August 28th, 2014

Apple would appear to be readying itself to announce something rather large. I have some ideas about what it might entail. Yes, it’s the iPhone 6 plus some sort of wrist device, which I’ll call the iBand here, since I don’t think it’s (primarily) a watch. My record on Apple prognostications has been rather poor, so take this with a grain of salt.

Lightning, Beats
Listening to Gruber’s Talk Show podcast, apparently the Lightning port is water proof. This explains a lot. iPhones have not been waterproof to date because the ports are not waterproof. But if Lightning is waterproof, and it has the bandwidth to do music and video out of it, then it makes sense to eliminate all other ports in its favor. If the iPhone 6 had a standard headphone jack, then it will be the last iPhone to have such a thing.

This also explains the beats acquisition. My guess is they asked beats to make lightning jack headphones, beats initially refused, and Apple responded with an offer to buy the company. With beats on board, the lightning jack has a good chance as being adopted as an industry standard, burying other jacks, perhaps across the entire industry. Lightning won’t be an open standard, but like Bluetooth, it will be one everyone uses and Apple will collect its royalty on it. Pretty brilliant if you ask me.

Also, if the lightning jack is waterproof, then it will clearly be the means by which the iBand is charged. More on that in a bit.

Automobile, iBand
If the iPhone has only one input, this makes connecting to the audio jack of a car difficult, because you won’t be able to plug the audio and power in at the same time. Unless, of course, Apple makes a companion car charger. The car charger would have an audio jack that you would plug the car jack into, so that only the lightning port comes out into the phone. That cuts down on the number of wires and the number of things you have to plug into your phone, both of which sound like very Apple-like goals.

But what about cars with Bluetooth sound? Well, screw that. The problem with Bluetooth in the car is that invariably the microphone sucks, and Siri can’t interpret what is going on. Hands free driving is a must, and Siri is very good at dialing when you use the built-in mic on the phone. So turn off your car’s bluetooth, plug the audio input into the Apple car charger, and use your new iBand as your hands free mic. That alone is a product right there. But we’re just beginning.

The auto charger can now sense proximity to the iBand. Which means it can send a signal to lock your car doors when you’re not there, or to automatically open them when you are. Just program your car keys into the Apple car charger and you’re good to go.

iBand outside the car
So the iBand becomes a proximity device that can be used to signal all sorts of home automation things. I suppose it will tell the time, but if it has a display it’s strictly eInk or something that is equally power efficient. This means that you could use it to turn on lights in your home, to unlock your laptop and iPhone, etc. And of course, it will have all the standard health tracking gizmos.

The hint that Apple gave about the unveiling is “We wish we could say more”. This is a reference to the fact that you will be talking into your iBand to activate Siri, but I imagine that it will include the ability to control the AppleTV as well. This will make voice commands more prevalent throughout the Apple home automation platform.

The iBand will also have NFC and a fingerprint sensor. NFC will be used to program the device, but it will also be used to affect mobile payments. I could see it working in one of two ways. One way is to tap the wrist onto the payment platform to make a payment, while holding a finger on a fingerprint sensor to validate. The other way is to hold your fingerprint onto the sensor built into the payment terminal, which then uses the proximity features to validate. Either way works fine. The open question is whether Apple is building this as an open platform for 3rd party payment processors to utilize, or are they going to build their own payment platform with an eye toward killing visa and mastercard. Let’s hope it’s the latter, but I suppose those are not mutually exclusive things.

One piece of evidence that it could be the latter is Apple’s refusal to allow bitcoin wallets onto the App store until recently. I would theorize that this was because they wanted to launch their own payment processing platform, and didn’t want the competition to get a foothold. Now that they are about to launch, Apple felt they had better relent on their stance for antitrust reasons.

So that’s it. It’s a wristband/health monitor/payment processor. My guess is Apple has a ton of major retailers lined up, and probably has an easy iPad app for smaller retailers to use. If killing Visa and Mastercard is part of their plan, then it’s a plan I support. Let’s just hope Apple doesn’t get greedy with the fees, because they have a tendency to do that and it would undermine the effort.


Never Forget

September 11th, 2013

Though it feels as if we have at times…


On the ten year anniversary I wrote that we lost. With today’s NSA and DEA domestic spying regulations, coupled with the IRS abuse of political opponents, I think there can be little doubt that real freedom is gone in this country. I suppose it could be turned around, but I’m not optimistic.

I have more to say on the IRS thing, hopefully I’ll get to it this week.


iPhone Nano

August 15th, 2013

So apparently September 10 is the day that new iPhones will be announced. And everyone seems to be expecting a new iPhone that is fully capable, the same size as the existing form factor, but maybe with a plastic back that is cheaper to make. This is foolishness. I am sticking with my original prediction for an iPhone nano, and what I’ve been seeing in the marketplace has only confirmed my expectations.

Recently, I’ve been seeing a number of young women carrying old Motorola Star-Tac type phones. Why are they doing this? Because existing phones are too big and unwieldy for them. iPhones have gotten bigger, and Android phones are ridiculous. But also, these women have taken to carrying iPad Minis in their purses. So they don’t feel like they need a full fledged phone on them at all times. They prefer the larger iPad Mini for app related stuff, and the phone they just use for talking and texting.

This combination, of an iPhone Nano, whose features mirror that of the original iPhone plus Siri, and an iPad Mini, tethered to the iPhone Nano, could be VERY attractive for many women. And it could be priced as free with a contract, or at $150 stand alone (with a corresponding price-drop for the existing iPod Nano). That would make the combination of a iPad Mini plus an iPhone Nano still cheaper than a single iPhone 5S purchased without a contract, and for a lot of people the combination is more compelling.

So that’s what I expect to see. Take a look at that iPhone Nano and figure on something maybe slightly thicker but looks an awful lot like it in every other respect. I expect it will be a HUGE hit.



August 10th, 2013

Much ink has been spilled over what to do about Detroit. Perhaps my favorite idea I’ve seen thus far is to turn it into a sort of “Free City“, a Hong Kong like libertarian paradise. But I have a different idea, one inspired by the near-death experiences of America’s newspapers, particularly the Boston Globe and more recently, the Washington Post.

I think we should sell Detroit to Canada.

Detroit sits right on the Canadian border, just across the straights from Windsor Ontario. So it’s not difficult to imagine it becoming a part of Canada. You would just have to extend the border westward a bit. The price would be paying off Detroit’s bondholders, which is somewhere around $20 billion, a price which Canada surely ought to be able to finance based on their GDP. Simply sign the treaty, put up a fence in the middle of the night around the border, and declare everybody inside to be Canadians, and just hand over the keys to Canada.

But why adopt this solution? What’s in it for the United States? For Canada?

Well, for the United States the benefits are obvious. America can rid itself of a failed city, full of leftist half-literate “voters”, criminals, collapsing buildings, etc. Selling Detroit would stand as a stark reminder of harsh punishments to be exacted for not maintaining your city properly. Imagine, selling Los Angeles off to Mexico, Seattle to the Japanese, Boston the the British. The precedent set ought to send shivers down the spines of the residents of these cities. It says to them, “You’re not welcome in this country if you can’t manage your own affairs.” And finally, in the specific case of Detroit, offloading that city to Canada would likely turn Michigan red, which helps garner better governance both at the state and at the national level as well.

What about Canada? Well, it would be an opportunity to own a storied city, and the home of North America’s automobile industry. Moreover, Canada, being a different sovereign, would have no obligation to the contractual obligations of the last sovereign. Having paid off the bond-holders, they would be free to dismiss pension obligations and return the city to solvency virtually overnight. With no history of institutionalized racism, they would be immune to the baiting of race mongers. Canada could right the ship in relatively short order, and have a beautiful functioning metropolis in no time at all.

So I don’t see much downside here. Anybody want to call the Canadian embassy and begin negotiations?


Somebody Needs to Introduce Anthony Weiner to Snapchat

July 24th, 2013

That is all.


White House Petition On ACA Deferral

July 10th, 2013

I posted a petition on the Whitehouse site on the Obamacare deferral. If the answer interests you, please sign it here. Text is below:

Under what authority does the President think he can defer implementation of the ACA?
The President has recently announced he is delaying implementation of the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as Obamacare. The law, however, states that it is to go into effect in 2014, not later.

Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This would seem to state that the President MUST execute the law as written. The petition signers are confused as to what authority gives the President the right to choose not to enforce particular laws.

So the petition signers request that the President explain himself, and detail under what authority he believes he can defer the implementation of a law given Article II Section 3 of the constitution.


And So It Begins (or ends)…

July 4th, 2013

As part of a deal signed last week in Washington DC between the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry and FEMA, Russian officials will provide “security at mass events” in the United States, a scenario that won’t sit well with Americans wary of foreign assets operating on US soil.

According to a press release by the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense and Emergencies, US and Russian officials met on June 25 at the 17th Joint U.S.-Russia Cooperation Committee on Emergency Situations.

In addition to agreeing with FEMA to “exchange experts during joint rescue operations in major disasters,” the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry will also be providing “security at mass events” in the United States.

Yes, the source is Alex Jones. So what?

Lest we forget, from the grievances section of the Declaration of Independence:

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

History repeats, evidently because we stopped teaching it in our schools. Hope and change baby.

Previously: Reflections on the Hessians.


Cyprus – On The Record

March 20th, 2013

I just wanted to go on the record that what has happened in Cyprus, with the seizure of bank accounts, is a trial balloon. If the world give it a collective shrug, that a first world central bank seized money from its citizens with no due process, then it will happen again, and it could happen here even. But as of right now, it is no longer safe to hold significant assets in a bank account, and I would recommend removing significant amounts of cash from the bank asap.

Mark my words. This will happen again, perhaps before the year is out.


Hipsters, Wiggers and Goths

March 16th, 2013

So I’ve been giving a lot of thought to hipsters, wiggers and goths. I’ve concluded that these groups exist on a continuum, with small overlaps in between. Let’s explore each of these groups, their overlaps, and then conclude with a Venn diagram.

Let’s start with hipsters. Deliberately ironic, mustache wearing PBR drinking cool kids, generally insufferable, and generally white. Wiggers, of course, are white kids who try to act and dress like black inner city rappers. Their overlap? Well, one ironic overlap is that the word “hipster” was the 1940’s equivalent of the word “wigger”. But the real overlap? Nerdcore of course, white hipsters rapping about things like math and dungeons and dragons. It’s a small contingent, obviously, but there they are.

Goths claim to take everything so seriously that they are depressed all the time. Wearing all black and often black and white makeup to emphasize just how depressed they are. They seem to believe that they are the only authentic voice in a world of phonies. They are, in effect, Holden Caufield in makeup. But combined with wiggers and who do they become? Juggalos, wiggers in black and white clown makeup obsessed with the Dark Carnival, a sort of purgatory.

But what happens when you cross Goths with Hipsters? I struggled with this for a while, because Goths are so deadly serious, and hipsters, well, not so much. But after a while I realized that combining the two creates the Steampunk, a guy obsessed with esoterica from a more gothic age. The Steampunk gets to dress up like a goth and act serious, but about totally frivolous things, imagining a world where everything is run by steam. It is the ultimate hipster/goth fusion.

Which of course brings us to the final combination, the so-called theoretical Steampunk-Nerdcore-Juggalo. What is this creature exactly? Does he sport a mustache? Does he homebrew? Does he rap? The one thing we can be absolutely certain of with respect to this person:


He is white.


Even MORE Daylight Savings Time

March 15th, 2013

So Daylight Savings Time has occurred again. Even earlier this year. It seems that they keep pushing it back further and further. I suppose some form of energy savings is the so-called goal. But it’s not spring yet, either according to the solar calendar or even just colloquially. It’s still cold out. Daylight Savings Time seems to take up 9 months of the year now making it the norm, and Standard Time the interlude. That was never supposed to be the case. My feeling is always been that if people want to get up earlier in the summer, then just go ahead and do it. There is no need to mess with everybody’s clock to get up earlier. But the powers that be keep pushing and pushing. Soon enough we’ll barely have a few weeks of standard time between Thanksgiving and New Years. It’s unacceptable. We need an alternative to the desire to keep pushing the envelope of Daylight Savings Time.

The answer, I think, lies in an additional Daylight Savings Time.

That’s right. We have Daylight Savings time from before the Spring Equinox until after Halloween now. But what we really need is a second daylight savings time, one in which we move the clocks forward a second hour, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Look, two daylight savings times isn’t going to be significantly better than one, but if we don’t give the daylight savings time fanatics something else to mess with, eventually, they’ll keep pushing the boundaries of daylight savings time, until they cross over in the other direction, with daylight savings time ending before it even begins. That concept is entirely intolerable.

So let’s give them another hour in the actual summer. Keep them busy with something else. What do you think?