Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg and Virtual Reality's "Slow Ramp"

Along with his other virtues, it seems Mark Zuckerberg is a master of stating the obvious while also failing to grasp its significance.  Check out his cluelessness on both the history and future of virtual reality, propped up with observations about cell phones and gaming.
"So we've said often that we think that virtual reality and augmented reality could be the next big computing platform. But just to put that in perspective and compare it to the development of previous computing platforms, like phones and computers, I think the first smartphones came out in 2003."
Smartphones are way older than that, but whatever.  Zuckerberg also says.
"In terms of the actual content, first, we think gaming is going to be the most obvious market. There are around, I think, more than 200 million, almost 250 million people who have either an X-Box, a PlayStation or a Wii. And we think that that audience is going to the type of people who are going to be very excited about the type of experiences initially that you can have with virtual reality."
Adoption of virtual reality technology isn't "going to be" slow.  It's BEEN slow, really slow, for decades.  We have had VR headsets for for home gaming for 25 years and other computer based VR much longer.  To compare Oculus Rift to the early Blackberries is to fundamentally misunderstand why VR has been actively used in certain types of simulation since the 80's and little more than a novelty elsewhere.

Read the full ZD article for the full effect of Zuckerberg's ignorance of recent technology history.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Don't Put Muslims You Meet In The Position Of Declining Your Handshake

Depending on where you live and whom you know, you may be familiar with the fact some Muslims (and Orthodox Jews, and others, but it is with Muslims that I have personally experienced this) prefer not to shake hands, either with certain people (unrelated persons across gender) or even many people (non-Muslims).  It varies by sect and geography, but it isn't strictly cultural.  It is based on at least one hadith, the example of The Prophet Mohomed, teachings of important Imams and profound ideas about oaths, loyalty and what Christians call "the laying on of hands" [1][2][3][4].  After even a very quick study of the issue, it is easy to see why a non-Muslim should not take offense if a Muslim declines to shake his or her hand.  I am aware of the gender equality problems that can also be found in this issue, but I think respecting a person's right to refrain from touch is a more immediate problem in this case.

Please read this blog post by Um Ibrahim, a woman who prefers not to shake hands with men, for reasons held by many Muslims,  Notice how she places none of the blame for the awkwardness she feels when declining a handshake on the other person.  In her words, "[T]he other person is just showing us a nice gesture. He or she doesn’t understand the rules of Islam simply because they’re not Muslims."

Now that is a gracious attitude!  My challenge to my fellow Christians, and everybody else for that matter, is to be just as gracious.  When introduced to someone you know to be (or have reason to believe to be, based on name, nationality or dress) Muslim don't put them in the position of declining your handshake.  Express your pleasure at meeting them verbally or with a non-touching gesture*.  If the other person is comfortable shaking your hand, they will probably offer theirs.

In my workplace (a university) I have found that Muslim women who cover their head with a hijab never offer to shake hands with a man.  Women who do not wear the hijab may be comfortable shaking hands with a man.  In any case, if in doubt, I don't offer my hand first.

The point is, it isn't all on our Muslim friends and coworkers to diffuse the awkwardness of such situations.  We can and should help prevent the awkwardness from ever occurring.  Non-Muslims don't NEED to shake hands.  We're just in the habit of it.  There are other ways to show a new acquaintance respect and welcome, ways that no one feel obligated to decline.

* A Muslim friend suggested to me that I put my hand over my heart while saying my greeting when meeting a Muslim for the first time.  It isn't what people expect from a white, Christian, Iowan but nobody's going to be offended.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

When Casio Releases a "Real" Smartwatch It Will Totally Rock

When people talk about Apple's competition the names that come up are Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, Dell, Hewlett Packard, maybe Adobe and maybe some other smartphone manufacturers.  In the rapidly maturing smartwatch market it might be somebody totally different.  According to watch expert Ariel Adams the company that could sell millions of smartwatches, whenever they feel like trying, is Casio.

In an article on A Blog To Watch called What Features Should A Casio Smartwatch Have?, Adams makes a strong case that Casio has the expertise, resources and (as we say in the computer business) "installed base" to sell about as many smartwatches as they want.  Interestingly, Adams explains how they can do this without announcing their "entry into the smartwatch market."  Rather, they just need to make their current products marginally smarter.  Some of their current watches are not exactly stupid and they certainly know how to make shit people want to wear on their wrist.

"Casio may not have a product ecosystem like Apple or a serious operating system like Google, but they have a lot of things that those other companies don't. Casio knows better than pretty much everyone else out there how to create a fantastic looking and high quality watch for a very low price. Casio also knows how to make watches that consumers like to use, and that are comfortable. More so, Casio knows how to create a highly functional digital watch with features people actually use and displays that people understand."
Read the full article for a lot more detail and analysis.

Ariel Adams founded, which covers everything of interest to the watch enthusiast.  He also writes about luxury watches for other outlets and hosts the Hourtime Podcast with John Biggs, author of Marie Antoinette’s Watch, among many other things.