Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

The Future of Tech – “Intuitive” Phones

Notes From The Social-Loco Conference

Recently a conference was held in San Fransisco which discussed the direction of technological development — what can we expect from our devices in the next few years? Rest assured, smart people are working hard to bring us what we need.

Image source: SF Gate (online)

It seems that the most important thing is mobility.

And social networking.

Why?

With the convergence of social networking and mobile phones becoming more pronounced, tech companies are working toward a future when those devices are beyond smart and become intuitive.

“Intuitive”? That sounds good, right?

Using built-in accelerometers, GPS systems and compasses, a phone can have a “sixth sense” in determining when its owner is driving to work or sitting down to lunch, speakers at the Social-Loco Conference said. And then the phone can tap into a social network to make contextual recommendations, such as routes to get around a traffic jam or a new dish to try.”

Location awareness: Don’t be fooled by that pleasant & helpful sounding “route around a traffic jam” and focus instead on “a new dish to try”. They don’t give a rat’s *bottom* for being so helpful as getting you somewhere on time — they want to serve you ads, plain and simple. Ads based on what store you happen to be nearest to at the moment.

Why?

The conference at the Mission Bay Conference Center focused on social networking, location-based services and mobile phones, trends that are particularly important to the biggest social network of all, Facebook.

Generating revenue from mobile users is one of the key investor concerns that dragged down Facebook’s stock price after its debut as a publicly traded company last month. The company previously warned it did not have a proven method of generating revenue from mobile.”

Today’s Geekspeak Translation: “Generate revenue” = serve up advertisements

Bah. I am getting sick-up and fed. “Loco” (Spanish for nutso/cuckoo/bonkers) is right.

Just what I want! More ads! On my phone! Yay!

Is there no escape? Hasn’t anyone woken up to the fact that we humans have become adept at tuning out/ignoring ads as “white noise”? (Solution: double their exposure! If that fails, TRIPLE it!)

In other lunacy: Somebody told me how I could be “Mayor” of my local mall on foursquare..

“foursquare, is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Users “check in” at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application by selecting from a list of venues the application locates nearby. Location is based on GPS hardware in the mobile device or network location provided by the application. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges”.”

I guess this is “modern marketing”?

Is everyone 15 years-old? All of a sudden? Foursquare just may be the single dumbest concept I’ve yet encountered. (I guess when you’re 15, you want to know where everybody is, all the time…? )

*     *     *

You may have noticed that my VodPod videos are gone. That is because the simple and effective video sharing service was recently purchased by a company run by 15 year-olds, who immediately broke it [aka “FAIL”], and also changed its name to Lockerz (where using a “z” instead of an “s” makes you hip, slick, and trendy!)
But .. now I can have something called “decalz”.

Click the link where my widget used to be. Take a look at Lockerz (“A Social Life That Pays”). There you’ll see the future…

Earn “Pointz”!

There’s something seriously – fundamentally – wrong here.. And I don’t think it’s me.

Coming Soon

Source for today’s topic: Bloomberg: Conference looks at social, mobile possibilities

Today’s Quick Tip: Set your phone’s “location awareness” setting to “9-1-1 Only“. Trust me. It’s nobody’s concern what store you happen to be walking past right now.

Today’s quote:People are always telling me that change is good. But all that means is that something you didn’t want to happen has happened.” ~ Meg Ryan

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

June 20, 2012 Posted by | consumer electronics, gadgets, hardware, Internet, iPhone, mobile, News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Next ‘New Big Thing’?

Reader Asks Me To Guess The Future — NBD

“Tech Paul,
I am going to comment, after this paragraph, on my interesting experiences with my new GPS toy. But, before I go to that, I have a question, over which I am puzzling.

Background:  All or most of the most fascinating new technologically-oriented new toys/tools of the last half century have been things so new in concept that it could hardly have been possible for most people to have anticipated them. To take just my latest toy, if fifteen years ago someone had asked me to dream up a new gadget that I would like to have invented, perfected, and given to me to play with, it would hardly have occurred to me to ask for something like a GPS to set on the dashboard of my car. If I had, somehow!, thunk up such a thing, I would have dismissed it, on the grounds that it would be technologically so impossible as to be, for all practical purposes, beyond the realm of possibility.

(But a similar case could be argued with regard to penicillin, the home computer, the Internet, e-mail, cell phones (in both the phone-only and do-everything versions), iPods, satellite radio, the various digital book-read devices, and some of the stuff coming with the emerging nano-technology.)

Now: Regarding my new GPS toy, I am using it at every opportunity, but there are at least two things about this GPS unit which continue to amaze me, as I play with it. First of all, in this little GPS unit, the size of a paperback book, there is an amazing amount of information. Down to pretty much every street in every city-town-village in the country, and what are valid street numbers on every one of those streets. And every highway, and every junction, and so on. Surely there must be many, many gigabytes of data packed into this small box. And an auxiliary amazement is that all this can be bought for $120!

My wife and the granddaughters are bemused by my new toy, but they don’t have the background to be awed by the level of technological achievement represented by this little toy. Like multi-function cell phones and all the other modern marvels, this is just part of how the world is. Especially the granddaughters really can not imagine what life was like when we were growing up on the farm with no electricity, only a hand-crank telephone, and with such a thing as television as not even imagined. So I just had to discuss this new technological marvel called a GPS with somebody who is a bit more into the technological side of the world of technology than they are. So thank you for tolerating my enthusiastic blathering.

Q: My question is this — what do you envision might be the next “new big thing” which ordinary mortals like me do not even conceive of as an interesting and useful possibility? something which, once it was here and available, would be as fascinating and as useful as the newly-emerged GPS is now?”

U.S.S. Enterprise (starship)

Starship Enterprise - Original Series

Thank you for writing, and allowing me to share this letter with my readers. It is a good question you have posed.
A: All you have to do is look at Star Trek for the answer(s). Whether levitation, or a “Universal translator”, or “cloaking” device (invisibility), or plasma rifle, or exceeding the speed of light (or just solar system – to – solar system travel), or “tractor beam”, or needle-less hypodermic ‘shots’ (oh, wait..), or “hologram room” makes it out of the laboratories first.. I don’t know. But the Next Big Thing that I’m waiting for is … teleportation.

How about you Tech — for Everyone readers. What do you think the next technological marvel (quantum leap) will be? Click on the “comments” link, and let us know.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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February 26, 2009 Posted by | tech | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

What your car is saying about you*

The auto manufactures are competing to put the most computer into your car. The merging of digital devices and personal transportation is progressing with alacrity. We know this. The fact that there has been “chips” in our cars for a decade or so is also well known. OnStar™ GPS tracking of our movements has been successfully marketed as a benefit to us, and we pay extra for the privilege. And our car has a microphone, to listen for ‘our calls for help’ (but, only when we push the button… Right??).

I read that the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration Consortium, a government “safety and efficiency” program, (there is a detailed description on Wikipedia, I suggest you scroll down to the paragraph titled “public concerns”) has developed a prototype for an on-board vehicle computer designed to interact with the Internet that will use Linux. (These are the folks who want to put radars in cars, “to detect proximity to the vehicle ahead and automatically apply the brakes to avoid rear-end collisions”) And they want to use the Web so the cars can, “provide a direct link between a vehicle on the road and all vehicles within a defined vicinity. The vehicles would be able to communicate with each other (and the cops), exchanging data on speed, orientation, perhaps even on driver awareness and intent.” This, to “improve traffic flow.”
Hmmm…. Driver intent?!?

Of course, this is being touted as a boon to us dumb citizens. We are told, “this will improve the driving experience” (not to mention, make us safer). How could our car accessing the Web be a benefit? The VII-C says, “by alerting cars about approaching emergency vehicles, collecting data to map weather patterns with high precision, and allowing for ‘over the air’ upgrades of vehicle firmware.”

Hmmm… Let me think about that…
1) Don’t approaching emergency vehicles have flashing lights and loud sirens?
2) Weather??? Like, I’m not going to go where I need to go because there’s a cold front developing..?
3) Automatic updates (aka “patches”)? What does this imply? That there’s concern about viruses and hackers, maybe? (You bet there’s concern!)

Of course the key words here are ‘traffic flow’, and ‘transmit its location’. By publishing its onboard data via the Web, some person in some government office will be able to see where every car is, its speed and direction of travel, and by activating the microphone, will be able to listen to the conversations taking place inside.
Think about that. Frankly, it scares the pants off of me.

I want you readers to know that the government already has this ability to some extent. We are rapidly approaching the point where every car being produced has some type of GPS built into it. They track us through the cellular phone signals (but these are “unreliable”). To “get better gas mileage”, we have all kinds of mini-computers on board that record our speed and braking, and store that info for later perusal — this aids in “accident reconstruction”. But these are not enough. They want more and better tracking technology installed. They don’t want “recorded”, they want “reported”.

Do NOT violate the speed limit in a rental car. The onboard computers will snitch, and when you go to return it, you will be hit with a stiff fine. I kid you not. Joyriding is out, too: excessive acceleration, hard braking, and high lateral G’s are recorded and reported too, even if you never top out above 65. Yes, your car is a snitch. Divorce attorneys and Law Enforcement love the GPS recorder.

Let’s tout the boon to mankind: parents can benefit from these automatic recorders too. Want to know how your kid treated the family car? Where they went? If they braked too hard or accelerated too hard? If they parked at Lover’s Lookout? Just buy an adapter and plug in your laptop. You can play Big Brother and see everything the car did. (I’m still working on how you can send the signal that activates the car’s microphone, and listen in on your kid… That will be a money-maker!)

The miracle of technology is in our cars. We are being told it’s for our benefit and we believe it. OnStar is something we all think is great, and we’re convinced it’s a status symbol (remember when only top-end cars offered it?). Sometimes, I think our desire for security makes us kinda dumb, and I think dummies get what  dummies deserve.

I, for one, don’t want a single recorder, chip, microphone, GPS locator, or transmitter on my person or on my car. It’s nobody’s business where I am, where I’ve been, or… my speed and direction of travel. (Did you miss my article, “It’s time to write your Representative”? Click here.)
They are going to do this, folks, and they’re not giving us citizens much say (“not much” = none).

Tip of the day: Use a soft, lint-free cloth, very slightly dampened with plain water to clean your monitor screen. You do not really need fancy, or expensive products to do this.

Today’s free link: Today I’m putting out the call for your input in this section. Is there a free program or tool that you think is fantastic, but you haven’t seen me post it here? Send me your recommendation — the name, not the link — and I’ll run it through my testing. Those that pass will appear here, with accreditation.

For those of you who aren’t at all bothered by this, and have quite the opposite view; in that you want access to this info (perhaps you are the parents of a beginning driver), devices are available now. If your vehicle is newer and GPS equipped, all you need is a special plug (adapter), if your vehicle [or, the one you’re letting the kid drive] is older, you may want to take a look at this Wall Street Journal article: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB110911718132361463.html

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* Original posting– 8/17/07

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 14, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Big Brother and the computer (snitch) in your car–repost

Business obligations will keep me on the go for the next few days, and it is not feasible for me to construct a fresh article and post it in a timely fashion, and so today I am re-posting an article on your privacy and technology. This article was originally titled “Is anyone else concerned about this?” and first appeared 8/17/07–

The auto manufactures are competing to put the most computer into your car. The merging of digital devices and personal transportation is progressing with alacrity. We know this. The fact that there has been “chips” in our cars for a decade or so is also well known. OnStar™ GPS tracking of our movements has been successfully marketed as a benefit to us, and we pay extra for the privilege. And our car has a microphone, to listen for ‘our calls for help’ (but, only when we push the button… Right??).

I read that the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration Consortium, a government “safety and efficiency” program, (there is a detailed description on Wikipedia, I suggest you scroll down to the paragraph titled “public concerns”) has developed a prototype for an on-board vehicle computer designed to interact with the Internet that will use Linux. (These are the folks who want to put radars in cars, “to detect proximity to the vehicle ahead and automatically apply the brakes to avoid rear-end collisions”) And they want to use the Web so the cars can, “provide a direct link between a vehicle on the road and all vehicles within a defined vicinity. The vehicles would be able to communicate with each other (and the cops), exchanging data on speed, orientation, perhaps even on driver awareness and intent.” This, to “improve traffic flow.”
Hmmm…. Driver intent?!?

Of course, this is being touted as a boon to us dumb citizens. We are told, “this will improve the driving experience” (not to mention, make us safer). How could our car accessing the Web be a benefit? The VII-C says, “by alerting cars about approaching emergency vehicles, collecting data to map weather patterns with high precision, and allowing for ‘over the air’ upgrades of vehicle firmware.”

Hmmm… Let me think about that. 1) Don’t approaching emergency vehicles have flashing lights and loud sirens? 2) Weather??? Like, I’m not going to go where I need to go because there’s a cold front developing..? 3) Automatic updates (aka “patches”)? What does this imply? That there’s concern about viruses and hackers, maybe?

Of course the key words here are ‘traffic flow’, and ‘transmit its location’. By publishing its onboard data via the Web, some person in some government office will be able to see where every car is, its speed and direction of travel, and by activating the microphone, will be able to listen to the conversations taking place inside.
Think about that. Frankly, it scares the pants off of me.

I want you readers to know that the government already has this ability to some extent. We are rapidly approaching the point where every car being produced has some type of GPS built into it. They track us through the cellular phone signals (but these are “unreliable”). To “get better gas mileage”, we have all kinds of mini-computers on board that record our speed and braking, and store that info for later perusal — this aids in “accident reconstruction”. But these are not enough. They want more and better tracking technology installed. They don’t want “recorded”, they want “reported”.

Do NOT violate the speed limit in a rental car. The onboard computers will snitch, and when you go to return it, you will be hit with a stiff fine. I kid you not. Joyriding is out, too: excessive acceleration, hard braking, and high lateral G’s are recorded and reported too, even if you never top out above 65. Yes, your car is a snitch. Divorce attorneys and Law Enforcement love the GPS recorder.

Let’s tout the boon to mankind: parents can benefit from these automatic recorders too. Want to know how your kid treated the family car? Where they went? If they braked too hard or accelerated too hard? If they parked at Lover’s Lookout? Just buy an adapter and plug in your laptop. You can play Big Brother and see everything the car did. (I’m still working on how you can send the signal that activates the car’s microphone, and listen in on your kid… That will be a money-maker!)

The miracle of technology is in our cars. We are being told it’s for our benefit and we believe it. OnStar is something we all think is great, and we’re convinced it’s a status symbol (remember when only top-end cars offered it?). Sometimes, I think our desire for security makes us kinda dumb, and I think dummies get what  dummies deserve.

I, for one, don’t want a single recorder, chip, microphone, GPS locator, or transmitter on my person or on my car. It’s nobody’s business where I am, where I’ve been, or… my speed and direction of travel. (Did you miss my article, “It’s time to write your Representative”? Click here.)

Tip of the day: Use a soft, lint-free cloth, very slightly dampened with plain water to clean your monitor screen. You do not really need fancy, or expensive products to do this.

Today’s free link: Today I’m putting out the call for your input in this section. Is there a free program or tool that you think is fantastic, but you haven’t seen me post it here? Send me your recommendation — the name, not the link — and I’ll run it through my testing. Those that pass will appear here, with accreditation.

Update 8/27: For those of you who aren’t at all bothered by this, and have quite the opposite view; in that you want access to this info (perhaps you are the parents of a beginning driver), devices are available now. If your vehicle is newer and GPS equiped, all you need is a special plug (adapter), if your vehicle [or, the one you’re letting the kid drive] is older, you may want to take a look at this Wall Street Journal article: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB110911718132361463.html 

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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November 6, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, privacy, security, tech, Windows | , , , , | 1 Comment