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Stalked By Google: At What Point Do We Jump Out of the Van?

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There are some people in our lives who give me the creeps.

We see them as friends. They give us really nice gifts for free, and always seem to have just what we need right when we need it. When we first met them, they seemed so kind, helpful, and innocent that we all just kind of fell in love with them, and welcomed them into our lives. We gave them a spare key to the house so that they could come and go as they pleased. After all, it was the least we could do after they had been so kind to us. They were like family to us, but almost without notice, something changed. They installed a sophisticated system to spy on our every move. We noticed that they started to rifle through our email, figure out who our friends were, find out where we were going and follow us until we got there, see who we were calling, see who we were messaging, watch our video chats, find out which blogs we subscribed to, and which ones we read and at what time. Now they know what questions we ask, what medical symptoms we have, where we plan to go on vacation, how much time we spend online, where we shop, what we buy, how we manage our finances, what our house looks like, what we type into documents, what videos we watch, what videos we make, what services we subscribe to, and

every.

single.

thing we do online.

If real people were doing all of these things to us, we would freak out, call the cops, change the locks, and reevaluate our online security strategy. We would feel that our identity had been compromised and that our privacy had been violated.

How could we let this happen? It’s as if some overly friendly robot is dishing out ice cream sandwiches and jelly beans while we gobble them up and beg to go for a ride in his pretty white van with child like primary colored letters painted on the side, which oddly enough, has no windows.

It’s all good at first – you’re riding in the van eating jelly beans and ice cream sandwiches…high-fiving the robot and acting all sugar drunk, when suddenly the van stops. The side door slides open with an eery rolling rumble, and a weird guy in a suit grunts and climbs in the van. He smiles and then proceeds to Schmidt all over you. That’s right, I said he Schmidt all over you. Not like that, you weirdo… I mean that he Schmidt all over you just like he Schmidt all over Steve Jobs. Yep, I’m talking about a guy named Schmidt. He drives you around town and Schmidts you out to total strangers for money. He doesn’t give you any of the money though. He just flips you an ice cream sandwich or a jelly bean every once in a while, so you eat it and smile. You convince yourself that it’s not so bad. After all, you get to ride in this weird van and kick it with a robot, so you decide to let this guy Schmidt you out for the rest of your life. Solid plan, bro.

I guess by now you’ve figured out that I’m talking about Google. I can’t possibly be the only one who finds their business strategy of quietly mining and selling your data big brother style while presenting themselves as Neverland Ranch 2.0 to be disturbing.

Our lives are online. We have become our data, and our data has become us. If you own the data, you have captured the life. According to their terms of service, Google basically owns whatever data you enter into its services. A fair question to ask is, “At what point does Google own you?”.

Oh Wait.

Sent from my Gmail account

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CES: The Best of The Best, as The Lights Dim… (Wrap-Up)

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and while there may not have been many high profile products announced (in fact many claim there was no clear “Best of Show”), this years CES brought a ton of awesome new gadgets just the same.

As there was not much activity on Day 3, the final day of the show, I decided I would highlight some of my personal favorite announcements – the best of the best – from throughout the week.

Google’s Android Style Guide
Although it isn’t really a product per-se, the Android Style Guide was released to developers on Day 3, and aims to help them in creating and designing beautiful apps for Android using the new style conventions introduced with Ice Cream Sandwich. The style guide is available now on Google’s Android Developer portal.

Windows 8 tablets
Intel, along with a few other companies, showed off some prototype Windows 8 tablets at the show. I must say, Microsoft is on a roll with their Windows products lately, following up the awesome Windows Phone 7 with the equally new and unique Windows 8. It features the same gorgeous Metro UI of WP7, and aims to provide an experience tailored for touch input, as well as the conventional keyboard and mouse. Microsoft has promised a beta of Windows 8 will be released in February.

Nokia Lumia 900
I’ve recently become a big fan of Windows Phone 7, and if you’re looking for the iPhone or Galaxy Nexus of Windows Phone, look no further than the Lumia 900 from Nokia. The first LTE offspring of the Microsoft / Nokia deal, the Nokia Lumia 900 is described by company CEO (and fellow Canadian) Stephen Elop as “the first real Windows Phone”. It’s a gorgeous device that features an 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss shooter on the back, and a beautiful 4.3” display on the front.

LG’s 55 inch OLED TV and LG’s LM series 1mm bezel TV’s
LG pulled out the big guns at this years CES, showcasing a 55 inch OLED TV that The Verge states was “making love to our eyes”. LG also announced the LM series of TV’s that feature a tiny 1mm bezel. They are absolutely stunning, and all of these models will be arriving sometime in 2012.

Samsung Smart TV
This wasn’t necessarily one of my favorite products, but it is an interesting one nonetheless. Samsung announced a new Smart TV that the user can control using, yes, their voice. Wasn’t there another company rumored to be working on a voice-controlled television? Oh yeah…

Sony Xperia S
Sony’s first Android phone to debut sans-Ericsson was the Xperia S. It’s a cool looking phone that actually features a transparent plastic strip along the bottom which functions as the antenna. Neat! Unfortunately, it’s still running Gingerbread, and it is skinned, though not as heavily as some of Sony’s previous Xperia devices. This one will be hitting AT&T in the US soon.

Vizio’s all-in-one computer and thin-and-light laptops
Vizio, known mostly for their line of discount TV’s, unveiled their first foray into the personal computer market at CES. Their new all-in-one features a very modern design, announced alongside matching peripherals including a keyboard, external trackpad, and subwoofer. The all-in-one also features an HDMI input, meaning you could hook up a Blu-ray player or game console to it and essentially use the monitor as a TV.

Vizio also showcased a line of thin-and-light laptops that they insist are not Ultrabooks! Vizio says their new portables match or outdo Intel’s Ultrabook specs. The laptops are gorgeous for Windows machines, and feature the same modern and sleek design as the company’s all-in-one.

Canon PowerShot G1 X
Canon launched the G1 X, a camera with the power and performance of a DSLR, but in the body of a point-and-shoot. The $799 camera features a 14.3 megapixel sensor and a non-interchangeable 15.1-60.4mm zoom lens. The G1 X is meant for photographers that already own a DSLR, but want something more portable to carry around that can provide the same superior image quality. The G1 X is one sexy piece of kit, though a little out of my price-range…

And that is the best of the best at this year’s CES. Thanks for joining Current Editorials on our look at CES 2012!
Links via The Verge and Engadget.

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Microsoft’s resurgence to prominence

Originally published on ReadWriteWeb

The last two months in the tech world have been abnormal to say the least. Steve Jobs resigned, Google bought Motorola, Microsoft showed off Windows 8 and now uses ARM, Google now uses Intel, the AT&T and T-Mobile merger is on the brink of falling apart, HP stopped making mobile products after spending over $1 Billion dollars last year to start making mobile products, and Microsoft took a page out of 2013 in the Apple product roadmap, announcing an OS that works on desktops and tablets. Out of all these stories, Windows 8 may indirectly have the most impact over the next 5 years. Read on for more.

Remember those analysts who said Windows Phone will surpass Android by 2015, and everyone said they were crazy? They may be right. This may have been the smartest move made by Microsoft since putting Office on a Mac. It may have been designed this way, or not, but Microsoft just threw a big wrench in Apple and Google’s product roadmap. It may even cause delays for the giants. Let’s start with Apple.

Apple has been moving toward one OS since the release of the iPhone. With the release of OS X Lion, and every new iteration of iOS, we see bits and pieces of a coordinated attempt to bring users into one OS. With Lion, it became pretty clear that Apple would like a touch-based OS to run on all of its devices. This dream may have been pushed back.

Apple has been taking the slow and steady approach, with every release adding new features to OS X that closely resemble or mimic iOS designs and capabilities. Many believe that the merger would happen in 2013, with iOS 7 and OS Cougar, or whatever feline they decide to name it after. But that would mean that Microsoft, with over two years of developer input would have a substantial head start in the game. Not that Apple cares — but as they saw with Final Cut — professionals that use Macs will need time to get used to it, time that Apple doesn’t like to give out. Professional users, which make up a large majority of Mac users, like stability, and stability takes time. Whenever the developer version gets released — a few months before the full product launch as usual — Apple will have to have something substantial that Windows 8 doesn’t already carry (yes, it’s that impressive) for the hundreds of millions of users that it is sure to have. Apple will surely meet that criteria, but Apple likes to release features over time, as we have seen with the iPhone (copy & paste, Wi-Fi syncing, etc.). Maybe, for the first time this will change. Apple usually takes a good idea and drastically improves on it, when it can, while making it easier to use. With the early glimpses of Windows 8, drastic improvements may be necessary to maintain its dominance.

Android may be in more trouble than anyone. With developers not making as much money on Android as iOS, horrible tablet sales, and the widespread forking of the OS by Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  and a host of Chinese companies, Google may have to rethink its open source policy for future OS releases. Windows Phone provides an economically sound alternative to developers instead of Android. Windows 8 blows Honeycomb tablets out of the water, and it’s on a device that it wasn’t made for. Users like simplicity and compatibility; Windows 8 provides both. Microsoft may have accomplished something that only Apple has been able to do so far; bring in people who would have never used a tablet, to purchase their device. When you can tell people that using your tablet is the same as using their computer at home, you have some serious potential.

Apple and Google may have been taken aback by the quality and design of Windows 8, but rest assured they will respond accordingly. Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich will be released in the next few months, with a promise to unite the tablet and phone OS. iOS 5 includes most major features that Android fanboys and jailbreakers have been clamoring for, plus new features like iCloud and a reported Nuance-powered voice command system. But Microsoft has done some astounding work. Maybe HP knew something we didn’t. Microsoft will release Windows 8 in late 2012, with an App Store, à la Apple, with over a year’s worth of developer input. Apple and Google’s Mobile OS will have many improvements by then, but the race will be on. A couple of months ago I wrote an article, stating RIM and Microsoft needed each other to become the third power in the mobile world. Microsoft doesn’t need anyone. They have done it all by themselves.

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