Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amazon Kindle Fire - an iPad Killer?

Finally the new kindle fire is announced and ready for preorder. The 7 inch full color touch screen costs only $199 and is available November 15th.

This is $300 less than the cheapest iPad. The kindle has almost similar battery power, dual core fast processor, 8GB memory and supports flash.

I am not sure if it will be yet an iPad contender. The Kindle screen is much smaller and the Kindle has no camera like the first iPad. The design looks cheaper than the iPad and the kindle is more an entertainment toy than the iPad. However the kindle will eventual replace the original kindle (which has ink paper) and many other low end tablets. The big plus of the Kindle is the Amazon cloud. The user can store "unlimited" data in the amazon cloud, even if the kindle has only 8GB memory. Therefore there is not much memory needed, but it is still enough memory for an 8 hour flight to watch downloaded movies. Amazon cloud can compete very well with Apple and is even much cheaper. Amazon has over 10.000 movies and 17 million songs to choose from. The Kindle Store offers over 1 million books, including 800,000 titles at $9.99 or less. In addition, over 2 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available.

No other company than Apple, Amazon and Google can yet offer such big amount of music, books etc.

The complete package around the kindle is compelling. They even want to give the user the fastest browsing experience with cloud cached websites, which Amazon calls Silk. Amazon Silk is a revolutionary, cloud-accelerated browser that uses a "split browser" architecture to leverage the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services cloud.

The whole product page at amazon is a comparison the the iPad. The iPad is even named when Amazon tries to explain the display. Another hint to Apple is the note that you don't need a computer, everything syncs over the air.

Please go to the product page, it actually makes fun to read.

I of course did preorder the Kindle, but I need to wait 8 weeks before I know how good it is.

I think the Kindle Fire will take 3 to 5 million from the iPad market and will be for a while the second strongest tablet, because of the price and service Amazon offers. But it will not replace the iPad in higher income customer class. For sure it will take a lot of market share from the existing Apple competitions.

The Kindle runs on an Android version modified by Amazon. It is not clear if other apps than the ones offered from Amazon can be installed on the Kindle Fire.

So far what I saw, I have to say I like it. Not that this is best tablet ever, but the price is very very nice.

But the kindle is two step further away from a computer than the iPad. The kindle is the real in between device between phone and iPad (:))

Buying the Kindle is not a mistake and no waste of money, something we can have in addition to our iPad.

It is interesting that Amazon sells their hardware to sell their Service, and Apple sells their service to sell their hardware.

So similar they both are and so different they are.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please follow me @schlotz69

Location:Spinning Wheel Ln,Brooksville,United States

Let's talk iPhone - October 4th

Apple did send this week invitations for the upcoming event on October 4th out. Like many other invitations, it is cryptic and does not tell us a lot. Or does it? The invitation is very clear "let's talk iPhone"

We know it will be about the new iPhone and we do not know much more. However with Apple it seems never anything randomly.

At the past they had always something "new" at the event. Like the first smart phone without a keyboard, the first phone with a retina display or the first computer which is not a phone nor a notebook.

"let's talk iPhone" why this headline? I think Apple will introduce their way for voice recognition.

Voice recognition on phone is not new. Google has already some voice recognition on Androids and the google app allows you to browse using your voice.
But now Apple's taking up the torch, and if rumors prove true it's not just adding speech tech to the iPhone... it's transforming the device into something new again, starting a whole new paradigm. If it works for Apple, expect others to follow.

We all wondered for a while about how Apple was going to mix Nuance speech recognition tech with its iOS devices, and how the technology it acquired when it bought Siri (the firm behind an artificially inteligent assistant) would emerge.

9to5Mac claims that Apple's "Assistant" is going to combine all of this technology into one powerful system, that runs throughout the upcoming iOS5 and the new iPhone.

I tested dragon, google voice and a few others but it never appealed to me to use voice instead of my fingers. However, I am missing forever the ability to listen to music and when I get a call to listen who the caller is. I still need to take the phone out of the pocket to see who is calling. Maybe with the new iPhone it will change.

Maybe the iPhone can talk to us and we can talk back. After-all it would make sense to go to the next level. The phone was originally invented to hear and talk, why not taking the hands out of the play once again.

We use our fingers for many things we do with the phone, not because we want, but because it is easier. Voice dial is horrible, works almost never (for people like me with strong accent).

Siri was actually a good app. You could ask for a dinner on Friday and you got a list of restaurants back, but only in text and images and not as voice.

It is only a few days left till Apple hosts the event, and I am eager to see how much weight the talk in "let's talk iPhone" has.

I think, if Apple does build their event around new iPhone and voice recognition, then it will be different than we saw before, and there will be a two way communication. Not only will the iPhone understand us, but as well respond with voice.
Apple voice Assistant interfaces with WolframAlpha--Stephen Wolfram's "fact computer" that can intelligently understand data-specific questions and return meaningful suggestions.
This means I could, ask my iPhone how many shopping days remain until Halloween, where the the nearest mall is and how often Germany lost in a world cup against England in one second and it will fed back to you from WA's computational systems all answers almost instantly.

As we know, Apple seldom does invent something really new. They are reinventing existing technologies or methods to make them mainstream. This is the real strengths of Apple.

Do you think I am totally off and over interpreting the event headline?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please follow me @schlotz69

Location:Spinning Wheel Ln,Brooksville,United States

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Facebook is changing, will this change the world?

Mark Zuckerberg introduced only 17 months ago the like button. It seems it was around forever, because almost every website has the little blue like button. In the next coming weeks FB will go beyond the the like button with opening their Open Graph. Developers are now able to send more info than "like" back to a Facebook user profile. It will open the world to new verbs like eating, drinking, watching, listening etc. With Open Graph FB users will see when their friends watching a movie or listen to a song and can then at the same time listen to the same song. This is the idea behind. Timeline will be another big change. Facebook new layout will allow users to go easily back in time. Different content types are now placed into blocks.

My wife and i might go to a motorcycle shop and buy a new bike. We might use our smart phone to scan a QR code for more info to a bike. On our Facebook book page would be instantly a message that we are buying right now a bike in XYZ at dealer ABC.

Or you might play a game on your iPhone and in FB will be a post that you recommend the game and just played 16 hours straight. Such new Open Graph features will give developers and companies a new, never seen before way to brand their products and to get more attention.

Especially for app developers on iOS or Android. Both system have together more than a million apps. It is almost not possible as a developer to get users to buy or download their app, and at the same time, it is for users not easy to find the app they are looking for. I searched in the Apple app store for golf and got countless results. The only way to know if an app is good, is to download it or to look at the ratings.
With Open Graph, Facebook will open a new way to find mobile apps. And if a friend is recommending an app, then I might more likely buy or download the app, regardless of other ratings.

Facebook let us build a digital copy of our life. And wants to be the start page when we open a web browser, and be the last page we look on it, before we go to bed.

Which sounds great but is very dangerous. I hear and read a lot of discussions around FB and how it is different than Apple and how open FB is. This is true, they are totally different but Apple might charge developers for their apps a lot or have a walled garden but they don't try to be our digital copy.

Facebook does not charge anything to end users or developers. We all can use FB for free. There are some games with in games purchases but most parts are free. An easy out if the box personal free web page and email address. This is very kind from Facebook. But this has a price. Facebook is collecting all and everything written on their website, they are collecting all clicks and views. From where is the user coming, what he is doing and where did he go. All for the greater good to earn money by very targeted ads.

One company does know more than FBI or any government about 800.000.000 people. And actually Facebook does know even things about people who are not yet in Facebook. My son has of course no FB account, but FB could already know who my wife is, the name of my mother in law and that I have a son an his age. All this is just a matter of data mining, which FB does day in and day out to sell to higher priced and more targeted ads.

Adding timeline and Open Graph, does exactly what Mark Zuckerberg wants:
"Facebook's mission is to make the world more open and connected. We do this by mapping out all of the things you are connected to. … As a first step toward this we made it so you could connect to things by Liking them. … This year we are taking the next step, so that you can connect to anything you want in any way you want. Now you don't have to Like a book, you can just Read a book. You don't have to Like a movie, you can just Watch a movie. You can Eat a meal, Hike a trail, Listen to a song, and connect to anything in any way you want. This will let you make an order of magnitude more connections than before. We are helping to define a new language for people to connect."

Is this not scary? We are all open and connected like in the real life and more. But the biggest difference is, that one will always know everything what happens in the FB country - Mark Zuckerberg.

Maybe Facebook acronym will be soon FBI (Facebook interconnected).

Does anybody remember the Stasi (The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS)?
Stasi in East Germany did try to know everything about their citizen. They had official Stasi employees, but as well many East Germans reporting to the Stasi information about their neighbors. All to keep the country safe.

Facebook is not trying to know everything. Facebook DOES know everything in their world.
As a good citizen, I would argue, that I have nothing to hide and therefore I don't care, if somebody is watching me all the time.

But unfortunately it is not so easy. There are a lot of things we don't know we should better hide. Remember, Palin's email account got hacked, because the hacker found the security phrase on her Facebook page.

Even if Facebook is not taking advantage of their knowledge, somebody will try.

Imagine you do post, that you went to a football game on Wednesday. But for some reason you thought it is better to delete the post. Do you really thing it is deleted because you did hit the delete button? Think twice. Of course it is not deleted. It is still in the DB but just flagged as "by user deleted".

East Germans did not like the Stasi, the wall and the controls and decided to change this and to revolute. It helped, the Stasi is gone and the wall is down. When do we start a revolution against Facebook?

Suddenly we are talking about 20 times more people controlled by one company, not state but company. Who is controlling this company? Who does make sure our data is not exposed or used for wrong doing?

How do I know, when I deleted something, that it is really deleted?

I understand that the situation is a little different. We decided to use Facebook and we decide to put as much or as less information on. We are responsible what we do with our life. However does this give one company the rights to be able to know everything? And remember it goes beyond what we put on Facebook. It is what other people put on Facebook. I could today invent a fake person and upload images to Facebook. Then I tag this image with me and the faked person. Maybe I as well write how great the day with XYZ was. Suddenly FB has info about a person who has no Facebook account or even does not exist.
I can see that FBI will create fake identities in the future by using Facebook.

Somebody could post a picture from a party showing me totally drunk hitting on a woman. I did never upload this image but it is now in Facebook and Facebook never forgets. A friend of this person might see the image, download it and send it to his friend which might be my boss. My boss would fire me, because the woman on this picture is his wife. Now you could say that this is my fault. I should not have been drunk and hitting on a woman.
This is correct, but what is, if this image was taken years before I even worked for my boss, before he met the woman and before I knew there will be something like Facebook?

Before timeline, not many people did upload anything old, so we might not care. But now people will upload and post things from the past. Within a short time FB will know more than anybody else about us even before FB did exist.

Or look at the kids who are using FB today. Do you think the know the impact of their posts and images they do today in 20 years? No they don't and they don't care. But it will be a problem for them in a few years, when they try to find a job and are wondering why nobody wants to hire them.

Somebody would argue that we use the Internet since 20 years and did post always a lot of things. This is true but the difference is that before we did distribute our info or not everybody was on the same website. It was much harder to collect info about people and their behavior because the data was stored on different servers which were owned by different companies.

Maybe it is time that our laws are changing to protect us with this new situation, maybe Facebook needs to be broken down into multiple companies.
What do you think? Am I too negative and FB is the best thing ever happened to us? Is Google better or worse? What about Apple, do they control us?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please follow me @schlotz69

Location:Spinning Wheel Ln,Brooksville,United States

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebook's new face. A complete redesign

I saw today a screenshot of a new feature in Facebook called timeline.

If this will be the new Facebook, then I might come back. It looks clean, organized and easy to use. I really like the boxes for news, songs and activities.

The integration of people picture and album picture is great too.

On top right is a timeline where the user can go back in time to see what happened instead of scrolling down and down and down.

It is a complete new design with a lot of thoughts in there. This can separate FB from Google again. However, I believe there will be many complains from hardcore FB users, it will throw them off, they never like changes.
Look at the difference it is like day and night. I think it is the first time i can say something nice about Facebook.

The only problem of the new design is, that it is not optimized for the iPad, but this is not dramatically because FB will bring with new design as well an iPad app out.

Please compare yourself. Below screenshot of FB today. Below of it, is the new Facebook.

Do you think it is real? Do you think the new layout is better?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please follow me @schlotz69

Location:Spinning Wheel Ln,Brooksville,United States

Monday, September 19, 2011

Apple delays iPhone 5 - manufacturing problems or problems with iOS?

According to reports there may be a delay to the iPhone 5 launch, and lack of supply thereafter.

The New York Times reports Friday Apple will launch a new, sleeker, fancier iPhone 5 before the end of the year. However, the publication notes the device is seeing continued "design and production delays," at least on one assembly line.

When I read through Apple forums, then I get the feeling that the iPhone 5 delay has more to do with the iOS 5 problems.

Found on beat week:

“The crux of it is that iOS 5 still has plenty of problems,” says an iOS developer who only identifies himself as factsahoy. The good news for end-users is that those problems don’t matter yet, at least not to them, as iOS 5 is still in developer beta testing, hence the “iOS 5 beta 7″ terminology. Apple’s stance is that the new iPad and iPhone operating system isn’t yet finished, but it’s far enough along that it’s opened it up to a round of testing on the part of third party app developers. Seven rounds now, in fact. So how’s that testing going ahead of the iOS 5 release date?

“The sheer number of bugs and issues that have been evolving,” says a developer who identifies himself as PlutoPrime. “Getting fixed is too numerous to list here. In fact, in beta 7 alone there are yet so many bugs and outstanding issues that I would be shocked if it didn’t get pushed to a beta 8 or even beta 9 before we talk about a Golden Master copy.” He points to the new iCloud feature as being the chief culprit in the long testing cycle, adding that “For all the applications to work to Apples standards this particular release cycle is perfectly normal.”

In matter of fact the beta 8 version (not golden master) is ready to be released this Friday setting a new record for the number of iOS test builds ever issued by Apple.

This week iOS 5 build is an attempt to iron out all potential bugs ahead of the Golden Master release “around September 23rd.” if Apple misses the date the launch of the iPhone will be moved.

Therefore it makes sense for Apple to claim production issues to prepare the consumers not to get the latest iPhone beginning of October.

Apple must release the iPhone with icloud, to keep on pace with Google, Amazon and even Microsoft who are since years in the cloud active.

I think the iPhone 5 will be the last iPhone which can produce a big hype. All later models can't bring the user as much new (if iPhone 5 has already NFC). Every other iPhone will be faster and more memory but not much more exciting new features. Even the iPhone 5 would not make it to the best phone ever without the new OS. Of course I don't know what cool features the new iPhone will have, but, if it has a better camera (8 mega pixels are expected), a slightly bigger screen, slightly thinner, 4G and NFC, then only 3D (who needs this?) is missing.

What much more could a smartphone have? A build-in projector?
Or maybe Apple might reinvent the smart phone again. You never know with Apple.

I admit I am a big fan of Apple products, but I get tired of all these hypes and questions what will be next. Apple is almost playing the mystery tape too long. It gets old. Even small updates are in press as the coolest and biggest things. At the end, the iPhone is just a phone and there are many on the market which are looking good and are good quality. I chose Apple, because I did want to make a statement. But today a lot of people are choosing Apple, only because the marketing is so good, not because they tested different devices and came to the conclusion that the iPhone or Apple is better in price, quality and features than other phones.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please follow me @schlotz69

Location:Spinning Wheel Ln,Brooksville,United States

Saturday, September 17, 2011

$10 any Mac owner should invest

I don't know how long I am kind of hybrid in terms of computers. I feel like, that I used Apple products forever, but I had always as well a windows computer. I don't have any Windows computer at home, but every company I worked for made me to use Windows OS.

You can imagine that it is sometimes a problem, when switching your brain from one to the other OS. They are not always the same. Some key combinations are different (like copy and paste) and some functionality is not the same neither. It happened twice, that I deleted half of my songs and videos, because I assumed that Mac OS works the same like Windows when copying folders. I learned the hard way, it is not. When you copy in Windows a folder to another, the OS will ask you if yo want to replace or keep original for each file within the folder. Apple Mac OS does only ask once and then all content is either as it was before or overwritten. Means when your source folder had 3 files and target folder 5 files then after the process the target folder contain only 3 files from source nothing more. I did not know this and I honestly don't understand why the Mac OS is not smarter. I am pretty sure I am not the only one, who messed it up.

However, in the app store is a nice little app which works like wonder.

It is folder sync and costs $8.99. It is a great investment. The UI is easy to understand and has a lot of nice settings like scheduled sync. There are a few people who are moved from time machine to folder sync for their backups. I did not go so far, but I synced my three different iTunes folder I got through my earlier copying chaos. I have over 55GB music and 500GB movies. It took for folder sync only a few minutes to see the difference.

The screen is split in two. Left is source and right is target. You can easily see which file is missing, which file is the same or which one has different date or size etc. You can sync the whole folder or only a few items.

In my case folder sync had to move over 5,000 files over wifi and it seemed to be slowly. But I did start it at night and the next morning the files were copied. I can't tell how long it took but it was short enough not to interrupt my work during day.

This app is a must, if you have multiple HDs and copies of same folders everywhere. The best app i found so far to clean up my HDs.

iclean Memory
iclean Memory is a $0.99 app and does wonder.

For some reason my memory seems to get full by doing nothing, since i moved to Lion. I literally do nothing just have firefox open, mail and iTunes and my free memory goes down hour by hour.

iclean memory is a great helper. Just run the app, and you have suddenly 50% more memory available. It seems Apple does not a good job in garbage collection and clean up, but iclean does it for Apple.

However there are some drawbacks. When you start iclean memory, the computer will slow down. I would not recommend to run iclean memory when parallels and time machine backup are running. My iMac, which is certainly not a slow computer, did stop for 2 minutes during the iclean memory process.

But the side effect is pretty small and less a problem than iclean memory helps to speed up your computer.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please follow me @schlotz69

Location:Spinning Wheel Ln,Brooksville,United States

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Apple, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods and Roger Federer did dominate for years their sport in a way not often seen before. Of course they have been outstanding athletes but they had two other advantages. They performed their sport different than anybody before and had the mindset that they only can win. Tiger, as an example, was not only a very good player, but as well much more athletic than many players before him or during his strongest time. He could hit the ball further and faster. He could move his body more than anybody else. The other players, on the other hand, did almost fear to play against him, just because he was so strong, that he even dominated much more.

Woods held the number one position in the world rankings for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record ten times, the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average a record eight times, and has the record of leading the money list in nine different seasons.
With 2: Set Masters 72-hole record with a total of 270 (70-66-65-69) and set Masters record with 12-stroke victory margin.
Tiger went in the last few years to a lot of private problems and did not make it into the FedEx Cup in 2011. But the biggest difference to 1997 or 2002 is that there are now many players hitting as long as him or even longer. Tigers average distance is even not much shorter than 10 years ago, but now there are at 40 other top player hitting as good as him and are as fit like him.
These are the new young players who watched him and learned from him. His advantage is not existing anymore and therefore he is not winning and we don't have just one dominant player.

We can find a similar evolution in Tennis with Roger Federer. He did dominate over 5 years the tennis court. He won everything he wanted and other players could just not win against him, because they might have been almost frozen when they had to play against him. His style was outstanding as well his mental strength. Today we have DJOKOVIC, Nadal, Murray and a few others; all as good as Federer or even better. Same happens here, the young player watched Federer over years and learned from him.

We can compare Apple and their products with them. Apple reinvented the phone. The first time when i heart the definition of a smart phone was in combination of the iPhone. Apple did dominate the smart phone business over a year. Unique hardware design and new type of OS. Google did copy (yes I think it is a copy) the iOS and some hardware vendors did copy the iPhone design. Not that they really copied it 100%, but before Apple, most phones were cheap plastic and not pretty, similar like PCs. They saw the phone as a tool we use which does not need to be esthetic. Apple changed this, and today almost every smart phone looks like an iPhone or even better. And Android from Google is now the number one smartphone OS.
Last year Apple did release the iPad. Nobody believed we needed an iPad but over 100,000 iPad apps and over 30 million sold iPads tell us a different story. Apple has today a market share of 78% of touch pads with just one product. And there are over 40 other touch pads on the market which are sharing 22%.

If Apple does not come out with a totally new product which we never thought we needed, or with a redesign of existing product (maybe a new approach for toasters or microwaves), then Apple will not be as dominant in 24 months as they are today. The world got transparent. And everybody is catching up. We went last week to
BestBuy and I looked at the Galaxy, Playbook and a Asus pad. All of them look more or less like the iPad and even the OS works the same. Regardless if it is WebOs or Android. All have the same basics like the iPad. Proof: My 3 years old son could open apps and zoom images as they are iPads.

If we compare Apple with sports, then I would say there are many players who watched Apple and are trying to copy it. But there is one player who not only watched Apple and tries to copy but does something totally different. This player will eventually take in 24 months for a few years the dominance till somebody else comes. The player (I am talking about) is Microsoft.

Microsoft's Windows 8 could really kill Android and Apple again. Windows 8 is not only totally different than all other mobile OSs but is as well the step which Apple is trying to do. Windows 8 will be one OS for all devices regardless of smart phone, mobile device or PC.

Microsoft has a lot of advantages to Google. They have already established customer support and a better relationship to hardware companies. And they have a much better enterprise integration than Apple and Google combined.

Apple is eventual too much concentrating on young users in the hope these consumers will keep buying Apple products when they are older. This concept is good, when your product is so much different than anything else.

As an example if you produce a car which has the shifting as tiptronic on the steering wheel and you would market young drivers. The parents might eventual buy for them a tiptronic car and when the kids are older, they would buy one too, because they would not know how to drive a different shifting system. If you are the only company with tiptronic then you will be set.

But Apple does not has this advantage anymore. Design is cool but for iPhone or iPad not much different than others and the OS is almost the same like Android. This helps the kids to switch much easier. Nothing new to learn. Apple does fear this, and this is one reason, why they try to fight against Samsung and other pad producers.

Apple has a lot of services like iTunes, but there is really no need to keep iPhone. Users can have iTunes and other devices or use Windows media center. Plus music future is in the cloud and Microsoft and even Google have much more cloud experience than Apple.

If we believe in 7 to 12 years cycles (which works in real estate, politics and everywhere we want) then Apples dominance will come to an end. And Microsoft can rise from ash like the Phoenix. MS lost so far the race in mobile but did build an even stronger enterprise empire with Sharepoint, Exchange, Lync and Dynamics products that they can close the gap between mobile and enterprise much easier than anybody else. And as soon the gap is closed, I foresee a lot of people buying for private use once again a Microsoft device.

Especially in a time where mobile, smart phone and PC is almost the same just different form factor. Whatever will come, the winner of the race will be the company which can provide for all devices same OS, a lot of software (not only apps) and can serve to end users and enterprises. For some reason I don't see Google to be in the mix neither.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please follow me @schlotz69

Location:Spinning Wheel Ln,Brooksville,United States