Futuristic User Interface 09: Cyberpunk UIs and Huds from Anime Movies IV.
Yes, I said it. Their lawsuits and patents are bordering on either news grab, the question “Seriously?”, or the most asinine things that have been written. I say all three of them. In case you haven’t kept up with the news, Apple is suing Samsung, HTC, and Motorola for violating their patents. Normally, I would applaud Apple for sticking to their guns and suing those companies because Apple is in their right to protect its’ property and it should. Don’t get me wrong. Apple has innovated before and changed things for a good amount of people. OS X is original and an example of innovation in terms of design, functionality, and looks. People have a second operating system to consider besides Windows. OS X is also easy to pick up and use just by looking at a picture of the user interface. iOS is an original innovation. If you thought OS X was easy to use, iOS is even easier to use for phones and as an iPod with Wi-Fi. All you have are icons, or apps that you tap on and you open up that program. You also have a notification center that will tell you anything you’ve missed since the last time you picked up that phone. I credit iOS with putting touchscreens on the map and making people realize that simplicity and functionality together can work under a phone operating system. The iPod line, while not original, redefined the MP3 player landscape. Apple has innovated and made other companies question what they’ve done before by showing them their vision and take on well-established items, the computer and the music player come to mind.
Even with all this, it is hard to understand why Apple has been suing people left and right with the most ridiculous products. It’s even more baffling to me how judges can side with Apple when Android looks different software-wise to Apple and even more baffling that Apple has the look of a tablet patented. That in of itself is something that should never have been granted, even in broad terms. It speaks to how messed up the patent system is. It worked back in 1789 when it was adopted in the US Constitution, but software patents seem to be new ground for the current patent system. I will give Apple for being shrewd to actually write their patents in a way that they are broad, but unless you’re Microsoft, cross-licensing is out of the question. Apple hates Android without question. Steve Jobs hated Android and wanted to see it die. I get that Jobs might have felt betrayed by Google when they announced the G1 back in 2008 and decided to create a phone operating system like Apple did since they worked very closely in the past. It’s ridiculous that Apple gets these patents even if they were clever and smart enough to do it. It’s even more ridiculous that people buy into what Apple says and have Android banned in some parts of the world, mostly Samsung. Samsung’s tablets look very similar to the iPad in terms of bezel and looks, I’ll give it that. However, when was that ever grounds for banning products? It sounds ludicrous. Looks wise, I think there’s a difference between the both of them. Consumers should be able to tell a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 apart from an iPad.
The bad thing about this is would be the failure of innovation. With all these patents being used to left and right, innovation seems poised to stop. I wouldn’t say it will be gone, but it’s going to be very hard to actually innovate if you cannot design your phone or tablet in certain ways because of ambiguous writing. Sue if you must, but not for petty things such as looks being similar, hyperlinks in emails, slide to lock, etc. That compromises comfort and ease. It also makes you look like a bully, Apple. I understand that you have to make money and turn in profits, but suing left and right is going to result in a PR backlash for you down the line. Not many people are going to like this side of you if this keeps up, and they will gradually leave just to prove a point. Also, competition is good. Not everybody will welcome the idea that everything in their house has to be Mac or Windows, certainly not me. Android serves a purpose, so does BlackBerry, competition that drives other companies to be better. If Apple silences that, we’re in for a rude awakening.
Nice going dude.
On an uptown C train on Wednesday afternoon, one rider complained that “the commercialization of humanity is destroying everything in the world” and suggested “it would be nice to have public transportation separate from brainwashing.”
He declined to give his name, he said, pulling his hat low, because “all great philosophers are anonymous.”
I’ve had two days (not counting the weekend) with the new version of Chrome OS and so far, I think it’s an overall good update from Chrome OS 18. Cr-48 laptop owners skipped Chrome OS 19, as those were for the 1st Gen Samsung and Acer Chromebooks, as well as what the 2nd Gen Samsung Chromebook and the Chromebox came preloaded with out of the box.
Chrome OS 20 is a radical redesign since it comes with the new Aura UI. Instead of being presented with the regular Chrome Browser with Wi-Fi (or Verizon 3G), time and battery indicators, Aura takes bits and pieces from Windows and Mac. We have windows, a taskbar, wallpaper, and a huge visual improvement from the drab gray browser of the past. I didn’t mind the drab gray browser from Chrome OS 18, although I welcome the new UI of Chrome OS 20. It makes Chrome OS look new again. However, don’t expect apps on the taskbar to open its own separate window. It will open a new tab on whatever window you have open right now that is not in incognito browsing. The app selection page reminded me of OS X Lion’s Launchpad with one annoying gripe for me. I can’t seem to navigate through all my apps if I have more than 45 web-apps. There’s no option to navigate to a second or third page which should not be an issue at this day and age for anybody. I find it hard to believe that Google would not pay attention to this. However, I did take the time to do some summer cleaning and delete apps that I no longer use to find any hidden apps to pin on the taskbar. The transparent borders and the transparent taskbar are very reminiscent of Aero and the taskbar of Windows 7. Heck, the whole style is Windows 7. The kernel, or underlying core that helps software and hardware communicate with one another, is still Linux underneath all that shine and polish.
Beside the visual refresh, Google Drive comes integrated with offline support for Google Docs. Chrome OS 21 will expand on the Google Drive integration, but for the time being, it’s not bad as it does what it does. You can access your stored files from the Files app (located right under the Downloads section) and edit it. I think this is the single most important feature for this update. This is what a lot of people wanted and now they’ve got it. It opens your stored file in a new tab under Google Docs (now called Google Drive), allowing you to edit it.
Since I have the Cr-48 laptop, I also have a new open-source touchpad driver that is designed to handle all the responsiveness issues of the touchpad from previous versions of Chrome OS. There’s been a big improvement because before when accessing imo.im and scrolling down my buddy list, I ended up highlighting about half my buddy list. As of Chrome OS 20, that no longer occurs which is a very great thing. However, some taps don’t register as they used to and it may be a little more sluggish. The sluggishness can be fixed by adjusting the speed, but it’s not so much a problem for me since the pace is still bearable. Besides, two finger scrolling still works and every other gesture works even better than before. Kind of a mixed bag there, but in terms of responsiveness problems, I think this update did the trick. I’m surprised that it took Google this long to fix it. There is now an option to enable reverse scrolling.
Other than these new features and the usual fixes, Flash Player has been updated to the latest 11.3 version and the sandboxed Pepper Flash variant has some updates as well. Besides that, everything else is the same functionality wise. You still need Wi-Fi or Verizon 3G (GSM SIM Card if going international) to be able to get the most out of your Chromebook. Even though Chrome OS 20 is very pleasing to the eyes, offline apps are still hard to come by and a rarity. The same thing still stands, don’t use a Chromebook if you don’t have a Wi-Fi router or justify paying Verizon every month or being in a two or three-year contract with them. Online access is still essential to using Chromebooks. However, other than that, the update is pretty much welcome. Let’s hope Chrome OS 21 will keep the momentum going when it comes out next month.
Day 1 of Google I/O saw the debut of Asus Nexus 7 and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The Nexus 7 is a 7-inch tablet that leverages the Google Play Store with its books, TV shows, and movie content. This tablet owns the Kindle Fire for many reasons. Stock Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, the option to use either the Play Store or the Amazon Appstore, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, NFC via Android Beam, front-facing camera, GPS, IPS display, 1 GB RAM, and 8 GB or 16 GB of storage. Like the Kindle Fire and previous Google Nexus devices, there is no microSD card slot. That’s a small price to pay, but also irrelevant as long as you control the number of apps that you download. In terms of how I use the Asus Transformer TF101 Android tablet, I don’t need a microSD card because the amount of apps I have does not come close to the 16 GB mark nor does it exceed it.
When it comes to the content of the Amazon Kindle Fire compared to Google’s Play Store, I think Amazon wins this hands down. Amazon simply has more music, TV, and movie content than Google does. On the magazine front, they’re about even. Kindle Fire might not have the whole Android catalog of apps open to them. They also have timed exclusive apps like Readability that isn’t available to the Play Store as of now and the free app of the day. However, the number of Play Store apps for outweigh exclusive Kindle Fire apps, though the free app of the day may or may not have the app you want. Kindle Fire is still on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which is very outdated by now. Nexus 7 uses a backlit IPS display used on the Transformer tablets also from Asus and the iPad, which accounts for the good visibility angles.
The Asus Nexus 7 beats the Amazon Kindle Fire. Google has a surefire winner on its hands, as long as it promotes the fact that you can read Kindle books and not just be a walking ad for Amazon’s services. You can’t go wrong with the Nexus 7 nor the Kindle Fire, as long as you know that it’ll suit your needs. Best way to find out is to do your homework and research first.
Foxconn doesn’t seem that bad now compared to VTech. Regardless, VTech needs to make drastic changes in how they treat their people. Litigation won’t erase that fact.
I’ve watched Chrome with much interest over the years. While lately I’ve been generally harsh on a number of Google products, there’s still no doubt in my mind that when it comes to the browser — at least on the desktop — Google is winning. That’s a big part of why Chrome OS fascinates me.
Chrome OS is Google taking their best product and broadening its reach. The aim isn’t just to erase the stain that is Internet Explorer (which sure seems to be working), it’s to go after one of Microsoft’s legs: Windows. So far, it doesn’t appear to be working.
I’m gonna do something different today. In light of the news that Pokémon Black Version 2 and White Version 2 will be coming out in the U.S. this fall, I feel like reviewing Pokemon Black for the Nintendo DS.
I remember the first time I played a Pokémon game. It was in 4th grade, I was in Hong Kong, and my relatives had gotten me a Game Boy Color (which I still have today) and the original Pokémon Green in all it’s Japanese language glory. I beat that game with virtually no understanding of the Japanese kanji and hiragana. Then came Pokémon Silver, which I have fond memories of because of the lengthy story, the surprise twist at the end, the colored sprites and scenery (a big deal for Game Boy fans at the time), and translated to English. It was a blast. As we come to Black and White, the premise of the story is still the same. Guy or girl leaves home to become the Pokémon Champion. It’s a tried and true premise that has worked for series in the past thirteen years. What’s different, you ask? The antagonists of this story, the land that you’re in, and, you guessed it, the new species of Pokémon.
Granted, Team Plasma actually has a complex and mature objective that is a lot more dark than past games (i.e. Team Rocket) Team Plasma wants to liberate Pokémon from humans a la PETA as we’re hurting them by sticking them in tiny balls and using computers as storage for the many tiny balls that we accumulate with these creatures. It’s a very interesting motive we’ve got in our hands and their motives is not entirely unsympathetic and bad. Plus, it definitely adds to the intrigue and story for this game. This isn’t your daddy’s Pokémon game for sure.
The graphics are a big leap coming from Pokémon Silver. Three-dimensional objects are correctly implemented, there are more colors, easily viewable difference of height in buildings, changeable viewpoints, shadows, puddles, footprints, etc. These little things are beneficial in the immersion of a guy like myself into the game. The new land was modeled after New York City, which has been my home for my whole life. To see NYC used as the basis for this new land and cities, it’d definitely noticeable. Their most busiest city draws some similarities to Manhattan, one of the archeological sites reminds me of the World Trade Center site for some reason, which made me slightly uncomfortable, because of the way the place in the game looked drawn up, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from playing the game and doing my best to enjoy a game of this magnitude to the fullest. Also, seasons make their debut in this game. Past games would add day and night. Day and night is definitely in this game, but adding seasons makes it harder to access places and collect certain kinds of Pokémon. One month in real-world time is the equivalent to a season. So winter, autumn, spring, and summer fly by in the span of a month, which is very quick, but if you’re sucked into the game, that’s practically an eternity.
I give props for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection in Rockefeller Center because I was able to download Victini and Mewtwo into the game. Are both of them any good? Depends on how you play. A big disadvantage of my Nintendo DS Lite is that it doesn’t work on my WPA2 connection. I didn’t play multiplayer nor did I use the Dream World because of that. Going into Rockefeller Center to play on the DS all the time wouldn’t have been feasible. Thus, the C-Gear was next to useless for me.
Now on to the game mechanics. First up, battling. It’s faster than I remember, which is saying a lot because the battling wasn’t all that quick to begin with. It’s definitely a lot more bearable. There are now animations that the two Pokémon on opposite ends of the screen do. At least they’re moving around now rather than standing in a fix position. I didn’t mind the close-ups in battle sequences when either Pokémon creature got hit. It helps bring home the point that your critter took some hits. However, it’s still the same thing. You run into a trainer, you automatically enter a battle. New are the double and triple battles, which really gave me some trouble, especially the Pokémon with dual elements that counteracted the weaknesses of one single element, for example water and electric. Electric removes the water weakness so that electric can’t hurt electric. It’s those simple things that I’m surprised Game Freak didn’t attempt to address before. Double battles mean you have one four Pokémon on the field and triple battles mean six Pokémon are on field. The strategists who play the game may want to plan accordingly. Also new are rotation battles which are single battles, but you have two other Pokémon on reserve that you can switch in and out at your command. You have to plan your attacks accordingly because your attack might hit a different critter. The rotation battles aren’t that hard though if your Pokémon are on par in terms of level. It’s about the luck of the draw.
156 new Pokémon are introduced with this game, bringing the total to 649. The other 493 Pokémon won’t be seen until after the game though, which makes it somewhat of a fresh start since past games always allowed you to use old and new generation Pokémon. Now, we have only new Pokémon to use in the beginning, which is good because now we can rely on new critters to experiment and use now instead of relying on old faithful mainstays all the time. This is a restart that breathes new life into the old franchise. If anything, the story makes me interested for what comes next in Black & White 2.
It is instructive to look at the trajectory of most startups in this latest so-called bubble. As I look upon the last three years, there have been enormous changes in the tech sector. The one area in particular that has contributed to these changes has been the ubiquity of technology services that…