Tag: microsoft

Episode 68 – Should Automakers Use Android Auto + Apple CarPlay Only?


Welcome to the Citizens of Tech podcast, a dalliance designed to disturb your dutiful day with a delightful distraction. Go to CitizensOfTech.com to distinguish the dudes deftly dominating the discourse today.

Eric, what details do we dangle before our devotees in this delivery?

Today on the show we have In-Car Edu-navi-tainment, The USA’s conspicuous lack of space travel, Microsoft Murdering Another of Ethan’s Beloved Apps, Credit cards with your fingerprints stored inside, Uber are a bunch of jerks, CIL and TIL!

Apple CarPlay & Android Auto As An Alternative To Proprietary Head Units


  • My personal CarPlay experience.
    • Had the system for several months.
    • Been through several upgrades.
    • The good.
      • When it works, it’s great.
    • The bad.
      • When it doesn’t work, the main value prop – not interacting with your phone while driving your car – is negated.
    • Audio apps do not consistently work, period.
      • NPR One is a crapshoot. Sometimes, it never gets to a place where you can see the audio stream choices and select something.
      • Spotify is completely unpredictable. It will launch on the phone, but not play in the car. It will think it’s streaming to a remote Spotify system (I have a Gramofon in my office) even though I’m down the road and there’s no wifi, etc. The solution is to use Spotify on the phone itself to get it to play through the car–and then it’s fine.
      • Overcast seems to work okay for the most part.
    • Apple Maps is the best in-car nav I’ve ever used.
      • Usually, I launch it with Siri. “Route me to X destination,” and it happens.
      • Night mode was finally fixed in 10.3, so that the screen is suitably darkened at night.
      • Real-time traffic and re-routing available. It feels like the future.
      • If you fall out of tower range, you start seeing unpopulated grid tiles. You need data. No offline option with Apple Maps that I know of, and Google Maps isn’t an option (yet?).
    • With unlimited data, using live streaming apps, like SomaFM, become a reality. No fear of overusing your data allowance.
    • I like the interface. The iOS 10.3 update to CarPlay added icons in the upper left that allow for fast switching between audio and NAV – a small thing, but very useful.
    • Siri mostly works. Overall, best voice recognition I’ve had, although it’s still wonky at times.
    • I don’t make calls with it, not that I can’t, just not part of my normal comms flow.
    • Text messaging works great, and I use this often.
    • Apps you can use are still strictly limited. For instance, I can’t use Slack messaging via CarPlay, and don’t expect I’ll ever be able to.
  • Should car manufacturers switch to CarPlay and Android Auto and dump their proprietary head unit NAV interfaces?
    • I would.
  • Does it make sense to start moving to the phone as an option for ALL auto system interfaces?
    • This is actually plausible. Plug the car into the phone, and use an app on the phone to control HVAC, etc.
    • Also a viable bridge to the data available via OBD-II. Why not?
    • Use the app on the phone to maintain a database of what’s going on with the car, and use the cloud + big data munging to predict service intervals, diagnose mechanical problems, anticipate failures.
    • Imagine a repair ecosystem where you have a CEL on, or other known malady, and having local garages sending you bids on the work. Or being on a trip, and finding repair shops that can handle the situation for you.
      • Of course…there is presumably some desire for manufacturers to keep repairs within the dealer garages, so perhaps some resistance to this idea?
      • Although, as I understand it, service departments operate as their own business entities. It’s not like the dealer, the service department, and the manufacturer are one big company. They aren’t.
      • So…maybe?

The US Hasn’t Put An Astronaut In Space Since July 21, 2011


  • “This gap has now surpassed the previous longest US spaceflight gap—2,089 days—which occurred between the end of the Apollo program and the first space shuttle mission.”
  • The US puts astronauts in space via Russia’s program to get them to the ISS.
  • This is due largely to underfunding of NASA by US Congress during the Bush and Obama administrations.
  • The big idea is for commercial space flight, though. Been the plan right along. And that’s coming, but just taking a while. SpaceX and Boeing should be able to send humans into space in early 2019. Sierra Nevada Corp and Blue Origin are other possible players.
  • Once the commercial solution is in play, the expectation is that NASA will never be grounded again.

Microsoft Killing Wunderlist for To-Do



  • Ethan is sad and scared.
  • Without gushing too much, Wunderlist has been amazing.
    • Fantastic cross-platform support.
      • iOS support for both iPad and iPhone (iPhone apps running on iPad are awful).
      • Landscape mode on iPad.
      • macOS support.
    • Instantaneous replication of events.
    • Integration with Slack.
  • To-Do is in preview now. TL;DR. It’s not complete yet. Definitely not feature parity with Wunderlist.
    • Wants your Microsoft account.
    • Import available from Wunderlist and Todoist.
    • Clean look, somewhat reminiscent of Wunderlist.
    • No grouping of lists into folder.
    • No subtasks. Subtasks and notes all imported as notes.
    • Attachments are lost in the import completely.
    • You do get recurring events.
    • No assigned tasks to other people.
    • New “My Day” feature. You can add manually whatever you want.
    • New setting of themes per list.
    • Software license terms don’t fit on the iOS screen without manually dragging the oversized document around.
    • No API that came up in Google. Not listed as an integration option in IFTTT. There is with Wunderlist.

Credit Cards With Fingerprint Readers



  • Mastercard proposal.
  • No battery power required, no thicker than regular cards.
  • Power drawn from terminal, and the terminal doesn’t have to be anything new.
  • But…not as sexy as Apple Pay. You have to go to a bank to get your fingerprint read and programmed into the chip on the card.
  • Yes, the fingerprint data is encrypted, but you have to give that data over to the bank to begin with. Not with Apple Pay.
  • TouchID’s mathematical representation of your fingerprint is stored in the Secure Enclave, on the phone, not in iCloud or anywhere else.
  • So, will fingerprint reading cards become more popular than Apple Pay? Doesn’t seem likely.
  • Is there enough of a market gap where people don’t have TouchID capable phones and outlets that don’t support Apple Pay PLUS people who really want fingerprint authentication for purchases that this tech is going to take off?

Privacy Watch

Uber and iOS Fingerprinting


  • Uber was, at some point in the past, fingerprinting iOS devices as a way to track users.
  • This is against Apple app store policies, so Uber went out of their way to make sure Apple didn’t discover the code.
  • They geofenced Cupertino Apple HQ. (!)
  • The point here is to be aware of what apps can do to track you and your behavior. On iOS, you can disable location services for apps that don’t need it, or set location data to only be available when the app is running.

Content I Like

Oddly Satisfying Subreddit


  • Aimed at OCD people.
  • Indeed, much of what I find there IS oddly satisfying.

Today I Learned

IMAX projectors are bright, really, really bright.


Light from the 15,000-watt lamp in an IMAX® projector is so bright that if it were on the moon we could see it from earth with the naked eye.

If a large log were held in front of the light beam from the projector, it would spontaneously combust.

Programming recursion.

A programming function that calls itself to iterate through a problem or computation. I ran into it where a recursive function was used to generate a set of objects that matched a hierarchical model. Each object would match a leaf node in the hierarchical model. I don’t claim to completely get recursion as yet, but I’m fascinated by the concept.


Is Planet 9 making our Solar System Wobble

I Am Jack’s Wobbling Solar System

Summary: New research indicates that “Planet 9” probably exists, and it may be causing our solar system to wobble. We discuss the findings and implications as well as: the new Macbook (dongles, dongles, dongles!) and the new Surface Studio PC from Microsoft, solar EV charging, how the human race settled the pacific islands, Content I Like, Today I Learned, and more!

Discussion: Is Microsoft out Apple-ing Apple?

  • Macbook Pro refresh – has apple lost its way, or is this a worthy successor?
    • Sleek
    • Light
    • Engineering Marvel – the machine tolerances are razor thin
    • A bit of a disjointed mess?
    • There’s now two different 13” MBPs – with and without touchbar
    • No SD slot
    • Only USB-C ports (2)
    • The age of the dongle is upon us
  • Surface Studio PC
    • Also sleek (though, not a laptop, obviously)
    • 28” Display @ 4,500 x 3000 resolution (192ppi)
      • iMac 27” 5k is 5120 x 2880 (218ppi)
      • 10 Point Multi-touch
    • 6th Gen i5 or i7
      • iMac is 5th gen currently
    • Discrete graphics
    • “Zero gravity hinge”
    • The dial – though I don’t believe that comes with it
    • Price is… steep. Entry level is $2,999 USD
      • 27” iMac is $1,999 with similar-ish specs

Solar EV charging for the whole company… or just one very special employee.


  • Solar Tree
    • 35’x35’ (nearly 11sq meters)
    • Tracks the sun for optimal production
    • Can provide 700 miles of charge per day (probably in Southern California, not in NH)
  • EV-Arc
    • Single space unit
    • 9 Solar panels
    • 120 Miles of charge per day (again, California/Nevada, we presume)
    • Battery will store charge for night charging / off grid power
  • Both have the advantage of shading the car to prevent cabin oven syndrome(™)

Is Planet 9 making our solar system wobble?


  • Have you heard of Planet 9?
    • Theorized to be massive
    • As yet unobserved
  • Thanks the preservation of angular momentum, our solar system has a mostly flat orbital plane
  • The sun appears to be at a 6 degree angle respective to the rest of the solar system
  • Only maybe we’re the ones at a 6 degree angle…
  • And maybe Planet 9 is to blame
  • Researchers at CalTech seem to think so
    • Planet 9 is theorized to be 10 times the mass of earth
    • That’s ~5,000 x the mass of Pluto – so no, Pluto is still not a planet.
  • 4.5 Billion kilometers from the Sun (20x the distance from Neptune to the Sun)
    • ~900 Million kilometers further than Pluto, roughly the distance from Earth to Saturn.
  • So if it’s really there, then why haven’t we directly observed it?
    • Estimated orbital duration: 10-20,000 years.
  • According to mathematical models, the 6% tilt fits perfectly with Planet 9 being these dimensions and distances
  • Is this a case of “dark matter” or Einstein’s “fudge factor” in the Theory of General Relativity?
  • “It continues to amaze us; every time we look carefully we continue to find that Planet 9 explains something about the solar system that had long been a mystery,” said one of the researchers.
  • If it really exists, there’s a pretty decent chance it will be directly observed in the relatively near future.

How did humans settle the Pacific?


  • By boat, obviously. The question is one of pathways. From where and to where did we go?
  • We have no certain documentation or history that explains this.
  • We can only surmise based on a limited amount of archaeological evidence and a mashup of data.
  • The data was used to extrapolate prevailing wind patterns that would help explain the probable settlement routes. ”The authors used a Seascape computerized model that randomly selected frequency-weighted monthly current and wind data collected by the US Navy’s Marine Climatic Atlas of the World. It combined these probabilistic weather patterns with the speeds for small seafaring vessels, although the precise type of ship used for various migrations is not known. The sailing patterns the model produced were combined with land distribution data to determine the most likely short-hop trajectories between islands. Trajectories started in the eastern Philippines and Solomon Islands.”
  • Here are the big findings.
    • Palau was settled from starting points in the Philipines and Maluku to the west.
    • Mariana Islands were settled from North Guinea and Bismarck to the south.
    • Chuuk was settled from the Solomon Islands.
    • Samoa was likely settled from West Polynesia, although there is no archaeological evidence for this.
    • The Marquesas would have been jumping off points for Easter Island to the east.
    • Both the Marquesas and Society Islands jumping off points to the Hawaiian islands to the north.
    • New Zealand was likely reached via the Society islands to the north and east.
  • The model accounts for seasonal changes in the winds as well as the hemispheres.

Content I Like

Alone in the Wilderness


In 1968, at the age of 52 Richard Proenneke moved to the wilds of Alaska and lived there in simple, relatively solitarily. This was his retirement. He brought a satchel of hand tools and built a log cabin, garden, storage containers, etc. He lived alone, with occasional shipments received via airplane. Largely he hunted, fished, foraged, gardened and canned his food.

He kept journals and recorded much of his initial site work and home building on 8mm film which were later combined and narrated for the film.

Today I Learned

Polar Bears are invisible to night vision goggles


It’s due to the number and density of their hairs and how they bounce light around.

Canada has more coastline than the rest of the countries of the world…… combined.