The Time Keeping Cycle

Time Keeping Cycle

As I sit here today checking the time on my Moto 360 Android Wear smartwatch, I’m amused by a concept I’m calling “The Time Keeping Cycle.”  When I was in high school college I wore watches all of the time (usually a Casio calculator watch, yes I was “that guy”), and pretty much everyone I knew wore wrist watches at the time as well.  They were simple and useful.

I’ve always been one to prefer function over form and even back then I longed for a watch that did more than just tell time.  That said though at some point in the early 2000s I stopped wearing watches (and so did most people).  The few people who still wear watches tend to wear them more as a fashion statement rather than as a utility device to tell time.

Why did everyone stop wearing watches?  Because pretty much everyone started carrying a cell phone around with them wherever they went, and in addition to keeping you in contact with the world around you, cell phones could also tell you the time (and be used as a calculator).  Now over the last couple of years, companies have been trying to get people back into wearing watches again with smart watches.  Thanks to Android Wear, they’ve finally convinced me.

It is interesting though that timepieces have moved from inside the pocket, to the wrist, back into the pocket, and now back to the wrist again.  For the enjoyment of anyone who cares, I’m including a brief history of the watch, ending with my personal history with watches after the break.

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Wearing a computer at MIT, a 2 decade dream realized

Nick at MIT with glass

When I was young (somewhere in the early/mid ’90s), I saw some program (I don’t know which) on PBS and they were talking about some guy (I can’t find the program, and don’t remember names, but I presume it was either Thad Starner or Steve Mann) at MIT who is wearing a computer with a Head Mounted Display and a single hand keyboard, and a computer kept in some sort of backpack.  At that point I knew 2 things.

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Looking at Life from the Other Side of the Glass

Nick Moline, proud Glasshole

It is hard to believe that it was just 1 year and 1 week ago, Google uploaded to its YouTube channel, a teaser video for a project they had been working out of from their top-secret “moonshot” [x] Labs called Project Glass.

The project was ambitious, an augmented reality layer over your very life, answering questions before you even asked, and all around simplifying your life.

2 Months later at Google I/O 2012, Google staged a “demonstration” involving a blimp, skydivers, BMX Trick bikers and more to show off the device as what seemed like little more than a network connected GoPro camera.  They then asked Developers who are interested in getting an early look at the technology if they would be willing to fork over $1,500 for the chance to be one of the first non-Google employees with this whole new class of Technology.

I and 2,000 other attendees happily stood in a long line to put down our commitment to try it out.  Then, months of agonizing waiting began.  Waiting for a future that was so close we could taste it.

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Google I/O 2012 starts tomorrow morning

The next version of Android is officially Jelly BeansGoogle I/O is almost here, and the Google Developers have created a nifty widget for enabling the live stream of the video on your blog, as well as embedding my own Google+ stream as a Live Blog of sorts, so head on after the break for my live blog where I will post about the stream while it happens.

In preparation for I/O, on the Google Developers Plus page, the Development team has now officially confirmed the name of the next version of Android will be “Jelly Beans.”  The confirmation comes with a new statue on the Googleplex Lawn. Continue reading “Google I/O 2012 starts tomorrow morning”

Getting full resolution on a Macbook Pro Retina Display

UPDATE 2012-06-18: My Justia colleague, Dan Vu Quoc, has let me know that the 3rd party shareware Screen Resolution utility for Mac SwitchResX is capable of pushing the Macbook Pro with Retina Display’s resolution up to the full 2880 by 1600 resolution even when not plugged in to an external monitor.  I have tried this out myself, and can confirm it is true!

I’ve used a 28″ monitor plugged into a 17″ Macbook Pro for a long time now, and it’s great to have all that screen real estate when coding for putting my editor window side by side with a browser window for testing, or a terminal window for running server side commands.  I would get so used to having such a high resolution display that when I would unplug to go into a meeting (or take a flight) going down to the 1920 x 1200 resolution that the 17″ Macbook supported (max) was hard for me, there just wasn’t enough screen real estate to get work done effectively.  Add to that just how heavy the 17″ Macbook Pro was and the fact that I am so fat that I can’t actually use the laptop on my lap on the plane, and it was just darn near unusable.

Because of this, I was understandably excited at the announcement of the new Macbook Pro with Retina Display which according to the tech specs supports an astounding 2880 by 1800 resolution, higher resolution than even the 2560 x 1440 resolution of the 28″ Display I use at work.

Unfortunately, as many others have pointed out, you can’t actually set your Macbook Pro to the full 2880 x 1800 resolution.  The screen does support 2880 x 1800 resolution, but Apple’s “Retina Display” technique is to use the extra pixels to make things sharper, not to display more on the screen. Continue reading “Getting full resolution on a Macbook Pro Retina Display”

Fitbit Tracking

FitbitSeveral months ago I got a Fitbit tracker as a prize for a contest.  While I generally dislike exercise (as much as I know I should), I love gadgets, and this thing is as geeky as a pedometer can get (note, the @fitbit folks are very adamant that this is not a pedometer, but it accomplishes the same goals).

I find myself constantly looking at it to see how many steps I’ve made during the day and checking the flower to see if it is healthy or wilted.

My favorite feature is the activity mode.  When I do actual exercise and I hit the treadmill, I can switch it to activity mode and get down to the minute statistics of how well I did.  I love this tracker and highly recommend it for people who want to track their daily activity.

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iPhone 3.0 Supports Both Local AND Exchange Calendars and Contacts

What would you like to do with the existing calendars information on your iPhone?
What would you like to do with the existing calendars information on your iPhone?

When Exchange support was added in the iPhone 2.0 software last summer, turning on Exhange Syncing for Contacts or Calendars was an exclusive action.  Once you turned on Exchange Calendars you could no longer sync your calendars on your iPhone with your computer directly.  It appears that in the iPhone 3.0 that this is no longer the case.  I upgraded to the beta of 3.0 last night and when I attempted to setup Google Syncing again with my calendars, I got the screen on the right.

Previously, doing this action would prompt me that all existing calendars on the iPhone would be deleted, now it asks what to do with the calendars already on the iPhone with an option to keep them intact.  This indicates that Apple is planning on removing the limitation of supporting either Exchange OR synced content but not both.

Unfortunately iTunes seems to not know what to do with this yet, and if I don’t delete the synced calendars, iTunes is not able to do anything with them.

Also unfortunate is that the iPhone will still only support 1 exchange account, an attempt to add a second Exchange Account brings up the familiar “Only one Exchange ActiveSync account can be configured.” message.  While most business users will only have one Exchange account to sign into, Google’s recent move into adding ActiveSync support to Google Calendar and Google Contacts means that at least some of those business users with business accounts on their company Exchange servers may want to setup their personal Google Calendar and Contacts as well, and they’ll be out of luck.

This is still good news, however, for anyone who needs their corporate calendars and contacts but has their own calendars and contacts on their computer as well that they would like to sync.  Kudos to Apple for this non-touted but useful feature.

Amazon Kindle Reader for the iPhone

I wish I was posting this as a follow up to an announcement, but actually it’s a suggestion to Amazon on how they can make more money, sell more Kindle books, and make more people happy.

Amazon KindleFor those of you who don’t already know, the Amazon Kindle is an ebook reader that uses E-Ink technology to display content on a screen. What’s cook about e-ink is that once it has rendered the screen’s contents, it takes no power to keep the content on the screen. The result is that battery life of the kindle is measured in “page turns” instead of hours. The Kindle is also cool because it has WhisperNet, provided by Sprint, which lets you have books you purchase from Amazon’s kindle store be sent straight to the Kindle, without the need to plug the kindle into your computer. The Kindle also gets a special email address where you can email documents to this address and have them appear on your Kindle for a nominal fee for reading. All in all, it’s a fantastic product, it only has one little problem, the price. The Kindle is $349 (previously $399), available only from Amazon, which is still a bit steep for an up-front cost before you start buying books from the Kindle store to put on it.

Amazon, I know you want to sell Kindles, but your bread and butter will always be the books themselves. My suggestion is that you write an iPhone app that can read the Kindle book format and will validate like a Kindle to your own DRM. You could sell this app in Apple’s app store to make even more money, I’m thinking something along the lines of $20 to $40. This way people with an iPod Touch or iPhone (which is quite a lot of people, including yours truely) can start buying Kindle books without a Kindle, and get the enjoyment of having instant access to literature the way only the elite Kindle owners do. The iPhone already has access to the internet, so it could support all of the functionality of Whispernet without any difficulty from you the developer. The iPod Touch has WiFi, so even it can download books directly when it’s on a hotspot.

Amazon can even take this one step further. Amazon already partners with Apple’s iTunes Music Store as a place to purchase content from it’s own Audible.com, once someone has purchased your iPhone app, partner with iTunes again and have people able to shop for books right through the iTunes music store, making it even easier for iPhone owners to purchase your Kindle books.

What I think Amazon may find surprising if they did this, is that it probably would bolster sails of the Kindle devices itself, not only the Kindle books.

See I’m a bit leery of buying a Kindle, and buying Kindle books, knowing that those books are locked to the Kindle. If I could start buying those books now, and reading them on another device, I’d probably later buy a Kindle knowing it’s a better platform for reading them on.

It’s also not exactly outside of Amazon’s business model to offer their digital products to other platforms either. In March, 2007, I blogged about Amazon and TiVo teaming up to make Amazon Unbox Videos (now known as Amazon Video on Demand) available on TiVo boxes. I immediately started buying Unbox videos when I never had before. Incidentally, I’d love it if Amazon Video-on-demand Videos were playable on the iPhone as well, and I’d probably buy a lot more videos from Amazon if they did, but I think that might be a bit of wishful thinking.

So come on Amazon, release an iPhone app that can read Kindle documents and you’ll have even more of my money then you do now, and I’d bet a whole lot of other people’s money as well.