Info

A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged technology

Tom Morris does an excellent job of highlighting the flaws in the reporting of the TalkTalk hack:

What’s curious though is how the mainstream media have not really talked very much to security experts. Yesterday, I listened to the BBC Today programme—this clip in particular. It featured an interview with Labour MP Hazel Blears (who was formerly a minister in the Home Office) and Oliver Parry, a senior corporate governance adviser at the Institute of Directors.

And what the latter has to say is not what you’d call accurate:

This attack was a simple SQL injection attack. That threat isn’t “changing hour by hour, second by second”. It’s basic, common sense security that every software developer should know to mitigate, that every supervisor should be sure to ask about during code reviews, and that every penetration tester worth their salt will check for (and sadly, usually find).

The short version: TalkTalk’s website security appears to have been terrible, and by allowing inexpert talking heads to distract from that, we’re failing to report the true story – corporate security failings – rather than some vague idea of cyberjihadiis, which seems to have been nonsense all along.

For the first time since 2005, we don’t have a LeWeb this year:

LeWeb takes a break in 2015 and look towards 2016 for the next edition. Quality has always been our driving factor.

It will be strange not getting on the Eurostar to Paris this December, as I have been doing for a decade. However, it makes sense for Loïc and Geraldine to take stock and reconsider what they do with the conference, after the rise of other events – and their reacquisition of it from Reed Midem.

HSBC – my bank – has sorted out its problems and got Apple Pay up and working this morning. Over a morning coffee, I added my debit card to the Apple Watch app on my phone (an iPhone 5S, which isn’t capable of supporting Apple Pay itself), and set off to buy two pints of milk and a bottle of brandy with it.

Yes, there was a good reason for the brandy. No, it’s not the obvious one. No, I haven’t sunk to morning drinking since my second child was born, thank you very much.

My best bet was the local Co-op which is one of the chains supporting Apple Pay. I double-clicked the button on my watch, and held it up to the contactless terminal. A second later “transaction approved” popped up on screen. Job done.

That was easy. Compellingly easy, in fact. No getting a wallet or phone out of my pocket. Just two clicks and pay. Nice and simple.

“Did you… did you just pay with your watch?” asked the cashier.

“Yes.”

“Uh… so, can you do that with any ordinary watch?”

“Uh, no. It’s an Apple Watch,” I replied.

“Oh,” she replied, promptly losing interest.

Well, I enjoyed it.

The Apple Watch is a pretty big chunk of cash for an unknown quantity. To erase the mental pressure myself, and generate some reassurance that I wasn’t blowing the cash, I took myself over to Brighton for a Watch try-on session last week .

I was met by a nice chap called Rich (38mm steel with classic buckle on pre-order, apparently), and guided carefully through the watches. First up with the one I’ve pre-ordered: the 42mm with the Milanese Loop. Would it fit? Would I like the loop?

I was a little concerned. People have joked in the past by comparing me to a tyrannosaurus rex – tiny arms for my size of body. But the 42mm was a very comfortable size on the wrist:

Apple Watch 42mm steel with Milanese Loop

As for the loop – well, wow. It’s a very supple, smooth band, and I immediately understood the comparisons with fabric. It feels beautiful on the wrist, and looks pretty damn good to my eyes, too. The weave is tight enough that I’m not worried about trapping one of the (plentiful) hairs on my arms. A very comfortable wear.

The magnet is surprisingly powerful, and the band feels very secure indeed on the wrist. I’m very pleased – I’m confident that I’ve made the right choice for myself.

Mmm. Leather.

Next up, I wanted a look at one of the leather straps. I’m a big fan of Apple’s recent experiments with leather. I have the brown leather case for my iPhone 5S, and while it feel horribly plastic-like at first, it has aged really attractively:

Iphone 5s leather case

Not to everyone’s taste, I’m sure. But I like the distressed look. The brown leather loop has a similar slightly plastically feel right out of the cabinet, but I’m confident that it’ll age in a pleasing fashion. It works almost identically to the milanese loop, so I really like it as a more casual choice. A good contender for my second band, if I like the watch:

Apple Watch - brown leather loop

I also tried on the classic buckle – and really disliked it. It’s far too “fussy” aesthetically for me. Not something I’ll be buying.

Life in plastic, it’s…

Last up, I decided to try a sports band. I’m hoping to do a bit more strenuous exercise in the near future (I even have a bike – it needs servicing, but I have it). A sports band seems like a good call. But I really didn’t want one of the fluoroelastomer bands as my default. The rubber-like material? That’s just going to be too sweaty.

That said, I was surprised when I tried it on:

Apple Watch Sport - Black Band

The demo case only had a black band attached to a Sport Watch – and it’s really noticeably lighter than the Steel one. The Apple Watch is a noticeable presence on your wrist without being heavy, while the Apple Watch Sport is virtually unnoticeable once it is on. It was less “present” than even my Jawbone UP24. And the band? A very different feel to what I expected. It’s more of a silicone texture to the touch than traditional rubber. Very smooth, very cool.

I still couldn’t see myself wearing one full-time, but I could happily use it for exercising. And I can really see why the back aluminium and black band combo has been so popular. They look great together.

Try-on Specifics

The watches you actually try on are not “live”. They’re running through a demo loop, so you can’t really explore how the watch operates during the sessions. There were plenty of live watches, entered into demo units in the Brighton Apple Store, so I had plenty of time to play with them after the try-on session.

No, the try-on session is about fit and aesthetics. It’s much more of a fashion experience than a tech experience, and that’s a big change. I’m glad I did it – I have the reassurance that I’ve chosen the right initial model and band for myself, and would happily book myself back in, if the watch becomes important to me, and they expand the range of bands.

I’ve actually pre-ordered the brown leather loop, but it’s not showing as shipping until June, so I’ll ave plenty of time to cancel, if I’m under-whelmed with the Watch itself. And that remains the big question: how useful will it actually be once it’s on my wrist?

Apple Watch with Milanese Loop

So, yes, I ordered an Apple Watch. This is pretty much par for the course with me and new Apple products these days. It took me a few months to get around to buying an iPod, but I was there the first day for the iPhone and the iPad, and I regret neither of those. But then, I didn’t expect to. As soon as I saw both of those products introduced on stage at an Apple event, I wanted them.

The Watch? I don’t know. I want to experience it – to get a sense if it’ll fit in my life. And to do that, I have to own it. But I’m not sure (at this point) if I’ll buy another one a few years down the line.

This is the first time in over a decade that I feel like I’m experimenting with an Apple product – and that’s an interesting experience. I’m most interested in the idea that it’ll reduce my focus on my phone. With more notification-base tasks completed on the wrist, I’m less likely to be distracted by all the iPhone-based delights I carry around. But we’ll see.

I imagine I’ll be blogging about it when it arrives (and I ordered early enough that I should be in the initial wave), but that depends a lot on how closely the watch’s arrival matches that of another very significant delivery coming my way…

(I also wrote something for NEXT Conference about today’s Apple Watch sellout.)

Playground

Here’s a good question:

If digital technology saves time, how come so many of us feel rushed and harried? Technological utopians once dreamt of the post-industrial society as one of leisure. Instead, we are more like characters in Alice in Wonderland, running ever faster and faster to stand still. Is digital technology at once the cause of time pressure and its solution?

The (proposed) answer is that we’re making conscious design choices with our technology that need to be challenged – and changed.

Food for thought on a Sunday morning.

(And yes, I’m aware of the irony that I’m blogging at quarter to nine on a weekend morning)

Lovely close to the New Yorker piece announcing the new website:

Publishing the best work possible remains our aim. Advances in design and technology are tools in that effort. In all forms—digital and paper—we intend to publish in the same spirit of freedom, ambition, and accuracy as Harold Ross did when he prowled the halls nearly ninety years ago, the latest model of pencil stuck behind his prominent left ear.

If the relationship between journalism and technology was viewed in that spirit more often, we would not be in the mess we are right now.

Sunset over the Adur

I just wrote a post for NEXT Berlin which has provoked a little more reaction than normal. I admit – it’s a more touchy subject than most, encompassing both a missing plane, and thus many lives at risk or lost. And it takes a side-swipe at the obsessions of the tech business right now. But despite the not entirely positive reaction, I’m pretty pleased with it, because it encompasses a lot of what I believe about blogging, both in terms of process and in terms of exploring ideas.

First of all, on the process front, it reflects one of my cardinal rules of doing blogging well: connect the impetus to blog with the action to implement as soon as possible.

I was procrastinating slightly about posting, because I wasn’t massively enthused about the subject I’d come up with, and then I came across Mary’s Facebook post, and the appropriate neurones leapt up of the cognitive couch, brushed the metaphorical pizza crumbs from their notional chests and went to work.

Why did this get me interested? Well, it invoked two of the things I feel strongly about:

1. Get out of the bubble

This is a serious one. I’ve talked before how I find the intra-journalist discussion about the digital future amazingly dull compared the the conversation happening at the intersection of journalism and everything else. That problem – the echo chamber of like-minded people talking to themselves is everywhere, and it holds us back. When you only look inwards, you keep finding the same old answers.

I feel that the internet of things – as a concept – is locked into that right now. Lots of people borrowing ideas off each other, but basically ending up with the same bunch of products.

This is one of these stories where two worlds come together to make a very interesting possibility. Mash together aviation – and its obsession to safety detail – and the efficient communications skills of the internet of things movement, and you have a very interesting potential partnership. If I could introduce the problem from one side of the fence to potential providers on the other, how could I resist?

Was the timing wrong? I don’t know. If you have this conversation long after the event, then you get no traction for the ideas. In a sense, I was taking my cue from the aviation community, which certainly seemed to think that this was an appropriate time to discuss these matters.

2. Time for tech to grow up

The move to mobile and apps is great and everything – but isn’t there more than this? It feels like the grand tech juggernaut has ground to a halt and has got utterly distracted by finding new ways for us to play games and chat to each other in increasingly simplified ways. Both of these are admirable things in their worn right. But is that really what we’re going to use all this great tech for?

OK, I’m overstating the case. Interesting things are being done outside the startup/apps/VC economy, but you wouldn’t know it from the the tech press right now. I think that needs to change. I think we need to puncture that happy little tech bubble, and start looking more deeply at how it really impacts life outside that sphere.

But right now, it’s past 11pm, I have to be up early in the morning to deliver a day’s training, so I’ll leave further exploration of that idea for another day.

This is the seventh in a series of one-a-day substantive posts I’m going to try to write through March.