Sunday, September 19, 2010

The End of the Light Bulb

Transparentised version of Image:Gluehlampe 01...Image via WikipediaTechnology evolves. The abacus evolved to the super computer and the Wright Brothers flyer in to the jumbo carrier and the space shuttle. Technology reaches another ones of those important evolution milestones today. This one was comes after 140 years of very little change. In 1870, Thomas Edison found a way to make a long lasting filament within a glass encasement glow with light. Since that time, the light bulb has changed very little. Today's light bulb shape is about the same as it was in Edison's day but the filament last much longer. This week, the GE company closed the last of its plants making incandescent light bulbs.  Although the incandescent bulb was the reigning electric bulb across the world for close to century and a half, it is no longer the best technology in terms of energy consumption. To save energy, the incandescent bulb will be virtually outlawed within 4 years and will be replaced by compact fluorescents which consumes 75% less power. 

If Edison were alive today, he would not be able to identity a CD as the evolution of his phonograph but he would still be able to recognize the light bulb. I cannot think of another technology that lasted so long in its almost original form.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Is is a Phone? Is it a Tablet? No, it's Both!!

It is interesting to watch the cell phone and Internet tablet market. Cell phone have been around for many years and it has been fun to watch how the technology has improved, how the phone have gotten smaller and how the features have evolved. From the original Motorla "brick" released in 1973 to today's smart phone has been quite the evolution. And it seems that the evolution is reaching a point where these hand-held devices are so packed with features that the phone capabilities is a small component of the actual device. The ads often lists the features and you need to read the fine print to see any specs about the phone capabilities. Apple suffered the consequences of not focusing on the phone when they released the iPhone 4. Great toy but the phone was hard to use due to the antenna design.

Now with the introduction of the Internet tablets, the line between phone and computer is becoming narrower. Apple, once again, found that out the hard way when they did not have phone capbilities in their iPad. Of course people still bought them but were dissappointed with the lack of a phone and camera which seems to be the defacto standard for hand-held devices.
One player noticably missing from the mix is Microsoft. Bill Gates and company has been given much of the credit for the computer revolution but does not seem to embrace the cell phone market potential. Microsoft has never been innovators. Even their original software product, DOS, was a copy of CPM. They have tried serveral time to enter the market with dismal failure and a new attempt is on the horizon. MS is so far behind the leader, they will never catch up.

By the end of this year, the smart phone / Internet tablet market will be heating up. With iPad competitors on the horizon, MS in the market, RIM fighting to maintaining its smart phone lead, Apple releasing new devices and Nokia trying to maintain its cell phone market lead, it going to be a very interesting time for hand-held technologies.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

The Dangers of Social Networking

There has been much talk in the media lately about privacy issues with regards to social media but there are many other risks associated with this Internet phenomenon. There is no doubt that social media sites can be fun and are a great marketing tool but just as in real life, these sites attach those who would like to illegally profit or hurt users for their own gain or for misguided motives.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBaseWhat also seems to be emerging is a couple of stigma's associated with being a Facebook user. Two recent studies have found that students who use Facebook have lower grades than non-users. One study was performed by a psychologist at the Open University of the Netherlands found that Facebook users have 20% lower graders as compared to non-users. Another study at Ohio State University found similar results claiming that Facebook users have significantly lower grade then non-users. As with all research, I'm sure that there was some confounding variables in these studies and both make the statement that Facebook was probably not the direct cause of lower grades but the distraction of playing games, chatting with users and reading updates could have distracted students from their studies.

And then there's a study from the University of Toronto that found Facebook users to be narcissistic. The study examined 100 students and found a direct correlation between the amount of time someone spends on Facebook and how narcissistic he or she is. What the study was  unclear on is whether narcissistic people are more likely to use Facebook or if Facebook plants narcissism into their personalities. The study also found that many Facebook users have low self-esteem. What this indicated that Facebook users are not getting the attention they want in the real world so they turn to Facebook for acceptance. I hope some one does a similar study on Twitter and I'm sure that the narcissism scale would be through the roof for most Twitters.
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Location! Location! Location!

Location! Location! Location! So has been the cry of realtors when buying a house. It's all about the location. Now it seems that some people are using Internet technologies to identify their personal location. Location services have been around for a while with online services like FourSquare, Yelp, and Gbanga. Now with the addition of Facebook's Places, use of location-based social networking will escalate.  Therefore, not only will you be able to tell everyone on the Net everything about you, but now you will be able to indicate where you are, minute by minute. Some stores and other organization have used location-based services as a marketing tool. For example, go to your favourite coffee shop, register that you are having a coffee, repeat 4 more times and get a free beverage on your next visit. Sounds fun?

Here's my problems with location-based services. Now Internet dwellers will not only have a place to post stupid and insignificant 140 character thoughts online but they will also be able to tell us exactly where they are - like I care! The other problem fuels the privacy debate. Have you been watching the news lately? There is more stuff about social networkers available to the public than they may be aware of and now they are going to be telling everyone where they are going, hanging out and vacationing - in real time! Beside coffee shops taking advantage of knowing this, how about other less reputable organizations that would love to know how you spend your day and where you are - spammers and house thieves come to mind.

Big Brother 2000 (UK)George Orwell created Big Brother to watch and rule over the people of Oceania in his novel, 1984. In the society that Orwell describes, everyone is under complete surveillance by the authorities. The people are constantly reminded of this by the phrase "Big Brother is watching you". Sounds to me that Big Brother, (aka location services / social networking), is not forcing himself on netizens, rather netizens are voluntarily giving themselves into the folds of Facebookia.
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