CBC Threatens Podcast App Makers

If you know me, you know that I'm a huge fan of podcasts, so much so that I've almost all but stopped listening to music. Podcasts have been going through a bit of a renaissance over the last couple of years, and I honestly believe that they are the future of audio

Lately, I've been trying to find more Canadian content, because the majority of what I listen to is made and produced in America, and is intended for that demographic. The thing is that there is very little Canadian podcast content being made, and within that small pool, only a handful of those are actually any good. Several of the podcasts that the CBC produces, and others like CANADALAND, are what stand out to me, which is what the CBC is now doing is so shocking to me.

Earlier today, Corey Doctorow, wrote on boingboing that the CBC is threatening third party podcast developers with legal action. According to the CBC, making an app that pulls down publicly available RSS feeds is a violation of the organization's copyrights and Terms of Service. Either the CBC has no idea what it's talking about, or it genuinely doesn't understand how RSS and the internet works as a whole.

As Corey Doctorow said,

This is a revival of an old, dark era in the web's history, when linking policies prevailed, through which publishes argued that they had the right to control who could make a link to their sites -- that is, who could state the public, true fact that "a page exists at this address."

What the CBC is essentially arguing here is that making a tool that simply allows someone to load a public URL without asking for permission first is a violation of copyright law. By that logic, the CBC should go after makers of web browsers. Google is an example of this, because as a for-profit corporation, any time a user of Google's Chrome browser loads up a CBC page without first asking the CBC for permission, Google is violating CBC's copyright.

This in absolutely insane, and completely ignorant of how the internet works. Another example is an internet cafe. You can argue that they are also tools, as they are charging customers to use their computers for a variety of reasons. Would the CBC block these places from accessing their web pages? 

And this is where the CBC changes its argument, one from the tool itself to one that profits from ad dollars against its content. The thing is that this isn't any better of an argument, in that RSS readers with ads isn't selling against content any more than a cafe with papers is selling food against content. There are no ads displayed against CBC content. The ads in question are being displayed on the user's screen, computer, phone, or tablet, in a space provided by the software. 

When putting someone on the web that can be linked to, there is an implied license. If you don't want people to load your RSS feed, there's a simple solution - don't publish it. Or, add a password. To argue otherwise is arguing against the open standard of the internet itself. An app that simply collects and brings in a publicly available feed that you yourself have made public is not something that anyone would consider commercial use.

The only thing that comes to my mind is that this is an attempt to strong arm people into using the CBC app to listen to their content instead of the podcast app of their choice. Two things immediately stand out to me, the first being that this doesn't bode well for the quality of CBC's app if they have to use legal threats to suppress competition, and the second being that for a public broadcaster funded by taxpayer dollars, this is completely unforgivable.

The CBC is for the people funded by the people. It is beyond me how a podcast application can be considered to be more than a very limited web browser for media playback. This is incredibly short-sighted and counterproductive on the part of the CBC. In following through with this line of legal action, this will lead to a world in which every content producer is independently licensing with every software developer for independent playback licenses.

If the CBC is trying to force people into using their own app, they will be losing listeners and supporters over the long term. The biggest consequence of mandating individual licenses is that the CBC would be locking itself into arrangements with third parties who will have significant leverage over them, in that they would have to approach developers and likely pay them to unblock their content from being searchable. 

I just don't understand why the CBC would want to limit the access to information and content that the public has paid for, again, through our tax dollars.

What's mind boggling is that several CBC podcasts invite listeners to follow them with "your favourite podcast aggregator," or whatever words they use to that exact semantic meaning. I'm not sure what the CBC's endgame is (other than a legal shakedown) but if they are right, then all browsers, including the one you're reading this on, are presumptive unlawful. Hopefully, in the coming days, the CBC's argument will be more nuanced than, "RSS violates our Terms of Service."

I Have No Idea What Apple Is Doing Anymore

I'm just going to out and say it - I have literally no idea what Apple is doing anymore.

Four days ago, Apple unveiled it's newest item, the latest and greatest iteration in its MacBook Pro lineup, and sure, while it's definitely gorgeous, there's something strange lurking beneath the surface, and that's that Apple no longer has a unified, cohesive design language or product message.

What's strange is that there's nothing meaningfully wrong with what Apple announced. A lighter, thinner, and more powerful laptop is always great. Moving towards the UCB-C standard is a solid idea, and knowing how the entire industry likes to chase and out-Apple Apple, hopefully this will mean wide spread adoption. The Touch Bar I think is an amazing idea, because aside from the f5, f6, esc, and prt scrn keys, I never use the function keys.

What's strange is that aside from people still using really old machines, I genuinely don't know who the new MacBook is for. For the longest time, I'd tell people to wait and not buy a new MacBook, because there surely was going to be a massive refresh. The last one was the addition of a retina display some four years ago, and since then, the "refreshes" have just been improved processor speeds and new chips. My girlfriend, for instance, has a MacBook Pro from 2008, and if it wasn't literally about to die on her, I don't think she'd feel the need to replace it so soon.

6 out of the 7 Mac line products that Apple sells are listed as DON'T BUY. 

6 out of the 7 Mac line products that Apple sells are listed as DON'T BUY. 

Going through everything Apple announced, it just feels like a whole lot of nothing. The Touch Bar is a really great example of this. Microsoft is letting you touch the screen and interact with the entire display. Apple is instead making you look down at your keyboard to interact with your display. Again, I think the Touch Bar will be genuinely useful, because like Steve Jobs said of phone with physical keyboards back in 2007, sometimes we need something to dynamically change based on the current use case scenario. The row of function keys is definitely outdated, but again, was the Touch Bar really the best implementation of this idea? I'm not so sure.

Then we have the device itself. The Pro used to be the best version of what Apple wanted to showcase to the world, for professionals (artists and business people alike) who have big requirements to get stuff done. Now you have to choose between the Pro, the Pro, and the Pro.

Which one is for Pros? I'm confused.

Which one is for Pros? I'm confused.

The thing with this is that MacBook Air is essentially dead. There haven't been any meaningful updates to it in 385 days. And now there are two 13" MacBook Pros, but they couldn't be any more different. One has the Touch Bar, and one doesn't. One has four USB-C ports, and one only has two. Why not just call the non-Touch Bar model the MacBook Air to alleviate confusion? It's specs are actually worse than it's Touch Bar enabled brother, and is more in line with what previous MacBook Air users wanted in a laptop. But no, that would be too easy, because Apple itself considers the new line of Pros as competitors to it's old like of Airs shows that they're not really Pro laptops anymore.

The event itself left a lot of loose ends, which is very unlike Apple. For instance, back in September, when Apple announced the iPhone 7, they made a bold claim that the standard 3.5mm headphone jack that we all know and love were dead, because the future is wireless and not having wires is superior to having wires. If this is truly the case, then why did they include a 3.5mm headphone jack in the new line of MacBook Pros? Even worse, Apple delayed their wireless earbuds that they promised would change your world.

From there, the questions become even more insane.

Why isn't there a Lightning to USB-C cable to connect your iPhone to your new MacBook Pro? Why can't you plug in the included Lightning headphones that come in the box with the iPhone 7 into the new MacBook Pro? Why did Apple tout how great the Touch Bar is for messaging, but didn't even port most if not all of the new iMessage features to macOS? Why do we have to carry two sets of headphones now? How do you charge your Lightning Cable Mouse? Why remove the HDMI port, which is still a popular standard? Why remove the SD card slot? Are HDMI and SD Cards also a dead technology? If so, where's Apple's future proof answer to replace these now seemingly decrepit technologies?

It just works.

It just works.

What's worse than all of this is why it took Apple so long to get to this point? For so long now I've been telling people to wait, and even now, I can't actually recommend the MacBook without including its many many caveats. You could just as easily buy a 2012 MacBook right now and not see any meaningful difference, and therein lies the problem. The company waited four years, but didn't deliver any real future value other than it's new and this is right around the time that people are going to want to upgrade to a newer model.

Apple 2010: There's an app for that.
Apple 2016: There's an adapter for that.

What's frustrating is that Apple used to push products into the market that would change the way people thought. The iPod and iPhone were truly game changing devices, and rather than making us carry more stuff in our pockets, they reduced it to a one device for all. Now, they have different standards for their different products. Lightning on mobile and USB-C on desktop, and no way to communicate between the two outside of dongles.

Courage

Courage

To me, it seems that Apple had this event to remind people that yes, it does actually care about the Mac and not just its primary money maker, the iPhone, but they only care about it when it's convenient. Look at Mac Pro. The last time that was updated was 1,048 days ago. That, much like the MacBook Air, is dead in the water, meaning that the only Pro-grade machine worth buying from Apple is the new MacBook Pro, and even then, that's a hard sell. Even more telling is that six out of the seven Mac line products that Apple sells are listed as Don't Buy on the MacRumours Buyer's Guide.

It's not just that. Even Apple's own naming schemes are all out of whack. You have the MacBook, the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro, the Mac Pro, the Mac Mini, the iPad Mini, the iPad Air, the iPad Pro, the iPad Pro 9.7", the iPhone and iPhone Plus. It's all over the place with no sense of product cohesion anymore. 

Earlier in the week, I wrote about how I was excited for this new era of the Mac vs. PC war. Both sides are bringing their industrial design A game (and with that exorbitant prices), but it seems now that Apple and Microsoft have switched places. Apple is now the giant monolith unwilling to take meaningful risks, ad Microsoft the scrappy underdog out-Apple'ing Apple.

For a company that prides itself on a singular ecosystem, and thinking of an end to end experience, or continuity if you will, Apple really has lost its way. 

#madebygoogle 2016

Three years ago, we saw the first real hardware effort on the part of Google in the form of the 2013 Chromebook Pixel. It was crazy expensive, but it was never meant to be a commercial success. The Chromebook Pixel was meant to show what could happen if Google got serious about its own hardware, and man, did it generate serious hype.

Three years later, we're seeing that idea come into fruition. Earlier today, Google held it's much anticipated #madebygoogle event, and they debuted some of the most compelling pieces of hardware I've seen to date.

Let's start off with their successor to the long running line of Nexus devices, the

Pixel Phone

Google finally announced it's much leaked Pixel Phone. It's built by HTC, but you wouldn't know it, as the only branding on the back is the Google G logo, to indicate that it's a Google built phone. What makes this different is that on older Nexus devices, alongside the Nexus logo, you'd see the hardware manufacturer's logo right next to it, so you'd know that LG, Huawei, or Samsung had built it for Google. With the Pixel, it's straight Google.

Hardware wise, it looks fine. Strikingly similar to the iPhone in many regards, but fine nonetheless. Unlike the Nexus 5X and 6P from last year, which had differing internal specs, the Pixel has the exact same specifications no matter which size you go for. The only difference between the 5" and 5.5" models is the size of the battery, which come in at 2,770mAh and 3,450mAh respectively.

The Pixel phones are interesting for a couple of reasons. First is that they're offering Pixel users exclusive features, like unlimited storage at full resolution on Google Photos. No other phone has that, but that's probably because Google is saying that this is the highest rated camera on any phone - ever.

One thing to note is that Google also announced that they have no plans for future Nexus devices. While materially, it's hard to see what differentiates the Pixel line from the previous Nexus line, it makes sense. Pixel may not offer any crazy new hardware, but it's the software that allows it to stand out from the crowd, and that's what Google is banking on. Hardware has plateaued over the last few years, but software is the real value, and is still going strong.

Speaking of software being the real value, the Pixel is also the first device out with the successor to Google Now and Google Now on Tap - Google Assistant. What's surprsing to me is that it's basically the same Assistant that's found in Allo, but without any of the extraneous chat capabilities, which to me, makes it far more useful and compelling. I'm not sure what Google was thinking with Allo, but it seems like it's more or less a dead product now. 

Google Assistant & Google Home

This was probably the one part of today's event that got me the most excited. Amazon was the first to really nail a home voice controlled assistant, but Google's Home to me seems far more useful, since it's tied directly to my Google account and services that I use.

Home as a piece of hardware is extremely beautiful, and that's something that you can thank Rick Osterloh (former President of Motorola, now head of Google's hardware division) for. He's brought some of the best hardware design to the table in this event, and accompanied it with really compelling software.

Google's Home runs Google's Assistant software. If you've ever seen or used an Amazon Alexa, you'll already be familiar with it. However, Home seems to be better an recognizing contextual information. For instance, on stage, they demoed it by saying, play that Shakira song from Zootopia, and it immediately knew what Rishi Chandra was talking about. That's something that even the Echo can't do yet.

Home is also a Chromecast receiver, meaning that you can yell it to play something on YouTube, and have it play on your TV immediately. That'd be really useful if you're doing something with your hands, and want to show someone something, but can't, because you know, you're hands are occupied.

Assistant on the other hand, is a different beast entirely. It's basically taking the already powerful Google Now system, and super charging it. If you've used it inside Allo, you already know how it works, but now, instead of getting Now on Tap whenever you long press the home button, you get Assistant. It's equal parts Google Now, and equal parts Siri, but infinitely more useful and powerful. You've got a chat system that you can type into, and it's also voice controlled. The best part is that it's open to third party apps, so things like Wikipedia and Open Table can plug right into it to give you instant results.

Daydream View VR

It's a VR headset made my Google, using the Daydream platform that was announced back in may during #io16. It's built by Google, and it looks really premium, and oddly very comfy to wear. The first phone to support this will be, surprise surprise, the Pixel Phone. 

Chromecast Ultra

The Chromecast Ultra is like every other Chromecast, but the Chrome browser logo has been replaced with the Google G logo, and it now supports 4K, which is cool. Again, not much here has changed all that mushc.

Google WiFi

There's not much to say about this, other than it's Google's successor to the wildly popular and useful OnHub platform. It's more than a simple rebranding too. Here, watch their introduction video to see what it can do.

Final Thoughts

I only have three issues with the Pixel. The first is that for it's price, which is matched dollar-for-dollar with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, it's not water proof/resistant. On cheaper priced Nexus devices, that would be okay, but for a new flagship in 2016, that's completely unacceptable, especially if Google wants to compete against Apple and Samsung. The second is the price, which is going to turn so many people away. Google at one point used to have incredibly affordable hardware, but no longer it seems. The starting prices of the Pixel line are a solid $200 more expensive than last years Nexus 5X and 6P were. Companies like OnePlus have proven that you can have amazing hardware at an affordable price, but it seems like Google doesn't seem to agree. Third is that if Google wants to price the Pixel phones the same as the iPhone, then they need to guarantee 3-4 years worth of updates like Apple does. Currently, a Nexus device is only guaranteed 2 years of support and even then, that might not actually happen. The Nexus 5 is eft running Android 6.0, and who knows what will happen to the Nexus 5X and 6P now that the Pixel line has taken over.

While the Pixel phone looks great on paper (despite its obvious flaws listed above), the real standouts were Google WiFi, Home, and Assistant. Google is betting big on AI. They're whole move is for them to make the same hardware as everyone else, but do AI better than anyone else. And it's totally going to work.

The Pixel is the start of Google's grand reunification under one hardware and software brand. No more side hussles and confusing product names. Google is going all in on their biggest asset and brand value - their name. And it's about damn time. With the Pixel, and the massive marketing push behind it, Google is betting that it can be on par with both Samsung and Apple, and with it's Assistant constantly learning about you and improving upon it's AI, Google is going to win where others seem to be flailing around. And now just on your phone, but inside your home too.

To put this into perspective, imagine that your LG, or Sony, or Huawei, or Samsung. Your brand, especially in Samsung's case, has literally just exploded. Your OS vendor is now making it's own hardware, with it's own integrated payments, VR, and Assistant systems, all the while you're betting that your proprietary offerings will be what saves you. Even with WiFi and Assistant, Google is not only targeting Apple, but it's also seriously undercutting both Amazon and Eero.

If this wasn't Google dropping a mic, then I don't know what is. Either way, I'm seriously stoked.


Here are the Canadian prices for everything listed above:

Daydream View VR - $99
Google WiFi Single/3-Pack - $170/$395 (Estimated)
Google Home - $170 (Estimated)
Pixel/Pixel XL 32/128 GB - $1,028/$1,158 & $1,178/$1,308 outright (contract pricing unavailable*)
Chromecast Ultra - $90

*The Pixel and Pixel XL are priced exactly the same as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, so expect their 2 year contract prices to also be the exact same on all the carriers.

My #EverydayCarry

Back when I would frequent some of Gawker's better blogs, sites like Gizmodo and Lifehacker, I'd love when they'd run this recurring feature called, "What's In My Bag?" They'd sometimes have users submit their bags, and what they'd carry on an everyday basis, and sometimes it'd be a well known person showcasing what they use on an everyday basis.

That spawned a site called Everyday Carry, and at first, it started off in a very similar vein as Lifehacker's. Now however, it's turned into this ultra macho entity, in which every single upload has to feature some sort of rugged rope and knife. That made me ask the question, who actually uses rugged ropes and knives on an everyday basis? Unless you're working outside or in a field that needs it, it's not exactly a necessity?

In any case, I decided that I wanted to show what I carry around on an everyday basis, and while it may be boring, I don't need a bag for any of these items - they all fit in my pockets or somewhere on my physical body.

So let's start this off with something that I think is actually useful to have, at least more than a knife.

Chapstick

If you're like me, then you have perpetually dry lips. It's not for a lack of hydration either - it's just something that we have to deal with. This is where Chapstick, or lip balm, becomes essential. I've tried numerous kinds, from the Burt's Bees brand to the egg shaped nonsense. The one that I keep coming back to however, is the mint flavoured OG Chapstick brand. For whatever reason, it's the only one that seems to work well.

Car Key Fob

This one's pretty self explanatory, however, I do wish I could cut this one out entirely, and have it added to the next item on this list, but seeing as my car needs it to function, it'll have to remain in my pocket right next to my Chapstick.

KeySmart Key Holder

So this is probably the one item of mine that turns the most heads. After years of having my keys dangling loose, and moving around all the time, I got sick of having to constantly figure out which key does what. After a couple of weeks searching online, I discovered the KeySmart Key Holder. It's basically a switchblade style holder for all your keys - work, home, and USB. With this, I know immediately which key I'm using, because I know exactly where it is inside the holder. As someone who strives for maximum efficiency, this thing has saved me a lot of fumbling around with my keys time. Seriously, it's awesome.

Minimal Wallet

About two years ago, I was getting dinner with a friend of mine. I pulled out my chunky $10 wallet from Walmart, and he was shocked. He pulled out his, and we compared the two. He was carrying at the time, 5 cards. I had 27. At the time, I didn't think it was possible to cut out 22 card from my wallet - I used them all! But he made me realize, I don't, or least not every single day. After switching from the chunky wallet, to a Bellroy Card Sleeve, to this one my girlfriend bought me from Fossil, I'm now down to four cards. Four. My debit, credit, driver's license, and health card. Really, you don't need any more than that, and if you do, you can store all of your loyalty cards on your phone now with numerous apps like Stocard. The only downside to such a minimal wallet is that I have no more than three minor heart attacks every day when I think I've lost it, mostly because I can't feel it in my back pocket.

Watch

If I leave my house without my watch, I feel naked and wholly incomplete for the rest of the day. I've been wearing a watch every single day since I turned 10, and I don't think that'll ever really change. Personally, for me, I prefer the look and feel of a leather band over a metal one. Sure, it's not the most comfortable in the summer time, and I do have a wicked watch tan, but I don't care. Having a watch is as much a part of who I am now as wearing glasses is.

Glasses

Ever since I was eight, I've been wearing glasses. Everyone in my family does -  we just have bad eyes. I've never tried contacts, and I never will. It's just the idea of having to stick something into your eye that really grosses me out. Seriously, I just can't do it. Glasses are a part of who I am now, and much like wearing a watch, I'm always going to wear glasses. That is until the make it so that laser eye surgery actually gives you laser eyes. Pew pew.

Phone

My phone of choice is the Google Nexus 6P. It's Google's flagship Android device for 2016, and with the recent rumours of the Nexus name going away, it might be the last Nexus phone we ever see. It's become my primary computing device. Don't get me wrong, I love my laptop, but my phone is where it's at. It has all my contacts, emails, calendars (granted, those are all synced to my Google account), music, podcasts, and then some. It's how I communicate with my friends, and interact with the world. That, and while I love my DSLR (a Nikon D3200), sometimes I genuinely prefer the shots I get from my Nexus 6P more. I mean, they do say that the best camera is the one that you have on you, and while I don't always have my Nikon, I always have my 6P on me.

Google Spaces: Wave, with none of the splash

Google just released a new app platform, Spaces. It's their latest attempt at social, and is very much like Google Wave mashed together with Slack, but with none of the functionality. 

Google Hangouts Group Messaging Plus All Access

Google Hangouts Group Messaging Plus All Access

When Wave died, 99% of it's features (which were way ahead of their time) got adapted into Gmail, Hangouts, Google+ Communities, & Drive. The thing is that Spaces feels really limited right now. Sure, you can do stuff within a Space, but it's limited to just Search, YouTube, & IMs. I can't drop a Drive file into a Space, which is what I want to do more than anything else, really. Just drop a Drive file, and have it automatically give sharing persmissions to anyone in that particular Space. It's essentially Pinterest for small groups, and as a Slack competitor, it fails in that regard. 

What Google should have done with Spaces is bake it into Hangouts. WhatsApp already has groups that allows sharing of images, YouTube links, and more importantly, documents. Yet, without a trace of self-awareness, Google actually wrote on the Spaces website, "getting friends into the same app can be challenging," which is why we have Hangouts, Gmail, Drive, WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger and Slack. Who needs one more app that does more of the same stuff, only in this case, not.

Spaces is certainly interesting, but right now it feels wholly unfinished, but hopefully it will get some feature updates shortly after ‪#‎io16‬. I'm just hoping that Google doesn't kill this product off in two years time, because it does seem to have a lot of potential, but the last time I said that, we were given Hangouts, and we all know how well that went.


You can also read this over at my Medium or Facebook.

How Tesla Turned Me Into a "Car Guy"

Back in 2004, when I was in the eighth grade, Sony launched their first portable gaming device, the PSP. I was so stoked at the time, because compared to what Nintendo had to offer, the PSP seemed amazing. The power of a PS2 in the palm of your hand? Where do I sign up?!

One of the first games that I bought for my brand new PSP was something called Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition. Up until this point, I had never owned a racing game. Sure, I was familiar with them, having played Mario Kart, Cruisin' USA and Diddy Kong Racing, but I had never actually owned one. Needless to say, I was hooked. I knew very little about the whole world of cars, and the subsequent market of aftermarket parts and mods, but Midnight Club was a game that really stuck with me.

I recently found my PSP, and it still had my copy of Midnight Club inside of it, so I fired it up, and drove around for a little while aimlessly. The controls were still incredibly tight, and it felt great. Then I went into my garage, to see what other cars I had. A 2003 Chrysler 300C, a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air, and Lotus Elise. Quickly going over their stats and parts I realized something two things. One, I still know very little when it comes to cars, and two, that I despite having loved this racing game, I still don't really care about cars.

I think both of those stem from the fact that when I was growing up, my family only had one car, and that was a thoroughly un-sexy minivan. It never spoke to me in the same way that other technology did. I never could understand how some of my friends could pop open the hood of their car and ogle at the engine for hours. I never got into all the parts, and how the connected and worked together. To this day, even after buying my own car, I still tend to think of automobiles as magic metal boxes strapped onto four wheels powered by exploding dinosaur juices.

And that's how it's been for me. Sure, I can appreciate an antique, like a '57 Chevy Bel-Air, or a '55 Ford Thunderbird (those tailfins though, hnnng), but beyond the sheer aesthetics of the vehicles, I have no interest in them. Recently, that changed because of one company in particular. 

Tesla Motors.

I've written about Tesla, and its CEO Elon Musk, in the past, and my love for him and the company only grows with every announcement. That's not the entire story though. Musk, and his company, Tesla, have done something that I never thought possible - they got me to care about cars, more importantly, electric vehicles. Having studied Environmental Politics in university, and being a 100% out-of-the-closet confirmed nerd, Tesla and Musk speak to me in the same way that Midnight Club 3 for the PSP spoke to me - it lets me nerd out in a way I normally wouldn't be able to. And this is primarily due to the fact that Tesla functions as a tech company that just so happens to be in the business of making cars.

The thing with Tesla is that the cars they make are more than just cars. They're the future of the entire automobile industry, a multi-billion dollar bet that is beginning to prove successful. Tesla is the future of technology, taking a tried and trued design philosophy, and improving upon it. Tesla's vehicles are the first truly modern cars that have me excited. Oooh, Bugatti has a new car that can go like super fast. Yeah, that's great and all, but it's not practical. It's not the car that I know is within my reach. It's not the car that I'll be able to know how it works inside and out. It's not a car that gets me excited for the future.

When Musk announced the long awaited $35,000 Model 3, I told my dad that my next car is going to be a Tesla made car. That's the first time he and I ever really discussed cars, because up until recently, I didn't care. He told me to wait until EV technology matured, and while I tend to agree with him, in this case, I can't wait. I want to help play a part in making that future a reality now. I want to help lead an environmentally conscious life in an affordable manner. I want to be able to vote with my wallet in a way that will help impact the industry in a positive, meaningful manner. But more than any of that, I want to be able to look at my car, and know exactly how it works, from the software being used to the hardware powering it. And right now, as I look at my car outside my window, parked in my driveway covered in snow, I feel none of that hopeful anticipation. All I see is a magical metal box, strapped onto four wheels powered by exploding dinosaur juices, and not the future.

Tired of Technology

Just a quick warning: this is going to be more of a rant than one of my more traditional posts. It's been something that I've been thinking over for some time now, and I really just wanted to get it off my chest.


I've always been a fan of technology. If it has a power button, then it was fair game for me to tinker around with. However, lately, I've been feeling particularly fatigued with the world of tech. It's simultaneously overwhelming and underwhelming. That may sound paradoxical, but let me explain.

In 2007. when Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone, it was nothing short of a world changing device on the same level as the computer mouse. It completely revolutionized the way that we, as consumers, look at our phones and pocketable devices. Fast forward eight years to 2015, and Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch, and calls the digital crown the next mouse, or iPod click-wheel. It's was a bold statement that could never have possibly lived up to the hype. Eight months later, and anyone I've talked to has said that 1. they forget that the digital crown even exists and 2. that they don't know what to use the Apple Watch for. I don't know if Apple even know the actual use-case for the Apple Watch, and the same can be said of almost every single other tech giant making smart watches. There's no clear direction, and the direct consequence is that I'm not seeing many Apple Watches in the wild. 

In the previous decade, the aughts, most consumer technology conventions, from CES to MWC, felt extremely exciting. Every year, big companies would come out and showcase their latest and greatest. This year we had Samsung showcase a fridge with a 21.5" touchscreen slapped on to the front of it. A smart fridge. That is the best that Samsung thought they could do? Sony, on the other hand has a press event where they went up on stage to talk about how they had nothing new to offer, except for handicams, which haven't been used since the early aughts. 

And this is where we currently are - a valley, inbetween the end of one explosive decade, and on the verge of entering a brand new one. But, for right now, companies are trying to do much, and accomplishing very little. Every tech giant is investing in VR, and The Internet of Things (hence Samsung's smart fridge), but nothing is compelling. They're throwing out product after product, not guaranteeing any form of update system, just to iterate as fast as possible to be the first one to really make a splash.

Looking at Samsung again, since 2013, they've released seven smart watches, the previous versions of which have been all but abandoned. And the problem is that companies like Samsung are pushing for The Internet of Things as hard as they can, because living in an ever more connected world seems super appealing. Who wouldn't want their toaster to start toasting bread in the morning from the comfort of their bed? More automation means less work, right? No. Not unless you buy into one company, and one company only, because every company wants to be The Internet of Things, but only if they get to use their own proprietary systems that can't communicate with anything else outside of their stack.

The worst part is that every single one of these companies demand that every 12 months we ditch our current devices for their updates models. We all know about this planned obsolescence, yet we still buy into it year after year, which is why companies like Apple are allowed to charge $1000 for a phone. And it's the same tactic that universities are using - forcing students to spend even more money that they simply do not have because they updated the textbooks with one or two minor changes. It's the same material with a new cover, and all it does is generate nothing but waste and resentment. 

There's just too much going on, with very little impact. I'm being overwhelmed by just how underwhelming and stagnant technology has become over the last year or so. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely excited for what the future holds. Driverless cars, and more automation; city-mapping and fewer smart fridges. But for now, I'm just so damn tired.