Technology

You Cannot be Siri-ous

Yesterday my beloved Apple Inc launched the latest iPhone. The iPhone 4S. A speed bump, with a new camera and air play capabilities and more besides. Well on the face of it it’s not bad, I won’t be getting one. Largely because I am tied into my contract with 3 and I’m not gonna sell my Grandma to get my hands on this.

On the 28th April 2010 Apple brought Siri, a company founded in 2007. One selling point of the iPhone 4S is Siri integration. The technology is amazing, Siri is a voice commanded digital personal assistant, a secretary without the short skirt and stockings… (shame) Siri recognises what you are saying and can schedule appointments, tell you the weather, read your messages and listen to you dictate replies and send them for you. As I say all amazing technology, I remember the early voice recognition stuff, you had to train it, even then it wouldn’t understand what you said, it often had to be used in environment which you shared with only deathly silence. Microsoft attempted to demo this and failed.

Fast forward a few years and Microsoft have succeeded, as anyone who has ever said “X Box Play DVD” will tell you. I even have a dictation app on my iPhone 4, it is very good, it is free and if I’m not drunk it understands me. I think it wishes I wasn’t drunk quite so often, so it had a fighting chance.

Going back in time once more, forgive me for more time travel than your average episode of Doctor Who in this piece… (hmmm maybe an excuse for a pic of Karen Gillan.) In the Late 70’s all the way through the 80’s. A conversation the world over:-

“Please leave your message after the beep.” said a metallic voice.

BEEP

“Oh no, not one of these, urm I hate talking to these things… pick up if your….”
BEEP

Then the tape would run out or catch fire. The hatred of the answer machine remains, even though we have progressed to voice mail, which has none of the tape issues. You still have to record a greeting, and even with advent of personalised greetings there is still the risk your potential new boss will here the personal message meant for your wife’s sister about your huge member….ship of the bridge club.. What!

Karen Gillan.. with some other bloke.. think he might play The Doctor. Kidding the wonderfully talented Matt Smith

So how does 1980’s tech relate to Karen Gillan and Siri. No matter how good Siri is and it is the best system I have ever seen of it’s type. It is still a machine, flesh and blood human beings such as Karen Gillan feel like a berk talking to a machine, and as much as those folks with the bluetooth headsets will say otherwise, if your out and about talking to Siri or even Karen Gillan, other people you encounter will think you are crazy fool talking to yourself.

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Tech vs Viruses

Ok as I stated before I am a Mac Guy. It hasn’t always been this way, my first proper windows PC was a mighty powerful 166mhz Pentium, with I think 16 Mb RAM. On this I ran Norton Anti virus and no firewall whatsoever! When no-one wanted to use the phone (oh dial up how I don’t miss thee) I used this humble machine as a portal to another world. (Mirc and Porn then!) Until one day a virus.

This was back in the day when I wasn’t too tech savvy, having recently transferred to the PC from an Acorn Archimedes, so down to the local tech guys, who formatted my drive and charged me through the nose. Virus removed. Fast forward  15 or so years. Malware hits the Mac in the form of Mac Defender/Guard, not a virus but pretty close, a week later Apple release a security patch, killing the threat. Oh look how far we’ve come, vendors of the operating system now provide patches for viruses and computing is now hassle free, Apple and Microsoft must be commended by for their swift action.. no wait sorry.. apparently the PC variant of Mac Defender and millions of other security threats remain un-patched. Oops.

Microsoft famously in fact have taken 7 years to patch a known vulnerability in their software. 7 years! Now because Microsoft do not make computer hardware, it is unreasonable of anyone to expect them to patch for viruses, because each PC on which it’s software runs is different, but to not patch their own software for 7 years! That is a middle finger to all their customers surely.

People have said the reason why the mac has no in the wild viruses is directly linked to it’s market share. 90% of world use a Microsoft OS. 10% Macs. This is true, partly. Mac OS is built upon UNIX and according to folks more geeky than I, that means it’s more difficult to produce a successful virus. If this recent malware scare has taught virus developers anything it’s surely don’t dick with Apple. You make it, we’ll patch it. There is sure to be a little backlash, with the malware developers changing things, but as Apple announce Mac OS 10.7 Lion I’m backing cupertino.

With smartphones, there is debate about Googles openness in the form of Android Market vs Apples walled garden App Store. Obviously I’m going to favour the garden. All Apps validated by Apple, controlling yes, money making yes, consistent  you bet ya, screw up your phone no freaking way!

Android Market is riddled with Malware Google are removing apps but the open way in which everything has been done means they are always a few steps behind, so on Android your data could be half way round the world before Google have even had a chance to not be evil.

The Mac Geek Gabs Dave Hamilton put this best, when describing internet security.

“It is easier for me to leave my car unlocked with the keys in the ignition ready to go. I don’t because it is insecure.” So if in the future all apps are brought via Apples App store or a Microsoft equivalent and all these apps are validated, we sacrifice a the ease of free choice safe in the knowledge that all the personal stuff we have on our machines is safe. The debate goes on..

 

Phone? What’s a phone?

Ok this is a first for this blog. So welcome to the future. This is the first posting written entirely on my smartphone.

Usually, I’m sat in front of my freshly re-furnished Mac, full of ideas and inspiration (by which I mean beer) but not today I am fully mobile & holding in my hand something which is a more powerful computer than my last HP PC laptop which gave up the ghost 2 short years ago. This I think is pretty cool in itself.

When Dr Martin Cooper invented the first mobile phone 1973 he couldn’t possibly have imagined where we’d be today.

People no longer use phones to phone, not primarily anyway. I can right now on my lunch break at work, use my iPhone to watch TV. In 1996 I was amazed by text messages. I have no clue what will happen in the next few years, no doubt apple & google do. we can but wait.