Category: Technology

Quantum Computing is Coming

Quantum Computing is Coming

quantum-entanglement

The term Quantum Computing sounds pretty intimidating, powerful and mysterious. What is Quantum Computing? A very basic explanation is it’s a new way of processing information. All existing computer applications and algorithms will not work on a Quantum Computer.

Some of the biggest technology companies in the world have research facilities devoted to this technology. Not only private profit based businesses are interested in this technology. The Chinese government has unlimited resources (no budget) devoted to Quantum Computing research. Besides Cold Fusion, it’s one of the most game changing fields in science and mathematics. The winner, or the first to exploit the power of Quantum Computing, will be in one of the most powerful positions in the world.

How is a Quantum Computer different from our current computers? It’s based on entanglement which is one of the strangest things we have discovered in nature. Basically, two different particles share the same information when they become entangled. So far, we haven’t found any distance that will not allow entanglement to happen. The information sharing also seems to happen instantly, faster than the speed of light.

Microsoft, Google, IBM and other large tech companies, are all investing a lot of money researching Quantum Computing. The types of people they are employing are mostly from academia. Mathematicians, physicists, fields medal winners. Some of the smartest people in the world are working on bringing this technology to the masses. It’s not only the creation of the technology but the algorithms that will run on these machines. Initially, only a few people in the world will have the knowledge to able to write the “code” that runs on a Quantum powered machine.

What’s the difference between a Dell computer sitting in your house compared to a Quantum Computer? It needs to be cooled to near absolute zero to operate is a major difference. It’s not feasible to think that a Quantum Computer will ever be sitting in somebody’s house, or taken to the coffee shop for browsing the Internet. The power will be used for solving extremely complex problems, quickly. An example would be analyzing different molecular combinations for a drug and accurately predicting its outcome. Or being able to process weather and other geological simulations on a massive scale not possible today. It won’t be used to run your Angry Birds apps.

Some have compared Quantum Computing to the industrial revolution. Nobody really understood the full impact of it while it was happening and it changed the world in a radical way. Quantum Computing won’t be affecting your daily life anytime soon. At least not in the next 5-10 years. But the path seems to be in the right direction where we can make another major leap in productivity and knowledge.

Wikipedia on Quantum Computing

Podcast on the current state of Quantum Computing affairs

http://www.livescience.com/52811-spooky-action-is-real.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/quantum-computers-will-change-the-world-2015-4

The Podcasts I Roll With

The Podcasts I Roll With

podcast

My semi-daily commute to downtown Denver is usually occupied by sports talk radio, although I do love to listen to a few different podcasts each week. I thought I would share the ones I like and get some feedback on some other podcasts I haven’t heard of as well.

I am mainly interested in iOS and mobile related podcasts. I also love Iowa State basketball so I do listen to the Cyclone Fanatic podcast.

a16z
a16z

a16z may be my favorite podcast. It’s not development related, but the interviews they hold with business and technology leaders around the bay area is always interesting.

nsbrief
NSBrief

NSBrief focuses specifically on iOS development. The interviews are mostly with independent iOS developers with each interview covering a different framework or aspect of iOS development.

angular
Adventures in Angular

AngularJS is the javascript framework of choice when I do web development. There is usually great discussions and interviews in all of their episodes.

apptodate
App-To-Date

Weekly episodes about the hottest new apps and what’s happening with the popular apps such as Snapchat, Facebook and others.

debug
DEBUG

In depth interviews with former and current Apple employees. I’ve gained a lot of insight about how things within Apple work from this podcast.

ideveloper
iDeveloper Podcast

They recently put out a podcast on developing an app with Swift and the challenges that came along with that.

Keeping up with these podcasts isn’t that difficult as some are not as frequent publishers as others. a16z has probably been the most consistent at 1 or 2 a week but most of the others are maybe 1 or 2 a month. If you’re a developer or technology enthusiast then I’m sure you’ll find a lot of values in these podcasts.

The use of C# will continue to fall, along with the eventual extinction of VB.NET

The use of C# will continue to fall, along with the eventual extinction of VB.NET

C# is a modern programming language that runs on the Microsoft.NET Framework. Just a few years ago being a C# developer allowed you to use your skills across multiple technologies that were in relatively high demand. You can use C# writing a desktop application using WinForms or WPF, or write the server side code for web site using ASP.NET or ASP.NET MVC. A developer could also write a rich internet application with Silverlight technology in C#. Things have changed in the last few years as many of these technologies are becoming irrelevant.

With Windows 8 coming onto the scene Microsoft has de-emphasized the desktop experience, wanting users to do most of their work with Windows 8 applications in the tile mode. Desktop based browsers are slimming down and halting support for some third party plugins. The combination of this shift has left WinForms, WPF and Silverlight out in the cold. What’s left for developers on the PC is Windows 8 apps, which can also be written in javascript or C++. Windows 8 apps are not a priority for most companies as Windows 8 still has a very small tablet market share.

Windows 8 Phone is another potential target for C# developers, but with market share in the low single digits there isn’t much demand for developers writing a Windows 8 Phone app. Windows Phone 8 now also supports native C++ apps, and I’m guessing they won’t want to be supporting Silverlight on the phone for future versions.

Server side C# for ASP.NET MVC web applications is still very popular as many companies are still running Windows based servers. This will slowly shift as more companies move their servers from on-premise to cloud hosted. Many new web sites are written in mostly javascript with the rise of rich client side frameworks like Angular and server side technology with node.js. Which leads me to my point about the extinction of VB.NET…

Nobody writes VB.NET on the server! If they do, they probably don’t belong in our society.

It will be interesting to see what Microsoft does with C# in the coming years. It’s already a very powerful and flexible language so they may well leave it alone for a while. On MSDN C++ has been getting a lot of love in their monthly tech how-to articles. It seems they are trying to steer developers to use C++ as their primary language choice.

A recent article on Dr. Dobbs has C# as a rising language, but I don’t think it can keep holding its own with the main uses being Xamarin and MVC server side code.

As a developer who is strong in .NET and relies on that technology for a career, it will be worth taking a look at where you think the market for developers is headed. I believe that if you are strong in javascript, Objective-C, Swift, C++ and Java your future looks brighter than only knowing C#. One of the challenges developers face is keeping up with technology and adapting. This is clearly a time for .NET developers to realize what they can do to still keep their skills competitive and in demand.

Coping Without Being Connected – Part II

Coping Without Being Connected – Part II

It’s over 2 months without a data plan now, and I’ve discovered a few things about myself and how I now fit into society.

What I’ve discovered in general

  • There is Wi-Fi everywhere. It’s at the grocery store, fast food places, and schools.
  • I still get email when not connected to Wi-Fi. Yes, it’s true. I don’t know if this is common or not, but with Brightspot I can still send and receive email when not on Wi-Fi.
  • There is Wi-Fi at intersections. My trusty Windows phone tells me when Wi-Fi is available, and often times when I’m at a stop light, there is an open Wi-Fi network.

What I’ve learned about myself

  • Sometimes I really miss being able to access the Internet. I would to be able to keep track of the sports scores, get turn by turn directions, get media texts, and send media texts myself.
  • I realize when I can’t access certain functionality on my phone, I feel it’s good for me. It’s like my spoiled kids who get whatever they want with their On Demand TV, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. I think it’s good for me to not be able to access media whenever I want to.

How I now fit into society

I was at my neighbors house a few days ago. A friend was telling me how he’s in a league where they pick NFL games against the spread. I told him how my friend and I made a site where you can look up historical NFL odds data and I went to look it up on my phone. Embarrassingly enough, I could not access the site from my phone. He asked me what the problem was and I quickly changed the subject. I didn’t want to go into detail how I don’t have a data plan on my phone. I still wanted to talk about the NFL :).

Since I can no longer get turn by turn directions, I have a few options:

  • Use a paper map
  • Print out directions before hand
  • Call my wife as I’m driving
  • Use my intuition
  • Stop at a McDonald’s on the way, connect to their Wi-Fi, and look up where I need to go

Since I’ve been without a data plan, I’ve used all of these methods. The time I called my wife for directions was not a proud moment :).

What it best for society? Would be better off if none of us had access to data plans? It’s an interesting question because so many business models are now built on people being connected 24/7 along with GPS access. I think about the early 90’s when I would read the paper to see the sports scores and the stock quotes. My life was good then, and I don’t think it was any better when I had a data plan. I wasn’t happier then…

A few times I’ve heard that people’s happiest times are when they have very little, and their scraping to get by. I think a point like that in a person’s life they are able to appreciate the little things much more. Since they can’t just go out and buy whatever they want, each decision in life is important.

It’s make you think what really is best for society, and where we are heading. Would we be better off without the Internet? Maybe so. Maybe we’re heading into a new generation, Generation I, where everything is instant. It will be interesting to see if we can keep our heads above water in a sensible fashion.

 

This post is a follow up to my original post, here

How long can companies ignore the Windows Phone platform?

How long can companies ignore the Windows Phone platform?

This original post was written for the Aspenware blog

NokiaLumia1520

The Windows Phone platform initially launched in October of 2010. The new Windows Phone 7 operating system broke compatibility with early versions of Windows Mobile which left Microsoft starting from ground zero in terms of market share and apps.

Shortly after the initial launch Microsoft partnered with Nokia to build phones for its new mobile operating system. Nokia abandoned Symbian and started making all of its new phones for Windows Phone 7. Nokia has been the saving grace for Windows Phone, even though it hasn’t yet gained any significant market share, especially in the United States.

Currently market share in the US stands at 3.6%. Android and iOS dominate the rest of the market leaving only a shred left for Blackberry. Beginning a few months ago, Windows Phone finally made it to all of the big carriers with the HTC 8x released on the Sprint network. Verizon has had a few phones from Samsung and HTC for the last year or so, with Nokia only offering GSM compatible phones on the T-Mobile and AT&T networks.

As far as app development goes, one can certainly make the case to ignore the platform with only 3.6% market share in the US. Twitter and Facebook have not developed their own apps for Windows Phone as of yet. Microsoft has released their own version of a facebook app, along with many other third party developers. With so many different third party developers supporting the platform, it probably doesn’t make sense for Facebook to support their own native app at this point. That being said, it’s still somewhat of a blemish for the Windows Phone Marketplace. So we can start to look to the future to see what’s in store for the Windows Phone platform.

International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts at least a 10% global market share for Windows Phone by 2017. This equates to over 100 million devices being sold per year as they predict global shipments to exceed 1 billion units per year.

The real excitement for Windows Phone is in the international markets, particularly in Europe. In Italy Windows Phone enjoys a 3.5% lead over iOS with a 13.7% market share. Windows Phone is enjoying similar success in Germany as they are neck and neck with iOS for 2nd place behind Android. Overall in the major European markets Windows Phone hopes to grab around a 10% share by years end.

App developers should not be ignoring what is happening in Europe with Windows Phone. Nokia is charging ahead strongly with highly desirable devices, mostly from their advanced camera capabilities. The new Nokia Lumia 1520 boasts a 6” HD screen and 20 MP camera. So far early reviews have been very positive. There’s also been news that the new Nokia phones will support 3D touch, so you can navigate through your phone without actually touching the screen.

What’s happening in Europe will ultimately help the Windows Phone market share in the US. As more and more apps are developed to support the growing customer base in Europe, it will make the Windows Phone platform more appealing to consumers in the US. With Instagram soon to hit the Windows Phone Marketplace, along with Vine just landing in it, Windows Phone will satisfy a broad appeal of consumers with many of the most popular apps now being available on the platform.

Even though the Windows Phone Marketplace will support most of the well-known app brands, it still lacks a lot of what I call ancillary apps which my favorites include: US Bank, Safeway and Golf Channel. These were the apps I used a lot on my old Android phone which are not available yet for Windows Phone. Nokia claims that it is now a matter of when vs. a matter of if major brands are coming to the platform. Once Microsoft can shore up its app store to compete better with Android and iOS, it should be very interesting to see what happens to the market share not only in the US, but with the platform worldwide.

Coping Without Being Connected

Coping Without Being Connected

Due to unfavorable contract terms with Sprint, I was still rolling with my HTC EVO last week. I was going on 3 years with this phone and I was counting down the days until I could upgrade on January 1st, 2014. When the EVO was released in 2010 it was coveted as the most advanced smart phone on the planet. While it was still getting the job done, it was time to move on. The battery life was awful and the internal storage kept dropping down to warning levels where I had to keep uninstalling apps.

On my birthday on October 25th I was blessed from above when I dropped my phone and hit it just right on the corner where it smashed the screen to oblivion.

Broke HTC Evo

That very same day a co-worker of mine, Ely Lucas, was kind enough to give me his old Windows 7 phone that he wasn’t using anymore. He gave it to me so I could test my apps on it (Side Note & Side Bet).

I had a working GSM phone that wasn’t compatible with the Sprint network. I ended up getting a T-Mobile compatible SIM card and dropping Sprint. The plan I chose, Bright Spot Mobile was a no data plan for $35/month. I figured since I was on Wi-Fi most of the time I would be fine without data connected to my phone all the time. I was wrong…

You wouldn’t imagine how hard it is to get used not being connected to data 24/7. It’s like a drug, which I just discovered was very addictive. 7 days in to life without data has proven to be challenging so far, but I think it’s a good thing. I no longer check my phone at stop lights for emails. I no longer fire up Pandora on the way home during rush hour. I no longer constantly check my phone. The no data plan has exposed my data addiction, and I’m liking my life without it.

It’s definetely a challenge in this day and age to go through life without an expensive data plan. It seems like we are programmed to get an expensive data plan from one of the big 3 carriers. It was fun exploring options and knowing that I’m saving money each month. My wife and I’s total cell bill was $170/month for the last few years. Now it will be $105/month for a total savings of close to $800/year. I encourage others to try this out. It’s very liberating, and it’s even fun to deprive yourself of things. I makes your life more interesting just from the challenge.

I’m walk the earth without a data plan and so far I’m still accepted and functioning in our society. It hasn’t been easy, but I think it will be good for me. If anybody has similar experiences please share them!

Side Note Version 1.3 Released!

Side Note Version 1.3 Released!

Side Note has been updated to be a much more friendly and appealing user interface. With this new update users can add a little color to their notes, which makes the experience of saving and viewing your notes a little more fun. With 165 downloads over the last 5 days, there is a demand for this kind of capability on phones. People want to keep track of random notes, and they want a simple and efficient way to do so. If you have a Windows 8 Phone, try it out. It’s free!

Side Note
Side Note
Go Native or go HTML5?

Go Native or go HTML5?

HTML5_Logo

I’ve got a new idea for an App, and I’m really good at Windows Phone development, so my first instinct is so start writing the app specifically for that platform. I’m currently trying to decide if that’s a good idea or not. Ideally I’d want my app to work across all 3 major platforms (iPhone, Android & Windows Phone).

To develop specifically for each platform would take a significant amount of time. Each platform uses a different programming language.

  • iOS: Objective-C
  • Android: Java
  • Windows Phone: Silverlight/C#

Being a C# guy, Xamarin looks like a good choice for my app. I’m somewhat dreading developing the app with html and javascript. Not that I don’t know how to develop with that technology, it’s just a little more painful than writing C# and XAML. Once you’ve experienced data-binding with XAML, it’s such a wonderful experience you never want to develop any other way.

As I write this post, I’m still not sure what way I will go. I think I’ll give Xamarin a shot and if that proves to be too painful I’ll probably go the HTML5 route. There’s no way I’m writing a native app for each platform. Maybe I would if I didn’t have a full time job bu the time constraints are too high.

I look forward to your comments on the topic!

Side Note V1.0 Released!

Side Note V1.0 Released!

Side Note is a new Windows Phone App that allows users to save notes onto their phone. Groundbreaking I know! It’s a very simple app that will soon have an update to it where you will be able to email your notes from any email address, or one of your contacts. There isn’t much to the app, and that’s for a reason. It’s meant to be simple so I hope you enjoy it!

Here’s a link to Side Note: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/side-note/bc630a7f-e787-424e-8654-29c6f1da3dde

Social Networking Personalities

Social Networking Personalities

LittleComputerGirl

Most of us are cautious about things we post on Facebook, Twitter and G+. We should be cautious, because it is forever etched in digital history. When somebody accidentally presses send, there are no take backs. It’s done. It’s over. Even if you accidentally posted something, and then deleted it, it could have gotten emailed to somebody, or texted, or even a screenshot picture of the post.

From personal experience I have taken screen shots of posts that I knew were a mistake and would be deleted. It’s a fantastic way to preserve the information and then later unexpectedly spring the information on them.

So what if an employer goes trolling around the Internet to find information about you? Are you worried about what they find on Facebook? Facebook allows you to lock down your profile so it’s not publicly available, but those options aren’t turned on by default. The same privacy settings go for Twitter and LinkedIn. But what about Pandora? Pandora is an extremely popular service, but most people do not think of it as a social network. If you go to a person’s profile you can see likes, stations and comments.

If I were an employer, I would try and find the person’s profile on Pandora. I would look at Facebook and Twitter, but most likely you won’t find anything that will tell much about the person. Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn promote likes but do not support dislikes. It’s a positive and friendly environment that usually will only show the most positive pieces of a person’s life. If you find a person’s Pandora profile I believe you can get the best insight into the person’s personality. If somebody looked at my Facebook profile they would think I’m a very interesting person who has a perfect life. If you’d look at my Pandora profile you would think that I’m a dark and disturbed person who likes to go clubbing.

Here’s a list of my Pandora stations: Today’s Christmas, Frank Sinatra, Smashing Pumpkins, Ke$ha, Bran Van 300, 311. Each station serves a purpose in my life. Each station comes in handy base on what mood I’m in. I think if a person saw this profile, it would give them much better insight into my personality than any of my other social networking profiles.

What are your experiences with social networking profiles? In this day and age, we have to be careful what we post. It’s not always about what we post on Facebook though. The next time you get turned down for a job it may not be based on what your last Tweet was, but maybe it’s from that like on the Marilyn Manson album.