Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Welcome iPad

There are a number of devices that seem to have a market that overlaps.  For example, the Amazon Kindle (the eBook reader) will read books...but we also have seen a market develop for Netbooks...and another market for smart phones...and another market for laptops.

Apple has introduced even more confusion in to the marketplace with the introduction of their new tablet computer, the iPad.  The media described it as a larger looking iPhone.  Now, you may read the description and say "hey, this sounds a lot like a Tablet PC, and those didn't work out that well for Microsoft!"...if you did, you have a lot in common with me because I said that.  Then again, there are times when technologies come before their time.  Perhaps Apple will be the company that bring this type of machine mainstream!

I worry that all these varied options may eventually harm consumers.  With all the different options out there, something is going to become obsolete.  If you invest $300 in an Amazon Kindle, and they lose the battle to Apple in the eBook market, what happens to you?  It's like the people who invested in the HD-DVD format (which was a format of high-definition DVD that was made obsolete by the competing Blu-Ray format).

I am always interested in the inter-battles going on between big Internet and technology companies.  Google is battling Microsoft ...who is battling Apple...who is now battling Amazon.

Only time will tell....

Friday, January 22, 2010

When Good People Get Taken Advantage of...

There are a lot of opportunists in this world, and that is a sad thing to see.

For example, take the recent tragedy in Haiti.  The Red Cross and other humanitarian efforts have been taking legitimate donations, and I think that is awesome.  In an excellent use of technology, the Red Cross is using a new service called "Text 2Help" - this service allows you to send a text message to a special number and donate $10 (this will appear as a charge on your cell phone bill).  This is the first major catastrophe that I can remember seeing this used, and it's apparently worked.  This text donation plan has raised over $21 million dollars, according to CNN. 

However, as I said before, the opportunism is shocking.  Thomson Reuters reports that there are a number of reports of people taking advantage of this situation.  For example, people are using the same spam mailing lists that they use to try to sell you Viagra and say your bank accounts have been hacked to send out emailing claiming to be important people in Haiti who need YOUR help moving money...or advertising false charities and taking donations on behalf of the victims of the earthquakes...or setting up Web sites inviting people to enter their email address for more information on how to's just a little disheartening.  It's not like this didn't happen before computers; people would call up and do this over the phone years ago and use it as a pretense to get people to give out credit card information.

It always seems so sad that people resort to things like that.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Windows 7 "God Mode"

One cool thing about new software is that there are all sorts of things that are built in there that will be found.  Most of the time, you are looking at bugs or other problems in the software, but recently a Windows 7 feature has come out called "God Mode".

This feature is basically a secret warp zone to most of the common tasks that you typically find in different areas of Windows.  For example, display settings are in one spot, adding printers is somewhere else, and things like "Set up ODBC sources" ... well, I couldn't even tell you where that is normally.

Anyway, this is an interesting only question is why was it so deeply hidden?

Link to Article

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Spring 2010 Schedule Change

I just wanted to mention this.  I will be teaching CIS 125 M02 in the Spring semester.  One of my other classes did not run, so my department chair switched me in to this course.  This course meets Tuesday/Thursday from 10:20 am to 11:35 am in Paterson.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Late Registration Date and Times

For those of you who are current students, the late registration times and dates.  If you have not registered yet, these will be the last dates you can register for the Spring 2010 semester and not miss any classes.

Main Campus, Wanaque and Passaic
Jan 14, 15        1:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Jan 16              9:00 am – 12 noon
Jan 19             11:00 am - 7:00 pm

If anyone wants to see me for advisement in person, I will be at the PASSAIC campus during the following times:
Thursday, January 14 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Friday, January 15 from 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Monday, January 04, 2010

10 for 2010 (Technology Predictions)

I was thinking about what we are going to see in 2010, and here are some things that came to mind.
  1. Standard DVD Format Gets Phased Out - Blu-Ray will become the dominant DVD media, and as a result prices will fall on these devices.  I wouldn't be surprised to see some low end Blu-Ray players going for $100 this Black Friday.  Since Blu-Ray players can play your old DVDs, people will be less resistant than they were when VHS was replaced by DVD players.
  2. Standard Internet Sales Tax - Some smart politician somewhere will author a bill that will come up with a solution to the whole Internet sales tax issue.  Too many states (Rhode Island, North Carolina) are fighting legal battles with vendors (Amazon) over laws that were originally written in 1887 (really), and e-commerce has become so large that someone is going to fight this battle.
  3. Office 2010 Will Disappoint - If one looks at the specifications, Office 2010 seems to do some clever things.  Microsoft Works is being phased out and there will be new tools "Word Starter" and "Excel Starter".  These will be the cheaper versions of the tools, and this is great because no one seems to be able to differentiate between "Works" and "Word".  The Ribbon interface will find its way in to Publisher, Visio, and the rest of the tools that it wasn't integrated into previously.  Microsoft will also introduce Web-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that will allow people to use the tools online for free, much like Google Docs.  With all that said, I just wonder if Microsoft may be overly ambitious, and cut some corners with the release of Office 2010.  I also feel like the operating system release followed by the Office release will split the focus of the company, and they are more likely to pour resources in to any Windows 7 problems that arise, following the debacle that was Windows Vista.  This would obviously take away from other projects in the company (such as Office 2010).
  4. eBooks Take Off - eBook readers (such as the Amazon Kindle) will become more popular.  As demand goes up, prices will fall, and this will make these devices available to many people.  College students will be driven by lower prices (for example, my Internet/E-Commerce class textbook goes for $113 new, but the eBook version is $57 for a 6 month subscription), and the ability to electronically mark up your book without having to worry about ruining the resale value.
  5. Netbooks Emerge - Netbooks will take off and become a popular alternative to a laptop for people that just want a basic portable machine.  As we see with cell phones, people don't always want all the stuff you get with a PC, they just want something to do the basics on, and Netbooks will fill that void. 
  6. eNews - More newspapers and magazines will work towards making a digital model work.  According to an article linked from Magazine Death Pool, 367 magazines ceased printing in 2009 (and another 64 went online only).  This industry HAS to adapt, because times are changing.  To be quite honest, the only reason I get my paper is for the Sunday coupons, and the rest of the paper is immediately recycled.  If advertisers decide that online is where the money is, print media will have to follow.  They are also competing for advertising dollars with radio stations (both local stations like 1010 Wins and national stations like NPR) and with TV stations (again, both local news outlets like News 12 and global stations such as CNN). 
  7. New Careers - Careers with titles like "Medical Informatics" will start to arise.  There is a need for people who have knowledge of both medical and technological concepts, and this seems like an area that will start to grow.  For example, insurance companies may not want to pay for a full-time nurse for someone, but instead have someone monitor remotely.  That person would need to interpret the results and know things like blood pressure and O2 saturation...but also be able to troubleshoot the technology if there are problems.  NJIT is one local institution that has already created a degree program for this.
  8. Bing Takes Off - Bing will start to do what Microsoft Live Search didn't do: take away market share from Google.  Not a huge percentage, mind you, but it will start to make headway that other search engines could not.
  9. Skype Makes a Comeback - Free from eBay's control, Skype will find direction and challenge VoIP providers.  Technology like a Wireless Bluetooth Headset for the PC (i.e. this one: AmbiCom SKYHS-KIT) will attract people who want the freedom to roam their apartment while making calls. 
  10. The Mets Win! - The Mets will win the World Series.  (Hey, a guy can dream, right?)  I doubt even the guys at will be predicting this one.
I hope you are enjoying your 2010.