Google Home

Problem with Google Home:

  1. It only works with one Google account. That’s like….how does this even pass first use scenarios. I have two main accounts myself that I use all the time, with a host of other google accounts that I use on and off. And of course, entire household means that number doubles. Phones are great at managing multi accounts, this device Needs to do that too.
  2. It works with a few category of services:
    1. Streaming music subscriptions – expensive monthly fees i dont have.
    2. smarthome lightbulbs etc – i think i cant hack this into my current lodgings.
    3. questions and answers. phone can do this fine.

…sheesh.

Google Home

Pixel

https://medium.com/@punitsoni/motorola-done-right-ba025a362765#.h27qzx7q5

  • A couple of people rightly mentioned that one of the key issues was the lack of marketing. Consumer hardware marketing is a different beast. Google did not really back the phones from Moto with real marketing dollars. Hopefully this is being fixed now with the marketing cost being baked into the cost of Pixel.

It is universally recognised that the Google Pixel (2016) is easily $100-200 higher priced than the Nexus series of phones, bringing it from great-value hardware and software, to top end priced hardware, seriously on par with Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s flagship S7 series.

Still, it is definitely obvious that the Nexus prices were deliberately pushed down to make them super crazy affordable, much lower profit margin than any normal series phone made by HTC/Samsung/Motorola/LG/etc/etc. That’s why it made sense to order a Nexus phones import it from USA versus buying a local phone set.

Now, with the higher pricing, they can build in marketing costs, retailer margins, distribution etc such that the product that you buy off the shelf can be sold at that price. If you don’t realise, most off-the-shelf goods have like 30% shop markup compared to their costs. It’s all the brick and mortar shop rental, staff, ancillary costs. That’s why people went to buy things online where these costs can be taken out and discounted.

A higher Pixel price also means that it can go into telco plans, where telcos get some overhead, where there are effort and costs expended into licensing the phones for use in each local country etc etc. These things all cost money and we used to get around it. That will dramatically help the distribution, and more ‘normal’ people will be able to get the Pixel on their contract plans, from their telcos, instead of paying $1000 to order and ship a phone ownself halfway round the world, instead of buying it off a dingy mobile store. Yeah 99% of normal folk would not do that with an expensive phone. Also, warranty overheads.

Marketing is nice in some ways. Eg if I pay $1000 for a Pixel, people would recognise this phone, they would Know what this is when they see it and they would appreciate how good the software is, and how it compares to their bleh Samsung. (although I can appreciate how fast and smooth some of the new Samsung phones are.)

I hope people trade in their Note 7 for a Pixel, hahaha.

Pixel

Is Pokemon Go real?

The interesting question came up because Pokego differentiates itself from most other games because it is

  1. So visible: You can see people out there playing it. You see them walking about and running around. You see them on their phones and you see their phone screens and you see them flicking their fingers.
  2. Pseudo Augmented Reality (AR): There is a whole debate about whether Pokego is proper AR (much less VR), but one definite interesting thing about the game is that option of using the phone camera to find, display and catch the Pokemons. It makes it look as if the Pokemon is actually out there in front of you. A cool trick.
  3. So mobile: The players have got to move around, they got to move to different places on the map by walking, driving, taking public transport etc. It feels like the Pokemons are actually at particular locations. But are they really? Or are they just anywhere on the virtual map, on a virtual screen, no more really on location than they are actually on a real physical map.

So this begs the question of is the game real, are the Pokemons real, are they really there at locations around the world?

Or could you simply spoof (falsify your phone location) around and just as “physically” be there?

Frankly the answer is that it is no more real than any game out there. It is no more unreal than any console or PC game. You move your wii controller and the racket swings, you move your mouse a few inches and your gun raises, you press a button and you walk forward in game. Simply put the GPS-enabled location of your phone acts as one of the controllers of this game. The code calculates your movements in metres, tracks your location against the server map, calculates how far you walked and awards you points. The difference here is that you walk one metre in reality, you move one same metre in game. 1:1. No shortcut keyboard  button to amplify movements.

It would be a cool philosophical question: if someone made a fake map of the world, with fake things on it, what changes?

Is Pokemon Go real?

Duo

https://duo.google.com 

The newest app released by Google. Day 1: lots of fuss by people who weren’t aware that Duo, at the current iteration is mobile-only, single device-only, mobile number-based, single person call-only.

Undoubtedly it is quite a bizarre app to be releasing in 2016, when most apps have loaded on tons of features, logins, web+mobile platforms, etc etc. It is really pared down to the simplest form possible on a mobile device. That must have been a really tough call to make, all the way to the top. When all the features and engineers and servers and resources are available to you, and you choose to take it out of the app, that’s quite a move.

I think Google is perhaps targeting a different audience – “the next billion users”. Duo isn’t just simple, it’s specific. It seems to fit really well into the developing countries market. These users have their main identity tied to their phone number. That’s their business line, that’s their contact point, that’s their identity. People remember other people’s phone number. They have poor 2G, 3G networks. They have a single weak mobile phone, not iphones and S7s. They don’t have main email or google addresses – that’s not how they share identity. They don’t have multiple phones, tablets. They don’t multitask in front of the laptop daily – they are laborers or farm workers or village folk. I am generalizing here, but it seems like Duo could really reach this audience instead of solving video problems for first world countries that already have Hangouts, Skype and Facetime. By having this new generation grow up (internet wise) on Duo, Google could have a potential move here. But of course this audience is also deeply into WhatsApp and other lightweight number-based IM platforms.

Who knows? Let’s see if it catches on.

Duo

hk typhoon nida

A work trip to HK, where we encountered a surprise typhoon warning upon landing. My first typhoon, and it really disrupted the meetings schedule.

Cool to see how organized the city was at dealing with their seasonal weather. Shops and businesses close down, schools close, public transport close, harbor closes, the stock exchange closes, the HK observatory updates everyone hourly, everyone seems to know how the weather will likely be in a few hours time. It didn’t seem to hit as bad. 400 trees down, 50-145km/h winds, minor flooding somewhere, alot of cancelled flights, a mess at the airport. Generally not as bad as it mainly hit from 2am to 10am, and you just sleep through most of it unless you’re out for some ungodly reason.

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hk typhoon nida

Nextcloud

NextcloudNew medal unlocked: managed to log into Nextcloud (Owncloud).

After two days of repeated wrangling with the installation and NFS share, I finally got the past the access permissions error that kept being thrown up.

Perhaps another blog post to come on detailed working config.

Still yet to get a LetsEncrypt cert and public URL.

Nextcloud