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google mobile support web standards wired culture

What’s a Chromebook good for? How about running PHOTOSHOP? • The Register

Netscape Communicator
Netscape Communicator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photoshop is the only application from Adobe’s suite that’s getting the streaming treatment so far, but the company says it plans to offer other applications via the same tech soon. That doesn’t mean it’s planning to phase out its on-premise applications, though.

via What’s a Chromebook good for? How about running PHOTOSHOP? • The Register.

Back in 1997 and 1998 I spent a lot of time experimenting and playing with Netscape Communicator “Gold”. It had a built in web page editor that more or less gave you WYSIWYG rendering of the html elements live as you edited. It also had a Email client and news reader built into it. I spent also a lot of time reading Netscape white papers on their Netscape Communications server and LDAP server and this whole universe of Netscape trying to re-engineer desktop computing in such a way that the Web Browser was the THING. Instead of a desktop with apps, you had some app-like behavior resident in the web browser. And from there you would develop your Javascript/ECMAscript web applications that did other useful things. Web pages with links in them could take the place of Powerpoint. Netscape Communicator Gold would take the place of Word, Outlook. This is the triumvirate that Google would assail some 10 years later with its own Google Apps and the benefit of AJAX based web app interfaces and programming.

Turn now to this announcement by Adobe and Google in a joint effort to “stream” Photoshop through a web browser. A long time stalwart of desktop computing, Adobe Photoshop (prior to being bundled with EVERYTHING else) required a real computer in the early days (ahem, meaning a Macintosh) and has continued to do so even more (as the article points out) when CS4 attempted to use the GPU as an accelerator for the application. I note each passing year I used to keep up with new releases of the software. But around 1998 I feel like I stopped learning new features and my “experience” more or less cemented itself in the pre-CS era (let’s call that Photoshop 7.0) Since then I do 3-5 things at most in Photoshop ever. I scan. I layer things with text. I color balance things or adjust exposures. I apply a filter (usually unsharp mask). I save to a multitude of file formats. That’s it!

Given that there’s even a possibility to stream Photoshop on a Google Chromebook based device, I think we’ve now hit that which Netscape had discovered long ago. The web-browser is the desktop, pure and simple. It was bound to happen especially now with the erosion into different form factors and mobile OSes. iOS and Android have shown what we are willing to call an “app” most times is nothing more than a glorified link to a web page, really. So if they can manage to wire-up enough of the codebase of Photoshop to make it work in realtime through a web browser without tons and tons of plug-ins and client-side Javascript, I say all the better. Because this means architecturally speaking good old Outlook Web Access (OWA) can only get better and become more like it’s desktop cousin Outlook 2013. Microsoft too is eroding the distinction between Desktop and Mobile. It’s all just a matter of more time passing.

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surveillance wired culture

The CompuServe of Things

English: Photo of two farm silos
English: Photo of two farm silos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summary

On the Net today we face a choice between freedom and captivity, independence and dependence. How we build the Internet of Things has far-reaching consequences for the humans who will use—or be used by—it. Will we push forward, connecting things using forests of silos that are reminiscent the online services of the 1980’s, or will we learn the lessons of the Internet and build a true Internet of Things?

via The CompuServe of Things.

Phil Windley as absolutely right. And when it comes to Silos, consider the silos we call App Stores and Network Providers. Cell phones get locked to the subsidizing provider of the phone. The phone gets locked to the app store the manufacturer has built. All of this is designed to “capture” and ensnare a user into the cul-de-sac called the “brand”. And it would seem if we let manufacturers and network providers make all the choices this will be no different than the cell phone market we see today.

 

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surveillance wired culture

Meet the godfather of wearables | The Verge

Stasi HQ building, Berlin, Germany
Stasi HQ building, Berlin, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He continues, “People are upset about privacy, but in one sense they are insufficiently upset because they don’t really understand what’s at risk. They are looking only at the short term.” And to him, there is only one viable answer to these potential risks: “You’re going to control your own data.” He sees the future as one where individuals make active sharing decisions, knowing precisely when, how, and by whom their data will be used. “That’s the most important thing, control of the data,” he reflects. “It has to be done correctly. Otherwise you end up with something like the Stasi.”

via Meet the godfather of wearables | The Verge.

Sounds a little bit like VRM and a little bit like Jon Udell‘s Thali project. Wearables don’t fix the problem of metadata being collected about you, no. You still don’t control those ingoing/outgoing feeds of information.

Sandy Pentland points out a lot can be derived and discerned simply from the people you know. Every contact in your friend list adds one more bit of intelligence about you without anyone ever talking to your directly. This kind of analysis is only possible now due to the End User License Agreements posted by each of the collecting entities (so-called social networking websites).

An alternative to this wildcat, frontier mentality by data collectors is Vendor Relationship Management (as proposed in the Cluetrain Manifesto) Doc Searls wants people to be able to share the absolute minimum necessary in order to get what they want or need from vendors on the Internet, especially the data collecting types. And then from that point if an individual wants to share more, they should get rewarded with a higher level of something in return from the people they share with (prime example are vendors, the ‘V’ in VRM).

Thali in another way allows you to share data as well. But instead of letting someone into your data mesh in an all or nothing way, it lets strongly identified individuals have linkages into our out of your own data streams whatever form those data streams may take. I think Sandy Pentland, Doc Searls and Jon Udell would all agree there needs to be some amount of ownership and control ceded back to the individual going forward. Too many of the vendors own the data and the metadata right now, and will do what they like with it including responding to National Security Letters. So instead of being a commercial venture, they are swiftly evolving into branches or defacto subsidiary of the National Security Agency. If we can place controls on the data, we’ll maybe get closer to the ideal of social networking and controlled data sharing.

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diy mobile wired culture

PiPhone – A Raspberry Pi based Smartphone

PiPhone
PiPhone (Photo credit: Stratageme.com)

Here’s my latest DIY project, a smartphone based on a Raspberry Pi. It’s called – wait for it – the PiPhone. It makes use an Adafruit touchscreen interface and a Sim900 GSM/GPRS module to make phone calls.

via PiPhone – A Raspberry Pi based Smartphone.

Dave Hunt doesn’t just do photography, he’s a Maker through and through. And the components are out there, you just need to know where to look to buy them. Once purchased then you get down to brass tacks of what IS a cellphone anyways. And that’s what Dave has documented in his write-up of the PiPhone. Hopefully an effort like this will spawn copycats enough to trigger a landslide in DIY fab and assembly projects for people that want their own. I think it would be cool to just have an unlocked phone I could use wherever I wanted with the appropriate carrier’s SIM card.

I think it’s truly remarkable that Dave was able to get Lithium ion gel battery packs and TFT displays that were touch sensitive. The original work of designing, engineering and manufacturing those displays alone made them a competitive advantage to folks like Apple. Being first to market with something that capable and forward expansive, was a true visionary move. Now the vision is percolating downward through the market and even so-called “feature” phones or dumb-phones might have some type of touch sensitive display.

This building by bits and pieces reminds me a bit of the research Google is doing in open hardware, modular cell phone designs like the Ara Project written up by Wired.com. Ara is an interesting experiment in divvying up the whole motherboard into block sized functions that can be swapped in and out, substituted by the owner according to their needs. If you’re not a camera hound, why spend the extra money on a overly capable, very high rez camera? Why not add a storage module instead because you like to watch movies or play games instead? Or in the case of open hardware developers, why not develop a new module that others could then manufacture themselves, with a circuit board or even a 3D printer? The possibilities are numerous and seeing an effort like what Dave Hunt did with his PiPhone as a lone individual working on his own, proves there’s a lot of potential in the open hardware area for cell phones. Maybe this device or future versions will break somewhat of the lock current monopoly providers have on their closed hardware, closed source code products.

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google wired culture

Google Glass teardown puts rock-bottom price on hardware • The Register

Google Glass OOB Experience 27126
Google Glass OOB Experience 27126 (Photo credit: tedeytan)

A teardown report on Google Glass is raising eyebrows over suggestions that the augmented reality headset costs as little as $80 to produce.

via Google Glass teardown puts rock-bottom price on hardware • The Register.

One more reason to not be a Glasshole is you don’t want to be a sucker. Given what the Oculus Rift is being sold for versus Google Glass, one has to ask themselves why is Glass so much more expensive? It doesn’t do low latency stereoscopic 3D. It doesn’t have special eye adapters PROVIDED depending on your eyeglass correction. Glass requires you to provided prescription lenses if you really needed them. It doesn’t have large, full color, high rez AMOLED display. So why $1500 when Rift is $350? And even the recently announced Epson Moverio is priced at $700.

These days with the proliferation of teardown sites and the experts at iFixit and their partners at Chipworks, it’s just a matter of time before someone writes up your Bill of Materials (BOM). Once that’s hit the Interwebs and communicated widely all the business analysts and Wall Street Hedgefunders know how to predict the profit of the company based on sales. If Google retails Glass at the same price it is the development kits, it’s going to be real difficult to compete for very long given lower price and more capable alternatives. I appreciate what Google’s done making it lightweight and power efficient, but it’s still $80 in parts being sold at a mark-up of $1500. That’s the bottom line, that’s the Bill of Materials.

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macintosh mobile wired culture

AnandTech | Apple’s Cyclone Microarchitecture Detailed

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

So for now, Cyclone’s performance is really used to exploit race to sleep and get the device into a low power state as quickly as possible.

via AnandTech | Apple’s Cyclone Microarchitecture Detailed.

Race to sleep, is the new, new thing for mobile cpus. Power conservation at a given clock speed is all done through parceling out a task and with more cores or higher clock speed. All cores execute and comple the task then cores are put to sleep or a much lower power state. That’s how you get things done and maintain a 10 hour battery life for an iPad Air or iPhone 5s.

So even though a mobile processor could be the equal of the average desktop cpu, it’s the race to sleep state that is the big differentiation now. That is what Apple’s adopting of a 64bit ARM vers. 8 architecture is bringing to market, the race to sleep. At the very beginning of the hints and rumors 64bit seemed more like an attempt to address more DRAM or gain some desktop level performance capability. But it’s all for the sake of executing quick and going into sleep mode to preserve the battery capacity.

I’m thinking now of some past articles covering the nascent, emerging market for lower power, massively parallel data center servers. 64bits was an absolute necessary first step to get ARM cpus into blades and rack servers destined for low power data centers. Memory addressing is considered a non-negotiable feature that even the most power efficient server must have. Didn’t matter what CPU it is designed around, memory address HAS got to be 64bits or it cannot be considered. That rule still applies today and will be the sticking point still for folks sitting back and ignoring the Tilera architecture or SeaMicro’s interesting cloud in a box designs. To date, it seems like Apple was first to market with a 64bit ARM design, without ARM actually supplying the base circuit design and layouts for the new generation of 64bit ARM. Apple instead did the heavy lifting and engineering themselves to get the 64bit memory addressing it needed to continue its drive to better battery life. Time will tell if this will herald other efficiency or performance improvements in raw compute power.

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art entertainment wired culture

Jaunt – Meet the Crazy Camera That Can Make Movies for the Oculus Rift (Jordan Kushins-Gizmodo)

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift (Photo credit: Digitas Photos)

If Facebook buying Oculus for a cool $2 billion is a step towards democratizing the currently-niche platform, Jaunt seems like an equally monumental step towards making awesome virtual reality content that appeals to folks beyond the gaming community. The VR movies in addition to VR games.

via Meet the Crazy Camera That Can Make Movies for the Oculus Rift.

Amazing story about a stealthy little company with a 3D video recording rig. This isn’t James Cameron like motion capture for 3D rendering. This is just 2D video in real time stitched together. No modeling, or texture-mapping, or animating required. Just run the video camera, capture the footage, bring it back to the studio and stitch it all together. Watch the production on your Oculus Rift head set. If you can produce 3D movies with this without having to invest in the James Cameron high end, ultra-expensive virtual sets, you just lowered the barriers to entry.

I’m also kind of disappointed that in the article the author keeps insisting that you “had to be there”. Telling us words cannot express the experience is like telling me in writing the “dog ate my homework”. I guess I “had to be there” for that too. Anyway you put it, telling me more about the company and the premises and about the prototypes means you’re writing for a Venture Capital audience, not someone who might make work using the camera or those who might consume the work made by the artists working with the camera. I say just cave into the temptation and TRY expressing the experience in words. Don’t worry if you fail, as you’ve just increased the comment rate on your story, engaging people longer after the initial date the story was published. In spite off the lack of daring, to describe the experience, I picked up enough detail, extrapolated it enough and read between the lines in a way that indicates this camera rig might well be the killer app, or authoring app for the Oculus Rift platform. Let’s hope it sees the light of day and makes it market quicker than the Google Glass prototypes floating around these days.

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entertainment technology wired culture

Cargo-culting [managers are awesome / managers are cool when they’re part of your team] (tecznotes|Mike Migurski)

English: Code for America Logo
English: Code for America Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is incidentally what’s so fascinating about the government technology position I’m in at Code for America. I believe that we’re in the midst of a shift in power from abusive tech vendor relationships to something driven by a city’s own digital capabilities. The amazing thing about GOV.UK is that a government has decided it has the know-how to hire its own team of designers and developers, and exercised its authority. That it’s a cost-saving measure is beside the point. It’s the change I want to see in the world: for governments large and small to stop copy-pasting RFP line items and cargo-culting tech trends (including the OMFG Ur On Github trend) and start thinking for themselves about their relationship with digital communication.

via managers are awesome / managers are cool when they’re part of your team (tecznotes).

My apologies to the original article’s author Mike Migurski. He was only mentioning cargo-culting in passing while he developed the greater thesis of different styles of managers. But the term cargo-culting was just too good to pass up because it’s so descriptive and so critical as to question the fundamental beliefs and arguments people make for wanting some new, New thing.

Cargo-culting. Yeah baby. Now that’s what I’m talking about. I liken this to “fashion” and trends coming and going. For instance where I work digital signage is the must have technology that everyone is begging for. Giant displays with capacitive touch capability, like 70″ iPads strapped motionless, monolithically to a wall. That’s progress. And better yet when they are unattended not being used they are digital advertising, yay! We win! It’s a win-win-win situation.

Sadly the same is true in other areas that indirectly affect where I work. Trends in Instructional Technology follow cargo-culting trends like flipping the classroom. Again people latch onto something and they have to have it regardless of the results or the benefits. None of the outcomes really enter into the decision to acquire the “things” people want. Flipping a classroom is a non-trivial task in that first you have to restructure how you teach the course. That’s a pretty steep requirement alone, but the follow-on item is to then record all your lectures in advance of the class meetings where you will then work with students to find the gaps in their knowledge. Nobody does the first part, or rarely do it because what they really want is the seemingly less difficult task they can delegate. Order up someone to record all my lectures, THEN I’ll flip my classroom. It’s a recipe for wasted effort and potential disaster.

Don’t let yourself fall victim to cargo-culting in the workplace. Know the difference between that which is new and that which is useful. Everyone will benefit from this when you can at least cast a hairy eye-ball at the new, new thing and ask simply, Why? Don’t settle for an Enron-like “Ask Why”, no. Keep working at the fundamental assumptions and arguments, justifications and rationalizations for wanting the New, new thing. If it’s valid, worthy and beneficial it will stand up to the questioning. Otherwise it will dodge, skirt, shirk, bob and weave the questions and try to subvert the process of review (accelerated, fast-tracked).

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mobile surveillance wired culture

The technical aspects of privacy – O’Reilly Radar

Image representing Edward Snowden as depicted ...
Image via CrunchBase

The first of three public workshops kicked off a conversation with the federal government on data privacy in the US.

by Andy Oram | @praxagora

via The technical aspects of privacy – O’Reilly Radar.

Interesting topic covering a wide range of issues. I’m so happy MIT sees fit to host a set of workshops on this and keep the pressure up. But as Andy Oram writes, the whole discussion at MIT was circumscribed by the notion that privacy as such doesn’t exist (an old axiom from ex-CEO of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy).

No one at that MIT meeting tried to advocate for users managing their own privacy. Andy Oram mentions Vendor Relationship Management movement (thanks to Doc Searls and his Clue-Train Manifesto) as one mechanism for individuals to pick and choose what info and what degree the info is shared out. People remain willfully clueless or ignorant of VRM as an option when it comes to privacy. The shades and granularity of VRM are far more nuanced than the bifurcated/binary debate of Privacy over Security. and it’s sad this held true for the MIT meet-up as well.

Jon Podesta’s call-in to the conference mentioned an existing set of rules for electronic data privacy, data back to the early 1970s and the fear that mainframe computers “knew too much” about private citizens known as Fair Information Practices:  http://epic.org/privacy/consumer/code_fair_info.html (Thanks to Electronic Privacy Information Center for hosting this page). These issues seem to always exist but in different forms at earlier times. These are not new, they are old. But each time there’s  a debate, we start all over like it hasn’t ever existed and it has never been addressed. If the Fair Information Practices rules are law, then all the case history and precedents set by those cases STILL apply to NSA and government surveillance.

I did learn one new term from reading about the conference at MIT, Differential Security. Apparently it’s very timely and some research work is being done in this category. Mostly it applies to datasets and other similar big data that needs to be analyzed but without uniquely identifying an individual in the dataset. You want to find out efficacy of a drug, without spilling the beans that someone has a “prior condition”. That’s the sum effect of implementing differential privacy. You get the query out of the dataset, but you never once know all the fields of the people that make up that query. That sounds like a step in the right direction and should honestly apply to Phone and Internet company records as well. Just because you collect the data, doesn’t mean you should be able to free-wheel through it and do whatever you want. If you’re mining, you should only get the net result of the query rather than snoop through all the fields for each individual. That to me is the true meaning of differential security.

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blogtools google media technology wired culture

Jon Udell on filter failure

Jon Udell
Jon Udell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time to engineer some filter failure

Jon’s article points out his experience of the erosion of serendipity or at least opposing view points that social media enforces (somewhat) accidentally. I couldn’t agree more. One of the big promises of the Internet was that it was unimaginably vast and continuing to grow. The other big promise was that it was open in the way people could participate. There were no dictats or proscribed methods per se, but etiquette at best. There were FAQs to guide us, and rules of thumb to prevent us from embarrassing ourselves. But the Internet, It was something so vast one could never know or see everything that was out there, good or bad.

But like the Wild est, search engines began fencing in the old prairie. At once both allowing us to get to the good stuff and waste less time doing important stuff. But therein lies the bargain of the “filter”, giving up control to an authority to help you do something with data or information. All the electrons/photons whizzing back and forth on the series of tubes exisiting all at once, available (more or less) all at once. But now with Social Neworks, like AOL before we suffer from the side effects of the filter.

I remember being an AOL member, finally caving in and installing the app from some free floppy disk I would get in the mail at least once a week. I registered my credit card for the first free 20 hours (can you imagine?). And just like people who ‘try’ Netflix, I never unregistered. I lazily stayed the course and tried getting my money’s worth, spending more time online. At the same time ISPs, small mom and pop type shops were renting off parts of a Fractional T-1 leased line they owned, putting up modem pools and started selling access to the “Internet”. Nobody knew why you would want to do that with all teh kewl thingz one could do on AOL. Shopping, Chat Rooms, News, Stock quotes. It was ‘like’ the Internet. But not open and free and limitless like the Internet. And that’s where the failure begins to occur.

AOL had to police it’s population, enforce some codes of conduct. They could kick you off, stop accepting your credit card payments. One could not be kicked of the ‘Internet’ in the same way, especially in those early days. But getting back to Jon’s point about filters that fail and allow you to see the whole world, discover an opposing viewpoint or better mulitple opposing viewpoints. That is the promise of the Internet, and we’re seeing less and less of it as we corral ourselves into our favorite brand name social networking community. I skipped MySpace, but I did jump on Flickr, and eventually Facebook. And in so doing gave up a little of that wildcat freedom and frontier-like experience of  dial-up over PPP or SLIP connection to a modem pool, doing a search first on Yahoo, then AltaVista, and then Google to find the important stuff.

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