Future trends

RIP, Gene Crick

A giant of the community broadband movement passed away a few weeks ago of a heart attack at his home in Texas.

Gene was a dear friend and I am now very glad that I was able to have dinner with him this past April at the Broadband Communities conference in Austin.

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5G has limitations

This Ars Technica article is unintentionally funny if you have been following the 5G hype. Verizon is installing 5G systems in thirteen NFL football stadiums, but the distance limitations of 5G means in these Verizon installations, you won't have 5G service in some parts of the stadium.

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Finally, a home assistant that protects privacy

Someone has finally identified the market opportunity to sell a home assistant that protects your privacy. Devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home are sending everything that happens in your home to the Amazon or Google mothership: what music you listen to, what you are talking about, what programs you watch, what you buy....everything. Apple's HomePod also sends everything to Apple for processing, but Apple has a much stronger commitment to protecting customer privacy than Amazon and Google (the latter two don't really promise any privacy protection).

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SportClips and the loss of privacy

SportClips has decided that it does not really want to cut your hair unless you give them your full name, your email address, your phone number, and your birthdate.

For a haircut.

Some months ago, they instituted an online scheduling system so that you can schedule your haircut. And of course, there's an app for that.

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Fragility of the iGen

The "iGen" is defined as those people born after 1995, which means they are the first generation to have grown up with the Internet widely available. By their teens, iGen kids had access to smartphones, and the results have been sobering.

Depression among young people has increased 60% in five years, and self harm has increased sharply among young women.

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Alexa, please open the door

More than twenty years ago, as the Internet became more common, some prognosticators began talking about the "smart house," where lots of household devices would be interconnected and make our lives one of ease.

At that time, I wrote a somewhat tongue in cheek article for a professional newsletter about a "smart house" gone wild, somewhat in the fashion of the Hall 9000 problem in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Amazon and remote work driving Millenials to the Rust Belt

This is one of the most interesting articles I have read in a long time.

Millenials are moving to smaller "Rust Belt" towns and small cities to escape the high cost of living in the larger metro areas. Heavy student debt loads, combined with skyrocketing rents and home costs, are part of the appeal to live in a place where housing is affordable.

Neighborhoods are business districts

Here is confirmation of what I have been saying for twenty years: Neighborhoods have become business districts.

This article cites a study showing that more workers telecommute than take public transportation (e.g. buses, subways) to work.

This is why fiber to the home is so important: it is an economic development imperative. Home-based workers and home-based businesses need affordably priced, business class Internet services.

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The death of privacy

I have been writing about the dire threats to privacy for many years, and the recent disclosures about the extent of Facebook privacy abuses is, perhaps, finally raising more awareness that Facebook is not actually "free" in the sense that Facebook users don't pay a price. Facebook users pay with their personal information, not only when they register for an account, but every time they post anything.

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The emerging Space Economy

It's been a long time since I wrote anything about the Space Economy. I was, perhaps, overly optimistic about the timing, but lately all the signs are that the private sector now has sufficiently mature payload to space technology to completely change the nature of space research and business.

Death of TV: Part LXXVIII: More churn in the TV space

YouTube (part of Google) has launched a streaming TV service, making the whole video on demand space an even more confusing array of services and options, which include Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Roku, offerings directly from some of the alphabet networks, and many others. But competition is a wonderful thing.

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The tragic state of the telecom industry

This article has a lot of inside baseball and makes for dense reading, but the bottom line is that telecom industry has learned nothing in the past twenty years.

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The Xerox nightmare

Design Nine has a tiny service contract for an old Xerox printer. I had a billing question about a late fee that was assessed for the first time in more than twelve years. I wasted more than forty minutes on the phone with various Xerox reps, none of whom were helpful. Of the forty minutes on the phone, I spent about twenty-five minutes on hold, and I had to call three different numbers and had to talk to four different people.

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Apple's Augmented Reality software very near

Apple announced the availability of its new augmented reality software for the iPhone and iPad at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference. The software kit enables third party app developers to place computer-generated information over real-time images. For example, map information could be superimposed over a live camera feed on an iPhone pointed out the front of a vehicle.

Here's why bricks and mortar retail is shrinking

I needed a halogen bulb for an under-cabinet light in the kitchen. I spent more than an hour traveling to three different stores, including two big box home improvement stores, and never did find the bulb. I did notice that similar bulbs were selling for about eight dollars.

Once I got home, I looked on Amazon. I found the bulb I needed, in a four pack for twelve dollars, or about $3/bulb instead of eight. I have an Amazon Prime subscription, so the bulbs will be delivered to my front door in two days.

Work from home continues to increase

In our work, we are seeing steadily rising numbers of people trying to work from home part or full time. In both the public and private sector, many businesses and agencies now routinely allow employees to work from home one or two days per week, which can have a huge impact on transportation spending. If most commuters stayed home to work just one day a week, you are looking at taking 15% or more of cars off the road, reducing road wear/maintenance, reducing traffic congestion, and shortening commutes.

The day the InnerTubes jumpted the shark

This weekend, while I was busy wasting time watching a Youtube video, there was an ad for a WiFi-enabled slow cooker.

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Technology is making us stupid: Part II--We don't know how to use the phone

I've written about this before, but had two recent instances where someone needed something from me on short notice (i.e. within a couple of hours) and emailed me instead of picking up the phone. In both cases, they were confused and disoriented when I explained that I had been in meetings and do not check my email in meetings.

If they had called and left a voice mail (or spoken with our receptionist), I would have been able to get them what they needed.

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Facial recognition: The end of privacy?

Facial recognition software is now in wide use by groups as disparate as Facebook, local police departments, Homeland Security, and the NSA. What it means is that whenever you post a picture of you, family, or friends anywhere online, someone can easily identify every single person in the picture, and very likely determine from the caption or comments where you have been and what you are doing.

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Welcome your robot overlords

On the heels of accidents caused by self-driving cars, there is a report of a "security robot" accidentally running over a small child at a California shopping mall.

The 300 pound, five foot tall robot bumped into the child, who fell down, and the robot ran over the child's foot. The child was not seriously injured.

We are going to see a lot more of this, as "robots" of all kinds are rushed to market with poorly tested software.

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