My thoughts on Google IO

It's been awhile since Google IO and having some time to think about it I have to say I don't think there is anything I can be happy about. I'd even say it feels like Google has nothing to offer but to steal away privacy from its users.

The two key items Allo and Duo (see the verge video on Allo / Duo for more info) which is their messaging and video apps.

Duo, if you're an android user just turns the phone camera on as it rings. Does no one at google take their phone to the toilet? Why would anyone consider this a good idea?

Allo wants to listen to your conversations which I'm sure the government is happy about and to be fair there's nothing strictly wrong about simply encrypting on the wire and having helper bots At least they're open about it.

What is concerning about Allo is that it does offer end to end encryption and in my opinion it presents it really poorly. It's not the default option and worse yet it's called Incognito mode, it has a black background with a shifty looking guy in the background. Yes - that's how incognito more or less works on Chrome but the implication is that you're doing something wrong. You're the bad little spy hiding in the dark.

Why not call it privacy mode and drop the shifty looking man? It doesn't have a negative connotation and arguably privacy is more simple language.

Oh and of course these chat / video applications aren't compatible with previous Google chat / video applications. Google isn't a contender in chat and they're not going to be if they keep burning their own loyal customers. To go slightly off topic we need chat to be like email. People shouldn't need 5 or more chat applications to talk to all their friends. XMPP is there but obviously companies won't touch it. They want a monopoly.

Lastly there's Google Home. I'll just say I'm not happy to have an advertiser listening to my every word.

But disregarding that what can Google really offer me? Unlike Amazon Echo which comes from a company with plenty of good and services I would want to use Google doesn't really offer anything. Yes there are services like Google Music but I'll be honest investing in Google services just seems like a recipe for disappointment. They still kill their services a bit too quick to trust them.

The services where Google has been a leader they still fail at. Telling me obvious things like where the local Tesco is something I don't need maps for and if I did any provider does that just well. Something I'd need Maps for are things like local businesses which Google maps still fails at. The business you see in that link is not on that side of the street and certainly not inside a courthouse.

Is that the sort of quality I can expect from Google Home when I step outside of Google lowest common denominator expectations? Again to be fair, You can't blame google for not getting it right. Trying to provide AI is a near impossible task. It's still largely smoke and mirrors and works off of assumptions which make it only work if you're like everyone else. Where you can blame Google is for trying to convince customers it's anything but that.

Marco Arment is implying that apple could mean BlackBerry's fate by not going doing this route. I don't think he entirely understands what the implications are or he doesn't care. I'm personally happy that Apple values my privacy but also I'm happy they don't just throw things at the wall to see what sticks and kill off what doesn't. I've got better things to do than to signing up to yet another take on messaging by any company.

Posted on 22 May 2016, 11:09 a.m. by toadwarrior

My wish list for Apple

Now that everyone is taking time to explain what they want from Apple I felt ir was time to give my exceptionally short list.

Do away with the idea of 'pay once, update forever' in the App Store. If some companies would like to continue selling their apps that way it's fine but it's unsustainable and, I imagine, why the App Store is full of clones and unhelpful toy-like apps. If you go ahead with this then when I search for scanbot I'd imagine seeing one result from the scanbot author. Leaving me only capable of purchasing the latest or, after clicking into its page, seeing a version listing.

Start taking copyright infringement, scam-like apps and other App Store dreck more seriously. It's starting to feel like a shithole. I think we're only lucky that Google is worse in both these respects so developers have no choice.

We have a pro iPad so give us Xcode for iPad or some other means to write code. Compiling isn't necessarily a must but we're long overdue for some useful apps for programmers.

That's it, that's all I'd want.

Especially with a supposed pro iPad coming out its time to start looking after professionals. Having a 'pro' iPad and using it to play with fashion apps would just be sad.

Posted on 24 Mar 2016, 10:08 a.m. by toadwarrior

JavaScript: The inefficient parts

My relatively new macbook rarely has any problems with the tasks I give it. I can watch HD video while listening to music and do virtually any task other than play games and never have to think about hearing the fan or feeling the heat of a cooking macbook.

So in what world is it acceptable that viewing a single photo album within Google Photos should cause my system to feel like it's on the sun and sound like a jet taking off?

Photo albums should be a perfect match for web technologies and yet we can still get it so wrong with what are supposed to be some of the smartest people on the planet in terms of software development.

Perhaps that a good sign that we should be looking beyond HTML and JavaScript and develop proper tools for building applications on the web. The cost of all the additional energy spent to execute tasks poorly in JavaScript to date could probably fund housing for all the homeless people in San Francisco. I think it's time Google heads back to the drawing board.

Posted on 1 Mar 2016, 10:53 p.m. by toadwarrior

Lookwell

Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel made a pilot starring Adam West as a washed-up actor believing he can fight crime in real life called Lookwell.

For now you can watch the Lookwell pilot on Youtube.

This could have been comic gold.

Posted on 3 Jan 2016, 7:18 p.m. by toadwarrior

A couple of great Christmas gifts

Two of my favourite gifts this year were an AeroPress Coffee maker and a Summit microfibre towel.

The towel is basically like a giant glasses cleaner. You don't realise how handy something like that could be. For starters when going exercising it will certainly soak up the sweat, you can rinse it out and it will be dry in relatively no time (at least compared to a normal towel). But the other nice benefit will be that I could also use it to more quickly clean larger shiny surfaces like my TV screen. Though I'll have to think twice if I want to do that with my "sweat towel".

The AeroPress is perhaps the best gift. It lends itself to experimenting with coffee making more than other devices in my opinion, it's quite cool and feels "sciencey" when you're making it.

I'm not sure I'll get to the point of participating in the World Championship but I get why people do it. There are some cool apps for recipes. I like OchoCoco's app AeroPress Recipes and Timer but £8.00 for an app that feels like it might have been abandoned is something I'm not sure about. However I really like how it's done and the fact he's defined an open recipe format rather than locking people out.

Posted on 3 Jan 2016, 5:23 p.m. by toadwarrior

The website obesity Crisis

IdleWord's talk on the website obesity crisis was one of the best things I've read in some time and it sums up pretty much how I feel about where web development is heading.

As we enter 2016 I can look back on 2015 as the year I've embraced ad blockers. Part of that is because Apple and their content blocking system makes it work so well but that maybe covers 5% of the reason I've made the switch. I still prefer a free web and don't mind ads as such. However ads are becoming so bloated and so are the websites they're featured on.

In an increasingly mobile world that relies on slower battery powered hardware it's downright criminal what some web developers do so I feel it's in everyone's best interest to block them. Be fair and contact the website to let them know why.

Then hit up 1Blocker for iOS and Adamant for OS X Safari isn't too bad. It has some quirks on certain pages of sites like LinkedIn which lead to disabling and re-enabling it but the overall benefit from it makes it work it.

Posted on 1 Jan 2016, 11:40 p.m. by toadwarrior

LastFM - Most Recent Tracks

Last updated: 26 May 2016, 8:45 p.m.