Simplifying Technology

Curbing the complexity

The timeworn adage reads: less is more. Perhaps there is more merit to this dusty old proverb than once originally thought. The fact is, with the rapid pace that tech is moving, chances are, it’s briskly sauntered right past a vast number of consumers. Up until recent years, feature-laden devices were canonized as a sign of progress. These days, it seems that the focus of a superior product is measured by usability, not merely which company has a longer list of convoluted features.

The bells and whistles

The name of the game isolating features that, while impressive, lack real merit. If it only serves to impress the competition, it is probably due for an evaluation. Apple, for example, has set a precedent in the field of paired down devices geared more towards simplicity and function. Late last October, Apple’s head of software, Craig Federighi, stated that Apple opposed a touch screen interface on their computers, stating that the company felt it was not the right direction for the Mac line.

Similarly, another feature not found on iOS devices is hands-free gestures. Apple’s portable device archrival Samsung, on the other hand, has invested heavily in technology such as eye detection and swiping. On certain models, the device can stop or start content by detecting if the user is looking directly at the screen. Likewise, the user passing his or her hand across the screen can activate certain Samsung devices. Apple still prefers press button interface. While there will always be arguments as to the advantages and pitfalls of features such as these, the question of “is it really necessary” has never been more in the forefront. When you consider the amount of extra software and in some cases, hardware needed to run these extra ‘goodies’, along with the inherent increased risk of failure each added feature brings, is it worth it?

Removing the frustration

A good indicator of how simplicity has become paramount is comparing the old with the new. Microsoft’s then revolutionary operating system, Windows XP, was heralded as a technological achievement upon its inception. Compared to Redmond’s current offerings, the old operating system seems counterintuitive, redundant and almost vindictive to the technologically disinclined. While it seems easy to poke fun at Microsoft, anyone who had a computer that ended in the suffix- ‘intosh’ will recall the lonely, isolated experience that made PCs of the same era feel wide-open. To own Today, thanks to the transition to Intel processors from the old- Motorola/ Power PC processors used prior , modern Macs can juggle files and media nearly as smoothly as the monolithic Washington based rival. Indeed, Cupertino has moved into a more natural and intuitive direction as well.

Increased reliability

Aside from trying to make products that don’t intimidate and infuriate seniors the way they used to, the tech market has also adopted another mindset that has many users breathing a bit easier. The less there is, the less there is to break. The same philosophy that has many consumers opting for solid-state technology in place of traditional spindle drives. The simple fact is, fewer parts, fewer problems.

Moving forward

What might tech look like if the trend of simplification continues to hold sway over design and function? How long before phones are comprised of fewer pieces than we have cards in our wallets? Organism-inspired operating systems that make the old command based interface of yesterday seem outrageous? Only time will tell. We’re in an era where the only thing constant is change.

History of Hacking

When the word hacker first showed up on the mid-1960s, it was a rather innocuous term used to describe a programmer who “hacked” out computer code. These early hackers innovated new ways to use computers, wrote code they called “patches” to fix bugs in existing programs, and were generally curious about every aspect of how computers worked. As computers evolved, however, the term hacker started to take on a new meaning—a person who uses computers to explore a computer or network to which he or she doesn’t belong; someone we need to protect ourselves against using clever and effective technological safety measures.

This definition is still generally used today and can technically be used to describe people who perform this type of exploration regardless of intent. If I’m being fair, there are probably many reasons why hackers choose to ply their trade, including idle curiosity, to challenge themselves and for malicious purposes. Yet in today’s world, the average person hears the word hacker and is likely to envision a person or group of people who harass, defraud, steal and generally wreak havoc via their computers. And, with approximately 75% of newsworthy cyber attacks in 2014 being geared toward cyber crime, cyber espionage or cyber warfare, I’m not surprised.2
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Safe Holiday Shopping Using Public Wi-Fi

Unlock Wifi

Mobile Commerce

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are behind us, which means the holiday season is in full swing—and so is holiday shopping. Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, more and more of that shopping takes place using smartphones and tablets every year. I’ve already talked about how global mobile data traffic has been growing at a speed worthy of a Formula 1 racecar, but an ever increasing number of people are also shopping via their mobile device. With the proliferation of public Wi-Fi access and the new Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0 technology, consumers are increasingly connecting their devices to public access points, and many of them are doing so to shop. [Read more…]

Is SanDisk’s 512 GB SD Card Vulnerable?

First, a brief history of SD Cards.

SD card

Way back in 1999 SanDisk, Toshiba and Panasonic launched a new player in the memory card game. These SD cards were based on an earlier card format, called MultiMedia Cards (MMC), created by SanDisk and Siemens a few years earlier. Today, despite their high level of market saturation, many people aren’t aware that SD stands for Secure Digital, and even fewer people are aware that the word “secure” in the name refers to its ability to store encrypted music data. The original incarnation of SD cards had a storage capacity that maxed out at 2 gigabytes. [Read more…]