Tag Archives: Apple

Talk about an Apple premium!

Way, WAY back in the day I had an Apple IIe, and I loved it. So much so that I still have it, as well as a few other vintage Apples including a Power Mac, a Mac Classic, IIc, and the very rare Bell & Howell black Apple IIe. Here’s a picture of the Power Mac and the Bell & Howell in my garage, along with some additional Apple floppy drives and an old AT&T PC just visible on the right for good measure.

You can smell the vintage

You can smell the vintage

But I always wanted to get my hands on one of the original motherboards designed by Steve Wozniak in the Cupertino garage at the home of Steve Jobs’ parents, which, by the way, is right down the street from where I (and they) went to high school, and just up the street from where I grew up.

Apple’s New Headquarters

See that building? That’s a render of the not-yet-built Apple Computer headquarters in Cupertino, California. I think that is a great design, one very representative of what Apple has always tried to do, and that’s merge design and technology.

I’m also partial to it because it’s only about two miles from the house where I grew up – I’ve driven by that corner countless times. The field it’s in used to have this big, old dead tree that my dad thought was the greatest thing he’d ever seen, and even pulled over once so he could get a picture of me standing in front of it, and that was only a few years ago. Now, it’s going to be the site of that great building. Apple headquarters has always been in Cupertino; As a kid I rode my bike, and later drove when I was still sort-of a teenager, past the Apple campus more times than I could ever count, and I even attended Homestead High, the very same school that both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak attended. I grew up in an Apple town.

And that’s why I’m so glad to see this building coming into reality (someone even flew a drone over the construction). As you might expect, a building like that could only have been born from the mind of Steve Jobs, and he appeared personally before the planning committee, who were clearly honored by his presence, to appeal for the permission to build. You can see it below.

Now, Tim Cook, the current head of Apple, has stated that it will be the greenest building on the planet. I’d imagine it would be, considering it’s design and the technology being incorporated into it. Surprisingly enough, there haven’t been a lot of renders or mockups of it, but the CNN video below has some good detail, and it’s worth a look. It might be the first building I’ve ever seen that actually looks like one you’d see in a movie about what a future-y future might look like (a good future, not an Omega Man or Mad Max or Idiocracy future).

It’s still a couple of years before it will be completed, but it would be a nice legacy if this building inspired others to follow suit in design, just like some of their technology did.

The FBI’s facial recognition system comes online

Privacy and security come up a lot with technology, and if you’re the suspicious type, something may seem awfully suspicious about this. The FBI has announced “Full Operational Capability” of it’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, which has been in development for three years and serves as an umbrella biometric identification system that will incorporate facial recognition and fingerprint identification capabilities along with things like voice prints sand other abilities.

For the fingerprint aspect of the system, NGI will be replacing the bureau’s current Integrated Automated Fingerprint identification System (IAFIS), which no one seems to mind. It’s the new facial recognition capabilities that have people riled up.

This new facial recognition component, the Interstate Photo System, is intended to treat faces like fingerprints; using automated software to scan photos of people and match the face in a photograph to a face already in the database. In other words, just like with fingerprints, if law enforcement has a photo of someone, they can compare it to the images in their database of faces, and the system will return 50 likely candidates. The database is expected to have over 50 million faces by next year.

Many states are already participating in the program, as can be seen in the map below. MOU, in the legend, means ‘Memorandum of Understanding,’ which is simply an agreement on an ideal between two parties, it indicates they are on the same page about something.

States participating in NGI

States participating in NGI

It has been decried, of course, by many groups including the main anti-monitoring group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is often at odds with government at all levels for their surveillance and monitoring practices. The big issue is the possibility of false positives, or accuracy in general, which is the main issue the EFF takes. From reports, of the 50 faces returned, there is an 80 percent probability that the actual matching face will be returned in the results. However, the system has already had success and I suspect will continue to expand rapidly in practice.

This is a sensitive subject, so let me make a couple of comments: First, as we have already said on this site, privacy and security are mutually exclusive. If you want one, you give up some of the other. You can’t have complete privacy and complete security. In this day and age, with what is happening in the world, the balance of one versus the other is a seemingly impossible judgement.

Also, Facebook and Apple have been using facial recognition for years and no one seemed to mind. In fact, here in Las Vegas s have been using it for YEARS for essentially – but not quite – the same purpose the FBI now claims and we’ve been ok with it. Priorities, I suppose.

You can see an unclassified PowerPoint presentation about the system that has a few additional details at this link.

So here’s what apple talked about

You may or may not know this already, but at their big reveal Apple on the 9th Apple announced Apple Pay, the new iWatch with its new dev kit and it’s health-monitoring abilities (the even teamed up with the Mayo Clinic!), iOS8, and of course revealed the iPhone 6 in two sizes, with an amazing screen, and camera, and running on the new A8 CPU. Also, iUh-Oh (actually, this always happens).

It was a lot, actually, and a lot of exciting announcements. There are many places you can read about all of those, and to avoid one of my overly-lengthy posts I have provided some links as you can see. However it is in the glow of all these wonderful reveals that I think it’s important to remember the ones who came before, and mourn a death in the Apple family.

I’m not referring to Steve Jobs, although his loss was tragic and far too soon. There will never be another like him, and without him Apple would never have achieved what it has achieved; this industry needed him. He was a master of design and reading the marketplace, his passing was an insurmountable loss, and just like with Elvis, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news.

In this case, however, I want to mourn a different Apple-related loss; the death of the original iPod. Today, with the revamp of the Apple store, the original, hard-disk and rotational input-wheel is no longer supported or offered by Apple. How interesting that it was that very patent on the business card I showed in class, and on which I have based a post that will be going up on Thursday.

So long, buddy.

So long, buddy.

It’s ok, really, since we’re light-years beyond that technology anyway. But as a historian of the industry it’s always sad when something – especially something so influential – reaches the end of its life. To quote Indian Jones, “it belongs in a museum!

It’s the big (apple) day!

Today is the day that Apple will finally make its big reveal. Everyone is expecting the iPhone 6, that isn’t news. In fact, people have already started lining up for it!

No, the big story is what else they’re going to announce. The standard response is that it will be the iWatch, although there’s no certainty. Well, there’s a lot of certainty, just not total certainty. There’s also the new version of Apple’s mobile operating system iOS8, mobile payments, and health tracking.

We’ll see. The whole thing will be livestreamed over on Apple’s site at 10am (assuming you’re using a Mac and Safari), so if you’re interested and properly specced, head over and iWatch it all unfold live. Since this is also a defining moment for Apple CEO Tim Cook, whatever they do needs to be spectacular.

iWatch incoming

Now there’s a surprise! Well, not really. We all know 9/9/14 is going to be a big reveal. Hopefully, anyway. We don’t want to be let down.

We have smartphones, so why not smartwatches? Everyone appears to want to get into the smartwatch market. There is Android Wear, Samsung Galaxy Wear, the Google/LG smartwatch, Razer Nabu and entries form Microsoft and Sony.

The header image of this post is the proposed iWatch (which isn’t an official name, by the way) that was presented over on Tom’s Guide, and I have to say it looks like a pretty nifty device. It is also believed that it will have not just the ability to display apps, but will have various health-monitoring functions and present alerts as well.

I wondered how it would actually clip to the wrist in a secure fashion, and how it’s health monitoring function would actually work if the fit wasn’t tight. But I like the way it looks and the additional functionality make it appealing.

This would be nifty too.

This would be nifty too.

Sadly, I also learned it may not look anything like that, and will instead come across as much more pedestrian as you can see over on CNN Money. Their byline even says ‘See Blueprints for Apple’s Smartwatch” and it looks like a regular, square faced watch.

I didn’t think people wore watches too much these days anyway, but I have no numbers to back that up. I haven’t worn one for years, and there has been evidence that smart devices/phones are used for that purpose more and more, even all the way back in 2005 (and don’t miss the picture on that page!).

But now they are, apparently, coming back. I’m ok with it, and after having become troubled about the standard watch-y design the new iWatch will supposedly have, this article over at Gizmodo says the design is still way up in the air and even hint at a design more akin to the one at the top of this post. Here’s another example from artist Todd Hamilton, as presented on the linked page. It’s pretty nifty.

This looks appropriately Apple

This looks appropriately Apple

I feel that if you’re going to make a smartwatch, you shouldn’t force yourself into standard watch design. Make it something unique, especially since we ultimately just don’t know how how well they work in the first place.