Posts tagged ‘cool’
January 27, 2010
Everyone does product rollouts, but no one does them quite like Apple – and today, we’re going to get one more example.
Just a little bit of hype ...
The tech world is a-twitter – literally and figuratively – over today’s mysterious meeting in San Francisco. Apple sent out crytic emails last week inviting the press to “come see our latest creation” – and you know that’s better than crack for the Apple fanboys and tech media alike. Let’s face it – when’s the last time you saw USAToday hyping a product launch from Dell … or HP … or any PC brand. Today’s event is likely to be bigger than most, however.
First, and most important, it should be the first time most of us have seen Apple CEO – and corporate compass – Steve Jobs since he returned from a leave of absence for medical treatment. When last we saw him, he was pale and gaunt – looking every bit the cancer patient he was rumored to be. Since he returned to the Apple Cupertino campus, he’s been said to be as busy as ever, and an active part of the development of the product expected to be released today.
And the product? All signs point to Apple’s version of a tablet computer – but you just know it won’t be your typical tabled. Informed sources say it will be a 10-inch unit running a beefed-up version of the MacOS that drives the iPhone. In fact, several interviews this morning with corporate partners seem to have spilled some of the beans, confirming that current iPhone apps will run on the new machine. Expect it to have Wi-Fi and possibly 3G connectivity, as well as enhanced multi-touch interfaces. It will no doubt sport a soft keyboard, but it will be interesting to see how Apple uses the additional real estate afforded by the screen size to improve the concept.
More important than the hardware, however will be the way Apple intends it to be used. Tablet PCs are nothing new – versions have been available for a decade. But they’ve always been one of those products that seemed directionless – no one really knew what to use it for. That’s where Apple can really shine – they’ve been masters of not only providing new products, but reshaping the niche in which the product resides. the iPod didn’t introduce the world to digital music, but it – and the iTunes store – revolutionized how we listened to music and watched movies. Similarly, the iPhone wasn’t the first so-called “smartphone”, but it was the one that convinced the masses go get on board. How – and what – will the iSlate (or iTab, or whatever the decide to call it) push the envelope?
At the same time that the boys in Cupertino have been hammering out the hardware design, the lawyers have been working with different media companies to secure distribution rights. Apple sees their new tablet as the opposite of a personal computer – this is a device to be shared … the ultimate media device. It will be used to watch movies and television, of course, but also read newspapers, magazines and books. Apple has long been a favorite of schools, and this device could see use as a way to replace textbooks. They’ve even shown it ot the folks at several major gaming companies to demonstrate its capabilities as a gaming device. Everyone keeps looking for the “iPhone killer” – Apple may just have the “PSP/Kindle killer” …
Frankly, it’ll be good to see Steve Jobs back on stage in his black turtleneck, stopping just before leaving to say, “Oh … one more thing …” and blowing us all away one more time.
More to follow …
January 26, 2010
Looking for a little oneupsmanship with the boys in the golf foursome? Ever thought about owning your own private plane? Well, have I got a deal for you – a low hours Airbus A320 that can be yours for little more than salvage costs! Of course, you’ll have to clean the mud and goose guts out of it, and assembly is definitely required …
As you may have guessed, the plane in question is N106US, the Airbus A320-214 airliner skillfully landed in the Hudson River last year by Chesley Sullenberger. When last we saw it, it was on a barge headed down to river to parts unknown. Now we know that unknown destination is a salvage yard and a sale being managed by Chartis Insurance. But before you whip out your checkbook, you may want to read the terms and conditions …
Sale of the listed aircraft is “AS IS/WHERE IS.” We make no expressed nor implied warranties for the condition, fitness for purpose, value, airworthiness or operation of performance of any kind whatsoever, whether in contract or tort in respect to the sale of any aircraft salvage. The buyer acknowledges that they have had the opportunity to inspect and evaluate the aircraft before submitting their bid.
OK, so maybe it’ll cost a little to haul it back to the mansion, but what a conversation piece! Imagine a desk chair made from Sully’s captains seat, or a multimedia room made from the fuselage … why the possibilities are endless!
Don’t wait … operators are standing by …
December 11, 2009
I’ve got a couple of friends who will find the following entry quite distateful, so you might as well step away from the keyboard now …
Living in SoCal, I have lots of friends who are crazy about sushi. It’s only been lately that I’ve dipped my toes into that world of cuisine, however, and one thing is immediately obvious – it takes talent to get it right. I mean, anyone can slap together some fish, rice and veggies and wrap it in seaweed, but it takes an artist to do it right … not to mention really fresh ingredients.
So it was with a little trepidation that I saw this little article about a new Japanese import coming to America – the sushi robot. To be honest, the machines don’t entirely replace the sushi chef, but rather automate some of the tasks – creating the perfect rice ball, for example, or rolling the perfect maki roll. The target is large institutional users who need to crank out mass quantities of sushi – cafeterias and supermarkets, for example.
“Behind the scenes, it really helps if you’re catering and outsourcing,” Tsuchiyama said.
All this is meant to meet the needs of Americans’ burgeoning sushi appetite.
“Sushi is trendy,” Tanaka said with a laugh.
The United States has about 10,000 Japanese restaurants, according to a 2006 report by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The number of these eateries increased by 250 percent in a decade, the report says.
With a third of those Japanese eateries here in Cali, you can see why both AUTEC and their major competition are based in Torrance, right next to the Home Office here in Redondo Beach.
An interesting aside is that today’s AUTEC is yesterday’s AudioTechnica. If you had a turntable in the ’70s, I’ll guarantee you had an AudioTechnica cartridge on the end of the arm. With technology leaving the record in history’s dustbin, AudioTechnica needed to adapt, and the AUTEC sushi robot was born!
Personally, I think this is a great idea, but if you’re getting your sushi from anywhere that needs to use this technology you’d better rethink your eating habits …
December 9, 2009
From the beginning, Apple has had a knack for eye-catching – and sometimes eye-popping – products. You don’t like to throw around terms like “iconic”, but that’s exactly how to describe the series of products that have come from the minds in Cupertino: Macintosh … iMac … iPod. Even the ones that didn’t catch on, like the Lisa and Newton, were years ahead of the rest of the industry – often, to their own detriment.
From the moment it was introduced – hell, for a year in advance of introduction – everyone knew the iPhone would change the cell phone as we knew it. The first cellphone with a real operating system and real applications. That gorgeous screen and the seemingly magical touch capabilites. It was a winner from Day One, despite significant shortcomings. There’s a whole lot of iPhones out there right now, and I’ll bet it’s the only mobile phone you can name by it’s brand.
Well, maybe not any more. For years, people have been looking for an “iPhone-killer” only to be disappointed (hello, Palm Pre?). But it’s possible that the first legitimate challenge to the iPhone has arrived in the form of Motorola’s Droid. Powered by the Google Android operating system, the Droid can do pretty much everything the iPhone can, and then some. Elegant operation? Check. App Store? Check. But wait … there’s more! Seamless integration with Google apps? Check. Freedom from the lame-ass AT&T network that every iPhone user (and this BlackBerry one) is saddled with? Check. A real keyboard? Check and check!
I’ve yet to actually see one, but the reviews for the Droid are lavish. To be honest, I think a lot of them are driven by nothing more than the thrill that someone has finally gotten it right – or, right enough – and can legitimatelly challenge the iPhone. But it’s gotten people’s attention, not the least of which the legions of Apple FanBoys who are rabidly defending their brand. And even TIME named the Android their “Top Gadget of 2009” (with the latest iPhone 3GS coming in #4) – although, it’s probably worth noting they also named “The Princess and the Frog” their top movie, pretty much calling the whole deal into question …
I’m not saying that the Droid is the do-all, end-all – it has many of its own shortcomings. But for the first time, you see websites advertising their Android app alongside – and in some cases, instead of – their iPhone app. This is the one that will force Apple to step up and make real upgrades to the iPhone – starting with allowing them to be used on a network worthy of the platform. When they do that, I just might become another FanBoy iPhone owner. But if they don’t take the challenge seriously, they might just become a museum piece …
November 10, 2009
Just about every blogger on the planet’s going to write about this today, so I might as well join the parade.
Forty years ago today, the world met a bird. It wasn’t just any bird, however – this bizarre yellow beast was the vanguard of a revolution in children’s programming. On that morning in 1969, Big Bird and company introduced the world to their neighborhood – a place called Sesame Street.
Sesame Street may be a mainstay of early learning today, but it was a pretty radical proposition when it started out. Born from the idea that all children deserved a chance at early learning – not just those whose parents could afford preschool – Sesame Street started out teaching basic skills. Over time, though, subjects were broached that you wouldn’t find anywhere else – tolerance, inclusion, even death were broken down in a way that a child could absorb. Backed by the power of PBS, Sesame Street and their most famous residents – the Muppets – survived every attempt to curb the message.
Over the years, the Street became a cool place to hang out, as rock stars and royalty showed up to introduce letters and numbers to young viewers who often had no idea who the presenter was. Today, as part of the 40th anniversary show, no less than the First Lady, Michelle Obama, will pay a call to Sesame Street to mix and mingle with the locals.
I was about 5 years too old to appreciate Sesame Street, being 10 when it premiered, and I always felt myself the poorer for it. Sesame Street showed the world that children were just as capable as anyone to deal with serious issues if presented with respect and understanding. Here’s hoping the next 40 years are just as happy as the last!
November 5, 2009
One of the genuine treasures of Southern California is the annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses. Now in it’s 121st year, the world-famous parade will roll down Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s morning, followed by the Rose Bowl that afternoon. As part of the Bowl Championship Series, the Rose Bowl will also play host to the BCS Championship Game a week later.
Each year, the tournament organizers choose a theme for the event, followed by the selection of an individual to serve as the Grand Marshall who exemplifies the concept of the theme. The theme for the 2010 parade is “A Cut Above The Rest,” and yesterday the grand marshall was named – someone who personifies that theme about as much as you possibly could: Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of USAirways Flight 1549 who last January successfully splash-landed his Airbus in the Hudson River.
Sully’s a low-key guy who seems genuinely bemused by all the attention he’s received in the months since his famously short flight. He recently returned to flying after dealing with all the press associated with the accident, and has a book and Discovery special in the works. As far as I’m concerned, he’s earned every honor and perk that could come his way – and this is just one more.
After riding in the parade, Sully will toss the coin at the Rose Bowl, and presumably a week later at the Championship Game. He’ll be surrounded by the best that college football can produce – and they’d all be well-advised to take a moment from their own attempts to gain fame to look at a man who’s genuinely earned it.
November 3, 2009
Those of us who have felt a void ever since the demise of radio’s Indie 103.1 back in January have reason to celebrate. Steve Jones, one-time guitarist for the Sex Pistols and host of Indie’s flagship show “Jonesy’s Jukebox” has returned to the air.
For five years, Jones and his unique approach to radio provided a glimpse of just how good an entertainment medium radio could be if only given the freedom to experiment. Dead air air and miscellaneous bodily noises competed with awesome music and the kind of guests that only a rock icon coudl pull to create a show that was totally unique. And who could forget Jonesy whistling his favorite tunes and asking listeners to guess the song? Good stuff, until the suits pulled the plug.
Jonesy is once again on the air, this time back in his homeland. His new show, “A Months Of Sundays with Steve Jones“, runs on BBC 6 on Sundays. Fortunately for those of us on this side of the pond, his shows are streamed over the Internet – and available on demand!
The Sire of Wilshire has returned … long may he reign!
October 7, 2009
I have the utmost respect for anyone who uses words to make a living. Whether a novelist, correspondant, screenwriter … or even blogger … the ability to communicate to the masses amazes me. I like to think I have some skills, but I recognize that my humble efforts pale when compared to a true professional.
Perhaps even more impressive than the ability to craft a stream of words is the challenge of doing it on demand. The grind of daily content production required to serve a daily column, whether print or online, must be stifling to a creative personality. I know it’s a pressure I feel often, never more so than during the fall period when this site is at it’s most active.
My goal is to publish an MarlinBlog entry daily, every week day. I take a little break over the Christmas holiday to recharge, but it’s seldom enough. Sometimes, the well just runs dry – as it has now. I take pride in the quality of the content I provide, and I’m not willing to publish just for publishing sake, so rather than burden you with gibberish, I’m going to take a little break. I need to focus on wrapping up some updates to other parts of the site, and a couple of other issues in my life, and temporarily relinquishing the burnen of the MB will give me the freedom to accomplish that.
It won’t be a long break – we’ll be back on the 19th. Rest assured that I’ll return with wit and pith intact, and we all know that the idiots who are our fellow humans will provide ample fodder for my renewed offerings.
See you on the 19th …
October 1, 2009
I travel a couple of times a year for The Company – not enough to think of myself as a travel “pro,” but enough to appreciate some of the challenges that business travel can pose. For me, the worst part of the experience isn’t the long hours on airplanes, or missed connections, or boring meetings. The worst part for me – and, I suspect, many of my fellow travelers – is the expense report. You get done with that long trip and pull out a stack of crumpled receipts, hoping that somehow it matches what’s been billed to the corporate card. And should there be a discrepancy? You’re screwed – until now.
Clearly, I was multi-tasking in NYC - not hanging out at the bar.
Maloney & Porcelli is an upscale steakhouse in NYC popular with businessmen, so they know a thing or two about the value of receipts. They obviously know a little about marketing, because they came up with one of the most creative webapps I’ve seen yet – Expense-A-Steak! Spend a little more at M&P – or anywhere else, I guess – than you’d planned and wondering how to expense it? No problem – just tell the app how much you spent and it’ll gin up some fake receipts. It even presents them to you in the “I’m trying to squeeze them all onto the copier plate” look our Finance Department is used to. As the boys at Guinness might say – brilliant! In fact, I think on my next trip I just might have to give it a try …
September 29, 2009
Good news for all you business flyers – Sully’s back!
Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, hailed as the “Hero of the Hudson” for his skillful emergency landing of a USAirways A320 airliner on New York’s Hudson River last January, will return to the cockpit after the first of the year. He’s getting a well deserved promotion, too – he’ll be serving as a “management pilot” and will be part of the airlines’ operation safety management team.
“The months since January 15 have been very full, and my family and I have had some unforgettable experiences,” Sullenberger said in a prepared statement. “However, I have missed working with my colleagues at US Airways and I am eager to get back in the cockpit with my fellow pilots in the months ahead. In my new role, I will continue to be the same kind of advocate for aviation safety that I have been for several decades.”
If you saw any of the many interviews with Sullenberger after the incident, you already know the cat’s as cool as the back side of the pillow. This is just the kind of level-headed, even-keeled leader you want in your cockpit and your boardroom, and kudos to USAirways for having the good sense to allow him to keep flying.