Open Governance for AMP

AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages a protocol with some controversy and largely orchestrated by Google is now being essentially given back to the developer community in part by a new open governance that from initial reaction looks like the developer community is going to get behind.

For those of you that do not run websites what AMP does is essential in making ordinary website load much faster through mobile devices. While AMP has always been an Open standard up to this point Google largely dictated what got executed and when.

Google highlighted that 710 contributors, and 10,000 commits of which 78% came from other companies than Google. So these changes announced today look to be significant.  From their blog post:

Instead we want to move to a model that explicitly gives a voice to all constituents of the community, including those who cannot contribute code themselves, such as end-users. The change we are proposing is based on months of research, through which we’ve decided to follow the lead of the Node.js project and move to a consensus-seeking governance model.

The team that worked on the AMP Open governance model had a short list of goals.

  • Encourage a wider variety of voices at all levels of contribution, including code contributions, setting the future direction of AMP and deciding which features and bug fixes should be worked on.  This also means ensuring that the voices of those who do not contribute with code, but are nonetheless impacted by AMP, get heard.
  • Make it more clear how an individual and a company can have a voice in AMP, from approving code changes to setting AMP’s technical and product roadmap.
  • Avoid slowing down day-to-day work on AMP due to the governance model.  The net effect of changes to the way people work on AMP should be neutral to positive in terms of productivity.
  • Learn from what’s worked and what hasn’t worked for other open source projects.  To this end, the AMP team talked to people from projects such as Node.js and Kubernetes, looked at governance philosophies from places like the JS Foundation and reviewed a wide variety of other open source and web standards governance documents.

Overall this is a great move by Google and should hasten the implementation of AMP. See the full details of their announcement.

How to turn off your Kids Cell Phone

Ever asked the question how do I turn off my kid’s cell phone? Well, there is hope as Google has introduced Google Family Link which gives you parents a lot of power in controlling what your kids are doing on their mobile phones. Family link lets you set screen time limits, approve or block apps that can be downloaded from the Google Play store. Or best yet lock and or locate your kids through the device. Nothing better than the ability to exert control over the cell phone usage.

Family link is available starting next week additionally Family link is designed to work with anyone automatic for 13 and below and for those above 13, they have to mutually consent to allow parents monitoring and control of the phone. Teens that think they are slick and decide to opt out after Family Link has been enabled causes the phone to lock for 24 hours.

Parents can use Google Assitant to lock the phone. Have you every yelled you’ve got five minutes to go to bed? Well, Google Assistant will lock the phone five minutes after your initiate the phone lock. Now the kids can be mad at Google as well as you.

Having a third teenager in the home at this time with a cell-phone this added parental control is nice especially when it comes to an unruly kid. I am pretty strict on screen time as it is now and have some basic rules in place on apps and usage. Teenagers will be teenagers though and they will push the boundaries as far as they can like we all did. My dad hung the car keys over my head as an incentive. The modern equivalent is the lock phone command.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

Robocalls are Interfering with my Business

Robocalls are at a point where they are now interfering with my business largely because my team is on cell phones. Yesterday I received 14 business calls and 32 Robocalls and the volume is only increasing. My blocked number list has now grown to an ungodly size and due to number spoofing, they just spoof a new number. I can now detect a robocall with seconds of answering my phone. The high majority of these calls originate overseas and they always have some service to sell my business.

I have to watch myself as I answer the phone because when I pick it up I am assuming its a robocall and not a new or existing customer. With the ability of these marketers to spoof a telephone number it is nearly impossible to screen for them. When a call comes in from +100000000000 you know its a robocall, but when the number comes in from a normal number it’s really hard. With people refusing to leave a voicemail these days I have no choice but to answer every call.

It’s really driving me crazy because we have a distributed work-force the high majority of my team are on cellphones. It gets worse the marketers are now even targeting our 800 number which gets a handful of these calls a day. I am not alone, talking with other business owners their frustration has grown as well. Today I looked at the iOS App Store and of course, all the Robo blockers are premium. Makes you wonder if they are not in cahoots.  In a future article, I will discuss whether the app I found and am paying for has helped or not. The only way to fight fire is with fire using the tech at our disposal to try and get the upper hand on these bad characters.

The National do not call list only really works on legitimate companies that are following the rules. The bigger issue is the off-shore folks that have 1000’s of people in phone centers who are trying to get you on the line long enough to do their pitch. I am sure it’s a numbers game to them but it sure drives me insane.

Alexa Controls Optoma UHD51A Data Projector

Amazon might be planning a plethora of Alex-enabled devices over the coming months (according to CNBC and covered by Todd), but Optoma’s voice control into their HD projectors right now. Here’s the Alexa-supported 4K Ultra HD projector, UHD51A.

To get the boring out the way, the UHD51A is a very capable ultra HD DLP (digital light processing) projector with a resolution of 3840×2160, pushing out 2400 lumens, with High Dynamic Range (HDR) compatibility, two HDMI ports and HDCP 2.2 support. A 3000 lumens version is available in the US but not the UK.

The exciting bit is that the UHD51A can be controlled by Alexa with a range voice commands to manage both the projector itself and media playback.Here are some examples.

Alexa, turn on/off <projector name>
Alexa, change volume to 8 on <projector name>
Alexa, change input to HDMI 2 on <projector name>
Alexa, change input to VGA on <projector name>

For the built-in USB media player

Alexa, play on <projector name>
Alexa, pause on <projector name>
Alexa, next on <projector name>
Alexa, rewind on <projector name>

To be clear, the projector doesn’t have Alexa built-in and you do need an Echo or Dot to work alongside the projector, but it’s still pretty cool.

If you want to voice control your video, the Optoma UHD51A will set you back about US$1,699 or GB£1,549 on Amazon at time of writing.

Amazon Reviews Removed by Bribe? #1313

Amazon Reviews apparently can be manipulated by a simple bribe. Goes to show you that Amazon is likely not paying their employees enough if a payment from $80 to $2000 can get sales reports, negative reviews removed and a whole bevy of nefarious things. Tonight I cover that and other top stories and lay out some re-involvement I am going to have in the content of the website. It is time my voice was back on the front page of the website along with my writing team. Lots more to come here as I re-inject myself beyond the show recording.

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Chinese Industrial Espionage and IP Theft

espionageEveryone with half a brain realizes that the efforts behind Chinese industrial espionage and IP theft have helped fuel their economoy. They are masters of stealing and duplicating tech that they did not build, design and or create.

One only has to go to any trade show and watch vendors throw covers over their newest products when the Chinese spies enter their booths. These teams operate in the open and are pretty slick they will have one guy taking 100’s of pictures of the new product, one flipping through menus, one or two taking notes and one guy scouting out the next product.

Experienced vendors know who these teams are, and what they are doing and are often helpless to stop the spies from examining with great detail the latest and greatest products from a targeted company. I do not blame companies for trying to hide prototypes or limit exposure to products not yet on the open marketplace from this type of espionage.

The administration is hammering China with new tariffs which contrary to many thoughts on this I think is a good thing. I would like to see some additional penalties be put in place for much of the outright espionage and IP theft that happens as well.

One only needs to go on Alibaba to see the knock off’s. Equally depressing is that these knock off’s end up getting licensed and branded to be put on the market around the world under murky distributor brands. Like I said the Chinese are great at copying and duplicating. It is to bad that they could not spend an equal amount of energy in creating their own products.

But why spend time creating when you can just steal and copy.
Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash


Is Social Media Making us Sick?

social mediaOver the past six months, I have really tried to limit my non-work utilization of Social Media. I found in a way that it was making me sick, both physically and mentally. I found myself sometimes feeling actually sick to my stomach and most definitely causing me to be moody.

I tried clearing putting friends on snooze or unfollowing them all together as there was this underlying anger and ongoing small snipes here and there. Frankly, most of the conversations were not conducive. I will admit that it is very hard to take a break and still find my time on Facebook more than it should be.

Facebook has become the crack for tech-addicted geeks like me. I know I should not be on it but cannot help myself to take another hit. My business requires me to monitor up to a half dozen groups where customers go first for help often times versus visiting the support page to get a professional from my team to help them.

Frankly its all frustrating and one thing I have made a commitment to, is coming back to the blog here at Geek News Central where I have full control to go on full blast mode about these types of topics that have been bothering me.

I can only hope that you will join me in taking some breaks from social media so we do not have to hit the facebook crack pipe as often.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Amazon Flooding Marketplace with Alexa

CNBC is reporting that Amazon is going to flood the marketplace with at least 8 more Alexa smart home devices. I pity households with a wife our daughter named Alexa lots of re-programming will be happening in those homes. My home already has three Alexa devices and honestly I am not sure we really need another.

The new devices include a microwave oven, amplifier, receiver, subwoofer, and an in-car gadget. This is an incredibly smart strategy by Amazon to try and lock in the consumer households. This is Amazon’s first move into home consumer devices.

After all who wants to push buttons on the microwave when you can tell Alexa to re-heat the pizza for 60 seconds. With an aftermarket car device, they bridge the gap from non-digitally connected cars to give older models the ability to move into the modern world. The next question is Alexa going to drive us to the office as well.


An Apple By Any Other Name Would Sound As Sweet

The new Apple iPhones announced last week have been analysed to the nth degree. They’re all very understandable and credible additions to the evolutionary tree of species iPhone. However what I can’t understand is how anyone thought that the new names were worthy of these otherwise excellent devices.

Much as Apple would like everyone to pronounce the Roman numeral X as a number, iPhone 10, plenty of people call their own phone the iPhone Ex. No doubt the Applerati will condescendingly sneer at this social faux pas, but that’s the reality. You’d think that Apple would have known from OS X but apparently not.

And now we have the iPhone XS – “excess” – and the iPhone Excess Max which slaps on the irony with a $1000+ price tag. It’s like a riff on Harry Enfield‘s “Loadsamoney” character from the 1980’s- “Hey, look at me, I’ve got an iPhone Excess Max and I’ve got loadsa money!”

To be fair, it is very hard to come up with product branding that combines track record with improvement and excitement: you only have to look at Windows 3, NT, 98, ME, XP, 95, 7, 8, 10 to see how difficult it is. But this is Apple. They embody excellence and we all expect better.

The automotive industry has been at this a long time and they’ve learnt a thing or two. Mostly they stick with the brand, product and model, and then simply iterate the year. Ford Mustang GT 2018.

Apple iPhone Plus 2018. That’s what I expect – taste, style and refinement.

With apologies to William Shakespeare.

Where is Larry Page #1312 – GNC

The big question some are asking is where is Larry Page. He seems to have really gone underground for a long time according to internal sources at Google. While not entirely true he is definitely not as engaged as he once was and in my opinion should the man not be deserving to do what he wants. He has built an empire only second in size to Apple and that’s saying a lot. Additionally, Apple did not have one more thing besides a phone, but they really got my attention of the Apple Watch Gen 4. I am definitely going to see if any of my kids want to buy my Gen 3 so I can upgrade. I really am intrigued by the ECG function. I give you all a couple of homework assignments tonight so let’s see if your paying attention.

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