Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

As many of us, both Alex and I were both chocked and very impressed when Apple announced their new iPhone. Sure, there have been rumors for quite some time, but the fact that Apple managed to keep this secret is quite amazing.

I was really impressed by the phone when I watched the keynote speech (online). This phone really does make all other phones look like they belong in the stone-age. Even my new Sony Ericsson P990 looks old in comparison with the iPhone.

Why is this phone so great?
To start with, it’s really good looking. But that’s not enough to make me impressed. What made me really impressed was the speed of the phone. If the iPhone that Steve Jobs was demoing during the keynote speech is the same phone as the ones that will be available in June it’s really cool. The performance of that phone was truly amazing. When he was showing photos, there was no delay or lag whatsoever. In addition to this, when he zoomed in and out of the photos there was no delay either. This means that this is one fast phone. My P990 is quite slow when I display photos, and the photo-software doesn’t even have any fading-feature.

The phone does not run a desktop-version of Mac OS X. Some people on Engadget‘s and Gizmodo‘s forum seems to think that it is running some full blown installation of OS X. Of course this is not the case. It’s probably running the BSD-kernel (like OS X), and then a OS X-like GUI, but I doubt that it’s the regular OS X. Sure, it probably inherited many components of OS X, but they were all rewritten to be more light-weight. I don’t have any proof of this, but I’d imagine that the version of OS X running on the iPhone probably is as similar to ‘Desktop OS X’ as Windows Mobile / Pocket PC is to Windows 2000/XP. Yes, that means that it’s probably easier to port an OS X application to the iPhone than it would have been to rewrite the application for a brand new OS. However, don’t think you can run Photoshop CS2 on you iPhone. That will be like trying to install Photoshop for Windows on a Windows Mobile-phone.

Even though it’s not running a full installation of OS X it still has great potential. To start out with, the BSD-kernel is a far more stable and a more well-written kernel than the one used in Windows and Windows Mobile, which creates a solid foundation. I mean, a chain is never stronger then its weakest link, and that’s why it doesn’t matter how great programmer you are when developing an application. If the operating system that your software will be running on is unstable, you’re out of luck and there’s little you can do about it.

I can imagine that Apple identified a big market opportunity after Palm almost gave up on their Palm OS and started shipping their devices with Windows Mobile. That meant that the only two ‘serious’ competitors were Microsoft and Symbian for the mobile-market. Since Apple sure knows Microsoft’s weaknesses from before, the only remaining threat would be Symbian (which is used by Nokia and SonyEricsson). Personally I prefer Symbian over Windows Mobile/Pocket PC, but both Series 60 (used by Nokia), and UIQ2/3 (used by SonyEricsson) are really not that sophisticated. I’d imagine that both Series 60 and UIQ are far more memory efficient than Windows Mobile, but it falls short when it comes to usability and multitasking. This is where the BSD-kernel and OS X Mobile will beat their competitors by far.

There’s one thing I’m not sure if I consider good or bad, and that’s the lack of keyboard. Sure, you can use the space where the keyboard is more efficiently, and yes, as Steve pointed out, a keyboard is static, and software is not. However, I don’t know how convenient it is to type on an on screen keyboard. Maybe it’s something we’ll get used to, but I never use the on-screen keyboard on my P990, simply because I don’t like it.

What are the drawbacks?
There is no product on the market without any drawbacks. Of course, the iPhone has a couple of drawbacks as well. First out is the lack of office software. I’m not requesting Microsoft Office in the iPhone, but maybe a mobile version of iWork (with Keynote and Pages) and some spreadsheet software. This is something that is required if the iPhone wants to gain market share from the serious mobile business-users.

The next drawback would be the lack of 3rd party software. This, of course is probably something that will be solved quite quickly as soon as the phone hits the market, but at this point the amount of software for Windows Mobile, Palm OS and Symbian gives them an advantage here. The iPhone comes with a lot of good softwares, but a GPS software would be great (that connects to a GPS-bluetooth device).

The price of the iPhone is a bit high. Sure, I’ll probably buy it anyhow, but $599 for the 8Gb version with a 2 year plan is a bit too much. Most smartphones are available for just a bit more than that without a plan.

Another drawback is a minor one, but it’s obvious that the phone is not ready yet. Sure, Steve demoed it on stage, but they didn’t have any available for demoing at the show. They had a couple of phones running behind glass, but no one could try them out. I interpret this as the phone simply not being ready yet and/or that it’s not stable enough. Well, it won’t be released until June you say. Yes, but if they want this phone to be available in June they need to start manufacturing them soon, and they can’t start manufacturing them until they’re ready (they can patch them later, but not fix the hardware on thousands of phones).

No VoIP software is a disappointment. This is probably something that Apple is working on right now. I guess that they will write a mobile-version of iChat, and offer VoIP thought their services. However, I’d rather see a mobile version of Skype of Gizmo Project (which I guess will see shortly after the phone will be released).

Why I want the iPhone
It’s everything I need in a phone. Lately I’ve stopped carrying my iPod around, and started using my phone as an mp3-player. Right now I only got a 512Mb card in it, but I’m was planning to buy a 4Gb one. To combine a phone and mp3-player makes sense. Why carry two devices when you only need to carry around one?

Also, it’s got WiFi (my P990 does too), and I believe (as I wrote above) that we will see several VoIP softwares soon. Then why would I pay for expensive cellphone-plans when we have WiFi-connection almost everywhere we go? Imagine being able to call Europe for free from your cellphone.

UPDATE: Another proof of that the iPhone runs a different version of OS X is the fact that it runs on a Samsung-processor, and not a Motorola or Intel CPU as the regular macs.

Author: Tags: ,
Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

There are some major drawbacks with today’s laptops. Some of these bothers me a lot. Battery life is one of these things. I know there are some Sony laptops out there with 6 hours or so of battery life, but I only get about 2 on my PowerBook.
Weight is another thing that really bothers me. No matter if you’re a student or a business guy who carries around you laptop in you all day, you know how annoying the weight of a laptop is.
In this article I will explore the future of mobile computing the way I predict it. There are no scientific evidence behind my predictions, this is just my thoughts and ideas.

As I already mentioned, one major drawback with today’s portable computers is the battery-life. Why can’t they make computers with 24 hours of battery life? There are several reasons for this, one major reason is because of weight. I guess it would be no problem creating a laptop with today’s technology with 24 hours of battery life. Just hook up a couple of UPSes to you laptop and you’re set. However, It would probably not be very portable, since the weight of the laptop would turn it more into a huge server rather than a portable laptop. Let’s explore this for a while. What can we do to change this? As I see it, there are a couple ways we can achieve this (which can possible be combined for higher efficiency).

More efficient CPUs. Developing new CPUs with lower power usage is a given one that the CPU manufactures are constantly working on. However, I would also suggest that we lower the performance and focus more on batter-life. I’ll get back to why I think this later on in this article.

Switch away from traditional hard drives. One component in the computer that uses up quite a bit of power is the standard hard drive (which is a 2.5″ hard drive in most (all?) laptops). Do we really need to go for this approach? Why can’t we use a small flash-drives for hard-drive? Flash-drives are far more power-efficient than regular hard drives, and they are also far less sensitive to damage since they have no moving parts. In addition to this they can also access the data quicker. The downside is that the price per megabyte is really high for this kind of storage, but I’ll come back to how we will solve this later on.

Batteries with higher capacity. This is a field that is being researched a lot these days. Fuel-cell batteries seems to be something that will change the battery-world quite a bit of they now manage to make these stable and less dangerous. The question remains if they ever will be allowed on board a commercial jet in the post 9/11 era.

Now we’ve dealt with the internal part of the computer for a bit and how we can make those more power efficient, now let’s move on to the features that the laptop of feature will offer.

Touch-screen. I know, this is fairly common today, but I think we just seen the beginning of this trend. Let’s say you have a ultra-portable laptop with great battery life, wouldn’t this make a perfect e-book reader? You just flip and twist you monitor and you have a perfect book. You can read, high-light and make comments right there on the screen. No more carrying books around, you have it all in your laptop.

Wireless Gigabit network. In the post 802.11n era, I think we will start seeing country-wide networks that are freely available to the public. Google WiFi is just the start, Hight speed Internet connection will be taken for granted as we look at water and air today. Sure, there will be plenty of companies who will be lobbying against this (such as T-mobile etc), due to their own interests, but they will eventually realize that they’ve lost the war.

Biometric authorization. I’m still not sure which of the biometric methods that is the better one, but I’m sure we will see more of biometric authorization in the future.

Now lets sum up what I’ve written so far and think about it for a second. We now have an ultra-portable laptop with a slow CPU, a small hard drive, but a battery life of 24+ hours. However, we also have a Gigabit Internet connection available wherever we go, so what can we do with this? Well, a lot I’d say. Why do we need a big local hard drive if we always have a high speed Internet connection available? We don’t. Some of you might start to see where I’m going. Remember back in the days when we used those terminal-computers? Everything we ever needed was located on the server. I like that idea. Seriously, it’s brilliant. How many of you guys have ever dropped or lost your laptop? How much data was lost when that happened?

Thin-clients such as Citrix offers similar solutions today, but they tend to be very slow, and they only work (as far as I know) with desktop solutions (except for the client software).
If you have a hight speed Internet connection wherever you go, why do you ever need to store any data or do any calculations on you local computer?

Instead of booting up you laptop you operating system, you have a small loader on your flash-drive or in your BIOS that initiates the network card, create a secured tunnel to your company’s server and connects to a terminal window. In the terminal you have all you data accessible, always available from whichever of you terminals you connect. No more worries about taking backups of all your data on a regular basis, the server takes care of that for you.
In addition to that you don’t need to worry about sensitive data. Even if you loose your computer, all your data is located on the server anyway, and since they need you biometric authorization to access the data, the client is useless to them. Yey! no more laptop thefts.
Now when we’re connected to our super-fast server, why do we need a fast CPU on our laptop? We don’t, since all calculations will be done on the server anyways.

So when will this be possible you might wonder. It’s actually not that distance, everything except for the Gigabit WiFi would be possible with today’s technology.

Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
Comments Off
Category: Other

As you might have noticed, the flow of articles has decreased here at PWW. No, we didn’t give up on you guys, we’re still thinking about you.

The reason for the lower flow is because both Alex and I are out traveling to visit family for the Christmas. We want to write more, but people tend to get upset when you travel around the world to see them, and end up sitting in front of the computer when you get there.

Even though we don’t get as much work done as we want, we still get some work done. Right now I’m sitting at a coffee-house in Gothenburg, Sweden, waiting for Alex to arrive so we can work together for a couple of hours.

Author: Tags:
Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

A couple of months ago we wrote that Google’s Searchmash was secretly experimenting with the real next thing in search. Today I noticed that a service similar to what I described in that article has already popped up: Yoople. Here’s what they write:

At Yoople! Project we believe that Web Searches are quite good, but not as smart as a human brain could do. As today we are forced to accept the order given by search engines and click the results as they are, unfortunately this does not mean the human searcher agrees with the returned results index. Moreover clicking a result does not mean the website contains the contents we were looking for.

This is essentially true. No matter how good a machine is at sorting search results and removing spam, it will always be just a machine. It cannot possibly know what people wish should be their top result without in some way actually asking the user. Google tries to work around this limitation by assuming that web pages linking to other web pages constitute ‘the people’s voice’ so to speak and that a link to a web page within a certain category is a vote for bringing that page up to the top of search results for that particular category. This is a sensible approach but it is not perfect. A limited amount of links is one problem. It is also not necessarily the case that the most relevant page has the most links to it: consider spam sites or sites that just get a lot of links in general and therefore rank better even for irrelevant searches.

The people voting ranking algorithm does have a couple of flaws though. Once again the most important one is spam. First of all it’s hard to verify that users are humans. If a user had to fill out a captcha thing every single time they want to rearrange some search results it would get old really quickly. And what’s worse: even if there was a good way to verify that the voter really was a human, how would you be able to verify his intentions? Maybe he’s just a guy paid to vote up search results by some company. Imagine Paypal asking their telemarketing section to take a day off their schedule just to go and vote away Paypal Sucks from the major search engines. It wouldn’t cost them much and it’d almost certainly succeed. A great investment of their money and time.

It is not unlikely that this is something we will see more and more off. Realizing the immense power of sites like Digg, marketing companies will start paying little groups of people to get articles on the front page. Imagine if you’re a technology company and you’d normally pay 15 cents per visitor through normal banner advertising or what have you. You could instead give 50 people $10 each and get 15,000 visitors from Digg. It’s cheaper and comes with all the attached buzz. As we move towards people controlled search engines this will definitely become a problem there too: 50 people voting a website up to the top will have a huge impact for most search terms since it is unlikely that most legitimate users will vote at all.

None the less, the way forward is to allow people to reorder their results and to delete spam results. It’s the only way to really teach search engines what us humans actually want. There are problems along the way but there will be solutions.

Author: Tags:
Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

In a recent writeup, BBC News covers a study by Lancaster University’s Professor Tony McEnery. It was also covered by Ars Technica, who put some attention grabbing spin on it by titling their article “Are iPods shrinking the British vocabulary?”

What the quoted study claims is that an excessive focus on technology is turning teenagers into passive listeners without ability to express themselves in spoken language.

Playing With Wire are today publishing an even more shocking study: both BBC News and Ars Technica are going down the same path as these teenagers. A word analysis of the BBC News article cited above reveals that a full 16% of the words in the article are common words such as ‘of’ and ‘in’.

A pie chart showing 16% of the BBC News article as being 'the, of, and, to or in'.
Break-down of the words used in the BBC article. The most common words are used 68 times in an article of only 419 words.

The Ars Technica article also fails to impress in the vocabulary department. 54 of the 301 words in the article are extremely common and simple words. Just like in the BBC News article, the word ‘of’ is used to express a large part of the content.

A pie chart showing 18% of the Ars Technica article as being 'the, of, and, to, a or is'.
Break-down of the words used in the Ars Technica article. Very common words are used 54 times in this short 301 word article.

Our analysis here at Playing With Wire indicates that since both the Ars Technica and the BBC News articles are published online, there is an excessive reliance on technology. An almost machine like approach to creating articles results in this bleak lack of imaginative word usage.

We absolutely do not think unification of the English language occurs online to reach the widest possible audience. In fact this ubiquitous unsophisticated locution employment has us flabbergasted. It’s stupefying.

Author: Tags:

© 2006-2009 WireLoad, LLC.
Logo photo by William Picard. Theme based on BlueMod © 2005 - 2009, based on blueblog_DE by Oliver Wunder.