Category Archives: Technology

Autism and the Power Play

Weird title, right.

Well, I actually can’t sleep because these thoughts are whirling around in my head. What thoughts you ask? You can kind of get a whiff of the overall theme from the title itself.

Currently, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with autism and play-based curricula. Yes, a by-product of being forced by my English class to write a research paper pertaining to the diploma being pursued.

Now, the research into autism is currently honed into the genetic link, as previous studies on twins have proven that link (McCarthy, 2004, p. 1325). I have yet to research the specifics and current outcomes of this branch of research; however, the scientific articles I’ve read does briefly mention potential environmental factors that could pose as risks (McCarthy, 2004, p. 1325). But, my question is why these environmental factors are not as important as the genetic link? To answer that question, I have formulated two theories that could quench my thirst. You ready? Here we go.

Number 1. To pin point environmental factors will probably rely on the knowledge of the specific “susceptibility gene” that researchers are trying to determine (McCarthy, 2004, p. 1325). A pretty reasonable hypothesis, right? Alright, let’s continue.

Number 2. To focus on environmental factors would touch on preventative measures; aka, things to avoid during pregnancy. Now, is it just me or would it be justifiable to state that preventative measures would affect profits for pharmaceutical companies? You have to admit that “cure-based” research would put some sort of marketable product manufactured by these influential companies. But, who’s to say I’m right in this opinion.

So I leave this to you, my dear readers, to ponder. What do you think? Is it numero 1, or 2? Is it both, and if so is do they weigh as equals?

*************

Reference

McCarthy, A. A. (October 2004). Innovations: The Genetics of Autism. Chemistry & Biology, 11, pp. 1325 – 1326. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemboil.2004.10.001

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Steve Jobs, the Prickly Perfectionist

FINALLY!  I finished his biography.  It took longer than usual to get really engrossed in it as I’m not used to this genre.  Nonetheless I completed it, all the while writing notes and dissecting it, trying to figure out the angle in which I would approach writing this post.  To be honest, I’m not quite sure I can really pick just one angle as his life was so multifaceted.  Therefore I have only included the parts that really stood out to me.

What I noticed about his life was his attention to detail, his pathological perfection in everything he did.  His aesthetic was minimalism with an intense focus directed towards the details, right down to the packaging.  I know what you all must be thinking, it’s just packaging that will be ripped apart and thrown out in a matter of seconds.  But let me tell you something, when I bought my macbook and opened the case in which it was safely nestled inside, I had the most euphoric feeling.  You must think I’m crazy, but I’m sure I am not the only one out there who had an awe inspiring reaction to the simple act of unearthing an Apple product.

He was a prickly character who believed in being brutally honest: “It is my job to be honest.  I know what I’m talking about, and I usually turn out to be right.  That’s the culture I tried to create. We are brutally honest with each other, and anyone can tell me they think I am full of shit and I can tell them the same thing.” (© Isaacson: pg. 569).  Take for example his goal of being surrounded with A players, firing who he thought were B or C players.  His philosophy was that once B players were thrown into the mix, C players would eventually crop up, thus diluting the creative and productive spirit of his company.  Furthermore, a lot of companies will instil in its employees that it is all about what the customer wants, but Steve Jobs challenged that notion: “Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.” (© Isaacson: pg. 567).  He was definitely successful as he created the undeniable need of his iPad, a product that was never needed before.

I have barely just skimmed the surface of this rather insightful biography, so it is up to you, the readers, to determine whether or not this is a good read for you.  The one significant question that swirled around in my mind was what it took to create an exceptional product.  Therefore, I want to leave on this note.  Ask yourselves what kind of personality it takes to create and nurture such a successful company.  Is it the kind and understanding CEO, or is it the prickly and difficult one?

The Reign of Snobbism

Why do trends and languages survive in our ever changing world when others simply just whither and die off?  There are many endangered dialects and trends fading at this very moment now.  So, why do some have a strong foothold on society?  I took a Languages in Contact course in my undergrad, which catered towards the love/hate relationship between English and French.  I was very fascinated by the etymology part of the course as I learned that a lot of english words we use today are actually born out of mispronunciations of french words.  (Okay, so clearly it seems that I might be alone in this guilty pleasure I allow myself to have).  But some french words have maintained their status in being used with a snob-like air to them.  The food industry is notorious for that, using “hors d’oeuvres” or “entrées” instead of the english equivalent.  I could go on and on, but I think I should stop myself at risk of becoming too boring.

So, what does this have to do with anything?

Why, Apple of course!  In reading Bryan Chaffin’s article, “UBS Finds 31% of Android Users Likely to Switch to iPhone”, it reminded me about snobbism’s impact on the french language and how it could impact so much more than just language.  In this article, they had a survey of the retention rate of U.S Smartphone Customers and they found that customers with the iPhone have an 89% retention rate.  Gosh that’s a high percentage!  HTC was the second highest with 39%. Even though this is a US based statistic, I know fellow Canadians who love their iPhone and persuade others to get one as well, using catch phrases on their facebook statuses like “Got troubles with your Blackberry?  The local Apple store can fix that”.  It’s cute, it’s catchy, and they have a point.  Apple is increasingly becoming a popular decision amongst smartphone users.  In my opinion, it seems like the attitude towards getting one is a “they have it so I want it, and I want the newer one”.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  Apple’s popularity is being fuelled by snobbism and it looks like it is not going to die down anytime soon.

[… I feel the pull of Apple snobbism.  I want one!]  




Sources:
Chaffin, B. The Mac Observer. “UBS Finds 31% of Android Users Likely to Switch to iPhone”. (c) 2011 
<http://bit.ly/qboYe9>

Are iPhones the new Twist?

While skimming through the many tweets from BBC and AppleGuru to get some inspiration, I stumbled accross this article by Alex Heath called “HTC President:  Kids Hate iPhone Because Dads Have Them”.  The title pretty much says it all.  According to the HTC President, Martin Fichter believes that the iPhones will lose their popularity among the youth because of the growing popularity with the adults.

http://bit.ly/odK2Lc

The funny thing is that upon reading this article, my mind took me back to this rather fuzzy memory I had.    See, when I was young, my dad banned all these anime shows and Nintendo games because, well he was old school like that.  What did I do instead then, you wonder?  Watched Discovery Channel documentaries and informative Biographies.  Besides the point, I remember watching a broadcast about The Twist’s birth and death.  Apparently, The Twist faded out of the spotlight because the adults were also starting to dance the Twist.  [Now remember, this memory was pulled from the murky waters of my childhood memories so I am not 100% sure if this is accurate, but to me it seems like it could have been one of the factors that could have contributed to its death].  So, assuming that Mr. Fichter is right, popularity among the adults can either break or make the iPhone… correct?  In my honest opinion, I believe that the iPhone has surpassed the status of being labeled as a fad.  Most young people I talk to, love their iPhone and therefore recommend it to others as well.

Ask yourselves this, if Mr Fichter is right, are the iPhones becoming the new Twist?

Sources: 
Heath, A.  Cultofmac.com. “HTC President:  Kids Hate iPhone Because Dads Have Them”. © 2011.    <http://bit.ly/nL6pN8>

The Ongoing Smartphone Battles

Welcome to the heavyweight smartphone company championships!  In this corner we have Apple, a multi-billion dollar company which is rated the number one for customer satisfaction for its sixth year in a row!  Aaaand in the other corner, we have Samsung Galaxy using the relatively new yet increasingly popular Android software! Who will win this battle?!  Let the battle begin! *Ding Ding Ding*

© HTC Wallpaper HTC Backgrounds

Who indeed will ultimately win this ongoing war?  With the decline of Blackberry, it seems that Apple has become more powerful and maybe, just maybe, the idea of them monopolizing the smartphone and tablet industry is becoming an all too real possibility.  So, what is in the way of Apple monopolizing this industry?  The cheaper option of cellphone companies running on the Android software now available for consumers, who are not too keen on the high prices associated with Apple’s products.  I have been keeping up with the lawsuits that Apple has been attacking Samsung with over patent issues and, to me, it seems that Apple is using any means necessary to squash the competition.  According to Zachary Karabell, the author of the article “The Frightening Fall of Blackberry (and Why Apple Should Care)”, states that “consumers have very little brand loyalty in a world of rapid innovation and lots of choices” which has inevitably lead to Blackberry’s downfall.  As ludicrous as this sounds seeing that Apple is at the top of their game right now, they need to be careful to not follow in Blackberry’s footsteps. In my opinion, this could be a factor driving the actions that Apple is taking.  If they become a monopoly, they would not have to worry about a potential downfall in the future.  As Ricky pointed out in his article “Eric Schmidt: Apple’s Lawsuits Against Android are because of Jealousy and a Lacy of Innovation”, the outcomes of these lawsuits are putting a dampener on the future of Android in the States.  Here is a direct quote from Eric Schmidt himself:

“The big news in the past year has been the explosion of Google Android handsets and this means our competitors are responding.  Because they are not responding with innovation, they’re responding with lawsuits.  We have not done anything wrong and these lawsuits are just inspired by our success. ” (Ricky: © 2011)

Apple’s recent win over banning Samsung Galaxy tablets in Germany is just fuelling Apple’s rapidly growing ego as they are now moving towards banning Galaxy’s tablets in Australia and Japan.  Ed Sutherland, the author of the article “Apple Wins Permanent German Ban on Samsung Tablet”, does state that Samsung is going to appeal the ruling as it “severely limits consumer choice” and “restricts design innovation and and progress in the industry”.

© Apple

So who seems to be winning?  It looks like Apple is going for the final takedown, but at what cost to the public?  Apple is banning cheaper alternatives that could be available to the less fortunate, thus impeding on their chances to grab at opportunities that will be available to them if they are also connected to the increasing connectivity that smartphones and tablets currently provide.  Bill Thompson, the author of the article “Why the Poor Need Technology”, states that the “digital divide” is an all too real reality.  So if Apple is indeed vying for a monopoly, prices of their products will increase as they will not have a competitor to keep prices at a reasonable amount, thus excluding the poorer population.  This is worrisome!

It may seem like I am shining a negative spotlight on Apple, but I assure you that I am part of the Apple cult myself.  I own the second last generation of the white macbook and I love everything about it.  I am even contemplating getting an iPhone when I eventually get on the smartphone bandwagon that I seemed to have missed.  However, I’m starting to second guess whether choosing Apple products is the best course of action.  It seems that Apple is bullying their way to the top and I do not like bullies.  What do you think?  What would you do?

Sources:
Karabell, Z. The Time Moneyland Website. “The Frightening Fall of Blackberry (and Why Apple Should Care)”. © 2011.
Kunzler, G. MacTrast website. “Apple Topes US Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Ratings for Sixth Straight Year”© 2011
Ricky.  Digitizor Website. “Eric Schmidt: Apple’s Lawsuits Against Android are because of Jealousy and a Lacy of Innovation”. © 2011.
Sutherland, E.  Cult of Mac Website.  “Apple Wins Permanent German Ban on Samsung Tablet”© 2011.   
Thompson, B.  BBC.com website. “Why the Poor Need Technology”. © 2002  

It’s all About the Manners!

As technology updates, so do the rules pertaining to etiquette.  So how does the iPad fit into these rather ridged etiquette rituals we so often practice in public?  What is the right time or the right place to use one? This article that I found on cultofmac.comexplores the correct use of using an iPad in restaurants.  Nicole Martinelli, the author of this interesting article, cited a server who stated that people on iPads in the restaurant tend to take longer to eat and is therefore bad for business.  Another server stated that one table were all on their iPad while eating, stating that it “seemed completely insane”.  However, it just seems to me like the iPad acts like a Gameboy would -another way of distracted children so that they do not act out.

I’m the type of person that believes that answering your cell when you are with someone is rude, yet I am sometimes guilty of breaking that social “faux pas”.  Now that we are connected to everyone with just a phone call, text message, or a social networking site it is natural to always want to keep up to date.  The iPad puts everything right at our fingertips, whether it be games to distract children or current news to distract the more mature population.  So I ask again, what are the rules regarding the proper use of the iPad in a public setting?
Feel free to view this article by clicking here!