Category Archives: computer

Tech media nonsense

I, like many others, watched the Apple event today (October 22, 2013) and was mildly unimpressed with the announcements.  But more interesting to me are some of the articles I see being written after the fact coming from the tech media.  Recently, it has become common place to say the computer is dying and tablets are killing them.  I don’t really understand this statement, as I see them being the same thing.

Computers are devices that we use to create, manipulate, and consume information.  The form factor is what is changing, not the fact that its a computer.  If the general public likes typing on touchscreens and more simplified software, this does not change the fact at all that the underlying components still comprise what is a computer at the core.

I recently started using a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 combined withe multimedia dock.  This dock provides usb ports for storage, mice and keyboards to be used with the small computer.  Additionally, the HDMI out port on the dock allows me to use my television or monitor as a large display.  In this configuration my large phone is now nothing more than a very small desktop computer, is it not?  It runs Android which is nothing more than a flavor of the Linux operating system but provides (in its phone format) touchscreen inputs as well as easy access to some sensors which also can be used with any other computer.  There are some limitations in that much of the software does not scale well and is designed to be used by fat-finger button presses as opposed to pinpoint accuracy of a mouse and that some of the shortcuts I am used to do not work properly on Android.  But, ultimately, you would have to provide me some seriously compelling data to convince me that this is anything but a small computer.

So when I read articles like this in the NY Times, I really question what the author is trying to convince me of.  So what if large computer boxes are not selling as much as small ones?  Most people don’t need a Xeon powered workstation to post what they are doing on Facebook.  So, they choose to use a smaller computer – whether or not this computer is in the shape of a smartphone or tablet means nothing – they are still computers and the idea that one factor is devouring the other really doesnt mean anything – does it? If the end goal is to post a picture of your glass of beer why does it matter what type of computer you use to do it?

Google+ not working out?

A recent post on the technolog blog speculates that Google+ is failing due to the lack of daily posts. I can see this and initially might speculate on the same. However, I think it’s too early to make such a grand statement.  There are some limits to Google+ right now that might be limiting the number of users that will actually push content to the site.  For example, I really do not want to start to use the service with my non Google Apps email account, however Google has yet to open the service up to many users because of this.  Their statement on this topic is here, but it has not been updated in 5 months!!  This doesn’t sound like coming soon to me…

Additionally, here is another issue that I think Google+ needs to think about going forward.  Why does Google+ need to be a walled garden like Facebook and Twitter (and to some extent, WordPress)?    I think if Google would support proper cross-posting to all the aforementioned sites, Google+ could gain tons of usage.  I know I find it annoying to make sure all my social media is updated, but I don’t have the time to make them separate entities and maintain a personality at each one.  I don’t get paid for any of this, nor am I famous.  I would love it if Google+ would have real cross-posting capabilities and if they would get their act together on the Apps accounts, I would certainly adopt it as my social media of choice.

Update to AT&T Microcell

In the course of the last 2 weeks, I have been testing out the AT&T 3g microcell to see if it would improve my cellular service in Brooklyn, NY. After 2 weeks, I have to say that I am generally pleased withe the device. Here are some of the pluses:

1. It generally “just works”
2. Aki and my iphones switch to the microcell almost immediately when we come home (as they should)
3. The voice service is VASTLY improved, and I have not dropped a call since I had the microcell.

Now for the negatives:

1. On day one, the microcell connected at first and worked great. It immediately proceeded to lose its GPS signal (which is required for the device to work) and took hours to reconnect again. This has not happened since day one, but I am always wondering why it happened at all….
2. AT&T is seriously saying that the data usage over the microcell counts against your phone’s data plan. This is insane, evil and is the definition of double dipping (especially if AT&T is your ISP).
3. Because of the problems on day one, I tried out a new router. That was a complete fiasco, and the router was returned IMMEDIATELY. The thing is, I the microcell is kind of picky about routers and firmwares. This could lead to future problems and compatibility issues. I am, for example, unable to get the microcell to work with any router I have except my Linksys WRT54-GL. This router has been a workhorse, but it is lacking many of the advanced features of modern routers, and I don’t like having to run an N access point in my house as well as the G just to have coverage. I can not pinpoint the problem here, but it has to do with the devices talking to each other.

In summary and closing, I have to say that I am happy with the microcell, and would recommend it to others who have problems with connectivity on their AT&T phones. However, here is an interesting anecdote to think about before you decide to drop the $150 on the microcell. My friend Serge got the new 4th generation iPhone the other day and came over to my house for a few beers over the weekend. We looked at his phone and he had 5 bars in my house!! He was not connected to the microcell, but rather to the AT&T local tower. He had no problems making calls either. I am happy that the new phone works better, and would think about updating, however, this is really shifting my blame from 100% on AT&t’s shoulders over to Apple’s. If the new phone works, and the old one doesn’t is it really AT&T who is at fault?