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The Geek’s Reading List – Week of November 21st 2014

Piccioni on Google Glass: “Setting aside the privacy issues (and potential bloody noses) most humans are unlikely to want to live in the same data rich environment as fighter pilots. “This was another slow week for tech news. We’ve seen some more moves towards a more democratic Internet infrastructure, and some interesting analysis arose regarding Tesla. The most exciting thing for me was the release and installation of Android 5.0, which required some re-learning of familiar apps. It is indeed a pity Google can’t provide help files with instructions which actually work, however, that is probably too much to ask for.

The Mystery of 12,000 Missing Teslas: Overseas Boom or Waning U.S. Demand?

I have to be very careful what I say here, however, as a general rule, declining demand in the early adopter market is not a promising development for a technology company, or, in the case of Tesla, an automobile manufacturer. As with other remarkable observations regarding Tesla (fires, Trabant level reliability, etc.) no doubt a positive spin will be placed on this or, alternatively, aspersions will be cast on the data themselves. Nonetheless, as I said, declining demand in your early adopter market, especially when it is the US, is never a good sign. Never, ever, ever, a good sign.

“Tesla Motors (TSLA) is slowly ramping up production. Demand for its electric sedans allegedly remains high. Yet far fewer of the vehicles are making their way onto U.S. roads this year. In the first nine months of 2014, the number of U.S. registrations of Tesla vehicles fell by one-third to 9,331, according to an analysis of public records by Hedges & Co., an Ohio-based market-research firm. In the same period, however, Tesla said it delivered 21,821 cars—a 40 percent increase from a year earlier. What happened to the other 12,490 cars?”

Pay Phones in New York City Will Become Free Wi-Fi Hot Spots

This is a great idea since pay phones are not seeing a lot of use and the places pay phones have are already serviced by electricity and telephone wiring. The business case is not entirely clear, however, the cost of delivering WiFi is not that high so it might work. The major problem I can see is that the pods will have to be, almost literally, bullet proof or they won’t last long. After all, cretins do not need a financial incentive to vandalize something which looks expensive.

“The modern New York pay phone will provide no shelter from the rain, no alcove for the quarreling couple seeking a private moment to reconcile. It will afford little refuge to the prospective superhero requiring a wardrobe change. In fact, the pay phone of tomorrow will include no traditional phone at all — nor any payment, for that matter, at least for communication within the United States. But beginning next year, city officials said on Monday, the relics will evolve into something deemed far more practical: thousands of Wi-Fi hot spots across the city, providing free Internet access, free domestic calls using cellphones or a built-in keypad, a charging station for mobile devices and access to city services and directions.”

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Microsoft Azure faults knock websites offline

This is yet another reminder of the hazards of cloud services, and, in particular, hosted applications. Just as was the case previously with Amazon and Adobe, “hiccups” in Microsoft’s cloud computing platform pulled it offline disrupting the activities of countless users (including those who have been lured into using Office 365). You have to believe the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and Adobe have a pretty good understanding of what they are doing, and yet stuff happens. There is a place for cloud services given ample layers of backup and redundancy, however, these systems do go offline and when they do chaos reigns.

“Faults with Microsoft’s cloud computing platform have knocked many third-party sites offline, as well as disrupting the US firm’s own products. Microsoft Azure’s status page says problems began at 00:52 GMT across the globe. Its European operations are taking the longest to fix. Access to Microsoft’s Office 365 online suite of apps and its Xbox Live gaming facility are among services affected. The faults could set back the company’s efforts to sell Azure. Microsoft is attempting to make gains on the market leader, Amazon Web Services, as well as IBM, Google and others offering rival products.”

Google Glass future clouded as some early believers lose faith
The future ain’t what it used to be. Perhaps. The idea of Google Glass makes some sense though I am not entirely convinced it will ever have broad appeal. Setting aside the privacy issues (and potential bloody noses) most humans are unlikely to want to live in the same data rich environment as fighter pilots. After all, it takes brainpower to convert data into information, and all that thinking is bound to be very tiring. So the choice is to be confronted with large amounts of data on an ongoing basis, or switch the thing off. You can’t have it both ways, and, more likely than not, the device is bound to be useless for most people most of the time.

“After two years of popping up at high-profile events sporting Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sauntered bare-faced into a Silicon Valley red-carpet event on Sunday. He’d left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product — he recently wore his pair to the beach. But Brin’s timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market. … Of 16 Glass app makers contacted by Reuters, nine said that they had stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device. Three more have switched to developing for business, leaving behind consumer projects.”

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