Alexa: To Trust or Not to Trust

Posted by Jacob Date: February 15, 2017

It seems that Amazon’s Alexa is all the rage and new fad for the middle-to-upper-class American, who can’t afford a human personal assistant and/or butler/maid. We have seen the various commercials at how convenient Alexa is. She can purchase household necessities via Amazon for you, look up movie times, play music; she can also hook up to the array of smart electronics you have in your home like TV or lights. All you have to do is give Alexa the command and it is done.

Alexa truly makes life a little easier for the family of 4 with both parents working and children active at school and in their community. She also provides nice perks like turning on and off the smart TV and dimming the lights to certain rooms. Alexa is better than Siri and the modern day technological advancement that is shaking up the mainstream, open to the public artificial intelligence (AI) community. With all of this convenience, who would not want Alexa in their homes?

The caveat, and probably the most crucial deterrent to getting Alexa… She is always listening. If you are paying attention to the tech world, you must have stumbled across the picture of Mark Zuckerberg with his MacBook camera covered and microphone port obstructed by now. What does Mark know that we do not? That is, someone is always listening and/or watching. Thus, leading us to Alexa, a device that is seemingly always listening.

Although her activation word is her name, Alexa, what is the device doing in the between “activations”. Does she go into a sleep mode? No. Her seven microphones are picking up every word that is said, whether you are across the room or right next to you, even while music is playing, in hopes that you drop her name to direct her to do something. So, where does all of this captured audio go? It goes into the infamous depths of “the cloud”. What is this cloud? It is a place in which data gathered by Amazon, in this case, is stored and kept at the ready to be recalled at any time.

So, with all of this in mind. Should you Alexa or not? Is this artificial intelligence device that is designed to adapt to me truly worth the $150? We here at TekiFeed definitely cannot answer that for you. However, we can provide you with the facts and allow you to make the decision for yourself. Whether “you have nothing to hide” or not, do you really want someone or something listening to every word you speak, every click of your mouse, or every time you scratch your butt?

The Internet Of Things (IoT)

Posted by Jacob Date: December 7, 2016

The Internet of Things (IoT), with its ever-expanding presence, is increasingly becoming a hot topic in homes of the future. It is indeed an extremely powerful concept-turned-reality that can impact our working styles at offices as well as our living standards within the comfort of our own homes. IoT depends on machine-to-machine connections and aims to ‘smarten up’ everything in our lives: from the thermostat in your bedroom to the streetlights in the neighborhood, and even the city’s largest seaports. With Broadband internet becoming easily accessible to one and all at much lower costs and the Wi-Fi enabled devices becoming more prominent in the smartphone market, the world is brimming with loads of potential for IoT. So is it really the ‘next big thing’ or is it not worth all the buzz surrounding it? Let’s delve a little deeper.

  • What exactly is the Internet of Things?:

The concept of IoT was first introduced in 1989 when an internet connected toaster was unveiled in a conference. Since its conceptualization, it has been discussed at great lengths among the tech analysts and corporations alike. To put it in its simplest form, IoT is nothing but a connection of multiple computational devices, objects, humans, animals, digital or mechanical machines all communicating via the internet, enabling them to learn who we are, who everyone else connected to the web is, and various applications. One of the most common examples of this can be a smart fridge, one that can tell that your cheese is stale or you’re low on lunch meat, simply by looking at its expiration date with its internally installed cameras or force sensors to determine the meat’s weight, and notify you via a screen on the front panel or alerting your phone.

  • IoT Applications in today’s world:

When it comes to household applications, for example in Britain, the government has been persistently stressing energy companies to introduce smart meters. These meters employ IoT to let the user control heating remotely and turn it on and off depending on the usage. It’s not just limited to smart appliances and smart homes; IoT today, has magnified to include smart cities as well. In smart cities, IoT can assist in managing transportation, reducing waste and monitoring crop growth in agriculture. In the future, the IoT connected cars can save lives by sending real-time data about a wreck’s location and intensity to the emergency support teams. This technology can also integrate GPS with related online applications to act in accordance with the driver’s preferences such as traffic alerts, routing, fuel pricing etc.

This futuristic technology is definitely here to stay and will eventually make our mundane tasks more exciting (at least for a little while) while saving us a lot of time and resources. But, before we blindly embrace IoT in our everyday lives and invest our riches into the field, let’s take an unbiased look at its potential.

  • Advantages of IoT
  • The more information is available to us, the easier it becomes to make better decisions in day to day life. From seemingly mundane tasks such as knowing your updated grocery list to keeping track of materials that a vendor supplies to your enterprise, IoT can have you covered ubiquitously.
  • IoT can cut down manufacturing and production costs for business owners by automating the entire process, thus, saving money and time. A portion of these savings can, in turn, be transferred to the consumers as they will get to purchase new technologically enhanced products at cheaper rates, thereby, increasing the standards of living,
  • It can help monitor and identify health issues. Parameters such as blood pressure and heart rate can be monitored and the data can be sent to the concerned doctor for analysis.
  • Disadvantages of IoT:
  • One of the major setbacks associated with IoT can be a loss of privacy and security since a lot of information related to household appliances, travel and transportation data, industrial and digital machinery etc. is prone to attack by the hackers. Lessons should be learned from the recent massive attack on the Internet infrastructure company Dyn, that posed problems for Internet users in the US and Europe, disabling a plethora of sites including giants such as Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, and Amazon. Such a serious incident should force the tech industry to brace the security of their networks. Emerging geo-fencing technology can be used to rebuild the boundaries of information sharing and bar IoT from accessing sensitive applications or data.
  • Also, IoT can cause over-reliance of humans on technology which has its own detrimental effects. Younger generations are growing up with a much easier accessibility of resources over the internet and a technological glitch can cause a catastrophic situation if we become too dependent on IoT even for our simple day-to-day chores or decision-making. Even a small
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Is Apple Losing Its Dominance?

Posted by Jacob Date: November 29, 2016

Is Apple Losing its Dominance?

The Apple Craze: historically defined by long serpentining lines of fanatics anxiously awaiting the release of the highly-anticipated newest generation device to replace the one they currently own that will soon become obsolete. For many years in a row, Apple led the web traffic oniOS over its rival Android, recording an impressive number of sales even in countries where Android devices were considered to be more popular. Apple’s high-end usability and exclusive prices bestowed on it the brand of a status symbol, making it a direct indicator of fashion and wealth. But since the death of Steve Jobs, the landscape seems to be changing, and not in a positive manner for this behemoth company.

There seems to be a dearth of the same product vision, business model creation approach, and consumer passion inducement that Jobs possessed, which led Apple to outshine all others in the gizmo world. The Silicon Valley giant has rejoiced its position as the most valuable company in the world for a span of almost five years but it incurred a huge blow this year as its revenue in the second fiscal quarter dropped by 13%, according to the reports. So, was the current Chief Executive Tim Cook accurate in his defense that  ‘Apple is going through a ‘pause’? or is the company’s best days behind them? Let’s take a look at some recent developments:

  • Apple has suffered a huge setback in its key global markets such as China. The finicky customer base in China is getting increasingly attracted to try options from competitors such as Xiaomi, Huawei, and Meizu. Not only do these companies offer their models at a cheaper price, their specifications are also at par with that of iPhone.
  • One of the major challenges for Apple is that although their new products captivate and create new customers, there is an immense lack of innovation and outstanding features in the subsequent iterations of the once-cool models. After the launch of 6th generation iPhone, Apple failed to reinvent itself with the launch of 6s that came with only marginal changes. At the same time, tech giants like Google are emerging with their own stellar line-ups of futuristic products like Pixel to threaten the Apple ecosystem. With attractive options such as unlimited storage and powerhouse specifications, Google is surely expected to shake up the market and raise the bar of competition.
  • It is true that artificial intelligence on phones was a brainchild of Apple, in the form of virtual assistant Siri, but not much progress has been made since then. While Google Now has emerged as a clear leader in AI department; firms such as Facebook, Nuance and Amazon have entered the space as well and are beginning to dominate it.
  • The majority of businesses have been using Microsoft Windows-based PCs over the years and when it’s time for replacement, they simply continue with the system that has the least deviation from the current one as employees are more accustomed to using it. Also, they generally stay away from Macs due to the lack of business program and application availability/cost as compared to the ones available on Windows platforms.
  • When it comes to capturing the home automation industry, Apple also seems to struggle as firms are required to go through a cumbersome procedure in order to collaborate on product development. Interested companies need to be accepted by their licensing application program called Made for iPod (MFi) that regulates overabundance of third party accessories for all i-devices. This certification process not only requires over a year for completion, but the companies also have to pay licensing and certification testing fees at each successive level. This is in stark contrast to Amazon’s, open-ended community driven approach, giving it an edge in the race for home automation dominance.
  • The iPad is a significant device in the tablet marketplace but over time cheaper Android tablets have been launched and are gnawing at its iPad’s market share increasingly. Microsoft’s Surface Pro range boasting of features like powerful Intel core processor, full Office, detachable keyboard with a trackpad, pen, touchscreen and external ports is offering a stiff competition to iPad Pro.

Concludingly, Apple has been a victim of sluggish growth in the smartphone marketplace. Apple’s key markets like Europe and the United States, haven’t demonstrated a lot of interest in upgrading their current phone with newer versions of iPhone or any other high tech smartphone, due to lack of new innovative features. There is still a great chance for Apple to hold its ground by cashing in on the brand’s popularity and the niche it has created for itself over the years. It is high time for the power of simplicity that Steve Jobs brought to the table, pioneering the way for Apple to become the world’s most … Read full article

Virtual Reality: The Gift of Choice for Christmas This Year

Posted by Jacob Date: November 21, 2016

Get your wallets ready. According to consumer electronic forecasters, the 2016 holiday season is all about Virtual Reality domination in the Christmas gifting market. Virtual Reality, with its cutting edge technology, has taken a huge leap this year with the introduction of full-blown simulated reality experiences encapsulating audiences. So, it is time to keep up with the tide and get your loved ones the perfect gift of modern Virtual Reality this holiday season. But first, let’s take a look at the journey this groundbreaking invention has made over the years and why it has finally earned a spot under the tree this year:

The crude concept of creating Virtual Reality experience for users has been around for a number of years, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s that Morton Heilig, a cinematographer envisioned this experience as a means to stimulate audiences’ senses and to entice them to interact more effectively to the stories being narrated. Many of Heilig’s dreams and visions paved way for the future of VR technology, and what it has become to be known as. In the 80’s, Sega’s Master System 3D glasses were launched, a headset that recreated a 3D effect in a more personalized user setup. Around 1995, Nintendo tried its hand in this arena with the introduction of a 3D red-and-black based headset, called the Virtual Boy and various 3D games like Mario’s Tennis, Wario Land Series, Teleroboxer etc. In the late 90’s, a company named Virtuality Group, began introducing players to a one of its kind arcade experience called ‘the Virtuality cabinets’ which put them in a 3D polygonal world. They introduced several fast paced games such as the Zone Hunter as well as a special version of Pac-Man. It was only after the company Oculus VR jumped in, that the VR technology got a major uplift. Their first device, Oculus Rift, launched a kick starter campaign and played a key role in making VR experience wildly popular among the masses.

Be it the high-end PlayStation player or the softly seasoned VR vet, there are a plethora of options available that won’t break the bank, and let your loved ones enjoy the experience of engaging in virtual reality at any time and place of their choice.

  • Ideal for the kids, Mattel View-Master at $20, is an advanced version of the classic Mattel and is amazingly durable and fun to keep them indulged.
  • Google Cardboard, compatible with most phones in the market, comes at a reasonable price of $30 and is the closest gateway to VR.
  • For Samsung phone owners, the Samsung Gear VR, priced at a modest $99 and boasts of some of the best quality reality content combined with Oculus touch.
  • The Figment VR iPhone Case doubles up as a virtual reality viewer. Available at $55, this is compatible with the iPhone 6 generation and later and makes Virtual Reality more accessible by letting you load up your Youtube 360 VR video or Google Cardboard.
  • The PlayStation VR, Sony’s PS4-high end headset, essentially pitched as the ‘must-have’ Christmas gift of this season, avows 50 superior quality games for core console customers and comes well under $800 coupled with a console, headset, and camera.
  • Oculus Rift, the poster child of VR technology provides the revolutionary gaming experience with full 3D immersion to the user; also priced at $800, this device is powered by developmental tools that give freedom to anyone to build their own game from scratch!
  • If you have a photography enthusiast friend, the Samsung Gear 360 camera is hands down the best spherical panorama camera available in the market for them. This comes with fisheye lenses that can capture an impressive 30 MP images and also shoot time-lapse high-resolution videos.

The dawn of Virtual Reality gaming has created a lot of buzz and excitement about the future prospects of this sector. With tech giants like Apple, Samsung, and Sony are showing a groundswell of interest in this space, something extraordinary is definitely anticipated. The GameFace labs, claims to have developed a 2.5K prototype with its own lens technology and promises to make the VR experience more conventional and accessible with its content distribution platform uniting game developers. There is also some buzz regarding the use of nanotechnology to push the boundaries of Virtual Reality and literally allow images and/or scans of the human brain to be uploaded into a computer system. Virtual Reality can also emerge as a powerful teaching tool; enabling people to be fully present in a different world, exploring the foreign countries and reaching the depths of the oceans. In the long run, it is expected to enrich the way we socialize and network with people around the world, by providing a platform to collaborate, share moments, sing karaoke or simply hang around in a virtual environment … Read full article

What Will The Next iphone Do?

Posted by Jacob Date: November 18, 2016

While most people either hate Apple or love them, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the company. I was a huge PC fan until I discovered the Macbook Pro. And I was a Google Android fan until I discovered the iPhone 4s. I loved the customization options of Google’s OS but hated having to deal with constant crashes, bugs, and freezes. After initially writing the iPhone off as the one-size-fits-all, boring-people smartphone, I soon learned of the immense stability and reliability the simpler iOS had to offer. Eventually, the utilitarian in me won over, and I converted entirely to Team Apple shortly after.

Next year marks a decade since Apple unveiled its (at the time) signature mobile device that could play music AND make calls.

The next few iterations made huge strides, pushing the forefront of technology and the standard to ever-increasing levels. The more recent iterations…not so much. With Steve Jobs gone, and the most recent annual update being an improved camera and an eliminated headphone jack, many of us are left wondering, is the iPhone really a big deal anymore? Well, the boys over at Silicon Valley have about a year to prove to us that it is.

Let’s take a look at what may be possible in next years’ iPhone 8.

Hello and Welcome to my Website!

Posted by Jacob Date: November 15, 2016

Hi and thanks for checking out my new site TekiFeed. I am excited about the future. Stay tuned for upcoming content!