Unified Smart Device.

Graph showing global smartphone market
Image via Wikipedia

We have a problem on our hands – device proliferation. If you work in IT like me it is likely that you suffer from having a plethora of heterogeneous devices: a work laptop, a work desktop, a home desktop or laptop, a smartphone, an ebook reader, and a tablet…and that is just the short list. You might have a work phone and a home phone (cellular I mean), a separate GPS, and so on. Too many devices costing too much money with too many silos in which information is contained.

I’d like to suggest a Unified Smart Device (USD). There are some devices which are beginning to head down this road – but none which have gone nearly far enough or well enough. I’m thinking of the Motorola Atrix and the Asus Transformer for example. These devices allow one to integrate a smartphone and a computer or a tablet and a computer – but that’s it – leaving, still, far too many devices. Not to mention that the processing power in either of these devices isn’t going to be sufficient to replace one’s main laptop/workstation if you do much serious work.

So…here is my thoughts on a USD:

  1. The smartphone seems the logical base product. It is what we carry with us absolutely everywhere.
  2. Buying a smartphone should let one “transform” into any of the other devices – desktop, laptop, ebook reader, tablet.
  3. The smartphone is smaller than any of the other devices and thus can fit inside of any of the other devices, all other devices thereby become shells (with a few exceptions).
    1. Want to walk and read or watch? Insert your smartphone into your tablet’s bay and you are up and running.
    2. Want to read for an extended period of time? Insert your smartphone into your ebook reader’s bay and experience eInk.
  4. Now in the case of desktops and laptops we have traditionally faced another problem – the same problem that confronts most folks who work on both a desktop and a laptop – namely, the sheer performance power of a desktop cannot be matched at a reasonable price by more compact devices. How do we fix this?
    1. The smartphone slides into a bay in the desktop or laptop, just like in a ebook reader or tablet, BUT…
    2. The desktop or laptop has its own hardware, the smartphone becomes “dumb” providing access to the data on the phone, but using the primary device’s power or it takes a supplemental role in performance – picking up slack for the main desktop/laptop hardware.

This could provide a win-win situation for manufacturers and consumers. Manufacturers would reduce the costs of their hardware (due to less components) and increase sales (due to a tendency to purchase from the same manufacturer across devices). Meanwhile, consumers (including businesses) would benefit from a unified solution at a reduced price due to the simplification of components. For example:

  • The eReader would no longer need any intelligence or storage, it would just relay the data on the smartphone to an eInk screen.
  • The tablet would also require no intelligence or storage, resizing the display to the larger tablet screen.
  • The laptop would not need a hard drive, or at most would need a smaller hard drive (probably SATA), as it would be able to utilize the smartphone’s internal capacities.
  • The desktop would be able to utilize a slower (probably SATA) hard drive since the main OS would be contained on the smartphone.

I’m just saying… 🙂

The Cost of Our Purchases…

Image representing iPad
Image via CrunchBase

What is the expenditure in human life and quality to provide us with the American dream? I’d like to recommend Steven Musil’s article “Putting a human cost on the iPad” over at CNET. This post is based on a much more extensive investigative report just released by Charles Duhigg and David Barboza over at the New York Times. If you want the short version – see Musil’s article, for all the gory details see Duhigg and Barboza’s article.

Both look at the topic of working conditions in the factories that produce much of our technological gadgets (and this extends far beyond Apple‘s iPad including also devices by companies such as HP and Dell). Child labor, unsanitary working conditions, slavish hours, and explosions that have cost lives are some of the issues currently coming to the surface within these factories.

I’m not suggesting folks who own an iPad are bad…I’ve owned or do own products by Apple, HP, Dell, and so on. What I am saying is that now that the issue has been raised we need to bring it more to the front of our consciousness and advocate on behalf of the oppressed. I’m glad Apple has taken some steps in the right direction – but pressure needs to continue, and not just on Apple.

In the Scriptures James tells us (5:1-6), “1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.” (New American Standard Bible)

We do not directly profit (at least most of us) from exploitation, but we oftentimes indirectly benefit from it. I am challenged and humbled to consider that this passage addresses us. “You have lived luxuriously on the earth…” Ouch. That hits a little too close to home when I think about someone dying to bring me a “more affordable” electronic device.

Amazon Kindle for PC – Frustrations.

Photo of Amazon Kindle
Cover of Kindle Wireless Reading Device
Cover via Amazon

I don’t have an Amazon Kindle – but I do regularly download books for the Kindle – onto my computer and my Android phone. Recently a friend recommended to me the book Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity by Frank Viola. I decided to purchase a copy – and get the Amazon Kindle version for a few reasons:

  1. I wanted to begin reading right now, and I can download a Kindle book in seconds.
  2. The price is right – while not as cheap as a library or a used book, it still beats buying it new from almost any retailer.
  3. I generally take fairly extensive notes on the books I read and didn’t want to do the note taking by hand – I knew the Kindle included highlighting/notes capabilities.

I must admit, I’ve been a bit frustrated in my endeavors thus far to read this book using the Kindle for PC software. Why? (From most important to least important to me)

  1. The highlighting doesn’t always work. Sometimes when I highlight text it only gives me the option to “search”. I’ve tried doing this several different ways, but for the time being I’ve resorted to noting the location in the text of items I want to quote in a separate document when Kindle refuses to allow me to highlight.
  2. Then there is the issue that you can’t copy and paste from Kindle into another application. What the crap?!? Come on now! I understand you are trying to protect the publisher’s rights, but this is ridiculous. Even if I make it a highlight first, I still can’t copy the highlight. Amazon could limit the amount of text we could highlight – thus preventing outright pirating while still allowing ready use of the text.
  3. There are no page numbers!

Gahhh! I’m not sure what Amazon is thinking on this front – but Google Editions is looking really attractive right now…I’m sure they’ll have more reasonable methods for copying text?!?