Compute Speed Above All Else

The industry is still reeling over the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities disclosed earlier this month. Hard to believe it has only been less than a month since the news broke. These security flaws boil down to an industry putting raw speed and performance over security. It’s easy to understand why because having more gigahertz or cores is far sexier than secure pipelines and instruction sets.

This article is worth a read to give more context why, in some cases, this whole fiasco will help to turn things around and make our entire digital world more robust and less likely crumble under the weight of its own architectural oversights.—threats/meltdown-and-spectre-computings-unsafe-at-any-speed-problem/a/d-id/1330884?


A New Year in Tech

Courtesy of

I took a month-long hiatus due to Christmas, New Year’s, and a family vacation. This is a new year, which means a whole year ahead of tech and security to write about. It’s amazing that the first major security news broke during the first week of the new year, specifically the Spectre and Meltdown hardware flaws in the majority of modern x86 and ARM-based CPUs. Since the news, there have been software patches released, but boy, the performance ramifications are, while rather expected, are also unbelievable.

It’ll be very interesting to see how the PC and mobile landscape changes as a result of these flaws. Ultimately, this is a case of raw performance trumping security concerns.

Crypto Tulips

With Thanksgiving having come and gone and Advent/Christmas upon us, we – for better or worse – start focusing on commerce and buying things. Reading the news, for some reason the cost of Bitcoin has skyrocketed to nearly $10k per Bitcoin. It’s likely going to keep growing and growing to astronomical levels, but this appears to be the beginning of a speculative bubble.

That got me interested in learning a bit of history. This is as non-tech as this possibly can get, but the first major economic bubble in recorded history involves flowers , or tulips more specifically. What we’re probably seeing is the Bitcoin version of “Tulipmania.”

History is bound to repeat itself.

iPad + iOS 11 as Complement Rather Than Replacement

A few months ago, I espoused the merits of iOS 11 as the point where the iPad has become finally become mature enough to be PC-like. As far as getting things done, the addition of the macOS-like dock, split-view, hovering app windows, and other desktop-like features make an iPad actually useful for real productivity tasks. The iPad mini 4 I used, despite its size and older processor, paired well with iOS 11.

Most recently, I made the jump and upgraded my mini to an iPad Pro (12.9″, second generation) and this is where iOS 11 truly shines. Add the Apple Pencil and a keyboard, the overall experience works amazingly well considering iOS’s inherent limitations. For example, using Lightroom CC for staging RAW files from my dSLR is more intuitive (and fun) compared than using my MacBook Pro because of touch and Pencil capabilities with performance on par – or better, maybe – as well. Working with photos on an iPad Pro in general is a joy for a very amateur (bad) photographer as myself.

However, I wouldn’t quite yet call an iPad (Pro or non-Pro) with iOS 11 a real replacement. Even with the additional iPad-specific features, you still face the inherit limitations of working with iOS. For example, backing up files and photos to multiple places still requires having a Mac or PC on hand. I like to have local + cloud backups and it’s much easier to manage them on my MBP. Also with any iOS device, you face the reality of a single Lightning port for anything and everything (prepare for “dongle-hell”). Lastly, being that iOS by design allows installation of applications only from the App Store (a form of security whitelisting, which is great in many cases), many useful utilities are out of reach (some powerful Wi-Fi utilities come to mind). For many users, these limitations aren’t deal breakers and I do suspect many do make an iPad (or heck, an iPhone) their primary and only computing device.

Ultimately, what we see is a far cry from the early days of tablet computing; finally we’re seeing high-end tablets positioned as productivity machines, not just glorified media viewers. A Mac/PC + iPad Pro, I would say, is a very powerful productivity combo for power-users today.