Which walls do you prefer?

This past week or two I’ve had the fun of playing with my new Google Nexus 7 tablet. I can now read all of my books and news feeds without having to either remain in bed or drag my laptop to the deck. What impressed me even more was how simple the setup process was, and the environment that was established for me. I’m a pretty heavy Google user already, so I went ahead and linked up my Google account when I placed my order. When my tablet arrived, I started it up, verified my account, and instantly all of my apps, e-mail, music, and books were¬†synchronized¬†to my device. There was a handy widget on the home screen directing me to what I have, and where I could go to get more (that is, the Google Play Store). All of this gave me a few moments of pause and reminded me that as much as we say we hate them, we still love walled gardens. Continue reading Which walls do you prefer?

Why I Disabled AdBlock

Once upon a time, one of the biggest frustrations I experienced as I browsed websites attempting to find cheat codes for my Sega Genesis was that of pop-up ads. It seemed like every other website I went to attempted to sell me something through a large, sometimes not-quite-on-screen pop-up ad. I never once clicked on the advertisement itself, and rarely even looked at what it was selling. I knew how to shop, thank you very much, and didn’t need to be told that I could win a free Pentium IV PC (wow!) just by clicking the window in the right spot. Continue reading Why I Disabled AdBlock

The Grad Student Unplugs: The Internet vs. My Homework

After one semester as a graduate student, I realized while the internet could be my servant, but it was rapidly becoming my master. Having instant access to unlimited YouTube videos, LA Times stories, my school’s library archive, and a news feed of everything my friends were thinking – it all beckoned me with a promise that I never had to be bored. Lacking will-power, I would find myself watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer until 4 A.M. or wondering why I was Liking my friend’s Facebooked baby pictures instead of writing the economics report for which I thought I had opened my MacBook. Continue reading The Grad Student Unplugs: The Internet vs. My Homework

Microsoft’s Surface: The Tablet to Compete with the iPad

If you had eavesdropped on any of the conversations I’d had this last week about technology, it was probably about Microsoft’s future. With their unveiling of SmartGlass at E3, Windows 8’s Release Edition, and my general love of their Windows Phone platform, there was a lot to talk about. And then, late last week, there was a rumor that Microsoft would be releasing a tablet that would be self-branded, rather than simply licensed. This was a big rumor, and initially many people had doubts. Was the event related to Nokia? Perhaps to Barnes and Noble? When both of them denied any involvement, people began to go forth with the rumor. Continue reading Microsoft’s Surface: The Tablet to Compete with the iPad

Microsoft vs. Apple: Things Just Got Interesting

Okay, I admit the title is a bit misleading: the ‘war’ between these two tech giants has been interesting for years. The developments over the last week, however, warrant some commentary.

I’ve already argued that our mobile and desktop experiences would be converging, and it seems that Microsoft and Apple have both made big moves towards this just in the last week. Microsoft has unveiled what they are calling “SmartGlass,” which functions as an answer to both AppleTV and Nintendo’s Wii U tablet controller. Microsoft is fighting a battle on two fronts, in this case, but it gives them a unique chance to combine different services in an unprecedented way; if Microsoft can turn the Xbox 360 (or its follow up) into a competitor for Apple TV (such that it is used by non-gamers, as well), and then integrate both its Windows Phone 7 (and by this fall, WP8) and its Windows 8 Desktop platforms in a simple and useful way, then I can only see success.

But there is a trick to this, of course. You don’t want to force people to purchase an entire new ‘library’ of tech just to get some benefits. Including iOS connectivity with the SmartGlass is smart, and probably necessary at this point. Microsoft needs to leverage the fact that tons of people are using Windows on their desktops: if they can convince people that an Xbox will enhance the experience they are already having, in addition to giving them something new (gaming, streaming onto a TV, that sort of thing), then expect a different future.

Here’s the thing I find most fascinating: as someone gets more entrenched in a particular ecosystem, it seems less and less likely that they will make the switch. Once I’ve got a Windows 8 computer, perhaps a tablet, an Xbox, and a Windows Phone, anytime I go to upgrade, I’ll likely want to stay with what works well with the rest of my system. Of course, iOS integration for SmartGlass makes a difference here, since an iPhone could interact with this whole system, at least somewhat. We’ll see how comparable the experiences are, however, once the service comes out this fall.

My biggest takeaway from E3, however, is that I was underwhelmed with Sony. I’m hesitant about Nintendo’s Wii U, for a variety of reasons, but at least it is something I haven’t really seen before. Microsoft is pulling in their power from other markets, but Sony just seems to be coasting right now. Maybe that’s enough, since they can always fall back on television and other electronics sales; Nintendo is banking on gaming, and Microsoft is banking on a fully integrated digital system. I’m not really sure what Sony’s solution should be here, either. They’ve stepped it up in the mobile gaming world, yes, but I’m less convinced that they will have long term success. I hate to say it, but I actually am starting to think that world will be dominated by the likes of iOS, WP7/8, and Android. Lack of physical input aside, people are already carrying these devices. For everyone who has a smartphone (and kids are getting them younger and younger), this solution makes a lot of sense.

Apple held their WWDC conference yesterday, and we are seeing the combination of various iOS devices. If you own an iPad and an iPhone, they will connect seamlessly, which is a smart move. Further, OSX is beginning to look more like iOS, to the point where my previous sentence may apply to it, at least partially. Apple, too, is investing in their own cross-platform ecosystem. The price of entry is high (have you priced Apple’s computers?), but the integration has already proven powerful; we’ll see if Microsoft can match it this fall.

Image via Flickr.

Windows Phone 7: Why I Left My iPhone

I seem to still be finding my niche for blogging here at Evangelical Outpost. I’ve become the local guru on hip-hop, which doesn’t surprise me too much. Looking through my history, the only other topic I’ve written enough about to warrant a conclusion about my interests would be technology. Continue reading Windows Phone 7: Why I Left My iPhone

Video Games, Intelligence, and…Happiness?

I was going through my usual blogroll, which includes the ever useful and interesting site Lifehacker, when I came across this post. A defense of video games? Being a gamer myself, I couldn’t help but click through, to see what sorts of arguments were going to be put forward. Continue reading Video Games, Intelligence, and…Happiness?

More Cell Phones than Humans in the US

Apparently, there are now more cell phones than humans in the United States. Frankly, I was a bit surprised. I suppose I shouldn’t be, what with many people in business carrying a phone for their job in addition to their personal phone. I guess I’m just surprised because I still know some people who go without a cell phone, which means that the business types more than make up for those who don’t even have one. Continue reading More Cell Phones than Humans in the US