Your humble narrator has been doing some actual engineering lately, for the first time in years. Specifically, I’m writing an application for Google’s Android phones, the first models of which will be available in Canada next week.1 Why Android, you might wonder, instead of Apple’s wildly popular iPhone? Well, I have various motivations, and I may yet pen an iPhone version, but my main reason is very simple: most of the phones of the future will be Androids, not Apples.
Twenty-five years ago, Apple could have licensed its superior operating system to computer manufacturers, killed Microsoft, and conquered the world. Instead they insisted on building their own hardware, keeping their systems hermetically sealed, and maintaining high prices – and found themselves with a whopping 10% of a market they should have dominated. Today they are repeating exactly the same mistake. Android, like Windows, is an operating system, not hardware. Any manufacturer can build an Android phone, customized for any market; and in most of the world, those phones will ultimately supplant the iPhone, just as Windows defeated Macintosh. (more…)
To all those who doubted it was possible: I did it! I was offline for one whole week!
My Offline Activities:
I read the print version of The Wall Street Journal (I found it discarded in the street).
I stood under the 118 degree Fahrenheit daytime sun in Death Valley for two whole minutes before diving back into my idling Prius.
I cleansed my clothes of filth in the machines of the Hollywood Madam, Heidi Fleiss, at Dirty Laundry in Pahrump, Nevada.
I must confess that near the beginning of the week I fell off the wagon and went online in a Westwood Cafe. After a guilty couple minutes I looked up and sitting across from me eating panini and sipping Orangina was Laurence Fishburne. (more…)
Google wants the intervals between television channel frequencies—called “White Space” —and I want them to have it. They’re no geniuses for figuring out how useful it could be. Carol Anne Freeling did it first in 1982. But while the Freelings had an appreciation for innovative use of white space, Google and Microsoft’s experiments are pissing off television broadcasters and others who use it because they fear interruption of service to their customers.
Now, I hold no truck with empty people who rely only on television for entertainment. Anyone worth their pop cultural mettle has the The View on in the background while Twittering and reading Techcrunch and listening to Howard Stern. If my neighbour’s iPhone jams up against Whoopi and Joy rolling their eyes at the Bush-lobotomized Survivor chick, I’ve got planned serendipity and dropping loads to cover me. (more…)
KEMBLE, ONTARIO—We all go home. It is a return that can be couched in obligation, satiation, relaxation and a myriad of divergent emotions. But it is also done because of familiarity. We go back because it is a physical and emotional gesture that has worn a groove into our minds so vast it is impossible not to fall into it. It is impossible to erase the groove but with motivation and years of effort it can be flattened out and made more avoidable. It’s like sucking your thumb. Even though I quit twenty years ago to avoid social castigation, when I try it now it feels normal. Like home.
Historically, our home on the Internet has been a homepage. From 1996 until 2005 my homepage was a site called lynx mindex. I used it because it was an aggregation of categorized search boxes giving me instant access to every form of search. From dictionary to versiontracker and travelocity to boingboing. Eventually Google supplanted the entire directory because it outperformed niche searches. But I kept using my old homepage until it went offline—because of the groove in my mind it had worn. (more…)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA—Charleston has a past filled with indigo, rice and slavery. But all that material history evaporates like a mist in the shadow of the pirate mythology that Charleston profits from today.
They even have pirate animatronics! Sadly, no animatronic slave auctioneers.
The pirate star here is Blackbeard. His power is partly historical documents but mostly myth which has had a resurgence of late, thanks to Captain Jack Sparrow (who also happens to be, according to her, Mary-Kate Olsen’s main fashion inspiration). Most pirates were, in reality, venereally diseased festering toothless and drunken rejects from the colonies. But the mythology of pirates is an orchestra of nostalgic romance that has made Johnny Depp and Disney millions upon millions of gold pieces. (more…)