Nimble Quotes: Look Smarter, Without Working Harder

I remember finding a copy of my father’s 637 Best Things Anyone Ever Said by Robert Byrne when I was just entering the workforce and consuming these brainy, and often witty quotes, from people as diverse as Hemmingway, Plato and Einstein.

My father used to use these quotes in speeches and talks he’d give to make his audience ponder the wisdom of the wise and famous while he shared the latest business innovation of his firm.

This is the premise behind the service we developed for our customer Nimble Quotes. Nimble Quotes is a web service that automatically tweets famous quotes on your behalf on a random or set time interval. It’s based on five very easy setup pages, that allow you to choose the categories of quotes you want to draw from, the hashtags that go along with the quote, and the pictures and colours to go along with your quotes. No need to leaf through thousands of pages of quotes to find that bon mot … Nimble Quotes has them all.

nimble-quotes-page-3

It’s a set and forget service! So along with your standard marketing tweets sharing your latest news, you get to add in some quotes from your favorite author or historical figure to add some wise words that can capture the imagination of your followers.

That’s because we quote connoisseurs all know … “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein.

Michael Porter and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

There’s a new look for the Board of Trade here in Vancouver, and with the new look a renewed mandate for regional inclusiveness. 14 Oranges joined the Vancouver Board of Trade this year and I attended a great event yesterday at the Vancouver Convention Center put on by the Board of Trade showcasing a presentation by one of the world’s foremost experts on competitive strategy in business and politics, Michael Porter. I will discuss his presentation in detail further on. The preamble to Michael’s presentation involved the unveiling of the name change, slight shift in mandate and new logo of the Board of Trade.

 

Established in 1887, the Vancouver Board of Trade has a long history of helping business grow and succeed in Vancouver not to mention influencing policy and infrastructure decisions in government. The board of directors recently voted unanimously to rebrand the organization to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, after realizing that businesses are thinking regionally and so should they. The new logo was revealed to much applause. We look forward to our continued involvement with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade in the coming year.

Brand new logo for Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

Brand new logo for Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

Michael Porter spoke for about an hour on a variety of topics related to a distinct and present competitive advantage that we have in North America. He was referring to the relatively inexpensive oil and gas we have access to, with modern techniques and of particular interest to me was his reference to BC’s liquid natural gas reserves. Many of the commonly asked questions were addressed by Mr. Porter in a way I hadn’t heard before. For example when addressing the idea that using fossil fuels is environmentally bad and that renewable energy is the way of the future, he agreed but made this point. LNG (liquid natural gas) is far cleaner and more environmentally friendly than coal, no one would dispute this, so let’s sell our LNG to China, Germany and other nations that are currently generating at least some of their electricity in highly polluting coal burning plants. I will paraphrase Michael’s summary, Canada literally has the power to lower the world’s carbon footprint.

And guess what, we would create jobs and pump money into our economy. This leads me to another point Michael made when discussing some of his previous work regarding the Porter Hypothesis which suggests that forcing a company to become greener does not make it less profitable but in fact does the opposite. Porter used the example of water recovery in fracking. Fracking is a method of extracting oil and gas by injecting water into the ground cracking the rock allowing the oil or gas to flow more freely. Fracking is controversial to say the least but it was the example used so bare with me. If a company is forced by environmental rules to recover at least 30% of the water for reuse, it is an initial burden on the company to have to find a solution to recover this water. But once the solution is found there is a 30% decrease in the cost of getting that water to the site forever. This is an easy example of course and there could be lots of discussion on it but that’s for another post.

 

The second topic that I found particularly interesting stemmed from an audience question. As a side note, the conference used a technology I had not seen before called Pigeon Hole Live. We were all shown a link right at the point in the introduction where they ask you to ensure your phones are on silent, and asked to visit it and login. Once there you were able to post a question to the organizers digitally and also see/vote on the questions other had posed. The question that was quickly voted to the top was, “Can Donald Trump negatively impact the progress that has been made on clean energy?”  To be honest the question could have been shortened to Trump? but it was on everyone’s mind, what does the clearly intelligent speaker think of what is happening in his country right now.

Porter’s answer was quite long but he tied it back to some points he had made in his presentation so well. One of the first slides in the presentation showed the median income in the US for the past 20 years. He summarized it with a bit of an I told you so where he showed the nine recommendations he made in 1990 that would have to be undertaken for the US to stay competitive in the world. Not a single one of those nine things have been put in place and the shrinking US median income is a result of the US not being competitive anymore. He pointed out to our primarily Canadian audience that in Canada we actually have many of the things on his list. He applauded our immigration policy and banking regulations to name a few.

He tied this all together by pointing out that Americans are leaning towards Trump simply because they have given the Republicans and the Democrats a shot and they just aren’t getting it done. This frustration is leading the people to lash out in response and side with a loud-mouthed narcissist (my words not his).

Michael Porter simply pointed out that if you have polarization like they do in the US right now, you cannot accomplish anything in politics and the same is true in business. Environmental factors MUST be part of the energy business these days but it cannot be the only side of the argument. Companies MUST stay competitive and profitable but not at the expense of mother earth. As we move towards renewable energy, the best way to do that is encourage the American/Canadian spirit of innovation by creating well paying jobs in a stable environment with a constant push towards being greener.

My thanks to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Michael Porter for helping me look at a few of the world’s problems through a different set of eyes.  Having studied strategy in university it was an absolute pleasure to hear his strategy for a competitive North America and how that relates to what we do every day. With all the bad press about LNG, and fracking these days, I am encouraged after hearing this presentation that it might be the way of the future … promoting a more sustainable world through strategic thinking.  Sunny ways indeed!

 

Apple vs. The FBI- An Opinion in Favour of the Feds

So the FBI wants access to all your iPhone data right..

Well not exactly. Let’s step through it.

In tangible terms they are asking a company that makes a fireproof box with a lock on it to build them a tool that would allow them to try to make a copy of the key to that box. They aren’t even asking for the master key but a way to make a key for a specific device by electronically guessing all the possible permutations of the ridges and valleys on that key.

What Apple is saying is if we build that device to make a key it will compromise the security of everyone with an iPhone. This just is not accurate in my estimation.

The FBI would have a warrant in this case for everything this guy had, including his phone. They just don’t have a way to see the data on the phone. In the case of the fireproof box they could just blow the sucker open. They just need Apple’s help to build the tool.

One thing to expand upon at this point that before I wrote this I was unaware of. If you reinstall an OS on an Apple device, unless it is connected to the computer with which you last synced your device, the data will be erased and at present there is no way around this. This is a big reason why the FBI requires Apple’s help. If the FBI plays around too much, they could wipe the data forever.

Only those with the warrant are entitled to use the tool and this seems reasonable to me. The FBI is asking Apple to build a new version of its OS to install on an iPhone that would allow the FBI to bypass the login screen limitations (timeouts, number of tries etc.) and data wiping.  Unless I am missing something… As long as only the government has access to this version of iOS AND they have obtained the device in question legally by way of a warrant I am not sure I see this from Apple’s point of view.

So here is where I think Apple got it wrong. Tim Cook should have written a private letter to the FBI saying one thing. Apple is unaware of anyway to make this happen. A simple ‘we can’t do it’ would have sufficed. Instead a big long open letter to the world has opened Pandora’s Box, so to speak.

Now here is the tricky bit. Should Apple help the FBI? I would argue yes, safety trumps privacy in my estimation here but that’s just my opinion and Apple is clearly entitled to theirs. Should a US court be able to mandate Apple builds this tool for the FBI? Again this is a subjective question. Are they entitled by law in the US to compel this tool to be built. I think we will likely need the Supreme Court to weigh in on that one but here goes…

The FBI is using the All Writs Act of 1789 – Bare in mind I am no lawyer but basically, this reads as a ‘catchall’ the courts in the US can use to force compliance when no other legislation allows them to assert their jurisdiction. They have their mandate but no way to back it up so they use this ‘trump’ card (please pardon the pun). This Act is supposedly allowing the US government to make Apple build this tool for them in the interest of the FBI’s ability to do its job and assert its jurisdiction.

So back to the open letter. Complete guess here but this will go in front of another judge and the judge is going to ask this. How does building this OS for the FBI compromise any other device that is not lawfully in the possession of the FBI?

Apple has already answered this saying the FBI is asking for access to hundreds of other devices in other cases. So what Apple already admitted they have the technology or can build the technology to make this possible. The cat is already out of the bag.

In summary, my take. If the FBI has a warrant for the phone they have a warrant for the information on that phone. That warrant has already passed the sniff test in front of a judge and as I see it, if Apple is admitting they can grant this access but won’t, they are standing on a soapbox trying to change laws. They are entitled to do this, but it doesn’t change the facts or current law as it pertains to this case. So Apple coders brew a pot of coffee, stay up all night long and get this thing built already.

My two bits.

Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay Review: A Love Story

East Coast vs. West Coast

On Jan 19, 2016 the way we order coffee and use apps was changed forever because the Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay finally launched in Vancouver. Even though Vancouver is becoming more and more of a tech hub, we still lag behind Toronto, and it’s enraging to us West Coasters. However, I shall put my technology beef aside in order to applaud the glory of the Mobile Order & Pay app because it deserves a standing ovation and a maybe NASCAR champagne celebration. I cannot say enough good things about this app and it thrills me that the hype is legitimate.

The original East vs West battle

The original East vs West battle. No doubt they would have bonded over Mobile Order & Pay

Location, location, location

I must mention that the first step to get the mobile ordering part of the app is to enable location services. Duh, right? Yes, yes it is, but not to me when I first attempted to use it. My app didn’t look like anyone else’s when I compared it with both Android and iPhone users, so I had convinced myself my phone was somehow broken. I shoved my phone in Clarence’s face because he has an iPhone and successfully used the Mobile Order app. To his credit, he did attempt to fix it, and when he couldn’t he just laughed and gave it back to me. No mobile ordering for me apparently. I persevered and instead chose to annoy more people by asking why my mobile app wasn’t working properly. Cue the install, uninstall circle of horror until I had the brainstorm (way too late) to check my location services. Sure enough, it was turned off and as soon as I turned it on, the app transformed into the Mobile Order & Pay that I knew it could. Shout out to Morgan, the greatest Starbucks District Manager in Vancouver, who upon hearing how I finally got the mobile ordering to work, politely stifled his laughter and asked incredulously “Aren’t you…kind of in IT?” YES MORGAN, I KIND OF AM. The shame..the shame is too real.

My feelings exactly

My feelings exactly

Justify My Love

Now, let’s begin. Since Starbucks is in my Holy Trinity (the others being Costco and Apple), I expected a certain level of bias on my part, but all my love is completely valid and justified (huzzah!). Apparently, the Mobile Order & Pay is only available at certain stores in Vancouver so don’t yell at me if it’s not working in your neighbourhood. When you use the app, it’ll automatically detect the appropriate stores so you will know right away if you’re able to use the app.

You can check out the store nearest you

You can check out the store nearest you

Once you open the app, you can click on the ‘Order’ section and the entire Starbucks line springs to life before your eyes. Drinks! Fancy baked goods! Overall deliciousness! You can browse the photo menu to get inspiration if you aren’t sure what you want. If you do know what you want, hit ‘Browse Menu’ and the closest store pops up (see why those location services are so handy?) and a list of drinks and food pops up underneath. The scroll shows you if an item is out of stock so you don’t end up going over and not finding the sugar cookie you wanted.

Check out all the options!

Check out all the options!

When you click on the store, you can see the fastest route, how long the mobile order wait is, and a map in case you’ve ventured out of your neighbourhood. I actually had a bit of trouble ordering a vanilla latte because I thought it would appear under the espresso drink category or when I searched the app, but it’s actually an addition to a regular latte. When I clicked on a latte, a bunch more options to customize my drink appeared. The options allow you to add extra shots, every kind of syrup known to humanity, milk type, toppings and much more. If you scroll down more you can read more in depth nutritional and allergy information.

Options galore!

Options galore!

So Much JAVA

Once I ordered my vanilla latte using the mobile order and pay, I put my shoes on and headed out the door to my Starbucks. I felt like a jerk for skipping the line and heading right to the bar to pick up my drink, but it wasn’t there. I waited a minute and then asked if they received my mobile order. They did, but apparently I was in the wrong spot as I waited for it. Someone reached behind the bar and handed me my drink and I was off. No cash, no line up and minimal human contact- it was joyous! I still maintain that I was in the right place to get my drink but the barista mockery told me I was not. However, I was the envy of all the plebes standing in line (in the 20th century) to order while I sailed out.

Exact representation of how you feel walking out with your mobile order

Exact representation of how you feel walking out with your mobile order

Round Up

The mobile app has a very small learning curve and once you get used to the little tricks, it’s so simple and user friendly. I don’t enjoy the calorie count listed for every item because I don’t need to be reminded, but I love that the app remembers your last order, so overall it’s a draw. I liked the map because my sense of direction is terrifying so I appreciate anything that can point me in the right direction. The app is so great to use that I can’t imagine other coffee shops and restaurants not implementing something similar. The Mobile Order & Pay is a slam dunk and has changed the way we interact with apps on a daily basis. I look forward to seeing how this technology will change the service industry and save relationships because you won’t get someone’s drink order wrong or be mocked when you order someone’s vanilla bullshit.

It remembers my last order!

It remembers my last order!

**It must be noted (and celebrated) that with the Mobile Order & Pay that my name is ALWAYS correct

Victory for everyone who's had their name butchered at Starbucks!

Victory for everyone who’s had their name butchered at Starbucks!

To be the envy of all Starbucks goers, download the mobile app for iOS and Android and never wait in line again! I’ll make sure to avoid eye contact when we pass by each other

One Year Married to the Moto 360 – Has My life Changed?

It has been just over one year since I decided to take the plunge and get a wearable, a Moto 360 to be exact. When I got this watch, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect but I was in serious need of a replacement for my 10 year old watch and the Moto 360 was about the same size as my old watch so I figured I should try it out.

Honeymoon

The honeymoon period was great- I just loved the watch. I was finding that I didn’t have to constantly pull my phone out of my pocket to look at notifications. I could also execute quick commands like sending a text message (I have kids that love to text me when I am driving), replying to emails and answering random trivia questions from my kids, all with ease. The speech recognition is fabulous (although it’s the same as my phone but I never got into using it on my smartphone). On a recent trip, I used it to figure out where we were and what how much time we had left (aka are we there yet?). You quickly discover that “OK Google” is awesome even though you do get a few strange looks when you are seen talking into your wrist in public, but when you’re in your honeymoon phase, you don’t care if you’re seen doing it in public. You just do it! I read lots of complaints about battery life but I pick it up from the charger at 6am everyday and by 11pm, it still had ~ 50% of its charge which is better than what my phone could do.

There weren’t too many apps specifically written with the Moto 360 in mind; however, one of my favorite apps Stocard did a really nice job with it. I can quickly select the barcode for the cards I need (usually Save On Foods, Scene card, or Air Miles) and get the cashier to scan it on the spot which is usually accompanied with a “I’ve never done that before, that’s cool!” Yes, another favourite saying heard during our honeymoon.

Realization

Much like with the 7 Stages of Marriage, it didn’t take long for the passion or honeymoon stage to come to an end. For me, it started with the promise of something better. Google released a new version which promised to allow my watch to connect to my phone over wifi instead of bluetooth. This means that I could leave my phone charging in one room but still get my notifications while watching TV in another room. I was really excited about that at first because the phone I had at the time was starting to have battery issues and required more charging. After that install, life was never the same. The bugs, the bugs, the bugs. Arggh!! Where do I start? Suddenly, “OK Google” had less time for me. It kept giving me the “Unable to Connect” error which is the techie equivalent to “I have a headache”. “But I just want to know how tall the Eiffel tower is right now. Not tomorrow!!” The next issue I got, fortunately only a few times, was that the alarms wouldn’t go off. A few times, I setup the alarm for a certain time and that time came and went and no alarm. I was fortunate enough to wake up on my own but now I am always worried that it won’t work. I don’t really want to rely on some exterior help for a basic function like an alarm clock even if I am reminded everyday with a thousand emails how cheap and easy it is to get. Good morning, good morning is how the song goes I think.   

Rebellion – Don’t Make Me Think!

Speaking of alarms, who was the bright person who decided that when you set an alarm, it needs to be set for right this minute? Before the upgrade, when setting an alarm, the watch would remember whatever the last alarm was set to, and it would be offered as the starting point for the next alarm which for most mortals is what they want to do. Now it only takes a few seconds to adjust the wheel to 6:00am the next day so I guess that’s not the end of the world but annoying nonetheless. Finally, once the alarm is set, it would be nice to know that it is so I don’t have to keep asking. Complications is what those things are called according to Apple.

Another annoyance that I have learned to live with is how to turn off Theatre Mode. Theatre Mode is a mode you can put your watch into so that when you are in a movie and you move your arm, the watch screen doesn’t turn on and annoy your neighbour. Turning it on is easy, turning if off is now strange. You go to the same screen where you turned it off and everything looks the same as before, so you tap the button to turn it back off. But, what really happened is that by going back to that screen in the first place, the watch automatically turned it off so you end up turning it on again and again. I got as much feedback here as the standard: “nothing’s wrong, honey”. It took me about three times to figure that one out so a little feedback here would have been useful.

One of my major annoyances with the UI today (come to think of it, it actually started from day one but I wasn’t really ready to admit it) are those toasts that come halfway up.

Your toast is ready

Your toast is ready

In most cases, when you have a toast, you can tap up on it to reveal the full details of the notification; however, when you are listening to music, tapping on the toast pauses the music. Pulling up on it brings the notification that is underneath. “But all I want to do is turn up the volume”. It is like that elusive G thing, you know it is there and sometimes you stumble on it but don’t ask me how.

Cooperation

There were a lot more bugs that I went through, I don’t know if I just got used to them or because I recently upgraded my phone to a Nexus 5X running Marshmallow, but most bugs seem to have settled down. Well, “OK Google” is sometimes worse and won’t even acknowledge that I exist. Other than that, things are good.

Round Up

Now it has been a year and with a few patches and compromises, I have come to (still) love my Moto 360 for the same reason as I did when I first purchased it. It’s not doing everything that it promised it would do when I first got it, but I still prefer having it as opposed to being single. Probably the biggest advantage is that it just takes a few seconds to filter the many notifications that I get during the day. My phone stays in my pockets and that has helped me reduce my smartphone addiction. Gone are the days of “Oh, I got an email, let’s see who it is from,” take the phone out and look, and then decide to reply to the next one in the list, then why not check facebook while at it … so on. Now I see who it’s from and simply swipe them away much like that barista at Starbucks that keeps flirting with me. Life is good!

New Mobile Etiquette Rules for 2016

Do you remember the simple yet complicated time when only stock brokers, Zach Morris and doctors had cell phones? You could be sitting in a restaurant and not see the majority of the restaurant staring into their smartphones, they actually looked at each other. Each other! I know, crazy, eh? Nowadays we have toddlers who are addicted to iPads and people who can’t put their phone down to speak to wait staff. There’s only one person I know who doesn’t own a cell phone of any kind, so it’s time for some Bill Maher style new rules to keep society intact.

Yay, can I get an invite?

Yay, can I get an invite?

New Rule #1- Keep Your Phone Off The Dinner Table

Next time you set the table for dinner at your house or walk into a restaurant, I want you to notice something. Look at the table setting and pay attention to what’s included- cutlery, plate, glass, napkin, right? I don’t see a space for a cell phone on the table. I even consulted Emily Post and nope, there’s no inclusion of a mobile phone as part of a traditional place setting. So as the first rule of the mobile etiquette guide, I say leave your phone in your pocket. I’m totally supportive of legitimate reasons like an important work call, but checking your phone every 10 seconds to see who’s following you on Twitter is just rude. When I go to happy hour I want to drink cheap wine and actually catch up with people, not watch them play on their phone.

I don't see a spot for a smartphone

I don’t see a spot for a smartphone

New Rule #2- Selfies: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

For Christmas dinner, we went to the Pacific Rim Fairmont buffet of glory. After dinner, because we needed to consume another 4000 calories, we went to the lobby lounge to enjoy the eggnog rum drink. While enjoying our delicious drinks, two young women came to sit in the seating area next to us, and proceeded to have a 30 minute photo session (I kid you not). I wish I had filmed it. They would take turns acting out poses for action shots, then acting out model poses for still shots. At one point we were all so mesmerized (horrified?) that we stopped talking and just watched the slow moving trainwreck of vanity. They didn’t order a drink, they didn’t talk to each other except instructions to get the best photo angles. This behavior is becoming more and more common as technology seeps into our everyday lives that it’s barely regarded as strange anymore. I say with regards to selfies, unless you’re standing in front of the Parthenon or the Eiffel Tower, get over yourself. No one cares about your gym selfies or you and your brunch.

Even David Beckham takes selfies of himself with his coffee

Even David Beckham takes selfies of himself with his coffee

New Rule #3- Check Your Ring Tones, We Aren’t Deaf

Everyone has a story of a phone ringing at a horrible time- funerals, movies, meetings and weddings. Years ago my phone rang in a job interview and I still cringe at the memory. To this day I’m still positive that I turned it to silent so I have no idea what evil technology forces were at work that day. We’ve all been there, but the problem persists even as tech progresses. It’s becoming more socially acceptable to just shrug when a phone rings loudly and disturbs everyone. True story: At a previous job, a vendor was in a meeting with the marketing team and his phone rang very loudly. So what did he do? He took it out, looked at the caller ID and put the RINGING PHONE back in his pocket. If this isn’t the mark of a serial killer, I don’t know what is. Since the days of having your favorite song as your ringtone are long gone, let’s just keep tones low or on vibrate, especially if you’re in a meeting.

Even Dexter wouldn't have put his ringing phone back in his pocket

Even Dexter wouldn’t have put his ringing phone back in his pocket

New Rule #4- Resist the Urge To Pick Up Your Phone When You’re in the Middle of a Human Conversation

Picking up your phone and aimlessly texting or surfing Instagram while in the middle of a human-sitting-in-front-of-you conversation is something that kills me about society. I see it all the time. For example, I’ll be talking to someone about my excitement for the first season of Fargo and then they’ll just pick up their phone and start texting. I know what you’re thinking: “Kirsten, they’d rather be dead than listen to you prattle on about Fargo,” which was my first assumption too. However, this happens all.the.time. I understand if you’re talking about meeting up and everyone pulls out their phone to check their calendars because that’s reasonable. Waiting for someone to buzz into your apartment? Sure, go ahead and pick up the phone. Being reasonable is the missing component of mobile phone etiquette.

We've all been the person watching everyone on their smartphones

We’ve all been the person watching everyone on their smartphones

Round Up

Technology trends are thrilling and fast paced but we need to take a step back and assess our behaviour. Cell phones have become so common that all our horrible habits have completely ballooned. One person glued to their cell phone was never a big issue; it becomes a problem when every single person is on their smartphone. Some people say that technology gives us less face to face time but it seems to be a conscious choice on our part. We decide to pick up the phone or the iPad. We decide to text and post on Twitter while at a family dinner. We control technology (for the most part) and we make the choice to take a million photos of our eggs Benedict or walk into a bear while texting. It’s time we hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard. So look up, remove your headphones and check out what’s going on in the world, there’s lots going on! Now if you’ll excuse me, my phone is ringing.

Yes, a seeing eye person is a real thing so you can text without getting hit by a car

Yes, a seeing eye person is a real thing so you can text without getting hit by a car

*Special shout outs to Flora, Clarence and Morgan for their input!

Robots Riding Hoverboards While Flying a Drone: Grandiose Technology Predictions for 2016

Rose Gold Is the New Black

2015 has been an action packed technology year. We’ve seen hacks, drones and a lot of hoverboards in flames. Aaron Sorkin couldn’t even get people excited about a Steve Jobs movie (too soon guys, give it a decade) and self driving cars have quickly taking over roads in California for testing. New Apple products made rose gold a thing (but still not fetch), Google became Alphabet in a strange and unnecessary creation of a umbrella corporation which will hopefully make more sense in 2016.  Since the end of the year is a wonderful time to make grandiose predictions for the coming year, here goes!

Drones

Duh, right? They have gotten a lot of press with the recent ruling about mandatory FAA registration and people crashing the drones they got from Santa. These unmanned aircrafts have taken off (ha!) and in 2016 they will really continue to dominate the skies and our fascination. Amazon has been promising parcel delivery by drone for some time now and I have a sneaking suspicion that it will hit critical mass in 2016. I can’t wait for the time that an Amazon drone will appear at my balcony with whatever I’ve impulsively bought because their one click purchase is the devil. There’s even a “No Drone Zone” sign on the Arthur Laing bridge heading to the Vancouver airport. How glamorous of us!

*Ranking of my excitement: 9/10

Artificial Intelligence

Nothing scares people more than the idea of an evil robot taking over and killing or enslaving the human race. Evil robots have been a pop culture fixture for decades and that theme won’t end anytime soon. The uncanny valley is one major hurdle keeping AI from breaking into the mainstream the way it should have by now. Ex-Machina came out in 2015 which I have mentioned MANY times in previous posts but I shall beat that dead horse again.  That film was the best AI movie I’ve ever seen because the robots didn’t have an uncanny valley problem, and  it quietly illustrated how utterly terrifying AI can/will be due to our hubris. Terminator is unrealistic while Ex-Machina seems like something that we’ll be hearing about next year. Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak has spoken out against AI but their warnings will be ignored. Apple, Google, Facebook and Elon Musk have open sourced all their AI technology so next year we’ll really start to see AI gain momentum.

Ranking of my excitement: 7/10 (I’m cringing imaging how humans will ruin this)

Hacking

A very clever teenager hacked a CIA Director’s AOL email account, Ashley Madison user data was exposed, Jeeps got hacked on the highway and countless more people got screwed over. Vigilante hacking has also risen to prominence by attacking racist websites, threatening to expose evidence that Making a Murderer’s Steven Avery is innocent and even going after ISIS along with many others. The Sony hack in 2014 opened the floodgates for 2015 and I am very confident that next year will have even more hacks and cyber security breaches. Even Hello Kitty user data was hacked, so apparently kids aren’t even safe. Hacking is coming to the forefront of pop culture again so there will be even more high profile cases than 2015- it offers fame and in some cases, money.

Ranking of my excitement: 8/10

Hoverboards

There’s nothing more rewarding than being proven correct in your baseless predictions of technology trends! My hatred of hoverboards is well documented and now everyday online I see articles about hoverboards catching on fire. So, so, so many articles. Hoverboards should be sold with fire extinguishers (please forward me all royalty cheques for that brilliant idea) but they continue to sell and I continue to see people rolling down the street on them. Even though becoming a human torch is very likely, I still expect hoverboards to have a knockout year in 2016. Hey, even Russell Crowe and a priest (doesn’t that sound like the punchline to a horrible joke?) got in on the hoverboard action. There’s no stopping these silly devices from rolling into our everyday lives once the battery issues get resolved. They need to all catch on fire and rest in the depths of their fiery hell, but the opposite will happen.

Ranking of my excitement: 2/10

The Descent of Apple

I remember when the coloured iMac G3s were first announced in 1998 and desperately wanting one. When the first iPod was released in 2001, the tech world had clearly changed forever. Apple was dominating the industry with their innovative, simple designs and the charismatic Steve Jobs at the helm. I wasn’t interested in technology (shhh, don’t tell 14 Oranges) but I was captivated by Apple’s ability to predict and deliver on consumer trends before we knew we wanted colourful computers and to never use a Sony Discman again. They made non-techies able to appreciate and enjoy technology, which was once the exclusive domain of IT folks.

For years Apple was untouchable and the aspirational dream of most tech people. However, I haven’t been excited about anything Apple has announced in years. YEARS! That’s an eternity in technology time (for those who don’t know, tech time is like dog years). Their keynotes and product reveals don’t hold the same surprise and delight that they once did. I don’t watch the livestream anymore or get excited the way I used to. It kills me to have say this, but I predict 2016 won’t be a glorious year for Apple unless there is a dramatic announcement. I’m not saying they’ll be going broke anytime soon, but their stronghold of the consumer tech arena is loosening and next year will be when we really start to notice.  

Ranking of my excitement: 1/10

At one point the iPod was the pinnacle of sophistication

At one point the iPod was the pinnacle of sophistication

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is an exciting possibility that humans haven’t gotten correct yet. It helps that LeBron James is training in VR, Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR were released and people are becoming more open and curious about the technology. What was once a frontier of weirdness has become more accepted into pop culture as athletes and newspapers are jumping onto the VR bandwagon. Video games and movies are going to be a huge market for VR in 2016 as partnerships between Oculus and 20th Century Fox and some others have been announced. Moviegoers would love to watch a movie in VR because it the possibilities are endless! I can’t wait to experience the excitement of sailing on the Titanic, the terror of huddling in a trench in World War I and watching a gladiator fight (are you not entertained?) in the Roman Coliseum. I think that in 2016, the VR technology will be so much further ahead than it is today that what we have right now will look primitive.  

Ranking of my excitement: 10/10

Wearables

My love/hate relationship with wearables has also been well documented, but I still think 2016 will be the year for smartwatches. The Apple Watch flopped because the first gen model did nothing but subsequent updates have made it more useful. Since the Apple Watch came out, I have not seen anyone wearing it on the streets. Not seeing everyone with the latest Apple offering is strange but given how ‘meh’ the watch was, it’s not surprising. Wearables still have a long way to go in order to hit critical mass, however, I think smartwatches will become more common in 2016. Other wearables like Google Glass most likely will flop again, but FitBits and the health side of wearables will continue to grow.

Ranking of my excitement: 4/10

*My excitement ranking is based on if I’m looking forward to the occurrence and how much I think it will affect my life (it’s all science).

The Final Frontier

If I never see another hoverboard again, it will be too soon. Those things are moronic and fire hazards- good riddance. The endless possibilities of drones is thrilling for my retail and instant gratification purposes- bring on the drones! Artificial intelligence will rise up murder us all (maybe while riding hoverboards) in the future but in the meantime I wouldn’t say no to a robot butler. If I had any talent with a computer I might consider a career as a professional hacker, however, I am not. Hackers will be the new rock stars but instead of comparing top 40 hits, they’ll be comparing hacks. Virtual reality will be really exciting in the coming year and I can’t wait to get to explore places in VR. VR will be a sort of time travel experience that I think a lot of people are excited for (plus, it won’t murder us). Wearables have a lot of necessary improvements but when they get to a Star Trek level of usefulness then they’ll be on everyone and we won’t look back.

The Tech Days of Christmas 2015

The Twelve Days of Christmas is a festive song that I have butchered to accommodate some of the exciting technology moments in 2015.  Please enjoy!        (a two drink minimum is suggested… go ahead, I’ll wait)

On the first day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

A stylus for an iPad

On the second day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the third day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the fourth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the fifth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the sixth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the seventh day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the eighth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the ninth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

9 Front End Developers

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the tenth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

10 AI Robots

9 Front End Developers

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the eleventh day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

11 Delivery Drones

10 AI Robots

9 Front End Developers

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the twelfth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

12 Surface Pro4s

11 Delivery Drones

10 AI Robots

9 Front End Developers

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!

Merry Christmas!