The manned space program is at a crossroads. There is much confusion about where its going, and what its next destination will be. Will it be the Moon? a near earth asteroid? Mars? What if we changed its focus from picking a destination to building multi-purpose spacecraft that, like maritime research and exploratory vessels, can travel anywhere.
Three years ago, Alex Tolley and I co-authored a paper for the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society that explored the idea of a spacecoach, a fully reusable interplanetary spacecraft whose mass is mostly water. These ships would never enter a planetary atmosphere, and as such would be simpler to build than a craft that has to endure launch and re-entry (we treated the problem of getting to and from earth orbit as a separate issue for a separate system).
Back to the present - it pains me to see such a lack of transparency in how our elected officials are running our government. Of course, the common man knows it’s common sense that there’s an inherent need for secrecy in conducting small scale covert operations. We do get it.
However, it’s also common sense that it’s inevitable that any complex large-scale long-term operation will ultimately come to light. And so it’s just common sense that any such broad-based operations that might be perceived as impacting our constitutional rights should be the subject of broad public debate. No, not when they’re being prototyped or tested or used in small scale settings - but definitely somewhere on the path from “tactical use” to “broad strategic dependence”.
These are not small issues, nor need they be at all partisan. Wyden, Paul, and others are trying. Theses issues are fundamental to defining the relationship between us citizens and our government in the decades ahead.
If you live in the future:
You won’t drive, autonomous cars will come to pick you up and drop you off, including round trips. That’s why 14 out of 15 car dealerships went bust.
You won’t use paper, all of your receipts, tax documents, contracts, and mail will be digital and sent to a i-mail address assigned to every US citizen. And you’ll view all these documents on your “wall screen”.
Power cords will found no where. Nearly every device will be powered by wireless electricity.
You won’t have a tv, you’ll have a “wall screen” a giant thin film like flexible plastic sheet covering one of your walls which will display a crisp high definition picture.
Touch was so last century. “Look and Think” technology is where it’s at. Calibrated Brain wave readers and eye cameras in the corners of your room can see what elements on the screen you’re looking at and can execute commands based on certain thoughts.
You’ll have 1 super computing pc in your home to which you will connect all your devices and. It. Will. Be. Bad Ass.
The nerd-angst against iOS and the iPhone is reaching new obnoxious levels lately, with tons of blogs posts on Apple fanatics ditching their iPhone for a Galaxy, Nexus 4, Note II, or several other monstrous Android phones. Today it switched gears with a post on what these types would like to see out of iOS7, including the always interesting HN discussions.
While I must admit to be at least somewhat curious about actually living with a enormous phone (mostly because of these posts extolling it), I’m more intrigued by the possibilities of iOS7 and new iPhones. Because I’m still one of those fanatics who hasn’t jumped ship, fine, I’ll admit it.
There a very few things that Siri can do that are actually useful. Dictating messages or emails to Siri is a torturously frustrating task, and even opening apps is ridiculous (how do you pronounce the “+” in “Camera+”? Or “WSDOT”?). I won’t go into every little problem, but rather use some examples of what should be possible.
Better Natural Language Interaction: Siri results pages show the user just how sneaky it really is, it take maybe 1-2 keywords and just assumes from there, causing weird hiccups and tangents. This is tough to solve, but would make dictation much easier—especially edits. If there’s one word that’s wrong in a long text, I should be able to tell Siri which word, and what it should actually be, rather than speaking out an entire phrase over again.
More/Better Workflows: I’m thinking Kontra’s transactional chains, which make arbitrarily long requests possible: “Check weather at and daily traffic conditions to an event at a specific location, only if my calendar and my wife’s shared calendar are open and tickets are available for under $50 for tomorrow evening.” The big obstacle here is that apps are limited to names currently, while tasks or triggers are the what’s most important. I don’t want to say “open Double-U-S-D-O-T” but a more Siri-like “what’s the traffic like?” and have it know that traffic is part of the WSDOT app. ‘Traffic’ is a trigger, like keyboard shortcuts, that reference certain apps.
App Communication Protocols
If one 3rd party app doesn’t use the Dropbox API, or sharing via Facebook, users can still (sometimes) plug into different apps, but it is a delicate dance of double-taps on the screen and home button. A better solution is to setup some kind of sharing framework between all apps, based around file types or user flows. If I’m creating a file of some kind, text document, image, audio clip, whatever, and I want to share it, it would be nice to see every app that can somehow use that file. I won’t go into silly UI ideas of how this might work, but sharing stuff between apps would make ‘multitasking’ so much cleaner.
Pretty straightforward—if I want to let someone use my iPad to check their Facebook, they first see my newsfeed, then log me out to get to theirs. These are inherently personal devices, yes, but they do get shared, and it should be easier to let acquaintances use certain parts of your device without sacrificing your privacy or settings.
Cleaner Notifications/Utility Access
A common complaint about iOS is how hard it is to toggle airplane mode, Wi-Fi, brightness, and other system settings. Android/Jailbroken has had this for YEARS, and it is time for Apple to make these easier to access, and they need to revamp Notifications anyways, so may as well integrate these. I don’t care about a stock ticket or social sharing buttons in Notifications, there’s easily room there for little on/off buttons for each of these things. Or, better yet, revamp the whole Notifications/task switcher/music controller/search paradigm. Again, no UI thought exercises here as I don’t claim to be better than Apple at that, but these things need an update.
Those 4 things alone would make for a huge iOS update, and I didn’t even mention Maps! I know that will get better, and with Google Maps available it’s largely a stale joke at this point. But I digress. I won’t go too into hardware, as I love the iPhone5 hardware and am stoked to just see it faster with an even better camera (as always on the S releases). 2013 is going to be mostly about iOS7 and iPads I think.