Duncan Wilcock


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Monday, March 28, 2011

iPad 2

Yup, I joined the iPad club this weekend. I can't say I thought I would ever be "one of those people" who lines up for an Apple product, but consider this a confession.  The timing worked out well for me - just after work - and here in Duncan, BC there weren't the kinds of lines that may have been found in bigger cities.  Still - it was impressive to have a few units here in our sleepy little town on launch day.

So - what do I think of it?

Actually it really is pretty fantastic.  There are lots of things to like about it, but I'll limit myself here to my top 3 things.

1.  It feels fast.

It does.  You only have to try it for 30 seconds to notice how quickly webpages render, how fast apps switch, how effortless it is to flick content around the screen. (thanks to the whole touch thing and inertial-scrolling)  Anyone I have shown it to remarks on this almost as soon as they touch it.

2.  It's more sociable.

Something about it lying flat on the kitchen counter, or the table - lets others see what you're looking up, so that everyone has an interest in it.  Not having everyone "crowd around your laptop" is SO much better.

3.  You can curl up on the couch with it.

This is another reason it's sociable.  It feels natural to curl up on the couch with your significant other and look at things on it together. No more jiggering with a laptop & keyboard.  It's just a screen,  and that's all it needs to be.

4 - Ok one more - Garageband is fantastic.  Even I can strum chords on a "guitar," and actually sound pretty passable.   If you don't know what I'm talking about - watch the 10 minute demo in the apple keynote starting at the 47 minute mark.

I don't think I can overstate how touch opens up so many new possibilities.  After all - Apple ushered in a new paradigm for computing with the mouse & the macintosh back in the 80s, and now I think Steve Jobs has made the next paradigm - touch computing - his magnum opus.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

BC Provincial Statistics - A Free Public Resource

I've been using the BC Stats website lately for work. There's some fantastic information on there - all free to access.

Mostly I've been looking at the residential housing permits data.  There is data broken down by regional district and even by community, going back 10 years, as well as for the past 25 months.  Here is a link to the page, and then scroll down to "Construction & Housing."  Pretty fantastic stuff for assessing the state of regional markets and observing trends.

Also really interesting/useful are the "Community Fact Sheets" that synthesize data from provincial and federal sources to give a concise overview of each regional district.  The fact sheet for the Cowichan Valley is shown above,  and here is a link to the rest of the fact sheets for BC.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Byzantine History - A Great Podcast

I've been listening to a podcast on byzantine history lately. I'm about halfway through now, far enough to recognize that it's worth recommending.

Byzantine history is a gaping hole in my general knowledge, and this is proving to be a great way to absorb something of the subject.

You can get the podcast into itunes & your ipod from this link:

Podcast of 12 Byzantine Rulers

Monday, March 07, 2011

Two Predictions about Apple

I have two predictions about Apple for the months ahead, and I decided I want to write them down to make a public record of them.

First - A bigger iPad in September.

Others have suggested that Apple is going to ship another new iPad in September, with higher resolution. I think that is quite likely to be true, and I think it will also be physically larger than the original iPads. This will start to flesh-out their iPad product line in terms of price and selection.

iPad is the new flagship of Apple's product line. iPhone is still the biggest revenue source, but iPad is Steve Job's baby. His legacy to the world after his passing.

A physically larger iPad will also enable other functionality. A larger keyboard for the new GarageBand app for instance. Also think about Microsoft's Surface computer - I'm not saying it will be a full on coffee-table size, but there is certainly a use case to be considered for having a larger screen. I would guess physically it will be around the 17" range, and it might have to be a bit thicker to provide adequate physical strength for the glass. They might even start with a couple of options - 15" & 17" or so to start.

Second - iTunes Store payments via Mobile-Phone Accounts.

My second prediction is about mobile payments. Rumors are hot & heavy that NFC payments will be built into iPhone 5, and I think it's pretty likely. Probably we will be able to choose to associate the payment system with your credit card, or have the amount billed to your mobile phone account.

This is big news, and in time it could massively disrupt the credit card companies, and I'm sure they're well aware of it. Currently around 2% of every retail transaction charged to a credit card goes to the credit card companies. If Mobile phone companies charge merchants less - say 0.5% - this will be the beginning of some much needed competition for the credit card companies.

Apple probably has something clever up their sleeve to give iTunes customers a clear benefit for using mobile payments, but I haven't figured out what yet. Perhaps they will manufacture a benefit - such as fewer clicks - or else an offer a monetary benefit after a year or so.

Anyway - this is my prediction - Apple uses Mobile Payments to undercut the credit-card companies on their iTunes Store accounts.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Crowd Accelerated Innovation

One of the curators of TED Talks - Chris Anderson, has identified something he calls "Crowd Accelerated Innovation" and how it is being turbo-charged by online video sites like YouTube. I think he is really on to something.

His doppleganger - the editor of wired magazine Chris Anderson - wrote it up in a well written article in wired, (click that link to see it) - in fact I found better it better than the actual TED talk.

It refers to a video about "The LXD" - The League of Extraordinary dancers - which is worth watching for the sake of marvelling at what the human body can do.

If want to watch the original TED Talk where the subject is introduced, it is here. Don't get me wrong - it's worth watching, I was just surprised to find the wired article better than the original source material.