Monday, September 29, 2014

Five Future Technology Predictions from IBM

There aren't just technology predictions, but also technology R&D and plans by IBM:


Digital security evolves from rules like passwords we create to algorithms based on who we are.


Technology will enable truly student-centered, and thus student-adapted, learning.


Imagine living in a city that adapts itself to what we do, what we like, and what we need.


Physicians will have access to vast knowledge, and get guidance on how to treat cancer, at our person DNA level.


Augmented reality, wearable computing, and location-based tech will transform our shopping experience.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kenmore Aggressive Ads and Flawed Algorithms

Recently I needed replacement bags for our Kenmore canister vacuum, and searched for them on the Sears website.  It was very easy to find and purchase them. 

(image credit)

Then, I began to see the following on my social media profiles and other sites  I frequent:




ASW Inner Circle


Actually, aside from Facebook and ESPN, I don't visit the other sites all that much.  But there you have it.  Very curious, eh.  Evidently Sears has advertising tie-ups with these sites, and their pursuit of me feels more than a tad aggressive.  These are different advertising mechanisms, that is, from Facebook to Yahoo! and Google.

What's worse, I think, is how evidently flawed their algorithms are:  The focus of many of these ads are for vacuum bags.  As every homeowner and housekeeper know, the average residence takes many years to use up on a package of six vacuum bags.  In other words, once we purchase a package, we simply don't need to purchase another one until several years later.   

So why would Sears or Kenmore try to sell me more of the same?  They're definitely on my watch-out list now. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Queries and Quips on Apple (2)

This week with the advent of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch upon us, I posted the following on Google+ and Twitter with brief queries and quips.  Until February this year, I had an earlier generation iPhone, but now I revel in my big-screen Galaxy Note.  I found these offerings to be more of follower products than of trailblazers, hyperbole from Tim Cook notwithstanding. 

I see what Apple has been reduced to: A competition on features, instead of a reinvention of categories.

So how long can Apple tap the Steve Jobs mystique (i.e., reality distortion field) of selling cool but expensive devices?

Do you have an iPhone 5, but aren't ready for an iPhone 6? Just download the new iOS 8.

iPod was an enabler for the more important iTunes business model: So is Apple Watch an enabler for a business model in the works on the Digital Self revolution?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Queries and Quips on Apple (1)

This week with the advent of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch upon us, I posted the following on Google+ and Twitter with brief queries and quips.  Until February this year, I had an earlier generation iPhone, but now I revel in my big-screen Galaxy Note.  I found these offerings to be more of follower products than of trailblazers, hyperbole from Tim Cook notwithstanding. 

iPhone 6 at $200 - 400 with a contract, and iPhone 6 Plus at $300 - 500 with a contract.

Besides Samsung, Huawei and Sony are poised to compete with the latest 'Apples.'

Who will buy Apple Watch, and how many of them? I thought wearing a watch was long passé.

Control functions for the Apple Watch: digital crown (knob) + touch screen.

Watch-making is a $62 billion business, but for now I see Apple Watch competing mainly with other smart watches.

The wearables market is relatively small now, but analysts expect it to grow majorly.

Apple now has a formidable team of design executives: How will Jony Ive work with all of them?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Increasingly Inadequate Mobile Battery

I posted this video recently on Google+ and Twitter, and commented:

Charging mobile devices, while on the go, is truly a nuisance... But this Q Bracelet, hmm, I don't know.

I wonder how well consumers will actually take up this product, but you can probably tell that I won't.  I'm not inclined to wear jewelry, and, Tanya, no, that Q Bracelet is not stylish.  It looks cumbersome and geeky.

Essentially what QDesigns has designed is a band-aid solution to an increasingly inadequate battery.  I imagine there are chemists, engineers and technologists working to improve what has become an indispensable thing for modern day life. Maybe Elon Musk and his staff at Tesla Motors have made good progress. 

By the way, I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note II earlier this year, and its battery is noticeably weakened already.  Charge becomes an issue especially when I use Maps and shoot photos.  I've now taken to charging it two to three times a day, which isn't a problem at my office or home.  But on the go, it takes finesse to conserve juice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Suspect iPhone 5 Engineeering

My daughter told me that her iPhone 5 battery doesn't hold a charge for very long anymore.  That's not surprising, as she's had this for two years.  She's a very bright, active high schooler, often out and about with practice, events and friends, and my wife and I don't want her walking around with a dead phone.

So I gave her a portable external battery, but she doesn't seem inclined to use it.  Instead I thought to order her a fresh battery.  I was about to order one on Amazon, when I decided first to check the battery in her phone.  I looked at the device, and asked her, "How do you get the battery out?"  "I don't know."  I looked it again, and couldn't figure it out quickly.  So I searched for a how-to video:

My first reaction was Are you kidding me?  I watched the entire bloody video, because I was in awe at how cumbersome and ridiculous it was just to open access to the battery.  I decided it was far more convenient for my daughter to work with that portable battery I gave her.

This fiasco of an engineering design aside, she has also had problems with her charger cord.  After the third breakdown, I bought two cords to make sure she could charge her iPhone 5 whenever she needed to.

I see that CEO Tim Cook has things under control over there in the fruit aisle. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Money Spam Leaked into LinkedIn (1)

There are two kinds of spam:  love and money.  Recently I wrote Skype Troll Steals Dead Teen's Name, which had the makings of a romantic proposal.  Then, this past Friday, the following fund sharing message arrived in my LinkedIn Inbox:
Hello Villejo,

I am sorry to contact you unannounced through this medium. I am Mr. Mohammed Khalil a staff of Barclays bank Dubai, United Arab Emirate and Head of Administration and Government Relations at Barclays Bank PLC UAE. I write you this proposal in good faith hoping that I will rely on you. In 2006, one Mr. Daniel Villejo who has same surname as yours and who has your country in his file as his place of origin, made a fixed deposit for 36 calendar months, valued at $18,400,000.00 with my bank. I was his account officer before I rose to the position of Managing Director now. The maturity date for this deposit contract was 16th of January 2009. Unfortunately, while on a business trip, he died in a deadly earthquake that occurred on May 12, 2008 in Sichuan province of China which killed at least 68,000 people. Since the last quarter of 2009 until today, the management of Barclay's bank have been finding a means to reach him so as ascertain if he will want to roll over the Deposit or have the contract sum withdraw. Since September 2009, when I discovered that this will happen, I learn of his death, so I have tried to think up a procedure to preserve this fund and use the proceed for charity.

Some directors here have been trying to find out from me the information about this account and the owner, but I have kept it closed because, I know that if they become aware that Mr. Daniel is now late, they will corner the funds for themselves. Therefore, I am seeking your co-operation to present you as the one to benefit from his fund at his death since you have the same name, so that my bank head quarters will pay the funds to you. I have done enough inside bank arrangement and you only have to put in your details into the information network in the bank computers and reflect you as his next of kin. I am not a greedy person, so I am suggesting we share the funds equal, 50/50% to both parties My share will assist me to start a charity organization to help the poor and also own a company which has been my dream. Let me know your mind on this and please do treat this information as TOP SECRET. We shall go over the details once I receive your urgent response strictly through my personal email address,

Have a nice day.

Best regards,

Mr. Mohammed Khalil
This spammer's command of English is better than most, as its import is pretty clear, but it's shaky enough to make me suspicious (e.g., "I write you this proposal in good faith hoping that I will rely on you").

It's a clever ploy to reference my last name, and no doubt fabricate a person with that same name (i.e., Daniel Villejo).  I hadn't seen this ploy before, but the absence of an honorific (e.g., Mr. or Sir) in his address of me is also suspicious.

The third suspicious point is this:

(image credit)
The gentleman in the photo looked familiar to me, so when I received a connect invite from him and saw his position and company, I accepted.  But I decided to search for this photo on Google Images  and for this name on LinkedIn.  I didn't find anything on the photo, but I found the following profile.

(image credit)
I think the spammer stole this gentleman's identity, and opened a new profile.

But even if the points in his first paragraph were all legitimate, his proposal in the second paragraph is flatly criminal.  I wonder how many targets he's sent this message to, and how any (if any) took the bait.  It's also possible that this profile and message were fabricated by officials in the UAE, and they're attempting to entrap people as criminal accomplices.

Regardless, this is rather serious shit.

So I removed this spammer from my connections, and reported his message to LinkedIn.