Category Archives: Thoughts

Science Fiction as a Future Modeller

I’ve always been a big fan of Sci-fi films. Like many a geek, I grew up with the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek. These worlds fascinated me from a young age, creating an expectation and excitement about what I could expect from the future.  As I got older, science fiction of the more philosophical kind – The Matrix, Minority Report, Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner – started becoming more interesting to me. The politics, socioeconomics and ethics of these fantastical worlds enthralled me, many a university evening was spent debating the pros and cons of each.

It wasn’t until recently though that I realised that the genre not only entertained and intrigued, but also built models –  theories about what the future might look like, what technological advancements we’ll make and how we might live. What Sci-Fi films do is take these ideas and models them into a “working” demo. We can almost use Sci-Fi films to test how technology would work in practice before investing time and resources in creating it. For example, the user interface in Minority report, while beautiful and reminiscent of a conductor leading an orchestra, clearly wouldn’t really work in reality from a practical point of view. Waving your arms around is going to get tiring very quickly. The Gap scene, however, where John Anderson walks into the department stores and is offered discounts based on past purchasing history by a holographic sales attendant, is another story altogether. This is a “real world” demonstration of how a future store could look and function.. and I like it.

We’ve already developed many forms of technology based on what we’ve seen in Sci-Fi film and brought them to life. The iPad, the Mobile Phone, Google Glasses.. all of these were envisioned and demonstrated in film long before the technology caught up. And we’re still doing it.. the famous Star Trek medical device – the Tricorder – is currently in development. Flying cars, personal robots, video calls.. all envisioned in Sci-Fi.  Hell, we’re even making mistakes based on things we’ve seen in movies. The idea of a transparent monitors comes straight out of Sci-Fi. It’s a cinematography tool designed to show both actor and screen at the same time, yet there are multiple companies dedicated to bringing these to life, despite its obvious impracticalities.



…On Mobile Payments

A credit card is tiny, it pays for anything around the world and people should spend more time getting parking machines to accept credit cards than a cellphone replacing a slice of plastic with a slab of plastic.

Hit the nail on the head. Add car guards to the list, and we could well get rid of cash altogether.



Tim Cook on Apple Maps

Apple Press Release:

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.


Use someone else’s product. That’s a first.



Why Apple Hates You But Loves Your Mother

On a recent visit to my parents’ home, I had an interesting conversation with my mother that really got me thinking. It started with her excitement at telling me that her iPhone (which she’s had for 3 years now) could play music. This was of course shocking to me. My mother is one of the smartest people I know. When she doesn’t know, she has the skills to find information and learn and she’s also someone whose technological expertise far outweigh my own. How was it possible then for her to be unaware of something as simple as the iPod feature of the iPhone, arguably one of its core features. This told me there was a problem, and I wanted to try and understand where the break in information flow happened. Turns out, my mother’s never visited, she’s never read the instruction manual nor has she ever bothered to ask anyone about the iPhone. When I asked her why, her answer was simple. “I had no reason to, my iPhone makes calls and I can send text messages. That’s really all I want it to do”. This really bothered me for sometime, as I felt I had let her down, she has this amazing device that she just wasn’t getting the full benefit of. It took me a long to time to accept the fact that, quite simply, she just didn’t care. It didn’t bother her at all.

My phone on the other hand runs my world. I do half my day to day work (both professional and personal) on my iPhone. I can’t imagine being able to work efficiently without it. It’s taken a very long time for technology to get to this point. I’m completely reliant on a piece of technology, and I’m very happy that I am. But it’s also made me realise that, because of this, I seek out ways and means to offload more of my day-to-day functions onto my iPhone. The idea of not knowing what my phone can and cannot do effectively is unacceptable. This is where I think the problem lies… I care too much and I try too hard to push the boundaries of what my phone can do and so I actively seek out this information, essentially forcing innovation. I also don’t believe I’m unique in this regard. The Android operating system is entirely dedicated to this ideal. The problem is that we’re very much in the minority. Apple knows this, and they’ve built an empire around it.

Apple doesn’t invent features and functions, it tries to make existing features and functions accessible.

Softly softly, catchy monkey. What we see as minimal evolution in product iterations is actually common-user introduction to the features we use on a daily basis. The iPhone doesn’t do anything your phone from 2006 couldn’t. The difference is that for the first time, your mother can use that feature, and more importantly, she can discover it for herself. Apple brings the same basic technology we’ve been using for years to the masses. The masses who don’t care enough to seek it out for themselves. That’s the market that Apple cleverly targets. Any feature loses its utility when it’s not being used, but as soon as it becomes accessible to someone who isn’t looking for it, it becomes magical.

If the Android operating system is the jack of all trades but a master of none, then the iPhone, and iOS in particular, is a master of the absolute basics.

Reviews of the iPhone 5 are a dime a dozen at the moment and they all seem to have one thing in common: the iPhone 5 is a great phone, but it’s starting to get boring. The problem with these reviews is that technologists/technofiles write them; people who actively work with and continuously seek out new technologies. These reviews are, therefore, only targeted toward a small selection of people rather than the ‘average Joe’ who could care less about what CPU a phone has. The fact of the matter is that iPhone reviews are being written by the wrong people for the wrong people. Here’s the kicker; if you’re reading this you’re also part of that group and Apple doesn’t care about you… they do love your mother though.

Further reading:

There’s a great article written by @Rianvdm on how Apple hasn’t yet reach the local maximum, which further alludes to this; it’s highly recommended reading:

The iPhone (as a product) will hit a local maximum when the current design cannot be improved any more. This isn’t necessarily the best product you can make in the entire industry, but it is the best iteration of the current product


From the Old to the New

There’s a great before and after image taken by @cmyplay showing the old Settings icon in iOS5 contrasted with the new one in iOS6.

What looked perfectly fine before, looks absurd now. It’s such a great analogy for what it feels like moving from one iOS devices to the newest.  I haven’t even held an iPhone 5 yet and already my 4S feels clunky.



The iPhone 5 is a significant improvement over the iPhone 4S in nearly every regard, and in those areas that didn’t see an upgrade over its predecessor — camera, storage capacity — one could make a strong case that the iPhone 4S was already ahead of the curve. Every area, that is, except for the OS. If anything, it’s the operating system here that’s beginning to feel a bit dated and beginning to show its age.


It’s maybe telling that the iPhone 5 is benchmarked against its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, and not by other brands of smartphone.  Just because you’ve seen the magic before, doesn’t make it any less magical.


Engadget: iPhone 5 Review

Get the old iOS twitter back

If you’re anything like me, as soon as you heard there was a shiny new iOS twitter app, you rushed off to update… to the mess that is HTML Twitter 5.0.

You’re going to want to revert back to Twitter 4.0, and here’s how to do that:

  1. Delete the app from all your iOS devices.. make sure you don’t sync. (for Windows users, if you have synced you’ll find the old version in trash. Simply restore the file, delete the updated iTunes version with the restored file. Mac users, you’re out of luck)
  2. Connect your iOS device and let iTunes go through its normal syncing process
  3. iTunes should see that you no longer have the twitter app installed and will uncheck it from your synced apps list. Recheck iTunes and sync again.
  4. Boom, welcome back to old twitter.

Shout if you have problems.


Twitter updates mobile apps

We’ve rebuilt the app from the ground up to make it fast, beautiful and easy to use. Tweets come alive with in-line expansion and support for photos, videos and web site summaries. Like Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android, this new version of Twitter for iPad also supports new profiles and photo streams on profiles.


Why fix what isn’t broken. Twitter took out some of the apps best features with this update.