The year 2015 has been an interesting year in terms of consumer electronics. This year we saw a new Apple Watch, hover boards, and multiple different 3D interface devices, including a few that can be built at home. I know that tech gadgets aren’t for everybody, but with the great advances of this year I am excited for what next year will bring. The great yet somewhat annoying thing about new gadgets is how quickly the prices fall. A large television that was priced at $2000 can have a comparable alternative by the next year for a quarter of the price. Technology is getting bigger, better, faster, and cheaper, and it seems as though 2016 will be the most affordable year in terms of the sheer quantity of interesting gadgets. I have learned over the years that new technology is always around the corner, and while I have been known to be an early adopter of many new products, I often find myself enjoying the novelty of older gadgets. In 2016, I expect technology to make a massive shift into the scifi realm, and I think we will see some products that were once thought of as impossible. I don’t expect to see hologram phones just yet, but based on the technological advances of the past five years, something huge is right around the corner.
As the new year quickly approaches, I have found myself thinking about my triumphs and mistakes of the past year. It is always an interesting experience to look at your own life and make assessments on where things could have been done differently, but it is never fun to regret chances that were squandered. Looking over the past year I can honestly say that I am not dissatisfied with any of the decisions I made, however I can see areas in which more planning should have been taken into effect. The year 2015 was a year of “safety” for me, I really didn’t take as many risks as I usually do, and I found this year to be somewhat boring. I don’t necessarily think risks need to be taken to have excitement, but when things seem mundane they could represent a lack of planning. I know that most things in life cannot be planned, and that the plans of men often go awry, but when plans do go off without a hitch they usually don’t end up being boring. I have decided that while I know I can not control everything that comes my way, I will make a solid action plan for the major accomplishments I plan to see through in the year 2016. The year is nearly over and everything from the past is now firmly part of memory, the best and only thing anyone can do going forward is to make sure the mistakes of the past are not repeated and the plans of the future are well plotted out. I am eager to see the new things that 2016 will bring, hopefully my plans don’t falter and I won’t be seeing a repeat of the mistakes of yesterday in the story of tomorrow.
Today is the first day of the last month of the year, and I have been writing this blog for over 300 days. I have learned many lessons throughout this year about myself, and though I have not really chronicled the growth I have seen in this blog, I can say that writing daily has helped me to better recognize the things that I have seen change throughout the year. I have definitely noticed that the year is much shorter than it seems, and that things can change quickly over the course of the year. If I could categorize this year into four themes for each quadrant, they would be, new beginnings, taking risks, bitter ends, and fresh starts. Not every year will go like this but as I have seen in this year, things can change rapidly so it is important to stay focused or you may find yourself stuck in a terrible season. In the beginning of the year, I decided to try a few new things, and as I went along in the year I took a few more risks here and there. The risks I took yielded varying results that at times culminated into unforeseen endings. Once I got over those “bitter ends,” I realized that life is full of endings and beginnings, and in order to continue you must always be ready to restart at something new. As I head into this final month of the year I will do what I have done all year, and that is to continue to learn, grow, and get better at whatever I am doing at the current time. Life is full of triumphs and setbacks, and the only way to make it through the setbacks is to remember the approaching triumphs and to continue moving forward.
Even thought the iPhone 6s was released less than two months ago, there are already rumors about Apple’s next entry into the mobile phone market. The iPhone 7 figures to be the name of the next iPhone, and along with a slightly upgraded look, Apple plans to make this phone the slimmest smartphone of all time. I am all in favor for making phones more compact, but in order to achieve this slender profile, Apple is rumored to be doing away with the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is the universal standard for smartphones and multimedia devices, and while Apple has plans to replace it with their lightning connector, ridding their phones of the standard headphone jack will almost certainly alienate costumers who are looking to try an iPhone. Apple is used to introducing new iterations of old products in an effort to shake up the phone industry, but this change may be a huge mistake. I don’t think Apple will lose customers with a drastic change in the phones facade, but they will definitely annoy many, by turning their expensive headphones into obsolete peripherals of the past. I hope this rumor isn’t true, and as with all rumors it should be taken with a grain of salt, but Apple has shown in the past that they would be willing to make big changes to fit their style. I guess we will all just have to wait until the release of this phone before we start assuming the worst from its potential design.
With modern advancements in technology, it is no longer a question of if you can do something on your mobile device, but when. In just a mere eight years, mobile phones have gone from being a luxury device to an everyday companion to over a billion people around the world. I once worked with mobile phones and I have to admit there were several things I believed would never make it to a mobile device, and today I can proudly list the top 5 things I thought would never be doable on a smartphone.
1. Order and Pay for Takeout
I am still getting used to no longer having to dial up Pete down the street when I am hungry for some pizza, but apps like Grubhub and Seamless have made ordering delivery or takeout as simple as a few taps on a screen. I have to admit I never thought my clumsy old blackberry would be able to deliver my lunch, but now we are possibly a couple of years away from it being able to control my entire kitchen.
2. Hail a Cab
Catching a cab in New York City can at times be stressful, but apps like Uber and Lyft have cut out the waiting and given customers like myself a personal car service in the palm of our hands. Now we are able to sit inside our warm offices as we wait for our ride home.
3. Pay for Purchases
There is absolutely nothing better than running out to the store with only your keys and your phone in your hand. Apple Pay has made shopping hassle free and has all but eliminated the need for a wallet.
4. Find a date
I am not big on online dating, but for those who are, smartphones have become a reliable wingman. Apps like Plenty of Fish and Tinder have become a one stop shop for singles looking to meet someone special, and they can both be used without stepping a foot out of the door. I bet you never thought your phone could help you find a wedding date.
5. Travel the World
Apps like Periscope and Meerkat have made our world closer than it has ever been. I am now able to travel to the Pyramids of Egypt without buying a plane ticket. Nothing beats the real thing, but it is amazing that our phones are able to take us to such far away locations at a moments notice.
Virtual reality seems to be making a comeback in recent years. What was once limited to the imagination and displayed on lazily drawn red grids, is now once again in the public eye. Virtual reality or VR as it is commonly referred, was once only a gimmick, it was the idea that we can transport ourselves to another location without leaving the place we stand. VR has been attempted by video game companies in the 90s but it never made commercial success, after the failure of the Nintendo Virtual Boy, it was widely believed that VR technology was just not a financially sound investment at the time. While VR technology has seen continuing production for years, it was not until recently that it has become accessible to the general public, both technologically and fiscally. VR devices such as the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard, have made virtual reality extremely attainable to the everyday person, and with the rapid development of apps for the platform, it seems these devices are becoming more of a commodity than they have ever been in the past. In my opinion VR still is and will always be a fun gimmick, it is nice to try a VR device, but I honestly don’t think they can ever be an everyday recreational staple. There are many practical uses for virtual reality, but unfortunately VR in itself is just not practical enough to maintain lasting appeal.
In scifi movies robots are created to assist humans in basic everyday tasks, but in reality many believe they are being built to replace humanity. I know the idea automation can seem scary to many, but in reality people are getting too busy, and too advanced to not allow a robot to do some of the jobs we find tedious. I remember back when I used to work retail, customers would always prefer working with a human over an automated machine, they would think they are doing a service to humans by keeping us useful, but in my opinion what they were actually doing was tying us up in mundane tasks that could have easily been done by a computer. I understand that the use of robots in manufacturing assisted in crippling the American auto industry, and probably destroyed the economy of many cities throughout the US, but fearing the future is not going to stop it from coming. Technophobia is the fear of technological advancement, and it seems as though it is no longer a belief that is reserved for the very old. In this day of technological advancement many people fear they will be made obsolete, and while I agree that many current jobs will not be around in ten years, I think now is the time to begin learning about tech of the future. As long as humanity is building these machines of the future I am sure there will always be a job for man, but we have to learn to embrace the changes in order to avoid getting left behind.
I often find myself thinking about the future, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It is interesting that everyone has an idea of how the future looks, but we rarely ever consider the extreme changes that could occur between the present and the future. I understand that nobody wants to think about the bad, and that our wishes for the future are often only positive, but change is not always bad. The fact of the matter is things change, and we can never correctly predict tomorrow from the vantage point we stand on today. The human’s ability to plan and visualize for the future is rare, but flawed. Many animals can store up resources for later, and even remember where they left these resources but none have as intricate a thought process about the future as humans do. The flaw in our ability to plan comes with the fact that we don’t plan well for what we don’t expect, but if everything was expected, there would be no benefit to planning. It is important to plan, but the most important thing is to remember that things change. What was normal yesterday is now no longer in existence, so it seems like we may have to work on adaptation rather than on planning since we can not perceive the future. In order to properly plan for the future we have to learn to accept change and to expect the unexpected. I will continue to plan for and think about the future even though my plans and thoughts may be only a past dream when the future actually comes around.
Today marks the launch day for the new iPhone 6s, and along with it has come a new revision of iOS. iOS 9 has been out for a week, and today Apple decided to release fixes for the issues users have been having while using the software with update 9.0.1. The most interesting feature Apple has introduced for the new iOS is the ability to block content on the Safari browser. With the content blockers, users are able to block ads, media, and pictures while surfing the web. These content blockers lead to a faster, less cluttered, and less intrusive use of the browser. I have been using content blockers on my computer for years, so I am extremely welcoming of their addition to my mobile platform, however I fear the effect it can have on the Internet and ad revenue for companies that rely on it. I have to admit, web ads are extremely annoying, and mobile ads have become incredibly intrusive, but now that we can block them, companies will have to find new ways to make the money they will be losing. I don’t want to sound like I am the baron of bad news, but mobile content blockers could signal the end of the Internet as we know it. Many websites are no longer offering a mobile version, as they would rather push their free, yet ad supported app onto consumers. With these apps, companies can continue to get their precious ad revenue, while bringing their content directly to the consumer with constant and somewhat annoying notifications. I am not exactly a fan of loading my phone up with apps that I would only use twice a week, and I detest the idea of an app overload my phone with notifications, so if this is going to be the trend for mobile web, I will likely be spending much less time on the Internet in the near future.
Labor Day weekend is the unofficial last weekend of the summer. While summer actually ends on September 22nd, this weekend it is definitely the beginning of the end of summer fun. With college students already back to school, and everyone else soon to follow, everywhere you go seems much less like summer in spite of the still tepid temperatures. Many people use Labor Day weekend as a time to barbecue and spend time with family, I on the other hand like to just sit back, relax, and reflect on the summer fun that has come and gone. I know I have stated before that I don’t like extreme temperatures, hot or cold, so I really enjoy the transitional periods between New York’s most extreme seasons. As the city transforms from a tropical play land into a more mellow fall gallery, I love to remember the adventures of the summer past. This summer was quite eventful and definitely enjoyable, but somehow it always seems like it was not long enough. When I look back on the activities of summer, I realize that while they all lasted a perfect amount of time, the memory can never truly recreate the enjoyment of each moment. Memories are always great, but it is most important to make sure that each moment is given an adequate amount of time to be cherished. Summer is just about gone, hopefully everyone had an enjoyable time, and took the time to actually enjoy it since, much like summer, moments come and go, but the memory is never the same as enjoying a moment in the present.