Friday, November 22, 2013

Lessons from Tragedies...

The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Recollections & Relevance to today... Like so many, I remember where I was the moment I heard the news that President Kennedy was shot and killed. Far right row, third seat, Mr. John Glenwright's Fifth Grade Class, Oakland School, Bloomington, Illinois. What happened immediately after has remained with me for fifty years. When Mr. Glenwright made his solemn announcement, I heard myself say "Yay!" loudly amidst the other children reacting with gasps and reactions of surprise and shock. Knowing that I, as a fifth grader, especially one in the days of much more limited news exposure and less political awareness of the early 1960s, would not have formulated such a vocal opinion in a vacuum but was, rather, the product of influence by adults who may have been vehemently opposed to the President, Mr. Glenwright did not miss a BEAT in quietly responding, not to me, but to the class, by saying so kindly and wisely, "Class, we may not agree with our President and his political policies but we must remember that he is a man, just like I am a man, and that he is a husband and that he is a father, just like your fathers. He loved his children just like your fathers love you and now that someone has killed him, he will be missed very much by his children." At that moment, I wanted to crawl under my desk in shame. My world changed. I saw through hateful rhetoric's false mask and realized the person who railed angrily against the President was acting in fear, not fact and, although I loved that person dearly, I needed to test such virulence with the litmus test of the patient love I heard coming from this remarkable teacher. Today, we are being torn apart by such virulence...such hatred...such false vocal debasement of our leaders. Yes, they will certainly stray from our wishes, but do we not owe them the same simple understanding I learned fifty years ago? We can express our displeasure in civil ways such as communicating directly with them and other leaders, with blogs, posts, letters to the Editors and, ultimately at the ballot box. But, we must remain civil...we must not wish them harm...if we treat them with a kind remembrance that they are men and women just like us, that they are mothers and fathers, that they are sisters and brothers, I believe they just might feel and enact policy for us as if we were family, not voters. Rest in Peace, John F. Kennedy and thank you John Glenwright.

Friday, September 06, 2013

He'll be OK.

My friend's wife will soon be gone. Cancer. He told me he was sure she was in God's hands. That she'd be OK. He had a dream about it. But he came to the conclusion that if he wanted to find any lasting peace he would have to do two things. The first was to forgive God and everyone he knew for the things he thought they had done to him and develop a new sense of gratitude for everything including simple blessings like food,  shelter and health etc.  Hot and Cold running water (that's safe to drink). A sunny day.. Life. And the second thing was to help those who are not so fortunate. He started volunteering at a  homeless shelter and has been delivering meals on wheels... This has changed his life.  "I thought my purpose was my family and my work and now I realize it is not.  I used to write checks to charity and now I give my time." He will be OK..

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Next Generation Touch Screen Chromebook

I was editing the post below about wanting to get a Chromebook when they were made better and then this showed up on YouTube.. Gotta love it (if it's real). 

I Want a Chromebook... Not Just any Chromebook. Google? Please listen.

I like Google stuff for lots of good reasons. Been on a run here at the Treehouse. Dual-Auth. gMail. Calendar. Chrome (aka the browser that is really fast and syncs everything), Drive, Android, Picasa. Latitude. Blogger.. And I really want a Chromebook. Was at Best Buy in Salinas a couple of weekends back... I was trading. Selling them our used iPhones for more than I paid for them new... walked away with a nice credit and the smart guy who did me right pointed out that I "needed"  a Chromebook. They had just come in "for the 2nd time" and "won't last 2 hours"... Hmmm... I like that sorta stuff... Google had a rep there too... OK. Let's put in my credentials and see what this thing will do.. It was good. Snappy. Even on BestBuy's wi-fi (Hint to retailers: follow Apple's lead and put 2 high speed wi-fi's with YOUR name on them for everyone anywhere near your store to use. Really!). But the Samsung machine sucks... and I mean really sucks... It's cheap feeling. It's really cheap looking. Has absolutely no style whatsoever.. The Acer version looks better but a spinning hard drive? In 2013? No way. I started buying SSD drives in laptops years ago (I'll send you a picture to prove it-have a dell studio xps with a sweet ssd drive in it. Paid a premium for it)... I like to run silent. But enough with the set-up. Here's what I want... a widescreen 13 or 14 inch display (12" would be ok)... retina equivalent display (whatever "retina" means now for a laptop this size). Simple. The screen should look Great and the laptop needs to be something like a MacBook Air. Or one of the many great clones from Samsung, Asus or Acer that have come out in the last year. I want to get two days without a charge. I'll settle for one. Eight hours? Needs LTE and Wi-Fi of course... Ethernet not required. 3.0 usb ports and hdmi. Expansion port. Back-lit keyboard that is the best in the business... a big touchpad. Wish-list will continue..
iPads are cool, but useless without a keyboard. Whatever you use as your traveling machine it needs to last. Last longer than a flight across the country. If you get a message that needs a response while your driving from the airport to downtown, what do you do? I know. Use your phone... but the point is, we need better design and better batteries. Apple has forced the industry to pay attention to design. Thank You. 
We have iPads.. they get used. We use our laptops a lot more though and Google Drive and Office 360 is the future of document management. Google and Android manage Photos better than Apple... Apple's web services are poor.  And Apple is not the only company that makes a beautiful computer anymore. Google programs are looking much better than they ever did. Especially on iOS.  Give us a sweet looking (touch-screen?) Chromebook at $600. With good specs and  a battery that can last and puts the iPad and MacBook Air on the bench... Google, please do this. HP and Lenovo have introduced Chromebooks... HP? Their printers don't last and every laptop I've bought from them crashed and burned. I went through 3 of them in one year including a super expensive, beautiful but slow pos that was fried by cosmic rays in an airport or on a plane. Part of the deal with this machine was that HP would come to wherever you were and replace it after they moved your files onto a new machine. They NEVER showed up... Never. We signed an exclusive contract with these guys. Bought nearly 2000 machines and had to switch vendors because their service and durability was so poor. Think Google has the right vendors in Acer and Samsung, but the current machines need a Big upgrade. Please.

PS  No sooner was I just about ready to publish this and along came the Pixel. Is it for real?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Never Thought I'd see the Day.. My Main Phone is an Android

Have read a few of these posts lately.. a simple search will pull them up. Try: Android has left iOS behind. I've switched from iPhone to Android. Thinking different? You're using Android, says the Guru. Hardware matters and the specs are what they are, but specs are only part of the story. That's a good thing for Apple, cause the specs on this Android phone I've switched to are untouchable today. 1080p. 1.5 Quad-core, 2 Gigs of RAM...etc. etc. OK. Specs are never the whole story. Onward.
I have been using the iPhone for years... it finally knocked a Blackberry out of my pocket for good around the time the 3G was introduced and I got the latest iPhone 5 the day it was available (1/2hr wait at the local Verizon store). Love it (used the 4 and 4s and loved them too)... Love 'em still. In fairness, the 3G didn't "sell" me. My friends referred to it as the "iphoney" adding, "any real businessman has a Blackberry". Right! The iPhone had apps and did everything  the Blackberry did and  RIMM/Blackberry ignored the beauty and simplicity of the iPhone and it's app ecosystem. 
I was chatting recently with a technology (and car) loving CTO from England who shares a deep respect for the excitement  trails the tribulations  of Formula 1 racing with me. We communicate through the racing season as the  spirit moves us. When we met we were fanboys. I remember when he went to Android.. He's a Nexus guy now for his good reasons and wrote me a nice explanation of why after I asked him if he owned anything apple now.. We both have Apple TVs and laptop's...  no more iPad for him.. He has a Nexus 7 which is the "perfect device to sit in front of the TV with". He was looking forward to getting a Nexus 4  but there is a technical problem that even the best technologists have very little defense/strategy for and that's sales forecasting as best I can tell.. I assume you know that story too and again, a search will reveal all the ins and outs of LG vs Google as it applies to the availability of the Nexus 4. So I heard the pitch and my friend knows I tried a couple of Samsung Android phones 3 years ago. A lot has changed. Then Android showed promise but was not integrated and developed like it is today. Then there was no Google Now (how great is Google Now? It can give you info so you can redirect your commute based on traffic, handle the ticketing for most flights, along with keeping up with many things that matter to you before you think about them..). 3 years ago you still had to do things over and over like you do on iPhone. Android wasn't intuitive like it is now. Then Android was trying to catch iOS... man how things have really changed. Chrome sync's with all other devices using it (simple) and it's fast and easy, but the Google/Android integration is now no less than (sorry Steve) magical. Put your credentials in ONCE (you are using dual auth right?) and within seconds  gMail, Tasks, Google Voice, Calendar and your inflated (thanks to Google +) contacts list are all there ready for you to arrange  anyway you like... with widgets and apps (yeah the developers still work on the iOS apps first it seems and some are a bit cleaner on iPhone. So what?)...  They are all here... Weather and Surf apps. Evernote, Waze, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, Instagram, Pulse, Flipboard... you get the picture. ScoreMobile.. and Maps... Yup.. do that search if you haven't heard enough about Maps and Apple (what the hell were they thinking?). And that's the point... Googlers have really used Android. A Lot! And it shows.. things are faster and more intuitive. Lots of folks have talked about the sharing capabilities (a long list and you enter credentials once for nearly ALL programs) and other capabilities. All good and Android has a few tech celebrity endorsers claiming a new mobile dawn has arrived. But here's the Ace for me. For years I carried a Walkman and a cell phone. Then an iPod and a cell phone and I hoped for one device that would do it all... it came.... But this Android phone is an HTC.. it has Beats Audio.  I have good ears... I grew up listening to and then playing music. I know what sounds good... digital compression is lousy but portability wins while lossless helps the quality. I loaded doubleTwist  and sync'd up (wirelessly!  The cliche of our time is there is an app for that right?) Went for a drive.. first I sync'd the new Phone with the car and then I heard things in the music I only hear on the made for a desert island system that powers up the Man Cave. The system that cost the same as the nice Automobile. As I understand it, Beats uses a "2.5 volt Headset Amp for bigger and better sound". It works... It Works Great... connected over Bluetooth in the car of all things... Do I really care how it works? It sounds absolutely great. I love it. 
I'm all in with Google. The best reasons are security through dual auth, simple design and functionality... not always pretty but getting better all the time.... I really like this new phone and when I pick up the iPhone it seems small and cumbersome somehow.. no longer elegant (it is I know..but not as much). I have to provide the same information again and again to apps. It is NOT different. It's tired. No NFC. No going in and saying "yes" to updates for all apps when they are available (automatic for the people on Android. Just check the box and be done with it). My only complaint is that somehow the carrier (Verizon in this case) has conspired with the phone manufacturers to delay the distribution of the latest OS.. for security reasons? I don't know. Time for another search perhaps. I like to understand these things. This is why my friend Marc loves the Nexus... everything including Android is up to date. We have LTE here.. 25 Mbps on the phone is where it's at.... even put the Verizon Home Fusion Broadband in to use occasionally with the old ATT DSL at 6 Mbps. I still use the iPhone of course... Waze renders better (they'll fix that) and the Apple Remote app controls a lot of the media streaming we do here at the Treehouse. But I'm sold. It's like mobile has been reinvented. Out with the Old and in with the New.
The Phone? Its an HTC Droid DNA. Bought it from Amazon. Got a great deal...  Here's the link: 

Apple just announced earnings and at this point in time their stock is down about $25 after-hours having peaked at just over $700 a few months ago. It will likely be more than $200 a share less tomorrow. Join the revolution. Time for Apple to listen to some of it's old marketing. Or maybe Steve Jobs just cannot be replaced.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

From iPhone to ... Android? Windows Phone? It's the Browser.

This instantly reminds me of the Mac vs PC flame wars in the forums on Engadget or Verge or Gizmodo(!). What do you use?  Have an opinion? Today I have an old Dell laptop running Ubuntu. A year old mbp running OSX. An xps laptop running Windows 8 and a big custom, multiscreen powerhouse of a desktop that is happily doing business on the web running Windows 8. I had no problems installing it and running it is great. I discover new, useful capabilities almost everyday. Highly recommended. But, here's the deal. Having got on-line in the early/mid 90's on a dial up 4800 connection with HookedNet, Compuserve, Newsgroups, mosaic etc. the browser has been and remains the critical piece of my digital life. Apps are getting close, but it was about the time that I knew everything except our music (3 servers. nearly 400 Gigs of mostly lossless stuff) would be moving online that the browser became the most critical app/program I used. I spent at least a year using Opera and 5+ with Firefox and have come to the conclusion that across multiple machines Chrome does the best job of syncing things up. Along with being super fast, I now know it well. When the iPhone 4s came out, I loved that device so much I tried to use Safari to keeps things "together" and it just never worked out right. So without getting into a whole endless discussion about this platform and that handset, I want to be able to move as seamlessly as possible from desktop to tablet to iPhone/Android/WinPhone. Chrome will help me get closer to my ideal. It's my answer. I have thought about a Windows Phone. Does it run Chrome? A rep in an ATT store today told me they are selling a lot of Lumina's and 'Droids. "No one cares about specs and customers are "tired" of the same old iPhone". Is he right? Another opinion. Windows Phone? The price is right. Are the apps there (yet)?. I would never count Microsoft out. They have resources as a friend likes to repeat over and over again. And the enterprise uses Office. There are synergies. Mark Cuban recently said the new Lumina "crushes iPhone. Not even close"  Every CTO I know except one is "on Android" and wouldn't think of going back to iPhone or (in one case) Blackberry. Kevin Rose tweeted he is now "100% Android". Kawasaki thinks differently as  Really? And then there is Music. "A Phone, an Internet device and an iPod" Who said that?... Remember that day? Steve's crowning achievement  Here's the big surprise according to my testing.. Beats Audio on the HTC Droid DNA... best sounding digital music these old, tuned musician ears have heard yet.. Hope Neil Young is reading (is Pono gonna happen?)... give a listen... Doubletwist is the app I used.. sounded great. All the specs lead to a great experience. 1080p screen is spectacular. Now about that keyboard...Chrome is the browser.. gMail, Drive.. Android. Is it waterproof?  maybe the new Sony..