Thinking about buying an Apple Watch – Listen to Walt and Nilay first

apple-watch-3Two leading personal technology journalists parse the Apple Watch into bite size morsels

Thinking of buying an Apple Watch or other smartwatch – listen to this regular podcast on personal technology that should be on your podcast list. RE/Codes Walt Mossberg and the Verge’s Nilay Patel’s opinion about the future of smartwatches is insightful and complete. This might be the best Ctrl-Walt-Delete podcast so far. I’ll merge Walt and Nilay (which is impossible because Walt is ever the deliberately accurate statesman and Nilay has late actor Peter Ustinov’s suspicious incredulity and subtle sense of humor.) 

Their consensus opinion smart – watches are great but not finished yet. Most of Walt’s and Nilay’s opinions were sourced reviewing the Apple Watch.

Awkward gestures needed to turn on the screen make watches bad at telling time.

Notifications are good and bad; good if users like Walt filter their apps but Nilay thinks watches need an intelligent agent to filter notifications.In my opinion Google’s machine learning give it an advantage to create this intelligent agent.

Fitness tracking is sort of good, but not really accurate if you are a pro athlete. The watch will tell you if you are a couch potato.It reminds sedentary people like Walt to burn more calories and move around. I have to insert my disappointment with watch designers who have not chosen from the really great sensors that would provide more useful metabolic information. It strikes me that the watch designers don’t dare to include more expensive, more accurate and more interesting sensors.

Authentication is a real opportunity. Apple Pay works conveniently but QR codes for boarding passes and the like can be awkward because the reader terminals aren’t designed for wrist worn screens. NIlay points that something like an EKG authentication would be necessary to tie the wearer to his or her identity. NYMI introduced at the MIT Technology Review’s Emtech conference a couple years ago can accurate authentica a person’s identity. NYMI uses EKG heartbeat readings that are claimed to be as accurate a biometric identifier as the fingerprint. Information about NYMI has been public for two years and EKG authentication hasn’t been added to any watches yet makes my point that designers aren’t stretching to find useful new sensors.

Verdict, buy a smartwatch with eyes open after listening and put Walt and Nilay on your drive time or gym podcast RSS list.

Follow everything I read and write on twitter @stevep2007

Trump on US manufacturing jobs: wrong and right at the same time


Trump’s blustering about bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US brought scorn, but perhaps not everywhere

Trump wants Apple to bring manufacturing jobs back to America. It sounds flat to American ears. But elsewhere “das hört sich gut an,” loosely translated from German “that rings true.”

Investment banking doesn’t create value it just moves it from one group to another. Transformation creates value; converting ore into metal, sand into silicon or parts into a car creates value. Triple investment banking employment, the net gain is null. Hence manufacturing is a vital component of a modern economy.

American business and politicians read Tom Friedman’s book “the World is Flat” and decided that the erosion of high value manufacturing jobs was inevitable. Germany read the same book and concluded that following Friedman would ruin their economy based on high value manufacturing jobs and ignored it.

A total of 3.2 million — one in six U.S. factory jobs — have disappeared since the start of 2000 replaced by lower value and lower paying service jobs.

Just look at every city in New England with a few exceptions — they are post industrial decaying urban nightmares. The only city transformed from an industrial economy to a post industrial economy is Boston blessed with the wealth of MIT, Harvard and other universities.

I’m not defending Trump, but rather illuminating the panglossian view that there is something in the future that will replace the value of manufacturing jobs. Take a trip to Naugatuck, Springfield, Lowell, Lawrence, Brockton, Fall River…Detroit, cities that wait patiently for an economic force to raise them from post-industrial depression.

Find everything Steven Max Patterson published on Twitter @stevep2007

SOPA and PIPA: Political Miscalculation

Congress’s brinksmanship with new media.

At lunchtime today I stopped by the San Francisco Civic center to listen to some talented people speak out against SOPA and PIPA. Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, legend venture investor Ron Conway, Craig’s lists founder Craig Newmark and MC Hammer all took the microphone and condemned the legislation for its violations of law, common sense and economic good.

 It is hard to determine if congress is that easily influenced with campaign contributions from the old media music and movie industries or are they out of touch with the internet’s transformation of the world during the last 20 years. Did they miss the memo on the Arab Spring in which new media played a significant role in toppling three governments. Clearly they have miscalculated in choosing sides.

Congress has aligned with old media in an attempt to turn back time to $14 CDs and daily late charges at Blockbuster. Old media has chosen to lobby for protective legislation rather than take advantage of the internet’s capabilities through innovation.

Even if consideration is not given to the opponent’s charges that SOPA and PIPA will violate freedom of speech and due process, you have to question the wisdom of congress to pick a fight with the people that build and operate the internet. The people that know how to attract billions of daily internet views like Craig Newmark and Reddit cofounder Aaron Swartz and many others who have been energized into activism to oppose congress’s threat to their beliefs and livelihood.

Even if new media loses and congress passes SOPA and PIPA, there will be an army of well educated, competent and economically advantaged new media internet opposition that will boil them in an ocean of electrons come the next election.

Matt Bai detailed and predicted the political influence of new media in 2007 in his book “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics” and predicted Obama’s presidential success in part due to the creativity of Blue State Digital‘s harnessing of the influence of new media and the internet to help him. “The Argument” should be on every congressman’s night table though it might keep them awake for fear of their reelection.