Home Automation for the other 99%

Those with enough money have for years had the option of creating levels of home automation to impress their visitors. Everything from automated window blinds and lights to massive display screens supplemented with hidden surround sound audio systems have been the mark of those with massive egos supported by enough free cash to pay experts to wire every inch of their show houses. These impressive implementations have been supported by custom control systems and can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For those living in multiple multi-million dollar houses around the world, this is a drop in the ocean.

But technology has moved on and it’s now practical for the average home owner or renter to build their own home automation system, tailored for their specific needs.

  • Multi-room cable systems connected to a single digital video recorder are now available from numerous cable companies or from the likes of TiVo.
  • Multi-room audio systems from companies like sonos or Bose, are simple to implement, and now that abode-spanning high speed Wi-Fi is common don’t require custom wiring systems.
  • Do-it-yourself stores and online outlets now offer a wide range of replacement light switch, power socket options as well as plug in control modules and even light bulbs that have integrated automation, making previously complex systems really easy.
  • Fan controllers, Automation IR repeaters and even automated window-blind motors are now available for prices not much more than their non-automated versions.
  • Room Thermostats, fire alarms and even water sensors are now all available internet connected.

So the components of full home automation are now available to the do-it-yourselfer, but is that enough?

No, it is not enough. The real power of a home automation system is to be able to interconnect all the sensors, actuators and controllers together. And that is where the millionaires their installation companies still are a step ahead.

It’s all very well to be able to replace light switches with ones that can be controlled from a remote control or your phone, but it is quite another to be able to press a single button, have the window blinds close, the lights dim, the TV turn on to your fav channel, the rooms temperature be set to 70 degrees and the sound system turn on, all when you relax in your chair.

But that is starting to become possible. Today all the consumer level automation devices come with their own method of control, and little integration, but this is changing. Companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon are starting to create integration between all the disparate devices.

There are still gaps, but it’s getting closer.

Today for a few hundred dollars you can buy all the components to pull most of your AV equipment together into a single controllable system. And for a few hundred more dollars you can interconnect your lights, light switches, fans, thermostats, fire and water sensors, A/C and heating units and window blinds together.

But connecting your AV systems and your environmental systems together are a bit more complex. It can be done in some ways using Amazon Alexa, Hey Google or Apple’s Siri, but this is still just a taste or what the millionaires can do.

The world is changing, and home automation is quickly going to become useful for the average home.

The challenge is that today’s DIY home automation choices are very poorly described. The googles/apple/amazons of the world want you to believe their latest knickknack is the way to go and want to amaze you with voice recognition systems. But these are only a small part of the solution. There are some incredibly powerful home automation offerings available, but you need to be willing to invest a lot of time to find out about them.

Here’s the best of what I’ve found over the last few years.

  1. For your TV and music the best system for total integration comes from Bose. The Bose lifestyle home theatre systems create a hub that allows all your sources (DVR, DVD, Roku, Apple TV’s etc) to be connected and a single HDMI cable to go to your TV. Then every device can be controlled from a SIMPLE single remote control that uses RF and not I.R. meaning that it can be entirely hidden from view. The Bose method of controlling devices from their single remote is the best I’ve seen from anyone. In my experience, it works perfectly and doesn’t require touch screens or complex programming. Bose pre-program their system for all the common devices you are likely to have, and it just works. Yes, Bose is expensive, and for the price there may be better sounding systems (depending on your tastes) but their systems sound great, and work simply, reliably and consistently. I’ve been using them for the last 10 years, and they just work, and despite what Bose will tell you, even their most basic lifestyle system from a couple of generations of tech back is just as good as the lastest one on sale today, there are some real bargains available if you hunt around on amazon or ebay.
  2. For lighting I use Insteon, not the most common vendor out there, but their range of devices includes everything you need to control lights, fans, blinds and AC/heat units, they are cost effective and also provide a range of remotes that mean you don’t have to use your phone to turn on the lights (but you can if you like). It works well, and the whole environment can be configured using a simple app on your phone or tablet to create any kind of macro you need, so a single switch can be made to do multiple things.

The future for home automation is clearly integration, and all the main vendors are starting to be supported by centralized control platforms from the amazon/google/apples of the world so quickly you will be able to setup systems that work and don’t annoy those who visit.

There are still gaps in what is available, but today you can automate big chunks of your home in ways almost identical to the ways millionaires have been doing for the past ten years, at a tiny fraction of the cost, and for the DIY-er in all of us, this is exciting.



Is It Time To Go Back To Print?

Several years ago I stopped buying print magazines, instead relying on websites for my news, opinion and science. And for a while this worked well for me, I even got a kindle to read books.

Some people say that reading on a screen is just not the same as reading off of a page, and obviously they are right, it’s not the same. But in some ways it was easier, as your ability to find content is vastly increased, and it’s possible to travel with a complete library on any screen you choose.

But there are a couple of downsides to digital reading. The most obvious technical difference is in the quality of the represented text, it’s clearly different, and some don’t find it as easy to read (even through others love the fact you can resize text to suit your eyesight and mood).

But to me there really is only one reason why e-reading is not as good as paper reading, and that single reason is the increasingly annoying and intrusive ad’s.

A few years ago ad’s just sat at the top and bottom of a page, statically looking just the same as the ad’s in a printed newspaper. Then they started to pop-up and required extra work to navigate around.

But then they started to interact with the reader, to try and be “more relevant”, but actually are just like that really annoying kid you went to school with, who would never shut the fuck up.

That kid that would incessantly talk; and talk about absolutely anything, however irrelevent. That kid that as he became a teenager was clearly deranged, and would walk around the streets talking to anyone and anything that just happened to be in his or her line of sight. The one that used to have a regularly blackend eye from speaking crap to the wrong person he just happened to pass.

That person that probably even now is part of some anti-everything conspiracy group trying to tell the world that the moon landings were fake, and his mother was kidnapped by aliens.

Actually I think that kid is now employed by Google. They have co-opted his lifelong skill of being irritating as the new ad presentation technique.

Who ever thought that ad’s that move around across your screen was a good thing?

Why do I need to see a thirty second ad before watching a video segment on a news article, when the ad has absolutely nothing to do with the article I’m trying to read.

And what total utter bastard thought we needed to hear a video auto play as we mistakenly mouse’d over some bold text in a scientific paper? (Yes I means YOU New Scientist magazine online).

I know that online advertising is a multi multi billion dollar business, but honestly does anyone actually read online ad’s or does everyone do what I do, and hunt longingly for the sneakily hidden X on the ad’s while reciting a series of swearwords that used to be just the domain of really humorous Tourette Syndrome sufferers.

My wife gets the paper delivered daily (mainly for the crossword) but I’m finding myself looking at it longingly, and remembering the halcyon days of the internet when advertising was an interactive as the woman who works at the DMV (ie. Not at all).

There is a tipping point online advertizers, one that you are fast approaching when I (and the silent majority) may have to resort to buying magazines again!


Droid vs iphone – late to the party, but with an opinion

Well it’s happened at last. I’ve supplemented my apple world with an android. Picked up a Samsung Galaxy S5 as a separate work phone. I’ve never been particularly anti-droid, but having invested in a stack of products with the half eaten fruit on the logo, it was just a pain to think about adding a product into the mix that did not integrate.

It’s so nice being able to bounce anything on display on the mac’s, pads and phones directly to either of my TV’s. And it’s nice that all my music and videos work on all my devices. Things like the cloud and sharing photos has also been so easy for so long.

I had the choice at work of getting another iphone or trying out the Samsung, and my inner geek got the better of me, and so I plumbed for the robot.

And it’s quite impressive in a samey but slight differenty sort of way.

I really like the slightly larger screen, it does make videos and gaming slightly better. But the form factor is slightly more annoying. Slim is nice, but wider and taller is just wider and taller. I got the Samsung flippy case, and that is great, except why the hell does closing the case end a phone call, that is just stupid. You open the case to make a call and then you need to close the case to hold it up to your ear.

Bending the case backwards to hold it up to your head, is somewhat like holding a spring loaded device up to your ear. There is pressure between your fingers and slightest mis-fingering could turn the phone into a projectile.

The rest of the case design seems okay.

There are some nice touches in the OS, along with some really stupid, Microsoft quality missteps. Too many ways to get to the same thing.

I love the micro SD slot though. Took a microsd card out of my pc and slapped it in the back and now have all the movies I care for on the phone.

Photos and music from my i-world are not going to make it to the droid, as there are “ways” of doing this, but none that are sensible. So my personal phone is going to stay apple for the foreseeable.

The Samsung does offer wifi cell phone calling, which means that in a crap cell reception area it pulls and pushes calls over an available wifi network transparently (expect it does gloat after every wifi call,a feature which I was able to turn off), which does go some way to mitigate the overall crappiness of every single smartphone in the world (why can’t smart phones also be good phones, as opposed to good pocket computers and poor phones, EVERY SINGLE ONE IN THE WORLD IS)

Overall the droid is a nice toy to hack around with, but not materially different that the iphone and so no real reason to move. But I’m glad to have one of each, as now I can geek out just that bit more…..


I Hate Mobile Phones

Well I don’t hate my mobile phone; I just hate everyone else’s.

I hate the mobile phones that are carried by the walking dead, those people who insist on walking while blindly tapping away at a touchscreen. The ones that walk at half the speed of a slug and with the direction sense of a tumbleweed in the desert.

And I hate the phones that get held 6 inches from the mouths of SUV drivers, while they barrel down the highway at twice the speed limit mildly weaving back and forth across the white line.

And I hate the phones being held by shop assistants while they avoid serving me on the pretense that they are talking to a work college.

And I hate the phones that require the speaker to scream at the top of their lungs.

And I hate the phones that make text messages in the movie theatre and deliver the same luminance at a world war two era search light.

And I hate the phones that demand typing during restaurant meals.

And of course I really hate the phones that hide in pockets of people in front of me at the airport that cause the metal detector to beep and require additional slowing techniques when going through TSA.

Any phone those doesn’t do these things is fine, but they seem to be few and far between.


What has happened to Apple?

I had a technical issue with an iphone and it needed a repair. Well that means a trip to the local apple store, for a quick hit at the genius bar.

A simple appointment setting on the website and I was set for an appointment the next night.

At the appointed time I popped down to the store, ready for the legendary Apple consumer experience. And boy was I surprised!

What was once the pinnacle of consumer perfection has become a stunted shadow of it’s former infallibility.

It’s not that the experience offered has changed, it’s simply that the volume of customers has grown and they have not in any obvious way changed the experience to keep up with their success in getting customers.


Let me tell you what I found:

I arrived at the store a good fifteen minutes before my scheduled appointment, the store was heaving with customers and staff, and I asked a number of staff where I needed to go for my appointment and eventually found the sole blueshirt who was empowered to log in genius customers. Ahead of me was a lady who had floundered and had spent about 20 minutes searching the store for the right person and was therefore late for her appointment, she was now over TEN minutes late for her appointment, and so it had been automatically cancelled and the time reassigned to another “guest”. The next available appointment for her was in two hours time. And she was advised that they were running over half an hour late anyway so she could expect to be waiting for about three hours. She chose to reschedule for another day.

I was next in the queue, but another lady jumped in ahead of me, as the queue was actually a circle of people two deep standing around the blue shirted apple genius.
She had a question which took a couple of minutes and then it was my turn. I gave the guy my name and he looked me up on the system. It turns out I was then seven minutes early for my appointment and he could not check me in until it was five minutes of less to my appointment.

I stared at this lost soul, and asked him if he was actually being serious or was he trying to act out a scene from the movie falling down? It turns out he was serious and I needed to come back in no more than two minutes and no less than seven minutes to log in for my appointment.

I pointed out that that was virtually impossible as there was a swathe of people all trying to check in and it was going to take him longer than that time to get back to me. He said he had no other option to offer me, so I suggest he get me his manager.
So I was then presented with the manager of geniuses, who explained that was the process and I had no choice but to follow it. So I asked to speak to his manager, he said that his manager would say the same thing, but at this point I was more interested in understanding just how ineffectual the process had become, and it did keep me standing in front of the check-in genius so I saw it as an amusing way to pass the time.

Over walks the manager of genius managers (I was feeling like we were entering a scene from south park at this point), and at this moment it was now five mins to my appointment time so the process allowed me to check in.

But I still had at least half an hour to wait as that was the backlog they were dealing with. So I was asked to wait at the genius waiting table. A table surrounded by two layers of waiting people. So while talking the the uber genius manager of mangers we walked over to the waiting table.

I asked the ultra genius what the hell were they thinking, this was Apple, and they were known for their excellent sales experience, what was going on. And I was informed that they were busy.

BUSY! I could think of a dozen simple ways to improve the process, from a proper waiting area, to automatically calling people to let them know the appointments were running late, to having pagers to give to waiting people to beverages for waiting guests, the list just goes on.

Right now the California kitchen offers a better experience than the apple store.

The issue is simple, they have not grown up to deal with their success.

Yes their products are great, but something has stalled in their culture. Come on Apple get back that sense of urgency, that focus on understanding your customer.

Yep Steve Jobs is dead, it’s sad, but that does not mean you can stop being Apple. Take a risk, think about the experience, get back to innovating in ways that surprise, excite and amaze.


Microsoft may have actually done something right!

A colleague at work was talking about the new Microsoft surface pro, that was due out in a few days.

And it turned out that the launch day was a very snowing day in New York City. So for a snowy walk I choose to transverse Central Park and aim for the Microsoft popup store at Columbus circle.

It was a fantastic winter wonderland of tobogganing children and a range of adults having fun in the almost real world of Central Park.

I arrived at the Time Warner building glowing from the heat and cold of the hike and straight into a world of enthusiastic apple-esque Microsoft sales people showing all variety of the surface. And it was obvious to me within seconds of playing that the surface pro was something very special.

I bought one added a tactile keyboard, a VGA adaptor and was ready to change my business computing platform.

As the next day was the start of a week long business trip to europe, it was the perfect chance to try out this new wonder. So I pulled the Mac air and the ipad from my bag and added the freshly configured surface to my kit for europe. Yes I was nervous without the full range of iOS toys, but i still had my iPhone, so I wasn’t going 100% cold turkey.

I’m not going to bore you with details on the machine itself, let me just say its a tablet sized windows 8 machine.

When I arrived at the start of our 4 day meeting, sitting next to me was our head of sales whose laptop blew up the day before, so he was working on an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard and on my other side was a sales Person on a standard dell laptop. This gave me the chance to compare and contrast these three choices.

I love apple products, so it’s very hard for me to say this, but the ipad sucked as a stand-in for a pc. Editing emails and trying to send just part of a received email to another person was a exercise not unlike making a soufflé. A delicate operation that takes expertise and careful Planning.

While the laptop was too large for a fully stocked business meeting. Making talking over the screen complex and all in all over intrusive.

While the surface was a dream. Running all the standard business apps just like a pc, being small and unobtrusive, and lapable when I needed to take notes on the fly.

I love the fact that the power block has an extra USB charging spot and that the power cable is a simple one and not unique like the dells, meaning I was able to use a standard cable and didn’t need to resort to a plug converter, which for the uk is the size of another power supply.

The machine worked perfectly in every way. I have no complaints and nothing but praise for the designers.

Maybe Microsoft have exited their years in the hell of horrible products, or maybe their will still be something horrible that I just have not hit yet? Here’s hoping for the former.


Televisions – getting below the hype

I’m sure you have noticed that TV’s have got significantly thinner and wider over the last few years. The old glass cathode ray tube has now (almost) entirely been replaced by flat screen TV’s and there are actually three different categories of flat screen available.

The first ones that became popular were the plasma screens. These are glass screens filled with a gas that glows when energized (ie the gas goes to the next physical state called plasma). These screens are very bright, and are excellent when placed opposite a window. The issue with plasma screens is that they are really heavy, and use a lot of power. Early plasma TV’s used to suffer from an issue called burn-in, and this meant that if a stationary image was displayed in the screen for an excessive amount of time, it could be burnt into the screen, meaning you would see that image as a ghost image even when the TV was turned off, or showing other images. Burn-in is mostly an issue of the past, but people still worry about it.

A lighter option is the LCD TV, and this uses a matrix of dots that can be transparent or opaque allowing them to display an image. Rather than transmitting light the dots actually block the light, so LCD TV’s have a bright even light source placed behind them. This makes them a little thicker, and not quite as bright as plasma. But they are much lighter and use a lot less power. Some people say that the speed of refresh of LCD isn’t as good as plasma, and you can sometimes see a blurry image when there is fast movement on the screen. This issue has been resolved in modern LCD TV’s and the refresh rate is many times the refresh rate of even the most whizzy movies, so it’s not really an issue for most people.

Some people prefer LCD and some prefer plasma. The colors displayed can look a bit vivid on LCD, and a little bright for some on plasma. But most TV’s have so many configuration settings that you can normally resolve any image to the conditions of your viewing room and personal preference.

A new version of LCD is called LED, and this used an array of light emitting diodes (LED’s) as the light source. This is much thinner than the light source used in TV’s called LCD. This means that LED TV’s that are mounted on the wall can be as thin as a picture frame. LED TV’s definitely are the cool option for those who are style conscious.

There is another choice on TV’s, and that is 3D. 3D TV’s come in a number of different standards. Technically they all work the same way, presenting 2 different images, one that is sent to the left eye and one that is sent to the right eye. In my opinion every available 3D TV option is total rubbish. There are several reasons why they are all useless.

Firstly they all require special glasses, none of these glasses work terribly well. The quality of the resulting 3D image is very low, and is very dependent on the viewer sitting very still.

Secondly movies made in 3D all suffer from two key issues; they fail when the action exits the screen and the frame rate is too low to avoid flickering.

The third issue is a technical issue with camera technology. Cameras require a point of focus, so when you look at the screen, you need to look exactly where the director planned for you to look, as everything else is in soft focus, this is okay for 2D, but is very unnatural for 3D.

So overall 3D TV’s are a technology looking for an application that has been taken up my marketing people to create a reason to charge more. The technology lags the marketing to the point of being stupid.

If you love the idea of 3D go to a full size Imax viewing, and watch a pure CGI (computer generated image) movie. These seem to be the only movies and the only environment that does the technology justice.

And the last thing I’m going to mention is apps. In theory apps should be awesome, allowing you to do many internety things directly on your TV. But there are too many issues today. Every app enabled TV seems to have different apps. The TV remote is not the perfect way to control internety things. And rather than the cost of an app enabled TV, you can consider a roku or apple tv box (each about the same price as adding app functionality to a TV), these seem a lot better as they allow you to upgrade to a different one in a year when the technology is more stable. While having a TV with all this built in means you are relying on the likes of Sony or Samsung to get their act together. It’s like having a HD DVD player built-in , just as Blu-ray wins the standards war.

My choice is a LED TV without 3D or Apps, and add a roku or apple TV along with your cable or satellite box. And much to the chagrin of every bestbuy or pc richards sales person I know that the cheapest HDMI cable gives you a perfect picture.

HDMI is a digital standard, what this means is the cable is used to send a very low power, low voltage signal. Technically this means that resistance, impedance and capacitance can be right at the edge of the specifications tolerance and cause no issue at all. As long as the cable is wired correctly from one end to the other every cable will work. I use a 45 foot HDMI cable from a no-name company and send a signal at 1080p and at 120Hz to the TV with perfect results. Your local TV retailer will stock a wide range of cables ranging in price from a few dollars all the way up to several hundred dollars. And they have been trained to sell you the most expensive ones they can. They will tell you about pure copper cores, oxygen free, gold contacts and many other cool sounding technical features, when you hear them, image that salesman standing on the back of a cart pitching you a special oil made from a snake that will cure all known illnesses…. It’s the same story.

If you buy a cable and it ends up not working, it’s because it was a faulty cable or you have some source of interference in the path of the cable. 99% of the time the lowest cost cable (even the one that came for free with you cable box) will work perfectly. Not just work well, but work perfectly.

And lets not even get started on the extended warranty. Tech is designed to last well beyond even the extended warranty period, and for a box your sticking on the wall and will never physically touch the chance of a failure is small, very small.

So that’s modern TV’s!


Is Apple getting boring?

Is it time to see apple as “that company that used to amaze?.

It was amazing when apple introduced the ipod, the imacs were really cool. I loved it when they introduced the iphone. The ipad was game changing. I even loved the airport extreme, and the apple tv (version 2) changed how I use my TV’s and computers.

But now it’s just a case of twice a year; thinner, faster, bigger, smaller, wider, taller and longer lasting.

Has apple become the new sell-a-vision. Rather than keynotes are they now really delivering 30 minute ad’s prompting how their new feature will change our lives , but hold on order now and get two for the same price , just pay separate shipping and handling.

I still love their products, but it feels like the innovation has slowed down considerably.

Compared to others in the space of ergonomics of consumer IT, they still suck least. But surely that’s not what we have come to expect from Apple.

Information Technology still sucks in so many ways, and there are still huge empty spaces for creativity and game changing innovation.

Apple don’t let the death of your autocratic founding genius be the reason why you stagnate and become part of the homogenous mush that is the rest of tech.

Some of the Android-y companies and even Microsoft seem to be showing signs of getting ready to take the creative high ground. I suspect they will continue to break as much as they fix, so apple you have a chance to stay as the leader of the cool pack. But that chance is getting smaller every day.


Just say NO!

I am sick and tired of being asked if I want to buy an extended warranty, on every single individual item I wish to purchase at a tech store.

Today I was at Radio shack. I needed to pick up a few cheap interconnection devices to allow me to record and playback phone calls. In all I need to buy four components, totaling about $50.

The checkout girl rang up the first item and said “would you like to buy an extended warranty on this cable, it only costs $2.99 and will cover you from loss or damage for an additional year”.

I responded “no thank you I don’t wish to purchase any extended warranties on any of these items”

Then you rang up the next item, a $15 telephone. She then said “would you like to buy an extended warranty on this phone, it only costs $2.99 and will cover you from loss or damage for an additional year”.

I responded “ look I don’t want to buy any extended warranties, and if you ask me just once more I will walk out and not buy anything”

Looking flustered she rang up the third item and proceeded to say “would you like to buy an extended warranty on this cable, it only costs $2.99 and will cover you from loss or damage for an additional year”.

I walked out of the store.

Whatever happened to listening to the customer? I don’t want extended warranties, I don’t wont them for cheap items, and I absolutely don’t want to be insulted by a corporation that expects me to listen to the same message multiple times, even though I’ve already made my position clear.

What is the point of going to a store, when basically your getting the same service as a website.

I feel very sorry for the poor woman who is mandated by her faceless corporate bosses to repeat statements that clearly are not wanted by the customer. I know these people (at least generically), they have a chart that shows the profit margins of all the items in the store, and realize that the profit margin on extended warranties is close to 100%, so given a choice they would stop selling products and just sell the extended warranties.

Obviously even these finely tuned sales gurus, realize that you actually have to sell a product to be able to sell the warranty, so they reluctantly place products on shelves, but in the firm knowledge they are only they to sell extended warranties.

These bastions of idiocy are missing the entire point of why they are in business. The have no understanding of why customers buy their products, the products themselves or the way in which customers wish to interact with their company.

I can guarantee that these executives who are making these decisions at companies like radio shack did not start their career in that business, and do not plan to end their career in that business.

When you see a company that is lead by founders, or at least people who deeply understand the business they are in the experience is amazingly different.

Financial products may seem like a great way of maximizing profit, but below them must be a product or service, which the customer wants and/or needs.

Financial manipulation in the stock market, mortgage market, car loans or even extended warranties are never going to grow civilization. While they can make a small number of people very rich in the short term they actually hurt a country in the long term.



Why I tolerate crap maps from Apple.

It’s true I’ve prayed at the temple of Apple (known to those in the know as the Tapple). Well It’s not a religious experience but a logical one. Technology is a major part of the western world. We all consume information as a primary activity, be it TV, radio, newspapers, books, conversation, music, browsing the shops, video games it’s all about information, we consume it and we create it by our every action.

A view from the just launched apple maps – seriously what world is this?

Our TV’s have grown from monochrome cathode ray tubes to 65-inch thin glass picture frames on the wall with near real colors and enough pixels to almost seem natural.

And everything has a microprocessor inside it, allowing layers of software to create a grid of intelligence that overlays our lives.

Everyone we interact with friends, family, companies we work with, companies we don’t want relationships with, governments; everyone keeps data on each of us.

Thousands of friends on facebook , twitter, pintrest. Contact databases, loyalty cards, credit cards, face recognition, everything we touch and touches us is creating data.

The trick today is to get all that beautiful data to work for us.

At the consumer level we all have multiple TV’s, hi-fi’s, phones, cameras, laptops, home computers, but they are all disparate devices, each with their own way of allowing us to consume all this data we collect.

That is except Apple. The ONE thing that Apple has done better than anyone else is to create a way that you can access all your data from anywhere.

Each of my TV’s has an Apple TV attached to it, this means I can watch movies and listen to music in exactly the same way on all of them. And I can do exactly the same thing from my Ipads, Iphones, computers, and laptops.

Apple offer the only consistent interface across many devices

I can also move the listening or watching of media from and of those devices just with the touch of a button. I can be watching a movie on YouTube on my ipad and with the press of a button push it to any of my TV’s. It’s such a trivial and easy task I don’t event see it as technical any more.

But without Apple there is no other way of doing this!

If I use Microsoft Windows, or Android I can “almost” do it, but it’s technical and if I were to try and show my wife how to do it, I would probably be wearing a keyboard as a internal nose attachment.

Xboxes, Wiis, PS3’s, Samsung TV’s, roku boxes, along with many music solutions all offer bits of the solution, but only Apple today offers one that works easily and without extreme cost.

I’ve seen some excellent marketing videos from Google and Microsoft promising a future where every surface is an interface (not unlike an awesome sci-fi movie), and they look incredible, but today what they offer is not even close to the vision or even what apple is delivering right now.

I can’t wait for others to catch up. I want to see what it’s going to take to become the new king.

I get quite angry when I read reviews for new tech, and the reviewers fail to consider the complete solution consumers care about. For example when a reviewer reviews a mobile phone, and they talk about the camera and the battery life, but entirely fail to mention that there are zero accessories available and there is really crap software that is required to move movies to the phone, or that there is no way to interact between the phone and any other device in your life. It’s lazy reviewing and is just a repackaging of the marketing departments reviewers guide, with no added value. Yes I’m talking to you David Pogue and you Walt Mossberg and you CNET. I have been fooled by your passionate (but proven worthless) reviews too many times. I mention these particular people because I think they are the best of the bunch, and while they are not always good enough that are clearly better than most.

I miss Cranky Geeks, the video blog run by John Dvorak. Dvorak lived up to the shows title, but at the same time gave an honest portrayal of tech we come in contact with, and is often very hard on new technology, but is more often than not proved right.

Cranky Geeks – I Miss you

We need more cantankerous reviewers in the tech world. Maybe if the press were less agreeable when companies launched weak incomplete solutions, just maybe they would start to put more effort into meeting the consumer need.
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