Category: Digital Lifestyle

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The Googorola Metaphor

I don’t want to start an argument about politics. My sentiment this lovely day derives from what the incoming White House is, not what so many people here in California want it to be. I wonder: If Google bought Motorola during a Trump presidency, rather than Obama regime, would later sale to Lenovo be allowed or closing of the Texas phone-assembly factory about 18 months after opening?

The question arises from a pique of sadness as I look at the FedEx tracking information for two Motorola phones purchased directly from Lenovo. City of origin: Wuhan, China. My last Moto came from the Lone Star State, here in the USA. I pine for what might have been, remembering my excitement about Google’s $12.5 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition, in August 2011. My opinion expressed then remains: “The acquisition is bold for its risks, which are no less great than the benefits”. I was no fan of the later sale to Lenovo. 

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Say Goodbye to Nature, iPad

One of the main reasons I own an iPad is the NatureJournals app. Subscription to the fantastic, scientific publication is about $35 per year—versus $200 in print—and the presentation and convenience are outstanding. But the end is nye. Yesterday an alert flashed across the home screen about Nature Publishing suspending development, so I emailed for clarification.

Response arrived today from an account rep: “Unfortunately continued development and technical support for the NatureJournals app has become fiscally unviable and we have therefore made a decision to retire the app”. Bwaaaah! I’m not exactly shocked. How many people read scientific journals in apps? Surely I’m an oddball, and how many others like me can there be? Sigh, the subscription deal was too good to last.

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Tim Cook’s Last Stand

Washington Post reporter Hayley Tsukayama asks, following up on a commentary by software developer Marco Arment: “Is Apple really at the risk of becoming BlackBerry?“. The answer is absolutely “No”. But the concept is right. The fruit-logo company’s dire straight is much more profoundly catastrophic. The risk is becoming Nokia, and the path to that destination is already well-trodden.

Marco calls BlackBerry “king of smartphones”, referring to its market position before Apple released iPhone nine years ago in June. The description is apt enough. “BlackBerry’s success came to an end not because RIM started releasing worse smartphones, but because the new job of the smartphone shifted almost entirely outside of their capabilities, and it was too late to catch up”, he asserts. But smartphones were a niche category in 2007, so insignificant that analyst firms lumped the devices together with PDAs. iPhone’s disruption was far, far greater—Nokia lost its perennial global handset lead; for many of the reasons Marco identifies. Nokia, and not BlackBerry, is the metaphor, and it is frighteningly foreshadowing. 

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Google Gets Context, Sours Apple

Depending on the day, Apple or Alphabet is the world’s most valuable company as measured by market cap, and both manage the two dominant computing platforms used anywhere: iOS/OS X and Android/Chrome OS, respectively. As I write, Alphabet-subsidiary Google holds its annual developer conference. Apple’s event starts June 13.

During the opening keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pichai frames the conference and the company’s direction by rightly focusing on two fundamentally future-forward concepts: Voice and context. Google gets what Apple likely won’t present to its developers, and we’ll know next month. But based on product priority to date, the fruit-logo company is unlikely to match its rival’s commitment to the next user interface. 

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Reconsidering Facebook

I spent little time online the past week following the unexpected passing of my sister Annette exactly seven days ago. The reaction is strange, seeing how much Facebook, texting, and other connected activities and services enriched and changed her life during the last six months or so she walked this Earth. I was clueless.

Last year, I added Annette to my cellular account; she used Nokia Lumia Icon Windows Phone to start. This opened a new world of connection to children, other relatives, and friends by texting. In November, when switching the family to T-Mobile from Verizon and upgrading to Nexus 6P, I sent her my Nexus 6. Soon after, her fraternal twin, Nanette, helped set up Facebook. Annette’s first post was Nov. 22, 2015—a family photo with our brother-in-law Michael Bellerieve, before his death from cancer. 🙁 

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Sizing Up 12.9-inch iPad Pro

April 3, 2016 marks the first day that I truly could use Apple’s over-sized tablet to replace my laptop.  But I had to spend another $84, before California tax, to do it. Gadget reviewers who say that iPad Pro cannot be your computer are wrong. The apps, performance, and utility are there, Anyone creating content should consider this device as compliment to, or replacement for, an existing PC. The problem with 12.9-inch iPad Pro isn’t what it can do but how much it costs to assemble what you need. This kit is far from budget-friendly, which also can be said of Microsoft’s competing Surface Pro 4.

I started my iPad Pro sojourn on Groundhog Day, planning to use the device as my primary PC for 30 days. The objective: Apple CEO Tim Cook says the big-ass tablet can replace a personal computer, I want to see if he is right. The experiment isn’t my first journey like this. I tried something similar during summer 2011 with one of the first Chromebooks. The path was a dead end. But Spring 2012, when new commercial models released, I started down the path again and never looked back. Google’s Chromebook Pixel LS was my main computer before adopting the iPad lifestyle. 

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Meeting Apple’s Big-ass Tablet

The first thing you notice about iPad Pro is the size. The tablet is ginormous. It’s 12.9-inch screen lays before you like a chalk slate—a blank canvas demanding typed text or drawings made with Apple Pencil. Yet something also feels wrong about the thing. During the so-called Steve Jobs era, refined designs were smaller—like iPod nano. Apple is no stranger to larger; 27-inch iMac today or 17-inch MacBook Pro of yesteryear are examples. Perhaps. But there’s big, and BIG.

The giant tablet arrived around 2:50 p.m. PST on Groundhog Day 2016, marking a bold computing adventure for February: Using iPad Pro as my primary PC, and hopefully only one. Perhaps you read my recent obituary to Apple love lost and might wonder why buy anything Apple? I like to experiment and am paid to try out new things (so you won’t have to). By sheer size, PC replacement, not companion, is the only sensible design objective for iPad Pro. Can it meet the demands? I want to find out. 

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If You Can Vote for American Idol on Smartphones, Why Not Presidents?

Over the weekend, my 94 year-old father-in-law asked what I would do to assure that every American who could vote would do so. That was an unexpected question, but one I addressed gingerly. This post is my answer restated for a public venue.

Simple answer: Smartphone. According to PewResearchCenter, nearly 70 percent of Americans own one of the devices, but the number among voting age adults tops 80 percent, according to other estimates. Surely a program could be in place by the 2020 Presidential race, and if lawmakers were truly serious about universal suffrage, a Manhattan-like project could make it happen by the next Mid-terms. 

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Apple Lost My Heart to Google in 2015

Whoa, the difference a year makes: On Jan. 1, 2015, my main computing devices were 13.3-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display, iPad Air, and iPhone 6—oh yeah, Apple Watch, joined them six months later. My mainstays at the start of 2016: Chromebook Pixel LS, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, and Huawei Watch. I abandoned Apple and there are no plans to return. I choose the Google lifestyle instead.

I have changed computing platforms too often during the past two decades. From the December day in 1998 when carting iMac out of CompUSA, no matter what the switch, I always returned to Apple products, even after boycotting the company during second half 2012. My last rally was months ago, before giving up Apple Watch, iPad Air 2, iPhone 6 Plus, the 6s Plus (for a single day), and MBP. I don’t expect to ever go back. The allure is gone. 

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Last-minute Tech Stocking Stuffers

Here we are, days before Christmas, and you’re thinking about last-minute stocking stuffers. I’ve got an eclectic selection of things I would want to get or give for December 25th. Some of them will demand rushing online to take advantage of last-minute shipping offers. Others require no shipping at all, like music subscription services. Confession: Some items will require a larger stocking but no wrapping.

I present the list alphabetically, and in no order of preference. 

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Virtual Reality in a cardboard box?

Today the New York Times spammed my inbox: “We’ve just launched an innovative virtual reality platform that will transform the way you experience stories. As one of our most loyal digital subscribers, you are entitled to a complimentary Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer for an enhanced viewing experience”.

I took advantage of the freebie, thinking that this thing, which literally is a cardboard box, should be an April Fool’s hoax. I kinda heard about it before but ignored. Cardboard boxes are for Amazon packages and cat play after they arrive. High-tech gadgetry, c`mon? What? Is this the newest thing in recyclable tech? 

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I Love ‘X Factor UK’ But Must Leave It

Six months ago, nearly a year after cutting the cord, the Wilcox household reattached—to AT&T U-verse. At the time, my daughter was moving back home, and Cox cable comes into the room where she would reside. Given the importance of the Internet to my daily work,and not wanting the modem and WiFi access point to be in a place with limited access, we signed up for AT&T Internet service and television with it. The connection is in the main room of our apartment, where Cox can’t come without drilling and cabling the landlord won’t allow.

Before the Fall college semester started, Molly moved out to a group place near the ocean. Around the same time, U-verse started to behave badly. We had bandwidth, but some websites consistently hung or slowly loaded. Top of list: Anything Google. I would later learn that, coincidentally or perhaps not, Google Fiber courted San Diego County