March 6, 2018

Link: Benchmarking In Your Pants Again ☍

Craig Hockenberry compares the original iPhone with the iPhone X in raw processing power and the results are (unsurprisingly) staggering. Most new iPhones are compared with their predecessors, so this longer evolution is fascinating to see. If you look back at the original post, which compares these tests on an original iPhone to a contemporary iMac, that makes the evolution seem even more dramatic.

February 27, 2018

Link: Racing to 5G ☍

Right now, all of the wireless carriers and Dish Network are sharing plans for their new 5G networks. While I think good LTE is very satisfactory, the promise of 5G for things like home Internet, IoT, and other smarter devices is fascinating. In my case, I could go from two home Internet options to seven, and that competition would be amazing. At this point, all the carriers are announcing plans of cities to be the first to 5G, and it looks like Sprint is still going to be later to the party than some of its competitors, but it will be market dependent.

If you read this site regularly, you may recall that I did a tear-down exercise on Sprint in early 2016, as I think it’s a company with a lot of potential, but filled with mediocrity. Most of what I wrote didn’t happen and the company has mostly been drifting along since then. I’d bet the farm on 5G and offer it everywhere fast. You might not convince people to get your phones (and backwards device-provisioning), but there are plenty of places where Sprint offers some sort of service. That could be prime to steal home and small business Internet from wireline companies like Comcast, Spectrum, AT&T, CenturyLink, and whomever else people grumble about on a monthly basis. Even as someone who has been critical in the past, I’d be willing to give their 5G service a try. The wireless companies can offer home Internet almost as frictionless as streaming services.

Link: The #1 Reason Facebook Won’t Ever Change ☍

Om Malik:

Facebook’s (much deserved) media nightmare continued this week when it came under criticism for spamming members who signed up for two-factor authentication. This was followed by charges that its Protect VPN software (based on its Onava CDN) was essentially corporate spyware. The collective outrage over Facebook and its actions might result in a lot of talk, but it won’t really change Facebook, its ethos, and its ethics. Let me explain!

A few years ago, I wrote that companies have a core genetic profile and it is tough for them to deviate from it. That DNA defines every action, reaction, and a strategic move made by a company. The DNA represents a company’s ethos — and to a large extent, its ethics. Microsoft was and will always be a desktop software company, albeit one that is doing its best to adapt to the cloud and data-centric world. It has turned its desktop offerings into smart revenue streams on the cloud.

I fully subscribe to this core-genetic-profile argument, and looking at all the moves lately, Facebook is desperately trying to get us all back on.

Link: Bored People Quit ☍

Rands with an oldie, but goodie:

You call on the motivation and retention police because you believe they can perform the legendary “diving save”. Whether it’s HR or a well-intentioned manager with a distinguished title, these people scurry impressively. Meetings that go long into the evening are instantly scheduled with the disenfranchised employee.

It’s an impressive show of force, and it sometimes works, but even if they stay, the damage has been done. They’ve quit, and when someone quits they are effectively saying, “I no longer believe in this company”. What’s worse is that what they were originally thinking was, “I’m bored”.

Boredom is easier to fix than an absence of belief.

Even though this post was written in 2011, I came across it recently and it had me thinking about all the frustrating and annoying things in the world of technology. Granted, this can be applied to an even larger scope, but there’s a lot of companies that were once mighty that even as a customer (or user), I’m finding myself no longer believing in. In another way, you may have noticed some silence on this site for about the past month—outside of the HomePod launch, there just hasn’t been much that has interested me. This site isn’t going anywhere, but a little hiatus from time to time can be a good thing.

January 10, 2018

Link: Thoughts on Kids and Apple Devices ☍

Yesterday, John Gruber shared an story about an open letter from two of the biggest investors on Wall Street asking Apple to study the health effects of its products and to make it easier for parents to limit their children’s use of iPhones and iPads:

This open letter is getting a lot of attention, but to me, the way to limit your kids’ access to devices is simply, well, to limit their access to devices. I’m sure iOS’s parental controls could be improved (and in a statement, Apple claims they have plans to do so), but more granular parental controls in iOS are no substitute for being a good, involved parent.

Naturally, Gruber received a lot of negative responses to this comment, but I can’t say I disagree with him. The whole discussion made me think back to my childhood and all the tempting electronic gadgets that were around the house and how even when I was home alone, I understood the expectations (for context, I didn’t have a super-strict upbringing and did get into my share of trouble). Unsurprisingly, I was quite proficient with and interested in computers from a young age, but still wasn’t rushing to play games the second I got home from school. We also didn’t have to lock down everything where I’d need something like a gas-station-bathroom-key to get on the computer.

A number of commenters seemed to overlook the fact that Gruber is agreeing that Apple could improve parental controls. Personally, I think any improvements in that area are welcome, especially for blocking inappropriate content. However, there have been too many instances where iOS devices (and Android devices, too) are handed to a kid as some sort of babysitter and only after this becomes a problem, parents start demanding a way to undo bad behaviors. A few years back, I recall a family going out to eat at a restaurant and the two kids were deeply engrossed with their iPads—in my childhood, I recall that dining out was sort of treated as a special event, and in the 10-15 minutes of time before the food was brought out, we interacted as a family. In that example, the iPads probably shouldn’t have left the car or even the house.

I wonder if the bigger question is the role social media plays when coupled with these devices, but Apple is the bigger target for this discussion to gain momentum. A few more parental controls or finding that yes, Apple devices are addictive to only kids and not everyone isn’t going to fix the issue. It’s up to each family to set expectations and develop good habits, assisted with software on the devices, Wi-Fi router, or cellular provider.

By the way, I hate that the the open letter starts with a pop-up forcing you to agree to the terms before viewing it.