Monday, July 30, 2012

Apple Using Its Religion

NEW YORK - In a surprise announcement, Apple has disclosed that beginning today, all products sold in New York will be free of the state's typical 4.5% sales tax. The announcement follows a story from the Associated Press revealing that yoga studios are exempt from New York sales tax due to their status as religious institutions. According to the AP, the Department of Taxation and Finance found that yoga "is predominantly a spiritual practice" and should therefore be exempt from the tax.
Astute industry observers may recall a study performed by the BBC last year which found "Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith." According to Apple, it's own stable of godly gadgets far surpass yoga in religious significance. We received the following statement from an Apple spokesman:
Where you find religion, you find disagreement. Nothing has caused more derision in the history of the world than religion. But yoga, really? Who hates yoga? If yoga studios have achieved religious status, surely Apple's decades-old crusade of fanboys versus haters should be granted religious status.
We have reached out to Google for comment, but they have not responded. However, a reliable source has found references to an unannounced Google project named "G-had" that is believed to be the company's planned response to the Apple announcement.
In other Apple news:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Apple Patents Conversational Speech

In a surprise announcement, the US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a Siri-related patent that covers conversational speech. Patent 990,225,666 - dubbed the '666 patent - covers common grammatical structures for questions and statements used in conversational communication.

We reached out to Apple for comment and were immediately issued an injunction for violating the '666 patent. They did respond, however:

"We realize the broader societal implications of this patent. However, we strongly feel that this technology is not standards-essential and we will not be licensing it under FRAND terms. We fully intend to allow users of Apple products to continue to communicate with each other and with Siri as they do today. For others, we can recommend several iBooks on topics ranging from grunting, to cave drawing, hieroglyphics, and runes. Please keep in mind that mankind has been communicating for millenia; far longer than communication in its current form has existed."

Shortly after the announcement, Samsung released a prepared statement announcing a new version of their wildly popular Android customization known as TouchWiz. The new version, named "TouchWiz Yoda UX", works around the '666 patent by contorting common grammatical structure like a Cirque du Soliel performer. When asked for a comment, Samsung responded "like Yoda UX, you will. Mmm hmm."

Samsung will be debuting TouchWiz Yoda UX on its upcoming Jelly Bean updates. They have vehemently refused to provide schedules for said updates and have deferred to the carriers. We reached out to multiple carriers who in chorus simply replied "Huh?"
This story is still developing. Stay tuned for updates....maybe...ask the carriers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Student Creates Black Hole by Crossing The Cloud Storage Streams

An unnamed Computer Science student at Stonehill College near Boston has shocked the scientific community (and presumably his missing roommate) by creating a black hole while simultaneously using multiple cloud storage services. It all began when he placed his SkyDrive folder into his DropBox folder, his DropBox folder into his Google Drive folder which also contained his SkyDrive folder. The resulting sync operation created a black hole into which all of his data and most of his dorm room were consumed.
The student has declined interviews, but the following statement is on record with campus police:
"I just wanted as much free storage as possible. I hoped that by syncing the various products with each other, I might achieve some form of storage amplification. I never imagined I would shake the foundations of physics or cloud storage file compatibility."
During the cataclysmic event, the student observed a sustained appearance of the Higgs Boson particle. However, after several seconds, Google Drive renamed the particle "Higgs Boson.gdoc." The resulting format is incompatible with known physics and is therefore lost to science. Unfortunately, the previous version was sucked into the black hole and cannot be recovered.
We contacted CERN for comment on the story and its implications for the Large Hadron Collider
"We cannot comment at this time as our internal IT policy strictly forbids the installation of storage solutions utilizing a public cloud infrastructure. If the LHC manages to unlock the secrets of time travel, we fully intend to go back in time and make sure that our IT administrator's father and mother never meet."
Police began a universe-wide search for the missing roommate, but it was abruptly called off and declared a failure when the International Space Station reported that he wasn't on board.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Incontrovertible Proof of iPhone Redesign

Leaked iPhone 5 Screw

The image above, leaked by an unnamed Estonian fastener manufacturing company, has been identified by sources as a pivotal component of the upcoming iPhone 5. The screw is said to have been designed by Jony Ive himself, and is a clear indicator that the iPhone 5 will feature a 5.2" screen, LTE-Advanced++, dark matter-ion battery, a uniform tapered back that may or may not be tapered at all, a transparent Liquid Metal back, a gorilla glass 4.0 front, and an antenna forged in the fires of Mount Doom.

Industry experts have posited that the screw will most likely be compatible with liquid thread-locking adhesives which would be necessary to stand-up to the normal vibration and rigors of a physical home button. In addition, analysis of the angle of the threads on the specialized screw indicates that the home button will be elongated to such an extent that it may or may not be mistaken for a perfect circle.

The screw is rumored to be a marquee feature of the iPhone 5 and will be dubbed the "iScrew". To build momentum for the expected October release, iScrew will be announced at WWDC and will be accompanied by a special iTunesU catalog of lectures and diagrams entitled "iScrewU: How Apple screws you to the iPhone." Apple is also expected to launch a corresponding "Fastenation/Fastenating" marketing campaign around the innovative fastener.

In a wholly unexpected turn of events, Apple responded to our request for comment:
"We don't know why you people keep calling it the 'iPhone 5'. Don't you realize this will be the sixth iPhone? This is not Siri, by the way." - unnamed Apple spokesperson who may or may not have been Siri

Some industry analysts have opined that Apple's rare response to rumor speculation is proof that Tim Cook is indeed running the "House that Steve Built" into the ground. They have subsequently trampled many small children on their way to their stock brokers shouting "sell, sell sell!" Others feel we may have simply called the wrong number.

In related news, the same Estonian company has seen a significant uptick in orders for a certain washer that can be used in applications such as securing the base of a flat screen TV to the panel. One highly reliable source has verified that this can only signify the release of an 8K Apple TV that also makes toast on June 22nd.

The story is developing and we will provide updates as they become available.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Flooding the rumor mill

In a recent TIMN podcast, Joshua Topolsky stated that he had no idea what the next iPhone would look like because there are so many rumors about the device. This got me thinking, what if that was Apple's strategy all along. And, if not, should it be?

Apple plays things close to the vest. Inevitably, however, plans leak out or a prototype gets left behind in a bar. Apple fights vehemently to dispel the rumors and to recover lost devices. What if they took a different approach? Instead of secrecy and tight lips, what if there was a steady stream of rumors coming from the company - through unofficial sources, not PR - and seed fake devices were intentionally left in bars, airports, etc.?

Employees could be randomly assigned rumors or tidbits of fake plans then encouraged to "leak" them to tipsters at technology blogs and other websites, spread among friends outside the company, etc. Likewise, Apple could create 10-20 fake iDevices, ranging from incremental updates to flat-out ridiculous concepts. Then task employees with "accidentally" leaving them behind. One key would be to include Foxconn, or at least the impression of Foxconn, as one of the sources of leaking information and/or devices. It would probably be good to include a case or accessory partner in the shenanigans as well, since that's a common source of industrial design leaks.

Eventually, there would be so much misinformation in the tech press that one wouldn't be able to discern a true leak from the noise.

I know what you're thinking. This would be impractical and improbable. But wouldn't it be fun?


[Update:  Either Topolsky reads my blog (unlikely) or we're on the exact same page.  On this week's podcast he alluded to this exact same strategy.]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Things don’t have to change the world to be important

In the wake of the news surrounding Steve Jobs’ resignation, the Wall Street Journal posted a list of Steve’s best quotes.  Among them, was this gem:

“Things don’t have to change the world to be important.”  [Wired, February 1996]

I latched onto this for a couple of reasons.  One is that Jobs’ keynotes and persona often come across as ego-laden and overplay Apple’s implementation of existing technologies as “world changing”.  I’ll leave that for the fanboys and haters to debate.

The more compelling reason this piqued my interest is that start-ups and the press that covers them (I’m looking at you TechCrunch) are obsessed with how these fledglings will change the world.  In fact, there are two boilerplate templates about how start-ups pitch themselves:

1.  Start-up X is the Y for Z.  For example, YouPud is the YouTube for corporate sexual harassment videos.

2.  Startup-up X is changing the world by …  For example, MyNicheNetwork is changing the world by creating an online community of people who are left-handed and right-footed.

I think number one is the result of laziness.  Not on behalf of the start-ups, but on behalf of the VCs.  I would venture to bet that this format was borrowed from Hollywood, where new movie ideas are pitched as similes.

But it’s number two that really annoys me.  In fact, it’s why I left YouNoodle in a huff.  I got tired of so many start-ups pitching themselves as “changing the world”.  Especially when they were targeting a very small niche, doing something that was easily emulated, or just copying another successful company.  If you are doing any of these, you are not going to change the world (at least in a positive way).

But even if a company really is doing something new, unique, and innovative, it most likely WON’T change the world.  There may be one company in a generation that really changes the world.  An you know what, that’s OK.  You don’t have to change the world to be successful, to make money, to impact the world. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tablet Virtual Keyboards: A Typo Comparison

I have been surprised at how capable my iPad 2 has been at content creation.  The virtual keyboard and autocorrect are surprisingly efficient at capturing meeting notes, jotting down thoughts, etc.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have had a Motorola Xoom to play with as well.  I have been using both my own iPad and the Xoom at work, alternating which I use at meetings.  I’ve been astonished at how much better the iPad is at typing.  It’s surprising, given that both keyboards are roughly the same size; actually the Xoom is slightly wider due to the screen aspect ration.

This is far from scientific, but as a demonstration, here are a few sentences I typed out on each tablet.  The only corrections were autocorrect.  I explicitly prohibited myself from using backspace:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation.
iPad:  Four sore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation.
Xoom:  Four score and seven years avoum our fathers brought fir kn thus continent a new nation.

The quick brown fox jumped over the two lazy dogs.
iPad:  Te quickl brown fox jumped over the two lazy dogs.
Xoom:  The quick briuwn fix jumlex over the two, az div.

Which is better, the apple keyboard or the android one?
iPad:  Wich is heather, the apple keyboard of the andoird one?
Xoom:  Which us better the aop,e mdybkarx ir the andkjd kind?

Why does the apple keyboard routinely miss the second letter of a word?
iPad:  Why dos the apple keyboard routinely miss the second letter of a word?
Xoom:  Why did the aooke keyboard routuneky miss the second letter if the word?

So many words typed on the android keyboard don’t even resemble real words.  Why is that?
iPad:  So may words tped on the android keyboard don’t even resemble real words.  Why is that?
Xoom:  So many words tyoed in the android keyboard don’t even resebke real word, why is that?

So far it looks like the biggest problem on the apple keyboard is missed keystrokes.
iPad:  So fear it looks like the biggest or Len on the apple keyboard is missed keystrokes.
Xoom:  So far t kijs like the biggest lripen in the aooke keyboard us missed meystrijds.

No doubt there are plenty of typos is both.  But the iPad performed significantly better than the Android tablet.  It also appears that the Android spell-check is a Scandinavian person who hates Apple.  In three attempts at typing the word “apple” on the Android keyboard, all three failed.  Conspiracy?