Christopher Kalos

Technology, Hobbies, and New Ideas

An avid techie since childhood, I've finally decided that it's time to establish my own presence on the web, as opposed to outsourcing it to a bunch of social network pages.

Here you'll find musings, my professional history, and anything that catches my interest.

As will become obvious as this page grows, I'm an Apple user, through and through:  When I work, I use the best tools for the job.  Sometimes that's Microsoft-based, sometimes it's Apple-based, and often, it's Linux-based.  Once I'm at home, though, I find that comfort, simplicity, and ease of use trump all of the flexibility in the world.   

Cool counts for a lot.  Simplicity counts for a lot more.

 

Phonebloks/Project Ara

Phonebloks was already an interesting concept, and now Motorola's getting behind it.  I think it's a solid idea for the reason that I think the new Mac Pro is a solid idea: Not all components are rendered obsolete at once.

That said, it's not without problems. 

  1. Size.  Durable, modular connectors take up valuable space.  If you're comfortable with a larger phone, this isn't a problem.
  2. Integration.  The big push in mobile has been to get into System-On-A-Chip (SoC) designs, merging the CPU, RAM, and all wireless capabilities into a single chip. 
  3. Efficiency.  Again, the SoC solution fits here:  You use less power when you're not "leaving" one chip to get to another function. 
  4. Performance.  See above. 

Mobile's a little different from desktop in this regard, and I see a huge potential for this in low-income and underdeveloped populations.  That's a huge market that's massively underserved.  I don't see it selling well to a luxury market, however, and I absolutely expect this to be picked up by the tinkerer/hacker communities.

Just for some basic off-the-cuff thoughts, here's some lifecycles that I've seen for mobile components, in terms of how often they could be replaced:

  1. Displays - Two years.  Apple went through three iPhone generations on the same display, then two more on the Retina Display, and now they're on year two for the 16:9 Retina Display.
  2. CPU - One to three years.  Upgrading is nice, but you can realistically stretch a CPU until it's been outclassed twice before really worrying about replacements. 
  3. RAM - Two to three years.  This depends on the OS, but there's been a push to make things more efficient, not less.  I suspect that this will add some life to the memory module. 
  4. Graphics - Variable.  Do you need to play games on your phone?  Upgrade yearly.  No?  Maybe every three-four years. 
  5. Wireless - Variable.  Bluetooth can probably get by with anything from two years to indefinitely.  Wifi, maybe two-three, again, depending on your own needs.  I've got some devices at home still using 802.11g. 
  6. Cellular - Ideally, every two years.  Power efficiencies, speed boosts, jumps from 3G to 4G and beyond, there's definitely a few good reasons to swap out occasionally. 
  7. Cameras - Whenever you'd like.  If it's even halfway decent today and has a flash, you have to be pretty into snapshot photography to consider this a major factor. 

Honestly, I'm more concerned about the system chassis than I am about the modules:  As things get faster, will you be able to shuffle data to and from modules as quickly as you need?  That goes to the bus/chassis design, and that's something that I would certainly leave to Motorola to solve. 

The new Mac Pro

No reviews yet, but a unit this small, this powerful, and this "limited" actually brings to mind a future in which the computing "core" is irrelevant.  Six Thunderbolt ports, to me, indicates a change in overall design.  Simply enough, those six ports replace the five PCIe slots on the older Mac Pro, while still keeping an HDMI slot free for a display.

I don't think it's necessarily going to be considered revolutionary, as it's just a box with ports instead of internal slots.  Once someone upgrades in three to five years, though?  Removing that one processing "core" and reconnecting everything else within a couple of minutes is going to  cause a brief Eureka Moment.