My son and I started watching I.T. Crowd several years ago and, in Season 1, they had this change to the U.K. “999″ emergency service number (999 is the U.K. version of the U.S. 911). Since I just had to set up our home voice over internet (VoIP) and register it for 911 service, it made me think about this segment which my son and I both thought was pretty humorous. Mainly because a geek would remember!
Don’t know how I missed this in January but my aunt Marlys just sent a bunch of us an email with a link to it inside. It’s an NBC Rock Center segment called iDoctor and it’s about the healthcare revolution being enabled because most of us are carrying around incredibly powerful computers called a “smartphone,” a device that can send data directly to our doctors.
If you’re interested, here are some links you’ll like to view:
One of the fun aspects of a year ending and a new one beginning is thinking back on times past and how technology has evolved. As I sit in front of my 27″ iMac this morning — a computer I paid $2,500 for in August, which is a bargain compared to what you’re about to read — I’m struck by all the technology experiences I’ve had.
The sad part? It seems most of us are always looking for that “next, big thing” without appreciating how far we’ve come and knowing how far we’ve come might give you some insight in to what’s coming next.
For any of you readers (or my own kids) who might read this and think, “Oh…he’s just an old guy reminiscing” just know that you will some day look back and be stunned by the funny, cute and quaint little smartphone you own and the expensive and slow mobile network you use. I guarantee it!
HOW IT STARTED
My buddies and I used to sneak in to the high school computer lab to use the teletype (it was a terminal connected to a mainframe at the University of Minnesota) and used it primarily to print out “images” like an ASCII character Snoopy or Playboy pinup. Not terribly useful, but it helped us to appreciate what it took to create the tape that you fed in to the teletype to get it to work.
One night during college my girlfriend and I were walking through a mall and there was a Commodore Store. In it were rows of “PET” computers ($795) and I could demo games by inserting a cassette tape and letting it load for a few minutes. Adventure games, a text-based genre, were about all they had along with a few crappy little “productivity” applications. I thought most of what the PET could do was boring but the machine was so compelling and cool I couldn’t take my eyes off of it and my girlfriend had to tear me away! [Read more...]
Would you spend $13,000 for your Dell or Apple desktop computer this week? I didn’t think so. Well that is roughly how much this Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 16 would cost in 2012 dollars (using a relative measure of worth from here). This past week my sister purchased a new iMac with 8GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive and a huge color screen for $1,299!
One of my favorite sites, Archive.org, had this 1983 Radio Shack catalog of computers and accessories that you can view which is where I first saw this machine and its price. When I think that this green screen, 5.25″ floppy drive, half a megabyte of memory machines cost $5,000 back then it is just stunning how far we have come and how cheap and powerful today’s computers are (and don’t even start on the power of our smartphones and tablets).
You could also buy a 12 *megabyte* hard disk to accompany that computer for $3,495 and, as a point of comparison, you could buy a 128 *gigabyte* thumb drive from Corsair — a “superspeed” drive that’s one of the fastest on the market — for $150. I also remember paying over $4,000 — at an Apple Employee Discount cost — for a Macintosh IICi.
OK…if you are NOT amazed at how far technology has come in just a few short years then
watch this hilarious bit by the comedian Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show (skip ahead to 3:19 for the “everything’s amazing!” rant on technology).
UPDATE: The dorks at NBC Universal (now part of Comcast) for copyright reasons did a DMCA takedown on the video on Vimeo. The decent ones on YouTube have also been deleted. It’s sad that NBC doesn’t “get” that watching stuff like this is an incentive for people to watch Conan’s show.
For many years I’ve combed through our website analytics looking for trends in visits, search terms and more. When Google Analytics came on the scene I jumped on it and it’s been a useful tool in my arsenal ever since.
For what it’s worth, I was particularly struck by two of our sites today when, as a team, we got together and discussed our analytics, advertising and other measurements for our businesses.
It was very enlightening. [Read more...]
Millions of us are always on, always connected and accelerating our use of the internet for everything from tweeting a LOLCat video to banking, stock trading, or sending private emails. As such you’d better believe that the crackers and hackers are trying to figure out any possible way to vacuum data you would rather keep private for their own nefarious purposes…
…and the number of attacks will continue to grow, especially as more people globally have faster internet access and powerful connected devices brimming over with all sorts of personal data like credit cards, social security numbers, bank and stock account information, and those photos you took of yourself you probably shouldn’t have.
Is secure communications necessary? Since virtually everyone I meet is completely clueless about the insecurity of coffee shop wifi, sending private stuff by email, or how trivial it is to track everything they do online, then yes. If I receive one more email from someone in my social circle which contains usernames and passwords, a PDF with their social security number in it, or a reply to one of our email offers with the customer’s credit card information in the email — all of which are in-the-clear and ready to be harvested by anyone with access to email or email relay servers around the internet — I’m going to blow a gasket.
Phil Zimmerman is a guy who made a name for himself when he released Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) back in 1991, a technology which inadvertently was released by him in a Usenet news group (he thought the “U.S.” Usenet designation meant postings weren’t accessible offshore). Turns out the code found its way on to the internet since all of Usenet was available to anyone, anywhere they were connected. The U.S. Customs service went after him for allegedly violating the Arms Export Control Act (the U.S. government long considered cryptography a munition) but, after three years, all charges were dropped. I became aware of Zimmerman in the early 1990s because of that and watched what happened to see if this guy would get thrown in to federal prison.
But wait…isn’t technology like Silent Circle the National Security Agency’s (NSA) worst nightmare?
Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion is available in the Mac App Store this morning and, like always on first release, getting in the queue to download it is a challenge! Once in this morning it will likely take some time to download since the installer is over 4GBs and there are undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of people downloading it concurrently.
So while you wait, here is a list of resources I found and sent off to a buddy this morning…and thought it would make a good post as well:
- Apple: Video of Mountain Lion and its new features
- The Verge: OS X Mountain Lion Review
- Engadget: Apple OS X Mountain Lion 10.8 review
My own take on Mountain Lion? Apple is clearly moving toward merging OS X and iOS so that the Mac experience is more like that of an iPad or iPhone. Since most hacks, cracks and malware on computers comes from the capability to install unsafe and insecure code in the bowels of your operating system, Apple knows that the only way to scale security is to build it in. Here are all the security features Apple touts in OS X Mountain Lion.
Power users and developers are clearly upset about the constraints being placed on them by Apple. But think about it: it was one thing when a family had one computer with multiple user accounts and was somewhat easy to manage. Now many families have multiple computers, each family member with a smartphone, and many families with multiple iPads or tablets. Without a fundamental rethinking and reimagining of computing device security models, our increasingly always-on and always-connected device use is in considerable jeopardy.
My sisters and I are helping our 86 year old father “age in place” as best he can by staying in his home. With even cursory analysis, it’s pretty clear there won’t be anywhere near enough capital to build assistive living or nursing home facilities to accomodate the huge pending influx of aging baby boomers, over 70 million of whom started retiring in January of 2011 and will do so through 2029.
When you add to that the real possibility that these oldster’s life expectancy is expected to rise as well, and it certainly appears we have an impending crisis on our hands. As you’ll see below, I argue that the enormity of this population of aging boomers represents quite a market opportunity for technological, community, societal and financial support solutions to alleviate that crisis and make money to boot! [Read more...]
The New York Times had this article in the “Money” section yesterday about mobile text messaging scams. It’s likely you won’t pay attention to this scam until YOU are a victim, but you might already be one so read on.
Sick with the flu one weekend this past January I’d gone to bed early on a Sunday night only to be awakened by two back-to-back text messages arriving on my iPhone at about 2am. Having been in the internet/web industry since its beginning in the mid-1990s, I instantly recognized the potential for charges from this scammer so I sat up, grabbed my iPad, and started poking around to see if either the message identifier (the “318-50″ in the screengrab below) or the toll-free 866-861-1606 number was an active scam.
I was stunned to learn it is a scam and even ignoring the message meant my account would be charged $9.99 PER MONTH!
Based upon the sheer volume of complaints I found during my searching online shows that this scam is rampant, apparently is seeing little-to-no preemptive action on the part of the wireless carriers, and many, many mobile users are being charged monthly fees. This fraud is commonly known as cramming.
I am writing this post for the express purpose of bringing this issue to your attention. If *I* can get scammed (and I am VERY cautious, careful and savvy about online scams and still don’t know how my number was discovered) I can only guess how pervasive this is and that it appears the carriers are likely complicit in perpetuating these cramming scams since they apparently receive 30% of all subscription fees collected..
What is this scam and what can you do? [Read more...]