Thoughts On Biometric Authentication

I’ve been wanting to write down some thoughts on biometric authentication for a while. It’s becoming more popular and prevalent in the technology we use everyday. And before we actually learn what is good and bad about it from experience, I wanted to write down my opinions.

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Microsoft Should Acquire Twitter

Not a fully formed argument, but something that has got me thinking since the Microsoft Surface event.

1. Communication Platform – Microsoft has multiple communication platforms. Their platforms have always been a bit of a mess. Messenger, Lync, Skype, Skype for Business, Rooms (remember that?), Yammer. They’ve never had a very uniform system. They should take the consumer facing side of Skype and integrate the technology into Twitter Direct Message platform. Bring voice calls, video calls, and chat bots to the Twitter DM. Make Twitter a private communication platform that can compete with Facebook Messenger and separate the confuting Skype and Skype for Business. Let Skype become the enterprise option and Twitter be the consumer option.

2. Content – Microsoft already has a device in most households for entertainment, the Xbox. Twitter is trying to get live content that will be displayed in the living room (i.e. Thursday Night Football). Microsoft will be able to take these and similar content deals and bring them to a much bigger audience that is already setup to view the content. Twitter technology with the distribution of Windows seems like a good combination to complete with what Google, Apple, and cable companies already have out there.

3. Consumer Facing – Microsoft has been making a big push into the enterprise market. Office 365, LinkedIn, Yammer, and Office are all geared towards business users. Yet Windows 10 is being pushed as a friendly consumer operating system. Twitter can bring a consumer facing platform that will integrate with Windows 10. Microsoft has made a few entrances into social media that failed, Twitter will give them an actual foothold in social media.

The Keyboard

“If the keyboard was invented today what would it look like?” 8pen

The QWERTY Keyboard has been around since 1873, and has been one of the constants in technology. Nothing seems to be as universal as a keyboard. The mouse, touch screens, hand writing recognition, and voice control have all come and yet the keyboard remains on just about every piece of technology (many smartwatches even have a keyboard). Will it ever be replaced? Progress tells me it should be replaced, history says it won’t be easy. 

Voice input has made a big resurgence as an input method. Siri, Google Now, Alexa, and Cortana have all put voice activated software on things we use everyday. Our devices are constantly listening for the next command. But it remains a novelty for most. I have yet to see anyone who interact with technology mainly by voice. Voice is a nice compliment to the keyboard at this point, but not a replacement. 

So what is next? The keyboard can’t be the height of our technical ability to interact with a computer. There is something better.

If the computer was invented today, what would it look like? Technology is a constant and rapid improvement, but it’s often contained by old standards. If the technology is too radical, it’s won’t be adopted by public use. And the keyboard must be the most comfortable way for anyone in our time to interact with technology. What will it take to leave that comfort zone?


Goodbye LinkedIn

I recently made the decision to delete my LinkedIn account. After having the account for years, I have not found any value in it. It has became more a nuisance than anything – and it is easier to just delete the whole thing than let it sit, accruing messages and notifications.

I joined initially as part of a college class. The service was described as a social network for professionals, a place where you were expected to have a good profile and resume if you wanted to get a good job after school, with plenty of detail and none of the fluff that circulates other social networks – a place where career-oriented people of all levels could build their connections to others and develop working relationships.

After several years on the network, I never gained employment or networked with people I didn’t know elsewhere. I haven’t found any amazing opportunities. I haven’t found any great people to work with or been recruited by my dream organization…

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The Cloud 

There is no such thing as the cloud. It is just someone else’s computer.

Cloud computing has been revolutionary for the Internet. It has given access to resources that the average user would never have. But as the cloud become more ubiquitous with our lives online, it’s important to remember what the cloud actually is.

The Cloud is the current buzz word for it, but the concept isn’t new. A user rents space or resources on another person’s or company’s computer. The user places the trust in someone else to manage, maintain, and control the data placed in the cloud.

When data is placed in the cloud, the user no longer has a reasonable right to privacy of the data. Whoever has access or control of the cloud you are using has equal access and rights.

A Note About Smartwatches

First, I’m not against the idea of a smartwatch. I can certainly see myself wearing one in the future. The problem with current smartwatches is they are being marketed as add-on devices. A device that is a “compliment” to my phone.

A smartwatch need to be it’s own device. A device that I can use without requiring me to carry multiple devices. I often carry around a tablet and a smartphone, but neither needs the other to function. A smartwatch needs to go beyond being a remote control for other device. It’s great that it can sync and interact with other devices, but it can’t require them to be functional.

Being required to carry around multiple devices to get functionality is a terrible design.

Give me a smartwatch that is functional on it’s own, and I’ll be sold.

One Feature Netflix Needs

There isn’t any doubt that Netflix is a leader in the video steaming market. They are changing the way content is consumed and created, and forcing some big companies to change their traditional model (Comcast, HBO, Amazon, etc…). There is a Netflix app for nearly every platform, and it’s surprising to find a person/family that isn’t a subscriber.

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Unified Operating System

Microsoft has recently announced they will be creating a unified operating system. Combining several versions on Windows, including Windows RT and Windows Phone, into a single operating system to run across all devices. This is bring my ideal computer set up closer to reality. I want to be able to have my smartphone (currently a Lumia 1520), connect to a computer/screen and boot into a full desktop environment. I can handle 80% of my work on my Lumia 1520, but there are still times I need a full desktop, or just want to work on a bigger screen.

This functionality was promised with Ubuntu for Android. A project I was very much looking forward to, but no progress was ever made or code released. The project was eventually scrapped and the team left to focus strictly on the Ubuntu Phone.

Here’s hoping Windows truly will pull off the unified operating system and bring the idea of one device to do everything to reality.

Local Business

I am at the end of a 28 day ordeal with Esurance. And having one of my worst experience with a company in a very long time, I had to share. I will do my best not to have this turn into a rant.

First, a little background. I have been with Travellers insurance since the first day I owned a car. My policy was being cancelled because they no longer offered it. No big deal, they gave me plenty of notice. I managed this policy through an agent, Howland & Sargent (full disclosure, my company, Rivik Media, built the website for Howland & Sargent).

I decide to take this opportunity to shop around for car insurance. Have some due diligence as a consumer, and save some money. I asked Howland & Sargent to come up with a quote, and requested quotes from all the usual companies (Esurance, All State, Geico, etc). Esurance quoted me the cheapest, by a good amount. I asked my agent to review the quote that Esurance gave me. Making sure I was still getting all the coverage I needed at the cheaper price. It all checked out. I was good to go.

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