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Has 2012 been the year of bidirectional data? [Dec. 26th, 2012|06:03 pm]
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]
[music |Celtic Portraits - John Mock]

I just had an interesting thought: the most innovative trend recently in computing hasn't been the move to mobile, but rather, the seamless transition between devices. For instance, a year ago, there wasn't a common Notes app that synced data between your Mac and your phone and tablet. But now, you can create content on the desktop and have it appear where you expect it with a similar if not congruent interface on a different form-factor device.

On the one hand, this should not be some great revelation; on the other hand, I think that there is a lot of value in this idea. It enables a person to be more efficient because it drives the time-cost down. For example, I can make a to-do list on a machine with a full-sized keyboard say on either my desktop or laptop and view it on my phone without having to manually sync data between the two.

Yes, many applications have done this for a while now using Dropbox to take care of the syncing while still fewer applications providing their own syncing services (i.e. Evernote, Wunderlist). Add to this fact that you can hook up a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard to either the iPhone or the iPad, and you now have a very mobile device with perhaps the biggest advantage that a laptop or desktop offers over a more-mobile solution.

This isn't to say that you can't go mobile only if you don't have some "desktop" app that is critical to your core competency; many people have–heck, an entire novel was written on an iPhone without a physical keyboard. (That's a little too ambitious for me at this point. But it just goes to show that it can be done in a pinch.)

And it isn't to say that this bi-directional flow of not just raw data, but presentation and manipulation of that data can't work outside of Apple's ecosystem. I can't give any empirical examples, but I know that there are Android apps out there that either sync with Dropbox or provide their own syncing services. Evernote comes to mind as well as Google Docs (though I wonder, are there Google Doc apps for Android? If so, how well do they work?)

Retrospectively, 2010 was the year of going mobile. 2012 was the year of bidirectional presentation and manipulation of data in that data's respective apps. Will 2013 be the year of understanding what it means to always have your data with you and building some hither-to unthought of innovation that further still drives down time-costs?

This is an interesting time to be alive.
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Getting in the Holiday Spirit [Dec. 16th, 2012|07:32 pm]
[mood |mischievousmischievous]


Shamelessly stolen from becofoz


I'm not so much being humbug as much as I am astonished to find myself staring at the calendar of December 2012. Where did the time go? It feels like the middle of April, not the end of December.

Also, This is funny. I had to share.
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Dependence on Technology [Dec. 16th, 2012|07:18 pm]
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]
[music |Downton Abbey Suite]

I was standing in line behind an older lady at the cash register at Target. She had signed up for one of their Target Red Cards. Having singed up recently, her card hadn't come in the mail yet. Instead, she had the receipt that was printed for her in lieu of a swipe-able card.

When it came time for her to put her PIN number in, it wouldn't accept it. This was tried two or three times.

She instead opted to pay with her Discover card. Despite the fact that the card had an expiration date of May 2013, when she did swipe her Discover card, the transaction was denied on the basis that the card was expired.

The cashier was an older lady too.

Both women were clearly frustrated with this failure of technology to "just work".

The cashier got (what I assume was) a manager to come to her register. He tried to swipe the Discover card to no avail. He finally proclaimed "I saw this happen earlier. The card wouldn't go and wouldn't go through. Then it finally did."

The customer wound up leaving what she had attempted to purchase in her cart.

When the cashier was processing my purchases, she looked at me and said "That's ridiculous."

I wondered two things:


  1. Why didn't the manager just give the cart to the lady and log it as shrinkage or something? Her total was $24 and change if memory serves correctly. In my opinion, this would have been the best possible outcome because she wanted to pay, but the technology both she and the store wanted to employ to finalize the transaction wouldn't work. It wasn't like not charging her for this buggy of goods was going to put the store out of business.

    And I'm not arguing from a bleeding heart here. Giving her the goods makes damned good business sense. It says, "We care more about you than we do about making money off of you, and we're willing to spend some money on you personally to keep a good business relationship with you."

    If that is still seen as anti-capitalistic, then what about this: the negative publicity that the store will likely receive from this women over her not being able to walk out with the goods she wanted–and attempted–to legally purchase has a higher probability of costing the store more money in the long run then the cost of the goods in her cart, not just the profit off of said goods in said cart.


  2. What was causing this failure of technology?

    I chalk the PIN number up to user error. Either the issuing cashier didn't properly issue the temp card or the customer entered the wrong PIN at the time she signed up for the card, despite her claim of "It's the PIN number I always use." (Let's not even divulge into the security aspects of that statement.)



See, I'm a technology guy. While I don't understand a lot or even most of technology, (I once met a man that claimed to have multiple advanced degrees. He said, "The more I know, the more I know what I don't know." I concur.) I sure don't understand the point of failure here.

Perhaps Discover encodes their cards differently from everyone else and it's harder to get read the correct expiration date off of the card. But then, wouldn't this be a problem with all Discover cards at this Target, if not corporation wide?

Maybe the register needed to be rebooted; maybe the memory or "logic board" (to appropriate an Apple phrase) was bad in the register. A random hardware failure? Maybe. But the manager took the Discover card to the next register over and it still wouldn't go through.

I understand that we're all human and have limitations. I further understand that humans build technology and as such, technology is flawed. But despite these facts, as a race, a lot of work has went into making our technology more reliable.

What went wrong I'll never know. But for this to have happened to two people who grew up without computers and whiz–bang! technology, I'm saddened that this experience befell them which will likely reinstate their belief that computers are evil and cannot be trusted.

It also has made me stop and reflect on how much we rely on such whiz-bang! technologies every minute of every day and the impressive success rate and uptime of said technologies. And it gives me pause to think what would happen if all of that came crashing down at once.
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Recurring Dream [Dec. 15th, 2012|06:42 pm]
[Tags|]

Note: This post was typed up a while ago. I don't know why it didn't run on my blog when I wrote it. I must have been in a hurry.

Many humble apologies,
schpydurx

=====

I've had a similar dream twice now.

It's as though I'm working in Apple's Tech Support call center, but it's in house. There are many windows and much light comes into the building. Instead of cubicles or desks, there are long tables, much like the tables that are in the Apple store, only longer.

It's like I've just started there and am only working part-time, and by part-time I mean like two hours a week or something. (Reminiscent of my tutoring job this semester.) My manager is trying to get their paperwork in order and needs some kind of information from me, but can't articulate what exactly he needs, so I can't give it to him.

Eventually, I wander off from my assigned position and start exploring the room. I get lost, but there are more and more tables with computers and stuff, but no one sitting at them.

I wonder what this all means.
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Whoopsie! [Dec. 15th, 2012|03:50 pm]
[Tags|]

I'm a guy and a I can admit that. I wouldn't quite go so far as "confirmed bachelor", but pretty darn close.

Anyway, I just went to put some ravioli in the microwave, but it wouldn't sit flat on the turntable. It turns out that there was a bag of sweet peas in one of those steamer microwavable bags…that I had forgotten to consume at least two nights ago.

Good thing I was watching Rizoli and Isles and got a craving for ravioli. This story could have ended much worse than it did.
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False Marketing [Nov. 13th, 2012|03:33 pm]
Atlas Shrugged, Part II was supposed to be better than Part I because they had a bigger budget and a better cast if not crew. I wasn't convinced by their advertisement because I frankly liked the earlier cast and thought that it was a directing/editing problem. True to form, Atlas Shrugged, Part II was worse than part 1.

The money speech was cut to three sentences and the lesson that d'Anconia gives to Rearden was missing in its entirety. Likewise, Rearden's trial was watered down and cut short and the time that Rearden had with the wet nurse was nonexistent. There was no Ragnar, no d'Anconia working covertly in the mills for months and the big fight at Rearden's didn't happen either. Over all, a lackluster piece of cinema with way to much removal of source material.

Cloud Atlas was supposed to be this magnificent, intelligent film that went throughout various time periods and taught us something deep about humanity. Well, there were several poignant moments, and for the $100+ million that was spent on it did produce a stunning image and precisely-engineered sound. But at the end of the day, it was a $100 million re-make of The Fountain with 1/100th of the depth of story or meaning.

Per the trailer, Skyfall is a James Bond film. The trailer makes it look like there's some kind of mission that Bond was part of but went rogue/disappeared/presumed dead and somehow completed the mission. Meanwhile, there are a lot of dead bodies that M is left to account for because of the failed mission. According to the trailer, Bond should have come back, got himself together, took names and kicked ass. Instead, there more more drama-less, action-less moments in this film than in the previous failure Quantum of Solace a film which James Bond himself issued an apology.

Skyfall does have redeeming moments–perhaps enough to merit a second look. Perhaps I'm just jaded by Casino Royale–a film that starts with action, is full of action and ends with action. But this is about trailers and films not matching up.

Which brings me to Flight with Denzel Washington. From the trailer, I expected this to be a film about a pilot that pulls a plane out of an impossible situation and lands it as safely and gently as possible despite the fact that he has a drinking problem that isn't fully explained by the trailer. I assumed that the film would be about the cause of his drinking problem and the bulk of the film would be about how he rises to overcome any kind of negligence charges. Instead, this film was 30 minutes of plane crash, 1hr 30 watching a drunk be a drunk and 10 minutes of personal responsibility. No drama whatsoever.

I don't know if I've become an old curmudgeon or if the state of filmmaking/advertising has gotten so bad that the only option open to producers is to lie in their advertisements.

What I do know is that I have been able to redeem these atrocities via TV of all things. Since we last met, I completed Season 1 of Once Upon a Time, a fantastic piece of cinema and entertainment. I like the cinematography, I like the acting, especially Robert Carlyle's. The dialog is tidy, the characters believable and the season feels like the never-ending story you get wrapped up in and hate to leave when your eyes scan the words, "The End".

I'm looking forward to Season 2 and will likely add both to my collection along with Downton Abbey.

For me, the jury is still out on Mad Men after having finished a season. It's slow and I'm not sure how much more of the over-the-top sex in the city, sex in the suburbs, sex in the bedroom I can put up with.

Up next is Castle Season 4 followed by Rizzol & Isles, Hell on Wheels and Homeland. I'm not a huge fan of Castle, though it has its moments. I wished it was a darker show along the lines of Dexter. To me, the best metaphor to describe Castle is chewing bubble gum.
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Don't use the sprinkler as a coat hanger [Oct. 20th, 2012|10:29 pm]

Do not use the sprinkler as a coat hanger
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Mom and Son Didn't Grow Up, Took Being a Toys R Us Kid Too Literally [Aug. 14th, 2012|08:12 am]
[Tags|]



A mother and son stole more than $2 million in expensive toys by stashing them inside the boxes of cheaper products that they bought at Toys R Us stores across the U.S.

[…]

Michael and Margaret Pollara visited 139 Toys R Us in 27 states, including California, Hawaii and New York, buying nearly $7,000 worth of small-ticket items to fuel their scam, according to the affidavit. Authorities were able to track Michael Pollara’s purchases across the country because he used a Toys R Us rewards card for all of his purchases.


This was too juicy not to pass up. To me, there are several of things wrong with this story.


  • How is it that Toys R Us didn't notice that they had lost $2 million in inventory? Are they really do that well these days? I just don't think of Toys R Us being that profitable these days.


  • Why didn't any of the hiding of the more expensive items in the inexpensive item's boxes not set off any alarms? What kind of security is Toys R Us running?


  • For that matter, why didn't anyone notice the small, unboxed items hiding around the stores?



I mean, really. I'm having a hard time deciding which way I want to lean on this story. Do I give this team a thumbs up because they actually pulled the caper off? Do I instead wish to see them punished for stealing from Toys R Us which in turn had an impact on the flailing economy? Or, do I instead blame Toys R Us for not running a tighter ship?

The mind boggles.
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Why Countries Go Into Debt [Aug. 8th, 2012|07:52 am]
[Tags|, , ]



Godfrey Bloom explains why countries go into debt so that even politicians can understand!
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Thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises [Aug. 1st, 2012|06:58 am]
[Tags|]

The trailers didn't excite me.

Read more...Collapse )
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