Sykes tweeted this idea:
Roomba, except it is a little robot that comes into your room and says “hey, man, you’re doing okay” and I guess maybe he has a glass of water for you
I thought: what a great idea! Now I didn’t build a special Roomba, but I did build a list of Apple Scripts that offer something similar. If you are curious, you can see them here in github.
I found them useful when working from home during the pandemic. Hey, every little bit helps.
You need to build a web site? Consider Small Victories. As they say:
Small Victories takes files in a Dropbox folder and turns them into a website.
Best of all, they can help you build a variety of different sites, from a blog to a home page to e-commerce.
The site explains it very well, so visit Small Victories and see how it’s done.
Found via Swiss Miss. Thanks, Tina!
If you wanted to learn how to use GitHub but felt unsure or anxious, this is a nice little tutorial on how to do it. You don’t need additional tools or deep skills or even be a programmer.
Well worth a visit.
(Image by Richy Great)
It’s hard to believe that this computer (see above), that is in the MoMA no less, was a failure. But as this piece shows, it was one of Apple’s least successful computers for a number of reasons: 20 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Built Apple’s G4 Cube. It Bombed | WIRED.
Beautiful design, but not a great product. Every company has those from time to time. Apple was no exception.
There were two problems with the company that Bill Gates built up until he left (after the famous antitrust case). One old problem was the approach they sometime took to dominate a market. Based on this quote and this article, Slack files competition complaint against Microsoft in the EU – The Verge, it seems they are using this approach again. According to Slack…
Microsoft is reverting to past behavior,” claims David Schellhase, general counsel at Slack. “They created a weak, copycat product and tied it to their dominant Office product, force installing it and blocking its removal, a carbon copy of their illegal behavior during the ‘browser wars.’ Slack is asking the European Commission to take swift action to ensure Microsoft cannot continue to illegally leverage its power from one market to another by bundling or tying products.”
That’s too bad. It’s bad for Slack, of course, but it’s bad for anyone who works in a modern office and wants to work effectively. You end up using not the best product or the one best suited to your needs, but the product from the vendor that is able to crush the competition. That’s how you end up with places having lots of Microsoft products, rather than the best products.
Which brings me to the second problem with Microsoft’s products. It’s a problem Steve Jobs talks about here:
My personal feeling is Microsoft’s products still have no taste, whether it is Sharepoint or Xbox or Azure or Teams. When I compare them to Playstation or IBM Cloud or Slack or a variety of other products from different vendor, I am always disappointed. I realize that taste is subjective and that could be just me, but I always find them a bit blah. They do the job, and at an enterprise level they may make good business sense, but in a perfect world, they would not be the ones I would use. I believe Microsoft knows this: that’s why the first problem occurs.
P.S. A reminder, when it comes to IT opinions expressed here, these are meant to be my opinions only, and not those held by my current employer.
The good folks at itbusiness.ca have a podcast called Hashtag Trending and today they talked about two interesting IT trends and one novel thing: iPhone 11s in India; Windows 95 PC inside Minecraft; Siemens doubles down on WFH. Here’s an excerpt:
Apple is building iPhone 11s in southern India. The move comes as Apple has been looking to shift some of its manufacturing away from China amid US-China trade war and disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple already assembles two other models in India — the iPhone XR and iPhone 7. ….
… A new modification has been created for the game Minecraft allowing players to order computer parts from a satellite orbiting around a Minecraft world and build a computer that actually runs Windows 95 and other operating systems. According to the Verge the mod uses VirtualBox, which is free and open-source virtual machine software, to run operating systems like Windows 95. All you have to do within Minecraft is place a PC case block and then use it to create virtual hard drives to install operating systems from ISO files.
And lastly, Reuters is reporting that German conglomerate Siemens says it’s going to allow employees to “work from anywhere” for two or three days a week, and focus on “outcomes” rather than time spent in the office. Days after the recent announcement, the company says it was giving its over 100,000 employees access to a new app that provides local data on the COVID-19 situation, shows office occupancy levels and acts as a contact tracing tool. This of course is just the latest enterprise announcing its intentions for the post-COVID-world, following in the footsteps of Twitter, Facebook, OpenText and others, which have made their own announcements around remote work for employees moving forward.
It’s really remarkable how much thought provoking stuff is jammed in here. I find itbusiness.ca a good way to keep up with IT business news, regardless of what country you live in. Worth subscribing too for sure.
And Verge has the story on this device…
Who knows if the world is ready for a Microsoft Phone or a Dual Screen Phone. I predict that dual screen phones like this will become more common in the next few years. Unlike some of the foldable screen phones, this one looks more durable, which will help. As well, phone makers need new designs to entice people to upgrade. And people will want the next new thing (though maybe not from Microsoft). All this adds up to more of these in the hands of cell phone users in the next few years.
That said, I am terrible at making predictions! But I predict this will see some form of success. 🙂
To be honest, I am surprised it lasted this long! I do remember the incredible hype surrounding it during the end of the dot com era. Then it came out, and the dot com era bubble burst, and so did the hype surrounding it.
It’s good for anyone to go through a bubble: it’s a good insulation against future bubbles. So RIP, Segway: you were part of one of my first big bubbles*: Segway, the most hyped invention since the Macintosh, ends production.
* The first biggish bubbles I went through was the AI bubble in the late 80s, early 90s. Anyone working in tech will likely go through many such bubbles in their life time.
You don’t see too many BlackBerry mobile phones any more. But that doesn’t mean the end of BlackBerry the company. As you can see from this, they are alive and well making technology for automakers: BlackBerry QNX now in 175 million cars | IT Business
Here’s some key facts:
BlackBerry says its QNX suite is now in 175 million cars, up from the 150 million it announced at CES this year.
The BlackBerry QNX for automotive is a suite of embedded software solutions, including operating systems and middleware, as well as a host of security solutions that protects the vehicle’s systems from cybersecurity attacks. Vehicle manufacturers that don’t want to build their own secure operating systems can use BlackBerry’s QNX operating systems and frameworks to build their ADAS systems.
This is interesting. In reflecting upon Java’s 25th birthday, this article looks at what else has lasted since that then: Java’s 25th birthday prompts a look at which tech products have survived since 1995 – TechRepublic.
You might think that very little has lasted that long. And it’s true, many technologies have died. (Altavista for one.) But many technologies continue to succeed and grow. Amazon, for starters. Java itself still is found in computers all over the world. Check out the piece and see what lives and what died since the mid 90s, when the World Wide Web came into its own.
This is a great piece on understanding technology: The best is the last — Benedict Evans. One thing I love about it is that it illustrates its point by using non-digital technology. I tend to think of information and digital technology when I think of tech. This piece overturns that and talks about planes and ships.
And what is the point it is illustrating? Namely, this:
The development of technologies tends to follow an S-Curve: they improve slowly, then quickly, and then slowly again. And at that last stage, they’re really, really good. Everything has been optimised and worked out and understood, and they’re fast, cheap and reliable. That’s also often the point that a new architecture comes to replace them.
Smart piece. Once I read it, I wanted to apply the lessons to other technology too.
Then you need to upgrade your phone. Why? This: Apple rolls out iOS 13.5 with COVID-19 features | Engadget
There’s much positive to be said about the benefits of Agile software development, and the shift of software development teams is one sign that many feel this way.
However, I think there are some limits to Agile, and this leads teams to fall into certain traps over and over. Indeed, the Wikipedia page highlights a common criticism of Agile, namely:
Lack of overall product design
A goal of agile software development is to focus more on producing working software and less on documentation. This is in contrast to waterfall models where the process is often highly controlled and minor changes to the system require significant revision of supporting documentation. However, this does not justify completely doing without any analysis or design at all. Failure to pay attention to design can cause a team to proceed rapidly at first but then to have significant rework required as they attempt to scale up the system. One of the key features of agile software development is that it is iterative. When done correctly design emerges as the system is developed and commonalities and opportunities for re-use are discovered.
Now, it’s not the case that teams either do design or not. But I have seen that there are a number of specific traps bigger that Agile teams fall into that arise from lack of design. These traps arise from making tactical or limited decisions outside of a larger framework or structure, which isn’t surprising since Agile followers are guided by the principles that the “best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams” and “working software is the primary measure of progress”. Unfortunately what I’ve seen that lead to is:
Given these traps, I think the way to avoid them is to inject some specific design phases into the overall software development lifecycle. One way to do that is to revisit a software development lifecycle (see diagram below) used by practitioners at IBM and documented in places like this IBM redbook. It has a waterfall quality about it, but it doesn’t have to be limited to waterfall type projects. It can be highly iterative.
The lifecycle process is shown here (taken from the redbook):
The part of the lifecycle in the large box is iterative and not all that different from an agile sprint. But here you take time to explicitly make design / architecture decisions before building software. You continue to iterate while making important design decisions before building.
Now, before you start your iterative software development lifecycle, you should need to make specific architectural decisions. You should make these specific decisions in the solution outline and macro design phase. For smaller teams, these two phases may blend into one. But it is here in solution outline and macro design where you make decisions that are fundamental to the overall solution.
For example, in solution outline you could make overall architectural decisions about the application architecture, the choice of infrastructure technology, what application frameworks are the target for the team. These overall architectural decisions guide the dev, test and ops teams in the future. You may also decide to park some of these decisions in order to do further discovery. Macro design could be next, where each of the dev teams make certain design decisions about their technology choices before they proceed with their iterations. As they are building and deploying code, they can run into issues where they need to make further design decisions, either due to problems that arise or technology choices that have to finally be made: and this is where the micro design phase is useful. Micro design decisions could be quickly made, or they may require spikes and proof of concepts before proceeding. Or there could be no decisions to be made at all. The main thing is more design checkpoints are built into the development lifecycle, which can result in less complexity, less maintainability costs, and less technical debt down the road. What you lose in velocity you can make up in overall lower TCO (total cost of ownership).
There is a risks to this type of approach as well. For example, if the project gets hung up with trying to make design decisions instead of gather requirements and making working software. The key stakeholders need to be aware of this and push on the design teams to prevent that from happening. If anything, it can help the key stakeholders better understand the risks before getting too far down the road in terms of developing software. Overall I think the risks are worth it if it helps you avoid these common agile traps.
That’s a bit dramatic, but Adafruit (a tech company I love) has been deemed an essential service and is helping to manufacture things needed in the fight against it. I am happy to see that.
Here’s a bit from them saying who they are and what they are doing. Awesome!
Adafruit is a 100% woman-owned, loan-free, VC-free. profitable, USA Manufacturing company. Please see our about page and press page to read about us. Our founder and lead engineer is Limor Fried, a MIT Electrical Engineer.
We have paused some operations in NYC due to COVID-19, we are paying all team members, contractors, and more. There are no layoffs for 130+ Adafruit team members.
Adafruit was deemed an essential service to distribute/make some PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) such as face shields, and manufacturer electronics for essential life-saving/preserving equipment and developement which is needed in New York and beyond.
Adafruit Industries located at 150 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013 by Executive Order 202.6, “Essential Business” by New York State:
via Adafruit Industries, Essential service and business: NYC – Executive Order 202.6 Capabilities and more #NewYorkTough #NewYorkStrong #adafruitchronicles @adafruit « Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers!
It depends on how you measure it, but according to this New York Times Article, cloud computing has brought environmental benefits.
The article starts with this:
The computer engine rooms that power the digital economy have become surprisingly energy efficient.
A new study of data centers globally found that while their computing output jumped sixfold from 2010 to 2018, their energy consumption rose only 6 percent. The scientists’ findings suggest concerns that the rise of mammoth data centers would generate a surge in electricity demand and pollution have been greatly overstated.
That’s good. The other good thought here is that centralized computing can continue to drive out efficiencies that distributed computing can not.
All in all, one more reason for companies to embrace cloud computing.
Is described here: As the Start-Up Boom Deflates, Tech Is Humbled – The New York Times.
There’s been many stories written about tech lately: that article is a good chance to get an overall assessment as to where tech is now. At least, start up tech.
Might be seen here: LG brings Gram 17 laptop to Canada | IT Business
Qualities include lightness and thinness, as well as limited ability to make hardware changes. Magnesium body vs aluminum. You can read more about it at IT Business.
It’s only a matter of time before laptops reach a physical limit as to how much lighter and thinner we can make them. That time is not yet. But definitely in the next 5-7 years.
It’s odd how people perceive the iPad after a decade. From what I read, the view overall seems negative. Even smart analysts like Stratechery call it “tragic”.
I can see why reviewers see that. They had an expectation of what the device could be, and lament that it never became that. That is one way to perceive it.
I think there are two different and better ways to view it. One way is seeing the iPad as a secondary device. The iPad will be always secondary to the iPhone, just as the Touch will always be secondary to the iPhone. The iPhone is the premier Apple device, and all other devices do and even should be secondary to it. The iPhone sits at the center, and the Watch and the Airpods and the other devices sit outside of that.
Another way of looking at it is that perhaps the MacBook, the iPhone, Apple TV and the iPad will merge over time. Perhaps in the future there will be no separate MacBook and iPhone. Instead there will be a Display, a Keyboard or UI of some form, and and a Network Device. Underneath it all will be software that brings them all together. That’s my long term expectation.
The iPad is a great device. It’s not the iPhone, and it’s not a Mac. It does what Apple needs it to do right now, and it will continue to do so over time.
Nothing, of course, unless you are playing by the rules and goals of Silicon Valley, where VC money comes at a cost. In this piece He Wanted a Unicorn. He Got … a Sustainable Business | WIRED, we hear
(this) story is one part cautionary tale for entrepreneurs seduced by the allure of venture capital and billion-dollar valuations, and one part an example of how a company can thrive outside those expectations.
I liked the angle of this story and found it fascinating. I think we need more stories of people quite nicely achieving a sustainable business. It’s not that having a blockbuster business is terrible, but it is rare, like all exceptional things are. It’s a winner takes all approach to business. To me, a better approach is that people can be successful in many different ways. Ways like having a sustainable business that provides a service that people really need. That’s a good measure of success to me. I hope we can get more such stories.
Tech manufacturers are struggling to make folding devices. So far the folding smartphones are not where they need to be. Lenovo has taken a different approach, by building a folding tablet first, and not a folding smartphone.
Whether this will be a hit remains to be seen. But as the Yanko Design piece shows, the chance of success with a folding tablet is much higher than a folding phone. If it is a hit, it could lead to smaller devices (i.e., phones) eventually getting that way too.
Years ago Microsoft would have not made such a move. They would have kept trying until the bitter end (e.g. Zune, Microsoft phone). Instead Nadella and team made a decision based more on what works for the users rather that what works for Microsoft. It’s not a radical notion in itself, but for a company that prides itself on being successful and dominant, it’s a big switch. And it’s not just here with browsers. Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure, has a range of technology supported. It’s one of the reasons it is successful.
Microsoft has always been a successful company. They were successful under Gates and Ballmer with one approach. Nadella has a somewhat different approach, and I believe they will continue to be successful with it.
Ballie is the cute little yellow ball above. Samsung unvailled ‘Ballie’ at the 2020 Consumer Electronic Show. If you go to the link, you can read all the things Ballie can do for you. What you don’t get to read is what Ballie is going to do for others. Because there’s never been a more potentially intrusive device in your house like this one. It can go around your house 24/7, recording not just sounds but images. Images (and sounds) that anyone back on the Internet can process.
Until companies and other organizations can demonstrate proper stewardship of such data, I wouldn’t recommend anyone get one of these things. They are far from essential and potentially harmful.
You can do it in 10 seconds:
go to Settings > General > Keyboard, scroll down and tap the slider next to “Memoji Keyboard” to disable Memojis in all apps. This is much easier compared to disabling Memojis in earlier versions of iOS and iPadOS 13.
It’s iconic and feels like it’s been around forever, but the UPC is a fairly new invention. The inventor, George Laurer, worked for IBM and invented it in the 1970s. There’s a good write up on him and his invention, here: Universal Product Code Designer George Laurer Dies At 94 : NPR.
While IBM has been associated with many IT innovations, this one particular one likely touches more people’s lives than any other.
For more on how to read UPCs, and to appreciate just how much information is packed into one, go here.
I’ve seen many instances where a sudden outrage occurs because some ecommerce site like Amazon or some T shirt store ends up selling some product which an outrageous message on it. People will howl: how could they choose to do something so stupid? This article gives a good explanation of just how such stupidity occurs: How Amazon Ended Up With Auschwitz Christmas Ornaments for Sale | WIRED
In a nutshell, things are automated to the point that many of these platforms take on products with little if no review. The cost of review would be much much higher than the occasional cost of having to deal with these exceptions. Given that, expect more and more of this to occur until some legislation comes into play.
It’s a year old, but I highly doubt the problem has gone away. You may want to consider at least not buying from the brands listed. You may even go as far as having your TV unplugged when not watching it. For more tips, see this.
I hesitate to echo Barron’s here: Kubernetes Is the Future of Computing. Everything You Should Know. – Barron’s because computing is vast, and there is more to computing than Kubernetes. (AI, for one thing.) But Kubernetes is one of the main drivers of change in IT, and more and more people are moving towards it. If you don’t know much about it and you subscribe to Barron’s, I recommend you read their piece. Otherwise Google “kubernetes for business leaders” or “Kubernetes 101” and you’ll find quite a few good pieces on it.
Short answer: no. Longer answer can be found here: What Would It Take to Shut Down the Entire Internet?
It’s possible to mess up the Internet, but it is a lot harder than you think. Read the piece and find out why.
And as someone who is a fan of it since a long time, I was glad to hear about it here: There’s a New iPod Touch. Yes, in 2019, and Yes, It’s Worth Looking at. – The New York Times
Back in the day when Blackberries were the rage and I needed one for work, the iPod Touch was my way of tapping into the world of Apple. Today if I had to use Android for whatever reason, I’d be inclined to get a Touch again, just so I could do things the Apple way. It’s a great device still, and if you read the article, you’ll see it is not obsolete.
Now if Apple would only bring back the Nano! 🙂
I highly highly recommend this: NYT Programs – Secure Your Digital Life in 7 (Easy) Days
You can never do enough to security your information technology, but the more you do, the better off you are.
First off, what is it?
The Embroidered Computer is an exploration into using historic gold embroidery materials and knowledge to craft a programmable 8 bit computer.
Brilliant. For more on the design and more photos, see here: The Embroidered Computer | Irene PoschIrene Posch
According to this iPad vs. Mac: Is a tablet better than a laptop for school and work? in The Washington Post, not yet.
I agree with that assessment. I think there will be a time soon when you can, but not this year. Read the piece before you try to go solo with a tablet.
It’s funny how certain tech ideas are bad and yet keep coming back, like zombies. Micropayments is one. Another is stores or establishments run without people: automats, in a sense. It’s a terrible idea in my opinion, and yet people keep trying them. Case in point, here’s some in China that came and went: China’s unmanned store boom ends as quickly as it began – Nikkei Asian Review.
I am sure these will pop up from time to time. Robots are becoming more prevalent, and the urge to keep putting more and more of them in establishments will continue. But like the old automats, I think they will only get so far before they fail.
If you have Philips Hue products or are thinking of getting them, then I recommend you read this: Philips Hue super guide: How to set up and use your Hue lights.
The Hue is a great product, but it may not be the easiest thing to set up. This guide will help.
As someone who is in the maximalist camp (as opposed to the minimalist camp) I love this idea: Why I Use 3 Monitors to Boost Productivity (And You Should, Too) | Inc.com. It’s hard to pull off at home, but I have such a set up at home and it really does work. I have a monitor off to the side for messaging systems and email, I have a second monitor attached to my laptop which I use for what I am focused on, and I have my laptop screen I use for supporting my focus work.
True, if you have a Mac, you can have multiple Desktops and easily swipe from one to the other. I do that in workspaces where I can’t have multiple physical monitors. When I can have them, I like the multiple physical monitor approach. Frankly, I would like to have even more!