Tech Predictions 2013

January 3rd, 2013

Now, it’s about this time of the year that I decide to ramble on about what I think will be the big tech news over the next 12 months. Most of the time, I get it wrong, and actually more recently I’ve gotten incredibly boring and pointless with my predictions. So, this will hopefully be a bit more interesting, a bit more interesting, probably completely wrong still (I don’t have an issue with that) but just a bit fun as well.

The problem with predictions, is that people tend to predict the obvious. Like the BBC “prediction” that the comet next year may show up, or may not. That isn’t a prediction, that’s just stating a fact. The other ones are just extrapolation. Eg…a new iPhone next year. I admit that this has mainly been my issue in the past as well. But this time it shall hopefully be a bit more interesting, but this will also mean that it will be incredibly wrong. Probably. We shall revisit these this time next year.

  • A new xBox will be announced at E3.

Ok, I immediately broke my own rule. This one really is pretty obvious. Sony and Microsoft have been playing chicken for the last 12-18 months. They both already have their current ideal console ready to announce, tweak a bit, and then release. The issue is that they want to wait until the other one announces first. Because then they can tweak theirs, make it slightly better than the other and they have the best console on the market. The issue is, that with this strategy, they will very quickly be obsolete, as it is probably 2012′s technology released in 2014. The issue with consoles yet again…

  • Amazon open physical store

I’ve said this one before. And I’ll say it again. I may have the year wrong, but this *will* happen. And I mean very soon. I think it’ll be sooner than most of you think. It’ll be in the US, and it’ll be a cross between an Apple shop and a car showroom. It’ll have a number of products that you can go in to physically look at. I’m not sure what will be in it. Probably the more popular items. Maybe focusing on electronics? I’m not sure. But, mark my words, this *will* happen.

  • Microsoft will buy Nokia.

Ok, this one is probably a bit far-fetched. For this year anyway. But this is what will happen with these guys. Nokia will continue to lose value, Microsoft will buy Nokia, Ballmer will retire, Stephen Elop will be the new Microsoft CEO, and Microsoft begin to do an “Apple”. They realise they need the hardware of Nokia, and want to own it all. In fact, they have already realised this. It’s been said before, but it’s funny that it’s an ex-Microsofty that took over Nokia right before they went Microsoft and started nose diving. Ok, that’s unfair, they were nose diving before he took over. But he didn’t help.

Just remember this…Nokia’s market cap is $14M. Microsoft have about $50M in cash/cash equivalents.

  • The first waterproof phone

That’s right. Waterproof. Not just water-resistant. Or splash-proof. Waterproof. The first waterproof smart phone will be released in 2013. Probably near the end of the year, and either by Samsung or LG. It’ll be the biggest feature they talk about with it, and it’ll be basically like this year’s phones but waterproof. We know this technology exists, we saw it last year at CES, but there have been no hints since then about anything including it. I think 2013 is the year.

  • Colour Kindle

When Amazon released the Kindle Fire, and Barnes and Noble released their tablet as well…people seemed to forget about colour e-readers. I think 2013 is the year of the colour e-reader. We shall have at least 1 released. I think tablets from e-reader companies are just a stop-gap. I think they want a colour, high-refresh rate e-ink device, and I think someone will release one this year. It may not be Amazon, and it won’t be high refresh rate enough to watch videos yet, but it’ll come.

  • Intel announce first ARM device

Not a crazy prediction. It’s been predicted before, or should I say rumoured. But I think there is a lot of interest in this. Especially as their own phone processors have gone nowhere so far.

  • A new social network

Someone will announce a new social network. It will be free, but not have ads. How will they make money? By corporate sponsors. Basically, individuals (and charities) will get free accounts, but companies will have to pay to get onto it. Yes, they will have to pay for your nice free social network to get access to you. And what do you get in return? A nice, free, social network with no ads. Sound nice? Well, it’s a shame it’ll fail pretty badly. It won’t last till 2015.

  • Yahoo build new search engine

Yahoo need a big thing. This is it. Not just a rehashing of Google, Bing, or old Yahoo. But a completely new way to search. I don’t know what this will look like, but that’s why I’m not building it. I just think they will release it this year to massive fanfair. It’ll be integrated into Flickr quite heavily, and together they will be heralded as the rebirth of Yahoo.

  • Blackberry OS 10 isn’t a fail

Ok, it looks exactly like Android or iOS, but it finally catches up to the times and this stems the blockage of people going away from it. Don’t believe me? Just talk to a Blackberry fan. They are the most loyal customers I’ve ever seen. Even more loyal than Apple’s. Apple’s are sticking around because it keeps getting better. Blackberries are pretty much the same as they were 5 years ago. They are all staying around because they want something to believe in from RIM. They are begging for something new to buy with the blackberry logo on it.

It may not create much growth in their company, but it’ll stop the shrinkage, which is all the can hope for just now.

  • Google Glassless

This one is part extrapolation, part wild speculation, part repeating what I’ve said for a while. I’ve been wanting this for ages. Augmented Reality contact lenses. It’s the next step, I just never realised there would be a step before it. I didn’t see Google Glass coming. But I have been saying for ages that the contact lenses will be coming. The main reason I think they’ll come quite quickly? People don’t want to wear something ridiculous looking like Google Glass.

 

p.s I never realised how hard it would be to think of my predictions without extrapolation. Most of what I thought of technically was. And even after all that work, I failed as a few did include it.

The ethical problem with technology prices

June 29th, 2012

So, you may have noticed that the Nexus Q, Google’s answer to Airplay, has been announced and, in America at least, it costs $299. Compared to Apple TV, that looks like a ridiculous price. Over 3 times more. What makes it so special? Well, in general…nothing. It has a death star look, and has a bunch of leds, but apart from that, nothing.

The main problem appears to be that it is made almost entirely in the US. This obviously meaning that labour costs are a lot higher than if it had been made in China and this appears to have rocketed the cost sky-high.

Now we are approached with a problem. I highly commend Google for doing this and holding their standards above everything else. Or, maybe it’s just that they have had issues with China, who knows. Either way, it still comes down to 1 problem for normal users.

Cheap, or fair?

$99 for something made by Chinese workers who have almost no rights and get very little pay, or $299 for something made by a company in another country who pay a “decent” wage, or at least have higher standards of working conditions.

I honestly do not thing the capitalist system we are living in is going to give room for something 3x as much just so we can feel good about where it comes from. I mean, look at fair trade chocolate. Pay 20p more on a chocolate bar? No way! I don’t care that it means the farmer gets more money, I can’t afford that.

Especially with the fact that we have spent the last 20/30 years with technology getting cheaper and cheaper. Now we pay more?

 

I just don’t think it’s going to happen. What do you think?

Changing the iPhone connection port

June 26th, 2012

Or: why this will be a massive mistake for Apple.

So, the world is currently discussing many rumours about the iPhone 5 (yes, again), and just about every ridiculous thing they always do. One of the most common ones is that Apple will be changing the connection port to a smaller one. This may or may not be true (I, for one, know it is happening, but I don’t know for certain what it’ll be like or if it’ll be happening for the next iPhone…and no, I’m not going to tell you how I know it’ll def be happening in the next 2 years or so) but I thought I would discuss why I think this is a very bad idea.

Apple’s business works where you like their products, so you buy their products. Then you buy a whole load of awesome accessories for those products. Then their new product comes out..and you buy that new product because you already have speakers, and a tv cable, and a radio clock, and a computer dock, and a million different cables for it. Then they bring out a different product that uses the same connector and you think “Oh, all these things I have already work with this completely new product” so you buy it again…and then the cycle continues.

This cycle will break.

When Apple change the connector, suddenly everything will be obsolete. Everything. Now, sure, maybe they release a converter as well, but then for your speakers, the iPhone won’t fit right in it, and you need to remember to carry this around with you everywhere. It’ll just be a mess. So really the best thing to do is to buy all new stuff.

Now, Apple are clearly under the impression that people will just buy a new iPhone because they like it. Maybe they will. I’m sure loads will. But there also is involved in this, a huge annoyance. Would you want to go back to that ecosystem when they just moved everything from beneath your feet? Maybe they’ll do it again. They have a history of just wiping the slate clean with their products. It’s not even like companies will continue to make products with the old connector, because Apple license it to them, and they will probably stop licensing it to anyone.

Now, I am all for advances in technology. However, this may just be a smaller version of the connector. If so, that’s massively annoying.

Apple better have some awesome feature that this fulfills that they couldn’t do with the old connector or they are going to annoy a lot of people.

The problem with Game

March 12th, 2012

Gamestation shop in GlasgowThis week, we have started to see the demise of Game, the UK computer game shop company. They own Game shops and Gamestation shops, as well as a bunch of websites. They were massive at one point. Everyone would buy from them. I’ve spent countless hours in those shops over the years pouring over the stuff they had in stock to see if I could get a bargain. But I never could. Well, that’s a lie, I could. But it was never great.

We have found out that Game are looking for a buyer as they are in serious financial trouble. So much so that EA and a number of other game’s companies have refused to supply them, the biggest title being Mass Effect 3. Game had none of this title in stock from launch till now. Today, after they said that they were in serious trouble, their stock price dropped 50% and is (as of market closing 12th March) sitting at £1.16. It dropped to a low of 85p today.

Some of us have expected this for a while. And when you go into the shops you can clearly see how they got into this mess. I saw a copy of Little Big Planet today, second-hand, not in original packaging, for £15. This is a game that is about 4 years old, and you can buy new on Amazon for less than £10.

So, this is clearly 1 of the reasons that they have gone down the pan. But it’s not the only one. This is specific to this one company, but there are reasons that I believe that the industry of physical game shops (with the exception of 1 chain) is on the way out. It may take a few years, Gamestop in America still has a lot of clout, but it’ll happen eventually.

I want a game. What shall I do? I have 4 choices:

  1. Buy it from Amazon
  2. Buy it from PS store/XBL/Steam
  3. Buy it from a physical shop
  4. Get it second-hand

Now let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

  • Amazon

Pros: Easy to buy, you don’t have to take the time to go to a physical shop, they don’t have to pay for high street buildings, so generally cheaper.

Cons: Don’t get to see the item in real life, have to get it delivered.

  • PS store/XBL/Steam

Pros: Easy to buy, you don’t have to take the time to go to a physical shop, they don’t have to pay for high street buildings, so generally cheaper.

Cons: Not always cheaper than Amazon, no physical media, no ability to resell.

  • Physical shop

Pros: Get to see it physically before you buy it, the community aspect.

Cons: Normally more expensive, time-consuming to get to and generally quite annoying.

  • Second hand

Pros: The price.

Cons: Well, its second-hand. Sometimes the DLC bundled with it is 1 time only.

 

Basically, what does a physical shop give you (apart from second-hand) that online and download-only can’t? The community aspect. But then, we are gamers. We don’t really like talking to people in real life. If we want to talk, we’ll do it on our respective social networks or gaming multiplayer networks.

CEX shop in Glasgow

For all intents and purposes, downloading games is the future. It isn’t the present, as it’s still annoying as we can’t resell them, they are sometimes more expensive than Amazon and we sometimes have rubbish internet connections. However, it is the future. And for that, physical shops don’t matter. Other than that, if you know what you want to buy, you know what you want to buy. Why would I want to see the case for a game I want to buy in real life before I buy it? I won’t, I’ll buy it off Amazon.

Now, we come to the type of physical shop that will survive for a while. Second hand game shops. I was in CEX today, and it was full of people. The prices were much lower than Game and Gamestation (even with their apparent fire sale) and there was just a great feeling in there. People love a bargain, and they love waiting a month and getting a second-hand game for £25 instead of £40 or £10 instead of £20, or whatever. It’s just a great feeling.

Basically…the reason Game is going to disappear (even if it gets bought over, it’ll disappear soon enough) is because there is no need for them anymore. The internet and dedication second-hand shops have replaced it, and the industry is just going to have to get used to it.

We need to fix Linux

February 20th, 2012
  • How do I change the name of a USTux is confusedB stick?
  • How do I mount an ISO?
  • How do I automatically mount a file server at boot?

If the answer to any of these questions starts with “Open a terminal”, that is a bug. A design bug. What some people might call a Human Computer Interaction bug. You may know how to use it, and I’m sure most people reading this blog will know exactly how to do these things. The first one would probably start with “open gparted”, but ya know what…that isn’t good enough. When a normal person wants to edit the name of a USB stick they look in the file manager, they right click on it and expect to be able to click on “rename”. As far as I know, that doesn’t work in anything. It definitely doesn’t work in nautilus (and therefore Gnome) and probably won’t work in KDE or similar. This is not good. This needs fixed.

Ubuntu calls these “papercuts”, and btw, this is a fantastic project in Ubuntu. And I know half of you have now gone “oh no, another Ubuntu-ism”. Well, I don’t care what you think about the name. The name isn’t the important thing. What is important is the concept. These are design issues that we need to solve, and they are not being solved in any way.

I think it stems from a fundamental problem with a lot of Linux users. You don’t want “normal” people on Linux. You are quite happy with having it all to yourselves. Well ya know what, if you really like choice like you say you do, we need to work on these problems. If you want normal people to take you seriously when we think about these things, these need sorted.

 

This is why I am calling for distributions and programs to take a cycle out from implementing new features. Ya know what, things happen so fast, we can afford for 6 months – 1 year to get rid of a lot of these issues. The main reason I think we should do it now? Windows 8 is going to be a big disaster. I can feel it. I can already feel the venom coming out of people about metro, and the fact that the desktop on Windows is probably going to be a second class citizen.

What are these people going to do? Are they going to continue using XP or 7? Well, some may continue to use 7, and a few will use XP (although hopefully that will decrease rapidly), but we need to offer an alternative. Some will go to osX, but what about the serious users who realise the need for change, but don’t want an operating system that doesn’t function like a traditional desktop in any way? They know osX is going that way as well. We need to be that other desktop. The choice we offer is huge and means there will always be a stable, functional, supported desktop that they will like in some way. But they won’t come if we have these horrible issues.

**EDIT** Some people seem to be missing the point. This is not about these specific issues, so please don’t give me solutions for them. The point is the overarching issue of design problems that we quite often ignore as geeks. **EDIT**

That is all I have to say now, apart from the fact that there are other issues with Linux. I hope to focus on some of them in the future, such as the stupid way some things are organised in the filesystem (just try and find that executable for that program please, or that specific library…oh its in /lib? /usr/lib? /usr/local/lib? /usr/share/lib? /usr/local/share/lib? …?????) and the pathetic attitudes of some people in the communities that give our great fantastic people a really bad name.

The Day the Internet Went Black

January 16th, 2012

Wikipedia will go black on the 18th in protest of SOPA and PIPA, along with many other websites. This is a big deal.

Now, some of you may not know what SOPA or PIPA are, even though you read this blog, so I’ll try to explain it simply.

PIPA and SOPA are bills that are being pushed through the American government that would essentially allow the entertainment industry a really easy way to block any website in America that they feel like.

Most people and companies in the tech industries are against this, including big companies like Google, Facebook, Ebay, Amazon etc, because it doesn’t help fight “piracy”, it censors the internet in America and has wide-ranging consequences for everyone, not just people in America.

It would break DNS (the fundamental force of the internet), cause legitimate websites to be blocked (it has been done before, that things to get rid of piracy have cause legitimate websites to be blocked) and force many people outside of America to block these sites even though there is no law saying they should…as the governing bodies of the Internet are American organisations, and therefore subject to their laws.

The fundamental problem is…this will not stop piracy. Pirates will go around these issues and you cannot stop that. There are always ways around these things. You need to either go after the money…or don’t try.

If you want to help (even if you aren’t in America, you can still do something) – go to this website: http://americancensorship.org/ - it explains everything. Scroll down a bit and you can petition the American State Department to stop being hypocritical.

In solidarity with the websites that are going black on Wednesday the 18th, this blog will also be going black from 00:00 GMT till 00:00 GMT on the 19th. That is a full 24 hours it shall be out.

Tech Predictions Review: 2011

January 9th, 2012

Time for my review of 2011′s tech predictions. Wide range of predictions, from gaming to phones to…well snarkiness. And I think I did not too bad last year. Let’s have a look.

  • There will be at least 1 upgrade to either ps3, 360 or wii at E3. Most likely will be the wii, as I think it is the 1 most needing an upgrade. We haven’t heard any rumours yet, but that makes this one more fun. PS3 will hopefully not, as it should have a long time left in it as we haven’t reached its potential yet (and I’ve only had 1 for a year…) 360 will probably get 1 next year.

Wii U was announced. Wasn’t released, but I think that counts :-)

  • Google TV will have its Hero moment (arguably the point when android on phones became properly usable for everyday users). It will have a couple of upgrades, and actually start to be usable by normal people. This will then cause people to buy it, and make it useful and fun.

Well, I was right about the update. It was quite late in the year, but the Honeycomb update for Google TV made it really nice and useful and fun, and people are starting to like it. But still…not many people are buying it.

  • We will drown in tablets and e-readers. The first colour e-reader will be released, and this will be kinda rubbish, cause the refresh rate will still be pretty crap. Better devices will not be released until 2012 (probably until after an Apple colour eReader, an i-nk-pad perhaps?).

Hmmmm. Ok partly right about the first bit. Wrong about the second bit. But technically probably will be right about the last bit? (not the Apple bit though…).

It was. And what an anti-climax that was. I never ended up getting one. Got a transformer instead.

  • New iPad, iPhone and iPod touch (pretty obvious…) No MacBooks this year though. They seem to be going off MacBooks and releasing them with more than 1 year gap. They will slowly be turned into the iPad with a keyboard.

I was right, right and right. But then I was wrong. There was a Macbook refresh. Maybe even 2…can’t quite remember.

  • Windows 8 will be announced, but will not be released till either the end of 2012, or beginning of 2013, but they will say beginning of 2012. It will look exactly the same, but will have great “security” features. Including, but not limited to, something “unhackable” and also a new “uncrackable” activation code system, that they seem to spend a lot of time on…

Right to start with, but then very wrong. It is nothing similar in look and feel…hello Metro interface.

  • Commercially available 4K tv. People start to hear about it, forget about 3D. Although, people will continue to say that the number of pixels I have just now is fine, thank you very much. But they will buy one eventually anyways…

Nope. Sad times. Sometime though.

  • Android 2.4 and 3.0 will be released within the year.

Hmmmm. Well, I was wrong about the numbers…but 3.0 and 4.0 should count I’d imagine. Who would have known exactly what would have happened with all this crazy tablet only version of Android and stuff. But I’ll take that as a win.

  • Canonical will continue alienating people and projects, and will continue on its mission to mac-ify the Linux desktop.

Hmmmm wow, I was feeling snarky that day wasn’t I. I’ll just leave this one at the side for just now.

  • Hulu will get off their backside and start their UK service. People celebrate…

Nope, and we didn’t even get Netflix last year :-P In fact, apparently, Hulu just gave up. This is weird, and I wonder whether Netflix got some of these deals and managed to make them exclusive first? Who knows what actually happened. I guess we never will. The whole industry seems to be giving up on Hulu anyway.

 

All in all, a reasonable year. Lets just look forward to another year of awesome technical innovations. I’m excited. I hope you are too :-)

Tech Predictions: 2012

January 2nd, 2012

So, I forgot to write this post before the New Year, so its coming out a few days late. But don’t worry, I hadn’t forgotten about it totally. Just was very busy.

 

  1. Amazon release Adwords competitor.
  2. Amazon opens first physical shop in Q4.
  3. High street starts to change into what it’ll be in the future (blog post coming in a few days/weeks, hopefully)
  4. Google starts to drop content businesses, becomes mainly service oriented.
  5. Google TV starts to become popular, people realise how useful it can be. Many new ways of interacting with TVs will be announced and shown off at CES, and many will be released quite soon into the year.
  6. A few point releases of Android, followed by Android 5.0 (Jelly) at the end of the summer
  7. Apple TV (never to become iTV btw…) adds native apps.
  8. Apple releases new iPhone in June, despite 4s only being out for ~8 months at that time.
  9. Wii U released, flops quite spectacularly, like the 3DS.
  10. New Xbox at least hinted at, at E3. Possibly not officially announced, but I think it might be.

 

So, these are my predictions for this year. I shall write a post going over what I said last year and see what came true etc. I also have my post about the future of the High Street coming up. Both of these will be hopefully soon, but I do have exams coming up, so it might be a week and a bit before they get up. Either way, I’m going to start blogging more again, because I’ve really not been doing much recently.

If you oppose this then…

December 29th, 2011

Stop Online Piracy Act, Protect IP Act, Digital Economies Act.

All sound like good things, don’t they? You’d have to be a pirate, thief or criminal of some sort to oppose one of these things yeah?

Of course you would. Or, that’s what we are told. You can’t oppose this legislation, it protects people. That is what we are told time and time again. Well, we shall not fall for that. We shall not be bullied into agreeing with your crappy rules that make no sense.

In America, there is a big fight happening about the SOPA and PIPA legislations that are trying to be pushed through into law. And last year, in Britain, the DEAct was pushed through in the run up to the 2010 General Election. We are told that these will protect jobs. They will protect legitimate jobs, and punish those who do wrong. Now, there are 2 main issues here:

  • Piracy costs money and jobs

This is the second issue people normally come to when we come across this issue, but IMO, it is the main one. There are a number of people who pirate things

  1. Those who can’t afford.
  2. Those who don’t want to pay because they feel entitled to content.
  3. Those who are against the “man”.
  4. Those who can afford but want to try it out first.

For both 2 and 3, these people will never pay. If they didn’t get the things illegally, they wouldn’t pay. They never will. There is no point in fighting these people because either they will continue to get your stuff or they won’t. Lost causes, all of them. And yeah, I agree that these people are doing wrong things. But theres no point. Such a waste of time and money.

For 1, the only way to solve this is by giving them more money. So stop wasting money on ridiculous bills like this.

For number 4, they are the people who spend more money on content than people who don’t pirate. They already give you loads of money, and they aren’t going to give you more if they can’t get their tasters. They might even spend less.

 

So, basically…I don’t believe that piracy costs money or jobs. If you can prove that people would buy it if they can’t get it illegally, then I’ll retract my statement. But I think its rubbish.

  • We have to break the internet

This is the other issue. Which, to be honest, is kinda moot after my last statement. But even if you do take the stance that it needs to be stopped, for goodness sake think about this properly. This is whack-a-mole. You can’t get rid of these sites by breaking DNS (and no matter what Lamar Smith says, this is breaking DNS) at all. You have to go after the route cause. Most films are pirated before they are even released in the cinema. How does this happen? Inside jobs. Go after your own people for goodness sake.

I’m a man with a website that has copyrighted material. My domain disappears. What happens? Most of my clients are clever enough to find ways around it. And if they aren’t, well…I set up another domain, or I tell people an IP address to get to. Etc etc. They are probably all following me on twitter, Facebook, google+, identica, etc. Think you can stop this by taking domains off the internet? Really? In that case you are insane.

 

In summary…there is no need to do this, and even if there is, this is the wrong way to go. For goodness sake, spend all that money you are spending this on important things. The American government could spend the money on getting rid of their TRILLION DOLLARS OF DEBT. And the industries could spend the money on making better films? Or maybe helping people who are starving in this world while you are worrying about a few 15-year-old getting a free copy of your film. Boo hoo for you.

My main point is, stop with these Bill names that are a way of saying “This is good, no matter what it says, if you oppose it you are a criminal.” I’m fed up of it.

Video of the Week: Humble Voxatron Debut

October 31st, 2011

Firstly, apologies for the lack of blog posts recently, I have been extremely busy with both uni work, and a new website I am creating for someone. I’ll let ya know about it when I’m done, I’m sure my client would love the publicity ;-)

Anyways, this weeks’ video is about the new Humble Bundle. You will all have heard of it if you read my blog. The Humble Bundles are games that you can name your price for a cross-platform, drm-free awesome game and help charity at the same time. This is the video promo for the new one, and I quite liked the video so thought I would share that as well as telling you all to go buy this game. I would if I had any money just now, but it looks pretty awesome.

Best quote from the video : “Whatever the verb for Google+ is”

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube