From iOS to Android, part 2: ecosystem shock

Last time, I talked about two key aspects of technology that tend to make loyal customers: platform ecosystem and user experience.

It was a natural transition from owning Macs for the better part of a decade to iPods and then finally iPhones.  Apple has done well to keep the user experience very fairly consistent between all the platforms.  That is probably their single greatest contribution to the technology world: coherent ecosystem.  In other words, the way you work on a Mac tends to be naturally the way you would work on an iPhone.  And that’s a good feature.  It makes for loyal customers.

So why, then, did I jump ship?

Continue reading “From iOS to Android, part 2: ecosystem shock”

online IDEs

I love IDEOne.  It’s a fully debuggable online compiler for a bunch of software languages.  And there’s no need installing a plugin to format source code correctly on my blog, when this service offers embeddable links.  Like this:

By the way, this isn’t compiling. Anyone have any pointers? See what I did there? Pointers?

The collision of Boxes

I’m a big fan of Dropbox.  I (and the rest of the internet) have been using it in free mode for quite some time.  I probably don’t need to tell you what it is 1.  What I particularly love about the cloud is that it kills two birds with one stone:

  1. Syncing your files painlessly between all your devices (computers, phones, tablets)
  2. In the process, giving you easy backup (by way of mirroring your data across multiple personal devices, as well as in the cloud)

And as the cloud storage market gets more crowded (Box.com, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google’s Drive, Apple’s iCloud, etc.), the race to $0 makes for a pro-consumer landscape.

Continue reading “The collision of Boxes”

Bearable wearable

I’ve always loved following tech. The emergence of the wearables market has been a fascinating one: a convergence of small form factor, low power, and high performance electronics.  In particular, this market really couldn’t have happened without the smartphone industry blazing the trail, since wearables leverage multiple technologies like touch screens, accelerometers, compasses, and wireless interfaces.

And yet, I’ve been pretty reluctant to actually buy a wearable.  I’m a late adopter.  I’m also fairly inundated with enough tech already.  So having another device to sync, charge, socially link, and generally pay attention to, wasn’t a prospect I was eager to jump into.

Along comes Fitbit 1.  As cool as this thing is, I can’t take credit for becoming a user.  It was thrust onto me.  Forsooth, it was a gift.  But such a good one!

For all the other tardy adopters out there, allow me to fill you in: Fitbit is basically a pedometer.  A really fancy one.  It’s also a watch, a silent alarm, and a general purpose fitness tracker.  In fact, they call the watch-like wearable a “tracker.”

So what about this specific product made me change my mind about the market in general?

Form factor

I like that the Fitbit line of products are smaller than the smart watches.  I like its sleekness and space-aged contour.

Competition

The Fitbit works really well since it is a social device.  You can view your friends’ progress, which naturally engenders competition.

Meaningful Metrics

Take a look at the kind of data you can glean from it:

Fitbit dashboard
Fitbit dashboard

For people like me that like to quantize as much of their lives as possible, this device is very addicting!  In particular, the sleep efficiency data is worth the price tag alone.  I’ve had sleep issues in the past, and seeing my slumber numbers in vivid detail somehow helps me cope.

Silent Alarm

Dovetailing with the above, someone like me whose sleep hygiene isn’t the best can have difficult time rousing to an alarm.  But traditional alarms, being by nature audible, have collateral consequences to our partners in bed.  My wife has had very early and tandem wakeup times, since I get up quite early for work.

But no more!  The Fitbit has a vibration motor in its tiny little body.  And affixed to my wrist is the ideal place to wake me from deep sleep.  It’s almost uncanny how transformative this has been to both my waking problems and her sleep quality in the mornings.

In fact, I’m so excited about its alarm feature, I’m half tempted to pull the trigger on this sleep experiment: Polyphasic cycles.  Well, one thing at a time.  First, 10,000 steps per day, then sleep hacking.

The STEM gap

There’s a great info-graphic and article on Adecco, concerning the widening gap between available Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) candidates and those job vacancies waiting to be filled.

I have much to be thankful for this year.  In particular, I have Adecco to thank for placing me at a great, international science-based company — Thermo Fisher Scientific.  Our relatively small local branch is a great group of people to be working with.  It’s challenging, new, exciting, and growing.

So it’s odd to think that I’m part of only 8% of all STEM grads still doing this 10 years later.

STEM Jobs Infographic: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics

So where are all the STEM people?  It’s a strange dilemma.  If nothing else, the problem makes me thankful that the job future looks more secure today than it did years prior.

Function pointers

Here’s a great quote by John Bass on an EDN article about function pointers as an implementation of state machine design:

Failure complexity is a metric of a design.

http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/embedded-basics/4406821/Function-pointers—Part-3–State-machines

OS X Mountain Lion

So I finally got around to updating my iMac from Lion to Mountain Lion last night.  Wow, I am pleasantly surprised!

For the past year, this was a regular occurrence: systemic memory rot.

It was ridiculous.  I felt like I was using a Windows machine.  No offense, 95% of the world.  But seriously, it was crazy bad.

And now after the Mountain Lion update, it’s like a new machine.  And all for $20.