Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Swiss watchmakers skeptical of smartwatches

Swiss manufactures are leery of Smartwatches and I can see why.

This week, Baselworld is happening. Baselworld is the largest convention of Swiss brands; showcasing their new watches for the year. A perfect analogy would be the CES Electronic show for gadgets and the Barcelona Mobile Congress for mobile phones. This is the conference for watch geeks.

The timing is also perfect segue-way into discussing Smartwatches and how the old industry sees this new trend. Is it a threat? I don't think so. Sure, young people don't wear watches any more but the fact remains, there will still be an audience for luxury goods.

This is an interested read in the New York Times today. The article is pretty much dead-on why Swiss companies are not embracing smart watches. This article is typical of the great writing that the New York Times is known for.

A few salient points:
1) The quartz revolution of the 70s. It was a fad that nearly killed the industry but they got back stronger than ever.
2) They got burned on previous ventures. E.G. Swatch and Microsoft
3) Luxury buyers want craftsmanship. They used exotic cars as an analogy and I believe this to be true. There will always be buyers for Porsches and Maseratis despite what is new from Toyota's hybrid tech.
4) It goes against the anti-thesis of the marketing - Swiss made, hand made, artisan craft. A lot of the allure of a Swiss watch is the provenance and lineage. People like the idea something is hand-crafted built; using technology that is 200 years old. Myself included.

In the luxury segments, the Swiss has a lion's share of the over $1,000 timepieces. There are no watches in my personal Swiss collection that is under $2500. People who spend that kind of money want craft and longevity. Electronic gadgets have a useable lifespan of 3 years before the next generation of cool things come and go. Watches last decades. They transcend generations. The watch pictured above is a "re-issue" of the Omega Seamaster 300 that Omega just announced at Baselworld 2014. The design goes back to the late 50s.


Having the itch for a new desk

I'm thinking about getting a new desk for the bedroom.

Either the Nelson Swag Leg Desk or Eames EDU.

The Nelson Swag Leg Desk.
Designed by famous George Nelson in 1958, it is a design icon.
It retails for $2150. I have the chair pictured below, an Eames SoftPad Management chair.

The Eames Desk Unit (EDU). 
Designed by Ray and Charles Eames in 1952. Retails for $1400.

Both are design classics and both are manufactured by Herman Miller.

I can probably get an EDU for arounf $900 if I look around on Craigslist. The Swag Desk is harder to come by and discounts are rare.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Microsoft makes source code for MS-DOS and Word for Windows available to public

Microsoft finally makes the source code for MS-DOS and Word for Windows available for the public.

The original operating system is pretty old and out-dated. It is a nice gesture for future generations to ponder against. The source code is less than 300KB (Kiloybites!).


Source code here:

PG&E EV-A Rate and understanding my utility bill.

We live in the San Francisco Bay Area and we get charged quite a bit for electricity. $200-300 a month PG&E utility bills is fairly common for a regular household.

I just switched to PG&E's new EV-A rate (for owners of Electric) cars and I am happy as clams. It has been a good solid four months and I am very pleased with the results.

Deciphering a utility bill is pretty hard for many people. I work with fairly smart people but 9 out of 10 do not understand how they are being charged for electricity.

So this blog post will attempt to explain how I've switched my utilities plan. It will also attempt to explain some concepts that is fairly vague to even University professors I know.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oddities at Frys - car shaped mice

I don't go to Fry's Electronics much but when I do, I always get a kick of some weird stuff they carry.

Today, car shaped computer mice (mouse) that light up. I don't think they're very ergonomic but my kid likes them. They also go for $40. The Lambo and C6 Corvette looks pretty sweet.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Android Wear and the Moto 360

Google recently announced their new wearable platform, Android Wear. They will concentrate on watches first. The platform is suppose to extend the reaches of the Android eco-system to wearable gadgets.

One of the first announced piece comes from Motorola in the form of the moto 360.

And apparently, it is frothing with enthusiasm on the Internet. Really? Elegant? Classy? Yep, those are the remarks I've been reading. Really? The watch looks like cheap Movado, Citizen, mall watch knock-off. And another comment, why does the guy in the coffee shop  (pictured above) needs a cappucino AND an expresso? I get it, they want you to think he is some cool,hip dude with a cool, hip watch in a cool, hip coffee shop.

I have pretty high standards when it comes to wristwatches as many people know, I collect them. But this moto 360 is really ugly. It is the kind of watch you see on lay-away at the local mall.

I don't know enough about Android wear to even speculate but in terms of wrist-watches, I'll definitely stick to my mechanical Swiss made Chronometers. It must be my age but I don't see the appeal in these items as they're disposable. Unlike an IWC or Breguet, these aren't the type of heirlooms you want to pass down another generation. Unlike a Rolex Sea-Dweller, Omega Planet Ocean, Blancpain 50 Fathom, or Panerai Luminor, these aren't the type of watches you want to take rock climbing or snorkeling. I like patina on my watches. I wear my Omega Seamaster Professional SM300 to fix the car, rigorous housework, or anything dangerous. So what if my $2,000 beater diver's watch gets scratched up. It gives it a natural aging patina. Electronic gadgets? They look like crap when they're all scratched up. Battery life? Who knows. All I know is when I am on vacation, I don't even want to think about an electrical wall outlet. Which reminds me of my youth; backpacking abroad. I remember having nothing but my Rolex GMT Master II in Bali for a week. I never had to plug it in every night. Never took it off to do any physical activity. I can't imagine the same thing with one of these electronic watches that need daily recharging.

It must be the sign of the times or I am getting old.This is an area I won't even get into.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Plugable USB 3.0 SATA Hard Drive Dock w/ ASMedia and UASP

$25 on Amazon. This was a pretty good deal and I have been having some problems with my other SATA docks lately so I took a chance with this one. This is the Plugable Communicator U3 USB 3.0 dock and it comes in white.

It has all the right specs: ASMedia 1051E and the latest firmware with USB Attached SCSI support (UASP) enabled.

Here is how it shows up on system profiler.

The speed is pretty amazingly fast.

First, here is is witha 3TB Seagate 7200 Barracuda spinning hard drive. That is close to internal storage.

A newer Crucial M500 240GB SSD. 430 MB/sec reads!

On an older Samsung 830 SSD.

For comparison, the Samsug 830 SSD (same drive) in a different USB 3.0 enclosure. To be exact, an Anker 2.5 USB enclosure found here on Amazon. Same drive, different enclosure. Big difference just due to the chipset and UASP support.

$25 is a pretty good price for a USB HDD dock. Overall, I'm pleased.

Amazon Link: