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LanceLetter: The smart phone isn't going away; 3D printed home; Laptop woes

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LanceLetter

March 1 · Issue #219 · View online

Stuff that matters.


Roaring into March like a lion

Still a classic
Still a classic
We’re not replacing the phone
With a saturated smartphone market, some believe it’s time to look beyond our beloved pocket devices. One CNBC story posited that the industry is ready to “replace the smartphone.”
They’re not. Companies like Apple make billions–each quarter–on smartphone sales. People spend hours on their phones, never leaving home (if they ever do) without them.
Why is everyone talking about what comes after the smartphone? Mostly it has to do with Apple and its alleged plans to bring AR glasses to market. Some believe these goggles will augment up your iPhone, bringing the cellphone display to the translucent screen in front of your eyes. Others think the Apple Glasses could be a self-contained computer.
I think that no matter what Apple does, it will have a minimal impact on the trajectory of the iPhone. I do think the entire smartphone industry is on the precipice of some contraction, especially as some struggling third-and-fourth-tier companies collapse, combine, or walk away from the segment.
I also think this notion of the end of the smartphone is driven by an imagined future. When I watch Star Trek Discovery on CBS+, I always marvel at the CGI-generated pop-up screens that appear from mini projectors on their wrist. They’re sharp, interactive, and entirely fungible. That’s the future we want, not eyewear that we must look through to see just-okay screens.
3D Printed Real Estate
I want to take a field trip to America’s first 3D printed home for sale to the public, which happens to be nearish me on Long Island. The 1,900-foot model looks cool (and might be physically cool because it’s 3D printed concrete) and could list for as little as $299,000.
It’s been a long journey since I wrote about a 3D printed hut in 2014, but from the looks of this CNBC video, this home is the real 3D-printed deal. I noticed that the printed walls leave space for wires and piping, but what is it like to drill through those walls or even try to hand a picture?
I have so many questions and, honestly, I must see this place in person.
An old laptop tale
I have a stack of old laptops in various states of operability and disrepair. Last week, I grabbed one of them, a lightly used Lenovo Flex 3, in the hope that I could bring it back to life and put it to use.
We’d purchased the Celeron-based, touch-screen convertible four or five years ago for my son to take with him to Scotland. While there, he hit a virus site and the whole thing was converted to a Japanese Windows interface. I reset the system and then gave it to my wife. But it was never the same. It ran slowly and the only way to get the touchpad to respond was by tapping it (the button function was dead).
Eventually, she gave up on the system and I shelved it.
Last week, I decided to do a hard system reset, letting Windows wipe all previous data and scrub the hard drive. To my surprise, the system came back. Even the mouse pad was working again.
I noticed, however, that a lot of Lenovo’s bloatware was also restored to the system, including MacAfee, my least favorite security suite.
I started using Add/Remove programs to uninstall as much of this software as possible. When I chose to uninstall McAfee, I got a stern system warning (generated by McAfee, naturally) that my system was now at risk. I continued anyway.
To complete the process, according to McAfee, I had to restart the system. I did that and, guess what, the laptop will no longer boot to Windows. Worse yet, nothing I do makes a difference. It’s like McAfee killed the laptop out of spite.
As a last resort, I visited the Lenovo site to see if I could download a Windows image to reinstall on the Flex 3. Unfortunately, the budget laptop doesn’t qualify for an image download.
Temporarily defeated, I put the laptop back not the shelf. I may eventually try to switch it to Linux, if I can find a lightweight enough version, one that won’t overtax this 1.3 GHz system.
NFT artwork
Get ready to hear a lot more about NFT artwork, that’s digital pieces of art and even sports highlights tied to non-fungible tokens in the blockchain space. It’s a way of verifying authenticity and ownership, and, jacking up the price of intangibles. Apparently, it’s all the rage. I do not get it.
Did you watch the Zoom Golden Globes? They were both impressive and impressively bizarre.
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