Technology

Watching For Answers

The Apple Watch finally goes on sale this month. In the days leading up to availability, we’ve seen criticisms and negative reactions fall along two tracks:

  1. What is the point of a smartwatch?
  2. And why would anyone spend $10,000 to $17,000 on a gold version of what can be had for $379?

Say what you want about the Apple wearable, but those are not the right questions to ask.

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Qardio: Drinking The Social/Cloud Kool-Aid

A blood pressure gauge — a sphygmomanometer — has been pretty well understood since the late 1800s. It consists of a cuff to squeeze the arm, sensors to read the pulses, and a dial/read-out to display the results.

This Christmas, I got my Mom a “QardioArm” — a BP gauge updated for the modern smartphone era. It has all the requisite parts, with the main distinction that the display is now an app on the tablet/phone. And one other critical requirement that apparently medical professionals have been desperately lacking for centuries: the “cloud”. (continue reading…)


TV Tech In Real Life #1

In this week’s episode of “The Following”, Ryan Hardy receives a threatening video via SMS on his BYOD phone. He hands the phone to an FBI tech who plugs in and instantaneously has the video play on the big screen for all in the Command Center to see.

In Real Life, they would have spent 15 minutes futilely looking for the proper cable, another 15 trying to get AirPlay or GoogleTV to sync, and ultimately they’d end up with 10 people hovering around the small screen to watch.


iPhone Panoramas

As many have already said, the iPhone is a surprisingly good camera, on par with most high-end point-and-shoots. But on a recent trip to New York, I developed a new found appreciation for it and liken it closer to a quality 35mm. In particular, the iOS7 Panorama mode is actually quite incredible. And this is on a previous-gen iPhone5!

Panorama mode works by joining frames as you pan the camera left-to-right, with up to 180deg field of view. There are some artifacts that you wouldn’t get with a true panoramic lens (see the motion blur of rushing travelers in Grand Central Station). Yet the responsiveness was quick enough to not muddle the messages of the flashing screens in Times Square, and the ability to stitch the frames of Liberty Island despite the rolling of the boat is really quite amazing.

(Click on images for full size.)

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

 

9-11 Memorial, North Reflection Pool

9-11 Memorial, North Reflection Pool

 

9-11 Memorial, South Reflection Pool

9-11 Memorial, South Reflection Pool

 

Coney Island Beach

Coney Island Beach

 

Liberty Island, from Miss Liberty

Liberty Island, from Miss Liberty

 

NYC Skyline, from Miss Liberty

NYC Skyline, from Miss Liberty

 

Times Square, W46th

Times Square, W46th

 

Times Square, W45th

Times Square, W45th

 


Google Glass: Coming Soon To An Interaction Near You

Google Glass is in limited release to a select group of beta “Explorers”. Robert Scoble is one of them, and he just posted the most stunning testimonial that Google could have hoped for. If techies weren’t drooling over this new gadget before, they are now. Comments to Scoble’s piece were overwhelmingly positive and frothy, but there are skeptics out there. I’m not one of them, but…

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I Want My MPGe

In honor of Earth Day, I will once again declare my love for my Chevy Volt electric vehicle. It has cool features, saves on gas, and yet still has that insurance policy of the “charge sustaining” engine for a total range that is unlike any other (except for maybe the Tesla). But yes, despite the engine as safety net, I will admit that “gas anxiety” is a real thing. I find myself avoiding the use of gasoline whenever I can, maximizing for electric even if it means altering routes or destinations.

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$ufficiently Indi$tingui$hable From Magic

I bought my Dad an AppleTV for Christmas. An avid travel photographer, the intent was to use it to replace the Windows-based HP Media Smart “appliance” that he used for viewing streamed photos on the TV. (The HP worked great for a long while, but eventually stopped being able to index and display new photos – probably because there were so many.) Something else was needed, and perhaps the AppleTV would fit the bill?

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Blink of Time: Inequities of Commercial EV Charging Networks

There are other Level-2 chargers available for the Chevy Volt besides the recommended SPX Voltec; EVs have reached the point where charging units are even sold at local home improvement stores. And in addition to chargers that you own, there is an emerging infrastructure of commercial “charging networks” such as Blink and ChargePoint*. These companies have made an investment in providing chargers in public places, adding the convenience of charging while out-and-about at work, at the mall, or going to your local library, school, or recreation center.

Keep in mind that the 15A Voltec charger was specifically endorsed by Chevy for the Volt because it is not over-engineered for what the car requires as dictated by the car’s built-in 3.3kW charge-regulating circuitry. The same can be said of the Nissan Leaf, even though its AeroVironment charger is rated at a slightly higher 16A.

GE, Schneider, and ECOtotality offer 30A Level-2 chargers, which can deliver a maximum of 7.2kWh of energy. Blink is a division of ECOtotality, and as would be expected, they use their own 30A chargers in their network. But the Leaf & Volt cannot take full advantage of the energy that these high-amperage chargers deliver. And therein lies my issue with the Blink Network. (continue reading…)


Thoughts on the Chevy Volt

A Car as Political Football

When I bought my Chevy Volt this month, I had no idea I was buying into politics. I just thought that given the escalating gas prices, my ever-predictable commute, tax/rebate incentives, and the gadgety nature of the car itself, an Electric Vehicle was a reasonable choice for a bleeding-edge tech guy such as me.

But no, apparently I am an idiot, an intellectual elitist who wants to flaunt my enlightenment. I’ve bought into some sort of Obama-led government meddling with GM. Well, as a registered Republican I can say this without partisan bias: sometimes a car is just a car, “going green” is not just for hippie tree-huggers, and given that the Volt actually pre-dates Obama, the Obama-hating conservatives with questionable logic skills should just STFU!

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