Weekend’s Top 8 roundup – 19th Dec

The week before Christmas and we have lots of self-driving stories making the headlines, Apple finally releases the AirPods in time for Santa’s stockings, Uber makes a massive loss, lasers help kill cancer and we are finally shown how to eat chicken wings properly.

The week before Christmas and we have lots of self-driving stories making the headlines, Apple finally releases the AirPods in time for Santa’s stockings, Uber makes a massive loss, lasers help kill cancer and we are finally shown how to eat chicken wings properly.

  1. Google’s Waymo, car driving company, releases its first car
    chrome_2016-12-24_12-48-23Waymo, Google’s self driving company (I hadn’t heard of it either), has released its first vehicle in partnership with Fiat.  A mini-van souped up with the latest technology to make it see through the streets.

    This is sort of thing that could make mini-vans sexy again.  Remember that infamous scene from Get Shorty?

  2. Apple’s new found AirPods are available to purchase
    chrome_2016-12-24_12-50-36.pngApple finally announced that AirPods are available for purchase and at a $159 for a pair, this is not an impulse buy.   Apple drew a lot of criticism when it released the latest iPhone without the traditional 3.5mm audio jack; relying purely on BlueTooth technology.  Being someone that uses BlueTooth all the time, not a major upset that the manufacturers are taking away this port; Samsung is rumored to be removing it from their next Galaxy.

    Though the issue with the AirPods is the fragility of losing $159 worth of headphones by simply walking or moving your head.  Can you imagine the panic when you lose them inflight and they fall?!?!  We’ll have AirRage I tells ya.

  3. Blackberry is back; this time as self-driving company
    chrome_2016-12-25_06-20-00.pngSo you may not be able to make a call with the once dominant handset manufacturer, but you could let it drive you to the shops or work.   Blackberry has rebranded itself and launched into the self-driving market space, positioning it’s powerful QNX operating system at the heart.

    This is a bold move and it will be interesting to see if the market will tolerate the branding to stretch this far.  Once again, Blackberry is going into a very tough market, positioning its QNX up against the likes of Linux, Android and Java.

  4. Uber net income over $5.6B, but on track for a $3.3B loss for 2016
    chrome_2016-12-25_06-23-59.pngThe size of Uber cannot be underestimated.   It is a company that is innovating on so many fronts than simply democratizing ride sharing.  Uber, while private, is thought to be valued at around the $68B space, making it larger than even GM.

    However, it is still struggling to make money, as the amount of legal challenges mount and it finds increasing competition from the likes of Lyft (who incidentally GM investor in).

  5. 20 years ago this week, Steve Jobs came back to rescue Apple
    chrome_2016-12-25_06-32-16.pngWe live in Internet years, which each year feels like a few.  It was only 20 years ago that Apple was really struggling both financially and innovatively.  Hard to believe considering the powerhouse the company is today, which its huge stockpile of sheer raw cash at hand.  But one man was all it took to turn the fortunes around, through the launch for the iPod and then the iPhone.

    The question many investors have been asking today though, who is there to rescue Apple today?  With Microsoft taking the lead in releasing sexy and desirable products, anything can and will change in our industry.

  6. Prostate cancer gets the laser and deep-sea bacteria treatment
    chrome_2016-12-25_06-39-53.pngAs I approach that time of life when the body can’t take the same level of abuse it once could, and every ache and pain lasts for weeks instead of hours, I get a huge amount of faith in the advances in medical science.

    This week in the UK successful trials in treating prostate cancer using lasers and bacteria found at the bottom of the ocean.  Though the article was a little light on detail on exactly where the laser would be shot!

  7. Sleeping on planes just got a little easier and quicker
    chrome_2016-12-25_06-45-06.pngAny warrior of the sky knows that a good sleep on a plane is a hard thing to obtain. The company PowerSiesta has come up with a rather ingenious $17 product that is a flat pack cardboard pillow, that once erected creates a nice shelf for your head to rest on.

    We’ve seen this before, and as a homage, to the man we’ve all seen for over 20 years in the SkyMall magazine.  Though in all my air travels, never once have I seen anyone use one.

  8. Finally, how to eat chicken wings
    chrome_2016-12-25_06-49-10.pngThere are some viral videos that make you laugh, make you cringe, make you cry, but every so often one comes along that truly changes your life.  This week, with the help of BD Wong, this one teaches us how to eat chicken wings.

    You wouldn’t think it would be too difficult, but I have always felt I leave way too much meat behind in my fumbles with knives and forks.


… and given that this is the week of Christmas, I give you a wonderful Christmas tune from fellow atheist Tim Minchin, who sings a beautiful song about simply being together at this time of the year.  So whatever denomination you are, at the very least, enjoy your weekend.

An “uber-fication” of the Internet

You hear a new word, you wonder how it got out there, or even what it means. Confused?

Sitting at lunch reading this month’s, Fast Company, I spotted a phrase that made me angry. Not the flipping of a table angry, more the exasperated smiling through grinding teeth simmering anger. The phrase that set me off was uber-fication. It was used in a context to describe how innovate and disruptive a given a company was being.

Eh? What could they be talking about?

Are they talking about a company that has empowered the individual, by creating a network to bring two or more people together to execute a business transaction. Maybe instead they mean a company that is challenging the conventional wisdom of a given industry, turning it upside down through the use of connected technology. Or uber-fication is the empowerment of the individual to make a decision in real-time without prior complicated negotiation or contract commitment.

It seems to suggest there wasn’t innovation or disruption until Uber came along. Like we had to wait until Uber came along to give us a word to describe this business phenomena. I can’t help but feel we had a word that embodies this long before Uber was bastardized into a verb. Now what could that word be?

Oh I remember now … of course … the Internet.

The Internet has been the most disruptive and innovate vehicle in arguably the history of humankind, including the printed press and the telegraph. Where the Internet won over the printed press and telegraph was its accessibility to anyone; there are no barriers to someone to get online and have a presence.

Many dreamed big. Many failed big. But those that dreamed were mocked by the very industries they were taking on (Amazon, NetFlix, YouTube, Google, eBay to name some of the big disruptors).

Uber is merely another example to add to this list. They haven’t done anything these leaders haven’t done some 20 years prior. Uber has done to the personal on-demand transport industry what eBay did for classifieds, or Amazon for books, or YouTube for broadcast. They connected one user with another, to facilitate a transaction. Airbnb is another example in the hospitality sector. There are countless examples — many of them predate Uber.

So let us not forget and diminish the very spark that lit this fire that is fueling all this innovation and disruption, and allows Uber to exist. Stop trying to be trendy and make up words when we have all the right words already.

It is called the Internet. Pure and simple.