Bill Gates was the only person who had one, which he tried to show off as often as he could. In 2010, Apple debuted the iPad, and before long tablets were all over the place. So, on behalf of people we know -- and there are more than a few -- who either sneer at tablet computers or aren't sure they need one, we turned to David Needle, editor of TabTimes.com, for advice on what kind of tablet to buy -- assuming we need to buy one at all.
Last week you had a chance to ask "Chairman Bruce" about the state of sci-fi, dystopian futures, and the modern surveillance state. Below you'll find his answers to those questions, including who would win if he fought William Gibson and Neal Stephenson in a no-holds-barred battle.
Virtuix Omni "is an omnidirectional treadmill video game peripheral for virtual reality games currently in development by Virtuix," says Wikipedia. With this device and an Oculus Rift, Razer Hydra or a similar "immersive" headset, you can play games equipped to use these devices with your whole body moving in any direction you choose. If you think you saw this product on the Shark Tank TV show or a pitch for it at Kickstarter.com, you're right. You did. The Virtuix Omni people have been pushing their product hard, everywhere they can. Tim ran into their product manager, Colton Jacobs, at the recent AppsWorld conference in London. This video is Tim's record of their conversation.
One of the founders of the cyberpunk genre, Bruce Sterling needs little introduction to science fiction fans. You can read what "Chairman Bruce" has to say at Beyond the Beyond on Wired and the Sterling tumblr. He has agreed to to sit down and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Seeing Through Windows blog on Computerworld.com or possibly his IT World blog, The Power of One, may be the main reasons his name is familiar to a lot of people, but he's also written an amazing stack of IT-related books. Obviously, if you look at the lists of blog posts and books Preston has written, he writes about plenty besides Microsoft, and isn't particularly pro-Microsoft. In fact, when we asked him for tablet-buying advice, he recommended iOS tablets if you have plenty of budget, and maybe an Android tablet (specifically the Nexus 7) if your budget is a little tight. Windows? He didn't recommend Windows at all in this context. (Sorry, Microsoft.)
With his popular Getting Started in Electronics, and Engineer's Mini-Notebook series and a number of different electronics kits sold at Radio Shack, Forrest Mims inspired countless scientists and engineers. Even though he received no formal academic training in science, Forrest has appeared in 70 magazines and scientific journals. He has worked as a consultant for the National Geographic Society, the National Science Teachers Association, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Today, Mims works on many scientific projects including climate change research. He's agreed to answer all your questions about science and engineering. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
When he's not lecturing at Stanford or NASA, Alan Adler is working on brewing the perfect cup of coffee and engineering flying toys. His AeroPress is one of the most popular coffee brewing systems available and one of his Aerobie Pro Rings set the world record for the farthest thrown object at 1,333 feet. Alan has agreed to sit down and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Dan Rosenbaum is the editor and publisher of Wearable Tech Insider, which means he covers wearable technology every day. He's obviously a good person to chat with if we want to learn what's going on in the wearable tech world. So we did just that. The overall sense we got is that wearable tech is less of a gimmick than it was a few years ago, but isn't necessarily something all of us need quite yet. One note here: Dan is not a Google Glass fan. Watch the video (or read the transcript) to find out why.
£10 BlinkStick kit (£15 pre-assembled), you get a programmable multi-color LED that's about the size of a flash memory key. Deceptively simple -- it's essentially one giant pixel, after all, which might not sound exciting when you have millions of them on a dense display surface. But that LED light is something you can use as a signal for alarms, or to tell you that you have a message from one app while another is at full-screen, or practically anything else that you can devise software to notice and react to. I get the sense that Juskevicius would prefer that people get the kit version, to help spur interest in actually soldering some hardware rather than just plugging it in. If you're allergic to paying in other than U.S. dollars, the BlinkStick is also available from Adafruit Industries. Watch the video below to see it in action.
Berin Szoka is president and founder of the tech policy think tank TechFreedom. The group promotes a wide variety of digital rights and privacy issues. Most recently, they have started a petition demanding reforms to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) so that law enforcement will have to get a warrant before accessing emails stored in the cloud. With so much attention paid to the NSA snooping, Berin believes that the over 25-year-old ECPA has been overshadowed and is in dire need of changes. Mr. Szoka has agreed to answer your questions about privacy and government policy online. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
dirty looks, though it's far from alone. At this year's DroidCon in London, I talked with Epson Europe product manager Marc-Antoine Godfroid about a very different kind of head-worn display: the Moverio BT-100. Epson's display is running a Google operating system, but it isn't competing with Glass, at least not directly. The hardware in this case is a relatively high-definition stereo display meant for immersion (whether that means information overlays or watching recorded video) hooked to an external control unit running Android, rather than the sparer, information-dashboard, all-in-one approach of Glass. One other big difference: Epson's stereo, full-color headset is cheaper than Glass, and available now. Hit the link below to see what it looks like.
Seraku Corporation is now in the process of filling that burning need and has gotten a bunch of press attention by doing so. A cynic might wonder why people who absolutely, positively must have Internet access while they shave or perform other bathroom mirror duties don't just make a wall-mounted holder for their tablets next to their pre-Internet bathroom mirrors, but that would destroy the fun of having the display built directly into the mirror, along with sensors that detect hand gestures so you can control your mirror (no doubt by asking, "Who is the fairest of them all?") without touching it with your greasy fingers. Note that this is technically not a smart mirror but a smart washbasin with a mirror attached to it. Either way, it's not available for retail sale quite yet.
Healthcare.gov website doesn't work right. Slings, arrows, and brickbats are being slung all over Washington, and Congressional representatives are busily thundering imprecations at all and sundry who were involved in putting Healthcare.gov together. If there have been any Congressional hearing focusing on how to fix the problems, though, we have not seen them. You'd think that our representatives would bring in people like today's interviewee, Todd Williams, who has written a book titled Rescue the Problem Project and runs a company that specializes in rescuing failed projects. What's more, Todd is just one of many Americans who have helped rescue projects that have gone awry. Hopefully our government has at least one of them working on Healthcare.gov by now, although we haven't heard that they've selected a strong turnaround manager and set him or her to work on the project -- and you'd think they would have told us if they had.