A little over three years ago I wrote a short little post about a couple of jagged rockssticking out of the sea between Korea and Japan. Korea calls the rocks “Dokdo” and claims they’re part of that nation’s proud history. Japan calls the rocks “Takeshima” and received them as part of the Treaty of San Francisco, where Japan’s sovereign territories were mapped out by the United States after the second world war. I’m not going to write about the historical record1 because, to be completely honest, the leaders of both nations have failed their people for the sake of personal pride.
I posted a question earlier here as a precursor to a longer post I intend to put on my personal site. In this post I asked how it is that human history can span hundreds of thousands of years, yet our technological advancement is limited mostly to the last 8,000 years. What could have possibly changed to make incremental advances in tech go from dozens of generations, to dozens of years, to dozens of weeks? The response I received, though, was anything but an answer.
I wish the people at @klout would change the wording of their email notifications. This looks an awful lot like a spam message …
Just how far back does our history go? It seems that every few weeks there is another scientific paper released which pushes back the start of human technological innovation. However, looking at what humans have accomplished in just 5000 years, can we really say that early humans were using hammers half a million years ago?
It seems very odd. The world was a very dangerous place, yes, but still …
This is something that I’ve been thinking about a great deal over the last few years while trying to rationalize it in a way that makes sense, but nothing is ever resolved in a logical fashion.
What could be the reason for an insanely slow trickle of technological innovation for a million years, followed by a slightly faster trickle where advancement required just a few generations, to what we have today where advancement is done every season? Have past technological civilizations been destroyed by groups of ignorant humans, leaving us in the past? Is this just a matter of education? Are we not the first humans to have reached a pre-industrial era?
Early this morning Google Alerts let me know that somebody with my name had recently passed away. This person wasn’t much older than I am now, and it’s a stark reminder that any one of us could be gone at any time, and it made me wonder what happens to our online personality after we die.
As more information becomes available about the next major update to Microsoft’s popular operating system, people are getting excited. The company is bringing their popular Metro UI interface to the desktop and tablets, which will provide an excellent synergy with their Windows Phone devices. Clean lines. Elegant transitions. The embodiment of minimalism! It’s hard to believe this is coming out of Microsoft … a company that believes in packing as much as they can into a multitude of partially-related menu subjects. But, while everyone is getting excited about this brand new way of interacting with Windows, I’m left wondering if we can still call it Windows.
From the middle of last year I started managing my employer’s Amazon Web Services servers. At first there was quite a learning curve as a lot of what I was reading in books and online went from being just theory to a practical application. But within a few weeks I was comfortable enough with the ins and outs of Amazon’s “cloud” systems to begin analyzing the system’s performance and eking out every bit of value from the virtual infrastructure. Later in the year, Amazon rolled out a “Free Tier” for new customers. I signed up and moved a lot of my websites over to AWS with the hopes of lowering my annual operational cost. Unfortunately, I actually spent more money and had far greater downtime on AWS than anywhere else over the last five years. But why is this?
Four years after Apple released the iPod Touch onto the world, it looks like Sony is ready to get serious about offering up some competition. Just the other day the once-futuristic company announced their Android-powered Walkman which is said to have some stunning audio quality and more processing power than the average person’s smart phone. Will it catch on and sell 60,000,000 units over the next few years like Apple’s iPhone without the phone?
Music has played an important role throughout my life, but one of the most difficult issues I’ve had to contend with over the last decade has been finding new artists that have a unique sound. In the late 90s I developed a taste for non-mainstream sounds from indie performers who didn’t want to be just another copycat in the world of ‘popular’ music. What I found in this search was a completely different sort of experience to that we could hear on the radio or TV. With indie artists we could hear experimental or downright different music that fills a narrow niche. Betamax DC is one of these artists, and he has a new album out titled Hypeville.
A little while ago I was part of a discussion with peers who are all in their mid-to-late 40s. Being the youngest of the group at a mere 32, the phrase “you’re still just a kid” was bandied about quite a bit more than seemed necessary. It was all in good fun, but what fun is it when the people you’re with are making it explicitly clear that you’re not like them? Yet, despite my youthful looks, full head of hair, and early-30s age bracket, the endless march of time has brought about several changes when it comes to the shape and condition of this organic machine we call a body.
What possible changes since my late-teens could I be living with? Glad you asked, because here’s a quick little list of seven changes…
It’s been ten years since the Taliban brought the fight to America, and six months since the Earth brought a massive tsunami to Japan. In both cases the true measure of the events are lost in a turbulent sea of powerful emotions, inaccurate testimonies, blatant lies, and profiteering enterprises. Yet, as many of us reflect on everything that’s happened between then and now, one common thread can be found weaved into our collective memories; the collateral damage.
Anybody who believes Eclipse is “better” than Visual Studio, XCode, or vim is an idiot. It shouldn’t take five days (over 35 hours in total) to make existing code compile in a fresh install.
If this is how hard it is to accomplish anything with the Google tools, then I feel very sorry for anyone who wants to make something truly great on their platforms.
Discalimer: I’ve been programming for 15 years in various languages with some very convoluted IDEs, but never have I ever had to struggle and spend more time digging through poorly written documentation (if there is any at all) and newsgroups full of angry coders just to do something as simple as compile a “hello world” application.
Earlier this week I was practically shouting at the computer screen as I tried to configure Eclipse, a popular Java programming tool, for some projects that I’m working on. I’ve rarely had much fortune when using this particular software package, but it’s the tool that Google themselves says is the best to use when building code that will work on their platforms. So, pushing aside my prejudices and past hassles, I went through the process of getting my computer ready to develop with Eclipse. Unfortunately, everything that could stand in the way of productivity did, and I was left red faced on more than one occasion.
"Don’t get so angry. I don’t like it," my wife says as I click through a 400-directory-deep project looking for a source file.
"I’m sorry. It’s this darn software package that I need to use."
"It’s not worth getting angry about. You’re a computer guy. Just make it work."
Biting back a quick rebuttal that would have likely resulted in me being shot from a cannon into the sun, I decided to explain to my wife just how frustrating Eclipse is in terms she could understand. She loves to cook, so this is the angle I decided to take.
"Reiko," I started. "Imagine you’re in the kitchen preparing miso soup with one of those small single-burner stoves people bring for barbecues. You’ve used this burner a few times and never had much luck with it but, because you can’t use the main stove, you do your best to get by."
"Now, you’re trying to boil some water in a pot, but the water never gets above 70 degrees unless you have a special accessory attached. You attach it, but now the metal grate that supports the pot isn’t stable … it’s tilted to one side, which causes the pot to wobble."
"But, because the water is now reaching a boil, you try your best to keep going. You put some tofu and onions into the boiling water, then mix in the miso. Everything looks like it’s working, even though the pot is wobbling a bit as you stir."
She nods again.
"Now imagine the tofu falls apart. It’s lost its shape, and resembles okayu*. But, not losing hope, you put in a bit more tofu, a little bit of seasoning, and let it simmer for a few moments. Now, while the soup is simmering, the pot’s handle falls off, the extra attachment you needed to make the water reach boiling temperature snaps, and the broken pot tips over and spills all over the floor….
"How would you react?"
Without hesitation she said, “I’d be furious, and we’d go out for dinner.”
"Well … I can’t outsource this project. I have to use that terrible burner with the silly attachment that breaks my pots and ruins my food every time I try to do something that should be incredibly simple."
"Why can’t you use a different program?" she asks.
"Because this is supposed to be the best one for the job."
"Well that’s just stupid."
* okayu is like oatmeal, but made with rice. It has no discernible taste, and looks like a pile of yuck.
Even the very latest version of Android (Honeycomb, v3.2) isn’t quite up to the standard of iOS in terms of responsiveness and utility-enhancing applications, and I did manage to spot the familiar lag when dragging onscreen items around the Android interface. That’s a software shortcoming that will get better with time, mind you, and having the almost-standard 1280 × 800 Android tablet resolution should stand this Galaxy Tab in great stead to receive the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade. Samsung says it’ll do its utmost to provide users with the best possible software, but wouldn’t commit on whether or not the 7.7 will get ICS.
Vlad Savov - This Is My Next
Android will never be as responsive as iOS, WebOS, or even Windows Phone so long as they insist on controlling everything through the software. iOS is snappy because everything runs through OpenCL. WebOS is semi-snappy because it also has semi-optimized systems in place for video. Windows Phone is snappy … probably because it’s not trying to redraw 1280x800 pixels at 30 frames a second.
Regardless; until Google mandates that all Android devices will have discreet video processors, Android will have 'the familiar lag'. Rather than run from it, perhaps developers should embrace it to use the stutter to their advantage.