Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Even though this is an ad published late last year for the new MacBook Pro, the video encapsulates some of the most revolutionary ideas that have been developed by man.

Quite literally

Ideas push the world forward!”



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Soon after its publication, I read ‘A letter to our customers’ written by Apple CEO Tim Cook.  Since then, a flood of articles, posts and discussions have followed.  Why should any of us be interested?

Quite simply, the implications are far reaching and scary.

Triggered by the FBI’s need to access the content of the iPhone of one of the key San Bernardino killers, a fight has erupted between Apple and the FBI.  A court order activating a law written in 1789 is poised to force Apple to assist it’s investigations.

For most of us, we have, in a reasonably short time, become complacent about the enormous wealth of data innocuously stored on our smartphones.   Tim Cook reminds us

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

If you’ve ever misplaced your smartphone or worse lost it, you’ll be very familiar with the overwhelming physical and emotional anguish which engulfs and grips you. Even though most of us don’t understand how, we know that our data is protected and safe.  Data is encrypted.

The right to privacy, the encryption of data on our smartphones is the root of Apple’s concern and is the reason for going public with this open letter.

In short, the US Government is demanding that Apple create a backdoor to the iPhone by creating a new version of the iPhone operating system that circumvents several important security features.

This demand began with the FBI approaching Apple to help them access data on the iPhone of San Bernardino killer Syed Farook.  Apple, for reasons outlined in this open letter, have refused to cooperate.  The FBI has now pursued court proceedings to force Apple to help them with their ongoing investigation of Farook’s involvement.  The Apple CEO is refusing to comply.

Cook’s fear is basic:

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again (to open) any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

Cook has exposed the demands being placed on Apple for the simple reason that he believes that an open discussion needs to be held.  The issues are complex.  A simple explanation can be found on this post: Apple vs the FBI – a plain English guide.

Scroll to the end of an op ed written by John McAfee, a member of the Libertarian Party, who is running in the US Presidency campaign, to see a short excellent video which captures the argument very succinctly.

FBI vs Apple

This sounds like a David and Goliath kind of battle, one which reminds me of the fight against Internet censorship which was famously waged by Aaron Swartz in 2012.  Swartz, who sadly lost his life during this ongoing battle, was a brilliant contributor to our world.

So ….. are we now staring down the barrel of a government ‘gun’ forcing its demands upon a company to comply on the premise that this will be in the best interests of the people?

Your thoughts?

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A newly opened library in the Carver County city of Victoria is being touted as a prototype for achieving the maximum amount of community benefits from a minimum amount of space.” (Star Tribune, May 14, 2015)

I found myself intrigued by some of the ideas noted in this and another article about the Carvery County Library in Minnesota, USA.

Carver County LibraryWhile there are some pretty cool libraries out there, when faced with only a tiny space and an enormous need, challenging issues revolving around use need to be tackled in an innovative way.   And I really like some of the solutions adopted here:

  • flexible design allowing use for varying purposes without the need to rearrange furniture
  • introduction of a ‘digital-in-person’ concept: using library space for people to interact with each other
  • providing a delivery service link from a nearby library in place of storing expansive books collections
  • computer stations in the library to allow patrons to easily browse our eBook collections
  • long, farmhouse-style tables equipped with power and data connectivity which can be used by individuals and small groups to classes of up to 24 students; space is “flipped” without any rearranging
  • using colourful furniture to create zones and define spaces
  • adaption of the Apple stores’ Genius Bar tech support counter to assist library patrons navigate the digital library

The notion of adapting ideas from Apple into our schools and libraries is something I enthusiastically blogged about some time ago: What Apple can teach us about learning! so, as you can guess, I’m a big fan of the idea of introducing the ‘Genius Bar’ as a tech support counter to assist library users.

Being able to teach patrons how to better use the library in a ‘spiced up’ manner has to be a win-win for Teacher Librarians. Imagine teaching a dedicated/attentive small group

  • how to search the catalogue
  • how to download e books and other materials
  • how to use e-resources
  • how to effectively run a search
  • ensuring patrons feel ‘at home’ and comfortable in the library

Yes – I know this is what we do now, but giving the process a ‘facelift’ can go a long way.

Guess it’s time for a change!

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It’s the end of the school year at this end of the world, so it’s kind of natural for me to be reflecting on times been and times to come.

Watching this recently released video of Steve Wozniak talking about his role in the revolutionary change brought about by the development of the Apple computer is both beautifully filmed and fascinatingly informative.

Who could have dreamt of the developments that followed that momentous design?  The pace of change is indeed very fast.  How many of us could have predicted that today we would be debating the merits or otherwise of computers being able to think and act on their own?

When I read a report last week in which the pre-eminent scientist Steven Hawking warned that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could spell the end of the human race, I found myself sitting up and listening.  The article from BBC News: Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind is well worth a read.  If you know little about AI, this report includes a brief, easy to understand, introduction to AI by Prof Murray Shanahan.

Stephen Hawking is not alone in voicing his concerns about AI.  Elon Musk, chief executive of rocket-maker Space X, also fears that AI is our biggest existential threat.

The question of whether or not we should be worried about the development of Artificial Intelligence is heavily debated, but this recent CNN broadcast (December 2, 2014) in which James Barrat, author of “Our Final Invention”  discusses the issue, left me somewhat disconcerted.

AI - James Barrat on CNN

Contemporary discourse, which recognizes the incredible speed of technological changes, indicates that it’s not possible for educators to plan detailed educational programs beyond five years.  With an eye on where we are headed in the future, discussion, debate, exploration and questioning are behind most everything we put in place in our schools.

Over the last 12 months, I’ve learned and explored much.  Lots of opportunities, for which I am very grateful, have been thrown my way allowing me to grow, learn and explore more than I ever thought I could.  While I look forward to the end of year break over summer, I know that in between reading and relaxing, I will also explore interests which I regularly add to my never ending ‘to do’ list.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts in future posts after the break.


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With new design features aiming for simplicity, style and attention to detail, this newly released promo video explaining the many new features planned for iPhones certainly builds excitement among Apple devotees.

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Tomorrow marks a milestone in the computer world.

In case you’ve missed all the hype – tomorrow – October 26th – is the day that Microsoft unveils its new state of the art tablet and will for the first time go into head-to-head competition with Apple in the market it has dominated to date.

Microsoft, which from its inception has been a software and services company will, with the launch of the first tablet it has designed and built itself, now enter the competitive league of tablet computing .   Reported to be about the same size as the first iPad, Surface will run the new Windows 8 operating system which is optimized for touch.

Although there are some negatives as reported in this in depth review by Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal, a real plus is that for the first time we will be able to manage files on a tablet as well as plug in a usb for the easy movement of files.  Another downside he reports is that initially far fewer apps (a mere 10,000) will be available on Surface compared to the 700,000 currently available for iPads.

From a user’s perspective though, the launch of Surface provides an alternative to iPads.  With the new challenge of mastering Windows 8 awaiting us on both Surface and PCs from tomorrow, this is certainly not a time for complacency.  I wonder how long it will be before my workplace makes the shift to Windows 8.  Hmm ….. and I was finally just getting comfortable with what we have!

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Up until about three weeks ago, I’d never heard of Kickstarter.com  but, as often happens when you hear of something new, you suddenly start hearing about it from a range of sources!

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects.  If you have an idea, develop it, but don’t have the money to manufacture and market it, then Kickstarter is a great platform from which to seek support.  Most of the projects I’ve looked at have created a video to demonstrate or explain their product.  With absolutely stacks and stacks of ideas sorted into clearly labelled categories, it’s possible to peruse and find an amazing range of ‘would be’ products.  In exchange for monetary backing, the products’ creators will reward  you with the supply of a part or all of the product.   With a minimum funding target set by the creators, many projects garner far more support well before the close date.

Just yesterday, I saw this video of an amazing accessory for the iPad.  Being a typist, I’ve already discovered that while the iPad’s virtual keypad is really cool, it is not comfortable for the kind of extended typing I do on a regular basis.  Size wise and ergonomic wise, it just isn’t right.   Without even physically playing with The Brydge, you can see that it addresses many shortcomings of the iPad’s virtual keyboard.

So, when I went to check cost and availability, lo and behold, I discovered that this was a Kickstarter project.   Having already exceeded the funding required, it’s clear that many, like me, agree that this is a product that’s going places!

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