Tag Archives | iPod

The Evils Of A World Filled With Touchscreens

111103_TECH_many_ipadsAll signs point to our heading towards a future in which we will exist surrounded by software-enabled touchscreens. Why this could be a grave mistake, via Slate:

What touchscreens lack is something called affordance — an object’s built-in ability to tell you how it works. A doorknob affords turning. The button on a car stereo affords pushing. A touchscreen affords nothing. It relies on software for any affordance, which in turn relies on total immersion for the user.

What we want, apparently, is to surround ourselves with touchscreens of varying size—tiny ones in our pockets, medium-size models for our laps and dashboards, and massive versions for our walls. We want tomorrow’s vintage shops to be lined with identical, blank, anonymous slabs. We want things to be vessels for software, and nothing more. Immersion is a fantastic quality while flicking virtual birds at digital pigs in your smartphone. Immersion at 80 mph is less desirable.

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Looking At The iPod In 2003

ipodThe Dell DJ is slightly bigger than the iPod but claims a longer battery life. It was Dell that one investor held out as the rival with the greatest chance of success: ”No one markets as well as Dell does.”

It’s fascinating to read an article from eight years ago and feel that it was truly another era. Via the New York Times, Rob Walker’s piece “The Guts of a New Machine” examined the hype surrounding the cutting-edge devices known as portable mp3 players:

Two years ago this month, Apple Computer released a small, sleek-looking device it called the iPod. A digital music player, it weighed just 6.5 ounces and held about 1,000 songs. There were small MP3 players around at the time, and there were players that could hold a lot of music. But if the crucial equation is ”largest number of songs” divided by ”smallest physical space,” the iPod seemed untouchable.

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The Gadgets We Never Heard Of

Did you know that the iPod is basically a ripoff of a German transistor radio from the 1950s? Via the Atlantic, selections from Bill Buxton’s collection of little-known gadgets (such as early touchscreen devices, the first robotic chess game, and a “mindblowing Casio watch from 1984″) which sadly are in the secret dustbin of history:

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Apple Patenting Technology To Spy On Device Users

indexYour iPod might be looking and listening right back at you — Apple is patenting creepy spyware that would “fight theft” and product misuse by enabling Apple devices to take photos of users, record users’ voices, and even detect and record users’ heartbeats, and transfer the data back to Apple. The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports:

Essentially, Apple’s patent provides for a device to investigate a user’s identity, ostensibly to determine if and when that user is “unauthorized,” or, in other words, stolen. More specifically, the technology would allow Apple to record the voice of the device’s user, take a photo of the device’s user’s current location or even detect and record the heartbeat of the device’s user.

This patented device enables Apple to secretly collect, store and potentially use sensitive biometric information about you. This is dangerous in two ways: First, it is far more than what is needed just to protect you against a lost or stolen phone.

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Life In Foxconn: Undercover In The iPod Factories

foxconnundercover05172010-1274313201A Chinese newspaper went undercover at a Foxconn factory, the production site for Western gadgets such as iPhones and iPods. The workers are an army of overworked, ill-treated, but optimistic twenty-year-olds whose existence is typical of many in China’s young adult generation. Translation via Engadget:

In front of a newly-opened phone shop, the sales assistant flashed an iPhone to the Foxconn employees, with everyone focused on his every “cool” gesture, as if it was something new. But actually every part of this “new” device would’ve come from the hands of these workers, except these guys had never thought of owning the final product. And now, this whole thing is right in front of their eyes with a “smashing price of ¥2,198 ($322)” — just above their monthly pay.

This super factory that holds some 400,000 people isn’t the “sweatshop” that most would imagine. It provides accommodation that reaches the scale of a medium-sized town, all smooth and orderly.

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Obama Doesn’t Know How To Use iPod Or Xbox, But Says They Are Bad

Obama Hates iPadsCome on Barack, we’d expect this from your precedessor, but not you, young Mr. Change. Story from AFP:

US President Barack Obama lamented Sunday that in the iPad and Xbox era, information had become a diversion that was imposing new strains on democracy, in his latest critique of modern media.

Obama, who often chides journalists and cable news outlets for obsessing with political horse race coverage rather than serious issues, told a class of graduating university students that education was the key to progress.

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter,” Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia.

“With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation,” Obama said.

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