Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Future of Apple and mobile payments: iCredit Revisited.

Back in September 2011, I wrote an article about Apple’s ridiculous pile of cash and how I thought that they should compete with the credit card companies.  You can read the article “Apple, why not iCredit” here.

It is has been over two years now and nothing has come of my suggestion (evidently, CEO's of multinational corporations like Apple, are not among my readership). The company's absurd pile of cash has nearly double’d in size since then.  They have $147 billion at last count.  This apparently now equates to about 10% of all corporate money in the United States.

The dream of NFC mobile payments never really took off, and I no longer think that it will.  Some companies are still pursuing the technology but apple has never embraced it.  Instead Apple has four other technologies.

Passbook: was released a year ago with iOS6.  Not a lot has happened with the technology yet but it is being used.  Over the past year , I'm sure Apple has used the public as beta testers and has by now improved it and worked out all of the kinks.  It is ready for primetime. 

Bluetooth 4.0 (aka: bluetooth low energy or bluetooth smart): Has been around since the iPhone 4s.  Apple jumped on the technology as soon as it was available.  In fact they were the first company to widely use it.  

iBeacons: With ios7 Apple upgraded its aging operating system.  It was released with much anticipation and usual fanfare.  This feature, however, seemed to slip under the media’s radar.  This is an incredible technology that has the potential to change how we shop and interact with our surroundings.

Touch ID: On September 10th 2013 Apple released the iPhone5s which included a built in fingerprint scanner.  This, I believe, was the last big piece of the puzzle.  Not only is it more convenient than a password, but it solves the security issue if, in the future, it is used for mobile payments. 


The fact that the Cupertino company has completely ignored NFC so far makes me think that Apple has decided to go another route.  These four technologies working together could make for a very seamless shopping experience.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Children Will Destroy Your Life

I havn’t had time to write very much in a long time, I just wanted to take a minute to share a few random thoughts on parenthood.

Some people may think that the title is a little extreme; but before you go and have the academy strip me of my Father-of-the-Year award; let me clarify. 

In the wake of a meteorite* new baby, there is no going out after work for a few cocktails.  There is no going to see the latest movie.  And there is almost no socializing with friends.  In fact the friends that you have without kids may actually lose your number.

The title to this post is accurate.  Children will completely and fundamentally obliterate your life.  That is, the life you currently know.  But the new life that you begin to forge will be pretty damn good too.  Albeit, completely indistinguishable from anything that you are familiar with.

Life still happens.  There is just not enough time. There is nothing left over for yourself.  If there is, you are probably going to want to just relax or take a nap.

Things started out pretty rough.  Not terrible, just rough.  I can’t speak for all fathers but I don’t think that I had the same immediate bond to our new son, that my wife had.  Maybe its a mother thing because she carried him, and breastfeeds, or maybe its just me.  In any case it took about two and a half months before I really started to see the real joy in fatherhood.  Don’t get me wrong there are some truly amazing times in the early days but there is a lot of bullshit too.  Once my son started to interact a little, make sounds, and move, everything changed for me.  He was suddenly this little guy with a personality.

I, ironically, used to think that I had a pretty full, even busy life.  I was an idiot.  Now I have a child.  I'm still an idiot, but at least I have learned the true meaning of "busy".  
...And now I get to pass on all of my idiot wisdom on to my son.

*I have compared a new born to a meteorite because they are obviously exactly the same:

What do I do with it?
Is it safe to pick up?
Is it supposed to make that smell/sound?
...and you can't send it back to where it came from.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Torches and Pitch-Forks

Monkey 14 sent this to the province newspaper today if I get a reply I will post it.


Today I read the article "Tolling More Bridges Splits Mayors" in the Province newspaper.  The tittle is pretty self explanatory, and to me it read as more of the same blah, blah blah. Politicians arguing over our transportation infrastructure.  This time it was about funding bridges by taxing/tolling the little guy.  Similar articles in the past have been focused on taxing the little guy to fund transit/skytrain.  

I, for years now, have been wondering why we don't sell or lease the naming rights of government and city owned transportation landmarks.  This seems to me like an absolute no-brainer solution.  I really have no idea how much money this would potentially generate but I'm certain it would be substantial.

The precedent has already been set in different capacities around the city.  
-Rogers Arena, General Motors Place
-Paramount theatre is now Scotia Bank theatre

We could start by leasing the names to our bridges to the highest bidder.  If the names were leased long term, 10 or 25 year contracts, the naming shuffle would not be very disruptive. The city could do the same for many other locations too.  The next natural step would be the individual skytrain stations.
The best part of course is that it doesn't cost the public anything.  Lower mainland residents can rest soundly knowing that our politicians are working hard to keep taxes low as possible. We can all bring our receipts back to Home Depot to return the torches and pitch forks, and get back to spending our hard earned money on overpriced gas. 

There may be a perfectly good reason nobody has pursued this strategy to raise money but I for one would love to know that reason.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wearable Fitness Devices Part 2: Fitbit One, quick review


Ok.  So when I went back to the store to return my Jawbone Up, I decided to try again.  This time I walked away with the Fitbit One.
Pros
-very small, worn on your belt or pocket.  I really liked this compared to wearing it on my wrist
-least expensive of all the competition
-Bluetooth 4.0, completely wireless, just plug it in to charge once a week
-Tracks steps as well as floors climbed

Cons
-The software is not great
-sleep tracking doesn't seem very accurate at all
-sleep tracking requires a separate wristband (included)

Conclusion
I ended up keeping the Fitbit One.  I like the product but ultimately this technology has a long way to go.  Future generations of the product could be a lot better.  I find it useful, and motivating, but most people could live without it.  Because the sleep tracking is inaccurate and the wristband is annoying, I have stopped using the sleep tracking feature entirely.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wearable fitness devices Part 1: Jawbone Up quick review


As I have promised, I have been testing some fitness gadgets.  I did some research on the various wristbands, and clips that are available to track daily activity level.  Although there are quite a few to choose from I only actually tried a couple. I am very interested in tracking my sleep patterns because I am a terrible sleeper, and I never get a good restful sleep.  Because of this constraint, my choices were immediately reduced to just a few options.
I'm not going to go into too much detail with this review.  I'm just going to offer my opinions and experiences.

Pros
-looks less ridiculous than much of the competition
-the software was pretty good
-food tracking was easy

Cons
-sleep tracking wasn't very accurate
-had to plug it into my phone each time to sync it. 
-the end cap came off too easily

Conclusion
I took the Jawbone Up back to the store after only a few days.  Plugging it in all the time was annoying and a deal breaker.  I have an elaborate, waterproof case on my phone and I had to take it off each time to plug in the wristband. Jawbone has built its company on the Bluetooth technology.  Why this device doesn't have Bluetooth is a mystery.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

...Wait, I thought that you said "Grand Condo"!


I have foolishly signed myself up for the GranFondo Whistler.  It is remarkable the things that a grown man will agree to after having a few beers.  

For those of you who do not know what the GranFondo is: 
It is an organized bike ride from downtown Vancouver to Whistler.  It is 122km, pretty much uphill the whole way.

"Why is it foolish?" You ask?  That is a great question.  You see, not only do I not cycle regularly, but I literally paid $5 for my bike at a yard sale, and it is currently rusting away in the garage.  In fact I don't do any extracurricular sports regularly.  The point is, this endeavor is way over my head, and I am ill-prepared.

Needless to say I need to train and I will require all the help that I can get.  I am going to use this opportunity to buy some fitness related gadgets.  Over the next few weeks/months I'll post some reviews of what I find.