Thursday, April 19, 2012

Apple, Finger Pointing and the Ghost of Steve Jobs

On the right attention Apple should now give to the emergent stylus pen ecosystem

Some time ago, and not too long ago, the world woke up to the voice of Steve Jobs, announcing the release of this new phone he called the iPhone. It is a sheet of glass with an aluminum backing. The glass has this instant-on video of gorgeous colours and real-life icons. It makes phone calls, surfs the internet and sends messages in a way that other phones could not up till that time. During the demo, Steve even searched the Maps app for "pizza" joints and mock ordered pizza from one of the search results, a real-life pizza joint near him. It was a WOW moment at the time. The cloud roared with a thunderous applause and ever since then, the iPhone marched on to become the most commonly used used smartphone in the world because of WOW features like that, aesthetics, and ease of use and most importantly but most intangible, the design philosophy. I was there listening to the live stream. At this point, I has an HP-made smartphone (which required a stylus pen to work it really well). So, when I heard Steve Jobs say something to the effect that anyone designing one of these devices and makes it require a pointing device other than the finger, then, that device is not designed correctly. And so was born one of iPhone's design philosophies: "Touch is all you should need". I was hoping this would work out as promised. I didn't want to keep buying replacement pointing devices (they were sold in sets of 3 then, as a testimony that you'd probably lose them and often too). I bought my first iPhone (1st gen) before it was officially released for Canada. So I had to get the unlocked AT&T phone from eBay and used it on my Fido service without Fido's approval. And truly, you didn't need a stylus pen for the iPhone. The calls were clear, Internet pages were true browser pages (I don't expect you to remember what mobile device browsers looked like then) and text messaging was really smooth, not to mention the fully integrated iPod music. You only needed your finger to do all those. No stylus, just touch. Steve Jobs was right. Suddenly, it began to look silly for anyone to poke his phone with anything other than the finger.

Pointing and Drawing

A few year later, the iPad was released. Shortly after which a number of graphing apps were released for it. It didn't take long for everyone to see that the finger was too stubby for drawing all the lovely art, including handwriting that these apps required. Then, an ecosystem of stylus pens that could write on the capacitive iPad screen began to emerge. Consequently, it could write on the capacitive iPhone and iPod touch screen but that was more a by-product of those screens also being capacitive rather than a clear use case for these other devices (never mind the extra-long nails and super-cold fingers). My point is that the advent of the iPad made it more and more necessary to draw than it was on the iPhone, making it more and more necessary to have a drawing device for this device. So was born a separation between pointing devices and drawing devices.

Apple Store and the Apple Philosophy

Let me put it as simply as possible: Every Apple product has a philosophy around it which defines the ways in which Apple does NOT want you to use the product. Apple Stores do NOT carry any product that Apple believes to be contrary to that philosophy. Here is a simple example: Apple will not approve an app or a device that plugs into the iPad and use the battery in such a way that you don't get 10 hours of life. Must require no daytime charging is one of the design philosophies for the iPad. Similarly, for all 'iTouch' devices (iPad, iPhone, iPodTouch), the design philosophy is that touch is enough. That is why in spite of all these stylus pens out there, there is none of it in an Apple Store.

What would Steve Do?

Steve had foresight. Apple has foresight. They would be the first to admit, nevertheless, that they can't imagine all the good uses to which their product would be put to and the creativity that their product would unleash. If Steve would think this through, he would realize that a pointing device is not quite the same thing as a drawing device. The iPad stylus pens fill a gap that the finger cannot. Just take a look at some of the great art that is possible using these styluses! The problem is that Steve can't. He is dead. And at Apple I am sure that Steve's ghost is hovering over every one (in their imagination) watching to see who would be the first to reverse those strongly held positions that Steve had. No one wants to be finger-pointed about finger pointing. Steve warned before he died, "I don't want you to run Apple by constantly asking, "What would Steve do?"". He was really a wise man. He knew that situations would arise that would cause him to change his mind on long-held positions. He sure would have once thought that MobileMe was cool. Later he agreed that it sucked! If he dies after saying that it was cool, it would be a shame to hang onto MobileMe just because Steve said it was cool, even though harsh realities indicate a need to rethink. I do believe that Steve would have thought it through. He would rightly have maintained that a pointer stick whose role is just to poke at poorly resolved pixels on the screen diminishes the innovative genius of multi-touch. But Steve would realize that this high-pixel iPad canvas is screaming for a great drawing pen to drain out the creative artistry pulsating in the fingers of the iPad user, desperately beckoning some fine, smoothly gliding, nimble capacitive pen tips to help it flow forth.

What should Apple be doing?

Apple should stop ignoring the stylus pen ecosystem. Apple should support it, help it, shape it and even compete with it. Apple should make a stylus pen out of a transparent thin tip that will totally simulate the real pen and have unbeatable feel and durability. Apple has the muscle to research into that kind of material. In the short run, Apple should open the doors of Apple Stores to let in a few of the highest quality stylus pens. There is no shame in, sometimes, following the market. It is time to follow this one.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Keynote Speech at Edmonton Police ACLC Outreach



THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2012, 7:00 P.M.


His Worship, Mayor Stephen Mandel,

Chief of Police, Rod Kneckt,

Ag. Deputy Chief and ACLC Co-Chair, Brad Ward,

Esteemed Leaders of the African Community,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Good evening.

It is a rare privilege and honor for me to welcome you to this maiden African Community Outreach Meeting of the Edmonton Police Service, hosted by ACLC (African Community Liaison Committee).

The ACLC is a committee of representatives from both African and EPS communities. Our mandate on the committee is to work together with one another and with The Chief and EPS to improve mutual understand, co-operation and synergistic relationships. To most intents and purposes, ACLC seeks to form a bridge through which you, as a member of the African community, can more easily access the EPS as a government service to you; and you as a member of the EPS community, ACLC should bring you better access to the unique values, skill set, experience and expertise that members of the African community bring to the Edmonton multicultural table; for among other things, better community policing.

With me on this noble ideal is a handful of hard-working men and women drawn from various sub-regions of the African continent and from the EPs.

[raise an ovation for ACLC members]

Ladies & Gentlemen,

We called you out tonight to:

create a platform for you to network with one another;

tell you what we are about and ask your advice as to how to work with and for you;

work with us to help us fine-tune our strategies.

To the African Community leaders here present, I say: This is a historic moment. It is a solemn responsibility to contribute to a discourse that can usher in an Edmonton of tomorrow where your children and grand-children will look back at this moment and remember that it all began here. And that you, granddad/grandma, that you were here. And that you were one of those that made a difference; that helped to start a conversation that ushered in a better, safer Edmonton for everyone.They will be proud. Make them proud today.

To the EPS Community, I say: These African community leaders are here today because we told them that this is different. They know enough of some of those programs that governments implement simply because it looks good on paper without commensurate commitment to drive out abiding results [present company excluded]. We told them and they believed. These African community leaders are here because they believe. They believed us. They believe you. They believe that you are here to seriously learn something, to seriously share something and to seriously do something about what you learn today. Please, prove worthy of that faith.

And to both African and EPS communities, I say: Your time is precious.For you to invest it to be here, this must mean something to you. One approach that will bring us the greatest win is the attitude that we are not here to demand a perfect system; we are not here to sell or defend a perfect system; We are together in this. We are here for one another. This is our city. We are here to find the best way to achieve the same ideals.

And I believe that together, in an environment of mutual respect and empathy, we can either find the way or pave one.

Thank you and have a great deliberation.

iPad Review: after 48 hours

This review follows and compliments my first impressions which was published in the first hour of the new iPad's arrival.

The difference in screen resolution is stunning. A way to explain why some revivers on the Net do not see it so much is: if they upgraded from iPad 2 and hence are still using low resolution backgrounds; if they are viewing apps that are not yet upgraded to Retina, if they need glasses (not meant as a joke). It actually makes text so sharp and crispier to read, albeit thinner.

I did not notice performance changes to native apps and am not expecting any, since the iPad 2 was zippy enough for my needs. I, however, notice faster page loads with browsers on wifi.

Surely, my fingers could feel the bulk and weight differences. Some people are better at tactile discrimination than others, so others may have different experiences.

I'm a bit disappointed with the 1080p video output. It looks just like my iPad 2 used to for good HD 720p video. I haven't tested Bluetooth on a Bluetooth 4-compliant accessory nor 4G cellular data but I expect the later to come through as advertised.

Video and photo certainly look great. Not as good looking as iPhone 4S but way better than iPad 2. It may not be my choice camera but it's nice to know that the photo will be nice enough if and when it's taken with the iPad.

Overall, this is still a fantastic upgrade even from iPad 2.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My iPad 3 Predication

The iPad is an amazing device and is making waves all over the world. Regardless though, anyone who has tried to use it to do real work, I mean real productive work, would much the sooner begin to notice a limitation.

The limitation

The iPad's biggest short-coming (compared to the fully-fledged counterparts), the thing that hold it behind, the bridge it needs to cross to join the PC club is ... lack of a real tactile keyboard, something that you can actually rest your fingers on and type. This is the reason why many most people unfairly call the iPad a media consuming device (as against media producing devices).

The Non-solutions

Much as you can tote along a bluetooth keyboard or get some of the bluetooth solutions like the Kensington's where a keyboard is part of the iPad cover system, the iPad philosophy forbids either of those solutions because of the addition to bulk and compromise on mobility. Meaning: Apple would never adopt those as a solution to that problem.

The Solution

So, here's how I believe Apple is solving that problem, and they are solving it in the next release: Apple will transform the SmartCover into a tactile device. There, simple and short! The iPad will come with some thin, light detachable device that will, in addition to serving as a cover and stand, will have tactile key functionality.

The Future

In the future, beyond the next release, Apple will get rid of the cover keyboard and do a software solution such that your fingers can rest on the touch screen and not register a type until you negotiate a tap-lift, all managed in software.

How do I know, you ask? Let's just say ... I have a gift.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Igbo Youth, Balanced Youth

Being a keynote speech presented by Peter Obiefuna at the inaugural ICAE Youth Day banquet, Edmonton, Alberta, Saturday, August 20, 2011.


Chairperson, ICAE Youth Leadership, ICAE Youth, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for choosing me to speak at this awesome event. It gives me great pleasure to speak to you on the topic, “Igbo Youth, Balanced Youth” to honor our youth, and set the right note not just for today’s amazing event but, if you permit me, for the rest of your many days to come. Please join me to look in the direction of some youth in the room and say to them, “Igbo Youth, Balanced Youth”.


For this speech, I want to define balance in metaphor -- as a 3-legged stool. All the 3 legs are important for keeping the stool stable. Each of the 3 legs needs to grow to the right length for the stool to be balanced. If any of the legs is shorter than the others, the stool will be unbalanced. Also, if any of the legs starts growing too long and much faster than the others, the stool will also be unbalanced.
Now, a life of balance is a life that is driven by purpose and evaluated by purpose. The purpose of the stool is to provide a stable surface to hold something. One of the legs can say, “Look at me, I am so long and beautiful!” That may be true, but until all three legs are of the right length, the stool is not balanced. The stool does not provide a stable surface.
I propose that the challenge to balance being faced daily by the Igbo Youth in the face of a multitude of coexisting and sometimes conflicting norms, can be illustrated by the balance of the stool. As an illustration, if you are the stool, one of the legs you stand on may be your heritage Igbo culture, the other, your immersion Canadian culture and the third, your unique views and values. Our youth do indeed bring unique values to the culture table. We must recognize it, respect it, nurture it and allow it room to grow.


“Hey, that is not the way we do it.” How many times has someone said that to you before? I can tell from the puzzle or even frustration that accompanies that statement that you sometimes feel inadequate because you feel unequipped to understand omenala (Igbo custom). Worse still, the next day at work or school, you are also told the same things by people expecting you to equally follow the oyinbo (dominant western) culture.
I applaud you today as persons of balance because you have been able to transform and are still transforming yourselves into this complex blend of a personality that can dynamically integrate the omenala and oyinbo customs. Even though not immersed in Igbo land, you diligently accompany us your parents and guardians to these socio-cultural events. You passively imbibe, you gain self worth, you gain identity, you learn of your roots and without thinking it, you deeply come to terms with who you are, your culture, your customs, your values. Then you similarly imbibe the best of oyinbo when you go to school and work and play. Just as passively as you imbibe these cultures, you also integrate them and display the most fitting conducts from these cultures to each of your target audiences. You meet someone where they are interact with them the way they will understand while sprinkling in elements of the things that make you unique. You are today’s example of those who “to the Romans, become Roman to win them over.” You do this at work, you do this at school, you do this at community meetings, at home, on the bus and while just hanging out, liming, chilling, ‘chillaxing.’ Your personality is a blend of multiple cultures rolled into one. You provide expression that is a dynamic blend of all those cultures. You uphold the best of each and you determine when it is most appropriate to express which. Without thinking, you can even express a blend of cultures that is better than each of the subcultures you contain. You are better than a typical Igbo person in subtlety and western-style politeness, decorum and etiquette. You are better than any typical westerner in colorfulness, instant friendliness, warmth, community spiritedness, reverence for elders, responsibility to family, to list but a few. That makes you better than both of them, even better than us your parents and guardians. That makes you unique, that makes you special, that makes you more balanced that we could possibly be. That positions you better than us to take hold and contribute better to the future of both Canada and Nigeria because you contain in you, the right balance of all that is good in both cultures and so are better suited to become leaders of both. More particularly, you are better fit to lead Canada into a blossoming multicultural tomorrow.

Igbo Youth! Balanced Youth!!


This is a passionate call to our parents and community leaders: We can learn from our kids how to survive here. Their tongue is more flexible to dictional adaptation, their ears are more tonally adaptable. If you doubt this, listen to their accent; listen to some of the metal and brass music they actually enjoy. Those are the things we can see. The one we can’t see: their mind is very flexible, agile, pragmatic and goal oriented. You will never find out unless you let them express it. Give them room to grow. Empower them to learn to become leaders. You must stop the present attitude of “The Young Shall Grow Only When the Old Has Died.” Begin now to give room to your young people to make safe mistakes and to learn from them; to learn from doing and not from being told. Their ears are full with our tellings. We need to let them do. We need to back off a little. We stunt their growth by hand-holding them too much. We breastfeed our young adults when other cultures in the same country feed their own hard meat. How do we expect ours to compete in future that will be demarcated by those who got some practice and those who just passively followed Mummy and Daddy’s micromanaging and brainwashing? If we don’t trust these youth, let us start engaging them to discuss our concerns. If we trust them, let us show it by cutting off the apron strings, a few strings at a time. We owe them guidance not bottling up.

Igbo Youth! Balanced Youth!!


Dear Youth, because you are balanced, you must maintain balance. You must keep balancing. You must evaluate what people throw at you before accepting it. Because you are balanced, you don’t have so many excuses for failure like others do. You will just have to succeed. You have no excuse to wallow in depression or contemplate suicide. You have a dependable community backing you up. There are people to talk to. You are worth more than your disappointments. You are somebody. Because you are balanced, you will process peer pressure differently. In fact, you will be the ‘peer’ pressuring your friends to consider things from your perspective: A richer, more balance and cooler perspective. You will not do drugs, cigarettes or get drunk just to belong.
Lastly, because you are balanced, you accentuate the good parts of all the cultures you imbibe. You are greater than the sum of all the parts. You are better prepared than we are. You will achieve more, you will be more adaptable, more survivable and you will attain more than we the adults possibly can. You will march forward with that mindset and nothing can stop you. Not the place you are coming from, not the place you find yourself today, not the place you are headed. You are my hope for a better future for my people. You are my young heroes.

Thank you, God Bless you, and have a wonderful Youth Day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Pencil Maker to the Pencil

This write-up is inspired by a FaceBook message posted by Unical Chapel of Redemption on Facebook. It really inspired me and before I could post a comment, the page was either pulled from Facebook or something. So, I am posting both the original comment and my response here, hoping that it will bless someone like it blessed me.

Here is the original post:

The Pencil
A pencil maker told the pencil five important lessons just before putting it into the box:
1. Everything you do will leave a mark.
2. You can always correct the mistakes you make.
3. What is important is inside of you.
4. In life, you will undergo painful sharpenings which will only make you better.
5. To be the best pencil, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the 
hands that hold you.

And my comment follows:

I have a few more:
1. You can't make a good point until you are sharpened.
2. You can't depend on yesterday's sharpening. You have to keep returning for sharpening.If you work as hard as I expect, you'd need quite frequent sharpening. The Pencil that needs no sharpening never gets used.
3. You are made for a purpose. If you are HB, be content and trust my plan for you. Don't waste time trying to be 2B, 3B or any other xB. Make the best of what an HB pencil does and more importantly, make the best of my purposes for you. Your work will be reckoned according to what an HB should accomplish.
4. Someday, your length of days will run out and all you have left is your work.
5. I have provided you an eraser. But you actually have to use it. Some people call it redemption in the name of Jesus.
5. You don't have to scrawl aimlessly just so that eraser can abound. If you spend your life scrawling and erasing, at the end, you will be like a forgotten dream. Spend your short length of days to write things that endure.
6. Erasing your mistake is one thing. But restoring the length of graphite you lost in aimless scrawling is another. Be wise. SELAH!
7. Even after erasing your mistakes, some of the mistakes can leave a mark on the paper. Be careful because the consequence of your mistake can live on in the world you foray even after you are forgiven.
8. If you are used for a very horrible purpose... Like being used to stab people in the eye ..., you cannot erase some of the outcome of that. Then you could even be locked away and may be destroyed, never to be a useful pencil again.
9. Even when you mean well, and have all the great ideas you want to write down, don't scratch so hard or you will tear the very paper on which you want to leave your mark. Do not be so zealous as to destroy the very script you are making.
10. Have a nice life and a nice journey. See you on the day of reckoning. Your maker.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Daddy day camp

This was one nice evening out with the kids at the neighborhood play park. Fun stuff!