My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Archive for the 'Opinions' Category

Out and about with Apple Watch

June 22nd, 2015 | Category: Life,Opinions
Apple Watch, now with the Classic Dutch Leather Buckle Band

Apple Watch, now with the Classic Dutch Leather Buckle Band

So, before Father’s Day Dinner my brother and I went to the Apple Store to pick up a new band for my Apple Watch. If I had any actual gripe with my Watch it was with the included Sport Band. See, I have very sensitive, new-born infant-esque skin, earned through thirty-four years of no manual labor, and exposure to the sun only when absolutely necessary. Personally, I prefer to describe my skin as “vampiric.” At any rate, yes, I have very sensitive skin that did not get along with the Sport Band.

First off, the Sport Band’s rubbery material, especially in black, made my wrist very hot, and itchy. I always had little blotchy spots of heat rash.

Second, the metal clasp left a cut on my arm after wearing it for only a few days. I’m not above suffering for fashion, but this was a bit much, and a rubbery watchband isn’t exactly high-fashion.

Fortunately, in true Apple-style, changing bands is elegantly simple, no jeweler with tiny tools required. I chose the Classic Buckle type of band, and left the store wearing it. Though I have the low-end Sport body, it certainly doesn’t look “low end,” everything Apple sells is art that happens to be technology. No matter the watch body, all the bands look well-suited. My leather band, Dutch leather band with a swanky stainless-steel buckle, looks like it belonged with my Aluminum Space Gray Sport body all along. The leather itself feels so decadent, so soft I hardly feel like I’m wearing anything at all.

If you got a Sport Band and don’t like it, or maybe just want something a bit more sophisticated, the Classic Buckle is a fine fashion upgrade for your Apple Watch.

While we were out, we also got the Watch paired to the car audio-system via Bluetooth. It took some tinkering, but after that, it worked beautifully. My music sounded spectacular, it just seemed so cool to have Aimee Mann, Nirvana, Elliott Smith, Alanis Morissette, all my favorite artists playing in my car through my WATCH. It’s so BADASS! Also, it’s really neat that when leaving the vehicle the music stops, then picks up right where it left off when the vehicle is started again.

I enjoy my Watch a little more every day, and I only see that like growing stronger as watchOS and its ecosystem of apps continue to evolve.

Oh, and I’m so not done writing about the Watch and wi-fi… At least, not until I’ve made one more post, or three, or twelve…

1 comment

Wrong? Unpossible!

June 18th, 2015 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, according to this, my bit of Apple Watch prognostication is totally stupidly, mind-blowingly wrong.

Part of it doesn’t make sense to me… The article I linked says, next year Apple will release a 2nd generation Watch with its own wi-fi chip, thus eliminating the iPhone go-between… Doesn’t the Watch have a wi-fi chip RIGHT NOW? It can join previously used wi-fi networks WITHOUT the iPhone being present.

If the watch has a wi-fi chip, and it DOES, isn’t it capable of independent use if the OS allows?

Really, if I’m wrong, comment.

Am I stupid?

2 comments

Apple Watch: Supposed Short Comings

June 16th, 2015 | Category: Opinions,Thoughts on Technology

So, when Apple Watch was announced, I kept hearing, “I’m not going to buy a first-generation gadget for $350, let alone $17,000, I’ll wait until the second version comes out next year.” I didn’t buy into that sentiment. The simple fact that a $17,000 iteration would be available told me that we almost certainly wouldn’t see new Watch hardware next year, or the next, or the next. If people paid $17,000 for a watch, only to have even a somewhat better version ship a year later, it would hurt Apple’s most valuable asset, our trust in their brand. When you buy something with the Apple logo on it, you know you’re getting quality, and you know it’ll be plenty useful for many years to come. Generally, you also know that your $400 device, or even $1200 device still won’t be the best of the best for very long. The Watch, however, felt like a totally different proposition. It struck me that, whether you buy the lowest-end $350 Apple Watch Sport, or decide to go all-in with the $17,000 Apple Watch Edition, the Watch’s internal specs are EXACTLY the same. The Edition isn’t the fastest, it doesn’t do anything the sport can’t do. If you buy the top end Apple Watch Edition, you’re getting an 18k gold case, a sapphire glass face, a sexy leather band… you’re paying for the epitome of style, sophistication, and elegance. I also believed from the moment the Watch was announced, up until right now, and including many tomorrows, that you’re paying for an unspoken promise, the promise that your solid-gold, sapphire glass, sexy leather masterpiece is going to be the best of the best for awhile.

All that said, at first glance the Watch does seem kind of underpowered, How could Apple NOT ship an upgrade, like, yesterday? Why buy any model if it’s hobbled? It requires an iPhone to set up the Watch, the iPhone has to be near the Watch to do anything internet or telephone related, most of the Watch’s apps run on the iPhone while the Watch displays the processed results, the Watch can only hold 2 GB of music, and so on. According to plenty of “professorial reviewers” the Apple Watch is a DOOMED device. At least, it was until last week, when Apple confirmed everything I’ve been thinking all along. At Apple’s annual World-Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple CEO, Tim Cook, took the stage to announce that watchOS 2 would ship this Fall, the Watch’s first major software update. Suddenly, all those “professional reviewers” are walking back their cries of DOOM.

See, hardware-wise Apple Watch is plenty powerful, absolutely powerful enough for everything needed of a Smart Watch. Its supposed short-comings are all in software, a fact that became clear to me after spending five minutes with my Sport model. Yes, I had to sync with an iPhone to set up my Watch, but the iPhone I used didn’t have cell service. An iPhone without cell service is basically an iPod Touch, meaning the Watch could be opened up to sync with ANY iOS device and run as a pure internet device without cell service…. like a Touch. I synced my 2 GB of music, yet the watch has a remaining 6 GB of storage. Another “short-coming” easily adjusted via a software update. These changes may be in watchOS 2, but if not, I won’t flip out, these tweaks are only a matter of when. We do know watchOS 2 will address one giant roadblock in the way of making Apple Watch self-sufficient, the lack of native apps. watchOS 2 will fix that lack. Apps will no longer require an iPhone to do the heavy lifting, they’ll run entirely on the Watch, AND they’ll be able to connect directly to the internet. Much less iPhone go-between. Were native apps the only feature introduced in watchOS 2, it’d be a big deal, but it’s really just part of a long list of features. watch OS 2 is just a first step toward Apple Watch realizing its true potential. I see Apple Watch becoming self-sufficient, only requiring a nearby iPhone for phone calls, as it is with Macs, and iPads.

Unlike other Apple devices, I see Apple Watch evolving through incremental software updates rather than hardware upgrades. The base hardware is already strong enough for some time to come, innovative software will make it shine. Apple won’t break its $17,000 unspoken promise.

Of course, I could end up totally wrong about everything, but I feel right enough.

2 comments

Chasing butterflies!

June 05th, 2015 | Category: Life,Opinions,Random Thought
So many faces…

So many faces…

I still prefer my flowers… I think.

Tomorrow, I test my Apple Watch with a car audio system…

1 comment

Apple Watch is here!

June 04th, 2015 | Category: Life,Opinions
Apple Watch: An Elegant Face

Apple Watch: An Elegant Face

So, I got my Apple Watch, and it’s spectacular. As far as time-pieces go, it’s like owning a dozen watches in one. A watch’s personality, smart or analog, is its face. No matter a watch’s bells and whistles, its face gives it character, and the functionality that sets it apart from a sun-dial. Apple Watch comes with a variety of different faces, everything from a 3D model of the solar system that plots planetary allignment, as well as date & time, to the iconic Mickey Mouse face, with Mickey pointing out the hours and minutes. I tried them all, but settled on something of simple elegance, a face called, Motion. Whenever my watch awakes from sleeping, a gorgeously rendered flower opens from shy bud to full-bloom, with a crisp digital display of the time and date. Clean, sophisticated, beautiful, my ideal time-piece. To keep things interesting, a different flower comes alive whenever the Watch wakes. Now, some may be questioning my masculinity at this point, which is not a problem for me. A fellow can enjoy flowers!

Of course, the Watch does a zillion other things… I’m experimenting still.

2 comments

Letter to Chuck

June 03rd, 2015 | Category: Life,Opinions,Random Thought,Thoughts on Writing

Dear Chuck Palahniuk,

Could you please, please for the love of the tiny infant Christ, stop writing stories in faux broken English. It’s jus not funny, it’s boring, and annoying to read.

“The reality agent, she persist on promenading Randy through the futility room, the pouter room, a walled-in closet, the reckless nook, the tedium room, and the nifty home offense, when Randy already be sold.”

Like, we get it. The “reality” agent rather than “realty” agent, selling commercial plastic reality to the masses, the sheep. Mass media is for the proles, it’s dull, empty, too low-brow for intellectuals, anarchists, anarchist intellectuals, hence the “media room” becomes the “tedium room.” Shocking. Shocking satire. I’m just bl- Oh, wait, these ideas are in almost everything you’ve ever written, faux broken English doesn’t change these ideas, doesn’t make them exciting again.

I know you can use our craft, I’ve seen you do it. If your use of craft is strong enough, recurring ideas, recurring themes can work. Look at Franz Kafka, Michael Cisco. Kafka could always write bureaucracy turned personal Hell, Cisco can always write fever dreams, abstract nightmare translated into words, because of a strong, commanding use of craft. Faux broken English isn’t the way to go, it’s not a use of craft, it’s a waste. You realize we can only write so many words before we quit breathing, that the number is finite, not limitless? That being so, and it is so, why waste so many?

Michael

1 comment

CHAPPiE: An interesting parallel

June 01st, 2015 | Category: Opinions

So, I saw CHAPPiE, the story of a robot given something akin to life, true Artificial Intelligence. Overall, it’s a fount of missed potential. It really could have been something great, the potential was so right there, but in the end, it was all just a sad waste. I don’t want to get into a full review, it’s not worth the writing. I’d rather write about the essence of an idea that I found interesting.

In the late 1940s or early 1950s, Alan Turing was sort of waxing romantic about “machine intelligence,” and how you might teach an “electronic brain.” He wasn’t being absolutely serious, but he talked about giving a machine wheels for locomotion, video cameras and servo-arms for input, speakers for output, and allowing it to “roam the countryside.” He was just thinking about the fact that learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum, that we’re the sum of our experiences. We have things done to us, do things to others, and we learn. He spent a lot of time thinking about how one would educate a machine.

In CHAPPiE, some gangsters get ahold of CHAPPiE when he’s basically a child, and that doesn’t suit them. They want to use him for crime, particularly one very large robbery a few days hence. They need CHAPPiE to “grow up,” fast. So, they trick him into a car ride and dump him off to, well, “roam the countryside.”

It’s an interesting parallel.

2 comments

Okay, I can’t let this go (Turing spoiler)

May 30th, 2015 | Category: Opinions

Okay, I don’t generally post spoilers, however, I feel like I have to make an exception. Alan M. Turing’s good memory is involved. See, I worry that The Imitation Game is going to be how pop-culture is going to remember him. I mean, it’s a fucking “biopic,” right? If you saw a critically acclaimed film about Alan Turing, that’s pretty much the same as reading his biography, isn’t it? No, it’s not. Not in this case. I figure, if at least one person who saw The Imitation Game and thought it was the last word on Alan M. Turing stumbles onto this post, I did one good thing in my stupid life.

Now, all that said, if you haven’t seen The Imitation Game and you want to be shocked by its shocking ending, okay, STOP READING RIGHT NOW. REALLY, NOW, RIGHT NOW. I’M NOT FUCKING KIDDING, STOP FUCKING READING FUCKING NOW. Also, if you’re going to read his biography, do stop reading.

Alan M. Turing was a genius… That’s pretty much the only aspect of The Imitation Game that’s 200% dead on accurate. Most of the film is fiction, mostly harmless. Mostly. The end is not harmless. The end is an astonishing disservice to his memory, so that’s where I’m going to focus.

Yes, Alan was gay, but aside from his WWII working life, he was openly gay. For the times, he was courageously, or perhaps naievely openly gay, but open nonetheless. This worked out okay during his Cambridge years, a pretty liberal place in the 1930s, 40s, and even 50s, but after Alan left Cambridge for life in “the real world,” 1950s Manchester, it caused problems. Being gay in the 50s was not easy, in fact, it was illegal. Being outted could mean prison, even hard labor… or worse. See, in the post-WWII world, people looked to science to solve society’s every ill, and science answered the call. Homosexuality was gaining favor as a mental illness, not just a moral weakness, something science felt especially equipped to solve. The lobotomy was proving to be an inelegant solution, and the physical castration that was popular in America didn’t actually guarantee an end to sexual activity, but the world of chemistry seemed to offer a world of solutions. One particularly promising solution was chemical castration, the injection of estrogen in males seemed to eliminate the sex drive so long as it was regularly administered. Awesome. Yay junk science!

So, in 1951, Alan, having gained self-confidence in his early 40s, picked up a fellow, and soon enough, took him to bed. The fellow told some friends Alan was a spectacular target for burglary, being fairly wealthy, and gay. Being gay made one very open to blackmail, as being gay was a crime. However, when Alan’s lover said, yeah, I told some people about us and they probably robbed you, Alan went straight to the police and reported the crime. He left out the affair, of course, but didn’t fear the law. Unlike in the film, Alan’s neighbors didn’t report the robbery, while Alan tried to get the police out of the house as quickly as possible. The police also figured out the other “crime” pretty easily, and Alan promptly confessed, writing a five page statement. Alan was an adamant believer in personal honesty. He kept state secrets, but never personal. Of course, his five page statement rendered his defense impossible. His friends stood up for him publicly, and he was ultimately offered a choice between one year in prison or one year of “organotherapy” (hormone therapy/chemical castration). Yes, he had friends. He definitely wasn’t a social-butterfly. He loathed social fakery, and would easily walk away from someone mid-sentence if he found them intellectually lacking. Nobody would ever say he wasn’t really eccentric, but he had several close-friends, he wasn’t the socially incapable, extreme Autism-spectrum loaner as he was in his “biopic.” At any rate, he chose the organotherapy.

See, this is the part of the film that really upsets me. In The Imitation Game, Alan Turing in the midst of his hormone treatment is depicted as a doddering, weepy shut-in, delusionally building a computer named, Christopher, that he was teaching to be “so smart.” He had muscle spasms so severe he could barely hold a pen, and ultimately committed suicide because he just couldn’t stand the pain. The thing is, none of that happened! It’s such a shabby way to remember someone so brilliant. A tireless visionary, a kind and able friend.

Hormone injections had many possible side-effects, but Alan didn’t seem to suffer them. He joked in letters to friends that he grew breasts, but otherwise, he maintained his usual English stiff upper-lip. He survived the year apparently unscathed. He never stopped working, never stopped thinking.

Yes, his first true friend and unrequited-love was a school-mate named, Christopher, but he never built any such computer. Alan designed a theoretical computer, a “universal machine,” later coined the “Turing Machine,” that would ultimately be akin to the computers of today. He talked about computers being governed by “programs,” believed that it would be possible to create a machine that could approximate human behavior. He is the father of Computer Science, he envisioned things that we are only just starting to achieve today. He believed in “thinking machines,” but had no misconceptions about the computers of his day, he knew they weren’t yet capable of what he created on paper. Still, he pushed the technology of his time as far as it could go.

Yes, Alan committed suicide, in 1954, well after his organotherapy. The truth is, nobody knows why he did it. There are theories, but really, none seems more likely than another. I only know it didn’t happen as depicted in The Imitation Game.

Alan Turing was very much the Steve Jobs of his generation, he knew computers would change everything. His vision would eventually became reality. His story isn’t sad because of weakness, because society broke him. It didn’t. It isn’t sad because almost none of his accomplishments were recognized in his lifetime. He didn’t care about recognition, you don’t get into top-secret war work for the accolades. The sadness of Alan Turing’s life is that the Empire he helped save from annihilation treated him as “abhorrent,” labeled him as filth. It’s sad that he couldn’t love and be loved in every sense of the word, freely, without risk of punishment. It’s sad that, unlike Steve Jobs, technology was 50 years behind Alan’s ideas, not ready to explode around them.

Don’t remember Alan Turing weeping over some imaginary computer, think about him smiling from ear to ear knowing that his ideas would be the foundation for entirely new branches of study, knowing that I typed this on what could easily be called a Turing Machine. Maybe he can see such things from where he is, maybe, if he’s anywhere. I hope he is, he thought about such things too. Like I said, his mind was endlessly in motion.

3 comments

Alan M. Turing: More than a maths brain

May 28th, 2015 | Category: Life,Opinions

I’ve certainly noted before right now that I am astonishingly bad at math. It’s absolutely not my bag. The problem below is all smoke and mirrors, fancy looking, but easy enough for a chimp to figure. I’m not a maths brain, not by any stretch of the term, not like a true maths brain, Alan M. Turing. Though, after reading a biography by Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma, it’s plain that Alan Turing was so much more.

Alan Turing recently resurfaced in the public spotlight due to a highly acclaimed film adaptation of his life, The Imitation Game, which I really enjoyed… until I read The Enigma and realized his life was so much bigger than manufactured Hollywood drama.

I actually don’t want to say more, knowing nothing about his life only makes the discovery of his accomplishments all the more profound.

5 comments

Ex Machina

May 17th, 2015 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, I saw Ex Machina today and it was absolutely stunning. Don’t worry, I don’t write spoilers, ever.

This isn’t a full-review, I just have to say, right now, Ex Machina is totally one of the best films about Artificial Intelligence I’ve ever seen. It’s intimate, intense, sensual, provocative, terrifying.

I’ll do a full review, but just go see it.

3 comments

Next Page »