Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Integration Please!!!

Even though a "Wordless Wednesday" post has already been posted I had this subject running through my head all day so I wanted to put thought to "paper" and write this post.

This week the greatest consumer product exhibition is taking place this week in Las Vegas with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  This exhibit is held once a year and is the ever where all the great electronics companies (with the notable exception of Apple) come together to announce new products, gadgets and gimmicks to the delight and amazement of the press and consumers like you and me.  Having never been to this trade show but having heard lots and lots about the event, it seems like it must be a ton of fun and totally astonishing.

The new and futuristic products that are unveiled there each year are at the cutting edge of the limits of our technology.  Many of the products shown off are just prototypes and many of them never become real consumer products.  Even if these products never reach the market they are indicators of what the future holds.  This year one of the most talked about new types of product prior to the show are TV's based upon OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology.  Many of the OLED TV sets shown at the CES will never be sold to consumers as these products are still in the prototype phase.  But when TV sets based upon the technology finally roll out to consumers in 2013 they will be radically different than today's TVs as some will be thinner than 1/4 or even 1/8 of an inch.  There has been some speculation that OLED based technology will eventually be able to be turned into a liquid film that can be applied to the wall like paint.  This would allow for TV screens in your home of immense size and proportion.

Every year that I read about the CES I am always waiting to hear of a different kind of product that would make life much easier.  Yet despite the need for this product that I am imagining it never seems to happen, it always remains a pie in the sky that can't be reached.  The product that I so passionately desire is a product that allows for us to seamless exchange and integrate data - things like ebooks, apps, calendars, music, video, etc between all the different consumer electronics products that are already on the market.

Let's face it when you decide either Mac or PC, Kindle or iPad, Android phone or iPhone you are locking yourself into a closed world of specific data types.  It doesn't makes sense to spend hundreds of dollars buying books to read on a Kindle and then decide that you really like the iPad as an eReader better because you would have to buy the books all over again in the Apple iPad book format.  Same thing for apps that you use on your phone.  Once you start buying iPhone apps it makes it hard to switch to an Android based phone because your investment in the apps you have purchased for your iPhone will be worthless as they don't run on the Android based phones.

It really doesn't make a lot of sense.  Every time new technology platforms come out we go through these senseless "data wars".  It is like the conflict back in the early 1980's over betamax or VHS.  Or the conflict in the last 1990's over DVD formats.  But in each of those two cases the battle was won and one standard was established.  The idea that we will ever get to a universal eReader format seems like it is years or decades down the line.  As for apps....  there most likely will never be a standard at all due to the fact that they are programs and the architecture of the phone's operating systems is different.

My specific frustration right now is due to my e-mail and calendar.  My company uses a program called Lotus Notes for e-mail and calendar functions.  Lotus Notes runs specifically on the PC and I am not aware of any version that runs on a Mac.    So all my work e-mail and calendar information is in a format that is only supported on a PC.  I am moving my personal e-mail to be web-based so that makes my e-mail less of an issue, but I keep all my personal calendar information on my Mac because I can sync it with my iPhone.  But because no one has defined a universal, standard calendar data type, there is no way I can coordinate my two different calendars into one calendar that has both my work and personal schedules in it.

It would seem to be so very easy to standardize this information types across the different computer types and programs.  But no company has the will, determination or desire to do this.  If they would create one universal data type for calendars and other things - like ebooks, etc.  It would make everything much more portable and universally available.  My personal belief is that most companies don't want to do this because would eliminate their ability to dictate to the customer what kind of software and ebooks the customer must buy.  Which in turn would take away some of their profits.

Just imagine the power you would have in your hands if all of your data could be seamless integrated into one large data set that you could access from electronic device - from your phone, from your tablet, from your computer (if those are even going to exist as separate devices in the future), from your TV or even from the on-board computer in your car!  The links and different ways of combining your data would be unbelievable and would make so many of your day-to-day tasks that much quicker and easier.  You would always have access to your information from just about anywhere you were.  It would be a very neat thing if it ever could come about!

Just wanted to mention a little bit more about my wordless Wednesday entry.  I saw the picture that is the focus of my wordless Wednesday post on the National Geographic "Picture of the Day' page and I fell in love with it.  The Outer Hebrides Islands are part of Scotland and are one of the most remote and isolated part of the United Kingdom.  The population of all the islands that make up the Outer Hebrides is a little over 26,000.  That means there are plenty of the islands that are uninhabited and very desolate.  For me I just found these islands to be very interesting.  If you are interested in reading more about them, here is a link to an article on Wikipedia about them:  The article is a quick but fascinating read.

Today was a very cold and snowy day here in Denver.  It was one of those days in which you just want to stay inside and curl up by the fire.  But that wasn't my plan for the day as I had an early morning dentist appointment.  It was just a teeth cleaning so no drilling, but I do have an old filing that has come out that I need to go back and get re-filled.  It was also cleaning lady day, which I absolutely love as the house is clean and smells all good!

Zack had a psychologist appointment this afternoon.  There is definitely a lot going on with Zack and his anxiety this week - unfortunately.  I might have come up with a kick butt idea this evening to help him out.  I need to spend some time thinking it through before I put it into action.  I'll talk about it here on the blog at some later point as I think it is an interesting approach to help him out.  It may make sense but then again, it might be really stupid!

Well that is it for this evening.  Time to watch a little bit of TV with Zack before he has to go up and get ready for bed.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

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