- Software in 2014 (Tim Bray) — a good state of the world, much of which I agree with. Client-side: Things are bad. You have to build everything three times: Web, iOS, Android. We’re talent-starved, this is egregious waste, and it’s really hurting us.
- Making Systems That Don’t Suck (Dominus) — every software engineer should have to read this. Every one.
- IBM Struggles to Turn Watson Into Big Business (WSJ) — cognition services harder to onboard than seemed. It smells suspiciously like expert systems from the 1980s, but with more complex analytics on the inside. Analytic skill isn’t the problem for these applications, though, it’s the pain of getting domain knowledge into the system in the first place. This is where G’s web crawl and massive structured general knowledge is going to be a key accelerant.
- Reading This May Harm Your Computer (SSRN) — Internet users face large numbers of security warnings, which they mostly ignore. To improve risk communication, warnings must be fewer but better. We report an experiment on whether compliance can be increased by using some of the social-psychological techniques the scammers themselves use, namely appeal to authority, social compliance, concrete threats and vague threats. We also investigated whether users turned off browser malware warnings (or would have, had they known how).
Mobile developers to gain a new set of platforms for their apps
One of the perennial technologies that regularly appears at the Consumer Electronics Show is the smart TV set, but they never seem to gain the kind of traction that the manufacturers hope that they will. This may finally be coming to a end, however, as a new generation of smart TVs are poised to enter the market. Even Apple is finally supposed to release their own products in this space this year. And when these hyper-aware TV sets enter the Internet of Things, they are likely to do it running mobile operating systems.
The reasons for this are several. From a purely economic standpoint, the margins on televisions don’t really afford room to pay for a full-blown desktop operating system license, nor the hardware required to support a rich desktop environment. It’s also unclear that anyone would want to run Microsoft Word or other general types of software on their TV. While a free operating system such as a desktop Linux OS might fit the bill, especially since it is famous for being able to run on a meager amount of hardware, it is equally unclear if it will be able to run the software that manufacturers and users are going to want to see on a TV.
Web design trends often carry hefty performance costs
Web and mobile users continue to expect faster sites and apps–especially when it comes to mobile–and this year I’d like to see people who work on the web spend more time focusing on performance as a user experience priority instead of chasing trends.
I recently ran across this article in Forbes, which lists a number of web design goals/trends that Steve Cooper is eyeing for a site redesign of online magazine Hitched. My intention is not to pick on Hitched or Cooper per se, but the list is a molotov cocktail of potential performance woes:
- Continuous scrolling
- Responsive design
- Parallax sites
You can use most of those techniques without creating performance nightmares, but it is unfortunately rare. I feel like I’m living in an alternate reality where I’m hearing that users want simpler, faster sites, and yet the trends in web design are marching in the opposite direction.
All predictions are for entertainment purposes only!
It is a generally accepted requirement that all technology pundits attempt a yearly prognostication of the coming 12 months. Having consulted my crystal ball, scryed the entrails of a falcon, and completed a 3 day fasting ritual in a sweat lodge set up inside a Best Buy, I will now tempt the Gods of Hubris and make my guesses for the year in mobile.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
As the end of December approaches, it’s time to take a look at the year that was. In a lot of ways, 2013 was a status quo year for mobile, with nothing earthshaking to report, just a steady progression of what already is getting more, um, is-y?
We started the year with Apple on top in the tablet space, Android on top in the handset space, and that’s how we ended the year. Microsoft appears to have abandoned the handset space after a decade of attempts to take market-share, and made their move on the tablet space instead with the Surface. In spite of expensive choreographer board room commercials, the Surface didn’t make a huge dent in Apple’s iPad dominance. But Microsoft did better than Blackberry, whose frantic flailing in the market has come to represent nothing so much as a fish out of water.
Here's a couple of Big Questions that may take generations to answer
I spend a lot of time on this blog focused on the very short term issues regarding mobile. Is Apple better than Android. Will Blackberry survive? What’s the best strategy in Candy Crush? But sometimes you need to pull up to 30,000 feet and look at some of the bigger questions, such as:
What are the real long-term health effects of cell-phones? Wearable mobile technology has only been around for a few decades, and in true widespread use for less than 10. Are there health risks to having an RF transmitter that close to your head for long periods of time? More importantly, are there effects on offspring to carrying a two watt transmitter in close proximity to your reproductive organs for 18 hours a day? This is even more significant for women, where the effect would be cumulative from birth, since eggs are carried for a woman’s entire lifetime. Short term studies have shown mixed results, but lifetime exposure hazards are hard to gauge when the technology itself is so new. We really didn’t understand the cost to society of lead in our gasoline until half-a-century after its introduction. A decade of data on cell phones is unlikely to hold all the answers to the scope of the potential problems.
R GUI, Drone Regulations, Bitcoin Stats, and Android/iOS Money Shootout
- Deducer — An R Graphical User Interface (GUI) for Everyone.
- Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap (PDF, FAA) — first pass at regulatory framework for drones. (via Anil Dash)
- Bitcoin Stats — $21MM traded, $15MM of electricity spent mining. Goodness. (via Steve Klabnik)
- iOS vs Android Numbers (Luke Wroblewski) — roundup comparing Android to iOS in recent commerce writeups. More Android handsets, but less revenue per download/impression/etc.
Brace yourself: Address exhaustion is coming
IPv6 is the global warming of the computer industry, an impending disaster that most folks don’t seem to be taking as seriously as they should be. We’re well into the exhaustion phase of the IPv4 address space, but most ISPs are still dragging their heels on supplying the wider protocol to the end user.
Recognising Hand Gestures, Drone Conference, Stubbornly Open Codes, and Remote Mobile Display
- An Interactive Machine Learning System for Recognizing Hand Gestures (Greg Borenstein) — a mixed-initiative interactive machine learning system for recognizing hand gestures. It attempts to give the user visibility into the classifier’s prediction confidence and control of the conditions under which the system actively requests labeled gestures when its predictions are uncertain. (an exercise for his MIT class)
- First Drone Conference Takes Off (Makezine) — forgive them the puns, Lord, for they know not what they do … uble intendre. Write-up fascinating beyond the headline. Dr. Vijay Kumar of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering spoke about socially positive uses for aerial robotics, such as emergency first responders. Dr. Kumar’s work focuses on micro aerial vehicles. He explains that, “size does matter.” As robots get smaller, mass and inertial is reduced. If you halve the mass, the acceleration doubles and the angular acceleration quadruples. This makes for a robot that is fast and responsive, ideal for operating indoors or out, and perfect for search and rescue missions in collapsed buildings or around other hazards.
- Standing Up to Mississippi (Carl Malamud) — yesterday we received a Certified Letter from the Attorney General’s Special Assistant Attorney General demanding that we remove these materials from the Internet and all other electronic or non-electronic media. There was no email address, so I proceeded to prepare a 67-page return reply with Exhibits A-L. I thought folks might be interested in the 7 steps of the production process. Give to his Kickstarter project, folks!
- Open Project (PDF) — A lightweight framework for remote sharing of mobile applications. Sounds like malware but is Google Research project.