Sips from the Firehose
A blog that seeks to filter the internet into a refreshing, easily-gulped beverage


Oct 18

JetPack: the Always-Open University Library that Fits in Your Pocket

Posted: under Design.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

…but without the annoying biology grad student who is using himself as a human guinea pig to see if it’s possible to survive for 3 months on a diet of only beer, vitamin pills and broccoli florets. 

the website for jetpack

The switchover to all-digital textbooks is happening faster than predicted. I'm not too sure about reading an entire text on a smartphone screen, but for in-between class cramming, or getting instant updates to course material, it's not a bad choice.

I’d love to say that this is it, we’ve found the perfect replacement for textbooks, but from what I can see here, this is still a very limited solution. They are also trying to accomplish something that is unbelievably complex. I know, because we’ve been trying to do the same thing: come up with a way to create once-publish many.

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Jul 01

Sweet Mother of FSM, Google+ Is Smart!

Posted: under Design, Digital Migration, google.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In less than five minutes, I responded to an invitation (that is probably still in pretty high demand) and signed up for Google+.

Being able to add people to the circles is an absolutely frickin’ brilliant move! The little animations are absolutely killer. I have been wanting this and talking about this and boring the living shit out of my tech-dw33b friends about how the one big problem STILL with social media is that it’s damn near and all-or-nothing game.

No longer. Someone at Google “got it,” and this is a killer feature that Facebook DOES NOT HAVE.

Also: Google+ aggregates my information from all manner of sources, so I don’t have to go through that goddam tiresome “OK, let’s fill in all the blanks on this profile page yet again … wait, what? … it timed out? (long cursing session)”

Check out the screen cap below – this is after only a few minutes of cursory work:

dave lafontaine profile on google plus
All this got added to my profile automatically. It borders on the creepy … except for the fact that I wrote and posted all this info about myself in the first place, and I approve of it and can tell instantly where it came from. Also note on the right-hand side: all the various places where I have established a social profile, all aggregated in the same place.

I kinda disagree with this post on AllFacebook, where they focus in on how Google has made it “compulsory” to be part of Google+, and that the key to all this is “time on site.”

While tech pundits are widely praising Google’s new Plus product, I’ve found the one feature that could take away from Facebook where it’s most dominant: Time on the site.

Facebook users are known for staying on the site for over half an hour a day, something no other site could compete with… until now.

To be honest, my gut reaction after using Google Plus was initially, “Why on earth would anybody switch to this from Facebook?”

However, when I loaded up Google Finance as I do every morning, I suddenly realized that I was asking the wrong question. The reality is that users won’t have the option of not using Google Plus.

However, later on, they kinda stumble into something interesting, that’s also come up recently in the kerfuffle over the “Open Letters to RIM” — that is, that tech companies are starting to realize that what will really make them successful, is making it easy for developers & propellorhead-types like, well, us … to come and play in their sandbox.

Add to that this very insightful dissection of what was at the core of MySpace imploding – the same thing at work, i.e. pissing on indie developers — and you start to see something fascinating emerging in corporate thinking … for those intelligent enough to read the tea leaves (or Cheeto crumbs, if you will).

 

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Sep 15

Google Android Store: the Mobile Goldrush is Coming…

Posted: under Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It's going to be interesting to see if the upcoming mobile phone platform/application war & shakeout will be a repeat of the Apple vs. IBM, or Mac OS vs. Windows wars of the early 80s and early 90s … ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny and all that, you know…

Apple has done a tremendous job breaking ground in this area, popularizing the technology with great hardware that works … well mostly worksthey have put tons of effort into conceptualizing and designing the interface, and Google android storecreating the paradigm that people actually want to use.
…and now that they've done the heavy lifting, along comes the more open-source competitor, flinging open the doors of innovation and competition to take the tidy Apple walled garden and turn it into, well, pretty much what the landscape of PC-based applications has looked like for the past 28 years or so.  A loud, rude, complicated, chaotic landscape where everything is much cheaper, does kewl new things that businesses/people need to have in their lives, and that you have to be half-systems engineer yourself to keep all your various hardware & software all playing nicely together.

To stretch the "walled garden" metaphor a little, the IBM-PC space, rather than a tidy garden, more resembles a giant sandbox full of toddlers on meth. Only they're NFL lineman-size. With power tools.
 
If the past is to be our guide, the Android and Blueprint somewhat open-source projects are going to start off behind Apple, biting off what Apple does.  And the developers will be relentless.  And the hardware manufacturers will churn out warehouses full of cheap, buggy handsets to run all this on.

And they will gradually erode Apple's lead in the smartphone/app space.

Anyway, here's some interesting quotes from MSNBC:

While Android is an operating system, it is
also an open-source system similar to Linux, upon which it is based.
That’s creating a lot of excitement and interest in the kind of
programs that will be available for users, including one that can track
family members’ whereabouts in an emergency to another that offers a
short cooking video, followed by information on nearby grocery stores
that carry the ingredients needed for the recipe.

Since
its inception, Android has been tweaked and built upon freely by
developers, device designers and wireless carriers who have had
complete access to Android’s Software Developer Kit. Basically, Android
is whatever users and developers want it to be.

That’s
in contrast to Apple’s approach with the iPhone. Nine months ago, Apple
created a Software Developer Kit offering application makers the same
interface and tools Apple uses to develop iPhone software.

But Apple has closely regulated and monitored every program that is being offered through the company’s online App Store.

Android
will “create a new, attractive environment to foster innovation and
make it easier to bring new ideas to market, ultimately ensuring
consumers a richer, more personalized mobile experience,”

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