iPhone 7: misguided headphone fuss

nolightningI suggested the fuss about the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 is misguided.  Misguided because the fuss is focused on resisting change, not focused on ensuring the right change.

Wireless only limits quality, is not always convenient for charging which means a cable system is still required.  Changing from 3.5mm audio to a digital connection, may simply be a sign of the times, but is this the right change?  For Apple it may be right, but for the industry, and for Apple customers, this is simply the wrong step.  Some Apple consumers will be left abandoned, that is certain, the question is which ones?

Continue reading “iPhone 7: misguided headphone fuss”

The Future of Medicine

a-few-helpful-doctors-ready-to-excuse-youOver the past 2 days I been given a view of the possible future of medicine, attending two lectures: ‘2084: Future Medicine’ and ‘Nanotainment‘. I will discus the actual presentations later, but the impact is that doctors as we know them and other current medical practitioners being will become obsolete other than for the treatment of injuries, and artificial intelligence linked diagnostics on our ‘companion computers’ (smartphones or their descendants), will be the future of medicine.

The three key themes are:

  • genome specific medicine
  • individualised constant analysis
  • the impact of nanomedicine

This post gives background, more detail and discusses the material presented. Continue reading “The Future of Medicine”

Robots & Job Terminations

terminatorJob Terminators?

There is a virtual barrage of reports warning that robots and automation could displace 40% to  50% of the workforce in the next few decades.

During the almost 300 years of the growth age, new jobs have emerged to take the place of those replaced by automation.  Will this continue, or as many suggest, will it be different this time?

This post Reviews:

  • How have new jobs emerged in the past and will this continue?
  • Is it really different this time?
  • Will new jobs automatically emerge to replace those ‘terminated’ by automation.
  • What other alternatives are there?

Continue reading “Robots & Job Terminations”

Microsoft Phones: Dead, or a real opportunity?

maxresdefaultThere are rumours that Microsoft will introduce a Surface Phone.  There are other rumours that Microsoft will exit the phone software platform business completely and admit defeat.

Now consider, what if Windows could run any Android applications along side current Windows and in addition to Windows programs, would you then consider a Surface Phone?

shashlik-logo-svg_This may sound far fetched, but with current projects already under-way running Android applications in Windows is almost there already.

Continue reading “Microsoft Phones: Dead, or a real opportunity?”

Broken: Educating Girls in Technology

Statistics show secondary schools in developed countries are failing to interest girls in technology. I recently attended a forum on this topic and I was able to hear from those making breakthroughs towards fixing the problem.

The reality is secondary schools are having difficulties teaching technology in general, and even include woodwork, metalwork, fabrics, sewing and food technology under the heading of technology, masking how little of what most of us now consider as technology is actually being taught.  These difficulties teaching technology in secondary school are impacting girls far more than boys, but we will not correctly address the problem for girls, without a solution to the problem in general.

The graph below highlights how the problems affect girls. The clear message from the forum is that for technology in secondary school, a new approach with teachers facilitating in place of teaching is what is having an impact.  At this forum, results from this real solution were on display.

Continue reading “Broken: Educating Girls in Technology”

Kepler 452b: What’s all the fuss?

The news.

The space news this week was of the discovery of a very earth like planet around a very earth-like star.  The planet is named Kepler 452b, because the star the planet orbits a star named Kepler 452.  The star being the 452nd previously unnamed star investigated by the Kepler mission telescope.  The Kepler mission is to search for habitable planets and this is not actually the most habitable planet found so far, but the first ‘very habitable’ planet around a star like our own star, the sun.

What makes this special?

So the sixth most habitable planet makes news while not even being the most habitable found so far, because it reminds us of home as it orbits a star like our own sun?  Or is it the suggestion that by being not just habitable but like earth in other ways, we might find a planet that could no only sustain life, but actually have given rise to native life of its own!

The three Searches.

I would suggest there are really three searches going on:

  • the search for advanced alien civilisation (The Seti Institute)
  • the search for hospitable planets, and ideally moons(The NASA Kepler mission)
  • the search for planets (and/or moons) with their own alien life

Is there someone like us out there? (Seti)

This search should be able to look faster and further. This should be the easiest.

The search for advanced alien civilisations generally focuses that is such a civilisation is all like ours, then all we have to is look for the same type of signals as those our civilisation is broadcasting from earth as a by-product of our hi-tech way of life.  If they live in any similar to the way we live we should be able to detect their existence with radio telescopes.  Seti has already searched most likely every single target for the Kepler mission and found no evidence of civilisations like ours.  The universe does seem to be very empty of civilisations like ours, what do not yet know is just how empty.

The Search for hospitable planets and/or moons. (Kepler Mission)

Read the brief from the NASA website, and would assume we are looking for planets just like earth. Places perhaps where, at some future time, we could land and establish colonies?  The catch is that no planet like the earth we live on can exist without already having life.  We live on planet that has been totally changed by the life on our planet.  Early Earth had an atmosphere poisonous to modern humans with no oxygen to breath nor an ozone layer block life destroying radiation before plants and other life completely changed the atmosphere.  In fact free oxygen never exists naturally anywhere in the universe without plants to separate that oxygen from compounds with other chemical elements.

No plants can ever at all like the earth we live on without being changed by plants over billions of years.So the search for a true hospitable planet, means the search for a planet that actually has already been transformed by living organisms.

The search for a planet with life. (Kepler?)

The reality is that to find a planet actually like the earth as we know it, we need to find a planet with life.  If we could detect oxygen molecules in a planet’s atmosphere then we could detect life. Free oxygen, as opposed to oxygen as a compound like water or iron oxide etc, would only be present of life of some type has separated that oxygen.  So oxygen would mean life, but we have no way of detecting oxygen in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting a distant star.

So how can we find life? Reality is that all we can do is try and somewhere which mimics as closely as possible the only place where we know life does exist: earth.

The excitement of Kepler 452b: maybe there is life!

452b is a planet not just in the ‘goldilocks zone’ where the temperature is right and of around the right size, but it is also circling a star similar to our own sun and as been circling that star for even longer than we have been circling our sun.

That is the excitement.  Perhaps more ingredients creating the environment for life than anywhere else discovered so far.  But is it enough? That will be a future post.

Relativity for dummies. Part 1 – How fast can you travel?

How fast?

How long does it take the light to get from the Sun to the Earth?

A:  No time all.  You will hear the answer ‘8 and a half minutes’ but that is from our perspective on Earth.  From the perspective of the light, it takes no time at all!  So it takes the light no time, be we see it as taking over 8 minutes.

Relativity is that all observations are relative to the perspective of the observer.

The point is that time itself is relative to the observer. Acceleration changes the perspective of an observer, so as an observer changes speed, time changes. For perspective to change significantly, you have to be travelling at incredible speed, as the change is determined by your speed as a fraction of the speed of light.  The light itself, in the above example, is actually travelling at infinite speed from the perspective of light.  But relativity means time distorts and any observer not also travelling at the speed of light, will observe the light travelling at the fastest speed anything will appear to be travelling at, the speed of light.

Yes, you can go faster than 300,000km/s (lightspeed), it just doesn’t look that way to others.

You may read that the approximately 300,000km/s (the speed of light) is the fastest speed there is. In reality this depends on point of view).  You will also read that if you travel fast enough time will pass more slowly and if you travel the over 4 light years to the nearest star fast enough, that although it will still take over 4 years on Earth, only 1 year will pass for you, and fellow travellers.  So you would then have travelled over 4 light years in 1 year of your time. If you divide distance travelled by time you get 4 light years per year- or 4x the speed of light at 1,200,000km/s.  The trap is that, for someone who stayed back on earth, over 4 years will have passed, so they will see you as having travelled only slightly below the speed of light.

But for you, the traveller, it is possible to start accelerating and just keep on accelerating at constant acceleration with everything appearing normal. You could keep accelerating to 1 times speed of light, 2 times, 4 times and even faster.  It is those that do not come for the ride who will see your speed as just getting closer and closer to the speed of light, you never reaching the speed of light.

This is not the deepest analysis, but was produced in response to a specific question.

Opinion and Review: The Samsung Note Edge.

I moved from a Samsung Note 3, to a Samsung Note Edge (note 4 variant). The move was not because I chose to make the move, but because I received the note edge as a gift. A key advocate of my receiving the note edge as a gift was set to inherit the Note 3 as their phone 🙂

All this means is that I am not really invested in the decision to move to the Note Edge, as it was not my decision. So I can present a more detached review.  From one generation of device to the next there usually seems insufficiencet incentive for me to update and with most electronics I tend to wait more than one generation to update. At least moving to the Note Edge rather than the Note 4 means I will more clearly see the difference from the previous Note 3.

The secondary display.

Starting from around the Samsung S4, Samsung arrived at the concept of having a secondary display with their phones. The idea is somewhat similar to deciding that for simply checking the time and many of the uses of a phone, particularly the more traditional uses phone usage, a simpler smaller display like that of older phones is actually ideal. Then for browsing, photos, games, detailed contact information, social networking and other ‘tablet like usage’, the bigger and more detailed the display the better. So a larger ‘primary’ display for more detailed work and simpler smaller ‘secondary’ display for sporadic quick interaction. The first implementations came by way of a window in a display case framing a small area of the main display. In that implementation, when the case is closed, the smaller secondary display is still available and when the case is opened, the larger primary display is revealed. With the note edge, for the first time, both primary and secondary display are available simultaneously. Now this is a breakthrough, but the software simply does not make all the usage of this that is possible. Examples of usage include the camera where the controls for the camera are on the secondary display and the viewfinder is the main display. But some of the best uses can be when the device is actually being used for two tasks which can each have their own display. Like using the main display while the secondary display is controlling music. Or where the secondary display manages an incoming phone call avoiding interrupting the primary display.

The Unique feature, simultaneous secondary display.

The secondary display, which I first experienced with the Note 3 through the ‘S-View’ cover, is certainly a useful feature. You can even buy ‘s-view’ covers now for iPhones as well a quite a range of Samsung phones. Samsung has also developed an LED wallet cover for the regular Note 4. Both the LED cover and the Edge avoid the trap of S-View wallet covers which require a window in the wallet cover. The window prevents using the wallet to hold cards! This means the Edge is not the only phone where you can have the secondary display and have a wallet that holds cards, but the LED cover is a very limited display and the user cannot touch and interact with this display. The Note edge IS the only device so far where both displays are available at once.

If there is any interest I will post a part 2 to this review covering more on the Note Edge.

the mobile pressure is on apple and samsung, and the importance of Tizen

The mobile space is dominated by two brands: Apple and Samsung.

Each has reached such a large market that continuing to increase market share basically requires the other company to falter.

Both have ‘hit the wall’ in terms of market share in the mobile space, with further grown thin market share a real challenge.

For Apple the challenge is growth.  In the last few years, Apple stock has more than doubled in value rougly every 3 years. Even if Samsung stop selling phones the Samsung market share was taken over entirely by Apple, this would on allow for one more doubling.  Instead, Apple needs to find new markets.  If Apple finds a new market every three years to fuel growth, then that new market has to be twice as large as the previous new market. The alternative to new markets or growing market share is to stop growing and that brings its own pain. I will soon do another post specifically on the growth challenges for Apple, but surfice for now that reaching a market share that is difficult to significantly increase is a problem for Apple.

So now to Samsung!

Samsung is a very different company and despite sharing the dominance in mobile devices, Samsung is in a very different position.

As a company, Samsung is far more diverse than Apple, and mobile devices are a far smaller percentage of revenue.  Despite this greater diversity, and Samsung actually selling more devices than Apple, the market cap of Samsung is far smaller than that of Apple and there is not the same historic rate of growth to maintain.

As a mobile device company, the big difference is that unlike Apple, Samsung does not have its own ‘ecosystem’ to generate additional profits from those mobile devices.  Instead, Samsung faces competion from other device manufactures competing within the same ecosystem.  Within the Android market, Samsung holds a level of market share impossible to significantly increase, and extremely difficult to maintain. Within Android there is no great barrier to consumers switching brands and running an idenitcal platform reduces the ability for product differentiation placing Samsung at the risk of simply losing market share as fashions change.

The answer for Samsung is Tizen.

Tizen can provide Samsung with an ecosystem that Samsung can control and earn ecosystem profits instead of letting google earn profits on all those Samsung devices. Bringing ecosystems to citical mass is extremely challenging and changing ecosystems risks alientating consumers.  Samsnug has sucessfully moved its ‘wearable’ devices from an intitial launch on Android across to Tizen but has only had false starts on phones so far.

But owning an ecosystem is realistically Samsungs only way to keep mobile device revenues where they are.  A wearables ecosystem could be sufficient if over time wearables become more significant than phones, but I doubt it.  Expect Samsung to keep moving with Tizen, or lose mobile device revenues.

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