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Apple, Again, Creates a Market Out of Nothing. And It’s Massive

Having recently (finally) bought a pair of big chunky Bluetooth headphones, thinking they were so commonplace I wouldn’t get any weird looks, I now realise that once again I’m at the wrong end of a trend curve. People are staring at me — and not for my rugged visage. I’m the oddity: everyone else is sporting wireless earphones, the Apple AirPods variety (although I suspect quite a few of them are the cheap knockoffs which are indistinguishable in look and a tenth the price.) Reality bites: what once looked a bit weird — massive headphones — looks weird again, and what looked even weirder —Continue readingApple, Again, Creates a Market Out of Nothing. And It’s Massive

Smartwatches: Coming Soon to a Cosmos Near You

This is a column I did for the BBC World Service, broadcast this week.  There’s been a lot of talk that the big boys — by which I mean Apple and Samsung — are about to launch so-called smart watches. But how smart does a watch have to be before we start strapping them to our wrists in numbers to make a difference? First off, a confession. I’ve strapped a few things to my wrist in my time. Back in the 80s and 90s I used to love the Casio calculator watch called the Databank, though I can’t actually recall ever doing a calculation onContinue readingSmartwatches: Coming Soon to a Cosmos Near You

The Tablet is the Computer

One thing discussed often and at great length in nerdy circles these days is this: Is the tablet—by which we really mean the Apple iPad, because it created the market, and presently accounts for nearly two thirds of it—a computer. A PC, if you will? Some say that the iPad is not really a computer. It has no keyboard. People don’t sit at desks to use it. It lacks the horsepower of most of today’s computers. So they think it’s a big smartphone. I think they are wrong. They misunderstand what is happening. This is not hard to see in action. Wandering around an airportContinue readingThe Tablet is the Computer

Dragon Tattoo: Mac or Vaio?

Some folk have suggested that because Sony is behind the new version of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo all the product placements are Vaio: This would be a slap in the face of the original novel and the Swedish version, which stuck pretty closely to the text. But I’m not sure. Here’s another picture from a Guardian piece: which looks pretty Apple-ish to me.

Quaintness in Salt Lake

(This is the script for a piece I did for the BBC World Service. Posted here by request. Podcast here.) Something rather quaint is going on in a Salt Lake City courtroom. A company called Novell, who you’d be forgiven for not having heard of, is suing Microsoft over a product called WordPerfect, which you also may not have heard of, which it says was hobbled from running on something called Windows 95 to protect its own product, called Microsoft Word. To be honest, you don’t need to know the ins and outs of this Microsoft law suit; nor do you really need to knowContinue readingQuaintness in Salt Lake

The Fate of New Acquisitions: Whither or Wither?

By Jeremy Wagstaff I’m writing this on a Windows PC using a great piece of Microsoft software called Windows Live Writer. And that’s only part of the problem. As you no doubt know, Microsoft have announced they bought Skype, the Internet telephony company, for $8.5 billion. You’ll have to look under a lot of stones to find someone who thinks this is a good deal for Microsoft. Skype made $20 million last year on revenue of $860 million, posting a net loss of $69 million because of interest expenses. In short, this is not a company about to fill Microsoft’s coffers with dosh. Whenever aContinue readingThe Fate of New Acquisitions: Whither or Wither?

A Call for Diminished Reality

(a copy of my weekly syndicated column. Podcast from the BBC here.) By Jeremy Wagstaff I was walking the infant the other day, when I saw a vision of my future.  A mother and father, out with their son and dog.  The mother sat on a park bench, dog sitting obediently at her feet as she flicked absent-mindedly at her iPhone. In the playground, the boy wove his way through a tunnel, across some ropes, down a slide–the father nearby, lost in his own iPhone. Occasionally he would waken from his 3G trance and, without looking up, point the phone at his son as ifContinue readingA Call for Diminished Reality

A Call for Diminished Reality

By Jeremy Wagstaff I was walking the infant the other day, when I saw a vision of my future.  A mother and father, out with their son and dog.  The mother sat on a park bench, dog sitting obediently at her feet as she flicked absent-mindedly at her iPhone. In the playground, the boy wove his way through a tunnel, across some ropes, down a slide–the father nearby, lost in his own iPhone. Occasionally he would waken from his 3G trance and, without looking up, point the phone at his son as if scanning him for radiation.  The resulting photo probably went straight to hisContinue readingA Call for Diminished Reality

How Long Was the iPhone Location Vulnerability Known?

I’m very intrigued by the Guardian’s piece iPhone keeps record of everywhere you go | Technology | guardian.co.uk but I’m wondering how new this information is, and whether other less transparent folk have already been using this gaping hole. Charles Arthur writes: Security researchers have discovered that Apple‘s iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner’s computer when the two are synchronised. The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone’s recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computerContinue readingHow Long Was the iPhone Location Vulnerability Known?

Afghanistan’s TV Phone Users Offer a Lesson

By Jeremy Wagstaff There’s something I notice amid all the dust, drudgery and danger of Kabul life: the cellphone TVs. No guard booth—and there are lots of them—is complete without a little cellphone sitting on its side, pumping out some surprisingly clear picture of a TV show. This evening at one hostelry the guard, AK-47 absent-mindedly askew on the bench, had plugged his into a TV. I don’t know why. Maybe the phone gave better reception. All I know is that guys who a couple of years ago had no means of communication now have a computer in their hand. Not only that, it’s aContinue readingAfghanistan’s TV Phone Users Offer a Lesson

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