The CIA has released it's file on Saudi Involvement in 9/11, and it's HYSTERICAL!

Today after numerous FOIA requests and quite a bit of time, the CIA released a trove of documents relating to its investigations into the 9/11 terror attacks.  Included in the documents was a released document of the CIA's investigations into potential Saudi involvement in the attacks themselves.

Well. if you can call "released" when 90% of the document looks like that example page to the left.   No, that's not a joke.  Thats what the document actually looks like.

In fact there is only a single un-redacted paragraph in the entire document,  and to be honest, it doesn't say much of anything.

To read the entirety of the "document" please visit Gawker where they have the entire PDF embedded.

What ever happened to that whole "Most Transparent Government Ever" Thing?  Yeah, I dont know either.

Posted on June 13, 2015 and filed under Politics.

The Talk Show gets an interview with Phil Schiller

Producer: Amy Jane Gruber @amyjane Junior Producer & Announcer: Paul Kafasis @pbones Directed & Edited by: App: The Human Story @appdocu Audio Engineering by: Caleb Sexton @calebsexton Webcast Production by: Hybrid Events Group @hybrideventsgrp

If you are an Apple fan in any capacity, there is NO other podcast you have to listen to this week.  I'm not sure quite how he managed it,  but John Gruber got Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of Marketing to come on his show this week for a WWDC wrap-up.   Definitely another example of the new more open PR strategy of Apple post Katie Cotton.

Highlights include Phil Schiller ragging on Marco Arment's famous article about the reliability of the Mac platform,  as well as making a few jokes at the expense of Apple's previous PR... restrictions.

Great listen.   Also, even though I've linked to the show above, please visit John's site.   Even though I'm sure you're all familiar with it, it's always worth a new read.

Posted on June 11, 2015 and filed under Technology.

Stunning 3d Hubble Images

Vimeo user Michael Lansdell has spent the time to make something quite amazing.   He took famous images from the Hubble space telescope, and did a 3d post conversion to make it appear that you are flying into these beautiful nebulae.   Check it out.  Most certainly worth your time.

Posted on June 5, 2015 and filed under Media.

Pebble Time First Impressions

So my Pebble Time is finally here, and my first impressions will be unfortunately brief.  The build quality is far superior to that of the original!

The body itself is a beautifully textured plastic that actually feels quite nice while you're wearing it.   The bezel is a brushed metal, and the screen cover glass is now gorilla glass.   The buttons on the watch all have a nice tactile feeling to them.   They have a bit of give in them so they don't actuate immediately ( i suppose in case you bump into things or if it is lightly pressing into your hand.)  I would describe it as a similar effect to the half-press of a DSLR shutter.   When it does actuate, it has a nice solid feel.   Lastly, the band.  I actually like the rubber band of the Pebble Time a bit more than the fluoroelastomer sport band of the Apple Watch.  The Pebble's is just a bit softer, and a bit nicer feeling.  All in all the package seems much better put together than the last iteration.   It's no Apple Watch as far as construction, but it's also about half the price.

Unfortunately, that is where my impressions will have to end.  At least for now.   As I'm an iOS user,  I'm not able to actually activate and pair my Pebble Time, because the Pebble Time app is stuck in App Store purgatory at the moment.   This is more than a little frustrating, but since I sincerely doubt Apple is worried even a little bit about Pebble, I'm sure they will approve it shortly.   At that point I can do a more full review.  

For now,  not bad.   I cant wait to see how it actually WORKS.


Posted on June 4, 2015 and filed under Technology.

This App just SCHOOLED Siri, Cortana, and Google Now

Holy crap.  You had better believe someone from Apple is going to be on the phone with these people in the morning, if they aren't already.  

From the Caption:

In this video, SoundHound Inc. Founder & CEO, Keyvan Mohajer does examples of voice queries to Hound that show speed and accuracy, and the ability to handle context, detailed criteria, and other examples. Hound can’t do everything, of course, but, for users who believe that speaking to connected devices should be like how we speak normally - this shows that it’s now possible. So many of things that you used to type, tap and swipe for can now be done effortlessly by speaking.

The technology underpinnings of Hound, all built in-house at SoundHound Inc., include the company’s Speech-to-Meaning engine. The company has also built the Houndify platform, for developers to leverage the technology and build smart, interactive voice interfaces to their own products, services, and experiences. Almost anything that is ‘connected’ can become Houndifed.
Posted on June 4, 2015 and filed under Technology.

The Unseen Cost of Google's New "Free" Photo Service


Is it just me, or does something not seem quite right about Google's new Photos service?

There was quite a bit of talk at Google IO this week about how Google Photos is using Machine Learning to help you to be able to search through your images.  You search for "Cronuts" and voila! Every photo that you have taken of those delectable cronuts that you stood on line hours for will show up!   From Business Insider:

Google uses machine learning to power the scary-accurate image recognition within the Photos app, and based on the demo I’ve seen, it’s incredibly fast and accurate. Other services let you search photos based on when they were taken, where they were taken, and how you’ve tagged them.

But with Photos, you can simply type in the word “pizza,” and any photos you’ve taken of pizza will pop up whether you’ve labeled the pictures or not. If you went rock climbing last summer, you can type in the phrase “rock climbing” to find those images. Google also automatically sorts photos based on these types of phrases in the Categories section. So, all of the photos of any given person will appear in one organized album, all photos of food would be in another, etc.

Google already uses machine learning — a term that refers to a type of algorithm that learns on its own without human intervention — for many of its products, including Google Now, Google Maps, and Search. But now we’re seeing it being applied to photo storage.

Super Cool right?   On the surface, YES!   The amount of computation and engineering that has gone into a product like this is staggering.

But then I had a thought.  (Dangerous, I know.)

Why is it free?

No, seriously.   Why is it free?   Why is Google going to give away terabytes of VERY expensive cloud storage away for free?   Why is Google going to give away use of a photo recognition engine that required that massive engineering effort for free?

Answer?  They aren't.  Of course, YOU won't have to pay a thing for the service.  Google will happily index every photo you take from your smartphone,  apply it's machine learning to it,  and give you an infinite amount of storage for all of those beautiful memories.   What does Google get out of it?

I have a feeling Google is using its "machine learning" to index quite a bit more than most people think.  They say it can tell the difference between palm trees and pizza, and mountains, and people.   If it is really that intelligent will it also be able to tell, based on your photos, what kind of beer you like to drink at a summer barbecue with your friends?   How about if you prefer hot dogs or hamburgers?  Will it be able to tell based on your photos that you like to visit Disney World and go on Carnival Cruises for vacations?  I bet people buying advertising on Google would LOVE to have information like that.

Google has spent years developing applications and services to write up a profile of your online activities and persona.  Google Chrome / Google search track your web browsing habits to deliver you advertising.  Gmail algorithmically scans your email for advertising purposes.  Google Maps uses your direction requests and GPS data to deliver you advertising.  and now our last shred of real life private moments are probably being used to deliver us relevant ads.

It has gotten to the point where Google will now know more about the average Android user than his/her partner does.   The profile they have built on us contains our conversations, our web searches, our travel habits, who our friends are, and now everything we have taken a photo or video of.   Google knows what things we want to keep a memory of.   I don't know about you, but to me, that's creepy.

Tracking my online use was one thing, but somehow knowing that Google is scanning my photos and videos to identify everything in them is a step too far.   It seems today more than ever, that the services Google deliver to us are not really the products they sell.  

We are.

Posted on June 4, 2015 and filed under Technology.