The technologist in me gets excited about wearable tech. I drool over Google Glass and have bought in to the Nike FuelBand, FitBit and wearable sleep monitors. I even have one of those Burton Jackets with iPod controls on them (I use an iPod classic + skull candy helmet when riding). Wearable tech is going to be so awesome.
Sadly, it’s not awesome right now. Frankly, it kind of sucks. Obviously, my employer makes a fitness product. I like it a lot but it’s for fitness. I’m not talking about GPS watches, I’m talking about SmartWatches, SmartGlasses, SmartShoes and …ugh smart everything? Actually, it’s funny how these companies are setting themselves up for Apple to say “Those Smart Wearable Products? Well, they’re not very smart and they’re not very wearable” (insert photo of clunky huge watches with 4 different features). Obviously I don’t know anything about the future of products from my own employer or Apple so this is just an opinion article about what’s out today.
Let’s talk about the problems with smart products:
Size: Most of the products out there are HUGE. Google Glass looks like you’re targeting nuclear missiles from your forehead. The Samsung Smart Watches are thick and bulky and not stylish. They’re products that overweight nerds would wear. I love monitoring my movements and heart rate. I log a lot of data on myself but to get a full picture of my day with these wrist band things, I’d need to buy the one from Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit and probably one from Samsung just for good measure and that could be doable if they were so huge. Give me a patch I can put on my stomach that reads things. It’s not stylish to wear 3 computers on your wrist that are only half the size of today’s phones.
Every single wearable tech requires a smartphone. The $300 Samsung Watch is worthless without a Bluetooth connection to an Android phone. The same goes for Google Glass. I want a big hunky watch to at the very least make a phone call without needing my phone. Until it can do that, it’s worthless to me. I want to leave the house without my iPhone and rely on Siri all day built into my watch to make calls, stream from iTunes Radio and send a tweet. The tethering thing has to go because while everyone in your tech circle has an iPhone, not everyone does. There’s an argument that wearable tech is for people who have smartphones. No, that’s why I have a smartphone. It’s when I don’t have my smartphone that I want something else connecting me. Can I leave my phone in the car at least and still see SMS messages coming in?
Not quite wearable tech but the Automatic that plugs into my car and sends data to my iPhone. Well, there are other competitors to it out there and they all offer different functionalities but I only have one OBD port in my VW. So I had to pick one and honestly, I am not happy with the features it offer. Oh well, that was $60 (see cost)
We’re not even at all week battery life with the iPhone yet. We need to improve that first. My Blackberry would get a week battery life and so would my flip phone. That was 12 years ago. Phones do more now but that was 12 years ago. You mean to tell me that batteries haven’t improved? I don’t want to get off a plane and find a plus for my iPhone, iPad, Smart Watch, Google Glass, FitBit and MacBook. No…I’m done with charging devices. Make the battery life last a week on these wearable devices or just give up.
$300 for a Samsung Galaxy and $300 for a Samsung watch. No thanks. Again, if the watch was standalone as a phone by itself using Google’s voice tools to work, I’d understand $300 but a device at that cost that requires I also have a smartphone is too much. It’s $150 just for a heart rate monitor that uses Bluetooth which is also too expensive. The Automatic was $60 or $70 and it’s just a piece of plastic with Bluetooth. The king of all jokes is Google Glass at $1500 USD for a pair of glasses that doesn’t even come with a prescription and the main features are Google, taking photos or seeing what my friends are doing on Google+ (the social network no one uses). I have a camera in my backpack that’s amazing, I don’t search with Google and I sure as heck am not using Google+ so this device isn’t for me but at $1500, who is it for? Especially when it works with iPhone but barely but you need an Android $200 at least with a $70 a month phone plan to use the Google Glass. If you’re outside of the cell network (which i me about 50% of the time), the wearable tech doesn’t even work as the voice control requires an internet connection. Which brings me to my final point.
No Device is Standalone anymore:
What’s the deal? Why doesn’t the Automatic for my car give me a CSV file of my car’s actions so I can do my own plotting? Why does it have to go to their servers that I have no control over? I can’t export the data I’m sending them. What are they doing with it? I’m paying for them to host data about my car and tell me very little information. I want that data. When they record where my car is parked so I can find it using the app, I want to see a historical read out of where my car was parked for MY data uses. I want Nike’s FuelBand to give me a text file with my movements and activities. I don’t want to use Nike’s site or google’s site. I want to have my own data and use it any way I wan and delete it when I see fit.
Every bit of hardware released in 2013 required you create an account on a service that silos your device and your data with them. If you switch to a new device, it’s a whole new database and you lose all of that data. Why? Business reasons make sense but it’s also good business to raise the price of oil and people get really upset about that. Why is there no outcry over data silos that own the data we create? We should be really upset about this. If a device I paid full price for stores data on me, I want to see that for myself. When Google Chrome collects data on me anonymously, show me that data before it’s sent to Google.
This is my biggest problem with wearable tech. I’m paying $1500 for a pair of glasses that requires an Internet connection, a smart phone and has limited features that only work with Google services and, at the end of the day, my voice, searches, photos, videos and queries are taken and stored at Google forever.
I’m not cool with that and while wearable tech is exciting, I won’t be investing in anything for a very long time. Then again, I’m also on the verge of getting rid of my iPhone for a flip phone so I guess I’m in the very big minority here.
I don’t have any gamer friends that I know. I don’t know anyone with an Xbox that does anything other than just watch Netflix or Hulu so I’m just throwing this short post up to see if anyone out there has an Xbox One, plays Dead Rising 3, Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty Ghosts and wants to team up for some games.
Ping me and we’ll connect!
I could watch this video every day. I do tend to watch it every week. It’s my favorite video produced by this company and can easily be applied to any task even if that has nothing to do with technology.
I know a lot of very proud Apple employees and this video embodies everything they stand for and work toward each and every day.
I work a job that issues a smartphone and a computer. I have to attend meetings from home sometimes and this requires having technology. I also like the advantages of buying content digitally and not relying on a cable company and digital books are superior to the physical ones. I’m still in the world of tech but today, I took the next steps toward further distancing myself from the tech world.
5-10 years ago, I’d be supported for this decision but now I’m treated like a second class citizen or like one of those people who is Vegan because it’s cool. I’m one of those guys who only uses hand written notes and rocks his tin-foil hat when communicating to someone else. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I’m not depressed and I’m not leaving the world. I’m just leaving the regular Internet and everyone I know is freaking out about that.
The writing was on the wall for this ever since the day I wrote that people should only use services that charge them for it, where you’re the customer instead of just a page view. My activities aren’t just sold to the highest bidder, they’re exploited and my life is mapped and used to target ads and now, to possibly convict me of terrorism. When our activities online are not only sold but also used to prosecute us, I’m done. I’m not going to get preachy about this decision because I’m a huge minority here. There is a day in the near future where I won’t be able to buy a new computer or phone where the hacks that allow me to live on the Internet anonymously will be totally gone. It’s depressing so I feel like I’m sort of using the web in the 90s but for the sake of owning my own data and being protected from a maniacal government, it’s worth it.
Step 2: Purchase a Secure anonymized Tunnel. My tunnel is out of Finland but on an island away from most government jurisdiction. Once the signal leaves my computer, it goes right into an out of the country service. Yes, I’ll lose Hulu and Netflix and other streaming services but I don’t use those anyway so it’s not a loss to me.
Step 3: Order a DD-WRT FlashRouter. I chose a Cisco box that will be flashed with an operating system that has Quality of Service and IP-Mapping specs that far outweigh that of regular consumer routers and the router maintains my full-time tunnels with my Dutch Server and my Finnish secure tunnel.
At any time I access any web content via any device in my home, I’m doing so from another country in a fully anonymous stream.
Protecting My Activities:
Pre-Shared Keys: GPG Keys are encrypting all of my outgoing emails so all content sent by me is signed and hashed so no longer are my messages sent in plaintext and open to be intercepted by anyone that wants to. I also have an SSL Certificate for my server and computers. This way, all of the services that I want to use are protected by a certificate so only a computer that physical has the cert installed can access some of my content. My server requires HTTPS and the SSL Cert be installed on the computer requesting data. Safe, secure and no more sending my content in plain text.
Using the Tor Browser Suite: I wish I knew more about how this worked but Vidalia and Tor work together to anonymize my online activities via a network of global nodes.
In Safari, using blockers so that advertisers, cookies, trackers and packet sniffers are thwarted: I no longer want to use Safari but if I have to, I have a lot of things installed which make my activities untraceable and it took a while to configure but I had it ask me every time a tracker / sniffer on a website was activated and it was a full day of surfing with lots of prompts before I’ve gotten almost 90% of the trackers set to deny.
Abandoning all services that don’t take my money:
There are utilities that enhance my life and then there are time-wasting social networks and none of them take my money. Most often, my activities are making them money and they cave in to give my data to federal agencies the moment they’re asked to. Enough.
I deleted all of the social networks I wasn’t already using and I’ll be purging more as time goes along. I’m still working on finding alternative open source / paid for software to replace a lot of things. Notable, Flickr, Tumblr, AIM/GChat and pretty much every Google Service that I use (Analytics, Voice, YouTube, Mail) Twitter, app.net and Facebook I’ve gotten rid of. The purge will happen slowly but it’s happening. I now have the server capacity to host all of my own content and life moments. I can open some things up to the public and protect the rest to families that have my pre-shared keys.
This is only the beginning:
I really don’t know what’s going to happen next with this change. My social circle is already very small the people that care about me know how to reach me. You’d be amazed how much turning location services off on your iPhone will affect your day to day getting around. Going back to a dumb-GPS unit and uninstalling every social network and Pandora.
The future comes faster when your’e have concrete ideals toward how you use technology. Every video game is a digital download, Blockbuster is gone and you’re forced to rent movies digitally. A credit card is necessary. For years, I never had a credit card and still don’t have one but my debit card just isn’t really doing it and my credit score is keeping me from getting loans…not my score but my lack of credit entirely. These sort of things are going to get more difficult for me as time goes on. For now, I’m happy with the decision and thrilled to have more control over my data outside of the reach of our government and the capitalist companies that mine our data.
I will continue to blog and maybe I’ll find a 140-character open source application that allows me to post blips to a single page on my web server so I can still tweet but do it on my own terms. I don’t think anyone would go out of their way to read it but I enjoy Twitter, blogging and photography. I just won’t give in further to the way things are going and I’m going to do it on my terms. I’d say you should join me but it’s not for everyone.
Actually, in talking to my Dad about these his response was, “I just don’t use the internet at all and remain cash-only on everything” He’s right but he also was pretty bummed when Blockbuster closed. I feel his pain.
but ya know, Blockbuster had a database as well on every purchase. I bet they sold that off to the highest bidder a long time ago. That’s the world we’re living in.
I’ve completely stopped reading the newspaper, books and online articles. I’ve stopped playing the 1-2 games I like (Simpsons and Plants vs Zombies) and I’m spending a lot less time in bed lately. When I lay down, I’m going to sleep, not to read or browse Reddit. Why has my consumption of the best of the web and current events stopped so abruptly?
I sold my iPad.
I didn’t have to sell it but the iPad 3 was feeling very long in the teeth. I owned an iPad 1 and a 2. The 3 was thicker but had a retina display. I didn’t go 4 because I was still financially recovering from the 3. Two iPads in a year was too much. When the 5 came out, wow. The iPad Air is insanely fast, has a thunderbolt connection, has a brighter and more color-rich display, supports more Cellular radio bands and the form factor is perfect. When the iPad mini was announced, I was convinced I’d switch to it once a retina model came around. The biggest reason being the footprint of the device, not the screen. The iPad mini’s screen is too small for me as I can use the iPad 4+ hours a day on average to read books, ingest the paper and occasionally play YouTube videos. I need a device that is completely separate from the iPhone screen and the mini is just not large enough to differentiate itself. However, the mini compared to the last gen iPad, that bezel and weight made a huge difference. I almost went mini until the air came out and whoa, I’m sticking with air.
I haven’t even held an iPad air yet. The nearest Apple Store is 2 hours away but I’m certain that I want it over the mini. The thing is, the devices are almost technically identical so there is a sort of feeling that I should go mini just for the price for performance aspect. Nope…iPad air it is.
While financially, things are pretty tight right now with the holidays coming up and a new business venture that is cost me a bit more than I’d care to admit, I’ll be ordering an iPad Air soon. But believe me when I say that it’s very hard to read on a MacBook or iMac or iPhone. The iPad is my consumption device now and I like selling my iPad 2-5 weeks before ordering a new one simply because I like to make sure I absolutely need one in my life and yes, I need one. While I could go back to a flip-phone very easily and I could ditch the iMac and just use my MacBook if I had to, the iPad has put itself as a device that I must have. I bought the NY Times the other day and the New Yorker and flipping pages, the need to stuff a wad of paper in my back pack and open it in a huge spread is cumbersome. Digital is the way to go and the iPad is here to stay at least for this tech guy.
I’ll be ordering one in a week and look forward to having the tablet back in my life.
I researched for a while about changing up my tires and wheels on the Golf. I went for Motegi Racing’s MR116 at 17×7 which is one size down from the OEM tires on my car @ 18inches. I like the look of these. They’re about 3 pounds lighter than the stock wheels and the black finish is quite nice. It’s also matte so it has the feeling of suede leather to the touch. No joke! The wheels are my second set of performance winter tires. The last were the Michelin Alpin 3 for my Corolla and I loved those tires. These are the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 at 17 inches because I need smaller tires to increase winter handling.
I also stocked up on -27 degree de-icing wash and replaced the stock wipers on my car with Bosch Icon blades on front & back. Finally, I gave my car a bit of leather scrub / protectant for the 2nd time since buying it. Not big changes but certainly some to help me get through the harsh winter up here. I have some other car changes soon so hopefully I can keep this series going throughout the upgrades.