Tag: trends

What makes that smartphone a “selfie” smartphone?

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 press picture courtesy of Samsung

The calibre of the front-facing camera on a smartphone may determine its selfie prowess

Over these past months, smartphone manufacturers and the technology press have been going on about smartphones that are described as “selfie” smartphones. But what are they and what is this trend?

Like most of the consumer-technology companies, these companies are pitching the products at young people who are wanting to take many “selfies” which are pictures of themselves. This is mainly to provide the pictures that can be thrown up on Facebook, Instagram or other similar social networks or used as “avatar” images that are used to identify people on many games, instant-messaging and social-networking services.

Most smartphones have a front-facing camera along with a rear-facing camera but, in a lot of cases, the rear-facing camera has higher photo-taking abilities than the front-facing camera. This is because the front-facing camera has been purposed primarily for videocalls using 3G, Skype or similar services and has a resolution that usually maxes out at 3 Megapixels. As well, the lens systems in these cameras typically is a fixed-focus lens that may not yield good-quality pictures.

Some people get around this by typically having someone else take a picture of themselves using the rear-facing camera. This may range from another person in their group taking the picture or them roping in a stranger to immediately become familiar with the phone’s camera app and take that group picture. Or they may use other tricks like using a mirror or using the phone at arm’s length to take a rough shot.

What these “selfie” smartphones are all about is that they have a front-facing camera that is optimised to turn out high-quality still pictures along with logic to make the act of taking these pictures easier. The cameras will typically have resolutions of at least 5 Megapixels and, in some cases, there are some phones emanating from China that have 2 13-megapixel cameras. The lenses in these cameras even are optimised to take the best selfies by using a wide-angle design. Some of the Android phones implement camera logic to take improved shots with the front camera like removing blemishes for example or managing the rear camera to take those selfies like implementing a self-timer.

Personally, I would look towards using whatever post-processing functionality like cropping to get the picture right before tendering it to that social-media site because you may not get the framing right. This is more so if you are using your device’s rear camera to take these shots and you don’t have the help of someone else to take that picture.

The current direction for computing versus the Post-PC direction


So What Ever Happened To Post-PC? | Gizmodo

My Comments

What was the “Post-PC” vision?

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 press picture courtesy of Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – an up-and-coming Android smartphone

The 2000s era saw the use of larger computers for regular Windows-based or Macintosh-based computing. Steve Jobs who was Apple’s visionary leader talked of the “Post-PC” era with computing centred around mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone and “cloud+app” services which benefited from data held at one or more data centres and accessed using a lean client-side app running on the mobile device.

Current trends

Mobile-platform tablets

But current trends are leading towards mobile-platform devices like the recent iPads and Android tablets having the increased capability, and running more of the native apps with increased local functionality. Some of these apps can even run under their own steam without the need to regularly gain access to data.

Regular-platform computers being more compact, powerful and portable

9mm fanless tablet concept with regular computing power - Press image courtesy of Intel

9mm fanless tablet concept with regular computing power

The regular-computer scene is heading towards equipment that is more compact, powerful and portable such as an increased variety of portable form-factors like the Ultraboooks and the convertibles or detachables. Even the desktop computers are becoming more compact with baseline equipment that is the size of a large book or an increasing number of “all-in-one” computers where the computing power is located in the monitor like the iMac.

Gaming laptops and mobile workstations

Some manufacturers have released laptop computers that are best described as either “gaming laptops” or “mobile workstations”. These have been highly optimised for performance and highly-responsive graphics that is required of highly-advanced graphics software or “full-on” games. Previously, this class of performance was only relegated to desktop computers but is showing up in the portable class of computers.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro convertible notebook - as a tent card

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro convertible as a tablet

It is augmented with steps being taken to improve quality control when it comes to writing games for regular-computing platforms. This was because of issues relating to games studios turning out inefficiently-coded games that needed more to run or Apple and Microsoft not becoming proper gatekeepers for quality-control logos that affect game software.

A return to the late-1980s multiple-platform computing era

What was the late-1980s multiple-platform computing era?

The late 1980s microcomputing era saw the presence of multiple computer platforms in wide circulation: DOS/Windows/OS2 (IBM Compatible), Apple Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, Apple II and Atari ST. Different people preferred the different platforms for particular applications like having DOS/Windows for business-information-handling, the Apple Macintosh for desktop-publishing and the Commodore Amiga for gaming, desktop-video or interactive-user-interface design.

The multiple platforms that exist nowadays
Dell Precision M2800 Mobile Workstation courtesy of Dell USA

Dell Precision M2800 – an example of a mobile workstation

Now, we are starting to see the same number of regular and mobile computing platforms in circulation: Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, Linux, Google Chrome OS, Apple iOS, and Google Android. The mobile platforms, especially Google Android, are being implemented in a desktop-style user environment with, for example, Philips releasing monitors that can run as standalone Android computers. Similarly, the Apple iOS and Android tablet platforms are appealing as platforms for baseline secondary computing tasks through people equipping tablets with USB or Bluetooth keyboards.

As for the hardware, we are seeing equipment that is based on the Intel x86/x64 microarchitecture or the ARM RISC microarchitecture with some specimens of both microarchitectures moving towards 64-bit variants of that microarchitecture. Some of these platforms are even showing up with hardware that has impressive graphics and gaming prowess such as the NVIDIA Tegra processors and the newer Apple processors for the mobile platforms along with Intel and AMD integrated-graphics systems that can stomach intense graphics work for the regular computing platforms.

Philips S221C4AFD Smart All-In-One Monitor - press image courtesy of Philips

Philips Android-driven monitor

It is becoming increasingly common for households to become less “pure-play” when it comes to choosing the platform they use for their computing devices. For example, I have seen an increasing number of households use a Windows-based desktop or laptop along with an iPad and either an iPhone and/or an Android smartphone.

Business computing is facing this reality with having to implement “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) information-technology solutions and utilise “mobile-device-management” solutions and “corporate app stores” to assure that these devices are working to spec for secure computing in the workplace. It is also a challenge that is facing schools, airlines, hotels and others who are providing computer resources for the general public.

I do see it as a pity that Apple doesn’t seem to play properly and smoothly with other platforms, rather users either load up their Apple devices with apps that “bridge the gap” by offering DLNA functionality for example, or work around the various incompatibilities by using cloud services for example. Similarly, peripheral designers have to make sure their devices do pair properly with the Apple devices along with the Windows or Android devices that may support advanced paring techniques like NFC.


It is so easy for one computer visionary to determine what is to be the “status quo” but as the industry evolves with different computer devices and platforms and makes these devices and platforms more capable, it is hard to really determine what is to happen for consumer and business IT.

Do you think we will end up with the smart watch on our wrists?


Why You’ll End Up Wearing A Smart Watch | Gizmodo Australia

My Comments

With the increase in smart watches being developed by various companies including Google, Apple and Samsung, there has been optimism and doubt about whether we will start wearing these watches on our wrists.

What is the smart watch?

The smart watch is an extended-function watch that works with a smartphone as a wrist-based display for the phone. These watches are in a similar vein to the 1980s-era digital watch where the more functions it had, the more you could impress others with it. In a lot of cases, these functions served many practical uses like being able to time a process or log the duration of events like races.

It would tell the time using a customisable analogue or digital display but would be able to show up notifications from your smartphone. As well as being the clock, calendar, stopwatch and timer, it could also work as a remote control for your smartphone such as navigating the music that you are playing, selecting a contact to call or text or answering a call while you hear and talk to the caller via a Bluetooth headset. Another advantage that these would offer would be the ability for us to have a discreet glance at the watch if a message comes in on our phone.

Some doubters suggested that the smartwatch wouldn’t take off because of the fact that most young people don’t wear watches anymore. Instead they use the smartphone to tell the time or, if they have to have a watch, they would wear a quartz-driven dress watch. Of course, I would expect to see the smartwatch be considered as a wearable accessory to the smartphone and can evoke a level of curiosity from other people as we wear one of these watches just like it did with the digital watch.

What I would expect of the smartwatch would be to make use of Bluetooth 4.0 and similar technologies so it can run for at least 6 months on regular watch batteries. This is in addition to having a ladies’ form factor with similar functionality but appealing for the women to wear.

As well, it should be able to keep time independently of the host smartphone device yet use that device as a master clock for setting itself when initially started and when you cross time zones or whenever we change between standard time and daylight-saving time.

Personally, I would see these watches come on the scene as a viable practical mobile accessory for our phones rather than just a fashion accessory.

How can the Occupy campaigns and cloud computing help the small or midsize business


HP Blogs – How can Occupy Wall Street and Cloud Computing hel… – The HP Blog Hub

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The recent “Occupy” movements, which were assisted by the Social Web to create the critical mass, had an intended effort to highlight the resource disparity caused by big business to ordinary people, and small and midsize businesses.

This occurred at the same time that consumers and small-to-medium business were made heavily aware of the concept of “cloud-computing” and computing-as-a-service. In some ways, this can assist in making certain computing services that would be out of the reach of the 99% accessible to this group rather than the 1% which represents the “big end of town”.

When I visited the “Big Picture Experience” computing conference that was hosted by Microsoft in Melbourne this past Wednesday (AEDT), there was a lot of emphasis on this kind of cloud-computing and computing-as-a-service to effectively make a flexible workforce. Applications that were promoted included shared-document management and unified communications; with these applications linking to the business via Internet connections.

They even proposed that small and medium business who can’t afford their own servers have this functionality by renting these services from other companies in a similar way that we can rent disk space for our Web sites from Web-hosting companies like GoDaddy. It is also in a similar way to how some small business operators can work out of a garage yet are able to rent a self-storage lockup from Fort Knox or Big Yellow for storage of extra goods or hire a competent truck form Budget or U-Haul when they need extra trucks.

These concepts can open the door to the feasibility of smaller operations expanding without costing them an arm and a leg. It is because it could allow concepts like telecommuting or shared-desk business, which could lead to reducing the physical size of the business’s premises.

Cloud computing and computing-as-a-service can open up “big-business” paths to smaller operations. Examples of this may include hosted archiving-for-compliance or access to sophisticated business systems and practices like multi-tier loyalty programs for independent business.

This kind of computing can then become the big tide that lifts many boats up and yield flexibility across business sizes. In some ways, it could allow “big-business” hopes from small and medium business owners.

What is this private cloud functionality being touted with NAS devices?

Netgear ReadyNAS - the heart of the personal cloud

The NAS as the heart of the personal cloud

I am seeing increasing reference to the “cloud” concept in marketing literature for consumer and small-business network-attached storage devices by their vendors. It is typically talked of in the concept of a “personal cloud” surrounding the NAS device and is used across the product range.

Examples of this include Western Digital’s My Book Live NAS, PogoPlug USB file servers and Iomega’s “Cloud Edition” NAS range.

What it is about

This feature is primarily about an easy-to-establish remote-access system for the NAS device so you can gain access to the files on this device from the Internet. The manufacturers tout this as an alternative to storing data on public-cloud file-storage services like Dropbox, iCloud, Windows SkyDrive or setting up private FTP or HTTP access to the data-storage facility your ISP or Web host may provide.

It is based on the NAS having vendor-supplied software to link with a cloud-based service that makes it easy to locate on the Internet even if you use a regular dynamic-IP Internet service. The vendor may supply desktop and mobile software to facilitate this discovery and / or establish a user-subdomain or directory name that is part of their “remote-access” service domain.

Of course, your data still resides on the NAS with the vendor’s service cloud being the Internet-side discovery link for the device. As well, all of these personal clouds use encryption of a similar standard to what is used to secure your Internet-banking session.

This idea has been existing for over the last few years with vendors providing their simplified remote-access solutions for their NAS products but they are using the current emphasis on cloud-computing technology as a marketing tool for this functionality. This is in a similar vein to how online services have been marketed using the cloud term even though they use this concept.

How can it be taken further

Currently this cloud concept is being exploited further with smartphones and tablets by the NAS vendors providing free data-access apps on their platforms’ app stores. Here the apps allow the users to use the mobile device’s user interface to transfer the desired data between the NAS and the device’s local storage. Some of us would see it as a way to offload picture data from the smartphone to the DLNA-enabled NAS or pull down important data to the smartphone or tablet.

Netgear is even working with Skifta to provide remote access to media content on its ReadyNAS units and allow a PC or Android phone to share the content from the remote ReadyMAS device with DLNA-compliant AV equipment.

The Iomega solution is implementing the Personal Cloud concept as a backup and peer-to-peer replication setup; as well as a remote-access method. But as more manufacturers get on the bandwagon, there may be the issue of providing a vendor-independent “personal cloud” in order to encourage competition and innovation.

What should my network have

The network has to have a router that is set up for UPnP IGD functionality at its network-Internet “edge” for the cloud-based remote access to run properly. This will apply to most retail and ISP-supplied routers, but you may have to make sure this function is properly enabled.

You don’t need to have a fixed IP address or a “DynDNS” program running on your equipment to have this personal cloud operate because the vendor-supplied software on the NAS takes care of the location and access function. But it should have a reliable Internet connection and you may want to put the NAS and network-Internet “edge” equipment on a uninterruptable power supply to assure high availability even with rough power supply conditions. It may be worth reading this article that I wrote about keeping “sanity” on your home network during periods of power unreliability if you want to keep that personal cloud alive.

But avoid the temptation to use a Wi-Fi wireless connection to connect a NAS to your router, even if the NAS does have Wi-Fi connectivity. Instead, connect it to your router with an Ethernet cable, so you have reliable operation.


In the context of the consumer or small-business network-attached storage system, the “cloud” feature is simply being used as a way to describe a simplified remote-access environment for these devices.