Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The TV Experience in the 21st Century

I have been watching the increasing focus on creating a centralized entertainment hub with set top boxes from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Microsoft, and other less established players for years. Though even with the new content options my family still often struggles with what to watch. I recently read the great article in Techcrunch by Tom Goodwin called the Future of TV isn’t Apps, which I thought gave a good voice to my issue.

As the article states well, while the set box has changed the experience remains largely unchanged save for the content being on demand. Content is still organized into different silos (i.e. channels) and you often need jump between different apps to watch the shows you follow. Apple’s TV app they announced earlier this fall and released earlier this December attempts to tackle the issue through interconnecting different content apps into a single interface. The app allows for a single search interface that combines results from across different providers. Though it relies upon the willingness of the different content providers to allow access to to their content via Apple’s service and those same providers have an invested interest maintaining the link between content and channel: brand. Providers like AMC or HBO have spent significant time and money to build a brand around premium content and want those shows personified with their brand as its how they lure subscribers to pay for their channel. Till the pricing model shifts or there is a precipitous drop in subscribers the channels will try to maintain their control over the brand. Yet as Goodwin states viewing patterns have shifted from networks to specific shows. I watch a few shows regularly across several networks and trying to figure out a cable package that covered everything was impossible.

We had been getting basic cable bundles that was essentially free via our paltry internet connection from the local cable conglomerate. As soon as a provider was offering a Fiber option we jumped into an internet only plan. We haven’t missed the cable content nor being able to watch “live” since we’ve switched plans nor do I imagine that being an issue. Our loyalty is not to a channel it is to the content; we don’t care which platform we use to consume the content only that we can see it.

It will be interesting to see the further shifting priorities between shows and channels. I can see either shows becoming more differentiated from their channels or channel consolidation between different networks and/or channel at the networks.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Switching

On Microsoft’s Windows blog they are touting the success of their Suface line with specific mention that they are growth in switchers from the MacBook in light of the recent disappointment in the new MacBook Pro. For me, I am seriously looking at my next step from a hardware perspective. I am running a MacBook Pro now and the new MacBook Pro does not entice me to upgrade. I dislike the elimination of all ports save for the USB C port and the Touch Bar does not sell me.

I may look at the the MacBook Air though that is many ways is simply stalling as it seems like Apple is no longer as invested in the Mac since the iPhone took off. There is part of me that finds this sad as I love the Mac OS and the small developer community that has been built up around the Mac platform. (That is the downside of being invested in an ecosystem fully owned by a company that owns the software and hardware stack.) I don’t really know where I can go from here in terms of platform. Windows does not appeal to me so that leaves me with options from the open source community or niche experiments like Chrome OS or staying with the Mac and hoping the hardware roadmap changes. My preference is to stay with the Mac though only time will tell.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

New MacBook Pros

On Thursday Apple is held an event where they confirmed officially the rumored/confirmed via that the release of the new MacBook Pros.

(If you’re looking for information on the laptops check out this 9to5 Mac article or Apple website)

It has been years since a new MacBook Pro and nearly a year since the latest update to the MacBook so I was excited about what they were going to release though it ended up being more iterative and less revolutionary. I think the OLED touch bar is interesting from a human-computer interaction perspective though hardly world shattering. As I have said here before though in many ways I miss the Apple of the early 2000s as they were not afraid to innovate in leaps rather small iterative steps. Now they have moved away from the Mac toward the phone and cannot afford to push too hard for fear of alienating their userbase.

Friday, October 14, 2016

the Google Pixel

Google launched their new phone, the Pixel, last week to good buzz and then an opportunity given the literal meltdown of the new Samsung Note 7. Given the turmoil at Samsung many Android users of high end phones could run embrace Google’s new offering. Though having recently watched the keynote for the Pixel again it has struck me how this is a Google trying to out-do Apple at their own game.

Everything from how the phone was presented during the event to the phone specifications seem to align to with the Apple vision for the iPhone. This is interesting as while the Nexus phones always seemed more like conceptual experiments to help show what Android is about this phone seems like an actual product and this is marks then second large software comapany to move in part to making their own hardware (the first being Microsoft) in recent times.

After the keynote I don’t regret upgrading to the iPhone 7 and there isn’t much overly compelling about the Pixel that would draw me away from the Apple ecosystem. Frankly, I think that is hardest part about making any OS switch these days: buying new apps, setting up new services as needed. If anyone has a Pixel and loves it (or hates it) I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Giving Away the Keys to the Kingdom

Last week Ben Lovejoy at 9to5 Mac wrote about Microsoft accidently leaking the super-secret code to a back door built into its Surface devices (see David Sparks excellant comments and link) as proof that Apple was right to fight the FBI when they asked Apple to create a back-door so they could unlock phones to search for evidence in various court cases. The FBI argued that Apple could simply keep this back-door information secured in their labs and no-one else need ever see the information so their would be no threat to the iPhone userbase that malicious actors would ever get ahold of the information. Apple had argued that if they were to create such a back-door then it would be out in the world and it would be impossible to keep secure for long. Microsofts seems to have proven Apple’s point at the expense of its users. I don’t pretend to have the answers to the security vs encryption debate though we are clearly in a place where the current laws and technology are at an impasse and regular users are caught in the middle.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

WWDC Keynote - Algorithms and Editors

The Apple Worldwide Developer Conference keynote for 2016 focused on improvements for their three major platforms - iOS, OS X macOS, and watchOS. As with past conferences, the next OS release builds upon improvements to performance (specifically for the watch) and also continued improvements to how the different platforms share information (Apple is clearly sending a message that if you have a single Apple device you should collect a full set for the full features). I found the most interesting section to be how their intergrating differential privacy into their future projects to compete so they can leverage what they know about each user to improve their experience while also respecting the user’s privacy^. At the same time Apple also announce a revamped Music app^^ which provides a “For You” section with music curated for you based on prior purchases alongside as radio stations like Beats 1, which launched last year alonside Apple Music and is curated via human dejays. The Apple Music being revamped the Apple News^^^ app is also being given a remodel as well as a For You section with curated stories based upon user topic selection and breaking stories chosen by Apple editors. Both developments show that Apple continues to leverage both algorithims and human curation to provide better experienes to users. (As a librarian I find the use of human curation alongside computational curation curious and rather exciting).

References:
^APPLE’S ‘DIFFERENTIAL PRIVACY’ IS ABOUT COLLECTING YOUR DATA—BUT NOT ​
YOUR DATA by Andy Greenberg (https://www.wired.com/2016/06/apples-differential-privacy-collecting-data/) Published on: 6.13.2016 and Accessed on: 7.2.2016

^^Apple Music first look: It’s all about curation, curation, curation by Christina Warren (http://mashable.com/2015/06/30/apple-music-hands-on/#cK0__RVbwSqM) Published on: 6.30.2016 and Accessed on: 7.1.2016

^^^Check Out iOS 10’s Revamped Apple News App by Julie Clover (http://www.macrumors.com/2016/07/01/ios–10-revamped-apple-news-app/) Published on: 7.1.2016 and Accessed on: 7.1.2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Breaking iTunes

I came across this great article on 9to5mac today on how the podcasts function should be removed from iTunes and made into a stand alone application. I have often thought how ITunes needs to change as it is trying to do so many things for so many people. I have advocated for seperating the media playing section from the more device management section though I thought the article made a succient case for breaking apart the different media functions into seperate apps (it would mirror the iOS at that point too, which seems to be Apples general plan.) I highly recommend you check it and would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Opinion: Whay we need a Podcasts app for Mac, not just iTunes by Zac Hall (http://9to5mac.com/2016/06/07/opinion-podcasts-app-for-os-x/) Published on: 06.07.2016 and Accessed on: 06.07.2016

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Special Librarians as Vendors

Recently Bizwomen published an article on three librarians who started a business inteligence company, Bizologie, to support the business research needs for Austin-area venture capital firms. In a traditional special library model companies would have researchers in an information center or special library to handle these requests though as the article most elequently states from one the company principals, Lindsey Schell, “small to mid-size firms cannot afford an in-house research team, but in order to stay competitive with their peers, they still need that data”. The firms need the data though needs someone with the skills, vertical knowledge, and experience to pull together the right report so they’ve partnered with Bizologie to fill that niche.

Bizologie’s success highlights how librarians have to innovate to expand their working environmental beyond traditional library settings. As I have written before, librarians are more than a building filled with books and provide valuable resources beyond simply being gatekeepers. As more librarians take on alternative roles and positions outside the library we’re poised not only educate the greater business community about value and also change the perception of librarianship within our own community.

Sources:
How these three librarians are becoming major players in business research by Melissa Wylie (http://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/profiles-strategies/2016/01/how-these-three-librarians-are-becoming-major.html) Published on: 01.27.2016 and Accessed on: 02.07.2016

Friday, January 1, 2016

Speaking About Embedded Librarianship

In past two months I have had the occasion to speak twice on the matter of embedded librarianship. Once for the SLA Georgia Chapter at a Lunch and Learn event and once for the SLA Embedded Librarian caucus via webinar (for information on slides and the presentations please see below). I enjoyed both engagments immensely it was great to connect with other librarians doing embedded work and also hear about librarians interested in emebedded librarianship.

Embedded librarianship is a topic I am particularly passionate about as I believe it is the future of the profession yet it is not often considering when many people consider library school or many employers consider in their operating culture. Most people imagine librarians sitting among stacks of books in a small brick building though organizations often have “hidden” data & information needs that are created during the business process (especially in businesses that revolve around the knowledge economy). For instance, a CRM for tracking sales leads or document repository for storing marketing proposals where having an embedded librarian can bring extensive value. I hope to continue to be able to speak on the topic and I hope to convince other librarians and organizations that having an embedded librarian can be a real asset.

Presentation: For information on the presentation for SLA Georgia Chapter please see the main chapter website. The presentation for the SLA Embedded Librarian causus hasn’t been posted yet though it will be soon.