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Jack’s Hit: Apple’s Missing Socket

There’s been a lot of talk about the removal of the iPhone’s audio jack, most of it knee-jerk, albeit sometimes amusing. A sampling:  Apple Plug Fill in your archaic headphone connector with beautiful aluminium and plug yourself into the future. Apple just demonstrated why people hate the tech industry Link bait, but does quote some experts as saying there’s nothing wrong with the audio jack.  Yeah We Removed The Headphone Jack. The Fuck You Going To Do About It? – Slackjaw   They do make the valid point that the AirPods don’t look great, though the image they use could be improved upon.  I’m no fan-boi, but IContinue readingJack’s Hit: Apple’s Missing Socket

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

Carrier IQ’s Opt-Out Data Collection Patent

ZDNet writes here about an Carrier IQ patent that outlines keylogging and ability to target individual devices . Which is interesting. But Carrier IQ owns a dozen patents, including this one, which to me is much more interesting. This patent indicates what Carrier IQ software could do—not what it does—but it is revealing nonetheless: A communication device and a data server record and collect events and event-related data to create an activity record. A user of the communication device may request that events and related data be recorded and collected using a configuration option on the communication device or through an interaction with the dataContinue readingCarrier IQ’s Opt-Out Data Collection Patent

The Third Screen Talks to the Second

Nokia has finally woken up to the potential of connecting its phones to a computer. I’ve written elsewhere about the PC Suite, but its latest version has made some great strides in allowing you to use the computer to manage and monitor your cellphone. The vision is a simple, and yet elusive, one. We work on our computers when we’re stationary. And on our phone when we’re mobile. But as far as we’re concerned we’re still doing the same thing: working. We can synchronize our data between those two devices, but operating both in real time is more problematic: there are tools to allow usContinue readingThe Third Screen Talks to the Second

The Predictable Human (and a Privacy Issue)

A study of mobile phone data shows that we are extraordinarily consistent about our movements. Mobile phone data, unsurprisingly, provides rich pickings for researchers since we carry one around with us all the time, and, unlike dollar bills, it’s more likely to stick with one person. But some have questioned the ethics of such a study. The BBC reports that the study, by Albert-László Barabási and two others, shows we are much more predictable in our movements than we might think: The whereabouts of more than 100,000 mobile phone users have been tracked in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of human movements. TheContinue readingThe Predictable Human (and a Privacy Issue)

Bluetooth Tracking

Research from Purdue University shows that Bluetooth would be a very good way to track travel time. Bluetooth devices give off unique IDs which could be used to measure speed and movement of pedestrians and vehicles. But why stop there? Wouldn’t it be possible to track people via their Bluetooth signal, if you knew one of their device IDs? Anyway, here’s the abstract (thanks, Roland.) Travel time is one of the most intuitive and widely understood performance measures. However, it is also one of the most difficult performance measures to accurately estimate. Toll tag tracking has demonstrated the utility of tracking electronic fingerprints to estimateContinue readingBluetooth Tracking

Bye Bye, Laptop?

The day seems to be getting closer when we can do something that would seem to be pretty obvious: access our pocket-sized smartphone via a bigger screen, keyboard and a mouse. Celio Corp says it’s close. Celio Corp have two products: their Mobile Companion (pictured above), a laptop like thing that includes an 8″ display, a full function keyboard, and a touchpad mouse. At 1 x 6 x 9 inches and weighing 2 lbs, the Mobile Companion promises over 8 hours of battery life and boots instantly. After loading a driver on your smartphone you can then access it via a USB cable or Bluetooth.Continue readingBye Bye, Laptop?

Pocket Lockets

videocapture from myTreo.net Here’s something that caught my eye from CES: D.A.V.E. from Seagate. Despite its awful name (it stands for Digital Audio Video Experience) it’s a great idea. It’s basically a small 60 GB external hard drive but it’s small (65 x 90 x 16 mm) and light (106 grams) and connects to a smart phone via WiFi or Bluetooth. The devices contain a USB port for uploading data (and presumably can use a wired connection from smartphones too, should the need arise.) As Tadd Rosenfeld of myTreo.net puts it: We believe DAVE is a game changer. With the introduction of 1 gigahertz smartphoneContinue readingPocket Lockets

Sleeping, Frothing, Typing and Sealing

 The Wall Street Journal’s holiday gift guide is out. My contributions, some of which would be familiar to regular readers: Sleeptracker Pro $179. A successor to the Sleeptracker which I wrote about a couple of years ago (Sandman’s Little Helpers, Jan 13, 2006), the Pro is a watch which monitors your sleep patterns — more specifically, your movements while asleep — to wake you up when you’re at the lightest stage of sleep. The Pro improves on its predecessor with a better watch design and the ability to move your sleep data to a PC with a USB cable. Great for sleepyheads. Aerolatte milk frotherContinue readingSleeping, Frothing, Typing and Sealing

How To Report on the Road

I’ve always been looking for the perfect way to report on the road — do you write shorthand notes, do you record it all and transcribe it later, do you use digital writing tools like Logitech’s io Pen? Or a combination? Each one I’ve done has fallen down, usually because I get bored transcribing or deciphering my notes. The result is a lot of stuff gets lost along the way. At a recent conference I ran into a guy who seems to have the answer: Don Sambandaraksa, technology writer for The Bangkok Post, who manages to touch type so fast on a Think Outside BluetoothContinue readingHow To Report on the Road

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