Another Apple quality problem... experienced first hand.

Andy Schlafly learned first-hand the folly of bringing the intellectual equivalent of a knife to an intellectual gunfight.  (Source: Arizona State University)
Why Apple is actually doing some smart things for once, how not to win a scientific argument, and more

Often I come across tech and science topics that bemuse or amuse me.  So I have compiled a list of my top five tech musings for the week.

1.  Google TV is a very, very big deal.

I remember when DailyTech founder Kris Kubicki told me back in 2008 what a big deal Android was going to be.  At the time I admit, I didn't really "get it".  I remember thinking, "An OS?  No Gphone?  This thing seems weak at best."

Today I'm a proud EVO owner and, like more than a few people, now realize what a motivated Google is capable of outside the realm of search.  I think many people may not realize what a big deal Google TV is, much like I failed to realize the implications of the original Android OS in 2008.

Like the release of Android, it doesn't sound that flashy or amazing.  But Google here has the potential to dominate an entirely new OS market segment.

Google clearly has an edge on Apple TV in that its less restrictive (in terms of apps) and needs one less box in that it embeds its functionality inside pre-existing devices (Blu-Ray players, HDTVs).  Also, Google is a bigger name that other bit players in this emerging market (e.g. Boxee).  And Google TV is really only a specialized build of Android OS, so much of the improvements to the smart phone OS were portable to the TV Android OS variant.  In short, Google is poised to conquer this domain.

At first Google seemed to be having trouble getting multiple OEMs on board with the project, but now it has at least two in its camp.  Following Sony's initial Google TV-powered lineup, Samsung will be launching a lineup of "Smart TVs" next year, powered by Google TV.

These days most people have a cell phone.  And most people have a television.  The way things are going, unless Google seriously drops the ball it looks like in 5 years people will be likely to have a Google OS powering both.  That leads one to wonder -- what other OS realms might Google conquer?  Cars?  PCs?  Microsoft clearly has the edge in these arenas, but a late start has hardly stopped Google in other markets thus far.

A final observation worth noting -- it is important to remember that a victory for Google's Android is a victory for Linux -- as Android IS a Linux distro, something many casual users don't realize.  Could a Google-powered Linux OS lineup unseat Windows as the global OS king someday?  We'll get the first taste of that battle later this fall when Google steps foot in Microsoft's territory -- the PC -- with Google's Chrome OS (also Linux-based) taking on Windows 7 in the tablet and netbook market.

2.  Apple is doing some things right in the smart phone market.

In a blog/editorial (all editorials are essentially glorified blogs), I mention what the Apple could do to try to hold off Google in the smart phone market.  Among those things was to scrap exclusivity ASAP, come up with alternate form factors, and relax app store restrictions.

Apple appears be following or preparing to follow all three of these suggestions.  It has dropped the ban on Flash to Objective C app ports, potentially luring Flash developers back into the fold.  It is preparing to launch a Verizon iPhone.  And it reportedly is even working on a different form factor, which could potentially be sold alongside the traditional iPhone (perhaps the long rumored iPhone Nano).

When it comes to the corporate tech world, Apple has been, by degrees, one of the most reclusive, arrogant, and moralistic companies out there.  Thus it's hard not to react negatively to many of their actions.  However, in this case I think some praise is due for Apple finally embracing what seem like common sense when it comes to certain aspects of its smart phone business gameplan.

I doubt Apple followed my advice (or even read it!), but I'm glad that at the end of the day, they're finally seeing the light of reason (sorta).

3.  I've experienced the dark side of Apple's quality issues.

My MacBook Pro, purchased last November during a Black Friday sale hasn't yet seen its first birthday, but has not one, but TWO problems. 

First, the rubber coat of the power cord (which I always carefully wrap in the prescribed fashion) has split, and the cord itself (or at least surrounding wiring) is fraying.  I probably will just end up buying a new adapter, but to get less than a year of life out of a critical component is a disturbing sign of quality shortcomings.

My second issue is that the audio card also seem to be going bad.  When playing music sometimes the sound sporadically is coming out garbled and crackling.  Bass-heavy tracks seem to accentuate this problem.  I play a fair amount of music, but who doesn't?

The sound deterioration occurs both over the headphones and the built in speakers, so it's clearly either a drivers or sound hardware issue, not a failing speaker.  I exclusively run in Boot Camp (with Windows 7) and the sound originally worked flawlessly, so I'm left to conclude that failing hardware is likely to blame -- unless Apple somehow rolled out a firmware update that broke things.

Either way, this is unacceptable performance for a laptop under a year old, and a reminder of how far from "magical" Apple's products truly are.

There are some good reasons to buy a MacBook Pro.  I love the aluminum unibody case, the long battery life, and the light weight.  In particular the weight has been a great perk as I haul my laptop around several times a day, every weekday. 

But those strengths are somewhat overwhelmed by Apple's inability to practice quality control, as showcased by the problems with my unit.  Like many Apple customers I'm left to ponder whether my problems are bad enough to necessitate a headache of digging up my warranty and being without my primary laptop for weeks.

4.  Google's text message email password recovery is very, very dumb.

In a facepalm-worthy moment, my Gmail account reminded me "are you sure you don't want to give your phone number so we can send you a reset pin if you lose your password?"


What a great idea.  So let's see -- many Gmail users have a smart phone (check).  They have their email account attached to that smart phone (check).

So if you lose your phone, someone has your account, all they have to do is request a reset pin and they've entered your email account.

God help you if you lose your phone and have your Gmail account set for other password recovery services.  And God help you if you use the same password for multiple sites online.

All someone would need to do in such a seemingly common situation would be to:
i. Take your phone and gain access to it.
ii. Request a reset pin, gaining access to your account.
iii.  Scour your email history for common services.
iv. Request a password recovery email from these services
v.  Use the recovered passwords to compromise your various online accounts.

All of this starts with the reset pin.  I'm not sure what kind of great security mind dreamed up this feature, but in my opinion its one of the worse things that have come along since the password recovery question (e.g. What's your elementary school's name -- hint Google/Facebook search!) or recovery email (which is also probably sitting on your smart phone).

About the only good thing is at least if you lock your smart phone with Android you'll have a degree of protection, unless they can crack your password pattern.  Of course, with the recent iOS lock screen bug, you might not be quite as lucky if you have an iPhone.

5.  No matter where you stand on the evolution debate, this is downright funny.

"Conservapedia: Lenski dialog"

There's people that you want as a spokesperson, such as Michigan State Professor Richard Lenski.  And there's people that you don't want as your spokesperson -- like Conservapedia owner Andy Schlafly.

Mr. Schlafly tried to accuse Professor Lenski of faking or distorting the results of his famous E. coli experiment, which showed bacteria evolving a new enzymatic capability.  After a couple of ineffectual attempts at badgering Lenski into a response, he finally got one.  And Lenski's resulting pwnage of Mr. Schlafly via logic and the written word was so severe that his previously noisy detractor couldn't even muster a reply.

Again, it's always important to consider who to adopt as the champion of your particular philosophy, lest ye look foolish.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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