The State of the Internet – 2016

Self proclaimed futurist tweets an obfuscated link to an ad-encrusted pull quote that links to an article… behind a paywall.

For some the internet has moved from a means to share information and ideas to one that exists solely to generate clicks that have zero information value (well, except to them – ‘ad impressions’ and all that). And, no, I don’t want to sign up for you email-harvesting ‘newsletter’ that you never publish but benefit by selling on my contact information.

Corporatization of the Consumer Space

Much has been written in the last decade about the ‘Consumerization of Corporate’ IT with the primary example being corporate users wanting to use their smartphones and tablets from home in a corporate ecosystem.

I would argue that the inverse of that trend has started in the last few years. That is concerns that were once firmly in the corporate space are starting to bleed into the consumer space. These include:

  • a focus on security for personal devices with more emphasis on firewalls, encryption, SSL, password strength and even two-factor authentication.
  • a growing interest and need for analytic and visualization tools for the growing amount of data from wearables and other in-home devices. Currently this is served by one off tools from each vendor with more platforms emerging that are corporate-style integration platforms that take in data from disparate systems and provide a more unified ‘dashboard’ view to consumers.
  • additional emphasis on in-home automation and monitoring control systems for everything from thermostats, lighting, locks, motion sensors, flow sensors. Previously, this was the realm of building security groups and manufacturing plants. Automation and monitoring is also driving the previously mention areas of security and analysis.

IoT and Auto-Replenishment – A Good Thing?

I guess I am taking a little more cautious/skeptical stance when it comes to the auto-replenishment feature touted by many IoT pundits and vendors. If you aren’t familiar, this would allow a device to determine that you were out of or running low on a given consumable (be it a food item, dish soap or toilet paper) and then order more of it on your behalf.

Here is the problem: the vendor and the device don’t have your best interests at heart and might tend to exaggerate the current state of consumable and (maybe) tend to order more of it more frequently that you might actually need (or want). For example, if you have ever owned an inkjet or laser printer you have probably experienced this already – persistent warnings/notifications to replace a toner or ink cartridge when, in reality, the useful life of the item is much, much longer that you are being led to believe. Heck, I have a laser printer that has been telling be for 13 months that I need to replace the toner. In that time my family and I have printed hundreds of additional pages with this ’empty’ toner cartridge.

Consider also the existing confusion over the meaning of ‘sell by’ and ‘best by’ designations on other consumables (most notably food). What if vendors add a ‘replenish by’ or ‘order by’ date into the mix? Not a great situation for consumers, especially if they have delegated this to an networked device in the name of ‘convenience’.

Canary is an engineering and support failure

deadCanary
Canary.is promote their product as an alternative to a real home security system. Nothing could be further from the reality. Here is the simple truth:

  • if the power goes out, you will get robbed (no battery backup, probably wouldn’t make a difference even if it did, because)
  • if your internet connection goes out, you will get robbed (more on this later)
  • if your internet upload connection experiences any slowness, you will get robbed
  • NONE of these things is true with a real home security system.

    You must understand that this is basically just a dumb camera unit that requires an internet connection to do anything. There is no local storage or functionality in the unit itself which means if your internet connection is out or slow, the Canary is absolutely useless. As a consequence, it is constantly trying to upload video for analysis (motion detection) — it can do noting on its own. Make sure you set it to ‘privacy’ mode when you are home to cut down on it hammering your wifi.

    I had one unit and it sort of worked, I added a second one and BOTH of them stopped working. The more units you add, the more of your upload bandwidth they suck up (and suck they do).

    Sadly, tech support is basically useless. At some point they will have you run a test on speedtest.net and if you EVER tell them you experienced an upload speed of less than 1Mbps, then, game over, that is THE problem and apparently the end of their sorry support script. It seems their ‘engineers’ are unfamiliar with data compression, efficient data streaming and error handling algorithms, etc — if you are .01 under 1Mbps (my case), then you are screwed, they won’t support their product (or allow you to return it because it says 1Mbps on the web site). It doesn’t matter if you can facetime or run google hangouts without any glitching, ‘the problem’ is your bandwidth, not their dubious implementation.

    Seriously, save your money and/or look for alternatives. This canary is dead in the coal mine.

    Creating a shopping list: Evernote vs Google Keep

    evernote-v-google-keep
    Evernote experience:

    1) create list in desktop app
    2) attempt to share it with my wife; sorry, have to upgrade to paid version for this
    3) finally share with wife, she attempts to edit shared list; sorry, she has to upgrade to paid version (screw that)
    4) remember a few more items on the go, add to list via mobile app
    5) attempt to sync from mobile; get loads of errors – sync fails
    6) only way to fix sync error is to copy note contents, delete note an paste contents into a new note
    7) repeat from step 2 or just give up

    Google Keep experience:
    1) create list on tablet using Keep app
    2) share with wife; no problem – she has access to it within seconds
    3) she needs to add items to the list – no problem; she adds them and they automatically sync with me
    4) edit list on mobile – no problem; list automatically syncs
    5) both of us run Keep app in grocery store, ticking off items from the list; no problem – list syncs automatically
    6) marvel at the superior user experience from Google Keep
    7) BONUS: I can set a reminder on the list that is a location; Google Now notifies me when I am near the store.

    Evernote just keeps getting worse and worse. About the only thing that keeps me using it is the web clip functionality in the browser. Come on Keep, add that and I can leave Evernote behind.

    Skitch – Oh The Irony

    Skitch Stability Error
    “Stability enhancements” result in (wait for it) “an error during installation”