Google’s yearly developer conference has never had the same fanfare as Apple’s WWDC, but that does not mean it is any less important. Since the rise of Android, Google has evolved from a simple search company into a mobile powerhouse and back again into an all-encompassing internet services giant. CEO Larry Page took the reins back from Eric Schmidt with deft precision, allowing the company to become more beautiful in its presentation and more grand in its desires.
Oh, what’s that? It’s Tuesday you say? Well that must mean it’s time for another classic rendition of Apple Hardware Upgrade. On this edition of Apple’s “whenever the hell they want” ritual, we have a lovely update to their flagship desktop: the iMac. Ever since their 2009 redesign, the iMac has become a powerhouse of …View full post
I’m not digging Nintendo’s new way of announcing hardware. Last year Nintendo unceremoniously announced the 3DS with a simple press release before the full unveiling at E3. While the handheld device was still very well received, there was a lack of surprise which would have been nice. Yet again, Nintendo is bowing to media pressure …View full post
Among the many blunders of the original launch of Palm’s webOS and the Pre was the fact that the platform was unveiled at CES in 2009 and then released in June of that year. While there was tons of hype immediately after Palm’s announcement, by June most of that excitement had cooled off. Especially with …View full post
Well, here we are. Less than 24 hours from Apple’s big event and the rumors keep pouring in. We know that the Tablet will debut tomorrow, it is certain, but along with CEO confirmation, there is the obligatory pre-release analysis. Many are excited about the new tablet and all the wonderful possibilities that it will …View full post
Since CES, tons of speculation has flown through the internet as to what Apple will do to combat the girth of impressive Android tablets shown off at the annual electronics show. To be certain, Apple has quite a number on their hands as they go to war with against fresh, tablet optimized OS and very …View full post
I’ve never seen the original Tron. Disney’s futuristic 1982 computer adventure movie was by all account a flop back in the day. A lot of people didn’t get the notion of being sucked into a computer. It was hard to comprehend the idea programs and complex computer systems at a time when very few people …View full post
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/05/google-io-2013-refinement-enhancement-unification/
In 2008, Intel clearly thought it had created something unique with the Intel Atom processor. It was a chip not meant for speed, but efficiency. Intel would use the Atom to carve out a whole new segment of personal computing. The company called them Mobile Internet Devices, Ultra Mobile PCs, netbooks. It didn’t quite work out.
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/05/intel-announces-the-next-generation-atom-processor/
Nintendo cannot seem to catch a break. The company announced a second annual operating loss – a far cry from the runaway profits the company saw during the Wii’s heyday. The Wii U has seen sales plunge after a modestly successful launch. It sold just 57,000 consoles in January and overall sales are at 3.45 Million. It had sold about 3 Million by the end of last year. Now, the company has announced that it is going to pass on a major keynote during this year’s E3 trade show. Instead, they’ll just have software at the show without any pomp or circumstance.
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/04/the-nintendo-wii-u-too-little-too-soon/
My last post on this blog was March 26th, one month ago. For that hiatus I have few excuses. There are few things I enjoy more than the opportunity to write in my haphazard fashion, ruthlessly examining the latest in tech and internet culture. The month of April was a powerhouse month, with plenty of device launches and changes in our industry. Yet I was silent. For that, let me apologize. But rest assured, I have remained quite busy.
The last time I gave a general status update on my life it was a reflection on the tumultuous realizations I had to make about my career and my passions. This last year has been an affirmation of those choices and a refinement of my skills. It has been an intense time because I have been tremendously hands-on: learning and refining skills that I will need to make this blog better and become a capable writer.
Last semester, I had the joy to learn under Professor Kerric Harvey of the George Washington University. I’ve already mentioned her before but I must continue to laud my appreciation for her educating. Her lectures united the world of technology with the greater social impact of media – it was a fusion of the two things I know best: nitty-gritty technical information, and the greater role of the media in our society. With her instruction, I was able to appreciate this industry and my Journalism major on a macro-level: a vast, connected web of wires, signals and messages that boil down to people. Actual living people. This humanist view of the cold realm of technology greatly impacted me and has helped me to understand the tremendous responsibility I have as someone learning the journalist ethic.
I also joined my college newspaper. It has taken a few years of procrastination but I am now the Senior Web Producer for The GW Hatchet, an award-winning paper that I am incredibly honored to be working with for its 110th volume. It’s a steep learning curve as I begin to bring my WordPress skill, content management and multimedia chops to the next level, but I’m always excited for the challenge.
I have a lot on my plate but I find myself truly growing. There was a time when this blog was really my only extra-curricular activity, but these days it’s something I reluctantly have to put off. I love writing and if anything all this multimedia stuff has made me realize how much I love it. I will always take the challenge of describing a scene in words over just showing a video.
I desperately miss talk and writing about tech. I will try my hardest to keep writing and posting. I always say that more content is coming, so I won’t promise that. I will say that I haven’t forgotten this place where I write my heart out. Let it become whatever it wants, but I’m still here.
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/04/what-a-month-it-has-been/
In my early days of blogging, I dedicated a lot of time to deriding Facebook. At the time it was germane to my life. I was a high school student and Facebook was the epicenter of my shallow, teenage life. At the same time, I was learning about design and good web practices, which stood in contrast to the haphazard construction of Facebook. It was frustrating to see this immensely popular website be so screw-ball. After all, I came to Facebook during its most chaotic days. The advent of the app craze, which transformed our profiles into massive kludges of different games and plug-ins; the changes to the profile picture system; the newsfeed becoming populated with ads; Project Titan; the timeline, etc etc. The Facebook I started with has completely changed after nearly seven years.
But did it ever grow up? Through all the changes, it has been hard to say if Facebook could ever shed its skin of shallow social networking – its attraction to the superficial. Facebook wants to be a place of real connections: the deeply personal and the stalwart professional. While users have adapted the service to those ends, Facebook never gave users the tools or design to match this deeper level of connection. The Timeline got close. Making profiles more focused on photography and changing your wall into a continuous list of your digital life compelled users to take it more seriously. Now that user profiles were sharpened and given a more consistent visual design, Facebook needed to link everyone together with powerful, elegant tools.
Yesterday’s announcement of the completely redesigned newsfeed may be the answer. Facebook’s reasoning for the changes is to refocus the newsfeed into a “digital newspaper.” The design is based on the UX of Facebook’s mobile app, with a left-handed side bar for navigation. The feed is now divided into separate feeds, each specializing in different aspects of Facebook connections: friends, pages, photos, videos, music and groups. It allows for better navigation and better organization Facebook’s discrete relationship modes.
These changes are significant enough that it can change the way that users use Facebook. I for one have tried to ignore following pages and celebrities simply because they clutter my newsfeed. Now that the streams are separated out though, I can worry less about the mess. It allows Facebook to serve the dual purpose of social network and twitter-like news feed.
The design is also a lot cleaner. Photos are given a greater area on the feed and the overall feed has a stronger blue color scheme. Thumbnails are higher resolution and apps like news agency plugins are better organized. It’s all about refocusing the use of the newsfeed from a one-stop information dump into a more powerful, selective tool for looking at different aspects of your social networking. Best of all, it removes a lot of the clutter of the old system and the empty white space that I have always hated.
With this move in addition to the upcoming Graph Search, Facebook has completed a very important transformation. The site is starting to feel grown up. It’s moving past its adolescent phase of random and inexact functionality into a mature social network that users can custom tailor. The Timeline allowed users to cleanly organize their digital persona. Graph Search will give Facebook access to a powerful, natural language search system to sort through the connections. And now the revamped newsfeed will make Facebook look more attractive and be more powerful in sorting through incoming information.
Facebook will be rolling out the rebuilt newsfeed over the next few weeks.
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/03/facebook-unveils-revamped-news-feed/
“For fuck’s sake Gabe,” you’ll begin. ”Assassin’s Creed III came out in October. 90% of people beat the game months ago. You’re talking about it now?!” Yes, I am. Last night after not playing for months, I finished Assassin’s Creed III. If you haven’t beaten it, stop reading because this is a no-holds-bar spoilerfest.
For those of you who did complete the game, tell me: did you like the ending? Most didn’t and I for one think it may have been one of the worst endings of a video game I’ve ever seen. Possibly worse than the much-publicized ending to Mass Effect 3. The reason why I want to talk about it now though is because I loved the Assassin’s Creed series from start to finish. I even liked the third installment despite its many technical issues and the horrendous ending. I feel the game deserved a better end, and the series deserves to be held up to the standard it was portrayed as having.
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/03/the-assassins-creed-frustrations-and-explanations-for-the-end-of-assassins-creed-iii/
When Steve Jobs was asked about the possibility of innovating in the TV market, he said this:
The problem with innovation in the TV industry is the go-to-market strategy. The TV industry has a subsidized model that gives everyone a set top box for free. [...] The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everyone a set-top box, and that pretty much undermines innovation in the sector. The only way this is going to change is if you start from scratch, tear up the box, redesign and get it to the consumer in a way that they want to buy it. But right now, there’s no way to do that….The TV is going to lose until there’s a viable go-to-market strategy. That’s the fundamental problem with the industry. It’s not a problem with the technology, it’s a problem with the go-to-market strategy….
Before Job’s comments, we never heard someone so influential make the qualms about TV ownership so apparent. His statement rings true today, we lack the go-to-market strategy. Even when you have the device, the content, the software, and the wherewithal to build something truly great, you have to get that product out there. In the case of television, you have to get it on the cable lines or the internet. You’d think this is a simple task, but with a few smart (insidious?) executives making dubious choices, it could get a lot harder.
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/03/building-a-better-tv-platform-part-2-obstacles-to-the-future/
We may have beaten SOPA over a year ago, but the war against piracy and copyright infringement never ceases. As we speak, The Pirate Bay finds itself displaced from its native Sweden. Kim Dotcom has launched his new Mega digital storage locker amidst controversies of its security and protection of copyright material. Here in the states, the ISPs have taken up a new technique in the war. Colloquially it is known as the “Six-strikes System”, but they call it the Copyright Alert System.
CAS was developed back in 2011. Originally conceived as a more harsh three strike system, it was reformed and delay into its more current form. At its core, the CAS is meant to empower ISPs with the ability to stop infringing customers. First with simple notices and progressively more aggressive warnings and eventually service disruption. While I have some serious issues with the implementation of copyright-driven policy mandating internet service, there are some interesting factors to the CAS system that should be looked at.
As of now, the five largest ISPs have started using CAS: Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner, Verizon, and AT&T. Comcast and Cablevision have outlined their implementations. While more or less the same, there are some legal shades of gray between the two. At the most basic level, copyright holders now have access to ISP traffic through a company called MarkMonitor that looks for copyright material being improperly accessed (they’ve got algorithms and stuff but don’t ask me how they sort the good from the bad). When copyright holders suspect a consumer of illegally obtaining some of their IP, they contact the service providers.
The ISP will then send alerts to the account holder via the ISP-provided email and in the browser. The first two alerts are simply warnings letting the customer know that someone has complained (basically a “chill the fuck out man” alert that is meant to save your ass from further inconvenience). The third and fourth warnings (at least from Comcast) have more “urgent” language and will require the account holder to log into their account profile and acknowledge the alert has been seen. Again, nothing ridiculous.
By the time you hit the fifth and penultimate sixth alert, you’re in the danger zone. The in-browser alert will stay perpetually and the ISP can start throttling or cut you off entirely for a specific period. This depends on the terms of service of each ISP to determine how severe the punishment is. Customers will be allowed to appeal the complaints to the American Arbitration Association, which then will look over the case and determine the severity (or actual existence of copyright infringement). In the case of Comcast, you can also contact the Comcast Security Assurance agency, which will lecture you on copyright infringement before removing the alert and stop throttling. Only God knows what happens after the sixth strike….
So while CAS seems pretty fair, and indeed it is far better than SOPA, there is a lot to dislike conceptually. As I said, I take issue with ISP service being dictated by the whims of copyright holders. I understand that piracy is a real issue, but the internet is a lot more than piracy and for one’s access to be choked because the RIAA seems dangerous. Much like SOPA, there are questions of what entails infringement. Some have called CAS fundamentally flawed. I wouldn’t say fundamentally so, but I would say that the burden of proof lies somewhere between the word of a copyright holder and a consumer trying to save his or her ass. In that game, it’s so subjective that I wonder if this system can ever be effectively used.
Until we know, watch yourself out there torrent-ers, projectfreetv-ers, and recorders.
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/03/psa-the-copyright-alert-system-is-active/
The Chrome OS has an interesting history. I wouldn’t call it successful, but I wouldn’t call it troubled either. Chrome OS is a fascinating concept: strip down an OS to its most basic necessities and focus everything on the browser. Build your applications with increasingly powerful web tools. It may be a solution in search of a problem, but Chrome OS has piqued my interest for quite some time. Ideally, it is the heir to the netbook: low powered laptops that are meant for online activity only. Conceptually, those machines were great: cheap and utilitarian enough to get some work done. In practice, they were just crappy laptops. But Chrome OS always seemed to bring out the best in manufacturers. Chromebooks were good looking and made the most from their modest hardware by having even more modest software. And the OS has matured into something a great deal more useful than just a browser window.
Google wants to take it further though. The Chromebooks have been interesting experiments in new conventions like marginal internal storage and new silicon like the ARM Cortex-A15 powered Chromebook from Samsung last year. Now, Google wants to make the Chromebook a premium machine and their answer is the Chromebook Pixel.
The Chromebook Pixel was originally thought to be fake. Last month, a video leaked from a strange marketing company called Slinky that has dubious at best connections to Google. The strange origins of the video as well as less than professional responses from Slinky lead many to believe that the project was an elaborate hoax. However, it seems that the Chromebook Pixel is very much real.
The Chromebook Pixel is built around the same industrial design concept as Apple’s Macbooks. It is enclosed in an aluminum unibody, much like the Macbook. But it is far more angular and industrial looking. It is meant to be sparse and solid, lacking any sort of labels or markings on the body. Speakers shoot up through the keyboard like a Mac, which is backlit. It has a glass trackpad which has been meticulously worked on, like on the Macbooks. I hate to make all the comparisons, but they are unavoidable.
The name comes from the display. The Chromebook Pixel features a retina-class display at 2560×1700 resolution for 239 ppi. A unique 3:2 aspect ratio on the 12.8″ display gives it a taller display area than 16:9 and 16:10 displays. A lot of graphic designers need the extra vertical space. The display is also a touch screen, and Google has optimized Chrome OS to better handle touch input.
Powering the high resolution display is a Intel Core i5 and HD4000 graphics. Most Chromebooks have used Intel Atoms or ARM processors, but the Pixel needs a bit more oomph, so Google is using a stronger Intel chip. It’s paired with 4GB of RAM and 32 or 64GB of flash storage, depending if you choose Wi-Fi or LTE.
Now comes the hard part: the price of $1299. Google has placed a lot of technology into the incredibly precise frame of the Chromebook Pixel, and it is the cheapest way to get a retina-class display on a laptop. The company wants to shift the Chromebook into a platform that can offer a premium experience, and this is their ticket in. Still, it’s very hard to justify a $1300 price tag for a machine that is largely useless without an internet connection. And even then there are only so many things Chrome OS can do.
The Chromebook Pixel is a truly unique laptop in a field of increasingly generic products. I don’t think that Google has sold us yet on the “browser-as-an-OS” concept yet, but having good quality hardware like this could pique more interest.
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/02/not-a-hoax-google-announces-the-chromebook-pixel/
When Nintendo announced the Wii U before E3 2011, they started the eighth generation of video game consoles. Nintendo acquiesced to the fact that HD graphics and modern network architectures were integral to the gaming experience. The Wii U puts Nintendo’s cards on the table: HD graphics and a new controller with a touch screen. But Nintendo’s Wii U has performed poorly so far. After initial sales of about 400,000, last month the Wii U pulled in a pretty dismal 50,000 units. Developers are slow to bring new content to the platform, wary of the technical challenges brought by the Wii U’s weak CPU and the new controller. Nintendo is working on a game plan. But they have always been the wild card in the console race, choosing innovative new methods of game design over brute force hardware. The real question is, how will Sony and Microsoft duke it out?
Last night, Sony entered the fray by announcing the Playstation 4. Details are scarce at this time and we don’t have any idea of what the console looks like or its software suite. Likely, Sony wants to correct their blunders from E3 2005 when they focused on specs instead of the games and will focus on that during the annual convention. We do however have some good technical information. So indulge the specs.
Permanent link to this article: http://digit.algravitas.com/2013/02/sony-announces-the-playstation-4/