Saturday, February 26, 2011

iPad 2: What you can’t have

Since late 2010 rumours have been abuzz about what to expect and not to expect about the upcoming iPad 2. These rumours fall in two categories: one is a wish-list type prediction. These say, because I’ll like to see it, then I believe it’s coming. The other comes from a handful of mainstream tech journalists who claiming special knowledge from “people close to the matter”. I sit here and read them all and in some of them I go, “nah! that’s not going to happen”. And here is why.


This is the most “nah!” of the iPad 2 predictions I see online. If you know anything about Steve Job’s Apple, you’ll know that IOS will never support Flash unless those 6 issues raised in Steve Jobs paper, “Thoughts on Flash” are addressed by Adobe. And you and I know that this has not happened yet, if ever they would. So, you can be sure that Flash will not come on iOS devices anytime soon. Many web sites have been re-writing to accommodate non-flash devices and most browser manufactures (even IE) are gunning to make HTML5 more mainstream that it used to be. There would be no reason for Apple to return to Flash right now and  potentially lose the edge on that unbelievable 10-12 hour battery life. That brings me to the next group of predictions.

battery life

Just so you know, the one most unsung yet most significant success story of the iPad is the battery life. It works because the battery lasts all day. It won’t be such a great travel companion if the battery dies on you at the first airport. You won’t have carried it everywhere you were going if you needed to carry charger cables with you. There are a few key things Apple did not spare resources for during the design decision for iPad. One of them is battery life. They purchased an entire chip company and used their processor because it gives all that power and uses less battery than what the other chip makers could squeeze in. So, if you want iPad 2 to sport anything, just ask yourself: will that hurt battery life? If the answer is yes, you are not going to get it. From what Jobs said on “Thoughts on Flash”, Flash would therefore be a “Nah!”. So would some of the things people are speculating on.

lower price

Price is a big deal! So big a deal that two major contenders (HP Slate and Microsoft Courier) that started this race with iPad did not make the finish line the way iPad did and many person think that price had lots to do with it. They could not bring it in at a close-enough price and battery life. Historically, Apple’s version x+1 of any iOS device would always either see a price cut or feature bump for the same price or both. So, price is looking really good. I am putting my money on feature bump. That is, Apple is more likely to give you a larger storage space, more memory and more speed for the same price than to lower the price altogether. The main argument against lowering price is that there is no serious price contender right now and sales are amazing at the current price point.

PC-type File System

This is a tough one for me because I really want the feature for myself. But the nagging voice of reason in my head is saying something else: Apple is very consistent with design philosophies. Once something does not match the design philosophy, it doesn’t make the cut. iOS devices are designed to be non-geeky. They are designed not as computer interfaces but as consumer electronics.  Apple does not want iOS devices to look so ‘computery’ with file name and extension and file association and stuff like that. That’s the drawback for a generic file system-type interface. I am not saying the feature will not happen. I am saying that it will only happen after Apple figures out a way to make you not have to know a file name to access the space.

One possible way this could happen is to make the file system into a service that supports both standard MIME types and unique app-registerable types. The idea is that when Apple opens the file system for you, they don’t want you to identify the item by file name. They want you to see a nice view of page 1, a nice photo, an album cover or video frame. That’s what is holding back the file system and if it’s coming, it’s coming because they have figured this out. And of course, if it comes, Safari will also support the browse button and you can interact with your local or LAN network file system from web sites.

SD Card

This is not going to happen. Take a look at the iPods, from v1 to v-now; the iPhone, from v1 to v-now; and the iPad. Take a look at any of those vis a vis their competition. You’d notice that while their competition believed that you have to attach some extended memory card slot to help you expand what these devices did, Apple cannot stand people poking flat plastic devices into their computers. Funny but that’s true. They’d rather devise a file format that is so compact that you never use up all your 64GB of flash drive than to give you a slot that no one ever really uses.

USB, etc

There are three things counting against this one: Battery power concerns, design philosophy (Apple wants all iOS devices to speak to the world of peripherals through the 30-pin interface. Period). More fundamentally, Apple doesn’t really like peripheral interfaces that look so mechanical and techy and ugly. They don’t want their devices look like you could take screw-drivers to them. They don’t like people poking things into their personal devices, if they can help it. First, they spear-headed making the floppy drive smaller then got rid of it. Then, they spear-headed getting rid of the parallel port. Then, they spearheaded replacing the serial port with USB and then got rid of it. They never liked the CD tray and never had one. They had a narrow slit slot … and that’s even only on their full-scale computers. You are not likely to get any of these on the iOS devices.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Becoming a responsible member of society

I was guest speaker at the inaugural event of the Nigerian Students Association of the University of Alberta. Here is the text of the speech..

Chairman, Dr Temi Sonuga
Fellow Guest Speakers: Drs Raymond Anana & Ali Ahmed-Hameed
President and Exco, NSA-UofA
Honorable members NSA-UofA
Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for inviting me. I know I am in the midst of academics but permit me to take a pragmatic and perhaps practical populist slant to this subject.


Becoming a responsible member of society.
Responsibility is based on an expectation that is created by a social contract.
Social contracts have key tent posts. They are founded in law, in tradition, in the golden rule and in common sense.

Responsibility happens at the meeting point of ability, willingness and availability. Ability is acquired through diligent learning. Humans are designed to learn. Willingness is kindled most easily through vision sharing and impartation. Availability through appropriate prioritizing.
When someone is guaranteed an expected outcome because he/she left the matter in your hands, then, you are being responsible.


Becoming a responsible member of society.
A member is a part of a whole. You need the right member mentality to be the right kind of member. The most accurate member mentality is depicted in the following words from a very popular book:
And if the ear says, "I am not part of the body because I am not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body?If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, "I don't need you." The head can't say to the feet, "I don't need you."

A member is an indispensable part of the whole. A member does not have to look like or have the same abilities as the other members. The whole misses something when the member is missing. When you walk out there on the street, or in your classroom or in your workplace, you will not look, act or be identically endowed as the other persons around you. But you are a key part of the whole. This society, without you is no longer this society. You can have all the abilities, willingness and availability but not know that you are qualified to belong. You are a first class member of society.

People and situations will test this assertion. They will try to make you doubt or feel less of your worth. You are too young; Too dark, light; Too short; Too female, male. They only want to delegitimize you. Worse still, they want you to believe that. Once you do, the seed they sowed will bear fruit for generations. You owe yourself the responsibility to say, in the true indomitable Nigeria spirit by saying to yourself, "No mind them abeg" (meaning: Please, don't mind them). You have to believe that you have all you need for your moment. When you face that challenge, focus all you've got on that problem, not on your perception of inadequacy. Just seize the moment!


Becoming a responsible member of society.
Society can be as large and as extensive as your imagination can carry you but you can only influence one segment of society at a time, one microcosm at a time, one moment at a time. There are very few people that get to influence extremely large segments of society in a single moment. These are people like Adolf Hitler, George Bush, Bill Gates, and Billy Graham. For such ones, the whole world (the macrocosm) can get to become their microcosm. For the rest of us society is easier to grasp when decomposed into smaller microcosms of responsibility.

A guy sitting on a moving bus with a near-term pregnant stranger standing beside him with only a bus pole to cling onto is in his microcosm of responsibility.
So is a tired young woman going home from a late shift in an understaffed hospital only to see a dying patient lying in his/her vomit on the corridor.
So is a driver driving around the neighbourhood of a school.
So is a man in his home with wife and children needing to be loved, protected, cherished and respected. Even your home is a microcosm of society!
It's difficult to see our home as a slice of society and the fact that we dress up different before leaving the home underscores that difficulty. Your home is a microcosm of society. Show me a man or woman whose home is in a mess, who sees no value in considering the opinion of his children or spouse, and I will show you a disrespectful person in the wider world, an impatient, insecure bully that will consider your opinion as a threat and reacts to it with anger. The social contract has to be fulfilled at home as well.

The microcosm of one

You are also responsibility to the microcosm of ONE. Yourself. You need to minister to yourself. You need to take time to be clean, dress right, speak right, teach yourself some grooming, don't only smile into the mirror to see your pretty face. Also take a look at the mirror to see what we see when you are mad. One important responsibility to he microcosm of one is the duty to defend your own interests.
It is ok to have your own interests and it's ok to protect them even in the face of conflicting communal interests. It's ok for both of them to be in conflict. You may wonder: how can I be responsible to the wider society when I am pursuing self-interest? Is that even possible? The answer is yes. You just have to follow the rules. Actually, there is only one rule: you have to declare your self-interest or you should not make it out as pursuing communal interests.
I will give you a hypothetical but accurate example:
Suppose that Dave Fashola is a greenhorn newbie to Edmonton. He was being prepped by this unpopular leader as his successor and was even given a taste of that level of leadership. The promise was that power will change over in March/April 2011 and he will become the leader. If you try to throw this leader out, I can understand why Dave Fashola would be livid with rage.

The person behind this fictitious character is free to protect his self-interest but is not allowed to claim to be doing it in the interest of the greater good of the people. He has no right to delegitimize people’s interests because it ran contrary to his hidden agendas. He has no right to drag an entire community's name to the mud because he is frustrated. He is not a responsible memberr of society if they says that he is acting out of love for the larger community.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear students,you may not be able to influence the entire world with one single action. But you can influence your microcosm. And one microcosm at a time, you will touch your entire macrocosm of responsibility. It takes work, it takes preparation. It takes zeal. It takes learning. All in all, you have to first agree that you are not an outcast, you are not second-class, and you are a member of the whole. You don’t have to look like the next guy. You are qualified to belong.

Long live NSA - UofA, Long live Nigeria and Canada.
Long live you, yourself.

Thank you.