James Bond never had to deal with this Little Black Dress, nor Maxwell Smart, though this seems more up Mel Brooks and Buck Henry’s avenue of comedy. Fashion design company CuteCircuit (London) has announced their upcoming M-Dress. This stylish number is actually a stylish number because it is also a cell phone.
Pop in a SIM card into a connector behind the label, and you can now receive calls. Apparently, the dress really rings, and one can imagine the market for ringtones for something like this. (ZZ Top comes to mind.)
To answer a call, just lift your sleeve to your ear, and the dress recognizes the gesture and connects the call to the tiny microphone and speaker pair near your wrist. Lower your arm to hang-up.
Calling out will be limited to a few programmed numbers, although why they don’t integrate voice dialing I have no idea.
Expect to make long distance off-the-cuff remarks with this intriguing but totally frivolous couture in 2011.
I love smartphones and mobile computers. Surfing on an iPhone, Android or iPad is amazing.Many organizations and individuals have made their websites more mobile-friendly to accommodate the explosion of mobile devices now on the net. There are various ways to do this, including one way that makes me want to wring their whiny little pencil-necks.
Some build an entirely new site with mobile in mind. A tiny bit of code senses a mobile browser, then redirects it to a different site or sub-domain of the current site (e.g.: m.whatever.org ), which is usually hosted on the same server but in a different directory. The mobile versions of sites are less complex so they will load faster and work better on tiny screens. Some are optimized even further to take advantage of certain platform-specific display doo-dads.
Some sites are too simplified, however. They lack any interesting visual cues, and are mostly text. Works great for older phones and mobile devices, but are often dismissed by users of newer equipment.
There are times when you want to see the full site. This is especially true if you have a mobile browser capable of doing it justice. And, let’s face it, mobile sites often do not have everything the full site does.
Behold – the mobile surfing trap – a box canyon with no way out other than the way you came in. You get directed to a mobile site that has no ability to go to the full site. No matter what you type in, you are directed to the HOME PAGE of the mobile site. And if you arrived from a link on another site, too bad. That part of the link is effectively chopped off, and you’re redirected back to the mobile home page again – a place where you often can’t get there from here.
Ah, but then there’s the maddening variation: the mobile site that DOES give you the link to go to the full site. Hooray! You’re saved. You click on it, some slight-of-hand happens in the address bar, and you wind up right back on the mobile site because some retarded programmer didn’t write it properly to remember your answer. And, some retarded QA person didn’t test it. And, some retarded product manager doesn’t care. This is the worst of all, and I have reserved a special place in hell for them.
There’s an interesting, relatively new mobile payment system out there called Square. With the aid of a tiny plug-in credit card reader dongle that fits into the audio (earbud) port of a iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android smartphone, a merchant can swipe credit cards and process payments without the need of a merchant account.
During the transaction, the merchant has the option to additionally annotate the transaction with text and a picture. The customer signs for the transaction on the device (using a finger or stylus), and enters their email address for the receipt to be sent to. That receipt will include a map of where the transaction took place, with the GPS coordinates (presuming the device is so-equipped).
As I said, there is no merchant account required. Additionally, there is no contract required, no monthly fee, and no monthly minimum. Both the card reader plugin dongle and the account setup are free. For Card-Present transactions, the fee is 2.75% + 15¢. For Card-Not-Present transactions (which means you key the number in, as opposed to swiping the card), the fee is 3.5% + 15¢.
Let’s compared this to a regular merchant account: a merchant account will typically start at 2.9% + 30 cents for both Card-Present and Card-Not-Present transactions (but as you build up both history and volume, those rates go down). However, setting up a merchant account through a bank usually incurs a set-up fee, and there can be monthly minimums to meet or additional fees may apply (these are banks, after all). Plus, those little credit card readers are additional, some as high as $150. Square’s value becomes quite apparent. But let’s look at numbers.
For a $1.00 item, a swiped card transaction with Square will net the merchant about 82 cents. Of course for a $100 item, the net is $97.10. For a merchant account at a bank: 67 cents net for $1 charge, and $96.80 for $100 charge. As you can see, that hard 15 cents versus 30 cents per transaction makes a big difference on small items. Plus, since a merchant would likely amortize the additional costs of having a merchant account, those nets are actually smaller.
The reason for the Card-Not-Present transaction rate being higher (3.5% vs. 2.75%) is all about risk. When the card is present, the likelihood that the true owner is using it is much higher than when the credit card information is used without the card. Another way Square is mitigating risk is with disbursements: only the first $1000 will be placed into a merchant’s account immediately throughout a month – any amount above that will be deposited in the next month. Why do they hold on to your money? In case of chargebacks and fraud. Think of it as enforcing good merchant accounting policy. Square claims this restriction is temporary, until a merchant builds up sufficient history with them. Some of these techniques may change in the near future as Square is presently wrestling with the issue of how to handle risk management.
The fact that this is aimed at smaller merchants that typically transact small amounts (e.g.: street vendors), the rates are quite manageable. And when you factor in the reduction in hassle is considerable, Square could be highly desirable.
By now you’ve probably heard of Steven Slater, former flight attendant for JetBlue, that apparently snapped while be verbally accosted by a low-rent passenger just shortly after the plane landed. Slater got on the loud speaker, said some choice words himself, took a few beers, pulled the emergency slide chute, and slid off the plane. No matter how you cut it, 10 points for style.
What is also amusing is the fact that the lamestream news media has picked up on it, no doubt the result of interns trolling Facebook for stories and memes. In fact, Slater’s Facebook fan page now has nearly 40,000 members. The news is reporting Slater’s online celebrity more than the details of the event itself.
I can only hope that somewhere in a small town in Oregon, DB Cooper is watching this and yelling at the TV, “Dammit, I was first! My plane was still in the air when I jumped! I got away with the money! Maybe I should’ve taken beer, too!”
What the media has so far missed is why the public seems so supportive of the flight-attendant-gone-wild. This isn’t a Robin Hood story, it’s a Howard Beale story. The loss of civility in society is what made him mad as hell. Honestly, had he decked the petulant passenger, he might have been made King for a Day. I can see it – 150 passengers watching in admiration when the pilot bursts out of the cabin and asks, “what’s going on here?” 150 passengers all whistling in unison.
File under the topic of “be careful what you sign.”
It seems that while under the employ of another six years ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg signed a contract that allegedly gives one Paul Ceglia 84% ownership of Facebook. If true, that little stunt could give Ceglia 84% of a company estimated anywhere between $22 and $100 billion.
In 2008, Zuckerberg settled a case where former Harvard classmates sued Zuckerberg because he used code for Facebook from a project they all were working on.
According to Bloomberg news:
A lawyer for Facebook Inc. said she was “unsure” whether company founder Mark Zuckerberg signed a contract that purportedly entitles a New York man to 84 percent of the world’s biggest social-networking service.
Paul Ceglia sued Facebook and Zuckerberg in state court June 30, claiming that an April 2003 contract entitles him to ownership of most of the closely held company. Ceglia’s lawyer produced a copy of the document for U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara today at a hearing in federal court in Buffalo, New York.
Apple’s iPad has gone from tech media curiosity to mainstream phenomenon. Many smarty-pants pundits predicted Apple would sell about 3.5 million in 2010. Electronics industry research site iSuppli is predicting that 2010 will see 12.9 million units sold, and 36.5 million iPads will be purchased in 2011. Yeah, I said 36.5 million iPads sold next year.
Despite missing a few desirable things such as external storage options (USB or an SD card slot), a webcam, or a specifically-targeted set of reasons to actually own one, the iPad is a rip-roaring success.
If you consider that as of April, 2010, Apple has sold over 85 Million iPhones and iPod Touches (this doesn’t include the iPhone 4 or iPad), you can see that iOS-based devices are the main focus in the foreseeable future for Apple. Remember Apple Computer, Inc.? It’s now just Apple, Inc. Remember the Macintosh? Steve Jobs thinks they’re trucks, particularly the desktop models. Apple is building cars and motorcycles. There are now well over 100 million iOS devices out there.
The iPad has certainly reignited my interest, and apparently millions of others. According to iSuppli:
“The iPad is shaping up to be the ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ of the 2010 holiday season, with product demand expected to vastly exceed available supply,” said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research for iSuppli.
To drive continued sales growth, Apple undoubtedly will refresh the iPad’s features in April 2011. Likely additional changes will embrace an internal camera and expansion of the product line, potentially including additional screen sizes.
Nonetheless, with nearly 84 percent share in 2010, Apple’s iPad virtually owns the market, and the device is expected to dominate at least through 2012.
In comparison, much of the competition delayed launching rival offerings following the iPad debut to allow time to reconfigure products.
Whether you’re interested in a better reading experience than your tiny smartphone can provide, or a developer wondering if this is a flash-in-the-pan, it appears that the iPad has both reinvented tablet computing and built a commanding throne for itself.
Why the attraction? The bigger screen for surfing and writing. I can tell you personally that reading on the iPhone has gone from a novel experience to a pain as the amount I read increases. With such a small screen I feel no sense of where I’m at within the piece I’m reading, especially with larger works like PDFs. And, I’m not even into eBooks, yet. But I think there is a deeper reason for its mass adoption: simplicity.
On the iPad, there are no viruses or spyware (yet), no software installation hassles, no configuration management issues, no new manuals to read, and no stupid pop-ups telling you about this error or that. In short: it’s a dumbed-down computer. As a so-called computer expert of 30 years, I am whole-heartedly in favor of this. I’m sick of hearing my various computers bitch or panic about this or that, or one application intrude while I’m working on another. Hey, Acrobat Reader updater: STFU!
PCs (Windows, Macs and Linux) have become so complex, that you’ll never fully understand what’s running on them from second-to-second, or why error number 0x800432b has just occurred. Since most of these machines are sold to non-experts, it’s folly to think that they are being properly maintained against external attacks or internal abuse. They’re just too complex, and the iPad represents a product that understands this. It’s not just a better reader/surfing device, it’s a safe haven.
2010 was foretold in March as the “Year of the Tablet.” Too bad almost all of the guests have tripped over and injured themselves trying to get to it.
I have read article after article about tablets being delayed, projects on hold, or canceled altogether. Notion Ink’s Adam (by far the best tablet) is delayed, Dell’s whatevers are not quite ready; but soon, real soon (they’ll likely suck anyway). And HP’s Slate was 86′d because they realized what was obvious to many of us tablet users of recent years — that Windows is terrible for tablet computing.
There’s about a dozen or so projects either in trouble, dead or in molasses. The best case scenario for any serious competitor to the iPad is Q4. 2011 is much more likely.
By the time these other rocket scientists get their wares into the market, Apple will have learned much, established itself as the market leader, and will likely have released iPad 2.
Someone threw a party inaugurating the “Year of the Tablet,” and only one nicely dressed, mildly capable guest showed up. He’s no MacGuyver, but in a kingdom of empty chairs, he’s the best guy at the dance.