Category Archives: Technology

Drop the version number in next iPhone

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are out, people are raving about them.  It won’t be long now until the rumor mill stars up for what will be touted as Apple iPhone 7.  (running iOS 9)  Give it just a little time, it’s coming.

I believe we are likely to see Apple release this next version as just “iPhone”.  I’d actually love to see them just drop the “plus” and “s” monikers from the lines entirely.   If you look at the full set of names over time, it feels clunky compared to what Apple is known for.  It’s not quite as bad as Microsoft branding, but it’s not great.

  • iPhone (2007)
  • iPhone 3G (2008)
  • iPhone 3Gs (2009)
  • iPhone 4 (2010)
  • iPhone 4S (2011)
  • iPhone 5 (2012)
  • iPhone 5S (2013)
  • iPhone 5C (2013)
  • iPhone 6 (2014)
  • iPhone 6 Plus (2014)
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It started to get strange early on.  Why was the second iPhone called 3G?  Oh, because they wanted to tie the model to the faster 3G network.  Then what happens when you want to improve upon that name?  Make it the 3Gs.  (wait, is that a plural?  or is the ’S’ symbolic of something?)  As it turns out, the S was meant for SPEED.   Does this imply the 3G was not fast?

Okay, so I am clear now.  The number on my iPhone means what network I can use?  So the 4 is 4G?  Oh wait.. no.  I have to wait for the iPhone 5 for 4G speeds?  (let’s not get into the TMO/ATT debacle of calling 3G HSPA, 4G.  We all know 4G globally was lining up to mean LTE)

Let’s take a bit of a detour here.  Remember iPad?

  • iPad (2010)
  • iPad 2 (2011)
  • iPad (3rd generation, but just called iPad) (Early 2012)
  • iPad Mini (late 2012)
  • iPad (4th generation, but just called iPad) (late 2012)
  • iPad Air (late 2013)
  • iPad Mini (with Retina Display) (early 2014)

Apple started going with a named approach, and scrapping the version numbers.  I feel like they were getting better on this line.  We did get size as part of the naming convention, but it made sense.   I don’t agree with using Retina as part of the name.  Give it a premium name, just don’t call out a technical feature.  I am not sure why, but it drives me a bit nuts.   I get why they name iMacs with the size screen in them.  People are used to screen sizes as a strong callout.  I don’t agree with the core processor speed being part of a name.  (although Apple’s website sort of shows them in that way)

I understand why they went with iPad Air. It was lighter.  Did you intend to have another iPad in market that was heavier?   iPad and iPad Air?  No.  Hmm..so what happens when they next iPad comes out that is lighter than the Air?    Is is the iPad AirS?  (S meaning Somewhat Lighter) ?

Summary

Getting back on track here.  I just wish they’d simplify the lines.  Next release, just tell us about the iPhone.   We can all talk about the iPhones.  I don’t need to be saying that I have the iPhone 14S in 10 more years.  I’d love to see Apple simplify the naming across the board.

  • iPhone Mini (current iPhone size)
  • iPhone (iPhone 6 size)
  • iPhone Plus (I am ok with this based on size being larger)
  • iPad Mini
  • iPad
  • iPad Plus (you know they will come out with a bigger iPad soon)
  • iMac (21.5” size)
  • iMac Plus (27” size)
  • AppleTV

Then.. tell me about spec level details later.  How much RAM, Drive space, etc…Does it have a Retina display or not, does it have 4G, 5G, 6G speeds.. hell, I care/don’t care.  I want an iPhone, then I want to look into the specs.   Get out of the rat race of naming, keeping up with the Jones, etc. Just simplify the naming down to a more consumer friendly name that makes sense over time.

You are welcome world.  I didn’t solve any real problem with this rant, but it did make me feel better by getting my naming convention frustration off my chest.

 

You Too Can Participate in the Fragmentation of Wearables

For those that know me, I may be a bit of a gadget geek.  I think the first step in fixing a problem would be to admit you have one.  The challenge is, I have no intention of fixing my tech-trending life.  I enjoy it.  I think I counted over 10 phones I have had in the past two years.  (much to my wife’s dismay)

Lately I have been focused on wearable computing.  While not participating in all of the gadgets, I am very much interested in this space.   The only wearable I currently have is my Pebble Watch.   I must admit, I enjoy it but it is in it’s infancy.   It doesn’t do everything I’d like and I am not sure it ever will.

Pebble Watch

Pebble Watch

As a product manager by trade, I always think about the process when a product was coming to market.  What problem were they trying to solve?   Wearables are trying to solve user problems that fall into a couple different buckets as I see them.  First you have notifications.  Can this device stop me from pulling out my true personal computer (mobile phone) every time it buzzes or rings?  Second I see some lightweight utility apps.  (think navigation or weather)   Finally, the big bucket I look forward to is a bit more predictive information.  Now, to be fair, predictive information as a category can be hard to quantify.  Are they really notifications just being sent to the wearable?  (Google Now).  Is the mobile device doing more of the computing and the wearable is just a display?  I think both could be true.  The difference in my mind is the sensors that a wearable can bring to provide the context necessary to “surprise and delight” me as a customer.

Here is where things get challenging for someone like me.  What problem do I care about being solved by a given piece of technology?  While I am perfectly fine with glancing at my watch to see a notification about my upcoming meeting, I have learned I am less happy with getting my text messages on my wrist.  Why?  Consider this.  How rude is it to pull out your phone to check a text while in conversation?   (I personally try to never do that).  I assumed I could just glance at my wrist and still stay focused on the conversation at hand.  What happened?  Now I just appear to be bored with you and I am checking the time constantly.   Something I didn’t anticipate.   For me, glancing up at something like Google Glass would be much more appropriate for incoming text notifications.  Subtle yet available if I need them.

I am still trying to figure out in my own head which wearable solves which problems better for me.   As for now, until I am a little more clear, it makes it harder to think through the next problem.. WHICH wearable of which type to purchase.

Smart Watches

The big challenge here is what capabilities and devices will survive the fragmentation challenges of the Smart watch world.

Pebble ($150)
Great notification watch with some simple applications.  Pebble is really focused on building out a world-class SDK that developers can leverage. I still have high hopes here.

Martian Watches ($250-$300)
These watches tout voice control as their big differentiator.  The screens don’t lend themselves to much digital real-estate however they are really nice watches with a little more.

I’m Watch ($350)
Great looking watch with it’s own developer platform as well.  (although I don’t see this getting as much press)

Sony Smartwatch 2 ($200)
The screen and stock capabilities do pretty good here although developer support is not as strong

Samsung Galaxy Gear ($300)
I believe this is one of the more promising platforms, although for whatever reason they have decided to only sell it for a select few Samsung devices.  Bad move in my view. If you want developer support, make it worth their while by being broadly available.

 Glasswear

These devices are a bit more on the geeky side, but I still want one eventually.  I believe I will hold our for at least 1-2 more revisions.  The big challenge as above, how do you attract the right developers to get your platform to move forward.  I think it will be key for these guys to just flat out fund key applications to get done right.  If not, it will be seen as a gap when you are missing key apps.

The two key ones I am watching are:

Google Glass ($1500)
Obviously the big news-getter here.  Lots of cool things happening.  I think we’ve only scratched the surface of the potential here.

Meta-Pro ($3500)
These guys are going ultra high-end.  I am excited to see what they are doing.  It seems they have quite a developer following as well.

Oakley, Oculon and others are trying to get into this space as well. Oddly enough, it seems as though more devices are landing in this space in 2014 than great new watch ideas.   Check out this article for more glasses.

Summary

My challenge is to really decide what capabilities are going to be in the device I think best serves that need for me before I pick a winner.  Getting a Kickstarter Pebble Edition was just an eye opener for me as to where things are going.  Fragmentation for developers will continue to be a problem. If the program owners for these devices can fund key apps, they can mitigate risk and increase positive perception amongst the mass market.

If you are interested, you can check out my Pebble Watch Faces and others posts.

iMac Hard Drive Madness

I have had an issue recently with my hard drive going effing bezerk.  It would sit there and spin like mad, make all the noise in the world and take up resources like it was a blue whale sucking in ocean water.  It was driving me nuts.  Oh.. and one other thing, my volume adjustments from my keyboard were delayed anywhere from 5-10 seconds for every press.Odd.

 

Every article I read had these pointers to try to see if your hard drive is failing.  While I had doubts that was my issue, I followed them to be sure I passed the sniff test.  Funny thing is, I don’t even worry about hard drives failing anymore.  I keep almost nothing in my local drive that isn’t in the cloud, so if it fails, I am probably 99% safe on all my content.

 

Anyway, I finally tried a couple of things that helped my issue.  First thing to note is the volume delay was a different problem from the hard drive spinning constantly.

 

Hard Drive Fix

To fix the hard drive spinning, it seems like it has come down to the way Spotlight was indexing my content.  Here is the solution I got from the Apple Website

 

 From the Apple () menu, choose System Preferences.
 Click Spotlight.
 Click the Privacy tab.
 Drag a folder or an entire volume (your hard drive) to the list.
 If prompted for confirmation, click OK.
 Remove the item or volume you just added to the list by clicking it and then clicking the minus ("-") button.
 Close Spotlight preferences.
 Spotlight will re-index the contents of the folder or volume

Volume Fix

To fix the volume issue, it turns out I had to reset the NVRAM and PRAM.  This was a simple fix but seems to have done the trick.   It turns out, something in the PRAM controls your volume on your system. If it gets out of whack. it can be flakey.

 

Here is the fix for resetting the PRAM
Shut down your Mac.
Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command (⌘), Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.
Turn on the computer.
Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys before the gray screen appears.
Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the second time.
Release the keys

Hopefully this helps someone else out.

Get your Christmas Pebble Watchface

I was messing around with a couple Christmas watch faces for my Pebble.  I think things got a little out of hand with creating them.  Initially I wasn’t going to share them out.. but decided to.  I grabbed some images from the web.. and  hadn’t sourced the clip arts.. if you see something of yours and want it down, just holler. I will try to go back and dig up sources.

Here are some sample screenshots:

skitch 2 skitch 3 skitch 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find the full list and download the PBW files right here:

 http://goo.gl/uxU1gr

This URL is mobile friendly and you can directly load the watch faces from there.

If any of these graphics are yours and you want me to take them down, holler.

 

 

Using Pebble for my Starbucks Card

OK, this was not my idea..but in many discussions about people using their Pebble watch for barcodes, I thought I’d try it out.  I gotta say, it works great and you get a lot of geek-cred with the baristas.  (if that means much these days).

 

Here is what I did.

 

Step 1:  Take a screenshot of your Starbucks card on your phone

 

Starbucks Card Screenshot - iOS

Step 2: Crop your bar code and make a graphic to be used on your watchface.  (144×168).

Step 3:  Upload the image to the watch face generator here

Step 4: Follow steps to size and save your watchface.  You can then load it to your device.

Here is an example of how mind turned out.

(slightly modified of course to not show my real card)

Strabucks Card on Pebble

Strabucks Card on Pebble

Torg’s Mini Holiday Gift Guide

The Holiday Season is upon us.  More and more people are looking to gadgets as a good gift.  If I look back just a few years ago, no where near as many of my family and friends were into their Smartphone, now they are a daily staple in our lives.   This love for technology has extended to other parts of our lives as well and this is my list of some great gadgets and gifts for friends.

 

Sonos Play 1 ($199)

If you have have not heard of Sonos before and you love music, be prepared to fall in love.  Sonos is a fantastic multi-room speaker system that lets you stream music to speakers in the house in the most simple and elegant way.  You can stream different music to different zones, and have up to 32 zones in your house.  The Play 1 is their entry speaker that will get you going on the Sonos bug, or be a great fill in for rooms you need to fill with sound.

 

http://www.sonos.com/shop/products/play1-bridge

 

Sonos Play 1

Sonos Play 1

 

 

Anker® Astro 3E 10000mAh External Battery Pack ($39.99)

These little battery packs are great for saving your bacon when you are out and about.   This one is big enough to charge your tablet and phones at the same time.  Great gift for people that have a gadget addiction and burn through their battery.  (Isn’t that all of us?)

 

Battery Pack

Battery Pack

 

 

 

Tiltpod – iPhone Mini Tripod ($30)

I had this for the 4S.. need to get it for my 5.  I loved this little thing.  Always handy on the keychain and works really well.

Check them out here: http://gomite.com/products/tiltpod-stand-iphone-5

Tiltpod

Tiltpod

 

 

 

Round 1.. more to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Trying out a new backup solution

OK, so I am still struggling finding an offsite backup that I am really happy with.  For the bulk of day to day files, I am happy with Dropbox being an option.  I keep my photos archived locally on my Drobo unit.. but I need that offsite archive.

As of today, I am trying out Arq and Amazon Glacier.  Glacier is ultra cheap for backing up files offsite.  If you want to retrieve them, retrieval is at the expense of money and time.   It takes 4 hours and cost depending on how fast you want to download your backup.  My thought is this, if I am in need of the offisite backup, something went horribly wrong, and the money is worth is.

arq_cloud_backup_for_mac_glacier

So, for now I am starting the upload process of pictures.  It could take a few weeks to get it all backed up, but I will keep this posted and let you know how it goes

Windows Phone Omnigraffle Templates

I had come across some old templates I made while working on something else..but hey, a revival is a revival.  They are a bit dated, but still useful. They are original Windows Phone 7 templates.

Find them on Graffletopia here
https://www.graffletopia.com/stencils/652

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My Backup Process

I am very particular about the backups of files that I have.   The main reason for this is my fear of losing digital photos, but in general, this is how I approach it.  (and to be clear, I am forever refining)

Goal for my backups:  at least 3 copies of all files I deem critical, one of those copies must be offsite.  (meaning out of my house)

The original is my original files/folders on my computer.

First Backup (local)
My first line of defense took a while to get to.  I was forever copying files to USB drives and trying to keep those in sync.  It was a little bit of a pain, but it worked.  Finally I wanted to have a nice local network place to backup my original files.   I settled on Drobo.  A DroboFS to be specific.  The great thing about the Drobo units is you can add, or hot-swap hard drives as you use them. Drobo makes RAID simple for duplicating your data across multiple drives and you don’t have to sweat over it. Very good systems. Not the cheapest.. but well worth it.
I setup drobo to monitor and sync certain folders (like my photos folder).  I think I eventually landed on manually copying new files to Drobo just to feel like it’s a little more precise.  Not sure why but sometimes it felt like I wanted that extra assurance.

Second Back (offsite)
For years I tried the likes of Carbonite, Back Blaze, etc.   While they worked, they were not quite what I was looking for.  I wanted not only backup, but some cloud storage.  This is where Bitcasa comes in.

Think of Bitcasa as an online USB drive that is infinite in size. No more worrying about how much you put there. The other cool thing it does is allows for mirroring of folders on your computer to the cloud.  This is the backup piece of Bitcasa.   I mirror my music, pictures, documents, movies, etc.   They are accessible on any other machine I use with Bitcasa and no worrying about an offsite backup now .
evernote-logo

 

 

Evernote is a daily use product for me.  I’ve been using it since it’s very old days.. prior to it’s current incarnation, but I LOVE it’s new (new in 2007?) direction.  The idea is that you place anything and everything into Evernote and don’t worry about remembering it.  Evernote will make it available on all of your devices.

Recommendation:  Must have notes/memory app

hdd-mini-5d-enclosure-image-picture-logo-storage-thunderbolt-drobo

 

SITE: http://www.drobo.com

I use the Drobo FS for in-home redundant backup.  The great thing about the Drobo units is you can add, or hot-swap hard drives as you use them.  Drobo makes RAID simple for duplicating your data across multiple drives and you don’t have to sweat over it.  Very good systems.  Not the cheapest.. but well worth it.

Music and technology coming together in a big way for me

Today was my last day at Microsoft.  One of many jobs that has shaped my career.

I’ve been in the tech space for quite some time now.   To be more precise, I have really been focused in mobile for the past 14 years.  My life in mobile started out in 1998 when I was working as a developer on the AT&T Pocket Net Service.. the first yellow pages on phones in the US.   Think back to 1998.. were you using data on your phone?   Most likely not (a reason that product never really took off I guess)   I am pretty sure my family and friends thought I was on crack for wanting to bring mobile sites to cell phones.

It was a long-fought journey to get to today… but for all the pain and lack of glory, I am thrilled with the accomplishments I have made to mobile.  The things users got to do based on work that was done by teams I worked with.  Strategy and planning that ultimately panned out.   As many of you know, mobile is a passion, not for the feint of heart.   If you don’t LOVE it.. and I mean TRULY love it, you will burn out.   It’s a pain.

For the first time in well over a decade I am going to be doing a new job that is not 100% focused in mobile.  Sure, there will be some mobile components to it, but it’s just a portion of what I am doing.   I am heading over to Rhapsody.   WOOT!   I have been a Rhapsody subscriber for nearly a decade.. love the product and I am thrilled to have a chance to work with the team.

I’ll get more details out on @torgerson on Twitter as things get rolling.  It is an amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to start.   Bringing my passion and experience in the industry I know.. to learn a whole new business.   I am up for the challenge.  There is something to be said for doing what you love.