Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hi Tech Conspiracy Theory?

Did you hear the one about the young computer expert / hacker who comes across some damaging information about a mega-corporation and before you know it the hacker is being sought by the police for a crime the person is suppose to have committed? Of course the crime is not real. It was set in motion by the mega-corporation using computer technology to change and/or delete part of the hacker's computerized records. This type of conspiracy theory was made popular by the 1995 movie called The Net with Sandra Bullock. Do you think this could happen in real life?

Case in point is is the story of Julian Assange. You may know him better as the founder and editor of WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing Web site that published tens of thousands of pages of Pentagon paper regarding the Afghanistan war. He was being sought on a arrest warrant in Sweden for rape and molestation charges. The spokesperson for the Swedish prosecutor's office said that they and, I quote from the CNN article, "didn't have more detail about when the alleged crimes occurred or who the alleged victims are". Assange denied the charges on the WikeLeaks Twitter page. Strangely, within a few hours of the story breaking, Swedish authorities dropped the rape accusations. 

Could Assnage be living Sandra Bullock's nightmare? We will have to wait and see how this story unfolds but I do find it curious how all this transpired. It would be interesting to hear on what evidence the charges were first laid and the circumstances on why they were dropped. Any chance the US government is involved? Makes you want to go .... mmmmmmmm???
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

iPads vs eReaders

A Picture of a eBookImage via WikipediaIn a past blog post, I was critical of iPad, not knowing how they fit in the marketplace. I have borrowed an iPad and have been trying to decide how it could possibly fit in my work or leisure activities. What I am discovering is that the iPad is a great eReader but I'm not going to be shelling out a minimum of $500 for an iPad and use it as an eReader.  That would be like buying an computer and use it as a paperweight.

I enjoy reading and have considered buying an eReader. As I see it, there are three problems with eReaders. Firstly, they are only black and white. That is not a problem for most people as eReaders are replacements for novels which are usually black text on white paper. But here's my next problem with eReaders - they do not provide a way to read Web pages. I would like a way to be able to read e-stuff (digital journals, e-newpapers, news feeds, my email) as well as novels and eReaders do not have this facility. Lastly, each book seller has it's own version of an eReader. Chapters/Indigo in Canada and Borders in the US  has the Kobo, Amazon has Kindle, Barnes and Noble has the nook. And to complicate things further, there are over two dozen other eReaders with many different file formats. I'm sure they will be standardized soon, just as VHS won over BetaMax.

So here's my message to the eReader developers - standardize your formats, upgrade to colour and Web browsing capabilities, keep it moderately priced, and I'll be first on the list to buy one
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Two Faces of Google

Image via WikipediaThere are two interesting developments over that past few days that shows the two sides of Google. The first is the lawsuit brought on Google by Oracle. Oracle recently purchased Sun Microsystems that developed Java. Oracle is suing Google because the Android mobile operating system is based on Java and Google has not paid any royalties. Oracle is saying that Google is using the Java Micro Edition which is not part of the open source licensing agreement. Google is saying it has developed its own Java virtual micro environment and that the lawsuit is an attack on the open-source community.

Sun MicrosystemsThe other story relates to Google and Verizon Communications putting forward a joint proposal to the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality. Net neutrality is the concept that implies all users of the Internet have equal access and bandwidth to all part of the Internet. This means that large corporation will not have priority over personal communications online. Your online bill comes to you as fast as an email from a friend. What Goggle and Verizon is suggesting in its proposal is that net neutrality is applicable only to part of the Internet but suggest blocking content and application on wireless platform.
So on one hand, we have Google claiming the rights and privileges of the open-source community but on the other hand, they are saying that they want to limit access to part of the Internet. These actions clearly show the two faces of Google and how they spin the facts and the technology to suit there influence on the Internet. I do not know enough details about the Oracle lawsuit to make judgement on whether Google infringes on Java's licensing agreements but I do know that limiting the Internet by giving special treatment to a group of users is wrong.

In the early days of the Internet, I used to give talks to novices about how to use this emerging technology. At the beginning of my talk, I would lead a discussion on who owns the Internet. The most popular response was Bill Gates. I would assure the group that no ones owns the Internet but now it appears that Google is trying to take it over. Let's hope that they do not succeed!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blackberry in Trouble

Image representing Research In Motion as depic...Image via CrunchBase
In the past few weeks, Blackberry has been very dominant in the news. Rumors about a tablet PC started when RIM purchased the domain name. RIM also introduced their latest Blackberry model to be known as the Torch. This model and their latest operating system is RIM's answer to the iPhone and the up an coming Android phones. But things are not looking good for the Canadian cell phone company. A recent statistic claims that half of all current Blackberry users are either considering switching to will be switching to different hardware.

An additional  nail in the Blackberry coffin is the problems RIM has been having with the United Arab Emirates. Because of the strong security on the phone, the UAE feel that the phone can be used by spies and circumvent security. Apparently RIM has come up with a solution to this problem or they could possibly lose 500,000 customers.

Blackberry are great phones (I use one but I'm in the 50% above). Cell phones have become more than just devices for carrying on conversations and organizing personal data. They have become Web surfing tools and social media organizers. These is something Blackberry did not keep up on and iPhone as well as other competitor has surpassed them on. Now, Rim is trying to get caught up and I think its too late. They should focus on being the choice for the business client with enterprise wide services. That is there niche and they have been very good at doing that. The personal Blackberry is fading and soon will be gone.

RIM made the Blackberry one of the first predominately used smart phones and because of that, they have huge market share. Unfortunately, they sat back on their laurels for too long without seeing the potential of the single-user. These single-users need a different set of tools than used by the business client and thus, will be switching to a phone that can provide that need.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Catch the Google Wave but Bring a Life Jacket

Here today, gone tomorrow. Google Wave, much touted as the next great real-time collaboration platform is gone. Introduced with great fanfare in May of 2009, it never caught on for a variety of reasons. Too much competition, too complicated and too narrow a scope, this latest jewel in the Google crown fell off earlier this week. Once again, Google releases a much hyped-product and then, for lack of use, pulls it off the shelf. Only one million user implemented the Wave which is considered low adoption in the world of cloud application. Compare this number to the tens of million who are using Google Buzz - a much less complicated product.

My beef with Google is, again, why are we the extreme beta tester for its products? Sure one million may not be a big  number in the realm of the Internet but what are those users going to do with their Wave-based collaboration projects? Google, in its attempt to organize the world's data, releases products in a hurry to see who will climb on board. If the wagon is not full - the users are sunk. Because their products are free, Google feels that it hold no responsibility to support affected users. Compare this to a recall on other types of consumer-products. Just ask Toyota.

In closing, I am at a distance learning conference in Madison, Wisconsin. When I received the program a few weeks ago, I was particularity interested in attending a session that discussed the academic uses of Google Wave. The session was scheduled for today. When I arrived at the room where the session is to be held, there was a sign posted on the door - "Session Canceled"

Before getting on a Google boat, be sure you are wearing a life jacket.