The Bureaucracy of Technology (part 2)

Back in the spring of 2018, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in front of Congress and they questioned him about the ethics that Facebook, the questions they asked did no phase Zuckerberg. The only thing that made him look bad, was his demeanor during the hearing, the memes that made him look bad, and his notes that he had which would throw other companies under the bus if the opportunity presented itself.

Also, when Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai was in front of Congress and the questions they asked him about Google’s algorithm of “why is it, when I Google idiot, pictures of the president come up?” Having a career politician if important, but at least have people

When the San Bernadino case happened, the shooter had an iPhone. People in government wanted Apple to decode the shooters iPhone but it’s not that simple. If Apple were to decode the shooters iPhone then that makes cracks in iOS for hackers to get into anyone’s iPhone. There are no exceptions for 0s’ and 1s’.

There’s a fine line in properly attacking these companies for the good of the consumer, and not just attacking them because we felt they didn’t do enough in a course of action.

Apple isn’t much at fault for monopolies or violating consumers in any way, but they have abused patent laws in the past and their own lightning port instead of a standard USB-C which other companies have, does abuse consumers.

Microsoft learned their lesson in the 90s when they bundled Internet Explorer with windows and essentially having a monopoly in more than one market. Most believe this led to Microsoft giving Apple money so they could stay afloat and stay competitive.

What’s to be done about the regulation?

What’s to be done about the big tech companies? Even if you don’t find what I have written a concern, we can agree that we value technology more and more each day that it’s near impossible not to use the big 5 tech companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple). As demonstrated by Kashmir Hill, as she tried not to use the big 5 and it was impossible for her to do. I thought not using AWS supported sites was a bit extreme but that’s really sticking to the tech cleanse. One thing that the video pointed out that was interesting was that Mina Khan said that these companies need to stop stifling innovation. Facebook buys its competitors or they copy their competitor’s technology or implement it as their own, Amazon stifles retail growth, Google owning both Google search and YouTube does cause some conflict of interest to me.

People smarter than me don’t know how to properly regulate these Silicon Valley giants. Government can start by enforcing more antitrust regulations against these companies. It’s in these companies rights to buy companies but before every purchase, a committee should form to come to the conclusion to see if it’s in the best interest of companies that company A buys company B.

It’s hard to say for sure what can be done. There’s no right way to do this but since there’s nothing being done now, a simple step like regulation can be done.  It’s more than a simple grey area of a solution of sanctioning their business models; data for Google and Facebook, retail for Amazon, and Hardware for Apple.

I feel two, three or four parts isn’t enough to properly write about this topic so I’ll have to come back in the future when something is to be done about this.

The Bureaucracy of Technology (part one)

With technology becoming everything these days and affecting our lives, it’s alarming how slow US government reacts to new tech by implementing laws years late. Or better yet, when they have an important opportunity they don’t capitalize on it and make the most of it.

A couple weeks ago a judge ruled made a precedent that law enforcement couldn’t use your fingerprint sensor or face ID against you and make you unlock your phone. Before this, the fifth amendment was in use as far as using your password because knowing your password is self-incriminating while your fingerprint sensor is something that can be used against you while both are used to have access to your phone for lawful purposes. We’ve had this technology for a few years. Who knows how many people have been in trouble with the law and yet they forced them to use their biometrics to unlock their phones under unlawful circumstances.

Having a career politician is important, but at least have someone in Congress or a position in government who has an idea of technology:

Like the Google v. Oracle case. The judge in the case studied about code and knew enough about to make a decision that Googles API of Oracle’s Java doesn’t infringe on their copyright of it and that APIs are not subject to copyright. I was surprised by this ruling that the judge knew enough about APIs to say to make this ruling. Usually, in the case of infringement, the ruling will go in favor of the prosecutor.

Apple is forced to sell USB adapters for their lightning ports because, in the EU, Micro-USB is what is the norm and enforced. This is on a small scale but its good to see government have some enforcement for the betterment of the consumer that is used to having a certain technology.

 

At some point, regulation has to come to these companies. In the thick of this all, one company has never in its history managed to not face anti-trust violations or lawsuits; Amazon. It’s bound to come at some point with them thinking of getting into pharmaceuticals and owning a theater movie chain. After hearing all the candidates that plan to run in the 2020 election, I’ll be looking to see what the candidates say about technology regulation. I liken the analogy of the concerns I’m raising like global warming, not exactly something you should be worried about now, but you should be asking questions and taking notes about being prepared for when the tech companies are truly in a position to overtake peoples peace of mind.

 

The Cycle Of Tech Upgrades and Innovation

With technology becoming apart of everyone’s lives more and more (IoT, yearly phone upgrade plans, and screen time being tracked) one has to wonder where the line is of “should I upgrade” with “could I upgrade”.

Now that CES is over and you look at what companies are pushing; foldable phones, 8K TVs, smart ____, how often should people be upgrading? Let’s look at the consumer data for a few pieces of technology:

Phones:

I’ve seen a lot of articles over the past few months on how people are keeping their phones longer and longer. The economist has made the same point I have in another one of my posts about how smartphones have boomed in 10 years and are starting to stall.

Let us not forget that companies took this into account a couple years ago with planned obsolescence; it has become hard but not impossible to change your phone’s batteries. One has to tinker with a phone themselves rather than the phone having a removable back like they used to.

A phone battery has a finite amount of charges before it starts to degrade. Depending on how often you charge, will depend on when your battery degrades. Two years is the span when phone updates make the phone sluggish and the battery dies at a certain point before its suppose to.

Companies put out a phone every year when in fact they are not. The Notch is not an innovation, a foldable phone is not an innovation, I would even argue the smartphone itself is not an innovation. When Seve Jobs announced the iPhone, he called it three devices in one; iPod, phone, and internet comm device. The smartphone is a convenience. As smartphone cameras become better but not better than DSLRs’, the motto “the best camera is the one you have on you” proves that.

Why upgrade your phone? Because companies put one out every year? Because of aesthetics? The phone you have now is good enough for a while if not for updates.

For myself, I have a Pixel first gen and the battery has degraded so much that it dies at 30% sometimes. I’m on the fence of taking it apart and replacing the battery or just buying a Pixel 2.

Televisions:

The thing being pushed out at CES this year was 8K televisions. Not so much that you should buy one right now for two reasons: they’re overpriced and there is no 8K content to stream. Even if there were 8K content to stream, the bandwidth required to stream 8K isn’t where it needs to be.

I couldn’t find any solid data on how often people replace their television but you know yourself that people don’t replace them as often as phones. I could only find that people replace them every 5 to 7 years but the article is from 2012. That still seems accurate as there isn’t much a TV can innovate on beside quality.

TV manufacturers have made it hard to find a reason to upgrade. Again, the TV you have now is good for the long haul.

Computers

One can argue that a majority of people don’t really need a computer these days. The smartphone will suffice. There is a lot of tasks that a phone can’t do like video and photo editing, (although Adobe is making their software better on the iPhone to make editing on the fly easier), making documents etc.

To further this point, Apple has this Russian nesting doll business model with their devices as far as how they treat their products. They don’t treat the Mac and MacBook as a viable business plan. The iPad gets minor tweaks yearly, which they want you to treat as a computer. The iPhone gets a huge announcement as well as the Apple Watch which is their moneymaker.

Microsoft is killing support of Windows 7 a year from now. It will be interesting to see the data of the people and business’ who have windows 7 now and how the struggle of them upgrading will be for valid reasons.

With all that in mind, who is the desktop PC for? Business’ and hospitals for sure. The gamer, the media creator, everything else you can do on a Chromebook or cheap PC and that will get the job done.

Computer experts say that you should replace your computer every 4 years. This seems reasonable as computers become sluggish with the internal components degrading in that time.

This piece makes a good point that a desktop computer will get you the most mileage of any device you own.

 

Wearables

To me, a smartwatch is a solution looking for a problem. If you were to leave your smartwatch at home, would you drive back and get it? You probably would only because you spent a pretty penny on it. So disregarding that, there’s no reason to upgrade a device that there’s no need for at the moment.

However, there is potential for wearables in the health space. Right now a majority of people use it for heart rate, which is important but that’s not a reason for a must buy. Google and Novartis were working on a wearable contact lens for diabetics but have said that it’s infeasible to do. There are little tasks that wearbales can do but imagine it helping your doctor gives better decisions when treating you. Or contributing to clinical trials. That’s where the innovation is.

 

So where does the point of innovation and having to upgrade fall in line? Next time you want you to upgrade your device, think twice about the reasons why.

Predictions For 2019

It’s that time of year where these kinds of thoughts and insight come out. As far as my blog and thoughts go, I try to keep this tech-centric for both the lay-person and try to keep it interesting for the tech enthusiast. I’ll be honest I don’t fully know everything about what I write but I find enough sources to back up what I’m saying as I keep a close ear on technology.

 

4. There will be an alternative to passwords to all

As you can read in this article, password use isn’t secure. I am surprised by this because every service is very strict on password requirements; special character, number, capital letter etc. A security expert will say that you shouldn’t use Gmail or any other mainstream email service, that you should have your own private email server and that’s true protection. Or use PGP which is not something that the average person is going to jump hoops through because convenience triumphs security and right now there is no crossover between the two that makes it both. Public key encryptions are an alternative to passwords but people aren’t going to spend money on something like that until they are affected by an attack. I think in 2019 a company, rather it be an established one or startup, will come up with a viable alternative to make passwords a thing of the past.

3. 5G won’t take off

With reports that smartphones will cost extra for 5G support, I don’t see 5G phones becoming thing nor should they be. 4G LTE is already fast enough for people that in most cases, it is more reliable than their home WiFi. You have to consider that it costs a lot to roll out 5G, so companies will have to charge its customers. Not to mention there are health concerns about it as well.

2. Snapchat Will Go Under

Snapchat’s ad business isn’t sustainable. People skip over ads, companies have to pay to show their content on the platform. The UI for Snap has always been unique, the younger crowd knows how to use it and the older demographic is hesitant to use it because of not so clean cut UI. This is what keeps it relevant compared to Facebook. Companies pay to have their stories put on the platform with little to no ROI.  So I predict it will be bought and absorbed by an old media company that has enough money buy it to stay relevant.

1. Something like GDPR will come to USA

Here’s an explanation for GDPR. So far there are very little laws coming into place for the future of “data as a currency”. While a right to privacy is not explicitly included within the US Constitution, in 1965 the US Supreme Court recognized an implied constitutional right in Griswold v. Connecticut. Congress further developed the right to privacy in 1974 when it passed the Privacy Act, restricting federal agencies in their collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. With this act, the US became one of the first countries in the world to adopt a major privacy law. Today, the US has an array of privacy and data protection laws at the state and federal level. Depending on an organization’s industry, the type of information it collects, and its use of that information, a company may be subject to one or more of these laws. Naturally, that may affect the organization’s practices and policies. The decisions on this kind thing are slow to pass in the US, but I think we’ll see a headline of something will be passed and put into place in the future. With so many data breaches, its important something like that is put into place.

 

Bonus: A cloud version of Adobe Photoshop

I’ve heard about this a couple years ago and never heard from again. I didn’t put it on my list because it’s something that’s being developed.

My 10 favorite Movies/TV shows of 2018

This is my favorite time of year. Most people have the holidays off and stay in due to the snow or to get away from relatives. These lists come out from different sites and give people something to watch. This isn’t in order of favorite, just what I liked in general.

 

Hereditary

I would say this is my favorite movie of 2018. I don’t care for “horror” movies as I feel this is more a psycho-thriller, if you make me interested in one, it deserves to be on my list. I found myself closing my eyes in the theater I was so spooked. The mom at the end was pure nightmare fuel. The trailer doesn’t say much because the plot is explained toward the end of the movie.

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (season 2)

I’m only halfway into the season but it follows the first season nicely which got the most Emmys this year.

Upgrade

I may be biased on this one because I like anything futurology but this movie is good and clean; it’s not complicated and I can recommend it to anyone. It jumps through too many hoops at the end but I liked it for the most part. The main character looks like a great value Tom Hardy so it has that going for it.

Bojack Horseman (season 5)

This is probably my favorite Netflix show with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt being 1b. This season was great however, it does bleed over some issues from season 4 that I didn’t think were necessary but it had my favorite episode of TV as well (episode 6).

Aquaman

If you told me that I would like Aquaman more Than Black Panther, I would say you’re crazy but I did. I was sold on the first five minutes with the Nicole Kidman action sequence. It had one of the worst music tracks ever (Pitbulls cover Africa by Toto) but it didn’t bother me much. They manage to have two villains and it still is a good movie.

First Man

You have to know before watching this that it’s a slow-burning drama, not too many scenes are tense but when they are, it’s a real tear-jerker. Its pretty depressing to say the least, only happy moment is that they complete the mission. The directing, the way the film looks, and Ryan Gosling is becoming one of my favorite actors that I see his name in the tagline for the movie and its an automatic watch.

Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse

This is by far the best Spiderman movie ever and overall has been a great year for Spiderman fans with Infinity war, the PS4 game, a decent depiction of Venom and now this. If you don’t like animated shows, I would still watch this, it’s very unique how certain parts of the movie are animated.

Isle Of Dogs

This movie is good depending on how much you like Dogs. I love them so it’s for me but I can’t recommend it to everyone. The ending drags a little bit and it didn’t have the charm that Fantastic Mr. Fox has (which is one of my all-time favorite movies).

Forever

This show is like The Good Place and Last Man On Earth put together only a hipster version because A. it has Fred Armisen, king of the hipsters, and B. there are no special effects used in the show. Great chemistry between the cast. The show feels like it has a single place setting because there’s little environment the characters interact with.

Daredevil (season 3)

I’ve been very critical of the Netflix Marvel properties and have given up on the other shows but this season of Daredevil I’m on board with. I thought bringing back Kingpin this soon was a bad idea but it worked only because Vincent D’Onofrio kills in the role. Too bad it will be the last we see of this depending on Disney+ making shows of them.

This Is Us (season 3)

I’m pretty sure I’ve teared up every episode of this show. My only gripe with season 3 is Kates self-loathing toward her weight being a thing since episode one. Now that we know how Jack died, I feel there is no mystery to find out.

 

 

The ones that didn’t make the cut:

Infinity war- movie isn’t complete so my brain feels like it’s on pause for the story

 

Black Panther- CGI is real bad at parts and  Killmonger is more interesting than T’challa

Ralph Breaks The Internet

I had a lot of hype for this but the ending was predictable and all the good parts were in the trailers.

 

What I still need to watch

The good place season 3

Annihilation

The Americans (all of it)

Greenbook

Paddington 2

 

Why I’m Rooting For Facebook

I know with the scrutiny that Facebook has been under recently with the data breach, the not showing up to defend the data hearings, Mark Zuckerberg overall not being a friendly looking guy, and not to mention that the person driving the company (Sheryl Sandberg) is digging the hole deeper.

With all the bad press, you wonder why I would be rooting for Facebook to be on the up and up. I want this because something as popular as Facebook should not be hated by its users. As I stated in a previous blog of mine, Facebook can’t be toppled anytime soon because they steal features on a whim, and everyone you know that’s important wouldn’t migrate away from Facebook (Facebook effect). Or they try to buy an up and coming company.

There are some parts I like in place about Facebook like internet.org, my master’s thesis is over if the internet is a human right and if the internet were given to the people of the world such as a human right, internet.org is a step in the right direction. However for Facebook to have an initiative like that feels like a hidden agenda since they are giving people access to the internet that normally wouldn’t those are people who now have access to Facebook that normally wouldn’t. The fact that Facebook brings groups together in ways people don’t realize. Facebook had a real name policy but changed it in light of the backlash from the LGBT community.

Stockholders are already questioning if roles will shake up at the top but Mark has officially said things will not change. Which is a shame because for years and years Mark and everyone under him do not care about its user’s perception of data privacy. They ask for forgiveness rather than permission when it comes to user perception.

I’m not sure who would be waiting in the wings if Mark were to be stepping down. Cheryl is the obvious choice but she’s co-piloting already enough as it is. There wouldn’t be much difference having a CEO name.

For more information on how consumers view Facebook, here is an article from NBC News.

Where are we with AR/VR going into 2019?

People don’t know that Virtual Reality has existed in theory since 1962 when it was patented. Since then, all tech companies and products can’t get it right. The Virtua boy in 90s flopped, the virtual experience of having your phone in a headset flopped in recent years. When the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive came out, you had to be really into the tech so much that you put a whole room in your house aside to enjoy the experience because of the space required to use the devices.

When I had the Google Daydream, my friends and family members enjoyed the experience, but they never asked me about it after that. For me, I don’t like using my phone for tasks other than communicating or checking the news. VR on the PC is fun and enjoyable for everyone, but the experience is too expensive for the casual user to the point of having to buy an expensive desktop. There are portable options, the Oculus go and the Vive Focus (Go priced at 200 and the focus 500). VR at this point has its fun uses but for the masses, it doesn’t produce productivity except it helping autistic kids.

AR, is a whole other story. We’re too far away to know what we’re getting in the AR but we like it the taste of what there is of AR already. Pokemon Go is AR light, Magic Leaps concept is nice, but even a normal person knows that is a long ways away. Ikea’s app that lets you put furniture in your house, has more uses than what VR has to offer. We are still years away till we get a solid AR product so I’ll reserve judgment for it.

In my opinion the only “reality” experience that will be right, is how The Show “Westworld” does their world and storyline experience, anything short is a disappointment. I know, in Westworld it cost thousands of dollars a day to experience it and the whole sentient thing is worrisome. Virtual Reality sickness is a thing that can’t be overcome by most people and it’s not a minor occurrence. It would be better than a Disneyworld experience, imagine going through the world of Jungle Book, Aladdin, etc. its all too expensive in theory now but years down the line, I could see this becoming a thing.