ZeroLemon: The Solution for Power Guzzling Smartphones

As the world waits for the launch of the new iPhone, can you guess the most requested feature? You may be surprised to know that it is not the fingerprint scanner or a better camera. According to a poll conducted by USA Today, the most requested feature in the new iPhone is improved battery life! The iPhone (or for that matter, any smartphone) guzzles power like a thirsty horse drinking water out of a river. It’s not just Smartphones, Tablets, or Phablets that guzzle power. With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch, wearable gadgets need powerful batteries too.

Since the launch of the first iPhone, there have been numerous advances in smartphone technology. Better processors, more memory, increasing storage, and better cameras. The only thing that does not seem to have improved much over the years is the battery.

I have used many smartphones over the years, and all of them had the same problem; a battery that runs out when I was about to send an important email at the end of the day. Or, when I needed to call home to say I am on my way.

Over the years, I have tried many battery solutions and different ways to ensure my battery remained charged:

  • Mophie Juicepack Air –  Mophie is  a case for your smartphone that also includes a battery. The battery in the case charges the smartphone’s internal battery. The disadvantage of the Mophie is the lead time for charging your phone. When you are on a call, you are consuming a lot of power. Battery charging is a slow process and Consumption is always faster than Charging.
  • iGo Green USB charger –  iGo Green is a battery that plugs into the wall for charging. Once the iGo Green is charged, you can charge your smartphone through a built-in USB port. The disadvantage of the iGo green is that you need to charge the battery first. If the battery is already drained when you need to charge your phone, you are out of luck.
  • Spare charger – Of course, you could leave one charger at work and one at home. What about the car and the meeting room? Or the transit? I can think of too many situations where you need to charge your phone and it is practically impossible to have a charger everywhere.
  • Predictive usage – If your battery goes below 10% stop watching the YouTube video and wait till you get home! Believe me, I have tried this too.

A smartphone cannot work without a charge and you are disconnected from work, home, and friends when your battery runs out. I was wondering how to ensure that my smartphone’s battery stays charged for at least 12 hours. If I could get through the day without losing charge, I could charge my phone when I got home. With superior battery technology not coming anytime soon, I had to look for a solution to stay connected.

Then I found the perfect solution – ZeroLemon.

The ZeroLemon battery is a 7000 mAH (milli-Ampere Hour) battery as compared to the original 2100 mAH battery that comes with the Samsung Galaxy S3. It is obviously more than three times the original capacity. The ZeroLemon battery takes 6 hours to charge and lasts 3 days even with heavy use! Even when I used my S3 for calls, texting, social media, Internet, Netflix, flash photography, and email, ZeroLemon refused to die.

Here are a few photos of the battery that has truly changed the way I use my smartphone:

Front of the ZeroLemon battery when compared to the original Samsung battery:

1

Back of the ZeroLemon battery:

2

Thickness of both batteries:

3

Samsung Galaxy S3 when you insert the ZeroLemon battery:

4

Samsung Galaxy S3 with the Zero Lemon battery and case:

5

Finally, if you are interested in comparing the thickness:

6

The Samsung Galaxy S3 surely gets a bit bulkier with the ZeroLemon battery. However, it is interesting to note that it is less bulkier than the OtterBox case. For a little additional weight, you get three days worth of battery. Now, you can always stay connected.

Here are the battery usage statistics from my Samsung Galaxy S3 when the ZeroLemon battery was about to run out. As you can see, the battery lasted me a full 2 days and 19 hours with 3% remaining:

Battery_Stats

ZeroLemon is available on Amazon. ZeroLemon sells extended batteries for many Android phones. Sadly, they do not sell an extended battery for the iPhone. Try out the Zero Lemon battery and let me know how you liked it.

Disclaimer: The Digital Dimension of Technology is an independent non-commercial technology blog. We have not been endorsed by ZeroLemon. 

Where the Worlds Collide: Smartphones turn into Desktops (or SmartTops*)

The past decade has seen more technological innovation than the past century – at least in the world of mobile computing. Netbooks, Smartphones, Tablets, and finally Phablets have revolutionized the world.

A new phenomenon is emerging – where Smartphones are turning into desktops. Sounds funny, doesn’t it?

Consider this: What’s the configuration of your smartphone? Most likely, it’s a dual-core processor with at least 2 GB RAM, and a 32 GB of disk space. Good examples are an iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy S3. What’s the configuration of your home computer? Most probably, the processor is lesser than a dual-core, with 2 GB RAM, and a large hard disk. Putting all of these together, your smartphone today may as well have more processing power and memory than your basic home computer.

Yet, we have a home computer, for general Internet surfing, printing, or for things that you can’t yet do with your smartphone. And yet, most of us carry a smartphone.

Here’s a revolutionary idea: What if your smartphone could also be your home computer?

And this revolutionary idea comes to you not from Apple or Google, but from Canonical, the guys that brought you Ubuntu. Canonical has released a developer version of Ubuntu for Mobile. You can load this operating system on your smartphone. You can connect your smartphone to a dock to switch to Desktop Mode. You can then use your smartphone as a desktop computer simply by connecting a mouse, keyboard, and monitor to the dock. After using your Smartphone as a Desktop, just unplug it and put it in your pocket!

Here is a conceptual representation of the setup:

Ubuntu_Mobile

Intriguing? I think so. Here’s where you can read more about Ubuntu for Mobile: http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/phone

In my opinion, here are some advantages of using a single device (for a home user):

  • Programs: Install all software programs on only one device..
  • Data: Store your data on only one device (may also be synced to a cloud).
  • Mobility: Carry the device around.
  • Security: Manage security for only one device (anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, theft protection etc.)
  • Cost: Cheaper, since there is only one device to buy.
  • Software Updates: Update software on only one device.
  • Space: Saves space in your home.
  • Environment friendly: Save power and creates less electronic recycling.

Here are some advantages of using a single device (for a business):

  • Mobility: Welcome to the mobile enterprise – all employees are mobile.
  • Mobile Device Management: IT administrators can now use Mobile Device Management instead of Desktop Management solutions (the desktop market is shrinking anyways).
  • Licensing: Save on licensing costs for expensive programs.
  • Unified Threat Management: Unified Threat Management on only one device – a boon for IT administrators.

I would love to have an Ubuntu Smartphone that is also my home computer.

In all fairness and much as I love the concept, there are some serious disadvantages to using an Ubuntu phone as a computer:

  • Processor Speed: Can we have a processor that is as fast as Core i7 on a Smartphone? Not yet.
  • Memory (RAM): Smartphones are yet to reach the 8 or 16 GB category.
  • Network Speed: Smartphones do not have Gigabit Ethernet. Ethernet ports are still very useful when it comes to communicating over high-speed networks.
  • Battery Technology: How reliable are smartphone batteries? Obviously not as reliable as a desktop computer that is plugged into a power line. (You might want to read more about my idea on battery technology in my earlier post Is the Smartphone Industry Curious about Curiosity?.)
  • Applications/Programs: Finally, the obvious – Ubuntu for Mobile may not have as many programs as Windows. Windows still rules the market with millions of programs, drivers, and tools for business.

I guess technology has reached a full circle from Desktops > Laptops > Netbooks > Smartphones > Tablets > Phablets > finally to SmartTops*!

Let’s wait and watch to see if SmartTops* rule the market like Smartphones or Tablets.

*SmartTop is not an industry terminology. I came up with this term for this blog post. Remember, you heard this word here first. Ubuntu for smartphones may get in touch with my $$ anytime soon 🙂

 

DSLR Concepts: The watered down basics

For as long as I can remember, I have been a point-and-shoot enthusiast. After using a bridge (SuperZoom) camera for a long time, I finally upgraded to a DSLR.

When I upgraded to a DSLR, I started learning about the various aspects of DSLR photography. I read many blogs, websites, and books that attempted to explain the basics. In my humble opinion, however, all these sources were a little too technical when it came to explaining one concept – exposure.

After reading the definitions from various sources, I would always come away with a few questions:

  • What does exposure really mean?
  • What is the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO?
  • Do I really need to understand these concepts to take good photos?

For a person who has been taking photos for over a decade now, I found these concepts intriguing. I found a lot of technical explanations online for aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. But just like exposure, I found nothing that tied them all together in an extremely simple manner.

This blog post is my attempt at explaining the basic concept of exposure, as I understand it today.

What is Exposure?

A photo is all about light. Exposure is nothing but the quantity of light that is used to create a photo in a camera.

Before going into aperture, shutter speed and ISO, let us try to understand what one must do to fill 1 bucket of water. (Huh?)

Let’s assume you have the following three items to fill 1 bucket of water:

A pipe that carries water.

A valve that opens and closes.

A bucket of a certain size.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you could fill 1 bucket with the following parameters:

Use a pipe of 10-inch diameter.

Open the valve for 10 seconds.

Use a bucket of a 10-liter capacity.

It’s simple isn’t it?

Let’s compare the idea of filling 1 bucket of water to the concepts of photography:

Pipe = Aperture (the diameter of the opening that allows light into the camera)

Valve = Shutter (can be opened for a pre-defined number of seconds)

Size of the bucket = ISO (time taken to fill the bucket; smaller the bucket, the faster it fills up).

So, based on how much water you want, you can fill 1 bucket of water in any of the following ways:

  • Use a 10-inch pipe, open the valve for 10 seconds, and fill a bucket of 10 liters.
  • Use a 5-inch pipe, open the valve for 10 seconds, and fill a bucket of 5 liters.
  • Use a 10-inch pipe, open the valve for 5 seconds, and fill a bucket of 5 liters.

Water vs. Light

The world of DSLR photography with light is not different from filling water in a bucket. You can create a photo by adjusting any of the following parameters to adjust the quantity of light used to create a photo because:

Exposure = Aperture + Shutter Speed + ISO

  • Aperture: Increase the Aperture for more light and decrease it for less light.
  • Shutter Speed: Decrease the Shutter Speed (shutter stays open for a longer duration) for more light and increase the Shutter Speed (shutter stays open for a shorter duration) for less light.
  • ISO: ISO defines how sensitive the sensor is to light. In the older non-digital camera days, films were used to take photos. A term called film-speed was used define how soon the photo was created on the film when light fell on it. A 100 film-speed was less sensitive and 200 film-speed was more sensitive to light. With DSLRs, the term called ISO is used to define how sensitive the sensor is to light. The higher the ISO setting on your camera, the more sensitive it is to light.

Theoretically, you could increase one parameter and decrease the others to ensure that the same quantity of light creates the digital image.

Here are a few examples of a candle photographed with different settings:

1) Auto Mode:

2) High ISO (More Sensitive to Light): Aperture f5.6, Shutter Speed 1/125 second, ISO 1600

3) High Shutter Speed (Less Light): Aperture f5.6, Shutter Speed 1/1000 second, ISO 100

4) Low Shutter Speed (More Light): Aperture f5.6, Shutter Speed 1/5 second, ISO 100

4) Low Aperture (Less Light): Aperture f16, Shutter Speed 1/125 second, ISO 100

If you are using a DSLR in Auto mode, a good way to see the values for Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO is to view the properties of the photo. Better still, you can adjust these parameters to see what effect this has on a photo.

You don’t really need to know these concepts to take a good photo in Auto mode. However, to upgrade from a point-and-shoot mode to a serious hobbyist mode, these concepts are extremely useful. There is so much more you can do in composing the photo if you know how these concepts (Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO) work together to bring a ‘Digital Photo’ into existence!

Stay tuned for future blog posts on other photography concepts like f-stop, crop factor, and lenses.

To see my photos, visit my Photography Blog.

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps – a user’s perspective

When Apple decided to abandon Google Maps and create its own, users expected Apple to create the next generation mapping product. However, when Apple launched its maps with iOS 6, there were reports of multiple errors in Apple Maps. Collapsed bridges, wrong names, and non-existent landmarks were a few errors blown out of proportion by the media.

Do Apple Maps really suck? Are the maps unreliable? As an iOS 6 user, would I get lost without Google Maps?

The only way to answer these questions is for me to compare both maps using a user-centric approach. I decided to analyze the route from place A to place B using both maps. For my test, I chose two well-known landmarks in the Vancouver Lower Mainland, that is starting from the Metropolis at Metrotown Mall to the Waterfront Skytrain Station.

Apple Maps: Here is the route displayed by Apple Maps:

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The map view looked alright to me. However, to be more accurate, I looked at the list view:

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What I liked about the Apple Maps (list view) was that Nelson St, Hazel St, and Miller Ave were displayed. Depending upon where exactly the user was, one of the streets would be visible within 100-150 meters. Apple maps took me through the Dunsmuir viaduct and finally Cambie St, Pender St, and Seymour St directly into Downtown Core. As a person who lives here, the route looked alright to me.

Google Maps: Here is the route displayed by Google Maps:

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Let us see the Google Maps route using the list view:

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Apple Maps seemed to be taking a slightly different route, but at first glance, neither route is glaringly incorrect. Google Maps was taking another route via Main St and Hastings St to Seymour St and finally to Downtown Core. In the Google Maps route, the first step struck me as strange. Google Maps tells the user ‘Head Northeast’. How is the user supposed to know what Northeast is? Unless the user is holding a compass, it is not user-friendly to say head in a particular direction.

Both routes are correct. However, here are the differences:

Apple Maps:

  • Specifies each street right from the start to the end. Does not say head ‘in a particular direction’.
  • Gives turn-by-turn navigation via large, unmistakeable labels on the map.

Google Maps:

  • Says head Northeast at the start of the route. Pointing users in a direction rather than towards a street, in my opinion, is not user-friendly.
  • Provides street-view, showing users exactly where they need to go.

Aside from the above differences both Apple and Google maps seem to be quite accurate. Considering the fact that Apple Maps is just the first version and the error-reporting is crowd-sourced, I am sure the accuracy of the maps will improve as users use them more and more.

As for the errors like collapsed bridges and non-existent landmarks, Apple has no option but to fix them as soon as possible.

(Edited by Prarthna Sri)

 

 

Is the Smartphone Industry ‘Curious’ about Curiosity?

The world holds its breath as the next battle for dominance in the smartphone industry begins with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4. Apple recently defeated Samsung in a patent lawsuit involving user-interface elements. Samsung lost the battle, but they don’t necessarily have to lose the war. Samsung will not fade away into the night without putting up an aggressive fight. Samsung plans to sue Apple on its using the LTE (a technology for faster data speeds called Long-Term Evolution) chip in the iPhone 5.

As the smartphone war rages on, it is evident that there are many areas where industry giants compete for dominance – user-interface, operating system, physical design, connectivity, storage, and camera.

But there is one area where companies haven’t done much – the battery. Until the smartphone industry invests heavily into battery technology, devices are limited to what they can do on a single charge. Lithium-ion batteries are used extensively in all smartphones as of today. The life of a single charge is a few hours (assuming a user talks, texts, and uses data connections such as Wi-Fi or 3G/LTE). After a smartphone runs out of battery, users have no option but to carry a charging cable, USB charger, portable USB charger, a battery pack (like Mophie), or just wait to reach home to charge the phone.

Talking about battery life, the smartphone industry can learn a lot from the Mars Rover Curiosity. Curiosity has reached Mars and has starting sending photos, conducting experiments and, exploring the Martian mountains. For doing all this, Curiosity needs one thing – power.

Previous generations of Mars Rovers used solar panels to power various devices. However, dust settled on the solar panels making them inefficient. Also, note that the Sun looks much smaller from Mars as Mars is at a greater distance from the center of the solar system. Smaller sun = less light = less solar power.

To solve this problem of inefficient solar power, Curiosity uses a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG). Simply put, Curiosity uses the radioactive isotope Plutonium-238 as the raw material. Heat is automatically generated due to the natural decay of Plutonium-238. A device called a Thermocouple uses this heat to generate electricity. The Plutonium-238 is well shielded, and the heat – and not the radiation – is used to generate electricity. This device can last for 14 years without requiring any maintenance! Curiosity will constantly receive its power until Plutonium-238 completely decays.

Now, coming back to the smartphone industry, why can’t we design something like this for smartphones? Imagine having a very small amount of radioactive isotope that is well-shielded and attached to the smartphone. The device could then, theoretically, produce electricity for at least a year (or more!). Instead of battery packs like Mophie, we could have smartphones that generate their power and don’t need a recharge! Depending on the stability of the technology, we could have a smartphone that could last for years without a recharge. You buy a smartphone and dispose of it after a few years without charging it even once.

When I told my wife about this idea, she said, and I quote: ‘I am not carrying a nuclear bomb in my pocket!’. Well, what I am proposing is not exactly a nuclear bomb since there is no chain reaction like nuclear fission or nuclear fusion going on. The natural decay of Plutonium-238 generates heat and hence the power. Theoretically, a well-shielded pack of Plutonium-238 is safer than batteries that we have today. The current batteries have greater chances of exploding than a well-shielded pack of Plutonium-238!

The future of the smartphone industry is uncertain. There are no obvious winners as of today. In my opinion, only the company that designs and patents advanced battery technology will emerge as the winner. The company holding the key to advanced battery technology will be the undisputed winner and will rule the smartphone industry for generations to come. Simply because, more power equals to more things the smartphone can do without dying.

Hey Apple and Samsung – are you listening? Hopefully, I can expect to be paid a billion dollars for my idea!

(MMRTG Source: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/technology/technologiesofbroadbenefit/power/)

Edited by: Prarthna Sri

Auditing in a touch-screen world!

Every time I inspected a home before renting it out, or even before buying it, I wish I had a quick checklist of repairs or cleaning required. In the absence of a checklist, there was no perfect way to record the defects in a house. Not having a checklist would lead to problems later – if both parties do not agree to defects. For example, you may have to pay for the stain on the carpet that was not your fault.

I found this amazing app called iAuditor. The iAuditor has a few built-in checklist that can be filled out using an iPad or an iPhone. The UI is a very simple and intuitive:

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I started a new Audit. The App has a few built-in checklists (you can also create your own customized checklist):

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I decided to try out the Accommodation Inspection Checklist:

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The checklist has the following options: Yes, No and Not Applicable. Selecting No gives an option to directly add photographic evidence of non-compliance by clicking the Camera icon.
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There is also an option to add additional comments. An interesting feature of the App is the option for both parties to add signatures directly from the iPad!

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Once both parties have signed on the Audit checklist, the App gives an option to directly export to PDF. This is how an exported PDF looks:

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As a Technical Writer, I am extremely impressed by the perfectly formatted PDF output. I can imagine hundreds of good uses for this App in business. The following uses come to my mind:

– Safety Inspection
– Regulatory Compliance
– Manufacturing
– Pharmaceuticals
– Construction
– Real Estate

In addition to the above business uses, this App can be used in personal situations as well.

The next time you check out a home for rent, make sure to carry your iPad or iPhone. Using the iAuditor App, carefully track the defects that need to be fixed. If not, don’t be surprised if you are dinged for a stain on the carpet that existed before you moved in!

Computer Technology is Imperfect

Computers have been around for a few decades now. But computers – unlike other devices  at home – don’t seem to be as reliable.

Here are a few examples of devices at home that always work as designed:

  • Television–  Switch it on, select the channel and you are ready to go. A TV is very consistent in its function whether it is an LCD, Plasma or an LED TV. A TV has become more like a computer since apps can be installed on some TVs. Some TVs have Wi-Fi or Ethernet built in.
  • Blu-ray player – A Blu-ray player works perfectly each time. These days, a Blu-ray player has apps like Netflix and YouTube that connect to the internet.

The above devices work perfectly fine. If they break down they don’t work. But as long as they work, they are fine and do their job. Using each of the above devices is very easy since they don’t change their settings or mutate on their own.

Let’s compare these devices to a computer. The following issues make a computer extremely complex and frustrating to work with:

  • Accidental misconfiguration– Sometimes, we make changes to the settings on our computer and we are unable to roll them back. A typical computer has hundreds of settings and an average computer user may not be familiar with all of them. If we delete important system files, the computer never turns back on.
  • Malicious misconfiguration – Other users may use your computer and make changes to settings without your knowledge.
  • Virus– Viruses not only modify your computer settings, but also corrupt data.
  • Spyware – Unsafe emails and websites install sypware on your computer that is later used to steal data.
  • Malware – Malware is installed by hackers to take control of your computer and propagate their illegal activities and steal your data.
  • Crash – When your operating system crashes, you have to reboot. This corrupts your operating system and programs.

A computer, due to all the above issues is an imperfect piece of technology. We have sent a man on the moon, but we have still not developed a computer, operating system, or a program that is perfect! Is there a solution out there that makes computer technology perfect?

Yes. Reboot to Restore technology transforms the imperfect computer technology into something reliable and perfect. Just reboot your computer and your operating system, programs, and the entire computer comes back to its original configuration.

Reboot to Restore technology would have been very useful when Neil Armstrong went to the moon. If the computers on his spacecraft had problems, he could just reboot!

 

Milk, Diapers, and an iPad

During my recent visit to the Apple store, I saw Apple experts demonstrating an iPad to a group of kids and their parents. I increasingly see kids holding iPads instead of toys. An iPad is expensive, and fragile. I was curious see how a 2-year old could use an iPad. Most importantly, I was also curious to see if an iPad App was simple to use for a kid.

I downloaded Crayola Paint and Create – a free App for the iPad. I was interested in studying the features, user interface, user interaction, and the overall user experience. This is how the App looks:

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The main elements were Coloring Pages, Fun Activities and Free Draw. I decided to use Coloring pages and color a drawing:

20120421-192638.jpg

I clicked the Crayola icon at the bottom of the screen to display various types of crayons with different colors. You can see the following icons on the right: Pause (to pause the movements like snow falling or pause other interactive elements), Undo, Redo, New, Settings, Share (to share via email or on Facebook), Help, and Exit.

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This is how a partially colored coloring page looks:

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I could easily use different colors and fill different parts of the page with solid colors. This is how a fully colored page looks:

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The app is configured to use a finger by default. There is also a setting to use an iMarker instead of a finger (an iMarker is like a pencil that can be used with the iPad). Obviously, the Help and Settings are a little complicated for kids since they may not be able to read. Apart from Help, Settings, and Share, the other options were extremely easy to use.

What is Apple’s strategy to promote iPads for kids by launching a Kids Corner in the Apple store? What is the value proposition for parents to purchase such and expensive device for their kids? Here’s what I think:

Get an Apple user for life – That’s right. Catching them young will ensure they are Apple users for life! Kids will never choose an Android device or another tablet if they are introduced to the iPad at the age of 2. Apple’s strategy of catching users at a very young age will lead to huge revenue for years to come.

Reduce cost per user – The cheapest iPad costs approximately 400$. If a family of four – two parents and two kids use an iPad, the cost of buying an iPad is divided by 4. Although families do not use terms like Cost per User to decide whether to buy an iPad, they definitely calculate it sub-consciously.

Tap a new market segment – Kids are a huge market segment – not just for games, but also in the field of education. Tapping this market segment leads to a huge revenue for Apple.

Use kids to market the iPad and Apps – I was amazed to see how Apple was using kids to market the iPad. With the Share option, kids could share their coloring pages with their friends (the parents might share it for them). Other kids looking at these colorful pages would want to do the same. Not only is Social Media being introduced at a very young age, the iPad is being marketed via Word of Mouth (the most powerful way to influence prospective buyers).

Save money for families and schools – Families and schools can save money on paper, crayons, and other consumables required on a daily basis.

A safer option – Kids (at home or in Pre-K) eat crayons that may be harmful for their health. Since the crayons on an iPad are electronic, it is very safe for kids.

Save the environment – Reducing the usage of paper obviously save trees.

Crayola Paint and Create gave me great insights to Apple’s strategy. I could also envision the future – where most of the interaction happens through touch screens instead of keyboards. It also helped me realize that language will never be a barrier for user interaction since expressive icons are a great way to communicate with the user. Intelligence, knowledge, skills, language, and education will never be a barrier for users in the world of touch screens.

Hello kids, welcome to the iWorld!

Turn your home wiring into a computer network!

I was watching Netflix the other day when it started buffering frequently. In this day and age, a constant wireless speed should be a given. We have put a man on the moon, but we can’t have constant wireless speed even within the same apartment

I did some research and discovered that many devices interfere with wireless signal. Wireless signal – by its nature – travels through air, and is subjected to interference from other devices that also create wireless signals. The list includes cordless phones (the main culprit), microwave ovens, computers, Bluetooth devices, television sets, speakers, air purifiers, home wiring, fans, and numerous devices we use at home on a day-to-day basis.

If only I could wire my entire apartment with Ethernet. It’s an expensive proposition – but is it worth it? Are there any alternatives?

Yes. I found a very cool solution to turn my home wiring into a computer network. The home wiring can carry data like the Ethernet and provide faster speeds than wireless. I installed a D-Link PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch Kit. The configuration was extremely simple:

  • Step 1 – Transmitter: I plugged in the white device to a power plug near my cable modem/wireless router. I plugged in an Ethernet cable from this device to the cable modem /wireless router.
  • Step 2 – Receiver: I plugged in the black device to a power plug near my TV/Blu-ray. I plugged in an Ethernet cable from this device to the Blu-ray.

And voila! My Blu-ray was connected over Ethernet! I could now get a veryhigh Internet speed at my Blu-ray. Netflix never buffered again.It is amazing that my home wiring can actually be used as an Ethernet network. I am sure this is useful for people in large homes. Imagine working on a weak wireless signal on the second floor room when your router is in the basement. The Powerline Ethernet adapter will solve the problem. You could buy multiple receivers and plug them throughout your home. You can also build a nice network to share Internet data, music, movies, and files across multiple users in your home. This device is extremely useful for gaming systems as well.

If you build a home network, be sure to use advanced threat protection. You wouldn’t want unauthorized programs taking control of your home network!

 

Humans Are Obsolete!

My boss informed me that another employee was replacing me. The new employee was far better then me and would never take a day off. The new employee would never fall sick, never ask for overtime pay, and had nothing to do with the union. The new employee would not waste time near the water cooler socializing with other employees and would never waste time on Facebook. The new employee would never get stressed out, or have a nervous breakdown. The new employee would never get tired and will work tirelessly forever. Most importantly, the new employee will never get injured and sue the company for compensation.

Meet 1557. The new employee is a robot. This robot just replaced me in the warehouse today. This is the reality.

Amazon acquired Kiva Systems for 775 million. Kiva Systems makes robots for moving items in large warehouses. The task that was performed by humans will now be taken over by robots. All the fulfillment centers will implement the robotic systems designed by Kiva Systems as Amazon strives to be more efficient in this tough economy. Here is a really cool video about how these robots work independently in a warehouse.

Foxconn International Group – the company that manufactures smartphones for Apple and other companies – also plans to implement robotic systems to replace humans. This would resolve employee complaints of repetitive stress injury and employee suicides due to high stress.

Amazon has set a dangerous precedent that gives rise to critical questions:

  • Reliability – can we rely on untested technology that has not been around for long?
  • Security – how do we ensure that unauthorized users don’t take control of robots and wreak havoc?
  • Failsafe – what are the chances of Artificial Intelligence taking control of multiple robots? Is there a failsafe?
  • Ethical Issues – is it right to replace humans with robots? First, it was outsourcing, and then came the deadly recession, and now there is competition with Robots? It is obviously impossible for humans to compete with robots.

It would be disastrous if the software in robotic systems gets corrupted or is taken over by malware. Moreover, if Artificial Intelligence takes over the robots, we are doomed!

How do you fight an army of robots running berserk in the city?