Saturday, October 15, 2011

Siri - The Witty Personal Assistant

Apple announced iPhone 4S recently. The highlight of the product is a new voice activated feature - Siri, the virtual personal assistant. I got my iPhone 4S yesterday in mail and spent sometime trying this new feature. Here are some screenshots from those witty conversations:

An interesting thing you may have observed is that Siri gives different answers for the same question. Only time will tell how game changing this feature will turn out for Apple but for me sure it was entertaining.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Stock market lately has been very volatile and the news around worsening unemployment numbers and consumer sentiment along with declining house prices have been hard to ignore. In the 3rd quarter of 2011 U.S. stocks markets experienced the worst quarterly loss of 14% for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since the end of December 2008. Not all of these are US problems, bulk were the concerns surrounding the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and fears of a global slowdown.

Earlier this year, Mary Meeker, partner at KPCB and former financial analyst at Morgan Stanley, compiled the report "USA Inc" discussing USA's financial situation and outlook. The report analyzes United States Government as a public enterprise and analyzes its financial position by looking at the cash flow and net worth, its profits and liabilities.

The report presents a pretty grim picture of the current financial liabilities with the debt of 1.3 trillion dollars just in FY2010 and the net worth of negative 44 trillion. 76% of entitlement spending is directed towards medicare, medicaid and social security payments leaving very little for other essential programs. Between 1965 and 2010, entitlement spending went up by 11x whereas the GDP grew by 3x leading to higher debt levels. At current levels, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, entitlement spending and net interest payments combined will equal all of federal revenue by 2025.

The report not only highlights the key issues affecting the USA Inc. but also suggests some solutions. As the biggest concerns revolves around medicare and medicaid, reform is needed. Cut the benefits drastically, emphasize more on disease prevention by subsidizing healthy foods and introduce additional taxes on cigarettes, non-diet sodas. As for Social Security raise the retirement age maybe from 67 to 73, reduce the benefits by 12% or increase the Social Security tax rate by 2%. As far as the operating efficiency of government is concerned ideas laid out include reviewing of pension plans to match it to private corporations and reducing federal headcount by atleast 4%. Investments should be made in key sectors - technology, infrastructure and education to increase labor productivity. Reforms in taxes should be done including higher tax rates, carbon tax, worldwide corporate tax to discourage companies from keeping incomes offshore.

The report warns that doing nothing may no longer be viable for long term sustenance. Rising entitlement spending could eventually lead to higher borrowing costs for USA Inc as less investors will be inclined to lend money. This could also lead to USA Inc.’s currency to weaken significantly. USA Inc could learn lessons from other troubled organizations like GM which has now turned profitable to architect its turnaround.

Here is the complete video:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Apple iPhone 4S website down

At 8:20 am I was unable to complete the buy for Apple iPhone 4S at as I got the following error message:
On a related note I also observed that went down yesterday evening. Check out the interesting error page.

Update at 8:50 am I was able to buy the phone.

Apple shipped the device on October 11th. Tracking the order, it looks like the order originates in Shenzhen, China, see below

Finally got the device on October 14th as promised.

The setup was simple and only took 10 minutes, the phone worked very well. Impressive!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Twitter over capacity at 9:25 PM PST wasn't responding and was showing this rather interesting page instead:

The popular open source code hosting site shows the following error page:

The technology focused new publication site shows the following error page:

Let me know if you have any interesting ones from other popular sites.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs

The world today lost a visionary and innovator with the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. "Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve," Apple board of directors said in a statement and I have to agree.

Steve was a very private person who rarely talked to media except during product launches. He had been facing health problems including pancreatic cancer and had to take several medical leave of absence. In his letter of resignation in August 2011 he wrote "I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come."

Here are some of the most memorable moments from his life.

Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh in 1984.

Steve Jobs delivers the Stanford Commencement Speech in 2005.

Steve, you will be missed forever.

Apple iPhone 4S announcement

Apple iPhone 4S was released today finally after generating months of media buzz. While Apple and its new CEO Tim Cook touts it as one of the biggest iPhone release yet, its interesting to see what harm it has caused.
  • Saddened people's hearts by not releasing iPhone 5.
  • Tech news sites like CNET news, Mashable and Engadget were faltering with the heavy user traffic tuning for the live coverage.
  • Sprint tumbled after reports of its commitment to buy $20 billion worth of iPhone, stock reacted with a 10% decline.
  • Unhappy Apple shareholders, the stock was down by more than 4% after the announcement.
  • Embarrassed so many tech reporters on various news sites including WSJ, New York Times who got it completely wrong. Boy Genius Report even had leaked pictures of iPhone 5 cases.
  • Apple has made a joke of itself as the name of its new virtual assistant app Siri in Japanese sounds almost identical to 尻 (pronounced Shiri), a colloquial term for "buttocks".
Stacking the iPhone 4S to the rumors leading to the announcement:

RumoriPhone 4S
AppearanceWider, thinner, new home buttonNo
ProcessorDual core A5 chipDual core A5 chip
Maximum Storage64 GB model64 GB model
Network4G LTEHSPA+
Screen4-inch display3.5-inch display
Camera8 megapixel, 1080p video8 megapixel, 1080p video
CellularBoth GSM & CDMAWorld phone
Data SharingNear Field CommunicationNo
CarriersSprint in addition to AT&T, VerizonSprint in addition to AT&T, Verizon
ApplicationsPersonal assistantSiri - Personal Assistant

So looking at the table above it is clear that except the form factor, screen and the version, Apple seems to have gotten it closer to the rumors. Also iPhone 4S is more energy efficient than its predecessor while providing a faster dual core A5 processor as discussed here. Is it then because of the strong iPhone 5 rumor leading to the event that disappointed observers? Where will it leave Apple in its fight with Android? Only time will tell.

Please comment on how you feel about the announcement.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

War and peace

Watch as iPhone and Android fight and make peace produced by Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.

Don't worry, the video is rated PG and enacts scenes from famous movies like Braveheart, Dirty Dancing and Titanic.

Who can forget the famous YouTube video of iPhone 4 vs HTC Evo that came out right after the iPhone 4 release last year, this one uses some explicit language.

In couple of days the mobile war heats up with the release of iPhone 5. Read here for some of the rumors flying around.