A decadesworth of consumer technology.

television

1991

i did not keep a television for the twelve years i spent living alone, preferring books and music to the ghastly and limited broadcast offerings of the 1990s.

2003

When we first started living together, my wife-to-be produced her elderly SONY Trinitron television, a cubic-metre of black plastic shrouding a buzzy, hot, squealing cathode-ray tube with its fuzzy, staticky, swollen, heavy, greyish, screen.

2006

In the relatively-wealthy period we enjoyed before having children, we splashed out on a beautiful, if modestly-sized, top-of-the-range high-definition SONY Bravia flat-screen LCD television, cast the old cathode-ray unit into the ocean, and marvelled at the details and the colours of our new television.

2015

The SONY Bravia television had held up well, despite my young daughter scratching its screen by driving and scouring a plastic-toy DottyWot1 across its surface, and despite her malevolent cousin smashing its remote-control unit with a hammer.  However, just before Christmas, the picture started turning pink and blue and becoming frustratingly-unwatchable a greater proportion of the time than not.  We held out for a few weeks.

2016

A replacement television had become necessary, so we bought another SONY Bravia, this one with built-in wi-fi and a big red “NETFLIX” button in the centre of its remote control.  This new television:

  • was much cheaper
  • has a bigger screen
  • has higher resolution
  • is smarter
  • weighs less than half
  • consumes less than half the power

…than the old television, and it has been embraced as a wonderful thing by the whole family.  The characteristics of the two machines are:

Specification Old Television New Television
Model Number KLV-V26A10 KDL-32W700C
Date Manufactured JAN 2005 OCT 2015
Date Purchased JUL 2006 JAN 2016
Price Paid NZD$3,150 NZD$747
Screen Size 26″ 30″
Weight 17.6kg 6.8kg
Wireless Connectivity none 802.11a/b/g/n
HDMI Inputs 1 4
Power Consumption 145W 62W
Screen Resolution 1366×768 1920×1080
Made In Japan Malaysia

What strikes me heavily is the size and nature of the difference a decadesworth of progress in consumer technology has made, and this is a very-mainstream and very-pedestrian example of that progress — there is an unimaginably-vast quantity more to come.

 

Notes:

  1. DottyWot is a character from “The WotWots”, a children’s television programme made in New Zealand: https://www.wotwots.com/
Advertisements

AppStore vendors are culpable for Facebook sucking your text messages.

ReadWriteWeb’s recent coverage1 of the discovery that the ever-hungry and privacy-destroying Facebook has been reading text messages from the smartphone devices of users deploying its mobile application is interesting, not least because the outcry seems to be finger-pointing at Facebook… because Facebook is ever-hungry and privacy-destroying.

This finger-pointing sidesteps a core issue about the governance and quality-control arrangements for the app-store ecosystems.

In the case of Apple, the app-store ecosystem is much more closed than open, and applications are subjected to some level of scrutiny through Apple’s eyes of what is and what is not fit for deployment to millions of customers carrying iOS devices. Applications are denied entry into Apple’s walled garden through selectively-appled architecture rules such as “we don’t approve of that authentication technique” or “that application might be useful, but it’s too much like a web clipper, so it’s not allowed in here”.

Nothing really obvious steps out of Apple’s iTunes Terms and Conditions2 that any reasonable person might be able to interpret as signalling their consent to having applications accessing their text messages or their address books or their email or intercepting their telephone calls. The closest thing seems to be:

  • Consent to Use of Data: You agree that Licensor may collect and use technical data and related information—including but not limited to technical information about your device, system and application software, and peripherals—that is gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, product support, and other services to you (if any) related to the Licensed Application. Licensor may use this information, as long as it is in a form that does not personally identify you, to improve its products or to provide services or technologies to you.

With something like the Facebook application deployed across literally millions of devices, it’s unthinkable that the scraping of text-messages from user’s devices comes as surprise either to Facebook or to Apple, or Android, or Microsoft — it’s unclear from the press coverage to date which devices and operating-systems the text-message reading applies to.

Where exceptional access to private information is being taken by an application (and it cannot be hard to scan the code to discover that access through calls to methods like getAllTheTextMessages or interceptThePhoneCall) the app-store owners must be forced to do a better job of allowing end-users to make the release-or-not decisions for themselves.

It’s also, sadly, not something that comes as any surprise to the users of these applications who are the saleable meat-product of these social-computing mega-vendors.

  1. ReadWriteWeb story about the Facebook mobile application accessing text messages on smartphones: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/report_facebook_read_users_text_messages.php
  2. Apple iTunes terms and conditions: http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html#APPS

First-Mover Advantage and BYOStuff

I still feel like a bit of a wanker pulling out my ipad in meetings…

…lamented the author of a recent tweet i found interesting because the stigma of the tablet has all but disappeared from my:

  • Work: where tablets are quite prevalent, with about as many being company-provided as are personally-owned devices, and the defining behaviour in my jaundiced eyes is not producing a tablet in a meeting or a workshop (that’s a good thing) but having it sitting on the desk as a beacon of status and having, or being fiddled with impotently, or being neglected as too hard in favour of a paper notebook, rather than being used for productive common good work.
  • Community: at conferences and other events the tablet ratio is much higher than at my work, but so too is the ratio of productive use in note-taking, micro-blogging for the benefit of remote attendees and colleagues back home, researching background information on the fly, fine-tuning presentations, and for sharing with other attendees.
  • Industry: Stephen Prentice, in his Gartner research note Technology Trends That Matter† that for media tablets:
    • First-mover advantage has already passed [and] it no longer garners the attention and buzz that it did in 2010, to the point where not using a tablet is likely to be more commented on.
  • Society: during my morning public-transport commute to work it’s become unusual not to see at least one passenger using a tablet, though they’re generally consuming news, social media streams, or ebooks rather than participating or being involved in content creation.

This tip-of-the-iceberg aspect of consumerisation-meets-the-enterprise in Bring-Your-Own-Device is quickly being echoed in non-physical domains, such as:

  • Bring Your Own Identity, whether that’s a governmental or commercial identity-proofing service, or whether that’s from something like Facebook or LinkedIn
  • Bring Your Own Productivity Software, from the likes of Google, Dropbox, and Evernote and from the as-a-service subscriptions to teamware such as Basecamp or code libraries on github.

With the first-mover advantage already well behind us on the device front, it’s likely we’ve already missed the boat in understanding (first priority) and providing guiding governance (second priority) how to get the best for everybody out of the BYOStuff stack.

† Prentice, S. (2011) Technology Trends That Matter, Gartner Research, Article G00212538