Company Blog

Android vs. iPhone

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 02:09:57 by Blog

Android vs. iPhone

The above infographic demonstrates head to head comparison between the two biggest rivals in the smartphone market at the moment. Take a look at the pros and cons of each smartphone along with the market success of each.

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World Without Apple

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 02:08:00 by Blog

World Without Apple

This infographic presents a timeline for the most important product launches in Apple’s history, keeping an eye on the stock value at the time of every product launch. Guys at Infographic Labs analyzed several data around the AppStore and had a look at the complete entertainment product offer coming out of Cupertino. So, take a look if the World without Apple is even possible.

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Relax. It’s only a Splinter.

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 02:05:22 by Blog

In its short life, the internet has gone through a number of geological ages.  Terms like “Net 2.0” have been coined to place markers on these transition points.  Another one is starting to make its rounds, and unlike most of its predecessors it is coined more from a sense of foreboding than hope.  The new term is “splinternet.”

The concern expressed by the term is this: that the internet’s development is so multi-directional, not only in terms of the types of software and coding standards used, but in the development of physical technologies that interface with them, that the internet is going to essentially “break apart.”  Instead of being a cohesive whole, the internet is going to “splinter” into small islands that can only easily communicate with each other, goes the theory.

Sounds like scary stuff, doesn’t it?  It might be if it were grounded in a rational worry.  It is not.

Break the word down

One way to make the case that this isn’t a problem is to look at the word itself.  “Splinternet” is actually a generalized term to refer to a number of changes that affect only part of the internet.  This may make them seem similar enough to describe with a single term, but like the word “sanction,” which has come to mean essentially opposite things (to allow and to penalize), these changes actually cancel each other out.  In doing so, they reveal the concept’s underlying contradiction.

The first of these changes we’ve discussed here at length: that is the proliferation of different, for lack of a better term, “speakers” and “listeners” (broader, a bit than “output” and “input”).  The “speakers” can be referred to as anything which is part of the process of creating and transmitting the data.  This would include operating systems at all levels, data encoders and anything which sends this data out, like a video camera.  “Listeners” would include anything which accepts the data and does something with it.  This would include web browsers or any similar data translating environment, and just about all hardware.  Most software would probably fit into both categories.

The fear, in a nutshell, is that companies are moving towards making speakers and listeners that only understand each other, forcing customers into little pocket islands of communication.  The response, in a nutshell, is that this is an absurd worry.

There will never be a single standard.  And that’s good.

This fear is refuted by the fact that this worry has existed already for decades and has never come to fruition.  Apple and Microsoft, two of the biggest offenders in this category, are famous for trotting out new standards that don’t play well with others.  Sometimes these developments do successfully push users to them.  Other times they push users to create things like Linux.  Still other times, they push users to create things on Linux that work with Windows.  No company has ever had success at making the entire internet bend exactly to their will on a whim.

Furthermore, the very problem that we are complaining about we are also helping to create.  If you create “standards,” then by their nature you run the risk of giving inordinate power to whoever is responsible for maintaining them.  One commentator addressing this problem noted that “Google works because it is standardized.”  Well, not everyone wants Google to find them, something we’ll discuss more in a second.

You can’t complain on one hand that companies like Microsoft have too much power, and then on the other that Google doesn’t have enough.  Insisting on standards means that you are eventually going to have a single authority in control of them.  Single authorities are not what the internet is about.

This brings us to the second definition of the word.

More than one way to skin a Splinter

The other definition of the term refers to a more traditional problem: that of countries imposing their own restrictions on the internet, usually to keep out disallowed content.  As an example, Wikipedia reports that “digital content available to U.K. citizens via the BBC’s iPlayer is ‘increasingly unavailable to Germans.’”   I’ll pause for a second to give you a moment to discover the flaw you get when you put this problem together with the previous one.

Answer: make another player.  If you are in Germany, and you want something that you can’t get through iPlayer, there are other media streamers.  The web has “splintered”, you see.  In fact, Wikipedia also reports that “many people outside the UK circumvent that rule by buying a virtual private network account with an IP address located in the UK.”  I have a friend who moved to China who said that he’s able to regularly jump over the Great Firewall.

There’s also a flip side to this that if we thought for a second about, we would quietly cheer.  One of the “problems” that has been mentioned in association with this splintering is that marketers are going to have a much harder time figuring out how to play the system to get maximum bang for their buck.  As one who remembers the internet pre-advertising, I have to ask how bad this is.  For those of you small businesses out there, it doesn’t mean that advertising will become impossible.  It will just mean that you’ll have to put thought into who you reach, and how.  Again, this is a bad thing?

We choose standards.  They don’t choose us.

The premises behind the worries about the “splinternet” are simply flawed.  The inability of the internet to come up with a single set of rules that every last person plays by is its beauty.  No one ever guaranteed that everything on the internet would be equally available and equally accessible to all people at all times by all methods.  In fact, by definition of the internet’s construct, it’s impossible.

Ways of being on the internet have come and gone, and will continue to do so.  A long view of it has shown that every problem spawned a solution, even if sometimes it took all of a year or two.  The strength of the internet isn’t that we’re all the same.  It is that we’re all different, but we’re all connected by a web, which we can come and go from as we please

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iPhone 4S – Playing to a Tough Crowd

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 02:03:26 by Blog

It’s hard not to look at the iPhone 4S through the lens of Jobs’ recent death.  It was released the day before he left us, and is the latest version of one of Apple’s most revolutionary products under his helm.

Whatever type of analysis we want to make about how he might have felt about what he saw and read, though, sooner or later life does go on.  This phone went through a serious period of anticipation, and is the latest entry in a massive phone/tablet tech war.  People are going to be using this phone soon, so it behooves us to move on and take a good look at it.  Fortunately a lot of people did before the big news dropped, so we have a lot of good information to go on.

Reality vs. expectations

A curious thing is noted when one goes over the reviews for the iPhone 4S.  On the one hand there is a persistent theme of disappointment.  No one seems to have been overwhelmed by it.  And to be sure, there’s no one “game changer” advancement included in the new device, though there are a few that come close.  In fact, the physical shell is exactly the same, one of the critics’ more frequent complaints.

The biggest of the other letdowns was in the lack of any solid information about the iPhone 5, which Apple does promise to be something more revolutionary.  Rumors of that device have been flying all year, and the geeks are getting restless.  All this came together to give the 4S an air of simply being a holdover in lieu of something greater.

On its own merits

Is all of this fair, though?  Because when one looks at the iPhone 4S, one doesn’t get the impression of a rushed-out replacement with a few extra bells and whistles.  While this isn’t a ground-up redesign, the advances included with this device are quite important.

Here are some of the most impressive new features of the iPhone 4S:

    iOS5 – Apple’s new operating system is finally made public with this new phone.  About 200 new features come with this new OS, but the one that is garnering the most attention is the fact that integrated into it is Apple’s iCloud technology.  This file sharing system makes its debut with the 4S, and promises efficient transfer of data between mobile devices, as well as with other systems running Mac OS X or Windows.  Used on the 4S, photos can be automatically shouted out to multiple locations.
    Better voice controls – This is becoming another major arms race, and Apple claims to have taken the lead with the 4S thanks to their voice recognition software Siri.  This kind of feature has to be road tested hard to really be measured, but either way voice integration into the phone’s functions is reported to be high.
    Hardware improvements – The 4S bumps up the iPhone engine with a dual-core A5 processor, the same chipset put into the iPad 2.  Apple also squeezed a second antenna into the phone for connection redundancy.  Battery life was improved to 8 hours of 3G talking, 10 hours of video watching, and 40 hours of music.
    Better camera – The camera was improved in all respects, but most drastically in picture speeds.  Photos are taken three times faster with this camera, a problem from the iPhone 4 that many people noted.  Resolution was also increased, and flash noise decreased.

One missed expectation to be sad about

Countering these is at least one problem based on something other than this not being the iPhone 5.  It’s again a failure to meet expectations, but this time a fair one.

The iPhone 4S will not run on 4G networks.  While some ambiguity over how specific these terms even are, is starting to develop, the 4S proves the worries right.  One benchmarking study found its uplink speeds to be underwhelming, with downlink speeds not much better.

On the other hand even this problem is muted due to the 4S’s greater coverage.  The 4S will be compatible with both CDMA and GMS markets, meaning that you can use it just about anywhere.

Price – the biggest feature?

There’s more.  Sprint announced that it will offer an unlimited data plan option, something which is becoming hard to come by in the mobile world.  Plans including unlimited data start as low as $69.99.  Also for the first time the three largest national carriers – Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint – all announced that they would sell the phone.  Besides the choice of options, this could create a service war that customers would only benefit from.

Even better are the prices for not only the new 4S but some of the previous models.  While purchase of the 4S without a plan is typically high, with a plan it clocks in at a modest $199.  At the same time Apple lowered its prices for its predecessors.  The iPhone 4 was dropped down to $99, and the 3S was reduced all the way to free (again, with plans).

Expected is too expected?

So is the problem with the iPhone 4S simply that we’ve raised the bar impossibly high for Apple?  One commentator seems to think so, telling people to get over themselves, that this effectively is the iPhone 5.  The features listed above are solid enough that it’s difficult to disagree.

The unveiling of the iPhone 4S was the first Apple tech event that wasn’t run by the charismatic Jobs.  His death was still a day away, but his health was known to be failing.  Either way, he commanded a stage presence that left a big set of shoes for successor CEO Tim Cook to fill (though watching it myself I thought he held his own).  It very well could have been all too much “different” for a first-impression set of eyes to see through.

Whatever the reason for the lukewarm response, the 4S seems to be better than its initial reviews state that it is.  Remove it from its unique history and look at it as a standalone new product, and from what we’ve seen, chances are you’re going to see something you like.

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A News Rundown About the Great Growing Cloud

  • Posted On  2015-07-13 02:02:03 by Blog

Cloud technology is evolving so quickly that it’s near impossible to keep up with all of its developments.  We’re not even going to try ourselves.  Let’s instead do a brief news summary of some of the biggest recent advances in this field.

China flies further into the cloud

Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced this week that they will be building a 7,500 square meter cloud data center facility for Range Technology Development, a Chinese cloud provider.  The press release stated that this is a reaction to expanding customer needs, both private and governmental.  It further stated that the data center will be designed to fit “carbon emission reduction plans” in the country.

Here’s why this is a very interesting development.  While this isn’t the first introduction of the cloud to China, this is a technology that may soon run the risk of running afoul of Great Firewall standards.  While crafty users have always found a way around China’s notorious censorship, now, more than ever, the country will need to provide to businesses a more sanction method of getting outside of it in order to remain competitive.

Cloud technologies are becoming increasingly distributed.  The trend of advancements in this field is for farmed out bits of the web to become smaller and smaller.  This is going to make it all but impossible for state agencies to keep a lid on what kind of data goes in and out.  How they will deal with this problem once they realize the breadth of it is an open question.

Cloud9 goes dark but stays on

The unexpected state-wide blackout that hit California in early September had one positive benefit: it wound up being an effective test run for how well the cloud would handle disaster-level situations.  While the news article detailing how well Cloud9 dealt with it very much reads like a company-written press release, there’s no reason not to believe that it’s accurate.  If that’s the case, the answer to this is “blazingly well.”  The article states that not a single customer was affected by the outage.

Let us remember that this was the whole point behind the design of the internet in the first place: to make a network so robust that even a nuclear strike couldn’t disable it.  In that sense, cloud technology is one of the developments that is looking to further realize this original idea.  We could very well be entering an era in which downtime seriously starts to become a thing of the past.

WeVideo introduces cloud-based video editing

This is a simple concept, but one that has the potential to seriously take off.  WeVideo has launched the first cloud-based collaborative video editing web site.  It’s difficult to say for certain from a glance, but it looks like they thought of all of the basics.  The site seems easy to use while still containing enough editing options to create high-quality videos.  It’s already set to work well with different types of smart phones and tablets, and to make sharing on social networks easy.

Nevertheless it’s the underlying idea that’s exciting.  Even for the experienced user, video editing can be hard, laborious work.  Using the cloud to allow editing by multiple users seems like the kind of idea whose time has come.  We’ll keep a close eye on it and see if it is.

CloudLinux doubles in size

CloudLinux Inc. announced recently that its operating system, CloudLinux OS, is now being run on more than 5,000 servers, double the amount of just six months ago.  CloudLinux bills its product as the only commercially supported shared hosting Linux OS.  It has the notable feature that each user account is put into its own Lightweight Virtual Environment.  This allows the administrator to put up safeguards that prevent a single bad user from impacting the entire server, the most common problem on shared hosting servers.  In that way it’s much like virtual private servers, and is designed to work with them, but without the level of virtualization that makes it appear like you are the only user on that machine.

With simple shared hosting starting to get squeezed out by all of the other hosting services providing more reliability at not much more cost, this is a development worth watching.  If this OS succeeds, expect to see others start to adopt some of CloudLinux’s tricks.

App developers find a Buddy

What Buddy Platform, Inc. has opened up for beta use is simultaneously expected and exciting.  As the number of portable devices grows and along with it the number of desired apps, programmers need to pump out their material faster.  Buddy helps in this endeavor by providing for developers APIs of common application functions such as user accounts, photo albums, location-based services and so forth.  The APIs would be in the cloud, accessed by the apps.

The short-term gain from this is that applications, especially those from budding freelancers and small IT firms who have limited resources but have ideas that are based on thinking outside the box, will come more frequently and be of higher overall quality.  The long-term gain is even more fascinating.  If this trend sticks, it means that programming will become even more distributed, opening up more opportunities outside of traditional IT business channels.

Trying to capture the cloud

For our last news item we come to an article which proves that cloud technology is operating by a new set of rules.  Marketing research firm Research and Markets (couldn’t they have chosen just a slightly less redundant name?) has added to their list of research publications the Frost & Sullivan report “Cloud Data Analytics: Technology Penetration and Roadmapping”.

As cloud technology rapidly develops, trying to get accurate cost-benefit data is going to prove increasingly labyrinthine.  Even just trying to determine who is using your technology at any point will be difficult.  What Frost & Sullivan is offering is surely going to be something that you’re going to see more often.  Even hosting providers can’t tell just from looking at it exactly where the edges of the cloud are anymore

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