There has been a lot of news lately about new technological advances being developed for cars. First up is the electric car. Major car manufacturers started out with gas/electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius and begun to move to all electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf. A lot of this innovation by the big manufacturers has been prodded by Tesla, the now widely known electric car company. Adding more fuel to the fire, the rumor this week is that Apple has hundreds of people working on an electric car.
If electric and driverless car projects were being developed exclusively by the major car manufacturers and small startups I would be mildly excited. Now that giant technology companies like Google, Apple and Uber (Uber is already huge if their rumored financial results are to be believed), innovation will be fast and furious. The major car manufacturers are terrified with the possibility of competing directly with the brand and money of Apple. Uber is terrified with being leapfrogged by Google in a market they created. What all this means is that there are a lot of companies that are highly motivated to innovate quickly and that electric and driverless cars are going to develop much faster than people expect. I think we could see electric cars go truly mass market by 2017 and driverless taxis being publicly introduced in 2017 and mass market by 2019.
After taking a two month break, Teach History Sunday is back. On Sundays I enjoy blogging about the history of technology. As my seventh entry, here are some excerpts from the 1985 Playboy interview of Steve Jobs.
The year was 1985. Steve Jobs was not yet 30, was reporting to new Apple CEO John Sculley and just came off of launching the Macintosh. The trajectory of both Apple and Jobs would change course soon as Steve Jobs would find himself fired by the company he founded. Because of this critical period of time it is particularly insightful to read the 1985 Playboy interview of Steve Jobs. My favorite quote is the following:
You know, Dr. Edwin Land was a troublemaker. He dropped out of Harvard and founded Polaroid. Not only was he one of the great inventors of our time but, more important, he saw the intersection of art and science and business and built an organization to reflect that. Polaroid did that for some years, but eventually Dr. Land, one of those brilliant troublemakers, was asked to leave his own company—which is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of. So Land, at 75, went off to spend the remainder of his life doing pure science, trying to crack the code of color vision. The man is a national treasure. I don’t understand why people like that can’t be held up as models: This is the most incredible thing to be—not an astronaut, not a football player—but this.
Steve Jobs was very prescient of recognizing the coming Internet revolution even back in 1985 as expressed in this quote:
The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people—as remarkable as the telephone.
Jobs wasn’t right about everything though. His view that IBM would crush the clone makers had it backwards – it was actually IBM that would get beat:
A lot of people thought we were nuts for not being IBM-compatible, for not living under IBM’s umbrella. There were two key reasons we chose to bet our company on not doing that: The first was that we thought—and I think as history is unfolding, we’re being proved correct—that IBM would fold its umbrella on the companies making compatible computers and absolutely crush them.
A few days ago I got around to installing Mac OS X Yosemite. Here are some quick thoughts (mostly complaints really)…
During the installation process the status bar said “less than a minute remaining” for well over an hour. I know it’s notoriously difficult to have an accurate status bar for long running processes but it’s still egregious. In the end the installation took well over two hours.
The look and feel is largely the same as Mavericks. iOS 7+ styles such as icons that are brighter and flatter and the frosted transparency effect are brought over but that’s it really.
The window controls to close, hide and expand / contract windows have been moved from the top right of windows to the top left. I find this change counterintuitive.
There are new bugs with the mission control virtual desktops. Switching between windows can often cause the application to be hidden and in its place an empty black screen. The most annoying thing is that you are stuck with the black screen among your virtual desktops until you restart.
The upgrade broke my Ruby on Rails and Homebrew settings. There are workarounds available thought I had to do a few custom changes to get one of my projects working.
I’ve had a weird wifi issue where I couldn’t connect to a network. I’ve had some issues in the past and normally turning off / on wifi or restarting my computer as a last resort would fix the issue but this time it just plain wouldn’t work for the whole day.
Since last year Mac OS X has been a free upgrade which is a nice change. At the same time, even when it’s free I feel like there is no real point in releasing a brand new OS every year when the improvements are minimal and there are lots of bugs. I have this same opinion on iOS and with the rampant problems with that release I don’t think I am alone in this opinion.
Apple officially unveiled the Apple Watch on September 9th and while the excitement has cooled down somewhat, hype will undoubtably pick back up as the device gets closer to launch sometime early next year. There does not seem to be a consensus as far as whether the Apple Watch is expected to be a huge hit for Apple just yet but I personally am starting to get the feeling that it will end up being a bit of a disappointment. I should clarify what I mean by disappointment: Apple will likely sell many millions of Apple Watches at launch but I expect the long term appeal to be rather limited compared to the iPod, iPhone and iPad. I reserve the right to change my mind as we get closer to launch, and future revisions of the Apple Watch could certainly change my stance, but here are two indicators that I see as problematic for Apple…
A recent Piper Jaffrey survey shows that only 16% of teens plan to buy an Apple Watch. This compares to 73% of teens which say they plan to buy an Apple iPhone.
Bill Burr has been one of my favorite comedians for many years. Whether he’s talking about sports, relationships or growing up in Boston, Bill always makes me laugh. One of my favorite bits of his is his take on Steve Jobs. Here is a clip from a few years ago at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival as Burr goes off on our favorite “techno-jesus”. Warning: Language!
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are now available so I thought I would post my brief thoughts on both (how original). Let’s start where I started though: the 3GS.
My first smartphone was an iPhone 3GS. Despite it being far worse than my older phone at actually making phone calls I enjoyed it. There were other smart phones on the market but none of them were very good in comparison. After going skiing one day I reached into my pocket and only got a handful of snow instead of my 3GS (I forgot to zip the pocket back up at some point). I decided to replace my lost phone with the newer model at the time: the iPhone 4S. While I liked the 4S I had to question my purchase. Android phones now had nearly all of the same features and nicer, larger screens. It wasn’t a no brainer purchase like the 3GS. Was I getting sucked into the cult of Apple?
Last year my wife bought me an iPhone 5S for my birthday and while I liked it, I would say that it was objectively worse than the top of the line Samsung phones at the time. If it wasn’t for the fact that I develop iPhone apps I would surely have switched to Android last year. I really hated how Apple chickened out with the iPhone 5 and 5S by simply extending the height of the phone a mere 0.5″ instead of making a drastically larger phone to compete with Samsung.
Which brings us to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple has finally released the larger phones that people have been demanding for years. This past week I stopped by the Apple store at Grand Central Station to try them out. The iPhone 6 is the perfect form factor in my mind, being much larger than the iPhone 5 while still being comfortable to hold in one hand. You can make an argument that top of the line Android phones can be a better value than the iPhone 6 price wise but as far as overall quality goes I think the iPhone is back on top. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, feels way too big and goofy to me. Maybe if I was female and carried around a purse or if I had hands the size of LeBron James I wouldn’t mind it as much.
I think that ten years from now when we look back we will say that the iPhone 6 was the last great evolution in the iPhone line. The form factor is perfect and the performance is more than good enough for everyday computing needs. Outside of a few nitpicks (battery life, internal storage size, ram size) I fail to see how the iPhone will get more than simply incrementally better in the future. That’s why the iPhone 6 is the perfect phone iPhone.
Every Sunday morning I plan to blog about the history of technology. Up first is 1999′s TNT original movie Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Made for TV movie? How good can it be? Answer: it’s my favorite made for TV movie of all time and among my favorite movies in general. Read on to find out why.
Pirates of Silicon Valley focuses mainly on the history of Apple and Microsoft starting in the 1970s through the mid 1980s, with a short wrap-up taking place in 1997. We meet Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer while they are students at Harvard and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak while they are sometimes in and sometimes out of school. Most of the film centers around the growth of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as individuals and covers how their careers and companies rise but then go in opposite directions starting in the mid 80s.
What makes this movie so good is that it sticks very close to the actual history while still remaining quite interesting as well as having terrific performances from its lead actors. Noah Wyle in particular in incredible as Steve Jobs while Anthony Michael Hall (yes that Anthony Michael Hall) as Bill Gates is also fantastic.
Steve Wozniak himself says in the following YouTube clip that the movie is basically step for step in line with the actual history:
Steve Jobs liked his portrayal so much that he invited Noah Wyle to imitate him at 1999′s MacWorld event following the release of the film:
If you happened to watch last year’s movie Jobs just know that Pirates of Silicon Valley is better in almost every way. Better acting (sorry Ashton), better script and more historically accurate. On top of it all, Pirates manages to cover not just the life and career of Steve Jobs (up until the mid 90s anyway) but also Bill Gates as well. Rotten Tomatoes happens to agree with me, giving Pirates an 89% rating while Jobs has a rating of 27%. Not bad for a TNT original.
There is yet another Steve Jobs movie coming out next year, this time based on the official Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. While I did enjoy Isaacson’s book, based on what few details I’ve heard about the movie, I’m not holding out much hope that it turns out well. In an ideal world, the cast and crew of Pirates of Silicon Valley would get back together to make a sequel that would start off where the first move left off and finish probably at the death of Steve Jobs.
Now that I’ve convinced you that Pirates of Silicon Valley is a must watch movie you can dive right in and watch it below: