Material Design

Google is introducing a new design language.  It’s called Material Design.  Look’s pretty sophisticated and modern.

The goals of Material Design:

Create a visual language that synthesizes classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science.

Develop a single underlying system that allows for a unified experience across platforms and device sizes. Mobile precepts are fundamental, but touch, voice, mouse, and keyboard are all first-class input methods.

The great thing about Material Design is that they are releasing toolkits for Android, iOS, and the web (via Polymer) so developers can create consistent user experiences across most devices.

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Lot’s of interesting design concepts and paradigms.  Android app developers have a lot of work to do between now and the Fall, when the next major of Android is released, to say the least.

Source: Google Design

Apple + Beats

Apple buying Beats is officially a thing:

Apple has just confirmed plans to purchase Beats Electronics for $3 billion. The acquisition ranks as the largest that Apple has ever made and will see it take ownership of an enormously successful and profitable line of consumer headphones as well as a burgeoning subscription music service. Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will also join Apple as part of the acquisition, which it will pay for with $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in stock.

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Source: @tim_cook

 

I was only mildly surprised when I first heard the rumors.  $3 billion ($2.6 billion + $400 million stock) is a relatively inexpensive manner to acquire the expertise (electronic manufacturing & design + music services) and hire Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

I’m also not surprised some Apple fans are so dismissive of the deal.  The sentiment being Apple is known for quality, Beats is known for brand and marketing.  I challenge that sentiment by saying Apple and Beats are pretty similar (from my perspective).  Both companies are known for design, branding, and lifestyle.  They sell products at a ridiculously high margin (for hardware anyway).  Those products are aspirational in naturwe.  I think it’s a pretty great fit.

Source: The Verge

Google’s Self Driving Car

 

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Impressive.  Cute.  Self driving cars, by Google.  Really interested in hearing more regarding the technology behind this self driving prototype and the eventual consumer version.

We’re now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they’ll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. They won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal… because they don’t need them. Our software and sensors do all the work. The vehicles will be very basic—we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible—but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button. And that’s an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people. 

Would be cool if we could get one of these with a VR6 engine am I right?

Source: Google

Google Fiber in Cary, North Carolina

On February 19, 2014, Google announced it was bringing it’s Google Fiber service to 34 more cities across the US in addition to areas its currently building out.  Every city in the Triangle is eligible for getting Google Fiber, provided a certain set of prerequisites are met.  Those conditions include completing a fiber ready checklist and conducting in depth studies evaluating everything from existing infrastructure to topography.

Cary (and other Triangle municipalities) passed the first hurdle recently by submitting their fiber ready checklist to Google.  A fiber hut license agreement was also approved with Google.  A fiber hut is a structure that will be used by Google (and potentially other providers) to store network and fiber infrastructure equipment.  It will be used to connect homes to the fiber network to be constructed.  Cary will need 3 to 5 of these fiber huts to support a Cary build out.

Google Fiber "Hut"

Google Fiber “Hut”, Source – comptechrt.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Fiber diagram resolution

Google Fiber Hut Diagram, Source – googlefiberblog.blogspot.com

More on the role of a Google Fiber Hut:

The hut connects Fiberhoods – or gerrymandered fiber zones – to the ring.

Thousands of individual glass fibers enter the hut and send signals between your computer and the internet. From the fiber hut, cabinets – called telecom cabinets – make the network even more complex. These cabinets can be seen on the side of the road in front of neighborhoods. They divide the fiber into bundles which travel out of the cabinet to groups of homes. A fiber cable then travels from there above ground on telephone poles – a much more cost-effective deployment than the alternative – or continues underground delivering a single wire to each individual home with Google Fiber Gigabit internet and TV service.

Source: WABE

The great thing about the agreement is that providing this same deal of other potential service providers is a requirement.  So if AT&T so desired to adopt a similar infrastructure, they could get access to the same pricing and terms that Google gets.

I’m pretty eager, if the Triangle is selected, to observe the actual build out.  In a good portion of Cary, infrastructure is buried in individual neighborhoods.  For example, in my neighborhood, my house  is provided power, cable (coax), and telephone service using an underground infrastructure.  Luckily, along the main roads, a lot of it is carried on poles.  With that said, I witnessed the AT&T U-Verse fiber build out (AT&T runs fiber to a neighborhood VRAD/termination point, then uses existing copper cabling to connect existing homes).  I noticed they buried all of their fiber, so Google may go the same route.

The inkling of Google bringing their fiber network to the Triangle has forced AT&T to get their act together and they announced a gigabit build out in collaboration with the NCNGN (North Carolina Next Generation Network).

In my experience, the Triangle, is one of the luckier places in the country in that many communities have access to 2 or more decent solutions for internet and cable.  I was a longtime Time Warner subscriber, who switched to AT&T U-Verse (though I currently only have an internet subscription, but I’ll be bringing TV back in time for football).

The Town of Cary has a great website where they post the latest information as they progress on the adventure of bringing Google Fiber.  I’m looking forward to connecting my in-home gigabit network to the internet at gigabit speeds.

Why is Google Fiber important?  Local competition, incumbent providers have gotten comfortable (and lazy).  Services, content, applications, etc. powered by the internet continue to evolve.  This evolution will continue to increase demands on infrastructure.  Google Fiber is forcing providers to rethink the value they offer to consumers.  The infrastructure being built will undoubtedly  spur innovation.  Faster, more advanced networks provide more opportunity for growth, creativity, and innovation than slow networks.

A Coding Analogy

If I ever teach a computer science class anywhere, this is the introduction I’m placing on the syllabus…word for word.

“Imagine joining an engineering team. You’re excited and full of ideas, probably just out of school and a world of clean, beautiful designs, awe-inspiring in their aesthetic unity of purpose, economy, and strength. You start by meeting Mary, project leader for a bridge in a major metropolitan area. Mary introduces you to Fred, after you get through the fifteen security checks installed by Dave because Dave had his sweater stolen off his desk once and Never Again. Fred only works with wood, so you ask why he’s involved because this bridge is supposed to allow rush-hour traffic full of cars full of mortal humans to cross a 200-foot drop over rapids. Don’t worry, says Mary, Fred’s going to handle the walkways. What walkways? Well Fred made a good case for walkways and they’re going to add to the bridge’s appeal. Of course, they’ll have to be built without railings, because there’s a strict no railings rule enforced by Phil, who’s not an engineer. Nobody’s sure what Phil does, but it’s definitely full of synergy and has to do with upper management, whom none of the engineers want to deal with so they just let Phil do what he wants. Sara, meanwhile, has found several hemorrhaging-edge paving techniques, and worked them all into the bridge design, so you’ll have to build around each one as the bridge progresses, since each one means different underlying support and safety concerns. Tom and Harry have been working together for years, but have an ongoing feud over whether to use metric or imperial measurements, and it’s become a case of “whoever got to that part of the design first.”
This has been such a headache for the people actually screwing things together, they’ve given up and just forced, hammered, or welded their way through the day with whatever parts were handy. Also, the bridge was designed as a suspension bridge, but nobody actually knew how to build a suspension bridge, so they got halfway through it and then just added extra support columns to keep the thing standing, but they left the suspension cables because they’re still sort of holding up parts of the bridge. Nobody knows which parts, but everybody’s pretty sure they’re important parts. After the introductions are made, you are invited to come up with some new ideas, but you don’t have any because you’re a propulsion engineer and don’t know anything about bridges.”

Generically speaking, this is hilariously true to a large extent.  There are some unique & interesting dynamics on software engineering / developer / programming teams vs. engineering teams in other fields (like civil engineering for example).

One of the greatest things I’ve read in a long time.

Source: Gizmodo