Showing posts from 2011

Tech Top 20 "In 2012" Lists

Now that 2011 is coming to a close, all the tech blogs and online magazines are predicting what to watch out for in the coming year. I wrote about how futurists predict tech trends in a blog I posted on 6 December 2011 , so I thought it would be fun to list some of the technologies people say we can expect in the coming year. I compiled a list of 20 "in 2012" lists, culled from Twitter, LinkedIn, and a variety of online publications. Interestingly, a number of themes are prevalent in these lists: Social media Gamification (see my previous blog post on this topic ) Tablets and phones/mobile computing Cloud computing Curiously, HTML5, one of the biggest revolutions in the Internet world, was only mentioned once. Mobile payments was mentioned a few times, which I think is going to be the next big thing (maybe not in 2012, but in the coming years.) Lists 11 and 13 are not strictly trend-related, but I thought they were still appropriate to include here as they do s

Two Software Developers Walk Into a Bar...

I love technology. I find it fascinating, engaging, and exciting. But while there is so much interesting stuff to read and learn about the latest hardware, software, and tech trends, much of it is not the slightest bit funny...or is it? If you look carefully enough, you will find plenty of humor in technology. Silicon Art Chip designers will often sign their names or include a drawing or message in a microscopic area on the chip.   The following is from inside a Samsung Galaxy Tab as  reported in Wired magazine in March 2011 . The image is magnified by about 200x: See  this other Wired magazine article  for more. Who says chip designers don't have a sense of humor? Easter Eggs In the world of software, Easter Eggs are interesting or funny "additional extras" hidden inside the program by software developers, not necessarily sanctioned by the software house. Only if you know the correct command or sequence of clicks or keystrokes can you reveal the Easter Egg.

This is How It's Done

In my last post I mentioned that learning-games can have a positive impact on the educational experience. Unfortunately, my son's English teacher doesn't believe in making learning fun. He gave the students a list of thirteen spelling words to learn over the coming week. No wonder my son doesn't like English - it's as boring as watching a banana take a nap . Knowing that my son has no choice but to learn the words, I found a way to spice it up a bit - example sentences: Put I put the dog in the washing machine. Putting Dad said, “Why are you putting the dog in the washing machine?” Big I put a big dog in the washing machine. Bigger Racheli * put a bigger dog in the washing machine. Biggest Tova ^ put the biggest dog in the washing machine. There There was a dog in the washing machine. Their The kids put their dog in the washing machine. It's The dog said, “ It’s dark and wet in the washing machine.” Its The dog did not w

Play Your Way to Wealth and Wisdom

Video Games are Good for Kids I love a good video game. There is a certain satisfaction when you blast the aliens out of the sky, build a profitable transportation system from scratch, or clear three snooker tables in under two minutes. But all these games are just time-wasters - or are they? Back in seventh grade, when we started using Apple II computers at school, we learned how to make the Logo turtle move around the screen by entering certain commands. What was the point of teaching us Logo? Was it simply a distraction from regular classwork? The answer lies within an article entitled, "LOGO, the Cry of the Turtle is Heard in the Land" by Ian Gronowski, reprinted from a 1984 edition of the Australian Apple Review, here . The reason, Gronowski says, for teaching Logo to kids is that: "Logo provides the learning environment, the context with which the child learns how to reason." In other words, devising the most efficient command to instruct the Logo turtl

Y. Karp? Why Not! Gets Smart

This blog is now available on your Android or iPhone smart-phone in a mobile-friendly format. Just go to and the blog will automatically render to the size of your smart-phone display. Couldn't be simpler. Enjoy! Follow on Twitter: @ykarp Subscribe to Y. Karp? Why Not! or follow on Facebook (see the side-bar). Add this blog to your RSS feed reader.

New Planet

Just two days ago NASA announced the discovery of a planet that could possibly host life. It's called Kepler 22-b. The planet is about 2.4 times the size of Earth and is just far enough away from its sun to possibly be habitable. Kepler 22-b is situated 600 light years from Earth. This means that, with current technology, it will only take you about 7 million years to get there . Assuming that there is sentient life on Kepler 22-b, and assuming that they have the same level of technology as us, we only have about 7 million years until the invasion force arrives. Disclaimer: If there is a sudden run on supermarkets and if there is widespread looting and general mayhem in the streets, I had nothing to do with it... Follow on Twitter: @ykarp Subscribe to Y. Karp? Why Not! or follow on Facebook (see the side-bar). Add this blog to your RSS feed reader.

How to Predict the Future

In my previous post I said that I love it when life imitates art. Science fiction gadgets, as we see them on the screen, often turn up in real life in one form or another. I think that the reason for this is that sci-fi writers are futurists at heart. They see the technology as it is now and extrapolate its development to the future. Take a look at the following video, released by Sony in the last week of November 2011. Are we getting closer to inventing a real holodeck? And, just for the fun of it, here is a satire on the whole Start Trek/futurist thing: According to Bryan Alexander's article " Apprehending the Future: Emerging Technologies, from Science Fiction to Campus Reality ", there are a number of different ways to predict future technologies: The Environmental Scan: Repeatedly survey the technological horizon, looking for the leading edges of new projects and trends. One website that does just th

iDevice RC: Supersize Me!

According to this ZDNet article , Dexim sells a nifty little truck called the AppSpeed that, with a little help from the included RF transmitter, can be remotely controlled by your iDevice. Two words: Way cool! The first thing I thought of when I read this was that it would be incredibly awesome to have a life-size version of the AppSpeed truck that you could drive just by gliding your hand across the screen. Wait a minute...James Bond " Tomorrow Never Dies " (1997), anybody?   I love it when life imitates art, especially when it's remote controlled. Pity, though, that the AppSpeed doesn't come with rockets and that handy cable cutter thing. Comments are most welcome! Follow on Twitter: @ykarp Subscribe to Y. Karp? Why Not! or follow on Facebook (see the side-bar). Add this blog to your RSS feed reader

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx The first few pages of  Garth Stein's " The Art of Racing in the Rain " didn't really grab me. This is a book about a family told through the eyes of a dog. The dog's philosophizing was a bit too much, although Stein eases up on the "meaning of life" speech and gets stuck into the guts of the story within a few pages. The bulk of the story, and Enzo the dog's take on things, was well written, occasionally funny, and quite engaging. The reader really gets to know the characters and empathize with them. I particularly enjoyed the car-racing analogies, which were welcome interludes, but not overdone. Despite it's beginning, the author did a good job of balancing Enzo's philosophical thoughts on life with events and action, resulting in a story that moves along and doesn't get bogged down. Here's a video tr

Slow Release

Some have criticized HP and Blackberry for dragging their feet on updates to the Touchpad and Playbook, respectively. Although frustrating sluggish in their release schedules, they are not the slowest to issue the latest version of their product. For all of you who thought that chess was an anti-social game (although not as anti-social as solitaire), it's time for you to rethink your stereotypes because after about 800 years, chess version 2.0 has been released. This report on Slashgear showcases a three-person, circular chess game.  Chess clubs of the world, rejoice! Comments are most welcome! Follow on Twitter: @ykarp Subscribe to Y. Karp? Why Not! or follow on Facebook (see the side-bar). Add this blog to your RSS feed reader

I Am So 1995

The digital world has switched to the cloud, yet I still have my feet firmly on the ground. At home, I use a local email client on a big black desktop computer. I use software that was installed from a CD. I have a puny mobile data plan on my Symbian-based work-phone, and I haven't used a touch screen since I ran over my Palm PDA with my great big silver station-wagon sometime in 2002. My friends all have G-mail accounts, and I'm still mulling whether or not to use DropBox. There was a time when I wanted to ditch local computing and entrench myself in the Google-sphere: G-mail, Chrome, Android, Google+. The theory behind Chromebook, despite it's very shaky and unpopular start, sounds brilliant: Doesn't matter if you drop your Chromebook in the loo, simply log in from any Chromebook machine and all your settings and preferences instantly appear before you. (I would have used the word "magically", but I think it is trademarked by Apple...) But I resisted

What Can Possibly Be More Interesting Than This Article?

Australia's Channel 2, the government funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), used to host a show called " Backchat ". Viewers were invited to submit their opinions about ABC broadcasts beamed into their televisions and radios. If what the viewer or listener had to say was current enough, witty, or clever, part of their submissions would be quoted on-air. Backchat, aired twice a week, was a ten-minute segment that filled the gap between 9.20pm and 9.30pm; the concept was brilliant. Viewers got a thrill when the best parts of their letters were read out for all the nation to hear. The interesting thing about it was that there were often multiple comments on the same topic, giving a theme to that day's Backchat. The ABC had found a way to seem accountable to the public and, at the same time, attract viewers to their television station. Aside from the novelty of having your words read out and your name displayed on television, the idea was not that much dif

I Want a Tablet

Despite an almost overwhelming desire to buy one of these shiny new geeky toys, I don't think I am going to get one. The following is a conversation I had with myself today. I want a tablet computer. But they are too expensive. But you can read books on them. Buy a novel. But tablets are the future of computing. If they are the future of computing, wait until the future! But why wait? They are always coming out with new models, so that means I'll never get one. Although, in terms of bang-for-buck, you don't really get very much. But then, what do I use the home computer for, anyway - email, internet, Facebook, Twitter, internet banking and a few games - so why not? I'll tell you why not: For the same price or less you can get a netbook or low-powered notebook that will last longer, possibly even play optical media, has a better selection of ports, and supports your EWI USB electronic saxophone. Yeah, but I don't like using email, Facebook and Twitter on

Book Review: The Professor and the Madman

When attempting to describe the plot of The Professor and the Madman, I find myself undecided as to where to begin. The cover of the book describes it as a novel about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. That is true, in a way. Simon Winchester, the author, spends much time on detailing the history of dictionaries and the difficulties in collating them - a far more interesting topic than one would imagine. However, the making of the OED, while an intrinsic aspect of the book, is not its focus. Most prominent in the novel is the story of the the Madman, an American Civil-War doctor who went mad, supposedly as a result of the horrors he witnessed during the war. Despite his incarceration in an assylum, the Madman becomes one of the most important contributors to the creation of the OED. The Professor, a less featured character, but by no means a lesser character, is the editor of the OED who initially doesn't realize that his most important contributor is a long-standing r

Should I Use Shall? May I Use Should? Shall I Use May?

I learned in my Technical Writing course that the words “may”, “should”, “can” and “will” are to be avoided at all costs in a requirements document, unless they are in a note or a special section called “Recommendations” or something similar. However, I had a customer who insisted that this is wrong because he has been using these [forbidden] words in documentation for eternity “and it is all over the Internet”. I asked him how the reader is supposed to know whether it is a requirement, a recommendation, or an option. His answer: At the beginning of the doc he has a table defining “shall”, “should”, and “may” (he doesn’t use “will” or “can”.) So I did a bit of Internet research and found this quote from the IEEE style manual (quoted here: ) The word shall is used to indicate mandatory requirements strictly to be followed in order to conform to the standard and from which no deviation is permitted (shall equals is required to). The

Embrace Electronic Bling

According to this eHow article entitled "How to Wear Gaudy Jewelry": Bright green baubles, earrings that look like rocket ships and a bracelet bigger and louder than Texas all qualify as gaudy jewelry. Gaudy jewelry is flamboyant, obnoxious and a heck of a lot of fun. Just because the jewelry is gaudy doesn’t mean you can’t wear it with flair. Some stylish tips will help you wear gaudy jewelry better than those chicks on the fashion pages. Are you kidding me? There is nothing you can do to wear rocket ship earrings stylishly. Nothing. Well, the article disagrees with me and goes on to mention five ways to wear gaudy jewelry and look good: Be selective: That's right. The first rule of wearing over-the-top fashion accessories (like big green baubles) is to be "selective". Stay minimal: much flamboyant and obnoxious jewelry is too much? Keep the rest of the outfit simple: Like anyone is going to notice that, in addition to yellow banana earrings,

Going Where No Mogul Has Gone Before

Let me just say this: I don't know much about this man as a person. I haven't done research into either his private or public lives. I don't know what his politics are and I don't know if he really is a nice guy, or if he just presents well, but I am in awe of Sir Richard Branson  who seems to look at the current state of technology and ask, "How can I take this to the next level?" He thinks big. Virgin Galactic is a perfect example. It is true that SpaceshipOne was not Branson's idea, and the original technology was not developed by Virgin (it was  Burt Rutan's  design). However, it took a person as flamboyant and visionary as Richard Branson to recognize the potential. He became one of the driving forces behind making regular, safe space flight into a reality with Virgin Galactic. True, it costs $200,000 for a space ticket  and the spacecraft are still being tested, but the price will come down (although possibly not in my lifetime!) and Virgin Ga

Squeezing the Most Out of Your Day

It has been quite some time since my last blog post, mostly due to other extra-curricular projects I have going at the moment. It is difficult to find time to write blog posts when family commitments, work, writing a novel for pre-teens, practicing my Akai EWI and resuming an exercise routine I had laid fallow for about half a year, all seem to get in the way. Here's an interesting link to a website that describes how 25 famous people, such as Stephen King, Charles Darwin and Winston Churchill scheduled their day. The thing that strikes me about most of the daily routines described is that these people behaved as if the world revolved around them. Most of them even had a scheduled socializing hour - those friends who could not abide by it be damned! I find that one of the most important skills in my job as a Technical Writer is to manage my time properly. On any given day I could find myself working on anything from proofing 300 page hardware specifications through to creatin