Friday, July 13, 2012

Solar Flare!

Cell phones, get ready for dropped bars. According to, we have an X-Flare headed our way, tomorrow. It's just the Sun reminding us how awesome it is compared to us.

Aren't we just adorable next to all that fusion?

Speaking of awesome, how cool of a URL name is

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Motorola: Make This!

I could be accused of a bit of Monday night quarterbacking when it comes to mobile tech manufacturing. I'll admit that I have never created, marketed, and sold a mobile device on the open market (though I have listed a phone on Craigslist). Perhaps, then, I am not qualified to tell Motorola what they ought to do when it comes to making a smartphone. I should be sorry for my actions, and never tell a multi-billion dollar corporation how to best develop products again.

I'm as sorry as Keanu is here; no amount of cats will displace my shame.

But I'm going to anyway.

I do what I want!

Motorola made my current smartphone, the Droid RAZR. For that, I sincerely thank them. It's a svelte pice of awesome; Kevlar and Gorilla Glass wrapped Android thin enough to fit in a hipster's jean pocket. A truly great device.

But it's not what they should have made. It has several limitations that seem almost arbitrary, and it could have been so much more with presumably just some minor changes. The Maxx comes to mind, but even that doesn't do it all justice (after all, I still prefer my RAZR's thin profile to the "bloated" Maxx, which is still thinner than the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone).

I'm here, Motorola, to help you out. You're one of the few manufacturers going out on a limb and coming up with something new, form wise. Sure, you flop now and again, but that's what promotes greatness. Like when Luke messed up at first when he tried to defend against the remote with the blast shield down.

With the patent dispute down, how am I supposed to compete?

I'm not here to say you should have used Samsung's sAMOLED+ panel if you weren't going for HD resolution, or that you ought to have used coding resources to get vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich onto your device rather than Blurred Gingerbread. That would be beneath both of us (and also a bit disingenuous, since I love my RAZR). No; I'm here to tell you what the most awesome handset in the world would be, with current technology. Use it as a litmus for where your development future will go. I expect my consultant check in the mail.

First thing first: you need to make something without limitations, but that's still unique. You don't want people to say, "I'd like it if only it didn't have . . . " Instead, it's OK for people to say, "I just don't personally care for . . . " It may seem subtle, but the difference is huge. People need to feel that the device made no compromises in its design. If there's something there that's against their alleged tastes, that can be dealt with (remember when people thought 4" screens were too big?). If it's something that they like that could have been better, then you failed to uphold your device's perception in the public eye.

Just because your marketing team says it's awesome doesn't mean we have to believe it.

No compromise. That's the perception you need to cultivate. Apple's done this with their iOS brand, and people have bought it. Mainly that's because Apple doesn't compromise within their sphere. You can't find a better 3.5" screen than the LG made IPS LCD panel in the iPhone 4/4S. The GPU in the A5/5X is second to none. The design is preference. As much as I don't like iPhones, this is a winning combo.

I'll let you in on a secret, Motorola: you have more to offer than Apple does.

I just blew your mind. I know.

This is not to say you need to copy Apple; not in the slightest. I'm just saying that Apple has successfully marketed themselves as a no-compromise manufacturer, and you should strive for this, too. Plenty of other companies have done the same, so this isn't an Apple corner in the mobile space. Basically, you need to be the best Motorola you can be. Go get 'em, big guy! You can do it, slugger!

Besides, no one likes a bad copy.

First thing's first: design. This is an easy one: don't change a thing. There is not a single handset out right now that holds a candle to the RAZR design. From the materials to the look to the nano-coating for water resistance, you guys really hit it out of the park. Bravo.

Anyone who thinks this isn't a great looking phone needs their vision checked.

Next on the list: screen. This is by far and away the most important part of a phone, these days (though there are a few contenders for a very, very close second). Your screen needs to impress, to awe; to make a grown man cry from its sheer beauty.

And it needs to be huge. No hyperbole, here; I'm dead serious. The majority of people that seem to "prefer" a smaller screen are those who haven't used a larger one. People knocked the HTC Evo's screen for being practical-joke big, and now it's the standard size for smartphones (and it made HTC a dollar or two).

Of all the panels out there, one that is currently in production comes to mind.

Take note: I like puns.

The 5.3" sAMOLED panel on the Galaxy Note is nigh perfect. Take this screen and make it non-pentile matrix and you're set.

Next: radios. You guys are the standard for radios, so do this portion in-house. Use one of the smaller die processes for your LTE radios (28nm, preferably). This is paramount because of our next point:

If I had a dollar for every time I saw this screen, I'd try to see this screen more often.

Battery life is key. What you've done with the Maxx is a step in the right direction, but if you pair that with 28nm die LTE modems (and other parts, obviously), you would take this into the stratosphere. This isn't exactly an epiphany, so expect other manufacturers to be hard at work on the same thing. Get to market first and you'll be known for it.

Of course, Andy's already been to the stratosphere.

Next up: CPU/GPU. I know you all like to play nice with Texas Instruments, but their combo screams "compromise!" So does nVidia. For that matter, so does just about everyone. Samsung is the only company I can think of that doesn't, and that's only with their Exynos processors. Be our hero, Motorola. Come out with an A15 dual core that has a killer GPU.

Software is also important, and I must commend your choice in using Android (since you've been acquired by Google, I'm doubtful this will change). However, I also have a bone to pick; two, in fact. Blur and bootloaders.

"Blur" rarely makes one think, "that must be really polished and awesome."

Blur is actually not bad, but you really ought to focus more attention on serving add ons to the OS rather than a complete refresh of it. I know you think that it "differentiates" your device, but you've misunderstood. The consumer couldn't care less about Blur, Sense, TouchWiz, etc. No one goes from a Samsung Galaxy SII to a Droid RAZR and says, "Wow! This new theming is the best!" Go ahead and make a new launcher and do a few small tweaks like allowing swipe to camera from the lockscreen on Gingerbread, but leave it at that. Spend your time on making Smart Actions more polished (and who cares if it ends up a pirated *.apk; that means you're making something others envy!).

For the bootloaders, unlock them (well, decrypt the signature). The people that want it will love you for it, and they are few. The people that would be trouble with an unlocked bootloader won't be doing anything that requires one. Keeping it locked up is basically a no-advantage scenario. If you're worried about more tech support issues, just be sure to send a new device, pre-release, to the heads of some of the usual suspects of awesome ROMs and they'll handle the tech support side (AOKP, CM, MIUI, etc.). It'll cost you a grand total of something like $4500 retail (less, since it'll just be your cost plus shipping), and it'll also be free advertising to boot. That will probably be the best $4500 you'll ever spend, equating to thousands if not more handsets sold. This is a no-brainer and a really, really easy and cheap way to be the #1 make amoung the tech and Android enthusiast blogs and forums.

And please, none of that stupid "developer device" crap sold without a warranty and no carrier subsidies. That just pisses people off and makes you look cheap (remember: no compromise perception).

You could be King of the Nerds, Motorola. Embrace your destiny.

Last but not least: the camera. This is an easy one: use a Carl Zeiss lens and a Xenon flash. Yes, the Xenon will take more juice than an LED. It won't matter. People don't use the flash enough to make a giant dent in battery life, but they will notice the difference in their nighttime photo quality. That's also why you'll use the Zeiss lens: picture quality, picture quality, picture quality. This is key. You'll need competitive MP so that you don't fall short on silly spec sheets, but the picture quality will make you a legend in the blog world. And, since you're Motorola, you'll find a way to make it look sexy and not like, well . . . a Nokia.

This is one of the few things Nokia got right, and they're universally praised for it.

The rest is fluff. MicroSD slot vs. internal memory, HDMI port vs. PDMI, etc. don't mean too much. If Apple's shown the world anything, it's that you can compromise on connectors and most people won't care.

So, to sum up, make us a device with the following:

  • RAZR Maxx build (battery included)
  • A15 with a killer GPU (a real benchmark-buster)
  • 5.3", HD, sAMOLED+ screen
  • Carl Zeiss lens with a xenon flash
  • Vanilla Android with a custom launcher and some basic tweaks
  • Unlocked bootloader
  • Advance devices sent to leading devs in the ROM scene
Do this, and you'll be awesome. Do it not, and every one of your handsets will die this day.

True story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waving Goodbye

This morning, my inbox (and probably yours, too) greeted me with this message from the Google Wave team:

It says, "Dear Wavers,

More than a year ago we announced that Google Wave would no longer be developed as a separate product. Back in November 2011, we shared the specific dates for ending this maintenance period and shutting down Wave. Google Wave is now in read-only mode. This is a reminder that the Wave service will be turned off on April 30, 2012. You will be able to continue exporting individual waves using the existing PDF export feature until the Google Wave service is turned off. We encourage you to export any important data before April 30, 2012.

If you would like to continue using Wave, there are a number of open source projects, including Apache Wave. There is also an open source project called Walkaround that includes an experimental feature that lets you import all your Waves from Google. This feature will also work until the Wave service is turned off on April 30, 2012.

For more details, please see our help center.

Yours sincerely,
The Wave Team"

Time to pour one out for the best collaboration software money couldn't buy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Robuntu: Android Gets in Touch with its Linux Side

Welcome to the future. No flying cars, mind; just some sweet digs for your computer/smartphone.

Canonical, the dudes who brought us Ubuntu (and many of its derivatives), have shoehorned a fully functioning Ubuntu distro onto an Android device. Big deal, right? We've seen this countless times before. Heck, even my Dell Streak 7 has an Ubuntu install floating around out there.

You shut your mouth. It is a big deal.

What Canonical has done here (and will show off at the upcoming MWC) is more than a simple port of a popular Linux flavour onto a handheld device; they've successfully married the smartphone and the desktop computer. Ubuntu doesn't dual boot, here, but it actually runs alongside Android when you dock your device (ala Motorola's Webtop, but this actually works well). Carry your device and it's Android; dock it and it's Ubuntu. Awesomely, when you're in Ubuntu mode you can still run Android apps and receive Android notifications. You run off of your Android's hardware, and can do anything it can do (texts, phone calls, Angry Birds, etc.). If you dock it to an HDTV, it'll automatically use Ubuntu's TV interface (doesn't look like Mythbuntu, but it still looks pretty cool).

What are you waiting for? Check out the video!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Star Wars vs. Star Trek: Episode II

We're tied at 1 and 1. Man the WiFi router; it's about to get all nerdy real up in here!

So far, Star Trek has trumped Sebulba's pod with that oh-so-sweet hoverbike, but Lucas' empire struck back with the Millennium Falcon eclipsing the Enterprise. There'll be blood in the streets before this is done.

Before we dive in and roll a few 1D20s, let's remember the criteria: we're going for "coolest in class;" not the one that would win in a fight (which is a pointless argument since some fanboi somewhere will always come up with some stupid logic to justify his favourite franchise).

"But Norman, that saber move would go against the Jedi code."

Since I'm the sole arbiter over what I think is cool and what isn't, this is a completely objective test. My conclusions are correct by the scale from which they're measured, and thus cannot be refuted.

My logic is undeniable.

Now that the exhaustive rules have been detailed, on with the show!

Vehicles (cont.)

  • Fighter Craft

This category is filled with awesome. Things that go boom and make stuff explode. Big engines, lasers, concussion missiles, and maybe a cloaking device or two. Prepare for rad.

Star Trek
I'm going to go ahead and piss off some nerds here. Star Trek ships, in a straight up fight, would mop the floor with their Star Wars kin. Star Wars ships seem to be mainly line of sight fighters, which is really old school and lame.

Probably a good thing for Star Wars that this contest isn't driven by military performance.

Let's piss off some more fans: if we were going by the average cool across the entire fleet, Star Wars wins hands down. There are a couple of awkward looking Star Wars attack craft, but, for the most part, they're pretty cool (we'll get to that when we look over the Star Wars offerings). For the most part, Star Trek attack ships look like these:


 Blurry and lame.

 Computer game from 1997 lame.

Looks like a robot sand dollar.

Oops; I heard from a basement nerd that this isn't actually an attack ship from Star Trek. Sorry.

I guess that's it. Throw this one to Star Wars by default. Heck, even the new Star Trek movie has a glorified mining craft as it's big bruiser (don't even get me started on that hokey Spock-craft).

Don't throw in the towel just yet. It's time to go old school.

That planet is about to get eRADicated.

Klingon Bird of Prey. Pew pew, son.

Not only is it awesome across almost all of its iterations, but even the name sounds cool. It's like the space-fighter equivalent of a Hayabusa (which means "peregrine falcon"), and we all know how cool that thing is.

That BoP needs MOAR CHROME, boy! 

Oh, snap! Bling bling, Worf.

It just looks so lethal. The stance, the laser-tipped wings; it almost looks more lethal than an actual bird of prey.


Every time I see the Klingon Bird of Prey up against the Enterprise, I feel gypped as a human being. How did a race as dorky as the Klingons get the cool ship, but we're left rolling in a flashlight with a dish on top? I'm always kind of rooting for the BoP, too, since it's so much more bad-ass than the Enterprise (kind of like how I was secretly rooting for Darth Maul).

Rock on, cosplay champs. Klingons win the nomination.

No doubt they stopped into town for some awkward sword-axe-staffs.

Star Wars
Unlike the Star Trek universe, you don't have to go mining deep in Star Wars to find some awesome fighters. In fact, you almost have to do the opposite.

OK, I guess you don't have to look all that hard for lameness after all.

The old school series had plenty to pick from. You have your A-Wing,

"A" is for "awesome"

your B-Wing,

"B" is for "bad-ass"

and your Y-Wing.

"Y" is for "Y U no blow up Death Star?"

That's just the icing on the Alliance cake. The Empire had those simple-yet-awesome tie fighters, the best of which being this one:

Sorry, Vader; this one is way cooler than yours.

We've only scratched the surface. Even so, we all know which fighter is the coolest in the Star Wars kingdom. We all know. (You should read that again, but read the last sentence in a whisper.)

So. Rad.

Rogue 5 standing by . . . to kick some Imperial tail. Or maybe fly into a swamp.

Transforming wings? Check. Lasers with one of the best "pew-pew" sounds ever? Check. Looks like a dragonfly made into an anime nightmare? Check. The X-Wing is about as awesome as it gets when it comes to a fighter. Throw in an R2 unit and you're all set for a one way cruise to the cool sector.


This was a tough one. Both ships have that long, lean, lithe, lethal look of alliteration. There's something to be said for pitting a small craft against a very large one, but in the end they're both models (I just had to dodge some ninja stars made out of paper from the IT department).

I have to go with my gut on this one. The winner is just a smidgen cooler than the loser, though the loser could handily beat most other comers.

Search your feelings; you know it to be true.

Round 3: Star Wars

Star Trek

Star Wars

To be continued.