There are a lot of people who will tell you that they derive satisfaction from the act of programming. I’m not one of them. I hate programming. With a passion. Or, at least, what I think of when I hear the term ‘programming’ — you know, the actual sit-in-front-of-a-computer-and-type-out-the-code-that-implements-the-solution-that-you-really-want-to-solve part. I hate that. The problem solving part I really like.

I’m not sure how small of a minority I’m in — or whether it’s even a minority. For all I know, there are a lot of people like me who enjoy tackling technical challenges for hours but dread having to sit down for the briefest of moments to write even a single line of code.

I think the reason I feel this way is that most programming languages make you painfully aware of the disparity between having a well-thought-out idea and actually implementing it. Even if you’ve gone through the effort of painstakingly detailing a solution, the actual translation into code feels anticlimactic at best — an added chore to complete after the ‘real’ work is done. And yet, completing that chore is the difference between having a tangible result or not.

This is why I love Ruby. I don’t think I’ll ever truly know what it feels like to think directly in code, but Ruby is the closest I’ve ever come to seeing programming and problem solving as one continuous action from conception to execution.

From someone who has hated programming, but loved problem solving, a language like Ruby has been the deciding factor between getting something done versus just wishing I could find a way to express myself that isn’t plain painful. I’ll gladly take personal productivity over performance pretty much any day.

Happy 21st birthday, Ruby! Thanks for caring about how I feel. And making the programming as fun as the problem solving.

Apple event predictions

Apple is holding one of its annual media events today at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and everyone with a pulse knows what Apple will unveil at this one — the next iPad.

Think about that for a second. We all know what’s coming later today, and yet anyone with even a hint of technophilia is salivating for Apple’s latest delight like Pavlovian dogs. That’s partly because Apple has trained us well, but mostly because Apple lets us know precisely what it wants us to know and nothing more, making that “something we really have to see and touch” all the more compelling.

It’s also this dosed flow of information that makes speculating upon Apple’s next move so intriguing, and it’s in that spirit that I take a gander at divining the specifics of today’s event.

A new iPad is a given, though the official moniker (3? 2S? HD?) is not. Same price, same capacity, and same form factor, though likely 1mm thicker to accommodate for some heavily revamped internals. Available for preorder this Friday. In stores a week later.

The most prominent feature? Double the resolution/quadruple the pixels — and, yeah, that’s a Retina display whether you’re a marketing guru or a mathematician.

An improved processor is a no-brainer — likely a dual-core A5X but possibly a quad-core A6 (each individual core being an ARM Cortex A9, but if it’s dual-core, possibly two A15’s — confused yet?). Ultimately, given the new display and Apple’s penchant to subordinate specs to user experience, I’d expect a much greater focus on substantially improving the GPU than the CPU. A bump to 1GB RAM is all but guaranteed.

A bigger battery, better cameras (as much as 3MP front, 8MP back), and LTE have all been rumored, but I’m only betting big on the first one. I still don’t see much value in a good camera module on the back of a tablet (OCR perhaps?), but with Apple’s recent push into photography coupled with that beautiful display, I suppose it’s one of the few times they’ll chase specs. As for LTE, as much as I appreciate the speed, I still don’t think it’s widespread enough and sufficiently power efficient, but I definitely expect it debuting in an iPad before we see it on iPhone.

My pie-in-the-sky prediction:  localized haptics using piezoelectric actuators — Apple is going to make the new iPad tactile. Don’t see the home button going away without such technology — and even so, it’s safe to say it’ll be right where you’d expect it this afternoon. Not as sure about the dock connector, though.

As for software, it’ll probably run iOS 5.1 at release with Siri a safe bet assuming Audience’s new chip supporting far-field speech is ready. I’m sure we’ll probably see an epic game from Epic Games with face-melting graphics. I’m also betting on a version of iPhoto — or even Aperture — for iPad. It’s so obviously the one piece of Apple software still missing from it’s slate. Finally, I’m going out on a limb and saying Microsoft will release Office for iPad later today. I’m still unsure whether they’ll actually be on hand to show off their creation at the event itself (I’m guessing not), but it wouldn’t surprise me.

A new Smart Case, like the Smart Cover, is likely. A stylus is not.

Oh, and one more thing. Meet the new Apple TV — as in the set-top box, not an actual television. With it, support for 1080p streaming and full HD content in iTunes. I’d also expect the new Apple TV to be more like a console, supporting apps and games via AirPlay — an iBox, if you will. It’ll be the new must-have accessory for every Apple device.

HD music downloads

I don’t consider myself to be an audiophile, but I do have a deep appreciation for quality and authenticity in music. When I listen to a song, I want to experience sound as the artist originally intended. But I also want a way to acquire tracks simply, singly, and serendipitously.

In the current market, the primary choices are limited to buying compact discs or downloading their lossy equivalents. CDs have the edge in sound quality, but when it comes to speed, ease, and portability, downloadable audio files win hands down. My own collection heavily skews toward AACs and MP3s acquired from iTunes and Amazon over the years. The promise of higher fidelity sound is simply not enough to make me consider owning physical media.

And yet, I’d love to have the option of higher resolution sound when downloading music and am perplexed why record labels don’t offer audio in lossless formats widely. A small market, larger file sizes, and formats that aren’t nearly ubiquitous as MP3 are all factors that serve as legitimate excuses. However, I can’t help but feel that if record labels were to step into the present and offer consumers HD music downloads, they would find themselves duly rewarded.


I used to jokingly resolve on New Year’s Day to not make a New Year’s resolution. By doing so, I managed to break my resolution of not resolving instantly, saving me the trouble of breaking it later were I to have made any other.

The sentiment was that regardless of what I ‘resolved’ myself to do, I would eventually end up not doing it. So why bother? A broken promise is bad enough, but to oneself is especially damaging. It reduces resolution to whim and integrity to nil.

The truth is that keeping a resolution is hard work, and no one should be resolving to do something unless one is seriously passionate about doing it. A resolution only has meaning when one fully intends on seeing it through. And there’s no better barometer of intent than desire.

In fact, this is how it really works. Start with what you want to do and then resolve to do it — not the other way around.

Which brings me to my resolution for 2012. I’m passionate about writing. I want to write. I intend to write. I resolve to write.

Now let’s see how long it takes me to break this one.

An ode to the book

When I was a child, I dreamt of building my own home – a quaint cottage rooted in the woods on my own secluded island whose sole exterior architectural marvel would be its blending in as if it perfectly belonged. The interior rooms would be equally nondescript – clean lines, simple colors, soft lighting, and sparse furnishings – save for one massive central room to which all others would lead: a library housing my entire collection of books.

It is said that home is where the heart is, and even at a young age, books lay at the center of mine. Apart from friends and family, nothing shaped me more than the words written therein. Whether it was for imagination, inspiration, erudition, or stimulation, books never failed to sustain me.

Books were to my mind and soul what food and drink are to the body – necessary. And yet, they were sufficiently diverse to suit every taste in the palette. One could as easily indulge in books as one could be poisoned by them. You are, after all, what you consume. The law of the balanced diet applies to reading as equally as it does to eating.

So, I read a bit of everything – what I liked; what I disliked; what excited me; what bored be; what pleased me; what revolted me. To be clear, I had my preferences. I would choose the classics over contemporary fiction any day; graphic novels routinely bested economic treatises; and there was more to mull over in a mystical text than the average scholarly tome.

Though my tastes continued to refine, my appreciation for books remained in the broadest of senses. As I grew older, that appreciation grew into an admiration not only of the content but of the physical anatomy of the book. Reading wasn’t merely a psychological experience but a sensual one, too. The weight of the book, the feel of the spine and cover in the hand, the print on the page, and, of course, the turning of each leaf was inextricable from the phenomenon of reading one.

So much was my fascination for books that in my early 20s I began collecting them semi-seriously, amassing a considerable personal library with a few editions worth more than most would pay for the latest in consumer technology.

My tastes extended to the aesthetics of the book itself. Each book was a self-contained whole. Its physical form ought to complement its content. Seeing both parts of Either/Or or Goethe’s Faust in the same physical entity struck me as Frankensteinian, never mind monstrosities like complete works or [shudder] anthologies. And yet, through it all, I cherished a soiled paperback of Nietzsche’s Joyful Wisdom as much as an early edition of Khayyám’s Rubáiyát.

Oh, to be young again and dream! Though I have yet to own my first home – let alone my own island – and my library amounts to several sated bookshelves, my fondness for books remains undying. Though I still find it nigh impossible to divorce the experience of reading from the book itself, the open mind I developed experiencing a plethora of them reminds me to be open to the possibility.

And so, I prepare to bid the book adieu. Farewell! I love thee, but I love reading that much more.

iPad 2: Initial Impressions

After spending my first week with Apple’s latest tablet, I offer a few cursory observations on — and from — my iPad 2.

Meet qb: an experimental tumblog complement to The All Box

Let me be frank: I’ve never been one to be frank — at least not when it comes to the written word. Short, sweet, and simple are as alien to my writing style as they are ever-present in my speech. One only has to look so far as my admiration for Kierkegaard to see the influence, for just like that melancholy Dane, I understand that my duty as a writer is not to lead my readers directly to answers but rather to awaken their awareness of the questions while the Wittgensteins of the world nod in as much assent as apathy wishing I would just get on with it.

Well, Ludwig, meet qb. qb (pronounced ‘kyoob‘) is ‘an asynchronous, unranked aggregate of web content that interests me’ and serves as an experimental tumblog complement to The All Box. Powered by Tumblr and using Ben Delaney’s Notations theme, qb is meant to be my medium of minimalism offering ‘qbits’ of information for consumption in the tersest of form.

In introducing qb, my hope is to cover more stories in the mobile tech world while repositioning The All Box to realize its original intent — to awaken awareness of the questions that the bleeding edge of technology raise.

So, while you wait for the main course, give the hors d’oeuvres a taste and savor some qb.

AT&T edges past Verizon to become largest US carrier as Big Red’s iPhone launch looms

One thing that was overlooked — and perhaps strategically underplayed — during its fourth quarter earnings call is that AT&T is now the nation’s largest mobile carrier boasting 95.5 million subscribers to Verizon’s 94.1 million.

AT&T’s climb to reclaim the top spot from rival Verizon after Big Red’s acquisition of Alltel Wireless 2 years ago has been an arduous one fueled in large part by Ma Bell’s lock on Apple’s iPhone. However, that 1.4 million subscriber lead may be short-lived with iPhone exclusivity set to end within a fortnight as Verizon prepares to offer its customers a CDMA variant of the iPhone 4 beginning February 10.

Regardless of the outcome, AT&T’s fourth quarter earnings are impressive with a record 2.8 million new adds reflecting ‘rapid adoption of smartphones’, 4.1 million iPhone activations and 442,000 tablet subscribers, all contributing to $31.4 billion in total revenue (up 2.1%) and $1.1 billion in net income (down 60%).

Although growth is likely to stall this coming quarter with Apple’s darling headed to Big Red, it remains to be seen exactly how much the loss of iPhone exclusivity affects AT&T in the long run. AT&T has repeatedly emphasized it is more than just a one-trick pony touting a diverse portfolio of integrated devices and hyping its accelerated deployment of ‘4G’ mobile broadband technologies such as HSPA+ and LTE. In any case, increased efforts to upgrade and improve the existing network to be on par with its device offerings would go a long way to silence critics and keep the momentum in AT&T’s favor.

via intomobile

Sony unveils PSP2: PS3 power in a portable package

Sony unveiled its successor to the PSP codenamed ‘Next Generation Portable’ at an event today in Tokyo. The PSP2 — which has yet to be officially named — is touted to be as powerful as Sony’s PlayStation 3 console and, judging by the spec sheet, the hype isn’t hard to believe.

The PSP2 will feature a 5″ OLED capacitive touchscreen with qHD resolution (960 x 544) and be powered by an unspecified quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore coupled with a quad-core PowerVR SGX543MP4 GPU. Yes, you read that right — the PSP2 has a CPU and GPU with four cores each. This is unparalleled power in a handheld device.

The PSP2 has done away with the proprietary UMD optical drive, which caught on about as well as Betamax, opting for a ‘new’ — hopefully not proprietary — type of flash mini card. All the original controls are there including a touch-sensitive rear to add a new dimension in control, and yes, Sony has blessed the PSP2 with the dual analog sticks gamers have been begging for ever since the original PlayStation Portable was released. SIXAXIS tilt control is also included.

Other features of the PSP2 include a front and rear camera, stereo speakers, and a microphone. As for connectivity, the PSP2 is blazing the trail by being the first dedicated portable game system to support 3G while including the usual WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, and GPS in the mix. The dimensions of the PSP2 are 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm shaped in a new ‘super oval’ form factor.

Sony’s next generation portable is expected for release by the end of the year, most likely just in time for the 2011 holiday season. No word on price, but given the specifications above, don’t be surprised if the PSP2 retails for $300 or above. For hardcore gamers on the go, though, Sony has really upped the ante and buying in may prove irresistible.

via CrunchGear [pics via AV Watch]

‘Two is better than one’

via dalemcbroom on YouTube