Saturday, May 13, 2017

My Digital Manifesto

There is no small amount of hype concerning Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence lately. The three seemingly separate disciplines have been coalescing into an overall technology that encompases some important hardware and software developments. Many of us have longed for the day when we can pop in a set of contact lenses to interact with our tech. While that development is still on the drawing board, we have been waiting patiently for some kind of affordable head mounted device. I believe before we reach that point, the hype will settle down around to what has already been accomplished. Here is my timeline for the next four years. Your predictions might vary slightly.

     1.   Camera based AR
Facebook has committed to creating an augmented experience through the everyday smartphone. There have been numerous companies in the recent past that have had the same general vision, such as Metaio, which was purchased by Apple a few years back, and Niantic, the creators of Pokemon Go. Everyone has a phone with a camera, and the best way to make people comfortable with the concept of Augmented Reality is to get it to the masses. There is no better company to do that than Facebook. Period.

    2.   WebVR
I’ve been playing in virtual worlds since the creation of VRML back in the 1980s. With the addition of a web browser plug-in, you could surf to any site that ran VRML code. It was mesmerizing, and much of what was learned has been applied to gaming over the years. As VRML waned, there was a brief comeback in the form of updated web standards called X3D, and X3Dom. But it always remained a niche technology. Recently there is a renewed interest in porting VR to the web. WebVR will only help to align the different disciplines under a common banner.

    3.   Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies
I can’t emphasise with enough strength how important blockchain tech will usher in true interoperability in the next few years. Most of the world is finally waking up to the concept of Bitcoin now. While Bitcoin is the dominant face of the cryptocurrency market, the real strength is blockchain. I will be so bold to say that most gaming currencies today will be slowly converted to an underlying blockchain system in order to stay relevant. If you are an investor, however, you really need to pay attention to blockchain development.

    4.   Assignment Servers
This is a concept created by an insane little man by the name of Philip Rosedale. His newest current venture, High Fidelity, uses it. To quote their FAQ: “The Assignment Server is a High Fidelity service that allows people to share their computers with each other to act as servers or as scripted interactive content. Devices register with the assignment server as being available for work, and the assignment server delegates them to domain servers that want to use them. Units of a cryptocurrency, will be exchanged by users of the assignment server, to compensate each other for their use of each other’s devices. The assignment server can analyze the bandwidth, latency, and Network Address Translation capabilities of the contributed devices to best assign them to jobs. So, for example, an iPhone connected over home WiFi might become a scripted animal wandering around the world, while a well-connected home PC on an adequately permissive router might be used as a voxel server.”

In a nutshell, this is a form of peer to peer networking. I won’t go into all the explanations of the other terms used in this paragraph. I encourage you to visit the High Fidelity site for yourself to learn more.

   5. Microsoft Mixed Reality
Can you say “One ring to rule them all”? The recent Microsoft Build conference has revealed that they get the idea that everyone wants a piece of the pie. And MS says “yeah, you can haz pie”. Hardware is forking all over the place right now, thanks to Asia’s aggressive tech developers. And one thing that Microsoft understands well is that hardware is secondary to the goal of the experience. You can’t have an app work on an android device, and not on iPhone without two different versions of it. I use them as an example, but envision the myriad of devices already collecting dust in your game room right now. Microsoft wants to change that. And they’re doing it in small steps so they don’t scare anyone into screaming “monopoly”. Keep your eyes on the changes coming to Windows in the near future. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

UBI

Consider for a moment all the networked devices you use on a daily basis. Now think about whether you have them secured against hacking. Most of us do, of course.

Now consider this: Most, if not all, of those devices are generating gigabytes of data at the very least. That data is based on our usage of the devices. The parent companies that sell the devices are harvesting every kilobyte they can get out of them hourly. And what do they do with that data? It gets sold to companies that compile that information in ways we consumers can't even comprehend. This is OUR data, folks. Whether or not you opted in or out, the device is still sending a minimum of data to the parent company.

Now consider this: As technology in aggregate continues to improve, it will be next to impossible to avoid working with some kind of networked "smart" device over the course of your day, either at home or in your job. And there is more data harvested about our habits.

There is a movement brewing pertaining to something called a "universal basic income". This is supposed to meet the needs of every individual on the planet over the course of time. But what scares the bejesus out of both government and corporate officials is, where will the money come from?

Well there is an answer. All that data that is generated from every person on the planet. It's our data. Wouldn't it make sense if we were personally compensated for it? I'm not saying that we should be paid the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it's valued at. It would be nice, but it's unrealistic. What would be nice is a stipend of say $400 or $500 weekly?

What do you think, Facebook? Google? Samsung? Let's get a discussion going.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Universal Basic Income

The buzz lately has been about where we will get money when the jobs dry up. The biggest candidate now is a universal basic income. but what scares them at the same time is where exactly will THAT money come from? I was half asleep one night when this struck me, and i typed it on my phone in OneNote. I present it here as written with a bit of editing:

Funds for basic income can be generated on a percentage basis according to how much personal data is used by a company, and paid to that individual. Example: John Q. Public turns his phone on X number of times. The phone manufacturer wants that data to be able to determine how to design the next power switch. That data is worth X amount. And since it comes from John, realized initial profit gets paid to John as part of his basic income.

Granted, this is a simple example, but hey, its another idea that can be implemented

Thursday, January 26, 2017

I am hereby serving notice!:

When did having an RSS feed suddenly become anti-productive? I used to be able to read any of my news feeds in an RSS tab in my web browser. I just realized today that I'm spending WAY TOO MUCH TIME in my e-mail for news stories, which then open an "app". EVERYTHING that an app does used to be done in a browser window. I am sick to death of being manipulated by my tech.

I am hereby serving notice!:

I refuse to deal with apps. Apps are walled gardens that specifically want to control your content. I'm tired of it! Unless you can give me a significant reason to use your stinking app, it's being uninstalled by me. If you cannot give me your content in an RSS feed, you are not worth my time, nor are you a company worth dealing with. You have become "persona non grata" to me.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

And Something ELSE Completely Different!...

Okay, I must be ill. nothing from me in years, and I suddenly have to post twice in one day? But I have to be fair in my jaw drops. And Microsoft holds kudos for this one:

The Microsoft Surface Studio

I just finished watching Wednesday's presentation. Lots more goodies from Microsoft. But the killer hardware is going to be this item. I was ho-hum until I saw that baby tilt. And I had my "ah-ha!" moment. Again, too much to go into personally, so I'll just recommend that you visit the site to judge for yourselves.

As a quick aside, my personal favorite in the presentation is going to be Paint 3D. I'm looking forward to giving that software a spin!

Okay, I think I'll go to sleep for a bit again. I'll see you folks in passing. LOL!

And Now For Something Completely Different

I've been very lax in my blogging, as I haven't had much to truly say. But I just saw something that I just HAD to dust off the blog for:

The new Mac Book Pro.

No, I haven't become some drooling fanboy lusting after Apple. As a matter of fact, I am trying my damndest to divorce myself from Apple and its ilks. Sadly, I drank their cool aid some years ago, and I'm paying the price today, as I'm sure many of you can attest.
I tried their laptops once years ago, and never cared for them. But there is one thing on this new machine that totally left me jaw-dropped. And that is the "touch bar". Want to talk about a game changer?

I'm at a loss as to how to name it. So for now I'll refer to it as a device. The device, which is built into the laptop, is above the keyboard. It's a single touch screen in it's own right. But the things that it can do are mind blowing. It is meant to replace the classic row of function keys above the "qwerty" keys on the keyboard. I don't have the time to list in detail all the things it can do for the different programs you have installed. But it is a tool that is entirely indispensable. And for those that still need function keys, it will pull them up for you and display them there.

Apple has once again thrown down the gauntlet. And the world will be better for this challenge, trust me. I just hope it happens sooner rather than later. Retooling shouldn't be that difficult. and licencing 'hopefully' shouldn't be that expensive.

I hate you Apple. But in a nice way.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Robots as Appliances

I've been thinking about robots again.  And the more I think, the more I believe that they should use a common operating system.  If they need to have a specialized routine for an arm movement, they should be able to go to a central site to get that routine.  But what's more, eventually they will all be part of a centralized mindset.  while they will be individual machines, they will all be part of the same network.  Possibly the same being.  This is actually an old idea, perpetrated by science fiction.  I offer the following quote as evidence.  The italics are mine:

Quote from "The Age of the Pussyfoot" by Frederik Pohl

     A girl with hair like transparent cellophane greeted him.  "I have your reservation, Man Forrester.  Will you follow me, please?"
     He did, walking behind her across a quartz-pebbled court and into the hall that was the tea room, admiring the swing of her hips and wondering just what it was that she did to her hair to make it stand out like a sculptured puffball and rob it of opacity.
     She seated him beside a reflecting pool, with silvery fish swimming slowly about.  Even with the peculiar hairdo, she was a pretty girl.  She had dimples and dark, amused eyes.
     He said, "I don't know what I want, actually.  Anyway, who do I order from?"
     "We are all the same, Man Forrester,"  she said.  "May I choose for you?  Some tea and cakes?"
     Numbly, he nodded and, as she turned and left, watched the sway of her hips with an entirely different kind of interest.
     He sighed.  This was a confusing world!

     The self-programming, shared-time girl with the dark, grave eyes brought Forrester his tea and cakes.  "Thank you," he said, staring at her.  He was still not quite sure of his deductions about her.  He tried an experiment.  "Can you give me my messages?" he asked.
     "Certainly, Man Forrester, if you wish," she said promptly.  "Alfred Guysman wishes to see you on political business.  Adne Benson asks you to return her message of this morning.  The Nineteenth Chromatic Trust informs you that arrangements have been made for you to establish banking facilities with them---"
     "That's enough," he said, marveling at how nicely a shared-time transponder could be packaged.  "I'll take the rest later."

Eventually, if we forget our phones at home, we can simply go to any machine that is connected to the net, and interact with it in a casual conversation, asking it for email, or what have you.